Making Change


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The Making Change finale comes Thursday

By Melinda Mawdsley
Monday, April 7, 2014

It has been nearly three months since Rachel Sauer, Emily Shockley, Ann Wright and myself (Melinda Mawdsley) started our Making Change blog/experiment/shift in thinking project for the Trending section.

We release our final results and revelations in Thursday's Trending section. (We were supposed to blog every week, which was wishful thinking on our part. We apologize for failing miserably on that point.)

The stories from Rachel and Emily will be interesting for sure. It's been great to hear them talk about things at work. Then, there's Ann. Sweet, beautiful Ann. I have no idea what she's going to say because I have no idea how things went. She hasn't really talked about this experiment. Not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. :)

As a reminder: Emily gave up gluten, Rachel gave up buying anything new, Ann was supposed to try to do one less thing each day, and I hit the weight room to gain muscle mass.

I'm ready to report the lessons I learned about weight room machines, working out with my husband, and other stories from the experience.

See you Thursday!

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Gluten-free is the way to be - for someone else

By Emily Shockley
Friday, March 21, 2014

It's been awhile since I wrote anything here and it's because I'm not doing what I said I would do. And I'm OK with that.

Quitting is a dirty word in diets, but here it is: I quit. About three weeks ago. After two months of going gluten-free, I was not impressed with the results. I didn't set out to lose weight (although that's always nice) but I gained three pounds - not cool. I was eating stuff that was good for me but also more sugar than usual. Sugar is a culprit in making making gluten-replacement items tastier but I wasn't really using a lot of substitutes, just found myself craving more sugary foods and more food in general. Despite beans and quinoa and fruit making regular appearances, I wasn't getting enough fiber to make me feel full. And it was giving my stomach pains on top of it - the exact opposite of my goal.

I was also tired more often. When I eat gluten, it's often in whole grain form, not crappy kids' cereals or white bread. That stuff made me feel full, gave me energy and well, helped move things along to put it delicately.

The fact is, I had had enough time to compare my gluten-free self and my gluten-eating self and I liked the latter better. I didn't quit because it was hard - it really wasn't when cooking for myself. I quit because it wasn't for me. If anything, less sugar, not gluten, would probably do me some good, especially to detox from the last two months.

So it's back to whole grain bagels, granola, and normal, non-$6 bread. It didn't pan out but if there's a take-away from this experiment, it's to keep the parts of the diet that were beneficial. The fruits are still there in my morning smoothie. The veggies are still present as often as possible. I found out during this I love kale (sorry Rachel!). It's trendy so I really didn't want to like it but I enjoy the texture and the fact it's not as bitter as some greens (boo arugula).

Good health is about balance. I cut something out and I tried to fill the void with good stuff and bad stuff. Hopefully the good stuff will stick around - black beans and quinoa lunches are still a go - and I won't even want the bad (gluten-free cupcakes, you are not my friend) because I get to feel full and energetic by picking what's best for me, not what fits into a tiny, arbitrary category.

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Oh, hi there, abdominal muscles

By Melinda Mawdsley
Friday, March 14, 2014

I flex. A lot. It's a by-product of actually having biceps, strong shoulder muscles and definition in my abdomen area — YES! — since starting a consistent strength-training program months ago.

Although I started writing about my weightlifting routine for this blog in January, I've been on my routine since Oct. 19, 2013, so I'm ready to report five months worth of gains and lessons.

(Just a refresher on what I'm talking about: my husband and I are on a weekly program detailed in the Dr. Doug McGuff and John Little book “Body by Science” that cites two studies showing short, intense exercise can be highly effective for overall fitness. Our once-a-week workouts last a little more than seven minutes per person. We have five exercises — chest press, overhead press, seated row, pull down and leg press — where we slowly lift the weight — 6–10 seconds up and the same down — until fatigue. The goal is to lift 90–120 seconds before fatigue, while holding the weight for five seconds in fatigue position before bailing. We don’t break between rotations so the heart really gets going.)

We lift at Crossroads Fitness, but you could do this routine anywhere that had the right gear. We've experimented with different machines and seat placement on the machines, affecting our weekly progress, but we'd rather experiment to find what we like best and what machines fit us best — I'm 5-foot-1 on a good day — then stay on the same machine for an apple-to-apple comparison.

For example, the first three weeks I lifted chest press upstairs at Crossroads' airport location and progressed in but didn't feel like it was working the right muscles. We moved downstairs, and that's where we've stayed. The downstairs machines fit us better. Plus, we just like them more.

Here's where I started on Oct. 19, 2013, and here's where I am as of March 8. (The book has a more detailed description of each exercise.)

Seated row: I started at 40 pounds. Now, I'm at 75 pounds. We've changed the seat height multiple times to focus on different muscles, so the numbers don't mean a whole lot. Personally, this machine has been the hardest for me to figure out as a short person. I held the handles incorrectly for nearly three months. Oh well.

Chest press: I started at 55 pounds but got up to as much as 75 before realizing the machine wasn't right and moved downstairs. There, I've been in a battle since Nov. 19 to get past 50 pounds. I've gone up to 55 a few times but can't lift more than 30-45 seconds before fatigue. I'm getting angry just writing this. I'm on a mission to be at 60 pounds by the end of this challenge. Mark my words.

Overhead press: I started at 30 pounds and am now at 50.

Pull down: I started at 45 pounds and am now at 90. You read that right. I had to buy weight-lifting gloves to protect my hands. My husband's doing even better on this machine than me, but...

