Thursday, August 28

How to Lose Weight and Feel Great

Haven’t we all heard this one!

When New Year’s rolled around this year, we promised ourselves we were going to lose weight. But we weren’t diligent about it, in fact I think we put on more weight. Looking for yet another holy grail, I started reading about diets and nutrition, and one thing led to another, and then another, and exciting new worlds opened up. I learned some pretty shocking stuff, too.

I eliminated a few things from my diet, and I have done so well that people have asked me to share what I’ve learned. It’s a vast, complex subject and I’ve tried to distill it down to as few words as I can. At the end of the post there are links to resources if you want to explore further.

I started on this path with the Paleo Diet, which basically asserts that man has not yet evolved to eat modern food. Fundamentally, if you eat like our paleo ancestors, you will lose weight naturally and be a better person (just kidding about that last part).

Along the way I learned about wheat and gluten and how good ol’ American wavin’ wheat has been modified to increase its yield tenfold and make it more resistant to pests and drought, and make the stalks easier to harvest. In other words, it ain’t your grandma’s wheat, and the extraordinary high amounts of gluten in modern wheat are making some people sick. We weren’t meant to eat the seeds of grasses; they’re for cows.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Celiac Disease, it’s the buzz these days. Celiac is an autoimmune disease and you can’t get the nutrients from your food. But it’s actually pretty rare, and that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I AM talking about are the 50% of people who are sensitive to gluten and don’t know it.

Grains cause inflammation in our bodies, and inflammation is responsible for a number of health problems that get worse as we get older. Things like coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and more. When you get a bug bite or bang your knee, it becomes swollen and inflamed. This something you know, because you can see it. Well, the same thing goes on quietly inside you, in your arteries, your intestines, your joints.

I have eaten bread my whole life without any ill effects. But the more I read about grains and how bad they are for your health…well, I decided to quit eating them for a while. I saw marked improvements in my health, and the weight is coming off easily. I also gave up sugar, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s what happened: In the four months that I have not had wheat, I have not had a migraine. For decades I suffered several migraines a month, each lasting 2-3 days. Then I started noticing I have not had a canker sore in a long time either—I used to get those a couple times a month and I never knew why. I would get gunky sinus drainage at night, and my nose was often plugged up. That’s gone, too—I can breathe! Stiff, achy joints are a memory, and I have ankles now! Wow!

I decided to do an experiment to see what would happen if I stopped taking my asthma meds. Ordinarily, if I forgot to take it, I would have symptoms by the end of the day. I am now into my second week of not taking asthma meds and I have zero wheezing or tightness in my chest. Asthma…gone! (That medication was expensive!) And that’s just the stuff I can tell. I have no idea what is going on in my arteries or liver. Or my brain.

In four months I lost 20 pounds (so far) without trying very hard.

So let’s cut to the chase. I gave up wheat. Pizza. Bagels. Donuts. Big, fat blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls. Cookies. Whole grain bread. Even cereal—especially cereal! It may be labeled “Heart Healthy,” or “Natural,” but that’s just marketing. I won’t eat them because they are toxic and they were making me fat and sick. I’ve told you before about the food pyramid and how it was devised by the USDA to benefit agriculture. And how it was based on bad science. Remember Ancel Keyes?

So what do I eat? Answer: Everything else! Meat, chicken, fish. Beautiful, fresh vegetables with butter and salads with dressing. Eggs. Cheese. Fluffy cheddar omelets for breakfast. Nuts. Avocados. Bacon! I might have some dark chocolate for dessert, or raspberries with whipped cream. How easy is that.

We no longer eat processed food because it’s full of stuff that wears out your body. Intrinsically we all know this, but processed food is convenient and readily available. But eventually it catches up with us. We get fat around our middle and it’s harder to lose weight and keep it off, our blood pressure goes up, our cholesterol gets out of whack, our organs are stressed…the list goes on.

The other side of the coin is sugar. Sugar is poison. It’s poison and it’s addicting. The food companies know it—processed foods are designed to be addictive by scientists who develop the right balance of sweet/salty/fat “bliss point,” so you will want more. It’s a three Trillion dollar industry.

Even worse than sugar is high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is in everything because it’s cheaper than sugar. But the body doesn’t process it like sugar, instead it goes straight to the liver to get stored. That’s one reason kids today are getting fatter and fatter. We were lucky that we didn’t get raised on that stuff, but it’s in our food today. Look in your pantry. It’s everywhere. Sugar also has many disguises; evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup…because the manufacturers don’t want you to know.

