Friday, November 21, 2014

Les Confessions.

My favourite day of the week is here again at last! I’m going to kick off the weekend in my usual way with some Friday Confessions.

I confess… that although I love Friday, I was not particularly fond of how it treated me this morning. I bought a load of baking ingredients last night, thus my cupboards are kind of jam-packed right now. When I tried pushing my Shakeology bag back into said jam-packed cupboard this morning after making my shake, it pushed out a box of … wait for it … toothpicks. Eleventy billion toothpicks scattered from one end of the kitchen to the other. Awesome.

I confess… that I totally blew the budget last night on things like Baker’s Chocolate, chocolate chips, candied cherries, flour, sugar, condensed milk, Oreo cookies… Dudes, Christmas baking is an expensive sport. But I’m pretty sure it will be worth it.

christmas_gingerbread_84244_16x9

I confess… that I’m SO excited to get my bake on this weekend! There’s still some decorating to do, but in and around it, I’m going to get the Christmas cookies and bark underway. I’d like to have a few treats out the night of the House Tour for folks to sample. The goal will be for me to not sample them too much in advance.

christmas baking 3

I confess… that my perception of when Christmas is has been totally skewed by this House Tour. It dawned on me after I tossed and turned all night with my head just spinning with what’s left to do and the anxious excitement building inside me, that I’m feeling very much like I do in the days leading up to Christmas. This year, I get an advanced screening of it because instead of getting wound up for Dec. 25th, I’m now getting wound up for Dec. 1st. By the time actual Christmas gets here, I’m going to have felt totally strung out for 6 weeks I think.

I confess… that it’s the good kind of “strung out” though. The good kind of stress. Not the kind that makes me want to explode into tears and bury myself in a hole in the ground.  Thank goodness.

I confess… that my friend Lindsay’s excitement over her new PVR this week has me looking back fondly to just over a year ago when I finally got my PVR, and how excited I was about it. It felt like the coolest thing in the world. I still very deeply appreciate it every day – especially that sacred time each day that I get to spend with Jimmy. ;)

tonight-show-jimmy-fallon

I confess… that as much as I love being able to fast-forward through commercials, I do find myself stopping every now and then to watch the odd Christmas commercial. Life is just empty without Christmas commercials.

I confess… that I have to admit, I was a teensy-tiny bit jealous of Buffalo and their snow this week.  Pretty sure they’d all kick me in the head for saying that, but there’s a part of me that would really love to be part of a giant snowstorm like that.  I don’t suppose I’d be loving it so much if I was actually there, especially now with the temps rising and flood warnings becoming urgent, but that feeling of been trapped inside with six feet of snow blocking your front door?  Gives me a little thrill just thinking about it.

buffalo-snow-storm

houses-covered-in-snow-in-western-new-york

I confess… that this is normally the time of year that I start to get jealous of my American buddies because they’re getting all psyched up for Thanksgiving. This year, I can honestly say because of my early on-set Christmas spirit, I don’t even begrudge them their turkey dinner. I am excited because it feels like once American Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season can officially begin!

I confess… that I don’t think I’ve ever talked so much about Christmas in November before in my life. I’m sorry guys… Nope. Not sorry at all. ;)

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When is it that I’m supposed to get old again?

In some ways, I can definitely tell that I’m 31 years old now.

For one thing, I’ve noticed my bottom teeth are starting to get discoloured.  I’ve always had pretty decent, nice, fairly white teeth.  Now, suddenly, there’s a brownish stain developing around the edges.  They tell me it’s because of drinking coffee.  Adult problems.

Another thing has been the introduction of All Bran into my diet in the past year.  And, well… yeah.  We won’t get into that one too much.

Of course, there’s the constant dread every time I wake up in the morning and have to analyze the wrinkles and creases around my eyes in the mirror.  Where the hell did THEY come from?!  I don’t like them.

I can’t stay up past 10 PM.  Even on weekends.  That desire to go out and get drunk and dance all night is long gone.  I watch Saturday Night Live on Sunday mornings with a hot cup of joe, like a grown up.

But, in many other ways, I still very much feel like a kid at heart.  And I’ve thought a lot about that lately as I reflect on my taste in music.

