Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 11 of the 52 changes

I just realized that it has been 2 weeks since I posted on my progress. Eeegads!  It's been a busy few weeks, and the changes from the past two weeks (and this week's change, as well) are ones I have already been doing for a while.

Week 9 was Enjoy Time Alone.  This one's easy.  I live alone (for the next few months, anyways, but that's another blog post to come soon).  I am a very social person by nature, and I used to fight against the solitude and work to fill every minute with people and activity.  A few years ago, I decided to spend some time alone, on purpose, and I learned quickly how centering having quality self-time can be.

Week 10 was Stretch for 20 minutes, three times a day.  I already stretch 15 minutes, twice a day, in the morning and at night.  So, this one was easy, too. :)

Now we are on to week 11 already.  I can hardly believe we are already almost 3 months in to the project!  I hope your progress has been as positive as mine.  I feel better, I sleep through the night (well, most nights; I'd say 9 of 10), I have more energy and I feel like I am more productive in both my professional and personal life.

Week 11 is one that I already do, as well.  The change is ~ Learn to read the Ingredients List and the Nutrition Facts box on packages.  I've been doing this for a few years now, and recently have amped it up even more.  No high fructose corn syrup, no trans-fats, no artificial sweeteners, short ingredient lists, nothing I can't identify.  Since I had my high-cholesterol diagnosis in January (which set off this whole  plan), I watch very carefully for fat content (especially saturated fats) and sugars.  I also try to keep the whole grains high and the refined anything low.

Keep up the good work. Next week, we learn to breath....
Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week 8 ~ A rainbow of vegetables

Progress is being made, changes are settling into routine. I'm finding myself readily drinking lots of water, taking my vitamin, sleeping through the night and thinking positive thoughts on a daily basis. The food diary is second nature, I move around a lot during my routine day and I am even remembering to take my shoes off (well, most of the time).

This week is another near gimme for me. The change is to eat 4-6 vegetables a day, which I already do on a fairly regular basis and have for a long time. I eat a salad at least once a day, either for lunch or dinner; I snack on cucumbers and carrots and other crunchy veggies. I pack the vegetables into my wraps and sandwiches; I make soups and stews chock full of different vegetables.

I do find myself slipping into different ruts with my meals, though, eating the same foods over and over and over.... So I will do the extra credit in the chapter and challenge myself to eat from all of the colors of the produce section. I will say that since starting this healthy eating lifestyle, grocery shopping has gotten a lot more fun.

More changes are on the horizon; stay tuned.... :)

I hope you all are doing as well as I am in this 52 week challenge.
Thanks for listening!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 7 of 52 Small Changes ~ Keep the outside out

Allergies have been a bane of my existence for as long as I can remember, mainly hay fever and outdoor allergies. Sneezing, headaches, asthma, sinus, and so on and so forth. So this week's change fits in with my needs very well.

Change 6 ~ Create a transition space to keep the outdoors out.

This is, however, much easier said than done for a small-apartment dweller with a dog. I do try to remember to take my shoes off when I come in the house. I'm not always successful, but I'm getting better. I have a shoe bench and small rug by the front door, so I do have a place to leave shoes when I get home. However, I have about 35 pair of shoes, so I can't keep them all by the front door. I have a small apartment with no real entranceway, just a front door that opens into my living room. Luckily I like barefoot best, so as the weather gets warmer, this one gets easier and easier.

So, I'll keep on trying, and keep on vacuuming, and look forward to the day when I have a place with a bigger entranceway with shelves for all of my shoes. :)

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Week 6 of 52 Small Changes ~ Take your vitamins!

"Friendship is like vitamins; we supplement each other's minimum daily requirements." ~ unknown

I can't believe we are already at week 6 of this project! My goodness, how the time has flown. I'm doing very well with this plan, and I hope you are, too. This week is sort of a free one for me, as I made this change a few months ago. So we'll call it extra time to strengthen the plan and work on all of the changes together.

Week 6 ~ Take a multi-vitamin every day, just a plain old multi-vitamin. One A Day or Centrum or your favourite store brand. It really doesn't matter. It's like a little supplemental insurance for those days that you don't eat perfectly and fill all of the daily requirements. Because I don't know about you, but I certainly have days that fall far short of some of those requirements.

