Sunday, September 29, 2013

National Coffee Day 2013

Here's a look back to the last year in coffee in photos over the last 2012-2013 year. I love drinking black coffee. Occasionally, I'll put in a little coconut milk.

 I'm dedicating this post to a dear friend that passed away earlier this month. There are not many people who will brew you a to go cup of coffee if you've left yours at home during the morning commute. We'll miss you LR. Thank you for everything. Cheers!

Christmas 2012

Portola Coffee Lab- Orange County

Artsy Coffee

Remembering my departed family member

Coffee on an Alaskan Cruise

Pannikin Coffee in La Jolla. Celebrating health

Classic Pannikin Coffee photo

Pannikin Coffee, Leucadia 101, Pacific Coast Hwy

The smell of the coffee is awesome

Walking at La Jolla Shores to keep stress in check

Back to the Pannikn in La Jolla

Yes please! Carlsbad, CA

Coffee & Yachts near the Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Home brewed coffee on the beach

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Egg Wrap - a great way to use up extra vegetables

Ah! It's the weekend and I've got more time to batch saute vegetables. YES!  Not only do I get to use food that I purchased, the low inflammatory ingredients will fuel me for what ever weekend activity that I have planned.


Egg wrap:
1. Large pan for egg wrap.
2. Fat of your choice- coconut oil or Kerry Gold
3. 3-4 eggs. I use 1 egg and 3 egg whites (post thyroid, not fat phobic!)
4. Pinch of Pink sea salt- to taste
5.  Heat oil in large pan
6. Scramble eggs in a bowl and pour into pan
7. Move the large pan around the burner and tilt until eggs are set and flip the whole thing over using a spatula. 5-6 min or until set.
8. Finish cooking the top side 1-2 min.
9. Move to a plate and set aside.

Vegetable Saute
1. Set up as many deeper frying pans with as many vegetables you want to use.
2. Use fat of your choice in each pan (avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee)
3. Season with pink sea salt or garlic sea salt to your liking.(omit if salt sensitive)
3. Place veggies in pan and stir until done to your likeness.

 Putting it all together:

1. Reheat the egg wrap
2. Add the sauteed veggies 

3. Chop and add any avocado, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole or non heat items at this step.
4. Brew coffee (optional, but highly recommended!)
5. Bring pink sea salt or garlic sea salt for last minute seasoning (omit if you are salt sensitive)
6. Grab a fork or knife.
7. Wrap up burrito style.

Notes: I usually use a fork and knife to eat
If I'm really lucky, I can pick this egg wrap up and eat it burrito style.

What works:
1.  Another great weight maintenance breakfast and fuel to last all morning long.
2. Awesome way to allow your breakfast family members customize their breakfast
3. Left over vegetables for quick reheating over the next 1-2 days
4. Save family $$ by using up food purchased
5. Great time and energy to spend cooking, playing,with the family and cleaning up the house.

What did not work:
1. Using a toaster to heat up Van's Whole Wheat Toaster waffles and topping with binge food while running out of energy mid morning.
2. Family members laying around watching Capt'n Crunch Commercials on Saturday morning TV.
3. Finding perfectly good vegetables gone bad in my refrigerator at the end of the week and microwaving processed foods over the next few days.
4. Money savings on purchased foods.
5. Sitting rather than active weekends. Whole family is more likely to be up and active.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What weighing in daily looks like in weight maintenance my graphs

I use a weight maintenance tool described in the book Refuse to Regain by Barbara Berkeley, MD.
I weigh in daily.

I know a lot of people "throw away the scale". That's cool. I get it . Totally. Long term weight maintenance is a complex road.  Building my own weight maintenance template has been key this time around.

I weigh in daily during weight maintenance. Daily weighing is strictly a data gathering system for me. I use the  data as a Quality Control tool. No shame, no blame. Cold hard data for my science brain.

What works:
1. Look for trends and shifts overall.
2. Look for foods that may be inflammatory (2 pound gain in 1 day)
3. As a way to objectively problem solve.
4. As one way to evaluate effectiveness.
5. As a way to save money for using the same size clothing month-in- month out.

Now to be fair, the inputs to the process- food types, emotional/binge eating remission, travel, death in the family and death of close friends, weight training, full time work, unplanned gluten exposure, chosen sugar exposure are highly variable and complex. Sometimes I may make the wrong decision about what to try next. I may conclude incorrectly cause and effect. That's okay, because I always re-evaluate.

I made it okay to make mistakes, make the wrong decisions, but I decide and move on. Right or wrong- the cause of weight regain will be told. Left for me to problem solve.  Which I know I can do.

