To Diet or Not to Diet

To Diet or Not to Diet

As I have been studying and learning and experimenting with different “diet” options–I have come to a profound conclusion:  Diets don’t work.

I know, most of you knew this already.  That is not to say that all the diet books and experts and suggestions are wrong. Diets don’t work because people that try them–me–do not take our lifestyles into account.

Diets are part of our lifestyles–and our cultures.  As Americans we embrace food like–well hot dogs and apple pie! We celebrate the diverse cultures in this nation by going to Chinese on Tuesdays and Mexican on Thursdays.

In between we eat all the “stuff” we buy at the grocery store that is so convenient and instant and tastes so good because it is processed and full of chemicals that mimic salty, sugary, soft, crunchy, flavorful yummy stuff.

Never mind that most is artificial and full of preservatives so they can sit in the warehouse, then the store, then our pantries–until we are ready to eat them.

And yet, we want  to be healthy and fit. So we go on a diet, we join the gym and we rock it! We lose 10, 15, sometimes 20 pounds–look great–feel great, and then stop. We go back to eating all the things we “gave up” during the diet, we stop going to the gym.

Slowly but surely the pounds come back and sometime they bring additional friends–making us heavier and in worse shape than before.

What we forgot was our lifestyle–not the foods. Our diets are not something we can do for a while and then we can stop when we reach a specific goal. Diets were never meant to be “a temporary eating phenomenon”.

A diet, by definition, is the sum of the food consumed by an organism or group. A noun.  Dieting–the verb–is the deliberate selection of food to control body weight or nutrient intake. So we verb the heck out of ourselves!

The question becomes are we happy living like this? In a constant argument with ourselves about our food choices. Feeling bloated and swollen and uncomfortable in our own skin.

I was not. So I have been experimenting with all kinds of diets to see which one “fit”. Of course, they didn’t “fit”–not for long anyway.

If you are in your 40s or 50s, like me, or beyond you know this will not work–because we have been experimenting like this most of our lives.

What I failed to admit to myself (because I am pretty sure I have known this all along) is that is not the food–it’s the lifestyle. The lifestyle brings with it the food.

As part of the master plan I have been working on is a major change in lifestyle. I have decided that I will eat a scientifically researched and proven healthy diet of what my body needs to function and thrive, in the amounts that it needs and nothing more. The optimal word is NEEDS.

Some, I know, are with me on this journey–they have already accepted and embraced–what I am coming to know as truth. Others know this to be true–but are just not ready yet. Its ok…

Having this lifestyle means that I am going to respect my meal times, the portion sizes of my meals and the foods I will include in meals. And everything else is unnecessary.

My lifestyle has to change, so my foods will change, so I can live the healthy and fit life I want to live.

In the next few posts, I will take you through part of my journey and why this lifestyle sounds better and feels better each day!

Don’t forget to love yourself today! And have fun!

Going To The Dogs

Going To The Dogs

We are dog people.  Although we had a dog growing up–and I loved him–when I left for college, I left the dog behind with the folks. It seemed natural that it would be mom’s dog.

As I grew older–I always felt I was not a pet person, a pet is just so much work!  I enjoyed other people’s dogs, but was just not ready to commit.

After I had children, my kids wanted a pet so we started small.  The fish, of course, all died. The girls were crazy about their hermit crabs… until they died. The hamster we had for a while bit one of the girls–and it eventually died. We had a rabbit–that, you know, died.

So when they started asking for a puppy–I was NOT on board. Clearly we were not good with animals. But they pleaded and promised and finally we struck a deal.

I promised I would buy them a puppy, if they both got straight As in school that semester. They were both good students–and usually made good marks–but I could tell they were getting “bored” with school, so I felt pretty secure that everything would not be an A, maybe a high B.

God, of course, had other plans–not only did they both get straight As, they got very high As, excelling at everything!  And a promise is a promise.

