Ho-Ho-Hum

The reason for the season.
The reason for the season.

My young cousin was just saying on Facebook that their home is now, officially decorated for Christmas.  And she added how much she loves to decorate for Christmas, it being her favorite time of year. Immediately, I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, I have to do that too”! Honestly, this was the first time I had even thought about it.  That’s really weird, because I used to be just like my young cousin when it comes to Christmas decorating.  This year it has lost it’s place in my priorities.

Now-a-days, I stay on guard over stress issues, trying not to over-extend as much as possible.  The kids are grown, the grand-kids aren’t coming this year, and there are several things on my agenda that take priority over Christmas decorating; things I am not willing to sacrifice. I’m not going to rule out the possibility, but it may turn out that I do not get it done this year. It’s been a tradition, so I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Several things would have to come to pass before I would even be ready to decorate. I would have to get the house clean, and I am behind on that. As I recall, the lights on the tree need some repair. I have outdoor decorations too, so I would need to clean up the yard and the porch, and I would have to work around the weather. I was really kind of focused on other projects! We are getting ready to move my new quail from the brooder to the cages and we are setting up a new automatic watering system.  They have grown up and are cramped in the brooder.  That whole project absolutely must take priority, but we can’t do it until our supplies arrive in the mail on Monday.

To be honest, the whole task of Christmas decorating would probably only take about 7 hours of my time.  Taking it all down might require another 3.  Then we could enjoy the nice ambiance for the  duration of the season.  And when my daughter comes to visit this year, she will truly enjoy it.

I remember Christmastime when she and her brother were little. Great times!! We would decorate the tree together, each of us taking care of the portions we could reach, while their dad climbed on the roof with staple gun in hand, to hang lights off the eaves. We had a huge calico cat named Patches, and after the tree was decorated, but before we put any presents under it, she would spend time lying on her back on top of the tree skirt and stare up through the middle, seemingly mesmerized by the affect of the lights. The kids would make  cute little handmade decorations in school, and bring them home to brighten up the house. And I always found them the cutest little Christmas pjs that they wore during the season.  We read books at bedtime, with great expression.  A favorite was “T’was the night before Christmas”.  Another was “The Velveteen Rabbit”.  I remember staying up all night on Christmas Eve with their dad and putting toys together. And seeing their bright eyes and happy faces at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning,… mountains of used wrapping paper all over the den, after they opened their presents. Times like these pass too quickly.

Charlotte and Dusty in their   Christmas PJs.
Charlotte and Dusty in their
Christmas PJs.

Christmas is a special time of year, and Christmas decorating is a kind of magical, creative endeavor.  It is not an absolute necessity, but for those who love a warm and comfortable home, a few hours of effort will brighten the spirit of the holiday for everyone it reaches, transforming everyday surroundings into a place of loving warmth and beauty. It will touch the child within us and remind us of days gone by. It is one way some of us give of ourselves throughout the holiday; an expression of our love for Christ.

I suppose I can re-arrange my schedule  :)

Losing Momentum

They are ok in moderation, but you gotta count ’em!!

Managing the tasks of life is sometimes a very difficult thing for me to do.

I am just coming off of a 10 day break in my calorie counting program. I didn’t plan to take a break.  It just happened.  It all began when things got really hectic and my workload kind of doubled on me.  It was all positive.  These changes are about things that I want to do. Still, I have not fully adapted to the new schedule. As a matter of fact, I haven’t put a lot of thought into scheduling, period.  Upon analyzing the situation, I find this fact to be at the root of my difficulties.

I was pulling all-nighters and being led by my emotions and ambitions during all this time. In other words, just kind of doing whatever I felt like doing at any given moment, with no real self-control.   I started estimating instead of counting at about that time. A time-saver, I thought.  I was probably eating less calories than allowed, and I figured I would only do it for a few days.  So was not really worried about it.  When weigh-in day came around, the scale actually showed a loss of 3#. That just served to provide me with a false sense of security.

