Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Rational Diet

(Diets and 'change' are always a challenge. This was my recent experience with dieting...)

I consider myself to have been a reasonably healthy eater for the last few years. A treat or two here, followed by a piece of fruit or some vegetable there, and exercise such as walking to manage my weight have all made for a happy, healthier, slimmer (I hope), Lisa. And I didn’t lose all control the last few months, but health issues kept me on my butt much of the time. By the time Christmas and the New Year rolled around, delicious temptations had gotten the better of me, and I knew I had to do something. I still walk religiously, but I had to do something about my diet. Added to that, my chronically finicky stomach was telling me and my doctor that things had to change.

And while I was making New Year vows for a better diet and getting things ‘back on track’ as best as I could, I was also having thoughts of other lifestyle changes. With always being busy, on-the-go and trying to cram in as much as I possibly can, I decided further changes have to be made. Although I still have a certain commitments to uphold and goals I want to fulfill, I realized I had been too hard on myself for too long in trying to do it all, often beating myself up over things that don’t get done. I work myself up into a frothy lather of stress, and am sometimes/often in a state of constant panic. Taking it easier on myself and finding balance – but without jeopardizing all that I am and what I want to do and be – is, I hope, to be my new mantra.

So to start things off right, even before New Year’s day, I went on a diet. Not a specific one, but a combination of a few I researched. Lots of fruits and veggies, of course – but that had never been a problem before. But the hard part would be to cut out ALL flour and starch products: no bread, buns, pasta or white rice. One diet said no milk, yogurt or cheese, even if it says ‘fat free.’ All things flour and milk had been suspect of tampering with my delicate stomach anyways, and my doctor agreed this was the best course. Almond or soy milk would be my friend.

But as I had already made a ‘resolution’ not to be so hard on myself, I made exceptions. I was still tough and determined in my quest to lose weight and eat healthier, but as with all things, I had my own ‘rationale’ to balance things out.

Here is my altered diet lightly peppered with my ‘finding balance’ plan. The diet, I might add, helped me lose 10 lbs in three weeks – honestly – despite what I know is my skewed rationale.

• No milk - fine. I was good and bypassed the jugs in the coffee shops labeled ‘milk,’ and stuck to those that said ‘cream’ or ‘half-and-half.’ Um, it wasn’t my fault the diets researched weren’t overly specific.

• Okay, so I couldn’t have ‘milk chocolate,’ given the ‘no milk’ rule. So I stuck to dark chocolate - and daily, at that. A friend reassured me that dark chocolate is good for me, so no problem.

• The same went for chocolate covered almonds. Almonds are at the top of the list in diets, so this was a great alternative.

• Chick peas, in moderation, are a good healthy source of....something-or-other. Garlic and chick peas were highly recommended in one of the diets, so humus became my snack of choice. But it’s not my fault I was in a near-starved trance and unknowingly ate a whole container of the rich, garlicky mixture.

A week into my diet and I was very proud of myself. I felt good, my stomach wasn’t upset anymore like it always had been, AND I had lost weight, so I forged (and foraged) on....

• No flour was a tough one as everyone loves a good slice of cake every now and then, and sometimes you just need...something. One day at the grocery store, I noticed they had flourless cake – and chocolate at that! I bought a piece, swallowed half right outside the grocery store. But I was good and saved the other half for later, restraint, moderation and portion-control my strength. It wasn’t my fault, however, that a (big) dollop of still-frozen Cool Whip fell on it, right?

• I researched and found that natural, organic chia seeds are good for you. Who knew? Seeds are a big thing in many diets, so I found a gluten-free, organic, vegan, seedy cereal hearty in chia seeds and hemp hearts. But I got so worried and paranoid of what to name the Chia Pet® likely growing in my stomach, I figured I better halve the recommended daily dosage of the hemp-rich cereal. Trippy.

• Back at the coffee shop, I learned the error of my ways, and figured out that cream is still a ‘no no.’ So I ordered something I wouldn’t have to add milk or cream to – a latte. Extra large, ‘skinny,’ extra vanilla flavouring (vanilla is a bean, after all), and lots of ‘whip,’ thank you very much.

