Monday, January 31, 2011

Have a happy Monday with...a good book

When I was a waitress, I used to love Mondays.  Monday meant the restaurant was closed and I had one full, glorious day off; I could catch up on sleep, tidy up my apartment, go shopping, read a book, do whatever I wanted.  But since my career goals took me away from restaurants and into the 9-to-5 grind, I've come to dislike Mondays as much as anyone.

But this blog isn't about what sucks, it's about being healthy and part of being emotionally healthy (happy healthy) is to find the things in life that make me happy.  So to counteract the Monday blues, each week I'm going to post about something that makes me happy.  Whether big or small, there are so many wonderful things in my life that make me happy but sometimes I need to slow down and actually focus on those things, which is what I'm going to do here.

For the inaugural Happy Monday, I'm going to start with books.  (Surprise, surprise.)

I love reading and I love books.  I've read a lot of books, across many genres, my many authors.  I have my favourites (Reginald Hill, Terry Pratchett) and I have my must-read lists (Never Let Me Go, V for Vendetta) and I have no problem indulging in a guilty pleasure read every now and then (whatever is offered for free for my Kobo), but every so often I come across a book that stays with me; a book that I didn't want to end, because the story was just so good I wanted it to keep going, forever and ever; a book that I want to read again and again, but don't want to read again because I'm still enjoying it two years later.

The book in question?  The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

It's been about two years since I finished it and I think about it constantly.  It is a beautifully written story spanning three generations and takes you across Eastern Europe on a hunt for Dracula.  Oh, and there's a love story in there too.  It's everything Twilight wants to be but is not.*   This book is the perfect mash-up of literary and genre fiction and if you haven't yet read it, GO READ IT NOW.  RIGHT NOW!  GO!

Realizing now how much I still think about this book makes me aware of how happy it made me when I read it and I think it's time to pick it up again, because it makes me so very happy.

*I will respect your right to love Twilight, as long as you respect my right to mock it relentlessly. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And so it begins

I've just finished weighing myself to start off my weight loss/savings challenge.

My starting weight: 200.2 lb.

I've also taken measurements:

Chest: 42.5"
Waist: 35"
Hips: 43.25"

I must say, I'm not thrilled with any of these numbers so this should act as extra incentive to eat better and exercise more.  I've also got to start paying more attention to portion sizes and how many servings I'm eating each day.

You know, the whole idea of being healthy seems so easy: just eat right and exercise.  The exercise part I'm good at; I use the gym in the condo and we've got equipment in our unit so I have no (real) excuse to not exercise.  But the eating part is kind of hard; portion sizes, calories, proper servings, sodium, fat,'s a lot to think about.

I can do this.  I can make the right changes and I can meet my goals and it will be awesome!

After all, I've got money riding on this.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Down 30 and up 300

So I've (pretty much) gotten over my scale disappointment from Sunday.  Onward and upward!  (Downward?)

I had an idea the other day and the more I think about it, the more I like it.  I want to lose weight and I also want to improve my financial health (which I haven't talked much about - I'm waiting until tax time to really get into the money).  But one financial goal is to save more, so I've decided to combine my weight loss and money gain goals.

Here's the challenge:

I want to lose 30 lb.  For every pound I lose, I'm going to put $10 in my savings account.  By the time I'm down 30 lbs I should be up $300 (plus interest, thanks to my high interest savings account).  And then, when I reach both goals, I can treat myself to something pretty to fit my new shape.

I'll weigh in every Sunday night and my first recorded weigh-in will be this Sunday.  And I'll share that, not because I want everyone to know, but because if I put it out there, it will make this seem more real.  It puts the accountability back on me and I need to be more accountable.  Then on Monday, if I'm down at least a pound, then it's $10 into savings.

Now it's really time to start eating right, working out regularly and taking care of myself.  And, just like that, I'll be down 30 and up 300.  Oh yeah!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's weighing on my mind

My attempts at getting healthy are focused more on making lifestyle changes that I can stick with, rather than setting hard goals.  Is that smart?  I'm not sure, but here's the rationale for doing it this way:

By aiming to make lifestyle changes, I will find ways to be healthy overall and not only achieve better physical, mental and financial health but also develop the habits I need to maintain my new-found health.

