Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post

I skipped my goal post last week.  What a way to make my goals!  Seriously though, it was Thanksgiving.  I had other things on my mind, like eating and cooking, and spending some quality time with my family.

I did so-so on my goals last week.  Here's the update:
  • Work on My Novel: I didn't.  I pulled it up and edited it a little bit, but I simply ran out of time to write.  The kids had play dates.  We went to the movies.  We cooked and ate, and we spent some time playing at our neighbors' house.  These things took precedence this week over writing. 

  • Run 1.25 miles: I did more than 1.25 miles three times.! I made 1.34 miles one day and 1.50 miles the next.  I also had a day where my RunKeeper did not track right, and I'm fairly certain I made about 1.34 miles that day.  The day I ran 1.50 miles was amazing.  The running came so easily, and I felt incredible. 

  • Patience and Control: I did a better job this week with the kids.  I controlled my temper, and I allowed the kids to be kids.  We did a fun craft together, and we went hiking.  Overall, the atmosphere was rather pleasant in the house!

Goals for the Upcoming Week

  • Run 1.75 miles: I think I can do this.  I did not run this morning, because I had a splitting headache, but we'll start towards this goal tomorrow morning.  I'm almost to my 2.0 mile goal.

  • Work on My Novel: Yes, I intend to pull it up and write a little bit this week.  I've been a bookworm lately, reading everything I can get my hands on to get a better grasp of dialogue and general plot design.  I need to take some of what I've learned and put it into my book.
That's it for this week.  I have some fairly important things going on, and I'm not sure if having three goals this week will be realistic.  So two it is!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #5: Snacking


Oh snacking.  The downfall of many people.  Grabbing a cookie off a co-worker's desk mid-day and shoving it in you mouth, not even thinking about the way it taste.  Eating just to eat. 

I love snacking.  I am a huge snacker.  I crave chocolate and salty things just like everyone else.  The fat and preservatives and other junk in potato chips and candy bars and other not-so-good for you foods seems to make you crave them even more. 

In general, I allow myself to snack a little bit, but I try to give myself healthy alternatives.  Here are a few tips on how to snack healthily, so not to ruin your weight loss plan/lifestyle change.

  • Prepare For Your Day: This is so important.  You may think you can get through the day without a snack, but if you go off to work and there are other goodies laying around you may be tempted to eat them.  I pre-portion snacks before I leave for work.  I put homemade trail mix in a baggie, and I bring fruit to snack on. The trail mix has a few chocolate chips, to curb my sweet-tooth craving for the day, and hopefully to help me not buy that candy bar at the machine!

  • Snack When You're Hungry: Seems like a no-brainer right?  But as Americans, we stick a lot of food into our mouths mindlessly.  Don't bored eat.  Don't eat while doing something else.  If you really need a snack, stop what you're doing, SIT DOWN and concentrate on eating the healthy snack you have on hand.  This will help you to feel satisfied after you've eaten your snack and make you less likely to feel unsatisfied or in need of more.

  • Don't Snack All Day: When I was first starting out, I realized I had a major problem with late-night snacking.  Sitting in front of the TV in a daze and stuffing my face.  Most of the time when people snack this way, they aren't even hungry.  They just need something to do while they're being lazy, so they put food in their mouth.  So when you first start making your lifestyle change, cut out one snack that you know you don't need.  For me, I cut out late night snacking, and then I allowed myself to have a 10 AM snack and a 3 PM snack.

  • Let Yourself Splurge Sometimes: It is okay to let yourself splurge sometimes, and honestly if you don't then you won't stick with it for a lifetime. I generally let myself have a Coke or Diet Coke once a month, something that I have completely cut out.  I also let myself have a candy bar or a bag of chips or some no-no on my list about once a week.  I know that by eating it I'm not going to sabotage myself, because in general I'm going to stick with the other changes that I've made to get as far as I have.

