The Last of Her Stuff

My oldest child just graduated from college and landed her first big-girl job. Of course, this meant she had to move. I had been waiting for this day for three years. The day when she would have a place big enough for long enough that we could purge our house of the remainder of her detritus. I know that probably sounds harsh but this child has a lifelong history of leaving stuff in a trail behind her. We call it her trail of slime. You can tell where she’s been just by following the breadcrumbs of shoes, dirty socks, book bags, etc. On visits home from college she’d come in the door, take her shoes off, walk six feet and drop her dirty laundry bag, walk another five feet and drop her coat and backpack, walk down the hall to her room and deposit her duffle bag, come back down the hall and scatter her toiletries in the bathroom, and then return to unpack the backpack a few feet from where she dropped it. And all the stuff would stay where she had dropped it until she would leave two days later when she followed the trail back out the door.

I’m married to a pack rat, who incidentally also tends to leave a trail of slime despite him being one of the loudest critics of the child’s trail. It’s not his fault. His father is a pack rat. I’d be tempted to say it’s a flaw on the Y chromosome  but none of my offspring have a Y chromosome and two-thirds of my children have inherited the pack rat DNA. My oldest is one of the afflicted. The closet in her former bedroom was packed floor to ceiling with boxes of stuff that did not go to college with her. She had boxes in our storeroom. She had a cedar-lined trunk in the bedroom of one of her siblings, a source of great tension as that child is also one of the pack rats and has some relational difficulties with the older sibling. I’ve spent three years hearing about the mental distress caused by this item’s physical footprint and its impact on the sibling having enough space for her own junk—ahem, belongings.

To be fair, I have had some degree of pack rat tendencies at times in my life. I also have a degree of genetic causation for this from my mother and grandmother. I, however, have outgrown it a bit with age and maturity. Somewhere along the way, over the last 25 years, I have become very in-tune with how negatively “collecting” stuff is for my mental health and have really been on a mission to separate myself from stuff that serves no purpose in my life other than to take up space. I am not always successful at this but I’m trying. And here is where eldest child’s moving collides with my former pack rat days. I moved out of my parents’ house 25-ish years ago. I have lived in 7 different dwellings since leaving their house. And each time I have moved over the past 25 years my parents have shown up at my new dwelling with a pickup truck full of things claiming it’s “the last of [my] stuff from [their] house.” Just this past Christmas they showed up with a pickup truck of more of my stuff. What didn’t add up about this was they told me that the previous truckload they brought for Thanksgiving five years ago was “the last of [my] stuff at [their] house.”

I was not going to let this become a family tradition. The remainder of her stuff at our house was loaded into our 19-year-old minivan for moving day. And I happily told her, “This is the last of your stuff at our house.”

Vax or No Vax, That Is The Question

So I had my second dose of the vax this week. Now in two more weeks I’ll be added to the ranks of the fully vaccinated. I have many mixed feelings about this.

Do I think the vax is dangerous to my health or a left-wing conspiracy to control us all (a.k.a. do I believe the far-right alternative news nutjobs)? No. My understanding of the medication development process is that what usually holds things up is lack of funding, not piles of regulations. Because of the public health nature of COVID, funding was no problem in this case and that is why it was done so fast, not because regulations and safety protocols were ignored or loosened. Vaccinations for all kinds of things have saved thousands, if not millions, of people around the world despite what anti-vaxers would want you to believe. I am old enough to have known relatives who had polio during the nearly annual polio epidemics of the early to mid 1900s. Now, polio is considered a thing of the past due to mass vaccination for it. Would I say vaccines are absolutely safe? No. Everything has risks. Driving or riding in a motor vehicle is the most dangerous thing almost anyone does on a daily basis, far more likely to injure or kill you than a vaccination but no one is shouting for a ban on cars, trucks, and buses or saying people are crazy for putting their kids in them. I don’t think vaxes are as dangerous as some think they are.

Do I think the vax is the “answer” to the pandemic (a.k.a. do I believe the mainstream media propaganda that once 70+% of us are vaxed—herd immunity reached—that all the restrictions will be a distant memory)? No. I think the new strains we are seeing are giving us a clear message about how effective vaxing will be. I think we are trying to outrun an avalanche. Like the common cold, I think it will mutate too fast for vaxing to be super effective. Best case, we’ll need annual COVID shots much like we are encouraged to get annual flu shots. Worst case, new strains will be resistant to current vaxes and we’ll be stuck in a cycle of pandemic shut downs periodically.

Do I think the vax will put an end to all the changes that have happened in the past year due to COVID-19? No. I have pretty much lost any hope of life ever being the way it was before March 2020. Life changes and you just have to roll with it. These changes have happened at a speed that required us to adjust faster than we would have liked and it has left us cranky. I honestly don’t think I am ever going to be able to sit in a coffee shop in the evenings (and some of them not at any time of day) to work again (a home office does NOT work for me for writing and studying). I just don’t think they will ever be open again past 7:00pm because the forced closures have left places with staffing problems, financial problems, and lack of customers. I spend hours every week sitting in my minivan studying by headlamp and streetlight with blue toes and no bathroom while my daughter is at various evening activities because there is no where else to go to wait. I am tired of having to eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers and fries precariously balanced on my lap in my van. However, I don’t see these things changing any day soon, vax or no vax.

I’m not pinning my hopes on it, but I don’t think it is total B.S. either, so I got the vax.

I Will Hope In Him!

Lamentation 3:22-24
Lamentations 3:20-28 (NLT)

Given the events of the past 24 hours, I wanted to take a moment to offer some encouragement and Lamentations 3:22-24 provides it.


I have heard many people say over the past day that this is a time when we should all be on our knees in prayer, and they are correct…to a point. We should really be on our knees in prayer all the time, in good times and bad. And, many people who are saying this are implying that we need to pray that America “turn back to God” and that the “right” political leaders be in power. However, we are commanded in Romans 13 to obey the governing authorities and are told that ALL authorities are in power because God alone put them there for His purposes. If Paul was telling first century Christians this as they were living under one of the most oppressive, non-Jewish, non-Christian governments in history (the Roman Empire) I can’t imagine we would be told otherwise today. We have the privilege to live in a society where each of us has a say in who will be in power, but ultimately it is God who grants governments power at all. God even lets powers that are not supportive of Him be in power to accomplish His purposes as He did when He allowed Assyria and Babylon to conquer and take into exile those who really were His chosen nation (read Isaiah and Jeremiah for confirmation of this). Here is what we should be praying for:

  1. That both individually and collectively Christians would recognize that America is NOT God’s country or chosen nation. God’s “nation” (Kingdom) is not an earthly one (John 18:36). The Republican Party is not God’s political party. In all His time on earth, Jesus said only one thing about the government and that is that we should all pay our taxes. He did not instruct us to support certain political factions or leaders. He did not instruct us to incite a revolution in the earthly government (though I believe there are circumstances that warrant revolution, I don’t believe we are currently in one of them in the United States). In fact, at His trial and sentencing under Pilate, the mob of Jesus’s day was so disappointed in the fact that He wasn’t there to revolt against the government that they demanded Pilate release to them Barabbas, who was a revolutionary against the Roman government, and kill the True King instead. We need to make sure we are not unwittingly doing the same by taking our focus off of following what Christ did command (that we love God and love people) and putting it on human “revolutionaries”.
  2. That idolatry would be exposed. There are many Christians who have gotten so caught up in politics they have unknowingly made it into an idol, believing that the right “king” in power is what God wants. We need to pray that those for whom this is true would recognize their error, confess their sin, and return to correct focus on the rightful King. God wants to be king of our lives and has from the beginning. He allowed Israel to have a king only because the people demanded it and we have seen the tragedy that has ensued for millennia where people have placed their hope in governments rather than God.
  3. That the Holy Spirit would shine a light on each individual’s heart so we can know if we are among the people in #2 and that we will respond correctly to His personal revelation to each individual about our part in this.
  4. That each of us would know the peace of God in our hearts no matter what is going on in the world around us.
  5. That each Christian would be a beacon of light to those around them. That we indeed would look and behave different than everyone around us and in doing so help win non-believers to Christ for their eternal benefit.

Making 2021 The Year of 21 Miles

The photo on our Christmas card for 2020 did not turn out the way I envisioned it in my head. Things rarely do. Almost nothing in 2020 turned out the way any of us envisioned it in our heads either. We all expected normal—graduations, weddings, fairs, vacations—and what we got was a pandemic with a side of partisan politics—complete with catch-phrase cliches we’d all rather forget. Anyone else sick of hearing, “We’re all in this together?” It has been a year of mourning—mourning the loss of loves ones, the loss of beloved events and groups that can’t happen, the loss of “normal.” And, let’s be honest, it is wearing us all quite thin as we head into the holiday season.

The bright spot of Christmas is that Hope is among us. In 2021, let’s take hold of the Hope that can override sickness, poverty, politics, race, and division. Back in January I declared 2020 The Year of the Completed Project at our house. Now I’m encouraging everyone to make 2021 The Year of 21 Miles. Plot a circle with a radius of 10½  miles from your home and ask yourself what you can do to make your 21-mile “bubble” a better place. Buy a bag of groceries for the local food shelf each week. Mow the lawn of the neighbor who is having a hard time getting things done. Pay for the gas of the car next to you at the pump. Give a mom who’s at the end of her rope a couple kid-free hours and babysit her children for an afternoon. Don’t judge who deserves your help, just give. Maybe the guy driving the BMW doesn’t NEED you to pay for his coffee but doing it anyway will send a message to him that might fix something he does need. Not all needs are visible, and it’s not our job to determine who is deserving of assistance; we should just make a practice of thinking at any given moment, “What is the maximum amount of good I can do right now?” The more overlapping “bubbles” we have of people doing their maximum amount of good at each moment the greater the results. So for 2021, just worry about your 21 miles and the rest of your state, country, and world will likely “magically” sort itself out.

Okay, This Just Needs to Be Said

I am calling on my fellow Christians to WAKE UP! 2000 years ago the religious establishment was looking for Jesus to be a political savior and that is not nor was it ever God’s intention. It is not God’s intention for us to have a political savior today either. America is NOT and never has been God’s chosen nation. How have so many of us forgotten this and effectively become no better than the population of Jesus’ day, who expected Him to be their political savior, by throwing our blind support behind political candidates who say the things our itching ears want to hear? There was no major-party “Christian” candidate in last week’s election. And I don’t believe either of them has the best interests of any American, except themselves, at heart. They are concerned with power and getting/remaining in power. Therefore they will say and do whatever they need to and court whatever group it seems will help get them that power. We (as in all Americans) are being used. What disturbs me most is that as many of my fellow Christians who were so sold out for Donald Trump watched the election results come in, and it was clear that things were not going the way they had hoped, they started saying/posting things like, “God’s going to do great things!” and “We need to rely on God,” as if this was Gideon’s midnight battle with the Midianites. Now in the aftermath, they are raising the battle cry that leaving the “biased” social media with its “fake news” is the answer that will somehow accomplish something. Here’s the truth:

  1. God has already done His great thing for us in Jesus Christ and the sooner those of us who believe that disentangle ourselves from politics and get to following His command to care for the poor, disenfranchised, voiceless, and marginalized (the modern version of widows and orphans) the better as the marriage with politics is seriously hurting our witness to those in desperate need of what God has to offer.
  2. As for fleeing to “better” social media and news platforms, any other social media site you would join would have just as much “fake news” and questionable fact checking as the current ones. These days everyone (“left” AND “right”) reports only the “facts” that suit their agenda. Just because something is saying what you agree with or want to hear doesn’t mean it’s true. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5, NLT) Notice that Paul doesn’t say only non-believers will do this. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was primarily concerned with fellow believers falling victim to false teachers, not what the non-believing masses were doing.
  3. God is at work today just as He is everyday and He is using all things for His glory—even the politicians we don’t like. It is also possible that He has brought into place powers we don’t like, who do evil things, and who may treat us badly to accomplish His purposes. And in this case, that purpose may be that He Himself is sending us a wake up call that we need to cut the political crap, give ourselves a good heart check, and focus on what He told us to do. I don’t know for sure. I am not a prophet. But a good reading of the book of Isaiah shows that He has done such things in the past (think Babylon and Assyria); I wouldn’t be surprised if He chose to do similar things now.

It’s time we stopped looking for a political savior (something we were never told to do) and quit using social media as a way to get our “news” and “facts” and shout our opinions to the masses.

As Christians we were told to love God and love people. Get out there and make relationships with people—even people who may not look like or believe the same things you do. You don’t have to bend your convictions to be a descent human being to someone who doesn’t share your socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, or skin color. Don’t have an ulterior motive to try to win them to Christ. Just be a genuine friend and let God take care of what He wants to do with that friendship. I believe that our current circumstances, both political and COVID, should be a big wake up call to us that politics is not where effective witness is at. Making Christian laws are not going to win people over. God wants relationships. Christians need to get about the business God has commanded in Scripture we do, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-38, NLT). Those words are in red, by the way.

Halloween Doesn’t Scare Me

For the first Halloween in probably ten years, I decided to do something other than just open the door and drop a few pieces of candy in the bags of the kids on the other side. I’m just not a big holiday celebrator (if that’s even a word) and, once my kids were past the age when we had to accompany them trick-or-treating, we just resorted to grabbing a bag or two of candy to hand out and, once that was gone, turning off the porch light and retreating to the basement for a family movie night. But this year we adopted a dog. And our dog is super chill.

A few years ago a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend on social media shared this pet costume idea with Great Danes dressed up as spiders using pool noodles that I thought was super cute and, even though our dog is not a Great Dane, I wanted to do this with her. At 8 years old, she’s considered a senior dog so I didn’t want to waste a Halloween saying we’d do it next year because one never knows with dogs that age. So, I snagged a pathetic pre-made pet spider costume and four clearance pool noodles at WalMart, took our 20-year-old insanely large container of cable ties and some industrial strength glue, and got to work. This then led to me having to figure out a costume for myself since I can’t be walking a giant spider around the ‘hood in street clothes on Halloween. Thankfully my parents had brought me the “last” of my childhood stuff from their house a couple years ago (there’ll be a post about this in a few weeks) and it happened to include my 30-year-old prom dress that could pass as a getup for Little Miss Muffet. My husband said I had to have blonde curly hair to be Little Miss Muffet so off to Target I went. Of course, spiders need webs so I had to get a 10-foot spider web while I was there. Then with COVID-19 everyone has been going around and around about how to hand out candy safely. That left me on the eve of Halloween trying to figure out how to hang said web sturdy enough so I could clothespin snack-size baggies of candy to it for kids to take so we can maintain social distancing. Like many of my projects, this has snowballed.

LIttle Miss Muffet and her spooder
Little Miss Muffet and her giant spider having a dress rehearsal Halloween Eve.

And while gluing and cable-tying and bagging candy, I got to thinking. (This right here should scare you a bit because you never know what’s coming when I get to thinking. See Why No One Asks Me What I’m Thinking if you need to verify that.)

I found myself wondering if pagans feel like everyone has ruined the true meaning of their big holiday, like Christians complain that secularism and materialism have ruined the true meaning of Christmas. Let me explain.

