November 16, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Trial, Day 16: Week 2 Results

Intermittent Fasting Trial

Yesterday was the start of my third week of intermittent fasting. The first week of doing it, I actually gained 0.4 pounds. I really like doing it, though, so I decided to try some adjustments until I find what works for me (and something I can maintain--I am not going to make changes that I am not willing to do for the rest of my life).

First, I switched to black coffee in the mornings. I had been adding a tablespoon of heavy cream (50 calories) to my coffee during the first week. I also tried to shorten my eating window. I say "tried" because I wasn't very successful at it.

The problem is that I break my fasting at 3-4 pm with a good-sized dinner. That is where the majority of my calories come from. Because that's a large meal, I'm not hungry again until 5-6 hours later. So then I'd eat a snack at around 9-10 pm.

I enjoy breaking the fast with my dinner, because my dinner is usually pretty healthy food, and I'd like to spend most of my calories on that. I'm afraid if I just have a snack at 3-4 pm, and eat dinner a couple of hours later, I might just snack like crazy for a few hours and then I won't even really want my dinner. Basically, I want to have a good appetite for my main meal of the day.

Anyway, that is why I haven't been doing so great with a shorter eating window. And as for the results of week two, I am down 0.4 pounds... back to my starting weight, hahaha. I still really enjoy this way of eating, so I'm going to make some more adjustments and see if it helps this week:

1) Have a strict start/stop time for an eating window, instead of eating at "3-ish" or "4-ish", and then again just before bed (6-8 hours). So, this week, I'm going to do an eating window of 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

2) Add in exercise. I had a great run a couple of weeks ago, and I was excited to go out again... but it's been SO COLD that I just haven't brought myself to do it. Over the past few years, I have really become sensitive to the cold--I used to love running in 30-degree weather!

However, I have a perfectly good treadmill in my living room that I haven't touched since I was training for the half-marathon in April. This morning, I queued up some TV shows to stream, and decided that I will run on the treadmill for one show per day (M-F). A very simple plan!

Also, I figured that since I'm going to be on the treadmill a lot, it would be a great time to work on heart rate training again. When I'm outside, it's hard to run slowly enough to keep my heart rate down--my mind wanders and then I realize I picked up the pace and my heart rate is too high. On the treadmill, I can just set the speed and then run until my heart rate hits the top of my target (ideally, I will keep it below 144 bpm). Then I drop the speed down a notch, and repeat.

Today, I dusted off the treadmill and tried it out. It felt really good! I forgot how "easy" running feels when I keep my heart rate low. I say easy, but I mean that in relative terms. It feels much better than when I push the pace, and that makes the run more enjoyable. I remember loving my heart rate runs in 2016!

I started watching a show on Hulu, and then it kept buffering or something--it was annoying! I actually stopped running twice to try to fix it, but then I gave up and picked a show on Amazon Prime to watch. It was only 23 minutes, so added to the time from the first show, I ran for 38:41 total--and it ended up being a perfect 5K distance.

Treadmill run

I don't think that the treadmill is calibrated correctly, and the numbers on my Garmin didn't make much sense, either. I didn't use the foot pod, so that could be why. As I slowed the treadmill down throughout the run, my pace on the Garmin got faster. So, I'm not going to pay attention to that--right now, I'll just focus on my heart rate and time spent running. I'll dig out the foot pod, though, and hopefully it'll be more accurate.

So, with those couple of changes, I hope to see some good results next week!

(Speaking of our cold weather, my brother posted this on Facebook last night, and I was dying. Luke is SO cute!!)

Viva Mexico

November 13, 2018

The amazing transformation that a little bold paint can do!

I don't have time to write a real post right now, but I just thought I'd share some of the things that I've been working on lately. It's been SO fun seeing what a drastic difference a little paint makes!

Again, I am terrible about taking "before" photos. I always forget to! So, this is all I have of the table and chairs. Two of the chairs aren't seen in this photo because I was likely standing on them to paint the ceiling ;) (And we all know why that's a stupid idea)

table and chairs "before" makeover

After two coats of oil-based primer...

table and chairs primed for paint

Have you ever tried painting furniture inside of the house when you have a dog and two cats? Well, don't. It's horrible! (It's way too cold to paint outside right now. We even have snow!) It doesn't matter what I do, I am constantly picking pet hair (namely, Joey's) out of the paint. And Joey has permanent paint patches on his tail from coming into contact with wet paint!

