Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Epic Fail

The Big Diet was an awesome success. The week after The Big Diet was an epic fail. As I'd mentioned, we got hideously carried away and bought/made WAY more treats than we could possibly eat during our three hour splurge. The idea was that when we were finished eating, we'd freeze what we could and either give away or throw away the rest. Well - that's not what happened.

We had 3/4 of a cake left, a HUGE pile of macaroni, three candy bars, two bottles of soda, a bag of chips - I'm fairly sure there was more. And we ate it. All of it. We nibbled the cake till it was gone. We ate chips and ice cream and candy and soda while we watched Star Trek in the evening. I even cooked more pasta and ate lots of cereal because by day 3 I'd give up. I convinced myself that since my sister and her family were coming to town and I'd have less control over the menu (though they eat very healthily) and we were celebrating my nephew's birthday (with cake), I might as well just eat whatever I wanted all week, and start over on Tuesday.

BIG mistake. I feel awful. I'm bloated and sleepy and cranky and have gained back at least 3 of the 9.5 lbs I worked so hard to lose. My skin is raw and angry again and my tummy hurts a lot. So, today, I'm back to the diet. Mostly. I did make tuna salad for lunch, but we ate it on rice cakes with lots of veggies (and, ok, I admit to putting cream cheese in my corn...) I'm planning beans and rice and veggies for dinner - every night this week. And we've set up a new system for keeping on track.

Since we're no longer earning time for a splurge, we needed new motivation for eating clean. We've devised a new points system - 2 points for a perfect day, 1 point if we have minimal animal products, 0 points if we have sugar/pasta/junk. When we collectively earn 100 points, we can reward ourselves with a date night (one that hopefully doesn't involve Golden Corral or a similar pig-out :p). This will also help us regulate the frequency of date nights, as they're getting expensive now that we need a sitter.

So, another lesson learned the hard way. Lifestyle changes are hard to make, but we're getting there. I'm also considering switching to organic dairy and meat (for health and because it'll help me eat less of it) and maybe trying to buy organic for the 'dirty dozen' produce. And, we're nearly done with the basement, so hopefully we can plug the machines back in and break a sweat again (in the meantime, I need to make more of an effort to get in a walk in the evening). Two steps forward, one step back. At least I'm motivated to keep up the healthy eating - it really does make me feel SO much better :) Oh, and my sister taught me a couple of awesome recipes (lasagna and quiche) that substitute whole grain millet for pasta or crust - super yummy and much healthier!

As I'm continuing to tweak my menu and learn new recipes, I'll keep asking you all for your tips and advice. Do you have any great dairy-free (pasta-free) recipes you want to share? Anything vegan, raw, or vegetarian? Any super yummy whole-grain recipes? Any great smoothie or juice concoctions to pass along? I always appreciate any help I can get! You guys are great!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Biggest Loser and Super Sunday Splurge

Well - we made it through our 3 week crazy diet. And in general, I feel awesome! I'm definitely planning to continue trying to eat super clean and healthy at least 6/7 of the week. And the diet has paid off in weight loss, too! I had my final weigh-in for Biggest Loser on Sunday morning and I won! I'm down 9.5 lbs and up $60. Very nice :) I ate pretty well at Grandma's for lunch on Sunday as well, and then Sunday night was Super Splurge Sunday dinner!

My husband and I have been planning for and anticipating this meal for three weeks. And the longer we were on the diet, the more grandiose the meal became. At first, we were only going to have a few candy bars to break our diet. By Sunday night my menu included: homemade sherried caramelized-onion two cheese macaroni with hot dogs, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and vanilla ice cream, two pieces of artisan chocolate, and some rootbeer. My husband had lined up: two frozen pizzas, rootbeer, orange soda, a small sleeve powdered sugar donuts, oreos and kettle chips. Woah. We both wound up with about 2.5 hours to eat all our goodies (after all our 'cheat' time had been subtracted) and we were so excited! We had two episodes of Star Trek to watch and our huge pile of food to eat....

But a funny thing happens when you eat healthy, fiber filled food. Your stomach shrinks. You're eating well, so you don't need to eat as much. And eventually you can't eat as much if you try. I only used 29 minutes out of my 2.5 hours. I had one small plate of the incredibly rich macaroni, half a medium size piece of cake, a small scoop of ice cream and two glasses of rootbeer. Oh, and half of each piece of artisan chocolate. And I was miserably stuff. Not only that, but I was so used to eating fresh tasting foods that all those rich, sweet treats made me shiver. My husband managed to do a little better with his food (I think he finished the pizza and donuts, but most of the oreos are still standing and the chips are unopened). I was both very disappointed that my gorging was so short lived, and also pretty grateful that I wasn't so full of junk that I'd be miserable in the morning.

