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?

What I’m Into–September

1.  Arts and crafts: I’m not into them at all.  At all.  But Girl 1 is.  So now I am too, and Girl 2 as well.  Our fireplace is covered with paper napkin snowflakes.  Today they’ve moved on to Halloween decorations.


2. Thin Within:  Weight Watchers is out, Thin Within is in.  I can eat whatever I want, and I never have to be hungry, and I’m still (slowly) losing weight.  The catch?  I can only eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I’m just barely full.  So hard, but exactly what I needed to work on.  Kind of like Geneen Roth but from a Christian perspective.

3. I haven’t been reading much else lately, recovering from my book binges of the last few months.  Our book club is reading  Incidents In the Life of A Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs, so I’ll start that soon.  I know it’s super sad, so it’s taking me a while to get the nerve to dive in

4. Movies: I’ve watched a lot of movies, the main criteria being finding it for free on Amazon Prime or at the library.

Footloose: Continuing my 80s kick.  I’m finishing it as I type this.  Looking forward to a big dance finale at the end.  I should spend more of my life dancing.

10 Things I Hate About You: Funny watch this movie about high school seniors, which came out when I was a high school senior.  Now I get what the fuss about Heath Ledger was about.  That and why all the kids kept singing, “You’re Just Too Good To Be True” over and over again on the bus to World Youth Day 2002.

The Prince and Me: Slight Julia Stiles kick here.  (Round-faced girls of the world, unite!)  This was cute enough but I got bored and fast-forwarded to the end.

Hope Springs: Another movie starring Meryl Streep as the long-suffering wife of a jerk.  Only in this one the guy comes around.

High Fidelity: Waste of time, tho Jack Black is pretty funny.

High Spirits: Watched this on fast-forward the whole way through.  (Don’t ask.)  Thus, a slightly lesser waste of time.

Rounders: About poker.  Entertaining enough.

Moonstruck: Sweet, despite Nicholas Cage.  Why don’t they make rom coms like this anymore?

Big Wedding: Just awful

Next up: Moms Night Out, on Jennifer Scott’s recommendation.

5. Pandora: This was a big thing ten years ago?  More?  But it’s still the only way I listen to music.  I’ve put together what (I must admit) is an easy listening station.  Most of the songs are from before I as born.  But they put Adele on there so that’s something right?

Be careful if you “like” Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen because they will play every single damn one of the 234354353 covers every musician and his uncle has made of it.

I never get tired of hearing this song:

6. Consignment Sales: For the first time, I sold some stuff at one of those biannual kids’ consignment sales.  Between it and a pre-sale that a friend hosted, I net about $40.  I spent $47.  So . . . worth it?  I dunno.  It’s a lot of work for the return it brought.

It’s nice to have all that stuff out of my house, and have something to show for it (namely . . . more stuff, but newer stuff that I wanted . . . I think).  The things I sold would go for little to nothing on eBay and probably wouldn’t do well at the local consignment store, either.

I read a blog post by a woman who supposedly makes thousands of dollars selling at these things, and I have a lot of trouble believing it.

Still, there’s something satisfying about it.  I just like buying and selling stuff.

7. The search for a signature scent, or at least something new: the hunt continues.

8. I’m still obsessed with Myers Briggs.  I compulsively try to guess the MBTI type of everyone I know.  Pretty sure Girl 1 is ENFP.  I was reading the description of that type last night and though, “Aha!  That explains a lot.”  Maybe it’s dangerous to categorize a kid so early.  But it’s healthy, I think, to think about how certain traits might be part of her personality that need to be worked around, not rooted out.

. . . Linking up with Leigh Kramer.  Thanks Leigh!  (Also, possibly with Jen for Seven Quick Takes at a later date.)

5 Favorite Things About Gaining 20 Pounds

(When you aren’t underweight to begin with)


1. Perspective: Over a year ago, I thought I wanted to lose weight.  Now, I want to take my self of 20 pounds ago and give her a gentle shake on the shoulders.  “Hey hot stuff, what are you talking about?”  Then, I’d lick my finger, touch it to my old self, and go “tssssss.”  Hawt.


2. Economy: Haven’t been tempted to go clothes shopping in months.  Well, until this week.  When I bought fat clothes.

3. More perspective: Not all my problems are caused by excess weight!  I have more on my gut than ever before, and yet my lower back feels better than it has in a long long time.  Not because of the extra weight, I’m sure, but despite it.  Just due to the passage of time.

4. Um . . . hmm.  The first few hours of a new diet are always exciting.

5. Uh.  Well. . . . Nope, that’s all I’ve got.

The Mental Health Diet

and how it made me fat:

I treat my body like a temple/ 

You treat yours like a tent.

