Beautiful Bounty

This is a few days late since I promised to share the recipe for that pumpkin pie I mentioned on Thursday. I will say this. That night, the two of us ate half the pie! Then we finished it the next day. There is noFat Free Vegan Impossible Pie real crust on this, so it is a bit different from a traditional pie. But it’s like the filling baked alone with a kind of crust that develops. In any case, it’s delicious! I have several cans of pumpkin in the cupboard and can see us eating one a week! 🙂 Here is where you can find the recipe. I used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer and followed the directions for that amount plus water. I also was lazy and just went with pumpkin pie spice. Still, I highly recommend this recipe! The best part about it? It’s super easy!!! You stick some stuff into a blender. (We do not have a fancy, high powered blender. A regular one worked just fine.) Add a few more things and blend some more. Then pour into a pie plate and bake. Easy-peasy!

I also decided to make a full second Thanksgiving for my mom this past Saturday. She lives over an hour away so when I got home from work I ran around frantically throwing things into bags to take with us. The menu:
– Stuffed pumpkin
– Mashed potatoes
– Mashed sweet potatoes
– Dinner rolls
– Cranberry sauce
– Broccoli

On the way out, about half way, I realized I had forgotten the recipes. Oops! Luckily, I have Google on my phone. Crisis averted. I also realized I forgot the vegetable broth and oat milk I would need. So Saturday morning I woke M up and off we went to Sprouts. We got all the stuff we needed, plus a few other goodies. Once back at the house I started in the kitchen. Honestly, at this point I cannot even remember how I did everything. I just started things in pots and pans until the house smelled amazing.

I will be honest. I didn’t cook the broccoli. I know, for shame, right?

So we ate a fully plant based meal with no green vegetable except for the celery in the stuffing. As for the pumpkin, it was a very pretty presentation, but it was undercooked. I left in the oven for a full 2 hours, but it was hard Beautiful Bountyand stringy. Not the best. I would stuff a smaller squash again, maybe a sugar pie pumpkin or something in that size range. M and I also both prefer stuffing cooked in a pan so that there is more of the crispy top. Overall, though, a pretty amazing meal.

Here is the pumpkin: Stuffed Pumpkin

And dinner with a mound of dinner rolls. They were awesome!The full meal

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you enjoy the people you were with? Did you have two or more? How was the food? What is your favorite tradition?

Communion not consumption is the reason for the feast

A member in my Weight Watchers meeting said that recently. What a wonderful perspective!

This year I went for a 5k walk with several other WW members. It was chilly, but a gorgeous way to start the day. The sky was still multi-colored from the sunrise and the full moon was still out. The air was so clear that as we walked along the beach we had the most amazing view of San Francisco. And we donated food to the local food bank!

This afternoon we are going to a friend’s house. He is making turkey and ham. His mom may or may not make mac’n’cheese. I’m sure there will also be a lot of alcohol. So I am bringing mashed sweet potatoes, balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts, homemade dinner rolls, and fresh cranberry sauce. That way there is plenty for us to eat, too!

We are leaving soon, but first I am waiting while my very first impossible pie bakes. I only just heard of these this week. If it turns out well I will share the recipe. No photos of cooking today, but I will take one of my plate to share the beauty of a starchy Thanksgiving feast.

I hope everyone is spending time with loved ones and enjoying life today!

image

Communion not consumption is the reason for the feast

A member in my Weight Watchers meeting said that recently. What a wonderful perspective!

This year I went for a 5k walk with several other WW members. It was chilly, but a gorgeous way to start the day. The sky was still multi-colored from the sunrise and the full moon was still out. The air was so clear that as we walked along the beach we had the most amazing view of San Francisco. And we donated food to the local food bank!

This afternoon we are going to a friend’s house. He is making turkey and ham. His mom may or may not make mac’n’cheese. I’m sure there will also be a lot of alcohol. So I am bringing mashed sweet potatoes, balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts, homemade dinner rolls, and fresh cranberry sauce. That way there is plenty for us to eat, too!

