Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday, Monday

Boy, it is DREARY in Rhode Island today and I almost wiped out a couple of times this morning when I walked out of the house to a world glazed in ice. I'm feeling better and thought I might take a lunchtime walk, but the weather nixed that idea.

So, yeah, so much for my 30 Day Fitness Challenge. Getting sick right in the middle of the month put a big snag in my plans. I'm thinking about starting over again tomorrow for the month of March.

I also didn't keep up the low-carb very well over the past week and a half. OK, really, I didn't keep up the low carb AT ALL. Last Tuesday I probably ate (or kept down) about 300 calories, if that. Jason bought me some saltines on his way home from choir practice Tuesday night and I just ate those on Wednesday. The next couple of days, I kept the food bland and sparse because my stomach was still pretty wonky.

Then we had a crazy weekend of church activities. I spent all day Saturday shopping and cleaning in anticipation of having a bunch of girls at my house and feeding them. Saturday night we drove the youth up to Weston, MA for a meeting, then the girls came back to my house for a sleepover. Jason and I fell asleep at about 1:30 or 2, but the girls told me they stayed up until almost 4. The next morning, we were out the door by 8:15 to get everyone to a meeting in Groton, CT (I got muffins and fruit for everyone to eat on the way). There was much driving this weekend. Also, teenage girls are exhausting. And ours are actually pretty low-key.

We went to our bishop's house for a luncheon after the meeting and I was famished. His wife (hi, Deb!) knows I'm doing low-carb and made a comment to me about it, and I completely waved her off. I was famished by the time we arrived and while I could have munched some cold cuts, cheese and veggies, instead I ate a big sandwich plus dessert.

Jason and I got home yesterday afternoon and he immediately fell asleep. I made a valiant effort to watch a mystery I've had in the Netflix streaming queue for awhile, but only got about 15 minutes in before I was asleep too. We both woke up at about 7:30 and proceeded to eat leftover stew, watch the Oscars and play a board game. Oh, and I ate some Oreos that I had bought the girls.

I woke up this morning feeling like I could really use a weekend right about now. Today is a new dawn for my personal low-carb movement. I am convinced that my malaise is equal parts being sick, too many carbs, and not enough sleep. Tonight I am looking forward to getting to bed early.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mental Health

I'm taking another day off of work today because as long as I'm sitting down, I'm ok, but I start feeling very woozy when I stand up and I didn't want to try to navigate the bus and the office feeling like this. The good news is, today I don't feel the need to sleep all day and I can actually concentrate enough to do some work. Yesterday was a lost day.

Speaking of lost days... On Sunday, Jason and I went over to the home of some friends of mine for a visit. They are in Virginia temporarily, preparing for a move to India, so while we were visiting one set of friends, I figured I should try to see this other set, since who knows when I'll have the chance to see them again. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about people we knew and things we did when we all lived in Chicago.

Only here's the thing - I don't remember a lot of it. Those 3 years in Chicago are a haze in large part. I remember some things, but other things are just a blank.

Same goes for the first year and a half of law school.

Midway through my 2nd year of law school, I started taking anti-depressants, and my world changed. Almost 2 weeks to the day after I started taking the pills, a switch clicked on in my brain and suddenly I was all there again. There's really no way to express how huge of a shift this was. After probably 5 years of living in a haze, the fog lifted. I understood what was going on. I actually felt happy. I was able to move on from a bad relationship.

I know that in large part Jason doesn't understand depression. I think he sees anti-depressants as a crutch, or, at best, a placebo. But every so often he gets a small view into what my world was like. Sunday night was one of those moments. He commented to me on the way home how weird it was that I didn't remember anything, and I told him that's what depression does. I was physically there, but mentally I was only partially there.

Part of the reason why I want to be as physically healthy as possible is because I don't want to be on anti-depressants forever, especially as Jason and I talk about starting a family. So I'm working on upping my endorphins and decreasing the meds.

On the Other Hand...

...maybe I just have the flu.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Side Effects

I was going to save this post to the end of the month, but since I'm home from work sick today, I thought I would go ahead and write it. Yes, I'm sick, and this is after I was just thinking to myself last week that it had been awhile since I've been sick and how thrilled I was about that. I guess I got too cocky.