And I wasn't. I feel pretty good today, actually. I even had even recovered from the splurge enough by lunchtime that I finished the boys leftover mac'n'cheese and had a few more bites of cake (yeah, I justified the cheating by reminding myself that I used only 1/5 of my time last night...) And oddly enough, I actually feel like eating healthily this week. True, there's a little cheese and meat and pasta in the meals I planned -but just a little. And in general, I'm most excited about the snap peas and hummus in my fridge.

So was the crazy diet worth it, even though we didn't pig out like we expected? Totally! I feel healthy, I feel happy, and my pre-baby jeans are already loose! (I even managed to squeeze into a size 1 skirt yesterday - though it sat at my waist instead of my hips like it used to). I only have 12 more pounds to go until I hit my goal weight (I came in at 122 on Sunday) and I'm $60 richer to boot. Now I just can't wait for my hips to stop hurting (someone mentioned that relaxin from pregnancy stays in your system for months post-partum, foo) and for the basement to be finished (so I can get to my elliptical again) and I can start on the next part of my health-makeover plan: Getting in super cardio shape and toning up all these mushy muscles! Here's hoping that by next bikini season I don't have to hide under a cover- up.

Thanks again, everyone, for joining me on this journey - your feedback is always appreciated! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Down Side

Ok, so I said I love how I feel when I'm on this healthy diet. And, in general, I do. But there can be too much of a good thing. There's a reason I gave up vegetarianism after 10 years. I was terrible at it. I ate pasta and bread and never got enough protein. When my husband and I first started going to the gym together regularly, I had good days where I could power through for an hour and burn 600+ calories - and then some days after 20 minutes I'd nearly black out or throw up or be dizzy for a half hour afterward. When I consulted my doctor she ran some blood tests and told me I was way low on protein - apparently my blood sugar was hitting the floor right after I'd eaten.

Well, last night when we went for our walk I got 2 miles in at a pretty good pace, then suddenly started feeling woozy, then nearly blacked out. Again. It happened a couple days earlier as well. And has been happening off and on since we started our diet. My conclusion is that I'm once again not getting enough protein and/or carbs to sustain an even blood-sugar level. Oops. We've only got one week of the diet left and even though we're going to attempt to keep going with a healthier eating routine when we're finished, I am definitely adding back in meats and dairy in moderation to help me stay balanced. I'm just not cut out to be a vegan (even though I was eating eggs) or even a vegetarian, although I do tend to eat a vegetarian diet 90% of the week. We'll keep cutting back on sugar and refined grains, and I'll use dairy and meat sparingly, but apparently I just can't live on fruits and veggies and rice alone. (And peanut butter - I've been eating a ton of peanut butter, which probably isn't super healthy or conducive to weight-loss).

Ah well. You live, you learn. I'm going to try to work in more protein this last week and after that, well, I'm really looking forward to getting my cheese back. :D

Friday, May 13, 2011

Love That Feeling

Ok, so I was going to write this post yesterday but Blogger has been down. Booo. Today is an aberration where I feel just awful! But, given that I almost blacked out walking 1.5 miles last night, I think I'm getting sick. I've felt hit-by-a-truck awful all day (cranky, shaky, queasy) BUT as I said, this isn't actually typical of how I've been feeling lately at all. Here's what I was going to say yesterday:

For the last 4 years, and especially the first 4 months postpartum this last time, I've been on a nasty blue streak. It got so bad toward the end of month 3 p.p. that I actually considered seeking out counseling. But just as I was making up my mind to make the call, I snapped out of it. Just like that. I partly blame all that depression on the crazy roller-coaster I put my hormones on having 3 babies in 3 years. I never gave myself time to re-balance and fully heal before I was pregnant again. Not to mention the fact that I can count on one hand the number of times I've slept through the night in the last 4 years. Add that all up and you get one doozy of a bad mood.

I'm sure, though, that a large contributing factor to my awful moods was my health - particularly my diet. I was one of those silly pregnant women who used my growing bump as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. "Oh, no one will notice the extra pounds," I'd tell myself. "Besides, I'm eating for two." When I should have been eating even cleaner to give my babies the best nutrients possible and fuel my body for one heckuva long journey, I was stuffing it full of chocolate and ice cream and other comfort foods to combat the hideous fatigue I felt while growing one baby and simultaneously chasing another. By the end of pregnancy #3 I was 60 lbs heavier than pre-kids (and only about 12 of that was baby and accompanying stuff) and just the thought of getting out of bed in the morning was exhausting enough to make me cry.

