The Dreaded Airplane

Airplane 4.13.13

I recently reserved my flight to go back home for a family reunion in July. I am absolutely ecstatic to spend some good, quality time with the fam…especially with the arrival of my newest nephew coming in June! However, I am having flashbacks to one of the last times I flew on an airplane.

It was such a horrible and embarrassing experience. As I sat in the terminal waiting to hear the announcement that it was time to board my flight, an airline employee tapped me on my shoulder and asked to see me at the counter. When I got to the desk, the woman informed me that I needed to buy a second ticket. Due to my size, I was being asked to purchase a second seat “…for the comfort and safety of yourself and other passengers.” I was assured that since the flight wasn’t full, I would be able to receive a full refund…if I filed the necessary paperwork.

Como say WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?! I was too embarrassed to say anything than ok and handed the lady my credit card. I was given a second ticket that had “RESERVED” printed in big, bold, black letters. I was told to sit it on the seat next to me so no one would sit next to me.

When it came time to board, I was given “special boarding privileges” and was one of the first people to enter the cabin. I sat next to the window and placed my “RESERVED” ticket on the seat next to me. As the plane filled, more and more passengers who were traveling together looked to sit in my row, but quickly moved on when they saw my “special” ticket. I was so ashamed and set my gaze out the window. I avoided eye contact with passengers and crew.

When I got home and reflected on my experiences I became angry. I thought, “How dare they do that to me?!” Then I started say the most horrible things to myself…calling me names and telling myself really hurtful things. Even though this was such a traumatic experience, it still wasn’t enough to make me want to change. Instead, things got worse. It was like I wanted to “show” them…you think I’m too fat to fly??? Well, just wait! I’ll show you what fat really is!

No, I didn’t really say or think that explicitly, but I remember feeling that way. Needless to say, I have some reservations about flying this summer because I realized after getting my confirmation that this flight is with the same airline. Thankfully I’m quite a bit lighter than when this event happened, but it will definitely be a test!

I don’t want to give fear power over my choices anymore. I will continue to move forward.

Where to Start: Prepping the Kitchen

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So the kitchen is going to be your new best friend when you go all in on whatever WOE you choose. I don’t know about you, but before I went low-carb, I spent a lot of time eating in my car. Fast food drive-thrus were my best friends. Greasy wrappers littered my car’s floors and my refrigerator was almost empty…except for last night’s take home containers.

Preparation is key when starting out. One of the main things I did was cleared all of the junk out of my kitchen. Anything with wheat and sugar was placed in a bag. I gave these evil foods to a few friends for their enjoyment. Pasta, bread, fruit (at first), chips, juices, potatoes, chips, popcorn (oh, my salty favorite!!!)…EVERYTHING that was not on the acceptable food list was OUT!

I have so many websites with GREAT recipes that are low-carb and easy to make. I really try to think of what I want to make for the next week or so before I go shopping. At first I kept my menu fairly simple consisting of chicken, salad, and veggies. As I learned what I liked and disliked, I was able to expand my recipe repertoire.

Then I went shopping. I wrote a few posts ago what I keep in my pantry and fridge. You can read it here. I shop mostly on the outer aisles in the grocery store…produce, meats, and dairy. With the exception of the frozen department, there’s really not much I need from the inner aisles. I always make sure I have easy and quick snacks for on the go.

Again, I have to reiterate the importance of ENJOYING what you eat. If you hate the food, this is not going to work. I encourage people to try some new things every once in a while. Pallets really change after removing processed, sugary, carby foods. Get a little adventurous and try a new veggie or recipe every now and then. That’s how I fell in love with my cauliflower pizza (read about it here)!

Where to Start: Choosing What Works For You

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I’m getting asked a lot lately, “So how are you losing all of this weight?” I usually don’t initiate conversation about my weight loss, but if someone opens the door to a discussion, LOOK OUT! I’m not shy talking about all aspects of my weight loss (except for that pesky starting weight number…I’m still not ready to divulge that information yet!).

I decided it may be helpful to start a step-by-step blog series about starting on a path to health and happiness. I’m not sure how many installments there will be, but this first post focuses on figuring out what works for you.

Each person is unique, which means what works for me, may not be right for someone else. As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, I subscribe to a low-carb way of eating. I did research about what it meant to be low-carb. I realized I didn’t have to give up my coffee with cream (at first I used heavy cream, but now it’s almond milk all the way) and sugar (stevia of course!). I could continue eating bacon (c’mon…who doesn’t love a little bacon in their life?!?!), butter, and cheese. Seemed like a WOE from heaven, right???

