It's been 11 weeks and 3 days since I first started this blog. Why am I counting? Well, I wasn't, but then I thought it would be nice to look back and see what kind of changes have happened since I started. It would be nice if it had been a real milestone, like the 3-month mark, or even 12 weeks maybe. I could hold off to post this next Tuesday, but do I really need to wait just because it appeals to my sense of order and perfectionism?
Here's my original list of what I wanted to change, or actually a slightly condensed/edited version:
-Have a more active lifestyle
-Cook food at home
-Eat healthier food (less fast food)
-Find a hobby
-Spend less money at Target
-Improve the world (volunteer)
-Drink less soda
-Use reusable bags
-Spend less time on the computer
-Stop reading emails, etc. while driving
-Let Chris know that I appreciate him
-Keep my car clean
Well, I've made some improvement in about 85% of those goals, and I would say significant improvement in several of them. But it needs more work. How 'bout a quick assessment? (Okay, okay, I know I'm really unlikely to do it quickly, but here it goes anyhow.)
Lose weight: I think this counts as my biggest success so far. I have lost 21 pounds, and I feel much, much better about how I look. I haven't put on a swimsuit lately, but I can tell you that I could use some new (smaller sized) pants. My goal is still to lose another four pounds, and I'll do it, although it feels like slow going here at the end. But I'm really concerned about whether or not I'll be able to keep it off long term. I've never dieted before in my life, and Weight Watchers tells me that I should think of this as more of a lifestyle change than a diet. But honestly, I don't want to change my life to have to always be thinking about what I ate last and what I can "afford" to eat next without gaining weight. Will I ever be able to stop counting points? I hope so, but I think I've got a long way to go in the "maintenance phase" before I get there.
Active lifestyle: I don't count this one as nearly as much of a success. Yes, I am walking FAR more frequently. I try to take a walk with Brody in the stroller almost every day. But it's usually a short walk, like to the grocery store or Trader Joe's, and it's definitely not a "power walk". I've also been doing about 15 minutes of strengthening exercises at home about four times a week (sit-ups, leg lifts, push-ups, etc.). But I still haven't made it to the gym. Yes, we pay for a gym membership that doesn't really get used. And yes, they have childcare, so it shouldn't be that hard for me to plan time to go during the week. But since the last few times Brody went to the childcare, he cried so much that they had to come get me, I haven't been excited about the idea of bringing him back. I just need to do it, but there's always an excuse, like he has a cold or he's grumpy because it's too close to naptime. I realize it's time to move past the excuses and just give it a try because I'd really like to start going to at least one of the weekly exercise classes that they offer (yoga and kickboxing have been quite fun in the past). I put the classes that sounded good on my calendar, so at least I'll have a reminder that I'm not doing it.
Cook at home AND Eat healthier (less fast food) AND Drink less soda: I think I can safely put these in one category, since they've all been about equally successful. I've been making meals at home usually every weekday, and we go out, or pick up food to bring home only on the weekends. I try to limit eating out on the weekends to no more than one meal per day, but that can be difficult depending on what we have planned for the day. We probably end up having "fast food" close to once a week, and I'm drinking about one to two sodas per week, which is far less than previously. Yes, it's healthier and I'm sure we're saving money. But that doesn't mean that I don't think about eating out every single day. I would gladly have El Pollo Loco for lunch everyday, or have Chris stop to pick up Panda Express on his way home. But the reality is that there is no way that we could do that AND still stay within my allotted 19 points per day. (Yeah, I started with 21, but it turns out you lose WW points as you slim down. Unfair!) We can eat a few meals out on the weekend because I save up my weekly "splurge" points, and even then, I really try to limit the portion sizes (kid's meals or sharing meals often works). I have simplified cooking at home so that it's now much easier, and I have several meals that can be put together in about 15 minutes or even less. I cook extra so that we have leftovers for lunches, and we usually have leftovers for dinner a couple of nights a week as well. It's going really well, but I still like eating out. I guess that's just one of those things where I will always have to limit myself.
And all of this cooking at home hasn't really helped Jake's eating habits. Since I wait to eat dinner with Chris after he gets home, we usually don't eat until after we put the boys down for bed. So yes, I make a separate meal for my picky eater every night, which is almost always chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, bean and cheese burritos, or pepperoni pizza. And yes, that's a topic for a whole other blog.
Find a hobby: Nope, haven't done this one. I'm enjoying this blogging thing, but I don't really stick with it regularly enough to call it a hobby. I read a book (Pride and Prejudice). (BTW, I found it to be quite like a Harlequin romance novel where bickering=foreplay. But then, just when you think it's all going to pay off, there's NO steamy sex scene and the book is over. I felt a little robbed. And actually, I read two books, if you count Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, which by the way, I haven't solved at all. But again, that's a whole other blog.) I love reading books; I always have. But my problem is that once I pick up a book, I find it very hard to put back down until I've read it all the way through. I could never understand people that read several books simultaneously. Don't you want to know how the first one ends? Don't you get so wrapped up in the characters and their lives that you find everything else in your life a distraction? No? Well, I guess that's just me. So, I don't think reading is the best hobby for me, unless it's okay for me to totally ignore my kids and my husband. Maybe I should take some kind of class- photography or karate or something. I'll have to think on this one.
