Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today is a Good day

1) Charles is three years cancer free today!! Wooohooo! This is counting from his last cancer surgery from when the cancer came back. He's down to seeing the oncologist every three months (from every four weeks) and his last MRI showed everything was great! He doesn't want to officially celebrate until the five-year mark so two more years to go!

2) I have another physical therapy session on Thursday afternoon and I've been doing the basic exercises they gave me. My back and hip feel 100% better. There's some occasional twinges of pain but not anywhere as bad as it was. I also spoke with the DHMC Spine Center and I have an appointment with them in November.

3) To follow up on physical therapy I'm have a training session with my trainer set up for Friday afternoon to learn a complete band workout since I'm not supposed to use weights right now and had to cut out so many exercises from my other workouts. I'm really looking forward to this and can't wait to be back in the gym!!

4) I'm doing really well with no cheat day and staying within my calories. I'm not happy that I've been at the top level of my calories every day though so I want to lower that a little but I'll wait and see what happens on Thursday's weigh-in. I won't lie, some days this week (especially the first three) on no-cheat-day have been really, really hard to keep myself from binging but I'm doing it. Some of the days I had to take it one hour at a time but whatever it takes!

5) It's National Coffee Day!! Go out and enjoy some coffee if you haven't yet!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday in the Kitchen - Morning Maple Muffins

These came from the Taste of Home magazine and taste amazing! The original recipes calls for nuts with the topping but I skip that part.  These are not "healthy" muffins so consider them a treat!

Ingredients
  2 cups all-purpose flour
  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  2 teaspoons baking powder
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  3/4 cup milk
  1/2 cup butter, melted
  1/2 cup maple syrup
  1/4 cup sour cream
  1 egg
  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  TOPPING:
  3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3 tablespoons sugar
        1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  2 tablespoons cold butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine milk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. For topping, combine flour, sugar, nuts and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm.

Nutritional Facts: makes 12 serving
1 serving is 274 calories, 11 g fat, 107 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.

I even have a pictures of these!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Fit Friday Review - Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color

Disclaimer: I realize this is not a fitness or diet review but when I was researching new hair color, reading other people's reviews really helped me so I'm writing one as well. Also, no one is paying me or giving me anything to write this. And, I apologize, but this review has a long introduction to it :)

I have been coloring my hair since high school. I've been blond, brunette and many, many shades of red. I've probably tried most of the drugstore dyes out there: Revlon, Clairol, Garnier and several different kinds of L'oreal, but for the last several years I've used L'oreal Paris Superior Preference. I was pretty happy with the color I was getting at first but over the last few months I found myself looking for a certain shade of red/auburn/copper that I just couldn't seem to find. I went from L'oreal Intense Dark Red to dark Auburn to Medium Auburn and then to Intense Red Copper (where I stayed until this past week) and while I would love my color the first couple of days, it still wasn't what I was looking for so I went looking for a new shade of red.

Frankly, I love researching. If I could be paid to Google I'd be so happy lol so I went over all the store brand reds I could find, reading reviews and looking at colors but there was still something missing. I had a certain color I wanted that I could see in my head but I just couldn't place it. And then while pinning one day (that's probably a whole post on its own) I came across a brand called Madison Reed which promised a lot of things the drugstore dyes couldn't offer. So, of course, it was time to research some more and I researched it like crazy, not only reading reviews on Pinterest and Facebook but also reading as many blog reviews about it as I could find, 95% of which were positive! And then came the most important part... I found the color I'd been searching for on their website! Yes, it was more expensive than the drugstore dyes but way, way less than a salon (although I've never had my hair dyed at a salon before) and after seeing some real-life examples of the color I wanted on their Facebook page I knew I had to try them!

One of the first things you do on their website to find your best color match is to fill out an eight question hair profile that chooses five color shades for you based on your answers. They offer a total of 32 colors.

The color I wanted, Vesuvius Red, was not the #1 choice on my profile but it was in the list of five and it was what I wanted so I went with it. You can order one box of color for $24.95 ($10.00 more for an extra tube if you have really long hair) with $5.00 for shipping or set up a "continuous color plan" when the color is delivered to your home from anywhere to every two weeks to every twelve weeks based on your choice, also with $5.00 for shipping.

If you've never done your hair at home they have step-by-step instructions and a step-by-step video.

The permanent hair dye states that it doesn't have a bad smell, uses micro pigments, argon oil, keratin and ginseng root extract and does not have ammonia, gluten, Resorcinol, no added parabens and is PPD-free (note - it DOES contain PTD so do a spot test to make sure you don't have a reaction to it!). They do not test on animals and they promise 100% gray coverage.

It only took a few days to get my box of color but upon opening it I came across my first (and pretty much only) problem. The company had sent me a box with instructions for touching up roots and not for doing your full head of hair. Everything in the box was what I needed except for the directions. I called their toll-free number (I also had the option to chat with them online) and spoke to someone very friendly who emailed me the correct instructions within minutes and took the shipping cost off of my next order!



Inside the box I found color cream, conditioning color activator, a packet of barrier cream, a packet of cleansing wipes, two pairs of gloves (which is awesome because you don't have to wash off your gloves and try to get them back on your hands after they've been wet), a cap (also a great idea) and a sample of their shampoo and conditioner. The only thing they didn't include which you could really use are hair clips but you can get those in an accessory kit.

