Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Distressed Hickory Floor

I promised PJ Geek that I would post a photo of the distressed hickory floor we installed last weekend. Here is is. I am so proud. A photo of the finished guest room will be up next week. The guests have already moved in and the room with not be vacant for a few days.

The window treatment is not yet complete. Right now you can see the blinds and then ribbons with bits of blue sea glass. This is called 'window jewelry' and will sit on top of the shear panels that will eventually be purchased along with an accent drape. Unless I go crazy and change my mind.

Speaking of distress: I was food shopping with my guests last night and we found a new Lays potato chip flavor: Cappuccino. Imagine a potato chip that tastes like coffee, cinnamon and thin potato crisp with just the barest hint of sweetness. I am a coffee-anything lover or rather, I thought I was. I do not like a cappuccino flavored potato chip. Not at all.

How about naming potato chips what they really are: refined cooking oil & sodium flavored potato chips.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Star Date 72614

Update to previous post about Stars and rewards and habits. 

The Intergalactic Starbucks Federation sent an email offering me four stars for every frap purchase for the rest of this month. Are they trying to overpower the force of the iRewardsChart app? I feel a weakness coming on . . . not to drink whip cream-topped sugar loaded drinks mind you. It is, alas the gravitational pull of a black hole drawing me towards the gold star of freebies. 

Must . . . . fight. . . . urge. . . . must get a grip on reality. Phasers set to stun. 

Three tall (small) frap purchases would be 12 stars (freebie drink). SO it will cost me $10.50 for drinks I don't drink to earn a $6.50 drink I don't drink. . . . 

That appears to be illogical. 

Tribbles like coffee.

I wonder if Tribbles like Starbucks? 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cancelled my Botox

We gutted our daughter's former bedroom down to the bare walls and foundation to re purpose it as a guest bedroom. Took off the popcorn ceiling, two coats of primer over the purple walls before adding a new, serene neutral pigment; removed the moss green carpet and sub-floor and laid in a distressed-hickory wood floor and refinished the ceiling with a smooth texture. Another four days and we will be finished, just in time for my sister's visit next week.

The last time we re-decorated in this home I was still very obese. This is the first time I could be on a ladder to participate instead of delegate. I had fun really getting involved with each process in action. 

This weekend I spent a few hours going around the room with an 1/8 of an inch-wide, sable brush so the ceiling and walls paints would have a straight edge where they meet. Obsessive compulsive? Nah, I went around the room once and did not go back to around again to check my work.

I took a couple of selfies while up on the ladder.

The face photo caught me off guard. I think I look much younger than my age of 52-going-on-53.. It does not matter if you think I look younger.  The point is that I THINK I look younger in this happenstance photo on a ladder, sans makeup. That is good enough for me.

I was thinking about a round of Botox and facial fillers for the fall. Between the cost of the Botox and Juvederm, I just saved $800. Now I can save the money toward something even more invasive - like skin removal.  

How do you feel when a casual photo makes you look good?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stars, Rewards, Habits and Changes

I am sometimes out and want a cup of coffee in the early morning. If I was passing a Starbucks I might stop and get a coffee. Up until last year I was just as likely to stop at a hospital's cafeteria coffee cart as a Starbucks. I was more likely to just make a cup of mud at home. I drank coffee two, maybe three times a week total. It was always decaf and I could easily go the whole week without any coffee.

When my daughter became a fan of the drinks associated with the Starbucks brand I was already firmly entrenched in a sugar free habit so I was not about to join her for a hot caramel marcchiato chocolate espresso double foam drizzle cappuccino whip cream frappuccino. If you don't think that could be a real drink, you don't know Starbucks.

So anyway, last fall Disney added a Starbucks in EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom. I am often in those two parks several times a week. As they built the shops I started looking forward to when each Starbucks would open so I could enjoy a hot coffee with skim milk as a guilt free indulgence. Okay sometimes I used whole milk. Okay sometimes it was half and half.

