Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bumps and Blessings

The Best Laid Plans

A while back, I posted details about my well laid blogging plans, how I would follow a schedule and blog regularly from here on out.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans... they go awry.

Bumps in the road.

So, my well laid plans for blogging hit some bumps in the road a few weeks back. First, I experienced a few days without internet access, and after that, I was caught in a procrastination loop, finally I was delayed even more from blogging because of a wonderful blessing to my family.

Internet Issues

So first, the internet problem. I have absolutely no idea what caused it, but I was without internet at my house for several days just after my last blog post. When it finally started working again, I found myself caught in that procrastination loop.

Procrastination loop.

What is a procrastination loop, you ask?

Its when you know that you really should something you dread before you do something else that is optional, but that you want to do. So you tell yourself you will not do that optional thing until you do the dreaded thing, but then you procrastinating the dreaded thing, and therefore don't get either thing done.

For me the loop I was caught in revolved around taxes.

For a business owner in Washington state, there are two different major categories of tax to be concerned with. The first is the excise taxes for businesses. This is a catchall phrase that encompasses the sales tax you collect from people when your business sells things at retail, plus the use taxes that are levied against out of state sales, plus the business and occupations taxes that are collected by your state and some counties. After the excise taxes, comes the income tax, which is the same income tax that everyone pays, the only difference for business owners is that we can deduct business expenses from our income total, which of course is only fair, since if I spend $50 manufacturing something, and then sell it for $70, I shouldn't have to pay income tax on $70, but only on my profit of $20.

The procrastination loop I spent time spinning around in was my excise taxes for business. I knew I needed to get those forms filed, but I was dragging my feet on all of the calculations I needed to do. The forms should have been in my January 30th, but circumstances I couldn't change had delayed them until after that date. That meant I was already going to be fined 9%, the next deadline was February 28th, after which the penalty jumped to 19%. I told myself that I shouldn't spend time blogging until after I completed the forms, but kept on putting off the paperwork.

The deadline I was now facing was February 28th, so obviously I did NOTHING until February 28th, and then spent several hours that day online and on the phone with the department of revenue completing my online forms. Finally the forms were done, and my family could file the income tax forms next. Those were done within days, since we actually pay someone to prepare those for us.

Then the waiting..

So, by March 2nd, I really was free to go ahead and blog, but I was out of the habit, not only that, but I was very distracted by waiting for a blessing I knew would come any day. That blessing was my first grandson, who, like my tax forms, was due on February 28th. Each day the whole family waited, expecting a call that it was time, and each day as we went to bed we were still waiting.

The Blessing on its Way

Finally, of March 6th, early in the morning the call came. I went to my daughter's house to pick up my granddaughter, so that my daughter and son in law could focus on getting my daughter through early labor at home, without having to worry about taking care of their first child.

More Bumps

My grandson was on his way, but there were more bumps in road also.

Inconsistent labor

My daughter's labor was pretty normal at first, though it was a bit inconsistent. Her contractions weren't following a regular pattern, so they stayed home timing them and waiting.

Intense labor

Then around 1:30 in the afternoon, her water broke so they headed to the hospital. After her water broke labor got very intense very fast, she was contracting with barely a break in between, and the contractions were very strong.

Baby struggling.

As soon as they got to hospital, the doctors realized that baby wasn't handling these intense contractions well. My daughter was dilated to a 6 when she arrived, and had managed to progress almost to an eight, but still not enough to start pushing. Yet with every contraction the baby's heart beat dropped drastically. The doctors felt that if they waited, the baby not might survive. So they took my daughter in for an emergency c-section. I arrived at the hospital just in enough time to see my daughter rushed by on a gurney. Now, the hospital we were at normally leaves a woman in the same room for the entire labor and delivery, so the fact that they were moving her was an obvious sign of trouble, but at that time I didn't know what the trouble was, I did deduce that she was probably having a c-section, but didn't get confirmation on that until my son-in-law came by all gowned up. I asked him what was up and he gave a quick summary before rushing off.

The Blessing Arrives.

A few minutes later, the baby was out, and thankfully was fine.

The umbilical cord had been wrapped around his shoulder, and was both holding him back, keeping him from descending and pushing against the cervix, and at the same time the cord was being pinched between the baby's shoulder and the pelvic bones with every contraction. Later the doctor confirmed that without a c-section a live birth wouldn't have happened.

