Progress Report #2

It’s been three months since I decided to transform my life, and about six weeks since my last progress report. Here’s how things are shaping up.

No Alcohol at Home

Early in 2018, my husband and I chose to reduce our alcohol intake by not drinking at home. It wasn’t because of an alcohol “problem”, but to change our habits to become healthier. Few benefits come from drinking alcohol.

Whatever benefits are in beverages like wine, which we often hear about, there are more benefits in getting those same nutrients/phytochemicals etc. from the whole food (aka: grapes). Alcohol = empty calories, so since part of my health goals include losing weight, minimizing alcohol is a good thing.

Our mid-January commitment to not drink any alcohol at home was a success! Between Jan. 13 and April 1, we did not drink any wine, martinis etc. at home. We went out on the weekends to indulge, and a few times we went out during the week.

On April 2, we had our first drinks at home, a couple glasses of wine. I actually took a picture and sent it to my friend in a text, to let her know I had caved in. You know what her response was?

text

Isn’t that amazing? She saw only the positive, while I viewed the whole thing through a negative lens. I learned something that day, or rather, it confirmed something for me. Even though I consider myself a positive person, I continue to be quite hard on myself.

A goal for me is to look at myself more positively.

What’s really cool about the original alcohol challenge is that I find that I’m just not as interested in drinking alcohol as I was before. I consume less whether I am at home or out.

Healthy Food               

I continue to focus on eating healthy food. After our trip to Mexico in March, I jumped back into my regular routine. We focus on eating whole foods that are plant-based, and we cook our own food at home. I will admit, we do tend to go to restaurants on the weekend.

Do you hear that? That’s me being hard on myself again! Instead of thinking, “Way to go for cooking at home during the week!”, I somehow focused on the treats on the weekend. It takes time to change your thinking patterns, so I’ll keep working on it.

I continue to keep staples, like cooked oatmeal and brown rice, in the fridge. Canned beans and fresh vegetables and greens are always handy. We’re in the habit of keeping healthy, whole foods on hand, so this habit really helps us stay on track.

Exercise

I really haven’t kept up with my exercise goal of moving my body everyday. I walk on the treadmill in my basement occasionally, but I haven’t done that for a little while now.

I’m totally ok with that because I know it’s the food that’s my main problem. Moving my body each day is still important to me, but it’s on the back burner for a bit.

Weight Loss

My weight is the same as it was at my first progress report. I’m still down 5-6 lbs since mid-January. I know I’m doing something right because my weight is not up.

I don’t see the lack of weight loss as a negative at all. I will just continue on my journey, learning from my successes and mistakes.

Attitude

I’m feeling awesome! The arrival of spring has helped I’m sure, but it’s more than that.

I’m continuing with my goals and not giving up. When I veer off course a bit, like when I snacked on potato chips yesterday, I enjoy it and move on. Yay for me!

Just. Keep. Going.

What’s Next?

For the past week I’ve been directing my attention towards consuming food as close to 100% plant-based as possible.

I recently watched a documentary, H.O.P.E.: What You Eat Matters, which was excellent.

During the first part, it addresses the health benefits of eating plant-based. Then it moves on to look at the effects of factory farming on the environment and animals. Very eye-opening.

I’d highly recommend this documentary.  It makes the point that what we put in our mouths DOES matter to our health, to the environment and to animal welfare.

H.O.P.E.: What We Eat Matters reminded me how much I really don’t want to eat animal products. At this point in my life, I am about 90% plant-based. I’m proud of that, but have room for improvement.

Aside from focusing on eating more whole, plant-based foods, I don’t have any other changes planned. I’ll continue my journey, and I look forward to taking a break from teaching when my summer vacation arrives in late June. Until then…

Wishing you health and success on your journey,

SignatureAli

Progress Report #1

It’s been just over a month since I decided to transform my life. Let’s see how I’m doing.

No Alcohol at Home

Since mid-January of this year, my husband and I decided to not drink at home. We normally drank about 5 nights a week…that’s a lot! We would have wine usually, or an occasional martini. In our past attempts to reduce our alcohol intake, we decided not to drink from Monday to Thursday. Then Tuesday would hit, and it was usually me who would say, “Honey, let’s pick up a bottle of wine tonight”. So, that wasn’t working.

In January, I just decided we had to do something more radical. We would never achieve our health goals unless we changed our lifestyle. We put all our bottles of booze away, out of sight. We made a decision that we would drink only when we were out for dinner or at other social events. No drinking at home.

Well, guess what? We did it! We have, NOT EVEN ONCE, had any alcohol at home! I am so proud of us. We’ve learned that drinking at home really was just a habit. Only time will tell how long this new habit will last.

Healthy Food

We’ve been eating healthy food most of the time. We focus on potatoes, grains, veggies, beans and fruit. Most breakfasts are oatmeal with fruit, nuts and plant-based milk. My lunches (I am fed at work-I know…spoiled me!) are usually a green salad with veggies, hummus and or beans and a little balsamic/oil dressing, followed by some kind of soup (sometimes with cream) or pasta and tomato sauce or a veggie burger patty.  Sometimes I veer off course and overeat at lunch, or I eat something I know is not good for me (a few perogies with sour cream or a piece of non-whole grain bread with hummus or a faux peanut butter).

