Changing my body and changing my life

Archive for the ‘Stress’ Category

Gearing up for the marathon and handling Feeding Frenzies

7 km today. I’m such a wimp. I keep thinking to myself, “Oh, this is so hard, I don’t know if I can do it!” And then I really start thinking about it and I realize that my heart is not beating that hard, I’m only taking about one breath per 4 strides, this is not a biggie at all.

My legs hate me, though. If my legs could talk, they’d say, “What the #@$%?” (YES! My legs would SWEAR!) “Here we were going 3.5 k a day in a nice walk/jog pace and now all of a sudden – pow! 12k! 7k! All jogging! And Running! She’s trying to kill us!” So they have conspired to seize up and prevent me from doing anything else. But I have a plan. I will keep stretching them out until they give in and just do whatever I’m telling them to do. I WILL WIN!

My eating has been falling apart over the last few days. Stress + temptation + not doing my daily readings as taught to me by Judith Beck = lack of progress.

Today – better. I actually feel sick to my stomach after allowing too much sugar into my pie hole. I didn’t actually have many cravings today. After work was the best time to have a run and by the time I got around to eating supper I was in the mood for health and had a mexican inspired chicken salad.

One of my helpful tools has been my Feeding Frenzy Plan. Feeding Frenzies are when I get in a mood that I want to keep eating and eating and it was little to do with hunger and everything to do with boredom or stress. My feeding frenzy plan is actually quite effective, when I use it

Feeding Frenzy Response

  1. Stop
  2. Get away from food. Leave the kitchen, go to a different room
  3. Breathe deep
  4. Identify what you’re feeling (Naming an emotion is quite a powerful tool. Once I can say, “I’m bored,”  or “I’m sad” the don’t seem to have the same influence over me)
  5. Pray
  6. Decide what to do instead.

The Beck book taught me that cravings will pass, hunger will diminish. Give myself a bit of time and things get better.

Something I find challenging is facing candy dishes at work. At least  3 coworkers like to have full candy dishes at their desks to share with people who drop in. Luckily, there isn’t a whole lot of candy I like, but every once in a while it happens to be something chocolate that tastes good. This is getting easier to deal with by using self-talk.


Smaller pieces and Mom-guilt

Yesterday had it’s ups and downs. I was feeling very stressed, but to be honest, the bad eating I did (too many peanut butter squares) started before I was feeling stressed.

I made peanut butter squares a couple of days ago. My husband said his dad really liked them and suggested I made them. His dad has terminal cancer, was given a year to live two years ago. He’s hanging in there but not doing great. And whatever might add a little joy that man’s life, as far as I’m concerned, he gets, as long as it’s legal and moral.

The fact that I love peanut butter squares makes it a bonus and a temptation.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am struggling with including some treat-foods without overdoing it. I figure to maintain my weight in the long run it’s a skill I’ll have to learn, because I’m not eliminating dessert for the rest of my life. So far, it is not going well. I brought some to staff meeting to share with my co-workers (because I love them, and because even if I can’t lose the last 5 pounds, if I get everyone around me to gain 5, I look comparatively better). I don’t actually know how many of them I ate, although because I cut them small, it wasn’t as bad as it otherwise might have been.

Then later on I encountered STRESS and so I had yet more of them.

Today – I had a lunch with my extended family. I made some good decisions: majoring on vegetables, cutting that piece of lasagne in half. But my sister commented to me that I seem to be off-plan today (she knows the tools I’m using) and she was absolutely right. I have no idea how what I ate today fits on the Mayo Clinic Plan.

I am also up by 3 pounds. I seem to retain water around the same time each month, so this is no surprise. I certainly didn’t eat 3 pounds worth of peanut butter squares. Still don’t like to see that.

I already aluded to my helpful tool for today when I mentioned cutting the PB squares small: smaller pieces and serving sizes. I first realized the power of this tool when I was a youth-care worker in a group home where many girls were overweight and obese. Grilled cheese sandwiches were a common meal, and I got good at estimating how many we would need – it was always more than 1 sandwich per person. We would always cut the sandwiches in half and pile them on a big plate. One day I did one thing different. I cut the sandwiches into quarters instead of halves. There were leftovers that day – the group had eaten far fewer sandwiches.

