Friday, October 31, 2008

Healthy Housewife's Cholesterol History

Happy Halloween! Today I'd like to discuss something that used to really scare me -- my cholesterol levels.

When I first got married almost 16 ago, my overall cholesterol level was 170. I was slim. I was fit. I would soon find out that I was going to be a mom. And once I started having kids, my cholesterol went bonkers.

I remember one result from the hey-day of having kids (nursing a baby too). My overall cholesterol number was 243. Yikes! My HDL was good, and since I was nursing (which can raise blood cholesterol levels), I was told not to worry about it. But I did anyway.

Back then I was practicing low-fat dogma. And I couldn't imagine where I would possibly cut more dietary cholesterol or reduce more fat.

Even after I no longer had a babe in arms, my cholesterol levels stayed elevated. Here are the numbers that I have recorded:

10/2/06 Total cholesterol: 227 / HDL: 62 / ratio: 3.7

11/2/06 Total cholesterol: 228 / HDL: 56 / ratio: 4.0

9/5/07 Total cholesterol: 255* / HDL: 66 / ratio: 3.9

*Note: I was so excited to have this cholesterol test done. I'd joined Weight Watchers and had lost 40 pounds. I was just sure that my cholesterol levels would have dropped. Wrong. They went UP by 27 points. Urgh!

2/2008 Total cholesterol: 187 / HDL: 59 / ratio: 3.2

February 2008 marked the first time that my cholesterol levels were normal since I'd had children. The catalyst? Fish oil tablet. Three a day.

Which brings me to the results of the cholesterol test I took this week.
10/29/08 Total cholesterol: 195 / HDL: 84 / ratio: 2.3

Get a load of that HDL level. An 84! I am estatic!

The funny things is, on the back of the sheet with my results they offered some ideas for lowering cholesterol thru diet. They recommended limiting . . . butter, eggs, cheese, high-fat meats, whole or 2% milk. What a crock! Those are exactly the things that I was doing when my levels were elevated. Not until I added more oil to my diet in the form of fish oil tablets did I see my cholesterol levels drop.

And I'm attributing the tremendous amount of HDL I saw in this week's test to the low-carb eating lifestyle I've been practicing since the end of August. It's not even from weight lifting or exercise, as all I've been doing lately is moderate walking. And, get this, I have 1/3 cup of half and half over frozen raspberries at least five times a week. Half and half!

I think even my husband is coming around to the misguided mindset of low-fat eating. I'm excited to see what a full year of low-carb eating will do for next year's health screening tests. Just imagine what the scale might read?!
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Daily Menu -- October 30, 2008

8:30 AM
2 eggs fried in 1 tsp. bacon fat
12 pistacios (1)
small apple (14)

12:00 PM
3 homemade baby dills (4)

1:00 PM
salad with 3 oz. turkey, 2 slices bacon, 1 oz. grated cheddar cheese & ranch dressing (7)
2 c. of homemade chicken vegetable soup (9)

3:30 PM
12 pistacios (1)
Halloween gummi candy, 1 - 2 oz. (30)
1/4 c / 38 almonds, (2)

4:00 PM
1 c. frozen raspberries (6)
1/3. c. half and half (4)
packet of Splenda

6:30 PM
5 oz. petite sirloin steak
1 Tbsp. A-1 steak sauce (3)
1 c. green beans (6)
==========
Total Net Carbs: 87

Quote of the Day:
"If you risk nothing, then you risk everything." -- Geena Davis

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grateful for my Body . . .

This is my prayer this morning:

Heavenly Father, I'm grateful for my body. I know you hear me complain about it quite a bit, but today I'm grateful. Really! Despite the health challenges I've struggled with, my body works well. I'm grateful to have eyes to see the beautiful golden hues of fall, to have a nose to smell the acorn squash baking in the oven, to have legs that carry me where I want to go. I especially enjoy using them as I walk Beans to school each morning. She is such a joy. Thank you for sending her to our family.

Speaking of family, I'm grateful to be a mom. The P.C.O.S. I have often makes conceiving children difficult to impossible. Until those little bundles of joy came into my life, I had no conception of what having children would mean for me, how they would change my outlook, alter my perspective, cause, as it were, my heart to walk around outside of my body. I marvel that an imperfect body/person (me) could be part of creating such exquisite individuals.

