Late Nights and Weight Loss (also update on zoom balls)

Late nights and weight loss do not mix.

At least for me, I find the later in the day the less will power I have to ignore the comfort foods that make me feel full and sleepy.  I would go to bed earlier but I have a difficult time going to sleep, even when I take the sleepy medicine the doctor gave me.  That medicine does help me sleep in till noon or later the next day, however!

So, what to do?  For one, I am going to start taking my sleepy medicine several hours before bedtime so maybe when I go to bed early I will feel sleepy.  Another thing, I must be careful not to eat the Zoom Balls (I mentioned in my previous post) in the afternoon after about 2:00 because those may be keeping me awake.  I’m not sure though, because I have had trouble sleeping for over a year now and I just recently started eating the Zoom Balls  (click for video of Rosemary instructing on how to make the zoom balls) from the recipe in Rosemary Gladstar’s book: “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health“.  If not eating zoom balls or chocolate doesn’t work, I might do some exercises before bed to tire me out.

Report on Zoom Balls:  They work!  They are great and make me feel very energetic and alert.  The taste is not great but the recipe can be altered I imagine, for better taste.  Not tasting great helps me not eat too many though, which I am glad of.  When we made the balls I think we made them a lot smaller than Rosemary does, like four small balls to Rosemary’s one larger one, but I like that because we can take smaller amounts more easily.  The recipe says it makes 60 balls, but I am sure we made around 240 smaller ones.  Anyway, a two thumbs up on how well the zoom balls work for energy!

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Belief and Weight Loss

 

Cob and Straw Bale Cottage in Oregon
Belief is key to everything we do.  If I didn’t believe I could build this spiral house I wouldn’t even have tried.

In the book ” The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, one of the key elements that is important in changing a habit, such as the way one eats, is belief that change is possible.  I can see how that is true.  Nothing is done that is done without belief that it is possible.  A baby would not walk unless he believed walking was possible for him.

The author goes on to say that one of the keys to change for people in Alcoholics Anonymous is belief.  Belief in a higher power and belief that it is possible to make a change.

Believing in my ability to lose weight had never been a problem before.  I have lost weight many times, especially after having a baby and needing to lose the lbs. I had put on while pregnant.  Lately, however, my belief had been faltering as I found myself giving up every day about 5 pm and deciding I didn’t care.  However, in the last few days, learning about habits and how they work, and deciding to change my reactions to the triggers, has bolstered my belief in my ability to lose weight this time.

In the book “The Power of Habit”, the belief that change is possible often took some time for the people in the stories shared.  Then at a tipping point, when the people began to see that the change was real, the belief soared and everything fell into place.  Like a chain reaction, other things fell into place to support the change as well.

For me, changing the habit of eating while watching TV has also caused other changes to naturally occur.  My sister Cheryl and I decided to make some healthy treats that will not only boost our energy, but also be better for us than the milk chocolate and sugary treats we had been eating.  Last night Cheryl and I made “zoom balls” from a recipe in Rosemary Gladstar’s book “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health” and put our new treats in the refrigerator ready to reach for at the right moment.  Due to this preparation, today as I ran errands, I did not reach for other treats at the store to tide me over.  I know I have zoom balls waiting for me at home, and my belief in this process has helped me wait.

Once I got home I ate my meal and did not need the zoom balls.  Interesting.

I will post about my experiment with zoom balls and weight loss again as I use them.  If anyone has tried zoom balls before I would love to hear from you about your experience.  I will say the recipe called for a lot of nutmeg and in the future I may not use so much.  We toned ours down with more tahini butter and coconut and honey.

Happy healthy eating!

Habits and Weight Loss

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This yarn does come into the story later in this post . . . truly it does!

Recently the women in our household have been listening to a book called, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.  We are into it by three CD’s so far and I have learned that habits are formed in a sequence: first is the trigger, next the thing that we do when the trigger happens which becomes a habit, and lastly the reward.  Identifying the trigger is the key to changing our habit.

For example, I one thing I am triggered by is stress.  A stress trigger for me at one time was when I was helping a particular child with their homework and they begin making those irritating whiny noises.  I would reach for sugar and starch and chocolate.  Those sugary treats gave me a pleasure rush and also dulled my senses to the whining.  When I became aware of that trigger , I knew I could either accept that I needed chocolate or sugar when I worked with him, or I could remove myself from the situation temporarily.  For weight loss, the removal of myself from the situation temporarily would be the better habit of course.  This was awhile back and I did not figure out any other solution (but then I hadn’t read this book yet either),

Another trigger for me is laying down in the bedroom and watching TV, or going to the movies.  Being still and watching leaves my hands and mouth bored which ends in me wanting a snack, especially at the movies!  I have such a habit of eating candy or treats I always want something, and lately especially, well buttered popcorn and M&M’s!

According to Duhigg, in order to change a habit, the trigger is identified, then an alternate action is taken instead of the old habit.  The alternate action must be something that can also provide the pleasure reward we seek when being triggered.

