Making Change


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I flex in the mirror…a lot

By Melinda Mawdsley
Thursday, January 30, 2014

Having muscles is awesome! I may or may not have flexed for Rachel so she could see my biceps. (I'm kind of a dork.)

I've been on the "Body by Science" workout with my husband for several months now, and we've both made gains in our upper-body and lower-body strength despite lifting just once a week for like 7 minutes each. Plus, my heart is pumping fast the whole time I'm lifting and a good 10 minutes after I'm done, so I'm getting some cardio benefit, as well.

It's fun to be stronger. I love it!

My husband and I will press on with our workout, but I wanted to post a couple photos to prove I'm lifting weights at a real gym on real machines.

(Note: I DO NOT wear makeup or do my hair to go to the gym. Obviously.)


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Eat new foods but crave the old

By Emily Shockley
Thursday, January 23, 2014

Today was the first real test of my will power on a gluten-free diet.

I've bought and cooked plenty of things that keep my taste buds satisfied at home and at restaurants and I'm pretty good at keeping my eyes off the shelf in the kitchen that I have designated as the "gluten shelf" for stuff my husband can eat. Also, not a lot of snacks lately in the newsroom as I think people are sugared-out after the holidays and no one has to buy doughnuts anymore as a consequence for fantasy football wins or losses.

However, today the newsroom had Girl Scout cookies. Lots of them. And my two favorite kinds, Tagalongs and Trefoils, were available for quite awhile.

I looked it up and there is a gluten-free chocolate chip shortbread Girl Scout cookie debuting this year but only in some test markets. I really hope Grand Junction is one of those markets but I'm not holding my breath. Still, I'm impressed that an organization I was part of for seven years of my youth is being forward-thinking about people's dietary needs in light of the uptick in diagnoses of celiac disease. According to the Girl Scouts website, there hasn't been enough demand yet for sugar-free or dairy-free cookies but I could see that changing soon.

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Stress: I’m trying to cook dinner, but the hunger monsters are biting my legs!

By Ann Wright
Monday, January 20, 2014

“So, what are you not doing today?”

My usual response: “Uh ... I don't know.”

Until I get close to the end of the day, when I have the choice of doing another couple chores or going to bed/knitting/reading, I often don't know what I won't be doing.

What I am doing is trying to be more realistic about what is on my to-do list and, as a result, I've been thinking about ways I can make weekday evenings less stressful.

One area that has been particularly stressful for me the past few years is dinnertime. Since becoming a mother, then having a toddler who insisted on eating only chicken nuggets, canned corn, apple slices and milk every evening for nearly a year (Ahhh! I'm a good cook! Why won't this kid eat anything I make!), dinnertime has been a frustration.

As my children have gotten a little older, it's gotten somewhat better and that toddler-now-kid's diet is slowly expanding. However, the time between arriving home after work/daycare and the point at which my children turn into hunger monsters is oh, so, short. After getting them a snack to put off the emergence of the hunger monsters, I've got about 30-40 minutes, give or take, to have dinner ready.

So I plan meals for each week and grocery shop on weekends. The Crock-Pot is a best friend. I'm proficient at the one-pot, 30-minute meal. I always have chicken nuggets in the freezer, just in case.

I'm not sure if I can do much more to make the dinner preparation process faster. So what can I do to make it less stressful? I'm pondering my attitudes and approach to the situation. If you have any suggestions, send them my way at Ann.Wright@gjsentinel.com.

I also will peruse a book that a publisher recently sent my way: “Eat Yourself Calm: Ingredients & Recipes To Reduce The Stress In Your Life” by Gill Paul and Karen Sullivan. It recommends dark chocolate, ginger and oats among other ingredients for creating foods to reduce stress. I have no idea if this book really will be helpful, but dark chocolate, here I come …

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GF Diet: So good so far

By Emily Shockley
Thursday, January 16, 2014

GF Diet:

Today is Day 13 without gluten in my diet. Some observations so far:

1. I knew there was gluten in some soups, but I didn't realize how many until I started reading labels. The soups without gluten are usually the least stereotypically healthy, so prepare for extra calories if, like me, you choose soup as your typical dinner choice in the winter.

2. I have eaten out a few times since going gluten-free and it's not that hard, especially if you like salads and chicken wings. It sure does cut the menu down significantly, though. And it's baffling why some things that you can buy at the grocery store gluten-free, like tortilla chips and queso dip, magically have gluten at some restaurants, so be sure to check online for allergen menus before ordering. Most chains have them posted.

