Trying Noom to lose weight

I set out today to write an update on my experience with Noom, the health app designed by behavioral psychologists to help you lose weight for the long run. Then as I was looking back at my posts, I realized I have never written about my decision to try Noom.

Between 2013 and 2016, I have lost weight by counting calories. This method does work. I am proof of that. But it never failed that I would gain the weight back as soon as I resumed eating normally and not watching my calorie intake.

This is where Noom comes into play. Yes, Noom has you reducing and counting calories, but they focus on making tangible, sustainable lifestyle shifts. On this diet, there is no food that you cannot eat. You are not cutting carbs or fats or anything.

Instead, you learn about portion control, calorie dense foods, and your eating triggers (boredom, stress eating, clock-based meals). The hope is that you learn to CHANGE your behavior so that when you reach your goal weight, you maintain the new behaviors and keep the weight off.

In January of this year, I weighed myself and was not happy with the number. I had slowly been noticing my mid-section getting pudgy. Really, that wasn’t surprising. I am in my forties, and my metabolism is slowing down. (Not to mention I have had 2 kids.)

So through April, I did nothing. I wanted to start exercising but didn’t. I dreaded counting calories as I enjoyed eating the way I was. I mean doesn’t everyone want to lose weight with no work and no food restrictions?

Finally, in May, I decided to do something. I had seen ads for Noom and was intrigued with the promise to change your behaviors so that you didn’t gain the weight back.

On the site, you enter in your information (weight, age, activity level) and your goal weight. A custom plan is developed. You can try out the plan for $1 for the first two weeks. After that they will charge you a fee on a regular basis. For my plan, after I entered a coupon code (always look for a coupon code before purchasing anything online), it was $62 for a two-month membership. And two months is all they said it would take to meet my goal of losing 18 lbs. Before the trial date, you can cancel. And if you don’t want to continue after the first two months, you just cancel before the renewal date by sending a message to your coach.

I did the daily weigh-ins and counted my calories. But it goes beyond cutting calories. They care where the calories come from. You are encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables while restricting processed foods, red meats, high-calorie condiments and snacks. The app even counts your steps as they encourage you to aim for 10,000 steps a day. Of course, it only works if I carry my phone everywhere with me.

In the first 2 weeks, I lost 2 1/2 lbs. I found the app easy to use, and the daily articles were interesting. I am not too thrilled with my personal coach or with the support group I was assigned. But I decided to stick with it. And now after 12 weeks, I finally received my goal weight.

I will continue using the app for the rest of my paid subscription, and then I’ll cancel it. Now will this time be different? Will I maintain my weight and not gain it all back as I’ve done in the past? Well, only time will tell, but I feel pretty good about it.

An Arcade-themed breakroom

Last week, I wrote about my husband’s new office and covered some of the decorations that are not found in a typical law firm. The one area that I didn’t cover was the break room.

If you read last week’s post, you know that we tend to decorate with things we like – Batman, Avengers, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. We even put photos of roller coasters in one of the spare offices. So, what to do with the break room…

We went with an 80s arcade theme.

The main attraction of the room is an arcade machine we bought that has 400 arcade games from the 80s. We needed something to put it on and planned to build a simple shelf. But on a trip to Home Depot, we saw these glass bricks on clearance and that simple shelf turned into this.

Surrounding our arcade machine is 3 metal posters from Displate. It is pretty cool that they are put up with magnets so no additional holes in the wall.

My husband also wanted a dart board. I bought this electronic version with safety darts on Amazon. We did have to have electrical outlets run for both the arcade game and the dart board. Next to the dart board is a pinball print I found on Etsy.

Also from Etsy, I found these metal signs of old video games and these Rubik Cube/Pacman creations. They were quite delicate as my husband broke one the first time he tried to pick it up, but luckily the vendor sent a few extra Rubik Cubes, so we were able to repair it. He then put a clear coat on them to hopefully secure them together better, but I am betting if they ever fall off the wall they will be in a million pieces.