I’m a Christian. Christians are kind of all over the map about Halloween. Those who are more liberal throw Halloween parties and go trick-or-treating with everyone else and don’t pay any mind. Believers who lean very conservative are convinced Halloween is the devil’s holiday and to even hand out candy is a sin and wag their fingers at the liberal believers who participate. Though these same conservatives will throw “harvest festivals” on or near Halloween and you’ll see in a minute why this is somewhat ironic. I personally don’t have a moral opposition to Halloween, and here is why. 

Halloween is not Satan’s holiday. Many historical cultures had some form of Halloween that celebrated the fall harvest and the pagan gods of their culture that were thought to be responsible for that harvest or as festivals that honored the dead—this would be that irony with Christian harvest festivals I was mentioning above. Halloween as it is known in America largely originated from the United Kingdom tradition of the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain (meaning “summer’s end”) that marked the beginning of winter—a season of cold, darkness, and death—and honored Saman, the lord of death. This was eventually combined with two Roman festivals honoring other pagan gods when the Romans invaded the U.K. in the first century A.D. So in reality, it is the holiday of pagan gods, not Satan (there is a difference). To be certain, Christians shouldn’t be honoring pagan gods even if they are not Satan but what Halloween has become in the modern-day, mainstream way most people celebrate it isn’t even remotely honoring the pagan gods of harvest or the dead. It is kids dressing up in costumes to extort candy from their neighbors. Much like Christmas has become so secularized in its modern form it has little, if anything, to do with celebrating the birth of the world’s Savior. So, if anything, me and my dog dressing up to handout Halloween candy has helped contribute to the cheapening of the true meaning of Halloween by not actually celebrating the pagan gods of the harvest and/or of the dead.

Giant spider
Trick-or-Treat!

Not that Satan isn’t found lurking about on Halloween but he’s lurking about every day. And honestly, it is his lurking about on the rest of the days that is most dangerous. On Halloween everyone is looking for him but he’s really all about flying under the radar. Yes, some people will willingly sign up to follow him, but what he’s really interested in is getting those of us who know his days are numbered to become ineffective at fighting his schemes. He knows we’re not going to willingly do that so his major tactic is to lull us into living our day-to-day lives in self-serving ways as if there is no God besides when we’re sitting in the pew on Sunday morning. He doesn’t really care if we’re on high alert for him one night a year (Halloween) if he can get us to be complacent the other 364. And this is why Halloween doesn’t scare me. I take it for what it is in its modern sense—kids enjoying getting dressed up and asking for candy. 

Toilet handle picture

Why No One Asks Me, “What Are You Thinking?”

I notice weird things. I notice illogical things. I have deep, philosophical life questions. Here are just a few of them.

Why are toilet handles always silver?

Toilet handle picture

And, why are they almost always on the left side of the tank (as you are facing it)?  The only right-side ones I’ve seen are at Caribou Coffee shops.

Why isn’t women’s underwear sized the same as jeans/pants?

Sizing label on underwear package picture

Is this a holdover from days when women went by dress sizes so underwear sizes were really different? I just find it goofy that shopping for two items of clothing that go on the same part of my body don’t use the same sizing scale.

Is eating an egg the same as eating chicken?

This is one of those philosophical “If a tree falls in the forest…” or “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” questions, but it sparked quite a controversy with my family, and I am now forbidden to even bring it up. If I even mention chickens and eggs in the same sentence I am given warning glares with, “Noooooo!” Here’s the deal: I love to eat eggs; I do not love to eat chicken, and I remarked one evening that the only way I liked to eat chicken was as an egg. My know-it-all, animal-science-majoring daughter said they were not equivalent on the grounds of nutritional content and that an unfertilized egg contains only half of the genetic material required to make a chicken. Said daughter even consulted a fellow animal science student who specializes in poultry to back her up, which he did. The rest of my kids agreed with her. (My husband, quite wisely, kept his mouth shut.) However, I still maintain that eating an egg is essentially eating chicken because the only thing a chicken egg is capable of becoming is a chicken.

How can you not use lip balm on damaged or broken skin?

Chapstick label warnings

I realize that this is a CYA move on the part of lawyers for the chapstick company but just take a minute to really think about it. Chapped lips are damaged and broken skin…

Why don’t laundry labels match laundry machine settings?

I have owned fancy dryers with more options than colors of the rainbow and my current dryer is a bare-bones model; none of them has settings that match laundry labels. This is the laundry label on my dog’s couch blanket.

Laundry label on blanket image

These are the temperature setting options on my dryer.

Dryer temperature settings image

And before you suggest it, Fluff (No Heat) is not the same as Low. Fluff won’t dry anything. I know. I’ve tried. It comes out just as wet as it went in 80 minutes earlier. Everything in our house gets dried on Wrinkle Free (Medium) though “wrinkle free” is also a misnomer. And while we’re talking about laundry equipment. When did Colors become a temperature?

Washing machine temperature dial image

Multi-purpose Aim’n Flame? What else does it do?

Multi-purpose lighter picture

Um, Aim’n Flames have one purpose—to start fires. Again, I get what they’re hinting at. You can light a candle with it, light the grill with it, start a fire in the fire pit with it, light a cigarette with it, etc. But all of those things are the same thing really. It is no more multi-purpose than say a match. You use it for one thing only, to start a fire.

Is there a full Nelson?

There’s a wrestling move called a half Nelson. It just begged the question: Is there a full Nelson?

What other kinds of weapons are there?

Dangerous weapons ban sign

This sign causes all sorts of problems for me. First, show me a weapon that is not dangerous and it’s not a weapon. Danger is just part of the definition of being a weapon. I’m sure that referring to dangerous weapons is an attempt to clarify things like guns and knives from everyday things that you may need to use as a weapon in a threatening situation like, say, car keys. But like the cracked and broken skin for lip balm, when you really think about this one something seems off.

Then if you notice the fine print, this ban does not apply to people lawfully carrying dangerous weapons, really making it pointless. It’s not like someone illegally carrying a weapon is going to say, “Hold on a minute. Let me just put my illegal weapon back in the car before we go in here.” If you’re lawfully carrying dangerous weapons chances are you’re not intending to do anything illegal with them. And, if you were intending to commit a crime with them, legally carrying or not, someone banning them from the premises wouldn’t stop you from doing it. Think of school shootings. Back when schools didn’t have bans on weapons being on school campuses it was rare for a school shooting to happen. Once shootings started becoming a thing, schools banned weapons. Weapons on campus didn’t result in shootings. People not being taught to respect human life and the law resulted in shootings. Those intent on harming people don’t care what laws you enact or what is banned.

Why would I want more of something I don’t like?

Aldi twice as nice guarantee label image

Let me just say, I love Aldi. I buy a good 90% of my groceries there. I appreciate that they want me to love their products so much that they are willing to give me my money back if I don’t like them. But, if I don’t like the product, why on earth would I want them to give me another container of the product (i.e. replace it)?

How many steps are there really?

1-step buttonhole instructions image

I was making a duvet cover the other night and needed to put some buttonholes in it. I very rarely make buttonholes so I had to consult the manual for my sewing machine on how to use its buttonhole feature. It touted a 1-step buttonhole feature and then proceeded to explain how to use it in eight steps. I kind of felt lied to.

So now you know the kinds of things that run through my head on a fairly frequent basis. Occasionally, I have some deep, profound, potentially life-impacting thought that might change the course of someone’s life but for the most part I’m on a level only slightly higher than a squirrel. That leaves me wondering, is everybody like this or is it just me?

White Privilege, Social Media, & Me

Let me start by saying I’ve been debating on even posting this. It is very much raw thoughts and reflections I have had on the racial tensions in the United States over the past month in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Because it’s a hot-button issue, anything that I or anyone else says is usually taken the wrong way by someone. And, because I’m Minnesotan, I hate ruffling feathers. However, I’ve decided to put it out there. I simply ask that you read with an open mind. Listen to my heart here.

I am unable to find where this diagram came from originally but it describes where I sit fairly accurately.

On Memorial Day 2020, George Floyd was killed. Suddenly, the COVID catchphrases of “we’re all in this together,” “social distancing,” and “flattening the curve” were replaced with “black lives matter,” “white privilege,” “take a knee,” “racial profiling,” and “police brutality.”

In case you have no idea what happened to George Floyd, here’s the abstract: The Minneapolis police were called to a business on an attempted forgery. When they arrived, they saw George Floyd sitting in a car nearby and discovered he was the man they were looking for as he had a counterfeit $20 bill in his possession. In the process of arresting him, two cops held him down while a third knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over 7 minutes, claiming he was resisting arrest. A fourth officer stood and watched the incident, keeping the gathering crowd from getting too close. Mr. Floyd was heard saying several times that he was not resisting and could not breathe. Several bystanders witnessed the whole thing and indicated he was not resisting. Security camera footage from a nearby business showed he was not resisting. One of the bystanders recorded it on a mobile phone and posted the video to social media. This set off a wave of protests in the Downtown Minneapolis community that resulted in rioting, looting, and the burning of many businesses and vehicles over several days. The National Guard and military were called in to get things under control.

The death of George Floyd due to police brutality isn’t the first and, sadly, won’t be the last. Incidents like this one have been occurring since settlers put feet on American soil. For me, this one was a bigger deal simply because it hit geographically close to home—roughly 30 miles from where I live. It has weighed very heavily on me and resulted in me acknowledging some truths I’d rather ignore.

To be perfectly honest, for a person who grew up in rural America, in a basically exclusively white community, and has lived in predominantly white communities since, I have no understanding of racial relations. When almost all the people you encounter in your normal day-to-day living are the same race as you, and that race is white, you really never think about race. Because I grew up never having to think about race, when I encounter people of different races it never really crosses my mind that a) they are of a different race, and b) that their experiences in life may be impacted by their race. I just assume they are like me since we’re shopping at the same Target. I’ve always kind of thought this attitude, that I didn’t really notice race, was a good thing. It meant I wasn’t racist. It meant I was seeing all people as humans. After all, that was an anthem in the 1990s of my college years—be “colorblind” as the EnVogue tune “Free Your Mind” encouraged. It meant that I wasn’t part of the problem. Or so I thought.

I read an article a couple of years ago by a person of color that mentioned being “colorblind” wasn’t a good way to deal with racial disparity and thought, “We just can’t win. If white people bring the topic of race up, we’re considered racist. If we are ‘colorblind,’ we’re insensitive. What are we supposed to do?” I was frustrated.

Taking the “colorblind” route does mean I’m not racist in the traditional sense of the term; I don’t allow the color of your skin determine if I like you or how I treat you. However, it does mean that I’m racially ignorant or, to use some of my expensive but largely useless sociology degree, ethnocentric, and that is not good. Because I have always lived in areas with low crime rates, low non-white populations, and many times non-existent police forces, I don’t see the few non-white neighbors I do have being treated unjustly because of their skin color. And, like most people, I tend to think if I don’t see it happening it must not be happening. From my perspective, “playing the race card” just seemed to be a way to try to gain attention, receive special treatment, or play the victim.

What my reflection on George Floyd’s death did was hit me with the stark reality that I have been guilty of assuming all people are living experiences similar to mine. I think most of us in middle-class and affluent America are guilty of this and not just in terms of race. Everything we see is geared towards us. We have the disposable income to afford the gadgets in ads and the free time to have the hobbies pictured on Pinterest. There is no reason for us to not be ethnocentric because we live in a bubble that largely shields us from the parts of society we don’t want to think about. Being racially ignorant is part of the problem. What the solution is is another matter.

After thinking about all of this stuff for weeks now, I am finding myself with a very heavy heart. This is 2020–more than 150 years after the conclusion of the Civil War and 50-ish years after the Civil Rights movement. It seems like we should be a lot further along in the process of racial equality by now. I suspect some of the reason why we’re not is that racial equality isn’t really a legislative or legal issue but a heart one. And, in our American way of trying to find quick solutions for problems, we have failed to address the heart issue and have opted for just passing laws. Anti-discrimination laws don’t end the use of skin color or race as factors but just twist that use to be acceptable. They still draw attention to it and, by making it illegal to refuse employment or services based on someone’s race, they cause things to swing the other way where a minority’s race makes them favored for fear of breaking the law. To put that sociology degree to use again, it is known as reverse discrimination. It is just as much using race as a criterion where it shouldn’t be, only it is acceptable because it favors non-whites. It breeds a low-level resentment that continues to allow true racists to feel vindicated in their attitudes and perpetuate them to future generations. Legislation does not work; it covers up the problem and allows us to turn a blind eye to it. If it did work, we wouldn’t still be having these problems.

Education about racial disparity is good, but ultimately heart change doesn’t come through education but through relationships. Relationships can’t be forced or legislated. Relationships take time, patience, and work on both sides. It is hard to accept that we will likely not see huge strides in racial equality in our own lifetimes because of this. We want it fixed, and we want it fixed now. But the quick solutions aren’t going to bring true or lasting change. It’s discouraging and somewhat hopeless. Culture-wide change will take much prayer and individual change. Prayer, while always appropriate and very powerful, cannot be the only weapon here. We must start by changing ourselves. Perhaps Michael Jackson said it best in his song, “Man in the Mirror.” “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” From here on out, I have to be vigilant about listening to the experiences of others so I can try to understand their world and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

And this is where I’m going to say some stuff that will really get folks riled up and will likely be misunderstood as me not caring that people of color often face difficulties because of their skin color, but here it goes. Even after the above realization of my own failure to recognize the reality of white privilege, I still wonder, is it possible that police officers like those in the George Floyd case are sometimes simply abusing their power, period? Could it be that some of these incidents have nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity but are just because some people will abuse whoever is in a position of weakness? Given that half of the officers involved in this particular incident where minorities themselves it does seem somewhat presumptuous to assume that George Floyd was brutalized solely because of his skin color. And, as of this writing, I have not heard that there is any evidence from witnesses or body cameras that indicates his race was a factor. Again, I’m not saying racial tensions and abuse don’t exist, but labeling every bad thing done between two people with different skin colors as being racially motivated is doing more harm than good. It is polarizing us and further widening a gap that is not good for humanity. Yes, when it’s a hate crime, call it a hate crime. However, don’t assume it’s a hate crime automatically.

Don’t misunderstand me. No one should be treated the way George Floyd was, especially if it was the result of his skin color. And sadly, it took his death to reveal to me an understanding of my own ethnocentricity. But in it, and the resulting media fallout, I also see a big problem, that of championing Us vs. Them by the “news” media of this country. There is an undertone that you have to be at one extreme or the other about almost everything—Republican vs. Democrat, white vs. black, Black Lives Matter vs. law enforcement, man vs. woman, believer vs. unbeliever, citizen vs. immigrant, masks vs. no masks to slow COVID spread. This has got to stop or we’re going to end up in a very bad place if we aren’t already there. And, social media is a HUGE part of the problem. Almost everything shared on it is fake. I mean, you do realize that almost nothing that appears to look like a screenshot of a post or text from someone’s phone is actually real, or “organic” in social media speak, right? It is all created to “go viral.” The goal is to get it shared as many times as possible to take potshots at those who don’t agree with you. And those “news” videos with “experts” are just as fake. Yes, they may be from an actual news source, but it all has a slant. Just because the slant agrees with your opinion on the matter doesn’t mean it is the “real” news. It is so easy to tear each other down when we don’t have to look each other in the eye, see others as humans, and have actual conversations about things we disagree on. It feels so much better in the moment to hide behind a screen armed with “news” that appears to give legitimacy to our opinion, but the long-term effects of such behavior are going to destroy us. I have seen friends and relatives very publicly roast each other on social media over mask-wearing, each side posting fake news to back up their claim, ruining relationships.

