check-in: almost September

My first check-in on my summer 2016 program has arrived. How have I done? I have not lost any weight, but I have some progress to report:

  • I cycled on my stationary bike every second day (Phase 5 of my virtual journey along the St. John River). Days 5-1 to 5-6 took me from Edmundston to just south of Rivière Verte.
  • I did less eating in the evening after 9:00. It helps that my husband is also trying not to eat after 9 PM.
  • I have planned and started my next six days of cycling – Rivière Verte to Saint Leonard.

I also made three pledges to my son during the summer. Making a promise to my son about my diet is more likely to succeed than a pledge to any other person I know! I have chosen small changes that I feel will benefit my well-being. Also, by keeping these small promises, I give my self-esteem and confidence a boost.

  • July: I pledged to not eat French fries. French fries are not good for me and other choices are always available. In two months I have not had French fries once!
  • August: I pledged to eat only small servings of ice cream. My son said this was not to allow me to eat ice cream every day!!! Actually, I eat ice cream about once a week and a small cone is a much better choice than a large cone! For one month, I have had only small servings of ice cream!
  • September: This could be a hard one. Yesterday I pledged not to drink diet or regular cola. Often it is the easy choice, but I love water and can flavour it with a bit of lime.

I’ll do another check-in at the end of September.

All the best!

Alexandra

 

drinking water

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keeping busy in the evenings

Well, two weeks into my new wellness challenge, I have lost two pounds.  This makes me happy because loosing the weight slowly is the best way to allow my habits and body to adjust.  My morning blood glucose readings have also been great for these two weeks, always less than 8.0 .

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I attribute my loss to limiting my evening eating.  Instead of sitting, watching TV and making trips to the kitchen every five minutes, I have focussed on making small lap quilts.  These are easy to handle, quick to do and the finished quilt helps me stay warm on a cold evening.

I think this works to curb my evening eating because:

  • it keeps my hands busy
  • the work demands my whole attention
  • snacking as I am sewing is almost impossible
  • the result (the finished quilt) is very satisfying

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My quilt-making would not win any prizes.  As you can see below, my stitches are quite irregular.  But it ‘works for me’ and the result is quite durable.  I start with a small fleece baby blanket (30″ by 36″) and sew small patches on one side, using top stitching.  Then I add a backing and sew the layers together with more stitching.  By the time a quilt is bound, it has taken about 5 evenings or 15 hours.

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Best always, Alexandra

blood sugar

As I have said in a previous post, I am a diabetic.  To control my diabetes, I take medication in the form of pills and I take a long-acting insulin twice a day.  I also monitor my blood sugars closely, taking my blood glucose readings at least once a day and having blood work done at the hospital once every three months.

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I also try to use exercise and diet to control my blood sugars.

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My ‘before-eating blood sugars’ have recently been in the range of 7 to 14 mmol/l (milimoles per liter) – they should be between 4 and 7.   My blood sugar readings follow along with the food I have eaten.  If I eat late at night or if I have a baked dessert after supper, I always find my blood sugars up in the morning.

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Before Christmas, my blood sugars were excellent.  They were responding well to my regular exercise (I bike on my stationary cycle once every two or three days)  and to my better eating habits.  However, in spite of the fact that I did not gain weight over Christmas, my blood glucose readings are higher than they should be.

unhappy Alexandra
unhappy Alexandra

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The chart below shows the difference.  For October (the first 25 readings) my early morning blood sugars did not go above 10.  For January 2014 (the next 20 readings) they are often above 10.

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blood sugars

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I know from past experience that blood sugar control is a bit like a fall down the stairs.  Once you start to fall, it is hard to stop the tumble and every step adds its injuries.  Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, you just lay there and it’s hard to get up and get back to normal.  Once I overeat one day and get a bad blood sugar reading, guilt and fear and avoidance take over.  Like falling downstairs, every day of poor control contributes to an overall pattern of high readings.  It’s like my body says, ‘Oh, high sugars must be normal for me. Give me sugar.’  Part of the problem is avoidance … when my blood sugars are high, I don’t take my blood sugar readings (fear?) and sometimes I conveniently ‘forget’ my medication (denial?).  It takes several days of control to get over the guilt and get my blood sugars back to normal.

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To regain control I must:

  • control my evening eating
  • take my blood sugar readings (don’t be afraid to see the readings)
  • take my medications (don’t stick my head in the sand)

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I’ll get my act together, and get back on track, and let you know how I do …

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Best always, Alexandra

Alexandra dismayed
Alexandra dismayed

evening eating – results of a month’s monitoring

From November 27, 2013 to December 27, 2013, I kept track of my evening eating (see the tab ‘evening eating’, above).  Evening eating has been a problem for me for years.  After a good supper, I frequently begin a frenzy of trips to the refrigerator, to see what might be good to eat.

As a result of keeping track earlier this month (https://alexandra128.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/), I know that I can help my evening eating by:

  1. keeping track of my eating for the day
  2. planning to eat a snack from a food group where I did not eat enough (example: milk)
  3. keeping occupied during the evening with a diversionary activity (example: knitting, drawing, reading)

This approach seemed to work for me during the month.  I did not have any evenings where I lost control, although I did eat more than my planned snack on a couple of evenings.  Also, I knitted most evenings and finished a multi-coloured cowl I can wear on my winter walks outside.

the cowl I knit during the evenings in December
the cowl I knit during the evenings in December

I am going to continue to record my evening eating strategies in MyFitnessPal‘  (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/).  I’ll be sure and show you the results of my next ‘diversionary activity’ project!!!!

