Motivation Monday Feed

Motivation Monday: Decluttering is my most favorite thing ever!

My mom is downsizing to a condo, so she's having to go through 40 years of house stuff. She came over Saturday with some crumbly bits of newspaper clippings that used to be my grandmother's wedding announcement, and after we attempted to piece it together we got to talking about clutter.

My sister and I are very different when it comes tidyness. I tend to be kind of obsessive about it and she's, well, not. My mom's in the middle.

I honestly don't know how I became so fanatical about clutter but I think it had to do with my mom flinging my astronaut watch up the stairs and it breaking when it landed against a wall. I think at that young age I swore no one would ever complain about me leaving a mess anywhere.

(The "Easter egg incident" with my sister could also have been another seminal moment. My sister had a lovely decorated Easter egg that she squirreled away in a dresser drawer. Did I mention it was a real hard-boiled egg? After a week or so they don't smell too good.)

I even decluttered my blog last week!


I'm not 24/7 super tidy, but over the years two things have really helped reboot my decluttering. One was FlyLady's daily emails. Way back when I signed up for those, FlyLady was just a Yahoo discussion group. She now has a website, an app, books, journals, a YouTube channel and a bunch more stuff. Check out her website and sign up for the emails. They give you a simple plan of action every day so that you can tackle one house zone at a time.

Another tool in my declutter box are the resources from Peter Walsh. I first read Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? and it really resonated with me. In it he refers to clutter as "the fat in our homes." (Conversely, FlyLady (Marla Cilley) wrote a book called Body Clutter, which addresses the flip side of that.) Check out Peter's website for his books, videos and newsletter.

I also subscribe to the Houzz newsletter, which I first signed up for when I was in search of kitchen remodeling inspiration. I still love our new kitchen, which celebrated its first birthday this summer, but Houzz is still fun for interior design eye candy and great articles like the one on decluttering, below.


'Don't even start.'

"Don't EVEN start." 

That's what I told myself last night around 10 p.m.

And it sorta worked. 

HoneydewI had a few honeydew chunks and then skedaddled out of the kitchen. Better than sitting on the sofa with a box of cereal or jar of nut butter, I figured. A lot better.

But what part of "Don't EVEN" do I not understand?

Was I hungry? No. I really wasn't. I ate a big ol' grilled chicken salad with black beans and corn at Bokamper's, plus three french fries from my kid's plate.

But I was still following my old nighttime pattern, one I really want to break.

After a few weeks of avoiding the scale and surrounding myself with diet books, I came to the realization that it's not WHAT I eat, it's WHEN, and the big WHEN problem is after dinner.

When I found myself in the kitchen, staring into the refrigerator, I gave myself the choice: "Pick whatever produce you want," so I went for the fruit. 

But not even starting should make things even easier. When I say "Nope -- done eating for the day," I won't have to make deals with myself.

I'm going to see whether simply not eating after dinner makes a difference on the scale.

(Spoiler alert: It will.)

Another thing that will help is me going to bed earlier, something that I have great trouble doing because I am a petulant baby. I WANNA WATCH THE TEEVEE!

Last night I went to bed at midnight, which is much better than I have been doing all summer. I plan on winding that back to around 11:30 tonight, and perhaps I'll keep going 'til I hit 11.

And exercise? Don't ask. 

My left heel is a freaking mess. I've had a cranky achilles for awhile now, and lately it's been really bugging me so I saw the doc and got an X-ray. My left ankle/heel area is a garbage dump of inflammation, heel spurs, and thickened tendons, all converging in a big house of pain at the insertion point. It's called insertional achilles tendinitis, and the good news is I start physical therapy on Wednesday. 

This better work.

Becoming single-minded

Hey! I sorta took a blogging vacation while I obsessed over political conventions. During that time I also found myself in a dentist chair three times because my temporary crown kept falling off. I've got the permanent crown glued on so all is good in the mouth arena.

Sitting in that chair with my mouth wide open while my while my dentist squeezed me in between scheduled patients allowed me time to stare at my feet and contemplate things. Like how people can say "Hey, I'm fat and I don't wanna be fat anymore. I think I'll commit to a healthy workout and eating plan and get this weight off."

And then they do it, and they're done, and they work on maintaining their healthy new life.

Matter of fact, my husband did that recently, but he wasn't fat. He wanted to lose some weight, so he just did. Forty-something pounds to be sorta exact. 

I, on the other hand, prattle on about my "weight loss journey." (Don't ya love the word prattle? I've totally been doing it.)

No lie -- I have been on or off some sort of plan since I was 10 years old. 

Let me repeat: 




That equals 46 Gail years. 

So, while sitting in that dentist chair last week, feeling gross and bloated from leftover birthday party food and not drinking enough water and not getting enough sleep (up too late watching cable news), I decided to be one of those rare people who say to themselves, "Hey, I'm fat and I don't wanna be fat anymore. I think I'll commit to a healthy workout and eating plan and get this weight off."