Gradually, I began eating more calories, but still not too many, I don’t think.  My stress level was pretty high, and the last 3 nights, I did really bad, getting into sugary sodas, big cinnamon rolls, ice cream, candy, summer sausage,…  All without counting. I made a note, 3 days ago, that it was time to sit down and think about what I am doing here.  It still took these three days to get completely off my high horse and face the facts.  I tried to get things under control yesterday. I did count calories, but I still went over by about 500.  Progress… Tonight, it looks like I am going to make it. But, I’m still on unsteady ground.

Tomorrow is weigh-in day and I expect it to be pretty bad (5 3/4# gain).  But I know it won’t take that long to make a full rebound.  I actually like calorie counting.  It is comforting and makes me feel good about how I am eating and taking care of myself.  So, I don’t think it will be too hard to get back in the swing of things.

I need to put some thought into how to go about blending my new responsibilities with the old ones.  Once I have that figured out, then I will have some boundaries to enforce.  This is just a part of being my own good parent.  When I let the child have her way, she always gets me in trouble.  But when I apply some self-discipline, this is an act of kindness that I do unto myself.  And it leaves me feeling safe and capable.

Once I have that feeling, then I can settle down and live my life confidently.  I guess I will never ever stop having to do this. But the point is, there are places I want to go.  And it is the adult in me that knows how to get there.

Analyze It

Allow time to analyze your situation.
Allow time to analyze your situation.

Last week there were 2 evenings that I went over my limit by about 500 calories or so.  It happened 2 nights in a row and after the second time I began to realize that I was not going to be losing weight anymore if I continued to do this.

It was late, and I was tired.  So, on my  to do list for the next day, I wrote down “spend some time thinking about these last two evenings”.  I wrote it down, I would not forget.  This is a really good practice to follow.   And it helped me sleep better that night.

The next day I set aside a good amount of time to just think the whole thing over.  I have come to understand that there is an analytical element to calorie counting.  So I began; Why was I doing this?  Was I bored, no.  Was I anxious or angry, no.  Was I stressed, not really. Was I hungry, yes.  Why was I hungry? Because I was staying up really late, both nights, and I had simply run out of fuel. So how can I prevent this from happening again?  Go to bed earlier. Or save some calories for late in the night.  Either would work!

It’s really good to think things through.  Be the boss over your unruly child. Take charge of your calorie counting situation, with confidence and determination. That little exercise pretty much nipped the whole problem in the bud.  And to my delight, this morning for my weekly weigh-in, I had lost 1 – 1/4#.  This is the stuff that makes calorie counting doable for a lifetime.

I have chosen calorie counting, as my way of controlling how much I eat.  If I’m not eating with some kind of control, then I am eating out of control.  And I really don’t want to do that anymore.

cluckeyo.com

Rib Eye Steaks

A simple, delicious steak.
A simple, delicious steak.

On almost any diet I have ever done, I found it pretty hard to have a nice big steak. So many calories, I thought.  Since calorie counting is my lifetime plan, I approach things like steaks, quite differently now. After all, I want to have steak in my life.  So I better learn how to make it work with calorie counting.

Tonight, Glenn grilled some mouth-watering rib eyes!  They were quite large, we got them from Sam’s Club.  About an inch thick. At first I thought, I would just have steak and nothing else.  Then I thought, we won’t do this too often. So I just won’t bother with calorie counting tonight.  Finally I realized that I have a great little electronic digital scale.  And I could weigh out my meal in nothing flat.

I had saved up my calories almost all day in anticipation of our meal. I decided that I would eat my whole steak, not just half.  And I would have all the trimmings.  So my plan was to weigh my meal and enjoy it.  I would look up my totals afterward. I was not sure exactly what I was getting myself into, and I decided that if I went over, I would deal with it.

