Category Archives: Get Fit!

Day 2 of… the rest of my life?

I’m not big on diets.  I’ve been on two in my life.  One was when, in early 2000, my husband and I did a Body for Life challenge.  That was successful, but very shortly after its completion, I got pregnant, and the whole thing went out the window.  I didn’t know how to pull off diet + pregnancy.

Ironically, the other diet upon which I embarked was two years ago, when I was pregnant with Fiala.  For three or so reasons, my doctor thought it would be wise if I did not gain any weight during my third trimester.  He put me on phase 2 of the South Beach Diet for gestational weeks 28-40, and guess what?  I didn’t gain any weight.  In fact, I had to allow myself to eat more, because following his recommendations caused me to initially lose weight.  For that entire pregnancy, I gained 17 lbs, which was the fewest of my five, by far.  I felt SO GOOD after she was born, too — not bloated and huge, and I recovered, in every way, so much more quickly.

Then, when I was nursing Fiala, and she had (has, still) major food allergy problems, I put myself on a Total Elimination Diet to make my breastmilk safe for her to drink.  During that time, I dropped to 135 lbs, which is what I weighed when I got married, nearly 16 years ago.  I weaned Fiala and went off of the TED in January of this year.  I expected to go back up to 155 lbs or so, because that’s pretty much where my body settled, post-pregnancy, after babies #3 & 4 were born.  It took a number of months, but yes, I got back up to 155.

Then… 160.

A couple of weeks ago, when I hit 165 — which is the heaviest, un-pregnant, I’ve ever been, I decided that I had to do something.  Gaining 30 pounds in nine months just is not healthy.  Also, having to buy clothes because you’re smaller?  Feels fabulous.  Buying clothes because your chub won’t fit inside of your favorite jeans any longer?  Not so much.

The part of me that doesn’t like diets is the part which rationalizes, “Diets aren’t sustainable.”  And, I still wrestle with that.  I eat healthy — very healthy, in fact, if you don’t count my penchant for dark chocolate chips and 2-3 servings of ice cream per month.  But, apparently, I’m just eating too much of it, whatever “it” is.  Even though I cannot see measuring my food and counting my carbs to really be a sustainable plan for the rest of my life, I can’t simply do nothing.  And, since I know that a modified South Beach Diet is effective for me, that’s what I’m going with.

Speaking of sustainable, right now, I would say that, on average, I have ONE day per week where I have some sort of extended form of exercise.  Ideally, I’d like that to be three or four days.  But, if I tell myself, “I am going to work out four days a week,” and I don’t reach that goal, I know I’ll be discouraged.  But… I do need to step it up.  So, part two of my plan is to double my strenuous activity to 2x/week.

The reasons I like South Beach (which I’m not trying to sell — they have a book, which I’ve never read, and they have a $5/week online program, to which I’m NOT subscribing) is because it fits in so well with what my food aims are, anyways:

  • Nutrient-dense, fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains;
  • Legumes;
  • Lean sources of protein;
  • Low-fat dairy products;
  • Good fats from foods such as omega-3-rich fish, healthy oils (like extra-virgin olive and canola oils), and nuts

I don’t know what they do in the “real” South Beach Diet, but in my modified version, I don’t count calories.  I don’t count fat grams (though I do minimize unhealthy fats).  I do count carbohydrates.  Fiber carbs, though, don’t count against the daily total.  So, say, three ounces of carrots would only count as 6 net grams (8 total, minus the 2 grams of fiber).  My “goal” for fiber is a minimum of 20 grams daily.  I say “goal” because I hit that — and soar past — every day.  I’ve read that most Americans consume less than 10 grams of fiber each day, and that’s nearly incomprehensible to me.  It would be hard for me to NOT eat 20+ grams per day.

For now, I am going to stick with 150 grams of net carbs per day, and see what the results are in two weeks.  If I’m not losing any weight, I’ll drop it down to 125 g daily.

A lot of people who do South Beach use liberal amounts of artificial sweeteners.  Um, not me.  I do supplement my coffee’s teaspoon of honey with a bit of stevia each morning, but I’m not going to eat — ever — a cupful of sugar-free Jell-O, just because it has no carbs.  Chemicals, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors… Yuck.  Can’t do it.  I want to be HEALTHY, not just carb-less.

Oh.  I do allow myself one soda every afternoon, almost always Hansen’s.  It is sweetened with Splenda, but it is all-natural besides that.  I’m iffy on Splenda.  But, I figure if my one vice is a daily can of diet Hansen’s, I’m gonna be OK.

