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A Grain-Free Week

Switching it Up

A month or so ago, a friend and I became accountability buddies. We checked in regularly, logged our food and exercise and kept track of the pounds. It went well for a couple of weeks, maybe more, and I did drop about 9 pounds. But lately, that’s changed and I’ve gone back to the old “up three, down two” game. My blog writing pitching took me to some paleo sites so I started looking into what changing to that kind of diet entailed. As previously mentioned, it isn’t for me.

What I did realize was that the last time I dropped a good amount of weight, over 30 pounds to be exact, I not only checked in with MyFitnessPal regularly, but I cut out most grains. For me, that’s doable in the short term or perhaps, in sprints. So for the last week and a half, that’s exactly what I did.

I’d like to say I got immediate results, but I think your body and even your eating habits have to acclimate to the change. So it took about a week before I started seeing a noticeable change; not only in weight but in energy. The protein-rich diet fills me up without bogging me down. I’m sleeping better than I was, too! In just over a week, I’ve dropped about 3 pounds, which thrills the heck out of me.

Making it Work During the Holidays

Spending Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law will be challenging. Her house is redolent with her Christmas baking frenzy this time of year, and now that she’s learned a few more tricks in her culinary arts classes, she’s become even more creative. However, she is also incredibly supportive. Didn’t she start learning how to convert recipes to gluten-free because I found the gluten was irritating my stomach after awhile? She’s already stocked up on plain yogurt so I can enjoy my usual breakfast instead of reaching for something grain laden.

Though she won’t give up grain for her or her hubby, nor would I expect them too, she has come up with alternatives for me. Heck, I may snag one of those pumpkin pancakes with Christmas breakfast, but will fill up on the eggs and fruit or whatever other non-grain alternatives there might be. And she’s making sure dinners can be eaten without pasta or rice if I so desire.

All in all, I deem this experiment a cautious success. I’m also counting on my daughter’s usual pattern in which I accumulate between 16000 and 18000 steps per day during my visit. Even if I only manage to keep the grains at a minimum while I’m there, I suspect I’ll avoid the usual bulking up which usually occurs Christmas week.

Setting up for my Next Sprint

Better still, no matter how good or bad I am this week, I’ll be ready to do another week or two sprint with no grain. If I can do about 2 weeks on and one off, I can see me setting a pattern because the two weeks I’m off of grains will get my body accustomed to doing without. If I eat a moderate amount during my week off, I’ll be able to tell just how much makes me feel sluggish and how much screws with my sleep and meditation patterns. If that amount is small, it will simply make it easier to give it up for longer periods of time.

Not Quite Paleo

Giving up grain of all kinds is a huge step for me. I’ve actually given up starches almost entirely. I’ve had potatoes a couple of times, but aside from that, it’s been protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. Snacks include yogurt dip and veggies, almonds and dried cranberries, though even those have slowed down as my body stays full from the increased protein. I don’t however, see a day when I’ll give up dairy or legumes. I love lentils in my turkey-pumpkin chili and my fat-free yogurt and honey in the morning is a quick, easy, no-brainer to get me going. Yes, I may start pre-making the egg casserole I used to take to work, but it’s not going to be a daily or even weekly change. Too many mornings, all I can stomach is that 1/2 cup of yogurt. It isn’t until after noon, and sometimes 2 or 3 before my stomach is ready for anything heavier. But at least I know myself.

Many of us realize we need to change our eating habits to something healthier, but there’s no point in changing to something which has no appeal. You just won’t stick with it unless you’re some kind of masochist who gets off on torturing yourself. When I was pregnant with my twins, I saw a nutritionist and the first thing she did was to ask me what foods I liked and which ones I didn’t. She wasn’t about to help me design a meal plan containing foods I disliked or omitting everything I liked. Nearly 30 years later, I still take her words to heart.

Living in a Land of Plenty

I am very fortunate in that I love fresh produce, and even luckier still that I live in an area Harvest box 11-18-14 view 2where it is abundantharvest box 11-4-14 12 months a year. You can bring me to tears with a nice bunch of broccoli or cauliflower, a bucket of brussels sprouts or a lovely member of the squash family. My daughter has even taught me new and different ways to enjoy these wondrous treats. That very love and abundance is what makes this new path easier to tread. No rice? No problem. I’ll just eat more of this lovely veggie with a little bit of chicken stir-fry. No bread? Let’s throw a few more veggies in the pan and scramble them into a fluffy pile of eggs. Stir fry nearly done 10-22-14

Do I feel deprived knowing I’ll have to pass on the pizza or sushi? Not really. In fact, many times there are versions of sushi which are riceless anyway. Have you ever tried a hand roll without rice? Very tasty! And if I really want pizza, I’ll just wait for my off week. If I still want it by then, so be it.

Leaving Behind a Life of Constrictions

Two years ago, I left behind a life of waking with an alarm to go do a job which built up someone else’s nest egg. I left a world of someone else’s rules and rush hour and being around people even when I didn’t want to be. I’ve made a lot of changes over the least two years, some good, some not so good. I’ve established some healthy habits which have fallen by the wayside, perhaps to be picked up again in the future…and perhaps not.