I was worried that if I set hard goals and didn't meet them, I'd feel discouraged and give up (what can I say, I know myself).

Thing is, I can't know if any of my changes are actually helping without at least knowing where I'm starting from.  Since I've been on the physical health kick lately, I decided to weigh myself today.

Feet = not mine/Reaction = mine

I knew the number would not be good, but I thought it would be better than it was.  I'm so upset by it that I can't bring myself to share it, even if there are only about three people who would read it here (and one person I live with and another I used to live with).

And now, after seeing what I weigh, I feel discouraged.  I feel like I can't do anything to make a difference.  I feel like it's all pointless and why even bother?

It's a conundrum, really.  To know I'm making progress, I need to know the starting point.  But knowing the starting point is discouraging and now I feel like I can't do it.  Sigh.

I'll get over it; I always feel like this after weighing myself and I always get happier eventually.  But even if I don't share my weight, I know what it is and I'm going to have to keep weighing myself to see if my healthy changes are working.  Maybe, eventually, I'll feel ready to share.

(Numbers will matter more, though, when it comes to my finances and financial health.  I'll be focusing on that more soon.)

Cleanliness is next to happiness

I am not a neat-freak.  Never have been, never will be.  That said, I do appreciate a clean, tidy and well-organized home.  (But it should also looked lived-in; I get freaked out when I'm in someone's home and everything is so perfect that I feel terrified to breathe too much.) 

I try to keep things clean and tidy, because I want to be ready just in case I get a call one afternoon from friends who are in the area and could they pop 'round for a cup of tea and a chat?  While the odds of this happening are about eleventy-billion*-to-one, I like the idea of being ready just in case.  Another reason this is important to me is because my mental happiness is increased greatly if the condo is presentable. 

When I moved in about a year ago, the Beau had been living in his condo for about five years.  Anyone who has lived alone for even a fraction of that time knows that you not only accumulate things over five years but you fill the space you have with what you accumulate over five years.  We worked together and purged and tidied and reorganized and have had a great set-up since I arrived; we've even been able to rearrange the furniture a couple of times, which is a pretty great option to have in a Toronto condo.

So, despite our condo-sized space and plethora of stuff, we've been able to find a happy medium of tidy and keeping the place tidy makes me happy, so this year I'm going to work on keeping a happy level of tidy at all times.  Really, it's as simple as spending 10 minutes after work hanging my clothes up and washing my lunch containers.  And it will be worth it for that one time I get that call, saying "How about we come by for tea?"

*"That's not even a real number"

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Blargh.  This past week, my body couldn't decide if it wanted to be sick or not so I've felt borderline awful for most of it.  It may sound weird, but I'd prefer to get sick because if you get sick, you get better.  If you get kind-of sick, you get kind-of better and being kind-of better more than kind-of sucks.

Needless to say, my good eating and exercise habits have suffered this week.  I've still tried to be mindful of what I've eaten (especially since I haven't worked out since last weekend) but when I'm feeling lousy, sometimes only comfort food will do.  I have managed to get lots of veggies in my system, though, so hopefully that will help me get better.

Also, today I bought a pedometer that will (apparently) also tell me how many calories I burn in a day.  I'm curious to see what my daily calorie burn is, but I'm more curious to see how many steps I take in a day.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that 10,000 steps a day is the target for healthy living.  Somehow I doubt I'm anywhere near that, so it will be good to see just how short I fall.

In the meantime, I'm going to have some tea, watch some TV and cuddly the kitty.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lazy Sunday = happy Sunday

I'm having a lazy day today and I'm not feeling guilty about it at all.  Usually on Sundays, I start to feel anxious about the upcoming work week and if I've got everything ready for it and if I've done enough chores around the house to make the weekend feel "productive" - but not today.  Today is all about doing whatever I do (or don't) want to do.
Kitty needs a lazy day too.

It just so happened that the Beau was out of town overnight Friday so I stayed in and spent the  While perhaps not the ideal plans for a Friday, I have to say it made the rest of the weekend feel more weekend-y.  With the bathroom clean, laundry caught up, dishes away and floors vacuumed, Saturday suddenly became free for fun things, which led into Sunday being free for laziness. 

