Sunday, July 7, 2013

Upgrading My Tastes

Many people have asked for more specifics about my weight loss so I thought a follow-up post with more information might be helpful!


First of all, let's talk about food! Enjoying food is very important to me. I can't stick to something when I constantly feel hungry or am battling cravings or feel deprived of foods that I love.

I already covered some basics in my previous post, but here are some great meal ideas - all of which are tried and true here at our house!

Eggs and Bacon
Cottage Cheese with Apple slices or a few grapes
Apple slices dipped in nut butter
Grain Free Pancakes
Bacon and Egg Stuffed Avocado
A variety of frittata recipes.
"Egg Muffins"
Paleo "cereal"
Eggs with tomato and avocado (or homemade guac)
Crust-less Quiche
Poached Eggs, Over Greens, with Hollandaise Sauce

Egg, Avocado, and Tomato Salad
"Sandwiches" made with thinly sliced apples instead of bread.
"Sandwiches" made with cucumber slices instead of bread.
Chicken Salad wrapped in Lettuce
Various meat/cheese/veggies wrapped in lettuce
A salad with deviled eggs on the side.
Chicken salad with a small serving of cheese cubes and a small serving of grapes on the side.
Avocado Egg Salad served on spinach (or any variety of greens)
Cucumber Salad

Dinner + Sides
Portabella Pizza Bites
Naked Chicken Fajitas
Stuffed Pork Chops
Stuffed Peppers
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Balsamic Marinated Tomatoes
Grain-Free Almond Flax Bread
Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Wraps
Spinach-stuffed Chicken With Bacon
Spaghetti Squash, Sundried Tomatoes, Peas, Broccoli, and Grilled Chicken
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apple Skillet
Mozzarella and Goat Cheese stuffed Turkey Burgers
Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash
Crispy Coconut Chicken
Crockpot Chicken with Vegetables
Crockpot Chicken Soup (leave out the noodles, add more veggies)
Meatloaf and Fried Green Tomatoes

Celery and nut-butter
Avocado, egg, and tuna salad (Spread on cucumber slices or on a bed of greens.)
A small serving of almonds, blueberries, and cheese.
Peanut-butter Yogurt Dip (serve with fresh fruit)
Cucumber "Sandwiches"
Apple slices with cheese or peanut-butter
Apple "Sandwiches"

A small bowl of low/no sugar ice cream (or Clemmy's) with a drizzle of almond butter or "Magic Shell" usually fits the bill, but not always... ;)
Lily's chocolate is another go-to for me. Sometimes I just need a few squares of delectable dark chocolate.
Chocolate Cranberry Pie
Grain-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Chocolate Mousse
Two-Minute Blueberry Muffin
Low Sugar Hot Chocolate or Chocolate Milk
Cardamom Cupcakes
Pecan Pie with Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Fudge-y Brownies
Chocolate Frosting Shots (Just have to say - SO so good!)
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Pie
Chocolate Mug Cake

Do I count calories?

Yes and no. (I'll get to the 'yes' later...) In general, I have not counted calories at all; but I am also generally aware of a guestimate of calories at times. I know that the foods I eat are nutrient-dense (which is great!), which also makes them generally richer and more calorie-dense and those add up very quickly. Luckily, I've also found that while eating such healthy real whole foods, I do not need as much food! Quality over quantity really rings true in this case. I do watch portions as it is very easy to overdo portions.


This is a dirty word in my life. I hate plateaus with an endless burning passion. HATE. Yet, having lost 85+ pounds in the last year... I've had many of them. MANY. How do I deal with plateaus??? (Besides constantly hating them...) I have found some tricks to get over plateaus that generally work, even if I have to try all of them at one time. 
  • More Water - just being more conscious for a while about drinking more water. A glass before every meal, and having a water bottle handy throughout the day and making myself drink whenever I can. Sometimes this has gotten me through a plateau.
  • Counting Calories - ah, there it is. The dreaded counting of the calories. (Another thing I hate.) On occasion, I found it useful to really strictly log everything I was eating to meticulously account for all calories and make sure I wasn't overdoing it. Sometimes that also got me over a plateau by showing me clearly where I was overdoing it on calories. Usually it was as simple as keeping my portion sizes in check!!
  • Eating more frequently. Sometimes I'd get stuck in a rut of breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12:30ish, and dinner at 6pm. That meant there were many hours between these meals when my metabolism would slow because of a lack of energy to use. Just as a clear example: I found that if I had a smaller breakfast at 7am, and then a small serving of almonds at 9am, cucumber "sandwiches" at 11am, chicken salad over spinach at 1pm, apple slices with peanut-butter at 3pm, and then a moderate dinner at 5pm - it kept my metabolism up more and I'd get over the plateau.
  • A combination of, or ALL of the above. If I got really desperate, I'd do all these things (more water; count calories; and smaller, more frequent meals) until I got over a plateau and then I'd resume to my "normal" routines. It took some effort, but it was always worth it to bust through a plateau.