About my body. I've been feeling dizzy the past few days. Please help that feeling to go away. And while it lasts, please help me to do the best I can. Help me eat smart, not trying to fix how I feel with food. I'm excited to start using hand weights here at home and to use the giant hippity-hop balls we have in a new exercise routine. Give me patience and keep me from getting discouraged while I wait for the dizziness to pass. (If you've taught me anything, it's that all things come to pass.)

I'm thankful for my muscles. They're not as toned as I'd like them to be, but they all seem to work. I'm thankful for modern medicine. For the chance to get a flu shot at the health fair my husband's work sponsored yesterday. And, yippee! My cholesterol levels are awesome! So I guess I'm grateful for fish oil tablets, how they helpled lower my overall number. And whatever made my HDL go up (it's 84!), well thanks for that too. The intricacies and finely balanced system that make up human anatomy never cease to amaze me. I'm so grateful for my body!

Well, that's about it for this morning. I know I've focused this prayer on my body and health, I hope that's okay. I haven't forgotten the needs of those around me. I only ask that you give me the health and strength I need to be able to perform the tasks Thou would have me do. I love serving Thee! Thanks for being my caring and compassionate Heavenly Father. Amen.

--------------------

Daily Menu: October 29, 2008

3:00 PM (at the health Fair and after fasting for the blood tests they took)
2 oz. cheese (1)
celery sticks / baby carrots / Ranch dip (4)
4 crackers (7)

4:00 PM
apple juice, 1/2 c. (14)
1 oz. mozzarella, proscuitto & basil roll
salad with cubed pork, celery, cucumber, 1/3 c. pineapple, Ranch dress. (15)

6:40 PM
Swiss Miss hot cocoa pkt., no sugar added (9)
24 pistacios (2)
2+ Tbsp. natural peanut butter (6.5)
2 slices celery (1.5)
==========
Total net carbs: 60 grams

Save Money on Eyeglasses . . .

If you wear prescription glasses, you must check out the following websites:

Zennioptical.com: It's where I got my new set of glasses. (See photo at the bottom of yesterday's post.) Those glasses cost $14.90 including shipping! Really! I chose this pair, and have been very pleased. I also ordered my son's new glasses from Zennioptical.com. They are perfect.

Another site that offers deals on glasses is 39dollarglasses.com. The gal who cuts my hair has ordered from them, and both Zenni and 39dollarglasses were featured in November's issue of Reader's Digest.

The only drawback to ordering your glasses on-line is that they aren't fitted to your face when they arrive. I took my son's pair and my own into Shopko Optical and said, "Can I pay you to adjust my glasses? I didn't buy them here." The man smiled and said, "We don't ever charge to adjust glasses." And then he whisked them off, adjusted them and worked at it until they fit us perfectly. (Thanks, Brett!)

Now, if you've just bought expensive prescription glasses, don't feel bad. Get yourself some inexpensive prescription sunglasses. Or a pair of trendy glasses that you've always wanted, but couldn't bear to spend over $150 on.

Life is too short to wear glasses that don't call your name!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leaving my status as Google's #1 Overweight Housewife behind

If you Google the term "overweight housewife," the first result on your screen will be my other blog, Belly Acre Farm. Or, now that I've written this entry, this blog may come up. I have to admit that I haven't been too ashamed that I'm the #1 overweight housewife on the web. I used to think it was funny. But not any more.

You see, I blew it last night. When you read my daily menu from yesterday at the bottom of this post, you'll notice that I had 10 frosted oatmeal cookies which yielded some 95 net carbs all by themselves. Urgh! That's no way to lose the 17 lbs. I want to leave behind. (Or, leave my behind, is more like it.)

Here's my excuse for last night's binge -- I'd been feeling a bit woozy/dizzy all day, and I wondered if some carbs might help. So I made the mistake of choosing cookies as my carbs. Once I started, I couldn't (didn't) stop. Until the remainder of the package was gone. (Note: The cookies didn't make the dizziness go away.)

After viewing MizFit's facetime post on Monday about her motivational boards, I came away wanting to be motivated. And since I've already made a board, now I just need to fill it with images and quotes that will help me focus on what I want to become.

