Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall, and the Benefits of Simplicity

I am really, really, super-tired lately. I have that "fall" feeling... the one that usually leads to hibernation. In the past, fall was my signal to snuggle in, not leave my house, and spend the day baking goodies (to warm up the house, of course), making cream soups like beer cheese or potato cheese with bacon, and sipping mug after mug of rich hot chocolate or coffee with loads of creamers (to stay warm, ya know). From September to May, it was just one big eat-fest/slumber party. Holiday fare was not just for holidays! Is it any wonder I always "fattened up" for winter?

Part of the slowdown and drive to eat is natural, I guess. When it gets cold, an extra layer of fat does keep you warm. But at 278 pounds I did not need an extra layer of fat. And I don't need one now. That's what sweaters and flannel pajamas are for! Still, I really do feel my body and brain *wanting* to sleep more, stay inside, and eat. I feel sluggish. Maybe it's already time for me to break out the full-spectrum lightbox again and head off the usual January seasonal affective disorder before it gets bad. Or, I could just take my butt outside more often and get some natural light. It's not THAT cold yet.

In fact, it's perfect weather for walking or exercising outside. Cool enough for comfort but not chilly. I can embrace fall with cups of hot tea and bowls of healthy, veggie-filled soups. I can warm up the house by roasting vegetables like green beans or kale. Comfort foods like baked sweet potatoes or acorn squash give me a cozy feeling. I can also warm up by lifting weights. And that will all make me feel better and more energetic.

Don't fall into the trap of "Holiday Season" this year, where you start eating unhealthy fall goodies NOW, keep on munching on mini candy bars all through Halloween, then binge through Thanksgiving and bake through Christmas, all the while throwing your hands in the air and saying, "well, I can't start a diet NOW, after all, in a couple weeks it will be Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/someone's birthday/some special occasion." Because then, of course, you HAVE to wait until January 1st, right? Because everyone ELSE is starting their diets then, right? So you HAVE to wait. In fact, better wait until January 2nd, because New Years Day is a holiday too and all full of goodies.

See where I'm going with this? If you're gonna do this, at least don't lie to yourself. Just say, "I don't care, I do not want to lose weight right now. It is not that important to me and I don't think it's a big deal. In fact, I may GAIN weight for the next 3 months and that is just fine. I will give it another try on January 2nd, but for now, it just isn't worth my effort. I will just stay fat." That way you are not spending all kinds of effort playing mental games with yourself and stressing over jumping through the hoops of "should have" and "ought to." Either do it or don't. It's your business.

I've been looking through my cupboards and noticing that I have WAY too much variety in there. I tend to buy things on a whim: Oh, that orange-tuna-in-a-pouch looks interesting, let's buy some of that. Hey, that canned lentil soup might be good, I better get some. Oh, I might want some canned salmon someday, even though my son catches it fresh all the time and my freezer is stocked. Maybe a box of instant potatoes would come in handy someday. Or a box of Jiffy mix. There's a sale on protein bars, better buy 10! Might be handy to have a jar of every kind of nut known to man, in 20 different flavors...

Then all that stuff SITS in there because I forget to use it. I keep cooking things in my regular rotation instead. I am going to STOP the impulse buying, even if things are on sale. I need to simplify my cabinets because all the cluttered choices give me a headache and I can't even see the healthy options.

My ideal cupboard is simple. It looks like this:
Water-packed tuna
Pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas (canned)
Whole grain spaghetti noodles and high fiber macaroni pasta
Jar of pasta sauce, cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
Dry roasted peanuts, raw plain almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews
A can of green beans, maybe 2-3 cans of healthy soup and a quart of low sodium chicken broth
A can of pears in juice, some canned mandarins, a jar of natural applesauce
Scottish oats, Quaker oatmeal (plain), dry brown rice
Bag of red lentils, brown lentils, and split peas
Agave nectar, herbs & spices, seasonings

That's really about it. Anything else is just confusion. If THAT was my cupboard it would be so much easier to make healthy choices! Combined with a fridge full of fresh fruits, veggies, skim milk, and eggs, and a freezer containing salmon, chicken, turkey, and a bit of lean ground beef/bison, I am good. Really. How much easier would this be, than having to dig through 10 boxes of "healthy" granola bars, 3 bags of pretzels, 15 cans of weird sauces and concoctions I *wanted* to try, and 9 boxes of crackers to get to the one can of tuna I wanted for lunch??

I can't afford to just ignore all the food in the house, so I am going to make a point of serving up all this ridiculous stuff that is clogging my cabinets and then NOT replacing it. I will stick to a short list of essentials and then if I want to make some special recipe I can go out and get the ingredients for it when I need them. I admit that some of the "stuffed cupboards" syndrome is an almost subconscious fear of not having enough money to buy food; I have been in that position before, and not being able to buy milk or basics for my children was pretty tough. Right now I know if the money was gone at least we have enough food to last a month or two, even if it is weird stuff like mango chutney. I think to counter this fear AND prepare for the future, I will stock up on basics as I make room by using up the random stuff. For example, when I have used up enough stuff to clear a shelf, I will buy a case of tuna or canned beans when they go on sale. I'd rather have the usual staples on hand in case of emergency anyway, rather than trying to concoct a supper out of a box of minute rice, a can of deviled ham, and a bottle of Green Goddess dressing.

