Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wall or Plateau?

It's frustrating and demoralizing when you stop seeing progress in your weight loss efforts, even though you're still trying. At first, it seems like a wall - something that stops you in your tracks, forcing you to stop moving in one direction and move in another one. If I think it's a wall, I'll most likely do just what I've done in the past - give up and go back the way I came. Then the weight comes creeping back on and I'm right back where I started.

The other option is to see this temporary pause in weight loss as a plateau. With a plateau, you can keep going the same direction and, after a time, you'll continue on as originally planned. That's actually what this phase is called. Instead of giving up this time, as I have so many times in the past, I'm going to see myself through this season and stick to my goals.

There are many different explanations as to why the body reaches a plateau in weight loss, and there are countless ways to remedy it. The reason? In simplified terms, the body reaches an equilibrium between the intake and the expense of calories. As you lose weight, your basic metabolic rate slows down, reducing the number of calories your body needs to function. Since you've already reduced your caloric intake, your body has readjusted.

The solution? Shake things up a bit. Eat a few more calories than you have been, then go back down again. Reduce carb intake and slightly increase protein. If you're not exercising, start. If you are exercising, do something different. Run instead of walk. Increase weights or repetitions. Switch your exercise routine or exercise at a different time of day. And most importantly, don't give up. Eventually you will get across the plateau and see success again.

So, now that I'm at that point, what do I need to do to get through it? I probably could stand to increase my protein intake. I only eat two slices of lunch meat on my daily half a sandwich. (Four is a whole serving.) At supper, my meat intake is low. I'm trying to focus on eating more vegetables and fewer carbs, but I've cut back a lot on my meats. On my last grocery trip, I bought cheese stick snacks to give me a little fat and protein, as opposed to eating a handful of tortilla chips (carbs) and salsa. I also bought some almonds, pistachios, and dry roasted peanuts in the shell. If I can eat a little of those at snack times, I'll be increasing my protein by quite a bit.

As for exercise, I had gotten out of the habit. The last few weeks have found me making more of an effort, but it's still not consistent. I do have several exercises to try that are supposed to increase metabolism, so I'm going to start doing those at least four times a week. Once the weather warms up, I'll be able to do more - walking to the park, riding bikes with the boys, swimming, etc. If I can hang in there until then, I'm pretty certain I'll see another stretch of weight loss.

So far, I've lost 8 pounds - the same amount I reached the last time I plateaued and gave up. I'm determined not to do that this time. I've broken my goal of 35 pounds into four more easily reachable goals of 10 pounds each. (I know that comes up to 40 pounds. I'll be happy with 35, ecstatic with 40...) Now I need to set some small rewards for reaching each of those goals. For the first 10 pounds, I might buy myself a new shirt. For the next 10, I might actually buy a new swimsuit. (I saw some I liked in Target yesterday as I was rushing through, searching for curtain rods for my bedroom...) For the third 10 pounds, I'll probably need a new pair of pants. And for the fourth and final 10, who knows? That will take some consideration.

In the meantime, though, I need to focus on making a few small changes and getting myself through to the other side of the plateau.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Previous Assignments

This catches me up with all of this year's Photo Friday assignments. While I can't post them on the site anymore, I will at least have completed them all. I hope to stay current with them now.

January 1: Square

Texas Discovery Gardens, Dallas Arboretum

January 8: Bed Time

Sweet Dreams

January 15: Slowly

at the lagoon behind the Science Museum at Fair Park in Dallas

January 22: Damaged

shrunken head, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, Branson, MO

January 29: Distant

Table Rock Lake, Branson, MO

February 5: Surfaces

Record snowfall, February 11, 2010, Dallas

February 12: Lightness

albino alligator, Dallas Zoo


Several posts back, I mentioned that I wanted to do more with my photography. One of my goals was to participate more regularly in Photo Friday, but I just didn't make the time to sort through my pictures or go take any that fit each week's theme. Now I'm ready! I would like to catch up with the older assignments from this year, so I'll work on that soon.

This is one of my favorite flower photos from the Dallas Arboretum, taken last summer when I had a chance to go by myself and take my own sweet time doing whatever I felt like doing.

The bright, warm colors match my bedroom, so soon I'm going to have this printed poster size so I can frame it and hang it above my bed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 2010-06

We had so many leftovers from last week's meals (and the weekend's leftovers from Posados) that we're set for at least 2 nights this week! This is going to be an EASY week!



