November 15: in my own skin

For so many years, I’ve been uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve been the one behind the camera, behind the scenes, hiding.

This year, more than I can ever remember, I’ve found myself handing the camera to someone else…getting in the picture…feeling confident in my clothes and in myself. I’ve even posted a few self portraits. Full body self portraits that are unposed, unplanned and unedited. It’s crazy.

I know it has a lot to do with my weight-loss, but I believe it also has a lot to do with my paleo diet. I’ve lost weight before, but never felt this comfortable with my body and my emotions. I’ve had struggles, especially with the emotional losses I’ve endured these past few months, but I’ve also been able to find tools to help and to turn it around more quickly.

This is a very good place to be, and I’m so thankful to have finally make it here.


August goals

It’s August.

We did a little back to school shopping yesterday, for my freshman. I can’t tell you how over-whelmed I am by that. I am not possibly old enough to have a freshman in high school, and she is not possibly old enough to be a freshman in high school.

I always wonder how our lives can possible get crazier…and then they do. Back to school for the kids, a second church to pastor for Tom, more needs to fit in our busy hours, and hopefully back to school for me. I’m still not sure how it’s all going to work or what our days will look like, but I do know I’ve got to be on track with my eating and exercise to even attempt it all.

So I set a few goals for August.

Because, you know, my summer ones have just gone so well.

And by well, I mean mostly not at all…except the house isn’t a disaster and we’ve actually been eating fairly well.

But for myself, this month I plan to:

  • continue with month 2 of my Turbo Fire plan – which is harder and longer and will require me being up by 6 once school starts
  • lose 5 pounds – although more would be nice, but I’m being realistic
  • walk or swim 3-4 evenings a week – which seems to be helping me sleep better, burns a few extra calories and just seems to help my mental health in general
  • keep eating the way I have been, but cut back to 2 servings of fruit a day – funny, I think this will be the hard one. all of the fruit I love is in season right now, but I know I need to keep my sugar and carbs a little bit lower than I have been.

Have you set any goals this month? I’d love to hear about them! If you want to share, I’ll try to post a weekly check-in.

eat smarter

I do a big Costco trip at the beginning of the month – some produce, lots of meat, some cheese for the kiddos, a few other necessities.

And I have to admit: I have a tendency to cart peek.

You know what I mean…when you look at the contents of the shopping carts around you and compare them to your own.

Confession: I am very judgemental about people’s grocery carts. More than once, I’ve considered stealing kids whose parents have carts full of nothing but frozen pizzas, Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

But I’m noticing than more often than not, those cart ingredients just make me sad.

Especially when I’m eavesdropping.

Yes, I know. I’m terrible. I want to steal children whose parent’s feed them garbage and I eavesdrop on perfect strangers. All in the name of eating healthy.

I watched a couple at Costco a few weeks ago – both quite obese, the wife with obvious hormonal issues – trying to make good choices by packing their cart with Healthy Choices frozen meals, Egg Beaters, diet sodas…discussing which ones tasted better than others, even reading the ingredient lists. Their cart was full of food products that were all low-fat or no-fat, with chemical sugar replacements and very little real food. In reality, it was a cart full of chemistry experiments.

And it broke my heart.

Obviously, they’re trying.

They’re doing what television and popular culture, the media and the goverment are all telling them to do.

And obviously, they are failing.

Like I’ve failed. So many times.

We’ve been told over and over to restrict our calories, to eat low fat or no fat, to read labels, to eat more whole grains, and to avoid the empty calories for last few decades.

And still, the obesity epidemic has exploded.

The problem?

the only ‘expert’ on these things is the individual wise enough to examine their chosen way of eating & the effects it has on them. ~unknown

I came across this comment on Pinterest last week, and it struck me. We eat the way the government…or Weight Watchers…or the latest fad diet tell us to, not really paying attention to how it actually makes us feel or our bodies run.

We’re so focused on what we shouldn’t eat that we no longer value food as a source of nutrition. We focus on getting through the day with as little calories as possible, often not caring where those calories come from. Instead of eating a food because of what good it does for our bodies and minds, we’ve turned it into a number game. I know people who would be happy to eat cardboard if it had few enough calories or points.

