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Posts Tagged ‘self-improvement’

The rule focused on for Week 1 of the Tranquility by Tuesday challenge was Give Yourself a Bedtime. I knew from the start that committing to a bedtime was going to be tough for me. Since the beginning of the new year, I have been going to bed whenever I feel like it, and sometimes it has been 1:00 in the morning by the time I climb into bed for my evening slumber. I no longer have an established morning routine, and I rarely set an alarm since leaving my instructional coaching job, but I manage to get enough sleep.

Laura mentioned (in a recent blog post about Rule #1) that she chose it first “because it’s important to get enough sleep and a regular bedtime gives structure to the day.” I could not agree more and was happy to start with this rule because as I mentioned in my post, “My RESULTS of the 2023 Time Tracking Challenge,” I want a more structured daily routine (M-F), especially in the mornings and throughout the day. 

Before the week started, I pondered the planning questions for Rule #1 that Laura sent us on Friday, 20 January and made a plan for the week.

  • What time would you like to wake up most mornings? 6:00 AM
  • About how many hours of sleep do you need on an average night? 7 hours
  • What time do you generally need to be in bed in order to get this amount of sleep? 11:00 PM
  • About how much time do you need before your bedtime to relax and get ready? 30 minutes
  • What might keep you from going to bed at your bedtime? working on video projects for my YouTube channel
  • How do you plan to address these challenges? no idea

RESULTS

    I am thrilled that I continued time tracking along with this challenge because I averaged 7.5 hours of sleep not 7 hours. This is huge because I now have to readjust the time I start winding down and going to sleep by a half hour or decide to wake up at 6:30 instead of 6:00 in the morning.

    My time tracking log also revealed the reasons for staying up later than 11:00 PM. On Friday night, I showered at 10:30 and from 11:00-11:45, I played on my phone, scrolling through social media. On Monday night, I showered at 10:15 and from 10:35-11:30, I edited a video. On Tuesday night, I showered at 8:45 and from 9:15-11:45, I was either scrolling on social media or watching YouTube videos. On Thursday night, I attended my improv class from 6:00-8:00; showered at 9:25, and from 9:50-11:50, I edited a video.

    REFLECTION

    On Thursday I received reflection questions from Laura to review how well I did with giving myself a bedtime. I did not go to sleep one single night at 11:00 PM. I missed the mark EVERY single night. Boy, do I have my work cut out for me!

    • How did observing a bedtime affect you this week? more conscious of trying to go to bed on time
    • What challenges did you face in implementing this week’s strategy? me (only see this after reviewing my time tracking log)
    • How did you deal with these challenges? sadly, I didn’t deal with it, but I can from this point on
    • If you were not able to observe a bedtime, what prevented you from doing so? getting sucked into playing on my phone (effortless fun) and continuing to work on my videos past my bedtime
    • If you needed to modify the rule, how did you do so? n/a
    • How likely are you to continue observing a bedtime? very likely; I need to take this rule more seriously

    Additionally, I realized that I do NOT have a good winding down routine. I did try to set an alarm to stop working on Monday night; however, when the alarm went off, I was right in the middle of what I was working on and did not want to stop. I still think an alarm is effective; however, I will need to set it for at least 15 minutes earlier than the time I ideally want to stop and start winding down before bedtime. I also think I need some sort of transition to signal my brain that it is time to wind down for the evening. Of course, this will take trial and error over the next few weeks.

    Participating in this challenge has been enjoyable, dear reader. I am discovering some interesting information about myself. This is definitely a know yourself better experiment. Going forward with Rule #1, I need to readjust my bedtime if I want to wake up at 6:00 AM, be more intentional with observing a regular bedtime (set a timer), create a transition to wind down before bed, and eliminate phone time prior to winding down. With a bit of practice and the right attitude, I really think I can make giving myself a bedtime a good habit. Happiness!

    “If you would like to experience the additional energy and optimism that comes from being well rested, choose a time that you would like to go to sleep more nights than not. Then, commit to getting in bed by that time unless you have a compelling reason not to.” ~ Laura Vanderkam, Tranquility by Tuesday

    Note: Photo at the top is by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com.

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    Greetings, dear reader! I am currently reading Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam. It is #20 on my 23 for 2023 List. I also started the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge today. I am proud to say that I am one of the 150 participants in Laura’s time study that produced the results she writes about in her book. I am super excited to read her book and to participate in the 2023 Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge.

