Snacks to help you lose weight

Some may be wondering what I did to lose 97 pounds (so far, I’m 15-20 pounds from goal weight, starting at 245 at 5’3″ and it’s been a year and a half since I started. )

I increased exercise, though not as much as everybody says I should. I cut calories too, but for the most part I was between 1300-1500 calories, not the ultra low calories some fad diets reccomment.

One way I kept hunger at bay was by always having good snacks, a variety that would fit my macros in whatever I was low on. I generally tried to keep my snacks at 150 calories or less so they would be easy to fit into my day. That way, if I had a sudden craving, or just was a little peckish before dinner, I wouldn’t have to suffer.

I’m only recommending things that I actually used in my fitness journey. I am including links to buy them, and if you use my links I might make a little bit of money, but they are suggestions only so if you find a better deal somewhere else, feel free! However, since I like saving money, I’ll be linking to the best priced versions of everything to save you time.

Meat Snacks

“Chomps” are simply amazing. The turkey is my favorite flavor as it only has 60 calories and 10 grams of protein. I also like that the meat is responsibly sourced and not full of additives. You can find them in natural foods stores, or right here.

Lately I’ve also been enjoying these turkey sticks made by “The New Primal”, I like the flavor and the price is good. 45 calories each for these and 7 grams of protein.

These are just a couple examples. I also use jerky, Epic bars, and other forms of meat for snacks. I like using turkey because it’s very lean and usually not as expensive.

Shakes

While I don’t recommend using shakes as a meal replacement, they can be nice as a snack. They are also great to add to things like protein pancakes, oatmeal, or other things. You can use various forms of protein powder but for an all in one, low calorie shake that has vitamins and other things, this mix by Designer Protein. The flavor is good and mixes well with berries and other ingredients to make smoothies. It’s also not super expensive.

Nutritional Yeast is another thing to add to shakes – it’s tasty, savory, and can be sprinkled on food as a seasoning as well. I get this at my natural foods store.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are good as a snack or if you are running around and can’t have a proper meal. For low cost and a good protein content, usually 19-20 grams, as well as a pretty good taste, I like Pure Protein. Their variety packs are nice and I really like the lemon flavored ones too.

The absolute tastiest protein bars, bar none, in my opinion at least, are made by Built. They basically taste like you’re having dessert and the calories range from only 130-180 depending on flavor, plus some fiber. Protein is usually 17-20 grams. I love them so much that I have them for dessert and don’t miss a thing. They also have a ton of flavors – eating one is like having a high end candy bar with a really good chocolate coating. The coconut flavor is just like a Mounds bar, for example. My only issue is cost, but I’ve found they are worth it because the ingredients are good and I don’t feel gross after eating them, or have blood sugar issues. You can get a variety pack here.

Quest protein bars are pretty good too, I’ve had them off and on, and I like their fiber content. They taste pretty good too. If you haven’t tried them, you can see them here.

Vegetables

When I’m going to mindlessly nibble, I cut up some red bell pepper, or carrots, or seasoned jicama, or something else. Snap peas or snow peas are awesome too, especially with hummus or a dip made using Greek Yogurt.

Sometimes I’ll use berries, a small orange, or an apple as a snack. Usually I’ll pre-log the fruit I need and eat it at snack time, to increase my enjoyment and keep myself from getting hungry. There are a ton of good fruits and vegetables out there that make great snacks, just steer clear of dried items because they don’t satisfy nearly as well and it’s easy to overeat them.

I love seaweed snacks. They are crispy and fun to eat, like chips, but don’t load me down. There are a ton of kinds you can buy online but here is one that I like.

Speaking of veggie snacks, they are all improved TREMENDOUSLY by sprinkling a bit of popcorn seasoning on top. There are a ton of flavors available. For example, today I had some cut up red bell pepper with ranch sprinkled on and it was amazing! Using the low calorie sprinkles saves you from most of the fats in dips and is also a little neater and easier to clean up. Varying the flavors makes things even more interesting.

Dairy

I love Babybel Lite cheese wheels. They are 50 calories each and as a bonus you get some cool red wax to play with!

Greek Yogurt is a staple in my household. If you mix it with a little zero calorie sweetener and some vanilla extract, then mix in some berries or cut up fruit, you have a fantastic snack or dessert. 3 ounces of fat free greek yogurt with 3 ounces of berries is only around 100 calories and really good for you.

I love making a dip for fruit by mixing 3 ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and some zero calorie sweetener. Vanilla flavored Stevia makes it absolutely delicious.

Fat free cottage cheese is great too! Sometimes I have a little before bed if I’m caught with a bad case of the nibbles. Plus it’s slow acting protein so it’s good for if you’re building muscle. Adding a little dill, black pepper, and salt can make it a fantastic dip or spread.

Teas and coffee

Not really a snack but they are fantastic for if you just want something to drink. Most have zero calories. I’ll drink green tea, oolong, black tea, various flavors of Celestial seasonings, as well as home blends, hibiscus tea, dessert teas from Republic of tea, and more. For coffee, if it’s preground I really like Bustelo, or I’ll grind my own. I like doing cold brew. Cold brew is REALLY easy to do in this pitcher.

Also, for tea lovers, I’ve had great results with this tea kettle. It heats quickly, it’s affordably priced, and it has lived on my counter for a few years and not worn out.

Sweeteners

I will use Stevia packets, though lately I really like to use vanilla creme liquid stevia. A few drops of this is fantastic in a vanilla caramel tea. Also one bottle lasts you a good while!

I hope this list has been helpful. I may add to it from time to time. Some items that I use I haven’t included because they are much better to buy locally.

This is six months of progress – started losing weight January 6 2020, and this was taken in July.

Dealing With Partners While Losing Weight

Today I’m going to write about a subject that can be touchy – it’s gonna be a long one.  I’m talking about spouses, family members and living partners.  They are a huge factor in your weight loss journey.  They can undermine and sabotage, usually unknowingly but sometimes completely on purpose. They can also be incredible supporters and the key to your success.   Sometimes whether you have a supporter or a sabotager depends on how you approach the situation.

In times past, the opinion of my partner or roommate has totally derailed my progress.  Or more accurately, my perception (often inaccurate) of their opinion has been an excuse I’ve used to derail my own progress.  I have worried about jealousy, about taking away things they love, and more. Once I gave up weight training because I didn’t like the advice my partner was giving me.  That was stubborn and honestly pretty foolish of me.  Their advice wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t prepared to listen. So instead of thinking about what they were saying, I gave up, and started gaining weight again.

