Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weight Loss Challenge Week 26--6 Month Anniversary!

It is here, the 6 month anniversary of the weight loss challenge!

The week has been busy, with appointments for the children and hubby's parents, work hours for both of us, regular issues with the kids, household needs, and phone calls--lots and lots of phone calls.  I need to hire a secretary.

After work Friday, I went to the next town where we do our shopping and where middle child goes to the special ed program in the middle school.  I weighed in, and lost 4 more pounds.  Despite all the horrible eating, stress, not exercising as much as I should, I still lost 4 pounds this month.  It could have been much more if I'd have behaved--but I'll take 4.


67 Pounds down in 6 months!

As a reward, I purchased an inexpensive bangle type watch with the words "Love, Hope, Faith, Courage, Dream, Inspire" engraved on the cuff going toward and away, so that I and others can read it.  I need a watch for work, so it fits the bill.  I also had my hair trimmed as it'd grown out a bit.  The shampooing and styling felt good, as I seldom allow the extra cost for pampering.  I wasn't paying much attention, so when I told the length I forgot to mention to keep the layers when trimming, so the layers are gone and I have a blunt bob that curls above the shoulders.  I'm not thrilled.  But, hair grows out and it'll be better soon.  I am going to stay away from the quick places to get hair done and try to get a regular appointment next time with someone I know.  The upside--for the firs time I fit into the chairs without feeling like a sardine.  And it did feel good to have my hair shampooed and styled.

Eating has been better this week.  I've been working more at it at being more mindful of what I put in my mouth.  I'm responsible for what goes in, right?

Exercise wise, I did up to 5 miles a day, with 3 days off this week.  I came in at goal, which is good.  I also did housekeeping duties (my job) so got a good workout there too.

I had to take a sick day Thursday, I'd gotten so exhausted and feverish and just felt like I'd picked up what the kids had been sharing.  I slept and slept and hibernated under a blanket as often as the phone would let me.  The 18 year old cat was my "nurse" who nuzzled up beside me and kept me company.  It wasn't work hours that did the exhaustion, but all the stresses that had built up in the days before, tons of appointments, extra needs that the kids had been displaying that happen with various weather/barometric changes, stresses middle child's biological dad and his relationships cause, and the getting up very early and having to stay up until everyone is in bed to make sure space heaters and lights are off and water is dripping.  I felt a lot better and had a ton more energy on Friday so made it to work and had a good day.

Today is Saturday, the last day of February, and it's a relax day.  The kids are out visiting their non-custodial parents, and it's snowing lightly outside.  I stayed up late after returning home from dropping off middle child and then getting groceries last night--the weather stations had said up to 5 inches of snow plus some ice, so you know how that means a grocery store run--no bread or milk but instead fruits, veggies, and flour to make things.  After I got settled in for the night and hubby was enjoying some videos on YouTube, I sat down with my hexagon quilt and the Anne of Green Gables dvd series and pieced on the quilt top.  Those dvds are 3 hours each.  I finished up the 2nd dvd in the series and relaxed.  It was nice and peaceful. :)  Today there of course little things to do, but there's also a lot of snoozing to do too!  There's a dvd and a blanket with my name on it very soon.  :)

God has been good to me.  He has given me peace when I've so needed it this week.  It seems that the devil has been working at us to cause chaos and calamity, but God can and will overcome them if we run to Him.  As the hymn says, "I am weak but Thou art strong".  This week I've had to pray for peace in the midst of chaos, and He has answered those prayers faithfully.

There has been a glimmer of hope that the bitter cold will come soon to an end.  We're in southern Kansas, but even so, it has been bitterly cold.  Yesterday when I went to work it was -3 with wind.  What is that glimmer?  Little specks of green are shooting up--the first bulbs of spring are popping up--daffodils and crocus and grape hyacinths are sending up greenery.  I look forward each winter to seeing those little green sprouts, it shows the promise of spring to soon come.  I'm so ready for the cold to end and the mild to warm to begin, to have fresh air in the house and the windows open,

How have you been this week?  Are you looking forward to the warmer weather too??

