Saturday, April 16, 2011

The One Where I Fell Off the Wagon

Today I ate a piece of cake.

Not a whole piece, but pretty much a solid, regular sized piece. It was white cake with butter cream frosting, covered in fondant. There were cupcakes to match, but I managed to avoid eating those, even though there are two sitting on my kitchen counter right now. (Relax, they are for my boys.)

This morning I was blessed to be a part of a sweet couple's bridal shower. The future bride and groom are both near and dear to my heart - our family has known them both since before they were a couple. We knew them when one was pining away with a secret crush on the other, then when the other woke up and realized what was happening. We got to watch them fall in love, and now they are getting married! It's one of my favorite couple stories ever. They are perfect for each other and I can't wait for their wedding day - which, according to the groom, is in just forty-two short days. (Did I mention the groom has really soft hair? Not that this is important to my story, but for some, it is a noteworthy fact.)

Anywho - when it was time for brunch, we all walked into the kitchen and for some odd reason, I just ate everything they offered. Salad with goat cheese and vinegar dressing - yum. Egg and sausage casserole - one of my faves. Glorious fruit salad. And then the cake. I don't know what happened to me, but something took over and I just fell to the temptation.

Soon, my stomach began to hurt, the sugar high came to crashing end, and all I wanted to do was sleep the afternoon away. That was certainly an option! Instead, I took a bunch of extra probiotics and candida killing supplements, drank a ton of water and ran errands. It was all very anti-climactic, really.

This experience just goes to show me that, even armed with plan and with four good weeks of healthy eating behind me, I am not above failure and defeat in this arena. But there is no point in crying over spilled milk, or rolled fondant in this case. Instead, I will press on towards my goal of improved health. Only I can't have my cake and eat it, too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved candy. She loved cookies, too. And cake, and ice cream and really anything sweet. She ate more sugary treats than real food! Then one day, the girl decided to eat an apple instead of a cookie and something happened. The girl found she liked that apple, so she started eating more apples. Then she started eating berries of all kinds and even some vegetables.

It wasn’t long until the girl started to feel better when she woke up and better when she fell asleep. Then one day, the girl realized she felt better all the time, so she began to make other important changes in what foods she ate as well. She gave up all sugars and even cow’s milk and the yummy cheeses that are made with it.

Even though the girl was happy and satisfied with her new foods, there was one thing she really missed – her cereal with cold milk. Some days she even used to eat it twice. The girl searched and searched for some kind of cereal that would be right for her, but no matter where she looked, she could not find just the right kind. She was sad, but she just ate her hot cereal and waffles with fruit and sighed.

Then one day the girl went shopping in a great land called Whole Foods. In a strange twist, the girl had time to kill because she didn’t want to be 45 minutes early for an event. Since this had never happened to her before, she was confused, but happy to have time to explore this strange new land. The girl, in her cute but too-high summer tan wedge heel sandals, walked slowly up and down the aisles this beautiful place, her eyes full of wonder.

Suddenly, the girl found herself in a place called the “cereal aisle”! Row after row of one of her favorite foods were before her all at once. The girl wondered to herself, “I wonder if there are any cereals for me in this place?” So she searched and searched, carefully reading each label, until she came to a special box. The box was beautiful and it was called “Organic 100% Whole Grain Cereal Crispy Brown Rice.” The name was very strange to her, but the picture on the box showed a beautiful yellow sun rising over a snow covered mountain range, shining its rays onto a spoon full of golden crispy brown rice grains. It just had to be good.

The girl excitedly purchased the box, along with some other much needed items, including a lovely salad for dinner. She went to her event, all the time thinking of that lovely sun shining on that spoonful of cereal. She hurried home, poured her special cereal into her favorite bowl, poured some very cold, unsweetened almond milk over the grains, sprinkled a packet of xylitol sweetener on them and began to eat.

The girl could not believe how tasty this treat was! She began to exclaim to all who would listen, “This is almost like candy!” The girl was happy. She went to bed with a smile on her face and dreamt of the morning, when she would try her new treasure with fresh strawberries and a cup of coffee, sweetened with stevia.