    I filmed a short video about the challenge for my channel, Kat’s Novel Adventures, and want to share it with you. It explains the challenge, mentions the 9 rules, and the planning questions for the first rule. You do not need to read the book in order to participate, and there is still time to join the challenge. Just click on Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge (2023) to join.

    I am also continuing to track my time this week and have a feeling I will be tracking my time through the first few days of February. My hope is that with tracking my time and participating in this challenge, I can finally get caught up, achieve some balance, and make a real effort to get organized. I love everything I am doing right now in my life; however, I am burning the candle at both ends, not exercising, and starting to feel a bit stressed. I am ready to “calm the chaos and make time for what matters.” Happiness!

    “The good news is that everything becomes easier over time, as the grooves of habit wear deep.” ~ Laura Vanderkam, Tranquility by Tuesday

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    It has been quite awhile since my last health-related post (23 November), so let me bring you up to speed, dear reader. I successfully completed JOB1 which I REALLY enjoyed. I loved the schedule, the length of the workouts, most of the exercises, and the instructor, Jennifer Jacobs. I have not committed to a new fitness program through Beachbody on Demand, yet. I am time-tracking next week, starting on 09 January. Time-tracking is a wonderful way for me to see how I am spending my time. Then, I will choose a program. In the meantime, I will be researching the programs I am interested in and walking for exercise.

    Back in November, I visited my OB/GYN for my annual well-woman visit where we also discussed menopause and the symptoms I was experiencing. I had brought a list of labs (ordered by Dr. Bone for her menopausal patients) with me to my appointment. Dr. Robin Bone is the OB/GYN that Molly Kimball interviewed on her podcast, FUELED: wellness + nutrition with Molly Kimball. My doctor ordered the following labs from the list (see below) but added Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy and D2. A word of caution, make sure that when requesting labs for Vitamin D 25 -Hydroxy, D2 + D3 that it is coded as medically necessary and covered by insurance because it is very expensive. I did NOT know this until after my bloodwork was done, and my insurance company processed my claim. Fingers crossed that I will not have to pay the difference since I only requested Vitamin D3.

    • Thyroid panel
    • Lipid panel
    • CBC
    • C-reactive protein
    • Vitamin D3
    • Hemoglobin A1C
    • Hormones include FSH, estradiol, progesterone, testosterone or free testosterone

    I scheduled a follow-up appointment when I received my results, and we discussed them. Most of my results look great, but there are areas in need of improvement. I am postmenopausal (ovaries no longer producing eggs); however, I have to go all the way through 19 June of this year without a cycle before I can say I am finished with menopause. I am considered prediabetic; however, diet modification, less processed carbs, and more movement can help me improve this area. My liver function is slightly elevated, so my doctor ordered a hepatitis panel, and it came back with no hepatitis. Thank goodness! While my calcium and albumin are also slightly elevated, my LDL (cholesterol) is very high and concerning. Even though the rest of my cholestorol components are terrific and the high LDL may be genetic, it needs to be addressed. Therefore, I have an appointment scheduled to see an endocrinologist in February, who will address the cholesterol, as well as the liver, calcium, and albumin results. I plan to ask him if he can run the C-reactive protein lab (determines inflammation in the blood) which my OB/GYN doctor was unable to order.

    My doctor prescribed hormone replacement therapy which I started on Monday. She also recommended I check out Dr. Mary Claire Haver on Instagram. She is a board-certified OB/GYN who helps women dealing with perimenopause and menopause. She has a new book, The Galveston Diet, coming out on Tuesday, 10 January, which I preordered. We shall see if she has some helpful information that will benefit me on my health journey.

    HEALTHY RECIPE

    I have another recipe to share with you that I found on Molly Kimball’s Facebook page. It is a healthy Creamy Fruit Dip. Even though Molly featured this recipe during the summer, I made it during the holidays. Delicious, in my opinion! It requires four ingredients and is SUPER easy to make. This dip also pairs well with a variety of fruits.

    Blend the following ingredients in a bowl.

    • 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
    • 8 ounces of reduced-fat cream cheese
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    • your choice of no-calorie sweetner (1/2 cup of Swerve Confectioners Style Sweetner recommended)

    Pair this healthful and flavorful dip with your preferred fresh fruit. If you decide to try it, please let me know.

