Monday, October 17, 2011

Celebrations are good for the body

It was a very busy weekend here with errands and family parties. A birthday celebration for my mother in law and a baby shower for a nephew. I kept thinking with the baby shower that it was only a month ago that we gathered for the baby shower to mark the nephews impending arrival. Where do the years fly by ?

Both events were the standard party environment filled with foods that are meant to feed a crowd and no emphasis is paid on watching calories or so forth. It's food that says celebration to the occasion , and it is in abundance. For someone who is on your standard weight loss type plan, such events require a lot of forethought, management strategies , potentials for grief and more ( "Oh my gosh- I ate three pieces of cake " sorts of grief) . It was the first party I have attended for a while because of my knee injury, and one that happened well into my decision to simply eat real food and nourish my body. In past  times there was always this compulsion to try a little bit of each thing, lest you insult someone who brought the dish or hurt their feelings. Not so any more- I went for the things that appealed to my appetite, ate till I felt satisfied, did not give a care about meeting any kind of health goals with my intake ( must eat a veggie serving) or any such thing. At the party on Saturday I had a soda, an Italian sausage sandwich on a bun and a small piece of birthday cake. At the baby shower I had a cup of punch, a piece of fried chicken ( a thigh) , two bites of a pasta dish and a small square of cake ( scraping off the frosting because I don't like frosting). I spent a lot of time in conversations or listening to conversations, and I was satisfied on many levels. Both were experiences that I am glad I have. It was refreshing-celebrating family milestones without any thought to food.

While I have never had emotional eating issues, I have had calculation issues. Counting calories, points, grams, servings or whatever before an event and after an event so that they did not do damage. Holidays and celebrations became  "cautionary events". How realistic is that ? What does that say to the deepest levels of our minds about family, joy and even basic enjoyment ? Do we really need to become these bodies that fit someone's mathematical idea of perfection but yet are fearful, bitter and selfish within ? Do we need to see things like a cake or a high fat dish as a mortal threat ? Isn't that just a little like seeing a demon under every doily and living in constant fear ?

We are more than bodies. We need to feed not only the body , but the spirit as well. Simply gathering with your loved ones to say "hooray" for someone's event does the soul good. Same with indulging in some of great grandma's  strudel or cheesecake at such an event. Leave the math for places and things where a numeric figure is the only game.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A weigh In

Life has slowly moved back to the more normal pattern here, but some things will never return to the way they were. One big move has been the decision to live with TV Trays instead of an actual dining set , to save space and allow the existing flow of the living/dining area to remain.  Funny thing is that there is something about eating on a TV tray that really alters your menu planing ideas. While you can justify eating things like salads and soups, things like a Thanksgiving sort of meal just do not fit. We plan on reclaiming our dining room table sometime after the first of the year, with a move to completely wireless laptops . Currently the dining room table is serving as the media room, and we are questioning the value of having completely static wok stations.

Unpacking is finally done,m and I have been able to get back to exercising once again. Stairs are still a challenge I cannot met, so exercising has been with the Wii fit. I stepped on and learned that I have lost 8 more pounds without dieting, eating real fat, sugar and real foods, and using salt to taste. I have also given up the arbitrary water rules that say you must chug 6 8 oz glasses of water per day. If I want a sweet, I eat one.If my day is too full of must do activities like the laundry or vacuuming, I do not try to cram in exercise , nor do I worry about it. This plan has seen me losing 19.5 lbs over the last 3 months or so. I also feel very well.

All of this just solidifies what so many " rebels" have been saying about weight loss. Calories mean nothing, the body needs real saturated fats for health, and you do not need to use a Gym.  Ever. What we do need is to simply move, eat real foods and eat them in a way that our grandparents prepared them. We need to devote time in our days to making real, nourishing foods. One of the most harmful behaviors we have adapted is to treat food as an afterthought in our lives that can best be provided by a corporation ( who's interest is more in profit than in nourishment). Rather than plunk down money for a gym membership of piece of exercise equipment, we need to pick up the brooms and mops and rakes in our homes and put them to good use. We need to skip the chemicals to clean and simply apply elbow grease to get the surfaces clean. We need to skip watching things like Biggest Loser or The Real Trainwrecks who Happen to be Vampires of Hoboken New Mexico and move our furniture to vacuum under it. It will make us feel less stress, more peace and allow us to lay down our heads at night with a feeling of real accomplishment . And in the process, the scale will show positive progress, the lab tests will return favorably and we will all spend a whole lot less time worrying about things  .

Monday, October 3, 2011

A visit to my kitchen

It's now October, and suddenly our cooking habits turn from quick and light to comfort food it seems. With all of the apples, squash  and other produce, how can you resist ? Summer meals seem to be the stuff that you can grab and go or grill, but come the fall we all seem to crave meals that say slow down, linger and rest. The earth shows a brilliant display of colors before settling in for a long winter's nap, and our very instincts mirror that sentiment.  Here in my kitchen, it is time to start building up some serious resources so that our meals can be nourishing and frugal. An empty freezer is a terrible thing !

Let me show you one of the things I am proud of- my created pantry. This kitchen is small, high cabinets that are not very user friendly for my short legs, so I converted a coat closet right off the kitchen into a pantry space for herbs, flours, baking supplies and so forth

This is the view as you open the metal doors. Two bookcases and a rolling butcher's cart have been pressed into service here. The bottom rack of the butcher cart holds Tupperware containers of bulk flours, oatmeal, rice and so forth.On top is a book rack that holds my cooking herbs, and on the closet shelf I store those over sized cooking pans and bowls that are used but not every day. In the drawer rests parts for my stand mixer, frosting tips, food processor blades and so forth.

Close up of the herbs, bulk nuts , dried fruits and leftover junk food from the move - needed to have something available for quick energy during the move and for the very crazy packing and unpacking days. At times, junk food does have a purpose !

Second bookshelf  holding baking supplies, stock of teas, steam mop and so forth. Odd sized knives and the sharpener are also stored in here.

And here is the actual buisness work area of the kitchen. A caddy with cooking utensils, block of knives, can opener, timer, broom that I need to find a better home for and my trusty stock pot/pasta pot. Today it is being used to convert these guys into Liquid Gold

Chicken feet !!! Yes, actual feet of actual chickens. While they look disturbing and sound gross, they create some of the finest gelatinous stock. I am tossing these guys into the stock pot , along with a collection of chicken bones that I have been saving in the freezer for the last month. This will render about 30 cups of nutrient rich chicken bone broth. Once it has cooked on a low heat for about 12 hrs, I strain out th bones and veggies , and it is better than any commercially prepared chicken stock.

On the other counter, which is home to the rice cooker, crock pot, Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor, est 3 pie pumpkins that will be roasted in the oven, pureed and then frozen for soup, pies, pumpkin oats and a lot more. I am expecting to get 20 cups of puree from these guys. Mister crock pot is not getting a vacation today- he is going to work on these :

Ox tails ! These make a wonderful soup. In my childhood, oxtails were one of those dirt cheap foods that we would all relish. They are beef, but have an incredibly rich beef flavor. Sometime in the mid 80's their price went from pennies to several dollars per pound, and we stopped eating them, except for the rare occasion when they went on sale. I am making a big batch of oxtail soup today ( for dinner and the freezer) , and then tomorrow I am using the actual bones to make beef bone broth. Did you know that you can re-use bones for a couple of batches of stock ? I was not aware of this. Chicken bones can be used 3 times before they lose their flavor but beef bones ( tougher) can be used over and over and over. Considering the price of these , I intend to get as much bang out of them as possible. Between the stocks, soup, pumpkin, pulled pork that I made the other day and vat of spaghetti sauce I made last night and forgot to snap a picture of, I think I am getting a good start to this stocking up project.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen ! It's small but very functional. What is going on in your kitchen today ?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Food attitude and directionally challenged

There is something about moving that can throw your very deepest senses of direction and space relation completely off kilter ! I have been wandering around her for 3 weeks, unpacking, getting into my new routines and feeling like someone placed me in the spin cycle of a dryer,let me out and now I am attempting to walk without crashing into something ! In our old place, all of the windows faced the east. Here, they all face the north , and it makes for an odd play of light and shadows that my brain is still not used to.