And we keep doing it all over and over and over…praying that one of these days, it actually works.

One of the things I love about eating a paleo/primal/ancestral diet is that I focus on what each food does for me. Quality and variety are important. Real foods are paramount, and with real food comes real flavor. It’s incredibly personal and customizable because ingrained in the very basics of a paleo or primal or ancestral diet is the knowledge that we need to pay attention.

You can’t do that without realizing how different foods react with your body. I avoid grains because they make my stomach, joints and muscles hurt and they cause me mental fogginess, among other things. Dairy does unpleasant things to my digestion and my skin. And after a few weeks of really paying attention, I’ve seen what oils as opposed to fat do to me. It’s not pretty.

I would love to walk that couple through Costco again – show them how easy it would be to throw together their own Healthy Choice-like bowls with a bag of frozen veggies and some chicken tenders…how to spend a few hours on Sunday afternoon planning and cooking for the week ahead…to skip the Egg Beaters and just eat one of nature’s best foods (unless you’re allergic)…how to eat real foods and see real changes that last.

And I would ask them to pay attention to their bodies – it doesn’t matter if something is only 300 calories if you have no energy and can’t think, are bloated or having stomach issues after you eat it.

We simply have to take the focus off of simply being thin or losing weight, and with that, of counting calories or points. 

Our priorities must change.

It’s about health.

About how we’re choosing to fuel our bodies. 

About wellness.

About thriving.

Tomorrow, come back and read about my personal Lenten challenge and how it fits with this.

five for friday: paleo reality bites

Hmmm…not reality bites as in reality bites…more as in a few quick thoughts…

  1. I continue to be excited and amazed by how good I feel when I eat paleo. I’m also surprised that for the first time in my life, I don’t wake up starving.
    I’ve always woken up with my stomach growing and have had to eat first thing. Now, I wake up and can take care of getting the kids off to school before enjoying a more leisurely breakfast.
    Stable blood sugar is a good thing, friends.
  2. I added up a guesstimate of all of the money I’ve spent over the years on Weight Watchers, online programs, diet books, even shots…and it was scary. All along, all  I ever needed more fat, more protein, more vegetables, along with less sugar, no grains, no processed. Real food.
    Good to know.
    And I’ll keep doing all I can to spread the word: you can lose weight and get healthy without counting calories or points, and while eating real food that tastes good.
    Even bacon.
  3. I only lost about 3 pounds in January, putting me back at where I was at the end of my Whole 30 (I dove head-first into some not-great holiday eating – trust me, a few pounds gained was nothing compared to how terrible I felt). Kind of disappointing, but I added up the inches I’ve lost in the past two years yesterday.
    In two years, I’ve lost 48.5 inches when I add up the 8 spots I measure.
    Holy cats.
    Nearly 10 inches from my waist alone. And about a third of that has been since I went paleo in September.
    I felt a lot better about that 3 pounds.
  4. I stopped my second Whole30 on about day 8 while I was watching my son make his lunch for school: cheese, saltines and an orange. I had a bit of a bit of a lightbulb moment that I need to work on what the rest of the family is eating, and it’s easier to do that if my eating is a little bit looser than what a Whole30 allows. I’m sure I’ll do another one (maybe summer?) but until then, there’s more important work for me to focus on.
  5. I’m doing Clean Eats in the Zoo’s 30 Day At-Home Cross Fit Challenge, in addition to a couch to 5 k trainer right now. For the first 3 or 4 months of eating paleo, I didn’t exercise.
    At all.
    I started back to the gym last month, and was just miserable there. I’m finding I really want to be outside and am surprised again by how much I like running. And how much I like strength training, especially my kettlebell workouts.

And a few quick goals for February – and hey, what do you know! They fit in with my 2012 goals too:

  • another 3 or 4 pounds and another 2 inches down would be awesome. 5 pounds would be even more awesome, but I know I’m building muscle with these workouts
  • 25 workouts – split between the challenge, running and the kettlebell
  • keep up with my daily devotional and prayer time

What are your Febrary goals?

Whole30, Day 1: take….



today is the 12th?

Let’s make that take 12.

I wish I were joking.

