When I write my Carrot Ranch 99 word flash fiction entries my first draft is usually a little over on word count. I have found it is typically easier to edit down then to try and add. But this week I ended spot on 99 words and decided not to mess with it!
Valentine’s Day at School
“So, how was school today?” I ask as my son bounces around in the back seat. “Good,” he says, which is his typical response.
“Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?” “Well, in advisory we got Hershey Kisses and in Latin Mr. C gave us donuts. Oh and Mrs. P handed out Smarties.” “Oh, really? “What about lunch, anything special?” “We got ice cream sandwiches, the Neapolitan kind.” “Great,” I replied with a sigh, regretting the chocolate cake I had baked for dessert.
“So what’s for snack?” my son asked, oblivious to the impact of his sugar report.
My son did get a few treats at school on Valentine’s Day, a brownie and two mini candy bars are the ones he told me about. I suppose it is best if I don’t know if there was more.
I feel like I have left some parts of my life un-updated of late. So, just in case you were wondering:
I had my last post-surgery check-up seven weeks after my hysterectomy. The doctor had predicted four to six weeks for the internal healing to complete. So she was a little surprised (but not alarmed) that my internal stitches had not dissolved yet. No big deal, everything looked fine, I just needed to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for two more weeks. To be honest I felt perfectly well and wasn’t sure I had still been avoiding heavy lifting! But, everything is good.
I have opted to hold off on hormone replacement therapy for now. While I am 100% positive the hysterectomy was the right choice, now I am not sure I need HRT. No hot flashes, sleeping well and the hormonal roller coaster has been reduced to the kiddie version. Not sure if that is the St. John’s Wort or just my body changing on it’s own. So for now I just wait and see what happens.
I am making progress with weight loss, yeah! I am down to 140 pounds. The intermittent fasting works. I don’t have a hard and fast routine but take it day by day. Most days I only eat one or two meals. I wait until I am really hungry and don’t worry about what time it is. I have found that ignoring the first hunger pangs and drinking some water or tea is pretty easy and effective.
I think the other key to success is I try and eat what I really want. The cravings have ended. And surprisingly I don’t want junk food so much. I often eat salads or omelettes or a simple meal (say grilled pork chop, baked yam and veg). I don’t worry about carbs or sugar but I do try and eat whole, real food. And when I do want something sweet I keep homemade brownies and cookies in the freezer. I am hoping to lose about two more pounds but I am not stressing over it, I trust it will happen in time.
I mentioned I was working for the Census Bureau here. And I mentioned how hot it was. And then it got humid. And I found myself walking 15k steps one morning in triple digit heat. And the next day? Not so much. So I had to quit. I felt bad but I was not the first to quit that week because of the weather. They were sorry to lose me and said I was one of their better workers.
What I did learn was that I rather enjoyed working part-time and I am currently pursuing some other options.
I think that covers all the big stuff! Have a great week!
For Christmas I got Gretchen Ruben’s book “Better Than Before”. I was hoping it would help me with two habits: writing and eating (actually more like not eating).
I started strong with the writing and floundered with the eating. Six months later I am floundering with the writing and doing well with the eating. Kind of a surprise I must confess.
Today we will talk about my eating habits. Being a woman, ahem, of a certain age my weight was on the rise. Over the last few years I have read all about various eating schemes and how your body handles fat, sugar, carbohydrates, whole foods etc. One thing I read that has really stuck in my head is how we all think it is normal to gain weight as we age. But that is a relatively recent phenomenon. It used to be that as your metabolism slowed your appetite adjusted. But we have wrecked our regulating mechanism with vast quantities of sugar and processed foods.
I had fallen into the habit of eating all the time. A cookie here, a piece of dark chocolate there, a handful of almonds while cooking dinner. My meals were fairly healthy for the most part but my snacking was out of control. I knew snacking was what I was doing wrong, I just didn’t know how to stop it.
