Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I don't eat Halloween Candy, and it works - the 2013 list

I don't eat Halloween Candy....... and it works really, really well for me from a weight maintenance and feeling well perspective. This will be my 3rd year abstaining from mini-snickers and candy corn..... and I love it!
What works
1. I eat regular meals with low inflammatory foods.
2. I abstain from most processed sugar.
3. I feel full until it's time for the next meal.
4. I rarely think about eating out of emotion.
5. I don't have cravings for junk food.
6. I don't eat snacks between meals unless I'm very physically active.
7. I am fat adapted, so my body burns fat rather than stores it.
8. My insulin, glucose, and other hormones stay balanced out most days.
9. My clothes fit, day in day out, month in month out. Year in year out.
10. My weight stays within about a +3/-3 pound variance range over the last 20 months.

Rinse and repeat steps 1-10 for all food focused holidays. Halloween is the kick off of the food season.

What didn't work in Halloween's prior to 2011- this is the scary part!

1. I ate mini-candy bars several weeks before Halloween and counted points. Hey, I banked those points from a long hike several days ago... and I'll hike a long time every day to work it all off. I can out hike this candy!!!
2. I ate processed sugar every day, best to eat the good stuff and give the other stuff away.
3. I felt hungry all the time...counting the hours til the next meal.
4. I ate when I was sad, mad, tired, and happy.
5. I craved candy corn and chocolate. Bring all the mini- bars (because they are low points).
6. I snacked all day on processed foods... it fits into my point range, you know? There will be left over Halloween Candy in the break room. By the afternoon, I would have given up and eaten some.
7. I stored fat from steps 1-6.
8. My glucose, insulin and hormones were spiked more often.  I knew this but did not connect the dots so well while I was under the sugar influence.
9. I had a wide range of clothing sizes at all times in my closet.
10. My weight yo-yo'ed a lot 10-20- 30 pounds and I tried so hard to figure it out.

I rinsed and repeated steps 1-10 for 40 long years. Glad to put those Halloween Memories back in the memory box.

I know abstinence is not for everyone, but if it is your "what works" choice, then I raise a hot cup of coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and wish you a Happy and safe Halloween. You are not alone.  No scary stuff, just clear thinking.

Forget candy, we want to lick the pan that had the bacon, BEFORE you wash it...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crock-pot Chicken Curry Stew - Karen's favorite

The history: The first go-to cook book I bought when I was transitioning off Medifast to Paleo was Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook. If you are cooking for a family or friends- get this cookbook!
Sarah made her Slow Chicken Curry recipe at Anerobic Crossfit Laguna Nigel workshop on 2/6/2012, during the workshop itself. Sarah demonstrated how easy it was to put together a Paleo meal and be in a busy full time work and family environment. It doesn't take much extra time to make these meals.(bonus to you if you can spot me in the group photo at Laguna Crossfit)

I adapted Sarah's recipe a lot, so here's my version below. Get that cookbook! Go to an Everyday Paleo workshop when/if there is one near you.

My adaptations were  removing the pepper,  the carrots, adding sea salt at the end instead of during cooking, using light coconut milk (all I can find at Trader Joe's) and using organic chicken stock from Costco. I also pour the finished stew over sauteed cabbage, broccoli slaw, or other vegetable "noodle" vegetables. Freezes well.

The gateway meal:
I've gotten more people talking about Paleo at lunch break by microwaving this meal and walking around the cube farm. A great curry smell and warm and filling. "Sure, you can borrow my cookbook, you can get one at the bookstore.. One day soon, we'll have a Paleo Pot luck....."

Special Note: Karen's 2 cents
No, I don't have the calorie count, points value or anything else...  I've gotten past the calories in, calories out. Calories matter a little bit, but I don't sweat it much. Yes, I understand that you are tracking your macros... Eyeball it if you are tracking or use your ingredients in My Fitness Pal. I totally understand... I'm a WW and Medifast Alumni. It's an evolution...

Crock-pot Chicken Curry Stew- Karen's Favorite

6-7  hours before you are ready to eat:
2 or 2.5 pounds of organic chicken thighs (2 sections of a 3 section package- Costco)
1 TBS paprika
2 TBS curry powder
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 large or 2 small white onions
5-6 celery stalks diced.
1 cup Light Coconut Milk (Trader Joe's), or 1 cup full fat coconut milk if you can find it without additives.
1 cup Organic Chicken Stock from Costco, make your own if you have the time.
1/2 cup water
Sea Salt to season ( I use pink Himalayan) 

 1 hour or less, Before you are ready to eat:
Saute shredded cabbage, broccoli slaw (both at Trader Joe's) or Sweet Kale Salad- 7 shredded super foods.. green stuff only (throw the chemical dressing in the trash, set the cranberries (added sugar, ugh!) and pumpkin seeds aside.) with coconut oil in a frying pan. This will be your "noodle" base.