When I woke up a few days ago, I was determined to paint the table and chairs, but I had no idea what color I was going to do. I was thinking just white, but I'm not really a "paint everything white" kind of girl. So, I went with my very favorite color: orange.

table and chairs painted orange

I bought that table and chairs set for $10 at a garage sale YEARS ago. After Noah took a meat mallet to our large, gorgeous solid oak table, I decided to buy something cheap. And I liked this set! But it wasn't very nice looking. I am IN LOVE with the orange paint on it, though! The floors will be dark gray and the walls light gray, so I think this will look really good with it. It looks awesome next to my blue cabinets.

And we are in the process of replacing the interior doors, which is very exciting. I'll explain the doors situation in another post. But for now, here is my pantry door. Like usual, I didn't take a "before" photo, but you can see the door to the left of it (which is the utility room) and that's basically what it looked like (only it didn't have the air grille on it).

kitchen doors "before" makeover

And once again, I was just feeling that the room needed some orange in that spot! ;)

painted orange pantry door

I'm going to paint the other door orange as well--right now, I'm just trying to figure out what I'm going to do about the air return grille. I may do a DIY decorative cover for it, but that's MUCH more expensive than just painting the grille I have. I also have to cut a cat door into it, because that's where the litter box is.

We only bought door "slabs", which are basically doors without the hardware or any pilot holes or the frame. So, Jerry and I spent the weekend measuring and hanging doors and drilling holes for the doorknobs. I can't believe what a difference a $35 door slab makes!

I'm excited to post about our next big DIY adventure in this whole renovation, but I want to wait until after we actually do it. Otherwise, I'm afraid we'll get talked out of it! hahaha.

But things are coming along, albeit very slowly. Until this weekend, I'd done nearly everything myself. And now I'm at the point where I reeeeally want my house back, so I recruited Jerry's help. (He was more than happy to help before, but I genuinely enjoyed doing it myself.)

Anyway, I'll try and update about the intermittent fasting tomorrow. I'm still going strong... and I even switched to black coffee this week! ;)

November 08, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Trial, Week 1 Results

I feel like I've been doing this intermittent fasting for so much longer than just a week!

When I started, I wasn't 100% sure about my eating cutoff times. I figured I would aim for 18 hours fasting and 6 hours to eat, but I would be happy with 16/8 as well (which is a common time window).

On most days, I was able to hit 18 hours. I kept very busy so that I wouldn't really think about eating, and I would break my fast each day by having an early dinner (something from the crock pot). I think that having all of the crock pot meals ready to go in the mornings has helped a LOT with the intermittent fasting... otherwise, I could see myself being hungry and just wanting to order pizza or something. Knowing that dinner will be ready whenever I am has been so helpful!

I tried to aim for 4:00 pm. After dinner, I would graze as I felt like it through the evening. I was very curious to see if this would make me binge eat. Since I'm a binge eater, I was concerned that not eating all day would set me up for a binge later, but I have found the opposite to be true. I LOVE not thinking about food! My binge eating has always been about emotional eating, anyway, and not about hunger, so I think that influenced it as well.

Here are my fasting times for each day:

(The app for this is called "Zero", and it's awesome! You just tap when you're start fasting and tap when you stop. It keeps track of everything for you.)

Anyway, here are my thoughts after Week 1:

WEIGHT: For the disappointing news, I did not lose any weight. I was actually up by 0.4 pounds! Last week, I was at 162.4, and today was 162.8. Interestingly, I'm not really bothered by this. Crazy, right?! I'm going to change things up a touch this week, which I'll explain later.

I have to say, despite not losing any weight, I love everything about the intermittent fasting.

FOOD: I used to worry about and plan for breakfast and lunch--when making grocery lists, I had to figure out what I was going to eat for the week, and then I rarely wanted what I planned for. Sometimes I'd eat something crappy for breakfast, which would make me carry that through the rest of the day, eating junk all day long.

I used to constantly think about food--what I was going to eat, when I was going to eat it, etc. Since I started the intermittent fasting, I really don't even think about food until it's getting close to time to eat.

ENERGY: I used to feel a huge drop in energy in the afternoons. I would want to just sit and do nothing. Since I started the intermittent fasting, I have lots of energy! Until I eat, hahaha. After eating is actually when I feel the least amount of energy.

DIGESTION: I used to get bloated a lot, especially after overeating. Then I would feel like crap and not be able to do anything. Since I started intermittent fasting, I don't think I've felt bloated at all! I always feel light and energetic, which is awesome. I know my weight isn't down at all, but I really do FEEL better.