I am lucky because my spouse is very supportive, and doesn’t act jealous of my success.  I’m really grateful for that.  Even if she did, at this point, I think I would probably continue my journey – because I’m ultimately doing this for myself and no one else. However it has taken a LOT of work to get to that point.   Self respect and self care are like anything else, habits you have to build up if you aren’t good at them. The good news is, you can do it with enough persistence!   For example, in the past I have had some long periods where I didn’t think I should put my foot down and follow a healthy plan because it was selfish, while at the same time I was also acting completely selfishly in other ways and in deep denial about it.  Yep, I have some serious warts there. The truth is, it’s not selfish to care for yourself because then you can care for others in a better way. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

When your partner is undermining your progress

In weight loss forums I hear quite a bit about people who have spouses who bring in unhealthy food or snacks that they then have trouble resisting.  I understand the desire to not disrupt another person’s life in the quest for health.  I’ve been terrified of becoming THAT health nut, the one who made life miserable for other people around them.  

Compromises are totally possible though.  They usually start with a little honest, open conversation. A lot of people will just live in the same way until acted upon by an outside force, so that’s why communication is great! Something I’ve often had a hard time remembering is, most spouses and partners are actually pretty happy to help if you can come up with a clear way to do so.  For example “could you please keep your snacks in the cupboard so they are out of my sight and I’m less tempted by them?  I don’t want you to have to do without something you enjoy but I’m trying to avoid that stuff right now.”

If you have a spouse, partner, family member, etc who isn’t supportive of your weight loss journey it can also help to talk about why you are doing it, so they know more about what you are doing and that you aren’t going on some extreme crash diet. “You know, I haven’t been feeling very good lately, and I could stand to lose a few pounds. Would you mind if we ate some more salads?” It can start as simply as that.

A hard truth is that sometimes we use our partners, spouses, family as excuses so we can get out of something we don’t really want to do.  I’ve done this.  I’ve used someone else’s eating habits as a reason to eat more, have things that aren’t good for me, or keep treats around that I find hard to resist.  It’s because I wasn’t truly motivated to change, and I was often afraid to advocate for myself.  Afraid of what?  Nothing direct, but I grew up with an issue around asking for things.  I’m still working on that.

What I did in my case was use a weight loss contest as a bribe!  I said to my spouse, “look, this is a really good prize, and I think I can win.  If you help me out, and support me with what I need to do, I’ll split it with you.”  Later when the contest was canceled (I really was winning, but Covid) I continued my healthy habits and she didn’t mind because she saw what kind of a difference it was making for me.  A year and a half later and I’m 97 pounds down, which is about three times what I’ve ever managed to lose before.

What do you do when they want to lose, but can’t?

There’s one other problem that comes up.  In my case my dear spouse would love to lose weight, and is having some success, but isn’t doing all the things required to lose weight.  I’m not very comfortable counseling her about this kind of thing, so I will drop bits of information here and there and try really hard to avoid lecturing.  So when she consumes extra calories in the form of sugars and carby snacks, and continues to use a lot of oil to fry with, I bite my tongue – but continue to suggest healthy meal ideas.  Yesterday we had good talk about her needs, which are very different than mine, and I was actually able to advocate for my needs too.  Sometimes that’s all that is needed, is a good conversation.  

Another thing I have to remind myself constantly is that her journey is not mine, and vice versa.  I can enjoy being active and eating lots of low sugar foods, and lots of vegetables, because I am a lot lighter than my spouse, who has many health problems that I don’t have.  She deals with arthritis, neurological challenges, social anxiety, issues with digestion that are exacerbated by too much fiber, and has a really bad reaction to most protein powders and non sugar sweeteners.  She doesn’t need me bugging her about things she can’t control. Instead we need to focus on other things we CAN control like portion size, and making more of my famous loaded salads. 

Sometimes the people in our lives just get tired of hearing about our healthy journey. I can understand that, I would have before I got on my journey. So I limit what I say about it, so my spouse doesn’t get overloaded. I channel part of that energy into blogging to try and help others, and giving support to my MyFitnessPal friends. That helps a lot and gives my energy and enthusiasm a good direction.

So if you have a spouse or partner who really needs a health makeover, I think gentle, non confrontational conversations are best – depending on the person of course.  Succeeding will prove to them that what you are doing is right, and you can also extend the hand of help.  If the situation is dire you might want to tell them that you care about them and want to help them have a healthier life, but they won’t start until they are ready.

Above all, for whatever reason, don’t give up a healthy journey because of anyone else.  This is YOUR life and your health, after all!

What if they won’t even try?

A person WILL NOT lose weight or gain health until they choose to for themselves. They must see, deep down, what’s in it for them, choose to do it, and think it’s possible.  I can say this from both sides of things.  If any of those three things are missing it won’t work.  If a person wants to get healthy but doesn’t think they can, they won’t!  Or they’ll try, halfheartedly, give up when it gets difficult, and say “see? I told you I can’t lose weight.”  

So, in those cases where someone wants to get healthy but isn’t doing anything about it, it can be useful to figure out where their barriers are, just as you may have at the beginning of your journey.  For example, do they think weight loss means you have to sweat all day and kill yourself doing cardio?  It doesn’t.  Maybe they think you have to eat like a rabbit and give up all flavor?  It doesn’t.  Maybe they think keto, or Paleo, or going vegan, or doing juice cleanses, is the only way?  Well they aren’t!  Or maybe they have a messed up idea of what weight loss means and think if they don’t lose five pounds a week, every week, they are a failure?  Well it’s not!  Very successful people lose a pound a week, or half a pound a week, and do just fine!

So, screwed up ideas of weight loss and what it means can be a serious detriment, especially since quite a few beginning dieters haven’t done the massive research on the subject that some of us have, and may believe the ads and magazines giving bad advice out there.

Still, just as you didn’t lose weight until you decided to, they won’t either until they believe they can, and want to do it.  Gentle, non pressuring persuasion is probably the best way to go.  Cooking healthy, flavorful meals for them when you are together, inviting them on walks, suggesting healthy activities to do together, being a good role model – without lecturing – usually works best.  Let them see the joy that you take in life.  Invite them along for the journey but don’t overwhelm them with detail at first.  Baby steps.  

For me I think about how I would have reacted to myself if I came along to the me of two or three years ago – I wouldn’t have trusted me at all!  I wouldn’t have believed what I can do!  I would have said “you’re nuts, now let me get back to my snacks!”