I sat down and had a think about my eating and decided my solution had to meet two criteria: it had to be easy and it had to make sense to me. From Ruben’s book I learned that I am a questioner. Things have to be logical for me. (And I thought I was an obliger until I took the test in the back, so take the test!)
Ruben went low carb (in the book at least) like magic. She read a book and poof she started eating low carb with no effort. (Am I the only one who read that and wanted to shove her face first into a donut?) I tried low carb but it didn’t make sense to me that apples and carrots were “bad” foods. And the minute I deny myself something I immediately start to crave it.
In the course of reading about low carb I stumbled on to Intermittent Fasting. Hmm. 1. It was easy enough. You just don’t eat for x number of hours each day. Doesn’t cost anything, you don’t have to track anything or look up values of foods. No issues with eating out and wondering what is legal for whatever your current scheme is. 2. It makes sense. You give your body a break from digesting foods and allow it access to your fat stores. Way back when people fasted all the time because they couldn’t find food. And fasting periods (and feasting periods) are something all the major religions have in common. Interesting.
I decided to give it a try. I started with 12 and 12 and worked my way up to 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feasting. Turns out it wasn’t hard at all. The first few weeks I focused on the fasting hours. Whenever I ate last in the day I would wait sixteen hours until I ate again. I remained flexible with the times but eventually settled into last eating between 5:00p and 6:00p, sometimes earlier. I think eating earlier helps reduce the night sweats.
About a month into it I had lost 3 or 4 pounds. (I didn’t think to weigh myself that first day!) For me the most important part was how I felt. Literally with no effort my eating habits settled down. I am no longer craving or thinking about food all the time.
I typically eat two meals and somedays a snack or treat. But if I feel hungry I eat three meals. I eat whatever I want. I thought for sure I would binge on junk food but an odd thing happened, for the most part the urge for junk food has dissipated. I eat salads and apples with peanut butter and grilled salmon. Yes, I still eat a cookie or a brownie, but no more than one a day and they are homemade (individually wrapped and stowed in the freezer in the garage). And after I eat it I don’t desire more, I am satisfied.
I don’t wake up starving and often eat in a smaller window, many days I eat at 10:00a and 3:00p. But I don’t force it, I just let it happen naturally.
I am a little bummed I haven’t lost more weight but I am patient. I am now on week seven and have no problems sticking to a 6 hour eating window. Cravings are gone and really the best part is no longer thinking about food so much. I don’t snack anymore. I take it day by day and ask myself what I want to eat when I am hungry and then eat it. I am more mindful and focused when I eat and then I don’t think about food again until I am truly hungry.
The moral of the story is not that Intermittent Fasting works, but that it works for me. Each individual needs to keep trying different things until they find what works for them. So keep trying and good luck.
I’ll be taking a blogging break most of July. An unplugged vacation and then my surgery are on the agenda. Hope you enjoy this slice of summer!
Does boiling water or juice count as cooking? I have decided yes and thus I can keep my blog title.
I grew up in the 70’s eating mac and cheese out of a box, fish sticks, frosted flakes and jello among other dyed and artificially flavored foods. Then I grew up and started reading labels and avoiding chemicals and non-food foods and jello was no longer on the menu.
Here in the heat of summer I miss jello. That cool, fruity, jiggly dessert hits the spot on a hot summer day. Sometimes eating healthy really sucks.
Last year I tried making my own jello with plain gelatin and fruit juice. Not only wasn’t it sweet but it was really bland. And then came “Simply Jello”, jello and pudding with no artificial dyes or flavors. Yeah! And then they stopped making it. Boo!
I decided I needed to try making my own again and searched around for a new recipe. I found I could add some sugar to the basic recipe:
2 cups fruit juice ( I used Old Orchard Mixed Berry condensed juice from the freezer, nothing artificial and no HFCS)
1 envelope of knox unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp sugar ( I found recipes with anywhere from 1 to 5 tbsps)
Put gelatin in 1/4 c of juice and let sit while bringing remaining 1 3/4c juice to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin and sugar. Pour into container(s), let cool a bit and then refrigerate until firm. I will say mine took a little longer to firm up then the boxed version.