Well, right around the 4 month mark, I decided that it was time to lose the weight and start eating better. And for the most part, I did. And *surprise* that's about the time I started to feel happier, too. I don't think it really hit home for me, though, till we started our big diet 2 weeks ago. Suddenly I was joyful in the morning. I felt energized despite the lack of sleep (and didn't even crave the chocolate to get me through the day anymore). And I was soooo much calmer and more relaxed with the kids. Not to mention that despite the fact that I have 13 lbs till I hit my goal weight, I finally finally kinda feel pretty again. It's silly that I need to 'feel pretty' to be confident again (and, frankly, I don't know if it's feeling good about how I look that makes me feel happy, or if happiness and thinness are both just products of being healthier), but it helps.

Maybe I can just say that I feel more 'normal' lately - I feel like 'myself' again which I haven't in a long long time. I've even found myself getting back into music I used to like and watching old tv shows I used to like and occasionally get a glimpse of who I am as a single entity instead of being stuck in 'wife mother super busy housekeeper who am I again" mode constantly. We'll just say that I feel balanced. And blessed. Even when my kids are grinding watermelon into the carpet or getting into (joyful) screaming matches or pelting me with Hotwheels. I still want to pause time right here and savor the moment. Which, considering that very recently I was counting the days till the baby started pre-school, is a HUGE step for me.

I'll confess - today I did some yelling. Today I was cranky. Today I didn't eat quite as well as I should have. But, today I am sick. In general, I am feeling really, truly amazing and I am so grateful. I LOVE this feeling and I am thanking God every day for restoring it. And I'm praying that I use it productively - to motivate myself to continue this healthy lifestyle - to use my extra energy playing with my kids - to really take the time to savor the moment. Because before I know it, baby girl WILL be in pre-school and I know I will miss all the chaos. At least, I'll miss this kind of chaos :)

Sorry for all the rambling. I guess it's just my roundabout way of saying that I'm finally learning that if I take care of myself first, I'll be so much better able to take care of everyone else. Here's hoping I can keep it up! Because this is so great!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Big Diet

As I said in my last post, what you eat can really influence how you feel. So hubby and I have started our big 3 week eat clean diet. At first, it seemed insane and really daunting - but the longer we're on it, the better I'm feeling. I noticed that after day 4 a lot of issues I'd been having (nasty raw itchy skin, insomnia, sluggishness and crankiness) have virtually disappeared. I still suspect that I'm allergic to chocolate (or maybe sugar?) since I have hideous withdrawal every time I stop eating it and I think that's where a lot of my symptoms are coming from. I guess we'll see. We will be doing this diet for 3 weeks with a 'splurge' at the end, but we're hoping to make it more of a lifestyle, only treating ourselves one meal a week instead of all the time. So, here are the basics of the diet:

For three weeks, we will eat only the following:

Fruits and veggies: unlimited
Eggs: 2/day
Peanut butter: 2 tbsp/day (or 1-2 oz nuts)
Hummus and salad dressing: 1 tbsp each/day
olive or coconut oil, soy sauce: few tsp for sauteeing
whole grains: small amounts
beans: small amounts
spices: unlimited
water and tea: unlimited

What we can't eat:
chocolate, sugar, dairy, refined grains (bread, pasta, cereal, cookies, etc), meat

At the end of the three weeks, we have 3 hours to eat as much of our 'splurge' (right now I'm thinking mac'n'cheese and chocolate cake - originally we were thinking candy) as we can. And then we'll stop and freeze whatever is left.

As an incentive to be good, every time we 'cheat' on the diet we lose 5-30 minutes (depending on the size of the cheat - a cookie is 5 min, a BBQ lunch is 30) from our final splurge. To earn time back, we have to work out (1 mile walked/run = 5 minutes back, 1 situp/pushup/etc = 1 second back).

Ideally in the end we'll continue the diet eating well Monday-Saturday afternoon. Saturday nights will be our 'splurge' nights (within reason of course) and Sundays we eat at Grandma's so we'll do the best we can, but treats are ok there too. We're trying to walk/run 3 miles every night and do strength stuff every other night as a habit (once we get our basement back it should be a breeze to work out to Star Trek again).

And like I said - I can't believe how amazing I feel! I've already lost a few pounds (my scale stinks so much it's debatable how much) and I feel not only thinner, but more energetic and like my whole body is functioning more smoothly. Even my skin is clearing up. Woohoo! I don't crave things like I did anymore (yes I was drooling over the cookies on Sunday, but I was able to stop at just a couple instead of eating the whole plateful and still felt satisfied - and I did 'run off' my time). So I'm very excited about the prospect of a healthier lifestyle.

That said, I'm terrible at cooking on a primarily produce diet (it'll be easier after the 3 weeks when I get all my condiments back). So if anyone has any super yummy vegan/non-dairy vegetarian recipes they want to share, I'm all ears :) (We have found that frozen-fruit-though-the-juicer ice cream is not only a very satisfying dessert, but is about the only thing we can actually get our kids to eat on this diet - so we've been eating a TON of that and I'm really surprised how well it satisfies even my ravenous sweet tooth :D )