 I am so thankful that we live in a day and age where the medical technology exists that can avert such tragedy. Because of the access we had to medical care, my daughter and my grandson are both healthy and doing great. Because we have access to this kind of medicine, what could have been a disaster turned into a minor bump in the road to great blessing.

I am so thankful.


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Monday, February 6, 2017

One Week Back on Track

First week of eating healthy

So its been one week since I've gotten back on track with healthy eating.  I've had several false starts, but I believe that this time I am really ready to get serious.  Finding out about my high blood pressure was a wake up call, especially since another health problem I have calls for taking medication that can raise blood pressure.  Its vital that I do everything I can do minimize my health risks.  

A few things have come to my attention since since getting back on track, most of these were things I *knew* at one time, but that I had kind of forgotten in the couple of years that I've been off track with my eating habits.

First, healthy food actually tastes good.

Eating healthy tastes pretty good, I get to eat fruit and vegetables, which I love.  I cook chicken and rather than breading it and frying it in heavy grease I simply smother it with herbs, spices, garlic, and onion powder.  I find that one of my favorite spice mixtures is "Perfect Pinch, Salt Free Garlic and Herb Seasoning." I'm not being paid to say that, I just find that I really do like it.  I sprinkle it on chicken, pork chops, my egg substitute omelets... so far I haven't really missed salt because of this.

Second, healthy food is a bit of a hassle.

No longer can I just jump in the car and head off for the day without any planning, no... instead I have to cook up some food to pack with me if I'm going to be out all day.  This is new, before even when I was on track, I didn't have to worry so much about salt, so I could grab a diet TV dinner.  Now I have to watch all packaged foods.  If I have a cheese sandwich I can't also canned soup, because the two together are too much salt.  I'm going to have to get creative to come up with some ideas of meals to take with me.

Third, temptations are everywhere.

Especially now that I am watching sodium.  My husband asks if I want this or that for dinner and I can't just say yes, I have to check the sodium content, and also see how much I've already had for the day... before I can say yes or no.  Also, as I noted above, I have to make sure not to combine two higher sodium foods in the same meal.  Its a little difficult at times, but so far I've been doing pretty well.

Fourth, this is doable.

This week's stats

Yes, at times it is difficult, but it is doable, and its pretty important that I stick with it.
Here are some charts that show how I did this week. 

Calories total and net

 First as far as calories.  My total calories for the week are shown with the following graph, my average total calories for each day this week were 1449.  The graph also shows a breakdown of what time slots each day I took in various amounts of calories.

This graph shows total calories consumed each day
and also breaks it down into meals.
This next graph shows my net calories per day.  Net calories is something that My Fitness pal does. Lets say my calorie goal for the day is 1900, but also work out more today than usual, and I burn an additional 400 calories, now My Fitness Pal will add 400 calories to my goal, so my total allowed calories would be 2,300, but if I eat those 2,300 calories, my net calories are still just 1900 for the day.  Sometimes, if I sit around too much, my fitness tracker sends the info to My Fitness Pal and My Fitness Pal takes away from how many calories I'm allowed, but usually that is not the case.

So net calories are basically: Total Calories - calories burned in exercise. Here is a graph that shows my net calories for the week.  From the chart you can see that I stayed under my goal all week.
Net Calories = total calories - calories burned through exercise.


Of course there's more to healthy eating than just calories.  As for nutrients, here are my averages this week, I am glad to see that I kept my sodium, fat, and carbohydrates under the allowance, I also got more than I needed of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and Calcium.


Lastly I also stayed pretty close to the recommended goals for what percentage of calories come from each main group of macro-nutrients.


I didn't do a whole lot of exercise this week.  I did go for a 30 minute walk 4 days of the week, I know I still need to increase that, but I am going slowly at it, concentrating on getting my eating under control first.

Results of week one.

So you've seen how I've done as far as my eating habits, but what, if any, results have I seen so far?


Last Monday my weight was 284.4, this morning I weighed in at 276.4, so I lost 8 pounds this week.

Blood Pressure:

My blood pressure fluctuates from day to day, but overall I am starting to see a downward trend.  I took my blood pressure all but one day this past week, and here are the numbers:
January 30th - 164/104
January 31 - 166/102
February 1 - 156/100
February 2 - 158/99
February 3 - 140/101
February 5 - 133/97
February 6 137/96 

So in one week of healthy eating my Systolic BP has come down 27 mmHg,  and my diastolic BP has come down 8 mmHg.

