Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Survived the Whole30!

The title of this post should actually be:
I survived the Whole30 and am a better person for it!

I decided on August 28th that I was going to have to dig deep and do something I've known I should do, but bucked.  I've been on the Paleo track for a year now but have fallen, compromised, cheated, whatever.  I've eaten fully gluten free for 3 years and have been on a weight loss/getting healthy journey for 992 days.  It's been a long, winding, road of learning about myself spiritually, mentally, and physically. I've given stuff up to fix my gut, I've given stuff up bc I felt addicted to it (although every time I did this I quickly found something else to take up in place of given up said food or drink), but this time, what I have given up is bad food habits.  

Whole30 has helped me to kick my sugar addiction.
 And I know what you are thinking...
"I could never do that."
I never thought I could either, but what I realized is that I never wanted to.

There is a big difference.

It seemed hard and daunting, but really, I just wanted to hold on to what I wanted, which was sugar.
Sugar is one of those things that has a strong hold on all of us.  It's in everything.  Even things I thought I was doing well on were contributing to my sugar cravings.  ( I.E. pickles and lunchmeat...even the good Applegate kind)
The large handful of chocolate chips every afternoon I never thought I was doing well on.
I knew that was just giving in to an afternoon craving for crap.

And now you are thinking...
" But chocolate is good for you."

Real,  dark chocolate is good for you.
Chocolate chips with sugar and soy lecithin and other crap, not so much.
Plus, the more I ate sugar or put something sweet, like honey, in my tea, the more I wanted sugar and sweetness.

I knew I had to kick it and this is why.

Man were my energy levels tanking mid afternoon.  It was bad.  Some days I felt like I couldn't go on for the day. I was just dragging.

Ugh, was I being a grump.  I felt on edge and grumpy and sensitive and frustrated and IMPATIENT.
Not to mention anxious and worrisome.

Stalled Out Weight Loss
Whenever you lose a large amount of weight (60 lbs) but still have 20 to go, that last 20 will kick your butt.  So for the past year I have gained and lost the same 7ish pounds, which is not helping me lose the final 20ish.  Sometimes you have to do something drastic again.

Whole30 is pretty drastic.

BUT!  It's not all that hard.  I mean there are hard days.  And there are mental things you have to get past.
BUT!  Once you get going and start FEELING different, you realize that this is the way you are supposed to live...
With ENERGY, and good MOODS, and weight LOSS moving in the right direction again.

The positives FAR out way the negatives...i.e. what I've deemed as hard or impossible.

The following are changes I've seen in the past 30 days:

1. Improved mood- I don't feel on edge and ready to explode.  I feel much more even keeled and chilled which I think is much more my natural personality.  Sugar has a bad way of changing our personalities.

2.  Better energy- I wake up feeling rested and get through the day with energy.  By the end of the day I am exhausted, but this is the natural flow of things. You should have energy throughout the day and go to bed tired.

3. Sleeping Better- I sleep really hard and uninterrupted.  It's nice.

4.- Skin- My skin is clearer and softer.  A friend said my skin was glowing.  I'll take it!

5. I Eat better- I mean, duh.  That's kind of the whole point, but it bears noting.
I have really tried to stick to the program as it's written which means no swapping of one comfort food that is crap, to trying to make it Whole30 compliant.  That's kind of what got me into this mess in the first place.
So I've tried new recipes, and learned to like new foods.
Enter colorful PEPPERS!  MMM, they are my favorite!

6.  I think clearer- My brain seems to be functioning on a higher level and firing faster than it was.
A fog has been lifted and I am functioning at a better mental level.
 I can't emphasize enough that it really feels like a fog lifting!

7. Enjoyment- I enjoy the foods I eat.  Because you have to be aware of everything you eat, it forces you to find enjoyment in what you eat.  (Versus mindless eating)
I enjoy the flavor of my hot tea and not the sweetness that used to be there.
I enjoy the crunch of spinach instead of the sogginess doused in dressing.
I enjoy the sink full of colorful veggies.

8. Personal Satisfaction- It's a nice reward to have the mental satisfaction of sticking to something and completing it.  The benefits of the first 7 points are the results of something that is personally satisfying.

What have I learned?:

*I have learned to not eat mindlessly, to not snack for the heck of it, that I CAN make homemade pizza for my family or carry a 3 pack of mini sundaes on my lap and not even lick my fingers.

I CAN DO THAT!  I can resist temptation.  

*I have learned that the food I eat can and should be fuel for my body and that I am the one that controls what kind of fuel I eat.

*I have learned that I set myself up for success or failure by planning.
I have to spend the time and make the effort to cut veggies, grill meat, make a breakfast casserole, etc in order to succeed.  My life is busy, so I have to do these things in order to succeed.

*I have learned that I don't need to snack.  If I eat really big and healthy meals, they hold me over til the next meal.
This is the one I'm still working on.  Yesterday for instance I was hungry most of the afternoon and hadn't done anything differently.  I ate some pistachios, which is fine.  Somedays may be like that.
The point is, I ate a good healthy snack that would hold me over to the next meal.
Chocolate chips don't do that.

*I have learned that having a support group is very helpful and keeps me motivated and encouraged.
And I love me some "Hey Girl" memes.

*I have learned that God has given us some pretty amazing foods that don't come in packages.

*I have relearned that my sin and bad eating go hand in hand.

*I have learned that I enjoy eating this way and want to continue doing so.

So yeah, today is the last day of my Whole30, but I have decided to continue and make it a Whole60.
There have been many ups and downs in the past 30 days.  There have been days with horrible headaches, naps because of no energy, and a general feeling of blah.  But the end result has been worth those hard days.

I want to spend the next 30 days learning to love some new veggies and really kicking up my workouts.
I want to me sure that mentally I am ready to have a treat, enjoy it at the time, and not keep having a treat for the next 287 days.

November and December will be here soon and I want to make sure my new eating habits stand firm and my old ones don't come back to roost.
That means 30 more days of zero sugar or sweetener of any kind ( honey, etc) and lots and lots of veggies.

When I'm done with 60 days I will allow myself to have occasional Paleo treats and will hopefully have such a new found love for veggies that my treats will be few and far between.

(Although I do have my sights set on an Apple Chaider at the Steaming Bean Coffee Shop in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in late November. Holla!)

But basically I will stick with the Paleo lifestyle in general as I believe for me it is the best thing for my gut health, sanity, and general health.  I have known that for a year I just lost sight and needed to refocus I guess.

So yep, I survived the Whole30 and am ready for round 2.
Let's do this!

P.S.  If Whole30 sounds like something you would like to do, join me!  You won't regret it and I will support you all the way.  I'll even buy you your first pack of peppers :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

It Takes Guts: Part 4- The Gut- It's not a litter box, so stop treating it like one.

Ah, the gut.  It's a fascinating subject.  Really it is!
I have read a lot about it this past year and a half and what I have learned is that if our guts aren't healthy, we aren't healthy.
Period and the end.
I'm excited about this part of our series because I think it is so important!

But before we get started, let me remind you about part 1.
You know the part where I tell you that I am not a professional and I still have a long way to go.

In part 2  I told you our story and now some of you won't look me in the eye.

Part 3 we talked about the big subject of gluten, and I am happy to report that some of you have begun to make changes to remove gluten and see if that is indeed part of your problem.
Yay you!  You are on the road to healing your gut.
Which brings us to part 4.  Don't you love it when things come full circle?

I became interested in gut health last year when my sister started telling me the things that she was learning. Living in Africa and subjected to a lot of different germs and bacterias, she was learning what part getting their  guts healthy could play in their overall health.
During that time I was still struggling with a lot of digestive issues despite that fact that I had been gluten free for almost a year.  This is when I started to learn that gluten free was not the only answer and that I had a really unhealthy gut. This was a whole new concept to me.

I know many of my friends were getting tired of my stomach always hurting.
So was I.