But here's the rub: To accomplish this I need to become single minded about my goal, and I have the brain of a that dog in the movie "Up."


I've been meaning to write this all weekend but something has distracted me -- like loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning out my closets, loading the dishwasher (Oh, did I mention that already? I didn't finish loading the dishwasher. The dog wanted to go out and ...)

I digress.

That's my problem. I digress a lot.


I tend to flit between eating and fitness programs like a hummingbird on Mountain Dew. Even when something is WORKING I'll think "But what if I tried this? What if I did this more? What if I cut this out?"

I started looking at weight loss success stories on various websites:

  • One woman downloaded My Fitness Pal and laced up her running shoes to lose 53 pounds.
  • Another woman took her dog on nightly walks and started eating smaller portions to lose 35 pounds.
  • And this woman didn't want to go on blood pressure meds so she gave up soda and processed carbs, and filled half her plate with veggies at every meal and started taking her son for walks.

I admit, it's HARD for me to laser focus on anything, but after 46 years of being on a "weight loss journey" I'd like to get off this ride.

I've already established the fact that I can maintain my weight like a champ, so I've got that hard part mastered. But I need to get to a healthy weight so I can maintain that. 

My self-titled Summer of Success is still going strong -- I dropped half of the 5 pounds that I gained over the past year -- and now I'm going to kick it up a notch and do a really difficult thing: Learn how to become single-minded.

I Googled the phrase "how to become single-minded" because, gurl, I need help, and I found this paragraph on a Chabad website, of all places:

Single-minded people are not much fun. But there is something about them that elicits our amazement, even admiration. They have devoted themselves to something unequivocally. Imagine what we could achieve if we could make such a commitment to the things we truly care about!

Fit happensHow am I going to add a little single-mindedness to my life?

What I think I'm going to do is devote an hour, just 60 minutes, to mapping out my task of losing weight. (It's not a "journey" anymore.) I'm going to sit down at a table with a pen, and open up my Fit Happens planner, which I haven't touched since before we went on vacation. In it I will document the good, bad and ugly of the day and map out my plan to conquer the next day, taking it one day at a time, as the saying goes. 

This is going to be difficult but well worth it.


I left 3 pounds in California

San clemente
We just got back from 16 (!) days in Southern California, and the first thing I did this morning (after waking up way too late) was step on the scale.

I was down nearly 3 pounds from before we left.

Enjoy those extra 3 pounds, California, because they felt more like a ton off my backside, and my psyche.

Before we left I was feeling really discouraged about my weight-loss progress. It was basically going nowhere and I honestly didn't know what to do. Flying to California, I fired up the Kindle and finally finished reading the book Always Hungry, one of those books I really don't want to read because it's going to tell me I need to eat fewer carbs (remember, I am a petulant food baby). 

But I decided I was not going to be a petulant food baby anymore so I finished reading the book and was relieved that the book doesn't completely cut out carbs. The first couple weeks your macros are 25 percent carbs, 25 percent protein and 50 percent fat -- yes, half your diet is fat.

Lemme tell ya, getting to 50 percent fat is fun.

The hotel breakfast bar was a starchy carb nirvana, so I stuck with scrambled eggs and bacon with fruit until I couldn't take it any longer. Then we headed to a grocery store where I bought some whole-milk plain Greek yogurt and fresh strawberries, along with a bag of ground flax/chia. I made a "parfait" of sorts and had that for about half the breakfasts. Lunches and dinners were either some sort of big salad with lots of protein and healthy fat, or a protein main course with vegetables and a little starch. I made sure the meals were substantial enough so that I didn't need an afternoon snack and I stuck to water, unsweetened iced tea and coffee.

Don't get me wrong -- it wasn't all grilled chicken and plain yogurt. While we were there I enjoyed, among the goodies:

  • Lettuce wrapped cheeseburgerA chocolate-covered frozen banana
  • An In-N-Out burger and fries (lettuce wrapped the burger)
  • A glass of wine
  • A fancy mint-cucumber cocktail
  • A strawberry lemonade Arnold Palmer made with real lemonade, not that diet stuff
  • Tacos
  • Strawberry-lemonade cheesecake pie
  • A big ol' bowl of ramen (very trendy over there)

True food kale saladBut that wasn't every day. I really and truly enjoy eating healthy food, so I tried my darndest to find the healthiest things on the menu -- one of which was this fantastic kale salad at True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica. I am so psyched that one is coming to Sunrise next year.

(Here's the recipe for the salad, without the chicken.)

I didn't feel restricted or like I was "on a diet" at all. The food was great, we did a lot of walking and I came back 3 pounds lighter and stronger in my resolve to finish the job.