Now, this doesn't mean that you have to take one of every supplement on the market; that could lead to handfuls of pills daily and really do more damage than good. Besides which, you don't want to have to schedule 10 minutes a day for pill taking. Remember, this is about the small changes. :)

So, be smart about it. For most people a multi-vitamin alone will be just exactly what's needed. At the doctor's suggestion, I do take a daily calcium and a monthly Vitamin D, too; gotta watch out for those brittle bones, ya know.

Ok, let's recap and analyse a little....

Week 1 ~ Drink your daily water. I am up to between 80 and 96 ounces a day, and I really don't even think about it; I just do it. I have a water bottle at home and one at work, 32 ounces each. I also have a couple of 20 oz. bottles that are a bit more portable and travel well for drives and walks.

Week 2 ~ Get 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night. I really thought this would be the toughest one, but I have really settled into a routine for bedtime and I can feel a big difference. In fact, 7 of the last 8 nights, I have slept through the whole night!

Week 3 ~ Apart from exercise, incorporate regular and routine activity into your lifestyle. I haven't been on the elevator at work in 3 weeks. I walk to the 4th floor of the library a minimum of 5 times a work day, I use my exercise ball in place of my desk chair at home, and Bailey is loving the extra play time. I just got myself a little pedometer, and I'll start tracking my movement this week. I can feel the difference.

Week 4 ~ Keep a food journal. I do this online with Lose It!, and I love their plan. There is a webpage and apps for all mobile devices, so it's super easy to keep track where ever you are. Bonus, I have lost 12.6 pounds since starting this journey on January 31.

Week 5 ~ Develop an optimistic outlook. This one is easy most of the time; but when it gets difficult, it gets VERY difficult. You know, like when SU is about to lose the big game.... But over all, this one has been a fun change to make.

Week 6 ~ Take a multi-vitamin every day. Done!

That just about covers it. I hope you're having as much fun and success with these changes as I am. I'd love to hear from anyone who is following along. Have a great week, and I'll see you next week when we'll try to keep the outside out. I have a feeling that one will prove a challenge for this tiny-apartment dweller....

Thanks for listening.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Adventures in Church, part 1

When we start to plan a trip overseas, one of the first things we do is find ~ along with the good pubs, local ales and castles ~ churches. We make lists of churches, cathedrals, chapels and other holy places to visit for the beauty, the spirituality, the architecture and art, the centuries of history. We plan visits and tours and even the occasional musical service where ever we go. And yet, we never visit the local beauties that surround us.

Of course, the places we visit in Ireland and England (and soon Scotland again, Yay!), are prepared for heavy tourism and many visitors from afar. The churches are accessible most days of the week from early to late. That is just not usually the case here. It's a sad fact that the places of worship around here have to be extra concerned with funding (thus the lack of staffing for tourism hours) and the fear of thievery (thus the inability to stay open without guard and staff). The churches we visit overseas often have reception desks and tour guides and gift shops and brochures in many languages, and sometimes even photo fees and treasuries and libraries and crypts.

A while back my dearest friend Merlyn and I discovered that we share this interest, and so we have been talking about visiting some of our local churches and cathedrals for a while now. She has made lists and even visited a few in NYC already. Having found a day to play together, we made a plan of sorts and set out on an adventure.

First stop, the Brooklyn Pickle for coffee and a catch up. Uh-oh, they are under construction. Mind you, they are still open and will be even better when the work is finished, but we wanted
someplace a little cozier and less noisy for a morning chat. So Denny's it was. :)

Fueled up and ready for action we set out for St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church up on Tipperary Hill. You know, the one right next door to Coleman's Irish Pub. :) But the doors
were locked! That's what we get for not calling ahead. But a quick stop in the adjacent elementary school and a very nice gentleman told us to bang on the door of the rectory and maybe Father would be there to let us in. So that's what we did. Bang, bang, bang. No dice, no answer. Ok, time to go. (It was a gorgeous, sunny day, but COLD!). Around to the cars, and on a hunch we gave it one more try on the front door. And success! Father was there and after asking very nicely, he agreed to let us in for a minute or two. I had seen the inside a few times previous (my brother and sister-in-law's wedding and the boys' baptisms), but it was new to Merlyn, and so we were very appreciative. Father was very nice and told us a little about the history of the church. I took a few pictures and we took our leave after making a donation and lighting a candle.