I have figured out how to alter my habit at home. Instead of watching TV in the bedroom where the lights are out and our family is all together sharing popcorn on the bed, I have started watching (or listening to a book) on our computer in the living room, where I can spin wool while watching or listening.  Spinning wool is fun to me and I love the yarn I make.  By keeping my hands busy doing something I enjoy, I am altering my habit from one pleasure to another.  Altering the habit of eating fatty treats to something else I enjoy when the known trigger is happening will help me with my weight loss goals.

So, by identifying what is triggering you to eat things you are trying to avoid, or by identifying triggers to other habits you would like to change, you are on the way to finding alternative habits which provide pleasant rewards, to take the place of an unwanted habit.

Give it a try if you like, and let me know how this works for you.  You might also enjoy reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Focusing For Happiness and Weight Loss

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Focusing will help you give your attention to one of the many, like picking one flower to look at from the garden.

The other day when I was focusing away my depression (click here for previous post) I hit upon an idea which I started immediately using.  I spent moments throughout the day centering my attention inward, as is done in focusing to discover emotional layers, but instead of asking how I am feeling, I quiet myself and center my awareness deep inside my core and touch the place where I feel peace, relaxation, and love for myself; I then ask myself, “”What do I want to do right now?”  This sets me up for working on something I really want to do, plus I am always much more productive when I am doing what I most want to do.  Surprisingly, the answer to what I most want to do is often to organize something, or do the dishes, or help one of my children with their homework, or some other chore.  My answer is not always to make art!  That doesn’t matter though, because I am doing something I really want to do at that point in time, that fits in my overall life plan; something that is calling for my attention, and gives me pleasure to accomplish.

I am realizing that this first focusing question, “What do I want to do right now?” does not remove any of the myriad of chores that were overwhelming me when I wrote about focusing away depression in my last blog.  Instead, this process allows me to temporarily place all those things in a holding pattern, patiently waiting in line, as I accomplish the one chore that will bring me the most satisfaction at this time.  Then I can ask again for what is the next thing I really want to do.  This first question takes care of reducing stress, allowing me to enjoy the process of accomplishing things, and have more joy in my journey.  I am finding that in my core, I do want to accomplish all the things necessary for success in my goals.  In other words, I am not wanting to play all the time, but asking what to do first allows me to let go of the rest until they pop up as what I want to do next.

For the weight loss part, I focus again to that deep centered place within my core, where I am calm and relaxed.  I remind myself that I am me, one person, centered on myself and my needs right now; knowing I have to take care of myself (no one else is going to do this for me) to be healthy and balanced; reminding myself that I answer only to myself and no one else for my health and well being and happiness; reminding myself I do not have to let anyone stress me out or make me feel less than I am; creating a protective shield of seperation around myself that allows me to rest when I want to, eat when I want to, and focus on a chore or fun activity when I want to.  Once I am centered and balanced and ready to take care of myself, I ask myself, “What do I want to eat that will make me feel good and help me be my best self?”  My answers have been the healthy foods I know are good for me and make me feel good and will help me lose my excess weight.  When I then proceed to eat the healthy food, I do feel good.  When I have not centered myself and focused on what I want to eat that will help me be healthy and my best self, I find myself reaching for chocolate, or ice cream, or bread and butter, or cereal, etc.

The key is focusing away from external stimulation that cause me to want to eat fattening sugary foods.  Resting when I am tired.  Pausing when I feel stressed, evaluating that stress, and focusing for what I want to do next.  Eating sugary starchy food, which makes me feel sleepy, is a way I have been self medicating and dulling my senses so I don’t have to feel stress.  Or, I reach for the giant (and I do mean giant!) bar of chocolate to rev me up and give me a big push, which gives me a high I enjoy, but does not benefit my health in the long run, nor does eating chocolate help me put my finger on what I really want to do.

I understand that this method is not easy when there are so many demands made upon us by external sources (and to be honest, most of the stresses and demands in my life are self induced).  Regardless, I have to do something to get my happiness and health back, so I now give myself permission to experiment with focusing for happiness and weight loss.  Once the simple meditation is accomplished a few times, it really takes very little time to recenter and ask those two questions again: “What do I want to do right now?” and “What do I want to eat that will help me be healthy and happy and be my best self?”

Focusing for happiness and weight loss worked so well for me yesterday (I know . . . only one day) that I wanted to share the process.  I will let you, dear readers, know how it goes as I continue with this experiment.  Also, if anyone wants to try this, I would love to hear how it goes for you in the comments section!  Love and happiness and health to you all.

Focusing Away Depression

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I awoke today frustrated about how I was feeling.  For the past few days I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed.  I wanted to call my daughters and whine about it, but I couldn’t find my phone.  I thought about going to see my therapist but remembered I have all the tools I need, I don’t really need my therapist for this; I guess I just wanted to complain to someone.

“I need to focus” I reminded myself.  Focusing is a technique I learned from my teacher Tom Brown Jr. and the basics of which are also described in a book called “Focusing”.

I lay down on my bed to begin the meditation, and there was my phone!  I chuckled to myself because I realized that I simply need to focus instead of relying on the crutch of complaining to my family, and that is why I couldn’t find my phone!

