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Making New Habits (and Breaking Old Ones) January 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jubilant Fields @ 5:43 pm

In my Leading Organizations class for the MBA program, our professor has repeatedly told us that it takes 21 days to form a habit.  He’s said it so much, I think he must be trying to make a habit of it.  I wonder how many days it takes to break an old habit?  It has to be longer than that.  Old habits, as they say, die hard.  My case is no exception.


The MBA program I’m in has classes two nights a week, from 6:00 to 9:30.  Before beginning my new “let’s be disciplined” lifestyle, I stopped at McDonald’s on the way home from class pretty much every night.  Everyone knows that’s the best thing in the world to do…stop and eat greasy food at 10:00 at night.  If I ate a normal person’s meal, it would’ve been better (still terrible, but better).  But I don’t.  I have zero self-control when it comes to eating.   A normal McDonald’s meal for me includes a ten piece order of McNuggets, medium fries, large Coke, and then a cheeseburger on the side to wash it all down.  It’s ridiculous.  When I look at that list of food now, it almost turns my stomach.  Not the food itself…I always have loved McDonald’s, and I’m sure I always will.  But looking at that list is just embarrassing.


Here’s where the habit breaking comes in.  For the last two weeks, since I’ve been trying to become accustomed to a healthier lifestyle, I eat my dinner at 5:00, before I go to class.  True, dinner usually consists of a Lean Cuisine meal or something like that for convenience, so I’m certainly not eating whole foods like I should be, but it’s better than visiting Ronald McDonald and Co. at 10:00.  The issue is, now after class when I arrive back at home, I’m convinced that I’m starving.  I’m not.  I have no reason to be.  I just have a habit of scarfing down crap when I get home from class.  Last night was a difficult night for me.  I wanted nothing more than to camp out on the couch, turn on Netflix (have you seen Downtown Abbey???), and thrown back some greasy, no good food.  I yearned for it from my toes.  I’m sorry, but when I’m relaxing in the evening with some television or a good book, eating a handful of raw carrots just isn’t what I want.  I wanted to eat some junk.  But I didn’t.  I looked longingly at my refrigerator, sighed deeply, and watched TV with no unhealthy food to keep me company.  It wasn’t the same, but I felt victorious when I woke up this morning.  Old habits still die hard, though…it wasn’t easy.


New habits aren’t easy, either.  I’ve committed to waking up early in the mornings.  This helps me have some time to myself (I’m an introvert, so I need some “me” time to decompress), leisurely eat a healthy breakfast, get the house picked up a little, and still have a bit of time to play with Bean and Dubs before I head off to work.  I’ve decided on 5:00 as my wake-up time.  Although I’ve grown to adore a quiet house and the downtime, I hate waking up early.  Thinking back to my professor and his “21 days” habit mantra, I’ve decided to continue with my early wake up call even on the weekends.  If I take those days off, the habit will be harder to build, and I’ll just go back to sleeping in every day (trust me…I know myself).  This morning was painful.  I’ve taken to keeping my alarm on the other side of the room, so I have to get up to turn it off.  If I could reach it while I was still in bed, I’d just hit snooze and roll back over (again…I know myself).  I trudged over to the alarm this morning, bleary-eyed and exhuasted, and thought about getting back in bed for a LONG time.  I eventually walked into the bathroom, splashed water on my face, and started my day.  I’m on the road to making the habit…just gotta stick with it.


Tomorrow will be a rough day.  The Hubs, Bean, Dubs and I are going to Schaumburg to go to IKEA.  I could live there.  The problem is that it’s our tradition to eat dinner at Red Robin every time we go to Schaumburg.  There are 1500 calories in a burger and fries there.  1500!!!  I’ve decided to make tomorrow my cheat day instead of Sunday, eat super-healthy for the rest of the day, and above all, STOP WHEN I AM FULL (a big issue with me).  Maybe that way, I can enjoy my cheat meal without completely blowing it.  Even if I don’t – even if I eat a completely unhealthy breakfast, scarf down too much lunch, and then wolf down the entirety of my deliciously wonderful Red Robin meal, I’ve decided I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  I’ve read a lot about the 80/20 rule.  If I’ve eaten healthy things 6 days of out 7, that’s 85% of the time, and that’s something.