Leading into the break room, we hung this lighted arcade sign that I found on Amazon. It runs on batteries.

For the counter, we have this Space Invaders canvas container to hold snacks, and I decorated an apothecary jar for their Sweet&Low.

The employees love the room. Now the only issue is making sure they don’t spend too much time playing in the break room rather than working.

 

Moving means more nontraditional decorations for my husband’s law firm

Last year, I wrote about my husband’s law office, and the non-traditional decorations (at least for a law firm). At the time he had seven employees and we thought he would be in that new expanded office for quite a while.

Well by April of this year, he had added two additional employees and was busting at the seams in his 8-room office. He had to get a bigger place. Luckily, his landlord had another nearby property and was willing to customize it to fit his needs. In June, he moved into a place with 11 offices, a break room, a conference room and a reception area.

We let each employee (except the receptionist) decorate their own office according to their own tastes (with the restriction of nothing nude or vulgar). But the rest of the place is up to my husband and I to decorate. We brought over all the items from the previous place, but with more walls, we had to buy (and still need to buy) more pictures.

Reception

There are two reception areas. The outer one will be shared by a neighbor and has furnishings provided by the landlord. There were no pictures on the wall or knickknacks on the tables. I took care of that with a trip to the At Home America store. I bought two pictures which worked with the mirror we had from the outer entry area of his last office. I still need a few more items for the tables, but it is already looking better.

Now once you enter his office, there is another reception area with his receptionist’s desk and two visitor chairs. On the back wall, we hung the law office sign we made a few years ago. We have also ordered two pictures of lady justices for one of the walls and are still trying to decide what goes on the other wall.

But it is the wall across from the receptionist that will garner the most attention. It is our movie clock wall.

Yes, these are vinyl clocks featuring different movies. There are 22 of them!

Superhero Hallway

In the old office, there was an Avenger hallway and a Batman hallway. Well, with this new office we have one long hallway. We started off with Batman.

Then right after the hall to break room, we move into the Avenger’s section. Again, we had to buy more prints from Etsy to fill in this longer wall. (Added four new prints for a total of 12.) And we still have our metal Avenger’s logo.

Conference Room

Our Indiana Jones themed conference room made the move with us, but the room got much bigger. We had to replace the 8-foot conference table with a 12 foot one. We have also added a few more display cases that will be filled with memorabilia and 3-D printed artifacts inspired from Indiana Jones movies.

Now there are two areas I haven’t covered. One is the hallway leading to my husband’s office which includes an open area by the employee entrance. I have suggested a Star Wars theme (like his office) but we haven’t gotten around to working on this one yet.

And the other room is the employee break room. On the hallway to this room, we have all the past firm group pictures. (No traditional, stuffy photos here.) On the opposite wall, I have an idea to put up a Scrabble tile display with all the employee names, but first I must convince my husband how cool this will look. As for the break room, we have a good plan for this and once it is done (hopefully by next week) I will share you the fun theme we picked for it.

No baby fever here

Ah, baby fever – the intense desire some women (and men) get to have a baby.

Some people may never feel this. Some parents have one baby and know they are done. Others have two, three, four or more kids and can never seem to shake that desire to have one more. And that desire is often fueled by seeing other women with their newborns.

I know quite a few moms that hold someone else’s newborn (or even just attend a baby shower) and get that wishful look on their face even if they know they are done having babies.

Nope. Not me.

For the longest time, I didn’t want to have children. I think the fear of childbirth was a major put off. But after we decided to have a baby and Jase came along, I knew that I would want one more. I grew up with a sibling and couldn’t imagine Jase not having one.

That led us to having Lexie almost 3 years later. But after I had her, I never again suffered from baby fever.

I see a newborn and can think they are cute, but in no way do I want one. While there are things I liked about being pregnant such as the first flutter movements of the baby, I didn’t relish the big belly or recovering from a c-section. And then there are the newborn days – the constant demands and sleepless nights. Yes, there are those great milestones and cute baby gurgles and giggles but nope, I am done with that stage of my life and have no regrets about that.

