Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 42 & cat videos & #HHM2015 (Happiness Happens Month 2015)

This is just a quick post to share how it’s going with this challenge. Well, although I’m still not making a huge dent in my pantry. My freezer gets a bit emptier, & then I end up putting more stuff in there – like fruit that I want to save for later or food that other people have given me. So the stuff with which I started is getting less, & that’s something.

With my pantry, as I’ve mentioned before, most of the stuff are things that need cooking to consume, & I’ve not been cooking much in the heat we’ve had. Today’s a bit cooler, & so I might whip some stuff up later. I have some ideas for what to do with some of my pantry stuff, & so that’s a good thing. That’s all part of it, & I’m looking forward to trying some of them out.

About a week or two ago, a friend brought me some Chicken Helper Sweet & Sour, which has rice in it, & a package of chicken. So I mixed it up, saving one of the pieces of chicken for later. It was good, & the other piece of chicken was good, too, when I made it with just plain ol’ white rice. Yes, I felt like chicken & rice two days in a row. So what? I can do that. haha

I saved the chicken bones & will use them to make soup. I’m looking forward to that! The first time ever that I’ll make chicken noodle soup. I left enough meat on the bones to have some in there, & I have plenty of egg noodles for the soup. For me, thin egg noodles are THE noodle for chicken noodle soup if homemade noodles aren’t available. Smile

From now on, I plan on sharing my Pantry Challenge update once a week. I’ve not yet decided on which day, but Mondays maybe. We shall see. If there’s something special to report in between, then I’ll have an extra PC post. Smile

Cat videos are THE #1 thing watched online these days, & I proudly admit to being a fan. Only one time have I spent literally hours watching cat videos, & it was worth it. Just pure entertainment & time well wasted, some might say. I do spend time every so often watching cat videos just because, & it’s fun. Cats are so amusing and funny. I have no shame in admitting that Dublin amazes me, with his agility & other things. He can jump much higher than his own height with seemingly no effort at all. Sometimes he looks like he’s just floating up there on an invisible elevator or something. He also knows exactly when I need purr therapy & comfort, & this is shown to be a common cat thing.

Cat videos are popular – no one can deny this – & many people I know love watching them. Even if it’s just to get a quick Maru fix or to catch the latest Simon’s Cat animated short, cat videos are a great way to spend a few minutes – or a whole day – here & there.

Dublin Selfie

OK, so this isn’t a cat video, but it is a picture of Dublin that he
took himself using an app called CatSnaps. In case anyone’s wondering,
I have no idea if they have a dog version.

So, what’s #HHM2015, you might be asking? Well, it’s the 2015 edition of Happiness Happens Month, which happens every year in August. During these 31 days, there will be one challenge a day to increase happiness & to share happiness with the world. It’s a great time & is a lot of fun to be part of. I’ve been a part of it for years, even though I haven’t usually shared what I’ve done. I plan on doing so this year, though, including blog posts about it. I invite each of you to join me & many others in participating this year. Even if you’re not feeing the happy, it’s still good to be part of, & it can’t hurt – it can only help. Smile


A very special day that’s part of Happiness Happy Month every year is Happiness Happens Day, & it’s on 8 August. There’s a beverage for it every year, & last year’s was pink lemonade. I did make my own, & it was very good. This year’s is sparkling lemonade, although you can pick another beverage of your choice if you prefer. Sparkling lemonade sounds really good to me. Smile


So, please join me in #HHM2015 & get your happy on!! You won’t be sorry that you did.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 26 & MFP & some numbers that I found impressive

The following is a comment I added to the status that was automatically generated over on MyFitnessPal, aka MFP for future reference.

