Friday, April 30, 2010

It's a FILF Friday

What can get me to slap $4.95 down on a conveyer belt faster than you can say Us Weekly? That would be reading a headline like, How They Lost the Weight. This inquiring mind wants to know.

I love getting the scoop on other people's weight-loss successes. If they can do it, well then, maybe little ol' me can do it, too. Keep your celebrity weight-loss secrets. I want to hear how real folks have dug in their heels and made it work.

With that in mind, a new feature is kicking off at SAB.
It's FILF Fridays!

What on earth is a FILF, you ask? Contrary to what you may be thinking (this is a family blog!), it's a Friend Interested in Losing Fat.

Occasionally on Fridays, we'll be getting insider tips from people just like you and me. Some of them have lost weight, some may be at their goal, and some may be just starting out. But, if there is one thing I've learned over my years on the chub roller coaster, it's that most of us are a lot more alike than we might realize. No matter our approach to food and eating, there are usually a lot of similarities we can see in our emotions, struggles, and passion about food and our weight.

So pull up a seat and allow me to introduce you to the first FILF ever to grace the pages of songs about beets. Please welcome, Michel!

Michel, who is married to her husband, Mark, is a stay-at-home mom with two beautiful little girls, Paige and Avery. She told me she loves running! Let's read about how she developed that devotion.

What brought you to where you are now in your weight loss journey?
I started losing weight with Weight Watchers (WW) and walking after having my first daughter. After the second daughter, I went back to Weight Watchers. I've lost 50 pounds since I started WW in June of 2008. I really put together a workout regime in December of that year. I started to workout at home more with dvd's and walking dvd's. I then made the commitment to train to run the 2009 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Additionally, in 2009, I ran four 5K's and two 8K's. I am now training to run the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.

What kept you going?
Friends telling me that I inspire them. I don't want to let them down by quitting. Also, I'm still not at my goal weight. I envision myself as a thinner and more in-shape version of myself.

Any favorite, nutritious meals you come back to again and again?
I have a favorite Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Pasta salad from WW that I love that has become like comfort food for me. I make it at least once a week. I portion it out so I can grab it when I just want to add some grilled chicken and make it more filling.

What have been your high and low points?
High point: I just did a 5K where I achieved a personal record time. I also got an award for coming in second in my age and weight category, called the Clydesdale. I never, ever place, so it was a really big deal for me. I cried. I couldn't help it.

Low point: When I threw my back out twice in December of 2009. I had to basically give up working out for awhile. The time off made it hard to get back into a groove with workouts and running.

If you could have any celebrity’s body, who would you choose and why?
Gabriella Reece. She has an athlete's body that's very feminine. She's not a stick, she has curves. It's awesome.

If you could talk to Michel 10 years ago, what would you tell her?
Fast food and beer are temporary fixes. Also, keep on moving!!

Do you have any tips/advice you think might help other FILF’s?
1. I was at a WW meeting one day and one of the members had a great loss that week. Our leader asked her to talk about her week. She talked about how she had a family member in the hospital, and it was a really stressful week. She said that she "couldn't control what was going on around her, but she could control what she ate." It was like a light bulb went off! I think that's a lot of people. Some people eat when they are happy, sad, upset, stressed out, you name it. But don't let that lead your life.

2. I had done a Jillian Michael's workout one night. As much as it killed me to do it, the one thing that stuck out to me is something she said at the end. She said,"Don't sabotage what you just did!" Meaning, just because you worked, that doesn't mean you can go raid the cookie jar. That voice and saying have followed me around a lot. It helped me pass up the pretzel joint at the mall plenty of times. Thank you, Jillian!

Thank YOU, Michel! You've accomplished so much -- you're truly an inspiration. We're thrilled you could join us for the FILF Friday kickoff. We're better for having met you!

*You can follow Michel's progress and find the recipe for her favorite pasta salad on her blog, Baby Weight My Fat Ass.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Continued success. In more ways than one.

Alternatively titled: How Posey Saved Our Lives.

I know I said I wanted the universe to propel me off the sofa, but jeesh, I didn't want it to hurl me into the path of oncoming tree limbs.

Earlier today, I shared about how my youngest daughter feels the need to let her toes air out at all times. So, when we left on this very breezy morning for another walk, I was sure to check Posey's toes for any missing socks at frequent intervals (putting shoes on her would have been another option, but I like to make things as difficult as possible on myself.).

It was at about stop #17 to either pull socks up, retrieve them from the sidewalk, or snatch them out of Posey's mouth, when I paused slightly to catch my breath before unbraking the stroller and moving on. Just at that moment, a huge branch from the tree overhead dropped about 2 feet in front of us. Had we walked ahead any sooner, I'd be typing this, fully concussed, from the ER.


Obviously, the universe is trying to tell me that walking is too dangerous, and I am naturally better suited to sitting with my feet up, while drinking fruity cocktails.

But, I'm not listening!

Getting out today felt good. Sore buns even.
Thank goodness, and Posey's toes, that's the only pain I'm feeling.


I don't know if the planets were aligned perfectly or I just finally got tired of hearing myself drone on about not wanting to exercise, but whatever the cause -- today, I just did it.

A 40-minute brisk walk, in fact. Broken up only by a couple of slow backtracks when we had to go searching for Posey's missing sock(s).

Apparently we've all been cooped up so long, even Posey's toes were just itching for some fresh air.

Walking wasn't the only success around here yesterday. You may be surprised to hear it, but we've had some really great dinners lately. After a few misses recently, I was hesitant to stray too far from anything but tossed salads. However, we're now two for two with yummy new recipes. And they're easy. Just my style.