So four weeks into my diet, I’m proud of myself for staying strong, and being rational and balanced in my choices. My slowly sagging clothes are inspiration and motivation, and every so often I treat myself to a bit of chocolate while I sit and write - and be rational and calm about my ever-hungry Chia Pet®.
Thanks for reading! Lisa

Sunday, January 12, 2014

At One With Nature

I love being at one with nature, I truly do - but sometimes nature needs to stay where it belongs.

I lost a battle. But being the minority in my house, it was a battle I gracefully bowed down from (I had no choice, either). ‘Pick your battles’ and all that is often my motto, but can be challenging when there is only one of me and three of them – two teenage boys and a husband.

So despite my arguments, we now own two scorpions and a tarantula. I’m not creeped-out by these little miracles of nature, and they’re the non-poisonous kind so that’s not a concern. It’s their food that has me in a tizzy. Crickets, the snack of choice, could potentially escape and, given their tiny size, speed and agility, hide in all cracks and crevices never to be seen again.

That is, of course, until they start chirping in the night and produce cute little baby crickets.

Not cute.

Luckily for us the scorpions and tarantula have opted for non-chirping crickets, so that just leaves the worry of any escapees.

I had become the nag all nags; the mother from hell. “You better keep the lid on the cricket container secure! If any of those guys get out….!” I threatened.

Everyone knew the result of any cricket infestations. Not only would the pest-control guy have to come in – on the boys’ dime – but they would have an out-of-control-with-rage mother on their hands, spewing “I told you so, I TOLD YOU SO!”

So they have been diligent, ensuring cricket-container-lid-security. My gentle nagging helps, of course.

But my nagging obviously didn’t work because about a week ago I was told two crickets had escaped.

A moment of silence passed and the air was thick with anticipation of my reaction. Everyone avoided looking at me.

I took a deep breath and calmly suggested that the two crickets be promptly found. I didn’t go down the ‘I told you so’ road. I was calm. I was sane.

A week went by……

One night just as I was about to get in the shower (you know where this is going), I fluffed out a towel and pulled the shower curtain closed and BOING!!!!!

In my peripheral vision I saw something jump. Good thing it didn’t jump on my leg.

I looked down, and just outside the tub, was a cricket. A very LARGE cricket.

I didn’t scream like a girl, nor did I fume in motherly fury.

I just wanted it gone.

I was naked and there was a cricket jumping around. Not the most ideal way of being ‘at one with nature.’

I calmly raced to the bottom of the stairs and calmly called up to the people relaxing in front of the TV, “There’s a cricket in the bathroom – come and get it NOW!”

Maybe I wasn’t so calm.

I hot-footed it to the bedroom and hid behind the door. I have no idea why, but I didn’t bother grabbing a towel. All too soon, a trample of feet trailed across the floor above me and down the stairs making their way to the bathroom.

“Do you have it yet!?” I bellowed through the crack in the door.

“Yes!” came the response.

I half-expected a few more moments of being stuck in the bedroom, shivering, while the cricket was fed to either pet, but all I heard was the not-so-gentle pitter-patter of feet back up the stairs.

I peeked out the door to ensure it was safe, then mid-race to the bathroom I called upstairs, “Where did you put it? Did you feed it to someone?” ‘Someone’ being a scorpion or the tarantula.

“No!” bellowed down a voice. “It was too big! It’s in the toilet!”

I could hear them rejoicing and complimenting each other that now they only had one cricket left to find.

Sure thing, there it was, in the toilet. Why it was in the toilet and not set free, outside, to be at one with nature, I don’t know, but I wasn’t about to further pursue it further at that particular moment.

Because it was then, I realized as I scoured the floor, and towels, and shower curtain, that that poor little cricket who had met its demise in the toilet was, indeed, QUITE BIG - much bigger than the tiny ones usually fed to the tarantula or scorpions. You see, they can only eat 2-week old crickets – just tiny little ones. They can’t eat BIG full-size ones like the one I nearly showered with.

