Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Raisin Monster

So, I found out that I have another food that I'm better off NOT having: Raisins.

I know. What?

After teaching this morning, I made a run to the grocery store to stock up on lots of veggies and fruits and assorted goodies. We had cleaned out the fridge recently and there was plenty of room for fresh, new stuff. So there I was in the aisle with the olives and pickles (I've been on a big olive kick lately) when lo, across the way? Raisins. A medium bag of Sun-Maid was on sale so I got some. When I got home and C. saw them, he was like, "Oh no! I turn into a raisin monster. You should hide these, or I will eat the whole bag." I thought this was really funny and odd, until I brought the bag to the couch with me as an after-dinner snack. A wee while later? I realized that I was a Raisin Monster, too. There was just a little left, and I tossed them over to C. to enjoy.

I couldn't believe it! Gobbled up like nothing. Sure, there are worse things to indulge in, but still. Any food that makes me eat like that has no business in my mouth, to be honest. It's no big sacrifice, since it is so rare that I'd buy raisins anyway, but still. What a surprise.

Dinner was great. It was sort of a late lunch that turned into an early dinner, actually. Roasted salmon with roasted asparagus (my favorite way to prepare veggies), plus some mashed acorn squash (dressed with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper —yum!) and a lovely side salad. (I'm going to miss those heirloom tomatoes that we've been harvesting from our little garden the past couple months, by the way!) Delicious.

OK, so I think that I am noticing a difference in my energy level, finally! Case in point: Usually after any teaching day, I come home and crash. Literally. I'd come home and take a nap for a few hours. Well, not today! I went shopping afterward, and when I came home, I did relax a bit, but then got up to prepare dinner. And I am not half as tired now as I usually might be.

Of course, it could also be that I got a decent amount of sleep last night, too. Ever since school started, I've gotten to bed late on a school night. When you need to give yourself an hour before class time to get to school, and class starts at 8am, that is a recipe for disaster the next day. I always make it through teaching just fine, but by the time I get done at 12:30, I've had it. (I know, I sound ridiculously spoiled.)

Whatever the reason, it is nice to feel like I am going to keel over on Mondays and Wednesdays. I'll keep eating what I am eating, and drinking lots of water (I always get really dehydrated when I'm teaching for some reason, so I drink a LOT of water). The no soda thing has been SO easy, I can't even tell you. Sometimes I'll want to reach for a can out of habit, but it is not hard to flick that switch and turn on the tap. I got some fresh limes today to squeeze in, and I also got some seltzer water to try.

I'm excited about using the eggplant, spaghetti squash, and cauliflower I bought today. Not all in one dish necessarily. ;)

You should have seen me at the grocery store! Talk about shopping around the perimeter — that was totally me today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Keeping It Real

Happily, I have had no problem going to back to the doctor's directive since Sunday's transgression. Funny enough, I am still feeling weird about eating popcorn and beans, even though they weren't on the "no" list, but I think that I really need to stop over thinking what he is asking me to do and be proud of the changes that I've been able to comfortably make in such a short time. I'm pretty impressed that I dug myself out of that hole I was in, to be honest. Before I went to the doctor I just really didn't know how I was going to start eating more healthfully and start doing other things for the benefit of my health.

It just goes to show when you have the right doctor who knows just the right things to say... and who knows not to be judgmental. Not to mention how wonderful it is to have the unabashed support of family and friends, which I have had not only in the real world, but here in the blogosphere as well. I haven't been replying to each individual comment, but trust me that they do get read and that they do keep me going. Thank you so, so much -- big shout outs especially to Stacie and Chrissy! Seriously, dudes. You've never given up on me.

I gotta say, I'm really getting into the concept of eating healthy -- not just the action. I've been doing a little reading here and there, including the Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health, of which I have not yet delved into the recipes, but anxious to -- the intro and glossary alone was a good read! I'm also still thinking about meditation and yoga but haven't acted on them yet. Same with walking. I don't know why it is so hard for me to just get out there and do it! It feels a little overwhelming, to be honest.

