Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 16: Finding a Happy Medium

Today I am back to wearing chemistry class on my face. For two days I have fought watery eyes and under-eye sensitivity. There are a number of things that could be causing this: new eyeliner, new mascara, new tinted moisturizer OR the new eye makeup remover pads. Whatever the culprit, I have to apprehend it. Fast. Today I start the experiment of finding out what is making my eyes water. So I went back to all my previous cosmetics, with the intention being to return my face to a state of “normalcy.” I’ll introduce the newer cosmetics one at a time until I have determined what’s causing the watering and irritation.

Since I feel like I’ve taken a step backward, I have to find something positive to enact today. My Type A personality needs something I can control, focus on, and feel better about. We (Dom and I) have been better about going through the daily mail than we ever were before, but mostly because Dom has made a concentrated effort to rid the kitchen counter of the mail pile and immediately shred what we don’t intend to keep. I, on the other hand, have not been so committed. I believe the kitchen counter is presently cluttered with items that belong to me. Some are the kids’ things, but mostly, well…

I know it sounds like a simple undertaking, and some of my changes will be no-brainers. Just because I should have been doing something a certain way, doesn’t mean I have

Starting today I will make an effort to keep the kitchen counter free of my personal clutter. And I will join Dom in handling the mail as it comes in, rather than letting it pile up. He will be so pleased.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 15: Channeling Frenchy

Remember Grease? Remember when Frenchy got kicked out of beauty school because she dyed her own hair pink? And then in Grease 2, she went back to high school “to get my chemistry so I can mix my own cosmetics,” and then filled the chemistry lab with smoke?

I’m starting to see similarities between us.

I tried the sunless tanner recipe last night. Never fear, it did not leave me splotchy brown. It didn’t leave me anything. Except frustrated.

This is the second “green” recipe I have tried with none of the desired results. This weekend I made my own bathtub cleaner which did not clean the tub. It cleaned the sink, and made an entertaining fizzing sound, but it did not clean the tub.

I have to be able to clean the tub. I mean, really.

Back to the sunless tanner. Aside from the awesome learning experience this has been (I’m learning that I am commercially dependent) there have been few benefits. The recipe did leave my skin exceptionally soft, a result of the lanolin and sesame oil. It was quite sticky at first, and so liquid that I had to put it in a spray bottle, but after application it dried and left a very soft feel to my skin. I was thinking that if it actually colored my skin at all, I would need to add some essential oil to it for a nice fragrance. But now that point is moot. I woke up whiter than when I went to bed. And I’m growing whiter with each exfoliation.

By the way, for experiment #3, I also tried to color my hair with coffee last night. I don’t think it took.

It’s too early to give up. I must get back to my research and gear up for the next green experiment. Frenchy, we got some work to do.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 14: Natural Done Backfired on Da Girl!

Okay, okay. I should have known this was going to happen. In my quest to try all these new products I’ve found I got a little carried away and paid for it dearly, even though none of my coworkers called me out on it. (Thanks, ladies and gents.)

On weekends lately I have been letting my hair air-dry. Mom and I both noticed that I had quite a bit more body in my hair on these days, and just a tad more frizz than I was accustomed to. Just to catch you up to speed on me: my hair usually lays flat against my wee-little head unless I have a drugstore-army-stock of styling products layered into it. I tend to keep my ‘80s hair in an effort to keep my head from looking like an English pea sitting atop my shoulders. It’s all in my imagination, I’m sure. Yeah…just wait till you see me with a wet head.

…Which almost happened today! I purchased a tiny bottle of jojoba oil this weekend at the health food store, thinking that it would be a good ingredient in my sunless tanner recipe. (Stay tuned for that project!) But, when I read about jojoba oil and learned that it was an excellent hair and scalp conditioner, I decided to just brush a tiny amount into my wet hair on Sunday morning to see if it freaked my hair out. No freaking from the backside of my hair, which is the only place I allowed the oil to go, but I also didn’t see any great benefit. (In retrospect, how could I have seen? It was the bleepin’ back of my head!)

