‘All You Can Eat’, That’s Me (For Real Y’all)

Literally, in the lives of mosquitoes everywhere, I am simply known as ‘Golden Corral’ Buffet. ¬†ūüėí

I have no idea why mosquitoes and gnats and every other winged insect is attracted to me. Haven’t been able to attract a brutha in all my natural life but 10 minutes outside and I’m slappin’ myself all over the place because of mosquito love.

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I’m going to be ready for these little beasts this year. Growing up, I played outside a lot during summer. By Fall, my arms and legs were scarred and stabbed pretty bad from infected bites. I still get some alarming reactions to bites on occasion.

All this Deet stuff is not for me. Yes, I know it works but I just can’t cover my skin in whatever chemical is in those bottles and cans; it burns, stings, etc. ¬†I’m not saying you shouldn’t – you need to do what works for you. For me, Homemade Bug Balm worked.

I made this recipe late last summer and never really had a chance to use it so it rode in my car all winter until this week. The first night I was outside before dusk working away, by the time I came inside I was itchin’ like ‘cray’. I remembered the balm in my car so on the next night (more yard work to be done) I opened the jar, sniffed it (still smelled the essential oils), dug out a small amount, rubbed it on my exposed legs, ankles, arms and hands and went to digging trenches and planting more herb plants.

Let me tell you! Not ONE BITE all evening. All manner of insect stayed clear – mosquitoes, gnatty little winged-critters, crawly things – I had my own little bug-free aura going on. An additional benefit… my skin was so soft.

I used a simple recipe I found online. There are several out there but I had most of the ingredients on hand for the one I used. Follow the link for directions.

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You can find essential oils all over the internet these days. I have several friends who sell them so if y’all want to post your links or contact info in the comments below go ahead. ¬†I bought Beeswax pellets on eBay. Like I said, there are several easy to make bug repellant recipes online, both balm and spray varieties…check out a few.

I am going to make more of this and put in little 2 oz and 4 oz jars to keep everywhere and to give away to itchy friends. ¬†I’d feel much better slathering this on children too.

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Try it! You’ll like it! ¬†Everyone will like it…except mosquitoes and their kin!

Buzzzzzzzzz off bugs!

Eat Your Veggies – They’re Free!

Eat your veggies!”
You don’t have to tell me twice.¬† Fortunately, I love vegetables; I mean from the hard-core, dark leafy green ones to the orange and yellow root ones.¬† OK, I’m not so much a lima bean and sweet pea girl, mainly because of the texture, not the taste.¬† However, Split Pea soup is one of my favorites – go figure.

In our house when I was growing up, my mother, cooked lots of vegetables, so I really never had a chance not to like them.¬† Although we ate corn, mixed vegetables and such, she didn’t consider those to be ‘real’ vegetables.¬† If she did make those, they were treated more like a side dish to go along with the hard-core vegetables (greens, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, etc.. haha!

I do remember when she introduced broccoli to me, at around 10 years old.¬† She steamed it and covered it in melted cheese.¬† Yum!¬† I could do that.¬† Then, eventually, the amount of cheese was gradually lessened and after a while no cheese at all was added… straight broccoli.¬† She introduced lots of veggies to me that way – never really forcing it but mainly just shared her love of them and it sorta rubbed off on me.

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Anyway, I’m not much of a ‘cook’ per se, but, I cook 3-5 different kinds of vegetables per week for two reasons; 1) because I really do like them, and 2) I call them my free food – they fill you up and keep you healthy too. In the beginning of my ‘get healthy journey’, I used to count every calorie throughout the day, but because I eat so many vegetables, I was not meeting my caloric intake by the end of the day.¬† Seriously,¬† you can eat mounds of vegetables in a day and end up eating only about 500 calories. That’s a good thing in a way but I had to start NOT counting any of my veggie calories – hence, Free Food! So now, whenever I am hungry, I go to any number of vegetables and the calories don’t even count.¬† Nice!

