2020 is at an end, and for me (physically speaking), it has been pretty good.
I am actually looking forward to what 2021’s final graphic (like the one above) will be.
Pluses for the year: weight loss, walking 2+ miles regularly, ups and downs for emotional health because of Covid, but overall, I’m in a better place both physically and emotionally.
I have established some healthy routines during 2020. I eat a mostly healthy diet without totally foregoing treats. I have a bedtime routine that helps me sleep better – I drink a cup of herbal tea late in the evening and go to bed earlier than before (still late, though). I’ve stuck with a skin care routine for several months now. In the past I’ve taken my good skin inheritance for granted. However, at 71, even great genes can’t keep away the wrinkles and dark spots forever.
I read something (don’t know where or what) about putting oneself first, which is hard for me. I’m accustomed to taking care of chores and responsibilities before doing what I know is healthy for me – like walking at the park. Now I do my walking first. Then I handle other responsibilities. That’s a definite plus. It’s important to making self-care a priority.
I also talked with my doctor in April and got a prescription for an anti-depressant. I had taken one years ago and saw no difference at all. So I stopped taking it, and I saw no difference when then either. I went about 15 years without anything. However, I now realize that I probably would have been helped if I’d requested a different anti-depressant all those years ago because I can feel a change with this one. Nothing major because I don’t need anything major. However I’m able to function in a better state of mind as opposed to a stressed state of mind.
So here’s to 2021 – may we see Covid become no big deal (ha ha!), the USA be led by the person who legitimately won (whoever that might be), may travel be safe and easily accomplished again, and may we all be healthy and grateful for our innumerable blessings.
A few weeks ago I decided to start a bedtime routine to hopefully help me develop the habit of going to bed earlier. I’m a night owl, and I frequently would stay up past midnight. I wanted to change that – not by much, but if I can regularly go to bed by 11:00, that would be great.
The routine I’ve established is to brush my teeth, wash/tone/moisturize my face, put on my PJs, and then prepare a relaxing cup of herbal tea. I sit in my recliner and slowly sip my tea – savoring it – being mindful. When I finish the tea, I rinse the cup and put it away, and then I go to bed.
The research behind establishing a bedtime routine is that our bodies become accustomed to the pattern. So once that herbal tea hits my system, my body says, “Okay, I’m sleepy! Go to bed, Carol!”
I’ve been doing better on WW since I started this routine. I don’t know if there is a connection between the two or not. However, it is working for me, and I’m enjoying the variety of herbal teas that I’m trying. I’m drinking herbal tea during the day, too. As the weather gets cooler, I will likely drink it even more often during the day.
And I have to mention that one thing that piqued my interest in herbal teas is that I’m a fan of the History Channel’s show “Alone.” And this past season, so many of the contestants talked about making tea from the plants they found growing around them. “How to make teas” was probably one of the topics that they covered in their “boot camp” before the competition started. And I can understand how knowing which plants to use and how to make the tea would be beneficial in a situation such as that.
This afternoon, I started researching herbal teas. I haven’t read much about them before now. I was eager to find out if herbal teas offer any concrete health benefits. And, by George, they do!
First of all, herbal teas aren’t really teas because they aren’t made from tea leaves. They’re called “tisanes” (I’ve never heard or seen that word before!) or, in more familiar language, they are “infusions.” They can be made from edible spices, herbs, fruit, bark, roots, flowers, or any combination of the aforementioned. An infusion allows you to enjoy the benefits of a plant in an easily digestible form. And just about everything I read extolled the benefits – even including the fact that usually if you’re drinking herbal tea, you’re not eating. Thus, it may help to control weight. LOL! “May” being the operative word in that last sentence.
I went on a bit of a buying spree when I decided to become an herbal tea drinker. I’d had some Two Leaves and a Bud tea at a restaurant a few years ago, and I loved it. So I got some of their “Better Belly Blend” and some “Chamomile.” Then I asked my Facebook friends for herbal tea recommendations, and bought some that they recommended.
