Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diet update: Week 1

     I've just completed the first week of my diet and have lost about 2 lbs, which is a healthy weight loss rate. I really wish it was more, but I'm content. This week wasn't easy.  The first night of my diet I dreamed about eating a huge piece of chocolate cake and I felt so guilty for breaking my diet that I was mad at myself when I woke up.  I didn't really cheat, but that dream felt very real. I don't think it helped that I was already craving chocolate before I even started. 

    On Wednesday morning I woke up feeling awful. My back hurt and I had a migraine that wouldn't go away.  A few weeks earlier I had popped my left hip.  It's the same one I dislocated when I was a teenager, that has caused problems for me when I would exercise. Brandon had a chiropractic appointment that day and decided I should go along also. I can't believe how much my hips, back, and neck popped.  It sure felt good afterward though. No more pain, no more migraine, and I was able to get along for the rest of the day. I had a follow up with the chiropractor on Friday and it was a difference of night and day from Wednesday.  Only my hip and my neck popped a little bit. That's so much better than taking medications to mask the pain. 

     I behaved myself all week, but last night I was really wanting something sweet, so I found a recipe online for peanut butter and Splenda cookies. I don't really like Splenda and know it's not good for me, but we do have some in the house, so I figured a few cookies wouldn't hurt - they do not contain any flour and they're sugar free.  I'd post the recipe, but it was a total fail.  They just didn't come out right at all. As soon as we took them off the cookie sheet they fell into crumbs.  It's probably best that way anyway, although I was quite frustrated. LOL 

      I kept up pretty well on taking my vitamins everyday and drinking a lot more water than I'm used to, still not a full 8 glasses a day, though. I've also done the body test on the Wii Fit everyday, but didn't do the exercises because it kept telling me that my batteries were low.  Brandon brought home new batteries for the Wii Fit board and remotes yesterday, so I have no excuse today not to do the exercises. 

    Today, after I took Brandon to work, I stopped at Walmart and purchased the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD, thanks to the recommendation from my cousin, Lizzie. It was only $9.98 at Walmart, and based on the reviews on Amazon, it is definitely a great deal! I'm going to add this to my daily exercise plan, and I'll post my own review about it on my blog. I also bought a calorie counting pedometer with goal tracking and bag of sugar free hard candies to curb my sweet cravings throughout the coming weeks. 

     Brandon's birthday is coming up, next Friday. So, I'm on the hunt for a healthy, all natural recipe for cake and frosting. I realize that I will most likely be cheating on my diet on his birthday, but I really want to make him something yummy. I figured I could make cupcakes, for individual servings, instead of a cake and freeze the extras, so I don't overindulge. My birthday is only a few weeks after Brandon's so we can have the left overs on my birthday. It's a win-win! =) 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Magic Soap?

     I have been searching for all natural body care products and came across Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. Apparently this stuff can be used for all sorts of things: shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, dish soap, laundry soap and a slew of other uses. It has great reviews all over the internet and I even have a few friends who use this stuff. There are several different scents available as well.

     We picked up a bottle of the Tea Tree scent (I wanted the peppermint, but Brandon didn't want to smell girly so he picked the Tea Tree scent for our trial) at Target for about $10 for the smaller bottle. Nowhere on the bottle does it list how much is in it, but it's about the size of an average shampoo bottle. In fact, the label on the bottle is so full of tiny print, and what you do manage to read, you will realize that Dr. Bronner was his own kind of "special". Don't let that influence your purchase though.

     We decided to try this out in the shower, for our hair and body wash. First, I'd like to say, I do NOT like the Tea Tree scent. It's awful. Well, at least to me.  Brandon doesn't seem to mind. It is definitely a more manly scent. Smell aside, tea tree oil does have some nice benefits, and this soap makes you feel very clean after a shower. As a shampoo it cleans the hair very well, but you definitely need to get the conditioner as well (the conditioner wasn't available at Target). It's also highly concentrated so it should last a LONG time.