OH!  And, I do need to find some sort of better dessert option.  After the kids go to bed, I like to settle down with my husband’s company, a book (or a TV show), and a container of frozen yogurt.  I mean, regular yogurt that I freeze, then let thaw for about 15 minutes before eating.  I’d really like one that is around 20 carbs per serving, with no artificial anything and inexpensive enough for me to buy 4-6 each week without messing up my family’s grocery budget.  Hm.  Maybe I’ll look at Trader Joe’s.  Currently, I’m eating Yoplait light, but those have aspartame.

I just looked up Breyer’s Mint Chip, and each 1/2 cup serving has 18 carbs!  A 1/2 cup serving is really, really small.  But, when I’m accountable to my tally sheet, I think I could do it.  A little bit of ice cream?  Or no ice cream?  Little bit, it’ll have to be.  😀

So… it’s my hope that I’ll learn to make better little choices that will be sustainable.  Long term do-able.  For instance, raw almonds are one of my very favorite snacks.  But, instead of just keeping the bag open in my pantry and grabbing a handful whenever, I now put 2 oz (1/3 cup – 6 regular carbs, 6 fiber carbs) in a little bowl, and be happy with that.  And, last night, with our grilled chicken, I chose not to use barbecue sauce, which I love.

I figure the least I alter what I currently do — yet, alter it, indeed! — the more likely it is to stick.

We’ll see.

I promise this won’t turn into Karen’s Diet Blog — there are enough diet blogs out there already.  But, I figure that blogging about this adds one more layer of accountability, which will help me stay on target.


Anyone wanna join me??


Balancing the busy season

There’s a fine line, sometimes, between being refreshingly honest and complaining.  I sincerely hope I’m the former.

I really don’t like to be busy.  I don’t know if it’s that, at heart, I’m naturally lazy (I hope not), or that really, my best “work” is not that which requires activity.  I don’t know.  But, anticipating seasons like the one upon which I’m embarking can, if I let it, really stress me out and rob my joy.

I look upon this past spring and wonder how I survived.  On top of homeschooling and church, we had Little League (usually four nights a week), two weekly small groups (one for my husband, and one for me), plus a bi-weekly homeschooling art class, and a homeschooling group on the off-weeks.  Plus, all the activities and tasks which allow a family and home to function.  And an ill mother and the puzzle of my youngest daughter’s diet and health.

Fiala's current fave

Seasons like that necessitate that I be highly structured and organized, with which I have a love/hate relationship.  I get a lot done when my life is highly structured, but it…  I don’t know.  I just don’t like it.  I miss the freedom, and the opportunity to, say, respond to that little pleading, upturned face, and just sit down on the kitchen floor in the midst of dinner prep and read The Shy Little Kitten to my youngest, without the pressure of knowing what it’s going to do to our schedule, should dinner be 15 minutes late.

But, weathering this past spring gives me the courage — literally — to say, “OK.  We can do two small groups, and it’s going to be all right.  I will live and not die.”

That sounds so stupid and melodramatic, but it’s true.

My life is full of good things and blessings.  It really is.  And, it has been my observation that the enemy takes evil delight in taking our blessings and framing them — just so — in our minds so that they appear to be a detriment of one sort or another.  At least, I’m vulnerable to that:  I’m tempted to see the dark cloud behind every silver lining.  And, that’s not good.  Still, neither do I want to be dishonest and say, “I can do everything!  And it all makes me happy!  And it’s easy!  Being stretched is fun!”  Because, truly, even with all the good things in my life, sometimes it just seems like there’s too much of… something, and what I’d really rather be doing is putting my back against a shady tree beside a small stream, and reading a book with one eye, and with my other, watching my kids play.  And there’s too little of that, and too much of the other, and, frankly, I’ve not yet learned what the balance is between seeking Godly peace, and simply being lazy and self-serving and yearning for the idyllic.

Also, I’m taking into consideration:

