Awesome People!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Making Progress, Chia Seeds and Bad News About Matthew

I am actually succeeding at losing weight!  I've got a very long ways to go, but I hit my mini-goal of 15 lbs lost by 3/29/12.  yea me!  I wanted to lose a significant number for the time I've been doing this because I went to see my doctor that day.  I wanted to be able to tell him, "Look what I've done!"  And let me tell you...he was soooo proud of me!  He said that almost everyone who comes to his office in my situation (diagnosed with diabetes because of a weight problem) doesn't do anything about it to help themselves.  They just accept being on meds forever.  Or simply ignore him altogether.  He said I truly made his day.  I'm putting in effort and seeing good results.  Here it is April 1 and I'm down another 1.5lbs already.

My insurance company denied paying for the Victoza the doctor prescribed, and from what I understand it's about $165/mo and you have to buy 3 months at a time.  yikes!  I can't afford that out of pocket!!!  When I first got diagnosed the nurse gave me 2 Victoza pens, which last about a month each.  So I was wondering what he was going to change me to after that since there's no way on God's green earth that I can afford that kind of money.  Before I left he GAVE me 2 more Victoza pens!  (In case you don't know what a "pen" is, it's medicine in what looks like, well, a pen.  You twist the end to dial your dosage, put on a new needle, stab yourself in the stomach and push the button to inject the medication.)  That way there are no vials, and it's super easy to use.  The needle is so small you can't even feel the shot.  It's kind of cool.

The thing that is hardest for me is lunch.  I'm so bored with what I've been eating that it's become the hardest time of the day not to snack on unhealthy things.  So far I have resisted for the most part.  I have an occasional Pringles and two bites of brownie, but nothing serious that has derailed my efforts.  whew!  Usually I have a salad of iceberg, cabbage and carrot slivers, sunflower seeds, light dressing and chicken in the salad. I have also started adding broccoli slaw (slivered up broccoli and carrots) as well.  Oh...and chia pet seeds!  More about that later.  But it's getting BORING.  Sometimes I have a tuna sandwich, which is good.  And a lot of protein, too.  Any ideas on tasty and EASY lunches?  I need some suggestions!!!

Btw, I read something really great the other day...I'm not on a DIE-it.  I'm on a LIVE-it.  How appropriate is that for a long term lifestyle change?

Chia seeds.  They are the seeds that grow chia pets.  Yes, they are edible.  Not only that, but they are actually a powerhouse of nutrition.  The seeds come from Southern Mexico and Guatemala.  They have been cultivated since the Aztecs and Mayans.  They have more antioxidants than fresh blueberries.  They have more fiber than bran flakes.  They have more calcium than 2% milk.  And more fiber, protein and calcium than flax seed.  Plus, they absorb 9 times their size in water, so they puff up in your stomach and make you feel fuller faster and longer.  They are ridiculously tiny and have no taste.  You just sprinkle some in with any food (it won't change the flavor)...add it to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, soup, salads, whatever.  I've put it in my oatmeal and spaghetti sauce too.  If you want to try them, try your local health food store.  I bought mine from the bulk bin and it was cheaper because I didn't have to buy a whole pound so the seeds were only a few less than $4...and I've got plenty to last a long time.

On to Matthew.  Poor guy.  He has a lump on his leg and has been complaining A LOT about it hurting.  He asks me to rub his leg at night and it causes him to limp.  Long story but the school nurse had me all in a tizzy about getting it xrayed immediately (even suggested going to the emergency room) and was making it sound like something horrible like cancer.  I got him in to see his pediatrician that day, got the xray done and she called me the next day.  It does not appear to be cancer, thank the Lord for that!  She said what she believes it to be is something called an osteochondroma, which is a non-malignant bone tumor.  I have an appointment to take him to a pediatric orthopedist on April 18th.  They'll take another look at his xrays, decide if there needs to be more testing and what we are going to do about it.  Normally they don't like to remove them until the kids are done growing (which is about 18 for boys, so another 6 years for him), because they can grow back.  But I would really like it removed if we can.  It causes him so much pain, and it's getting worse.  He couldn't even finish his whole baseball game today because it was hurting so much.  I can't imagine him going on another 6 years like this.  What happens is that the tendon grows over the lump and becomes sore.  So, it's not the tumor itself that's all the surrounding tissue.  I had to go get an ice pack from the canteen and he sat out the 2nd half of the game.  I took a picture of his xray to show you what it looks like.  The tumor is on the outside of his right leg about 2 or 3 inches above the knee.  You can click on it for a larger view.
He's also got a lump that gets painful coming out of the side of his foot.  I wonder if it's the same thing.  I'll have to ask the doctor about that.  Anyways, say prayers or whatever it is that you do for good things to happen for Matthew.  I want him back to 100% healthy!

