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Thursday, April 24, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAYS 63-64

I think the thing I'm most delighted about with the challenge is how the exercise element is becoming a habit.  A true, genuine habit.  I so missed my workout on Monday, and writing about it helped me realize that without it, the day isn't quite right.  So what to do about that?  Just make sure there's 30 minutes FIRST THING that doesn't get absorbed into checking e-mails and facebook.

Saying NO to sugar has become a habit too.  Yesterday, at my little day job, our manager came back from the front office with a half-tub of large chocolate chip cookies.    She came to each of us with it, but when she got me, she said in a very cute way, "I'm offering, just to be polite, but I know what you'll say."  And I thought to myself, "Darling, if you ONLY KNEW how many years a tub of cookies like that would have dictated the rest of the day.

What a RELIEF, yes a RELIEF it is to just have those things come and go, like at social events where alcohol is served, and I don't even think about politely saying, "No thanks."  Over. Done.

It's a beautiful spring day here. The marigold border is in on one side of the front door gardens by the front porch/door.  I'm going to go do the zinnia seeds right now, then by Saturday, it'll all be done.  Marigolds booming, azaleas on their way, black-eyed Susan's putting out new leaves like crazy, growing, and zinnia seeds to make it ALL sparkle later in the summer.  We're not fancy gardeners, we just like old-fashioned stand-byes that tolerate the afternoon sun with no shade.

It's so exciting to know that by the time there are zinnias blossoms, in their glory filling
the front window, I'll be 9 months into being sugar-free, and blossoming just beautifully in other (much sweeter) ways, and hopefully glorifying my Father in Heaven with a purpose-filled life to better celebrate the lives of those I'm blessed to call my family and friends, and readers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAY 62

It was such a gorgeous spring day today!  I got my workout and scripture reading in FIRST, and oh, what a difference that makes.  Sacred time, both of them.

I spent 30 minutes in our front garden area before going to work, then returned to it at dusk.  Bob helped me finish getting ready for ZINNIAS!

  The last 2 years we have been too busy/pre-occupied to get our zinnia seeds in (plus the Dollar Store didn't have the seeds that have worked so well for us) and oh, how we MISSED them!  So I got out there this morning, and removed the fading daffodils (so sad -- but next year will come) to prepare the ground for the zinnia seeds that I bought at Amazon.  So exciting.

A gentle rain had really softened everything, making it possible to dig up a little bush that had totally died.  It always puts new meaning on "getting to the roots" when you dig something out, and hack it all apart.  I could wax eloquently (or at least pretend to?) on how this applies to the Challenge, but will save that for another day, in favor of ...

HULA HOOPING! I'd ignored the 3 we have for years, but tonight in the garage they caught my eye.  I've never been able to keep one up, but maybe I'll add this to the challenge as well.  There's nothing like it for building core strength, according to a friend that works at CURVES, who has the flattest, cutest tummy in the world (after 2 children.).

I asked Bob if he could do it.  He said that at one point, he could.  But tonight, neither of us could, so we just laughed it off.

But my MIND is off to the races.  And my fingers flew to YOUTUBE.  Wouldn't it be a blast if we could BOTH hula hoop and that be our talent for the Family Reunion this summer?  Wouldn't those 8 little grandkids get a kick out of a Grandma and Grandpa who had worked up a routine to some fun music? My grandparents never did anything like that.

Here's the YOUTUBE "How to Hula Hoop for Beginnners, and who knows.  Maybe by the end of the challenge, I'll post a video of me doing it ... 

How to Hula Hoop for Beginners

Oh, life is fun and a joy to share.  How thankful I am for my mortal body and this journey called earth life.

Monday, April 21, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAYS 59-61

I just love this photo (found on FB today) ... It says it all!  And I DO feel that I have changed between the time I started this blog last October, and now.  It's quite remarkable, but for me,
with a couple of weeks "off" when we had so much family activity and I was less able to follow things, my official finishing date is the day before my 60th Birthday:  May 15, 2014.  I can't think of a more remarkable change to have made for myself.  Free of sugar, and diligently following a healthy eating and exercise plan for 12 weeks without "starting over."  With a plan and a personal commitment to just jump right in again the day after my birthday.

