It’s Good to Be Back

I have neglected this blog. I decided to pursue other writing under an assumed name, because I felt I would not be completely myself if I was worried about what people may think of my deeper, more personal thoughts and feelings. However, I haven’t written much there, either. Writing for me comes and goes in terms of desire and inspiration, and it’s been a very eventful year. 2015 featured in its table of contents the death of my mother, the serious violation of my loved-one by a predator, a very difficult and stressful job that I left, and has culminated with my trip to the doctor. I left with a prescription for antidepressants, and also- a higher dose of Levothyroxine for my under-active thyroid. I feel better. I am grateful for the help, and I am slowing coming back into the light. 

So, if you struggle with your weight despite watching everything you eat, portion control, and regular exercise, it’s time to see your doctor, especially if you are a woman, to see if an underactive thyroid could be the culprit. Let me tell you that my weight has already dropped by 8 pounds since getting the right dose of thyroid medication. My appetite is greatly reduced, and sometimes I have to remind myself to eat more. 1,000 calories seems like a lot now! And really, I need a bit more than that. As to low-carb, I have been doing that for so long, that eating that way for the most part is just my normal routine. The problem comes in when I start engaging in a few deleterious behaviors. If you are struggling to stay on low-carb, or have stopped seeing success, watch out for the following  bad habits which may have crept in.

  1. Alcohol consumption. I had been creeping up on drinking. Usually I indulged in light beer, or that new water-based beverage with basically no carbs but still with alcohol. So your liver focuses on detoxing the alcohol, blood sugar actually drops, and you end up more hungry. If you are consuming very sweet drinks, however, that changes the dynamic a bit, and you are still taking in those extra calories in place of actually giving your body nutrition. Also, if you are addictive, as I am, it’s a very bad sugar substitute, alcohol. It leads to all sorts of evils. Keeping things in moderation is not what an addictive is good at. An addict is good at more and more all the time. I prefer the term ‘addictive’, because it means to me that I am prone to it, but am not necessarily committed to it. I believe the stress of the year contributed to my choice to drink more, but it’s certainly not a good self-medication therapy. Things were spinning out of control.
  2. Too many cheat days. A cheat meal is not the same thing as a cheat DAY. That one day of eating whatever I wanted was really hard to come back from. One meal is much easier to recover from, in terms of blood sugar levels. Besides, I always feel like crap after a big, nasty carb day. I don’t mean oatmeal and quinoa. I was loading up on cookies, donuts, and ice cream- like- all day long. Immediately I would retain fluids and be up about 1-4 pounds virtually overnight. No joke. Now, last night I made a tuna casserole, and I ate some for dinner. I won’t be surprised to find I am up a pound over yesterday, but I also recognize that will correct itself if I get back on track today. And I have no problem doing that, because I didn’t completely put my body out of whack by indulging all day long yesterday.
  3. No activity. I had a sit down job, and was mentally drained at the end of the day. I skipped too many workouts. It showed. At the age of 46-47, muscle loss happens more quickly almost yearly. It takes weight bearing exercise to keep muscle. Don’t neglect it, and don’t do overdo the cardio at the expense of weight bearing. it helps to  actually schedule my workouts on the calendar. I even set reminders on my phone with encouraging , tough love messages, like, “Work out today, you know you want to!” Or, “Get moving, you lazy slug!” Whatever works. There are many great sources for finding a good routine. Gyms have trainers, often for free, who will help you put a plan together and hold you accountable for progress.
  4. Not weighing in once a week. It was easier to ignore the scale altogether than to face the truth. Weighing first thing in the morning once or twice a week helps me see the immediate effects of my nutrition and exercise habits and to make adjustments. Just don’t get obsessive about it. For example, don’t be disappointed when you’re five pounds up during PMS week.
  5. Stress. It’s easy to get worked up about the election, the cat that just peed on the bed when you just washed the comforter the night before, or that your parent is in the hospital. Stress is deadly. It’s deadly to your diet, your mental health, and many other areas of your physical health. Try prayer, mediation, yoga, talking to a friend. Do what you need to do to get healthy. Sometimes a therapist may be helpful. Sometimes a trip to the doctor is in order. Some people are just very good at staying low-stress, because they have great coping mechanisms and understand that life is a beautiful thing that is just naturally ‘flawed’. That’s part of the beauty. We learn, we grow in faith, or we suffer. We do all the right things, and we still suffer. But in the midst of that, be sure to keep reaching out. Talk to someone. Work through the issues. Worry won’t solve it.
  6. Food is fuel. It should be tasty and enjoyed, but don’t make it the love of your life. Focus on family, friends, staying healthy. Develop hobbies that don’t involve running to the kitchen for a mindless snack simply out of boredom.
  7. Getting SO bored of oily meat and salads! Believe me, I know! Go to http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com , as one shining example, of GREAT LC/GF and other diet specialty recipes and ideas. Start a low-carb board on Pinterest and look for and try the huge variety of recipes and refresh your idea of what low-carb is. Everybody is busy, but not every meal needs to be roast beef wrapped around 1/2 stick of butter. Get your creative juices flowing. Set aside a time and a budget for some of the pricier ingredients that low-carb can include. For example- almond flour, xanthan gum, Swerve, etc. You need to find a good source for some of these ingredients, because not all are available, or available at a good price, at the local grocers. Meanwhile, investigate new recipes for old standbys. There’s more to do with broccoli than just steam it.
  8. Peer pressure. Your family wants mashed potatoes, corn bread, corn, and fried chicken. Fine. Let them have it. You don’t have to eat it. Have a grilled chicken salad with avocado, and colorful red bell pepper, and make them jealous!
  9. Trigger foods. Pizza? Hot rolls? Fresh cookies? Decide if it’s really worth it. Decide if you can act in moderation. Do your best to just ignore it. It’s not a temptation unless you BELIEVE it to be. Maybe this is the time for the cheat meal. But maybe you can wait for the birthday cake on Friday. You get the idea. Have some suitable, satisfying alternatives in your pantry or fridge to satisfy the immediate urges, and carry on.