Well, hold on now…I then had to look at what I would have to remove from my diet. Sugar…no problem there for me. I rarely was into the sugary, baked goods and candies. Wheat…this would prove to be slightly more difficult. Wheat is in EVERYTHING!!! Breads, pastas, crackers, etc. I used to eat a lot of pasta. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be able to find several pasta substitues that I actually enjoy more than the real deal. Starchy veggies…potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, oh my! I was a french fry freak! Would I be able to break that habit??? Obviously I did, but it was really difficult the first week.

I have read a lot about how it’s so horrible to remove a food group entirely from ones diet, but I’m here to tell you that for me, it’s way more healthy. I tried Weight Watchers and counting points. I stopped after a few months. I was constantly hungry. I didn’t enjoy a lot of what I was preparing for meals, which is what this post boils down to. Figure out what you’re willing to change as far as what you eat. In order to lose the flab, the first step is figuring out a healthy WOE! Do your research before you start. It is important to prepare for changing up how you shop for groceries and cooking in the kitchen.

What I “Get” To Eat

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Most of the time, when someone goes on a “diet,” there is this self-sacrificing mentality. “I have to give up this and that and those!” Sure, I removed wheat, sugar, and some high starch vegetables from my diet, but the list of acceptable foods is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than the list of no-no’s.

When many people change their food lifestyle, especially when they are “forced” to do so due to medical issues, the focus is placed on what they will be missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown a few pity parties due to the choices I’ve made to remove certain foods from my diet, but then I remember all of the delicious foods I can still have. Nope, I can’t have popcorn anymore, which was one of my favorite snacks and has been the most difficult to find a replacement snack that is acceptable. And I really miss fruit…pineapple, apples, kiwi, peaches/nectarines, plums…the list can go on for quite a while. Popcorn and fruit…my only foods I truly miss. Although I can’t eat these right now, I can slowly add them back into my diet eventually.

So what do I do when I wish I could have popcorn??? Well, for a little while pork rinds drizzled with butter was my snack of choice. It worked for a while. I got the buttery crunch I was looking for, but it just wasn’t the same. Eventually I succumbed to the fact that there isn’t a substitute and instead stocked my cupboards with other options. I love almonds and can have these tasty treats in moderation. I love all of the fun flavors available now…cocoa roasted, wasabi soy, smoked, salt and vinegar…yum!

I guess the point of this post is to remind you and me to stay positive. Don’t focus on the “can’t haves.” Focus on the “can haves!” Life is way too short to get hung up on the short list of things I can’t have. Last week (March 6, 2013), I reached my one year anniversary of starting this journey. I would have never made it this far if I hated what I was eating! If I dreaded my food choices there would have been no way to stick with it for so long. I am living a life I can ENJOY and I don’t feel deprived!

Surgery…Not My Idea of a Good Time

HeelSpur

I’m going under the knife! I haven’t talked too much about this slight annoyance on my blog yet, but a few of my close friends and family know that I’ve been dealing with a nasty heel spur over the last 6 or so months. Well, I didn’t know that I actually had the spur until the beginning of December, but I had been experiencing some pretty intense heel pain since last May. I thought I had just bruised the bottom of my heel walking around a rocky driveway in some thin flip-flops. I was hoping it would heal up on its own, but that obviously wasn’t the case.

In December my housemate talked me into seeing my podiatrist (THANKS, SHERRI!!!) since I was walking around like a frail, old woman in the evenings. The doc took x-rays and it took him about 2 seconds to diagnose me with a heel spur. Usually a quick injection of cortisone fixes things right up, but I didn’t feel any relief. The doctor then prescribed an oral steroid to try and “amp up” the shot. Still no relief. The doctor told me to come in for another injection in which he doubled up the amount of cortisone. He told me to call him in a week to let him know how I was doing. I thought it might be working, but in the end I was still experiencing the horrible pain at night.

Pain really sucks. It makes everything 10 times worse than what it really is. My work outs started to suffer. My heel didn’t hurt when I was actually doing the work out, but I would think about what I had to deal with a few hours after exercising. I began to miss Zumba class here and there. I called my doctor and told him that I wasn’t having any relief even though I followed his instructions to a “T.”

So, back I went to his office. He reviewed my x-rays again and I told him I was interested in talking about other options to deal with the spur. My doc is very up front and said that his recommendation was to surgically remove the spur since it wasn’t responding to the steroid therapy. He also told me that this wasn’t something that could be addressed through physical therapy. The procedure is relatively easy. He will make an incision in the side of my heel, grind down the spur, and remove a nerve. The surgery takes no more than 35-45 minutes and it’s an outpatient procedure (THANK GOODNESS!!!). I’m pretty much all set to have this thing removed on February 11…only 11 days away!

