Stay Organized and Get it All Done!

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This blog post corresponds with my YouTube channel, Embellish Life. If you subscribe to my Embellish Life Channel you will be notified by email when new videos come up. I post a new video every week. I always have a signature cocktail, wine or beverage on each of my videos and will post the recipe (if needed) here on my blog.

This weeks video is about staying organized and getting everything done in our busy lives. I know if I don’t utilize my tip (have to watch the video if you want to know what it is), I find myself feeling anxious and completely scatter brained. As soon as I put my tip into play I get an immediate sense of relaxation, accomplishment and inspiration that I will be able to handle anything that is thrown at me. Check out the video and see if my tip can help you too.

The cocktail for this week was Stone Fruit & Ginger White Sangria I found it in the Clean Eating Magazine, July/August 2014. See the recipe below:

Stone Fruit & Ginger White Sangria

Juice of 2 navel oranges (or any fresh orange juice about 1/2 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon
24 sweet cherries (frozen is fine)
1 peach, pitted and slice
1 red plum, pitted and sliced
1 4″ piece of ginger pealed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup white wine
3 cups (about a can) of ginger-ale (I use diet)
2 cups sparkling water

1. In a large pitcher, combine orange juice, lemon juice, cherries, peach, plum, ginger and wine siring gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; overnight is better, lets the fruit infuse.

2. To serve, add ginger-ale and sparkling water and pour over ice.

Serving size is 1 1/4 cups calories is 110 but a lot less if you use diet ginger-ale.

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Weight Gain is all in my Head

I just saw something on the Today Show about calories and eating for Thanksgiving dinner. They were saying that on average a huge Thanksgiving dinner with wine and pre-snacking can be over 3000 calories. That seems catastrophic for someone trying to lose weight or even someone trying to maintain a healthy routine. The piece went on to say, with a glimmer of hope, that to gain a pound of weight in a day you have to eat an additional 3000 calories above the average 2000 calories that the average person needs to just function in a day. So the math for that is, on average, a person would have to eat about 5000 calories, more or less, to gain a pound in a day. This got me thinking…

I have seen myself throughout the years, even when I was extremely thin, get on a scale and gain 3 to 5 lbs in a day??? OMG, what does that mean??? No way I had eaten that much, right! No, it is water weight and you know they always say, weight yourself in the morning, don’t weight yourself multiple times in the day, weigh yourself once a week, weigh yourself the same time in the day, and the one I just love, don’t weigh yourself at all (like that’s going to happen) 😉 … Well, the mass fluctuation could be a good argument for why not to weight yourself or at least not to rely on it so much 😉 But alas, we all do, or at least those of us of a certain age, that have come to use the scale as a certain marker/gauge on how well or not so well, as the case may be, we are doing on our body image goals.

So, what was I thinking? Well, that’s just it, thinking… OK, if the Today Show is accurate and I am going to assume for the moment it is somewhat accurate; most of us are not eating 5000 calories a day to put on an extra pound a day. I am also guessing that most of us are not gaining that fast, but I bet some of you, like myself, do find after a week or so might put on 3 to 5 lbs quite easily and taking the same 3 to 5 off is not as easy. This is leading me to believe that the whole weight loss thing might have a lot more to do about “Thinking” than eating. OK, before everyone gets all excited and starts stuffing their faces and burning their workout clothes, I’m not saying that overdoing anything will aide in any kind of positive kind of lifestyle. Over eating, drinking, even exercising can be harmful; everything in moderation done with health and well being as the motivation is always the best guide to follow. What I was thinking is that the whole stress of what we are doing or not doing might be a bigger contributor to our weight gain than anyone (professionals and laymen alike) give it credit for. I know a lot of doctors and weight loss professionals talk about cortisol and the whole midsection getting thicker due to stress. How that increases as you get older and it is hard to control. I know due to some medical issues I had some test that most people never get for cortisol and I have an extra protein (or something) in my blood that attract that hormone and I can have an extremely high amount of cortisol in my blood, lucky me, so I have to really be extra conscious about stress in my life or can suffer many of the nasty side effects of high levels of cortisol, including midsection weight gain for no good reason; super fun 😉

With knowledge comes insight and in some cases freedom. I have started to think maybe over the past 8 years while I have struggled with a lot of my medical issues the one thing that has never been answered and for the most part passed over is the unexplained weight gain. In total I gained about 60 pounds and over time I’ve lost about 25 of it, realized that I was probably 10 pounds underweight and still have about 20ish more to go. Since I know I don’t over eat, I exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle; not being able to get to my target 140/135lbs has been really frustrating. I may be fighting a bit of an uphill battle due to my cortisol issue and need to keep a bit of a better watch on a “stress-free” environment, LOL… I’ll work on that 😉 Even with that, I think I should be able to get a better grip on the weight; which leads me back to my original premise… What was I thinking…

We as women think too much!!! STOP THINKING!!! 😉

Because think about it, for this one last time:

Thinking = worry = stress = cortisol + hormones = (potential weight gain) = sad/worry/thinking = stress…

Do you see the cycle continuing over and over?