This week’s veggie menu includes:

Rutabagas – I have these about once per month!¬† I buy it fresh – yep, a big old wax ball of a vegetable.¬† They used to be really difficult to peel and cut but I noticed a couple of years ago that they are now really easy to cut. I’m guessing a new variety has been developed.

Green Beans РI buy Whole Frozen Green from Publix.  Publix frozen vegetables are so good Рno stems, really fresh tasting, and they often have a sale of 8 bags for $10.

Spinach – I bought fresh this week; although in a pinch, I will buy these frozen too.

Cucumbers – Cucumbers are like the snack food of choice – looooow calories, crunchy, and filling because they are mostly water.¬† I sometimes will put them in a bowl, sprinkle with Himalayan salt and coarse black pepper, and spritz with Rice Vinegar for a bit of a sweet/tart flavor. You can down a ton of cukes and you’ll be weight safe.

Big Red Bell Peppers – Boy do I love these too.¬† I found out if I buy organic ones, they don’t get slimy by day 4 of being sliced in the fridge.¬† Interesting, huh?¬† Sometimes the organic ones cost less than the non-organic ones. I eat them raw, and treat them like the cukes with salt, pepper and vinegar sometimes.

(Frozen Whole Baby Okra ) – was on the menu to cook, but after making all the others stuff I decided not to cook these.¬† Might have been too much.¬† These are delicious too.¬† I get them from Publix also – they are small, tender, and tasty.¬† None of the big ‘ol tree bark tasting ones that are often put in bags of frozen okra.¬† I will steam them mid-week if I run out.

Y’all think I’m joking when I say I love veggies huh?¬† Well, get this … I do often eat them for breakfast.¬† I’m not a big fan of most breakfast foods.¬† I don’t like sugary and bready things in the morning because I found out that if I eat that in the morning, it triggers my hunger button and I end up being hungry all day long.¬† However if I eat protein and veggies in the morning my appetite seems to be more balanced all day and I have less of a tendency to want to munch.¬† I know it’s crazy – and I’ve been laughed at more than once over the years about it but it’s all in fun.¬† Broccoli, okra, salad, green beans, greens, and spinach have all been on my breakfast menu before.

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About proteins – I’ve never been a big meat eater, and at one time I could have probably been considered a vegetarian but after a few years of battling anemia I decided to eat more meat.¬† So along with all these vegetables, I throw in chicken and salmon quite often, and once every couple of months, I will buy 1-lb of the best, organic, lean grass-fed ground beef I can afford and make 2 oz patties for each day of the week.¬† It’s just enough to keep my body and mind happy.

That’s it – so what vegetables do you plan to have this week?

Let me know if you have any questions!

Peace and Love!

Weigh In – Way Out!

For a two-year period in recent years, I decided I would stop weighing myself and let my ‘good sense’ and visual analysis (a.k.a mirror check) dictate if I was climbing up the scales or not. Bad idea.¬† Some 40 pounds later I was physically getting in my own way as I tried to turn over in bed. How does that happen?

A body scale has been my worst enemy at times in my life.¬† They say that the ‘numbers’ don’t matter but in my world, the numbers were everything.¬† From childhood, I was always considered obese to morbidly obese according to those little height-weight medical charts. To this day I still don’t agree with that chart. One of my favorite reads was “10 Reasons Why the BMI is Bogus!”. Who knows how true it is, but it made so much sense to me.

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Anyway,¬† I’ve had an awful history with the scales.¬† In the past, it has literally dictated whether I had a ‘good’ day or a ‘bad’ day, all based on whether I was up a few or down a few pounds…. overnight.¬† Craziness!.¬† I remember waking up¬† on some days feeling all happy and ready for my day, I’d jump on the scales and if the number wasn’t right, it was like a switch flipped in my brain and I was instantly self-hating and miserable the rest of the day. Don’t judge, I know I’m not the only one who has done this.

