Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Do You Do When Life Just Feels Like It Is Too Much?

While I like to stay busy, sometimes I get to be too busy. These last two weeks were like that. I found myself getting frustrated, depressed and ready to just quit everything. Did you ever have one of those weeks. There is a saying "And this too shall pass". Sure enough I am coming out of this busyness on the other side.

The hardest part of being so busy is not having the time to focus, to plan, and just plain enjoy yourself. We really do need to learn to smell the flowers along the way. Usually this happens for me because of demands on my time by other people. However this time, it was caused mainly by an increased teaching schedule. I teach taxes and had a six hour class on a Saturday and a midterm study session with another class on Sunday. Both needed to be done. 

In the process, I asked myself, what could I have done differently?
How could I have managed my time better? It seems that as long as we are alive and doing, we need to think about how we manage our time. I tend to get caught up in doing things and forget about the managing aspect of it. There is so much I would like to do, but I need to look at my priorities. Ouch. Sometimes, that is a painful experience. Why? Well, for me,  it is anyway. I want to help people, to do things and sometimes the time lines seem to get entangled. 

What I learned in all of this is I need to make sure I get enough rest. Since I frequently have trouble sleeping, that can be a challenge, but I have found that there are things I can do to help me relax. I love to read, and enjoy computer games and listening to music. When I get too busy, I have learned to make sure I have time to do these before I go to bed. It actually helps me sleep. 

I have also learned to say "no" to others as well as myself. I can't do everything. I have to pick and chose. I may not like it, but that is the way it is. 

Getting the scheduled events in, because they are scheduled, is not the problem. It is getting those things done that are unscheduled. So, I am finding that those too need to be scheduled at a time that will allow me to get them done. Sounds simple, doesn't it. But it is not. Other things keep getting in the way. But truth be told, I enjoy being busy, I just don't enjoy being frustrated because I can't get something done. But we do learn.

This week I worked more hours than usually. It is the last week of electronic filing for the tax season. As a tax professional, I worked more hours so that those clients who waited until the very last minute could get their taxes done. I guess I am not the only one with a time management problem. 

I cut back on some things, I planned some relaxation time, and by the end of the week felt better than I had in awhile. I even got some good sleep...once I got to sleep. 

So, we move on to the next week. My point in all this is we need to check ourselves every so often. Sometimes, we need to rethink our priorities at least for awhile. Life does throw us curve balls from time to time and we need to move with them. In the end, we emerge victorious...at least until the next challenge.

May you meet your challenges victoriously. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lonely Faces, Who Can They Talk To?

There are a lot of lonely people in the world. The internet in some ways may have helped people connect with others. But what about those who are not on the Internet? What about those who are living alone? Who are elderly? Who can they talk to? Where can they turn when they just want to hear another voice?

Years ago I worked for the telephone company as a long distance operator summers while I was going to school. A few times I would take a call and it would be an elderly person wanting me to call them back because they have not been getting any calls and they wanted to make sure their phone was working. Most of the time, these were older persons who were lonely, feeling isolated and just wanted someone to talk to.

I have a friend who has a mother who calls her all the time. She also calls her daughter-in-law, her grandson and his family and anyone else she can. My friend would like to get fewer calls from her mother. She got a call at one in the morning from her mom, asking what time she wanted her mother to call her to wake her up. My friend asked if I knew of any organization that would just talk to people. I know there are hot lines still in operation, but usually those are for people in crisis. I don't think her mom would call them. But she is not alone. She is housebound for the most part, has a problem walking and is on oxygen. How many others like her are out there, just want to talk to someone, to feel that they are still apart of the human race? I can only wonder.

So I am asking does anyone know of an organization that helps people who are elderly, housebound, feeling alone that could call them just to touch basis. Many of us live isolated lives. Others of us find things to do, places to go and people to see. Think about it. Is there someone that you could call, just to say hello, how are you? If so, why don't you give them a call, send them a card, connect with them in someone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Until Tuesday, a book review of sorts

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan with Bret Witter is an eye opening book. It is a book which takes us to Iraq and Afghanistan, to the streets of New York as seen by a wounded warrior with PTSD, into a prison where service dogs are being trained while helping inmates find their own humanity and into the life of Luis and his service dog Tuesday. 

This book touched me in many ways. It is a story about a man and his dog. It is not just any story. Tuesday is a golden retriever who was raised to be a service dog. In the book, we learn the steps it took to get one puppy ready to be a companion, a service dog, for someone in need of healing. Tuesday's journey was not without its frustrations. He was in a prison training program for awhile. He ended up bonding with two prisoners during his time there. They both got released. 

Luis Carlos Montalvan was a warrior serving our country in Iraq and later Afghanistan.  While I knew that these were not great places to be, I really had no understanding of what we ask our servicemen and women to undergo when we sent them there. It is a life very different from what most of us experience here in the United States. It was not just the culture of the countries, the war, but our government did not always do what was needed. He was wounded, and yet returned to combat. As a captain, he felt the responsibility for his men and his country. He continues leading today as a journalist and as a person speaking out for his country, his army and his dog.

