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!

Fantasies of a Middle-Aged Housewife (G-rated)

Ever since I can remember, I have put myself to sleep at night making up stories where I’m the main hero. When I was a kid I would think about some great book I had just finished reading and I would re-imagine the story with me as one of the characters. I remember Little Men by Louisa May Alcott in particular. I was a tomboy and I loved imagining being part of the gang. I would spin stories in my mind till I fell asleep.

Today, as I waited in the car line to pick up my kids from school, I found my mind wandering, starting to make up a new story. What if, for some reason or other, I was taken away from my life to some resort-like place where I would be forced to undertake some drastic, but super-healthy, weight loss program, and also take yoga classes, and lift weights, and maybe start running again. And get plastic surgery for stretch marks, and, here’s the real amazing thing, get put under the charge of a dentist who would fix all my teeth and make them all white and straight and beautiful (because what middle-aged person doesn’t fantasize about having a fortune to pour into their teeth??) And of course there would be a beach nearby that I would walk on regularly until I had achieved complete inner peace. And then, after all that process was finished, and I now looked like one of those people out of magazines that you always secretly ooh and ahhh over, then I would go home to my loving family who somehow managed to be completely happy while I was away. And I would say Surprise! And they would be awed and amazed at this New Esther.

And then somewhere around there my fantasy fades out, because, in reality, my family doesn’t care a hoot what I look like, or how straight my teeth are, or whether I have stretch marks or not. And really, they wouldn’t be happy if I went away for any length of time. My family can hardly make it if I leave for the day.

But it’s fun to dream.

I think it’s funny what I fantasize about these days. Let’s see. I fantasize about having a housekeeper who lives with us and takes care of all the cleaning chores in the house (especially laundry and dishes!). In fact, I would take care of the grocery shopping and cooking, so I wouldn’t be considered completely lazy, just so I don’t have to clean.

How about this one? Enough money to take summer-long vacations with the family to exotic places all over the world.

Or, my toddler potty-training himself, in one day.

Here’s a good one. My husband handing me a large chunk of money and telling me he wants me to go to the beach by myself for a week, since I seem a little stressed lately. 🙂

How about hair that doesn’t turn grey and remains as thick and full as when I was 20?

My favorite one, children who never fight, always do their chores cheerfully, and love to help around the house.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work this way. Usually, I can accept that with a philosophical shrug. Then I have days like today when I’m just unusually tired and really all I want to do is climb into bed and nap and read and eat take-out. But instead, I clean the house, bathe toddlers who rolled around in the mud, cook a healthy supper, and plan to be up till late at night as I divvy up my attention between all my kids.

Reality. It’s actually more fantastic that my fantasies. Who wouldn’t enjoy a long trip to a spa? Who wouldn’t flourish under that kind of care? The real amazing thing is being able to flourish and enjoy a day of hard work under less-than-ideal working conditions. To end the day satisfied and content despite the fact that I wasn’t pampered or given special consideration. That kind of reality can only come from the daily grace Jesus gives me. I’m so thankful for that grace and I’m clinging hard to it today. May I end the day thankful. That’s a fantasy worth pursuing.

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.

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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!

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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 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.

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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 10 If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Here we are in week 10. I’ve had my first real setback this week. I haven’t exercised in two days, I came off of 9 days without sugar and blew it with pancakes and syrup yesterday and then donuts this morning. I’m finding that my setbacks are really tied to my bouts of depression. I hit a real low this week and I find that trying to keep myself moving and keep doing the right thing is really difficult when I’m feeling so low I don’t want to move.

Frankly, I’m getting pretty tired of this depression. A while back I went through about two years of deep depression. Now it’s every month I just have a couple days when it’s hard to cope. The problem is that while I’m in the midst of it, I feel like it’s all my fault. I am a horrible person. I’m a failure. I’m lazy. And then slowly the fog lifts and I get back to normal and I realize that I had been fighting off depression like it was a giant cloud that had settled around my body. This seems to be a cyclic thing. Some new, bizarre form of PMS? I don’t know. I think I’m going to start keeping a simple diary and see if I can track a pattern of which days I feel depressed, see if if there is any rhyme or reason to it.

I am at the point where I’m ready to start researching diets that lift depression. Right now if someone told me that eating a Keto diet (my personal version of hell) would take away my depression, I would be like, OK, sign me up.

So, here I am. I’ve been doing really well these past 10 weeks. Exercising, being more thoughtful about what I eat, trying to significantly reduce sugar. And then I fall off the wagon. This is where the real challenge lies. What am I going to do about it? Am I going to shrug my shoulders and think, Well, I’ve never been able to do anything long-term, might as well just give up and have a nice binge. Or am I going to accept the fact that this is how life works. It’s impossible to be “good” all the time. You mess up. Acknowledge it and then get back to work. Start exercising again. Cut back on the sugar again. Try to be mindful of what and why you are eating again.

I need to give myself this pep talk. You are not perfect Esther. No one expects you to be perfect all the time. One mistake does not make you a failure. You can do this. Have grace for yourself.  Don’t give up. Try again.

So, this is the plan for this week. Research diet and depression. Stop beating myself up for falling off the wagon. Climb back up onto the wagon. Keep going. And remember to be kind to myself.

Here’s to Trying Again.