Claim Your New Normal: It’s Yours for the Taking

Chuck made an appointment for me to go in for my A1c today. I didn’t want to go. You know how it is when you’ve neglected your exercise and eaten too many off-plan foods. Not only had I been avoiding the scale, but I’m also not looking forward to the lab results coming back.

Haley, my nurse practitioner, looked over my labs from the past four or five years and saw no A1c numbers above 6.5. “You’re not a diabetic!” she said. “To be considered a diabetic, your A1c has to be above 6.5. Has it ever been that high?”

I told her I didn’t think so, but, now that I think about it, I can’t remember. I was first diagnosed about ten years ago, I think. I know that it was never above a seven, but my exact A1c at the time I was diagnosed escapes me now. I am old, you know: I can’t hang onto those stats forever. My husband has a mind for numbers. I do not.

As I suspected, I have gained a little weight over the last couple of months. Eleven pounds up from my last visit, to be exact. When I told my daughter she cheerily responded, “That’s better than twenty pounds . . .” After a pause she added, “. . . but worse than five pounds.” She’s a funny girl. Sometimes she’s a downright riot.

This is what comes from not doing my treadmill and–who am I kidding?–from eating too many off-plan foods. I can’t pretend it has only been because of my treadmill, but I will say that slacking off on my exercise is probably a big part of it. Chelsea reminded me that I was doing a lot more walking outside, too, before the weather turned. Physical and psychological changes, I’m sure, have both played a part in my weight gain.

Haley confesses that she has gained a little, too, but she is convinced that both she and I will get back on track very soon, now that the holidays are behind us. I hope she is right.

I had a fleeting wish before Christmas that I could just follow around a normal person all day for just one day and eat whatever they ate. I wanted to see what “normal” looked like.

That kind of thinking is not conducive to a healthy mindset. What am I, a freak of nature? No, I am not a freak of nature. I am normal. I am normal. I am normal. If I repeat it enough maybe it will eventually sink in.

One of my friends had this on her Facebook status today: “HAPPY NEW YEAR: It’s going to be the kind of year you decide to make it.”

That sentiment resonated with me. I appreciated it tremendously. (Thank you, Becky!) See, we can be the “normal” we want to be. We can say “I’m not really one to exercise much,” or we can become one who exercises! Exercising can be our new “normal.” In fact, we can be like Elf, and exercising can be our new “favorite”!

Over the course of the last year and a half I have discovered that I don’t need white potatoes, bread (and rolls and buns), rice, milk and bananas to live. I can get by just fine without any of those things. I have also discovered that once in a while a few french fries will not kill me. Interestingly enough, I don’t think they’re as good as they used to be. Are they really worth going off plan? The longer I’m on plan probably the more resounding my “no” will be.

The new year is knocking at my door, and I’m optimistic about it. I’m seeking my new normal, something I can latch onto and truly make my own, something tangible and not just the smoke and vapors that dreams are made of. It’s my hope that you find yours, too. Cheers to 2016 and all the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.

In the words from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella: I can be whatever I want to be.

“On the wing of my fancy I can fly anywhere, and the world will open its arms to me.”

Nothing Is Really Wrong

Chelsea bought Cameron a shirt for Christmas that reads “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to be here.” As I contemplated what I would give as an excuse for my literary absence, oddly, that is the second thing that came to my mind. The first was “I’m here because my husband asked why I haven’t been writing my blog lately.”

After I begged him to let me start a blog, it isn’t fair to him that I just forget about it. Okay, “forget about it” may not be the phrase I was looking for because I remember it every day. In fact, as everything else does, it kind of hangs over my head every day. “Ignore” may be more the word.

I’ve not been in the mood to write. Actually I’ve not been much in the mood to do anything. Anything. I’m lucky to have gotten out of bed this morning.

No, I’m not sick. I would like to say I’m not depressed, either, but what else could it be? It’s purely clinical, I promise you, because my life is certainly nothing I can complain about. I love my family, my home, my job, and, as my son always used to say, even if I die I’ll go to heaven. In light of a secure eternity and having Jesus as my Savior, what could I possibly have wrong in my life to be so down-in-the-mouth? Short and simple answer: nothing. That’s what’s so maddening. Nothing is wrong. It’s hard to fix what I can’t put my finger on.

Chelsea’s wound is getting better and better all the time, and she hasn’t been in the hospital since August. That’s something to be h̶a̶p̶p̶y̶ thrilled about.

