Fat Fridays: Week 17 Navigating Birthdays and Restaurants

Hi all. How’s everyone’s week been? Mine has been busy. Our family has three birthdays within 8 days of each other and then Easter is also right in the middle of that. Plus, the weather has definitely warmed up and so I have had to do the seasonal clothes-switch-over. Throw in choir practices for our church’s Easter program and my son’s theater performance and I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon. April is one of our busiest months. It’s always like that. With my son graduating high school next month, May is also going to be really busy.

So, what does all this have to do with diet. Well, I would say one of the challenges I have been facing is how to keep on track when you don’t have a lot of time to devote to food-prep, and also how to deal with events like birthdays and eating out. My daughter wanted pizza and cake for her birthday. I love pizza. Her birthday was on a Friday and Friday Night Pizza is a pretty standard treat around here. I knew that the pizza was going to be a really big temptation for me. So, before it came, I ate a big meal of vegetables and beans and plantains. Filled myself up. And then I gave myself permission ahead of time to have some pizza crust. (I am one of those weird ones who thinks the crust is the best part of the pizza. It works well in my family since most of them don’t like the crust. Kind of a symbiotic relationship.) Right now my diet is vegan and grain-free. But I don’t plan on staying grain-free. I’m going through a three month course of pills to try and reduce the candida in my system and get my digestive tract back in shape, I do plan on eventually eating small amounts of whole-grains every day. So, I don’t feel too bad about cheating with grain.

The plan worked well. I ate a pizza crust and then realized that actually, it didn’t give me that rush of “feel good” that I used to get from eating my favorite foods. It actually made me feel a bit yucky and I didn’t feel tempted to eat any more. Yay.

In the past week I also have eaten out twice. I went out to a Mexican restaurant with my girl friends, a place we regularly visit, and I came prepared! You know that in Mexican restaurants they always place this giant bowl of fresh hot chips and salsa in front of you. And you sit there and munch and talk and munch and talk and it’s only hours later that you realize you’ve eaten an amazing amount of chips and salsa. This time I came with a bag of plantain chips and I planned ahead what vegan food I would order. It worked pretty well, though I’ll admit that at the very end of the evening, I did grab a couple chips. Cause they were just sitting there. Looking really good. Again, it was grain, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.

Then my husband and I went out with another couple to a Thai restaurant. I chose the restaurant because I knew that I could get a good vegan meal at a Thai restaurant. I decided ahead of time that I was going to eat rice with the meal, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating or caving in on the spot. I got Prik Poa Pork, without the pork, and it was amazing! I foresee eating a lot of Thai food in the future as their menu has an option to substitute vegetables for any meat. And I love Thai food anyway. 🙂

I guess the biggest lesson I’m learning is to think ahead. When I know I’m going to be in a different setting than my own kitchen, I can plan which foods I’m going to allow myself to eat and which ones are definitely a NO. Bring alternative food when necessary. Fill up ahead of time so I’m not as tempted to cheat. I think these are lifelong skills that are going to prove to be very beneficial to me.

Ok. Exercise update. I got on the elliptical three times this week. Yay me. I would like it to be more like five times a week, but it’s good progress. (And this blogging accountability thing really worked! I was like, there is NO WAY I’m going to tell everyone that I didn’t exercise again, so I just did it!)

Goals for the week: Somehow navigate the Easter Candy thing and Easter Dinner. NO SUGAR! I will not give in! Keep exercising. Stick to the diet.

 

Have a good week everyone!

 

Fat Fridays: Week 16 Finding the New Normal

Here we are again, another week has zoomed past and I’m stopping to take some time to reflect on what theme stands out from this week. This week has been one of those weeks where I really questioned whether my diet is actually doing me any good. My weight loss seems to have slowed down. I have had a couple days where I’ve been really tired, two mornings where I’ve woken up with a really bad headache. My blood sugar has been dropping really low at unexpected times, where I find myself shaking and needing to eat immediately. And of course I blame it on my diet. I’m not getting enough protein, I’m missing out on some key nutrition, I’m doing this wrong somehow…

I was starting to feel really discouraged  two days ago and then I thought about it and got some perspective. First of all, not only do I have a giant diet-change going on, I also stopped nursing my toddler. Cold-turkey. He’s over 2 years old. I never meant to nurse him this long, it just kind of dragged out. He’s our last baby and I wasn’t in a hurry for him to grow up. But then the nursing was starting to get really annoying. He was getting up every night and then wanting to nurse and being whiny all day about it. I was complaining about it to my husband last Thurs and he said, You need to wean him! And I agreed. And we just stopped. One week later, he is sleeping through the night, has stopped pestering me all day and seems a lot happier. It was definitely the right time. But, as I have blamed my diet for making me feel weird this week, I conveniently forgot about the fact that my body is going through the shock of not nursing anymore. And it’s an even bigger shock because, aside from about 3 months back in 2010, I have been nursing or pregnant for 19 years straight. I think I need to have a little grace for this poor body as it tries to figure out what is going on and get adjusted.