Shared at:  Darling Downs Diary, What Joy Is Mine, A Proverbs 31 Wife, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, The Modest Mom

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Weight Loss Challenge Week 25--Down But Not Out

This week has taken lots of encouragement to keep plodding on, not just with diet/exercise, but in general.

I know, no excuses.  We control what we put in our mouths, we control how often we exercise our bodies.  I didn't control myself very well while dealing with issues with the children that really drained more than I realized.

I went down, but I'm not out.

This past week involved not one, but two incidents with middle child that brought in law enforcement to help.  I had to call them myself, as his aggression got out of hand, once at home, once in public.  He doesn't communicate his feelings well--that happens with autism and mental retardation--and instead when he's very upset tends to use a fist or foot to let loose.  My husband and I have worked with him for many years to try to get him to use words instead, and more often than not he can successfully do so.  But, since his last visit with dad, who has a rather chaotic home life, he has deteriorated.  Our other two children have not been the easiest to manage these past weeks either, and with them combined together, and then add in other stress that comes with being in the "sandwich generation", we get drained.  There's stacks of paperwork, phone calls that seem to keep our line busy most of the day, faxes that are done nearly daily, emails on progress or lack of, visits from agencies who work with the kids, and then the daily household needs of meals, cleaning, animal tending (cats and a dog, but 2 cats when determined they want your attention turn into a herd), and so on.  Individually all of those are not stressing, but when put all together into one big ball, it's stress.

I got tired.

One evening when middle child had to be carried out of church this week, I sat down on the couch and let the tears flow.  I'd had my limit.  I told God I couldn't take anymore.  I wasn't strong enough to carry the load.

Many friends and family prayed, and I felt better.  I felt strength returning, where I could physically move and not want to camp out under a blanket and hide.  I even made it out to the little store here in town and purchased a calendar that was on clearance.  It has Psalms for each month.  For February, it has Psalm 28:7.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

The Lord knew I needed that right then.  So that calendar sits above my work table in the kitchen, so that I see it easily and am reminded that He is my strength.

Friends online have encouraged me to not give up, to not let my slip become a full slide down the hill.  I have needed that encouragement, as it feels very easy to go back to old ways--it is easy to slip and just keep slipping.

Sunday Pastor talked about how satan loves the defeated Christian.  I don't want satan happy with how I am.  I refuse to feel defeated, overwhelmed, and down for the count.  I let satan have a moment's hold, and that was a moment too long.

So, this is a new week and a chance to begin afresh.  I'm already on target for the week on exercise.  I start the counting on Sundays.  Eating, well, it's been worse, it's been better.  I made a fresh pot of soup, have some salad prepped in the fridge to take to work with me, plenty of fresh fruit in the fridge and in a bowl on the table to grab and go.  There's lean meats prepared to use whenever needed.  The tea stash is still plentiful, and I browsed the Bigelow tea site and definitely saw some that drew my interest--seriously, they have chocolate tea!!!


So, things are looking up--chocolate without the calories!!  God sure knows how to make my day!!

How are you doing on your journey?

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Weight Loss Challenge Week 24

Is spring ever going to get here??????????

It's Monday and we are at the end of a mild snow.  Maybe 2 to 3 inches.  That's not the thing that is getting me, it's the cold.  The bitter north wind seeps through the tiniest cracks and just goes to the bone.  I'm thankful for the layers of clothing to keep warm, both inside the house and out, and will be even more thankful when it's warmer and we can open windows and not face frostbite to go outside!

So, it's week 24 of my weight loss journey.  That's almost 6 months in.  On 3/4/15 the 6 month anniversary hits!

In the last 6 months, what started out as determination to change has become a lifestyle.  I don't have to purposefully think anymore about what to eat.  It comes more naturally now to look at calorie counts, at carb counts, fat count, and serving sizes.  I am more likely to make the healthier choice 95% of the time.  It's not as enjoyable to sit down to a greasy pizza as it used to be, as in the back of my mind I think "I'm going to have to really work hard to keep this from sticking to the hips".  That takes the fun out of it.  I've drifted away from the calorie counting apps, and mostly just keep track in my head as I go.  When you eat a pretty simple diet that isn't full of complicated recipes, it's fairly easy to keep a general track.  So what if I'm a calorie or two off?