Favorite low-carb emergency foods: (assuming you are ok with artificial sweeteners . I have alternatives for those, too. )

Light and Fit Greek yogurt at 80 calories and about 9 net carbs. YUM. Very satisfying. Atkin’s meal and treat bars. String cheese. Flavored almonds, Low carb tortillas are in my home at all times. I use them for everything. Even my own pizza. I use liquid stevia in my coffee. Cottage cheese with berries on top. I make mock cheesecakes in single serve sizes using ramekins. I sweeten with Splenda or Swerve or stevia. Berry-protein smoothies. I use vanilla whey or vanilla vegan protein powder and mix with almond milk and frozen blueberries or strawberries.  I mix in spinach as well, and can’t even taste it once blended. I have this regularly for breakfast.

Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. Light and Crisp crackers by Wasa. Peanut butter is a huge staple, as well as almond flour. I enjoy eggs, and use them in a variety of ways. The point here is, with a little investigation and strategy, you can build your own low-carb go-to stash that works for YOU. Notice that most of these have a protein component. Proteins and fats are your FRIENDS. Stop trying to avoid fat. The only time you want to avoid fat is when it’s the fake, hydrogenated kind found in things like Lil’ Debbie’s snack cakes, pre-packaged junk like Cheetos, bologna, etc. The more prepared it is, the worse it generally is for you.

So, I am back. The medication is certainly helping me get back to where I feel like me again, but God has been at work in my life big time. I am very grateful for all the support and love I have had from friends and family , and for all the prayers. If you see yourself in a similar struggle, don’t go it all alone. Talk to someone. Take your life back.

 

 

 

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Fallen from Low-Carb Grace?!

I’d like to believe that I ‘got this’ when it comes to low-carb eating and living. It’s all been done, I know all the ways to stay at my weight, yada yada.

This last two weeks have been a dismal failure. Not because I didn’t stay low-carb, but not AS low as I had been. I thought for sure that at this point, I could increase my carb count. I’ve been at 30-35 for so long, what would fifty hurt? I am sure I have not exceeded 50, but that’s all it took, I guess. This week, especially, I have watched my weight climb by almost a pound a DAY.  I can’t even explain to you how this has pissed me off and mystified me simultaneously. I will spend hours of thought on trying to figure out just what series of mistakes I have been making in order to cut it out. The extra meat portions? The no-holds-barred approach to salad dressing and extra large portions of salad? The extra carbs in addition to that? The old urges returning?

The thought of going back to a strict 20-gram induction has  not escaped me. The idea of the eggs/cheese/fat/meat/greens that I stayed so faithful to for so long without a break is not exactly thrilling me, though.