We are leaving soon, but first I am waiting while my very first impossible pie bakes. I only just heard of these this week. If it turns out well I will share the recipe. No photos of cooking today, but I will take one of my plate to share the beauty of a starchy Thanksgiving feast.

I hope everyone is spending time with loved ones and enjoying life today!

image

A wonderful Sunday

 

45 lbs WW.jpg

This past weekend I received my 45 lbs award at Weight Watchers. It feels unreal to me that I have lost that much weight. I have never before lost this much weight at one time, doing anything! And I still don’t feel like I am on a diet.

As of my Sunday morning weigh in, I have lost a total of 46.2 lbs. I have regained a fairly normal menstrual cycle including symptoms of ovulation. I can measure my walks in miles now instead of blocks. For the most part my acne is clearing up. I still have a few breakouts throughout the month, but there are far fewer cysts to deal with. My complexion looks healthier. My skin has a natural glow now whereas before I had such a dull complexion. I have so much energy! I love to get up and take the dog for a walk, just because it feels good.

I still have issues with compliments. Yesterday and today friends told me how great I look. I still see the same body when I look in the mirror, so that is hard for me since I think I look the same. But it’s nice to get recognized. 🙂

My mother-in-law and I went for a walk on part of the SF Bay Trail. We started over where we could find parking and walked to the start of the bike bridge. It was over 3 miles each way! I was very tired when we got home, but still had enough energy for a Target run. Obviously!

While we were talking I thought about a book I recently started about a woman who did a triathlon in her 40s. She is very funny and I have been seriously thinking about doing one. I talked to a man in my meeting who does them regularly. He mentioned a series over the summer called “Tri for Fun” that is open to all levels and ages. Today I looked them up. And I’m in.

I’m going to do a triathlon next summer.

I have already found a place to practice swimming. I am not a strong swimmer. Let’s be honest here. I’m not a strong swimmer or bicycle rider and I don’t run! But I am going to train, and complete, the whole thing!

This is the gorgeous view I had on our way home last night. Love the Bay!SF Sunset 11-22-2015

Kitchen clean out plus stuffing/dressing debate

Yesterday we had to go to the store for some groceries. We both had the day off work so I was planning a special dinner – stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes. More on that later. One thing we tend to do is just wander the aisles of the store aimlessly looking at what sounds good in the moment, often forgetting key ingredients or purchasing duplicates of what we have at home. So M decided to make a list. More than that, he cleaned out the fridge. He started looking at all of the weird things we have been saving – carefully collected bacon drippings, tofu that was so old it was turning red, vegetables that were reaching liquefaction. It was pretty nasty. 🙂 Good thing he took that task on! Haha!

Next he turned to the cupboards. He actually went through all the odds and ends that I have been shoving in for the past two years that we’ve lived here and looking at what actually is okay following the dietary guidelines with which we are currently living. He even started a care bag for his parents of tuna for their cat (ours won’t touch seafood) and other new boxes of mixes that do not support our health and no longer part of what we consider food.

It was liberating and daunting all at once!

I took to two shelves where I have been stashing baking tools to make elegant cakes and other goodies, but never have. I finally let it all go. We ended up with a huge black trash bag full of stuff! Normally we carefully sort our recycling and compostable scraps out but yesterday was a trash day! I wish I had taken a picture.

Our next mission as part of Project Kitchen Clean up was to get a metal shelving rack. We have been talking about getting one for over a year and yesterday we finally had enough “extra” after paying all the bills to find it a worthy purchase. We got it home, set it up*, and filled it. We moved the microwave from the corned of the counter to the rack and moved all the spices over to the corner. It opened up a ton of space and feels so much better than the pile of stuff that had been there before. The pile included our Crock Pot, rice cooker, old water bottles, a large basket we store sweet potatoes and onions in, and more. Plus the chest freezer was totally covered in more stuff like the dog’s food and treats, the fruit bowl, and the salad spinner. Now we have a place for everything and everything is finally in its place!