Both of the dishes we're already calling Family Favorites hail from the kitchen of Mama Pea. Even though we were a little gun shy of a second round of "burgers," we placed our appetites squarely in Mama Pea's hands, and she did not disappoint! We've already put her Black Bean Burgers on the menu again. We served them with the carrot fries she recommends, and they also were a hit. So much so, I bought a five-pound bag of organic carrots yesterday. Okay, some of these will be used for Posey's carrot purees, but we discovered that we can quickly devour one pound of carrot fries, so I stocked up in preparation. (Hint: Don't slice them thinly. They shrink up like crazy when you bake them.)

Then last night, we tried another concoction from the House of Pea -- Meaty Green Bean Casserole (made with Tofurkey sausage). Now, this is definitely reminiscent of the usual green bean mishmash many of us have during the holidays, and Mama Pea included it in a Christmas post. But it's fabulous enough to eat at any time of year. Good gravy, this was delicious. I was hoping Paul would lift up his plate and start licking so that I, alone, couldn't be blamed if our kids ever mimicked our total lack of social decorum in public. I beefed our green beans up with an extra Tofurkey sausage, and served it as the entree with roasted red potatoes on the side. Deeeeevine!

And while we're on a roll with our success stories, come by tomorrow to get up close and personal with someone who has success just oozing from her pores. A brand new feature starts tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WIW and Mourning the Fat Life

It's Weigh-in Wednesday.

Pretty good news this week. I'm down three pounds.

I may not sound excited about that number, but that's because I'm fairly certain that the -3 is really more like -1. I've determined that last week's cookie weight was probably not actually a result of consuming heaps of sugary dough, but more likely a result of a monthly situation with my lady parts. Aaaaaaaaand now I've completely lost all my male readers. (Although, "all my male readers" = code for my husband.)

Nonetheless, that -1 gives me a net total of -13 pounds, and considering my kicking and screaming over having to face the exercise music lately, I'm feeling grateful for that.

I've actually been stewing quite a bit about this activity conundrum. And something suddenly occurred to me last night . . . this is like the stages of grief.

I don't want to belittle grief here. Not at all. But, I've always said that any change, even change for the better, can be stressful. So, in my own silly way, I've been thinking about how this experiment in healthy living has brought me to a place where I'm mourning my old, not-so-healthy life.

Are you familiar with the five stages of grief, which Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified in her book, On Death and Dying?

The stages Kubler-Ross names are:

* Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
* Anger (why is this happening to me?)
* Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
* Depression (I don't care anymore)
* Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

Maybe I've just been on one too many diets in my lifetime, but I think these stages sound like the kind of thinking that goes on in my head when I get really ticked off about having to watch what I eat every day for the rest of my days or when I know I need to schlep myself around in the form of some type of activity.

I've lived in anger and denial for too long.
I've bargained. But it appears I'm not a very good negotiator.
I've been depressed. Oh, that's a phase I'm familiar with. Frequently referred to as the "Eff It" stage, where entire Boston cream pies become dinner. With cookies for dessert.

Have I moved on to acceptance?
Well, I don't know that I can say I'm ready for whatever comes, but I do finally admit that a belly like this

only looks cute until you're 2. Okay, maybe 3. But, by the time you're 40, your not-so-cute tummy is just getting you lectures from your doctor about how particularly dangerous body fat around the middle is and could you please consider trying to eliminate at least one of your spare tires?

Still . . . making these kinds of changes means evolving into an entirely different person. It's a bit like breaking up with someone you suspected from the start was bad news. You know you'd be better off without the guy (it's one thing to leave toenails in the sink, but do that AND spend our grocery money in a strip club?!), but what about the times you'd sit around watching Biggest Loser while eating pizza together? How could you ever replace that?

In other words, do I love brownies, a sore hip, and my personalized sofa cushion (i.e., the permanent indentation of my ass in the couch) enough to stick with them? Or do I instead accept that I'll be better off when I make the effort to move my body on a regular basis?

I know the answer. And you know that I know the answer.
If I keep blathering about it here, will the universe eventually propel me off the couch?

How did you finally stop being a sofa cushion?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The elephant in the room

I know you hang on my every word, but let me remind you of where we left off yesterday:
Don't quit.
Give it time.
Try something new. (Marshmallow rewards?!)
More patience.
Still more patience.
The key for me, right now, I believe, is the try something new line. Of course, I was totally kidding about the marshmallow rewards. Kind of.

Actually, this is where things get stickier than a s'more at a 4th of July bar-b-que. The "something new" I had in mind when I wrote that post . . . it's the elephant in the room.

She's not a cute, pink elephant either.
She's most likely red-in-the-face, huffing, puffing, and covered in sweat despite her very cool, the 80's are back, Olivia Newton-John-esque headband.

She's the elephant known as Exercise. (aka, activity, moving your butt, working out, hitting the gym, and sweatin' to the oldies, among others.)

I've been reading a fair number of weight loss blogs since I started mine, and I have noticed one common thread -- every blog author moves.

I've been so focused on the food portion of weight loss (don't we all do that, though, really? How many exercise programs are best sellers?), I've completely neglected the activity portion. And I don't think I can anymore.

Oh, sure, I've lost weight without exercising before. There was the Grape Juice Diet of '97. That was a good one. Yes, I definitely lost weight consuming nothing but diluted grape juice all day, but it was a little difficult to stand at times. That was a major drawback. No exercise required on that diet!

However, I've since discovered that I prefer to not faint whenever I stand up from a seated position, so I'm thinking I'll stick with a more conservative approach this time. And that means *gulp* exercising, doesn't it?

Why do I feel like a 2-year old being dragged towards a nap when I acknowledge this?

I have lots of excuses. Oh, lots. You don't want to hear them, do you? I'm sure you can figure most of them out. There is nothing new, except that I am still struggling with hip pain (even after physical therapy). So I won't be doing a 5K tomorrow. I could walk, though. Or do a DVD.

