Weekly Digest 68
Here we are, two more weeks in the books and the holiday season is upon us. Winter is here. Yes, weather makes yet another appearance in my blog. Weather is, in fact, becoming a regular guest on this “show”. We will talk more about that later.
For now – how did the weeks go? Not too terribly bad. Week 68 stayed fairly static. That was really a concern for me because the previous week I had gained 5 pounds, and the week before that I had gained about a pound. So …it was a disturbing trend. My supposition was that there were multiple causes related to stress, salt, sugar, etc. My calorie counts and exercised remained ok. As it turns out, doing a two-day cleanse in week 69 helped to right the ship and get me back on track. I lost 5 pounds in the second week. So that puts me still up 1 pound, but hopefully on track to resume regular weight loss. The total now sits at 221 pounds lost.
Weather, our old friend, has returned once again to this blog. So often, I would talk about the summer weather for two reasons:
1. It would have a direct impact on how much time I spent outdoor and subsequently, my activity levels.
2. Because we had a shorter summer this year, and on those beautiful days I did my level best to enjoy them, and it stood out in memory. In fact, it still does.
As I glance at the deck now, covered with snow and ice – frigid, inhospitable, and unwelcoming, I can’t help but remember the summer. I would be out on the deck within moments of waking up – cup of coffee in hand, tablet to look at the news, maybe even a little music on the speakers. Specifically, I recall leaning back in the chair and turning my face to the morning sun, closing my eyes and feeling the warmth wash over me. It was glorious and such a treat. I reveled in every opportunity knowing days like today were coming.
So winter in Minnesota is legendary. Smack dab in the middle of the Midwest, at the top of the country, and facing into the teeth of those Alberta clippers. Those storms come steaming through with wind, snow and bitter arctic cold. Many would say we have more in common with the good people of Winnipeg and Calgary than we do with people from Florida or Arizona.
This fact struck me while out driving earlier this year, and I stopped into a Tim Horton’s for a cup of coffee. It was a Saturday afternoon and there was a hockey game on a TV in the restaurant. My mouth salivated at the case of freshly made doughnuts. And it occurred to me that Minnesota has culturally seceded from the Union and joined the Dominion of Hockey…I mean, Canada. Welcome to the Province of Minnesota!
Winter Having an Impact
Another thing that winter does is have an impact on people that live here. Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. This disorder is an effect that reduced daylight and sun exposure has on the body’s circadian rhythm. It can lead to seasonal depression, sleep difficulties, etc.
With as much time as I spent outside this summer, I am feeling the effects of winter to a much greater degree than I ever have in previous years. I’m actually quite surprised and astonished at the significance of the affect.
This year I am taking a few steps to remedy that obstacle by using light therapy and taking vitamin D. Being proactive to address issues like this can make the difference in how we weather the winter and holiday season.
The Winter Diet Hurdle:
The holidays always represent such a hurdle when it comes to dieting, and winter even represents a hurdle for me when it comes to being active. It’s so easy here to adopt a “hibernation” mindset where you start eating calorically dense “comfort” foods and staying wrapped in blankets while watching TV. Attitude is so important in navigating these hurdles. It’s something I struggle with on an ongoing basis. In the winter, I find I need to “reset” or rededicate myself to my goals quite often. It, sometimes, amounts to nothing more than a few quiet, reflective moments where I think about how far I have come and how important it is to keep the progress going.
“I did it today, I can do it tomorrow!”:
Sometimes it takes more than a mental reset. For those times, I find, that I need to follow up with dedicated action. For example, that could include setting up a dedicated menu that I follow for a day – ticking off the items that I can eat, and holding myself accountable to say no to anything that is not on the list. The focus here is creating a goal (to say no to snack foods for one day) and by accomplishing that goal I establish a non-scale victory that reinforces my will and dedication. “I did it today, I can do it tomorrow!”
Or perhaps it can be setting up a schedule that takes me away from home and keeps me as busy as possible to prevent idle snacking. That can even be as simple as going to a library or coffee shop to do some writing. But the point being that I set up some kind of plan that mitigates the snacking urges that come with the holiday baking season or the winter blahs.
I had two great experience over the long holiday weekend. I was able to go spend some time with mom on Thanksgiving Day. She is still in the Transitional Care Unit, healing from her broken hip, but is doing great! So I decided to go in and spend that holiday with her. The TCU really did a fantastic job putting on a dinner for patients and family.