The composition of an herbal tea determines the health benefits. For example, chamomile is good for relaxation, while ginger helps with digestion. Here’s a chart with some of the more popular herbal tea ingredients.
The good news is that herbal teas are very popular, and you can find high quality teas in most grocery stores. Of course, you can get just about all of them from Amazon, although often you have to buy more than one box of them – which makes it a little less tempting. When you only drink 2-3 cups a day, you don’t need a dozen 15-bag boxes!
There are blends for just about everything. I bought some for sleep and some for digestion, but I also got a detox tea, and some that would perk me up a little, if needed.
September has come and gone, and a new month has begun. Here are my goals for October:
Make a list of meals that work for me. I want to plan ahead so I don’t waste so much food. Those plans will be food that I like. I started on this last night – writing out meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with snacks and desserts. I plan to convert them to pdf and post them on this website.
Build on the exercise routine I started in September. That means doing circuit work in my exercise room, along with having the goal of at least 5K steps each day.
Continue with self-care routines – skin care, bedtime herbal tea, prayer and meditation time each day.
I will stop there. My tendency is to go overboard on plans, but the reality is that they need to be kept small and do-able.
With the month being such a challenge, I’m thrilled that I ended up with a loss at all. I had some NSVs this month (non-scale victories), as well.
I worked more on self-care. I started a skin care routine. Since the first of September, I’ve had a nightly ritual of washing my face with a good quality cleanser, using a toner and night cream on my face. I spent my 71 years taking my good skin for granted. I have always worn makeup every day, but I rarely took it off before going to bed. I’d take off the old makeup immediately before putting on fresh makeup each morning. No more.
Part of my self-care has been another nightly routine of sipping a large cup of herbal tea prior to going to bed. That’s actually rather funny because I had a box of herbal teas that sat on my kitchen counter for a couple years, and I never drank any of it. So I gave it away a few months ago. Now I’m drinking it every night. That’s okay, though. A new box should be delivered today, and I already have the teas the fill it.
I have been exercising more. Not a lot, but I’ve made a start, and that’s good. We have a great exercise room with all the equipment I could ever want. So I have no excuse for not exercising.
I’ve gotten back into reading the Bible and having a morning devotional. That’s something I’ve done off and on for a long time. I’ve been consistent with it the past month.
So, even with the challenges, I am pleased with how September ended. The total weight I’ve lost since I began on July 19th is 8.4 lbs. Slow and steady . . . .
The dictionary defines momentum as “strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.” After two weeks of gaining weight while completely sticking to my WW plan, I realized my enthusiasm for sticking with my commitment was compromised – and I yielded to that lack of enthusiasm over the weekend. It’s almost humorous to think of the things that I eat when I’m feeling defeated. It varies. This time it was Rice Krispies Treats. I actually lost count of how many I ate. I logged it as 8, and I think that’s accurate . . . but I’m not 100% sure.
I was starting down a familiar path – that of thinking about what a loser I am – except for weight – can’t seem to lose that. How I start things and don’t finish them. How I have never successfully lost weight and kept it off long term. Those voices in my head were gaining strength.
I stopped, though. Did I want those voices to gain momentum like they have in the past, or did I want to change direction and gain momentum in a positive direction?
You know what stopped me? Last week in one of the Facebook WW groups that I’m in, someone wrote something about how we should stand naked in front of mirror and name ten positive things about our bodies. I did that a few days ago – and I couldn’t come up with ten. I could only see the negatives – the extra weight, the scars, the blemishes. I wondered if maybe in my heart I feel I don’t “deserve” to be at a healthy weight. I also wondered what made me become so hard on myself – so critical and unforgiving. Why is self-judgment my go-to response?
This morning when I woke up, I knew I had to stop, change course, and build some momentum away from Rice Krispies Treats and towards success. One success builds momentum towards another success. It all goes back to the Atomic Habits I’ve written about several times before.