I am now two days into using a new shampoo, and these “natural ingredient” shampoos don’t lather as much as our chemical-ridden concoctions. Less lather and fewer chemicals means my hair isn’t slathered with smoothing agents as I rinse. So, when I towel dried my hair before venturing outside to do my yoga with the dogs, my hair felt a bit harsh. No problem, I thought…I’ll just dab a little jojoba oil into it and I should regain that smooth feel, plus get the benefit of having such a good oil in my hair.

Oil in my hair. Dear God.

While my hair was wet, it felt great. All through my yoga (which is another long story) as I brushed it out of my face, I noticed a softer texture and was completely convinced that it was going to be a good hair day. I was so, so wrong.

When I came back inside to blow-dry my hair it actually dried, but it never looked dry. Ever. I even rolled it, teased it, and sprayed the fire out of it, all to no avail. It limped in heavy, clumpy curls all around my face. Yuck.

I managed to somewhat style it at mom’s house before leaving – late – for work. Mom suggested that I inform our payroll manager that he could be grateful I was still wearing deodorant. (Our payroll manager explicitly laid down the deodorant rule when I began this “natural” adventure. LOL!) By the time I got to work, I could feel my oil-curled bangs drooping into my eyes, and I could stand no more. I ventured to the ladies’ room armed with a heavy-duty hair claw and my sunglasses. (Sunglasses have proven to be an excellent hair accessory, in case you were wondering. The hair claw? Well, it is aptly named.) Turns out I didn’t need the sunglasses. I managed to pouf my bangs up on top of my head and secure them with the claw. Success! I spent the rest of the day watching the minutes crawl by and praying no one would ask what was “up” with my hair. Suffice it to say that I won’t be using the jojoba oil trick again – at least not on a day I plan to see anyone. And I can’t wait to wash my hair tonight.

At the rate I’m going, you might be inclined to place bets on the sunless tanner project. At least there is some measure of comfort in the words of the immortal Scarlett O’Hara: “Tomorrow is another day!”

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 13: Moving in the Right Direction

I guess I should spend some time with a little follow-up on all our progress so far. News on the makeup front: Day 2 of wearing the organic cosmetics and no problems to report. I was concerned yesterday when the mascara flaked with each swipe of my finger, and even though it still looked great at the end of the day, I was certain it would never make it through a good cry. Well, as it turns out, I got to test that today. We went to see Toy Story 3.

Yes, I cried.

I cried a lot.

I don’t know if I cried more over the toys’ support of each other as they floated toward an incinerator, or over Andy growing up and going off to college, leaving his childhood behind. No matter, I cried right through it all. A quick pit-stop into the ladies room after the movie confirmed that the eyeliner and mascara both came through the tears unscathed. Victory!!!

Other minor victories in my shopping yesterday afternoon…I found a shampoo (Burt’s Bees Raspberry and Brazil Nut) and also found the organic cosmetic line (Physician’s Formula) in two other stores: ULTA and Sunshine Health Foods. ULTA had a product I couldn’t pass up: PF organic wear eye makeup remover pads!! How cool, huh?? I picked up a new facial cleanser, also Burts Bees, which smelled and felt great when I used it last night. Tally for yesterday and today: instead of using my typical 10 cosmetic products with all the nasty chemical ingredients, I only used three. My next imminent purchase is a facial moisturizer, which will probably also be Burts Bees, and the loose powder in the PF Organic Wear line.

Also purchased yesterday: a Burt’s Bees lip gloss in shimmery pink (shared with me by Victoria, of course) a bottle of lanolin and a bottle of jojoba oil. I needed to purchase sesame oil to make my own sunless tanner, so that project is on hold until at least tomorrow. And we also got some new nail polish. While I don’t believe any nail polish is going to be organic, I understand that OPI brand has made healthy strides to eliminate the most harmful ingredients from their line. So we bought the new Shrek blue. :)

Next on the ToDo List is the task of firing off letters to Mary Kay, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in hopes of making some positive change for women and our area. That, in fact, is today’s healthy positive change: Communicating with the big dogs and trying to get positive wheels moving for more than just my family.

