I can’t live without…

I have now lost a substantial amount of weight. I am closing in on 60 lbs. So it is noticeable. Naturally in our superficial and fat obsessed society I am asked quite often about what I eat. Yesterday I saw some people I haven’t seen in a few months. One was very interested and said she would give it a try. A coworker overheard and started asking me questions, too. She then said that she can’t live without potato chips. She has to have them everyday; they are her favorite. Another coworker has told me in the past that she could never eat like I do because she needs meat everyday. She said she is a carnivore. A third has told me she needs protein because when she eats carbs she gets very hungry and craves carbs.

I am not quite sure what it is about our society or our nature that prompts us to see someone getting a result we want and then immediately dismiss whatever that person is doing as not feasible for whatever reason. It could be that we are just constantly searching for a magic bullet. Or that we secretly wish we can still eat all the junk foods we want and will all of a sudden start getting healthier and losing weight.

I was thinking about this kind of reaction recently. I am now at the point where Round Table Pizza commercials make me feel sick to my stomach. I used to love their pizza! But now I just feel queasy and gross at the thought of eating cheese, pepperoni, bacon, or any of the other greasy stuff on there.

That brings me to my next thought: Would you rather feel like you can’t live without cheese or bacon or burgers or fried chicken or whatever it is that you currently feel addicted to? Or would it be better to stop eating those foods, switch to whole, plant foods, and get past the addiction? I know a few people who have quit cigarettes. While the quitting process is never easy, everyone knows that cigarettes are very harmful and that quitting is the right choice. So how is diet different?

I think truly the hardest part of switching to WFPBNO (whole food, plant based, no oil) is the convenience factor. There are just so many foods out there that are so easy to heat’n’eat or just eat straight that are simply horrible for our health. I work inside a grocery store so all day long I see the foods that are profitable. These are not health foods! And most people do not buy a cart full of fruits and vegetables.

We are literally addicted to foods that are killing us. I am so glad that I was able to break out of that cycle! I cannot live without my greens, beans, fruits, potatoes, and other healthy foods. And I very much prefer my life this way!

What can you not live without? What are your favorite foods? What makes you feel the healthiest?

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Beans and greens

I am reading How Not to Die right now. I am in the second section. What I have read so far has me eating a lot of beans and greens! But the question that I am facing is how to eat them in a way that tastes good.

I bought several 1 lb bags of mixed greens at Whole Foods the other day. I also bought a ton (like, two full bags worth) of dried garbanzo beans. That is one of my favorite beans. I like how it stays firm, even after cooking, but not in an undercooked kind of way. I soaked a couple cups worth of beans and cooked them plain. I probably overcooked them a little, the liquid was like a gel! But they are perfect for me. I threw about half a bag’s worth of greens in a pot and seasoned them then added some beans for an easy dinner.

beans n greens
Garbanzo beans with mixed greens

I also tried to make nacho cheese style roasted chickpeas. I should have rinsed the thick liquid off first! They didn’t quite turn into what I had hoped for, but they were tasty. Yesterday for lunch I ate some with arugula and salsa. Then for dinner I added the rest of the bag of greens, some salsa, and the rest of the not-cho beans to a pot and heated through. M roasted some sweet potatoes and carrots. The combo was delightful! I even had some fresh corn tortillas to eat with dinner. Yummy!

I have been really focusing on getting those extra servings of greens and beans in for all of the amazing phytonutrients, anticancer effects, and weight loss benefits. The past two days alone I have lost 1/2 lb per day! So I would say that greens and beans are a winning combination.

What are your special tricks for weight loss? Do you have any foods that you try to eat everyday for a health benefit? What is your favorite bean or greens recipe? Share in the comments!

Food for thought

I have been busy watching political documentaries on Netflix lately. A few months ago we watched Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen that yet, it is a great breakdown on why choosing plant foods is the best for our health. The more plants we eat, the better our bodies function and are able to fight diseases. The more animal foods we eat, the worse everything works. This does not mean you need to go 100% vegan for the rest of your life, but it means cutting meat and dairy (combined) to a few ounces a month is the safest choice if you choose to eat it at all. This also doesn’t mean that “vegan” is a healthy choice. Potato chips are vegan, but no one will ever argue that anything deep fried is healthy. What I am coming to understand is that plant foods as close to their natural state as possible are the healthiest to eat.