The other thing to take into consideration is all the toxins in our environment. Toxins that get inside of us and then get stored in our fat cells. And then, when you lose weight, those toxins get released into your body. That might account for some of my headache days I’ve been having. I woke up with a headache this morning so I took some chlorella which helps flush your system of toxins, and drank a bunch of water and the headache eased off after about an hour.

I wish that I knew exactly what was going on inside my body since I’ve changed my diet. If some of you readers have articles to share that teach you exactly what is happening hormonally and on the cell-level when you change over to a vegan diet, I’d love to read them. Share a link in the comments. I have always been one of those people that need to know Why? Why do I have a headache? Why am I sick? What is going on exactly in my body? What is this medicine actually going to do inside of me to make me feel better? My mother is Physician Assistant, and I remember as a child, when I was sick, I always wanted in-depth explanations of what was going on in my body, and she was always willing to take the time to explain it to me. I still want that in-depth explanation.

In the end, I think this week has been about my body trying to find the new normal. My hormones trying to adjust to no longer supporting another life, me trying to figure out exactly what I need to eat, and how much in order to keep my blood sugar steady, my body trying to drop weight and having to deal with some negative side-effects from that. I think it’s going to take a while to find this new normal. But, knowing that I’m going through an adjustment period, instead of the diet failing me, helps me to not be discouraged. I’m not giving up! Onwards, towards the new normal!

Goals for this week: EXERCISE!! Since I’m using this blog as a sort of accountability, I will make myself confess that I, once again, did not exercise much this week. Aside from a walk to the park with a bunch of kids that involved me pushing a very heavy stroller up a very long, steep, hill…I have not exercised.  THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE!!! Cause it’s getting embarrassing to keep having to tell you guys that I didn’t exercise. That’s it. This is my only goal besides sticking to the diet. See you all next week!

Fat Fridays: Week 15 Stress…and More Stress

Well, this has been an interesting week. I would say the keyword for this week is STRESS. Since last Thurs night, we have had the following: the car broke down when my husband and I were out on a date; while trying to fix said car, got a phone call from our teens who were babysitting, saying the baby was throwing up; had an incident at one of the kids’ schools that involved a gun and a hard lockdown; was without my van for one day and had to find alternative transportation for my kids to and from school; had one day when four teens had to go four different directions, each needing a car and a chaperone; three family members threw up in the night; had to cancel a gathering in our home at the very last minute because of the previously mentioned throwing-up family members; eight year old swallowed a penny that got stuck which sent us to the ER on a Sunday afternoon, along with several hundred other families who were also there; had to take a daughter to a mandatory meeting concerning her summer camp, got there and realized we were at the wrong location which then meant a race home to review the letter again and get the correct location, more racing around to try and get her there on time; the four year old went off to play and then fell asleep under a blanket, I went to find the four year old and he didn’t answer me when I called which then sent my heart-rate racing while I frantically looked for him, finally found him under the blanket, asleep; my oldest boy had his senior dues stolen; remembered at 7:05 this morning that my ten year old had an appointment at 8am which meant I had 10 minutes to get my two little boys dressed and fed and out the door with all the other kids so I could take everyone to school and then take the previously mentioned child to his appointment with two tired, fussy, little boys tagging along…I think I’m allowed to classify this past week as stressful.

So, what does that have to do with diet and weightloss issues? Well, I can tell you that last night (my weekly night off to go do whatever I want) I was fighting a really big craving to go to Five Guys and get a giant hamburger and large fries and then end the evening with a large ice cream. Instead I decided to be a good girl and go to the library that I remembered stayed open late on Wed nights. Got to the library and found out they had changed their schedules, and were now closed. Long story short, I ended up at a park with some fresh fruit and plantain chips to keep me company, and took a little walk. Then went home and read a book. Major victory. This morning, after getting home from our doctors’ appointment, I was practically pacing. I was so stressed and I didn’t know how to handle it. I just wanted to eat something yummy and not on the diet plan. Instead I went outside and sat in the sunshine and then finally fixed myself a tasty bowl of vegetables and beans.

deckfoodpic

It has been really hard to find new coping mechanisms when the stress builds up, but I’ve been making it, one day at a time. It’s a good reminder that this whole weightloss journey has a lot more to it than just finding the right diet.

