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Sunday, October 26, 2008


This morning I started going through my dresser drawers to switch out summer clothes for those of the warmer variety. (Yes, it gets cold in California....okay, relatively speaking.) In my top drawer an old envelope caught my eye, peeking out as it was from under my socks, and I pulled it out to read (in my deceased ex's writing) "Joey's first tooth, 2/16/90." To the day, 16 years after he lost his first tooth he lost his life. Damn. This is what 'they' refer to as being blindsided I think. Was it a sign? I don't think so, but it's a really strange coincidence. It also speaks to my housekeeping skills, or lack thereof, that I haven't run across this before in the last 2 years, 8 months and 9 days.

New Mantra: "I am a spiritual being having a human experience"

Friday, October 24, 2008

'Tis almost the Season

This time of year my SO travels, a lot. The past couple of years were rough for me while he was away, punctuated with melt downs and stress eating ad naseum. This year, as it used to be, I am once again looking forward to my quiet time alone. Hopefully I will try some yoga, take lots of walks with our little dog Kaylee, and make healthy meals. But the fear of pain has receded, and when the moments of grief come I will be able to feel them knowing I will survive. I wrote something this morning that probably prompted this entry, I wrote "face it, then erase it." And I didn't mean to make the feeling disappear once I had faced them, but rather to overwhelm them with positive thinking and plans for my future.

To catch up before I continue on, everything is done except the whole clearing off the desk business. The yard is getting green, and I even have some Mums flowering despite the whole dehydration ritual I put them through. The baby shower was a success and I won my division at the archery tournament. I had a great visit with my friends in Texas, and was even inspired to write a simple children's story based on the 3 yr old twins' experience of hurricane Ike. I think I will keep writing bed time stories and see where that takes me.

Now I'm looking at the space of time between yesterday and Thanksgiving and have decided to go back to basics and follow the six week eating plan Dr. Fuhrman suggests for losing weight. I am healthier mentally, have been leaning into nutrition for about a year, and feel ready to make a positive move ... downwards! In May I started posting my food journals and getting great support at, and finally it just feels like I am poised for success. 7#'s down and 50 or so to go. I have some physical support from my Orenda Balance Spray, and start each day with a shot of their Oki superfood drink. Using this has really helped move me off the couch, and I am going more than ever, which feels great. I've been walking more, the knee I sprained a year ago last March while learning to surf is noticeably better, and I don't miss my bad moods. Anyway, back to these next six weeks, I'm looking forward to eating healthy, and exercising; the idea is that I will be better equipped to face the holiday season. I accept that it will still be hard, but I know too there will be moments of joy and beauty, friendship and family, and best of all a new baby. My DD is due the beginning of November, and I am very excited about that.

So this post is an affirmation of looking forward, of taking care of myself, and being in control of my actions for the next six weeks. ...God I'm pathetic, but hey, whatever it takes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stuff piling up

All of a sudden I have unfinished business everywhere. I haven't updated my business accounting sheet, opened mail, cleaned off my desk, mowed the back yard, watered, put away clean clothes, cleaned the carpet. I've been focusing all my energy on everything else; a trip to Illinois to family, a visit to friends in Texas, archery tournaments, my DD's upcoming baby shower and all the items I agreed to do for it. My back doesn't have enough oomph to do it all, which pisses me off because I think my mind is now ready. Big breath....okay, I can live with this until Monday, the damage is already done, and I will make next week about catching up my own sh*t. Because I am not happy when surrounded by clutter and dead plants, I am not happy looking out back and seeing dead grass. TAKING A U TURN. Starting over here. I'm looking forward to being surrounded by gleaming wood, and clean carpets. I can hardly wait to look out back and see my yard, trimmed and green, with feeders full of sunflower seeds and peanuts for the blue jays and squirrels. In the meantime, today I am making the pink fondant for the cupcake decorations. I have shopped for the chips and avocados to make guacamole, and have a surprise craft project to work on this afternoon for the baby shower that my DD will just love. Tomorrow after work I will go pick up the travel pkg at Babies R us, and get that wrapped. The cupcakes are ordered for Friday morning and that day is dedicated to rolling out & cutting the fondant. That leaves Thursday to wrap up the craft project and make the guacamole (reminder to self, lots of lime.) Saturday is the Shower, Sunday is a day of rest, and Monday I can start to work on my honey do list. (Yes, I am the Honey.) Okay, panic gone. Time to go make fondant.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Entries from 8/18/07 to 9/22/08: W8Book

My subscription to W8Book will expire soon, and I didn't want to lose the journal entries I had made so I decided to copy them here. These are the entries that chronicle my move away from processed foods and leaning into nutrition. At the bottom is a brief summary of my life looked at from a weight perspective, and the entries are in order, the oldest waaay at the bottom :)

9/22/08: Please make sure you are registered to vote, and please research the choices. Seeing the short film I posted a link to above just reinforces my decision to vote for Obama.

9/6/08: I've posted a link to my food log at PEERtrainer, come visit! After years of searching and reading and listening to advice I think I finally have a way to eat the rest of my life.
90% nutrition
10% treats ;)

8/24/08: Wow, almost a month since I posted. I am so far removed from NS and the group here now, eating for nutrition instead of counting calories. I think my NS site was deleted for inactivity; I couldn't get in to check on anyone. So as sad as it is, I guess I am gone from here. It was a great place for me to find support through a difficult time, and I am thankful for that, and to Haroldo for providing the forum. There are so many great people here, and I feel blessed to have met so many who made me laugh and cry and feel full of hope & love & light. You can find me at or get contact info at Wishing you all an enlightened path towards nutrition. ♥ I've posted a chart up above showing how easy it is to get enough protein from plants. It's still high compared to the recommendation from the World Health Organization (5%) but I am getting there. Look how low the sodium is from cutting out processed foods! My fat is still a little high, but it's all healthy fat from nuts, seeds & avocado - no oil! I want to get it down to 20%. I'm down 7 #'s and have lost an inch from my waist in the last three months since joining PEERtrainer.

It's a cool Saturday morning, the squirrels are foraging for food in the yard and the dog is barking at the cat. I so depend on the animals for entertainment! The opening ceremonies of the Olympics were beautiful and I'm looking forward to the archery today online. Amazing the coverage there will be this year, I need to find something to do with my hands so I don't snack! My little Kaylee gets her stitches out Monday and boy is she ready - running everywhere and jumping and rolling like the puppy she is. We've been walking to the pond and back, it's about 3/4 mile round trip and she does better than I do! I want to work up to a two mile walk twice a week by Autumn to supplement my bike riding, and once I do that I will start on the yoga and pilates to get into a routine for winter. Keeping my head up and planning for success....fight, fight, fight

I made my riding goal, going 83 miles in 30 days. I only rode about 18 of those days so I know I can do better. Haven't weighed lately but my clothes are loose so that's good. It's been a challenging 3 weeks taking care of the puppy, I haden't realized how much more active I had become until I was stuck on the couch again. She is finally allowed restricted activity, working our way back to full run of the house & yard in two weeks. The Dr. is impressed with her recovery so I gave her my wellness products info, maybe I'll at least get a new customer out of it!

Time is running out to meet my riding goal, but I can't seem to get out on the bike. I think I must force myself tonight - it's not that hot and the SO is home to watch the puppy. Home made spanish rice with bok choy, peppers & onions is on the menu tonight, plus a big salad. I love rice and lettuce together - so yummy.

7/14/08: Less than half a mile to my goal, I can't remember the last time I set a goal and didn't quit for one reason or another. It feels good knowing I will make this one. Still 205.5 this morning, but at least I haven't gained what I lost in the last couple of weeks. These are stressful days watching Kaylee, plus things are still unsettled on the domestic front; I will just do the best I can each moment, it's all any of us can do.

7/11/08: Eleven days left to finish up 80 miles ridden in 30 days. I only have about 20 left to go so I think this time I'm going to make it. Domestic struggles are adding stress; I am so tired of everyday being a struggle to get through - if it's not one thing it's another. I guess it's like that for a lot of us, but somehow that doesn't really help sometimes! Okay, chin up and on to a good weekend.

Down a pound and a half this week, yay! Am I really heading for Onderland this time? My early morning bike rides are keeping me on an better emotional keel too, and I was able to say NO when asked out for dinner tonight; I did not want to sit in front of a basket of chips and salsa!

7/5/08: So they couldn't splint Kaylee's leg and we have been watching her 24/7 to make sure the bones don't shift. She is either in her crate, in our arms, or next to one of us on the couch. I am making time to get my bike ride in each day, but give up too often on the food. This is very stressful, I can hardly wait for her next appt. on Thursday. Hopefully they will increase her exercise time; she is bored and fretting and wondering why we are restraining her. I haven't journaled all week, have made some crappy food decisions, and hope to do better over the weekend now that the pizza is gone.

6/30/08: Down just over 3#'s last week even with the pizza yesterday; I'm just 1.6#'s away from my all time low since starting this journey in August of 06! Here is my summary chart from the week. I still need to work on getting my protein and fat %'s down a little more, but I am happy with my progress there. Kaylee update: she has a small fracture in her leg and I'm taking her to the vet this morning for splinting. Poor baby :(

6/29/08: A stressful day with the dog, but managed to keep calories within range, if not content.

6/28/08: Thank heavens, one more day and then I can sent my week of food journals to my sister for review, I wonder what she will think of them. Today was a little light on veggies, I don't normally have oatmeal, a tortilla and bread all in the same day. But I was able to stick to reasonable calories and I'm happy with my percentages of protein, fat and carbs for the day. Plus when I figure in my six mile bike ride and arrows shot (60) I'm definitely in losing mode least I had better be! I do feel lighter than I did last weekend, and I am trying really hard to not let that influence my eating patterns. I did realize this week that I need to cut back on my beans, I hadn't realized how much protein I was adding to my day by eating 1/2C servings. I only used 1/4C at lunch today and it was fine. I am looking forward to some Not Tuna Salad (sub garbanzo beans) tomorrow on the sourdough bread I bought today. My SO is home so hopefully that will keep me in check and he will help me by eating his half of the loaf ;) And I think we are going shooting, so that will burn some extra calories to compensate for the splurge. Balance, balance, balance....

6/27/08: Two more days of tracking to do. It has been helpful to see the quality of food I'm eating and how far I have come in the past year and a half, and it's interesting that while my fat was way too high today, I was still below the 30% our government recommends....for what that's worth. ** My SO has been tuning my bow, and I am shooting better which is great motivation to keep practicing. ** Move more, eat less junk...that's still the plan. I'm going to make strawberry soycream for dessert one day this weekend; it's fun to be able to plan around a healthy treat that is sweet and yummy.

6/26/08: Rode five miles this morning, made good choices at lunch when meeting friends at Chilis, and enjoyed some peach sherbet I made. Then I encountered some stress and began eating. At least it was real food and not junk! And at least I exercised today. I think part of the problem was that I was too good at lunch and should have come home and eaten a salad so I had more calories earlier in the day. I ate a whole days worth of calories between 4 and 9:30, ugh.

6/25/08: Another smoky day, yuck. At least we are only dealing with the smoke here and not the fire; anyway, another day without exercising and my mood reflects the loss - I miss my exercise, who woulda thought? I just noticed a recipe for Curried Carrot Soup on the back of my soy milk, sounds yummy, I think I'll try that this weekend. Here's my food from today.

6/24/08: There was too much smoke in the air to take a bike ride today, hopefully it wll blow through quickly. Another good food day, it would have been better but I threw in half an ounce of pepits into my dinner salad. I don't regret it, yummy and a healthy fat and more important than strict percentages for the day. It was my sandwich for lunch that threw things off anyway - but I do splurge on grocery shopping days for some reason. I think allowing myself one special thing at the store helps keep me from all the other temptations.

6/23/08: It was a good day, I feel I made good choices, there was lots of food, and I even have Dessert left to eat - probably two cups of Mango Sherbert or Cream or whatever that I made earlier - I'm very excited! I rode over five miles this morning and practiced my archery this afternoon too. And what a relief having a day without the AC on. Here is my food journal for the day, one down six to go! I'll make the picture a little smaller tomorrow so it's easier to read. Unlike when I did this tracking before, this time I am recording without trying too hard conform to what I think the numbers should be; I guess I should have taken out the goal amounts at the top - oh well. Mostly this is just for curiousity's sake, not to count calories except to be able to tell my sister, and to help me make better decisions for the week. Hope you had a healthy day too!

6/22/08: What a crazy day...too many beans and a small sundae. My goal is for my protein to be at 10% and my fat at 20%, and even though my calories were high, I was active and feel it was a maintenance day. Tomorrow will be better! I am already consumed with the spreadsheet and it's only been one day; thank heavens I'm only doing this tracking for a week. Starting tomorrow I'll post each morning for the day before, I'm calling yesterday practice!


6/21/08: There have been so many changes in the way I think about food, what takes up space in the fridge, when I eat and how I plan for nutrition. One of the changes was not logging my calories. I had created a spreadsheet for tracking Calories, Protein, Fat, Carbs, Fiber and Sodium....the info I got when visiting when checking on food stats. I knew I was obsessive about the tracking, but what I finally had to face was that it wasn't helping me to lose weight. Instead I started trying to just eat as healthy as I could, following guidelines from Dr.'s Fuhrman and McDougall, and buying less and less processed foods as I started eating to fuel my body instead of just filling my stomach. It was great to see how much more I could eat when I wasn't consuming so many empty calories. I was able to stop supplementing my food with fiber because I was getting enough naturally through the plants I was eating. I also stopped drinking so much water, again because I was getting more through my food. I still drink about 32oz of water a day, another 4-8 oz of juice, and feel totally hydrated. No dry skin or feeling thirsty like I use to do, also no running to go pee every hour...I don't miss that! Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to say is that while visiting my sister she said several times..."I just know that whenever I've had to lose weight I was only able to do it by cutting my calories." I guess it finally sunk in, because I now want to know what I am eating in a typical day, or week. So I have resurrected the spreadsheet, and will track for a week my calories. Some of it will be approximations as I figure out, for instance, how many cups are in 2oz of kale leaves. I had been having fruit only for breakfast, but switched to smoothies recently. After logging this morning's smoothie I might go back to fruit! Admittedly, this was a richer mix than I normally make, but still!

Kale, Blackberries, banana, flax meal, raisins, cranberry juice, Limeade
718.9 15.3 5.6 163.8 20.7 163.6

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the day plays out; I now realize I had all 4 fruit servings in this behemoth of a drink, normally it's only 2! I hope I can do this without changing the way I've been eating so it's a reflection instead of a projection of what I think it should be.

6/20/08: Had a nice visit down south, loved walking on the beach with my sister and making healthy meals together, and glad to be home. It's so hot I've been up early the last two mornings getting in my bike rides and walking Kaylee before the heat sets in. I'll try to keep doing that over the weekend. We splurged on peanut butter cup sundaes from BR last night, ice cream seems to be the last irresistable temptation when one of us has had a rough day..we aren't very good at supporting each other in that respect. The sad part is that a friend gave me her ice cream maker and it's still sitting in my car; I could be making much healthier frozen desserts if I would just apply a little effort! Maybe that should be my goal this weekend while my honey is out of town. Have a good weekend, try for the healthy choices!

6/12/08: Court: verdict: Guilty. One down, one to go, probably in about six weeks. Road Trip: leaving Saturday for Ventura to walk on the beach with my sister and our dogs. Today I slipped up and stopped to get Cajun fries on the way home. That pretty much cancels out my morning bike ride...oh well. It's been awhile, I can't beat myself up too badly. I had a healthy breakfast and dinner, that counts for something. Pretty soon I will stop journaling here as I get more involved with PEERtrainer, but I'm not ready to say goodbye here yet.

6/11/08: Archery: came home with 2 1st place medals (see pic.) Court: waiting for the verdict. Road Trip: Jimmy Deans has a veggie burrito, nobody is using tomatoes, and if you are by a Firestone Grill they make awesome salads. Rode 4 miles today and am catching up on laundry. There are some demanding jays keeping me busy doling out peanuts and I finally saw a baby today...or a youngling I guess since he's out of the nest and flying. Totally forgot about my affirmation so am starting over today. "I am strong and thin." 20 days to go.

6/5/08: Shot 30 arrows, the day started out good and then crashed. The only things healthy today were the blueberries on my whole grain waffles this morning and the eggplant soup a friend shared (yummy.) I'm not ready for my trip, there is laundry to do, and obviously I am a bit moody. Guess I had better do my affirmation. 14 days left, I'm 2/3 done.

6/4/08: Rode my bike 3.1 miles, did some shooting , and made a wonderful red lentil stoup in the crockpot earlier today. Also, I found that walnuts and watercress go together very well in a salad with my vegan 1000 island dressing. Finally a healthier food day because we decided to stay home. I did my positive affirmation during my bike ride; "I am strong and Thin".15 days to go.

6/3/08: My positive affirmation really helped this morning, and it was interesting to feel myself feeling stronger as I drove towards another day at court. As it turns out we were only in session half a day so we were home by Noon and I had healthy leftovers for lunch. I'm just back from riding 3.8 miles and about to go out and shoot some arrows; 3 more days of training until the State Senior Olympic Games. "I am strong and Thin". 16 days to go.

6/2/08: I can't write anything about court except it seems it will last all week and into Monday instead of being 2-3 days like we originally thought. The good news is that there is a sandwich shoppe with veggie burgers & veggie salads just down from the courthouse by a lake. On the way home we stopped at a buffet and I had a custom all veggie stir fry...of course he poured oil on the grill before adding the veggies, but that was was all the little desserts that got me at the end of the meal ;) I'm going to keep eating the best I can. And it was nice to arrive home to mystery flowers at the front door. BTW...the kids found out yesterday the baby will be a girl! So good news too. Gotta run. I am strong and thin!!! 17 days to go.

6/1/2008: June is here, tomorrow the trial begins, and so far my eating is mostly under control. Thanks to a good friend I can now look forward to garden tomatoes as well as canteloupe this summer, yay! I'm looking forward to stuffing them with garbanzo bean salad and making fresh salsa. ** The house smells spicy as the spanish rice finishes cooking, and I am just back from my bike ride, 3.4 miles. That seems to be my average 'just go out and do it' length for maintenance. Now I just need to finish up my shooting for the day and make a quick trip to the store for enchilada sauce and my chores will be done except for throwing together a casserole. Thank heavens for my ipod to keep my ears full of a story and not my thoughts. Oh, and thanks to MRS for the soycream that's in the fridge ♥ I am strong and thin! 18 days to go.

5/31/08: The slaw and fruit salad I took to today's bbq were healthy and scrumptious, and it was nice to see friends I hadn't visited in many, maybe 15, years. It was also nice that they commented on how I was aging the best of all of us, and that they noticed how healthy I appeared. So it looks like the anti aging and wellness products I use combined with better nutrition are paying off! I haven't ridden my bike or shot my bow in a couple of days, but I was good all last week so that is fine even though I didn't make my goal again. The point is I was active most days, and off the couch.** My training is going well and I feel prepared for the archery qualification round I am going to in June; this is my first time competing in many years and I am excited about going.

** Little Kaylee continutes to grow; she never walks anywhere - she struts or runs with apparently boundless energy until it is time to snuggle and rest; she is a joy.** Back to housework and exercise tomorrow, and there is even some chocolate cherry soycream heading my way - it will be a good day. And warmer I hope. Oh, and this was my 2nd day of "I am strong and Thin." 19 days to go!

5/30/08: A lot of us have been there, you need something to wear and can't find something nice in your extra large size, and the reflection in the dressing room mirror certainly couldn't be yours. You come away sad and defeated and figuring out the logistics to the nearest comfort food. What an oxymoron of a situation. I did find what I was looking for, we have to wear certain things at the upcoming archery shoot, so that was a relief, but I really wanted to be down a size by now. I drove home counting to 21 as I repeated "I am strong and thin" over and over. I made it home, threw a smoothie together for lunch, and it was so beautiful I had to post the picture. I use blueberries so often I wasn't expecting the bright green I would get using mango. And there are a couple of mistypes in there, it should be 2T of flax meal instead of seed, and it should read baby spinach, not choped kale, but I am too lazy to go back and change it - that's what I get for copying over a prior recipe. I had to take my glass outside for the picture so you could see the colour to best advantage. And yes, it's very yummy, the mango is strong enough to just overpower the spinach. I am proud of making it home, and glad I took the time this morning to prepare the base of my soup for dinner so it's an easy fix and I won't be tempted away from plan then either. I may not be making great headway on my size, but I feel so much healthier, my skin is better, and most importantly my brain is working better and my emotions under better control. I'm so glad my searching for weight loss brought better nutrition into my life - it's changing everything for the better, and I know my weightloss will follow soon as the stress in my life eases up. Thanks MRS ♥ Now, I'm off to enjoy this luscious lunch, then take care of my daily riding and shooting. Happy Friday everyone.

5/28/08: I shot my first '30' yesterday while practicing - 3 arrows in the center - so I am feeling more positive about the upcoming competition. We are going to the archery range to practice this morning and I have just finished making a blended salad to take in a cooler. I will drink this on the way home while my SO munches on fast food. 1/4# baby spinach (a large bowl of leaves) 1/2C frozen blueberries, 1/2C fresh strawberries, 2T flax meal, 1 date and 1C pomegranate\blueberry 100% juice. I am using an old glass dressing bottle to transport it, not glamourous but functional, and if I am still hungry when I get home I have salad fixings I can throw together quickly with some beans.** Dinner will be using up the zucchini I have in the fridge, sauteed with onions and whatever other veggies are in there. Then there are fresh cherries for dessert. Speaking of cherries, I picked up some bars for my SO to take hiking this weekend, and wouldn't you know it, the ones that sounded the most decadent had the best nutritional panel! The Kashi dark chocolate & cherry bars had less than 20% of calories from fat and 4g of fiber, while the healthier looking bars had between 3o & 50% of calories from fat. Remember to read labels! I might have to sneak a bar out of the package to keep at home for dessert one night. He will be gone 3 days & nights - may the powers that be watch over my food intake while he is gone! Hopefully my PEERtrainer posting will help keep me on track.

5/27/08: I have been eating well and riding my bike, but I also had to face the realization that while journaling here is good for me, I need to find another source of support. Everyone is so busy, and that is fine, I can hardly wait until I am too busy to be here every day! I did some searching online and found where you can create or join small groups of 4; it's kind of neat, there is a place to journal your food, thoughts and exercise, post your goals, and exchange comments within your group to support each other. So there are lots of small focused groups instead of one large random one. There is also the utility to blog publicly, and best of all everyone is just trying to lose or maintain weight, not just following NS, so I don't feel so much like a duck out of water. I have joined a couple of groups, and if I don't connect with the people there I can just withdraw from the group and keep looking until I find a niche or two. I also began my own group yesterday called 'Plants 4 Me...Mostly!' and already had one person join me. It's different, but I really like the format and hopefully I will connect with others who have decided to eat for nutrition. They also have larger groups called Teams where it looks like people with like minded goals or diets can flock together for challenges and support in a more social atmosphere. Also, I can create a group and send out invitations to join (it's free)....and I will do that as soon as I feel comfortable with the format! My accomplishments this weekend were watching the Indy 500 without snacks, and seeing the new Indy movie without butter on my popcorn ;) I still haven't weighed myself, my clothes haven't changed, but I feel better, and tonight I am supposed to start walking in the evenings with an old friend - hopefully my knee will hold up! Also, I have been training with my bow over the weekend, and the 1st weekend of june we head south to qualify for the senior games that will be in SF in 09. Did I already mention that in another post? I guess I am just excited to be making progress. For breakfast today I am smashing up some fresh mango with a T of flax meal and spreading it on raisin toast, mmmmm. Have a good week everyone

5/24/08: Yesterday was about resting and eating. The let down from all the activity leading up to company coming and then the exhaustion of entertaining for a few days. But in eating all my healthy leftovers I discovered a very satisfying comfort food. Spanish rice made with brown rice, mixed with FF jalapeno refried beans, and topped with Tofuti sour cream mixed with hot sauce. Creamy, spicy, filling and oh so good! So while yes, I overate, I never felt totally stuffed or miserable and it was all nutritious food.** It's definitely time to focus more on the meditation and finding a quiet 'sweet spot' to calm the nerves without food.** Last weekend it was over 100, this morning it is sprinkling; normal has disappeared. It is smokey outside too, so the winds must be coming from the south where the fires by Santa Cruz are blazing away; I hope they are getting some of this rain. Speaking of the weather, I think some soup is in order today, and I also think that since i'ts chilly I'll use the oven to make some cornbread. Note: adding corn to cornbread adds moisture and sweetness, eliminating the need for butter. Oh, wait, it's a movie day and I'll be eating popcorn later, so no cornbread for me today! Balance, balance, balance.....and I'd better do a workout tape too since a bike ride it out. Time for tennis shoes, have a good day! ps the 1000 island dressing is good, but not like 1000 island - it's very dilly and when mixed in a salad it's very light and fresh and good despite the dark colour.

Here is Kaylee with her cousin Falco, she is smaller than his head!


5/23/08: It was really nice having family in the house for a few days who appreciated my efforts at healthy meals. They claimed to love the dinner's of Shepard's Pie & Enchilada Casserole, and the light breakfast of Ezekial Raisin Bread, Cashew Butter and fruit salad one morning and the Hominy\kale stir fry the other. This morning they are gone and I made myself Oat Bran pancakes with blueberries and flax and real maple syrup; they were so wonderful I wish I had made them for my cousins, oh well, another time.** I'm wishing healthy choices and moderate splurges for my friends over the coming long weekend. Lets stay busy and burn more calories than we eat!

5/18/08: Thank heavens it will be cooler today. My early bike ride was nice, and I stopped along the way to watch a Night Heron catching his breakfast (frog?) down by the waterway. This morning is about finishing up the housework, and this afternoon I am picking up the ingredients to make a1000 Island salad dressing I've been meaning to try. Once it is perfected I see a healthy alternative to a Big Mac in my future; a garden burger, shredded romaine, pickles and a whold grain bun. Yum.** The animals were being cute this morning, and while I missed the shot where Kaylee was up on the window sill with Velcro, I did catch them touching noses. HAGD ♥


5/16/08: I'm trying to keep busy getting the house ready for company and I'm trying to eat super healthy for a few days in a row. I tried this new slaw recipe today and I'm very happy with it. The veggies were not just crunchy, but when chewed became very juicy and combined with the sweetness of the raisins made a dressing in my mouth with each bite! I had anticipated having to add a dressing so this was a nice surprise. I did add 1/2oz of pepitas (nuts) and a teeny drizzle of honey.

1/2C each Shredded raw cabbage, beets & carrots

1C Shredded apple

1/4C Raisins

Toss together and serve

Breakfast was an orange, blueberry, strawberry smoothie with some chopped kale and my T of flax meal. Lunch was a blended salad of baby spinach, orange and lemon juice. I learned that if I add the fruit first then I can add more greens (in this case spinach) as it's blending to get up to a full 8oz serving. I did add 1/2C V-Fusion orange juice (it has carrot juice in it) to get to the right consistency. Tonight's dinner is a spinach salad with blackberries and nuts, a stoup of kale, bok choy, broccoli rab etc, and dessert is a red pepper stuffed with apple, cinnamon and nutmeg. I am looking forward to that, I have it on good authority that it will be yummy ;)

It's so hot I'm having to break up my yard work with breaks inside where the air conditioner is keeping it a cool 78, but everything is getting done and my dirt bed is ready to accept my cantelope seeds plus some sweet peas to climb the fence. So far it's been a productive day, thank goodness!

5/15/08: We took over 80#'s of aluminum cans to recycle yesterday, no wonder I was pissed about how much room they were taking up. The $165 is going into the mad money box. I very rarely drink soda but my SO is addicted to caffeinne free diet pepsi and his favorite place to leave his empty cans is on the kitchen counter; can you tell it's a pet peeve? It justifies my half of the $$! I made good progress in the back yesterday, I even turned the pile of bricks into a planter for the cantelope. I just need to pick up some dirt today and can get the seeds in this evening when the planter is in the shade: it's going to be triple digits here today and tomorrow. I've already had my bike ride, cleaned off the yearly accumulation of dust from one of the fans and set it running in the house, and I think I will get a harcut on the way to work this morning. It's HOT and I want my hair off my neck! ** Lunch yesterday was a blueberry, flax, kale smoothie, and dinner was a strawberry, soy milk smoothie with a splash each of molasses and vanilla. Dessert was brussels sprouts; a wierd day but I think I made up the calories I blew at breakfast. This morning breakfast was a ripe mango, not interesting in and of itself, but oh, the aftermath. Kaylee was fascinated by the flossing pick I was using to drag the errant strings of mango from between my teeth. She was determined to get in my mouth and see what all the commotion was about; jumping on my chest and poking her long nose against my face - she is too funny and continues to be a joy.** Time to fill up water bottles and get busy, HAGD ♥

5/14/08: This morning I shaved 4 minutes off my time while increasing the ride a tenth of a mile. Yay me! Does anyone have a Malibu Pilates chair? I got sucked into an infomercial this morning as was intrigued and would love some feed back.** Breakfast this morning was a fast food ham sandwich so I have lots of calories to burn off today; I'm still not sure how it happened, but there it is. I seem to be doing more confessing than bragging lately, My Bad! I have GOT to get to the store today! Ugh.** Cleaning off the back patio, recycling cans, and doing the back windows are on today's chore list, that should burn some calories ;)

5/13/08: I didn't get out for my bike ride untill 2 this afternoon, it's good I pass several water fountains on my ride for refills - it's hot! My friend tells me it will be 105 by Friday, Yikes! 85 today, 92 tomorrow and 101 Thursday. And we didn't have April showers for May flowers this year so they are already talking water conservation. I will try to keep my rides early am, I know when it's hot I flake on evening rides despite good intentions.** We are going to the movies tonight and I already had popcorn on Sunday...wait, this is a new week, right? I will try to stick with water and a pack of gum, it will probably depend on how cold the theatre is and how early we get there. That's an idea, we could plan to show up late on purpose. ** My salads the past couple of days have been so delicious, adding poblano peppers to the ceasar dressing recipe is so good, spicy and fresh, and yesterday I added a small handful of raisins and pepitas to my staple blend of radish, sunchoke & green onion. Crunch, sweet & spicy..mmm. And just so you know it's not always about health over here, my SO and I split a loaf of Beckman's French White bread over the past several days. Thank heavens the bread and peanut butter are both gone; maybe I can control myself for a few days now. I have noticed that I feel heavy and grumpy on mornings I eat other than fruit for breakfast. Eating just fruit I tend to get more done, feel better, and be in a better mood. So why don't I remember that when it's time to break my fast every day??? Because I haven't been to the store to stock up on fruit; laziness is to blame (remember, it's not the child who is bad, but the behavior.) I guess I could have used frozen berries to make a smoothie, but I like my quiet in the mornings and the blender is soooo loud....I am so full of excuses it's amazing I have any room at all left for food! But I am determined to either decline dinner out or have a salad where ever we end up. Determined. Really. I swear....later: the salad turned into a bowl of brussells sprouts, nuked with a little vegetable broth and low sodium soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and a tiny drizzle of honey; filling and yummy.

5/12/08: I feel pretty good about my 30 days of biking; riding 2 out of every 3 days and averaging over 3 miles per ride this was much better than vegging on the couch. I've strained my right achilles tendon but nothing serious, I just need to be careful and wait a while before planning any longer rides - my Mother insists I keep injuring myself because I won't accept I am getting old and that I need to stop doing so much. I guess she hasn't heard that 50 is the new 30! ** I had a PB&J sandwich this morning, and shared a small peach cobbler with praline ice cream on it for dessert last night. That being said I am dressed and ready for a bike ride, have already taken Kaylee for her walk and done the morning house chores, and I have yard work planned for this afternoon after a big salad for lunch. I have a stir fry planned for dinner to use up the last lonely zuchinni in the fridge and I think spicy curry flavors will be the ticket tonight. What do you have planned?? ** update: I've posted a new goal, 50 miles in 21 days, nothing major, I'm not trying to improve or break any records, it's just a way to keep me consistent and out on the bike over the next three weeks. Also, trying to focus on exercise instead of, like THAT's going to happen! Have a good day, move more & eat more veggies & fruit ♥


5/10/08: My exercise yesterday was pruning one of the privet trees in the back yard and cleaning out the garage gutter, so fun. Today I took a long bike ride after an early lunch - a California Garden Burger on a brown rice cake topped with a little catsup and mustard. (I used to love corn dogs at the fair just for the catsup and mustard.) I'll have a blended salad later when I come in from working in the yard. My SO is off at an archery tournament so it's just me again, I swear he just boards here. Okay, I'm off to do chores. I hope all you Mothers have a good day tomorrow, I think we're going for a bike ride or maybe to try out the new Greek restaurant that opened nearby. In any case, Happy Mother's Day on Sunday

5/9/08: Yesterday I put on my tankini and lay in the sun for a bit; it felt good but my reflection in the glass sliding doors as I made my way back towards the house was a little scary! I intended to make it a juice day but ended up eating leftovers for dinner; a container of squash I had sauteed with sweet onions, the last of the black beans (more like veggetarian chili) and the last two blueberry pancakes for dessert. This morning for breakfast I had half of my $10 crenshaw melon, and while sweet and yummy my guilt took the edge off of my enjoyment; my goal this summer is to be a locavore (eating local foods) and stay away from the foods that have such a huge environmental footprint. I have a hothouse cucumber to finish up in my lunch salad today, and I think Garbanzo bean taco salad for dinner tonight with diced fresh pablano pepper dressing to spice it up. I have found that the vegan ceasar dressing recipe is a great base for adding different flavours and changing things up. Then for dessert later, a fresh mango, another fruit with a large footprint. And do we even grow bananas locally? ** Plans today include taking Kaylee back to the dog park, a bike ride, and making a Honey Do List (I'm the honey) that needs to be completed by the end of the day on 5/19 before company arrives. Spring cleaning stuff; windows, cobwebs from the vaulted ceiling, etc, etc. AND GETTING THE CANTELOUPE PLANTED! Why can't I seem to get this done; I suspect it's the perfectionist in me, if I can't see it perfect in my mind first I can't start - a horrible disease. And it's time for the annual dance of replacing stacks of jeans and sweaters with tank tops and shorts, that should keep me busy for awhile this afternoon. I will try to stay busy busy busy today. Happy Friday

5/6/08: Breakfast this morning reminded me of something to share. One of my favorite breakfasts used to be a toasted bagel with PB, banana, honey and wheat germ sprinkled on top to stick to the honey. Well, that's a ton of calories but in keeping with the idea that we can make favorites healthier, this is how I can break my fast when I have a morning that I want somthing more substantial [after a dinner that included beer, for example ;)] First I use a healthier PB that lists as the ingredients: peanuts. I substitute an unsalted brown rice cake (again, simple ingredients: brown rice) for the bagel and instead of sprinkling wheat germ on the top I sprinkled ground flax seed on the PB. This adds a healthy fat while eliminating the wheat which I have an aversion to, and I use only a tiny drizzle of honey since nothing has to stick to it; it would be sweet enough with just the banana but the honey is the memory\comfort factor. (My grandfather used to have a bowl of wheaties with bananas, honey, and wheat germ on top for his breakfast.) The rice cake is crumbly, so a diced banana works better than slices and this cuts down on quantity and calories too. All in all a wonderful crunchy, rich, sweet breakfast that punches my ticket to a good morning. Having said that I had to go figure out some stats and came up with approximately 430 calories, 20g of fat, and 8g of fiber. So about a third of my daily caloric intake, that's good, and only 4.7% of calories from fat, that's excellent, and 8g of fiber, which is totally acceptable given how many raw veggies I will eat later today in my big salad lunch. So now I feel really good about my breakfast! ** It's cool out today, which is great because I was hot riding yesterday and was dreading shaving my legs so I could wear shorts for my ride today. I know, TMI! But shaving is something that stresses the motion problem in my back and I am trying really hard to let that heal so I am ready to shoot in June. In looking at my riding stats this morning I realized that to reach my goal I will have to ride an average of just over 3.5 miles each day for the next week; I think I can do this!