SLEEP: I've always had sleeping problems. I mean ALWAYS. And since my bipolar diagnosis, the sleeping issues have made a lot more sense (when hypomanic, I sleep 2-3 hours a night and feel totally fine all day long! Then when depressed, I sleep 8-9 hours and feel tired all day long).

Since I started intermittent fasting, I've had a weird combination of those. My mood is the most stable it's ever been (not due to the fasting; I felt this way for at least about 6 weeks now) so I'm not hypomanic or depressed. I'm very, very stable. Prior to the fasting, though, I was tossing and turning all night, feeling super frustrated that I couldn't sleep. (And then when I finally managed to fall asleep, I was awakened by burning pain in my arm.)

Since I started the fasting, I have been sleeping much better and best of all, waking up without an alarm. I actually feel really great on about 6 hours of sleep. When I do wake up during the night, it's because of my arm; but for the last few nights, that hasn't happened.

Now, I really would like to lose some weight doing this! So, I'm going to try making a couple of changes this week.

1) Drink black coffee in the mornings instead of adding heavy cream. I'm sure it's not the calories that are the problem, but by skipping the cream, I'll truly be fasting from evening until afternoon. This may or may not be a problem, so I'll just give it a try and see what happens.

2) I'm going to try to condense my eating window to four hours. That way, instead of grazing for 6-8 hours, I will likely have one good-sized meal and one good-sized snack. I'll get in my full day's worth of calories, but in a shorter time frame.

Those are the only changes I'll make this week, and I'll see how it goes. Other than the fact that I haven't lost any weight, though, I really like this intermittent fasting!

November 07, 2018

RECIPE: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

We finally have some nice fall weather in Michigan, so I'm revisiting some of my favorite fall recipes. What could taste more fall-like than pumpkin, cranberries, and walnuts? I know I'm probably the only person on this planet who still eats carbs, but here is the recipe, just in case! ;)

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF of Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin
1-1/3 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of canola oil
1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup egg whites
2 whole eggs, beaten
3 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup of dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two loaf pans with oil or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla, egg whites, and eggs and stir until smooth. Add the dry ingredients (except nuts and cranberries) and stir just until combined. Fold in the nuts and cranberries.

Divide the batter into two loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for about 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Each pan makes about 12 slices. Happy fall!

November 06, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Trial, Day 6 -- EMG Test and Updated Cabinet Pictures

Today was another day that felt rather easy to get through without even thinking about food or feeling hungry until the late afternoon. I have to say, I really like this pattern of intermittent fasting. For those of you who asked, I am eating a full day's worth of calories in my eating window (I would guess roughly 1600-1800 calories, but I'm not counting or measuring). Intermittent fasting isn't about eating very little food; it's about eating your day's worth of food in a shorter time frame.

I finally had the EMG test done on my arm. I'm still having pain and numbness (the pain is at night, and the numbness is during the day) and the wrist splint the neurologist prescribed last month hasn't helped at all.

The drive to the neurology center is an hour, so that alone took up a chunk of the day. The test was done in two parts: the first was done by a technician, where some sort of recording device marks how my nerves respond to stimuli from electrodes. I have a TENS unit for my back, and I expected the test to feel similar to using the TENS unit (it turns out that I was right--that's exactly what it felt like).

The technician, Kim, was super friendly. She asked if she had tested me before, because I looked very familiar to her. We eventually discovered that she actually knows me from my blog! That's happened to me before, where someone has recognized me, but it still surprises me. Small world :)

Kim hooked me up to the machine and we chatted as she zapped me over and over again. From the first ten seconds or so of the test, she said she can see that I definitely have carpal tunnel syndrome. From what I understood, the first part (the test that she did) was to test how quickly the nerves were able to send electrical signals, while the second part (done by the doctor) was to evaluate muscle activity from the signals.

The neurologist came in to do the second part of the test. He placed a needle into several different muscles and had me relax and then flex each muscle (my deltoid, triceps, biceps, one or two somewhere in my forearm, and then two in the muscle at the base of my thumb).

The needle pokes felt like needle pokes, so no surprise there. The doctor confirmed what Kim said, that I have carpal tunnel syndrome. I don't think either one of them really believed me/understood me when I explained just how bad the pain is at night. I KNOW what a 10 is on the pain scale... I've felt it before. I broke my jaw completely through in five places. That was a 10. This pain in my arm? It makes the broken jaw a 9 out of 10, because this is worse.