*We have never successfully assembled anything together before. Usually our DIY projects start with one of us having a bright idea (more often than not me) and the other trying to help but in actuality taking the project over (M does this). There is a fight involved as the originator realizes s/he is no longer a part of the project. Mean things are said, feelings are hurt, projects are finished but don’t always resemble the initial idea, and both of us sulk. Yesterday, though, we were able to work together to assemble the shelving unit with no harsh words, no bickering, no nothing! There were a few tense moments in the beginning as we figured out how to do it without it falling apart, but we got it. By the last shelf it was smooth as silk. A major first for us! 🙂 Love that guy!!!

After we finished the kitchen, I needed a nap! M went to visit a friend down from Washington State. When I was rested I started on dinner.

Months ago I bought an acorn squash with the noble idea of baking it with cinnamon and salt, and even a little butter. This was before I went to a starch based diet. I never made it, though. Eventually it went from green with an orange spot to all orange. By the time I fished it out of the fruit bowl yesterday it was starting to look a little deflated. Oops. I love acorn squash, but firmly recommend eating them when they are still firm!

My plan was to make stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes and parsnips. Even with our good intentioned list I still forgot to buy the parsnips. Oh well. I cubed about 1/3 a

croutons
Vegan, oil-free, homemade croutons. YUM!!!

loaf of bread into 1/2″ cubes. I spread them on a rimmed baking sheet then sprayed lightly with Bragg’s and seasoned with a bit of poultry seasoning and garlic powder. I baked at 300 degrees (F) for 30 minutes stirring about halfway through. They turned into the best homemade croutons I have ever had! Granted, I have never had homemade croutons before, but they were delicious anyway!

 

While those were cooling, I got started on the rest. No matter what I am cooking, I love to start with an onion. I understand no everyone likes onions as much as I do. Feel free to use less! The nice thing is that I cook them enough to sweeten them and cook out all of the sharpness. They add such a wonderful flavor to the food and the house smells amazing as

vegetable goodness
Can’t you just smell it?

they sizzle on the stove. I heated a large, heavy, non-stick pan with a bit of water and thinly sliced an onion. I threw the slices in and let them work their magic while I chopped three celery ribs into small pieces. That went in on top of the onions. I then took the stems off of three large white mushrooms (the caps were about 3″ across!), cut off the dirty end, and chopped them finely. The stems are pretty woody when the caps get that big so I added them next so they would soften. Next I chopped the caps and added those. Periodically I added more water and stirred every so often to let everything cook evenly. When all the vegetables were nice and soft I added Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and a bit of salt. Then I chopped an apple into it and threw in a handful of currants, just for good measure.

 

I put the croutons in a mixing bowl and poured the vegetables over them. I stirred it all together adding vegetable broth until everything was moist. I let that sit while I prepared the squash:
– Chop the squash in half using the stem as the midpoint.
– Scoop out all the seeds and strings.
– Question the safety of eating this very old squash.
– Rinse if needed.

I put the squash on my cutting board to hopefully keep things tidy as I stuffed. Then I just heaped spoonfuls of stuffing in and pressed them in tightly with my hands and the spoon. When they were both as full as I could get them I put them into a glass loaf pan. There was still quite a bit of stuffing left over so that went into a baking dish!

Recently we had a conversation at work about stuffing vs. dressing. Which is which? We could not determine to our satisfaction the correct answer so asked Google. It turns out there is not really a difference, it’s mostly just where you’re

before baking
Stuffing or dressing? Why not both?!

from and which tradition you follow. I personally like the idea that stuffing goes into something and dressing is cooked in a pan, but it’s just semantics at that point.

 

They were covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes then uncovered and baked another 30 minutes. Two things that would have improved it at this point:
1. Adding some water to the squash pan would have prevented the scorching that affected the bottom of the squash. It probably would have made the squash more tender, as well.
2. Lining the baking dish with parchment paper or a very light coating of grease would have helped it release more easily. I had a few croutons that were pretty stuck to the bottom!

I also realized that I had no desire to wash the big pot to boil potatoes. Luckily for me, M had baked some sweet potatoes a few days ago and there was one left. I skinned it and heated it with some plain, unsweetened oat milk, mashing with a spoon as it cooked. I added a splash of maple syrup, a nice sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. It turned into the most amazing sweet potato mash ever!