  • This week is my youngest son’s 9th birthday.  We have a day-long outing scheduled (with a couple of other families), and an overnighter with two of Wesley’s friends.  (Obligingly, another friend of mine has offered to keep my older two boys overnight with her oldest son, thus there is no net gain of children.)
  • This week, we do start the small group/kinship season again, which, in many ways, is always so wonderful.  I’m truly glad, each week, when I look into the faces of those in group with me, and I hear the teaching — which frequently is just what I needed to hear — and I participate in discussion, and ministry, and even leading worship (which I really, really love)…  I so often think, “I am so pleased to be able to be here.”  Yet, the logistics of making it happen can nearly tip me over the edge.  One weekly night, my husband stays home with our dear passel of children, and on another night, I stay home while he does the same thing at his group.  Each scenario has its challenges.
  • This week, we started having my parents back over for dinner.  For literally a decade, my mother and stepdad have been coming over for a weekly dinner.  But, this past year saw a dramatic decrease in that, both because of me being distraught over Fiala’s health and how to feed her (I’m not distressed over that anymore, but she still is difficult to feed, and I have adjusted myself to making two meals, every mealtime)… and my mother’s health has been in serious decline, with three major hospital stays over the last year.  My mother and I also had a row a couple of months ago, our first in years and years, the end of which had her proclaiming that she never wanted to talk with me again.  That was distressing.  My stepdad and I came to the conclusion that it was her ill health “talking”, which is so odd, because my mother has forever been resolute and reasonable.  It’s very unlike her to be changeable and petulant.  But, bless God for that, because after sending me a few peace offerings (which is also unlike her) of a number of gluten-free grocery/convenience items, plus a good book, she asked if we couldn’t, please, start our dinners back up.  HOW COULD I SAY NO??!?? I couldn’t.  I can’t!  I don’t want to.  I dearly want to spend that time with my parents.  Dearly.  Yet, it’s one more thing on the plate, so to speak.  This Monday, just my stepdad came over, as my mother is in Illinois with her mother.  Same with this coming Monday.  After that, it will be the two of them, but only once every other week.
  • And, literally weighing on me is the fact that I’ve put on 25 lbs since January, and am now back to my pre-pregnancy (before Fiala) weight.  That’s not a good thing.  I am very uncomfortable with myself, literally, yet after a year+ of living on a hyper-restricted diet for her sake, it’s hard to Just Say No to chocolate chips.  🙂  But, I have decided that I have to do something so the weight doesn’t keep piling on, and that’s difficult, because I’m not a dieter, yet I’m aware that I simply can’t stay the way I am right now.  I haven’t yet figured out exactly what I’m going to do.
  • And, I’m in the midst of… distilling… choosing… seeking some wisdom from my Father… about some direction for my life for the next couple of years (at least)… and it’s unclear…  I’ve been meaning to fast, but I keep forgetting!  After about five solid years of either being pregnant or nursing, I got out of the habit.  Now, it’s like, “OK.  I need to fast.  Monday.  No, that won’t work.  Parents over for dinner.  OK.  Tuesday.  Tuesday it is!” then Tuesday happens and I forget until mid-morning after two cups of coffee, a banana, some almonds, and a bowl of granola.  Etc.  So, I need to figure that out, too.  😀

And other stuff.

I really just need God.  I need His presence, I need His peace, His wisdom, His priorities, His heart, even His energy…

I closed another recent post with this same thing, but it is so on my heart:

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!  For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?  Who knows enough to give him advice?  And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?  For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.  Romans 11:33-36 NLT


Warning (again): This post likely has too much information about poop.  Unless you’re a mother who has dealt with poop issues, you’ll probably want to skip it.  (It’s about healthy poop, but still…)