The chapters where Luis and Tuesday bonded were great. Here are two hurting beings that grew to trust one another. Tuesday has that personality that some many golden retrievers have. He was generally a happy dog with a sense of play that just had to come out from time to time. In one of the chapters, Luis starts taking Tuesday out at night so they can play and get exercise finding an abandoned area that they could toss and catch balls. 

But there were hurdles that had to be crossed as well. And this really spoke to my heart. There appears to be a lack of understanding of  what a service dog is, and how we should treat them and their owners. Service dogs are not just for the blind. Luis was suffering of Post Stress Traumatic Disorder, as a result of his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tuesday became his anchor, that allowed him to function. Yet, he had a hard time taking a bus because the bus driver had a limited concept of what a service dog should look like. Restaurants refused to serve him because they did not understand that even with his jacket announcing him as a service dog, that he could enter their establishment. I have seen service dogs in action with persons in wheel chairs. The service they provide is invaluable. We need to educate ourselves and others about how to treat the dogs and their owners. 

In the end, Luis and Tuesday are continuing their journey. They are helping one another cope with the day to day experiences of living. They are moving on in their lives. 

As a result of reading this book, I have a greater understanding of the role of service dogs, of what our service men and women are going through in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what some of them may face when they return home to the United States. 

This is a book well worth reading. I highly recommend it. It is available on Kindle, in hardcover and on audio.  I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Arctic Zero, An Ice Cream Replacement, Is GREAT!

I love ice cream, but I am trying to lose weight. I am lactose intolerant and need to watch the amount of dairy products I eat. But I have found a delicious solution! It is Arctic Zero, an all natural, smooth and creamy ice cream replacement. According to the information on the product, it "can be eaten guilt free by those who want to avoid fat and calories."  It is made with "14 grams of whey protein, 8 grams of fiber and friendly to lactose intolerants." It is not only healthy it is also gluten free. A pint is only 150 calories. A serving (1/2 cup) is only 37 calories.

Arctic Zero is available in several flavors, Vanilla Maple, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Strawberry, Coffee, Mint  Chocolate and Cookies and cream. Of the four I have tried, I liked the Vanilla Maple and Chocolate Peanut Butter ones the best. The consistency is more like a fudgecicle in my opinion, but I do like the taste and the consistency of this desert. It is good knowing that when I want ice cream I have a substitute that tastes good, is low calorie, gluten free and cholesterol free.

I took four containers of  Arctic Zero with me to a group of friends who meet one a month for a friendly game of Pokeno and dinner and lots of talk. Since we play for pennies no one gets rich and no one really loses more than 50 cents in an evening. I had called my hostess and asked her if I could bring a surprise. I wanted them to be taste testers for me. I took Vanilla Maple, Chocolate, Strawberry and Chocolate Peanut Butter with me. There were eight of us all together. Everyone liked what they tasted. Roxy said that is tasted pretty good, but it was not the same smoothness as ice cream. It would do if you could not have the real thing.  Lila told her husband that he should eat it instead of ice cream to help with his diet. All together everyone enjoyed the treat. Some thought the chocolate was a bit to chocolaty. The Chocolate Peanut Butter mellows out the chocolate.

Arctic Zero has a website at www.MyArcticZero.com. I invite you to pay them a visit and learn more about this delicious treat. They have recently become available at Ralphs in California and Kroger stores in the frozen desert section.

Well, I am off to have a serving of the Vanilla Maple. Try them. I am sure you will like them. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Trip to BlogHer11 in San Diego, CA

     Last week-end I was at the BlogHer11 Conference in San Diego, California There were over 3,700 women of all ages in attendance from around the world. I met someone from Australia, Canada and across the United States. There were even a few men in attendance. One of them was a single parent who wrote a blog on being a single father. Others were supporting their spouses and at least one wrote the family blog with his spouse.  It really was an amazing collection of individuals.

     When I saw pictures of previous events and the computers around the table, I was impressed. When I got there and saw all the people who had brought their electronic devices, I got goosebumps. I was with like-minded people. I saw a lot of iPads, Apple computers, iPhones, regular laptops and a few mini's like mine. I was in a techie world. We had come with the tools to keep notes, tweet to one another, write a blog, and be a part of this great conference.

     Another thing that impressed me was the "Can Do" spirit in many of the attendees. Some were seasoned bloggers, some newbies like myself and others just waiting to get their feet wet. We were there to get connected, to learn and forge ahead to the next level. I left there knowing that we bloggers can do amazing things. We can change the world one blog at a time,

     The conference was well run. One of the things that excited me was that there was an open invitation to attend any session you wanted, to get up and go to another session if that one was not what you wanted, no questions asked. It was okay. In some of the sessions, women were seated on the floor because there were not enough chairs. Many of us with our laptops or cell phones out ready to take notes and learn. You could even text questions in the session.