I know I'm focusing on weight loss and food, but that's not what I focused on while we were there. I just wanted you to know that you can enjoy yourself while on vacation and even indulge now and then without dreading the scale once you get home.



Me, meal prep ... finally!

(I know that headline isn't much of a sentence but that's exactly what was going through my head late (late!) last night as I smiled at my bags and Tupperware containers in the fridge.)

I have tried every trick in the book but always hesitated on meal prep. I thought that was for fitness junkies and hard-core weightlifters. Besides, why would I want to have meals and snacks at the ready when I can just make perfect choices on a whim?

image from www.planetmotivation.comYeah, I know. 

So this weekend I printed out a meal plan from women's fitness expert Lynn Manning at, made sure I had all the ingredients, cooked what needed to be cooked and prepped my little heart out.

Food prep

There are entrees tucked in the bottom shelf of the fridge and a couple big bags of snacks packed in smaller bags. 

This was my first snack of the day, after I got back from the gym:

Snack 1

Raspberries, mini peppers and an ounce of almonds -- a nice combo of crunchy, salty, sweet and color.

The other bag of snacks contains a couple of hard-boiled eggs and sugar snap peas.

I pulled lunch out of the fridge, heated it up and -- boom -- done.


It really didn't take that long to throw everything together, although I should have done it earlier than midnight. 

I'm pulling out all the stops right now, listening to motivating podcasts, reading motivating blogs and books and making things as easy as possible. 

Because while this most recent trip has taken a few unexpected turns, I'm still staying the course.


Monday brain dump, PMS (WTF?) edition

Random thoughts on a drizzly Monday:

  • Gosh, my head feels so much better now that I'm simply following the principles of Diet Free Life. Balanced breakfast, balanced lunch, balanced dinner and a couple snacks of between 100 and 200 calories. (Today's were a Quest bar for one snack and some Greek yogurt for another one.)
  • I knew something was up when I felt like I spent the entire weekend napping. Turns out my reproductive system STILL isn't done with me. My ovaries threw me a surprise party today. Seriously, I'm 53 years old! Shouldn't this be done by now?
  • And let me tell you, the PMS extended dance mix is no picnic. It's like being extra ravenous for a few extra weeks every month (or whatever). It's why I keep a family-sized clamshell of Organicgirl salad mix in the fridge at all times so I can shove salad in my face when I can't take it any longer.
  • image from ec-cdn-assets.stitcher.comI found a great new podcast that just started around a month ago, The Fit2Fat2Fit Experience, with Drew and Lynn Manning. Drew is the trainer who deliberately gained around 70 pounds to see how the process would be to then lose the weight. He grew up an athletic, fit kid so he really didn't have firsthand experience of being overweight or losing weight, like the clients he works with. At first I thought it was a gimmicky stunt, but after listening to his reasons why I can see why he did it. You can find the podcast on his site or on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcast sites.
  • I haven't stepped on the scale in a week or so -- I'm giving my brain a vacation from stressing about weight. My clothes are fitting a bit better around the midsection, so I'll probably peek at it next Monday.

Well, that's all I got. A giant basket of laundry is giving me the stink eye and a pork shoulder is in the slow cooker about to ding.



Back to living diet free

(Only thing is I don't binge and I don't skip the gym.)


I saw a variation on this message yesterday on Facebook and took it as a sign -- especially the part about "You're going to try new techniques and they're not going to work." 

Because the new technique I've been trying the past month or so hasn't been working for me. I did OK the first couple weeks but then everything slowed and stopped.

I have no idea who wrote this -- all I know is that I needed to read it.

This quote allowed me to email the publicist and tell her I was dropping out of the test. She was super nice about it. 

The book, which comes out next month, is great and I highly recommend it (not sure I can tell you what it is yet) but my warped diet mentality goes back so many decades that I felt my inner rebel throwing monkey wrenches left and right and the craziness welling up again.

Don't get me wrong -- I still weigh out portions and journal my food, but I'm back to following the principles of Robert Ferguson's Diet Free Life. It's not a diet -- hence the name. It's all about eating every three hours or so, making protein the cornerstone of your meals, keeping snacks between 100 to 200 calories and portion control.

This time around I thought I'd do something really novel -- I'm reading all the literature instead of just diving in half cocked.  I'm making sure I'm putting together balanced meals with the right portion size and the right mix of carbs, fat and protein.

My head feels lighter already. That's step 1.

Sleuthing for a solution

I'm so glad that I have a scale that measures more than just pounds, otherwise, I'd be tearing my hair out about now.

Body comp for sept2015

I fully admit, I haven't been 100 percent with my eating (too much sodium and nighttime snacking) but there's no reason the scale should be going up.

So I've been doing some sleuthing around, trying to figure out where this is going wrong and come up with ways to reverse the process. 