    It is a new year, and I am ready to CREATE a fresh start, dear reader. CREATE is my one-word theme this year. The definition of create that is connected to my health goals is cause (something) to happen as a result of one’s actions. The way I am going to sow the seeds of a healthy life is by developing lifelong healthy habits by eating properly, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. I have taken initial steps by getting my bloodwork done, seeing all of my doctors in 2022, starting hormone replacement therapy, and buying The Galveston Diet book. My last weigh-in was Monday morning at 154 pounds. I have gained 1/2 pound back since 23 November; so my overall weight loss is 8 pounds since 01 June 2022. January 2023 is my official reset date.

    Dear reader, have a wonderful Wednesday! What are your plans, goals, or dreams that you have set for yourself in 2023? I wish you nothing but the best as you strive to reach your goals and make your dreams a reality. Just remember to enjoy the journey along the way. Happiness!

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle.

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    What an AWESOME reading experience! I have been wanting to revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle since 2021. Thankfully, I not only read it again (for the third time), but I also buddy read it with my sister Rachel over the course of four months. She set up Zoom meetings for the duration of the book, and we met online on Wednesday evenings. I also listened to Eckhart Tolle’s podcast episodes with Oprah for each chapter and took notes to incorporate in our discussions.

    For me, A New Earth is the perfect book to read when feeling overwhelmed, wanting to make a change, or struggling in an area (in my case areas) of life. Unfortunately, I have been on the struggle bus for some time. I seem to end one season of sacrifice, just to enter another one shortly afterwards. Since 2022 has been all about CHANGE (my one-word theme for the year), my life desperately needed to undergo another transformation, an awakening boost, a reminder to be present. By having my sister join me on this reading adventure, her ideas and knowledge from her own spiritual journey helped me tremendously. This was Rachel’s first time reading A New Earth; however, she read his book, The Power of Now, so she was already familiar with Tolle’s spiritual teachings and the practice of being in the present moment.

    A New Earth has 10 chapters with the first chapter setting the stage by explaining human consciousness, the purpose of the book, and the need for transformation, not only within ourselves, but also within the world around us. From there, the next three chapters explore the ego, its core, and its many faces. When most people think ego, they associate it with arrogance or being braggadocious, and that is one way ego presents itself. However, complaining, resentment, faultfinding, playing the victim, and negative self-talk are other examples of the ego. The “illusory sense of self” is the ego.

    Chapters 5 and 6 tackle the pain-body and breaking free from it. Eckhart Tolle states, “Because of the human tendency to perpetuate old emotion, almost everyone carries in his or her energy field an accumulation of old emotional pain, which I call “the pain-body” (140). The pain-body is your story, your emotional baggage from the past, and it can wreak havoc on your thinking. As Tolle explains, “Whenever you get taken over by the pain-body, whenever you don’t recognize it for what it is, it becomes part of your ego. Whatever you identify with turns into ego” (181).

    Thankfully, we can break free from our painbodies, but it takes work, especially if you have a huge one. Personally, I am still working on breaking free from my own pain-body. My meetings with Rachel helped significantly when reading and discussing these chapters because we share a childhood and similar events that have contributed to our pain-bodies. I think it is also important to pay close attention to when your pain-body resurfaces. Mine tends to become more prevalent when I am exhausted or feeling overwhelmed. My ego tells me to throw in the towel and quit because I am wasting my time. Sadly, I am listening more and more to my ego. Part of it is because the year is winding down, and I am extremely disappointed with myself for not reaching goals or not being more ahead of the game. I had plenty of expectations, and I do not feel like I have met them. Therefore, with the last two weeks left of 2022, I need to sit with myself in the present moment and reflect on my year. I know as I write about my feelings of failure that my ego is loving me being hard on myself. However, I recognize the feelings I am having right now stems from the ego, so I thank the ego and kick it to the curb. I have to finish this post, and I really do not have the time or energy to deal with my ego’s game. HA!

    Chapter 7 is an important chapter. It is about finding out who you truly are, knowing yourself, knowing about yourself, and developing a relationship with the NOW (the present moment). Eckhart says, “The decision to make the present moment into your friend is the end of the ego…Time is what the ego lives on” (201). He further explains, “Fear, anxiety, expectation, regret, guilt, anger are the dysfunctions of the time-bound state of consciousness” (202). And, I can take this idea a step further with examining what influences some of those emotions which my sister shared with me. Sadness is influenced by the lack of something; anger is influenced by the identification or attachment to something or someone; and anxiety is influenced by the feeling of not having control. Once she shared this nugget of wisdom with me, which makes so much sense, I can now acknowledge what is influencing my emotion, thank the ego for pointing it out, and give myself grace. Rachel also shared that last part with me as well. Dear reader, this has been immensely helpful to me. I am practicing it right now by writing this blog post.