What if a lot of our weigh issues are due to worrying about our weight issues??? How ironic would that be? Boy would that throw the weight loss industry into a tizzy! That’s totally not to say eating well and exercise is not important, it is! I will always do that because it is good for my body, heart, longevity, and tone. It is a personal choice because I enjoy the sports I chose not because I need to lose 20 pounds. I eat well because I don’t want to feel like a garbage can and now and again I will eat junk because it is fun and then I will let it go, breath, drink a bunch of water, walk around the block and just get over myself!!! 🙂 This is my new promise; I am going to stop thinking/stressing about my body image. I know where I need to be to be healthy. Now I will stop thinking about it. I will stop thinking about every step I take or don’t take, I will not worry about everything that goes into my mouth, if I have worked hard enough during the day, drank enough water (although important, I’m not stressing over it), and for once in a very long time I will just enjoy life for me. Let’s see how that works… Keep you posted 🙂

P.S.
It must be noted I already eat well (1500 to 1800 cal. Veggie heavy gluten free (medically necessary) and exercise 3 to 5 days a week for at least an hour. I do indulge in red wine in the evening and on occasion dark chocolate (not a lot because it is oddly not my favorite) Cheese is my vice and salty foods I probably eat too much of those. I love fruity chewy candy so those I try to keep out of the house so I don’t go crazy… I only post this so that no one gets the wrong idea that I am eating fast food and chocolate cake and now supporting the idea that weight gain is all in our heads and that if we don’t think about it/worry about it and keep on going the way we always have we will lose weight. NO! I’m speaking to those people that have good habits or relatively good habits that are trying hard and just don’t see any results or are not seeing the results they want no matter how hard they try. And the only answers they get from professionals is, “try harder!”, “You must be doing something wrong.” “What are you eating?”… I am speaking to myself; because this is the answers I got for over 8 years from scores of doctors after they were stumped as to why with as little as I ate and as much as I worked out and as closely as I followed their instructions I didn’t see any results… So, do I think eating fast food, sitting on the sofa and watching TV all day but adding “not thinking/worrying” about it will help someone lose weight is the right path. NO…

Oh, and just in case this is not obvious, I am not a medical professional, what I write is my personal opinion. Anything a person chooses to do for them self they should check with their personal physician first.

Lifestyle Change for Fall 2014

I am going to share another lifestyle challenge with you… For whatever reason, since I moved to Florida, I have gained weight, about 6lbs 🙁 A Rachael Ray Show was on the other day and she was talking about weight loss and her guest was one of the coaches from Biggest Looser; the static he had was weight loss is 80% diet (what you eat not being on a “diet”) and 20% exercise… Intellectually, I knew this was probably pretty accurate… I didn’t want admit it but even though I work out a bit more than most women my age, my eating habits are not the best 🙁 My biggest issues are I eat too much sugar, don’t drink enough water, and wait till too late in the day to start eating and most likely over eat…
So, here is my challenge to myself, I’m making it public to keep me honest:
        1. I am going to drink more water.
        2. Reduce my processed sugar intake.
        3. Nibble throughout the day so I’m not super hungry at night.
Baby steps, my first step will be to drink 3 16oz bottles of water, eat something before 11am, and don’t buy any candy when I go to the store. I am going to increase the intensity of the steps every week for a month and see if I can lose these 6lbs or even more… 10 would be great!
I will share with you all my successes and be honest about what I fell short on. Since I am fairly active I will share what I do each day; this will give me an accurate record of what is really going on daily, weekly and eventually monthly.
Anyone want to join me?? You can post it here or just keep your own record privately.

My Weightloss Saga

flowerIn 2012 I posted about my Challenge to myself to get back to my “fighting weight”.  My goal was to feel like myself again and bottom line to be more healthy, i.e. blood pressure down, cholesterol lower and weight down to take off pressure on my bad knees…  This is my weight loss saga, how I got there and now how I am slowing getting back to where I want to be.