After I was diagnosed with a heel spur, I did research as to why I got this nasty growth on the bottom of my foot. A bone spur forms as the body tries to repair itself by building extra bone. It typically forms in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a long period of time. A spur will form on the heel due to tight ligaments, high impact activities (such as running and dancing…so not me), or due to being overweight. DING, DING, DING…I had an explanation!

Just another reason to add to the, “Why I Am Changing My Life” list. I’m COMMITTED!!!

I know things could be worse and I am so grateful for the many blessing I have in my life. Overall, I am in good health. I have so many friends and family members who love and care about me. My doctor is top notch. I am thankful!!!

My Staples

Groceries 1.29.13

I make sure I always have low-carb options handy in my kitchen. Many people think that eating low-carb hurts the checkbook (heck, most people think healthy eating is expensive). It all depends on the effort you put into doing the research, looking for the best deals and being prepared before going to the grocery store. I will concede that if you eat steak and lobster every meal, then yes, you will notice a big difference in your wallet.

In this economy, everyone needs to be aware of where their money goes. I’ve begun loading up on cheap ground beef, chicken, and pork. I’ve even started looking through the weekly sales fliers that come out in the newspaper!!! I used to think that took a lot of time and effort for pennies worth of savings. Boy was I wrong!!!

For today’s blog post, I thought I would share some of the staple food items I keep on hand at all times (for the most part :)).

Refrigerator
Veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, zucchini, cauliflower
Dairy: butter (usually salted), cream cheese, shredded cheese (it depends on my mood, but usually mozzarella), eggs, heavy cream
Condiments: Trader Joe’s Real Mayonnaise, Trader Joe’s Wasabi Mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup

Freezer
Veggies: cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cauliflower/broccoli blend, spinach
Meats: ground beef, chicken thighs and breasts, pork roast, some sort of seafood (whatever is on sale…shrimp, cod, salmon, etc.), bacon, ground sausage

Pantry
Flaxseed Meal
Oils: EVOO, canola, coconut, Pam Cooking Spray (butter flavor)
Vinegar: apple cider, red wine, white
Canned: green beans, tuna, chicken
Artificial Sweetener: Truvia (both granular and liquid)
Nuts/Seeds: pumpkin seeds (pepitas), almonds

Spices/Herbs/Other
Cocoa Powder
Baking Powder
Extracts: lemon (pure…my FAVORITE!), maple, vanilla (pure), almond (pure)
Spices: Northwoods Blend (Penzy’s), Bangkok Blend (Penzy’s), lemon pepper, cajun, Italian seasoning
Herbs (dried): basil, rosemary, parsley, chives
Salt
Pepper

Many of these things I already had in my kitchen when I started, however it can be somewhat expensive if you don’t have a stocked refrigerator or pantry. My suggestion is to start slowly. Get the absolute essentials first and work your way to stocking up. This list is very subjective, however I use most of the items above a couple of times each week, if not daily.

I have most of the above listed items at any given time in my kitchen. Being prepared for meals and snacks is key to staying on track. I usually plan my meals at least a day in advance when I’m working. On my day off, I usually prepare something to take with me to work. This way I have easily accessible items at any given time. Makes my life super simple!

Commitment

CommitmentBracelet 1.20.13

I’ve heard a lot of comments about the commitment I have to my new lifestyle. I hear, “If I could have half of the commitment you do!” “Man, you are dedicated…it’s amazing!” “Wow, you are so serious about this!”

Yes, I am serious. I’m dedicated. I’m committed. I have to be. If I’m not, then I will go back to my old ways. I’m not going to lie, there have been some really difficult days. Today for example…I was driving down the highway and I spotted Dairy Queen. I thought about how delicious their Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzard is and really wanted to go in the drive thru. I had a creeping thought, “just this one time…I haven’t had ice cream in so long. It’s ok!” I had to slow down and tell myself, “NO! One time isn’t an option and it’s not ok.” It also helps to remember how I felt before beginning this journey. Do I want to return to that??? No, absolutely not.

I’ve also had conversations with several friends about how others can try to persuade me to eat off plan. Their logic is, “Just a little won’t hurt…come on, try it.” Well, yes, in fact a little will hurt. If I had “just a little bit” every time someone told me it would be ok I would be eating off plan quite frequently.

Everyday is a choice for me…the choice to continue on the path to good health or the choice to turn around and go back to where I came from. I don’t want to go back. The plan is to continue to learn and move forward. This past week I purchased the bracelet above (FierceForward on Etsy.com) as a reminder of the commitment I have made to myself. I was a mess when I first started my journey. I wasn’t treating myself the way I would treat someone I love and I deserve to be treated with love and respect.