    Chapters 8-10 is all about discovering inner space and learning to enjoy the present moment, realizing that your inner purpose is to awaken, and putting the three modalities of awakened doing into your daily life. Eckhart emphasizes the importance of those modalities when he states, “If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others” (295). Let us be clear that when we use the term acceptance we do not mean that we are in total agreement with a situation, but rather that we accept a situation as “what is” in the present moment and willingly take action to deal with it. For example, if I get a flat tire, I accept that I have a flat tire and it is inconvenient instead of getting angry, or ranting and raving while kicking the flat tire. All of those negative shenanigans (fueled by the ego) do not make me feel better about the situation (the flat tire) or actually fix the tire. I do not have to like that I have a flat tire, but I can accept it in order to willingly (calmly) take action to get my tire fixed and continue with my day.

    I have awakened, dear reader, and have been since I first read A New Earth 12 years ago; however, I am a work in progress. I needed a kick in the pants so to speak. I can recognize my ego in myself and in others. One of my biggest stumbling blocks I have with ego is dealing with other people’s egos, especially family members. I must be better at evaluating their egos and why they are acting a fool. Then, accept their behavior in the present moment and not react with my ego. It does not mean I have to like their behavior or them for that matter. I strive to be present, smile, acknowledge the interaction is temporary, and enjoy the moment. Harder said than done, but necessary if I want a joyful life. Happiness!

    “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle,  A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

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    It’s Wednesday, dear reader! And, in the United States, it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There is a great deal to be thankful for in my life, including you, dear reader. I appreciate you being a part of my blogging adventure.

    The last three weeks have been hectic for me with daily commitments and appointments. I had a procedure done on my dental implant which caused some mouth soreness for almost a full week. A follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon has been scheduled for next Wednesday afternoon. If all looks good, I will schedule an appointment with my dentist sometime in December to make an impression to order my implant crown. I also got my annual mammogram which came back with good results. Gals, it’s important to get your yearly mammogram despite having your boobies squashed. In addition, I had to take my dog Comet aka Tooty to the vet for his annual visit which involved senior bloodwork. It looks like additional testing will be needed to rule out a few issues.

    After three weeks, I have finally started a new 4-week program on Beachbody on Demand called Job1. The instructor and creator of this program is Jennifer Jacobs. I have only completed two workouts this week, but I already like Jennifer’s instruction, energy, and attitude. There are five workouts per week, and each workout is literally 20 minutes. There are three strength training days, a HIIT day, and a cardio day. If any of you are like me and did not know what HIIT means, it stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Oh boy, it has earned its name! HIIT was my workout yesterday, and it was intense for me, but I loved it. Of course, the only exercises I cannot do are ones where my wrists are bearing my weight. There has only been one so far, and I substituted the move with squats.

    The program does require dumbells and resistance loops. I purchased the 12″ resistance loops, which comes in a package of three, from the shop on Beachbody.com’s website. Thus far, I have only used dumbells, but anticipate using the resistance loops at some point in the remaining workouts for this week.

    I should also mention that there are five additional Overtime Workouts (20 minutes each) that target the upper body, legs, glutes, and the core. There is a recovery stretch as well. These workouts can be done after the daily workouts or on their own. I have not done any of these workouts, yet. Finally, the program also has four 20-minute Cycling Workouts for anyone who has a stationary bike which I do not, so I will not being doing those workouts.

    My last weigh-in was this morning at 153.5 pounds. I have gained 1 pound back since 02 November; so my overall weight loss is 8.5 pounds since 01 June. What a bummer! I did track my weight for six days (11/07-11/12), and my weight fluctuated between 152-154. For the most part, I am eating clean, in moderation when I indulge, and following the intermittent fasting guidelines. As I mentioned in my last post, I think menapause is contributing to my weight-loss issues. Thankfully, my annual well-woman visit is next Tuesday morning, so I am hoping to get bloodwork scheduled and some answers regarding menapause and my weight-loss issues.

    Knockout Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels sprouts are my new favorite vegetable. I hated them growing up; however, I have learned, as an adult, that it is not the Brussels sprouts I hate, but it is the way my mom prepared them. I have tried a couple of different ways to cook Brussels sprouts, and the recipe in Ian K. Smith’s book, Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance, found on page 282 is one of my favorites.