Chicken Tortilla Soup


??? We'll be doing something special with Jacob since Caleb will be away at an overnight music camp. (Sabine Creek Ranch is recording a children's praise and worship CD and a group of kids from our church, along with some others, will be singing on it.)

scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits & jelly

sandwiches or leftover soup (if there is any...)

For more menu plan ideas, click here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 2010-05

Argh!!! The snow last week totally messed up my schedule, but at least I kept to my menu plan. :o)

Omelets - Since I have to run errands and grocery shop today, I'm going to use my buy one/get one free coupon on two dozen eggs.

Meatloaf, corn casserole, steamed broccoli, and salad
Panera Bread - Happy birthday, Billy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Applesauce Meatloaf, corn casserole, steamed broccoli

Lasaga, Caesar salad, Italian herb bread, and brownies a la mode - Dr. John and Carolyn Hannah are going to come over for dinner and catching up. I haven't had a good talk with Carolyn in several months!

Leftovers - and plenty of them!

Out with my family to celebrate birthdays!

Leftovers (I'm sure there will be plenty) or sandwiches

For more menu plan ideas, click here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To Bee or Not to Bee

Caleb is supposed to participate in the Kaufman County Spelling Bee tomorrow afternoon. He's been working hard since October learning to spell a list of 250 words that range from jet, can, and wig to latitudinarian, horripilation, and fluoroscope.

The big question is this: If it snows tonight and tomorrow as forecast, will they reschedule the bee?

In a way, it would be beneficial to have a postponement. Caleb has several words he's been having trouble with, and that would give him a little more time to study them.

On the other hand, he's ready to get this done. He's waffled at times on wanting to drop out of the bee because he's gotten frustrated with missing the harder words. Then he'll be successful at spelling even more difficult words and his feelings toward it will change.

Tired of his fits and complaining about the words being hard, I gave him an ultimatum last week. I told him he needed to decide once and for all if he's going to participate, to think seriously about whether he wanted to do this or not. If he did, we'd continue working on the word list and he wouldn't complain about it. If he didn't, I'd let the bee coordinator know and that would be the end of things - and I wouldn't allow him to participate the following year. Even though he decided to continue on this year, he's not sure if he wants to try next year. I guess that will be determined by how he does in the actual bee, not our practicing for it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 2010-04

I don't have much creativity going this week. Maybe next week I'll plan for a new recipe to try. I want to start doing that more often, but there are so many other things we like, I forget to.

Fried Rice and Vegetable Egg Rolls

Chili Cheese Corn Dogs

Chicken Pot Pie, Salad

leftover night


Out! Billy's parents will be in town to celebrate Jacob's and Billy's birthdays.

Pizza Night and Dessert Auction at church. I'll be donating an apple crisp.

For more menu plan ideas, click here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 2010 Book List

6. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

It's definitely not theologically sound, but it is a really good story. From the first page to the last, it was hard to put down.

The story begins on the last day of Eddie's life. His journey in heaven, where he meets five people who have had some unknown influence on his life, is interrupted with glimpses of past birthdays and flashbacks from his life that shed a little more light on who he has become.

I may have found a new favorite author. I've put Tuesdays with Morrie on my immediate reading list.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

This third book in the series doesn't suffer from anything. In fact, the plot gets even better. I thought I had things figured out, but was totally thrown for a loop with the plot twist. Great writing! The fourth book is on my shelf - over 700 pages long. I can't wait to get started on it!

The book begins with Harry spending his second summer break from Hogwarts with the Dursleys. After an angry incident where Harry causes Mr. Durlsey's aunt to swell up like a huge balloon, he flees the Dursleys' home and catches a wizard bus to Diagon Alley, part of the wizard world in London. On the way there, he finds out about an escapee from the wizard prison of Azkaban, someone who appears to be looking to kill Harry. He's kept safe by wizard friends until time for school to begin again. As he, Ron, Hermione, and their fellow students travel by Hogwarts Express to school, the train is stopped by haunting dementors - the soulless guards of Azkaban. They're searching for Sirius Black, the escapee. The dementors affect Harry in a way he's never experienced before - and hopes to never experience again. Unfortunately they've been sent to guard the Hogwarts campus against Black. A new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher befriends Harry and helps him learn to fight the dementors and other evil beings that have begun to threaten him. But Professor Lupin is not as he seems, and his past and present bring surprises to Harry and his friends.