  • On Sunday, I introduced pinto beans, “refried” style, but only from homemade soaked, simmered, salted, and mashed pintos — no fat of any sort, and no seasoning other than salt.  Honestly, I’m not surprised that she tolerated them VERY well, because prior to the total elimination diet, beans were the only thing that I was confident that she was digesting well.
  • Her skin continues to improve (from our setbacks last week), and her post-pinto-poop was formed and healthy.  I’m THRILLED.
  • I decided that xylitol was contributing to Fiala’s skin problems last week, so discontinued it on … Saturday, I think it was.  So, though I’m not a huge fan of the taste/effectiveness of stevia, that’s what’s sweetening my morning (black) coffee and Fiala’s buckwheat.
  • I also decided to do a mini rotation diet, doing pintos one day, and buckwheat the next.  Sunday was both, yesterday buckwheat, today pintos, etc.  Also included in the mix is lamb, of course.
  • Lamb:  I’m still not a huge fan, but I’m learning about it — learning where to find it, how to cook it, which cuts work best for us, etc.  Leg of lamb roasts are working really well, because I can just make one, and that lasts 2-3 days, depending on the size and if I share it with family members other than Fiala.  Leg of lamb roasts are more expensive than other cuts, usually around $5/lb, but have only one bone going through the center, and not a lot of fat or gristle — essentially, more MEAT to the pound.  My fave, though, is ground lamb!  Whodathunk??  Since I didn’t see it the last trip to the grocery store, I asked my local butcher (the butcher at the Bashas’ on 99th Ave & Beardsley, if anyone local is wondering), and he said that he typically only makes ground lamb when the shoulder chops are on sale.  I guess ground lamb is made from shoulder chops.  Anyways, it’s easy to cook ground lamb patties on my cast iron griddle, and seems the most satisfying, for unknown reasons.  Plus, Fiala can it it very easily.
  • I keep a large saucepan of all the bones I’ve used, and simmer it for 2-3 hours at least once a day.  I also add the broth from the lamb leg roasts to it.  I then use the simmered+roasted broth for “soup” made from plain buckwheat, salt, and the broth.  It is remarkably satisfying.  Also, I can tell that there is quite a bit of nutrition coming out of those bones, because it congeals when refrigerated.  Plus, I need the calcium.  I feel very healthy, eating my lamb bone broth.  😀
  • Even though it’s only been two days since our last food introduction, I cracked open a jar of homemade sauerkraut this morning.  Golly, it’s salty.  We’re not doing dairy of any kind, so all it is is finely shredded cabbage (I used red and regular), mashed firmly down, then 1 cup of water with 2 Tablespoons sea salt mixed in, poured over the top.  That sits on the countertop at room temp for four days.  I couldn’t tell from the outside if it had really fermented or not, but I opened it over the sink, and it fizzed up and out.  I guess that’s a good sign.  Fermented foods are supposed to be good for one’s digestion, plus, I’m just desperate for some sort of veggie.  I ate some before breakfast, and before lunch, too.  I let Fiala try it at lunch, but not that surprisingly, she didn’t care for it.  🙂  Wesley, my 8yo, LOVES it.  Everyone else tried it just for fun, but Wes is the only one who really likes it.
  • Speaking of salt, I don’t know why, but I am CRAVING it.  Maybe it’s because it’s my only seasoning, but everything I eat has to be salted VERY well.  I’m not worried, really, about my overall salt intake, since my blood pressure is very low (too low) to begin with.  Still, it seems a bit odd.  But, the good news is that ‘kraut fits right in!!
  • I have lost a lot of weight.  At the beginning of June, I purposed to exercise more, perhaps losing weight.  Well, over the summer, I didn’t exercise much, but I did stop eating late-night snacks, and through that, lost 10 lbs over three months.  In the last five weeks or so, I’ve lost an additional 10 lbs.  It’s the buckwheat-and-lamb diet!!  Try it!!  🙄  I’m now at about 139.5 lbs, which is the first time in THIRTEEN YEARS that I’ve been under 140 lbs.  I was 134 lbs when I got married fifteen years ago, 138 lbs when I got pregnant with Ethan two years later, and after I had Ethan, I never sunk below 145 lbs.  I’m… umm… a much saggier 140 lbs than I was, lo those many years ago.  Five kids’ll do that to you.  😀  But, still, I’d rather be 140 than 160.
  • So, to recap, here are the foods Fiala can now eat:  lamb, buckwheat, pinto beans, salt, cinnamon, stevia.  I am eating the same things, and in addition, I am drinking black coffee, and eating sauerkraut.  I’ve also had a can of Diet Rite (sweetened with Splenda) every couple of days, and that seems to have had no ill effect on Fiala.  Same with a cuppa black (decaf) tea once every 2-3 nights or so.  I also caved last night… but tried to cave as healthily, safely, and sugar-free as possible, so I had a handful of raw almonds.  They tasted wonderful.  So far, they don’t seem to be having any ill effects on Fiala, but I won’t do that again any time soon, if for no other reason than that they might muddy the results of any other food introductions.
  • On a spiritual note, I am spending more time reading the Word.  Ideally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read Scripture by myself in the morning.  But, “by myself in the morning” hasn’t been happening all that frequently, so I have, only since last Friday, been reading when the kids are in quiet time, even if Fiala is not down for a nap.  It doesn’t help me get any more DONE around the home;  I’m still feeling overwhelmed with things undone, but God’s word does give me peace in my heart, which I dearly need, in addition to just being better-acquainted with His character, His promises, and His voice as my Shepherd.  My husband and I are also working to stay soft towards each other, and stay open in our communication.  Tough times and tired mommy does not a chipper wife make.  So… I’m working on both filling my heart with the Bible, and working on getting to bed earlier, to take care of both my spirit and my body a little better, which makes me all-around a little more even-keeled.
  • I have also found a few resources to help me on this TED journey, but that will need to be in a separate post.