The first thing I did after reading the instructions half a dozen times was to take a photo and then separate and put up my hair. Because I was doing my whole head of hair and not just the roots I didn't worry to much about doing the roots perfectly since it was all going to be covered by the end anyway.


                                     My hair color (indoors) before using Madison Reed.


Your hair needs to be dry and unwashed for several days. You also want to make sure there's not a lot of product in it.

                

Next came the gloves and the barrier cream. The gloves fit wonderfully and the barrier cream is genius! You apply it around your hairline and it's supposed to keep color off of your skin. It also smelled nice! There's also the packet if cleansing wipes but for some reason I don't have a photo of it.


The color cream was wonderfully thick and went into the color activator easily and smoothly. I pretty much rolled it down the way you would a tube of toothpaste to make sure I got all of it.

After that I started to apply it to my hair, starting at the front of the forehead at the roots and moving out from there. The directions also say to lightly rub the cream into your roots and I think that helped cover them much better.

The best thing, in my opinion, besides a cream that didn't drip in any way was the good smell. I've never used a hair color that smelled and felt this good going on! It didn't too long for my whole head to be covered. I have just at/slightly past shoulder blade length hair and the amount of dye was more than enough for me. The hair cap was also a great addition, it kept all of the hair covered and kept the color off of whatever I was touching.




Right before the shower when the shower cap was taken off

Because I have a lot of gray hair coming in and at the roots I was told to keep the color on for 45 minutes. This is longer than the drugstore brand dyes but I wanted to follow the instructions and not be too worried about it. Once the time was up I jumped into the shower and washed out all the color I could and then used the shampoo and conditioner Madison Reed had sent me. Holy crud, this is one of the best shampoo and conditioners I have ever used. It is paraben, sulfate and gluten-free and, once again, smells great (I have a really sensitive sense of smell so that's really important to me). My hair felt absolutely amazing using it!



Right out of the shower, the first thing I noticed that my hair was dark. Really, really dark but I figured, hey, let's see what happens when it dries. It felt great, it smelled great, now all I was waiting on was the color.

I also want to point out that for the first time in a very, very long time, I did not get hair color on the floor, bathmat or shower curtain because it was thick enough not to splatter!

The cleansing wipes also worked great for the parts of the skin I did get color on, wiped it off right away and smelled good!

I don't use heat on my wet hair, it air dries and then I run a flat iron through it after adding in some protective spray so it took a little while for me to be able to see my finished color and, yes, it was darker than before. It wasn't horribly dark but because of how light it was with the intense red copper shade I think I was thrown off a little. What I needed to remind myself is that my original, natural color is a medium-ish brown with a touch of blond and possible red highlights so, of course, my hair wasn't going to be super light. I did love the shade of red it was though and I found that all of my grays were completely and fully covered which didn't always happen with L'oreal!

Also, my hair has never felt this good, this silky and this amazing after any other dye I've ever used. I kept running my fingers through it because it felt so great! Lol!

                                                            Indoors right after it dried.

I got some photos to compare in similar sun and shade areas of the yard but knew I'd have to wait for the following day to get true outdoor shots.

The top two photos are the old color in the sun and shade and the bottom two are the new color in the sun and shade.




This is taken the morning after it was colored and I loved it. Absolutely loved it! It still felt amazing and it was just about the color I had been picturing. It was a little darker and more "cool" red than I had planned but I knew the shade would change somewhat after the first shampoo plus it looked fantastic!

I try and let several days go by between shampooing because of how quickly red fades, and the water did have some red washing out in it during the first shampoo, but I assume that's normal because it's happened with any dye I've ever used. Or maybe I need to rinse my hair better during the first color rinse? I don't know but I'll take any advice you guys have on that!

These photos are after the first shampoo, in the sun and in the partial shade...



The color has settled in a little. It's less "cool" red and more auburn red which was my goal in the first place. It still feels amazing and I absolutely love it! THIS is the elusive color I've been trying to find for all this time! This is exactly what I wanted and hoped for! The next step is too see how it fades over the next three weeks so I'll update this post when that time comes!

So, basically, Madison Reed is the best hair dye (and shampoo/conditioner) I have ever used. They've won me over and unless they change the color/shade on me, I plan on using them for a long, long time!

I also have my eye on their Root Touch-Up but for now that goes on my wish list!

Funny addition: as I was writing this review my box of a full-size set of the shampoo and conditioner came in the mail. Also, if you plan on ordering, there are some great codes out there to save money and I saved half off the shampoo and conditioner from on of their emails! And if you know me and want to try this, give me your email and we'll both save $15.00 on our orders!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Week Nine - Thursday Check-In

Week Nine weigh-in:
09/24/2015:        +2 pound
Total lost:           6.6 pounds
Current Weight: 223.4 pounds

Well, it's incredibly disappointing and discouraging to see this number and on the scale again and to have to face this gain. The only positive there is, is that I know I didn't eat enough to gain two pounds of fat. And I know that giving up "cheat" days and meals will help get that number back down.

