Thursday, August 9, 2012

Zucchini "Spaghetti"

I am so excited about my new kitchen gadget. I learned about it when watching a video on my favorite YouTube Channel - Lean Secrets.If you have never seen her videos, I highly suggest subscribing to her channel.  Here is the video that inspired me.

In my efforts to reduce the amount of processed foods I consume, I was totally excited to try this out. And when I logged onto Amazon and saw that I had some rewards points to spend, I immediately ordered this spiral vegetable slicer:

Here is my zucchini on the slicer.

I crank the handle and the magic begins! Out comes the spirals.

I chose to put the "noodles" in a Ziplock Zip n Steam bag and microwave for 2 minutes. This is not necessary, though.

Rather than making meatballs, I browned a pound of chicken Italian sausage to make meat sauce. Just top with meat sauce, and voila! Dinner is ready
 This was absolutely delicious! I didn't miss the spaghetti at all!.
The slicer comes with two other blades to make other types of slices. But even if I only ever use it to make zucchini noodles, it is a worthwhile investment for me.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Ahhh...vacation. It seems you don't realize how much you need it until you make time for it. I The past couple months I have been having medical test after test to determine to cause of health "issues" I am experiencing. So far, results have come back normal, which is a good thing. Still, I have been somewhat consumed with trying  figure out the cause of the problem. There are more test coming up, but right now my focus is Hawaii!!

Yes, I am writing from beautiful Hawaii. This is my first time here, and though my body does not seem to want to adjust to the time change, I am having a great time. The only thing I have to "worry" about here is relaxing, sightseeing, and spending time with my family. I don't even have to think about eating or gaining weight since I always lose weight on vacation. There's something about being relaxed that makes eating a more conscious activity for me.

Now that I have taken time to put my life on pause, it reaffirms the need to do so more often. Even if it is only for small periods of time. So often, I use my days off to work on advancing myself professionally, or to take care of other business. But I also need to value rest.

I encourage all of you to take time-make time-for yourself. No, you don't need to go to Hawaii. You don't even need to leave your house. Arrange time to do something you enjoy, and do it regularly. Rest!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review - Hope Springs

 Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate
My thoughts:

I'm Back!

Thanks to those who expressed concern during my absence. I have been having some health challenges, and kind of put blogging on the back burner. I am glad to be back and ready to continue pursuing my goals. I've read some good books, so stay on the lookout for book reviews.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #9 - Grocery Haul

A new health food store recently opened in my town, so I decided to stop by. It was a little dangerous because I did not make a list before I went. But, I had fun.

Here is a list of what I bought, kind of moving from left to right, back to front...kind of:
  1. coconut oil
  2. dried apple rings
  3. avocado
  4. Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  5. Amazing Grass green superfood powder (I don't really like vegetables, so hopefully I can get a good dose of nutrients from this while I try to retrain my palate)
  6. romaine salad mix
  7. red bell pepper
  8. grape tomatoes
  9. strawberries
  10. French fries ( I'm having a hard time letting my fry habit go, so I figure I can at least go with organic ones and bake them instead of going to the Wendy's drive thru)
  11. Clemmy's sugar free ice cream - I was excited to finally try this ice cream that I have been hearing about. Natural ingredients
  12. frozen raspberries
  13. chicken wings
  14. Kind Nut Delight bar
  15. Metromint orangemint water - no sweeteners or artificial flavors
  16. Poland springs sparkling water - raspberry lime - no sweeteners or artificial flavors
  17. uncured center cut bacon
  18. whole chicken - this was free! 
Have you tried any of these items?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #8 -Knowing Who I Am

It feels so good when you go several days in a row with no binges. I am making mostly healthy food choices, and enjoying it. My weight is back to moving in the right direction (check out my Weigh in Wednesday page each week).

I recently started reading Brain Over Binge. I haven't finished it yet, but I had sort of an epiphany while reading. The book reminded me that the binge behavior that beckons me is not really who I am. It is a struggle I have, but it is not representative of the real me. On a regular day, my inner desire is not to eat horrible foods in astronomical quantities. Even in the midst of a binge, it feels like there is a war going on - the part of me that doesn't want to binge is very much present, but has given up. So, in light if these thoughts, and the thoughts shared in the book, I was reminded that I do not have to give in to the binge. It is not who I really am, so I don't have to do it.