Today I finally got around to calling my doctor's office back. They had called last week saying that the doctor wanted to see me about the results of my blood work, which kind of freaked me out, especially since I'd already had an appointment scheduled in early November. Long story short, I finally was able to talk to someone today and get a better answer about what the concerns might be. I was worried that it was diabetes, but also figured that if it was, he'd have had me in right away. Turns out, it wasn't anything I've not heard before: Cholesterol levels and vitamins. Same exact thing last time I had blood work done with the little neighborhood clinic. Phew!!! Here's hoping that both will be well improved by the next round of tests as a result of my better eating habits and the addition of some exercise to my schedule. All I can say is, thank goodness no diabetes -- I have a very real fear about developing it, which is one of the larger reasons why I am very happy to be doing what I am doing now. My mom developed it a few years ago, as did my dad's brother. Both are just taking pills for it, but still. I don't ever want to have to deal with that if I can avoid it.

Oh, and my moratorium on diet soda? No problem. I don't really miss it, to be honest! Every time I drink a glass of water, I enjoy the fact that I am doing something good for my body.

Feeling very positive about everything today.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another tough day

So, I would like to thank Lyn for doing what she's doing and sharing it with all of us. Lyn, you sort of saved me just now.

I was still feeling a little, well... not quite as committed today to my experiment. In fact, I veered away from my doctor's orders for the first time since I began over two weeks ago.

It was sort of planned. We were making the eight-hour round trip to Binghamton and back today to pick up some of my paintings from a gallery, and I happened to find out before hand that there is now a Sonic Drive-In there. Previous to this, there were no Sonics in New York state. Big deal? Well, my boyfriend and I LOVE their real fruit slushes, the lemon-berry in particular. For me, it had been years since I'd tasted one. We decided to stop there and I decided to get one.

Second mistake I made was to leave the house without eating, or bringing any appropriate snacks. By the time we got to Sonic, I was all like, "F%$! it!" and we shared a double cheeseburger and medium tater tot. I had a few bites of the burger, and about five or six tots. I didn't go crazy. The worst thing I ingested today was probably the large slush, to be honest.

This is terrible, I know, but — we also stopped at a roadside BBQ place after that. I had chicken (yay!) but also sampled some of C.'s pulled pork (boo!) on a roll (double boo!). I had a wee bit of potato salad, and some baked beans. Nothing in huge portions, but certainly some of the wrong stuff to eat.

I came home and had some popcorn. With ice water!

Writing this all out makes me feel a little better. I indulged in a few "forbidden" items today but I don't feel that I overdid it in the way that I know I am capable of, so that's good. I also feel that those little indulgences weren't really worth it — not even the slush! Lyn's post that I linked to really drove that home for me. Her "before" body is very similar to mine (I am a little taller), and I am just amazed at the transformation of her "in progress" body. I want that!!! I really, really do.

I think one of my biggest problems is that it is really hard for me to visualize what I can look like after losing a significant amount of weight. I have been "normal" and even thin before, but the last time was when I was in my mid-20s and so it is hard for me to connect to that person I was in the past, you know? That was a long time ago. I was also a very unhealthy person back then in many ways (not illness per se, but I did abuse my body from the time I was a teenager on). The person I am today desires to take care of her body, and even exalt it. I have a very different mind set from those days. But I still can't make that visualization.

Anyway. About today. I am not mad at myself, or even disappointed. The experience and the choices I made helped drive home the things that are most important to me. A tasty treat? Um, not so much. Feeling really good in my body and even looking really good? Yes, please! Not that these two things are mutually exclusive.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some days are harder than others

Today has been one of my roughest days so far. I'm not really sure why!

OK, first thing's first. After having read Get the Sugar Out, I have decided to give up diet sodas again, and experiment with club soda for those times I want some fizz in my drinks. Reading about how NutraSweet and Aspartame are serotonin suppressors kind of freaked me out. Here's what sold me on giving them up, found on page 156:

"Without adequate serotonin, the body experiences intense sugar and carbohydrate cravings, which can lead to uncontrollable binge eating, which -- guess what? -- leads to more weight gain."