Other than that I don't really have a lot to say. I'm going to physical therapy in about two hours and hoping for some good exercises I can do and maybe being allowed back in the gym (outside of the pool. I'm really not liking the pool).

My goals for this coming week are no cheat days and hitting my calorie goal every day. I can't really plan for exercise right now and so far this morning has proven to be pretty depressing.

On the plus side, it's really good to have a diagnosis for this back stuff and to know that we're going to actually deal with it.

Edited to add that I've decided to consolidate my last nine weeks of weight loss/gain/loss/gain on my "weigh-ins and measurements" page into one line because all it did was shift up and down by a few pounds and this take up less room and is less depressing to look at. I will continue the weekly weigh-in count from where it is though.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

No More "Cheat" Anything

I'm done with it. Done with cheat meals that extend to cheat days.  Done with cheat days that extend to cheat weekends. Done with cheat weekends that extend to cheat weeks... you guys get the point although, to be honest, I've kept it at two cheat days lately but that is still way too much.

I think out of everything I'm doing and trying to lose weight, it's the cheat days that are slowing me down and messing me up. I don't track calories on those days. I just eat and eat and eat but what I need to accept is that all those calories count whether or not I'm tracking them.

I may think that I'm only getting so many calories a day but if I were to actually count the cheat day calories and then average them out with the rest of the whole week I would end seeing that I'm eating, on average, way, way, way more than I'm logging. Of course that's going to screw with my weight loss! What else could I expect!?

So I'm done with them. After writing a blog post to "dear cheat day me"  two and a half weeks ago I thought I could just do a cheat meal but I can't. The meal sends me off into an entire day and so on, so it all needs to go.

I'm thinking that if I'm seriously craving something I can try to have a little bit of it (and buy a little bit of it so there leftovers aren't there to call my name) and track it and if there's some kind of special occasion coming up that involves food I can plan for it but other than that my days will now all be regular calorie counting days. Hopefully I'll see a difference in the weight loss and in how I feel doing it this way and the reevaluate in a couple of months!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Back Issues Update

My MRI was this morning (I almost fell asleep in it :/) and the doctor had my results by early this afternoon. The MRI showed signs of "lumbar degenerative disc disease" (it's not as scary as it sounds, "Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine, or lower back, refers to a syndrome in which a compromised disc causes low back pain") and they're referring me to the DHMC spine clinic.

I'm actually really glad they found something wrong because the pain has gone down (not fully away though, especially in the hip and thigh) and I was worried that they weren't going to find anything and that I was wasting their time.

They only did the lower back so I don't know if they'll need to look at the whole spine eventually since I threw out my neck a couple of months ago.

I had an MRI about ten years ago that showed two protruding discs on the left so this doesn't come as a big surprise and I guess I can just add it on to the fibromyalgia and the migraines and the IBS and all the other chronic crap I deal with. I know there's several ways of dealing with this from exercises, to shots to chiropractors, massage and who knows what else.

I emailed with my trainer and she wants me to find out what my strength training limitations are, whether I can use bands or weights and body weight for now, so that's one of the questions I'm writing down for the spine clinic. In the meantime I'm calling physical therapy back tomorrow and setting up another appointment with them.

I also know that losing weight will help a lot so I'm refocusing my efforts on that. This week my goal is to up my protein because that's going very badly for me. I don't eat eggs, hate Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, I'm not thrilled with lunch meat (too much makes me feel like throwing up), hell, meat in general isn't my favorite thing in large portions so I'm looking at all sorts of other options (beans, cheese, fish, protein shakes?). I'm doing okay cutting back on the carbs but the protein thing is proving to be a real problem.

At least things are hurting less now!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday in the Kitchen - Lil Cheddar Meatloaves

This recipe comes from the Taste of Home magazine/website. I used to absolutely love that magazine and their recipes are delicious!

We used to make these all the time with homemade mashed potatoes and the kids all loved them so I might make them sometime soon because it's been a really long time since we've had them!

I personally replace the cheddar cheese with 4-pizza cheese or 6-pizza cheese mix (whatever I have at home) and change some other little things to suit or tastes so the recipe reflects that!

They're easy to make and taste great!

Lil Cheddar Meat Loaves

8 Servings Prep: 15 min. Bake: 25 min.

Ingredients
1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded pizza cheese
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons honey dijon mustard
1 tbls olive oil for oiling the baking dish

Directions
In a large bowl, whisk egg and milk. Stir in the cheese, oats, onion
and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight
loaves; place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a small
bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard; spoon over
loaves.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until no pink
remains and a meat thermometer reads 160°.

Yield: 8 servings.

Nutritional Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 305 calories, 16 g fat, 25 carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 1 g fiber, 388 mg sodium.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fit Friday Review - Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer

This is a review for a Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. I'm writing this review because I want to. No one is paying me or giving me anything to write this :)

I've been wanting a vegetable "spiralizer" for a long time now, especially when I would see photos of zucchini and squash "spaghetti" and now that I'm working on the low carb thing I figured this would be the perfect thing to replace pasta.

I did a lot of research before finally settling on a "Paderno" vegetable slicer. I like to read reviews and I want to know what to expect when I invest my time and/or money in something. This one had had great reviews across the board and was a decent price so I went with it. I got mine at Amazon which is where I get most of my stuff. It came in the mail yesterday and we tried it out this afternoon.