     I have not yet attempted to use this as a toothpaste, especially not in this scent... I can just imagine how it would taste... YUCK! Maybe the peppermint would work better for that purpose.  I think I would like to try Lavendar for the laundry, Citrus for the dishes and kitchen floors, and Eucalyptus for a bubble bath when we are sick. I love that the ingredients are all natural and contain essential oils that each have their own benefits. They even have a mild unscented soap for babies.

     If  you have ever used Dr. Bronner's, let me know what your favorite scent is and what you have used it for.  If you haven't used it before, I hope you give it a try.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

3 Bean Turkey Chili

1 lb lean ground turkey (brown in 1T coconut oil)
1- 15 oz can Bush's Great Northern Beans
1- 15 oz can Bush's Pinto Beans
1- 15 oz can Bush's Black Beans
1- 10 oz can Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1- 16 oz jar Pace Chunky Salsa (your choice of heat)
1 cup water
*2 tsp Mexene Chili Powder (I didn't add this this time because my hubby doesn't like it spicy)

Brown the ground turkey in a large skillet and strain. Then add all ingredients into a large pot and cook over medium heat. 

I chose these brands, because they do not contain added sugars. I didn't use Bush's kidney beans, because they had sugar, bummer. You could certainly go with other brands, or better yet, organic choices. You could also add other things, like fresh chopped onions. My hubby is used to his chili with spaghetti noodles in it, but I didn't add that because I can't have pasta on the SBD.  Corn is also good in the chili, but again that's not something I can have on my diet right now. I like cheese, but my husband doesn't, so I add a half slice of fat free cheddar cheese to my bowl. It's pretty good.  If you try my recipe, let me know what you think? Or, if you have your own suggestions on what I could add, let me know. Thanks!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

That four letter word .... DIET

For a while now, I’ve been overweight.  I’d like to blame it on having babies, and then the multiple surgeries and all the scar tissue it left behind, but I’ll be honest. I haven’t always eaten healthy, either.  For years my husband and I ran paper routes and we practically ate fast food the majority of the time.  I’m totally addicted to sweets and I know that certainly doesn’t help either.  About a year ago my doctor told me that my triglycerides were 5x the normal amount.  He said that diet alone would only lower that about 20%, that it’s probably familial (inherited), and that I’d be on medication for the rest of my life or I’d meet an early demise. I started eating low fat/fat free and no red meat, bummer. I love a good steak! I also had to take 1000 mg of Niaspan every day and an asprin 20 minutes before I took the Niaspan to help prevent flushing.  That is not an enjoyable experience. Medicine is EXPENSIVE and I told him that I would most likely not be buying it, so he loaded me up with free samples.  I also told my doctor that I do not expect to be on medications for the rest of my life, that I would overcome this, and he just sighed. Last year our church did a series on healing and I went up and received complete healing for this affliction. I believe it without a shadow of a doubt.  However, I’ve been more aware of what I eat and continue to eat low fat/fat free as much as possible. Then there were the holidays, birthdays, and a blizzard.  It seemed like everything was interrupting my plans to stick to a strict diet to finally reach my goal weight.  I was hesitant about setting a “New Year’s Resolution” for fear of not sticking with it and that would just make me feel worse about it.  I still feel hesitant about posting my goals for the world to see, just in case I don’t meet them, but I think it will give me a level of accountability. So here it goes…. 

Today is my first day of Phase 1 on the South Beach Diet (SBD).  I have read the book and even tried this diet in the past, and with success, however, you really must stick with it, as it’s not just a diet, but a lifestyle change. I do not eat SBD prepackaged foods. I’m not sure how those are possibly healthy after reading the ingredients list.  It’s almost impossible to avoid every bad for you ingredient, but we should when there are healthier options available. In addition to the foods to enjoy and foods to avoid list, I pick foods as close to their natural state, without additional preservatives.  Here’s a sample menu for the day:  Breakfast = 1 egg, 2 slices of turkey bacon (which I find tastes much better than regular bacon) and a glass of skim milk. Snack = ¼ cup mixed nuts and a glass of water. Lunch = 3 Bean Turkey Chili (homemade, recipe coming soon) and a cup of green tea sweetened with Stevia or Truvia.  Snack = 1 string cheese stick and a glass of water.  Dinner = Chicken and a vegetable and a glass of water.  Dessert = sugar free jello.  While SBD says you can eat as much as you want on their foods to enjoy list, I stick to portion control, have several small meals a day, and I don’t feel hungry.  Usually the first few days I’m still craving sweets, but then I’m not all that interested, just don’t tempt me. Phase 1 of the SBD lasts for two weeks and you are supposed to avoid starches and sugars to help reset the way your body metabolizes them. In Phase 2 you can reintroduce foods with natural sugars like fruits and certain vegetables.