I’m pretty sure the beginning of January was even more diet-bomb ridden than December – two birthdays (celebrated over 3 days), a New Year’s day gathering, eating out lots, an ear infection for me, a day trip to Monterey and another to Sonora, and the kids don’t go back to school until next Tuesday.

It was ridiculous.

And while I didn’t really do *that* bad (we won’t talk about that donut I ate yesterday)…and I could probably make the case that I didn’t stray *too far* from paleo (again, pay no attention to that donut I ate yesterday)…it wasn’t Whole30.

And my goal for this Whole30 – from the start – has been perfection.

Today, we’re finally through the birthdays…we’re through the having to eat out and the fun stuff…we’re finally through the holiday hustle and bustle and can find our way back to our everyday normals.

Today is Day 1.

I have a couple of specific goals for this Whole30:

  • 30 days of perfection
  • at least 20 days in the gym (the last one, I didn’t work out at all – in fact, I haven’t worked out since the beginning of October. this morning at the gym? painful.)
  • evening walks 2 or 3 times a week (looking toward a 5k goal in the fall

My measurements are done, I weighed and I’m putting the scale away until at least February 12th.

ready. set. go.


I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what motivates me to keep on this journey of weight loss and towards a healthier life.

There are actually quite a few reasons I keep striving – at the most shallow level, I really just want to look better and be able to buy cute clothes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but in all honesty…it’s just not enough to keep me from diving head first into a Fun Size bag of Butterfingers. It might work for some, but not for me.

A few years ago, I did Weight Watchers for about a year and distinctly remember a meeting where we were asked to share our motivation. A friend shared hers and it’s one that has stuck with me: she didn’t want to be a fat old lady. I still love her honesty, but it also sort of struck to the heart of my own motivation.

I’m doing this for insurance.

Now, I know I can’t add one day to my life on this earth by anything I do. God’s got a plan that includes the number of my days and I’m just trying to live it…

but I can do my best to live it as well as I humanly can.

For me, that means doing all I can to insure against the diseases I know my genes are probably a little predisposed to. My Mom was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in her early 40’s. Her mom had a form of leukemia usually seen only in children in her late 60’s. Her father died far too young of a stroke. High blood pressure is prevalent in my Dad’s family, along with a few more forms of cancer. Joint problems seem to be hanging from every branch of my family tree.

The knowledge that I have all of that potentially waiting for me and for my kids, who I model for every day as I try to live an active life and at every meal?

That’s my motivation.

And I know that excess weight as I grow older will only make it more likely, so I’m choosing to fight these battles before they even start.

What’s your motivation for living a life striving towards health and wellness?

Meltdown – Week 8


Eight weeks of the Meltdown are done, with five more weigh-ins to go before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an important day for me, and not just because it's my favorite holiday.  Last year, I started my weight loss journey once again the day after Thanksgiving.  At the urging of my doctor, I cut out all refined sugar and flour, and finally began to lose the weight that had piled on when I'd become ill the previous spring.  It has lead to many more changes – including determining that I can't eat gluten – but it was an important beginning.  Thanksgiving has become a landmark for me, a sort of reminder so that I won't ever go back to how horrible I felt for those months leading up to it.

This past Monday was an important day for me too.  Finally, after over 45 weeks of hard work, I reached the 40 pounds lost mark.  40 pounds has been a huge goal for me – it's the amount of weight I gained in less than two months when I first became ill.  And while it took me about 7 weeks to gain that amount, it's taken me far, far more to get rid of it.   I'm not even averaging a pound a week and there have been many weeks when I haven't seen any loss or even a bit of a gain.   Quite simply, it's been very frustrating at times.

We hear quite often that it's reasonable and healthy to lose two pounds a week, but I don't think our weight loss goals tend to be that realistic.  Last night, I happened to be flipping through the channels and caught a few moments of The Biggest Loser.  One of the male contestants had lost 20 pounds in one week, and 50 pounds in the course of the show.  I'm not sure how many weeks they're into – maybe two or three – but that is an absolutely immense amount of weight in such a short time.  There was also a female contestant sobbing because she'd only lost two and another in a panic because she'd only lost 7. 