That's what I've got going on.  What have you been up to?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Taking Charge of My Life!

First, we did something very special and fun for our family.  We took the kids to Disneyland!  We kept it a secret from them for about a month and then the night before we went we gave them each $40 and said that they would need it.  We told them they should pack because tomorrow we're going to Disneyland.  It was so funny.  They didn't believe us at first.  Then when it sunk in that we weren't playing a cruel joke on them they started squealing and jumping up and down.  The very best part was that during our month of secrecy it seemed that every few days it kept getting brought up by the kids how we promised them years ago we'd take them to Disneyland and never did.  lol  It was really hard not to laugh (because we knew something they didn't) or to not spill the beans.  We had a fabulous time.  Here are a couple pics...

On to the heart of my post today.  I've been going to one or another doctor (or more) every week now for over two months getting all kinds of tests done to get a good picture of my health.  Well, it's not so good, but should I be surprised?  Probably not.  My latest test results show that one of my cholesterol levels is very high, and I'm also diabetic. The good news is that only one level is high and I'm just over the threshold for being diabetic, so my doctor says I will be "ridiculously easy" to treat.  I will not be on meds forever, and as soon as I get myself into better health (primarily weight) I will be able to stop taking them.

I am really taking charge of my life and making myself accountable for everything that goes into my mouth.  I told you about in my last post, and it is truly a fabulous tool for keeping everything right in your face.  This way I can't get lazy or "cheat" myself.  Really, what would that accomplish?  I have been finding ways to cut calories and trim fat and carbs while increasing protein.  It's not always easy.  I fell off the wagon at Disneyland with a big loud "thud" and gained 4 pounds back in just 3 days.  Lesson learned.

But I am making progress.  Last night, for example, we had our weekly take-out night.  This week it was taco bell.  And what did I eat from Taco Hell?  Not a dang thing!  Everyone else ate the junk food while I heated up leftover chicken enchiladas that I made.  I was very proud of my choice.  It was hard, too, because I really wanted to try one of the new Dorito taco shells.  And I really love chalupas.  But, I felt better about myself and my choice afterwards.  The reward?  I got on the scale today and I am 7.8 pounds down in just 2.5 weeks!  Woo Hoo!!!!  For the first time in almost 5 years I am LOSING weight!

And all it's taking is counting calories while keeping an eye on fats, carbs and proteins.  My first goal is to maintain my daily caloric intake to between 1500 and 1800.  After that I try to find ways to lower fats and carbs (my goal on carbs is less than 150g/day) and increase my protein.  The basic changes I have made are (and I did NOT make them all in one day.  It took about a month to make these changes gradually):

  • Whole grain pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Olive oil
  • No potatoes
  • Light dressing (Ken's lite creamy caesar is the only way to go!)
  • Diet soda
  • Skim milk
  • Much more fresh fruits and vegetables
  • NO sugary breakfast cereals (oh, what a weakness that was)
  • Sugar Free Jell-o and chocolate pudding for snacks
  • Almost nothing breaded or fried  (I do still use Shake n Bake on my pork chops)
  • More protein from various sources including meats, seeds, nuts and beans
  • Carefully measuring portions using measuring cups or my new handy kitchen scale
  • Stevia instead of sugar
  • Eliminating processed, packaged foods as much as possible
  • Counting calories and keeping fitness and activity logs on
  • Walking more and being more active