I'm not going to post waist measurements, body-fat percentages, BMI and all of that every week, I think once per month will be enough for that.  Its my blood pressure that I am most concerned with, and I'm aiming to get it down.  My first goal is to get it under 140/90, but then I hope to get it lower, as close to 120/60 as I can.


Check out my artwork!

Monday, January 30, 2017

It's All About the Numbers

It really is all about the numbers

You'll often hear people talking about health and weight loss say that its not just about the number, and they mean the number on the scale.  Of course they're right, its not just about that one number.  However, it really does come down to numbers. Age, height, weight, measurements, body fat percentage, BMI, blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, minutes of exercise per day, days of exercise each week, steps taken per day, minutes spent sitting as opposed to moving, calories in verses calories out, weight that can be lifted... all of those numbers combined actually do present a pretty clear picture of a person's health. 

I've decided I need to start tracking those numbers

Well, I won't be tracking all of them, for example, I don't yet know my cholesterol levels. I do know some of those numbers, and I really do need to track them.  So I'm going to check in with stats at least once a week, each Monday.

Today's health stats:

These first three I won't update every week, since obviously they won't be changing often, or in the case of gender, at all!
Age: 48
Gender: Female
Height: 5 feet 6 1/2 inches


284.4 pounds this is obviously too high, and I need to get serious about bringing it down for my health.


45 inches


16.5 inches


54 inches


48.3 %



Blood Pressure:

164/104, this is unusually high for me, probably because I ate a lot of sodium yesterday, I'll be tracking once a week though so we'll start to see what it averages to.  If this is my usual number I now have stage 2 hypertension.

Heart Rate:

71 bpm... not really a true resting heart rate, but still, what it was I took my blood pressure this morning.

Action Plan

I am tracking my calories at Myfitnesspal, I need to track them consistently and stop making excuses for not doing so.  My goal net calorie range is 1930, which should allow for a 1 pound per week loss.  For now I plan to exercise at least 4 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. At first that will just be walking, but I will start to add other things back in very soon.

I have a Garmin Vivofit 2, and I am also going to be trying to pay attention to the move bar on that to avoid sitting too long, I am also aiming to slowly increase my steps per day to 10000, however I am not going to try to accomplish that over night, instead I'll let the vivofit set my daily goals based on the day before, and try to increase that slowly.


Check out my artwork!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking back over 2016, and Planning for 2017

Looking Back over 2016

For Me 2016 was a Pretty Good Year

I know that 2016 was a tumultuous year for many in the U.S.A. and was a controversial one politically.  However, on a personal level, and an artistic level, it was a pretty good year for me. I have continued taking part in ArtSLAM studio, and have taught a lot of painting classes there, I've also taught one class off site, on my own.  The sales of my art has increased considerably, both because of ArtSLAM and because of implementing good SEO strategies for my Etsy Shop.  Now, I don't yet know if my art income has been greater than my expenditure for the year, but I believe there is a pretty good chance that it has been, and if so, it will have been the first time since I started trying to sell me art.  Even if I didn't actually profit, I know that at the very least, my losses will be far less this year than ever before, but I do believe that I actually profited a little. On a personal level, circumstances that some would see as negative have actually allowed me to grow much closer to my granddaughter than would have normally been possible, so I see it as a positive thing.  

There's Always Room for Improvement

All in all its been a pretty good year.  Of course though, there are some areas that could have been better. In the area of my health, I just haven't been diligent in eating healthy and exercising, so I've regained weight that I had previously lost. Along with the weight regain, problems with my ankles and feet have started resurfacing.  In addition to that I injured my right arm quite unexpectedly, when all I was doing was tuning a radio!  I reached out, tuned the radio, and then, as I was pulling my arm back to my lap, I heard a pop and felt intense pain in my elbow.  My arm hasn't been the same since, and according to my chiropractor/physical therapist, I have tennis elbow.  With the exercises he gave me for it, it has gotten considerably better, but I still can't straighten my arm fully, and its been over six months since I injured it.  Most of the time it doesn't bother me, but if I have to lift something heavy, or extend my arm too far, it hurts. Also, if I paint for hours, like I used to, it starts to ache.  As long as I take breaks and stretch the elbow now and then, and as long as I don't try to lift anything with an extended arm, its okay though. Financially, my family really hasn't kept a budget, also we had to have our roof replaced, and we need a new septic system.  So our debt is growing. As for the business side of my art, while I've done much better with my etsy shop and with finding ways to earn, I need to get better about keeping my books as I go, so I don't have to do it all at year-end.  I also really need to do a better job of keeping up my website and blogs.  I also have a lot of new art that has never been uploaded to either site.  