For my birthday last year I received several Starbucks cards from well meaning people with kind intentions. I learned that I could register the gift card and put a Starbucks app on my phone and use the phone to pay for the coffee. Then I learned that I would get a star for each and every purchase. I would get a Starbucks gold card when I reached 30 stars. From then on I would get a free drink of my choice for every 12 purchases and free refills on coffee and ice coffee and a free drink of my choice on my birthday.

I really didn't care. I don't drink that much coffee. Sure, while I am in the parks I can get a coffee but really, how long would it take to get this Gold Card status? I figured it would take me at least 7 months to earn the 30 stars.

It took five weeks to get thirty stars and I have not stopped .You know how they write your name on the cup at Starbucks? They don't write my name anymore. They call me "Hollywood Blvd" because I have just as many stars. . . .

Addicted to the coffee you ask? Nay, says I. I am addicted to the stars! I like getting things for free. I like that I can go to Starbucks with my husband, each order a drink for $2, pay with my phone app while my husband pays with my gold card and I get two stars for one visit. Then they keep running bonus star specials. This weekend I got 3 stars for every 1 purchase after 2pm (our coffee time on weekends anyway). The stars add up. I have earned more than 12 free drinks. The freebie drinks are never $2 coffees. When I get the freebie it is either a venti-sized dessert drink creation I order for someone else (sugar eating friends or family) and costs at least $6 or $7, or I can use the free purchase for a meal and give it to a homeless person.

When I realized that the stars were giving my brain the same satisfaction as the pleasing tones that come out of a slot machine (to induce people to sit and play longer) - I knew I needed to think about what I was doing.

I had made a habit out of doing someone (going to Starbucks). The act of the purchase gives me the stimulus of a star as a reward and that adds up to the bigger reward of the freebie.

To change the habit I have to find a stimulus and reward that is equally as satisfying or it will not work in the long term.

I found another app that gives me stars. It is called iRewardChart. It is an app for parents to keep track of their children's chores, behaviors, etc using a star/reward system. Each time you award a star there is a pleasing tone and graphic (just like at Starbucks). You program in what activities or behaviors earn stars and YOU choose how many stars to give for each. This solved the issue of a new stimulus to help create a different habit. In addition to others I won't list here, I now earn a star for meditating, two stars for exercising and three stars for skipping Starbucks! Next time they have a three star bonus special I will give myself 6 stars for skipping the 'special.'

The next step was to find a reward that is as satisfying as those freebies. The app suggests having different rewards for various levels. Now here it gets tricky. I was getting freebies from Starbucks. What would be as pleasing as free. Something more decadent. . . . things I really want but hesitate to get for myself. I have the means to put aside the money for these things but in the past two years I haven't been giving myself permission to gift myself. That has changed.

So now I got to shop at Sephora with $50 when I reached 50 stars. I can start seeing a licensed dietitian/nutritionist at 200 stars. I am taking a trip when I reach 750 stars.  I have been at this three weeks and I already have 169 stars. If I lose interest in this and revert back to Starbucks stars over iRewardchart it means I have to find a better reward to go with these stars. I will report back again in a few months to compare my iRewardChart with my Starbucks Stars and may sane behavior win!

I don't suppose any of you have any prizes you want to pass on as rewards to a star-crazy lady?


Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm Milking this for all it's Worth

This reminds me: there is an 8oz fat free sour cream
 in my fridge, bought the day 'fore I decided to cut
dairy. Time to toss it. 
I haven't had daily fat or any dairy with the exception of Greek yogurt for two weeks now. My protein powder is now a vegan protein powder. I still have Quest bars, which are made with whey. No butter, no cheese, no milk, no half 'n half.

As with most addictive foods, it has been my experience that it is easier not to have any than it is to modify with any long term success. It has been easy not to covet butter and cheese because there is none in the house and since June I have not been to any wine and cheese parties or smelled butter melting on pancakes or toast (trigger events). When I go out for coffee. I bring my unsweetened almond milk with me.