This is the 186th day of the year. This means that this is the 26th week & 4 day point of the year. There have also been 132 weekdays & 54 weekend days of this year so far. These numbers are counting today, a Sunday. At 8 AM, it's already 28C - ugh! But, thankfully, I have fans & they help a great deal. I only go outside if I absolutely have to. I mentioned the numbers that I did, about days so far, just because I was curious. With those numbers, it means that there are 36 days of 2015 that I wasn't logging in daily here on MFP. Oh, well! I've been here every day since, & that's a good thing. I've been logging in daily since 6 February 2015, & I plan on keeping on every single day for however long I can. I almost missed logging in yesterday because I got home after 10 PM from work, but I made sure to come, if for no other reason than to NOT miss a day logging in. There's a certain beauty in consistency, even in the small things, & I don't want to spoil that. 20 February 2015 was my last day drinking Coke, & I don't want to ruin that, either. A 135 day streak for that, & I'm keeping on. Yes, I still drink other pop, but it's not the same as Coke. That was a daily thing for me, sometimes multiple times, & I am an addict of it. I don't want to drink it again, even though sometimes I crave it like crazy. Ooh da lolly!! I'm doing well with these things, & I really don't want to blow any good progress that I've made. Part of it's due to the support that some of you here on MFP have given me, & I thank each of you who do that, whether you like & comment on my posts, or whether you just like them - that says as much to me as any comment, & I truly appreciate ALL support here.

MFP is a free website that offers a lot of support for weight loss & weight maintenance & weight gain, if that’s what you need. I really, really like it there. I’ve found it a really great fit for me, & I like it better than SparkPeople, aka SP. I used to be really active on SP, but after a while, I stopped. Even earlier this year I was going every single day, but I started to feel that it was just a place that I had to go to, that I had to drag myself over there. It became a burden to me, & so I stopped going every day. I don’t miss it, to be honest, although I’m keeping my membership there because there are a few blogs there that really mean a lot to me. Also, there are many helpful tools there, but I just don’t want to be going to a website if I feel like I have to drag myself there, if it’s a burden. I know others who feel the same way there, while others absolutely love it. I’m glad that they do. SP is a good site and has been super helpful to a lot of people. I’ve received help & support there myself in the past, too.

MFP, though, is different. Yes, there’s an incentive for me to log in every day – my log in streak. Today is my 150th log-in day on MFP, & I’m very proud of that. I’ve been going there every day, seeing what others have posted, & liking almost everything posted by or on behalf of my MFP friends. If I can’t like a post for whatever reason, (usually because I truly don’t like what’s been posted) then I’ll try to comment with something, even if it’s just some kind of simple sentence of support.

It doesn’t usually take long since not all of my MFP friends are active, but those who are, I feel a certain kinship to them. We’re all there for the same reason – to guard & to look after ourselves. Not everyone has weight to lose, & some are just maintaining it because they’ve either reached those goals or are very close to them. I’ve checked out the forums on MFP a few times, but I don’t find them any great help to me, as a rule. There’re lots of threads that include such stuff like “Would you date the person above you?” or “Give a nickname to the person above you” or other silly things like that. What do things like that have to do with supporting others? Yes, it’s cool that people want to go there & to just have fun, & I certainly appreciate that. But threads like that can do some damage if you get mean people on it, & they’re just plain silly.

Yes, there are forum posts on MFP that’re actually helpful, but sometimes it’s hard to get past the silly ones because they’re the most active many times.

Anyway! What I find the most helpful on MFP are the comments that others leave on my posts, as well as seeing who likes them. Some people just like my posts & never comment on them, but that’s cool. I like that they took the time to like them, even if, like me, it’s because they were going through their entire newsfeed there. They still took the time to do that, & it does show that they care. Some people comment regularly, & I appreciate those, too, of course. It’s this personal aspect that makes me return day after day, along with keeping up my log-in streak.

MFP also has articles that can be of help, & sometimes I’ll read through those. I’ve been an MFP member for a few years, but I didn’t discover the articles or other resources for a long time. It’s not the focus of MFP, although they are good to have. MFP doesn’t have all the bells & whistles of some sites, like SP, but it’s still an excellent place where support can be found. At least this is my own experience.

