Saturday, June 25, 2011


Nothing puts life into perspective like a tragedy. It's hard to believe that I felt the walls were tumbling down on May 20. In reality, they didn't actually crash until later that evening when my mother fell in the bathroom and had to be rushed to not one ER, but two due to the need for a trauma unit. Five weeks later, we are still living in the remains of this disaster. What was originally a fractured arm and face has turned into a compound (exposed bone) fracture and pneumonia. It looks as if life might return to normal in the near future, but in the meantime, we are digging through the rubble and have come to realization that weight loss or gain is a minor part of what's important when faced with the stress and trauma our family has endured. I think back to the days when I wasn't sure what to cook only to realize that it's been over five weeks since I actually prepared a home-cooked meal. My exercise during this time has consisted of trekking across the hospital parking lot and hauling my mother's belongings all over a medical facility. Thinking about those days when I dreaded my morning walks with Cedric reminds me of just how lucky I was to have them. I long for nothing more than the time and energy to repeat those jaunts. Soon. Very soon. I feel that recovery is in the wings. I can only hope and pray that life will begin to resemble what was once taken as normal. Soon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

When the Walls Come Tumblin' Down

This has not been a good week for us. I laid in bed this morning trying to come up with a clever way of saying it, but in the end, I decided to announce it as such: This week sucked!

I started our fifth week with a head full of allergies. Eventually, my sinuses wanted in on the game, so I ended up dizzy in bed for nearly two days. Unlike many folks, I don't do the relax thing very well. I was going nuts. However, I was so sick that I ended up sleeping more those two days than I have in the longest time. I'm a big believer in listening to my body's signals, and this time, they weren't whispering ... they were screeching! As a result of being dizzy and full of allergies, I wasn't hungry. I mean, I had been having problems with my appetite before that time, but now, it was full-force no hunger. My one saving grace was a box of Edy's strawberry bars. Now those ... those tasted divine. They were the ONLY things I could handle. Unfortunately though, while I was slurping down strawberry bars, the rest of my team was chowing on pizza, Chinese food - you name it! All hell broke loose in the kitchen.

Fast forward to mid-week. I was still a little wobbly and felt as if I had consumed several glasses of not-so-good Cabernet. However, I managed to go out and about to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. I had planned on having a salmon salad, but you know what sounded good to me? Beef. I just couldn't help it. I wanted the hamburger sans bun with asparagus and mashed potatoes. O.M.G.!!!! It was the best food I'd had in a REALLY long time. I'll confess here, but will deny it elsewhere - I actually moaned a little as forkful after forkful of this little piece o' heaven hit my tastebuds. I was still a little dizzy, but I was alive again!

Now it's Friday, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that this week was a bust. Yesterday was a disaster! We not only ate out at lunch, but my daughter and I met friends for dinner at Showmars and then retreated to Red Mango for dessert. It was a full-fledge eating revolution! The upside to all of this eating is that it's pretty obvious that I've regained my appetite! I've also learned that our eating habits fall apart when we're not all on the same page. I had convinced myself that our new food and exercise routines had started to become second nature to us. Apparently, they haven't. It's really shown me how easily five weeks of work can unravel. But wait - don't think I'm discouraged or upset. I look at this week as an assessment of how we're really doing. I don't take the findings personally. Instead, I now recognize areas of our new lifestyle that need to be tweaked and refined. Today begins a new week. We may not be much slimmer than last week, but we're definitely a lot wiser.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not Letting Our Past Get in the Way of the Future

I'm not on a diet. I know this, but I have to confess that my lack of hunger has concerned me a little. You see, I had an eating disorder in high school. I was a purge girl. I never did the binge - far from it. However, I would purge anything and everything I ate. This went on throughout my entire junior year. But wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me rewind a few years.

My mother was a chronic yo-yo dieter. I can't remember a time when she wasn't on some sort of fad diet. She tried everything from eating nothing but grapefruits to some nasty cabbage soup thing. I vaguely recall her downing gallons of grapefruit juice with cayenne pepper or something. She did it all. I honestly can't recall if she ever lost weight, but I know she never kept it off.