Wow, right? I mean, I've heard bits and pieces of info about how diet sodas don't do your diet (and I mean your overall eating, not a diet) good, but this really brought it home for me. I had been in the middle of a can of diet Pepsi while reading that, and decided right then and there that was going to be my last. It feels like a good, informed, intelligent decision that I know I can live with. The book also mentions how Stevia is a sweetener that can be used with no ill effects, so I may look into that more. I know, no groundbreaking news here...

I was invited over to lunch last week to my friend Anne's house, and she made an awesome fritatta that had shrimp, black beans, and corn in it (among spices and other good stuff, I am sure). It was delicious. I never really thought about combining shrimp with black beans before, but seeing how I love both, it made sense. Of course I had to try my own version at home, and I've already made it a couple times -- and believe it or not, it is as satisfying to me as the very fattening beef and black bean burritos I used to make. Here's how I do it.

Amy's Anne's Shrimp and Black Bean Fritatta


Olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan when you swish it around (or, cooking spray)
1-2 hot chile peppers (I used Island Hellfire chiles that we grew, you can leave this out if you don't like spicy), minced
A clove or two of garlic, minced
1-2 scallions, white and light green parts chopped

1 can of black beans (15 or 19 oz.), drained (Anne used dried, soaked beans, I think -- they have a nice fresh taste! You can try that, too)
1/2 lb. cooked or raw shrimp, shells off
A few eggs (I've been experimenting with this and it seems you can do anywhere from two to five, depending on how much like a pie you'd like it to be), beaten
About a half dozen cherry tomatoes or a small tomato (preferably heirloom and freshly picked from your garden), chopped
A sprinkle of the cheese of your choice (or not -- Anne's did not have cheese and it was still excellent; I've been using a cheddar-jack combo)

Dashes of the following: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin. I also have a wonderful cocoa-chile powder that I love to use in Mexcian-inspired dishes like this)

Optional: Sour cream, salsa, black olives, sprigs of fresh cilantro

To make:

Turn on your broiler.

In a large (12") oven-proof frying pan, heat the oil, and add the chiles and garlic. Let the aromatics sizzle a bit, and then add the green onion. When the green onion has softened, add the raw shrimp and spices and cook until the shrimp curls and turns pink. If using pre-cooked shrimp, you can add it now with the spices, but cook it just enough that it starts to curl and gets covered with the aromatics -- it obviously won't take as long as the raw shrimp.

Add the can of black beans and let simmer two or three minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour your eggs over the concoction as evenly as possible, and then sprinkle the tomato pieces on top. After a minute or two, add about a handful of cheese (or less, or none, if you prefer). Cover for two or three more minutes, until the cheese has started to melt. Remove from heat, uncover, and place under the broiler for another minute or two, until everything is pretty well set and very lightly browned.

I like to eat mine with a dollop of sour cream, some salsa and/or hot sauce sprinkled liberally, and a little dish of black olives on the side. I haven't had any at home, but I would also happily top it all with plenty of fresh cilantro, but I'll leave that to your preference.



It's like, my new favorite meal. I owe a big thanks to Anne for having me over for lunch one day and being willing to cook for me within my eating limitations, and totally inspiring me! Note that she also served hers with a some mixed greens on the side, which is very nice.

One other thing I've been eating that I realized wasn't exactly on the no-eat list is popcorn, which is filling and tasty.

Wow, can you tell that I am obsessed with food today? It's the first time since I started this experiment. I can't stop thinking about it. Well, anyway, for dinner we're getting the gyro place in town, only I am going to have the open chicken souvlaki, sans pita. That should be good and filling. I've been lazy today and just haven't felt like doing anything.

And, if you were wondering... um, I have not yet started walking regularly for no good reason. Didn't I promise? Ugh. I'd better get on that. Sometimes, though, I have to admit I get into the mindset of "One thing at the time". This eating thing is a challenge, you know? It sucks to take on everything at once. For now, I'm definitely eating less and eating much better than I used to, which is great. I'm frankly not going to beat myself up too much about everything else for now.

