Thursday, August 25, 2016

Food Journaling: new tricks, proven strategies

Every time I have successfully lost weight, it was thanks to a combination of strategies. The essential part of this process is food journaling. If you want to know how to successfully have a food journal, read my food journal how to post here. Last summer I challenged myself to journal my food for 100 days. I accomplished my goal and there were results but after 8 years of self experiment, I mean, discovery, I observed new tricks and proven strategies. Let's start with the latter: 

Proven Strategy 1: Low tech works better •  I started my journey 8 years ago by writing down my food intake and goals by hand. Recently, a flood of new apps invaded the market. They do make life simple and they calculate the nutrition, calories, etc. I tried different apps and somehow, I couldn't stick with it for more than one week. I also tried journaling digitally, and it was an awful experience. Low tech works better because somehow, my brain connects more with the information I manually write in the paper. I'm able to self-regulate more if I am using pen and paper. Even during the most tempting time of the day, I can succeed if I write everything down in pen and paper. I can say that as an expert on my own self, paper works. 
Writing everything I ate.
Proven Strategy 2 - Review as an education tool • I have learned that the things I write in my food journal need to be reviewed as an education tool. I simply glance at my choices and make a decision on what to do the following day. On day one this week, I decided that I needed to get a refresher on what a serving of vegetables looked like. I wrote that down in my journal and I got my refresher. The following day was successful because through review I noticed I forgot what a serving of vegetable was and I decided to go after that. Even when I have bad eating days, I review as an education tool. If the bad day was intensified as a product of stress, I decide what I am going to do the next time that situation shows up. Condemnation doesn't help me but education and decision making works every time. 
I really used to like that cup. I think I broke it :(
Proven Strategy 3 - be truthful • no matter how much it hurts. No matter how many extra potato chips I ate, I need to be truthful. Being truthful is an essential part of the process because progress is a byproduct of truth. I can't lie to myself and reach my fitness goals. I need to write everything down. If I don't like the decision I made, I make a better one the next meal. 
I remember feeling healthier when I ate those veggies.
New Trick 1 - get new goals • my goal is similar to my last health goal but I find it refreshing to have a different approach. This time around, I am asking myself these questions: "What is your stretch goal? - What is a specific subgoal? - How will you measure success? - Is this achievable? - Is this realistic? - What is your timeline?" I find that as I get more specific, I can be more successful.  
New Trick 2 - size matters • I have learned in 8 years that the smaller the food journal, the better. Large journals are difficult to carry around with me. Smaller journals are discrete and I can easily take them everywhere I go. I also buy several at a time so I don't lose the habit because I need to buy another food journal. 
New Trick 3 - treat yo self • I find that rewarding myself motivates the good habit of maintaining a food journal. If I am faithful to my food journal I always lose weight, so that's not a reward, that's my goal. A good reward would complement that goal. For small tasks, I am planning of giving myself a small reward. For writing in my journal for 1 week, I am planning of getting a bouquet of flowers. I haven't thought about the next reward but I know it will NOT be food and it will encourage me to keep the good habit intact. 

If I'm eating out, I'm writing it down.
* What do you think? What are some new and old tips you can share on the subject of food journaling?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

David, Oprah and the armor of Comparison

You were created you with a purpose in mind. The person you are today is not an accident: there has always been a masterplan behind wonderful you.
Please, don't compare yourself with another because my goal today is to remind you of how unique you are.

Every cell in your body is unique. Your eye color, your hair color and the way you say "New Jersey." Everything you do is special because it's you.
You have been gifted and you are incredibly talented. If you take the curse of comparison out of the table, you will see that what you have is more than enough to do what you were born to do in this world.

