Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward 2011 (Part II)

Yesterday I talked about some of my goals for writing in 2011. Today I'm going to talk about another area I want, and need, to focus on in 2011.


This is more important than my writing goals, because we're talking about my health. It's also much more personal, and therefore much more difficult for me to discuss. But as I said, I'm hoping that posting about my goals here will help me stay more accountable and focused.

I have spent most of my life overweight. I was a chubby kid, and in high school I was 10-15 lbs overweight. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, but I also danced 15-20 hours a week, so that helped keep my weight down somewhat. When I went to college, I continued to eat whatever I wanted, but I was no longer dancing, so the weight started to pile on and stayed there. I would make short term attempts to eat healthier and exercise, but they never lasted more than a month or so.

In 1999 I decided it was time to try again, and I went and joined Weight Watchers. I was motivated this time, as I was dating Rob, and while we weren't yet engaged, we had discussed marriage and I didn't want to be a fat bride. Once I set my mind to something, I can generally do it, I just have to want to put forth the effort. In 1999, I did, and by the time I got married in June 2000 I was down to a healthy weight and looked and felt great. I kept it off for a couple of years, but by 2002, it was starting to creep back on, and I was doing nothing about it. I had changed my lifestyle, as far as food and exercise, to lose the weight, but I didn't maintain the changes over time. So here I am again, back where I started, where I swore I would never be again, and a few pounds heavier to boot.

My sister is getting married in May, and I am the Matron of Honor. I know I can't lose all of the weight I need to lose to get to a healthy weight before then, but I can lose some of it. I have also been having some issues with my back, which are thankfully unrelated to my weight, but back surgery is somewhere in my future. I don't know if it will be this year or next, or maybe even several years down the road, but I'm sure my recovery will be easier with less weight to worry about. I need to do this for my health in general, but I'm hoping that these will also give me a little extra motivation to stick to it this time.

I know I have emotional issues with food. I use food for comfort, stress relief, and reward alike. I am also realistic about what changes I can make in my eating habits that can be maintained. I am lazy by nature when it comes to exercise, however, I know that when I exercise regularly, I tend to eat healthier, so exercise has to be part of the plan.

I'm not going to use a specific plan this time. Weight Watchers has recently changed their points system and I don't care for the new program. I also know that finding time to get to a meeting, with the way my work schedule is going to be, and the distance the meeting center now is from my office is unrealistic, and if I can't make a meeting, I tend to give myself too much leeway for a couple of days. I am however going to use some of the tricks and tools I learned from Weight Watchers the first go round, and I'm going to use an online support forum as well as this blog to keep me accountable.

Goal - Eat healthier and keep a food journal. Yes, I know the "eat healthier" part is vague and difficult to actually measure, but by keeping the food journal I'll be able to determine whether I'm actually succeeding in eating mostly healthy foods. I don't plan to track points exactly, nor do I plan to keep track of all the calories, fat, fiber, carbs, etc. I will focus on things like eating more fruits and vegetables, eating lower-fat, drinking more water and less diet soda, etc. I will write down everything I eat, and also any thoughts or feelings related to what I'm eating. Did I eat that candy bar because I was stressed or bored, etc.

Goal - Exercise regularly. Again, somewhat vague, but that's because this will be an evolving goal and what is "regular" will change. I have an appointment with my orthopedist next week, and I need to discuss with him what specific exercises I can do without risking further back damage. After that discussion, I'm going to set some specific exercise goals for the next month. I'm pretty sure from previous discussions that walking will be o.k., but I don't know what will be acceptable as far as other types of exercise such as hand weights, etc. I plan to increase the amount of exercise over time. So while my goal for the first month might be to walk 30 minutes 3 times a week, the second month might be 5 times a week, or still 3 times a week, but for 45 minutes. This is something I need to sit down and spend a little more time on planning. I will create a written plan, on at least a monthly basis, and will keep track of my exercise.