So I got the potatoes ready and Glenn brought in the steaks.  Here is how I weighed out my meal:

  1. I got out a clean plate, set it on my scale and turned it on.  The scale set to 0, and I set it to measure in grams.
  2. I cut the end off of my steak, to give to Valentine, my dog.
  3. I lay my portion on the clean plate and with pen and paper handy, I quickly jotted down the number on the scale.  Then I tared the scale, which set it back to 0.
  4. I left my steak on the plate and added my potato, wrote down the number, and tared the scale again.
  5. I dipped up an enjoyable amount of butter, wrote down the number, and tared the scale.
  6. I added a nice dollop of sour cream, wrote down the number.
  7. Then I put Valentine’s piece on my plate.

It probably took a total of about 1 minute to do all that.  And now I had the valuable information I needed to see what it all came up to.

I sat the numbers aside and enjoyed my nice, warm meal.  It was delicious, and so satisfying!  I cut Valentine’s portion in very small pieces, so that I would not get it mixed up with mine.  And I just dropped her a little piece on the floor every so often.  We all ate together :) I thanked Glenn for the wonderful steaks, then afterwards, I did my calculations.

I went to Google and typed in “beef”.  They have fabulous nutrition information, right there on the search page.  They had a way to count rib eye and I was able to get a very close idea of the calories in my steak.  I followed by typing “potato”, “butter”, and “sour cream” into Google.  I had numbers listed by grams for everything I ate and I was able to know exactly how many calories I had consumed.  

It turned out to be about 840.  Not bad at all!  I actually have calories left over tonight. I’ll eat some veges and fruit, as to get my requirement of fiber.  I’ll have to take a small calcium pill, in order to get enough for the day. Of course, I have plenty of protein.  I will still have almost 400 calories left, and I think I will have a Snickers and Dr. Pepper.

I love calorie counting!  It is a wonderful way to undo that old diet mentality, and learn how to eat again!  If you are in the market for an electronic, digital food scale, I can get you one of premium quality, at a fair price.  Just comment on this story and let me know.

cluckeyo.com

Keeping Track

When I first started counting calories, I had an aversion to the idea of weighing and measuring my food.  And I didn’t want to write anything down, either!  It all just seemed like too much bother.  I strung a few days together by just estimating. Then it occurred to me, I was doing all this hard work and I didn’t even know if I was eating the right amounts that would cause me to have a good weight loss! At that point, I knew I was going to have to do better, but I still wanted to keep things simple.

I needed to keep a temporary record of my calorie consumption each day, and I chose to use a 4×6 index card to do this.  I like the index card because it is small and has body.  So it holds up well throughout the day, and there is plenty of room to write everything on there that I need to put down.

I always begin my day by writing down the day of the week on the upper, left corner of the front side of my card.  Then, in the remainder of the space, i just jot down numbers, no words.  I use 2/3 of the card to write down calories and subtotals.  When I have a subtotal, I draw a square around that number.  And I use the remaining 1/3 of the card to total everything up.

index card - front view
index card – front view

Not long after I began counting calories, I became interested in eating a balanced diet each day, as well.  On the back side of my card, going the long way, I make 3 columns, and I just jot down the number of grams of fiber and protein and the percentage of calcium that I find on the nutrition label for my serving, of the things that I eat throughout the day.  This helps me decide what to eat as the day goes by.

index card - back view
index card – back view

By the end of the day, the card is used up and I have usually come within very close range of my daily allowances for calories, fiber, protein, and calcium.  Now I can throw it away, knowing that I really have done well that day, or how far I went over, if I did.  I don’t like to write down words, because that can get tedious.  This needs to be a quick thing that just helps me keep track of the numbers.  And it really works well.

Weighing my foods and writing things down is important.  If I do not keep up with what I am eating, I doubt I would be having much success.  It insures that I am getting the right amount of calories, fiber, protein, and calcium.  And it is also teaching me what a normal portion looks like.  So if I get in a situation where I cannot count my nutrition, I will at least be able to make a good estimate.

cluckeyo.com