But, when?
Take the girls?
Work out after they go to bed?
Before they get up?

Ack! It's too hard!

I know this is important, but someone motivate me, please.
I sure could use Dumbo's magic feather.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weight loss v. potty training. Round 1.

Would I be a horrible mother to blame last weekend's Great Cookie Debacle on potty training? Dude. Potty training is stressful. And when haven't I turned to food when I'm stressed?

However, I'm happy to report that, since Wednesday, our wee little one seems to have jumped on board the wee-wee-in-the-potty bandwagon. (And I'll spare you the picture I texted Paul to show off our child's brilliant #4, too. Which I was shocked to notice, considering the number of marshmallows she has consumed as her treats for making it to the potty.)

But rewind to one week ago, and listen to my Inner-Tracie asking me, "What is this trying to teach you?" I knew I was getting disgruntled at times, and it was about something that was out of my control. What could I do besides show her the way? We could quit -- that was an option.

But I really hate quitting things.
And I rarely do, except when it comes to dieting.
Maybe that's why I just can't bring myself to "diet" right now. I know I'm eating better than I have in a very long time. And, frankly, where has dieting gotten me so far? How many times have I severely cut back on calories only to eventually find myself with my head in a bag of Snickers? What's the saying? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Now, fortunately, that expression does not apply to potty training.
But I do think we can find some parallels here.
What do weight loss and potty training have in common?

Well, we know they're both:
Time consuming.
Messy. (We've talked before about the effects of adding fiber to one's diet. Ahem.)

But, have you thought about how both require patience?
Make that Extreme Patience?

And maybe the control thing . . . maybe that makes the patience piece of the puzzle even tougher. We really can't control our weight loss. If we could, whatever weight we need to lose would be gone overnight, wouldn't it? And what about those weeks when we eat so very well, we hit the gym consistently, and we wake up early to meditate each morning, only to find our efforts have resulted in a whopping weight loss of exactly . . . zero. Those kind of weeks make me want to throw something.

Don't quit.
Give it time.
Try something new. (Marshmallow rewards?!)
More patience.
Still more patience.

All we can do is show our bodies the way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food for thought

With all the potty training, cookie eating, and Earth Day hubbub, I completely forgot about celebrating one month of blogging!

I hope we can continue to grow together. Or, preferably for some of us, shrink together.

I feel like I've gotten into the vegan groove . . . now the key is to find a balance between good food and good weight loss. I love the way we've been eating. But the plan still includes losing more than a few pounds. That part we need to work on.

As you head off to your weekend, here is something I read recently that struck me as descriptive of how I've been feeling. What a difference the right food can make in, well, everything.

One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well, if one has not dined well.
- Virginia Woolf

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A day for the Earth. Decreasing girth.

We watched the documentary, No Impact Man, a couple of weeks ago. I had zero expectations for it, and Paul had never heard of it at all. But let me tell you, it had an impact.

In case you were questioning whether we really do eat granola every morning, this post will confirm it for you.

We've decided to pull the plug on the TV.

Colin Beavan, the actual No Impact Man, embarked on a project that would allow his family to live in New York City without making any impact on the planet. In addition to sending their television away, they ate only locally-grown vegetarian foods, bought nothing for one year except food, and eventually cut off their electricity altogether. Through this process, they became more connected with each other as well as their friends and neighbors. At the end of their one-year experiment, Beavan and his wife, Michelle, are shown discussing the changes they'd like to continue. Among those -- vegetarian foods and no television. (And Michelle was a self-confessed reality show addict . . . hmmmmmm.)

Now, I'm not going to try to pretend this will be easy for me. Frankly, I'll probably still catch an episode or two of my beloved reality shows online. But, if I'm going to do this, I want to do it with a positive outlook. So I'm focusing not on what I'll be missing, but what we'll all be finding.

First, what a perfect time of year to do this. Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. It'll be like the old days when you couldn't find anything on TV in July except Love Boat reruns.

We're looking forward to family walks after dinner. More conversations. More involvement. More cooking together. More interest in each other. More fun. I mean, when was the last time we dragged out a board game? Paul better brush up on his Scrabblin' skillz.

Yes, I may only be agreeing to this on a purely experimental basis, and reserving the right to pull the plug on pulling the plug so that I can re-institute reality TV in full force, but I have high hopes for its success. I believe this process can only bring our family closer. (And maybe closer to fitting into smaller pants?)

We definitely are trying to make a lot of positive changes around here. So, why not give this a try, too? I'll love it or I'll hate it. But I won't know unless we dive in.

We're officially calling it quits on Sunday, April 25. You know I'll keep you posted on my withdrawal symptoms. (Can I get Real Housewives updates here?)

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Read a great review of No Impact Man, the documentary, here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weigh-in Wednesday

These cookies . . .

. . . were not good to me this week.

At least according to my still-possibly-horribly-inaccurate scale. (I swear I've been scale shopping. Just haven't found one that comes with a lying function.) So I can pray that the scale was not in its sweet spot, but I have a feeling these cookies brought back the 2 pounds I said good-bye to last week.


But, listen. Do I wish I hadn't gained 2 pounds? Of course. But were those cookies some of the best to ever cross my lips? Oh, my, yes. (I've never understood that saying, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." I'm like, "She must not be eating what I'm eating.")

That said, I sure do want to wear some of the pretty clothes in my closet again, so I've been trying to reflect on the bad weeks, not beat myself up too badly, and figure out what happened that I can learn from. This week, we know what happened. Chocolate chip cookies happened. However, trying to see the positives here, I have to give myself props for a) making these vegan cookies from scratch, and b) screwing them up.