Overall, I keep an open mind, positive attitude, and keep trying what works. It's an experiment. I don't have all the answers. But many times I can guess. It's made all the difference. Long term maintenance. Yeah!

What did not work:
1. Not looking at root causes for higher shifts in other weight maintenance attempts. Overeat, repent, repeat. ( eating Skinny Cow Ice cream and mini-Snickers bars caused the scale to go up, I'm not strong enough, I'll start my diet on Monday- not so effective.  Failure to connect the dots)
2. Not correlating wheat/grain  and sugars with weight gain, acne, high hs-CRP values
3. Blaming myself for "failing" at weight maintenance.Not looking at my process inputs/outputs
4. Stopping weighing in when the scale went higher and higher.
5. Spending $$ buying lots of different sizes  of clothing to accommodate the yo-yo dieting and weight gains/losses.

I'm enough. Strong enough. I needed to add the effectiveness check and good problem solving skills to the mix. Those are the basic skills I tap into for the long haul. Work them every day. That and an ability to be honest and make decisions. 

And tomorrow I will weigh in gain. One top priority. Life is good. Life is good  because I customized my own template in long term weight maintenance.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Being afraid of.... Avocados and other natural fats for weight maintenance

Being an overweight kid and now adult (1970's then on and off until mid 2011), I started my weight maintenance transition completely terrified of switching up from a low calorie, low fat diet to a Paleo/Primal template that had....  FAT!

The slow transition
During weight loss on Medifast in 2011, I came to enjoy the olive oil I was adding on my salads. It tasted great, but there was not much of it. I knew that fat was essential for fat soluble vitamins. The next step was post transition to the first 6 months of weight maintenance.

On one hand: There was going to be..... fat! And a decent amount of it. I would go slowly, I would ease into it. I knew a person in real life who went suddenly from a low calorie, low fat diet to a pizza binge to the ER and then surgery for gallbladder removal. Whoa! I still have my gallbladder and I like it.

On the other hand: I went to an Everyday Paleo lecture where Sarah Fragoso, Jason Seib, and a room of about 75 people just like me, scientists, teachers, neighbors, mom's with kids, for example, were eating LOTS of the right kinds of fat and those on the food template the longest..... were not overweight.  

 What works now (* note I'm dairy free & nut free)
1. Coconut oil: High heat- I scramble/fry eggs every morning and veggies, too. Coconut oil is great!
2. Avocado Oil: High heat- I use Avocado Oil to saute vegetables and as a base for salad dressings
3. Olive Oil:  No heat- I use this as a base for salad dressing, with balsamic dressing.
4. Avocados: I eat about 2/3 of a large Costco avocado most days, or one whole small avocado. If I run out of ripe avocados, it's sad day!
5. Bison or grass-fed beef fat:  I'll use the left over fat (from grass-fed meat only) to saute kale or broccoli slaw.
6.  Kerry Gold butter and full fat yogurt- I keep both on hand for Jr. Family Member

This was breakfast 9/20/2013

The best things about using real fat to cook:
1. Food tastes..... wait for it.... GOOD!!
2. I feel sated, meaning I can trust my "I'm hungry" or "I'm full" signals more often. The off/on switch works more normally.
3. My lipid, blood work, and inflammation markers have never been better. See my recent post.
4. I do not get body fat from eating the right kinds of fat... I get leaner.
5. I can go longer between meals with the time right before meals leading to a normal sort of hungry.

 What didn't work: (note- all these fake fat foods are now removed from my house.  If a guest brings low fat, non-food products ,the items go in the trash that night. I advise "I don't eat these things so take them with you.)

There is no natural fat in these products (or turkeys in this box!)
1. Low fat Margarine Substitute: During my overweight days I thought I was doing the "heart healthy thing" by eating I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and  Brummel and Brown margarine. (it's made with yogurt!).  It has a heart healthy symbol, no cholesterol!,and it's low fat and WW points. I'm a scientist and it didn't even phase me that when you melt this stuff it's water and a weird consistency!  If I stir it, I can still make low-fat brownies.

2. Low fat yogurt regular and frozen: This never filled me up. I couldn't understand why I wanted to eat more. No "off "button. Frozen yogurt was a delivery vehicle for binge-y, sugary topping. Carb city. But low fat. And the "on" button was stuck.

3.  High fat, high inflammatory Canola Oil:  I used this stuff to make "heart healthy" muffins.  And I'd eat a lot of muffins. But it was okay, because it's low in saturated fat! My hs-CRP was 6.8!!!  Glad I survived the canola days.