I would hope that we'd all realize that the Biggest Loser contestants are in a very controlled, very unusual weight loss situation.  The contestants all tend to be morbidly obese, work out insane amounts of time and are medically supervised.  But it puts in our heads the idea that we could be – maybe even should be – losing weight more quickly.   It can lead us to unhealthy attempts to speed up our own weight loss.  It can also lead us to lies about who we are and what we're capable of. 

Weight loss isn't a race.  Sure, it's fun and helps with accountability to make it a competition and it feels great to hit those goals…but weight doesn't equal happiness or even necessarily health.  Some of the skinniest people I know are also probably some of the most unhealthy.   So many factors go into weight loss – what we're eating, how much we're exercising, what sort of exercise we're doing, stress levels, hormones – and it's difficult finding the right balance that works for us as individuals.  It's a continual learning process, with constant adjustments to be made.  Doctors may tells us two pounds a week is reasonable and possible, but that's in general and might not apply to us personally.

I've come to believe that the ultimate goal of any weight loss and exercise program should be improved and continued health.   For me, that means what I eat is so important.  Exercise is too, of course, but I tend to think we get more hung up on food.  And it's not just the calories in that food, but the taste, the texture, the natural nutrients, and the way it satisfies my body and my brain. 

Low-fat and non-fat don't have any place in my diet because they just don't satisfy…and lead to me eating more and more.   I've always loved those Snackwell's Devils Food cookies – but stopped buying them years ago because I'd eat the entire box before I could stop myself (and then feel horrible about my lack of self-control).  Compare that to a piece of good dark chocolate, which satisfies my sweet cravings with one small piece and even adds in a few heart healthy flavonoids, antioxidants and amino acids.  

Those rich foods we've been taught to avoid for the past 30 years in favor of low-fat ones?  Because they're so rich, our bodies and brains are usually happier with just a little bit.  More and more studies are showing that low-fat, non-fat and fake sugared foods trigger our brains to want more and more.  And let's not forget that what they replace that sugar and fat with is generally far worse for us than what it's replacing!  

Real foods - foods the way God made them – are more filling and contain so much more nutritional value than the processed stuff that makes up the majority of the grocery store.  They keep our blood sugar more level, so that we can avoid the physical crashing that leads to more cravings and out of control eating.  They're also cheaper, even if they take a bit more prep work.   Take a great big salad with some good protein, healthy fats and a variety of toppings…and contrast that with a diet shake.  Which one's going to keep you full and going longer?   Which one's going to taste better and will your body find more satisfying?  Which one is adding true nutritional value to your diet, improving your immune system and your overall health?  

Hint: it's not the diet shake.  If it were, we wouldn't have had the last 25 years of watching Oprah gain and lose weight to learn from and for comedians to make jokes about.

Finding that balance and choosing to make changes, not just for immediate weight-loss but for a healthier life, is a lifelong battle.  I know there are ways I could lose weight more quickly than I am – diet drinks, pills, skipping meals, longer exercise sessions – but I know those aren't health encouraging choices.  They're also not choices that are going to last, and they're choices that will come back to cause me harm and more frustration in the future.  

This week, I want to know:

What is a realistic goal for you?  Do you have any landmarks in your weight-loss journey?   And with five weeks to go, what is one lasting change you're hoping to gain from this Meltdown? 

Meltdown – Week One


My dear husband has this habit of volunteering me for things.  It's not really a big deal, but sometimes these things he volunteers me for grow a bit.

The FUMC Meltdown is one of those things.

From today until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I'm going to be heading to the church once a week to weigh in the staff members, as they  lose weight in a competition based on the Biggest Loser (without the insane non-stop workouts).  Sounds easy, right? 

Then husband dear suggested I could write a quick weekly blog on the weight loss, healthy eating and all that other stuff.

If you know me at all, you know I don't do things half way.  I need plans…and logos…and lists!   There's nothing quick about it, but I'm still excited to do it.

Before I get started, let me just clarify: I am in no way a doctor, nutritionist, trainer or..well…professional anything.  So take my advice with a grain of salt and a glass of common sense.

Since this is the first week, I thought perhaps I'd share a few thoughts on getting started.  For me, there's no planning, no wrapping my head around it, no psyching myself up.  Making the choice to eat better, move more and lose weight…it's one of those Just Do It! things.  Here's the thing:  planning isn't doing.  It's an every day – heck, every meal – choice.  I have to make the choice every single morning that I'm going to exercise.  I have to make the choice at every meal that I'm going to control the size of my portions.  And I have to make the choice toward healthier snacks, and also have to choose not to eat when I'm not hungry.