First thing -- look at the scale. What you see above is my lean mass and fat mass for the past 30 days. The lean mass is rising while the fat mass is falling -- and that's what's really important. I'm replacing fat with muscle, so that may explain a little of the poundage. I've been hitting it hard in the gym with strength training, increasing weight and reps ...

... which also makes me hungry. Gaaah!

I looked back at when I was at my lowest, pre-pregnancy weight and it was March 2014, when I was (yikes) 15 pounds lighter. My lean mass and fat mass percentages were basically the same as they are now, give or take a couple percentage points. 

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I am just an unfrozen caveman, but from what I've gathered, my weight went up and no one factor seemed to contribute to that. The laws of thermodynamics kicked in, and calories in were more than calories out.

Given that information, I headed for My Fitness Pal to see what I was eating during March and April 2014. 

I didn't journal my food completely every single day, but from what I saw, I averaged around 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day and consistently went over my fat allowance while leaving carbs on the table. I also ate at least 30 grams of fiber and lots of protein at every meal and snack. 

Other things I noticed:

  • Lots of coconut and olive oils, olives, nuts, avocado, oil-packed sardines, flax seeds and hummus -- a.k.a. healthy fats.
  • Two to three servings of dairy a day, primarily Greek yogurt and real cheese, like Cheddar, feta and cheese sticks. 
  • I made a big smoothie every morning with protein powder, unsweetened almond or coconut milk, frozen fruit, healthy fats and greens.
  • I was eating a high-protein bar between breakfast and lunch (preworkout snack), something I've not been doing lately.
  • There were some "fun foods" scattered in there, too. Jamba Juice smoothies, fro-yo bars, black bean chips showed up during the week, but not every day. 

The past couple months, I've been cutting back on fat and adding back carbs, which obviously doesn't work for me.

I'm glad I finally took the time to research what was working early last year so I can reboot my system. It took all morning to do this but the time spent was enlightening.

I always feel like when I write a post like this that it might seem like I'm spinning my wheels, but actually I'm sleuthing out a way to make weight loss do-able and permanent.

So if you'll excuse me, it's time to throw away my protein bar wrapper and head to the gym. But first, this needs pressing ...


Give a hoot, don't pollute (yourself)

woodsy owl give a hoot don't pollute
Remember Woodsy Owl?

My experience with the scale this morning can only be described as lovely. It usually isn't -- I'm normally an anxious, making-deals-with-the-diet-gods babbling fool.

As I walked to the Withings, I thought to myself "It is what it is. The number is only that -- a number."

I really was going to feel OK with whatever the scale read. Why? Because aside from one Friday evening ziti-garlic bread-cookie dinner (it's what band members and their parents eat ... OK, there was salad, too ...) I felt like I made good food choices, drank enough water and exercised consistently.

I lost 2 pounds, despite Friday's cheesy carb fest.

And that meal had me feeling like GARBAGE all weekend. For lack of a better word, I felt polluted. It totally wasn't worth it. I had reflux and heartburn all weekend, and it didn't matter what I ate. It's like all that wheat and dairy set off a digestive monster that didn't go away until today.

Ah ... feeling better.

I'm still following my super top-secret book eating plan and I did count the ziti dinner because pasta and cheese is allowed. But dairy and wheat tend to make me feel crappy, so the rest of the weekend I kept things clean and wheat and dairy free, aside from a little Greek yogurt.

That's the one big thing I learned from my dietitian -- when my digestive system starts to rebel it's time to "detox" -- and I use that word in the broadest sense. I don't really do anything specific. I just ramp up the produce and cut out the wheat and dairy and things fall back into place.

In case you missed it ...

I'm doing a great Soybu activewear giveaway and you still have plenty of time to enter! Click HERE to check it out.

A speed bump made of muscle

I went up a pound on the scale this week, which at first would be a serious bummer, but I dug into the Withings scale stats and discovered that my body fat percentage went down 3 points while my lean mass percentage went up 3 percentage points.

So while the weight loss hit a speed bump, that speed bump is made of muscle. I actually thought the scale would be down because my midsection felt smaller and my jeans were fitting better, but that's also what losing fat and gaining muscle does, so I consider it a win.


And there are other issues with the past week that may have contributed. I looked back over my Fitbook and saw a couple days where I didn't log all my food. I tend to conveniently "forget" how many almonds or how many pieces of fruit I ate, so I'm keeping that little book by my side from now on. The water drinking also got a little lax but that also changes today. Back to the 8, and no counting coffee!

My workouts were good the past week, but this week I'm adding the 21-Day Fix to the mix. I'm still going to the gym to do strength training but the video workouts will up the cardio and mix in some Pilates and yoga -- two things I really need to help with flexibility. 

Coming up!

Look for a fantastic giveaway later this week ... a pair of Soybu capri leggings!