     The sponsorship of the conference, the gifts, and the food were sensational. Breakfast and lunch were provided. There were booths with lots of give-aways and opportunities to learn about the sponsors products.  Blogging is becoming big business. Bloggers who want to monetize their blogs and sponsors who want to reach their readers can get together.

     I left with a lot of business cards, new acquaintances, loads of information and lots of goodies from the sponsors. I left with a renewed purpose and a sense that we are at the beginning of a new revolution in communication and working relationships. I can continue my conference attendance by watching the Virtual Conference and get in on all the sessions I wanted to attend but could not. Most of all, I am looking forward to the BlogHer12 Conference in New York. It was a great conference this year. I am glad I attended.

   The picture is a group of attendees appearing on the scene and lunch and dancing. What fun. The room was filled with excitement, like much of the convention.

Thank you for reading. I welcome any questions or comments.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Sunday Morning Walk in the Neighborhood

As part of my exercise program, I try to walk once or twice a week. I like getting out in the sunshine and just taking the time to commune with nature. I am in a large metropolitan area, but we still have our points of beauty. I believe that it is important that we take the time to appreciate what is around us. So for today, I am going to share with you a few pictures that I took along the way.

I just love the color of these flowers. They really pick up the neighborhood. One of the reasons I like to walk is that I feel better when I get back to the apartment. It is the splashes of color, the interesting scenes that we observe, and quite frankly some of the people in the neighborhood. I did not take pictures of my neighbors this trip however.
This arch just wants to make you go in and ring the doorbell. It is colorful, beautiful and most of all welcoming. Every time I pass this entrance, I want to take a picture, so today I did. And I am just getting started on my walk.

This wall with the pink and purple flowers really caught my attention. The morning sun just seemed to draw your attention to them. I love the way they are just peeping over the wall. By the time I took this picture, I was about half-way through my walk. I was feeling good and could feel my energy coming back.

Today I ventured into a new neighborhood. I saw this tree or bush, and fell in love with it. The flowers, the sunlight, the bigness of it. WOW!! I had to get a picture. Behind it was another tree with purple flowers. Now I have to admit, I love flowers, trees, plants, etc. I just don't know their names.

As I was walking, listening to music that was uplifting, I saw this tree over the fence or house or whatever. I had seen it before when I was in the car and was specifically looking for it.
From the street it is really striking. I just had to find it and get a picture. The one before it was approaching  the house and the other was after I had passed it. Now it was  time for me to move back into my own neighborhood and head for home.In the next block, someone honked their horn and waved to me. It was one of my tax clients. What a pleasant surprise.  I have one more picture to show you.

This rose reminded me of peppermint, a taste that I think leaves a fresh taste in your mouth. I loved the flower. And so with that I returned to my apartment, feeling better because I had taken the time to go out and explore my neighborhood. So take the time, explore. Stop to smell the roses along the way. You will feel better for it. And remember, walking is one of the best exercises for losing weight

I hope you enjoyed my pictures. I look forward to any comments, or questions you might have. Remember the way of the tortoise is slow and steady. In the end, we win, we win!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Carmageddon Made Me Do It! - Not!

Saturday, I blew my diet. I could blame it on Carmageddon, but I won't .I do live in the San Fernando Valley not far from the 405, where the bridge was coming down.  I am not sure why I drove from work to the 7-11 Store, and purchased two bags of chips, but I did. I have been working hard to get my exercise in, to eat right, and I blew it. Oh, and I went home and consumed one bag of chips. Just like the old days. Chips are one of my comfort foods. So what did I do?

I could have felt sorry for myself, disgusted with myself, angry at myself or kicked myself for doing such a stupid thing. But I didn't. I know that this is a process and sometimes I am going to slip and fall. I don't know why I chose this week-end to slip, but I did. I made a choice to dust myself off and get back on track. I   know that I will have to work harder to burn off those calories. But I am trying to change my habits. Yesterday, I feel back into an old habit. Today is a new day. It is the first day of the rest of my life. That may be an old saying, but I still love it.

This morning, I got up, got dressed and took a walk. It was over 30 minutes and I enjoyed every one of them. We have a bridge that is being replaced at the end of our street. It has been out since December. So, I walked down to the bridge with my iPhone in hand and took some pictures. It looks like it is getting close to being finished. The last time I was there, the bridge was gone. Now it has been widened and looks good.

By the time I got back home, I had taken a few pictures and was feeling like I was getting back on track. Today, I watched what I ate and stayed on program. I am feeling better about the direction I am taking my life. Like the tortoise, I know that slow and steady is my pace. It will help be win the race.

I can do it. I can make better choices. I don't know why I went off my diet, but one of the things I have learned is if you are going to go off your eating program, plan and limit what you are doing Sometimes, we just need that comfort food, for whatever reason. Today was a better day! Yeah!