I bought a puppy.  A white, female, toy poodle we named Cici. She was the runt of the litter, but was certified–and so darn cute. The girls adored Cici!  They carried her around and spoke to her and fed her and took her out to train her to do her business. And everything as they say was perfect–a happy ending.

Until the 4th day.  On the 4th day that Cici was part of our family my youngest came to me and was sad.  I–in my ignorant bliss–asked her why she was sad? She said she was sad because Cici was sad.

Alarm bells started going off in my head.  I went to the dog’s bed and there was Cici, completely lethargic, she could barely raise her head and did not want to eat or drink.

I called my mother to please come watch the girls while I ran off to the Veterinarian–praying the whole way that we were not about to lose another beloved pet.

The Veterinarian took charge right away, thank goodness, and gave Cici an IV and ran some blood tests. After about 3 hours, Cici was back to normal–playful and happy.  

The diagnosis: Cici was hypoglycemic and would need constant care until she was bigger, stronger and able to level out her blood sugars with food.  I had no idea what this meant–because at that moment, I was also handed the bill–$1200.00!

Her “constant care” turned out to be a feeding schedule that we had to maintain, making sure she ate every 2 hours and also had a teaspoon of Nutri-cal paste which came in tubes that were $15.00 a pop!

Mom had to help me on several nights when I just could not get up to do the 2 hour feedings–and the feedings during the day when I had to go to work! It was a nightmare…and then soon enough it passed…Cici not only survived but thrived for years with us.  Until she ran away or maybe someone took her—she was a very pretty dog!

Since that time we have had several dogs in our lives.  When the girls left the nest to go to college–they left the dogs behind with me.  It seemed only logical that now they were mom’s dogs.

Me–the reluctant dog owner–who was afraid to get too attached to these animals that I knew would one day break my heart. Yet here I am, the dog owner.

I have turned into the strangest version of myself talking to these dogs and having complete conversations with them. They are my friends. And they are fiercely loyal.  And while I like to play at being tough–I love them to pieces.

The youngest daughter–in college now–recently adopted a new puppy! The family’s newest addition! (pictured above)  I don’t know how they are faring in that small apartment but they both seem very happy with the other. 

We are dog people. It seems that this family has completely gone to the dogs!

50 Things I Love About Being 50

50 Things I Love About Being 50

I have only been 50 for a couple of months–but so far things are pretty good.  Here is a compilation of 50 things I love about being 50:

  1. I can now say I have known certain people for over 30 (or 40) years–because I have!
  2. I am no longer shy about meeting new people.
  3. I see things differently than I did 5 and 10 years ago–or even last year.
  4. It is acceptable to not know where your car keys are.
  5. People tell me I don’t look 50!
  6. I have the time to take better care of myself.
  7. I have found a new appreciation for sunrises.
  8. I don’t have to make excuses anymore about why I go to sleep by 8pm.
  9. I am old enough not to want to over do any work out session.
  10. I am young enough to still stretch myself and reach higher goals in my workouts.
  11. I cook less–because I am watching what I eat.
  12. I love this new world filled with technology.
  13. I love that I can call one of my kids to explain the technology to me.
  14. No one worries that I am driving too slow anymore.
  15. It is okay to be lost–even with GPS.
  16. No one cares that I don’t drink anymore.
  17. I enjoy talking to my dogs and am sure they understand what I am saying.
  18. No one expects me to wear high heels.
  19. Less makeup is more.
  20. With Netflix–I no longer need cable.
  21. The 40’s were so last year!
  22. I am closer to retirement.
  23. I don’t mind if I am late to places and events.
  24. The music from my youth is still the best music.
  25. My gray hairs grow in a streak across my head.
  26. But I am still young enough to want to color them!
  27. I can do something ridiculous and call it a “mid-life crisis”.
  28. At this age I know money doesn’t buy happiness.
  29. I no longer sweat the small stuff.
  30. I know God is always with me–and He has a sense of humor.
  31. I love that I can name all four of the Beatles.
  32. I realize time is limited and precious.
  33. The empty nest is not as scary and sad as I thought it would be.
  34. I’ve lived long enough to see the world change in amazing ways!
  35. I’m not afraid of the dark, lightning or the boogie man anymore.
  36. Happiness doesn’t seem so hard to reach.
  37. I feel strongly about my opinions.
  38. I know my opinions don’t matter to everyone.
  39. Things seem funnier to me now.
  40. I don’t care what others opinions of ME are.
  41. I get discounts at some restaurants!
  42. It is easier to forgive others.
  43. It is easier to forgive myself.
  44. I love that I don’t know everything.
  45. I love that I know more than I thought I did.
  46. I love that I still have years to learn more.
  47. There is no guilt in falling asleep in front of the TV.
  48. If the dishes don’t get washed tonight, they’ll get washed tomorrow.
  49. I enjoy eating well and exercising–even through others criticisms.
  50. Other people’s criticisms don’t matter anymore.