Until tomorrow…

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 12: Vamoosing the Parabens – Sweet Victory

I read somewhere that the average woman puts 175 chemicals on her face a day. Ouch…that is a more than frightening statistic. I probably apply a lot more than that, given my strict obedience to a Mary Kay beauty regimen for the past 22 years. When I see Victoria wanting to imitate me in my routines, my desire to supply her with healthy habits and quality products is almost overwhelming. Equally overwhelming is the task of identifying those products…

In my quest for healthy cosmetics that don’t result in me slathering my face with cancer-causing and hormone-whacking chemicals, I spent my lunch hour at Drug Emporium yesterday. I started on the shampoo aisle, because Drug Emporium has a ton of products, and I knew I was going to run out of shampoo sometime in the next few days. Surely DE would have a suitable organic shampoo. Bottle after bottle, I grumbled and frowned as I perused the ingredients. Literally, every bottle of shampoo that said “Natural” on the front listed some of the worst ingredients on the back. What in the world???

Deciding not to let myself get discouraged by shampoo when I had trekked across town for cosmetics, I wound my way around to the makeup area. The walls were lined with the major brands. I knew better than to even look their direction. I remembered seeing something online about Physicians Formula and an organic line, so I began to search for their products. In a squatty middle aisle with its back to the nail polish, I spied some PF. I knelt down and began to peruse their ingredients, getting more discouraged by the moment. “Methylparaben,” “Ethylparaben,” “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,” “DMDM.”

IS NOTHING SACRED??!???!!!!!!!

I shot a tired and defeated glance to my left and almost lost my balance. There, merely eighteen inches away from me, were green and brown boxes of Physicians Formula Organic Wear. They were instantly illuminated by a golden sunbeam shooting through the ceiling of the store, and I could hear angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I hopped over to scan their ingredients and LOVED what I read. No parabens. No SLS. No DMDM. Organic ingredients. First Ever ECO-cert cosmetic line in the US. I swear, I think my eyes started to water.

Second in importance to the ingredient list is, of course, cost. But those sweet little vintage DE price tags (the ones that tell you the cashier is going to hand-peck the prices one-by-one into the register) were single and low-double digits. I bought four items: tinted moisturizer, a blush/bronzer combo, eyeliner and mascara for $39.72. This is almost what I pay for MK with my 50% discount. Not too shabby!

Mom and I spent the evening looking up my new makeup in the Cosmetics Database. They rank around “4” overall in the database, largely attributed to the Titanium Dioxide which provides the sunscreen protection in my tinted moisturizer. Given that these new cosmetics don’t contain the most awful offenders and I can pronounce every ingredient on the box, I am satisfied with my purchase.

Now, I am going to enjoy my morning coffee before I shower and “put on my face,” as my grandmother says. If the new makeup is anything less than wonderful, you can be sure I’ll be the first to let you know!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 11: Dieting is for the Dogs

Poor little Mabel. She must feel incredibly picked on. I just changed her dog food to a higher calorie brand. Unintentional higher calories, but it’s a fact nonetheless. She was pretty trim for a while, but the other day I noticed her looking more and more like a, well…like a piano bench.

Funny how this has led here. A few months ago, when my mom’s dog Emma was diagnosed with cancer, I was sharing the news with a co-worker who asked what kind of food Emma ate.

Purina. Why?

“Well, every dog I’ve heard of who had cancer ate Purina brand.”

Now, I’m not trying to “dog” Purina in the least. I always thought them to be a fine brand. Perhaps they have a higher quality food line that I just don’t know about. And canine cancer victims can certainly have eaten other brands of food. But I’m not taking any chances. Plus, now that I have researched product ingredients, I found all the same ingredients in dog food that I am trying to avoid in my pantry. 

Mason, our older Lab, has dined for several years on Nature’s Recipe as a direct result of suspected food allergies. So he gets no funky additives, while I get almost no price breaks. After the first puppy year, Mabel was on Beneful’s Healthy Weight food, and looking mighty fine indeed. But even the thought of Purina being culprit to cancer had me scanning the dog food aisles for a more acceptable brand. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, but I chose IAMS because I remembered it being in the vet’s office from time to time.