This topic came up between my husband and I last week when we went to a going away party for one of his employees. The employee’s wife had a baby in May, and they are now moving back to California to be close to family.

Of course, everyone gathered around the baby, gushing as one does with new babies. And you could see it, that look of desire, on a couple of the women’s faces. They miss their kids at this stage. And they want another one.

But while I think the baby was cute, I don’t envy the parents in that all-consuming baby stage of parenting. No more diapers or diaper bags for me. I am glad to be done with that stage.

Jase and Lexie are now 14 and 11. I like that you can have conversations with them and that they don’t need constant care. I like that we can leave them at home which allows my husband and I some alone time to go out to dinner or run to the store.

So, when I see baby, I don’t mind making the appropriate remarks on how cute he or she is. I actually do like going shopping for baby items and just recently began making some special onesies for the employee’s new baby. But want one again?

No way. I’d rather be the veteran mom who hands out advice as well as handing back the baby to its mother to resume enjoying my snack (uninterrupted) while watching funny videos and planning our next vacation.

Summer break when you are PTA president

Volunteering at my kids’ school keeps me busy during the school year. With summer here, you think I would get a break from the PTA. And you would be wrong.

As president of the PTA, the work doesn’t stop when the school year does. School ends at the beginning of June, and it is never too early to start planning for the next school year. In fact, I met with the school principal three weeks ago to plan out the beginning of the school year activities.

But before I can really focus on next school year, I had to wrap up this year. That means for one PTA, I had to get files uploaded onto our Google Drive so committee chairs can access those files next year. I won’t be back to this PTA so most of my work ended there.

For the PTA at the middle school, I had even more to do. I was Treasurer last school year so there was checks and financial records to get in order for the financial reconciliation committee and there was also closing out the books for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Now that I have last school year all taken care of, I am down to one PTA job – PTA president at the middle school. It is 6 weeks until school starts, and there is much to do.

The biggest chore is preparing for our silent auction, which happens in September at our first PTA meeting. Usually, this would mostly be handled by our 2nd vice president, but we don’t one. That means that the board – or at least the other officers – needs to pull together and solicit donations.

I am not one ask for donations in person, but I have no problem contacting places online. The hard thing is that every company is different. Some want at least 90 days’ notice while others won’t consider anything more than 30 days out. Some have forms to fill out or require a letter while others you merely email your request. Some get back to you to pick up a donation while others might just mail something to the school. And most – since they receive so many requests – do not respond at all.

I have contacted about 25 places so far and have heard back and received donations for 6 of them. I picked up 2 donations last week. And there will be more places to contact this week.

There will also be files and flyers to update – especially those that go out in the Welcome packet. And I need to touch base with committees that need to be working on projects that will happen at the beginning of the year such as 8th grade t-shirt sales.

So, all this means that even though school has been out for four weeks, I haven’t had a break from PTA work. And while there will be days, I don’t have to do anything, I will have PTA projects to keep me busy through the middle of August. And then there will be back to school activities and the start of school. Then the PTA will continue to keep me busy for the rest of the school year.

Dealing with bugs and other critters in the house

When you have cats and a pet door, you can expect your cats to bring you “gifts.” Yes, thank you. I see you caught a gecko, but kindly take it back outside. I don’t want it in my house! (The cat rarely obliges.)

Typically, I can deal with a lot of things they bring in. And no, I am not picking up any of these things with my hands! (More power to you if you can do that.)

Live birds – Close the blinds, open the front (or back) door and using a broom to get them to fly and hope they go out the open door. This is sometimes hard when they get to the second story of the house and always gravitate to the window that doesn’t have blinds.

Live Snakes – Usually not a problem as again, you open the door and guide them to the outside.

Live Geckos – These are a little harder as they don’t take direction well, so usually the broom is out unless they are already near the door. If I can get them to climb on the dustpan, I carry them outside.

