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Monday, May 24, 2010

Weighty Issues

I've been asked to share my weight loss secrets. I'll be happy to do that, but first I should probably tell you that unless you are a sugar junkie in need of reform, this method may not work for you.
I'll get the ugly stats out of the way first, I'm not embarrassed by them:
October 2009
Weight- 226lbs
Size-16 (US)
Height-6'
Average daily beverage consumption:
Coffee with sugar and cream
40ish ounces Cranberry Juice
Starbucks Venti Mocha
Occasional soft drink or milk shake
Occasional water

Average breakfast:
Doughnut, croissant, burrito or nothing at all

Average lunch:
Too much food, usually of the take out variety; deli sandwiches, Chinese, Indian, McDonalds fries, etc...

Average dinner:
Pasta and bread played heavily into my diet and I had no regard for portion size.

May 2010
Weight-189lbs
Size-12 (US)
Height-6'

Average beverage consumption:
water
coffee with cream, little or no sugar, if I go to Starbucks I get regular coffee or unsweetened lattes
unsweeted soymilk

Average breakfast:
plain fat free Greek yogurt with Fiber One cereal or cereal with soymilk

Average lunch:
cheese, crackers, veggies and nuts or a sandwich on sprouted grain bread

Dinner:
protein heavy meals that typicaly revolve around a soy meat product and veggies, some carbs and fat usually in the form of cheese

So as you can see, the biggest difference in my diet was to remove a ton of sugar and carbs and replace it with more protein. The cranberry juice alone was an insane amount of sugar, each serving was 28g and I was probably drinking about 5 servings a day. That alone was about four times the amount that a healthy person should have. Of course, sugar does not have fat, but it does have calories, and as a diabetic, the amount of sugar I consumed raised my resistance to insulin ans lowered my metabolism.
Portion control was the next step. On a typical pasta night, I would heap pasta into a bowl and go back for seconds. I was eating roughly 3-4 servings. Even though I was eating whole grain, the amount I ate counteracted any positives that may have been. Now if I do have pasta, it's one bowl, a small bowl, and I fill my sauce with chunky veggies and "meats" so that I'm filling up, but on the right foods.
I don't count calories, but by monitoring my carbohydrate intake I don't have to. I also don't worry about fat, but I do control the amount of fat I eat. The easiest and probably most satisfying way that I do that is with cheese. My rule is simple, no processed or bulk manufactured cheese. Sure, the grocery store brick of cheddar is $2, but it tastes like plastic. By spending more money for less, I eat less, and usually I don't notice because there is so much flavor that I don't need to add a ton of cheese to my food.
Chocolate is the same. I buy nothing less than 85% cocoa chocolate which has little sugar, but much fat. Rather than eat the whole bar, or even half (which is the typical serving size), I eat a single square, two if I feel like going nuts.
I allow myself the occasional indulgence, but the key word is occasional. In the past I usually bought some sort of dessert almost every day.
I should also add that I eat no processed foods, no reduced fat or artificially sweetened items. I buy organic, whole foods when ever possible. When the recipe calls for butter, I use butter, not that heart healthy stuff that is likely made of motor oil. I also rarely go out to eat anymore. If we do go out it's for Indian or Thai, and I'd say we probably do that about once every 2-3weeks.  
I do exercise, mostly walking and some weight lifting. I've started trying to run, but only when I know that no one can see me. I try to get 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. It's not much, but that's what is recommended for healthy weight management.
More than anything, the reason this works for me is because it's not a diet, it's a total lifestyle change and one that does not inconvenience me or make me feel like anything is lacking. Honestly, I feel that we have been eating much tastier food because of it.
I hope this helped!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Marimba!

I had no idea that the marimba would be so intriguing!
(Cellar Door: Something funky happened when I accepted your comment about the marimba, it says it's there but I can't see it. Sorry!)

Here is the marimba, crowding my desk:

The story of the marimba begins with a trip to a local Thai restaurant that Jason and I would frequent mainly because we were too tired to cook or we had no kitchen. Jason always picks up a Green Sheet, a free classified ad paper, and look through the musical instruments section while we waited for our food.
On this particular day, about two years ago, he found an ad for a marimba. I didn't think he was serious about the marimba, but then he whipped out his phone and called the number in the ad. I don't remember if he scheduled a visit right then and there or if he called later, but the next Saturday we were driving to a Dallas suburb, about 40 miles from Denton to meet Mark, the marimba owner.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived at his house was a grand piano in the living room. Now, mind that this is a typical suburban neighborhood and the house was unassuming from the outside, this will be important to the story. The piano had 92 keys, a typical piano has 88. Above the piano were two ancient pieces of sheet music, hand written by Gregorian monks in a style that is no longer used. The other walls and all available shelf spaces were covered with a variety of old instruments. It was clear that Mark collected rare and antique instruments. He had a story for just about every piece that we saw. I don't know how long we talked to him before going into the next room, but we learned that his wife had recently passed away, but he was vague on that point. We didn't ask questions, of course, out of respect, but there were plenty of other objects and stories that he was willing to talk about.
At this point we were fascinated, but then we went through the kitchen into the back room of the house. The room was huge with high ceilings. It had been added on to the original house for one reason, which we could hardly miss, the centerpiece of the room was a full sized cathedral style pipe organ. He had got the organ from an old movie theater that was closing down and had it taken apart, moved to his house, reassembled, and then built the addition around it.  I've never seen anything quite as impressive as the detail that Mark had put into building this room. It was like a museum. There were windows that looked into the inner workings of the organ, more instruments, books and sheet music everywhere, a staircase that lead to a catwalk attached to the original roof and another room behind the organ. We must have stayed for a few hours, just listening to stories about how he played organ for the church, histories of different instruments and the architecture of the room (massive cedar beams and ornately carved doors in wood that can't be bought any more).
After all that, Jason couldn't understand why someone who revered his collection like Mark had would ever sell a part of it, but he bought it anyway, and for what is apparently a good price (I'm not the musical instrument expert, he is).We joked that the marimba might be cursed, but so far nothing unusual has happened with it. I've tried playing it, and honestly, it's not too hard, even for someone as woefully unmusical as myself, it's set up just like a piano so if you can play a piano, you can play a marimba. Of course I just stated that my musical talent is nil, so my idea of success is figuring out "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies" and "The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out."
Perhaps someday I'll stun the world with my mad marimba skills, but for now, it sits in front of my desk until the house is finished throwing problems at us.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Country Mouse, City Mouse, Townie Mouse