I will get through today without succumbing to my cravings, by the way. I'm pretty dedicated to doing this full-on, it's just that I'm having a hard day. This too shall pass!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Revisiting Life Goals

Almost two years ago, over at my old blog (see the link to it in the sidebar) I posted notes on my original list of life goals that I had drawn up about nine months before to see what sort of progress I was making on them. Having read the list and those notes now, it's pretty startling how many things I've actually been able to accomplish. I am very proud of myself, to say the least — I've done things now that I'd never, ever thought I'd be able to do in my life.

Goes to show the power of writing down your goals and dreams, yes?

Without further adieu, here it is! Original goals are from February 2008, notes from October 2008 are in parentheses, and notes from today are in italics.

1. I want to catch up on all the recurring household bills and always pay them on time from now on (I still very much want to do this, but it hasn't happened yet -- I think I am getting close, though!). Goal accomplished! I've been paying my bills on time for quite a while now. It's a great feeling.

2. Same for debts I have incurred (Ditto on this, though there has been progress; I've been studying Dave Ramsey). While I still have student loans, and probably will for a very long time, not to mention the mortgage, I have paid off my credit card debt minus one small one that I will take care of by the end of the year. This was totally thanks to a gift from my mom, for which I am endlessly thankful. It changed my life. I am proud to say that I have been living credit card free for a very long time now, and have no plans to get one again anytime soon.

3. I want to be able to be at home more often (This is something I am going to pursue at my annual review at work -- negotiating working at home a couple days a week). I finally made that happen in August. I now work from home and teach outside the home two mornings a week — the rest of the time is mine to schedule. It is as fantastic as I could have ever hoped or imagined!

4. I want to be free to travel (I'm not even sure how I could make this happen anymore, but it's definitely something that is still on my mind a lot). Working from home certainly opens this up as a possibility. Next year, I'll be traveling to England for a solo show, the first international trip I'll have taken since 1988! Later this week, we're going on a short road trip. Better than nothing!

5. I want to accumulate and always have on hand at least $10,000 as a cushion (Baby steps first, though! I'll start with $1,000 and work my way up). I have been able to accumulate the $1,000 and will do everything that I can to maintain it, and increase it as time goes on. This is a huge thing for me!

6. I'd like to have more time to spend with family and friends (Also tied to money issues... if I have enough money saved, I wouldn't have to work as much...). While I haven't had more time for family outside my house yet, I think within the next couple months after my life stabilizes from the big change, this will be true, absolutely. Also, my mom and I still have our dream of finding a house together, which would mean spending a lot more time with her (right now she lives about an hour and a half away)! Psst! We're looking at one this week! As for friends, yes, I have been able to get out more and have lunches and dinners at least once a week with someone aside from my sweetie.

7. I want to be rid of extraneous crap in my life, and in this I am thinking about hobbies I enjoy but aren't worth the time and expense to me (Blythe dolls, I am looking at you!) (I have been working on this. I still have quite a lot to liberate myself from; it's just making the time to do it). Done, pretty much. Do I have too many books on my "to read" pile? Yes, but that hardly counts as crap, does it?

8. I don't want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore (Again, the money. I'm getting there.) Wow. I'm there, and have been for a few months — it feels amazing and I hope that I can keep it up forever and ever. Seriously. This is the first time in my life that I have NOT had to live paycheck to paycheck. It is pretty f*&%ing awesome.

9. I want to focus on my art as my main pastime/hobby/vocation/whatever you want to call it (I go back and forth on this thought. It depends on the day, but yes, it would be pretty awesome to make my living as an artist above anything else). I feel like I have pretty much accomplished this now. Finally. Sure, not having to teach and only sell my work as income would be the penultimate, but doing what I am doing now is beyond all my wildest dreams to date.

10. I want to invest in other artists (I LOVE buying art, and do buy small, inexpensive pieces from time to time. I'd love to be able to really indulge in supporting my fellow artists someday, though!) I've been doing this on a small scale and will continue to do so! I love supporting my fellow artists.