Sometime back I made the decision to no longer count calories, points, food groups and simply eat according to appetite. It is working. I have thrown away the scale ( literally), and am going by the way my clothing fits, my own stamina, flexibility, energy levels and so forth. I have dropped an underwear size, my tee shirts are hanging tragically loose, I am able to walk longer and farther, and can now do things like sit on the floor and get up ( could not do that for some time because of the injury). It is working. I am eating things like butter, eggs, whole milk, nuts, fish, chicken, red meat, veggies, grains - basically anything as long as it is not a processed food. I do a lot of cooking from scratch. During the move, all of those rules went out the door and we spent 5 days eating fast food three meals a day. It made me feel sick, run down, bound up and just plain unpleasant. While it was EXTREMELY nice not having to cook or worry about dishes at that time, it convinced me of the benefits of taking time to do the less convenient thing. Once again, weight loss is no longer the goal, focus or issue for us. Eating real food is.

Next week I am going to cook with something I never have before- chicken feet ! In the Oriental culture , these are used often to make soups because of their high gelatinous properties. Gelatine is good for you joints, bones, hair, skin, connective tissues and more. It is a source of protein , and these are used in broths to help the body absorb the properties of any healing herbs used. I need to stock my freezer here, but have been a little intimidated to do serious cooking in this very clean, white kitchen ! Time to get over it , and back to serious eats. I will post pictures of these strange little things next time .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm back !

Sorry for the very long break, but it has been a sort of exciting summer. Biggest news is that we have moved into a new place that is on the first floor and has many things to absolutely adore about it. Here is a peek at my new kitchen - it is small but extremely efficiant !
The closet that lies behind I am using as a pantry- something that I have wanted for many years. While at first it struck me as tragically small, once I got a moment to sit and think about how to best use the space, I grew to love it ! The complex has a health club, plenty of sidewalks to wander , and is adjacent to one of the longest bike paths in Northern Illinois. Good things will happen here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Flat, Flexible Footwear Best For Arthritic Knees

Turns out I am not crazy about the thing with shoes- flip flops and flexible soled soes are better for arthritic knees

Flat, Flexible Footwear Best For Arthritic Knees

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Maybe Prohabition was a good thing.

It was a very crazy week here, but filled with "good" choices, lots of movement , and a day of Jury Duty.  I think I would rather have a root canal without pain relief than be summoned for Jury Duty ! It's not that I have objections to doing one's civic duty, but in my case right now , Jury Duty service is in downtown Chicago, and a minimum 2 hour commute be it through mass transportation or driving oneself. Good news was that the commute was completely handicap friendly, so my fears of not being able to board the trains fast enough to avoid having a limb torn off proved to be irrational. Thanks to consistent exercise and avoiding dietary triggers, I was very mobile and even considered stalling to shop in some of the stores downtown. However, the reality of packing and the need to keep expenses to a bare minimum prevented me for doing so. I have to say , if you get a chance to make it to downtown Chicago, check out The Thompson building. Outside looks like an interesting shaped building, but inside it is a breathtaking spectacle of shopping, offices and more done in such a way that it is awe inspiring !
  That was Friday, and Saturday found me so glad to be done with the service and the return to the prospect of packing that I forgot to weigh in. ( as I have sated before this is not about weight loss but about gaining mobility , so skipping  weigh in is a non event). I spent the day cleaning the house, moving around dejunking , sent the guys grocery shopping and then at dinner ( italian sausage patties that were on sale , deli salads that were on sale and bottom of the line white buns on sale). It was wonderful to be able to move with minimum pain ! I decided to have a beer because it was very hot. Beer on a hot summer day can be very thirst quenching. It was one of the bigger mistakes of my life ! I did not even drink half the can, and within 10 minutes my bladder kicked into hyperdrive ( not pretty) , and every joint in my body became achy and swollen. It was so bad I could barely walk by the end of the night. On Sunday I could barely move !( and as of Tuesday morning, I am still in serious pain). What the heck ??? Why in the world was this impacting me so strongly ? Was I suddenly allergic to beer ? Was it a backlash of spending a month trying to eat in a more "diet" friendly manner ? I am totally baffled . I used to drink beer when I was younger, but then it started giving me serious heartburn  and so I stopped. I have never experienced such an instant and full bodied reaction to a food unless it was an allergic one. Can a person be allergic to beer ?

I don't know the answer specifically, but I do know that it seems to say what I am doing at the moment is not healthy for the long haul. If a diet of traditional foods helped me to recover and a month of switching to "healthy" foods possibly robbed me of my mobility , what would an intelligent person do ? It strikes me that the answer lies in traditional foods. This week I am taking something called a bone broth challenge. Bone broth is a stock made from the bones of an animal ( chicken, cow, lamb)  long, slow cooked with a bit of vinegar to pull out the calcium. Drink 2 cups of this per day  WITH the fat on ( your body needs it) and it helps to rebuild cartilage, connective tissue, remove cellulite and even make your skin and nails healthier. Another thing I will do is to drink a quart of Nettle Infusion per day. Nettle is a lowly garden weed that contains a hefty does of minerals that the body needs. It strengthens the urinary tract, boosts iron, nourishes the bones , heals respiratory allergies, nourishes the adrenal glands( something critical for menopausal women) and improves the appearance of skin, hair and nails. Next week I will return to making sourdough breads because of their benefit to the digestive system.  This with the continuation of the gentle movements I have been doing should go a long way.

Strangely enough, I am thankful for the sudden set back. It has helped me to determine what is really important , and what it not. I will simply have to find a way to afford these foods while we are cutting back. We really need to have me functional and mobile !

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weigh in week 4

Busy weekend, so just a quick note- down 4.2 for the week

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Victory !

Yesterday, for the first time since November , I was able to put on my  athletic shoes, walk in them and wear them for the whole day with absolutely no pain. This is a major victory ! Next step- being able to walk on grass again !

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The value of sweat and cheap eats

I think right now the biggest lesson I am learning is how very much exercise works to combat anxiety ! I go along, de junking, mentally prepping for the actual packing, let my mind spin all the possibilities and potentials, find myself getting very nervous about several what if's, and then having them all disappear with a good session of sweating with The Wii. It's a brilliant thing that I have never been able to experience. It's not that I have never exercised or engaged in heavy physical activity, but rather that perhaps for the first time in my life my adrenal glands are working and I can actually sweat and remove the stress hormones from my body through sweat.I remember one of my PE teachers telling us that we had to run a mile in so many minutes, and after working up a sweat from this and showering I would feel like a new woman. I did not- even with running a three minute mile I never could sweat, and thought the whole process was rather stupid.

As I worked yesterday I began formulating a list of cheap eats that utilized things we have in the freezer and cabinet OR that can be bought for "cheap", but yet are still healthy. We are in the summer months and fresh produce tends to be inexpensive ( our Farmers Markets have not gotten the idea that they are supposed to carry actual fruits and veggies- did you know that  Avon and Mary Kay are crops ???)They may sell a handful of fresh herbs and fresh baked bread, but that is where it ends. Considering this, grocery stores are our options and thankfully we have some great ethnic produce stores and Aldi's carries a pretty good selection of common fresh produce.Aldi's do vary as to their selections- in our area they are getting to be more numerous than Starbucks, and I think it makes us have a better distribution center then perhaps others. You can always purchase fresh apples, oranges, grapes, onions, bananas, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, carrots,cucumbers, mushrooms and avocados there. They always carry frozen broccoli, broccoli mix, green beans , blueberries and strawberries . These are not the end all beat all of produce selections, but they will keep you healthy. The fresh selections includes other options according to season at very low prices, so it can be a pleasant surprise shopping there. Here is the master list I will be working from for meals

whole roast chicken ( one roast chicken can stretch to 3 meals)
Quiche ( refrigerator Velcro that uses lots of odd little bits in a cheap protein)
chicken and noodles- leftover roast chicken
cabbage fry( a brilliant Burmeese dish- sauteed cabbage and egg)
cornbread with creamed chicken ( non dairy creamed using thickened homemade stock)
tuna salad
chicken salad sandwiches- leftover roast chicken
fried egg sandwiches
spaghetti with oil , garlic and tuna
meatball and onion subs ( ground turkey)- sauted onions make up for the flavor lost when it's minus cheese
polenta with chicken or ground turkey and veggies- again, refrigerator Velcro
polenta with sausage and peppers
sesame peanut noodles - peanut butter never had it so good
chicken loaf- leftover roast chicken transformed
ground turkey meat loaf- meatloaf with ground turkey chubs
coconut rice- brown rice cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with cloves,cinnamon and turmeric
veggie and chicken lo mien - a little meat, a little pasta, lots of veggies
home made pizza- redefined without cheese or tomato sauce ( grilled onions, meat, white sauce)
sweet and sour turkey meatballs
carrot raisin salad- always appreciated
Cole slaw- cheap cabbage in a sweet sour dressing
tossed salad with fruit- varies according to what is on sale this week
polenta with eggs- healthier than pancakes
quinoa muffins- cooked quinoa is included in a muffin recipe for the protein
hard boiled eggs
overnight oats-oats, some form of milk, fruit and nuts set in a container overnight and eaten
oatmeal- the old standard
peanut butter and apple sandwiches
It always feel better when you have a plan to pull from ! Any of these will be served with veggies or a salad, and accompanied by either water or home made ice tea. If lemons go on sale, lemonade is another option. I will round things out snack wise by buying boxes of cereal at Aldi's ( very affordable , less calories and more satisfaction than cookies) , cheese sticks for the boy and baking either brownies or a pound cake for a weekend treat. Both are easy, use cabinet ingredients, get several servings and can be frozen. Why consider a treat ? We include a treat on either Saturday or Sunday ( lately it has been non- dairy ice cream , which gets very expensive), and to cut out any and all "fun" foods quickly makes one feel like you have stepped away from "real" life. It is not the once a week treat that gets us into trouble, but rather when they become an every day occurrence.