The next one we watched was called Cowspiracy. This one hit me pretty hard. I grew up in California in the midst of the last big drought. I have heard about water conservation efforts my entire life. It even carried over to when we lived in Oregon. I would take dishwater out to the garden instead of pouring it down the drain! This film truly opened my eyes to how ridiculous all of this is in the face of how much animal agriculture we as a society use. The amount of water that goes into a pound of cheese or a steak is simply staggering. Not to mention the environmental devastation caused by toxic runoff. There were a few scenes that were too graphic for me. I had to cover my eyes a few times. But it was an amazing movie with such fantastic information. I strongly encourage everyone to watch it, especially anyone who considers themselves in anyway an environmentalist.

We also watched one called Living on One Dollar. This was all about what people who are living below the poverty line go through on a daily basis. Two economics students took two film students to Guatemala for 8 weeks and the four of them lived on $1 per day each. There was so much beauty and so much sadness in this one. What people go through is simply astounding. But there was so much love and generosity there, too. It shed a light on the struggles that so many of us never have to worry about. The idea of paying $25 for medicine when the daily income is so low and not guaranteed was simply overwhelming.

I also recently read a book called Proteinaholic that discussed the physiological effects of eating too much meat and dairy. It has cemented for me the idea that vegetables are what humans should eat. The amount of disease that comes from eating too much animal protein (and really, there doesn’t seem to actually be a safe threshold on this) is simply too big to truly comprehend.

With all of these things mulling in my brain I have been thinking about self-sufficiency – or at least reduced dependence – and how the government and medical establishment share information about how our diet is affecting us as people and as a species.

There is so much information about how meat and dairy affect us negatively. Why are we still being told to eat so much? It seems like every other commercial on TV is pushing some meat or dairy product or at least protein. Have you ever heard of anyone actually being protein deficient who wasn’t also literally starving?

The answer is no.

Protein is so important to all life forms that there is an abundance of it in everything we eat. As long as you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

So what is going on here? We are constantly being told to eat more protein. It has gotten to the point that people don’t even identify meat on their plate anymore – it is simply called the protein. But that’s not truly accurate. Chicken and beef contain fat, as well.

Also, did you know that the RDA amount is not a minimum threshold we need to meet everyday but the ideal amount? So if adults are supposed to get about 50 grams of protein a day and we can get all we need from plant foods, why would we risk making ourselves sick with too much protein plus all the other bad stuff like saturated fat, cholesterol, and pathogenic microbes in meat?

What are your thoughts on this? Do you ever worry about the percentage of your macronutrient intake? Do you ever count grams of any of them? Do you think about the true cost of eating meat and dairy – both to your health and to the planet? Share in the comments!

Looking good?

I know this is a recurring theme with me, but M told me that I look smaller today. I understand that I have lost a significant amount of weight. I also understand that I am going to lose more weight. But what does looking smaller mean? I asked if I look good. He said yes. I said than say that! So he told me that smaller looks good. Good grief!

I want to be smaller. I want to lose the excess weight that I have carried for far too long. But I don’t think that that affects my beauty in any way. However beautiful I ever am I always am.

So what should we say to people who lose a large amount of weight? Maybe we can ask if they have lost any and how they are feeling. Maybe we can notice things like their improved energy level or self-confidence. Maybe we can simply realize that someone else’s weight is not really any of our business and leave their health concerns between them and their medical professional.

I just wish people would see me as a person instead of a fat person. I’m sure that will happen soon enough, but will I have to go out and meet all new people?

In other news, we went to the gym today. I had planned on going swimming at a local pool, but with the current storm and chill in the air (leave me alone about being in the 50s, okay? I know I’m a baby!) neither of us really wanted to go swimming. So we took the dog for a walk in a downpour then came home, changed and hit the gym. I did a little more than 3 miles on a stationary bike and almost a mile on a treadmill then thoroughly stretched. It felt great. I was very tired when I finished. And hungry!!!

When we got home I ate a burrito bowl: rice, “refried” beans, cucumber, shredded carrots, and lettuce. I put some sweet chili sauce on it and 20151201_203753.jpgchowed down! Delicious!!! If you have never had sweet chili sauce, I highly recommend it. We are about halfway through a large bottle I bought on Monday! And it tastes great on just about everything. Seriously, try it. AMAZING!!!

Tonight’s dinner is not quite figured out, but I have a head of cabbage, 3 leeks, and some mushrooms in the fridge. I started some rice and split peas soaking. Have you ever added split peas to your brown rice? The texture is fantastic! I did 2 cups rice with 1 cup of mixed green and yellow split peas. I’ll cook it in the rice cooker tonight and probably sauté the vegetables or maybe make a soup. In any case, I’m sure it will be a warm and tasty dinner. 🙂

How is December going for you? Are you ready for 2016? Any challenges in the coming weeks? How do you plan to deal with them?