Dinner turned out pretty good. I was quite pleased with myself, obviously. And I am so happy that I figured out how

plate of stuffed squash dressing and sweet potatoes
I ate some of the squash before I remembered to take a picture. 🙂 It was that good of a dinner!

to make amazing croutons! Here is the finished dinner. If you feel so inclined, give one of these ideas a try for Thanksgiving!

 

Whatever you make, however you celebrate, I hope this is a time of happiness and love for everyone!

What does change really look like?

I have been having an issue lately with the compliments I get. Everyone acknowledges that they can see that I’ve lost weight. No problem there since I’ve lost over 40 lbs. Then they tell me how great I look. That’s the problem. I think I look the same. I have been having this issue with how I see myself. Every time I look down, I see my belly as I always have. When I look in the mirror I see the same face looking back.

I feel different. I have much more energy than I used to have. I am also stronger with more endurance. When we first started walking I would run out of energy so quickly. I remember the first time we walked around Lake Merritt in Oakland – 5.5 k or 3.4 miles around. I was so tired and sore I could barely walk for the rest of the day. Now I am able to get a few miles in before lunch and still walk the dog in the evening!

I also like to get up and move. Two years ago I could sit on the couch watching TV all day long, only getting up to get food or water or use the toilet. Now I can watch about an hour and a half before I am literally antsy. The dog loves it! He is always up for another midday walk. Sometimes we head to the parks and hit the trails, other times we just explore our neighborhood. We have a lot of hills around us so I can always find a new path to challenge me. And he loves all the new smells.

I also know that I have hit my comfort level with eating following the McDougall Program. I always know what is okay to eat. And I know how to bring food with me everywhere I go. I love to eat the same kinds of foods but I change the flavorings or cooking method to keep it interesting. I know the foods that are easy to snack on and what foods are special foods since they require more effort to prepare. It definitely takes the stress off to have the food side of it figured out.

All of these are great measures of progress that have nothing to do with how I look. I am proud of how well I am doing. I feel amazing. I am even okay with the plateau I’m on right now. The only problem is that I still think I look the same. So here is a comparison showing me for the past few Octobers. I realized when looking for these pictures that I don’t take that many pictures of myself so it was hard to find good pictures that show my face. Two are right before work, one is just out of bed. They are all just me.Comparison - October 13 to 15

What does change look like for you? What can you see? What can you feel?

Living on a plateau

I can see the edge. On one side of me it slopes up, fairly steeply, to my starting weight. On the other side is an abyss of the unknown. That side is where my end is, far out of sight, at this point a mere illusion. Somewhere down there beneath the fog surrounding this precipice is true health and my end weight. It’s still a blur since I don’t have a weight I am getting back to, like my wedding weight or high school weight that is a healthy end goal. I am venturing into a realm I have never existed in before.

When I first started this journey I was losing weight very quickly. The first week I lost over 5 lbs. There are still times when the weight comes off so quickly it scares me a little. And there are a lot of emotions that come up as the weight comes off. When it is too rapid I get uneasy and feel like I’m in a bit of a free fall. So hitting a plateau or even a slight gain helps me regain my footing a bit.

I think that is what has been going on. I lost a lot of weight very quickly, 40 lbs in less than 4 months. That left me unsure of where I am at and where I am going. I also have a lot of emotional knots around Thanksgiving.

My sister recently visited from Europe with her baby which was amazing. During that time we had a family/friend party that brought up a lot of the same dysfunctional family dynamics that make November such a difficult month. There was a very tense moment between my mom and grandma that left everyone else uncomfortable. The party was open-house style on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night after we finished cleaning up I was so unhappy that as I sat at the kitchen table crying I told my mom that I wanted to eat until I couldn’t feel anything anymore. It was the first time in my life that I have ever acknowledged that tendency out loud in the moment of crisis. I did not binge. Instead I went to bed with the ball of misery sitting on my chest. Sunday morning I was up early with my nieces who had spent the night. We watched a few cartoons, then I was out the door to Weight Watchers. It was a great meeting and a wonderful celebration for my 40 lbs award. As soon as I got back to the house, though, the mayhem continued. After the first few people arrived I excused myself and took my time styling my hair and putting on some makeup. I was having a hard time since every few minutes I would burst into tears. But I eventually put on a cute dress, hardened a smile onto my face, and went out to spend time with the growing crowd.