I think we are going to make it !

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The little surprizes along the way

Sorting, sifting through, rounding up donations, sending other things to the trash. Bend, stretch, lift, bag, separate and suddenly realize this few minutes that I was going to devote to the task has stretched into a whole day , and in stopping it changes your  view, and you are reminded of another something that needs to be sorted through before packing happens. I am giving myself till August 15 to de-junk and then it's full on packing . In the meantime we learned that we have to pay a very substantial fee for breaking our existing lease. Add that to the deposit on the new place, the cost of moving equipment, the need to replace at least two beds, curtains, other fancy stuff and you discover that for the next 3-4 months your grocery budget absolutely, positively must be slashed to a fourth of what you currently spend. Oh yeah...add to that the fact that it is now the summer months where you have less income, gas prices are outrageous and the electric rates almost double here in the summer months. The only expense that can be cut is groceries, and this becomes really interesting when you are working on a health goal ! You then have to start making compromises and sometimes choosing between the lesser of two evils. ( Beans and soy are out - beans contain substances that make for arthritis flairs ( purines) and soy negatively impacts your thyroid (hello weight loss stall and unexplained gain !) I am seeing a lot of stir fries, fried rices and such in our future- even  couple of pancake dinners. Thankful thing is I recently stocked our freezer with boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale and chubs of ground turkey. Gotta use up the freezer before we move.

Time to fire up the Wii , and then off for another round of "What was I thinking and why do I have 6 of these ???"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lists are only good if you read them

I think I might need to get a better system of locating my to do list. I write it down on my computer, but lately I forget to look at the list to be reminded. I completely forgot to weigh in on Saturday . Since this is not about weight loss anymore, no biggie. Just keep doing what we are doing and focus on other matters.

It was a busy weekend with a family reunion and a trip to sign the last bit of paperwork on the new place. It is something like 10 miles away from here, and I am cracking up about our new street address. The number is 669- you know, three numbers away from the number of The Beast ??? I keep laughing at the irony. Packing and moving is going to be a beast, and it looks very much like it will just be the 3 of us doing the whole thing. And one of us still walking with a cane and only able to carry things with one hand. Stimulating.

I was not able to attend the family reunion. The location it was being held at suggested the tents and tables were going to be set up on a large piece of grass, and I have great difficulty walking on grass still.Rather than risk a fall ( an diminish our future moving/packing crew any more), I sent the guys and stayed home to play with a crochet star pattern, watch bad 70's horror movies on Hulu. They had fun and so did I. I am not sure what these purple stars will become  ( and they are purple because it is the only color of yarn I have), but it feels very settling to do something with my hands while I watch mindless TV  in an attempt not to freak out at the whole reality of packing. Living in a new place is great- having to make decisions such as whether or not to keep  the Seal a Meal that you have not used in 5 years against the potential of  the event that someone may shoot a yak , an give you half the meat in the future, and you want to package it in a secure fashion to store in the freezer. Or discussions such as we have not been camping in almost 15 years, are not likely to go camping because of allergies and sleeping on the ground  but we have all this camping gear that is taking up space in the storage locker , so do we keep it in the event that we become homeless, give it away to a friend, donate it or attempt to sell it in it's twelve generation retro state ?

Off to exercise with The Wii- come on endorphins ! Keep me sane !!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And now for a change in workout

Seems I am going to have to add a new dimension to my workout- we re moving in 90 days ( unless something major changes this). Packing, sorting and moving 10 years of accumulated stuff on top of the collection of 20 yrs treasures you brought with you from the previous place is no small deal. A happy and exciting one, but not a minor effort by any means.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Frozen bananas

Things are sort of reaching a "lather, rinse, repeat" kind of pattern with exercise. There is the Wii routines of different variety, the mini cycle, the walking, the flip flop work out , and all that jazz. A quick word on the flip flops- the reason these are in my life is that I still have to depend on my husband to do the shopping, and the goal is to get me back into shoes with any kind of a sole. I have never had an issue with needing to grip flip flops with my toes while walking because of a very strange shape I have to my foot ( I struggle to get them on or off because of it). The tripping factor comes from the fact that I have to raise my foot with each step an inch higher than you do with ballet slippers. That inch is the thing that has kept me from wearing shoes , accompanied with a rigid sole. With a rigid sole extreme pressure gets applied to my knee with each step, so right now these are the device that was chosen. I am beginning to think a pair of aqua socks may be helpful as well for other reasons.

Meanwhile, I have rediscovered my love of chocolate covered frozen bananas ! Since the non dairy frozen treat experiment I have been craving these, and for some reason the stores we visit regularly do not have these in stock. Why ? Who can say. Two stores in our area carry them, they are out of the way, so I broke down and made a batch . Simple as can be- get bananas, peel and cut in half, get sticks, melt chocolate , dip and freeze. I had no Popsicle sticks or drinking straws, so I cut some bamboo skewers down to size to use. For a little bit of effort I was rewarded with a dozen frozen bananas for a fraction of the cost. I am going to toss some just plain bananas in the freezer next time to use in other frozen creations. Toss frozen bananas in a food processor with a little almond milk and you have almost instant ice cream that is very healthy and refreshing.

It is cool and rainy here this morning so bread baking is happening today , along with the lather, rinse , repeat of exercise. Have a good one !

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flip Flop Work Out

Yesterday , after getting in a good 40 minute workout with my Wii , I felt capable, competent and like I could tackle the world . Feeling this way will inspire an individual to not only do challenging things, but have the confidence that such challenges will be a matter of mental attitude more than anything else. Go muscles !!! You can do it !! With such an attitude  I embarked on my personal goal for the week of being able to walk for the whole day in flip flops.

It may sound strange to some, but going from not being able to wear shoes to something like flip flops requires the body to use different muscles, hold itself at a different angle and so forth. Fans of The Big Bang Theory may recall in the first episode how Sheldon explains that if a stair height is changed by mere centimeters a person will trip. Comedic fact, but a fact none the less. The reason for this is the same reason going from no shoes to shoes is a challenge.

The first 15 minutes went fine , simply because I was seated at a kitchen counter , packaging up chicken broth for the freezer. The problem began when I walked over to place the packs in the freezer. Did you know that linoleum senses a challenge , and will aggressively throw it's design into a 3D form as protection ? It has to be so, which would explain why I kept tripping over the print in the tiles. The morning wore on , and I kept stumbling over the nap in the carpeting, the threshold to the bathroom , imaginary trolls and puffed up dust bunnies. Luckily I was able to grab onto something with each incident so I did not fall. However, within 2 hours my knee was hurting enough to decide to  take the shoes off and congratulate myself for going 2 hours with them. Tomorrow is another day and  a chance to build up more.

Bob and I took a very short walk outside when he got home- by short I mean almost half the front of our building. It was so short because the muscles that support my knee were feeling very iffy from the whacking  of my knees with the stumbles. Such a grand walk could be very depressing, but I am reminding myself that this is still early in the game  and I have no where to go from here but up !

Monday, June 13, 2011

Excitement !

Sunday had two features in it that made for an exciting day . It started off being not so thrilling, but it is important to find ways to turn a dull sort of day around  so they can make you smile. Seize the dayplanner, and all that good stuff !