If you have taken a wrong detour in life, start again. We all make mistakes, but we can chose again.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions. I am leaving you with another picture I took on my walk today. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Love My Thane Flavorwave Oven.

I love my Thane Flavorwave Oven. In fact I am on my second one now. The newer model is improved from the first one. The Thane Flavorwave Oven is a miracle breakthrough that turbo cooks your meal up to three times faster. From the freezer to the table in less than 30 minutes, sometimes much less. I had a steak for dinner tonight. I like my meat medium well to well, so in 12 minutes it was done, juicy and delicious and easy to cut. You can bake, broil, roast, barbecue, steam, reheat and more.

The secret of the Flavorwave Oven is the halogen heat, infrared waves, and convection cooking. As a result, food is cooked faster and juicer. Fats and oils are removed and food is always cooked to perfection. I use it as my main source for cooking. It is great for weight loss.

I also like it because I can take something out of the freezer, put it in the Flavorwave Oven, add some onions and sweet potatoes, and have a great meal in less than 30 minutes, depending on what I am cooking. My husband and I like thick crisp bacon. We don't have it often, so I put the bacon in the freezer after breaking the package down into 4 slice packages. I put them on for four minutes at 400 degrees F, that thaws them enough so that I can separate them. I put them on for another 14 minutes, turn them over and go for another 14 minutes. The bacon is nice and crisp and the fat does not go in my body, it is on the floor of the Flavorwave.

I have fixed steak, pork chops, chicken, pizzas, pork ribs, fish, biscuits, and frozen dinners in the Flavorwave Oven. They have all tasted delicious. I like the fact that I can set the timer, go do something else and my dinner is ready in just a matter of minutes.  I rarely use the microwave any more.

I also like the fact that the Flavorwave Oven does not heat up the whole apartment like the oven does. In the summer, when it is hot, that really helps and I am more inclined to cook. Living in an apartment without a balcony there is not much opportunity to grill out. My Flavorwave Oven takes care of that just fine.

It is portable. I keep it in the kitchen, but if I wanted I could bring it to the table, take it in a camper on a trip, or over to a friend's. It is not heavy. It cleans easily. For the way I like to cook, it works great.

Why am I telling you about it? There are a couple of reasons. First, I feel that I am cooking healthier. Other products I have tried have left food tasting dry. It is easy to use and you don't have to stand over it like you would if you were frying something. Secondly, I am sold on the Flavorwave Oven as a method of cooking. It is fast. It is easy.

I don't know how long I had my first Flavorwave Oven. When the plastic dome cracked last year, my first thought was to go to the computer and find out if they were still making them. Sure enough they were. Mr. T has done an infomercial on the oven that you can check out on Thane's website at http://www.thane.com/products/housewares/flavorwave-turbo/flavorwave-turbo.php?gclid=CJrKvf3h-qkCFQQCbAodJX-fZg.

The newer model has a large glass bowl on a stand. The oven's working parts cover the bowl and heat the food. It actually seems to work much better. At least for me, it does. I included a picture of the top of the Flavorwave Oven so that you can see the control panel. It is easy to use, allows you to set the temperature and time your cooking.

In researching for this blog, I also discovered that they were available on sale at Amazon.com 
They are also on sale at eBay

If you have one, let me know how you like it. I should tell you that this is an unsolicited testimony. I get nothing from Thane, Amazon or eBay, except for the satisfaction of sharing about something I use and really like.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Are Never Too Old To Learn

You are never too old to learn. Learning is a part of the human condition. Do not buy into the old saying that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". It is a lie. No matter what our age, if we are willing to put the effort we can learn. Not only that, learning new things keeps our minds active and our bodies younger. Don't give up. Keep learning.

Older adults may simply learn things differently than when they were children. After all, the longer we live, the more information we collect along the way. We learn to process information differently. A child is like an empty pitcher waiting to be filled. An adult already has information, experiences and life expectations already in their pitcher. Learning for them adds to what is already there.

I have met many people many years my senior over the years. The ones who are still learning and doing things are much younger than those who have stopped trying to learn and grow. Just like we need to exercise our bodies, we also need to exercise our minds.

So, what can you do? Or perhaps the question is what can't you do. The list is wide, so I am going to share a few of my favorite ones.

1.  Go to http://freerice.com/. It is a website that allows you to learn and earn grains of rice to be given to the poorer countries of the world. It has six categories with two areas in each. The six categories are math, English (vocabulary and grammar), geography, chemistry, languages (German, Spanish, French, Italian) and Humanities (Literature, Famous Paintings). It is multiple choice with four possible answers. Every correct answer earns you 10 grains of rice that go to an area of need. So far this year players have earned 6,726,923,450 grains of rice. Wow.

2.  Read a good book and share it with your friends. You can join a book club or even start one.

3.  Take a class. If you can't take a class at a local adult school, college, and local organization, you can take one on your computer. I have recently learned about Great Courses at http://thegreatcourses.com/. You can order DVDs, CD's or just get them on line. Every month they have great sales. The courses are taught by university professors, and best of all there are no exams. The hardest part is determining which one you are going to take first.