I had my son and his friend make a box of regular cherry jello. Then we conducted a blind taste test and all three of us preferred my homemade jello by a landslide! Apparently a bit of sugar makes a big difference!
So there is my less unhealthy summer treat tip.
(Can you tell the difference between the jellos in the picture? I didn’t think so. Mine is on the left.)
Two weeks into the low carb way of eating and how I do love thee? I am not sure. I was shocked at how good I felt emotionally, even with my impending period at the end of the first week. I was starting to sleep better and slightly more energetic. And then week two smacked me right down with something; part head cold, part just plain tired and achy. The addition of a heavy period was not helpful. (Something is going around this area big time, it’s not just me feeling sick.)
I was tempted to put low carb aside for a few days. I really wanted orange juice and saltines, two foods I don’t normally crave. Instead I made soup and tried to nap once in awhile. It was a very long week though.
Now I am just going to share a few things I have learned:
I do not like anything with Sucralose in it. I was all excited to find so many flavors of Quest bars and then when I got home I realized many of them had Sucralose. I am still on the fence about Stevia, I mostly avoid that too. I bought some erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and having been using that the few times I need a sweetener.
You would think almond flour would be almond flour and net carbs would be the same regardless of brand. Apparently not. I found a great low carb pancake recipe (and they do taste yummy) but there was a lot of debate about the amount of carbs in them. So I started looking at the carb count of different almond flours and Trader Joe’s wins. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour (not meal) has 4g of net carbs per two tablespoons while Trader Joe’s brand has only 1g. I checked the ingredient lists and both just have blanched almonds. It is a puzzler.
Mashed cauliflower tastes/feels (in your mouth) nothing like mashed potatoes. But cauliflower rice passes the pretend test for me.
Eating out is not as hard as I thought it would be. But I do feel sad about french fries.
Fat bombs are disgusting. I now avoid any recipe that calls for more than a tablespoon or two of coconut oil.
Frank’s Hot Sauce (not the Wing sauce) is the bomb! I put it on eggs, in soups and of course on chicken. Perks everything up. For my cold I made chicken soup with homemade chicken broth from the freezer, cooked chicken from Trader Joe’s, grated zucchini and riced cauliflower. I threw in a handful of spices and a few good splashes of Frank’s, just what my sinuses needed and maybe 3g net carbs for a big bowl of soup.
Keto bread isn’t bad, tastes okay just have to get used to a slightly different texture. (Photo is above.)
And now we are in week three. Part of me is ready to give in but I know it is just fatigue from my cold and an overly long period. Dinner is planned: grilled chicken, cauliflower rice and salad. And maybe I will treat myself to an apple. It seems silly to give up apples. Maybe I can do 30g of net carbs plus one apple a day? My life, my rules and I need to do what works for me, not live by a somewhat arbitrary number. We’ll see what happens.
I know this post is a bit late due to being on vacation the beginning of June. And now I can’t even remember the month of May which maybe isn’t such a bad thing! I really want to keep looking forward these days.
This is not really going so great. Actually it is just not going as I thought but that is to be expected. I am shopping more at the farmer’s market and doing a decent job of only eating when hungry. This is harder with school being out but I think I can adjust. At least I am not gaining any weight. At this point in time I will simply soldier on through the summer and see what happens. Frankly I am tired of thinking about food all the time. I have scaled back on my cooking which has had the effect of me eating less. Go figure. With the heat I am looking at more salads and fruit. If I didn’t I have to cook for the family life would be a lot easier and healthier.
I have found a balance with walking on the treadmill enough, but not so much that I dread it. I have not been swimming as much as I would like because of my allergies. I do not know if the pollen is worse this year or if I am getting more sensitive but my sinuses are making me quite miserable. It seems to be more windy than usual this time of year and I wonder if that is a factor?