One of my clearest memories of my mother's food obsession comes from an afternoon after she'd picked me up from swim practice. I was a freshman in high school and swam on our school's team. Anyone who has swum competitively knows that you'd eat your arm after practice - you're THAT hungry. Well, we had to stop for groceries after practice. My mother was on an anti-sugar kick at the time and wouldn't let us eat anything sweet. I was starving, and luck would have it, I had a little cash on me. While my mom roamed the aisles of Eisner in search of food, I high-tailed it to the bakery and grabbed a donut. I paid for the donut and sneakily avoided my mother while I wolfed down this delectable pastry. No sooner had I stuffed the last bite in my mouth than I felt a hand grab my arm. It was store security. I was being taken to the front office and accused of shoplifting. The Eisner employee paged my mother to come to the office. Thankfully, I had kept the receipt for the donut. Unfortunately though, my mother discovered that I had consumed a donut. That was an offense that a receipt couldn't rescue me from.

My mother started on the Atkins Diet during the summer prior to my junior year. I was never overweight throughout high school. I was a size 7 and weighed less than 120 pounds. However, my mother thought it would be a good idea for me to go on the Atkins Diet with her. I kind of enjoyed it at first. I mean, I got to eat a ton of meat, got special snacks like pork rinds, and I was getting thinner and thinner. And then something happened. I started purging. It was almost as if I'd given up a desire to eat. I couldn't stand it, and when I was forced to do so, I purged. It became so routine that I couldn't consume a meal without having to excuse myself. I had been chosen as a Rotary Exchange Student alternate for the following year, so I had loads of events over the weekends. I dreaded these because I couldn't keep food down. What had once been the one thing in my life I could control was no longer controllable. I had convinced myself that I couldn't eat. This disease had overtaken me.

It was just a month or two before I was to leave for England when my life improved. In thinking back on the whole thing, I have to confess that I can't remember what happened. I did it myself, but I'm not sure what the turning point was. I know that my junior year was probably one of the most difficult for me. I had some tough decisions to make that year, and I was awaiting word on whether or not I would get to spend the year abroad. In retrospect, I recognize that my eating disorder stemmed from the unknown and lack of control I had in my life. However, I'm not quite sure how I overcame it. I just remember being scared to travel one minute, and once I was in England, I could control my eating habits.

So here I am thirty years later with a lack of hunger. I know that I'll never go back to that junior year, but I can't help keeping it in the back of my mind. I think having an eating disorder is like any other disease. You can hold at bay, but you're always susceptible to its return. I remind myself of this every meal that I'm not hungry. This is also another reason I don't like to think of what we're doing as a "diet." I never want my daughter to inherit this disease.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Personal Conspiracy Theory

While making the multitude of food changes in our pantry, fridge, and freezer, I'm more convinced than ever before that there is a corporate conspiracy occuring in our country. My husband is probably cringing as he reads this because he thinks I'm slightly mad every time I bring this up, but I'm going to rehash regardless of his embarrassment.

I've suspected for years that something horrible has been happening to the food in our country. It seems like more and more people I come into contact with have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Even more distressing is the number of kids I know who have developed this adult on-set form of the disease. Two of the biggest factors of Type 2 diabetes are genetics and weight. You can't do anything about the luck of the draw on your gene pool, but you can on the weight. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) (2011), there are 18.8 million diagnosed diabetics in the United States. They also predict there are 7 million others who are undiagnosed.

I had gestational diabetes while I was pregnant with my daughter. I was extremely motivated to immediately get my diabetes under control because I was an older mom, I wanted a healthy baby, and I didn't want to give birth in a hospital. Rather than run to a doctor, the first person I sought help from was a dietician. Thankfully, she was good at her job because I went the full pregnancy without diabetic medication. Plus, I had a healthy baby that weighed a little less than seven pounds. It wasn't always easy, but doing the right things kept me drug-free and ensured me of a midwife birth.

Those of us women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are well aware of the future risk of getting Type 2 diabetes in the future. According to the NDIC (2011), there is a 35-60% chance that I will develop Type 2 diabetes. Trust me, this is something that is always in the back of my mind, and I have my blood sugar checked annually to ensure that I'm in the clear. In fact, this statistic is one of the motivating factors for my current change in diet and exercise habits. I've escaped the bullet for nearly 13 years, but I know that the gun is still loaded.

So ... let's talk about my conspiracy theory. But first, let's think about the grocery store. Walk into your favorite grocery. What do you see? In most stores, there is a perimeter lined with produce, milk, meat, and maybe a bakery. What about the inner part? It's mostly processed foods, isn't it? Now, let's take a stroll down the snack aisles. You see oodles of enticing treats, don't you? I mean, there can't just be Oreos anymore - they have to coat them in chocolate! Why, my Easter fav Peeps have been defiled by a coating of milk chocolate! What? A candy made entirely of sugar wasn't BAD enough for us?! It's hard to go to the grocery without being assaulted by these types of processed and unhealthy choices. The manufacturers keep making NEW and IMPROVED versions of their treats. All of this adds up to one thing - OBESITY! And where does the road to obesity take us? DIABETES!