4.  Find something that you have always been interested in and start researching. The World Wide Web has so much information that it is like going to the Library of Congress and trying to ready every book. Impossible, but what fun in the trying.

5.  Learn to speak a new language. We are truly becoming a world community. Especially in the United States, there are so many cultures. Make a friend who speaks another language and the two of you can teach each other. Or you can take one of the many classes that are offered. After that, maybe you can travel to a country where they speak the language.

6.  Play word games. Do crossword or Sudoku puzzles. Play cards with friends. Play scrabble on line.

7. Learn a new hobby. Find one that you have a passion for. Find something that you can do successfully.

8. Volunteer. Take those skills that you have developed over the years and find someplace or someone which what to share them. You'll be glad you did.

No matter what you decide to do, take a moment today and learn something new. It will keep you younger longer. I am going to earn a few grains of rice now. See you next time.

Thank you for reading this. If you have any comments, or questions, please let me know.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Time to Celebrate with Friends,Fun and Food

I am redoing an earlier blog in honor of Thanksgiving Day and the upcoming December Holidays. There is no need to make your holidays a time to gain weight unless you really need to. Put food last on your list.The First Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival. We are going through challenging times, so let us celebrate our survival. Make friends and fun your cornerstone this holiday season.What can you do to make sure you stick to your eating plan? We can overeat and try to compensate for it the next week, We can plan ahead and allow for some of those extra calories. Or we can loudly proclaim, "I am on a diet" and make everyone, including ourselves, miserable. Or not!

The USDA website has a podcast with a few suggestions on what you can do at a party.
1.  Fill up on fruits and vegetables
2.  Put no more than 2 items on a plate at a time.
3.  Get your food and move away from the table.
Their research has show that when you follow these tips you are more likely to eat less, and to eat healthier.
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/multimedia/archived-podcastindex.html, See podcast "Holiday Parties--- Made Healthy."

By putting two items at a time on a plate, you can take your food away from the table, enjoy it and if you want go back for more, it's okay. My suggestion is that you wait a few minutes before going back to give time for the food to settle.

Another idea if you are going to be the guest, prior to the event, talk to the host/hostess and find out what they are planning on serving. Then, you can offer to bring something that you know that you can eat and enjoy.

If that is not possible, do not go to the party hungry. Eat a health snack before you go. Remember the purpose of the party is not about eating, but about having a good time with friends and family, celebrating the occasion.

Watch what you drink. If you drink alcoholic beverages yourself to one or two and then drink water. Colas are another area to watch carefully, Limit the number you drink, even if they are diet drinks. They are not healthy. If you are drinking fruit juices, remember they have calories as well. Don't go overboard. When in doubt, drink water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Nobody will know the difference.

One of the things I sometimes do is to reduce my calories earlier in the day so that I can enjoy myself at the party. It is really about planning, and being careful about what we eat. It is better to go and eat less and have a good time, than to overeat and live with the consequences.

Don't let the eating get in the way of enjoying your friends and having a good time at the party. You can do it. Remember we are really trying to develop a new lifestyle, not let the old one regain control.

Have a safe and happy holiday. Eat right, and celebrate your freedom from overweight.

Thank you for reading this. I invite any comments or questions you may have.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Choose to Move Your Body

If you want to lose weight, you need to eat right, exercise and get enough rest. You need to burn more calories than you take in by moving your body. How you do it is up to you. The key is to move. This is especially important for those of us who are over 60. It helps keep us fit and feeling better.

From my observation, people who are active tend to live longer and to be healthier. Once we start moving, it seems to get easier. So starting today, if you have not been exercising, find some ways to do it that are fun.
It can be as easy as taking an extra step or going the longer way around. Just move!

I love to swim. The Aqua Fit (water aerobics) classes that I am taking fit nicely into that. I love being in the water. I can jump in the water. I cannot jump on dry land yet... With water aerobics, you have the resistance of the water to help you. In a class you also have an instructor and fellow classmates to help you along and encourage you. The good news is that I can see my progress as well when I work with my trainer, Amanda Espinoza, in the gym.

Now, I decided a year ago to get a trainer when I joined the gym. It is a choice. I needed someone to guide me and hold me accountable. It has been great. We work hard on the equipment, and I can feel my body getting stronger. I still have a long way to go. The other nice thing about the gym I attend is the people who encourage me. These are strangers who have watched me work out week after week after week. It does my heart good, and it encourages me to continue working hard.

This Saturday, I upped my exercise program. I started taking line dancing classes at the Jocelyn Center, a Senior Citizen Center in Burbank, Ca. It was great fun. I have always loved to dance. I am left handed and sometimes have a problem with left and right, but I kept on going any way. I loved the music, the movement of the dances and the fellowship of other dancers. Everyone encouraged one another. It was nice.

