Redefining “Diets”

I have been thinking a lot lately about what successful weight loss methods are out there. Long story short, not many. Most weight loss methods are Diets that are intended to be used for a short period of time until the unwanted weight is gone, then the dieter goes back to their previous way of eating. This has certainly been the case for me. I have done Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, paleo, calorie counting, Atkins, South Beach, Curves, and more. All of these are just things people do until they can go back to normal. But of course, normal is why they need these Diets in the first place!

So what does truly successful weight loss look like? Does it just mean losing a certain number of pounds or a percentage of body fat? Does it mean that you know how to lose weight? Or is it more?

A close family friend recently completed the losing phase of the medically supervised liquid fast diet. She lost a ton of weight and noticed a dramatic increase in her quality of life. She was doing so well that my grandmother wished she had enough money to send me to the same program. While I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do a liquid fast for weight loss purposes, I tried to be as tactful as possible. I told my grandma that we should see how she does in the long term before spending over $3000 on something that may not even create long term success. Sure enough, the friend is in the maintenance phase now and going back to “regular” foods has not been easy. She is struggling with weight gain.

I know how hard that is. After trying so many different methods to lose weight, many more than once, I just cannot get behind the idea that any Diet should be temporary.

That is one main reason that I simply love the McDougall Program. I never intend to go back to “normal” eating again. I feel so great eating starches. I have much more energy than I ever have had before. My health issues that I have struggled with for years are getting better. Why on earth would I want to go back to a way of eating that left me feeling so terrible?

What are your thoughts on this? As we approach the start of resolution season, how do you deal with the commercials for every diet under the sun? Have you tried any weight loss methods before? Why did you stop? Do you see that as a failure of the Diet or a failure of your will power? (Hint: It’s built into Diets to fail, that’s why there are so many that people spend so much on!)

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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?

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?

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!

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. 🙂

Moving moving moving

Life is very busy right now. I am so thrilled that last week on Tuesday I got to meet my nephew for the very first time. He is such a smooshy-face! He is charming and inquisitive and absolutely adorable. I know I’m biased, but he is a darned cute kid!

When they first arrived my brother-in-law was craving a milkshake so we walked to an ice cream parlor that was a few blocks away. I think it may be about a half mile or so. I was holding the baby – L – and my sister pulled out the carrier. I am still well over 300 lbs and much larger than I am truly comfortable being so I was very nervous that the belt wouldn’t reach around me. But it fit! And not even at the loosest setting! So I got to walk with the baby strapped to me. I loved the extra cuddle time and held his feet the whole way. He did great until he finally got so tired he let Momma carry him again while she worked to soothe him and get him ready for a nap.

That day between the walking around and the “baby bounce” I did more than 12,000 steps! I was so proud of myself.

Yesterday’s WW meeting topic was ways to fit fitness in. Lots of people talked about their structured workouts, which are great. I talked about that little love bug who kept me moving for hours! After the meeting I took a nap then took the dog for a walk. I had taken him on a shorter than normal walk before the meeting (since I go at 730 am) so I took him on a longer one for the afternoon. Right when we got home my mother-in-law invited me for a walk with her. I should have known that she would push me much further than I really wanted to go, but I did it anyway. We did about 5 miles in the Oakland Hills on some beautiful trails. I was huffing and puffing (and I will definitely be digging out my inhaler for future hikes), but I made up and down all of it. It was about 2 hours total. And I made it to over 16,000 steps yesterday!!!

I am working as hard as I can to feel strong in my body and this helps for sure. It is an amazing feeling to look down a steep hill and see the trail I just made it up. I didn’t take any pictures, but the views were amazing. And now I know that I CAN do that kind of trail. I am looking forward to the day that that is easy for me.

I also have been cooking up a bunch of new recipes. I found another great website for inspiration: http://fatfreevegan.com/

My father-in-law is so impressed with how much weight we have lost that he has decided to try it out for a week to see how he feels. I am going to print all of the McDougall info and possibly a few other recipe ideas for him. He enjoys cooking very much so I am curious to see how the transition to fat free cooking goes. But I am just happy that he sees something positive in us and wants to make a healthy change himself.