When I first started really trying to get some of the weight off, I set aside a few specific "cheat" days. It was really good for me to have a date in mind and it helped to alleviate any random temptations or cravings. I could tell myself, "Well on the 4th of July I can have that special treat. I can definitely wait until then!" My allowed "cheats" were typically no more frequent than once every two weeks. But quickly (within a few months of starting this) I found that I actually really enjoyed and loved all the food that I am "allowed" to eat and that I hated the way I felt after a cheat day (or even just a cheat meal). Then I realized that because of liking what I usually eat anyway, and because I hate the way I feel after cheating, I didn't need to cheat at all! (The only exceptions being times like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I did loosen up on those two days, but other than that, I never felt like I needed it!)

On one such cheat day, my husband and I stopped at our favorite dessert spot and I decided to get whatever I wanted and picked a long-standing traditional favorite of mine- a pecan bar. An ooey-gooey confection that I had always loved. One bite in and the sweetness was overpowering and honestly, rather disgusting. I couldn't even finish it. I was a little disappointed as I remember having used to love that treat and be easily able to finish the whole dessert; but more than that, I was so happy to find that my tastes have drastically changed and for the better! Now I have absolutely no desire for the ooey-gooey pecan bar and I'd rather have my dark chocolate mug cake with some vanilla Clemmy's melting over top of it!

Eating Out

I love to eat out. (Who doesn't!?) Fortunately I have found it quite easy to eat right even in a restaurant! Most restaurants have great options for grain-free/sugar free/paleo eating. It's pretty simple! "Low carb" meals usually work for grain-free/paleo as well so look for low carb options on the menu. Just watch out for things like sauces and salad dressings. Those often have hidden sugar. I have sometimes brought my own sauce/dressing. One trick I found to be extremely helpful--at many restaurants (depending on what you order) you can ask for half of your meal to be boxed up in advance for you to take home with you. Because the portion sizes are out-of-control in most places, this has become a great option for me and then I get two reasonable (delicious!) meals instead of just one over-sized meal! Plus, when it's boxed up in advance I can't accidentally eat too much or be tempted because "there's more food on my plate!" I am REALLY good about cleaning my plate, so having half of it taken off is the perfect solution for me! I also happily discovered that many of our favorite hot dog/hamburger-type places have the lettuce-instead-of-a-bun replacement option! This is true of Good Dog, Red Robin, and Urban Stack!

This is just an overview touching on some important tools that helped me tremendously. One last (somewhat random) item that I also think is often overlooked.... TV commercials! Most of the times when I was suddenly struck by a near-irresistible craving, it was instigated by seeing a TV commercial! They are so effective at making their food look OH so good and appealing! I found that whenever possible, avoiding commercials was the best thing. Mute them if you are watching a TV program and while they are muted use your laptop or smartphone or read a little bit- distract yourself! It sounds silly and insignificant, but those commercials are seriously out to get you and kill your hard work, willpower, and resolve!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mommy Metamorphosis: 100 pounds gone!

*** July 12, 2014 UPDATE: It is official. As of today, I have lost 100 pounds! *** 

 I am so excited and pleased to announce that since June 2012, I have lost 92 pounds!!!

Last Summer our family completely changed the way we eat. We did it for the good of everyone in the family, but especially because I hit my limit of being overweight. I was so tired of feeling uncomfortable in my clothes, feeling uncomfortable being in pictures with my kids, being upset by pictures of myself, tired of feeling tired, and tired of not enjoying certain aspects of my life merely because of my own body and weight hang-ups.