Two months passed before I noticed the Mabelline looking a little broad across the backside. The only thing I could attribute it to was the food brand change, so I started investigating doggy calories. Turns out, I was feeding Mabel FOUR HUNDRED more calories a day than she was used to eating. No wonder the poor girl plumped up.

Joining the rest of the family, Mabel is now on a diet. Didn’t I say some things I change will affect the entire household?  I reduced the quantity of her food to adequately supply an appropriate number of calories for her to burn. I have shared with her all my reasons for this seemingly cruel change, including the fact that she is a large breed dog and extra weight will stress her joints and her heart. I don’t think she really cares about my reasons, but she’s not complaining too much. She has other things to complain about, like squirrels in her yard and birds in her trees. And, as with all my food investigations now, I have confirmed that the food she presently eats contains no harmful or unscrupulous ingredients…just a heck of a lot of calories!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 10: Canning My Tan

I have never been very good at sun tanning. Either I’d get too bored and go back inside, or I’d get too comfy and fall asleep, waking to a horrible burn. It always took considerable effort to get three days’ worth of color, after which it would fade and I’d be back at square one. And square one on me is not pretty. I’m as white as a hotel bathtub.

Add the threat of skin cancer to this already non-productive pastime, and you can count me out altogether! I decided long ago that there simply had to be other ways of getting a great tan without all that risk. Tanning beds were never an option for me because of all the horror stories I heard when they first came into use. Yeah, I’m that old.

Enter the spray tan, and as they say in Texas, “Yaaaah-hooo!” I first tried an airbrush tan at a salon about two years ago. It was a nice little change of pace, except for the part where I had to strip down to half my skivvies and strike embarrassing poses while a stranger sprayed dye all over me. Let’s just say I’ve only done that once. But a nice little airbrush spray that I can handle on my own, costs $8.98 a can, and actually smells pretty decent has me hooked on the spray tan. At least until I started learning about product ingredients.

My dear little tan-in-a-can has everything harmful and then some. What’s a girl to do?!! I have been researching my butt off (see?) to find a suitable organic sunless tanner. There is no shortage of them, be assured. But the prices. Oh, my dear goodness, the prices!! I found a moderately reasonable one for *cough, choke* fifty bucks.

I imagine if I internet-order from California then $50 for a thimble full of sunless tanner should be expected. But I’m in Louisiana, and I do not compute $50 for spray tan into the budget. To satisfy my insane curiosity, and even more insane need for a summer glow, I have GOT to stop by Drug Emporium and check out their selection.

If they don’t have a suitable option, I have found a recipe to make my own. The coloring comes from tea. How ME is that?!! All I need is some organic lanolin…and probably a lot more patience.

I’ll keep you posted on my tan. ;)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 9: Clipping My Way to Savings

I am a bit on the frugal side. Oh, hell, I admit it…I’m downright cheap. It’s not that I don’t like buying things. On the contrary, I could easily become a shopaholic. I just hate checking out and seeing the final tally on my damage. If I’ve bought an item for me, guilt immediately sets in…UNLESS I have saved a considerable amount of money by using coupons on sale items.

But that’s the problem. I hardly ever use coupons. We don’t take the paper, so I miss out on the Sunday circulars. The only coupons I ever have are those for retail shops which are mailed to me, or those for grocery items which someone sees, thinks of me, and clips to give me. And this is the strange part…I will NEVER forget to use a coupon at a retail store, but I can never remember to use them at the grocery store. I carried a coffee coupon around with me for a month, finally using it on the day it expired. I get so aggravated when I get home and realize I still have two or three coupons in my purse that I didn’t use. But I counter that with the fact that the two or three coupons I had might have saved me a whole dollar, and when the grocery ticket tops $300, what’s one more measly buck?