4. Avocados : They are so good, and I was so afraid avocados were ONLY for skinny people. Much too high in WW points I was saving my points for Skinny Cow ice cream. Oh the irony!

5. Ground turkey only:  I used to spend more money to buy extra lean turkey. I would eat lots ground turkey with a truck load of McCormick packaged Taco Mix and Chili  Packets. There's no way I'd touch beef with a 10 foot pole. 

Thank goodness I got through the "low fat" or "no fat" phobia. Life and food is much better. My heart is much happier in body and soul! My brain, since feeding it with foods that it requires, is more clear.

Photo bombing cat- Sunday Funnies!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blood work results 2013- eating low inflammatory for weight maintenance and overall health

 Each year, my employer offers a blood draw. If I participate, don't smoke, either loose 1 BMI point OR maintain in a normal BMI OR have a waist <35 inches (40 for men) OR enroll in a weight loss life coach, I get a health insurance discount. 

$30 per month is a lot as a single head of household. The medical bills that were going to accumulate due to chronic diseases from obesity and what likely would have been diabetes, not to mention cardiac problems or stroke would have seriously impacted my family finances.

 Let's see, I can find effective ways to loose weight AND keep it off for the long term OR I can pay $30 more a month, with many more $25.00 medical co-pays, chronic and/or acute disease. Not to mention paying for lots of clothing due to yo-yo dieting. What should I do?

That's why the Refuse to Regain book (Barbara Berkeley, MD) made so much sense. I lost weight, but weight maintenance required a whole other set of strategies.  Not just weight maintenance, but overall good health.  Not just physical health, but also better financial health.

Here's what a low inflammatory, no grains, very little processed sugar, diary free bio-markers looks on an annual blood draw.
Key to the columns: Left to right
2013 - Weight Maintenance fairly clean Paleo food template, no nuts
2012- Weight Maintenance Paleo food template with nuts and occasional Medifast snacks
2011- Medifast, still in weight loss at 137 pounds
2010- Standard American Diet, 187 pounds,

If you are approaching weight maintenance or are struggling- get the Refuse to Regain book, look into a low inflammatory diet. My health, finances, and family is forever changed in a good way. Did I mention I feel 27 years old instead of 47?  Win-Win-Win = total awesomeness

What works for me
1. Optimizing my food template, no wheat, little processed sugar.

What did not work for me:
1. Eating a Standard American Diet with processed food and expecting to be healthy.

Wow!!  The thing I'm most proud of is my hs-CRP dropping from 6.8 to 0.4.  With a stable weight and low inflammation and good glucose and blood pressure control- It's clear to me I've optimized my biomarkers for now.

All the better to put life into living and spend time engaged in my career, family, and hobbies. This will eventually allow me to give back to my community.  Awesomeness!

July 2013

2006, not even my highest weight

Yes, please! Must have caffeine!

Egret strolling on the beach, funny to watch

Walking to the car and I get to see great coastal gardens

Friday, September 13, 2013

Benefits of eating- 3 meals a day vs snacking

One of my unexpected benefits in long term weight maintenance was becoming a fat burner rather than a fat storing person. Once I became fat adapted ( read more at Mark's Daily Apple).

Boo!  No longer afraid of avocados
I was eating 5-6 meals per day, as my weight loss plan had recommended and as many books recommend. Small meals, through out the day, low inflammatory food template.

In May 2013, during the low carb challenge, I decided to test out 3 meals a day. Elimination challenges are great times to get back to basics, baseline and then spend the next few months trying different experiments.

The change has worked well for me. I'm not a huge fan of intermittent fasting for myself, but 3 meals a day is far from that. 

I did have to adapt to eating more of my foods into each meal, then go 5-6 between the 3 meals. Eating more took some practice, but at the end of 2-3 weeks, the habit was in high gear. It's working so well I never went back to between meal snacks.
I photographed a typical weekend day.( Weekdays look different)

 Breakfast: 1 egg, 3 egg whites (post thyroid disease,not fat phobia!), salsa, asparagus, avocado, and tomatoes.  I used coconut oil to saute the eggs and avocado. Garlic Sea Salt to season.

Lunch was broccoli slaw sauteed in avocado oil, avocados, a grass fed pre-made burger, and a side of cucumbers. I was still hungry, so I had one hard boiled egg white, 3 mini bell peppers and some balsamic vinegar for dipping the peppers.

 Dinner: Mixed green lettuce, organic garlic chicken thighs, chopped yellow bell peppers and green onions, sliced tomatoes, and avocado oil dressing, with 3 big spoons of homemade guacamole (Jr. Family members secret recipe).