What started 6 months ago (almost) has become easy to do.  I don't worry about whether a certain food is "approved" or "unapproved", if I have to buy a certain product to fit into a diet plan, I've never found a 1/32 teaspoon size (here we call those "pinches"), and I have not been having to buy protein powders and so on to put into recipes.  I've watched people do the fads diets (even if they are called a "lifestyle", a lot of people quit), even tried a few, and they *do* work for a short time.  But, if you can't do something for the long haul, can't make it a part of your regular life, if you have a "stop date", then it's not something that will work for people like me who have to fight the fat til the end.   It's not a fad to eat simple and mostly healthy.  You won't get rich or famous by choosing the apple over the cookie.  You don't have to have your own line of sweeteners (xylitol anyone?) or organic food or ridiculous sounding recipe names to lose weight.  You simply have to create a calorie deficit somehow, whether by calorie or exercise, or both.  It's easier to make that deficit by eating veggies, fruits, proteins, whole grains, whole foods than it is to eat sweets and high calorie things.  You don't even have to buy a book to do it.  You don't have to buy products for a particular diet name to do it.  You just have to start, keep working at it, work with what you have, and incorporate it into your every day life and tailor to your particular needs, family needs, and go with it.

Sorry bout that rant--I've been seeing diets and fads that swear they aren't fads and diets, and deliver the same results as fads and diets.  I'd say my thoughts on the Trim Healthy Mama, Maker's Diet, Atkins, and some other more recent ones, but I'd have my inbox lit up.  But, I will say this:  use common sense, and don't put your food/diet/book/author/ingredients as a god over THE God.

This past week has been one of off and on sickies, it seems as though while I don't get a full blown flu or sinus thing or whatever, I get drug down just enough for a fever, then it goes away with some extra rest, and then am back to normal.  The kids have brought home things and so far have not been down with them myself, just the cold that goes and comes and goes again and returns.  I attribute that to all the fruits and veggies and such that I've taken in and encouraged hubby to use as well.  I imagine in time it'll hit, but hopefully won't be as bad as others have had.  On the rest days I've not exercised as much, only got in 15 miles this past week.  My goal had been to up the amount.

Food wise it's been average.  Lots of veggies/fruits/soups, and occasional snacks with the family.  Basically the regular things I've been working at.  I've been so tired this week that I've made more easy to reheat meals instead of lots of cooking daily.  This way hubby or I can just throw some things on the plate and nuke it in a hurry.

For the first time as an adult, I went to a ball game.  Well, school ball game.  I had been embarrassed before, due to size, to go.  I wouldn't been able to fit in the old bleacher seats.  We took the kids to a basketball game, and I was able to fit into the pull down seats.  Barely.  They were older and definitely not made for plus sizes.  But, I still fit, and no red marks or bruises afterward.  We enjoyed a snack, as the kids saved some money back from their allowance to go to the concession stand.  I should have used my purse as a stash hiding bag and brought our own, it would have saved a ton.  The kids were happy that mom finally came along with them to a school activity.  They all cheered for our team, and they won.  It was nice to see people I recognized, although I don't know names of many.

So overall it was a good week.

How has your week been???

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Handy Dandy Tips for Saving At The Grocery Store

For what it's worth, our family does not subscribe to the organic craze that is so popular.  We are also not on board with the gluten free.  We *are* on board with making the grocery dollars stretch to feed 2 teenaged boys and 1 girl who will be a teen soon, a hubby who is a foodie, and myself who enjoys the fruits and veggies.

I keep our budget around $200 a month for groceries for 5 people.  There are some months when it is less due to utilities going up or an unexpected expense that cannot be ignored.  I've learned through the years how to make the amount allotted in the budget for groceries stretch farther and farther.  I had to.  We do not lack for food, we have no complaints on the amount of food in our home or on our plates.  The kids tend to complain that they aren't getting lots of junk, but that's fine.

What do I do to make the dollars stretch?

