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!

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?

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!

50 lbs gone, now what?

Last week I shared my weight loss success of 50 lbs. I have lost a little more since then. I actually made it past the 300 lb. mark on the scale!

I have had 300 as my weight goal for so long that I honestly don’t know where to go next. I decided on 250 for now, since that’s another big chunk but not the full amount. I guess I’ll just keep stepping it down like that.

In activity land, we went swimming yesterday! It was my first time going to the lap swim at our local public pool. It was actually quite lovely. I don’t swim with my face in the water (no freestyle for me!) so I’m a little more sore today than I expected to be. But I successfully swam the full length of the pool 4 times which I think counts as 2 laps. It was 33 1/2 meters long so I actually did over 135 yards.

The swim for the Tri next summer is only 400 so I am thrilled to be able to go 1/4 of the way already. I still obviously have a lot of training to do, but I know I can do this!

Now to get myself back to the gym to work on the bike… 🙂

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?

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.

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. 🙂