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!

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. 🙂

10% gone, now what?

Last Sunday I hit my 10% weight loss goal at my Weight Watchers meeting. It was fun to celebrate and I am very proud of myself for the hard work I have put in to change my health for good. And yet, I feel almost lost now. What do I focus on next? My ultimate goal is still so far away I cannot even fathom focusing on that yet. I could just focus on getting below 300 lbs, but that seems almost anticlimactic since it’s about half of what I have done so far.

I also have no idea what my life or my identity will look like when I get to “goal.” What is “goal” anyway? It’s definitely not a finish line where now I’m done. My health is a life-long commitment and I will work every single day for the rest of my life to ensure I don’t end up as sick as I have been. I also know for certain that if I stop following Dr. McDougall’s general dietary recommendations I will regain my weight and end up right back where I started. Or heavier.

I have had people recently tell me that it’s okay to eat oil every now and then and also that it’s not like I’m allergic to it. However, we took my uncle out last weekend for his birthday and my food was SO OILY that I was sick to my stomach for a few days. I ate only cooked vegetables so I could not have gotten sick from bad meat or any of the other things that causes tummy troubles from eating out. I know for certain that it was the excess fat in the meal that made me sick.

One thing I’m afraid of is that I will have to constantly fight with people to justify eating the way I am, even when my meals do not affect them in any way! Why are people so defensive about their food choices that someone choosing to eat differently is such a threat? I don’t understand that.

I am also dealing with some fear of losing weight at this point. When I was young I was assaulted by a man who tried to rape me. It sucked and I didn’t know what to do so I internalized it. I know that I have used my fat as a buffer to keep me feeling safe. But I had this physique when that happened and I still get unwanted attention, as big as I am now. So what can I do to make myself feel safe now? I am not sure. I am working on addressing the fear as it arises and strengthening my body so that I feel powerful. I also will probably take a self defense class in the next few months. I think that’s all I can do for now. But it’s enough and I’m okay.

In the meantime and in keeping with the ideas I brought up in my last post (found here) I am working on liking myself without a lot of modification. About two weeks ago I stopped using shampoo. Then a week ago I stopped using face wash. I am using way less makeup and trying to find ways to style my hair without a lot of heat. This is what I looked like today before I left for work.

No 'poo for the win!
No ‘poo for the win!

I am happy with how I look today, even though I used a curling and a flat iron. But overall, I am doing way less to make my hair presentable and I am so happy I don’t need to put on foundation anymore. I am wearing a bit of concealer under my eyes and a touch of cover up on my acne spots with a light dusting of powder to set it. I also do eyeliner and mascara just about everyday. Today I added a quick swipe of a creamy, sparkly gold shadow pencil over the regular liner. Compare that routine to what I used to do: foundation, concealer, cover up, powder, blush, bronzer, highlighter, eye shadow base, two to three colors of eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, eyebrow pencil. I did that everyday for years! So it is very refreshing and empowering for me to be able to show so much skin on my face with confidence.

If you are interested in learning about why I don’t use shampoo anymore, ask me in the comments. There are a ton of people who do “no ‘poo” and I love how soft my hair is already. Here are a few more silly pictures I took. I am happy that I am starting to like my natural self. 🙂

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My new persona

In the past week I have been called inspiring, brave, and a role model. I am quite taken aback by this because in all honesty I’m just talking out loud (or here) about my experiences. A fellow Weight Watchers member remarked that I did a drastic diet change. I started talking to him about why and what the true motivation behind this life-altering dietary path was. It was amazing to have such positive feedback from just telling my story.

What’s funny about that is that I love success stories. I love reading or hearing about how someone else lost weight, what they were thinking, how they changed their diet and activity, and how it changed how they see themselves. There is another Weight Watcher I am still star-struck by. He lost over 100 lbs and is a fantastic individual. I love that he friended me on Facebook and still get excited when he wants to talk to me at meetings. I see myself dealing with so many of the same challenges that face him every day. So why would I not think anyone might see me in the same way?

