I love Hyperbole and a Half and my favorite post there is “Why I’ll Never Be An Adult.”  I’d try to describe it, but really, you should experience it yourself if you haven’t already.  Go ahead, follow the link.  I’ll wait . . . 

Back now?  Okay, my favorite part of that post is “Clean all the things!” because, dear god, it describes the way I lurch through life.  But now with Re-Fab, not to mention some speed bumps in the highway of my life (one of which, you may remember, was a deer), I need to change things.  Lots of things.  But as I keep telling myself, I must not CHANGE ALL THE THINGS.  At least not all at once.





Because changing all the things is a one-way trip to the fetal-position-of-no-change-at-all.


I’m doing good with the moisturizing, and my feet are coming along beautifully thanks to Vaseline and cheap socks.  My furniture is getting refurbished.  My book is getting done.  These are all good things.  But now comes the important stuff, a better diet and more exercise so I don’t die.



No, no, change a few things.   For example, I know I have to exercise.  I’m not resisting it.  I’m just focusing on food right now which is hard because I hate diets.  And when I started looking at diets for diabetes, it got worse, the recommendations were all over the place except for one basic agreement: No Sugar.  (Reminds me of Jean Kerr who said all diets come down to one thing: No French Fries.)   The problem was that while I was trying to figure all of this out, I had to eat.   I wanted . . . uh . . . peanut butter.  Could I have peanut butter?  Google “peanut butter” and “diabetes.”  YAY! It’s actually good for diabetes.  Peanut butter has now become one of my major food groups.   Yes, but I want peanut butter and jam.  My favorite jam is Simply Fruit.  Google “Simply Fruit” and “diabetes.”  YAY, I can have Simply Fruit.  Of course, I have to spread this stuff on something.  I have whole wheat flat bagels (everybody who’s ever had colon cancer has whole wheat everything), but is it good for diabetics?  Google “whole grain bagels” and “diabetes.”  YAY, the fat kind of bagels are okay so the flat kind are good, too.  I can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made from the same stuff I’ve been eating for years.  I don’t have to CHANGE ALL THE FOOD, I just have to check all the food first.

Really, the only things I’ve found that I’m going to have to give up are sugary stuff and potatoes, since I’ve been a high-fiber bread fanatic for thirty years.   I also see a lot more fish in my future, which is okay, I like fish, (Martha Stewart likes fish, too) but if I start jonesing for sweets, there’s my favorite sugar free chocolate pudding made with skim milk that I’ve been snarfing for years which is high in sodium but good for everything else.  So it turns out that, once I rip the sugar and potatoes out, my diet hasn’t been that bad, it’s just been erratic.  I only have to change some of the things, like watching my sodium intake. (Did the canning companies sign a deal with the salt people because, sweet Jesus, there’s a lot of sodium in canned food.  Oh, you knew that?  Sorry, I’m new here.) Between MyNetDiary  and, I’m figuring out what I need to change, so the net has me covered.  It just takes time.

Which is why I was kicking myself about how far behind I am, lots of self-criticism because I hadn’t moved on from glucose meters and food to exercise, which I know is crucial, and Lani pulled me back from the edge.  She told me that I don’t have to do it all at once.  I can master this stuff in increments.   I should celebrate the changes I’ve already made.  She’s right.  So I will get to exercise, but right now I’m very proud of myself for keeping a food diary for ten whole days and staying on or under the recommended amounts in everything except sodium (because that stuff is everywhere).

CHANGE SOME OF THE THINGS.  Words to live by.

42 thoughts on “Jenny: CHANGE SOME OF THE THINGS

  1. I adore Allie Brosh, and she moved to Oregon last year! She is brilliant, and …. is a dog person!

    I’ve been doing a ReFab as well, with food too. (Mine is about going as raw and fruit/veggie as I can get.) You are doing so well! It IS slow, but it took us a long damn time to get where we are, so it stands to reason that it would take us a while to go the other way.

    Great slogan.

  2. Diane (TT) says:

    I’m so glad that you don’t have to CHANGE ALL THE THINGS! And that you get to keep a lot of the things that you like.

    As for me, I am amazed at how easy it is to get out of bed and exercise in this (latest of many) episode of self-improvement. I was having trouble last year getting out of bed to make it to work – but now I’m routinely waking up before the alarm and putting on my exercise clothes. I think the key is that I’ve made it really easy – I mostly just dance around the living room. No, it’s not going to win any prizes for most efficient calorie burning, but it’s way better than none at all. Which means I can have dessert and not feel bad about it.