                                   
This vegetable slicer comes with 3 cutting blades; a "shredder" blade with the smallest holes to make spaghetti -like cuts, a "chipper" blade with the larger holes to make medium cuts that resemble curly fries and the straight blade that makes ribbon-like cuts. You can't see the straight blade one in these photos because it was already in the machine (it comes that way) and I didn't think to take it out.

Also included in the box are the crank handle and the pronged wheel, and there is a space on the main slicer where you can store two of the cutting blades. The main slicer also has 4 suction feet on the bottom of it, but we tried it on the kitchen table and a cutting board and couldn't get the suction feet to stick no matter how much we pressed down according to instructions. It was only after we had washed the slicer that we realized that maybe we should have wet the feet down first? I'll give that a try next time!



Since I knew I was going to be writing this review tonight I wanted to try out each blade so I went with a zucchini for the smaller blade, a summer squash for the medium blade and an apple for the straight blade. 

The slicer was very easy to put together and the directions were simple and clear. The crank handle with the wheel prongs attached to its spot on the slicer very easily and the blade plates just slide in and out of their positions. Since the straight blade was already in the slicer we decided to start with that one.

It did take us a minute to figure out that we had to cut at least one end of the apple off before attaching it to the slicer. It doesn't say to do that in the written directions but Charles found it on the box in one if the images. Maybe you don't have to cut off an edge with everything but we did to be on the safe side.


Once the end was cut (we only cut one end of the apple), it was attached to the corer in the blade plate and then pushed into place with the prongs from the other end. Then all we had to turn the handle while keeping a steady pressure on the sliding plate and magic happened!




You'll see as you continue to get through the fruit or veggies that the core remains in the machine while everything else comes down. You can't see the core here because it broke off and as you may be able to see in the third photos, some of the apple pieces got stuck but it only took a few seconds to unstick them.

After the apple we moved on to the small hole blade to make "spaghetti" out of zucchini.


We cut off both ends of the zucchini because it didn't look like the ends were soft enough be held by the prongs. This was really easy and quick to do with all three foods we tried. Just push and crank, like a grown up foodie-play dough toy ;)





You can see in this photo what the core looks like when it doesn't break off.


Most of the zucchini came out in very long thin strands but a few of the pieces at the beginning broke off into moon-like crescents. After we were done with the zucchini we moved on to the blade with the large holes to use on the summer squash.


We cut off both ends of the summer squash as well and it came out like curly fries which was pretty cool. The core of the summer squash was just like the zucchini core. Only the apple core broke off.



Once we were done with everything we ended up with a plate full of awesome looking "pasta." We'll be cooking it tomorrow and I'll update on how that goes.


Taking the slicer apart only took about a minute. We washed each blade separately with one of those scrubby brushes and washed the machine itself with a regular sponge. It cleaned up very easy and quickly. The directions say that it's dishwasher safe but we don't have a dishwasher so that part didn't matter to me.

I think the entire process, including putting it together, until it ended up in the dryer rack took, maybe, 15 minutes, and we ended up with a huge plate of food.

The instructions page also has info on how to make c-shaped cuts and ribbon cuts so we'll be playing with that in the future and we will absolutely be using this machine with a lot more fruits and vegetables. I can't wait to try it out on a sweet potato. 

This slicer is very easy to use, it's simple to put together and take apart and it cleans up quickly and well. So far I'm loving it but I won't know how it holds up to frequent use until that actually happens so I'll update this review in a few weeks or months! 

Let me know if you guys have any questions and feel free to send veggies recipes my way!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Week Eight - Thursday Check-In

Week Eight weigh-in:
09/17/2015:        -1 pound
Total lost:           8.6 pounds
Current Weight: 221.4 pounds

So I'm down a pound which is great but I'm so frustrated by my progress over time. Yes, it is progress but it's so slow and so "one step forward two steps back" that it's depressing. If you look at my "weigh-ins and measurements" page you'll see that over the last eight weeks I've lost 3.6 pounds and in between that loss there were regains and stalling. I know I should look at the positives and I know weight loss isn't linear, it's just frustrating to look at.

The other thing I need to keep reminding myself of is what my doctor, my shrink and my therapist have been telling me over and over again. The psych meds I'm on will make my weight loss much more difficult and slower than for someone who's not on these meds. It's not impossible, it's just harder and slower and I may not be able to lose everything I want but I can lose a lot and that's the goal!

So what did I accomplish this past week? Well, I managed to get to physical therapy and to hobble around town to get most basic errands done (trust me, this week that's a huge accomplishment). I stayed within my calories 5 days out of the week and within my new carb limits for 4 of those days. I kept blogging and keeping up with social media and I finished the dog portrait!

This coming week my goals are simple... hit my calorie and carb goals 6 days out of 7. Get to the therapy pool for at least 3 days out of 7 (stretch for the other ones), use the spiralizer thing to make zucchini and yellow squash "spaghetti" one time this week and focus on adding at least 10 more grams of protein to my daily diet. Also, write a review on the blog for the spiralizer thing because it's review week!

I'm going to work very, very hard to keep the scale going down or at least not up again and then I guess we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another Day Down...