I’m also taking supplements.  I take the Nature’s Bounty Prescriptive Formulas Optimal Vitamin Packs for women which helps promote healthy sugar, fat & energy metabolism, immune function, heart health, bone health and antioxidant support.  There’s a month’s worth of vitamins packs in the box and I found them the cheapest at Drug Warehouse for about $7 box. That’s pretty good. I also take Flaxseed Oil which I purchased at Sam’s in a huge bottle for heart and vascular health. I take Nature’s Bounty Super Potency Biotin for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism as well as its benefits for hair, skin, and nails. I must stay beautiful you know? And I take Nature’s Bounty Probiotic  Acidophilus, which promotes healthy digestion and intestinal health, every day, or at least when I don’t forget to take them. Did I mention that I hate pills? Well, I do, and I guess I need to find a good way to help me to remember to take them regularly.  

I don’t really enjoy exercising, however Wii Fit does make it more fun. I think what has always turned me off from attempting to exercise is that I’m always interrupted by something. I haven’t found the “perfect” time to do it.  My mornings are pretty busy getting ready for school. Then after school, I feel so worn out from the day. I’m hoping that if I am consistent with my diet and vitamin supplements, I will find more energy to keep up with my exercising. Now that the weather seems nicer, I’d love to find a jogging partner.  Maybe I can get up earlier in the morning to jog, or later in the evening if someone wants to go with me? This morning I weighed in at 167 lbs on the Wii Fit and my goal is 130-ish.  So, I have 37 lbs to lose.  But for me it’s not just weight, I want to be fit as well. After all, I have a lot of kids to keep up with these days! I’m hesitant to set a goal date for losing it all, but I’m confident that if I keep consistent, I will be at my goal weight by the end of the year.  I’m hoping for summer, though.  

Coconut Oil

A few weeks ago our pastor briefly mentioned that his wife cooks with coconut oil.  My husband thought that was interesting and brought home a jar of it during his next run to the grocery store. When I opened up the jar, I was surprised at the consistency of the coconut oil. I guess I thought it would be liquidy like olive oil, but it was solid. It only had a faint coconut smell, nothing too strong. I used it when I was frying chicken and the flavor is very light. On the back of the jar, it states that it’s good for your hair and skin also. So I decided to do a little research and I fell in LOVE with this stuff! Why? Well… why not? Coconut oil, unlike most if not all other cooking oils, is a medium chain triglyceride, which helps to increase metabolism and is more easily digested.  When used for cooking, it can actually help with weight loss. It’s recommended that a person consume 2-4 tbsp of coconut oil per day, and you may even be able to find it in capsule form to add to your daily supplements.  I have cooked with it, spread it on toast, and even put a tbsp in my oatmeal. YUM! I’ve read that it’s wonderful in a shake, but haven’t tried that yet.

Coconut oil is also wonderful for your skin and hair.  I have very dry skin during the winter, so I decided I’d give it a try.  Some people recommend warming the oil to its liquid state before applying, but I don’t think that’s necessary as it tends to melt at body temperature.  It goes on very smooth and absorbs into the skin fairly quickly. Again, it does have a light scent, but that tends to go away once it’s absorbed into the skin, so you don’t have to worry about smelling like a coconut all day long. The real test for me was on my feet.  My feet tend to get really rough, especially during the winter.  After only 3 days of slathering coconut oil on my feet and then putting socks on right away, my feet became very smooth. Since coconut oil is not at all greasy feeling, light, and absorbs easily into the skin, it’s perfect for massage oil as well. I’ve also massaged coconut oil into my hair and scalp as a pre-conditioner.  I find it’s better to melt it first before applying it.  You can leave it on for just 30 minutes or so, but I’ve left it in my hair overnight, and then washed it in the morning.  The coconut oil will absorb into your hair and acts just like your natural sebum.  This protects your hair from being stripped of its natural oils every time you wash it. The result is silky soft hair. Did I mention that I LOVE this stuff? It’s even said to help with hair loss and thinning hair.  It’s definitely worth a try!