Steven is the main culinary expert at our house and he whole-heartedly accepted the challenge of feeding our family in a way that would be good for all of us, but also help me to hopefully lose the weight. And what do we eat? We eat Bacon. LOTS of bacon!!!! ;) And local pastured eggs cooked in the bacon grease! That's been my breakfast most of the time since we started on this new weight loss adventure. And I have lost most of these pounds while eating bacon and eggs every morning! Nothing low fat or fake. Bacon and Eggs! My point being, we eat real food. We eat unprocessed food. We eat meat, animal fat, butter, vegetables (cooked in animal fat or butter!), fruit, milk, and cheese. Plenty of homemade bone broth, plenty of good saturated fats, plenty of local raw milk (from a trusted farmer), and we also attempt to eat as much as possible from local sources. Pastured, grass fed, ethically-raised, non-gmo, local food is the ideal. We aren't always able to do that perfectly, but it's the goal. We cook with either butter or coconut oil. The kinds of fats that aren't made toxic by heat.

If you wanted to put a label on our "diet" it would be closest to what is known as "Paleo" or "Primal." It's a grain-free diet focused on meat and produce.

What I Carefully Avoid
Anything "low fat." Unless it is naturally low fat such as vegetables and fruit, but God didn't make cows give us "low fat milk" and real milk from healthy cows does not make "low fat cheese." I do not consider "low fat foods" to be real food or healthy food. They are processed and modified from the way nature intended. Fat occurs in our food naturally for a reason. Fat is important. Taking it out is not healthy.

I started doing Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred last Summer (2012) and I've done it off and on with some regularity ever since. I find it extremely challenging, but effective and I love that it is just 20 minutes. Anyone can squeeze in 20 minutes. I started running in the fall and in November 2012 I ran my first half-marathon. I also ran an 8k later in November. I ran another half-marathon in February and a 5k in March. I enjoy running and walking and 30 Day Shred for my workouts most of the time. But honestly, the diet change has been far more important to my overall health, wellness, and weight loss than the exercise. The exercise has merely boosted my weight loss a bit along the way.

The Keys to My Success
  1. A very supportive husband/family. I couldn't have done it without his willingness to help at every step of the way and his being my biggest cheerleader.
  2. Real, permanent changes to my diet. It really is a lifestyle change.
  3. NOT feeling deprived by finding great and healthy replacements for all my old comfort foods.
  4. Finding out how delicious and satisfying real healthy food can be and learning how good I can feel while eating this way.

Now that I've lost 100 pounds I feel...
  • Like a new woman.
  • I don't hate pictures of myself.
  • I am proud of my accomplishments.
  • I feel healthy and strong.

I have gone from a size 20/22 to a size 6. I have gone from size XXL/1X down to size S/M.

Do I still have body insecurity issues? OF COURSE! I think it is a lifelong struggle to overcome those. But I do have much more confidence now. I feel much more comfortable in my own skin. I don't intend to be "done" by any means and I had hoped that this post would be a "100 pounds lost!" post, however - it is coming off so extremely slowly now that it could be another year before I'm able to say that I've lost 100 pounds. However, I am GREATLY looking forward to that and have every expectation that I will eventually meet that goal!

Now for the best part....
Before and After Pictures!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Being an ICAN Leader Means to Me

Our ICAN chapter has thrived and grown by leaps and bounds. Our local hospitals boast a climbing c-section rate getting dangerously close to 40%- which is sad and ridiculous. C-sections happening at that rate are doing way more harm than good and are unnecessarily risking moms and babies. It's obvious how much our community needs an ICAN chapter by how quickly our chapter is growing. We have new moms showing up at nearly every single meeting.

The moms that attend our meetings have found that (for a variety of reasons) birth matters to them. Having the best birth for themselves and their babies matters to them. Avoiding ridiculously unnecessary and risky surgery matters to them. Understanding what the best birth practices are according to the latest research is important to them. Knowing what care providers to avoid, what questions to ask, and what red flags to be aware of are important to these moms. Knowing all their options matters to them. "If you don't know your options, you don't have any." It is important to know. These moms truly understand that! It's a blessing and a privilege to see.

