Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Simply Lose Weight: Part 3

These three one pound boxes of sugar represent the amount of weight I lost in May.  I have to admit, I was surprised. I haven't weighed 157 in years. 

Lately, my enthusiasm for dieting has been waning. I cheated on myself...a lot. I caved to that smooth talking carrot cake with the luscious cream cheese frosting I love to run my fingers through. I cheated with that low down, no good ice cream who I don't even like. I even sneaked in a fling with chunky peanut butter. I am disgusting. 

How do you keep motivating yourself? 

I am starting anew. Today, I begin my diet again. This will probably not be the last time I start over. If you fall, get up. The view from the floor is terrible. And believe me, dust bunnies are terrible conversationalists.

To motivate myself, I recently went dress shopping. I bought a couple of dresses which while they fit, will look much better after I lose another five pounds. I hope the sight of them hanging longingly, waiting patiently, will encourage me to be diet faithful. 

In the United States, there are no standard sizes. Unlike Europe, in which clothing is sold strictly by measurement (bust size in inches, waist size in inches), every American clothing manufacturer simply makes up their own sizes. 

About then years ago, Tammy Kinley of the North Texas School of Merchandising took precise measurements of over 1,000 pairs of women's pants from 20 different retail stores in Texas. In size 14, Kinley's study showed a various of up to 8 inches in the waist circumference between brands. This is why you can wear a size 8 in one brand and a size 16 in another. It may also explain why you prefer to  purchase clothes from a store that winkingly states you are a size 8. 

One thing I have found interesting is that expensive clothing runs much smaller than the bargain brands. I expected the opposite but then I remembered Abercrombie and Fitch's strategy of selling only to thin, beautiful and apparently,  incredibly stupid people. 

Why do we allow a clothing label to dictate our self esteem? Is a size 2 a better, nicer person than a size 14? Is a size 0 smarter than a size 16? When was the last time you picked a doctor based on their lab coat size? 

The chart below demonstrates the variances found between clothing stores in size 8 and the futility of labels. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Save Money with your Keurig by Using Refillable K-Cups

I finally broke down and bought a Keurig coffee machine. I had wanted one for a long time but could not bear to part with the $120 dollars the machine cost plus spend 50 cents a cup for every cup of coffee thereafter. 

Every time I pour a cup of coffee, I am looking over my shoulder fearing an intervention and forced rehab stay. Addiction of any kind is expensive. At 50 cents a cup, I would literally be spending $75 a month on coffee.  Then, I saw these reusable K-cups.

I actually bought the reusable K-cups first (not cheap at $10 for 4 at HyVee). I tried them in my Mom's Keurig before buying a machine to make sure they worked. They did and I began my search for the best deal for a Keurig. I found it at a garage sale. A brand new Keurig, new in the box, never opened. Apparently someone didn't like their Christmas present. 

I've been using these refillable cups for about a month and they seem to work fine. I have found the cheapest place to purchase them in Topeka is of all places, JoAnn Fabrics. They sell for about 11-12 bucks but JoAnn's frequently has 50% off one item coupons. Go the website, print out the coupon (or download to your phone) and use to purchase reusable K-cups. Have you found a better deal on reusable filters? Do share.

My daughter told me she often uses those 15% or 20% off coupons from Kohl's or Bed, Bath and Beyond to purchase K-cups. If they are on sale plus with an additional discount, they are more affordable. 

I do wish the refillable filters came in more colors than just black and red. It would be great to have several different flavors in different colored reusable filters. I am considering marking some with nail polish to distinguish different flavors. Unless you have a better idea?

I have also seen people on YouTube reusing regular K-cups by simply removing the foil after use, refilling the cup and covering it tightly with Saran Wrap using a rubber band. I have not tried this extreme method. 

There is also a product sold called K-caps which are caps which snap onto to old K-cups. I have not tried the K-caps and they are almost as expensive as the refillable K-Cups.

I have found it is very easy to make tea by simply placing any teabag in the reusable filters. And, I have been told you can reuse the regular K-cups twice, the second cup simply being weaker. 

The best thing about the Keurig is that I can now have my weak-sissy coffee and my husband can have his grow-hair-on-your-chest bitter coffee. 

What has been your experience with the Keurig? Any great ideas I am missing? I would love to hear from any of you with great Keurig ideas.