On the hormonal front the rollercoaster seems to have flattened out a bit. No period at all this month, whew! But I have had a few weepy days. One day I started crying out of the blue, no idea what triggered it. Luckily I was home alone.
Feet to the fire: Weight on 1 June 144.6 lbs. I did yoga 21 days and only missed doing PT for my shoulder 3 days. I can live with these numbers.
At the start of the month I gave my office a good clearing out. It began with a plan to do a few shelves and then it spread to a few more spaces and finished off with doing the two bottom drawers of the file cabinet. It was an oddly satisfying way to spend a Sunday afternoon and I am loving my time in my office.
So far the “Summer Plan” is working out quite well. It does take a lot of energy and patience in the morning but in the afternoon we each get a bit of time to ourselves so I can get some work done (take a nap) as needed. I am happy I started right from day one of summer break so there were no bad habits to unlearn for either of us.
I went back to using a habit tracker for May. I really do find it helps me get things done. My favorite thing to do right now is my coloring meditation. I am finding it very soothing these days. And I am thrilled with the progress I am making organizing my digital photos. I am done the first run through of making albums by date and event and now I am going to go back and make some albums of different groupings. I was surprised to find I am really enjoying this task.
See you next month. Geez I hope I have nothing but positive results to report!
April was rather crazy. I felt like I was failing at everything and then I realized what I am actually doing is learning. Finding out what doesn’t work for my eating habits can be just as helpful and valuable as finding out what does work.
This month I am going to focus on what I am doing well at or at least better. I started visiting the farmer’s market on Sunday mornings and buying lovely fruits and vegetables. And eating them! They also have wild caught fish from Alaska that is hand processed, frozen and sent down to Tucson, very yummy. Excited about my CSA starting in May. We still get our Butcher Box every other month and that helps cut down on trips to the grocery store too. And I did really well with eating at local restaurants.
Focused eating is something I think is very important and that I am still struggling with. I can’t seem to break the reading while eating habit. I am trying to start with small changes and work my way up. Focusing on at least a few bites and periodically tuning in through out the meal. Hopefully in time I will reach my goal of eating with total attention. I truly believe how I eat will make a big difference in what I eat. I did finish reading “Food Rules” and am still flipping through it a few times a week mulling over all the advice.
I have been doing a great job of eating only when I am hungry. I feel best when I eat a hearty breakfast mid to late morning and then a late lunch and no dinner. I sleep better and feel better in general. It can be a tough schedule though with the family but I am finding ways to make it work.
Feet to the fire: Weight on April 2 – 144lbs. Weight on May 2 – 145.4. I am not stressing because I can feel the water weight bloating thing going on. I figure if I can keep close to 145 then once I am done with the MHC phase of life I will only have to lose five pounds to be comfortable with my weight. I did yoga 17 days which I am happy with since I went on two trips this month. I am also doing PT for my shoulder at home once a day. Still keeping up with the food log. Still eating too many sweets. Sigh.
Random photo from my trip to Mt. Lemmon during the teacher walkout. More dry than wet stream, sad.
It was a bad month for MHC (Menopausal Hormonal Craziness). I had three periods during the month. Yes, three. separate. periods. It was ugly. Emotionally I was a wreck. I kept telling myself this must mean the start of full blown menopause is near and then I would laugh/cry and remember thinking that same thing this time last year. So now I warily wait to see what happens next with my body.
On the positive side I did get away for a weekend. I went by myself to Laughlin, NV for a bowling tournament and rather enjoyed myself. It was a nice change of pace and scenery.
On the nagging task front I have started a new 10 minutes a day project: organizing my digital photos. I was inspired by this post and then I watched a few youtube videos for more tips. It is actually easier and going quicker than I thought.
