Thursday, January 31, 2013

I want to be a success story. (part 2)

me in September 2008, after switching to a traditional diet

If you have not yet read "I want to be a success story (part 1)," I recommend you go do that HERE.

This series has been difficult for me to write.  Thank you for caring, and thank you for dealing with me kindly.    The close of Part 1 brings us up to the beginning of 2013.  I was frustrated, going back and forth between wanting to try again (but in what way?) and giving up.

One more detail: in 2012 we discovered that my thyroid was a little sluggish.  I began taking thyroid support supplements in May, as well as dessicated thyroid (Armor).   These things helped a few other issues in my life, but made no dent in my metabolism.  In the autumn of 2012 we bumped up my dose of dessicated thyroid.  "Let me know if you start having heart palpitations," my doctor said.  I had none; in fact there was no discernible difference in my physical situation - and no change in my weight at all.  Was it one more fruitless effort?

I know there are some who would say "cut down on red meat, or grains, and stop with all the coconut oil and stuff."  The thing is, I don't believe that's necessary.  It's possible that I'm just being stubborn, but I am convinced that having a variety of traditional, nourishing foods in one's "diet" are essential to physical well-being.  Likewise, I don't believe that getting up at 5 AM each day and exercising my tail off is best for me either.  Rest and sleep are crucially important too, and I don't get enough sleep as it is - even with our recent changes.  (Perhaps the problem is my adrenals, and if I could have a good three days to sleep all I want, things would turn around. If anyone has any suggestions of how I could possibly manage that, I'm all ears!)

Recently I've come across several "real food blogs" with someone's story about how they "lost all this weight effortlessly, while eating healthy fats, and maintained it too...with no exercise at all!"  And the thing is...I believe it.  I've lived it.  But it doesn't seem to be working for me any more.  At least, not at the moment.

And breastfeeding?  Forget about it.  Breastfeeding has never helped me lose a single pound.  I have had to fight for any weight I've ever lost - aside from that period in 2008 when I switched to a traditional diet, and it just melted away.  Every other time it's been a slow, uphill climb.  When other women talk about breastfeeding as a weight loss aid, it's Greek to me.

I feel as though I'm missing something.  Perhaps I get discouraged too easily.  Maybe I just haven't found the right combination.  I think it's pretty likely that my hormones are an issue as well.   When I'm perfectly honest with myself, I don't think I haven't lost that baby weight because of a lack of effort.  It seems that there's something else out there...some key I haven't discovered just yet.  And so, I seek.

In the early years of my marriage, I lost nearly 70 lbs through portion control and eating an extremely low-fat diet.  Although it was hard work, I had a happy result; but I do not want to go down that road again.  I don't think it was healthy - and I believe that the low-fat diet had a great deal to do with the temporary (2 1/2 long years) infertility my husband and I experienced early on.  I believe I was malnourished during that time, and I won't subject my body to that again.

So what to do?  What's the game plan?  What can I alter to achieve a positive result here?  Here are some things I'm implementing into my routine in my effort to do take care of my body:

T-Tapp Workouts.  Say what?  I've been hearing about T-Tapp for a while now, and ordered some DVDs while I was pregnant with Gabe.  Although I tried it a few times, I became discouraged and fell out of the habit of T-Tapping regularly.  But I suspect I should've stuck with it for longer.  What is it?  From the website:  "T-Tapp is a series of copyrighted, sequential movements designed to put the body in proper functional alignment. Its special sequence of comprehensive, compound muscle movement helps establish better alignment as well as increased strength and flexibility of the spine, better neuro-kinetic flow, lymphatic function, and increased metabolic rate. Its physical therapy approach to fitness makes it safe for those with shoulder, hip, knee, neck, and back concerns. Yet, it delivers a challenging workout for all fitness levels!"  

Make no mistake, it is hard work.  It feels and looks a bit odd, but at several weeks in I can tell that my body is changing.  I see this as a workout I can take into middle age with me (um, let's not think about that too much), and I really like that it's low-impact.  It's a really smart way to exercise, and the success stories are amazing.

