Tag Archives: grain free

You Are Not a Number – aka Screw the Weight Chart

weightchart2In my last post I showed you guys pictures that told a story, and the feedback was so heartwarming and wonderful. What a blessing on me that I could inspire some of you!

The reaction to those pictures sparked an idea for this post – the idea of using another picture to tell a story that can hopefully help some of you break more chains.

(Yes, I know I said more recipes and meal plan ideas were coming, and they will! This post rose up inside me and I had to let it out! :D)

I said in the last post that I hadn’t stepped on the scale in a while. So this morning I decided to live on the edge and give ‘er a whirl again (mostly because I really wanted to write this post for all of you out there who, like me, have suffered a lifetime of the onus of The Chart hanging over your head – and I wanted it to be authentic and accurate).

Weight charts theoretically serve a purpose, in general terms. They should be a guideline, giving a range of figures that can lead us in the right direction for better health.

The problem is this – if you struggle with weight, eating, and nutrition issues, particularly if you – like me – are genuinely built large, once that number is in your head you’re never good enough again in your own mind.

Never.

You’re never skinny enough, you’re never healthy enough, you never look good enough, you’re not part of The Club: that special group of people who seem to naturally fall right into the “correct” column on The Chart.

While each of us suffers individually, thinking we’re just not good enough, not “NORMAL”, check out the numbers. According to the CDC:

  • Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 35.9% (2009-2010)
  • Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight, including obesity: 69.2% (2009-2010)

Yup – the truth is, more of us are off The Chart than on it. While we’re over here feeling all self-conscious and inferior, so is most of the rest of the country.

Health is important, in the end it’s really the only thing that can possibly offer us the hope of a long life that allows us to see our kids grow up, meet our grandchildren, and enjoy all the wonderful things the world has to offer right up to the last possible moment.

A number does not define health. Especially when that number does more emotional damage than good.

Back to the scale this morning. The verdict – 224 lbs. I underestimated in that last post, I’ve now lost over 40 lbs. since September. This is my lowest weight in five years. (I’m 5’9″ by the way).

The BMI calculator on WebMD says I’m still “obese”. The Chart says I “should” be between 125-169 lbs. (yes, it adjusted for age and activity level).

At a *minimum*, The Chart says I should lose 55 more lbs. At maximum, 101 more lbs. If you saw that picture from the last post, you can understand more fully how frighteningly ludicrous The Chart really is.

My goal is to get under 200 lbs. I have reached an age and mental state in life where I know myself and the weight at which I am comfortable. I have a large frame and I’m very muscular. I will never be tiny.

Screw The Chart. The Chart doesn’t know me.

The picture you’re about to see is from 23 years ago. I was 19 years old and had subsisted on 1200 calories a day for months in order to get to “pageant size”. I landed at 160 lbs., in a size 10. (please – for the love of all that is good and holy – try to overlook the insanely ridiculous and huge 90s bleached out hair!)

pageant

It was very difficult to get to that weight. I wasn’t eating enough, and not enough of the right things. I was still dancing. Even so, 160 was rock bottom for me. I couldn’t break that barrier. (naturally I still thought I was enormously fat anyway)

It was not sustainable. I got married a couple years later and settled into a comfortable size 16 until I had kids. No one ever guessed I was a size 16, just as no one ever believes I weigh what I weigh now.

So, let’s look at the facts there – at age 19, going hungry, very active, I was still just 9 lbs. under what The Chart says should be my *MAXIMUM* weight now at age 41. I can only imagine what it was supposed to be at that age, pre-kids, pre-metabolism slowdown.

Why am I telling you all this, even though it’s not exactly about going grain free? Because I think The Chart can get ingrained in us so deeply that we never really exorcise that nagging notion that no matter how healthy we feel, or how happy we are in our clothes, we’re still not quite good enough.

Damn The Chart to hell. Only you know you. The goal should be feeling healthy and energetic, minimizing medical issues, and exuding confidence in yourself.

