How to not quit quitting.

So, 6 days into quitting and I have a few observations. First off, full disclosure: I have not completely quit – I’ve had a couple of cigarettes every day, full quit day is Monday.

Still, I’m pretty impressed with myself. I’ve been a 1/2 pack a day smoker for a really long time, so to drop down to 2 is a big accomplishment in my books. I’ve noticed that I’m drinking way less tea – putting the kettle on is usually the first thing I do each morning and a couple of days this week I haven’t thought about a cup of tea until the middle of the afternoon (when the caffeine headache kicks in.) Another thing I noticed yesterday – tea tastes better! Actually, everything tastes better, that’s no surprise.

Here’s the challenge. My husband smokes and I’ve come to realise that the only time he and get to ourselves to actually talk about anything for a few minutes without kids interrupting, is when we step outside (thus the couple of smokes I’m still having each day). I’m hoping that my quitting will inspire him soon, because it does make it harder for me when there are still ciggies in the house, but it’s not going to stop me.

Still feeling strong and reading Allen Carr. I got this.

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Is this spring fever?

Some kind of shift has happened in my head in the past few days and I’m entirely unsure as to what may have prompted it. But it’s really all good, so I don’t want to question it too much. Change #1:

i woke up yesterday morning and decided that after 31 years, I don’t want to smoke anymore. 31 years. Now, I think I’ve been building myself up to this subconsciously for some time, but I’m entirely unsure as to what changed in my head yesterday. Certainly not complaining about it, though. No, instead of complaining I’m reading Allen Carr‘s excellent little book, hoping that will reinforce whatever is going on in my head. And tomorrow morning I’ll be heading off to the health food store to pick up a lung-detox kit.

Change #2 – I’m suddenly serious about losing weight – tracking my eating, calories, etc. Now, modern wisdom usually dictates that one either quits smoking OR attempts to lose weight, but not both at the the same time. Screw that, I’m going for it.

it is entirely possible that I will completely lose my mind in the next 12-24 hours, but honestly, I don’t think so. I feel pretty good – surprisingly so, actually. I picked up a Fitbit today, so I can track my walking, activity and meals all together, either on my computer or phone. I have found in the past that tracking really helps me. Going for 2 pounds/week, which will put me at my target weight on July 27- the day after my 17th wedding anniversary.  All I can say is this – there had better be a diamond waiting for me if I make it!

To juice or not to juice?

A few weeks ago I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2 on Netflix, and was rather captivated by Joe Cross and his message. Did a little online sleuthing and came up with a Joe Cross 3 day juice cleanse. Hey, this would be a good way to jump-start some weight loss, right? How hard could a 3 day cleanse possibly be?

So, off I went to the grocery store where I promptly spent about $70 on produce. Honestly, given the quantity I needed to buy I was surprised it didn’t cost more. Came home and stuffed my fridge full of kale, parsley, carrots…you name it, I bought it.

I won’t bore with you all the details, but let’s just say if anyone ever suggests that you drink a juice made of tomatoes, kale, cucumber and onions, you should pour that juice on their head. It is gag-inducing. (I like V8, so thought I’d enjoy this too. Not so much.) Those green juices really take some getting used to, and I’ve learned that if you don’t like something, you’re not going to suddenly enjoy it because it’s in liquid form. However, carrot, apple orange and ginger make a lovely juice, and I’ve been having one of those each day since.

Deciding that Joe Cross is a little extreme for me, I picked up The Ultimate Book of Modern Juicing by Mimi Kirk, which is chock-full of great suggestions, recipes and some stunning photography. And 17 years after I received it as a wedding shower gift, my juicer is finally getting a work-out!

Oh and the 3 day cleanse? I was ready to gnaw my own arm off by 6pm on the first day. I caved. But I am planning to do it again using some recipes from the book, which are far more palatable.

Ahhhh…spring!

I live in Ontario, Canada and we have just been through an absolutely brutal winter. Tons of “extreme cold weather alert” days, and snow that’s been piled up for months. It seemed like it was never going to end, until Sunday. Beautiful, glorious Sunday, when the sun came out and the temperature struggled up to 0C. And it’s been a little warmer every day this week – sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I’m listening to the steady drip, dip, drop of melting snow and ice. So, it’s time throw open the windows (for a little while – after all the furnace is still on) and start spring cleaning.

I’ll never pretend to be a cleaning genius, and I can easily think of about 500 things I’d rather be doing, but I do like a clean house and someone’s gotta do it. I learned long ago that thinking I’m going to deep clean the whole house in 2 days is crazy, so I’ll make a list and tackle things as the mood strikes me. Over the past week, it’s been the kitchen – fridge, cabinets, etc. I’ve done the pantry, the fridge, the spice cupboard (is there a good way to organize that? God knows I’ve tried a million times!) and the cupboard under the sink. Now it’s time for the drawers.  I happened to catch organizational expert Peter Walsh on Dr. Oz last week and he suggested emptying the utensil drawer into a box – then when you take something out of the box to use it, wash it and put it back in the drawer. At the end of 30 days, get rid of whatever is still in the box (or store it away if it’s something you don’t use often, like cookie cutters or a turkey baster.) Sounds like a good idea, so I’ll be dumping that drawer today!