    Gather the following ingredients:

    • Brussels sprouts (1 pound)
    • Extra-virgin olive oil (3 tablespoons)
    • Balsamic vinegar (1/3 cup)
    • Honey-optional (2 tablespoons)
    • Salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

    Preheat your oven to 425 degrees while prepping. Make sure to trim the ends of each Brussels sprout and remove any outer leaves that look yucky. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss, so all the Brussels sprouts are coated evenly. Spread them apart evenly, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the leaves of the Brussels sprouts are caramelized (dark brown and crispy).

    In a medium bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey. Add the roasted Brussel sprouts into the vinegar-honey mixture and toss, so all the Brussels sprouts are coated evenly.

    This recipe requires minimal ingredients, is easy to prepare, and is yummy. Let me know in the comments if you try it. If you have any delicious Brussels sprouts recipes that are easy to prepare, please email me at katloyacano@gmail.com.

    Dear reader, have a wonderful Wednesday! Whatever the plans, goals, or dreams you have set for yourself, I hope you intentionally strive to enjoy the process by focusing on the journey and not the outcome. Happiness!

    “The groundwork for all happiness is good health.” ~ Leigh Hunt

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    Happy Weigh-In Wednesday, dear reader! I have finished another round of Clean & Lean and 4 Weeks for Every Body. I did skip one week of the exercise program between Week 2 and Week 3. I will be honest, the instructor for this program is not my favorite of the three instructors I have experienced thus far. I needed a break, so I pretty much walked that whole week. I also had a bunch going on during that week and weekend. With that being said, I liked most of the exercises, the format of the program, and using the core ball. As I mentioned in my last post, the instructor goes a little too fast between floor exercises and standing exercises. I am still having issues with my wrists doing some of the weight-bearing floor movements, especially pushups and planks. I modify the movement or do another exercise working the targeted muscles.

    I did NOT lose the amount of weight I set my sights on by the end of the 30 days. I was hoping to get down to at least 149 pounds. In this moment, I need to give myself some grace and remind myself to focus on the journey and not the outcome. My journey is about being healthier not hitting a certain number on the scale. The reality is my journey is never going to end because eating healthy and exercising regularly is a lifestyle, not a chore, not a quick fix, and certainly not a means to an end.

    My last weigh-in was this morning at 152.5 pounds. I have lost 1 pound since 03 October; so my overall weight loss is 9.5 pounds since 01 June. Losing weight this time around is going much slower than past attempts. I do think I am building muscle which weighs more than fat. My clothes are fitting better, especially in the belly region. However, I also think menapause has reared its ugly head and might be interfering with my weight loss efforts. I recently listened to Molly Kimball’s podcast episode, “Menopause, Hormones, and Weight Gain – Oh My!,” with Ochsner Health OB/GYN Robin Bone, MD. They discussed that menapause is more than hot flashes and night sweats. There is research about the connection between hormone shifts and weight gain. Therefore, I figured it could not hurt to get some blood work done and see what is going on with my hormones. I scheduled an appointment with my gynocologist for the end of November. I have included Molly’s interview with Dr. Robin Bone below for anyone interested in this information.

    So, what’s the next step? At this moment, I have not started a new fitness program on BOD. This weekend, I plan to research a new program to start next week. In the meantime, I will keep walking. The last couple of weeks I have been striving for 10,000 steps per day, and hitting the mark more than not. I will continue intermittent fasting and eating clean but adding in more foods besides the 30 specific foods listed in Clean & Lean.

    I have another recipe to share from Michelle of Pocketful of Primary. It is a Buffalo Chicken Dip that is a healthier version and tastes great. My hubby and I ate it a couple of weeks ago while watching a horror movie off my Halloween Movie Marathon list. In addition to being quite tasty, it has minimal ingredients and is easy to prepare. The best part is you can pair it with veggies, pretzels, chips, or crackers. We opted for carrot chips, small sweet peppers, thin pretzels, and tortilla chips. I focused more on the veggies.

    We had some leftover baked chicken that we used for this recipe. I also chose a buffalo sauce with a “comfortable heat” which basically means medium heat.

    Mix the following ingredients in a bowl and top with shredded cheese (40 grams). Place mixture in a baking dish. Bake in an oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

    • 150 grams of cooked shredded chicken
    • 150 grams of non-fat cottage cheese
    • 100 grams of fat free plain Greek yogurt
    • 50 grams of buffalo sauce
    • 50 grams of onion

    If you decide to try this recipe, dear reader, please let me know in the comments how you liked it and what finger foods you paired with the dip. Healthier finger foods are better!

