Five Consumer Favorites

We are living in a material world, and I (apparently), am a material girl, because I really like . . .

1. Consumer Reports magazine:  I’ve been reading this since I was a kid.  Before each of our car purchases as a married couple, I made Pat join me on a research trip to the library, to scour all the Consumer Reports used car guides.  (Short version: go with Honda or Toyota.)  I also scoured CR before purchasing our home (a foreclosure, sans appliances).  CR failed me on its dishwasher and washing machine recommendations.  Still, I can’t resist seeking out their advice before any major purchase! . . . Yet I’m too cheap to ever buy a subscription!  That really makes no sense, because I read this
stuff for fun.

2. Simcha’s post about why skirts and dresses are just not so cool and comfortable for those of us on the voluptuous side. (Simcha says meaty; I say voluptuous.)  I think this issue was a subconscious reason I postponed jumping on the maxi dress trend for so long.  And I preferred skorts to regular skirts.  But just today I found these (only $12 at Target), and things are looking up.  Or at least, looking, uh, less friction-filled.

3. Speaking of lingerie found at Target, I like this Maidenform slimmer. I wouldn’t mind a bit more compression in the tummy area, but it smoothes all over like a dream (“suddenly skinny!” is promising a bit much though).  I haven’t tried another brand, so I can’t compare, but it’s cheaper than even the Target line of Spanx.  It’s not exactly comfortable enough for all-day wear, but for an evening, it’s fine.  And the gusset works.

4. Stitch Fix people: Thank you Debbie R., Jaime M., Nicola W. and Laura T. (are you the Laura T. who is my cousin-in-law?), all of whom have ordered Stitch Fixes through my referral link, leading to a nice sum of credit in my SF account.  I really hope your SF works for you!  I see now why SF is so popular on blogs.  My blog is fairly small potatoes, but after just one post on the subject, I got four people who ordered through my link (and several more who have signed up but not yet ordered).  I’m guessing much more popular bloggers like, say, Anne Bogel or Emily Freeman get enough SF credit that they never have to pay for clothes!

5. Floradix: On a totally unrelated note–Floradix makes your hair grow!  It did mine, anyway.  A year or so ago, I was losing a postpartum-like quantity of hair, even though my baby was two.  I did some Googling and saw that iron might help.  I’ve always been slightly anemic, but I haven’t been vigilant about taking iron except during pregnancy.  Well, I started taking Floradix on the reg (the equivalent of 10-20 mg of iron a day), and the scary hair loss stopped almost instantly.  I now have annoying little hairs sticking up around my hairline, but that’s new hair, and I’ll take it. Probably any iron supplement would work but Floradix is the only one that doesn’t . . . um . . . clog up my innards.

How many embarrassing things have I discussed so far?  I don’t want to count.  Click over to Rachel‘s blog for much nicer Five Favorite posts.

IMG_8244

or you could just take a nap.

Advertisements

What Worked in 2014

Better late than never, I’ve been thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me in 2014.

What worked

Lexapro: I don’t know why I need to take an anti-depressant.  I’m not depressed.  It’s anxiety, I guess although for me it manifests as irritability.

Anyway, 2014 was the most peaceful year I can remember, and I’m thinking it was a chemically-induced peace.  During the homily on New Year’s day, the priest talked about how all peace comes from God.  Sometimes God even works through big, bad pharma.

Floradix: I’m mildly anemic and notice a big drop in energy when I don’t take this liquid iron supplement regularly.

What didn’t work:

Cow brain supplements (i.e., bovine pituitary gland pills): “prescribed” for me by my witch doctor by way of pressing down on my arm, these made me feel crazily irritable.  It didn’t help that I tried to wean off Lexapro at the same time (another thing that didn’t work), but even once I got back on Lexapro, these continued to make me feel irritable.  Maybe I didn’t give them a fair chance, but I’m not going back.

bitch mode

What worked:

Magnificat magazine.  I resisted subscribing to this for years because of the expense and because I already own a breviary.  Silly Laura.

Audiobooks: for the girls, mostly rented for free through a library consortium.  We are loving the Ramona series.  And Frog and Toad, read by the author, is a delight.