I heard this once years ago, and now I am finding that it's true.  In order to eat healthy, do your grocery shopping around the edges of the grocery store.  And that is right!  My milk and dairy is in the back, the fruits and vegetables are on one side, the meat is on the back on the opposite side of the milk and the breads are in the front.  All the processed junk is in the aisles in the middle of the store.  I very rarely go into these aisles any more.  Only to get a few things like seasonings, olive oil, and some other baking goods, occasionally some canned veggies, oatmeal on the cereal aisle and things like that.  I cleaned out my pantry last week and took out everything I no longer eat.  My shelves are almost bare.  I gave the boxed goods away.  That was very empowering!  The next thing I want to try is quinoa.  Have you every had it?  I've been hearing a lot about it in the world of healthier eating, so I decided I should try it.  My local grocery store doesn't carry it though.  I'm going to try the super WalMart today.  If they don't have it, maybe the health food store I buy my daughter's vegetarian meat at will have it.

My kids are learning to stop asking for snacks.  They now eat my sugar free puddings and jell-o or fresh fruit.  Celery with peanut butter is a great snack we love (although I measure my peanut butter to no more than one serving and only have it a couple times a week).

And it's all paying off!  7.8 lbs less in under 3 weeks!  That's awesome.  And not to mention the fact that today is my one month mark of no smoking!  I am well on my way to getting healthy again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chantix Diary Update and

First of all, can you believe it???  I am on my 17th smoke-free day already!  Aaahhh...the freedom.  No longer am I chained to that terrible addiction.  No more sitting outside on the concrete in the middle of summer when it's 115 degrees outside to have a smoke.  No more planning my day around when and where I can have a cigarette.  No more going out at midnight (or later) to get a pack of smokes because I ran out and can't possibly live until morning to have more on hand.  No more offending anyone with my smokey smell or affecting my kids in even the slightest bit with second hand smoke in the car (oh, but I rolled the windows down so I reasoned it was ok. right.)  Nope!  None of that anymore!  I am FREE!!!!  I am still taking my Chantix and will continue taking it for the full 3 months like they recommend, but at this point I feel that I have really kicked the habit.

I hardly even think about it anymore.  I think about it sometimes only because my brain is trained and put on auto-pilot to think about it at certain times.  Like when I wake up in the morning.  I don't want a cigarette at all.  But my brain is so used to thinking, "It's smoke time!" that the thoughts still cross through sometimes, but then it passes quickly.  I have no urges or needs, so my brain just needs to now get trained to think non-smoking thoughts.

I can breathe!  Oh what a wonderful feeling!  I can walk further distances and for longer periods of time without getting winded.  I smell good all the time!  My husband and kids love that.  The  money I'm saving is being put to good use...buying healthier foods that were typically too expensive for me and my family.  Nothing but good has come out of quitting.  I am so grateful for Chantix!

The other thing is I wanted to give you my review of a very fun website called  Since I have made the first gigantic step to getting healthy...quitting smoking...I am now on my next part of my health journey by losing weight (and a lot of it!) and getting fit.  I'm the type of person that does lots of research on anything I'm interested in.  Finding healthy foods and things like that has been no different.  In my research I came across this website that says, "Free Diet and Weight Loss Journal--Create a Goal, Track Food, Log Activity, & See Progress!  Trusted by over 6 million users."  Count me in as one of those 6 million.

You start by creating a free user account.  Then you set up your profile, current weight, current activity lifestyle, goal weight and goal date.  Each of the tabs on the top of the page has something fun to play around with.  When you click on "Foods" you go to your daily food diary.  You can type in just about anything you can think of and it will bring up choices to choose from like this..... (click for a larger view.)

Then you can click on the magnifying glass to see all that food's details, and you can edit it if you want to start creating your own personal foods list of the things you eat.  I have opted to create custom foods for my stuff so that all the numbers are exactly correct.

