My Aunt Nancy e-mailed me this morning to let me know that my mom has issued a fun little challenge. Mom is concerned about the risk of Type 2 diabetes, which runs in the family, as well as heart disease. She also knows that many of us struggle with our weight for various reasons, whether it is serial childbearing (my story -- 10 kids in 18 years) or joint injuries (also my story, as well as others) or chronic migraines (my sister's story until recently) or whatever. So Mom has proposed a little weight loss contest. We each pitch in 5 bucks, and at the end of next month, the biggest "loser" wins all the dough -- er, I mean cash! I'm in! I've got about (mmph, grrr, let's not get specific but way too many) pounds to lose. I've actually already been thinking about this. I've put on some pounds this past year, and my joints are sure feeling it. So I'm going to give it a shot. I think there are seven of us taking the challenge so far.
My personal strategies? It's WWW for me! Drink lots of water, walk at least a half an hour a day, and watch out against calories from butter, juice, second helpings, and junk food snacking. That's a start anyway.
WATER: I know I'll write more about water later, but that's definitely part of my strategy. My friend Mary Lou once told me, "Don't drink your calories!" And I do drink way too much juice for someone who is at risk for diabetes. The nutrition books that have been gathering dust on my shelves all say water is vital, and not just to replace liquid calories. In fact, Dr. Don Colbert devotes the entire first chapter of The Seven Pillars of Health to the importance of drinking clean water, and the fifth chapter of Pamela Smith's Smart Weigh is titled "Air and Water." So I'd better start tanking up! It's interesting that this morning my kids begged me to start reading another historical novel to them since we finished our assigned one for this week early. They were asking for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, but since we've read that one before, I chose its prequel, The Well. It's about a black family from Missisippie around 1910. There is a drought going on, and the Logan's well is the only reliable source of drinking water fit for humans. Fortunately for their neighbors, the Logans are willing to share freely, even with racists who treat them poorly. I won't spoil the rest of the story for you, but for me, it underscores the importance of fresh water. Also coincidentally, today the PBS Kids show Sid the Science Kid was about the water cycle and how important it is to conserve so that we will all have fresh water to drink. Do we in the good old USA ever remember what a blessing it is to be able to turn on the kitchen faucet or buy bottled water? So many millions or even billions of people around the globe do not even have the privilege of clean water... More on that some other time, after I dig up the names of organizations who are building wells and water purification facilities in impoverished regions.
WALKING: As I was reading my Aunt Nancy's e-mail on my iPod this morning, I was already lacing up my sneakers for a brisk walk. I had been going out once or twice a week in the mornings with my friend Tonya, but stopped a month ago when I broke my elbow, and we hadn't started up again. I haven't done much eliptical machine at the YMCA this month, and no weight lifting since then either. This morning I figured I just better get out there and walk by myself. Anyway, about six blocks from my house, a lady pulled out of her driveway and then stopped her car next to me. Rolling down the window, she said something like, "I really want to walk, too! Would you walk with me in the mornings?" She needs to go out earlier than I am accustomed to even getting up, but I'm going to give it a go. I need to be getting up and getting a jump on the day earlier anyway, so I can be back and take a shower with more time before I start our morning home schooling time with the five younger kids. I'll be leaving the house the same time as Lydia has to leave to catch her school bus (a little before 6:30 AM), so I'll walk that direction with her toward Jennifer's house. I figure I can walk with Jennifer at least a few mornings a week and Tonya once or twice a week (as we used to), and that will get me into my sneakers and out on the street more often! [Update: Jennifer isn't able to walk after all yet, since she is recovering from foot surgery, but we had a very nice chat later on anyway! I have been walking with Tonya most weekdays though.]
WATCHING: My third strategy is to watch my excess calories a bit more. I love butter! That's going to have to go except for rare occasions. So are all the snacks that I am inclined to buy for my kids -- ones that aren't necessarily fatty in themselves, but that I eat too often. And those second helpings at dinner really aren't helping me do anything except put on pounds. I'll need my family's help to remind me of that one. Fortunately, they want to be healthy, too, and often remind me to buy more fruits and veggies and less junk food. We all love fresh spinach!
Also on the topic of WATCHING, I wanted to say a word about WATCHING TV. I really don't watch much of it at all, except for occasional educational videos with the kids. When I was a child, my parents removed the TV for about six years, and there were no video games or Internet to replace them. They did this because they knew we were rotting our brains and wasting our time as couch potatoes. We all spent the time reading, writing, playing musical instruments, doing art, and gardening. Not a bad trade! But even though I still don't watch much TV as an adult, I am often tempted to let my kids watch too much, usually so I can just sit and chill out myself. I've been talking about taking the TV out of the house at least until our school year is done at the end of May, and one of my conscientious sons has kept reminding me of that, so I'm in the process of doing it. This afternoon, I rendered it powerless by removing the digital converter box, VCR and DVD players. I can't lift the TV, but once I figure out where I want to put it, I'll get my teenage son or my husband to do the dirty work. Honestly, we will survive without it. We've gone TV-less for months at a time before, and the kids are better off reading, getting their chores done, doing crafts, or, even better for their health, running around outside, climbing trees, riding bikes, or swimming at friends' houses or the YMCA. Besides, if we really get desperate, we can use our computers to watch the news or play DVDs. So, no TV, but more family exercise! Right now, one of my sons is bugging me to go to the Y. He must have been reading over my shoulder.
What are your best strategies for keeping your weight under control? They don't need to start with the letter W! Do share! Add a comment button or e-mail me!
(And thanks, Mom and Aunt Nancy! Always nice to know someone is looking out for my health!)