On the weekends, we’ve been going out to eat in restaurants…some weekends a bit too often. I’ve had pizza, salads with goat cheese, spinach/artichoke cheese dips etc. I am still not choosing meat (I am having shrimp at times), but I lean towards having dairy when we dine out. I think it’s sort of an excuse to “cheat”, but you know what? I’m OK with it. If I need to veer off course a bit on the weekends until I can sustain a healthy diet on a more long-term basis? So be it! Instead of being hard on myself, I am celebrating my successes!

Exercise

I’ve been moving my body more…yay! For the first month, I did a walk/run combination on Saturdays. Each week, I walked/ran at an indoor track. I kept a record of the laps I ran, and increased the number each week.  6 laps = 1 mile.

Week 1: 6 laps    Week 2: 15 laps    Week 3: 16 laps    Week 4: 18 laps    Week 5: 21 laps

It is so awesome to see my progress. Is it huge? No. Is it awesome…yes! For the last two weeks, I’ve also added in 1-2 treadmill walk/runs in my basement as well as some wall push-ups and planks. It is not much, but I am DOING it!

Weight Loss

I’m down about 5-6 pounds. Yay!

Attitude

I was feeling low, like I wasn’t having much success. I lost the 5 pounds in the first 2-3 weeks, and then I plateaued (probably the restaurants). I wanted the weight loss to be faster, so I didn’t think I was doing a good enough job. Then I realized how hard I was being on myself. I was looking at the negative only. I turned my thinking around and told myself…Wow! Look at the success I’ve had (see above). Look at the things I’ve stuck with. I can’t give up now! I am making progress!

My journey has taught me to keep trying and to keep checking my attitude. Remember to recognize all the awesome things you do. We can be our own worst enemy, or we can be our own best friend.

Attitude

What’s Next?

A trip to Mexico in about three weeks. Yay! Escape for ten days from winter in Canada!

To give me a little boost, I’m going to do the following for as many days as I can until we leave for Mexico.

Healthy Liquids After 5

  1. Eat breakfast, lunch and snacks through the day as I normally would.
  2. After work (I’m usually home between 5 and 6 p.m.), I will drink only water, juice (juiced at home from mainly veggies/greens with some fruit), broth or tea. If I feel ravenous, I will have only raw veggies and fruit.
  3. Weekends: Stick to the above if I feel like it.

I started my Healthy Liquids After 5 yesterday and feel great! It’s amazing how light you feel when you don’t eat dinner and/or snack in the evening. I’ll report on my progress; I’m not sure how many days I will follow this plan. I am hoping to do it for at least 10 of the next 18 days.

Note: I do not believe in quick diets to lose weight, as a general rule. I believe in eating healthy and establishing patterns that lead to long-term health. However, I see nothing wrong with doing short spurts of limiting food intake (juice fast, raw foods until 4, etc.) to give ourselves a boost. The reason I’m doing this is for a short-term solution to drop some extra pounds quickly before I put on a bikini in Mexico. I recognize that as soon as I start eating in Mexico…most of the weight will be back by the time I get home. I can live with that; I will then get back to the healthy habits I am developing and work on my long-term weight loss and health.

Wishing you health and success on your journey,

SignatureAli

Inspired to Become the REAL ME!

A week ago, on Jan. 14, I decided to become the real me. I’m really excited to let the real me blossom and to get to know her again. Nice to meet you: healthy, active and vibrant Ali!

I’ve been trying since Jan. 1, 2010 to become the person I want to be. If you look in the archives of this blog, you’ll see I’ve been on and off again at writing about my health journey since the summer of August, 2013.

Before I go on, I must tell you that starting this blog was thanks to a good friend of mine, Susan Kuz (you can find out more about her and how amazing she is at teaching/coaching people and organizations at beingpukka). She encouraged me to share my ideas about eating healthy foods, even though I didn’t think I was “good enough” to do so because I hadn’t yet achieved my own health goals. Well, I wasn’t perfect, and I realized that was ok. Thanks, Susan!

So, feel free to join me on my imperfect journey.

I’ve learned over years how each of us is on a journey to health, our own customized journey.  Even if you’re at your perfect weight and feel your health is ideal, you continue on your journey each day, month and year that passes. Health isn’t achieved, and then, “Ta da!” we check off that box on our To Do list. Being healthy today doesn’t mean you’ll be healthy tomorrow unless your journey of seeking health continues.

Ok. Back to the future real me. I have a vision of that person; it isn’t about weight and size, but more about lifestyle. By living a lifestyle I see as healthy and most beneficial for me physically and mentally, I will feel good, and as a by-product, naturally lose the extra 40-50 pounds weighing me down. I’ll have energy in my body and my mind.

I am 52 years old, and 5’ 6”. I’m not sure what my ideal weight is, but I feel confident I’ll know it when I get there based on how I feel. I look forward to the discovery.

