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!

I’m thinking of breaking up with WW

I have been going to Weight Watchers on and off for probably about a decade. I love the connection with other members and the special team members who truly care about the health and well being of the members. I am so grateful for those wonderful people who I am able to talk to about all of the emotional and mental struggles that go along with the radical changes that weight loss requires.

All that said, though, I am thoroughly displeased with the new program. Weight Watchers used to have a whole section on their website dedicated to the science behind their program. I just checked the website, though, and cannot find anything like that all with the new program.

This program was just released in the last few weeks. Along with that the whole website and mobile app were redesigned. The new focus is on protein as a holy grail type of nutrient. Foods with high protein content have had their points values reduced while foods with saturated fats and added sugars have increased – according to my leaders. I tested the new system recently and the foods that have helped me lose over 50 lbs. so far (now over 55!) barely fit into my daily points target! I could not imagine trying to lose weight with the new program while also eating healthfully!

In defense of WW, they do still have their Simply Filling plan. That plan allows unlimited food from a specific list (most fruits and veggies, all whole grains, fat free dairy, lean meats, eggs, and two teaspoons of oil per day along with a few selected processed grain products like whole wheat pasta and light bread) until satiety is reached. I love the idea of intuitive eating and always encourage other members to give this plan a try. I tell everyone in the meetings that I follow a modified version of this program – no meat, dairy, eggs, or oils. Since I am consistently losing weight I know some people are interested in how and I love to push whole plant foods! Veggies, potatoes, grains, fruits, it all helps!

With the new points structure, though, I am truly worried about the health of all the members. One lady was counting out the points of her breakfast. She used Trader Joe’s 98% fat free ham and three slices were 0 points. She was so happy because she likes ham and it is helping her lose weight and all that nonsense. Of course, losing a few pounds over the course of a week does not mean much in the grand scheme of things. It could be fat, it could be water, it could be muscle, it could be fecal matter. It only matters when weight is steadily and consistently lower.

Then, of course, there is the issue of eating ham at all. The World Health Organization classified processed meats in the same category of carcinogens as cigarettes. This means that every single slice of ham, bacon, or turkey is causing DNA damage that can lead to cancer if the body is not successfully able to reverse the damage before it grows new, mutated cells. Our bodies fight as hard as they can, but when we eat these foods everyday, several times a day, we are tipping the balance to favor the cancer cells.

Having foods like this cost so little in terms of points values creates a false sense of value. They are tasty. They are low in points. We should eat more foods like these. WW has created a system in which it is essentially “free” to eat foods known to be carcinogenic. I tested my oatmeal once and the one bowl of just oats was 13 points! This is crazy.

I think I’m going to give it a few more weeks before I make my decision. I love my friends and the support I get when I am facing a truly challenging situation. I love the staff members who make the meetings. Each of them offers a beautiful piece of the mosaic that is my support team. But the focus on protein – specifically animal protein – is truly sickening in every sense of the word.

Have you ever gone to Weight Watchers? What do you think of protein intake? Do you have a special support network who help you with your struggles? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

Are you a vegetarian or an omnivore? And what is the difference between those endings?

As you probably know by now, I am following the McDougall Program. If you haven’t heard of this, please go check it out. I’ll wait.

One thing I noticed when looking at this is that people call themselves omnivores often and occasionally carnivores. Yet people following a plant-based diet are referred to as vegetarian and extremists are vegans. And Dr. McDougall calls himself a starchivore.

It got me thinking, what is the difference between -ivore and -itarian?

Turns out there’s a big difference. Anything that eats the foods it has evolved to eat and is nutritionally dependent on has the suffix -ivore while -itarian denotes a conscious choice. Cats like lions and tigers are carnivores. They are dependent on specific nutrients they can only get through a diet of meats, organs, bones, and connective tissues.

Dogs are a little more versatile. Foxes eat apples, berries, and other fruits along with eggs, insects, and small animals. They are true omnivores. They get nutrition they need from both animal and plant foods.

Humans are primates. We are specifically part of the Great Ape category. Which begs the question of what Great Apes eat. While there are some animal foods, gorillas eat mostly plant foods. If they can grow as big and strong as they do eating fruits, shoots, and barks with some ants and their larvae in for good measure, why do we insist that we need to eat as much meat as we do? And should we even really eat meat?