  1. Rinse the chicken thighs and place in the crock-pot
  2. Mix the spices together and sprinkle on the chicken
  3. Start tossing in all the veggies (except the noodle base) into the crock-pot.
  4. Add some salt, to your liking.  I often cook without it and salt the dish later.
  5. Mix the chicken stock, water and light coconut milk together, then pour into the crock pot.
  6. Put the lid on, place on low, and cook for 6 hours.
  7. Before the chicken is done, saute the "noodle" substitute and place into glass bowls.
  8. Pull the veggies and chicken out and portion onto glass bowls, on top of the "noodles"
  9. De-fat the broth, then pour the liquid  equally over the portions.
  10. Season with salt now, to taste. Also, cilantro and/or lime works well in this dish, if you have it.
  11. Place lids on the bowls and freeze the other portions. Makes 4-5 or even 6, depending.
This meal is one I often make on a Sunday afternoon. By the time mid-week is here, I'm so glad I put the time in the weekend before. I pre-make spice ziplocks with the curry mixture,  so I can put this meal together fast for several weekends over a month.

What works now:
1. Batch cooking
2. Crock pot cooking
3. Taking my lunch to work
4. Eating real food, no sugar, no grains

What did not work before:
1. Buying low fat, low calorie 5/$10 meals and expecting to loose weight
2.  Microwaving a processed meal "product". I wouldn't call it food so much.
3. Eating the processed food "products" from steps 1 & 2.
4. Eating lots of added sugar, and grains.

Let me know if you try this recipe or go to an Everyday Paleo workshop. Both have changed my life!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nice to want to be in photos again- being present in weight maintenance

10/20/2013 Tide pools, favorite place
I take a lot of photos. It's just nice to want to BE in photos finally. I went to try to find a similar before photo and could not, because I spent a lot of time hiding from the camera. The photos are there in others collections, but in my own collection, I deleted the "big pictures" in a quick click. Denial mile.

Now I ask for my photo to be taken. Glad to be in a better place and be present.

What works
1. Being photographed

What didn't work
1. Deleting photos and thinking I could hide.

It's so worth the work. No processed sugar, no grains, lots of life in living.  To be present in life.  Onward.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Big plates of real food, the summer shift away from food tracking in long term weight maintenance

One great discovery from earlier this year was a shift away from food tracking. I used food tracking from the weight loss months through the first year of weight maintenance. In May of 2013, I did the low-carb challenge and got nuts out of my diet. That marked the shift of not tracking my food.

I started feeling full and eating 3 meals a day. It took some time to adjust to not eating 4-5 times a day, but eventually, the larger, very, very filling meals meant no or very little hunger between meals. I still get hungry, but it's a normal feeling just before meals OR if I've been very physically active.

Occasionally, my emotional eating brain will emerge and give me the wrong signals. I've trained myself to watch for that, and take action. 

I didn't know if I could really eat medium to large meals or not when I got to weight maintenance. I had it in my mind that I might  not be able to do this, and not track calories or log food.

For now, eating within my food template gives me a full, energizing meal and stable weight.

I can see the benefits of food tracking, but it's nice to be off the portion control and the daily food tracking routine.

The real break though came when I eliminated nuts and kept my carb range between 50-90 grams on most days. (Long hiking days mean I can go back to >100 grams of carbs- but we're not talking junk food here, just a little more fruit. Small slices of small portions of in-season apples, peaches, pears, oranges.

I typically only have fruit at dinner, and usually berries most evenings. That's been working well, and I'm aware that not everyone who reaches long term maintenance can have fruit or 85% chocolate, so I thank my lucky stars that I can have both.

I've run into people who are concerned about portion sizes. It's amazing to me, since upping the portion sizes of the right foods, I would be too full. Also, if I  even think about eating high carb, processed junk food, it just doesn't sound good at all! because I'm so full of the nutrient dense food. Never, ever did I think this would happen.

It took me a long time food and mind wise to get to this place. It was worth getting here, though. I feel great and full. Finally. WOW! Just wow. I think being worried about higher fat (even the right kind of fat) is something that I've put behind me. Especially with my latest blood work.