    I am a big proponent of time tracking. It is a wonderful way to see how I am spending my time. I am considering keeping a diet/exercise journal and weighing myself each morning to see how my diet is affecting my weight. I have kept this kind of journal in the past, and it can be time-consuming. However, bringing this kind of information with me to my doctor’s appointment may be helpful. I will think about it this weekend along with choosing my next program on BOD. Happiness!

    “The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” ~ Robert Tew 

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    It’s Hump Day, dear reader! I want to share an update with you about the current exercise program that I started last week, what I eat in a day, and a new recipe I tried this morning. Currently, I am on Week 2 of 4 Weeks for Every Body. According to the workout calendar, today is a REST day; however, since I have a busy weekend ahead of me, I opted to complete Workout #3 this morning and plan to complete Workout #4 tomorrow morning. This leaves Friday-Sunday for either walking/biking or resting. I will walk or bike at least two of those three days.

    Overall, I like the exercise program and most of the exercises. At first, I did not think I would like incorporating the core ball, but I actually like it. Each week there are 3 days that include a total-body workout, targeting different muscle groups (2 days-upper body and 1 day-lower body). A 4th day is cardio, but weights and the core ball are still a part of the total-body workout. The exercises are challenging, but totally doable. My only complaint with the program is the pacing. Sometimes, the instructor goes a little too fast between exercises which is fine if you are not going from a floor exercise to a standing exercise or vice versa.

    My last weigh-in was Monday morning at 153.5 pounds. I have not lost any additional weight since 28 September; so my overall weight loss remains at 8.5 pounds since 01 June. I am basically maintaining my weight. Be that as it may, I am making strides in building up my strength. I feel terrific overall because I am eating better, sleeping better, and exercising better. Eating clean coupled with intermittent fasting is working well for me. With that being said, I did splurge a little on Saturday. I drank a beer at Gnarly Barley’s Ocktoberfest mid-day on Saturday. Then later that evening, I had two hotdogs (on buns) with chili, some Cheetos, a 12 ounce Sprite, and a Hocus Pocus cocktail. However, I did eat clean for breakfast (Burner Smoothie) and lunch (Salad with Shrimp).

    Speaking of eating clean, I thought I would share with you what I eat in a day. I documented with photos this past Monday. I ate breakfast, lunch, dinner, one snack (can have up to 3 per day), plus drank two cups of coffee (morning/afternoon) and plenty of water. Clean & Lean is about eating 30 clean foods for 30 days. Therefore, these 30 foods are basically assigned and repeated throughout the daily menus for the month.

    I do not like to cook. When I have to cook, it is simple and requires minimal ingredients. I use olive oil spray to cook my eggs and anything I fix in the air fryer. My husband is a sweetheart and will grill whatever I may need for the week, which for this week was turkey burgers. He also made a crock pot of red beans which I can eat on this plan. Although, I cheat a little when I eat the sausage he puts in the beans. I will eat brown rice with my beans if I choose beans for lunch, but I will eat beans with no rice if I have it for dinner.

    Even though, I am not a fan of cooking, I do like trying new recipes if they are easy and do not require lots of complicated ingredients. Son #1 and I tried Pumpkin Overnight Oats this morning. We have never fixed overnight oats before, but after watching Michelle on Pocketful of Primary prepare them, I figured I could handle it.

    My friend Rita, who lives in the UK, suggested I share some recipes. So, I am including Michelle’s recipe. Last night, I filled two mason jars (one for me & one for Barry, Jr.) with the following ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats (NOT quick 1-minute oats)
    • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
    • 50 grams of pumpkin
    • 3-5 ounces of Almond Milk
    • Cinnamon (optional)

    I put all of the dry ingredients in the jar first, added the Almond Milk, stirred everything together, and sprinkled cinnamon on top. I capped the jars and stuck them in the refrigerator. I am going to be honest, dear reader. I was a little nervous about trying these overnight oats this morning, especially since they were going to be cold. I love hot oatmeal! Is it possible for me to love cold oatmeal?

    Goodness! The answer is YES. Both my son and I thought the overnight oats were delicious. Fixing oatmeal this way is a game changer for me because it is quick, easy, requires minimal ingrediants, and the flavor possibilities are endless. I plan to make them again tonight; however, I will use 2% milk and see what happens. Sometimes, we do not have Almond Milk on hand, so I want to make sure I have another option. Honestly, I even think water can be used as the liquid ingredient. I use water when I cook oatmeal.

