19 Month Pictures
See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.
See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.
What I’m Thinking
I’m doing a Snoopy happy dance! As a nice surprise for my trimaverary this month, I stepped on the scale to see 145.6. That means that I am no longer considered overweight according to my BMI–just barely (the green area on the graph in the screenshot below is the normal BMI range so you can see that I’m walking the line), but I’m going to take it! The target numbers for my weight and goal date were set by the app when I put my info in way back in October 2015. I could change them, but I don’t really have a goal weight or date, so I don’t pay attention to that part of the app. The part of it I find it to be most helpful for me is the graph because that allows me to see if I am trending downward. It can be hard to just look at the numbers and know if you’re headed in the right direction because from one day to the next you don’t see much change and sometimes see an increase. You can feel stalled when you really aren’t. To be able to tell if you are making progress, I find you need to look at a period of time that is 3 months or longer. Shorter periods of time are deceiving and tend to make you want to give up. It also shows my average weekly loss, which is nice. There have been weeks when I haven’t lost anything and some when I’ve lost a couple pounds, but being able to see that it evens out to 0.88 pounds/week lets me know that things are working. It keeps that big picture perspective for me. (Side note: the app in these screenshots is MY Weight (a.k.a. Monitor Your Weight) available for iPhone in the App Store. I don’t know if it is available for Android devices or not.)
I did a post awhile ago about how the numbers on the scale and BMI can be a prison, and I stand by that. However, for someone who was pushing a BMI classification of Obese III (I was almost 220 pounds with a BMI of 37.7) when I started THM, being labeled “Normal” is a nice thing and cause for celebration. Never in a million years did I think I would ever again be this “small”. I wear the same size now as I did in college 20 years ago even though I weigh about 20 pounds more now than I did then.
18 Month Pictures
See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.
See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.
What I’m Thinking
Don’t mind my husband photo bombing. He’s basically an overgrown middle schooler.
Well, I thought I was done losing. And then April happened. It’s tempting to blame the return to loss to getting back to jogging three times a week, BUT my jogging hasn’t been that consistent–between the weather and scheduling it usually ends up being more like twice a week (and it’s not that far, not even 2 miles). I’m now flirting with being in the “normal” range on the BMI chart! I also really need to get a new shirt for photos because my blue one is too baggy to show the changes.
17 Month Pictures
See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.
See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.
What I’m Thinking
I said from my beginning with THM that my goal weight would be when I stopped losing. I’m just not a person who is going to go to “extreme” measures to lose. I’m never going to do more exercise than my three 30 minute jogs per week. I’m not going to stop eating dairy. I’m not going to become militant about never eating a french fry or piece of cake at a special event. And I don’t believe those extremes would be advocated by Serene and Pearl either. Yes, another 20 pounds lost would be nice, but since at my current weight I am wearing the same size clothes I did 20 years ago when I weighed 25 pounds less, if this is where my body wants to be, this is where I’m going to stay.
16 Month Pictures
See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.
What I’m Thinking
I’m pretty sure tape measures lie just like scales do. According to my tape measure, I didn’t lose any inches this month. However, I did go down a hole on my belt. I should probably look into getting a smaller shirt to take pics in too. Ah, the problems of a THM!
15 Month Pictures
See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.
What I’m Thinking
Just a warning: this is going to get a little what some may call “preachy”. Please know that this is a personal reflection, not an attempt to preach.
I’ve been convicted and have realized that I need to give up daily weighing. When I began my THM journey, I never intended to be a daily weigher (or even a weekly or monthly weigher, for that matter). However, after my initial 6 weeks or so on-plan, I became a daily weigher. It started innocently enough (as many addictions and idolatry does). My husband and I were weighing the same thing for weeks (like we’d both weigh 210.4 one week and we’d both weigh 209.6 the next week) and we suspected the scale might be broken. We weighed the same thing every day for a week and decided a new scale was in order. Of course, we had to continue to weigh everyday for a few days once we got the new scale to make sure things were all on the up-and-up, and it just became a habit to weigh everyday. At some point though in the last year that daily weigh-in became an idol. I felt I NEEDED to see that number everyday to monitor my progress and be “accountable”. Despite knowing and being comfortable with the fact that weights will vary from one day to the next, up or down, I clung to knowing that weight like it was some sort of guarantee that I wouldn’t wake up the next day back at 225 pounds. In the last few weeks, however, God has very clearly convicted me of trusting in the scale more than I’m trusting in Him.
So, I’m moving to doing weekly weights. It is a challenge. Every time I use the bathroom that scale is sitting there staring at me. I could so easily step on just to see. I have to consciously remind myself that I have made a promise to God that I will not. Why don’t I hide it, you say? Because merely hiding it won’t overthrow its place as an idol in my life. If I don’t see it, I won’t think about it. And if I don’t think about it, I don’t have to think about placing God above it. But, if I have to confront it several times a day, I have to make the conscious decision to turn from it and trust in He who is the only One worthy of my worship.
I don’t share this to shame anyone who weighs daily. I share it as a way to be transparent with fellow mamas about my journey because it has been my experience that no one experiences things alone. If I am experiencing this, it is quite likely someone else is having a similar experience. My entire goal with the THM portion of my website is to encourage fellow mamas and let them know they are not alone, that they can do this, and that there is hope…not just hope for freedom from being overweight but that our weight and our size is not what defines our worth and is not worthy of being an idol. Because let’s face it, THM, or any other diet or weight loss plan and the results we do or don’t get from it, can so easily become an idol. Think about how much time you spend focused on your weight, either because you are losing and feeling good or because you have gained 100 pounds in 16 years and feel ashamed, or how much time you spend focused on following a diet (maybe even THM) to the letter at all costs so you’ll lose weight. Has your weight become your idol? It had become mine. And I’m declaring that it will be no more. Yes, I’ll continue to follow THM eating practices and monitoring my progress but in a sane way and always with prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord rather than clinging to the ways of the world that say my weight and weight loss success are the be-all-end-all. If you are a fellow mama and also feeling conviction about this, not conviction from me because I assure you I’m not the one convicting you, I encourage you to lay your idols down too.
My “mother’s apron” is gone on one side and almost gone on the other! No idea why they are different sizes but they always have been.
14 Month Pictures
See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.
What I’m Thinking
In case you noticed, yes, there are no month 13 pictures. I managed to get measurements in November but never got around to having my daughter take pictures. There is a reason my blog is not monetized–mainly because I just don’t have the time to post stuff all that often, which means I don’t have tons of followers. And then there is my “thing” with everything everywhere nowadays being a form of advertising. That is a rant for another day and post. Anyway, moving on…
My second holiday season with THM has come and gone. I’ll be honest, I enjoyed some off-plan foods. The key would be that it wasn’t in huge amounts (though the “small”–their term, not mine–popcorn I devoured at the movie theater probably bordered on excessive), and I didn’t use one off-plan choice as an excuse to remain off-plan for more than that one meal or snack in a row. There are varying schools of thought on this, which I won’t belabor here, but how a mama handles holidays is going to depend on each THMer’s relationship with food. However, I will say this. There is no shame in going off-plan for a special day, AND there are no trophies awarded for staying on-plan for special days. Both choices take strength and determination–one to stay on-plan and the other to get back on-plan.
The other thing that has been an issue in the past two months is that I went through what I’m hoping was just a 20 pound stall. My other 20 pound stalls have only lasted about 2 weeks each but this one lasted a little longer–roughly a month. There were some oddities though that likely contributed to its length. In October, we were on vacation for a week and I took a 4-day road trip as well. Through that I stayed on-plan 90% of the time, but disruptions in routine play havoc with me mentally. Then, with the cold weather setting in, I stopped jogging for the winter. Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, but going from 90 minutes of jogging a week to nothing is bound to slow things down a bit. And then there was Thanksgiving. It was on-plan for me with the exception of a piece of pumpkin pie cake, but the month of November disappeared in a blur and just had a chaotic, unsettled feeling about it. In mid-December, things started heading in the right direction again and I’m starting to notice my leggings being loose in the waist, so I’m just going to keep on truckin’ and trust the process.
My aunt’s jaw dropped when I walked in and she said, “You’re like half the person you were when I saw you last! How much weight have you lost?!?” I haven’t seen her since last Christmas. Some would find this insulting. I opted to be proud of my accomplishment.
DH and I have lost a combined total of around 100 pounds (me 65-ish, him 35-ish) in the last year. We could sleep together in a double (a double, not queen) bed for the first time in 10 years while visiting my parents!
My daughter made me get dressed up for Christmas church service tonight (we have a pre-Christmas service for those traveling for the actual day). I’m pretty sure iPhone cameras are rigged to make you look thinner and taller, because this is not what I see in the mirror! And this dress is an XL that I just bought the other night. I wear a 12 jeans at Old Navy.
12 Month Pictures
See Picture Day – 5 Months for an explanation of why there are no stats for March.
What I’m Thinking
I started THM a year ago thinking I’d do it for a year, I’d probably lose 5 pounds and still look like my before picture, and then I could go on my merry (a.k.a. miserable) way having proved that it didn’t work. Somewhere in the mix the Lord got ahold of me and the process because I don’t do stuff like this. I don’t diet (as in I’m not one to follow eating plans and rules and such). I don’t exercise. I’ve heard and seen all the gimmicks and am skeptical of everything. I don’t stick with things. When the going gets tough, I’m out.
Unlike many who come to THM, I haven’t struggled with weight my whole life. I grew up a skinny kid. In my teens and 20s I was a healthy weight (not according to media standards, which are not healthy anyway, but in the 120-125 range at 5’3″ I was not fat). Then, when I had my kids, it started creeping on. About 20 pounds for each child (for a total of 60) and then several rounds of prednisone for a ocular thyroid condition caused by thyroid antibodies added another 30 pounds. Coupled with bad eating habits, my body had had enough and I was miserable.
But, on THM I just started feeling better, which was even more huge than the weight coming off. And I just kept going. I’ll say it again, I don’t do stuff like this, so I know it was God’s will and timing for it to work for me as easily as it has.
I have no frame of reference for what this used to be like, but this is the tail end of my airplane seatbelt. I only fly every 5-6 years, so I’m not sure how short it used to be, but given I’ve lost 60 pounds, I’m guessing it used to be a lot shorter!
Look ma! No gap!
A standard size bath towel hasn’t completely gone around me in a very long time!
Do I even really need to say anything about this? I can cross my legs AND there is no knee bulge!
11 Month Pictures
What I’m Thinking
Eleven months. I can’t believe I’m in the home stretch of my first year of THM. Originally, I committed to THM for one year so I could prove it wouldn’t work and then go happily about my way. Well, I’ll be going happily about my way come October 23rd but it will be THM and not my old way! I am struggling a little bit in seeing my loss in measurements slow down the past two months, but I keep on keepin’ on and trust that it will straighten out when the time is right. Believe me, this takes a lot of prayer at times. And looking back at pics of where I came from, I know that even if I don’t lose another pound or another inch, I’m in a much better place than I was.
I’m going to call this an NSV. My ultra skinny daughter (in the white shirt, 5’5″ and probably 110 soaking wet) asked me this morning if I wanted a pair of jeans she has that are too big for her! They are a size 16 GIRLS, I wear a 14-16 misses! The NSV about this is that she even thought I would ever be able to fit into them!
10 Month Pictures
What I’m Thinking
Today isn’t really the best day to ask me what I’m thinking. I have a pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder right now, can’t get to the chiropractor to have it fixed until tomorrow, and am just having one of those days. I really think I need a nice, comforting heavy S meal with lots of cheese. This past weekend we were on the run a lot so we ate fast food several times (bun-less cheeseburgers with side salads become less than satisfying pretty quick). Then today, I was finishing up E leftovers in the fridge, and I do have to say my mood is better when I get my dairy fats in. I just dread E meals! Looking forward to a bedtime snack of berries and cream cheese.
I was a little surprised by my waist measurement this month because it has been feeling smaller lately, but eh, we’ll see what happens. I know my belly is getting a little smaller (maybe just not in the area I measure as waist) because my stretch marks are turning from stretched-to-the-max marks to wrinkles. I’m excited about closing in on my trimmaversary in October! Not because my THM journey will be over, but just to see what kind of progress I’ve had in size and blood work numbers.
Contemplated giving these NSVs just one number for the list since they both involve underwear, but they are distinctly different aspects of underwear so they get two numbers but lumped in one post.
#27 – My bikini-cut style undies no longer have to go under my “mother’s apron”! Finally, my body realized that it is out of stored fat to use everywhere else and started burning my belly! I did have okra a few times last week though.