So, how’s my pantry challenge doing? Well, in the past few days, I’ve eaten very little. Yes, I do make sure that I get some protein every day, but I’ve just been so hot & have been focussing on keeping hydrated. I’ve just not been hungry, & when I’m not hungry, it’s hard to eat, although I do make myself eat something. I don’t know how some people cook in this weather, but some people do. More power to ‘em! Me, though, I just can’t, & often its hard for me to even put a sandwich together. Still, I have to do it, & I do it. I have to remain nourished in spite of whether I actually feel hunger or not.

As I said, I make sure that I get protein in every day, but I also make sure that I still eat a well balanced diet. That’s vital at any time, but I find that, when it’s hardest for me, I have to do it even more. It’s worth it because I’m worth it, even though I deny this to myself often.

So, my pantry emptying is sort of at a standstill, but it will pick up again at some point. When looking through my pantry a short while back, I discovered cans of mandarin oranges & a can of fruit salad. Those require no cooking, & so I can eat those with minimal effort & no heat. So that’s good. Yes, there are some times when it’s hard for me to use a can opener, but I do it.

Some people wonder why I’m so weak these days. It’s all about the heat. I’m one of those people who does best in cooler weather. I just can’t handle the heat like some people can, & 20C/70F is the limit of my comfort level. I can go to about 24C or 25C with a decent amount of energy, but above that, & I start to wilt & to hibernate inside as much as possible. I’ve never been one for the heat – ask my mom! – & I’ve always preferred the cool. It doesn’t take much for me to get overheated or to start sweating, that’s for sure!

One reason I’ve been eating so much fruit is because I’ve been finding it helpful to keeping me a bit cooler & to add hydration to my system. Also, the sweetness from fruit is starting to be what I’m craving as opposed to the sweetness from, well, sweets. Like from candy and chocolate bars & the like. This is a very good thing, & I’m glad about it. I find that I’m craving fruit like never before, & it’s very exciting to me. There’re some fruits that I’ve always loved & would gorge myself on if I allowed it, but it’s never been like the past while, eating it as I have been.

Some people would say that I shouldn’t be eating so much fruit, that I should be focussing on vegetables, & I am eating those, too, but I have a very powerful sweet tooth, & I give in to it more than any other craving, aside from milk. I’m a dairy fiend, even more than my new fruit craving. Right now, though, I find that it’s a good thing for me to have lots of fruit, &, compared to other things that I could eat to satiate my sweet tooth, it’s a whole lot better than what I’d previously eat.

Just another side note – I’m watching the end of today’s Le Tour De France. Congratulations must go out to all those who do this race in the first place. It’s not an easy thing, although this is only Day 2, & things might be considered comparatively easy in the Netherlands, where it’s basically flat. Compared to what’s coming for these men – mountains! – this is a piece of cake. It’s not easy, though, cycling almost every single day in high heat, & it’s a huge honour to be chosen for this annual race. I applaud those who do this, &, being a cycling fan, it’s one of the few sporting events that I love to watch, even if I’m on my own. Part of it’s the scenery, but as a cyclist myself, it’s cool to see & to try & pick up some pointers from them.

Of course me being a woman, there are some things that wouldn’t work quite as well for me as for these men, but many cycling techniques are the same for both genders, & watching anyone cycling inspires me. I’ve not gone bike riding for quite a while, but I plan to start up again when the weather cools off or if I get up early enough one day to beat the earliest heat. Lately, though, it’s been quite warm super early, & sometimes all night. So it might be another long while before I get back on my bike.

Clara’s waiting for me, though, & it’ll be there when I’m ready for her. Yes, I named my bike Clara, after Clara Hughes, one of Canada’s greatest all-time athletes. She’s a personal heroine of mine, both for her cycling & for her mental health campaign. She’s a former Olympic athlete who’s won medals in both speed skating (winter Olympics) & in cycling (summer Olympics). It’s a very rare person who’s done this, & she has. She’s humble & a truly engaging person who cares deeply about mental health since she’s struggled with depression for a long time. So I figured that “Clara” was a good name for my bike since that’s the name of one of Canada’s most famous & accomplished cyclists who’s done a lot aside from her athletic endeavours.

The top 3 for today’s Le Tour leg, in order, are Andre Greipel, Pete Sagan, & Fabiano Cancellara. Congratulations, gentlemen!! Well done!