But I have learned that if I make changes to my life that don’t make me happy, I’ll find a way to undermine those changes or just wander off in search of something new. And yes, I’ve done both. But eating is really easy. I love to eat, I enjoy cooking and find more of the healthy foods appealing than not. Realizing that I need a specific time frame to go off track was the missing link, though. If I lock myself into a week or a couple of days or whatever, I’m more likely to say during the weeks I’m supposed to be diligent “Nope, that has grain. You can’t have it this week, but give it a few more days and you can indulge if you even want to by then.” And for now, that’s enough.

How do you keep yourself on track with those healthy habits you form? Are you just one of those whose internal motivation is enough, or do you have to make deals with yourself so you’ll do what you know is best anyway? Do you hold the results up like a mirror so you can easily see how following those habits has improved your life? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Tonight’s gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful for fresh produce year-round.
2. I am grateful for small successes.
3. I am grateful for the things which motivate me.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities and ideas which help me make necessary changes to my path.
5. I am grateful for abundance: success, motivation, inspiration, support groups, cheerleaders, friends, family, joy, love, dancing, bliss, peace, harmony, health, happiness, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

October 15, 2014 Accountability is an individual thing #shericonaway #blogboost

Self-monitoring tools can be more effective than you realize.

Here it is, Day 3 of “getting back on track”. I’ve been to the gym twice so far, picked up my harvest box, planned a healthy dish from its contents, but most important of all, kept track of food and exercise using MyFitnessPal.

As I basked in the glory of the loss of a few tenths of a pound, it occurred to me that tracking my activities is not only making me more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth, but of how long I’m sitting, and how much I’m really moving. I spend more time doing things like cooking and cleaning than I’d realized. Simply putting the dish for some of this week’s dinners together meant standing for the better part of an hour, and that doesn’t include the time it took to clean up my mess afterwards, nor to package the leftovers in single-serving containers.

Despite the fact that I watched a few hours of television last night (Tuesdays are the heavy night for my DVR), I found that I was more aware of how long I sat (though the ache in my right thigh from Monday’s pilates class contributed to my inability to sit for very long), and got up to do dishes or just walk around the house much more often, knowing that I had to log it and make sure I exercised enough to cover everything I put into my mouth and then some.

I have friends who swear by Weight Watchers because they love having to be accountable to someone else. I won’t argue the fact that many people see wonderful results, but you have to stay with it forever so you don’t fall off the track. I, myself, lost about 30 pounds on their program many years ago, but since I didn’t continue attending weekly meetings, I gained it all back and then some.

Motivation is similar to validation. Find what works and do it!

I have the utmost respect for people who use Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or any other program which helps to remind them to eat healthy and stay active while giving them recognition for their success. I just don’t have the patience to stay on someone else’s schedule for the long term, so I have to find ways that work for me, and feed my own motivational needs. The last time I religiously logged all of my food and activities on MyFitnessPal, I lost over 30 pounds, and, in fact, have not gained it all back!

By now, it should be crystal clear. Find what works and that you’re most likely to stick with for good. One way or another, you need to be accountable to someone, even if it’s just yourself. Think of it like a To Do List for a healthier lifestyle.

More time in the day means more moving

I have to say that once the motivation kicks in, everything begins to work better. Healthier eating means more energy and less sleeping in. More time means more things get done, and more movement happens. Since the pain in my thigh turned into pain through my IT band, I decided to give my body a gym break, but iced and foam rolled the painful areas several times today. Doing everything just before I headed out to get the rest of the ingredients for my Veggistrone meant that I got to walk out the kinks, and by the time I got home a couple of hours later, I felt a lot less pain.

In my search for a recipe that used a lot of cabbage, I found one for Veggistrone. Of course, I modified the bejeebers out of the recipe and ended up with something even lower in calories than the original, but high in allMinestrone soup with cabbage manner of vitamins and minerals, made even better by my super fresh veggies. I decided to double the recipe so I’d have some to freeze. Silly me! Even with my modifications, I got exactly what the recipe promised; twenty servings. I had one for dinner, put seven in a container in the refrigerator, and the rest in single servings for the freezer. I might be eating the stuff all winter, but it could be a lot worse! However, the promised prep time, start to finish of 1 3/4 hours was a little low. All told, it took me 2 1/2 hours to put the soup together and get it cooked, but think of all the calories I burned in the process (more, in fact, than the bowl I ate for dinner!)

Last but not least (then I’ll shut up about this, I promise) I put my FitBit back on just before I left to go shopping. Despite the fact that I didn’t put it on until after 11AM, I still walked over 5,000 steps and nearly 3 miles! I’m getting so psyched about improving my health that I just can’t stand it! (and I’m sure, by now, you’re rather sick of my raving too!)

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I decided to join CSA. Getting a harvest box every week means I’m eating a lot more fresh fruits and veggies and a lot less crap.
2. I am grateful for my increased energy.
3. I am grateful that I am now actively rejecting the idea of being completely lazy or indulging in take out food. I’m sure my body will be thanking me as well!
4. I am grateful that making positive changes is easier than it seems when I’m at the bottom of the mountain looking up.
5. I am grateful for abundance: energy, health, stamina, joy, motivation, inspiration and prosperity.

Namaste

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