Chiropractic/massage: My back is the best it’s been in a long time.  It starts getting out of whack again when I don’t exercise for a while though, which brings up–

BodyFlow: I love this exercise class.  I only make it once a week and that’s only if we aren’t sick.  But it’s the perfect combination of stretching, relaxation, and strengthening.

Fabulous Forever: It’s a stretching DVD for old people, and I love it.  It feels great.

What didn’t work:

Pilates at Gold’s Gym: Hurt my back no matter how carefully I modified.

T-Tapp: A little more on that here

What worked:

Paper plates: I meant to add this to my goals post–I hereby resolve to eat more often off of paper plates!  Better to eat healthy food off of paper plates than convenience food off of fine china!

What didn’t work:

Red food dye: Girl 1 had three rough weeks at school in November, after doing really well for the first two months.  The only thing I could think of that had changed in her routine was that I had given her over the counter cough medicines regularly, and those medicines all have red dye in them.  We cut out the dye and, upon her return to school after Thanksgiving break, her behavior greatly improved.  We’re avoiding artificial food dyes now.

Every diet I “tried”:

The Christian ideal diet has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried [for more than two weeks].”

G.K. Chesterton, ed. by me

  • The No-S Diet: Ha!  Yeah, no.
  •  Calorie counting using My Fitness Pal–There was a time when I could lose weight just by keeping my daily calories under 2,000.  Not anymore.

  • Weight Watchers–I started off on their “Simply Filling” program and found myself pigging out on low-fat microwave popcorn, sugar-free jello, Weight Watchers brand shakes, and fat-free everything.  A low point was when I tried fat-free ricotta cheese.  It’s an abomination.  The alternative to the Healthy Start is the traditional point-counting method, but I didn’t feel like paying for what is basically counting calories plus weekly meetings I didn’t enjoy.
  • Thin Within–a prayer/ positive thinking method of eating only when you are hungry.  It makes sense, it really does.  And it’s still my goal.  But food has too much of a hold on me for this method to work on its own.  A dilemma I run into is trying to eating slowly and mindfully when sharing a meal with the two resident barbarians of the house.  Eating with them is stressful in itself, but it doesn’t work to eat separately from them for each meal.  So.

We’re back to Perfect Health Diet, which I went on initially because food has such a hold on me.  It’s not a panacea but it worked better than anything else I’ve tried.  Also, Pat wants to go back on it.  So here we go again.

And the barbarians are waking so I need to end this abruptly.

What worked and didn’t work for you in 2014?

7 Quick Takes About Sugar, Hormones, Laziness, Etc.

1.Thank God for dirty dishes/

they have a tale to tell/

while others may go hungry/

we’re eating very well.

Thank God for dirty dishes

i saw that this week’s theme Thursday was “dishes,” and it reminded me of this little poem. its been on a magnet in my gramma’s kitchen for as long as I can remember.

2.  This book might just hold the solution to every problem I’ve ever had.

image

At the least, it describes just about every problem I’ve ever had. I’ll report back on the results.

(Okay, my problems are not necessarily the exact four issues mentioned on the book cover.  Hormones affect everything and she discusses a lot of issues.  Sheesh.  Get your mind out of the gutter.)

3.  apparently one solution to my problems is to cut out sugar. Surprise surprise.

4. Speaking of sugar, someone in my household had a weak moment at the grocery store and bought this:

image

i also happen to know that certain someone was the only one to consume said product. Yet said product was depleted in five days, meaning someone in my household consumed …1,120 calories of the stuff at the rate of 224 kal per day.

5. Yes, my diet‘s going just fine. . .  .  Whyever would you ask?  Nosy.

6.  Girl 2 selected her outfit yesterday, as per usual.

image

Whereas mine stem from hormones, all of Girl 2’s problems stem from being stuck.  Stuck in her booster seat, stuck with two legs in one pants leg, stuck with her toe in a shoe.  So she often shouts out,

Oh guck!  Guck guck guck.

7.  I’m really enjoying Maia’s series on the “lazy moms guide to reading out loud to your kids.”   inspired in part by this, i started reading Little House In the Big Woods to Girl1. Big success!  The girls also have been listening to audio books a lot lately. More on all this later… once I cut out sugar and get the energy to write something substantial.

