Happy New Year dear friends! How's the resolutions coming? Brrrr! We finally are getting our winter. The old thermometer hasn't crept over the twenty degree mark for a couple of days but the sky is a beautiful pale blue sash above the snow. Putting up with the cold is a small price to pay for such beauty! Besides, we are toasty inside thanks to the wood stove. And a pot of beans simmering on the top is pretty much as close to bliss as a person can get here on earth. Life is good!
The clean slate of a new year is the perfect time to set new goals. This year besides the usual of losing weight and saving more money, the one main goal for myself is to set aside some time each day to be creative. I thrive on creativity and if I don't have a project going, I feel antsy. Some would say after looking at some of my attire, that I am "too" creative. Ha! I believe that every day is dress-up day. Guess I never got over the fun of playing dress-up from childhood, so one day you may see me dressed as a Jane Austen heroine with my hair done up and wearing a cameo, other times I'm Annie Oakley, and yet other times I don a fur hat and pretend I'm Zhivago's Lara. Life is short have fun with it! Here's a picture of the penny rug I made during the first week of my creative year:
Anyway, back to setting goals, you know the old adage that those that fail to plan, plan to fail? Well, a truer statement has never been said. If you just "wing it" you probably won't have much success.
Some might laugh at me giving dieting advice, Audrey Hepburn I'm not. Having hypothyroidism, I have the metabolism of a sloth. I must keep my calorie count between 1200 to 1500 and walk at least three miles a day just to maintain my weight, which many would say is a diet, so in a way, I guess I do know a thing or two about dieting. Really all one needs to do to lose weight is to keep their calories between that range (unless you are me, I need to keep my to around 900 to lose weight) and exercise. Now days the nutrition information is printed on everything, so it's not hard to keep track. Plus you can find the numbers on the internet. For homemade meals, you just add up all the calories in the ingredients and then divide it by the number of servings. All you really need is a little notebook to diet. Just write everything down that you eat and keep track of the calories. When you reach your calorie intake for the day, stop eating. Really it's that simple Technically, you could eat three candy bars a day, if that is all that you ate, and still lose weight, but you wouldn't feel very well and would soon be sick. So here's some tips that I've discovered over the years:
1. Keep a notebook of everything you eat and be truthful. Even that taste out of the pot counts. Plus the very fact that I must write it down, keeps me from putting things in my mouth.
2. Go for the bang for the buck. For instance bread isn't all that nutritious and it really doesn't add much to the flavor, so why use it? You can eat a sandwich or a hamburger in a lettuce wrap or just the meat on the side. I never eat the rice when having Chinese food. Rice doesn't do a thing for me. Don't waste your calories on things that aren't either nutritious or delicious. This reminds me of way back when, my boys loved Pop Tarts and I toast up one myself from time to time, then one day I noticed the calorie information on the side of the box. Around 400 calories! They certainly didn't give me 400 calories of satisfaction. Never touched them from that day forward. Pop (or soda) is another thing. At almost 300 calories a glass, it just isn't worth it to me.
3. Delay. If there's something I'm really craving but is loaded with calories, I delay eating it for a while. Sometimes I forget all about it.
4. Take a little taste. If you just have to have a slice of that cake or whatever it is that is driving you crazy, take just a small bite. Just enough to satisfy your taste buds. You don't have to eat an entire cake slice or an entire candy bar. Just take a taste.
5. Don't eat after six PM. It's OK to go to bed with a growling stomach. Just imagine it's a little animal inside you eating up all your fat cells.
6. Take up a hobby. I love potato chips, something about the crunch and salt just drives me crazy. I won't even bring them into the house because I know if I eat one, I'm going to eat half the bag. So I sew or knit, etc. and other things that require me to have clean grease-free hands. Can't do them and eat chips at the same time.
7. Eat at the table. Set a proper table to have your meals. It slows you down and you become mindful of what you are eating. I know that when I'm eating on the run, the food just gets scarfed down and I never feel full or satisfied.
8. Chart your progress. I make a graph of my weight loss. It's very satisfying to see the downward movement.
9. Take your measurements. I hit a plateau that lasted for two years, that no matter what I tried to do I couldn't lose even a pound. I even tried not eating at all but nothing happened. You know those people that say they had the flu for a week and lost twenty pounds? Yeah, that's not me. But the one thing that kept me from chucking the whole diet thing was that I could see by looking at my measurements (and baggy clothes) that I was getting smaller, regardless of what the scale said.