I do hope that one of these days, I'll be able to eat fewer than 9 cookies at a sitting, so I'm sharing my "mistake" here with you. It's no secret that I'm not exactly a whiz in the kitchen, and because of that, I'm afraid to ever stray from a recipe. I just don't have enough creative slant or faith in my ability.

So when Paul saw me getting out all the ingredients for the cookies, and said, "Oh, you're using sea salt?" I hesitated for a moment because I know his culinary skills put mine to shame. But then I thought, doesn't the salt, even big chunky sea salt, just get dissolved in the batter anyway? And tossed it in.

Well, it didn't. Even as I was forming dough balls on the cookie sheet, I could see little salt pellets here and there. But the dough tasted okay to me, so I kept going.

The end result? Have you ever had those sea salt caramels? Yeah. Like that.
You get a hit of sweet and salty at the same time, and it's really heavenly.
After about cookie #11, I said to Paul, "I think it's the salt." And he agreed. He told me they're among the best chocolate chip cookies he's ever had. (They're vegan!!) And this man is a connoisseur of chocolate chip cookies. I take his compliment seriously.

Yeah, odd that I'm singing the praises of chocolate chip cookies in the same post that I am lamenting my weight gain. But I'm a giver. I want you to experience cookie bliss at some point, too. Maybe you'll want to wait until you're in a better place. I get that. I'll be waiting awhile before I try to co-habitate with them again, I'll tell you.

But one of these days, sea-salt-chocolate-chip cookies, I'll let you back into my life. Right now, I think I need to see other foods. Whenever you're around, I take you for granted. Neither of us wants that kind of relationship, right? It's not you. It's me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The girl who wouldn't blog

The bad news: Our child is nowhere near potty trained. (I know you've been anxiously awaiting that report.)

The good news: Through a random act of kindness, I received The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the next book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. The one that is not available until May 25th! Wheeeeeeee!

How did I get my hands on this hot little chunk of sweet paperback goodness? Well, an internet friend went to Greece recently, and she was able to buy it there. (It didn't fall off a truck. The books have been available in Europe for awhile.)

Then, knowing how much I loved the first two of the series, this internet friend contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in reading number three. Would I!!! Is a toddler's bladder capable of releasing as much urine as a 6'7" fully-grown adult's? Hellz yeah!!

I keep calling her an internet friend because we have never met in person. Just discussed books. But she took it upon herself to contact me, packed up the book immediately, and paid for shipping it to me. Wasn't that so lovely of her?

Now she has no one to discuss book #3 with because precious few people Stateside have read it. So I feel obligated to help her out by finishing it as quickly as possible. Which means, I can't write anymore because if I'm writing, I'm not reading. You get the drift. And, I'm sure you understand. What kind of random-act-of-kindness recipient would I be if I didn't drop every obligation I have to finish this book?!? Jeesh. I'm just trying to return the favor. Who am I to question Emily Post?! (I'm sure she must have addressed random-act-of-kindness etiquette somewhere.)

If you've read any of Larsson's crime drama series, you know why I'm so hooked.
If you haven't, get thee to the nearest library, bookstore, or online book seller immediately! When you realize they're the best books you've read in a very long time, you can thank me by sending paper towels. As many as you can afford, please.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mi so hungry

This weekend was about as much fun as having my fingernails yanked out one by one while watching a Two and a Half Men marathon. I'll leave it up to you to determine which activity would inflict more pain.

I suppose Friday night's dinner set the tone for the upcoming un-fun-ness (are my cooking misadventures starting to sound like a broken record?). To be filed under Meals No One Will Ever Be Clamoring For, the mushroom-pecan burgers were not met by an enthusiastic crowd. As it turned out, the molding of the whole concoction wasn't the problem -- it was the unusual combination of flavors. While I enjoyed the uniqueness, Paul was not impressed. And judging by the fact that Eloise ate the bun and nothing else, my guess is she wasn't thrilled with them either.

So now I really need some recipes that call for $22 worth of miso and tamari. Anyone?

If you ate it, it was a filling meal, at least. Our burgers were accompanied by oven fries that we'd all like to have again. Here's how I did them:

4 russet potatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 c. olive oil
2 teaspooons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika

Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Shake until potatoes are coated and then spread onto baking pan. Bake at 400F, turning at least once, for 30-45 minutes.

I'd like to tell you about the rest of the weekend, but our potty training progress has about as much stability as one of Charlie Sheen's marriages.

Potty break!

Friday, April 16, 2010

One down. One to go.

Meal number one of the two recipes that scare me has been completed. Part of it is pictured above -- isn't it pretty? I wish it had tasted as good as it looks.

Actually, I liked the quiche, but not enough to make it again. My sister said the texture bothered her. Paul said he liked it, but when I tried to push a leftover slice on him the next night, he politely refused. Gather from that what you will.

The menu was compiled from Veganomicon:
Caesar Salad with Roasted Garlic Croutons
Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon

Although the quiche left everyone wondering if maybe some dishes don't translate well to vegan cooking, the Caesar salad convinced us that we'll never need to eat an anchovy again. No matter what your dining habits, give that part a try. Paul's review -- "I could eat this salad every night." So real men may not love vegan quiche, but they do eat vegan Caesar salad. One for the plus column!

Warning: I made all of this on a day when I had two other adults in the house. And even then, Paul roasted the garlic for me. It was a major undertaking for a newbie like me. Maybe some of you more seasoned cooks (get it?) would have an easy time of it, but for me, this was like going from a tricycle to Le Tour de France.

I took some of the good advice I got from Angela, at The Painted House, and said, "Well, at least we tried something new." And that really did make me feel better. Although I'm not sure it was much consolation for my sister, who suddenly had to run a mystery errand and came back smelling oddly of curry.