Let's see -- I think it's taken my whole life to feel as confident as I do now.  And  that this is truly permanent, with a vision of both how I will feel, choose and look as I enter my sixties, and beyond.

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Pennyslvania Dutch Country -- an Easter tradition for many, many years for our family.  The food served there is legendary.  But there are just as many lovely fresh veggies and lean meats to choose from as anything else, so that's what I did.  I had tastes of a few other things, but we just passed up the whoopee pies, donuts, cupcakes, and the dessert bars, along with the cookies that used to be the highlight of our trip to the Farmer's Market.  We came home with pickled beets, sugar-free apple butter, and a whole lot of really fun memories. 

We had such a good time.  Just me and Bob, sitting on a vista viewing the farm land and reading out loud on Easter Sunday from Darla Isackson's beautiful Easter Meridian article.   Bob always checks out some gorgeous illustrated children's holiday books from the library to enjoy.  We attended the Ephrata Ward, lovely people.  And drove and drove through the country side. 

Our long traditional walk on Easter morning through the Amish village of Bird-In-Hand was close to the farm house where Amish were gathering for Church, so many of them were walking and we all wished each other "Happy Easter!"

He is Risen!  He is Risen, indeed.

There are so many lovely things to live for.  It feels delicious to have food in its proper place.

They called me in to work an hour early this morning.  It took my workout time, and, sadly, I didn't get to it when I got home.  I missed it, and am ready to FOCUS and NOT MISS ONE MORE WEEKDAY WORKOUT until my Birthday, on May 15!

I am down one more pound -- but also learned (Bob had a doctor visit where he was weighed) that our scale is 2 pounds. light.  Does it matter? No.  What matters is the overall progress, the focus, the freedom.

Yes, sir! Luvin' it --

Friday, April 18, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAYS 56-58

Easter Weekend!  It's been such a cold week.  Very pretty on several of the days, but not warm at all.  It doesn't matter when we're warm inside, which is what Easter is all about, for all the most lovely reasons.  He is Risen!  He is Risen, indeed.

Easter candy has been a biggie for many years for me.  Those Cadbury eggs, the malted milk ball eggs, the chocolate bunnies, the cream-filled everythings .... not to mention the Hershey kisses in all the pretty pastel foils.  For many years, true confessions, I ate far more than our kids, and looked forward to the excuse of eating it while filling Easter baskets and the little plastic eggs to hide for our hunt.

Not this year.  Not at all ... And the true freedom is that I won't even care all that much.

We bought another little veggie steamer last weekend.  There are double-decker that cook separate veggies on the layers, but this was identical to the other one we have, and again, less than $5 at a Thrift Store.  I think people don't know how cool these are and just give them away.  So now we have two, and will happily use both!

We steamed TWO delicious fresh veggies tonight:  beets and brussel sprouts.  Bob likes them hot with vinegar.  I like mine cooled down, with a little pickle juice (either sweet or sour) straight from the pickle jar for pickled veggies.  YUM.

We talked about sugar at dinner while we ate our veggies ... That we miss it, but not the down-side of it.  I wrote all about missing it in October, and I don't know that that will ever change.  Just like I miss really wonderful parts of raising children, or homes we have lived in, or times of life that were especially fun or rewarding.  Yes.  We miss it, but for Bob, not the blues it brings, and for me, the instant and clamoring more-more-more that lasts for a good long time after eating it ... especially chocolate.  I do NOT miss that!

This morning, while finishing my upper body workout, there was such a euphoria after finishing with the 25-pound dumbells.  As I put them down, my own arms felt so free and so light! I wiggled and wave them again and again ... and thought about how free and light and happy it feels to have the pressure to eat sugar gone.  And of the Savior and how he takes away burdens and sadness ... and literally the weight of the world with his willing sacrifice. 

I treasure Easter, and the joy of spring, and want to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible to celebrate life, and express gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the privilege of being granted a physical body for my turn here on earth.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAYS 53-55

I am not sure at all where the days go, but fly-they do!