In a nutshell, sugar raises your insulin levels, and what you don’t burn is stored as fat. Eventually the insulin can’t keep up with the demand and your blood sugar stays high. Over time, this leads to obesity Type 2 Diabetes. It’s way more complicated than that, but that’s the Cliff's Notes version.

One more thing, just when you thought it was safe, Aspartame is ten times worse for you.

It’s not easy to give up sugar and wheat, because they are addicting. You even go through withdrawal. But it’s only a few days, it’s kind of like jet lag. And then you wake up. I mean, you WAKE UP! It’s like a veil is lifted and you have energy and your brain lights up. Your body will start to burn fat instead of glucose for energy. Glucose burns quickly, that’s why you get hungry in a few hours. Once you start burning fat, which burns longer and slower, you DON’T GET HUNGRY. That’s what I find amazing. No hunger.

You do have to read labels. But I’ve found it’s just easier to not eat anything that comes in a box and only buy foods without a nutrition label.

The takeaway is this: We’ve been fed a load of crap.

Get rid of the foods that are making you sick. Investigate on your own, I’ve provided some links if you want to learn more.

Paleolithic Diet

Modern Wheat

Ancel Keys

Food Pyramid

The Darker Side of Wheat

Leaky Gut

Gluten and Inflammation

Your Brain on Gluten

Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome

The Cholesterol Myth

Glycemic Index

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

HFCS

Aspartame

Gary Taubes

Dr. David Perlmutter

Maria Emmerich

Dr. Mark Hyman

Saturday, August 23

My First Rodeo

You’ve heard that saying? Not my first rodeo? Today I went to the rodeo! There is a working ranch (Rancho Mission Viejo, which is the name of the town in which I reside) just over yonder in the San Juan River valley and the rodeo came to town. It was pretty cool. Actually it was pretty hot.
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I liked the rodeo, it was a good time. Exciting. 1-IMG_1283

I’m pretty sure this cowboy (he’s under the horse) had some broken ribs. 1-IMG_1258

Six year old Savannah wanted to do the bungee thing.
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After the rodeo they had a country band and the dance floor filled up. Michelle and Savannah cut it up.
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Yeehaw. My darling Michelle.
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Tuesday, August 12

What’s New?

Actually not a whole lot, which, in and of itself, is refreshing. We are settling in and finally able to just live life. Which, to me, means doing nothing if I want. There’s a lot to be said for that. I even watched golf on TV for two days—something I rarely sit still long enough to do, but it was an exciting tournament.

Around the house, we replaced the dinky chandelier with this one. It’s still not massive like some of ‘em, but we like simple, clean lines.

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We still enjoy eating our meals at the dining table, we never sit at the counter to eat. This is a habit I like.

We put up some fans. Well WE didn’t, we had some guys do it. All the metal fixtures in our house are brushed nickel; faucets, handles, etc. so we put this in the living room. I dig it.
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We have been getting to know our neighbors and of course we are all interested in seeing how each others’ houses turned out. It’s amazing how different they each are inside. Some are gorgeous, some cause you to wonder what they were thinking.

Back to fans: The furniture in the studio/guestroom is white, so I went with a white fan here. I like the sleek, contemporary look. I don’t like those goofy flower lights hanging down, in fact I didn’t want a light at all but try finding a fan without one.
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I just learned that the new blackout shade will be here Friday. Wow! Three weeks early—that never happens! Meanwhile we have been using these paper ones from Home Depot. They actually work great. They don’t come all the way down, but they do the job. I roll up the middle ones in the morning to let the air and light in. 1-DSCF1357

This is the wretched light outside the bedroom; hateful thing that it is. But we’ll fix it, we’ve got all kinds of weapons in our arsenal, one of which is a big, dense bush. No progress on the landscaping—he’s doing the house below us first. I think most of the topsoil (clay) has blown in our windows and is on every surface inside. But I don’t care, I love the ocean breezes. Besides, that’s what vacuums are for. 

Sure is a tall fence, isn’t it—but we can hear coyotes yapping all around us at night, so we think it’s a good thing.1-DSCF1361-001

Did I ever show you the bathroom? It’s got a free-standing cast iron tub. We chose that option because the standard one was built into a big tile surround and jutted out into the room, taking all the space. We rarely use a tub but they can’t NOT put one in. It’s code or something. A couple people have had theirs taken out. Like I said, some things cause you to wonder.