As I venture into organic foods, I see that this is not going to be a frugal undertaking. Although, with the help of my friends I have found some great websites and blogs. Organic On A Dime offers a list of quality organic food companies and links to their online coupons. I have signed up for three companies’ email notifications. (Like I don’t get enough email already…) Perhaps with enough coupons to make a notable savings I will remember to actually use them at the checkout, instead of concentrating only on the bread not getting squashed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 8: Finding Fiber

A few months ago mom shared with me a news report that stated if you eat 30-40 grams of fiber each day, you can lose 10 pounds within a year. Since I definitely wanted to shed 10 pounds, this idea of eating more of something - anything - and still losing weight sounded like a winner!

Do you know how hard it is to eat 30 grams of fiber in a day? Especially if you’re concerned about calories? OMG! I made it work, but it took a lot of label-reading effort. I did this for a while and it was a really good eating plan. But I got a little out of the habit once summer started, and once I started vamoosing random foods from our pantry. I figure I need to stick to it, though.

You’d be amazed how little fiber we consume on average through the foods that sound very fiber-ish. Once I started tracking fiber consumption on my LoseIt! App, I was disappointed to see that I averaged about 12 grams of fiber a day. So I purposely searched out foods high in fiber, but low in calories. There is almost no such critter. But I do have some suggestions for foods that have been good no-thought-required parts of our meals lately.

Mission Carb Balance whole wheat tortillas. Lifesavers. The burrito size offers 21 grams of fiber for 220 calories. Add a few veggies in there with some Laughing Cow and you have one heck of a wrap! And more than half the day’s fiber requirement is met. They make smaller size tortillas too, with proportionally lower calories and fiber.

Kellogg’s Fiber plus Antioxidant bars are really good. 9 grams of fiber for 130 calories. They are much easier to chew than the Fiber One version, and taste like a candy bar. Yum! The only drawback is the added BHT preservative, which has me now eating fewer and fewer of these. Otherwise, a handy tote-able snack.

I like my newest cereal find, Cascadian Farms Organic nut and honey, even though it only has 3 grams of fiber per cup. I’m still balancing calories with fiber with acceptable ingredients. Now, Fiber One cereal packs a whopping 13 grams in every cup. And it tastes really good if you get the version with the little banana chips in it (Even though it has HFCS).

The new Sandwich Thins by Natures Own and Orowheat have 5 grams in each pair for 100 calories. Also, Holsum’s whole wheat hamburger buns are higher in fiber than the other “healthy” ones I’ve looked at. 5 grams there too, I believe.

For supplements with none of the added ingredient garbage, two Fiber Gummies can give you 4 grams of fiber. I loved Fiber Choice for the same four grams, but learned that it had artificial colors in it, so it got tossed last week.

FYI, my Starbucks mocha powder has half a gram of fiber in a serving. I’m impressed it has any at all, but that’s just one more reason for me to love it! ;)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 7: Vamoosing the Parabens - Cosmetics

I have begun the very painful process of ditching the bad beauty products. I spent considerable time yesterday researching the ingredients in my Mary Kay products. Ouch. Naturally, I discover this a month after purchasing a 6-8 month supply of all cosmetics, moisturizers, lotions and lip balms that I am accustomed to using.

This is a hard thing to change. I have used these products for 22 years. I don’t want to stop using them, but the risk is just too great. Last night, I threw away several items I had been holding onto. Lip balm – out. Eye shadow samples (in some really cool colors) – out. Eye cream and lip gloss – out.

It will be a while before this process is complete. First, I will need suitable replacements for the stuff I use every day. I won’t be heading into work with a bare face, I can guarantee that! But, after learning the ingredients on several different “most unwanted” lists, and then finding those ingredients in EVERY SINGLE product I use on my face, my desire to continue their use is hanging on only by the last thread of vanity. I have stopped using most of my moisturizing products. You know those photo booths that take your picture and show you all the hidden sun damage on your face? I imagine these products doing similar unseen damage to me, and I just can’t bring myself to slather them on my face like I used to. They sit sadly on the tray on my bathroom countertop. They’re like little lepers of my skin care routine now.

I will continue to seek natural products for my face. I have yet to actually find a cosmetic line that does not contain harmful ingredients. When I do, it will be posted here as a side note, with a permanent link to their site at the right.