I thought it would be helpful to define who I really am and want to be as it relates to eating, so that I can refer to it when the monster appears:

I am striving towards optimal health
I have a healthy relationship with food
I enjoy eating a variety of nutrient rich foods
I continue to educate myself about nutrition
I eat minimal amounts of sugar and processed foods
When tempted to binge eat, I can be victorious through Christ because "....the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4b
Rather than entertain what the binge monster would have me taste, I would rather "Taste and see that the Lord is good..." Psalm 34:8a
Even in those moments when the compulsion seems unbearable
And I feel I can only get relief by giving in
" All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything" I Corinthians 6:12
I am free

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #7 - Arrrrggggghhhhh!

Arrrggghhhh! Well it is Weigh in Wednesday and I am so frustrated. I’m not at all surprised by the scale, but still frustrated. That’s the thing about binge eating. You can have an awesome week with no binging, and the weight starts to fall off. But, if it is followed by a binge week, your progress is erased in an instant. That is what happened in the past week.

Below you will find a food log from a few days - have I ever told you how much I despise food logs? But they provide useful information. I had a couple good days, followed by several binge days. I define good days as days that I stayed away from refined sugar and flour. The "good" days are by no means perfect. I also did the painful work of writing down what was eaten during binges - at least most of it.

Day 1 
Breakfast - chicken andouille sausage; protein shake (protein powder mixed with water)
Lunch - "steakhouse buffalo burger" (whole foods); broccoli with mixed peppers
Dinner - 6 meatballs in marinara sauce

Day 2
Breakfast - Chicken andouille sausage, 2 eggs with feta cheese crumbles cooked in coconut oil
Lunch - Meatballs in marinara; broccoli with peppers; large fries
Dinner - 3 slices of bacon and 3 strawberries - not hungry, but didn't want to go to gym on empty stomach
Post work out snack - 2 slices bacon

Day 3 (got up at 1a.m. to drive to 2 1/2 hours to be with my mom who became ill; I consider this a day of stress eating and overeating,  but it wasn't a full blown binge.)
4 miniature 3 musteers
4 cream filled cookies
Sausage egg and cheese muffin from burger king
Krispy Kreme apple pie (individual size)
Box of Nerds candy  (Large 6 oz box)
Turkey and cheese sandwich
2 cheese coneys (6 in each) and chili cheese fries
3 more cream filled cookies

Day 4
Breakfast - 3 slices bacon
Snack- 1/2 chicken  breast
Lunch - 4 large strawberries ; walnuts & almonds (100 calorie pack)
Dinner - Calamari salad

Day 5 (Binge day)
Breakfast - 4 slices of bacon
Lunch- 10 nuggets and fries from McDonald's, snickers ice cream bar
Binge: large cold stone ice cream with cookie dough, individual apple pie, box of jolly rancher chews, two small pizzas from Donatos, bag of chips, 4 ocean spray cranberry juices,  fries

Day 6 (Binge Day)
Didn’t record breakfast or lunch Day ended with a binge
2 large donuts; 8 donut holes, 2 cookies, frozen breakfast sandwich, piada sandwich,  3 orders of loaded fries from White castle

Day 7 (Binge Day)
Breakfast/lunch - 6 Jimmy Dean breakfast croissant sandwiches, 2 bananas
Dinner/Binge: 2 orders loaded fries, 2 sliders, oreo ice cream sandwich, "texas smoked sausage" sandwich, cheese roll up (Taco Bell)

It is what it is…I am where I am. It’s a little daunting to think how long it will take to undo this damage, so I am just going to take it one day at a time. Every Wednesday, feel free to check out my Weigh In Wednesday tab. Hopefully I will have some better news to report next week.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Formerly Sedentary #2 - Learning to Swim

No, the title is not some metaphor for one of life's events. I am 34 years old, and I do not know how to swim.

It's not because I didn't want to know how to swim. I've never been afraid of the water, and always enjoyed the few times each summer my parents took me to the pool. But, I was never become one of those lucky self-taught swimmers. I tried to mimic the actions of those frolicking in the water around me, but never successfully. Both of my parents went through life without knowing how to swim, so they didn't see the need to enroll us in swimming lessons.