If you're making that Just Do It! choice, I also recommend not going overboard.  Lasting change isn't generally drastic change, at  least where nutrition and weight loss are concerned.  I'm all about Baby Steps – small changes that you can master and add to. 

Two baby steps to start out with…

  • Get Real…about what you're eating.   Real change can't happen until you're honest about exactly what and how much you're eating.  Track what you eat each day – either in a small notebook, open up a file on your computer or use an online tracker.  I'm currently using Livestrong and have used Sparkpeople in the past, but there are others out there.  Weight Watchers also has an online program for a fee. 
    The simple act of writing it down (or typing it in) can be such an important form of accountability – for me, even more than my weekly weigh in.  For it to work, though, you have to do it. 
  • Get Moving…I really don't think you can lose weight or be healthy without exercise.  Fitting it in isn't easy, nor is actually doing it.  I don't like to exercise, but I know that I feel better and have more energy when I do. 
    Start small and if you have to, start slow.  Don't just jump into a long workout from a stationary lifestyle – too often, we set ourselves up for failure when we hurt too much to maintain it.  Work your way into, and work it into you schedule.  Take 10 minutes and walk around the block, and add a bit each day.  Hit the gym and build your time on a machine, whether it's a treadmill, elliptical or bike.  Find a workout DVD you like (I'm currently using the 30 Day Shred), and even if you can't do everything, just keep moving until you can. 
    Decide to get exercise 3 days this week, then 4 next.  Write goals down and track your progress towards them.  Exercise is on my to-d0 list at least 5 days each week, and I enjoy checking it off more than anything else I accomplish that day.

Weight Loss: Randoms

I'm at 29 pounds lost since Thanksgiving and it's been a few weeks since I've shared about this specifically, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts…


  • That photo up there?  That's been lunch for the last few weeks.  2 whole grain Wasa crackers, 2 Laughing Cow cheese wedges, chopped up bell pepper and carrot sticks.  Before that, it was a spring mix salad with leftover protein from the night before, tomatoes, bell pepper, a few tablespoons of beans (usually black), olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Before that, it was corn tortilla quesadillas with beans and a little hot sauce, and some sort of vegetables.
    My point?
    I tend to get a little obsessed about breakfast and lunch, and eat the same thing for weeks on end until I get sick of it.  I can't decide if this is bad or good – on the one hand, I know it's okay for me to eat and it takes less thought.  On the other hand…variety is a good thing.  Maybe I should try rotating a few of these.
  • I took a look at my calorie tracking the other day and realized that I'm very rarely eating anywhere near all that Livestrong gives me…probably because I set my goals up wrong and have had up to 2000 calories a day to eat.  That's the average recommended diet for maintaining weight and might have something to do with the fact that my weight loss has been so inconsistent. 
    I reset it earlier this week – 1585 calories a day
    That makes a little more sense for someone wanting to lose weight.  In all honesty, I use the tracking more as a guide and for accountability…but I do tend to look to it when I want dessert or know we're going to be eating out.
  • I started using the elliptical at the gym.  It still scares the heck out of me, but I did it. 
    And I didn't die or fall off.  
    I'd call that a win.
    I've been having some minor issues with knee pain, and the doctor recommended the elliptical along with starting to work the muscles around my knees more specifically.  The first time I did it, I lasted all of 2 minutes (and that's with normally doing 30 minutes plus of walking in the neighborhood or on the treadmill 5 to 6 days a week).  Good grief!  I added another 2 minutes after my treadmill time and am hoping to add another 30 seconds or so each time I use it, until my elliptical time replaces my treadmill time.  I think I'd definitely like to have one of these at home. 
  • I'm also thinking that my birthday gift this year will be some sessions with a trainer…but not until we get back from California.  The doctor mentioned at my check up that regular exercise is the most crucial component of my fibromyalgia treatment now that I've found the right medication.  I agree with him wholeheartedly. 
  • Speaking of the doctor, I mentioned the symptoms I've been having when I eat wheat (particularly refined white).  He asked quite a few questions and we discussed it a bit.  The final analysis?  I can get tested, but I'm not having severe enough symptoms to really warrant it.  He made a note to revisit it at my next check up, but for the most part I'm just trying to avoid it. 
    His advice: If you know it makes you feel bad, don't eat it.  And congrats for being that in touch with your food and your body.
    I know it causes me a bit of a headache, can flare my fibromyalgia if I eat too much of it and it's almost impossible for me to lose weight when it's a regular part of my diet.   Id' say that definitely makes me feel bad.  From a strictly common sense standpoint, I just don't feel the need to eat it…unless perhaps there's a small piece of cake involved.   Side note: I do seem to be able to eat very small amounts if it's mixed with something else (like the Wasa crackers) or it's been fermented (like sourdough). 
  • I've noted this before, but the more I eat better, the more I exercise, the better I feel…the worse I feel when I eat poorly or don't exercise. 
    And the better I eat, the more I exercise, the better I feel…the more I want to eat even better and exercise even more.
    It's a nice feeling.  I don't really have any set goals – there isn't a goal weight I'm wanting to hit or a specific size I'm aiming for – I just want to be healthy and feel good again.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook – 05.18.2010

