Friday, September 14, 2012

I want a do-over for today

Today has officially been one of the worst days I've had in a long time. I even called my aunt to lament my day.

It started off kinda sucky; I didn't get much sleep last night, and I was down in the doldrums, lonely, and a bit depressed. I decided to shake it off, and go for a walk. Grabbed the leash, and enjoyed a LOVELY walk (which I'll post about separately) with my dog. 40 minutes, very relaxing.

But I walked into a shitstorm when I returned home.

Four missed calls... two from the school, four from my sister in law.

Turns out my youngest was sick, and I'd forgotten my cell phone, so the school wound up calling her when they couldn't raise either me or my husband on the phone.

I managed to catch my SIL before she left work to pick up my daughter, thankfully. I went to the school, to find that my four year old was COVERED in spots!  So, straight to the doctor. Turns out, she had an allergic reaction to her antibiotic! So we had to stop t hat, and start the antihistamine. VERY unpleasant. The pharmacist was a little startled, it was a pretty nasty one.

So, we left the pediatrician, and lo and behold... FLAT TIRE!

Seriously, universe?

I nursed the car up the hill to the Fountain Car Wash, where they very kindly refilled the air in the tire (slow leak, thankfully... I can limp it along till hubby's home).

So, finally made it back home. Called the hospital to check on my husband.

They won't tell me when, but they did say that he won't be home today.

This sucks, because they don't really do releases on the weekend, so at the very soonest, it'll be Monday.

So I'm on my own for the weekend. I was hoping to have a family trip to the Ocmulgee Indian Festival this weekend; I'd even invited some cousins and my aunt. It looks like they probably won't be able to make it. I'm still going... it'll distract the girls, and frankly, me. It's always a wonderful treat. I'll take lots of pictures to share with you guys.  Basically, we have these special monuments here, Indian burial mounds, and every year, several tribes return home to celebrate. There's food, stands, performances... the whole area really comes alive. There's a weird sort of energy; the sound of the drums, resonating off of those ancient mounds. It's very moving, and enjoyable.

We'll still go, and we'll enjoy it, but we'll miss my husband, and my family.

A lot.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Retraining the stress response

Today, my family careened headlong into another family crisis.

I found myself trying to turn to old standbys to deal with stress, and made a conscious effort to redirect that instinctive response. You see, what I tend to do when I'm stress is one of two things depending on my level of stress in a crisis situation.

1) Ignore my own needs to the extreme, including skipping meals and ignoring my body's need for sleep and food.

OR (and more commonly)

2) Head to the nearest fast food restaurant for some high-calorie comfort.

After the girls got out of school, I thought about treating them to pizza, t hen decided that I wanted to make some old comfort food at home... and make it healthier. So we did, and it satisfied them so much they didn't even ask for snacks after. Later that evening, we went to the hospital to take my husband some important things, and headed home.

As I drove back home from the hospital, I starting thinking, "We should drop by McDonald's. A happy meal would take the girls' minds off of this."

Then I realized... holy cow, is that the message I want to send my daughters?  That when you're feeling down, fries and a cheeseburger is the healthy response?

No. I don't. Even though I wanted, with all my being, to hit that drive through for some crappy, barely-qualifies-as-meat burgers, salty fries, and a tea, I made a very conscious decision to NOT stop there. For starters, we'd already had dinner, and it was past the girls' bedtime, so it was time to head home.

So I drove right by McDonald's.  I suppressed my urge to treat them to some Waffle House, too, as we drove by that. Instead, I redirected their tears with a funny story about the dog (who was with us, and his ears flapped in the breeze) flying. They were laughing, and soon I had them tucked in. Instead of a meal, I let them stay up a little later and watch some cartoons (normally a weekend-only treat at bedtime.)

I ate one piece of cheese and a cup of milk to settle my stomach and bring my calorie count up to my minimum, but that's the extent of it. I'm planning on going to boot camp in the morning to release some of this built up tension.

So will I maintain my willpower all week? I don't know. I'm taking this one moment at a time, one urge at a time, but I'm proud of my efforts so far. The last time this happened, I spent the whole time indulging in crap I didn't need. This time, I'm treating my body better, and setting a better example to my kids of how to deal with sadness and stress. And even if I fail, that's okay. This isn't about perfection. I have a lifetime of momentum to overcome. I can only do it one step at a time.

Photo courtesy of BrownGuacamole

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nummy side dish, inspired by my 6 year old

As I mentioned yesterday, my oldest daughter (6) came up with a cool idea for a salad, and as promised, today I made it for her! I've shared the recipe on Sparkpeople right here.

Carrots in spiral slicer

Here's the spiral slicer I used to make magic. I did the carrots with the flat blade, which makes neat little ribbons and chips out of them.