I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but I've got to get MizFit on there somehow. Watching her facetime posts are motivating. Get a load of those shoulders and biceps! And she's a mom. Way to go MizFit!

I've spent so long as an overweight housewife that I've almost forgotten how to see myself as anything else. It would seem that some deep introspection and mental imaging is in order. To get me started, I'm going to think out loud about who I see myself becoming. Here goes.

First off, I'm going to become Google's #1 Healthy Housewife.

As a Healthy Housewife I take the time to prepare balanced meals -- meals that contain plenty of protein, vegetables, fruit and a carbohydrate side dish for my family that I don't eat until I've reached my weightloss goal and maintained it for 3 months. I also keep my fridge and cupboards stocked with low-carb foods that are easy to grab on the go. They're not just for me. They're for everyone in my home.

What am I going to do about treats/goodies for the kids? I'll try to buy snacks that don't appeal to me. I'll begin discussing with Hubby the challenges of having foods around that are temptations for me, and that aren't healthy for anyone in our household. I can also stop trying to show love by making/giving/buying my kids treats. There are countless other ways for me to show them love. Raising them to have good eating habits is more loving than passing on bad eating habits to yet another generation.

As a healthy housewife I find time for exercise. It's a priority for me. I don't put the needs of my family above my own needs. I realize that by taking care of myself, I'll be better able to take care of my family members. I relish time spent walking my dog. I find joy (and exercise) in taking walks with my husband and children, one-on-one or as a family. I try to find ways to play with my kids, do engage in the activities they're interested in. I go ice skating with Beans. I play golf with Bug. I pass the volleyball with Loula Belle and play catch during softball season.

I'm out of time for today, but I'm going to give the new me a lot of thought and prayer. (I need to do a better job of including the Lord in my weightloss efforts. His power and support is invaluable. Why do I keep forgetting that?)

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Daily Menu: October 28, 2008

7:30 AM
peppermint tea
12 pistacios = 1 Tbsp. (1.5)
2 eggs fried in 1 tsp. bacon fat (1)
large tomato, sliced thick (6)
sorbet made with 1 c. frozen triple-berry blend (10.5)
1/2 c. 2% milk (6)
packet Slenda

12:30 PM
1/2 c. low fat cottage cheese (5)
8 oz. non-fat Western Family yogurt sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame (15)

2:00 PM
homemade dill pickle (2)
12 pistacios (1.5)
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (4)
2 stalks celery (1.5)

5:40 PM
mozarella/promiscuto/basil roll, 2 1/2 oz. (.5)
salad with 2 bacon slice, diced turkey, ranch dressing (8)
homemade chicken vegetable soup (9)
small Empire apple (15)

7:30 PM
10 stupid, not-very-good, frosted oatmeal cookies (95.5)
==========

Total Net Carbs: 182

Fall in the Valley


Yesterday I needed the truck to take some things to Deseret Industries in. And as long as I had the truck, I figured I might as well take my dog to a trail along the wetlands in the middle of the valley. I couldn't have chosen a more perfect day!

I took quite a few photos, many that I plan to use as wallpaper on my computer or possibly as a new header on this blog. If you like any of the photos, you're welcome to right click on them and copy them to your own computer to use as you wish.

Enjoy Fall!

(Note: If these don't come out well for you, I'd be happy to e-mail you the original photos.)






Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Eating Together as Husband and Wife . . .

Hubby and I had a long talk about how he's feeling, and how I've been feeling. During the course of our talk the problem became clear to me. We're like oil and water. Our personalities are poles apart, but because we have similar goals and values, we have a stable marriage. It's just that sometimes our oil/water personalities clash. That's when we have to give things a good shake, add a little vinegar and spices and create a great vinegrette!

So here's the thing. I am an action-oriented, try-it kind of person. And my husband is a cautious kind of guy who likes to take things slowly, do his homework, not rock the boat. Yesterday he mentioned feeling anxious/fearful that I'll take my new way of eating (low-carb) to an extreme. Boy did that sound familiar.