Not much new going on here.

I went to physical therapy yesterday and all they could really do was have me move in various positions to see where the pain was and how far I could go and then gave me a sheet of exercises to do in the pool. The first one if to hang on one of those pool noodles and let the water take some pressure off of my hip. Oh and lay on my stomach for as long as I can and stretch a little.

My MRI is scheduled for Tuesday morning. I'm also supposed to have a cardiology appointment on Tuesday afternoon but there's no way I can drive to DHMC in this condition. It hurts horribly to drive for even five minutes much less 45.

I have noticed that the pain improves when I'm in my recliner and it's worse at my work desk and in the car so I guess it all depends on how I sit and position my body.  It's still spreading down my leg; it's past the knee now and heading into the calf and ankle. Really not fun!

On a positive note though I've been doing great with my calories and well within limits of my lowish-carb goals! I do still need to add in more protein and I'm working on a grocery list for tomorrow's shopping that will be really high in protein but at the rate I'm going I should have a decent weight loss this week!

I also bought a spiral vegetable slicer (spiralizer?) and can't wait for it to come so I can try it out. I've heard some great things about zucchini and spaghetti squash "spaghetti" and I am SO making some this week and then I'll review the spiral thingie because it's almost time for another review anyway!

I think that's all I have for today but I'll leave you guys with a pretty cool collage I made on the phone of signs of Autumn from our yard! Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Some Updates and Explanations

So, first, I am still in major pain and it's now making its way down along my thigh and into my knee while also remaining in the lower back, butt and hip. When I move it's stabbing pain but when I'm sitting or laying still its a needling, never-ending, heavy painful ache and it makes me want to throw up and scream. I am not having a good time right now!

I did speak with physical therapy and I'm seeing them tomorrow. I also saw my trainer when I dropped off the finished dog portrait this afternoon and she said that I can still come and work out and just focus on the upper body push and pull. I want to see how I do in physical therapy tomorrow but going back to the gym would be so great! I really miss it and working on the parts that don't hurt would probably take my mind off the parts that do!

I'm still waiting for a call from the MRI people and really hoping that comes tomorrow because something has to be done here! I can't keep going like this for much longer although I'm not sure what will change once the MRI shows the issue. Still, I just want to get it done!

Now on to food. At the same time my doctor suggested low-carb,  he also told me what things to fully give up; mainly white flour, white sugar, processed foods and general crap. He did not say I need to drop to a very low amount of carbs, but a low-lower carb plan. I've done a lot of research in the last two days and I can see that low-carb  ranges from under 100 grams of carbs down to 20 or less grams of carbs and frankly, I can't go cold turkey even though it may be recommended. I've decided to take a slightly different approach which is something that was suggested to me... focus on adding healthy things more than focusing on taking away things.

Yes, I'm definitely going way lower carb and it's technically low-carb (just not VERY low-carb) but I want my first focus to be on getting rid of the crap and adding a lot more protein, rather then getting rid of almost every carb I eat, if that makes sense. If I don't take things step-by-step I will completely and utterly fail and I know it. Cold-turkey is not for me.

I've actually done really well with it the last two days but I've also barely been able to eat anything today because it all makes me feel like throwing up thanks to the pain, so I don't know if that counts.

I know a lot of you have taken time to give me advice and ideas and I want to thank all of you so much, even if I'm choosing not to follow all the advice I've been given, please know it's nothing personal! I'm just trying to make my own way through this mess and figure it out.

I'm sure I will continue to learn and try out different things along this journey so please stick with me because I'm not about to quit!

Also, here if the finished "Bean" dog portrait commission :)


Motivational Monday


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday in the Kitchen - Baked Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

These were pretty tasty and much healthier than the store bought chicken nuggets.

INGREDIENTS:
15 oz (2 large) skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bit sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp golden breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Pam olive oil spray - 4 second spray
1/2 tsp inion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Put the olive oil in one bowl and the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and all three seasonings in another.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, then put in the bowl with the olive oil and mix well so the olive oil evenly coats all of the chicken.

Put a few chunks of chicken at a time into the breadcrumb mixture to coat, then on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the top with olive oil spray then bake 8 - 10 minutes. Turn over then cook another 4 - 5 minutes or until cooked though (I cut through a piece to make sure it's done on the inside).

Serve with a dipping sauce or dressing.

Nutritional Facts: makes serves 5 people
1 serving is 191 calories, 10 g fat, 249 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 18 g protein.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Update on Back and Hip Issues

I saw my doctor this afternoon and lets just say the exam proved to be very painful. Especially when the doctor tried to show me that my back was more painful than my hip by pressing down on the hip area. I think my screaming showed him he was wrong and he kept apologizing for that for the rest of the visit so we're good.

Basically, I am in major pain, especially when sitting up or down, being in the car, raising my leg in any way or generally just existing. During certain movements I feel like a knife is being stabbed into the place where my hip and my thigh meet and it still hurts throughout the left side of my back, my waist and my butt and is now making it's way down along the rest of my left thigh.

