Fat Fridays: Week 24 Half a Diet

Hey Everyone, How’s your week gone? Mine has been better. Life has settled a little bit more into a pattern, it doesn’t feel as chaotic, peace seems to be settling again after a crazy month.  Last week I shared that my diet had gone on hold. Well, here’s some good news. I’ve been diligently weighing myself, just waiting for those numbers to start creeping back up. And they haven’t. I’ve lost 25 pounds and I’m holding steady at my current weight. This is actually a pretty big deal to me. In the past, I have done different diet plans, but as soon as I fell off the wagon my weight would immediately start to climb upwards again. I don’t want to push my luck. I’m trying to figure out how to jump back into the pool. Get back into the game.

It’s summer. The season of cookouts and popsicles and ice cream and barbecues. I have decided that I’m going to try out a more simple version of my diet for a couple weeks and see how it goes. See if I can start losing weight again. I know that right now I do not have what it takes to go completely vegan and grain free. So, I’m going to try half the diet, and just go grain-free for a while. I’m not even going to try and limit sugar. (Because actually, my go-to is sugar plus grain. Sugar on it’s own is not nearly as appealing to me.)

You might wonder why I’ve picked grain. So, I’ve gone off my diet and I’ve been paying attention to my body as I have eaten the “forbidden” foods. Meat really doesn’t seem to do much to me. Dairy, well, I don’t think my body likes dairy a whole lot, but I am not in the habit of eating dairy. I don’t buy blocks of cheese. I might put some shredded cheese on a Mexican dinner occasionally, but I don’t pour it on. I don’t like Milk so I stay away from that. I’ve lost my taste for yogurt, don’t really like it anymore. So, I probably should completely abstain from dairy, but I figure the occasional sprinkle of cheese and an occasional ice cream treat are doable. Grain is what really does a number one me. It spikes my blood sugar, it makes my stomach feel yucky. I generally have a feeling of ick after I eat a bunch of refined grain. Especially wheat. So, I’m going to keep it simple for now as my life is still a bit nuts and I’m finding summer eating to be difficult, and I’m just going to cut out the grain. See what happens. Though I don’t like watching a scale closely, I think I’m going to watch it for awhile just to see if any visible results happen. I’ll keep you posted.

I guess my philosophy right now is, do what you can. Even a forward movement of inches is better than a complete stand still. Ideally I’d love to be taking leaps and bounds forward in my weight loss journey, but if a slow crawl is all I can handle, at least it’s something.

Goals: cut out grain. Continue to try and make my mental health a priority. Have fun with my kids.

Have a good week, see you all next time!

 

Fat Fridays: Week 18 Progress and Dieting With Large Families

Hello Fat Friday Friends. (Kind of has a ring to it!) Hope all is well in your world today. I am feeling pretty positive today. I weighed myself and I’ve lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks. Yay! Measurable progress! Another bit of progress is my depression really does seem to be leaving me alone right now. (For those of you just tuning in, I started this vegan, grain-free diet in an attempt to lessen my depression). I am a naturally melancholic person. I like to sit and think about life and I tend to be pensive. But, there’s a difference between being low-key and being depressed. Depressed has me sitting in a chair, feeling paralyzed. Unable to do anything but the very basic tasks. I feel like a weight has lifted off of me. Where before, I felt like all of my emotions just kind of stayed flat, I feel like I’m starting to be able to swing over to “Happy” and “Excited”. This past Sunday, on Easter, I was downright happy. To the point that my husband was asking, “What’s up with you?” ummm. I’m happy! I guess that was a bit weird for my family. I was actually feeling bubbly. So, these are all good things.

Challenges. I am having a hard time being creative with vegan food. You remember I was trying to go grain-free for three months, well I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to do it, and I have started adding grain back. Still trying to stay away from wheat as I have noticed in the past that my body doesn’t like wheat very much. I’ve added back brown rice and quinoa. Yum. It definitely helps me to not feel hungry all the time. This week I’ve been eating a packet of this stuff everyday (found it at Sam’s Club):

quinoi

Add a bag of frozen veggies cooked up and a can of beans, a bit of salt and salsa, and it’s very filling and tastes good.

riceandbeans

But, I’ve been eating it every day, because it’s fast and easy. I’m going to get tired of it really soon. I am in big need of sitting down and looking up interesting recipes. I just haven’t taken the time yet. I’m also still cooking meat for my family, and I’m finding it harder and harder to come up with any enthusiasm for cooking meat. It feels a bit gross and unappetizing. My kids are getting out of school in another month, and I am making long-term plans to shift the family more and more towards vegetables and fruit and minimal meat. I have found a surprising ally in this goal. My seventeen year old son just told me that he wanted to start eating like me. I patiently explained that I am actually mostly just eating vegetables. Yeah Mom, I know..Umm. You know that means that you would have to eat vegetables. Yeah Mom. Vegetables. Boy Mom, you’re not being very encouraging! I’m telling you that I want to eat vegetables and you’re just acting like it’s something I can’t do! Ok. Sorry. Yes son, you are welcome to eat what I eat. (I can be excused for being a bit skeptical as this is the child who serves himself about an eighth of a cup a veggies at supper and claims that’s enough vegetables for one day.)