And yet… here I am.

The Most Important Aspect of Weight Loss

What is the most important aspect of weight loss? Is it diet? Nutrient Balance? Exercise? Calories in/calories out? Keto? Intermittent Fasting?

Not quite.

Today I want to talk a little about the mental and emotional work that is needed to lose weight, gain health, and keep it off. It’s a subject that I don’t think is covered well enough in many books and resources – people focus more on the details of macros, calorie counting, exercise programs, etc. Without handling the mental aspect, all success will be short lived.

So, here is what I have found so far in my journey from 245+ to 150 pounds.

Never Give Up

I think the most important thing I had to do in my journey was to give up on the idea of giving up. Quitting stopped being an option. Part of that was a decision that I made, but what kept that decision from being forgotten was MFP, because every morning I will log in and read all the updates, and I don’t want to let everyone down. I also had to realize that I am doing this for myself, and nothing, not depression, not scheduling, not stress, not boredom, would make me quit.

Forgive Yourself

I have had to learn to forgive myself too. If I have a day where I go over, or if I don’t exercise as much as I planned to, I say to myself “I will do better, I won’t repeat that two days in a row.” Then I try and take a little time to notice how my body feels when I get off track. Whether if it’s a heavy feeling of having too much in my stomach, a lack of evergy, or a feeling of stiffness from not exercising enough, I notice that feeling and I let it show me why I keep my good habits. In the past I used to say “well, I messed up this day, so I might as well enjoy myself and come back to it later” then later never came.

Be Positive

Another thing that has helped a lot is thinking in terms of challenges to overcome and solutions to be found, rather than obstacles. Once I did really weal on a healthy journey, lost thirty pounds or so, but it was all derailed when I had a broken tooth and could no longer eat the healthy things that had gotten me there. At that time it was insurmountable, partly because other stress in my life was also high, and I just quit. These days if that happened again I’d break out the protein shakes and make a bunch of green soup, sugar free protein pudding, and other things . If my stress levels are really high I have an assortment of herbal teas that are very soothing. I also can feel how exercise helps me relax so I will usually get some minimum amount even if I don’t get in a huge workout.

Connect with how your body feels

Being in touch with my body has helped. Really feeling if I am actually hungry or just “have a case of the nibbles,” for example. Feeling if my body is asking for exercise. This isn’t so hard to do, it just takes a decision to notice more. Perfection isn’t immediate, you have to work at it, but the awareness will come. Another example of this is when I am stressed and inclined to nibble, and I realize that what I really need is a hug, or some kitty cuddle time, or a nap. Food becomes the cure-all, that proverbial hammer that makes every problem look like a nail, but we all have so many more tools than just that one.

How much is enough?

I learned portion control, too, and this is a tremendous tool. It was hard to give up the idea that I could have as much food as I wanted. Having grown up in deep poverty, that was a way I had of making myself feel safe because food equaled safety and comfort. So why shoouldn’t I have a whole bag of chips? I could afford it now. Yet, that wasn’t doing me any favors, it was still too much. My own solution for this is to buy smaller amounts of really high quality food, portion it out ahead of time, and take my time to enjoy it.

“This is the good stuff,” I tell my brain, “I don’t need a lot of it because it’s high quality nutrition and it tastes great.”

And it works.

Celebrate!

I learned to celebrate small victories, not using food but just noticing them and thinking ‘Hey! That’s great!” Going over onto the NSV thread has been a great way to do that, it makes me happy every time I have something to report. Celebrating other people’s small victories in the same way has been great too, it makes me realize that I’m not alone in the journey and it makes me feel good to support other people. So many times we feel like we were the only one to be this fat, or the only one to have this problem, and seeing that we aren’t alone helps us stay motivated and keep going because we see other poeple having success.

Gain Inspiration from Success

Speaking of success, the forums on My Fitness Pal have been a fantastic place for inspiration. I love reading about people’s success stories, and their in-process wins. I can see that there are folks with the same challenges as me, or worse ones in some cases, and they are winning too. I know that I don’t have any excuses, that this thing is possible, not the insurmountable task that I once thought it was. My success or my failure comes down to my choice so why would I choose to fail?

Be Patient

With success comes patience. We return to persistence as the key to success. There will be plateaus, there will be ups and downs. Sticking with it, and tweaking things a bit when results aren’t being found is essential. It took a long time for this weight to get on to our bodies, it’ll take a while for the weight to come off. Quick fixes aren’t permanent. Sometimes we even need to take little breaks to renew our focus. If we learn to be kind to ourselves, to forgive our own failings, then temporary setbacks won’t halt our progress.

How does this all work?

Now the question comes to HOW to do all this? The answers are going to be different for everyone. Part of it comes with time and thought. Brainstorm with yourself. A lot of these realizations came for me when I was writing about my journey but not everyone will have the same exerience. Maybe ideas will come during a drive, or a long walk. Maybe after reading a book. Just beginning to ask yourself these questions will help you think of your own answers. “What are some of my victories during this journey?” “How can I inspire myself to continue after I’ve had the worst day ever?” “What is my most compelling reason for weight loss?” Etc.

The Number One Tip

If I could tell everyone one thing to do, to help them be successful I would leave them with this. “SEEK THE MIDDLE PATH.” Avoid extremist thinking – the idea that if something isn’t an absolute success it’s the worst failure ever. This is still a challenge for me. I still tend towared being a bit polarized but I’m working on it and every time I do it helps me in all aspects of life.

I hope this was useful and helpful to someone. If there is a particular topic anyone would like me to explore further, I’ll be happy to do that. In future I might start thinking about specific examples of different challenges I had and ways I overcame them, because honestly, if there’s a diet mistake to make, I’ve probably made it!

What it’s like to lose 100 pounds

I started my healthy journey on January 6 2020. I had lost weight before, with mixed results, and always gained it back with friends. I was around 250 pounds at that time. At five feet, three inches with fine bones that was a lot of extra weight.

245 on January 6 but I have no doubt that I was higher previously considering the holidays had just gone by. Now I’m flirting around the 150 mark. Many people want to lose 100 pounds, for me it was an impossible dream. So, what’s it actually like to do that, and what does it take?