#28 – The size of my undies is now small enough that when the kids fold the laundry they get mine confused with my 16 yo’s!
I haven’t seen a single D in my bra size in probably at least 16 years! And, there are only 2 hooks in the back! Two! There may be hope I could see a C someday!
The Prison of Numbers – Continued (Read Part 1 – The Scale here)
After the scale, the next number we get all wrapped in is our jean size, or clothing size in general. As a side note, I’m old enough to remember that not too many years ago women defined themselves by dress size. Now it’s jean size. Hmm. Times they are a changin’.
Anyway, using clothing size to justify your self-worth—for better or worse—is almost as bad as using weight. Because women’s clothing sizes are non-standard, they vary widely from one brand to the next. Even within the same brand, and sometimes within the same product itself, sizes can vary widely. Part of the reason for this is the process used to cut the pieces used to assemble a garment can also cause sifts of up to an inch within a single size of a single product. Stacks of fabric are punched out with dies and the natural compression and bending of the stack during the punching process can mean pieces on the top of the stack are smaller than pieces on the bottom of the stack.
Here’s a quick little video about the history and frustration of women’s clothing sizes.
I’ve heard many women wish that women’s clothing was sized “standard” like men’s, meaning that your pant size would be measured by waist and inseam. Shirt size would be your neck or chest measurement. And it would be nice if it could work that way, but owing to the wide variety of differences in women’s shapes, it is possible for two women to have identical waists and inseams but not be able to wear the same size pants because of hips, or lack thereof and other shape factors. That dratted body shape again. The other thing hindering this type of sizing for women would be the stigma women seem to have about telling people things like their waist size. Can you imagine how women would react to having anyone be able to find out their waist size just by being able to look at the tag in their jeans? I don’t think it would go over well. Kind of like hip pockets are often tiny or just flat out missing in women’s pants. Can’t put them in there. They make you look fat. Seriously folks.
Putting letter on clothes instead of numbers is no better. Here are photos of my belts. They are both a size XL. Yep, you read that right. Both are XL. The smallest hole on the one is the same length as the largest hole on the other.
In using clothing size as a method of determining our value as a person, we are letting numbers and letters that are quite literally arbitrary run—or ruin—our lives. Sounds silly when I put it that way, doesn’t it?
Coming soon…the final installment of The Prison of Numbers with some thoughts on mealtime math problems…
9 Month Pictures
What I’m Thinking
Okay, this month I have to admit I’m a little frustrated. Why, you ask? Because I have lost over 4 inches from my waist and 3 inches from my hips since February but have not gone down a jean size. I’m not even close to going down a jean size. They aren’t even loose. I’m not sure how this can be, but I do believe that it will happen so on I press. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure that I have gone down a bra cup size!
Right around my trimaversary this month we attended my husband’s family reunion. My mother-in-law was commenting on how great I am looking and said, “You look like the girl Keith married again!” Some people might have been offended at such a statement, but I was actually thrilled. Who doesn’t want to be told they look almost 20 years younger?
Up and down the stairs at the Science Museum with no huffing and puffing!
8 MONTH PICTURES
WHAT I’M THINKING
I mentioned last month it was time for a stall and indeed I did stall right after that for about 2 weeks. Even though I was expecting it, it was a little frustrating. In the midst of that though, I had a mental breakthrough. I realized that I’m okay with where I’m at. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I’m still losing because I would like to be smaller, but just compared with where I started if I stopped losing I’d be content with it. I feel better than I did the last time I weighed 176 pounds. I’m pretty sure I look better and wear a smaller size clothes than I did the last time I weighed 176 pounds (which I’m pretty sure was over a dozen years ago–I stopped weighing myself in the 180s). THM is a way I can see myself eating for the rest of my life and as long as the weight doesn’t come back, I can be where I’m at right now and be okay.
Let’s face it, we—as a culture—are ruled by numbers. For almost everyone in our western culture, numbers control our emotions and sense of satisfaction with life. Numbers also give us an illusion of control. We believe that if we can control the numbers, we can control our lives. And I’m not just talking dieting numbers. When our bank accounts have more money, we feel content and secure. As the bank balance nears $0 we begin to squirm (and some of us begin to sweat or outright panic). We’re not content with going the speed limit; no matter how high it is, we have to go just a titch faster. The speed limit on a highway I travel regularly used to be 55mph, so I’d drive 60mph. It was increased to 60mph a few years ago, so now I drive 65mph. 60mph was just no longer satisfying. See what I mean?
It makes sense then that we spend a lot of time tying our achievements and self-worth to numbers. We’re conditioned early in life that scoring 100% on a test is better than 75% and often, even unintentionally, those in positions of authority in our lives send the message that the one who scored 100% is a better, more worthy person than the one who scored 75%. And this thinking gets carried into our dieting and body image lives.
The Scale Number
Of course the first number that comes to mind when talking about diet and body image is weight. So let’s get real about that number. The scale is just a number and has no real relation to your size or health (despite all of us thinking it does). It measures your gravitational pull to the earth and nothing else. What weight looks like size-wise is influenced by things like muscle vs. fat and bone density/structure, etc. You often hear people in dieting and health groups say things like, “A pound of muscle weighs less than a pound of fat.” What they really mean is a pound of muscle takes up less room (is more dense) than a pound of fat. One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same—a pound is a pound the world around—but muscle takes up drastically less room. People who have more muscle than fat are going to appear to weigh less because their muscles take up less room than an equivalent weight of fat.
Likewise, the same weight is going to look different and register as a different clothing size depending on body structure. It is entirely possible for six people to weigh exactly the same thing on the scale and actually look any where from slim and fit to frumpy and obese due to height, skeletal size, “apple” vs. “pear” shape, etc. I would highly recommend reading Teresa Tapp’s What’s Your Body Type? article for more information on body types. And, as much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, depending on what your body type and bone structure are, you may never have that flat stomach no matter how much weight you lose. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m in the boat right along with y’all.
And while we’re beating up on the scale, let’s not forget doctors’ beloved body mass index (BMI). BMI attempts to negate the problem of using weight alone to determine health by calculating a ratio of a person’s weight in kilograms to their height in meters squared. For those of us who haven’t gone metric yet, the equation gets even uglier. That 703 is just the conversion ratio for getting from imperial/U.S. customary measurements to metric, but it still doesn’t make it pretty.
There are several problems with BMI, starting with the fact that it is based on weight. As we’ve discussed, weight tells us nothing about muscle mass vs. fat mass, body frame size, etc. so basing another measurement on an already flawed measurement is not going to make a better measurement.
We are told by mass media that a higher BMI puts us at risk for certain diseases, namely heart disease and diabetes. The reality is that BMI itself does not put you at risk for or lessen your chances of anything. It’s just a number. The reason BMI indicates risk factors for certain diseases is that the vast majority of overweight and obese people are eating the standard American high-sugar, high-processed foods diet. It is the sugar and processed food that puts you at risk for those diseases, not a person’s weight or BMI. So, the high-sugar/high-processed diet makes you fat (increases BMI because it increases your weight). And the high-sugar/high-processed diet puts you at risk for diseases. The cause of the increased risk is not an increased BMI or weight, as mass media makes it sound by saying increased BMI puts you at risk for heart disease and diabetes. You can be “skinny fat” where you are thin and in the “healthy” BMI range but still be at risk for heart disease and diabetes if you are one of the “lucky” ones who can eat high-sugar/high-processed without putting on the pounds. BMI may be a flashing red light to indicate a doctor should ask some questions about diet and other things to determine if there is a health risk, but BMI itself doesn’t really indicate anything. Like weight, it’s just a number.
Weight is a perfectly valid measurement, but not for what we are using it to measure. Using weight to measure health and self-worth makes about as much sense as using a ruler to measure how hot it is outside. We need to start thinking of the number on the scale as how much the earth loves us rather than a commentary on our value, worth, or how healthy we are. That number, or a number based on it, does not tell the whole story about anyone.
It’s the little things folks! My laptop is once again a LAPtop rather than a balanced precariously on my knees computing device!
In case you’ve been keeping track, remember that 5k my sister managed to get me to agree to? Well, I FINISHED IT! I managed to finish it jogging, even though I walked most of it. I finished in roughly 45 minutes (I think it was 45:08, but who cares about 8 seconds?). Next stop, to jog at least half of one in September!
I stole this t-shirt back from my teen! I gave it to her to use as jammies several years ago because it had become too snug for me. Fits again now with some room to spare!
Guess who tied her hoodie around her waist today! And my entire body width fits in an arm-length selfie! And I spent 3 hours walking through the zoo without my knees and hips feeling like I am 82 instead of 42! When I got home after an hour in the car, I could get out of the car with no problems. 40 pounds ago I would have barely been able to get back up and would have been in pain for at least a day.
7 MONTH PICTURES
WHAT I’M THINKING
I’m teetering precariously close to 40 pounds lost, so it’s probably about time for another plateau (or stall, if you want to call it that). Veteran THMs say you tend to have them about every 20 pounds lost or so. Getting mentally prepared.
I did some clothes shopping yesterday since very few of my summer clothes from last year fit and many of my everyday t-shirts were starting to swim on me. I’m pleased to say I bought XL, not even 1X but XL…like in the misses section, shirts (down from 3X) and L jammies and workout shorts. My jean size is holding at 16 (again, not 16W but normal old 16) for the time being, but compared to the 22W I was at 16 is fabulous!
Since I was going to be starting regular exercise, I decided to go down to CVS and have a lipid panel done just to see where my numbers were with THM alone so I’d know how much difference was due to dietary changes before exercise when I see the numbers this coming fall at my annual checkup.
My overall numbers were about the same, but my triglycerides were vastly improved, down from 218 mg/dl in October 2015 to 128 mg/dl (less than 150 mg/dl is recommended). While the CVS test did not report my VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) level like the panel from my doctor does, that is often estimated based on triglycerides by dividing the triglyceride level by 5. So, it is fairly safe to assume that my VLDL number would be down too and is probably in the neighborhood of 25-26 mg/dl (less than 30 mg/dl is desirable). The HDL number is headed in the right direction, up to 45 mg/dl from 41, but really needs to come up to 50 mg/dl or above. My doctor and the physician assistant at CVS have both indicated that exercise should help this, so I’m looking forward to seeing what my tests this coming October will show.
Of course there is also the “bad” news of my LDL having gone up and total cholesterol staying steady. Hyperlipidemia/hypercholesterolemia runs in my family as does high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease (my dad had quadruple bypass surgery in 2009 at the age of 62–a mere 20 years from where I am right now), so I am probably considered more at risk for these things, which makes me a little concerned about these numbers. Both my dad’s heart surgeon and the physician’s assistant at CVS said that there isn’t much you can do about sucky (my term, not their’s) genetics. However, these days most people, and even mainstream medical professionals, realize that the total cholesterol number is nearly, if not completely, worthless as an indicator of anything. And, as is the case with most things we hear in the mass media and from mainstream medicine, LDL has been shown to be just a tad more complex than we have been led to believe–starting with the fact that there are four types of LDL that range from harmless to dangerous. For those that want more information on the subject, Men’s Health featured a lengthy article titled Your Unstoppable Heart that offers a very good explanation of the various aspects of your cholesterol profile and what they do and don’t tell you. Additionally, I’d suggest reading LDL Cholesterol: “Bad” Cholesterol, or Bad Science in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Fall 2005. It suggests that LDL cholesterol levels themselves are a poor predictor of risk for coronary heart disease despite what the mainstream medical community has been programmed to say.
You can view a table of my blood test history at Trim Healthy Mama Stats.
6 MONTH PICTURES
I had to change my shirt again because it was too big! See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.
WHAT I’M THINKING
I’ve been eating THM-style for 26 weeks! Half of a year! I originally committed to trying THM for a year to see if it really works. Um, yeah. It really works! In another 26 weeks, I WILL NOT be going back to my old ways! I’m anxiously awaiting being able to get blood test numbers in October. Though that does make be a bit nervous as I hear reports of people who have wildly improved numbers and then others who see no improvement or even worse numbers. It’s hard to believe I eat food this good and will have my numbers improve. I guess time will tell.
Just this past week I upped the ante and started using the Couch to 5k app to train to jog a 5k in September. In late February, I began weekly walks with my sister to get ready to walk a 5k. Very quickly, and surprisingly, we realized that walking 5k was not going to be a problem. I got to thinking that if it wasn’t really a challenge for me to walk one, I needed to “kick it up a notch.”