What led to my decision to find the real me? A few things:

  • I am close to my highest weight.
  • I veered off course the last few months, eating unhealthy food on a regular basis.
  • I feel slow, unhealthy and fat.
  • My clothes are tight.
  • I feel uncomfortable in my own body.
  • I felt inspired after listening to a Rich Roll podcast where he interviewed Charlie Jabaley, who lost a whole bunch of weight and turned his life around.

I was inspired by the podcast, but it wasn’t the first time I felt determined to seek health. Each time I’m excited by a book, article, video, podcast or conversation, it kick-starts my energy, desires and motivation about things that are important to me.

Who is the Real Me?

  • Physically healthy and vibrant
  • Mentally strong and energetic
  • At an ideal/comfortable weight for my body

That’s it. Sounds like something most of us want, but at the same time, it seems impossible to achieve. Of course it’s not impossible, but it’s challenging. For many of us, life gets in the way. But that’s not really true. We allow life to get in the way.

Ok. Here’s my plan, ‘cause I’ve got to have a plan.

I need to remind myself every single day about who I want to be. About the person I want to become. I can see her:

  • She rises in the morning with energy
  • She eats food for fuel and doesn’t obsess about food
  • She eats real, whole food that is as close to its natural form as possible, most of the time
  • She eats a plant-based diet, most of the time
  • She consumes alcohol infrequently (once a week or so)
  • She exercises for joy, fitness and energy at least 3-5 times a week (walking, running and whatever else feels good)

Ok…so now I know what I want and I know what I want to be doing. What next? This is the wall that many of us run into. HOW CAN I DO THIS?

Let’s get back to that inspiration I was talking about for a minute. I’m not saying I feel a little inspiration to eat better and get healthy. I am inspired to make my own personal transformation.  

It’s beyond making changes. I’ve tried that. A complete lifestyle overhaul is in order.

Uh oh…there’s that fear creeping into the conversation. Did you feel it?

  • Fear that it will be difficult
  • Fear that I don’t really want to live without the unhealthy foods
  • Fear that I will fail again
  • Fear that I will start something but not finish it all the way through and be consistent
  • Fear that I can’t do it myself

Wait a minute. Did I just say “can’t?

I deeply believe people can accomplish anything they want.  I really do, to my core. Within reason. Can I lose 20 pounds in 5 days without cutting off some limbs? Not realistic.

So, if I believe other people can accomplish almost anything they really want, and if that is one of my core beliefs, then of course I can do it. There is no can’t. My life is up to me.

How empowering! Let me just soak that in for a minute. I CAN do it. I have the POWER to be the real me! WOW!!

Having true power also means if I don’t transform myself, it’s because I choose not to. When I’m faced with obstacles, will I choose to push forward to find the real me, or will I give in to the easy, familiar route?

The funny thing is that there are people who don’t know what to do to successfully lose weight, get healthy and live an active lifestyle. But I DO know what to do. I know exactly what to do, and it works!

So why don’t I do it, consistently? I’ve tried many times to make a change. I’ve had some successes.

I think it’s the lifestyle. My husband and I spend a lot of our free time together, and we have the same interests. Our energies are focused on “relaxing”, whether we do it at home or in a restaurant. It involves food, often wine or martinis and if we’re at home, Netflix. Well, that doesn’t sound like the healthy energy-filled lifestyle I want, does it?

My husband and I do a lot of talking. We make a lot of “we should” plans. We start and then we fall back into our familiar routine and fizzle out. We lose weight together. We gain weight together.

For true success, I need to decide what I want. I need to want it so bad that even when I’m stressed, or angry or feeling low or when temptations and influences pop up, I still commit to finding the real me.

Like I said, I’ve had successes before. I lost 14 lbs in two weeks eating real plants without any added crap (sugar, oil, processed food, animal products). With no exercise! I didn’t starve myself either. I was eating mashed potatoes almost every day with a yummy plant-based, very low-fat mushroom gravy. The food tasted great! It really worked while I was committed.

In 2017 I was consistently plant-based for 7.5 months. I was very proud of myself during those months, and I thought I had it mastered.

In the summer of 2017 my husband and I did a 15-day water fast. It was difficult, but I learned a lot about my body and about what I want in life. Sure, I dropped over 20 lbs, but that’s not a realistic weight loss. My body cleaned out a lot of crap, but I didn’t continue afterwards with a healthy diet. I went back to my old ways when I allowed stress to be my master.

A couple of years ago, I ate only raw foods for four weeks. I felt terrific, and I think doing such a cleanse can really help you clean out. It can also be a good kick-start to weight loss, but it’s not sustainable.

I’ve had other successes too; they just didn’t stick.  Eventually, I fell back into my old ways because I didn’t fully commit to transforming myself. I was still hanging on to the lifestyle.

I KNOW WHAT to do. I KNOW I can do it.

It’s been a week since I started my personal transformation.

I’m doing well so far! Down a few pounds and I feel terrific. I am sleeping better and already have more energy each day. I feel happier too. Happier because I feel good and because I’m excited about the future.

I FEEL GREAT and can’t wait to see how things turn out.

Wish me luck on my journey, and of course, I wish you health and success on your own journey.

SignatureAli