Planning Ahead for 2017

Goals for 2017

Well, enough looking back. Now for the planning forward part of this post! My goals for 2017 are pretty straight forward responses to the issues I noted above.
  1. I want to eat healthier and exercise regularly. To that end I plan to once again begin logging my food on MyFitnessPal starting on January 3rd. I've already started walking more regularly because I've started walking a dog for pay.  In addition I am going to start slowly adding more walks by walking my own dogs.  I'm adding those additional walks slowly because of the problems with my feet and ankles, and because my dogs, especially my elderly dog Spunky, are out of shape and need to  slowly work up to regular exercise.
  2. I want my family to start figuring out a budget to implement, to that end, starting today I'm keeping track of what we spend at the grocery stores, for gasoline, at other stores, and online.  That way, we can figure out a starting point, and start trying to make improvements.  My goal is to have a budget on paper or computer ready to implement by March.  That doesn't mean we won't do anything until March, for January and February we are tracking, so we can figure out where we stand and which areas we might be able to cut back on.
  3. I want to continue fine-tuning my etsy shop SEO, and I want to get my newer art works uploaded to both my website and my Etsy shop.  To that end I am going to try to check each week to see if I need to make any changes to existing listings, or to add a listing.  One or two listings a day, either uploading a new one or fine tuning and existing one, and just be consistent in doing something with it at least two times each week.
  4. I want to start keeping my blogs up.  Especially the blog attached to my art website, but also my personal blog. To that end I want to begin posting on each of my blogs at least once a week.

The Ultimate Blog Challenge

To kick off this blogging year, I have once again joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  For the next 31 days, I will post something every day.  Now, most of the time it will be on my art blog, but I may occasionally post on one of other two blogs instead,which are my personal and weight loss blog, and my devotional blog.


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Monday, August 1, 2016

I've Been off Track Again

Health Goals: Consistency is the Challenge

No matter method what you use, consistency is key.

When it comes to developing habits consistent with the goal of weight loss, consistency is the real challenge. Whatever method you choose to approach weight loss or health goals, whether its just generally "eating healthier", or counting calories, or avoiding carbohydrates, or going vegan... whatever approach you take, it doesn't work if you don't do it consistently.

Consistency is hard, but habit is easy.

Its hard to be consistent with something that doesn't just come naturally to you.  I mean, it is natural for me to want to shower every day, I've done it daily for so many years that I don't even feel awake until I've done it. So being consistent with that is easy for me.  Its as natural to me as looking for something to eat when I'm hungry, or putting on a sweater if I'm cold.  There is no question that if it is at all possible I'm going to do it.  I mean, I might skip it if the pump to our well breaks down or something, but I never just skip it because I forgot or because I didn't feel like it.

But when it comes to things that aren't just second nature habits... remembering to do them is hard.
Even when I remember, disciplining myself to do do them when I don't feel like it is hard.
Taking the necessary steps such as measuring food, cooking healthy meals instead of stopping for pizza, recording things on sparkpeople, can be hard at times, but most of the time the actual steps are not the problem, its just remembering and being determined to do them.

Developing consistency, making it a habit

What I need to do is to develop these things as a habit that I just do... like taking a shower. Just like with showering, there may be times when circumstances force me to not act on my regular habit, but whenever it is humanly possible, these things should just be automatic. I need to do them long enough to make them habit.

To that end, I am keeping a habit tracker.  I started one last month, but I think I was trying to develop too many habits at once and got kind of discouraged.  So I've paired down my habit tracker considerably for this month.

Some things like Bible reading and prayer, will always be on my habit tracker.  Other things may be dropped once they are established to the point of being second nature.