I also did an updated belly pic. It does appear to be shrinking, of course not as fast as I would like. There is about 15 pounds difference between the January and April photos. There haven’t been any hugely significant changes in my routine in these 3 months. In late February, I started walking once or twice a week to get ready for a 5k in June. I’m talking a 2-3 mile walk once a week and maybe another walk of 1-2 miles (but more often than not, that doesn’t happen). So, hang in there mamas with bellies! It will shrink!
After reading my pH results on beverages, fellow mamas have raised the question: would it be possible to add a pinch of baking soda to Good Girl Moonshine (GGMS) to neutralize the acid to make it safer for dental enamel while still having the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV)? They cite the tip that you can do this with coffee to reduce its acidity. So, as with many things in my life, this pH experiment has sent me down a rabbit hole.
Please note, I am not a nutritional expert by any stretch of the imagination, just curious. I’m a skeptic by nature, and when I hear things like, “The ACV in GGMS will destroy your tooth enamel! Don’t drink it!”, I start thinking, “Is it any worse than Diet Coke or coffee or is it just fact that vinegar is a known acid that has people freaking out?” And then I end up with science experiments in the kitchen with my homeschooled kids. Then people ask more questions and that leads to more digging. I’m sure someone smarter than me can find more concrete evidence and for every piece of evidence I find to validate one perspective, there is one that can be found to back up the opposite claim. For more on that whole thing, see my I Watched a Documentary… post. What you will see here is a summary of a quick hour’s worth of reading I did before church this morning. It is not exhaustive, and there are conflicting viewpoints on ACV and its uses. You will have to judge for yourself what to believe. The core question I am trying to deal with in this post is whether it is the acid in the ACV that provides health benefits because if it is the acidity of it that provides the benefits then adding baking soda to neutralize the acidity will also negate the health benefits.
About the only benefit of ACV that I could find a scientific study to back up was that ACV has an anti-glycemic effect. There was one small study done in Japan that showed a potential connection to ACV consumption and weight loss (ACV users lost 1-2 pounds more than the non-ACV users), but I didn’t come across any in-depth studies published in reputable journals other than that. 1 Now, I am not anti-alternative medicine, but I do need more than “it has been used for centuries to cure xyz condition” as proof of a claimed benefit because, let’s face it, just because it has been used for centuries doesn’t mean it is actually what is doing the curing of xyz condition. Correlation and causation are two different things and we often get them confused. So, ACV may or may not do all the stuff listed at various websites, but there isn’t much out there to backup those claims aside from anecdotal evidence. I have tried to include sources from both the alternative/naturopathic health camp and more conventional Western medicine organizations to cover my bases between various types of mamas, however, the alternative/naturopathic claims often lack evidence or sources to back them up. This means that I can’t say with certainty that their theories on the mechanisms that make ACV effective are indeed accurate or simply educated guesses. Some think the National Institute of Health (NIH) is an arm of the devil himself, while others will only accept NIH endorsed stances. The sources listed here that come from the NIH PubMed website are simply research journal articles that are indexed by the NIH for searching. Keep in mind there are probably elements of truth and myth in both camps.
The problem I am running into in trying to get answers for this question is that there is very little explanation of the science or mechanism of why ACV works for things like stabilizing blood sugars and possibly helping with weight loss and digestive health. Even when there have been scientific studies of ACV, they have only studied the outcomes (i.e. weight loss or lower blood sugar) and haven’t studied the how of those outcomes (i.e. if it’s the acid that is causing the improved health benefit, or the “mother”, or other aspects of the vinegar). They are often reported with phrases like “the researchers suggest…” meaning that scientists are speculating at what about ACV is causing the benefits. I suspect that as more studies are done that show a relationship between ACV use and health benefits, researchers will move on to studying the how. But for now, there are many gaps and unknowns.
What the Evidence Says
That said, my gut feeling (no pun intended) is that it is, at least partially, the acidity of the vinegar that causes some of its benefits—particularly the glycemic effects and weight loss. This was backed up in a research study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled “Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects”, published in April 1995, where researchers noted that white vinegar used as a salad dressing significantly reduced the glycemic response of normoglycemic (non-diabetic, non-hypoglycemic) individuals while neutralized vinegar did not alter the glycemic response. 2
Additionally, a study in the September 2005 edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted a negative linear relationship between the acid level of a meal and the post-meal blood glucose levels (when the meal included more acid, post-meal blood glucose levels were lower). This study also noted that there was a direct linear relationship between the acid level of the meal and the feeling of satiety post-meal. The higher the amount of vinegar consumed with the meal, the longer the person felt full afterward. 3
However, another study in the Journal of Nutrition in March 2000 indicated that there is something about acetic acid (vinegar) that alters the glycemic response that other acids (citric acid and others) don’t do. 4 This does not mean it isn’t the acid of the vinegar that makes it work, just that other acids don’t do the same thing as the acetic acid in vinegar.
Dr. Mercola proposes this about the benefits of the acid in ACV, “One thing that apple cider vinegar is high in is acetic acid. Like other acids, acetic acid can increase your body’s absorption of important minerals from the foods you eat. Therefore, it is possible that drinking a mild tonic of vinegar and water just before meals might improve your body’s ability to absorb the essential minerals locked in foods.” 5
Some have also suggested that ACV helps prevent starch digestion and that those starches in turn will feed the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, but no mechanism for this process was indicated. 1
Something worth noting is that many of the studies noted above, especially the ones available at PubMed, don’t specify apple cider vinegar but just refer to vinegar or acetic acid. This would line up with the idea that it is the acetic acid that is the mechanism behind the benefits noted in those studies, as there is nothing else in white vinegar.
Several articles pointed to recommended doses of ACV. One article indicated 1-2 tablespoons per day was appropriate for medicinal use. 6 Carol Johnston, an Arizona State University veteran ACV researcher for using ACV to help treat diabetes, recommends 1-2 tablespoons in a large glass of water sipped on at meal time once or twice a day is sufficient.1 One thing I did find particularly humorous given my earlier experiment on the pH values of beverages is that several articles and slideshows cautioned against swallowing ACV undiluted due to risk of esophageal burning or erosion.1, 5 Yes, straight up ACV is pungent and acidic, but no more so than a can of regular Coke, which mainstream medical professionals don’t warn people about (or at least they don’t warn them about the burning potential, just the sugar and other junk in it).
Also noted in a couple of articles was the fact that excessive use of vinegar can reduce potassium levels and interfere with diabetes and heart disease medication, diuretics, and laxatives. 5, 6 It did not specify what would be considered excessive use, but probably more than a couple of tablespoons per day. Other articles, however, pointed out that potassium levels could be helped and recommended using ACV to treat nighttime leg cramps. 8 Upon looking into this apparent discrepancy, it appears that ACV with the “mother” contains potassium (11 mg per tablespoon for Bragg’s brand) where distilled vinegar does not contain potassium and would be potassium depleting. Not much of a concern for THMs, as we encourage ACV with the “mother”, but worth noting. As for the reaction with medications, that is sort of a ‘duh’. Anything can cause reactions with medications, and if you take medications, it is wise to consult with a health professional before taking any dietary supplements or using foods in a medicinal capacity on a daily basis.
The Take Away
That really leaves us back where we started, with no definitive answers. There does seem to be some research to support the acid as being the mechanism behind some of the benefits of ACV, particularly the study that found neutralized vinegar did not perform the same as straight vinegar in stabilizing glycemic levels. 2 Given that a major tenant of THM is to keep blood glycemic levels as stable as possible, it would seem that the tendency for ACV to moderate glycemic response to foods would be one of the main benefits Serene and Pearl have looked at in ACV. Since neutralizing the vinegar seems to take away that benefit it would not be recommended to use baking soda in GGMS. However, “Future investigations are needed to delineate the mechanism by which vinegar alters postprandial glycemia.” 7
My recommendation would be for each mama to evaluate her situation. In my case, I do not drink plain water unless it is ICE cold and it is really hard to keep it that cold in a sippy of some kind (my favorite is a Thermos I have but it is too small to hold much). So for me drinking GGMS is a big part of staying hydrated. In that case, mix it as weak as you can and still get the taste you need to be encouraged to sip, use a straw and aim for the roof of the mouth as far back as possible, and consider using a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acid but not the flavor. If you are more wanting the health benefits of glycemic stability, it seems like it might be better to mix 1T with 8-16 oz water and drink that with a meal twice a day (rinse with plain water after just to be sure the acid is not sitting on your teeth, if you’d like) rather than having a sipper.
1 Manning, Joy. “Apple Cider Vinegar and Your Health.” WebMD. Ed. Elaine McGee. WebMD, 01 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
2 Brighenti, F., G. Castellani, L. Benini, M.C. Casiraghi, E. Leopardi, R. Crovetti, and G. Testolin. “Effect of Neutralized and Native Vinegar on Blood Glucose and Acetate Responses to a Mixed Meal in Healthy Subjects.”European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 49.4 (1995): 242-47. PubMed.gov. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7796781>.
3 Östman, E., Y. Granfeldt, L. Persson, and I. Björck. “Vinegar Supplementation Lowers Glucose and Insulin Responses and Increases Satiety After a Bread Meal in Healthy Subjects.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Eur J Clin Nutr 59.9 (2005): 983-88. PubMed.gov. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16015276>.
4 Ogawa, Nobumasa, Hideo Satsu, Hirohito Watanabe, Masahiro Fukaya, Yoshinori Tsukamoto, Yusei Miyamoto, and Makoto Shimizu. “Acetic Acid Suppresses the Increase of Glycosidase Activity During Culture of Caco-2 Intestinal Epithelial Cells.” Journal of Nutrition 130.3 (2000): 507-13. PubMed.gov. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702577>.
5 Mercola, Joseph. “What the Research Really Says About Apple Cider Vinegar.” Mercola.com. N.p., 02 June 2009. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/06/02/apple-cider-vinegar-hype.aspx>.
6 Khakpour, Dorrine. “Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy.” The Whole U. University of Washington, 07 July 2015. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2015/07/07/beyond-the-hype-apple-cider-vinegar-as-an-alternative-therapy/>.
7 Johnston, Carol S., and Cindy A. Gaas. “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect.” Medscape General Medicine 8.2 (2006): 61.PubMed.gov. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/>.
8 “Apple Cider Vinegar: 13+ Health Benefits | Reader’s Digest.” Readers Digest. Ed. Alyssa Jung. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits/>.Adapted from Kitchen Cabinet Cures by Reader’s Digest Publishers.
Many of us are used to sucking on some type of beverage throughout the day–soda, coffee, fruit juice drinks, etc. My drink of choice prior to adopting the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) lifestyle was caffeine-free Diet Pepsi. I would drink 1-2 bottles (24 ounces each) of it per day. The trouble with many of these drinks is that they are loaded with things that are not good for you and are off-plan in terms of THM–namely artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose–or high sugar content, or both. To encourage followers of THM to renounce off-plan beverages like soda and remain hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water, Serene and Pearl have come up with a number of recipes they refer to as sippers. They are flavored waters of sorts that give those of us who don’t do just plain water something to satisfy that water need throughout the day.
One of the sippers is something known as Good Girl Moonshine (GGMS). Despite what the name sounds like, it’s a non-alcoholic drink consisting mainly of water and apple cider vinegar (ACV). New comers to THM see the vinegar in the recipe and often become concerned about the acid’s effect on their teeth. This is a valid concern, and I wondered just how it compared to other common drinks. My hypothesis was that GGMS isn’t any worse for your teeth than soda, but I didn’t have any data to back that up. So, like good homeschooling moms everywhere, I turned it into a science experiment for my kids.
Before we look at the acid level of Good Girl Moonshine in comparison to other common beverages, let’s have a little pH primer science review. pH values always confuse me, so I want to be sure we’re all on the same page.
The pH measures the acidity/alkalinity of substances on a scale of 0 to 14. Pure water falls at 7, or neutral, on the scale. And, generally values from 6-8 are considered neutral. Now for the confusing part. pH numbers lower than 7 indicate increasing acidity (I know, seems backward to me too). A pH number higher than 7 indicates increasing alkalinity. So, battery acid (very acidic) is a 0, while drain cleaner (very basic or alkaline) is a 14.
Acids are sour tasting (but don’t go tasting things to determine their acidity–acids are often poisonous). They also react with bases (or alkaline solutions) to produce water and salts (crystals). Some conduct electricity and some will react with metals and release hydrogen gas during this reaction.
Alkaline substances or bases taste bitter (again, don’t go putting things in your mouth, it’s dangerous). They feel slippery when diluted with water (think soap). Bases can burn skin (again, seems backward to me).