You can also add activities.  It works the same as the food search.  You type in something like "shopping" and it will bring up "food shopping with or without a cart" or "non-food shopping standing or walking".  You would be surprised at all the things that you do during the day that can be considered activity.  Even washing dishes for 5 minutes is an activity.  Then you add it to your log and you put in the number of minutes you did the activity and it calculates the calories you burned doing that activity.  Neat, huh? has a myriad of different graphs and charts showing your progress.  One of my favorites is Calories Eaten v Burned".  Here is my graph.  I feel that I am doing pretty well considering I just started this a few days ago.  Every day I have burned more than I ate, which, of course, equals weight loss.  Yea!  And I only started using the activity log 2 days ago, which is why they are all the same for the first few days.  Also, it's still mid-morning which is why my calories for today are so low still.  You can click for a larger view.
2000 calories or less a day is my beginning goal, so I can see at a glance that I am doing very well.  Just went over a bit one day.  Looking back at my food diary I can see that I had 2 slices of Papa John's pizza that day that put me over my normal numbers.

There are also tabs for your personal daily diary and even a mood tracker to see how your moods are affected by different activities or food choices.

You really should check out if you are trying to lose weight.  It really keeps you connected with your diet and food choices as well as really seeing how much activity you are doing and need to be doing to reach the goals.  Of course, they also have premium accounts for even more in depth analysis and use of the tools, but a free account gives you so many tools to work with it's incredible.  Check it out and have some fun with it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feeling Hopeless

Today was a very bad day.  I had my first real test of my resolve to stay smoke free, and the good news is that I have passed the far.  I have been so motivated and energized this month to get myself healthy and into shape.  I stopped drinking my most loved Mountain Dew and switched to diet, knocking 5000 calories a week out of my diet.  Then I started buying different, healthier foods, started making better choices and watched my intake.  When I went to the doctor today for a completely different reason I was smacked in the face with the fact that all my efforts have been futile.  In the 3 weeks since I was last in to the doctor and got weighed, I have actually gained 2 pounds!!!!  :(  Part of me wonders if it is fair for me to depend on one weigh-in since everyone's weight fluctuates.  Also, is it because it's "that time" of the month for me?  Ladies out there, you know how the bloating and water weight sets in around then.  It was so depressing.  I held it together for a while.  Just for a while.

My doctor then suggested a low/no carb diet.  I told him there is no way on God's green earth that I can maintain that lifestyle.  It would work for a few weeks or even a few months, but then I would gain it all right back plus some more for good measure.  And, I want to get my family on board with healthy eating, and cutting out everyone's carbs would only wreak havoc on them and they would rebel and declare mutiny.

Since that is out of the question for me, and my way isn't seeming to be working, he handed me a pamphlet on the Lap Band.  Yes, surgery.  I am so fat that my doctor is recommending drastic surgery to correct the problem.  How depressing is that?  I feel so hopeless.  Now, my husband says that I am sedentary and I will not lose weight until I start moving.  I have a pair of sneakers on order that shipped today that I should get next week and I can start a walking program for myself.  That's all well and good except the information I found on the 'net said that according to my current weight, height and age, I should eat X number of calories a day and still expect to lose a pound a week even though I have a sedentary life.

I also have to take into consideration that the 2nd week of my changes was the week I quit smoking with Chantix and I probably ate more than I realized.  I have since started keeping a daily log of what I eat to help combat that.  Maybe that 2nd week of making one miraculous change in my life (i.e., quit smoking) messed up the changes in my other, secondary-for-the-moment changes (i.e., diet).  I don't know.  All I know is that I held it together long enough to get home and then the waterworks began and I had a long, hysterical cry over the depressing news.

The only good note from doctor listened to my lungs and said they sound remarkably good.  Feeling sad, hopeless and very discouraged.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Healthy Nutty Brown Rice...A Must Try!

If you have been reading any of my Chantix Diary, you'll already know that I'm on a mission to get myself and my family healthier.  I have been looking for new and appealing recipes that I can make for my family that will go over well.  Tonight I had a real winner that you have GOT to try!  Unfortunately, I didn't write down the website I found the original recipe on, but I'm going to give you my modifications anyways.

