Choosing a Healthy Diet
Choosing a Healthy Diet

I rarely get hungry while counting calories.  One reason is, I don’t just count calories.  I also keep up with various nutrition counts.  This is important to my overall health during this time of weight-loss transition. Staying nutritionally balanced each day probably keeps my body satisfied, too.  There are several nutrients that I monitor:

  • Fiber – I get 25 grams of fiber each day, without  fail.  It promotes a healthy heart and is healthy for the colon. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are good sources.
  • Protein – It’s not hard for me to get in my daily allowance of protein. I usually go over.  It is important for healing and I need 46 grams per day to maintain normal body function.  It is found in meats, fish, beans, eggs, dairy, as well as most vegetables. I use protein to combat the occasional hunger pang, too!
  • Fat – I have a current health issue which requires me to pay attention to my fat intake. I eat no more than 45 grams of fat per day, as suggested by my doctor. I eat as little saturated fat as possible. I switched to 1% milk. Most of the fat I get comes from that which occurs in the foods I am already eating.  For example, I choose the fat content present in a serving of my favorite whole grain crackers over adding butter and sour cream to my potato, most of the time.
  • Calcium – I take a multi-vitamin in the morning, which has 50% of my daily requirement.  But I get the rest of my calcium from the foods I eat. I do keep a bottle of low dose calcium supplements on hand and if I fall short at the end of the day, I take one before bed. This rarely happens though.  When I was drinking whole milk, I wasn’t allowing myself to have that very often.  But a cup of 1% milk has only 110 calories and 30% of my daily requirement. Calcium is also found in vegetables and breads, etc.

At my age, I consider myself to be kind of fragile, especially in my current condition of unfitness.  The fifties seems to be when people start having more health problems.  I do want to lose weight, but I want to be very careful and prevent dangerous imbalances which might occur.  I don’t believe I have the luxury to just jump into the latest fad diet.  I want to be very, very careful!  So I try to cover the nutritional bases as much as I can.

Be Flexible

Flexibilty is a hallmark of calorie counting.
Flexibilty is a hallmark of calorie counting.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I lost focus. The whole process of getting back to calorie counting has proved harder than I anticipated. I began in serious earnest the day after Thanksgiving. Writing this over the last few days held my attention until I felt relatively certain that I was out of the woods.

Last week’s newsletter focused on my recent difficulties. I posted it on Facebook, and received a lot of wonderful support, which motivated me for the morning.  I wanted to start off on a positive note. So I got all clean and sparkly and made out a plan for my day, not something I always do!  I didn’t want to be crazy busy, I just wanted the day to flow nicely.  And it did go well, but the following day was a struggle.

Lately I have been bouncing between extremes. At times I am on task and fully committed.  At other times, I am hopelessly bankrupt of focus. I asked my Dad, “How do you retrain a mind”?   I thought his overall wisdom, as well as his military experience might lend some light to my situation.  He said, “You need to reward good behavior, punish bad behavior, and then, you need repetition”. So I began mulling that whole idea over, along with some ideas for a working strategy:

  • I have been pretty negligent when it comes to taking care of my personal needs.  I put off going to the doctor, stay up half the night, skip baths, etc; a bad behavior which supplies it’s own built in punishment.  I am resolving to improve this area of my life. Regularly attending to my daily needs, whatever they may be, will reinforce my ability to keep counting calories.  The two ideas have a synergetic relationship, so this needs to be a high priority of each day.  It may be obvious to most, but often escapes me; the final vestiges of my old depression years.  The desire to live at a normal weight, is nothing more than a desire to take better care of oneself. It stands to reason that expanding on the idea will support the mission.
  • Flexibility is a hallmark of calorie counting and that energy should be tapped as needed.  My narrow-minded attitude is not working lately.  I am adding a range to my daily calorie allowance. Instead of a rigid 1500 calories per day; my requirement to maintain a weight of 120, which has worked well for losing weight up to now, I will allow myself to increase my intake up to a maintenance level as needed. The holidays are here, I have many, many irons in the fire, and I just can’t hold onto that narrow focus. My goal is to avoid gaining weight throughout the holidays, and this may allow me to lose some too. I figured out the amount of calories I can increase to, by tinkering around with this healthy weight calculator . This plan will allow another 700 calories per day; the most flexibility I can afford.  I may not need them everyday, but they will be available. Which will make all the difference!

I’m unwilling to miss the holidays in order to lose a few more pounds this season. My passion is in living a rich, full life, and delicious holiday food is part of that. This is a lifestyle change, and I will always need to do what is necessary to succeed through the holidays, or any situation.  Which will call for some flexibility.  Yes, there is some re-training required on my part, but not to the point of being unrealistic. Learning how to maintain during the holidays will be a very valuable skill to acquire.  And when life returns to normal, so will my ability to focus on losing weight. This is something I can live with.


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.

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, we 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 my dog’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 my dog a portion into 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 🙂 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.

Thinking it Through

Be Your Own Good Parent
Be Your Own Good Parent

Last night I had a hard time sleeping and stayed up very late.  After awhile I got physically hungry, but I had no calories left, and I found myself craving all kinds of rich foods.  

I did ok by just ignoring the cravings for awhile.  And to help with the hunger, I ate a can of sliced beets. I really like beets.  The pickled variety contains a lot of sugar, but these were just plain sliced beets. They are a relatively low calorie vegetable, loaded with good nutrition.  For that reason, I did not worry about the few calories that they do contain.  Eating them helped my hunger pangs.  But I was working on technical stuff, and some things were not going my way. That added a little stress to the equation, so the cravings returned with a vengeance.

I started zeroing in on all the good things we have to eat in the house and my focus settled on the Fritoes Scoops and a small amount of Hot Bean Dip that was left in the fridge.  Again, I had no calories left for that at all and after the beets, I can’t say that I was really, physically hungry anymore.  Still, they were calling my name.  I almost got them out and ate them, but mentally, I was trying to talk myself out of it.

Finally, I like to think I took the leadership role with my inner child. First I said, “Ok, just go stretch out on the couch and think about this for a few minutes”.  That was a really helpful tactic.  Because while I was lying there, I thought of things like, what all I had eaten that day, and how I have already lost 11 – 1/4#, and how I wanted to see a loss on the scale tomorrow morning,…  So it refreshed me a little and kind of balanced my mood.  Then I said, “Ok, you can have the fritoes and bean dip in the morning.  Right now, have a glass of tea, and in the morning, have the fritoes and bean dip for breakfast”.

Interestingly, this few minutes of rest allowed me some time to settle down, so pretty soon after that, I just got up and quickly cleaned the kitchen.  Then I went to bed.

The adult in me did prevail.  And the scale showed a 1/4# loss this morning, which I am very happy about!  For breakfast, I enjoyed Fritoes Scoops and Hot Bean Dip 🙂  I suppose I could have bribed my inner child if I had needed to.  “Put this off until morning and you can order a book from Amazon”. Something like that. Whatever works!!

Calorie counting requires a little bit of self-discipline from time to time. Sometimes you just have to gently put your foot down and be your own good parent.  I’m beginning to realize, it is important to love and care for yourself as you would, your own child.