So, what helped me and what did I do?  Well yes, eating right and I did find out that I had IBS and needed to go gluten-free, didn’t lose weight just felt better. Watching my calories did take off a few pounds, I am personally good at 1500 a day.  I love the apps on your phone that help you tract your calories and your activities.  I like My Fitness Pal.  I found that really helped.  I also have had some notable success with the Green Coffee Been Extract that Doctor Oz talked about on his TV show.  Here is the link to that segment and all the information on the amount of extract you should have in the supplement you take, Dr Oz, Green Coffee Bean.  Dr. Oz does not recommend any one brand but does recommend doses and lists those on his official site.  He also warns not to believe any site that says he is recommending their product because he doesn’t endorse any product.  I found a Green Coffee Bean Extract supplement at my local compounding pharmacy that also has 5-HTP and Glucomannan two supplements that I was already taking that are good for energy, joints and mood.  I choose that brand because it had the doses that Dr. Oz recommended and it also had the additional products I was already taking so that allowed me to take 2 less pills.

The results I gained from taking the supplement was a loss of about 5 pounds initially.  I have subsequently loss 20 pounds but it has not been only due to the green coffee bean so I don’t want anyone to have false hope that you could lose 20 pounds from it.  I don’t know maybe you could, if you combined exercise and a smart diet with it.  I suffer from Migraines and my neurologist switched my medicine to Topamax which is one of the components in the new weight loss drugs, Qsymia, that the FDA just approved that should be available in early 2013.  It is my guess that since weight loss is a side effect of Topamax that when I switch my migraine medication to Topamax and I saw my weight loss jump start to the fast tract, it was the Topamax that facilitated that.  That is not to take away from the first 5 pounds I lost with the Green Coffee Bean Extract, before I made the medication switch, I just want to be accurate on when and how I lost my weight.

I also want to add, I have not ever tried Qsymia, I am taking migraine medication that has one of the components of Qsymia (Topamax) and it has weight loss as a side effect. I am sure this is one of the reasons that they are using Topamax in Qsymia.  I also want to mention that it does work really well for about 15 to 20% of your body weight loss and for me that was about 20 pounds.  Now I have slowed down in my rapid weight loss with no exercise and little diet.  If I want to continue to lose weight I am going to have to do what everyone else has to do; I will have to eat a well-balanced diet and keep active.  The one nice thing about both the Green Coffee Extract and what I have experienced with Topamax, and can then assume the same will hold true with Qsymia, is that for those of us that seem to be struggling with stubborn weight loss this kick starts that and really motivates you to keep going.  Well, the Green Coffee Been seems to help lessen the effort needed to see results. It also really helps with appetite suppression. I also get an even bigger result from my healthy eating and increased activity now that I am taking Topamax; so again, I would imagine that if you are a candidate to take Qsymia you would also find it helpful.

I don’t think any diet medication or supplement is a “magic cure” for weight loss.  I think that the only true fix for being overweight is lifestyle change.  I think finding an eating/exercise and size that works for you is probably one of if not the most personal plan anyone can ever have.  What keeps your body at its ideal weight, your mind at its happy place, your organs at their health state, and your physique at its best shape is different for every person.  It always dumbfounds me why doctors just don’t seem to get that and always want to lump us into averages and groups like little sheep.  I get there has to be a “general norm” for a starting point; but if you are not working and you still fall into the “norm” then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that is clearly not your “norm” and something is wrong!  But more times than not, it seems to me, doctors are clearly far below the genius level, because they don’t get it, and they pat you on the head, send you on your way, and tell you that you are just find…   Then 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 hours later you are rushed to the ER with a catastrophic issue stemming from that same concern you had and they come in with a big dumb look on their face and an apologetic “Ooops”.

OK, I digress, you can tell I have issues with doctors that run a lot deeper than them passing my rapid 60 pound weight gain as an unfortunate side effect of my medical issues that they couldn’t seem to reverse and since I “looked OK” in their minds they didn’t care to figure it out.  Even after high blood pressure, serious knee issues, starting of heart disease (family history), and all my other medical issues that brought on the weight gain, none of them thought to focus on helping me loose except to say eat less and exercise.  I was eating 900 calories a day and working out 6 days a week for 2 to 3 hours a day and still not losing and they still didn’t think anything was wrong???  I was 42 when it started and 47 when it started to change back.  The entire time I told every last doctor I had I thought it was chemical, my hormones.  They said I was nowhere near Menopause that I was too regular and I guess structurally very fertile but if you ask me, I still, to this day, think I was out of whack metabolically.  All my life I had been very slender, around 120 pounds and just under 5’ 8” tall; my entire family is slender.  In a very short period of time, about 6 months, with no lifestyle change, I gained 60 pounds.  Even after they put me on thyroid medication I never lost a pound.  Then as suddenly as it came on, about midway into my 47th year I started to lose, with the help of the Green Coffee Bean Extract and Topamax, I also started to feel like myself again.  Can’t really explain it other than; I was back, more alert, more energy, more alive, if that makes sense?