You could swing-dance in this room and not get hurt. That niche is just begging for some accent color and art, dontcha think? 1-DSCF1359

I took this picture earlier today to show you something but now I’ve forgotten what it was. I love this kitchen. Love it, love it, love it.
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I took this picture to send to my son who doesn’t have internet right now. I wanted him to see that I have lost my double chin and fat neck. So I mize well show you, too. Now if I could just get that loose skin to firm up. At my age I don’t think that’s gonna happen on its own.
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Here’s a picture taken in April. 1-DSCF1288

The rest of me is looking better, too. I have shrunk two sizes and my clothes are sloppy. The pants that I surreptitiously left unbuttoned beneath my shirt are now baggy and loose. We both look scrawny in our clothes—it’s laughable. We didn’t want to buy new clothes while we’re still shrinking, but we may have to.

I feel years younger, I have more energy, joint pain and stiffness has disappeared, and I still have not had a migraine! I was hesitant to blame such a seemingly benign substance as wheat, but now I am convinced: Grains and sugar are toxic. 

Friday, August 1

August Begins

And I’m  happy to report the moving is just about done. We only have a few little things left to do; we can actually relax and goof off.

For one thing, we are going to replace this puny pip-squeak of a chandelier. This is a “production” house, and they give you builder-grade (read: cheapest shit possible) everything and it all pretty much needs to be replaced. Like the cheesy plastic TP holders that I replaced with pretty rings that match the faucets. Very shi-shi.

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This is the replacement chandelier below. I assembled it yesterday. We are waiting for the ceiling fans to arrive and be assembled and our handyman will put them up. We have a handyman! Yay! J is brilliant with numbers and finances; installing and fixing things are not where his talents shine. I’ve got the knack but I can’t reach the ceiling.

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We laid the sisal rug (Pottery Barn). We like it, it gives the room a casual, beachy air, which is what we’re going for. We need to reposition it a little, which requires lifting the sectional, and then we’ll stick it down with rug tape so we don’t trip on the edges. It’s a loose weave, so it tends to shift a little, and the tape will help with that too.

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We had the blind guy come and take back the horrid blackout shade from the bedroom window and we are replacing it with something softer and so much nicer. The glass doors span practically the entire wall and there is a bright streetlight on the street below, perfectly positioned to blast us all night—you could read a book by that light. Then the rising sun blasts in. It will be 5 weeks before the new shades arrive, but it will be worth it in the end. The first one….oh, it’s a long story.

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When we plant grasses along the fence, you won’t see the houses on the street below. I completed the landscape concept-drawing and as soon as the HOA approves our plan, landscaping will begin…in about six weeks. Three is space for a small hot tub—I am jazzed about that.

There is art happening in the studio! I have a great spot for a quilt over the fireplace, and I am getting my groove on. Well, trying to, anyway. I discovered yesterday I can’t quite remember how to do it! Once I get started it’ll be fine, but it has been a long time since I did this particular procedure. The design wall is up and still has threads on it from previous projects. Fabric is screaming to come out of storage! Can you hear it?

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This is the view out my studio window, hence the screen marks. It is cool and peaceful here in the morning, the workers are up on the hill clearing sagebrush from the trails. There are several trails that wind around our little enclave. I haven’t gone hiking yet, but I will. It’s been pretty hot lately. But nights and mornings are cool. I love the air here. LOVE IT! We can hear the coyotes at night.

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In spite of all the upheaval we have stuck to our diets, except that wine seemed to find it’s way back into the program and it really slows the weight loss. I weigh once a month (today) and the official count is 16 pounds. In August I will get back to boot camp and kick butt—I have committed to lose 6 pounds this month, which is pretty aggressive.

We are starting to take daily morning walks around the ‘hood and the hip is 99.6% better. I haven’t found time for golf practice yet, but I will next week. I’m getting the itch. My handicap card says 00 now—too much time elapsed since I played (February). I have to start over and establish a new handicap all over again.

Sunday, July 20

Making Serious Progress

There is nothing like having houseguests to get one off their assets and finish (pretty much) in three days work that could easily be procrastinated for a couple weeks. Friends Mike and Marty are coming Wednesday. So we kicked it into high gear over the weekend.

Basically what that means is, we hung the art. What a difference art makes! And wonder of wonders, it all fit, with room for a new piece or two! Unbelievable. We have a lot of art. It took two days to get it all up.

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The armoire is 110% too big for the room but whaddaya gonna do. I don’t have a quilt that’s perfect for that spot over the fireplace, so I’m going to make one. It’ll be a great project to help me get back in the groove.