I would encourage everyone to ask themselves the following questions that I have been asking myself. Take them to God in prayer and let Him shine the light of truth on your answers. Because the human mind and heart are very deceitful, it is easy to fool yourself that your answers are honest and your behavior is right. Be willing to hear the truth about your own part in all of this so we can all become part of the solution.

  • Am I assuming that my experience is the same as that of others? Have I been ethnocentric, assumed everyone has the same socioeconomic status as me, or think everyone shares my worldview?
  • Have I made an effort to actually talk in-person to those who don’t share my views to try to understand where they are coming from, even if I think they are wrong or don’t share their opinions, beliefs, or ideals? Have I done so or can I do so without trying to change their mind or prove I’m right?
  • Am I believing things I see on social media without verifying their authenticity? Do I think they are true just because they agree with what I already believe? Just to put that sociology degree to use again, this is known as confirmation bias.
  • Am I sharing and posting things just to be “right” or prove others are “wrong”?
  • Are the comments I am making being made in love or are they being used to tear others down, prove I am “right”, or be snarky?
  • Would I say in person, if I had to look them in the eye, the things I am posting or commenting?
  • Is this a foolish and stupid argument? Many things on social media are. Often, people don’t want to discuss, they want to argue. Arguing for the sake of argument or just to be “right” is a foolish and stupid reason to argue.
  • How am I acting in ways that are being part of the solution? Things like buying food for a food shelf, offering to mow a neighbor’s lawn, picking up litter in the park, or volunteering are actions that are going to build the relationships that will help solve things. Change involves action. People’s hearts and minds are not changed by seeing some meme on Facebook. They are changed by seeing people’s actions done in love and having honest discussions in love. “Yelling” (in the form of memes, snarky comments, and fake news shares) at others on social media is not acting but arguing.

Make no mistake, I am not claiming I am perfect on these points. I’m not even close. There are times I just want to prove I’m right. I can get sucked into foolish and stupid arguments in a heartbeat. Like most people, I tend to be a lot of talk and very little action. However, I have taken an honest look at what these questions mean in my life; the answers aren’t pretty. But, I refuse to remain part of the problem.

The Truth Behind My Mask

Me with my mask

This morning I donned my mask and headed to the grocery store. For me, wearing a mask isn’t a simple straight forward thing of the CDC recommends it to help protect against spreading COVID-19 so I do it. No, with me, many things often involve a lot more psychological wrestling than they should.

You see, deciding to wear a mask or not exposes deeply rooted tendencies I’d rather not have. In particular, I want people to not judge me. Therefore, I want to know how many other people are going to be wearing masks so I can make the choice that will put me in the majority so I don’t look like the odd man out. I’m the odd man out enough as it is; I don’t need to be deliberately doing things that will make it worse. The problem with mask-wearing is I really can’t win. I live in exurbia, close enough to a major metropolitan area for commuting to work there but out past the immediate suburbs, where the culture is smalltown. This means mask-wearing is about 50/50—half of the people do and half don’t. So, if I opt to wear a mask, I’m going to have about half of the people I see at the store looking at me and thinking, “Oh, you’re one of those paranoid people.” But, if I don’t wear a mask, the other half of the people I encounter are going to be thinking, “How can you be so irresponsible!?!? You’re endangering us all!” I can’t win.

I wouldn’t have this problem if I didn’t have mixed feelings about the mask recommendation myself. If I firmly believed masks were going to be a major game changer in this pandemic, it wouldn’t bother me to wear one, even if it made people think I’m paranoid. If I firmly believed masks were worthless as a prevention strategy, it wouldn’t bother me to go without one, even if it made people think I’m a public health menace. However, I don’t believe either of those things wholeheartedly. Yes, masks probably make us somewhat safER, particularly if the majority of people use them. But, they don’t make us safe. Life is not safe. On the other hand, I understand the fear of getting sick many are experiencing right now, even if I don’t share that fear myself. For me, if I get sick, I get sick. It’s just not a worry I have. It’s okay if you do worry about getting sick and I don’t; I’m not right and you’re not wrong. It’s just a different perspective. I don’t want to increase your worry for yourself and your family though by refusing to do something simple that is not risking harm to me just because I don’t have the same concerns.

Automobile Mishaps & The True Meaning of Christmas

Each year with our annual Christmas card, we send a recap of highlights from the past year. It started out as a newsletter of sorts but over the last couple of years morphed into more non-traditional outtakes that would fit on the back of a 5×7 card. A couple years ago it was an infograph relating some of our stats for the year (like how many miles we drove in a circle running kids to various activities and jobs). Last year it was screenshots of interesting text messages between the parents and teens in our house. But this year’s news from our place ended up a little deeper than usual.

As we tossed around what to share, we settled on the year’s automobile mishaps, of which there were three. In June, a semi kicked up a rock smashing the sunroof on one car. Then in July, there was a parking lot paint exchange with our minivan. And in mid-November, our youngest and I were hit by a drunk driver. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the car did not fare so well.

The set of circumstances surrounding this last incident brought on some pondering. We often hear people grumble that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost and how we need to “put Christ back in Christmas,” but it seems the grumblers stop at grumbling. In a world where many people have never known the true meaning of Christmas, let alone that it’s lost, or who this Christ is that is supposed to be in Christmas, it seems that just grumbling about it only alienates and divides. And, slapping a Bible verse on your Christmas card does nothing to help those who are lost see the real meaning. So, I opted to step out on a limb with my family and friends to be the very light I’m called to be with four truths about the meaning of Christmas. They got an edited version because it had to fit on a 5×7 card, but you get the whole enchilada.

1. Believer or unbeliever, saved or unsaved, drunk or sober, God cares about you. There are lots of people who don’t want to believe this and lots of people who don’t want you to believe this, but it’s true. God cares about every human being on this planet–even the people you don’t like, the people who are different from you, and, yes, you. God cares just as much about the drunk young man who hit us as He does about me. He cares about your homosexual co-worker. He cares about Muslims and atheists. This is a truth that is often distorted. Well-meaning people sometimes give the impression that God only cares about the people who believe in Him or who behave “correctly” or who have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ. But the fact of the matter is He does care about everyone.

2. Even crunched up parts that seem proportionally small can render an entire object useless. Most of our wrecked car is fine, but the part that isn’t fine means we can’t use it. Engine’s great. Transmission’s great. The majority of the body is great. However, a smashed rear quarter panel, no left rear brake light, no left rear turn signal, and lack of access to the fuel tank make it unsafe and soon out of gas. Similarly, even those tiny little sins (i.e. gossip) that don’t seem so bad compared to the big sins of others (i.e. murder) are a big problem when it comes to having a relationship with God. To God, sin is sin. All sin means a relationship with Him is out of the question unless somehow we can be made free of sin, even the tiny little sins.

3. Our car was diagnosed as unfixable by three body shops. There was just no way they could put it together, even just together enough to make it safe. And there is nothing you can do to fix all the crunched-up parts of your life on your own. You just get one sin under control and another one pops up to take its place. Stamp that one out and here comes another. Think you got them all? What about that juicy tidbit of “news” you shared with co-workers over lunch? Or that neighbor you complain about to anyone who will listen? The truth is, no matter how hard we try not to, we will always sin.

4. God will take the crunched-up parts of your life and make them new when you put your faith and trust in Jesus. We didn’t get a brand new Tesla (or F-150 or Jeep Wrangler as some family members wanted) to replace our 21-year-old Accord. But, our needs were met with a 19-year-old Civic that’s at least as good as the Accord despite having crank windows. You won’t be perfect. Life won’t be problem-free. But you will be able to have peace that something good will be accomplished through the crunching. And that is the ultimate blessing of Christmas!

Faith & Prayer

Faith is not believing that God can; it is knowing that God will.

As I completed the homework for my small group Bible study this week I finally admitted something to myself and to God (not that He didn’t already know, obviously) that I’ve sensed the Holy Spirit’s conviction on for quite some time. I pray with doubt. This is not good. Jesus Himself specifically cautioned against this (Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23) and James, Jesus’ brother, boldly states that doubters shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:5-8). Though James’ statement is somewhat absurd as, by definition, doubters don’t expect to receive anything from God or they wouldn’t be doubters. Anyway… In my mind, I resisted acknowledging my doubt in prayer because, well, to do so would prove I’m not a “real” Christian. Of course, this is also absurd and a trap of the Enemy. The Bible gives us accounts of Peter doubting (the walking on water incident in Matthew 14:22-32; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21), Thomas doubting (the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in John 20:24-31), and even the Twelve as a group doubting (Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 22-25 and the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in Mark 16:14). Not once did Jesus say or imply that these doubts made them any less real followers of His. He simply encouraged them to remain close to Him.

Like most humans in their human nature, I tend toward putting God in a box. We like to figure things out, have things under control, know what to expect, and it bothers us that with God we just can’t. But it doesn’t stop us from trying. For some people, this looks like legalism–rule-keeping. Others become ritualistic–keeping a religious superstitious OCD routine. Me, I pray with doubt. It sounds something like this, “God, please cure Diane’s cancer. I know you can. Amen.” Sounds good. It even sounds like I’m trusting in God and believing Him to cure her. But in my heart, I’m thinking it’s really unlikely to happen and preparing myself to be told that Diane has passed away. I’m doubting. I try to disguise the doubt by labeling it as “being realistic.” Obviously, God doesn’t physically cure every person or even the majority of people who suffer physical ailments and are prayed for with genuinely faithful prayers. For someone who has been constantly disappointed by her hopes in life, I find I want to protect myself by preparing for the worst and/or most humanly likely scenario. I want to go with the odds rather than “gamble” on God and have to deal with the emotional fallout when what I believed He should and would do doesn’t happen. And so now I find myself with the prayer of Mark 9:24, “The father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!'”

Pumpkin Pie Cake – THM (S)

First things first, this post contains more links than I typically use. I do not participate in affiliate programs and the links are included only for your convenience.

I know, I know. I claimed I’m not a chef and I’m not. I’m not a baker either (despite it being my late great-grandfather’s occupation). So what’s with another recipe, you ask? Well, it’s all things pumpkin season and my mother makes this pumpkin pie cake that our entire family loves. It’s an upside-down cake of sorts–pumpkin pie-type filling on the bottom with a crust on top. The problem? Besides calling for 1 cup of suger (Yikes! I can just feel the blood sugar spike reading the recipe.) and sweetened condensed milk for the pumpkin filling portion, it uses a boxed yellow cake mix, which has more sugar and refined flour, to make the crust topping. Since beginning THM four years ago, I’ve counted her pumpkin pie cake as one of those once-a-year “cheat” things I have at Thanksgiving and call it an “off-plan personal choice” in moderation. But this year, I got a wild hair to see just what would happen if mixed two recipes from a couple of food blogs together. I used the cake (pumpkin) portion of the Pumpkin Cream Cake* from Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen (which you should also make because it is AWESOME!) and used Sheri Graham’s Vanilla Cake Master Mix* in place of the boxed cake mix. I keep a double batch of Sheri’s Vanilla Cake Master Mix in the pantry because I make my Fun-Sans-Fetti Cake Batter Dip with it, but in the recipe below I’ve just included the individual ingredients in case you don’t have the mix on hand. Well, the results were exactly what I had hoped for! Since my kids tasted it and proclaimed it to be as good as the real thing, I wanted to share.

With homemade THM-compatible ice cream

I do want to add a caveat though, while this is a health-IER recipe than the original due to removing the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and cake mix, it is still pretty calorie-dense. There are over 2-1/2 tablespoons of butter in each serving. And, as THMers know, counting calories isn’t necessary, but you don’t want to abuse them either. You won’t want to make this a frequent dessert so as to avoid calorie abuse, but it is a great sugar-free treat for special occasions like Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Pie Cake Recipe – THM (S)

Ingredients

For the pumpkin pie “filling”:

  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 2/3 cup THM Super Sweet Blend
  • 2 cans of pumpkin, 15 oz. each (or one 29 oz. can)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups THM Baking Blend (or 1 cup coconut flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the crust topping:

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray 9×13 cake pan with coconut oil cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and sweetener. Stir in pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking blend, baking powder, and spices, stirring to combine thoroughly. Pour this mixture into prepared 9×13 pan and spread out.

In a separate bowl, combine oat fiber, coconut flour, whey protein powder, sweetener, salt, baking powder, and glucomannan. Mix well. Sprinkle this dry mixture over the pumpkin. Drizzle 1 cup of melted butter over dry cake mix. Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving. Serves well with homemade whipped cream or THM-compatible ice cream.

As written, this recipe serves 12-15. It can easily be halved and baked in a 9×7 pan for 45 minutes to serve 6-8.

Click here to print this recipe

* Many thanks to Sarah Criddle and Sheri Graham for letting me share all or portions of their recipes in this post. Please visit Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen at https://mrscriddleskitchen.com and Sheri Graham at https://sherigraham.com for more great recipes.

Update: My Big Belly

Since, according to my WordPress website stats thingy, my post about my big belly (No, I’m Not Pregnant: My Big Belly) is one of my most popular I thought maybe I should give an update on that. For the sake of summary for those who don’t want to go read the original post, when I started THM I was wondering if there was any hope to shrink my disproportionally large belly. I looked 10-months pregnant and I wasn’t (see timeline series below). What follows is an abstract of a couple of years of medical testing to figure out an unrelated mysterious digestive issue that ultimately helped uncover at least part of why I have had a distended abdomen since the day I was born. My belly has shrunk considerably, but you would expect it to do so when losing 85 pounds. It is still a little bulge-y though.

My belly today
Timeline series from January 2016 through September 2019

After I had been following THM for about 6 months, I started getting this horrible pain in my abdomen, mainly in the upper right quadrant just below my ribs, after S meals. My mind, and my doctor’s mind, immediately went to gall stones. The symptoms were kind of classic–eat a fatty meal and 20 minutes later I was in pain so bad I couldn’t sit or do anything but lie down and wait for a couple hours for it to subside. I mean I couldn’t even concentrate enough to play Candy Crush to pass the time while I waited for it to go away; it hurt that bad. Had an abdominal ultrasound. No gall stones. My doctor suggested a HIDA scan to see if my gallbladder was just “sluggish,” but at that point, something in me didn’t really feel it was my gallbladder at all. I elected to wait and see.

Several months later, I had an attack so bad that I had my teen daughter drive me to the emergency room. Another ultrasound, this time by an ER doc that the nurse assured me was an ultrasound imaging wizard (he’d gone through some kind of fellowship program on it I guess). No gall stones. From there, the episodes morphed into a feeling like there was a sock stuffed below my right ribcage a lot of the time rather than pain so bad I couldn’t sit up. Needless to say, that sensation became pretty annoying. Back to my primary doctor I went. Another ultrasound. Still no gallstones nor anything else out of the ordinary. Off to a HIDA scan. Nothing. And then a CT scan. And then a lower GI series. (I’ll let you Google that to find out what it involves.) A visit with a gastroenterologist. Finally, a referral to a surgeon.