But it's "just carpal tunnel" syndrome, and it's "only mild", so it doesn't require surgery. If this is mild, I can't even imagine what severe carpal tunnel syndrome feels like! So, I'm supposed to continue to wear the wrist splint (in the middle of the night, I usually wake up frantically tear at it to come off because my arm feels like it's on fire).

Needless to say, I feel frustrated. I wanted hope that it's going to get better, but instead I feel kind of patronized, like a little girl who has a boo-boo and is told that a simple kiss will make it all better.

But anyways, enough about that. When I got home, I put a second coat of paint on the pet feeding station, and I FINALLY put the finishing coat of paint on the last of the cupboard doors! I am so so so happy to be done with them. They have to cure for at least a few days before I hang them, but I'm just glad that I don't have to paint them anymore.

I will be thrilled when I can finally put away the paint for the entirety of the project! But I have to touch up a few spots on the walls, the ceiling, and I have to paint the island in the kitchen. I was hoping to get started on the flooring this month, but it's pretty expensive, and we'll have to wait another month to save for it. In the meantime, we're going to try to get everything else completely ready.

Since I don't have any photos for this post, here are "before" and "current" photos of the cabinets:

cabinets before painting

cabinets after painting

I wish I had photos of the "before" complete with the popcorn ceiling and crown molding. It's crazy how different it looks. I will take photos of the whole kitchen once I get all of our stuff put away. Our kitchen table is loaded with cans of paint!

But looking at the before/current photos, I can't help but feel pretty proud that I did that! With my own two mildly-carpal-tunneled hands, and bipolar mind, I managed to do something pretty awesome :)

November 05, 2018

Intermittent Fasting, Day 5 -- Our Golden Years

Today has been much better as far as the intermittent fasting goes!

I wasn't hungry at all today. I took the kids to school, and then had to pick up a couple of things while I was out. I needed another gallon of paint from Sherwin Williams (I am so tired of painting!!) because I ran out of the Aviary Blue while I was working on the cupboard doors yesterday. And then I stopped at two stores looking for regular old stainless steel bowls for Joey's food and water (I wanted new bowls to go with the new "feeding station" I am making).

Both stores had empty spots on the shelves for the size I needed--I can't imagine it's a popular item, but I finally just went to PetSmart. One reason I hate going to PetSmart is that they have adoptable cats in the store. I feel heartbroken when I see them in cages and I desperately want to take them all home, but I know I can't do that.

So, I go into PetSmart, and of course the food bowls are directly across from the cat cages. As I was trying to guesstimate the diameter of the bowls (I forgot my tape measure) there was a gray cat that was meowing at me and rubbing against the side of the cage. Like a moth to a flame, I went over and started scratching his head through the cage. (He's two years old and neutered. Sadly, he's also declawed--even more heartbreaking. I don't like to "preach" on my blog, I am SO SO SO against declawing cats that I am begging anyone reading this not to do it.) 

Anyway, an employee was walking by just then, and I asked if he happened to have access to a tape measure. While he went to look, I kept the kitty company. When he came back he measured the bowls for me. And then he opened the cage to clean out the litter box. (Goddamnit, it's like they KNEW I was coming!)

I asked if I could hold the kitty while he cleaned the box, so I had a few minutes to fall in love give the poor cat some attention. The employee told me that they do same-day adoptions, and I could take him home with me right then.

I was SO tempted, but Estelle and Phoebe would seriously kill me if I brought home a cat. I asked the cashier if the cats are generally adopted quickly, and she assured me that they definitely are. That made me feel a little better, but I wanted that cat! 😭

Anyway, when I got home, I actually put together a funny gift for Jerry. At one of the stores I went to, I saw a pair of men's pajama pants that had The Golden Girls on them--hahaha! So, I put them in a gift bag and then I wrote a sappy love poem about our "golden years" together. Jerry likes the mushy stuff, and I don't; so I knew he'd like the poem, but then he'd laugh when he saw the pajama pants.

Mens' Golden Girls pajama pants

He reacted just as I thought, but it wasn't until a few hours later when I mentioned writing the poem that he said, "Wait--you wrote that?! I thought you found it online!" 😂

Sigh. I referenced holding hands on a bench because of one of our first dates... we were at a park and we saw an elderly couple holding hands and then sitting down on a bench. They looked so content and happy, and Jerry said something like, "I wonder if that will be us someday".