Now just to stay away from the cinnamon rolls at IKEA…


Weekends Go By Too Quickly… January 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jubilant Fields @ 2:33 pm

I like to relax.  I like to lounge.  I like to sleep.  I do not like to run around crazily like a chicken with my head cut off.  Alas, it seems as though life has no intention of catering to my likes.  Since I’ve been going to grad school, I live for the weekends.  Between my attending class two nights a week and The Hubs working a closing shift at his retail management job on two alternate nights a week, about the only time I have my whole family together is on the weekend.  In the same vein, however, that’s also the only time we really get anything accomplished, since we’re so busy throughout the week.  If possible, we’re even busier on the weekends.


This weekend was no exception.  Saturday, we had to go grocery shopping.  There was a serious lack of food in the house.  Or, I should say, a serious lack of edible food in the house.  When we got home from the grocery store, we had to clean out our pantry.  It was overflowing with food that was well past its useful life.  On the upside, I now have a perfectly organized pantry.  Let’s see how long it stays that way.  This weekend’s task is to do the same with the freezer.  Yikes.  Anyhow, Saturday evening, we had “Family Game Night” at my parents’ house.  About once a month or so, my parents try to get all of their children and grandchildren together for dinner and games.  This time, my youngest brother actually requested the get together, because he wanted his new girlfriend to meet the family as a whole.  To say that we can be overwhelming is an understatement.  We are loud, obnoxious, and fun, but we’re really a lot to handle.  Though she’d met pretty much everyone individually, she’d yet to take us in as a group.  She handled it beautifully.  As usual, we had a fantastic time.  Typically, though, we are laden with heavy, fatty, cheese, sugary foods to snack on throughout the evening.  This weekend presented a new challenge, since all of the women in the family are presently trying to improve their eating habits, and my brother’s girlfriend is a vegetarian (an even bigger culture shock to my super-meat-eating family than the fact that my brother, who comes from a looooooooooooong line of Cubs fans, is now dating a Cardinal lover!)  We did really well on food, though.  I brought a few foot longs from Subway (including a veggie sub for the new chick), which we cut into small pieces, and a fruit salad.  A far cry from my typical buffalo chicken dip and red velvet chocolate cheesecake, I’d say.  We also had more fresh fruit, fresh veggies, baked tortilla chips with salsa, and several different kinds of 100 calorie packs.  I didn’t feel deprived at all.


While I was at my mom’s, I took the opportunity to weigh myself.  I don’t have a scale at home yet (they previously depressed me, so I banned them from the house).  I’ve lost five pounds!  I was super excited!  That’s nothing compared to what I have to lose, but I’ve decided to rejoice in small victories.  🙂


Sunday was a busy day as well.  We had church in the morning, praise band practice in the afternoon, and friends coming to visit in the evening.  Sunday is my “cheat” day.  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to have.  I’ve found that when I am being successful in my weight loss, I tend not to go crazy on cheat day, lest I ruin everything I’ve accomplished thus far.  This was the case yesterday.  I decided on the same whole-wheat blueberry waffles I had a few days ago (so delicious that I don’t even care that they’re a healthy recipe), chili and corn muffins for lunch, and meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner.  Though I made some serious comfort food favorites, I went ahead and “healthed” them up to some extent, keeping exact track of all of the ingredients so that I could be aware of the calories.  At the end of dinner, I allowed myself to eat one of the Reese’s peanut butter cup cookies that I made for my kids a couple of days ago.  Even with the “cheat” day and nicely-sized cookie for dessert, I still came in well below my calorie max for the day.  I’m calling it a win!