It took years to understand the ‘psychology’ behind the emotions that were tied to the scales.¬† I had no understanding of being healthy in those days, I just wanted to be ‘thin’.¬† It seemed good things happened if you were thin… and could wear cute clothes.¬† What was I thinking…skinny isn’t even in my DNA so it was like I was fighting an invisible beast… and losing.

As I approached 50 years old, I decided that being healthy was the most important thing to me. Like I said in previous posts, I didn’t want to get any of the medical maladies that most times come from bad eating habits and lifestyle (and if I did get any it wouldn’t be because of my own bad choices).¬† I think I had decided by 50 that being overweight, fat, fluffy, whatever you want to call it, was just how it was going to be for me…. but…. I could choose to eat healthy, move more and at least make the effort.¬† So,¬† on July 6, 2016, I did just that, and soon I started to drop pounds.

I still weigh daily, and doing so has taught me a LOT!  At first, I saw the numbers going down pretty steadily every day.  It was invigorating to me!  I have a digital scales that weighs to the 10th pound so even 2/10 of a pound felt major. Using MyFitnessPal app, I could see the little graph moving down daily. Happy, happy, happy. Weighing daily made a nice little chart.

But then after a month or so, I noticed the some ‘up’ days happening.¬† Initially had an old reaction like… “WHATTT?!?¬† … this can’t be!“…. I had to tell myself, “Girl, just ‘keep doing what you are doing? Your goal is to be healthy, not skinny.”¬† That was hard for me. I had to train myself¬† (talk to myself) to not have a ‘reaction’ to a silly number, but I faced those up days with the attitude to just keep eating smart!

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Sure enough, the numbers would drop a bit again, then maybe a day when it was up a bit, then down some more…. I was interested in the graph, it showed me that weight loss is not a smooth slide downward, it had ups and downs, some spikes, and some drops…but over the long haul there was weight loss. Just having a visual of the graph helped me to understand how the body loses weight, and that there are multiple factors that affect whether you are up or down…. hormones, exercise, sodium intake, humid weather… all kinds of things, not just food intake. I read that a body can gain as much as 10 lbs overnight given the certain reasons. Wow!¬† I am slowly releasing the scales-madness.¬† The scales is just a tool I use.

I’m at a good place now after all these years.¬† I still wish I weighed a less but I don’t stress about it anymore. If I maintain my good eating habits I figure my body will stop losing when it gets to where it’s supposed to be.¬† It’s not driving me and my emotions like it used to. I actually stress more about whether I’ve eaten enough good green veggies in a day.

I wonder sometimes if I am starting to think like a ‘normal weight healthy’ person who just eats good food so they are not hungry, to enjoy the taste, and stops eating when full.

Hmmm, that would be nice. #goals

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* I was going to talk about some food choices here but decided to put it in the next post. A part of being healthy is getting enough sleep, so…. ‘good night!’

Three Days, and Three Very Long Nights

In my last blog post I explained how I decided to change my habits, eat less, and become healthier. I was so ‘charged’ and excited to jump with both feet into this new way of life.

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DAY ONE:

I had decided to use the My Fitness Pal app to track calories and weight. I used it as my accountability partner. It is an easy-to-use app and has several features to help someone like me monitor¬† the numbers. I had no desire to use all those features though; and I didn’t really want to join the community groups etc. I just wanted to start changing my life. I set the app at 1,200 per day.¬† That is sort of low but I only set it that low to start; I’d planned to up it to 1,500 if I made it through three days of detox.

For some reason I felt I had to go through a kind of detox in order to start. There are several detox plans online but I just decide a LOT of water, some with a bit of ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) or lemon slices, and a few green vegetables and boiled eggs for the first three days.  I wanted to detox my mind and body.

Let me tell you, I thought I was experiencing the dying process by the end of the first day. I was so ‘hone-gree‘ (that’s a few stages past hungry and hangry) that inanimate objects in my house started to look tasty and delicious. I couldn’t believe how my body was screaming out in agony for foods I never even ate anyway: cheeseburgers, fries, nachos, fried apple pies.¬† I was having visions of food dancing through my head, and I was wide-awake.¬† I made it though, barely I felt.