Part 2: How to Simply Lose Weight

I started dieting on February 2 at 173 pounds. On May 1, I weighed 160 pounds.  "Lose 13 pounds in 3 months!" is not a headline you ever see when scanning the magazine headlines while standing in line at the grocery store holding a box of Twinkies. 

I am always annoyed when I do see headlines such as "Lose Five pounds in Five Minutes Without Exercising! or "I Lost 100 pounds on the Pasta Plan!" Before you get too excited, there is no Pasta Plan. See, you were ready to google it. There really is no easy way to lose weight. It's simple (see previous post) but I never said it was easy. It takes self control and will power. They do not sell these things in a store. If they did, I would trample over old ladies and small children to be first in line with a blank check in hand. 

So, I lost 3.5 pounds in April which is a little less than a sack of sugar. Whenever I get discouraged and feel like saying, "I only lost 3.5 pounds", I go pick up that sack of sugar and carry it around for a while. Three and half pounds has some heft to it. 

Here's my problem. I'm stuck. I lost the 3.5 pounds the first two weeks of April and have lost nothing since. If you charted my weight loss, the resulting graph would look like I was having a heart attack and then flat lined. One day, I weighed 158.75 which was extremely exciting but then the next day, I jumped up to 161 despite behaving myself. It's frustrating.

During World War 2 when London was constantly being blitzed by random bomb attacks, the British had a propaganda poster plastered everywhere which said, "STAY CALM AND CARRY ON". I am trying to adopt this attitude in regard to diet bomb weigh-ins.  

One thing I did wrong in April was not to exercise. I dislike sweating. Plus, it was cold and rainy all month. It's hard to motivate yourself to sweat and be chilly and wet at the same time.

When I do exercise, it's not because I like to run but because I like to eat/drink. My thought process goes something like this:  Run three miles = glass of wine. Perhaps, I need AA more than WW.

This month, I have vowed to get back to the basics and start moving more. I have found an app for my phone which I really like. And since you know I am exceeding cheap, it is of course, free. The app is called "Run Keeper" and uses GPS technology to track your exercise route. The app will track your time, distance, calories burned, pace and elevation climb. You can email your results to yourself or others. It keeps a record of your walks/runs so you can see yourself improve. I find it very motivating. 

You do have to remember to hit "stop" at the end of your run/walk to have accurate statistics. I forgot last time and was highly disappointed. But then I calmed myself with a glass of Merlot. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Simply Lose Weight

Well, I have officially lost 13 pounds. I started my diet on February 2 and this is the longest amount of time I have ever stayed on a diet in my life. This is really my  un-diet. I am not dieting, I am hopefully forever changing the way I eat. 

I began at 173 pounds. For most of my adult life, I have consistently weighed between 160-165 but lately the scale had started inching upwards. I felt depressed and self-conscious.   

The most I have ever weighed in my life was 180.  I weighed 180 for exactly one day about 10 years ago. I stepped on the scale, looked down and almost fainted. 180 was only 20 pounds from 200! I immediately started eating less and dropped a little weight. My husband refers to these as my middle-age Goth years because I always dressed head-to-toe in black. When I look back at pictures, it always looks like I am on my way to a funeral or a Johnny Cash Fan Club meeting.

Of course, these were pictures I couldn't avoid being in. The fattest people will always jostle for a position in the back or grab a small child to hide behind. Once I was at a work function where a group picture was to be taken. Many of the attendees were overweight. It was very hard for the photographer as the individuals were constantly milling about trying to get a prime position on the back row. It was like the equivalent of photo musical chairs...only no chairs, no music. Just random shuffling about until the picture was taken. Personally, I was rather roughly manhandled and shoved in the front by an overweight middle manager.

So, why do I have no problem telling you my weight?  Number one, it is doubtful you are looking at my 160 pound body and thinking I am 125. Most people tend to look at others and mentally add about 20 pounds. By telling you I weigh 160, I am really just correcting you from thinking I weigh 180. 

For example, I ran into an acquaintance recently who commented on my weight loss. She then confidently mentioned to another friend that it looked like I had lost about 30 pounds. I had at that point lost 10 pounds. I was not flattered by her comment. 

"She was just saying you look good," my husband stated. "No, she was verifying she thought I used to weigh 200 pounds," I said wryly. So why do women always comment on each others weight? 