My doctor thinks it's a pinched nerve in my back and is sending me for an MRI next week as soon as they can get me in. In the meantime I get to suffer because he doesn't want me on any narcotic drugs thanks to all the psych meds that I am on (and they make me sick anyway so I'm good with this). I really can't picture myself on the bathroom floor throwing up from pain meds while my back, hip and thigh scream at me. It'll probably hurt less to just not take the pills altogether. If it is a pinched nerve he'll be sending me to a spine clinic... if it's not then I have no idea.

I am also being sent to physical therapy AGAIN but I'm not allowed to do any serious gym workouts that will affect my back, thigh or hip. I may as well have my own chair in PT by now or maybe my own bed or something. My guess is that I could end up in the therapy pool again but I won't know until I actually meet with them (also sometime next week).

So I'm in pain and I'm upset and I'm pissed off that this happened and that I'll be starting all over again when I can finally come back to the gym. Today I'm at the stage where I'm whining that things are unfair because, damn it, it's NOT fair!!!

I was going to the gym, I was being careful, I was working out and counting calories and doing everything right and all I did was freaking vacuum. That's it! How is that fair??

Oh, and also my doctor wants me on a low-carb diet as of today because he wants as much weight off my body as quickly as possible in a healthy way and feels that's the best way to go so I guess I'm off to research some low-carb recipes and completely re-plan the way I eat. Any advice or ideas on the low-carbing are more then welcome.

That's all I have for today.

"Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning..." (9/11 Post Reposted From Old Blog)

Reposted from my old blog...

I was at home with the kids. The ex had moved out only a few weeks before so I was dealing with that, with finding out that I was married to someone who lied and cheated and treated me like crap but still hoping to make it work. Don't ask me why. It's not what this post is about.

He was coming over that morning to take his computer that I'd been using so I was waiting for him to show up.

Sometime after 9 am my Mom called me and told me to turn on the TV. She said a plane had hit one of the towers.

As I turned on the TV I was thinking it was a little plane, maybe a 2-seater. Someone had made a flying mistake and I hoped there wouldn't be too many causalities.

Even as I first saw the news I was thinking it was an accident. I think a lot of people thought that. Probably hoped for that.

And then everything changed as I watched the world we knew disintegrate before my eyes.

I watched the second plane hit. I watched as people fell from the building, the screaming, crying, blood covered faces, then suddenly it switched from New York to D.C, and I watched the smoke and destruction at the Pentagon and then it went back and I watched the towers collapse...and somewhere in there flight 93 hit the ground.

It was like watching a movie.

Like being in a dream.

It couldn't be real.

It could. not. be real.

But it was.

At some point in time the ex showed up and all I could think was, we're at war. We're under attack. How insignificant are our marriage issues when the world is coming to an end. Of course, they were significant enough to end the marriage but, once again, this is not about that.

I remember him unhooking his computer and refusing to hook my old one back up because he was busy. I even asked him because I had all of my online friends to help me get through this marriage thing...Cis, Tree, Patty...you guys know who you are and I needed you.

But he refused.

And somehow I got it back together, the TV still blaring scenes of death and destruction. Again and again and again.

It was unbelievable. I still remember the fear, the sadness...everything mixed up between the loss of my marriage and the loss of everything that was collapsing around us.

For months afterwards I read the stories and looked at the photos and videos that were repeated over and over again.

CNN had this thing where they posted a profile for every person lost. I read each one, refusing to miss any. I had to know more and more about the lost. Maybe because it was the only thing, the last thing, I could do for them.

I read about the married couple, 7 months pregnant who probably tried to get out together and never made it. Years later the husband was identified through DNA, I don't know if the wife ever was.

I read about the New York cities police officers and firefighters to rushed to their deaths believing that they could save someone and being lost in the process.

I read about those who were there on their first day of work, those who were there for their last, those who were late and missed the attack and those who were covering some one's shift and were killed. The final phone calls goodbye, the heroes of flight 93 and the heroes that have never been truly acknowledged.

The parking lots still filled with cars that will never be picked up by their owners again. The pregnant wives waiting at home for some shred of hope. The funerals, the pain, the young and the old and all those in between. They all, and so many, many more, were with me. And still remain with me.

Somewhere in a desk I have an issue of Newsweek with photos and articles that came out that week. I don't want to read it right now. I don't know when or if I will ever read it again but something compelled me to buy it. Maybe someday when the kids are older and have more questions I will pull it out and have them read it. I don't know. I guess we'll see.

I remember exactly what I was doing that day. I remember what I was feeling and what the world was watching along with me.

And I will never, never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Week Seven - Thursday Check-In

Week Seven weigh-in:
09/10/2015:     +.6 pounds
Total lost:           7.6 pounds
Current Weight: 222.4 pounds

Well, I have a gain of just over half a pound this week but considering I have a bad injury that's most likely swollen and the crazy "cheat" days, I guess I should be lucky it's not worse than that.

I'm still making very slow progress if you look at the overall weight loss and I just need to keep telling myself that.

I wasn't able to meet a lot of my goals this week... there was no gym, there were no DVD workouts, there was no 10-minute of exercise a day (in fact it seems like everyone's given up on that challenge so I'm putting it aside for this month and will plan for something new and more organized next month). I did try the bike path and ended barely able to do even a small part of it.

I did track my calories like I planned and I did blog. I also has a healthy lunch once this week (I had planned for twice).