  • Snack After You Exercise: After I exercise I always want three things: water, a shower, and protein or dairy.  I almost always allow myself to have a small healthy snack after I exercise.  I generally crave a cheese stick or yogurt or pepperoni, something that sticks to my sides.  If you feel hungry after you exercise, allow yourself to have a small healthy snack.  After all, everything in moderation is really okay.  Just don't overdo it and sabotage the calories you just worked off.  For example, don't go for a double cheeseburger.  Choose a better alternative!

  • Stay Away from Vending Machines: Nothing good comes out of that little hole on the bottom.  Seriously.  Almost everything in a vending machine is bad for you.  Plus, you can save your money by buying healthy alternatives at the grocery store and portioning them out to yourself during the week!
Here are a few ideas for healthy snacks for yourself and your family:
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Fruit
  • Veggies (Raw broccoli, carrots, etc)
  • Nuts, any type
  • Homemade Trail Mix
  • Yogurt
  • Edamame
  • All Natural Granola Bars
  • Popcorn (without butter)
  • Protein (lean meats)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crafty Kids: Pine Cone Christmas Trees

This weekend, Hubby and I took the kids hiking and along the way we picked up three pine cones: one big, one medium and one small, just like our kids. (Oh and in case you're wondering, that's where Number Two fell and hit his lip.  You can see the result of his klutziness in many of the following photos).  

I decided it would be fun to make pine cone Christmas trees.  I went searching the world on my lunch break today for little tiny pom poms to make the ornaments.  Of course, as is my nature, I went a little crazy and ended up buying a ton of things for the kids to decorate their crafts. 

The kids begin decorating their trees -- Dad helps.

Number Two is hard at work decorating his tree.

Darling Daughter is quite fond of the glitter.

Number One was having a great time adding color to his tree.

Number Two made a "star" out of two big pom poms.

Darling Daughter putting the finishing touches on her tree.

Mommy even got in on the fun.  I made a star to go on Number One's tree.

Number One's finished Product.
I bought, from the Dollar General, little wrapped presents to put under the pine cone trees.  I put these, along with some tinsel in the bottom of a silver dish, and then arranged the Christmas trees in the middle to give the table a holiday centerpiece, with the help of my kids!
And an abstract view from above, showing all the glitter:
Materials Used:
  • Pine Cones
  • Glitter -- multi colored
  • Pom Poms -- multi sized (I actually bought a value set that had the pipe cleaners in them too)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Glue -- I used Elmer's Clear glue
  • Gold and Silver Tinsel
  • Little Wrapper Present Ornaments -- if making a centerpiece.
I found the pine cones in the  I bought the majority of the supplies from the Dollar Tree or Dollar  I had to buy the pom poms from Michael's...not-so-cheap.  An hour of fun holiday craft time with the kids...priceless.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Running on my Mind

Running on my Mind

I ran 1.5 miles today in 16 minutes 44 seconds.  I didn't feel like I was going to die at all, seriously.  Most of the time, when I start off a run I feel like my bones and joints are going to break and my breathing seems irregular at first, but today it just came.  I just ran, and it felt natural.  It felt amazing.  I wanted to go 2 miles, but I need to build up slowly.

I slowed my pace today, and I think that's why it seemed so much easier to me.  I want to make it to 2 miles, then to 3.  My overall goal is to eventually be able to run a 5K. I don't want to do anything crazy like run a triathlon or a marathon or anything. 

I love running. I love the way I feel when the music is playing in my ear.  I love how I can think about everything and let the thoughts flit through my mind like snowflakes.  Running allows me to let things go.  It allows me to clear my mind, as no other activity ever has.  I feel pure solitude when I run, but not loneliness  That probably sounds cheesy, but that's how it makes me feel.  Hard to explain.

The kids are starting to ask if they can go with me.  I love that they see fitness as a way of life.  I told Number One and Number Two they could run with me tomorrow.  They are looking forward to it.  I know that with them tagging along, my pace will definitely be much slower than it was this morning, but it will be worth it to share my love of running with them.

