Friday, May 29, 2009

Welcome new family member!

Before anyone gets too excited, please understand that the new member is not a child—at 47 years old, I consider this new family member better than a child because I'm too old to take care of an infant! It's a new Viking range. A gigantic 60-inch-6-open-burners-with-24-inch-griddle/simmer-plate-and-two-ovens-hallelujah-Viking range. For a cook it's definitely the holy grail of ranges.

I got it from a couple who are interior design clients. I love these clients for so many reasons. Yes, they are very picky and occasionally make me do something over, but they always pay me for my time realizing that it would be impossible for me to always know their taste as it is very, very specific. They never quibble about bills, they understand me and my aesthetic, they trust my taste and are extremely loyal. So when they began redesigning their Madison-area kitchen (they also have homes in Illinois and Florida), they asked if I'd like their range as they didn't like the gas ovens and wanted something different. Of course, I said yes.

We're going to have to reconfigure a part of our kitchen to make it work, but we'll make it work 'as God is my witness!'

As for my latest nutrition research, I've been checking out Matt Stone's Web site at 180-Degree Health. He's another of those who believe that eating Whole Foods is the way to go, that diet foods ruin your metabolism by affecting your endocrine system and other ideas.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Do it the right way—for yourself!

I've made a lot of stupid choices for the sake of weight loss: becoming a vegan without a plan for eating enough protein and taking vitamins; trying the cabbage soup diet; fasting for days; and the biggie—an eating disorder in my late teens and 20s.

But I never tried diet pills, thank goodness. Already made crabby by dieting, I would have been impossible to live with had I tried them.

Good Housekeeping has a great story in its June issue about 5 women who once took diet pills, but only managed to lose the weight when they went on sensible diets with a true commitment for exercise (except one woman with muscular dystrophy who did it on diet alone). One woman in particular had dieted almost constantly since high school taking diet pills and after she had her first child, her husband asked her to lose weight without taking them. I guess he didn't like the potential for health problems or perhaps her mood while taking them.

Also in the article is an excellent essay by Geneen Roth, a recovered food addict whom I've long admired, about dealing with the "Contant Food Critics" in your life. Every person trying to lose weight over time has them. I know I do, but I just try to remember that they care about me and just want me to succeed. But I also wonder, how does their constant criticism affect people's dieting attempts. Those five women trying to lose weight using the pills might have tried them in an attempt to make easier something for which they were being criticized. Who knows, because the articles don't say. But I do think it's really important to remember that the critics love you (probably) and the best thing to say is, "It's my body and I'll decide how to do this."

I do find myself wanting to lose weight in part to satisfy the criticism of others (especially my ex-husband and perhaps an ex=boyfriend or two), but I am forcing myself to only think of myself. For a long time, I didn't understand why needing to please others was a problem in losing weight. Now I do. The reason is that when it comes to making choices, if you aren't making choices because you want to hold yourself accountable but rather are thinking of others at the time, you aren't going to make the same choice. The emotions surrounding your relationship with the other person (acceptance, respect, security, belonging, guilt, etc.) will interfere every time. It's only when you know that you are important enough to take seriously, when you know that you need to do a great job managing your own life and when your ideal is to act from your highest self instead of your emotional, crazy self will you make the right choices.

Here's to loving yourself enough to do it right!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Blubber Blahs

There's something about being overweight that creates not just a physical lethargy, but an emotional one too. Funny thing, the best cure for both is a good bit of exercise. Something I am always loath to do when the blahs set in.

The meds have definitely been helping. I have been able to face herding three distracted children, keep the kitchen relatively clean, make three meals a day and still get lots of projects done outside. What I haven't been able to do is get a little "me" time, which is so valuable when trying to lose weight.

And now here it is Monday morning, and it's crucial that I get together a shopping list for the week, complete with meal plan. I had blahs for several hours this morning, so I laid-abed reading a cheery book and eating a cheese sandwich (yikes!).

So I'll be using my trusty blog to help me do my planning. Now that Tim is up to his eyebrows in handyman work for the summer (busy through June for sure), I need to also make sure the food satisifies his larger appetite (he continues to lose weight and weighed in recently at 168 -- although he's up to 174 again now).

Lunch: Leftover pasta salad with watermelon
Dinner: Salmon, salad, and asparagus (from Mom and Dad's garden).

Breakfast: Salmon & asparagus frittata and fruit on the side
Lunch: Cottage cheese, fruit and veggie salad
Dinner: Hamburgers (no bun) with veggie salad and grilled potatoes

Breakfast: Cottage cheese, fruit and a piece of sourdough toast
Lunch: leftover frittata and veggies with watermelon
Dinner: Roast chicken on the grill, snow peas and potatoes

Breakfast: 2 eggs and fruit
Lunch: open-faced turkey and cheese sandwich with veggies and hummus
Dinner: Venison steaks on the grill, asparagus and potatoes

Breakfast: 2 eggs and fruit
Lunch: yogurt and fruit and veggies with hummus
Dinner: Fish and baked fries and vegetable salad

That's all for now. I'll plan the weekend on Thursday or so. Now I'm off to ride my horse, which never fails to dispel the Blubber Blahs.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Feeling better already!