She’s As Cold As Ice January 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jubilant Fields @ 3:07 pm

It would be an understatement to say that I’m not an overly emotional person.  All of those things that women cry about?  Not so much.  I didn’t cry at my wedding or when Bean and Dubs were born.  I know…it’s not very flattering.  I tend to refer to myself as “cold in the soul.”  That’s not to say that I don’t feel the impact of things personally.  I just tend to internalize them more than others.  When I’m sad, lonely, bored, frustrated, or angry, I handle my feelings in one very particular fashion…I eat.  I’m a major emotional eater.

Seriously, it’s ridiculous.  All of these people who say, “I was so upset that I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do anything?”  Wow.  I can’t even understand that.  I have the exact opposite problem.  I pig out and take a nap.  I sort of wish I had it the other way around.  I’d probably be 100 pounds lighter if I didn’t try to comfort myself with food.  I believe it was on an episode of Friends where Phoebe’s therapist boyfriend said to Monica, “Remember, they’re just food.  They’re not love.”  Maybe I’m Monica.  (Wait, no…she was a clean freak.  Definitely not Monica.)

I say all of that to say this:  yesterday was horrendous.  We had a pretty frustrating day at work.  That part I can handle.  Pretty much every day of work is frustrating when you work in the Business Office.  It’s not really all that much fun to work with money.  It’s kind of like working the lost luggage counter at the airport…you don’t often have a great day.  However, after work, I had to participate in a merger negotiation for my Finance class.  It was a BEAR.  Our class was divided into two groups of eight people, and we had to negotiate a merger between two organic food providers.  I’ve spent well over 20 hours over the past week getting my part ready…and there were seven other people working on other parts of it.  Ridiculous.  Altogether, we figured we’d put in about 160 hours of work over the week.  Last night’s negotiations, which were intended to last about two hours, ended up taking four hours.  It was just painful.  The professor warned us that anything over two hours would be rough, and she was right.  It was extremely stressful and tense.  About midway through we took a ten minute break.  I was super stressed out and frustrated and wanted to eat…so I walked around the building.  That’s a milestone for me.

I figured people don’t really want to hear every detail about every morsel I put in my mouth during the day, so I’m giving up on that.  Instead, I thought I’d just share wonderful recipes that I find as I meander my way to a healthier lifestyle.  One of my new favorite websites is Green Lite Bites.  The site is authored by a woman with two kids and a picky eater for a husband.  Two peas in a pod, she and I.  Yesterday morning, I made her Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Waffles.  Holy jeez, they were amazing.  I did make a few substitutions (regular whole wheat flour, skim milk, turbinado for the honey, and nonfat yogurt for the applesauce).  Honestly, they weren’t just good healthy waffles…they were good waffles, period.  That’s a win.

So, three days down, and still good to go!  I’m already thinking about Sunday, though.  I’ve decided to allow myself one “cheat day” each week.  I won’t go nuts those days, but if I want to have Arby’s, I’ll have it.  If I want to eat some bacon for breakfast, I’ll have a little.  I’ve learned from a bit of healthy eating in the past that I tend to stick with it better if I don’t deprive myself entirely.  After all, six days of healthy eating a week is better than none, which is what I was doing!


Day Two, Done! January 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jubilant Fields @ 4:28 pm

Well, it’s certainly not a major milestone or anything, but day two of my diet is in the books.  I had a pretty good day, I think.  Here’s how the day went:


Rise and Shine

5:30 AM.  That’s a big deal for me.  I love to sleep.



  • Chocolate chip cookie dough baked oatmeal, which I adapted from the recipe you can find here.  I substituted non-fat yogurt for the applesauce, because in the past, I thought the applesauce added a funky taste.  I actually only made half of the recipe, and baked it in a half-cup ramekin.  I didn’t use any oil, and for the half recipe, I used one teaspoon of mini chocolate chips.  Mini chocolate chips have 25 calories and 1.5 grams of fat for a teaspoon…and it’s worth it. 🙂
  • A hard boiled egg
  • One cup of skim milk
  • One cup of coffee with light creamer