We're taking the kids hiking today.  They are excited.  We're going to have a picnic first, then hike a little bit. We will go easy, because Hubby is still nursing his ankle.  He does not need to overdo it yet. I remember, when I was little my Dad and Mom used to take us down to the riverfront, near the silo that was once an Amtrak Station and now a restaurant.  There was a playground there with tire swings, and we would sit and have a picnic by the river, play at the playground, and watch the boats as they sped by. 

These are the types of memories I want my kids to have of their childhood.  Memories of togetherness that will stick with them forever.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Last week I was in a funk.  My parents were not going to be here for Thanksgiving.  My sister had adorable twins (who I can't wait to hold), and my parents were going to stay at her house to lend a hand.  I was feeling selfish and sad, like a small child.  I wanted everything to be the same.  For once in my life, I was not happy with the change in tradition. 

Almost every year at Thanksgiving, we go to my Mom's house.  My whole family comes.  My Mom invites lots of people, and we spend the time talking, laughing, and mostly eating.  I love seeing all my relatives.  I love the festivities and the overload on food.  I love the way my Mom's kitchen smells, conjuring up images from my youth. 

Then Hubby picked up a free turkey from Publix for getting his flu shot.  For some reason, he decided bigger was better and picked up a 16 pound turkey.  He said we'd just have that and some mashed potatoes.  And I said NO.  I said, I'm going to cook.  I'm going to make a Thanksgiving for our children. 

I set the menu, and I cooked and cooked all day long.  We have enough food left over to feed an army, but it was worth it to give my children a Thanksgiving that they will always remember, even if it was just with our small little family.

I pulled out the fine China.  We hadn't used it since Hubby and I moved into our apartment in Gaithersburg, MD, nine years ago.  I made beef bouillabaisse for him, and we ate off the fine China.

I spread out the food on the breakfast room table, and took a photo of all the mountains of food we will be eating over the next few weeks.  (And freezing some too). 

Number One recited his Thankful poem from school, and then we went around the table saying what we were thankful for.

Number One said: I am thankful for all of you. 

Number Two said: I am thankful for this knife.

Darling Daughter said: Food

I said: I am thankful that all of you are here with me now.  I love you, and I can't imagine my life without you.

Hubby said: He was thankful his leg was finally healed.

And then we dug into the mountains of food we had made.  Afterwards we took naps, and then went over to our neighbors' house for dessert, which was amazing and decadent!  I will need to run a lot of miles over the next few days...

I'm thankful this year for my kids, for my Hubby who has put up with a lot from me over this year, for my parents, for my siblings, my nieces and nephews.  I'm thankful I have a job and I can put food on the table to fill my childrens' bellies.  I'm thankful for my Taekwondo friends who keep me going sometimes, when the going gets tough.  I'm thankful for my best friend who is ALWAYS there to listen to me whine and complain about life.  There are too many things to list. 

Let's be thankful every day for what we have. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #4: Portion Size

Portion Size

The Holiday Season is here and with it comes heaping portions of turkey, dressing, casseroles-of-any-type, and luscious desserts on our plates.  I do let myself eat all of these things at the holidays.  I do it in moderation, and I try to at least exercise some of it off.  And speaking of overeating, let's talk a little bit about portion size.

Here in the United States most Americans eat double and triple what they should at each meal.  Adjusting portion size may seem like a huge obstacle when you've been eating such big portions, but it's a must in order to lose weight. 

Here are some tips on how I adjusted my portion sizes:

  • Salad Plates: As I've mentioned before, we eat on salad plates at home.  People like to see full dinner plates at the table, so adjusting down to a salad plate allows you to fill your plate and still have your portions under control.  You can even go back for seconds if you really want to, and you've eaten the equivalent of one dinner plate of food. 

  • Restaurant Eating: Restaurants typically serve two to three times the amount of food necessary for a good portion size.  When ordering at a restaurant, ask the waiter/waitress to wrap up half of the meal at the beginning.  This way, you can eat out without completely blowing your new lifestyle, and you have a perfect portion for later!