Come to find out I have something fairly rare known as mobile cecum, which means the part of my large intestine where the small one joins the large (right where my appendix is) is not anchored to my abdominal wall like it should be. It’s a birth defect (something I was born with). Essentially my appendix, and the portions of small and large intestine around it, is by my belly button. And, they can move about because they are not fixed in place like they should be. Also, I have an abnormally long descending colon (large intestine on my left side). Because I have more than the typical stuff in there and some of it is in the wrong place, it pushes my abdominal wall out rather than allowing it to be flat no matter how skinny I get. These abnormalities also finally explain, at least partly, my lifelong problems with constipation and digestion, and why eating more fiber and getting more exercise–the standard recommendation for constipation–have never been effective for relieving it for me. The fix? They could go in and sew the loose part to the wall where it belongs. BUT often abdominal surgery like that results in scar tissue (adhesions) forming around the abdominal organs, which can then cause intestinal blockages or strictures that reduce or block blood flow to organs resulting in organ death. Meaning more surgery. Possibly leading to more adhesions. Then more surgery. That cycle could be worse than the symptoms themselves, so I’m electing to live with it. However, neither the gastroenterologist nor the surgeon felt that this discovery explains the sock-stuffed feeling. That remains a mystery.

Fun-Sans-Fetti Cake Batter Dip – THM (FP or E)

First things first, this post contains more links than I typically use. I do not participate in affiliate programs and the links are included only for your convenience.

My apologies. This post is very long for what is effectively a recipe equivalent to boxed mac & cheese. There is a good reason for that and if you follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating you’ll want to read the whole post.

For her recent birthday, my 14-year-old daughter requested Funfetti Dip instead of a traditional cake. As she and her friends whisked the bowl of goodness off to the basement with a box of Aldi-knockoff Nilla Wafers, I started some wishful thinking. Funfetti Dip is YUM but not very healthy. Boxed cake mix, frozen whipped topping, vanilla yogurt, and vanilla wafer cookies are a simple carb recipe for blood sugar disaster. But what if… I recalled a THM-friendly cake mix recipe. Hmmm… Oikos Triple Zero Greek Nonfat Yogurt is on-plan. I wonder… Good old-fashioned whipped cream is an S… Sprinkles for the ‘fetti are tricky but I can worry about that later… Off to the kitchen I went.

My first attempt involved THM-compatible versions of all three ingredients: Sheri Graham’s Vanilla Cake Master Mix*, a single-serve container of Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla Greek Yogurt, and some homemade whipped cream.

Pretty, it wasn’t since the ‘fetti’s main job is decoration and I still didn’t have a sub for that. But it did not disappoint in flavor! However, who wants to make whipped cream every time you want a quick snack and the fat in the whipped cream was probably bordering on crossover territory. So I tried it with just the yogurt and cake mix. Viola! Quick. Easy. No fat to be troubled by. I wouldn’t even really call it a recipe. Once you have a batch of cake mix made up and stashed away, it’s about as simple as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Now, what to eat it with… Obviously not vanilla wafer cookies. Needs to be something FP… I gaze into the fridge. Not my standby chip substitute of sliced cucumbers or celery. Hmmm… Eureka! Strawberries, of course!

And I’ll confess, sometimes I just eat it straight up with a spoon. Tastes like cake batter. For a snack, I stick to eating half the batch with berries. The other half gets put in the fridge for a snack the next day. Sometimes though, I have it for breakfast. In that case, I eat the entire batch with 1/2 cup of berries and about 1/4 cup of homemade granola.

Breakfast Version

This categorization of this “recipe” is going to be a little touchy for some THMs. Here’s why: it doesn’t really fit neatly into S, E, FP, XO categories and you can start numbering yourself right into the looney bin. HOWEVER, I believe it will illustrate the very concept of food freedom you can embrace as part of THM. If you’re not a follower of THM and are just after a yummy and healthy snack feel free to skip all this and go straight to the recipe section. If you are a “mama”, take a deep breath, keep an open mind, and let’s break this down.

The base of this recipe is Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla Greek Nonfat Yogurt. It’s considered an FP food. The other main portion of this is Sheri Graham’s Vanilla Cake Master Mix. It is also considered FP. So, the question in the back of a THM’s mind is, “When combined, do the carbs or fat in them push them into E or S territory at all?” Since there is no fat to speak of in either part, it wouldn’t go into S. That leaves the carb question. And here is where I will push some “mama’s” buttons and open myself up to some criticism. I don’t care how many carbs are in it combined. <GASP!> How can I be that blasé about it? Won’t all my progress on THM be lost and I’ll end up back at 225 pounds? Maybe, IF I were that indifferent to the status of everything I ate. But here’s the deal: most of what I eat fits nicely into S, E, and FP boxes, so this one thing that doesn’t isn’t a big deal. All the ingredients are on-plan. I know that there are carbs in the yogurt and cake mix and that together the amount of carbs may push it close to E territory but because there is no healthy carb source it can’t really be E by itself. If I add a cup or more of berries (or 1/2 cup or more of blueberries) it could be E because now I have healthy carbs. When I have it for breakfast with berries and granola it is certainly an E. As I said, there is no fat so I know it’s not S and therefore can be a crossover. Because I know these things that are the basics of the THM way of life, I make sure I keep it at least 3 hours from any other meal or snack to avoid crossing over or fuel stacking. And, I don’t eat it every day. It’s a good treat, but as with all things, moderation is key. Therefore, no problem not knowing exactly what it is or what its numbers are. I know it doesn’t mix fuels because of the lack of fat, and that’s all I need to know. (To those THMs cringing at this because I’m not singing “pure” THM doctrine, I get it. I do. This type of thinking is scary. It can easily lead to adopting such an attitude with everything and derailing into old unhealthy habits–see note below. I understand. No need to give me lectures or nasty comments.) If I were really pressed to give it a letter designation, I’d say it’s FP if eaten on its own because there isn’t really a healthy carb source without the berries to make it E. It’s probably E if you add berries. Those are just my personal leanings on the categories though. And again, if you add berries and granola to eat it as a meal, it’s definitely E because of the healthy carb sources in the berries and oats.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL THMers: If you are following a THM lifestyle, one should always attempt to identify foods as S, E, FP and pair them appropriately, as I have done with this snack. I’m NOT telling you to throw caution to the wind. I do not want to cause anyone to use this explanation as license to adopt this philosophy with all foods. My purpose in the above explanation is to give an example of food freedom within the framework of THM guidelines. If you know you have a tendency to “let an inch turn into a mile,” to paraphrase my mama, then stick to things that are more concrete in classification. You have to know your personal issues and work THM within those boundaries.

Fun-Sans-Fetti Cake Batter Dip Recipe – THM (FP or E)

Ingredients
Preparation

In a cereal-size bowl, mix the Greek yogurt and Vanilla Cake Master Mix. Add berries and/or granola on the side. Enjoy!

For a snack, eat half the batch with or without berries. Put the remaining half in the fridge for a snack the next day. For a meal (Yes, you can eat this as a meal. I give you permission—food freedom, baby!), eat the entire batch with 1/2 cup of berries and about 1/4 cup of homemade granola. On its own, with no berries, this recipe is FP. If you add more than 1 cup of berries (or more than ½ cup of blueberries), it will be an E. When adding granola, it is also an E.

Click here to print this recipe. Printed recipe includes Vanilla Cake Master Mix recipe.

To make a batch of Vanilla Cake Master Mix, mix the following ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Give the container a good shake or two before using to remix ingredients.

* Many thanks to Sheri Graham for letting me share her Vanilla Cake Master Mix recipe here. Visit her blog at https://sherigraham.com for more great recipes.

Be Careful What You Chase

A few years ago, I took up jogging. I’m not a serious runner. Two 3-mile runs a week and a handful of 5ks a year are the extent of my commitment. It’s what my schedule comfortably allows. I mean, I like jogging but I’m not willing to get up before 7:30 to do it, and if I don’t do it first thing in the day, it doesn’t get done.

Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line.

Running is a dangerous hobby for me—and not just because I managed to fall flat on my face (literally) during my cool down walk one morning. It gives me time to think of all kinds of things that are way deeper or way weirder (or both) than I normally come up with. Somehow, these deep, weird thoughts usually revolve around what tracks are on my running playlist. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I was bopping along to The Tractors Baby Likes to Rock It. Yes, I know that dates me. Anyway, they get to the line, “She said her name was ’emergency’ and asked to see my gun / Said her telephone number was 911,” and I wondered if my friend who is a 9-1-1 dispatcher had ever told someone that in a social situation. Weird. (I asked her, and she said she hadn’t but that now she was going to have too. Also weird, but we’re friends for a reason.) The other day, I was jogging along to another oldie-but-goodie, End of the Line by the Traveling Wilburys, and found it somewhat poetic that I was making my way down an old railroad grade turned rec trail and not getting any younger. See what I mean? Weird and deep. Somewhat unsettling for someone not accustomed to deep.

Several months ago, I signed up to run a Ragnar Sunset Relay with my sister and a couple friends. A team of four people divides a marathon into 6.5-mile legs. Each person runs one leg to finish the marathon before the sun sets. It would be over twice as far as I had ever gone, but a girl needs a good challenge once in a while, and a full Ragnar isn’t going to happen for me. I trained hard. Up hills. In the blazing hot sun. And, I threw some worship music on the end of my race-day playlist. I knew by mile 5 I was going to need Jesus.

Right around mile 6 this <ahem> very nice looking <ahem> young man comes up on my left and lops easily past me. Maybe 25-ish, no shirt, lean, toned muscles, tan, glistening with sweat—not real sweat, the kind like a magazine ad for running shoes. My sorry, old-enough-to-be-this-guy’s-mother, 46-year-old, vertically-challenged self was drenched with enough sweat (and not the pretty glistening kind) to fill a pool. Struggling to breathe (I may be exaggerating a bit on the breathing), I was wondering how a half-mile could seem so impossibly long. The first thought through my head was, “How is it that he looks so good in sweat?” Followed by, “How in the world can he make this look so easy?” And then I catch a glimpse of the cross necklace flipped to his back for the race. It wasn’t just a small cross either—probably a good 4” tall. So I think, “Just follow the cross,” as I turn up Hillsong’s No Other Name on my phone coupled with a quick prayer of, “Jesus, just let me finish—soon.” Never mind that within 15 feet he’s so far ahead of me I can’t even see him or the cross anymore. Then the deep thoughts kick in.

Just because this guy is wearing a cross necklace doesn’t mean he’s actually a Christian. There are plenty of people running around that wear crosses as a fashion statement or because their grandmother gave them one as a present. And there is the possibility that he says he’s a Christian but really isn’t. Plenty of people think they are Christians but aren’t exactly in a relationship with Christ. Sometimes we are lured into following after something or someone appealing just because they are sporting a cross. Thinking we are chasing Christ, we discover much later that we weren’t chasing Christ at all. We find ourselves following after the human being delivering the message rather than the Giver of the message, the worship song or artist rather than the One worthy of worship, the image of the cross rather than The Cross. Okay, God, I got the point. And the distraction of this little self-sermon gets me far enough to see the hand-off tent where my teammate is waiting to grab our team bib from me and make up for the time I’ve delayed us. Jesus had taken me to the finish line with a message. Deep.

superfood salad photo

Super-Easy, Super-Versatile Superfood Salad – THM (FP)

I’m the laziest chef. In fact, I wouldn’t even go so far as to call me a chef. I’m not even a cook. I taught my kids how to cook right about the time I started Trim Healthy Mama (THM) and haven’t really cooked since. They were 10, 13, and 15 at the time and after about a year of cooking dinners with me, I turned them loose. Each cooks twice per week with no supervision. As homeschoolers, we call it home-ec (or I guess family and consumer science as it is known these days). In fact, as I write this, my youngest, now 14, is whipping up some Fifteen-Minute Focaccia Bread from the Trim Healthy Table Cookbook to go with our dinner salad. But I came up with this salad a few weeks ago and wanted to share. It’s my kind of cooking–minimal ingredients, nothing special, and very versatile–not even actually a recipe.

Part of the beauty is that this salad can be used as either a side dish or as a meal itself. In the amounts shown, this recipe easily serves five as a meal and goes even further when used as a side dish. It is very filling. When using as a side dish, stick to adding things like additional veggies or berries with extras in garnish amounts. If wanting it as a meal, add a protein source like lean deli meat, steak, pre-cooked or canned chicken breast, or a hard-boiled egg or two and then pile on more veggies and extras. At our house, we mix up the salad with the base ingredients and whatever other veggies and garnishes we have on hand and let each person use the dressing of their choice. However, I’ve come up with some variations below that are excellent meals and make good dishes to take to pot-luck type gatherings. It also feeds at least 8 people as a side dish and 5 as a main dish, with enough for a couple meals of leftovers.

And just a little side note: When people say THM is too hard to understand, I tell them hogwash. If my 10-year-old could learn what ingredients make S, E, and FP so can you. I’m not saying that to make anyone feel bad but to encourage them. You can do it.

Okay, now back to business. The base recipe here consists of only three ingredients: cauliflower, kale or spinach, and cucumber. I know, it sounds boring and way too healthy to be considered good, but work with me here. The other thing we should get out of the way before starting is that I tend to cook with handfuls and piles poured into my palm rather than cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. The written recipes include standard measures in case handfuls and piles make you break out in a rash but if you’re not much on measuring feel free to eyeball things.

chopped cauliflowerThese days, cauliflower is being used as a substitute for all kinds of things like mashed potatoes, rice, and pizza crust. You’ll notice that the things it is being subbed for are the filler items of meals. It functions the same way in this recipe; it’s filling. I use 2 bags of pre-cut cauliflower florets because, well, I’m lazy. Hey, I warned you. But, you can use a regular old head of cauliflower and cut it up yourself if you don’t mind the extra work. That way is more budget-friendly and allows you to use organic or homegrown cauli if those are important for you, but it takes away a bit of the super-easy aspect. You could also use 2 bags of frozen cauliflower florets and just let them sit in the fridge overnight to thaw if you’re so inclined. I take my cauli florets and chop them up to the size of about a quarter using a rocking method seen here. You could also throw them in a food processor and pulse once or twice. The size is a personal preference thing. They can be as big or as small as you want. I find that when they are smaller the salad mixes up better, but you do you on size.

chopped kaleNext comes the kale. If you’re not a big kale fan, you can use spinach. Sometimes I use a mix of both. It largely depends on what we have in the fridge and what is coming out of DH’s garden. If you’re not a big spinach fan either, use whatever salad greens float your boat. I grab 3-4 handfuls of kale, give it a good rinse, shake it off well, and maybe even pat it dry to prevent the salad from becoming watery. Throw it in a large bowl, grab a kitchen shear (scissor) or a clean regular scissors, and go to town chopping it up. Again, how small is a personal preference thing. Add the chopped cauli to the kale bowl.

Finally, the cucumber. I use English cucumbers because they are seedless and less watery than regular cucumbers but either is fine. If using a regular cuke, you will probably want to seed it. You can also use zucchini or again a mix of the two. As with the kale, at our house it sometimes happens that we have one and not the other or a small amount of each. (And yes, this is the way cooking goes when DH or I cook–whatever’s in the fridge ends up in the pot. The kids follow recipes.) Don’t peel it. The peel has lots of good vitamins and fiber and peeling just takes up time. Give it a good rinse and dry. Cut the cucumber in half from end to end. Take each half and cut it in thirds from end to end, then cut the strips into chunks (yes, it’s a technical term). Mix the cucumber in with the kale and cauliflower.  That’s it!

base salad mixture

Now comes the fun part, dressing it. If you’re THM you can dress the salad as either an S or FP. Remember, stuff from the FP list is also acceptable in an S setting but S items do not belong in FP. If you’re not THM that means nothing to you and that’s okay. You can pile on whatever strikes your fancy.