Anyway, please stop back on Monday when I give the lowdown on Recipes That Scare Me, Part Deux, where I attempt to mold a pound of mushrooms into something my family might believe resembles burgers. That extravaganza is scheduled for tonight. Bon appetit!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Everybody poops

Unlike some parents, I haven't been particularly eager to start potty training. Until I decided to try vegan eating.

Since, like most moms, I'm the Chief Grocery Shopper, Meal Planner, and Chef, my family's consumption of fruits and veggies has gone way up right along with mine. Trust me when I tell you that eating more natural, whole plant foods has the same effect on a 2.5-year old as it does on adults.

So in preparation for a long weekend of potty-training boot camp, we've been talking about poop a lot around here. It's amazing to me that this is an endlessly fascinating topic for a toddler, and it got me thinking that maybe it's a subject we should discuss more, too. I mean, we all DO do it, right?

One of the benefits Paul and I have noticed over the past few weeks has been a change in our bathroom habits. Two words: Faster. Easier. What's not to love?

Did you know that stool's form depends on the time it spends in the colon? And I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure we all want things to keep moving through there, right?

If you've ever seen the BBC show, You Are What You Eat, you know that its host, Gillian McKeith, loves to talk about "poo." And she's pretty passionate about drawing correlations between your poo and your general health. Using the Bristol Stool Chart to analyze various types, below is what McKeith has to say about your poo. Maybe you recognize something here.

TYPE 1 Separate hard lumps, like nuts. Harder to pass

TYPE 1 - Seperate hard lumps, like nuts. Harder to pass

This indicates that you have a lack of fibre, insufficient fluid intake and a slow transit time. Increase your intake of water, herbal teas, raw fruit and vegetables, cooked grains such as brown rice, quinoa and millet, sprouted pulses, flax seeds and olive oil. Avoid meat, dairy, wheat, eggs, refined carbohydrates and sugar.

TYPE 2 Sausage shape but lumpy

TYPE 2 - Sausage shape but lumpy

This indicates the stool has spent too long in the colon. More water and fibre are needed. Increase your intake of water, herbal teas, fruit and vegetables, cooked grains such as brown rice, quinoa and millet, sprouted pulses, flax seeds and olive oil. Avoid meat, dairy, wheat, eggs, refined carbohydrates and sugar.

TYPE 3 Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface

TYPE 3 - Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface

The cracks on the surface indicate that the stool maybe a bit dry. Increase water intake.

TYPE 4 Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft

TYPE 4 - Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft

This is a healthy bowel movement that is easy to pass - well done!

Type 5 Soft blobs with clear cut edges which pass easily

TYPE 5 - Soft blobs with clear cut edges which pass easily

This may indicate that your bowels are moving a bit too fast. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and dehydration. Increase your fibre especially from cooked whole grains such as brown rice, millet and quinoa. Supplementing with probiotics may well improve digestion and absorption. Psyllium husks can also improve bowel movements.

TYPE 6 Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool

TYPE 6 - Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool

Again, the mushiness indicates that insufficient water has been re-absorbed from the stool, indicating a rapid transit time and poor absorption of nutrients. This may be caused by poor diet, food intolerances and/or an imbalance in gut bacteria. Eat whole grains as indicated above. Avoid having too much fruit, raw vegetables and juices for a while. Supplement with probiotic capsules or powder to repopulate the gut with good bacteria.

TYPE 7 Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid

TYPE 7 - watery, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid

This is not good and probably indicates an infection of some kind. Get checked out by your doctor. Eat well cooked brown rice and home made vegetable soups to replace lost electrolytes. Make sure you replace lost fluids with water or herbal teas. Probiotics can help to repopulate the gut with good bacteria.

I'll give you three guesses as to what type the SAB house has been producing lately. Yep, true love means being able to freely discuss your placement on the stool chart. And being strangely proud of each other's fourth-place finishes.

Oh, and feel free to pass along any potty-training tips you've got in the coming days. We'll be working patiently on convincing Eloise to pass along a couple of other things.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weigh-in Wednesday

The scale gods have rained their goodness down upon me!

Minus FIVE!
half of TEN!


Okay, I know what you're thinking. Why should we believe a word this woman reports about her scale after last week's insanity? Sure. I get that. So I'm prepared to defend my five.

1. I put on jeans yesterday (instead of the usual yoga pants), and they were a smidge loose. This may not be the most convincing argument because it was the second wear for them, and you know how they're always looser after they've been worn once. But, around here, pants almost always get a second wear. Unless they've got spit-up on them, they're pretty much considered clean.

2. I was very careful in my scale placement. Over the weekend, I almost had Paul talked into putting a couple of pieces of duct tape on the floor to mark where the scale needs to go each week, but he just mumbled something about obsessive compulsive disorder and continued brushing his teeth. I'm pretty confident in my eyeballing skills, though, so let's not allow that to hamper our happiness, k? (Plus, you know I stepped on and off 22 times to be sure.)

3. Faith. This is a biggie for me. Deep breath.
When you're not having Biggest Loser losses, or any losses at all some weeks, you start to question what you're doing and how you're doing it. I want, no, make that need to believe that because I'm feeding my body so well, it is responding favorably. I realized something this week -- I feel like I could keep eating this way for a long time. I feel like I could live this way. I honestly don't know that I've ever said that about any other diet/eating regime/food plan before. I don't consider what I'm doing to be "dieting," first of all, so maybe that's part of it. But I also strongly believe in what we're doing as a family. Treating our bodies with dignity and respect by giving them what they need.