The first thing that you need is persistence. To be persistent, it helps to understand yourself and what your personal weak points are. That way you can plan around them. It also helps to have a sustainable diet plan that isn’t miserable to follow. My first 85ish pounds were done by simple calorie restriction, ranging from around 1200-1600 calories depending on the day. Though I limited refined sugars and refined carbs, I didn’t cut out any major food groups and I occasionally had treat days. Usually averaging less than 1 a month.

You also need at least a basic understanding of what your body needs in terms of nutrition, both vitamins and also macronutrients like proteins and fats. Awareness of any health challenges helps a lot too. For instance, diabetics might want to pay more attention to how their body reacts to different kinds of carbs. People with things like PCOS or IBS might need supplementation on certain nutrients. I had a problem with low blood sugar which I found was really tied to eating too many refined carbs early in the day. I quit doing that and my problems went away.

What’s it like though?

Generally, it has been a pretty rewarding experience. I feel victorious every time the scale drops or my tape measure reads out smaller. I’ve had to cut way back on certain less-nourishing foods, and I had to learn what portion control actually meant, but generally I feel good. After the first drop of ten pounds or so I felt more energetic and the more weight I lose, the easier it is to exercise and the more energy I have. So it basically keeps getting better and better the more I go.

There’s more room in my car, I can bend over to touch my toes really easily, I can stretch much more easily. I don’t run out of breath walking a half block. If I have to stand for a while it’s not an issue rather than having to sit down every ten minutes. My resting heart rate is in the fifties, my blood pressure is low. I fill up faster when I eat and I’m better at stopping, I no longer hate how I look in the mirror. I don’t have a super hot beach body but I wasn’t aiming for that. I get more respect in public.

Most of all though I’m really proud of myself because this is something I had thought was impossible for so long. It’s not impossible, and if I can do it, you can too.

Was I hungry?

Generally, not. People get the idea that when you have to be starving all the time when you are dieting properly and eating nothing but rabbit food and that just hasn’t been true for me. Actually, I feel LESS hungry much of the time because I don’t eat as much for entertainment and I’m not dealing with all kinds of blood sugar crashes. Even when I’m doing Time Restricted Eating I feel some hunger but I don’t have that STARVED feeling that I did when my blood sugar was out of whack.

How much did I exercise?

On a good day I’ll do an hour or so but that includes errands and household chores. I generally log any activity as exercise that challenges my muscles or gets my heart rate up for a good amount of time. I do some weight lifting though nothing very sophisticated, some calisthenics, some stretching, some pedaling on a mini-pedaler, and change it up as I get bored. When the pool is working I swim. I try to get at least 20 minutes of something every day.

What about the emotional aspects?

Since I ate primarily from boredom or need for comfort, I learned to do different things when I was bored. For comfort I’ll have a hot cup of tea as that’s very soothing. I started getting in to all kinds of interesting herbal blends for that. I rotate my tea selections regularly and that does a lot to keep my palate entertained and my belly satisfied. I also had to deal with some of the emotional issues that had sabotaged me in the past, and start learning to prioritize my own health instead of putting it on the back burner.

How did my tastes change?

When a person changes their diet, they also change their gut microbiome. You can actually train yourself to have different cravings. For example, there’s this one low cal protein bar that I love and I genuinely crave that. I don’t mind though because it’s low sugar and high protein, and I have it for dessert. I also crave different kinds of vegetables now, and when I make a really healthy meal I find that it tastes fantastic. When I have one of my old processed high fat meals, it doesn’t taste as good. Now, there are certain foods that are absolutely zero nutrition but I still like, so I will have those occasionally but control the portions.

For example I learned to make my own pizza, which looks better now than the one in the picture did. But I’d keep it to two slices and make sure I used reduced fat cheese and turkey pepperoni to help keep the calories in line. That kept the spouse happy too because she didn’t have to give up a bunch of stuff. We have homemade sushi rolls every Sunday for the same reason, also portion controlled, and that gives us some wonderful nutrients and healthy fats.

By the way, I eat pizza every friday.

What about goal weight?

I want to lose about 20 more pounds. Basically I want to get rid of this big floppy belly I still have. That’s one hard truth about weight loss, it still may not make you look like a picture in a magazine, but you’ll feel so much better and be able to do so much more. Even though I have that big floppy belly for example, I can still put on medium shorts when I started around 1-2XL shorts. My shirts have gone from 2X to medium also. That’s just to give you an idea. Still, as I have learned about my body and how much weight I actually need, my goal has gone from around 150 (which I just achieved) to around 130. That’s simply because I see how much extra I still have at 150.

What about inspirations?

I went on MyFitnessPal and logged my calories, which not only gave me a better understanding of portions but also showed me the stories of people who had faced some really serious challenges and overcome them anyway. There was someone who was totally wheelchair bound with muscular dystrophy and this wonderful lady still lost over 100 pounds. Another who was born without legs and did something similar. People with health conditions of every type, usually the types where doctors say “you can’t lose weight like this” and they did it anyway. I looked at these beautiful, victorious people and thought “if they can do it, I can too.”

That’s why I’m telling this story, finally. I work an office job. I’ve been stuck at home the last year and a half. I have a thyroid condition. Hormonal issues. I struggle with depression. Despite that I still lost roughly 100 pounds in the last year and a half. I did it, YOU can do it. If one person can be inspired to transform their life I’ll be overjoyed!

Weight loss isn’t a magic fix…

I still have some issues, I still have some things about my body I’m not happy about, but I am very proud of my progress. It hasn’t always been easy but it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be either. I look back at my early pictures and stats and think “was I really that big?” And I know that I was, but I always told myself it wasn’t as bad as I thought, I was just fine. Still, with all the energy and freedom I have gained, I can’t imagine going back. I’m going to enjoy my tasty new foods and healthy habits and never go back.

Your turn!

If you have questions or want me to follow up on this series, let me know. I’d be happy to write more articles but don’t want to cover territory that has been done to death. I would like to focus on the creative aspect of weight loss, to fit with the general theme of this site.

Genkijima Update – One Year Later

So you know how some bloggers get all excited about a new weight loss strategy and then a while later you stop hearing about it?

Yeah, I’ve seen that.

I’ve DONE that.

Many times, actually.

NOT TODAY!

This map now has stars all the way up to the house. I’ve lost 86 pounds so far. I have roughly 20-30 to go. I’ve gone from a 50 BMI down to a 29. I want to get to 25 or maybe a little lower. I have so much more energy and can do so many things I couldn’t before and my blood pressure has gone from borderline high, to the low end of the scale. My heart age has gone from 50 to my true age if not lower.

