The “I don’t have time” Myth

“I don’t have time.”  It’s a common reason given for not doing just about anything.  But, lots of people do lots of things that I don’t do because I supposedly “don’t have time” – yet, barring a super power like time control, they have the same number of hours, minutes and seconds in their day that I enjoy.

So, what is it about this reason that makes it so believable for us?  It probably stems from the fact that, no matter how much time we have, we find ways to fill it.  As a working mom of two little ones who is also in the start-up phase of a business on the side, the day can seem pretty darn full.

But, here’s what gets me: there are many examples of other successful business women who find the time to play with their kids, be physically fit and run a business.  And these women aren’t just like Cindy Crawford (who I discovered is a surprisingly good business woman and mom).  Some of these women are real, down-to-earth women that I can look up to and say to myself, “What am I missing?”

I started paying more attention to how I spend my time.  And I’ve found ways to combine, cut, and transition so that I can achieve my goal of healthy living.  After all, whatever I decide to do in this journey needs to be able to stick!  I’m looking for lasting change, not a get-thin-quick scheme that will fail me longer term.

Here is what I’ve determined I need:

  • More time with my husband (we work opposite shifts)
  • More quality time with my kids
  • More sleep
  • More workouts/workout time
  • More cleaning
  • Did I mention more sleep?
  • Time with friends (that one has completely fallen off the radar lately)
  • And more sleep

Since I don’t have any super powers and I’m not SuperMom, my schedule has to change.  Where I find satisfaction and down-time has to change.  Now, I go to be earlier (except for tonight, b/c I’m writing this while the thoughts are fresh).  I get up earlier, which is completely against my nature btw.  I am NOT a morning person!!!!  But, if I can get up about 2 hours earlier (6:30 am), then I can be to work earlier (8-8:30), and I can come home earlier to spend quality time with my husband before he has to leave for work.  Already, we are seeing an improvement in happy feelings towards eachother and less stress because of this change.

Evenings are for playing with the kiddos and cleaning up, cooking, etc., before babies go to bed.  After kids are in bed, I get to work out for an hour or so, shower, and then chill out with a book or whatever else seems like a nice way to end the day and help me relax before bed.  Fortunately, working out helps me relax (believe it or not), so this schedule really works for me.

What I’ve given up to make this work:

  • television (except for watching during my workouts),
  • gaming (except for the weekends),
  • spending lots of time on e-mail and social networking (except on my iPod when I first get up in the morning, when working out, and on misc breaks throughout the day when it is convenient to read a quick post or send a short text to stay connected)
  • I read less.  Though, I find it pretty easy to read while on the stationary bike (even when at a moderate to vigorous workout of 33 mph to 40 mph, depending on the material) and working in a chapter or two right before bed.

You see.  I didn’t really give up anything.  I just rearranged it.  Yes, I spend less time doing several things that I enjoy (I really miss gaming!).  But I can keep doing most of them by working them into my life in creative ways and prioritizing the things that are most important to me.

It’s not that we don’t have time.  It is that we are not in control of our time.  To paraphrase (and generally butcher) a famous poem, we need to accept that some of our time is out of our control, that some of it is in our control, the wisdom to know the difference and the courage to do something about it.

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Thai Beef Salad

I have found a new recipe that is a keeper!  The original recipe can be found on allrecipes.com.  Here’s the link.

I did make some modifications that turned out pretty good.  Below is the recipe with my adjustments.  It ended up being around 330 calories per serving and very filling!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tbls sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tbls white sugar
  • 1 lb steak fillet
  • 8-12 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
  • 1 diced baby cucumber
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Cooked rice, still warm (1/2 cup per serving)
  • Makes ~ 4 servings

Directions:

  1. Start rice in steamer (or however you prefer to cook your rice).
  2. In large bowl, stir together the scallions/green onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, chili sauce and sugar until combined and sugar dissolved.  Put half of mixture in smaller bowl, cover and refrigerate – this will be the salad dressing.  Leave the other half of the mixture in the larger bowl for marinating the steak.
  3. Slice steak into thin strips (about 2-3 inches long, approximately 1/4″ thick or less).  Put sliced steak in large bowl, mix well, cover and marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. In meantime, chop cucumber, slice tomatoes, and prepare lettuce.  Prepare bowls with 2-3 cups lettuce, 5-6 sliced tomatoes (which would be 10-12 halves), and about 1/4 cup cucumber.
  5. Warm up wok (or large skillet).  Pour steak and marinade in wok and cook over medium heat for several minutes, until steak is heated through but not overcooked (cook too long and it will be tough, dry and chewy; only approximately 3-5 minutes is needed since steak is already sliced).
  6. Put half cup rice over salad.  Top with 2-3 ounces steak (~6-10 pieces).  Pour reserved dressing  over steak and rice (warning:  a tbsp should be plenty – a little goes a long way!).