Basically, I just wanted to write about how I've been feeling while eating low carb and concentrating on activity. Overall, it's been great. I have a lot of energy, and never experience the mid-afternoon slump, which tells me I'm doing well at keeping my blood sugar pretty constant over the course of the day. Also, I haven't had a migraine in weeks. I had been popping a migraine pill or two at least once a week for several months now. So much so that Jason had commented on how I was becoming a Maxalt addict. Since starting to eat low-carb, I haven't had one migraine. I know that doesn't prove cause and effect, but I'm willing to stay away from the carbs even if there is just a slight connection to my weekly debilitating headaches.

Now, let's contrast that with how I've felt when I've indulged a bit over the last few weeks. (Warning: following are minor discussions of some basic bodily functions.) First, was Sunday before last when I had a small piece of chocolate cake and some frosting straight from the mixing bowl. That night and part of the next day, I felt like my stomach had expanded about 4 sizes as my insides churned with gas. Yuck! Again, not proof of cause and effect (can you tell I've been married to a scientist for 3 years?), but interesting to note.

Then we have today. This weekend was not a low-carb weekend. We visited some friends in Virginia and it's hard when you're staying in someone's home to say "No thanks" over and over, plus try to make your own food. Kind of rude, actually. Also, I wasn't able to be very active, partly because we were spending time with the friends and partly because I started getting a cold on Friday.

Saturday and Sunday weren't too bad food-wise, but yesterday on the drive home I just let all my standards fly out the window. The day started with a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats. Then, Jason really wanted to stop at this sandwich place in Pennsylvania, so we did and I had a 6-inch sub and onion rings. Then came the afternoon McFlurry snack. Finally, we topped off the day with pizza.

I know!

Guess who woke up this morning feeling absolutely rotten? I really don't think this was related to my cold (which continues to improve). Basically, I felt like I had food poisoning, with all the attendant pleasantness. I called in sick to work and slept until 1. Maybe it was completely unrelated. But maybe it was related to all the crap I ate yesterday. I don't really want to do another experiment to find out. Let's just say it's good motivation to eat healthy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Podcast!

I love discovering new and interesting podcasts to entertain me while I'm lifting weights or going for walks. (Not for the elliptical, though. I need some good pumping music to stay motivated for that.)

I just started listening to Latest in Paleo, and each episode is chock full of interesting news tidbits and other information gleaned from around the internets about Paleo and low-carb living.

Yesterday, thanks to Latest in Paleo, I listened to the audio of a 2002 panel discussion between Gary Taubes, Dean Ornish, Barbara [something] from the American Heart Association, and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Here's the first segment (the rest are on youtube):

The discussion is very interesting, but also incredibly frustrating to listen to. Dean Ornish and the AHA lady spout the typical low-fat, whole grains line and equate low-carb to "eating pork rinds" over and over. I'm just about to finish Gary Taubes's new book, and I'm really wondering if the low-fat people have really looked into the science of insulin production and fat storage at all. This panel happened right after Taubes's New York Times article, and since then many people have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon, more studies have been done and Taubes even succeeded in getting praise from the revered Dr. Andrew Weil.

The only downside to the video is Gary Taubes comes across as a bit petullant at times, but I chalk that up to him getting frustrated too.


In between yesterday morning and this morning, I gained 3 pounds and added back that inch to my waist. TOM anyone? I know I'm oversharing, but I can really feel the PMS bloating this month. Actually, by yesterday afternoon suddenly my stomach didn't feel as flat as it had in the morning.

I planned to go to the gym this morning, but decided it would be better to walk to work because I needed to throw a bunch of stuff together for our weekend road trip. Well, I only got a mile into the walk before my complete and utter exhaustion and aching legs convinced me to stop and get on the bus instead.

Bleh, sometimes being a woman is a total drag.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On Track

First, an update about the raw macaroons. I wanted to decrease the carbs in each cookie (because I keep grabbing them out of the fridge to pop in my mouth every time I walk by) so I halved the maple syrup from 1/4 cup to 1/8 cup. To compensate on the liquid, I upped the coconut oil, but more fat isn't a bad thing. They still taste great and yummy and, most importantly, coconutty.

My food and my exercise are on track except for a couple little food slip ups, which I actually allowed and accounted for in SparkPeople and weren't deadly by any stretch of the imagination. On Sunday I baked a cake for one of the teenage girls I work with at church. I can take or leave cake, frankly, but I love icing. I had a small piece of cake with everyone else, but I also had a few finger swipes of icing out of the mixing bowl. And, actually, I paid for it in how I felt later.