5/5/08: Cinco de Mayo! I am so looking forward to tostadas on the patio with lots of spicy guacamole and a cold beer.** I rode 5.3 miles today, and while 49:37 is still my longest time, today's ride only took 45:14 - I went a longer distance in a faster time, yay! I am working my way up to an hour, and today I had gone a full mile before I had to stand up on the peddles to relieve the pressure on my bum; it feels good to be making progress. At the pond I saw a duckling that looked too young to be alone, still all fuzzy, but he was alone in the pond, feasting on the lake grasses that grow up from the bottom to swirl just under the surface of the water. The geese were gone and I only saw one egret - I wonder where the heck everyone was? ** Kaylee and I share carrots! She is my 5th dog and I have never shared human food with my dogs before other than adding scraps to thier bowls on holidays or throwing them the occaisional rib bone. But one afternoon I was snacking on carrots and she sat quietly next to me tilting her head this way and that. Not really begging, just wondering what the heck I was doing. So I snapped off a tip and gave it to her. She took it and laid down next to me on the couch and crunched up the whole thing, getting every crumb. A couple of days later we did the same thing, and after a small argument with myself decided it would be okay to share my carrots with her. Well, yesterday I grabbed some carrots from the fridge while Kaylee was in my bedroom pestering the cats where they sleep on their cat tree by the window. I sat down on the couch, curled up with my book, and took the first bite."CRUNCH" Ba dum ba dum ba dum here came Kaylee charging down the hallway from the bedroom to the livingroom and made a flying leap towards the couch, first missing but the second try landed her in my lap and she was taking the carrot out of my mouth before I knew what was happening. Smart sassy little dog. I took the carrot away and snapped her off the tip, and when she asked politely I let her finish the bottoms too. How fun to have a friend to eat carrots the afternoon ♥

5/4/08: I went grocery shopping early today - I'm still reeling from spending $10 on a honeydew melon! I wanted to say nevermind, I don't want it...but I did want it. It might be the last one for awhile though. I stocked up on fresh cilantro, jalapeno, avocado and corn tortillas, having decided on tostadas for tomorrow. About a minute and a half in my microwave turns a corn tortilla into a crunchy base for a small tostada without adding any fat - the ones you can buy prefried at the store are about 90% of the calories from fat-not good. So I will make fresh guacamole with garlic, shallots, jalapenos and tomatoes and use my black beans and cabbage to make wonderful tostadas; I can hardly wait, I know they will be fresh and yummy. And I am guessing there will be beer ;) ** This morning I rode 3.9 miles, just an average ride, and the wind was the perfect temp to offset the warmth of my exertions. There have been two canadian geese hanging out at the closer of the ponds I often ride by, they are huge compared to the ducks and so majestic. I can't help but hope they stayed behind to nest, the rest of the gaggle having disappeared - there were often a couple of dozen geese by the farther pond but I haven't seen them since I began riding in April. I will take my camera as often as I remember in case I run across some goslings, wouldn't that be fun ** I think a quiet day is in order and plan to spend my time between catching up on the housework and taking a book out to read in the sun. Happy Sunday Oh yea, and the confession. I purchased one french roll and one slice of sharp cheddar from the deli and that was my brunch today. I did put on my riding pants and tennis shoes before eating, and went for my ride half an hour aftterwards to try and burn off the glucan. I will try for another ride later today just for good measure, or maybe a walk with Kaylee. I am striving for Balance!

5/2/08: Yesterday I cooked a bag of black beans for an hour, then threw them in the crock pot with all the odds and ends of veggies left in the fridge; half a parsnip, a crown of broccoli, a couple of sunchokes, a yellow pepper, a yellow onion. I tossed it all together with a large can of diced tomatoes and a small can of green chili sauce and let it cook for 8 hours. A cup for lunch today was very good, and I can see how the mixture will work well to make a mexican casserole, the base for bean soup, or spiced up cajun style to serve with brown rice. I can see a tostada in my near future, or maybe a burrito stuffed with the beans, lots of crisp cabbage, some juicy fresh tomato and hot sauce. A crockpot of beans is cheap, versitile, and goes a long way. This is my 2nd day at 100%, but I am already hearing Cinco de Mayo beers calling my name. We'll see. At least I already have the beans ready for a healthy festive meal on the 5th! ps I am slow recovering from having my eyes diallated this morning and don't think I'll make it out on the bike today, again...we'll see.

5/1/08: It's May Day and I am grateful for the roses, jasmine and snap dragons that bring the colour and smells of spring to my yard. Today my bike ride took me down an easment that I used to ride with my son on his way to school 20 years ago. It's a mile round trip and while a fun change of view, it was a very bumpy ride over asphalt that hasn't been maintained. Total ride today was 5.1 miles and it feels good to get in two days in a row for a change. ** Today I am starting ten days of Fuhrman to get back on track foodwise, it will be interesting to see if there is a difference from the last time I did this sans exercise; riding does increase my appetite, but it will be all about the veggies. Another beautiful day here...THIS is what my property taxes are all about ;)

4/30/08: I never made it out for a ride yesterday, but went 4.8 miles this afternoon, the weather is perfect for riding, just a touch of breeze and the sun isn't too hot. I had to force myself at every turn, working my way away from the house instead of turning home. Unfortunately all the effort will simply go towards offsetting the damage done by a tub of tapioca pudding. Nothing new here; my SO left this morning for what used to be my favorite archery shoot and as always food filled the gap between where I am and where I want to be. I've pulled out some green soup from the freezer and plan on a healthy dinner tonight; it seems that in writing that my binges don't last I was sabotoging myself. Typical, words become things and the universe doesn't see the difference between will and won't. Luckily I'm not weighing myself this week and will never know the damage done.

4/29/08: OK. After this update I am going to refrain from talking about the trial here - I should have expected that everything would be pushed out and now 5/19 is the new date AND I need to step away from my pity party. ** For dinner last night the vegan shepards pie was wonderful, my SIL gobbled up 2 huge bowls and said it tasted like it had meat in it...he is in the doghouse right now so it was mostly all about getting in my good graces but it was still nice to get what he considered to be a compliment. The downside is that there are not many leftovers :( But I did make notes and can duplicate the recipe, so next week there will be another pie. While at the store yesterday I stocked up on comfort food; garden burgers and sourdough bread, avocado, Amy's SoyCheeze Pizza, and Adams Peanut Butter (ingredients: peanuts.) This morning I had sourdough toast with a little PB, a small sliced banana and a teeny drizzle of honey. I was too lazy to grind flax seeds for the top, my bad, but I will grind a bunch today so it is ready to use another time. My goal was to let myself eat comfort food (i know, but it does work and it's not junkfood) during the next couple of stressful weeks, but I will try ever so hard to eat conciously and pay attention to hunger - that is the devil's bargain I made with myself while shopping. I also made blue cheese dressing last night. I used vegan mayo, subbed the sour cream with rice milk, and used a creamy blue cheese that was on sale. The dressing is thinner, so it spreads in the lettuce easier and I can use a smaller portion and still be satisfied with the wonderful tang of the blue cheese. I did look at store dressings but the ingredients were awful. ** The wretched wind is back so I will wait until it warms up for my ride today - I am more determined than ever to reach my 80 mile goal by 5/11, and should just go ahead and tack on another 20 miles and extend it a week - the riding really is helping reduce my stress level and as my bum gets used to being out riding it's getting easier to think about staying on the bike longer each day. A toast to progress today, maybe it is true that 'what you record gets done.' HAGD ps we had some vegan 'monster' cookies from the PW bakery for dessert last night that were WONDERFUL!

4/28/08: My 2#'s are gone this morning, a perfect example of why I shouldn't weigh myself, or maybe I ate more careful because I saw the gain? Who knows, they are gone and that is all that matters. ** As anyone knows who is challenging themselves to a new distance, one of the tricks is to go half way of the new goal away from where you have to come back to, whether you are walking, swimming, running, or in my case, riding; it takes away the choice of quitting unless you really don't care about getting back home. I did that this morning, riding out until I was over 2.5 miles so that I knew I would be able to achieve the 5 miles I told myself I needed to ride today. Yay me! If I had ridden up and down the court once it would have been 5.1 miles but my behind was really anxious to get off the bike. ** Today my son's homicide case is suppose to be sent out for trial, and if everything stays on course the trial could start as early as 5/12 if the jury selection isn't set back by the holiday. So I am going to try and stay busy and focus on other things. For instance, FOOD! This morning I watched Emeril make a chicken pot pie and so now I have a craving for gravy and dinner will be shepards pie - there is always a healthier alternative for a craving. (I've been watching the national body challenge series on discovery health and it reminds me not to totally eliminate the favorites, just replace fat with flavour.) I think I will look into a vegan 'chicken' gravy recipe to change things up a little bit - research is always a good distraction for me. ** If you ever had an inkling to send a little love and light my way, today would be a good day...

4/25/08: I finally weighed in this morning and I am up a couple of pounds. The fast food tacos and malted milk shake last night for dinner didn't help, but again, I felt so wretched afterwards I am back on track this morning. That is one big difference now that I eat for nutrition instead of counting calories; when I do binge it makes me feel so awful I immediately want to eat healthy and the lapse never stretches into another meal or another day or another week etc etc.** I was out before 8 this morning on my bike ride, unfortunately I ran into an old friend and during the course of our conversation became upset and headed home early (1.9 miles.) It is suppose to be warm today, but I will try to get back out for a second ride when it cools off this evening. On a positive note, the riding is reshaping my backside (I noticed this as I caught my reflection in the window at the back of the house while getting in the hot tub earlier when the air was still crisp) so I will pretend that the extra pounds are just fat switched for muscle in that region ;) ** I wish you could have been in the back yard with me this morning, the heavy scent of the jasmine wafting across the lawn to meet me as I laid peanuts out for the blue jays and refilled the squirrel feeder with sunflower seeds. The jays have been taking baths this year, something I haven't seen them do before in the 25 years I've been living here, and they are so wonderful to watch; first splashing away happily in their bath and then preening on the fence in the sun to dry before launching themselves out and over the neighbors yard to disappear. I have seen them 'on watch' in the tree out front so I am hoping there is a nest and we will see babies this year (I am tempted to order a banding kit just in case.) ** Time to go play with the puppy...HAGWE everyone

4/23/08: I rode 3.7 miles today, and I feel pretty good about it considering how close I came to not going at all; damn this wind! ** I spent the morning cleaning out the fridge and making soup (brussels sprouts, leek, onion, pablano, sunchokes, a large bok choy and a cup of split red lentils.) I am trying the Magic brand of salt free all purpose seasoning and I like it, even though the 2nd ingredient is brown sugar I suppose that a little sugar is better than a lot of sodium. I also added a 15oz can of chicken stock just to get it out of the pantry, and I really didn't notice any benefit of flavour compared to my usual vegetarian soups. As for the soup, it's okay, but needs some tweaking; maybe some grated ginger....I have several containers to play around with getting the taste right as I eat it over the next several days - it's just sort of bland. ** I have committed to going to Van Nuys in June to shoot a qualifier for the senior archery games in '09; we'll be shooting at Stanford University and it's just too close to not participate. The strange part is shooting as a senior...Yikes! Hopefully this will give me the motivation to start training. In any case I need to do some practicing to make sure I qualify the 1st weekend in June, so more exercise...that's a good thing, right???

4/22/08: I remembered late yesterday that my DD was coming to dinner and that smells still bother her, so I nixed the brussels sprouts menu. After browsing through the store for inspiration I came home with a corn bread mix (Marie Calendars, no HFCS or hydrogenated fat) to make to go with the beans. I added a can of corn to the mix - this makes it juicy so you don't miss the butter, plus adding some fiber so it's a win win. And I sent home half the leftovers with her, any kind of bread continues to be a red light food for me! But it was delicious with the beans. My bike ride was later than usual, and it was windy, so even though I only went a couple of miles I fought the whole way which kept my breathing hard, trading endurance for aerobics; it's good to change it up. (I can rationalize anything...I guess most of us can or we wouldn't be here!) ** I did get the garden section of the yard cleaned up and the overhanging branches of the privet tree pruned back to let more sun in over the garden patch; maybe I really will get the cantelope planted this week. The good news this morning is not only that I am already up, clean and dressed, but that I have on jeans I haven't worn in a year and I found $60 in the pocket! HAGD

4/21/08: The flower bed is finished, finally. Considering how small a space it is it took me forever. There were so many beautiful flowers at the nursery and I wanted them all...but they were pricey! It was still a fun place to walk around and it was a pretty day to do it despite the chilly breeze. ** BTW...My beans turned out wonderful. Beans beans the beautiful fruit....They are rich and savory and I ended up eating 3 small bowls yesterday over the course of the day - there is nothing off plan in them, just beans, veggies, tomatoes and spices; my tostada was wonderful (I'll have another for lunch today) and I even had a small bowl for dessert (they are a little sweet.) ** Today's project is building a small brick planter out back where I need to plant some cantelope. I also need to prune back the privot treet so the spot gets more sun. It was so disappointing that the cedar wax wings and robins never showed up to feast on the berries from that tree...I hate it when the migration of the birds and the ripeness of the berries are off-synch; what a mess the berries are when left to drop off the branches instead of getting gobbled down. Oh Well. So plenty of outside work today if I can just get out there and get started. It looks to be another sunny breezy day, perfect for working outside, so no weather excuses here.** Dinner tonight will be Brussels Sprouts that need to be finished up - I'll make a stoup; I have been ever so concious about not letting veggies go to waste in the fridge, having the crisper drawers up in the center of the fridge have really helped with that. I'm off to make a breafast smoothie..Here's to a healthy week for everyone

4/20/08: Sore shins this morning are testimony to the walking we did yesterday around the outside mall in Stockton. We saw Nim's Island which was wonderful if you enjoy children's movies, which I do. And then we had an hour to kill and...Cold Stone. Did I pick the skinny cream? Oh no, we had Chocolate Delights or something, even the small serving is about a cup; hopefully the walking helped offset the treat. At dinner beforehand I had minestrone soup and salad at Olive Garden, great choices except I ate them with 3 bread sticks. They were so salty, but hopefully a little better than the five cheese rigatoni my family was eating. Trying to balance out calories in and out for the day in my head I was probably still within my maintenance zone; thank heavens for our morning bike ride. I'm looking forward to my beans today at lunch, I am thinking of using them in a taco salad. A corn tortilla cut into wedges and microwaved for about a minute gets it nice and crunchy, and I won't have to add much dressing - the beans should have lots of flavour, and there is a ripe tomato to add. Yum. Breakfast was a ripe mango - perfectly sweet - and I think I will steam some artichokes and brussels sprouts for dinner, flavoured with leeks and sunchokes that will be filling and light to help make up for the excesses of yesterday. I can always have another cup of beans if it's not enough. Today I plan to go walk at the nursery across town and find a couple of flowering creepers to fill in the front flower bed; and when it's a little warmer hit the road on my bike again. Each day it gets a little easier to keep moving and I am encouraged. Sandy is right, start with the small things and build on them.

4/19/08: Last night I had one brownie and packaged up the rest. All but 3 are in the freezer, and those three are in the fridge waiting to be part of Sundaes later this week. This morning I chopped up tons of veggies (peppers, jalapeno, parsnip, onions, zucchini) while the beans were soaking for their hour after having brought them to a boil. I sweated all the diced veggies with a can of diced mild green chilis, chili poweder, cumin, garlic powder, 1tsp of kosher salt, a 15oz can of organic tomato sauce and then threw in a jar of organic vegan Chili Ranchero sauce I had on hand just for good measure. When the beans were done soaking and the veggies were soft I stirred everything together in the large crock pot and they are in there simmering away for the day. I'm thinking I'll made the McDougall quick bread cornbread recipe to go with the beans for dinner. I used the same ingredients I would have used for my old Chile Verde recipe, just using the beans instead of the pork and adding extra veggies. I am hoping for the best, at least it smells wonderful. ** Yesterday Kaylee was such a good dog, staying by me in the front yard where there is no fence while I dug around all the rose bushes and got them fed. We worked in the back yard too, feeding the birds and squirrels, and doing some watering - a sure way to bring on the rain. All in all I kept busy. Today we have already been out for a short bike ride battling the icy wind all the way, I think I will bring in wood for a file later! ** I found out we are taking the DSD (Darling Step Daughter) to work tonight and going to a show while we wait for her to finish and bring her home (work is 45 minutes away.) So no corn bread and no fire tonight, and popcorn will be my whole grain today! See...I can make a healthy choice sometimes!

4/18/08: We are having another beautiful day before the cold comes creeping back and I took advantage of it to take a longer bike ride. Retracing the paths I used to walk years ago, I rode along the waterway that cuts through the northern end of our city and was surprised at how few ducks and egrets I saw. And the flock of Canadian Geese was absent too. I did notice that riding a different way than usual made the time go by faster so I will do that more often. ** Yesterday I cooked 2 diced zucchini, an onion, and some red pepper flakes together. Then I stirred in a can of Hunts no sugar added spaghetti sauce and some cooked quinoa elbow noodles for a simple but spicy hot lunch. For dinners I have a bag of 15-bean soup to make over the weekend, the perfect opportunity for using up all the bits and pieces of veggies in the fridge, and for desserts I have a can of pumpkin to make brownies; my hope is to freeze the leftovers into portions after the initial bake.(For those who don't know a 15oz can of pumpkin mixed with an organic cake or brownie mix makes a wonderful treat sans fat and plus fiber.) I think with my SO home this week that is doable. My chore today is feeding the roses; I noticed on my bike ride that mine are not as beautiful as they could be and realized I haven't fed them at all this year; MY BAD! Plus the house next door is going up for sale and I need to finally finish up the flower bed out front. Okay, off to chop up lettuce for my lunch salad and get busy, I know Kaylee will love nosing around outside so I am anxious to get out there. HAGWE

4/16/08: A nice day for a bike ride but I must admit my heart wasn't in it, or my bottom; my poor tail bone is having a hard time making the adjustment to enduring the daily abuse. Oh well. ** Today I made a pepper\hominy scramble for my second meal. I love hominy and haven't had it in quite a while, on impulse I had grabbed a can my last trip to the store and today looking in the fridge I saw the peppers and was inspired. I sweated out a small yellow onion with half each of an orange and yellow pepper and a whole poblano pepper (everything diced.) Then I added in a large can of white hominy and let it all sizzle away for about ten minutes, stirring twice. I diced up 2 large kale leaves and added them, covered the pan, and set the timer for 5 minutes. It was light and good, and the hominy was a nice change. I'm not sure how it will hold up appetite wise, but I can always throw together a salad later if I'm hungry. ** Today was pleasant out and the sun warm enough to give Kaylee a shampoo. She wasn't too sure about being soaking wet, but she loved the sun bath with me afterwards and now she is very soft and cuddly. ** It feels good to be half way through another week knowing I am keeping up with my water and exercise. I brought four audio books home from the library today, so lots to listen to while I'm out on my bike or gardening - mostly I'm just trying to stay busy and not think. Happy Hump Day everyone

4/14/08: Finally back inside the house, my face flushes warm, safe from the blustery abuse it has just suffered; fighting the winds at almost every turn this had not been a pleasant 'what can I see today' sort of a bike ride. I have no idea what I saw. It was work, and only my determination to post a 4th day of riding urged me out the front door. The sun was barely winning over the icy air buffeting me around as I struggled to peddle against the oncoming rush. There was one short stretch between water and fence where all was quiet and the sun gloriously warm before I rounded a corner back into the mayhem of weather fronts colliding. Earlier today I walked Kaylee (I now know it's 800 steps around our court) and did a short program of pilates and yoga. The rest of the day was spent on filing my taxes; I haven't waited so late in years and it was rather a rushed job; oh well, at least it is done. My lentil loaf sandwich was good, but as I told Sandy, I liked it better warm. I made a veggie soup to have for dinner tonight; I always try harder to make sure I am eating enough veggies on days I have eaten bread; it still feels like cheating and I only ate 1 slice. Just a quick note about last night - even though I was really full, the feeling passed quickly - a far cry from eating something bad and feeling miserable for hours. I am so much more concious about how my stomach feels now, and hate it when I feel heavy with food; I much prefer feeling satisfied and unaware of any pressure from the inside. Tomorrow I have errands to run so it will be a challenge for me to get out on the bike. I hope my determination lasts.

4/13/08 Update: I had to log back on to say that dinner was dangerously wonderful. I changed the recipe a tiny bit, replacing the sugar with maple syrup, and subbing the T of olive oil for a quick spray of canola when sauteeing the onions and peppers. Also I used smoked paprika instead of chili powder - I have fallen in love with that spice! I can hardly wait for my sandwich using leftovers tomorrow, but I am stuffed and can wait. I did eat my salad first - good thing or surely I would have over eaten. Of course, since I am stuffed, I guess I did anyway...but it was soooo good! Here is the recipe: Lentil Loaf

4/13/08: Last night about 9pm I heard IHOP Harvest Grain Pancakes calling my name, so this morning we went down for breakfast. I had a short stack with blueberries, put my fork down between bites, and stopped when I was satisfied bringing home a large quarter - the SO can have it for a snack or dessert later. We waited 20 minutes after getting home to let breakfast digest, then hit the road on our bikes. My partner brought his camera and when he stopped for pictures I did sprints, adding almost a mile to my ride and hopefully using up lots of gluten so it doesn't stick around to be saved as fat. More exercise today will be washing the car and gardening, a walk for Kaylee, and hopefully...finally making the Lentil Loaf. I had garbanzos on toasted sourdough for lunch yesterday which filled me up leaving no room for my salad, so instead of making lentils for dinner I had a big salad and a cup of kale soup. I'm so sad, there is only one serving of that cruciferous soup left and then it will be time to make another big batch for freezing. It's lots of work, but worth it to reach in the freezer at any given moment for a nutrient rich and filling meal. ** Back to the bike ride, today we saw the blue heron, tons of avecets, half of them wearing their mating colours (the girls), all the Bufflehead babies and two blond ducklings -they are so adorable. I saw jackrabbits cooling off in the shade of bushes yesterday but there were none today, the hot sun keeping them hidden in their cool homes. So three days of biking accomplished, and I feel pretty good about that. As soon as I get up to five miles we will take our bikes over to Sycamore Park to ride one day, I'm looking forward to that. And my water consumption is way up. I'm careful to hydrate at least an hour before or after eating my meals so as not to dilute my digestive juices - I want to wring out as many nutrients as I can from my food! So extra chewing (digestion starts with our saliva) and no water with meals for me. Gotta run, only a half an hour before Golf starts, Go Tiger, you can do it!

4/12/08: Yesterday's bike ride was hard on my butt, but I got out there again this morning. It was really hard, but I pushed myself knowing that I will bounce back into 'bike shape' more quickly if I don't give up. Today I saw baby Bufflehead ducks in the pond; so cute, they are black with white scarves over the back of their heads and look so tiny bouncing around in the water. Today's ride also brought me to a garage sale and I picked up the first of the baby items I will need in the fall; a bassinet and a baby bjorn carrier. It's feeling more real now and I'm thinking about what I need to do to get the house ready for a baby ** Dinner last night ended up being leftovers; dirty rice & beans, plus some kale soup I threw some left over steamed broccoli and yams into - it was wonderful and now I have room in the fridge for left overs from the lentil loaf I will make today. I suppose I had better look at my taxes today...but in the meantime there is sourdough bread in the kitchen and I'm off to make a garbanzo salad sandwich, mmmmm.

4/11/08: I stocked up this morning on fruits and veggies for the weekend, picked up a couple of ingredients I needed to make a lentil loaf for dinner, and I'm about to change from street clothes into biking clothes and head out for a ride. I have a strawberry\kale smoothie planned for lunch when I get home and then when Kaylee is ready we'll go for a short walk later. I have to mention that I'm excited about a movie trailer I watched this morning - the past week I have been addicted to listening to a couple of books, Inkheart and Inkspell, and was so sad when the 2nd book ended (the final book in the trilogy is due out in October, and I don't believe the author will be able to end in one more book...) but now I see that Inkheart has been made into a movie! Starring Brendan Fraser no less, who narrated the 2nd book! If you ever have a chance to listen to him read, do it! He is wonderful. And since I am mentioning that, I must send out kudos to Lynn Redgrave for her outstanding performance reading Inkheart. Finally a movie to look forward to this summer! Yay Later: Day one of riding, check!

4/10/08: Dinner was dirty rice, coleslaw and wild boar sausages. Lots of fresh peppers in the rice, kale in the coleslaw, and I only had half a sausage; they are leaner than factory sausages but it was still wierd eating the meat, I hope I feel okay tomorrow. I did eat my big salad before dinner and skipped the coleslaw - that was for everyone else - and I only had a small portion of the rice, trying really hard to listen to my stomach. I did manage to put my fork down between bites and spent most of dinner engaged in conversation. (The grandbaby is now the size of a kumquat!) I did get the flowers planted, the lawn trimmed and mowed, and today is the first time in a long time me and Kaylee didn't have an afternoon nap; last minute dinner plans kept me on my feet cooking and cleaning. The temp is going to be in the 80's for the weekend, so the plan is to get out on the bike in the morning before it gets too warm tomorrow: wish me luck!

4/9/08: The flower bed by my front door is almost done; I have two more pots of snap dragons to plant tomorrow and a pile of dirt to haul around to the back. I've spent most of the day outside puttering here and there, listening to Inkspell on my ipod and sort of drifting through the day in a world far away. At least I am not on the couch, even if I am a little disconnected from reality! Last night my stoup came out wonderful with lots of leek, brocolli rabe, carrots, sunchokes and a splash of soy sauce. And I love my new salad dressing, the recipe is labeled as a Caesar but it didn't taste like that tome. It's just different and fresh-let me know if you want the ingredients. Back to Monday, nothing turned out like I expected. No bike ride, no restraint eating mashed potatoes, and can you believe it...wearing my new pedometer I logged 194 steps between 2 and 6. I know that it's not registering all the time I spent on my feet cleaning my small kitchen or making dinner, but still, it shows me how far away from healthy I am - 6,000 steps is my first goal, and then 10,000 by summer. On another front, my SO went to the Dr. yesterday and came home ready to lose weight. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not yet; I've spent the past year learning how to NOT diet and he is already counting calories...big sigh. Oh well, at least he is ready to shed some of his extra pounds, which means he will be willing to go on bike rides with me...I just hope he doesn't expect to actually have conversations while we are out riding so I can listen to my books!

4/7/08: Today there are no excuses. I am just back from target where I picked up an ipod shuffle so I can take my audio books with me for bike rides, working in the yard or doing dishes. It does have to charge for 4 hours, but that leaves plenty of time for a ride later this afternoon. No more being glued to the computer! It's a beautiful day, so the weather is not a prohibiting factor either. Also, inspired by Josephine and the I can make you thin guy, I picked up a pedometer to wear. I do have one, but it has disappeared into the recesses of my office and for $9 it is worth it to just get a new one. The idea that is rebounding in my head from the fourth in McKenna's thin series is that "what you measure gets done." Now I have a history of compulsive tracking, and it took me a while to get over that and switch to not counting calories, but I think with exercise it is different because I will be tracking something positive, and I am going to start 'measuring' my steps and recording my bike miles ridden for the next five weeks. I am taking it as a sign that when I called and asked about the ipod I found them on sale ($49) and that the clerk who helped me knew exactly where the pedometers were in in sporting goods. I feel armed and ready to face exercise again. This will be the first time since starting my plant based eating that I will actually be trying to burn calories and get back in shape, so it will be interesting to see how that works out appetite wise. Oh, and I also picked up a bike lock so I can bicycle over to the grocery store - I just need to get the carrier. So I am finally thinking positive this morning - a refreshing change. And dinner: tonight will be my first try at following the McKenna rules. I am making sour cream (tofutti) mashed potatoes (something I would normally avoid) and I am going to sit with my DD and eat one bite at a time and really see if I can sense when I am full and stop eating before my serving is gone and my plate licked clean. Okay, now I am starting to get a little worried that it isn't just a good mood but that the 'manic' me has kicked in....

4/6/08: I went out several times yesterday to head for the garage and my bike, but despite the promise of the sun, the wind was just too chilly, like ice riding through the air to bite and pinch. So no bike ride and my journal entry will say 'too cold to ride'. I kept busy with housekeeping chores and enjoyed my left over bean soup and even won the battle to 'pick up something' for dinner and was satisfied with home fare. Kaylee was walked, she does such a good job of trotting along next to me, and once back home we played fetch quite a bit - she is the fastest dog I have ever seen! I have to go shopping today; I have a new recipe for cesaer salad dressing I am looking forward to trying and I want the ingredients for enchilada pie. I am going to substitute the layer of refried beans with a mixture of summer squashes and a chilie relano salsa I have in the cupboard to lighten up the recipe, it was a little heavy with both whole and refried beans last time. Speaking of which, I need to go get the black beans in the crock pot. I am also craving my garbanzo tacos ... it's so nice to have a craving for something that isn't bad for me! Happy Sunday

4/5/08: Last night good friends came for a visit, to meet Kaylee and play a game (the laughing was wonderful) and I used the occaision as an excuse to serve dessert. As I prowled through the bakery I found a selection of 'Gianna's all natural handmade baked goods.' I opted for the Italian Almond Truffle cakes which turned out to be like a light pinafore with marzipan (my favorite) in the middle and draped in chocolate. Small, rich and wonderful, we had them with a small scoop of dairy free vanilla soycream. But the highlight of the evening was the laughter and if I had served fruit for dessert the night would have been just as fun. I will have to remember that for next time. I did start on the front flower bed yesterday and plan to do some more work out there today, and Kaylee did get her walk, and I even did some housekeeping and ate healthy up until dessert. Okay, there was wine involved last night, but hey, antioxidants are important! I did find out a new trial date yesterday so I know I have at least five weeks ahead of me. I saw that Josephine had posted how many steps she had walked with her new bodybugg, and I'm thinking I could do the same with my bike for the next five weeks to help keep me from stress eating. For a positive affirmation I will put on exercise pants when I get dressed this morning..or whenever ;) But I will start a bike journal today. Maybe take my camera and pick a favorite picture each week to post. I noted earlier this morning to Sandy that we need something besides ourselves to focus on, hopefully I can take my own advice. Lets have a wonderful weekend

4/4/08: Yesterday I made white bean soup; I blended part of it and the kale turned it green, but that's okay - green is good! (Speaking of green, have you seen the HGTV green house? The bottom floor is exactly what I want. What a gorgeous kitchen! And in S.Carolina too, a possible retirement destination.) Anyway, I used a tiny bit of liquid smoke and soy sauce for the saltiness beans seem to require and my cup was yummy and filling. Despite this attempt at healthy comfort food I ended up eating cookies and chips yesterday anyway; just small bags, one of each, but it seems I am determined to make myself feel like crap lately. Once again I seem to have let in the little devil who used to sit on my shoulder whispering lies. The next month will be a challenge to me; the trial looms closer and each day I get a little more crazy. I am going to try to get out for a bike ride today, take Kaylee for a walk, plant the front flower bed...the reality is I might be on the couch all day and that makes me nuts. Maybe typing this will give me the anger I need to get moving. Isn't it odd that the exact things we need to do to relieve stress are the hardest things to do just when we need them? What's up with that? Building character? Cuz if this is about showing my true colour then I am not very happy with the shade I am turning! Maybe I should just go check myself in somewhere for a couple of weeks. Or hire a babysitter - I can just see the ad: Crazy woman seeking 24/7 supervision; responsibilities include guarding the keys to the car and the TV remotes, preparing healthy vegan meals, and strictly enforcing daily bike rides and yoga sessions. Gloomy people need not apply. Harrumph! Hey, maybe this is a new profession opportunity; opening my house to people who need a week of supervision. It would work like AA, me taking care of someone else to divert attention from myself! I think I would need a larger house, maybe I'll win the HGTV green home!

4/2/08: I spent hours today reading from Dr. Fuhrman's book on fasting. I'm too lazy to look up the link, but the information is very interesting and I can see some fasting in my near future; maybe start Friday am and end it with watermelon for dinner Sunday. But apparently the real healing starts after a week. I think I just want the experience of a couple of days before I commit to going somewhere. I have two days under my belt now and am feeling much better. I just really need to bite the bullet at the next holiday and make it healthier. The longer I eat healthy, the worse my reactions to our traditional holiday fare. I guess July 4th is next on the list - healthy potato salad and veggie burgers sounds good to me! And it will be the perfect time to give my new ice cream maker (generously donated by MRS) a whirl; maybe a raspberry soy cream? Tonight I had two corn tortillas, warmed in the microwave, and stuffed with garbanzo beans I had crushed with a quarter avocado and hot sauce. This after my big salad of course. And for dessert I just had a snack cup of applesauce and half an ounce of walnuts. It feels good to be back on track.

3/31/08: March is almost gone; a quarter of the year used's just amazing, where did it go. I wonder how many times have I asked that exact question-yet it hasn't prompted me to make better use of my time. Wasn't I suppose to be in my stretch 14's by now???

Just a moment ago I was pressing my left thumb and middle finger together thinking of a toasted cheese sandwich crawling with worms and coated with hair; those of you watching the Paul McKenna special "I can make you thin" will understand this, others will just be grossed out. But the fact is that I don't want the sandwich anymore. What was disturbing watching the series on TLC last night was how few memories I could summon to do the 2nd part of the exercise - summoning really good feelings by reliving really happy moments in my life. I know I have them, I think I am just really out of practice. So I need to spend some time working on that, making one of my never ending lists so I can summon good feelings and dispell the fairy tale that food is the solution to 'changing my state of mind.' That being said, I am picking up a veggie Delite pizza to have with the pea soup for dinner tonight; my DD is coming and that sounds good to her. I'm not sure if I have really said specifically before, but she is pregnant, due in November, and having a hard time with smells right now. Anyway, I keep forgetting that thoughts are things, and it's so easy to slip into old habits of gloom, so I know trying to remember good memories will be good for me and help me get off the couch. Mostly I think I exhausted myself getting the house ready for Easter (physically and emotionally) what a wuss I am! I had gluten free sourdough\cornmeal pancakes for breakfast (3 small ones) with maple syrup, so there is my grain for the day. And I'm already craving another purple slurry smoothie for lunch - I love it when I have healthy cravings and the ingredients to follow through, which reminds me, I really need to get to the grocery store!

3/29/08: Okay, skratch the fasting idea for now, I need to start that with an empty refrigerator! Today the house is filled with the rich aroma of pea soup made with stock from the Easter ham. Since it was a honey baked ham I added kale to the vegetables to offset the sweetness and I am hoping for a balanced savory soup for dinner. In the meantime I have made a Purple Slurry for lunch. Pomegranite juice, crushed flax seed, kale, frozen blueberries and strawberries and half a cup of pear juice to offset the kale. I usually use spinach in my smoothies, but I am out, so in the kale went instead. It's amazing how the colour changed from green to purple, and it's just luscious and rich and satisfying; also I let the blender run until it's silken smooth, those extra few minutes really make a difference in the texture. So my goal changed from fasting to using up everything in the fridge, how like me that is! So for now lots of soups and smoothies and I'll figure out a better time for the fasting, maybe even going away to do it. [True North has a new health center in Santa Rosa for supervised fasting, maybe I will do that.] Anyway, I'm back to focusing on nutrition, and when the soup is gone I'll be back to strictly plants for awhile. My body seems to be much happier when I do that. Hope everyone is having a good weekend ♥

3/27/08: Without going into devilish details, let me just say that yesterday afternoon was disasterous; call it 'a moment of insanity meets buttered popcorn'. And today I am suffering the consequences - nauseous and dizzy, just all together wretched. Anyway, with prompting from my health Guru Michelle, I started thinking about fasting which led me to hours of online research into the idea. My SO is gone for four days, and I'm thinking of using this time for starting a short fast of Oki and water. If all goes well I might continue for another ten days, gradually using less and less of the Oki until I am on only water for a week. Why would I do this? Well, there are lots of health reasons, but for now just to cleanse and reboot my taste buds and defray the damage from Easter is incentive enough. So I'm thinking I'll finish up the watermelon for dinner tonight, and start tomorrow morning with the juice and water and just see how it goes. Call me crazy...