I feel good every day. Even though I’m not to goal yet, I’m still so much better of than I was. A year ago, I was not doing so well. 254 pounds is way too heavy for a fine boned female who’s only 5’3″. I’m not even talking aesthetics or any kind of self worth issue, I’m just talking health. I could feel the strain in my body. My heart would pound with even minor exertion. I was easily overheated. I had to rest constantly when doing active things.

The only reason why I haven’t failed at more diets up until this point is because I haven’t tried more diets. I’ve been really, really bad about losing weight. Everything from excuse making to lack of motivation to deluding myself about how bad the problem really was – I’ve done all that. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been heavy ever since I was a kid. Plus I’m female and have thyroid issues and PCOS and a sedentary job and I’m over 40 – all reasons why I should have a really hard time losing weight.

Okay, so this is where I sell you some magic powder or supplement or weight loss program…

…only I won’t.

But I will tell you how I did it!

Here are the things that have helped me the most.

Learn what portions should be. I used measuring cups and a cheap scale to train myself what I should actually be eating because my concept of what a portion should be was way, WAY off.

Time to adapt. Eventually, the body gets used to smaller quantities and different foods. With consistent effort, eventually these healthy foods begin to be DELICIOUS and you start craving veggies more than junk food.

There is no such thing as magic. That is, no magic pills, no magic supplements, no magic shakes or diets or programs. Weight loss takes work and time and consistency but it’s very doable. The thing is, once I accepted that there was no magic pill/quick fix, it became easier to settle down and do the work.

Learn what works for you. Everybody has something that works for them. For me, it was learning what foods made me hungrier than they should, and avoiding those. I personally used a high protein, moderate carb, relatively low fat plan and tried to avoid refined sugar and carbs as much as practical. I ate a lot of lean chicken and veggies and cooked a lot from scratch. I still have a sweet tooth so Stevia was my best friend.

Research and learn. I did a lot of studying, partly because I needed the information and partly because I was curious. I have read about various issues of diet, exercise, muscle building and fat loss from a number of perspectives. Doing that helps because you will learn more about the nuts and bolts about why things work.

Eat less, move more, and track what you do. This is critical for me. I have to know what I’m putting in my body and how much movement I’m getting so I don’t underestimate my intake, and overestimate what I’m burning off. Keeping up with this means I will know for a fact that I’m still doing what it takes to lose weight.

DON’T GIVE UP. If your efforts aren’t succeeding, change something. Maybe Keto isn’t for you. Maybe you’d do better on Paleo. Or maybe you would do better on a balanced diet with portion control. Maybe Intermittent Fasting works well for you. We all need different things. If a diet is too hard, maybe something needs to change so it can be adhered to more easily.

MOVE! Exercise doesn’t have to be a laugh a minute but it shouldn’t be torture. There are so many ways to move your body. It’s important for building muscle, general health, and maintaining balance and flexibility that the weight loss benefits are almost a bonus.

Remember that you DESERVE to be healthy.

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface here – there is so much more to this topic, but these are the main principles that have kept me going, more than a year after my last New Year Resolution.

Here are the three most useful sites – they all have a ton of information and tools for you and all are free.

NerdFitness – a great site for nerds who want to be healthy. Awesome articles and programs about all aspects of fitness and weight loss, including a community and a cool RPG like goal system.

MyFitnessPal – a calorie tracker (with an app if you want one), community and forum with lots of good health related information. It’s basically fitness social media with a distinct lack of drama. I use it to track my calories, nutrition and exercise, and the community keeps me accountable.

Art of Manliness – a great archive of articles and podcasts with all kinds of interesting information, quite a bit of it fitness elated. Well worth a read by people of any gender, it is a treasure trove of old fashioned skills as well.

By looking at my map you can see that the house is well into the Island of Genkijima, the land of vigorous good health. That was by design. When making the map, I realized that losing weight would help me to feel better, long before I even got near my goal weight. It’s turned out to be true. I noticed some pretty big difference after the first 20 pounds or so.

I still get excited whenever I get to put a new sticker up!

(Side note about the header image: It’s a screenshot of one of the ranches I’ve built in Horse Isle 3, a giant multiplayer open world game. )

Healthy Journey – Appetite

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m going on a healthy journey, a path that I call “The Journey to Genkijima.” 

I drew a map that showed a path to this mythical, but still very important island, the island of my own good health.  “Genki” is a Japanese word meaning, among other things, “energetic good health.”  “Jima” means island, similar to “Shima.”  It’s not just about being healthy, but being vigorous, positive.  You can see the map I drew here.  I placed gold and silver star stickers for every pound I lost.  I’ve set up different landmarks on the map and the destination, in my mind, looks a lot like the Fall Forest in Horse Isle 3.

At this point I’ve gotten past the lighthouse at One-Derland, and am crossing Bravery Bay.  I had to put more spots on the map to make a longer path because I realized that I should really end up at a hundred and forty pounds, not a hundred and fifty.

That’s been going pretty well actually, even after quarantine, and I’m sixty pounds lighter than when I started.  I still have forty-five or so to go but I already feel so much better.  My blood pressure is way down and my resting heart rate is sixty!

In any case, now that I’ve seen some real success over the long term, I’m going to start sharing some of the strategies that have worked for me.

So today’s topic is appetite.

Big topic! But it can really help if you learn to manage it. Since everybody knows the standard tips about using caffeine or drinking lots of water or eating lots of fiber, I want to go beyond that. As far as I’ve been able to find, appetite has three major causes.

Actual need for fuel/nutrients
Gut biota, number and types
Emotional and mental habits

I’ll take these one by one and show how I have been able to manage my appetite by keeping these things in mind. I have had no uncontrolled binges for about six months now and honestly… I haven’t gone that long without an uncontrolled eating session since I was maybe seven or eight years old, when I wasn’t in charge of how much I ate. I freakin’ love food. Always have. Especially sugar and carbs. So how did I manage half a year without any binges, and without going off the rails after a holiday meal?

Need for fuel/nutrients

A person will have massive cravings if they aren’t eating enough or if the food they are eating doesn’t give them the nutrients they need. If you are missing major nutrients that your body needs, you’ll run into problems, so I try to get a good range of foods to make sure that I am getting the right kinds of fuel. Also I’m eating more and more whole foods because they are likely to have nice little added bonus vitamins and trace minerals that other foods may not.