It's just really hard to have faith sometimes, you know? We decided yesterday to continue with some additional testing for Posey. To determine if she has something called "kidney reflux." It's my understanding that the procedure she'll have to undergo (in two weeks) will be very stressful, and possibly painful for her. As a parent, I am so conflicted about this decision. On the one hand, I understand it will be beneficial for her because, after this procedure, we'll know if she has something that requires future treatment. On the other hand, who is going to explain this benefit to her as she's being catheterized and crying? It's so overwhelming for me to think about, I haven't even allowed myself to Google anything related to this, which is probably the only time that has happened since I first laid eyes on the word "Google."

I need to have faith in a lot of things, and a lot of people, right now.
The scale's accuracy . . . eh. This week, it seems much less consequential.
Belief in myself, my decisions, the strength of my family -- that is the power I want to harness in stressful times. The scale has had its day, and it surely will again, but faith wins this round.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Additional incentive to step away from the chips

And to keep our daughters away from the chips.

I came across this article recently, and it reminded me of something a friend said not long ago -- "Losing weight is hard. But being overweight is also really hard. You just have to choose your hard."

Up to a third of breast cancers could be avoided

BARCELONA, Spain – Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a conference said Thursday, renewing a sensitive debate about how lifestyle factors affect the disease.

Better treatments, early diagnosis and mammogram screenings have dramatically slowed breast cancer, but experts said the focus should now shift to changing behaviors like diet and physical activity.

"What can be achieved with screening has been achieved. We can't do much more," Carlo La Vecchia, head of epidemiology at the University of Milan, said in an interview. "It's time to move on to other things."

La Vecchia spoke Thursday at a European breast cancer conference in Barcelona. He cited figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which estimates that 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided if women were thinner and exercised more. The agency is part of the World Health Organization.

His comments are in line with recent health advice that lifestyle changes in areas such as smoking, diet, exercise and sun exposure can play a significant role in risk for several cancers.

Dr. Michelle Holmes of Harvard University, who has studied cancer and lifestyle factors, said people might wrongly think their chances of getting cancer depend more on their genes than their lifestyle.

"The genes have been there for thousands of years, but if cancer rates are changing in a lifetime, that doesn't have much to do with genes," she told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. In Europe, there were about 421,000 new cases and nearly 90,000 deaths in 2008, the latest available figures. The United States last year saw more than 190,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths.

A woman's lifetime chance of getting breast cancer is about one in eight. Obese women are up to 60 percent more likely to develop any cancer than normal-weight women, according to a 2006 study by British researchers.

Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. So experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she's likely to produce, which could in turn fuel breast cancer. Even in slim women, experts believe exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more fat into muscle.

Yet any discussion of weight and breast cancer is considered sensitive because some may misconstrue that as the medical establishment blaming women for their disease.

Tara Beaumont, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, a British charity, said her agency has always been careful about giving lifestyle advice. She noted that three of the major risk factors for breast cancer — gender, age and family history — are clearly beyond anyone's control.

"It is incredibly difficult to isolate specific factors. Therefore women should in no way feel that they are responsible for developing breast cancer," she said.

Yet Karen Benn, a spokeswoman for Europa Donna, a patient-focused breast cancer group, said it was impossible to ignore the increasingly stronger links between lifestyle and breast cancer.

"If we know there are healthier choices, we can't not recommend them just because people might misinterpret the advice and feel guilty," she said. "If we are going to prevent breast cancer, then this message needs to get out, particularly to younger women."

That means avoiding becoming overweight as an adult. Robert Baan, a cancer expert with the international cancer research agency, said it isn't clear if women who lose weight can lower their risk to the level of a woman who was never fat.

The American Cancer Society Web site says the connection between weight and cancer risk is complex. It says risk appears to increase for women who gain weight as adults, but not for women who have been overweight since childhood. The cancer society recommends 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Drinking less alcohol might also help. Experts estimate that having more than a couple of drinks a day can boost the risk of breast cancer by 4 to 10 percent.

After studies several years ago linked hormone-replacement therapy to cancer, millions of women abandoned the treatment, leading to a sharp drop in breast cancer rates. Experts said a similar reduction might be seen if women ate healthier and exercised more.

Holmes, the Harvard expert, said changing diet and nutrition is arguably easier than tackling other breast cancer risk factors.

In the 1980s and 1990s, breast cancer rates steadily increased, paralleling a rise in obesity and the use of estrogen-containing hormones after menopause.

La Vecchia said countries like Italy and France — where obesity rates have been stable for the past two decades — show that weight can be controlled at a population level.

"It's hard to lose weight, but it's not impossible," he said. "The potential benefit of preventing cancer is worth it."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mad love for The Carpenters

I'm sure I'm outing myself as a not-so-young mom by telling you I remember a certain song, but surely you've already figured out I'm no spring chick through the infinite wisdom contained in all my posts, right? This isn't the kind of stuff you can find on My Space, my friends.

So why, if I'm such a crusty old thang, does this song make me cry practically every time I hear it? Honestly, I'd forgotten about it for ages, and then, from some dusty corner, it sprang back to mind. It was during a typical, two-year old's tantrum that Eloise was plugging away with. In an effort to stem the tide, I shouted, "You know, what? We need to sing a song!" And before you could say, "I wanna watch Dora!" one more time, I was belting out this tune.

Sing a Song
Sing, sing a song

Sing out loud
Sing out strong.
Sing of good things not bad

Sing of happy not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last

Your whole life long.
Don't worry that it's not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear.
Just sing, sing a song.

Made famous by The Carpenters, and probably a 45 that was in my collection (please say you know what that means), this little ditty is cheesy to be sure, but I think it has so much heart. And maybe it's nostalgia that makes me cry when I hear it, but I'm pretty sure it's more than that. It's the message -- sort of the "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" bumper sticker of the 70's.

Especially this part: Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing, sing a song. That is profound, people. What an amazing message to not only pass on to our kids, but also to live by as adults. How many things do you avoid doing because you're afraid you'll look silly? Or because there's a chance the end result won't be flawless?

