2020 Progress Report

2020 is at an end, and for me (physically speaking), it has been pretty good.

15.8 pounds lost in 2020

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.

Natural and Whole foods – Looking ahead to lifelong habits

One of my challenges in losing weight is battling my tendencies to get more food for each point in the Weight Watchers food plan. Those zero-point foods become more attractive, and that’s the way WW intended it to be. If we focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, we will become healthier and lose weight.

However, a problem arises when we start manipulating foods with artificial flavorings and sweeteners in order to stretch out those WW points. When we start doing that, we aren’t learning to be satisfied with smaller portions, and we aren’t learning to rely on whole, natural foods.

17 Best images about Fresh & Healthy Food on Pinterest ...

A few days ago I bought a diet lemonade (sweetened with Splenda) from Chick Fil A. Within a little while I had a headache. I’ve noticed that several times recently – a headache and usually stomach upset not long after drinking or eating something with artificial sweeteners. Yesterday I made a dozen muffins using a sugar-free cake mix as the base. “Sugar-free” typically means “sweetened with artificial sweetener,” and that was the case with these muffins. I ate one of the muffins for lunch, and all afternoon I’ve had digestive issues as a result. The rest of the muffins are going in the trash.

When I consider the fact that I started this WW health, fitness, and mindfulness journey in order to become healthier, then I don’t want to eat or drink anything that doesn’t foster that. Every now and then, I will still enjoy a Diet Coke. However, rather than a multiple-times-a-day thing, it is now something I consume maybe two or three times a month.  And that is okay for now. I may cut them out entirely at some point.

Cartoon thinking man with question mark in think bubble ...

My mother is 97 years old, and one of the reasons (I believe) that she has led such a long and mostly healthy life is that she sticks to healthy food: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain bread. She almost never eats pork, and she has lots of meatless meals.

No major insight for this post – just a reminder to myself of the importance of natural, whole foods. That will continue to be one of my focuses for my daily life.

Meal Prep: Quick and Easy Bread Dough

I made bread dough for the week – six portions worth. Two of the portions will be used for pizza (Recipe here). Two will be used for two meals of Pigs-in-a-Blanket (Recipe here) one for now, and one for a second meal that I will freeze for later. One portion will go for Cheesy Biscuits with Eggs (recipe here), and the sixth portion will be used for Chicken Pot Pie. That recipe will be posted later.

Forgive the goofiness! I watch my videos and think, “Lord, I bang things around in the kitchen like Julia Child – give directions and then have to reverse them, and then I get carried away weighing dough when it really doesn’t matter! That’s life and reality – at least my reality. Enjoy!

This is a great way to meal prep or the week. When the dough is already made and in the refrigerator, then those meals that use the dough are so much simpler to make.

You will see from the video that it’s easy and quick, too.

The recipe I use made 6 portions. Each portion includes 1/2 cup self-rising flour which is either 5 or 6 points (WW Blue plan), depending on the brand.

Herbal Tea: Is it really good for you?

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.

Free Bedtime Routine Pictures, Download Free Clip Art ...

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.

At night, I choose from a selection of my bedtime teas

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.

Since stomach issues have always been a part of my life, I have a selection of teas that aid digestion. These are the ones I drink after meals. I can testify that they DO help!

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.

What is Herbal Tea? Benefits and Characteristics | Full ...

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!

I wanted a tea box to hold all my teas! I love this one because it hold lots of varieties, and I can easily replace teas as I use them.

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.

Other teas I drink occasionally

I wanted a special cup for my tea, and decided this one that I made at Third Coast Clay when I went there with my 10-year old granddaughter in August was perfect. It’s the right size, and it is now my official tea cup.

Recipe: Vegetable Beef Soup (WW Blue – less than 1 point per serving)

I made a WW-friendly vegetable beef soup today, and it is delicious! The video will walk you through how to make it. The recipe is below.

The soup base is:

1 lb. 96% lean ground beef (10 WW Blue points)

2-3 can diced tomatoes (0 points)

1 can tomato sauce (0 points)

1 quart beef broth (0 point)*

approx. 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery (0 points)

Salt and pepper, to taste (0 points)

Directions: Brown the ground beef in a large soup pot. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beef broth. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Now add your vegetables – I usually buy a bag of frozen soup vegetables. However, you can use fresh, frozen, or canned (drain canned vegetables) – corn, carrots, peas, beans, garlic, peppers, potatoes (count the points for potatoes).

Bring to a boil. You can add more beef broth if the soup is too thick. Let the soup simmer for a couple hours to thoroughly meld all the flavors.

This soup will keep in the refrigerator for several days, and it freezes well.

POINTS: I add additional beef broth, if needed, to bring my total amount to 18 cups – which equals 18 servings.

10 total points divided by 18 servings – .555 points (which rounds of to 1 point.

*Some beef broths scan as 0 points for a quart, and some scan as 1 or 2 points for a quart. It depends on the fat content of the particular broth you buy. Scan the broth you use to figure your points. However, even at 2 points a quart, the total still equals less than 1 point per cup/serving.

 

Recipe: Carol’s Meatloaf

I love meatloaf, and so I made it this afternoon. We had it for dinner tonight. It is 3 points per serving (WW Blue Plan). Here’s the recipe:

3-Point Dinner: one serving meatloaf with tomato sauce, black-eyed peas, green peas, fresh sliced tomatoes.

Carol’s Meatloaf

2 lb. ground beef, 96% lean (20 points)

6 slices light bread (1 point per slice = 6 points total)

4 eggs (0 points)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion (0 points)

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (0 points)

Salt/pepper/garlic salt – to taste (0 points)

Instructions: Dump all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Use hands to mix well (I wear gloves). Season (salt, pepper, garlic salt, etc.) to your preference. Form two loaves. Each loaf has four servings. Bake at 325 degrees for about 60 minutes – or until meat thermometer placed in the center of the loaf register 160 degrees.
I usually cook one loaf and wrap the other loaf in aluminum foil and freeze it for another meal in a couple weeks.

Points: 26 points total for 8 servings. That equals to 3.25 points per serving. So if you have two servings, that would be 6.5 points which would round off to 7.

Tomato Topping For Meatloaf

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

salt/pepper – to taste

Instructions: Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. You can cook longer if you want the onion and pepper to be softer. Spoon over meatloaf when served. Points – 0 points for each 1/2 cup serving

October Goals

September has come and gone, and a new month has begun. Here are my goals for October:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.