As you can tell, my feeble mind gets all turned around with pH, acids, and bases. First, there is the number scale. Seems to me something more acidic should be a higher number and less acidic should be a lower one, but it’s the opposite. Then, I tend to think of acids as corrosive. And if acids and bases are opposites that would mean bases are not corrosive. On an average day when I haven’t been reading about the pH scale for a blog post, I’d probably tell you bleach and drain cleaner are acids because they’re corrosive. Wrong. They are both bases. Fact is, both acids and bases can be corrosive. Battery acid and bleach are both not something you’d want on your skin. Bottom line, you can’t (and for safety sake don’t want to) use taste, touch, or smell to identify an acid vs. a base. About the only way to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a substance is to use litmus paper or an electronic pH meter.
So, now that we’ve all relived junior high science class and have the basic gist of pH, let’s get down to business.
We started out by selecting a variety of common beverages consumed by both followers of THM and the general public. Please note, several of these are NOT on-plan for THM (noted with an *). The off-plan ones were included for reference, to put things in perspective, if you will.
Mamas will also notice that we did not test Singing Canary. The reason we were unable to test that was lack of ingredients to make it and the significant amount of time needed in preparation. I would imagine that it would be more, possibly significantly more, acidic than GGMS due to the lemon juice being more acidic than ACV.
The recipes for GGMS and Shrinker were made exactly according the the recipes found in the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook. We used the maximum amount when ingredients were listed with a range (i.e. when 1-2 tablespoons of ACV was specified, we used 2 tablespoons). For the water in both the GGMS and Shrinker we used distilled water to help ensure it was as neutral as possible. The coffee and oolong tea were brewed with unfiltered tap water, which where we live is slightly more alkaline than distilled water. I believe this accounts for the difference between our coffee being a pH of 7 and most reference lists I could find on the web listing black coffee as being a 5.
The tests were conducted by dipping universal indicator pH test strips in the liquids and immediately reading the color in comparison with the color reference included with the test strips.
Our Test Results
True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Filtered Tap Water
*NOT on-plan for THM
I do have to say, I wasn’t terribly surprised by any of the results, except perhaps the coffee. Though again, the coffee was brewed with unfiltered tap water, which where we live is slightly more alkaline than distilled water and that may account for the difference between our coffee being a pH of 7 and most reference lists I could find on the web listing black coffee as being a 5.
Good Girl Moonshine is slightly less acidic than soda and many juices, in line with my original hypothesis that it isn’t any more dangerous to teeth than soda. It isn’t a whole lot better, but it isn’t worse. Of course, this will vary depending on how strong a person mixes their GGMS and if they add any other things to it like True Lemon mixes or flavoring extracts. It is also important to consider your personal dental health when selecting beverages. Just like high cholesterol levels, some individuals are more prone to tooth problems due to genetics, poor dental hygiene practices early in life, excessive fluoridation prior to 6 years of age, smoking or prior smoking/smokeless tobacco, etc. My husband grew up in an area where the water was excessively fluoridated and has soft enamel, pitting, and mottling of his teeth (fluorosis) which makes him more prone to tooth problems. For people with a predisposition to tooth problems, it is important to carefully evaluate what is appropriate for their individual circumstances.
The bottom line is that the greater the acidity (the lower the pH number), the more dangerous there is to your tooth enamel. From a tooth perspective, it is better to drink Shrinker than GGMS. However, you don’t need to give up GGMS completely. There are a few things you can do to minimize the risk without throwing the GGMS out with the soda.
- Use a straw. Even better, use a straw and aim for the roof of your mouth as far back as you can. By using a straw you will minimize the contact the GGMS makes with your teeth.
- Mix your GGMS weaker. I mix mine “full strength” (4 tablespoons ACV to 2 quarts water), but going with the lower amount of 2 tablespoons of ACV will lessen the acidity of the GGMS and still give you health benefits.
- Do a GGMS “shot” once a day rather than mixing as a sipper. You can use 1-2 tablespoons of ACV and drink it as you would a shot followed by drinking a glass of water to rinse your mouth.
- Rinse with water after each sip of GGMS. This would require lugging two mugs around (one with GGMS and one with water), so it might not be the best solution for some.
- Do NOT brush your teeth immediately after drinking either GGMS sipper or a GGMS shot. I know it seems backward from what you’d think would be recommended, but brushing after drinking something acidic actually does more damage than good. The acid weakens the enamel and then the abrasiveness of brushing the softened enamel will cause more harm.
I hope this has helped other mamas be able to make wise choices about the incorporation of sipper drinks into their THM lifestyle.
Seriously folks, they put SUGAR in salt!?!?! Never even would have checked ingredients on it if it weren’t for my 11-year-old who reads EVERYTHING.
Perhaps the major principle of Trim Healthy Mama is nixing sugar and its many high glycemic-index (GI) cousins from your diet. It all seems very straight forward, until you start reading food labels and discovering just how many things sugar is added to. Things you would never suspect–canned kidney beans, chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, …salt.
1. The actual amount of sugar (dextrose in this case) in a serving of salt has got to be tiny. I’m not advocating becoming so obsessed with tiny amounts of off-plan stuff that pretty much everything not grown by yourself becomes off-plan. You can go overboard on label reading and avoiding off-plan items (I know purists would probably disagree) to the point of being in even more of a food prison than you started out in. However, that said, you do have to be aware that using several things that have tiny amounts in them can become one big amount and can become an issue (especially for us Drive-Thru Sues) that affects your THM journey.
2. There are THM no-nos (not just sugar, but that is the biggest offender) hidden in many things you would never even think to check…and in places you can’t check–like the food you order at a restaurant that doesn’t come with an ingredients list.
3. It is also important to recognize that sugar goes by many names. Its alias list is longer than some FBI files. Here are just a few of its alter egos:
- Agave nectar
- Cane juice
- Cane sugar
- Carob syrup
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Date sugar
- Fruit juice
- The list goes on and on…
There are some 56 names for sugar. Even worse, once word gets out that consumers have caught on to a name for sugar and start avoiding it, the food industry simply petitions the FDA to allow them to change its name. There have been reports of proposals to change the name of ‘high fructose corn syrup’ to just ‘corn sugar’, ‘HFCS-90’, or ‘isolated fructose’ which, in theory, would give food manufacturers the ability to label foods as “Does not contain high fructose corn syrup”. In 2012 the FDA ruled that high fructose corn syrup could NOT use the term ‘corn sugar’ instead, but I have not been able to find definitive proof (all I can find are natural food blogs, and I am reluctant to call them reliable channels of news as they often promote half-truths or out right myths and propaganda) that the other changes have occurred, but I don’t doubt they have been talked about.
In the case of Trim Healthy Mamas, it is not just high fructose corn syrup you have to be vigilant for. ALL forms of sugar are considered off-plan and natural sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, and erythritol should be used instead. This ban on sugar includes organic sugars, honey, and cane sugars. The emphasis in THM is not on the “purity” of the sugar (i.e. its organic or non-GMO status) but on the glycemic index of sugars and, in that regard, organic sugar is just as bad for you as non-organic sugar. High GI foods cause a spike in blood sugar immediately after eating them, then your blood sugar rapidly plummets, and your body’s metabolism and hunger hormones take a beating causing a vicious cycle of spike-crash-crave-feed-spike-crash-crave-feed…lather, rinse, repeat. Your goal is to keep that blood sugar level as steady as possible be avoiding high GI foods.
So, what’s a “mama” to do? Gotta check those labels. Make sure you are checking the INGREDIENTS list and not the NUTRITION FACTS section of the label. You do not want added sugars in the ingredients list. Often times there are naturally occurring sugars that will cause the nutrition label to have sugar grams listed. We are mainly worried about what is in the ingredients list.
In the case of the pictured salt, I would use it. Like I said, in my opinion, there is such a thing as too vigilant. Purists would disagree, and I respect their personal THM/food convictions and would ask them to respect mine. Each mama has to find her personal balance of how much off-plan she is willing to allow. For the grand majority of my salting needs, I use Himalayan mineral salt, which usually doesn’t contain dextrose (I’ve never seen it contain it anyway, but it is important to check just in case). In other things, chicken broth or spaghetti sauce for instance, it’s more important to avoid those hidden sugars by finding items that don’t contain them. I know it can be hard, but the results are worth it.
IT FITS! MY WEDDING RING FITS AGAIN!
I’m not even really sure how many years it has actually been since it last fit, but I know it has been at least 10 years.
5 MONTH PICTURES
WHAT I’M THINKING
If you don’t feel like anything is happening, buy a belt. Seriously folks, this is a two month time frame! My belt went to the last hole easily today. Leather stretches with wear, but not 3-ish inches in 2 months.
Almost 5 short months ago, I was where you might be right now. A friend at Bible study had talked about Trim Healthy Mama a little bit. I had bought and started reading the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book, and I was about to jump off the cliff. I had no idea what I was doing, but the alternative was not pretty. In the months since taking the plunge, I’ve watched other new THMs navigate their first few weeks and the same sorts of things come up over and over. Here are what I think are the 10-ish main things to keep in mind.
NOTE: All page and chapter numbers referenced here are from the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book that is pictured here and available at many local book and discount stores, like Barnes & Noble, Target, and WalMart, and at Amazon.com.
1. Trim Healthy Mama is NOT a quick weight loss program
It’s actually not a weight loss program at all but a healthy way of eating for life. Yes, you will hear stories of people who lose 20 pounds in their first month, but you may not, and likely will not, be one of them. A healthy weight loss rate is considered to be 1-2 pounds per week and not a “turtle” loser or slow loss. You are going to feel tons better even before you start seeing results. I kid you not, just reading the book alone I felt 10 pounds lighter. And those first few weeks on plan I’d be sitting in bed reading a book and swear I could actually feel myself shrinking. Keep at it! Slow and steady wins the race!
2. Read the book
You have to really READ the book. Don’t just skim it. Gwen’s Nest has a handy Quick Start Guide that is a helpful study guide, but there is just no way around having to read the book yourself. If you don’t know the core concepts, it will be hard to be successful over the long term when real life hits.
3. Don’t read the whole book.
Yes, I know, I just told you to read the book and now I’m telling you to skip part of it. However, Trim Healthy Mama takes a while to completely digest (no pun intended) and some chapters will cause beginners to create excessive complications that will hinder progress. You don’t need to know about numbers (see point #6-Don’t Count Anything below) or the nuances of various types of S meals at this point. Stick with the basics.
Read Chapters 1-9 in the plan book.
Do NOT read Chapter 10. Don’t read this chapter until you’ve been on-plan awhile—I would actually recommend never reading it (sorry Serene and Pearl). If you can’t convince yourself it’s okay to skip the whole chapter, just read pp. 85-86 up to the “Numbers for S Meals” heading and stop. It explains why numbers can be a problem. See also #6-Don’t count anything below.
Skip Chapters 10-28.
Read Chapter 29 – Exercise. This will give you info on why it’s a bad idea to start THM and a new exercise program at the same time. If you have been exercising for several weeks or months or longer before THM, keep at it. Just don’t start THM and join a gym in the same month.
Start by using recipes from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook (if you get it) or blogs like Gwen’s Nest, Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen, and Briana Thomas and use the food lists from the book(s). Pair S foods with other S foods or FP foods. Pair E foods with other E foods or FP foods. Stay simple. Don’t overthink it. The more you cook other people’s recipes, the more you’ll figure out how foods go together and you’ll be able to start tweaking other things to fit THM. If you haven’t yet, join the THM Facebook Group. You will learn a lot of valuable information just by reading the questions of others and asking your own questions. Be warned though, this group moves fast and you may want to adjust your FB settings so you don’t get all its posts in your newsfeed.
Once you have a good grasp of E, S, FP and are comfortable, you can go back and read the rest of the book (including Chapter 10, if you want).
4. You don’t need to buy THM products or join the THM paid membership site to make the plan work
The plan won’t work any better if you buy THM branded products. It is not like Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, etc. where the whole idea is to make money off you by requiring or strongly suggesting that the program will work better if you buy the program’s products. You do need a few special things like an on-plan sweetener, on-plan flour(s), and coconut oil, but most of these things can be found at your local grocery store.
THM has also launched a paid membership site that has premium content such as how-to videos, articles, a menu builder, some pre-made menus, live chat, and forums. It is pretty reasonably priced–starting at less than $0.30/day, however, purchasing a membership is not going to make the plan work any better for you. The only thing that will make the plan work for you is you learning the principles and making a serious effort. Things offered at the site may be helpful for you (many mamas say the menu builder is a huge time saver for them), but they are not necessary to be effective.