One thing I do is show how vulnerable I am. I talk openly about my feelings, my weaknesses, and when I’m struggling. I also like to share what is helping and working well. I think, though, it’s seeing someone overcome some kind of adversity that makes that person seem more inspiring. And in that way, I am happy to continue sharing the hard parts along this journey. 🙂

I am noticing, though, that my reaction is changing. Since I started following Dr. McDougall’s recommendations I am eating a lot more carbohydrate than I used to which is giving me a TON of energy. I don’t think that was enough emphasis. I have A TON of energy!!! These days I am waking up on my own usually between 530 and 6 am. I don’t usually get up, but I have some quiet time to read while the hubs sleeps a little more. Then around 7 I get up and take Sammy for his morning stroll. If M is around and has time he comes, too. It’s not too far, just around the outside of two city blocks that includes a slight incline/decline depending on direction. But it’s about 1500 steps and 20 minutes of nice movement. Then I do my regular workday stuff. At work I sit at a desk in a highly visible workspace so I don’t have much freedom in terms of office workouts. However, the building is nice a big so several times a day I take a lap. If there are a lot of people in my path I zigzag through the aisles adding more steps along the way. I find that I actually need to do this since sitting for too long is causing discomfort in my legs. What?! Yes. Amazing, right?! When I get home I am usually pretty antsy since I sit in a decent amount of traffic. I change my clothes quickly and M and Sammy and I head out. In the evenings we go for a much longer walk, often about twice as the usual two-block walk, sometimes more. Recently we went up the hills a few blocks from us. Each time we go I get stronger and can take more incline, which is great! Most days I walk between 6000 and 8000 steps. Some days, usually my off days, we do much more. Yesterday we did over 13,000 including a trip to the store. Today, my feet are sore, but I still have energy!

I am trying to figure out how to walk without hurting myself, though. I am currently wearing some shoes that were designed as walking shoes. However, I am reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (I don’t think there’s a relation to the Dr.) which talks specifically about the biomechanics involved in moving forward. The book is specifically about running, obviously, but has made me aware of my foot strike and shoe issues. I have been reading about how to strengthen my feet so that they can support me in motion without causing me to limp for a day or so afterward. Eventually I hope to run in the style described in the book. Having less weight will help, but having the right form is better.

A year ago I would not have believed it if someone told me that I would want to start running. I have always hated running. The only game that uses running I ever liked was tennis and I haven’t played that since the summer before 5th grade! In middle and high school I was never able to run a full mile. I could run and walk together, but my best time was still about 15 minutes. No records broken here! Yet, I feel something in me when we go into the woods yearning to just take off like a wild spirit. I also feel it as we walk around the lake or along the beach. It’s something in the wind. Reading this book has given me hope that I may be able to learn a technique that will allow me to start running in a way that won’t cause permanent damage and will let me go far enough to feel that freedom I long for.

I am starting to feel it when I walk. Especially in the woods. I told M yesterday that I am starting to feel peace in my heart. It is like a small lake, surrounded by mountains, with crystal blue water and a mirror-like smoothness. Not a single ripple across the whole surface. It is simply beautiful. When I told my mom about the inner lake she asked me if I understand what she always meant when she told me to “let it go.” I said I was starting to get it. She said that was the best news I’ve ever told her in my 33 years of life. It was a great conversation.

I know a lot of the changes have to do with the antidepressant I am taking. I don’t know if I will ever not need to take it. But that’s okay. It is simply one more tool I am using to live the life I want. A lot of it has to do with the foods I’m eating as well. Having so much extra energy in my body has literally caused me to want to get up and go for a walk when no amount of guilt or rationale worked. I honestly WANT to get up and go for another walk! It’s amazing! The diet has cause physiological changes that are affecting my mental and emotional state. The interconnectedness is astounding. And who knew something as simple as boiled potatoes and sprouted whole wheat bread would have such a far-reaching effect on my whole life?

I am adjusting to this new part of me as well as I can. It is surreal to receive such positive feedback from so many people. It is also a little strange to feel so happy and motivated! After so many years of wanting to stay in bed all day I kind of love getting out of the house. I do worry about a relapse so I try to just take it one day at a time. I rarely make advanced plans, just in case. But on a whim I am finding myself up for just about anything! And I love it!

Doctor appointment and my progress

I saw a fertility doctor in June who got a fire under my butt about my health. I honestly did not know the effects of estrogen dominance other than my cycle was always wonky. But that appointment was truly a turning point in my life. I am so grateful that I found how beneficial a starch-based diet is for anyone with excess estrogen in her body. I went for a follow up visit not long ago and this is where I am now.