Wow. Only four days on the Armour and today I'm noticing a difference. I'm still having a hard time sleeping, but today I feel the weight of depression totally lifted off of me for the first time in months! I feel happy, excited and—here's the difference—hopeful! I'm not typically a depressed person, so I think I've had lots of happiness, but it's always been muted for the past 2-3 years. Today, for the first time in absolute ages, I feel this awesome sense of hope.

The most interesting part of it is that I really hadn't noticed that I didn't feel hopeful. I knew I was a little off, but didn't think it was a big deal. Well, feeling this exhilaration and happiness makes such a big difference that I now know it was probably affecting my mood more than I knew.

Here's the kicker. I feel hopeful about losing weight. Before it almost felt overwhelming. I would go off my food plan because it really didn't seem to matter what I did. This morning, I made excellent choices because I knew it would matter. I had a high-fiber cereal with my organic milk and didn't make another choice that was tempting me and has before (toast with butter and probably lots of it).

Last night was an odd night for mealtime. My oldest stepdaughter had her State Fair, which is a display her class puts on. Each child researched a state and had a small booth that included smells, taste, feeling and sound, plus an extensive book about each state. So we got to taste a lot of flavors. So, I did taste a few things, but you had to take your time. Within a very short time, I was totally full. I had a wonderful smoked halibut spread, a pork and pineapple delicacy, a really nice blueberry crunch and some elk sausage. I didn't have more than a bite of each. It was amazing how full I was!

It gave me an idea for a dinner to cook for kids and I'm thinking I'll just make a few small dishes of items they've never had, but that are healthy, and we'll each have a bite or two before going on to the next item. Stretch it out over an hour and we'll get full faster, have a fun adventure and not break the calorie bank!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yay for Armour!

Well, I finally made it to my doctor and was so thrilled to get a prescription finally to address my low thyroid. I've been feeling so tired lately, constantly slightly depressed, having insomnia, dry skin around my ears and back (yuk) and a pretty low temperature, that I knew I was having trouble. Also the fact that, while not perfect, I have been doing better on my weight loss efforts and the scale is barely budging.

I'm taking Armour thyroid, a natural thyroid replacer. My sister takes synthroid (synthetic) and has been for 20 years. She recently lost almost 100 pounds and is running the 1/2 Madison Marathon this weekend. I'm so proud of her.

I just love summer menus, don't you? Since I was out and about last night, the kids had pesto pasta with green peas in it (I also add spinach and zucchini puree to it for a boost in vitamins). I was out with the girls and had 3 drinks and a glass of wine over 4 hours! We also had some shrimp, feta cheese and sundried tomatoes and two thin-crust pizzas. Not the healthiest, but I'm back on the wagon today. This morning I had cottage cheese with blackberries, rapsberries and strawberries. For lunch, I'm havin a little leftover pesto pasta (just a bit) and some sugar snap peas and chicken breast (about 2 oz). For dinner I'm having grilled chicken, sweet potato fries and broccolini. I'll probably also grill some tomatoes (I love that!)

I'm waiting for Tracie to weigh in on my food journal to see if I'm doing better.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My first visit to the Trautman Farm

Yesterday, I finally braved the Trautman Family Farm on my own. They provide grass-fed meats: veal, beef, lamb, pork and chicken. It was a lovely trip over to Stoughton. They also sell beeswax products, coconut oil, honey (Bee Barf) and eggs. I found everything reasonable and came away with some discounted lamb chops, a tip roast and some wieners. We're going to try the wieners out on the kids (apparently they are the best tasting wieners ever) and the roast on Monday night. Tim and I will eat the lamb on the grill tonight (it's my birthday, so we're celebrating with a cookout).

The farm is open on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, or you can place an email order and arrange a pickup time to your convenience. I paid in cash (they also accept checks).

I love the idea of directly supporting a farmer who uses humane and healthy farming practices, but I do know there are many other resources in the area if you can't get to a farm. Again, I love Paoli Local Produce (the Ruegseggers run it and they have a farm) and Willy St. Coop also sells local meats.

I was sad to hear that Artamos closed (formerly located at Whitney Square next to the Seafood Center. I always felt they could do a better job advertising.

I'd love to hear of any other resources for grass-fed meats, fish sources, etc.