The End.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Learning and Letting Go

So I left you hanging yesterday, but I had to stop for fear no one would possibly read that much in one sitting! It’s a long story, and since I am writing for myself as much as anything, seemed like a good idea to go ahead and tell the whole story.

Before I say much of anything about internet research phase of my journey, let me assure you that I can be a cynic. A doubter by nature, I like facts, facts and more facts. A “Show Me State” native – I love me some proof. This is why internet research tends to frustrate me. I mean anyone can post anything on the World Wide Web right? Case in point: this blog. You can get some really bad medical information and advice in cyberspace, so I am careful – methodical, really. I read, cross-reference, cross again, look for qualifications, compare data and then do a thorough “common sense” evaluation.

Having said that, some things out there might still be wrong or misleading. It’s something you have to figure out as you go along and ultimately find what works for you and yours. I am confident that I have gleaned good information about my health and self-treatment to this point, and even have plans to meet with a qualified health professional soon.

After extensive research, I believe I am suffering from what is called “Candida Overgrowth”. You’ve probably heard of Candida referred to as a yeast infection, something most women, especially mothers, are familiar with. Nursing moms often find themselves dealing with thrush, which can passed from baby to mom very easily or vaginal yeast infections, which are so common in young women. But overgrowth is just like what it sounds – bigger and badder than a simple localized issue. My problems are gastrointestinal in nature and I’ve had to change my life to deal with it.

Yeast is a fungus that feeds on sugar. It also feeds on poor nutrition and stress. Hello – my life has been a whirlwind of sugar, stress, poor nutrition, sugar, sugar and more stress. I was like a hamster on that little wheel – the wheel was the chaos I’ve allowed in my life: junk food, sugar and caffeine addiction, crazy schedule, ridiculously high expectations of myself, no exercise and stress, stress, stress. Is it any wonder my energy was sapped, my strength was shot and I couldn’t make it through a day without a nap followed by a caffeinated beverage?

Add to this the environmental factors we all face, topped with repeated prescription antibiotic cycles over the years for sinus infections and the like. These antibiotics kill very well and they can help, but they are indiscriminate killers – wiping out all the healthy, good flora in the intestines. The tiny amounts of probiotics found in grocery store yogurt can’t even begin to mount a serious defense against the onslaught caused by these drugs. This gives the Candida an opportunity to gain a foothold that is not easily removed!

The answer to my problem was to starve the yeast, kill the yeast and flush the yeast out of my body. Easier said than done – truly. I’ve opted to detoxify and eliminate the following food groups: refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, gluten, yeast and gasp, dairy. I thought sugar would be hard to let go of, but the dairy has been tougher in its own way. (Pizza is one of my family’s main food groups!)

Here is what I am avoiding:
- Sugar (brown, raw, all the ones that end in “ose” like glucose, dextrose, etc., agave, honey, etc.)
- Yeasts and distilled items (wine, vinegars, breads)
- Most grains, including wheat & oat
- White pasta, bread and rice
- Corn
- Soy

This leaves the following for me to eat:
- Leafy greens, vegetables, berries, sour green apples and lemons/limes
- Whole grains like brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat & amaranth
- Lean chicken, beef and some fish
- Almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Stevia and xylitol for sweeteners

Part of this plan also involves ridding myself of toxins, so I am eating only organic fruits & veggies, no genetically modified foods (or GMO’s), and lean proteins that are grass-fed, raised without antibiotics or hormones, free range and organic. In other words, expensive. When complaining about the prices at Whole Foods recently, my friend told me her husband refers to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck.” I laughed until I cried, then cried some more because I am going broke on this diet! Not really. Not completely, anyway.

But here is the amazing part of my story – I feel wonderful. I did not experience sugar withdrawals at all and have no explanation for this aside from the grace of God! Some symptoms that have disappeared in the past three weeks I have been eating this way include: heartburn, headaches, exhaustion, gas, bloating, chest pain and brain fog. Oh, and I have almost no ear wax anymore. Strange but true. If you can tell me what that means, I sure would appreciate it.