Jimmy Buffet

I’ve definitely been in the “tent” camp lately.  (Get it?  Tent?  Camp?  Yuk yuk.)

via Wikipedia

We left the Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”), after over a year of inconsistent-but-persistent resolve.  Pat lost some weight, and we felt pretty good overall.  But I didn’t lose weight, and it seemed like a lot of work for negligible results.  So we quickly slipped from PHD to mostly whole foods to . . . what I call the Mental Health Diet (“MHD”).

The MHD consists mostly of convenience foods, take-out pizza, dinners out, and fast food (I discovered the Taco Bell cantina bowl–yum!).  I started a tasting tour of sorts, trying out all of the kids-eat-free nights at our local restaurants.

My mental health diet


Not surprisingly, my weight has skyrocketed.  At least I think it has.*  I haven’t weighed myself in several months.  But all my clothes are tight.  I’m kind of dreading fall because even the jeans I was so excited about recently are feeling uncomfortably snug now.


This got me thinking that maybe the PHD helped me more than I realized.  I didn’t lose any weight but I also didn’t gain any.  On the other hand, my weight has climbed steadily ever since coming off it.  Also–now that I think of it–my weight was starting to climb before we got on the PHD.

I stopped breastfeeding Girl 2 around September 2012.  Shortly thereafter I switched from Zoloft to Lexapro.  Due to some combination of those factors (I think), my weight started climbing.  Then in November 2012 we started the PHD and the weight gain came to a halt.

All this is making me want (“want” in a limited sense of the word) to get back on the PHD bandwagon.  Or maybe even do the Whole 30 for a clean break.  Jenny’s experience, among others, makes it sound . . . hmm, not appealing, but . . . like-a-good-idea-ing.**

{Pat is never ever critical when we fall off the healthy-eating wagon and yet he is always game for healthy eating, bless his heart.

Me: “Honey, I think maybe we should try this thing called the Whole 30.  [15 second summary of Whole 30]  What do you think?”

Pat: “Yes, I’m in.  Good idea. . . . There’s always apples and peanut butter, right?”  (PB&A being Pat’s go-to meal.)

Me: “Uh, yeah, about peanut butter . . . .”

Pat: “Um, well, how about homemade hummus??”

Me: “Well . . . .” }

At the same time, I don’t regret our stint with the Mental Health Diet.  Junk food is never good for one’s mental health in itself.  Not feeling the pressure to cook, though, was a definite boon.

The MHD has been one facet of a change of course I’m taking in life wherein I focus less on doing more.  I’m here.  I love.  I’m enough.

We ate junk; ordered out; I hardly ever cooked.  Yet the world kept on spinning.  My kids are as healthy as they ever were (not saying much), and Pat and I are fine.  There’s just more of me to love.  Nutrition and physical health are important but they’re not all-important.    (As usual, I love Amelia’s thoughts on this topic.)  Eating junk probably didn’t help my low energy woes, but the slug life led me to the MHD, rather than the other way around.

All the same, I’m sick of treating my body like a tent.  I don’t want to be forced to wear a tent.  I think it’s time for a change.  Stay tuned.


*Update: Since drafting this, I weighed myself and, sure enough: I’m up 10 lbs over the last four months, 20 lbs over the last 14 months.

**Update 2: I decided the Whole 30 would be setting myself up for certain failure.  I signed up for Weight Watchers instead.  More on that later.

Is Losing Weight Like Finding Your Way In the 100-Acre Wood?

Or, Why I’m Giving In and Buying New Jeans

As I’ve written before, I’ve been inspired by Jennifer Fulwiler’s account of overcoming food addiction and losing weight through her “saint diet,” which is similar to the Perfect Health Diet that Pat and I are following.  Jennifer wrote a really inspiring post about how she finally got on the path to healthy eating habits when she was pregnant and her focus wasn’t on losing weight.  Only when she stopped trying to lose weight did she start losing weight.

Well, I do want to lose weight.  Not a lot of weight, just the last few pounds I need to get back into the jeans I was wearing two years ago.  So far I’m not losing weight on the Perfect Health Diet.  (The only weight loss method that reliably works for me is restricting and counting calories, and who wants to do that??)

Perhaps I need to stop trying to lose weight in order to lose weight.  It reminds me of Pooh and Rabbit and Piglet’s predicament when they got lost and kept circling around and coming back to the same sand pit:

“How would it be,” said Pooh slowly, “if, as soon as we’re out of sight of this Pit, we try to find it again?”

“What’s the good of that?” said Rabbit.

“Well,” said Pooh, “we keep looking for Home and not finding it, so I thought that if we looked for this Pit, we’d be sure not to find it, which would be a Good Thing, because then we might find something that we weren’t looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really.”