Stay tuned for results!

Did you miss me? I’m back!

So, I started this blog originally to blow the dust off my brain, and to share some of my Suzy Homemaker-ish adventures. Then I kept forgetting to sit down and, you know, actually share something. Oops. So, let me tell you what I’ve been up to lately.

Turns out that Masterchef is even more dangerous than every show on the Food Network combined. Those Food Network people, they’re all pros, so the intimidation (and mad respect) that they inspire is totally expected. But Masterchef? People can cook like that, at home, for real? Damn.

The upside to this is that my creative juices are flowing – I’m inspired! And shopping! Because if you want to make homemade pasta, you really need a pasta maker, right? Of course, right! So, when you’re at a baking trade show with your sister-in-law and you see one with the fluorescent “show special!!” price sticker, you must buy it. Because “show special!”. Turns out it is actually a pretty sweet little machine, and once I figured out the dough (which took about 3 tries before it was right), making spaghetti was fun. I think I’ll try ravioli next.

I’ve also added a pizza stone, a pressure cooker and every KitchenAid attachment imaginable to the arsenal. I’ve even told my husband that we need to move, simply because I need a bigger kitchen to to hold all this stuff. And a bigger fridge, we need a much bigger fridge.

That resounding thud you may have heard….

That was me falling off the wagon. Not quite sure what pushed me over the edge, but there was an entire day of bad eating….really bad eating. In the past, that would have been enough for me to give up, but not this time.

I stepped back on the scale, realised I was still ahead of the game, and soldiered on. And I’m still 8 pounds down. Time to add to that number.

I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair for years. Who hasn’t, right? For the past 5 years I’ve grown it out and have worn it longer than I ever have. A couple of weeks ago I saw a photo of a model with a super-cute short cut, and I immediately wanted to chop mine. But, I was skeptical. I know from previous experience, that as much as I love short hair, it doesn’t really work on me when I’m heavier than I should be.

But I bit the bullet – went and saw my awesome stylist on Friday and chopped it all off – now I have the haircut, I need to build the body to go with it! So this morning I re-acquainted myself with Jillian Michaels. I’m giving her 30 days to shred me – let’s see how well this works. And I’m continuing to have breakfast and lunch every day – it’s getting much easier to do that, as well as drinking more water. Just gonna keep on keeping on!

Now it’s getting tough…

Changing habits is hard. It seems easy in the first few days, but around day 10 it gets frustrating. Especially when you have cabin fever.

I broke down and ate some chips. BUT, I only had a few and I stopped. And I haven’t been logging my food for the past few days, but I’m going to start again today. But I have been eating sensibly, and as often as I can. I discovered that making fruit water is easy, and it’s delicious and it prompts me to drink more water.

I’ve stuck with one sugar in my tea, that almost tastes normal to me now and I’ve greatly increased the healthy whole-grains in my diet. I took the kids to McDs for a treat last night, and had a salad with grilled chicken – it probably had more calories than a Big Mac, but it also had more nutrients. 🙂

Baby steps – 2 steps forward each day and the occasional step back means I’m still ahead of the game. And 8 pounds down. 🙂

One week in

I did it! No packaged foods, no potato chips or crackers for 7 days. And I lived to tell about it. I even bought the kids a bag of chips yesterday and didn’t touch them. That is a MAJOR accomplishment for a salt/crunch junkie like me.

Oh – and did I mention I’ve cut back on the sugar in my tea? Once again, a huge step for me. AND I haven’t had any wine either. My chiropractor told me the other day that white wine can cause an auto-immune reaction in the sinuses, particularly in fair skinned blondes with blue eyes, so I’m staying away from it for a bit to see if I notice a change.

I’ve also managed to eat 3 good meals a day almost every day this week. Another big accomplishment for me. You would think being at home, that eating would be easy but I find that without the structure of work I often forget to eat, or am too lazy to prepare something healthy. That went out the door this week, I even sauteed shrimp for my lunch the other day. We all wanted burgers for dinner last night – so we found a great new local spot, and I had a terrific burger, only 4 ounces, with a fresh, delicious egg bun, topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, Dijon mustard, tomatoes and one slice of cheddar. Also had some fries and delicious Baskin Robbins ice cream for dessert. Portion control is key for me and I’m learning I can have my favourite snacks and food in moderation.

I’m now addicted to the Food Network. Watching these amazing chefs prepare food, I’m realizing how much I’ve been leaning on packaged food, and how truly unnecessary that is.