When is it that people reach the age that they stop liking “new” music?  When I was a kid, my parents hated the music we listened to.  When we went on Sunday drives, we were relegated to the few tapes my father would allow – Elvis Presley, Gail Gavan, Kenny Rogers, and, if he was really living on the edge, Randy Travis.

My mom & dad’s record collection (which has been dug out of a dusty basement corner recently with the purchase of a new record player for my mom) is limited to the likes of The Platters, The Everly Brothers, gospel records, Floyd Cramer, Anne Murray, and, of course, good ol’ Elvis.

If I was in the basement blasting the New Kids, or, in my teen years, the Backstreet Boys, or any number of pop, rock, country, or rap artists (ooooh how they loved my Eminem phase!), dancing around like a cool kid, I would almost always here the mighty slam of the door upstairs as the ‘rents tried to block out “all that racket”.

I don’t have kids, so I don’t really know.  But if I had, say, a 7-year-old there’s a good chance my kid might like Justin Bieber.  Or Katy Perry.  Taylor Swift.  Ariana Grande.  Maroon 5.  Or any number of the big hit-makers I listen to daily on my favourite radio stations.  My go-to station is still Hot 89.9 (although I do bounce around quite a bit on the radio dial, depending on my mood.)

If my kid was downstairs blasting One Direction’s, “Steal My Girl”, I’m more likely to yell “TURN IT UP!!!” rather than slam the door to block it out.  Because that’s my jam, yo.

I keep wondering when I’ll reach that age.  That age when I start shaking my head and saying, “Man, they sure don’t make ‘em like The Tragically Hip anymore.  Have these kids ever even heard of Nirvana?  Do they understand the pure genius that is Bruce Springsteen?  Fools, I tell you!  They are all FOOLS!”

I love me some classic rock.  And I thoroughly enjoy digging out old CD’s and listening to the sounds of my youth.  The bands and singers that I grew up with, the ones my parents tried to shut down.  I’ve even developed a deep appreciation – and yes, in some cases, love – for those “golden oldies” that my parents brought us up on.

But I also really love a lot of the current stuff too.  I haven’t yet hit that stage where a song comes on, and I think, “ugh.  This is terrible.  WHAT is wrong with the youth of today?!  Where is the oldies station?!”

I hope I never do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Loves!

The morning hasn’t been going so smoothly… nothing major, just… “one of those mornings”.  I forgot it was garbage day and thus had to rush around gathering all of the garbage bags to put out this morning.  Then I forgot my travel mug of coffee on the counter when I left the house.  I returned home to get the mug after having breakfast with my mom (because I can’t live without my morning coffee), and that little detour had me arriving at work late.

Yeah.  Just… “one of those mornings”.

But rather than letting my bad start to the day get me down, I’m going to cheer myself up by thinking of the things I’m loving this Wednesday!  Here we go!!

I’m loving… Jimmy Fallon.  Of course.  Always & forever.  You guys know that.  But last night was extra-special.  See, this was supposed to be U2 Week on the Tonight Show, with performances, sketches, and all kinds of fun stuff with Bono and the boys all week long.  But then Bono broke his arm in a cycling accident over the weekend, leaving U2 Week on Fallon a bit of a bust.  Meh.  Whatever.  I’m not a huge U2 fan, so I didn’t really care.  But towards the end of Monday’s show (which I watched last evening), Jimmy announced that he had struggled to figure out what to do to fill in the last-minute musical act that night, when he realized he’s got the best band in the world right there with him in The Roots, and hell, he could pretend to be Bono for the night, right?  So he dawned a Bono-esque hat and shades, grabbed a guitar and harmonica, and then performed an amazing cover of “Desire”.  His impression of Bono was dead on, and I loved it.  Like, butterflies-in-my-stomach loved it.  Give me Jimmy & The Roots any night over U2!

I’m loving… that the Leafs lost 9-2 last night.