Mid-morning snack

Granola bar



  • The other half of my Beach Club unwich from the day before.  I seriously adore this sandwich.  I don’t even miss the bread.  I think if I put avocado spread on just about anything, though, I’d love it.
  • One serving of Thinny Chips


Afternoon snack




  • Two slow cooker buffalo chicken breast sammies (I’ll get to these in a bit)
  • Pretzels
  • Half a cup of skim milk


Evening snack

A cup of light orange juice.  I bought it because it only had 40 calories per cup, compared to 100 (or more) for regular orange juice.  Big mistake.  I hated it.  It didn’t taste like orange juice.  It tasted like Sunny D, which I really don’t like.  I think I’d rather have half a cup of the real thing.


Daily water consumption

Half a gallon.  I actually was really thirsty shortly before bed (maybe I’m starting to crave water, like I’ve heard tales about), but I was afraid I’d have to get up a million times during the night, so I abstained. 🙂



About 10:00 PM.  One thing I’ll say for getting up early…you’re ready for bed early, too. 🙂  Tonight will likely be a different story, because it’s a class night, and we have a super high-stress merger negotiation, so I’ll probably be pretty high strung by the time I get home and will have to wind down for awhile.


With dinner, I was going to cook some green beans, but we had to head off to church so we were in a rush.  I’m also coming down with a nasty chest cold, so I felt like making things as simple as possible, and everything else was all ready (I know…excuses, excuses!)  The buffalo chicken sammies were AMAZING.  It’s a recipe (or really, a method), that my sister taught me.  We put a pound and a half of chicken breast tenderloins in the crock pot, sprinkled on half a packet of dry ranch dressing mix (which really doesn’t have much in it in its dry state), and then poured on 3/4 cup of mild wing sauce.  I cooked them on low for about 9 hours or so.  By the time I got home, I didn’t even have to shred the chicken…it literally fell apart as I stirred it.  We then ate it on light hot dog buns.  I calculated each sammie to be 190 calores, including the bun.  It made a TON, too.  I had two sammies, The Hubs had two, and Bean had one.  We still had about half of the chicken left.  Leftovers for The Hubs!


So that’s day two in a nutshell.  I’ve gotta say, even though I haven’t started exercising, I’m already feeling like I have more energy.  There’s certainly more pep in my step.  I can tell I’m walking faster, and I don’t feel as run down at the end of the day.  Though my diet certainly isn’t the model of what a perfectly healthy lifestyle would ideally be, it’s certainly VASTLY improved from the “norm” for me.  I’m trying to get going slowly.  If I can find ways to incorporate tastes that I enjoy into my healthier diet, then perhaps I’ll be more prone to stick with it.


It’s a New Year January 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jubilant Fields @ 5:59 pm

Every year, I set a New Year’s resolution.  It’s usually to lose weight.  Every year, I break the resolution on or around January 2nd.  Although I’m known for my tenacity (read: bullheadedness), I’m not exactly known for my willpower.  This year, I took a cue from a friend and made a less specific resolution – yet it’s one that could (and should) potentially carry over into numerous aspects of my life.


My resolution for 2012 is to be more disciplined.  Yes, this includes the requisite better eating habits, but it encapsulates so many other things as well.  If I truly work to become more disciplined, I should see improvements in a number of areas:

  • Productivity at work: this isn’t really an issue as much as other things, but there’s always room for improvement
  • Home tidiness: this is truly my biggest weakness in life – even more so than food.  I hate, and I do mean HATE, to clean.  I love a clean house…hate getting it that way.
  • Schoolwork: I’m four months away from being finished with my MBA (yay!), but I’m a serious dawdler when it comes to getting my work done.  I get good grades (4.0 thus far, yeah, baby!), but all too often I spend my lunch break on the day of class trying to get the last of my coursework done.  That’s not so responsible.
  • Marriage strengthening: The Hubs is truly my best friend, but ever since I’ve been in grad school, our relationship has suffered from a serious lack of TLC.  This is not to say we argue frequently or anything like that (we don’t), but with everything else going on, we find ourselves and our relationship getting shuffled to the back burner quite a bit.
  • Parenting:  My children are truly Godsends.  They are well-adjusted, respectful (most of the time) and cheerful.  I really do need to be better about carving out time to spend with them.
  • Sleep:  Too many nights a week, I go to bed around midnight, and then find myself sleeping in until the LAST POSSIBLE minute, which (of course) leads to rushing around trying to get to work on time.
  • Eating habits: yup.