This guy was NOT one of the two who had gone missing only just the week before. This guy had been around for a while – like a LONG while. They don’t grow that fast.

I hopped in and out of the shower as fast I could, fearful of any crickets jumping on me or in my hair.

Dressed and upstairs a little later, I kept my cool as I advised the majority of my findings and subsequent theories. All three faces paled at the realization.

As silence speaks volumes, I walked away after my revelation not uttering another word and did not bring up the topic again. The room was equally silent.

And so, naturally, a few nights later, all three of my men made plans to clean out some closets.

(PS. I would have taken a picture of the darling cricket to share with you, but given the ‘natural’ state I was in there was nowhere to keep a camera)

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Very Happy New Year for Me

For the first time in my life, in my whole life, I spent New Year’s Eve alone.

My husband and one of my sons were away on a short trip. My other son and I couldn’t accompany them as we had to work and so, of course, he went on the town that night. For the record, they all didn’t up and ditch me – far from it. It was just a matter of situations being what they were.

I have had the fortune and blessing of having family around me, all times of the year, year after year. As for being alone on New Year’s Eve, specifically? Not once in all my something-something years.

For spending time with family and friends, and connecting with everyone possible, Christmas is the ‘big’ event for me. But New Year’s Eve? Well, sorry to say, as exciting as it all is, it’s not a ‘holiday’ I hold near and dear to my heart. In the early years when I was young and wild it was a big deal, but not anymore.

Yes it’s nice to be able to ‘ring in the new year’ with loved ones, and I get a kick out of saying ‘see you next year’ to everyone I meet. And yes I am thankful I even have family I can wish Happy New Year to at the stroke of midnight, if I can stay up that long, that is. But really, can we get the year we have just spent 364 days struggling with over so I can get to bed and start another one?

So after my son and I gorged ourselves on Chinese takeout, out he rushed in his New Year’s duds with a waft of a cologne in his wake, and I donned my own New Year’s finery – my jammies. I had a two-and-a-half hour writing marathon, then dove into the pile of DVD’s and magazines I borrowed from the library as a reward for writing so hard! Contraband chocolate I had stashed away for such an occasion beckoned me, and the only person I talked to all night was the cat, where I ‘kindly’ asked her to stop snoring as it was getting on my nerves.

And I was happy.

Many might say ‘Oh, how boring! You’re young! Your kids are getting older! Live it up!’

I did wonder, however, if at some point in the night I might wallow in self pity at being alone. I did wonder, also, if I was REALLY going to last to midnight (I can barely stay up past 10 o’clock most nights, as is). I did wonder, also, if was going to throw up from all the chocolate I inhaled.

I didn’t wallow, I didn’t throw up, and I went to bed at 12:20am. Happy and satisfied with my accomplishments of the evening, I knocked back a glass of Alka Seltzer and with the phone near me in case my son called, I fell into a blissful sleep on the couch (it’s comfier than my bed). The cat snored on.

I don’t do resolutions, but I do set goals for the year – things I would like to try to accomplish. At one point in the night, through my sugar-rush high, I thought about those goals. There were many I accomplished, and some I didn’t. For a moment I wallowed, but then stopped.

Instead of drowning my sorrows in yet another round of Alka Seltzer, I realized how much I can be happy for. I can be happy for what I DID accomplish this past year, I am happy and fortunate I have a family who WILL be coming home at some point, AND, for the first time in two years, my Christmas and New Year’s wasn’t shrouded in anticipation of upcoming surgeries (spring of 2012 and 2013 were met with hernia surgeries – no fun).

The next morning while my son was safe and sound in his own bed, I stole away in search of a Starbuck’s (yes, I did find one open), and had my first coffee of 2014 by a local lake. I later worked on some writing, made a second batch of cranberry jelly (you can never have enough!), and readied my house for the return of the rest of my family.

It was a very happy new year for me.

Happy New Year Everyone! Thank you to all for always stopping by and reading!