For a while I have been in the need of some new items of clothing. The happy friendly Tee Shirts are looking faded and have several stains for one thing. For the past few months it has not been a real issue, but we have a couple of events coming up that require some casual ( but without stains) apparel. I have only recently even made it into a store because of the recovery, and in the meantime our local Wal Mart has been remodeled into one of those super-centers that is large enough to begin considering having public transportation within just to get people from the Produce isle to Sporting Goods on the other end of the store. You know the ones  ( though I do admit to pondering the hilarious potential if stores like this would begin to stock fishing tackle next to the fish counter and have the live goldfish along side that. This way, all the average middle aged mom would have to remember is something dealing with fish, head to the area and let all the visual clues jog her memory as to what about fish she needed.). While it is wonderful to have everything under the sun under one roof, they can be exhausting to walk. If you have a nobility issue, ever worse. Yes, they have motorized carts, but I am not going to go there. I fear if I get in one of those I may never get out! So shopping has been the responsibility of my husband. This detail has been complicated by the fact that since the injury I have not been able to walk in shoes of any kind. It sounds crazy, but the soles hold my knee at such an angle when I take a step that  it sends waves of blinding, non productive pain through my body. After a lot of research we finally found thee Danskin ballet slipper things that I can put on and wear. Technically you have something on your feet but it offers no protection from anything you step on. So, all this being said , I sent him out in the quest for a shirt, and he came back with shirts, shorts, bras and....a pair of old school flip flops. You know those ones that are like all of 2 bucks and eventually the toe strap pops out of the sole so you cannot wear them any more ? Really flimsy, but they have a flexible enough sole that your foot moves almost like in bare feet. He bought a pair and I can actually walk in these, but it is like learning to walk all over again. That inch of flexible sole changes your gait, accessing different muscles from barefoot walking. Yay- close to shoes ! I wore them around the house for a very short time and had to take them off because my thigh muscles were aching like I ran a mile for the first time. Such a silly thing, but there you have it. One of my goals for the week is now walking more in these shoes.

Second excitement. While they were gone, I got to use the Wii completely on my own, doing whatever I choose, and wound up working out for 90 minutes without even being aware of the time. I spent it in cycling, canoeing  and fencing(sword battle with 100 opponents). No son at my side with a non stop stream of reasons why this game is good, the history of it, our history, discussions of what Presidents were best in history, ideas for lunches in 2015 and so on. Only sounds were the Wii background music and the birds chirping outside my window. And my thoughts- it was a really nice change of pace !

Life is good .

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Silly Sunday

I was thinking about my blog's title this morning and realized that many people through history have had a funny thing happen while on the way to the scale. Let's examine a few of these things from our collective past:

Smoking as weight loss ! That's right gents- eliminate those craving for between meal snacks with cigarettes. Endorsed by so many things endorsed by experts as the only way to go. Yes you will lose weight by smoking, but you might also lose a lung, your esophagus or even your life. So much better than a between meal snack though...right ???
Ah, yes...the grandmother of those cellulite removing creams and loofahs ! This one seems to be meant to target that double chin and "ungainly ankles". I cannot begin to tell you how many nights I have lost sleep worrying about my ungainly ankles....

Of course, this machine will work to scare the extra pounds into moving to some other more comfy home. It evolved into this :
The one on the right, a primitive version of The Hula Chair, was the final revision of this original idea :
Can we say grandfather of the mechanical bull ?? It is obviously the ladies version of this gym dandy thing that will reduce your waist and give you a fresh pressed look all in one move

Why does that remind me of an old fashioned coffee grinder and sausage maker ? And we giggle as the Shake Weight today ! Then there were the home sauna suits, wrapping your body in celophane rap, the Hot Dog /Banana /Egg Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, but all must stop and bow down to the weight loss product that everyone forgot about due to a brand new serious disease emerging with the same name:

Yes indeed- a funny thing has happened on the way to the scale for as long as people have been believing that it's numbers are anything more than that- numbers. Every one of them endorsed by experts. Keep these images in mind as you go through the paces with your own journey. When you feel like quitting, think about strapping yourself into one of those 1920's weight loss devices. It you are feeling snacky, think of the old Ayds reducing plan( a candy and a warm beverage 20 minutes before any sensible meal  3 times a day). And keep smiling - we're in this together !

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Week 3 Weigh in

I think we found the right balance for Nick ! Finding the right balance is such a key to long term success.

Weigh In
Me- down 3.8 lbs ( this now makes a total loss of 10.8 lbs with just giving up dairy and using the Wii for exercise)
Nick - down 2.8 ( still snacking, eating normal food, exercising with the Wii)
Bob- Up 0.6 ( a very bad week at work , 3 sleepless nights and an allergic reaction)

I am still so completely amazed at how well my body is responding to being dairy free ! I am eating nothing fat free( actually easting things like coconut oil and butter- which baffles me why I can eat it and not milk), eating a few normal cookies with lunch, a handful of chips and even carbs like white pasta. I am even eating normal full fat salad dressings and full fat and sugar non dairy creamer in my coffee. All of these things, in past attempts, would have gone out the door in the effort. This time weight loss is not my main focus, but instead gaining mobility and joint health with the understanding that less weight will be less stressful on my joints. In all past weight loss attempts I would work to insure that I got a minimum of 3 servings of dairy each day. It blows my mind that following that simple good health advice might have been sabotaging my efforts all along.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Note to self

Dear Self:

Yes, you are feeling great. Yes you are able to move a whole lot more. However, you still must exercise caution about some things, as no matter how much you believe you can do them, they are still a bit out of your league. Take yesterday afternoon's furniture moving for example. Yes, it is a good idea to really vacuum your mattress, box spring and pillows very well about once a month. Yes it cuts down the amount of dust mites, dander, potential bedbugs, alien space craft and unicorn fluff that will find your bed as comfy as you do ( and consider you to be like a free Thanksgiving banquet). However, queen sized mattresses are heavy, ungainly things to move , even with a partner who is doing most of the moving.The action of lifting the behemoth and standing it up against a wall will put strange types of stress on several muscles and joints. Just because you can do a Warrior lunge does not mean you can compete with "Burly Guys Moving Company". Yet. And if you do decide to engage in furniture moving, when a movement makes you audibly wince and then say ouch, it means stop doing this- not just try to adjust your stance so you can do more. If you pay attention to these things, you will not wake up swollen, stiff and in pain.
                                           The Managment

So today finds me very stiff, very achy, with a knee that feels very iffy. Not a good day to focus on any kind of Yoga or walking, but an excellent day to get in Wii rowing , cycling and boxing in a chair . For some very odd reason I am noticing the more I devote to upper body workouts, the more mobility and stamina I have with my lower body. It does not make sense along the conventional lines, but perhaps it is an indication that I hold my upper body in such a way that it puts unnatural pressure on my lower spine that begins the pain train. I also notice that I work up much more of a sweat with upper body work than lower body. Perhaps it is because with upper body work I am in less pain and able to go harder or something. Don't know why, but I will take it ! They say that we have to involve the lower body, bigger muscles in order to get a good calorie burn in. If so, why is rowing about the best calorie burning exercise ? Things like that make me question conventional exercise wisdom. I think that it ultimately comes down to finding an exercise that you can do comfortably and enjoy enough so that you can do it for a minimum of 30 minutes to get your blood pumping, lymphatic system flowing , build muscles and increase your flexibility. I could be totally wrong , but this is the conclusion I am drawing from considering the entire health and wellness state of the body.

Tomorrow is weigh in and I am hoping that we found the right balance of snacking with Nick in order to get him back on track.It has been a struggle helping him make better choices this week, but at least this time he is a lot more "present" and understands fully the results. It will be really hard to cheerleader him into continued good habits if the scale shows no progress or a gain !

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We love Wii

Well, did not make it to the store last night. Part of the reason was that my stomach was feeling very "flippy". Eating a lot of salads and fruit can do this for a while sometimes to a person. Not exactly sick , but not exactly well. Then I began thinking of the inherent dangers of "sports shopping"- you know, the kind where you have an idea that you want to just kind of look at possibilities for clothes/books/sheets and wind up dropping 100 dollars an things you found that you will need/use in the near future and were on sale/clearance/special ? Such trips can be really dangerous to your financial health. So we stayed home and worked out with the Wii. Nick and I did a half hour together in the morning  and so we calculated that if we each did a half hour with daddy, then everyone would get in an hour of exercise for the day. So we did, we all wound up sweaty after the session and it was a good time.

I am coming to really love The Wii as a fitness option. It is there in your home, it has a wide variety of possibilities and does things in a very entertaining way for all ages. No matter what the weather is outside or how crunched your schedule is , you can plug it in, pop in a fitness game and work up a sweat. From gentle movement like tai chi and yoga to vigorous cardio like Zumba or boxing, there is something for every fitness level and ability level. When not using one of the fitness games, the just plain gaming involves movement of a lot more than just your thumbs. It takes up minimal space , is cheaper than a treadmill or elliptical and is constantly being improved ( at the moment).  At first I was skeptical- how could a video game actually improve your level of fitness after all ? But the truth is movement is what brings fitness, weight loss and  strength. Anything that gets your body moving in a sustained fashion for a length of time will get the job done.

