Retirement

000One-Dollar-Bills

We had a meeting at work today, re: retirement and the establishment of a new 401K.

Ugh!

I am so NOT financially savvy.  In fact, I thought for a minute there I was going to nod off in the meeting.

Come on, you know what I mean, right? The lights were out, it was after lunch, my tummy was full, it was warm in the room, the speaker for the meeting was droning on, and it was a boring subject to boot.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the retirement plan at work, with this new company that has bought out the old one.  I have never invested in my own retirement account.  My hubs worked for the USPS for most of his career. He did the investing. Do I need to do it now?  Probably.  Do I want to? No.

I’m just so NOT inspired by this topic, and so NOT fiscally savvy.

At least if I had gotten in the nap, I might have felt energized afterward. Right now, I just feel confused.

Do you fall asleep when people start discussing their finances?  How have you dealt with your retirement plans?

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The Experiment–7 Days Done

For the last week I have been conducting an experiment, The Experiment.  During The Experiment, I’ve been avoiding comfort foods, in an attempt to give myself a clearer understanding of how much I use food to sooth myself and what I would do if I had all those foods I consider comfort foods removed from my diet.  I know that my comfort foods are not the same as those others might identify, but I thought for the purpose of this post it would be good for me to list the kinds of foods I decided to avoid this week.

Defining The Experiment

During The Experiment I avoided the following comfort foods, and monitored my reaction to not having them as a part of my diet:

Coffee

Dairy Creamer, usually half and half

Chewing gum

Dark Chocolate, I don’t eat milk chocolate

Popcorn after dinner

Fast foods, including, but not limited to salads

You might look at this list and say, “Well, there you go, that’s her problem,” and it might be you’re right.  If there wasn’t anything that needed changing in my food plan, I probably wouldn’t have embarked upon The Experiment in the first place.  I assure you, though, that I do not eat fast food on a regular basis.  I eat almost no fast food, but included this category because I do eat out, probably more than I should, and some of the choices I make in restaurants could be classified as fast food, ie: grilled chicken salads at Wendy’s.

But I digress.

About The Experiment:

I had an epiphany when I was driving alone last week.  It had to do with my eating. It also had to do with my choice of foods. It had to do with how much I rely on food to sooth my ruffled feathers.  Yes, ladies and gents, it had to do with emotional eating.  It had to do with why I’m at a plateau with my weight AGAIN, and what I might do to figure out a different way to get to my goal weight.  My thought during this epiphany was that I use food in the wrong ways and to the wrong effect many times. I’ve known this piece of the puzzle was true of me for a while, but it became more apparent during my time in the car.  If I could just identify why I crave certain foods at certain times, I conjectured, I could make a plan and change a habit, and finally get the weight moving down again.

I also wanted to quit bowing down to my appetite.

As of today I have been doing this conscious comfort food monitoring for one week–seven days–and I have discovered a few things about myself in the process.

What I’ve discovered

1.  Foods that sooth remain a powerful presence in my life.

2.  I want to get to my goal weight and quit relying on foods to sooth me, but not enough to eliminate them from my diet completely.

3.  I cannot find a gentler, easier way to let go of foods that sooth other than the hard disciplines of self-sacrifice.

4.  I can quit eating foods that sooth for a time, but it takes real determination and focus to do it.

5.  My greatest struggle in resisting foods that sooth happens between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00pm, while I’m fixing dinner.

How it all shook out

I was able to abstain from coffee, half and half, artificial sugars, and chewing gum for 7 days.   That’s huge for me.

I ate noticably less foods that sooth, even when I did not completely abstain from eating them.

I was not able to abstain from eating dark chocolate, popcorn, or fast food salads during this time.  I ate grilled chicken salads at Wendy’s several times this week.

What I’ve discovered

Monitoring the foods in my diet that have a soothing affect on me has been profitable.  Just identifying them was a real lesson in self-awareness.  When I craved something, I would ask myself why, then make note of the answer.  I slept better the first few days I was off the coffee, but after that no discernible difference was observed in my sleep patterns.  I had one day when I didn’t ache as much, but I’m not sure if that was due to the food change, or to temperature and bariatric pressure changes in NEPA.  I ate less chocolate (dark chocolate is my go-to snack in the late afternoon, and holds me over until supper; one square does the trick), mostly because I was being mindful of cravings and noting them when they occurred.

I asked myself this question a number of times during the week:  Why do I feel I need to have that right now?  