Spend less at Target: Yeah, I'm not so sure why I set this as a goal in the first place. I don't think of myself as a crazy big spender. I don't like clutter, so I don't buy that much stuff. But I think I have bought slightly less over the last few months, so I guess that's good. But I really would like to lose these last few pounds so that I can go shopping for new clothes. I know I really need to go through my closet first and see what works and what doesn't, but that doesn't sound nearly as fun as a shopping spree.
Improve the world (volunteer): Yeah, I helped with a fundraiser at Jake's preschool, and we raised about $5000, which will go towards updating and beautifying the art studio. Yeah, Jake and I cleaned up an alley in our neighborhood. But that doesn't seem like quite enough.
-Did you know that World Blood Donor Day is on June 14th? Did you know that about 9% of Americans donate blood annually, and that if that number increased by just one percentage, it would be enough to end all national blood shortages in the foreseeable future? If interested in participating on June 14th (or any other day), you can schedule a donation through Red Cross.
-Did you know that Heal the Bay organizes beach clean-up events on the third Saturday of every month? I haven't made it to one yet, but does anyone want to join me on June 19th in Playa Del Rey?
-Did you know that there's this really cool organization called Kiva that works to connect people, through lending, to help alleviate poverty worldwide? You can choose the person you would like to loan money to, and give as little as $25. The repayment rate is over 98%, and when you get your money back, you can choose to loan it to someone else or cash out. We recently invested in Ernestina Sequeira Morales, a grandmother and janitor in Nicaragua who is trying to make improvements to her roof before the rainy season, so that her grandaughter (who lives with her) can "grow up in a pleasant atmosphere".
-Did you know that "kitten season" has begun? This is the time of year when there is an overabundance of stray kittens brought into local animal shelters, where they just don't have enough space or staff to care for them all. The sad part is, if these kittens could just be cared for until they are old enough to be adopted out, the majority could be placed with families who want them. Rescue groups help with some of these animals, but our also rely on individual volunteers to take in these animals temporarily. They'll provide you with food, vaccinations, etc. You just care for the animal(s) in your own home until they are old enough to be adopted out at 8 weeks. If there's any way that you can help out during this busy kitten season, please consider fostering an animal. If you have pets, please spay or neuter them. If you're thinking about getting a new pet, please consider your local animal shelter. And you can also help by donating towels, blankets and newspaper to your local shelter. Okay, back to my list now (since I will have to spend some time convincing Chris that we are ready for kittens again)...
Use reusable bags: I was already doing okay with this one, and I've made an effort to do even better. It's not perfect, but I'm trying. Did you know...
-Each year, 6 billion plastic carryout bags are consumed in LA County (600 bags per person per year).
-The US uses 12 million barrels of oil per year on the manufacture of plastic bags.
-It may take up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill, but even more alarming: Plastic bags are not really biodegradable. They actually go through a process called photodegradation—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water, and end up entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.
-In LA, public agencies spend tens of millions of dollars each year on litter prevention, enforcement and clean up. Plastic bags contribute greatly to this problem.
After my previous post, I had a couple of people tell me that they reuse their plastic grocery bags as trash liners, or to pick up their dog waste. And I've definitely done that. But that doesn't change the fact that they end up in the landfill, and eventually contaminating our soil and water. And there are better alternatives, like biodegradeable BioBags. I have to admit, I haven't tried these, and I have been using plastic trash bags to line the kitchen trashcan . But it's on my list to check out the alternative options at Whole Foods today. I know Seventh Generation makes recycled trash bags, which is at least better than creating a whole new bag for that purpose.
While we're on this topic, we should all use refillable bottles instead of disposable plastic water bottles, and bring our refillable mugs when we head to Starbucks. By the way, I don't claim to be anywhere near perfect, but I'm trying. I have friends that compost a lot of their waste, but I'm just not ready for that yet (I should, though). Yes, I still use paper towels and ziploc bags, but less than I used to. Oh, and I don't want to gross out anyone, but I really like my DivaCup, and the fact that I'm not adding tampons to the landfill. But I'm seriously digressing from my list today...
Spend less time on the computer: This one really hasn't been happening. Umm, you think that this blogging thing happens quickly? Nope, there's a lot more computer time right there. And I still check my email, like every five seconds. But I have gotten better about turning off my computer at night, and not looking at my phone. You know, unless I have actual work that needs to be done. Like blogging.
Stop reading emails, etc. while driving: I don't even want to talk about this one. Maybe I should turn off my phone before I get in the car. Okay, maybe I do need to talk about it. I LIKE feeling like I'm multitasking, and not "wasting" my time while driving. It's not safe, I know that, and it needs to stop. Maybe I should consider listening to books on tape or find some cd's that will teach me Spanish in the car. Or sing songs with the kids or something.
Let Chris know that I appreciate him: I really suck at this. If anyone has any great ideas, I could sure use some suggestions about how to be more complimentary and less critical. And actually, our 11th anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks, so thoughts on that would be great, too. :-)
Keep my car clean: Inside, yes. Outside, no. I am regularly cleaning out all of the crap that used to accumulate in my car, which is great. But I still let the kids snack in the car, so the backseat is still pretty gross. And I haven't gone to the car wash much, which is why it's not being vaccuumed often, and the outside is covered in tree sap and bird poop. I know, I should just wash the car at home, which would give me some exercise at the same time.
Okay, so there's my list. And my accountability. Can I really change the things I don't like about my life in a year? Almost three months in, and I think I'm at least on the right track...