The scale is not budging right now, but I am excited that I have kept my 2 big life changes this week. I have done well at getting more sleep; going to bed around 10 has had its challenges but for the most part I am there. And NO fast food. None. Even when we went to the mall to get cheap portraits done of my daughter, and for a split second I tried to convince myself that Sbarro's Pizza is NOT fast food because there is no drive thru (it's in the food court). I told myself to get over it and we came home and ate real food instead. I have got to increase the exercise, though. More walking, etc. I think that will be my goal for the coming week. Thirty minutes a day, no excuses. Gotta get back in the habit!

Here's to a simple life, and learning to enjoy the basics.


My Own Two Feet said...

Haha, I totally get what you are saying. I tend to lose better in the cold months because I find myself more active at the gym in order to spend less time just sitting inside. I don't like how cold it gets here (negative temps all winter), so I don't want to play outside. So to avoid cabin fever, GYM TIME BABY.

Leslie said...

Yeah, Sbarro's is fast food. The place I can still be wooed to is Chick Fil-A. Love it! Just the other day I was thinking it didn't classify as ff. Wrong! I steered clear, thankfully.

Thinking of the upcoming holidays and the onslaught of food temptation they bring is daunting. I have to stay in today. Like you say, every choice counts. If I keep each choice sane and healthy a day at a time, I'll be better able to handle the endless food challenges as they come.

Good luck with the cupboard campaign to health!

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I enjoy exercising in the cool weather too. It's invigorating because in order to warm myself up, I've got to go fast!

Rebecca said...

Hi Lyn,
I don't know if I've commented here before, but I enjoy reading your posts. You're so open and detailed~I love details! It sounds like we have some of the same trials and it is good to hear how you overcome obstacles.
I have felt so much better since riding my diet of foods that cause sensitivity and lately I have been focusing more on "healthy eating" and not so much on eating for weight loss. I love your idea about cleaning out your cupboards, why have stuff there that is not good for you? It will end up being eaten eventually! Good choices begin in the grocery store!

Actual Scale said...

It is so easy to get sucked into every new diet/health product!
I've found menu planning, making a list & going without the kids helps SO much. I don't stray from the list unless it is a fabu price on something we'll really, really use (say boneless skinless chicken breasts) & I get everything I *really* need.

Best of luck Lyn!

Certifiably Fit said...

I hear you about that fall feeling setting in. I'm breaking out my light box next week cause I'm starting to feel the effects of the change of season setting in already.

Also, this is the time where my weight loss efforts normally stall out. Luckily I don't gain but I don't move forward. Every year from around the end of Oct to early April I stall out. But this year I'm determined not to have that happen. This is the main reason it has taken me almost 3 years to loose 100lbs. I still have a little more to go before I'm at my goal and I am determined to not let myself stall this winter like I have in the past.

Val said...

What an awesome post. You really hit the nail on the head-this time of year is to so easy to fall into delusional thinking about when to "diet" instead of structuring your life to succeed at weight loss.
Also I never thought about variety being a bad thing in my cupboard, but it makes sense. Again-great post. It really made me think :)

screwdestiny said...

I'm so glad to hear you did well this week with sticking to your changes! Sbarro's is hard to resist to, so extra kudos.

I'm the same way as you when it comes to shopping, meaning I can be kind of impulsive. But that's why I've learned to just take a specific grocery list with me, get everything on that list and nothing else. Mango chutney is delicious though. Try it with some pork tenderloin. :)

Joanne said...

Hi Lyn - just found you today. I am began my struggle (yet again) earlier this month and have been looking for some inspiring blogs. From what I have seen you are definitely an inspiration - even though you are struggling now yourself.

I also saw your post about trolls and please please don't ignore this BC girl - I was apalled to see that someone from my fair province was giving you a bad time.

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Ha, you're so right about wanting to move into hibernation mode. We had the down comforter out last night and it was oh-so-hard to roll out of bed.


Knowledge is power, and knowing that this is the season to pack on pounds that we'll later regret is a key to preventing it.

Very timely post.

NewMe said...

I love your pantry. It actually looks a lot like mine.

The fall is a beautiful time for walking, so walk it up!

I think your simplified attitude (more sleep, no fast food) is going to serve you well. Keeping your weight steady for a while or just losing extremely slowly is not a bad thing at all.

Best of luck. We're rooting for you.

Shelli Belly said...

Great Job.
Life gets in the way of a 10 pm bedtime. Its difficult but oh the reward for the next day is wonderful.

