Have I mentioned that I’m an impulse shopper?  Especially for online stuff… Amazon’s “1-Click Buy” is deadly for me (not that more clicks would matter — it’s not like I don’t know my credit card number by heart and I can enter my shipping information faster than a speeding bullet or Superman or Underdog … I can never remember which one…).

So, yesterday I was reading some foodie type blogs and ran across someone who was raving about her rice cooker. Hmmm. That’s one of those things that I’ve heard lots of people profess undying love for, but I have to admit, I never understood why anyone would have a dedicated appliance to just make rice.

But then I did some research, and you know what?  I think they might have magical powers!  They can make rice, sure, but they also steam vegetables and make stews and soups and oatmeal and all sorts of stuff!  And on a timer so I can set it up when I leave in the morning and come home to piping hot food!

(I’m very exclamatory today, aren’t I?)

And so I did about 5 minutes of research and pulled the trigger on an Aroma Digitial Rice Cooker and Food Steamer.  

Isn’t she pretty?

A full meal!  All in one pot!  How great is that!

I’ll have to start hunting up some good recipes, though I’ll toss some rice and vegetables in this weekend and see what happens.  Any suggestions?

Skinny jeans.  Normal jeans.  Getting-Fat jeans.  OMG-WILL-YOU-STOP-EATING jeans.  My closet is a land of about 4 distinct clothing sizes, and one of the reasons that I started LE is that I couldn’t face the prospect of adding a fifth to the crew.

See, my weight gain hasn’t been all that gradual — it’s basically all been just since the beginning of the year — so I moved up through the line pretty quickly. In January, I was comfortably in my normal size clothes and was pretty content right there.  That’s the weight where I wouldn’t mind losing another 5-10 pounds, but if it stayed right where it is, I’m totally living with it.  And then the pounds started piling on.

Here’s a visual for you (note that I didn’t record my weight for the first few weeks of January, so that’s actually a mid-December start weight):

I lived high on the hog (heh!) from January until about June, and then I woke up and was all like, “Whaaaaat….??” when my Getting-Fat jeans started being REALLY uncomfortable. Like, old man unbuttoning his pants after dinner uncomfortable.  Once I resigned myself to buying jeans another size up, I also decided that this was the end of the line — I couldn’t allow things to get worse. But it seemed like no sooner than I promised myself this that my OMG-WILL-YOU-STOP-EATING jeans started feeling just a bit snug. And that’s when the LE email popped into my Inbox. Like I’ve said before – absolute serendipity. Obviously, my promises to myself weren’t enough to keep me accountable, but now working with LE I’m starting to see results.

So, I am really ready to lose more weight (more importantly:  INCHES!) so that I can fit back into my normal winter wardrobe.  I look at those clothes longingly and think, “Soon, my pretties, soon…”.

… and eat your vegetables!  Yes – 5 servings a day.  And we’re still keeping up with the lean protein as well — you can see how they’re edging out the foods that they don’t want you eating, eh?

Like the lean protein, this habit shouldn’t be too difficult, but requires some planning to make the magic happen. Luckily, I really enjoy vegetables and I’m looking forward to this habit.  Turning into a rabbit sounds healthy, doesn’t it? 

(Here’s a funny aside: a former boss of mine always refused to eat anything “green”… though he made an exception for key lime pie, of course.  Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled programming.)

Makes sense, really.  Fill up on vegetables and protein, leaving not as much room for the carbs and desserts.  It’s like doing homework before being allowed to play (“But Maaaaaaa… I don’t waaaanna do my homework…”).

I already have 2-3 servings a day — I cut up vegetables for my workday snacks — so it’s just a matter of getting some at dinnertime, or making some veggie-heavy egg-type breakfasts for myself.  One thing I want to try is branching out a little bit.  My veggies are pretty run-of-the-mill, and I want to spice things up a bit. Any suggestions?

One recipe that I haven’t made in a long time that is definitely in my near future is Garlic Mashed Cauliflower — I wasn’t a believer until I tried it, but it’s a damn good substitute for mashed potatoes! I know, I know, I can hear you whining about how nothing is like the real thing, and while I agree, this really is the next best thing.  Trust me on this. Pair it with a nice steak and it’s the best thing since sliced bread (see what I did there?).

And here we are again!  Another week gone.  It feels like Mother Nature decided that it was time to flip the switch to Fall — we went from high 90’s and a bazillion percent humidity, to highs in the 60’s.  I’m ready for it, though I wish that winter wasn’t close behind.

Overall, this week has been a mix of easy and difficult.  Getting the protein in requires planning but not much thought, but the lessons towards the end of the week that started in on what kinds of food should be in the house really brought about a lot of resistance.  And – I’m still struggling with that.

Here’s the round-up:

The scale continues to be a finicky shrew, but at least it’s nudging ever-so-slightly in the downward direction.  I am continuing to see some good progress on measurements, though, which I like more than results on the scale.  I have an entire wardrobe that depend on me dropping a size or two!