So, there you have it! I guess I'll have to make a new list to conquer. And you can see why I feel so urgent and passionate about getting my health in order now, too, right? I've managed everything else on my wish list... it is just TIME.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thinking about the Future

So... one more thing. I wanted to write this down.

I've been thinking a little bit about how I'd like to eat after the eight weeks is over. Honestly, I do believe that I will keep doing what I am doing, with some slight modifications. One, I will add a little bit of bread back into my life, but try to make it a whole wheat choice whenever possible. It won't be the major staple that it had become before. And, of course... pizza. I would genuinely like to try some thinner, whole wheat homemade crusts in the future. Less cheese, more veggies. That's totally doable. I see much less sweets in my life — I had a pretty bad habit going. How about a piece of dark chocolate once in a while?

I can totally switch to whole wheat pasta, no problem at all.

Rice? I love jasmine rice. I can get used to brown rice with my stir fry, though.

Potatoes and all the aforementioned items: All less of them overall.

Dude, I don't know... I may want to just keep on keeping on, too. Of course I am always open to a special treat on occasion, but like C. was saying to me? NOT a whole day of binging. A treat during one meal, sure, but a whole day? I'd like to break that habit, too.

Of course, it is early in the game to be thinking about this now. But I have believed and will always believe that it is best to dream big. I will be really interested to see how I feel about all this come November, that is for sure.

The No Obvious White Starch Experiment, Day 11

Day 11! Almost two weeks under my belt. I still have not strayed from the doctor's directive. (Except, OK, I stepped on the scale very casually today and saw that I am down another three pounds or so — I honestly do think I'll have C. hide it for me. It's too easy to get obsessed and I'd like to break with that.)

I had another dinner out, yesterday with a couple good friends to the local Mafia haunt. (I'm half joking.) There were several things on the menu that I could have had, but settled on something that I don't usually have access to or would not be inclined to cook myself: Calamari á la Marinara. Simple, just fresh squid and marinara sauce. It was surprisingly good, and satisfying — the squid was almost like pasta, to tell the truth. I also has a dinner salad with balsamic vinaigrette (my preferred dressing no matter what), and a side of veggies (beans and carrots). My friends, on the other hand, ordered bruschetta, a whole order for the two of them thinking that it would be half a baguette loaf, or even less. No. It turned out to be a whole loaf of Italian bread, cut in half horizontally, covered in tomatoes and cheese and whatever else is in bruschetta. Oh dear god, did I ever want some bruschetta. But not really. I told them that it didn't bother me and I meant what I said.

Oh, and we shared a bottle of Riesling.

Point being, this was of eating is totally doable. Even at an Italian restaurant.

The other part of the directive that I also have not followed is the walking part. I did that one stroll a few days ago, and that's it. Since then, I have had one of the worst periods that I can remember and totally feeling like crap. It was all I could do to get myself out of bed today to go and teach, in fact. I have made a promise to myself, however, that as soon as old Aunt Flow decides to leave town, I will go on a walk every single day. I need to.

One more food note: I find myself eating MUCH less in general, and thinking about salad and feeling satisfied with a nice big bowl of it as a meal option. I genuinely enjoy the part where I get to eat healthy foods as a matter of course and thereby sort of honor my body and my health. I eat a lot of salad stuffs and a lot of low-fat yogurt, and some fruit and some eggs and chicken and shrimp. I'd like to start looking for more simple, tasty recipes for preparing these things, but lately I have a small repertoire that I feel comfortable with and reliant on — and, of course, not sick of yet!

More importantly, aside from my transgressions with the scale, I do feel quite different psychologically, and it is hard to explain. This is the feeling that is making it easier for me to get through this than I ever imagined — really positive stuff. It's something that I really want to hold onto, and making me re-examine how stressed out I make myself sometimes, and how I want to get in touch with myself on a much deeper level, too. I've been considering a meditation practice, as well as trying yoga on for size. There was a certain book I read recently (whose title shall go unnamed, as I find it slightly embarrassing) that really inspired me to this, and then all this stuff happened... it feels like fate is calling my name and lighting up arrows for me, all pointed in a certain direction...

