I love to read, I also read for a living (thanks Facing North!). So you’d think these reading challenges would be easy.  .  .

Here’s how I’m doing so far in 2016:

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More than anything, I feel healthy when I get enough sleep. That amount has varied over the years, but it’s getting to be a larger number. I get up early, most days, so managing an evening social life has become more difficult as a result. But if I don’t get 7.5 hours of sleep, I really notice it. I can get by on 6 hours for a few days, but the ‘fog’ is perceptible, and coffee required . . . which can lead to restless sleep and not getting enough sleep, needing caffeine to function . . . BAM! vicious circle enacted. No bueno. Some weekends I sleep in and get 9 hours, and that feels great. I do that on vacations as well, I notice.

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Woven into our year of organizing are some very specific projects.

Hang a curtain rod (and curtains) in the guest room. Since there is a lamp post *right* across the street, the light-blocking shade really makes a difference for our guests, but its not so great during the summer months when it also blocks the breeze. So we’ll be hanging a curtain to help the situation.

Paint the hall sideboard. It was a craigslist find from about a decade ago, and is very sturdy. But the top is destroyed (water damage from plants) and it really needs a paint refurbishing. We’re hoping to be able to give it a good sanding and a simple coat or two.

Finish the ‘household binder’ which is awaiting several documents from J and &. This wants a date goal, so I’ll arbitrarily set March 31st and we’ll see how we do.

Paint the ‘dresser’ in the garage. This used to be my main dresser, more than a decade ago. It’s ‘raw’ (natural) wood, and really needs something to protect it from the ravages (ha!) of our garage. Several coats of glossy paint should do the trick (as well as adding a much-needed blast of color). Before we do this, we also need to decide on what color. (And therein lies the trick . . .)

Paint the dresser(s) in the bedroom. We have a kind of crappy little dresser from IKEA that does a good job of being a bedside table. It and the dresser that lives in the main room will both be painted a glossy white to match our woodwork. The room will then have a really nice (and sexy, if I may say) French blue, chocolate brown, glossy white color theme going on, with a change of bedspread from time to time providing ‘pops’ of color and interest. 🙂

Install a screen door for our garage. We wanted to do one for our front door, but the side glass apparently requires a custom mount and I have no confidence the result will look anything other than tacky. So we’re re-focusing on the garage as an option. The option we are looking at is motorized, and really quite nice.

Our guest room and bathroom need a refresher coat of paint. We’ve somehow lost the name of the color of paint we used (darn it) and although we love it, we can’t match it. So all the tiny nicks and scratches that accumulate are starting to get unsightly. It’ll still be a dark green (we love the color), and this time we’ll keep track, and a jar for touch ups.

Speaking of touch-ups, our hall walls have taken quite a beating these last two years. Mostly I blame Leo, who has a weird habit of rubbing against the walls. He’s a very clean animal, but over time the little bit of dirt he does carry around comes of and there is a noticeable ‘line’. Along with the inevitable dings and scratches, we need to do some copious wall repair. I’m hoping it stops short of needing an actual professional.

Our rugs need to be deep cleaned. We’ll need to either hire a service, or rent a machine and go out of town for a day or two while the rugs thoroughly dry.

Our wood floors need a really good re-surfacing. I’m not quite sure what that means. Cleaning, buffing, staining, re-waxing . . . All of the above? I know its not a matter of actually, TRULY, stripping the wood. But I know there’s been damage we want to fix/ clean up before it gets any worse.

Storms Aren’t a Crisis!

Pagan Leadership Anthology

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(These are originally from Bob Harper, Oprah’s weight loss and fitness ‘guy’. Now, whatever you may think about Oprah (and she is a conflicting personality), the woman has literally made a career out of her journey into health. I think Harper is the most realistic of her gurus and his list is sensible.)

1. Drink a large glass of water before every meal.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. Eat protein at every meal.
4. Slash your intake of refined flour and grain.
5. Eat 30-50 grams of fiber each day.
6. Eat apples and berries every single day.
7. Learn to read food labels so you know what you are eating.
8. Stop guessing about portion size and get it right.
9. No more added sweeteners.
10. Get rid of white potatoes.
11. Make one day a week meatless.
12. Get rid of ‘fast’ and fried foods.
13. Eat a real breakfast.
14. Make your own food.
15. Eat at least 10 meals a week at home.
16. Banish high-salt foods.
17. Eat your vegetables.
18. Go to bed hungry.
19. Sleep right.
20. Plan one ‘splurge’ meal a week.

What I will add to this is:
Plan your meals and prep as much as possible in advance. Personally, I make very bad food choices if I don’t have a good breakfast. Also, I can’t eat cereal for breakfast (bad intestinal things happen, although I am neither gluten- or lactose-intolerant). So I take time on Sundays to make my breakfast for the week: baked berry oatmeal,, or baked eggs with veggies in either tortillas or hash browns, or ricotta cheese waffles w/ fruit sauce, crustless veggie quiche, etc. Bringing my breakfast makes a huge difference in how well I do during a day.

Another key is having a variety of snacks. I am a ‘hangry’ person, so getting low blood sugar is a Bad Idea. My office keeps ‘Naked Medley’ snacks — plain nuts and raisins — on hand, and I reach for them if I run out of what I bring from home. From home I try to bring a variety, because that helps me keeps from feeling like I am on a diet. Sardines on whole grain toast are nummy (but you’ve GOT to keep them sealed in a smell-proof container and eat them over two days or your office mates will hate you), guacamole on sliced veg, hard boiled egg with a slice of nut & fruit bread, salmon ‘candy’ (from Vital Choice), apple with peanut butter, fresh fruit, or just the old standby: sliced carrots and celery.

My lunches are usually leftovers from dinner, which makes meal planning very easy and keeps me from being tempted to spend money/ eat excess calories by buying lunch.

So that leaves dinner planning as my complicated weekly task. (And I’ll do another blog post on how I do dinner planning a month at a time, and then I just have to tweak weekly.)

Other smart eating tips I’ve ‘discovered’ over the years are:

  • Drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up. Keep a mug by your sink and do it before/ after you brush your teeth. It’s worth the extra 15 seconds.
  • Eat the highest quality food you can afford, starting with your proteins. (Costco does a really good job of working with organic producers, so join their club and get good prices. They also have organic milk, eggs, and butter.)
  • Eat when you are hungry, not according to the clock.
  • Eat slowly. Put your fork down frequently. Stop eating when you stop feeling hungry, NOT when you are feeling full. It takes a while for your brain to catch up with your stomach so give it that time. You can always get a bit more food.
  • Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter. Eat all of the fruit before it goes bad. (You can always cut it up and freeze it for smoothies. but make a smoothie that week.)
  • Switch to smaller plates: use salad plates instead of dinner plates.
  • Read the label:
    if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, don’t eat the food
    if it has more than 5 ingredients, seriously contemplate whether you want to eat it
    can you create it yourself? if so, would purchasing it truly make your life simpler?

There is no such thing as a ‘diet’ — there are changes to what you eat that suit your lifestyle that will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Since your lifestyle will change, so too will what you eat. It’s a fluid situation, not static — don’t get stuck. Moreover, there are plenty of ‘skinny’ people who are incredibly unhealthy (high cholesterol, diabetic, etc.) Pay attention to your HEALTH, not your weight. Are you fit? Are your numbers (cholesterol, glucose, etc.) good? then you are healthy.