Turning 50 happened much quicker than I expected it to…but I am enjoying it and looking forward to the next 50!  

The biggest lesson I have learned in the first 5 decades of my life?

Those people that matter don’t mind if you are yourself, and the people who mind you are yourself, don’t matter!

Enjoy your years–we don’t know how many we will be given.  No matter what age you are embrace the life in your years!

Comment below and share your thoughts on getting older.

 

I Love Mondays

I Love Mondays

I love Mondays….I didn’t always love Mondays, this is a new love I have found.  I used to dread Mondays for hours on Sunday Nights and getting through the first 16 hours of every Monday was pure torture until I could go to sleep and wake up on Tuesday.

I used to love Tuesdays.  Why? Because it wasn’t MONDAY.

It makes absolutely no sense, but in a strange kind of way it does.  It was a mantra I had playing in my head. And I learned it as a child–from Garfield.

I used to read the comics in the Sunday paper whenever I could get my hands on them.  And they were great! Garfield, of course, was one of my favorites! I mean who doesn’t like Garfield?

The snarky orange cat always outsmarted his human Jon and he was sarcastic and goofy. What is not to love?

Garfield hated Mondays!  Many times he would think in his bubble thoughts: “I hate Mondays!”  Right there with you my friend! So I grew up with that mantra and I hated Mondays too.

Ridiculous right?  Imagine though, how many things we do the way we do because of an old mantra we are carrying around?  

What’s worse–imagine that the mantra sitting on your left shoulder is not even yours, but one you adopted from someone else–or in my case–a cartoon cat!?

So just to mess with my head–and the others in my life, I created a new mantra:  I love Mondays!

The first time I said it out loud to my husband one Monday morning over coffee–he just looked at me.  The dogs looked at me too–like I had lost my mind.

Even I didn’t believe myself–but that was part of the experiment. Each following Monday I made sure to tell at least one new person how much I loved Mondays.  

People’s reactions are hilarious. Most just get a dumbfounded look on their face and laugh or walk away like I have the chicken pox. Some people though, caught me by surprise and asked me: why?

I had not thought this far out in my experiment so I was not prepared…but very quickly came up with this:

“I love Mondays because it’s a new week and everything that did not get done last week is in the past–and just because we don’t finish something doesn’t mean the world is going to come to an end! The sun still rises and we get a new clean slate every Monday.”

Total garbage right? I am here to tell you that the people that got the explanation–bought it. And the more I said it–the better it sounded and the more I believed it myself.

Let me explain the outcome of this little experiment.  I no longer waste precious Sunday hours worrying about what Monday may bring.  I no longer grind my teeth through my Mondays waiting for Tuesdays to make things better.

In fact, I would say that Mondays are one of my most productive days because I plan my whole week and put the wheels in motion for what has to be done.

Also, it is true that the world will not come to an end if not everything on my “to do” list does not get completed. Sometimes those things did not even need to be on the list– because they just weren’t that important anyway.

Bonus–many of my friends are now loving their Mondays too!  It was the mantra.