Happy weekend!  Linking up with Jen for 7 quick takes and Cari for theme Thursday (a day late).

Perfect Health Diet: The Results Are In, Part II

Why We’re No Longer Going Gluten-free

Short version: Some improvements.  Not a panacea.  Not following it closely this year.  (You can read part 1 of this post here.)

Long version:

I want to preface this by very clearly stating that we did not follow the diet exactly, or even close to exactly.  

We started out being “good” even when eating out or eating at other people’s houses.  But that fell by the wayside real fast.  And even when eating at home, we had some weeks where we fell off the wagon completely.

But for the most part, I followed the Perfect Health Diet for the meals and snacks I prepared at home for Pat and me, which make up 80- 90% of our food consumption every week.

My main reason for trying this in the first place was to help tame my sugar cravings and food addiction tendencies.

  • Result: Improved.
    • Not surprisingly, the less I eat sugar and processed foods, the less I crave them.  But the problem has not gone away completely, not by a long shot.
    • If I eat balanced meals (protein and carbs), I experience fewer cravings.
      • Not enough protein –> hungry between meals;
      • Not enough carbohydrate –> sugar cravings between meals.
    • I did seem to experience less hunger and fewer cravings when taking all the supplements that the PHD recommends, but I haven’t been doing this long or consistently enough to tell for sure.  Taking all the supplements recommended–plus a few that I’ve added for various reasons–is just too much for me to keep up.
This isn't even all of them.

This isn’t even all of them.

  • Energy/ overall sense of wellbeing: Honestly, not a huge difference.
  • Weight: Pat lost ~ 12 pounds but has started to gain it back.  I did not lose any.

  • Plan going forward: Keep following most of the general principles but not the Perfect Health Diet per se, particularly, because . . .

We’re just not gluten intolerant.

(Double negatives . . . hmmm. “We’re gluten tolerant.”  Is that better?)

We eat a lot of meat and rice and potatoes and vegetables, and that’s all well and good.  But often enough I made pizza or pancakes or pasta or muffins, and used gluten-free ingredients for them.  This requires additional expense and effort.  I found myself thinking, “Why am I bothering with this when we tolerate gluten just fine?”  I can’t come up with a good enough answer here.

(For a while I thought Girl 2’s eczema was caused my wheat, but I’ve since concluded that it isn’t.  Also, Pat’s weight loss seemed possibly due to cutting out gluten.  But given that he shows no other signs of gluten intolerance, I’m not so sure.)

The Perfect Health Diet book is insistent that all grains and legumes, other than rice and a few less common ones, are bad for all of us, in general.  I found this one of the least convincing sections.  But then, I don’t have a scientific background, nor did I do much additional research on the issue.

Regardless, it’s a lot of effort to avoid grains without a specific health problem as motivation.  Going forward, I’m going to direct my energies elsewhere.

I want to keep up the following:

  • Avoiding processed sugar as much as possible, and using honey, maple syrup, etc. only sparingly.
  • Avoiding processed foods (chips, crackers, breakfast cereal, etc.)
  • Avoiding vegetable oils (corn, soybean, etc.) and instead using butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.
  • Keeping most of our meals meat-and-vegetable based, and not making many meals based on pasta, bread, or other grains.
  • Continuing to take supplements, but just the ones that most directly address my specific nutritional needs/concerns, rather the full panoply recommended by the PHD.

This past year brought into focus one issue very clearly: my food issues (and mood and energy levels and  overall well-being) are influenced very strongly by hormones.  I can be “good” for several weeks and then it comes to be that time of the month before that other time of the month and *bam*

eat-all-the-things

So my priority for the coming year is to address this issue, and I’ll be blogging about it more in the coming weeks.

Five Favorites For Which I Am Thankful

In the spirit of tomorrow’s holiday, here are some things I’m especially thankful for right now, in no particular order:

1. Good health!  We’re several months into the school year, and the girls have not yet had a serious illness.  This is a HUGE improvement over last year.  I’ve been giving them daily Vitamin C and probiotic supplements.  (I’ve tried colostrum powder, but the girls are princess-and-the-pea like and can detect it in their milk.  Also I’d like to try cod liver oil, but I’m not optimistic about how that will play out.)  Maybe the supplements have something to do with it, maybe we’ve just built up immunity.  Who knows?  But I am very thankful.