Golden Years poem

We've referenced it several times over the years, but apparently, it went right over his head. Still, he thought the gift was fun.

The poem took a couple of hours to write, so when I was done with it, I went right to painting and didn't stop until dinner at 5:00. I made a recipe for Hawaiian Pork Chops in the crock pot and I really didn't care for it.

It's crazy how fast the day went by! I painted the pet feeding station that I made yesterday, and I LOVE the colors! I used the Aviary Blue on the outside, and then orange on the inside. I'll probably put contact paper on the back wall of the inside once it's dry. But I think the orange is very fun, and that's what I plan to use as an accent color throughout the main parts of the house.

pet feeding station

Second coat tomorrow, and then it has to cure for 7-10 days.

Story of my life!

November 04, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Trial, Days 3-4: Lots of projects to keep busy

Intermittent Fasting Trial

The first two days of my intermittent fasting trial were super smooth. I found it easy!

Yesterday was a different story.

I wasn't exactly hungry, but I wanted to Jerry said watching me was like that Siri commercial with Cookie Monster. I would describe it, but it's something you just have to watch. I LOVE this commercial!!

I was looking at the clock way too frequently to see if my fasting time was up yet.

I didn't have as much to work on yesterday, because I am literally waiting for paint to dry. Painting the cupboard doors has been quite the process. I have 23 doors, and can only fit half of them on the tables. I put on two coats of primer and two coats of paint. The primer and paint are oil-based, which take a good 24 hours to dry between each and every coat. 

When I paint one side of all of the doors, I have to wait 24 hours before turning them over to apply the first coat to the back! Some of them, I turned too early and you can see smudge marks. Once they are all on the cupboards in the kitchen, I'll go through and touch up where needed. For the most part, though, I am loving how they are turning out! I finished the first half and attached them.

I attached cup handles to the drawers using this AMAZING jig by Kreg that allowed me to do all seven drawers in less than 20 minutes. (I'll eventually write a post showing all the tools and paint and stuff like that we used). I promise you, if you have to put knobs or pulls on cabinets, you NEED THIS JIG. Jerry thinks it's hilarious that I am super into tools and woodwork now. I bought a couple other nifty gadgets to use on some more kitchen stuff. 

Kreg knob pulls jig

Anyway, I was dying to eat all day long, but I did manage to wait until the Chicken Taco Soup was done in the crock pot. I'd forgotten about this soup and hadn't made it in years, but the family raved about how good it was. It's super filling, because there are lots of different beans in it (including a can of refried beans, which makes it very thick and hearty. 

Chicken Taco Soup

I ended up eating later into the evening than I would have liked as well. I still managed an 18-hour fast window, though. 

Today, I woke up feeling like I wanted to eat again. So, I tried to keep myself as busy as I could, even with insignificant things. I've been really into contact paper lately (I've been lining the kitchen drawers) and I decided to line a box that I've had since 2004(!). 

It's just a cardboard box (very heavy and good quality) that someone gave me a baby shower gift in (when I was pregnant with Noah). I liked the box and I've never been able to bring myself to get rid of it. So, I put contact paper on it, and then used it to store extra plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc., underneath my sink.

gray contact paper

I really wish I'd thought to do that years ago! 

I've been trying to think of a solution for storing dog/cat treats, and I'm having a hard time with it. We used to keep them in the cupboard attached to the wall we took down, and that's obviously no longer there. I searched Pinterest for some ideas, and I thought it would be really cool to make a "pet feeding station"--where we keep the cat food, dog food, water, treats, etc. 

I thought about building one, or going to Salvation Army to buy a piece of furniture that I could turn into one, but then I remembered a shelf in the garage that I bought a long time ago at Salvation Army. I planned to paint it, but I still hadn't gotten to it. 

Anyways, this is what it looked like before:


I'm still not done with it, but I removed the middle shelf and cut out two holes with a jigsaw. Joey's dog dishes will fit in the holes...

Then, I attached the shelf down near the bottom. On the very top, I cut out two more holes. One is for the cat food (on the top shelf, it's out of Joey's reach!) and the other is a hole for the cats to climb through to the top (they could jump to the top, but Estelle loves to climb through things). 

After that, I primed the whole thing, and I'm going to paint it tomorrow. I can put the pets' treats on that middle shelf. The shelf fits perfectly next to the refrigerator, and it's not bulky, which is great. I'll post a photo when it's totally done.