I can't help but think that getting my food template dialed in has helped with the emotional eating, too.  There has to be a connection. I think food tracking has it's place, it's just fun to try and to have found this success, it's almost like an early holiday gift to myself. 

Here's what is working now:
1. Tracking weight but not weighing, measuring, or tracking food on My Fitness Pal.
2. Eating a clean low-inflammatory, lower carb 50-90 grams, Paleo template.
3. Eating as much portion size as I want, and trusting my hunger signals.
4. Eating 3 meals a day.
5. Knowing that I can and will go back to tracking, if needed, to trouble shoot any problems.

Here's what did not work in the past:
1. Not weighing in AND not tracking my food. Refusing to connect those dots.
2. Not looking at my carb range at ALL.
3. Not eating enough of the right foods for my body.
4. Eating moderate portions of added-sugar and junk foods many times a day.
5. Not trying different problem solving techniques and moving on to the next tools fast enough.

PS- a big thanks to Dan French, Amy Kubal, RD, and Corbin Thomas for hosting the low carb challenge. And Jimmy Moore's Cholesterol Clarity book so I could finally not worry about my total cholesterol levels. Looking at Dietician Cassie's tweets of PFC- protein, fats, carbohydrates was in influencing, as well. The convergence of these events coming together helped me shift to a better place. That month in May 2013 was probably the best "shift" I've had all year on the food and weight maintenance front. Here's a big cup of coffee to salute to you all.
Just coffee, no bagels! Oceanside Harbor.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stopping stress and emotional eating quickly- one example in long term weight maintenance

My off paleo foods in the container, all that's left of my "snacks"
I had one very long, stressful week in September. anytime I lose a family member or friend, I know I'm at risk for emotional eating. That eating can and will lead to a lapse in my food sobriety. In the past, a lapse can become a relapse, and then full out emotional/mini-binge eating and  many weeks and months long foggy brain.  

 I lived the emotional eating life for 40 years and promised myself for the next 40 years,  I'd develop effective coping skills and re-train my brain, habits, and food so that I could also be in long term maintenance.

Here's what happened: Stressful week. I was exhausted and asked to take Friday off work. I needed sleep, time to process, and time to be with friends. Early in the week, as hard as it was, I put a plan into place to take care of myself. I know I'm prone to emotionally eat when someone dies. I also know and have come to accept that I cannot schedule or bargain with the grim reaper.

I CAN have control:
1. My food
2. How I act on my feelings

Here was my basic plan that worked:
  1. Good self-care- promised to myself. Check. 
  2. Scheduled time to sleep. Check.
  3. Touched base with Jr. Family member to make sure we had an open dialog about weeks events. Check.
  4. Contacted person early in the week that I knew I could talk to, if needed, and who would call me on my own stuff. Check
  5. Feeling my feelings, grieving when needed, prayer occasionally. Check.
  6.  Continued to shop, cook, eat my food template all week. Check.  
So, Thursday night a wave of grief hits me like a ton of bricks. Sadness... it's about 7-8 pm, I open the snack pantry and look at the bin that says "The answer is not in here" and I see something in my minds eye... little points of light like fireworks! My slippery slope mind starts to think ...
1. I could have MORE chocolate.
2. I could open up a left over Medifast product, even though I'm dairy/soy free, it won't trigger...
3. I could open up the freezer and look for something....
4. Hmmm, the garage may still hold some food I could eat... NO IT DOES NOT! WHAT THE...

Excellent! The spell was broken in about 60 seconds.

Insert the sound of screeching breaks, right here. I stopped myself in my tracks. My emotional eating had NEVER presented itself as lights or fireworks before. The "disease" had mutated and was messing with my head in a new form, hoping to get the old brain connections firing again. I asked myself what I needed: Answer- sleep. I walked upstairs and got ready for bed.

I thanked my lucky stars for clarity and being tough not moderate. Moderation eating would have teamed up with slippery slope thinking and I would have started to emotionally eat. Binge avoided. I showed the binge thoughts the door and locked it. 

Part of the spell breaking had to do with the system I set up for myself: What worked.
1. Position in the kitchen, standing by the snack pantry after a full on template meal = trouble.
2. Speed of calling myself on slippery slope thinking and recognizing a new tactic, dreamed up by my brain.
3. Not having my top binge foods anywhere near- Being, tough NOT moderate.
4. Knowing that I  would HAVE to check back in with the person who I contacted earlier in the week.
5. Having eaten from a clean food template (non trigger foods/low inflammatory-read Paleo) all day, = no physical hunger at all.

