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Thank heaven that’s over!

I know I am not alone in feeling like 2016 was like an awful, dastardly  cousin (twice-removed) who is never mentioned in polite company.  I am pleased to shed the year-that-was and feel somehow lighter now that I am faced with a blank slate new year.

2016 definitely had some great happenings, but I had a dreadful flare-up of my autoimmune disease which left me with little energy and a pile of unwanted weight. Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve I handed in my resignation at work.  I greatly enjoyed the job – and my colleagues – but my little family has 3 tricky years ahead and it felt like the right thing to do.

This year D will be taking two papers a semester to complete his theology degree, and working enough hours to support us financially.  It may seem counter-intuitive to quit a job, when our income will drop (more on that later) but it is a sensible decision for me.  D will swamped with assignments and exams, and won’t be able to be as hands-on with the children.  I am happy to pick up the slack, but being an HSP I need breaks, which my little job cut into.  Like many jobs in the non-profit sphere, I worked much more than my paid hours in order to deliver a first-class programme.  So this year I find myself instead with a few child-free mornings to myself as Chip is starting kindy, meaning it will be much easier for me to be ‘on’ the kids in the afternoons and evenings thanks to those breaks.

In 2018-19 D will begin an internship with a church and then be ordained as a minister.  Our income will drop significantly, but if you make mega-bucks as a church leader then there’s something wrong!  In anticipation of leaner times ahead we’ve decided to live off what D will make as an intern this year, and save the extra money he makes at his current IT job.  This will leave us with a good cushion.  In this spirit I will be resurrecting the Dollar Diet, so expect weekly updates on my frugal efforts.  These updates really do help to keep me accountable.

One thing I aim to stick to resolutely is throwing my hat in the No New Clothes for a Year ring.  As the main clothing buyer for our family, this means everyone.  I’m quite confident that my tots will have plenty of great clothes to see them through 2017, thanks to hand-me-downs and savvy bargains I nabbed last year.  I have a closet of great clothes I aim to fit back into, and I know I have plenty of outfits for any occasion.  And D?  He’s already got a hefty collection of novelty print t-shirts to keep him clothed until the next decade so he’ll be fine too.  If you want to use your resources more wisely or stop a shopping habit, the Facebook group you will find at the link above is a great source of support and encouragement.

Towards the end of the year I started to get a bit more vroom again, and I aim to stick to the Trim Healthy Mama plan to shed the weight I gained last year, and more hopefully!  I know the plan works.  I can’t really explain why I drifted off it last year other than my AI flare-up sapping my motivation, but I’m back in the saddle again.  I’ll also be using some of my free time to exercise by doing a mix of walking, running and HIIT.

We ended up ringing in 2017 with an impromptu, low-key BBQ.  It was lovely. Great weather, great food, superb company.  We had a toddler disco, complete with a countdown at the respectable time of 9pm.

backyard-tots-in-tawhero

All set to party (note D’s famous ginger beer on the deck)

toddler-table-tots-in-tawhero

Toddler chow (I can say with complete confidence that the wine did not belong to a toddler)

toddler-disco-tots-in-tawhero

J and Sausage invent a new type of lying down dance

I guess you could call my plans for 2017 resolutions, but to me it feels more like getting back into a good groove.  I’ve done all these things before.  I enjoy living this way.  2017 is going to be a great year!

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Hitting the wall

After blogging about how well I was doing with my food and exercise last week, I well and truly ran head-first into a great, big brick wall.

Pride cometh before a fall is such a true saying.

Too many late nights, interrupted sleeps and early starts left me in quite a funk.  I did a few half-hearted runs and workouts, and basically ate all the carbs for about three days straight.  Whenever I ‘slip up’ I revert immediately to all-or-nothing thinking: ‘Oh well, I’ve stuffed that meal up – may as well carry on today, it won’t hurt’.  Except it does hurt.  I felt so exhausted after those three days, partly because I hadn’t been fuelling my body properly.

And the self-talk.  I am brutal to myself.  I was fat, lazy, you name it.  If I was talking to my best friend, you can bet I wouldn’t be such a mean girl.  ‘Angela’, I would say to myself, ‘Everyone slips up.  It’s normal, to be expected.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s a blip.  Make better choices at your next meal.’

But I eventually took stock, let myself have a day off exercising, and got back on the Trim Healthy Mama wagon.  This week I am doing another fuel cycle, as I think my frustration at not getting down another dress size is partially to blame for last week’s funk.  The fuel cycle may just help to kick-start things again.  I got in a decent run this morning and feel much better for it.

Journeys – especially health journeys – are not always in a straight line.  Often they look like this:

And that’s okay.

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Trim Healthy Thursday: A dilemma

This was not a good week for Trim Healthy Mama and I.  I had several meals out with family or friends where good choices were either not on offer, or not made my me!  I am a comfort eater and have been under some stress so I think that’s why I had a few times where I thought ‘stuff it, I’ll eat all the carbs I want’.  I get enormously irritated at myself for behaving this way under times of stress.  I often fall prey to the old trap of ‘Oh well, I’ve stuffed up now, I may as well carry on this way today’.  So dumb I know, but my goodness, I find it a really hard habit to break.