  • Meat Portions: I generally try to eat only about three (3) ounces of meat a day.  This is easy to calculate.  3 ounces of meat is roughly the equivalent of the palm of your hand!  Stick to lean meats too.

  • Measure: Measuring may seem like a big pain in the neck, but it may help you in the beginning to get your portion sizes under control.  Most people when trying to eyeball a half cup always eyeball more.  Our sense of portions are so out of control.  You can buy a cheap scale and measure weight, and use measuring cups for dry foods.  If you don't want to measure, here's a great site on how to eyeball appropriate portions for different types of food.

  • Seconds Please: My rule on seconds is if I have eaten all of my food and I'm still hungry then I can have seconds.  I generally try to avoid the carbs for seconds, and stick to the fruits or veggies or salad.  A good rule of thumb, if you're not hungry enough to eat an apple then you're not really hungry.

  • Drink Water: Drink your water.  It will help fill you up so you don't want a HUGE portion on your plate!!!
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Goal Post

So I enjoyed the long weekend thoroughly, by mostly relaxing after a few wild and crazy weekends of Halloween and Number One's spend-the night party, and way too much to do.  All the sitting around gave me time to work on one of my goals in particular.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Run 1 Mile: I ran 1 mile in 9 minutes 23 seconds on Sunday. The run felt good, and I actually felt like I could have kept going, but I stopped and walked for a while instead.  I ran in the park, while Hubby watched the kids play.  Then I came over and played with the kids for awhile.  I really enjoying running in the park with my headphones on, listening to the music as my feet hit the path.  I have this amazing feeling of solitude and wholeness when I'm running that I never feel at any other time.  Hubby says this is the runner's high.  Whatever it is, I like it!

  • Work on my Novel: I wrote and wrote and wrote this weekend.  The words flowed and the ideas crept out onto the paper as if the novel was writing itself.  I have written 56 Word pages, which equals roughly 100 book pages.  I feel like I know where the story is going and how it's going to end.  Now, I just need to get it all down, then start massive editing. 

  • Stop Eating Candy: One of my easiest goals.  One of my co-workers devoured the rest of the chocolate over the weekend.  Thanks!  So, I wasn't at all tempted to have any chocolate the rest of the week.  Although yesterday...I ate way too many chocolaty desserts.  Not good with Thanksgiving coming up...

Goals for This Week:
  • Work on my Novel: I have an urge to complete this work.  I've never felt this motivated in actually finishing something.  I am always too critical of my unfinished work.   I have a friend who I really feel inspired me to complete this work.  Sometimes just having someone believe in you is all you need to accomplish your dreams. 

  • Run 1.25 miles: I woke up at 4:30 to run this morning, but unfortunately Darling Daughter woke up too, and then shortly after Number Two climbed down the stairs, much to my chagrin.  Oh well.  They're only little for a few years.  I'll run my 1.25 miles on Saturday, and then I'll try to repeat on Sunday at the park. 

  • Patience and Control: I've been having a hard time this week controlling my patience.  I feel like I am snappy at the kids, and not enjoying them they way I normally do.  I need to control this behavior and realize they are only little once. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #3: Adding Exercise

Adding Exercise

I wasn't going to blog about exercise quite yet, but thanks to one of my avid readers, Mike, I've decided to jump the gun! 

I truly believe that losing weight and maintaining your weight is attributed to two things, a) health eating and b) incorporating exercise in your life.  I think a lot of people hate the idea of exercise.  In the back of their mind, it's almost like going to another dreadful job.  They feel it is something they have to do, not something they want to do.  Exercise can change your life though, once you get into a routine.

Here are a few exercise tips:
  • Pick an Exercise you Enjoy: When I was starting out Number One had just started taking Taekwondo.  Miranda Grace asked me to take with her.  I didn't want to.  It was out of my comfort zone, something I thought I'd never do, but I let her pull me into a class with her.  Now, I love it and I've stuck with it for almost two years now!  Doing something you enjoy will make it easier to actually go and do it!