So here I am - I desperately want to know how to swim. I absolutely love being in the water. There is something so freeing about it. Swimming would also be a great activity post-injury. I took my first group swimming lesson about 4 years ago. I followed that up with months of private swim lessons. I eventually stopped those because I felt that my progress had stopped, and the cost of private swim lessons did not seem worth it anymore since no progress was being made. It seems that most swim instructors believe that the freestyle stroke is the first stroke that should be mastered before moving on to others. I could float, I had strong kicks. I was told that I perfectly executed my arms. But no matter how much I try or practice, I just can't get the hang of the breathing. I'm not a quitter, but I'm starting to believe that perhaps I just won't ever get the hang of freestyle. Maybe another stroke will work better for me. Oh, and let's not talk about how much I've practiced treading water to no avail. I left a couple instructors baffled as to why their techniques weren't working for me.

Since my initial attempt at learning to swim, I have tried more private and group lessons, hoping to find the instructor that would have the right words or trick to help me with whatever I am doing wrong. It's so embarrassing to be in a class with adults who are in their first group swimming lesson, and can tread water the first time they try...and I've been trying for years.

Monday was my first group lesson since my injury. When this session is over, I will probably try a few private lessons again, if I can find an instructor who is willing to work with me on something else besides freestyle. I'll keep you posted on my progress :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Formely Sedentary #1 - Get Moving!

Well, the past few weeks have been disappointing to say the least when I look back at my eating habits. My mom being in the hospital isn’t helping things. So, I took a moment to reflect on what might get me out of this rut I’ve been in. That’s when I remembered how much I used to love to exercise.

I have been overweight all my life, but I discovered the joy of walking some years ago. I have walked in 5 half marathons so far. I also attended every exercise class I could work into my schedule. I wasn’t losing any weight, but I was working out enough to keep my weight steady in spite of my binges.

All of that came to a screeching halt last spring when I had an “ankle sprain” that wouldn’t go away. Suddenly, walking even one mile became a chore –forget walking 13.1. After taking a break from aerobics, and engaging in weeks of physical therapy, I was still in pain. Months later, an MRI would reveal that I had a fractured bone. So, I was in a walker boot for a month. Then I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who told me that this type of fracture would not heal if I continued to walk on it. The next step was 6 weeks in crutches. Then 3 more weeks in the walker boot. (I had to take 2 months off of work during this process.) Six weeks of physical therapy, and lots of pain.

That leads us to the present. An MRI showed that the bone has healed properly. The doctor has determined that the pain I still experience on occasion is arthritis. Some days are good. Other days, walking can be excruciating. But when I asked about resuming physical activity, the doctor gave me the green light to do “whatever your pain will allow.”

Two days ago, I spent an hour walking around a local mall. It was much slower than I used to walk before my injury, but it felt good! Last night, I completed a 2 mile Leslie Sansone walk at home video. It was great to feel the surge of energy that comes when I complete a workout.  I have already decided that when I return home next week, I am going to take my bike in for a tune up, and start riding again. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a year since the injury first appeared. But, it’s time to put it behind me. I look forward to getting back to regular exercise, even if I can’t do so with as much intensity as I used to. Aside from the physical benefits, it helps to lift my mood. And who couldn’t use a little lift every now and then?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #6 - Hospital Awakenings

My mom is in surgery right now. I have been at the hospital since 5 a.m., so I thought I would share my random musings.

As I was sitting in the waiting area, I couldn’t help but hear the conversations going on around me. I drifted into a conversation of the lady sitting behind her who was on her cell phone.

"Yes, I am calling to see how my mom is doing. May I speak with a nurse please? Thank you"

Judging from the bags under her eyes, I could tell she'd had little sleep. Concern pierced her voice as she responded to the person on the other end. "What? There are problems with her heart? I'm sorry, we have a bad connection. I am in Cleveland right now at the Cleveland Clinic because my daughter is having brain surgery….OK, so mom has to go to ICU? Can I talk to her?"

This poor lady has a mom somewhere in ICU with heart trouble, and her daughter is having brain surgery! I can’t even imagine.

I moved to a different waiting area to help pass the time. In the smaller waiting area, another conversation captured my attention. There was the one guy – you know, the one who feels the need to talk the entire time anyone is seated near him - who was telling his story. "...Yeah, it was like we were tag teaming. I had a heart attack. Then once I got better, she was diagnosed with cancer." Others chimed in about their cancer experiences. Everyone else in that waiting room was there for someone who was having cancer related surgery.

