Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Losing Weight With Real Food (and regular exercise)

Through a series of events beginning with when I got married, I gained about 20 lbs over the last year and a half. Definitely nothing to qualify me for The Biggest Loser or anything, but certainly enough to shock yours truly - who formerly belonged to the club entitled, "I can eat anything I want and still lose weight. In fact, when I overeat, I somehow lose weight."

Before getting to weight loss, we should address what caused the gain:

1) I am not in college anymore. By this I mean, instead of a fresh faced 19 years old with a metabolism that resembled a speeding bullet, to being 27 years old, very near to the "big 3-0." Not a huge factor, I don't personally think, since none of my family members seemed to gain weight until they were having children, and I have yet to experience that.

2) Birth control. When dh and I first got married I went on The Patch. I figured it was the best means of birth control that would also be reliable. I was wrong. While on the birth control, I gained about 15 pounds. Then I gained 5 more when I got off the birth control. I learned that this is because women and their fat retention are directly related to estrogen production. An excess in estrogen means your body will "collect" fat. A sudden drop in estrogen such as what happens when you get off birth control causes your body to automatically "cling" to that fat, in case you run out of estrogen. So getting on and then off of birth control caused issues there.

3) Depression eating. When we had been off the patch 4 months, we started trying to start a family. We got pregnant pretty much right away, and because that whole time I had been exercising and trying to eat in ways that were better for fertility, I actually lost 6 of those 20 lbs in 6 weeks on my treadmill desk. Losing the baby a month later, though, I gained all 6 of those lbs plus 4 back because I could not stop eating. I have struggled for a long time with overeating in the past (of course, it really never affected my weight. Somehow back then I ate with supposed impunity).

OK, so now on to what I've done to lose weight, and what it has to do with Real Food:

First of all, I cannot neglect the important factor of exercise. As I briefly mentioned above, I work on a treadmill desk. I walk at a slow pace (1-2 miles an hour) for the majority of my work day, Monday-Friday. This averages about 8-10 miles a day. This has definitely played a part in my weight loss, but it is important to note that I was on this same treadmill desk while I was stuffing my face over depression in the winter, so the treadmill desk alone is not enough.

When the new year began, I new I needed to take drastic action. I wanted to get down to a reasonable weight before we got pregnant again. I had just watched the documentary Fat Head with my husband, and we decided we needed a lot more protein in our lives. Particularly because I had been hypoglycemic in the past (though our use of sucanat instead of sugar, as well as our switching to real milk, both seem to have played a role in balancing my sugar), I thought it was important to try and implement some of these things.

Protein Based Snacks.

Usually I bring granola (complex carbs and some protein) to work with me as a snack. I did an experiment for a few weeks (which I have sense tempered as I will describe). I only brought hard boiled eggs and mozzarella cheese with me for my snacks. Lunches were salads with chicken. I felt so full during those days, and had ridiculous amounts of energies, but I had to work hard to get up to 1600 calories. Amazing. Who knew low calorie could be so satisfying, and so easy??

I tempered it a little bit for the sake of avoiding monotony. I do also bring my homemade granola for one of the snack items. We have started eating eggs and /or bacon many mornings for breakfast. Recently I switched even that up to full-fat yogurt, a hard boiled egg, and granola with real milk.

I am eating full fat of real fats, fewer carbs (but not eliminating them entirely). When I do eat any grains or other carbs, I try to combine so that I am eating them with high protein foods. We have switched to frying our fried foods in pork lard.

These are all things that the mainstream food media tells us will make us fat, and what are the results?

I have lost 4 lbs in six weeks. It does not sound like much, I know, but it has been consistently down. On the treadmill desk before, I lost an average of a pound a week, which is exactly what the average is for work-walkers. based on my weighing in, it took me about 3 weeks to lose the first pound. That is, I think, partly because while I was implementing the new eating habits, I wasn't exactly doing away with the junk food I had grown so accustomed to while I was depression-eating post-miscarriage. Took me a few weeks to wean myself off of the chocolate. Regular weighing showed, though, that I was at least not gaining any more. Then, when the weight started to come off, it came off consistently at about 1 lb per week, just like before.