My blood pressure was still elevated, but not as much. I know that a lot of it has to do with the stress of dealing with fertility issues and the guilt associated with losing two pregnancies while trying to move forward. I was also a little nervous about talking to my doctor about the diet I’m using since not all medical professionals appreciate the value of a very low fat, whole food, starch-based diet. Plus we were getting the results of my husband’s semen analysis so there was another thing to stress about. I know that my everyday blood pressure is fine. I can feel when it rises. I feel the thumping of my pulse and the tightness in my chest. I know when it goes up before a doctor visit. I work in a grocery store that has a blood pressure machine and think I’m going to start checking it, just to see. I also might buy a monitor for home use. I checked them out at Walgreens yesterday. Not right away, but a good investment in my health for sure.

My weight has dropped quite a bit. In the time between visits I lost 19.4 lbs at Weight Watchers, including losing over 5% of my starting weight. I am thrilled with that. One thing the doctor said in the initial visit was that even if the excess fat was not specifically causing adverse effects on my fertility it was still a good idea to lose as much weight as possible to have the healthiest pregnancy and least complicated delivery possible. As I have been learning about the health effects of obesity I can completely agree with that point. Excess adipose tissue takes up valuable space that the placenta and fetus need to grow into. I am crushing my organs with the fat built up in my chest and abdominal cavities. The best thing I can do for myself and my future child(ren) is lose as much of the extra weight as possible BEFORE I conceive. I also have been reading about the negative effects of toxic buildup released from fat cells as pregnant women burn through their fat stores. Knowing this I feel that much more strongly that I need to lose as much weight, specifically fat, as possible before I get pregnant. The good news is that as I lose weight and reduce the overall estrogen load on my body I will have a much easier time conceiving. I am completely optimistic about this process and know that I will be able to finally conceive a healthy baby that I carry to term and deliver without complications or interventions.

I told my doctor what I’m doing and why. I told her that I am walking everyday (about 20-25 minutes in the morning and 30-45 when I get home from work, longer on off days) and eating in a way to increase insulin sensitivity naturally. I also am making sure I get a lot of fiber to help reduce the estrogen currently in my system. She said that it is absolutely a healthy way to eat and that I am doing everything right. She also said that she wishes all her patients would do what I did. I love that she sees how seriously I take this process and that she sees the positive results as proof of increasing health. It was a great visit in terms of my progress.

I have been taking the Provera (progesterone) following the directions on the bottle. The directions are to take one pill a day for 10 days each month. Given those directions I have been taking the medication on the same day of the month, every month. I was not entirely sure that was correct since it could have been on the same day of my cycle. But she confirmed that I am taking it correctly and that soon I should start to regulate when I get my period which will give us a better idea of where ovulation should be.

We also talked about M’s test results and what we are going to do going forward. He just started Chantix to quit smoking cigarettes (he’s been smoking for over 2 decades). He also is starting a new job with regular hours on Monday so we’ll have much more financial stability. With that stability we hope to buy a second car since now he drives a motorcycle as his primary means of transportation. With both of those changes she said the best thing to do is give it 3-4 months then do another test and come back to see where we are before we start Clomid to induce ovulation. I am hoping that in the next 4 months I can lose enough weigh to be below 300 lbs. I am feeling confident about that as well.

I have been only weighing myself at WW and the doctor, but that left me with days at a time when I had no idea what was happening. So last week we bought a scale. Since Monday morning I have lost 2.8 lbs. I am still going to use my WW weight as my official weight until I stop, which will be when my prepaid time is up, next month. But I am so excited to weigh myself every morning and see the scale continuing to go down. I know I am doing the best thing for myself by following Dr. McDougall’s recommendations. I even bought his book specifically for women. I am in chapter 5 now and know for sure that I am finally supporting my body in the healthiest way possible.

It’s been a month and here’s where I am.

I actually started incorporating the principles laid out in The Starch Solution right after the 4th of July. It is now the second week in August and I thought it would be a good time for a check in. Warning: this post will be talking in detail about my body’s reactions to the program I am following including digestion and menstrual changes. Read at your discretion. 🙂

First of all, the weight loss. Before I started this I had lost 3.2 lbs in three weeks on WW following the Points Plus program. Not phenomenal, but still a step in the right direction. As of this past Sunday which was the next five weeks that I have been basing my diet on starches I have lost 18.8 lbs and 5% of my starting weight. So in five weeks I lost 15.6 lbs. Not too shabby, if you ask me! That’s an average of over 3 lbs per week! While this is faster than the generally accepted speed of weight loss, I feel great, I eat when I am hungry and never try to limit how much I eat, and I feel like my body is just letting go of the excess it doesn’t need. There is no forcing it, I am not fighting myself, and I am not punishing my body with insane workouts that leave me in tears. And yet the weight is coming off easily! I am so happy about that. I can already see changes in how big my belly is. My clothes are already fitting differently. I am so excited!

