My Health Journey – The Low Carb Years

When I got to collage, things got REAL. I didn’t have parental support and knew that if I was going to make it there, it was all on me. I had no concept of money and the cost of living plus my education expenses took every dime I had. We joke about the crap food we ate, but thats all we either made time for or could afford. Forget fitness or diets, I had no time or interest for either anymore. All my efforts were focused on work, studies, and making ends meet.

After my first year, I landed a pretty sweet job as a cell phone sales associate and my money situation drastically improved. That was when we starting eating out a great deal and drinking a fair amount of beer.

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Now we had extra money to spend on eating out and buying beer. Let the good times roll!

Often we reminisce about hangovers at Ryan’s buffet and how we would smuggle cookies out with us for a late night dessert after we were already so stuffed from pigging out while we were there. Me and my roommate would have an evening out at Red Lobster, each ordering the Captains Platter. We were out of control and by spring of my second year at college it showed!

In 2 years I was very unhappy with my weight gain and tried hiding it chunky knit sweaters and layers.

My wake up call came after a cruise with some friends. After we got the pictures developed, I was horrified. I couldn’t believe how fluffy I looked in them. How did I let it go this far again? If it’s the freshman 15, then it must be the sophomore 20.

 

Wake up call cruise

I knew I had to make some changes and luckily an episode of the View helped me do just that. I saw Susan Somers on the View and decided what she had was for me. She talked about being able to eat all the fat and cheese she wanted. After the episode, I made a trip over to books a million and bought the latest copy of her book. I will never forget one of the headlines “Fat- Eat To Your Heart’s Content”. I was thrilled! Oh and no working out necessary? Sign me up.

 

Introduction to Low-carb eating

Then I went on to read that sugar and alcohol was off limits. What!? I lived on sugar. I agreed with Buddy Elf, I tried to stick to the four main food groups: Candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. Well, not that bad, but I did have a problem. Oh and a decent amount of beer. I loved sugar! I ate it all the time when the low-fat craze was popular. This was totally different, scary, and yet a little exciting. I had been fat deprived for years and the idea of eating as much as I wanted of it sounded delicious! No more low-fat dressings and cheese!  And so began my decent into the low carb canyon.

 

I was eating a lot more veggies and 
I was proud of that.

 

Additions to my Low-carb Library 

Ironically, I found artificial sweeteners, full fat,  and veggies at the same time! What an adventurous season. My stomach was in minor distress, but who cares, I was going to get skinny and everything tastes amazing! Or it did at first. I lost a good deal, plateaued and then I noticed I was putting weight back on. You see, I was living on mostly meat and cheese and it felt kind of gross . Mrs. Somers failed to mention in her best seller how awful cravings would become. That the simple act of a friend eating her salad cracker would send me into a spiral of benging on white bread and cereal for days.

 

Eating low carb did teach me some healthier habits. For example, I started to really enjoy salads and all my meals now contained some kind of green veggie. Quitting sugar was a good thing right? Well yeah, but not when you replace it with artificial sweeteners. I was putting it in and on everything I wanted or needed sweet. This is turn, made my body crave the real thing. There is a ton of research now linking artificial sweeteners to increased weight gain and myriad of other scary health risks. Since I stopped eating artificial sweeteners I no longer have those intense sugar cravings. I can actually enjoy a sweet treat occasionally and not loose complete control.

When I started gaining weight again, I ramped up my research and looked beyond the low-carb, no exercise advice I was following. It was then That I came across “Body For Life” by Bill Phillips. His plan was much more balanced.  He didn’t eliminate entire food groups and he also explained why exercise was important.

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Oscar and I were on board together!

Stay tuned! In my next post, I’ll detail our experience with Bill and our love-hate relationship with exercise.

As so my library of diet and nutrition books starts to grow.

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My Health Journey Part II

My relationship with food evolved over the years. As a young girl, I found a great deal of comfort in food. After the death of my mom in 1994, and then again in 98 with Grandmas loss, I took in food as a friend and consoler. It was comforting and always there. While grieving all the loss and change in my life, it was my one constant. After all, it is the center of so many activities. When with family, friends, or just by myself food was always a familiar presence. Others around me seemed to feel the same way. It was normal, right? When you are happy, EAT! Grieving, EAT more! Celebrating a special occasion, eat all your favorite foods in one day!

The 2 years following my mother’s death I gained about 30 pounds. Here I was, headed into high school finding comfort in food but shame with how my body looked. I can remember coming down with a cold, going to the doctor where I had to be weighed and feeling shocked and numb by the number I saw on the scale. Mortified and embarrassed, I decided my relationship with food had to change. I made it my mission to get educated and take action.