3/25/08: Holidays continue to be a challenge on many levels, but there are some good things to share. I was so busy I forgot to do laundry! Searching in my bureau Sunday morning I came across some slacks that were too small at Thanksgiving, and they not only fit but were loose! How did that happen? So I measured my waist and I'm down an inch! Which is strange because I am not exercising. So I grabbed a pair of jeans I hadn't had on in a long time, and they fit perfect; thank heavens, I am so tired of wearing the same jeans all the time. I have just finished the last handfull of licorice jelly beans, the butter is gone, and I have already made stock from the ham bone for pea soup this week. Dinner went pretty much as planned, with the exception of the boysenberry pie that showed up for dessert and the rum and coke that had miraculously appeared earlier in the day. All in all a nice day with good company and good food. Monday I drove my DM to Sycamore Grove and we walked a total of one and a half miles. Here is the bridge we walked across on our way to see a huge blue Heron catch his breakfast, a wild turkey foraging in the olive groves, and a bench to rest on while watching the brook far below gurgle it's way past sycamores filled with chattering birds. Baked ham and cheese sandwiches were the treat of the day for dinner, but first we ate big healthy salads out on the back brick patio for lunch when we arrived home exhausted from our walk. I think all in all Mom was very happy with the blend of healthy foods, execise, and rich treats. Come to think of it, so was I! But I am glad it's over, my body is screaming for water and I find myself chugging bottles one right after the other trying to quench my thirst. My cells are rejecting the salt, fat and sugar of the last couple of days and want to be cleansed of the whole mess. So do I!! Have a good week everyone, I hope you're all back on track and looking ahead to summer.

3/23/08: Spring and Easter Blessings to all my W8Book friends

3/21/08: Seven hours left to pull the house together; for those not listening to my whining the last few days, my Mother is coming for the Easter weekend. For dinner tonight, a shepards pie with sweet potatoes on top; veggies inside of course and a lovely mushroom gravy I think. I'll wait for tomorrow to introduce the concept of 1/2# salads by making her one for lunch. I know she will never take the time to eat this way herself, but maybe the weekend will inspire her to at least make healthier choices than In-N-Out. Speaking of healthy choices, I had a yummy spinach\blueberry\flax seed smoothie for dinner last night. I think I will make another for lunch today since it's another busy busy day. Back to dragging furniture from the patio to the least the carpet feels lovely to wiggle my toes through!

3/20/08: Today I gave up a little. I was so busy I forgot breakfast, then exhausted from spring cleaning and frustrated that my SO is once again sick and can't pull his share, when we left to have lunch when the carpet cleaner came and he said Appleby's after I had suggested the Taqueria I didn't argue. And after looking at the new menu (new owners) and seeing NOTHING I felt good about eating, I opted for comfort food. I ordered the tomato basil soup, and half a grilled cheese, no bacon. When I picked up my sandwich it was so greasy I almost let it slip through my fingers. Jeez Loueez. And of course I ate it all. AND, since I wasn't done pouting, we ordered their new little shot sized desserts, I had key lime and he had strawberry shortcake. Yummy, lite and delicious...I don't even want to know what was in it. I figure moving furniture, vacuuming twice, edging and mowing the lawn and grocery shopping will have worked off most of the damage. Plus I am chugging water since the work makes me thirsty. I have lots of healthy foods in the house to help keep me sane while my Mom is here, but if you felt like sending some luck my way for the weekend, well, that would be just fine. Back to finishing the yard....

3/19/08: The greeting of a cold, windy and maybe soon to be wet morning is difficult after the sunny days we've been having. Today is about decluttering the house, the carpet cleaner is coming tomorrow and my DM on Friday. She is a little curious and a little concerned about what I will be feeding her, but I promised it would all be good. Hopefully she will be pleasantly surprised. We do have a Honey Baked ham for Easter, so she will have refuge in something familiar. Our traditional Easter fare is ham, brown bread, coleslaw and scalloped potatoes. The brown bread is more cake than bread and I really don't want to change anything about that, but I can make the coleslaw and potatoes both wonderful and healthy while keeping the traditional flavours. It will be easy to just have small portions of ham and bread while the lions share of the plate goes to the veggie dishes. And yes, there will be wine ;) This morning breakfast will be watermelon - fruit for breakfast continues to be an amazing development. I don't get hungry until later than I used to upon waking, and the fruit keeps me satiated until lunch. I used to eat oatmeal every morning about 7 and by 10 I was dying for a snack. I can't believe how little I eat in the mornings now, how much more busy I am, and how little I think about food before lunch. STRANGE! I think learning to listen better to my body has been one of major changes I have been going through; learning that it's important to let our body finish it's nightime detoxing chores and then to help clean things out with some fruit to break the fast is probably the most radical change I have made these past few months. Okay, enough rambling, I'm off to housework! I can hardly wait for that 'moment' when the whole house is clean at the same time

3/18/08: Dinner was perfect last night; the corned beef tender and spicy, the veggies rich and tasty. This year there was no bread & butter or dessert but we didn't miss them dinner was so yummy. And I have the left over stock in the fridge so I can de-fat it and use it for lentil soup later this week. I did have half an Amber Bock, it's been so long since I had any beer it tasted wonderful. "Everything in moderation!" Last night I watched a show I had taped "I can make you thin." Did anyone else see this? Part one of his method are four golden rules.

1. Eat when you are hungry.

2. Eat what you want.

3. Eat conciously, putting your fork down between each bite.

4. Stop when you first think you are full.

He showed how closing your eyes when eating tunes you in to feeling when you are full instead of just eating everything on your plate, what he calls seeing when you are full. He also noted that even if you are just hungry again ten minutes later, just eat again following the rules. It was funny, he talked about comfort eating and mentioned my two favorites, Mac N Cheese & Pizza, and says that next week he presents part two of his method and how to overcome the cravings. Here is the blurb:

"TLC has announced I Can Make You Thin, a new reality series that will follow British weight-loss guru Paul McKenna as he takes his health techniques stateside, will premiere Sunday, March 16 at 9PM ET/PT.

I Can Make You Thin will showcase McKenna's "4 Golden Rules" -- simple and accessible techniques that McKenna claims will show viewers "how to control the mind's relationship with food" and shed pounds without leaving their couches.

"This is not a diet, " explained McKenna. "It's about changing your life using simple psychological techniques which transform people's relationship with food forever. I am thrilled to bring this successful program to
for the first time."

Each episode of the five-part series will follow McKenna as he applies his rules to one of the major themes that commonly occur for those who struggle with weight: emotional eating, addictions and cravings, motivation to exercise and metabolism, and self esteem and self-image.

In addition, I Can Make You Thin will also include a live studio audience, field segments, scientific research, and at-home strategies.

"Paul is a pioneer in the field of weight-loss, challenging and exercising the mind's relationship with food," said TLC programming executive Brant Pinvidic. "Finally, American viewers will learn why the TV might be the most important weight-loss tool ever."

McKenna -- a best-selling non-fiction author and hypnotist who has worked with celebrities, athletes, musicians and business executive -- also starred in the
U.K.'s version of I Can Make You Thin, which aired in 2006 and was the most-watched show in the history of Sky Television, a satellite television network available in Britian. Its companion book is also the best-selling self-improvement book in British History."

I'm not sure how this applies to getting adequate nutrition, but hey, you never know what we might learn! Have a great week everyone

3/17/08: The enchilada casserole was good, very filling, and I started tweaking the recipe half way through (details by request) to make it easier, and the refried beans and sauce were easy to make. Now I have leftovers for some dinners later in the week, which is good because I will be tired from cleaning, preparing for my DM visiting over Easter. But like I was telling Charlotte, busy is good when it keeps us from eating! Which reminds me, it's getting easier all the time to not snack, and I am less prone to the craziness that used to invade my brain driving me to 'find something'. I think it is true that my body is happy with the better nutrition and thus...less and less cravings all the time! If I want something sweet, I add a bit of honey to my tea or salad dressing. This morning my SO spilled a honey nut cheerio on the counter when pouring himself a bowl; I snatched it up and popped it into my mouth was like eating pure sugar! I didn't even want to read the label. Ok, off to shop and cook. At this point I have no desire for the corned beef i'm making, but I am looking forward to the veggies and the flavour they get while cooking with it. Happy Holiday everyone ♥

3/16/08: I seem to have developed an aversion to the scale. I am afraid to step on it, I am afraid to do anything to upset the calm everyday routine by inserting a number that might play havoic with me. I am a professional at playing the number game, a low number instigating eating and a high number instigating a rebellious response, "I might as well eat since nothing works!" Talk about a lose lose situation. Well, I want to avoid all that, and while I feel lighter I have no desire to confirm or deny that sensation. I want to stay on this even keel and keep taking one meal at a time thinking about my health and nutrition. So no weigh in this morning, and fresh pineapple for breakfast - on to the food! I cooked 1# of pinto beans overnight in the crockpot in preparation of making re(non)fried beans today for my Mexican (enchilada) Casserole. I'm also making the enchilada sauce from scratch which should save on a ton of sodium. Here is the link I am working from (thanks Michelle)

I have a ripe avocado to make a fresh salsa too, so dinner will be decadent indeed, but still on plan; how great is that? I am still coming up short on exercise, but I'm not worried about it like I used to be; as has been noted, as I feel better I will exercise more. It is quite the blustery day here, so no bike ride, but I have a visitor who is keeping me busy! His name is marty, he is some sort of bristol terrier mutt with hobbit feet, and Kaylee's head fits in his mouth. They are getting along wonderfully, but he knows not his strength and I keep a careful watch on his heavy paws; Kaylee is a toy to him and I don't want her broken. THAT is my exercise this weekend ;)

3/14/08: Grey skies & chilly wind, fat squirrels & rawkous blue jays, it will take some effort to get out and walk Kaylee this afternoon unless the weather improves. I made pea soup for dinner last night; a fresh fennel bulb and half a red onion diced, a cup of green split peas, a few cups of water and some Mrs. Dash table seasoning. Blended to a creamy richness once tender it was simple but wonderful and filling. My salad dressing was six green sicilian olives that had been packed in olive oil diced and tossed with some balsamic vinegar. The spicy bits of olive were enough to make the salad feel decadent and satisfying, and some raw pumpkin seeds thrown on top added just the right amount of crunch. There is so much we can do to change up a salad, so many wonderful ingredients to add flavour and texture. I've been eating two 1/2# salads most days for a while now and the more I experiment the more fun I am having discovering new combinations. When I was a little girl my grandmother used to make Watercress sandwiches, and I just loved them, who knew how smart she was 50 years ago! Of course the egg bread and mayo might have counteracted the benefits, but they were very yummy. Lately I have been chopping up a handful of watercress for my salads, and it adds a wonderful freshness besides being good for us. (I always take a little nip off a stem before chopping to make sure it is sweet and not bitter.) My thoughts going into the weekend seem to be running towards Mexican food, maybe veggie enchiladas, that sounds warm and yummy for a rainy weekend, guess it's off to the store to read the labels on enchilada sauce!

3/12/08: Lunch: Today my salad dressing at lunch was a tomato blended with 1/2oz walnut pieces and 1/2T flax seeds. Simple, sweet and yummy. My 1/2# salad was romaine, watercress, kale, green onion, radish, cauliflower and english cucumber. I forgot the beans I usuually add at lunchtime so I had a cup of FF refried beans with a dash of bbq sauce heated up in the microwave - it felt like I was eating dessert! And I made enough salad for dinner too, so all I have to do is add the dressing when we get back from the archery range late this afternoon so I won't be tempted by 'fast' food.

3/12/08: As many of you know, I love tea. Especially ginger tea. So when I saw the Yogi Ginger tea on sale I picked up a couple of boxes. Well, this past week I have been feeling very 'buzzy'. Not nervous, more like I had a low grade electric current running through my veins. That is why I reached for the wine yesterday, I wanted that feeling to go away! So this morning I felt fine, but as soon as I had my tea I noticed the buzzing was back. I went and checked the label and there is licorice root in the tea! The label says decaffeinated which should have alerted me, but hey, it was ginger tea! Funny that I missed that being such an avid label reader now, but hopefully that is all the buzzing is about and skipping the tea will solve the problem. Last night actually got a little worse with ice cream for dessert, but today we are going back to the archery range for more hiking and shooting and I have a big bag of fertilizer to plant a flower bed this afternoon. So lots to keep me busy and work off the calories from my day off program; we all need to indulge a little sometimes ;)

3/11/08: Drink a little a little pizza....

3/10/08: Some time ago, maybe a year, I noted on a board somewhere that eating salads without fat was sort of pointless; we need the fat to absorb the nutrients and I wasn't giving up my olive oil. At that time I opted for calories from oil instead of the sugar in the LF dressings so that I would be sure to be absorbing the nutrients from my salad. Well...I spent the weekend watching some of the GetHealthyNow! DVD's from the Healthy Lifestyles Expo's of 2006 & 2007 and they really helped me understand some misconceptions I had. I was right on track about needing fat with the salad, but it should be a healthy fat, not olive oil which is NOT healthy despite the gallons that are poured onto food everyday on the food network. I encourage everyone to listen to these videos that are posted at the link above; it feels great to learn from scientists instead of corporations what is healthy. Normally I would insert a big sigh here, but I think I am past that....harumph. So, healthy fats are from nuts and seeds, and I have been adding them to my salads regularly for several months now, along with avocado (one of the great loves of my life & another healthy fat) which is a good thing, but then adding a dressing too. I imagine I will always splurge sometimes and make the garlic dressing I learned from my FIL that uses olive oil, but for my twice a day everyday salads I realized I have been thinking about this wrong. SO, instead of using tofu or scant amouts of oil as bases..I tried grinding up some walnuts and flax seed in my coffee grinder, then transfering them to a small blender and adding some vinegar and spices, maybe a whole peeled orange, some water, and duh....the nuts create the creamy oil base for the dressing wonderfully! I have had recipes for these kinds of dressings, but I am slow to act on new ideas and I needed the reinforcement from the DVD's to get moving on this one (thanks Missy.) I made enough dressing for a couple of days, and it will be interesting to see what effect this has on my weightloss. Everyone have a good week

3/7/08: Lunch: Awhile back my friend Michelle reminded me I could use my California Garden Burger to make a 'Burger Salad' when I was having fast food cravings. Driving past BK on the way home from the store reminded me of this and when I got home I threw one together. A bowl of shredded cabbage, a drizzle each of catsup and mustard, 1T vegan mayo, diced tomato, dill pickle, 1/4 avocado and red onion to my taste, then everything mixed together and my california burger diced and tossed on top. This is a once in a while treat, the burger has 30% of it's calories from fat even if the ingredients look healthy and canola oil is down at 8th on the list. Plus the sodium is four times what it should be (patty=90cal, sodium=380mg where it should only be 90mg) per my latest healthy label reading guidelines. Now I'm stuffed and ready to go work in the kitchen. I have carrots, celery and onion to chop and make vegetable stock. Reading labels I found that the only low sodium veggie cubes Safeway had listed sugar as the No.1 ingredient and contained MSG. Rather than drive downtown when gas is $3.46gal I decided it's time to make my own stock!

3/7/08: I dove into a prequel to Anne of Green Gables yesterday that I found while picking up Disease Proof Your Child by Dr. Fuhrman for my DD (hint hint.) It was fun to go back in time to the character I was named for (Anne -with an e-Shirley) and the story I fell in love with as a child; Prince Edward Island has always been the #1 place I want to visit. I made a yummy soup for dinner last night, sauteeing together a head of bokchoy and a poblano pepper with poultry seasonings, then adding a cup of precooked green lentils; very quick and simple. Dessert later was a smoothie of pomegranite juice, mango, blueberries, spinach & ground flaxseed. It was so sweet and filling, just scrumpteous. And last night when my SO asked who was getting the ice cream, I said "not me!" My DD has an ice cream maker and was telling me about the wonderful sorbees they make in the summer, I might just have to buy me one of those! I know she also makes wonderful soy based 'ice creams' for her lactose intolerant friend, but I would have to be more careful about the sugar content of those desserts. It's time to head back to the store today, I ate my last apple for breakfast this morning and I'm out of lettuce. I've been on a Romain kick lately, and it goes fast when you eat a whole head in each salad, twice a day. It's getting easier all the time; fruit for breakfast, a salad with beans for lunch, more fruit, a salad with nuts or seeds at dinner (and avocado of course) and a couple of cooked greens (usually in a stoup.) I am still amazed that fruit and salad keep me so satisfied all day, I can't remember the last time I went 'hunting' in the kitchen cupboards or fridge. Crossing my fingers it lasts....

3/5/08: I just finished watching The Biggest Loser from last night, and what I can't get out of my mind is the scene where they are talking in the kitchen and we see their dinner plates; what must have been at least an 8oz steak and a small serving of green beans. After reading a couple of newsletters that my friend MRS gave me (one written by Dr. McDougall and one by Dr. Fuhrman) and understanding better about how digesting animal protein puts our bodies in an acidic state, and how we rob our bones of the 'alkaline' component to balance that acid, it makes me crazy to see a dinner like that served on a program that is not just about losing weight, but about gaining a healthy lifestyle. ARGHHH. (It also makes more sense to me now how I could have broken my leg walking out the front door at a time when I was following the Atkins diet.) Okay, done venting, but women - if you are concerned about the risk of bone loss please read up on this - and STEP AWAY FROM THE DAIRY!

I am excited to be going to the archery range today. I haven't been for a long time, it's in Oakland close to where my son was killed and just driving in that direction has been too distressing and I just haven't been going. But I am in a better place now, and while driving out there might be difficult the urge to get back to the redwoods, pines and green meadows of the range is stronger than my aversion to making the trip; it's a paradise out there compared to little suburbia. My SO has been tuning my bow and arrows, my Palm is charged and ready to go (lol, even archery has become really technical!) and I have my hiking boots on. I haven't been shooting because of my back, but I am tired of waiting. Depending on how it goes today I might need to try switching to a left handed bow, we'll see.

Dinner last night was my half # salad followed by a potato covered in broccoli with a couple of slices off of a block of jalapeno jack rice cheeze. Probably about an ounce of cheeze, but it was a decadent feeling dinner since there was only one cooked green. Six dried apricots and an ounce of raw almonds made up dessert while watching New Amsterdam later in the evening. I tend to have dinner around 5pm and dessert whenever I get hungry. I used to think 'no eating past 7' but I think that restriction helped fuel the need to binge later in the evening. And by binge I don't mean that uncontrollable shove everthing you can in your mouth event. I mean a 100 calorie pack of popcorn and then a piece of fruit and then a handfull of raisins. Something like that. But that is too much food when it's 9 or 10 at night. (Night time is for detoxing and our body's chance for recovery; we shouldn't be minimizing those efforts by using resources digesting food.) Plus I would eat dessert at 7 whether I was hungry or not because it was my 'last chance' to eat for the evening. Waiting now until I am hungry and then having a little something nutritious seems to be working much better. I have noticed that my popcorn cravings have diminished, which is good because that means less sodium. One of my favorite desserts is a small banana with walnut pieces pushed into a row down the side. Yummo! I plan for this by skipping or only using half an ounce of nuts or seeds in my salad, saving some for dessert later - I have noticed that adding nuts as part of dessert seems to help keep me from snacking between then and bed too. lol, enough about the D word!!

It's good to be starting a day in a positive attitude; I'm off to walk Kaylee, have a good day

3/3/08: Having skipped cake and ice cream last night, this morning we endulged my craving for corn pancakes & butter at IHOP. I figure the calories were better spent this morning than last night anyway, and why not spend them on something I really wanted rather than something traditional? While there I saw this poster for their "Who Cakes" and it made me think once again about what we are feeding our kids. Even while some of us are giving more thought to nutrition, the vast majority of marketing towards children (and the rest of us) still runs to sugar. They are gorgeous, and if I were still a kid I would want these pancakes! It's another sunny day here (whoo hoo it's suppose to reach 70) so more yard work and a chance to burn off calories, and then I'll make a high protein pea soup for dinner; my DD will be here and has voiced her concern about getting enough protein in her diet. I'm thinking a LF hummus spread on a toasted whole grain roll to go with the soup, and a salad with pumpkin seeds. That should stuff her full of protein! Time to get busy

3/2/08: Last year at this time I was working hard to get in shape for my week at surf camp, this year I am still recovering from the sprained knee I got for my efforts at surfing! (But what a fun week it was) Looking at my year in review I am in a better place mentally, emotionally and nutritionally with the help of good friends, old and new. This past year has really has been about struggling to not drown in a sea of me, and about learning to let go of dark baggage and just try to be myself. As the song goes, "What a long, strange trip it's been." There are blue skies out there today, and I hear a bike ride beckoning after brunch, and I am grateful that I don't feel 'older' on the occasion of my Birthday, and happy I have such a pretty day to celebrate.

3/1/08: This morning I am headed out to spend three hours volunteering at the phone banks for Barack Obama, helping get his message out to Texas. This is a first for me, it is also the first time I have ever contributed money to a campaign and it makes me feel good to know there are a million others who have done the same; I feel that this multicultural man was born for this time of crisis. Spending trillions of dollars on someone elses civil war overseas while we close schools and lay off teachers here at home is insanity and we desperately need a change in the way government (we the people) operate. IMHO he is the person who can implement that change.

Anyway, I had a yummy pear for breakfast, and I'm taking an apple and a nectarine in the car to tide me over till lunch. And it just so happens that where I am going is next to a Whole Foods market so I will be able to grab a salad for lunch and then do some healthy shopping before heading home. I haven't been before so it will be fun to shop somewhere new that has a good reputation.

It felt like summer here yesterday, sunny and hot! When I went to trim off all the old pomegranites (miniature) I discovered that the pink jasmine has worked it's way through the whole hedge. I couldn't bear to cut it back so I should have a wild mass of blooms in a while, it is already covered with pink buds; our local hummingbird is going to be very pleased! I will set up the camera and tripod and try to get a picture when he starts coming around regularly and I know his schedule (they are very habitual creatures.) I also noticed a pair of Blue Jays in the tree out front by the driveway, apperently tending the same nest that gave us our two babies in 06. One of them was yelling at me rather persistently, so I am pretending that he is our baby 'Squawker' come back home to raise his own babies. Hey, it's possible! Oops, gotta run, everyone have a good weekend


2/29/08: I made quite a dent in the backyard yesterday even though I was interrupted by an occular migraine. (They seem to be coming once a month about the same time and I wonder if they are hormone induced; might be time to check in with an optomologist.) Kaylee really enjoyed romping in the grass after being cooped up so long - she hates the rain. After taking my daffodill pic I realized how long the grass really was and I had to mow, she had the sense to go hide in the house until I was done with that part, but I can see she will be great company while I work out there this spring; it's much easier for her to get around now that the grass is short, she's such a low rider! And FAST. She went with me to take the greenwaste cart to the curb (the driveway is 30 yards long) and zipped like a bullet when it was time to head back to the house. Agility training? Dog races? I need to think about this! Anyway, I'm a little sore this morning but looking forward to getting some more done out there today.

Interestingly enough I don't feel the urge to splurge like I normally do the morning after a challenge, I guess I feel I've already splurged this week and I have a brunch date to look forward to on Sunday so I will save what is supposed to be my weekly treat until then. All in all I am happy with the progress I have made. I put on shorts the first time this year, and they were at least loose if not falling off like I had wanted, but I am on the right track and glad to not feel stuck anymore. 3 more pounds and I will be in 'new' fat ;)

Little paws damp with the morning dew land on my bare calf, and a cold nose draws my attention down to the soft furry insistence of a puppy in need of her morning cuddles. I am off to the couch with a hot cup of tea and for a game of tug (yes, I'll be careful.) Hapy Friday everyone

2/28/08: Well I seem to be on an upward spiral. First there was the pint of soy dream butter pecan, and then dried apricots for snacking, and this morning I had sourdough toast with a mixture of raw cashew butter and fig only jam on top (how do I keep bringing these things into the house????) Only one piece, nothing radical, but a maintenance breakfast, not a losing one. I'm still eating my salads and cooked greens, but have added in all these extras the past couple of days. Maybe the added activity of working in the yard after a couple months of sedentary loafing spiked my appetite? Anyway, my jeans are snug again this morning and I realized I haven't been journaling. I doubt there is much damage, but as always I had hoped to be past this backsliding I tend to do once I have realized I'm getting smaller. My brain needs a good vacuuming! I'll throw the remaining loaf of sourdough into the freezer and try to focus on things 'other than food' for the remainder of the day, but I am guessing Friday morning won't be anything spectacular ;)

2/24/08: The last two trips to the store I went when I knew it wouldn't be crowded and spent some extra time reading labels using the info from Jeff Novick (give the page a moment to load then watch the excerpt from his "healthy" vs health food video) to see if there was an acceptable cracker, including the criteria of not looking like cardboard. So far I haven't seen one. But it is very interesting to read labels with this new perspective; before I would check for saturated fat & grams of fiber to determine if I was going to buy something. Of course now that I am eating so few processed foods it doesn't often come up, but I have left over chickpea spread and have been craving crackers so last week I started looking. I thought I had found one at Target yesterday, falling for the front of the box (I think rule number one is don't believe the front of the box) because it said "made with whole grain". The first ingredient in this New cracker was a list of grains, but then came white flour, a couple different kinds of oil, HFCS, hydrolyzed soy and MSG! How do I remember this? I don't, I'm reading it off the box, because yesterday I forgot my reading glasses and thinking I was reading the first 11 ingredients I thought I was relatively safe in making a healthy choice because there was no sugar or fat in the first half dozen ingredients, whoo hoo, I had really found a 'new' 'whole grain' cracker. In truth what I got was lazy and tired of squinting. Once home with glasses and sanity at hand I then read the bad news. The list of grains I was excited about were in parenthesis, so all of the listed seeds and grains were really only the first ingredient, then came white flour (not ok), oat fiber (ok) sugar, salt and palm oil (not ok when they are in the first five ingredients.) So frustrated again, but at least it has curbed my craving for crackers. I will save them for my SO who often looks in vain for crackers to have with the soup I make, but I don't think I will be tempted. I did have four crackers (one serving) with my spread yesterday as part of lunch -I am really trying hard to not fall prey to perfectionism, the end result of which is binging- but I think that was enough; how funny to fall prey to exactly what I was trying to avoid after learning to read labels correctly. Weather update: outside, still grey but just damp not blowing or dripping; inside, optimisitic

2/23/08: Soup today was the mixing of some old favorites with some new; green lentils, leeks, bokchoy, kale, red onion, sunchokes and a little Thai seasoning. I've found that just a little Thai seasoning really enhances the flavours of the vegetables instead of overwhelming them. I did use some vegetable stock, but only a cup and then water to cover everything to cut back on the sodium. Making my own stock is definitely on my list of things to do! Kaylee refused to walk today in the light showers we have been having on and off all day, I don't blame her, so we played on the floor until I was exhausted - can I count this as my exercise? I made double salad at lunch today so no more chopping for me tonight. I'm getting better at planning ahead, organizing the fridge, and keeping a running grocery list going so I don't run out of staples for soups and salads. Also, I found a new salad dressing (bought on clearance), Strawberries & Balsamic vinegar. It did have corn syrup in the ingredients, but I thinned it out with some Blackberry vinegar I had and mixed it all up in the blender with flax seed and it is ever so yummy and really low in calories. The strawberries are a great counterbalance to the strong flavour of the raw kale I like to put in my salads and really complimented the walnuts I added today. And lastly, I was listening to Paula Deen cook while playing with the puppy and have to say that all I could think was ewww, gross! The way I think about food is really changing, and when watching the cooking shows I find myself asking "where is the nutrition?" I started my day with a blueberry, spinach, flax seed, pomegranite juice smoothie which was extra yummy and dessert tonight will be a fresh mango with 1/2oz of walnut pieces since I only used 1/2oz on my salad today. So far so good, it's looking to be a pretty good day

2/22/08: I have many errands to run today, and I am thinking about Sandy walking at the Mall in Tennesee and wondering if I have the capacity to walk past Mrs. Fields cookies, Cinnabon, Sees and the bakery without talking myself into a treat. We are so good at rationalization it must be or have been classified as a survival instinct. Since I have doubt, I will pass on that, but I do think I will pick up one sourdough roll while at the store today, and make myself a yummy hummus sandwich; I have been wanting bread all week for some reason and I think today is the day. (I read somewhere about how the communities making and eating sourdough bread were healthier, hence my justification of a 'white bread' for my treat.) I am listening to a set of DVD's a friend lent me, and was pleased to hear that the soups and stoups and stews I make are healthier than throwing veggies in the steamer, the nutrients released into liquid I will eat rather than into the steam that ends up in bottom of the steamer and thrown away.

And I just figured out why I was sad yesterday and this morning too, I should be in Vegas at the archery tournament. What's worse is that I remember making almost the exact same entry a year ago! And just like last year it took me a day of being blue before I figured out what was going on. A year ago I swore I would be ready to go this year. Of course having little Kaylee to tend to did influence my decision to stay home, but it is more than just the trip I am missing, it is the shooting; I wanted to go and shoot my bow. I need to change my list of why's so that my back is the number one reason to lose weight (nothing else has worked to heal it.) I miss the exercise, the zen of shooting, being part of the crowd and I even miss the competition. The difference between this year and last year is my eating pattern; last year I ate all day before figuring out what was going on, this year I had a serving of not-so-unhealthy pancakes and just let myself feel the sad. This year even though I might not feel able to walk past a tempting shop, I'm not afraid of driving past fast food joints, and I will have a treat that is part of a plan I can stick to today. So I guess it's okay to feel sad today because even if I'm not in Vegas, I am in a better place nutritionally, more stable emotionally, and can see a real path forward to making it there next year. And in case you haven't figured it out, when I end my entry with a heart it's because I leave here feeling better than when I arrived! Have a good day everyone, and if you stopped by, thanks for letting me bend your ear, because it really is a big part of my healing process

** I just added another picture link, this one is to a living jigsaw that I thought was great fun! Click on the hang glider above.

2/21/08: I am so glad this morning isn't the day to weigh, I made pancakes for dessert last night and I'm feeling a little heavy. I used applesauce instead of the oil and eggs, and the organic mix was rice based, but it was still overly refined and not on my intended menu for the day. I really miss my pomegranites at night :( I know from past experience that I don't do well with time limits and challenges, that for me it is better to look at the small hourly choices within the really big picture so that I stay away from the stressful deadlines and short term goals that seem to trigger bad food choices. I know we are supposed to be a goal oriented species, but I just don't fit that mold; I am mostly pacific in nature and happier with a calm steady purpose than with a fired-up lets get this done approach. So I applaud myself for not going to get donuts, and making healthy choices most of the day, getting in my pound of raw veggies and making a wonderful bokchoy sautee for dinner. I had chopped up all the odd pieces of veggies in the fridge and tossed them in a zipclose baggie yesterday morning (bokchoy, leek, kale, turnip, celery heart, poblano) so I have leftovers to throw together an easy dinner tonight. Last night I started with onion, added in half a pound of the mix, slow cooked it all with about half a cup of vegetable stock and some Mrs. Dash table blend and stirred in a cup of pinto beans at the end. Yummy and filling but I ate a little early. I am reading now about the benefits of eating only twice a day...which is totally opposite of what I have done forever. But insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results, so obviously I know what doesn't work, and I am open to trying new things. Maybe those should be my six words, "Trying everything to see what works!"

12/20/08: Needing a diversion I decided to check email and found the link I just posted to 'The year you were born', interesting if you are looking for a diversion. Then I checked messages here and found myself replying to Charlotte to 'find a smile and hang on to it.' Well, I can't hardly expect her to do something I wouldn't do myself. So I am off to find a smile. I wonder if maybe I am a little manic\depressive the way I can completely convince myself I will never have another moody day when I am 'up' and then BLAM all of a sudden here I am going a little crazy. But my SO just left for four days on the road, so I am probably dealing with that sneaky inner child who wants a treat when no one can see; jeez loueez! Okay Vail, just think about this for a moment.

1)I want to have better blood work when I get retested in March.

2)I want my shorts to fit this spring.

3)I want my fat face to go away and reach 1derland.

4)I want to lose weight so my sports injuries will heal and I can shoot again.

5)I want to set a good example for my family.

6)I want to go surfing this summer.

7)I want baggy jeans.

Whew, I'm right, those things are much more important than a sourdough roll. I'm going to take a notepad to the couch and find the six words to describe my life. (See Kellybefore for details.) Maybe in the process I will find that smile I was after

12/18/08: Sitting by twos along the banks of our small waterway, the ducks basked in the sun as well as in the attentions of their mates. Some of them were nestled together, their feathers puffed up against the slight chill of the breeze & appearing much larger than usual, while others strolled along in great companionship, their exercise enough to warm them. The brown women proudly strutting along next to their male partners with russet breasts and shiny green heads seemed so plain and demure. But on closer inspection the subtle patterning of their wings brought delight to the artist in me. Further along I saw the ring necked pheasant that has been absent lately, the river finally high enough to tempt him from the golden fields where he makes his home. And up above, arrowing down the center of the canal, only a dozen feet or so above the water flew the great grey heron; his golden elbow patches bright spots of light drawing my eyes as he winged his way along heading for the western end. All in all it was a wonderful bike ride today, and having found a favorite childhood story on audio tape to listen to while I pedaled along made it perfect. (A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter)

I have been making sure to add nuts or seeds to my two salads each day, measuring out a half an ounce of one or the other, and have really noticed a decrease in appetite, as well as a diminishing of my dry winter skin. I love the perks of nutritious meals! I prepared my dinner salad when I returned home from my ride, so it’s ready for when I do get hungry, and there is an artichoke as well as a bag of frozen mixed veggies ready to steam. I love how cheap and easy eating healthy can be ;) I am joining Sandy (LotusJade) in ten days of 100%, and I am glad to say so far so good on day one; it feels good to be 'back in the saddle'!

