Making Change


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Yup, we’re still here and I’m still power lifting

By Melinda Mawdsley
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ann, Emily, Rachel and I are terrible people.

We haven't updated this blog in a while. For that, we apologize. The whole point of blogging about our efforts at change is a blog holds us accountable. Thanks to the reader who contacted us wondering what the heck our lazy butts were doing!

I'll take my turn. I'm sure the others will soon follow.

I am still lifting weights about 8 minutes once a week at Crossroads Fitness with my husband. Seriously, that's all I'm doing except for the occasional walk or hike. It's going fantastic! I'm noticeably stronger, particularly in my biceps and legs, but I'm also more flexible. The slow lifting is forcing my muscles to really stretch and lengthen. I'm loving it!

After this week, I'll sit down and really crunch numbers to post my strength gains in each of my five exercises.

I can report that I lifted 160 pounds on the leg press Saturday. It's the same weight my husband lifted. (To be fair, I have a HUGE advantage. I played catcher for a good chunk of my life. My legs are probably the strongest part of my body. They just are. His legs are probably the weakest point of his. He is smokin' me on several upper-body exercises.)

Weight lifting is a fantastic exercise for uber-competitive people like me. For the 90 seconds — if I max out — that I do each of my five exercises, I only focus on breathing and executing perfect form up and down. I don't listen to anything else. It's kind of relaxing.

I'll report back next week on my weight gains. Thanks for reading!

 

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GF: February highlights

By Emily Shockley
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's been awhile since my last entry, so here's a few highlights of the gluten-free journey:

* I had my annual physical earlier this month and asked my doctor about going gluten free. She said the science is still unclear on the effects of gluten on a non-celiac person but she said it shouldn't be a detriment as long as I'm not losing out on the nutrients found in whole grains, like fiber. She said a common side effect for gluten-free people who don't get enough fiber after cutting out bread is constipation - no thank you.

* Gluten-free Valentine's Day included wine, risotto, chicken, kale salad and Betty Crocker gluten-free cupcakes for dessert. The new line of Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes is a great idea but I have to admit the yellow cake mix I got was kind of bland.

* I went to Denver over the weekend and gave myself leeway to eat gluten at one meal per day. It went OK. I didn't notice any drastic changes in digestion or any abdominal discomfort, but I did feel some heart burn the last of the three days. Not sure if there's a connection but I have heard it's possible for people with acid reflux (like me) to see some benefits from cutting gluten from their diet.

I realize how lucky I am that I can take a break from this diet - people with celiac disease have my admiration for having to keep it up 24/7 and even go to great lengths to avoid cross-contamination.

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Uh, at least it’s not heroin?

By Rachel Sauer
Monday, February 10, 2014

My last resort, bottom-of-the-barrel, desperate-times-desperate-measures justification for spending money has long been “at least it's not heroin.” As in, “OK fine, so I'm buying yet another pair of sandals, but at least it's not heroin.”

I have never bought drugs in my life, nor have I ever even considered trying heroin, but somehow it's become my default Very Bad Thing that I Could Be Spending Money on but Am Not. Ergo, look how sensible I am!

So, I almost pulled out the heroin justification last week.

On Tuesday, a band I really like released a new album, parts of which I'd listened to on their website a few months back. I liked the way it sounded, as much as I like their first album, so I meandered over to iTunes. Just to check if the album was there, you know.

Yep, there it was, $9.99 to download. It would be so, so, soooooo easy to click “Buy,” just one tiny downward movement of my index finger on the mouse.

And I wanted it. I wanted it! But I didn't need it.

Which is extremely frustrating. I'm striving for philosophical clarity in this three months of not spending money on unnecessary things, and it turns out that philosophical clarity blows is difficult to attain. I've spent a lot of time considering my needs from their absolute most basic — I need the synapses firing in my brain, I need the breath of air in my lungs — and moving up: I need the roof over my head, I need the food in my stomach, I need the blanket I sleep under.