And the best part? I’ve lost nearly 12 pounds in just over two weeks. WITHOUT EXERCISE! Imagine what will happen when I add working out to this program!! The weight loss is nice, but the really significant thing is that I am shrinking – my face is thinner, my tummy is flatter, and I just feel smaller and lither overall. It’s likely that this is the result of giving up on dairy and I don’t know if I will ever add it back. Along with diet soda. If you are reading this, please do one thing today – STOP DRINKING DIET SODA! Get rid of aspartame altogether as a personal favor to me. Please and thank you.

There is more to share and I plan to do just that, so stick around for updates, recipes and more tips on making similar changes in your life!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An Apple Changes Everything

Because I’ve been asked by many friends to explain my new dietary changes and also because my tragically neglected blog truly needed updating, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and take to the blog to explain the ways my life has recently improved.

If you are a close friend or family member of mine, you probably are aware of my terrible eating habits over the years. Today, as I write this, I feel very embarrassed and humbled by the years of abuse I have inflicted on my own body by way of poor nutrition! At any given time, my purse could be found filled with junk food, snacks candy and gum. Like a child, a trip inside a gas station or through the checkout line at the grocery brought out the strong impulse to purchase a sweet treat. I shudder to think about how much sugar and fat I put into my system on a daily basis.

While I am unsure where these cravings originated, I do recall being rewarded with sugary treats as a child. There are six children in my family, my five older brothers and then me – the ultimate afterthought (read: accident)! My childhood was spent attending my brothers’ sporting events – football games, baseball games and wrestling meets. At each one, there was a guaranteed trip to the concession stand for candy and soda. Even as an adult, any time spent in the bleachers, attending my sons’ many hockey, baseball, basketball and golf events – a pack of Starburst candy or a movie theater sized box of Sweetarts was almost always by my side. I would tell myself that candy was my way of coping with the stress of watching my son compete at high levels. (Watching him pitch or be in harm’s way in an ice hockey games were the WORST!)

So flash forward to four weeks ago. Not surprisingly, I didn’t feel good. No, I felt horrible. Migraine headaches, high blood pressure, lethargy, joint pain, heartburn, muscle aches and gastrointestinal distress were my constant companions. Many of those symptoms had been with me for YEARS. While I am not prone to depression, I was definitely struggling with feeling fairly down from time to time.

Don’t even get me started on my fitness level, my growing weight issue or the stirrings of self-loathing when faced with the daily routine of dressing! Overall, it was time for a change and the time had been coming for years. The truth is, you really have to come to this kind of conclusion on your own – no doctor or loved one could have led me to where I am now – I had to have my own personal revelation. And it didn’t come all at once – it happened slowly – with one apple. (Come to think of it, one apple was theme of another very important story in history!)

You see, my sweet husband took me away in early March to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We returned to one of our favorite places in the world - Carmel, California. We have been several times, but the first visit came in 1987 when B. played in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in the San Francisco area. This time we even opted to stay in the bed and breakfast we first visited that year!

In Carmel, B. sent me to my “Happiest Place on Earth” aka The Spa at Pebble Beach. Actually, he sent me TWICE, because he is cool like that. During my time of relaxation, I observed another spa patron enjoying the simple pleasures of an apple eaten right off the core. She would examine the fruit, pick just the right spot, and close her eyes, take a big, crunchy bite and then chew slowly, obviously relishing the experience. Sometimes she would have to reach up and swipe the juices as they ran down her chin. Watching her intently from across the fire pit I felt a little jealous that she was enjoying such a simple pleasure from nature while I was craving the Mike & Ikes stored in my purse which was back in the locker room. (Those spa robes don’t have pockets, or I would have had them with me!) It might sound silly, but that moment was the beginning of a new way of thinking for me.

Besides being a junk food junkie, I am also an information gatherer by nature. I absolutely LOVE research – especially when done on the internet! One late night shortly after we returned from Carmel, a particularly frustrating symptom drove me to the World Wide Web for help and information. Searching reputable medical databases, I noticed the answers to my questions were almost always the same: prescription medication. I’m not a fan of medicine and avoid it when at all possible, so I began new searches that included the terms “holistic” and “natural remedy” and a whole new world was opened to me.