My last entry, we were just getting ready to head off for our little get-away.  Our son Spencer and his wife had given us a gift-card for a Marriott weekend that we finally had a chance to use!  Soooo fun. Swimming is one of our great treats, so we made sure we stayed at one with a pool

Guess what -- my old swimsuit, which had seen happier days to begin with, has gotten TOO BIG. Especially up top. This is NOT sad news by any account, and we stopped at the mall for a little shopping before departing.  I actually bought a cute swimsuit.  I'm determined to buy a smaller one before the season really starts, but this was a great "in-betweener" and I could really see my progress since starting the challenge.  YAY.

It was easy to make pretty smart food choices -- although spreading it out into 6 little meals was not that easy, and I let it go, concentrating on the regular choices in the Body For Life program on Saturday, with Sunday being a Free Day.  I also exercised on Saturday morning before leavings, so that Sunday could be my free day.

I didn't go crazy, but still treated it as a free day, and ate more than I usually do. We found a lovely little "Country-Cookin" place that had an "order-the-meat-and-get the salad-bar-free."  It was all kinds of healthy stuff, so I ordered the grilled shrimp and had my own party.  No dessert other than a sugar-free vanilla pudding with some fruit, and a very tiny taste of some overly-sweet chocolate concoction that almost hurt my teeth.  That taste is quickly proving that I just cannot do it as I used to ...

As I say, I did eat more than I'm used to at this point, and left (for the first time in many months) overly full.

For many years, I ALWAYS left a restaurant overly full, and after that last meal, I've decided I like that a whole lot better.  That several hours of feeling uncomfortable, and the scale being higher for several days after is NOT worth the moments of pleasure. At least for me.

The real point of it is, is that food and eating out is not a "be-all-end-all-you-gotta-eat-till-you-pop" kind of experience for me anymore.  It's just a nice thing to do -- and moderate amounts and no dessert can still be a LOT of fun!

We saw a huge range of people at the restaurants we ate at, and it's always fun to choose who I want to look like and be perceived as.  They're NOT the ones with the overly full plates, wearing over-sized clothes. Uh-uh.  Although they are perfectly lovely and wonderful and dear, and I'm not judging them or their character. I just want to be perceived as a healthy-sized, healthy-eating person.

The big article at Meridian today was an author that I have not seen before, Jane Birch.  Her article, "Discovering the Word of Wisdom, Discovering Joy" was excellent, and I'm looking forward to writing a follow-up on it in the next little bit. How blessed we are to have it!

We have been very busy with the "Spring Clean" days and the sale for, and it is also Spring Break from school.  I feel like I should be getting more done with my days, but it's all good.

The best thing -- is that the exercising and the small meals is becoming a very livable habit.  Whether I have a lot of time , or not.  I don't see too much changing when I end the challenge, other than documenting my progress, and starting a new one.

I have figured out, though that I'll be wrapping up Challenge # 1, all 12 weeks, right around my 60th Birthday.  I'm going to be as (or MORE) healthy and strong than I have ever been in my life, and I can't think of a better 60th birthday present!

The lilacs are progressing... and so am I.  No turning back!  Feeling mighty fine!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

12-Week Challenge Days 50-52

Just a shortie today as we prepare to leave for a little Spring get-away.  Guess what?  I'm gonna wear my skinny jeans and feel terrific.  (Not the #1 skinny jeans, but I'm getting closer!  These are the #2 skinny jeans that are getting baggy ....)

I had a fantasy yesterday ... that my doctor's appointment coming up in November, where we've agreed to test my osteoporosis again, is me looking like one of the before and after Body For Life stories and my doctor saying.  "Wow!  What did you do?"

And I'll say:  "Well, when you agreed that weight training and lifting was going to be great for my osteoporosis and overall health, I took you seriously.  And this is what happened."

Then her running the tests and calling back and saying.  "Just keep it up! What you are doing is helping!  The bone density and your management are extremely positive, and this is just excellent."

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAY 49

Oh, for a good LAUGH! Don't we all need MORE of them?!


I don't know that veggies meant much to me as a kid, but as an adult, they really ring my chimes ... I just can't get enough of them.  I always love a big salad, but TRULY LOVE them steamed, not too done with my kitchen hero: a veggie steamer!  I bought it for $5 at  my favorite thrift store.  I had never had much success with the one that works in the bottom of the pan ... you know the little collapsible stainless steel thing. 

But a TRUE STEAMER like the one below is a blast!