S Options FP Options
Low-sugar dressing of choice
(less than 2g carbs per serving)
Lemon Juice or Vinegar for dressing
(can add up to 1 teaspoon olive oil or
2 teaspoons MCT oil, if desired)
Cheese, any variety Onion
Olives Roasted Red Bell Pepper
Nuts (palmful per serving) Diced Bell Pepper
Steak Tomato
Hard-Boiled Egg Sugar Snap Peas
Mushrooms
Other Non-Starchy Veggies
Berries
(up to 1/2 cup blueberries per serving
or up to 1 cup of other berries)
Chicken Breast (pre-cooked or canned)
Lean Deli Meat
Tuna (packed in water)
Salmon

 

 

Super-Easy, Super-Versatile Superfood Salad Base Recipe – THM (FP)

Ingredients
    • 2 (10 oz.) bags fresh cauliflower florets (or 1 head cauliflower florets)
    • 3-4 cups kale or spinach (or a mix of the two)
    • 1 cucumber
Preparation

Rinse and drain cauliflower florets. You can pat them dry to help ensure your salad doesn’t end up watery. Chop the florets into small bite-size pieces or throw them in a food processor and pulse once or twice. You can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and drain kale. Again, pat dry if necessary.  Take a kitchen scissor (or even clean regular scissors will work) and chop the kale into smaller pieces. Like the cauli, you can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and dry the cucumber. Slice it in half along its length. Take each half and slice again along the length twice so each half ends up in 3 long strips. Cut the strips into bite-size pieces.

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.  You can serve the salad as is with your favorite dressing, try one of the variations or additions listed below, or create your own variation! Feeds 8 as a side dish or 5 as a main dish.

Click here to print this recipe. Includes base recipe and all variations in one document.

Superfood BLT Salad Variation

Superfood Italian Salad Variation

Superfood Greek Salad Variation

Nutrition Facts (based on side dish serving size of 1 cup, a meal serving size is more like 2 cups)

superfood salad base recipe nutriton label

Superfood BLT Salad photoThe BLT version of this salad was born out of me happening upon a BLT pasta salad at our local supermarket. It sounded so good but pasta isn’t very healthy, so I set out to see what I could do with my base recipe. In this application, I blanch or parboil the cauliflower for about 5 minutes to give it less of a crunch and more of a pasta texture. And, I know kale isn’t exactly lettuce but we’re going to call it close enough. If you really have to, I guess you could call this BKT Salad or B”L”T Salad.

Superfood BLT Salad – THM (S)

Ingredients
    • 2 (10 oz.) bags fresh cauliflower florets (or 1 head cauliflower florets)
    • 3-4 cups kale or spinach (or a mix of the two)
    • 1 cucumber
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
    • 1-1/2 pounds thick-cut bacon
Preparation

Rinse and drain cauliflower florets. Chop the florets into small bite-size pieces or throw them in a food processor and pulse once or twice. You can leave them as large or small as you like. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and toss the cauli in. Boil for about 5 minutes so florets are firm-tender, similar to an al dente pasta. Drain, rinse with cold water and allow to drain further.

While cauliflower is boiling, cook bacon using your preferred method. In this application, I like to bake it on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Start checking on it after 15 minutes to avoid burning. You want it fairly crisp so it will crumble but not overdone so it doesn’t taste burnt. Set strips on paper towels to absorb grease and cool. When cool, crumble.

As bacon is cooking, prep the remaining vegetables as follows.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half.

Rinse and drain kale. Again, pat dry if necessary.  Take a kitchen scissor (or even clean regular scissors will work) and chop the kale into smaller pieces. Like the cauli, you can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and dry the cucumber. Slice it in half along its length. Take each half and slice again along the length twice so each half ends up in 3 long strips. Cut the strips into bite-size pieces.

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.  Serve the salad with your favorite creamy dressing. Our family particularly likes homemade Dill Pickle Ranch Dressing on it, but even a plain mayo-type dressing or bottled creamy dressing like ranch or blue cheese would be great. You can also use the salad wrapped in a low-carb tortilla with some dressing or mayo. Feeds 8 as a side dish or 5 as a main dish.

Click here to print this recipe. Includes base recipe and all variations in one document.

 

Italian Superfood Salad – THM (S)

Ingredients
    • 2 (10 oz.) bags fresh cauliflower florets (or 1 head cauliflower florets)
    • 3-4 cups kale or spinach (or a mix of the two)
    • 1 cucumber
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
    • 1 cup small pitted black olives or sliced black olives
    • 1 cup cubed or shredded mozzarella cheese
Preparation

Rinse and drain cauliflower florets. You can pat them dry to help ensure your salad doesn’t end up watery. Chop the florets into small bite-size pieces or throw them in a food processor and pulse once or twice. You can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and drain kale. Again, pat dry if necessary.  Take a kitchen scissor (or even clean regular scissors will work) and chop the kale into smaller pieces. Like the cauli, you can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and dry the cucumber. Slice it in half along its length. Take each half and slice again along the length twice so each half ends up in 3 long strips. Cut the strips into bite-size pieces.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half.

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Dress this version with an Italian vinaigrette or creamy Italian dressing. Feeds 8 as a side dish or 5 as a main dish.

Click here to print this recipe. Includes base recipe and all variations in one document.

 

Greek Superfood Salad – THM (S)

Ingredients
    • 2 (10 oz.) bags fresh cauliflower florets (or 1 head cauliflower florets)
    • 3-4 cups kale or spinach (or a mix of the two)
    • 1 cucumber
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
    • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
    • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preparation

Rinse and drain cauliflower florets. You can pat them dry to help ensure your salad doesn’t end up watery. Chop the florets into small bite-size pieces or throw them in a food processor and pulse once or twice. You can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and drain kale. Again, pat dry if necessary.  Take a kitchen scissor (or even clean regular scissors will work) and chop the kale into smaller pieces. Like the cauli, you can leave them as large or small as you like.

Rinse and dry the cucumber. Slice it in half along its length. Take each half and slice again along the length twice so each half ends up in 3 long strips. Cut the strips into bite-size pieces.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half.

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Dress this version with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing with 2g or fewer carbs per serving or even just a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Feeds 8 as a side dish or 5 as a main dish.

Click here to print this recipe. Includes base recipe and all variations in one document.

First-World Problems: A Minor Rant

Yesterday, our internet went out. I knew instantly what the problem was. In an attempt to save a few bucks, we had decided to port our landline (yes, we still had one) to cellular phone service. It seemed kind of silly to pay $30 per month for telemarketers and scammers to be able to call us, but we didn’t want to lose the number because some places like our doctors’ offices do use it. For $15 a month we could add it to our cell phone plan, which was more reasonable. The port had been scheduled to happen overnight the night before, and I knew that in porting the number the telecommunications company had also disconnected our internet service. I didn’t think it was that big of a problem. After all, if they can just flip a switch to turn it off, they should just be able to flip a switch and turn it back on. So I called the technical support number.
I managed to remain calm and pleasant while they ignored everything I told them about the circumstances. They just walked through their checklist flowchart of what could be causing me to have no internet service. Never mind that everything they were having me do I had done already (and had told them as much). They finally decided, after forty-five minutes, that it wasn’t a technical support problem but a customer service one. Again, I had tried to tell them that from the beginning and was mystified because the number I had called was customer service but whatever. The people who answer the phones are programmed to go through a specific sequence no matter what you say so you just have to play along… They transferred me to a “customer service” rep, who assured me they just needed to create a new account for us to attach internet service to and put me on hold. After twenty minutes on hold, he came back and said it’s a little bit complicated but they were working on it. He gave me an order ticket number, a partial new account number, and said they would call me later in the day when everything was done. No problem. I had a dentist appointment and some errands to run anyway. Six hours later, I had heard nothing from them. So I called to see how things were going, only to be told that there was no available bandwidth in our area. Because of this, they couldn’t create new internet service connections until there was, and they had no idea when bandwidth would free up.
“But,” I argued, “this isn’t new service; you just turned off our service by mistake; all you have to do is flip the switch back on. They told me this morning they were going to create a new account for us and restart service.”
“It doesn’t work that way, ma’am. Since the infrastructure in your area is copper, once your service is turned off the port is closed and can’t be used again. The sales system doesn’t sync in real-time with the engineering system so the salespeople didn’t know that engineering couldn’t set it up for you when you talked to them.”
And then, I lost it. First, I wasn’t sure how calling “customer service” resulted in me talking to technical support to start with. Then, how was “customer service” actually a code name for sales? Next, how was it that sales could basically sell something that doesn’t exist? And, why didn’t anyone call me to tell me this when it was discovered? I don’t typically yell, but I do have this tone of voice that, in my mind, is equivalent to yelling. I don’t like it when I use that tone of voice because I know that, even though the other person hears a firm, slightly sarcastic, bordering on rude tone, in my spirit, I am yelling.
“What do you mean no bandwidth?!?” In my head, I knew exactly what it meant; I used to work in IT. “So if I were a new customer and called you for internet service, what would you do?”
“We can’t create new internet accounts at all until bandwidth in your area frees up, so even new customers can’t get internet service.”
I was approaching livid. There are two telecommunications providers in our area, and one of them was telling me they couldn’t provide service to me until God only knows when.
“So what am I supposed to do?!? Get service from your competitor?”
“You can keep checking back to see if ports have become available.” This lady has got to be kidding.
No, I couldn’t. My husband needs an internet connection for his job. My children and I need one for homeschool since I put the assignments they are to work on every day in an online assignment app. Now I’m basically forced to change providers because I can’t sit around waiting for bandwidth from this company that may or may not free up at some point. Sigh. I called the other company available to me. They’d be able to set up my new service–next Tuesday. I called them on Tuesday, meaning it would be a week before my internet service is restored. And even then, I wasn’t confident it would be done simply and without headache, or without costing me a small fortune. I would have to go buy a new modem that was compatible with this company’s system in addition to installation charges that had a footnote next to them saying they could be higher than the stated amount if the installation is “complex.” There was no way our installation will not be complex; we’re not that lucky. So much for trimming our budget. It would now be a couple of months before we would see any savings because of the upfront costs of switching services.
As the day went on, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow our original internet service provider was lurking out there with an order that was going to come back to haunt me. I called them again to make sure the order had been canceled. This was now the fourth person I had talked to at this company. I gave her the order number. She couldn’t find it in their system.
“Was it for new or existing service?” she asked.
I sighed, “Well, both.” I explained the whole convoluted story to her.
“Let me look it up by address,” she said. She still couldn’t find it. “It’s not in our system, so it has been canceled and deleted from the system. Have a great day.”
I found it hard to believe the order had been deleted out of the system. Companies don’t work that way. It would be canceled and marked as such but not deleted. The nagging feeling persisted, and I told my husband that I was just waiting for a call from them in a couple of weeks saying they could now hook up our service. He did the correct husband thing—nodded and grunted all the while thinking his wife was bordering on becoming her mother. I didn’t even have to wait a couple of weeks. The next day, I got a call from a mysterious number.
“This is Suzy. I’m calling to schedule the connection for your internet service.”
You have got to be kidding!
“That order should have been canceled. In fact, when I called to make sure it had been canceled they told me they couldn’t even find it in the system,” I was really trying to be nice.
“Wow, that’s odd. It just popped up on my screen this morning.”
“Well, you’re going to have to cancel it because I already have service from another company.”
All of this is beyond frustrating for me and spirals me into tears. It seems like my life is littered with stories like this. Simple things, small things—like changing phone companies—that shouldn’t be life-disrupting go sideways about six different ways and throw my life into chaos. I’m the embodiment of Murphy’s Law. If there is a way for something to be complicated, it will be so for me. If there is a way to screw something up, I seem to find it. By nature I am anxious, a worrier. I know I’m not supposed to be.1 But as superstitious as it may sound, and probably is, I have learned that if I don’t worry about things, all kinds of stuff goes wrong and I end up in a mess. That’s what happened here. I had wondered how the phone porting would affect our internet access but told myself not to worry about it. Phone companies do this kind of thing all the time. They would realize that I only wanted my phone number ported and that the internet access should stay on the account, I reasoned with my “worry wart” self. Obviously, I was wrong. I should have worried. I should have called them and specifically told them not to cancel the internet service, effectively closing our account. I should have overthought it and micromanaged it. I can’t seem to find a balance between overthinking things and bumbling into messes because I didn’t think things through.
Of course, I realize in this entire mess, and most of my messes, that what I am dealing with is a first-world problem. Let’s be perfectly honest, it’s a suburban, middle-class problem. Do I really NEED internet access? I mean, at one time all of us over the age of thirty lived without it. It’s not like one of my kids was diagnosed with a terminal illness, or we lost our sole source of income and are facing foreclosure and shopping at the food pantry. A week without the information superhighway isn’t going to hurt us. And then there is that “yelling” I did with the customer service rep. Taking out my frustration on her, no matter that I didn’t outright yell at her, was not acceptable. How I actually behaved is not as big of deal as what the attitude of my heart was.2 She’s just some person trying to earn a living. I had been so proud of how I handled the first couple guys I had talked to without getting unpleasant, despite being on the phone with them for over an hour. That pride is probably what lead to my downfall.3 I could spin all kinds of Christian sermons/devotional readings out of this about pride, treating others as we’d like to be treated (a.k.a. The Golden Rule)4, displaying Christ-like behavior5, and acting out of the Spirit rather than trying to police our behavior in our own strength and will.6 I’ll save those for another day. I’ve given them to myself, and that’s enough, never mind that you can probably see them without any further elaboration on my part.

1 Matthew 6:8, 25-34; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 Timothy 6:6-8
2 Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 5:21-22; 15:8; Mark 7:15; Luke 6:45
3 Proverbs 16:18
4 Matthew 7:2, 12; Luke 6:31
5 Philippians 2:3-4
6 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; aw never mind, just read the entire New Testament…

Patience Is a Virtue: Tragedy and Success Are Not Opposites

This week marked an anniversary I haven’t recognized in a long time. Twenty-one years ago, my husband (then fiancée) and I were in a serious car accident with a friend of ours. It feels overly dramatic to say it was a near-fatal accident because all of us are walking around living pretty typical suburban lives with jobs and kids and lawn mowing. But, the reality is, it was nearly fatal. This year, it suddenly jumped into my mind while I was out for a run one morning. The whole thought spiral went like this: I was jogging along, pondering why, after three years of running for exercise, I can go only three miles at my natural pace. Then I remembered that two years ago I wasn’t even able to run one mile. Four years ago, I wasn’t able to spend a day walking at the zoo without being in pain for days afterward because I was bordering on morbidly obese. I had to admit I was making progress, albeit slowly. The old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” came to mind. And then it hit me. Twenty-one years ago, I was using a walker—talk about making 3 miles look like a marathon.