My low weight was 123. I decided 126-128 was fine. Two days ago I was at 129.4, yesterday it was 130, today it is 131.4 . I don’t know what gives, but I am  up almost ten pounds. Still, I do feel fit and not fat, but where does this end? What am I willing to do to make it stop? What do I have to do? Do I have to go back to stage 1, induction, or stage 2, with some extra portion control? Does portion control still merit a look-see even on Atkin’s? Funny thing is, I never needed to worry about that before. Two eggs or three, more or less bacon; it didn’t seem to matter.

I do believe our bodies are pre-set to a range of ‘normal’ weight, that if we undercut through  extreme measures, our bodies will slow down to conserve energy, thus making it so easy to gain, and so much harder to lose. I do believe age is also a factor. But no matter what I believe, the only person who can change this is me.

So, off the horse of “easy-peasy” I have fallen. I’m quite annoyed about it.

I wonder if my new schedule of working super early in the morning could be part of the culprit? While I try not to eat before a ‘normal’ breakfast time, many days find me eating at 5 a.m., nine a.m, after work at one o’clock, and having a normal dinner, and possibly a snack after that. Maybe it’s all too much.

Here come the maybe’s. I told you I’d be stewing.

And here’s the thing about all this physical activity ‘causing’ weight loss. It’s not enough to exercise and to burn off less than you are taking in. If this is true, calories DO still count. I guess it’s just easier to eat less when you feel satisfied, and maybe the bit of extra carbs has stoked up my appetite for more food. I think I may be on to something here.

Height: 5’4. Small frame/petite bone structure

High weight: 155: 2010

Mid-weight, end of 2010: Dieting for my wedding- watching carbs and portions but not too strictly- 135.

Three months after wedding- 142. Up to size 13 pants.

Began serious Atkin’s: January 2012

First three months: Pants looser, struggled on- no pounds lost. Fifth month- 7 pounds. Encouraged, continued to lose another 10 pounds in the next several months.

Feb-March- Maintained 123-125. Content with that.

April- The climb began at the end of this month, commensurate with increased exercise, coincidentally enough. I’ve seen this pattern before…

May: The climb plateaued, and I decided 127 was ok.

June: Maintaining until about the tenth. Then it all started to climb again, like mad. Several things changed though. I started getting lax in my counting, eating 2-3 Atkins bars at a time,   whereas one was fine before, eating larger portions, trying new recipes that were lowERED carb, not necessarily low enough…

Low-Weight: 122. February, 2013.

Well, any encouragement would be nice, and thank you for reading!

Low-carb AMAZING and G.F. recipes/food

www.ibreatheimhungry.com

The author of this site, that I just discovered, is a food genius! I have seen some truly amazing looking and sounding recipes and ideas here that I have seen nowhere else. I went there looking for low carb grasshopper pie, and found a lot more! Go check out her site- you might be as amazed as I was.

Top Ten Gifts I Absolutely Despise

OK, first of all- let me state that any gift that comes my way shows, to some degree, that I was thought about enough to cause some poor soul to part with some cash, wrap a gift, and put my name on it. That, at least, took some thought, some care, some semblance of decency. Thank you all. But to set the record straight, there are certain gifts that should never have been. A card would have sufficed. A $5 gift card to the local McDonald’s would have been better, even for the dedicated low-carb dieter.

Here is the non-exhaustive list of gifts that I will flat-out BURN if any of you Cretins dare bequeath them to me again:

1) The Pithy Plaque. “Live, Love, Laugh”. Wow. Printed on mass produced white pulp pressed into a ‘wooden’ square, and sold for .99 at any Buck-a Bang store, proudly emblazoned with a golden sticker proclaiming “Made in China”. I have a few of these already. I am not impressed. Please, please don’t do it.

2) The bath bead/balm/oil pellets/jelly orbs, whatever. I do not wish to smell like lavender, cucumbers, amber, nor lilacs. I don’t  wish my children to slip on the leftover oil slick in the bathtub and fall to their deaths, and I certainly don’t need any bath time salt crystals. At all. Ever. Don’t DO it! Think- “UTI risk” , and just SKIP IT.