The next morning we had a visit from another friend. She arrived while I was eating breakfast, still in my pjs. She and my mom got into it over how things had been handled with my grandma. Since this was about a month before everyone was supposed to go back to my mom’s for Thanksgiving I tried to steer the conversation toward a resolution. What’s done is done. How can we move forward in a way that makes gatherings better for everyone? This resulted in a conversation that lasted hours during which we voiced hurts that have been haunting us for years. My mom has traumas she has been carrying around since childhood. I have traumas I have been carrying around since childhood. My sister has traumas she has been carrying around since childhood. I cannot even recall most of what came out that day. I just remember sitting at the dining table with tears streaming down my face and my sister sitting across from me staring at me with such intensity whispering that she can see how much I am suffering. I felt visible for the first time ever. It was very intense.

I am not sure what that conversation accomplished. It left me feeling so ragged. I will say that my sister was amazing. The way she looked at me and hugged me when I needed it, I don’t even have words for. I was able to say some things that had been festering inside for years. It was such a relief to get them out. Like lancing an abscess. But what now? How do encourage healing? How do I move forward with the rest of my life? How do I let those old hurts go?

I am not sure of what the answers are for any of those questions. I do know that I am not going to the family Thanksgiving this year. While that is a huge weight off of my shoulders, I am sad that I am going to miss seeing my cousins, aunts and uncles, and everyone else. But I am very glad that I get to avoid the negativity that surrounds my experience of every Thanksgiving with my grandma.

With all of this bubbling up to the surface lately I am not surprised that I haven’t lost any weight since my sister left. This year I miss her more than I have in a long time.

I am trying to deal with all of these emotions and release the ones that are no longer helping me. It is not an easy task. I do know that this is a huge part of the plateau. When I am able to get past the emotional stuff I will move past this weight. I think patience is one of the hardest parts of losing weight. Sometimes, though, there is nothing I can do to speed it up and this is just one of those times.

In the meantime, I changed work locations so I no longer have a 2 to 3 hour commute. I have been taking the bus which requires a moderate amount of brisk walking on top of the dog walking I usually do. It feels so good to start my day by getting my blood flowing! I arrive to work early (most days) with a gorgeous flush that looks like what professional makeup artists use a ton of blush to achieve. It also makes me feel very accomplished to hit my step goal so early in the day. I do think it’s time to up my goal, though. 🙂

For now, I am just going to live on this plateau. I will walk around the edges, look up at where I came from, look down at where I’m going, and enjoy the view. I feel so much better physically than I have in such a long time. I love having the energy to go walking as often as I do. I love feeling pretty with no makeup and seeing my skin continue to improve every month. So why not enjoy where I am at this point in my journey? Sure I wish the scale was moving down again, but maybe I just need to take this time to see why my heart is so heavy before my body will release any more weight. That is my focus for now.

Enjoy your fall! I hope everyone has a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving with people you love. I also hope Halloween was great for you. 🙂 Here is my makeup for the work costume contest. I had skeleton arm warmers, too. Fun!Halloween 15

Confession time.

When I first created this blog I was fully on the paleo program. I actually started it during a 3 week detox from sugar. At the time, I had lost some weight – about 30 lbs. I was happy to get to eat real butter, eggs, and bacon without worrying that I was ruining my diet. I truly thought that I would be able to “lose the weight” while eating a full-fat diet. I probably got about 50% or more of my calories at that time from fat. I added extra oil and bacon grease to all of my vegetables. I made pancakes with no flour, but tons of butter and eggs. I ate nuts and coconut flakes regularly for snacks.

It was delicious, but the longer I did it, the slower my weight loss got until I started gaining again. I looked online for answers and found that I was not being strict enough. So I went on the autoimmune protocol. It cut most vegetables that I was eating – like tomatoes – and all dairy out along with several spices and many other basic ingredients. I remember at that time I made my own turkey sausage patties. They actually turned out quite tasty, but it was so restrictive and miserable for me. The whole time I was looking at how my whole body was functioning. My skin was still so dry it would crack and bleed on my hands. My periods were incredibly heavy, painful, and irregular. My face was constantly broken out. Nothing was working at all. I was even starting to have anxiety about eating anything I didn’t make myself.

