Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weights and Measures

The weight is coming off more slowly now. Although I can't say that I'm happy about it, I know that it's to be expected. So, along with the scale I've added a tape measure to my motivational tools arsenal. Now I have two sets of numbers to motivate me: one in pounds the other in inches.

I love reading weight loss success stories and advice tips. Somewhere along the line I read that it's a good idea to take body measurements. The reason for this is that as you build muscle your body becomes leaner even though your body weight may not change...or it may increase. I've only lost 8lbs all summer, but I've lost about 2+ inches overall. I suspect that's the reason why I can now wear a size 10 (cough) even if it's still a little snug around the middle. So if the scale is not moving fast enough for you, then break out the old tape measure. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update WLJ

I updated the Weight Loss Journal with this month's photo. I'm wearing my latest Goodwill find - size 10 jeans. Woo hoo! I know, I know, vanity sizing. Strangely enough they don't look that much different from my size 12 jeans, but I'll take it anyway. The numbers are still proof that I've lost weight. Onward and downward.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Short Bus

It's that wonderful time of year called Back to School. Besides the back-to-school sale flyers nothing symbolizes Back to School like the yellow school bus in its iconic shade of School Bus Yellow. (Technically, the color is called National School Bus Glossy Yellow. Who knew?) The yellow school bus, it seems, is as American as apple pie. I guess.

Keen observers such as small children will notice that there are big yellow buses and short yellow buses. (As a side note: did you know that the plural of bus can also be spelled busses? Hmmm.) A curious child might ask, "Why are there two bus sizes?" How to answer this question. Let's see. Well, let's start with what the short yellow bus is not. The short bus is not The Retard Rocket. It is not the SpEd Sled. It is not the Tart Cart. (If you're curious about these terms, then visit Urban Dictionary. If you're easily offended then don't.) The short bus is a hard-working bus equipped with a wheelchair lift because some children cannot walk and must use wheelchairs. Some children may have difficulty sitting because of low muscle tone and may require support from a seat belt found on the short bus.

The short yellow bus is a hard-working bus that transports equally hard-working students. You see, many of these students struggle to master basic tasks and skills that come so much easier to the students on the big bus. Whether it's walking, talking, eating, reading, writing, or simply understanding, the students on the short bus have had difficulty learning to do some of these basics. Yet, despite all of this, these courageous students go off to school - sometimes happily - never knowing that the words "short bus" have become a disparaging term.

I don't want to paint an idyllic picture of life on the short bus. It's not all fun and games and yes, sometimes there are behavioral challenges. However, it's not all fun and games on the big bus either. But then again, the kids on the big bus should know better. So the next time you see a short yellow school bus just know that it carries students like my son. Just know that it carries students whose parents are so grateful that their children have an opportunity to go to school.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ " Matthew 25:40

Thursday, August 18, 2011

BFD - August '11

I wanted something chocolatey. Last week, I made a chocolate banana bread and it was pretty darn good. For BFD, however, I wanted something a little more delicate. Fancy even. But what? Pain au chocolat, that's what! For this month's BFD we had:

Pain au Chocolat
Fruit, Yogurt & Granola Parfait

I purposely waited to have BFD on a night when the kids had already gone back to school so that I would have time to prepare this. Although the recipe is not that complicated it does require time. Most of the time is spent chilling the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes at a time, which you have to do four times. Don't let that scare you. This pain au chocolat is worth the time.

The instructions and pictures are very thorough, so if you have a rolling pin and some time, you're good to go. I made only two alterations to the recipe: (1) I used a combination of white flour and whole wheat flour; (2) I did not have "good quality chocolate" like Callebaut as the recipe called for, but I did have lots of leftover Hershey bars from our camping trip. I just couldn't let those go to waste. In spite of those alterations, this pastry was beyond yummy. Delicate flaky layers? Yes. Buttery? Yes. A must to try if you've been craving a pastry but don't want to spend money at the bakery. The recipe said that it made 3 dozen, but the author specified that she made them small. I got 16 of them and that was perfect for me.

I had also been craving a yogurt and granola parfait. Don't ask me why. The recipe I found called for Greek yogurt, which I use anyway. Personally, I like the texture and thickness of Greek yogurt especially Zoi - it's almost as thick as sour cream. Sadly, I used store-bought granola. In the past I have made my own granola, but honestly, it's a bit of work. I decided to save my effort for the pastry. All in all, I'm proud of my effort. If you want to impress your family and friends then try making some pain au chocolat.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Commitment and Follow-Through

8/15 Morning Walk
We've all heard some variation of this theme: the gyms are packed in January and by February they're empty again. Why is that? Why do some people start off strong and then fizzle out? If I were to play amateur psychologist, I would say that some people secretly don't want to change their habits, or at least they're not ready to. But, everyone berates themselves for carrying extra pounds and makes a New Year's resolution to lose weight, right? Guilt. It seems like the thing to do. I would also say that many people have yet to realize that lasting change doesn't happen overnight; it takes time. Many people want results and they want them NOW. So, they exercise every day for an hour. When they don't get the results they want when they want, they quit. Impatience.