Whenever I'm changing things up a bit and trying something new, hubby's knee-jerk response is to feel anxious or fearful. We've gone through this before as it relates to spending money and pursuing business possibilities. He'll watch and wait, anxiety building, until he has to say something. At that point his "whoa!" communications make me feel like he's not being supportive and doesn't understand me.

I'm a responsible kind of gal who has never even carried a balance on our credit card, but in past "whoa" run-ins, Hubby has been been fearful that I'll spend us into bankruptcy. This eating/lifestyle conflict feels just like our past money/budget conflicts.

I need to remember the advice of the counselor I saw a few years ago. He said, "Don't take it personally." Which flummoxed me. As a wife, how do I not take my husband's actions personally? The answer: "Your husband would feel like this, respond like this no matter who he had married. It's not about you. Don't take it personally."

Of course that advice is easier said than followed, but I'm going to use this post as a reminder not to take my hubby's "whoa" responses too personally. That's just him. He's quirky. I'm quirky. And we love each other!
--------------------

New Daily Feature: My Low-Carb Food Menu
October 27, 2008

Note: numbers in (parantheses) indicate net carbs

6:16 AM
2 slices of bacon (0)
10 pistacios (1)

7:25 AM
1/2 c. low-fat cottage cheese (5)
8 oz. non-fat yogurt sweetened with sucralose & acesulfame (15)

12:15 PM
salad greens (4)
chicken (0)
salad dressing(3)
veggies (corn, beans, carrots) (6)
1/2 c. pineapple (9)

1:15 PM
1 c. frozen raspberries (6)
1/2 c. half and half(4)
Splenda packet (0)

5:30 PM
chicken/vegetable soup (9)
2 Tbsp.(scant)nat. peanut butter (5)
2 celery sticks (2)
small piece of son's b-day cake (25)
1/2 c. ice cream (18)

Day's Total of Net Carbs: 112

Pumpkin Walk Scenes . . .

No surprise, but I am a witch. At the community Pumpkin Walk every year. This fall I scared the little kiddies. Actually, I unintentionally did scare a few when I cackled for the Herald Journal reporter/photographer. And no, I don't think that the HJ is going to run the interview. I witched on Friday from 9 AM to 11 AM, and the paper hasn't featured anything yet. Most of the time when kids approach I smile and ask them what they're going to be for Halloween. If they look a bit scared, I ask them if they think I'm a real witch. That's when I lift my 1/2 mask (green make-up irritates my skin BAD!) and explain that I'm really just a mom. Then I ask them, "Is your mom a witch?" You'd be surprised how many little kids nod their heads up and down. (Tee-hee!)

But enough about me. Here are just a few shots I took before my witching duties began:


This is a rendition of local cyclist, Brent Carpenter. The theme at this year's pumpkin walk is "Calling all Heroes." I think Brent's energy, enthusiasm and miles biked each year are all pretty heroic.

















My friends Raquelle and Jeanette created this display. And they used nine of my wigs. (See Alison, I told you I've got tons of costume possibilities.)

















This Noah's Ark display is well done! Click on this photo and check out the mane on the lion. Amazing!

















I saved the best for last! I died laughing at the elephant's hind ends. Someone has amazing creative abilities! (Alison, the 'butt pumpkin' reminds me of the year that Ethan accidentally picked the 'butt squash' that I had growing in my garden.) You gotta love vegetables that resemble butts!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lack of support on the homefront . . .

I blew up at my husband on Saturday. I informed him that he's not being very supportive of my lower-carb lifestyle. You may not want to finishing reading this post because it's pretty much a rant on trying to get a little more support here on the homefront.

First of all, let me just say that I'm not a shrinking violet. I'm very good a voicing my needs -- usually in a way that's calm and polite. But I've had it! Earlier in the week my husband infromed that he's tired of having meat with meals. Really? That's nice. Because I'm tired of making meals.

I guess that part of the problem here at home is that I'm here at home. I'm an at-home mom, and making dinner falls under my responsibilities. When I suggested that he help out more with meals, he brought up the fact that he works, and that we'd have to change our meal time. That would have been fine, but what his body language and expression really said was, "I'm the worker. You're the cook. You're home all day. You should cook the meals."

I've told my husband that it's really hard to make foods that aren't healthy for me to eat. I have a hard time resisting cookies, cakes, breads, etc. that I've made myself. He hasn't offerend any solutions. But he did say that he wanted to have meals with more bread.