8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Once again, we find Harry spending his summer with the Dursleys, but this time things are a little better. The Dursleys fear retribution from Harry's godfather, an unjustly imprisoned (but escaped) wizard they believe to be a murderer. Harry joins Hermione and their friend Ron, along with his family, at the annual World Quidditch Cup. The game ends quickly, but chaos ensues after some dark wizards terrorize a non-wizarding family and someone sends the Dark Mark of the evil Lord Voldemort into the night sky. Fear settles in Harry's heart as he starts his fourth year at Hogwarts and inadvertently gets chosen by the Goblet of Fire to participate in a potentially deadly tournament with 3 other students from Hogwarts and two other international wizarding schools, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. Harry fears someone is trying to kill him through the tournament, and as he faces each of the three challenges, he must call upon friends and a fierce determination to live.

I wasn't sure I would like this book as well, but the story gets better and better with each successive volume. I'm ready to read the 5th book, but it's not in my library! I put it on hold and checked out the 6th book so I'll be ready to continue as soon as I can.

9. Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl

After sharing stories of being embarrassed by her mother in her memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires (all great books!), Reichl finally delves into her mother's past and realizes how much her mother actually taught her. She comes to understand some of what made her mother do the things she did, what made her sad and bitter about certain things, and what efforts she made to make sure Ruth didn't turn out like her.

This was a touching book, but I think it was more so because I had read Reichl's other books first, had gotten to "know" her mother through her embarrassed and unaccepting eyes. I would recommend reading the other books first to get the full effect of how her realization of her mother's past changes her views of her and brings her to a new level of love and appreciation, albeit too late.


There were a few books I tried reading this month, but I just couldn't get into them. One of them was Twinkie, Deconstructed. It's about all the food additives in processed foods. It looked promising, but it was too technical for my tastes. (No pun intended.)

The other book, Napoleon's Hemorrhoids, was full of bits and pieces of history and how circumstances caused certain outcomes. Not being a history buff, I found much of it dry and boring. There were some pop culture topics later in the book, but I had lost interest by the time I found them. (I'll admit it. The title caught my eye and I just had to check it out.)

My new reading philosophy is this: There are too many good books in this world to spend time trying to get through the not-so-good ones. If you don't like it, put it down.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On Romans 14: 1-12

I've been studying my way through Romans for a while now, taking one section of verses each day. (Well, most days.) I read the day's verses, read Warren Wiersbe's The Bible Exposition Commentary on those verses, and write down notes and observations that I find especially meaningful.

Today's verses (Romans 14:1-12) were not new to me. I remember discussing them in Pastor Kevin's Sunday school class at Open Door Bible Church several years ago. We specifically discussed eating at a particular Asian restaurant - I can't remember which one - where the meat had been sacrificed to Buddha before being prepared. Some people wouldn't eat there because of that. Others didn't mind at all because they weren't the ones making the sacrifices: since Buddha isn't real, the sacrifices don't really mean anything.

As I read these verses and the commentary this morning, I was struck by several other examples. Some people believe Christians should abstain from drinking alcohol; others see occasional use as okay, whether it's for social or medicinal purposes. The Bible doesn't say not to drink; in fact, Paul encourages Timothy to drink a little wine for health reasons (1 Tim. 5:23). The Bible does, however, say not to get drunk (Eph. 5:18), and it gives several examples of the problems drunkenness will cause. Some are taken from a person's experience - Noah (Gen. 9:20-27) and Lot (Gen. 19:30-38), just to name two - while others are given as bits of wisdom (Prov. 20:1).

*Please note: I am not trying to give an exhaustive list of references, just a few examples. There are many more than what I've shown. If you would like to do a more intensive study, I would recommend using NET

Another good example of this is choosing to follow or not follow certain traditions. Some people do not celebrate certain holidays or say the Pledge of Allegiance - and I've heard many reasons for why. Others may choose to celebrate a holiday in a non-traditional way such as not using certain decorations.

One big argument that often arises in churches is which translation of the Bible should be read, often with one group with strong leanings toward the King James Version.

The entertainment arena is another hotbed of controversy. Several years ago, it was focused on music. More recently, the focus has shifted to books, movies, and television.