Now D is back from the Netherlands, I feel a bit more on an even keel.  I’m back into my usual routines, so sticking to THM and exercising just seems…easier.

Despite this, I still had a big win this week.  After a few particularly warm and sunny days (oh weather, how you mock me right now), I got out my suitcase which holds my out-of-season clothes.  I had loads of fun having a little fashion parade and seeing how my clothes from last summer (pre-THM) fit me now.

I had to toss a whole bunch.

Seriously.  Loads of things are now so big they are very unflattering, so out they’ve gone.  I even had a couple of things I’d purchased that had never fitted but I’d kept for that elusive time ‘when I lost some weight’.  They fit now, which is worthy of a little victory dance, but I tried them on and thought ‘eugh, why did I want this?  It doesn’t suit me’.  So out they went too.

My summer wardrobe is quite depleted.  I have a few things that are just a bit too small, so I’m hoping that by the time the weather warms up (again) they will fit just fine.  And I won’t be stuck having to match three peasant skirts with four violently clashing tops.

Even my winter wardrobe is suffering.  Yesterday I put on a top usually reserved for the gloriously messy play of Playcentre.  It cost me $5 at the time, and I didn’t particularly care for it – which meant it was fine if it got covered in paint, sand and dirt.  Even with a thermal layer on underneath, the top was ridiculously big.  I looked like I was channelling Jennifer Beale’s sloppy sweatshirt look in ‘Flashdance’, but not in a good way.  I have to retire my favourite jeans as they are now so big they look extremely unflattering.  There are many empty hangers in my wardrobe.  Even my leggings are getting too baggy.  It’s a good problem to have though, there’s no denying it.

My dilemma is this: it seems silly to spend money on clothes that may only fit me for a little while if I keep on THM-ing.  Which, trust me, I’m going to.  I am on a strict Dollar Diet, so needing new clothes because mine are swimming on me is a problem.  I figure it’s prudent to make the most of what I currently have, and slowly buy a few things as and when I need them.  Given the rate that I’m biffing out my clothes I am a little concerned about being starkers next winter.  But I still need to dress my now-body, and I’m running out of options.

I had some birthday/reward money to spend, so I went out and got two tops and a skirt for a grand total of $26.00, because I buy second-hand.  That blue floral skirt on the left in the picture is from Jacquie E and cost me $12.99.  It’s in perfect condition.  But giving my current wardrobe a complete overhaul?  No way.  I can live with baggy clothes for a while.

Hmm, my husband accuses me of having a floral obsession...do you think he could be right?

Hmm, my husband accuses me of having a floral obsession…do you think he could be right?

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Tough times

So first up, I did not do as well at sticking to Trim Healthy Mama and exercise as I’d hoped.

I did almost no exercise as I was either too knackered from driving hours and hours, or I was physically unable to (due to rain, and there being no room where we were staying – long story).  I did however take Chip on several vigorous walks, and ran around the zoo with Chip and my friend’s toddler giggling in the pram.  Trust me, 20kg of child and 10 of pram is a good workout!  Now I am home, it’s straight back into it.

I ate at McDonald’s a couple of times on the journey as it was raining and Chip desperately needed to play.  I have never thanked God for McDonald’s before, but their playgrounds really are wonderful for wriggly travellers.

While away I managed to stay on plan about 70% of the time.  Breakfasts were easy, and I made a couple of THM dinners for my friends while I was staying with them.  My friend had a wonderful birthday party while I was there, complete with a smorgasbord – so it was very easy for me to eat the THM way.

All set for the party

All set for the party

I did get a surprise after a few non-THM meals though.  When I am a house guest I simply eat whatever my hosts eat out of politeness (I do not have deathly allergies, therefore I do not expect anyone to cater to my every dietary whim), so we had sandwiches for lunch and some bread with dinner.  After two days of eating bread, I was soooooo hungry!  The feeling was reminiscent of whenever I eat a bit of sugar, now that I’ve been sugar-free for ages.  I didn’t throw in the towel.  I simply went out and bought some cheese sticks and beef jerky to try and fill the gap.

The next time I go on a road trip I will definitely take more THM food with me, even if it means lugging a cooler around.  And pray for fine weather so McDonald’s playgrounds are off the menu!

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Taking Trim Healthy Mama on the road

I mentioned the other week that my husband is taking our eldest child to the Netherlands to visit relatives, while 1 year-old Chip and I stay home.  It’s not strictly true, as Chip and I will be taking a little road trip up to Auckland.

We’re visiting a dear friend who is due to have her second baby at the end of September, so we will be there to celebrate my friend’s birthday and have a little shower for the new baby.  I’m hoping to make myself useful while I’m there, filling her freezer with meals, and babysitting her toddler while she rests or gets in a few date nights with her husband before baby no. 2 arrives.