We exchanged the tan faux-suede barstools for chocolate leather ones and we like ‘em! Yay! We thought we’d sit at the counter for breakfast, but we find we like the dining table more. The view is nice and the breeze is heavenly. The chandelier will get changed out as soon as I have time to shop for one. DSCF1337

This is J’s office (my desk is on the right, out of the picture). He likes his art hung high. It’s his room <shug>.DSCF1339

This is the hall that leads to the powder room. The afternoon sun was blasting through the window so I closed the door. DSCF1340

Looking through the front door. Sorry about the boxes—they’re gone now. We got that rug in Turkey. It’s silk and beautifully iridescent. We usually hang it on a wall but this time we hung it on the floor. DSCF1341

Here’s our front. The windows are the studio/guestroom. That’s Bud parked in front. I decided to not sell it. It’s only got 23,000 miles on it and it costs nothing to keep it. We have other things we want to spend our money on right now. House stuff. DSCF1342

Here’s our little “California Room.” Like the furniture? Check out that view reflected in the windows. DSCF1343

This is our bedroom. It’s pretty small. Rather, our furniture is pretty big. I am standing outside to take the picture. I wonder how long it will be before I hook my little toe on that bench on my way to the bathroom in the night. DSCF1344

In other news…there really is no other news. I took a longer walk today and my hip barely hurt at all. The walking is painful (but not very much) and it makes it feel stronger/better in the long run, and each day it hurts less. By the time we get all this house stuff done, I’ll be ready to go to the golf practice range. Next week maybe.

I love it here. I am so happy we did this. It’s a lot of work right now, but it’s worth it and we’re in a good place.

Wednesday, July 16

Little by Little

We are getting it all done.

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Inside, we are just about ready to hang the art. The window shades (stacked at the top of the windows) are in. We should get the cardboard boxes out soon—you get one chance to have them picked up, and we have just a couple more boxes to empty. The rug you see will be replaced by a sisal one if it ever gets here. I am shopping for light-colored pillows to lighten up the red sofa. When I find the time, that is. I loved the beachy ones at Pottery Barn but they are all sold out and the fall/winter colors are coming in. I knew I should have bought them in April but we had no place to keep them. Oh well.

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We got the above barstools from Pottery Barn and we hate them. They are going back today. They are faux suede and just all wrong. They’re pretty massive, but then the island IS more like a continent. Some of the junk on the right side of the picture is still waiting there for us to disperse it somewhere. I love the kitchen. I love the whole house. We get wonderful ocean breezes through that window at the dining area. I am over the moon with the AIR here!

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I got the studio done, everything is put away…quilts will get hung in here, but we haven’t gotten that far yet. See how the shade color looks different against the walls? In “real life” they are the same color. The walls always wash out to off-white in photos. The are really tan, about the color of the sofa.

That’s Bud (my SUV) outside the window. My SIL was going to buy it but changed his mind. Now I have to sell Bud first. Disappointing, but at least I can take my TIME now. I was crunched to get wheels ASAP before he gave it back. There are just too many other things vying for my time. I had been shopping online and now every car dealer north of the border has my number and wants my business. You can imagine. We’ve stopped answering the phone.

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J got the office done. Everything fit, but just barely. I can’t show you the bedroom because ONE of us is still sleeping. We got the blackout shade yesterday (finally!!) but it’s all wrong and now I have to fight with the Blind Guy to pretty much take it and shove it. We are very disappointed with the shades. Quite a few of them are just plain wrong. We will have to start over in many rooms. Really pisses me off. I don’t have time for this.

We found a Landscape Guy. Yesterday we went to some neighbors’ houses and looked at the landscaping he had done there and liked it. We like him, too. So that’s a load off. Now I have to make specific, to-scale drawings for approval. Landscape Guy tells me “they” are being really persnickety so I have to do a precise job. Or pay an architect. We’re considering the latter.

In other news, my sore and stiff back and hips are quieting down and easy mobility has returned. Yoga classes have started up but I’m not ready for that yet. My book club met yesterday and it was a good time. I love the book—so far—(All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr) but I didn’t get much read in the small window of time I had—I joined late because of Moving Day.

The diet is still going well, even though I have recently been drinking wine at night to help ease the achy joints. (That was my excuse anyway.) Wine and weight loss don’t mix, so I need to cut that out. My clothes are too big and I’m digging in the archives of the closet to find what was previously too small. The new Chico’s top that I only wore once before I shrunk it in the wash now fits. It feels great to be thinner! But the best news of all is, NO MIGRAINE IN 3 MONTHS since I quit eating wheat.