    I’ve been using Stevia in the Raw as a partial substitute for sugar, but I don’t think I’ve done any baking with a 100% substitution. I also prefer whole grains to the more refined flour. I just wish I knew what the flour in the medium-sized canister is. Spelt? Whole wheat? I don’t think it’s oats or barley – I usually just whir up the oatmeal to get oat flour and the barley is still in the bag. And I know it’s not the whole-grain cornmeal, because, well, that looks pretty different. Hmph. But whatever that flour is, it worked great in my reduced-fat (1/3) and reduced-sugar (1/2) version of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking recipe for Cinnamon Pumpkin bars.

    There’s a lot of good food out there – good luck finding stuff you love that is also good for you.

  3. Dear Gawd I love and adore Allie Brosh, almost as much as I love and adore you. Jennie meditating in the hot tub had me giggling all day. We quote Clean ALL the Things here quite often, I even have the shirt. But you are right, smaller steps are better and far easier to hold on to. There are those days I say to myself, something is better than nothing, even if it’s a little something.

  4. I’ve never seen that site. Bookmarked!

    My desk is an incredible mess. The only nice spot on it is the small vase of hyacynths. The rest of it is covered. Paper, collage board, more paper, keyboard, highlighters, nail file, leaning tower of paper, bra, dusy covered bottle of vitamins, paper, pens in cup, camera, ipod, phone, haphazard pile of paper, post-its, books, big stack of bills, and helpful sticky reminders like “phone the doctor”, “clean your desk,” “pay the bills,” and “check to see if children are alive.”

    Today I will clean half of my desk (thereby paying the bills) and phone the doctor. Tadaaah.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I think it’s important to congratulate ourselves on the progress we make. Writing, life adjustments, etc. it’s all important to acknowledge with a Snoopy Dance.

  6. JulieB says:

    I <3 Lani.

    My dad would try to quit smoking, quit drinking and start a diet on the same day. He was usually over the whole thing by our next weekend visit. 🙂

    It is hard to think of the time learning a new habit as an investment in the habit itself.

    And, finally, I'm guilty of this too. Especially with the housecleaning, but also with communication. If you look in your email, you may see evidence of that in a very belated thank you note. 😀

  7. Deborah Blake says:

    Yay Jenny! Change is hard. But you’re doing great. I had a horrid diet years ago, and changed it slowly over time. The good news is that these days, I mostly don’t have to think about it, and I don’t feel deprived of high-salt, artificial-additives, white flour and sugar crap, because I actually prefer the healthy stuff. Whew. (And–full disclosure–when I do eat crap, I pay for it by feeling HORRID, which is a good reminder of why I eat the way I do.)

  8. Yep, take things slow. You’re doing great! My mom became diabetic last year, at age 87, so I decided to look closely at my diet. I’d already switched from salt to Mrs. Dash when Mom got high blood pressure fifteen years ago.
    I haven’t missed the salt, but the sugar has been a bit harder for me to do. (‘Cause I’m a little piglet, oink.)I’m making inroads but just not good enough. Yet. So I know what you’re going through. Change is hard. It’s really hard at first, but seriously, after a while you get to taste the true flavors of things when they aren’t swamped with salt and sugar and butter.

  9. Gin says:

    Isn’t there supposed to be a hyperboleandahalf book out soon? I had to print out some of the posts for my talk therapist, because she doesn’t do the internet.

  10. I wish I knew how it was that so many of us can only focus on our “failings” rather than our accomplishments. It sounds like you are doing great and slow changes are better than sweeping changes because they are more likely to stick. Keep up the good work!

  11. I usually think to myself “Change ALL The Things!” and then move directly into fetal position. Now I’m trying to “Change SOME OF The Things.” I was going to change just one thing at a time, but that would take too long. Changing a few at a time, setting up one new actual habit at a time — that’s doable for me.Unfortunately, I chose as my first new habit to do exercise every day and I’m still not managing that, even though I get to start at 5 minutes per time. So my first habit has pushed out from January into February as I work on getting it.

    I’m glad you have Lani to remind you of what you already know. And what you are doing is really hard, so remember to give yourself gold stars or your equivalent for doing any of the new changes.