I will certainly keep periodic updates on the progress, but I am thrilled that I have already lost almost half of what I gained in the winter, and exactly 20% of what I gained overall. And I am not feeling deprived. I am not craving anything because I am feeling satisfied. This is a "diet" I can live with and not yo-yo on. And - in addition to slowly but surely losing the weight I gained - I feel amazing. More protein has meant more energy for me, and who couldn't use more of that?

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, visit Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more great posts!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Enjoying an Easy Week

Hey Everyone!!

My family has been in town since late Thursday night. My parents traveled down from the Adirondacks to see my sibs and I, and their many many grandchildren. Friday night of last week through this Tuesday, dinners have been at my brother's house because it has the most room for everyone. We've all taken turns providing meals, but it has mostly been my sister and my sister in law, which has been a total blessing, because I've been pretty sick this week. The nasty head cold that was going around moved in, and then switched up it's game and became a chest cold. YUCK! Anyway, this week's meals do not actually start until Wednesday for us.

Wednesday - Chicken Soup (from homemade Stock) to try and chase away the last of this cold.
To Do - change out kombucha

Thursday - Homemade Hummus, Naan, and Tabouleh

Friday - (My Late Night @ Work) Dinner out

Saturday - Chicken Breast sauteed in garlic and onions, steamed veggies, Rice

Sunday - Pan Broiled Venison Steaks, Sweet Potato fries (fried in Lard), steamed veggies

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday. See other great posts at Org Junkie.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - New Real Food Baby Steps!

Before the menu plan, Valentine's Day weekend:

For the weekend, dh and I took our usual Valentine's Day trip to Greenville for the Winter Jam concert (because we like to pretend we're still in college sometimes, haha). It was a great concert, with Third Day headlining. I have loved their music for eons, but I have never actually seen them live (which, I believe, is shameful). I am not saying that any of the other artists were insincere, but I have got to say that the sincerity and genuine heart that the guys in Third Day have for the Lord and for ministry is so apparent in what they do and how they interact with the people while on stage. The other bands that were there included a new kid to the scene - Robert Pierre - who is only about 17. I will simply say he could learn a lot from Third Day, but he is quite young yet so there is plenty of time for that. Also joining the line up was an Aussie band called Revive, who I had never heard before but really enjoyed, and Sidewalk Prophets who I had also never heard, but quite enjoyed. Everyone else I was quite familiar with: Fireflight, Tenth Avenue North, Newsong, and Newsboys. Having grown up listening to the Newsboys, it was very strange to see them with only one Aussie member (Duncan) and fronted by Michael Tait (formerly of dc Talk), but it looked like they were having a lot of fun together, and the music was fantastic. That is part of my V-day present from dh every year since we started dating (we are on year 3 of Winter Jam).

The other exiting thing about going to Greenville is Whole Foods. Now, I understand that not everything for sale at WF is actually healthy, and I am disheartened to hear from Kelly the Kitchen Kop that they are adopting a new marketing strategy and implementing new literature that is going to promote a vegetarian-focused, low fat, "heart healthy" diet that veers away from the real food focus they had previously seemed to espouse. However, here in our tiny town we have no source for good, inexpensive, grass finished beef and free range poultry products, like we can get at Whole Foods in Greenville. Sadly, nearly all the chicken farms in our area are owned by Field dale or Tyson, and they are the deplorable - low, long, and dark- chicken houses you might have seen in Food Inc. So, even though I had just heard of the sad news on Whole Foods, I was more than happy to go and stock up on the meats I needed. And I got a pleasant surprise I had never seen there before - Lard! Pork lard in the refrigerated section from local pits. Lard that did not have to be "shelf stabilized" with tons of hydrogenated oils. A small pail was less than $5, and so I figured it would be a great way to begin cooking/frying with lard, and see how we like it. I could hardly contain my excitement, because even though we have begun using butter more, we had not had the opportunity to try lard or tallow yet for our favorite sweet potato fries or for onion rings. So....this week will include beer battered onion rings with grass-finished bone-in beef shank! Cannot wait to try it.