I am striving to keep my life in balance. I want to add another class at the gym, but feel I need to get this one going first.  Last summer I was at the gym 5 mornings a week. This year, I am there three mornings a week.  I am working a couple of afternoons a week and blogging as often as I can. While I feel I need to add more exercise into my lifestyle, I am trying to do it gradually. The focus is making a life style change, It is not about the exercising and eating better. It is about changing my life to a healthier life style---one step at a time. Remember slow and steady wins the race.

My recommendation to you are
1. Find something that helps you move, that you enjoy, and then to do it.
2. Find an exercise buddy to go with you. Find people who will support you in your endeavor to get fit. If someone does not support you in this endeavor, I suggest you spend less time with them. Now if it is your spouse, keep this in mind. If you start moving, they may just decide to follow you. You do not have to spend a lot of money. You can get a good pair of walking shoes and walk around the neighborhood. Some malls even have groups of people that meet and walk in air conditioned comfort. So do yourself a favor and start to move.
3. Move your body, take more steps and enjoy what you are doing to get into better shape.

Thanks for reading this. I hope it gives you some ideas. Doing what you enjoy, especially if it helps improve your health, is a great way to spend time. What are you doing to move? Let me know. I appreciate your questions and comments.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

ChooseMyPlate.Gov's Plan for Healthy Eating

The USDA has just issued new guidelines for eating. The Pyramid is flattened into a plate. It's about time. I find the visual of ChooseMyPlate.Gov is easier to follow. I have been using that as a guideline for my diet since I learned about it. I have also been doing my research and learning as much as I can about it. There are several things that have me excited about the plan.

First, the visual of the plate gives me an idea of my portions. One-half the plate is fruits and vegetables, one-third is carbohydrates, and the balance is protein. And yes, remember that  the dairy portion is next to the plate.

Second, the focus is on portion control. I know that I am still working on controlling my portions. I don't like forcing myself to eat smaller pieces of meat, but I know that it is healthier for me. I also don't like eating all those vegetables and fruits. But, I am doing it. It is about retraining our minds and our bodies to enjoy more moderate portions. When you go to a restaurant and look at the calories of the meals, it is obvious that most meals are not designed with portion control in mind. I was at a Chinese fast-food restaurant the other day and watched the portions being given. No wonder they listed rice at 500 calories. One meal of rice and two selections could easily be over 1,000 calories. Help! We need to become smarter consumers.

Third, I am excited about the fact that the visual is more understandable. You can look at the plate and understand the proportions of the food. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a nutritionist to understand. If you are trying to lose weight, then don't use a large plate. Use a smaller one. I also use a smaller fork, so I take smaller bits.

Fourth, there is a realization that not everyone should be eating the same number of calories. Portion control because you are using your own body as a measurement becomes more attuned to your own body.

For more information go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/. It has a lot of interesting information on the new guidelines and well as other nutritional information.

Thank you for reading this. If you have any questions or comments, I welcome them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting the "I Can Do" Spirit

Do you have an "I can do" spirit? Or, are you always saying "No, I can't"?  I think our greatest stumbling block is our attitude. If we think we can, we have a much better shot of sticking to the your plan and being successful. It is not about your successes or failures of the past, it is about right now! Yes, we can learn and grow from these experiences, but we need to move on from them as well. Think about Thomas Edison. It took him 10,000 trials to get the light bulb invented. Now that is a great example of the "can do" spirit. He just kept on trying. Sure he may have had his moments of discouragement, but he never said "I can't do it" and quit trying. He kept on going.

We need to exercise our mental muscles as well as our physical ones. I am one of those people who lost weight, even kept it off for awhile, then started gaining. In retrospect, I let life get to me rather than exercising my mind and staying focused. It takes effort to lose weight. You have to change your eating habits, you need to exercise your body and to change your concept of yourself. If you do not change your habits in all three of those areas, you are setting yourself up for failure. I know many other persons who lost a lot of weight and a year or two latter, those pounds found them and brought along their friends.

So what can we do? First of all, we need to watch our words and thoughts. What we say and think is as important as what we eat. When you identify thoughts and words that are negative, you need to immediately think of something that is positive. It does get easier with practice. Remember the "I can do" Spirit.

Second, you need to listen to what people around you are saying. If they are negative, then you have a choice. Block out what they say or spend less time with them. Do not get caught up in their negative thinking, and do not feed theirs with your own. If something is not working, find a way to change it. You have the power to do it. Remember the "I can do it Spirit."

Third, feed the positive. Start out each day naming three things that you are thankful for. End each day with three things that went right during the day or three more things that you are thankful for. This does not mean that you ignore the problems. You can't. But you can turn your thinking around about them. I find that if I read something positive at the end of the evening, I am more relaxed and can get to sleep faster. If I read a mystery the last thing at night, guess what I do? I relive the mystery. I do love reading them, I just don't finish the day with them. You can also start a praise or grateful journal. Write down those things in your life that are right. When the I can't do attitude begins to creep in, get the journal out and remember all the good things. We were not build to be double minded. Keep the "I can do" Spirit in the forefront.