10. Find exercise that is fun. If it isn't fun, you'll find yourself making excuses for not doing it. So find something you enjoy, it doesn't have to be something traditional. Maybe you like hula dancing or climbing trees. Just start moving.
11. Drink lot of pure fresh water. Sometimes our bodies are telling us that we're hungry when in truth we are just thirsty. Plus water fills you up. Have a big glassful before eating.
12. Learn what true hunger feels like. You might have to go without food for a couple of days to discover this. It's not the stomach growling hunger, but you'll actually feel a pain in your stomach when you are truly hungry. If we would only eat when we are truly hungry, we wouldn't have any weight problems.
13. Learn what triggers your eating. Many of us our emotional eaters. I know that when I am anxious, I start to look for something to stuff in my mouth. For others it may be boredom or sadness. Figure out what makes you tick and you'll save a lot of calories.
14. And finally, stop the self-defeating attitude. I know that weight loss for myself is near impossible. My doctor has even told me as much, but every day I get up and think that this is the day the scale is going to register a little less and I'm going to do something to make it possible. I'll probably never be 110 pounds again, but even if I only lose two pounds a year, I know in five years I'll weigh ten pounds less.
Again a little notebook is your best friend. Write down every penny you spend for a month. Every little thing from a postage stamp to the quarter you drop in the charity boxes that are set up near every register (the pet shelter ones are the ones that get me). Once you've gathered all the data, you'll know where you're money goes. I was surprised to learn that we spend around $20 a month on postage. So now I budget for that.
After you figured out what you spend your money on, the next step is making a budget. Many prices are fixed, such as mortgages, rent, car payments, etc, so write them down first. Now with the remaining money, set an amount for the rest; food, heating, electricity, etc. and don't forget the non-monthly bills such as car insurance and property taxes. For those items divide the amount by 12 and immediately put that money into your savings account. I would say that if you are easily tempted to spend that money, you should start a separate savings account just for earmarked expenditures. On items such as food and clothing, take the money from you checking account and put them in envelopes. That way, you can physically see how much you have to spend. Seeing you only have $20 bill in your pocket and ten days until the end of the month, certainly keeps you from spending it on donuts. On the other hand, if you can get by on less, it's nice to carry it over to the next month, or better yet, put into your savings. Also, make sure that you set up an emergency fund. Things break. Last year we spent over 1/3 of our income on repairs to our cars and the furnace. While that's an anomaly, you should always have at least 5-10% of your income set aside for such emergencies depending upon your income.. New tires aren't going to magically appear you know. I wrote about how to pay off your credit cards here. And don't forget to budget for clothing even if you buy everything at thrift stores or think there is nothing you need. You need new underwear and socks from time to time. Once in a while something gets stained or torn. It doesn't have to be much but you have to be realistic. And always put some money into savings. It might only be ten dollars, just as long as you are moving forward, that's the important thing. Forego things like dining out and movies to meet that goal. I'd say get rid of the cable too. Sell something or do an odd job to meet the goal. Sit in the dark so your electricity bill is lower. Whenever you find yourself becoming too comfortable, readjust your lifestyle a little lower.
THRIFTY THING I DID THIS WEEK
I won a beautiful scarf from the The Foothills of The Great Smoky Mountains blog. Thank you Toni! It was beautiful!
Sold five things on Ebay with their no fee offer (BTW the scarf sold for $138)
Made a penny rug from wool pieces given to me from my friend Mary.
Harvested parsley from our garden (yes, it was still alive under the snow)
Bought 3 one pound bags of kidney beans on sale for 89 cents a bag from Aldis.
Made a batch of baked beans on top of the woodstove. Free heat!
Started a sampler with supplies I had.
Turned the heat down even lower at night to save on heating costs. Our heating cost for December was $25.
Rearranged the furniture to take better advantage of the sun's warmth.
Bottled up some homemade cider vinegar. It was supposed to be apple brandy (made from windfalls) but we forgot about it and it turned to vinegar. It's very good vinegar .
By now I'm sure you are tired of reading about the wood heat, clothes drying, eating from the pantry etc.. So let's just say those all are givens. Well I hope you have a lovely and safe week ahead!