When life goes south, it seems to do so all at once. One minute you’re on your way to the lake for an afternoon of fishing, the next you’re being cut out of a wrecked car and your fiancée is being airlifted to a trauma hospital. But life seems like it takes a long time to go “right” when all you want to do is run five miles instead of three. I have yet to wake up suddenly richer, thinner, or more fit, while there have been several times where things have gone from everyday to tragic in the space between breaths. Oddly enough, both situations—life going wrong in a heartbeat and life going right being a process—serve the same purpose. They make us who we are. They teach us perseverance. They show us that right now is not all there is.

No matter what your pain is right now, today, it won’t be there forever. Not all pain is equal. Some pain goes away completely. Like an everyday headache, the devastating breakup with your high school sweetheart will hurt for a time, but one day you’ll look back and wonder what you were so upset about. Other pain leaves scars. Our accident left physical scars and emotional marks, but as time has passed, it is no longer painful. Severe pain may be sore, to some degree, forever. Like an arthritic hand, there will be some days where the pain from a tragic event is so excruciating it is impossible to believe life can go on, while other days will be stiff and sore but manageable.

No matter what your success is right now, today, it won’t be there forever. The thing about success is that what is success today becomes ordinary tomorrow. As I mentioned, two years ago I couldn’t even run a mile. Today, a mile is warm up. Success is like a drug. It feels good in the moment, but once that feeling wears off, we find ourselves chasing the next success to get that feeling back. We need to run more miles, earn more money, get the job on the next rung. And while success in itself is not a bad thing, we can find ourselves addicted to it. Chasing success can consume us, until one day we suddenly realize that, while we were chasing the next thing, life has passed us by.

Whether in the midst of success or trial, take the time to really be present in it. No, you don’t have to enjoy the difficulties, nor do you need to stop reaching for success. But wishing you’d get out of the painful parts, or to the goals, faster will rob you of important lessons to learn in the “getting there” process. Be patient in the processes.

Picture Day – 36 Months

36-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 10/23/17 10/23/18
Weight 220 157.6 139.6 136.2
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 38.5″ 38.25″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 35″ 33.5″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 38″ 38.5″

See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.

 

What I’m Thinking

Another year has flown by.  Obviously, I’m a little tardy in getting these pictures posted.   One of the biggest things for me to share about this year is that my weight and numbers have looked so good for the last two years that my doctor didn’t even both to do a lipid panel (cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides) or fasting blood sugar this year at my annual physical.

I have lost a few pounds in the last year, but am largely in maintenance mode.  Maintenance mode typically involves a 10-pound range that weight swings around in on a daily basis.  Mine is no exception.  My target is 135 and some days I’m up around 138-ish, other days I can be in the 132 neighborhood.  Lots of factors influence daily weights (salt intake, hormones, off-plan foods, crossovers, etc.).  As for how I arrived at 135 as my target, all I can offer is that it is where my body seemed to settle on its own.  How do I know it was settling and not just a stall?  Simple, it is where my body was comfortable as well as my mind.  Yes, I could probably torture myself and take off another 10-15 pounds, if I were so inclined.  Am I?  No.  I like how I look, am satisfied with the size and fit of my clothes, and it’s just not worth having to hyper-focus on every little thing I eat.  I’m not a fan of counting anything (see my 10 Tips #6 for what I think about counting), and that’s what I would probably have to do to drop any more weight.  And worse, I’d have to keep counting for the rest of my life to keep those 10-15 pounds off, so why would I want to do that to myself?

On a similar note, I have a theory that humans naturally put on a few pounds during the winter months and shed a few in the warmer months.  I have not done any research into this theory (I just don’t have the time) and don’t have enough history of myself in maintenance mode to say for certain of myself even, but last winter in the November, December, January, February stretch I plateaued.  I was even pretty sure 139 was going to be my maintenance number during that time period.  Then in March the scale started heading down again on its own without significant changes on my part (the biggest change was running outdoors instead of indoors).  At my lowest over the summer I saw 131.4.  Granted, it was only one time but most of the summer I was in the 132-134 range.  Fall and winter so far have been more in the 134-138 area.  We’ll see what happens come spring.  Even if this theory pans out for me, that doesn’t mean everyone has that pattern in their lives.

The last noteworthy thing for this post is that I am in the early stages of writing a book about my weight loss experience.  It is not specifically about THM but about things I’ve learned about weight loss, and particularly the mental aspects of it, that make it such a stressful thing for people.  Some things will be brought in from this blog and expanded and there will be new thoughts I think will help others as well.  It is terrifying for me to take the step of putting such a thing together because of the risk of criticism, but the idea has been tugging at me for several months as people ask me about my journey and I have so much to tell them that it can’t possibly fit into a few conversations.  I’ll post updates on my progress with that here and will probably be looking for launch team readers at some point so keep an eye out for that here and at my Facebook page.

Picture Day – 24 Months

24-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

In the interest of comparison, I whipped out the clothing I took my before pictures in and tried it out.  Here’s how that went.  The after pics are a little deceptive because under the shirt, the pants are literally HANGING on my hips and not on my waist at all!

And then for some more fun, I got out the jeans that fit me when I started.  They are a size 22W, and I was known to sometimes wear a 24W.  In October 2015 they fit my waist snug but not tight.  I’m not a fan of tight jeans.  Here’s how they, ahem, “fit” now.  In the middle pic, I was trying very hard not to move because they would have ended up on the floor.

    

One more picture, just for reference.  This is me at my wedding reception 19 years ago (that baby I’m dancing with is my husband’s niece and now a sophomore in college!).  I include it here because I believe that we need to keep in mind where we are coming from in order to be realistic about where we are going.  I was not always “fluffy”.  I became fluffy during pregnancies, rounds of prednisone, and a very sedentary lifestyle.  In the picture below, I was probably 125-130 pounds and wore something like a size 10 jeans (I’m short and tend to be “thick” in the middle and have hips).  Today, I weigh 140-ish pounds and wear that same size jeans.  My point is, if you’ve been overweight all your life, you’re probably not going to become supermodel thin.  And, even if you weigh more than you’d like to see on the scale, you may end up being a smaller clothing size than you were in your younger years.  I can’t even explain it.  The muscle vs. fat thing would be a valid theory, IF I was doing strength training exercise but I’m not.  I jog a measly 30 minutes, 3 times a week–which is aerobic so it’s not building that much muscle.

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17 5/23/17 6/23/17 7/23/17 8/23/17 9/23/17 10/23/17
Weight 220 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146 145.6 143.6 143.2 141.6 139.6 139.6
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.5″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″ 35.5″ 35.25″ 35″ 34.5″ 35″ 35″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.25″ 38″

See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.

What I’m Thinking

So here I am.  Two years eating Trim Healthy Mama style.  Time flies.  I will honestly say, it hasn’t been hard at all.  However, I will also honestly say that I know God had a hand in this because I don’t do stuff like this.  I’m human.  I like comfort, convenience, and carbs.  As I have said in posts before, when the going gets tough, I’m the first one to bail.  But when I read the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book, it just clicked with me (it doesn’t for everyone, so don’t despair if it doesn’t click right away for you–keep pressing on) and away I went.  Now, it is second nature and I really can’ imagine eating any other way.  I don’t feel deprived of anything–though occasionally I think if I see another leaf of lettuce I may scream. <wink>

This post is going to wrap up my on-line journal of my personal journey.  I do plan on putting together another Top-10 list in the coming weeks though.  Mind you, it’s not the end of THM for me.  I’m not sure I could abandon it now that it’s such a part of the way I think about food.  But I’m suspecting that I am naturally moving toward maintenance mode and there won’t be significant changes to see or talk about.  I started this blog as a way for me to keep track of what was happening because I was convinced it wasn’t going to work for me and this way I could prove to all the THMers out there that it really wasn’t as simple as separate fats and carbs, and avoid refined carbohydrates/sugar.  Along the way, my focus shifted to sharing my journey to help encourage and inspire others.  It won’t be easy for everyone, and admittedly, I’ve had tough days.  Not where I want to give up THM but where I wondered if anything was changing.  I would just say the following prayer, “God, I’m trusting You.  You’re in control, and it doesn’t matter what the scale or tape measure says.”  Sometimes I prayed it through tears.  And an amazing thing happened.  My focus would move off of myself and THM and worrying about those things.  I didn’t give up.  I didn’t cave.  I didn’t stress/emotionally eat.  God give me the grace and power to just keep on keepin’ on knowing He had my back.

Picture Day – 23 Months

23-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17 5/23/17 6/23/17 7/23/17 8/23/17 9/23/17
Weight 220 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146 145.6 143.6 143.2 141.6 139.6
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 39″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″ 35.5″ 35.25″ 35″ 34.5″ 35″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.25″

See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.

 

What I’m Thinking

Just one more month and I’ll have been following the THM lifestyle for two years!  Next month I’ll have tons to say about things, but right now, I want to point out how my waist measurement went up slightly over last month.  The reason I point this out is to reassure other mamas that progress isn’t linear (i.e. – doesn’t always get smaller or lighter) from one month to the next.  Measurements of any kind are tricky.  Weight fluctuates literally from one minute to the next, as evidenced by the fact that I can weigh myself in the morning, walk across the room to turn the shower on, immediately turn and come back to weigh myself again while the water warms up, and have the scale be anywhere from 0.2 to 0.4 pounds less or more.  People always say that this is why you should take measurements instead of relying on the scale.  And, I agree to some extent.  But, the tape measure can be equally unreliable.  Unless you have drawn lines on your self to make exactly where you measured the previous time, chances are you’ll measure in a slightly different location the next time and this will impact what measurement you get.  It doesn’t take much movement to a slightly narrower or wider little bit of a body part to make a big impact.  Or you’ll hold the tape a little tighter or a little looser than the previous measure.  Clothing sizes are just as bad, and possibly worse, for trying to gauge progress.  My recommendation for tracking progress is to keep an eye on all three of these–weight, measurements, and clothing size–but to also relax and enjoy the journey.  Remember, it is the longer-term trend that you should look at and not the daily, weekly, or even monthly fluctuations.  Do not focus on a period of time smaller than AT LEAST 3 MONTHS to see if things are headed in the right direction.  Sorry to say that so loud, but it is a trap I have seen too many mamas fall into on the THM journey.  They try it for a few weeks, don’t see the miraculous 20-pounds-in-a-month results that very few mamas do, and they assume they are a “turtle” loser or just flat out give up saying THM doesn’t work for them.  I know 3 months seems like an eternity in this day and age, but after 23 months of this, I’m confident that 3 months is how long it takes to truly see if changes, either losing or gaining, are happening.

So, back to my smidgen increase in waist size this month.  Eh.  Whatever.  That’s my take on it.  I’d eaten quite a few salty meals in the couple days prior to that measure.  I hadn’t been drinking my AT LEAST 2 QUARTS of GGMS/water/tea per day.  A couple of times this month I’d gone flat-out off-plan (I had sushi and a pancake–not in the same meal, but in the same week) and my digestive system does NOT like rice at all.  Unfortunately, I love sushi.  I have short-term memory loss meaning who knows if I measured a centimeter higher on my waist last month or not.  Bottom line, I’m not going to freak out.  We’ll see what happens next month.

 

Picture Day – 22 Months

22-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17 5/23/17 6/23/17 7/23/17 8/23/17
Weight 220 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146 145.6 143.6 143.2 141.6
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″ 35.5″ 35.25″ 35″ 34.5″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″

See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.

 

What I’m Thinking

So, my mom called me this month to warn me that she and my dad were coming to visit and “bringing the pickup.”  Where I’m from, that is code for “We’re bringing a load of your crap to your house.”  Folks, I’m almost 44-years old.  I haven’t lived with my parents for over 20 years.  My husband and I have owned three houses in that time and moved four times.  Each time we moved, my parents showed up with a vehicle full of stuff of mine from their house.  I don’t know how I could possibly have anymore stuff there.

Anyway, when they showed up, there were a couple of gems in the load.  The dress from my junior prom and a dress I wore to several weddings and special occasions when I was in high school.  So I thought, “What the heck!” and tried them on.  Got both of them on.  The special occasion dress fit totally–a little snug in the chest but it zipped completely and was doable.  The prom dress fit except for the fact that when the zipper reached my rib cage it wouldn’t go any further.  Not bad for 26 years and three babies.

Earlier this month I had a similar experience when searching my closet for semi-formal attire for an ordination ceremony I was attending.  The only thing I had that was remotely close was the skirt suit I wore to my high school graduation 25 years ago–size 12.  If it hadn’t been peach, I might have seriously considered it an option.  But for kicks, I tried it on.  Got the skirt over my hips, but alas, three babies prevented it from zipping all the way.  No worries!  I ran down to Target and picked up a cute little dress in a medium!

Never mind the photobombing dog in my after pictures this month.  She was waiting to go for a run with me.

Picture Day – 21 Months

21-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17 5/23/17 6/23/17 7/23/17
Weight 220 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146 145.6 143.6 143.2
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″ 35.5″ 35.25″ 35″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″ 38.5″ 38.5″ 38.5″

See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.

 

What I’m Thinking

My size large leggings are getting a little baggy.

Picture Day – 20 Months

20-Month Pictures

Don’t worry, your computer is not acting up.  There aren’t any pictures for this month.  I managed to get measurements and weight, but life sort of happened and I never got around to taking pictures.

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17 5/23/17 6/23/17
Weight 220 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146 145.6 143.6
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.5″ 39″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″ 35.5″ 35.25″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″ 38.5″ 38.5″

See my Trim Healthy Mama Stats page to see all monthly measurements of my THM journey.

 

What I’m Thinking

Still plugging along eating THM-style.  I’m honestly kind of nervous because if I keep losing I’m going to have to try going into maintenance mode and I’m not sure how to do that successfully.  Going back to the 200s is not an option, but I don’t want to become diet obsessed either.  THM has worked so well for weight loss without me having to be all vigilant.  Once you have the basic principles down, it really requires little thought.  But maintenance mode seems like it could be something that requires more attention to avoid the pounds creeping back on.

NSV #38

I wore my 17-year-old daughter’s sweatshirt!  I left home unprepared–in a white t-shirt–it started to pour, and the coffee shop was FREEZING.  Thankfully, she has a tendency to leave her stuff in odd places–like sweatshirts in the car.  Desperate times call for desperate measures!
To be fair, it is a size L and is big on her (after spending $60 on a sweatshirt at a theme park only to have it shrink 2 sizes the first time I washed it, she bought this one a size bigger than she really needs).  But 19 months ago, this mama was no where near even being able to get a L past her shoulders.  Back then, I was wearing 3Xs.  So, to get this on with room to be comfy was worthy of NSV status.  And, when we got home, my daughter was quick to come and get the shirt back so it didn’t find its way into my closet instead of hers!

Picture Day – 19 Months

19-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17 5/23/17
Weight 220 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146 145.6
Bust 47.75″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.5″
Waist 47″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″ 35.5″
Hips 51.5″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″ 38.5″

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.

Picture Day – 18 Months

18-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 4/23/16 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17 4/23/17
Weight 220 185.2 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2 146
Bust 47.75″ 43″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″
Waist 47″ 40.5″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″ 35.75″
Hips 51.5″ 44″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″ 38.75″

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.

Where Are My Kids When I Need Them?