I’m loving… that I’ve finally made a start on my Christmas shopping.  Actually, more than a start.  I have gifts purchased (on-line) for my two nieces and nephew, as well as Danica’s birthday gift on order.  Kids are donezo.  Phewf.  Now if SOME PEOPLE in my family would SEND OUT THEIR CHRISTMAS WISH LISTS, I could get going on the rest of my shopping.  *hint*hint*family* ;)

I’m loving… that Christmas House Tour is just over a week away now.  My house is pretty much Christmasified right now.  I have two rooms that still need work – dining room and “craft room” – and some baking to do -  but I’m feeling very prepared and ready otherwise.

I’m loving… CHRISTMAS!!!  The snow we got this week has definitely added to the atmosphere, as well as the Christmas shopping on-line, plus the fact that every corner of my home is screaming “CHRISTMAS!!!!”.  I know it’s still too early for normal people, but I’m feeling as festive as can be here in mid-November, and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to catch up. ;)

I’m loving… Maroon 5 and “Animals”.  The first single of their new album, “Maps”, didn’t really do it for me, but last year’s Sexiest Man Alive (who trumps this year’s by a LONG shot, in my opinion – no offence Chris Hemsworth, but I barely know ye) has re-ignited my love for him & his band with this one.  It’s my jam right now.  This morning, it came on the radio when I was driving to work, and then I actually sat in my car in the parking lot to hear the big howl he lets loose.  I love it.

EditI didn’t watch the video before I posted it.  And… it’s kinda grody, dudes. My apologies.  Adam, I still love ya, but this is a little bit messed.  ick.

I’m loving… that the number on the scale keeps going down… and better yet, I finally feel like I have my healthy eating ways back in check.  I know that when presented with temptation, I’m still far too easily swayed, but at least when I’m on my regular daily routine, I can keep myself on track.  No more foraging through the fridge and cupboards each night stuffing my face.  I eat what my meal plan tells me to and that’s it.

I’m loving… my long johns.  Oh, that’s right, folks.  I had to bust the long johns out again this week.  I’d been putting it off and putting it off, but the time had come.  I’m enjoying my second skin and the warmth it brings me.

I’m loving… that the long johns actually fit under my pants.  Two weeks ago, I think it would’ve been a painfully tight squeeze…

I’m loving… New babies!  My friend Sara and her husband Graham welcomed their third child last Friday.  I hear beautiful baby Hannah is getting lots of love from her big sister Charlotte and big brother Daniel – and I so can’t wait to meet her!  Newborn snuggles are my favourite!

Happy Wednesday friends!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Target Back in Sight

This morning was a good morning for me.  When I stepped on the scale, I was back within sight of “The Magic Number”.  And by “back within sight”, I mean less than 10 lbs. away from it.

Here’s a thing you should know about me:  I violate one of the biggest weight loss rules there is each day, and that is that I get on the scale almost every single morning.  Not supposed to do that.  Once a week max, the experts warn.  Measurements are more important than the number on the scale anyways, they say.  That number can fluctuate daily, and it’s not worth it to get depressed over it when it goes up and down like a yo-yo.

And yet, I get on it every morning.  I don’t log my weight daily – that I only do once a week - but I just need to know.  It’s kind of a weird little obsession I have.  I take it as my warning for the day:  “OK, here’s your number.  Now you need to try to make sure it doesn’t go higher tomorrow.  This is your mission, if you choose to accept it.”

In recent months, I hadn’t been accepting the mission.  I’d been watching that number steadily climb, growling over it, and feeling very much in denial about it.

But that number, when it reached a certain spot, was my indicator that it was time to get smart about this again.  I thank God it finally smacked me upside the head.

So for the past week and a half, it has been bringing me great relief to see it on the decline.  As my diet became cleaner, as my choices became healthier, and as my portions became more reasonable, combined with a regular exercise routine, the number started to go down. And I find myself breathing a sigh of relief each morning, as each pound lost is one more little step in the right direction.

Last week, as I previously reported, I lost 5 lbs.  This week, the ounces have continued to be shed (albeit at a slower rate, as I expected) – and it was so nice this morning to finally see that I’m back within grasp.