Next stop Sunoco. Now normally I wouldn't bother to add in a quick stop for gas in an adventure post, but this one is definitely worth relaying. I was about on Empty, so Merlyn followed me down to the gas station and stood out with me as I pumped gas. We were chatting when this strange little (well, not so little) man pulled up next to us and said he really liked my Booty bumper sticker.
We laughed and I said thanks, and Merlyn told him we're pirates. Well, that got his attention. Did we have a card with us? Nope, sorry. Well, could he have our number? I asked did he mean our phone number? Yes. Well, no, we weren't gong to do that. So he asked if we would take his number and call him? Well, no, thank you, but no. Then he asks, and I quote, "Are you girls dancers somewhere?" Hahaha! No, we're not dancers. As he slowly started to roll away, looking a little sad and dejected, he asked one last time ... are you sure you won't give me your number? Yes, we're sure, but you have a great day. Always knew those stickers are attention getters, but as Merlyn said, Wrong kind of booty, mister....

Ok, the car was gassed up and we were getting hungry, so we headed back up to Tipp Hill and Coleman's Irish Pub for a bit of lunch and more girl talk. Mmmmm, broiled scallops in lemon sauce, salad and cottage cheese. That hit the spot, as did the laughter and talk ... it's really been too long! A quick stroll across the street and a leisurely browse of the adorable Irish import and gift shop The Cashel House was just what we needed after that wonderful lunch.

With time for one last church visit, we decided to try the gorgeous double spire church just off Genesee
Street. That turned out to be Sacred Heart Basilica, and it was open! We wandered in quietly. There were just a couple of people in silent prayer, but the sanctuary was, for the most part, empty. We sat, we whispered, I took a few more pictures, and we walked all around. As we were sitting, a woman walked up to the chapel of the Virgin Mary and played a little song on the piano; her own arrangement of Stardust followed by an original composition as a prayer to Mary, she told us. As we walked out of the church, she was leaving too; she told us it's Assumption Day, and that it's also 15th anniversary of her hip replacement. She said she always stops and thanks Mary because she hasn't had a bit of pain since the surgery. We wished her a happy anniversary with her hip and waved her on her way.

After many hugs and promises for part two of the church visits, Merlyn and I drove off in the sun, having had another wonderful adventure together. It's just delightful to discover yet another common interest with a friend you already love dearly! Looking forward to our next quest....

Monday, March 19, 2012

I can do that! ~ week 5 of 52 Changes

Positive thinking. Optimistic outlook. That's the change for this, the 5th week of the 52 SmallChanges project. It's interesting, thinking of what has always been a non-tangible thing as a concrete change. A mind-set shift is in order, I suppose. Not so much the positive thinking, I do that a lot already, but the measurement and accountability of such.

Some steps I'll take at the suggestion of the book:

1. Shift self-talk - This will likely be that hardest for me, but I'll try. (see, there I go!)

2. Use Affirmations - I've actually been meaning to make my own list of affirmations for a while now, so I'll use this week to do that. I'll blog them at the end of the week (or when I think the list is complete). Sort of a personal mantra for myself.

3. Have a sense of humour- This one I have. I think I need to use this week to turn it to a bit more positive (less snarky?) sense of humour.

4. Take care of yourself - Well, that's what this whole project ia about, right? :)

5. Develop healthy relationships - Been working on this one for a while now. So far, so good.

6. Practice gratefulness - A faire friend is doing this as a daily FB post, and I must say, seeing it every day makes me stop and think about my own gratefulness.

7. Let go - Another tough one that I have been working on for a while now.

8. Celebrate your Strengths and Accomplishments - I do this pretty well already.

9. Forget your fears - Scary! Seriously, though, I do this every day.

10. Harness the Law of Attraction - I try to do this every day, too.

And one that I have come up with all on my own - No More Negative Facebook Posts. I'm not promising a life change, but I am going to try a whole week of positive FB posts. We'll see how that goes....

And so we go, into the world of the happy and optimistic people!

It's easy to be positive on such a gorgeous morning. The sun is shining, the birds are active, there is a soft breeze, the house smells like summer and Bailey is laying in a patch of sunshine that is shining through the open door. And actually I think I am a pretty positive person already. I like to see the glass as half full, I try to see the good in people (well, most people). But I guess we can all use work on this, so I will give it my all. Hmmm, that's a positive thought, right? :)

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Week 4 ~ Back on track

Sometimes timing is everything. This is week 4 of "the plan" and the change is to keep a food diary. Luckily I have kept one of those for a while now, so I shall use this free week to focus on bringing all four of the changes to strength in my regular weekly life.