3. I've only had to ask if there was gluten in something at one restaurant (Kannah Creek) so far and the waiter was really nice about it. This is the case for my brother most times when he dines out as well, which is nice to see. The only trouble he has run into is people who don't get it, like the time he went to a Chinese restaurant and was told a chicken dish was gluten-free. It arrived with breaded chicken.

4. The only public annoyance I've had so far is when I went to a school board meeting last week and various people tried to get me to eat the dinner provided at the meeting, which was sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit and chips. When I finally took some chips, someone commented that was "unhealthy." That's not frustrating as a newly-gluten-free person. That's frustrating as someone who had yogurt and granola for breakfast; quinoa, black beans and spinach for lunch; and a pear for a snack and did a 50-minute workout that morning. I think I speak for all non-twig figures who are trying to exercise and eat right when I say please do not assume we all eat Twinkies by the fistful and cower at the sight of free weights just because we haven't met our goal weights yet. Every body is a work in progress.

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Making Change: Four goals, three months

By Staff
Thursday, January 9, 2014

New year! New you! Get thinner, younger looking, stronger, stress free, more fit, organized, financially secure, happy at home, happy at work, happy happy everywhere! (Collective sigh.) Resolutions and goals are good, because static living really is boring and bettering ourselves really does make life more enjoyable. But it’s tough. So we’re going to do it with you. For the next three months, four Daily Sentinel writers will share stories related to the life changes they are working toward in 2014 in the areas of diet, exercise, finances and stress. Each week we will blog at GJSentinel.com. Look for “Making Change” under the blogs menu tab, where you are welcome to share your own goals and tips. In April, we’ll wrap things up with another story in Trending.


Stress: Do one less thing

By Ann Wright

ann

When Rachel Sauer suggested that for the next three months I do one less thing each day,

I laughed. Because I’m not sure I can do it. Because I should do it. Because Rachel is the one who gave me seven different kinds of jam for Christmas. That she canned. Herself.

But she was right. If I could cut one thing off my to-do list each day and get to bed at the time I like to say is my bedtime, or sit and relax and knit or read, it would be better for my well-being. (My husband and kids might like living with a slightly less-stressed me, too.) I’m not exactly sure how I will do this. I’m not working from a book and with some things (dirty dishes!), not doing them one day results in a surefire relaxation buster (crusty dirty dishes!) the next day.

However, my to-do list needs to check in with reality and how that happens is what I’ll share with all who care to read about this experience. After getting Rachel’s assignment last week, I decided to try incorporating it on an experimental basis. On Saturday, I did half the laundry instead of all of it and I didn’t make dinner. OK, so we were invited to the home of some friends for dinner. I can’t remember what I cut out on Sunday.

My day got a little sidetracked when my preschooler managed to break a bottle of red wine all over everywhere. After cleaning up that mess I went for a run. On Monday, I made chocolate chip cookies, but not the double batch I’d planned. I also didn’t fold a load of towels. They’re still in the dryer. On Tuesday, the towels remained untouched. I did yoga instead. (As I write this, I can hear those towels howling in the dryer.)

Repeat to myself: Just Don’t Do It.


Finances: Not buying anything new

By Rachel Sauer

rachel

Normally, I’m a very sound sleeper. I get all tucked in, read for a while and then, essentially, die for the night. Sometimes, though — not very often, but sometimes — my eyes pop open at 2 a.m. and I’m not fast enough falling back to sleep to stop my mind from revving up. So, since there’s no way I’m getting out of bed, I lie there and think.

How big is the universe? Should I try biotin to make my hair thicker? How would I respond to a mysterious pandemic? What are my thoughts on Atlantis? Did I eat all the yogurt? Should I move to Tajikistan? What, exactly, is the nature of need versus want? I’ve pondered that one a lot. In my bed-bound musings, I’ve considered want as the more profound of the two — I can’t choose what I need, but I can choose what I want, and choice is the simplest and strongest control I have in this life. And what do I want? Well, sometimes, and again in bed, it’s to lie with my iPad propped on my stomach, buying songs on iTunes. I’ll find a song I love and then iTunes will thoughtfully recommend others like it. So helpful!