I use it constantly.  For some reason, everything tastes better, sweeter, crisp yet tender ... much less likely to get soggy/over-cooked.  More flavor -- often they don't need a THING to taste just fabulous.
Last night I finely sliced some cabbage, steamed them, and they made the perfect "noodles" for a veggie chow mein.  Delicious. In fact, I don't see why we can't use finely sliced cabbage as the perfect replacement for really any noodles????  They're so handy to cook in this, that you could really do the pasta for the rest of the family on the stove, and then this for us???

It's food (literally!) for thought, and to enjoy with 0 calories and lots of nutrients.

Body for Life is the real deal.  I called their 800 number with a workout question, and by golly if there wasn't someone there to chat with me on the phone (no hold) friendly, informed and interested in ME and how the challenge was going. 

Body for LIFE.  Cabbage "noodles" --  Broccoli "dogs" .... happy times!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

12-Week Challenge Days 43-48

Wow -- I don't know how 5 days crept by so quickly since posting, but they surely have.  It's been a very busy several days with Meridian responsibilities and managing our business.


What HASN'T gone by the way-side is sticking to the eating and exercise plan.  Boy, can I tell a difference.  On Sunday I wore a sweater that I don't even know why I bought it a year ago ... other than it was so cute at such a great price.  It surely didn't fit or go with anything.  But the 6 pounds gone and toning I have done is starting to really show.

I'm WELL aware that many are saying 6 pounds?  Oh, come on.  How could it make a difference? But you have to remember how very short I am (barely 4' 11") with a very medium bone frame.  No tiny Asian here to go with the very short height.  Throughout my entire life, 5 pounds is a full-size, and sometimes more.

Too, when you compare fat to muscle, there's a big difference!  In fact, as I am posting this photo, no WONDER my clothing is fitting so differently:  Above is 5 pounds of fat compared to 5 pounds of musle. ....

For General Conference weekend, we stayed very close to home to listen to the broadcasts.  On Saturday evening, I treated a friend to Subway -- how I love MUSTARD on everything these days.  I don't know why.  I just can't get enough of it!  It's easy for a sandwich to be a "mini-meal" by just not eating all the bread and adding a whole lot of veggies.  No Mayo is No big deal.

Our traditional Sunday General Conference feast was better than ever. For many years we have 3 friends who are more "family than family" -- Kathy, Kim and Maggie.  I fixed chicken cacciatore in the crock pot.  Always a favorite with lean chicken breasts, and lots of tomatoes and onions.  Kim,  who brings her delicious oatmeal "Conference" bread was not able to come -- the first time in at least 15 years, so no bread.  So Kathy brought some delicious Artisan bread instead that we enjoyed ... but a little went a long ways.

Beautiful Maggie (she's our accountant and our joke is that she knows more about us than God since she's been managing our businesses for going on 24 years ...) well she brought home cooked BEETS with a spice to them ... that was simply divine.  Oh, my. Oh, my. I could have made a meal of just that!  She did bring a butter sauce to go with them, and it too was delicious. A little went a long way, however, because the beets themselves were such a TREAT.

She also fixed a luscious green salad.

The fun thing about Maggie is that she is doing our challenge too, and her 5 pounds are REALLY showing as well! Her doctor is raving about the progress on her cholesterol levels (she's drinking the tea) telling her "whatever it is, just keep doing it!  This is fantastic!"

The dessert -- which has always been a pot luck of pie, ice cream, cookies, etc. had done a major overhaul.  Last October, half of us had abandoned sugar, so this time dear Kathy brought a luxury bowl of fruit with fresh pineapple and fresh BLUEBERRIES.

Does it get any better?  To feast on these luscious fruits and veggies, and the messages of conference and DEAR FRIENDS all in the same 4-6 hours?  Love it, love it.

Always so sad when it is over.

But -- I am looking forward to 6 months from now!  I have so much to show since October conference 6 months ago, and in the next 6 months I'll be able to say I've been sugar free for ONE YEAR!

My plan is to keep on exercising and eating right, simply as a matter of principle, to build strength and we'll see how the inches and pounds do as a secondary blessing.