Food Rules #83 Break the rules once in awhile. “Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness and probably for your health too. Our experience over the past few decades suggests that dieting and and worrying about nutrition have made us no healthier or slimmer; cultivating a relaxed attitude toward food is important.” -Michael Pollan
I feel like I know what I need to do to be healthy and I just need to act on it, at least as much as the MHC allows. I know I can do it because there are days when I am in complete control and have no desire for junk food or feel the need to eat when I am not hungry. When the hormones take over all I can do is minimize the damage and move on. This phase of life will not last forever. Right? Right? Please someone tell me I am right! 🙂
This was a good month as far as learning about my eating habits. I am feeling a tiny bit hopeful that I am going to be able to make the forever changes that I need to be healthy. But I have to admit to an epic fail for going 30 days without added sugar. I made it two weeks and then the raging hormones kicked in. Damn I wish menopause would just come on already! On to some specifics.
I have been wrestling with myself about how healthy is healthy enough. I am trying to ditch the all or nothing mentality I seem to have about everything in life. The reality is there are going to be days or situations that will make sticking to a plan impossible. The trick is not to let one bad meal ruin a day or one bad day ruin a whole week. And I can control just how “bad” a meal is to some degree.
The first half of the month I tracked when I ate and how I felt before and after as far as hunger went. The second half of the month I tracked how much I enjoyed what I ate. I learned meals aren’t my problem. I seldom overeat and for the most part enjoy what I make at home. When I did mindlessly snack I really didn’t enjoy it. The problem is eating when I am not really hungry. This happens on weekends when we are doing family things and stop to eat because everyone else is hungry. Dinner time can also be difficult, I cooked it, everyone else is eating so it feels weird to skip dinner with the family (though I do eat smaller portions). Listening to my own needs will continue to be a work in progress.
I used a number for how hungry/full I felt and a letter for why I ate for the first half of the month. The second half I used a 1-5 scale as to how much I enjoyed what I ate.
This month I did a much better job eating at local restaurants when we ate out. It was easier to make healthier choices and I enjoyed the food more. I have noticed that fast food and most junk food doesn’t have the same appeal as I eat better tasting, healthier food more often.
For April I am going to concentrate on really focusing on my food when I eat. This is a huge change that I am having difficulty with but I am going to persevere. In my re-reading of “Food Rules an Eater’s Manual” by Michael Pollan I am into the section about how to eat. Perfect timing to reinforce all those things I know I should be doing.
Feet to the fire: Weight on 1 March – 147.8. Weight on 2 April – 144.0! I did yoga 19 times which with my shoulder I thought was pretty good. Still doing an excellent job keeping my food log, really unhappy about all the red circles (candy or sweets) though. Can’t seem to win against the hormones.
I decided it was time to do a family activity that I got to choose so we went to a photo exhibition down at the U of A Center for Creative Photography. They have the archives for Ansel Adams and display a selection of photos. It is a small gallery with no admittance fee so after lunch (and after my son’s bowling league on Saturday morning) we went to check it out. I enjoyed it and my son tolerated it. Since it was a small display we were there less than an hour and afterwards we took advantage of a cool cloudy day to walk around the campus and explore a bit. My only regret is I didn’t take my camera, there were some lovely sights on the campus. Next time.
I have been feeling a little guilty about the time I “waste” coloring. The above picture of buttons is one I have been working on quite awhile interspersed with coloring pictures for Easter and Spring. I have found when I don’t take those moments to sit and color I really miss it. It is my form of meditation and I find the day goes much smoother when I take the time in the morning to sit quietly for a few minutes and empty my mind. I had to remind myself it is not a “waste” of time but a good way to start and end the day.
Still fighting the hormones and depression. Nothing seems to work these days so I keep slogging away reminding myself that it will get better, to be patient and take it one day, one hour at a time. And that it is perfectly okay to take a nap in the afternoon, no prescription needed! Much better than eating a bunch of junk food that I don’t really want. Of course I was able to find a loophole, ha ha!