I am not off dairy for life (or at least I don't think I am). In June I found myself buying more than one type of cheese at a time and then making excuses to make foods with cheese as an ingredient.  I made the change with milk in my coffee when I noticed the splash of half 'n half in my coffee was starting to become a downpour.

Stars are inedible
but habit forming
The change is to keep me on an even kneel and help break the pattern of compulsion that comes when dairy becomes a craving. I did not make this change to lose weight faster, although it must be noted that I was not accounting for the milk (of any % type) that I added to my coffee each day. If I add enough half 'n half to a double espresso over ice in a venti cup I could turn my 10 calorie indulgence into a 530 calorie cream drink - and I was starting to find myself at Starbucks every day and more than once I did not pay attention to the amount of half 'n half I was pouring.

Part of that urge to hit the Starbucks every day was the whole milk or half 'n half I could pour into the cup on top of the skim milk.  Another reason was is the gold stars and rewards. More on stars, rewards, habits and changes the next time I post.

My question today is this: If you have limited your consumption of cheese for health, habit or addictive reasons, do you still have one or two types that you do eat?


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Faces from the Twilight Zone

Faces. The ones we show to the world are not always the ones we want the world to see. This reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode where the family members are all made to wear masks for a few hours to inherit grandpa's money. When midnight comes, they remove the masks and find that their faces have taken on the permanent features of the mask - their horrible true natures.

Do I hide my true face under a mask of intention? 

My mask of intention is the face I want to display to you, always and without any pretense. The reflection from that face would be honest, friendly, happy, vulnerable. compassionate, intelligent and considerate all the time. I can feel when I am donning this mask. I know this is not my real face - no one below the level of The Buddha can be all those things without deviation.  I learned I wore this mask I unless I was comfortable being vulnerable with a situation or a person.

Who sees what is under this mask? My family, my two mentors and therapist? Maybe one or two close friends? Do I see under this mask? I am not always privy to the face that lies beneath. At one time that face was hidden from me to save me from seeing my own reflection. I was not ready to 'face' (acknowledge) all the hurt, coveting, stinginess, deceit, anger, fear and hatred I believed it reflected. I certainly wasn't ready to see it wasn't as bad as I made it out to be.

Now I try to peel it away and let the world see me raw, exposed and vulnerable.  Sometimes it falls off and I do not notice it is gone and so the world sees I me as I am at that moment and only later do I realize how free and comfortable I felt without wearing the mask.

The mask is losing its usefulness in my life. I let it go now in hopes that it will fade away for good.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why haven't I posted more?

I am enjoying all the good things right now: sober eating, happy relationships, moving my body without pain and groans and the luxury of continued employment. These are good things. I am not in a danger area. The weight I gained before getting clean again in February has been coming off and I am doing the work that keeps me sane and accountable for my food and actions.

Over the last two years I stored up about fifty posts: posts on subjects I had ideas about and posts for when I wanted to post but didn't have something timely to say. I was reading through them and I realized they are all pretty serious. Some are downright depressing. They are not happy and for today I insist on a happier blogging home.

I decided to trash some, re-write some and post the others occasionally when I want to fill in. I will post them with the disclaimer:

Written when I was depressed and unaware. The attitude represented in this post is not current in me today but the topic has some value so I am posting it anyway."
I hope you had a happy holiday. I decided not to weigh in until tomorrow. I figured if I didn't like the number on the scale I did not want it affecting my mood over the holiday weekend and if I did like the number on the scale I didn't want it affecting my food choices over the holiday weekend.

Then I received a great blessing. My husband did not ask for, expect or want anything particular to the holiday. No barbecue, no hot dogs, no chips, no potato salad, no ice cream - nothing. He ate as I did without suggesting anything else or asking what I planned to make on any given day. That was a gift. I didn't have to consider any food other that what I was planning to eat.

Someone in our neighborhood decided to set off a Disney-sized massive fireworks display. We went outside to our backyard for 15 minutes to watch it.

I got 32 bug bites, minor smoke inhalation and I am possibly deaf from the booms - but I am free of the obsession to overeat for another day so Happy Independence Day to me!