  • Stick to It: It takes 3 weeks to make a habit.  In the meantime, stick to the exercise because if you don't it won't become a habit.  I had weeks of dragging myself out of the house, complaining about going to exercise, not wanting to do it. Then one day, I woke up and it just clicked, I went. I never complained again.  Automaticity has a way of taking over, as humans are creatures of habit.

  • Start Out Slow: Start out slow and easy, so you don't get hurt.  If you start out slow, then you can increase your endurance, add different types of exercise, and add more hours later as your body gets more fit. 

  • Stretch: Stretching is so important, both before and after exercise.  Lack of stretching leads to injury.  I had one injury when I started out.  I tore my calf muscle, attributed to lack of stretching and stop and go exercises. I was out for almost two weeks because of this little injury.  Stretch well beforehand and you limit the possibility of injury.

  • Have an Accountability Partner: If you have someone who is encouraging you to exercise, then you are more likely to stick with it.  When I started out Miranda Grace was my accountability partner.  She would hound me if I didn't come to TKD.  She doesn't take anymore, but we still tell each other about what type of exercise we've done during the week.  Also, with TKD, I chose a sport with built in accountability. If I don't show, someone's bound to text me or call me and ask where I am.  Accountability is essential for incorporating exercise into your step at a time.
Exercising allows you to consume more calories during the day.  After all, the key to weight loss is expending more calories than you've consumed.  As I mentioned in last week's post, don't eat all your extra exercise calories.  If you eat the extra calories, then you're sabotaging yourself and your new lifestyle change.  People often exercise so they can reward themselves with food, and this is the wrong mentality.  (I'm guilty of it too).  If exercise affords you 900 extra calories a day, then simply eat 300 or 400 of those calories, preferably with healthy foods: lean meats, complex carbs, fruits and veggies.  By doing this, you'll lose the weight more quickly and your body will become toned more quickly.  Also, you won't start craving those bad-for-you foods if you stay away from them or only treat yourself occasionally.  Plus, recent research shows exercise actually suppresses your appetite, but humans have made a habit out of rewarding themselves with food, even if they're not hungry.  Food for thought (pun intended). 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Easy Peasy Recipes: Perfect for the Fall

Perfect for the Fall: Acorn Squash
It's Fall, and here in 'Bama we're even having Fall weather.  It's amazing, and it puts me in the mood for Fall favorites like squash! I've always eaten regular yellow squash, sauteed on the stove, boring old squash. So yesterday at the grocery store, I decided to step out of the box.  I bought a beautiful Acorn Squash, though I had NO IDEA how to make it. The Internet is a world of wonders though, and within minutes I had a simple recipe to play with.
So, first set the oven to 400, then cut the Acorn Squash in half.  You need a sharp knife for this, and a stable hand.  When you cut it, it will look like this:
Then scoop all the seeds out of the middle with a spoon.  Take a knife and score the sides (make little cuts in the side), and in the bottom in multiple places.  This helps the squash soak up the juices while cooking in the oven. 
Then get all your ingredients ready: Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, Salt, Butter, Nutmeg and a little wine for you to sip on while you're waiting for the squash to cook.  Remember: the wine doesn't go in the squash!


Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each half of the squash.  Then 1 tablespoon of brown sugar into each half, and drizzle Maple Syrup over the inside of the squash (1 teaspoon each side).  I added salt, because we use non-salted butter, and then I also added nutmeg and cinnamon for a little more taste (1 teaspoon each side). 
Place in a dish or inside a pan with a little bit of water on the bottom so the squash does not stick:
Place it in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Sit on the couch, enjoy a sip or two of wine, while it cooks and take in the amazing aroma as it feels your house.
And here is the finished product:
Drizzle the leftover sauce at the bottom over the remaining acorn squash, and serve this tasty Fall treat. Serves 2-4.
  • One Whole Acorn Squash (cut in half)
  • 2 TBSPs of Butter
  • 2 TBSPs of Brown Sugar
  • 2 TSPs of Maple Syrup
  • 2 TSP of Nutmeg
  • 2 TSP of Cinnamon
  • Dash of Salt
  • Optional: Crushed Walnuts