I'm happy to report now that I don't have many episodes of my stomach hurting, however I do still struggle with GERD.  I'm trying to get a hold on that, and still see things I could change and do better.
However, as I've said in my other posts, this whole health thing is baby steps, and although I have made a ton of them, I still have many more baby steps to go in my gut healing and over all health.

Now lets get started shall we?

Did you know that our guts contains millions upon millions of bacteria?
Our guts are their own little ecosystem and it's a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria.
This necessary bacteria takes up about 5 pounds of weight in your gut and helps determine many other factors like disease, inflammation, and even mood and mental health.
Studies have shown that our guts are responsible for 60-80% of our immune system.
Makes sense since so many of us are sick.

There are many reasons why our guts are unhealthy.
The two most common are the food we eat and the medicines we take.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am not anti doctor or anti medicine.


Antibiotics and over the counter meds are overused.
I've been the queen of it, so I can say it.
My kids lived on antibiotics their first 3 years of life.
Every time you are on antibiotics, you lose valuable healthy bacteria, and most of us don't do anything to replace it.

Remember, we talked in part 3 about the fact that todays wheat is not the same as the wheat of old.
The same holds true for just about everything we eat.
The typical American diet is full of processed foods, sugar, additives, etc, and not a lot of whole -healthy foods.  It only makes sense that since we eat a bunch of crap, we feel like crap.

Let's make this very clear....I am not judging you!

I have only in the past 2 years made any positive changes for myself, and am now trying to incorporate these changes into my family.  I know all to well how hard it is to make changes for myself, let alone my family.
Our food system is set up to perpetuate our bad eating habits. It's all about ease and convenience and I understand that because we are all busy and going in a million directions.
I was at Sams the other day and man do they make all that food look good and it's all such a good deal!
It's all about buying lots and buying it conveniently.
They even give you samples to try and then you are hooked.
I get it.

We've also been taught to eat and cook a certain way.  That way may have been ok 50 years ago, but todays food is not the same as it was back then, so our guts are paying the price.
I love Grandmas passed down recipes!  I am all about nostalgia food and comfort food.


It's such a hard dichotomy.
We live in this age of modern medicine and abundant food, and yet, cancer, disease, and just all around feeling bad, is on the rise.
There has to be a connection between all this disease and our food, and therefore our guts.

There is a new buzz phrase that has gained popularity recently and it is called "Leaky Gut".
Yeah, its just as gross as it sounds.
For a long time it was one of those things that doctors discarded because they didn't know much about, and there really isn't a test to diagnose it.
However, more doctors are looking now at the validity of this Leaky Gut, and are taking it a little more seriously.
I have talked with my doctor about it and he agrees. Yay!

But what is it you crazy lady?

Think about your gut as a long, hollow tube.
You've got this whole tube that everything we put into our mouths goes through.
It's a fascinating process.
This tube is meant to keep harmful things out of the rest of our bodies and process everything else to its necessary places.

Our gut should act as a strong, solid door, protecting our bodies from harmful toxins, bad bacteria, and properly digest our food.

With a Leaky Gut, that door is broken down and you are left with a screen door instead.
Through that screen goes all the bad bacteria that the good bacteria is supposed to take care of, undigested pieces of food, and other toxins that we take in.  Now those things are just in your body, and causing harm.

Who wants a screen to protect them from harm?  
Not me, and yet that is exactly what happened to my gut.  
Through years of bad eating and lots of different meds, my gut wall was eventually being chiseled away from harmful toxins and bad bacteria.  Not only was there the bad bacteria, I wasn't replacing it with good bacteria to heal the damage.  
This caused a lot of years of sickness for me.  I struggled constantly with sinus infections, and every cold or flu that came around, not to mention constantly feeling achy, random fevers, and the dreaded "IBS".  
Because my gut wasn't doing what it is supposed to do.  It wasn't being a solid door, protecting me from all the yuck. 

This is a good article that talks about Gut health in more detail.  
You really should read it. 

This one talks more about the the bacteria and leaky gut. 

And this one is a little more in depth.

If you really want to know more about the science of the gut, I highly recommend these articles. 
It is fascinating!  I think it's amazing that God created our bodies to work and function on a certain level. He also has given us foods to help it function in a healthy way. We just usually choose the wrong ones, and usually because they taste good and it's easy or convenient. 
Our bodies are paying the price for what we are eating, and that price doesn't always manifest itself is typical "tummy troubles".  ADHD, depression, skin problems, chronic disease, autoimmune disorders, and all sorts of other ailments can, in many instances, be chalked up to unhealthy guts.  
Look at the information.  It makes sense! 

Have you ever read a food label?  I know I never did.
They are filled with all sorts of stuff we can't say and certainly don't know what they are.

Lest you think I am judging you, I still have foods with ingredient labels in my house.
I just buy a lot less.  
I try to do all of my meal cooking with whole-natural foods. That has been a gradual process.  I didn't just one day tell my family I was doing it, I've just over time, done it. Nobody complains about dinner.  We eat good stuff and are full. 

What do we eat?
We eat meats, vegetables, potatoes, rice, beans, and every Saturday night we have homemade gluten free pizza. We eat good stuff!
For lunches we have homemade soup, nitrate free hot dogs or bacon, eggs, leftovers, etc.
I've recently started making our own protein bars and snack/energy bites, instead of the ones that are supposed to be healthy, yet filled with more ingredients I can't pronounce. I make us our own gluten free oatmeal too.  I buy the bag of gf oatmeal and then prepare it myself. 
But like I said, I do have labeled food in my house, I just have less than I did before.
I'm trying to live by the 80/20 rule.

That was a little bit of side note, but the point of it is that all of these foods that we put into our body on a daily basis, without thinking about it, are contributing to our unhealthy guts.  
There is a lot of information out there about the harmful effects of all of these crazy ingredients, including the dyes like red 40, yellow 6, etc....  Maybe I'll do a blog about that too :)

Over time, eating a lot of this, and not a lot of real food, breaks down that door in our guts.
Some of us are more sensitive to it than others, and others it can take a long time to feel the effects.
Honestly, I'm jealous of my friends that don't have any visible effects of a bad gut.
I don't think it means it's not there though, and over time things will begin to manifest themselves.
It's still better to not eat so much processed food, whether you feel bad or not.
In my next blog, we are going to talk about auto immune disease and all of this is going to unravel itself even more.  

One more thing about Leaky Gut.  Dr. Oz did a show recently on it and showed a lady and her 3 year old son who had debilitating arthritis. It was a juvenile form and the poor baby suffered from debilitating pain. The doctors gave him NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, Motrin, etc...) and then started him on powerful chemotherapy drugs.  None of this helped.
Another Dr said that this could be related to Leaky Gut and started him on an "alternative treatment" of diet change and natural supplements, and no more meds.
Ya'll...6 weeks later that baby got out of bed and said "Mommy, my knees don't hurt anymore!"

Oh how I wonder how many diseases could be cured if more doctors would look at the gut and healing it first!   Heal the gut first and then go from there if that didn't work.  It certainly can't hurt to have a healthy gut.

Healing Your Gut
So what can you do to reverse Leaky Gut and turn that screen door back into a solid studly protector?
What can you do to prevent damage and disease?
There are several things that I've been doing, and let me remind you that there are many things I still need to do better!

1. Bone Broth-
If you are my friend, then you probably refer to me as the crazy witch doctor lady that stews bones and chicken feet.
But hey, guess what!  That's how you make broth!
Your grandma has been making broth from her leftover chicken carcass's since her grandma taught her how to do the same.
The broth you buy in the store comes from bones.  It's just a weak form of it that doesn't hold the same nutrients and usually has added stuff that ruins it. 
Homemade bone broth is 1) great tasting and 2) so so good for you.
Broth that is made right will gel. 
Gel you say?  That's disgusting!

I'm about to rock your world and everything you've ever found comforting about being a kid.

Its made from the collagen that comes from animal skin and bones.  
I'm not kidding.  
Read about it here, here, and this one here is especially interesting. 