My kids and husband are still alive. That’s also something for which to be extremely grateful. If I sat down and listed all the blessings in my life I could fill up pages and pages and pages–front and back.

Since I hurt my knee I have kind of lagged behind on my treadmill routine. My knee is much, much, much better now, but, you know what they say, if you get out of a routine it’s hard to get back in it. To my credit, I have done my mile two days in a row now, with hills thrown in, and maybe if I would keep up with my treadmill and do better with my eating plan I could perk up a bit. At least that’s my hope.

As I lay in bed this morning (trying to conjure up a reason to get out of bed), my thoughts turned to breakfast. That’s what finally got me out of bed: the thought that if I didn’t finish breakfast before 9:30 I couldn’t eat lunch until 12:30. It was already close to 9:00, so the oatmeal I had soaking in the fridge was not an option. Instead I chose a chocolate peanut butter shake and Ezekiel toast. The baked oatmeal would have to wait until lunch since it takes forty-five minutes to bake.

As I’ve already told you, I have several books started that I need to finish. I also have a sweater to finish crocheting. I had it almost completely finished and then realized I had flubbed the pattern severely and had to rip out my work almost down to row six or seven on both sleeves. I didn’t cry or anything when I discovered my mistake, but all that work down the drain was a pretty hard pill to swallow, especially when I had gotten my hopes up that I would have the sweater finished by Christmas.

I found The Plan at Target while we were Christmas shopping one day and bought it, hoping that revisiting the principles would get me back on the wagon, but, as with all my other books and projects, it’s been difficult to regain my interest. I read a couple of chapters in the car one day, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.

Christmas was quiet with just us four, but nice. Most of my meal was off-plan, but these were foods I always had while growing up and all us siblings still fix the foods Mom and Dad used to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when we were young. I talked to my brother on Christmas, and he said they even have all the pies, too. Not me. On a whim Chuck and I picked up a turtle pie that was on sale while we were picking up groceries at Piggly Wiggly one day, and we almost didn’t even get that one. Chuck has made great strides in his support for my new lifestyle. He’s always right there to say “We don’t need it” whenever any kind of mention of dessert is made.

At least I can say that I didn’t make seven or eight pies, bread pudding, cheesecake, rice pudding and three different kinds of Jell-O salad. My parents really went overboard with the dessert table on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It’s really no wonder most of us have or will have diabetes.

I have to share a few of the gifts I got. My daughter ordered me a plush fleece blanket made up of photos she scavenged off my Facebook. It was such a thoughtful surprise I cried when I opened it. There was a picture of my mom and dad on it, along with another photo of my dad and one of Chuck’s mom, taken just a couple of months before she passed away.  She even put one of my Trim Healthy Mama before-and-after photos on it, too.

Photo blanket

Chelsea also bought me a lighted and musical Victorian Village Thomas Kincaid snow globe since I have such a fascination with them. When I watch Christmas movies every holiday season I always keep an eye out for snow globe sightings. I don’t know why, but they have kind of a magical quality about them.

Cameron gave me floating Christmas charms to go in my Origami Owl locket. They insisted I open that one a week before Christmas so that I could wear it up until Christmas.

Chuck got me a leather laptop case. It hasn’t arrived, yet, but the lady sent me a photo of it. It’s a work of art. Notice that it even has my initials embroidered on the lower right-hand corner.

laptop cover

I also got some gift cards to my favorite clothing stores. I’ve already been shopping two days since Christmas, and I’ve already spent them!

A couple of days ago Chuck asked me to please go through my closets and toss out all those clothes that are now too big for me. I got three big trash bags full of clothes to donate. I feel good about having that chapter of my life behind me. I’m ready to let that stuff go. I’m ready to embrace the new me.

Part of me wonders if part of my depression comes from having a new life now and the stress of not knowing how long I can hang onto it or the fear of not being able to. Then there was the whole knee problem and losing my treadmill routine. Then there was the whole tooth problem and having to stop eating apples because it was just too painful. I know, I know, excuses. All excuses. Weak, feeble excuses.

But, at my husband’s request, I felt I needed to check in to let you know that I’m alive and well. Relatively speaking. Physically speaking. Can you imagine what kind of state I would be in if everything in my life weren’t all peaches and cream? I’d be a real mess then!

Let’s lift our proverbial glasses in the air to toast more exercise to get those serotonin levels up.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with friends and family. Love and hugs from me, along with best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Where Are You Christmas?