Best always, Alexandra 

Alexandra reading, not eating
Alexandra reading, not eating

enjoying a party

In my program of weight loss and healthy eating, I have come up against the biggest challenge of the season – the Christmas party.  I have been to two and although I did better than I would have if wellness weren’t foremost on my mind, I realise seasonal eating can put major hurdles in the way of weight-loss.

First, I need to remember that the purpose of the Christmas party is not to gorge on party food, but to spend time with friends.  Conversation, not calories should be my focus when I go to a Christmas event.

Second, I need to have a plan:

  1. eat properly before I leave home
  2. know that this is not the last time I will ever be able to sample good food
  3. enjoy the company and don’t think about the food all the time
  4. select an item that looks delicious and have only one serving
  5. choose a healthy food that I know I can eat guilt-free
  6. don’t sit near the food but find a spot at more than arm’s length from the table
  7. tell someone at the party I am trying to limit my intake of high-calorie foods

At both events, the party hosts were good enough to include low-calorie and healthy alternatives in their fare.  A fruit tray with grapes and melon saved me at the first party.  Baked apples, stuffed with raisins were a good choice at the second gathering.  It made me realise that when I bring something to a dinner as a pot-luck contribution, I can make my contribution both calorie-wise and healthy.

Holiday eating at home has not been as successful.  As a result of almost 60 years of training, I associate the holidays with eating.  Over the last weeks, we have included several foods in our grocery cart that should never have made it into our home.  In this case, the best strategy is – do not buy foods I cannot resist.  Good news folks, we have eaten it all.

Best always, Alexandra

unhappy Alexandra
Alexandra, ashamed, after the cheesecake is all gone.

evening eating – my results

Two days ago I set a very short-term goal:

Goal #5: In two days (on November 25) I would like to be able to say that I have been more mindful about my evening eating, deciding beforehand what snack I will eat and finding other ways to occupy myself.

This is the notebook page where I kept a record of how I approached this goal:

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You will notice the stickers I’ve added to the page.  Perhaps this is childish, but I respond very well to rewards, even something as simple as a sticker.  Stickers are generally inexpensive and they decorate my otherwise boring spiral notebook.

This may seem a lot of work for two evenings of being in control of my after-supper eating.  But I hope to learn from this and continue to work on this bad habit of excessive eating during the evening hours.

From now on, I am going to plan my snack, based on the food groups I have remaining at the end of the day.  Usually these are fruit, vegetable and milk food groups.  By choosing to eat from one or two of these groups, I put myself in control and I round out the nutrients I need.

I am also going to keep a book and my knitting nearby so when I feel the urge to eat, I will divert my attention with another enjoyable activity.

Alexandra reading, not eating
Alexandra reading, not eating

In my wanderings around the Internet, I found an excellent discussion about eating mindfully in the evening hours at http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=407

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow I will be choosing a new short-term goal.

Best always, Alexandra

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evening eating – making a plan

My short-term goal for the next couple of days is to approach evening eating ‘mindfully’.

One of my biggest problems is eating in the evening.  I have breakfast and lunch under control.  I take a healthy approach to dinner.  Then 8 PM hits, and I lose control!

Why?????

  1. In the evening I am tired and less likely to be in control
  2. I usually watch TV in the evening and that includes commercials
  3. I usually don’t approach the evening with any kind of plan

I track my eating on most days.  Recently I found an ‘app’ called MyFitnessPal‘  (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/) that helps me to keep a record of what I have eaten.  It also tracks nutrients so I will know at the end of the day if I haven’t had enough calcium or fibre.  I have tried a number of apps to track calories, but this is the best I’ve found.  Gradually it builds a dictionary of your usual foods, so entering the food gets quicker with time.  The app also allows you to track exercise and the water you drink.

The downside of this app is the lack of a way to track food-groups consumed.  For that, I have a quick free app called ‘ CheckOff Diet Tracker’ (New Angle Technologies LLC).  It lets me set my goals for each food group as well as for exercise and water.  Then I can quickly check off the foods I have eaten and know what I have remaining for the day.

Ways I can be mindful about my evening eating:

  1. plan a snack; pick a food group remaining after the day – usually this is a milk choice but sometimes it is a fruit or vegetable
  2. eat my snack at the table instead of in front of the TV
  3. pay attention to the texture, smell and taste of the food
  4. keep an activity close at hand to keep occupied (for me, this is knitting, watercolours or reading)
  5. keep a notebook nearby to record eating impulses – describe the circumstances and my responses
  6. go to bed at a regular time instead of sitting mindlessly

My approach to any goal is my ‘plan’.  On my ‘plan’, I can write down ideas and track my progress.  I can also use the ‘plan’ as a reminder to steer me through a difficult stretch.

Recording how I am feeling can help me understand what triggers my evening eating.  Usually I am not hungry.

Below is the page of my planning book.  A spiral notebook with plain pages works for me, although I am bad at drawing straight lines!

You can copy and use the page too, if you want to plan your evening eating.  In a couple of days, I’ll show you my completed page and how I did.

A simple ‘Hunger index’ is 1 to 3, where 1 is not hungry (just ate), 3 is ravenous (stomach growling), and 2 is somewhere between.

plan for evening eating

Do you have problems controlling your evening eating?  What are your solutions?

Best always, Alexandra

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