12/17/08: I spent much of yesterday with a friend and just quick to the point there was no stress eating involved! Fruit for breakfast, a potato and side salad at Appleby's for lunch, and creamy vegan brown rice noodles with steamed veggies and a big salad for dinner. I endulged in having a glass of wine while cooking dinner, and had a second one with dinner, and enjoyed every drop. [Wine is never as good the 2nd night, you really have to drink the whole bottle, eh slim? ;)] After our afternoon bike ride we did stop at a natural foods store and picked up a small bag of chocolate mint cookies made with raw almonds, cashews, mint and cocoa - nothing bad at all in them - It was a good way to satisfy my friend's chocolate craving. The best part of the day was our visit to a psychic and I feel like I have met another friend; it was a great experience. Today I'm reading more of A New Earth. While the first chapter was hard to wade through, chapters 2 & 3 were fascinating and I am learning about how he believes the ego operates and the "sacred sense of Presence." Fascinating ideas, definitely food for thought ;) I love how calm I feel after a tense week and I'm looking forward to many healthy meals before my next weigh in. Have a wonderful Sunday everyone
12/15/08: Week 4 ended rather wretchedly in a huge plate of take out chinese. My SO returned home sick so our plans for dinner and a movie were cancelled in favour of comfort food and reprising our infamous roles as couch potatoes. I wasn't going to weigh at all this morning, after two days of junk for dinner I didn't expect anything but what I got, a gain. I had peeked Wednesday morning and seen 208, probably one of the factors contributing to the tailspin, and it irks me that I feel the need to even mention that, like I am trying to excuse my bad behavior or mitigate my gain somehow. It's wierd, the closer Saturday comes the angrier I become, first rebelling with food and now waking up pissed off.
Today: I need to run to the store this morning having promised a friend salad for lunch when she comes by to meet the puppy and I need a couple of things... like lettuce! Depending on the wind chill factor I am hoping it will be warm enough for a bike ride this afternoon, and then some quality time with Kaylee in the back yard afterwards; the wind has wreaked havoic back there and it could use some TLC. Plus while out I need to pick up Across the Universe, a late V-Day present for my SO, i'm such a shmuck.
Also, last night I thought about starting a new journal, a handwritten one. Where every morning and every evening I would write out the list of my why's so that everything is fresh on my mind and it will be harder to 'forget' and slip into the old habits of comfort food. I have the perfect little pocket journal to use, and I think I will start this morning - once again trying to find ways of focusing on the positive instead of wallowing in grease and salt. Yuck. Leaving on a positive note, I hear the Universe calling...
"The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you,
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to Play"
ps I also can't leave without sending hugs and kisses out to everyone sending Valentines, you made my day and I promise to try harder, to keep it real, and to pay the love forward. I truly felt blessed checking for messages yesterday afternoon and finding so much to be grateful for.
12/13/08: I should have recognized the warning signs yesterday; overly optimistic & a little manic. The internal storm I have felt brewing hit today and I ordered in pizza. I didn't eat much, it was...ugh...and my SO can finish it when he gets home tomorrow. I tried deflating the feeling with a bud light, and have to admit it did take the edge off. But I have also ripped my nails off which feels horrible, YUCK. So tonight will be about filing everything smooth, drinking tons of water, and playing with Kaylee. I can see a strip of orange creme frosting the horizon from my window, a backdrop to the dark branches waving wildly in silhouette, the storm outside my feelings manifested. I give thanks for such a beautiful picture to finish the day; may I find a way to accept a little of it into my soul as I head into the evening.
2/12/08: It's gorgeous out today, amazing the resoritave powers a few sunny days can have on my soul, so much more effective than the full spectrum light I use. Last night I made a yummy bean soup for our dinner, and as is usual with soup the leftovers today are even better. I am just back from a bike ride and feeling confident of another 100% day, even though it's still early. But you can just tell, can't you? I love those feelings of balance and control. On my bike rides these last two days I have been listening to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Ozarks, (The Rediscovered Writings) and I am amazed how her insights from the early 1900's are still relevant today. I highly recommend this, the audio book is only two cassettes and makes great listening while out riding or walking (I found it at the library) but would also be a quick and worthy read. Anyway, it feels good to be back out on the bike. Oops, spring must really be heading our way, I can hear the Blue Jays outside begging for peanuts - later ladies ♥
2/10/08: I struggled last night, at one point I had my shoes on and my hand on the front doorknob, purse in hand and ready to head out for....and that is what stopped me, I wanted ANYTHING. And realizing I didn't even know where I was going or what I wanted was enough to put the brakes on. I didn't eat on plan and I did eat too much but at least I stayed home and didn't order pizza; popcorn, peanuts, cashew butter mixed with a little blue agave nectar on a banana. I hadn't eaten dinner, I didn't feel like cooking, basically stuck on the couch with Kaylee all afternoon. It's been so long since I've felt sick that I wasn't sure what was wrong at first, but after a visit with my daughter (that was fun, introducing her puggles to little Kaylee) I realized I was exhausted and just didn't feel good and hence the time on the couch. She suggested it might be the chemicals in the hair colour I had used that morning; I just can't spend $90 getting a trim and a partial highlight right now so I had picked up some colour for about $16 and touched up my roots myself. She was surprised it looked nice! lol, so was I! I'll trim the front this morning after my shower and pray I don't screw it up too badly. I'm going to clean the kitchen this morning, including cleaning out the fridge and planning dinner for the DD; this always helps get me started on the right foot for the week ahead. I feel better this morning; I've had my fruit and Oki and vitamins, and a couple cups of ginger tea and I feel fine. I was probably just fighting off something and needed the rest. As soon as I'm out of the shower I am going to put on my exercise pants so that I'm ready to take a bike ride as soon as it warms up a little, it has been way too long and even thinking about it wears me out. Pitiful.
2/9/08: I thought I would share this chart I just recieved from Safeway. They have a foodflex program that tracks what you buy and emails you a monthly summary. I am guessing the sodium was in the garden burgers I bought on sale - I need to stay away from them for awhile for MANY reasons. Oh yea, and the pita chips for superbowl, i'm sure they were loaded. But the chart is a great little monthly reminder to watch my shopping and helps keep me on track buying healthy foods. Look at that fiber % from all the fruits and veggies! Of course their notion of what 100% entails is just their opinion, so I ingest the info with a grain of salt (see I can be funny!) Next month the fat % will probably be high because I bought a couple of packages of guacamole yesterday; ingredients list = avocados, onion, cilantro and garlic - no chemicals or salts, a 'fast food' impulse buy. I know fresh is always better but I was at the wrong end of the store and had forgotten avocados while in the produce section, so there you are, lazy me again! And I did splurge on lunch while there. I had left the house without eating breakfast and found myself starving (like that could happen) while shopping. I ordered a veggie sandwich from the Deli on sliced sourdough, making her half the amount of avocado she was going to put on it, see healthy choices! I just always feel like I deserve something on the day I weigh-in. So that's two days in a row I have been off plan now (damn that cookie.) And I really need to stop thinking like that; I'm not off plan, I've just switched to maintenance mode for a couple of days! And I need to mow the lawn today so that's more exercise than I've had in a while, it will all balance out ;) I hope the noise doesn't scare the puppy!

2/8/08: Week three ended with me indulging in a fudge cookie yesterday afternoon; almonds, coconut, cocoa...raw foods combined to make a lucious treat I didn't even try to resist. I had stopped to run errands on the way home yesterday (dog collar etc) and saw a new Natural Foods store. So I stopped in just to see what they had. I picked up some Azuki Beans that I have seen on the BBC show 'You Are What You Eat' and some agave nectar...and then the table of cookies caught my eye. many choices, and I just had to take one home. I had been thinking about going into town for an organic cookie earlier in the week but luckily the distance was a deterant. But here was one right in front of me for the buying. And I did. I will say that once again, I didn't like the way my stomach felt after eating it, I guess I am never going to learn. In my defense lunch was a little stressful, my friend is having problems with her teenager and wanted to talk about Joey, which is fine, no matter how hard it is I love talking about my son and keeping him real, but I'm sure there was residual stress factoring in the decision to buy the cookie in the first place. That I am losing anything right now makes me happy, and I noticed my jeans were looser straight out of the dryer yesterday, which as many of you know is a wonderful feeling. But I don't feel like potatoes anymore this morning, and Kiwiis will be my breakfast when I eventually get hungry. I have had a hard time buying enough fruit, going from two servings to four pieces a day...well, figure it out, for a week that's 28 pieces of fruit - when is the last time you bought 28 pieces of fruit at one time at the store? I am using my longaberger bread basket for fruit on the kitchen counter plus a shallow japanese bowl of my grandmothers plus a wooden salad bowl. So it's back to the store, I hope I find another juicy honeydew melon, I think that was my favorite last week. I feel a picture coming on, I might be back later to post.

2/7/08: I am getting ready to meet a friend up at Wendy's during her lunchtime so she can give me the rest of her bag of puppychow now that I have officially adopted her puppy. Newly named Kaylee (from Serenity) following the tradition of naming pets after sci-fi or fantasy characters. Anyway, I was trying to figure out what to eat and had decided on splurging and having a potatoe with catsup when my inner voice asked, why do you need to eat anything? So I think I will have a cup of tea and visit while she eats lunch before heading back to work and then come home to eat my salad. I'll fix it before I go so it's ready to pull out of the fridge as soon as I get back. If I get hungry I could even start eating it before I go, but no fast food potatoe for me! I might consider making Popeye Potatoes for breakfast tomorrow if I have lost weight at the scale, getting in the potato without supporting a fast food chain. I am limiting starches right now feeling that I fall into the classification of 'women who have a hard time losing weight should cut back on grains and starches." So my potatoes will be mostly onions, peppers and spinach, an easy way to stretch the potatoes and get in some great nutrition while indulging myself. I know, I need a different reward than food, but I also know that once the thought is there I have already created the reality so I might as well tweak it and make it healthy ;)

2/6/08: Our Fat Tuesday dinner was nice, but I wish I had not wilted the mustard greens into the dish, even though the kids said it was good there is something about the texture of the greens and the heaviness they brought to the dish that bothered me. Next time I will do the same as I did for the black-eyed peas and dice up the greens fresh and toss them in just before eating, I think that will be better. But the cajun spices, lots of veggies, a can of red beans and just a cup of brown rice to the whole pot made a good combination. I cooked up some venison sausages (sweet italian) for my SIL and ended up having one later instead of fruit for dessert. Not the best choice, but they are very lean, and on the Life Plan I can have a serving of lean animal protein once in a while. I did splurge and make an olive oil and vinegar dressing for the salad last night, but the way I make it it's mostly water, vinegar, garlic bruised with a little sea salt and just a quarter cup oil for the whole batch. And lots of fresh ground pepper of course. But I used it sparingly, and it was so delicious and satisfying. So how long did my resolve, not even a whole day! But it's okay because my day was still mostly about nutrition, and I'm fairly sure it fell within the guidelines of eating 90% healthy for the day. And my SO is here for the day so he will finish off the sausages and I won't be left with them tempting me when he leaves again tomorrow. As I type Patsy is curled up under my feet, and my DD has me thinking about a basket to take her on bike rides. I will wait until she is full grown, but it's a fun idea. Back to food, try dicing up some fresh spicy greens to add some punch to your salad, they are packed with nutrition and make a nice change. HAGD

2/4/08: Having made a decision to welcome music back into my life, I have finally taken the time to start a playlist like so many of you have already done and it was fun finding old favorites. Yesterday was nice watching the game with little Patsy; the bean dip was yummy, there were a couple of fun commercials (lizards dancing to Thriller was great) and I didn't even mind the Patriots losing the Giants gave such a good game. But as I sat there feeling stuffed I realized that I would rather feel empty. I am so use to a diet of mostly vegetables and fruits that leave me feeling full but not stuffed, and I hated the feeling of the pita chips weighing heavy in my stomach. So I am glad to be back on plan this morning, and I hope to finish up February without further diversions. Since my SO is taking me out for a vegetarian dinner on Valentines (his idea) I should be fine getting through that day. No promises for the 16th, but I have lots of good ideas from a friend for that day (hugs Sandy) and plan on being out of the house and away from the kitchen. Gotta go play with Patsy! Have a great week everyone ♥

2/3/08: So far so good, I beat the crowds to the store and came away with salad greens, fruits and veggies, no fat added refried beans and baked pita chips. I chose the smallest bag with the least fat, but somehow on my way past the deli counter a bag of parmesan baked pita chips found it's way into my cart. I find it interesting that even though there are 2 more grams of fat per serving (2x9=18) there are only 10 more calories per serving listed on the Nutrition Facts. Aha! There is an extra gram of fiber per serving, the calories must be mitigated elsewhere in the chip. So now I have two bags of pita chips, which is dangerous. I'll go throw one of them in the back of the pantry cupboard, I'll probably forget them until they are stale but I have a hard time throwing food away. Refried beans were on sale and I stocked up on several cans, and I picked up some prechopped veggies to make soup as well as some cashew butter for salad dressings etc. And I passed on the Tofutti sr cream since the 2nd and 3rd words under ingredients were 'partially hydrogenated'. The large pink display of valentine chocolate didn't do a thing for me, nor did the cases of beer stacked at the end of the same aisle. The best part of the trip was a call from the friend who has a dappled dauchsund puppy left for sale. I haven't seen him since he was a month old, and I think he must be closer to three months now, and I am glad to be going to visit him (and my friend) later today. Hopefully I won't fall in love, I don't think I am ready for another dog just yet, but you never know, and I have been a little envious of Angela's new pups ;) ps. I did remember the curly mustard greens for my Fat Tuesday stoup on the 5th.

2/2/08: Rain falls, scattered drops are tossed about gently this way and that, not an exciting storm, just a damp and dreary day. Theatre popcorn is calling me, but that would mean actually getting dressed and my ribbed velour sweats are ever so comfy and warm. I have been thinking for days about what to eat tomorrow. My SO is on the road so it will just be me, no party snacks or drinks to tempt me. But it's the Superbowl and it doesn't seem right to treat it like just another day. I used to make a crock pot full of chile verde and have tons of sides for guests to build their own burritos or tostadas, so I was thinking mexican, maybe nachos made with black bean and brown rice chips, soy cheeze, tons of veggies and a little guacamole. Then thinking about going to the store yet again started me thinking about having veggie pizza delivered, but I have been on the other end of that idea - working superbowl sunday at a pizza parlour is quite the work out- and I don't want to go there. So once again my brain is in overdrive, why can't I just eat like normal? Why does the day have to be 'celebrated' with food? I am beginning to think that tradition is my worst enemy instead of being the security and comfort that it should provide, but I am the only one who can change that. As of now, I think a spicy bean dip with lots of minced veggies and either the brown rice or pita chips. And a big salad first of course. And maybe a strawberry smoothie for dessert later using soy milk and fresh berries. That way I can splurge without going too crazy, the chips being the only ingredient 'off plan'. I think that is better than ignoring the urge to celebrate in some small way and suffering a backlash later. So happy Superbowl tomorrow (Go Patiots) and may our choices be healthy!

2/1/08: Week 2: I am not surprised at the small loss this week; there are several days I didn't stay on plan, just minor lapses like not enough veggies, and too much grain, but last night was bad. And I suppose the best I can say about that is it could have been worse? But the physical effects were interesting. Salt was once again my undoing and I found myself chugging first a G2 my SO had in the fridge and then a bunch of water, trying to lessen the dryness inside my cheeks and on my tongue, it was horrible feeling so out of balance. And then getting ready for bed I noticed my breasts were so swollen it was like all the extra water had migrated there! Just an awful feeling. This morning my poor fingers are sausages, I'm still thirsty, and while I would love to blame 7-11 for all of this, in the end there is only me. I really just want to get through the next two weeks without gaining, and hopefully this awful feeling I have will keep me focused on the fact that food does not equal comfort, only an increased agony. So here I am fighting the fight, but at least this time I don't feel helpless and I'm looking forward to a day of fruit and vegetables and feeling better quickly. And while there is frost still covering the roof across the street, at least the sun is out this morning, and I always do better on those days. Lets see, what else can I say to leave on a positive note....well, maybe I will think of something over tea...

1/30/08: A new and unwelcome element of stress has entered my life and in the past two days my stomach has remembered what it feels like to have a dreadsome worry upon it. The story is not mine to share, but my reaction to the stress is; I am not turning to food. Okay, in all honesty I have to add 'yet' to the end of that sentence. But so far (this is a longterm situation) I am not 'stuffing my face' and wanted to share that small measure of personal success. On a lighter note, dinner was wonderful last night. My DD had requested Red Lentil Surprise (5th recipe down in the newsletter) which is more lentil than surprise, so while healthy (high in fiber, low in sugar & sodium, this would be a great NS carb) it's not on my six week Fuhrman plan, especially when served on toast (1 slice of sourdough.) I will use leftovers sparingly over my steamed greens as an accent, which should be quite lovely. One of the nice things about the recipe is that it only takes 30 minutes to cook and makes a ton, not to mention cheap to make! I also want to take a moment to note that I am not missing my afternoon snacks at all. No 3pm cravings, no 'hunger' pangs; beans on my lunch salads seems to stabilize blood sugars as I read they would, how wonderful is that! Who would have guessed that fruit for breakfast and a big 1/2# salad for lunch would be enough food for me! But it makes sense now that I know pound for pound my greens have more protein than meat, plus lots of calcium. Today I think I will have a tostada for lunch, refried beans and lots of hot sauce and cabbage...yum. And everyday I look forward to my 1/4 avocado and 1 ounce of seeds or nuts on my dinner salad, extra yum. Okay, off for a walk while it's still sunny since the rain is suppose to return. Have a good day

1/28/08: The sun lured me outside for a bike ride, but my nose drove me back home in only 15 minutes; I'm not sure why I thought it would be warmer today, lured by the warmth of the sun in my office I suppose. But at least I was breathing hard for a few minutes! Yesterday's emotions were sufficiently dampened by sourdough bread and today I am calm and back on track. I made a 'Golden Goddess' salad dressing to use sparingly made of Tahini, mild white Miso, silken tofu, vinegar and spices (the golden colour came from turmeric) and it is ever so yummy. I love experimenting and learning new ways to add nutrition into my meals; it will be nice to get to the point I don't need my EFA supplement because I am getting enough through the foods I am eating. I have brussels Sprouts trimmed and ready to steam for dinner, and it's interesting that what I have always considered a serving (11-12) is just half a pound, perfect for half my cooked greens for the day. I love it when I find out I have already been doing some small thing right! The other half pound will be a combination of leeks, peppers, onions, mushrooms, kale and jalapeno; a common dish these days I like it so much. And the bread? It sits on the shelf in the fridge, and so far I am not even tempted today.

1/27/08: As I posted on drivetopless just now, "Hi, I'm Vail, and I'm a stress eater." One of the most frustrating aspects of eating is the negative cycle of stress eating. For me it's a cumulative thing; one thing goes a little wrong, then another, then something topples me over the edge of my wall of righteousness and there I go tumbling like humpty dumpty to crack when I fall. And we all know the end result before we take that first bite: we're going to feel like crap later! We know this and still take the first bite, or in this case the first purchase. I had gone to the Winter Farmers Market in town (strike 1, no one wanted to go with me) and ran out of money before getting what I needed (strike 2). So I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to finish shopping. The cart brimming with veggies and fruit I went to pick up some garden burgers for a treat, and they were on sale so I bought two packages. This led to picking up a loaf of 9grain sourdough, and of course I convinced myself it was mostly for the SO and his DD that is over this weekend, thinking they could make healthy sandwiches at home instead of going out for fast food. While checking out the credit card was denied (strike 3) and then the coup de grace, while unloading the groceries I went to throw away something in the garbage under the sink and it's overflowing out the cupboard door onto my feet. ARGHHHH. The final straw only because it's a pet peeve of mine that anyone could leave that without taking it out and putting in a new bag. I mean really, how lazy and RUDE! SNAP...two pieces of bread go in the toaster, a garden burger goes in the microwave, the avacado and soy mayonaisse come out and in three minutes flat I am eating. And it's not that what I ate was so bad, I'll just have my salad later, it's the fact that I couldn't control the urge, driven by anger and frustration (stress) to stuff my face. I will say that I have been doing much much better in this area, I think focusing on the biology of eating has really helped me, and the plant based diet has really curbed cravings. But that feeling of being out of control for a few minutes still pisses me off. I really need to be able to grab a jacket and head out for a walk as a response instead of eating, I need to figure out a way to train myself so that the first gut reaction isn't food. Of course walking out the door would be admitting I am upset, obvious to anyone present, while eating is eating. So now that I have ranted my way through this I guess I need to address the issues that trigger me and maybe work it from that end. Damn it!

1/26/08: I was visiting mirish and it feels like Mardi Gras over there on her page, which inspired me to post a link to Fat Tuesday background info (mask up top); I am facinated by the whole celebration and how the Easter season evolved. It started me thinking about food (naturally) and how to veganize the traditional holiday fare. I think spicy red beans for Fat Tuesday, and Easter I will have to think about. For over 50 years every Easter has been about Ham, coleslaw & brown bread plus a scalloped potato dish of some sort. My DD, having read Skinny Bitch, says no Ham, but I haven't decided for sure yet. Maybe just a really small ham as a condiment; the Life Plan Dr. Fuhrman presents allows for a couple of servings of lean animal protein each week, but I will still be in my initial six weeks and am afraid of breaking form. Which leads me to think about consistancy, and how easy it is to fold once a break has been made. I liked what I read about eating 20 meals 'on plan' to make up for the one meal off; can I really have that one meal off and then be strictly back on plan? I think for me the answer is NO LEFT OVERS. Keeping only healthy choices in the house is so important for me. And cooking during the recent holidays really showed me that I need to use healthy ingredients in my traditional dishes and not use the holiday as an excuse to use the traditional recipes that always seem to include butter and cream and sugar; it was using the left overs that caused the weight gain, not the holiday meals themselves. So, I can make the Easter side dishes using healthy ingredients and made them the focus of the meal, and then have a very small ham as a condiment. A forkfull of coleslaw, brown bread and ham eaten together is simply heaven after all ;) We'll see.

1/25/08: I had to share what I just read (Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman) because it describes how I used to feel perfectly. He had been writing about feeling hypoglycemic, which I use to feel often, and how it is misdiagnosed and therefore mistreated.

"Delaying a meal brings about symptoms most people call 'hunger'. These symptoms include abdominal cramping, weakness, and feeling ill - the same as during drug withdrawal. This is not hunger. Our dietary habits, especially eating animal-protein-rich foods three times a day, are so stressful to the detoxification system in our liver and kidneys that we start to get withdrawal, or detoxification, symptoms the minute we aren't busy processing such food."

There is more to the explanation, but it's interesting for me to know why eating small portions of animal protein every three hours use to make me feel better, I was taking more of the 'drug' and eliminating the feelings of withdrawal. And to answer the question some of you might be asking right now... this eating plan supplies between 1200 & 1800 calories per day supplying approximately 40-70 grams of plant protein, which is plenty according to the World Health Organization. There is also an interesting chapter on mitigating type I diabetes and reversing type II completely.


1/24/08: I am newly awake, my body still heavy from sleep and warm from my cozy down bed. Somehow my natural sleeping pattern has been altered, everything having shifted forward a couple of hours. The insistent ring of my cell phone, followed by a strident voice announcing that she is calling for my Dr., that my cholesterol is too high, that she wants me on cholesterol lowering drugs and shall she call them in for me leaves me reeling. I tell her that while my numbers are a little high my ratios have improved, and that no, I don't wish to take a drug. I can feel the stunned silence at the other end of the phone line. I calmly and firmly ask for another order for bood work in six weeks since I have just started Dr. Fuhrman's eating plan. She has now gone from bullying to flustered as she takes down the spelling, and lets me know she will relay ALL this information to the Doctor. In a way I feel bad, it's almost as if my Ego were still asleep and my Id stepped forward to handle the conversation, I am not normally so foreright. Maybe it was her approach and making me feel like I was being scolded that stood my hackles on end and illicited my frim response. I had after all said last summer that I would consider using a drug if I couldn't improve my numbers through diet and exercise alone. But hopefully there will be no return call, just an email approving the new blood work in six weeks. I should say here that while everything else in my blood panel was normal, my triglycerides were high. When coupled with low HDL this apparently increases the chances of stroke, no little matter at my age, but while my HDL could be better, it is not low and I expect it to improve dramatically soon. But of course I must be accountable, and after more reading in Eat to Live I realize that even pasta made from whole grain is still refined and I shouldn't be eating that during this six week interval. And I definitely need to step up the exercise no matter the weather. So now I have something to prove not only to myself, but to my Dr. and her poor assistant. Many of you know the slippery slope of starting on meds; first it's for cholesterol, then high BP, then the supplements to counter the side effects and the next thing you know it's not one drug, it's ten. I'm not going there! I am more interested in solving the problem at it's fuel and activity level. Okay, ranting done! I left oats soaking in water last night, so I'm off to a healthy breakfast of whole grains and fruit. This call just reinforces my motivation to stick with Dr. Fuhrman's six-week plan to a T. Update: The Dr. office called and they have ordered more bloodwork so I can go back for a recheck in six weeks...I can hardly wait to see the difference!

1/23/08: Well, my blood work is back via email surprisingly fast (Kaiser) and while I am disappointed that my total cholesterol is up 20 points, I am glad that my LDL is down 20 points (174) but my HDL also went down by 3 points (53), which I suppose shouldn't surprise me given my lack of exercise lately. I wonder what that third factor is that went up 35 points? If you know drop me a line. Anyway, I finished off the cabbage boats at lunch today and plan to make soup for dinner since it's another cold day here (there was snow on the southern foothills of our valley Monday) and I'm thinking about stirring in a serving of the mac n cheese from yesterday thinking it will make the soup creamy. I am really enjoying this whole 'eating plants' thing. Update: Yep, adding the 'cheesy' noodles made a rich creamy broth for my veggie soup; wonderful wonderful wonderful!

1/22/08: I went to the lab to have blood drawn this morning, and I am hoping my cholesterol is down from eating mostly plants the past few months. I will ask for a comparative test the begining of March to see if eating more raw fruits and vegetables the next six weeks makes a significant difference; from what I have read it should. I made vegan mac n cheese tonight for dinner, and the funny thing is that it tasted like creamy chicken noodles and not cheese at all. Which is fine, I think the whole mac n cheese thing is more about the ooey gooey comfort than the taste anyway. So the noodles tasted good, rated high on the ooey gooey scale, and I imagine I will make the sauce again to use with broccoli and potatoes once I welcome starches back into my recipies. I measured out a cup, my grain for the day ( I used brown rice noodles) and served it with steamed broccoli, and lots of minced up fresh veggies in purple cabbage boats with a ginger dressing; my DD seemed to like everything, yay! Thoughts from the book today: bok choy, kale and romaine are all higher in calcium than milk, and "Eat to Live describes a diet that protects against osteoporosis." Important for all, but especially for us older ladies, eat your greens!

1/21/08(2): It's so strange to reach in the cupboard and have to make the mental shift from small bowl to large bowl. My two veggies tonight were brussels sprouts and Kale, but I simmered them with onions, yellow peppers & jalapeno. I threw in a 1/4C of brown rice, a can of rinsed pinto beans and some water and a veggie cube; what a yummy dinner it was! I had two helpings, chanting to myself that more veggies will equal more weight loss; it's really strange overcoming the conditioning from years of trying to eat small portions and calorie counting, but it feels right. And my handful of raw cashews today while I read was good without being....addictive like the salted roasted cashews can be; they were very satisfying.

1/21/08: When I weighed my salad veggies Friday afternoon at lunch I discovered that my special wooden salad bowl holds about half a pound of raw veggies when it is slightly rounded. So doing that twice a day will get in the pound of raw veggies I need; normally I would only have a salad that big once a day. I have to read some more in the book because I don't remember if the veggies I am cooking for dinner are weighed before or after cooking so I really don't have a good idea of quantities on them yet, but the pound is a minimum so lots of veggies. Today I shop for fruit and salad dressings; there was a list of commercial dressings at the back of the book with the recipes: Rising Sun Farm, Annie's, and Spectrum Naturals to name a few. Reading this morning I came across a summary sentence, "Stop measuring portions and trying to follow complicated formulas. Instead, eat as many vegetables, beans and fresh fruits as possible, and less of everything else." Here is a link to his food pyramid (211.2 this morning, I peeked)

1/20/08: A Three Star Weekend!! Just back from LA and hardly know where to begin. Well, with the food of course ;) Friday we snacked on fruit and veggies in the car on the way down, and zipping along with my DD driving we got to LA so fast we didn't stop at all, making it in 4 hours (don't ask). So no fast food, that is our first little gold star. Then I had oatmeal w/blueberries for breakfast Saturday, the DD and I ordered lettuce wraps and a veggie burger at the Elephant Bar for lunch that day and shared. I will try to duplicate the lettuce wrap dish, it was so delicious. (2nd star) Dinner that night at Buca di Beppo I skipped all the bread and meat dishes, having really tiny portions of lasagna (just the sauce and noodles) and fettuccini plus green salad and roasted veggies. They serve family style there and I was at the mercy of the birthday boy who was ordering, but since my DM announced that I was 'trying to go vegetarian' everyone was overly solicitous of me - just what I wanted, attention on the fat girl while the skinny people fill up on pizza and cheese bread. I'm almost 53 and she is still trying to micromanage; no wonder I live 4 hours away! Anyway, I did have one glass of house Chianti and skipped dessert (3rd star). Then oatmeal again for breakfast this morning, and we picked up subway sandwiches when we stopped for gas on the drive home. I had the veggie patty (4th star) with thin sliced cucumbers, red onions, pepperocini peppers and spinach on the 6" honey oat bread. I have no idea of the ingredients in the bread, but I was thinking I was due a treat by that point (minus 1 star, should have had a salad, but the sandwich was very good and will be an acceptable meal when the six weeks are over.) Getting home was hard; I got here just at 5pm and ready for dinner and the SO had some 'all meat' pizza left over in the fridge. There is nothing like being hungry and tired and opening the fridge to see a pizza box. I tried my best and started pulling out ingredients for a bean burrito and salad, but as he pulled out the pizza for himself I did nab a bite off the very end of one piece. So I put the tortillas back and made a tostada on the plate instead. Then later as he passed through the kitchen getting himself more pizza as I did my dishes I took another bite. But two bites compared to past indiscretions with pizza is nothing (small mouth=small bites.) And now writing this I can feel those two bites sitting heavy in my stomach and I'm glad I didn't have any more than that. There should be a rule about no pizza in the kitchen at the same time as the person making a healthy dinner! Speaking of which, my dinner was so easy and quick; 1/2 can 98%FF vegetarian refried beans on a plate mixed with half a diced fresh jalapeno and a few dashes of mild taco sauce and 1/4C cooked brown rice. I mixed it together and spread it out on the plate. While it was heating in the microwave I sliced up about 7 black olives and half a tomato and pulled out the bag of shredded cabbage. When the beans were hot I piled the fresh veggies and olives on top and sat down to eat. Next time I will take the time to add in more diced veggies to the beans and add sliced green onions on top, but I was hungry and wanted to get something in me fast to avoid the pizza. The creamy beans and spicy peppers were so satisfying, and it was very quick to make. So even though I didn't stick to my eating plan 100% I am counting the weekend a success and I think I might even peek at the scale in the morning. (ok, ok... the fastest was 110mph but it was only for a moment.)

1/18/08: I weighed in this morning to start my six weeks of following the Eat to Live guidelines, and was surprised to see I am up again. I've been overly emotional the past couple of days and I'm wondering if hormones are tilting the scale. Of course my book finally arriving and having spent the evening reading and snacking on carrots and raisins had nothing to do with it! The more I read Dr. Fuhrman's book the more it seems to make sense and I am very hopeful that I will see some weight loss soon. He talks a little about overweight women who have tried everything, and per his instructions I think I will stay away from the starchy foods for at least the first few weeks. I have probably gone overboard with peas and corn and sweet potatoes lately; a backlash from depriving myself I suppose. But knowing I can add them back in soon to a healthy eating plan is encouraging. I think I have enough info to make appropriate choices in LA for the next couple of days, and at this point I am looking forward to the challenge. While I'm gone, if you haven't already clicked on the Free Rice picture up top and discovered the word challenge go ahead and have some fun. I try to get to 1000 grains of rice each time I go there; I guess all this reading has paid off, I do pretty well at guessing! Have fun and have a great weekend.

1/17/08: I have a borrowed copy of Eat to Live and the guidelines for my next six weeks seem simple and very doable; partly because I have come so far already by eliminating almost all dairy and meat, unhealthy fats & processed foods from my diet. An example of a simple day is fruit for breakfast, a salad with lots of fresh veggies plus beans and more fruit for lunch, and another salad with two cooked veggies for dinner and fruit for dessert. Some of the daily guidelines are to have 4 pieces of fruit a day, 1# of raw leafy greens, 1# of cooked greens, and up to a cup of whole grains or starches. I can have an ounce of raw nuts, 2oz of avocado and 1T of ground flaxseed each day. The key is the amount of food, tons of raw veggies and cooked greens to load up on nutrients. I'm going to check out some vegan websites to get dressing ideas too. I already eat big salads and lots of veggies, and he recommends soup - we all know I don't have a problem with that! So really the only change will be to watch my whole grains & starches to make sure I don't go over a cup, and I've already been downsizing those quantities. What I will be eating is so similar to following the McDougall recipes that it should be easy to adapt, I already have a stockpile of ingredients to use, the biggest difference will be no snacking. Dr. Fuhrman notes that filling up on nutritionally dense meals will alleviate the desire to snack along with food cravings so I hope that won't be too much of a challenge...I am so used to eating smaller portions every three hours it will be strange to try to eat big lunches and dinners. But he makes it sound like the weight will just start falling off. When I get back from LA (leaving tomorrow) I'll make a chart for the six weeks to track how it goes; it looks like depending on exercise and metabolism it could be anywhere from 1-4 #'s a week lost. I will start tonight, do my best while visiting my mom (we're going to Buca di Beppo Saturday for dinner and the Elephant Bar for lunch, God help me) and finish up the six weeks just before my Birthday; perfect timing

1/16/08: The scrape of metal against ice is a sharp precise sound, made as lines are drawn down the ice rink by the skaters as they circle around and around. Small edges of shaven ice rough up the surface in graceful curls that are left by the more advanced and graceful, while the beginners leave trails of staggered chop marks that record their passing. The strength to leave the ice and twirl through the air before ending in a smooth gliding landing is incredible to watch; where do they find the courage, what was it like for them taking that first leap of faith required to believe they would land feet first and not go skidding down the frozen floor on their bum, breaking god knows what in the process as they left the ice for the first time. This was answered for me as we watched a young man practicing his jumps while in a harness hanging from the rafters, its end in the hands of his teacher. It was fun to watch from the safety of the second floor coffee shop, and I was glad to be there remembering how it felt to be on the ice without having to actually face the cold and lace up skates. Sandy (LotusJade) and I were there to watch Susan (SockMonkeyNinja) skate; a field trip for my new Tennessee friend while she is visiting here in California, and we kept an eye on Susan in her class at the end of the rink while we visited over tea and coffee...which we didn’t pay for! Of course it wasn’t until about 8pm this evening that I remembered that. As we were getting ready to leave Susan asked the Zamboni driver ( to take our picture (using phones since we forgot cameras) and we were chatting away as we headed out and down the stairs and I never gave it a second thought; they are going to think I am crazy when I call tomorrow! I really wish I had taken my camera, but this will have to do.

vailsuesandSandy and I ended up enjoying the afternoon sun while lunching on wonderful salads and taking turns holding her new granddaughter Lilah; she is so tiny and precious and her mother just beams with happiness. It was a wonderful afternoon and it felt so special to be surrounded by the three generations. Again, I wish I hadn’t forgotten my camera. But the good feelings from today will last a long time....good memories. I am really challenging myself to participate more in my life and today is a perfect example of why it's a good idea to get up off the couch each day. ps a garden burger divided between 2 corn tortillas and a cup of the KF soup made a great dinner.

1/15/08(2): Well, at the library I found out the book I wanted was at the downtown branch, so I headed there(it probably won't kill me to wait a couple more days for my copy of the book to arrive in the mail) but since I needed to pick up fruit and salad greens and didn't want to waste the gas I stopped at the grocery store instead. While at the store I was overcome by a craving for a burger. Totally wierd. So I picked up a pack of Garden Burgers, 'California' flavour, and tried to find the best bun. And couldn't find anything that fits my criteria (nothing hydrogenated, no HFCS, and no dairy). So I started thinking sourdough and ended up buying Beckmann's 9 Grain Sourdough. Simple straight forward ingredients, no dairy or oil, and the best part is that it is delicious. Or maybe that is the worst part. I used a soy based lite mayo and dijon mustard on the sandwich and a thick slice of tomato...and I was in heaven! I can't remember the last time I had a sandwich. And my first bite was everything I could have wanted in a burger substitute, full of flavor and hearty, and it was good till the last crumb was gone - it wasn't just a first impression tease. The wierd part was getting hungry only 2 hours later, but I just had a cup of my Kale Fennel soup and I'm good to go. (The soup is really wonderful now that I've blended everything and it has the testure of a rough pea soup) I am a little nervous about having the bread in the house, especially since I toasted a slice to dip in my soup (really really good) but I don't have anything bad to spread on it (fat or sugar) so hopefully I won't binge. I guess I started thinking about bread yesterday, and I guess I need to decide how much I want to have bread in my life. Because the choice is to either 1. control myself, eat in moderation and not let it control me or 2. deprive myself by not having it in the house because I can't be trusted. How sad that I can give a small loaf of bread such power, but I do love bread and I'm going to try really hard for option 1; we all know where deprivation leads...the same place as good intentions. Okay, time to go pedal off my sourdough thighs before the next wind storm hits.

1/15/08: The soup was good, but the mixture of chopped & blended veggies was a little strange. I think as I heat up leftovers I will blend everything together like the pea soup. The final batch was about 25 cups of soup, so ten servings would be about 2 1/2 cups each, a nice big bowl so I'm glad I passed on making bread. Yesterday was the first day of the new year I can actually count as 100% for food, water and exercise, it was really hard getting myself out the door for my bike ride, but as always, once out there I was glad to be riding. Oh, and my burrito salad was excellent even without the lite sour cream that was once such a stable in my 'diet'. I thought going no dairy would be really hard, but I guess I have been weaning myself off cheese for quite a while so this last has been relatively painless eliminating cream cheese, sr cream and parmesan. But I do think parmesam might be something I add back in moderation once I am past the losing phase...see, a positive affirmation...I will get past the losing phase, all evidence to the contrary. My field trip for today is the library - yesterday reminded me that CD's and biking don't mix as well as cassettes and biking. And there are enough leftovers that I don't need to cook today, well, maybe pumpkin pancakes for breakfast with cinnamon apples....