Tomorrow will find the men vying for King Of The Mountain for the first time in this year’s Le Tour, as they enter Belgium & enter the mountains.

Now a different kind of bike racing, & a women’s race no less!! The World Cup at Lenzerheide, Switzerland – Women Elite XCO – Mountain Biking. Cool!! I love mountain biking, & trail riding is the kind of cycling that appeals to me the most, although being out on the road & barrelling down a long, straight strip….well, that has its appeal, too. Zoooomm!

Well, that’s this post for today. I hope that you enjoyed my thoughts on various things. I know that I’ve not been riding all that much about my actual pantry challenge lately, but there’s not much to write on it at this time. I will try to focus on it a bit more in a upcoming posts, but there’s more to my life than that, although this is a very important challenge to me. It really is! Smile

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 23 & a couple of surprinsgly good realisations

Hey, all! It’s been a few days. Almost a week, actually, & I’ve not really had much to say, if anything. It’s been too hot to do much – at least for me – & I found out last night that even my brother, who loves the heat, could do with a little less of it. So that tells you that it really is too hot & isn’t just in my head.

The heat & I have never been friends. I like to be comfortable, yes, but if I have to choose between being too hot or too cold, I choose the cold every time. I’ve always been that way for as long as I can remember, & Mom confirms this. Heat, I am not a fan of you.

This goes for my food, too. Every so often, I have an urge to torture myself & have food that’s a bit spicier than I like, but it’s worth it. There’s something wonderful about the tastes if something’s not too hot for the flavours to come through, & I do like my food to be flavourful. There’s a great difference, though, between having things spicy just for the sake of the heat than having things full of flavour to add that special something to a dish.

One of my Mom’s friends has a very bland diet. Yesterday Mom made two lasagnes for this friend because she likes Mom’s lasagne. Mom’s a really good cook, and she adds flavour without going overboard on it. With the exception of her occasional batch of chilli or spaghetti sauce, her food is never too spicy. Dad & Allen (my brother) like things on the spicier side, & so they can always add stuff if they like. Mom’s food, though, they do like.

Mom comes from a family of good cooks, and one thing that she taught me that’s key in cooking is to taste what you’re making as you go. That way you – the cook – know how things are & whether anything needs to be added to it before it’s done. I do that as well, & I know that it makes a huge difference.

This friend of Mom’s, who’s paying Mom for those two lasagnes, has very few spices in her cupboard. She also doesn’t taste her food as she cooks it, and she’s obsessed with having absolutely no fat if at all possible in her diet. Well, that’s not good. A diet shouldn’t be a full on fat fest, but it should also not go the other way & lack any kind of fat. Fat helps to add flavour to things, and it also helps with cooking, to help make things moist & just a little bit better.

Now I’m saying that you have to use lard or butter or any other kind of animal-sourced fat if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, but there are other ways to get this stuff into your diet so that your cooking is good and so that you want to eat the food you have. Vegetable oils are great, for example.

This post was not meant to be about adding fat to a diet or anything like that, & I’ve changed my own eating a lot. This summer in the heat, I’ve been eating a lot more fruit. I discovered some canned fruit in my pantry, & a dear friend gave me three jars of apple sauce that she made. So I’m looking forward to having those once the jar of apple sauce I  have in the fridge is done. My fresh fruit comes first, as well, but the fruit that I have in the cupboard is going to be good in a few ideas that I have, especially the cans of Mandarin orange slices. They’ll go well with bananas, methinks.

I found an old thing of iced tea powder, & so I used that up to make a pitcher of iced tea. It’s not finished yet, but it’s great to have it in the fridge. I don’t like making iced tea from actual tea, although I do want to try it with chai. I have a recipe for homemade iced tea using tea bags that I am going to try with some chocolate chai tea bags I bought at the beginning of the year.