First, for the protein, though I simply made lemon pepper chicken.  I put some olive oil in a bowl with a few shakes of garlic powder and a fair amount of Mrs. Dash salt-free lemon pepper blend seasoning.  I cut the chicken breasts into pieces about 2 - 2.5 inches, put it in the bowl and stirred it all around to coat it with the oil and seasoning.  Then I just threw it in a pan and baked it at 375 for about 40 minutes.  That's it.  Easy Peasy.

Then, for the rice.  This was the really good part.  I bought a bag of broccoli slaw from the section of the grocery store that sells pre-made/pre-cut bags of salad.  It has (obviously) broccoli, carrots and purple cabbage nicely shredded.  I did give it a quick rough chop to make the pieces a little smaller.  btw, I'm going to tell you the amounts I used to feed my family of 5, but it will actually feed 6.  You can adjust from there.  I put just a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the pot and threw in 2 one-handed handfuls of broccoli slaw (maybe 2 cups?).  I cooked it on medium high heat for about 2 minutes.  Then I put in a couple shakes of red pepper flakes (but it could have used more...maybe 1 teaspoon or so).  I added 3-4 tablespoons each of almond slivers and sunflower seeds.  I cooked it for another 2 minutes or so to give the almonds a little color.  But the vegetables still were a little crunchy...don't overcook them.  Put this mixture in a bowl and set aside.

Then I followed the directions on the box of 10 minute instant brown rice.  I used 2.25 cups of chicken broth, and got that boiling and I added a couple more shakes of red pepper flakes.  But I have to tell you that I barely noticed any kick at all, so it could have used more.  I added 3 cups of dry brown rice and covered and simmered for 5 minutes.  Then I stirred in the vegetables and seeds mixture, covered it back up, took it off the heat and let it steam for another 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

I have to tell you it was absolutely delicious!  My husband and kids ate it right up and told me again (they tell me on a regular basis :) that I should be on "Chopped".  It has a wonderful crunchy texture and nutty flavor.  It's so good.  Try it!  I bet your family likes it as much as mine!

Healthy and nutty brown rice with veggies...yum!
As for my quit smoking journey, I am doing great.  Now that I think about it I hardly thought about smoking at all today.  It's getting easier and easier every day.  My attitude has become positive, my motivation to be healthy is high, my energy is returning.  It's all great!  And still no bad side effects from the Chantix.  It is now 1 week and 2 days smoke free!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chantix Diary Day 8 -- One Week!!!

Yea me!!!
Wow!  I've completed an entire week of not smoking!  Unless you've smoked a really long time and quit yourself you have no idea how good this feels.  My oldest daughter said she would consider me a non-smoker when I've gone a week.  It's one thing to be proud of your kids.  But to have your kids be proud of you...that's an amazing feeling!  She even told her friends at school.  It's kind of a big deal to me because Sami is 16 and not very demonstrative with the family.  So with her being proud enough of me to tell her friends...very big deal.

I have to admit that sometimes I still have cravings...even within the last few minutes.  I don't suppose that's going to go away instantly.  Sometimes the urges are stronger than others, but they never last for very long.  I just have to find something to do to occupy my mind and my hands and it passes within a few minutes.

Besides being able to breathe better, here's another benefit to being a non-smoker:  my husband hugs me closer and tighter!  The smell always offended him, but now I smell good and he likes to get close.  That's a great perk!

I still have not had any bad side effects from taking the Chantix.  All is well in my brain...or at least as well as it was when I started. lol

Now, since I'm getting healthier with quitting smoking, my next thing to tackle is my weight.  My new general practice doctor that I started seeing seems to know more about my psychiatric medications than my psychiatrist does.  Turns out that one of the meds I'm on has another use...they give it to anorexia patients to make them crave sugary carbs in order to gain weight!  Holly sheet!  That could explain a few things.  About a month ago I switched to drinking diet Mountain Dew, which instantly took about 5,000 calories a week out of my diet.  I feel great about that and my doctor was very proud of me for it.  But I know I still have things I need to work on.