  12. I agree with Lani, if you start thinking about what you haven’t done yet, or what you NEED to do, you can start feeling pressured and then it’s hard to keep up on the changes you’ve already made.

    You will exercise. I’m confident. You know what you need to do, but you have to start somewhere and you started with diet. When you’ve got that dialed and are feeling like it’s not taking too much concentration then figure out what kind of movement makes you happy.

    Here is me being a horrible warning: When I first started out with the exercise I was really gung ho and did very well on an exercise bike. I couldn’t walk because of a foot problem and the bike didn’t make that injury worse. I got a bike that told me my heart rate and whatnot and I liked it. I could watch TV (It was a quiet bike) and I did it every day for like a year.

    Then I healed from foot surgery and started to feel like I should be doing weight bearing (baring?)(Damn my non-spelling brain!) exercise instead of sitting on my ass while I’m exercising. So I bumped up to the tread mill. Which worked for a while, and was great if I listened to music. But I couldn’t watch TV, it was noisy so I couldn’t do it when the kids were sleeping, or watching TV or whatever. Which limited when I could exercise. And pretty soon I just stopped.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to get my ass back on the bike. I will. But if I hadn’t guilted myself into the treadmill I might still be happily biking everyday instead of doing nada.

    See, I told you I’m a horrible warning. But you are smarter than me, and probably more tenacious so I have faith when you get to exercise you’ll figure out how to incorporate it into your like in a way that works and is fun.

  13. You are doing so great. It is amazing how much salt is in some canned food. When you stop salting your food, you don’t have to read the labels to know it’s there, you can taste it. Campbells canned soups are way too salty tasting for me to eat.
    It’s good to watch how Lani supports you and you support her and Krissie supports…ad infinitum.

  14. Jenny,
    I think you’ll find over time some good, healthy meals that you like that are fine for your blood sugar. And those build the foundation of what you eat now.
    That will take away a lot of the anxiety. You have safe, good food, and you just eat it most of the time.
    There are good, satisfying foods out there that you can have.
    And as you exercise more and lose some weight, find good, safe foods, your body will change and you hopefully won’t have to worry about your blood sugar levels so much.
    Saw my brother this weekend, and his blood sugar levels were awful when he got to the doctor about six weeks ago.
    He said his doctor told him building muscle was the way to get the pancreas to… do whatever it needs to do to lower blood sugar levels. And the doctor’s most basic advice was no white foods, no sugar, no white bread, no white pasta, no potatoes. Working very well for my brother.

  15. Ylva Hedin says:

    You are sooo right! Change some things or just one thing and you realize you can do it!! You are amazing!! Keep up the good work

  16. McB says:

    “… my diet hasn’t been that bad, it’s just been erratic.”

    A few years ago my mom was diagnosed with diabetes, and we have since discovered that her erratic eating habits were a major trigger. Worse, for her, than consuming sweets. Which doesn’t mean that she can eat sweets with impunity, just that she now has to think about it more and strike a better balance. But she was never all that interested in eating regularly and would sometimes go all day without eating and then make a bad choice. It caught up with her.

    So we now keep the fridge and pantry stocked with easily accessible, healthier choice snacks. If she can just grab and eat, she’s much more likely to eat regularly. Which means yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, whole wheat crackers, peanut butter and so forth. Oh, and dill pickles. The strong flavor and crunch are very satisfying. And she makes it a point now to have a late night snack because her numbers were worse first thing in the morning, and that seems to be making a difference.

    And you’ll be happy to know that even light exercise can make a difference. If you can’t yet fit an exercise regime into your schedule, you can at least take a walk around the house, right? That’s something. And when it comes to creating better habits, the smallest something is way better than a whole lot of nothing.

  17. Jessie says:

    Jenny, my brother was just diagnosed with diabetes. He is not the kind of guy you can get to count (Counting he can probably do, its the adding, subtracting and multiplying where he gets in to trouble. Sweet guy but not detail oriented). And basically he was told (1) no refined sugars (2) no potatos, white rice, and white flour. Plus he can eat as much protein as he wants (His doctor recommended he boil eggs and eat them when he wants a snack – as many as he wants) and he was told when he eats meat to eat the fat too(?!). It has been a few months and his numbers have come right down. This is where I got the idea of having rye crisps instead of bread – and not too many of them if I want to keep the carbs down. He eats a lot of soups because his wife can make it up then it is there if he gets hungry. But he doesn’t look up anything – he just stays away from sugars and carbs.