So, what’s the surprisingly good realisations? Well! Read on, & all shall be revealed. haha

On Sunday, I went to put on one of my favourite skirts, which had been snug a few weeks ago. On that morning, though, it wasn’t! I didn’t have to suck in my gut to wear it, & the same thing with my denim knee-length skirt on Tuesday. I’m shrinking! I know that eating less & sweating a lot more are key factors in this, as well as not having junk food. I’m just not spending money the same way anymore, & that’s making a huge difference in my waistline. I had a feeling that would happen, but to see actual concrete proof of this, well, now – that just hit me more than anything else probably could.

I’ve not yet weighed myself, but I will on Saturday morning, which is when I usually weigh myself. I’ve not weighed myself for a few weeks, but I will this Saturday. I don’t know if it’ll be a huge weight loss – I’m not expecting it to be – but I know that something will have come off, & every little bit of weight that I lose is better than nothing & brings me that much closer to my weight goal.

Weight loss is not the end-all-be-all of health & fitness, & it’s not, by far, the only measure of health improvement or the like. It is quite telling, though, & is an important tool in gauging how things are going, as is clothing size and fitness level and health. I don’t focus on weight loss like some people do, & it’s not the key factor to me, but it is important, and so I include it.

I do admit that there is something wonderful about seeing the numbers drop & to be able to say that I’ve lost weight. It’s a measurable goal, and sometimes we all need those in order to know how far we’ve come & how we’re doing. The key is to not obsess over weight and to make it the all important thing in life. That’s no way to live, & there’s a lot more to life than that.

It was freeing when I came to see this years ago, & it was amazing when it hit me that not having a lot of money can be quite freeing, too. I’m not saying that I like being poor or that I like being on a lower income. In fact, I’m so thankful that my income’s slowly increasing again. It’s just that, not having the money to spend on all sorts of extra stuff that I need & getting away from that has been so very good for me. I still have to be careful to not overspend if I ever get a bit of extra money, but not having extra money has, surprisingly, released me from having the urge to spend just because I have money. I hope that that carries on with me, but I have a feeling it won’t. Having learnt to do without, though, I hope that I can carry on the discipline with me, & I have four people to whom I’m accountable for my spending. That’s great, too.

Some people view being accountable to others as a real drag, & it can be. I’ve been in situations where it’s been such a burden to have to keep myself accountable to people, but in this case, I’m glad that I have these four people to help me out in this way, and it’s great to know that they care enough to do this for me. It certainly doesn’t free me from having to do whatever I need to do to be responsible, & it is ultimately up to me to watch what I spend & how I spend & to not spend unless I truly need to at this time. Being accountable to these four other women by no means makes me any less accountable to God or to myself. Rather, it does make me feel more free because, if the urge to spend needlessly comes my way, I can honestly say that I can’t do it because I’d be letting those four, as well as myself, down. I can refuse to do that because I know that I’d have to report to those people about it, & I don’t want to have to admit defeat or failure in any way. It’s easy enough to lie to myself or to justify something to myself, even if I know deep down that it went against what I’m trying to do. Having to do the same to someone else, though, just doesn’t work.

So it’s great to have these four wonderful friends help me out by asking me every so often how I’m doing with my spending.

The two realisations, in case I didn’t share them here clear enough in my ramblings, are that, because of my current way of spending, I am losing weight and eating a lot healthier overall & that being accountable to these four good friends is a very good & helpful thing.

The first one, yes, also has to do with my change in eating overall, & it’s well past due for me to make these changes. Back in April, the doctor told me that my thyroid was a bit on the hypothyroid side, & so he told me to make some changes & to have two more blood tests to see if the dietary changes help at all. The first one was in May, & I hadn’t heard from him about that. So I assume that either things were the same or had improved a wee bit. The next blood test will be in October. So we’ll see if the changes have made a good enough difference. If I don’t hear back from him after the next blood test, then I know that what I’ve been doing has made a good difference. Losing weight was part of it, & that’s happening right now.

I’m looking forward to the return of cooler weather so that I can once again start to spend more time outside. I will go out in the earlier part of the day if, like this morning, it’s cool & wonderful for me. The breeze was so sweet to feel!

Well, that’s the post for today. I hope that you enjoyed reading it! Smile