Inspiration for the day: You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, June 20, 2010

There's an App for That: Simply Organic

I am forever looking for easy lifestyle management on-the-go and my plethora of iPhone apps provide some great resources. My latest favorite app find is Simply Organic, a product brand I'm not certain I can find locally. But it's still useful because the app has recipe and shopping list features, coupons and even a "Mix It Up" recipe spinner. Just set a few options and voilĂ  - a fully organic-ready recipe for whatever your occasion. Each recipe shows serving and nutrition information. Best of all, it's free!

Day 6: Speak!

I’m not so sure I’m going to be any good at this change. But I am determined to try. I have a hard time speaking my mind when I disagree with someone. For me, it’s not a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of courtesy. But when I leave an aggravating situation or conversation and want to vent my frustration to the first person who will listen, I am accutely aware that this kind, listening friend is not the one who needs to hear how I really feel. I should have told it to the person who ticked me off in the first place.

Take Friday. I always go to Starbucks on Friday morning for coffee, and I get drinks for the Starbucks fans at work too. Each of them has a Starbucks card or cash that they send with me, so I make separate payments at the register. And, out of courtesy, I ALWAYS preface my order with, “I need four drinks, but I’m paying for each separately. Is that okay?” As a customer, I realize I do not need their permission, but I think it’s nice to warn them anyway. Hell, I even sweetly smile when I say it! In two years of Friday visits I have never been answered with anything other than, “Of course it’s okay! What’s the first drink?!”

Until this past Friday. At a location I don’t usually frequent on Friday mornings, the barrista looked at me, rolled his eyes ever so slightly, and replied with barely-hidden disgust, “I guess so.”

If you know me AT ALL, you know what I said... “Thank you. The first drink is a grande…”

What I SHOULD have done was politely call him on the attitude right then. It would have saved me the further aggravation at the end of my transactions when the barrista addressed the gentleman behind me and said, “Man, I’m sorry about that.”

WHAAAAA? I was in the middle of apologizing on my own to the guy when I heard the barrista. I felt bad for holding up the line, and always apologize to those behind me when it takes longer than normal. Understand, I apologize out of courtesy, not out of regret. I am gonna get my coffee come hell or high water. I am at least nice enough to not pull that crap in the drive-thru. I walk in if I’m making more than one payment…always! So, I’m thinking that on any weekday at 7:45 a.m., you can generally expect to wait a while at Starbucks. I don’t think I knocked the earth off its axis with my coffee needs.

I left with such a feeling of aggravation, that I wish I had explained to the barrista the importance of service and attitude. But I didn’t. Re-playing the conversation in my head, I have identified the point at which I was first aware of the problem (an important step in any situational review) and I can pin-point that same moment in other problematic situations. It is at that point that I need to speak up. Gently, but firmly speaking my mind in a way that lets the other person know they have crossed a line. Whether they change as a result will not be in my control. But I can only leave it with them if I tell them how I feel.

THIS is going to be my hardest change so far…

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 5: Slowing It Down A Bit

Recently I was asked from the backseat, “Mommy, what’s the speed limit?”

“60, darling. Why?”

“Because your thing says 70.”

Sure enough, I was speeding. Nothing like getting busted by your 8-year old. Only slightly less embarrassing than facing a cop - but with far more lasting repercussions. There’s no chance of paying Victoria the fine and being done with it.

I always had a heavy foot as a young adult. I certainly had my share of speeding tickets and frowns from my father. Fortunately - knock on wood - I have not gotten a speeding ticket since the kids have come along. I must admit I slowed down considerably once I had those two precious heartbeats in the backseat. But every once in a while, I will realize how fast I am driving, and I have to remind myself that despite all the reasons I have to hurry, I have many more reasons to slow it down.

The good thing about all this change is that it’s never too late to make a fresh start. So, with a concentrated effort from this point forward, I will drive the speed limit.

So don’t rear-end me!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 4: One Cup of Coffee (ouch!)

