There’s a monster in my belly.

I have noticed a huge increase in my appetite lately. I eat a large bowl of oatmeal every morning that is made with about 1.5 cups of dry quick cooking oats and a handful of freeze dried blueberries. I then add a little brown sugar before I eat it. I am fueled and ready for life for a few hours from this. Then every day at 12 pm I get hungry again.

No, not hungry. Ravenous!

I am ready to eat a horse at this point! Okay, not really. Obviously I don’t eat whole horses. But I am for sure ready for some potatoes, or rice, or bread. Just something.

I have started thinking about my hunger in a different way lately. It seems almost like it is alive, separate from the rest of me. I can feel it building up, then growling for food.

Does anyone remember that show on Nicelodeon Ahh, Real Monsters? My hunger looks a little like Krumm.

krumm

I think it’s green though. I know this is kind of weird, but I guess I am still surprised at how much I eat!

I have now lost over 60 lbs. That is such a big number. My older niece weighs 63 lbs. I have lost a seven year old!

I started looking at upper body training exercises recently. I am not seeing any change in my arms with the weight loss. I don’t know if they will ever look great, but I would like to lose some of the fat and gain some muscle. I want to feel strong. I also really want to do a push up. As my upper body loses mass I know this is becoming more of a possibility. But I need to build up strength now, not just wait for my body to weigh less. I am a little nervous about going to the gym since I am still so big. The last time I went in and used the cable weights there were some guys who were lifting who kept giving me funny looks. So much for the judgment free zone. I am proud of myself for going anyway, though. Now I just need to get back.

M has been working out of town for a bit so it’s just me and the critters. The dog needs a big walk at night so I don’t have that much time to do anything. I do think I could squeeze in a home workout here and there, though. I am sure that right now doing the workout without any extra weights will still be a challenge. That is where I’ll start. We prepaid for some lap swim sessions, too, and this weekend is supposed to be pretty nice so maybe a swim, some time in the gym, or a hike is how we will spend Sunday. Maybe we could even make a picnic. I’m sure my monster will be happy if I bring extra food with me. 🙂

What are your plans for this weekend? Does your body every seem to have a mind of its own? How do you like to workout? Answer in the comments!

50 lbs gone! And what it’s like to still have so far to go…

This morning I earned my 50 lb. award at Weight Watchers. I am currently having a love/hate relationship with my meeting. I love the meeting and members, but hate the new program. They are literally pushing animal protein on people. But the no counting plan is the same and I am following a modified version of that so I talk about that and how eating more whole grains and vegetables has dramatically helped me. I think people don’t really listen all the time, but getting presented with an award for losing 50 lbs. really gets their attention!

Enough about that. I am so happy that I have lost this much weight. I’m sure I have said it before, but I will say it again. I have never lost this much20151214_124353 weight before and it is amazing to me how easy it is to lose. I am a little frustrated with how slowly the weight is coming off right now, but I am still steadily moving down on the scale, so I cannot complain!

I got myself a reward for my accomplishment. I have wanted an activity tracker for quite some time now. I used to use a WW one, but when I rejoined I couldn’t get it to sync with my new account info. So I talked this over with M and let him know that I really wanted one. I had one all picked out: the Garmin Vivosmart HR. It is water resistant to 50 meters and automatically syncs with WW so I can see how many activity points I have earned. But, when I was checking out online last night, I saw another one. The Samsung Gear Fit watch has a nicer display and will autosync with my 20151214_154328Samsung phone that uses S Health. I have been getting notifications the past few days telling me to be more active. When I check my pedometer I can see how active I have been, but S Health has no idea. So I was pretty interested in a tracker that would meet all of my other goals. Plus, the display is way nicer and the band is changeable. And did I mention the sale?! I got it for $70 off!!! The sale is from Best Buy and the tracker was on sale for $79.99. I love it! I already had over 4000 steps from before I put it on so I am doing great.

One thing that is still hard, though, is how I think people think of me. I live in Oakland, CA and people are not particularly kind or patient in my area. This morning I took the dog for a walk as usual. I was wearing capri leggings and a tank top with a hoodie – my normal weigh in outfit. A car arrived at the 4 way stop while I was already in the intersection and then went before I made it onto the curb. I felt very self-conscious and in my head it was about my weight. I even imagined the person in the car saying something snarky about me in spandex. I wonder if this will go away as I lose more weight or if I will always worry that people are thinking the worst of me because of my size. I even was talking to M about eating and how people see someone like me. I feel like people think fat people don’t deserve to eat. It’s horrible to have this running dialogue inside me. I just hope that as I train and get strong and lean I can quiet this self-doubt.

I haven’t taken many photos lately, but here is a picture of a cute hairdo I did the other day. I felt pretty cute. I am starting to really see a difference in my face. It’s crazy to have lost so much weight, but still have so much to lose. I need to lost about 150 more to get to a normal BMI, but I’ll still be at the high end of the range. So I might want to lost about 165 to 170 more all together. It’s a lot, but I am just trying to focus on one day at a time and one meal at a time. In the mean time, I’m having cheese-less pizza for dinner that is ready now! 🙂 Talk to you soon!20151209_082105

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. 🙂

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 first gain, and how it is affecting me today

I have now been back on Weight Watchers for 13 weeks, and following the McDougall guidelines for 10 of those. In that time, I have lost 25.8 lbs total, which is fantastic! I am getting close to hitting a milestone of losing 10% of my starting weight. I feel amazing everyday.