Focusing is like peeling back the layers of emotion, one by one, to see what is going on in that mix of emotions you might be feeling.

I began by asking myself, kindly and gently as a loving mother might, “How are you feeling?” and the first layer popped up.

“I am feeling angry!” came the feeling.  There was roaring and screaming and gnashing of teeth inside me.  I let myself feel it.

“Why?” I asked.

I was surprised that there were so many things I was angry about and they were all swirling around me: Too many things I want to do; Overwhelmed by all of it; Can’t get things done fast enough; Don’t even want to do them; Angry that I have to; People I have been angry with even popped up . . . it was like everything I have ever been angry about was there.  It felt sharply painful in the center of my chest.

“OK, that’s good to know,” I said to myself, reassuringly, trying not to get stuck in this first layer and remember the next step.  Oh yeah . . . “Now, set that first layer aside . . . and aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the anger move up and out of me and I felt for the next layer.  “I’m feeling depressed.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I feel ineffectual, like there are so many things I feel like I am supposed to do: build my art studio, finish the barn, learn the edible and medicinal plants, work on genealogy, do school with the kids, run errands, make food, lose weight, clean the house, etc. and I have so little energy.  I feel like a failure.”

“OK, that’s good to know,” I tell myself.  “Now, aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the second layer move up and out of me and I felt for the third layer.  I felt a glimmer of timid joy.

“Why?” I asked, “Why am I feeling this little bit of joy?”

“I love color,” was the answer.

“Tell me more,” I asked.

“I love making art, I LOVE working with color!” The feeling of joy was getting stronger.  I began blissfully thinking about making a scarf, and began designing it in my mind.  I started thinking about the necklaces, and tunics, I have been designing in my mind the past week or so.

I had stopped working on art after the art fair because I was spending all my time with organizing and working on the household and the building projects and had not made any art since before the fair.

I felt guilty even thinking about making art because of all the other things I felt like I was supposed to do.

Somehow I have to find a balance.

I can stop beating myself up and forcing myself to spend my time entirely on chores.  I can have the fun time in order to balance everything out and be happy.  In fact, the joyous pursuits can be my main focus and everything else can fit into the nooks and crannies around the fun.  Why not?  After all, I came to Oregon to heal my mind and body, and what better way than to live in joy?

I didn’t need to go any further in my layers today, even though I know there are many more amazing layers, because I found my answer.  I feel relieved and happy, looking forward to making art and balancing my life better.

New Year is Here!

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My Shetland stallion Trigger learning to “pose” for the county fair.  Notice him biting my shirt!

New Years Eve is here and the Christmas Holiday is past.  Time to clear the decks for another wonderful year.

It’s funny how, even with all the crazy and often extremely difficult experiences in my life, I always feel somewhat like a princess, spoiled with love by the Great Everything.  Maybe being brought up by loving parents who praised us kids and seldom criticized has something to do with my perspective.

In my senior year high school social studies class I learned that our family income fell within the “poverty” level in the USA at the time.  I was shocked because we always had what we needed: food, clothes, a place to live, and even luxuries like TV’s, stereos, etc.  I guess the fact that most of the things we furnished our home with, and clothed our bodies with (unless we sewed them ourselves), and drove around in, were from garage sales or inexpensive secondhand, which allowed us to have many things we couldn’t otherwise have had.

Sure there were things we did without, like expensive family vacations to Disneyland or Hawaii, or being able to own some of the big beautiful horses I used to dream about (I was a horse loving girl from the age of 2!).  However, I did get to buy a Shetland pony when I was twelve, which I paid for with my babysitting money, then later a Morgan/Welsh yearling filly. also with my babysitting money.  My dad, who is an extremely gregarious person, found those deals for me through people he knew, and also free places within a block or two from home to keep my pets while I had them.  I believe allowing me that luxury and responsibility as a young person was probably one of the best things my parents did for me, aside from being kind and good to us children.

Now, at fifty-nine I am in the second half of my life (unless of course I live to be 120 which I think would be cool).  Most of my nine children have grown and have families of their own.  I am so grateful for everything in my life, past and present, the good and the bad, because I have learned so much from each and every experience.  I am grateful for the ability to choose, to make mistakes, to be able to listen to those who have more wisdom and make to better choices.  I am grateful for that still small voice that I’ve learned to try to listen to, which guides me for good and helps me avoid pitfalls and frustration.

I am looking forward to this new year with hope and joy.  I am on an upswing and that feels great!  I hope everyone has a new year filled with joy and love and experiences that bring us all closer to wisdom, love, and peace.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

My first craft fair!

Today I was In a beautiful greenhouse gift nursery at  4845 SW. Third, Corvallis Oregon, selling my scarves and workshops and other pretty things.  I will be there again tomorrow from 10 AM till 4 PM. Please come have a look!

 

My sister Krista was there, sharing a table with me, selling her ceramics. She makes sculptures and wallhangings and pendants.    Her fiancé  Kevin was there helping for the day.

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For our first time having a display at a craft fair we had a good experience. I sold a workshop  certificate and a few items.  Krista sold several items as well.  Yay us!