And this is exactly what I look like when I do side planks…
except add sweat and nothing but a look of torture on my face
Still 100% compliance on this! I’m starting to lift heavier, and I love the feeling of empowerment that gives me.  And I’m starting to see my quads start to reappear!  Woot! Next week the workouts get longer as more sets are added.  I’ll tell ya one thing, the 45″ of side planks are going to kill me one of these days.

Lean protein.  Not much to say about it other than I continue to have to work at getting some in with each meal rather than just hitting an x grams of protein per day goal.  Like the rest of the habits, just being cognizant of the habit is a success in and of itself.

Habit Log:

Weeks 1-2: Fish oil and probiotic
Weeks 3-4: Eating slowly
Weeks 5-6: Stop eating at 80% full
Weeks 7-8: Lean protein with every meal

I wrote in a previous post about how eating to 80% was hard because being hungry has always been such an uncomfortable and anxious feeling for me. I’ve come a long way in the last month — I think I can honestly say that hunger doesn’t scare me anymore.  Which is a big thing for me.

What I’ve learned isn’t anything that I didn’t already intellectually know (though knowing, believing and implementing are all very different things), but putting it into practice been important in moving me forward.  Sometimes when I thought I was hungry, I was bored or wanted to eat to fill a void.  Sometimes the hunger, given a short bit of time, went away on it’s own. I needed to be in tune with my body to figure out what it was trying to tell me instead of automatically eating to shut the feelings up.

Important lessons and it’s made it easier for me not to mindlessly eat. I’ve found that as long as I have no reason to think that I’m going to get a migraine (and I know my triggers), I can sit with hunger.  And it doesn’t kill me!  Nice.

I wonder, though, if it’s possible to go too far with this.  When does it cross a line from not letting hunger cause me to overeat (or what used to pass as a feeling of hunger) to almost enjoying that hungry feeling, knowing that hunger ought to translate to results on the scale?

I’d never be able to have an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia — I like food too much for anorexia and find it impossible to do the purge part of bulimia — but now I’m starting to see how you could get addicted to feeling hungry, strange as that sounds (don’t worry – I still don’t like being hungry). It’s almost a heady feeling, being that much in control of your body.

Obviously, I’m quite cognizant that this kind of diet/starvation mentality is not healthy and drifting towards this behavior would bring nothing but devastation. And frankly, I don’t want to live like that, no matter how much it would make the scale move downward, but I still can’t deny that I see what the allure is.  It’s like packaging up a quick-fix to being overweight, right?  Just be strong and have a lot of willpower.  Lucky for me, I have no intention of doing it this way.

The end goal for this whole year-long process is to learn how to eat when I’m hungry (preferably healthy food), eat slowly, and then stop when I’m satisfied. If I can do this on a consistent basis, there should never be a need to starve myself or worry about regaining the weight. My body knows what it needs to survive, it’s just a matter of listening closely and interpreting the signals correctly.

After days of hot and humidity, a front moved through, depositing much needed rain and cooler temps that are pretty awesome. And I decided that I needed to take advantage of it — vacation day, here I come!

So yes, spontaneously decided to take a day off today to enjoy the weather and am really glad I did.  I got some stuff done, but more importantly, I got outside with the pups and did a lot of walking.  And it was great.  No better way to spend a day off.

And in the spirit of a day off, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for a real post but I’ll leave you with a picture of my cute dogs, which is just as good.

Remember yesterday when I was talking all about “I can’t” and how evil it is and how no one should say it ever?

Karma.  She’s a bitch, you know?

Today’s lesson was entitled “Kitchen Makeover” and before you jump to conclusions, no, they weren’t giving away free appliances and cabinets (damn!).  Instead they were talking about the stuff inside the appliances and cabinets — all the crap food that hides out in there — and going through and getting rid of anything that wasn’t healthy.

Here’s an excerpt:

And want to know what my immediate reaction was?  “I can’t throw out everything that’s not remotely healthy!  I can’t do it!  I can’t! I can’t I can’t!!”  I almost stomped my feet like a toddler having a tantrum too, but managed to refrain.  Barely.

Nice, eh?

And yes – it’s not “I can’t” it’s “I don’t wanna” (said with my lower lip sticking out).  My house doesn’t have a whole lot of stuff on the list, but I definitely have some of them.  Within the past few weeks, I’ve made a point of not buying any of my trigger foods — chocolate, ice cream, marshmallows (yup, that’s right) — so it wouldn’t be easy for me to binge when things got tough.  But I’ve got offenders from the list:  candy, soda, alcohol (nothing better than Iced Cake Vodka served over ice!), frozen dinners, etc.  For me, some are foods of convenience, some are just to fulfill cravings when they come up.  The bargain I made with myself was that I wasn’t allowed to have anything in the house that I couldn’t stay away from or just eat one portion of.  And I’m living up to the bargain.  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

I mean, sure, I know that in a perfect world, I would be better off without these foods, but I’m feeling a huge resistance to actually making this happen.  I tell myself that I really don’t want this to turn into a “diet” — I don’t want any food to be off limits — but the fact of the matter is that not having it in the house doesn’t mean I can’t ever eat it.  It just means that it’s not on-hand and easy to get to, that’s all.  And still…

So, I’m working on this “I can’t”.  I’ll do a survey of my pantry and fridge, see what’s in there that is on the throw away list, and figure things out from there.  