There is something psychologically satisfying about having more pieces of something, or taking a second portion. If I have left 2 carb servings for supper and have rice, for example, it somehow feels better if I have one serving on my plate first, and then go back and take a second rather than putting the 2 servings on my plate at the same time. Same with small desserts. 2 small cookies feels more satisfying than one big one, even if they are the same amount in the end.

What I still find challenging fits in with my series on families and eating: Mom-guilt.

I find that Moms seem way more concerned about their children’s eating and lifestyles than dads. I think this is imposed on us by society at large. Who is giving the kids Wonderbread with extra fibre? A mom. Who is in the 3 Participaction ads deriding parents who think that occasional activity is enough for their kids? 3 moms, not a dad to be seen.

Men, meanwhile, are encouraged to do manly things like eat cheese-burger pizza.

I  can’t find much research on fathers, children and food. Just that fact that you can’t find much in a simple Google search would seem to indicate it is off the radar for most people.

My guess, though, is that for many mothers, myself included, we absorb these messages unconsciously and end up feeling responsible and guilty. I know I deal with guilt about nutrition and lifestyle practices for my kids on an almost daily basis. How do I find the time to increase their activity? How do I get them to eat nutritious food without damaging our relationship? How often should I let them have treats?

I wonder then, how the mom-guilt robs me of peace and joy and actually sabotages my own efforts. Because stress only seems to interact negatively with being able to make positive decisions in my own life. I don’t feel I have good answers here, yet. Sometimes I vary widely between extremes of trying to control how my kids eat and live and totally giving up because nothing I do seems to make much of a difference.

A half day off, getting up early and making substitutions.

This day did not go as I had planned. Middle child said soon after waking up that she didn’t feel well. It became apparent, after reviewing her symptoms, that she would require a trip to the doctor. Hubby is already at work by the time the kids get up, so that means me calling into work to say I won’t be there.

Is this a big deal as far as my work goes? Not at all. I’m in a very supportive work environment, almost all of us are moms with kids, and it’s taken for granted that these things happen. But there was a time, not too long ago, where I would stress every hour I had to take time off. I’d worry about how it was perceived, and I’d worry that if I took time off today, there might be a time, somewhere, down the road, where I’d need that time even more and then I wouldn’t have it and I’d regret taking the time today. I’m always thinking down the road. Rarely thinking about now.

This caused me stress.

And stress often leads to eating.

So cognitive therapy, the practice of thinking about what I’m thinking about and subjecting thoughts to logic, came in very handy today (it was a helpful tool).

Can I take time off? Yep – no pressing conferences or reviews coming up. I’ll have time the rest of the week to address assignments. One report I need to get done today can get done in the afternoon. All’s good.

Might I need this time in the future? Who knows? But my daughter needs me now, so I might as well just make the best of the morning. And I did. I brought my knitting, and a positive attitude, and we went and got the meds she needed and had lunch together. She went back to school, I got to work in time to finish the one task that had to be done today, and all is well.

My eating was ok. The last of the scotch oatmeal at breakfast, along with a mango-strawberry smoothie. Lunch was minestrone and a crouton-less spinach caesar. Supper was leftover baked pasta vegetable and turkey with another salad. I came in over by half a serving of fat. Eldest had her final choir concert tonight and hubby suggested we go out to DQ later. While I love Pecan Mudslides, they are huge, so I asked if I could get a small sundae with the same toppings. And I could. It pays to ask at restaurants if you can change something to a smaller or healthier version. The worst you can hear is “No” and then you know not to go back there. I would say 9 times out of 10 there are options that they don’t put on the menu.

Curious what others find for going out to eat. Are there restaurants you especially appreciate for healthy options?

Exercise also did not go as planned. I wanted to do a DVD yoga-pilates workout and then 15 minutes on the treadmill. However, what I still find challenging is getting out of bed at 6 a.m. and I slept in so that by the time I finished the DVD, I needed to start getting the kids up and get ready for my day.

Tonight, I plan to be in bed earlier. So I will stop writing, now.

Eat whole grains and breathe deep – but not at the same time

Eldest child had a friend over for a sleepover so hubby thought he’d make a great breakfast. Unfortunately, that consisted of sausages, hashbrowns and white toast, so I made the decision to go my own way. I found a recipe for whole wheat waffles and made up a batch. I even took a picture, but then we left the camera at the in-laws so I can’t show you. Lunch was a really simple soup made with vegetable broth, onions, celery, a frozen stir fry veg mixture and red curry powder. The Mayo Clinic Plan puts vegetable soups in the carbohydrates category, but when I make my own soups without any carbs in them (pasta, potatoes, grains) I feel quite free to count them as vegetables in my food plan.