Now here's the good news!  The gel that is made when when you make homemade broth is extremely healthy for you and your gut!  (the gel they use for jell-0 not so much, since they add all that other stuff to it)
I like to think of this good bone broth gel as Spackle for my gut. 
When you drink this good for you, homemade broth, it goes into that long tube of a gut of yours and starts to repair that mesh like screen.  All that collagen acts, like I said, as Spackle.  
I love to think about that when I drink my bone broth soups.  
I get this picture in my head of these little people in my gut working really hard to spread Spackle over everything.  
It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.  
Missy likes. 

Don't you remember when you were sick as a kid and your mom would give you chicken noodle soup?  It's been a thing for forever to eat chicken soup when you are sick.
This is why!  
Chicken broth, and I mean REAL chicken broth, has so many healing properties, vitamins and nutrients in it. 

Check out this link that tells you what bone broth can heal and how to make it.
This link tells you information about cooking with bones and what benefits they have. 
This one is great! Read it!

Ya'll, I'm not kidding, I could read about this stuff all the live long day!
It absolutely excites and fascinates me!
I wanna throw a bone broth party and you are all invited!

Alright.  I'll stop freaking you all out with my love and admiration for bone broth, and move onto something a little more tame.

2. Probiotics-
Did you ever go on a round of antibiotics and your mom made you eat yogurt for the probiotics?
The concept was there, there's just a lot more to it.
Read about the importance of probiotics here, here, and especially here. 
Probiotics play a huge roll in the healthy bacteria in our guts.
Remember I said that we have millions of bacterias in our guts, and some are good and some are bad.  
Probiotics help promote the good ones so that the bad ones don't stand a chance.
I take probiotics in chewable pill form.

That's an easy way to start.
Once you really start to get into this, there are a lot of other ways to get probiotics.
Kefir for instance.  I've used Kefir but I let the grain die and I need to start a new one.

The next thing I am going to try is fermented fruits and vegetables. 
Now you REALLLLLY think I am crazy dontcha?!
If you'd like to read more about it, you can do so here.
It's a great source of probiotics, plus its easy and cheap to make!
I'm gonna do it. 
I'm all about easy and cheap.

Hey Missy, what about yogurt?
Yogurt can be a good source of a certain kind of probiotics, but its not all inclusive.  
Also, buy the real and good stuff.
Something like Stoney field greek yogurt, or fage.
NOT the kinds that are loaded with lots of sugar and other crap. 
You are kind of defeating the purpose at that point.

Alright, so lets summarize todays lesson.

*Our guts are like a second brain.  Our guts send information TO our brains and a lot of that information is that we are ill.  Depression, skin disorders, tummy troubles, chronic fatigue, foggy brain, autoimmune disease, these are all things that our unhealthy guts can cause.

*Our guts are unhealthy because our food system is unhealthy. 
Our food is convenient and tastes good and we rely on it.

*Going gluten free was not enough for me.  It was a start, but not enough. My gut was literally leaking all the bad stuff into my body and I was sick.

*Eating cleaner, bone broth, probiotics...these are all things that have helped heal my gut.

*Baby steps.  Cut out some of your processed foods, and add something clean.

* Start taking one form of probiotics.

*If you are really brave, start making bone broth.  It works wonders and you can even use it in your rice, beans, potatoes, anything you usually cook in just water.  
You may even want to bathe in it.
Just kidding.
(Note to self...check into benefits of bathing in bone broth.)

*Know that any changes you make aren't going to work over night.  Healing takes time!  
I am 2 years into this thing and am still healing, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is so worth it!  I cannot begin to tell you how much better my quality of life is.
Be patient.

*I love you and I want to see you be healthy because you are worth it!

Everybody good? Everybody happy? 
I want you to tune in next week as we talk about food allergies and autoimmune disease.
Why are they so rampant these days?
I don't have a lot of answers, but I have done some research that you might like.

Tata for now!  Go get that gut healthy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It Takes Guts: Part 3- Gluten- The Smelly Cat

Ya'll are all good blog readers and you've already read Part1 and Part 2, and now you are ready to dig in, get down to the nitty gritty, pump up the jam pump it up, get this party started, and find out why I say things like "Gluten is the smelly cat."

Remember when Phoebe Buffay gave us the classic "Smelly Cat" song?
"Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat, it's not your fault!"
Well written Pheobe Buffay, and wise words to boot. 

Just like the smelly cat couldn't help that it was smelly, neither can gluten help that it is so glutenee.
(That is an official word.)
I feel bad for the gluten.  Really I do!
It's become such a hot topic these days and all it was trying to do is what God made it to do...
Hold dough together.

This is a good article that tells you what Gluten is.
Read it if you like, or here is an excerpt with the main point.
( I like to make things easy on you cause I'm cool like that.)

"Gluten is shorthand for a family of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten proteins are found in the mature seed of these cereal grasses, which is what we refer to as the grain. Close relatives of wheat, such as spelt, triticale, kamut, farro, and einkorn, also contain gluten..."

So gluten is protein that binds. 

Kind of like the tie.  
Bad joke.
Gluten starts with "gl, as in glue, so you can think of gluten as the glue that gives baked goods their chewy yumminess.  
The problem is that this particular protein is hard on some guts, therefore producing yucky side effects.

Within gluten, there are 4 main proteins.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It Takes Guts: Part 2- Our Story- Why I have become the crazy lady you all think I am.

*Warning- This will be long, as it is after all, our story. However, I think it is important for me to write it all down to see where we came from.
And sadly, how far we still have to go.

So here we go.
You might wanna grab a drink.
Just don't spill it on your computer and then blame it on me.

When I was 14 years old my appendix ruptured, a couple of days after Christmas.
We had moved from Charlotte, NC to Marietta, Ga in August of that year, but my mom had brought me back to Charlotte that day to go on a ski trip with my old youth group.
I had not been feeling well for a couple of days, but was so excited about this trip that mom drove me up there anyways, in hopes it would pass.  That night I woke up in the middle of the night in extreme pain.  We were staying at my best friend Stacey's house, and her dad was a big fire fighter dude and I remember him carrying me out to the car and he and my mom driving me to the ER.
When we got to the ER, they took me back to xray and when I stood up for the xray, I passed out from the pain.  I woke up hours later after  having an emergency appendectomy due to a ruptured appendix, and then spent a week in the hospital.
( I also woke up to a large bald male nurse pushing drugs into my IV and I think he was an albino, but I'm not sure on that.  Remember, he was pushing drugs into my IV.)

When I was 15 I got mono.  I didn't get it from kissing boys. I think I got it from drinking after somebody at a fall time weekend camp retreat. (Again when I went back to NC for a visit. Are you sensing a trend here?).
I was sick for a long time.  I missed a couple weeks of school and it took me a long time to recover.

In the meantime and for a long time after, I got strep throat alot and was plagued with sinus infections.
I got the flu pretty much every year.

When I was 20, I got a bad case of pleurisy.  (Its like pneumonia I think.) It was so bad that I had to leave college for 2 weeks and go home so my family could take care of me.

When I was 24 I got pregnant with my first kid and had 9 months of constant sickness and vomiting that resulted in home IV's and me losing 35 lbs my first trimester. The kid was sucking me dry! That was followed by the labor and delivery from hell. (It did result in a cute boy, with the biggest cone head you've ever seen! But he was all worth it!)

When I was 26 I got pregnant with my second kid and it was basically lather, rinse, repeat, except this one had home IV's plus hospitalization for the sickness, then pre term labor with bed rest, followed by a horrible delivery ending in an emergency c-section.  ( It also resulted in a cute girl, so again, it was all worth it.) The Dr tied my tubes after this one and told me I couldn't have any more babies.  I was sad cause I love my babies and make cute ones, so a few more would have been great!

When I was 27 I had gall stones and had my gall bladder removed.