Ugh. This is where it starts to hurt. I need to set an official limit on my coffee consumption. With some infrequent exceptions, of course! For the most part, I only drink coffee, tea and water. Mostly water, which is a plus. But I HAVE to have that morning cup of coffee. Er, I mean cups

I used to drink three cups of coffee a day. I know that sounds like a lot. (Unless you are my dad, and then I sound like a lightweight. LOL!) Usually two cups in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Or one after dinner. Yes, I can literally drink espresso half an hour before bedtime and still sleep like a baby. Although, I have noticed that as I get closer to 40, some decongestants will keep me awake. Go figure.

Four months ago I put myself on a diet. The goal was to get back to pre-baby weight. Hey, I know it’s been ten years. You counting or something?? Anyhoo, along with the diet came calorie and fiber awareness. And out went at least one cup of coffee. All because right before I started this new eating plan, my co-workers brought me a basket of Starbucks goodies for my birthday, and consequently addicted me to the Mocha Powder at 45 calories a serving. Add that to the sugar and milk I insist on adding to my coffee, and each cup carries 90 calories. So I limited myself to two cups a morning. Only one if I ate breakfast simultaneously. This one cup plus breakfast seems to have more appeal than it used to, so it shall be today’s new habit.

Now, in the past if it happened to work out that I had at least 90 calories to spare at the end of the day, I would gladly make a cup of coffee and enjoy it after dinner. This is a treat Dom and I afford ourselves each Christmas season, as soon as the Starbucks Christmas blend is released. The simple indulgence of an evening cup of coffee with the hubster is one I might not be able to give up completely, but I will try not to overindulge and will do my best to limit it to the holidays.

Oh, and I simply can’t pass up the rare opportunity to enjoy a cappuccino on the back porch with my dad, engaged in conversation over computers or gardening. The same way tea and cookies with mom shall never be turned down. There are just some moments of interpersonal connection we should never avoid, and these fall into such a category.

Otherwise, it’s me and my one cuppa joe.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 3: A Smile Worth Showing

As I face the computer monitor this morning – early - while munching away on my Raisin Bran (Post has the best ingredients, if you’re interested) my head is spinning with all the things I want to change. But I also recognize that there are some pretty basic things that need to change before I can really give full attention to what I want to change. I hope you will bear with me while I deal with the mundane.

I recall the sign in a dentist’s office that read, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!” While I have always been proud of my teeth, thanks to the late but still cherished Dr. Cope, I have not always been a good flosser. (Don’t judge! Have you ever looked at me and thought, “Yeesh! That chic seriously needs to floss!”??? Then I rest my case.) I always found it to be a rather hasslesome task: winding the floss around my fingers, cutting off the circulation in the index finger just for the effort of reaching the back teeth. And I have a very small mouth, so it’s doubly difficult to reach everywhere. I would floss, mind you, but not with any degree of regularity.  But a year ago I decided to change. After one of my regular dental cleanings, I decided to floss every night until the next cleaning. For six months, I was a flossing ROCK STAR. I found these cool mini-flossers in the grocery store. No more winding string around my fingers or deciding what flavor and wax level to buy. Dr. Plackers Whitening flossers came to my rescue at minimal cost. I asked my hygienist, Sharon, if she noticed a difference at my next visit, and she answered, “I haven’t had to scrape much, have I? Of course I noticed!!!” I beamed with pride.

Within the month following that checkup, I was attacked by the shingles virus, which set up shop in the nerve running above my upper left bicuspid. For the next five months, flossing was painful to the point of tears, so I minimized my efforts. I’d floss about twice a week on average - not quite the “beaming with pride” effort, but an effort nonetheless. And, as is the nature of habit, once flossing became more bearable I was too comfortable with the new routine to change.

Until today. Today I return to the habit of flossing daily. The best way for me to accomplish this is to brush and floss with the kids before their bedtime. That way, they have my example to follow, and I have the added health benefit of establishing 8:00 as my cut-off time for consuming anything other than water. I imagine it will be just a short while before not flossing is simply out of the question. And that’s something to smile about!