Skin Brushing.   Okay, now I'm just talking crazy, right?  Wrong.  I learned about skin brushing through Teresa Tapp, but if you do your own research, you will find a lot of information on skin brushing.  It helps the skin rid itself of toxins, tightens the skin, encourages good circulation, boosts the lymphatic system, and more.  It is credited with helping to reduce cellulite as well as varicose and spider veins.  I will readily admit that I felt utterly ridiculous the first time I tried skin brushing.   But let me tell you, only a week into it I could see results.  Even my post-partum belly (I can still call it that, right?  I'm still "post" partum...) has firmed up noticeably - and you know I'm my own worst critic in that area.  I believe my spider veins are diminishing as well.  Did I just admit to having spider veins on the Internet?  Yes, I believe I did.

Coconut oil appetizers.  Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon discuss this idea at length in their book "Eat Fat, Lose Fat."  Coconut oil is a healthy fat which I consider to be a superfood. It both suppresses the appetite and boosts metabolism.  Taking 1-2 tablespoons a little while before one eats is reported to contribute to weight loss.  I've tried stirring it into hot tea, and I know some people just take it off the spoon - or even swallow it in smaller pieces like capsules - but currently I keep Peppermint Pattie Coconut Bark in my freezer, and break off a chunk about 20 minutes before mealtime.  I don't know if it will actually help me shed pounds, but it definitely suppresses my appetite.  I've noticed a huge difference!

Smaller portion sizes.  I still forget sometimes, but I'm trying.  I think the more I take my coconut oil appetizers, the easier it will become.  If I'm not as hungry, I won't eat as much - easy as that.

Moderation with grains.  I do not believe that grains are evil.  I serve my family wheat on a regular basis.  I am unabashedly happy that I can eat gluten again.  In our house, we try to consume grains which have been properly prepared - that is, sprouted, soaked, or fermented (as in sourdough).  Even so, I'm trying to mix it up.  I serve coconut flour pancakes and muffins once or twice a week.  We enjoy almond flour waffles and cookies.  Although there are many wonderful ways to eat wheat, it's nice to throw in high-protein, gluten free options as well.

Eat dessert.   As I've learned in the past, depriving myself will only lead to overeating.  So I do still allow myself dessert as long as it's a nourishing one.  One of my favorite recipes is The Nourishing Gourmet's chocolate fudge.  I love to substitute pastured butter for half the coconut oil, though I do enjoy it with all coconut oil as well.   This recipe is easy, fast, and grain- and gluten-free.  And then there's homemade ice cream, which is especially healthful if it has been made with raw, local honey!

As you can see, I'm just starting down the road ...again.  Dusting myself off, giving myself little pep talks, doing my research and hoping for the best.  I'm seeking encouragement where it may be found, and sharing my story here hopes that I might encourage others.   It's not easy, none of it is easy.  Still I feel better for my efforts.

...And if the Lord should choose to lead me down another bend in the road; if He sends us a blessing which would necessitate setting aside my aspirations?  Then I will set them aside for a time, and joyfully receive the gift.

But for now, I'm back on the wagon!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I want to be a success story. (part 1)

Like many women, my relationship with my body has been a bit tumultuous.  Love, hate, discouragement, discontentment.  Then there are reminders to be thankful - to remember what my body has done and continues to do, the health I've enjoyed.  To remember that I should embrace what I have instead of always yearning for things to be different.  I get that.  I agree that I need to work on giving thanks instead of being ashamed of the things I'm ...well, ashamed of.   Silver linings, the cup is half full, look on the bright side of life.

But here's the bald truth:  I miss liking my body.