Gut biota

Increasing amounts of research is saying that the gut bacteria that helps us digest our food has a massive impact on what we crave or even want to eat. The good news is, you can change the population in your gut by persistently eating more and more of the foods that are better for you. Within a week or so, you can see some pretty big changes. For example, now lentils seem really good to me. I’ve also noticed that eating some fiber and prebiotics (the food that survives to the intestines and feeds the bacteria) can make me crave other foods. For example, I started off by cutting way back on sugar and eating more apples and veggies I liked, such as carrots, broccoli, that sort of thing. Before long I was really loving the idea of eating lentils, spinach, red cabbage, whole wheat, and more. Healthier foods actually tasted better to me because of this population change. Also my sugar cravings backed off so they weren’t so insane.

Example of an effect of this change: I thought I’d stashed some gourmet jellybeans for my birthday. My birthday was a “holiday” so I could eat sugar if I wanted to. These were some wicked nice jellybeans, bought at Trader Joe’s, made in Ireland. Yet, because I wasn’t craving sugar nearly as much, I was able to realize that they were left at work, where I couldn’t get to them, and I was able to go “it’s okay, I won’t have them” and continue on with my day. Previously I would have obsessed about it.

Emotions/habits

Our emotions can have a huge impact on our success. Most of us know that. For example, if there is a lot of self sabotage lurking behind the scenes, we might put ourselves in situations that could hamper our success. Habits are a huge part of this too. For every old habit we have, we need to replace it with a new habit. Habits can definitely cause us to be hungry at certain times of the day, and emotions can cause false hunger as well. So we might really need to do some work on ourselves to get to the point where we are ready to gain that health we so richly deserve, and convince ourselves that the effort is really worth it.

Being in touch with what is going on inside us can help us think “I’m not hungry, I’m just bored” or “why don’t I go have a cuddle instead of that bag of chips? That’s what I really want.” Doing that can help you realize that our bodies actually do crave what’s good for them, but sometimes those cravings are harder to hear at first.

With that in mind, I found it really helpful to plan my meals around when I am least and most hungry, and plan the type of meal accordingly as well. For example, I am not all that hungry in the morning – unless I eat a carb-rich breakfast with little protein. At lunch I know hat I’m not usually that hungry either, when I’m busy with work. When I’m not, I get bored more easily and also want more food. I usually have a mid afternoon slump, around teatime, where I really need something to get me through. My spouse and I both like a big dinner, and sometimes I snack in the evenings.

With all that in mind, it works best for me if I do something like this:

Small breakfast, invariably including protein, and caffeine when I want it. No sugar in the caffeine, and carbs must be complex. Example: eggs, a protein bar, a whole wheat flatbread with lentils, or oatmeal with a scoop of PBfit and a couple ounces of blueberries, or pizza if that’s what we had the day before.

Lunch needs protein in it too, so I’ll do something like a protein bar (my go-to if I don’t know what else to have), eggs and veggies, avocado with toast or flatbread, green soup and flatbread, leftover chicken from the dinner before, one of my breakfast options, or something random like roasted chickpeas, or an apple, PBfit, and a beef stick. Once I get back to work I’ll start eating more salads, or maybe sooner provided I can keep them good long enough to finish the leafy greens.

Afternoon snack is handled nicely with a protein shake or an apple with PBfit.

Dinner can be any number of things. It might be pizza, hommade sushi, a cup of rice with chicken on top, soup, chili, whatever. I usually save enough calories from before that I can have a bit more for dinner. I try to add vegetables when I can, and when we have something like udon or other noodles I weigh them carefully and pick a better option like buckwheat soba or brown rice vermicelli. Or we might have rice and baked salmon or a burger and grilled corn. I allow more in the way of carbs at dinner, but still weigh carefully.

Snack might be a square of dark chocolate or maybe some wasabi peas, nothing big. I might have nuts or something like that but I weigh those carefully too. I have a secret weapon if I wake up hungry in the middle of the night or need something right before bed – nonfat cottage chese.

I think this illustrates how appetite tracking works. If I know when I am likely to be hungry, and when I am likely to be not hungry, I can plan ahead and balance things so I get what I need when I need it. I can also plan ahead so if I am unexpectedly hungry I can do something about it – like have a cup of hot tea, or a protein shake, or some cottage cheese for example. I try to make my supplemental snacks either calorie free, or high in protein. Though I eat a lot of low fat foods, I do have fat in my diet, usually in the form of avocado or salmon or nuts or something like that, not usually in condiments. Besides, I would rather spend my calories on protein or good carbs, given a choice.

Other tips that have helped me:

Aside from the above strategy, sometimes it helps for me to have some warm miso soup (about 40 calories) or some tea, whether herbal or caffeinated. The warmth in my stomach gives me that full, warm sensation I’m looking for as well as hydration. This is good for when I know I’ve had enough to eat but I still want a bit of a snack.

Find the healthiest version possible of your favorite foods and work them into your diet.

For example, I LOVE pizza, so I figured out how to make my own, which is not only tastier, but when I make it I can keep it to about 600 calories for two generously sized slices. That’s not only better than any other pizza you can buy at a pizzaria, it’s real pizza, not pita pizza or cauliflower pizza or anything like that. If you made those you could probably do way better than me on the calories. My pizza is a handmade crust where I weigh the flour so I know how much is going into each quarter pizza, with turkey pepperoni, reduced fat mozzarella, black olives, boneless skinless chicken breast, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. The reduced fat cheese and the turkey pepperoni help shave off fat but don’t really affect the taste all that much.

Another example is chocolate. Love the stuff. So I found squares that fit into my calorie counts and I eat them slowly. Dove Promises work pretty well for this and Ghiradelli squares all have the calories on the individually wrapped square.

PBFit has been nice for my peanut butter fix, I make an apple dip by mixing it with cinnamon and water. I also have a favorite brand of protein shake that is lower in calorie and includes some added vitamins.

Weighing food has helped train my eye so that I can more accurately estimate what a proper portion is. It’s a learning tool as much as it is a tool to help me know exactly what’s going into me.

Along with understanding appetite and what causes cravings, thinking of my food as a “budget” helps me out a lot. When I want a huge bowl of noodles I think “is this actually going to satisfy me or is this going to make me want more, when I’ve already reached my limit? What could I do to this so I still get my noodles but I’m better satisfied?” So I’ll cut my noodle portion in half and add veggies. Or I’ll think “this looks delicious but if I start eating it, is the normal portion really going to be worth it, when I’ll just want more and this other thing will be better for me?”