Today, I put the Moroccan Meatballs in the crock pot, and they were SO good. I've always cooked them on the stove, but they definitely taste better in the crock pot. 

Moroccan Meatballs over Orzo

So, I'm hoping tomorrow feels easier! I'm sure that since the kids have school, I'll stay super busy between driving and working on the stuff at home. 

November 02, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Trial, Day 2 -- Being Photographed While Overweight

Day 2 was another success! I stopped eating last night at 9:30 pm. I hadn't planned on eating more after I wrote my blog post, but Noah's girlfriend brought me a piece of her birthday cake... the most amazing carrot cake! (And you know what a sucker I am for carrot cake.) Her grandmother made it, and every single bite was heavenly.

I'd like to aim for an 18 hours fasting to 6 hours eating window, so that would mean eating at 3:30 today. I like to eat dinner at 4:00, so the timing was great. This morning, I put one of my prepped meals from the freezer into the slow cooker. I chose to make chili. I have been craving Wendy's chili for weeks now, and I looked up some copycat recipes. I'd made a couple before, but something about them was a little off from Wendy's.

The one I made in the slow cooker today was almost spot-on, and it definitely hit the spot! It's been cold and rainy here in Michigan, and nothing sounded better than a hot bowl of chili (with saltine crackers). I read through a ton of different copycat recipes before coming up with my own interpretation. I posted the recipe today, which you can find here: Slow Cooker Wendy's Chili.

This morning, I read a blog post by Andie Mitchell about her postpartum body. Andie lost 135 pounds several years ago, and has had the same ups and downs with her weight as I have. She recently had a baby boy, and in her post, she shared a self-proclaimed unflattering photo--in it, she was holding her baby, wearing her underwear and a robe, while eating a burger and french fries.

She wrote a lovely post about capturing these moments to look back on years from now. She admits that this is where she is right now--50+ pounds overweight and eating comfort food while sleep deprived and getting used to motherhood.

I think most of us moms can relate to those moments when our babies were new and we felt overwhelmed and definitely not camera-worthy. Her husband insisted on taking the photo to laugh about in 20 years, and after thinking about it for a moment, she agreed that capturing the moment was more important than feeling insecure about her postpartum body.

Interestingly, I had a similar experience on Halloween.

As you all know, I'm at my heaviest weight in over eight years. Admitting it and writing about it on my blog helped a lot, but I still feel very insecure and embarrassed of my current body. I haven't been posting pictures of myself for a while--not only because I don't want to share them, but also because I've been avoiding being in front of the camera.

In the few pictures I've seen of myself, I've hardly recognized the girl in the photo. Granted, I'm nowhere near 253 pounds again; but I'd gotten used to my body being 130-145 pounds for most of the last eight years. I know that beating myself up over it won't help a damn thing; but, it's hard to ignore it, too.

On Halloween, I was at Brian and Becky's house for dinner and to chill in front of a fire in the driveway while passing out candy. Luke (my nephew) was absolutely adorable in his lederhosen, and he loved passing out candy. I stood up to take pictures as he dropped candy in a little bucket Brian was holding and pretending to trick-or-treat.

I said, "Trick-or-treat!" to Luke while holding out my hands for candy. Becky said she wanted to take a video of us, and I immediately said no way. Becky, who knows that I haven't been feeling great about my weight lately, insisted that I would want these memories with Luke one day.

I told myself that taking the video doesn't mean I have to share it; I can just have it for myself, to capture fun moments with my adorable nephew who is growing up way too fast. So, Becky took a video of my trick-or-treating with Luke, and sure enough, I looked at it critically when I got home. Instead of viewing it as a moment with Luke, I started picking apart my body.

Reading Andie's post this morning, I realized how shallow and ridiculous it is to focus on my body instead of the moment. Criticizing my looks now isn't going to change anything--it only succeeds in making me feel bad about myself. Looking at Andie's photo, I wasn't repulsed, critical, or judgmental at all. So why do I assume everyone will be if I post photos of myself after having gained a noticeable amount of weight?

I had no intention of sharing these, but Andie's post inspired me. Whether I look good or bad doesn't matter. The point is that I had fun with my nephew and my sister-in-law captured the moment.

I actually wrote a whole post about all of this before, and I do try to keep it in mind. Capturing memories are so important! Not just for ourselves, but for other people in the photo. I don't have many pictures of myself with my kids when they were little, because I was ashamed of my weight. And now my kids won't have many photos of us together, which is sad. My insecurity shouldn't keep them from preserving those memories.