Other times, I want to make something. But not with the supplies I already have. No no. Those are boring and useless. I want to get new supplies for an all-new project. Then there are times when I just want a pair of pants that’s long enough. I have pants, of course, but do you know how rare a 36-inch inseam is? I want to buy all of them when I find them.

The irony in all this is that I consider myself good with money. I save for retirement, I don’t have credit card debt, I loathe shopping, I don’t buy expensive things willy-nilly. But in the nickel-and-dime spending, I’m much too generous in convincing myself that I need something rather than want it. I swipe my Discover card a little too easily and thoughtlessly.

So, for the next three months I won’t spend money. Of course I’ll buy groceries, I’ll buy contact solution, I’ll buy birthday gifts for my parents, but I won’t buy things I don’t need — the initially shiny things that I want and that seem to end up as flotsam and jetsam in my mud room, a spiritual and psychic burden of stuff. So much stuff. Too much stuff. I won’t spend money, and it might be hard or it might be easy. I can’t say yet. I don’t think I spend all that much, but maybe I do? We’ll see. All I know is, I hope for a clearer idea of my needs and my wants, and I’m guessing my needs are blissfully few: a good night’s sleep, for starters, and a map to Atlantis.


Exercise: Hitting the weight room

By Melinda Mawdsley

melinda

The weight room is intimidating. It’s full of strong people who know how to use the equipment and will judge me because I do not. This was one excuse I used to avoid the weight room.

The other? I’m a woman and don’t want to bulk up like a 1976 East German swimmer.

But it turns out, however, that aging and the slower metabolism that comes with it are real things. Plus, I hate that my upper arms jiggle when I wave. I need a consistent strength-training program to build muscle and strengthen my bones as I get older. I need to get past my excuses.

Fortunately, my husband and I have a close friend plugged into the world of fitness, diet and overall health. He was starting a strength-training program detailed in Dr. Doug McGuff and John Little’s book “Body by Science” that cites two studies showing that short, intense exercise could be highly effective for overall fitness. Our friend suggested we give it a try. We read the book and started strength training last fall. Our once-a-week strength-training workouts lasts a little more than seven minutes per person, not counting the time spent loading and unloading plates on the equipment. My husband and I 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 point where we can’t lift anymore. The goal is to lift 90–120 seconds before fatigue, while making an effort to hold the weight for five seconds in the fatigue position before bailing. We don’t break between rotations, so the heart really gets going.

The six days of rest between workouts is essential because this is when the muscle growth and bone density increases happen after the intense workout, the book says. In the days between lifting, I go on occasional walks or hikes. Since starting this exercise regimen, I’ve increased the weight I’m lifting and I’ve lost several pounds based on how my jeans fit after being in the dryer.

During the next three months I want to continue those increases and weight loss. I really do want my upper arms to stop jiggling. Granted, I got an early start on this project, and in that time I’ve tried different weight-lifting machines and found the equipment that fits me best. (For more details on how our lifting regimen works, check out our “Making Change” blog at GJSentinel.com.) I also learned something about the weight room. No one stared at me or seemingly cared. The weight room is full of mirrors. The others were looking at themselves.


Diet: Switching to gluten free

By Emily Shockley

emily

My brother was diagnosed with celiac disease about four years ago. His physician told him siblings have a higher chance of sharing the diagnosis than parents or children — about a 50/50 chance. That bit of news prompted my other brother and me to get a blood test to see if we had celiac, too. It came back negative for both of us. So I’m in the clear for celiac.

But, like plenty of other people, the protein composite found in many products made with wheat, barley and rye that is known as gluten doesn’t always sit well with me. I haven’t gone through the hell my brother endured, it’s just that sometimes digesting a sandwich or a couple beers can feel like more of a chore than it should. I’ll spare added details for those eating breakfast.

he blood test for celiac doesn’t detect gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy, which is a scant possibility. Maybe other foods simply make my intestines happier. Maybe it’s dairy or soy or something else that doesn’t work for me. I’m not a doctor and I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t provide the answers. So I won’t say there’s a life-changing reason for why I decided to try a gluten-free diet for three months. It’s certainly not about making a statement or trying to influence others. (It’s only through the power of the features section that I’m writing this. People who proudly and loudly advertise their gluten-free status and think it’s the answer for everyone make my eyes roll involuntarily).

I just want to try it, to see if it makes me feel good. It also will give me a temporary insight into what my brother and my cousin’s son, recently diagnosed with celiac, go through on a daily basis.

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