Let The Chart go.

You are a beautiful, amazing, valuable individual. Not a number.

Please share your experiences and thoughts about the weight chart with me in the comments!

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Burden of Proof (or yes, Virginia, ditching grains really does make you shrink)

It’s been way longer than I planned for it to be before getting back here to post again. Between the kids, the puppy, the house, the job, the very occasional date (don’t get all excited, no I haven’t found “HIM” yet but it sure is fantastic to get out and talk to adults!) and every other little thing life throws at us when we have the cojones to make any kinds of plans, I’ve just been running crazy.

But I promised pictures and here they are. The first one is in June 2013, a week after THE BREAKUP, in full-on uglytastic 80s garb for the moms’ dance in my daughter’s recital. Fat, depressed, sick, unhappy, exhausted, in physical and mental pain. It is not easy to share this picture but I know that so many people (including me, still!) need inspiration, and need to see with their own two eyes that there IS a life outside of the one they feel trapped in. The second picture is from today – January 31, 2014.

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I have not stepped on the scale since the last post. I’m fairly certain that I’m at upwards of 30 lbs. lost now. The numbers aren’t critical to me, how I feel is – and I feel great.

Do I cheat sometimes? Hell yeah. Especially if we’re going out to dinner, I will have whatever I want. But I am very careful not to go too far, and to keep myself on track at home because that’s where I eat the majority of meals.

I also feel compelled to add that this hasn’t just been a matter of dietary change. I have done a tremendous amount of mental and emotional work in the past four months. I am convinced – pathological disorders notwithstanding – that it is almost impossible to see long-term physical improvement/weight loss without doing the mental work along with it. I know there are those who will disagree, and that’s fine, but I have spent an adult lifetime battling my weight and energy levels (with thyroid problems on top of everything else) and I can say without reserve that until I began to fix some of the seriously off shit upstairs, the downstairs stayed fat.

That said – I know some of you have been begging for more practical ideas, recipes, meal plans, things you can put into action every day in real life, so the next post will focus on those issues.

Until then, please share your thoughts and stories with me in the comments!

Grain Free and Weight Loss

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I never used to believe it when people would say that they lost weight just by making a small adjustment in “lifestyle”. After 2.5 months of grain free eating I’m no longer a skeptic and I gotta say, it feels good!

I have avoided the scale til today because it’s a real catch 22 for me – if the results are good, it motivates me. If the numbers aren’t what I want, it can send me into a spiral of doom leading straight to the fridge. So when I started eating grain free, I decided I wouldn’t even go near the scale until I felt at least fairly happy *in my clothes*, that way the numbers wouldn’t wield much power.

This morning I was feeling priiiitee good, so I took the plunge and stepped on.

Backtracking a bit – way back in June, immediately following The Breakup, I danced in the moms’ dance in my daughter’s dance recital, as I have the last couple years. I was MISERABLE. I was an emotional wreck, I was fat, unhappy, and would have simply crawled into a hole if I could possibly have avoided the week-long recital hell. But I couldn’t, because my kid was counting on me.

Fast forward to September when I finally decided to take action and kick the grains – since then I have felt amazing physically, I don’t need naps anymore (ok, maybe on a rare occasion during that special time of the month D:), I don’t feel like a sloth after eating, and most importantly I don’t CRAVE anymore. I still have a high-stress life, but the biggest difference is that I no longer have the urge to use food as a sedative. That is HUGE. All of you who struggle with that *know* how huge that is.

Back to this morning, I figured what the heck, I’m moving steadily toward going down another pant size, I feel confident and pretty when I go out, why not see what the scale says just out of curiosity. Since going grain free, I have lost……drum roll…..

27 pounds!

I can honestly tell you – I do not go hungry, yes I eat carbs (and plenty of them), I don’t think about food constantly, I don’t feel guilty when I eat, I don’t crave junk but I can eat a treat and be satisfied with just one, in short – I don’t try.