(know what I just noticed? … cookies aren’t on the list… oooo I found a loophole…!!!)

I was just having an online discussion with one of my triathlon friends about what people mean when they say “I can’t” do something.

I think that when I say “I can’t” do something what I almost always mean is “I don’t want” to do something.  It’s not a priority, it’s not as important as other things, or I don’t want to make the changes necessary to do the “I can’t” something. And it’s okay not to want to do something!  But I need to do myself a favor, and don’t try to pass it off as a “can’t” because all that does is get in the way.

Sure, there are times when “I can’t” fits — say, asking me to play softball when I had a broken arm** — but more often I’m using it as an excuse to avoid doing something difficult. I really try to monitor my speech and thoughts for “I can’ts” because it usually signals resistance to a situation and and exploring the why of it might be very beneficial.

For example, at the beginning of the eat slowly habit, I found myself saying, “But I can’t eat lunch slowly — I don’t have enough time”.  Truth is, it’s tough to eat slowly and so I was trying to create a plausible excuse to squirm out of doing the right thing for one meal a day.  Of course, that’s bull:  I have 30 minutes for lunch.  More than enough time.  And – by eating slowly, I don’t eat as much and so don’t need as much time.  Wow.  See how that works?

“I can’t run”.  Of course I can, I just need to run slower.

“I can’t fit in reading the assignments”.  Of course I can, I just need to turn off the TV at night for awhile.

“I can’t stop eating cookies!”.  Um, yea. The jury is out on this one still.

“Can’t” is the enemy of getting things done and sometimes it’s a clue to what it is that I think I need or want to do, but hold back because it’s going to take work to get there. “Can’t” signifies some sort of push back to change. It all goes back to getting outside my comfort zone and venturing into new territory.

So, take an inventory of your “can’ts”.  If it’s important to you, is it really a “can’t”?  Or a “don’t want to”?  Or “this is too hard”?  The difference between these might be quite telling.

** True story:  I was 2 months out from breaking both the bones in my forearm, surgery to put the pieces back together, practically no range of motion, unable to bend my fingers or feel my hand and I played in a softball tournament because my team would have otherwise had to forfeit.  I never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer.  And no, we didn’t win.

Today was a challenge.

We have an auditor in the office for a couple of days this week, and that’s a special occasion for us.  See, I work in an office that’s on the site of a steel mill and security is incredibly, stupidly tight.  Let me put it this way: a few weeks ago I forgot my drive-in pass and despite the fact that I’ve been going in and out of this mill site for over 10 years, I wasn’t allowed in.  So, when we get visitors (especially ones we’re trying to win over), we go all out.  Which means:  FREE FOOD!

Now, I’ve always been all over that.  Gotta take advantage of food I don’t have to prepare that’s brought directly to me, right? And today Olive Garden food was being catered in! Sure, it’s not the best Italian food out there, but – again – FREE.

Of course, these days free ain’t what it used to be.  Meaning, free = giant nutritional trap door = no happy green check mark at the end of the day. I know this for a fact:  I can’t be trusted with unlimited food in front of me — I’ll eat and eat and eat.  You’d find me face first in a big basket of breadsticks, if you know what I mean.

I needed a good strategy to get through the day.  Do I trust myself to partake but not over-eat?  Do I bring my own lunch to eat while everyone else has Olive Garden?  Do I quit my job?

I ended up bringing my lunch, figuring that at worst, it would sit in the fridge for another day.  Honestly, though, I wasn’t looking forward to sitting around a table with other people chowing down on more exciting food.  And then it struck me:  I would eat early! I found someone else in the office who was also avoiding the whole Olive Garden thing and ate about 30 minutes before the good stuff arrived.  Brilliant!  By the time the smell of garlic was wafting towards my desk, I was already 80% full.

Go, me!

So, the lesson for the day?  Always try to have a game plan.  Or at the very least, recognize challenges before they come up and hit you over the head with a breadstick.

I can hardly believe it, but this is my 50th post!  How ’bout them apples?

It’s been a busy day — work was jam-packed, then I had a trainer beatdown (i.e. personal training session) that will likely leave me walking like a 93 year old by tomorrow morning, edited a paper for my sister, and shortly will have my video meeting with my LE group. Busy for a Monday, certainly.

But all good.  I’ve done well today with getting lean protein into all of my meals, which I seem to struggle with at night when I’m not cooking dinner.  And I’m still working on eating slowly and to 80%, but I think I’ll need to be perpetually mindful of these.  I wonder if they’ll ever become something that I don’t even need to think about?

Anyway, thanks to everyone who keeps reading — that’s one of the reasons that I keep posting here day after day (the other reason being that I like to hear myself talk…lol). And if there’s ever any question you’d like me to answer or something you want me to write about, let me know!  I’m guessing that at some point over the next 306 posts I might need some ideas…