Because there was a time when I liked it.  Oh, it was never perfect - there were always things I wished I could change or which needed improvement.  I think everyone has things they'd like to alter about their appearance if it were plausible.   But truly, there was a time when I really liked my body.  It was back in the autumn of 2008, when our family had just begun our "food revolution"  that is, our turn toward a traditional diet based on real, whole foods.  My third child was about 6 months old.   I wasn't at my thinnest (I had been far too thin back before we had kids).  But I was at a very comfortable weight, feeling fit and trim - and this after a few months of incorporating far more healthy fats into my diet than I'd ever had in my life.  I was eating fat...and losing weight!  I was happy, giddy with the freedom of it all.  My new way of eating left me feeling fantastic, so much energy and other wonderful changes.  I had lost the last few pounds of my pregnancy weight effortlessly, naturally, and without any added exercise. I was on top of the world.

Things stayed this way for quite a while.  Elise was conceived in May of 2009, and throughout my pregnancy I felt great about the amount of weight I gained: 22 lbs.   The day after her homebirth, I stepped on the bathroom scale.  Only 12 lbs to my pre-pregnancy weight!  I was elated.  I could do this!  No problem.

Except that the weight would not come off.  An entire year later I was still struggling to lose those 12 lbs.  I'd tried everything I could think of.  I had done the 40-day regimen from The Maker's Diet, which is what had worked so brilliantly in 2008.  By the spring of 2011 I was entirely frustrated.  I had tried a diet high in coconut and coconut oil.  I had tried going grain-free.  I bought a rebounder and exercised on it, in addition to pilates (with which I had great success for years).  I tried a highly acclaimed workout routine (more on this in part 2).  I did  all the same things that had worked for me before - plus some.

I managed to lose about 4 lbs before Gabriel was conceived.  After he was born I found myself with 20 lbs I hoped so lose.   Well, my darling boy turned one year old last month, and those 20 lbs?

I've still got them.

But I want to be a success story.  I want to find the key, the missing piece.  I don't want to fail over and over.  And I don't want to give up on my body at 36 years of age.

To be continued.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

the weekend past

Ah, 'twas a lovely weekend.

It involved...

...a dinner for two which ended with sharing an utterly scrumptious slice of Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle cheesecake.

...kissing our four oldest darlings and wishing them a great two days with their grandparents.

...reminiscing, planning and dreaming with my husband.

...sleeping in until 7:15 AM.  Such an incredibly rare treat! absolutely perfect brunch out with two of my favorite guys in the world.

...a very fun outing to IKEA, during which our unpredictable 13-month-old behaved himself completely.

...a relaxing afternoon at home with the house (almost) to myself.

...a little writing time. early bedtime for young sir., snacks and snuggles on the couch.

...a hot bath with candlelight and a glass of wine.

...two nights of stellar sleep.

...quiet mornings with my man.

{I adore my children, but weekends like this feed my spirit. There's truly something to be said for relaxation and rest!  Especially during the cold, gray days of January...}

Sunday, January 27, 2013

He eats! He sleeps!

Our little boy is growing up.

Just one short month ago, we could find nothing to entice him at dinnertime.  Not at breakfast or lunch either for that matter.  Food off of our own plates?  Not interested.  Banana slices?  No, thanks.  Applesauce on a spoon?  How insulting.  And finger foods were merely an excuse for tactile experimentation.  

Our priority is to avoid feeding him grains until he's quite a bit older and will have an easier time digesting them.  And so, a few weeks ago I offered him a coconut flour pancake.  I'd given him coconut flour pancakes before, but this a different recipe.  An extra egg, a little vanilla mixed in.  To my surprise and utter delight, he loved it!  It was a definite turning point.

Since then we've had hits and misses, but he has definitely become more interested in "people food."  Coconut flour pancakes.  Almond flour cheddar crackers. I'm even letting him chew on some delicious fermented carrot sticks for the probiotic benefits. Life is so markedly different from how things were even three or four weeks ago.  We're all so pleased, and quite excited.  Our doctor had said at his 12-month check-up, to let her know if he still hadn't started eating better by 15 months or so.  It looks like Gabe's chosen age was 13 months. 

And on a related note...

He's finally sleeping better!  I don't know if I've shared here much about it, but Gabriel has been our worst  sleeper to date.  It had been months since he'd slept through the night (although he has done it before), and as of last autumn he was waking up 2 or 3 times each night.  I was pretty weary of it, though one's body does adapt.  Still, between that and the fact that nursing him supplied a good 95% of his daily nourishment...well, there seemed no end in sight.