Goal - Track my weight and measurements. This might seem obvious, but I want to make it a goal, because if I don't I'll have a tendency not to weigh myself for a couple of weeks and I lose focus. I will weigh myself every Monday morning, and I will keep track on a chart of what I have lost (or gained). I may also post my gains and loses here, although I won't be telling you my actual weight anytime soon. I will also take my measurements and re-measure the first Monday of every month.

I plan to "officially" start with my weight and tracking on Monday, January 3, 2011. Since I will weigh myself on Mondays, a week will be Monday through Sunday for these goals.

As I mentioned before, this is a difficult issue for me to talk about. I know what I need to do to lose the weight, I just have to do it. If you have any great healthy recipes for me to try, or have found a new, fun way to exercise, or something of that nature, please feel free to share. I'm open to comments in general as well. But honestly, what I don't want to hear about are specific diet plans, such as Atkins or south beach, the grapefruit diet, the no bread diet, or how I should go vegetarian or vegan or whatever. I am looking to make changes to my eating and exercise habits that I can maintain to continue to live a healthy lifestyle after I've lost the weight. I cannot eat low carb or vegetarian the rest of my life, it's just not going to happen. I will never completely give up pizza, I will just eat less of it and less often. So please just restrain yourself from commenting if all you have to offer is to tell me about the great vitamin drink you have in place of 2 meals a day….not going to happen!

I don't plan on turning this into a weight loss blog either. I will definitely be talking some about my efforts at weight loss, but it will not dominate every post, I promise.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Forward 2011 (Part I)

I don't make New Year's resolutions per se, but I do try to use the beginning of the new year as a time to think about and choose some areas of my life that I'd like to focus on or make improvements in as the new year progresses, and set some attainable, measureable goals in those areas.

I've started thinking some about what those will be in 2011, and while some of them will stay private, there are a couple I want to post about here, for two reasons. First, they're areas of my life that I will probably post about a good bit, and second, by putting my goals out here it will help me stay more accountable to myself just knowing that others know what I'm trying to achieve.

You can probably guess the first one….WRITING

After a dedicated couple of months this fall, my writing has been sadly almost nonexistent for the past 6 weeks or so. There are a lot of excuses for this, mainly that I have been focused on other things, but it basically boils down to the fact that I have not made the time to write.

Nanowrimo turned into basically Nanothing this year. I just didn't have a clear idea of where my story was going and got frustrated with it and gave up. I haven't given up on the story itself, but it will need to be rethought and researched more before it's replanned and any more writing occurs on that idea. I've decided that rather than trying to just write a novel, even a basic rough draft of one, I should focus more on getting in the habit of writing and improving my writing skills. If an idea for another novel should strike me fully formed I'm not saying I won't start writing on it, but I'm not going to make a novel my goal for the year, rather I'm going to work on smaller writing projects and smaller goals.

Goal - Make time to write at least 30 minutes every single day. Until August 1, 2011, this can include writing in my personal journal, writing a blog post, doing a writing exercise, or just writing whatever comes to me at the time. The point is, I have to write it, not just compose it in my head while driving or laying in bed. After August 1, 2011, writing in my personal journal no longer counts towards the 30 minutes. Hopefully by that point I will be more in the habit of writing and won't be as stymied on what to write about other than the minutia of my day. Also, by that time of the year, work will be less crazy and I should have more time in general to write in my personal journal and do other writing as well. There will definitely be times the first half of the year when all my brain will be able to do is relate the minutia of my day, if that, so in order to meet this goal, some days my personal journal will have to count.

Goal - Do a blog post 3 times a week. For purposes of this goal, a week is Sunday through Saturday. Some of the posts might be short, and might be along the lines of "work is so crazy right now I don't have time to think", and you might see a lot more weekend posts than weekday posts, but I think this is doable, and if I meet this, then that covers at least 3 days a week of my 30 minute/day goal.

Goal - At least once a week, do a writing exercise. Again, Sunday through Saturday is a week. By writing exercise, I mean either: 1) taking a writing prompt and spending some time writing something and doing at least some editing and crafting of the writing, or 2) doing an exercise from one of the writing sites, books, magazines, etc. that is designed to work on a particular area of writing, such as plot, character development, dialogue, etc.