There are also other physical changes that are worth mentioning. The first is my skin. I have historically had very dry hands. My hands get rough like sand paper and often crack and bleed. It is incredibly painful. I use lotion several times a day and have tried most designed specifically for very dry hands and still nothing. I even had to take my wedding ring off months ago because the skin was so irritated by it I couldn’t tolerate it. But a few days ago I noticed that my hands are not super dry. I still use lotion regularly, but much less often. And it only takes a little squirt to fully soften and hydrate my hands. So I put my ring back on. 🙂 It is amazing to be able to wear my wedding ring again after having it off for so long. And the skin around it is fine!

I also have adult acne. It’s embarrassing to say the least. 33 is not an age that most people have to deal with giant, cystic pimples. But I do. Often the break out is around my period and several days before. I thought for a very long time that it was just hormonal and there was nothing I could do about it. But I got my period last week with only one or two tiny whiteheads beforehand. Saturday night we got Indian takeout. I ordered it with as little oil as possible and I think I irritated the woman taking my order by being so picky because everything was drenched in oil, even the plain rice. I ate anyway since it was dinner time and I was definitely hungry, but I felt sick right away. My entire digestive track was upset with the amount of fat in that meal. I watched a video of a set of twins who cleared their acne using Dr. McDougall’s dietary recommendations and their biggest trigger was fat. So I started paying attention and lo and behold I have been breaking out since that meal. I had two large, deep pimples on the side of my chin and I am still dealing with some smaller ones around my whole face. It’s interesting to see the effects of my diet on my skin. Before I saw that video I would have just blamed my period, even though it had all but stopped by that point. But still, the hormones, you know? Now I can see that my body is still clearing the excess oil out of my system. And I can see the effect of eating so low fat in healing the pimples that did erupt.

I also am seeing a major difference in my hair! My hair is a major source of stress for me. It’s growing out from a terrible haircut, I heat style it often, and I get dandruff from shampoo. My roots are constantly oily and my ends are dry. It gets frizzy. The wave pattern is all over the place. And I can break a brush just by brushing it out. Since I switched to starches, my hair has more shine all the way down. It also isn’t as oily at the roots. The ends don’t feel as dry. I have not changed my products or my styling routine, just my diet. It doesn’t tangle as easily, unless we drive with the windows down. Since it’s longish I try not to do that often. But it is looking better all the time and I find myself liking it more and more. Major bonus!!!

Now for the internal stuff. I am very gassy. I have always been super gassy at night, but now it is much more so. That said, even though it’s loud and embarrassing, it doesn’t have much of an odor. So I’m okay with it. As long as it doesn’t happen at work! Haha! The solids are moving through much more easily, too. There is so much fiber in my diet now that everything just goes right through. I wish things were a little more firm than they are, but I’m more glad that they are not hanging around inside my gut. So I’ll take it how it is.

I also just finished my period over the weekend. In the past few years my cycle has been incredibly irregular. I could go for six weeks with nothing and once I went for eight weeks with blood every single day. It was miserable. I also often have a very heavy flow with large clots of tissue that are very painful to pass. I take a ton of ibuprofen, pushing the limits of safety, just so I can function. I live with a heating pad on my belly and always try to stay in a position that creates less pain. It is terrible. I am also taking progesterone to clear out excess endometrial tissue that has built up from lack of ovulation. The first cycle my period was miserable as usual. I could barely tolerate it. But this time I spotted for a few days then I had a light day, a medium day, then a half of a light day and it was over. I only took two Advil the whole time! I could not believe the difference between the two cycles. I know for certain that what I am doing with my diet is allowing my body a chance to breathe and heal. I am so thrilled with this change!

I also have hope. I feel so good physically and mentally. I am starting to believe that I can actually and finally lose this weight. I am starting to believe that at some point I will get pregnant naturally, I will carry to term, and I will deliver without complication. Given my history it is easy to see why this hope is such a big deal for me. And the best part is that I am not at all stressed about it. I know that I can just keep eating potatoes, rice, bread and corn and I will keep moving toward true health for possibly the first time in my life. Needless to say, my month long experiment has left me a firm supporter of starch!