Let's recap, shall we? I'm doing pretty well, just some tweaking should do it. Drinking water throughout my day has become second nature (I even found myself drinking the 64-92 oz. in the city last week), so that one's all set. I have set myself a regular bedtime routine, now I just need to stick with it (it's not that I can't; I just don't always want to). The movement one is still kind of new to my everyday life, as I spent last week in NYC and didn't really focus on the plan. Hopefully, by the end of the week I will have a better grasp of the plan and be ready to move on.

The week in NY was a blast! I ate what I wanted, drank lots of beer (and water *grin*), walked up 5th Avenue and down Broadway, shopped, cheered, laughed and did I mention I ate all week? The games were good (well, most of them), although SU's road was over one game too soon. We visited the lions ~ Patience and Fortitude ~ at the New York Public Library, explored ToysRUs and FAO Schwartz for treats and gifts, and rode to the top of the biggest Macy's in the world (4 Starbucks in one store, yikes!). We took the train to the World Trade Center and visited the 9/11 Memorial. We ate at Carmine's for Italian and Lucy's for Mexican. We made memories to last through our whole lives.

And now we prepare for the road to the Final Four. Number one seed in the East isn't too shabby. Go SU!! I think I'll go drink some water.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Move it!

Just a quick entry today to kick off the third week. I'm busy packing and cleaning and getting ready for vacation. :)

I'm doing really well with the water drinking, and my sleep seems to be settling into a better pattern. Now on to week three .... moving. Not really exercising, but simply adding more activity and movement to life, and thus becoming less sedentary. I'd like to think I already do this, but I really don't. I'll try, though. :)

It's not a very good week to add a new habit into my life, though. I am leaving tomorrow for NY and the Big East tourney. So, while I am certain to move a lot more this week (cheering on the Orange is a lot of activity!), it won't be regular and routine movement. I'll have to work on that next week in addition to the 4th change. I know there are lots of small changes I can make. I already got rid of my desk chair at home and I use an exercise ball while at my computer/desk. I can stop using the elevator at work, and I'm sure Bailey would love an extra bit of time walking outside. I'll think of more as next week develops.

For now .... Go SU!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My kind of Snow Day....

When I woke up this morning, I drank a glass of water, stretched a little, looked out the window and then I turned on the TV. What's that? Rome Public and Parochial Schools.... Closed?? No other school listings, just Rome. Hmmm, must be a mistake. I looked out the window again. Nope, nothing. Just grass and a few patches of snow. I changed the channel, and there it was again. Hmmm. Okay, then. Gonna be that kind of day, huh? :)

Now, many of you already know that I am a huge NCAA basketball fan. To be more specific an SU basketball fan. Lifelong. Grew up in Syracuse, went to SU, love my Orange. One of the things I have ALWAYS wanted to do is see them play in the Big East Tourney in NYC; the ultimate kick-off to March Madness. And this is the year! Mom and me, my brother and sister in law and a few of her family members, too, are all heading to the Big Apple to cheer on the Orange. I have it all ... an orange purse, orange scarf, orange shirts, orange jewelry, even orange hair! The one thing I have needed, and putting off getting, is new jeans. I only have one pair, and I'm not in love with them.

I have been putting it off forever. Quite honestly, the only thing I like shopping for less than jeans is a swimsuit (ugh, need a new one of those soon, too). However, I can't go to a series of games in the same pair of jeans all week. So, after work tonight, I headed to pretty much the only clothing store in Rome ... JC Penney's (not thrilled with the changes in their pricing, but getting used to it).

Wandered in, wandered around, gathered several pairs of jeans and headed to the changing room to try them all on. Only to discover that I had to put them all back and get more in a different size ... A SIZE SMALLER!!! Yes, that's right, I have lost a size!!! I knew I was doing well. I feel good, I have had some compliments from random people, I'm being diligent, and I have lost about 10 pounds over the last month. But this is the first tangible evidence that something I'm doing is working.

And that's MY kind of Snow Day. :)

Thanks for listening.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sleep well, sleep deep, sleep long

Well look at that, I survived week one and have even decided this may not be so bad after all. I have gotten myself in a pattern of drinking water all day. The two water bottles helped a lot with that. And it's a funny thing ... once you get your body used to being hydrated, you really miss it when you're not. My body has been telling me when I need to drink more water throughout the days. The last 3 days of the week, I actually drank all 64 ounces of my "required" water before 4pm! Bonus, I weighed in and have lost 10 pounds! It was a good week, a very good week; and I do feel a difference. I feel better, and ready to move on.