Check out the great recipes there! One that I made over the weekend was the Melty Pizza Cheese variation. I poured it over plain pasta at my company party and added sweet potatoes I brought with me. It was a little weird to bust out my little containers of food, but so nice to not be sick to my stomach in the morning! And the cheese sauce tasted great! I ate some more with left over sweet potatoes and green beans. An interesting blend of foods, but quite tasty.

One other thing that is challenging for me right now is my mom. She has a very bad back and was hoping to have a small fusion surgery this fall. When we went to the doctor for a consultation last week he made it clear that what she thought would help would probably not help and would most likely end up hurting her more. We were both devastated and sat in the car crying for about 10 minutes after the appointment. One thing he made clear was that her weight will hinder any recovery. I am planning on spending a week at her house with my sister and her family and asked if my mom would commit to following the McDougall program since I’ll be there cooking for myself anyway. She agreed. She has been increasing her starch consumption but still has dairy, eggs, and oils as a regular part of her diet. So for a week she’ll switch to tea for her caffeine and go strictly starch based for the rest! If she notices a difference in her arthritis, blood sugar, or weight and feels better then she can continue if she wants. I hope she does.

So that’s me for now. I am trying so hard to see the positive in myself. And I am doing all I can do right now. And I just keep moving.

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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I am not exercising for weight loss!

I have been walking a lot lately. I mean a lot! In the past 3 and a half weeks I have walked almost 200,000 steps. Considering the fact that I am still well above 300 lbs, that is a lot of effort and I am quite proud of myself.

I love my daily walks. I feel centered and balanced, especially when we go off-road onto a trail in one of the beautiful parks near me. There is something about being surrounded by tall trees, fresh air, and dappled light that puts my soul at ease. And I love the energy I feel from how I’m eating that gives me fuel for these lovely excursions. I even like walking around my neighborhood.

However, I am not doing any of this for weight loss.

I have tried to lose weight so many times before. In every other program I have found the calorie swap portion to be one of my downfalls. The idea is basically that since the Diet part creates a calorie deficit already any extra calories burned through exercise can be swapped for more food. This was how it was when I did Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, Spark People, My Fitness Pal, and more. Other diets didn’t have specific swaps, but allowed more flexibility when exercising more. I constantly found myself exercising enough to justify an ice cream, a package of mini doughnuts, a cupcake.

But was I really exercising enough to get all of that extra fat burnt up?

No.

I wasn’t.

All I was doing was using exercise as a form of punishment to justify a reward in the form of junk food that didn’t help me get any healthier or slimmer while damaging my relationship with food even more in the process.

What was the point? I ended up heavier than ever with no concept of how to appropriately move or fuel my body.

Now I am using exercise as simply what I feel like doing. I am walking around simply because I like walking. We go exploring trails just for fun. I am even working my feet up to barefoot hiking.

Redwood Regional Park Trail Map
One of my local parks. Lots of trails to explore!

I think this paradigm shift is so vital to why am so successful this time around. It’s funny, though. It took changing my food to have the energy to want to walk to have that paradigm shift at all.

This is not to say that exercise will not help with weight loss. Of course it does! It lowers blood sugar, builds muscle tissue and strong bones, and helps burn extra calories.

But I cannot out exercise a poor diet.

I need to eat foods that support my body, give me energy, and encourage healing in order to even be able to exercise at all.

I am also happy that I recently reconnected with a high school acquaintance who has become my walking buddy and is quickly becoming a close friend. She also started McDougalling and is experiencing great success as well. Walking together lets us talk about the personal issues we each have along with the struggles we share.

At this point, I am looking forward to our chatting just as much as the walk itself. Let me repeat that. I am looking forward to walking!!! Who knew that would ever be possible for me?!

All that said, though, I am definitely experiencing successful weight loss and I know that walking is encouraging it. In the past 12 weeks I have lost 27.2 lbs. I feel fantastic that I have lost so much and I love how easy it is.

So I’m going to continue to get outside to walk and enjoy this beautiful world. I’m just going to do it for its own sake, and not to lose weight. 🙂

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!