With the "I can do" Spirit, the solutions to things seem to come easier. I think I can do, then I find a way that I can do it. It is not a Pollyanna attitude, it is an "I can do" attitude that allows you to find the solutions and not get mired down.

If you try the can do spirit for thirty days, you have developed a new habit and maybe a new outlook on life. After all, you can do it.

I would love to hear from you if you would like to share any of your can do experience. Thanks for reading this.

Image of Happy Running Turtle courtesy of wpclipart.com

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who Will Clean Out Our Mess When We Cannot?

Look around you! How much have you accummulated in your lifetime? Who will clean it out when you are no longer able. It is a scary thought, especially for those of us who have no children to do this for us. Do I want a stranger or even a friend to have to go through my things and get rid of those things which I could have but chose not to?

Yesterday, I talked to one of my neighbors when we were both at the market. His father was recently taken ill and the family has decided to move him from Florida to California when he is better. The plans are to put him into an assisted living facility close to both of his sons.  It reminded me of when my brother put my mother in a nursing home and had to clear out her apartment in a few days. She had a lot of stuff. Like I did then, I could not help but think of all my things and what would happen to them if something happened to me and my husband.

Downsizing may not be fun, but it is something that most of us will have to do in our lives. I live in a second floor apartment. Roger and I are getting older. Carrying groceries up the stairs and laundry down is difficult. We would like to move to a first floor apartment or a building with an elevator. Before we can do that, we really do need to get rid of some of the burden we are carrying.

Downsizing can be done slowly, quickly or somewhere inbetween. How fast you go depends on many things. How ready are you to get rid of stuff no longer necessary to your life? Will you ever really need it again? It is something you can do without but want to give to a family member or a friend. If you don't really need it, give it to them so they can enjoy it now. If you need it, make sure you have it labeled to be given to them.

If you have a scanner or a printer that scans, you can take a lot of your paperwork and scan it onto a disk. You can then place the papers somewhere that is out of the way, just in case you may need them again. You can do the same thing with pictures. How many pictures do you have that you don't look at because they never went into a scape book or are sitting somewhere in a box that is difficult to get to. When the pictures are scanned, you will have them. You can also use them on cards and put together little memory books for family as a reminder of some of the good times you have had. These little memory books make great gifts for holidays and special occasions.

Another question is how long to you keep certain documents? I just went through and shredded checks from 2003, 2004 and 2006. Tax documents should be kept for five to seven years. If you own a house, you will want to keep pertinent documents until you sell the house. Most copies of credit cards and bills, unless used for backup for your tax documents can be gotten rid of at least by the end of the year. Again, this is where scanning documents come in handy.

As for me, I find that I need to take baby steps. I need to go through a closet for example. When it is done, it takes me awhile to get to the next project. But like the tortoise, slow and steady gets the job done. Already, I can tell a difference in my environment. I feel better. Now, I need to keep it up, remembering that it takes 30 days to build a habit.

How are you handling downsizing or getting rid of clutter? Let me know. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. Let's do it slowly and surely.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Learning to Make Better Choices

I can make better choices. I can learn how to make healthier choices. Every day we make decisions. Some of them are better than others. One of the keys to turning your life around is to learn to make better choices. When we consciously choose to make better decisions, we change our habit patterns. It generally takes 30 days to change a habit. No wonder it is so hard to make changes. But we can do it.

For most of my life, I have chosen to drink diet cola, eat chips and dip, and many other things that brought me to my overweight state of being. I would choose the large size at fast food places and restaurants. I was a meat and potato person, and seldom would choose fruits and vegetables. You get the picture. I do not like where those choices got me. I have to learn to make better decisions and I am.

These are some of the things I have learned.

1.  Take things one meal at a time. Watch my choices at every meal. 

2.  Develop practices that will help me make those better choices. For example, when I go to the market and buy meat, I cut the meat into portion sizes. I have a scale and weight each portion and write the amount on the freezer bag I put it in. Each freezer bag has one portion of meat. I have never been one to plan a week's menu at a time, but this also helps me in varying my diet. I do not over fix as I have in the past.

3.  Buy vegetables and fruit in smaller quantities.  Large quantities often go to waste, so while I may pay more in the long run, I am throwing less away. It takes planning and deciding what will work best for you. Today, in urban areas, grocery stores are all around us. It is a matter of finding one that you like and where you can get what you need.

4. Stock up on fruits and vegetable in that I will eat. I am not big on salads. I find most of them boring with so much lettuce. But recently, I have been purchasing cabbage and using that as a basis for my salad. I also use apples combined with chicken for a salad. I get the apples that are presliced, that way I do not have to use the whole apple if all I want is to add a half apple to my salad. I found that if I buy too much, it just goes to waste, so I try only to get what I can eat in three or four days. While it does mean that I am going to the market more often, I find that I have less food to throw away at the end of the week. It is about making choices that works for your life style.