I was thankful for bedtime because I thought being asleep would take my mind off my stomach.¬† WRONG! (* said in my best Trump voice).¬† I don’t think I slept at all!¬† I was so hungry I couldn’t fall asleep for a long while.¬† I must have dozed off eventually because around 2am I woke up with hunger pangs like I was being held as a hostage or something. I tried getting up and drinking water but I soon learned that filling the ravenous cavern in my body with fluid only¬† meant running to the restroom all night. ‘No bueno’.¬† Morning was welcomed with open arms and a tired body.

DAY TWO:
No lie, it was hard too.¬† OK, easier than Day One, but still hard. I was hone-gree. I was working at my company’s office location that day, sitting in my cube and thinking about lunch, which was more veggies, water, boiled egg, water, water, water; but when lunch time came that egg tasted like the best piece of grilled salmon, or steak, or hot dog, or whatever, it was just good! … and I actually made it to dinner time (more veggies, water, veggies and water) without too much agony. I even fell asleep right away that night, but sure enough around 2am I sprung awake as hungry as could be. So much so that I couldn’t fall back asleep.¬† I hated that, but I endured. I had my first realization: ‘I might be a food addict’.¬†¬† Couldn’t have my fix and it was affecting my life…. just like an addict.

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DAY THREE:
This day posed a new challenge. I was at a friend’s house and she was making breakfast and I had decided I was going to try to eat breakfast a bit later than what was my usual time.¬† I was still in the fasting/detox mode but she didn’t know it, and was trying to relearn how and when my body wanted to take in meals. I didn’t want to eat because it was morning, noon or evening.¬† I was trying to learn to ‘listen’ to my body and understand what authentic ‘hunger’ felt like, not just eating for the sake of eating.¬† I seriously couldn’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst sometimes.¬† I just ate for every twang that hit my gut.

So this particular morning, I was offered breakfast and declined.¬† That didn’t go over so well, and my little friend got on me about how not eating isn’t good for me but I didn’t take the time to explain the process I had just started because all of my mental energy was spent at the point. I just needed to focus on getting through the third day. I didn’t tell anyone about this process I’d begun because I felt it would be too much for me to explain, and I didn’t need or want any monitors initially.¬† In my mind, if I could get though three days of a sort of detox cleanse then I would be good to go!¬† It sort of helped to slow, then brake, and break the fast-moving train that was moving in the wrong direction.

I made it through Day Three!¬† … and lived to tell about it.¬† I was so happy! I knew I could do this now.¬† I still woke up that night though…. very hungry. Matter of fact, for the next two weeks, I woke up every night around 2am from hunger. Crazy huh?¬† Then gradually over the following days after that, it subsided, then stopped.¬† I never wake up in the night hungry now.

Weight? … Wait!
I once read somewhere about people who had lost significant amounts of weight and their challenge in keeping it off.  One of these people was a physician who has lost lots of weight too.  The one thing they all had in common was that they weighed themselves daily, even after years of keeping the weight off.  I thought once you had the weight off, the challenge would be more the food not the scales.

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I decided to weigh myself daily too.¬† Now, I see how it is beneficial.¬† When I was on my way up the scales, I played a lot of ‘weight mind-games’.¬† I made a lot of assumptions about how much I weigh, based on clothes that had stretched out, etc. Mind games … that’s why I said in the first blog that it’s really a change in your mind/thinking.

If you weigh daily, there is no lying to yourself. The numbers are right there.¬† For me, it really wasn’t about what the numbers said, it was more about my learning how the numbers on the scales and my emotions/attitude about myself and even life were intimately intertwined… a definite revelation right there.

In my next blog I will talk about the dance with the scales, the mind games I played with myself and I’ll start to share¬† some of the foods I started to incorporate into my days.

Thanks for reading!  Hope you come back!