When I was 33 I had my tonsils removed.
(* I don't recommend this as an adult)

When I was still 33 my uterus that had taken a beating in my 20's decided it was ready to come out, and tried to on its own.  So in I go for another surgery.  Hysterectomy at 33.  Woohoo.
(P.S.  This technically turned into 2 surgeries.  While doing the hysterectomy, I was also getting a much needed bladder tack.  In that process my bladder was nicked and so the next day it was back to surgery to fix that and remove the bladder tack. )

When I was 35 I had my wisdom teeth taken out.
This doesn't really mean anything, just throwing it out there.
Or does it?

I'm now 38 and I've had 3 endoscopy's.
The only thing good about that is that I say crazy things when I wake up from those.
For example...
"I don't want to eat squid".
"I want to go to Chuck E Cheese."
Oh, and this one came after the wisdom teeth...
"Why did they bears take my teeth?  They already have teeth!"
The plan for the rest of my life is no more opportunities for anaesthesia, but if I have to, I'll invite you along.  It's a blast.

Bored yet?
Wondering what's left to remove?
Wondering if you can see my scars?
UM. No.
Wondering why I just told you all of that?
I'll get to it but first lets talk about my husband for a minute.

In 2003 he was working for Olan Mills as a church directory photographer.  Many of you friends have his work hanging in your living rooms.
Go ahead and look at that picture.  Reflect on how fast time goes by. No you didn't look better then! You look amazing now!  Yes, your kids have grown way to fast. No, Olan Mills no longer does church directories. Yes, it's time for a new family picture.
OK.  Are we done with the trip down memory lane?  Ready to get back to the task at hand?
Like I was saying before you all interrupted me with your moment of nostalgia, Stacy was up in Gadsden taking pictures at a church and got really sick.  So sick as a matter of fact that he went to an urgent care facility in the area that did an xray and told him to get to the ER.  So sick, that his boss had to drive him back to Birmingham to get to the hospital.
He spent a week in the hospital and underwent some tests and procedures and we found out that he had Chrons disease.
What is that?  At that time in 2003, we had no idea. I had never even heard of it.  I didn't know if that meant my husband of only 4 years and the father of my 3 and 1 year olds was going to be around to help me raise these two.  I was uninformed and at that point in my life, didn't know where to find out the answers.

More about that later.
I am a barrel of mystery today.
Maybe I should call this series "Missy's Mystery Machine".
I always wanted to be Daphne.  She had cute clothes and all the boys liked her.
I digress.

Moving onto my sweet darling daughter.
Bless her heart.  She struggled pretty early on with stomach issues.
Potty training her was hard because of it.
When she was 3 years old she got her first Urinary Tract infection and would drop to her knees and scream because it hurt so bad.  It was horrible to watch.  HORRIBLE.
They put her on the traditional UTI antibiotics and turns out, she was allergic.
After hearing her in her room in the middle of the night having a conversation with herself, I went in to find her burning up with fever, hallucinating, and broke out in a rash.
Bye Bye Bactrum.
She struggled for several years with on and off again UTIs.
When she was 7, the Dr. sent her for those dreaded tests they do where they shoot the dye in through the catheter. They had to stop the test short because she had an infection, so poor baby had to do it again later, and again later, she had an infection.
They put her on a dose of antibiotics for a year. One year. I didn't know much, except that this would hopefully prevent more infections.
A few months later, she was having a lot of stomach pain. I took her up to the local urgent care place where they did an xray and said she was all stopped up.
 (you know....with poop....It's my blog and I can say poop if I want to)
He gave me some medicine and said she'd be cleaned out by morning and sent me on my merry way.
By the next morning, nothing had happened. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
We had even stayed home from church that night in anticipation of you know...stuff happening.
So by the next morning, when nothing happened, this is were my brain went.

"My husband has chrones disease.  Chrones disease causes bowel obstructions. The medicine they said would clean her out by morning has done nothing.  She is miserable in pain.  She just threw up. I need to take her to the local childrens hospital ER because if she does have what her daddy has, that's where we need to be."

Seems like a decently logical argument.  I even consulted some medical type friends and it was agreed that something is up.
So off we go to the ER on a Thursday morning.
I'm going to spare you all the details, because well...they are ugly, and they make me mad and cause my blood pressure to rise.
Suffice it to say, the ER staff that day was not on their "A" game.  They weren't even on there "C" game, and my poor sweet daughter went through a very traumatizing experience that caused her post traumatic stress anxiety issues for years to come.
(If you don't know her, she is one of the most chilled and laid back kids around.  Doesn't put up a fight over stuff, and has a really calm, sweet temperament.)

We did leave the ER with her cleaned out and with the assurance that there was not an obstruction.
We also left with a referral to a GI Dr.
We went to said GI Dr for over a year and the only place that got us was 2 invasive procedures (a barium enema and a rectal biopsy) and a lifetime RX for something to help her poop.  Oh, and I got something too!  I got treated like I didn't know that children should drink water and eat fiber.
I always felt like the GI Dr thought it was my fault my child couldn't poop.
There are plenty of things that I have done wrong with my kids that are my fault, but my child not pooping is not one of them.

We also got conflicting reports between the GI Dr and the Urinary Dr.  The Urologist said the UTIs were being caused from the chronic constipation.  The GI Dr said, No way!
I sided with the urologist.  It made a lot of sense!
Those areas are very close to one another and all of the infections she got were ecoli infections. Ecoli is from the poop.  So why wouldn't the infections be because of the constipation?
Not to mention the fact that the Mirilax they had her on to help her poop, made it such a sticky mess, and she's a small child...well yeah...you can imagine.

So round and round we went for about 18 months.
At this point, I have had enough.

Oh. You've had enough too?
Ok.  Go get you a little snack.  Some grapes?  A cup of hot tea?  A little piece of chocolate?
Go ahead.  I'll wait.

Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala. Ooooooohhhhhhahhhhhhhh.

All better?  Good, cause we are just getting to the good stuff!

Around the time that I decided I was done with getting no where with the specialists, I had started to piddle around with the whole gluten free thing for myself.  A couple of my dear friends were doing the same, and were seeing results, so I thought I should too.
My mom had mentioned to me some months before that gluten might be an issue with Lana.
I did a quick google search and determined that was not the case.  It seemed like gluten issues was for people with diarrhea and that was NOT her problem. Sigh.
I was ignorant but at this point was also desperate. I put Lana on a one week "Gluten Free Trial."
Being the sweet and laid back girl that she is, she agreed.
After 5 days, she said "Can I do it for another week?"
After another week, she said "Can I do this for another week?"
After less than two weeks, she was no longer taking the medicine to help her poop, was going on her own, and her pee didn't stink. (That was one of the things about the constant UTI's.  You could still smell her pee long after she left the bathroom.  That is embarrassing for a kid.  That is embarrassing for anyone!).

Now.  Lets go back to the top and my story.
Did you read the ridiculous list of surgeries and illness?
Does it seem like any of those things are related?
Some of them yes, some of them no.
Horrible pregnancies don't have anything to do with wisdom teeth, or my tonsils.
My gall bladder has nothing to do with pneumonia.
And yet, I can look at it all now and see how that every one of those experiences was slowly sucking my health well dry.
Each surgery, every round of antibiotics, every invasive procedure, was chiseling away at the wall in my gut.  A wall that is supposed to be like a solid door, but gradually through all these years of all of the above, turned into more of a screen door.
"Say what crazy lady?  No habla cray cray!"

Here's the deal.
I am going to explain.
But not in this post.
Like I said in part 1, this will be a 7 part series.
So my crazy issues, you know the ones about my gut being a screen instead of a solid, well I am going to explain that in Part 4- The Gut.
I say I'm going to explain.  What I'm going to do is present to you facts that I have learned over the past year and then you are going to say "OH! That makes sense!"

The story about my husband and the Chrones disease?
Yep, that will be covered in Part 5- Autoimmune disease.
The issue of the Gluten?  Coming up next in Part 3.

Now for your homework.
Yeah, I'm assigning homework.
It's my blog, I can talk about poop and assign homework.
The homework is easy and simply this.
I want you to think about your overall health, over the course of your life.
Have you been well?  Do you struggle with reoccurring anything? Sinus infections, strep throat, stomach bugs, eczema, depression, or any other thing that effects your life?
Think about your top 10 favorite foods and drinks.