But the waters get murky so quickly. Sure, I need food, but do I need the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or can I make do with the cheaper chicken and take the skin off myself? Sure, I need a roof, but how much house beneath it do I need?

I don't want to deny myself all material pleasure, because I do think there can be real joy in some of it and good grief, how much character do I need? But if I'm being honest, it doesn't take that much to make me happy.

Like new music! That makes me happy. Such a simple pleasure, and one of the great joys in my life, and it's not like I piddle all my money away on carousing and loose men, right? Right? It's not like I'm maxing out the ol' Discover card on Louboutins and Lhuilliers.

I live a simple life! One of moderation! One of coupons and savings accounts! Plus, $9.99 isn't very much. Hardly anything, really. I probably have that much change in my purse. And it's not like I'd be buying $9.99 worth of heroin!

I didn't buy the album. :(

But! I remembered the $10 gift certificate to Triple Play Records that I won a few months ago, nestled in my wallet and expiring in April. Now I'm strategizing how I can make up the difference on the price (sell something? pick up a freelance gig?), because while I don't need the album, I want it. At least I recognize the difference.

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The ballad of the unused coupon

By Rachel Sauer
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The first sign of trouble came via email.

I'd been traipsing merrily along, happily congratulating myself for how easy it was to keep my New Year's resolution of not spending money on unnecessary things, when JoAnn sent me a coupon for 50 percent off any one item in the store.

Half off! I love the half-off coupon! I've never not used it, generally wandering into the store and finding something that I “need” or that I definitely will use for future projects. Someday!

I rarely spend more than $10, thanks to the 50 percent off, but as I think we can all agree, the figurative nickels and dimes add up. Plus, I believe it's this “must use my 50 percent off coupon!” mentality that explains a mystifying array of stuff in the other bedroom. Why, for example, do I have a stack of eight half-yard pieces of garish fabric? I can't even remember what I was ever going to do with them. But... there they are, next to two mesh bags of smooth river pebbles. I can't remember what I was going to do with those, either.

Because I entered this three-month period of not spending money on unnecessary things with the smug conviction that it would be so easy since I'm not much of a spender (I told myself), I've also taken it as a tough-love opportunity to go through my stuff. And it's been humbling. I honestly can't believe some of the things I've bought, and hauled across the country and back through multiple moves, and continued to store with the vague promise that I'll use it “someday.”

With lots of it, and years on, “someday” still hasn't come. My Goodwill pile is growing.

I mean, I'm not such an ascetic that I'm getting rid of all my worldly burdens, but I'm just trying to be honest with myself. Am I ever going to use some of this stuff? Probably not.

And that's why this spending freeze is valuable so far. If I can be clear-eyed before I whip out my credit card, then I'll save myself a lot of clutter and, more importantly, a lot of guilt over all the projects I haven't completed or even started.

I know I will always like to make stuff, I will always have bins filled with yarn and shells and colored pencils, but so much of it? I'm trying to be reasonable.

So, thanks for the coupon, JoAnn, but the sequins will have to stay on the shelf.

(But please don't stop sending me the coupon. Just in case, you know.)

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Have a GF Super Bowl

By Emily Shockley
Friday, January 31, 2014

All of the cookies, macaroni salad, brownies and bread downstairs in the break room pre-Super Bowl Sunday today reminds me that this weekend may be tough for gluten-free people. But it doesn't have to be.

Here are some GF treats that are football-watching approved (although not weight loss approved, so I caution moderation):

* Buffalo wings (watch out for the sauce - I have found most of the non-Asian ones like teryaki are fine)

* Velveeta and Rotel dip and tortilla chips

* GF brownies (mixes aren't hard to find)

* Udi's gluten-free individual pizzas, so you won't have to share if you're worried about people being "curious" and leaving you with one slice.

* Cheese cubes and grapes on a stick

* And what I plan to make - a salad that combines six cut-up Snickers bars with three red apples, three green apples and a tub of Cool Whip.

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