If you try this, let me know what you think!

Note: I used the following site to calculate calories: http://caloriecount.about.com

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Food “Relationships”

A friend of mine on LoseIt! posted this comment today: “Feels like I am spinning out of control.  Not even that I’m hungry or having a lapse in judgment.  I just think psychologically this whole adventure is draining me.  It’s to the point that I am not even a least bit interested in food.  I just see it as an unnecessary evil.”

I think when we start to focus on counting calories and restricting our diets, many of us do start to feel this way.  We feel like food is the enemy.  If we just didn’t *have* to eat, then we wouldn’t have any problems.  It is a trap that is easy to fall into.  I’ve also struggled with this mentality.

But, I’ve come to see it this way: we have a relationship with food, whether we realize it or not.  And, like any relationship, it can be toxic or satisfying.  We have to gain an understanding of what a “healthy” relationship looks like through research and observation.  Once we have a reasoned and scientifically backed understanding of what healthy living really is, then we have to honestly evaluate where we are at on the health spectrum.  We cannot make progress if we 1) don’t know where we are going and 2) don’t know where we are.  We need these two reference points to chart a path for progression.

Honestly evaluating where we are and knowing where we should be will give us the strength and motivation to “break up” with the foods that don’t bring anything positive into our lives (i.e., those foods that don’t bring us joy through health; that is, those foods that have a low nutrient value).  When we start “spending time” with foods that bring us health, we feel happier, healthier and more positive.

It takes time for relationships to grow and it takes time for bad habits to change.  Let’s keep taking baby steps, keep increasing our understanding of what we need and how to get there, keep eliminating one bad habit, one bad food choice at a time so that one day we find ourselves walking in health and happiness.

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Support Systems

I thought I was aware of how helpful and beneficial it could be to develop support systems.  Wow.  I severely underestimated the impact they would have on me.

It is one thing to have a loving family who says, “Yes, I think it is great that you are trying to lose weight.”  Don’t get me wrong, my family is supportive.  Well, supportive in the sense that they agree with what I’m doing and give me positive verbal encouragement when the topic comes up in conversation.  But, this is different.

Being immersed in a community, like LoseIt.com, has surrounded me with people from all walks of life and various backgrounds who have one major thing in common: they want to lose weight.  Some want to lose 20 lbs, others 200.  Some are 20 years old, others are 50.  There are SAHMs, working moms, dads, some married, some single, single parents, low income, middle-class, physically able, physically impaired, runners, walkers, dieters, non-dieters, and everything in between.  But, all of us are trying to lose weight.

It creates a bond, of sorts, this whole losing weight thing.  We “get” it.  We understand the challenges, the fears, the disappointments, the setbacks, the logistics.  We know what it is like to go back and forth, emotionally, wondering if this is really the time we will make it to our goals.

And so, when someone doesn’t log their food for a couple days, we say, “Hey!  Where are you girl?  I haven’t seen you in a couple days.  We miss you!”  When someone gains weight, we say, “Hey, don’t worry.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You can do it!”  When someone logs their weight loss, we say “Great job!  Keep it up!”

Who cares how we got here?  Everyone has followed a path and here we are, for one reason or another.  The important thing is that we have made a choice.  We have chosen to take a new path, a path of health and longer life.  And we chose to support those who are like ourselves, needing that extra bit of encouragement and support through a change in perspective, habits and attitudes.  And, I have to say, I’m loving every minute of it.

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Facing Truth

Lately, I’ve come to see myself, not as the cute skinny young adult I used to be and still see in my mind’s eye, but as a grown woman who has become very out of touch with her physical well being.  A grown woman on the cusp of 30 who is, quite frankly and obviously, fat.  It’s embarrassing.  It is another one of those things I swore I’d never become.  But, it is reality.  And for me to be able to grow as a person and change my lifestyle, I have to face my ugly habits, my lack of structure, and the change that has become ME.

It is hard to face reality when it hurts.  But, sometimes we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, “Hey, this is not what I want to be.  This is not who I see in my inner eye.  But, this is who and what I am right now.  Now, what am I going to do about it?”  Sometimes we have to reconcile the truth with our perception of who we are and what we do.  This is true, not just for our weight, but for many other areas of our lives.