The toilet paper roller was empty. Half way through “using the facilities” is always when you notice this. And there was not a child to be found.  What is strange about this is that, for the past 17 years, I have not gone to the bathroom alone or uninterrupted. If you’re a mother you know what I’m talking about. When they are really little, you take them with you because it seems like an infant should be in your sights at all times.  When they’re a little older, you take them with you lest they hurt themselves or a younger sibling. Then, it’s time to potty train them so you’re going with them.  By the time you feel you can safely leave them unattended, they think that using the bathroom as a couple is just how it works.  So, when you disappear for more than two minutes the door opens and there they are wanting to show you their latest Lego creation. Even if you lock the door you aren’t safe from interruption. “MOM! MY SISTER STUCK A SHARP STICK IN MY EYE!” accompanied by incessant pounding on the bathroom door is likely to occur just when you think you’ve found a minute of blissful silence. The translation for this is really, “My sister took all the blue Legos and I’ve punched her but can run faster than she can to make sure you hear my side of the story first making it less likely I’ll get in trouble for hitting her.” Even once they are teenagers, if you don’t lock the door you’re likely go get a visit from someone needing a band-aid, a finger nail clipper, or just wanting to see if you have $20 so they can go to a movie with their chums and five minutes might mean life and death if they don’t get to you now. If you do lock the door they won’t just quietly go away but knock, make their request, and then sit directly outside the door waiting for you to emerge, giving periodic reminder knocks just to make sure you haven’t crawled out the bathroom’s secret escape hatch.

 

So, there I sit.  No toilet paper and no kid in sight. And, I know there is very little likelihood that either is going to show up any time soon.  Toilet paper has yet to fly. Despite many attempts, I have not been able to levitate inanimate objects to date. The kids’ work sensors have gone off. Yes, their work sensors. Somehow, without you uttering a word, kids know when work is imminent and will quietly disappear faster than donuts at church on Sunday morning.

Picture Day – 17 Months

17-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 4/23/16 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17 3/23/17
Weight 220 185.2 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6 148.2
Bust 47.75″ 43″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″ 39.25″
Waist 47″ 40.5″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″ 36″
Hips 51.5″ 44″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″ 39″

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.

Picture Day – 16 Months

16-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 4/23/16 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17 2/23/17
Weight 220 185.2 157.6 154.6 152.8 151 149.6
Bust 47.75″ 43″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″ 39.25″
Waist 47″ 40.5″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″ 36″
Hips 51.5″ 44″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″ 39″

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!

 

Picture Day – 15 Months

15-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 4/23/16 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16 1/23/17
Weight 220 185.2 157.6 154.6 152.8 151
Bust 47.75″ 43″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″ 39.25″
Waist 47″ 40.5″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″ 36″
Hips 51.5″ 44″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″ 39″

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.

NSV #37

I wore this shirt 20 years ago when I was in college. It’s a junior size XL. It was somewhat big on me then (it was the 90s–thus the Elmo on clothes for teens–and I prefer clothes either baggy or leggings-snug but not snug clothes that don’t move–autism spectrum people will get what I mean). Anyway. The first picture is me and DH 19-1/2 years ago on Father’s Day 1997. I weighed 125 pounds.
elmo-shirt
Over the years between 1997 and 2015, I gave birth to 3 children, endured 3+ rounds of prednisone treatment for a kind of Grave’s disease that doesn’t make you skinny (as Grave’s often does) but made my left eye bulge out of my head (my kids call it my “mom eye”), and gained almost 100 pounds. Sometime in the mid-2000s I put this shirt in the Goodwill box because it was snug, and I couldn’t see myself ever being small enough to wear it again. DH saw it in there and couldn’t part with it (he’s very sentimental that way). So, he took it and stashed it in the back of his closet, convinced that some day I would wear it again. Me? Not so much. I thought I was doomed to be fat forever and was actually wondering what I was going to do when I couldn’t fit into 3Xs anymore. I figured some day I could turn the Elmo shirt into some kind of craft project.
In October 2015, I started THM at 220 pounds. I don’t know what made me start. It was a God thing is the only explanation I have because I don’t do healthy or diets. Why start something you’re only going to fail at?
So today, I was telling him about the NSV I posted earlier about my “mother’s apron” or “love handles”. He disappeared and came back with the shirt. It fits me almost exactly like it did 20 years ago! Possibly even roomier in the shoulders. Elmo says it all on the back of the shirt! I still have more of a belly than I did 19 years ago (kids will do that to you), but I may actually get that back (or get rid of it depending on how you look at it) too! And, just to show how scales lie. As I said, 20 years ago I weighed 125 pounds and wore a size 10 jeans. This morning, I weighed 151 pounds and wear a size 10 jeans. Numbers lie, ladies!

Picture Day – 14 Months

14-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 4/23/16 10/23/16 11/23/16 12/23/16
Weight 220 185.2 157.6 154.6 152.8
Bust 47.75″ 43″ 40.5″ 40.25″ 39.5″
Waist 47″ 40.5″ 37.25″ 36.75″ 36.5″
Hips 51.5″ 44″ 40″ 39.75″ 39.5″

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.

NSV #35

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.

NSV #34

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!

I Wore Horizontal Stripes on a Knit Dress!

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.

christmas-dress

Picture Day – 12 Months

12-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 4/23/16 5/23/16 6/23/16 7/23/16 8/23/16 9/23/16 10/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6 185.2 181.2 176.4 170.0 167.2 162.6 157.6
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″ 43″ 42.75″ 42.25″ 41.75″ 41″ 41″ 40.5″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″ 40.5″ 39″ 38.75″ 37.5″ 37.5″ 37.25″ 37.25″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″ 44″ 43″ 42.25″ 41.5″ 41″ 40.5″ 40″

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.

NSV #33

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!

Picture Day – 11 Months

11-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 3/23/16 4/23/16 5/23/16 6/23/16 7/23/16 8/23/16 9/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6 * 185.2 181.2 176.4 170.0 167.2 162.6
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″ * 43″ 42.75″ 42.25″ 41.75″ 41″ 41″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″ * 40.5″ 39″ 38.75″ 37.5″ 37.5″ 37.25″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″ * 44″ 43″ 42.25″ 41.5″ 41″ 40.5″

*See Picture Day – 5 Months

 

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.

NSV #30

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!

NSV-30

NSV #29

ABelt Another One Bites the Dustnother belt bites the dust! This is the second belt I’ve bought and gone from the 2nd largest hole to the smallest hole since starting THM 10 months ago.
I’m not sure how I can shrink 3″ and still not be a size smaller in jeans, but it has been a while since I’ve tried on new jeans.

Picture Day – 10 Months

10-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 3/23/16 4/23/16 5/23/16 6/23/16 7/23/16 8/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6 * 185.2 181.2 176.4 170.0 167.2
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″ * 43″ 42.75″ 42.25″ 41.75″ 41″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″ * 40.5″ 39″ 38.75″ 37.5″ 37.5″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″ * 44″ 43″ 42.25″ 41.5″ 41″

*See Picture Day – 5 Months

 

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.

NSVs #27 & #28

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!

The Prison of Numbers: Part 2 – Clothing Sizes

The Prison of Numbers – Continued (Read Part 1 – The Scale  here)

Jean Size

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.

belt1 belt2

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…

Picture Day – 9 Months

9-Month Pictures

Before front - 10/23/15 

Before-Side-102315 

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 3/23/16 4/23/16 5/23/16 6/23/16 7/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6 * 185.2 181.2 176.4 170.0
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″ * 43″ 42.75″ 42.25″ 41.75″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″ * 40.5″ 39″ 38.75″ 37.5″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″ * 44″ 43″ 42.25″ 41.5″

*See Picture Day – 5 Months

 

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?

Picture Day – 8 Months

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 4/23/16 5/23/16 6/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6 185.2 181.2 176.4
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″ 43″ 42.75″ 42.25″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″ 40.5″ 39″ 38.75″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″ 44″ 43″ 42.25″

 

8-MONTH PICTURES

Before front - 10/23/15  

Before-Side-102315  

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 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.

 

The Prison of Numbers: Part 1 – The Scale

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.

bmi equation

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.

Next: a little reality check on clothing sizes in The Prison of Numbers: Part 2

NSV #22

dark-side-t-shirtI 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!

NSV #21

hoodieGuess 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.

Picture Day – 7 Months

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 3/23/16 4/23/16 5/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6 * 185.2 181.2
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″ * 43″ 42.75″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″ * 40.5″ 39″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″ * 44″ 43″

* See Picture Day – 5 Months

 

7-MONTH PICTURES

Before front - 10/23/15  

Before-Side-102315  

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’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!

NSV #20

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.

CVS lipid panel test reusults photo

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.

Picture Day – 6 Months

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 3/23/16 4/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6  * 185.2
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″ 44″ 44″  *  43″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″ 43.5″ 42″  *  40.5″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″  * 44″

* See Picture Day – 5 Months

 

6-MONTH PICTURES

Before front - 10/23/15  front after pictures April 2016

Before-Side-102315  side after picture April 2016

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!

big-belly

 

Good Girl Moonshine & Dental Health: Part 2

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.

Challenges

apple cider vinegar with the mother jarAbout 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.

Daily Dosage

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).

Cautions

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.


Sources

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.

Good Girl Moonshine & Dental Health: Part 1

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.

pH Primer

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.

pH scale

 

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.

Method

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

True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade drink mix pH test

pH 2-3

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

apple cider vinegar pH test

pH 3

Coca-Cola*

cola pH test

pH 3

Apple Juice*

apple juice pH test

pH 4

Diet Coke*

diet cola pH test

pH 4

Kombucha

kombucha pH test

pH 4

Orange Juice*

orange juice pH test

pH 4

GOOD GIRL MOONSHINE (GGMS)

good girl moonshine pH test

pH 4.5

2% Milk*

2% milk pH test

pH 7

Coffee

coffee pH test

pH 7

Distilled Water

distilled water pH test

pH 7

SHRINKER

shrinker pH test

pH 7

Tap Water

tap water pH test

pH 8

Filtered Tap Water

filtered tap water pH test

pH 8

Oolong Tea

oolong tea pH test

pH 8

*NOT on-plan for THM

Conclusions

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.

Would You Like Some Sugar With That?

iodized salt packed containing dextroseSeriously 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.

Please understand:

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
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Galactose
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Malitol
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • 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.

Picture Day – 5 Months

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16 3/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″ 45.5″  44″  44″
Waist 47″ 46.5″ 43″  43.5″  42″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ 46.5″ 45.5″ 44.5″

 

5-MONTH PICTURES

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

WHAT I’M THINKING

The first thing you’ll notice about this monthly update is that there is a conspicuous absence of update.  No measurements.  No weight.  No pictures.

 

WARNING:  For non-Christian readers, there will be some overtly Christian content in the following.  I certainly understand if those who are not Christian would prefer to skip it.  However, while you may not be interested in the Christian message at this time, there may still be something in it for your THM journey, and I would encourage you to just take a few minutes and read it anyway.

 

The day after my last update, my Bible study group began the Beth Moore Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy Bible study series.  If any of you are familiar with it, during the introduction video session, Beth speaks on Daniel’s diet of vegetables (the Hebrew for this term includes vegetables, fruits, and grains) and water as referenced in Daniel 1:12.  She shares that she will be fasting from, as she puts it, “the richer cuts of meat” for the first six weeks of the study and invites anyone who feels so led to join her.  I’ll be honest, since starting THM any mention of messing with my diet throws up major brick walls.  Okay, to be perfectly honest, even before THM, any mention of messing with my diet threw up major brick walls.  As someone whose diet was very controlled by people other than herself, criticized by those same people, or dependent on severely restricted finances, for the first 24-ish years of her life, I’m not very willing to let other people call the shots on my diet, period.  And frankly, with THM I already eat way more chicken than I’d like.  So, if I was going to fast, the Lord was going to have to be VERY clear that I was to participate, and He didn’t seem to be indicating a food fast was in order for me.  What I did feel the Lord leading me to do was fast from the scale, measurements, and pictures of my THM journey for those 6 weeks.  As of this update, we are 4 weeks into the 6 week fast.

 

Spiritually speaking, the reason behind this particular fast is for participants to be reminded that while we may be in a world of overindulgence and excess, we are not to be of that world.  Our focus is to be on eternal things.  During a fast of any kind, each time you reach for what you have been called to forgo, it is a reminder to turn to God as your sustainer.  It should not become a source of pride or be used as a bargaining chip with God (i.e. I’ll fast for 6 weeks and God, you make me thinner).

 

I’m a daily weigher (not recommended).  And, while most of my goals are non-scale goals that relate to health, I am a human and, as vain as it may be, still very focused on the visual results of THM.  The visual, factual record keeping of my THM life has been a difficult thing for me to give up, which is the point of it.  There is nothing to learn in giving up things that are easy for us to live without.  In addition to spiritual growth, this period of fasting has given me a chance to let the visible, tangible progress of my THM journey take a back seat by reminding me every time I see the scale and am even a little curious about what it would say that what it says is not important in the grand scheme of things.  In the end, I need health—not a lower scale number and not a smaller jean size.

NSV #18

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.

Belt-030816

10-ish Tips for New Trim Healthy Mamas

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.

Trim Healthy Mama Plan bookNOTE:  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.

My recommendation:

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.

Picture Day – 4 Months

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16 2/23/16
Weight 220 213.4 207.2 201 195.6
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″  45.5″  44″  44″
Waist 47″ 46.5″  43″  43.5″  42″
Hips 51.5″ 47″  46.5″  45.5″  44.5″

 

4-MONTH PICTURES

Before front - 10/23/15  

Before-Side-102315  

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

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!

 

I Watched a Documentary…That Stuff is One Molecule Away from…

This had been a pet peeve of mine for a long time.  “Margarine is one molecule away from being plastic!”  Back in the “old” days you got an inbox full of these things, but thanks to social media and blogs, nowadays it is easier than ever to spread myths, half-truths, and outright propaganda about everything, including food.

 

One thing about Trim Healthy Mama that made it so attractive to me is Serene and Pearl’s very down-to-earth way of tackling food and ingredient myths and facts without hype and extremism.  However, because the THM way of eating is very flexible, there is a very broad spectrum of mamas—from, what Serene and Pearl refer to as, Drive-Thru Sues to Purists.  And, if you follow THM Facebook groups and other forums, you quickly encounter very strong opinions on everything food and nutrition.

 

Four statements I see regularly that make me cringe are:

 

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.

 

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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.

 

Food Freedom

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.

Have I Lost My Mind?!?!?!

So, I got this text from my sister the other day.
5kText
My sister is a runner (5k mainly but she’s done a couple half marathons too).  She’s been after me for years to do a 5k with her, saying that “we can just walk it,” thinking that the running was what was preventing me from saying yes.  It’s not the running, it’s the 3.1 miles of moving.  I just don’t do exercise.  But apparently, my fingers have a mind of their own.
5kTextReply
I guess I’ll be walking a 5k this fall.

NSV #14

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!” NSV-02I 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.

 

NSV #13

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!

Picture Day – 3 Months

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.  The original pants are 3X–and a little baggy even at the start–and the new ones 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).

 

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15 1/23/16
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″  45.5″  44″
Waist 47″ 46.5″  43″  43.5″
Hips 51.5″ 47″  46.5″  45.5″

 

3-MONTH PICTURES

Before front - 10/23/15  After Front 012316-2

Before-Side-102315  After Side 012316-2

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 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.

 

NSV #12

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!

NSV-04  NSV-03

No, I’m Not Pregnant: My Big Belly

I can’t believe I’m going to post this photo.