On a good friend's recommendation, I picked up a meditation guide, and I also got a rec for a yoga studio right in town from another, so suffice it to say that I will be seeing whether these two things have a spot in my life and will be helpful to me — and soon!

I hate to be all Pollyanna all the time about this, but man! I haven't felt like I was heading in such a good direction in a really long time, if ever.

This is about so much more than my weight, or my issues with food. This is my life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Easily Irritable

(The title of this post, by the way, is a nod to someone I consider to be a good friend in the online world, in addition to my state of mind.)

Day 8 of 56. I am indeed very irritable, mostly from getting my period, I'm sure. Nothing can seem to bring a smile to my face today, and it is certainly one of those days when it feels like nothing but some good old comfort food would really do the trick, you know? But it's not happening, no sir. I have no intention of going outside the parameters, so to speak. I admit, it is definitely harder on a day like today, but I feel fully dedicated to trying out this different way of eating and seeing how it affects me. I can't fully make that judgement if I go off it every few days, so for now and the remaining of the eight weeks, I'm in.

This morning I had my blood drawn for the tests my doctor requested. It'll be interesting to see what differences they'll be, if any, from now until the next time I have them done. I'm crossing my fingers that diabetes won't have to be part of that discussion in November. My gut tells me no, but adult onset diabetes is present on both sides of my family, so you just never know.

I am still wondering exactly what my doctor's aim for this whole thing is. To be honest with you, it's been bugging me. I've been doing research, but it hasn't really helped me to clarify what this is for, or why. Or for the specific limitations. Since he didn't say anything about no beans or cheese, I'm thinking that I might indulge in those things, even though they seem "wrong" to me. *sigh* I guess I am over thinking it. Doc told me all I had to do was follow his directive and let him carry the rest. I need to just shut up and do that.

This stuff isn't always easy, but I tell you -- getting to the really good stuff never is, is it?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Walk of the Experiment: Success!

Well, I am so pleased. I am in awe of my body. My poor, poor body which has been abused for so long.

She was able to carry me for 1.25 miles today, in the rain, on the first walk I've been on in months. This is drastically different from past "first walks." Usually my shins start bothering me almost instantly, and I'm only able to walk for ten minutes at best. Today, I did almost thirty minutes and I am certain I could have done more, but I was getting soaked. :)

It was wonderful.

Never underestimate what you are capable of. You will surprise yourself.

How I Lost Over 10 Pounds in a Week

Wow, talk about a salacious headline, right? Ha ha.

OK, so I cheated a little bit. My doctor did instruct me to NOT get on the scale at all in the eight weeks we're conducting the little No-Starch Experiment, and I thought that was a good idea. This morning, curiosity got the best of me, and I wanted to check what my gut was telling me (figuratively and literally) against the truth: Truth is, I've lost over ten pounds this past week, just by cutting out the obvious white starches and sugars, plus various meats.

I've mentioned it already, and it still remains true — it's really not been all that difficult, surprising enough. Sure, it is always hard to make major changes in your life (I think this qualifies), but I gotta say that there's not a whole lot that I am really missing. I eat the food I can eat, the stuff that is good for my body, and I am happy to do that for myself.

That is the key: I know that I am doing something good for myself in a very big way, so it makes it that much easier to comply with.

One thing that I still have not done is start walking seriously again. Doc wants me to walk three miles a day. I decided from the beginning that I am going to work up to that. No sense in killing myself here. But with all the stuff I had going on in my life this week, I was tired and worn out enough and felt that all the running around I was doing somewhat qualified for decent physical activity. Yesterday, I met a friend out for dinner (more on that in a minute), and parking was awful. I ended up walking a couple short city blocks there and back to my car, but it was more than I have been doing! I took it at a fairly fast pace and was pleased with what I could do so far. Today, I am going to get out there and test my mettle for sure. It's a nice, cool, drizzy day — perfect walking weather in my book. My plan is to take is slow and leisure and see if I can do one of my old, longer routes from back when I was C25King it up.