Toilet paper, nick names, losing weight, P&P, and old friends :)

  • Anyone have any suggestions for inexpensive but nice toilet paper?  The way we go through toilet paper makes installing a bidet seem like a cost-effective idea.
  • Our toilet paper situation is not helped by Audrey.  We have discovered that she, pleased with her 3yo dexterity and skill, regularly removes and throws away partially-used rolls, just so that she can install a new one.  This is one of those situations where I almost wish that I was the one doing all the chores, so I would have more oversight and catch these things more quickly.  The boys, “Oh, yeah… lots of times there are half rolls of toilet paper in the trash!”
  • Fiala’s nickname has become “Fifa.”  FEE-fuh.  Like FIFA, but with a great deal more sweet chubbiness.
  • I have determined that losing 10 pounds is enough to make one’s jeans fit much more loosely, but not really enough for anyone to notice… not even one’s husband.  Still, I weigh less now than I have in at least five years, and even if my trimness is imaginary, I feel quite good about it.  And, I freely admit that the last three pounds have been shed in the last couple of weeks, where I have been completely at a loss about what to eat, given my baby’s multiple food allergies.
  • I am re-reading Pride and Prejudice, and though I don’t often read books more than once, I am thoroughly enjoying it;  it still seems fresh.  I am amazed at how much escaped my notice, the first time through (about a year ago).  And, just to pick a fight, the movie with Keira Knightly is INFINITELY better than the BBC version with Colin Firth.
  • And, Scott, if you’re reading, Martin says, “Hi!”  And, I don’t even remember you making me cry, so obviously, it didn’t do any permanent damage.  😉  And, you have cute kids.

Lovely weather, allergies, Stellar Kart, diet results, and cloth diapers!

  • Probably, in another month or so, I will be whining about how hot it is.  So, to give balance to that, please let me express how gloriously, beautifully, unexpectedly lovely the weather has been for the last week.  Here in Phoenix in early June, highs are usually in the low 100°s.  Today, though, marked the sixth consecutive day with a high in the 90°s, mostly in the lower 90°s.  It has been so wonderful to have the kids be able to play outside, or at the park, for multiple hours in a row.  Mornings are in the 70°s.  I spent the first hour of morning outside, and finally dragged my feet inside, summoned to the needs of children.  🙂  The fine weather is supposed to last another week or so.  Amazing.  I’m very thankful.
  • Thank you all for the bloggy outpouring of love and concern and prayers for my baby Fiala!  After nearly five days of being both tree nut- and egg-free, her skin seems to be improving.  The spots are still awful, but the perimeter of them seem to be shrinking.  We did get an appointment with a dermatologist who is aware that eczema IS allergy-related, and who won’t just medicate, but will test for the trigger.  The appointment isn’t until mid-July, though.
  • I found out that Stellar Kart is giving an after-the-game concert on July 24 after the Diamondbacks play the Pirates!  Woo hoo!  I love SK, and I love the Diamondbacks, even though their season has been a mostly downward-trending roller coaster.  (They have some GREAT videos on YouTube, but for some reason, even on their official channel, the videos are disabled.)
  • This morning was a weigh-and-measure day for me.  I’m sort-of dieting (which I’ve only done twice in my life before!), and definitely exercising, both with The Firm DVDs and walking (which, when I’m in better condition, will hopefully turn back into running).  I decided that it would be a good idea to do a weekly weigh-and-measure, to motivate myself that the work is actually producing results.  My weight can fluctuate a good 5 lbs in a few days, so the weight isn’t all that big of a deal to me;  it’s more the idea of being FIT and fitting into clothing without anything pudging out over my waistband.  I still feel like exercise DVDs are corny and so unrealistic, but I am definitely getting a workout, with sweat and sore muscles.  Anyways.  I’m down a grand total of 1.6 lbs and 1 5/8″ since last week.
  • I think I’m going to switch to cloth diapers.  Golly.  The world of cloth diapering has dramatically changed in the last 10 years!!  There are 20 billion new products and options, all which overwhelm a simple girl like me.  However, I have decided that I want a product that has cotton next to my baby’s skin, and a great many of the newer cloth diapers do not.  So, I think I’ll just use the 30 or so cloth diapers I already have (plain pre-folds), which were mostly sent to me by my Grandma.  Diaper covers these days aren’t your mama’s plastic pants, either!  They’re really nice!  I have an e-mail into a lady who listed a bunch of diaper covers on Craigslist, all new, and all ¼ to ½ the price of me buying them somewhere else.  I haven’t really talked to my hubby about it.  I think he’d worry about the extra laundry for me, and he may be wise in his concern.  But, I figure if I give it a go for a good month or so, and spend less $$ on it than on a month’s worth of disposables (due to purchases on Craigslist, etc.), then he’ll likely be onboard.
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