For the month of August, my habit tracker looks like this:

As you can see, the main habits I'm focusing on in regards to physical health is to walk every day, track my calories each day, and stay in my calorie range at least most of the days.  I am putting priority on the walking and the tracking calories for now, because I want to hold myself accountable to track even if I am going over.  Even if I am guessing at calories at a restaurant or something, I want to enter something into sparkpeople that shows what and about how much I ate.  Lets say I am eating sweet and sour pork at a Chinese restaurant.  I may not know exactly how many calories, but I can find an entry online for sweet and sour pork, and enter those calories... knowing that I'm going to be closer that way than if I just didn't track at all, which usually results in me eating more, and unhealthier choices for the rest of the day.

I think I'll also add, "weigh in on Mondays" to my habit tracker.

Not all my desired habits relate to physical health

Other things on my habit tracker are daily habits I need to develop for other purposes.  Such as Bible reading and prayer, which relates to my spiritual and mental health.  Cleaning and organizing for one hour a day at least most days is just a personal goal I want to work on to help bring order to my life. Some are business goals like tending my etsy shop, which means updating listings that need better tags, adding new listings when appropriate, renewing listings when appropriate, deactivating listings that sell at the art co-op, or that are seasonal and their season is past for the year. Other business related goals are things like updating my art blog at least twice a week, to keep the site active and give people something to see when they land on my page.  I also have a goal to update this blog weekly, probably most often will be on Mondays. 

Now on the habit tracker, for daily goals I color in a square when I finish a goal, for a goal that happens only once or twice a week, I will mark off 7 day increments (like I did above for the blogs), then on the days I do those things, I will color in that square.  At the end of the seven days I will draw an "x" through the days that were not "required" on my goal.  If I didn't do the required days however, I don't get to "x out" any days on those seven, because the goal wasn't met.  A row of colored in or x'd squares shows a goal met, while blank squares at the end show a habit that needs a lot more attention to develop. 

My current weight

In keeping with my goal of weighing in and blogging on here once a week, I wrote this bog, and I also weighed in this morning at 278.4 lbs, hopefully by next Monday that number will a bit lower.  


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Friday, July 8, 2016

A Great New (or is it old?) Way to Stay on Track

What is the system?

In my last post I hinted about a system that was really helping me to keep on track, not just with diet and exercise, but in all areas of my life.  Since starting this system my productivity has grown exponentially.  So What is this wonderful system?  Is it some fancy new high tech app that orders my days for me?  Is it an alarm going off prompting me to start the next activity?  Well, actually, no.

The Bullet Journal System

What I've been doing isn't really new, and it certainly isn't high tech.  At its heart it consists of a notebook, or journal, and a pen.

It is basically building your own planner / journal, so that it meets your needs exactly.  With it you can track future events so you don't forget them, have a list of tasks to do each day, and an easy system to move tasks that don't get done to the next day so that you can give them another go.

I'm still using Sparkpeople to track my calories, but I track whether or not I actually used sparkpeople in the bullet journal on a page called a habit tracker.

Now, I've only been using this system a few days, but I've accomplished more in the past few days than in the month previous!

Since I'm so new to Bullet Journaling, I certainly can't claim any expertise in the system.  I made a few mistakes and laid things out differently than I should have, but the system is flexible enough to go with those errors, and still work.

If you'd like a basic intro to bullet journaling, I recommend you go to the original source of the system first, and then look at how others have customized it to fit their own needs.  It can be adapted and changed endlessly, with all kinds of artistic flair added, but its probably good to go to the original idea and get the basics first.  To do that, watch the following video from the creator of the system:

Now, from here you can google "Bullet Journal" and get all kinds of awesome ideas.

For me, after I do each daily spread, I do a short, or sometimes a long, evaluation of how the day went, what were my mistakes in using the system?  Did I stick to my plan?  Did I assign myself too many, not enough, or just the right amount of tasks?  Overall how did the day go?

Just to give you an idea of how my productivity has increased, here is today's evaluation, and the start of tomorrows task list, if you read my evaluation you can see that I really got a lot done today, including walking over 4.4 miles!


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I'm Still Here

I haven't posted as regularly as I should have, but I'm still here and haven't given up.  I did have a few off days, but I'm back on track now, and the damage was minimal.

I have come across a system that really seems to be keeping me on track, not just in my eating habits and exercise, but in other areas as well.  I will post more about that soon.

Check out my artwork!