"I don't care if a woman is wearing a T-shirt with a giant arrow pointing down and  the printed message "Baby on Board". I'm not assuming she's pregnant," my husband swears. "For all I know she had that kid six months ago and just hasn't lost the baby weight. I accidentally swagger onto enough verbal mine fields without deliberately throwing myself into harm's way. It's always better to let the woman bring it up and then act extremely surprised." 

My husband is pretty smart. 

A slightly overweight friend told me a story about a man who asked her when her baby was due. "I didn't know whether to cry because he had just blatantly pointed out I needed to lose weight or to be extremely flattered he thought I was young enough to have a baby!" 

We've probably all been there. If you put on a little weight on in the mid-section, some (at best) clueless or (at worst) catty individual who feels the need to bring it to your attention so you can cry yourself to the sleep that night. How often do paunchy men have to endure this indignity?

I have often asked myself why women are mean to each other? Why are we always constantly comparing ourselves to each other and finding fault? Instead of saying, "Have you lost weight? (a negative comment), why don't we just say "Wow, you look great! (a positive comment)? Are we really all just that insecure? 

A woman once asked me what size I wore.

"Twelve," I responded. I weighed about 158 at the time. 

"I'd sure like to know what store you shop at," she replied cattily, implying I was lying about my dress size. 

Here's the thing. I own a cat. I don't need another one. A tongue can be as sharp as claws and just as hurtful. I am constantly working at controlling my own.

One way I have simplified my life is by limiting my exposure to negative people. Those people who make snide comments that leave you wondering, "What did she mean by that?" Life is full of enough stress. Find friends who love and support you. 

Here are a couple of ways I am simply losing weight. As stated, I track calories and try to stay in the 1300-1400 net calorie range each day. To do this, I use an app called "my fitness pal". It makes it extremely easy to track calories and exercise. This app has two features I especially enjoy.

One, it has the ability to scan the bar codes on food items and then automatically add them to your daily calories. Two, it has a recipe builder feature. You input all the items in a recipe (especially easy if they are scannable) and the number of servings, the app then calculates the calories and other nutritional information per serving.

You can also "friend" others for support and encouragement. 

Another website I am really loving is www.skinnytaste.com.  This website has many lower calorie recipes. I really liked the "Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side" and many others. Best of all, it's free which really appeals to my frugal side.

What are your weight loss secrets and stories? Please share. Remember, we are all in this for the long haul.  We are tortoises, not-flash-in-the-pan-fad-diet hares. 

Oh, and by the way, I bought some size 12 shorts this week and I shop at Goodwill. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Still Seeking Simple in the Suburbs

I started this blog about a year ago when I quit my job as a way to document ways to simplify my life and save money. I've learned some surprising things. 

First, I save more money when I use less coupons. Interesting. 

I still use coupons but only when they are for something I was planning on purchasing anyway. Most coupons are for processed foods and as part of simplifying, I am trying to avoid all processed foods. So, each week I scour the ads for sales, plan menus around the sale items and stock up on especially good deals. 

Second, you spend less when you eat less. A sad, hard truth. One of the biggest parts of simplifying my life has been getting my diet under control. I am proof a better diet leads to feeling better emotionally and physically.

Third, I have learned you cannot truly simplify your life until you learn self-control. When I am in control of my emotions, my eating and my spending, I feel good. When I act unrestrained, eat uncontrollably or spend irresponsibly, I feel guilty and depressed. It's just simpler to be in control. 

Dieting is difficult. It has taken me two months to lose 9.5 pounds. To succeed, you must take a long term approach to weight loss. I have stated before, when I began dieting, I calculated how many calories a day it took to maintain my present weight, then subtracted off 500 calories. I aim for 1300-1400 net calories a day. 

A friend approached me the other day, "You're losing weight!" she said with a tone approaching reproach. "How are you doing it? she asked, eyeing me suspiciously.

"I hate to tell you. I am eating less and moving more," I said matter-of-factly.

"Oh, that won't work!" she said with disgusting disappointment, ignoring my almost ten pound loss. 

I went on to explain my apparently radical 1300-1400 net calories a day method. 

"You can't just eat the same number of calories every day," she said. You have to vary it up and down to lose weight."

"I do," I responded. "Some days I eat 1300 calories and some days I eat 1400 calories." 

"Well, personally I am using human growth hormone," she said. 

Why are we willing to try anything to lose weight? I think it is because we feel desperate and unhappy and want immediate results. I speak from experience.

When I started dieting back on February 2, I went to Wal-Mart and bought some "Zendo Quality Herbal Dieters Tea". 