I will NOT let this many days go again before blogging. Whether anybody reads these messages are not, it feels WONDEFUL to be honest and square with myself and the Lord on how I am taking care of myself -- I will NOT let it become an obsession or form of distraction, but will keep it in place as a means of serving my FAMILY and extending the precious hours of each day, week and month with health and energy.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAY 42

Today marks the half-way point of my 12-week Challenge!  There have definitely been some "lulls" in both my intensity and results, but overall, I'm way-enthused.  I think it must be the Youthin, the not perfect but consistent effort, etc., but I'm down about 6 pounds and the scale showed a number today I haven't seen in YEARS ... I just stared at it.  Everything is looser.  My skinny jeans, that I have used as my standard measure for over 10+ years, are still too snug to wear comfortably, but they zip.  Interestingly, I bought them when I was a Weight Wathcers leader, and my regular weight was actually a bit higher.  Goes to show how getting older has changed how it's all distributed.

I am ready to take on the 2nd half of the challenge with more discipline!  There will be more time since Cooper leaves on Friday to return to BYU-I.  It'll be just Bob and me, and the activity level is headed way-way-way down.  What a month it's been, with the quick trip to Texas and Mom, Cooper's arrival after 2 years in Brazil, all our children being here (and 2 little granddaughters for a week!)  So many dinners, friends, parties, gatherings, etc. for his return after 2 years.

It's just been magic.  I wish I'd taken more pictures.

WHEW -- But I've kept up with the program!  Exercise, mini-meals, water, Youthin ... And felt so physically fit and mentally in "high-five" mode for not just saying, "This is too crazy.  I'll start in April."

What it has all inspired more than anything else is that I LOVE the energy and clarity that comes from eating right and exercising.  I LOVE that more than indulging.  I LOVE leaving a restaurant comfortable and not stuffed.  I LOVE being able to wear my more fitted clothing.  I LOVE knowing that nobody (even my family) really cares that much about what I eat or how I look -- they love me for me. I LOVE being with them!

And that's why I want to be around for them in the healthiest best way possible, for both the immediate and long-term future.  The truth is, I am more secure,  more fun, happy, active, and comfortably "myself" when I feel my best.  And eating right and exercise does that for me. It's getting easier and easier to embrace this as a lifestyle.

OK -- DAYS 43-84!  I'M READY! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

12-Week Challenge DAY 41

I know I put it on this blog in one of the first posts -- that I'm an Elementary School Lunch Lady!  I am celebrating my 9th year with Fairfax County Public Schools.  People often ask me why, and I say "Well, it started out to provide health insurance for my family, since my husband has been self-employed for many years.  But it's grown into a really great way to spend 3.5 hours per day.  I'd be at home working/sitting at my computer, and this way, I'm on my feet getting great exercise, having a very fun time with both my co-workers and the children.  It's a great free lunch/salad every day. Yes, it's stressful, but it's also delightful.  I manage the rest of my day better, There's plenty of time off every day, and throughout the year.  Give me another five years, and there will be a little retirement too.  My uniform is as comfy as pajamas, it's 3 minutes from my house, and I love it!"

Yesterday our supervisor was there when I lifted a crate of milk (it holds 50 cartons) to move it from one cooler to another.  He kind of stared and said, "Did you really just lift that  like it was nothing?   Wow."  I just laughed, but apparently he brought it up again to my darling manager who said, "Well, truth is -- Carolyn's the oldest one here -- but she's the strongest and most fit."

Who would have thought?  I love it that that is how they perceive me.  I'm not going to let that change!  Body For Life has definitely upped my fitness level and strength, and with every passing day, I'm feeling the benefits. 

We took Cooper, and our other son and his wife to their all-time favorite steak house tonight for a last farewell dinner.  Mike's is the-the-THE place in our area for glorious food, service, atmosphere, etc.  I've never been a steak person ... and tonight was no different.  I always order this fabulous portabello mushroom entrĂ©e that, in my mind, is better than steak, and covered with roasted veggies.  YUM!

But tonight, I could only eat a small portion, and brought the rest home.  The company was by far the best part of the meal, and I'll make at least 2 meals out of that yummy vegetarian entre.  It's fun to leave a restaurant not stuffed and uncomfortable.

I wore my skinnier black pants, and we had such a great time -- I love how the Fat Burners make my skin look better ... or maybe it's the extra water or both.

BODY FOR LIFE!  So worth the exercise and effort.