And with the Wii , you can exercise in bunny slippers !

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot, hot, hot !

We've moved into our first actual heat wave here. It's been a very weird weather season with temps acting like early spring, then summer then early spring again and accompanied by more rain than I have ever seen. Yesterday the heat index was 115 and the heat advisories were posted. I think our air conditioner let me know that it was a hot one by groaning LOUDLY much of the day. Summer is becoming the season of Deafness it seems.

So we opted to do indoor exercise with the Wii ( which I am now convinced can actually work for weight loss and physical fitness) and changed the menu to those foods that would not tax the AC. We did an hour of Wii cycling and Walk it Out, getting all excited about new songs we unlocked. Sad thing is that non of them are anything that I ever heard before , so I had to keep asking my son if this was an actual song or something Nintendo invented.( He is greatly amused when mom shows how old she is getting). The planned chicken breasts for dinner turned into salad topped with grilled chicken - thank you to the George Forman grill ! Then I remembered overnight oats for breakfast and started on a batch of these. Per serving you take a half cup of rolled oats and once cup of milk of your choice ( I chose almond milk). Then you can get creative. I added a tablespoon of flax, 2 t of blackstrap molasses( mainly for the calcium) , 1 T coconut  and 1 T golden raisins. Stir to mix, cover, place in the fridge and in the morning, eat. It is not necessary to cook oats before eating. The Swiss have combined oats with some form of dairy for breakfast for years. They combine raw oats, yogurt and fruit for what the call museli- it's very different from what we find on our supermarket shelves.The mix is very tasty, refreshing and lasts with you for a long time.

Going to be another hot one today , but then storms will roll in and we will be back to late spring temps again. I am hoping to get out and go to the store for some more intense walking with a cart to hang on. Sunday was my first time in a store since November, and it was only a short little trip. I want to look at some clothing options. As odd as it may sound that simple activity may be more than I can physically handle  from a standing/walking position, but I think I can at least try it and see how far I get. During the day there will be more Wii- thank goodness for the Wii for times and situations where the normal forms of exercise are too much !

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Better and better

Monday was back to the exercise grind again, and I discovered two very noticeable improvements. First was that I was able to vacuum the house without my knee feeling like it was going to snap in half. Second improvement was that I was able to walk up and down two stairs. Pain did not stop me from going further, but rather that I could not figure out how to best step with the cane so that I had something secure to grab on in the event that my knee gave out. It is a very weird thing having to retrain your brain in order to do something you learned as a little child ! That is the tricky thing about recovering from injury- or even dealing with an injury. You have to think about how to step so that you do no harm to the body. In the thinking process you can over-think it and bring yourself to the point of fear of movement, and then you have gone too far. Walking that fine line is the trick.

Besides those great strides I did an hour of Wii cycling and Walk it Out as well as taking a gentle 10 minute stroll. For dinner we had some teriyaki marinated salmon fillets that may become my go to salmon recipe- it was that good ! Forgot to snap a picture, but basically you make a teriyaki marinate with brown sugar, soy sauce, olive oil,rice wine vinegar, ginger, sesame seeds and pepper, pour it over the salmon in a baking pan and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hrs , and then grill or pan fry. I pan fried it because I was afraid of the salmon falling apart on the George Foreman grill.

I am wondering how I am going to challenge myself today !

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ice cream taste test

Had a really nice time over the weekend. Got to walk in the woods twice, went shopping once and went out to eat two times. Paid a visit to the area that will hopefully become our future home and spent a lot of time just laughing and catching up. Going out to eat is something that we were doing once a week because of the time crunch with shopping. This time it was just to find very easy ways to get me walking more. Has to be a slow build- too much too soon will cause the muscles to spasm and potentially bring on a fall and re-injury. As much as I would love to do a couple of "push it till you puke" kind of build up sessions, it's just too risky. I ne3ver want to be this house bound for so long ever again !

There are two big hurdles with going dairy free and living the life of the average person- that being cheese and ice cream. When you go out to eat at most places, dishes include cheese more often than not. Cheese shreds on salads, topped with cheese sandwiches or omlettes or some kind of cream sauce. If you are avoiding nightshades, good luck finding a fast food sandwich that does not include tomatoes, tomato sauce or that is accompanied with fries, hash browns or other potato thing. They can be found, but you really have to read the menu carefully. Thankfully I can eat baked things that contain milk( bread or buns) and butter, but that is where it ends. One chain in the Midwest( Culver's) happily has side selections that are dairy free and on the menu. You can get a burger and sweet potato fries or seasoned green beans ( salads contain cheese and cole slaw contains milk so those are out). I decided to risk it Saturday and try a small dish of ice cream, just to see if it really is a problem, and sure enough it is. Sad thought, spending the rest of my life without frozen custard !

Which led to a sort of decadent but purposeful Sunday activity - the non dairy ice cream taste test. There are different times when you just want to have ice cream, and if you cannot eat regular ice cream, you kind of scratch your head. Not so very long ago there were no non dairy ice cream options in the regular stores. If you could not do dairy bu wanted a frozen treat, Popsicles were as good as it gets, or frozen bananas . They came Tofutti and soy milk ice creams , but now there are several new options.Problem is which one do you like the best? We had gone out for breakfast , which was large, and figured lunch would be just a nibble, and some how the subject of ice cream came up. I did not want to repeat the ill affects of Saturday, so a discussion led to the idea of buying one of each non dairy ice cream option, doing a taste test side by side and determining which one we liked the best. Here are the contenders , and the results- keep in mind we are people who tended to prefer gelatto over Ben and Jerry's before this.

Soy Dreams- YUCK !!! Soy ice cream and milk has a weird lemony, vanilla-ish overriding after taste that just makes my stomach flip. I have a problem with soy, so not surprising that I did not like it.

Coconut Dreams- nice taste, but a bit of a grainy mouth feel . The fat coats your mouth, but it seems to clear quicker than full fat dairy, leaving your mouth to say "wow ! ice cream !...wait a minute...". I would ea this one again , but I think it would be best in a chocolate flavor.

Rice Dreams - very pleasant , and very close to regular dairy ice cream in taste and mouth feel. This one was Nick's favorite.

Almond Dreams - my choice for the winner ! There was no difference in texture, taste, smell or flavor to dairy ice cream. I prefer almond milk over soy because the fat in the almonds mimics the fat in dairy nicely. Now if they could start making almond milk cheese ....

Diana's Bananas- the frozen chocolate covered banana on a stick- these I have loved since I was a kid , and if I feel an urge for something sweet, a banana will usually do it for me. Frozen , they work like ice cream because of the mouth feel. The guys were not crazy about these- sensitive teeth and frozen bananas do not mix.

So now we know what our go to frozen fun food will be. Wouldn't it be nice to solve all of the problems in the world in such a simple fashion ??

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weigh in Week 2

I was a little concerned that this week was going to be one of those that made me crazy because I have gotten almost no sleep for 3 nights in a row. Insomnia has become my enemy of late due to some factors with our bedroom furniture. We are going to try to tough this one out until we move, so I am trying to make the best of it for now. Anyway, on to the scale:
Me-   - 3.2 lbs
Bob   -1.2 lbs
Nick     +1.4 lbs
This time we are doing this without counting calories, points, colors, food groups or anything else- just eating real food and making sure there are enough dark greens and almonds to supply the calcium that dairy used to. With Nick , it is going to be a matter of adjusting his snacks. Part of the reason for this is when we began on Weight Watchers, with his level of required daily points he had to snack a couple of times every day  in order to make the program work ( he was at 44 points per day PLUS had the daily activity points as a possibility and the weekly bonus points). He lost over 80 pounds on the program, so it did work for weight loss, but brought in other problems. Like turning him into a snack monster and making some of his Autistic behaviors worse. And being an Autistic, changes in his eating are major, major hurdles. If this was a normal 19 yr old , you could simply explain that the scale will go up if you eat more food than your body needs or other such things. This is not a normal 19 yr old so I have to figure out a strategy to steer him into, while figuring out my own strategy of living without dairy and nightshades and thinking about how to make good, portable, grab and go nutritious options for my husband , who's company is in the end stages of a major change in buisness operations. And bottom line for all is it must be real food. It's not an impossibility, but it sure can get tricky figuring this for 3 !