See?! Now that isn't so bad for homework is it?
Think about those things and over the course of the next few parts of this series, see how they fit.

Just as a reminder.
Read part one for disclaimers.
I don't want to have to keep reminding you that I am not a Dr, that I don't judge you, that I want to fix you but I can't fix you, etc etc.

Check back next week as we get down to the knitty gritty!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It Takes Guts: Part 1- Just like Coldplay, I will try to fix you. ( Just like Coldplay, I can't fix you)

We all know that Thomas Edison was a smart guy.  You are sitting somewhere reading this, by a light, that you most likely turned on by a switch, thanks to him
( And others.  I know. Who invented what isn't the point here.
Why are you still arguing?).
I wonder how many times he and other inventors like him failed before they got the final product.  When they got the final product, I bet there was a small window of time that they were happy with what they had done, and then started seeing ways to tweak it and make it better.
The light bulb was a good idea that has been improved on over the years due to lots of work, trial and error, and persistence to make the light bulb work at its most efficient level. It didn't have to be reinvented every time.  The basis was there, they just did things to make it better.

My health and the health of my family is an already invented invention.
(I'm pretty sure there is a better way to say that.
Just go with it.)
The basis is there. The things we need are there.  
We just have to figure out how to put it all together to make it work.
It is taking years of work, trial and error, and persistence. 
We have not arrived.
At all.
Not even close. 
I'm drinking Starbucks iced chai while I type this. 
(Most of you just said "What's wrong with that?") 
We are however, better off  than we were when I was ignorant to the issues of our health and that is what I want to share with you.

"The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition." ~ Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison didn't just know about light bulbs, he knew the value of nutrition in our lives.
Sounds like he had high hopes for the health of future generations.
I do too, but the future is now and we can't keep ignoring the role nutrition plays in our lives. 
(That was brilliant.  You can quote me.)

Think of all the ways our lives are better because of the light bulb, the wheel, indoor plumbing, or any other convenient invention we use on a daily basis.
Think of all the ways your life could be better if your body was healthier. 
Just like all these other created inventions, God created our bodies to work and run a certain way.  
When we don't screw a light bulb in the right way, it doesn't work.  
The components that make up the light bulb didn't change, we just aren't using it the right way.
Our bodies are much the same.  The components are there for us to function properly, we just have to do things the right way.
Screwing in a light bulb is easy.  
(Unless you are short and can't reach.  Not that that ever happens to me....)
Figuring out how to effectively plug in all the parts so our bodies are well, not so much. 

Thats where the idea for this series comes in.
Let me just first say that I am not, nor do I claim to be an expert on health.
There is a lot that I don't know.
There is a lot that I do know, but don't do.
Much of what I have learned has been through people that are way smarter than me.
Much have what I have learned has been through trial and error.

So why should you listen to what I have to say?
That is a good question.
A really. good. question. 
The answer I have is that I truly do believe that so many of us walk around sick, struggling with disease, etc, when we don't have to. 
I don't have all the answers.  Not even close to all the answers.
But I've done the research, I love my friends, and I hate to see people suffer.
Especially when that suffering can be helped!

I have seen through my own experience how making changes, makes a difference. 
So listen to me, don't listen to me. 

You'll have 7 more chances to do what you want.

(Which of course is to hang on my every word.)

In this 7 part series, I am going to do my best to lay out the following:
- Our Story-  Why you think I'm crazy. ( Don't even act like you don't)
- Gluten-  It's like a smelly cat. (That's for all my cat lover friends)
-The Gut- It's not a litter box so stop treating it like one. (Not even kidding)
- Autoimmune Disease & Food Allergies- Why your grandmother didn't have them. ( She probably had bunions though) 
- Natural Remedies- Why charcoal isn't just for your grill. ( Neither is gas)
- Now What?- Practical baby steps. ( You'll have to change your own diapers)

I am hoping to give you a new part every Monday.
I am not superwoman.
I require much grace.
I'm a busy girl. 
I want to do a good job articulating the information, so some weeks may take me longer than others.
Because of the fact that Lana (daughter) and I eat gluten free, many of you think that is the main point. 
At the end of the day, I want to explain why that is only a piece of our health. 
That's why its going to take 7 parts. 
So listen close ok!

Thanks for reading along.  I'm excited about this little series and I hope you are too! 
If you aren't, shame on you.
Just kidding.
Don't feed me gluten.
I'll tell you why later. 

Now for the fine print.
1. I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical training.
2. I am not anti doctor nor do I run to one every time we are sick.
3. I do not have an xray machine therefore I utilize the orthopedic doctor. A lot. 
(If you don't know, my kids have had 4 broken bones in 2 years.) 
4. I am not super fit or super healthy.
5. I am not doing the best I can.
6. I still make excuses even though I know the facts.
7. I didn't make all the changes I have made in one day.
8. I still have a long way to go.
9. I've made a lot of progress over the past 2 years.
10. Just when I think I have something figured out, something else pops up.
11. I cannot tell you what to do.
12. I do not judge you.
13. I want to fix you. 
14. I can't fix you. 
15. I am not remotely close to being an expert. 
16. I believe that modern medicine is amazing and has its place in our lives.
17. I believe that food is amazing and has its place in our lives.
18. I believe food heals. 
19. I want this series to be informative and helpful.
20. I want you to look into stuff on your own.
21. I want you to make at least one change.
22. I want to eat chocolate right now. 
23. I don't want to run today.
24. I need to run today.
25. I'm done.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Recipes of Late

I have been  getting many request lately for some of the things I've been making.
I have a hard time keeping up with you asked for what, so I am going to try and start posting recipes on my blog again.
I am not one to stick straight to a recipe. I usually tweak things to my own ways and likings, but I will always site the source from which I got the recipe.  (Blog etiquette and all that jazz :)

Also, all of my recipes are Gluten Free, unless otherwise stated.  If you don't eat Gluten Free, don't be afraid, the men in my house don't "eat" gluten free either, and yet they never complain about my cooking and eat good pretty much every night.  Gluten Free doesn't have to be a bad thing!

I am bad at including pictures on my blog.  I know that is what you want is pictures.
Sorry.  I am a slacker.

Here is a funny Zumba picture.  It has nothing to do with recipes, but it was on my computer and I want you to have something to look at.  And I want you to laugh.  And I want everybody to do Zumba because it is fun.

I stole this picture from my own blog from a couple years ago.  It is food.

Up first, Zucchini Lasagna!


Here is the original link:
Zucchini Lasagna

Here is my version:

1 lb lean ground turkey
spoonful of minced garlic
S & P to taste
15oz part skim ricotta
1 egg
Sprinkle of Italian Seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, S & P  (This is the annoying part because Missy doesn't measure.  Sorry!)
1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce- you will probably want to jazz it up with some extra seasonings.  I don't care how good they advertise, spaghetti sauce is never good enough on its own.
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
3- medium to large whole zucchinis

First you will want to cut off the ends of the zucchinis. Slice them fairly thin.  Do not worry if they are not perfect.  Perfection is overrated.
Place your zucchinis on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt.
The salt helps to absorb the moisture of the zucchini.
Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes per side.
Remove to a plate and absorb excess liquid with paper towels.
This will probably have to be done on 2 cookie sheets.
* The reason for this step is because zucchini has a lot of water in it and if you don't cook out some of the moisture first, your lasagna will be watery.  If you like watery lasagna (don't share it with me) you can skip this step.

For the rest, it is basic lasagna 101.
Cook your ground turkey with the garlic and S & P.
Please drain your meat.
Meat that is not drained is gross.

Mix your ricotta cheese,parmesan cheese, a beaten egg, and the other seasonings.