    Admittedly, getting back in shape can be arduous, but when you discover the right workouts tailored to your needs and healthy foods (appetizing, available, and affordable) that can be easily prepared, the health and wellness journey is actually quite enjoyable. If you are fortunate enough to also have a support system of family and friends cheering you on along the way, the journey is exponentially better. Have you ever tried overnight oats, dear reader? If so, please share what you put in your jars. Happiness!

    “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” Jim Rohn

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    Happy Wednesday, dear reader! I finally have a moment to catch my breath after having a busy September. During this month, I took a break from Beachbody on Demand, walked when I could fit it into my schedule, and ate clean about 80% of the time. I did not do any DVD workouts.

    This past Monday, I started Round 2 of Clean & Lean. I will follow the clean eating guidelines as closely as possible. In addition, I started a new exercise program on Beachbody on Demand called 4 Weeks for Every Body taught by Autumn Calabrese. Each week consists of four workouts with three rest days. Today is a rest day, but I will walk after dinner for at least 30 minutes. And, I plan to walk or ride my bike the other two days. Yesterday’s leg workout was so tough that my legs felt rubbery afterwards. Terrific workout!

    I weighed in this morning at 153.5 pounds. I have lost 1/2 of a pound since 31 August with an overall weight loss of 8.5 pounds since 01 June. I have basically been maintaining my weight the last few weeks. Personally, I think intermittent fasting along with staying away from soda, fried foods, and added sugar helped me maintain. When I do indulge, it is in moderation. I choose the treat for one meal or snack instead of an all day affair. I would love to see 149 pounds by the end of the 30 days.

    Since cooler weather arrived this week, it finally feels like autumn. Cooler weather makes it more comfortable to walk outside, and I can fit it in my schedule earlier in the day. As always, dear reader, I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the next few weeks concerning my health and well-being. What are you doing to improve your health? Happiness!

    “Food can be fun and exciting, but never forget that it’s your body’s most important fuel.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

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    Happy Hump Day, dear reader! I officially completed Clean & Lean yesterday. Overall, I am satisfied with the results of this month-long challenge. I like intermittent fasting, and the 14:10 TRF (time restricted feeding) schedule works well for me.

    As I mentioned in my last post at the start of this program, I did not use the Workout Plans in the book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fitness portion of the plan. I knew I could not commit to the step count (walking) or the staircases (no access) during the month of August. As for the exercises, I used Beachbody on Demand (4-week program called Start Losing with Jen Widerstrom) and walked most evenings after dinner (at least 20 minutes). Thankfully, I had started my BOD program in July because my life got a bit hectic between 19 August and 28 August (no workouts), and I was able to complete that fitness program which I enjoyed.

    While I did not strictly follow the book’s eating plan, I followed the Clean & Lean guidelines as closely as possible. I drank plenty of water but no alcohol. I ate as many of the 30 clean foods as possible. I stayed away from fried foods, artificial sweetners, and MSG. I limited added sugar, soda, condiments, processed foods, and white flour. We celebrated Andrew’s birthday, so there was cake and ice cream. I have been eating fruits and veggies, but could be eating more of both on a daily basis. I am eating a moderate amount of dairy and taking my daily vitamins.

    I weighed in this morning at 154 pounds. I have lost three additional pounds since 03 August with an overall weight loss of 8 pounds since 01 June. Considering how busy I have been lately, I am pleased with my results.

    With all of that being said, I have PLENTY of room for improvement. I am the worst when it comes to time management. I am terrible at meal prepping even though I know it is effective. I overextend myself because I want to be involved in everything. And, I do not sleep well which I think is tied to menapause. I love a good routine if I can stick to one; however, throw one monkey wrench into my routine, and it all falls apart. Then, I get down on myself which causes me to shut down, and then I procrastinate like a rock star.

    So, what’s the next step? At this moment, my plan is to not start any new fitness programs on BOD. A holiday weekend is approaching with Barry starting vacation this Friday. We have plans to do a bunch of tasks around the house. The weekend after, I go into dinner theatre mode for an entire week because I got a role in Murder! At the Disco at the Columbia Theatre. In addition, I have all my reading projects for the month, my weekly improv class, and I am supposed to be launching my YouTube channel in September. Presently, I do not want to start anything new or add anything more to my already overflowing plate. Therefore, my plan for the next 30 days is to continue following the Clean & Lean guidelines and exercising (walking and DVD workouts) daily.