Again, the biggest benefit of all is that I don’t have cravings and I feel fantastic. Actually, maybe I don’t feel fantastic. Maybe I feel “normal” – maybe this is what people who don’t regularly go into a bread coma feel like. Either way, I’ll take it!

I can also honestly tell you I’m not a workout crazy gym rat. I take my dog for a two to four block walk most days, I dance around with the kids sometimes, and I try to do a few crunches and standing push-ups each day. Oh, and I love goblet squats. I just try to sprinkle a little movement in here and there throughout the day.

Don’t get me wrong – I am still in plus-sizes and probably always will be. I haven’t been in “regular sizes” in adulthood since I starved myself to a size 10 for a stupid pageant when I was 19. My “goal” is to lose another 40 pounds. If I do, I do. If I don’t, that’s ok too.

If you’re wondering what 27 pounds of weight loss actually looks like, stay tuned – the next post will be pictures! 🙂

Have you seen success in weight loss by making small changes to your lifestyle or eating habits? Share in the comments!

Grain-Free Chicken Soup & Dessert

chickensoup

One of my new favorite grain-free meals is homemade chicken soup – perfect for the ever-cooler days! The kids and I often slow roast a whole chicken in the oven just to eat off of, so after cleaning all the meat off the next day I just drop the carcass in a couple quarts of water with a cut up onion, carrots, and celery, plus sea salt and pepper, and boil for a few hours (then allow to cool and strain, obvee).

The flavor in the resulting stock is amazing, but if you don’t have time to do this (and there were many years when I had babies in diapers and didn’t have time to bathe myself much less make homemade stock!) you can certainly use store-bought.

You can either freeze or refrigerate the stock, then when ready to assemble the soup:

  • saute a chopped onion in butter or olive oil – when it’s just about soft and ready, add a bit of chopped garlic (I use precut in a huge jar from Costco)
  • slice carrots, zucchini, and celery – the trick to this being a *souper* fast soup is to use a mandolin or the slicing side of a cheese grater; this makes the carrots thin so they cook lightning fast (plus they then resemble the texture of noodles a bit)
  • let the veggies simmer in the stock for a few minutes before adding the chicken, so that they have a chance to soften up a bit
  • add the chopped chicken and any additional seasoning – I throw in a few bay leaves and taste at this point to see if more salt and pepper are needed
  • simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors join – then enjoy!

I also sometimes add a can of diced tomatoes, and next time I’m going to toss in a can of white beans for additional protein and bulk.

Add the sides of your choice for a satisfying meal – a salad, potatoes in some form, a lovely winter squash, grain-free muffins, the possibilities are limitless.

pbchchbars

Next I tried these flourless peanut butter chocolate chip blondies from The Detoxinista. The batter is insanely simple to put together. As promised when I started this blog, you’re getting pictures of my real unfancy food from my real unfancy kitchen, and that includes the (too frequent) times that I overcook things. My kids have have a long history of exclaiming “Mom! You didn’t burn it!” when I set before them a meal that isn’t dry with a suspiciously dark hue.

So here is what happens when you overcook these bars. If they look like mine, you left them in too long. I did mine about 20 minutes; I think next time I’ll set the timer to check them at 15 minutes. Still, they were delicious – with a cakey, caramel-ish taste – and even the grain-eating little trolls in my house kept stealing them when my back was turned.

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So, we have a keeper with these (especially if I don’t burn them again), for those occasional times that I miss the decadence of a dessert bar (I don’t do rich sugary things too much anymore, lest my body get any ideas about jumping back on the cravey-train). The next project is attempting to convert them to chocolate, as my 18 year old tells me “blonde brownies are always such a huge disappointment”. LOL. I will update on the results of those efforts.

Share your sinfully indulgent grain-free dessert ideas in the comments!

10 Healthy Foods for the Grain-Free Kitchen

bananas

Organic bananas

I consider bananas a staple in my grain-free diet. Not only are they filling and under 100 calories, but bananas pack a nutritional punch with B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, fiber, even a gram of protein. If you have milk in the house (cow’s, coconut, almond, whatever) – perfect smoothie by itself or as a base. I specify organic bananas because they are usually only 10-15 cents more per pound than regular.