Set over for 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut Acorn Squash in Half.  Scoop out seeds. Score sides with knife.  Put 1 TBSP of butter in each side of the squash, 1 TBSP of brown sugar in each side, 1 TSP of maple syrup in each side, 1 tsp of nutmeg in each side, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and finish off with a dash of salt.
Put a little water in a baking pan or dish, then place acorns in dish.  Cook at 400 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
Serves 2-4.
Let cool! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Muse

The Muse has come, sitting in the back of my mind, guiding my writing.  Yesterday I sat, earphones plugged in, and wrote 11 pages quite easily.  I'm just going to write and write and write as the ideas come, and then I'll edit.  I'm not sure this is the best idea, as the editing job will become huge, but when the ideas are flowing like water it is best to scribble them down somewhere.

When I was in high school, I went to Oxford, Mississippi.  I saw Faulkner's house, Rowan Oak. Faulkner is one of my favorite authors.  In his bedroom, he had written chapters of books, thoughts as they came on the walls, needing to release them from his mind so eventually they could make it to paper and then to print.  This image is still imprinted in my mind: he had a need to write.  I have a need to write, and at this point it doesn't matter if I ever get published.  It's just something I need to do.

On Friday, I read a short chap book by Brent Spencer, Dialogue Tips & Traps: A Guide for Fiction Writers.  This extremely short book (50 pages) combines humor and common sense tips on writing effective dialogue.  Some of the pointers are basic, but Brent Spencer gives great examples from authors on what to do and what not to do. 

Next up: On Writing by Stephen King. 

I've always felt like reading a lot is necessary in order to be a good writer.  But, in the past I have mostly read fiction.  Since I've never taken a creative writing class, I think reading some books on writing might give me the necessary tools to be a better writer, and who knows, maybe one day get published. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post
And the cold continues to plague my workout schedule this week.  I just started a sentence with "and," which my 8 year old says is a huge no-no.  I think he earned my talents for looking at grammar as the only set of rigid rules in the world!  My workouts suffered this week, because of Halloween, an 8 year old birthday party, and the fact that I cannot get over this cold.  Plus, I'm hating this time change.  I keep waking up at 4:30, and then I feel ready for bed by 8:30.  I need my body to get used to it.  So here goes, my goals from last week:
  • Run 1.25 miles: I did not.  I did buy new running shoes.  They are Brooks' Ravennas, and they are awesome, and I'm excited to get some mileage on them.  I ran 1 mile on Sunday in 8 minutes 45 seconds, and then I promptly petered out.  My Taekwondo instructor told me to try to run that pace for half a mile, slow up for another half a mile, then try to run fast for another half a mile to get to 1.5 miles.  We'll see if that works. 
  • Perfect my Yul Guuk Form: Eh--so so.  I think I did pretty well working on it Tuesday night, but once again we have a few changes.  I just don't feel like it flows as well as some of my other forms, but maybe it's mental on my part.  I haven't been at Taekwondo as much lately, because there is just so much going on in my life, and again this cold is wrecking my lungs.  I must really work on this.  I am a slight perfectionist!
  • Work on My Novel: I did.  I hate one of my characters.  How do you keep going if you begin to hate your main character?  I mean, she is okay, but I do feel like she's making all the wrong choices.  Maybe that's where she's supposed to lead me.  Plus, I came up with another great idea, and I need to outline and do character sketches for that story.  My creative juices runneth over.
Goals for This Week
  • Run 1 mile: I'm backing down to 1 mile once this cold actually leaves my body.  I think I'm going to need to build back up again a little bit, plus I really need to break in my running shoes (not to mention my bones and joints) before I run to far.
  • Work on My Novel: Write 5-10 pages on my novel this week.  Take the time to put some thought into it.  Really get into my characters' heads.  Character sketch the other idea I have, but don't stop working on the novel that I'm already 50 pages into.
  • Stop Eating Candy: I love almond joys.  And when they're sitting on the corner of my desk for everyone else to eat them, I begin to unwrap and pop them in my mouth.  Stop sabotaging yourself, Lauren, and get back on the wagon.  An occasional treat is okay, but I need to stop overdoing it.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #2: Gaining Momentum