Anyway, it’s time to tackle the family’s eating habits. Now that it’s feeling more natural for me, I feel like I can start focusing on them. I’m coming up with a plan, a strategy, and it involves going slow. One new thing at a time. This week I’m going to skip buying white bread and I’m going to load up on ranch dressing, hummus, and fresh veggies like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, and iceburg lettuce. For some reason, my kids really like those veggies, so I’m going to start trying to have a tray of veggies to munch on after school instead of toast or sandwiches. We already do fruit. My kids love apples and oranges. This is what feeding fruit to nine kids looks like (I have ten kids, but one lives at college):

fruitandveggies

Well, I’ll tell you how it goes. Having the family eat similar to me will make my life a lot easier.

Exercise update. I’ve been on the elliptical four days in a row this week! Yay me! Feeling a bit stiff and sore, but also feeling like it’s helping with increased energy.

Goals: Keep on keeping on. Start dragging my family down this path of health I’m on. Be happy.

See you next week!

 

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!

A Little Bit of Hope

It’s Spring.  Winter is losing its hold on us and I feel this little thing budding up inside of me. Hope. This winter has been a struggle for me in my fight against depression. I feel like I fought well, kept picking myself back up and trying to find solutions again and again. Exercise. Try this diet. Write out my thoughts. Talk to people. Get involved. Get a Happy Light. But, no matter what I did, I kept finding myself in my chair, struggling to do the simplest chores.

Several weeks ago, in my Fat Fridays Post I said that if I could find a diet that would cure depression, I would go on it. Two days after posting that, I received two different emails from trusted sources telling me to watch an upcoming webinar by Jonathan Otto on Depression Anxiety and Dementia. It seemed like God was giving me a big nudge, so I went and watched some of it, read their free e-books. It talked about inflammation aggravating mental health issues. One of their first steps they recommended in their little book was to change your diet to fruit, vegetables and nuts. No grain, no animal products. I was desperate so I decided to give it a try. The first two weeks were really hard as my body was in shock from this drastic change. And then this Monday happened.

Monday morning, the first Monday back to school after Spring break, I woke up before my alarm went off, somewhere around 6 am. Wide awake. And happy. I got up with my little boy and fed him and dressed him and then went and got the other kids out of bed. Drove the kids to school, came home, and instead of collapsing on the couch, went and washed the dishes that had accumulated over the weekend. I then puttered around, getting the boys and I ready for our day at the homeschooling co-op where I’m teaching a couple piano lessons. Had a great day at Co-op, felt cheerful all day long. Then left co-op, went and picked up kids from school, came home and cleaned up the house, played games with my little girls, and read books to children until it was time to make supper. (Usually on Mondays co-op wears me out and by the time I get home I just want to hole up in my room with the door closed.) I felt almost giddy. Wow. This is what it feels like to have energy. hope

This morning I woke up with a pounding headache and was very tired. I’ve taken it easy today, but despite not feeling well, I haven’t felt dragged down in my mood. I’ve still managed to get chores done, spend time with my kids, and even practice the piano. And maybe this lightness of mood will become my new norm. hope

I’ve also stepped out in faith in a couple other areas. I’ve been lamenting lack of community, but at the same time not had the energy or drive to invite people over to my house. Well, we had some changes with our house church and Andy and I took the plunge and volunteered to host house church at our house, twice a month, Sundays after church. Bring enough food for your family and we’ll potluck lunch and then have a meeting. We’ve decided to take it a step further and tell everyone that our house is open every Sunday after church. Potluck and hang out. First steps to building community. I’m a little scared about making such a big commitment, but also feeling excited. hope “

My last big step of faith was to schedule a Musical Evening at my house, the beginning of May. Everyone is welcome. Just let me know you’re coming. The point of the evening is to make music accessible and fun for everyone, but especially children. I’m going to play a couple pieces, my kids are going to play music, maybe my husband will sing. Everyone who comes is invited to contribute to the music. We’ll all bring food to share too. Have a party. This is a step of faith for me, and a challenge because I’ve committed to playing music in front of people. Yikes. I haven’t done that in quite a while. I only have two children left who aren’t in school and I’ve started thinking about what I will do when all my kids are in school all day. My old dream of being a piano teacher with a bunch of students has slowly risen out of the ashes and I’ve started taking small steps towards that goal. For me, to be a serious piano teacher means I need to be getting back into music myself. So, this musical evening is a step towards my dream of teaching. hope

Aside from all these wonderful things, I have found my mind turning more and more to God. Being curious. Mindful. Wondering. Having Conversations. It feels like a hibernating part of my soul has woke up again. hope

It’s early spring yet. We still have cold mornings and plenty of drizzle-filled days in between the sunshine days. But, there is an unspoken promise in the air. The trees are putting out buds, the days are longer, there is a certain fresh smell of earth and plants when you step outside. We know that summer is just around the corner. And maybe good health, a sound mind, energy for life. Hope.

 

To anyone interested in my new diet, here’s the link:

 

www.depressionanxietyseries.com