I’ve always considered losing 10 lbs. a very doable task.  Even at my heaviest, I knew that with some effort, I could lose 10 lbs. fairly easily.  And along this journey, I’ve always set little 10 lbs. goals for myself because it’s more encouraging to look at the small picture than the big picture. 

My goal weight – the weight that I’m most comfortable at, the weight I’ve always targeted, “The Magic Number” – is back within reach.  It’s less than 10 lbs. away.  If I dig deep, work hard to avoid temptation, and stick to the plan, I just might get there before Christmas.

Easy?  Hell no.  Especially not this time of year, with all of the parties and potlucks and goodies of the holiday season lying in wait.  And I know just how easy it is to let myself be led astray.  It can happen in the blink of an eye.

But right now, I really feel like I’ve got my mojo back.  I feel strong.  I feel focused.  I feel like I’m back in control of this thing.

That in itself just might be the biggest victory of all.

Magic Number, here we come.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I’m LOVING Wednesday!

Happy Hump Day, gang!  I’m in a super good mood this week, so why not share a few of the things I’m LOVING this Wednesday?  Here we go!

  • I’m loving that I finally busted out the Christmas CD’s last night.  I got one tree up and lit while Elvis & friends crooned Christmas tunes to me.  It was bliss.

elvis christmas duets

  • I’m loving that I now have all of the borrowed furniture I required to assemble one of the upstairs spare bedrooms for the tour.  Another piece of the puzzle in place…
  • I’m loving my new bedroom!  OK, it’s not a new bedroom.  It’s the same bedroom I’ve been in for 6 years.  But in the past two weeks, it has been completely re-vamped.  New paint, new bedding, new blinds.  I go to bed half an hour early to read now, just so I can spend more time in it!
  • Speaking of going to bed early to read… I’m loving the book I’m reading!  It’s a book by Jeanette Walls called Silver Star.  I had high hopes for it, since I loved her memoir The Glass Castle, and sure enough, Silver Star is living up to my expectations!

silver star

  • I’m loving that it’s soup season again!  I swear, I think that’s the thing I missed most during the summer months.  (I know… who misses WINTER?  Well… I kinda did…) Last winter, it truly was one of my favourite things to do on cold days – get busy in the kitchen, and have a big soup pot simmering.  Late Saturday afternoon, after a busy day, I tried out a mish-mash of squash soup recipes hoping to create the perfect autumn blend.  It didn’t quite work out the way I hoped, but it’s still edible, and I’ve been enjoying it for supper each night this week.

squash soup

  • I’m loving that my bigger sized pants are finally starting to feel loose again.  Healthy November is going SO well!! A few more pounds and I’ll be able to fit back into my “skinny” pants again.  But I might just stay in this baggier size for a bit.  It’s been a while since clothes felt loose on me.  I love how they make me feel “thinner”.
  • I’m loving that snowflakes have started appearing in the pictures for the weather forecast.  So far, we haven’t seen many of them, and it doesn’t look like we have any major dumpings heading our way in the near future, but… I just love it when they are finally a possibility.  Flurries make me happy.

snowfalll

  • And speaking of snowflakes… I’m loving that I have mine cut out!  It’s become tradition for me to hand-cut snowflakes to go in each pane of glass for the door between my living room and dining room, and while it’s kind of a pain in the ass, it makes me feel good when they’re done.  Even if they do give me a snowflake-cutting blister on my thumb.

snowflakes 2

  • I’m loving that I feel like I’ve got time.  Last night I was rushing around trying to get a few decorating things done, and I had to pause and shake my head.  It’s only November 12th.  I still have three weekends left before the Tour.  There is still so much time… I know the list of things to do is long, but there’s no need to go about it all frantically.  (At least, not yet.)
  • I’m loving that I’ve had so many helping hands who are gung-ho about getting me & my house ready for the tour.  I hate burdening others with tasks and requests, but so far, most have been greeted cheerfully, willingly, and even sometimes with great enthusiasm!  Decorating for the holidays should be a jolly chore, and it makes me happy that so many family & friends are making sure it is just that for me as I prepare for the Tour.

I think that’s all she wrote for today, folks!