  18. Steff M says:

    Someone once told me it takes 21 days to make something a habit. I have no idea if its true but whenever I change my diet or try to exercise more, it helps me remember to make small changes, one at a time, so I don’t get overwhelmed.

  19. Merry says:

    Back in October, I went on a 30 day sugar fee challenge: nothing sweet except fresh fruit. (No chocolate, wine, pastries, not even dried fruit.) I found myself sautéing onions a lot, to get the caramelized taste. After 30 days, I tried to eat chocolate, and it was gross. All I could taste were all the artificial ingredients. It’s surprising how my tastes changed after only one month.

  20. julianna says:

    It sounds like you’re making great progress on the food front. Once you get into a groove where you have some safe standbys and don’t have to overthink every bite, then you can add more exercise. You’re doing great.

  21. Phyllis says:

    Last fall, after being bloated more than usual all summer and hating the pictures that were taken of me (oh hey, is that my clinically obese aunt? Ah no. Just me again), I decided I would eat right and exercise.

    But I couldn’t do it all at once, so I’ve been eating right. I let tell me how many calories I should have each day to lose 30 pounds in a reasonable amount of time. And yeah, it’s taking me a lot longer, but mostly, on days when I plug my food into fitday (or now I’m trying, which is also free and has its own quirks and drawbacks), I eat fewer than 1500 calories a day.

    And I’ve lost 20 pounds. Still clinically overweight, but closing in on the top of my healthy BMI range.

    I’ve discovered turkey cheddar bratwurst and have it on its own rather than in a bun because it’s the lovely nitrates (yum!) and such that I like the best (along with ketchup).

    I’ve discovered that most of the time, one scoop of super rich chocolate ice cream IS enough. (most of the time).

    I’ve discovered that instead of a disappointing danish at a meeting, I’d rather save those calories for dinnertime and have a beer.

    And I eat a green salad nearly every day to fill myself up.

    I have to be really strict with myself some days and others it’s easier. It helps that I don’t cut anything out completely, so I don’t get crazy with cravings.

    And now I’ve finally started exercising a bit again. Five months into this…

    Change SOME of the things is right.

  22. Jane F says:

    I definitely fall into the “ALL the things” problem. Great job with food- it’s tough!

    A minor (and maybe silly) suggestion for introducing a tiny bit of exercise is to do squats (or lunges) as you brush your teeth. I’ve been trying to do this. I figure, anything is better than nothing and this way my muscles might be stronger when I transition to doing more exercise.

  23. Jane F says:

    ” I’ve discovered that instead of a disappointing danish at a meeting, I’d rather save those calories for dinnertime and have a beer. ”

    So true. But I’m finding it a hard lesson 🙂

  24. Maria says:

    My favorite mantra right now is “Better to be the tortoise than the hare.” Reminds me that slow and steady wins this particular race.

    On the sodium front, the canning people are bad, but at least you can find reduced sodium canned stuff, but deli meat? Oy! And Bread? WT? I am not about to make my own bread because there’s no place for a bread maker and because if I bake it, I’ll eat the whole loaf for a snack which totally negates the purpose. I am now at lots of tuna but then I have to worry about the mercury levels because I have two cats and the light tuna is simply too close to their food for me to eat it – ever.

    “Be the tortoise!”

  25. Lulu says:

    Good on ya, Jenny with Changing Some of The Things. I had a meltdown yesterday because I hadn’t Fixed Everything in the catastrophic mess that is our house. But today when I donated those 2 bags, one box and a big picture off at the thrift store, I realized that I had made significant progress on getting the junk out. And the truck is full of the cardboard and other recycling that was piling up…so, we’re still a Mess but there’s progress — in a good direction.

    As for the diet thing, I was blindsided by the amount of sodium in cottage cheese, fer crying out loud. Right up there with canned soup. Boooo.

  26. Cielkaye says:

    Sweet potatoes, jerusalem artichokes and some small waxy potatoes are low GI so are good to go.

    And you are so right about tackling things slowly and one at a time. And you are getting your book done so that will surely cut down the stress and send you off to the sweet stuff.

  27. Courtney says:

    Thanks so much for the link to the “clean all the things” post. I’d been trying to explain that internet meme to my hubby for ages.