Spiral sliced carrot chips

The carrots, all chipped up and ready to be mixed

Peeled zucchini

Freshly peeled zucchini! 

Spiral sliced zucchini

I use the small blades to make angel-hair-sized zucchini. This mixes great with pasta, or substitutes for pasta entirely!

Veggies mixed in bowl: zucchini, carrots, and tomato

After mixing the carrots and zucchini, I chopped up some very crisp roma tomatoes!

All ingredients combined and tossed in Italian dressing

Added a smidgen of cheese to the stuff (maybe an ounce, total) and tossed with her favorite dressing: Italian! Seriously, ever since her first salad at Olive Garden, it's her favorite. Give her the choice, it'll almost always be italian.  Makes every waiter we meet give a second take.

My 6 year old sampling her brilliant recipe

The mastermind trying her brilliant idea

My youngest enjoying her (dressing free) salad

The youngest (4) devouring her zucchini

Not just attractive, but fun to eat! She wasn't as crazy about the zucchini as she thought she'd be (she likes it better sautéed with garlic and olive oil, the little foodie), but she ate all the carrots and tomatoes, and her little sister ate her non-dressing-version with great gusto! 

Tasty grilled ribs (bone in)

Added bonus: The delectable ribs grilled by my grillmaster husband. And yes, they were every bit as good as they looked. I will say with pride I only ate a small portion of these! 

Personally, I had two bowls of the salad myself (with ranch dressing) and plan to add this to my regular rotation! Without dressing, this salad is about 60 calories. About 100 with dressing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

From the mouths of babes

Today my six year old had a FANTASTIC idea for a dish. I got a spiral slicer a while back, and I've throughly enjoyed it. It's a great alternative to (or enhancement for) pasta. Run a freshly peeled zucchini through it, and you have a light, filling way to get extra veggies. I'm a little low on calories for the day, because of an indulgent breakfast and lunch (new york strip for lunch, and a sausage and cheese mcmuffin for breakfast.)

I tried a little experiment and found that while it requires a bit more elbow grease to make it work, carrots work too! I shredded half a carrot to add to my zucchini for some more bulk and flavor. I sauteed the mixture with a smidge of olive oil and some ground sea salt and garlic. Tossed with some lemon pepper alfredo... it was SO amazing, and filling.

Which brings me to my daughter. She wanted some too, so I served her some mixed zucchini and carrots as well (with tomato sauce.) She had a fantastic idea: Salad!

She wants me to make a shredded carrot and zucchini salad, with tomatoes, cheese, and italian dressing (her favorite.)

How do you say no to THAT?

So I am going to make that for her tomorrow. And there will be pictures!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

When self control is out of control

So the biggest problem I have is eating. I'm good at exercising; I LIKE to exercise! Just now, for example, rather than give in to the fridge-rooting snack attack, I went for a bike ride. Now, I don't often do that... today was an example of a superlative moment inspired by Sparkcoach. It was even less exercise and more fun!

But realistically, the reason I haven't lost more weight than I have is I eat too much. NEver enough to gain weight, really (I tend to naturally eat a maintenance, now that I'm more aware of what I eat) but without a weight-loss deficit.

So I emailed Sparkcoach and asked for some advice, and I really, really like the response I got. Basically, the suggestion was to focus on the one or two foods that I have trouble with. I've noticed that when I eat pasta for lunch or skip breakfast, I tend to make poorer choices later, or I'm more likely to snack.  I love pasta though, so what do I do?

I think what I need to do is focus more on balanced nutrition. Pasta's just fine... it's good for me, I usually eat whole wheat. But by itself, it's not enough to really keep me full. So I'm going to work on always adding a salad,  and heavier amounts of protein to go with it.  I want to up my veggie count; perhaps add a can of spinach to my pasta sauce? I have a good alfredo recipe with chicken, but I can definitely add some more veggies to it. Maybe some roasted tomatoes or peppers.

Yesterday I actually even juiced up my ramen noodle cup by adding a can of peas and carrots to it!

We're a little tight on the budget side right now (I was supposed to get paid Friday, but the labor day weekend means I'll get paid on Tuesday) so I'm struggling to provide food for everyone, much less healthy food for me.

So my action plan is going to be to focus on augmenting or replacing my problem foods (I love zucchini pasta, so I can either mix or replace pasta with that) and then once I have that in order, I need to focus on managing my stress levels. It's dialed up to 11 around here, with school, my husband's health, and the addition of more responsibilities through church (I've temporarily taken up my old job as webmaster while they find someone else), the ramping up of the NaNoWriMo preparation season...  I'm just about ready to lose my mind.

So I want to invite you to join me in a September challenge.  I'm going to focus on one problem area at a time, and eliminating those, so that I can take on the next three months (generally the toughest, most stressful months of the year for me) head on, and get this weight loss challenge in gear!

Photo courtesy of publicenergy