Other progress: instead of weighing myself, I have been occasionally trying on a pair of jeans I own in the next size down. Well, ladies and gentleman, I can now button and zip the pants without killing myself. Still have a giant muffin top, but it’s progress!

fatcatpic

I have to say, this whole change to a new diet, new coping mechanisms, new thought processes, it hasn’t been easy. It’s actually rather stressful, which has not helped my ability to deal with weeks like I just had. I’m hoping that this will stop feeling “New” soon, and just become a regular way of life.

So, plans for this week: stick to diet, exercise, be outside often, and start incorporating my way of eating into the family’s diet. (I’ve been cooking the regular meat and rice or pasta meals, and it’s getting old to cook food I can’t eat, they’re going to have to start eating more like me!). Here’s praying that my next week is a lot more calm and peaceful. See ya later!

 

Fat Fridays: Week 14 Shakes, Headaches, and Scales

Here we are, three weeks completed on the vegan, grain-free diet. Happy reports: I have been feeling pretty good this week. I’ve had more energy, and I don’t feel like I’m in a fog. In fact, I feel a lot like I’m waking up from a semi-comatose state. I’m getting used to eating differently too. This week my go-to easy meal has been to grab a can of bean or lentil soup,dump it in a pot, throw in a package of frozen veggies and heat it up. Fast, fairly inexpensive, easy, filling. I’ve also resorted back to the food of my youth, growing up in Haiti, and I’m eating plantain again, almost every day. It’s a filling starch and healthier than white potatoes. And they’re yummy. My other diet addition has been to start drinking a vegan shake for breakfast every day. It’s 24 grams of protein and has lots of other nutritious stuff in it. It’s become a good way to start the day.

Not so happy reports: I’m still dealing with a lot of headaches which I think are part of the detoxing process. Also I am prediabetic and this week I’ve been waking up around 5 am with really low blood sugar. It wakes me up and I either stay awake till my normal waking time of 6:45am or I have to get up and eat a small piece of fruit. Last night I ate a big snack right before bedtime and that seemed to help, but it’s hard because I haven’t really been hungry at bedtime. It feels counter-productive to eat when you’re not hungry.

One other happy report is that my clothes are definitely getting loose on me. I’m in that awkward place where my current clothes are getting too big and I have to wear a belt now, but I’m not quite ready for the next size down. You’ll notice that I haven’t posted about numbers of pounds lost. I’m trying to stay away from numbers. I have found that my relationship with scales is not good and the obsessive habit of constantly weighing myself when I’m on a diet is not a habit I want to pick up again. I’m trying really hard to not weigh myself often and try to keep track of my progress by the size clothing I’m wearing. We’ll see. Unfortunately I own a scale. (I haven’t for years, but one of my kids needed one.) When you feel like you’re losing weight, it’s really hard to not get on the scale. Seeing those numbers go down is a real rush. But then, if the numbers go up or stay the same, it causes a lot of discouragement and sometimes you even just feel like giving up. So, I remind myself that this diet is not just about weight loss. It’s about achieving good mental health. Losing the brain fog. Having energy. Perhaps lessening the episodes of depression significantly. And losing weight would be great too. 🙂

Plans for this week: Continue the diet. I’m also looking at a supplement that helps your body with the detox process. Maybe it will help with the headaches? I haven’t exercised this week as my back has been giving me a lot of problems, but the last two days have been better so hopefully I can start exercising again! (Yeah, I said that last week too, but this week will be different!) (Promise!) I’m also just trying to be proactive about getting in the sunshine and soaking in the vitamin D and feel-goodness of the sun. I tell my four year old it’s “Sun Medicine”.

So, go enjoy some sun medicine if you can, and have a good week everyone!

Fat Fridays: Week 13 Eating to Live

Dr. Fuhrman wrote a book called “Eat to Live”. It’s a good book. I’ve always had a hard part with that “eating to live” thing though. What about birthday cake? And dessert? And donuts? And popcorn at the movies? And ice cream cones? What about eating for enjoyment? It’s a national pastime!