To assemble:
Put a little bit of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.
Put a layer of zucchini.
Put a layer of sauce.
Put a layer of Ricotta cheese mixture.
Put a layer of zucchini.
Put a layer of sauce.
Put a layer of Ricotta cheese mixture.
Put a layer of zuc....you thought I was going to say zucchini?
Nope!  Put a last layer of sauce, then top with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes - an hour.  Put foil on it for the last 15 minutes if it is browning too much.
If you care about such facts, you can cut it into 9 servings and each serving is only 324 calories of goodness.
Also, if you like leftovers, these are the best leftovers!  I ate this for about 4 days in a row, and the 3rd day it was perfect!
Don't judge me.

Next up, Chicken Pot Pie

I have no original link for this as I got it out of a magazine and tweaked it so much, its really not the same as the magazine anyways.

2 chicken breast, cooked and diced into small pieces
2 cans veg-all (the kind with the potatoes)
2 cups of chicken broth
3 TBLS cornstarch
S & P to taste
1 cup shredded cheese ( I use the pizza blend)
Bisquick ( I use GF)

Make a gravy with the chicken broth and cornstarch.  Add S & P to taste.
Add 2 cans of drained veg all, the chicken, and the cheese.  Let simmer until the cheese is melted and all the ingredients are mixed well together.

Pour into a greased 9x11 dish.

Make a crust with your Bisquick.  You can follow the directions on the box for biscuits.
The directions on the box will yeield more topping, or do it the following way:
1 cup bisquick
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk ( I use almond milk)
Mix together. Spoon over top of chicken mixture.
Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, or until top is done and mixture is bubbling on the sides.

Calorie Info: (This is figured with the crust mix as I wrote above)
6 servings at 303 calories per serving.
Comfort food at its best!
I will warn you, this is much better hot and fresh out of the oven.  It was not as good for leftovers the next day.  The biscuits absorbed all the liquid.

Moving on to Squash and Zucchini Casserole

The original link
Squash and Zucchini Casserole

What I did:
2 yellow squash and 2 zucchini- Sliced thin
1 onion
Spoonful of minced garlic
1 package of mushrooms ( small package)
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 TBLS egg beaters (or 2 eggs if you wish)
2 TBLS light sour cream
1/4 cup Shredded parmesan cheese

In a large pot, saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms with some cooking spray.
I added the squash and zucchini after the onions had sauteed some.
Add salt and papper to taste.  Let this all saute together for about 15 minutes.
Use the lid to your pot and drain off the excess liquid, or pour into a strainer.
Use a paper towel to absorb excess liquid.

Mix together the ricotta, cheddar, egg beaters, sour cream.  You may also want to add some salt and pepper and I just decided maybe a little chilli powder would be good in that too.  Yep, I need to make it again to be sure of that fact.  Darn.

Now combine your cheese mixture with your veggie mixture and pour into a greased casserole dish.
I use my large round corning wear.  In case you wanted to know.
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.
Top with the parmesan cheese and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Serves 8 ( those are big servings!)
Calories per serving: 127 yummy calories.

A few notes:
The original recipe calls for layering all of these things.
I just combined them all and thought it was just fine.
The original recipe also has you boil the squash and zucchini.  Too many steps for me.  I thought combining it with the other veggies and then draining it was the way to go.
I am a food pioneer.

Another winner is Chicken Lettuce Wraps. 
Oh my.  Chicken Lettuce wraps are such a winner.  Winner winner chicken lettuce wraps dinner.

There are many variations out there, but this is how I do it.

1 Lb of chicken- cut into bite sized pieces
Small package of fresh mushrooms-sliced 
Handful of baby carrots-sliced
Small can of water chestnuts-diced 
Garlic powder, red pepper flakes, a couple teaspoons of soy sauce.
Teriyaki sauce, peanut sauce
Head of Ice Burg Lettuce
Rice Stick Noodles

Sautee all of the above in EVOO until chicken is cooked through.   
Then take this mixture and in small batches ( unless you have a big food processor) process down til its all small and shredded together.
Put back on the stove and add some teriyaki sauce and let simmer on low while you cook the noodles.
Sorry again, I don't measure really.  But you don't need a lot of sauce.  1 or 2 Tablespoons at the most.

For the noodles:
1 bag of rice stick noodles.  Basically follow the directions, but here are some tips.
I did it in a 2 quart pot.  You put oil at least 2 inches high into it and let it heat over medium high heat.  
The key is making sure it’s hot enough but not too hot.  Break of about 1/8th of the noodles and put into oil and they should immedietly curl and puff up.  Let it cook like that for about 20-30 seconds and then remove with tongs and put on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt.  I cooked the whole package but should have only cooked about a quarter of it. 
What was leftover though made a nice snack for the kids.  I may just make some more of those and add different seasonings for a nice crunchy GF snack for everybody.

Then you just use iceberg lettuce pieces as a wrap.  Put the chicken mixture in it, top with some of the noodles, and then we also had some thai peanut sauce that was fabulous on top!  
Low calorie too...Around 200 calories for 3 full wraps!
This should be enough for 12 wraps.
You will never want to go to PF Changs again.  
OK, I lie.
I want to go to PF Changs, right now. 

I'm feeling extra nice today,  so I am going to share with you a recipe I made up the other day.
I say made up, but there are a kazillion recipes for White Chicken Chili out there.
This just so happens to be how I roll with it.

White Chicken Chili 

3 Chicken breast
32 oz Chicken Broth (or 4 cups)

2 cans Great northern beans
1 small can Green chillies
1 can Corn
S & P to taste
Chili Powder ( Um, to taste? Sorry, I don't measure.  I should start measuring so I can be a better sharer)

Put chicken in crock pot ( you can do this with frozen chicken)
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and some garlic powder if you'd like.
Cook on low for around 4 hours.
When chicken is cooked, shred with a fork and knife into small pieces.
Add remaining ingredients.  Do not drain any of your cans, just open them up and throw them in.
Do not throw in the can.  Nobody likes to eat cans.
Cook until heated through in your crock pot.

If you want to do this quickly, skip the crock pot and put it all in a pot on your stove and have a quick fix dinner.
This is muy bueno ( I am a good spanish speaker) topped with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and eaten with tortilla chips.

As for servings and calories, you can get 8 big ole bowls of soup out of this or 10-12 small balls.
But lets go with 8 big bowls for purposes of calories...
Grand total: 168 (Without all the topping stuff.  Don't be a cheater and think you can eat cheese and sour cream and chips AND Soup for only 168 calories!)

I will now be nice, and I will give you some dessert.
Who doesn't love dessert right?!

First up, Pumpkin Chocolate Blondies.
This is the original recipe. I made up my own recipe, but since it is loosely based on this recipe, I thought I would include the link ( blog etiquette :) plus, the original looks really good, so I may want to try it that way sometime too.

You are about to love me or hate me.
I am about to introduce you to a concept that is either going to blow your mind, or send you running for the hills.
Are you ready for this?

Using beans instead of flour.

I know what you are thinking.
Stop thinking that.
Open your mind.
Don't be hatin on the beans.

I have made brownies several times using black beans instead of flour.
My friend Kim Hill makes the most awesome chocolate cake with black beans instead of flour.

I made this recipe with chic peas/garbanzo beans.

2 cans of Chic peas/garbanzo beans
1 can of Pumpkin
3 TBLS Coconut Oil
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup of Hersheys dark chocolate chips

Now listen very closely.  This is easy to make, but you can't cut steps.

Step 1: Rinse and drain  your beans.
Put them in a strainer and rinse and take out the little bad pieces.
I also pat dry with some paper towels.

Step 2: Put the beans in a food processor and process down til its not chunky.  It will have the look of thick flour.  I have a small food chopper type thing so I have to do it in several batches.  Its all good.

Step 3.  Place all ingredients (except the chocolate chips) into your mixer and mix.
( I have a kitchenaid stand up mixer and so I let it mix up for a couple minutes)

Step 4:  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Step 5: Here you have to make a decision.
Make thick, deep dish slices, or make thinner (but still thick) brownie type slices.
I chose deep dish and poured it into a  greased 10" springform pan (like in the link above).
You could also pour it into a greased 9x13 dish.