I still have 20 to 30 pounds to lose.  I am really going more by the way I feel and how I fit in my clothes more than my weight because that seems to have redistributed now that I am older.  I weigh more but I still fit into the size I want to and look the way I want to so I really am not going to get hung up on “how much I weigh” and focus more on how I feel and how I look.  If my muscle mass is good, blood pressure is low and I am fit I really don’t care if I weigh 140 pounds instead of my normal 123 pounds of the first 42 years of my life.  It’s just a number, right!  Just like your age it is all about how you feel and how you act.  If I look awesome at 48 and weigh 140 pounds then I will celebrate that and be happy that I am healthy and doing all the right things to keep myself that way.  So, that is my story; not the worst weight loss story in the world but it sure was a long one and it is mine.

2013 New Years Promises

ChristmasHeadShot2012I have been considering how I want to handle 2013 and traditional New Year’s Resolution.  I have been thinking that this year I don’t want to make goals, resolutions, challenges or “to do’s”; this year I am going to make myself Promises.  I am still going to make a list, because I love my lists 🙂  Lists help me keep on task with everything I do.  I am going to make sure each promise I make is achievable and yet challenges me because I really want to grow beyond my comfort zone this year.

 

I am feeling physically better than I have in quite a few years and I think I can afford to reach a bit and not necessary worry about my health as much as I have had to the past, almost 8 years… Hard to believe it has been that long but… Time flies when you’re having fun 😉  I am also going to make promises to myself that focus on my personal growth and the growth of my family.  As much as I love helping and supporting others I think for the past, I’m not sure but close to 18 years, I have devoted a lot of time and energy focused outward on others.  Don’t get me wrong, I love helping others and a lot of that help has crossed over to helping family too, but very little of it truly focused on any of my dreams or ambitions.  Many times I would start going in a personal direction than in one way or another I would become side tracked and start to help someone or some group achieve their goals or dreams and “BAM” a year was gone.  Not complaining, just making a realization into my way of avoiding my dreams; it is way easier to help others achieve their dreams than focus on your own 😉

 

2013 is my year to make a promise to myself to not put myself on the back burner, not make excuses that I am “doing for others”.  As noble as that sounds it is still “my” excuse not to try.  I know I will keep on giving of my time because that is just who I am and it truly makes me happy.  I promise that I will learn to keep my tasks first and fill in with the others as time permits and not the other way around.  This will not be easy for me but I think it is an important promise to make to myself and my family and a really good lesson to learn, for me 🙂  So, without further ado here is my 2013 list of Promises:

 

I Promise To:

  1. Focus on family and my personal goals first before I add additional tasks.
  2. Write and post on a more regular basis.
  3. Research Event and Experience.
  4. Get all business paperwork done and in order.
  5. Continue to eat well and try new recipes.
  6. Exercise at least 3 days a week and be active every chance I get.
  7. Continue to lose weight and lose another 20lbs, the right way.
  8. Remove all medical concerns so that my health will no longer be a restriction on my life.
  9. Finish all necessary house projects so that our home is ready to sell by June if we want to.
  10. Help my son get ready for his senior year so that he has all his options available.

 

Well, this is my list of promises to me and I am going to do all that I can do to keep these promises.  I also hope that by making my promises public I will motivate others to make a commitment to push beyond their comfort zone and change things in their lives that they have always wanted to.  If you want to join me in making promises to yourself and want to have an online support system post your promises here and we can help each other stick with our promises.  I know that it is easier to achieve when you have support from others and it is harder to quit when you make your intentions public.  So, what do you have to lose?  Let me know what you would like to promise yourself and I will have your back and you can have mine 🙂

Workout Challenge 2012

 

Any time you are setting out to change or add a behavior I find it helpful to establish the goal(s) of the behavior and the motivation for the change.  With that in mind, I am going to start off the 2012 Weight Loss/Workout Challenge by stating my goals and motivation for wanting to make the change and add the behavior of working out regularly.