Christmas is closing in on us, and the only decorating I’ve done (and it wasn’t even me: it was Chuck who took the sheet off of it in the garage and hauled it inside and put it up on the table in front of our bay window) was put up our tree. My help was minimal. My part in the event was steadying it while he tightened the clamps around the base. It didn’t even need to be decorated because we have left all the ornaments on it for the last three years.

I did hang one decoration this year. Anyway, it looks like a decoration, but Chelsea said it’s actually the gift tag that came on Cameron’s present from work. I tied one of the sheer silver ribbons dangling from it into a bow and tied the other ribbon into a knot and hung it on the tree. It’s a glittery white snowflake against a round, pale blue backdrop. Gift tag or not, it still looks nice on the tree.

I feel guilty about not decorating because what if something happens to one of us this coming year and this is our last Christmas together? Chuck tells me I can’t think that way, but it’s always possible. If life teaches us anything at all, it’s about how fragile and uncertain it is. (We’ve lost at least three people this year that we never would have expected to lose: not close friends or family members, but we felt the shock and loss nonetheless.) Then I’ll look back on this Christmas and see how I failed miserably in making it the very best it could have been.

Some nights when I’m watching Christmas movies and missing my dad, I feel an urge to drag up a tub of decorations and do the shelves of my built-in bookcase or hang lights and snowflakes in the double door between the dining room and living room, but the feeling passes as I then turn my thoughts toward the days following Christmas when everything will have to go back in its tub and back into the basement.

I was thinking the other day, as I was driving my route, about how short Christmas is. Most of my life Christmas has felt like a dream. When I was a child–and then when I was the parent of young children–my excitement was so great that I got very little sleep the night before. All the hype, all the pursuing of the perfect Christmas always left me feeling a little let down in the end. Twenty-four hours just isn’t enough Christmas for me, not for all the preparations that have to be done.

One year we had Christmas Eve at Chuck’s mom and dad’s, Christmas at our house with just our kids, and December 26 at my family’s get-together. That was probably my favorite year because we got to stretch Christmas out over a few days and it didn’t zoom by in such a foggy blur.

As hard as we try, I’m not sure any of us will ever achieve the perfect Christmas of our dreams. Even when we get every item on our children’s wish lists and put together a scrumptious dinner with creamy mashed potatoes with no lumps and managing to get the rolls out of the oven before they burn, I think Christmas falls short of our expectations because we just can’t make it last. In the words of Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” twenty-four hours (less than that because part of it is spent sleeping) is not enough time to cram in a couple of months’ worth of anticipation of the perfect Christmas–and then it’s over.

I think maybe I’m looking at the whole thing wrong. Christmas is more than a day. It’s a season, a spirit, a mindset. December 4 is Christmas when you’re roaming through stores, trying to find that perfect gift. One o’clock in the morning on December 22nd is Christmas when you’re trying to finish crocheting that special sweater for someone you love. December 17th is Christmas as you drive along the highways and bi-ways, enjoying the sparkling lights and listening to Holiday Traditions on Sirius Radio. December 13th is Christmas when you select a couple of names off the Angel Tree at Walmart to buy toys for underprivileged children. December 24 is Christmas as you drop a dollar into the big red kettle outside a shopping center.

Whatever you do to promote peace on earth and good will toward men is Christmas.

Baking cookies and wrapping presents and cleaning house and being thankful that God sent His Son to pay for your sins–these are Christmas.

Every single night you watch a Christmas program and think about your dad or meander down the Christmas decorations aisle and miss your mom–these are Christmas.

When you’re mourning the empty places left at the table and the family bonds that have been broken due to parents passing away, it’s hard to find Christmas sometimes. You mourn Christmas past.

I can even understand feeling guilty enjoying Christmas in the absence of a loved one or in light of a horrible tragedy that has befallen another family in your community. These are hard things. For the sake of your loved ones, though, and for the sake of your own warm, beating heart, I urge you to push through and find joy in the season.

Finding time to bless others will take away from the misery of focusing inward. It’s not a lesson easily learned, but it is a timeless truth.

Luke 2:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I “Busted My Phone” All to Heck

Today I broke my phone. I mean, I smashed it to smithereens. Metaphorically speaking, I dropped my phone on the ground and proceeded to stomp on it until it was barely recognizable.

Now you know how my eating plan has gone today. It started off with no apples in the house for my pre-breakfast snack. Then it ended with the thought “Well, you could grab a handful of those Pearson’s chocolate mints you bought at Costco on Saturday.”