I do have to say, though, we did get some funny looks from people who heard we wanted to buy red meat and fry things with lard. Their new agenda is obviously setting in already.

On to the menu plan:
Monday - Chicken Soup with Barley
To Do: Sunday night, make stock. Monday morning, soak Barley

Tuesday - Chicken and biscuits (made with fresh chicken stock and meat leftover yummy free range chicken)

Wednesday - Beer Battered Onion Rings (ala the Kitchen Kop's recipe), Grass-finished Bone-in Beef Shank, Steamed Vegetables

Thursday - Taco night with Grass-Finished ground beef.

Friday - Family in Town - Dinner TBA

Saturday - Family in Town - Dinner TBA

Sunday - Family Birthday Party - Lasagna

Also, a question for anyone who might have an answer. I've never cooked with organ meats before, and these chickens we got from WF still have the gizzards and hearts, and I am curious what some good recipes/methods of cooking are. I've gotten a few ideas here already, but I'm wondering what other options there are. Any help is greatly appreciated!!

This is a part of Menu Plan Monday with Org Junkie. Fine more great meal plans there :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

2 Great Giveaways!!

There are two amazing giveaways at Nourishing Days. Each does deserve their own paragraph:

The real way to clean up a dirty mouth is not Orbit, it is Miessence Organic Toothpaste. Fluoride free is just the beginning: Miessence is also alcohol, glycerin, and detergent free. The disinfecting agent is actually none other than.....Aloe Vera! Who knew?? Flavored (functionally) with antimicrobial peppermint, clove, and spearmint oils; your mouth will not taste medicinal after brushing anymore.

The next giveaway is a treasure for sure - free enrollment in a Traditional Foods e-course by Real Food Blogger Wardeh Harmon. The course costs $27 a month for 5 months, and covers subjects such as soaking and sprouting grains and beans, naturally pickling foods, making dairy kefir and water kefir, and more! The course is already a great value, but getting enrolled for free is even better!!

Check them out, it is definitely worth your while!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Real Food And Theology? Accept No Substitutes

Also posted at Ezekiel's Valley.

I was pondering aloud with dh the other day; wondering why it is that The Food Police seem to think that they need to convince the world that the food God gave us will kill us. Then, just phrasing it like that, I had an epiphany.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden because they believed they might be like God, and all the time since then we have been trying to prove that we are autonomous beings, not created, but accidental: We decide that God did not create us, we evolved - as though it is some great feat we should pat ourselves on the back for. "Hey, look at us! We single-handedly turned ourselves from a single celled organism into a walking talking human being!" We don't need to worship our creator, we can create gods for ourselves and worship them. It began with food (eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil), why would it not continue with food?

After all, we were created in God's image. God is a creator, and we long to create. You can see that in the fact that we love to build, to create art, to have children. The problem is not with our desire to create. God put that desire in us. The problem is that sin in us distorts that desire. Our desire to create mutates into a desire to create better than God does. It evolves into a desire to be solely independent of our Creator, left to only create and control.

So we see the food that God gave to us in nature, and we try to do one better. God said, "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. " We take corn and turn it into hydrogenated corn oil and high fructose corn syrup. We inject cows, chickens, and pigs full of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones so that they grow faster, bigger, and "better." We spray poisonous chemicals to protect fruit from bugs, and so poison the honey that is a healthier, natural sweetener with natural healing and soothing properties. We take what is natural, what God gave us; and we twist it like sin nature twists us. And we have inexplicably rising rates of cancer, heart disease, genetic mutations (not the cool comic book kind, but the real and painful kind); just like the persistence of sin in humanity leads to social cancers like envy, theft, murder, and adultery.