Plans for today include a short walk , and the first time I have walked into a restaurant since last November. Seems sort of like as exciting as going on a cruise :-)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Change in season: Why salt doesn’t deserve its bad rap | Grist

Think you need to get rid of salt in your diet ? Think again. Salt, like fat, is a necessary component in the human diet for heath. The problem comes in when the food industry starts using chemical mixtures that imitate salt and give consistent( and cheap) results

Change in season: Why salt doesn’t deserve its bad rap | Grist

More moving

It was a more productive day yesterday  exercise wise. Getting excited because I was able to increase the time of actual walking , and do other things

Walking 10 min- YAY- up from 5!
stationary bike 10 min ( and remebered that while pedaling I can read notes or books)
Wii canoeing 25 min - always fun to do this with my son because he thinks it is hysterical to oversteer

And progress was made on another front- we believe we have found the right apartment complex for us and we put in a deposit. First available first floor or disability unit available will be ours ( we have a tentative moving date of Sept 1). First floor access is hard to come by , but something that is becoming more necessary. While I am optimistically working to remove my mobility issues, realistically I must consider that they may be permanent. If we are dependent on an elevator to get in or out of the building, when that elevator goes out I will be trapped in our home.If we are on the first floor and I do fully recover, then it is just a lot easier getting groceries and such in the house. Kind of a hope for the best, plan for the worst thing. The complex has a pool, modest health club( indoor basketball court and a few machines) walking trails and even a little patio do do some container gardening. It's also bigger , and depending on the unit available will have either a second bathroom or a very large closet space ( my hope is for the closet one !) I am crossing my fingers that something may become available a little sooner than September.

Plan for today is to get some exercise in with doing grocery shopping , assigning grades and doing the year end transcript for homeschool. Last day of school today, so it's a lot of loose ends paperwork wise. Hope you have a good one !

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Look ! Books !!!!

Kind of a sidetracked sort of day yesterday. Spent much of it planning  and getting sidetracked by the rediscovery of my own study materials for Energy Medicine. Our homeschool year ends on Friday, and that means mommy can devote lots of time to her own studies for 9 glorious weeks. Moving the materials back to the front shelves in our dining room/school room meant stopping and glancing at the old bookmarks , remembering some of the more difficult points and ways that I was finally able to understand them and more. Good times, but not so good for movement !
Walking 4  min
Wii boxing 5 min ( stopped because Nick hurt his shoulder throwing punches)
Wii cycling 30  min

It was my birthday, and a treat was involved. The good thing about avoiding dairy ( except for in baked goods) is that it kind of shrinks your options. We had some angel food cake topped with sliced strawberries and coconut milk ice cream. It's nice to have some non dairy choices available, but it can be hard finding the best one for you. Coconut milk ice cream has a bit of a grainy texture that makes your mouth say "Ooh ! Ice cream !...WAIT A MINUTE, NO IT'S NOT !". I am going to have to investigate some of the other possibilities.

Very cool day today- should make for a good one !

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beginings, start of a program and other numbers

Starting a program can be an intimidating thing ! You know where you want to be in the end, but discovering exactly where you are at the start reveals not only how far away from your goal you are, but how much work needs to be done. This is the case with my walking program. I want to get back to the point where I can walk for a solid hour, plus be able to walk in my daily activities without pain. It's a modest goal, but from where I am standing right now it feels like I have Mt Everest to climb !

The approach is to listen to my body , as to avoid re -injury or further damage and slowly build. Yesterday was the start, and I was able to get in a whopping 4 minutes of walking. Definitely have a lot of work to do here ! It was not the only exercise that I got in for the day, for these other things help to build up the muscles necessary to accomplishing the walking goal.  It looked like this:
Walking 4 minutes
Wii cycling 30 min ( upper body work- I don't understand why but strengthening my upper body makes the lower hurt less)
Wii Table Tennis 5 min
Yoga 10 min - no new poses added, but greater stability with the poses mastered
Wii Sports basketball 13 min

Today is my birthday. Somehow , when I was not looking I have managed to make 53 trips around the sun. It seems like it was yesterday when I was thinking that 23 was the right age for me to marry, and then kind of getting weird about turning 40 . When did 53 sneak up on me ? I saw Cher on TV not long ago with the announcement that she is 60 now, and I wondered when did that happen as well. Age is a funny thing. As a child you count the days in anticipation of finally being such and such age. Those pass and suddenly you find yourself facing numbers that sound scary an you do a little pause. And then suddenly you start coming up on numbers that sound "substantial". They are like your annual salary or mortgage figures. They are indeed just numbers, but they always seem more influential than numbers involved in simply counting to 10. They are in there, but duplicated and arranged in a way that makes you look twice at them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

Big step for me yesterday ! For the first time since the injury I was able to get out to the woods and walk. Okay, it was simply walk from the car to the bathroom, but a huge step due to different terrain. Walking on grass is still completely out because of the uneven surface and walking on paved sidewalks can get tricky because of cracks and slight differences in heights from square to square. It's something that you never even think about when you are a normal , mobile person, but have that mobility challenged, and it becomes a major issue. My knee and leg still feel  very weak , but growing stronger. We got out to make a run to Goodwill to drop off a donation, then drove to the woods and then around town for a bit. With the sunroof down and the sun shining , it felt like Heaven to get out and soak up some Vitamin D. !It is crazy to think that between walking to the car, walking to the bathroom, and a short stop at the parking lot where I fell and received the injury ( sort of a get back on the horse kind of gesture), I got in about 4 times as much walking than in a normal day now. After we came back home we spent an hour playing Wii bowling, tennis, Rabbids and more. It's not what a normal person would consider to be an "active" weekend, but for us right now it definitely was... and the activity  level will grow !

We had a great salad for dinner- grilled chicken( George Foreman Grill) on top roast veggies and romaine.

Take a bulb of fennel and slice it, one onion, half pound baby bellas , quartered, one zucchini , sliced, a half pound asparagus and one red pepper, chopped. Place them in a zip lock and sprinkle 1/2 t garlic powder, 1/2 t black pepper, 1/2 t dried rosemary and 2 T balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat and spread on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes , or till veggies are tender.

I am going to add a hall walking routine to my exercise this week. I am still feeling a little shaky with the actual walking , and at least walking the halls I have a wall to grab onto if my knee gives out ( which it does on occasion still). Boy...actual walking program and abundant fresh veggies- can the old me be far behind ??

Monday, May 30, 2011

Winner, winner , chicken dinner with a side of the strange.

Dejunking - it's a good thing. Dejunking with your family and not falling into a mindset of "my stuff but their junk", even better ! Time taken to make some major areas stop looking like a goat exploded and allow occupants to access more easily if you plan on exercising that day as well- not such a good thing. Experiencing an all day rain while doing it- an added justification to it all. So we sorted, we weeded, we dusted, we washed, be vacuumed, but no "exercise". In my mind all of this was movement, movement is exercise so it's potato, poTAto...

Sunday dinners of late have meant one thing- brined and roasted whole chicken !!
Have you ever brined a chicken ? If not , it is something you simply must try . Take a whole chicken, make a solution of 1 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar and about a gallon of water ( enough to cover the chicken completely) , place in a container and refrigerate at least 8 hrs. Then remove the chicken, rinse, let it air dry on a rack for 30 minutes and then bake at 350 for 2 hours. This week I also roasted Mr Bird breast side down and it was even better. The chicken seems to be the constant here now, but the sides get mixed up. The two I made this week were nutritious, delicious and something that would not make my body hurt the next day .

 Roast chicken, Garlic linguini with Kale and Zucchini Medley

Garlic Linguine with Kale

  6 cloves  garlic -- crushed ( or garlic powder if you will, to taste)
  1 lb  kale -- stems removed, leaves cut into bite size pieces
  2 tbsp  olive oil
  1 tsp  salt (optional)
 1/4tsp  pepper
3/4 lb  linguine pasta

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add kale and salt. Simmer 1 minute or until kale begins to wilt.
Add pasta. Cook 8-10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. While pasta is cooking, heat oil and garlic
 in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring 2 minutes until heated throughout. Remove from heat.
 Drain pasta and kale. Transfer to serving bowl. Add oil and garlic.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss before serving. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired ( I skipped this for mine- no dairy)

Zucchini Skillet

3 cups  diced sweet potatoes
1/3 cup  bone broth
2 cups  diced zucchini
1 cup  diced red onion
1 cup  frozen corn
1/2 cup  green onion -- sliced
1 red pepper -- diced ( this is a nightshade, but has so much color and flavor I decided to see if I could tolerate it)
1 clove  garlic -- minced
1/4 cup  chopped parsley
1teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon  chili powder

In a covered large skillet, saute the sweet potatoes in water for about 10 minutes.
 Add zucchini, red onions, corn, green onions, red peppers, green peppers, and garlic.
Saute in water until vegetables are tender. Add remaining ingredients and allow flavors
to blend. Serves 6. ( the leftovers will make a nice snack or lunch side)

After the dejunking we were kind of tired out and spent the evening watching some "interesting" tv. TLC, which used to be The Learning Channel, seems to have become "The Looney Channel", featuring just about every strange sub sector of life imaginable.We caught episodes of Extreme Couponing  and debated , then a new series called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, in which the gowns worn are so big and heavy that the women are often left cut and bruised. And I thought wearing narrow toed shoes and underwire bras were bad...this left me just shaking my head. What fun ! Today the sun is out, we have only a handful of must do things, so it promises to be a fun, interesting day .