Gaining Momentum
So many times in life, I have started something and given up before I've accomplished it or, sometimes, even before I've made any progress at all.  The important thing about losing weight is sticking with your goals and making the decision to make a lifestyle change.  Losing weight should NEVER be a result of a temporary diet.  It should only be the result of a lifestyle change.  That way, once the weight is gone, if you keep up the habits you began when you lost the weight it will never return.  Half the battle is starting out though.
The one thing that helped me the most when I started out was tracking my calories.  There are various ways to do this.  Some people like to join a paid program, and indeed there are some great weight loss programs, like Weight Watchers out there that help you track your food and lose weight.  If you're going to pay for a program, then I definitely recommend Weight Watchers, because it works.  I lost fifty pounds on it, previously, then forgot all the techniques I learned when I had kids and started eating my life away.  However, if you stick with it, it could work for you to help you change your lifestyle and maintain that change.
I, personally, use a free app that can accessed on your phone or your computer called MyFitnessPal.  I love it for several different reasons, but NUMBER ONE: It's free!  You can input different foods, and it basically calculates the calories for you.  You input how much weight you want to lose per week, and it tells you how many calories to eat.  It also allows you to enter your exercise, and gives you the extra calories for the exercise (I'll get back to that point in a bit). 
A few other good free programs are: Livestrong, SparkPeople, and Calorie Count
Here are a few pointers for tracking your food:
  • Input all the food you eat during the day.  Even if your calories are not exact, seeing what you're eating will help you reduce the amount of calories you're eating.  I basically went from unknowingly eating 5000 calories a day to eating 1300 calories a day.

  • MyFitnessPal allows you to put notes on your page.  If you had a particularly bad day eating, then you can describe what happened, e.g., sat in front of the television and ate a whole bag of chips.  This helps you identify how you're feeling when you are overeating. In that example, obviously it was boredom or mindlessness that led to overeating. 

  • When you're starting out track your water intake too.  A lot of people overeat, because they are thirsty.  They have forgotten how thirst feels, because they never drink enough water.  When you begin drinking more water it often eliminates the hungry feeling and helps you stick to your calories. 

  • Adding exercise to your day will allot you more calories to consume.  DO NOT EAT ALL YOUR EXERCISE CALORIES.  MyFitnessPal says you can, but honestly, if you don't eat all of the exercise calories you'll lose weight and get in shape more quickly.

  • Don't get discouraged if you can't make your calorie goal right away.  This is a lifestyle change, so it will take time!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Eight Years Old

Number One's birthday is this morning.  Eight years old.  I can't believe the years have flown by so quickly. 

Number One, my firstborn, my heart.  He was born on a Friday, when we lived in Maryland.  I went to the birthing center, and they told me I was only 2 centimeters, so they sent me home.  On the thirty minute drive back to our house, I told Hubby my contractions felt different.  He asked if I wanted to go back, and I said no, that I'd be ok.  We arrived at our townhouse in Germantown, and I walked upstairs to my bedroom.  I tried to lay down and rest, taking the advice of the midwife, but I couldn't because the pain was so intense.  My water broke, and I told Hubby I thought Number One was coming.  He frantically called the midwife.  Her response, "I guess you can come back, but I bet she's only 4 centimeters."

On the way back to the birthing center, cruising at 90 mph with no police escort, I kept trying not to push.  I told Hubby, "If I'm only 2 centimeters, then you better turn around and take me to a hospital because I need an epidural!"

I walked into the patient access of the birthing center, where the midwife had sent me, and waddled through contractions to the bathroom, slamming the door, and sitting on the toilet to relieve the pressure.  The midwife knocked on the door, guided me up to the birthing room, checked me and was surprised.