Some helpful hints from me to you.
Because I added a whole can of pumpkin, it made these very mushy.
I liked it mushy, but if you don't want it to be mushy, then only add half the can.
We ate them hot out of the oven,  mush and all, they were amazing.
We also ate them the next day, cold out of the fridge, and they were really good after they had firmed up some in the fridge.
Either way, it. is. good.

Some calorie and serving info for you my friends.
10" springform pan makes about 12 thinish slices at 254 calories a piece
                          10 thicker slices at 304 calories per piece.

In a 9x13 you could get 16 small bars for 190 calories a piece
                                          12 bigger bars at 254 calories a piece.

Who says you can't have dessert?  Not me!

Can you handle one more?
I think you can.

Enter, Chocolate Caramel Cake.

Here it  comes in its original form.

And here it comes in my form.

1 box of Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix ( if you are not a GF person, just use regular...but then you can't share it with your GF friends, and shame on you!)
1/4 cup Hershey Cocoa
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk Creamer
1 cup Brown sugar
2 TBLS Earth Balance coconut butter spread ( You can use butter if you want to.  I didn't want to.)
8 Oz tub of Cool Whip

Betty Crocker has made me happy with their Gluten Free yellow cake mix.  Yes, it does cost me over $4 per box.
But it has a box top....


It is just versatile!  I make so many things with this box mix, and I have never, not even once, used the eggs and oil that it calls for.

I can never find the chocolate cake mix, so I just add 1/4 cup Hershey cocoa to make it chocolate.
Who has 2 thumbs and is a problem solver?  This girl!
I then stir in 2 cups of applesauce until its all stirred together.  (Thumb user ;)
Bake at 350 for around 30-35 minutes.

While that bakes, whip up your "caramel" sauce.  I say "caramel" in quotations because it doesn't really look like caramel, but I like the flavor that happens with this french vanilla creamer.
I do.
The original recipe for the caramel sauce came from here. 

But since I don't stick to recipes, here is what I did.
I just can't stress to you enough how much I loved the SoDelicious French Vanilla Coconut milk creamer.
Get some!
I melted 2 TBLS of the butter spread in the pan, then added 1 cup of brown sugar.
I like using all brown sugar.
Its a personal thing.
Then pour in the creamer and stir until the sugar melts.  Keep stirring until it all thickens up a bit and you want to lick the hot pan.  Except you don't really want to lick the hot pan, cause that would burn your tongue.  You just want to lick the sauce, but unfortuantly the sauce is IN the hot pan.

I digress.

Once the cake comes out of the oven, use a fork and poke holes all through your cake.
Poke Poke.Poke.
Then, and this step is going to make you giggle while you work...
Pour that vanilla flavored caramel sauce all over that poke poke poked cake.
Put that cake in the fridge and let the caramel do its work in the poke poke poked holes.
After a couple of hours, spread that thawed cool whip over the top, and then serve it.
Serve it with reckless abandon to your friends, neighbors, strangers on the street that will now want to be your friends...just serve it up!

You could serve 9 friends, neighbors, strangers at 404 calories a piece.
Of you could serve 12 of them a much smaller piece at 304 calories a piece.

P.S.  This only makes an 8x8 pan.  A shame.

Here we come to the end of this fiesta of recipes, but I feel like I would be amiss if I didn't share one more with you.
Did I already say that?


Its another variation of this Chocolate Caramel Cake, but we are going to call this one...
are you ready?

Pumpkin Caramel Cake Bars

Use that Yellow Cake mix, and instead of adding chocolate and applesauce, you will want to add a can of pumpkin, and some pumpkin pie spice instead.
Oh. Yes.
Follow the same steps with the  recipe above.
With this one though, it makes better gooey bars, so you can pour it into a 9x13 dish.

This will make about 12-15 bars at around 250 calories a piece.
And I will tell you a secret.
Cool Whip started making frosting.
And it is good.
And it goes reallllly well with these bars instead of plain cool whip.
You are welcome.

I will try, try, to post more recipes.
If you have a request, let me know.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Wild and Wacky World of Weight Loss

There seem to be moments in life when you decide you are "done".  Sometimes its a moment of frustration, like being "done" with potty training or "done" with people leaving clothes all over the bathroom floor.
This kind of "done" is usually for a fleeting second as the potty training must continue, and in reality, the people you live with are still going to leave clothes on the bathroom floor.
Other times you decide you are done with bad habits and cut something out of your life...coke, sugar, staying up to late.  This kind of "done" you can make stick and it usually works ( at least temporarily) because you are just "done" with one thing.  One thing is attainable.  Easy. Takes a couple days, maybe a week to get it out of your life.  Quick fix.  Rip of the band aid. It will only sting for a minute.

Then there is the big "W" word.


Weight is a lot harder to be done with.
I mean, its easy to be "done" with it, but its not easy to do something about it and really be done with it.
"Done" in quotation marks is a lot different than done-no quotations.
"Done" in quotations is fleeting, very "in the moment", and more about a few minutes of uncomfortableness.
Done-no quotations is a quite literal interpretation and requires lots of change, work, and dedication.

I love the dictionary explanation:
Carried out, or treated in a particular way:
(in response to an offer) Accepted.
Synonyms:made - finished

Being done with weight means you have to accept and carry out the mission of a more disciplined and healthy you...to the finish.

As a Christian, I am called to finish this race.

Phillipians 3:14
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I do not want to over spiritualize the issue of weight loss, but I do believe there is a very spiritual aspect to it.
At least for me.
In the past I have used many excuses to not do what it takes to be a healthier version of me.
When it comes right down to it, all of those excuses amount to sin.
Selfishness- Choosing what I want over what I need.
Gluttony- Eating well past the time of being full just because it tastes so good and I WANT it.
Laziness- Not wanting to exercise because it might be hard and it might hurt.
Pride- Thinking that I can keep eating and not exercising and be just fine.
Anger- At people that work hard at being healthy.  (How misplaced is that!)
Envy- At people that work hard at being healthy.

You get the picture. Lack of discipline, lack of dependence on God, dependence on food, self, emotions, living in the flesh instead of dying to it...those are the reasons that on January 1st and many years preceding, I was 5 feet tall and obese.

9 months later I am still five feet tall but instead of obese, I am just overweight and well on my way to that healthy weight and learning to die to my flesh daily as I depend on God through this journey.
Everyday I am thankful that God has given me and continues to give me His grace to achieve my health related goals.  Everyday I pray and ask God to please not remove His grace from me in this area.
God has been faithful to encourage me in this journey and I have been faithful to see it through thus far and hopefully, to the end.
I've also kicked myself a lot and repented of the time I wasted to get here.

How & What?
How have you done it and what are you doing?  
We are quick fix people.  We want to do something and we want it to be done now.  I get impatient when my text doesn't send immediately.  I want that instant communication, I can't wait for 20 seconds while it sends!  Lucky for us, we live in a day and age when we can do many things easily and with a quick fix.
Weight loss is not one of those things.
Its just not.
Gosh how many times do we tire of hearing the whole
"You didn't get fat over night and you're not going to get skinny that way either."
Its cliche yes, but its true.  The quick fix doesn't work here.
It might work temporarily, but not in the long run.
I have done several things over the past few years that have granted me a 20 pound weight loss, but without changing my mindset, those 20, and more, came back pretty quickly.

I have made the statement in the past that "Weight Watchers" works for me.
Not a true statement.
It doesn't work if you don't stick to it and you fall back into the same old traps and patterns.
What works is a reset.
A mindset change and a lifestyle change.
That is what works and what sticks.

I bucked counting calories for a looooong time. I felt like it would be to hard (so what!),
would require too much work (Oh no!),
and I would starve (gasp!).
Guess what?!  None of those things were true.
Is it easy?
Not easy perse', but not hard either.
Is it work?
It is, but its not hard work.
And what is wrong with a little work anyways?
Who says I need to take the easy and most convenient way out of everything I do?
Have I starved?
Not one single day.