Inspiration for the Day: “What lies before us, and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Side Note: Keeping it in Perspective

As I typed this morning's entry, the kids came into the office to see what I was doing.  So I explained:

Me: "I am making a healthy, positive change every day for the next 365 days.  It will likely affect you just as much as it affects me, but it will all be for the promotion of healthier living."

Aaron: "Oh, yay.  Hey, do you think this Pokemon is cute?"

Day 2: Breakfast

Breakfast is not my best meal. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to get in the mood to eat anything that early in the morning. It’s like the thought of food before I’ve been awake for two hours makes me cringe. But, breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, so starting today I will make the effort to give my body what it needs.

The problems I run into when I try to implement breakfast are 1) time – there is never enough of it in the mornings; 2) menu – what constitutes a healthy breakfast, i.e. do I HAVE to eat freaking oatmeal every day? and 3) metabolism boost - I am super hungry by 9 am when I eat breakfast at 7, so I have to pack extra munchies to take to work.

You know, now that I look at those three reasons to not eat breakfast, I realize I don’t have much to stand on. I’ve already solved the time problem by not snoozing. (Second day in a row, thank you very much. Dom and the dogs are wondering if I’m ill.) I’m doing a ton of research into healthy food options, so #2 just got squashed. And #3 is really just me whining because I never wanted to change what needed to be changed. Not like I couldn’t use the metabolism boost. I mean, really!!

In the spirit of change for the better, I am sitting here now with a whole wheat bagel and a ramekin of Greek yogurt. And it’s not half bad. I’m surviving. Maybe the trick is to eat before that first cup of coffee. Maybe this will make me want less coffee. Hmmmmmmm…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Invitation to the Journey: 365 Days, 365 Changes

I am a control freak. Not overtly, mind you. Most people who know me might not see me as controlling (or they might surprise me and say, “uh, yeah, we do!”) At any rate, I know there are many things beyond my control, namely everything outside of myself. Given that my stress manifests in physical ailments, I have simply GOT to find a better way to deal with things.

If you’ve read my other blogs, you know of my new battle with food and product ingredients. In my search for solutions, I am faced repeatedly with things I cannot control, which brings me full circle to what I CAN control – me.

So here’s my plan. I will make one positive, healthy change each day for the next year. 365 days – 365 positive changes. Some may affect only me, some will affect the whole household. Mostly, this is an effort to instill healthier habits. Nothing like, “Oh today I read a book.” Each thing I change will be a habit that needs to be maintained. I’ll keep track of the progress here. Feel free to walk this journey with me.

I just shared this idea with Dom, and his question was, “You have 365 things you can change??” Here’s how I see it. When I was in Fourth Grade I read a book called Little Miss Know It All. (Yes, I still remember the books I read in elementary school. Let it go.) Little Miss Know It All knew the answer to every question ever asked of her, except one: What’s the largest room in the world? The answer…

Room for improvement.

Day One: Getting Out of Bed. My first positive change is being implemented today. I got out of bed as soon as the alarm sounded. I am a snooze hound. I will hit snooze seven or eight times before I finally roll out of bed in the mornings. In fact, I will purposely set the alarm 30 minutes earlier than necessary just so I can have the pleasure of hitting snooze repeatedly. Dom hates this habit of mine. When the alarm clock was on my side of the bed (which did not last long, mind you) as the alarm buzzed, Dom would kick me until I got up. Then, we moved the alarm clock to the other side of the room so that we had to physically walk to it and turn it off. That solution didn’t last long either, because I figured out that if I crawled to the foot of the bed and leaned waaaaaaaaaay over the footboard, I could reach the snooze button with my middle finger. It is amazing how much trouble I will cause myself just for that snooze. The alarm is now my phone which charges on Dom’s nightstand, so when it chimes at 5:15 every morning, he tosses it at me, and I snooze – waking every 9 minutes to stare at that bright screen and delay the rising for a little longer.

But not today. Today, I got out of the bed at 5:15. This is important. Change is not easy, but change in my routine is necessary if there is to be positive change in my spirit.

Here we go.