As a far-from-perfect perfectionist, I can say that I suffer from this paralyzing mentality frequently. Most often, in the kitchen. Maybe that's partly what got me into this boat (the chunky girl boat) to begin with. I've never felt at ease in the kitchen, so I've just kept myself out of it. If it couldn't be consumed after nuking it or opening a bag, it probably wasn't a food I'd eat. Cooking was something I had no experience in, so instead of getting any experience, I chose to just ignore the work involved in feeding myself good food. But now with two little mouths to feed and minds to mold, my conscious will no longer let me pretend the kitchen doesn't have a stove. So that we all live long lives, I am choosing to put homemade meals on the table. Burned edges, soggy bottoms, and all.

Experiment with me this week, won't you?
Whether you're
trying to lose weight,
restarting your running routine,
sewing a dress,
interviewing for a new job,
cleaning the house,
ending a relationship,
painting old furniture,
getting out the scrapbook you abandoned last year,
studying for a big exam,
baking bread,
planting a garden,
taking your first pottery class,
calling an old friend,
or just singing along to the radio,
how about brushing aside your worries of not-good-enough?

I'll be right there with you, tackling two daunting-looking recipes that truly scare me. I'm intimidated. They're out of my league. I had to look up what "blanched" meant to be sure I got the right thing when I shopped for almonds. Yeah, so if you need some motivation, think of me worked up in a lather, trying to figure out how all the parts of the food processor fit together.

Oh, and we sing this Carpenter's tune all the time in our house now. The girls especially love it when I throw in a whole bunch of dramatic head shaking and some jazz hands. I'm telling you, it's a sure fire pick-me-up (when I can hold back the tears). Give it a try. And don't worry about whether anyone else hears.

Is this thing on?

Friday, April 9, 2010

What a girl wants

More sidewalk.
Fewer April shower

See you Monday! Hope your weekend is sunny!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Test drives: Two vegan recipes and coconut milk creamer

The vegan recipes and coconut milk creamer actually have nothing to do with each other aside from the fact that they're all things we've tried recently. But, one of these things is not like the others . . . two of these things are kinda the same. (When did they stop doing that on Sesame Street? I haven't seen it since I had kids. Then again, we're pretty much a Dora household. Elmo's got nothin' on that spunky little Boots.)

Last night's dinner
. Aack.
What a big, fat disaster. Actually, it was a big, fat-free disaster. I was so disappointed! I mean, I spent an entire afternoon nap period on this casserole, people! No takin' a load off for this old gal. I was in there chopping and rinsing and layering to the point of exhaustion (that's a total exaggeration, but there was a lot of prep). But I kept thinking how worthwhile it would be when I had a huge pan of Mexican goodness to serve up for not just one dinner, but probably a second dinner and a lunch, too.

So imagine my reaction when I saw that not only was Eloise refusing to put one bite past her lips (not a huge surprise from this particular 2.5-year old), but that Paul wasn't exactly devouring his either. I know -- not every recipe can be a winner. But we made this unbelievably low-fat Chili Mac last weekend, and it was a hit. Paul even took it for lunch for a couple of days. I guess I was expecting continued fat-free success. However, not even my constant reminders of how I used an entire afternoon nap time to prepare it could convince my family that if they really loved me, they would eat this dish. They weren't buying it.

I'm not sure where things went awry with the Mexican lasagna. I did like it (so I'll be the sole recipient of six servings we divvied up and froze individually), but not nearly as much as the online reviewers seemed to. It did seem to be missing something . . . um, fat? That said, I do think you should consider trying it. Especially if your family is a little more accustomed to low-fat dining than mine appears to be.

Coconut milk creamer. Capital D-E-licious!
I've been using the French Vanilla flavor, but they also have Original and Hazelnut. Now. For those of you drinking your coffee with traditional half and half, you're going to notice the difference in taste, of course. However, I like the taste so much more than soy creamers I've tried, and I found my tastebuds acclimated to it really quickly.

In addition to being dairy free, I feel it's a benefit that this creamer is soy free. I read here that some people may want to steer clear of too many soy products because of soy's affect on the thyroid. As someone who deals with an underactive thyroid, this recommendation was not lost on me. Plus it has a short list of ingredients -- much better than off-the-shelf non-dairy creamers I've considered before.

Let me know if you try the recipes or the creamer!

Anyone wanna come by for lunch? I'm serving up Mexican lasagna!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Weigh-in Wednesday

Do you ever set your life to music?

Like this morning, for example. If my weigh-in had been a scene in a made-for-TV movie, there would have been circus music playing in the background. Under the big top, indeed.

Allow me to share the bullet-point version (feel free to hum along):

Woke up.

Made sure to be as efficient as possible in the loo, if you know what I mean. (And I think you do.)

(From here on, speed up the music because being efficient in the loo doesn't always equate to being quick. So I was racing against the clock. Also known as "trying to get ready before Eloise and Posey start raking their sippy cups across the bars of their cribs.")

Moved 72 bulky bath items blocking the scale.

Positioned scale for best potential reading.

Stepped on scale.

Reacted in shock when number was 7 pounds lower than previous Wednesday.

Stepped off scale in disbelief.

Noticed scale flashed this odd symbol -- > [

Assumed that meant "low battery" and realized 7-pound loss might not be accurate.

Flipped over scale to see what batteries were needed only to discover weird 3V disc battery.

Major disappointment. Until . . .

Suddenly remembered seeing weird 3V disc battery in broken indoor/outdoor weather station thingy last week.

Raced to get new-old weather-station battery.

Fumbled with removing scale battery until sweat beads formed on forehead.

Finally gave up and gave in to the notion of running downstairs for a knife to pry out the battery.