I have to say, I expected the turkey to be textbook example of a dry, institutional meal – devoid of any semblance of flavor and perfectly matching the consistency of pressed sawdust. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The turkey was amazing. It was moist and tender and possibly the best turkey I have ever eaten. I was shocked. Along with turkey the meal included some yams, stuffing and green beans – all of which were delicious. Again, I was stunned on all of it. I had an opportunity to chat with the cook, and I learned that she is particularly proud of her yams …and it showed. They were brilliant. Fear not, I did ask what was the cook’s secret for the delicious turkey. She told me that she simply basted it in butter. I can see where that would make a difference!
At the TCU, the cooking was done by “Dutchess”, the normal head cook. But there was a family there that volunteers to serve the meals each year. Rather than have their family holiday meal on that night, they choose to come volunteer at the TCU to help out those that may not have an opportunity be with family. I counted about 8 members of their family helping out. I was impressed and thought it was a really great and generous family tradition. I know it was appreciated too – as I saw many patients there without any family to keep them company.
Dinner with Erik & Family:
The next night I went to my cousin Erik’s house and had dinner with family there. It was a great and entertaining night – full of love and laughter! I really enjoyed helping Erik with the cooking and preparing some special treats for my family. The greatest moment of the evening is the conversation I had with Nick, my cousin Amanda’s husband, who has lost 35lbs and was inspired to work on his lifestyle by this blog and the changes he has seem me undertake. I was completely humbled and so happy. That, right there, is one of the big reasons I am out here writing this week after week. I love it – congratulations Nick!!
I felt the need to do a two day cleanse in week 69. But with the impending holidays, the inevitable struggle against food and feasting is made more complicated by my mood and fasting. Which, let’s be honest, fasting never helps my mood. So it was a volatile situation that saw some limited success.
This time around, the second day went well. But the first day was brutal …I ended up eating about 700 calories on that day just from little snacks. That totally undermines the idea of intermittent fasting. On day 2 I did much better only taking in about 200 calories all day. To be clear, this activity isn’t done in a vacuum, I use nutritional supplements to make sure my body has the nutrients it needs. My goal is simply to give my digestive system a break so it can process additional toxins out of my system.
Well over my two weeks my intake wasn’t terrible at all. I do have some trends continuing to pop up. But calorically, over the two weeks we only have two days that hit 1600 calories or higher. So that’s not too bad. One day was really bad but that was from snacking on cookie brittle. Resisting that is a battle all its own. The trends I am seeing are the partaking of chips and salsa at too frequent a rate. The salsa is homemade and very clean, so that’s not an issue – but even with limiting myself to 10 chips per serving (representing 140 calories) that still is too much of that kind of thing for my body – especially since over the two weeks I am seeing 10 instances of chips & salsa. Each one is about 5-6 tablespoons of salsa and 10 chips. That’s it. But still too consistent. The rest of my food intake was pretty decent – main meals still remain balanced and healthy.
A snacking victory over the last two weeks has been resisting peanut butter! Yep, you read that right – for this time frame I can claim victory of the peanut butter demon! YAY! However taking peanut butter’s place was cookie brittle because I made some over the Thanksgiving holidays. So it was a victory but I am now square in the midst of my quest to eat clean over the holidays. It’s here. It’s time to put on my game face and conquer the holiday challenges!
These two weeks were slightly down on the exercise front. I am trying to do a better with free weights. I am pushing to up the level of my free weight workouts to aid a bit more with toning. Over the two week periodI had 3 days where I did no exercise. I had 6 free weight session, was on the elliptical for 2 hours, and walked 12 miles. This was all broken down into smaller chunks like 20 min and 30 min elliptical sessions, and walking 3 miles at a time. While I only had 3 days off, I felt like I could have pushed harder with my exercise time. So next week that will be one of my focus areas.
A big part of my learnings this week is that winter is going to be rough this year. There are a lot of adjustments I need to make and really need to be diligent to get through this in a good way. More so than over the summer months, it will be necessary to buoy my frame of mind and really push positivity. That might sound like it is corny or annoying, but with all these winter issues working against us, it’s really helpful for me. At the moment I am writing this it is 5pm and pitch black outside. See what I mean? It already feels like it’s time to start winding down for the night, when in the summer I might be just getting home home from a 20 mile bike ride! Big difference. Chin up. Onward!