We did not start eating real food for theological reasons. We learned through research and the pursuit of healthy living that meat, butter, cheese, whole grains, and vegetables were better than rancid oils, sugar, refined flour, and MSG. And when we found out how much better, we could not figure out why people keep pushing the fake junk down our throats. "Meet the Buttertons" commercials tell you that margarine is better than butter, without telling you that indigenous tribal peoples all over the world who have high amounts of butterfat in their diet have straight teeth, healthy skin, and practically no incidence of heart disease. I do not know about anyone else, but I have dealt with the pain of braces, and my kids are going to have straight teeth if I can help it.

It boils down to trust. There are foods that God told us were good for us. Do we trust Him? Would God tell you to include something in your diet that was going to give you heart disease or cancer? The thing is, in our humanity, we take what God gives and we try to go further. We think that saturated fats being healthier than polyunsaturated fats means that we should mainline them. Honey was almost always known as a healing agent. Sweet and soothing, honey has antimicrobial properties that can help fight infection, settle the tummy, and soothe the throat. So what does wisdom (a.k.a. common sense) tell us about honey? "If you find honey, eatjust enough-- too much of it, and you will vomit ." Honey is one of the things God said the Israelites would find in the Promised Land. Honey is not a bad thing. Overindulgence, though, makes you sick.

We may have started eating real food for different reasons, but we keep eating real foods because we trust that what God has for us is the very best we can get. We do not want the world's imitation food, just like we do not want their imitation love, their imitation success, imitation pleasure, and imitation life. Jesus said in John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." I want life. I want a full life. I want to trust God's best for me.

DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that NOT eating real food is heretical, NOR am I saying that eating real food makes anyone more righteous than anyone else. This is SIMPLY an interesting look into the reasons why it may be so hard for scientists to accept that real food is better. Aside from pharmaceutical company payoffs.

This is a part of Real Food Wednesday!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentines Week Menu Plan

Hey Everyone!!

Last week had some switches: Jeff was sick on Santa Fe Soup night, so we did breakfast for dinner instead (nothing like scrambled eggs and toast when you're not feeling well!). Also, tax refund = night out, we went to our favorite little Haitian restaurant here in town. I had the Oxtail with Fried Plantains....mmmmmm! We're "take two"ing the Santa Fe soup into Santa Fe Chicken (also a la Jeff as before).

Monday - Tilapia Sauteed in Butter w/Lemon & Lime Juice, brown rice and steamed green beans.

My recipe was pretty easy: Melt (copious amounts of) butter in a frying pan, add garlic, salt, and pepper to your preference (we like a lot of garlic in our house). Place thawed Tilapia fillets in the butter, squeeze the juice of one lime quarter and one lemon quarter over fillets. Turn fillets carefully (they get more fragile as they cook), and squeeze 1/4 lemon and lime over other side. I used a small skillet and so only cooked two at a time, so I would use half a lemon and lime (all together) for every 2 fillets being cooked.

Tuesday - Spaghetti, whole grain garlic bread

Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner: Sweet Potato Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon

Thursday - Stirfry

Friday - Santa Fe Chicken

Saturday - In Greenville for Valentine's Day (Dinner out)

Sunday - Venison Steaks, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Veggies

For more great menu plans, visit Org Junkie!

Sorry I have not been posting here as much. I have started writing more devotional-themed blogs at Ezekiel's Valley (my other blog). Check those out!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Hey Everyone!

Date with dh tonight meant that my meal plan is up late...which is odd since I have had it planned since Saturday, but here it is:

Monday - "Beef" stroganoff w/ venison cubed steak & whole grain pasta

Tuesday - "Santa Fe Soup," This was Jeff's idea and so he's finding the recipe. I'm thinking it'll be something like black beans, chicken, corn, etc. I'll post a basic recipe after he makes it!

Wednesday - Home Group night (busy busy) so leftover stroganoff

Thursday - White Chili in the crock pot.

Friday - Chicken, Rice & Pinto Beans

Saturday - Homemade hummus & Naan, Tabouleh

Sunday - Leftovers Parade (hopefully some leftover hummus will be featured!)

For more great menu plans, visit Org Junkie!