Goal - Actually keep track of whether I'm meeting these goals. I will create a document or calendar or something that tracks when I do each of these so that I can see whether I'm meeting the goals.

That's it for today, more tomorrow.

Looking Back - 2010

The holiday season has been very busy this year, and not just because of the holidays. All of 2010 was pretty busy for us, and as we start to look forward to 2011, I thought I would do a little recap of some of the major events of 2010 in our family. For those of you related to me, it will be a walk down memory lane, and for those few of you reading this who are not related to me, perhaps it will give a little more background and insight into me and my life.

Our son, Logan, joined the Army in late 2009 and graduated from basic training in February 2010. He was at Ft. Jackson, SC for basic, so fortunately we were able to drive down for the weekend for his graduation, as were my parents and Rob's (previously mentioned as "my husband") parents. It was a busy weekend, with a few headaches because of the vast number of people on base for the weekend's festivities, and the nasty, rainy, weather which forced the ceremonies indoors and created some confusion, but overall we were glad to be there. We're very proud that he has chosen to serve in the Army. After basic, Logan was off to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona for his AIT (Advanced Individual Training), which is essentially his specific job training.

After Logan's graduation, most of the next couple of months were relatively uneventful. The only real item of note is that around this time, after a long search, I finally found a knitting group that clicked. It may seem silly, but I had visited a couple of groups and guilds over the fall, looking for a group of fellow knitters to meet with regularly, and while they were all welcoming, none of them seemed quite the right fit. I've been on Ravelry for a couple of years and at one time had contacted the few people on that site that live in Sanford to see if they wanted to try to get together. We were unsuccessful in arranging anything that suited everyone's schedule, but one of the ladies I had contacted previously contacted me again early this year and asked if I wanted to meet up sometime. Since we both live in Sanford, but work in Raleigh, we met one night after work and then went to a guild meeting I had been attending some. We hit it off pretty well, so she invited me to the knitting group she attends regularly, and that's the group that finally clicked. It's a mixed group of people, ages, and professions, but I feel at home there and that I can be myself and they love to knit like I do!

In May, we were off to Boone to see our daughter, Carey, graduate from Appalachian State University. It was a fun weekend with my parents and Rob's parents. We stayed at a nice little hotel in Blowing Rock within walking distance of downtown Blowing Rock. The owners were very friendly, and it was nice to be able to walk downtown without having to find a place to park. It was a much colder weekend than we had expected for May, but other than that, and the fact that my father wasn't feeling very well, we had a good time.

In June, Rob and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We're not big on the actual celebration part, but we did spend a nice Saturday together visiting several NC wineries, and we brought home quite a bit of good wine to prove it!

Logan came home for 2 weeks in June between finishing AIT and reporting to his duty station at Ft. Bliss, TX. We had friends and family over to see him one Saturday while he was here and also surprised him with a visit from his grandmother that lives in Michigan.

On July 9th, my brother and his wife had their 3rd daughter. Like her two older sisters, she's a beautiful baby. She has to be the happiest, most cheerful baby I've ever been around. She rarely cries or gets fussy, and is content for just about anyone to hold her, or to just sit in her carrier or swing and watch what's going on. Also in July, Logan surprised us all with the announcement that he had gotten engaged. He was only 18 and had only known his fiancé for a few months, so we were very surprised, and a little concerned, but he seemed to know that she is the one for him. At the time, he said the wedding would be a couple of years away.

In August, we celebrated my parents' 70th birthday and 44th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. This turned out to be an eventful weekend. My sister and her boyfriend came in from San Francisco for the weekend, and he proposed to her on Friday on the main quad on the campus of UNC. My father, my sister, and I are all alumni of UNC and we are a definite UNC family, so it meant a lot to her that he would recognize that in his proposal. We had a great time at dinner and it was nice to hang out with my sister a bit, since we don't see each other that often.