5. Don’t weigh for AT LEAST 6 weeks
Weigh and measure yourself when you start. Also take before pictures. You don’t have to share them with anyone, but you’ll be glad you did after a few months. Now, here’s the big tip. Do NOT weigh yourself again for AT LEAST 6 weeks! The number on the scale only tells you your gravitational pull to earth. I like to think of it as how much the earth loves you. It has no relation to your worth as a person, what size jeans you wear, or even how healthy you are. Same goes for doctors’ beloved BMI. The flaw in BMI is that it is based on weight and since weight doesn’t tell you anything, BMI is worthless as well. It takes a significant amount of time—several weeks–to get comfortable and confident eating the THM way, and if you aren’t seeing the scale do what you want it to in those first few weeks, chances of getting frustrated and giving up are great. Stress also signals your body to hold on to weight. Just fight the urge and don’t do it! You’ll feel the changes and see them in how your clothes fit. Be patient and trust me on this one.
6. Don’t count anything. Not calories. Not carbs. Not fats. Not points.
This is part of that skipping Chapter 10 thing I mentioned above. When THM was originally written, it was written without numbers. The numbers were added in response to some people from traditional weight loss diet backgrounds feeling like they needed numbers. However, after spending 4 months at the THM Facebook page, I’ve seen too many people get so wrapped up in the numbers that meal time and snacks become a big math problem. My personal philosophy is that numbers are just another food prison we can put ourselves into. You can’t sustain counting for life. If you go by the S, E, and FP food lists in the book and maintain reasonable portion sizes, you don’t need to count.
7. FP foods are not freebies
This is a myth I see a lot on the THM Facebook Group page. They are not “freebies” that can be snacked on at any time. Yes, they are low-calorie, low-carb, and low-fat, but doing low-calorie all day will cause low-level fueling or fuel stacking and slow weight loss. The idea is to fill your “gas tank” with calories and then give it time to burn off those calories (and hopefully some more in the process). If you are constantly eating or drinking calories (even small amounts of them) your body is never going to run out of calories and won’t need to go to the backup calories (fat stores) you want to lose. You should wait at least 2-1/2 hours between each meal and/or snack (pp. 79-80).
8. If you don’t like a food, you don’t have to eat it
You eat real food that you like and just pair it as outlined in the book. Don’t like Greek yogurt? No problem. Don’t eat it. There are plenty of other things to eat. Personally, I do not do diet food. No smoothies, no frappas, no trimmies, no yogurt (aside from plain in recipes where it is hidden), no shakes, no Quest bars, no bullet proof coffee, etc. I don’t use protein powder or collagen powder except in recipes that call for it. I eat out at fast food places 3 times a week. I am not advocating that as something everyone should do (I shouldn’t even do it), but that is something that I choose to have in my life and with the better choices of THM principles (like no buns and no fries) I have been able to lose 25 lbs, 2-3 jean sizes, and 2-3 shirt sizes in 4 months. If THM required me to completely give up fast food or eating out and said I had to eat yogurt and salad, I would never have even tried it. There are some things that you do just have to flat out give up, but there are many good alternatives (don’t even get me started on spaghetti squash–way yummier than pasta and so good for you).
9. Stop whining
This point may hit a little too close to home for some and they’ll likely label me a first class word that rhymes with witch. However, I’m big on being real and calling ‘em like I see ‘em. If you look back to my 1 month progress post, you’ll see me whine too. I speak from experience and self-reflection.
The two most common refrains are “Why isn’t the scale moving/moving faster!” and “This is just too much work and you have to buy all these special ingredients!”. You didn’t get fat overnight, so why do you expect to get skinny overnight? Yes, THM takes time and effort. You have to reframe how to think about food and be honest with yourself about what you’re really eating—and what’s eating you. You have to actually cook, at least a couple times a week anyway. As for special ingredients, see #4 above. This idea of “I’m entitled to quick, easy, and painless” is a big part of why our culture is fat in the first place. How bad do you want it? You’ll invest your time, energy, and money in what is important to you. So how important is this to you?
10-ish. Trim Healthy Mama is NOT a weight loss program
Yep, I said it again–thus the 10-ish. If you are looking for quick weight loss without having to think much, THM is not for you. If you need a program that tells you what to eat, when to eat it, and how much of it to eat, either by providing prepackaged food or having you count something (fat, carbs, points, calories), THM is not for you. I am not trying to discourage you from trying THM, but I want you to go into it with eyes wide open.
If you treat THM like a weight loss diet, you will fail. Why? Because when real life creeps in (or smacks you upside the head, as it often does) your “diet” will fall by the wayside and the weight will come back. To be successful, you need to train yourself to eat a different way and a way that you can sustain for life—through vacations, funerals of loved ones, working 60 hours a week, chasing toddlers, driving the mom taxi, and all the other assorted stuff life will throw at you.
THM has done wonders for my Mario Kart racing! I’m thinking it’s the shrinking belly! Or I just got lucky against my 10 yo tonight!
Down to only 3 hooks on the back of my bra!
4 MONTH PICTURES
WHAT I’M THINKING
It’s been a tough month! You’ll notice I started posting my weight numbers in the chart above despite my initially saying I wouldn’t be doing that. I do weigh every day and hopefully soon I will have an entry about why I do that and why it is a bad idea. However, I decided to add it to help myself and others see what I look like in relation to what I weigh and how what the scale says might not be what is seen (either for better or worse). I believe I experienced my first stall. And while it was brief compared so some, it threw me for a loop for a few weeks. Since I’m down around 25 pounds–October weight is an estimate–it was time for my body to step back and do what is sometimes referred to as a reset or stall. I made it to less than 200 pounds at the end of January and then hovered in the 198-199 neighborhood for a couple weeks. I moved down to a few days of 197 and even a day of 196 and then over four days time went back up to 200. A variety of factors probably contributed to this water gain–an off-plan meal of sushi and ovulation being a couple of them–but it freaked me out and I will admit I started panicking. I am terrified that this is all a dream and I’ll be like Cinderella and end up back at 225 pounds in a hollowed out pumpkin with mice as friends at midnight. It sounds irrational, but I did have a flat tire on my vehicle during one of those days, so you can see why I was one step away from rodents as companions in my mind. The 198-200 lasted again for another week and then it resumed dropping. I still lost inches for the month and have moved down a size in jeans so the scale doesn’t have the whole story here. But, I hope that is it for this stall/reset. I also had a HUGE non-scale victory yesterday! My 10-year-old came up to me and gave me a hug and said, “You feel skinny!” Made my day!
My 10 yo, whose arms are just at waist height on me, just hugged me and said, “You feel skinny!”
1. <some food product> is one molecule away from <some horrible poison>
or a variation on this such as:
<some food product> is chemically similar to <some horrible poison>
<some food product> is used in making <some inedible/toxic product>
2. It’s natural, so it’s safe
3. If you can’t read all the ingredients on the package, don’t eat it.
4. Do your own research
Let me start by saying, many times I actually agree with the underlying conclusion—i.e. that one should eat foods as close to their natural state as possible or that a natural sweetener is better than an artificial one. My beef (no pun intended) with these statements is that they are not logically sound (yes, Data is my favorite StarTrek character) and make healthy eaters appear to be fanatic cult members.
Chemical Similarity is Irrelevant
Using the logic that something is chemically similar to known poisons is not proof that it is bad or even relevant at all. Water and hydrogen peroxide are chemically similar (H2O vs. HO). One I will drink and require to live. The other, not a good idea to drink in large quantities. One molecule, or even one atom, difference can mean a lot in terms of safety. The oxygen we need to live is a molecule containing two oxygen atoms. Ozone, on the other hand, is a molecule containing three oxygen atoms and is dangerous to breathe. So, even if margarine is one molecule away from plastic, that isn’t a valid argument that it is bad for you. A more compelling argument that you should avoid margarine is that it often contains high amounts of trans fat, which will lower high density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and that results in higher low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and this may increase your risk for heart disease.
The “Natural = Safe” Fallacy
The justifications of “it’s natural” and “it’s plant based” for foods or supplements being safe is not legitimate either. There are many things that are natural or plant-based that are not safe: tomato leaves, rhubarb leaves, opium, hemlock. oleander, some varieties of mushrooms, poison ivy, just to name a few. The phrase “too much of a good thing” exists for a reason. Nothing is completely safe and too much of anything can be harmful. So, let’s see the “natural” label and its cousins for what they are, marketing hype.
Another popular mantra in the healthy eating world is to refuse to consume anything that contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce. And, on the surface, this is great advice. Eating whole foods—foods that have been minimally processed—is wise. However, once you think about this a little, a small problem develops. Everything has multiple names or labels. Sodium chloride = table salt. Sodium bicarbonate = baking soda. Aspartame = Equal. Sucralose = Splenda. Dihydrogen monoxide. Sounds scary, right? You know it by another name, water. Things can be renamed according to their chemical makeup. Plants and animals are often referred to using Latin-based binomial nomenclature, turning a lemon into Citrus × limon. Just because a name for something is not readily pronounceable doesn’t mean it is “bad” for you. Just because you can pronounce something doesn’t mean it’s “good” for you. I can pronounce antifreeze, but if I see it on the label of a food, I’m not going to eat it.
Googling is Not Research
What seems to be the final defense of many people touting sensational food claims is “do your own research.” This is often used when opposing view points are questioning the hype rather than just jumping on the bandwagon. They’ll tell their challengers to “do your own research” as a polite way of saying “la la la, can’t hear you!” because they don’t want to even entertain the possibility they have fallen for a myth or propaganda. People say they have “done their own research” when what they have done is googled the topic, read a few blogs on it, watched a “documentary”, and decided to believe the ones that agree with the preconceived notion that led them to google the topic to begin with. That is not research. It is a form of confirmation bias and is nothing more than finding internet information (often in the form of propaganda and myths) to support what one already believes is true. Research is reading the actual scientific studies themselves, not what others say about the study. Because for every article that says something is okay, there is one saying it will kill you. And ultimately, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
There are “documentaries” and blogs/websites by “professionals” out there that are pretty convincing that various foods are going to kill us all. Some of them even target currently popular natural things like stevia. There is also a lot of “research” that says these same things are perfectly safe. The “documentaries” and blogs are produced by people and groups that are convinced that anything not grown organically by oneself, or that has been processed at all, is dangerous and the end of civilization. The “research” is often funded by companies with a vested interest in “research” turning out a certain way—making them/their product/their cause look good or making a competitor/opposing cause look bad—or entities (government, universities, etc.) that have been paid by those companies (in the forms of lobby, grants, etc.).
I am at the point where I believe no information any more. Research and statistics can be manipulated. Often, the research merely shows and association between two or more things, but the mass media picks it up and reports it as if a causation has been established. The internet and relatively cheap technology make it possible for anyone to make a “documentary” with a few thousand dollars or launch a website that looks pretty professional. Do research, but also think critically. Don’t just look for the sound bites that agree with what you already believe. You haven’t made an informed opinion unless you’ve seriously looked at all sides of an issue without bias.
Eating in response to the stresses of life and making food choices based on “margarine is one molecule away from plastic” hype are equally forms of food bondage. One of the main tenants of Trim Healthy Mama is that it offers food freedom through sustainable healthy eating choices. You cannot have food freedom if your food choices are tied to emotions. Emotional eating is not only tied to things we are dealing with such as death, divorce, job stress, marriage trouble, money trouble, sadness, frustration, and joy. Another very valid area of emotional eating is making food decisions based on fads, hype, sound bites, and junk science. It is important to weigh statements about food safety and selection with a logical, not an emotional, mind. Evaluating food safety from an emotional point of view allows you to be easily swayed when the next fad or hype headline comes along or easily give up your healthier ways because you don’t really understand or believe the why behind the decision. Looking at the whole picture of a particular food will allow you to make a reasonable choice about its place in your diet.
Another term, along with Good Girl Moonshine, that THMs probably don’t want their children to repeat at school: “Mom has another notch in her belt!” I bought this belt at the beginning of January. I started out in the hole that is 3rd on the right. Today it went comfortably to the hole just before the smallest.
Diet season is starting to wind down—you know, the New Year’s resolution period in January where everyone starts out in the gym and on a diet. It’s pushing February now and the resolutions are going out the window and people are falling off the wagon. I watch a lot of daytime TV. Well, watch isn’t really the right word. The television is on most of the day at my house while we go about our business. Anyway, I’ve noticed weight loss commercials have seasons too. Right now we’re still in the New Year’s resolution season with them, but soon they will switch to “Get in shape for swimsuit season.” And this year with all the NutriSystem, Medi-Fast, Jenny Craig, and diet pill commercials, Oprah has again entered the diet fray with Weight Watchers. What some people may not know about this is that she now owns ten percent of the Weight Watchers company. Many Trim Healthy Mamas have mused that Oprah really should try THM because she could really be successful on it and turn it into a sensation like she does with so many things. As a THM myself, I don’t believe she’d be successful with it and honestly rather she stay away from it. Yes, Oprah often turns things to gold, but Serene and Pearl haven’t needed any help from highly paid celebrities (or highly paid anybody) turning THM into a sensation thus far because THM works, if you’re willing to get real.