One last thing...

I actually went for a run today! For no reason other than the fact that I wanted to. Contrary to popular belief, I did not feel weak or a lack of energy from fasting during the day. I felt so good that I was in the mood to go for a run!

I even ran four miles, which is the farthest I've run in a very long time. I felt great for about half a mile, and then my left knee started bothering me. I have NO idea why. The only thing I could possibly think of was that I banged it pretty hard on the corner of the coffee table a few days ago (it left a nasty bruise).

I kept hoping that my knee would feel better if I just "ran through it", but that never happened. And it's been pretty sore the rest of the day. I'm super bummed! I felt so good about being out on a run today--the weather was perfect and I was feeling good about myself from doing the intermittent fasting. I'm hoping the knee issue was just a random occurrence. I'd like to go out again soon :)

November 02, 2018

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Wendy's Chili (A Copycat Recipe)

Copycat Wendy's Chili Recipe

I've had a non-stop craving for Wendy's chili ever since Michigan made a turn from miserably hot summer to a very cold and rainy fall. It's rained more this past week than it had all spring long! The weather makes me excited to cook soups, stews, and chili.

I browsed through several copycat Wendy's chili recipes, even cooking a couple of them, before tweaking this and that and making my own version that I found to be just right. Since I've been using the crock pot so much lately, I made this in the crock pot and I think that having it cook on low all day long really made it that much better. It was SO delicious! Especially after fasting all day. (Food tastes a million times better when I'm hungry.)

In true Wendy's fashion, I like to eat this with saltines instead of topping with cheese and onions (my usual chili go-to toppings).

Copycat Wendy's Chili

Click here for the printer-friendly recipe

Copycat Wendy's Chili (in the slow cooker)

2 pounds ground beef (I like 90/10)
15-oz can of tomato sauce
15-oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz cans of petite diced tomatoes
2 15-oz cans of red kidney beans (do not drain)
2 15-oz cans of pinto beans (do not drain)
1 onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
4 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter*

Directions for slow cooker:

Brown the ground beef in a skillet, and then drain. Add the beef to the slow cooker.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the butter. Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir in the butter and serve the chili with saltine crackers.

This makes a large batch of chili--about 16 cups. Luckily, chili makes for fantastic leftovers, and can even be frozen for another time. 

*The butter is clearly optional, but you may notice that Wendy's chili has a silky mouthfeel to it. Adding a touch of butter to the chili gives it that same texture.

November 01, 2018

Intermittent Fasting Trial, Day 1 -- Another Meal Prep Session

A few days ago, I wrote that I wanted to experiment with intermittent fasting. I am curious to see if it affects not only my weight, but things like my energy level, sleep, and digestion. My weight is at the highest it's been in eight years, and my attempts at getting back to calorie counting have only been half-hearted. 

I wanted to try something different, but only if it fits in with my number one rule: Don't make any changes you're not willing to live with forever.

I spent decades of my life trying all the different fad diets and they got me nowhere. So, in 2009, I decided to only make changes that I was willing to do forever. And it worked! I dropped 125 pounds by eating only the foods that I love (in moderate portions) and eventually exercising. Each change I made was something that I had to be willing to do for the rest of my life.

I've seen a number of fad diets come and go over the last nine years since I started losing weight. Sometimes they are tempting to try when my weight is up 10 or 20 pounds, but I always remind myself that I need to stick with the promise I made myself all those years ago.

Intermittent fasting is very trendy right now, but I don't consider it a "fad diet". Like I wrote in my post about it, it seems to me to be a pretty natural way of eating and it would be very convenient in my life. It's certainly something I would be willing to do forever if I enjoy doing it during this 30-day trial period.

I'm calling this a "trial" or "challenge" or "experiment" because I am genuinely curious what changes (if any) the intermittent fasting will have on me. My plan is to do it for 30 days and keep a record of as many things as I can--my hunger levels, my weight and body fat, my sleep patterns, and even my mental state. It will be awesome if I notice a decrease in anxiety or stress, as some people have reported. 

Anyways, today went very well! It's not quite bedtime now, but I am feeling full and content and I don't think I'll be eating anything else tonight. 