Sorry Garfield–I love Mondays!

Could the way you look at something be clouding your judgement about it?  Is there a mantra that you are carrying around that you would be better off changing?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Enjoy your Monday! I will!

 

Surprises

Surprises

There are many surprises that come into our lives. Some are good surprises and some are bad.

I don’t like surprises myself because I like to know the who, what, where, when and why of everything so I can PLAN it.

Yet from time to time, I come across a surprise that impacts me greatly.

I’m not talking about the someone popping out of a cake surprise–I’m talking about the kind of surprise you receive when you find out your life has been impacted by someone else or that you impacted someone’s life by a single act of kindness and it just grabs at your heart.

I had a surprise like that just this week.

There is a person that I don’t know very well but who I love and who I have a very high respect for–that passed away this week.

As a matter of fact, I have never met this person face to face, but I have known about her most of my life and carried her with me as I carry many people I care for.

It is a hard thing to explain.

I am, among other things, the family historian. I keep the family tree, many of the family stories, some of the family secrets and as many pictures of family members–past and present–that I can get my hands on.

This has been a self appointed role–not one that anyone said I had to take on. And I do this for my own pleasure and curiosity.

I don’t do this to judge family members’ lives or the choices they have made–after all, who am I to cast the first stone?

In researching a branch of my mother’s family 4 months ago, I found my mother’s sister. My mom is 75 years old and her sister, 77.

Through the twists in life and other circumstances they had lost touch with each other, both migrating to this wonderful country from their native land at different times under a different set of events.

They had not spoken to each other in over 60 years when they were both barely young teenagers in another country and another time.

They were able to reconnect, and I believe, both were very happy to have found each other again. Many phone calls, emails, cards, pictures and gifts have been exchanged over the course of these months.

For me, I found a whole new set of people to call family and my dear aunt had a daughter exactly my age. She and I communicate frequently thanks to the miracle of technology.

I feel very close to my cousin and care for her deeply–we have become not just family but friends.

Through them both, mother and daughter, I have been able to collect a few more family stories and information to fill in the blanks that I had–they have indulged me in my hobby.

Unfortunately, my aunt had cancer.  In this short time that I came to know this woman, I grew to admire her strength, her resolve and her courage.  She made sure to be strong when speaking to my mother over the phone because she did not want to worry her “little” sister.

My aunt and I shared the exchange of one long letter–one in which I told her all about my life and her reply that provided acceptance, encouragement and love.  I was in the middle of sending her another letter that I will no longer be able to send.

But a beautiful surprise came to me in a letter from her, transcribed by her daughter–my cousin, my friend–because she was too weak to write herself.

It was information about a family business back in the old country and how the family was involved in it.  She had told me she wanted me to know the story and she had promised to send it to me for my collection of family lore. The letter was written and put in the mail to me on the day she left this earth.

Sometimes, we do something simple, say something to someone, offer a smile and it changes another life.

A selfless act–a beautiful gift–and a surprise. She grabbed my heart as all good surprises are wont to do. It has impacted me greatly as I am sure her whole life impacted others–regardless of time and space.

May the Lord keep her in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.

The Promise of Spring

The Promise of Spring

I am very lucky to live in an area of Texas they call the Coastal Bend.  I am driving distance from the beach and the neighborhood where I live in on the outskirts of the city surrounded by farmland.

Spring in the Coastal Bend is gorgeous. Sometimes cool foggy mornings burst into beautiful blue and orange sunrises and in the late afternoon golden sunsets turn into starry skies.

All around us is new growth that appears spontaneously, bluebonnets in parks, school campuses and along the highway make way for orange blossoms on the citrus trees. The dormant grass begins to green as the plants and oak trees burst from one day to the next in new leaves.

And the wonder of it all to me is that it seems to happen completely effortlessly.

The bluebonnets bloom right before the last cold snap and the oak trees begin to leaf three weeks before the first hot day. They don’t have a calendar, they don’t have a plan to follow–without any effort they appear to let us know that the promise of Spring is upon us.