So last night, I had dinner out. I chose a place where I knew I could get a good seafood dish, and I had no problem eating within my new parameters at all. A lovely Ahi tuna with a sesame crust, plus some grilled asparagus and ginger and wasabi on the side. Perfect. Normally, the meal comes with mashed potatoes, but I just asked for my plate minus potatoes plus extra asparagus. The side salad I had with a balsamic vinaigrette was simple, but satisfying, sans croutons.

Oh, and did I mention that I withstood take-out pizza that C. got one night? On which the crust looked incredible? Didn't have any. I kind of wanted some, sure, but not really. I'm trying to see that stuff as... just not in my body's best interest, basically. Not bad food, per se, just not good for me at this particular time. These mind tricks seem to be working, and not so much tricks as a bit of common sense. x + y = z, yeah?

This has been an absolutely wonderful week, honestly. I am so thankful to my doctor, whose kindness and wisdom and willingness to take an active part in my personal health makes all the difference. I wish that this happened years ago, but I guess the reality is, I'm not sure that I'd have been truly ready for it. Now, at 40, I'm ready to welcome so many good things into my life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day Five

OK. I'm making it through day five of my eight-week odyssey into the land of Much Less Starch. (I'm not sure if it's really no starch, but I do know that it is certainly much, much less starch, and certainly no white starch. I'm still a little confused on exactly what to call what I am doing. How about just, "Doctor's Orders"?) Things are... going well, much to my surprise! Is it easy? No. Is it really hard? Not really, though.

The worst part of adopting this way of eating is that it seems like EVERYTHING has some form of the stuff I'm not supposed to eat in it, and figuring out exactly what I CAN eat, and creating as much variety as I can. I have no problem not eating red meat, pork, lamb. I love fish and there are lots of things to do with chicken and turkey, and truth be told, I'd probably do fine without those, too. I love vegetables and fruits and I even like tofu! I've been eating low fat yogurt and adding extra frozen fruit to it. A quick little omelette is always good in a pinch, and a wonderful place to use our abundance of heirloom cherry tomatoes -- which, incidentally, are great as a snack on their own! Our various stir-frys without rice takes a bit of getting used to but are no less deliciosamente.

Many people are telling me that I will feel so much better that I won't want to go back to eating that white, starchy stuff. So far, I can't really tell a difference in my energy levels, which is probably due to all the running around I've been doing the past week -- I've been tired anyway, but now that I think about it... maybe not AS tired as I might have been? The coming week should be a better barometer for that. Those people may be right... but I have to be honest, I won't give up pizza completely after this eight weeks. Sure, I'll find a better way to make it, but give it up? I don't think I can go there.

I haven't really had cravings. I want things, but that's different. We went to the drive-in movies the other night. We always get popcorn and other treats at the drive-in. By the time we were getting ready to go, I hadn't eaten much during the day and was famished. Begrudgingly, I stopped at Wendy's on C.'s urging and got a salad to eat. Well, I must give kudos to Wendy's -- to my surprise, the Apple Pecan salad was delicious, and fairly well within bounds. Maybe the dried cranberries were an issue? Again, the plan given to me was so nondescript that I am not sure. Long story short, I ate my salad and enjoyed it, and I did not eat any of the popcorn or nachos with cheese that C. did. I really wanted to, but I also really didn't want to, you know? It wasn't really a tough choice, to be honest. I enjoyed the smell that wafted into my nose, and focused on Machete instead.

So, I don't really know what is going on with me, but I do feel a psychological shift. Maybe it's having the backing of a doctor who gave me parameters to work within and the expectation to stay within them? Maybe it is just that I know that I really need to make this major change in my life before it becomes really difficult, impossible, or plain old life-threatening. Funny enough, I don't feel nearly as obsessed with food as I normally do. Definitely closer to eating to live rather than living to eat. It's nice.

I want to do so much more with my life that this extra weight is, quite frankly, holding me back from doing — psychologically and/or physically. It's been a struggle for me since I was 9 years old, and I tried everything — except what I am doing now, which includes letting go of my baggage and letting someone else carry it for a while. I am hoping that this is the start of something really good for my body and my mind. It sure feels like it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Here's the plan

OK, I've done a little bit of research since my doctor's suggestion left me with a few questions. I found this No Starch diet that I think will serve my needs well during the next eight weeks. I'm going to stick with the no beef, pork, and lamb thing (something that this particular plan leaves in), but everything else? Looks like a keeper.