What it all boils down to is this: If what you do or don't do doesn't go against what God tells us in the Bible, it's up to you to decide if it's right for you or not. It's not anyone's place to determine what's right for anyone else. It's also not anyone's place to judge someone for his or her choices. That is best left to Jesus Christ, before whom we will stand at the Judgment Seat.

I don't want to be judged by others because of my choices, but I know I often judge others for theirs. While I can think of several specific examples on both side, I won't list them here lest the judging begin.

At the end of my notes, I wrote down a prayer:
Lord, help me to not be judging. Help me to accept and respect the choices others make, whether they are choices I would make or not. Help me to remember that You are the Lord of my life and theirs, not me.

I like verse 12: "Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (NET)

In reading further, I found that 1 Cor. 8:1-13 addresses this same thing, but more specifically eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. The application here is not to do things that might cause other Christians to stumble.

It's Official

Actually it became official Monday. I am no longer a Pampered Chef consultant. I feel relieved that I don't have to make phone calls and set up shows and all the other stuff that goes along with it. I was also feeling pressure to recruit new consultants to join my team, but I was never comfortable with that. I felt like I had to be pushy to do it, and I'm not that way. Granted, I did enjoy being a consultant in the beginning (except for the recruiting part) - and most of the first two years of it. Then I became apathetic. The last year was one of questioning: Do I keep this up? Should I keep this up? It just took some serious thought and talking things over with Billy for me to come to the decision that I needed to get out. If I wasn't enjoying it anymore, why keep doing it half-heartedly? I wasn't doing myself or my customers or the company any good that way.

I've cleaned out my bags, boxes, and drawers. I've thrown old things away, shredded old copies of receipts, and put business materials that are still usable into a box to take to my former director so she can use them or pass them on to someone else. My next step is closing that bank account before I incur a service charge.

Even though I'm officially not a consultant, I still get emails from the company and I can still access the consultant website. I don't care about the emails, but I'm glad I can still access the site for now. The new selling season starts in March, but on Monday, Feb. 8, they'll have the new spring products online for consultants to see. I just want to know what's coming. The last two seasons haven't really thrilled me, but you never know when they might introduce the next great thing. Maybe I'll still have access to the site by then. I don't know their timetable on deleting my consultant privileges.

So, what do I do now? What's my next step? I would like to take my jewelry from just a hobby to a small business. There are a lot of differences between that and my being a Pampered Chef consultant:

1. I don't have to maintain minimum monthly requirements to remain active.
2. I don't risk losing career sales, increased commissions, and bonuses if I don't sell a certain amount over a certain period of time.
3. I don't have to make phone calls every night to drum up business.
4. I don't have to have home parties if I don't want to, but I can if someone is interested. (Two friends have already offered.)
5. If I do choose to have a home party, I won't have all the prep work, clean-up work, or the load to carry that I did with Pampered Chef.
6. I can set my prices and whatever I make from it is mine.
7. I can truly work from home.
8. I get to express my creativity in various ways.
9. There's no pressure to recruit anyone to join my "team".

The list could go on.

I'm currently deciding on my business name. Once that is settled, I'll get a website for showcasing my jewelry and I'll set up a Facebook Fan Page. I get more exposure through FB than I did through my Etsy shop, which is like finding a needle in a haystack the size of Texas.

My goal is to have my website up by March 1, which is 3 1/2 short weeks away. I've got some work to do!

Update: Monday, February 8 - Today is the day they release the information on the new spring products. My website access has been canceled, so I'll find out when the general public does. Hopefully I won't get emails from the home office anymore.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 2010-03

We had to go out of town last week for a funeral, so part of that menu plan will be carrying over to this week.

Homemade Pizza - It'll be just us this time. The Chisholms are going to come over later this month.

Chipotle-Panko Breaded Chicken Strips, Creamed Corn, Salad, Homemade Rolls

I forgot LOST was going to be premiering, so I changed our menu to whatever's quick and doesn't require much clean-up.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, Homemade Rolls

Homemade rolls weren't necessary since I remembered to get croutons for the salad.

Baked Rotini, Salad, Italian Herb Bread


It's Jacob's birthday, so he gets to choose where to eat. He wants Double Dave's pizza. No surprise there!

Super Bowl Sunday
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo - In honor of the Saints! Who dat?!?

For more menu plan ideas, click here.