Take David for example. He used what he had (5 smooth stones and a sling) in order to catapult himself into his destiny as the greatest king of Israel.
If you are not familiar with Biblical references, take Oprah for example. She used what she had (the gift of communication) and that gift catapulted her into her destiny. I'm thinking that David and Oprah had to leave the curse of comparison alone in order to reach their destiny. You see, comparison is heavy stuff that keeps you grounded, paralyzed and unable to freely flow into your destiny. Certainly David did not fit into Saul's armor. It was too heavy for him and he was not used to fighting that way, so he took it off. Certainly, Oprah did not look like most newscasters and talkshow hosts of the beginning of her career. So she took that comparison armor off and she decided to be her unique self.

Let me guess something about most of us: we're not trying to be kings or talkshow hosts. One thing is for sure, there's an armor of comparison that was offered to you and you are wearing it. I'm here to remind you that you don't fight well with that armor on. So take it off and fight like you were created to fight, using the unique gifts and talents God gave you at birth.

Friend, you have what it takes to reach that promotion. You are gifted to fight and win that war against that awful disease. You my friend, are well able to reach the dream that God has planted in your heart. Don't let comparison stop you from freely being who God created you to be.

The world around you needs you to be who God called you to be, just as you are. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chevron Houston Marathon 2017 Training Week 9

I'm thankful I love to write and I document my life through this blog. We are 144 days away from the big day (you betcha I'm counting down!) and today I want to take a trip down memory lane for Once Upon a Run. 
During my first time training for the Chevron Houston Marathon, I was eating better and in much better shape than I am today. You can take a peek here. I was also dreaming of running the 30K during the warm-up series. God provided for my registration and new shoes. It was miraculous and I'm still thankful. The next year, I was training for Chicago so my miles were super high and I was training solo. This was me last year on week 9 of marathon training
This year, I am enjoying the wisdom earned through years of completing the marathon while still trying to get better at this running passion of mine.
Last Saturday I had a rough run. My energy was not there at all. The end of my summer was good but very busy. I must also confess, I wasn't eating well at all. 
Long run views are awesome
I knew what I needed to do but I just didn't have energy to start something new so I decided to stick with my good habits while eagerly waiting to pick up more good habits. 
Happy me out on a date with my husband.
The weekend before that rough run my husband and I went out twice. Twice I did not order dessert. I was very happy about that. That's what I mean by sticking with good habits until I can start new ones. Food journaling is a habit I resumed Sunday. I can't tell you how many times I tried to start and failed. Well, this is day 3 and it's going well. I've tried to do it digitally with all those wonderful apps but I now know that paper and pen is where I succeed.  
Getting leaner to run Houston is not gonna be easy but there are essential things I must do and one of them is food journaling. I appreciate your prayers and encouragement as I proceed in this journey. 

Previously in this Series:
• Week 1
• Week 2

• Week 3
• Week 4 - Barry Walter
• Week 5 - Christine Soliman
• Week 6 - Ron Booth
• Week 7
Week 8

Read the stories of my previous Marathons in Houston:
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2014
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2015
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2016 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy First Day of...

Hey mom and dad, you are sending your kid to school (or you are the school yourself) right? Here's what you need to know: 
You're loved - yes. It is about you. God loves you and He wants you to know that. You can't give what you don't have, so God wants you to feel incredibly loved today as you love on your little ones. 

Someone gets where you are - believe it or not, people, throughout the ages, except for Adam and Eve... Okay, let me finish my thought here :) People have done what you are doing. Find comfort in the fact that God created community for us to share and not to stand alone. So your little one is not back to school because you decided not to do preschool? There's someone out there who can relate. You also may be sending your 9th child to your kitchen table for the last year of high school. Rock on super mom and know that every emotion you are feeling is accounted for and every feeling is valid. We need community for so many reasons so don't stand alone. 

God is in control of the unknown - and He is the only one who knows how to do deal with the unknown. A lot of us are afraid of the unknown and that makes us human. God is not afraid of it (or of anything else for that matter) because He is in control. If fear is paralyzing you, get in touch with God through the Bible, prayer and a faithful friend. God knows what you are going through and He cares. He wants to give you His peace and assurance. Don't let fear paralyze you, get a hold of God. 

