“And just like that, another weekend gone!”
Inevitably, if you live in my house, this is what you will hear at least one time on Sunday. It is such a strange day around here as we are partly sad that the weekend is coming to a close. And yet, when I sit down on a day like today and my house is clean, my tummy is full, the laundry is spinning in the dryer and almost all of my to-do list is checked off, there’s a part of me that is equally satisfied that I have put another week of accomplishments behind me and can start anew.
Aside from accomplished, if I had to pick a word that summed up last week, it would be: MODIFY [1. Note: this word applies specifically to me personally. If I had to pick one that summed up my household as a whole, it would be SKYRIM because that game is literally all that’s been going on in this house between the two of us. It’s not a competition, per se, it’s just that we’re both pretty addicted to it so you’ll find us doing things like rushing to beat the other one home from work to claim the XBox. It is shameful!]
With it being the first week of the month and the first week of the New Year, I figured it was time for me to start making good on some of the resolutions and goals I had set. The key here is that I’m not throwing myself into them full force only to burn out in a few weeks as I have done in the past. Rather, I am making small modifications in my life that I hope will help me develop better habits that will last me through the year and the rest of my life.
Most of it is health related. It was no surprise to me when I went to my yearly visit, my doctor emphasized losing the weight more than once as a suggestion to some of the issues I felt I was having (always cold, always tired, complete lack of sex drive …). She also mentioned that I could have PCOS brought on by my weight gain, which is ironic to me because from what I’ve read, the PCOS can cause weight gain. It’s like a Catch-22 all up in here.
I knew this – I knew I had been carrying too much around for too long. I’ve just always preferred lounging on the couch to exercising and eating delicious comfort food to salads. And drinking way to much diet soda. And I knew I had to stop doing all that.
But this time, something in my brain just clicked. A lot of times, I would throw myself full force into “healthy” – try to exercise, cut out all soda, eat only Lean Cuisine meals. And inevitably, I would burn out and be back to my slovenly ways.
I decided that instead of going full force, I was going to begin to modify my habits slightly and build them up over time. I wasn’t going to deny myself anything, I was just going to cut back on it. And I was going to let my willpower and determination to do most of the job. I figure if I can spend hours upon hours lost in a fantastical world, meticulously doing quests and making armor and crafting potions with no end in sight, then I can also tell myself to keep on the right track and stick to that.
My goal is not to lose weight though I anticipate that will be a slowly earned side effect. My goal is merely to change my lifestyle and start making better decisions without being miserable.
It is all baby steps.
We did find out that I have hypothyroidism, which is kind of what I suspected and why I asked the doctor to test me. This is partially due to genetics (my mom has it and has had it most of her life) and partially due to the symptoms I was exhibiting (see above). It’s not a big deal and can be treated with a pill that I take every day (and have started this week) but it’s nice to know that my instincts were right and hopefully, when things balance out, I will start to feel a change.
I’ve cut back on my diet soda intake. I always try to do this because I know I drink way too much – like, if I’m home, I can go through a two-liter in a day. In the past, I’ve tried stopping it all together and I was miserable. Just recently, I had cut back to only drinking it in the morning and switching over to water at lunch. But then I found myself still craving the soda and kept caffeine-free in the house which I would gorge on at night. Good because there was no caffeine, bad because I was still drinking too much soda. I was also buying two in the morning to keep me going so add that to my inventory. But this week, I limited myself to one 20-oz in the morning then switched over to water in the evening and that’s pretty much all I’ve stuck too. I’ve found that I am miserable until I get that one in the morning but for the rest of the day, I am perfectly fine. It’s almost getting to the point where all I’m craving in the morning is the caffeine as the soda tastes overly sweet and artificial when I do drink it. I also stopped buying soda for home. It used to be a panic if we were running low but for some reason, I just didn’t buy any this week and whenever I was craving a drink, I’d fill my glass up with ice cold water. And I’m ok with that. I even limited myself to buying three 20-oz soda when I went to the store on Friday night so that I could have one to wake up with each weekend morning but not drink it the rest of the day. [2. I treated myself to an extra one Friday night because I didn’t have to work on Saturday morning and I knew we would be up playing games all night]
The key was not keeping it in the house. Kind of like out of sight, out of mind. If it’s not here for me to habitually drink it, I have no choice but to drink water. And I am ok with that, especially if it’s ice cold.
