Weekly 71: Dec 6-12, Week 72: Dec 13-19, Week 73: Dec 20-26.

(Cover Image: A fantastic and low calorie turmeric, lentil, sweet potato, celery and onion soup!)

It’s the holidays!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! The holidays are always a wonderful time of year when I get to see family and friends and celebrate those relationships. It’s also a time of year when the inevitable holiday parties bring holiday eating and holiday weight gain.  This year, I wanted to do well over the holidays but it didn’t happen.  In fact, it was a pretty rough holiday for me.  

To put it bluntly, continued stress, stress-eating, holiday baking, poor discipline, and any number of other issues have compounded to bring a net weight gain of 8 pounds over the last three weeks.  I’ll be honest…it makes me feel defeated.  Especially when it’s a situation where I have to own it,  and point the finger squarely at me.  There is nothing else to blame here …its just me. 

Over the last three weeks, for some reason, my resolve and healthy habits have come crashing down around me.  My adherence to my diet has suffered, my exercise levels have been down, my optimism and positive outlook have taken a beating and I have no idea why all this has happened.  It’s as if these last three weeks I have reverted to someone I don’t know.  Let’s jump right into the nuts and bolts …I’ll wax poetically later.   

Cookie brittle
Yep …tis the season for baking, cookie consumption and holiday bloat. Public enemy #1, right here!

Intake: 

Now, to be clear, it doesn’t take much for my diet to go absolutely to hell.  And in looking at my diet, it really hasn’t been much, but the underlying theme I am seeing is not a new one, it’s just been exacerbated by the holiday baking I do.  Specifically, I am talking about making snacking choices.  I see myself nibbling on chocolate chips, tortilla chips and salsa, cookie brittle, or other things rather than vegetables and hummus, or similar healthy choices.  I also find myself subbing some chips and salsa for a healthy protein shake for lunch.  

Stepping back and looking at the overall calorie numbers, it’s not terrible.  I am still staying right in the relative ballpark of my daily goals.  BUT …it’s a textbook case of choosing the WRONG sort of calories.  I’ve talked about this before and I am guilty of it yet again.  Too much sugar.  The content of the calories I am choosing is not filling me up (causing me to remain hungry and tempted to eat yet more) and also contains too much sugar which promotes water retention and inflammation.  It’s the very last thing I need, and I have fallen into that trap.  This is what slowly working your way out of your diet looks like.  You make one exception, then another, then another.  If you can’t control it, then it ends up controlling you.  

What I need to do is clear.  Be strict with myself and understand that this is entirely up to me.  I don’t have people around me 24/7 that can slap that piece of cookie brittle out of my hand. It has to be done entirely by myself. To paraphrase a military slogan I have seen lately ‘nobody is coming, it’s up to us.” The real question here is if I will actually do it or will my ipad screen become a “food confessional” next week again.   It’s got enough work to do just being an ipad …it doesn’t need to become a confessional too.  

salad
Chicken with quinoa and salad and fresh vegetables. We eat with our eyes …colors abound and this presentation makes me smile.

Exercise:  

Exercise over the last three weeks has steadily declined.  In week 1 I did 100 mins on the elliptical and 2 free weight sessions.  Week 2 featured 85 mins on the elliptical and a 3 mile walk.  In week three I did 60 mins on the elliptical and a 2.5 mile walk.  There may have been a few more free weight sessions in there, but the detail hardly matters …you get the idea, it’s been a slow decline in activity.  

This is another piece of the puzzle I need to confront head-on.  It’s an important part of combating the winter blahs – or seasonal affective disorder.  At my heaviest, winter never seemed like a big deal, which is likely because I was always operating in a depressed state.  With losing weight, being outside, being more exposed to sunshine, I sure notice the absence of it!  Minnesota is a particularly difficult place to deal with that because of the perennially overcast skies during the winter.  

Just like the intake issues, this is something that has everything to do with my resolve and my dedication.  It’s slipped in that last couple of weeks.  Sure there has been some mitigating issues, such as my mom’s health, the holidays, seasonal depression, etc …but ultimately all of those things are controlled by me , and I’m the only one that can take up the helm and come steer this ship back on course. 

Mini cooper
The winter weather does not stop my Mini Cooper Paceman! We can all take a lesson from this plucky little Englishman!

Thesis: We Can Change How “Celebration = Food” 

Often it is said that the holidays are the worst time of the year for dieting. The many dinner events with family or friends, the holiday parties, the happy hours, baking, cooking, feasting.  All of these activities provide temptation and opportunities for us to cheat on our diets.  It’s curious that so many events  regarding the winter holidays revolve around food and feasting.  Celebration is usually equated to food, and gathering around meals.  “It’s traditional”, “it’s what we’ve always done” “it’s what our ancestors did”…all of these explanations surface as people, inevitably, resist change. 

Lately, I’ve made a few comments about change, evolution and broadening views – in particular in regards to my support for the industry-changing potential of Tesla’s new Cybertruck. One of the maxims I always come back to when faced with a flock of naysayers that’s are rejecting change out of hand, without even examining its merits, is “the first one through the wall always gets bloody.”  I would love to plant a flag on the issue of “Celebration = Food”, stand up and say that in my life, in my household and in my circle of people I am going to change what celebration means.  I would love to do that …but…I won’t. 

baking cookie brittle
This is the “Marshalling Yard” where cookie brittle assembles before being shipped off to the four corners of North America.