First, I do not coupon.  Why?  Many of the items we eat there are simply not coupons for that we've seen.  For instance, I purchase lots of fresh fruit, I have not seen coupons for fresh apples or oranges or mangoes or the like.  I wish there were coupons here locally for those!  Instead of purchasing with coupons, I tend to purchase items that are not name brand.  Most of our items are Dollar General's brand, the Walmart store brand, Always Save, or Best Choice.  Don't get me wrong, name brands are great, and there are a few things that I buy that are branded, like freezer bags (they are thicker) and coffee, but most things that we use are available in an "off" brand and are usually cheaper than the name brand with coupon.

Second, when we shop, we take advantage of manager's specials and temporary price reductions that are not advertised in the weekly fliers.  Our little grocery store has manager's specials in the meat department, and sometimes that saves a good deal on meats.  Temporary price reductions I've found throughout the store, from the produce department to various shelved items.  I especially enjoy it when the coffee/creamers and teas are TPR'd.  I've found many good deals through the store on things marked down like that.  Unfortunately many of the TPR'd items eventually are clearanced, so if I have a little extra in the budget I may buy two or three.

Third, I hit the clearance/reduced meats and produce.  Years ago, shortly after graduating high school, I had opportunity to work in a meat department of the local grocery store where I lived in Missouri.  I learned a bit just watching as I worked, and learned that brown isn't necessarily bad--it's just where the meat has had air hit it.  Green, that's another story.  I also learned that the pretty red meats that stay red for days and days have CO2 added to the packaging and usually aren't packaged on site--think big box stores like Walmart and others that sell lots of prepackaged meats that look perfectly packaged and are simply shipped frozen and then put out in the case.  With the little local stores, with a meat cutter on staff, the meats do turn brown, but they are fresher, and will be marked down faster to move the product.  You also won't be getting a pretty red package that is rotten inside but doesn't show it for the CO2 added.  In the produce department, I have no problem with buying slightly wilted peppers or bananas that are ripened very well, if they are marked down reasonably.  Our store keeps a cart with daily mark downs, and usually there's bananas in bags for a dollar, lately there's been bell peppers 4/$1, and even pomegranates that tasted just fine.  Of course you have to be careful and look for fuzz and odd colors, but if you enjoy fresh produce this can be effective.  Last week we brought home lots of green onions for $1 and a few packages of bell peppers for $1 a package, and made some sofrito to add to omelets and such.

Alongside the meat and produce department, I've even found some deals in the deli case.  Our store keeps a hot case of ribs, rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, and other ready to eat things.  At the end of the day, these items are packaged and put in the cold case at a lower cost.  I've picked up a rotisserie chicken for as low as $2.99, a slab of ribs for $6 (sells hot for $12), and even a chicken pot pie that fed 3 people for $2.99.  I'm ok with heating things up myself, if it saves half the cost.  The chickens I enjoy particularly as I boil the bones afterward for soups, so it's an added deal to me.

Fourth, I buy along with what the weekly ad has for sales/specials.  If a certain item we use a lot is on sale, I'm all over it.  I really look at the produce and meat department sales, jumping on fresh fruit sales often, especially apples, oranges, and grapes.  The meat department sales aren't so much sales anymore, but something I dread, with basic cuts going higher and higher weekly it seems.  Sometimes the "staples" are on sale as well, which is great.

Our overall staples are basics, like flour, rice, beans, basic spices/herbs, milk, eggs, frozen veggies, coffee, tea, and then we fill in around those.  Again, no name brands usually.

Whenever possible, we buy our eggs from a local farmer.  Many times we have eggs given to us by a family member who has a farm and brings his eggs to town to sell.  If at the end of the day they don't sell, which sometimes happens, he will give them to us just so he doesn't have to haul them home.  We share them with others who would enjoy them as well.  Average price for a dozen farm fresh eggs is $2.  I buy honey that is brought in from a local beekeeper and sold at our little local grocery store and occasionally the farmer's market

In the growing season, we share a full back yard garden with hubby's dad and work at it to bring a lot of produce up.  That saves a ton and it gives us exercise.  Lots of corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, butternut squash, lettuce by the grocery bags full, spinach, asparagus, and all kinds of other produce come from there.  I grow my own herbs yearly and enjoy the fruits of the harvest often, and dry them out to keep for later.