What I learned that night and in subsequent research sessions has changed my life for the better in ways I could never have imagined!

Tomorrow: My Self Diagnosis and Treatment Plan

Sunday, January 24, 2010

paper or plastic?

This has become a almost iconic question that is asked of me each and every time I check out at a grocery store. Paper or plastic?

I want to answer correctly, really I do! But honestly, this is just one more choice to make after a long day of decision making. I have been know to answer "surprise me", but mostly I am simply confused by the question. Can't they just pick for me?

If I answer plastic, I might not be "green" enough. If I say "paper" then I have to haul bags into the house two at a time instead of five per arm. Then fold them up and find a spot to store them. Then clean out said spot every six months when 347 of them have piled up and created a fire hazard. On the upside, with the paper option, I might score a few eco-points with the 16 year old kid who is bagging my groceries. (Read putting the leaking chicken breasts in with my produce.)

Usually, I just say "plastic is fine" - like I need to authorize the use of such an environmentally unfriendly choice - and move on with my life. But I feel judged. I feel a little like I have failed the checker, the bagger, my future grandchildren and the earth at large. It's a bit of a downer really.

In case you think I am not eco-friendly, note that I have an enormous recycle bin (60+ gallons) that we manage to fill each week and we've switched to the new swirly-twirly fluorescent bulbs that take twenty minutes to actually LIGHT a room. (A nice plus for when you are ready to read in bed, have to wait for the bulb to warm up and manage to fall asleep with your book open and glasses on while you wait.) We even have new energy-efficient appliances. Sure, there is more I could do, but I am not unaware of the issues.

Perhaps one solution to my paper or plastic dilemma is to go buy the reusable tote bags and load my weekly supplies into my personal shopping bags. This would at least save me from having to explain my views on the environment to my friendly neighborhood bag boy!

Ultimately, I would like ALL stores to change to the following and potentially GLOBAL policy: Just assume that we want plastic bags until you hear otherwise. Simple.

Thank you for allowing me a forum in which to vent my views on this most important issue.

So what about you? Paper or plastic?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My New Fall Purse, or How I Met Frank

I have been searching for a new fall bag for months – I basically began the hunt not long after I found the career bag I needed to begin my new job in March. I bought that bag at my local White House Black Market after finding and then failing to purchase my number one choice from WHBM on St. Armands Cirlce in Sarasota, Florida. So, I settled for this one:

I have loved it, even though the top is too small and sometimes I think the silver clashes with my oh-so trendy gold jewelry, which I swore would never make a comeback.

Recently, I have had a torrid romance with Vera Bradley and her sassy print bags.

But when I got my new job, my Veras just didn’t seem polished and professional. I had new qualifications. This fall, my bag requirements were as follows: big, (but not huge) bright color, (possibly orange) and wide open at the top so I could cram lots of stuff into it with ease. Then I learned I would be attending a women’s conference this past weekend as part of my job and the pressure to find the perfect bag was amped up about ten notches! Most of you know that finding the perfect accessory takes time – often LOTS of time. Now I was down to a few trips into various favorite stores, with only minutes a time to look around. The intense pressure caused me to purchase this:

Notice the details: it’s big, (and huge) black, (not brightly colored) and narrow at the top. *sigh* This purse is going to be the death of me! I knew I needed something nearly tote-bag size in order to carry the things every girl needs at a weekend conference – bible, notebook, assorted writing instruments, bottled water, sunglasses, several cosmetic items and snacks. Anyone who knows me knows that my purse always contains snacks, candy & gum. Small children follow me because of this fact. This girl needs to be able to graze throughout the day! I can’t be starving while waiting for people to decide where we are going to lunch or trying to MapQuest the dinner restaurant on their iPhones.

So I grabbed this bag, this carry-on luggage, in a moment of fashion panic at my local T. J. Maxx. (Where you get the max for the minimum) I paid more than I wanted for it, but it really was the only option outside of a Michael Kors bag that I was drooling over. (I love you, Michael Kors, but I can’t afford your gorgeous designs – I have a child to educate.)