Friday, May 15, 2009

In Praise of Coconut Oil

I had a very inspiring meeting with my nutritionist yesterday. In the meeting was another of her clients, who had come to her to help solve her irritable bowel issues. Interestingly enough, that client was drinking coffee with a heaping spoon of coconut oil and a little real maple syrup. Yum, she said. She calls coconut oil (which comes in a solid, white form) her miracle drug. Not only has she lost a little weight by eating it, but her bowel issues have greatly reduced and are about gone, I believe. My goal this week was to do more research on coconut oil and then add it to my diet daily.

My nutritionist, Tracie Hittman, has always loved coconut oil, but I was afraid of the taste. Today I added it in my coffee. It was virtually tasteless. It just added a little body to the coffee and a little oiliness which I didn't mind at all. I also fried my eggs in it and it tasted great! All I could taste was the egg, and when I use butter, I really taste the butter.

For research, Tracie steered me to the Weston A. Price Foundation Web site. It's a scientific organization that promotes the eating of real foods. It has researched many issues surrounding food and is a key player in the movement toward eating real foods. I see that they also praise coconut oil as being among the few fats that are truly healthy.

So this week, I'm going to experiment by trying the coconut oil. I'm going to try to stick to my same diet, but substituting coconut oil for butter at least a couple times a day. I'll weigh myself now and at the end of the week and see how it goes. I'll also note my moods, my hunger levels and my fatigue levels.

Next week I go to the doctor-- Ann Stanger, M.D. -- to take a look at my thyroid levels. Although much of my thyroid damage can be solved with food, I believe, I'd still like the help of taking Armour or another natural thyroid until my body is more healed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yay, weight does go down

Well, I'm happy to report that my weight has gone down for the third week in a row. Not a lot, but I'll take even a pound or two. I really don't want to do this the wrong way and just get thin for the wedding and then find out that it's easy to gain it all back. Inch-by-inch, rather than hell-bent-for-leather is my preferred method.

So I am now down officially four pounds after gaining back everything I had previously lost. Time to update the ledger!

I watched the Biggest Loser last night and was a bit scared! Did anyone but me notice how ill the two top losers looked and how fat many of the others still looked? Yikes. Usually I'm so thrilled at everyone's journey, but so many had really failed to make significant inroads. Carla and Joelle both have lost some weight (Carla lost over 100 pounds), but she still has a long way to go. One of the sisters--Mandi or Aubrey—had actually gained weight since the show. But I was totally horrified at how Helen looked. I'm hoping she did eat in the past two months! Her skin hung, her skin didn't shine (at least it didn't look like it did), meanwhile the host, Allison Sweeney, looked marvelous.

I am proud of our girl Tara on the show. She really seemed to be focusing on strength and health and not being skinny. I like that. I hope she continues to lose another 5 pounds, or whatever she feels she has left and does it in a healthy way. She really seemed to be the true spokesmodel. Nicole looked good and so did Estelle, Jerry's wife. Jerry, the at-home winner, looked near death. I have to say that the horrible appearance of those two winners (Jerry far worse than Helen) seemed to contrast horribly with the excitement surrounding the weigh ins.

Today, I have a pot of Chicken Stew simmering on the stove. I put all of my edible vegetable scraps in a pot after soaking the flavor out of leftover chicken bones. It smells so great! And I clean out my veggie drawer before anything goes bad. Another reason to love a rainy day—it reminds me to make soup.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Motivation Help

Here's some motivation help from Women's Health my friend Sue sent me. There are some really great tips for staying motivated, including the first one which is my favorite!

Healthy picnics!

Picnic and barbecue season is here and there's no more reliable way to fall off the wagon in the summer than forgetting to adhere to your rules while picnicking. I'm hosting a Mother's Day picnic for family and friends today and, although every food won't be low calorie, they will still fit into our food plan.

Grilled chicken and grass fed burgers
Sourdough buns
Organic pickles, catsup and mustard (I love mustard!)
blue cheese potato salad with vegetables
cheesy potatoes (from my mom)
Fresh vegetable salad
fruit salad
rhubarb custard with real ice cream
lime curd with fruit

I'd love any suggestions of other options. Obviously fresh sliced tomatoes later in summer will be great!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My garden and my hormones!

We are putting in a huge garden. Here's a photo from about a week ago as Tim is rototilling in our compost! The area is about 100 x 20 feet and includes beans, peas, 7 kinds of tomatoes, 10 kinds of peppers, 5 kinds of greens, red and white onions, garlic, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, squash, potatoes, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, Brussels sprouts and herbs.

Now for the hormones. Be warned: this is going to get personal. Since about mid December I've not been getting my period. I just thought that since I was 46, perhaps I was repeating what a few of my friends had gone through and was hitting menopause early. That's fine with me. Although my nice little stepson wants us to have a baby boy, I'm not interested in complying! Too hard on my body and a lot of work. Three new children is already a lot of work. Then, bammo, last Friday the darn thing reappeared. What the. . . ?