2. Girl 1’s imagination: it has taken off during the past six months.  She entertains herself for hours at a time, which is a complete change from the previous four years of her life, during which time pestering me was her primary occupation.  Plus, Girl 2 generally wants to tag along and do whatever her big sister does.  So, BOTH girls can be occupied for long stretches of time with only occasional refereeing needed by me.  Thank you thank you thank you God!

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

3. Pat’s new job: He’s been at his current job for about six months now, and it allows him to work from home.  We both love the situation, and he really enjoys his work.  What a blessing.  

4. My family: my in-laws, who live in town, and who are so so good to us, and my parents, who live far far away but who visit frequently.  We’ll be enjoying their company as you read this.

freedom_from_want-large

5. Speaking of your reading this: you, yes you, reading this!  Thank you for reading my blog!  I really appreciate it.  I started this on a whim, thinking it would be satisfying to share my thoughts with the world.  And it has been!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bonus #6: Hallie at Moxie Wife and her weekly Five Favorites link up.  Thanks for keeping us looking on the bright side of life every week, Hallie!  (**Update: just realized there’s no linkup this week, but I’m still thankful for all the weeks when there is!)

Health & Nutrition: Whom To Trust?

I unwittingly mentioned to Girl 2’s allergist that Pat and I don’t eat gluten.  She looked at me like I had two heads.

“That is a 4 billion dollar industry,” she said accusingly, implying that I had fallen for the hype.  (“And wheat is probably a 400 billion dollar industry,” I wanted to retort, but didn’t.)   I mentioned that my husband has lost weight this way.  “Well yes,” she cut in, “cutting out gluten reduces calories.”

Well, what I meant was, he’s lost weight without any discernable reduction in overall calories.  I know that cutting out gluten-containing foods, without making up for the lost calories elsewhere, would cause weight loss.

Apparently I had my “STUPID” sign on my forehead that day, because that’s how she was treating me.

But I really don’t care what she thinks and I didn’t want to discuss Pat’s and my diet, anyway.  We were there for allergy testing for Girl 2.  (She came back “very slightly positive” for a multitude of foods, including chicken.  Chicken!  Who’s allergic to chicken??  The doc said not to treat the results as true positives and to keep feeding her as normal.  Clear as mud, as my dad likes to say.)

But the conversation got me thinking about this Perfect Health Diet experiment we’ve been on, and other alternative nutrition/ natural remedy type things I’ve been trying.  If you read enough from that non-mainstream point of view, you start thinking it’s normal.   Then, *bam* mainstream hits you in the face.

I’ve always been more of a mainstream kind of gal, when it comes to health and nutrition.  So how did I jump on this crazy train, anyway?

I guess my point of departure was the sugar craving and overeating problem I’ve had for forever.  Jennifer’s experience was so positive, it seemed worth a try.  And the Perfect Health Diet book and related nutrition authorities like Weston A. Price, etc. seem to make sense.  They address issues that mainstream nutrition authorities leave unanswered.

For instance, humanity has been eating eggs for millions of years, until we “discovered” in the 1980s (or whenever it was)

Butter and a butter knife

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that they’re bad for you.  Then we “discovered” in the 2000s that they’re good for us after all.  Or trans fat: decades ago the common belief was that margarine and other partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were healthier than butter and lard.  Now, it turns out, the trans fat contained in those items is really bad and we were better off with butter and lard.

Maybe it makes sense to just eat eggs.  And cream, and butter, and steak.  Americans started getting so obese after we were told to stop eating this stuff that people have eaten for forever.  (Of course, people have been eating wheat for a heckuva long time, too, which is why I’m not a firm believer . . . yet . . . in the anti-gluten aspect of our diet.)

Not being a scientist, though, I feel like either “side,” so to speak, could be pulling the wool over my eyes.  For example, Perfect Health Diet et al. speak of the “lipid hypothesis.”   They pretty convincingly argue that the supposed connection between saturated fat and heart disease (and related ailments) is unfounded.  But I feel like the mainstreamers, the proponents of the “lipid hypothesis,” could argue just as convincingly (like this, perhaps).  I’ve yet to see a good side-by-side comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each position.