As I have previously discussed, meat is not healthy for humans to eat. Neither are eggs or dairy for that matter. So are we truly omnivores as many like to call themselves? And are those who choose to eat only plant foods vegetarians (or worse, vegans)? Or are we actually herbivores – or even starchivores – and those who choose to eat meat are omnitarians?

I’ll be honest, though. I like the ring of starchitarian. I think it just sounds nice. And maybe that’s what I am since I focus my diet on cooked whole starch foods like grains, potatoes, and hard skinned squashes. Maybe the true herbivores are the raw vegans who eat fruits and veggies predominantly.

How do you define your eating patterns? Has this changed how you describe yourself? Let’s talk!

New year, new me?

I am still way behind mentally. I feel like it’s September, maybe October. I cannot believe that we are already a few DAYS into 2016.

I am not one for resolutions, though. I have never made a new year’s resolution in my life. I just don’t see the point in trying to do something to drastically improve my life after binge drinking into a coma. I also don’t drink very much. Maybe I just don’t have the hang of this whole New Year’s Eve thing…

I did, however, set a goal for myself. I made it down below 300 lbs. before the end of 2015. I actually did it a little before the end! Go me!

My goal for 2016 is to get below 200 lbs.

I know I will get there. It takes a lot of patience and dedication, though.

Over new year’s I made cupcakes using a box of cake mix and a can of lime flavored seltzer water then adding a marshmallow to the top for s’mores flavored cupcakes. They turned out tasty. I haven’t had chocolate in several months so maybe that’s why I liked them so much. I kept eating them.

We also bought a 4 lb. tub of Red Vines. Between the cupcakes which had a little canola oil in the mix and the licorice that was fat free so totally okay to indulge in I way overdid it this weekend.

I hit my lowest weight since I started the HCLF diet ever on the morning of the 1st. I was 295.8. I was so excited. But then, treats happened. Today I was up to 299.8!

I have been very diligent about paying attention to what I’m eating and am making deliberate choices to support myself since then. I am also being conscious of my movements. Today is the first day my Vivosmart has given me a goal of over 10,000 steps and I am already almost there. Another trip through the store and a walk with the dog should do it!

While I refuse to engage in the silly tradition of setting unrealistic standards for myself that I only intend to break within a few months, I do believe in goals as a direction. I need that kind of planning or compass in my life. I know that my behaviors today set up the successes or failures of the end of the year.

That is why it is so important for me to choose healthy patterns and thought processes.

It is not easy. Goodness knows how much I want to just stuff candy in my mouth! Or ice cream. I am just in a funky mood that sets me off craving fatty, carb-laden treats. But I know that I need to choose my health over old habits.

I guess this is a new me after all. 🙂

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!)

A beautiful storm

We went north for the weekend. My grandma lives in Mendocino County which is a few hours north of San Francisco. Yesterday after work we drove up. The rain and fog were intense, but at least we drove slow enough that I didn’t get car sick.
My grandma has no idea what kind of diet I’m following. She did bake some russet and sweet potatoes for us, but was totally at a loss for a “complete” meal. She pulled out salad stuff with blue cheese dressing! When I asked for frozen veggies she got a pack that was so freezer burnt I am not sure they were good to eat.
But the point is that she tried. She made the effort to feed me what I could eat. That was very nice.
Today we walked to the end of the road. I remember when that distance was so far for me. I remember when I couldn’t go that far and how great it felt the first time I did. Today it was like nothing.
We met a beautiful horse. I called to it and he came right up to us with his face over the fence. He was very sweet. He even touched noses with the dog!
When it was time to leave the rain was intense. It hailed while I dashed out to the truck!
Living in California has shaped how I see rain. Even though it was heavy and cold, it was so beautiful to see how green everything was and how full the waterways were. The last time we were at my grandma’s the creek was almost dry. Now it is several feet higher.
I loved everything about our weekend in wine country. And I love how easy this lifestyle is making the rest of my life.

Food for thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is no.

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

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

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

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

Looking good?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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