This week, look at your choices. Did you make good choices? or do some of them need improving? Remember the way of the tortoise is slow and steady. We succeed one step at a time, one meal at a time, one day at a time.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Where Is Your Starting Point On This Journey of Change?

When you start on a journey, it helps to identify your starting point. This serves as a measure of your progress. The same is true in losing weight and turning your life around. This is not a time to judge ourselves and say how bad things are. This is just a look. There is no condemnation. It is just a snapshot that tells you were you are at this moment.

This snapshot will be three dimensional. We will look at the physical, mental and environment.  In other words, your weight, your thought patterns and words as well as your physical surroundings (where you live)

1. Physical means getting on the scale and looking at what it is telling us. It is not pleasant to  see how much we have gained; however, consider the end of the journey and the pleasure you will feel when you have released all that weight. Notice I said released, that means that you are going to let it go and not find it again. How many of us have lost the pounds and found them again, and again, and again.
2. Mental means  looking at our words and thoughts. They also form a picture of us. What is our self-talk? Do we continually berate or belittle ourselves? Do we ignore the problem and hope it will go away.  Do you make jokes about your weight? Are you that funny fat person who is really crying on the inside? Or can you look at yourself objectively? If you can, then that is what you need to do now. Just listen to your words and your thought patterns for a day or two. Take notes to keep at a record of where you are now.
3. Environmental  means seeing  our surroundings. Do you live in an ordered world where everything is in its place, or is it full of stuff that fills your space?  Just as we put weight on as a protective barrier, we also tend to clutter up our lives with stuff. The question is do we need to let go of some of that stuff. Are you a hoarder? You may not know if you need something, but you want it there, just in case you do. Do you have food in your kitchen cabinets that is outdated, that is unhealthy for you, that is there to sabotage you in those weak moments?  Take a look. If there anything in your home that you have not used in a year or two, that is outdated, broken, no longer a part of your life (even if you were suddenly to get thin again)?  In life, we go through changes. We do not need to continue carrying those things of the past that have no value for us at this stage of the game.  I think you get the picture.
What does your snapshot look like? Mine is not a pretty picture at this new beginning of my life. My weight is 241 pounds, my one-bedroom apartment is crammed with books, computers and boxes. We have five cabinets (three enclosed to hide the stuff), and that is just in the living room-dining room. While I am fairly practical, I find that it is easy to come down hard on myself, I have learned a lot on the first year of this journey to lose weight. I have to simplify my life, to get rid of the clutter, to get rid of the fat, and the bad habits that got me here again. I am writing this blog because I feel that I have turned the corner and that from here on out, I will be letting go of those things no longer necessary in my life. Letting go of my cross stitching was hard, but it needed to be done. I can do this and so can you. We are not in a race, we are on a journey that progresses each day as we take back control of our lives.

What does your picture look like? I would love to hear from you. Remember we are not judging, we are just identifying our starting point. Now that we have identified our starting point, the next step is to look at some of our choices that we make daily. But that is the subject of another blog. I hope to talk to you again next time.

If you have any comments, please share them in the comments section below. Thank you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Getting Started Again

I am a tax professional and I really love my job. Since last July, I've lost 30 pounds.
Every year from January to April 15, my life is devoted to taxes.  During that time my eating habits go down hill. This year I only gained back six pounds. Not bad after gaining 20 pounds the previous year. So now I'm getting started on my weight loss journey... again. I can do this. It may take longer, it may be slower, but I can do it. Like the moral of the Hare and the Tortoise, "Slow and Steady Wins The Race."
I also learned some things about how to stay on the path.

1. Exercise is important. Before I started my journey, I was a couch potato. I did not get enough exercise. Now I work with a wonderful trainer, Amanda Espinoza twice a week. What a difference it has made in my life.
2. Portion control is essential. I find that I must measure my food. It is really easy to get carried away if I don't.
3. The body, mind and spirit are connected.  I also have excess baggage (mentally and physically) that I need to let go of and I do not intend to find it again.
4. Quality vs Quantity. I'm trying to eat more fruits and vegetables to my diet.

My journey is one of exercise, portion control, and cleaning up the mess. I find that I tent to start things slowly, but gain momentum as I go along. I watch the Biggest Loser Show and while  I want to lose pounds as quickly as many of the contestants do, I am not on the show and I have a life. I am going to dance to my own tune. I will be my own pace setter. I will celebrate my accomplishments and be kind to myself should I falter.

I hope you will join me on your own journey to turn your life around after 60. If you are under 60 more power to you. The sooner you get started the sooner you will finish. Let's Go!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Way of The Tortoise

The Way of The Tortoise is my way of sharing the struggles and challenges of losing weight, getting organized, downsizing your life and turning your life around after 60.
I'm a semi-retired tax professional and resource consultant.
We're on this journey together, feel free to share your personal challenges via the comments on my blog. 
Looking forward to helping you get your life turned around.