I don't want to go on any fad diets.  I don't want to do Atkin's again.  I don't want to count points.  I want to make gradual lifestyle changes that my whole family can adopt and maintain for the long run.  Since I stopped smoking I now have an extra $25 a week that I can spend on healthier foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables. This week the change I'm going to make is a switch to brown rice and using olive oil.  I found a brown rice recipe that sounds absolutely delicious that I'm going to try.  It's got shredded carrots and zucchini, sunflower seeds, almond slivers, and red pepper flakes.  I read the reviews from people who have tried it and they were glowing.  Some of them made their own little modifications like adding different vegetables or different nuts.  Some added onion or garlic.  I'm going to try it as is first, and then I'll decide if I want to modify next time.  I rarely fry my foods, but I decided I should splurge on the much more expensive olive oil for those times that I do.  These are two healthy but easy changes that I can make and maintain.  Oh, and I forgot.  A few weeks ago I also converted my family to eating whole wheat pasta.  They love it!  And at Super Wal-Mart it costs about the same as regular pasta.  Another easy change!  I've used the whole wheat for spaghetti, tuna noodle casserole and even one of our favorites, bowtie pasta salad.  Now I don't feel as bad about eating pasta.

My doctor told me I need to stay away from potatoes.  That will be a tough one.  It will take a while to work on that one I think.  I found an interesting recipe for mashed cauliflower that is like mashed potatoes.  Maybe with some garlic and a little cheese it might be pretty good.  One of these days I'll try that one.

But a few other problem areas are:  cereal, portion size, snacks, I like to bake treats, and I don't eat regularly throughout the day.  I'll work on all these a little at a time.

Also, since I can breathe better I am now motivated to start walking and getting a little exercise.  I don't have sneakers, and it's hard to find shoes for me because my feet are very wide.  But I discovered a brand online through Woman Within, an awesome plus size site, that is also sold at Sear's called Propet.  They have W and extra W widths.  When our tax refund comes in I'm going to go get a pair.  And literally start walking my butt off!  :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chantix Diary Quit Day 5

I am still smoke-free!  There have been urges, yes, but I have been able to work my way through them unlike any other time I had tried to quit.  The Chantix really does make those urges bearable.  It's roughest for me in the mornings, and in the afternoons when I'm bored.  Being bored is the worst.  One of the places I had smoked the most was in the car while I was driving.  Now, it's just the opposite.  I got a nice cherry lemonade air freshener in my car to make it smell nice, and while I'm driving is probably now the time when I think about smoking the least.  Weird.

Before if I had an urge it would be so powerful and actually physically painful that I could not resist it.  Now when I have an urge it's more of an irritant that I wish would leave my brain.  I know I don't want to smoke, and I know I'm not going to give in, so there's no need to have those thoughts, right?  Makes sense to me.  But I still have them anyways.

I have to tell you how nice it is to be able to breathe.  Here it is 5:20a.m. and I'm tired and just yawned.  I could feel the air go way down deep and fill up my lungs.  What a nice feeling.  I also had a horrible wheeze.  When I laid down or anything I had this horrible squeak, or sometimes a deep rumbling every time I inhaled and exhaled.  Now it's gone.  Well, I'm sure I probably still have a wheeze deep down in there, but I can't hear it anymore.  Thankfully, because all that noise sure did make it hard to fall asleep at night! I am also coughing less and less each day.  When I coughed before sometimes it was so bad my youngest daughter would get scared that I was going to die.  

I still have not had any bad side effects.  Yesterday I was feeling very paranoid, but I'm sure that was because I heard my front door handle jiggle, and then after that I was super sensitive to every single noise.  So I don't think the paranoia was because of the Chantix.  I'm sure it was just me being nervous about being home alone.

So here I am, early in the morning on Quit Day 5, and I'm feeling pretty good about things!