Enjoy today - I'm not sure if my kids will remember their every "first day of ...." event. What I now for sure is that their spirits will sense my inner peace or inner turmoil. Even though I might be nervous, excited and the array of feelings that accompany this day, I will remember to enjoy today. Today is a gift from God. I might not be able to check myself into a SPA for 8 hours but you know what, I can smile! I can take a deep breath and be thankful for the gift of motherhood. I can reminisce on the wonderful summer we just had. I can enjoy today and as I enjoy it, I rejoice in this day God has give me. 

I know some of you sent your kids to school already and we're just late to the party. If your kid(s) is(are) starting school today, remember that you need to be congratulated. My goodness, you kept them alive for another summer! You made that entire summer plan (or lack thereof) happen. That's a huge deal and I wish we could put that our my resume! 

The eternal truth you must remember is that God loves you, someone on earth understands, God's in control of the unknown and you must enjoy the gift of today. Have a great "first day of...!"

Friday, August 19, 2016

Camp Listenbee 2016: it's a wrap!

The last week of summer break is the last week of Camp Listenbee for us. I started the camp because, let's be honest, if you have any amount of kids with you during the summer, you are running a summer camp. Year 4th taught me some new lessons and I was reminded of other lessons I knew from summer's past. 
I asked my Facebook friends for questions about camp and here's what they wanted to know: 
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visiting a local children's museum
Q • How DO you do it!!? But seriously, do you have a schedule/plans? 
A • I learned that I need to be organized and that I needed a schedule. You can read my organization plan and see a sample schedule here. This is the first summer that I have two readers at camp. This has made things super exciting. They read quite a bit (even won a trophy, which they proceeded to break) and they read to their younger sister.
When I started camp I had a newborn. She was a toddler during the second year. When we had music time she'd walk around grabbing everyone's instruments ;) The key was to just try to engage her while respecting her little limits. The fact that she's child number three guaranteed that she'd roll with the punches and rolling she did. When everyone was little the camp schedule revolved around nap times and eating times, which was just fine with us.
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craft of the day. they were busy for 15 minutes with this one 
Q • How do you do activities for the youngest?
A • In my opinion, the most important activity for the youngest is eating and sleeping. Everything revolves around this. I also make sure to know what I'm good at. I'm good at music and I'm good at looking at Pinterest and finding some easy crafts. With the youngest ones, the simpler the better. If you can find one of those developmental sheets telling you what they are able to do at a certain age, you can go from there as far as crafts and activities.

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Cow Appreciation Day is a must!
Q • How did you adapt when something changed your plans? 
A • I honestly tried to be flexible but it was after I kicked and screamed on the inside. Then I remembered it was summer and I had plenty time at hand. By the end of the summer it got much easier to deal with change. This year we had a schedule but my understanding was that we were going to be flexible.

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Art. They love it!
Q • How did you balance between free/cheap things and things that cost a bit?
A • God blessed me with a job as a preschool teacher last year, so I was able to pay ahead for the costly things. Costly for me is different than costly for others but the key was to know what we could afford and pay for it ahead of time. During this season of life, I don't get invited to do a lot of expensive things so I don't have to deal with peer pressure. I try to stick with free of less expensive things. We swim at our gym and our membership covers that. It's not the coolest pool in the area but it is a pool and we are so very grateful for that. We love parks and they are always free. We also found a free indoor park in our area. Our family tries not to extend ourselves as far as entertainment. I'm also a believer that my kids don't worry about how much stuff costs, they just want to spend time with us as a family. As far as free resources, word of mouth is a good one and there are several blogs with free and cheap activities in every area.

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That one time we ate at the Mexican food truck in a construction site. Legit!
I'm so very thankful for my wonderful husband Zeke. Nothing we do would be possible without his love and support.
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My family, my treasure!
He's always excited about camp and he's always ready to enjoy all the activities with us. I love how we are experiencing so many different activities during the summer. The goal is not to keep everyone busy but to enjoy this wonderful life God gave us as a family. I still believe that today is the childhood memories my kids will remember. Our hope is that the kids will remember how loved and treasured they have always been.