Carrots

Organic carrots

Carrots are versatile, filling, delicious, and one cup provides your entire RDA of vitamin A. Carrots also give you carbohydrates, particularly helpful if you’re going for a grain-free but not low-carb diet. Carrots give you lots of soluble and insoluble fiber as well, helping to eliminate the need for those “healthy fiber-filled whole grains”. Carrots are also a good organic buy because they are very close in price to – sometimes even cheaper than – regular carrots.

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Sunflower seeds

I love sunflower seeds because they are a perfect grain-free replacement for croutons on a big, yummy salad. Sunflower seeds are rich in iron, fiber, magnesium and B6 – you just want to limit them to a handful as there are 200 calories in a mere ¼ cup, and they can contain a lot of sodium if not raw and/or unsalted.

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Eggs

What really needs to be said here? Eggs are awesome. Fried, poached, omelets, quiche, hard-boiled, deviled, not to mention that in grain-free baked goods eggs are often a vital binder. For help sorting out what kind are best for you, Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food has a handy chart explaining egg labels and exactly what they mean.

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Olive oil

Ahhh olive oil! I love it. Nearly anything can be sauteed to delicious perfection in it, and it has a high heat tolerance for frying as well. Homemade salad dressing just begs for a good olive oil. On top of the taste benefits, olive oil contains MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids, considered healthy for their cholesterol-lowering effects), antioxidants, and can even be used in skin and hair care.

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Kale

I used to stay away from kale because being a very mediocre cook, kale intimidated me to no end. Then I heard about kale chips, and I had to try making them. Super easy, delicious, even kids like them! Sauteed in balsamic vinegar and garlic, kale makes a yummy side dish. The real bonus with kale is that it’s high in iron, vitamin K, antioxidants, fiber, and it’s anti-inflammatory. Kale is affordable, to boot!

yogurt

Yogurt (Greek and regular)

Plain full-fat yogurt is my go-to for smoothies, or easy breakfast with some fruit and a drizzle of honey. High in protein and of course a great source of gut-healthy active cultures (probiotics, essentially), yogurt is rich and creamy, even a great substitute for that ice cream craving.

Baked-Sweet-Potato

Potatoes (sweet or regular)

Not everyone agrees on eating potatoes on a grain-free diet, and certainly not those trying to cut out all white starches. I find that being able to have a small potato or a few chips really gives me that little bit of satisfaction I sometimes need when missing the bulk of bread products with a soup or meat. Sweet potatoes are a good healthy choice for those who don’t want white starch – they provide you with iron, fiber, folate (superior to artificial “folic acid”), and more than twice the RDA of vitamin A.

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Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is a true gift to the grain-free diet. It’s super yummy baked with just (real) butter, or butter and brown sugar, and can even serve as a passable noodle substitute for under your favorite pasta sauce. Spaghetti squash contains multiple nutrients and minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc, but one of the biggest benefits to the grain-free diet is that it only has 42 calories per cup, thus offering an enormous calorie savings over pasta.

nuts

Nuts

While the nut debate rages back and forth in the grain-free and paleo communities, I adhere to a simple philosophy – moderation is key. Our ancestors certainly would have foraged nuts, but they wouldn’t have been getting them by the bucketful as we can in a supermarket. Added to a trail mix with dried fruits, or eaten by the small handful once in a while as a protein pick-me-up, nuts can be a healthy inclusion in the grain-free diet. Eaten with restraint, nuts give you heart-healthy fats, brain-healthy omega-3s, protein, and fiber (gee, that whole “must eat whole grains for the fiber” argument is shrinking by the minute, isn’t it?). Just watch your intake if you use a lot of nut flours in baking, as nuts do contain phytates just like grains do.

What are your favorite grain-free, nutrition-packed foods? Share in the comments.