Well, a little research on Woman to Woman, a Web site on women's health indicated that hypothyroidism can make your menstrual cycle irregular. (Naturally, Tracie had already told me that, but I really thought it was menopause.) As you may remember, I have a confirmed case of Hashimoto's thyroiditis as per the UW oncology department (no cancer, just my immune system attacking my thyroid). Hashimoto's results in reduced leves of thyroid hormone in your body. Symptoms are increased lethargy, depression, weight gain and other hormonal imbalance-issues such as hair loss, irritability, dry skin patches and period irregularity. But, because I'm eating foods that support my hormone production rather than throw it off wack, perhaps this is a sign that I'm doing better! Yay.

On May 19, I'm going to see Dr. Stanger, a medical doctor who supports natural medicine. Just a couple miles from my house, she will take some tests to see where my T levels are at and, hopefully, prescribe a natural medicine to stabilize my thyroid levels so that I don't have to deal with the symptoms I suffer: weight loss resistance, lethargy, dry skin and isomnia. Yay! But I'm really hoping to make the largest change with my eating habits.

All there is going pretty well. if I can just stay away from the processed foods a bit more (although I'm doing so much better) and stick to the real foods, I'll be good. A big part of that is continuing my habit of just buying the foods we are going to eat over the next couple days. We're going to clean out our fridge a bit more and really be eating fresh.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Choices for May

My friend Nancy and I share May as a birthday month. We're both going to think of one healthy habit to engage in for the entire month that puts our health first. While she's thinking, I've come up with mine!

I'm going to buy our dinner daily or almost daily. We have the same thing for breakfast here: I have two eggs in an organic tortilla with a tiny bit of cheese and some veggies and the kids have cereal and milk with bananas or yogurt and fruit. So I keep that on hand. I also have a sandwich (one piece of bread) for lunch most days, so I keep those supplies on hand. But for dinner, I've been eating out of the fridge and so often nothing I have matches. I have celery, but nothing to stuff it with or to cook it with (I can't stand raw celery-too blah). Sometimes i do use it in soup, but often I don't have enough soup fixings. I have a beautiful bunch of organic, local spinach that needs to be eaten, but nothing to cook it with (I'm remedying that today). So to prevent foods from going to waste, I'm going to shop more often and eat it while it's fresh!

Any other suggestions on healthy changes to make?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Welcome little Laura!

My friend and follower Ann has had her baby! Laura Violet appeared some time yesterday and is apparently doing well, as is her mother. I am continually amazed by Ann's ability to be healthy, fit and cheerful while very pregnant. Now she's going to amaze me further by continuing to do so while nursing an infant and running after her busy toddler Ray.

Having three stepchildren who appeared in my life just over a year ago—and really only in earnest since last June—I can't imagine the thrill of raising your own baby. You get to decide how you want to proceed, how much to spoil and how to pursue that goal of raising a responsible adult.

Which brings me to my real point. When you are raising your child, what would you think of a parent who chooses to put unhealthy food into that child. I rarely do it with my stepchildren. In fact, they tend to eat better than I do. So, I'm going to pretend that everything I eat, they will have to eat. I want them to have good eating habits. They serve themselves and it must include at least a bit of everything (I sneak pureed vegetables into dishes so that I don't have to force feed them vegetables). They have to clean their plate, so we tell them to start with just a little food and only add more if they are really hungry. And if they are full, they can stop—they just can't have dessert (wasting was a huge problem when we met). They are getting really good at gauging how much they want to eat and only eating that much so they have room for dessert. It's funny how kids don't really like to stuff themselves! I remember those days.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bye-Bye Soda, But I Can't Give Up Coffee

I am so darn in love with coffee, and now the new book Biggers Loser trainer Jillian Michaels has written, "Master Your Metabolism" suggests that you stop. No way Jose! I'll do a lot for weight loss—give up my favorite cereals, cut way down on bread, stop eating pasta except once a month and get rid of diet soda—but there's no way I'll give up coffee. I will, however, limit it to 2-3 cups a day. Satisfied?

Soda on the other hand is easier. I find that I still crave it at times, but when I finally get one, it doesn't taste good, which makes the weird cravings seem a bit diabolical (what is the secret ingredient?). I've never been a fan of sugar sodas because I don't really like sweets that much. On the other hand, I've been known to have up to 4 diet colas a day! I alternated loyalty between Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke—the whole Diet Dr. Pepper thing never caught on with me like it has with others I know and Diet 7-Up is a joke. It's barely even soda! But the ingredients in the diet colas have finally forced me to give it up (not to mention whatever it is that makes me crave it when I don't even like the flavor). I can no longer truck with the fake sugars, fake flavoring and other insidious miscellany.

Bye-bye soda!