Also mixed fresh berries and 4 squares of Trader Joe's chocolate.

Lots of water and 3-4 cups of coffee (not pictured). I felt full and only normal hungry right before meals. I didn't have any emotional or binge food thoughts. I also had a lot of energy and slept well that night.

Here's what is working for me:
1. Eating 3 larger meals a day and going 5-6 hours in between
2. Prepping and re-heating, and cleaning up post  food prep only 3 times a day.
3.  Extra time not hauling smaller sized snacks around town for errands
4. Eating a 4th meal (snack) if I've been super active or hit 10,000 steps before 3pm.
4.5 Keeping a packet of beef jerky around for unexpected >6 hour delays.
5. Eating a pretty clean paleo template during the 3 meals.
6. Easier fasting in the AM for blood draws.

Here's what did not work for me in the past:
1. Eating every 3-4 hours, but eating high carb, but low WW points! Snack foods. 100 calorie packs, maybe multiple 100 calorie packs.

2. Having to stop to eat every 3 hours, not as convenient.

3. Hauling my cooler with cold packs worked, but it was more time consuming if I was running errands for 2-3 hours. Nicer to just have had my meal and run on my own fat burning body.

4.  Eating Cliff bars for snacks to fuel during hikes or half marathon training. Hello sugar, carbs and body fat storage. This explains major muffin top and in ability to loose much weight when I was walking sooooo many miles.

5. Eating nuts for snacks messed up my emotional/binge eating slightly. It was lower level, but it was there and did effect me.

6. Wow- I would bee woozy, shaky, and truly light headed when going for fasting blood draws. I would then eat a carb filled breakfast and set myself up to store fat the rest of the day. I don't miss this one bit. 

That's the scoop. I've had success doing both 5-6 meals and 3, but for now 3 larger meals a day is the routine. I'll keep that habit.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Unplanned break this week- back soon!

Hello all!  I've needed to take an unplanned blogging break, but I plan to be back at it soon.

Yes, I'm finding ways to de-stress and sticking to my food template. Yes, I've been weighing in daily.
Yes, having practiced good habits mean that I can go into autopilot OR to plan B in a short amount of time.

The avocados have been awesome. 

Taking funny pictures of the cats
Super Cat Sleeps and Stretches

This cat says "neener-neener" while trying to chew her way to the rabbits in the side yard

Coffee, flowers, my camera, and the Panikin Coffee shop, La Jolla, CA

What works during unplanned stressful weeks:
1. Sticking to a food template keeps me feeling my feelings and not eating them.
1.5 Eating the batch cooked food from the freezer to the microwave.
2. Spending time with the kitties and observing their cat ways
3. Taking short breaks to walk and sleep and take photos.

What did not work in the past
1. Eating sweet and junk food to try to numb out.
1.5 Eating fast food or junk food because there was "no time" and "I deserved that cookie"
2 Not taking time to observe the little things close to home.
3. Not walking and not sleeping or putting myself first.

This crap-tastic week is almost over. Yay. And onward!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why I don't eat gluten free snacks and junk food, even though I'm gluten free in weight maintenance

(Link)There was a GREAT article about gluten-free products over at Mark's Daily Apple (MDA)this week:

Two parts of the article that jumped out at me 

1. From Mark's Daily Apple:
"Of course, there is an important difference that distinguishes gluten-free from other faddish, market-driven diets: you don’t actually need gluten-free products to go gluten-free."

Karen's notes:  This is so true for me. To maintain a long term, large (70+ pounds) weight loss,  I eat protein, veggies, some berries or in season fruits and fats like avocados, coconut oil,  olive oil, and some avocado oil.   If I do have a snack, I'll have some 85% chocolate (most days after dinner) or some Nori- Sea Snax- salted seaweed sheets (popcorn substitute at the movies). 

If I ate gluten-free junk food, I' would be cutting out nutrient dense real food. And, grocery bills would be higher.  I did use a short term tool to transition with some gluten free process products from my weight loss days to transition from the Take Shape for Life program to a Paleo template. I found it helpful to wean myself off over a 6-8 week time frame early in weight maintenance. Once I did the Whole30 in Jan 2013, I eliminated almost all of my "snack" foods.

typical Costco and Trader Joes mix

 From Mark's Daily Apple:

2.  Checking with your medical professional and getting testing that may or may not work :
From MDA
 "As if giving up bread, pasta, and cake for more animals and plants is a dangerous undertaking that requires professional assistance. As if removing gluten and feeling loads better only to feel terrible upon a chance reintroduction is an unreliable way to determine if you should go gluten-free."