In my early 40’s my health started to decrease and unfortunately for me, my weight started to increase.  Much of my increase was due to my health issues but even after I got better my weight seemed hell-bent on hanging on.  It didn’t seem to matter what I did, how much I worked out, or didn’t eat the weight just sat there un-yielding to my efforts.  For a bit of perspective; before my weight gain I was about 120 lbs. and just under 5’ 8” and after my weight gain and presently I weigh 180 lbs. and at my heaviest I weighed 185 just before my gall bladder surgery and my sickest.

That is how I got to this point, and this is what I plan to do about it; and I hope some of you will join me on this mission.  I personally feel that anything worth doing takes some work (OK, we all know that) but is so much more rewarding if you can take others along for the ride.  My goals and motivations for the 2012 Challenge are to become a healthy weight (I now realize that my past weight, although natural, was very thin for my stature), I would like to be 135 to 140 lbs.  I would also like to gain some more muscle tone and continue on my road to better health by lowering my blood pressure that has become troublesome, mainly due to my increased weight.  Also, I have some knee issues from past injuries when I was young and I know the excess weight is not helping them either…  So, I have a lot of sound medical reasons for the need to lose weight but I think the biggest motivators for me is that all of my life I have had an image of who I was and what I looked like before my 60 pound gain and a part of me feels very lost.  I know that may seem very vein and many may say you don’t look that bad, stop whining, but it is not a matter of how other people perceive me, it is how I perceive myself.  I am not losing weight to be more acceptable to others, to have others think I look good, or impress anyone.  I am losing weight, for my health, but also to regain that girl/woman that I have known for 95% of my life.  Some other motivations are my 30th high school reunion in August and a few formal events that I need to fit into a dress that I own but have not been able to wear. 

So, it is all fine and good to have goals and motivations to meet those goals but how are we going to achieve our goals?  Note how I have assumed that others are going to join me on this challenge.  I know that having support and a team will make success much more likely and a lot more fun.  This is my plan, feel free to follow it or find one that works best for you and your goals.  I have had success with journaling my food intake and exercise, I like using My Fitness Pal.  I have also had many friends that have lost a lot of weight using this app.  I don’t think it is the app; it is the recording that helps keep you on track and the app makes it easier.   I have also told by my endocrinologist that since I was very athletic before my illness (part of which is a hypothyroid) and now that I am in my 40’s that I might need to increase my cardio to actually see a loss.  I have tested this theory and do find that, unfortunately, I need to move more than the average person to actually see a weight change.  I am also taking some supplements that help with weight loss, fat burning and energy (L-carnitine, 5-HTP, B-12 and Omega-3).  They are all natural but before anyone takes any vitamins and/or supplements you should check with your doctor to make sure it is OK to take.  Also, if you are planning to start a new workout routine always check with your doctor before doing anything new.  I also believe that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another, so switching routines up or adapting plans to your lifestyle is key to making life long changes.  Make a routine, diet or exercise plan work for you, don’t force yourself into something that is not natural; chances are if you do it will not stick long term.  I don’t have the time, energy or desire to work out on a planned program every day; therefore I am creating my own plan that is a mixture of many of my favorite activities, as well as some of the things I “have to do”; which will keep me moving and motivated.  I am not creating a program that once I lose weight I will stop and then gain it all back.  I have to be able to make a lifestyle change not a diet or exercise routine that is so extreme that I will not be able to do it long term.

 I am going to strive to keep my calories to about 1500, which means calories in vs. calories out.  If I exercise more I can then eat a bit more.  This is why My Fitness Pal is great; it figures the math out for me and allows me to be much more accurate.  I will be able to stick with record keeping if it is easy and this app makes it really easy.  Since I have many food restrictions already I am not formally following any diet routine; my diet is pretty restrictive already.  I am gluten- free, for the most part and eat more vegetables than meat and do not eat beef at all.  If I could reduce anything it would be watching my sugar intake and may need to check my wine intake, not sure if that is going to happen 😉  I am also going to make sure I do some type of activity every day, which could be anything from a brisk walk, garden work, house work, shopping, or exercise DVD.

Please join me!  Let’s help each other reach our goals.  We can daily post our highs and lows, share ideas and tips, encourage each other, help keep us all honest and on track, and best yet celebrate when we reach our goal.  If you want to join and feel comfortable let us know your motivations and goals for the 2012 Weight Loss/Workout Challenge.  I have done Beach Body fitness exercise and one of the tools is to post before and after shots and keep journal of your starting weight and measurements.  You do not have to post this but do keep record of it, it is a wonderful motivation.  I will post mine, might as well put my money where my mouth is 😉  Here we go, we can do it…

My Starting Point 4/2/12