Finally I gave up and stopped doing paleo. I read a few books at the time about intuitive eating and recovering from super restrictive dieting. They helped me get past my fear of eating grains and legumes and I went back to typical American foods. I can admit now that I overdid it. I ended up gaining about 100 lbs to my all time high of 358. Eventually I rejoined Weight Watchers and lost a little, but not much. This year it was finding the McDougall program that truly changed my life.

So my big confession is that I have not always eaten a low fat, starch based diet. I used to eat a ton of meat. And I truly enjoy the taste of cheeseburgers. But the secret is that these foods do not support health. The higher my fat and protein intake went the worse my overall health markers got. Within two months of following the McDougall program my periods regulated. I have been experiencing a normal cycle ever since. I even showed symptoms of ovulation this month! That was spectacular since I haven’t seen that since I was in high school – before I started birth control pills.

I know for certain that my body thrives with a low fat, starch based diet. I will never stop using starch as the basis for my meals. I am sure that occasionally when I am at a healthy weight with minimal fluctuations I will add in some fat as a treat. Like a dollop of tahini in hummus once a month or tofu mayonnaise salad for a holiday. But everyday my meals will be like they are today. Low fat and starch centered. I love oatmeal for breakfast, and sometimes dinner. I snack on bread daily. I love sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of salt. This is sustainable. I never feel deprived of anything that I truly want because if I want it that badly I eat it.

The hubs and I just joined a gym in our neighborhood that offers low membership fees and includes training groups. I took a class yesterday and told the trainer about my ultimate fitness goal: I want to do real, adult, not-girl-style pushups. That’s my big dream in terms of fitness. I have never done a real one. My torso has always been too heavy for my strength level. The trainer thought about it, looked at me, and then said that he knows I can do it. He said that if I take the rest of the classes they offer he will show me everything I need to know to build up my muscles and with a sensible eating plan I will get there. I felt so encouraged! I am hesitant to talk about his eating plan, though. If it includes meat or dairy it’s out! I’m not really trying to look like a body builder, though, so I’m sure he’ll be okay if I just keep doing the exercises and check in with him regularly.

That’s it for now. 🙂 What are your fitness goals? What is that one thing you have always wanted to do? Share your journey!

4 months as a McDougaller

As of today I have been following the McDougall Program for 4 months. In that time I have lost more than 40 lbs. I have also regulated my periods. My skin looks amazing. I have digestive regularity. I eat whenever I am hungry (when I have food). And I never restrict anything I truly want. The funny thing is, though, since I switched to this way of eating I haven’t wanted anything off plan except pumpkin pie with my sister. So I had a piece. It took two days to eat it. And it was worth every bite. I tell people about my diet, but I am definitely not on a Diet. I intend to eat this way for the rest of my life. And I love it!

So what does this look like in a day? I almost always eat oatmeal for breakfast. I learned a great trick which is to put quick-cooking oats in a bowl and pour boiling water over them then cover for 10 minutes. Perfect! I usually just eyeball it to about half a bowl of oats, then add dried or freeze dried fruit like currants, blueberries, strawberries, or apples. I add enough water to fill the bowl then cover with a plate. While it steeps I do my hair and makeup for work or watch tv or take the dog for a walk. When I’m ready to eat I add a little brown sugar and sometimes cinnamon then stir it up and enjoy! I actually like to make it on the thicker side so I can eat it on my way to work. 🙂 What else are red lights for?

Lunch is often leftovers from dinner. I have also been enjoying Dr. McDougall’s soup cups. The chicken ramen is my favorite. I also went through a period where I ate a bag of frozen corn and a bag of mixed vegetables. Sometimes I bring plain potatoes and make sandwiches with some ketchup and a sprinkle of salt. Now there are brands of frozen steamed rice. Occasionally I’ll go out to eat. I like sushi (all vegetables) or pizza with no cheese or meat and lots of veggies.