The thing with Oprah is, how many times over the last 30 years have we seen her take it off and then 5 years later be right back where she started—or worse? Remember her liquid diet phase? How unhealthy is that?!?! Remember when she pulled a child’s wagon onto the stage with the 67 pounds of fat she’d lost in it? Remember when she said on air that she was done bringing up her weight on the show? Because of her public persona and wealth, she has or has had a chef cook all her meals, hired personal trainers, and consulted both physical and mental health gurus for years. Many of the people she has hired or consulted have gone on to stardom themselves (Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Bob Greene). But there is something else, that is not weight related, that is fundamentally missing in her life and she’ll continue to battle the weight until she gets that part of herself straightened out.
I know she says and thinks she has the missing part figured out with as much as she talks about spirituality, but trust me, she doesn’t. I’m not proselytizing. Yes, I am a Christian. And as a Christian, I believe a relationship with Jesus Christ is critical. However, there are plenty of Christians who are unhappy with their weight and discontent with their bodies. And, there are plenty of non-Christians who are healthy and content in their unbelief. I do not think Oprah is one of them. I think she grasps as straws trying to find the “answer” to her weight problem and those answers always come up empty because nothing about her changes except for her dress size (not her heart, not her mind, not her habits). Many who follow Trim Healthy Mama came to THM because of a weight issue and in the process have learned so much more about themselves that can’t be measured by a scale–emotional eating, how the human body works, the highly addictive drug/poison that is sugar, self-worth, sending guilt packing, good eating habits. As someone with weight problems and body issues, I have had to take a long, hard, honest look about everything I put in my mouth and how closely I’m really following THM principles. If you’re not willing to get real with yourself, THM (or any other diet/eating program) is not going to work. Oprah goes to people who have the science figured out and then has hired help spoon feed her rather than learning underlying principles herself and taking them to heart. If she did try THM, she would likely pay Serene and Pearl a lot of money to consult with her and her staff privately, probably pay to help “launch” them into a big business with Oprah getting part ownership or royalties for her “help” (and probably strip THM down to the very algorithm Serene and Pearl caution against in the numbers chapter of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book and of the real life aspect of THM that current mamas know and love), and then have her staff put these Oprah-fied THM principles into practice as they manage the little details of her life so she doesn’t have to bother with it herself. Do you really think Oprah herself decides what she’s going to have for a snack? Or, despite what her Twitter and Facebook pics may appear to show, that she is really in her kitchen prepping her meals and snacks? You can tell a lot about what a person really believes by how they behave, not by what they say they believe. So, until she’s ready to take a good, long, hard look at what it is in herself that is causing this cycle to repeat for her, she’s going to keep going around the same mountain. When she realizes that it’s not the weight or money that matters, she’ll be able to put the weight issue to rest, whether skinny or fat, once and for all.
Today was a bleh day. I weighed the same as yesterday (I’m a daily weigher) but pants were tighter and I just felt bloated. But this afternoon when I picked my DD up from horse time, my friend that owns the horses came over and asked if I had lost weight. She said it looked like I “had dropped a lot of weight.” I have only seen her a couple times since I started THM in October, and she didn’t even know I’ve been doing THM. Made my day!
This month I still took after pics in my original clothes, but I am switching to some tighter fitting clothing. The original clothes are getting too big (or I guess the right way to say that would be that I’m getting too small) to really see much of a difference. So, the top two sets of pictures are both from today and the bottom set is my original pics. The original pants are 3X–and a little baggy even at the start–and the new one XL! I’ve gone from a size 22W jeans to an 18. The shirts are the same size–2X–but obviously different fit (the new one is microfiber and fitted for exercise, which I’m still not doing).
3 MONTH PICTURES
WHAT I’M THINKING
I was kind of bummed to find out my waist INCREASED by 1/2″ but who knows what is going on there with gas, water weight, etc. so I’m not going to stress it for now. I posted about the belly thing earlier this week. If my double chin would get better, that would be nice. Oh well, in time, I guess.
The pic on the left was on 1/7, the pic on the right was yesterday (1/21). 14 days and I can see more of the seat! The jeans probably make a little difference but I don’t think they could do that much because they are not tight on me. I wasn’t even sure I had lost inches this month. Guess I have!
I can’t believe I’m going to post this photo.
This is a side view of my belly. No, I’m not pregnant. It just looks like I’m 9 months pregnant. Most of this doesn’t feel like fat. If I tighten my abdominal muscles, there is very little squishy fat on top of them. I look like I’m ballooned up all the time. I’m worried that I’m going to look like this forever, even when I’m skinny! What I feel like does not match up with what I see in the mirror. When I get up in the morning the top of my belly isn’t as big, but as soon as I eat something, anything, it puffs up and stays that way the remainder of the day. I do not feel gassy or uncomfortable, I just look like the Goodyear Blimp. Not only did I post the pic here, but I posted it at the THM Facebook group. I got a lot of suggestions about what could be going on from fibroids to leaky gut to visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat. I do have chronic constipation (a little TMI, I know, but this blog is about honesty not being PC). I have struggled with slow bowels all my life and I do wonder how much they contribute to my belly weight. With THM I am eating more veggies than I ever have and still no change. I have added a probiotic, flaxseed oil capsule, and a magnesium supplement in hopes of helping things to move along better and maybe it will help the “baby belly” too. If it remains distended until my annual physical appointment in October, I’ll have my doctor look into it.
My belly button is shrinking! I have an innie, and it’s less in than it used to be and getting smaller around! I know, I’m weird!
When I first heard about Trim Healthy Mama, I was pretty sure that it was going to be one of those diets that people talk about how wonderful it is, how easy it is, and how much weight they’d lost and then I’d read the book and discover a bait and switch where it was marketed as a simple, easy food plan but was really another “follow these steps exactly or it won’t really work” plan. And I was pretty certain the first thing that would be demanded for success would be exercise. At least an hour a day, every day. The sentence would go something like this, “While applying the eating rules given, you will be on your way to health, exercise is a vital component of establishing a healthy lifestyle and maintaining long term weight loss.” Imagine my surprise when I read chapter 29 in the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book and was told NOT to exercise for at least several weeks or months after starting THM. They even came right out and said that the THM way of eating will work on its own without exercise. It’s not that they are discouraging being active, but that they are encouraging being sane. So now that I’ve been following the THM way of eating for almost 3 months, it’s probably time for me to find some sane exercise.
However, I’ll be completely honest, I don’t know if I will ever exercise. The reason is this, just as with diet, I believe a person’s exercise regimen needs to be something they can maintain throughout their life, and I don’t see me doing any kind of exercise long term. Let me count the ways I’ve failed at exercise. For almost 10 years, we had an air walker.
It’s main function was as a clothes dryer—we hung damp clothing and rugs and such on it to air dry. We have a recumbent stationary bike in the basement, don’t use it. I’ve tried walking our dog once a day, don’t stick with it. Tried outdoor bike riding, don’t stick with it. As soon as there is an excuse to skip a day (i.e. pouring rain), I skip and then never do it again. I ordered T-Tapp, and like the theory, but don’t know if I will ever use it because I seriously don’t know if I have the mind power and coordination to do it. It’s hard to see how you’re supposed to move when you’re looking at the floor but the TV the DVD is playing on is on the fireplace mantel. By the time I figure out how to get myself somewhat into the position, Teresa isonto the next move. And, given my track record, I don’t really think I would stick with it. Because here’s the honest-to-goodness truth, I HATE exercise!
Everyone says, “just do it and after a while you’ll feel great about it.” The thing is I hate it so much that I don’t stick with it long enough to learn to like it. My body just doesn’t like to move. I hate the way exercise makes me feel. I overheat easily. All I feel after even a 15 minute walk is, “please give me that 15 minutes back so I can do something I actually enjoy.” All exercise is misery for me. My sister is a runner and keeps trying to get me to do a 5K with her saying, “we’ll just walk it,” thinking the reason I don’t want to is because of the running. To me even walking it sounds like torture. My whole life I’ve been called lazy, and I’m willing to believe that is part of it, but I really think there is a lot more to it physiologically than that. My body does not like to stand or have my limbs any further away from it than about 6″.
I just can’t seem to break this stronghold regarding exercise. I’ve had 1-2 pound loss per week success just eating the THM way, but I know my loss would be faster if I exercised. I just can’t make myself do it though. One to two pounds a week might just have to be fast enough for now.
I can see the seat of the car! I felt like the seat was too far back when I was driving and looked down to discover it wasn’t the seat at all but the fact my belly is smaller making me feel too far away from the wheel.
I have to buy a belt to hold up the new pants I bought only 3 weeks ago.
I’m not even sure what to say about this series of pictures. During our family Christmas gathering, I was walking through my mother’s kitchen and noticed the left most picture hanging on my mom’s refrigerator. It was my school staff ID photo taken in the fall of 2013. I was horrified at how fat my face looked. So, I pulled out my driver’s license. That was taken in the fall of 2014. Then, I grabbed my phone and looked at a picture from July of this year. Curious, I took a selfie. I have only been following THM for two months, but was blown away by the difference in my face. There have been some changes in the rest of my body and on the scale, but I just can’t believe how different my face looks!
I HAVE to go underwear shopping! I guess when you lose 2-3 pant sizes it makes sense. I’ve been enduring baggy ones but it is getting to the point of annoying with them falling down and bunching up in my pants!
It’s my 2 month trimmaversary today!
2 MONTH PICTURES
WHAT I’M THINKING
Much better over my 1 month when I felt like there was no change despite better measurements and weight. Of course, going shopping last weekend and fitting comfortably into a size 18 jeans (started out in 22W/24W) helped me really feel the changes the tape measure shows. I could get 16s on and buttoned but the button was stressed so 18 it is…for now. I also had to buy new underwear (talk about a NSV–non-scale victory)!
Merry Christmas to me! Size 18 Old Navy! I’m still fluffy but 2-3 sizes less so!
Here are the pants I came to the mall in.
I noticed tonight that the space between my belly and the steering wheel is getting bigger. Probably the only reason I noticed is because my oldest is learning to drive so she drives a lot instead of me. My goal is to get in after she’s driven and not have to move the seat back because my belly doesn’t fit (I’ll still have to move it because I don’t like my legs being that bent while driving).
Wow, I’m getting really serious! I actually took the time to write down my non-scale goals for the next year.
And then I went even further and bought a goal! I saw these cute Snoopy jammies in the store, but they were out of my size. So what did I do? I bought the size on my goal list! I am now the proud owner of a size L jammies. I may not wear them this winter, I may not wear them next winter, but I’m going to wear them!
My undies are getting baggy!
This won’t seem huge to some people but it is big for me. Since starting THM I have been ordering side salads with my McDonald’s meals rather than fries (and not eating the bun with the sandwich). But I always grab 6 fries right away (I deliberately count 6) from our family pile and eat only those with the rationalization that 6 fries are better than a medium box full, and I’ve been satisfied just having 6. Today we had lunch at McDonald’s, and I didn’t take any fries! I didn’t even make a conscious decision or effort to not take any, I just didn’t! I didn’t even notice I hadn’t until we were almost done eating.
A couple days ago DH commented that my leggings were getting baggy. Today, he had his hands on my upper arms to give me a quick kiss and he starts rubbing them and goes, “Your arms are getting skinnier. You’re just disappearing everywhere! I love it!”
So, today’s the day I’ve both been looking forward to and dreading picture day. Today is my one month trimaversary of following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating. The numbers are:
*I’m not sure of the accuracy of this. It seems to good to be true, and I suspect that a month ago I went over my “pooch” and this time went under so there might not have been much real change. I have short term memory loss and can’t remember for very long how I did things.
1 Month Pictures
What I’m Thinking
The numbers look okay. My clothes feel looser. BUT, the pictures aren’t showing it. I kind of feel like crying. Okay, I am crying.