Turns out that this bag is so big it needed its own seat at the conference. Seriously. The foot room at the base of the seats at the Edward Jones Dome is almost non-existent and I was having issues just trying to fit my size 9 heels under my chair. So, my purse got its own seat. And then, my purse got its own name. Meet Frank, my new purse.

Frank and I have a love/hate relationship, but we are thinking about getting counseling, so there may be hope for us. Frank is a little too big, a little too shiny, and definitely too blingy. And what about that big “G” made of rhinestones? At first I thought I would tell people the “G” stood for grace, or God, but now I know what it really means – garbage bag. Like as in the tall kitchen size. Seriously, I carry Frank with bling turned into my body because I am horrified by the blinginess of it. This thing looks like a feed bag of some sort – I should fill it up with some M&M’s and head to the local cinema with it. (Actually, that is not a bad idea.)
So really, Frank is Frankenstein, my monster purse. Which turns out is not a bad theme for next month, so it’s all good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

18 Years of Blessing!

Over my life, I have heard the phrase "time flies" hundreds of times. Never has it been more true than today. This morning, as I awoke and saw my clock at 7:37, I had an immediate flashback to 18 years earlier, to the last minute of my first pregnancy & more importantly - childbirth. At 7:38 a.m. on September 7th, 1991, I became a mother for the first time. Austin came into this world four weeks premature, screaming at the top of his lungs, and thankfully, completely healthy. He was finally in my arms after 11 weeks of bed rest, 9 hospitalizations and countless hours of prayer for his health and safety. This child had already turned my life upside down and inside out. I was completely, blissfully in love from the moment he was placed in my arms.

God knew, as only He can, that this boy and I needed each other. In many ways, we grew up together, taking turns at being teacher and student. I was and continue to be, completely amazed and enthralled with watching my son encounter the world. He is so ready for anything that comes his way! Ever curious, always interested and imminently laid-back, he is a joy to know. Spending time with him continues to be one of my favorite things to do. Just the two of us hanging out and watching t.v. or in the midst of his cool friends; both are a treat. Even a trip to the local grocery store is fun - because we have fun together no matter what we are doing. No one makes me laugh harder or think more deeply than my son.

We have been blessed as a family with masses of memorable moments. Travelling by car all across this country over the years - from golf course to golf course - has given us ample opportunity to spend time together. We have bonded over long talks, listening to music, making up silly games like the "Motor Home Game", and laughter, so much laughter.

All my best stories revolve around the funny things Austin has said or done over the years. If you haven't heard the "Chochi Flo" story or the "She's not my mother!" story - you need only ask me. It takes very little to get me going on Austin B. stories or "Austinisms" as his Nana calls them.

Over these past 18 years, I have prayed thousands of prayers for this young man. I have asked the Lord to bless Austin, to mature him, to lead him. I have prayed for my future daughter-in-law since he was born. I've prayed for his safety, his friends, his education. The biggest and most important prayer over these years has been this: "May he one day own his own faith in God. May he come to know and follow hard after Jesus." The biggest and most important thing I have to say today is this: He has. He does.

Praise be to God. Thank you, Father. Thank you for this most miraculous gift. Thank you for letting me raise this child. Thank you for growing him into a precious and devoted follower of Yours.

Happy Birthday to my son, Austin!
In honor of your 18th birthday, here is your very own "A to Z" list.

ABF - From A to Z

You are:

A- Athletic, active, achiever
B- Blonde, bible-reading, basketball player
C- Caring, charismatic
D- Deeply devoted
E- Especially energetic
F- Faithful, fun, funny, friend to many - Feezy!
G- Guitar playing, godly, goofy, good GPA
H- Handsome, happy, hazel-eyed
I- Independent individual
J- Joyful, jovial, jokester
K- Kind-hearted, kid-friendly
L- Loyal, loving, laughs a lot
M- Muscular, manly, musical
N- Nice, noisy, non-stop
O- Outgoing
P- Positive, point guard
Q- Quirky, questioning
R- Relentlessing pursuing the LORD
S- Smart, silly, spunky
T- Trustworthy
U- Unique
V- Victorious in Jesus
W- Winsome, worshipful
X- Xcellent character
Y- Yearns for truth
Z- Zealous for the LORD

I love you, Bud.