1/14/08: First let me brag about the pea soup, it was incredibly wonderful, even Mrs. Anderson would have been jealous! We each had a big bowl for lunch, and I was practically humming as we slurped up spoonfulls of the rich green delight. On to today -> I have spent the morning chopping up vegetables for the Kale Fennel soup, and despite the toll on my back I found a certain satisfaction in producing the great mounds of crisp little squares; the golden skin of parsnips set off by their white centers & the crunch of fennel as the knife sliced through the pale green bulbs was pleasing to my eyes and ears. I would normally fix a smaller batch, but I was compelled to follow the recipe without adjusting for quantity, and will end up with ten servings of soup. I just hope it turns out wonderful so I can share. I was surprised by the proportion of the seasonings & legumes to the vegetables, I thought I had been doing well using about a 3:1 ratio of lentils to veggies, but this recipe is more like...I don't know, 20:1? Anyway, it is interesting to see another's perspective of what they consider to be healthy. So now the wait while the pot sits over a slow heat; I had thought to have this for lunch, but it took me so long to prep will be closer to dinnertime before it is ready. The burritos for dinner last night were yummy and there are leftovers to make a spicy salad for lunch so that works. I am tempted to make a quick bread ( to have with the soup tonight, but I am not confident I could stick to a single serving, so I might pass on that. We'll see.

1/13/08: Yesterday I used the hambone leftover from Christmas to make stock; the ham had arrived on our doorstep via ups one day, a gift from a friend. It worked out perfectly- the SO had 'meat' in the house during the christmas challenge when I was eating plants for 12 days. This morning I pulled off the layer of fat that had risen from the stock overnight, and now it is the base for our split pea soup today. When shopping last week I had picked up a container of Mirepoix (diced carrots, onions & celery) from the produce department; that's the kind of fast food I love, so it was easy to throw the soup together. One of my Christmas presents was the Earth2 series on DVD. This is the SciFi series I watched a dozen years ago and stole the name of the little girl for my dog, True. I find it amazing to be able to watch this again after so long, kudos to the wonders of technology. But back to the soup, I added in some poultry seasoning ( a fast way to get sage, thyme & marjoram into a dish), white pepper and turmeric (heart health) and now it is simmering away on the stove. The comforting smells I associate with stuffing permeate the house, elevating my mood, and I am glad peas don't take long to cook; so a DVD and soup for lunch today! Dinner will be veggie burritos; there is a ripe avacado in the kitchen and a fresh jalapeno, perfect to make a nice salsa, Yum. I did run to the store this morning to pick up the bag of split peas, so while I was there I grabbed what I need to to make the first cruciferous soup - Kale Fennel - so that will be on tomorrow's menu. Happy Sunday everyone from sunny California! And if you need some motivation be sure to see the pics Connie (Cobra1205) posted! ps there were some interesting thoughts here in the archives
1/12/08: I have several soup recipes to try from Dr. Fuhrman, luckily I have a freind with access to the recipes (Thank you Michelle ) The basic difference from how I traditionally make soup is that the greens are taken out part way through, blended and then added back. There are some ingredients I am looking forward to trying too, parsnips, fennel and collard greens to name a few. And that might be the most interesting part of the recipes, broadening my comfort level using different foods thereby increasing the selection of foods I am eating. There are so many micro nutrients I'm afraid of missing now! While browsing around this morning I found this article that I found interesting (no, I'm not going 'raw') I'm not ready to go back to the store yet, but I'll post anything that comes out delicious. ps the sun is out and I'm airing the house out, maybe some fresh air will help get me off the couch!
1/11/08: It's another quiet grey day, and cold again, but this morning lying in bed and flipping around the TV channels I found a new Stretch and Flex program to tape. It seems that where I couldn't find anything in December, here in January everyone is more 'fit' minded and more choices are popping up. I set a pilates program to tape at something like 2am...who is doing pilates at 2am??? My exercise yesterday was sweeping the heavy wet leaves into piles and loading up the greenwaste cart. It felt good to be outside working during a break in the rain, and while I was a little too exhuberant about ripping out the brown stalks of the calla lillies and will regret the bulb pieces I tossed away come the spring, at least it looks a lot better now and not so yucky after our freezing weather. I also took the opportunity to refill all the bird and squirrel feeders and everyone is out there feasting today; it makes me feel good to know they have a place they can count on in the midst of our unusually cold season.
1/10/08: Okay, everytime I look at the beach picture I wish it were a better reflection of us, because in person Sandy looks younger, thinner and prettier, and so I have to believe that in reality I too must look better than what I see here. But seeing it again tonight all I can think about is that I can hardly wait until my face changes! Which is rather a bit of a disappointment, because I should really be beyond caring what I look like at this stage of my life, knowing that there are much more important factors to me than my face. Then again, I suppose that part of the glory of being here in this world is that we do have a physical presence, and that our body is part of the whole package; maybe we should take some pride in the molecules that swirl about holding our spirit in place, maybe it's not about ego but about balance. There is that whole 'mind body connection' component to consider. One of the things I struggle with is that my mind is not ready to go where a healthy fit body will take me, and I understand that I am not the only one in this predicament. So now that I have talked myself around in a circle, and realize that I am at best just rambling at this point, I will sign off after conceeding that wanting to look healthy is not vanity, but rather a need to present an accurate reflection of one's self to the world...and to ourselves.
1/9/08: A day at the Beach! We had lunch first, who but Sandy (LotusJade) would go to a Vegan restaurant with me? Wonderful veggie, noodle soup, spicy kung pao veggies and brown rice, all wonderful, and a surprise ending of red bean soup that was warm and sweet. Then off to Half Moon Bay to see the Ocean, pics in W8Book profile. And lots of you were there with us too as we talked about food, family, and how you inspire us
Half Moon Bay, CA

1/8/07: Yesterday was one of those easy food days. The popcorn kept me full for three hours, I had a light lunch, no snack and a light dinner and then a honey-wrap for dessert. I wonder if starting the morning out with something savory instead of sweet made a difference? I think I am going to pick up some nutritional yeast today; not only is it an ingredient for the dairy free mac n cheese recipe I want to try but is also a front contender for a low-sodium popcorn topping. I think that plus some dried jalapeno will be my first experiment if I make it to the store, which is all the way down town (ten minutes drive) and in the opposite direction of the book store, so that might not happen today. I did make a wonderful dish last night. I used a prepackaged blend of peas and macaroni, and did the initial quick soak (boil 2 minutes, turn the heat off and let sit covered for an hour), then dividing the mixture and setting half aside. After straining the remaining half, I stirred in a cup each of diced artichoke hearts, edamame, corn, red bell pepper and one large shallot and medium jalapeno. Being out of vegetable broth I used chrysanthemum tea for the liquid (I swear it tastes like artichokes) and let it bake away for an hour. I didn't sautee the veggies first, and it was nice to have a sweet crunch from the corn and beans, and yes I remembered to chew chew chew; it was nice to savour the different flavours, and the colours made it very festive.

1/7/08: In researching salt I was once again reminded of how much information is out there for us to weed our way through looking for flowers, and of how easily I am sidetracked. Having just finished a spicy lunch I drank down half a bottle of water and wondered…is this helping? So back to the computer and here is a distillation of what I have been reading. Apparently drinking water just before, during or after a meal dilutes the digestive juices and can slow down or hamper digestion, while chewing helps produce more of the juices we need to help digestion along. I know I have read before that we should chew our food ‘properly’, which makes sense – the smaller the piece the better chance of nutrient to be absorbed. But I hadn’t really considered how important chewing is to the overall process. When we chew we produce more saliva, the first line of digestion. When we take the time to chew, we naturally eat slower giving our body the time it needs to register that we are eating and in turn indicate fullness so we don’t over indulge. And in thinking about it, if we chew more, digest better, and thus absorb nutrients more fully; maybe we would get enough nutrition from our meal, instead of being ready for the next meal so quickly in an effort to satisfy our nutritional requirements. We wouldn’t, after all, mix water with gasoline in our cars. An interesting idea and, I think, one that is worth pursuing. It also makes me think about how often I tend to overcook vegetables when making my one-pot dishes. I think I need to adjust cooking times so that there is more to chew, instead of just having a gooey mess; sometimes I hardly need to chew at all as everything just slides right on down past my teeth. Not an inspiring visual at all! I have already made progress with my salads, adding more dark greens and cruciferous veggies, and I do take some extra time making sure I chew them well (this after eating with a cousin a while back and feeling like somewhat of a pig as I watched her put her fork down between bites) and not just inhale them. I have discovered there is much more flavour to be had in a salad by doing this too. So now I have more to add to my ‘eat when hungry’ week; except for the necessary sip, not drinking water with meals, cooking my veggies more aldente and taking more time to chew. I have been eating so much more fresh food in the past few months, and had expected better results; maybe changing how I am eating will make a difference. And of course I always remember if I would\could just exercise regularly, I always lose those weeks. But that, as well as salt, are topics for another day ;)

1/7/08: Popcorn for breakfast! It's a whole grain, so why not? And 280 calories for 6 cups seemed reasonable. My SO brought it home last night, late; I had been out for days and wanted some but had already had my pomegranite for 'dessert' so passed on making some. But this morning it was calling my name. I am so used to the small 100 calorie packs, but he brought home the big 2-serving bags of a brand I was unfamiliar with. I threw one in to nuke, and read the ingredients while it was popping; WHY ON EARTH IS THERE NON FAT MILK IN THE POPCORN? Did it keep me from eating the popcorn? No. And something else I hadn't seen and have to research, fractionated palm oil. What the heck is that? Big Sigh...I'm full of popcorn and going to do my research while I take a book-break. Well, here it is, not good: But at least he also brought home regular popcorn that I can put in the air-popper. I told Kelly I would research salt alternatives this week, so that is my next 'keep busy' project. It would be wonderful to find something to mix with the popcorn to make a 'salty' treat that satisfies without the sodium or fat of chips etc.

1/6/07: Still reading, seven books down....four books to go. The good news is that I have to leave the house to go get the three books that have been written since I last read this series. Road Trip!!

1/5/07: Purple Oatmeal! I often add raisins to my Irish Oats as they simmer away, cooking them in the oats instead of adding them afterwards adds a sweetness to them, reducing the amount of sweetner needed at the end. I would imagine that at some point in my life the need for the sweetness will decrease, but for now I can't eat oats plain. But I was out of raisins this morning, and so added frozen blueberries instead. How fun to watch the colour change from golden to purple, and I can hardly wait until my late breakfast is ready. This is the first morning I am waiting until I am hungry before eating, and I am surprised by how late it is. 10am! Normally I have eaten by 8, so this will push everything back for the whole day I would imagine. The OC in me will track when I eat today just for curiosities sake, so I will update later.


As it turns out I still had six small meals, some of them just close together. Now I have to learn between what is truly hunger and what is just wanting to eat. But t never stuffed myself, these were all small to average portions.

10 Oatmeal 1
12 Bean Soup
1:30 Salad
3:30 Broccoli Cass
6:30 Bean Soup
7 1/2 Pom

January Storm

1/4/08: Holy Hurricane Batman! They are going to have to lower our high property taxes if this weather keeps up; where is my clement california weather??? I'm making stroganoff for lunch today; we're both home, the weather is horrible, and it will be a nice hot meal. I'm using brown rice noodles, veggies, and tofutti sour cream, and I'm seasoning it with turmeric, paprika & garlic. I hope its yummy! Meals like this are all about making sure the ratio of veggies to noodles is very high, and watching the portions. Using small bowls, eating slowly and taking time to actually chew the food, then rinsing my bowl and finding something to distract myself so I'm not tempted by seconds. That should be easier knowing I can have another bowl when I get hungry in a few hours if it turns out as good as I expect. I'm just praying that the tall eucalyptus out front doesn't bowl over....

1/3/08: I guess I've decided to use the Blog I set up last October and then forgot about. I've posted the link on my w8book profile since for my computer the NS site is too frustrating. I'll still be checking on everyone and sharing information here, but my "writing" will be over there. This is after all, a weight loss support group, not a creative writing forum! So while I am sure there will be overlaps, I will try to keep this for weight realated posts, and the blog for everything else. That being said, we ate the last of the cinnamon buns this afternoon (perfect snack for a grey winter day) and I finally feel like the holidays are over. Whew! There is nothing left to tempt me and I am so glad. I did break down and weigh in this morning, and I'm up 5#'s, half of the usual holiday damage, so not too bad. But I'm not posting new numbers until Sunday, my normal weigh in day. The four days of rain that are predicted are not going to help defray that gain, but a diet high in veggies and lots of water should help. I really love making soups in the winter; don't forget to eat your Kale and other dark greens that are so important this time of year! I love Kale (purple or green) diced up in salads and tossed in with veggies too; it adds a nice crisp punch besides being loaded with nutrients. Check it out at:

1/2/08: I made it to the store today and picked up brussels sprouts for the barley beef stoup I wanted to make. My DD called me from her work to see if I would like company for dinner even if she didn't have school, she is such a sweetie Anyway, since I have been distracted and scorching things lately I used my castiron dutchoven and cooked the dish the same way I did the black-eyed peas, starting everything on the stove then moving it to the oven to finish. Much easier than having to remember to 'stir occaisionally'. We had a nice chat over dinner, and she shared some info from a book she recently read, Skinny Bitch. There are a couple of key ideas that are so contrary to everything I have been taught that I wanted to share. 1. Don't eat right away in the morning. Let your body finish it's cleansing cycle and let you know when it is time to eat by saying that it's hungry. Once you feel hungry, have a piece of fruit and wait ten minutes. If you are still hungry eat a 2nd piece of fruit. And after another ten minutes if still hungry eat your 3rd and final piece of fruit. I haven't read the book, but it sounds like they want us to break our fast with something that digests quickly - how exactly opposite is that from my morning oatmeal and eating within the first hour to raise metabolism? Okay, on to number 2. Always eat fruit before the main course. It digests faster, and if you eat it at the end of the meal it sits and 'ferments' on top of whatever it is that you ate first that takes longer to digest; I wasn't too clear on the ramifications of that, and we know that ferments isn't the right word. I'll have to wait to read the book. 3. Never eat before you are hungry, always wait until you feel hungry. The body has a specific set of chemical reactions designed specifically to ensure that we 'fuel up' as needed. I think the concept is that if we miss the beginning of the chemical cycle (hunger) we are screwing up the process from the start. All three of these ideas are so contrary to what I typically do. I've been trained to eat within an hour of rising and to have lots of fiber so I stay full and have energy all morning. Then to eat before I am hungry so that I don't over indulge. And while lately I have been snacking on tangerines while I prepare my food, normally I would save my fruit for the 'dessert' portion of my meal. So I am curious to read the book and see their explanations. LOL, here I am again grasping at trying something different and hoping for the miracle answer to my weight problem! And even as I wonder about blood sugar levels and only eating fruit for breakfast, I am all gung ho to try it. But not before I read the book! Here's a link to a video interview with the authors. and a write up by ivillage If nothing else it will give you something to do for half an hour browsing around ;)

1/1/2008: Happy New Year Everyone ♥ The omens for a good year are already manifesting; Harry and I cooked together in the kitchen this morning! This after shopping together yesterday for the ingredients we needed to make black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread for New Years Day. (We NEVER do either of those things together!) It was the perfect meal, healthy enough for me and hearty enough for him. And all his idea! I haven't felt this close to him in a long time and it's rather nice. For our beans we combined a couple of recipes and ended up with a tex-mex version of the southern dish, using spicy jalapenos, tomatoes, onions and garlic to flavour them. I am not a fan of boiled greens, so he cooked mustard and collard greens with ham (they smelled wonderful) letting them simmer away while the peas were baking, and I diced up fresh kale to add to my bowl of peas so we both got what we wanted in a nutrition packed feast. It's another cold day here, the wind icy and brisk; I have just finished the fourth book and will drag myself out for either a walk or a ride before starting the fifth in the series. I'm thinking about not weighing for a while, not having a beginning number for the year, and just focusing on practicing the things we all know: portions, water & exercise. I am sure that once the leftovers are finished I will gravitate back towards a vegetarian diet, I miss the energy! In the meantime I made stock yesterday from the ribs of the christmas roast, and it will eventually be the base for a barley\beef stoup that will be mostly veggies. Waste not want not! I am looking forward to reading the book by Dr. Fuhrman that I ordered, Eat for Life, and incorporating some of his ideas into my meal planning. So lots of positive energy heading into the new year. I feel I am on track for a sustainable way of eating, the gloom of the past few days is lifting, and I'm looking forward to feeling progress in the fit of my jeans. While not making any resolutions, I do have some goals that I will try to keep in mind as I head out into the year. Onederland by February and giving away my size 18 shorts this spring because they will be falling off of me. Meeting my sister for a weekend of surfing this Summer and then giving away my size 16 shorts and jeans in the fall when I switch out wardrobes for the Winter. Finally, I want to be wearing size 14 jeans for the holidays next year. Today I believe this is all possible, and at some point this week I need to start learning how to make a pretty chart to keep track of these goals, and figuring out how to mark my achievements since I won't be earning bears ;)

12/31/07: Well, I disappeared into a trilogy and have been reading fairly constantly since taking the BART train into Oakland on Friday. I have a word hangover and haven't been outside since lunch Saturday. The bad news is that there are six more books in the series ;) I did make a wonderful curry quinoa stoup yesterday, craving veggies and trying to recover from a foray into the world of chocolate :( I know this is the backlash from Friday, having to relive the events, and I know it's no big deal to hide out for a couple of days trying to lose the images the meeting brought to mind; it's so easy to get lost in the world of Devvery (Katharine Kerr.) But what is disturbing is going back into my journaling and looking at the entries from this time last year. I was so pumped up and positive I was finally ready to lose weight. But despite all of the details that might be different now, it seems like nothing has really changed. I'm still unable to exercise much, I'm still medicating with food and books, I'm still swinging between overly optimistic and WTF, I'm not back to work yet and I'm several pounds heavier than I was then. I will admit that I have had more positive days and less mood swings over the last several months. But those slight improvements seem so small in the overall picture. Last year I had just started the 100 day challenge, and was counting down to surf camp determined to be stronger and slimmer so I could really enjoy the experience. And while I did make improvements towards those ends, I didn't come close to losing the 30#'s I wanted to shed, and still had to wear my size 16 bathing suits. Connie's holiday challenge brought me back to my purple bear weight, but after the past few days I really don't want to get on the scale because I know it's going to be gone. So here I am, just a little sad, and trying to count my blessings and look forward instead of back. I have to trust that all of the small changes I have made in the past few months will make a difference this coming year. Heck, I could live another 40 years; so what if it takes me another year or so to get my bearings back as long as I keep working towards my goal of health and happiness and not let these upsets totally derail me. There is a small voice inside me as I type this, reminding me that I could have given up entirely and been back to 230, or could even have eaten my way into more pounds and trouble than that. But I didn't; I kept fighting, kept researching, kept trying new things and never gave up for more than a few days at a time. I still have a deep seeded belief in the abilities of the healthy, athletic woman that lives inside of me, and I know she will eventually break free, and I am so glad of your company while I work on getting her out! Your strength and humour, your accompilshments and the way you support each other and me, is awesome. I can sit down on a dark day and after reading just a few short sentences I am ready to slay dragons. While I may be disappointed I am still fat, I am glad to count so many new friends, and I am looking forward with a smile, knowing 'great changes are afoot'.

May we all have a safe New Year's Eve and a happy successful New Year

12/29/07: A grey quiet day, perfect for reading. Harry took us to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch, and while the decor was beautiful inside, the menu was so rich and there were so many choices I just froze up and ordered the Rigatoni with roasted tomato sauce, eating half of the lunch sized portion. We did bring home cheesecake for dessert later, I can't seem to get through a whole day without something extra...but I should be maintaining. We'll see in the morning how delusional I am ;)

12/28/08: I know I shouldn't drink and post, but oh well. Two glasses of wine (slimjinxy's got my back on the whole NS wine thing) a handfull of sugar free chocolate and three slices of vegetarian pizza and I have to admit I am self medicating this evening. The DA's office says they are asking for a continuance till the end of March (I can't share why) so this isn't going to be over in January like we expected. But I know I will be okay in the morning. Oatmeal, vegetable soup, a big salad, lots of water and I will be back on track. Ye Gods, what a day. It was freezing in Oakland, but the view of Lake Merritt from the window of the conference room at the court house was spectacular. A dozen shades of grey, wind on the water, bare trees framing the lake, low clouds and wispy fog and brighly scarved walkers on the surrounding was a scene right out of a screenwriters pen. If only I hadn't been the one looking out the lead paned windows. It's freezing here tonight, not really, only 41 is forecasted, but I think the fog adds a chill factor. And it's only six and it feels like midnight, will this day never end???? I wish I could curl up in my PJs and have someone read me a story...oh yea, that's what my audio books are for! Oh well. Tomorrow will be better, it has to be. ARGHHH, I feel like Aniken turned least it's just for a few hours and not a lifetime. On a more positive note, I ordered "Eat to Live" by Dr. Fuhrman this morning, I think it was my act of defiance in anticipation of a challenging day. And posting here tonight is like stepping into a confessional, knowing forgiveness is at hand no matter what. "The sun will come out tommorrow..." finish it up, I always sing a little off key ;)

12/27/08: Yesterday's bike ride was all about the numbers. How fast I was going, how far I went, what time it, can you tell Santa (Harry) brought me an odometer for Christmas? It was fun playing with the buttons, guessing at distances, and pushing myself to keep to at least 8mph. I found out my 40 minute ride is now only 30 minutes so I need to start venturing out farther from the house. There is still quite a bit of bike path I can add on, back to where I used to walk before the whole foot problem crisis a couple of years ago. My circuit back then on foot was five miles and I am anxious to start wracking up some better mileage on the bike now that I can track how far I am going. Santa also brought a pouch to hang on the handle bars so I have a place for my cassette player, camera, phone, keys, gloves & chapstick all within easy reach! Speaking of which it is time for my next marsh photo today; everything is brown and dismal down there now after the freezing temperatures we've had, but it will be nice to watch as it changes each month heading towards spring, and hopefully I will be changing right along with it this year.

12/26/07: While it felt great to finally have a good night's sleep, my body is thick and heavy this morning and it feels uncomfortable to be groggy. Swollen fingers are stiff and unwieldy as I make my Irish oats, but I find that it's easy to ignore the left over rolls and butter, potatoes and green beans awash in cheese and cream, and the roast beast. I long for the oatmeal and can imagine it cleaning house as it courses through my system. I'm already thinking ahead to lunch and craving the energy of a crisp salad and a bowl of vegetable soup. And as I drink my water I can feel it saturating my pours and can hardly wait for it to wash away the salt from last night's dinner. I’m looking forward to 'normal' eating for the next five days, and I'm hoping my brain has finally made the 'good food to feel good' connection, replacing the 'bad food for comfort' syndrome that I have been stuck in for so much of my life. Maybe it really is about forging new pathways in the brain by repeating healthy actions until they truly are habit. I hope this feeling lasts, it is so nice to feel empowered instead of being mindlessly drawn in to the old habit of gorging on left overs after a rich holiday meal.

12/25/07 more...With the encouragement of friends and Connie's 12day Challenge my eating, water and exercise over the past couple of weeks has been great, showing me that consistency will provide results. I'm looking forward to five more days between 12/26 & 12/30 of 'being good' cuz I don't feel so great tonight after a day of rich foods. Ugh, as Sandy might say ;)

12/25/07: The smells of Christmas morning infuse the house; cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, bacon sizzling on the stove, and the warming Ibarra sending up hints of chocolate. The rich orange of the cubed cantaloupe so pretty in the cut glass bowl, small silver forks and little snowflake napkins sit ready next to white china plates. Christmas mugs line the counter waiting to be filled with hot chocolate, and here come the kids and dogs through the front door just in time for breakfast. "Merry Christmas" we all cry out. First hugs and kisses, then plates brimming with food, steaming mugs of whipped chocolate and finally the hats and presents to unwrap.

I send a toast out to all the worker bees this Christmas day; the ones who shopped and cleaned and planned and cooked and then cleaned some more. I am thankful for the traditions that keep me busy, and the family who appreciates my efforts. And I am grateful for all the friends I have found here online, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas ♥♥♥ ps I only had one cinnamon roll ;)

12/24/07: There is something magical about December 24th. And I think that perhaps this magic is born of the energy of so many of us joining together in spirit to create "peace on earth, good will towards men." You might say it is the most powerful night of prayer, with so many focusing their energy on love and family. Regardless of where we were born or what we believe, whether we embrace religion, live a spiritual life or never give a second thought to our souls, on this night of nights the energy flows, hope abounds, and miracles happen. I am not so naive to think this means everyone is happy or content; and I know with certainty that sometimes the deepest sorrow is felt this night. But I don't believe that energy requires a positive grounding; whether you are the positive or negative charge, it's all energy, and we are a powerful force.

When I was a little girl, Christmas Eve was a time of anticipation, of wondering what the morning would bring and going to bed as early as possible so the morning would come more quickly. The taller I grew the harder I would try to stretch the night out longer, waiting to hear the reindeer hoofs that would surely be heard if I could stay awake long enough. Then a stretch of time when it was fun to play along with my little sister, it was her turn to hope for sleigh bells and we would lie awake, so quiet, listening. "Did you hear something?" "Shh…be quiet and listen." The years of looking for the Star of Bethlehem, gazing up at the sky through the large kitchen window and wanting so badly to find it. Then the pestering teens came, and I noticed stepping outside one Christmas Eve that I could feel the universe speaking to me; the stars bright and winking, the air filled with sparks of love and energy. "Mom, do you think Santa will bring me a paint set, a camera, a Led Zepplin album?" How fast we grow, even as the years feel like eons to us. As a young woman traveling home for the Holidays I learned the strangeness of sleeping in my childhood bed where I had once lay so quietly and listened so intently for Santa. I remember feeling a little apart from the festivities, growing pains. Then finally there came the glory of spending Christmas Eve with my own children, their excitement becoming my own, their wonder contagious and filling up my heart. What fun to sneak out into the night after they were in bed; braced for the cold and bringing in sacks and boxes from the garage, I would begin the flurry of last minute wrapping and getting everything perfectly ready for the morning. And then, in the perfect quiet of a house ready for Santa, standing quietly, taking a last look around at the beauty of the overflowing hats, the bowl of tangerines, the candy canes, and last but not least the beautiful little tree gleaming in the dark as I turned to go to bed, I would say a special prayer of thanks.

Now my Christmas Eves are different, but no less magical. Last year I was in the back yard, trying to catch my breath in the crispness of the night, admiring the stars through my tears, when all of a sudden a white owl flew over, so strong and smooth and beautiful as it cut through the dark; I felt it was just for me, and as always before, I felt the magic fill my heart. Today, as I make ready to welcome Christmas, my wish is for all of us to feel the magic this very special night brings , and to rejoice in it.

12/23/07: My bear matches my page this morning; I am speechless Later: In thinking back, I heard my jeans scraping on the cement as I walked up from the mail box yesterday and had to hitch them up. I remember thinking at the time it was wierd, but it didn't register as significant. And last night I had a good moment when I said out loud, "You know, we have a pie crust left over from Thanksgiving, I could put a cherry pie in the oven if you want." And Harry gave me a hug and said, "Don't you have just two days left on your challenge? It can wait." I haven't ever had that kind of support from him before, you know, caring instead of offhand. I was floored. Maybe the Christmas Spirit is sneaking up on him ;) What a difference it made to how I faced the rest of the evening. I didn't even have my popcorn knowing I was going to weigh in this morning. Happy Sunday everyone*

12/22/08: Brrr...this morning it was cold outside, the frost a thick coat covering the lawns and roofs all down the street, ending in a wide swath of white across the golf course. By squinting I could imagine it had snowed and for a second dream of a white christmas. Which was silly of course living where I do. Tonight the air is brittle again, and I am taking a foot warmer to bed with me. Even if I never used my microwave for anything else, it would be worth it to have one just to heat up the warming sack I tuck in by my feet on these cold cold nights. I know, I'm a sissy, how cold can California get in December? But I've never lived anywhere else, and tonight I am grateful for the comfort of warm toes. I've made it a good day, and I get to post my Leaping Lords tonight. And with just two days to go in the challenge, it feels safe to dream of cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven, I can hardly wait ;)

12/21/08: It has been a bad hair day. To be more accurate it has been a bad hair day since yesterday, and of course it is no ones fault but my own. This hasn’t happened in a while, but I have this habit of whacking off my hair when stressed. It’s been hanging in my face lately and bothering me, but I can’t justify splurging on my usual hair dresser right now so I pulled out my trusty shears after the shower yesterday morning, telling myself sternly the whole time that I would just trim the bangs until I could get in to a professional. The next thing I knew I had strayed beyond the bangs and was chopping away the sides where my hair has been poofing out in bozo-esk fashion and the very next moment I stared in horror where I had just snipped a bit too short; more than a bit, a chunk actually. I did my best to even it up, then blew it dry and examined my head from every possible angle to determine the extent of the damage. If I tucked in the hair behind my ears tightly and ignored the chunk behind my left ear it was actually okay. I spent the next few hours trying unsuccessfully to convince myself it would be okay before finally heading to the local shop to ask the girl to please just even up the sides and back. I explained that I wanted just the littlest trim, and to thin out the sides just a little where the hair was still poofing; I don’t have thick hair, but I do have a lot of it, and the shorter it is the curlier it is. I find myself sighing just thinking about yesterday. Why oh why did I ever make that first cut? As I watched her cutting away I could see she was being very careful to even up the sides behind my ears where the worst of the butchering had taken place, and then she explained she would have to layer it just a little bit to blend it in – that seemed reasonable and as she proceeded it looked fine. Then she brought out the thinning shears, but started working in the back instead of on the sides. I questioned her and she assured me she was just barely taking anything off to work into the sides from the back. Fine. I closed my eyes (NEVER close your eyes during a haircut) and tried to relax while she snipped away. After a few minutes I mentioned again, “You aren’t taking off too much are you?” Oh no, she assured me, almost done! Then she was on to blow drying and that was so hypnotic I just gave in to the warmth and let her style it. No one ever blows my bangs correctly anyway and there was no one at Target I needed to impress. When I finally opened my eyes I almost cried. She had thinned away all my curls so that my layers lay down flat upon each other, from the front it looked like a boy’s haircut and she had parted it on the opposite side to cover up my cowlick. I wasn’t so concerned about that, which was just a styling preference. But I am masculine enough without the butch haircut thank you very much! I am not one of these women with gorgeous eyes who can carry off a really short haircut. Who was this ugly old woman in the mirror??? I am sighing a lot today since my cheeks are poking out farther than my hair…. Anyway, I had to run the errand I had skipped out on yesterday and really didn’t want to leave the house. My brilliant solution? Mascara! And dangly earrings! I have to admit it didn’t really help, but the mental boost was at least enough to get me out the front door. The good news is that I am on my way to earning my 'Ladies Dancing' today despite the added strain. I’m drinking enough water, had a good walk, and made lots of healthy food choices so far. (I always say so far until bedtime.) There is my whining for the day. Maybe this is a good thing, more incentive to get rid of the fat face!! As Karen would say…grrrrrr.

12/20/07: I could talk about how fat and sassy the squirrels have become during this cold snap, how they rampage through the patio looking for seeds when I don't refill their feeder's quick enough. Or about how the tree out front is a cacophony of birdsong until I open the garage door and there is a breath of silence for just a moment as I disturb their chorus, and then the racket starts back up again in full song. And there is the stunning carpet of gold, red and orange leaves that the wind has stripped off the trees, leaving branches bare and decorating the streets for me to ride through. The pond full of ducks, the stately blue heron standing watch, and the sweet little Phoebe decorating the end of a branch while she catches her lunch of bugs are all noteworthy. And a great big bright blue sky accented by huge white clouds, thick and sculpted like scoops of ice cream piled one on the other, and air so crisp it whispers of snow for the foothills that surround our little valley. But no writing today, today there is too much to do, and I take each little story and tuck it away like a present to open later when I have time. And I wonder, what are the sights and sounds around you as you flurry about preparing for and celebrating the season? There is something to be said for 'food for the soul.'

12/18/07: Most of us have lost someone close to us; someone we miss dreadfully, especially at Christmas. Today I was wrapping presents, and all of a sudden the day was just too difficult. One moment I was fine and the next I wasn’t. Traditionally, my Grandmother kept a bottle of Boggs Cranberry Liquor out during this holiday season. It sat out on a sliver tray along with a variety of delicate little liquor glasses, and it wouldn’t have been Christmas without pouring a shot of Boggs to sip at while catching up during our visit. The liquor, dark, rich and syrupy, had a sweet tart taste that remains a glad memory of mine, and while Mommer is gone, we keep the tradition alive. When we stopped being able to find the cranberry liquor a few years ago, we started buying Pama pomegranate liquor instead. So today when I was sad, I got out one of the few remaining liquor glasses and poured myself a shot of memory and comfort, toasting those gone, and trying really hard not to feel sorry for myself. I have so much to be grateful for, and I know now that a good day will follow a bad one. And you know what, sipping my little drink was enough for me. I’m letting myself just feel the hurt, and so far I do not need to dampen all the feelings with food. I have wonderfully rich, healthy choices for dinner in the fridge when I get hungry later, and I think foodwise I will be okay tonight. I just wish the same for everyone else out there who might be having a hard time right now; because remember, even when we are by ourselves, we are not alone. And just when things seem the most difficult, well, that is exactly when we need to take care of ourselves the most.

12/18/07: Even though Harry will never read this I feel compelled to apologize to him. He never made it to the store yesterday and I had to go back for rice. While there I saw some new whole grain French rolls and since he was home grilling up some venison sausages for himself I picked them up for him. Me, I brought the rolls into the house, not him. My daughter and I split one for dinner under our red lentils and they toasted up wonderfully crunchy; very satisfying. So now I am responsible for not binging on them and can't blame him for anything….poor guy. I really need to take more responsibility for my eating and not be so ready to foist blame onto the unsuspecting. Jeesh! My arm, my hand, my mouth…just me, the buck stops here.

12/17/07: Raindrops glisten, graceful drops of light at the end of each redwood branch. The morning so quiet and still, damp with fog, winter. A drop falls, then another, each one left becoming more precious. The day lightens, branches turning from black to green, a bird chirps breaking the silence. For a moment I wasn’t thinking about seven shopping days, about planning food for the day, about missing my son; it was just about being still, about being in this moment, about feeling small and quiet in a huge universe. A moment of Peace. What a wonderful way to begin the day, and I am grateful for this small blessing 12/17/07 (amended): Reality sets in: First let me say that breakfast was wonderful. I mixed 1C of organic gluten free pancake mix (rice base) with a 15oz can of pumpkin and 1/2C of LF soy milk. I dropped the mixture by tablespoons onto my crepe pan and flattened the doughy mixture down with the back of the tablespoon forming little cakes. After turning them I covered the pan and started mincing a small apple. This I put into a small sauté pan and stir fried it until softened, then sprinkled in cinnamon, turned down the heat and let it simmer, covered, stirring occasionally. I turned the cakes once more, recovered them and turned the heat down. Then back to the apples, I added 1T of fruit only pear jam and stirred until blended. During this latter part of the experiment Harry comes wandering in asking what I’m up to, and I explain. To which he says “Oh, another scary kitchen thing.” He hovers for a moment, then announces he is off to get a breakfast burrito and guesses he needs to do some grocery shopping at some point today. I try not to panic, and take my first bite of pumpkin\apple cake. Yummy! So I offer him a small bite which he declines. I quietly insist, so he complies. And makes ‘the face’. “How about with maple syrup?” I try suggesting. Nope. And off he goes to Carl’s Jr. I try to enjoy the rest of my breakfast, but my mind is reeling. He is going shopping today? NO!! He will come home with his version of healthy; LF cheese, wheat buns, yogurt, milk, dry cereal; I can’t have these things! Which doesn’t mean I won’t eat them if they are in the house. Which is why I don’t ever bring them in the house anymore. Putting bread and cheese in the house at the same time is NOT GOOD. It’s worse than not good, it’s… it’s…. Arghhhhh!!!! And what makes it worse; he will be leaving for another road trip tomorrow, leaving me alone in the house with these….things. OMG…and this is all my fault. In the middle of our reunion last night (an extremely rare occurrence) I casually mentioned that “this would be easier if we were smaller”, what was I thinking????? Obviously I wasn’t. So from calm, to fun in the kitchen, to nightmare city in under an hour. That’s life for you. Maybe I need to invest is a good lockbox for his food while he is gone. And how pathetic to even have to think of such measures. Okay, deep breaths, take a moment to chill. He’s only going to be gone a few days, I can do this. I have the challenge to focus on , and getting ready for Christmas. I’ll be very careful about timing lots of small meals so I never get hungry, I’ll take good care of myself so that the Hungry Angry Lonely Tired beast never raises his ugly head. I’ll write and clean house and exercise and drink extra water. Focus on the positive, focus on health, have my ritual candle ready, lean on my friends.