...Leg press: Here's where I caught him. I started at 80 pounds and am now at 160, the same amount of weight my husband lifts. The issue with building leg muscle for some women is they don't want their pants to be too tight. Not a problem. I'm just more toned.

We rest for at least six days between workouts to allow for muscle growth and bone density increases. Then, hit the gym again a week later. I'm loving it!

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Kale? Fail.

By Rachel Sauer
Monday, March 10, 2014

It's the kale.

The kale! Why do I keep buying the kale? I'm never going to eat it, I don't like it and regardless of whether I make a stab at kale chips (which tasted like emptiness and disappointment) or try blending it into a protein smoothie (and I know I say this from the extremely blessed position of someone who's never known hunger, but: I'd sooner eat gravel than try that again), I don't want the kale!

Yet it keeps ending up in my basket.

Perhaps it's because I spend too much time on the internet and end up reading all these swooning odes to kale. So healthful! So full of sulfurophane and carotenoids and omega-3! Whatever those are!

So, I give in to impulse and hastily made lies vows to Improve My Diet, take the kale home and ashamedly throw it away two weeks later.

Apart from the terrible sin of wasting food — and I really do believe it's a sin — there's the waste of money. I despair to think of how much green I've thrown away. I don't think Colorado National Bank will allow me to deposit my good intentions into my savings account.

Thus, I've branched out during my three months of not spending money on unnecessary things into considering the groceries.

Specifically, the kale. And any kind of yogurt that's not the two kinds I eat. And raw cashews, with which I tell myself I'm going to make cashew milk (I'm not). And fat-free feta, which is terrible. And immoderate amounts of bananas.

I'm all for trying new things, I'm all for healthy eating, but good grief. I negate all the good I do shopping sales and with coupons by impulsively buying things that I know, in my heart of hearts, I'm never going to eat. Frozen edamame, for example.

Which leads me, however unrelatedly, to The Soda Issue. I am on and off the wagon with the diet soda. In fact, a correspondence:

Dear my dentist,

I KNOW.

Sincerely,
Rachel

I might as well drink poison, I'm decalcifying my bones and teeth, I'm probably setting myself up for weight gain. I KNOW. I'm trying. It's just really hard because diet soda is delicious and makes me happy. But it's not necessary, since clean water comes reasonably priced — and fluoridated! — right out of my tap.

So, I've tried to use this three months of no unnecessary spending to kill my soda habit. It's worked... sporadically. I'll go a week without, then have this internal monologue at the grocery store: Do not put that soda in your basket, Rachel. Aargh, so naughty, take it out of the basket. OK, disobedient, save it for the weekend, then. Fine, just a little. Do not drink it all. Well, you drank it all. DO NOT buy more.

And so on. I know it's a waste of money. I'll try harder. Just like I'll try harder to be reasonable about what I'm spending on food — and I mean the food that I'll actually eat.

Sorry, kale. I'm sure somebody loves you.

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My brother-in-law owes me $7.63

By Rachel Sauer
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You'd think I'd learn to stop congratulating myself, but nope, I'm always willing and ready to give myself a hearty pat on the back.

“Why, this whole not spending money thing is wonderful!” I've exclaimed to myself on more than one occasion. “Look how well I'm doing! Look at all this character I'm developing! I've got so much of it now I probably could share it with others!”

And that's usually when I end up having to buy a library book or fork over $25 to Mesa County for a late fee on my car registration.

And that's usually when I sigh until my lungs practically collapse and implore, “Why, Rachel? Why??

As I'm being reminded over and over again in these three months of not spending money on unnecessary things, I'm not nearly as good with money as I like to commend myself for being.

Oh, I pay my bills on time; in fact, I'm vigilant to the point of neurotic about anything that will affect my credit score. I coddle that baby like the precious, precious Fabergé egg that it is and thus am a Gold Star On-Time Payer of anything that might seek to crack, damage or otherwise harm it.

But it's with other stuff that I can be a little blasé, a little forgetful. My car registration, for example. I got that little post card reminder in the mail, and I dutifully put it on top of my refrigerator, which it fell behind, and then I just kind of... forgot. So, I noticed one day that not only was I past the expiration, but I was past my month grace period.

Scampering to the county offices in a consuming panic, I paid the registration fee plus a $25 late fee. Twenty-five dollars! That I pretty much lit on fire, such was my wastefulness!

And that's not all: I lost a library book. This is something I've never done before. I am a champion library patron, and treasure libraries above most things, but somehow I lost track of a copy of Gregory McDonald's “Fletch,” which my brother-in-law long ago assured me is hilarious (it isn't, and I would send him a strongly worded text if he wasn't currently serving in Afghanistan and I want to, you know, Support the Troop).

Anyway, I searched and searched and couldn't find it anywhere, so I slunk to the library, confessed my sin and paid $7.63. The book had come from the Salida Public Library, so even if I did find it, it would be hard to get a reimbursement. So, that's $7.63 I might as well have set on fire. And as I'm sure you can guess, because I'm a tragic victim of irony, I found the book. And it was on my nightstand! A foot from my face every single night!

This is why I don't deserve to have money.

But my point in all this confession is that these three months have driven home the lesson of carefulness and mindfulness. As I've mentioned before, it's not that I'm never going to spend money on fun things, it's not that I want to live a life of absolute austerity. It's just that I don't want to waste money anymore.

I mean, I could have spent the $32.63 that I wasted on the late fee and the book on something fun. Something I actually want.

I'm just going to be more careful, is all. And I'm not going to take any more literary recommendations from my brother-in-law. I partly blame him for all this.

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