I'm sure there are other reasons and I'm just guessing, of course, because after all I am an amateur. When I started my weight loss program, I approached it with the attitude that it was time to take charge and show my body who was boss. I had the diet mindset. I drastically reduced my calories to about 1000 - 1200 per day. Stop beating yourself up. I had it all wrong. All I needed to do was to gradually decrease the amount that I had been eating and move more than I had been doing. I had to make the commitment to change my habits. I had to make the commitment to eat sensibly and to exercise for a lifetime. Then I had to follow through on those commitments.

In an older entry, "Motivation and Accountability" I posted a picture of my pedometer that read 2.89 miles. I now walk between 5.0 and 5.5 miles. When I started walking, I committed to 3 days per week. Now, I walk 5 days per week. Enthusiasm is great; but if you lose motivation and become discouraged because you are overdoing it and not seeing the results that you want, you will be more likely to quit. Start by making a commitment that you know you can keep for at least a month. Can you easily exercise 3 days a week? Do it. Only 15 minutes a day? Do it. After a month, you will feel so much better about yourself for having kept your commitment. Then you can work on gradually increasing your time. Commitment and follow-through are the building blocks to lasting change. If you're on a similar journey, I wish you the very best.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When to Spend

I don't like spending any more than I have to. Well, that's not entirely true; I do make plenty of exceptions to that rule. Sometimes I spend more for the sake of convenience - often this is the worst reason to spend more. Sometimes I spend more because the quality or service is often superior to the cheaper option. Sometimes I spend more in order to teach a life lesson. That's what I did today.

Today, I decided that I had to do something with those brown-spotted bananas in the cupboard. I got the brilliant idea to make chocolate banana bread. Yum. But honestly, what's banana bread without cream cheese? I suppose you could slather butter on it, but I prefer cream cheese. Of course, I didn't have cream cheese. Did I really need it? No. However, I did have a 5 dollar bill just burning a hole in my wallet, and I have an almost 12 year-old. What's the point of having an almost 12 year-old with a bike if you can't put him to work? I sent him on his way up the street to the big name grocery store that I rarely go to. I could have just as easily gotten into my car to go to Winco because I knew that the cream cheese at the big name store would be $1 - $2 more. Sure enough, I was right.

The extra $2 was an investment in building my son's confidence, demonstrating to him that I trust and believe that he is capable of being responsible. I firmly believe that one of the most important things that parents can do is to show that they trust their children by giving them responsibilities and carefully measured independence as they get older - yes, even kids with Asperger's need this. I also believe that parents set the example. I tried to demonstrate generosity by letting him keep the change. I hope he repeats this when it's his turn to leave a tip. If he does learn this then that, my friends, will be worth every penny.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21

Monday, August 8, 2011

Yosemite Again Along with Bodie

Olmsted Point
Yosemite never disappoints me. Even with all of the tourists in the Valley, the view of El Capitan and Half Dome is spectacular. We did the open air tram tour of the Yosemite Valley floor and even though we did this last year, I still learned something new.

This year, however, we weren't content to stay in the valley floor. This year we decided to drive through the northern part of Yosemite on Hwy 120 aka Tioga Road. We got to see Half Dome from Olmsted Point. We got to see the beautiful Tuolumne River and Tuolumne Meadows. While standing in the middle of the meadow, we got to see five deer on the other side of the river just grazing in the grass. 

Barber Shop in Bodie
As astonishing as all of this beauty was, this was not our final destination. We were really on our way to visit Bodie, a real California ghost town. We continued on the Tioga Pass to Hwy 395 and had lunch at Bodie Mike's Barbecue in a little town called Lee Vining, which overlooks Mono Lake. I had the tri-tip sandwich and I have to say that it was pretty darn good. The most memorable part of lunch, however, was the fact that we were surrounded by French families on vacation. Imagine being in a teeny tiny eastern California town surrounded by French speakers. OK, maybe only I find that amusing. On to Bodie.

General Store in Bodie
The last few miles to Bodie is nothing but dirt road; thank goodness we had a rental car. (You didn't actually think I'd take the Bug to Yosemite did you?) I have to say that if you're a history buff or you just like California history, then visit Bodie. The kids might act bored or they might actually be bored; but who cares. This will give them a chance to actually see a wild west town. The town itself is in a state of "arrested decay", which means that it won't be restored but rather it will be preserved. This is very cool. All in all, a very fun trip. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Busy Busy

I don't have alot of time to blog today. I'm getting ready for our camping trip to Yosemite. For the record, we don't do "real" camping - I need a campground with facilities, because I'm sorry but I don't sh*t in the woods. Also, when you have a child who needs to be watched constantly because he still puts everything into his mouth, it's not in our best interest to be around alot of poison oak.

So, it's off to Yosemite we go for a few days of rest and relaxation. I'm looking forward to the beautiful scenery, the family time, and of course the S'mores. Seriously, what's a camping trip without S'mores? Until next week.


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