Monday, September 26, 2011

Blessings or Stressings?

Life has been on the hectic side lately.  We are smack-dab in the middle of the kitchen project I mentioned a few weeks ago, living with half a kitchen—and not the essential half in my opinion.  There are beautiful cabinets up, but no counters or running water.  The past week has been bustling with strangers coming and going from our house at all hours of the workday and weekend.  After months of waiting, it’s a bit overwhelming to have so much happen so fast.

We have been eating frozen meals via a microwave in the garage and occasionally going out to eat.  My favorite place to go has been Jamba Juice, where they have all-fruit and vegetable smoothies and that kids and I like.  I even have a coupon I got through email for a buy-one-get-one free.  (Ask me to send you one and I will!)

There have been twists and turns in this project to be sure.  You reach a point, though, when you’re almost ready to say, “I don’t care if it’s not perfect.  Just be done with this mess!”

The cabinets were installed over a Saturday while Jay was at work.  I ran around town trying to keep the kids entertained.  When I got home, I looked about, pleased at the progress, but also puzzled because they looked nothing like the sample I had.  It turned out the wrong cabinets had been ordered for us.

Not the best news to be told when I’m without a kitchen, longing for this project to be done.

Now, for the good news.  We love the cabinets we got, even though they are wrong!  Furthermore, we get new paint inside our house, courtesy of a very apologetic contractor.  Still, this whole fiasco has been, to say the least, stressful.

Another thing that has me stressing (I mean blessing) is a sudden increase in my teaching schedule.  As the opening of the school season came, I was contacted by a slew of potential piano students who had happened to find me on the internet.  Without planning it, I have gone from one to nine students in a matter of weeks.  It’s great for the fundage, not so great for my sanity!  It is wonderful to be teaching again, though, and outside of being slightly overwhelmed by my new schedule, I’m truly loving it.

There are other stressors.  My husband has been working long hours, often six days a week.  I recently began teaching a Sunday school class for toddlers.  Not least on the list, both my kids have been demanding a lot of attention lately, with Eden begging me to teach her to read and Lance doing what all 2-year-olds do.

In short, my life has been demanding.  But, everything that provides stress also provides blessings, and I find that I really have a wonderfully full life.  How can I complain when the things that give me the most stress, also give me the most joy?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Don’t Count Calories

Lately I’ve been participating in an invigorating diet competition.  My rivals are a load of fun and think they can beat me.  But we all know better, right?

Now that we’re nearing the end of the competition, I’d like to share a few secrets of my success during this competition.  (If I lose the competition, I’m going to be sufficiently humbled, but for now, let’s just assume that I’m going to win!)

My biggest cause for success during this eight-week competition has been not counting any numbers.  I haven’t counted calories, carbs, fiber, fat, or any combination thereof.  What has resulted?  Weightloss and a genuine interest in keeping it up long after the competition is over.

So if I haven’t tracked what I’ve eaten, what have I done? 

I have simplified everything down to a yes or no question.  Is it healthy?  Is it more than I should eat?  Will it make me feel good in two hours?  Is it worth the splurge?

When my focus is on reaching a particular number (of calories, points, etc.), I lose my motivation when I see that I am not going to reach my goal that day.  Let’s say it is noon and I’ve already eaten 1000 calories.  Well it’s nearly impossible to meet my 1500 goal with lunch and dinner still ahead of me!  I may as well give up for the day!

And I usually do.

When my focus is on being healthy instead of reaching a number, my effort goes from all or nothing to a much more moderate way of eating.  I ate more for breakfast, so likely I won’t be as hungry for the rest of the day.  I won’t condemn myself or stress.  I’ll just try to be sensible, and don’t eat when I’m not hungry.

Getting started on a healthy diet is a challenge, and it helps to count calories in order to learn what a sensible diet feels like.  After a while, though, let common sense be the guide.  It will work for a lifetime, and I’m not sure anybody wants to count numbers for the rest of their life.

Friday, August 12, 2011

By Example

Recently I saw a photo of a little girl in diapers standing on a scale, looking at her weight with a worried curl in her brow.  The photo was being used as a warning to moms about the messages we send our kids about weight-obsession.  Our little girls, particularly, watch and pick up our fears, insecurities, and our focus on that big W word—Weight.

Ever since having my daughter, I’ve been determined to teach her to make healthy choices at a young age.  When I was a child I was chubby and felt insecure physically.  The way I was treated by kids and teachers at school created scars that still hurt at times.  (Mostly the hurt now is just fear that my daughter will go through something similar.)  Understandably, I do not want Eden to have her weight be an issue while she is in school—or ever, for that matter—but I cannot deny that part of weight is wrapped in genetics and she probably will have to face it at some point.

My job, then, is to teach her how to overcome the weight “tendency” the best she can—without teaching her to obsess about her weight!  Where is that line?  Can I make her conscious about something, without leading her into the weight-obsessed mindset most of our society already pushes?