But just over a week ago, out of the blue, he slept 10 1/2 hours one night.  Then he did it again.  And again.  The fourth night he woke up and cried, but I sent my husband in to cuddle him in my stead.  I'm happy to say that our sweet and spicy Gabriel is now about 11 days night weaned.  If he fusses at night, he gets Mr. Wonderful for a snuggle - and this mama stays in bed.  No more nursing him back to sleep!  We have closed up shop!  And he's doing very well.  I am one ecstatic girl, let me tell ya.

Things are looking up around here, people.  And I am incredibly, indescribably thankful!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

just a tiny bit obsessed...

It's time for a confession:   there's a chance, a very small chance, that I might be obsessed with "Les Miserables."

In previous years, I have read the novel in its original form.  I also own and love an adapted edition of the book.  Jeff and I have seen the stage production and a few film adaptations.  I remember really enjoying the Liam Neeson version.


The new film adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel "Les Miserables" has stolen my heart.  I went to see it with a some friends just after Christmas, and found it absolutely wonderful.  Not long after that I took my husband to see the movie - and found it even more breathtaking.  I'd spent the meantime listening to songs from the production, learning the words and the musical themes, and it made it so much more meaningful for me.

That's when it really began.  Since then, my family has heard a great deal of "Les Mis" music.  I've watched through the 25th Anniversary concert clips on YouTube; I listen to the "Les Miserables" station on Pandora radio on a daily basis.

My kids know whose song is whose; they can sing along with many of the pieces.*  (*For those of you familiar with the song list, I always skip "Lovely Ladies," and we've had a lot of discussions about the not-so-nice aspects of "Master of the House"...)  We have discussed the plot lines at length.  And my seven-year-old son read the adaptation I mentioned earlier within about 9 days.

"Les Miserables."  Pain.  Beauty.  Redemption.  Consequences.  Grace.  Love.  Loneliness.   Despair.  Sacrifice.  Forgiveness.  The joy and agony of the human condition.

I suppose those are the reasons why I, a middle class homemaker, a mother of five, a woman whose marriage is desperately happy, who has led a life remarkably undramatic, find it so compelling.  As a classic rule-follower, I've found myself surprisingly moved by the Javert storyline.  And of course there's Fantine's heartbreaking song.

The film is difficult to watch at times, no doubt about it.  But it is honest.  Beautiful.  Painful.  Honest and moving.  There is something about this story that draws me more than I've been drawn by such a thing in a very long time.

It would seem that I've got it bad.    I tell my family, "I'm sure it'll pass soon..."   And I'm sure it will pass at some point.  But that time has not arrived just yet...

Do you love "Les Miserables" like I do?  What did you think of the new film? 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

a cloud of witnesses

This is what it looks like when number five takes off!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I dreamed a dream

There was a time when our home was being built
The kids were so excited
The rooms were all clean
And each wall was a song
And the song was inviting
There was a time
But so much went wrong

I dreamed a dream of tidy playroom
Toys put away in their toy bins
I dreamed they'd play til sleep was nigh
And place things always on their shelves

But the children make a mess
And nobody ever wants to clean up
And the room isn't used to play
'Cause there are so many toys on the floo-oo-oo-oo-oor

We used to visit th' future home
We'd peek into each nook and crany
We oohed and aahed at the new toilets
The counters clear and nice and shiny

But the children leave stuff out
And there's toothpaste in the sink
Cups and brushes on the counter
And the toilets are not flu-u-u-shed

And still I dream they'll keep it clean
That they will learn to love things tidy
But it's a dream I fear won't be
That my daughters-in-law will despise me

'Cause my children, they are slobs
And they leave socks scattered all over
They forget to put away their shoes
And they turn my dreams to du-u-u-u-ust

I had a dream my home would be
So different from the miss I'm fighting
So different now from how it seemed

Daily life has killed the dream
I dreamed