The Sunday Post: Rambling on into 2017

Ever sit down to write, knowing what you want to say, but just can’t get your thoughts organized enough to write them down in a way that makes sense to anyone else? That’s kind of where I am right now. So maybe I’ll try something different with this first post of the year: just write whatever comes to mind and worry about organizing it later. Please forgive the rambling if I don’t get around to the organizing part.

It’s New Year’s Day of 2017 and I’m feeling a bit of relief that 2016 is finally over. We survived it. There were so many struggles on various fronts, at home, at work, and out in the world at large. There’s not much I can say about the presidential election that hasn’t been said already. The huge sense of doom and loss that I felt the morning after still lingers, it’s just kind of simmering on the back burner though because there are other issues demanding my attention so they don’t boil over.

As a music fan, it was a horrible year. The hits to the gut just seemed to keep on coming all year long, and then my heart broke on Christmas Day when I heard the news that George Michael was gone as well. I was a Wham fan and then an even bigger George Michael fan. I remember my boyfriend used to tell me “You know he’s probably gay, don’t you?” That never made a difference to me. I was lucky enough to see him at the first stop in the US leg of the Faith tour in 1988. Still can’t believe he’s gone.

In 2016 Doug started playing music again, as part of the acoustic duo The Adaptations. They played about a dozen shows in town last year and hope to have the opportunity to keep at it in 2017. I’ve enjoyed being a small part of that but I’ve realized that somewhere along the way I pretty much lost track of my own artistic pursuits. I haven’t written much, and I haven’t taken my camera out to continue my pursuit of capturing “the shot”. So I need to get that back on track.

IMG_5193And speaking of getting back on track, I need to return to the healthy lifestyle track that we took a little detour from last year.  Now that Mother Nature seems to be taking care of the health issues that sidelined me for a little while, I need to work on shedding those extra pounds that found their way back to my body. Tracking our food seemed to make a big difference when we lost weight so I think we’ll be going back to that. We’re considering “No Beer in 2017” as a resolution, but realize that’s probably not going to last long. So maybe we’ll change that to “No Beer in the House in 2017” and see how that works (or doesn’t). I need to get back to walking, get back to doing Zumba more than just once a week. And speaking of Zumba, I’d like to thank Kyong at Wow! Dance Fit once again for being a strong force of positive energy. Kyong and her family are moving away but leaving behind them a team ready to carry the Zumba torch in Fredericksburg. We’ll miss your smile, Kyong, and wish you well in your new home.

We’ve got to move this year as well. Again. Our lease is up in six months and we don’t know where we’ll go. But we’ve started the preparations. We’ve sold some furniture we won’t need, and we’ve got more listed for sale (anyone looking for a dining room table and chairs?) which will hopefully be gone before long. We’re trying to downsize and this time actually mean it when we say we want to live a simpler life.

Jeremy graduates in June. What’s next for him? That’s the million-dollar question. I guess we’ll see.

What else should I ramble on about? I’ve covered politics, resolutions, music, weight loss, moving, graduation. There is so much else on my mind and some of it I can’t really talk about (or write about). I’m hoping that most of those things will stop being stressors this year.

I’ve got some important steps to take in the coming days, weeks, and months. Hopefully those steps will not only help me shed some real pounds, but also lighten the load on our shoulders.Here’s to lighter loads for us all in 2017 – Happy New Year!

Stop the Drive-bys – Just Pull Over and Shoot!

That’s one of my resolutions for 2015.

Don’t worry – I haven’t joined a gang or bought a gun.

There have been countless times I have been driving somewhere and I see something that I want to photograph. I tell myself I should pull over and take a picture, even if all I have with me is my iPhone. Have I ever actually done that? Of course not.

So no more excuses. If it’s safe to do so, I’m going to pull over and try to get the best shot I can. So please be careful when you’re out driving – there could be a photographer on the shoulder trying to capture the moment and it could be me!

It worked for me. It can work for you too!

So, you’ve made some resolutions for 2014. Have you broken them yet? I didn’t make any this year since, like most people, it doesn’t seem to take very long before they’re forgotten or abandoned.

I did, however, make some signficant changes in my life about five months ago. These changes have allowed me to drop two pant sizes (so far) and lose almost thirty pounds. It wasn’t an overnight change, and it did feel at times like it was taking much longer to see the results than it should. But it did happen and the changes have made a difference, so I thought I would share what worked for me and give thanks to those that helped me get here.

Disclaimer: I may be on the “Wellness Committee” in my office, but I’m certainly no expert. This is just what’s worked for me so far.