    Before bidding you farewell, dear reader, I want to share the results of my nerve test and update you on my hands and wrists. Good news! I have NO nerve damage. My right wrist is feeling much better; however, I am tentative with how I use it, especially with lifting things (or Tooty) and doing certain exercises. I think a combination of meds, exercising, and adjusting my sleep position has helped with the numbness in my fingers. Hopefully, I am turning a corner with this issue. I am ready to move on and jumped into September with both feet. Happiness!

    “Regardless of what you accomplish, always consider yourself a work in progress, for this humility will allow you to accomplish even more.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M. D.

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    Happy Wednesday, dear reader! It is time for me to finally lean into Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian K. Smith. I actually started the 30-day plan on Monday of this week, and it is going well so far. My health and fitness journey actually started back in June; however, I am taking small but intentional steps to ultimately reclaim a healthier version of myself once and for all. As I told Simon, mon frere, “I have a date with Europe.” I want to be healthy and physically in shape to acquire the most out of traveling to all of the places included on my List of 100 Dreams. I experienced a taste of exploration when Andrew and I visited New York City in June. We walked everywhere, and it was exhilarating for me. Of course, I love walking! Honestly, it is not only just about traveling, but also being healthier in general and feeling good about myself. When I am eating healthy and exercising regularly, I have more confidence and energy which benefit me in every area of my life.

    The foundation of this program is based on the Clean 20 eating plan with 10 additional clean and lean foods along with intermittent fasting and exercise. For intermittent fasting, I have chosen the 14:10 TRF (time restricted feeding) schedule. Some of the components I really like that Smith provides in his programs are the daily meal and snack suggestions, health-related information, encouragement, recipes, and a great deal of flexibility. Planning and preparation are the key to success on any program. As with his other plans, there are clean eating guidelines.

    Clean Eating Guidelines

    • Drink lots of water.
    • Drink only freshly squeezed juice.
    • Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
    • Eat dairy foods.
    • Try canned and frozen options (packaged in water/natural juices).
    • Focus on the 30 clean foods.
    • No alcohol
    • No soda (regular of diet)
    • No added sugar
    • No artificial sweeteners
    • No MSG
    • No fried foods
    • No white flour
    • No mayo, ketchup, salsa – unless homemade (there are clean versions in the grocery store)
    • No salad dressings loaded with sugar

    Regarding the fitness element of the plan, I am not using the exercises in the book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fitness portion of the plan; however, I will be using Beachbody on Demand (subscribed for one year) or my own fitness DVDs for workouts. In addition, I am walking every evening after dinner (at least 20 minutes). I am currently on the second week of a 4-week program called Start Losing with Jen Widerstrom. It is a low-impact beginner program that focuses on cardio and strength training. It is fantastic, and I love the instructor!

    I mentioned in my last post that I am having an issue with my right wrist (tendonitis) and both my hands. I saw my orthopedic last Friday, and opted to get another cortisone shot in my wrist (last shot – 02 November). It has given me some relief. My hands are a different matter and started bothering me at the end of May. Many mornings, I wake up with numb hands. Once I get out of bed and flex them, the numbness goes away pretty quickly. It is annoying and a bit concerning. I think it is related to the position of my hands/arms while sleeping. Somehow, I am pressing on a nerve and cutting off circulation to my hands. What the heck! Truthfully, I really do not know the cause; it is just my theory. I have been trying to sleep with my arms by my side which seems to help; however, it is not the most comfortable. Needless to say, I am scheduled to have an unpleasant nerve test done next Wednesday. I appreciate any prayers and positive thoughts that you can send my way, dear reader, that it is not anything more serious than “at 53 years old, I cannot sleep correctly.”

    Before wrapping up, I have to share that I weighed in this morning at 157 pounds. I have lost two pounds since Monday with an overall weight loss of 5 pounds since 01 June. I know the workouts are helping because my balance is improving, and I am feeling more elongated when walking which means my core is getting stronger. I still need to drink more water. I want to develop a better schedule for my workouts. Time tracking is in my near future. HA! In the meantime, I need to keep high 5ing myself and showing up. Happiness!

    “While tangible goals such as weight loss, muscle strengthening, and body sculpting are important, so is the goal of making sustainable lifestyle changes that will keep you feeling healthy and fit.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M. D.

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