Ask me where my ideal home would be located and I'd likely tell you New York, New Orleans, or perhaps Paris. I'm a City Mouse. I grew up in a small city, but spent most of my childhood within walking distance to parks, pools, corner candy shops and  all sorts of fun distractions. Later, in my pre and teen years I was a short bus ride from a downtown filled with shops, restaurants and cool places for an eighties chick with mall bangs and neon belts to hang out.  At eighteen I figured out that New York was a $10 bus ride away and suddenly my small city seemed smaller.
I never had the chance to live in NYC, but I spent as much time there as possible. I moved to San Francisco, then Dallas. Each move gave me a different perspective on city life, and the last eight years have afforded me with amazing travel opportunities so I've seen a lot of cities both large and small.
For me, the bigger the better. I'm at home in a place where I don't need to own a car and never  have to shop at a mall or big box store. I love corner markets, cafes and news stands. The idea of living in the "sticks" where driving is mandatory as the nearest store is miles away has never enticed me. I've never wanted land, gardens or anything of the sort. I'm okay with concrete and roof top gardens and inner city parks.
Yet somehow here I am, forty miles from the nearest big city, a sprawling city with limited public transit at that. I buy my dog food at a feed store that occasionally has horses in the parking lot. We have more western apparel and supply stores than news stands. Am I a Country Mouse?
Had you asked me a few weeks ago I would have said yes, I am an exhausted Country Mouse who works in the "city" and has no time to lament country life. But I would have been wrong, because I do not live in a town or village, but in a city, a small one, about the same size as the one I grew up in, but a city none the less.
Perspective is interesting. Since I started working in town, I've begun incorporating exploring my city into my daily walks. within a quarter mile of my house is a grocery store, three drug stores, more pizza restaurants than should be allowed, a local coffee shop and a Starbucks, several hair and nail salons and a beauty supply store, a craft store, dollar store, Radio Shack, a few bars, three Mediterranean restaurants and a sushi bar... and a lot more. Sure, I have to drive to the mall for clothes, and I usually drive to the grocery store because we tend to buy more than I can carry home on foot, and I can't take the train to work, but if I felt like it, I could be writing this from a cafe table while drinking a latte.
I'm a Townie Mouse. It took a while, but I finally found my groove.
Does that mean I've given up my dreams of a brownstone, or a winter home in the Garden District, or a vacation flat overlooking the Eiffel Tower? Hell no! But if none of that should come to pass, I doubt I'll feel that I missed out on anything.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back From Yet Another Hiatus

In case you haven't figured it out, April was a pretty busy month for me. I would have loved to told the world about it, but frankly I had neither the time nor the space to do so. You see, part of what made April such a busy month is that we had a contractor come in and completely re-do the front of the house, which included knocking down a few walls, which meant we had to move out of both the living room and Jason's office, which meant my office is buried under the bedroom and a marimba. That made sense, right?
I didn't think so. Anyway, all that matters is that we have a shiny new house with insulated walls. Here's a picture:


The front porch is brand new. I don't have any pictures of what it used to look like, but trust me, this is an improvement. Here's a picture of one of the back windows that has yet to be replaced:

I'm pretty sure that's lead based paint flaking off there.
We're also close to finishing the main bathroom, and when the foundation gets repaired (again!) we'll have a nice new bedroom with a walk-in closet. Yay me!

I also started a new job on the third of May, which meant that April was ridiculously busy at my last job since I had to figure out exactly what it was I did and train others to do it. The new job makes me happy. I'm out of travel, and I took a pretty big cut in pay, but I no longer have to drive 35 miles each way. I'm 10 minutes from work, which gives me three extra hours each day to do what ever I want, or at least it will, once the house is finished.

And finally, I had my last A1C in April and I am at a 6.2 with a triglyceride count of 118, which is pretty awesome considering that when I was diagnosed in October I had an A1C of 10 and a triglyceride count of over 400. I've lost close to 40 pounds and I have just 10 more to go before I'm "normal." I do admit, I've been slacking a bit this week, but I'm on a schedule now. I will get there and I will stay there, dammit!

Finally, I apologize for not keeping up with everyone's blogs, this too will change. I miss you guys.