I’m Dreaming of a Lite Christmas

I’m not sure what part of the world you live in, but I live in the Great White North and Christmas isn’t Christmas unless there’s a dusting of snow on Baby Jesus’ birthday. Then that’s it for me, no more snow, I want it gone. Don’t get me wrong, Canadian winters can be utterly stunning, especially when you feel like you’re living within a picturesque snow globe, but then there’s this….

Courtesy of The Toronto Star
Courtesy of The Toronto Star

And the older I get, I don’t want to shovel THIS anymore. Or drive in it. Or get stuck in it. My mind totally understands the appeal of being a snowbird, unfortunately my wallet doesn’t comprehend the concept.

Another problem with getting older is weight loss becomes harder to achieve. It seems with every passing year it’s exponentially more difficult to lose the same pound. Along with all the other gifts that come with aging: seniors’ discounts at Shoppers, neck wattle, and cataracts, our metabolism slows down. I’m convinced mine died in 1998. According to WebMD, “metabolism tends to decelerate by about 5% for every decade of life past age 40”, and in order to maintain our weight we have to eat 100 calories less a day – how the heck do we do that over the holidays, let alone the rest of the year? One-hundred calories equates to 1 shortbread cookie, or 2.5 Quality Street chocolates, or 2 candy canes! Wait, it gets worse… if we want to lose weight, we might as well start eating the grocery store flyers because that’s the closest we’ll get to food without packing on the pounds!

Does this mean those of us north of 40 should wire our jaws shut, or become calorie-pinching Scrooges during the holidays? I hope not – I want to jingle my bells and get my ho-ho-ho on this season! So how do we deck the halls and enjoy Aunt Gertie’s famous mozzarella and salami turkey stuffing without worrying we’ll still be wearing it on our hips after St. Nick is long gone and sunning himself on some beach in the Caribbean?

Cruisin' with Santa in the sunny Caribbean
Cruisin’ with Santa in the sunny Caribbean

One word – PLAN. For me I define it as: Prepare. List. Adjust. Negotiate.

I’m starting to learn that I must be deliberate with my choices – preparing my menu in advance, shopping with a grocery list in hand, journaling in my food diary, etc., but also being flexible so that I can adjust where needed and negotiate situations that I did not anticipate. So this season my plan includes: moderation, opting for lighter versions of my favourite holiday food, and squeezing in a few extra exercise sessions – especially resistance training. I believe this is my best strategy to keep my weight down and my spirits up this season.

Mare's PLAN of Attack

Change begins with seemingly small decisions, like eliminating our hidden foods, or buying less – which is lighter on our pocketbook as well as our waistlines – and over time, healthy habits take root and lead us a healthier version of ourselves. Healthy Tree

I wish you all a very Merry and Healthy Christmas and Happy New Year!

Well-Rounded Gal Seeks Wholesome Diet – Bananas and Junk Food Need Not Apply

This blog is about understanding why I make the food choices that I do, and learning how to change my bad eating habits into healthy ones. As I dove inward and asked myself tough questions about my self-sabotaging patterns, I had a revelation about my food issues and my past relationships.

It seems that finding the right match only happens in fairy-tales or in Genoa City – okay, not so much in the soaps, but with over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, I’ve got to wonder if I’ll ever find the other  ‘after’ I’ve been searching for. While I realize there is no guarantee that my happily ever after will be found at the end of a church aisle, my healthily ever after will certainly be found down the grocery store aisle, once I start making the right food choices.

Checks and Balances

If I ever change my name, I want to go by  – if what’s his symbol can do it, so can I. A checkmark has got to be the most satisfying symbol in the world. It conveys approval, progress, and completion, and for a girl who can’t live without her ‘to do’ list, I look for every opportunity to collect them. But when is too much checking a bad thing? For me, it’s when I added, “go love Mom and Dad” to the list last week. Over the last few months, I’ve piled activities, tasks, and commitments onto my plate as if they were selections at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and now they’re weighing me down just as much as my saddlebags.

You’re probably wondering, ‘How busy can she be? She lives on her own. She must have oodles of time on her hands.’ *Sigh* I’ve got some ‘splaining to do. Please join me as I walk you through the I LOVE LUNACY episode that got me into this conundrum in the first place. It all started by the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory – cue music.