And the best part? According to my scale, I’ve lost 7 pounds this week. I’m sure 5 of them are water, but that’s okay, the numbers are moving in the right direction.

So this week: staying off the chips and crackers, eating 3 meals a day, and increasing my water intake, I haven’t been drinking enough water, so that is one of this week’s goals. And I need to get moving a bit more. I did go for a walk a couple of times, spend one afternoon breaking the ice on the pathways around the house, and have been cleaning out the basement, but I need to add some stretches and more walks.

All in all, I feel pretty damn good – and pretty damn proud of myself. 🙂

Remaking ME

New year – time for resolutions, right? My family and I just returned from our first vacation in 7 years, and while I was thrilled to go away and spend some quality time with hubby and the brats, the photos are making me nauseous. I need to lose weight. No more excuses or justifications – I’m out of shape and overweight and it’s time to do something about it. Nothing like hanging around a pool in Cuba to give you a reality check! I’m going to Greece for a month this summer – so that’s my goal: to feel better about the way I look before July, and to be healthy enough that all the stairs in hilly Southern Greece aren’t going to kill me.

For years I’ve been saying I need to lose 20 pounds. Realistically, that number should be closer to 40. I’m inching into the “overweight” category on every weight chart I look at. For someone who was chronically underweight until I hit my 30s, this is a really big deal.

There are always so many valid reasons why we don’t take care of ourselves the way we should. For me it was lack of time and money. What that really meant was I was not prioritizing MYSELF, it was easier to say that I didn’t have time to do anything, than it actually was to do something. I no longer have that excuse. I’m a stay-at-home mom, with kids in school every day. I’ve got nothing but time – to exercise, to shop well, and to cook healthily, and that’s what I’m going to do. 40 pounds or a size 6. Whichever comes first. Full disclosure here – I’m 5’8″ and currently weigh 177 pounds. I was about 140 pounds and size 6 in my 30s, and that’s where I feel the best, and think I look my best. This isn’t just about vanity though, I’m in the worst shape I’ve ever been, totally UNfit. I want to be fit, strong and healthy. And if I look great too? Well, that’s just an added bonus!

I know I’ve mentioned Tosca Reno here before, I went off to the bookstore yesterday and picked up her new book The Start Here Diet. Read it last night, and it was exactly what I needed to put this all in perspective. With all due respect to the Tracey Andersons of the world, a dancer in her 20s isn’t the fitness mentor a woman in her 40s needs (not this woman, anyway!)

So, this week’s challenge is: drop my danger food from my diet. And that is? Chips and crackers. No more, for 7 days starting today. I also need to ensure that I eat meals and snacks every day, something I actually don’t do very well – like a lot of moms I feed my kids, but not myself. So this morning I had some whole grain sourdough toast with peanut butter and a banana. Might not be a big deal for most, but for me that’s a total win! And I just enjoyed some yummy homemade turkey rice soup. Dinner is flank steak with roasted red pepper salad.

Workouts for the next few weeks will be done at home – yoga, dumbbell and kettle bell exercises and walking. I want to improve my strength a bit before I hit the gym.

Wish me luck! Or better yet, join me.

Fall cleaning

In my quest to get back to basics, I recently took a look at the dreaded under the kitchen sink cupboard. Full of all kinds of cleaning products, bought because I thought they would be the answer to my prayers. Turns out they’re just a bunch of smelly chemicals for the most part.

The bane of my cleaning existence are the tiles in my house. In our foyer and kitchen we have these lovely looking “greige” ceramic tiles. I know why someone (not me!) would have chosen them, they’re very pretty and their neutral colour means that you can decorate around them quite easily. However, they aren’t smooth and cleaning them is a nightmare. And of course they’re on the floor in the messiest areas of the house.

I have spent a small fortune on mops and cleaners, looking for the most effective way to clean these tiles. I thought a steamer would work, and while it is great on smooth floors (love it on the hardwood), not so much on textured floors. And after all that, a little research into natural cleaners solved the problem Here’s my no-fail floor cleaner (courtesy of someone on Pinterest):

I cup white vinegar

1 cup baking soda

1 squirt of dishsoap (I use blue Dawn, that seems the be the one most recommended online)

A bucket full of hot water

Mop and voila! Perfect clean floors! Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it dissipates as soon as it’s dry. I’ve also tried adding a couple of drops of essential oil (I like grapefruit) to leave a fresh scent.

I now find myself going straight to the internet instead of the cleaning aisle whenever I have a cleaning challenge. Vinegar and baking soda are great to lift burned-on crud on my gas stovetop. Vinegar removes stains and smells in the laundry. Heck vinegar cures all household evils, I think.

I know, I’m a complete novice when it comes to this natural cleaning stuff, but it definitely has a place in my life. Cheaper, easier and healthier. That’s a win!