I've started writing down the physical changes I've noticed so far this month and am planning a month-end recap. Suffice it to say, there have been some interesting physical effects of removing grains and sugar from my diet.

On Valentine's Day we got some See's Candies in the mail from Jason's parents and I totally ate a piece of toffee (my favorite). It was worth it to me and was a small enough piece that I was satisfied without feeling yucky afterward.

I've exercised in some form every day since February 7th, which according to SparkPeople is a new continuous record for me. The one thing I need to do is start adding some intervals in the elliptical, but they're so painful. I have to remind myself how awesome I feel afterward and push through it. Seriously, the endorphins following a HIIT workout are out of this world!

This morning I did a quick weigh and measure just to see where I am. I weigh the same, but according to the measuring tape, my waist has decreased by an inch! An inch in a week! Or less than a week, actually. I'll take it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


No, seriously, COOKIES! That I can eat without blowing my food plan!

I have 2 recipes for you. One is for pumpkin cookies from Everyday Paleo and the other is for raw macaroons courtesy of Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment (whose name I will forever praise because of these cookies).

Paleo Pumpkin Cookies

1 C. almond meal
1/2 C. finely chopped pecans (the original recipe calls for walnuts, but I'm not a big walnut fan and I LOVE pecans)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 T. cinnamon
1 egg
1 C. cooked and mashed pumpkin, sweet potato or butternut squash (I used pumpkin and it still tasted like Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. Go figure.)
1/4 C. coconut milk
2-4 T. maple syrup (I admit it, I used all 4. I could see using less if I used sweet potatoes or a sweet squash instead of pumpkin.)

Preheat oven to 400. In a mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. In another small mixing bowl whick together the egg, coconut milk, and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the mashed sweet potato/pumpkin/squash to the dough and mix well. Grease a baking sheet (or use a Silpat) and scoop about one heaping tablespoon per cookie onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Makes approximately 15 cookies.

Raw Macaroons

2 C. raw, unsweetened coconut
1/2 C. almond meal
1/4 C. maple syrup
1/4 C. coconut oil (the recipe called for coconut butter, but I didn't have any. Coconut oil works great, though maybe the cookies would have a bit more structural integrity when they get warmer with the coconut butter. Must experiment (and make more cookies))
1/8 t. vanilla
pinch salt

Mix everything together, roll into balls and chill in refrigerator for a half hour or longer. (Try not to eat all the dough right then and there when you give it a little taste.) Made about 30.

The macaroons taste like heaven. And I discovered this morning that a couple of them are a great little pre-workout snack.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Saturday is weighing and measuring day for me. So guess what? It's working!

This week I lost 3.4 pounds. I also lost a 1/4 inch off my waist and a 1/4 inch off each of my calves. Yay!

I'm just so thrilled to finally see things moving in the right direction, plus finding out for sure that the level of carbs I'm at - this liveable for me level - is working.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Days 6-11 in Food

I'm still on track for food. It's amazing how easy it is to stick to this when I really put my mind to it. I had a planning meeting for church on Tuesday night and baked brownies, but I didn't eat any. I had the Young Women over for our activity on Wednesday night and set out two kinds of cookies. Didn't eat any. This morning at a work meeting, I could have eaten a big ole bagel with cream cheese. But I didn't.

I think really thinking about the science of this is helping me. The basic gist is, you eat carbs, your insulin spikes, and insulin promotes fat storage. When you eat protein and fats, your insulin doesn't spike. Sometimes I worry that I've become insulin-resistant at this point and need to be eating even fewer carbs than I am. I've been eating about 50-70 net carbs per days and I hope I'll start losing weight and/or toning up soon so that I know I'm at a good level of carbs. This is liveable. I don't know if I can go much lower without feeling deprived.

Jimmy Moore, one of the low-carb podcasters I listen to, often says that he broke his sugar addiction by imagining sugar as poison. I didn't think that trick would work for me because my brain knows very well that sugar is not poison. Sugar is sweet and yummy and happy-making. However, I do have this internal monologue that's been kicking in lately when I contemplate eating something with sugar or grains. Just a little reminder of how the cookie or the bagel will affect my insulin. Then suddenly I don't even want whatever it is anymore. For some reason, that's what's working for me right now.