I realized later than I hadn’t had any protein yet, but today that worked out in my favour as we went over to the in-laws and they had steak, which allowed me a bit more latitude to eat the amount I’d like. Being at my in-laws is always a challenge, food-wise. They show their love through food, in particular food that is high in fat, sugar and calories. I recall my father-in-law once wanting to feed our youngest cookies for supper because he was refusing what was on the table and FIL said, “Well, he has to eat something!” I avoided the treats by sipping coffee and knitting. At supper I majored on the salad, took only a half ear corn and a very small potato, and part of a steak. I didn’t have my measuring tools along so I had to estimate everything, but I think I came out on top.

After that was movie night and eldest wanted to make nachos. I made a fruit plate as I still had 2 fruit servings to go for the day (Mayo Clinic plan is a minimum of 3 fruit servings a day). I decided to sit far away from the nachos and luckily youngest proposed we cuddle on the couch while watching the movie. It’s very hard to reach for food when you’re snuggling with a cute 6 year old. Eldest asked me to try a nacho. I know that she feels hurt if I don’t try what she makes, so I had one but stopped there. That in itself is a small miracle. I love nachos. But I knew if I had more I’d be typing that right now, and didn’t really want to have to admit I blew my eating plan the 3rd day of blogging.

A helpful tool today was deep breathing. I used to discount deep breathing as anything meaningful for dealing with stress, but over the last couple of years I have found it to work really well when I am anxious, particularly when I am anxious about not eating. I didn’t have control over the timing of supper and as it was going later I started to get anxious, and with that, tempted. I sat down, took some deep breaths, and knit some more.

Something I continue to find challenging is eating whole grains. While I did make the whole wheat waffles, in all honesty I have to say taste-wise, I prefer the ones with white flour. Any quick breads, actually, to me taste better with white flour, so it’s challenging to resist when hubby makes the delicious stuff he does. Today I was shopping for a loaf of whole wheat bread. I look for 5 things: 1) That it be 100% whole wheat,  2) that it is not made with high-fructose corn syrup (glucose-fructose on the ingredient list – thank you, Canadian regulators for making it hard for us to know what we’re eating), 3) that it not have shortening in it, 4) that a slice be less than 100 calories (in the Mayo Clinic plan a slice is supposed to be 70, but really, good luck finding that), and 5) that it not have an ingredient list that reads like a chemistry experiment; if I can’t find that ingredient in the store to make my bread, it shouldn’t be in what I buy. Sobeys had nothing that met my standard. I really like City Bread’s 100% whole wheat, but the bakery is out of my way.

Good day, soups and emotional eating

I spent some time deciding what my blog will be like today. I see it as having 3 purposes:

1. To keep me accountable. If I’m writing what I’m doing on a daily basis, there is added incentive to stay on track.

2. To inspire others. I hope that my journey can help others along on theirs.

3. To get inspiration. I want to hear encouragement and ideas from other people.

So each day, I’ll post:

1. How I did that day.

2. Something that has been helpful to me in making lifestyle changes.

3. Something I’m still finding challenging.


Today went ok. I stuck to my eating plan, and I got in a yoga pilates workout to a DVD and 1/2 an hour on the treadmill. I was especially pleased with my treadmill performance as I spent 15 minutes of it joggging – first for 10 minutes, then for 5. In terms of eating, I decided against some of the unhealthier options my family was going for and just went my own way.

Helpful tool:

Today’s helpful tool is SOUP! Soup is a great food when trying to lose weight, especially broth based soups. This article tells a little bit about why it’s a good tool – basically it tends to be a low-calorie filler which helps you to eat less of higher calorie foods. Quick minestrone is one of my favourite recipes. I do it up in big batches and freeze it in individual sized containers for quick lunches. To prevent the pasta from getting too soft and yucky I cook it separately and just add it before serving.


I still find it hard not to soothe myself with food when I’m feeling upset or stressed. Sometimes I am able to think myself out of it – and sometimes I forget my skills and just zone in on the nearest chocolate.

Love to hear how you handle your emotions and food.