Oh, the tricks we play on ourselves and the lies we tell ourselves on a daily basis. I knew my husband was getting some dark-chocolate-covered almonds in Costco the other night while I was getting broccoli and Fage Greek yogurt–so I thought, “What’s good for the gander is good for the goose” (I know that’s not the way that goes). So I took a detour down the candy aisle, as well. I saw the dark-chocolate-covered almonds, but then my eyes lit on some dark-chocolate-covered coconut squares. My face brightened up like a small child’s on Christmas morning.

(This may be a good place for me to interject: Never go to the store before you’ve had dinner. Never ever. That, my friends, is know as sabotage. That is known as setting yourself up for failure.)

As I proceeded to the end of the aisle my eyes landed on a huge bag of Pearson’s dark-chocolate-covered peppermint mints. “Oh, there’s a lot in there for only $10.99,” I said to myself. I thought back to the York Peppermint Patties that Chelsea had bought for half-price after Halloween. These were actually a better buy.  Who CARES? [insert my husband’s sage advice here]: If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain at any price!” I wasn’t listening to my husband here, though. I was listening to the hungry mama who, not only missed her afternoon snack, but was well over the three hours since her last meal. I wanted something in my mouth. Pronto.

I ended up marching the coconut candy right back into the store. We hadn’t even pulled out of our parking stall before I popped a couple into my mouth, “Ptooey!” They were inedible. Unchewable. They were like rubber pencil erasers. I couldn’t even detect any flavor, just chewy rubber. I returned them to the service desk and got my money back. Secretly I thanked God for having my back on that one and for causing something to happen so that I would not consume that entire bag of candy in what could have been just a few hours’ time. (I do love my coconut.)

Fast forward three days. That huge bag of Pearson’s peppermint patties has dwindled significantly. As a matter of fact, I have eaten myself into somewhat of a sugar headache today. I need several more minutes on the treadmill to make myself pay.

I had a normal breakfast of plan-approved pumpkin pie for one. I had a semi plan-approved lunch, too, of ham, steamed broccoli and coleHoliday Diet FAIL slaw (not really plan-approved dressing, but nothing I would beat myself up over). My afternoon snack of a chocolate peanut butter shake and cashews was also a wise choice. But it’s all the peppermint patties in between that threw me completely off-course, shipwrecked me and “completely and utterly demolished my phone.”

As I promised, I am sharing what I’m learning from Dr. Phil’s book.  His twenty key foods for a successful diet are:

Foods with Potential Thermogenic Properties:
Coconut oil
Green tea
Mustard (yellow or Dijon)
Olive oil
Walnuts

Foods that Stick to Your Ribs
Almonds
Apples
Chickpeas
Dried plums (prunes)
Greens (any kind of leafy greens)
Lentils
Peanut butter (natural, no-sugar)
Pistachios (roasted, unsalted, in the shell)
Raisins
Yogurt (nonfat)
Eggs
Cod
Rye
Tofu
Whey protein

Okay, are we seeing any discrepancies between Dr. Phil’s plan and Trim Healthy Mama’s plan (besides the four-hour vs. three-hour meal plan)?

Dr. Phil’s yea list:                           Trim Healthy Mama’s nay list:
Prunes                                              Prunes
Raisins                                              Raisins
Rye bread                                         Rye bread

How about the similarities?

Whey protein
Natural peanut butter
all the veggies
Coconut oil
Olive oil
Eggs

The eating every four hours is a stumbling block for me, and I think I’ll stick to eating every three hours (unless at some point I get desperate and have to try another avenue). Dr. Phil says if you eat sooner than every four hours you’re programming yourself to get hungrier sooner. He says feeding your body a lot is making it more likely to be in a constant state of hunger, not to mention that you’re giving yourself more opportunities to overeat.

Let me reiterate that I think Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet is worth the buy–or, at the very least, the read (check your local library). I’m enjoying it immensely and learning quite a lot in the process.

Before I end, I would like to thank you ladies again for ordering through my Trim Healthy Mama affiliate link! I know they had a Cyber Monday sale, and I was happy you were able to take advantage of that! I ordered a couple of things myself!  Remember that you may always find my affiliate link in the sidebar menu of my blog (https://store.trimhealthymama.com/#_l_df) And you may find my Piping Rock whey protein (and other products) also on the sidebar of my blog (http://www.pipingrock.com/?rwcode=AAAZPJ) .

I hope your Tuesday has panned out better than mine! My dinner will be an on-plan sirloin burger with sauteed onions and mushrooms over lettuce and tomatoes (and what do you think, Dr. Phil, maybe some mustard?).