Understanding not only when we are hungry, but why, really helps when we’re trying to retrain ourselves. It can be the difference between steady success and yo-yo dieting. It can also make our journey a whole lot more comfortable!

Unleash the power of snacking

If you’re anything like me and a bunch of other people, you want to start 2020 on the right foot.  For many of us, healthy eating habits are something we’re working on.  One of my biggest pitfalls was snacking… what I call “getting a case of the nibbles.”  I wasn’t really hungry but my mouth was bored.  It would often happen when I was working online, or at my actual job working, or driving.

I’ve started seriously logging my calories lately as well as working out a lot more (okay, working out at all – I didn’t start till December 10)  so that’s been pretty eye opening.  The logging is working because I’m finally being honest with myself about what I’m putting in, what macronutrients it’s made of, and what vitamins, etc, I’m getting.

Since I’ve started thinking of my daily 1700 calories as a kind of budget, I’ve naturally started thinking of snacking in a different way  Basically, if I were to eat something not so great for me, like a bowl of my wife’s fantastic stroganoff or a slice of pizza or something, I want to really enjoy it, right?  Because I can’t in good conscience go back for seconds.  I don’t want the calories to just go into my mouth and not even notice them.  It would be like saving up to go to a concert then not listening to the music!

Since I’m prone to mindless snacking though, I use that as a time to get good food into me.  For example, I’m honestly not super duper fond of mini bell peppers.  However, they don’t really taste bad and they have amazing amounts of nutrients in them.  So when I’m bored I bust out my daily six mini peppers.  I can mindlessly eat those – when I’m done I’ll feel better, have a shot of vitamins, and my mouth will have had something to do.  I also won’t be on the carb spike/crash cycle that will just have me snacking again.

So yeah!  Mindless snacking, when used correctly, can be a weight loss strategy!  Who knew?

Some good items to mindlessly snack:

Mini bell peppers

Regular red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (more nutritious and green) cut up with seasonings on them

Jicama matchsticks with appropriate seasonings

An apple, cut up with cinnamon on it

Carrot sticks

Cucumbers

Celery

Snow Peas or Sugar Snap Peas

Broccoli florets

…and more!  Just watch out for the high cal sauces and dips.

 

shallow focus photography of yellow and red bell peppers in basket
Photo by Nick Collins on Pexels.com

The amazing pineapple cure!

There is an amazing new cure that has been discovered, which will bless all humanity.  The results speak for themselves.  In the words of Jane Shirtwhistle of Toledo, Ohio:

“I used to weigh 462 pounds on a 4’11” frame.  This was caused by eating fast food all the time and never using anything but the drive through.  I had acne everywhere, I didn’t want to leave the house.  I was tired all the time.  I couldn’t digest my food properly either and I was bloated for most of the day.  My life was miserable!  I tried doctor after doctor, medication after medication.  By the end of 2017 I was taking 23 pills a day with no relief.  My dogs were bored because I wouldn’t walk with them.   I wasn’t sure where to turn.

“Finally my best friend, who is a raw foods advocate and has an organic pineapple farm, convinced me to try the pineapple cure.  She sold me a juicer and showed me how to shave the rind and crown leaves into strands fine enough to consume.  It was pretty fibrous but I persevered, drinking lots of filtered water along with it.

“At first it was really hard, eating a whole, organic pineapple a day, and the strings kept getting caught in my teeth.  I wanted my burgers and pizza and french fries and everything else I was  used to.  But in less than a day, nearly all cravings stopped.  I added lemon to my water and the rest of them stopped.  I started sleeping through the night and my acne was gone within a week.

“After the first week of eating one whole pineapple and a gallon of a day, I noticed that my hair stopped falling out and my blemishes were going away.  My body felt nourished.  I started having energy.  My friend guided me to adding salads for my evening meal but she reminded me not to add anything else.  She explained that I started moving around more.

“It’s been six months since the pineapple cure.  I’ve lost over a hundred pounds and am still losing.  I’m able to just eat half an organic pineapple a day, along with a gallon of water and triple washed, organic vegetables and fruits that I grow in my garden.  I’ve learned that the skin of the pineapple and the leaves help replenish the nutrients that we no longer get with our nutrient poor, Westernized diet.  I am off all my medications and I’m once again enjoying walks with my dogs.  I feel energized, revitalized and like I am in control of my life again.  Thank you, pineapple cure!”

You, too, can be like Jane.  If you want to eat a whole organic pineapple a day, you can, and it will have incredible benefits.  But you no longer have to.  For just a few dollars a day, you can use our freeze dried and purified pineapple powder, certified to contain all parts of the plant for a nourishing, whole health solution.  It comes in easy to use packets that are convenient for work, home, and travel.  You will enjoy lymphatic purification, whole body fat reduction, a cessation to cravings, stronger, healthier skin and hair, and a revitalized outlook on life.  It is the easiest, safest, most convenient way to gain control over your health and your life.  Some of our successful patients have also reported that mood disorders have disappeared, and they no longer need psychiatric medications.  We offer a money back guarantee, but you won’t regret trying our pineapple cure!

Of course, this is not something I’m truly suggesting.  It’s an example of what happens when quack cures are supported by testimonial based “evidence.”  I wrote this up out of whole cloth to demonstrate the key warning signs to look out for when trying to avoid quackery.  It’s getting harder to avoid, too, because quacks are getting better and better at slinging believable sounding medical terminology.

Here are some things to look out for when watching out for quackery:

Authors who only have degrees outside the medical profession.  For example, one totally quacktastic book I just read was written by someone who started out as a chemist and then had “thirty years in private practice” with no mention of medical credentials.  Chemistry is important to biology, of course, but you also need a good knowledge of physiology and a host of other subjects.

Textwalls containing lots of big words that don’t necessarily go together.  Some quacks will try to dazzle you with twenty dollar words that they hope you won’t analyze.

Testimonials.  If there’s no mention of peer reviewed studies, watch out.  Testimonials are often just made up by an imaginative writer but they can be strangely convincing.

Mention of parasites.  For the sake of good taste, I didn’t include passing a giant worm as part of what my “patient” went through, but that often comes up.  When in doubt, gross ’em out!  It deactivates the logic centers in your brain.

An overly restrictive plan.  Most of the time when someone says “you can lose x amount of weight by only drinking some exotic shake, eating some exotic fruit, etc, you can look out for the sound of ducks.