I know that once I’m done with school in May, I’ll have a lot more time to devote to some of these things, but they’re all deserving of my attention now.  I’m taking it little by little.  Last night, after I got home from class, I read for a little while.  I get home from class somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 two nights a week, and I just can’t go to bed after that.  My mind is moving a million miles per hour, so I have to read or watch TV, or pick up around the house to turn it off before bed.  So, anyway…last night, I read until about 10:30, and then I went to bed.  I woke up at 5:30.  Ordinarily, I would roll back over and try to get more sleep, but this morning, I pushed myself out from under the covers and started my day.  I was able to make myself a nice, healthy breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee and some time to myself before the kids got up.  It was refreshing.


By far, the area I’m working hardest to cultivate more discipline in right now is my diet.  Here’s what I looked like on Christmas.



Yes, that’s me checking out my brother’s 3D boxers.  Don’t judge…my family’s weird like that.  I digress…


I’m not comfortable with saying how much I weigh right now.  Maybe after I’ve lost a few (dozen) pounds, I will be.  Maybe I won’t.  Suffice it to say that I’ve gained about 150 pounds since I met my husband.  That’s not a typo.  I feel like absolute garbage all of the time, can barely breathe after walking up a flight of stairs, and feel a LOT of embarrassment any time I have to get down onto (or up from) the floor.  I’ve decided to start with eating right, and then gradually add in exercise.  I have a horribly bad knee (I broke my kneecap about 13 years ago), and it’s been giving me a lot of grief lately (no doubt from my weight putting too much strain on it).  After I drop some weight (not much, just a start), I plan to get going on the exercising as well.  Slowly, but surely.


My sister is my source of inspiration.  A “fluffy” woman like myself, she has lost 55 pounds in the last few months.  I want to be like her.  She, in turn, took her inspiration from our youngest brother (the owner of the fancy underpants above).  He recently participated in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and was a featured inspirational athlete.  My sister said, “I figure if he can swim, bike and run for 12 hours straight, then I can do this.”  So can I.


Long story short(er), I figured I’d use this blog to help keep me accountable (even if no one reads it).  I’m also using the Lose It! app on my phone, which is wonderful.  If you’re looking to work on your weight, I highly recommend it.  It even has a barcode scanner on it that you can use.  You scan the barcode of items you’ve purchased, and it automatically populates with the calories, fat, etc. for the item.  It’s pretty great.


Yesterday was my first day of healthier eating.  I did really well.  I made myself a mock egg McMuffin using multigrain sandwich thins, Canadian bacon, Egg Beaters, and half a slice of cheese for breakfast.  I had some coffee, too, because I’d have been worthless without it.  For lunch, I had half a Beach Club Unwich from Jimmy John’s, a serving of Thinny Chips, and half a Diet Mountain Dew.  For dinner, I had some Lean Gourmet microwaveable pizza snackers, pretzels, and raw carrots (maybe not the best choice on earth, but it was a class night, so I went with something fast).  For morning snack, I had a granola bar, and for afternoon snack, I had a banana.  I drank the other half of my Diet Mountain Dew during class to keep me perky. 🙂  I also drank half a gallon of water, so my new hobby is walking back and forth from my office to the bathroom.


So far, so good.  I have a LONG way to go, but on the plus side, I didn’t even think about cheating.  It’s almost lunchtime on day 2, and I’m still feeling pretty good.  According to Lose It!, if I lose 2 pounds a week, I should meet my goal weight by June 13, 2013.  Only 525 (or so) good days to go…hehe! 🙂