“I don’t see much sense in that,” said Rabbit.

“No,” said Pooh humbly, “there isn’t. But there was going to be when I began it. It’s just that something happened to it on the way.”

What does all this have to do with buying jeans?  Well . . .

I have six pairs of full-length jeans, all the same size on the label but of varying actual sizes.  Only the three biggest pairs currently fit: two Limited “Cassidy” bootcut jeans that I’ve had for over six years, and one Gap “Long and Lean” pair that I picked up at a yard sale somewhere.  I have refused to buy new jeans in the past 10 months since Girl 2 was born (okay, except two cropped pairs I bought to get me through the summer), because Iamgonnagetbackintomyoldjeansgoshdarnit!! The pairs that currently fit all look more or less like this:


I’ve genuinely worn a hole in the knee of one pair:


Apparently bootcut pants are sooooooo passe, and they drag on the ground a bit when I wear sneakers.  Also, I like tucking my jeans into my boots to show off all that pleather.  So hide-you-boots-cut jeans are sub-optimal for many reasons.

Lately I’ve taken to pegging and rolling them a bit to make them the current hotness that are “boyfriend jeans” (or perhaps it’s for that “classic 80s look,” as Reliant K puts it in their how-to here).


Then I took a good long look in the mirror:


Hmmm.  These are more “your-boyfriend’s-mom’s jeans.”  Oops.

On Thursday I found myself with only one clean pair of jeans, plus the white cropped jeans I bought over the summer.  I previously put together an outfit, which I thought was pretty cute, using those white jeans.


 I had a playdate at a friend’s house planned for Friday (Hi Alaina!), but I realized I would feel like a pretty silly in my accidentally-on-purpose half-tucked chambray shirt and white jeans tucked into boots . . . for a playdate.  This outfit might be nothing for people like the fabulous Shana, who wears leather short-shorts with booties while out and about with the kids,

Shana of aintnomomjeans.com

but I’m just . . . not there yet.  Plus the white crops don’t fit so well anymore. (I haven’t lost weight but the pants seem to have lost their shape.  Stupid LOFT.)  They sag and I have to hike them up continually, which makes me feel even more like a awkward, pathetic poser.

So, leaving my bootcut blue jeans clean for the playdate on Friday (I’m not above wearing jeans several times before washing, but there’s no guarantee they’d be fit to wear out again after a day at home with the girls), I was left with this to wear on Thursday:


Perfect for the preschooler dropping-off and picking-up, diaper-changing, food-preparing, volunteer phone-calling, floor-mopping, laundry-folding day ahead.  I did have book club that night, but it was a cold night and I threw on a sweatshirt, resulting in something like this:


So all this is a long way of saying that I’m buying new jeans!!!!  Or maybe I’ll put them on my Christmas list and, if I don’t get them from Santa, I’ll buy them for myself next time they go on sale.  I’m thinking I’ll try these:

Old Navy “Sweetheart” Skinny Jeans

or these:

Old Navy “Sweetheart” Real-Deal Straight-Leg Jeans

Old Navy’s quality has disappointed me lately.  Also, I’m wary of skinny jeans because they generally only look skinny on already-skinny people.  But Old Navy is fairly good at translating trendy styles into real-body fits.  Plus, these jeans are recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy.  What’s good enough for Mrs. Darcy is good enough for me (merely a modern Elinor Dashwood).

And even if they do fall apart after a few months, as Old Navy clothes are wont to do, maybe by then I will have lost weight.

Because I’ve stopped trying to fit into my old jeans.

The End.

Menu Plan Monday, Perfect Health Diet Edition, Part 2

I’m linking up today with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Last Monday I gave some background on my husband’s and my decision to follow the Perfect Health Diet  (PHD).  Today, I’ll give a little summary of what we’ve done so far, how it’s going, and where we need to improve.

Just to recap, PHD is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet.  It eliminates all grains (except rice), legumes, sugar, and most common vegetable oils other than olive oil.  It is basically a “paleo” diet except that it includes dairy.