Mr. talkative shared more. "They had to remove her spleen. Her spleen weighed 5 1/2 pounds by the time they removed it. Now the cancer has spread, so they are taking her thyroid out today. We've been here 15 or 16 times since she's been diagnosed. We live in Erie, Pennsylvania. So, every time we come, I have to pay for hotel expenses. You would think the insurance company would help you pay for that.” Two ladies in the room then shared about their loved one's diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer.

My mom is still in surgery. But the conversations of strangers are awakenings for me. I am awakened to the need to continually be thankful. Though there are lots of hard circumstances in life right now, I am reminded that it could be worse. I will pray for those stories I heard today. I will also pray for myself. I will continue praying that God will deliver me from the monster of binge eating. I know that I am slowly self-destructing from my unhealthy eating patterns. Ill health could potentially be my fate. I pray that the unhealthy binge foods will no longer have a grip on me, and that I can walk in freedom to make the healthy food choices I desire.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #5 - Overeaters Anonymous

I was listening to a health themed podcast the other day, and a woman shared her positive experiences from going to Overeaters Anonymous. She mentioned that her chapter encouraged members to abstain from sugar, as sugary foods can lead to binges. I have only been to about 5 OA meetings, but particular foods were not mentioned when it came to abstinence. Most people spoke of abstinence as it related to days without binges.

Still, it seems logical to avoid sugar. Aside from the obvious reason that refined sugar lacks nutritional value, it is interesting to consider that the sugar actually promotes binge behavior. I have been pondering lately the food-mood connection. For so long I attributed the "monster" of binge eating to my emotions. The more I read about nutrition, the more I am starting to believe that certain foods feed the monster. Perhaps being free of those particular foods is just as important as the prayer and counseling and support groups.

So, are there any OAers out there? Are you encouraged to avoid sugar?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Formerly Afraid #1 - Afraid of What?

 There was a time when I was afraid of so many things. Now is the time to trade in my fear for a little bit of faith. I am already changing, and look forward to continued growth in these areas.

So what was I afraid of? So glad you asked!

Social interactions – The thought of going to an event that may require interacting with people I didn’t know used to be crippling. The easy way to deal with this was to avoid situations like this. I explained it away by saying that I was shy or a homebody.  But really, I was afraid. Simple things like eating in the break room when new to a job, or attending a party where I only know one person. They were terrifying experiences. The fear of what other people would think of me would overcome me. There were several times in the past when I would get dressed, in an attempt to go somewhere, only to chicken out as I was grabbing my keys to head out the door. I have come such a long way. I am not exactly a social butterfly now, but I do go places. And I even challenge myself to strike up a conversation every now and then.

Writing – As an elementary school student, I received recognition and won many awards for my writing. Somewhere along the way, I stopped making time to write. By the time I entered college, and then grad school, my life was consumed with academic writing. While cranking out paper after paper, I had no desire to do additional writing. This has led to my current struggle. The part of me that loves writing wrestles against the part of me that criticizes my skill – or lack thereof. I can’t help but ponder what kind of writer I could have become if I had never laid my pen down. What if I had continued to cultivate my craft through high school and college? Would I have been published by now? I have decided that rather than dwell on the what-ifs, I will just write. I am 34 years old. So in the grand scheme of things, there is still time to take classes and cultivate my skills as writer. That way I won’t be here 20 years from now, still wondering what if.

Cute guys – I know, I know. It’s crazy. I mean, of course I want to end up with a cute guy one day, so why would I be afraid of them? I remember a few years back when a friend was going to introduce me to a guy she knew from church. We were walking towards him, and the next thing I know, I was making my exit out the nearest door. It wasn’t until after she said to hello to him that my friend realized I was no longer next to her.  LOL. I could bore you with all the baggage from my past that fed this fear, but I won’t. I just know that it’s time to move on from this. The past year has been significant in that I have forced myself into situations that would require me to have small talk with men. And guess what? It didn’t kill me. As I have grown more secure in who I am in Christ, I don’t worry as much about what others think of me.

Let's grow!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Formerly a Sad Single #2 - Barrenness

In a previous post, I talked about how I was formerly as depressed single. I also admitted that in my new found place of joy, I still have some “moments.” Last year when I turned 34, I had a series of “moments.”

I had been in a mostly contented frame of mind for a few years. There was something about turning 34 that jerked me into a reality I had not considered – that I may never have a biological child. I know that fertility decreases each year after the age of 30, and pregnancies at 35 and older are usually considered high risk pregnancies. To further complicate things, I have PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), which is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.  Of course I know that I can be a mother by adopting, and adopting is something that I actually want to do. And of course I know that God can overrule infertility. Still, considering that I may never experience personal pregnancy – that was a hard pill to swallow.