I general my only goals for this coming week are to heal from the injury, to pay attention to my pain days and to count calories. It may not seem like a lot but it's the best I can do right now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

So There's High Pain Days...

And then there's really high pain days. The kind of days where you can barely move, every muscle and joint crying for relief as you try to survive until it's time to sleep and, hopefully, not feel anything.

And then there's my lower back/hip the last day and a half. It doesn't just hurt at this point in time, it burns and stabs and screams as well. And it's not horrible all the time, it comes and goes, sometimes in waves as I sit and being a constant as I walk and move in any direction, especially getting up and down. Let's not even talk about how painful it is to get out of the car because I have to lift up my leg.

I didn't even do anything major to hurt it this time.  I vacuumed. That was it. I vacuumed for maybe 15 seconds and that was all it took to go from "okay" to "OMG it hurts so badly I can barely move and breath."

I thought Sunday was bad with everything hurting but this is so much worse because the pain is focused on one general area and it doesn't just hurt, it's way beyond "hurt" at this point in time.

I put some heat on it last night and that helped a little but for the most part I'm downing Advil and Bayer Back and Body Pain and lovingly thinking about the Tylenol with codeine I have stashed away for emergencies. I absolutely hate taking it because it makes me feel really sick but it's there if I need it. I'm just hoping not to need it anytime soon.

Sleeping was really awful too and I kept waking up from the stabs of pain so I'm exhausted on top of everything else.

Looking back, I can't even think of anything that could have set it off; I haven't tripped, I haven't fallen, I haven't stepped in any holes, I haven't had any major workouts... except when I went on the bike path a few days ago and had to practically crawl back to the car. Maybe that set it off? I don't know but a lot of the time the pain comes out of nowhere. I'm fine and then boom, something seizes up and hurts really, really badly. And then it stops and something else hurts. It's hard to think of a time when nothing hurts. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to find one of those times at all.

I'm guessing stress doesn't help and there's always some of that going on. Maybe I need to go see the chiropractor again. Maybe I need to suck it up and go get acupuncture like Charles suggests (I keep meaning too, just haven't done it yet). Maybe I need yoga and relaxation or maybe I need to get myself to the gym for specific exercises or the therapy pool or something. It's pointless to go to the doctor because all they can do is give me some meds and send me to physical therapy again which I've done for several years now, on and off, and can do the exercises they give at home. I don't know what else to do.

What I do know is that I'm in pain almost all the time but, usually, that pain doesn't affect my day to day life because I'm used to it by now. But this hip pain is knocking me on my butt and really affecting my life. On a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 25 at its worse. It hurts so badly and I want it to stop already!!!

How do I make it stop?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday in the Kitchen - "Drink Your Produce Beet Juice"

When Charles and I first started juicing after watching "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" we tried out several different recipes and veggies/fruits until we found one we actually liked. We found this particular juice recipe online and it turned out to be the best tasting one we've made so far and the one we make most often.

We also modified the original recipe a little to suit our needs (basically we added beets) and the nutritional value is what I get when I plug the ingredients into My Fitness Pal, but I'm not sure if it's exactly right because of all the pulp and parts of the fruits and veggies that don't end up in the juice.

Also, everything is measured in grams because it's easier for us to get the nutritional value that way.

Ingredients:
23 grams Raw Ginger Root
637 grams Carrots
797 grams Peeled Cucumber (we found that peeling the cucumber makes the juice less bitter)
595 grams Apple (peeled)
397 grams Pear
453 grams Beets

Follow your juicer instructions, juice and try to enjoy!

This recipes makes ten 6 oz servings.

Nutritional Facts
1 6 oz glass: 105 calories, 0 g fat, 79 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 2 g protein.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dear Cheat-Day Me

Okay, listen up and pay attention! I know it's exciting to have a day to ignore calorie counting and just eat whatever but, please, please for the love of all that is holy, stop stuffing your face with so much crap that you make us sick!

Is it really worth eating all that only to end up spending hours trying not to throw up and running back and forth to the bathroom? Is feeling that horribly sick a good reaction to being able to throw caution to the wind?

And while we're on that topic, is eating so much of that crap really a good idea? I mean, yeah, it's fun picking something you wouldn't normally eat and just being able to enjoy it, but do you have to enjoy three or four of them? And then piles of other stuff on top of that??

You don't have to shovel down food like you'll never see it again! There's no famine coming. No one is threatening to take the food away from you. The cupboards will not be bare tomorrow... calm down, slow down and stop gorging yourself! I understand why you're doing this but stop it already! And on top of that, it's not like that food is going to be denied to you until the next cheat day. Hell, if you want an ice cream come that badly just work it into your calories during the week!

I know that you and I are part of this body that has issues with food. I know there's binging issues and withholding issues and stomach issues and all sorts of crap but please stop (or at least slow down), you're making the rest of us seriously sick and we don't like it!

I think it's time we take this whole thing and talk to the therapist about it. After all, that's what she's there for and this really needs to be dealt with, but in the meantime, calm down! This food will be here tomorrow and the day after as well. You don't have to shove it in in one day just because it holds the title "cheat" day. It's okay... you're not going to be starved... I promise!