Karen's notes:  
Once I realized that gluten intolerance (along with processed sugar) was one key root cause of my emotional eating, acne, migraines, bloating, abdominal pain, gas and a contributor to my 70+ pounds of obesity.... I did not really need to confirm it with my doctor or get any lab tests. And, I work as a laboratory professional. My life's profession is lab testing. I am a self proclaimed lab geek. I've had no lab testing done for ceilac  markers.   I do not need a lab test, nor would my doctor order one.  I'm sick when I eat gluten, I'm well when I do not.

I did not realize how absolutely bad I was feeling with weight, pain, and the emotional toll until I was gluten free for 8-10 weeks. The brain fog lifted and the path was super clear. Pain is a huge motivator as are my normal sized clothes, my low inflammatory hs-CRP bio markers and lower blood pressure.

You can see the difference in the photos below. In the photo on the left I was eating Van's whole grain toaster waffles, cool whip, pasta, pizza, Lean Pockets, and Weight Watcher's frozen meals and gaining weight.  On the right side photos, I'm eating from a Paleo template, walking 10,000 steps+ per day, sleeping well, and  maintaining a 70 pound weigh loss and feeling 27 rather than 47. 

Here's what worked for me:
1. Getting off gluten for 8-10 weeks
2.  Transitioning to a Paleo/ primal template using some gluten free processed foods a SHORT amount of time
3.Grocery shopping for protein, veggies, berries, in season fruits, natural oils and spices
4. Connecting the dots, eliminating brain fog, problem solving and eliminating foods that made me feel sick and gave me pain.

Here's what did not work for me in the past:
1. Falling for the heart healthy gluten containing food claims. Van's toaster waffles did not keep me heart healthy or feeling well.
2. Not changing up my diet and eating whole, real foods. Just the basics.
3. Grocery shopping the 5 frozen Weight Watcher's meals for $10. I thought I was saving money and going to get to weight maintenance heaven. I never made that trip.
4. Never evaluating the effectiveness of my actions, foods, plans. Being in pain, being bloated, and never making the food connection.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

19 month weight maintenance check-in, getting easier overall

19 months weight maintenance. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. Slight shift lower.

Highest Weight: 187.4
Current Weight: 115
Goal Weight Range: 113-117
Height: 5'1"
Age 47
Months in weight maintenance: 19 months
Menopause: Yes....

Each month that I've gone since I eliminated nuts, I feel better and better. I've been eating pretty big plates of food 3X per day. This is probably the most I've ever eaten at meals and felt satisfied afterwards.  Very few urges to eat emotionally, even when stressed. Sleep is pretty good, although the hot weather is making it tough (no air conditioning here)

This is the absolute longest in my life I've ever not gained 5-10 pounds and/or struggled to maintain.
Glad I hit a cruising altitude, but I know that things can change up without warning. So I continue, Onward. It is not easy, but it is getting easier right now.

What is working:
1. Real whole foods, no grain, no processed sugar, low inflammatory food template.
2. Exclusion of nuts even for coating protein and sauces (pesto).
3. Using the pedometer to get to 10,000 steps + most days. Taking lots of photos.
4. Weighing in every day and recording my weight at My Fitness Pal. Metrics, graphs, YES!
5. Eating 3 meals a day, most days.
6. Not tracking my food, but eating LOTS of good, in season food. Full most of the time.
7. Keeping what works: I have no plans for intuitive eating EVER. Really... I know better from past attempts.  Because my brain still can send faulty signals. Not my fault but my responsibility to manage the whole process. That's okay. I accept it and I move onward.
September 3, 2013
Aug 2009

 What did not work in the past:
1. Eating grains, processed sugar, eating in moderation and eating high inflammatory foods.
2.  Eating nuts and not connecting the dots to the 2 pound overnight weight gains. Elimination of a food can be tricky.
3. Not walking at lunch time.
4. Avoiding the scale. Major ostrich move for me. Metrics, I need them.
5. Eating 5-6 meals a day while eating processed foods. (note: I did okay during weight loss eating 5-6 times a day)
6. Not connecting the Standard American Diet with the broken "I'm full signals" and being sooooo afraid of higher fat natural foods like avocados, olive oil, and some coconut oil.
7. I did not (or could not) honestly evaluate what eating style was most effective. 

I feel so much better now!

Okay, current photos...

Super awesome meditation gardens, Swami's, Encintias, CA

Lamb chops, mixed veggies. Cooking with lamb is new for me
Awww, a large rabbit eating some verbena

I found an owl box, the rabbit should hurry