Unless we have specific plans to go out, the Beau and I often find ourselves home on Friday nights, watching TV, reading, just hanging out together.  This weekend I discovered that spending a few hours cleaning on a Friday night really opens up the rest of the weekend and helps me feel less guilty for spending two full days not thinking about domestic tasks.  I just might have to become that exciting person who cleans on Friday nights!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eating good and stuff

I kicked off my healthy eating today and it was great!

(One day down, the rest of my life to go!)

In my endeavour to get in shape/lose weight/be physically healthier I've decided to go with low g.i. foods.  I'm not following the G.I. Diet, as I'm not looking for a diet so much as a lifestyle change.  G.I. stands for glycemic index and determines how carbs affect the body's blood sugar levels.  Foods that are low on the g.i. scale will keep your blood sugar lower, meaning you don't crash and get cravings for sweet, sugary stuff.

Eating low g.i. foods won't be that hard for me, as most of what I eat is considered low g.i.: whole grain bread, veggies, the few fruits I can choke down, lean meat, cheese, milk, whole wheat pasta, stuff like that.  As long as I avoid the white bread/potato/rice (but not basmati, thankfully)/processed stuff, I'm good.  It's my weakness for pizza that could be my downfall.

The other catch is portion size.  It doesn't matter that I'm eating whole wheat pasta if I'm eating half the package.  But I'm taking this in baby steps.  Right now, I'm going to focus more on the low g.i. foods, particularly good options for lunch.  I'm currently bringing great big delicious salads for lunch but a girl cannot live on salad alone so I'll have to find something else that will fill me up at lunch but isn't bad carby.

Once I've got the food thing down I'm going to really focus on portions.  Deep down, I know this is my Achilles heel in the whole weight loss thing but I'm going to work at this.  I'll likely get a kitchen scale so I can properly weigh things and really know what a portion size is and how much I should be eating.  And I won't sneak tasty bits from the chocolate drawer either - although, oddly enough, Snickers bars are low g.i.  I haven't had a Snickers bar in a very long time but if they now come in dark chocolate, I could be in trouble.  It's probably best if I just stay away completely.

I'm also lucky that the Beau is on board with this too (particularly because he does almost all the cooking in our household).  He's going to make sure we keep low g.i. foods in the house so he can not just cook with them but make them extra delicious (it's what he does).  It's great having his support and encouragement and it also helps me because I feel accountable to him.  I know he won't kick me out if I have a potato chip or three, but I feel that if he's making an effort I really should too.

Off to bed soon - sleep is another part of my health plans but I'll talk about that later.

Good night!

Healthy New Year

Now that my not-so-wee brother's birthday has passed, it's time for me to hunker down and focus on the year ahead.  2010 was a pretty great year for me with lots of big changes - turning 30! moved in with my boyfriend! got a promotion! - and I'm ready to make 2011 awesome too.  Right now, the big thing for me this year is health: physical, mental and financial.

Overall, my goals are quite simple.  Physically, I want to get into better shape.  Mentally, I want to make time for things that I really enjoy and stop stressing and worrying about everything.  Financially, I want to eliminate my remaining consumer debt and really start chipping away at the rest of my student loans.

In practice, though, these goals are going to require a bit more work.

I've been waffling over the idea of blogging about my health goals because I generally fail out pretty quickly (both with the blogging and the goal-reaching).  I should say that I'm a big fan of accountability and will always 'fess up to things when they need 'fessing up to.  But it's scary to be accountable to myself.  It's so easy to set these goals in my mind or on paper or on a blog or even with my boyfriend but it's harder for me to hold myself accountable when I slip a little or fail out completely.

Thing is, I really want to achieve all these things rather badly so I think it's high time to start holding myself accountable (but not stress about it too much!) and spend this year achieving these goals.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy birthday little brother!

 My little brother turned 21 today.  There was a time when he was wee and I helped coach his t-ball team.
He's the one in the awesome red shorts, on the far right, beside Mom.
He's not wee anymore.

A big happy 21st birthday to the bestest brother ever!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a brand new year

Tomorrow is my brother's birthday, which for me marks the end of the holiday season.  I've been in post-Christmas mode for awhile now but once the bro's birthday passes it really feels like the new year.

And I've got plans for this year.  After tomorrow, I'm going to get into those plans a bit more - this is gonna be a good year!