What are YOU loving this Wednesday?!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day Randoms

  • Remembrance Day has always been a very meaningful day for me.  Even as a child, I knew it had to be marked with respect and poignancy.  I’ve always made sure to buy a poppy and wear it in the weeks leading up to November 11th.  I always take the time to pause for a moment of silence at 11 AM.  I hold deep gratitude for the veterans who fought for my freedom, and for the current military today who continue to protect it.  It’s a time to reflect, a time to show respect, and a time to say thank you.

Unknown soldier

  • With Remembrance Day falling only a few short weeks after our country was rocked by two cowardly acts of terrorism, with two members of our Canadian military killed on home soil, this Remembrance Day seems to be even more important to me.  Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo are in the forefront of my thoughts –as they will be with many Canadians today, I’m sure.

Cirillo-Vincent

  • Thanksgiving is over for us here in Canada, but many of my American pals are looking forward to it, and in that spirit, I have to say a very big THANK YOU to the people who are helping me get ready for the Christmas House Tour.  I knew there was work to be done to prepare, but what has been accomplished in the past two weeks around my house is more than I ever thought could be done in two weeks.  There have been many who have stepped up – loaning me decorations, loaning me furniture, helping me clean and get the rooms set up.  But the key to all of it has been my Mom.  I couldn’t have even come close to being ready without her.
  • The good news is this:  most of the big “projects” with respect to renovations and home improvements have now been completed, and that means it’s time for the fun part…DECORATING!!  I do believe the first tree will be going up tonight!
  • I have so many plans and ideas.  I just can’t wait to put them all in motion and see if they work as well as they do in my mind’s eye.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t give an update on how “Healthy November: Take 2” is going.  It pleases me to share that all’s going very well!  I was down 5 lbs after Week 1, which was a huge relief.  I know that was partly water weight, and it won’t continue to fall of so easily (not my first time at THIS rodeo) – but it feels good nonetheless.  I feel so much better, physically and emotionally, just knowing I’m back on a better path, making healthy choices and being mindful of what I eat.  I’ve always said if I could just get a few solid good days under my belt it would make the world of difference, and it certainly has.  Especially surviving the weekend without any major over-indulgences.  That was big for me!
  • It’s almost time to start watching CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!  I’ve added a few new ones to my collection this year, including Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (is that a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?  Not sure.  I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, and I’m excited to watch it again), as well as White Christmas.  I take great pride in my Christmas movie collection.

The_nightmare_before_christmas_poster

white christmas 

  • The good part about getting the house completely ready so early in November and being on the House Tour is that I’ll have allll of December to relax and watch those movies!  Oh, and I’ll have to bake.  And do my shopping.  And wrap presents.  Not to mention the holiday get-togethers and meals and events that will be coming. 
  • Nevermind…December won’t be as relaxing as I thought. ;)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Welcome to “Healthy November.” Again.

That’s right. It’s that joyful time of year, which now appears to have become my very own tradition, when I valiantly try to right the off-course ship that is my weight loss/healthy lifestyle journey.

I haven’t written much about that journey lately, because… well, let’s face it, everything had become rather redundant, hadn’t it? And I feel like this post will carry much of the same.

I need to get back on track I need to start doing the things that worked for me before. I need to stop eating everything in sight. I need to cut the chip-and-dip cycle. I need to stop craving chocolate and peanut butter and honey with every inch of my body and soul.

A few months of drifting off track has done major damage, but repeating these words over and over makes no difference.

I have to want it. I have to get myself in the right state of mind to even think about resuming my healthy ways. I can’t just say, “Starting Monday, I’m going to get this under control again.” Just because it’s a new Monday doesn’t mean my head and my heart are ready for the clean slate. I have to spend serious time soul-searching, planning, and psyching myself up for it.

So that’s what I spent last week doing. Ridding my house of junk (oh yes, AGAIN), researching healthy eating websites, collecting little bits of motivation, assembling a new workout schedule… all in preparation for Healthy November.

You may recall that I declared this month “the Healthiest of the Healthy” last year after a few weeks of mini Halloween chocolate bars and some Pillsbury sugar cookies had started to get the best of me.