No Starch on Livestrong

I think it will be totally doable. My boyfriend's main question? "Have you ever gone for eight weeks without pizza before?"

It's... it's alive!

So... hi.


I'm back.

Today was a breakthrough. For whatever series of events or thoughts, I decided to see about having a physical and taking more active control of my health. I called my old doctor, whom I haven't seen in years, to see if he would take me back as a patient. He's this young, wonderful guy and my whole family has been in love with him since he arrived in my little hometown I don't know how many years ago, maybe fifteen or so? He's just two years older than I am and just has a lovely manner.

Oh, and by the way, I left my job last month, which has freed up most of my days and enables me to spend the time to drive the hour and fifteen minutes to my hometown to see said doctor. Since we moved here to Niagara Falls, I just never latched on to another primary care doctor, only went to a little neighborhood clinic for things here and there.

(So much to tell you about!)

Anyway, it feels amazing to have reconnected with my doctor again. He kept saying, "Amy G____ is 40 years old! I can't believe it!" So cute. We had a great chat about what it is I'd like for myself health-wise, and talked about what carrying this extra weight means for me. He does not demonize fat, by the way, which I love. He told me that I should get back on establishing healthier habits again (I told him about my past success with losing weight and walking and running a couple years ago), because now is still a time when I can do it on my own without medical intervention. He told me we could not have the same conversation 10 years, even 5 years from now.

He has taken the feelings of responsibility off my shoulders for doing this for the next eight weeks. He does not want me to get on the scale, look in the mirror critically, or even think about what my body is or isn't, or what other people think. "Other people do not exist from now on!" he said, which I thought was cool and funny. Obviously he's speaking figuratively, and I loved it. He said that all I need to do is the following, for the next eight weeks: start walking three miles a day (obviously I will build up to that) and cut out from my diet beef, pork, bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. I can have seafood, turkey, and some chicken. I can have vegetables and fruit. He didn't say to cut out ice cream and cake, but dude, I get the gist of it. All I need to do is the work, and whether I lose weight or not is mostly irrelevant... and if I fail in some way, it is his fault as the doctor.

It sounds really weird when I was trying to explain it to C. and also now as I am typing this out. But let me tell you, when he was saying this to me, I immediately felt this huge sense of relief and happiness, almost to the point of tears. He was taking a big burden off me, and letting me just tend to the business I needed to tend to. No icky emotions, no self-judgement. Just matter of fact do this and this, and come back in eight weeks to talk about what happened.

I don't know. It makes so much sense to me, I am feeling elated. I am not even scared to try to eliminate those certain foods, because I really want to do something, and now I have this fantastic, caring, professional ally there to back me up and carry the huge bag of issues that I usually shoulder. It'll be interesting to see what comes of all this.


So, yes... I quit my job. I was offered a couple classes to teach at an area college this fall, and coupled with the online teaching I do is enough to keep us afloat. My career as an artist has also been taking off pretty well (small scale still, but making steady progress), and I really wanted to be able to focus more on my studio work, too. Doing graphic design in the capacity I was was just really making me unhappy, so despite the economy and everything else, I took the plunge. Daring and a little crazy, I know! Truth is, I've been as busy as I ever was before, but I love my new lifestyle. The only time I HAVE to be somewhere is on Monday and Wednesday mornings for teaching, and then for whenever I am teaching the odd workshop here and there. Other than that, my time is mine to shape it however I like. Obviously I still have responsibilities to my online classroom, but that is asynchronous and I don't have to be there at a certain time of day... plus, I can do it in my pajamas on the couch if I like.

I'm still getting used to things and I am still a bit connected to my old job, but man! Life is pretty darned good. It only seemed appropriate that I also take good care of my body while I am at it, so that I can also FEEL good physically.

I hope that some of my old friends here are still out there and doing well. I'd love to hear what you're up to!