IMG_0026This 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.

Update: My Big Belly (three years, a bunch of tests, and a few answers later)

Exercise?

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.

 

NSV #10

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.

NSV-04

Is That Really Me?

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!

NSV #8

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!

Picture Day – 2 Months

It’s my 2 month trimmaversary today!

STATS

10/23/15 11/23/15 12/23/15
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″  45.5″
Waist 47″ 46.5″  43″
Hips 51.5″ 47″  46.5″

 

2-MONTH PICTURES

Before front - 10/23/15  After 2 months - Front

Before-Side-102315  After 2 months - Side

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

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)!

 

NSV #6

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).

NSGs – Non-Scale Goals

Wow, I’m getting really serious!  I actually took the time to write down my non-scale goals for the next year.

NSGs

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!

NSG-Snoopy-Jammies-2 NSG-Snoopy-Jammies-1

NSV #4

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.

NSV #3

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!”

Picture Day – 1 Month

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:

Stats

10/23/15 11/23/15
Bust 47.75″ 45.75″
Waist 47″ 46.5″
Hips 51.5″ 47″ *

*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

Before front - 10/23/15  After 1 month front - 11/23/15

Before-Side-102315  After 1 month side - 11/23/15

See my Trim Healthy Mama Before & After Photos page to view all before and after photos of my THM journey.

 

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.

NSV #2

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!

1990s Food Pyramid

The Psychology of Cheating

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.

NSV #1

My THM McDonald's LunchMy 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.

Can This Really Work for Me?

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.

Is This Really Freedom?

I’ve seen several mentions on Facebook THM groups that people just don’t get how this could be considered food freedom.  As I was reading the book I had the same thought. How can this be food freedom if you have to be careful not to mix fats and carbs and avoid refined sugar and even natural sugars like pure cane and agave, traditional flour, rice, potatoes, and things that contain those items like bread and pasta? And then there are all the special flours and sweeteners used in place of the traditional ones.  There are supplements like protein powder and collagen. It makes your head spin trying to take it all in.  However, after stepping back to see what Serene and Pearl’s overall message is, I think the freedom isn’t so much in being able to eat without a care as it is freedom from a diet plan and way of eating that makes you feel guilty for allowing even one bite of “unapproved” food cross your lips.

 

THM is as restrictive as YOU make it, not Serene and Pearl or others who do THM. Repeatedly they talk about each person needing to do the plan in a way that fits them. I’m starting to look at it as Serene and Pearl giving us basic principles about how to eat healthier that can be incorporated as each individual is comfortable with, not as a list of instructions that must be followed to the letter. If you’re a “Drive-Thru Sue”, like me, protein powder, five different stevia blends, and a half dozen flours aren’t going to be your thing and that’s okay as long as you are doing the basic keeping fats and carbs in separate meals and avoiding the highly processed sugars and carbs as much as you are comfortable with. Start slow by making a few changes. For me this was ditching soda and replacing it with Good Girl Moonshine, The Shrinker, or those little packets of bottled water flavoring that had stevia instead of aspartame and only eating a “pinch” of fries at McDonald’s (about 10 fries total rather than a whole medium box of them). Not exactly health food but a whole lot better than what I had been doing.

Take a Flying Leap

A couple weeks ago, I picked up the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book at the bookstore.  It sat on my footstool for a week.  It then took me a week to read it.  I have a couple Facebook friends and Bible study friends who do THM, which is what got me curious in the first place, but as I noted before, I just didn’t know if I could set myself up to fail one more time.  One thing I did notice though was that after just reading the book I felt about 5 pounds lighter.  Seriously.  I know there can’t possibly be any truth to that, but I really did feel less fluffy in my belly.  However, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.

 

Then, this week, I turned 42 and apparently went crazy.  I decided this is it.  I’m jumping off the cliff.  I meant to do it quietly so when I fell off the wagon again it would only be me that was disappointed, but at Bible study on Wednesday morning when my friends were comparing THM notes during intermission, I found myself saying, “I’ve decided to do THM.”  They were thrilled.  That evening, I made the mistake of telling my husband.  He was thrilled.  He thinks he’s going to have a “hot” wife again.  I hope he’s right.  So, if my husband knew, it seemed like I might as well tell the kids they’ll be seeing some food changes.  They were thrilled.  My middle daughter can’t wait to take me shopping for clothes.

 

The cat is out of the bag, so I’m posting my initial before pictures, my goals, and my before stats.  It is likely I won’t weigh myself much more than once a year at my annual physical.  I’m a bit of a data freak and want to be using the same scale for consistency sake.  Also, I generally don’t weigh myself at home anyway because 1) it’s depressing and 2) our scale reads low by about 5 pounds vs. my doctor’s and I have no idea how to adjust it.  So, unless I go to the doctor between annual physicals I won’t be getting weighed. Since I’m not so much about the pounds but about how I look and feel, it’s not a biggie for me.  Another thing to keep in mind is that I prefer loose fitting clothing so my sizes are probably a little bigger than my weight requires.

 

MY Goals

  • 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

 

Before PictureS

Before-Front-102315

Before-Side-102315

Stats

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****
Jean Size  22W  24W
T-Shirt Size 3XL 3XL-4XL
Bra Size 38DDD

* HDL should be higher, 45+ desirable

** VLDL should be lower, <30 desirable

*** Triglycerides should be lower, <150 desirable

**** Blood sugar should be <99

So How Exactly Does THM Work?

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

 

Teetering Precariously on the Edge of Trim Healthy Mama (THM)

Months.  I’ve been thinking about it for months.  Trim Healthy Mama (THM).  Inching precariously closer to trying it.  And I have to say, I’m not gung-ho about it.  I’m not “jacked up” or “LET’S DO THIS!”  In all fairness, I don’t really get that way about anything, so this isn’t really an indicator of much.  In my experience, the few times I have bought all-in to things, and I’m not just talking about diets, it has ended in failure and emotional disaster on my part.  I’m skeptical.

 

I’m also “done.”  Several years ago I resigned myself to never being able to achieve what I want out of life.  Pretty much everything I have ever started I have also quit—jobs, a career, pets, diets, exercise, writing books, college (I did manage to finish that, for all a degree in Sociology is worth <eye roll>, but it took dropping out and going back to get it done).  I just don’t seem to be capable of the either the level of complexity these things require or have the tenacity to stick with them or both.  To top it off, when talking about health issues, I seem to have inherited every sucky genetic problem that is carried on both sides of my family—mental health issues (from both sides, bonus!), a genetic mutation that can cause blood clots, tendency for belly weight gain, high cholesterol, and I’m sure once I hit menopause my blood pressure will sky rocket and heart disease will kick in.  I can diet and exercise all day and the weight goes nowhere.  So, I just gave up.  Sick of fighting it all, I quit.  When I want fast food, I get it.  I don’t like fruits so I don’t eat them.  Vegetables are good, but I don’t crave them or particularly want to eat them so I often don’t.  In my defense, I’m not big on potato chips, donuts/pastries, cookies, candy, pies, ice cream, Cheetos, or hot dogs either.  But I do love anything with lots of cheese, pasta, and potatoes.  Macaroni and cheese, lasagne, nachos, pasta salad, pizza, spaghetti, cheeseburgers, french fries…you get the idea.  I gave up on the other areas of my life too, but that would be a topic for a whole other blog.  I just don’t think I can take failing at one more thing and my track record is not good.

 

Let’s be honest, I have issues.  No doubt most of them arising from my stubbornness due to my German-Dutch, with sprinklings of Norwegian and Irish thrown in, ancestry and the remainder arising from laziness.  I want things easy.  I want to be able to eat literally whatever I want and fit into size 10 jeans (I’m a size 22/24 now so a 10 would be a HUGE–or would it be shrinking in this case?–improvement), and there is no diet out there that is going to make that happen.  For the last five years I have been throwing a grown-up version of a temper tantrum by refusing to even try because I’ve been dealt a crappy gene pool and I don’t want to get off my dead you-know-what only to get no visible results.  I just don’t think I can take failing at one more thing and my track record is not good, so I’m still standing on the edge of THM.

Magic Doesn’t Just Happen

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.

Background

I’m going to give you some brief biographical info to help you understand what I was working with as far as family members and our goals to give you a frame of reference as you read.  This will help you take what you can use and leave what might not apply to your situation.

 

Travelers:

  • 2 adults
  • 3 children ages 10, 8, and 5.75 years old

The 5.75 year old was (and still is) small for her age.  At 5.75 years old she was probably the size of a 4 year old.  This is important to consider because height can limit ride choices.  She barely met the 42″ height limit for Test Track at EPCOT.

Time Frame: Vacation – 1 week (8 days)

Budget: $5,000

Geographical Origin: South Dakota

Goals:

  • MagicKingdom
  • Epcot
  • Animal Kingdom
  • SeaWorld
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Atlantic Ocean

 

Planning

The Unofficial Walt Disney World Guide and TouringPlans.com

The fist thing I did was ask my friends what their experiences were and what they would recommend for planning and info.  My friends live in various places around the U.S. and Canada, including central Florida.  That led me to this book The Unofficial Walt Disney World Guide.

I used this book to help determine what time of year to visit Disney, what parks to see, what days to visit each park, and compare pros and cons for various options like the Park Hopper option on the Disney tickets and Disney Dining Plans.  It was also helpful for ratings of both on-Disney and off-Disney hotels.  The book has checklists of how far out you should be doing things like making airline and hotel reservations and purchasing tickets.

The book’s related website touringplans.com came in handy for deciding what parks to visit when and creating custom plans for our days.  Disney has 4 parks, 2 water parks, and other attractions such as ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, so each family is going to be different in what their goals are, what parks they want to visit, and how comfortable they are with crowds and waiting.  I would highly recommend getting a subscription to touringplans.com for the year prior to your visit to take advantage of all their planning tools.  It is totally worth it!

As someone who does not have “backyard” access to a major US airport, making airline reservations so far out was not easy. The discount carrier from our regional airport only scheduled flights 4 months out and only had service to the Orlando area two days a week.  Since it was recommended to make airline reservations a year in advance, this became a problem.  We waited until 6 months out and then decided to fly in/out of the nearest major airport, which also added a 4 hour drive on each end of the trip and a night in a hotel when we left.  However, the extra expense was worth it to have a guarantee that we’d actually have a flight to/from Orlando rather than waiting for the discount carrier to get their act together.  They could have very well decided to cancel service to that airport, and then we’d have ended up paying astronomical fees to get “last minute” flights out of the larger airport anyway.  If you have more ready access to a major airport (like within a 2 hour drive), you’ll have more options.

Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World for Kids

We splurged and purchased one of these books for each of our kids.  We gave them to the girls about a year before our trip and told them to study them.  At a family meeting a couple months later, each child got to report on what parks she wanted to visit and three particular rides they wanted to go on.  This enabled me to what they wanted to do in our planning so everyone got to do at least some of the stuff they wanted to do.

I took the girls’ lists and what DH and I were interested in and compiled a schedule for our trip.  We planned to visit one park or attraction each day and then listed the “must dos” for each day.  TouringPlans.com then let me customize our days to know when to do certain popular rides to help avoid wait times.  Our main schedule looked like this:

 

Day 1 – travel to Florida
Day 2 – Epcot
Day 3 – Kennedy Space Center/Cocoa Beach
Day 4 – SeaWorld
Day 5 – Magic Kingdom
Day 6 – Downtown Disney
Day 7 – Animal Kingdom
Day 8 – travel home

 

Pace yourself.  You could easily spend 2 days each at EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, and SeaWorld.  Unless you have 2 full weeks, you likely won’t be able to see and do everything you would like.  I should have planned two days for Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach and rented a hotel for a night in Cocoa Beach.  We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time at the ocean.

I purchased a poly multiple pocket folder like this and each day of the trip was a pocket.

I put all the printouts and info for that day in the pocket.  It went with us on the trip and before we left the hotel for the day I took what we needed for that day from the folder and put it in my shoulder bag.  This bag was big enough to hold my camera, credit card wallet holding credit cards and park tickets, Dramamine, and folded papers needed for the day (basically just our touring plan printout).  I could wear is diagonally and for all but a few rides I could keep it on and fasten the safety system (belt or bar) over the shoulder strap while still wearing it to prevent it from flying around.

 

Park and Attraction Tickets

Read Mouse Savers Advice, Tips, and Tricks for Walt Disney World Tickets and Passes.  Pay special attention to the first 2 sections: Very Important Tip! and Where NOT to Buy Disney World 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!

Our time was roughly spent half in Disney parks and half at non-Disney stuff in the Orlando area.  Because we were spending significant amounts of time at non-Disney venues, we rented a vehicle and opted for a non-Disney hotel at Marriott Village.  If you’re only doing Disney stuff, you can save the car rental expense by staying at a Disney hotel and using their transportation to/from the parks and airport.  However, make sure the extra cost of a Disney hotel will be less than doing non-Disney and renting a car.

This is also the logic we applied to the Disney Dining Plan.  We opted to not do the dining plan because half our days wouldn’t even be at Disney parks so we’d still have to pay for the food on those days.  However, our neighbors, who have 5 children, swear by the Disney Dining Plan because they do mostly Disney stuff while there.

A general dining warning: I know I’m in the minority on this because I have what I call “reverse picky” kids when it comes to eating (i.e. they WANT to eat veggies and fruit and have something with flavor), but the kids menus, at not only Disney venues but everywhere, sucked.  If your kids want something other than cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, or mac and cheese to eat they are going to have to order off the “adult” menu at most places.

A key site to check out for discounts on many things for Disney vacations is MouseSavers.  They offer discount codes for everything from park tickets to hotels and rental cars.  Some discounts, like the Undercover Tourist for discount tickets, require you to sign up for their newsletter (free).  This is worth the one email newsletter you’ll get per month.

Another place to look for discounts on hotels and rental cars is AAA if you’re a member.

 

Auto Travel Tips

Check out the seat belt/child car seat laws for any states you’ll be traveling through (FL for sure and any other states you may pass through if you are driving to Florida rather than flying).

Current (Jan. 2013) FL law is pretty slack on child passenger safety.  Only children 3 and under are required to be in a car seat or booster seat.  However, as a parent you should be thinking of safety first and the laws of physics have been shown in crash test after crash test to be quite harsh to children under 4’9″ and 80-90# who use only an adult seat belt.  Have a look.

If you are renting a car in FL, make sure to take a low-back booster seat for children 5-8 yo and a car seat for children under 4 yo.  DO NOT rent a car seat or booster seat from the car rental agency.  You do not know the history or age of the seat, and cleanliness is not guaranteed. I’ve heard reports of severely dated seats (i.e. 10+ years old; most seats are considered expired after 7 years) that are big on the eeeeeewwwwww factor being rented out.

Check out cell phone/texting laws for any states you’ll be traveling through (FL for sure and any other states you may pass through if you are driving to Florida rather than flying).

 

Other Miscellaneous Tips

Use your “smart” phone to your advantage

  • 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).

If you have a child under the age of 6, I would strongly suggest renting a stroller.  Disney strollers are HUGE, and even if you don’t use it for a child, they come in handy for tossing purchases and tote bags in.  If you have a child less than 4 yo, I’d look into Magic Strollers through the Mouse Savers website as they look to be more comfy for a child that will be spending a good deal of time in it.

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 are links to all the sites I referenced above (and some I didn’t).