The other thing I’ve done is just to keep reminding myself to make better food decisions. Every morning, I get a two hard boiled eggs from the cafeteria at work and a cup of yogurt with some granola and fruit. I only eat the egg whites, which give me an amazing burst of energy and fullness. And I let the yogurt and granola satiate the sweetness and carb craving. Working in a place with a cafeteria that serves these makes it extremely easy and if there’s one thing I’m motivated by, it’s ease. But I was worried about the weekend, partially because Steve likes to hit up the fast food joints for Saturday and/or Sunday morning breakfast and partially because we had no healthy alternatives in the house. So again, at the store Friday night, I bought some Yoplait Lite yogurt [3. The only kind I really like] with granola and figured I could attempt to boil some eggs at home. This worked out beautifully this morning when I had two eggs, done perfectly [4. Totally proud of myself for that because I actually wouldn’t even eat eggs for the longest time let alone knew how to boil them], and my yogurt while Steve made waffles. His waffles smelled delicious but I was too excited about my breakfast to care.
When it comes to lunch and dinners, it’s been a bit challenging too. I had salads two days at work and the other two days, I ate from the hot bar, choosing the fish and chicken over the red meat, the rice over the potatoes and asking for a heaping load of veggies. Three nights at home I made various recipes [5. Crockpot Italian Soup, chili with Rotisserie chicken and this] that were filling and maybe not super-duper healthy but certainly no where near as bad as some of the alternatives. I also tried to make better choices when eating them – omitting the cheese and chips I normally have with the chili, using garden pasta [6. Which had better nutritional information that some of the whole grain pasta] for the Lawry’s recipe. We went out to dinner on Thursday night to a place renown for the fried seafood and while I did cheat a little and ate some hush puppies [7. Their hush puppies are to DIE FOR!] and a few bites of a sinfully delicious appetizer [8. Lightly fried grit cake topped with shrimp, alfredo sauce, cajun seasoning and cheese and bacon – OH SO GOOD!], I ultimately ordered their Caribbean jerk salmon and red rice, which was just as good if not better than the appetizers.
Yesterday morning, when Steve asked me if I wanted anything from McDonald’s, I told him an Egg McMuffin and one hash brown, instead of the sausage biscuit with cheese and two hash browns I normally get.
Today, I had Campbell’s Select Harvest Healthy Request Soup soup for lunch. Instead of corn dogs. Which are still sitting in my freezer. Not even thinking about them though.
And the point to all this is that I ate better than I have been. Before, it was kind of just like, screw it, it all looks good let’s shove it all into my pie hole. Now, I think about what I’m eating and when I’m eating. I was still a bit hungry after lunch today but not awful and I know that’s more because I’m modifying what I’m eating. But instead of scrounging the cabinets, I just told myself I would eat later, got some water and continued on with my business.
I haven’t really deprived myself of anything either. Steve had some Oreos earlier the week and offered me one and I took it – but it was only one. We had a BBQ with some friends last night with pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked beans and cheesy broccoli. I sampled it all but only in small portions and I stopped at one plate.
It is all diligance and being firm with myself. Reminding my brain that there are better choices and better foods that are just as delicious. And while it’s not the funnest thing in the world, because I do still get cravings, I certainly feel like it’s beneficial. I don’t feel so miserable after I eat, I am sleeping better, I have more energy. I still enjoy eating, which is a plus. And while I look forward to eating, since I am fighting hunger (which always happens when I start to modify my diet because I am ultimately eating less calories), I don’t view it as a hobby or a pastime or something to do when I’m bored. I eat when I’m hungry, even if it’s late at night and then I try to keep it small and healthy.
I know we’re only a week in but something about it feels different, more concrete than any other time. Maybe because they are small steps. Maybe because I finally had someone outside tell me that this is important. Maybe because I finally realized that I just need to suck it up and do it. But I am enjoying it, enjoying challenging myself, enjoying reminding my brain to fight back and not make the bad decisions [9. I also haven’t had a cigarette since New Year’s Eve. Easier than modifying my eating habits though because I wasn’t really a full time smoker].
Maybe it’s because I’ve already conquered one Everest that I have strength for the whole mountain range.
Whatever it is, it sure feels good and I can only hope it lasts! Because if this is what life is like when challenge yourself, I don’t want to go back.