This weekend I had to take pictures of my feet on the scale and a full body shot (front and from the side).  I cannot adequately express my mortification of having to take a photo of me in tight fitting clothes for my weight loss competition.  But, I’ve faced reality.  All 220 lbs and size 20 of it.  I have to admit: it sucks.

But, here is what I didn’t expect: it is also liberating.  Instead of hiding from my reality, by accepting it for what it is, I’ve neutralized the burden and guilt of it.  I can look at myself in the mirror, I can look at my “fat” photos and say, “Hey, that is the woman you once were.  Today is a new day.  Let’s do something about it.”

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Mind Games

Have you ever noticed that when you feel denied or deprived of something, you want it all the more?  I’m starting week three of my weight loss program and found that, with the excitement wearing off (as it inevitably does around this time!), I have to be very, very careful about my thoughts.

“Shoot, I only have 300 calories left for today” can turn into a minor pity party of “Poor me, I really want to make some brownies but can’t because they are 180 calories for a 2 inch square and I’d probably eat a fourth of the pan.  Poor me, I’m so deprived.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and let up a little.  Maybe I really could eat just one…”

Little things can turn into big things.  Small, seemingly innocuous thoughts turn into monsters threatening to derail my plans for healthy living.  I find myself having to do a “thought check” to see if I am heading down a dangerous rabbit trail before it is to late.

And my solution so far has been this: wait.  I play a game with myself.  First, I ask myself, “Can I wait 5 minutes before starting to make those brownies?”  “Well, sure.  Five minutes won’t hurt.  I’ll get some cleaning done first.”  Then, before I know it, half an hour has passed.  Shoot, the craving is still there.  So, I drink some water and put it off a little longer.  Then it gets late and I don’t want to stay up late because “getting enough sleep is really more important than making brownies, right?”  Sigh.  The next morning “Mmmm… Maybe today I’ll make brownies.  Surely I’ll work out and work off the calories later, right?”  “The weekend is just a couple days away, maybe I should build up a calorie deficit first and then reward myself with brownies on Saturday.”  “Yeah, that’s a good plan.” See?  Mind games.

The weekend has rolled around and I’m so proud of myself and so focused on the weight I lost last week and the fantastic meal plan I have for next week that I decided NOT to make the brownies over the weekend anyway!  Instead, I allowed myself to buy some 100 cal snacks, with the requisite chocolate of course, from GFS.

I keep waiting to eat my little indulgence.  I keep putting it off and going for some fruit or other healthier snack instead.  Again: mind games.  Knowing that I have pretty much guilt-free access to a reasonable amount of indulgence makes me feel like I don’t need it.  I don’t feel deprived or like I’m missing out.

Feeling like I’m in control of my body and food desires again, even in such a little thing as this, is really confidence building.  Here is one more bad habit (junk food overindulgence) that I’m turning on its head.  I’m one step further on my journey to health.

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Excited about Sushi

Yep.  Sushi.  Yeah, I know sushi has raw fish.  And yeah, I know I’m a hypocrite.  Here is yet another thing to cross off my “I swear I’ll never do [insert action]” list.  I have GOT to stop saying never! lol.

But, sushi is awesome.  And it isn’t always raw.  Seth and I have fallen in love with our homemade California rolls.  What with the real crab, delicious avocado, and baby cucumbers all rolled up in a special sushi rice (not plain white rice, it’s delicious), we can eat a whole serving (four pieces, or one roll) for just 200-some calories.  And it is surprisingly filling too!

I have a whole list of cooked-seafood sushi recipes that we are going to try over the next couple of months.  Things like Seven Spiced Salmon Rolls, Salmon-Asparagus-Mayonnaise Rolls, Crab-Asparagus-Shitake Rolls, Glazed Eel Sushi, and Beef Teriyaki Rolls just sound so delicious – okay, they look delicious in the cookbook. 🙂

This week, though, my menu is going to be pretty simple.  I’m sticking with our current fav, California Rolls (nom-nom), some easy Chicken Cacciatore (with extra veggies and served over rice instead of potatoes), Grilled Chicken Citrus Salad, a seafood and veggy salad (crab, avocado, various veggies and lots of lettuce – it doesn’t even need dressing b/c of the various flavors), and maybe Vegetable & Bean Chili.  The shopping is done, the meals are planned and I do believe it is going to be a great week!

I never anticipated that learning to cook healthy, delicious meals would be so, well, delicious and fun to boot!  Have a great week everyone!

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