Headed to kitchen, scale in hand, and easily pried out the battery.

Left old scale battery and knife on kitchen island -- briefly considered bringing knife upstairs, but didn't.

Ran (okay, trudged really fast) back upstairs.

Popped new-old weather-station battery into scale.

Repositioned scale for optimum readout.

Stepped on scale and saw, "Lo."


Stepped on and off 18 more times.

Eventually became convinced that old battery must not have been low, and with no idea what [ meant, still needed to determine actual weight.

Made peace with knowledge that a shower would not be in the cards.

Back downstairs with scale to get knife to wedge new-old weather-station battery out and get old scale battery.

Switched out batteries again, and at the same time, read back of scale for instructions.

Saw the words, "Uneven surfaces may cause inaccurate readings."

Knowing the floor in the upstairs bathroom was far from even (thanks to a toilet overflow situation last year), decided to place scale on kitchen floor.

Saw reading of -22 pounds.

Picked jaw up off floor, then proceeded to test weights in every square inch of kitchen/laundry room/powder room.

Got -22 to -20 readings everywhere on first floor.

Danced DANCE OF JOY!!!

Struggled with thinking of explanation for 20-pound difference in scale readings between second floor and first floor.


Baby monitor causing scrambled signal when scale is upstairs?

What was my true weight??

Fantasized writing blog post outlining newfound revelations for World's Fastest Weight Loss.

Suddenly remembered weighing on doctor's scale recently.

(Cue circus music slowing dramatically here.)

Reminded self of 113-year old floors throughout current home.

Plodded lethargically upstairs with scale.

Visually lined up scale in spot to be meticulously recalculated for every future weigh-in.

Stepped on and off twice more.

Settled on 2-pound weight loss as that's where fluctuating numbers seemed to average out.

Heaped on deodorant, got dressed, and scooped up kids just in time to start the next act.

And, so. That's the very long, very detailed way of announcing that I *think* I lost two pounds. Hey! I'll take it! And I'll celebrate it, even though I'm already nervous that next Wednesday may find me on the sidewalk in front of the house, in my nightie, at 6:00 a.m. trying to get an accurate reading. Good thing it's warming up around here.

Does this mean I need a new scale or a new bathroom floor?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lead me not into temptation

Is it possible to stay completely away from Easter candy? Does anyone manage to do it?

Filling up the baskets on Saturday, Paul and I sampled.
And then Sunday, I tucked into the Swedish fish pretty liberally.
I'll say, it wasn't the usual Stuff-Your-Face-Until-You're-So-Full-You-Don't-Sleep-Well fest that most holidays have been in my past. For that, I'm grateful.

The troubling thing is, even with Eloise sneaking into her jellybean-filled eggs every time I turn my back (yes, I finally put them out of her reach, much to her chagrin), we have loads of candy lurking around. And I was very conservative, compared to past holidays, with my candy purchases this year. I concentrated much more on things like books, and for the most part, left the chocolate gifts on the shelves.

In years past, I would be typing right now with one hand, while furiously unwrapping as many leftover foil-wrapped chocolate eggs as I could manage with the other. But Easter Monday came and went with not so much as a jellybean crossing my lips. What could have caused such a reversal around here?

Not to toot my own horn (although we are eating a ton of beans lately . . . ba-dum-bump!), but I think my resistance to the sugary stuff has been a direct result of my vegan eating over the past few weeks. I didn't feel as though I wanted sweets so much in the first place. Physically, I wasn't as lured by them as I usually am, and mentally, I didn't want to feel like crap. Plain and simple. I knew that if I loaded up on too much junk all day and then went to bed with a tummy full of sugar, I'd sleep horribly and wake up feeling tired and fairly disgusted with myself.

I'm pretty pleased with how this holiday turned out. This holiday and the lack of aftermath, that is. I'm not going to kid myself (or you) and make it seem like I suddenly have some sort of iron will, however. When I worked in the casino biz, we used to say that being in a casino is like robbing a bank -- the longer you're in there, the more likely you are to get busted (or go bust). I'm thinking it's the same idea with having junk in the house. The longer it's here, the more opportunities I have to indulge, no?

I should just throw it out, shouldn't I? Oof. That's a tough one for me. Perfectly good candy! What?! Isn't there a drop box for half-eaten tubs of Swedish fish and gumdrops?

I like to believe we can retrain our tastebuds so that sugar isn't so appealing. You know, like the people who taste a dessert and say, "Oh, that's too rich." (Who ARE those people?? Is it really possible to become one of them? Or do you have to be born that way?) In the same vein, I'm wondering if a body gets used to nutrient-rich foods, and when it's full of them, doesn't feel the need to keep reaching out for empty fuels. Kind of like "an object in motion tends to stay in motion" . . . a body fed good stuff tends to crave good stuff.

And that concludes the physics and philosophy portions of our discussion today. You all get A's. And I know that comes as a relief if you sweated through physics as badly as I did.

Back to the good stuff -- I came across this blog recently, so we kicked off our week with Banana-Date-Walnut Muffins and big bowls of fresh strawberries and bananas. Quite possibly better than Swedish fish!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter hams

A rainy Saturday morning meant no egg hunts, but it was the perfect time to get creative with our own batch. (How about those fab canisters, huh?!?)

Watch Posey do her magic tablecloth trick!

Who needs eggs and dye when you've got this amazing paper to play with?!

The sun finally appeared, and we enjoyed a brisk, spring afternoon outside. Our hyacinth smells so good! (That is hyacinth, right?)

Easter morning!
So many eggs to be found!

Basket attack!

Gussied up in our Easter finery.

Then we were off for brunch and soaking up the sunshine.

What a lovely Easter weekend it was.
We hope yours was, too!