Keeping it Simple is a great plan. My food choices are supperer simple right now but its helping me to get in a pattern.

Keep on Keeping on.

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed to say that some of the canned goods in my cupboards were out of date and had to be thrown away. My cupboards don't get sorted very often :-(

I too stuff them full of things on special offer and as they are deep cupboards and quite high up, lots of the older stuff never sees the light of day again! It is confusing having too much.

In many ways my being short of money these days might be a good thing if it makes me think more carefully about what I am buying in the supermarkets. I too am going to use up my supplies and make some 'interesting' dishes, then try to simplify.
One of my problems is that I really don't enjoy 'preparing meals'. I can always find something else to do, and opver the years that has meant I'll shove something 'ready made' into the oven when we are hungry.

Not good - and an expensive way to eat. I'll just have to become more organised and a little more diligent about preparing wholesome healthy meals from scratch. Like walking more, that's something I'll really have to get into the habit of doing. I'd like to think that I CAN form new habits, but part of me is very lazy...

Here in the UK it's becoming very chilly in the evenings and it gets dark early. The temptation is to snuggle up in front of the TV and use food as a treat. I think having an awareness, a consciousness of everything I eat these days helps me stay on track, so that I tell myself I can watch the TV without having food in front of me. I hope my resolve lasts through the winter months!

Once again your thoughts have been really encouraging, so thank you.


antgirl said...

Fall roared right in this morning. Brrrrr.

I understand what you mean. Herbal tea is a good replacement for hot chocolate. Comes in lots of flavors. Caffiene free, of course.

I need to start getting to bed earlier. Occupational hazard though [I work at an observatory all summer].

Yaay on maintaining and acheiving some milestones. That's really fantastic.

kelly said...

Love your comments as usual. That really describes my cupboards. Too many unusual things I wanted to try but not what I use frequently. I'm starting to clean them out, meal by meal! You are doing great...keep it up!

Kristin from the NW said...

Enjoyed your post, as always. I should send a picture of my cupboard--shameful. We've had two international moves and I'm ashamed to say we still have products from each of those countries in the pantry--so it could be worse :) I was watching something the other day about a man who'd successfully kept off over 100 pounds, and he said he sticks to one ingredient foods, like oatmeal, and blueberries. Simplicity at its best, but probably too extreme for me. Still, something to consider.

Greta from www.bigbottomblogger.blogspot.com said...

Vitamin D supplements will TOTALLY help the fall/winter hibernation feeling. I take 5000 IUs a day...but I am still working on correcting a deficiency.... 2000 IUs might be a better bet if you are not deficient.

I am SO that person you describe..the snacking on halloween candy then not recovering until January or later. I will NOT be that person this year. Darn it! Lets all keep each other motivated. :)

Oh...and I just found a spice jar in my cupboard that was from 1995...and we have moved 4 times since then. I need to clean cupboards, too!!

cindyay said...

My sister does the same thing, she LOVES to try new foods, new flavors, that to me are just weird, don't look that good, and I think are going in the trash soon. That's an interesting fact about you, lol, you're like my sister. :) I get the same feeling too, of being tired, but honestly, you seem to be doing great! Hope you look on the bright side! :)

Vickie said...

I have a master shopping list - literally everything that I buy for the household at the grocery store (farmers market, Gordon's etc). And every week I make my shopping list OFF that master list. And I only buy what is ON that master list. the master list is set up in the order of my favorite grocery store - so as I check the master list and add items to the shopping list - it is all in the right order.

I stay stocked like a healthy food restaurant - I keep the same foods in the kitchen/pantry (mostly) year round and my freezer is very well stocked.

AND I do so much better exercising in the fall/winter/spring - because I can't stand HOT and I can't stand humid. So when that crisp, cool air hits - I work that much harder. This might be the (only) benefit of asthma.

Tatulah said...

I really like the idea of purging the cupboards. I may do that this week before I get company. I have way too much stuff in there that I don't eat.

Betsey C. said...

I have been working on purging my pantry -- and I also need to get to my chest freezer. Lord knows what is lurking in there, elderly and freezer-burned. I know I am going to have to toss a lot of stuff that has been in that freezer for years. I hate to waste food! It makes me feel terrible.

I am so proud of you for avoiding the fast food, Lyn. That's awesome!

Josie said...

I live in Florida where fall doesn't even visit - but I still manage to get this Fall-fatten-up-for-Winter syndrome.

Regarding cupboards, I'm a hoarder by nature, so it's rare that my cabinets aren't full of junk (literally!) that I will never eat or don't need to eat. I think I'm going to take on your challenge of clearing them out.

Tammy said...

I store a bunch of food,too. I've been on unemployment for 7 months now, and after a couple of months of this nonsense, I went into survivial mode.

lyricgirl said...

Love your post! This is how I live my life now. I love all my food boundaries. It's nice not having to ask myself "why did you eat that?". Good for you.