Rob and I took a trip to the North Georgia mountains in mid-September. As I am enthralled with knitting, Rob is equally entranced by wood turning, so we went for a wood turning symposium. An entire weekend of talks and demonstrations on turning wood on a lathe. I attended a few of the sessions, but otherwise enjoyed some quiet time knitting and wandering around North Georgia a bit. And of course, I visited the local yarn shop! We stayed at Unicoi State Park, where the symposium was held. The closest town was Helen, GA, which is a small town that looks like a German alpine village. Touristy to the extreme, but fun to walk around for a bit. Rob learned a lot, we saw some really great and creative turned items, and it was a nice relaxing weekend.

In early November, Carey and her boyfriend came to spend a weekend with us here in Sanford. We had an enjoyable weekend just hanging out, and after they left I realized that it was the first time she had come home that it felt like having adult house guests for the weekend rather than a college student crashing at the house. It's nice to begin to develop an adult relationship with your children and not have to play the parent role all the time. Thanksgiving was spent at Rob's parents' home near Charlotte. My parents came down and had Thanksgiving dinner with us, and we had a good time.

The holidays snuck up on me this year. I had a lot going on with work and before I knew it, it was almost Christmas. But before we got to Christmas, we had another big event. Logan got married on December 19th. They had a small ceremony in Fayetteville, NC. She made a beautiful bride, and he was very handsome in his Class A uniform. We were glad that most of the family, including Logan's grandmother, aunt and uncle from Michigan were able to attend. They are young, but they seem committed to each other and committed to dealing with the ups and downs that marriage may bring. We hope that they will have a long happy life together. Unfortunately, Logan only had a few days leave, so was not able to stay through Christmas. He had to head back to Ft. Bliss, but he's in the process of getting all the paperwork filed and finding them an apartment off-base, and she plans to move out to TX in mid-January, so hopefully they won't be separated for much longer.

Due to everything going on, and the fact that I wasn't hosting this year, I didn't "do" Christmas this year the way I usually do. I did a minimal amount of decorating, and didn't even put up a tree. I had a small ceramic lighted tree on the bar in the dining room and put up my outside lights and that was about it. I also didn't do as much baking, since my house wasn't going to be full of guests to eat it all. I did make a few favorites and took some to the neighbors as usual. I didn't even send out Christmas cards, as I just couldn't find the time to sit down and write them all. (However, if you usually receive a Christmas card from me, don't despair, you will most likely receive an edited version of this post in a New Year's letter!)

We had a white Christmas!!!! We spent Christmas at my parents' house this year and really enjoyed it. My sister and her fiancé came in from CA. We went to Reidsville on Christmas Eve. Carey met us there and we hung out Friday with my parents and my sister and her fiancé. Friday afternoon the girls went and had manicures and pedicures, while the boys went to help Dad pick out and install a flat screen TV for Mom's Christmas present. I think Dad really wanted it as much as he wanted to get it for Mom, but I think they will both enjoy it. And for my techie husband, who also can't stand to just sit around without doing anything, it gave him something to do for a while. Christmas Day, while we were waiting for my brother and his family to get there, it started snowing. And kept on snowing. We had a nice Christmas dinner and some social time, including snowman building by my nieces, father and sister's fiancé. By the time Rob, Carey and I left around 5:30, Reidsville had close to a couple of inches of snow and it was still snowing hard. But by the time we got just south of Greensboro, 30 miles away, it was only rain.

But we didn't miss the snow here in Sanford, we just had to wait a little longer. It started here around midnight Saturday night and snowed all day Sunday off and on. Overall we ended up with 5-6 inches. That's quite a bit of snow for the sandhills of NC in general, and especially this early in the year. We had a lazy day Sunday, just hanging out reading and knitting and watching the snow, and other than a 2 hour power outage Sunday morning all was well.

Well, I believe I have probably written more than enough for one post, but at least I posted something! Tomorrow I start looking forward to 2011.