    Great job on “changing some of the things.” You go!

  28. Carrie Trimble says:

    If you’ve never been to Hyperbole and a Half, you’d best set aside a full day to catch up. Once you get there . . . be sure to grab some tissues because you’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry. Also, it’s probably good as an ab workout. SO, SO funny.

  29. CatScott says:

    Change is hard. Change because you HAVE TO is a mighty bitch. Changing a lot of things because you HAVE TO? Fuck me, I’m going back to bed.

    Lani’s right. Take things one step at a time. I’ve found it’s best to become successful at one thing at a time. Take care of the food part first. Get really good at it. Master it. Make it your bitch. Then tackle the exercise part.

    BTW…I think you’re doing great! I’d still be scrunched up in a ball crying somewhere if I’d received the same news, so kudos for charging ahead and taking care of yourself!


  30. ChelSierra Remly says:

    Dr. Oz did a show where he stated that “gastric bypass can help you lose weight, prevent heart disease and cancer, and reverse your type 2 diabetes virtually overnight – yet only 1% of eligible patients elect to go under the knife.”

    The page linked below states that both gastric banding & gastric bypass helps with “diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, cancer, asthma, reflux, infertility, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.”

    I have a nephew who has considered the gastric bypass surgery, which I’ve heard lots of botched tales about. I told him I’d rather he did the band, at least it could be readjusted if the calculations were messed up. And it could be removed if the need arose. (I just don’t see the need to cut and staple anyone’s innards if there’s another procedure that works just the same without cutting/stapling.)

    Anyhoo. I’m only sharing in case you hadn’t seen the show and might like the info as food for thought. These surgeries are something I’d have to think long and hard about. Well, the thought of any surgery gives me pause. These just make me pause longer.

  31. RedwoodKim says:

    Clean ALL the Things! should be my profile picture. But I am working hard to keep things incrementally cleaner, and the house looks better. I am trying not to eat my fool head off, and slowly I’m doing better. About the only major progress I’ve seen is giving up sodas. I’m on fitnesspal,I just need to be better about doing it. Ok. Long. Haul. Am loving this site, thank you.

  32. Mermaid Scribbler says:

    Way to go! This post was very timely for me since I spent most of the day feeling overwhelmed by my ever-growing to do list. You seem to get so much out of doing collages for your books that I wonder if you would ever do one for this moment in your life. When I was very ill, I did one and it was a great help to me. I’m thinking that I need to do one again. It’s funny that the images I conjur when thinking about change usually involve a list of things that is barely checked off. I live by the water, so I’m going to try and change that image to one of a ship (or a beautiful sailboat) headed towards the sunset – you know, headed in the right direction, on a journey, etc. Anyway, yay for you. Yay for pudding. I’m glad you found that your guilty pleasure is not so guilty after all. Thanks for inspiring me. 🙂

  33. Micki says:

    Oh, yes, that one. Clean ALL the things. I don’t have a nasty voice in my head telling me what crap I am. I have a perky cheerleader who says, “And, if you are going to do this, you can do this, this and this, too.” And she’s so disappointed when it doesn’t get done . . . .

    Getting back on the horse again (like Kate says) is hard, too. I KNOW certain things work; I know if I did Atkins, I’d lose 30 pounds in three months, and surely, surely, I could then go off the diet into some sort of maintenance/slow weight loss. But . . . something in me flat-out rebels. If other health problems are under control, I can avoid the sugar cravings, but if not . . . even the slightest hint of “you can’t have that” makes me want to eat.

    It’s like gastric bypass . . . the reason why it works is that you are FORCED to have a low-fat diet with very small servings several times a day. Surely, surely we can do that without major surgery??

    If you haven’t noticed, “surely” must be my subconscious’s code word for “HAH! Fat chance.” I’m afraid I’d get the surgery, be miserable and game the system until I got my cravings satisfied . . . . Not good for something so important. So, now I’m trying to play Good Cop with myself, and work on things . . . one or two at a time.

  34. Annamal says:

    It sounds like your food changes are liveable (and possibly even enjoyable).

    When you do get to exercise I would like to strongly recommend the ipod + audiobook +walking strategy. Not only does it put you in an almost meditative state but it also makes you almost eager to get going (or to keep going if you’ve just got to an interesting bit).

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