12/16/07: Well, no loss this morning on the scale (sadistic scrap of metal) but I know enough to also measure myself in other ways. When I pulled on my workout pants I noticed my outline is smoother, and my stomach flatter. So I know I made progress this week, and that it will show up on the scale in a couple of days. TOM hasn't visited in a year, so I can't blame that, but it might be my nightly 100cal bag of popcorn I eat for dessert. I might want to rethink that, the whole grain part is fine but the salt, not so much. It's day four of twelve, and I'm feeling good. I'm dressed for my bike ride later (it's way too cold right now, I'm a woos) and will do my Hatha yoga stretches before I head outside. Sorry Harry, but I love it when you are gone and I get the house to myself! What difference it makes I can't imagine, but I hate exercising in front of him. He is constantly beating a path between his office and the garage to practice his shooting (archery) and the living room where there is room enough for me to stretch out in is in the middle of his path. I do have a TV in my office, and I guess I am going to have to clean it out so I can stretch in there. Just what I want to do, more housework! So where was I? Oh yea, flatter stomach. I have great muscles underneath my paunch from years of sailing all through my teens; I started at 11 and stopped at 19. I remember doing 60 situps in a minute during the presidents fitness challenge in high school; I was a machine! And a sprinter, I had forgotten that. The 50 yard dash was MINE. Years of hiking up the 3rd steepest street in LA combined with inheriting massive calf muscles primed me for sprints. Every day I feel this athlete banging on the walls trying to get out, but I'm so afraid of injuries I'm taking it slow. My knee is improving so fast now (still drinking Oki each day) and I know I will be able to go back to my circuit training come January, I really miss the weights. I tried picking up my bow and shooting and my back seemed fine, but started hurting later doing the dishes so I'm not ready for that yet. And I did some walking during Connies last challenge and my feet seemed to be okay so I will be doing more of that. Baby steps and patience, it will all come together. But I finished reading Susan's blog last night, and was exhausted just reading about her activities, it really puts my paltry efforts into perspective. Then seeing Josephines new pictures and how her workouts are toning her up....waahhhh...I want to work out! Okay, deep breath; go make oatmeal, do stretching, take a bike ride, make a healthy lunch, clean house, take a walk, cook dinner, drink all my water, skip popcorn...I can do this for 9 more days.

2/15/07: This week has flown by, and all of a sudden it is my day to weigh in tomorrow. And I have to say I am a little nervous because as good as I have been, I can't help but remember the small sliver of chocolate cake I had Tuesday night, and that I didn't exercise Wednesday. But in thinking about it, there are so many ways that I am doing better now than I was a couple of months ago regardless of what number shows up in the morning. I can't remember the last time I had a fast food burger, or stopped at 7-11 for a small bag of chips, or made a dessert run after dinner to pick up ice cream. I've made no calls to ask my honey to stop and bring home dinner, I've been cooking healthy and keeping the kitchen bare of treats and red light foods, and other than those damn crackers after Thanksgiving I haven't binged on anything. The scale has been kind to me (like that critical little piece of metal has feelings) the last couple of weeks, and tomorrow, just maybe, I might reclaim my purple bear. And if I do, it won't be because of all the things I just listed, it will be because of the great support group we have here, and how you all have inspired me to care. Because that's how all those things happened. I know lots of us have noticed it, that we are more in touch, that we are trying a little harder, that thinking of our friends makes each little healthy decision a tiny bit easier. And tomorrow when I normally take the day off from exercise, instead I will be thinking about earning points on the 12day challenge, and dancing to Hoobastank on Kelly's page for five minutes to earn that one extra point so I feel good about myself. I'll be checking in on Tracy and Josephine to see our new numbers, and visiting Karen to see if there is a new picture of New York. And I'll be checking in with Sandy to stay accountable for what I am eating. Because I'm not trying to maintain, I'm trying to lose, and each and every day I am going to do everything I can towards that end. At least for the next ten days. And then again between Christmas and New Years, and after that until my birthday in March. It's so much easier to believe in myself when I can believe in you, and right now I really want to hold up my end of that bargain


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12/13/07: Everyone is busy busy busy! And not finding many new journal updates I found myself back at Susan's blog...reading it like I would a book! I caught myself at January 07 and like a good book, made myself put it down so there would be something left to read tomorrow. But it is helping me focus. And today is exciting because it's the first day of Connie's challenge and I haven't blown it yet (8:11am)! I plan on focusing on this challenge for the next 12 days and making it work for me. I never manage to exercise 7 days in a row, let along 12, so this will be a push for me. I am going to browse through the TV listing to find some exercise shows to set to record so that I can pull something up whenever I need to, and not leave myself with any excuses to not exercise each day no matter the weather. No matter my knee or back or feet or anything else that tries to rear it's ugly head, I will find a way to work around it and get some exercise in every day. I have a dream board in my home office, and there are a couple of pictures I pasted on it; one of a really fit woman in her tiny white outfit lunging forward playing tennis, and another of a woman in sweats and a camo tank kickboxing. And I have the word ATHLETIC written in highlighter. That's what I want to be, or rather, that is what I have always been and miss so much, which I am sure has contributed to my past depressions. It's hard when the mind wants to go places the body can't follow, but my spirits are so high today, I am determined to find ways to do this e-thing and start working harder on my inner-athlete. Thanks to Susan for the inspiration and to Connie for the motivation. Happy 19 days till Christmas everyone

12/12/07: Yesterday was about good news and bad news. The bad news was that I didn't have anything nice to wear to the company Christmas party and had to dash out to find something. Then the worse news was that in order to buy something to wear that would be comfortable I had to buy pants that were 16w and a 16-18 sweater. Last Christmas I was in a stretchy size 14 jeans - so very disappointing. The difference is my knee, and not going to the gym since March, I've lost muscle density. In looking back in my journal I was also 12#'s lighter! That was my lowest point before the slow gain to where I am now. How frustrating to look at it in that context, but I am just observing this from a passionless place. My eating now is mostly healthy, I'm more active than I have been in months, off the couch and into my chair writing away, and taking bike rides. And then the good news, last night at dinner I was relaxed and had a nice time. I hadn't anticipated the family style service where we went for dinner, and it was wonderful! I splurged on about a quarter cup of Fett.Alfredo, skipped the lasagna, had a pile of perfectly roasted veggies, a small piece cut off a chicken parmegian breast, salad and one piece of garlic bread. Then they brought out a huge wedge of 7" tall seven layer chocolate fudge cake sitting in a lake of chocolate goo. It was beautiful. They left this huge piece (think bigger than Claim Jumpers) with carving utensils about every yard down the banquet table and we were left to serve ourselves. How perfect was that? I grabbed the knife to do the honours and cut a four bite sliver off the edge for myself and then cut peices for the others around me. It was decadent, and satisfying too. But the really good news was that there was no little voice arguing with me to eat more. I was totally satisfied with my small tastes of everything, my hunger - emotional as well as physical- was satisfied, and I was able to enjoy the table conversation instead of battling with my internal dialogue. This may not sound significant to those who don't ever have that insistent feeling of having to stuff your face, but what a relief to have escaped that usual torment. And it lasted...I didn't come home and eat to make up for my small but rich meal. I didn't even think about food, which I hadn't realized until this morning and writing this. We had all had a shot of Oki at the close of dinner and before dessert, which was great since we had a 2 hour drive to get home afterwards, and I am wondering if that made the difference. We got home about 11 and I was up at the computer until about 1 and never thought of a snack. Snuggling in under the down blanket I bring out for the occaisional freezing weather was so wonderful last night, and this morning, stretching in that pocket of warmth before climging out to greet the day, I felt positive and ready for anything. The beginning of a positve energy cycle? Whoo hoo!

12/11/07: Some people are jumpers, and without having to feel the water first they race forward and take the plunge. Whether it's from a beach, a dock, or a large mossy rock they trade the dry comfort of where they are to let themselves be engulfed by the water and whatever goosebumps and screams that might come along with it. This is not me. I wade in carefully, my toes exploring each little pebble, waiting for my skin to adapt to the new temperature before creeping in a bit deeper. And yes, there is that one hot week during the summer where I might run down the path to the dock, pulling off my t-shirt as I hit the ramp, throwing it to the side and diving in off the end to glory in the coolness of the water sluicing over me. But most of the time I would ease my way in from the shore of the lake, taking my time and making everyone around me crazy. "Come on Anne Vail, just get it over with", which brings to mind the more current quote from 'Brother Where Art Thou', "Come on in, the water is fine." Why do I bring this up? Because that is what my life feels like, that I am getting used to the idea of living a good life, and it's just taking a little bit to get used to the water. To carry the analogy along, these past couple of months have felt like that hard part when you get to your...more sensitive areas of the body...and you're creeping along getting a little deeper, standing on your tip toes to keep the cold water from chilling your privates, not quite ready to commit but in too far to go back. And I can feel it coming, that point where you're more in than out, where you can see the fun beckoning you and you're just about ready to leave the shore. Just about ready to unclasp your arms from around your middle where you have been protecting your core, and raising them over your head in a graceful arch you bend your knees, and in a rush of conviction you push off with all your strength, your toes leaving the sand and muck and your fingertips breaking the surface of the water leading the rest of your body under the waves and into a new world. I can hear you guys yelling from your innertubes and rafts out in the deep water, and I feel ever so close to making that final push so I can come out and play

12/10/07: Habits are not just deathly, they can also be lifesaving. Like everything else they are about the choices we make, our perceptions and intentions acting as lenses that help us bring focus to the world around us so we can see our choices. Taking the time to find out what works for the individuals we are, and then believing we are worth practicing what we have learned to build a happy life. And for me happy equals healthy, isn’t that why most of us are here? My goal right now is to break my bad habits by taking what I have learned this past year and strengthening the positive practices until they are new healthy habits that leave no room for destructive behavior (ie, my bag of crackers a week ago this past Thursday) to sneak in. I want so many healthy habits there is no time or energy for anything else. And as we all know, checking in on friends instead of eating when you aren’t even hungry is a healthy habit. So I made myself put down my book (I’m on the third book of the Dark Materials trilogy) because too much reading leads to snacking, and I came in to browse around a bit. Checking in on Susan’s blog ( is always a good place to go, and sure enough, remembering what she has accomplished has me determined to stay busy and out of the kitchen until snack time. I’m exhausted just reading about her exercise and skating, and how pitiful it is that I have to work so hard mentally to just take a bike ride each day! But the treat was my foray into her archives; I had forgotten how much I like reading what she has to say. So what is my new healthy habit? Visiting Susan each day thru December to keep focused on believing I can lose weight, because I think that the habit of believing has been sorely missing in my quest, and like she pointed out eons ago, it takes 21 days to make a habit, and that would be NYD. Perfect Timing. By NYD I will believe I can lose weight ;)

12/9/07: The thick golden fur of the squirrel was awash with red highlights, sitting as he was in the sun that streamed over his perch on the birdhouse. Having found his normal stash of black sunflower seeds that was usually hanging from the Privet tree empty, he was now digging through the food in the birdhouse in a most undignified way and scattering it over the lawn below as he hunted for the coveted sunflower seeds he knew he would find. The grass below him was a sea of Sparrows, waves of little mahogany stripped heads bobbing up and down as they gobbled up his castoffs. The larger Mourning Doves were islands of soft brown, holding steady their places on the lawn amidst the chaos of their feathered friends, taking their share in a more sedate manner. Above, the squirrel sat up, still for a moment on his back haunches, his most recent find held at his mouth in clever paws, and daintily and efficiently he cracked open the seed and swallowed the prize inside. Then in a flash of gold he was back digging once again through the bird food in frenzied fashion. In contrast, Anne stood quietly just inside the sliding glass door, sipping her tea, enjoying all the ruckus, and thinking that she really must go outside today and refill the squirrel feeder.

12/8/07: We saw the Golden Compass last night, and while I understand the movie differs greatly from the book, I found it a wonderful way to spend the evening. But what remains foremost in my mind this morning isn’t the movie, but the fifteen minutes leading up to it. We had opted for an early movie and planned to eat out afterwards, a plan I must add that I was all for since it meant I would be justified in eating popcorn to tide myself over until dinner. At the theatre we each ordered a small bag, mine without and his with butter, and then settled in to wait for the movie. It was a little disquieting, because there was nothing showing on the screen yet and all was ‘quiet as a mouse.’ As we sat eating our popcorn I couldn’t help but notice our different approaches to eating our treat since there was nothing else to grab my attention. While I was savoring every salty morsel one or two kernels at a time, he was jamming fistfuls into his mouth like it was a race. I could almost see the beast inside of him roaring to be fed; you know that big hole that opens up inside that can’t be satisfied no matter how fast you shovel in the food? And being aware of what he was doing made me realize that how I was eating was a reflection of how much smaller my hole is now, and how far I have come in ways that can’t be measured by a scale.

I loved the movie, I respect so much the talent involved from the imaginings of the author to the skill of the screen playwright, and the special effects of the movie industry are amazing. Such art & passion on display is nothing less than extraordinary to me. It is such a clear example of how beautiful things happen when you are part of a team working for a common goal. Like us ♥ ps I am up to 9000 words!

12/7/07: The Christmas Forest is up, and now that I have uploaded the picture I realize I should have taken the ladder out before taking the picture. Then again, it sort of adds a spice of reality to the shot, eh? (And really, despite the Caribou rack above the door, we do live in California.) Happy Friday everyone!

12/6/07: Before I put my bike away in the garage this morning I went scrounging for more Christmas decor, specifically I was looking for the red box that holds my christmas tree collection. When my son was in 1st grade they had a project to decorate a paper tree, and due in part to the hours I spent making a miniature paper chain to glue to it, he won first prize. I loved the tree so much that everytime a friend, young or old, came over during the holiday season I would ask them to make a tree too. I kept tubes of glitter, water colours and puffy paint at hand and I made a template based on the shape of the first tree to cut out paper trees for them to decorate. I haven't counted, but there are many memories from over the years in that box. Before there were cupboards added to my dining room wall during the kitchen remodel of '05 I would make a christmas forest of those trees so that upon entering the house your eye was drawn to the forest and inevitably the conversation would begin. "I remember when we made that tree" and "oh look, there is the one so and so made." After I lost the space on that wall the first christmas I taped trees up in groups around the house, and instead of one big forest I had smaller groves in every room. I was on the couch watching The Nativity this afternoon and it occured to me I could use the space behind the front door, there is a section of wall there I could fill. I'll have to wait for the rain to stop so I can bring in the tall ladder to reach high enough, it will be a tall fairly skinny forest, but I would like to see them all together again. And that started me thinking that I would love to hear what some of your special holiday traditions are, so this is an invitation to share in either my guest book, or in your About Me section or where ever, some of the things that make the holidays special around your house. What are the traditions that speak to your holiday spirit?

12/5/07: Today was a good day. I worked at the office for a couple of hours before heading out to my massage appointment. God I miss having those regularly. Then I stopped at the grocery store for a cart full of fruits and veggies and a frozen Kashi pizza that I am anxious to try, expecially now that it has gotten a good review from LotusJade! I came home and made turkey burritos for our dinner with a fresh mango salsa and a four bean side dish seasoned with cumin and sunchokes; I knocked dinner out of the park if I do say so myself! While the beans were simmering I took my bike ride, enjoying the sun before the storm that is due to move in sometime tonight. It's suppose to stay in the 50's through Saturday, which is like freezing to us sunny california girls, so I need to set up to exercise indoors while the rain is here. Maybe it's time to bring the treadmill in from the neighbors garage. Anyway, I blew it yesterday on the last day of Connie's bday challenge (first I didn't exercise extra and then I was attacked by a potato after dinner) so I was proud of myself having such a good day today instead of saying WTF, the challenge is over and oh well. Instead I've stayed 100% ... so far anyway ;) and I'm feeling positive that I will be fine tonight. I have a pomegranite to eat during Private Practice and I am up to almost 9000 words since last Wednesday. And I guess the important part is that it still feels good, so thank you for your kind words spurring me on, because without you I might never have started writing seriously, and this is the best thing that's happened to me in years

12/4/07: On the front door hung the lush green boughs, cut from a Nobel Fir they had been fashioned into a circle larger than her hands could reach around. Punctuated by three small dark glossy pinecones and the velvety purple berries from an accent pine, the wreath was quite a merry display. The door stood open into the living room, displaying the wreath to all inside the warm and cozy house, while a double paned glass storm door held firmly closed against the chill of the winter day; only the sparkling morning sunshine was allowed inside. Earlier that morning that same sun had beat against the glass of the storm door, warming the pine sap and releasing a heady aroma into the space between the doors where the wreath hung waiting. As the woman had pulled open the inside wooden door for the first time that day, she had taken several deep breaths of pleasure, drawing the pine scent deeply into her lungs, not wanting to miss a single molecule of the perfumed air. Now, hours later, the room held only a hint of that first burst of piney tang, and the tiny gold bells and delicate angels the woman was hanging on the wreath shone in the reflected rays of the sun, sending twinkling bursts of light through out the room in a random display of cheer. It was a good day, she thought, comforted by the joy she felt at completing the small traditional task of decorating the Christmas Wreath.

12/3/07: There is a little black and white cat who is trying to adopt me, and my daughter has named him Spot because he has a white spot at the very end of his black tail. It began on Thanksgiving, the smell of roasting beast attracting the two little un-collared cats to our front door, asking to be let in. Harry picked one up and brought it in, but we soon sent it on its way. But the one that was initially the shyer of the two is persistent, and shows up most days for a visit. Let me set the stage. Standing in the middle of my little house looking North there are the dining room windows to the left, glass sliders in the middle, and the living room windows on the right – making a wall of windows all facing out onto the back yard. On the patio outside the dining room I have a table covered in plants, and outside the living room is the hot tub. So the cat has two places to hang out until he is seen and can be picked up and cuddled. And he knows how to cuddle, pushing his soft furry self against me and purring. (My cats don’t do that.) He doesn’t arrive hungry for food, just attention, and after a little visit I shoo him off. I have taken his picture so that if one day he refuses to leave I can show it around the neighborhood to find out where he lives and let them know what is happening. But it is fun to have a new friend who wants to spend time with me.

12/2/07: Walking into the kitchen this morning I took one look at all the cookies and immediately made a huge batch of oatmeal, enough for all week. But feeling festive I did tweak it a little, adding a splash of rum flavoring and a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice to my normal raisins and brown sugar. It came out wonderful, and tastes like Christmas. Last night was fun and the Trifle incredible. (,1977,FOOD_9936_29116,00.html) I highly recommend this if you have need of a holiday dessert. Rhiannon replaced the cinnamon with pumpkin pie mix (hence my inspiration this morning with the oatmeal) and used SF pudding & SF whipped topping. Oh, and save the gingersnaps to sprinkle on top just before serving so they stay crunchy. We used Mommers green and red sherbet goblets to serve it in and it was oh so glamorous. Today my goal is to exercise between 60-90 minutes; I have rum punch calories to burn off too!! The air is crisp and the breeze nippy today, but I have a new trick - I vacuum and get warm before getting out on my bike so that I don't suffer the chill the first ten minutes or so. This makes it much easier to face the weather and less tempting to stay inside with a book.

12/1/07: Happy December everyone Determined to not let a little thing like a broken spring on the garage door deter me from getting my bicycle out, I enlisted the help of a neighbor. Once on the road I made small decisions on taking every byway and side path that would extend my ride so I could earn extra points in the bday challenge; I need them because tonight I will be losing my food points. Friends are bringing appetizers for dinner; there will be no mental calculations of calories, fat or sugar and no determination made by bulk. I will make five choices based on personal appeal only, have a glass of sparkling cherry Christmas punch, and a small scoop of Rhiannon’s Gingerbread Pumpkin Truffle. Then I will relax and enjoy the Spirit that has once again invaded my home, and my heart. It is after all, the holiday season

Friday night: This was exhausting, but at least I am ready for the cookie party tomorrow....if you don't count the disaster in the kitchen! But they came out kind of cute and I am happy with my effort. Oh, and I learned first hand what it means by 'the chocolate might seize up if you use liquid food colouring'. I had to toss my initial chocolate icing and replace it with a classic. Ugh! I think I had better shut the cats up in the office tonight so the icing can harden completely without risk of pawprints.

11/30/07: November is almost gone, the days having flown by like leaves in a Santa Ana wind racing down the boulevard towards the ocean. The quiet of her last day is broken by the racket of garbage trucks and sirens and it feels more like waking up in the city than in the east bay suburbia I call home. I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas last night, the ending words so familiar, bringing memories of lying on my stomach in front of the TV as a child, “Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.” While not part of the original Seuss poem, they have always been special words to me, ushering in the Christmas season on a perfect note.

11/29/07: I can't remember the last time I slept in until 9am. I suppose the best place to start is where I left off yesterday. Rhiannon arrived at five and I had her pizza all ready to go in the oven (venison pepperjack sausage, yellow peppers & green onions on a whole grain flat out bread, 1/4c each of LF motz and Hunts no sugar added sauce.) She laughed when I explained why I wasn't having dinner and we sat down to watch Oprah. I've taken to taping it so we can watch it together Monday and Wednesday, and I must say I love being able to zip through the commercials! Why is this pertinent to the story? Those of you who watch already know - it was showcasing stories of people having lost weight! I just had to laugh, and thank the universe for the reminder that this is possible. But what really struck me was the people themselves. I have noted before that it seems like it's the people who are happy that have the most success at losing weight, and it seemed that all of these people had that in common too. So last night after Rhiannon was gone I just asked the question, what is it that makes me happy. And the answer was so obvious...writing. Writing makes me happy. Duh! And there is that quesiton Tom Hanks asks in one of my favorite movies (Joe vs the Volcano) "Why don't you just do what it is you're afraid of?" That would be me and my writing, afraid of not doing it well enough, of making a fool of myself. Never starting because I'm afraid it won't be perfect. Well last night it just clicked, and I just started writing. It began with a single sentence that had come to me earlier in the day, "Anne stood leaning against the cold hard frame of the sliding glass door, gazing forlornly around the back yard, the warmth of the tea cup she held in direct contrast to the crisp air seeping in through the catdoor that led out onto the patio." Have you seen the movie Holiday where Cameron Diaz writes promos for movies? You know that voice in her head? I do that all the time going through everyday tasks, I write in my head all the time. But this time I think this was a culmination of things: deciding to journal everyday, Debbie commenting on my first name, Kelly & Karen, and Sandy & Betty commenting on my writing, and lets not forget all the Christmas stories I have been reading every day. So, armed with this positive support, I sat down to write. And some of it was really hard, but also really cathartic. Who knows how long I would have sat here typing if my feet hadn't become so cold (it was almost freezing here last night for cryin out loud!) Anyway, when I went to the kitchen for my night time Omega-3's the clock on the oven was shining out 1:30 as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be that time. Keeping in mind that I am often in bed by 9, I stood there with my mouth hanging open wondering where the hours had gone. I had stayed up later than usual to watch Life last night, but 2 1/2 hours spent typing and it felt like a moment. It feels like the beginning of a book, maybe a novella, who knows, the point is that it feels like the beginning of something. And it's been a long time since I started anything. So instead of trying to figure out why I'm not happy, I'm going to spend my energy writing. I'm a little scared because my back would normally be hurting after all of that computer time, but it isn't. Is it the Oki? One of the huge benefits of antioxidants is the recovery from damage caused by exercise; maybe everything is coming together just as it is supposed to. Interesting thought that. So everyone have a great day, and hopefully I will be back to shorter posts tomorrow. I may not know you, but I love you all, and I thank you for listening

11/28/07: I began this morning with a goal of earning 38 points towards the challenge Cobra1205 extended - and then while getting out a can of spaghetti sauce from the cupboard this afternoon I came across the crackers we never used on Thanksgiving. The kids had shown up late and we never put out the traditional port cheese and crackers. 8 servings and 1080 calories later I feel sick. Sick and tired. Sick and tired and disgusted. I could say that it's been a really long time since I binged on anything, which is true, and I should be glad about that. Or I could prattle on about how I am going to call it a vegetable and move on, or how I'm going to jump right back on the wagon, drink extra water and eat only lettuce the rest of the day. But I am still in shock at having succumbed, at not stopping long enough to try a single counter measure against the impulse, at not even having pretended to try and fight it off. I still need to make dinner for my daughter, and what can I say? Um, I ate a whole bag of crackers so I can't eat dinner with you? Way to set a good example Vail! And if I just eat dinner with her like nothing happened there goes another 400 calories on top of what I've already consumed today. This so totally sucks. In the past I have reacted badly to challenges, but not usually until they are over, this one has barely begun! ARRRRGHHHHHH. Okay, deep breath. And really what else is there to do but go on and do the best I can the rest of the day. I'll just tell her I couldn't wait for her to eat without going into details, that has happened before. But that would be a lie of ommission, and years ago I promised her I wouldn't do that ever again. (I can't laugh at THAT story yet and it's been ten years.) Yuck. Big Sigh. For me it really seems to be true that the harder I try the behinder I get, but I'm not going to add insult to injury by pretending to anyone that it didn't happen. And I AM going to start chugging water, the sodium in those damn things was a whopping 2080g. Where is that damn time machine that takes you back in time when you need it? Which puts everything into total perspective, because really, if I had a time machine crackers would be the last thing on my mind. Okay, off to cook Rhiannon her dinner....and drink water. And NO PITY, just ignore this post - I needed to vent and you are a captive audience

11/27/07: It's a beautiful, quiet morning here. The redwood outside my window is perfectly still, the needles a still life painting. The sky is a high cathedral blanket of soft grey and I just know when I step outside the air will be crisp and still. I have wonderful socks knit by a friend just for me (the ankles look like ocean waves in shades of blue) to wear on cold days and they will be perfect to wear riding today. No cold feet for this California girl. I set up my little christmas polar bear out front under the trees yesterday, and he is glowing brightly in contrast to the days muted morning light. I love the changing of the seasons and today it feels like Winter (California syle) has arrived a few weeks early. I have been taking pictures down at the waterway each month to create a calender of the seasons and I am due to take another picture come this Friday, but I am thinking this light will be perfect so I will take the camera with me when I ride today. But first breakfast! I have left over Hodgson Mills corn bread muffins and I am going to make Jazzman's Bread Pudding! I haven't done that in ages, being out of NS muffins, but I think these will work. I am grateful that I have the time to make a hot breakfast, that I have soft warm wool socks to wear, and a pretty place to ride my bike. ...and I guess I had better get some work done today so I don't lose those things!!

11/26/07: Okay, totally not feeling the 'sexy' thing after pouring over tons of pin up photos! I am so good at forgetting about this fat suit I am wearing, which is part of the reason I should never spend the day in sweats like I did yesterday. I just never changed after getting back from my bike ride. My SO and his daughter were both fighting off colds and hunkered down in front of the TV for the day instead of the miniature golf we had planned, so I just curled up with my book. (I did get up to make us healthy flatout pizzas for lunch-speaking of which has anyone tried the new Kashi pizzas? I just saw them pictured on the back of our cereal box) My self image seems to be directly linked to the snugness of my pants at the moment, and browsing pin ups wearing sweats it was fun to imagine posing and having a pic taken, but upon arising from the computer chair to go look in the mirror was a little burst of 'OMG, just a little too scary' and 'what the heck am I thinking?' Maybe by the time I reach 199.9 I'll be feeling a little better about that, it's amazing the difference 10 or 15 pounds can make. I am still looking for a pic to copy, but I'm not sure about posting a personal copy anytime soon; we'll see. I'm just not sure how looking at that would fit into my 'positive affirmations' set of mind!! I did do some veggie shopping Saturday and I have some soup recipes to try this week. Harry leaves tomorrow for a week and I plan on getting started with some strength training exercises to add to my riding. I need to burn up the energy I get from the Oki, otherwise I find myself wanting to dampen that feeling with food. It's a wierd place I'm at right now, my body feeling like doing something and my brain lagging behind; it has been a long time since I was active and to feel that compulsion is unsettling. I know it's just a transition period and a matter of breaking the lazy habits I had to adopt to let my back heal, and of finding new ways of moving that don't jepardize the progress I've made there. In any case, it's hard to imagine not succeeding while sitting here with the Southern sun pouring through my window and the world at my figertips

11/25/07: I am always amazed at how quickly the pounds can pile on. What is strange this morning is that even though I didn't like the number, it didn't devastate me. I'm going to assume that salt is partly to blame, but mostly I know it's the candied nuts, pie, and the butter I used in the potatoes and everything else while at the same time not riding. This is the only time of year I use butter in the potatoes, and really this year I can't say that I noticed or appreciated the difference. And then using left over butter on toast...didn't thrill me like it used to do. In fact it was kind of gross. So maybe knowing I'm getting past that is helping defray the shock of the 4+ pounds I am up from last week. Or maybe it's a delayed reaction and I'll freak out tomorrow, but for now I know that those pounds will be history in a couple of weeks or less, and I just need to focus on staying busy & burning calories. Of course I am hosting a cookie exchange party next Saturday, that potentially could be a disaster, but I am starting now to chant the new 'no cookies' mantra. Not a single one - maybe that's the key for me; if I don't have the first one there won't be a 2nd, 3rd or 4th. I really don't want the holidays to be about food, I really don't want to feel horrible come New Years and wonder why I couldn't control myself for just a month. I don't want to be that person anymore. And if it means having to feel every single little thing between now and then without seeking comfort in food, well, so be it. Because we all know we only feel worse later, never better. We all know that no matter how often we try, food never fixes anything. And for me, there is enough stress without adding more. Instead I want to feel empowered and in control, and I don't want my jeans to be tight! Maybe I really am like an alcoholic and I just can't have the first bite. Maybe it's time to see this as a disease and treat it as such. And maybe by letting myself feel things instead of reaching for food it will help me move forward. I want to be strong like the heroines I read about each day in my Christmas stories, and like I read about in the profiles here. The stong girl inside me is so tired of being a pansy when it comes to food! I may have failed at some important things, but certainly I can stop my hand from putting the wrong food in my mouth for 37 days. LOL, and we all know how easy THAT is to say after Thanksgiving ;) Okay, Day One here I come. Today's project: find a pin up pose to copy!

11/24/07: I'm having a hard time this morning translating feeling to words. I feel like Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail as he types and back spaces, types and back spaces. Not being able to write a lie but at the same time having a hard time finding the words to tell a truth without revealing details. Suffice it to say that I am lonely, that through my own actions and decisions I have separated myself from much of the world and the people in it, and that somehow I attracted a partner that has done much the same thing to himself, albeit for different reasons. Sometimes I am more lonely when he is here than when he is off on one of his trips, our differences almost a physical wall keeping us apart. We were both bored last night, it was only 6pm, and he came out of his office grumpy and bemoaning the fact that there were still 2 hours until it was time to 'come and watch TV with me'. I felt like a fricken charity case the way he said it, and in retrospect that is when the snacking began. So I am still medicating with food, and deep down I know that until I change my level of happyness (y on purpose) I probably won't be able to change my weight. The idea of drastic change terrifies me, and the thought of hurting just unthinkable right now. And that is my dillema. Big Sigh. I thought I was done with pity parties! I am the only one who can change my life and it just pisses me off. Where is my fairytale???? The good thing about moods is that they are like taxis and another one will be along any minute, I wish I could whistle really really loud! Feeling the need to end on a positive note, the lentil soup I made yesterday came out wonderfully, the tempting left overs are gone, the sun is out so I can take a bike ride later, and for now I have a new christmas story to read and a patch of sun on my bed to curl up in for an hour or so to read it in.

11/23/07: I love the music in Rent, and put a link to No Day but Today on my NS profile a while ago. Listening to it this morning, it confirms the 'live in the now' message that keeps coming my way, messages from the universe if you will that have been playing in a loop for me lately. So that is what I am going to do today, my best for just this day; small portions of left overs leaving the lion's share to my SO, getting out on the bike - or maybe even a walk. Oh, a quick Oki update here, my knee is getting better fast now after only a week! At the theatre yesterday I stood up and started walking down the steps without having to stretch, and without pain! What a nice surprise. I can tell my body wants this stuff, I head for the fridge to pour a shot each morning without even thinking about it, and I can just feel my body soaking up all the antioxidants. And while I expect to be moody during the holiday season, I did get through yesterday without having wine with dinner, and have noticed I am of a more even temperament. All good signs ;) Now, to the imminent battle of choosing oatmeal over mashed potatoes and gravy. I WILL DO THIS !

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today

ps I still can't believe there were people out there shopping at 4am today !!

11/22/07: The gravy is perfection, the rolls crisp and golden, the beast carved and creamy potatoes sit warming on the stove. lol, and the kids are late! Happy Thanksgiving everyone

11/21/07: The good news is that there is very little clean up to do getting ready for tomorrow. The shopping is done, the house is clean (don't you just love it the first week after the carpets are cleaned? My toes are so happy!) The bad news is that I haven't taken the time to go for a bike ride these past FOUR days because I was so busy around the house, and after a couple glasses of wine last night I found my way to the left over garlic bread. No vampires in MY family, despite strong young adolescent yearnings when I first discovered our family tree led to Bulgaria ;) Anyway, I did great on the portions at dinner, but I love cold garlic bread and didn't even think to try and fight the urge last night after everyone was gone and it was just me and NCIS. This morning, being of sound mind once again, I jumped on the oatmeal and plan to drink tons of water, eat lots of salad, and do as much food prep as I can for tomorrow. The bike comes out so I can take a ride as soon as it warms up, the lawn needs mowing, that's always good for burning a few calories and staying outside while I cool down from the bike ride, and I'm going to keep my tennies on so I stay busy instead of curling up on the couch with tea and a movie. I'm saving that for tommorrow night! Now everyone have a good day and don't let the details that enmesh the holiday make you crazy; no matter how hectic it gets, no one is going to cook and eat you, that honour is reserved for the Turkey! Breathe deep and take a moment to count blessings

11/20/07: Today is my Honey's birthday; you don't want to know what's on the menu for dinner, suffice it to say it's 'man food'. But sometimes it has to be about the portions, no? I'm going to try and focus on what I want to be able to write tomorrow, and how I will feel about myself. Knowing I will be eating too many calories on Thursday will hopefully keep me in check tonight. Back to cleaning for company.

11/19/07: This is my 3rd morning of taking Oki, and I have to say the biggest difference is the mental clarity. My limbs are looser and my knee isn't as congested, but yesterday I caught myself cleaning without the TV on. I haven't been able to work in quiet for a long time because my mind takes me where I don't want to go. Yesterday was like a gift being able to focus on what I was doing instead of my brain taking all these wierd train trips - I alternated between reading and cleaning (it's holiday season you know) and it felt good to accomplish so much. I have more energy, and I can feel the cloud of depression disolving. I'm crossing my fingers it isn't a fluke, then getting the house ready for the carpet cleaner. Hellooooooo Monday Update: I can't believe how much energy I still have at 6pm. Rhiannon and I got a jump on Thanksgiving and had Roasted Turkey Wings for dinner, I've never done that before. What a juicy yummy treat, and one was plenty!