So I logged my breakfast, and then left to run a bunch of errands – first I had a dentist appointment, then to the post office and UPS office to mail packages. I picked up some papers at my husband’s office and made a quick grocery store stop for fish and some herbal teas. Except for the dentist office, those were errands I’d been putting off since last week. I got it all done. I felt good about handling so many little nagging errands. I stopped by Chick Fil A and had their grilled chicken nuggets for lunch. I got only the nuggets. No, I assured them, I didn’t want to “make it a meal” with fries and a coke.
I came home and felt good. I did some work around the house, took a 20-minute nap and, with my husband, planned our dinner.
Today was my STOP-REASSESS-CHANGE COURSE day. I started with a small act (handing errands I had been procrastinating on since last week). I continued to build momentum by sticking to only grilled chicken for lunch. And then I had fish and vegetables for dinner. Snacks were all low point and moderate-sized servings. I’m ending the day having used only 19 of my 23 daily points. The extra points will roll over into my weekly points, which is good since I used so many weekly points yesterday.
Momentum. I learned I can get it back or shift its direction simply by stopping and deliberately doing something in the direction I want to go. That success moves me to another success, and so it goes.
And one day soon, I intend to do the naked-in-front-of-the-mirror thing again. This time I will come up with ten positive things. After all, this body has seen me through 71+ years of life, it grew two amazing babies, rocked children and later grandchildren to sleep. I like my green eyes and the fact that my hair has just a little natural curl to it. That’s a good start.
Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. I have to choose my hard, and I choose losing weight.
Sigh. So here’s today’s weigh-in numbers. Notice the +. I have tracked every single bite I’ve put into my mouth since July 19th. I have not gone over my points a single week.
I’m probably eating too much fruit – lots of watermelon and grapes the past week. Seriously, though, would watermelon and grapes cause two weeks of weight gain?
Ten weeks – that makes an average of .68 lbs. per week. STILL over 1/2 pound a week. But . . . that’s so slow . . . . Sigh.
So I will repeat the usual self-reassurances: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. Look at the big picture. Back in July, you would have been thrilled to weigh what you weigh now. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
What can I do differently so that next Friday I will be happy with the number on the scale? Three things:
I still haven’t been exercising, and that is something I want to make a life-long thing. This week – starting TODAY – I will exercise – aerobics and strength training. Atomic exercise habits.
I will better manage my zero-point foods. They still have calories, and so limiting them to a few servings a day would be good. My goal is to get my body accustomed to less food. So I want to work on reducing the amount I eat – not just substituting healthier snacks.
I was doing my usual morning scroll through Facebook this morning when I came across a post from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (officially Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University). In the post, they asked that people who were caretakers of children who received treatment at Vandy to post a photo of their child and tell a little about their story.
It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming to read the comments – over a hundred. Then I came across one comment that has stuck with me.
Morgan Fuller died at the age of 17 from cancer. She was treated at Vandy. Until I read her father’s post this morning, I had never heard of her. However, she seemed wise beyond her years – which is common among childhood cancer fighters. Once, while speaking to a crowd at a Relay for Life event in 2016, Morgan said, ”What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?” Read that again:
“What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?”
What a perspective! God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit, family, friends, a home, food on the table, freedom, so, so many things to thank God for each day!
Right now my nightly routine after I get into bed each night is to recite to myself The Lord’s Prayer, and then Psalm 4:8. That’s one of my Atomic Habits. I will add thanking God for all my blessings. What a wonderful and peaceful way to end each day!
Sometimes we come across a book that actually changes our lives. That happened to me a couple years ago when I read a book titled Atomic Habits by James Clear. The basic premise is that if we set big goals, we often set ourselves up for defeat since big and perfect goals take so much time and effort. However, if we work on small habits – 3 minutes of exercise each morning, cutting out one teaspoon of sugar in our coffee, writing one thank you note each week, making two business calls before lunch – then it becomes like compound interest. The benefits snowball over time.
Back in March when this pandemic isolation began, I decided that one atomic habit I wanted to develop was getting outside for just a few minutes each day. Here is a video I made on today’s walk. Excuse the breathlessness! I had just walked up a hill. I could’ve waited till I caught my breath to start the video, but this is calling “Living Real with Carol!” and the reality was that I was a little breathless at the moment.