So, now we are on to week two, step two, change two. This one is going to be a little more of a challenge for me.

This week's change is sleep. Get seven to eight hours of good sleep a night. Piece of cake, right? Um, well....

Sleep. I have a love-hate relationship with sleep. On one hand it's one of my favourite things to do. On the other, it has become more elusive as I have gotten older. I've always been a bit of a night owl, staying up late reading, watching movies, gaming. And yet, I work a job that requires me to be up fairly early most days. I love to sleep in, and naps are a favorite activity of mine. And yet, sleeping later and during the day does affect sleep at night.

So, I shall follow the plan. I will keep the tv off in the bedroom at night (I'm not getting rid of it; I use it in the mornings and often while doing housework). I will limit my caffeine, sugar and liquids after dinner (it's so ironic that one week after making me dramatically increase my water intake, the plan is to sleep through the night *sigh*). I will develop a sleep routine. I will try to be more consistent in bed and rising times. And I will continue to drink water all day long. And we shall see.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So far, so hydrated....

Just checking in mid-week to let you all know I haven't given up. Or drowned. :)

This has been a pretty easy way to slip into the new project. I like water; I drank a good amount of it even before beginning this journey. I was just never sure HOW much. Well, now I know exactly how much. I started the week keeping track of my water intake as I drank it, a cup or two at a time. I use Lose It! to log my daily food, so I just started adding water to the log. However that quickly became a hassle. Between drinking water, bathroom breaks (hey, all that water has to go somewhere!) and logging the ounces, I was running myself ragged. I thought that was probably not a good side effect of the program, so I knew I had to come up with something else.

So, I got myself a couple of good water bottles ~ exactly the same ~ 32 ounces each; one for work and one for home (that way I can't forget it in one place and be totally lost in my hydration).

I had only two requirements. First, it had to be bpa free:

And second, it had to be made in the USA (I'm getting a little more vigilant about this):

Oh, and third, it had to have a loop (to carry it) and a wide mouth (so I can add ice). I hate those little sippy spouts. They are impossible to clean and always seem so ick.

Mission accomplished! I am on my way to making it a habit to be hydrated. Hope your week is going as well as mine.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's the small things

It has recently been brought to my attention that it's now been almost a year since I wrote anything here. And to tell you the truth, I have missed it quite a bit. I just have been lost for a meaningful blogging project. For me to blog, there needs to be a plan. And now I have a new plan.

First, a little back story .... I decided this would be the year I get healthy. And stay healthy. So, I made an appointment and a few weeks ago I went for an annual physical. Well, I say annual, but to be honest it was the First Annual. Blood work analysis and all. And the results weren't all good. Most of the numbers were fine ~ lipids, -emias, blood pressure, were all perfect. My weight isn't perfect (not even close). My sugar was a little elevated (one above normal, so not so bad). And my cholesterol was high. Very high, actually. So, I have been making some changes in my diet and moving a little more. I've lost 8.8 pounds since January 31, so it must be working. But I decided that just wasn't quite enough. It's all well and good to be physically healthy, but I wanted an over all makeover project. Nothing drastic, just something to tweak the edges a little.

I did a little research and found a book. It's called 52 Small Changes: one year to a happier, healthier you by Brett Blumenthal. I looked into it a bit, and I decided it was exactly what I am looking for. I know a few other people who are reading it and they gave me positive feedback. And bonus ~ I only have to read one chapter a week. I invite you to read along with me and see if these changes really do make us happier and healthier. I'm sure the book is available at your library (after a short wait on the holds list, probably). Or you can do as I did and get the book for yourself (the link above is to the Amazon page). Or just follow along with me. I welcome feedback and encouragement. :)

So, here we go....

It all starts today with a glass of water. Well, with 8 glasses of water, actually.

The first week of change is to up the hydration levels. I already drink a good amount of water and seltzer. I do not, however, have any idea of the actual amount. So, starting today, I am going to log my water intake. My goal for now is to drink at least 64 ounces a day. At this writing, I have had 32 ounces; I guess I am off to a good start.

Something tells me this is not going to be quite so easy every week. :)

See you next week. Thanks for reading.

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