11/18/07: Today is about my Grandmother, Annie May Parker. She may have passed over at 92 but it is still her birthday. Her maiden name was Vail, my Mothers name is Ann Vail , I am Anne Vail and my daughter is Rhiannon Vail. My great grandmother was Ann Vail and I forget how many times it goes back on the Paternal side before that. But if you google the white pages back east there are tons of Vails. So yes, a family name. But back to Mommer (my maternal grandparents were Mommer and Podder), she was the greatest story teller. When my mother was married they built her and my dad a house next door so I grew up next to them. Daily us kids would make the trek from our house to Mommers going the 'back way' up the steps from our lower level patio to Mommers back yard and then up her back steps to the porch leading into the kitchen. There we would have Blueberry pie, or freshy made chocolate graham crackers, or guacamole depending on the time of day and year. And she would tell us stories of how they came to California on a dime and a prayer, about growing up on the farm back in New Brunswick, and teaching in a one room school house. She kept the brass bell she used to ring for classes next to the fireplace the whole time I was growing up. I miss her, like many of us my grandmother was as much a mother to me as her daughter was. Sometimes I like to believe she is good company for Joey and other times I wonder if it's just too big over there for such connections. But this is the day she was born back at the beginning of the 20th century, and I honour her. She brought me my love of roses and gardening, and of quiet and bird watching. One day when I was visiting with my own young children I found her on the back porch where her and Joey were sitting quietly. He wasn't even two yet, but sat so still with her, waiting for a blue jay to come get a peanut she was holding out; a precious memory. It's no coincidence I have an orange tree in the back yard, grow roses, and keep the local blue jays fat with peanuts.

11/17/07: So I get a phone call just after noon from a friend whose miniature dachshunds had puppies the day before Halloween (dapple grey, so cute) and would I like to come over and see them; she's home on her lunch break and why don't I drop by. Yay, I get to see the puppies! I've already had lunch, so I change from sweats to jeans and go. As I'm there cuddling the four soft darlings who have just opened their eyes a couple of days before, my friend is in the kitchen making her lunch. And I am frozen in horror. White bread, mayonnaise, jack cheese and bologna. And just to add insult to injury she pulls a bag of Ruffles off the fridge to eat between mouthfuls of the sandwich. (Yes she offered, yes I said no, yes she has been gaining weight) I made it home, and picked up where I had left off reading....and my mind began to turn. There's wheat bread (thank you Harry) LF Motz and tomatoes in the kitchen, I could make myself a grilled cheese. OMG...see how quickly events can conspire to ruin good intentions? I mean, I won't let them, but the battle of the brain is going on up there. So what to do? First, run to the computer and write it out, next, it's time to try the whole ritual thing which of course I haven't finished so I'm going to wing it. If at that point I'm still in turmoil I'll go for a 2nd bike ride. But I am not going to eat until snack time and it's going to be healthy. I could make half a grilled cheese, there's no mayo in the house, the cheese is LF and I'll weigh it, so I actually could make it a healthy snack. I need to master this moment, I need to know I can do it. I will not let anything stop me from taking care of myself today. NOT ANYTHING!! Update: I think it actually worked, either that or I just did a really good job of distracting myself! I haven't blown the candle out yet, I think I will let it burn until the oil is gone and go back to reading.

11/17/07: Another good day yesterday, whoopie! Harry came home a night early, and I wasn't perfectly ready, but I still was able to decline the invitation to eat out. I simply said, "I know I'll eat too much if we go out, this is what I'm making, would you like some?" He actually liked the cauliflower casserole I had made! And he went shopping yesterday, bringing home milk and cereal, and half a loaf of whole grain wheat bread (and four bottles of Novella '05 Synergy wine from Trader Joe's which I highly recommend if you love a full body.) So this morning I had one of my favorite breakfasts; toast with mustard and egg with lots of cracked pepper. A nice break from the oatmeal ;) I think he only has day trips this coming week, so I should be okay; milk and cereal is not something I usually keep in the house because they are too tempting as late night snacks. But knowing he will be around will keep temptation at bay. I packed up summer clothes last night and there is a jumbo space saver bag ready to go out to the garage this morning. I did keep one tank top out that I had purchased in a smaller size because it was so pretty: this will hang in my office as a reminder that I want to wear it next summer! I think after watching Oprah and seeing the warehouse full of 'stuff' they had cleaned out of a hoarder's house I am ready to do some thinning out here! I haven't been able to clean my office because I found so many things while cleaning out the garage that I couldn't throw away without closer examination. I am surrounded by boxes that hold bits and pieces of memories in here, but I think now I am ready to let them go, ready to say goodbye to part of my past so that I can make room for the future. What did The Secret say? We need to be ready to receive. So my office needs to be ready to receive the work I need to do. I'm blathering but it makes perfect sense to me! The carpet cleaner is coming Monday, so that is my motivation to get this done over the weekend; I want a clean, uncluttered environment to match my mind! Ha!

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11/16/07: The Oki I have been waiting for arrived this afternoon (liquid super food from Orenda) and I must say I am more excited than ever. I had made a cauliflower casserole with cannelini beans, LF motz and Hunts no sugar added spaghetti sauce for dinner. I had a small bowl full and when I went back to get seconds I realized I didn't want any more! For me this is huge! I had one shot of Oki when it got here at noon and another about 4:30 while making dinner. I am so curious how the evening will play out. I still have my salad to eat if I get hungry later, but in the meantime I am cleaning house instead of hanging out on the couch watching TV. When I realized what I was doing I had to share with someone, so of course I headed here ;) How strange to feel energized this late in the day; it's wonderful to actually feel like doing something.

11/16/07: Due to my back injury I haven’t been able to read for the past couple of years. As silly as it sounds holding a book stresses exactly the wrong spot for my injury; I think I have listened to every audio book on CD at all three libraries in town. Books have always been my refuge, my safe place where I can disappear and live through someone else, able to replace my feelings with those of my latest heroine. I finally began to read again this past summer, just a little at first, and it felt so good to be able to jump into a story again; reading is so different than listening. Now that the seasons are changing it’s time to bring out my collection of Christmas books. I have to be careful about how long I sit and how I position myself, usually resting the book on a cushion. Romance, murder mysteries, inspirational: I started collecting Christmas stories a while back when I realized how powerful they were for me. I could read one and be in a good mood for days, filled with optimism and goodwill. They are usually short and normally I can breeze through one in a few hours. Today’s chore will be to pull them all out of the storage case and find a place to display them, in sight in mind! From now through New Years I will read every day at least part of a Christmas story, and therein lays the challenge. I love to eat while reading! A sinful pleasure and one I need to modify. I have started a list of snacks allowed; baked carrots, 100 calorie bags of popcorn, sliced cucumbers, diced fruit. Suggestions are welcome! I know I shouldn’t eat at all while I am reading, but it is such a comfort. My sister has an antique cigar box on her living room table containing her tools for coping with this: hand cream and gloves. Really rich hand cream and plastic gloves make it near impossible to snack while watching TV or reading. My idea is that first I get my healthy measured snack, and then if food starts working its way into my brain I can put on the hand cream and gloves so that I’m not mindlessly taking in calories as I finish my reading for the day. Another day, another plan; baby steps towards a thinner life!

11/15/07: I didn't go. At the last moment I couldn't face it; meeting new people, the chance someone might ask about family, the chance I would lose control. I thought I was ready, but as it turns out I wasn't. And that's okay. I know that. And have mostly forgiven myself, like 99%. And I didn't wallow, I took an extra long bike ride (the Cormorants have increased their number to ten!) and mostly stuck to my food plan, only eating an extra couple of small chicken tenders I had baked with dinner. Come to think of it I can't remember the last time I had ice cream. That's good, right? In retrospect, not having an emotional reaction that in the past would have driven me to 7-11 is great! I spent some time on my newest project, cutting pages out of the stack of Cooking Light magazines I have - trying to thin out the clutter around here while I watch TV at night. Harry gets home tomorrow, and realizing now that his comings and goings are triggers for me overeating I am going to make sure today that I have everything at hand for healthy choices. After eating out all week he will be ready to stay home, but he doesn't cook and that leads to his suggesting pizza or chinese. I think I will plan a couple of easy dinners (stir fry pork tenderloin, veggie enchiladas) so that he doesn't go there for a couple of days. Then he will be off again and I should be safe ;) It's another sunny day, maybe I'll take the longer bike path; I have a book to listen to while I ride and it felt good yesterday to stay out longer. I am grateful for this wonderful CA weather, that I have a super bike to ride, and a library around the corner filled with books on cassette waiting for me to check them out.

11/14/07: It's a sunny morning, I have my day's food journal filled out, and I'm full of oatmeal, flax and blueberries. My shipment of Oki should be here tomorrow, Friday at the latest...I AM SO EXCITED!! And tonight I have a Chamber of Commerce mixer - that is my challenge today. I know I will be fine at the mixer, it's across town and I have to drive home so no drinking. And I'm not ever the fat lady who eats too much in public - I'm more likely to do that when I am alone. It's the drive home that scares me; Wendy's, Popeyes, Jack's etc etc etc (we really are a fast food nation, it's so sad.) So I will have water and an apple in the car, and I will fix dinner before I leave so that I know all I have to do is zap it in the microwave when I get home, and I will have an afternoon snack later than usual to tide me over. lol, you'de think I was going to war with all this planning, but really, I am aren't I? Off to my bike ride, then home to figure out what to wear. Did I put that on my list? One day I am going to be able to open my closet, pick out something and know that it's going to fit. No more trying on a dozen different things to see what fit's best, balancing comfort with appearance. My wardrobe is rather shabby because I refuse to buy anything that actually fits- always intending to lose weight and fit into the smaller sizes I have lurking in plastic tubs, bottom drawers and the back of the closet. I wonder how much money I have wasted having to dash out to Target at the last minute to buy something that fits just to be presentable for a single occaision?? Multiply that by thousands of others like me who do the same thing and it's no wonder we outsource the work. Just think, fat women are driving the economy of the world!! Oh to be rich and slender and able to buy american made clothing!! And that is the future I see for myself with Orenda and their new Oki superfood drink ;) Now for my stretching and my bike ride, and finding some joy in the day.

11/13/07: Working on my ritual: Elements:

1. A white candle, I actually have about a dozen of them left over from the centerpieces at my daughters wedding in 2003 - an endless supply for my purpose.

2. A small glass bottle containing essential oil of grapefruit. I had this on hand, originally purchased to help with depresseion and weight loss as a topical application, but it can be used in vapour form too and I will use this to 'dress' the candle.

3. A book of matches. Not just any book, but from a collection my grandfather amassed as he travelled the world in his profession as photographer. He was on Staff at House Beautiful for 30 years, is it any wonder my sister dreamed of becoming what she architect? But I digress ;) 4. An invocation. I am still working on this. I feel like a writer at heart, and I want the words to be perfect. Well, not perfect, I'm trying to get past that little flaw, but meaningful and positive to attract good energy. While originally the idea was to banish, instead I want to focus on drawing in strength and being positive. You know, like attending a peace rally instead of an anti-war rally.

5. The ceremony. Drawing the elements together. Something like....ten deep cleansing breaths (I need to make a prayer bead string) while humming on the exhale (they say the humming releases good endorphines), then dropping oil onto the candle top, an offering. Then lighting a match while invoking the love and strength of family, here and gone, while facing south - the home of fire, where the winter sun shines through my office window, through which I can watch squirrels and blue jays feasting on the treats I leave there. "With this match I call upon ... etc , you get the idea. Then lighting the candle while saying the positive affirmation I have yet to decide upon. Then keeping the candle lit until it has rejuvinated my will to be healthy. Then damping the flame out while giving thanks for the help recieved - this will also be a repeatable phrase of love and respect. Maybe just a traditional 'Blessed Be' or 'Amen'. I actually have a black iron candle holder that has a bell for snuffing the flame hanging from it. Convenient to my purposes!

I'm still working on the words, I don't want this to be forced. I thought about using "Owha Tagoo Siam" but I think laughter might defeat the important nature of my ritual ;) Or maybe it's the laughter that I need! In any case, I'm working on it.

11/12/07: Well, as you can see Cobra1205 made a ticker for me and drivetopless racing to Onederland! The pressure is on, I hope I don't disappoint myself - it would mean the world to me to get below 200#'s. Wait a minute, that sounded awfully fatalistic. Let me rephrase that....I can hardly wait to see who gets below 200 #'s first!!! Cheer us on, it's Onderland or Bust!!

11/11/07 (3:40pm): Why is being left a trigger to eat? How on a day that began so positive can it all turn around so quickly? I picked the kids up from the airport (they brought me back darling wooden shoes from Amsterdam, pic to follow) and their little puggles were so glad to see them. Now they have left to go home and I want to eat. I want to go to safeway and get something bad. Chocolate cake, cheese and crackers, a treat. And that is the feeling, I deserve a treat. I did my good deeds, and now I am alone and somewhere in the deep dark scary recesses of my mind there is a voice that is trying to talk me into this destructive behavior. "You deserve this, eating shouldn't be such a big deal, it will only be this once, JUST DO IT" says the little devil sitting on my shoulder. I have eaten a bowl of veggie soup, and I am trying to change out of my day clothes into sweats - delaying tactics. "But you've done so well all week, one little splurge won't hurt", the wee red beastie pleads into my ear. "Which is why you keep maintaining instead of losing Sweetie" says the Angel perched on the other shoulder, and follows up with, "How badly do you want those cute jeans anyway??? It's not too late for a bike ride you know." I look out the window at the sunny Autum day and wish I could walk. I wish my knee was better so I could stride out the door and walk it off. Riding the bike is great, but it doesn't have the same theraputic cadence as walking does. makes me think of prayer beads and the calming repetition of habit. That's what I should be doing, putting on sweats, getting comfy and doing a mid day meditation - but I'm just not feeling it. What I'm feeling is resentment and rebellion. This is the critical point. This is the point I normally say WTF and get in the car and go get...whatever. This is the reason I have been maintaining instead of losing for a year, why I tried using the 5-HTP to suppress cravings, and how I built my fat suit. Okay .. breathe. It occurs to me that I need to find the power to get through this moment, this hour, this evening. So what can I do to call up the power. I profess to believe that I have an inner light, a power, God if you will, inside me. I believe in the power to create, and the law of attraction, so how can I use those tools right now. I think I need a ceremony. I think I need a ritual for these specific times to banish the evil voice, so to say. Lets see, candles, wine, maybe a bowl to burn my list of evil thoughts? Okay. Put on sweats, pour a glass of red wine, and research online how to create a banishing ritual. I can do this, it's just crazy enough. Something meaningful and repetative, that will with time become so powerful that all I will have to do is think of doing it and the negative thoughts will be banished. Poof. Gone. ROFL...just had a visual of me and my two little NS bears sitting in a circle of candles, chanting. Too too funny. But really, I am off to write a banishing ceremony. It feels right.

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11/11/07: Back in the day, Sunday was the official party day. Pots of chili, football games, and friends coming over. Of course back then people would disappear to share a joint or make a run to the liquor store because somehow no one was ever able to plan ahead for enough beer. I was the 'designated care giver' for the kids that would show up to play with Rhiannon, and why I put up with living that way for so long...well, I loved my husband. What can I say. Over the years we moved away from those friends and that lifestyle (well, I did anyway) and then Joey came along. As the kids got older, Sundays became the day we both had off from work for family time. We would go to Carnegie Park where the three of them would ride their dirt bikes in the Winter, or go with friends to the Delta to ski in the Summer. As my ex slipped down his slippery slope of addiction and disappeared more and more, Sundays were still special for me and the kids. No matter what we did during the day, that evening we would fry up a batch of home fries, and take them still draining on a big brown paper bag to the living room. There we would sit on the floor, the three of us diving into the fries & catsup and watching Disney together. Sunday's were like a little piece of Christmas each week that I could look forward to, and that feeling remains. It may just be me here today, but I don't feel alone, I have many blessing to count, and I am glad it is Sunday ♥

11/10/07: This morning started with an ocular migraine which just ended. I know I have about 2 hours to prepare for the crash that's coming. Does anyone else ever get these? They are strange; I get what looks like a crystal crescent moon in the middle of my vision that expands until it disappears around the edges of my field of vision. Very pretty, a little disorienting, and no pain, but I know in a couple of hours I will be on the couch napping, wake up ravinous, and feel like a wrung out rag the rest of the day - which typically leads to more eating. So how to plan for this??? I am currently cooking brown rice noodles to make a whole grain, LF mac n cheese. That should fill me up without doing too much damage. Luckily there is nothing horrible in the house to eat and I won't be able to drive. Thinking about it now I guess there is nothing to panic about; I have a butternut squash to add to the mac n cheese bulking it up with something nutritious - guess I'd better go throw that in the microwave. And I have a couple of huge Honey Crip apples that I can bake for something sweet later; wish I had some of that Vermont sugar free syrup to drizzle on them! When my friend left for Texas last spring I inherited a bag of brown sugar that I've been steadily working my way through 1T at a time, that will work (I was taught waste not want not by 12 years of food service managing a Round Table Pizza Parlour - it's hard to throw anything away ;). As soon as the noodles are done I need to do some stretching and breathing exercises during the interim I have before the lethargy sets in - it seems to help, which makes sense since this has something to do with "blood flow in the visual cortex or occipital lobe" and I want to make sure I am getting oxygen to my brain. I hate losing a day, but think I will make the most of it by splurging on some pay for view movies - there are a couple of chick flicks on there I'd like to see, and certainly I can justify splurging on $7.98 to entertain myself while laying on the couch! It's all good, an excuse to do nothing. I wonder if this was brought on by the wheat I ate yesterday at Mimi's? I forgot they serve that rich wonderful carrot cake before lunch ever arrives and I had two small pieces (yes, with butter), and I had half a turkey salad on raisin bread for lunch - more wheat. Maybe not the best choices, but looking at the zillion calories in the plate of pumpkin pancakes or the grilled ruben or the corn chowder the others were eating I felt pretty good about what I ate! I'm rambling, hausta la vista, or something like that.

11/9/07: Pancakes for breakfast! I tried the Gluten free mix by Arrowhead Mills, replacing the oil with applesauce (I always have some little snack packs in the cupboard) and using egg whites. While those were cooking I warmed in the microwave 1T ground peanuts (no salt, from the nut bar at Safeway) 1T FF cream cheese and 1T brown sugar. I made one batch, which they post as 2 servings, but I spread my topping over three and was full. I made 8 little pancakes so that was less than a serving. What a yummy breakfast! Fat, Protein, Carbs, fruit all in a cute little package ;) I am going to lunch with the red hat ladies today at Mimi's. I'll check online to see what the best choices are, and there are a couple of ladies who might share a lunch with me. Regardless of how, I will make it a healthy lunch. Because this morning my waist is 36" and I am back to this place I remember...where my stomach sticks out instead of hanging down, and I want to hang on to the progress I've made in the last couple of weeks. It's chilly this morning, the driveway burning into my bare feet as I called Harry in to breakfast, and I am grateful I have the option to wait until later to take my bike ride when it is warmer out. Leaning hard today to keep the boat on an even keel ;)

11/8/07: I didn't weigh this morning..I'm so silly. I had a sweet potatoe for dessert last night and it felt so heavy I didn't want to take the chance on not seeing a good number this morning. I nuked it, cut into chunks, threw an ounce of FF cream cheese on top and threw it back in the microwave for a minute. Then I added 1T of brown sugar and mashed it up. Heaven on a paper plate ;) It's grey again today, where did my Indian Summer go??? This is a moment of challenge. It would be easy to skip the bike ride again...but NO, I am going to change, take my cd player, and hit the road. Last year I splurged and bought myself some knit angora gloves so my hands would be warm while riding, so there are no excuses! I made a new kale & chickpea soup the other day using cumin and cinnamon. Towards the end I added in brown rice noodles - it came out very yummy! Having soup ready in portions in the fridge is comforting somehow, especially on a gloomy day. And it's good to know dinner can be ready in a flash when I get back. Exercise always makes me ravinous! Okay...forcing myself to go...going...going...BACK! It's interesting how when riding a bike on a cool day that things just balance out. The longer and faster you ride, the hotter you get, but the colder & harder the wind beats against your face cooling you off. Works out just fine. I saw a Great Blue Heron, A Great White Egret, a common egret, dozens and dozens of ducks, and the crowning jewels of the day were the double-crested cormorants! They are my favorites to watch. Glad I went, and glad to be home.


11/7/07: During this morning's meditation an old song popped into my head and I found myself singing softly to myself as I lay there in the warmth and security of my bed. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine; let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." My Uncle Guy Carawan has been a source of pride for me my whole life. He sang "We Shall Overcome" to Martin Luther King; he traveled with my Aunt Candie to the south where he brought the 'voices from the mountains' to the world, they traveled to war torn countries to give voice to the people by finding their songs and stories. But what I remember most is being a small child, and having Uncle Guy sing to us at family gatherings. I really knew I was blessed as a child; there were so many things - summers at Lake Arrowhead, both sets of grandparents close and ready to spoil us, a mother who read wonderful stories and brought my imagination alive. These are all things I am grateful for, positive things I can feel good about, a strong foundation for this next part of my life. And now I have four days under my belt that I can feel great about. It is an amazing thing that here on the morning of day 5 I still feel positive, focused and ... god, I can't even think of the word that means the opposite of stressed! Calm? Confident? When I got on the scale this morning I weighed less for the fourth day in a row, and when I sat down at my computer and saw 'my' bootlet’ jeans on the desktop .. well, lets just say I could feel that little light of mine shining strong.

11/6/07: Yesterday Orenda announced a new product, a liquid super food based on the aronia berry. I am so excited! I can hardly wait for it to arrive, I'm thinking this is just the boost I need. They will be talking about the science tonight on a national conference call if anyone is interested (6:30pm PST to 1-512-225-3540, code 38001#) I've had three good days in a row now and I'm down a # this morning. I did go to Kohls yesterday but they didn't have the new bootlet jeans. It started me thinking though, I do have a sewing machine and could alter some jeans I already have. Maybe tonight that will be my 'stay out of the kitchen' project since I will be alone. This time of year Harry is on the road a lot. In the past it would be an excuse to eat junk, or skip if my weight doesn't tell the real story of what I do when he is gone. But my weight isn't about who can see what I eat, or putting on a healthy show and then falling apart when I am alone. My weight is about who I am, or rather, who I want to be. I am trying to see myself as a separate entity (which I am, duh) responsible for how I want my life to be regardless of where Harry is or what he is eating (can you say Reno Buffet?) Yesterday Karen asked us to list why we wanted to lose weight, and this morning watching Harry getting ready to leave I realized that nothing on the list had anything to do with him. So why then, should him leaving have anything to do with my behavior? I think I am finally getting to the point where I am not fooling myself anymore, and in fact am tired of playing that game. So who am I and what do I want? I am a 52 year old woman who is tired of 'waiting'. And I want me and Migs and Tracy to all be in Onederland by NYE. So today is about hitting the grocery store this morning while it is gloomy and foggy outside, then working from my home office and waiting until it's warmer to take my bike ride. And since I have to get in the garage to get my bike out, while I'm there I might as well get out a pair of size 14 jeans that are packed away out there and see if I can't do something about making them a 'bootlet' cut.

11/5/07: Two good days in a row, I'm looking for a miracle today to make it three. Oh, wait, I don't need a miracle..I have you guys, and jeans to think about ;)

11/4/07: I want the jeans Kimiki has posted on her page. And I want them in a size 14! Maybe if I can't do this for myself I can do it to have the jeans I want? Whatever works. I'm going to copy the pic to my desktop, and ask Karen who carries them, and maybe even buy them ;) Update: even though that particular jean might never fit my curvier build, I still posted them on my computer for inspiration. (

11/2/07: The big plan: not gaining weight through the Holidays. And I'm thinking that is a little pathetic. What I really want is to be 199 by New Years Eve I can eat appies and drink champagne without remorse. All this time and I am still food-centric. I guess I will label this part of my life as ... transition. I envision a future where I live a good life that includes healthy cooking on a daily basis, bites here and there of something yummy while dining out, and the occaisional ice cream treat. Today I watched Ellie Krieger make a Plum tart, I wanted to reach in the TV and just pull it into my lap. I have been eating fruit for dessert lately just because I am lazy and it's convenient. Come to think of it, since I stopped journaling everything has been out of whack. I've been trying to find my natural rhythem, and what has happened? I am eating dinner at 3 and having a snack around 6, then dessert about 8 or 9 which is probably way too late to be eating. But I am just following my hunger for a change to see where it takes me. Breakfast and lunch haven't changed, except I seem to eat more calories at breakfast and skip the 10am snack I used to need. I made a yummy dinner today; I steamed brussels sprouts until about half done, then stir fried with fresh fennel & onion. Then at the end I measured in 2 servings each of shredded veggie cheese (italian mix) and brown rice (pre-cooked) and covered the pan to steam for a few minutes. Some freshy ground pepper at the end and some NuSalt. I love making balanced casseroles & stir fry's that have the whole grain, veggies & protein all together in one dish. LOL, how funny, that is what NS does too! Go figure....

11/1/07: I dropped the kids off at SF Int'l Airport this morning; they are off to ten days of travel starting in Glasgow, then concerts in Amsterdam & finally visiting family in London before heading home. I have my Grand Puggles while they are gone. And today I am ashamed to say I have a sugar hangover. We had very few trick or treaters, too much wine, and then too much candy. Today has been one those days out of time where I just feel like I need to be quiet and recover; I know from experience that tomorrow I will get up ready to fight the good fight, make my oatmeal for breakfast, and plan for a healthy day. So what else is new. But I wanted to take the time to note that even trying something new that I think will make a change for the better in my is hard to form a new habit. 'They' say it takes 21 days of repetition, but it has been a challenge to just get in two days in a row! How can I keep forgetting something that is easy, free, simple and for my betterment? (This would be the meditation part of my program.) And now the Puggles are telling me it's time to get off my butt and feed them; no rest for the wicked! Just as well, I intend to cut myself short when the whining starts ;)

10/28/07: I ended up driving home from Ventura last night; my mind was saying 'light a fire, curl up, read a book, enjoy the rain' but somehow the whole time I was thinking that my body was watering plants, cleaning up & packing to go home. This is nothing new, lots of us know how disconnected out bodies & brains can be (the mind screaming NO as your hand reaches for the chocolate...) Regardless of how I got here, it was wonderful to wake up in my cozy bed this morning and luxuriate in the warmth a while before finally getting up. I loved my time in Ventura, but I am glad to be home, glad it's Sunday, and grateful that I have my own little house to take care of in my own way. I have come away from my trip with new goals; to find something each and every day that makes me happy, to pay as much attention to my Spiritual needs as I do to my Physical ones, and to be kinder to myself. Today I am unpacking my 'Corpse Bride' for the Samhain celebration - there's the 'happy' part of my day!

10/24/07: Most of us have had those moments that turn your heart into lead and drag your shoulders to the ground. The feelings that come when you haven't done what you said you were going to do, and have failed to complete a task despite brave intentions. I think of the day I decided to join the HC, and I can remember the positive energy, the determination that this time it would be different, and I have no explanation for why it wasn't. I fight everyday, and I grow increasingly tired of the battle. And therin lies the problem; I think I am fighting on the wrong front, so to speak. As I told a good friend, I need to turn inward and work on this from a different angle. I have said before I need to do this, but this time I have a plan, a new mantra, a new way to begin and end each day. Now, to implement the plan, to find a way to forgive myself and let the pieces of joy I find in each day begin the healing. Then maybe the body will follow....

10/21/07: Last night I tried something new from Trader Joe's, a 'Chile Lime Chicken Burger'. I made a sandwich using the sprouted rye bread & avacado for my fat - it was very good, lite with a little spice. The stats are even ns friendly as a protein serving at 110 calories, 15g protein and 3g fat. I think next time I will use a patty to make a tortilla soup (sans tortilla strips of course. Unless I get around to making my own so I can control the fat content...or maybe using one of the whole grain wraps, now there's an idea!) This morning I am pretending that I am once again a 'purple bear' girl, my sister's scale puts me at 209.9 - and while I can't really post it (we all know how different scales read) for at least today I can pretend and feel motivated. :: I saw something new this morning looking down from the deck, the sun glinting off a train as it wound it's way through the palm trees in town; I am grateful that at 52 such a simple thing can still gladden my heart, that we live in a fascinating world and that there will always be something wonderful. Oh, I finished the book yesterday, mesmerized by the words and the ideas. And there was actually a new idea that I am pondering. No, I won't give it up here, I think that her experiences led up to the idea and it would be wrong to simply state it without the 'lead in.' But once again I say, if you haven't 'eat pray love' by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, for my morning meditation* (Ham-sa (a soft and drawn out hahhhm, not like the pig, and sahhhhh that rhymes with Ahhhhhh) which in Sanskrit means "I am that" - "I am That, I am divine, I am with God, I am an expression of God, I am not separate, I am not alone." This from the book, and it's simplicity touched me.

10/20/07: Yesterday was a good food day. I might not have eaten enough protein, but I never stuffed myself, ate only foods full of nutrition (with the exception of a small pat of european butter...omg!) and felt satisfied all day. Even driving home from the store hungry because there wasn't anything here I wanted for breakfast, I wasn't tempted to stop for fast food. Instead I came home, unpacked the groceries and made myself a wonderful brunch. It felt good to feel hunger pangs for a change. Last night I made my oatmeal, and added some roasted ground flax with blueberries that I found at Trader Joes; between the cut oats, the flax and the fresh blueberries I added this morning it brings the fiber up to 10g, my breakfast goal. I bought some Chrysanethemum tea to try, it was suggested as an alternative to Chamomile, and... it tastes like lightly sweet artichokes! A very robust flavour, totally unexpected and wonderful! I also picked up some African Honey Bush, a favorite of mine, so now I have morning and evening herbal teas. My sister asked me for a "strange" favour while I was keep her Kombucha 'mother' alive while she is gone. You can google Kombucha for the details, but in essence they drink fermented tea as a health supplement. While frustrated because my sister isn't interested in the wellness products I sell and instead goes through this complicated fermenting process, I at least have the grace to understand we all have to find our own way. Did I mention I am reading 'eat pray love' by Elizabeth Gilbert? My sister read it while on our surfing trip this past spring, was much taken by it, and left it out for me to read. It is the story of a woman discovering herself, and for those like me who missed the whoopla this summer, I recommend it - it is well written and much to my great surprise she was actually able to put into words how I feel about God, something I haven't been able to do very well - other than noting I think God is too big to fit into a church. But reading her story makes me realize that I have been on my own journey since my son died; I thought I was only working my way through grief, but I see now that I have also been trying to find myself, trying to connect with the presence of God that I know I hold inside. The peace I feel here, the day I had yesterday free from the strife of having to try to control my eating, these are things I want everyday. I want them in my own home. Today I am going to write a letter to God outlining how I want my life to be - that is my work today. And lunch..I have sprouted rye bread and avacados (mashed up with beans) to make a sandwich; it's such a wonderful feeling to know healthy food is on the way and to be able to wait calmly until it is time to eat it.

10/19/07: It is peaceful. Waking up, stretching on the porch, watching the wisps of fog retreat from the palm trees as the city lights twinkle and die - food for the soul. I have a map, and have googled Trader Joes. I forgot my herbal tea and while my sister's selection is wonderful there is nothing Decaf. I am having a weak cup of green tea while I wake up; now, to fill the day! Oh, and she has some sort of fluffy fiber mattress cover and turning in for the night was like burrowing into heaven, so cozy and decadent! Also no oatmeal in the cupboard, so I am off to pick up a couple of things. I feel calm here, it is wonderful; like taking a vacation but with the comfort of home. She has furniture and mementos of our grandparents everywhere, it's like a piece of me was already here before I arrived. And her neighbor came out to say hello, saying how much I sound and look like her. LOL, she was too polite to say "except much larger of course." But I even feel like I could be slender here, like there is magic and health in the air.

10/17/07: I was looking forward to walking on the beach, but my knee isn't repairing as fast as I'd like - I know my stress level is affecting my healing, or lack thereof. I leave tomorrow for Ventura and I miss the security of my little home already. I have plans to work, I can do that from anywhere, and to visit Lu Ross for a massage, and to spend time at the beach. I love my sister's house, I just hope I can relax and enjoy it and not just feel lonely. It's times like this I really miss my dog True - I am alone too much. And I haven't been cooking since I'm leaving, but I did make a lovely egg white & artichoke heart scramble this morning topped with my usual 1T of lite sr. cream. So so good!! I am taking prechopped veggies to throw together a hearty soup when I get down there. It's an easy drive, about 5.5 hours door to door, and today I will chop and pack veggies & fruit for the trip. I have a few audio books to take - they always make the time fly while driving. BIG SIGH...I wish I were more excited about this. I was, but it's been a rough couple of days - they come in waves and I'm hoping this set is almost done. Part of it is that my SO is on the road for a couple of weeks - I love him more when he is gone and not here to irritate the crap out of me! Paradox. And I received a jury summons, so I have to drive home next week then turn around and drive back - murphy's law at work there! But I am sure I'll be on here oohing and aahing about the view etc. once I get down there. I'll take the camera and post pics when I get back the first time. See you from Ventura!!

10/12/07: Serendipity came to visit. I had made spaghetti squash for dinner a few nights ago and when I was looking for veggies to make an omlette this morning I saw the container of leftovers. It occured to me how much they looked like hash browns! So yes, I put a layer of squash in the bottom of my small omlette pan and let them brown and flipped them over. lol, they even looked like hash browns. Having given up on the omlette idea, I then scrambled in 1/2C of egg whites until done. I had thought of adding some of the red sauce too, but on opening the container the smell wasn't right so I just stuck with the very simple squash and egg scramble. YUMMO! I only seasoned with Nu-Salt and freshly ground pepper and it was wonderful. I think I will bake some off tomorrow, adding zucchini, green onions and some parmesan to the squash & egg and topping with a T of lite sr cream for a special Saturday breakfast. I love how my mind is wandering away from 'traditional' meals and finding new ways to introduce more fruits and veggies in my day. Update: It's raining cats and dogs!! And I have a pot of Sweet Potatoe \ Kale soup on the stove simmering away while I work; I love working from home. ...later: the soup was wonderful ;)

10/10/07: I love that I get to make dinner for my daughter twice a week. She appreciates the time I take to make sure what we have is healthy and filling so she has a good night at school. Tonight I threw 1/2 a head of cauliflower, 6 super large brussels sprouts, 1 large poblano pepper and 1/4 of a yellow onion (everything chopped) into a sauce pan with some organic beef stock, a 15oz can of white beans and some montreal steak seasoning and let it all simmer until done. Then I took one package of Chicken Pasta Parmesan and heated it through in a bowl with 4T of FF cream cheese (30 cal ea) dividing it in half between two large soup bowls. Into each bowl I measured 2 cups of the veggie stew and stirred until blended. It was creamy, spicy & delicious. Dessert was a salad of fresh Mango, Pear and Banana sliced up and tossed. And there are enough left over veggies for me to use in my dinner tomorrow, yay! I'll have a salad later - I'm really starting to get used to having soup or salad for my last meal instead of a sweet. I think eating more fruit during the day is really curbing my sweet tooth. And I am gradually panicking less about not journaling every day. I know I ate enough fruit, veggies & protein today and it doesn't bother me at all I didn't micro manage everything; this is an important step for me. Now, on to important matters....Bionic Woman is on tonight, Boo Ya!!

10/7/07: Glad to be home. It was such an inspirational weekend, and they served healthy choices during the breaks. Then the client of a friend in town did him a favour and drove five of us in his Limo to dinner (I had Talapia, steamed veggies and water) and later dropped us at the airport. I was able to drive home without stopping for anything evil to snack on. (I did make a whole grain wrap spread with FF cream cheese and a little pepper jelly for dessert when I got home - I had to finish my chapter and it had been a long time since dinner!) I was down half a pound this morning and ate great all day even though I was a little tired and reading. Have you seen the new Zero point soups by progresso? I had one for dessert tonight...they are high in sodium!! I guess the salt substitutes don't have the preservative nature of salt?? I mean, normally if someone is counting points they are also watching their sodium...seems a no brainer to me that these new soups should have been 'reduced sodium'. But I added my 1T of lite sr cream and hot crushed red peppers to trick it out and it made a great fifth meal.

10/4/07: Updating my weight for the HC I looked back at the graph and realized I am the same weight that I was on 1/14/07. Ten months of maintenance. After a BIG sigh, I take a moment to be glad I haven't gained. But I also feel I have spent an awful lot of time and energy out of my 'life' to get nowhere.... lol, sort of like being on a treadmill! Every time I think I am ready for change, ready to step back into life again, I rebound into depression. I have a busy month planned, I am hoping that focusing on that will make a difference.