Why, Oh Why, Can’t I Eat That?

Lots of people have asked, so here I am answering how I started losing weight.

On July 6, 2016, I was sitting around munching on some goody or another, just pacifying myself with some deliciousness, and watching a video about the current state of Venezuela that popped up on YouTube; people starving, eating their pets, standing in long line all day long just to end up with nothing to eat. Honestly, I felt a bit gluttonous watching the video.

At the same time, I started to think, ‘what if I was the one who couldn’t get food to eat?’¬† What if things were like that here in the United States?¬† People in the States like food, lots of it, all kinds of it, we like it all the time, we have food shrines everywhere.¬† Yes, we have people who have less access than others for sure, but we are by no means in a 3rd world situation with people by the droves who are starving. We have been, indeed, a blessed nation overall.¬† So blessed that the obesity rate is extremely high… and I’ve always been obese according to those little charts doctors use (… we all know those charts are wrong though).

Anyway, after a few pensive moments I wondered how much food do I really need; how much could I survive on and maintain good health?¬† I figured if a Venezuela situation happened in the States, there will be a lot of anger and rioting going on simply because people will be HUNGRY!¬† Imaging going from a daily diet of 3000+ calories of processed, chemically-laden, fast foods, mixed in periodically with an occasional vegetable cooked in butter or fat back, then suddenly (or even gradually) having to live on about 1000 – 1500 calories (or less, God forbid).¬† People are going to be MAD!!! I’m talking food fight kind of mad…. without the food. It certainly won’t be a pretty scene.

My curiosity took over and almost instantly I decided to retrain myself to eat less.¬† I had no real weight goals.¬† At the time I was not on any medications for anything so that wasn’t a real motivation.¬† I just wanted to find out the minimum number of¬† calories I needed to live and be healthy. ‘Healthy’ by my standard was hair and nails staying healthy, not feeling tired all the time, and mostly not feeling hungry all the time, because hunger was always a deal-breaker. Like I said, I didn’t have any high blood pressure or diabetes issues so that wasn’t a goal.

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Initially, I thought about all the ways I could accomplish this: Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Boiled Egg Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Cheez-it Diet ( I did that in college once, yep, Cheezits and grapes – lost a lot of weight… lol) … I even thought about accomplishing this with some sort of surgical procedure.¬† Surgery was not an option however because although I was overweight (or obese according to some uninformed medical people) I was not overweight enough to have Bypass or stomach bands. I was too cheap to spend money on Weight Watchers (and didn’t want to fit group meetings into my schedule), and somehow having little processed boxes of food delivered to my house seemed to be the opposite of my new goal of healthy eating.

So, I had to stick with one of the old-fashion weight loss methods:  eating less and moving more.

Honestly, the change started in my mind.  I wanted to be healthy, and able to sustain myself on a normal amount of calories, which after some Googling, I learned should be around 1500 calories per day.  I also learned that 1500 calories would mean cutting my calories to more than half what it was.  Dang!  I was munching back to ton more than I realized. I had to do it though.

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What I didn’t do was toss all the food in my pantry, or go out and buy diet food.¬† To this day I still NEVER eat low-fat or substitute sugars.¬† I decided to eat real foods… i.e. real sugar, real butter, real milk, just less of it.¬† My 1,500 calories today had to be a good mix of fresh veggies, fruit, good grains, and a tad of any of the sugary things I liked (still got a¬† Sweet Tart stash).¬† I wasn’t about deprivation and denial, just using good sense in making choices and deciding to used my calories wisely.¬† I always think of calories like money.¬† I am a decent money manager (OK, some would say frugal) so to me calories became money.¬† I have 1,500 per day, use them wisely or you’ll have to wait til the next day to get your bank filled again.¬† That worked for me … I’m a good ‘saver’, so I started saving calories and using them when I really wanted or needed them.

Now, all of what I just wrote about was way easier said than done.

In my next blog I will tell you about the drama and trauma of the first couple of weeks of doing this…. food really is a drug people.