3) Gifts for YOU or the house, cleverly disguised as ‘gifts’ for me. So, you know I am on a low-carb diet, but you filled my stocking with your favorite candy. How convenient. You bought pictures for the bathroom wall, and after giving them to me, you clearly give me directions on how and where to hang them. Perfect. If you wanted my creativity to shine, you should have just given me a gift card to the craft store or framers and called it good. But, no. You used your taste and you selected the ‘art item’. So, take it and hang it… Ditto for the “Love with all Your Heart, all Your Life” coffee mug. Was I not loving enough that you thought I must need a reminder?  Rubbish- take it away! Where’s the receipt, seriously…

4) The gift that was clearly never intended for me, or you just don’t know me at ALL. OK, I love tennis, but you got me a racquetball racket. Clever. Thoughtful. You don’t even play friggin’ racquetball! So-  WHY?

5) The completely meaningless gift: A crew-neck tee shirt advertising some brand name I don’t care about, in a color only you like. Plus, it’s a medium. Way to play it safe.  Oops! Must have tossed it in the Christmas Trash Bag….so sorry! That’s OK, we can replace it sometime when I go to the dollar store…

6) The all-in-one cosmetic tray of value. For $ 9.99 you get all the recycled watercolor paints and colored whale blubber a woman could dream of , all crammed into an enormous palette of goo that any 2-cent whore would be proud to own. Genius. You know I am burning it just to see the pretty colors melt into some semblance of temporary artwork.

7) Stale, plastic wrapped ‘coffee and tea’ set. Unknown brand, unknown flavors- like, “Mango-hazelnut Vanilla Rum Spice Cake” tea. Hmmn, Nummy. I know, let’s not and say we did.

8) THE MUFFLER/Scarf. You ever seen me wear a scarf? No. Clue # 1. I am not gonna start now. Thanks, though. I am sure Aunt Beth worked really hard on it, or was it Walmart again?

9) The “I have designs on your life” gift. Self help books, “How to beat Booze Addiction with Yoga Breathing”, “Jax Branfield’s Guide to Living without Regrets”, and ” I think I can be Famous” are not books I want to see under the tree, or anywhere. Thanks, though. Oh, and I will throw diet books straight at your head, so DUCK fast, a**holes!

10) The gift of ” I didn’t remember you at all”. In some cases, this gift is preferable to many of the above, but when it’s someone you really care about and who you believe cares about you, nothing speaks louder than silence. Well, that’s all folks, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

“Devil’s Own” Special Sauce- Not for the Squeamish

WARNING: If you thought you were about to read a really great recipe for hot BBQ sauce, STOP NOW! This isn’t THAT!

I hate 5:45 a.m. on my day off. I hate it that it’s still dark. Actually, it’s not the time of day I hate at all. It certainly isn’t the warm, snuggly covers, either. Entirely un-hateful. What’s hateful is day one of my period when it follows night one, light one- of my period.

I used to have this crazy superstition that when you have a late period, you might be pregnant. That was before the tubal ligation/cauterization procedure I had in 1995, and before I approached living- relic age. Now my superstition is that when your period is really late, it’s because you wanted a baby- at some insane, glandular level- so badly that you just keep holding out. Biology disagrees. But one thing is for sure. When my period is late, is can finally come in with a near-hemorrhagic flood that mere “super plus” tampons and pads just can’t handle. Ditto the sheet. Oh, and the mattress pad.

I had been having a lovely dream, in the perfect cool, peace, and quiet of the pre-dawn. Days are already getting shorter. The sun is sleeping in now, too, It’s after six and he’s a no-show.  Perfect for sleeping at five-forty-five in the blessed morning. Ah, the dream. I was on the roof of some structure, and my husband was assuring me that climbing down the rail on the side was easy, just like ‘last time’. I don’t want to tell him that I don’t remember doing this last time, but then I do start to remember. Besides, this isn’t too high, really. Maybe one story. I have no idea why I was up there. Then I dreamed that my mother in law was very, very elderly. She and I and my daughter Kay-tee are sitting in a cafeteria eating. My mother -in-law is talking about ‘tare-a-mel’. And I am puzzled, and say, annoyed, “you mean Caramel?”  