And just as a heads up, don't freak out, but "cheat day" is about to become a "cheat meal." It'll be much better if we pick a food or a meal and eat it slowly, savoring it, enjoying every bite instead of shoving all sorts of crud down, barely even being able to taste it just because we can!

So anyway, please, calm down. Because you're making us seriously sick and we're done with it!

Thank you.
Regular -Day Me

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Week Six - Thursday Check-In

Week Six weigh-in:
09/03/2015:     - 1.6 pounds
Total lost:           8.2 pounds
Current Weight: 221.8 pounds

A pound and a half lost... woohooo! I'm almost out of the 220's! Yeah, some of it could be from the stomach issues this week but I was also really good about tracking my calories so most of it is me.

So what did I accomplish this past week? Well, I walked the 5K Color Run and had a blast, saw the cardiologist, and, thanks to the stomach issues, headache, and a gazillion appointments, never got to the gym.

And speaking of the gym, with Labor day weekend coming up they're going to be closed the 7th, 8th and 9th for their annual maintenance shutdown, so I'm going to workout at home for those days. We have an elliptical now, plus all the DVDs that I own and if the weather would just cool down a little I can also hit a bike path or two.

Our challenge for September started out as a 30 minute workout every day but we decided to scale it back and start with 10 minutes for this week and then build up from there. I think that may work better for everyone involved.

These are my goals for the upcoming week...

1) count calories 6 days out of 7 and stay within the planned ones
2) do at least 10 minutes of exercise every day
3) plan for 2 days at the gym this week
4) eat a healthy lunch (I have a bad habit of grazing through lunch and grabbing whatever I can find but this time I bought everything I need to have a health and filling one!)
5) keep blogging, tweeting and Instagramming because it's definitely helping me stay on track!

I also want to finish the "Bean" dog commission I'm currently working on but that's not really a weight-loss thing.

What do you guys want to accomplish this week?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Headache

Is it one headache or is it many? I don't know. I guess since it comes and goes it should be many but I just call it "the headache" because even when it goes, it never stays away.

It likes to play with me, this headache. It likes to pick and choose the times when it escalates, especially enjoying interrupting me when I'm trying to get something done.

It likes to linger at the sides of my head, giggling and hiding when it thinks it can get away with it only to suddenly jump out and yell "boo" at me like a child playing hide and seek.

It likes to pound on my head like a sledge hammer, rhythmic and impossible to ignore, taking away my ability to think, to focus, to open my eyes beyond a squint.

It likes to dance around my head, along the temples, into the back by my neck, sometimes across my forehead, choosing its next step without warning.

It likes to interrupt special events, preplanned activities, my days and nights, not caring how much time and effort were dedicated to those events. Not caring how much I have to give up.

It likes to slow down, release its hold enough to make me think it's gone, only to swing back around to hit me again.

It likes to laugh at Tylenol and Advil and Excedrin and whatever over the counter stuff I try to throw at it.

At it's worst it likes to squeeze my head like a vice, pounding away at it, letting it's tentacles go only when I throw up enough to release the pressure.

It likes to follow the weather patterns, the barometric pressure, the random changes that happen every day, growing weaker and stronger depending on how it feels like growing.

It likes to make me think that I can control it, with diet, with exercise, with medications, with sleep... only to knock my legs out from under me just when I think I have it tamed.

It thinks it can control my life and there are so many days and nights when I think it can too.

It is me and I am it.

And that's just how it is.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts and Today's Short Workout

I haven't been able to get to the gym so far this week and I really miss it, but I'm in the middle of a bad IBS flare up and the gym, or long outdoor walks, are out of the question right now.

I did manage to do a 30 minute walk around (and inside) the house today so that's something and it turns out that Charles has put together the elliptical his parents gave us when they moved so I'll be able to use that on non-gym days.

One of the problems I'm dealing with (and have since I was young) is thinking in absolutes. Because I joined the gym my brain suddenly starts to insist that I can't workout at home no matter what equipment and how many DVDs I have. The same goes for a lot of things... I draw so I can't also be a photographer. I'm working with weights so I can't also do pilates. On my "cheat meal"day I can't work out because I'll be having a cheat meal and it would be wasted anyway and so on.

For some reason a large part of me believes that it HAS to be one thing or another instead of both. And of course I can do both... why the hell not, but there's some kind of switch in my brain that gets set off every time I do something new that insists I can't also do the old thing.

It's like a voice inside my head constantly repeating the same thing over and over again..."you joined the gym so that's what you do and if you can't make it to the gym then you don't do anything at all!" and that's just so wrong. Why should my fitness be based on one thing? In any case, I've been battling with myself and I am making a full plan so that the days I can not make it to the gym, be it because of time or illness (or whatever flare ups) or bad weather (I'm looking at you upcoming winter!) then I WILL workout at home. No excuses!!

One of my goals and official challenges for September is to exercise 30 minutes every day in one form or another. I actually ordered a new workout DVD that is just a long stretch and I'm really looking forward to doing it because I'm really bad at stretching even after workouts!

So today is the first day of the challenge. Come join me if you can!

September 1st Workout:

Basic Walk: 30 min, 1.17 distance, 2,855 steps, no idea on speed or anything but it wasn't very fast :/