This past week has shown me how much “entertainment” eating that I do. When you are reduced to eating fruits and vegetables and nuts, some hidden habits start becoming very clear. At the beginning of this diet I bought a big bag of frozen berries to be my “treat” snack. I poured them into my pretty bowls and would pretend like I was indulging in the most decadent dessert, carefully eating one plump berry at a time. After a couple days I started getting tired of frozen berries. So I bought a different combination that had peaches and mangoes and grapes. That kept me happy for a couple more days and then my body just said, Enough with the frozen fruit already! I had been eating a bowl of frozen fruit in the evening when I typically would be eating a piece of chocolate or having a bowl of ice cream. Then, one evening came, and I was just tired of frozen fruit and I wracked my brain to think about what I should eat instead. As I was trying to think of something in the fruit and vegetable family that sounded appetizing, I realized that really, I wasn’t hungry. I had eaten a good filling supper and I didn’t need anything else.

This week has been about reaching for a habitual snack, remembering I can only eat fruits and vegetables, and then realizing that I’m really not hungry. I think I’ve actually started to “Eat to Live” instead of eating for entertainment, or to improve a bad mood, or calm down a temper tantrum, or all the other unhealthy reasons I was eating. A big part of this triumph has to do with the fact that fruits and vegetables do not give me the rush and feel-goodness that junk food and bread and processed meats like sausage and bacon do. I have read a bit about it and I know that there is science to back that up. Bread and processed meats actually have things in them that trigger your brain to be happy. It’s a drug. Really. I am realizing that without that drug, food has become a lot more about not-being-hungry than about seeking pleasure.

That’s not to say that eating a well-cooked vegetarian meal is not pleasurable, it just seems to be the kind of pleasure you can manage. You eat till you’re full and then you stop. That urge to eat just a little bit more isn’t near as strong with a vegetable bean soup as it is with a cheeseburger.

Well, I’ve finished two weeks on this vegan, grain-free diet. I have decided I’m going to give it three months before I start adding grain back into my diet. I feel like my body has only, in the last two days, started feeling adjusted to this new way of eating. I have not adapted quickly and easily. But, I can tell that I’m starting to lose some weight, so that’s encouraging. 🙂 I have the next size down in pants and I tried them on yesterday. If I really absolutely had wanted to button them, I could have. 🙂 I didn’t have any pressing reason to do that to myself, but I’m hopeful that these pants will fit me very soon!

Here’s the plan: stick to the diet and start trying to find some better recipes since I’ve had quite a few flops. An old back problem has limited my exercise this week, but I have stretches that are supposed to help that, so I will focus on getting my back in shape again so I can keep doing my elliptical. I’m also trying out a vegan shake for breakfasts. I’m not a big shake fan, but it seems really simple and full of lots of good nutrition. We’ll see how that goes. See you all next week!

Fat Fridays: Week 12 I’ve Survived the First Week!

Well, this has been an interesting week. Today completes day 7 of only eating fruits, vegetables and nuts. First, I have to say that in some ways, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I pictured myself watching my family eat meat and bread and me standing off to the side munching on a leaf of lettuce, disgruntled and fighting overwhelming cravings. It didn’t work out that way.

So, I’m going to break this down into Failures, Successes, and Challenges.

Failures

My first attempt at cooking vegan and grain free was a bit of a flop. I was trying to make some vegetable soup and I was kind of just tossing in whatever leftover vegetables I had in my fridge. I found a big bag of broccoli that was on it’s last leg and needed to be eaten immediately, so I chopped it up and threw it in the soup. Bad idea. The soup ended up tasting like slightly-off broccoli. My desire to not be wasteful had me eating it anyway. Not so fun. My other recipe fail was when I tried to cook a spaghetti sauce with chunks of butternut squash in it, but the butternut squash remained grainy and wouldn’t completely soften up no matter how long I cooked it (another situation where I had bought pre-cut butternut squash and I left it a bit too long in the fridge).

Also, not necessarily a failure, but I had a couple days where I was just in a really bad, spaced-out mood. Not a bad mood about the food, but just about life in general. It made me a not-nice person to be around. Sigh.

Successes

I  took a trip to Walmart and explored their frozen vegetable section. I found some pretty nice things. Like pasta made out of lentils and zuchinni and “riced” cauliflower with sweet potatoes which cooks up a lot like rice, and also frozen carrot spirals and frozen zuchinni spirals. Great finds.