I know, I know this hair is wild. It took years to get it right! This was taken the Fall following my Mom’s death.

Even with my new found determination and recently acquired knowledge, it was a constant battle. I remember trying to cut calories by skipping lunch but then pigging out after school. I tried dexatrim diet pills sold at my local K-Mart retailer. Oh and lets not forget the tasty shakes from slim-fast that made me just want fries and a burger to go with it. I continued a low-fat, high carb diet for the most part. It was the way of the time. All the health magazines and dieting groups were advocating it. I ate fruit loops and skim milk for Breakfast. A can of regular soda for lunch. A ham and cheese sandwich with rice crispy treat as a snack and maybe a small plate of whatever we were having for dinner. That, for me, usually contained meat and some other form of starch. I felt famished or sluggish often but thought that was the price I had to pay in order to achieve my goals.

Picture on the left was about the time I realized I wanted to make a change.  A couple years later on the right, I had made some progress in my new mission.

Eventually, I found the gym and some minor success with weight management but more importantly community and stress relief. I picked up some good habits and advice at the gym. I learned about the importance of veggies as well as how regular exercise was key to maintaining a healthy fit body.

Finishing up high school I was in good place overall , exercising and avoiding most junk food but then college and all was lost for a while….

On my Senior trip I felt good about my body.


In my next post I’ll take you back to my “freshmen 15” experience and introduction to low-carb dieting.

Mood Boosting With Exercise

I am simply unmotivated to work out because I could get an amazing body or even drop a few pounds. However, when I have a case of moodiness or feeling a bit grumpy my workout always turns it around!

According to J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise psychologist, “When your body comes under stress or experiences pain (hello, burpees), neurochemicals called endorphins are produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort. They can also help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.” He further explains, “Endorphins are also involved in natural reward circuits related to activities such as feeding, drinking, sexual activity and maternal behavior.”

So there you have it folks, exercise is a natural pain killer and stress reducer! In my experience you don’t have to put in hours at the gym to reap these benefits. I have taken 20 minute brisk walk and felt these wonderful side effects of moving my body.

For more information about the psychology of exercise and the brain. Read the book Spark by John J. Ratey. It was such an eye opening book about medicine and how our bodies can produce many of the chemicals we need by just exercising.

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Get your copy here:

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Kombucha is Ready

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Well it’s officially ready!

It is so yummy! I had more fizz this time than anytime I have made it in the past. This was my first 2nd ferment. I am really surprised by how apple it tastes. I only added 2-3 oz per jar. I know from fermenting veggies in the past that putting any spice or herb in the jars intensifies a great deal so I will need to remember that when making future batches!

The hubby approves as well! I have a couple more jars in the pantry that I didn’t think had enough fizz and I am planning to leave overnight to see what happens. Then on to the next brew!  I am sure this batch won’t be around long…

How To Make Healthy Choices On a Busy Day


I’ve got a busy day ahead but I can’t let that be an excuse to make unhealthy food choices and skip my workout! The secret to getting it done? Make a plan!

I am making my plan early and looking at my list of “must do’s” for the day. It’s longer than usual but having a plan will ensure that it all gets done. I am going to complete my reading and blogging early, next getting my workout in; even if I have to chase a toddler around to get it done!

Clothes are chosen and steamed.

I have healthy snacks and a shake packed in a bag along with a water bottle that can be refilled. And that should do it! Of course, the unexpected can always happen but being flexible about your plan can reduce stress and help you get the most our of day!

Happy Thursday, make the day great!

Invest In Yourself

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If you feel like you are caught in a health rut, don’t let yourself stay there. Let’s work together to achieve the best health of your life! It doesn’t take hours of your time and a great deal of money. In as little as 30 minutes per day and small changes to your diet you could be achieving many of your health and fitness goals!

Aren’t you worth it? Reach out today and find the support you need to be the best version of yourself!

10 Healthy Lunch Tips

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A Follow up to my last post, here are a few lunch swaps to keep your health in check.

  1. Pass on the bread and the croutons.
  2. Opt of for the broth based soups instead of creamy.
  3. Drink water or unsweetened tea with Lemon.
  4. Skip the cheese and add avocado in its place.
  5. Substitute low fat greek yogurt for mayo.
  6. Wrap you sandwich in lettuce or cabbage leaf.
  7. Add mustard, pickles, and peppers to flavor salads and sandwiches.
  8. Swap turkey for beef.
  9. Add salsa to salads and baked potatoes.
  10. Enjoy corn tortillas instead of flour.