What I have done is signed up for a great and free service and logged in to that great and free service everyday since January 6th.
Myfitnesspal.com has been an amazing help and tool in weight loss.
The key for me at the beginning was doing it with friends.
There were a few of us that sat around a table one evening talking about this myfitnesspal that we all had signed up for and hadn't really done anything with.
I had already talked to one friend about us holding each other accountable to not eating sugar, but this myfitnesspal thing, well that just seemed like to much work to set up.
Gosh the me of January 5th was afraid of work.
But for some reason on January 6th, something inside of me clicked and I logged into the program, added my friends for support, and haven't looked back to January 5th since then.
In the beginning there were days that I would feel so frustrated by this whole weight loss thing, and balancing your calories, and what? I need to exercise too?!
But the encouragement I got from my friends on myfitnesspal was invaluable and kept me going.
Even if it was just an acknowledgement that "Yay, good job on walking for 20 minutes"..or "Woohoo, you've logged in for 10 days in a row!", it made me feel like I was not alone in what I was doing.

Several times friends wrote me nice messages about what I was doing and I kept them because they encouraged my heart and made me remember why I was doing this in the first place.
Other friends were so faithful and encouraging in noticing when 15 pounds, then 20 pounds, then 25 pounds came off.  It meant a lot to know I had the support of people who loved me, not because I was losing weight, but just because they are my friends and love me no matter what.

I really cannot say enough for the myfitnesspal website and app.
I used to think calorie counting was hard and too restrictive.  I can't tell you now how much freedom I have found in the boundary of counting my calories.
I give plenty of boundaries to my kids, we as a society have certain boundaries we live by to maintain order, we as Christians live with in a certain boundary.
None of these boundaries are to make life miserable and no fun, but to make it easier, safer, even more full!  So why can't calorie counting be the same thing?
Instead of looking at it as what I can't eat, I look at what I can eat.
I wake up every morning and set my boundaries for the day.
I log in what I will eat for the day.  Sometimes that changes a little and I have to tweak, but for the most part, I know first thing in the morning, what I can eat for the day.
That is freeing!
The great thing about it is, if something changes, I change it, within my boundaries, and move on.  The phone app makes it all super easy.
Does it require work?
But it really, in the grand scheme of things, is easy.

The thing for me about the calorie counting has been to be proactive.  I can't just sit back and wait for calories to put themselves in or play guessing games on food in the house or even away from the house.
I have to plan ahead, and in planning ahead I need to prepare ahead of time the things I have planned.
I can tell you this, I have not for one day starved.
At the beginning there were days when my stomach was growling so hard and I thought I was starving, and then I saw a great quote
..."Hunger pains is your body eating its own fat..."
That helped me.
It made me realize I didn't have to be afraid of the hunger pains.
I didn't have to be afraid of being hungry.
Myfitnesspal has set me up on a daily calories allowance that is designed to help me have all the nutrients I need for the day and burn fat at the same time.  No way I can starve!
I learned pretty early on that being hungry is ok!  You can lose weight and be hungry.  You can be hungry and satisfy that hunger with a healthy snack and a glass of water and stay within the boundary of your calories for the day.
That was and still is, a good feeling.

Give me an E!
Oh that word that I used to me afraid of.
I've always been the outdoorsy type.  I like to hike, play tennis, play golf, be out in the great outdoors.
I thought that made me a "healthy" person.
It didn't.
When it came to actual exercise, well I was just down right opposed.
Not all the time opposed.
I mean I would try every now and again.
I might walk for a couple days in a row, but my legs hurt, and my knee hurt, and my calves hurt, and well I need a day off...or 287.
That was me and exercise.
I was afraid of the pain. I wanted, deep down, to be an exerciser.
But the truth of the matter was that I didn't discipline myself enough to actually do it. I didn't want to endure the discomfort it would cause.

So I didn't.

In January, when something clicked and I knew what I needed to do as far as the eating goes, I also knew that just getting my eating under control was not enough.
I wanted it to be. I really really wanted it to be.
I even researched the matter to back up my theory that calories in- calories out, was all that mattered.
Well, yeah, that is true too and for a certain extent. And honestly, at the beginning it was enough for me to just focus on the eating part. I felt like I needed to get that under control and focus solely on that.
I don't think that was a bad plan for me to start off with.  I was in bad shape as far as the eating went, and a month to focus on disciplining my hand to my mouth, was a good thing.
But I couldn't go on with just getting the eating under control forever.

In February a friend of mine invited me to her Zumba class.
I went.
I sucked at it.
I left in pain.
I went again.
I sucked some more.
I left in more pain.
I went again.
We laughed a lot because I, some people just can't dance.
I left in pain.
I went again.
And the pain got less and less.
And the feeling of accomplishment got more and more.
And the pounds started really coming off.
And the sweat didn't bother me so much.
And I felt really good when I left.
And I logged it into myfitnesspal and liked seeing that I had burned 600 calories in one hour of fun.
I was finding exercise fun?

Zumba literally changed the way I view exercise. I will forever be grateful to my friend for inviting me, and for our instructor who does not judge, does not laugh, does not degrade.
Zumba made me realize it was ok to be in pain and to sweat and to work hard.
When I first started, I was going 4 days a week.  From February - May I went 4 days a week.
And I lost weight and inches and gained this new sense of myself and what I could do.
It felt good. It still feels good. The class is only 2 days a week, and here of late because of schedules I have only been able to go 1 day a week. But I will, for the rest of my life if I can, go at least once a week, because Zumba is fun and it taught me that I can work hard, and have fun, and sweat.
Those things are all ok!

I wish I could do Zumba 4 days a week, but alas, life gets in the way and you have to learn to do other things that you can fit into your schedule.
Enter running.


I never.  Ever. Ever. In my life. Ever. Thought that I would run.

I am not a fast walker. It has always hurt my shins and my calves and instead of fixing it, I just let it be another excuse not to walk or run or do anything that would be uncomfortable.
Last year when Logan broke his leg, I talked to the nurse about my pains. I saw the Dr, and I started physical therapy for Achilles tendinitis, the source of most of those pains.
I've had to put in a lot of stretches, and endure some painful walks and runs, but FINALLY, I am starting to see the pay off.
Sometimes, I am learning, you have to endure the pain while your muscles build and stretch and get used.

No pain no gain.
So cliche.
And yet so true.

I started walking in February.  I would walk around a little lake near us with a nice path.
Its .83 miles around. It would take me 22 minutes.
2 days ago I RAN around it twice in 22 minutes!
Who knows what I will be able to do in another 7 months?!
Maybe my time for twice around will still be 22 minutes, but the important thing will be that I am still going around.
I can't emphasis enough the fact that I never thought I could do the things I can do now.

Phillipians 4:13 
"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength".

There is no limit on that. I am not over spiritualizing or making this verse a cliche when I say that "I CAN do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."
As a believer, when I can do everything, when He is the one giving me the strength to do it, He is the one being glorified through my life.  I give Him the glory for the "everything" and for the strength.
Do I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when I accomplish something I didn't think I could do?
But the glory goes to Him for without Him, I can do nothing.

So to summarize this wild and wacky world of weight loss, I died to myself.
By Gods grace, something clicked inside of me and I knew what needed to be done and what it was going to take to do it.
I'm not done. And quite frankly, sometimes I get discouraged and a little frustrated by that.
I've never been tempted to quit, and for that I am thankful.
I've had to do things a little differently at times. I've had to push harder at times, and I've had to cut myself some slack at times too.
But I haven't and won't quit until I have met the goals that I know needed to be set for my body and my short little height. I will see this thing through, even if it takes another year.
I will still be me.
I will just be a healthier version of me.
I will be able to keep up with my soon to be teenagers.
I will be a more disciplined person.
I will be closer in my walk with the Lord because it is by Him and through Him that I can do this in the first place.

When people ask me "Wow, how do you lose weight?"...the answer is quite simply,
You have to be done.