Live Mice/Rat – We live near a greenbelt/wilderness area so occasionally they bring in a rodent. Again, chasing it out the door is a good option, but often it hides too well, and I am left hoping the cats catch and kill it. (Or occasionally my husband has had luck catching them under a plastic bin and then transporting them outside.)

As you see from above, most of my methods involve not killing the creatures my cats bring in. I simply release that creature out into the wild again. If I find one of the creatures above dead in the house, I usually can it onto the dustpan and can carry it to the outside trash can.

But one thing I don’t handle well is bugs. Sometimes they are brought in by the animals but sometimes they just sneak in the house as bugs do. I know there are people who say spiders are good as they feed on common indoor pests. I can ignore spiders if they are small or better yet out of sight, but if I find them in my sink, I am washing them down it. But if they are bigger…well, that is another story. I’d freak to find a tarantula inside. I don’t want to get close enough to squish them. Luckily, I don’t encounter too many spiders in my house.

Flies and mosquitoes are easy to kill. But the one insect that drives me crazy and creeps me out is the cockroach. I live in South Texas where these suckers are quite common no matter how clean you keep your house.

Typically, we spray some bug spray around the perimeter of the house, and it keeps the bugs away. But lately, I’ve seen some cockroaches on their backs. You would think they were dead, but these icky creatures are usually aren’t dead…yet. I’m not stepping on them or hitting them with something. That crunch sound drives me crazy and honestly, I don’t want to get that close to them. Typically, I make my husband deal with them.

Then there are the times when he is away, and I have to do something. If they are truly dead, the dustpan trick usually works. But when I notice them still moving slightly, I pull out the bug spray. This sometimes works in killing them or it could turn out like it did the other day. I sprayed the cockroach who was lying on his back in the kitchen. He freaked out, flipped over and scurried under the refrigerator (where I hope he succumbed to the poison.)

Ugh. I feel like such a wuss being scared about picking up these bugs and disposing of them. But I just can’t seem to bring myself to squish the live ones or carry the dead (or dying) ones away. I know many others out there have the same problem and have read their tips of dealing with these bugs, but I still think my best bet is to have my husband take care of the bugs. And I’ll agree to take care of the one thing he hates – snakes.

Trying amniotic membrane for my chronic dry eyes

Last month, I wrote about being diagnosed with chronic dry eyes. I had not realized my eyes were dry or that dry patches had formed on my cornea.

The doctor prescribed a steroid drop and lubricant to see if that would help my eyes. He also suggested using a special warm mask to help produce lipids (the oily substance that moistens the eye). While my eyesight returned to normal over the next week, a close look with the instruments still showed dry patches.

For the next two weeks, I used Xiiadra, another prescription drop to help those with chronic dry eye. It is expensive since my health insurance doesn’t cover it, but I figured it would be worth it. Well due to a misunderstanding, I discontinued the steroid drops and only used Xiidra.

At my next follow up, the doctor saw just a marginal improvement. When he found out I was using just Xiidra, he decided I should do 2 weeks with both prescriptions drops. But after 2 weeks, there wasn’t enough improvement.

This when the doctor suggested we try applying amniotic membrane to my eyes. Amniotic membranes have been used in the healing of burn victims. It promotes wound healing and prevents scar tissue formation. The doctor said it also helped 88% of those with chronic dry eyes.

So, I agreed to try it. They placed a dehydrated membrane on the lower part of each of my eyes and held it in place with my contacts. At first, I could see a fog where the membrane touched my iris but after a few hours that went away. I had the membranes in my eyes for four days, constantly wearing my contacts even when I slept. (That is hard to do when are programmed to take them out every night.)

Last Tuesday, I went back to the doctor to see if there was any improvement. And there was! One eye was 95% better and the other one about 90% better. I had prepared myself that we might have to do the amniotic membrane again as I had read online that it sometimes takes multiple applications for the cornea to be fully healed.

To keep the dry eyes from getting out of hand again I am still on the Xiidra and using Oasis Tears Plus (an over-the-counter lubricant). I go back in the eight weeks to see how my eyes are doing. Here’s hoping I have the dryness under control by then.