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Look , mom ! Another way to work out with the Wii !

Yesterday , while making a library run, my husband found a new "exertoy" (exercise toy) to use with the Wii game. Enter Yoga !
I was really excited to give this one a try  ! I have enjoyed the Yoga selections with Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, but they offer a really limited amount of instruction on how to do the poses. Other disadvantage is that you must use the balance board with these, so if you are over 330 lbs or working as a group, this is a limiting thing. With Yoga for Wii you can work without the board, AND several people can follow along at the same time. Kind of becomes an at home yoga class that you can do at your own convenience.  We immediately popped this one in the machine and went through a yoga session as a family. 20 minutes later, with everyone working to their own abilities , but as a group, we determined that this was a must buy game. Even my husband , who has not been as impressed with yoga poses in the past, found this to be a great way to do things. He was left with a feeling of being more himself than he had been all week.

I would recommend this one to anyone who needs a gentle way to work out. It has plenty of cautions with the explanations of how each pose is preformed for a person to make the decision if they should execute that pose or not. There is a training mode ( walks you through the poses of your choice) Routine mode where you can select a sequence of poses for your own yoga workout and a Story Mode which explains the different disciplines of yoga, history of yoga and much more . You can use the Balance Board with this, and it can be helpful to correct errors you are making in your form.

Later that evening we opted to play the silly Rabbids games with the Wii. Dancing, sledding on the back of a beestie, doing a bizarre hygiene regimen with the silly bunnies and more.  It was a lot of laughs, and the best part of it was spending the time together moving without me having to worry about stepping wrong and doing harm to my knee. It's not the Olympics, but it's a far better thing than sitting watching TV or merely clicking a mouse.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weigh in week one

We all weighed in this morning, and I feel very conflicted about  writing a post about it ! Way back in November of 2007 we had one of those lightbulb/lightning strike moments that began a weight loss journey as a family. We began using the Weight Watchers 123 program , lost consistently for a while, and then the scale froze, weird health problems came into play , frustration became the rule of the day and Saturday Mornings became the thing that colored the whole week. Not healthy for mind, body or spirit. We decided to completely stop, simply eat real food, and shortly after that I got hurt, exercise stopped for the whole family and we stopped eating a lot fo fruits and veggies . The reason for this was that I could not make it to the grocery store  myself so I sent the guys with detailed list of what to buy according to the sale flyers. Problem is the sale flyers are TERRIBLE for listing what fresh fruits and veggies they actually carry that week, the guys were trying very hard to not buy too much or two little, and the result was us eating only apples, bananas, frozen blueberries and the 3 main frozen veggies that are always available ( corn, broccoli, green beans). That was where we were. My injury is finally healed, I am as weak as a kitten with no muscle, and it's time to get back to where we need to be. I noticed the guys had gained weight, my bras were getting tight, but I refuse to put us all into the state we were when we pulled the weight loss plug. This time things are going to be very, very different. Monday we debated going back to the practice of weighing in on Saturdays ( after Bob stepped on the Wii and saw what his weight was and I told him what mine was), and I promised that I would not let the scale become the center of the world . The silly thing is , the scale was not making me crazy, but the accountability with blogging and weight loss email groups was the crazy maker. The weight loss journey is not a guaranteed mathematical program with consistent results every week for all people. Many factors come into play with  that journey, and in all cases there are non movement/food related reasons for this. Hormones can affect it. Food reactions can affect it.The body's metabolic response affects it. When you try  and try everything in your power to lose but keep coming up with a stall or gain for unknown reasons, the Blogging Community suddenly becomes very non supportive. I believe it is because the struggle the person is facing makes the reader  examine their very own journey and come face to face with the reader's very own flaw in the ointment. Rather than self correct, it's more comfortable to lash out at another from a computer keyboard.

So I strongly debated not mentioning the scale process at all for this reason. In my own case , the only reason I have to drop the weight is to take pressure off my joints and better manage arthritis. My blood sugar/cholesterol/blood pressure /enzymes are all healthy. Same with my husbands. Obesity is not the cause of health problems , but rather a symptom of problems. Just because a person is overweight does not mean that they are sick. In fact, statistically overweight women have a lower incidence of Osteoporosis, severe menopause symptoms and much more.( the weight makes for constant weight bearing exercise and body fat mimics estrogen). I have no desire to wear a bikini ( prefer a garment you can actually swim in), could care less about fashion or public opinion of my shape. I simply want joints that work right. My husband wants to lose weight because of his annual company wellness screening ( impacts their group insurance plan). With my son, I want him to lose weight because he is at a weight where normal furniture breaks from his weight. So, with this being said, and our reasons, I now report the numbers. Both Bob and I are taking the number we got on the Wii as our starting number. Nick is too heavy for the Wii balance board, so is number is a complete start.
Me- 280   this week 276.8 ( down 3.8)
Bob 290   this week 288.4 ( down 1.6)
Nick  431.2
Nick's number is confusing at best. When we began last time, the number we estimated that he began at was 420. He was 15 yrs old and had no muscle definition. Now he is 19, has muscle definition and has gone through a time of serious physical muscle development. Consider the growth of an average boy between the ages of 15 and 19 , and determine what is muscle, what is bone and what is fat. He has grown 3 inches as well, so I am not sure what the real deal is. I do believe that he must lose weight  though, if nothing else to stop breaking beds and chairs !

So there you have it. Our start this time . Let the show begin !

Friday, May 27, 2011

Salad creative

In spite of the cold , damp creaking weather of yesterday, I achieved another level in activity. I combined all of the yoga poses that I could successfully do, added Standing Palm Tree, and was able to do a 10 minute session of yoga. Later I did 3 minutes of boxing and 25 minutes of canoeing with the Wii Sports Resort.  It was more than I had hoped for , considering the conditions of the day and my decision to avoid pain medications. For some reason , either the new Yoga pose, the length of yoga work or the condition of the day , afterwords my knee was feeling very compromised and weak. This morning it is still very "dodgy", so it is going to be a day of strict upper body type work.

It was the day before any grocery shopping, and the dinner plan included a salad. However, I miscalculated our produce needs the week before, so I was left with romaine, a sweet potato, some nuts and the need for creativity . From this was born the following salad :
   Take the sweet potato, cube it, sprinkle with cinnamon and roast at 350 for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop some pecans, toss in a frying pan and heat to roast . Place lettuce in a bowl, slice an apple to place on the lettuce and add the roasted sweet potatoes and warmed nuts. Very yummy  ! We had this with cold boiled shrimp, the leftover mango black bean salsa and some blue corn tortilla chips. Very colorful  , and a lot of good nutrition in this meal.

Any plans your your weekend ? For us we have commitments on Saturday and Sunday that keep us home. However if the weather holds , on Monday we are going to make it back down to the cemetery to visit the family graves and pay respects. I am seeing these people in a whole different light since my adventure with Ancestry this winter. Hard to find the words to describe those changes, but it's a good one.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Boxing is fun ! Even better with my son !

Every day there is more progress, and with every improvement I get excited !  Each new accomplishment brings me closed to the old me, and even closer to the me that used to do daredevil things ( and pay for it with many injuries). It's kind of like opening presents on Christmas morning - "wow , knee ! Thanks for this .....- I really wanted one !!!" I intended to attempt The Warrior one pose, and I did it ! It did move from muscle strain hurt to feeling like it was too much for my knee to handle after a couple of repetitions, so I stopped. However, that was not all that I did for the day:

4x Warrior 1 pose to the count of 10 ( first since injury)
2x Downward Dog to the count 10 ( improved from 1x to count of 3)
10x Bridge pose held to count of 10 ( improved from 5x)
18 min Wii boxing- never underestimate how much of a sweat you'll get with this "toy"
30 min Walk it out- again never underestimate the sweat value with this one
15 min Bowling

The boxing came about with complete spontaneity. Nick and I were getting ready to exercise and we came across the original Wii Sports game, and a lightbulb went off. This game has boxing , and I remembered seeing one of the male contestants this past season doing a kind of seated shadow boxing as part of his workout when he was still quite heavy. He was breaking a sweat, and I decided that I would give this a whirl to see how it felt. Let me say, there is something hysterically fun about shadowboxing against your teenage son in a game ! We both laughed, got very sweaty and had a lot of fun . I forsee a lot more of this in the future  for us.
Dinner was a new  recipe that had me drooling with the thought of the colors that this would paint on the plate- Salmon with Black Bean Mango Salsa (  no tomatoes , so nightshade free)

I served it on brown rice cooked in bone broth and had a tossed salad on the side. A very fresh tasting, arthritis friendly meal that needs a little help with the seasonings- the veggies in this one are kind of bland, so it is not as flavorful as the name sounds.Tomatoes and peppers would help, but both are out for me because they are nightshades. With the salmon I cooked it in a pan with coconut oil ( lauric acid in this is very good for your body) and a little salt and pepper . Lay it on the rice and top with the salsa

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 fresh mango cut into 3/4-inch cubes
half a bag of frozen corn
1/4 cup  chopped onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine beans, mango, corn, onion and cilantro in a medium bowl. Stir in lime juice and garlic .