"Wow you're 10, and he's in the birth canal!"

Forty-five minutes later, this little guy came into the world:
The midwives joked that he was the baby in a hurry.  Hubby and I say, he was born in a hurry and he never slowed down! He was 7 lbs 11 ounces and 20.5 inches long.  He stared at me intently, and the nurse told me babies like to be talked to. He never slept unless he was in my arms.  He only nursed, and he would refuse to take a bottle.  He knew exactly what he wanted from day one.
I love you: my challenge, my angel, my sweet loving boy. My hard-working, smart, gymnast.  My imaginative, crazy, hyper, silly, amazing boy.  You give me joy every day you are alive, and you are worth all the energy it takes to parent you.  I'm so glad you're in my life, and that you are the one who has taught me how to be an effective parent, even if it's not always so easy.  I love your spunk and your assertiveness.  I even love your stubbornness, though sometimes it drives me nuts.  I love how much you feel everything.  I love the way you look at the world and see beauty in the moon, the sunrise, the sunset.  You are such a joy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thoughts on Writing

Thoughts on Writing


DJ Lance is the background noise to my creative juices this morning.  Darling Daughter decided 4:30 AM was as good a time as any to start her day.  She loves Yo Gabba Gabba.  I don't mind it.  I wonder if I should be writing a children's book, instead of attempting a novel.

I've realized a few things about novel writing this week. 
  • I have too many ideas in my head.  I've started a novel.  I've worked on editing it. I've worked on writing it.  My characters are leading their own lives, moving in the way they are supposed to lead me, the author.  As the ideas are flowing, other ideas for books fill my mind.  When my mind is creating it doesn't want to stop.  I think this is why I have a problem with completion.  I start one story, then I move on when a "better" idea hits me. 

  • I really need an editor, but I can't afford one.  I have a tendency to be a perfectionist.  This is not good. I keep going back and making changes, and I don't make progress.  I need to set certain days to write and certain days to edit, so I can make progress.  And eventually...I need to have an editor.

  • I need to attend some creative writing classes or seminars.  I need to meet other creative writers and discuss struggles in getting published (very hard to do right now) and editing and character development and dialogue and so on...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post
This week has been hard.  I've been fighting a cold, and of course it is Halloween.  Halloween equals candies and treats and bad goodies to eat!  And eat, I did.  Plus, with me fighting this horrible cold I haven't worked out the way I'm used to.  I feel like a sludge.  But, I did a pretty good job making my goals this week, and once I'm a 100% better I'm going to jump into my goals for next week.
  • Run .75 miles: And I did.  I had two runs where I ran an actual WHOLE mile 1 mile!!! My first run I did in 9 minutes 50 seconds, and the second I cut the time to 9 minutes 43 seconds.  I'm getting there.  I really need good running shoes though, and I have had thoughts of taking my boys out running.  We'll see if they'd like it!
  • Lose 1 pound: I lost two pounds this week.  I'm so excited.  I've been at a standstill for a long time, but I think it's because I religiously logged into MyFitnessPal and tracked my food. I'm going to keep that up to lose this last thirteen pounds!
  • Work on My Novel: I did not achieve this.  I pulled it up and looked at it...once.  I just don't have enough time in the day.  Plus, Darling Daughter is having a sleeping strike right now, and she wants me to lay down with her, and I usually end up falling asleep!!!  Excuses, excuses, excuses.  Must do better next week!
Goals for the Upcoming Week
  • Run 1.25 miles: I'm going to go out Friday at lunch and buy new running shoes, so I'm thinking this weekend I should be able to up my total time running and do a 1.25 mile stretch without stopping. 
  • Perfect my Yul Guk Form: I probably just butchered the spelling of my form.  I'm a third degree blue belt now, and for some reason this form just gets me.  It is mostly hand movements and not so many kicks.  I need to really work on it at home a bit and perfect it. 
  • Work on my Novel:  I'm going to include this on the list every week, until I actually finish my novel.  Completion would be great!!!
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