Well, time to run, everyday errands still need to get done. Thanks for stopping by. Life is good.

Sunday, July 6

A Journey of 1,000 Miles

We are making progress, but it’s at a snail’s pace. There is so much to do and we really need to be about 15 years younger for this. We are tired. Everything you want to do you have to move two things in front of it before you can get to it.

I figure if I waited until everything was ship-shape to show some pictures, it might be several months before I checked in.

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This is the dining area (duh), we actually use it every day now. Before, we just walked past it. You can see the island, which is more like a continent. You may remember the granite story; we ended up taking the standard granite upgrade and, while it ain’t a show-stopper, it’s nice enough and we’re fine with it. We bought three barstools at Pottery Barn yesterday (to be delivered).

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I like the new Samsung 3-door fridge, it wouldn’t hold enough for a family but it’s plenty big enough for the two of us. Is it shiny or what! Lordy! When we shopped for it I was more interested in its inside than its outside and paid no attention to how shiny it is. Someone told me to watch out for that but I didn’t remember it at the time.

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Moving to the right, this is the laundry room. We upgraded it (size). The extra cabinets here are so welcome because there isn’t that much storage in the kitchen. We upgraded the kitchen cabinets: All the shelves pull out so you don’t have to get down on your knees to find what’s gone missing in the back of the cabinet. It’s a great concept but you give up a lot of shelf space for it. I love the new Samsung washer and dryer; very efficient and quiet. What you can’t see to the left is a pantry. It is full with kitchen equipment that wouldn’t fit in the kitchen.

Here is a wider angle shot of the kitchen. IMG_1197

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This is our backyard barbecue, LOL! The window you see is the dining room. I’m going to sketch out some landscape ideas next week. The houses on both sides of us are still empty. The house you can see, they have issues with their tile floor and have not closed yet. The house on the other side, behind me, fell out of escrow. Too bad—they were a delightful couple. The house was decorated really weird (IMO)—all white. White walls, white cabinets… So far they haven’t been able to sell it. I hope we don’t get creepy neighbors—a woman who was looking at it the other day was a real nut job. We know this because she was asking US all kinds of questions about it…and arguing with us. WTF?

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This is the view. Or at least a part of it—it’s practically 180 degrees of wonderfulness. We are going to plant grasses at the fence (which the camera lens is poked through) to camouflage the houses below. There is a major intersection down there, you may be able to see it, and traffic will increase exponentially over the next few years as the area to the east is built out. They have graded two of the “corners” for retail, which will be both a blessing and a curse. There was a time I would have been majorly upset about the growing traffic noise and light pollution, but that’s civilization. There is a streetlamp on the street below that shines directly into our bedroom, but nothing can be done about that either—thank goodness I ordered blackout shades for the bedroom (if they ever get here we will get a good night’s sleep), but it will make climbing in and out of the [future] hot tub interesting. Just a little privacy issue that needs mitigating. NBD.

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Finally, here is the studio/guest room. It is a nice space, plenty big. I have a LOT of work to do in here. We made huge progress yesterday—everything that belonged in the closet was in the room, and everything that belonged in the room was in the closet—at least we got the big items in the right places. The big shelf units we brought from the desert house don’t fit. In fact, we have a lot of things that don’t fit, not only the quantity but the furniture is scaled about 110% too large for the house. It’s like trying to fit six pounds of shit into a five-pound bag.

In other news, I lent Bud (my big SUV) to SIL Chris, who wants to buy it. Which means I can get my new car soon (as soon as he pays me)—and that’s kinda fun.

I joined some clubs; I joined the women’s golf club at San Juan Hills, and here at Gavilan I joined a book club, a quilting/stitching club, and a yoga class. All of which I have yet to attend.

Another club I joined as of July 1 is Medicare! Yep, I am officially a card-carrying senior citizen! Where DID middle-age go… The government is supporting us both now! Ha ha!

We are still watching our diets—for the most part—a couple of celebrations got in the way, but we are vigilant and we are losing. We are progressing at a snail’s pace on that too, but making progress.

That’s about all for now. I hope all is well in your world, I haven’t had time to check in with any of your blogs. Sorry about that. I’m on a Facebook diet, too. I have added a lot more time to my day since I stopped doing FB. That’s another habit I can do without.