I don’t know why, maybe because I was starting to stick to the sheets, but at that point I woke up and everything felt very wrong. I quickly deduced the  age-old problem and stumbled into the laundry room with the offended bed clothes. As usual, random songs I have heard since I was a small child start streaming through my mind, leftover dreams that are clinging to me. I dream in song quite a bit. Today’s selections included, “Lady in Red”, and “Slip-Slidin’ Away”.   I was not ready to wake up yet today. I want to cry. I feel like I need to have an vitamin with iron, so I do. I also have a spoon of peanut butter and a half-banana. Need to keep my energy up after all… that…blood…loss… The dramatics are getting ridiculous.  The sheets are in the wash, with the mattress cover, and I am up drinking warmed up coffee from yesterday. I am also thinking that it’s not too late to slip back into a nice morning sleep session. It’s still dark outside, at 6:26. It won’t be long until sunrise, though.

None of that matters, now. I was awakened by “The Monthly Torrent,” “The Red Tide”,  the “Devil’s Own Special Sauce”. There’s no going back to sleep now. Or is there?

Young- Minded

I have never been one too keen on sentimentality. This, I believe, is the result of having to part with things and people so much in my life, that I realized long ago that things don’t carry meaning. People and their memories do. However, about photographs I am particularly sentimental. I love to see how we keep changing over the years. I love to see photos of my children. I take everything in. What an ugly sofa we had back then. Which toys were the girls playing with? Oh, look- Ash still had some baby teeth in that one! I notice the red noses from the latest cold they had, or the fact that my daughter was washing dishes while standing on a plastic step stool designed for brushing teeth. She was wearing her little girl undies under a one-piece bathing suit. Priceless. Then there are photos of times, people, and places we’d almost forgotten. Seeing them again, so much younger, brings back a lot of memories.

I say I am not sentimental….Perhaps I am just lying to myself and everyone else. I cried when my Saturn finally blew up. I’d had that car for about ten years. My husband repaired it. Prior to that, the car ran  zero maintenance other than tires, brakes, and oil changes. My beloved car served me and my girls faithfully until the bitter end. The car had over 300k miles on it when my daughter parked in the wrong spot, it became impounded, and the lovely people at the towing company wanted us to pay $1,500 ransom to get it out. See ya, Saturn.

I believe that staying in the present, and not feeling the need to continually live in the past, the ‘glory days’, is what keeps us young-minded and moving forward to new learning and greater challenges. It drives me crazy when people over fifty have this deep need to share with anyone and everyone how much better and different it was ‘back then’. There is a time and place for history telling. I am all for keeping a journal of the good ol’ days, and I applaud anyone who wants to re-establish ways of the past that are better than the way things are done, now; for instance, men and boys wearing their pants as to completely cover their rear-ends.

It’s always interesting, also, when people who are in their twenties don’t know what an 8-track is, or fail to understand any of my pop-iconic references. When I make a stupid joke which involves looking up at an overhead prop plane and then pointing up while lisping, “Duh plane, boss, duh plane”, I just get looks one saves for a special group in society that most of us might call ‘completely mad’.

Another phrase I hate to hear, and hate even more when it pops out of my blather-hole, is “Nowadays”. If I don’t like something that’s new, I don’t blame it on the newness of it. I simply dislike it. If my daughter turns on some music I don’t like, I don’t feel the need to give her a lecture about how ‘today’s music don’t have the same soul, I like that old time rock-n-roll”, I just say, “Turn that crap off, please. I am so not in the mood.” I would say the same thing if my mom turned on her ‘easy listening’ instrumentals and sappy songsters crap. Wait- I would not say that to my mom, because she’s my mom. I would just daydream of a dull knife in the eye while figuring out which appointment I can make up that I just ‘have to’ be to- right now.

The point of it all is, don’t get too attached to the past. And don’t get too caught up in the now, because tomorrow it will be history. Finally, don’t worry about the future. You will still be seen as an old fart no matter how progressive you may wish to believe yourself to be. I will keep you all posted when this phenomenon finally occurs to me, but until then, stay young-minded. Don’t be afraid to do something different, and to embrace something new.

They say there is truly nothing new under the sun, after all. It’s all been done, whether in toga or pajama jeans. By the way, I hate those! Nowadays people think being couch-comfy is more important than being well-dressed and presentable. Back in my day, we wore crotch cutting jeans and we were proud of it! 😉

Nothing Screams like Silence

I usually get at least a few likes for every blog post I make, so nothing screamed more loudly to me that my fiction writing sucks than the absolute dead silence it has received. I would be open to constructive criticism, even outright booing, but the silence really hurts. Anyone who would please review/ critique ” Unbroken” for me would make my day. Thanks!