This November? This November things are a little more serious. A little more dire. Going back and reading that post from last November almost had me rolling my eyes. Dude. You were fiiiine. You didn’t even KNOW what real food problems were!!

It’s not a few weeks of chocolate bars that I’m battling with now. They are more just like the icing on the proverbial – and literal - cake.  It’s three whole months of over-indulging in bad, bad food choices. And I have paid the price for those choices. I bought clothes in the late summer/early fall in anticipation of this time of year – skinny jeans and cozy sweaters – most of which now no longer fit me.

If there’s ever a kick in the ass I needed, it’s pants that I worked damn hard to get into that are now too tight.

And even though it discourages the hell out of me that I even needed that kick in the ass, it’s a good thing it finally happened. I had grown complacent. Sure, I knew I had gained some weight back, but I looked in the mirror and thought, “I still look pretty good! So what if my middle is thicker again? I’m OK being this size. As long as I don’t get any bigger…

I told myself that at at least three or four different stages over the past few months. Gained 5 lbs? Well, that’s crappy, but not a big deal. 10 lbs? A little more serious, but hey, I still fit in my clothes, and that’s the main thing. 15 lbs? Eep… getting a little scary, but as long as I don’t go any higher on the scale, I’m OK!

22 lbs? Sound the alarm, mother*cker.

Yep. That’s where I was at when I weighed in on Monday morning. 22 lbs. over the lowest I’d ever weighed (this past April.) Not only is it alarming to know that I gained that much so quickly’; not only is it alarming to know that I put on the bulk of it in the past 90 days… It is alarming because that can’t be frigging healthy. To gain 22 lbs. that fast? That can’t be good for my body. That can’t be good for my heart.

My goal at the time of my birthday was to develop a healthy relationship with food. I think it’s quite safe to say I did the exact opposite. I was knocked severely off course by some personal anxiety, and after I got over that, I did some serious comfort eating when people I knew were suffering. After going through a few rounds like that, then I had the taste of it again. The chips were back in my life. The chocolate chip cookies were always ready and waiting in the can. A quick skip down to the store for a chocolate bar every couple of days… Why yes, I think I will have an appetizer, meal, AND dessert!

They weren’t just hard-earned treats anymore. They had all crept back into my regular every-day life again.

But I couldn’t just let them stay.

I finally reached the point last week where my thought was this: What the frig is the point in working out every day if I’m just totally decimating the advantages by eating too much?

Because, of the few things I still had going for me, that was the biggest: I had never stopped working out. I was sweating five or six times a week. Following my exercise sched to a T.

But what was the damned POINT?! Sure, it should earn me the right to indulge now and then. But it couldn’t erase the serious damage I was doing by over-eating like a maniac. Calories consumed and burned just don’t work that way.

I’ve said time and time again that I can never go back to being a couch potato again. I need to stay active and keep working out if I hope to continue.

But now it’s time to make the food end of things work in conjunction with the exercising again.  Otherwise, it is entirely futile and rather ridiculous to be sweating my ass off for nothing.

And thus, that is the goal for this “Healthy November”.

Last year, I wanted to use that month to reach my “magic number” on the scales, and I was successful. I’m not setting that goal this time around, because it is unrealistic. It’s too far away. Instead, I’m hoping a solid month of healthy eating & daily exercise will help me lose 10 of those 22 lbs. I’m hoping it will once again engrain in me those habits that led me to success in the past. I’m hoping it will teach me to be mindful and careful, especially with Christmas and all of it’s treats and delicacies lying ahead…

It’s actually the perfect month to do this, because November is kind of the calm before the storm. The Halloween treats are gone, and the Christmas ones are not all up in my face yet. There are no big birthday celebrations or parties that focus on food on the agenda. On top of it all, I imagine I’m going to be so consumed by getting ready for the Christmas House Tour that I won’t have time to daydream about cheeseburgers and poutines.

I know there will still be little challenges. It’s impossible to go four full weeks without facing some kind of temptation.

It’s a matter of how I handle those challenges and temptations.

I’m ready. I’m determined. And a few days in to “Healthy November”, I’m already feeling so much better.

So much more empowered.

The battle rolls on…

This round, I must come out of it victorious.