My clothes being looser was so encouraging and to see nothing visually is just a huge blow. I know, I know. Everyone is different. I’m healing on the inside. It takes time. Slow and steady wins the race. They are all things I’ve told myself and others on THM. But really they all just sound like platitudes and head pats for someone who is failing yet again and people don’t have the guts to honestly tell them so. I know it works for lots of people, but I’m just not that blessed/lucky ever. Yep, I eat out (on-plan mostly) 3 times a week and don’t exercise (and I don’t see that ever changing), so I’m probably doomed to fail because of my choices. But really, would it have been too much to ask for something to just work for me once without having to work 3 times as hard at it as others? I’ve committed to THM for a year though to see just what happens when I implement it in a way that works for me–I eat out/fast food 3 times a week (remaining mostly on plan) and don’t exercise (yet? Maybe never). They say that it works for all kinds of people, even those of us who like the easy way on some stuff. However, I worry about doing too much dairy, too much eating out, too many convenience items (I’m a Drive-Thru Sue for those of you who have read the book) and that failure will once again just be all my fault because I’m a loser (or not a loser as the case may be with THM) and that I’m just not committed enough or don’t have enough will power.
Yesterday, my 10 yo daughter was reading about the food pyramid (circa late 1990s) in her science book, and I told her she could ignore the whole thing (we homeschool, so I’m not usurping anyone’s authority on what she’s supposed to learn). She looks at it and goes, “They say you’re supposed to eat 6-11 servings of bread and pasta a day. That’s stupid!” Score 1! Then after dinner last night she mentioned our earlier conversation and my 15 yo daughter says, “6-11 servings a day!?!? No wonder everybody in America is fat!” Score 2!
I want to start with a quick Scale Victory (SV). This past Monday, I was at the clinic for my annual mammogram and blood work. I had been at least partially on Trim Healthy Mama (THM) for a little over 2 weeks and was wondering if anything was happening. Out of curiosity I asked if I could step on the scale quick while I was there. I had been having the strange sensation at times of actually feeling like I was shrinking, but was convinced it had to be my imagination. To my surprise, I had lost 4 pounds! Scales never move in that direction for me. Even though I hadn’t noticed my clothing being looser or a visible difference, knowing things were going in the right direction was very encouraging.
Now, on to my latest THM ponderings.
One day after eating out, my husband apologized for taking me somewhere that “required me to cheat on my diet.” I just shrugged and told him that I don’t really view it as cheating. It’s making an informed choice, and sometimes that choice is doing what I know is not the best but I am willing to take the consequences.
I don’t know why, but giving yourself permission to “cheat” seems like it results in less damage than trying to avoid cheating completely. On Friday, one of my daughters chose Noodles & Co. for lunch which is a THM disaster. You can get some of the dishes “In the Buff” (on a bed of spinach rather than pasta), but I really wanted the mac and cheese. I know that isn’t good for me, but that’s what I wanted. So, I got it in a small rather than a regular, enjoyed it, and moved on. If I had chosen something else, I would have been grouchy all day that my diet didn’t allow me to eat what I really wanted. Then, I probably would have made a lot more bad choices in the form of eating a bunch of other stuff that wasn’t good for me in what amounts to throwing a temper tantrum to get even with the diet for denying me. And this would do more damage then just having what I wanted in the first place.
My lunch today. Everything but the fries is on-plan. I did notice that there is sugar and corn syrup solids (whatever those are) in the ranch dressing at McDonald’s and 11g of carbs with 1g of fiber for net carbs of 10g. However, there is enough dressing in that packet for 2 salads IMHO so I made do with 1/2 the package of dressing and had 5 fries (yes, I counted them). It was enough for me to have just 5 fries and feel satisfied with that. The burgers taste much better off the bun too. And my NSV…NO SODA! I took my GGMS in with me and washed it all down with that.
A couple days ago, after being on Trim Healthy Mama (THM) for 10 days I had a very discouraging day. Since I’d only been doing THM for a few days, obviously I was still learning and because I’d been trying to use up the non-THM contents of my pantry I was not completely on plan. However, I began to have a few concerns on how well THM will work for me, despite thinking I had dealt with all my issues before jumping in.
The previous night I was finally able to get my food diary put into my google spreadsheet and going back and seeing what I had been eating just burst my bubble. I thought I had been doing fairly well and then realized that almost none of my meals had really been on-plan. Granted, I was eating better than before THM, even with my fast food and eating out selections, but I still had a long way to go. It was like I had run a 100 yards and then realized that I still had 10 miles to go.
Looking over the food log a pattern showed up that I was already really aware of but seeing it on paper made it hit home. I tend to eat a lot of dairy. To the point of if I don’t have cheese with a meal I’m not satisfied no matter how good the meal or how much I eat. Some people are this way with bread, for me it’s cheese. It seems a lot of people come to THM with candy and sugar addictions, and that is so not me. I’m not a dessert eater, not a candy eater, not a snacker. My food addictions would be dairy and mixing carbs like potatoes/pasta with high fat foods like cheese and sour cream. This brought me to the realization that I’m going to have to give up some cheese/dairy. Working in E meals a few times a week should help that, but basically there is no way I’m going to shed the 100 pounds I need to lose if I don’t cut dairy to the point of feeling denied. Yes, I want to be healthy, but I just don’t see myself ever not wanting cheese/dairy and fast food. I have loved those things all my life (though I was denied fast food growing up, so it’s not a case of it being what I know but what I was denied). This sent me into a temper tantrum. Like all humans, I don’t want to be denied anything, even if it’s not good for me.
Then there is fast food. Even having made a conscious effort not to eat out much in the past week, I had eaten out a lot. Days 1-3 of my food log could largely be ignored because I was traveling, so it was kind of a given I was going to eat out. However, I do think I made wise or the wisest possible choices for those meals. But, I still seems counter-intuitive that I can eat out more than once a week and lose weight, and there are two meals a week that I won’t even consider brown bagging it or cooking at home. One is lunch after church and the other is lunch after my kids get done with homeschool co-op on day a week.
Also, I have a hard time with snacks. I generally don’t do snacks. Compared to my husband and kids who really do need to eat every 3 hours I am a metabolism slug. My metabolism crawls along and I just never feel snacky. Well, not never. At about 9:30 at night I get a little hungry but to eat every 3 or 4 hours during the day just isn’t something I even want to do. The space between my breakfast and lunch isn’t long enough to have a snack, so I’m okay there. The problem comes when I try to get one between lunch and dinner. I often nap in the afternoon and snack time falls during nap time. If I have a snack when I get up from my nap at 4:00/4:30 it’s too close to dinner but has been too long since lunch. Maybe after being on THM for a while I’ll lose that need to nap and need a snack instead.
That all said, I’m committed to THM for a year at least. I just had a very hopeless feeling day that my non snacking nature, no sweet tooth to overcome, and tendency toward S THM recipes with cheese and dairy is going to sabotage me. I was not in a good place and wanted to scream, “JUST TAKE ME TO MCDONALD’S!” so bad. But I didn’t. I had a non-scale victory (NSV) instead. I reheated some on-plan chicken enchilada casserole, had some 1% cottage cheese and 2 pumpkin pie cookies (also on-plan), and went to the grocery store instead.
- Lower LDL and Triglycerides
- Increase HDL
- To fit into a maximum size of Large (16/18), smaller would be better
- Have the energy to take a walk or bike ride each day
- Improvement in anxiety and depression
- Be able to buy a cute bra in a regular store
- Be able to wear my wedding ring
|July 2014||October 2015|
|Weight||215 lbs.||225 lbs.|
|Total Cholesterol||188 mg/dl||200 mg/dl|
|HDL||41 mg/dl*||41 mg/dl*|
|LDL||98 mg/dl||115 mg/dl|
|VLDL||49 mg/dl**||44 mg/dl**|
|Triglycerides||243 mg/dl***||218 mg/dl***|
|Blood Sugar||97 mg/dl****||93 mg/dl****|
* HDL should be higher, 45+ desirable
** VLDL should be lower, <30 desirable
*** Triglycerides should be lower, <150 desirable
**** Blood sugar should be <99
Just in case you’re wondering what Trim Healthy Mama is, here is a quick video of Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, the authors of Trim Healthy Mama, giving the basics of THM.
There is no way around having to read either the original Trim Healthy Mama book or the newer Trim Healthy Mama Plan book. It is vital that you understand the concepts discussed in the book so you can make THM work for you. However, Gwens-Nest.com has a handy Quick Start Guide that is like Cliff Notes for THM. It can help you get the hang of things as you read (and probably re-read) the book to master the THM lifestyle.
More information about Trim Healthy Mama at TrimHealthyMama.com
In November 2010, our family took our first major vacation. We embarked on a Quest for Magic to Walt Disney World. Since then, I’ve been asked for advice on planning a Disney trip by a few people. But somehow, I manage to lose the information I emailed to the last person before I get asked again and end up recreating everything each time. So, with the most recent request, I decided to put what I’ve got here.
Magic doesn’t just happen, regardless of what Disney would have you believe. Planning a Disney vacation is work–albeit fun work–but the end result will be worth it. I’m going to divide the info into sections as best I can because there is going to be a lot of stuff. Don’t panic. There are a lot of great resources to help sort everything out.
- 2 adults
- 3 children ages 10, 8, and 5.75 years old
Park and Attraction Tickets
Disney tickets are complicated, IMHO, and offer more options than a Swiss Army Knife. Read carefully to make sure you don’t select (and pay for) things you don’t need/won’t use and that you have the stuff you do need. This chart helps break down the prices fairly well. Warning: You may end up spending more on park/attraction tickets than you do on airfare to get there or hotel for the entire trip. Just want to give you a heads up so you’re not too shocked.
We didn’t get Park Hopper because we knew we’d not do more than one park per day. We also didn’t get the Water Park & More option because 1) we were going to be there in November and 70 degrees isn’t warm enough for even South Dakotans to visit to an outdoor water park and 2) our schedule was FULL. We did purchase a ticket for one more day than we were planning on being at Disney parks. We needed 3 days but purchased a 4-day ticket. For the extra $25 or so per person it gave us the option to do one more Disney in case something else didn’t work out.
Special Events, Character Dining, and Character Meetings
We didn’t do any Disney character dining or special events, but I’m told that to get character dining reservations you need to call at the absolute first day reservations are allowed for your selected date (180 days prior, if I remember correctly) and then pray that the phase of the moon is right and that you’re in the favor of the Disney gods. Princess dining is especially hard to get.
Our special event for the vacation was a luau (meal and show) at SeaWorld and a Behind the Scenes tour of the sea lions. The reservations were easier to make, and they were more reasonably priced than Disney–but still not cheap. I think we had just as good of time, if not better, than we would have had at a Disney event.
It is insanely easy to meet the characters at the parks to get autographs. We managed to meet most of the princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora), Mickey and Minnie, Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Stitch, Marie from Aristocats and Goofy–and we weren’t even trying.
Hotel and Dining Plans and Auto Rentals…Oh My!
Auto Travel Tips
Other Miscellaneous Tips
Use your “smart” phone to your advantage
- Download a crowd advisor app like that from touringplans.com
- Take a “mugshot” photo of your child/children each day when you arrive at your first destination. This will be a big help if you should become separated from your child as it will be the most current photo you have of him/her and he/she will be in the clothes that you’ll be looking for or need to describe.
- Take pictures of other important things too. Like the row marker in parking lots. Our kids and I still remember where we parked in the airport parking garage because we made a point of taking a picture of it.
- Consider purchasing cheap pre-paid cell phone(s) for older children to carry. Even if the kids have their own regular cell phones they use at home. Better to leave the expensive or everyday ones at home and use a temporary one on the trip than risk the “real” one getting lost/stolen. This will give you a way to stay in touch with older children if separated (by chance or by choice).
If you have multiple children, consider a family “uniform”, especially if you have young-ish children (under 10). We purchased inexpensive t-shirts for the girls in bright colors. They all wore the same color on the same day. That way I knew at a glance which kids were mine. It sounds silly but is very handy. Also, if one wanders off, you can tell those helping to look for him/her that he/she is wearing a shirt exactly like this (while pointing to one of your other children). It also helps the kids know what to look for. They can keep an eye out for the same color to find someone they know (i.e. a sibling).
We gave each of the kids a souvenir allowance. They had a set amount they could spend. I got some play money and put that amount in an envelope for each of them. When they wanted to buy something they had to take the amount out of their envelope (I paid for the actual purchase with a credit card). It helped them budget their money and avoided me buying a ton of stuff and going over budget without the risk of carrying around real money.
Keep a travel blog or written journal. It doesn’t have to be public (in the case of a blog) or fancy (a spiral notebook will do). Write notes in it each night about what you did that day and funny things that happened. I scrapbook so this was valuable when I went back to make a book about the trip (I’m still not done with that book now, over two years later). Even if you don’t do anything as formal as a scrapbook, it will be a treasure from your trip.