As a Christian, I used to have a distorted view of emotions. Somehow I had concluded that expressing hurt or disappointment was also expressing a lack of faith. But I don’t think God gave us emotions so that we can spend our lives repressing them. Healthy emotional expression is necessary. I am thankful for the minister who recently reminded me that I can cry out to God and let him know my frustrations. And that is just what I did. I grieved my barrenness, and allowed him to be part of the grieving process. I let God know how disappointed I was about not having children. I cried, and I felt His love and concern. 

I am back to my place of joy. I still want to be married. I still want children. But those desires are back in proper perspective. Ultimately, God’s will is what I want –even if it means giving up some of the selfish things I desire. Technically I still have some child bearing years left. If more years pass, and I still find myself without a child, I will probably have to allow myself to grieve again. And that is OK.
By the way, if there are any married people who may be reading this, please stop trying to encourage your single, barren friends, by telling them how Sarah in the Bible gave birth in her old age. That is NOT encouraging. The thought of giving birth at 90 is enough to make someone depressed. LOL! Seriously though, allow your friend their space to grieve. Don’t discount their emotions. Cry with them; let them know that you love them.

To those who may be grieving barrenness, please know that God cares about your pain. He cares about your tears. He’s big enough to handle your disappointments. He’s great enough to heal your hurts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #4 -Garbage Eating

Well, giving up sugary foods during Lent has been a challenge at times. Overall, my time spent in prayer is increasing, and that is the main purpose of this fast.

I will admit that it hasn't been perfect. There was that box of brownies, and that episode lead me to what is dubbed the "secret shame" in the video below.

Those who struggle with binge eating disorder/food addiction know all too well about the secret shame of garbage eating. It's when you've gotten so fed up with yourself in the midst of the binge, that you throw the food away in order to save yourself from further damage. You know - you bought 12 cupcakes, and after eating 10 of them (in addition to the other foods that were a part of the binge), you throw the last two away. Your hope is that by putting it in the trash, it will be off limits. But unfortunately, when the binge monster strikes again, you find yourself digging through the trash can, frantically searching for those 2 cupcakes as if they are you life source. It doesn't matter that they're buried in trash. You sit there, feeling helpless, and out of control. And you eat them, because it's the only way to get the monster to stop it's nagging.

I've been there so many times. I've never shared this with friends - before now - because it is so embarrassing. Still, I have hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Formerly a Sad Single #1 - Journey to Contentment

So why do I have a section titled "Formerly a sad single?" Well, I once viewed singleness as the bane of my existence. I thought God was punishing me, and was determined to figure out why. I'm still single today, but I am learning to – dare I say it – ENJOY my singleness.

My parents were married when they were in college, and I assumed I would have a similar story. So when I found myself with a Master’s degree, and no prospects of a husband, I felt lost. I had imagined that I would be starting my adult life as a married woman, and wasn't sure what to do with my single fate.

Friday nights consisted of listening to love songs, while crying into a pint of Haagen Dazs. Saturday nights were spent poring through the pages of bridal magazines, planning a wedding  that I could only pray would happen sooner than later. It was miserable to go day after day thinking about how no one had chosen me. No one deemed me good enough to be a wife. The thought of being single forever began to haunt me. I felt alone. I felt stuck - because after all, life didn’t really start until you met your life partner, right? 

Today, at age 34, my single life is different. I am enjoying my life. I am enjoying my friendships.  I am living. I still want to be married, and I definitely still have days when I cry out to God and ask “When?” But those are usually just fleeting moments. Most days I appreciate my single experience. I appreciate being able to manage/spend my money how I want without having to consider someone else. I love to cook. But, I appreciate the days when I can come home from work exhausted and have cereal for dinner, without anyone expecting me to produce a meal. In the winter time, I don’t feel the pressure to keep my legs shaved, because no one else sees them. :-) I can plan vacations on a whim. I can go wherever I want, whenever, without checking first with a spouse, and without worrying about securing a babysitter. See, there’s lots to enjoy about the single life.

There were a series of turning points that led me to where I am now. If I went into all of them, this post would be never ending. I will say that God was a part of each turning point that led me to a healthy view of my singleness. In future posts, I hope to encourage those who may be where I once was. I will also share my struggles and how I work through them.