My one recipe super-success that I plan to repeat was this. I fried (just a little coconut oil) some onions, garlic and fresh ginger. Then I added a bag of the riced cauliflower/sweet potatoes. When that looked like it was mostly cooked I added in a bag of pre-made coleslaw mix and some soy sauce. I mixed it up and then covered it and let it steam till the cabbage was soft. Then the final touch was to open up a can of black beans and pour it over the top. It was good, hearty, filling, and easy. I’ll probably make it more often.

I’m also trying to eat a handful of nuts every day. After multiple trips to the store where I kept forgetting to buy nuts, I finally bought four little bags of raw pecans and dumped them into a large bowl and covered them with salt water. The next day I drained the nuts, rinsed them a little bit and then laid them out on a cookie sheet. I put them in the oven on the lowest setting (my oven only goes down to 170 degrees) and left them overnight, about 12 hours. Voila, amazing nuts that don’t have any bitterness in them. (The person who taught me this also told me about all kinds of health benefits to this process, but I’ve forgotten those.) They’re very addicting. It’s a challenge to only eat a handful a day. When the pecans run out I’ll do walnuts.

pecans

My other success was that I didn’t cheat. And the biggest success was that I didn’t really feel like cheating (except when I was really hungry, then it was a bit tempting).

Challenges

I’ve started taking a bunch of supplements again: Vit B complex, Chlorella, probiotic, magnesium. I am always easily swayed by people’s varying reports on which supplements are necessary and which ones aren’t. Who to trust? Which ones to try?

I stopped exercising this week. I feel kind of like a juggler trying to keep a bunch of balls in the air. When I started this diet it was like my brain overloaded. WHOA! Way too many balls keep up in the air. I need to set one down. So, now I’ve got to get exercise going again.

Also, eating this way is all about being prepared. It’s not like you can stop at McDonalds and find a sugar-free, dairy-free, meat-free, grain-free meal. And there’s not too many restaurants where that will be easy either. Since the only time I contemplate cheating even a little is when I’m really hungry, being prepared is going to be important.

I haven’t noticed any weight loss so I hope that starts happening soon. If it doesn’t, I’m probably going to get discouraged. Also waiting for my moods to even out, that needs to happen soon too!

So, the plan is to continue with the diet this week and try to get exercising every day again.

See you all later!

Fat Fridays: Week 11 The Semi-Reluctant Vegan

Last week I said that if I could find a diet that would help with depression I would go on it. Well, two days after I wrote that, I received an email from a health network I subscribe to whose subject line was “Depressed or Anxious?” Inside the email was a link to a guy who has done extensive study on depression, anxiety, and dementia. I went and checked it out. A couple hours later I received another email from the other health network I subscribe to. The subject line of the email was, “Natural Remedies for Depression and Anxiety.” I opened that email. It had a link to the exact same doctor. I went and checked out the link.

http://masteringdiabetes.acemlnb.com/lt.php?s=ad5907f39a14b9a2c2601e7db4c5f57c&i=2074A2087A2A37606

They are having free online video sessions this next week, but they also offered links to two free ebooks that explained the premise of their study. The final conclusion was to adopt a plant-based diet. The challenge they gave was to try and just eat Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts and then later reintroduce some healthy whole grains.

 

I am not unfamiliar with plant-based diets. Years ago my inlaws read Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live and adopted his diet plan. They had amazing results. They shared their journey with all their kids and I got the book and read it and even tried it for a while. But I was not sold enough to maintain it for very long. Then about a year ago my own father was struggling with Type 2 diabetes. I had read a study by a Dr. Neal Barnard that talked about reversing Type 2 diabetes by eating a low-fat, plant-based diet. My parents got his book, tried the diet and had amazing results, lowering my dad’s A1C from 6.4 to 5.7 in two months. I again half-heartedly tried the diet since I myself am prediabetic, but I wasn’t very dedicated and didn’t stick to it for very long.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to be vegan. I want to eat meat. I want to enjoy cheese. Vanity, wanting to lose weight, was not a good enough incentive for me to totally change my lifestyle. But, if you are telling me that perhaps I can come out from under this persistent depression, well, that seems like a good enough incentive. If I lower my A1C and lose weight, that would be great too.

I am actually feeling hopeful. I feel like I’ve been being nudged towards this diet for several years now and I’ve just been dragging my feet. So, I’m going to try it. I’m thinking I’m going to probably need to give it a couple months before I can give an honest assessment as to how it’s going. I’ll keep you all updated.

Here’s the game plan. I’m going to make myself a giant pot of vegetable soup so I have something easy on hand.  I put in a good supply of fruit and vegetables today. The only thing I forgot to buy was nuts. I’ll have to pick those up later. Wish me luck!