As I told Jason the other night when he asked me if I wanted a little bit of a cookie, it's a little bit of cookie here, and a small brownie there that got me to where I am right now - heavier than I've been in 4 years.

If nothing else, I'm feeling really good. No late afternoon drops in energy anymore. I love that aspect of eating this way.

I started my 30 days of 30 minutes of activity per day officially on Monday. Every day this week, I've managed to get in at least 30 minutes of activity, and some days more. My steps have been over 10,000 every day since Monday as well. I've started strength training again.

Basically, I feel like I'm doing all the right things. I hope to see some progress on the scale or in my clothes or somewhere soon.

Monday, February 07, 2011

To the Gym!

Yesterday we drove up to Boston, so I figured my excuse of not being able to get to the gym because I couldn't get the car out of the ice wouldn't hold up any longer. However, I'm still trying to get to work earlier (and stay later) in an effort to show my boss that my life isn't being overtaken by my church responsibilities. December was a little light on the billable hours because I left early a bunch of evenings.

So what that means is the alarm goes off at 5:15 AM. Which means I can hit the 10-minute snooze once, maybe twice, before I absolutely have to get up and go. I had a giant battle in my head this morning, but in the end, I won, and I was up and out of the house by 6:05. A little late, but not terrible. I got in 25 minutes of weights and 25 minutes on the elliptical.

The first day back on the elliptical suuuuucks. (Can you tell I've been hanging out with the teenagers?) I know tomorrow and the next day and the next day will be better, but for some reason, I kind of feel like I'm dying the entire time when I hop on the elliptical after not doing it for a few weeks.

For extra credit, I went on a 50-minute lunch walk. The sun was shining and the snow was finally melting and I figured I should get out there while I could since I think tomorrow it's supposed to snow a bit or rain a bit (or maybe, to be super fun, both).

Today will be Day 1 of my next 30 Day Fitness Challenge. That's 30 minutes of activity per day for 30 days.

Still holding strong with the low carbs. Saturday I ate 31 net carbs. I know, right? I was a little amazed by that. Sunday we had Indian food and I was pleased to discover that the flatbread is made from lentils. I wound up with 55 g net carbs yesterday AND I totally didn't cave and eat one of the fudgey brownie bites at our post-choral service reception.

I love those brownie bites.

Go me!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Day 5: Weighing

I'm trying to stay optimistic. The thing is, I know low-carb works. It's worked for me before. Not only that, but it makes sense. The more I learn about the biology and what's going on in my body when I eat carbs, the more convinced I am that it really is the key to gaining and losing fat.

Jason summed it up nicely after we finished dinner the other day, consisting of steak, salad and roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce: "Now we'll sit back while our blood sugar doesn't go up."

It's been awhile since I've made a real go at it, and I know it will take time, like everything. This month of February, I have a goal of being consistent and getting in the habit of minimizing my carbs.

Only it's really hard not to pay attention to the number on the scale. Today I weighed 2 pounds more than last week. The number just keeps going up and makes me want to cry because it's a number that I promised myself 4 years ago I would never see again.

On the other hand, my hip measurement has decreased 3/4 of an inch and my chest has decreased 1/2 and inch. So, like I said, I'm trying to stay optimistic and hope that this is just that awkward moment at the beginning when I'm starting to get a bit leaner, but it's underneath this layer of fat I have.

Jason and I went for a 3-mile walk this morning. Having a buddy really makes the time fly, that's for sure. Then I did about 20 minutes of strength exercises when I got home.

I know if I can just stay the course, I'll start seeing results. I'm just so uncomfortable in my own skin (and my clothes) right now. More motivation to keep working on it, right? Yeah, but it's also easy to get discouraged. Am trying to just stay motivated.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Day 4 and Last Night

Last night: Capital Grille for Restaurant Week.

Stumbling blocks: lack of choice for side dishes and the bread basket.

I ate a couple of pieces of the divine bread in the bread basket. I also ate some mashed potatoes because the only other side option on the Restaurant Week menu was creamed spinach. I can't handle creamed spinach. (Massive penicillin allergy + creamed spinach = lifelong aversion to as much as the hint of the odor of creamed spinach. I can't even handle sauteed spinach if it's been sauteed a touch too long.)

Net carbs for yesterday: 68 g.