Summary Website Listing
Here I am at
Over the last five years, I’ve come to a startling realization…I’m getting old. I’ve always kind of wondered how it happens. At what point do you go from ignoring the speed limit, wearing hip clothing, and being able to operate the latest electronic gadgets to driving at least 5 mph under the speed limit, wearing polyester, and eschewing all this “new fangled” technology? I’m here to tell you that point comes somewhere around age 35 and sneaks up on you. My initial warning sign was when I got a new cell phone four years ago. I read the manual (that right there was a clue). And, while I was reading, it dawned on me that I’d never remember how to do any of this stuff with the phone and that carrying around the manual with the phone was probably not cool. Then, there was an incident a couple weeks ago where I had to ask my 12-year-old how to operate my iPhone. Now that was embarrassing! I’m an A+ certified computer technician. The latest installment of aging came for me this week as I took two of my children to summer camp. Let’s just say, kids these days have it too easy.
Camp used to be about two different things: 1) having fun in the great outdoors and 2) roughing it. Having fun in the great outdoors is still a top priority, but man, has the definition of roughing it changed. As a youth, I had attended three different camps over a period of about ten years. None of those resembled something even close to what has awaited my children at two different camps they have been to when it comes to roughing it.
My first camp experience during the summer between my third and fourth grade years and again the following summer was at 4-H camp. We slept about a dozen girls in a glorified storage shed on homemade bunks of nailed together economy studs coated with enough lead-based paint to lower our IQs by 10 points. There was a single bare lightbulb in the rafters and no electrical outlets. No fans, no air conditioning. Bugs and spiders lurked in the corners and made some of the girls scream like, well, girls. There were flushing toilets and showers, but they were located locker room-style in the shower house. And no matter how long you showered, you never really felt clean because you’re camping and camp shower houses have bugs and dirt and are designed to only cover basic hygiene–not cleanliness.
Girls Scout camp during my fifth-sixth grade summer was even more rough. Our accommodations consisted of an army tent erected on a wooden platform in the woods with metal-frame beds. If your bed got too close to the edge of the platform, it fell off and you ended up taking a two-foot tumble into poison ivy. The bathroom/shower was a descent hike through the woods. Obviously, being in tents, we had no electricity of any kind, no fans, and no air conditioning. At night, you hoped the rustling you heard outside the tent was just the wind and not some crazed raccoon looking for your candy from the camp store.
It was another seven years before I returned to camp. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I worked as a counselor at a camp for the disabled. I was back to sleeping with a half-dozen campers in a glorified storage shed. Nothing between us and the elements except some fiberboard siding. We slept on army cots consisting of a wooden frame slung with vinyl. These cabins did have electrical outlets–two of them–one at the front of the cabin and one at the rear. You had to decide if moving air from a fan or music from a boom box was more important.
You can likely see where I’m going with this, but I’ll take you there anyway.
My first rude awakening came when we dropped our oldest child off for a week at horse camp. Our daughter’s counselor led us to the “bunkhouse”. Fully finished and insulated, air-conditioned, with actual beds, an adjoining bathroom, and a front-loading washer and dryer built in. In all fairness, the camp she was attending has only been in existence since 2002 and has been specifically designed to be 100% handicapped accessible so all campers can enjoy the experience of summer camp. I do have to give them points for that. But, man! It did resemble a four-star hotel more than any camp I could think of. I comforted myself with the thought that our middle child, whom we had seen off on the church camp bus earlier in the day, surely couldn’t be having that cushy of time.
Well, that fantasy came crashing down later in the week when we went to pick the middle daughter up at camp. She gave me the grand tour of their “cabin.” Same actual beds that they had at horse camp, adjoining bathroom, insulated walls, air-conditioned, a gathering room with a large-screen flat-panel TV (for movie night or rainy days, I’m told), and actual furniture that didn’t look as though it had come off the spring-cleanup pile in someone’s driveway. Not quite as spiffy as horse camp, but only because the camp itself isn’t as brand new. The amenities are part of renovations made at a the camp, which itself has been around for decades. All I could do was shake my head.
My days at camp at a youth were some of the best times of my childhood. We spent the days hiking, canoeing, swimming, doing crafts, playing games, and just being kids–or young adults helping kids be kids. Where we slept, ate, and used the facilities didn’t matter one iota. That was just what camp was and was supposed to be. And, I suspect, many of today’s kids would feel the same way if given the chance. More than likely, it is us adults who help out at the camps and the “safety police” that demand such luxuries. So yep, kids these days do have it too easy, but we have no one to blame but ourselves–the grown ups. The kids don’t decided what kind of amenities to have at camp, we do. And, if they have comfortable beds and air conditioning, we gave it to them. Why have we given it to them? Because we are getting old and want the comforts of home when we go along as camp chaperones. Getting off an army cot isn’t pretty, or easy, when you’re pushing 40. And sleeping in air-conditioned comfort for the two plus decades since our last camp (or college housing) experience has left us spoiled. So, we in turn are spoiling our kids in our efforts to be good, supportive, involved parents. It’s hell to get old!
Making our what seems like daily trek to WalMart, the beggar is hard at work on the corner. I don’t know if he’s there everyday (because, contrary to what it seems like, I do not really go to WalMart everyday), but a lot of the days I do go, he’s there. I’m not even sure it is just one guy. I think there are a few who take turns. Can’t be sure though because I never look close enough for long enough to be certain. Prolonged looking would be staring and that’s rude. It would also make the chances of making eye contact greater, and then I’d have to feel guilty that 1) I got caught staring, which is rude, and 2) that I didn’t give him something. Of course, I don’t really need to make eye contact with him to feel guilty. That’s what I have my 10-year-old for.
Not even a week ago, I was joyously telling you about Sophie the Cat’s entry into our lives. Today, sadly, I will be sharing her exit.
Let me start by saying that I really, really wanted this to work. Even though I’m not a cat person I wanted to be able to give my children their hearts’ desire and really did feel that this was God’s leading. Things started out well. She was using the litter box, followed us around, and seemed like a very reasonable cat. Then Saturday came.
Saturday night after the girls went to bed, Sophie started going from window to window yowling wanting to go outside. This got progressively worse over the next two nights until Monday night-Tuesday morning when she decided to climb the screen of our bedroom window at 3:00 a.m. Being we have Andersen windows, the screens are on the insides of the windows, which is NOT conducive to owning a cat. My husband marched her to the basement and closed her in the bathroom with her litter box. Tuesday morning when he let her out, she promptly came upstairs, went in my closet, and peed on my jeans. Not scoring points here.
I spent Tuesday in a tizzy. I already had problems with the fact that cats, and Sophie is no exception, walk all over everything–the kitchen table, the kitchen counter, the bookshelves, my desk, my lap, the window sills. And, while I am not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination, there is just something that grosses me out about four little feet that have been scratching around in a mini sandbox with urine and feces walking around on the surfaces I use to prepare and consume food. Add to that her little pee-on-the-jeans trick, and I was freaking out.
Last night, same thing. Attempting to get out of every window in the house and mewing/yowling constantly. My husband again shut her up in the bathroom in the basement. She literally bounced off the walls attempting to get to the small window at the top of the wall in there. This morning, when he let her out, she followed him upstairs to our bathroom, found a pile of dirty clothes, and peed on them.
The desperation to get outside and the peeing on the clothes might mean that she is in “heat”, which would mean it is temporary. But, there are the other matters I noted above that I would still have problems with, and they are present all the time with cats.
Granted, I knew all this about cats going into this. I had hoped that since it seemed rather like God had answered a prayer here that He would also have changed my heart, toward this particular cat if nothing else. He didn’t. I guess He did change it a bit in that I was willing to do something I had never considered before to give my children something they so desperately wanted. But, I would think if He truly wanted me to have a cat He would also make me at peace with it, and I’m just not. Even before the bad behavior started I was on edge with her around.
So, this morning we had a little cat meeting with the girls to break the news that Sophie will need to go back to the shelter so she can find a new home that is right for her. I expected the middle one to take it hard since she was the one who “found” Sophie. She took it okay. The oldest one, however, was devastated. She understands the reasons, but reasons don’t make things hurt any less. We want to think they will, but they don’t. And, we’ve always had the suspicion that the oldest was part cat anyway. Those of you that know her will understand. She, however, can be trained to not walk on the counters and to wash her hands after using the bathroom.
There. Tell me I’m a bad mother, even though this provides a good teachable moment for practical life skills on making responsible choices (by showing what happens when Mom didn’t make one), dealing with emotions, and knowing when you’ve gotten yourself in too deep. Call me lazy, a quitter, a fool, or any other bad name you want to give me. I can take it, I’ve already called myself all of them and maybe even a few you haven’t thought of. I have learned my lesson. We are a NO PET family. The business manager of the school I work at told me you get the perfect pet for you only once in your lifetime. And, we had ours in Helga.
Pardon the title. It’s just that I am not a “cat person”. I come from a family of cat haters. I know that “hate” is a strong word, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if my mother refuses to visit my house anymore because we now have a cat. So for us to have a cat is big, I mean BIG, news. Why then, you ask, do we have a cat? The thing is, it is quite possible God sent us the cat.
Just over three years ago, we had to have our beloved German Shorthaired Pointer put to sleep. Helga had been with us just about 10 years, and she was getting old. Then one day shortly after Christmas she started having seizures. We spent two weeks trying to control seizures we didn’t know the cause of, and came to the realization we were not doing her or ourselves any favors. Our kids, however, had always had Helga. She was our first born, and the girls knew nothing of life without her.
So, last summer the kids started the quest for a dog. They begged and pleaded. My husband, however, still had a broken heart from Helga, and there was also the matter of dog poo. He just couldn’t bring himself to say yes to the girls. But he did tell them they could pray for a dog, and that if God sent one to our doorstep then we would have a dog. I warned him about this. I had read a book where the author had told his kids the very same thing and two days later he came home to find a stray had wandered onto their property. I told my husband to be prepared. You never know what God will do.
Yep, you never know what God will do.
About 10 days ago, the middle child was playing outside and informed us there was a cat in our back yard. We assured her it probably belonged to one of the neighbors and that it would wander home. It was still sitting at our back door mewing the next morning. And that afternoon. And the next morning. And the next afternoon. I told the kids no way, no how were we keeping this cat. I don’t like cats. Uh uh.
And then, as I waited for animal control to come and get the cat, I watched it follow my girls around the yard and lay close by them in the shade of their playhouse as they played in the sandbox. (Yes, I know what cats use sandboxes for. Our neighbor has a cat that frequents our yard.) I realized that this was no ordinary cat and that my girls needed a pet. So, I told the kids that if the cat’s owner didn’t claim it from the shelter, we would consider adopting her. A week went by and sure enough, the cat was still at the shelter. By that time, my husband had caved on his “No Pets” policy, and I was dispatched to the shelter first thing on the morning of my day off. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in my minivan with a borrowed pet taxi and a cat, whose name, I decided, was Sophie.
The thing about this whole story is that, while you may think I’m being dramatic saying God sent us this cat, I’m pretty convinced He did just that. There were too many “coincidences” to ignore that very real possibility.
While I was sitting in the shelter office finalizing our adoption, the shelter director mentioned a refund we would be able to get once we had the cat spayed. I told her I was going to make sure the cat saw the veterinarian for a checkup in the next few days, and the director said, “Say, someone donated this certificate for a pet exam at a local vet. Why don’t you take it and use it.” She handed me an envelope from the vet we used to take our dog to and intended to use for the cat as well. I opened it to find a certificate for not only an annual pet exam but about $150 worth of other services like blood tests and vaccinations. When the math of certificate value minus adoption fees and pet supplies was all said and done, we basically ended up being paid $50 to take this cat.
Being a “stray”, it was likely Sophie would have fleas so I stopped at the local farm supply store and picked up a supply of Frontline. I put a dose on her before I let her loose in the house. Later that same afternoon, when I took her for her vet appointment, the vet combed her to check for fleas and didn’t find any. The next day I dropped off a “poo” sample to check for parasites. None of those either.
Sophie found the litter box with no problems. I know that cats just kind of come programmed to use a litter box, but I expected a little bit of an adjustment to its location if nothing else.
She is very much a “people cat” and prefers to be where we are so she follows us around like a faithful dog. Even the vet commented on how “personable” she is. If I have to have a cat, this is the kind I want.
Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like cats. And if it were up to me, we wouldn’t have one. But, when God sends you a miracle it’s best not to ignore it. The girls love Sophie. Sophie loves the girls. And, I love the girls, so when their prayers are answered, I’d be a fool to stand in the way.