I snack a lot during the day. I eat bread right out of the bag – usually Alvarado Street Bakery. Sometimes I treat myself to a loaf of sourdough bread, though, when I’m feeling indulgent. I also have been known to buy Red Vines. Once I even got some sugar snap peas and baby carrots! I also like the applesauce pouches for when my blood sugar feels very low.

Dinner is usually where I put the most effort. I like to cook with a range of flavors. I love Mexican because salsa adds so much flavor without much fat. I like to make other ethnic foods as well like the Kenyan food and fried rice I made awhile back. Ethnic foods are so great since they have so much flavor. Standard American fare tends to focus on meats and cheese-heavy dishes. So the variety of flavor offered from cuisines around the world is refreshing and, quite literally, enlightening. The biggest point I can make for dinner is to eat food that fills you up in a way that makes you feel healthy. That is my priority. I like to be filled up comfortably with warm food that fuels my life.

I also walk everyday with my dog and sometimes my husband. I wear a pedometer with a goal of 6000 steps a day. Most days I meet it, some days I far exceed it. I have discovered recently that I am taking fewer steps on the same walk. So the dog and I are going for longer and longer walks. He loves it! He knows when we are doing a longer walk based on which way we go at an intersection. I love how enthusiastic he is about our walks, too. Last weekend we went to a park I went to for day camp as a kid. We walked about 3 miles in a light drizzle. It was such a great walk! But we never push past where I am comfortable. I do not force myself to exercise when I don’t feel like it, unless I am home alone and the dog needs a walk. But then he is very understanding. 🙂 What a good boy! I love that I enjoy my daily walks and actually feel it in my legs when I am too sedentary. I used to be able to ignore the feeling and just keep sitting but now I get up and go for a quick stroll. At work I walk around the building, go to another business nearby for something, or just stand and work for a bit. At home I strap on the leash and we hit the pavement. Even 20 minutes refreshes me. The best part, though, is how good it feels. I WANT to walk.

Happy dog
Happy dog

It is not all sugar and spice, though. I am struggling with how I look. I don’t see any change in the size of my belly. I understand that I have lost some size since I had to buy smaller pants, but what I see when I look down is the same that it has always been. That is a challenge. I also am having an issue with feeling vulnerable without the buffer of fat. I still have plenty, but almost everyone who hasn’t seen me in awhile tells me how great I look. It makes me feel very uncomfortable since I don’t think I look that different and I don’t think I looked that bad. Or maybe I never think I look that good. It’s hard to say which. In any case, I am not quite sure how to respond. I usually try to focus on how I feel and my health improvements instead of how I look.

I am also having a major struggle with the idea of conception. I am terrified to get pregnant right now since I am still so far from healthy. But I also am terrified about waiting any longer since I am now 33 1/2. What if I lose all the weight to get to a healthy BMI and still can’t get pregnant? What if there is some residual damage from being so obese for so much of my life? What if I am totally fertile and still can’t get pregnant? These thoughts are circling my consciousness these days. I want so much to go through the process of having a baby and raising my child. But what if it never happens? Will I always have this gnawing feeling? Will it always make me feel so left out when my friends talk about their kids? Will I ever accept that this could be it for me? I don’t know.

I will say that my PCOS is much better on this starch-based diet than it ever has been before. My periods used to be so painful I would have to take 800 mg of ibuprofen at a time to feel any relief at all. I also was glued to my heating pad and constantly shifting positions to keep the pain at bay enough that I wasn’t in tears. It didn’t always work. Now I often go through whole days with no medication at all. When I do need it, 200 to 400 mg is sufficient to manage my cramping. The improvement in my cystic acne is amazing as well! I currently get a few small pimples here and there and usually one cyst near my chin, but I don’t have a rash of pustules anymore! I can leave the house without any foundation and still feel okay about how I look. That is HUGE for me!

Obviously I am still a work in progress. But I’m okay with that. I just want to be the best me that I can be. As long as I continue to improve I am happy. And every day I continue to make choices that benefit me in the long run. So I’m doing well. All in all, I am confident in the fact that this is how I will be eating and exercising for a long time to come. 🙂