Food Rule #45 “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” – Michael Pollan
Weather: March came in like a lamb, all warm and sunny. But February ended with a vengeance. We woke to a cold rain that briefly switched to hail. Luckily the hail was small but it will take some time to see how my lemon tree blossoms survived. (Those are not decorative white rocks in the plant above but hail.)
Something that makes me happy: All my medical information is available on-line to me which I love. I like being able to see the actual test result numbers and not just get a “everything is normal” from my doctor. This week I learned they had upgraded the website and now I can make appointments on-line! So much easier and quicker than calling.
Something I am learning: My son is having a terrible time in math these days so I am spending my afternoons learning how to add, subtract and multiple fractions. I suppose I am actually re-learning because at some point in my young life I must of had to pass a few tests on this stuff. I know I deal with fractions when I am baking but obviously not enough for fourth grade math!
Something I watched: “Before Sunrise”, the first in a series of three movies. I loved it! I found out about this trilogy from wanderlustywriter. As luck would have it my library had the first two movies in a set (“Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”) and the third, “Before Midnight” is on Netflix. I plan on watching the second movie this weekend. I love having something to look forward to.
From the movie “Before Sunrise”.
The Irony of Bowling: I bowl in two leagues, a regular “normal “one on Thursday nights and the other is a once a month league with the Tucson 500 club. We bowl on the first Saturday of the month and it is a 9 pin “no-tap” league. (That means if you get 9 pins on your first ball it gets scored as a strike.) So much fun, all women and I like that we raise money for Special Olympics and Breast Cancer research. On Thursday nights I frequently get a fair number of 9’s on my first ball but last Thursday I actually got some strikes and bowled a 225! (My average is around 150.) And on Saturday, my no-tap league? My high game was a 192 for the day. It’s a good thing I have a sense of humor.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
This was a month of success, frustration and continuing education. The typical mixed bag of life.
By the middle of the month I was seriously questioning the validity of my goal. I was not doing a good job avoiding foods with unknown ingredients or sticking to my ‘make it myself’ rule. I thought about specific problems I was encountering and what I could do to overcome them. If I want to succeed I need to find a way to make my goals realistic. While I am figuring all this out I have decided to eat no added sugar for 30 days (fruit is okay). This should also help put a lid on mindless snacking and help me lose a few pounds. I am also making an effort to eat more vegetables.
In addition to thinking about what I eat I am now thinking about how I eat. I read this book called “Beyond Chocolate” and I am implementing some of the ideas I found there. After my no sugar 30 days I love the idea that nothing is off limits because once you make a food a no-no that is all you want. And eventually you will cave, big time. The catch is you can only eat when you are truly hungry and you have to make a plate and sit at the table and focus on your eating. No tv or reading. You very mindfully enjoy satisfying your hunger with a food you truly want. I love this idea. I hadn’t realized how often I didn’t pay attention to my eating. I pretty much always read at breakfast and at lunch I either read or watch tv. Seldom do I pay attention to what I am eating much less really enjoy it. I rather feel like I have had a mini break through here. I need to focus on eating habits as much as the food itself. Ah!
Now for the boring maintenance stuff. I need to put this down to keep myself honest and no I am not that happy about putting my weight out there for the whole world to roll their eyes at, but I am doing it anyway. Weight on 1 Feb: 148lbs. I did yoga 18 times and I am back on track getting in my 10k steps six days a week. (I was a bit of a slacker in January.) I am still doing an excellent job logging my foods and this month I circled everything in red that I considered a junk food snack.
I totally embraced my word for the year this month. “Unhurried” is how I lived pretty much everyday. And I loved it. I made a plan every morning and thought about what I wanted to do as much as what I needed to do. And surprise surprise, even when I took care of myself first all the have-tos got done as well. Yeah me! I also finished my nagging task of knocking off a tote full of papers to be shredded.
Now I am marching into March with some new goals, a positive attitude about eating healthier for 30 days (even if it kills me!) and some new habits to give a try. Pray for me.
“I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
This quote cracks me up and makes me think. I do wonder what the context was when he said this.