As mentioned early on, we shy away from the organics and specialty diets.  We aren't concerned with it, it's not a battle we choose to fight.  Our wallet will not take on the battle either, when organics cost double per pound in the produce department.  "Grass fed" beef is not something we worry about either.  I grew up on a working Angus farm, learned a ton about tending cattle, what diseases are out there and are preventable with appropriate antibiotics/vaccines, and so on.  I couldn't care less if the cow we eat had supplements and corn.  I'm glad the cow had it's shots so it wasn't languishing with bacterial infections and viruses that were completely preventable.  Our budget does not allow $10 a pound for "grass fed" where it may be $4 or $5 otherwise.   I can't justify the extra cost with a limited budget and growing kids.

On the gluten free fad that is going around, we shy away from that as well.  We've had people mention to us about trying it with the kids, and they were sincere about it, and we've looked into it.  Then we see the $7 a pound flour and the types of replacements that are there for gluten, and say no.  The replacement for gluten is rice flour, potato starch, and so on, which makes blood glucose spike, and that's not good either.  Many spikes like that from the starches can lead to early onset of diabetes when one may not otherwise have had it, as it overworks the pancreas and the sensors that signal the output of insulin, and then the body stores the insulins and glucose as....FAT.  So, we're sticking to the rye, hard and soft wheat, and keeping the rice and potatoes at a moderation.  Gluten free is not good for diabetics like the 2 of us adults in the family.  None of us in the family have the issues with gluten that a very tiny percentage of the population have, so no need to venture down the gluten free road.

There are other ideas and ways that we keep our food budget under control.  I'll elaborate more later as time allows.  You're welcome to share your ideas as well!

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thank You :)

Thank you all so much for your encouragement through comments, Facebook, emails, and in person!  You all are the best!

I've been working on some posts for the upcoming weeks, on buying healthy foods on a tight budget and other topics.  It's been so hectic here, it's been like running around like a headless chicken.  I've been catching myself coming and going!  I will get to responding to comments in the next day or so when I can sit down for more than a minute without interruptions.

Again, thank you all so much for your encouragement!  You all are the most awesome cheerleaders a girl can have!

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Weight Loss Challenge Week 23

Here we are, the middle of February!  It has been absolutely beautiful outside, with upper 60's for highs for the past few days.  You can't beat that for February!

This week has been a little rocky.  There was an arctic blast that rocked our world, and in turn threatened to explode my joints.  Barometric pressure has a tendency to change, and so do the joints.  For half of the week, I wasn't walking very well no matter what I did to work with it.  But, I kept on doing the exercise dvd's, just had to vary the movements just a tad more to keep from stiffening up to where I couldn't bend.  I believe that the exercise kept the joints from really stiffening up to where I wouldn't have been able to climb the stairs or do much else.

My exercise goal was more than met.  The standing goal is 18 miles a week, or 3 miles a day x 6 days a week.  I made it at least 20 miles, plus the standard house keeping work, and the paid work that is light housekeeping compacted into a smaller amount of time.  I may up the goal by a mile or two a week and keep pushing along.  I no longer feel the first mile to mile and a half it's like a stroll even at a 4 mph pace.  I have to add in stretch band work or weights in order to really feel anything.  Of course back in September a mile was not an option.

Eating has been decent until Friday.  I've stayed on track, kept track of calories, put snacks in the right places, etc.  Friday, I didn't just fall off the wagon, I did the swan dive.  Hubby took me to Pizza Hut for lunch, and I got to try the chicken with bbq drizzle pizza.  It was amazing.  Like 8 little pieces amazing--they weren't full sized pieces, these were about 1/3 of a regular size piece, but they add up.  The rest of the day was just as bad, with sweets and maximum carbs.  But we enjoyed ourselves and allowed a day off of the routine eating goals.  I've since climbed back on the wagon.  Today started with a very light breakfast and lunch, and a medium/light supper.  I even baked goodies for both my bio son's birthday and hubby's birthday--son's is today, hubby's is the 8th.  And then I baked a few dozen cookies for church.  I behaved.  The sweets just were not appealing.