Antithesis: It’s Not About The Food

So why won’t I make that an issue? Well, there IS something comforting about gathering those we love around us and offering delicious food and libations.  There’s something about hospitality, welcoming and sharing a meal that builds bridges. Generations, centuries even millennia have defined this act as one of kindness. It’s similar in cultures worldwide. Sure it could have been something else, but at this point, it isn’t. Offering a place at your table, comfort and fellowship, the warmth of your hearth, is an act that is singular in its caring and love.  And ultimately, that’s what these gatherings are about – or should be about.

Every year I roll up my sleeves and bake over 20 batches of that delectable, fattening treat called Cookie Brittle.  My grandmother made it a staple of my family, and now that she is gone, it is my tradition to uphold.  Does it NEED to be about food?  No, it doesn’t…in fact it’s not about the cookie brittle at all.  It’s like I told my friend Jolene Hanley on the subject of preparing a wonderful happy hour repast for friends … “it’s one way in which I get to show those people that I care about that I love them.”  

So…down deep it’s not about the food.  It’s what the food, and opening our homes, says…it says “I love you.” So when the season comes around, yes we have to try to be good.  But we can’t sequester ourselves or judge our snacking too harshly. There is a balance between sanity and severity, between being healthy and being happy and feeling good about ourselves and just plain old feeling good.  Often they are one in the same thing. But discovering that balance is up to each one of us individually.  Rest assured, I will always be pushing to redefine my habits in a healthy direction …but respecting this tradition of sharing a meal with my loved ones is something that will endure.

helipad
View from mom’s hospital room. A steam/water heated helipad so the snow and ice is kept clear of the landing area.

Mom Update:  

So just to be clear, there are several members of my family and close friends that read this blog and that’s why “mom updates” appear in the weekly digest.  As you all know by now, the weekly digest is a glimpse into my life, how I am handling the hurdles of trying to lose weight, and my observations on the world around me.  So to the rest of the world that may be reading this – thanks for your patience. 

So mom had her follow up check in with the surgeon on Dec 19.  As it turns out the surgery to fix her broken hip didn’t pan out well.  Upon reviewing xrays the surgeon deemed a second surgery had become necessary.  Immediately necessary.  So on the 20th mom was in for another hip surgery.  She did very well, the surgery went great.  By the 24thof Dec she was transferred to a TCU and we are back to the routine of working with therapists and trying to rebuild strength in her hip.  

Obviously this is not the outcome mom, nor I, wanted, but it did explain some pain she was having and the need for a second surgery did tie up quite a few unexplained loose ends.  I’m very happy it went well and mom has remained steadfast in the process.  Her recovery is going well, and she is very far ahead of the curve versus her last bout in this TCU.  To whit, mom has now spent 8 of the last 9 weeks in a TCU, including both thanksgiving and christmas holidays.  One thing I can share (for both mom and I) is that the fragility of health, and corresponding stress and depression are real things. 

Reservoir of Positivity:

One of the things I adore about all the people I have gotten to know through my local Isagenix team is their relentless and militant positivity. Not every Isagenix team is like this, nor would I expect them to be. Not every health organization, peloton team, health club class, or gym rat pack embodies the same quality. But with this particular group of people, each one of them is a leader, a follower, needs to be propped up on occasion and unconditionally supports someone else. Sometimes they show up just when you need them.  

So the holiday party this year came at a time when I, in particular, was not feeling my best.  I knew being around everyone at the holiday party would be fun, and I would enjoy the conversation and listening to everyone talk about dreams and goals or whatever happens to be on their mind.   Why did I just pick out “dreams and goals”? Because when people are happy they look forward.  Overwhelmingly, despite whatever struggles are going on in their lives, collectively they turn to look forward.  It’s a remarkable trend within that group.  

Party picture
Christmas party with the Isagenix team! It was great to see everyone!

To party, or discuss FOREX investment strategies?  

This year I spent most of my time talking to Richie Evlaine, who is the significant other of my good friend Jolene Hanley.  Richie is from Liberia, and has an amazing and unique outlook shaped by his upbringing. He was standing off from the group, not socializing as much …and as much as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, he was good company that night. I asked him if he enjoyed these events, and he said, yes they were good for a bit, but it’s difficult to tear himself away from his books.  He would rather be home learning something and building a legacy.  

Naturally, I knew we had a lot to talk about …so we spent most of the evening discussing his family’s land in Liberia, the FOREX market, investing strategies, the merits of side hustles and how to gauge what kind of activity is worth your time.  It was enlightening and fun.  Here’s what I loved about talking with Richie:  He had an opinion.  Yep, I know…that’s unique these days.  His opinion wasn’t informed by just parroting outside sources, he had clearly taken in the information and come to his own conclusions.  It made for a wonderful evening filled with insightful and entertaining conversation. 

Fiestaware
My Fiesta-ware Sale Sleuth, Lani Weaver, once again allowed me to add some color to my plate lineup! Good job, Lan!

My Take Away: 

Linnea Forsberg Harju made a post on facebook that said something about focusing on watching our diets for the other 50 weeks a year and not worrying about the time between Christmas and New Years.  She has a good point. We each do what we can.  Sometimes other circumstances get in the way and we don’t always make the best choice.  I’m not making excuses for making bad dietary choices, I’m simply saying that it’s over with now. 

 As I write this, it is Wednesday, new year’s day.  I am on the eve of completing yet another week before I weigh in and learn the full impact of my holiday struggles.  And I have decided that whatever number appears on my scale Friday morning, that’s where I start from.  It’s no different than how I started years ago when I was at my heaviest.  You have a plan, you know it works …buckle down and do your best.  Like Yoda says “do or do not, there is no “try””.  Have a great 2020, friends.  The journey continues.  

fiestaware2
Specialty plates from the Fiesta ware sale! A little Christmas themed goodness.

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