To these women, birth is more than just a way to get the baby out. It isn't a medical event. It's a very important LIFE event in both their lives and in the lives of their babies. A rite of passage. A hugely important part of the journey to motherhood. To these moms, the experience is also very important. They want to experience the birth of their baby in the most natural and healthy way possible. They want to be active and participate. They want to feel everything - good and bad, pleasure and pain, joy and fear - all the various intricate physical, emotional, mental, hormonal, and spiritual aspects of the birthing process. It all matters. Moms and babies matter. It is all important. It's important to the healthiest outcome for both the mom and the baby. These moms get it.

What being an ICAN leader means to me....

It means staying very current on all the latest research on birth. What is evidence based? What is fear based? What are current practices and why? What current standard practices are good and which ones need to go? What does the evidence support? What does the research say about special circumstances? VBAC after multiple c-sections? Advanced maternal age? VBAC with a special scar? Breech birth? Multiples birth? Low fluid? Big babies? And so much more. We ICAN leaders are researching all of this constantly. On a daily basis I'm doing at least a little birth-related research for ICAN or for whoever needs it - I'm always happy to help in any way possible! I find myself continually up to my elbows in medical research abstracts. My eyes begin to cross, but I keep digging deeper and searching harder. Because birth is my passion.

It means being available to help when it's wanted but holding back and staying silent when it's not wanted. The women at our meetings generally want the support, the research, the information, and the help; that is why they are there. But in my day-to-day life I have friends and acquaintances who may not. They know what I do. They know what my passion is. But some do not care about the birth experience. Some do not care about evidence-based-birth practices, finding a care provider who actually tries (or knows how!!!!) to avoid unnecessary surgery, the intricacies of the process, the research, the journey, etc in the same way or to the same extent. They don't care to have to fight for something that should just be the way things are. (It's not the way things are, which is why we must fight.) I understand not wanting the fight. But I will never ever understand the not caring enough to take on the fight and it endlessly perplexes and disturbs me. But I try to accept it and move on and just be available to those who DO care and who do want and need the help, support, and information that I can offer.

It means having some of the most fulfilling experiences of my life (aside from the births of my own babies!) helping those moms who DO need the research, the information  the support etc and find it with ICAN. When they go on to have the birth of their dreams, you cannot imagine how beautiful it is to hear their stories. To feel their joy. To celebrate with them! These are the moments that I live for.

It means being the middle man between some birth professionals and moms who don't know how to find what they need. It means seeking out that doula that will attend a birth for free. It means connecting a mom with a midwife who is the right fit for the moms' needs. It means having access to one of the largest birth networks in the country and being able to go to the other leaders on occasion to ask the hardest questions.

It means getting to see moms all over this country fighting for their best birth against all odds. For some it is a huge battle. They have to want it very badly, truly understand what it is they are fighting for, and really care about evidence-based-practices to fight the way they do. A twin VBAC, a VBAC after 3-c-sections, a breech VBAC, a VBAC with a classical scar, just to name a few. It means supporting them and cheering them on. It means being inspired by incredible women every day. It means helping them fight the good fight. It means being there to listen. It means seeing what can happen when a woman believes she can do it and then finds out that SHE CAN!!! Women are incredible. We were created to do this. And we can do it.

It means supporting those that for whatever reason have a traumatic birth and are disappointed. It means meeting them where they are and being there to listen and understand. It means listening to those c-section moms who didn't want a c-section trying to process what happened to them. (Whether medically necessary or not.) It means understanding that a healthy baby is not ALL that matters. A healthy baby is a very important piece of the puzzle, yes. But the mom matters too. Her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being matter tremendously. We are there to listen. To help her process. To let her tell her story as many times as she needs. And to provide everything we can to aid in the healing process.

It means shedding so many tears. Tears of sadness and pain. Tears of unbelievable triumph and joy. Tears for those who don't get it or who have to learn the hard way. Tears for those who do not care and for those moms who will never even realize what they are missing. Tears for all the many unnecessary c-sections. Tears for the necessary c-sections that are still traumatic or difficult. Tears for birth/maternity care in America and how incredibly messed up it is right now. Tears for the moms and babies who are being harmed in the meantime while we try to fix this mess. Tears for the moms who fight long and hard and ultimately triumph and hold their baby for the first time with a huge "I can't believe I DID IT!" grin on their faces. That right there makes all the tears and battle scars worth it. There's a very good reason I do this, and I will keep on doing it.