For some reason, I assumed it was super caffeinated and would speed up my metabolism. I have no idea why I thought this would be a good thing. I made my husband and myself a cup of tea and sat down in front of the TV to read the box. As I approach the bottom of the cup, I notice in large letters "NO CAFFEINE" stamped prominently on the box. 

"What?" I thought. "Then what's in it? Surely Wal-Mart would not sell an unsafe product. I'm sure it's been thoroughly tested in a large lab by highly educated people wearing white coats. If the rats didn't die from drinking the equivalent of 10,000 cups of dieters tea a day, I'm sure I won't." 

Then in small print I read: "This product contains SENNA Leaves. Do not use if you have or develop diarrhea, loose stools or abdominal pain because SENNA may worsen these conditions and be harmful to your health."

I immediately google "Senna" on my smartphone and read dire warning after even more dire warning.  Obviously, my phone is smarter than I am.

"SPIT. OUT. THE. TEA!!!" I scream at my husband, frantically waving my arms and jumping from my chair to grab his now empty cup. "Drinking this tea is going to be like preparing for a colonscopy only much, much worse," I predict.

"You're blocking the TV," he responds. 

The end result? None. No running to the bathroom, no weight loss, nothing. I just fell for the equivalent of a diet scam. The only good thing about the tea was that it made me jump up and wave my arms frantically. I felt like an idiot. 

I thought, "Why am I so desperate I am willing to risk my health?" From that point, I decided I would use no expensive supplements, medicines, fad diets, crazy fasts, cabbage soups or anything else to lose weight. I knew rationally there was no easy way to lose weight, no miracle cure. It took months to gain and it would take months to lose. I calculated it would take me 8 months to lose the amount of weight I wanted. Dieting is about endurance

I often reason with myself, "Eight months will pass regardless of what I eat. I can be thinner or stay fat. It's within my control." 

The first week was the hardest. After the first week, I started adjusting to eating less and feeling a little proud of myself.  One night when I was especially hungry, my husband made the point that hunger pangs aren't really pain, they are just an annoying sensation. And it's true, I have experienced real pain. Mild hunger doesn't come close. 

"Go make yourself a cup of hot tea," he said. I did and I forgot about my hunger pains. I notice I most often feel hunger pains when sitting. If I get up and do something, I forget about them.

The more I lose, the less willing I am to give in to temptation. When offered something tempting, I stop and think, "It took you all week to lose a pound, is one meal really worth sacrificing a week's hard work?"

I have almost entirely given up eating out. It is difficult to calculate how much you are eating and there is so much more pressure to eat. Restaurants are the equivalent of a dieting minefield. So, when I do eat out, I try to always look at the restaurant's website prior to going and choose a healthy option. I don't look at the menu once I get there or I might be tempted to change my mind. 

Honestly, it hasn't been bad at all. I have primarily given up bread, potatoes and sweets. When I crave a potato, I make this recipe. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with 0 calorie baking spray. Place half a chopped potato, broccoli, onion and carrots on top. Season to taste. I use a steak seasoning mix. Wrap and bake. It's not a baked potato with lots of butter and sour cream but it's a nice substitute.

Instead of butter, I have been using this 0 calorie Smart Balance Butter Substitute spray and 15 calorie Teriyaki sauce. I always like to hear other people's diet tips. Please share.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Free Folgers Coffee Sample

Head on over to www.folgerscoffee.com to sign up for a free sample of instant coffee. At my house, coffee and breakfast are synonymous. I'm sure the samples will go fast, so I wouldn't delay in claiming a free cup of Joe. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Topeka HyVee Meat Specials Through March 5

I never thought I would see the day where I was happy to see $2.98 a pound hamburger. Hamburger is now for rich people. I finally realized the truth of that the other day when I saw some steak which was marked less a pound than hamburger! 

Anyway, HyVee is selling hamburger at $2.98 a pound, skinless chicken breast for $1.88 pound (works out to about a $1 a breast) and pork chops for $1.99 pound.

I felt these prices were foodsaver worthy. I hate touching meat and repackaging it but it does make it so much simpler when I go to make dinner. I repackage, season and add marinade to some of the meat. 

HyVee also has some nice coupons this week such as 99 cent eggs (limit one). Be sure and go through this week's flyer and take with you when you shop. I also took advantage of the shredded cheese for 1.25 package. 

Lately, I seem to be saving much more money shopping sales than with coupons.