I only had popcorn after dinner once.

All in all, I think The Experiment was a success.  I ate less, was more conscious of the things I did eat and why I ate them, and made it through a week I knew would be challenging before I began.  I feel stronger for having done that, and when tempted to chew a piece of gum yesterday (I’m a big gum chewer and definitely use it to sooth my appetite during the day), I passed on the offer.

I did not lose weight during The Experiment.

I think that if I were to employ The Experiment several times each month, I might, just through habit, begin to feel like I could exclude some of the foods in my life that sooth on a more permanent basis, and that would be a good, good thing.  For now, I’m happy to have experimented with food and cravings for one week, and I would be willing to do it again in the future.  I have journaled about it during the week, and feel that recording my thoughts here will help me, and might help someone else to give their own experiment a try.  That is my hope, anyway.

Have you ever experimented with removing certain foods from your diet for a period of time?  What was your reaction to not eating those foods?  Did you go back to them, or did you leave them out of your diet forever?

My Empty Sugar Bowl

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My sugar bowl is empty.  I’ve quit filling it. That’s right, I have voluntarily quit filling the sugar bowl at my house. Over the years, I can’t imagine how many bags of white sugar have been poured into this bowl and then scooped out by my family, one tablespoon at a time (when we weren’t just dumping the contents into our already sugared cereal bowls).  No more!  These days while I may use white sugar for some things, and yes, I do still have it in the house, I don’t use it for sprinkling on top of foods, or adding to my coffee, or tea, or hot cocoa.

Quitting white sugar that once poured forth freely from my sugar bowl is just one of the changes I have made in order to regain my health and lose unwanted pounds.

Other changes include:

Weighing myself daily.

Buying a new exercise bike.

Putting in 30 minutes of more on the bike five times a week.

Reporting my food to my food sponsor.

Starting this blog.

What are you doing to enhance your weight loss efforts?  What has been your best strategy for losing weight and keeping it off? 

No Junk July

food wrappers

A few weeks ago I read the blog of a gal who was trying to make her way through No Junk June.  I’m not sure if No Junk June was her idea or if it is a national push toward eating right and escaping the scourge of fast food during the month of June, but it sure sounded good to me. Since I was half way through June when I came upon this gal’s blog, I decided I couldn’t take up the challenge in June, but July might be a good time to try something different.  I’d been moving closer and closer to a whole food plan for months, but still had a few niggling habits with soft serve ice cream I needed to work out.

For some reason, ice cream and summertime are inseparable in my mind.

Anyway, I am two days into No Junk July and feeling pretty good, but I’m not sure how great I’m doing.  I had a sub for lunch today.  Grilled Chicken on Whole Wheat.  It was loaded with veggies, and the chicken was real, but what about the bread?

I have to decide if I’m going to classify a roll made by others as fast food.  Today, I say NO, it is not fast food. Tomorrow I may change my mind.  Here’s the thing though, I don’t bake bread, so unless I eat bread that someone else has made, I can’t eat any bread while I’m eating my way through No Junk July.  I can’t see that working for me, so for now bread stays on the list of wholesome foods to eat, and not junk.

I will limit how much bread I buy and consume during July, but I will not forfeit bread eating all together.

I eat very little fast food at this stage in my healthy development.  I do have the occasional soft serve (see earlier admission of this guilty pleasure), and I had been drinking coffee with artificial sweeteners.  Until yesterday–that’s when I classified artificial sweeteners as fast food for this month and decided I will not be partaking.

Oh, boy, can I do this?

I will definitely be seeking out different brands of coffee to consume during July, so that I can curb the bitter and increase the smooth taste I want in my brew.  Without cream and sugar, coffee is a whole ‘nother beast, so wish me well as I make the switch from light to dark, and robust to smooth.

No Junk July means I will have to tweak my Saturday morning “me time”.  Usually on a Saturday, I escape the day-to-day grind of making a living and crawl off to a dark corner somewhere to be alone and read, write, and get ready for a class I facilitate on Sundays.  Not having my creamy sweet coffee to escape with will be hard.

Maybe I should side step the coffee all together and go all tea for July. We’ll see.

Wish me well as I begin this July adventure, free of the junk.  I’m hoping to report that all went well by month’s end. I will be continuing to follow all my regular bloggers and find encouragement from them while I’m trying this.  So glad to be doing this with their help.  Together, we get better!