10/2/07: I leave Thursday evening for Phoenix. I am sad that I am missing the NS Vegas trip, but I need this bootcamp to get back into the swing of working. It will be easy to make healthy choices-I'll be surrounded by others in my business who are focused on health and I can count on being in a positive & supportive atmosphere. Today's challenge is sorting through and finding clothes to pack. I aim to remain calm, and not beat myself up for not fitting into the smaller sizes yet, and take only what is comfortable. I've been snacking at night the last two nights, but nothing bad and not too much - still in the losing zone. (Sharing a room will solve that problem while in AZ!) I think the snacking is from the emotional strain of working in the garage, and letting go of so much. It actually feels good to lighten the load and open up space in there, it's just stressful saying goodbye to things...but after all, they are just things. (Working on not eating from emotion is an ongoing battle.) But back to our project, each day in the garage we continue to organize and thin out more stuff; I have to place ads today for some of the things that didn't sell, and post a couple of others on Craigs List that are too fragile to ship, but it's looking pretty good out there. Today's chore: I am organizing all the painting supplies and boxing up the items to recycle getting ready for a hazmat drop. I am planning my day's food around a LF sandwich from Subway (Veggie Delight on Sourdough.) I can't keep bread in the house, it's a red light food, so this is a good way to scratch that itch ;) I expect to see some new bears for some of you when I get back, and my puple bear has his nose up over the edge of the box he is currently in and I hope for him to come back out when I get home too; Rock on, Losers ♥♥ Update: Half way through the line I realized I was at Togos and not Subway! There was no Veggie Delight, and thinking I was choosing something comparable, I chose the regular hummus sandwich. BIG MISTAKE! 790 calories, 28g protein, 31g fat, 104 carbs, 5g fiber and 1700g sodium. OMG! Now I have to figure out how to eat the rest of the day. I'm so used to making lowfat hummus at home I had forgotten what can be done to it. Next time I get the urge for soft yummy bread I'll go to the grocery store and buy a single roll from the Deli and make my own sandwich!! Good Grief!!

9/29/07: Garage sales are like have to forget the pain before you can think about doing it again! It's all good except for that last hour when you have to sort between garbage and donations (garage sales, not babies.), now I can hardly move I am so tired! But I declined a burger at lunch, and was on my feet all afternoon (I'm counting it as my exercise even though I wasn't panting..lots of lifting) so all in all a good day! In fact there have been several good days, yay! Tomorrow we rearrange the garage so the treadmill and bowflex fit in, getting ready for winter workouts. We kept a little TV that has a built in VCR and lots of old favorite movies on tape so we have stuff to watch while out there. My DH and I sometimes have a problem working together, but I am determined to take off my 'manager hat' and let him make lots of decisions...I hate it when my mother's words come out of my mouth! Another great use for Duct Tape.

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9/27/07: I've committed to house sit while my sister is away for three weeks in Argentina with her bird watching boyfriend. She has the best house, on the hill in Ventura overlooking the city lights and the ocean. I am curious how being away from home will affect my weightloss efforts. I will be able to walk along the ocean everyday if my knee is better, otherwise...well, I know she has lots of exercise tapes and I'll just have to modify. (While I am healthier, she is the thin sister) It's funny, I don't even leave to go down there for three weeks and I'm already stressing. But I need to get out of my shell, and this is the perfect opportunity. I'll spend time before I go planning two weeks of daily menus and working on the shopping list - that should help fill my nights until I go. I'll leave with a cooler full of chopped veggies and fruit and my last stop on the way there will be the grocery store with list in hand so I arrive at the house ready to cook healthy. I'm going midweek to avoid traffic and early enough to be there in time to shop and cook dinner the first night. My mind is racing this morning. Raisin toast, freshly made cashew butter and half a banana sliced on top with a drizzle of honey makes a wonderfully filling breakfast. The difference between now and then is that now the Raisin toast is whole grain, the cashew butter ground from roasted unsalted nuts and measured, and it's only half a banana instead of a whole one. I'm out of flax or I would have sprinkled some on top of the honey. And while this is a higher fat breakfast than I normally have (oatmeal) it is a wonderful, countable, treat for a change. And I need the extra energy this morning to work on the garage for the sale this weekend ;)

9/26/07: Okay, stop reading now if you don't want to read the bad words.....Chinese food, pizza, ice cream...we ate it all at one point over the past week. But having a fridge full of veggies and a counter full of fruit helped. I drank all my water and exercised a couple of days. All in all I am not terribly unhappy about the .8 gain - I expected worse. I think the HC at least has helped me maintain this month and I am ready to move on and down. Checking profiles I am thrilled so many NS buds are rockin it...especially NevadasMom1 ... she really is ON FIRE!!

9/22/07: I love coffee, lattes to be more precise. I haven't had one in ages and waking this morning to the sound of rain, the craving for one emerged with me from sleep. Decaff, non fat, no foam latte...home made and 1T of brown sugar. Yum. I am not sure what this winter will bring; historically that's when I switch from tea to coffee and drink Decaff in the morning with sweetener, but I'm not using that anymore and I don't want to be adding sugar each morning. I'll try sticking to tea and see how that works. Maybe indulging in coffee will turn into a weekend treat. Update: Felt like crap all day...even the Decaff is too strong now!

Taking a break from oatmeal this morning I fried up some left over potatoes and made them O'brien style, scrambling in mexican hot peppers and green onion, then adding egg whites. Served with salsa and 1T of LF sr cream it was a scrumptious breakfast. 9/28 is blood work day for me, so I will stick to plants until then. If tests show that 12 days of a plant based diet can lower cholesterol by 25pts, surely five days can make a dent? Determined to stay off meds, I will insist on a 64CT scan of my heart for proof of damage before I let her prescribe anything. (Being an HMO I am guessing they won't approve it and we will be at an impass!) But I have been very concientious about salt intake, not even adding it to the potatoes this morning, so I am hoping my BP is down. I have eliminated processed cold cuts (ham is the only thing I miss) and try to stay away from canned foods. I do have a stock of vegetarian chili (can't pass up those sales!) that isn't so great on the sodium scale and I will have to use it sparingly. I haven't worked my way through these past few years just to drop dead or disabled from a stroke. And changing the subject. we finally have a start date for the trial proceedings - January 14, 2008. By the time they get through motions and select the jury it will have been two years since Joey was killed; he would have been 24 this coming Monday.

We spent yesterday pulling boxes and bags out of the garage, sorting through for garage sale items. Everything is now tarped and tucked safely under a pop up tent in the driveway -we were rained out! But it gives us another week to get organized which is good. I found some albums too; sounds nice & cozy doesn't it...rain, coffee and LP's to play. I have several boxes I brought in to sort through so there will be some minimal work involved! I hate my pack rat jeans (pun intended) and I am focused on thining out the past so I can move forward.

9/21/07 (later): Don't drink and dial!, or post. No worries, I deleted it all!

9/21/07: It's funny how habit can be stronger than intention. I went to the store for perishables and saw the lean ground turkey on sale, buy one get one free! So I bought them. I was at home cooking the first pack to make turkey casserole when I realized I was cooking meat, and that I had decided not to do that so much. Wierd. I made the casserole using brown rice noodles and zucchini, but then divided it into eight instead of four servings and when I pull each one out I'll add a bunch of veggies to make a meal. The first night I bulked it up with roasted carrots and brussel sprouts - so good! Now I have to cook the second package of turkey; it will be taco seasoning, peppers and onions, then divided up into eight servings and into the freezer. I'll use those for taco salads, enchiladas, and wraps. That's a lot of animal protein for someone trying to go vegetarian!! What a goof. Speaking of which, did you know that cows contribute towards global warming more than cars? I hadn't known for thought.

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9/19/07: It's really hard to post my gain, but at least the last two days of 100% mitigated the damages. lol, I'm more concerned with disappointing friends than myself! Last night I made a wonderful veggie enchilada casserole, and luckily the repair men were quick and we were able to eat by six. And it's nice to have left overs waiting for Thursday so that will be an easy dinner. We are having a garage sale Saturday and I haven't even begun to sort and price. I have a lot of my son's things I need to find homes for so yes, a difficult job, but my SO is home this weekend to help and I always eat better with him around; I am planning yummy healthy comfort food though! (See mac n cheese recipe on NS profile-you might need a magnifying glass...) The winds are blowing in a storm out there today and I have umbrellas upside down out back, Rain??? where did the summer go? I'm suppose to be in my size 14 jeans by now!! I am grateful to have jeans that fit and that I'm not out buying a larger size. But Really!!

9/18/07: Oprah was interesting yesterday. Dr. Oz had swallowed a Pill Cam after fasting for 24 hours so they could "see" the passage through the digestive track. A little gross but what the heck. Mostly he was there to promote the new TV series on Discovery Health, "The Truth About Food". If you don't get the channel they have the info on their website I think there are 80 experiments that were done in various parts of the world. Of interest to me was the one where increasing calcium\magnesium in the diet both relived PMS symptoms and promoted weight loss. While I still think milk is a bad choice ( I have been unable to wean myself from the hard 'italian' chesses and the occaisional yogurt.; at least now I have some justification for consuming them! My children were lactose intolerant and I know I can get calcium other places - I think I need to add corn tortillas back to the menu more often and review which veggies are higher in calcium. (ooh, veggie enchiladas, I had forgotten!) I watched the first two episodes of the show and they also showcased fiber for 'moving things along', had a group eating nuts, veggies and fruit (all raw) for 12 days with great results in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure (they all lost weight too). It took 11#'s of food for them to get enough calories for the day - they could rarely finish all the food and grazed all day trying to eat it. Oh, and one green olive provided their sodium each day, what a hoot. But they all looked and felt noticably better. While I can't imagine doing this it did support my reasons for moving to a more plant based diet. My casserole came out wonderful last night, it's such a joy to eat potatoes and not feel guilty! My DD comes back to dinner on Wednesday and has requested mac n cheese; I'll use brown rice noodles, cauliflower, shallots, and make the sauce from LF cottage cheese, the grated italian blend, and some LF soy cheddar. It comes out yummy, and like the potatoe casserole last night I'll measure everything and only make 3 portions since it's a red light food for me. I had a half a turkey sandwich on wheat & a small tossed salad at the red hat luncheon yesterday - felt great to make a healthy choice. Have I complained about my refrigerator lately? After they fixed it this last time the freezer stopped freezing, it's like I have one big regrigerator that is slowly losing it's cool (ha ha) and they are coming to fix it AGAIN this afternoon. I am grateful I have food in the house and that I could afford the extended warranty on the fridge when we bought it! Only positive thoughts!

Kudo's out to Marcia, Connie & Doris for getting their magenta bears and Shyla for her aqua bear and to Angela for her green bear♥ ♥

9/17/07: It felt so good to be at the archery tournament yesterday. If nothing else this weekend was a good reminder for why I need to get back to shooting; I was so jealous of everyone and dying to be part of the competition. I think my last proud archery moment was coming in 5th at nationals about five years ago. Jeesh! I have a lot of work to do - I still don't have a lot of confidence in my knee on uneven terrain.

We spent Saturday evening walking around Old Sacramento which I hadn't done in years. (If you're into candy shops and restaurants it's a great place to be.) I did splurge on a bag of loose Sassafras tea - my cup this morning was yummy, mild and naturally sweet. But then googling this morning came up with disturbing results and now I don't even want it! But back to Saturday night; the evening was perfect, warm with a cool breeze off the river, and we were walking slow. Spending quality time with my honey was nice, we haven't done that in so long. Dinner was...huge. I was full after one small piece of herb bread, a couple of artichoke hearts (sigh, yes they were fried...and why on earth do we have to order appetizers when dining with business associates??) with dill sauce and a bowl of vegetable beef barley soup. And then came the dinners, I swear each was large enough to feed a small country. I ate my baked potatoe and was done. What do you do when travelling, can't take leftovers, and are full before dinner even arrives? I wish I were brave enough to say "I'm sorry, I don't have a second stomach!" Next time I'll just get it to go and hand it off to a homeless person - there were plenty up there. [After my trip to Mexico this past spring and seeing the different dinners listed for "American appetites" I have been very concious of how much food we are served when dining really is outrageous.] I weighed in this morning because I knew it would be bad, but up 4 pounds??? I'm going to hope to god that at least some of it is salt overload from eating out for two days and drink tons of water today and tomorrow before Wednesday (official scale day.) I will NOT succumb to the urge to fast!! Tonight I am making a potatoe, cauliflower gratin for dinner - a lite recipe of course - since my daughter is coming for dinner. And I am journaling this, at least until this afternoon when we learn on Oprah why we aren't supposed to be counting calories! I hope everyone can make it a good week*

9/15/07: I don't know why I have such a hard time when my SO leaves for the weekend. Maybe because I used to go with him and don't anymore? But he drives away and I start thinking about food. I wonder if it's a reaction to him eating fast food all week, and now he's gone I will sneak a little of my own out of resentment? Or if it's just the is my best friend when no one is watching...thing? But in anycase, it is something I am working on. So I decided yesterday I would go to the grocery store and instead of wasting fast food calories, I would pick out something I really wanted, not just a quick fix, and try to make it healthier. Well once I gave myself permission to do that I spent quite a lot of time wandering around the store trying to figure out the perfect thing to satisfy my itch. I ended up with a single serving teeny tiny lemon tart from the bakery counter; so much for the 'and make it healthier' intention. Was it satisfying? No. Was it as good as I wanted it to be? No. Was it even as good as it looked? No. The only good thing good about that tart was that I got home without driving through for junk because I already had it in the car! And of course I couldn't wait for dessert to eat it, I inhaled it as soon as I got home. Later on for my real dessert (Ha!) I ended up throwing a section of cleaned banana squash in the microwave. Once cooked I scooped out the inside, added a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice, and mixed it up with 2T of LF cream cheese and 1T of brown sugar. Filling, yummy, satisfying and countable! It made a much better dessert by far than the stupid tart.

If only I could extend my good mornings (oatmeal and a bike ride) into the rest of the day everything would be fine! Maybe my sister had it right, she ate the same thing (with slight variations) everyday for a few months and just dropped the weight off. Toast and and egg for breakfast. Fruit for snack. Turkey on whole wheat for lunch. Fruit for snack. Loaded baked potatoe (veggies, not butter and sr cream) for dinner. Fruit for dessert. Everyday, over and over. I guess her OCD helped with that? Maybe I should try it just to shake things up.

I was hoping the tweaks I had made to my food choices would have eliminated at least some of the bad days this week! But I battle on. Today's challenge? Driving to Sacramento taking only healthy snacks in the car, then making good choices at dinner out tonight. No problem, I always eat like an Angel when there is someone there to see me ;)

9/14/07: I woke up out of my fog this morning with minimal damage. I know it will be hard leading up to Joey's birthday on the 24th, but I am working hard to get through this without 'punishing' myself with food. I skipped my oatmeal for breakfast yesterday and noticed that it threw the whole day off in terms of hunger and blood sugar so back to the oatmeal this morning! With fresh peaches and cinnamon...yum. A big hug out to Shyla for her 'focus' bear, and to Charlie for breaking through her half-way point! And sending a flow of golden energy out to Kimiki all the way across the country to help with her back [I'm helping you stretch !] Now I'm off to check the race at Cobra12 and see how the gang is doing over at the HC. But only for a half hour, and then it's breakfast and WORK!!! It's cooler today so I can take my bike ride later after working a couple of hours. "You are what you think" "You are what you eat" ...hmmm, "I am eating healthy food today"!! That should be a good mantra this morning ;)

9/11/07: While today is a good time to remember 2001 and count our blessings, it is also a 'trial day' for me (for my son's case) which tends to overshadow everything for me. This is the part of our judicial system where the lawyers all report to the court if they are ready to start jury selection or if once again they need a 'continuance' (more time to prepare.) Because there are 3 lawyers (2 defendants) I have been told to expect it to take a longer time to coordinate all their schedules. Typically I start out these days with no appetite, then by afternoon I start loading up on carbs to get that numb feeling and pass out for a nap. I am determined to do better today. I will force myself to choke down my oatmeal cakes this morning, maybe a humus salad for lunch, and a bike ride this afternoon if I feel the stress piling on. OR...I'll just disappear into my book and eat a pound of baby carrots! I was going to roast a tray of carrots today in order to split the Teriyaki dinner into two servings, but they may have to be sacrificed to book munching. We'll see. In any case, there was a part of the lifetime summer series I am enjoying (Side Order of Life) where two women are sitting getting their chemotherapy, and one says to the other...Don't let your cancer be a trump card. And I realized that is exactly what I have been using my grief for...a trump card. The ultimate excuse for bad behavior, both towards myself and others. Now that I am aware of this, I can only be more grateful for the patience of those around me who put up with it, and try my hardest to stop playing that card. Today will be a good test. Chin up, Cheery Ho, and out to greet the day, because no matter what we are grieving, life does go on

9/10/07: Back down a pound this morning, I wan't going to weigh until Wednesday but some days you just feel lighter and have to jump on to see ;) But of course I have lost this same pound about a million times in the last six months!

9/9/07: Okay! Back on track & using my journal! The subject when I stopped into chat last night was baby steps (What About Bob? - great movie) and I re-thought my approach. I'm not ready for a 180 degree change. I love to journal - it keeps me in line on good days and helps the rest of the time - and maybe I really do need to obsess right now - so scratch that change! I made small adjustments to my menu goals, lowering the protein and raising the carbs, & I'll just keep the amount of animal protein to a minimum. I have several meals prepared ahead for the next few days and lots of fresh fruit and veggies to work with. The water is going down easy and I am ready to focus on the, can you tell I'm having a 'manic' day??? I even posted the days menu because I know that's how it's gonna happen. And as I'm sure you have heard...Biggest Loser starts Tuesday! While part of me thinks its cruel and unusual punishment another part of me is fascinated and I do get motivated watching it. And I can start back to the gym tomorrow, yay!!, on the very lightest weights, but it's a start. I am determined not to waste anymore of the time I have left on the HC and I'm catching the Onederland bug ;)

9/8/07: Well last night the craziness reared it's ugly head. I am finding that in my excitement at trying something new, I'm not practicing the important little details I have learned from experience; I will focus more on trying to incorporate everything together. This week I remembered why I can't have a loaf of bread in the house and why I shouldn't spend all day reading. Bread is a 'red light' food for me, as they used to say at WW. I realized what I was doing when the heartburn hit...something I said goodbye to when I first started the low carb diet years ago. I was definitely not practicing moderation when I had my third serving of bread yesterday, but I do love to eat while I read and a sandwich is convenient to that end. So now when I make my humus I will use it in a salad or wrap and save the sliced bread for a treat when out in a controlled environment. So back to last night...there I was yet again pacing the house fighting to stay in control. I am guessing the extra bread triggered a low sugar attack, plus once again I have forgotten my 5-HTP for the last couple of days. I need to stick to a routine during this transition or I am afraid I will get lost! I ended up making gingerbread last night, using the Hodgson Mills organic mix I had in the cupboard, and using applesauce, egg whites & water to replace the oil, eggs & milk the directions called for on the box. Then I lightly sweetened some tofutti cream cheese (I wasn't wearing my glasses, it has hydrogenated soybean oil in it so I won't buy it again) with a little powdered sugar to make a frosting. This was so good, satisfied my craving, and I have portioned out the 3/4 of the cake left in the 8x8 pan into servings to eat later in more reasonable quantities! I was a little worried about having cake for breakfast but I was craving my oatmeal this morning, thank the powers that be, and find myself in a positive mood this morning. I have also now inherited a stack of NS dinners, so I think I will start using them to make casseroles, bulking them up with veggies and dividing them into two servings; waste not want not! Now to plan for three heart healthy days leading up to my HC weigh in on Wednesday morning

9/5/07: Typical of the overly optimistic, I am eager to say that so far so good after three days! I copied the menu for day 1 from and so far have made the breakfast (I was out of steel cut oats and used quick oats...yuck! I'll use steel cut next time) which was very filling - nothing different there. But lunch! OMG, I am so happy with the sandwich! Really estatic actually about eating two pieces of bread at the same time which I haven't done in...who knows how long. I picked a whole grain organic with the best fiber I could find (4g per slice). And the garbanzo beans mixed in with all the yummy stuff tasted like...something between tuna and egg salad. Very filling, very fresh & delicious, and one recipe lasts me four days of lunches. Yummy dinners which have basically been veggie soup with beans & barley or rice. I'm not going crazy buying tons of new things, just using the good ingredients I already have. I did use my organic chicken stock (not in recipe) so no, I'm not eating vegetarian. And I couldn't find a fat free mayo that the lunch recipe called for, so I picked the LF Smart Balance Mayo. One of these days I'll input the ingredients and figure out what I'm eating for a day, but not yet. In fact the only hard part so far is making myself NOT journal, and instead try to stay busy doing something working. When I weighed in this morning I was down 1# from the 2.5 I had put back on in my few days of making bad choices, so that made me feel good and I'm looking forward to seeing how the next week goes. Thank you so much for the positive feedback on this difficult choice, I don't think I could do this without you and participating in the online support!

9/2/07: I have been sort of drifting these past couple of days. Not being able to face the calorie count on my food journal Friday I simply stopped journaling. I have noted before that I obsess over it, and spend too much time on it. I have noted I spend too much time focusing on food, and know that it's not healthy to do so, but thought that a tightly orchestrated regime of food was the only way to get a handle on my out of control eating. I have bucked the system many times; hungry, irritated, deprived or just emotional I have tried to walk away from NS. From the plan anyway, knowing it just wasn't working for me like it has for so many others. But I found a community here that I wanted to belong to, and so I kept trying. But my life has changed. I am building a home business, helping my daughter through her & her DH starting up their own business, and my energies are needed elsewhere, outside the realm of micromanaging my diet. I have read The China Study and I think it's time for me to move towards a more plant based diet. And I need to eat when I am hungry instead of planning my meal times; I enter a cycle of deprivation that leads to binging - not good! I have been doing this for a long time, two weeks of being 100% then two days of gaining back all I had lost. It is time to admit that for me, this plan doesn't work. It's not about willpower or wantpower. It's about finding what does work for me. And I will take with me many lessons from NS. Eating every few hours & correct portions are vital. Eating salads and drinking enough water are also vital. I am not giving up my quest for more health and less weight, and I will be using one NS entree a day until they are gone (waste not, want not!) But I will no longer journal my food (and this is REALLY hard for me to think about.) So what is going to be different? I will eat when hungry, using more fruits and vegetables. And only get on the scale Wednesday's for the HC. And if I find myself playing games instead of just recording a number, that too will have to go. I'll still weigh in for the end of the challenge - and like most of us either celebrate or beat myself up for another failure. I have learned so much in the last year, through research on the internet, reading books and articles, listening to others; it's time to put it all into practice what I think is right for me. I am so jealous of those that NS works for, but it's time for me to stop pretending I can be one of them. So many of you say how easy this is, but it has never been easy for me; I am tired of struggling and failing and it's time to try something new

8/30/07: Okay, now that I've figured out I haven't taken my 5-HTP this week it makes more sense about the cravings. And at least yesterday I was able to keep the calories under control if not the content. I'm off for a bike ride before it gets hot; I sure miss that streak of 80 degree weather we had!

8/28/07: I have re-written this entry many times this morning. And finally what I realized is that journaling really helps filter out the BS. I sometimes find myself typing how I want things to be rather than how they are. I'll type an idea and look at it critically and change it and retype it to make it look pretty and sound better and then think...who am I trying to fool? It's great we can select and delete whole paragraphs at a single click; the mighty pen has nothing over the mighty delete button! Suffice it to say that my refrigerator was fixed yesterday (5 hours) and that instead of posting my daily food journal for the day, I am going to try posting it for the previous day. Maybe then I will feel more accountable. I am not sure why the last couple of days have been harder again. Part of it has to do with physical image. First I noticed my waist was more slender and while I felt glad I also felt a mental pressure building. Then yesterday I noticed my face was thinner and the impulse to eat clicked in. I probably would have been fine if I hadn't gone to the car wash, but after taking the four dogs home I felt my car deserved a better cleaning than I could give it. And just inside the door to go pay was the dreaded potatoe chip rack holding the bright red bag of Spicy Thai chips (ginger with an attitude). I didn't even take a moment to think..I just picked them up and paid for them with the car wash. Sitting in the sun, slowly savoring every chip while waiting for the car was divine. 300 calories - gone. I entered them in my food journal and wondered ... if I knew I was going to post the journal the next day would that have helped me remember to take that moment I needed when I had a chance to stop the impulse? So I will start this morning by posting yesterday's food journal, chips and all, and see if it helps. So back to the problem of body image. Yes, there are those of us who rejoice in the new slender person emerging and there are those of us who totally panic. I am of the latter group obviously. And I know I'm not alone, I have read in your profiles the same fear of this new body. The work of figuring out how to overcome 'hiding in a fat suit' is just as important as all my research into how to eat healthy. And after trying to talk to a therapist (which felt ridiculous) I realized that for me the answers have to come from within. I feel that meditation is more critical than ever at this point and I am determined to take the time each day to find my center and feel connected it the power base. I need to figure this out or my weight loss attempts here are going to be futile.

The second problem is retraining away from food as comfort or reward. It was hard taking care of the dogs, and it has been emotional watching my daughter fall in love with her best friend's new baby. She had surgery when younger and while she should be able to have children, there is the chance she won't be able to, and I see those thoughts in her face. Any parent knows the hardest things arn't about you anymore, but about your children. So the chips were my reward for watching the dogs and the lack of willpower was my need for comfort. In retrospect these underlying emotions on top of seeing my thinner face combined with the sight of the red bag made for a weak moment. What is the conspired against me? I am hoping that practicing meditation will give me tools to use when I find myself the center of such a vortex as I did yesterday.

Monday is the new night for dinner with my daughter (I get her between her work and school) and it's fun to eat healthy with her. My DH takes his dinner to his office to eat most nights so it's a treat not to eat alone. (How sad it is to write that.) But with two old men in my kitchen between 4:30 & 9:30 yesterday I wasn't cooking last night. Instead I picked us up chicken tacos - chicken breast, cilantro & pico de gallo on corn tortillas - for our healthy dinner. Yummy and filling and no dishes! So the day ended on a good note, and I feel calm and centered this morning and ready for my new plan of action. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

8/27/07: The only thing good I can say about yesterday is that I stayed under 1600 calories. One would think I would have learned by now that I can't plan a day around treats. I so often fail when I do that, and I think it's because I really do need to eat six small meals a day. Trying to save calories throughout the day to splurge later just backfires on me and I end up cranky and eating too early and then have a snack anyway. I ended up eating a potatoe with light sour cream instead of the ice cream bar I had planned on, I can't believe I feel like I failed when I made a healthier choice!!! And having a potatoe really is a treat, isn't it!! And for the first time in weeks I used real salt on definitely didn't get on the scale this morning. Back to sanity this morning and ready to fight for a good weigh-in on Wednesday for the HC.

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8/25/07: Just back from hospital where I met the newly arrived daughter of my daughter's BFF, one Miss Savanna Carmel, 19" & 8.1#, 9.9 on the apgar scale and already a little cutie. I had thrown a Fudge Graham bar, half an apple & a bottle of water into my purse (mini-backpack) and headed out to await her birth at 12 Noon. She was born at 2:06 and while waiting for her arrival I didn't stop at the coffe cart for a latte, or cookie or danish. I ate my NS lunch and when I got home at 3:45 I had my salad and protein from lunch. I am very proud of myself for staying on plan; in the past this would have been an excuse to splurge on a little something, but I thought of who I wanted to be, and I made good choices. I love those "yay me" moments!
8/23/07: Down another .3 this morning WITH MY JAMMIES ON!! I don't normally weigh everyday but I woke up hungry and that was so wierd I got on the scale. Whoo hoo!!
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8/22/07: I am grateful for the additional .3 I lost after the pizza fiasco; it makes me mad to know I could have reached my 2# goal for the week if I hadn't done that and exercised one more day. Week one down, nine to go!! A big {{{HUG}}} to karen and connie for keeping the home lights burning
8/21/07: Forgive me father for I have sinned...isn't that how it goes? I really thought I was strong enough to have pizza in the house, but I wan't. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that I ate three extra pieces of pizza last night at about ten o'clock. I can't even blame my SO; even though he was the one who got it out of the cooler, I am the one who put it in my mouth. So a little disappointed in myself. At least it was a DeLite and not a regular pizza. I am in the process of making a batch of steel cut oats this morning; I have added raisins for my fruit and it smells so yummy as they rehydrate in the bubbling oatmeal. I will add brown sugar and mexican vanilla in a few more minutes and then it will really smell wonderful. When I get to maintenance I will be able to add a few crumbled walnuts to the top to add a healthy fat. I think the damage from last night is about 450 calories - so less than 500 calories and still a losing day; but I could sure have used that 1/7th of a pound!! On to a day of better choices. (he finished the pizza this morning thank heavens!)
8/19/07: I can't believe it, I'm down a pound this morning. I am so used to losing a half and then seeing it back the next see a loss twice in the same week is just....astounding! I credit this to the positive energy of the HC group and all the positive thoughts it is generating. Two more pounds and the vacation weight will be gone, Yay!! I was craving eggs this morning. We are at almost 3 weeks without a refrigerator at this point. So we went to IHOP. I made good choices except for trying one of my DH's corn pancakes. OMG...I cannot go back to IHOP now...they are sweet cornbread soaked in butter. Now to stay busy all day and burn off these calories! Long gone are the days where one small indiscretion leads to another; I had my treat and I'm back on plan starting the second I put my fork down from that last luscious bite
8/18/07: I always get more exercise when my grand puggles are here. In the evenings we play catch, and this morning I took each of them for a bike ride. Sunny's father is a beagle and he has the ears to prove it; I can ride really fast with him and as he gallops his ears go flying up in the air - if he had ear controls he would be airbourne!
Kashi GoLean Chocolate Caramel bar! It fits the NS guidelines for breakfast, but it is twice the size of most bars. It uses soy protein isolate like NS, but has whole grain from brown rice and no HFCS or that malitol stuff, and nothing hydrogenated. Honey and sugar cane give it a touch of sweetness that enhances instead of being overpowering. YUMMO!! Oh, and it feels like a rice krispie treat in the mouth


Kashi Go Lean Chocolate Caramel








My Story from a Weight perspective:

School Days: Athletic (track, basketball & volleyball teams) and Musical (studied classical guitar and played cymbals in marching band!) No weight problems, but being 'busty' led to a non-deserved rep and didn't help my self esteem. In my early years I was molested by a family member, that didn't help either. I was sneaking food in the middle of the night - I know now it was to cover the emotions of betrayal I was feeling - but I was so active the extra calories were just burned up.

Summers: The first 19 were spent at Lake Arrowhead; sailing, skiing, swimming - no TV, active all day and volley ball or miniature golfing at night. Tan and fit, quite the tomboy. In retrospect quite spoiled too. This is also when I learned to drink ;)

San Francisco: Left home and college in LA for San Francisco the summer I was 19. First apartment and being alone led to bad eating habits; too much pasta and for the first time in my life very little exercise. Still, I was broke and on foot most of the time so weight still not a problem. I moved across the bay, met my ex, floundered in the drug scene for a couple of years (1975-1978) hanging on to the back of a Harley, quit everything Dec 1979 and gave birth to my daughter in Sept 1980. Having just detoxed and working at the family pizza parlour, I gained 80#'s with that pregnancy. I figure that while overeating started in childhood to suppress emotions, this was the real start of the mental weight games.

Marriage: Two beautiful children kept me busy and each spring I would go on the Scarsdale diet to lose the annual holiday pounds. I worked nights, went to aerobic class many mornings, and hovered between 10-30#'s overweight. But years of sustained stress kept the pounds coming on, and despite several tries at WW saw 190 on the scale and freaked out. A year of step class in the gym and Atkins put me back to 175# and I was feeling fiesty, on my way back to goal of 145#. A divorce and a new boyfriend who likes to eat out and I was on my way back up again.

Mid Life: I guess at some subliminal level I knew when he asked me "So are you going to make me lose a bunch of weight" I was giving myself permission to eat when I said "No..." In my defense, I had been unhappy for a long time and I just didn't want to rock the boat. I did become more active, hiking through national parks on the weekends and learning to shoot a bow (which I love) But we ate out a lot, and I stopped eating fowl at home since he is allergic, and all of a sudden I was looking at 200#.

2004: Hurt my back (subscapular thoracic bursitis) training for the annual Vegas Archery tournament. After a trip to Nationals in NY that July the pain was so fierce I had to stop shooting. This led to a year at Kaiser trying to diagnose the pain, and finally the treatment was to "do nothing and let the muscles atrophy and the bursa subside- then we'll start building it back up" OMG - I watched more TV in the next year than I had my whole life before. It hurt to do anything; wash my hair, do the dishes, type, hold a book. I had to leave my job on disability, and it wasn't long before my low level depression became full blown.

2005: Finally kicking myself in the butt I started walking. It helped. My back started improving, yay! So I walked more, and by November was up to walking five days a week, 3-5 miles each day, and sometimes a second short 20 minute walk on summer evenings. I was using some all natural diet aids from my product line and had just gotten back down to 190 AND THEN the plantar faciitis struck. My heel wouldn't stop hurting. The Dr. said I had to stop walking. The depression returned.

2/16/2006: My 22 year old son Joey was killed during a robbery. I cannot begin to describe this tragedy in my life, or how the pain has changed me forever. After not being able to eat for a month I got my appetite back. And with a vengeance. I let myself eat everything and anything I wanted and had limited myself on for years. French Fries, butter, mayonnaise - things I hadn't had in the house forever became my best friends; they brought the numb feeling I craved. Then I stopped cooking and we ate out or ordered in...and just kept eating everything in sight until one day I weighed myself and saw 223 pounds. Of course now that I have a new scale I know it was really probably 230. I told my honey we had to do something, and having just seen the Dan Marino commercial he suggested NS.

NS: I still have to monitor how much I am on my feet (no distance walking), and I still can't use my back fully - the average time for recovery from this type of repetitive motion disorder is 2-5 years (I'm at about 3) so i'm only working part time. I joined Butterfly Life 11/1/06 and while I couldn't use all the machines in their 30min circuit, I was doing enough to lose inches and increase muscle density. It was nice to learn that I have 126# of lean mean fighting machine inside this mess, and I have revised my goal weight to 160# because of it. I haven't been able to exercise since straining the MCL in my right knee surfing this past March so I have to watch the portions very closely-hence the food charts I sometimes post. I look to the profiles of my NS friends for laughter and support, and I am trying hard to follow the NS guidelines. I know by working on healthy eating habits I will eventually start to lose weight again when the time is right and I can add exercise back to my routine.

6/11/07: This day marked the passing of my dog True. I feel lost all over again. She has been my comfort and friend through so much this past dozen years; the house is way too quiet.

May 2008: I've spent the past year reading about nutrition, about how animal protein is linked to disease and cancer, and I have decided to eat mostly plants. During this transition, leaning into nutrition and away from empty calories, I have become healthier & stronger, my depression has abated, and I no longer struggle with eating food in the evenings. I believe that eating for nutrition has changed my life for the better, and while I still indulge in wild game or even cheese sometimes, it's not often. My goal each day is following Dr. Fuhrman's guidelines; I still eat less perfect than I would like, but I have made great headway into eating for health, and I would encourage you to keep reading; to be aware of what you are eating, how it got to your table, and if it has any nutritional value.


I want to share an important part of my life. Four years ago I started using all natural products from Orenda to support my immune system, detox daily, and raise HGH levels - at 48 I was starting to feel old and hated it! Now at 52 I no longer feel like I am getting old. I no longer suffer from allergies or asthma and my sense of core strength has returned despite my lack of normal exercise due to sports injuries. I have had one cold in the last five years and it only lasted a few days. If you would like to know more, I invite you to contact me or call in any Tuesday night at 6:30pm PST to 1-512-225-3540, code 38001# (be sure to hit the pound key after the code) and listen in on a live call. The last Tuesday of each month is usually an all health professionals event. This is my retirement career, want to join me?

Thanks for taking the time to read this♥