Why what worked is so important to me:
1. I could show up and be present in my own life.
2. I could show up and be present in my family and be there for Jr. Family Member.
2.5 I could model effective life skills for Jr. Family member (this is pure gold!)
3. I could show up and be present for my friend and her family and our mutual friends.
4. I could maintain my weight, physical, and emotional health.
5. I've set the stage and practiced for what will likely be a long, long life, with sad losses without using a food/substance to cope.

What didn't work in the past
 1. Eating to avoid feelings
2. Not modeling effective behaviors for my kid.
3. Not being able to be there for others, since I was not there for myself Or being there for others first and not myself.
4. Not maintaining my weight, physical, or emotional health to the best of my ability.
5. Using sugar and wheat to try to sooth emotions.

The answer is not in a sweet food, a wheat food, but my answers did start with food.  I know that my slippery slope thinking can be in remission or halted as soon as I recognize what is going on. Speed and problem solving skills count. Never easy, but easier than using food to soothe. I'm worth it, you are worth it, we are worth that work.

Friday, October 4, 2013

20 months of Weight Maintenance - hanging in there when life gets tough

Highest Weight 187.4
Current Weight: 115.4
Maintenance Range 113-117
Height 5'1"
Age 47
Months in weight maintenance 20
Months post menopause: 3 months
Years it took to reach long term maintenance: 40 years

What's working this month
1. Sticking to a pretty clean Paleo template, low inflammatory foods.
2. Eating large plates of food, no measuring or food tracking and feeling full. LOVE this!
3. Managing stress by sleeping well, walking a lot and feeling grief as needed
4.  Weighing in daily and lessons learned from the data.

1-2 Absolutely loving the big plates of food, feeling full, and my weight and thoughts staying steady. Eating clean in my food template has HUGE advantages.

 3. The last 6 weeks have been super stressful. There's no way around this stuff. Due to the personal nature of the details, I can't divulge much except that I did loose a family friend in early September 2013. Huge case of "The Sads"  this month. Future blog post around navigating a binge urge that I got stopped quick. That's the good part. The better navigation of feelings.  

4. I developed a few new theories around the high stress AND other things like the sleeping temperature at night and my weight. I can see some trends around my weight going up slightly when it's cold at night. When it's warm sleeping at night, my weight goes down slightly. I'll discuss more in future blog posts.

What didn't work in the past
1. Eating junk food in moderation. Didn't work. EVER.
2. Eating large plates of low fat food (salads) without a good balance of natural fat (avocados, olive oil, coconut, and animal fat), and being afraid of FAT without realizing that eating low fat was making my body.... wait for it..... FAT.
3. Stuffing my feelings with junk food and numbing out.
4. Not taking weight data and taking effective corrective action until 10-20 pounds or more were gained.

Photo shoot outtake

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wedsday Links- good reading about weight maintenance and other topics

 Wednesday Links:

I was reading my feedly line up yesterday and came across Lisa's recent blog post at 110 Pounds and Counting about addressing a small weight gain from the summer. Here's the article.

Lisa has maintained her 110 pound weight loss  for 4-5 years.  Reversing a trend is a key trait in weight maintenance.  There are diet style differences between many maintainers, however key actions such as looking back, honesty, going back to weight loss tools, looking at root causes are all things that long time maintainers have in common. Bravo to Lisa for course correcting quickly.

Great example. We are stronger together.  So important to take the time to look back and evaluate life, in-puts to the process, out-puts to the process, and solutions. I have more blog posts in my head about this topic and some examples of my own.

Yoni Freedhoff's demonstration of how much sugar is really in Nutella.   A good reminder and another reason why I do not do moderation.  No wonder I stayed stuck. Sugar effects both my weight and my thinking.

Infographic on how Barbie in real life scale would have to walk on all fours! Thank you Amy Kubal.

And a blog post from Dr. Sharma about the article that shows why weight maintenance rather than weight gain has better long term outcomes.  My own experience: I still feel better maintaining at a lower, normal weight. I remember maintaining in the 150's, 170's, and even 180's and while I might have reduced my health risks- I was not putting life into living.  It is and was worth the effort in weight loss for me.

Mid-week cooking tip: If you wear head phones and leave them in front of you while sauteing vegetables, they may get too hot!  The volume control and on and off may stop working. Sigh. Back to the Mac store. Good reminder to tie back long hair, long sleeves, clothing, including electronics.