Hearkening to the “golden age.”  The fallacy of the golden age is commonly used.  Though there is a grain of truth to it, there’s usually a lot of exaggeration meant to scare you into opening your wallet.  Basically, it boils down to “we eat and drink nothing but poisons now, it’s a wonder we’re not all dead, when just a hundred years ago the soil was clean and the air was clean and everybody was happy and the kids were all well behaved and nobody was fat and there was a rainbow every day.”

The “Cure” being an exclusive line of products.  Obviously, this is a clear sign that someone’s main interest is selling you something.

Medically significant conditions cured by insignificant actions.  Again, there is sometimes a grain of truth to this, but in general you aren’t going to cure a significant disease just by eating a certain food or taking a certain supplement.  Especially if that supplement only provides testimonials as proof.

Any mention of homeopathy.  Again, for the sake of good taste, I didn’t put that in the testimonial, but take a really hard look at anyone who advocates homeopathic remedies.  You can see why by looking at the history of the “remedy,” and The Economist featured a good article about it here. 

Remember – don’t believe me just because I said it, think about what I said and the examples I gave and see if it make sense to you.  We all owe it to ourselves to evaluate what we do with our own health, get a good understanding of what’s involved, and question things if they don’t make sense.

Update on Nezumi

Recently I wrote an article on Katzenworld about how to tempt older cats to eat.  I was inspired to do this because I’m going through my own struggles with a 13 year old cat who has recently stopped acting kittenish, turned her calico nose up at food, and decided to open account at the local veterinary clinic.

Her blood test just acme back and the good news is that her kidneys, liver and thyroid are operating just fine.  According to the last visit she is also not feverish or dehydrated.  Eyes, ears, teeth and elimination habits fine.  But she’s also just under 7 pounds when she should be at least 10.

Anyway, the vet found a mass in her intestinal area, they think it’s likely lymphoma.  I think it’s likely a slow growing form of lymphoma, quite pragmatically because she’s still here, and though her decline has taken a few months, she’s still bright eyed and with us.  They started her on metoclopramide to help with her digestion and tomorrow I’ll fill her first prescription of prednisolone topical, something to rub on her ear flap, to help shrink the mass.  I’m glad about that one, she hates taking anything by mouth.

The pharmacist was amusing, by the way, when I went to pick up her medicine.  It’s a liquid, vanilla flavored if Nezumi cares about that, and I had to tell them I didn’t know her birth date because she’s a cat!  They understood but there was a slightly awkward pause when the older, white coated gentleman would have normally started to launch into a litany of possible side effects.

“Well, I suppose there could be drowsiness,” he said.

“It’s okay, I’ll be checking the usual veterinary databases,” I said, and wished him a good day.

It’s easier to think of it as a mass… rather than cancer, which is what it really is, even if it’s a slow growing one… and I hope it doesn’t grow in a direction that would block anything important.  There’s lots of hope here, partly because I need to stay functional, but also because she picks up on my every mood.  So does my spouse, and I don’t want to add to her already great burden of worry.  She has her own health issues, after all, the wages of doing hard and toxic jobs when she was younger.  Non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis isn’t fun, and neither is rheumatoid arthritis.  She and our slightly arthritic little feline understand each other quite well.

So I talk to Nezumi and I pet her and I protect her waifish nibbling self from the sturdy scoffer who is a proud 17 years of age and is used to eating very rapidly.  And I tell her she’s going to feel better soon, and I brush her and tell her she’s beautiful.  One way or another, it’s all absolutely true.

 

 

How to Become a Morning Person

Are you a night owl?

Would you rather be a morning person, either because of personal aspiration or because you have a job that requires you to wake up early?  It can be pretty rough to have to wake up early when it’s literally painful to hear that alarm and get up, head still foggy, wanting to stay in bed.

I was that way for most of my life.  I naturally was a night owl who preferred to get to bed at two or three in the morning and get up around nine or ten.  I hated, hated, hated to get up early and just couldn’t go to bed much earlier than midnight.  The alarm was physically painful and triggered an adrenaline dump, causing me to always be grumpy in the morning.

At this point I get up at five for most of the week, and maybe six or six thirty on days off, but rarely later than that.  I feel pretty good and I’m nearly as grumpy as I once was.  I do go to bed at ten, but I fall asleep right away and get proper rest.

If you’re interested in doing this too, here’s how I did it!

First, I grew up.  I don’t mean I’m more mature and that’s why I get up early, but rather that my brain developed to the point that I wasn’t quite as predisposed to be a night owl.  People in their teens and early twenties naturally need a little more rest and physiologically will sleep late if given a choice.  However, that wasn’t all, as I still had trouble getting up early in my mid thirties.

I tapped in to what motivates me.  My job got dramatically better and so I didn’t hate the thought of getting up for that reason.  You don’t have to get a new job though, because even when I had a terrible job it was easier to get up on days when I had a personal project that interested me.

I found a less disruptive and jarring way to wake up.  In this case, since I have to wake up in the dark, a light-based alarm clock with a dawn simulation really helped.  The light starts out soft and gets gradually brighter, triggering my brain to wake me up gently and naturally, and there is an alarm at the end that in case I manage to sleep through all the light.  This is the one I use, I like it because it’s rechargeable, inexpensive and not hard to use.

I kept my sleep schedule consistent.  That is a good idea anyway, and your brain will learn to fall asleep earlier if you stay with it and don’t ‘cheat’ too much.  You will also get better quality sleep.

I started my new routine at a time when my life was disrupted anyway, and I was unusually tired and ready to go to bed early anyway. When my life settled out I was already on my new schedule.

I don’t wake up right before I have to leave.  I give myself a little extra time to wake up and work on things before I have to be out the door.  This gives time to be creative, or to have breakfast if I want it, and it is a peaceful and often productive period.  For me, this lasts about an hour.

I don’t use ‘snooze.’  That little bit of extra sleep is rarely truly restful.  When I wake up early, if I don’t have at least forty five minutes more to sleep, I just get up for good.

I also sometimes have some tea or coffee in the morning, and I also sometimes have a balanced, light breakfast.  Those are both good ideas that can help you but I have an easy time in the morning even when I don’t do them, so I can’t trace my success to those activities.  I also have a shower first thing, which helps a little, but that doesn’t explain this new behavior either.

Though it pays to know yourself and understand your own personal needs, if you want to acquire a new habit like this it’s well worth it.  The traffic is better early in the morning, the grocery shopping quicker and easier with fresher produce and full stocks, and for many people, a creative peak occurs in the morning!