So far, with this one product, I’ve replaced my cooking oil, body lotion, hair conditioner, and massage oil.  And I’ve not even mentioned half the benefits.  I encourage you to google the benefits of coconut oil and you will be AMAZED!  If you decide to give it a try, you should be able to find it at Walmart, fine grocery stores, health food stores, and online.  We purchased Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil at Reasor’s. Let me know what you think. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011


     Not long after my daughter was born, my doctor discovered that I had Endometriosis. If you want to learn more about this condition, please click on the link.  Approximately 1 out of 10 women have endometriosis, though many never have any pain associated with it.  I happened to be at the other end of the spectrum with severe pain.  I suffered through multiple laparoscopic surgeries over the course of a few years.  I had a complete hysterectomy and about 7 months later, I had to have an oophorectomy.  Since I was very young, my dr. put me on estrogen hormones, but discovered the estrogen caused it to continue growing. Once I stopped taking estrogen the pain subsided and was back to normal.

      It wasn't until I began hearing stories from other women who have also suffered through endo or knew someone who had it (one of my younger sisters is now suffering through it as well), that I started doing more research. While there are some circumstances that are beyond our control, such as being hereditary, there are some things we can do to prevent this condition. It is believed that pesticides that are used on the foods that we consume on a daily basis, may contribute to endometriosis as well as a multitude of other conditions and diseases that are becoming so common.  Also, when we store, heat, and serve foods in plastic, toxic chemicals, including synthetic estrogen, contaminate our food.  Estrogen contributes to the continued growth and spread of endometriosis. Since plastic containers for food storage and microwave cooking is so common in most households, we are literally poisoning our own families. 

     Just recently, we made the decision to start making changes... in the kitchen! I got rid of most of the plastics in the kitchen and our  non-stick cookware. Brandon purchased a set of Wolfgang Puck stainless steel cookware from Sam's Club. We also purchased Corningware and Pyrex for microwaving and storing left overs. This change can take some time if you do not have the funds to purchase all new kitchenware, however, it is an important one.  There are still a few items that I need to replace, like my cake takers and some serving dishes that I use on rare occasions. However, most of the things we use on a daily basis have been changed, with the exception of pantry food storage containers. I'm still trying to find some glass or stainless steel containers to store our sugar, flour, dry pasta, beans, etc... I've also been on the search for a stainless steel lunch kit for my husband (the kids don't have to leave the house to go to school, so there's no need for a lunch kit for them).  So far I've found one that I think would work perfectly.  It's called the Planet Box. When I have the money to purchase this, I will post a product review. 

     There are also those things we purchase from the store that are packaged in plastic.  I've made an attempt to contact the companies that sell some of my favorite products and ask them to switch their packaging from plastics.  Unfortunately, plastics are much cheaper all around for them than the alternatives, so they aren't that willing to change. Maybe if more people would request alternatives to toxic plastics, they would be more willing. 

     If my daughter never has to suffer through endometriosis, I will know that these changes were worth the effort. 

My purpose for this blog...

Over the years I have found myself in a rut.  I'm tired, out of energy, forgetful, sometimes sick, and I'm overweight.  I don't consider myself old, and I know I shouldn't be feeling this way. I know that this all happened over time, so I don't expect to change everything at once. This blog is about how I intend to make simple changes, one at a time, toward healthier living for myself, my family, and for those of you who want to follow along.  I will post about healthy alternatives to toxic products we use every day, recipes for healthy meals, and recipes for making your own household cleaners and body care products. If you like what you see, try any of my ideas, or want to share your own reviews or thoughts, feel free to leave a response to my postings.