A few years back, I became an empty nester for the first time. Up until then my house was Union Station, people were coming and going: my girls, their boyfriends, my boyfriend, his kids, family and friends – I knew how to live in that madness, and if there ever was a moment to myself, I savoured it. The first month sans offspring wasn’t so bad, but then Tiffi, my four-legged, furry daughter’s health took a turn for the worse and I had to put her down. Three days after that, my boyfriend and I broke up. Both losses were sudden and unexpected. Dazed and confused, I found myself sitting in an empty house holding nothing but Tiffi’s ashes and the memories of those I loved who moved on to the next chapter in their lives. But what was mine? I only knew how to do one thing well – nurture – and with no one around to take care of, I wandered around aimlessly.

My sweet Tiffi - miss you oodles fur-face
My sweet Tiffi – miss you oodles fur-face

I didn’t know how to live on my own – I never had. From the day I was born to the day my kids moved out, I lived with others. The wise philosopher, Mr. P. Diddy, once asked, “Is a house really a home when your loved ones is gone?” The answer is: NO. It just becomes the address on your driver’s license, and I didn’t want to spend time there anymore. That’s when I started busying myself with checkable activities that kept me out of the house. Work became a happy distraction, but it wasn’t enough, so I joined a boxing studio and worked out a lot of my pain on the punching bag. It helped, but that still wasn’t enough, so I sped up the conveyor belt and added: art classes, Cross Fit, volunteering, scriptwriting, cooking classes, Bible study, etc., until I was out every night of the week. (This was the period in which I lost 70 lbs.).

Working out the pain
Working out the pain

When I was at ‘home’, it reminded of what I no longer had, so I sold most of my furniture and created a new atmosphere that held no memories. It wasn’t a decorating project, it was my soul restoration project.

Creating a new space for my new life
Creating a new space for my new life

Needless to say, when my youngest asked if she could move back in after my year-and-a-half of solitude, I was thrilled. Yay, somebody to smother… err, I mean company! I slowed my pace down and enjoyed having a roomie for the next 2+ years. However, as soon as she graduated from Teacher’s College, my daughter announced she was heading to South Korea for a year to collect checkmarks of her own.

Although it’s was a wonderful opportunity for her, I braced myself for the emotional storm I knew was coming. Instead of boarding up the windows and stockpiling supplies, I revved up the conveyor belt once again, and signed up for umpteen activities and projects before she even boarded the plane. If anyone asked me for anything, I’d blurt out, “YES!” before they finished their question. If it kept me busy, I committed to it.

What I didn’t expect was how different Empty Nest Take 2 would be. I didn’t crumble…. Did time keep its promise and heal my old wounds? Perhaps. I think the first time around, I lived outside of myself. It was crazy-making! Everything I did was for the wrong reason – I kept myself busy to avoid my pain and to prove something to other people – that’s probably why the weight loss didn’t take. This time around, I’m daring to delve inward and search for meaning along with my after.

Amen to that Kim!
Amen to that Kim!

So what do checkmarks have to do with being overweight? Overindulging in ‘yeses’ and busyness are as detrimental as empty calories – they’re going to tip the scale, and not in our favour!

Let’s be kind to ourselves and slow the pace down so we can savour what’s meaningful, like spending time with our aging parents, or making healthy choices instead of grabbing something processed as we scramble to collect our next checkmark. Busyness does not make a life, it just makes a life busy.

There’s nothing wrong with acquiring checkmarks as long as our ‘to do’ lists are intentional, point us in the direction of our goals, and include a little self-care.

Mare - To Do List

Let’s leave the conveyor belt antics to the pros… take it away Lucy and Ethel.

I Love Lucy bw

Time To Say Goodbye

I’m a few days into my journey and I haven’t developed a nervous twitch yet, so that’s a good sign. I’ve been keeping up my food diary which I’ll upload on Monday under a new tab called 12 in 12.

To recap, the three steps in The Start Here Diet by Tosca Reno are:

  1. Dive Inward: identify emotional triggers as to why you’re overeating
  2. Uncover your Hidden Foods: identify and eliminate empty-calorie foods that sabotage your weight loss efforts
  3. Move a Little: gently ease back into exercise

Sounds easy, right? Step 1 will take time, perhaps the duration of 12 in 12 and possibly the key to keeping the weight off for good. Step 3 is perfect for a beginner. But Step 2 is the toughie. Identifying my hidden foods wasn’t the problem – eliminating them will  be. So how best to express my grief and face the pain of my loss? How do I bring closure to a lifelong relationship with the foods that have comforted me? A food funeral of course!