Changes We’ve Made

  • Cutting out grains, other than rice and some occasional quinoa (which the PHD authors say is a maybe-occasionally-alright food, and which I just love): no cereal or English muffins for breakfast, no bread for sandwiches at lunch, no pasta for dinner.  It’s been hard, but not too hard.  Fortunately, neither of us was a bread junkie before.  Mainly, it eliminates a lot of quick, convenient meals and snacks (sandwiches, crackers, granola bars).  Menu planning has gone a long way in overcoming that hurdle.  For the most part, we’ve gotten used to being grain free.
  • Cutting out sugar: this has been hard from me.  I definitely am a sugar addict  About a year ago, I tried cutting sugar out for a week, and I felt like life had no joy left in it.  Seriously.  That’s when I knew I really had a problem.  I lasted maybe 6 days.  This time around, it’s been soooooo much easier.  I’m guessing that cutting out all grains helps curb sugar cravings.  Also, eating a lot more yummy fat like heavy cream makes me miss sugar less.  Finally and very fortunately dark chocolate is not only allowed but encouraged on the PHD, as long as it’s the very dark kind.  We stick with 85% cocoa or higher, and it’s heavenly!
  • Cutting out omega-6s: unhealthy fats, including almost all common vegetable oils like canola, peanut, soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower. We now use only butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.  This isn’t hard at all when I’m cooking something from scratch.  It does make finding good packaged, prepared foods difficult.  Things that otherwise would be allowable–say, french fries or rice crisps–are off-limits because of the oils used in them.  This has required us to eat almost no prepared foods.  Instead we snack on nuts, fruit, and cheese . . . and chocolate.

Changes We’ve Seen In Ourselves

  • The biggest improvement for Pat has been that he lost about 10 pounds in the course of 5 weeks, with no effort to cut calories.  He was occasionally hungry for the first few weeks, simply because it took some time to find new PHD replacements for foods that were off-limits.  So, that might have accounted for some of his weight loss.  These days, however, he’s never hungry but he so far is maintaining his new, healthy weight.
  • I, unfortunately, have not lost any weight.  In fact, I think I’ve gained a pound or two, which is a bummer.     I don’t have a huge amount to lose but I really want to lose it . . . without being hungry!   I’m trying to stay positive, however, and focus on good nutrition first and weight loss second.
  • I think I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood and energy levels.  Other factors probably are contributing here, so I need to observe more before I’ll know what role the diet is playing.
  • I have noticed an amazing decrease in my food cravings.  My addiction to sugar has all but gone away and I’m much more able to avoid the grazing at night that I used to do.  That being said . . .

Improvements We Still Need To Make

  • Pat and I were pretty gung-ho and stuck to our diet quite strictly for the first 6 weeks or so.  We fell off the wagon about two weeks back and we’re not 100% back on.  At the same time, I’ve felt my snacking/sugar cravings come back, which makes it harder to get back on track.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Because of the holiday season, we’ve decided not to get all bent out of shape about this.  We’ll eat as well as we can but not beat ourselves up for “cheating” occasionally.  In the new year, when all the holiday goodie temptations are gone, we’ll step up our game.
  • Even when I am really “good” with my food choices, I struggle with mindless eating.  When I sit down to eat a meal I often have second or thirds even if I”m not really hungry.  I think, subconsciously, I eat to avoid geting up to do the dishes!  Also,  I pop food in my mouth as I’m preparing it, and since I make nine meals a day, that’s a lot of time spent preparing food!  The PHD authors say snacking isn’t a bad thing, but I know mindless snacking, disconnected from hunger, can’t be good.
  • My snack of choice these days is fruit.  Fruit is allowed on the PHD but limited.  I’m not up to measuring or weighing or even tracking the food I eat, but I’m sure I’m eating more than the 1/2 lb. of fruit that is recommended on the PHD.  Additionally, the PHD authors list apples as one of the less-healthy fruits, with the newer, sweeter hybrid varieties being the least healthy.  I guess that means I need to give up my beloved honey crisps!  😦
  • We still need to add more of the PHD recommended foods into our diet: more coconut oil, more fatty fish.  Organ meat also is highly recommended but I just don’t think I’m ever going to go there.
  • PHD recommends limiting your eating to an 8 hour window and fasting the other 16.  This was getting more feasible as my nighttime snack cravings went away but is less so now.  I still need to work on eating breakfast later and dinner earlier.  Some PHD followers advocate skipping breakfast altogether, but I’m hesitant to do this.  I’ve always heard that breakfast is crucial for getting your metabolism and blood sugar levels off to a good start. But then, every other aspect of the PHD turns mainstream nutrition guidance on its head, so why not this?

Well, there is a lot more to say about our PHD experience, but those are the highlights so far.  Here’s the menu for the rest of the week:

Stay tuned next week when I relate my bone-broth making experience and discuss whether this will hamper Girl 1’s chances with her one true love . . . .

P.S. Thank you to everyone who responded to my post about Girl 1’s picky eating habits.  Your comments were very encouraging and helped me realize the struggle we were having just wasn’t worth it.  She does eat fruit and some vegetables and other healthy foods so she’s not malnourished.  I’m taking a step back and letting her eat peanut butter and chocolate sandwiches to her heart’s content for a little while.  Making her a sandwich isn’t nearly as hard as trying to get her to eat other things, and she’s almost to the point that she could make her own sandwiches.  Eventually we’ll work on introducing new foods.