As I watch all the changes around me I can feel the excitement and the newness of it all. I realized that spring is our opportunity each year to refresh, renew and grow.

That has been my thing this year–to make changes for the better, to learn and continue to grow, to look towards the future.  

The more I thought of it, I realized that like with this spring–my efforts, my changes and my growth as a person have been effortless.

Really, all the changes that have occurred in life were effortless–because life happens–whether we are ready for it or not.  The changes in our lives happen every single day, in subtle ways and in bursts of action.

Nothing stays the same or has a specific timetable. Like the spring–the plants come forth when the time is right.

I noticed another thing.  Everything in my life that I “forced” to be on my timetable, or to go by my “plan” usually went wrong. The lesson I am learning from Mother Nature is that nothing has to be forced.

Have you ever noticed that if you try to force something it just doesn’t come out the way you want it–or worse yet–it comes out exactly the way you wanted it–only to realize you really didn’t want it?

And so you go through a very cold winter in your life. Some winters can be mild and some winters can be very very harsh.  But in the end the Spring returns, it always does, in its own time, effortlessly.

Lessons come in strange ways. Sometimes in adversity, sometimes through mistakes, sometimes a lesson is learned through the promise of Spring.

Enjoy the season and enjoy your life–let it unfold and have fun with it!

Organizing Your Thoughts

Organizing Your Thoughts

On this great journey I am traveling–I have really enjoyed organizing my life.  I have felt that it has been a right of passage, in a way, that I have arrived at this moment in time.

The years of growing up, growing smarter, and growing children were extremely busy–full of things to do and places to be–years. And we made it, we have arrived!

Looking back on those years makes me smile and gives me a warm feeling.  Even during difficult times–as life is wont to send you–I remember the good parts and the lessons I’ve learned.

Bad times–and rain clouds, make the good time and the rainbows brighter.

So as I organize my house and my life, I also take time out to organize my thoughts.

I imagine that I am not the only person whose mind is going nonstop and who has running lists of ideas and to dos traveling through her (or his) brain all the time. A brain who when not taken care of properly will wake me up in the middle of the night with thoughts and thoughts and thoughts.

In organizing my thoughts I have been journaling.  Not a “dear diary” kind of journaling–but more of a stream of consciousness–in notes to myself.

I began journaling quite by accident.  I few years ago, I had a garage sale because our family was making a big move to another city–the one we are in now.  I met a lovely lady who went to garage sales and bought “stuff” and resold it in an antique resale consignment shop as a hobby. She bought a few things from us and then spent a few hours chatting with us.  

I have to admit it made an otherwise boring garage sale enjoyable. And of course I never expected to see her again.

She came back the next day and gave me a small gift bag. She said she enjoyed our conversation so much she wanted to give me a little something.

Inside the gift bag was a blank journal.  She inscribed it for me on the inside cover and it inspired me to write in it.  

In it and in my other journals I organize my thoughts–and by organizing them I mean I just let it flow.

Organizing doesn’t always mean alphabetizing, putting things in numerical order, organizing by size, color or category. Organizing can be putting things the way they make sense for you.  

It is a wonderful thing to be organized.  It has helped me manage my time, my goals, my house, my meals, my grocery shopping and many other things.  

I am enjoying “getting it all together”–but I know my thoughts will always be a free forming flow of some connected and some not connected ideas. Trying to organize them would be fruitless.

Journaling has allowed me to capture thoughts and lists and ideas that I come up with and somehow, miraculously they organize themselves. One leads to another and questions I have on any particular day finds its answer in a future writing.  It is a miraculous process.

If you feel you have multiple thoughts going through your mind that contradicts other thoughts, try writing them down and letting it all flow…I think you will find that our disorganized and confusing thoughts actually have a time, place and direction for us.

Follow where they take you, there is an organization to them. And while you are journaling remember to have fun with it!