Outside my window…the sun is almost up.  I the weatherman is to be believed, we could be in for some big storms this afternoon.

I am thinking…about what I'd like the possible family photo shoot we might do this summer to look like.  I'm so over the black or white shirt and jeans thing.  I want color!  My first thought was turquoise and browns, with a bit of red and maybe some cheetah print thrown in.  Tom was a bit horrified surprised by that.  I'm thinking perhaps turquoise, a bright green and browns now.  Thankfully, I've got time to plan.

I am hearing…Caleb and Hanna sniffling.  All of our allergies seem to be going nuts this week.

I am thankful for…two more weeks of school, less than a month until Mom and Dad get here for a little visit, 5 weeks until I see my nephews again, options…knowing that God is always there, leading and preparing us.  And that even though we walk through trying days, we do so as a strong family seeking God's will.

I am praying for…God's will – clear and strong.

Toward a healthier me….six days of exercise this last week and two were at the gym.  And yet, my weight was up (less than a pound) and my measurements didn't change at all for the first time.  A little frustrating, but I know I wasn't eating as well as I need to be last week (stress!).  I've also become convinced that my green smoothies are vital – not sure if it's the concentration of fruits and veggies or the coconut oil, but weeks where I drink them every morning for breakfast are weeks that I feel better and lost more consistently.  Even if it's not in smoothie form, I do eat a lot of fresh greens (and other fruits and veggies), so I'm sort of leaning toward the coconut oil.  Still working on a blog post on it's wonders.

Inspiring me this week…this quote:

We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.
~Charles C. West
I am feeling very much "on the cusp" right now.

From the learning rooms…two more weeks to go.  History is, well, history.  We're working on some techniques to help Caleb with writing control.  Hanna has finally taken her area and circumference of circles test.  I'm ready for a rest.

From the kitchen…this week's meal plan can be seen here.  I'm also planning a couple of baking/fill the freezer days for this weekend.  Check back Thursday to see what I'm hoping to accomplish.

I am wearing…pajamas still. 

I am creating… a list of photos from the past four weeks to edit and get ready for printing.  If I can do it every month, I feel so much more on top of it!

I am going…to hit the gym at least twice again this week, and add one more weight machine.

I am reading…still reading Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli and my One Year Bible.  I'm also working on a list of books I'd like to read this summer.

Toward a lifelong education… thinking a lot about internet safety and the line between responsible parenting and helicopter parenting.

On keeping home…I'm feeling the need to pare down and clean out.  I know I won't be able to have it all done before our trip to California, but I'm making lists of what all I want done to keep me on track. 

One of my favorite things…hearing a word of confirmation in times of shaky foundations.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  gym, school, a bit of work on layouts, a doctor's appointment or two, a bit of organizing, a haircut.  It's been far, far too long on that last one!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…

Caleb Shuttle 
Watching the last launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis from our front yard.

Have a blessed week!

Read more Daybooks here, where they are graciously hosted by Peggy each week.