I had a super busy day planned, which was great in helping me not focus on hunger (or boredom eating). Remember how I prepped 20 freezer-to-slow-cooker meals last month? Well, we used them all up, having one nearly every single day. And I LOVED IT. I'd spent 7-8 hours prepping everything in one day, but for three weeks after that, I didn't have to cook at all--and we were still able to eat a home-cooked meal every night. 

Yesterday, I did a huge grocery run to do another prep session--this time, I planned to prep 27 meals for the month of November. I used several of the recipes from last month, but I ditched the ones we didn't like and added some of our personal favorites from my recipe collection. I included a lot of my favorite recipes, but most of them aren't slow cooker recipes, so I converted them the best I could. We'll see how it goes! (I'll share the list and notes once I see how everything turns out.)

So, after spending $300 at the grocery store yesterday (yikes! But it's not bad, considering it's for the entire month), I threw everything in the fridge in order to get right to work when I woke up in the morning. The kids didn't have school today (they always get the day after Halloween off), so I was able to sleep in until 9:00! It was SO nice. I haven't been sleeping well at all lately because of the nerve issue with my arm.

When I woke up, I quickly took my body measurements (I'm not at all ready to share those yet--oh, my, they are much different from the last time I took them! haha), my body fat percentage, my resting heart rate, and my weight. Just some numbers to use for comparison purposes later, if I feel like there is a difference. 

While my weight dipped into the 150's a couple of weeks ago, even seeing 158.0, today I was back up to 162.4. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the kids sharing their candy with me last night ;)  Let's hope that I see some progress this month--at least enough to give me a push to want to continue. 

By 9:15, I was in the kitchen with an apron on and prepping food for the 27 meals I planned to have in the freezer by the end of the day. (This meal prep sounds ridiculous, I know. I never understood people who made all sorts of freezer meals like this, but now that I tried it, I love it! The prep work isn't fun, but I love not having to cook all month.)

I had coffee this morning with a teaspoon of heavy cream (having cream in your coffee is controversial among people who do intermittent fasting, but I figured that if having coffee with a touch of heavy cream helps me to fast during the day, then it doesn't matter to me whether it's "correct" or not. I'm doing this for myself. And Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Complete Guide to Fasting and a bit of an intermittent fasting guru, says that it's fine.)

It worked well, too! I stayed very busy with the meal prep, which ended up taking until 5:00. Crazy, right? But I now have 27 meals in the freezer, ready to throw in the crock pot in the mornings. Jerry and I wanted to avoid eating out at all this month, so now we don't have any excuses. 

I didn't even really notice if I was hungry through the day or not, because I was so focused on what I was doing. The day went by so quickly! I ate dinner a little after 5:00, and thankfully, I didn't pig out. That's one concern I had about intermittent fasting, considering I have binge eating disorder. I didn't want to fast half of the day only to follow it up with a binge. 

I'm happy with how my first day went! It was much easier than I thought it would be. It may be more difficult when I'm not so busy, but considering I'm working on the kitchen renovation (and probably will be for another couple of months), I plan to stay busy enough to get used to the different eating patterns. 

Today would have been Mark's birthday. I still laugh about the fact that he always told us his birthday was on Halloween (he thought it was) and then when he was in the hospital, his bracelet read "11-1-1955". We were all so surprised! Mark was never sure of his age, either, so it was interesting to finally learn that as well. (We didn't tell him that we'd been celebrating his birthday on the wrong day all those years--and I'll always think of his birthday as being on Halloween.) 

I'm sure Halloween was an easy way for him to remember it. I find it surprising that he would have been 63 today--he seemed about 10 years younger than that to me! I thought of him a lot last night when we were handing out candy. Halloween just isn't the same without him. 

BUT... how cute is Luke in his lederhosen?!

He loved passing out candy so much that when he went trick-or-treating at a few of the neighbors' houses, he gave away his candy to some random kids on his way back home, hahaha. 

And Riley... she is SO sweet! She has an enormous smile that (unfortunately) is impossible to catch on camera. She's very alert and made all sorts of squeaky noises when I was holding her. She looked like a baby doll in her little dirndl (a.k.a. dress; I had to look up the name of it.)!

While Halloween is bittersweet without Mark, I do love the new tradition of spending the evening with my nephew and niece :) 

I miss the days of dressing my kids in cute Halloween costumes. Yesterday, Noah dressed as Michael Myers, and Eli dressed as a bandit. 

I gave Eli a mustache and beard shadow with make-up, and I thought it looked hilarious. They're so grown up. They are both taller than I am now!

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