Pick up most any magazine and you'll find ads for all sorts of diabetic drugs or testing supplies. It's a BIG business! Ask anybody who's had to buy these things - even with insurance, these drugs and supplies aren't cheap. And the problem is - if you're a diabetic, these products are necessary to live. It's not a choice. I snidely joke to my family that if we had money to invest, I'd put it all in diabetic pharmaceuticals and supplies. According to the NDIC (2011), we spent $174 BILLION in both direct and indirect diabetic expenses in 2007. The medical expenses for a diabetic are double those of a non-diabetic. We're talking some serious money. If you owned Pfizer Labs (Glyset), Bayer (Precose), GlaxoSmithKline (Avandamet, Avandaryl), Takeda Pharmaceuticals America (Duetact, Actoplus), Novo Nordisk (Prandimet), Bristol-Myers Squibb (Kombiglyze, Metaglip, Glucovance, Glucophage), Merck & Co (Janumet), Amylin and Lilly (Byetta), Novartis Pharmaceuticals (Starlix), or Shionogi USA (Fortamet) ... I mean ... wouldn't you want to keep diabetes stats high? Call me crazy, but I'd love to know if any of these diabetes drug folks own or invest in any snack companies. It's definitely food for thought!

Some interesting diabetes resources:

How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes:

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse:

Type 2 Diabetes Treatment:

Monthly Prescribing Reference - just because it's interesting to read all about the drugs our MDs prescribe:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stumbling Our Way to the Finish Line

Our second month has brought about some new challenges. I'm beginning to wonder if we'll ever find that dietary happy place. You know the one where meal planning is easy because everybody likes everything you cook? Is there such a place?! Well, for me, my stumbling block has to do with hunger. You're not going to believe it because it's not what you think. My hunger problem is that I'm NOT hungry. Okay, okay, stop throwing things at me. I used to long for this problem. However, now that I'm here, it's kind of an issue. I need to take oodles of supplements - all of which require food. Also, as many of us know, our bodies require food in order to maintain or increase metabolism. Without food, our bodies go into starvation mode and basically stop burning fat. So, my lack of hunger is a bit of a problem.

I don't know if it's because nothing seems to taste good anymore, or my food options have been drastically reduced. Truth be told, I don't think it's either. My hunch is that it's because I'm eating good food that isn't laden with chemicals. I remember how stunned I was when I first eliminated gluten from my diet. I couldn't believe how un-hungry I was. I could go all day without eating. Now that I've gotten rid of the majority of sugar from my diet, I'm having the same reaction. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so, but I'm still struggling to eat in the morning. Actually, I'm not hungry until late afternoon.

What's the solution to my problem? I'm still working on that one. I know it sounds crazy, but I find it difficult to eat when I'm not hungry. This is such a stark contrast to where I've been. I mean, there were times when I'd consumed an entire bag of chocolate toffee popcorn without realizing it was empty until my hand hit the bottom. So being at this point in my dietary life is pretty remarkable. I'm not willing to start mindless eating again. Instead, I think I'll make a list of foods that I really enjoy. Maybe I'll start there. Any ideas are definitely welcome. In the meantime, I'm rejoicing in my newfound freedom from food. It's kind of wild not to be thinking about it all the time. I know it's a good thing. I really do. Now, I just need to tweak it a bit.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Fruits of our Labor

As we finish up week four of our Fat2Fit program, I am compelled to reflect on what we've accomplished during this first month. And it's been a lot! My daughter was the biggest loser this week with a FIVE pound weight loss. I am so proud of her. My pride is not just from her amazing loss this week, but it's from the fact that she is beginning to think about what she eats and to recognize the difference between boredom and hunger. But wait ... I'm getting ahead of myself!

This week saw an enormous loss in my daughter's weight - five pounds for a loss of eight pounds this month! My husband lost another pound, making a total loss of nearly nine pounds. Me, not as good. That said, I am losing inches. My clothes are all bordering on baggy. I can't put my hands in the pockets of my black pants because if I do, they start to fall down. My "big pond" jeans are seriously saggy. Even my shirts have some extra fabric. It feels good. I don't care if the scales don't reflect my efforts because my clothes do.