Weight wise, I weighed in on Friday, and stayed at the exact amount I was the week before, down to the ounce.  I haven't pulled that off before.  I'm going to have to work at burning off more and cutting out more calories so there's not a plateau and possible gain.  Definitely do-able. :)

This week I've been on a kick to decorate in the kitchen.  I spend a ton of time there, and it's been just solid white.  We aren't allowed to paint it (except to touch up if we want), so it's a nice neutral pallet to add all kinds of colors to.  So, hubby and I went to the local flea market/antique shop and hunted for bargains.  I came out $24 later with a percolator coffee pot and a nice stack of linens.  2 nice table cloths, napkins with hand embroidery and tatting or crochet, a set of pillow cases with beautiful embroidery by hand and crochet edging, and a table center piece with hand embroidery, all with little to no stains.  I went ahead and added the table cloths to the work table.  The table underneath is old and worn and an eye sore.  The heavy linens made it look much nicer. :)


I also put up some deep red curtains over the tall south facing window.  Hubby had me order fabric I'd been wanting in a vintage farm advertisement print, and I'm going to make valances for the small over the sink window and the door that goes to the porch, and there should be plenty left for an apron and pot holders and maybe small appliance covers.  I really want to do lots of bright cheery colors and farm/rural theme, since we do live in a farm town in Kansas (hence the sunflower welcome sign).   I plan on doing some soft wall hangings, like panels that are quilted and hung, in farm/rural life related themes as well.  There's lots of room to put touches of color in, just got to find the right things to put in.

Well, I hope you all have a great week!  I will see you again soon!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Are We As Faithful?

The news has been buzzing about the Jordanian who was burned alive by ISIL/ISIS.  Graphic video and stills flood various media outlets, at least on the conservative media areas I've seen.

The devil's tactics have not changed.  Jews faced gas chambers and then the incinerator during the Holocaust.  The Salem Witch trials used greed and superstitious beliefs to put many men and women to death by the burning stake.  Many Protestants were put to death at the burning stake throughout the Middle Ages.  Early Christians were lit up as torches during the early persecutions shortly after Christ's death and resurrection.

Nothing has changed.  Sure, the scenery is different, the players are different, but it's still the same.  The devil works hard, with shock and awe, with fire, death, condemnation, oppression, to keep people slaves to him.  The tactics have not changed.

This time the people he is using are true believers in the Koran.  These faithful Muslims set out to follow their beliefs according to the guidelines in the Koran and the Hadiths.  They are faithful even unto death.  They are told in the Koran to kill the people of the Book (Jews and Christians).  They are told in the Koran to kill the hypocrite Muslim who will not support the jihadis.  They commit suicide and take as many as they can with them in order to go to what they believe is heaven.

In the days, weeks, months, years ahead, we will see more of the graphic videos and still photos.  The devil is hard at work in the remaining days he has left to take as many people with him to hell.  He is using those faithful to the god of the Koran, Allah, to do the horrendous work.

They are faithful to their book.  Can we say the same about us, about our faithfulness to our Lord and Savior, and to the Bible?

If we were to face someone from ISIL/ISIS, someone who has the command to kill us because we choose not to become a Muslim, would we stand up and stand strong in faith to Jesus?  Would we be as faithful to Christ as Muslims are to Allah?  Are we as faithful?

If you would like to have a copy of the Koran, as translated into English by an expert in Islam, I would highly recommend visiting Usama Dakdok's website.  Usama is an Egyptian by birth and a naturalized American.  He was raised in the public schools in Egypt and taught Islam, but was from a Christian home.  He is an evangelist, and seeks to tell as many as he can the truth about Islam.

We keep a copy of the Generous Qu'ran on our shelf.  I highly recommend getting a copy for yourself from Usama, and reading it through.  If you are not aware of many of the teachings in Islam, you will have your eyes opened.

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