That's still a far cry from the 250-300 g per day that most people eat. I'm ok with it.

It's sunny out today and I was thinking about venturing out for a lunch walk, but my boss just came back inside and informed us that it's sunny, but COLD. I think I'm officially going to defer my activity challenge until the weather gets a bit better and I can actually do some activity every day. I think Jason extracted his car from the ice this morning, so maybe I'll make it to the gym tomorrow. If not, I'll do weights at home again.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Day 2: Low Carb and Activity Challenge

I've decided to adjust my food goals a bit from strict Paleo to low carb, with a strong focus on whole foods. It's a little bit of a cop-out because I discovered a really good fake mocha recipe, but it involves Splenda. And cream. I know, weak, right, but it's so great on these cold, cold winter days.

I say "fake" mocha because as a Mormon I'm not supposed to drink coffee, but I LOVE coffee-flavored stuff (I blame my Nana who used to let me finish the last few sips of her full-sugar, full-cream coffee when I was too small to realize my religion didn't want me to do that. Nana was not Mormon).

As for other hot drinks, hot chocolate is full of sugar and sometimes I just get tired of tea, so I started poking around for options. Apparently there are some coffee substitutes that are made from chicory and are very popular in Utah among the Mormons that want coffee too. The fake coffees are available at Whole Foods so I've been checking out the options for a good flavor.

Yesterday when we were snowed/iced in for the day, I invented the following:

10 oz almost boiling water
1 1/2 T. instant Cafix (faux coffee)
1/2-3/4 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 packets Splenda
Cream to taste

Yummy! And warm!

I've also decided that I need to have a spiral cut ham on hand at all times. I bought one and froze it when they were on sale around Christmas, and just cooked it this last Sunday. It's so handy when I have the munchies to just go grab a slice of ham.

So the food is all good. We're going to the Capital Grille tonight for Restaurant Week where I fully intend to eat the flourless chocolate cake that I'll get for my dessert course. At least it's flourless. Even with the cake figured in, my net carbs for the day are 36 grams.

However, yesterday's activity part of my challenge was dismal. On Tuesday, I did a bunch of weight exercises while we watched TV and felt quite proud of myself. I am really feeling the sumo squats today.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, we were stuck inside while it snowed and freezing rained all day. The cars are still stuck in the ice so there's no driving to the gym, and given that I ice skated down my driveway and to the bus this morning, I'm a little nervous about going for a walk. I thought about doing some more weights last night, but my sore muscles were asking for a break. As soon as we thaw out a bit, I will be back to the activity. Maybe I'll postpone the activity challenge until I can actually DO some activity.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Paleo and Fitness 30 Day Challenge: Day 1

February 1, Day 1

So I've already failed the "Paleo" part. Well, not "failed" exactly, just not completed 100%. Let me explain.

My goal with Paleo is to eat whole foods and remove grains and sugar, right? Right. However, I had some leftover Dreamfields pasta (5 net carbs per serving and it tastes good!) and homemade tomato sauce sitting in the fridge that I meant to eat yesterday. I know for a fact that Jason won't eat it (he's not so much about the leftovers unless I force them on him), and I didn't want it to go to waste. So I brought it for part of my lunch.

Today I've had:
4 scrambled eggs in coconut oil (I heart coconut oil, but I may actually like my eggs better cooked in butter)
Big romaine salad with tuna and balsamic vinaigrette
Pasta with tomato sauce and parmesan

At home, simmering away in the crock pot, is Azorean Beef Stew. The spices in this stew are amazing, and since it's blizzarding outside, this will be the perfect welcome home for me this evening.

I also made a ham on Sunday and might have some ham later. Who can say? All told, SparkPeople tells me I'm at about 34 carbs for the day, though I may have some almonds later too, bringing me up to 40. Pretty great, and the majority of my food has been whole, healthy fare.

As for fitness, there will be no gym and no walking due to today's snow and tomorrow's predicted ice storm (doesn't that sound fun?). I think it's time for me to turn away from the computer mah jong while we're watching TV in the evenings and do some improvised workouts. I have a yoga mat and dumbbells for a reason.

To give myself even more inspiration, I just started reading Gary Taubes's Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It. Gary Taubes is my nutrition hero. (I was going to say "nutrition boyfriend", but Jason is already a little jealous of my adoration of Gary, so I'll just leave it at "hero".)