However, this week I had gained weight. I bought a scale not too long ago so I could have daily feedback about my dietary choices. Usually it goes down steadily. If I indulge myself and buy a loaf of sourdough bread I see it go up for a couple of days before settling to lower than before the bread. I understand these little fluctuations are often a result of how much of the foods I’m eating are being absorbed by my body. In the case of the sourdough, I know the finely ground flour is much more easily absorbed than whole corn kernels. So it makes sense to gain weight.

But this week was different. I have not eaten much regular bread (made with white flour). I did eat a lot of corn tortillas and I made ugali with masa harina the night before I weighed in. So maybe the corn was ground finely enough to be absorbed like wheat flour. Or maybe it has to do with where I am in my cycle. I’m not entirely sure.

I did see the scale at home creep up for a few days before I weighed in on Sunday.

I remember in the past how upset I would get over a gain like this week. I’m up 1.4 lbs which is not that much. And this morning it was already going back down.

I still remember the very first week I gained weight at WW. It was over a decade ago. I had been following the program to the letter. I had lost consistently for several weeks straight. I was weighing in in the evenings so it’s quite possible I had eaten differently or maybe had some extra water. But I was crushed. When I saw that number on the scale higher than the week before my face fell and I was close to tears. I still remember the staff member who was helping me. To this day she is my favorite of all WW staff members, which says a lot because I love most of them! Her name was Fred and she asked me if I had been following the program. I explained that I had. Then she asked about my cycle. I was a little embarrassed by that question, but she assured me that we retain water at different times. She then said that if we couldn’t figure it out, we would call it a vegetable and it wouldn’t count!

This was not like that. I knew I was going to be up on the scale. I am also okay with it. 12 straight weeks of loss followed by one of gain is a trend I am quite happy with! I know that there will be ups and downs on this journey. Considering my ultimate goal weight is over 200 lbs less than my starting weight it would be completely unrealistic to expect to not gain weight occasionally.

But, I do not intend to make this a regular pattern, either. I am working on incorporating more starchy veggies instead of just grains. Potatoes and sweet potatoes help me shed pounds easily so that is where I am choosing to focus my meals for now. It works out perfectly since the weather has cooled a bit. Tonight might be a good night for potato leek soup! Or just steamed sweet potatoes with spicy black beans and salsa.

All in all, I would say that while I am not thrilled to have gained weight this week I am not horribly upset, either. I think it is a normal part of this process. And it’s okay to gain weight occasionally. I am just going to continue to take this one meal at a time, one walk at a time. I know that a year from now I will be in much better health, so what’s a pound and a half this week? 🙂

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!

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.

Feeling pretty and “fried” rice

I have been following Dr. McDougall’s guidelines for 6 weeks now. In that time I have lost 16.2 lbs. I have already seen improvements in my physiology. I am starting to see a difference in my appearance, too. I am starting to see definition in my cheeks. My hair is very shiny and soft.  My skin actually is glowing!

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I felt very pretty this morning when I took this picture. I have pants that were too tight just a few months ago that now are getting loose. I am fitting into clothes I couldn’t put on for a few years.
How am I doing this? Starch! I eat starch all day, every day. For breakfast I eat oatmeal with some currants and a bit of brown sugar. Lunch lately has been frozen corn with veggies. Dinner is where things get exciting. I eat a lot of potatoes and rice. When I have leftover rice, I love to make “fried” rice.

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I am lucky enough to work with an amazing woman who is originally from Beijing. We had a potluck once for which she brought in the best chicken fried rice I’ve ever had. And she was nice enough to share her method! Since I am no longer eating chicken or oil, I modified it to McDougall it! All the flavor, all the comfort, no oil or meat. And what a perfect way to use old rice! (Old rice – a day or two -absorbs the liquid better than fresh rice. But if you only have fresh, play around. You might like it more!)
First I throw a little water into my biggest nonstick pan, maybe 1/2″ deep, probably less. I set that on medium heat while I roughly chop an onion. I love onions so I use big ones. I add that to the pan and spread it out evenly. If I have garlic on hand I might chop a clove or three. Garlic cooks much faster than onion, but the water tempers the heat well. I usually add it when the onion is translucent. When that is fragrant, add some mixed frozen veggies. If you want it to cook faster, thaw the veggies first. Or use fresh veggies of choice. There is no wrong answer here. When everything is cooked until not quite done, add the rice. To this I add Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, but your favorite soy sauce or tamari will work, too. Sometimes I add a little garlic powder or other herbs and spices to make a more Asian flavor. I also usually add a splash of rice vinegar. When everything is heated through and the liquid has evaporated it’s done.

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Serve yourself a big bowl and season to taste. Look at all those starchy veggies! Yum!
This method does result in rice that is softer than restaurant fried rice. I am still trying to tweak my cooking to get a better brown. But it is certainly delicious. And much healthier!