The biggest accomplishment of this first month deals with lifestyle changes. It's almost unfathomable to think that I haven't touched even a kernel of chocolate caramel popcorn for an entire month. It's wonderful looking inside the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Not only is there room in all three, but the choices of foods are completely different to what the offerings were a month ago. Open my fridge today and you'll find organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. You'll also find glass bottles filled with water that we use at dinner. I'll post pics of them this weekend, but they've become a wonderful addition to our meals. There are tubs of non-fat Greek yogurt and a crisper filled with fresh organic vegetables. It's beautiful! The freezer is equally stunning. Nearly all of the meat is gone. The only things left are frozen vegetables and some fake meat items. It's the most empty it's EVER been! Look inside the pantry and find granola, trail mix, and nuts. There isn't a single untouchable. This is a first. And most importantly, nobody is complaining! Not a single whine begging me to get "good" food; no cries for some "real" snacks. Everybody is happy.

Perhaps the best achievement this first month is that people are conscious of when and what they're eating. The highlight of this first month happened this afternoon when my daughter told me she didn't want something to eat because she wasn't hungry. In the past, she'd have eaten it regardless of hunger. Not anymore. She's thinking about her food choices, too. She ate fast food twice this month. She contemplated what she wanted both times and threw away food when she was full. This was inconceivable a month ago. She'd always been a "Clean Plate Club" member. Not anymore. There are lots of things that don't happen anymore. That's a good thing!

I'm proud of my family for adapting so easily to the changes. I'm confident that we'll continue to be great losers as we move into our second month.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Never Watch a Documentary about Food at 1 am

I won't deny it. I am a hypercondriac. There, I said it. I am one of those people who Googles health symptoms on my Blackberry in the middle of the night. Those are the moments when I really wish I had an iphone! That Blackberry screen is so tiny. Or maybe it's because I'm pretty sure I have a degenerative eye condition and that explains why I can't see the small print. Or ... No, no, no - I can't go there.

My recent scare was a brain aneurysm. I know, I'm smart enough to realize that if I was having an aneurysm that I wouldn't be writing this. But for some reason, I allow myself to get worked up over fears of ailments that I have no real control over. Please tell me that I'm not the only one who does this. Please - even if you have to lie!

I had a whopper headache last night. It didn't feel like my usual headaches; it was pretty much all on my left side. Now common sense told me this was sinus and weather related. However, of course, I was convinced that I must be having an aneurysm. As a result, I got up and watched television. Maybe not such a good idea.

I had heard a number of friends talking about the documentary, Food, Inc. I never get TV time at my house, so it was fun to have the livingroom, television, and Netflix all to myself. I snuggled up with my trusty Poodle beside me and began watching this much anticipated doc. I read Fast Food Nation when it first came out nearly six years ago. I remember it like yesterday. My husband was at a conference, and I couldn't sleep. I'll never forget calling him in the wee hours of the morning to declare that we'd never eat meat again. I was utterly repulsed. Even though eventually ate meat again, I continued to have Schlosser's images in my head.
The opening of Food, Inc. is very tolerable. I knew that corn was in a good amount of our foods, but I seriously had no idea it was in pretty much everything on our planet - even batteries! Naturally, I immediately ran to the pantry to look for the many corn ingredients disguised as other additives. To quote one of my daughter's favorite books, "Zoo-wee mama!" That stuff is EVERYWHERE. Food, Inc. wasn't exaggerating. This brought to mind my extremely high fructose levels. I had assumed they were off the chart due to my love of fruit. Wrong! I'm now convinced that corn plays a role in this.

And then came meat. I thought that I was prepared for it, but like most things you enter into feeling confident, I immediately realized that I couldn't handle it. I made it through the chicken houses ... barely. And then came the cows. I just couldn't do it, folks. I don't know if it's because I was "having" an aneurysm or because it was 1 am, but I had to change it to Easy A. I might go back later this week, but we'll see. I endured enough to realize that my decision to go meat-free is a good one. Initially, I made the decision for health reasons, but now, I can easily say that it's much more. Maybe it's the image of a bazillion chickens crammed into a dark, narrow barn. Or perhaps it's the food they're fed or the disease they encounter. I don't know. I just know that I'm glad there isn't much flesh left in my freezer.

Food, Inc. clip - WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK.