Monday, January 18, 2021

How to stop eating after dinner

One of the biggest problems I had to overcome in the past few years is the issue of eating after dinner. Some call it snacking after dinner. I never thought about why I felt like I needed to eat after dinner.

I remember having a solid day of eating and tracking my food. When I got home, I was busy taking care of the kids, the house, and dinner. 

I also knew that I had to prepare myself for the next time. My nightly routine started with having dinner with the family and once the kids went to sleep, I would pack lunches for the following day.

I was often in the kitchen when I ate after dinner. The kitchen was fully stocked with the fruits, snacks and other food we needed for the week. 

I found myself tired from the day but I would persist in packing our lunches. In between packing lunches, I would start snacking here and there. 

At first, it wasn't a huge amount of food. It was just one or two bites that led to overeating. The type of food I'd go for wasn't necessarily bad. It was often the food I was packing for the following day.  Still, my WW budget was spent for the day. Even 5 days of overeating after dinner was not going to help me reach my goal. 

I remember feeling tired when I was packing. It is natural to be tired during that time of day, I confess. I was also stressed. I don't claim to be a stress-eater but the stress was part of the equation for sure. 

My thoughts after I ate were "I'm still tired. I feel like I need something else." Eventually, I would go to sleep and the next time, I would try to fix this problem again. 

Some days I succeeded. I identified the problem (snacking after dinner) and I thought, "I need to fix this habit. Oh wow, this is a habit."

I read a book about habits. It is a popular book that is actually good. I followed the book's advice and I did it! I stopped eating after dinner. 

A few weeks later, the after-dinner snacking started again. This time, I knew the habit formation formula. I just wasn't using it. 

I tried to divert myself from eating. I heard that if "crunching" is what I need, I should have baby carrots ready to go. If a soothing feeling is what I needed, I should have herbal tea. 

Ask me how many times I craved baby carrots? Correct: never. 

The solution to stop eating after dinner was more simple than that. You see, my feelings are real and smart. You can't replace crunchy snacks with baby carrots. At least I couldn't.  The real solution came by giving my body what it really needed. It turns out, I needed rest. 

Have you thought about analyzing why you snack after dinner? Consider these four things:

Behavior - the behavior I was trying to end was eating after dinner.  Plain and simple. 

Environment - I often ate after dinner while in my kitchen. 

Feeling - I was feeling tired, stressed.

Thought - I often thought "I feel tired and I still need something else." 

It took a little bit of time but I decided on the following action plan:

Behavior - I will not eat after dinner;
Environment - I will stop eating after dinner. If I want something, I will drink herbal tea;
Feeling - When I feel tired, I will go to sleep; 
Thought - Sleeping will allow me to feel my very best so I can reach my goal. 

Here are other things I considered:

Patience - this change wasn't overnight. I made a point to learn from my mistakes. 
Why - the reason WHY I wanted to stop eating after dinner had to be my strongest motivator. My why helped me to stay the course and fix this issue. Ask yourself, WHY do I want to stop eating after dinner?
Pause - I learned to pause, think about what I was doing and therefore say "I'm satisfied, I don't need any more food." If you don't pause to think, you might miss your satisfaction cues.
You are the expert - One size does not fit all. You are the expert on yourself. Be a student of your own behaviors, environment, feelings, and thoughts. You will be able to identify the solution to your own problem. You do have what it takes. 

This issue of snacking after dinner really bothered me for a long time. It didn't disappear magically. It took considering my behavior, environment, feelings, and thoughts. I know you too can succeed in this area.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday Seven

Today our family is completing 15 years. I want to share 7 things my husband and I learned about marriage during this amazing time. Happy anniversary to my beloved husband and thank God for our marriage. 

1. We are the experts. When it comes to our marriage, Zeke and I are the experts. Experts pay attention to trends.They know strengths and weaknesses. We look to God and the Bible to guide us as we grow. We look to God and His word for sound advice.

2. Our role models are people we know. Our parents are our role models. We grew up in homes where God, marriage, and family were considered to be in high regard. We are thankful to and for our parents. Our role models are also people God placed in our lives during different ministry assignments. We have friends who have been married for 40-something years. Some have been married for 50. We cling to their wisdom. We watch their lives. We watch their adult children and we know their grandchildren. The role models God gave us are a force of encouragement, wisdom, and strength. 

3. Local Mentorship. We look for people who can look us in the eye and tell us the truth in love. We prefer local mentors to actively be part of our lives. We benefited so much from the sound advice from people who were near. These sweet couples gave us access to their lives. We also gave them access to ours. We thank God for the strong friendship bonds that developed. We have been so blessed to receive from the wisdom that came from decades of Christian marriage.

4. We believe in Counseling. We've been going to counseling since the beginning of our marriage. It helps and it works. Counseling is worth the investment because of the long-term benefits it gives a family. I wrote quite a bit about counseling if you are interested in all my thoughts on the subject. 

5. The killing power of covetousness. To covet is to strongly desire another's possessions. In marriage, it doesn't have to be a desire for another person. It may be their home, vacations, even lifestyle. There is lack of restraint when we fall into the trap of covetousness. This desire does not come from God. To put it simply, God doesn't give bad gifts. His desire is that we have contentment and joy. We learned to stay away from covetousness.

6. It's me and you, then the kids. We made a commitment to put one another first, even when those irresistable cute babies could have stayed with us in our room for years. We put one another first as a habit. We make our relationship a priority, even in seasons when we are so busy. We practice that in different ways. Our the relationship as a couple is our priority above all other relationships we have.

7. We have 100% chance to succeed in marriage if we do it God's way. This is our daily hope. God created families. He knows how they should work to the fullest. We look to God to continue to guide us as we press on to glorify Him through our marriage. This journey is about depending on God. We have a deep desire to please Him and honor the marriage He gave us.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

MWLISS: Performance

"Prior preparation prevents poor performance."  

I heard this quote during a WW virtual workshop, and I couldn't agree more. I decided that preparation was my focus for the week. I went to the store to purchase my groceries but first, I made a list ready to go. 

My grocery cart
My favorite grocery store at the moment is Aldi. I don't mind packing my own groceries. I enjoy finding new items as well as relying on old items I find there. My list included baking naan bread and making pizza from scratch so the kids and I worked on it. Oh, Aldi has great fresh flowers too. 
Naan bread rising

When I got home,  I decided to pre-pack the kids' lunch boxes and mine. I basically packed 4 days of lunches with fruit and side things suck as pretzels, pita chips, and the muffins we baked a few days ago. Preparing their lunch ahead of time saves me a lot of time and energy in the morning. 

pre-packing fun
I boiled a few eggs for my own breakfast. I also pre-measured fruit and other things I wanted to have during the week. The goal was to prepare to succeed. 
After all of that preparation (I also worked on two main meals), I got hungry so I had chicken, pita chips, grapes, and grapefruit. It was great! 
That evening, our family had butter chicken, naan bread, and salad for dinner. It was my first try and everyone was excited to eat hot naan bread. I still have to keep working on that recipe but for a first time attempt, it tasted great. 
I ate a lot of the same breakfast each day. Boiled eggs, Mexican cheese, and I sprinkled everything with everything bagel seasoning. I used the Ole Wrap I find at Aldi. It is only 1 point and it tastes good to me. I add oat milk to my coffee and it is just the best breakfast ever. 
I decided to have a crunchy snack one day so I had rice cake with peanut butter and bananas. I love this snack and I've had it for years. I think the entire thing was 4 points on Blue. 

I've been telling myself that I need to swim more. Well, this week, I prepared my things ahead of time and I went swimming. I love to swim. It is low impact and you can get 'in your own head' in a different way than when you are doing cardio in dry land. 
My kids love shrimp. Over the years, they've enjoyed spaghetti in evoo and garlic and shrimp. I made a spinach salad with a homemade salad dressing that was just lovely. We were super hungry that night too, which guaranteed that there were no leftovers. I measured everything I ate to be sure I was counting my points correctly. I had to stop myself from sampling the food as I was serving it to the family. 

cycling away
This week I've exercised more than I've done in the past month. I also realized that it has been a month since I ran my last marathon. I didn't run this week. I tried last week and I didn't feel I was fully ready to pound the pavement. So, I decided to cycle, swim, walk, and lift weights. It's been a joy. 

Another thing I did right was to get enough sleep at night. Last week, I failed at rest and I paid for it. I thought about all the work it takes to come up with a menu, shop, prep, eat, pack the kids' lunch, and make sure I take my own food to work. Oh, I ate out once this week too. Here is the result I got from the scale: 

woohoo! Getting closer to goal!
I was encouraged with the weight loss this week. I was even more encouraged with the way I felt because I decided to prepare for the week. 

I've been attending a lot of WW meetings lately. They really help me with my mindset and focus. I showed the charm I got in the mail during one of the meetings I was attending. The coach asked me, "what does this represent to you?"
I took a deep breath. No one had ever asked me that question before. I said: "Hard work, preparation, and persistence." That's when she said: "Prior preparation prevents poor performance."

I agree. Preparation works. I know that sometimes, you can't prepare perfectly. But I can think about my goal of arriving at a normal BMI. My decisions today need to reflect the goal I hope to attain in a few weeks. Thanks for joining me in the journey of losing the last 10 lbs my friends! 

WW start weight: 175 lbs
First Goal: 150 lbs
Second Goal: 146 lbs
Third Goal: 136 lbs  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Starting something new

Starting something new can be so difficult, even when you know it is so good for you. I remember the first time I took an intensive English class. My parents sacrificed a lot to enroll me in those classes. I spoke Brazilian Portuguese so if I was to have a chance to attend college in the U.S., I had to learn the language of the land. 

I took the bus, the subway then another bus to get there. I knew a little English but not fluently. I learned about grammar, writing, and pronunciation.

"Cintia, don't speak Portu-glish, speak English!" my teacher would tell me. I intentionally started pronouncing my words so English speakers could understand them.

Once I left the class, I would get back on the bus and admire the architecture of the downtown scenery of my beloved Rio de Janeiro. When I arrived home, I'd do my homework at the kitchen table. Even my leisure time was work time. I watched movies in English without looking at the subtitles. I was determined to learn English.

My entire teenage life adapted to those changes so I could live the life I now have.

2021 feels like starting something new. It feels difficult. My temptation is to live the exact life I lived in 2020. 

I was too busy for my own good. I was too angry and frustrated by life's circumstances. I didn't love as intentionally as I should have. I thought I was okay.

Each new year offers the possibility to start again, to try again, and to become the person God called us to be. It is just difficult at first. 

What to do?

1. Reflect. I am tempted to repeat the previous year without practicing reflection. When you think of your previous year, you have a clear picture of a closed chapter. You can also vote on what needs to stop and what needs to start.

2. Recognize. I need to know that God wants me to grow. Recognizing God's best plan for you will help you see that you have room to grow. You will realize that things can be better. We know this because God wants the best for us, always. He specializes in leading and guiding us the way we should go. We just to recognize we need to make a move.

3. Resolve. I need to be determined to follow an action plan. It can be as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep each night. It can be as complex as applying for a Ph.D. program. The goal is to make peace with having resolve. When you do, you will go far. Even if you look back, you will be so far away from where you started that you will have to keep going towards your goal.

When I think of those months going to English class, I realize that starting can be difficult yet empowering. There is power in starting. Don't despise small beginnings. They lead you to where God wants you to be.


Take the time to think about 2020. It is now a closed chapter. What do you need to stop doing? What are some habits you need to stop? Start? What are some friendships that need to stop? What are some friendships you need to invest on? What did you do well in 2020? Take the time to celebrate those victories. I challenge you to find something good, even if all you need to account for is the fact that you are still here on earth. 

God wants you to grow. How do you feel God calling to grow in your spiritual, emotional, physical life? Sometimes, growth comes from welcoming forgiveness and letting go of grudges. Take some time to think about how you can benefit from living a life of forgiveness. Grow also comes from recognizing our flaws. What are some character flaws God is calling you to let go of? List each one. Next to those, write down a list of qualities that will replace such flaws. 

Write down your action plan for 2021. It doesn't need to be complex. It can be as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep each night. It can be as complex as applying for a Ph.D. program. Once you write it down, keep it somewhere you can see often. It may be the screen saver of your cell phone. Take time to write down small action steps that will help you reach your goal. With each word you write, remember, you have what it takes to reach each dream, each goal.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The key ingredient to get organized

My pantry was disorderly for 13 months. I basically would shove items in there without looking back. I wished it was organized. I didn't do anything about it. 

I came to a breaking point when we had guests for Christmas. The guest couldn't find anything they needed and neither could I. Still, I kept the pantry the same way: messy. 

We went on vacation and when we can back, I found a free hour so I started organizing. 

I started by taking everything out of the pantry. I organized the spices alphabetically. I placed them in such a way that we all can see what we have with little effort. 

I threw away a lot of expired items. I downsized the huge amount of cinnamon I found. My coffee is happily stacked with coffee filters. I was surprised by the joy I felt when I closed the kitchen cabinets after admiring the work I did one last time.

Organizing is the best. Why didn't I do it before? Basically, I didn't have time. When I don't have time, I just go with the flow.

Lack of time is the number one reason why some spaces in my home are not organized. Time really is a key ingredient when it comes to organization.

Another key ingredient is the resources you use while organizing. I believe in using what I have. In this case, I used a trash can, my own counter and a sponge to clean the cabinets once they were empty. 

I don't think that buying more clutter can make you more organized. Sometimes we do need to purchase a few things but if going to the store is going to steal from organization time, I choose to stay home and do the work. 

Find the time and use what you have. You will see immediate results that way.

I must warn you that I know my kitchen cabinet will need to be organized again. I'm okay with that. My main goal is to get to a place where organizing my home is a habit, not an event.

Sure, some areas of my home might be a bit neglected now. Never fear: as soon as I have one hour at my disposal, I will dedicate all my attention to decluttering the space so I can use it to my advantage. 

Question: what is the top area of your home that needs to be decluttered? When can you dedicate 1 hour to do that?