Scientific data are so easily manipulated to support one position or another.  Scientific studies themselves only prove so much.  And I have neither the ability nor the patience to read the scholarly literature myself.  So most of us read a few books or articles written for laymen (“secondary sources,” if you will), and decide to toss our hat into one ring or another.

And as I buy gluten-free products for my family–none of whom has a discernible sensitivity to gluten–and toss back gaggingly large handful of supplements every day . . . I start to second guess tossing my hat into the non-mainstream ring.

IMG_4612

Or course, a lot of what we’re doing (or at least trying to do), is what everyone agrees is healthier: avoiding processed foods, avoiding sugar, eating more vegetables.  But choosing coconut oil over canola?  Ribeye steak over chicken breast?  White potatoes over whole wheat?  Cream over skim milk?  Sometimes it feels right to me, sometimes it doesn’t.  And with different authorities saying different things, all I’m really left to go by is my gut instinct.

For now my gut tells me, “So far, so good.”  I haven’t seen any drastic improvement in my health.  But Pat’s lost weight, and my sugar/ food issues are better, if not gone.  I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but soon we’ll schedule our yearly physicals.  Depending on how our blood work looks, we’ll reassess.

Until then . . . I’m enjoying all the butter.  😉

I Say M&Ms, You Say Scrambled Eggs: M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs! M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs!

. . . And Calf Liver and  . . . Epsom Salt Baths

I’m finally reading the second edition of Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”).   I’m particularly intrigued by their advice on nutritional supplements.  Apparently deficiencies in copper, zinc, and magnesium are quite common, even for those following a healthy diet.  You know what contains all of those nutrients?  Chocolate.  You know what I crave almost all the time?  Chocolate.  Hmmm.

Dark chocolate also contains iron, which I might be deficient in also.  I’ve started taking Floradix.  It’s too early to tell for sure, but I think it’s improved my energy levels.  PHD warns against iron supplements . . .  except for menstruating women.  Well, guess what I am?  And guess what I crave at those particular times of the month?  Hmmm.

I must admit I tried to follow the PHD supplement recommendations early on, but I quickly tired of taking so many pills, especially as I have to stagger them throughout the day to avoid stomach ache.   According to PHD, it’s basically impossible to get enough copper unless you eat liver every week, or possibly a LOT of chocolate.  I just cannot do organ meat.  Not. Going. There.  And chocolate prices are on the rise.  So, supplementation it is!

Problem is, sometimes M&Ms call out my name like you would not believe.  The dark, more bitter stuff just doesn’t compete.  PHD mentions that cravings for sweets often indicate a need for protein.  I have noticed that if I’m craving sweets but eat protein instead, the cravings go away.  The hard part is force myself to eat protein instead of the sweets.

So, I’m hoping not be undone by M&Ms (or chocolate peanut butter) so much in the future.  Next time the cravings hit, I’ll quickly down some scrambled eggs, with a chaser of dark chocolate, and then jump in an Epsom salt bath for some extra magnesium-y oomph.

We’ll see . . . .

Reading PHD again also reminded me that I should be eating less chicken and more beef  . . . or lamb or goat or liver so . . . beef it is!  Here’s my menu plan for the coming week, with an extra helping of beef.  I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday (better late than never):

Melt-in-your-mouth parmesan chicken breasts

  • Lunches: Leftovers, salads, and um, leftovers.  Oh, and plain yogurt with frozen blueberries.  Pat eats rice cakes with cheese a lot.
  • Dinners:

Monday: Paleo crockpot beef brisket (Really tasty and easy; I use chuck)

Tuesday:  Pan-fried salmon with rice and green beans

 

Wednesday: Yummy Baked Thingy (ground beef casserole)

Thursday:  Tilapia with spinach and tomatoes baked in foil

Friday: Shrimp stir-fry with rice noodles

Saturday: Parmesan chicken (using Greek yogurt instead of mayo)

Sunday: Crock-pot lime beef stew (trying out a new recipe)

Have a delicious week!