It’s a 5-and-a-bit hour drive to Auckland, and as I don’t want to inflict a long journey on my active boy, he and I will stop overnight somewhere there and back.

All this means I will have to take Trim Healthy Mama on the road.  Holidays are always a tricky time and can spell the end of many a diet.  Well, it has been for me, at any rate.  In the past I have tended to think ‘all bets are off’ while I’m on holiday, and spend my time enjoying whatever the local cuisine is.  I had to modify this when I became sugar-free, as even a small bit of sugar makes me feel terrible, and who wants to feel awful on holiday?  Still, holidays still seduce me to be more indulgent that usual (Hot chips? Yes please!).

Fortunately THM is reasonably transportable, and I feel confident that I will be okay.  While we are travelling I can self-cater, and will be taking eggs, greek yoghurt, fruit, tuna and a bag of quinoa/rice blend with me.  I imagine I will be eating a lot of chicken salad for lunch and dinner.

While I am staying with friends I will make sure I have plenty of THM food in the house, and will be volunteering to make lunch and dinner while my friend puts her feet up.  My friend is quite interested in THM so I will take the opportunity to introduce her to some dishes, plus it’s a great way to be able to control what I eat.

I will be making a couple of THM dishes for the baby shower to ensure there is something I can eat.  The only challenge I can foresee is eating out while we are out-and-about.  Most places do meat and salad, but I may have to get creative if the only place around is a sandwich bar.  At the same time, I don’t want to be all Militant Mary; that’s not my style.  Basically if I have a meal or two that is off-plan I’m not going to sweat it.

Wish me luck!

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Just Desserts

It’s been a challenging week for Trim Healthy Mama and I.  I succumbed to the stomach bug my tots had, and therefore had a day of eating nothing (always makes me think of that scene in the Devil Wears Prada – “I’m one stomach flu away from being a size zero!”), and several days of eating white bread with vegemite.

Once I was well enough, I began a one week fuel cycle, which I realise is meaningless to those of you who haven’t read the book.  Anyway, I am using this week to get my first reward – some of my birthday money.  The other week I set myself several goals.  The more challenging they are, the higher the reward.  My first goal was really simple: one week of zero ‘cheating’ (no off-plan meals or snacks) = $20 to spend at my favourite op-shop.  Will I make it?  Stay tuned folks.

Exercise-wise I had several days off due to being sick, but got back in the saddle as soon as I could.  I enjoy my morning runs immensely.  As we move into Spring, it is now almost light when I head off (it was pitch black only a couple of weeks ago), and spring blossoms are starting to appear…can you tell I’m hanging out for Spring?

And – big news – I have found a THM dessert I actually like.  Hooray!!!!  Not to be unfair to the authors, I have barely made any of the desserts, but the few I have made I haven’t liked at all.  So I was delighted to discover THM meringues are delicious.  Yes, I eat meringues and cream and am still loosing weight.

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Monitoring the situation

So last week I talked about needing to take my application of Trim Healthy Mama eating principles up a notch, as I’d been freestyling a bit too much (oh bread, what am I going to do with you?).

After reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Better than Before’ on habit formation I decided to put some of her strategies into action.

I won’t go into the ‘why’ details (read her book), but a strategy that can work for people with my personality is to closely monitor yourself.

I devised a daily planner where I tick off whether I exercised, ate a THM breakfast, lunch or dinner, and did several other daily tasks.  I know, I know, it all sounds rather tedious and extreme but…

IT IS TOTALLY WORKING FOR ME.

I have been surprised how something so simple has a powerful effect on me.  I seriously feel guilty if I put a cross next to THM lunch or whatever.  I think it helps that I am also a visual person, so seeing ticks and crosses laid out in front of me helps me to see the scale of any ‘cheating’ and where I’m doing well.  I’ve also found it has been a terrific prompt to do things around the house when my sleep-deprived brain isn’t firing on all cylinders first thing in the morning.  Hopefully I will get to a point where my tick sheets are no longer required as these new, better habits become ingrained.

Another useful strategy for me is rewards.  I wrote down some goals that I want to reach, and allocated rewards that I will be given when I hit those goals.  I got a whole bunch of gift cards and cash for my birthday which I have handed over to D.  When I reach a specific goal he will release a card or some cash to me.  The more difficult the goal, the bigger the reward.  I’ve only just started this so I haven’t hit any goals yet, but I am looking forward to doing so.

If you are someone who is only doing so-so with any kind of habit change, such as sticking to a diet, exercising regularly, or sticking to a spiritual discipline, try really thinking about what strategies have worked for you in the past, and what haven’t.  Think about what suits your personality.  It’s no good telling yourself you will get up at 5am in the morning to go to the gym six days a week when you are not a morning person, and would be much better off exercising after work.

Have you tried different strategies to create a new habit?  What works for you?