The answer, I think, is recognizing myself as the example.  Do I obsess about weight in front of my child?  I can talk about portion control and daily exercise with positive results, but am I mixing it with a panicked fear that if I don’t do these things, something very bad will happen?  Does my need to lose weight overshadow my ability to love?  If I eat more than I should, do I carry on about my regrets and fears?  Is my self-image wrapped up in looking a certain way?

My child watches and learns how to be healthy, both physically and emotionally.  I pray that I am able to teach her to be healthy in both aspects.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kitchen Project

It’s been hectic at our house this summer. We are currently without cupboards in our kitchen and soon to be without water, refrigerator, or any other useful appliance. Due to some water damage we are getting a new kitchen, which really is a blessing even though it feels like a curse right now.

The curse is enough to drive me crazy—trying to get the cabinet guy to call me back, trying to find that pan that was once in its perfect spot, and trying to make dozens good decisions in a matter of hours. And another obstacle: my anxiety for the days to come.

I am dreading the weeks when we won’t have a kitchen, and when we’ll be hearing slamming, hammering, and drilling nonstop instead. How will my kids react? How will they nap? Where will we go during the day?

And where will we eat? Will I gain ten pounds from eating out all the time? Friends have told me that I should BBQ outside and use paper plates, which is a useful idea I plan to do. But what if it’s too hot? Where will I keep the meat if I don’t have a refrigerator?

So many questions and so many concerns. I really should let tomorrow take care of itself.

Ultimately, this situation is the perfect topic for a health blog because there are so many health ramifications from being kicked out of your kitchen. I plan to give updates as we progress through this unanticipated project. Hopefully I’ll be sane enough to do so!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hearing It All

            Lately my daughter Eden has been asking us “what?” and saying “I can’t hear you” when we talk to her.  I haven’t been overly concerned, figuring it was more of an I-don’t-understand thing rather than I-can’t-hear thing.  Still, being a typical mom, I wanted to get her hearing tested, if only to put my mind to rest.
            I called her doctor.  Sure enough, Dr. Phan said that Eden’s behavior was perfectly normal—but to play it safe we should get her tested.
            Eden is petrified of doctors, which she has reason to be since most of the time they’re poking, prodding, and injecting.  Ouch.  So to prepare her for the hearing test, I told her about it several days in advance.  She was very worried immediately, but I kept assuring that it would be okay, there would be no shots, and it might even be fun.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect at the appointment, but I figured it would include looking in her ears and having her listen to various decibel levels.
            The night before her appointment we were in the car, and I was again trying to help her nerves.  We decided to “practice” the hearing test, so I lowered my voice and said in a hushed whisper, “Eden is a cute little girl.”  Then I asked her to repeat it.  With a quirky smile, she whispered, “Eden is a cute little girl.”
            I had a strong feeling my daughter’s ears were just fine, except for the occasional problem of selective hearing.
            The next morning we headed into the doctor.  By the time the appointment started, I am pretty sure that my husband and I were way more stressed out than Eden was.  We had gone to the wrong building and ended up being 15 minutes late.  They agreed to see her, though.  During the test she was a perfect angel.  And she had a blast. 
            As I had expected, her ears were examined first.  Then she was brought into a sound-proof room and given headphones to wear.  In the next room, facing her with a glass window between them, sat the doctor.  She spoke into the microphone and asked Eden to repeat the words she said.  She said words that Eden would appreciate, like ice cream and playground.  Then she asked Eden to respond when she heard a train whistle.  Eden heard it, but being shy she just grinned.  The doctor made a game of it—when Eden heard the train, she was to throw the ball into the basket that my husband was holding.
            In the end, Eden had a wonderful time.  If anyone is trying to think of a fun activity to do with your kids for a special day, by all means give them a hearing test.  On the way to the doctor’s office, Eden wore out our ears by repeatedly saying, “I don’t want to go to the doctor!”  When we left, she wore out our ears saying, “I want to go to the doctor!” 
            Oh, and the doctor said her hearing is just fine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No eating after 4 PM - Is it feasible?

For the past few days I've been trying out a new eating schedule so that I don't eat after 4 PM. Previously I was trying to limit my calories to 1500 daily, but was finding that mid-mornings and mid-afternoons I was getting sluggish and shaky.

Since ending my eating at 4, I have been eating more earlier in the day.  The plus has been a spike in energy during the day, no more sluggishness and shakiness, and (amazingly) more energy in the evening.  The negative has been that I am no longer able to eat when my family eats at dinner.

Has anyone else tried this kind of eating schedule? Has it worked on a long-term basis? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear ideas! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goal Met

After one year of blogging, I am exciting to announce that I met my goal at the end of November. I want to thank everyone who read and subscribed. Having an audience is what kept me going. The comments and emails were so encouraging. I appreciate all of you! 

I am not currently writing blog entries for My Daily Avocado, but I may repost or write new ones in the future. So what am I doing? I am starting a new goal, this one not as public. I am in the midst of writing a young adult novel. It is going well so far, and I hope to finish by the end of 2011.

Again thank you all so much for your support! You'll hear from me again in the future. Meanwhile, stay healthy!