It's a very cold, very wet day here today , and my biggest goal is to get in some kind of movement and avoid pain medication. Before the diet change and gentle movements , days like this would find me grabbing the Aleve or Motrin just to be able to get out of bed. That worried me greatly because long term use of those medications can be very bad for your overall health. Improvement is that I can move at all on such a day, and will probably improve as I go on. We have also decided to step on the real scale this Saturday morning to see where we are. Both Bob and I are going to use the number we first got on the Wii as our number for last week, and see what the real scale says. Mister Wii Fit has suddenly failed to recognize the weight of anything, so we cannot use that game or see what , if any, scale progress is happening. Nick and I even attempted to weigh a 5 lb bag of flour, and it could not find it. 
Have a great day !

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cod Packets

Food can make a big difference in the way you feel and the way your body preforms. Certain foods can actually benefit people with different conditions. For those with arthritis, one of the beneficial foods is fish, and oily fish like salmon, tuna and trout are preferred. Non oily fish is also beneficial, and mild flavored fish are a very good way to start consuming fish.

There is cause for concern when choosing fish today. Farm raised salmon is often contaminated with harmful substances, tuna has been found to contain unsafe levels of Mercury, tilapia  shown to be not safe recently , and there is always a danger of eating a fish from warm waters that has consumed red algae ( making the fish  neurotic). Out of all the fish in the ocean, those that are larger and inhabiting cold waters are safest it seems. This would include Atlantic Cod and Halibut. Both have a very mild  flavor, but Cod seems to be the easiest to come by. My new regimen is to eat fish three times a week and red meat only once, and so I have been investigating fish recipes that are healthy , easy and family friendly . Last night was one of our current favorites- Foil Packed Cod with lemon, bay and dill.

To make this dish you will need a cod fillet per person, two or three bay leaves( fresh is nicest if you can find it), three slices of lemon, two teaspoons of butter ( why I can eat butter with no problem but not milk or yogurt is a total mystery to me), salt , pepper , dried dill and some aluminum foil. Take a piece of foil about 20 inches long, and in the center place the lemon slices, bay leaf, fillet,butter slices and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried dill.
Sort of like making a sandwich, or a stack of something .

Then grab the long sides, fold the edges together tightly, twist/crimp the ends together and place on a cookie sheet ( better if it is extremely well worn and begging to be replaced. Why better ? it indicates it has been a good friend in your kitchen and has not let you down !)

Place in a 425 oven for 25 minutes- or 30 minutes if you forget how quickly fish cooks in a foil back and for a minute think you are cooking a very thin chicken breast. When done, open the packet slowly, away from your face to avoid steam burns. I served it with quinoa- another favorite grain in this house. Quinoa is high in protien, low in gluten and comes out soft, slightly chewy and looking like tiny Saturn balls on your plate

We also had a big tossed salad with this , filled with joint and body friendly foods- romaine, cucumbers, sliced almonds,sliced mushrooms, jicama and avacado. Made for a yummy dinner !
This morning I am feeling confident about trying to add one yoga position to my routine- The Warrior. I have been hesitant because it can be stressful on your knees, but I think if I approach it slow and gentle, I can do it. It's a great pose to build up your thigh muscles and hips which will help me in recovery.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Progress step one

Interesting- for some reason I was not able to get into my Blogger account all morning. Different automatic program updates sometime play havoc with existing programs, and it is always interesting to sort out the aftermath. All is well, mischief managed and onward !

I had a small indicator of progress today. For the first time, I was able to get on the Wii balance board all by myself- okay, with the aid of my cane , but not with a spotter. One thing that I have been severely challenged to do since the fall is to climb any kind of stair, curb or even step over a pencil on the ground. It has to do with the way your foot comes in contact with a surface when you step down. For that matter I still cannot walk in shoes because of the way they place pressure on my knee when I step.( I have a pair of Deerfoam ballet sort of slippers that I wear). These factors have made life really challenging for some things , to say the least. With doing yoga, Qi Gong and other gentle exercise the joint is getting stronger and more flexible, and today it felt strong enough to climb up that gargantuan 3 inch step. Mister Wii rewarded me by saying I was wiggling and made me get on and off 10 times before it could "find" me. That  amount of "climbing" hurt, but I did it and things seem no worse for wear because of it. Picture a middle aged woman , climbing a tiny step , holding white knuckled to a cane all the while . Wonder if this is similar to the scene with the mountaineer explorers in the past ??

I was also able to add a modified variation of another yoga move- the Single Leg Spinal Twist.

The idea with this one is to attempt to turn your body into a Twizzler stick :-) In the beginning, you bring your bent leg as close to the ground as possible without pain, lay the opposite arm as flat as possible in the other direction and breath deeply. It stretches your spine and opens up your lungs , while working on flexibly in your hips. I started this one, thought of those cartoons where the character is wrung out like a dishrag and could not stop laughing ! Yes, I am easily amused sometimes.

Today a 3 inch step...can actual stairs be far behind ???

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bridges, cobras and discovering their worth

Cleaning mission accomplished yesterday. I man sound odd, but a freshly cleaned, organized space is like getting a great big breath of fresh air and a whole new perspective . It feels so settling and renewing ! When a room is freshly cleaned, I feel like I have been handed a new start. When that room is my own bedroom, it feels even better.

We spent the whole afternoon sifting, cleaning and organizing, then enjoyed a brined roast chicken for dinner. Have you ever brined meat ? It is a simple way to turn a good thing into something amazing. You place your meat ( poultry or pork- beef does not work so well) in a solution of kosher salt and sugar for 8 hrs and then cook. The salt helps the protein molecules take on more moisture, and the result is a moist, tasty meat. If it is a whole chicken for a small family, it makes an incredible way to stretch your food dollar. Yummy roast chicken for one meal , leftover meat can make 3 meals( chicken salad for 2 says in our case ) and then the bones , combined with some carrots, onions, celery and water with a small amount of vinegar makes for a large bot of chicken bone broth to be used for soup, cooking grains  or simply to drink on its own.It's a meal worth considering in these tight times.

After dinner we watched some mindless TV and I got inspired to try to do my Qi Gong exercises and attempt to do a very light session of yoga. Certain postures make me very nervous right now due to the stress they could put on my knee ( such as The Warrior), but others like The Bridge, The Cobra and Downward Dog seemed like a good idea. Very gentle but affective stretches. I tried the Bridge first, and was amazed at how tight and stressed my thighs and calves felt !This pose really works your thighs and calves, and I never realized to what degree before.
Instantly I got the beginning of a Charley Horse in the thigh of the injured leg ! I stopped, massaged it, stretches a little and then tried again. I was able to do about 5 of these, holding for the count of ten. I did not want to push it incase I experienced a backlash in the morning. With Yoga , the idea is to work muscles in one direction, then the opposite  and so I did the reverse with something I felt I could safely do - The Cobra
This felt AMAZING on my spine and hips !It opens up your chest and seems to give your kidneys a great big hug while massaging your digestive tract. I wanted to just stay there in that pose for hours, but forced myself to repeat the same duration and repetitions as I did for The Bridge. I realized that this was not completely the reverse motion, do I attempted one of my former favorite poses , Downward Dog
This one was very shaky feeling on my knee, and at about the count of three I felt a not so productive pain in my injured knee, so I stopped. I considered doing this pose to the count of three to be my starting point, and I will try again in a day or two. You can feel this one elongating the backs of your thighs and hamstrings while stretching out the muscle in your lower back.

I feel really good about the overall progress ! I have gone from completely sedentary and stiff to beginning moving, a little less stiff and energized in a week . It's only going to get better from here.