First of all, I couldn’t have done any of this without my husband’s help, support, and participation. Which brings me to my first tip:

1. Get a buddy.

We started this weight loss journey together for our own reasons, but going down this road together made it so much easier. A buddy provides moral support, encouragement, and accountability. Since in this case I happen to live with my buddy, that also means we eat the same meals and meal-planning is simpler. He has an extra requirement of needing a low-sodium diet, which does make it more challenging in the kitchen, but in the end we both benefit from it.

2. Keep a food journal.

I’ve heard this many times before, but never really found it convenient or easy to do this. Until I discovered a great little app for my phone called “Lose It!.” The basic version is free and it has made my life so much easier. We all keep our phones handy, so we might as well use it to record every bite before you forget about it at the end of the day. (I feel a little self-conscious taking my phone out when we go out to eat but I tell myself it’s an excusable exception to the “no phones at the table” rule.) It makes it so much easier to see how quickly the calories add up. If you fit in some exercise during the day (see tip#3), you can enter that as well and see how many calories you burned (and how many more you now have left!).  It also has a convenient bar code scanner that you can use to quickly add any packaged foods you eat (or drink). Throughout the day you can see how much protein, carbs, fats, etc., you have consumed (or still need).

And if you have a buddy (see tip #1) and he uses it too, you can be “friends” on Lose It! and share recipes and meals!

Lose It! really works!

Lose It! really works!

3. Find something physical you like to do, and do it regularly.

Kyong at Wow Dance Fit! will get you in shape!

Kyong at Wow Dance Fit! will get you in shape!

For me, it’s dancing. I’m not a great dancer and I’m not very coordinated, but Zumba is the perfect exercise for me. It burns an incredible amount of calories and you have a great time doing it. I found a great Zumba studio close to my office and I go as often as I can. When I can’t get to my Zumba class, I grab my iPhone and cue up one my walking playlists and walk for half an hour during lunch either outside if the weather is nice or in the warehouse at work (Sometimes I even throw in some Zumba moves while I’m walking!).

Have a big old warehouse to walk in? This one at my office works great on chilly days.

Have a big old warehouse to walk in? This one at my office works great on chilly days.

If I don’t get a chance to do either of those, I get on the recumbent bicycle at home. On Lose It, the exercise database is quite extensive and includes things like cleaning the house, walking the dog, golf, darts, gardening, and even [blush] “sexual activity”.

4. The Internet.

You already have it – use it! There are so many free resources available, including a million food blogs. The one I’ve used the most is Skinnytaste.com.

Great recipes at skinnytaste.com

Great recipes at skinnytaste.com

I check this site almost every day now and have found so many recipes to add to my repertoire. You can search by main ingredients, type of cuisine, dietary restrictions, etc. And the recipes are delicious. (I’ve got to thank my colleague Laurel for this one.) Besides checking this site, I also use Pinterest. I was clueless about how to use Pinterest until just recently and now that I’ve started – I can’t stop pinning. I’ve created several boards, including one for low-fat and low sodium recipes. I am also following Skinnytaste on Pinterest, which means that Pinterest automatically adds to my newsfeed similar pins from other pinners and boards. Bonus!

My own little cookbook

My own little cookbook

Since I am a little on the nerdy side, I have also created my own recipe binder, complete with meal plans for the week, printouts from the web and recipes from magazines, each categorized and in its own sheet protector (because I’m a messy cook). When we traveled last week I took this binder with us so I could pitch in with the cooking while staying with family but still stay on track.

5. Don’t deprive yourself.

If you deprive yourself of occasional treats you’re not doing yourself any favors. If you’re craving a little chocolate, have a little piece (extra dark chocolate!) . It will probably be enough to satisfy the craving. And if you’re keeping a food journal, you can see right away how it affects the rest of your day. My husband and I have established an official weigh-in day in the middle of the week (Wednesday). While we may step on the scale other days of the week, this is the one that counts.  Wednesday is also the day we reward ourselves for our efforts by indulging a little bit. It’s also date night, which works out pretty well. We meet at our favorite pub after he gets off work and enjoy a drink and something totally sinful like a burger. If it’s been a bad week in the weight-loss department, maybe we’ll split it and have a salad as well. But it’s something we look forward to and makes the rest of the week easier to manage.

Hungry yet? Great burgers at J Brian's Tap Room.

Hungry yet? Great burgers at J Brian’s Tap Room.

I am now just a couple of pounds away from reaching the “normal weight” range of the BMI scale! I won’t feel so nervous now when the nurses from our insurance company come around for “Know your Numbers” day at work. But maybe I won’t stop there. I think I will re-evaluate every so often and see how I feel and how I feel about how I look. (Another bonus: the Lose It App will help me maintain as well!)

So if I can do it, and Doug can do it, there’s no reason you can’t reach your goals as well. Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Share them in the comments below and let me know if you’re using Lose It too and want to “friend” me!