Yesterday, after my blow-up, he even said that he doesn't think that my diet is supported by the Word of Wisdom. I was livid! First of all, I was ticked off because he has taken zero interest in trying to find out more about my health issues. A few days ago when I was gushing about how great I've been feeling, he rained on my parade. He pointed out that in the past I'd get excited about a health diagnosis or lifestyle change and then after a few months be right back to feeling crappy again. At the time I just shrugged off his pessimism. I told him that I thought I'd found the root cause of so much of my health problems -- fluctuating blood sugar levels and hormone variations caused by sugar/carbohydrate consumption. And because I'd found the root of the problems and had been seeing such great results, I was optimistic that my health could be permanently improved.

But my husband isn't on the same page. If he were, he'd have read my post on the study I made of the Word of Wisdom and how it relates to my diet. But no. He hasn't read ANYTHING that pertains to low-carb living. I've discussed some premises of the books I've been reading with him, explained how I feel so much better when I eat fewer carbohydrates, but he has not taken the initiative to read any of the books or articles himself. (Note: I did print off three past posts from this blog which I gave to him. If he reads them he'll have a better idea where I'm coming from.)

The emotions I'm feeling the most are anger and hurt. My husband's lack of interest in learning more about low-carb eating makes me feel like he doesn't care about my health. Like I'm on my own. His comments about being tired of eating meat with meals make me feel unappreciated. I'm especially hurt that he'd poll the kids and get their support to back-up his reduced meat at meals position.

I'm sure that we'll get past this rough spot in the road, but it's going to take a while. (You know how long road repairs can take.)

Son plays recorder with his nose . . .

Here it is . . . possibly the performance of the year. How many times do you see a fourteen-year-old playing the recorder with their nose? (Don't answer that. This is precisely the age when someone would be most likely to play an instrument with their nose.)
video

We were extra careful not to re-use the recorder he blew into. (Yuck!)

P.S. Today, Monday the 27th, is Bug's 15th birthday. Happy Birthday, Son!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Entry from my Gratitude Journal

This is what I wrote in my Gratitude Journal this morning:

I'm thankful for . . .

a beautiful fall morning.

the changing leaves glowing in the early morning sunshine.

powdered sugar snow on top of the Wellsville mountains.

sunlight streaming through the (clean) dining room window and falling across the hardwood floor.

Bean's description of what Annie was 'full of' this morning -- sugar and caffeine.

having a husband who cherishes the gospel as I do and is dedicated to the same ideals that I am.

a new morning 'treat' -- raspberry/milk sorbet.

having a deep freeze full of food -- raspberries, corn, peppers, meats, jam and other items.

the hymn lyrics, "All is safely gathtered in, Ere the winter storms begin." (It's a good feeling too.)

watching our woodpile grow -- thanks in part to a son who enjoys splitting wood.

a dryer full of Italian plums.

losing six pounds since the end of August.

improved health and wellness.

Kung-Fu Dieting

My daughters and I went to see the movie "Kung-Fu Panda" on Saturday. I loved it! Ate it up! Laughed out loud! Even laughed until I cried at one point.

I know, we're a little behind the curve. The movie has been out for a while, but now it's at our community's 'cheap' theater. And I seek for zen peace by saving money. High-yah!

Sorry. The movie is still in my system.

As I recall, when this film first came out, some members of the food police thought it set a bad example for overweight kids. Now that I've seen it, I just want to say two little words to those members of the food police . . .

Lighten Up!

I'd also like to remind myself to lighten up when it comes to dieting. As I've been looking back on my past blog entries, I've realized that they're all pretty serious. But I'm not always a serious person.

That's why I like to drop in at Does This Blog Make Us Look Fat. Greta and Kiki don't take themselves too seriously. They see the humor in the quest to lose weight. I'm hoping to see a bit more of the humor too.

Sure, I'll still be taking my health seriously. I'll still be reading about and trying out methods that seem like they might improve my health and help me lose weight. But in the here and now, I'll also be looking for the lighter side of life and exercising my laughing muscles!

Case in point . . . When I told my husband that we were going to Kung-fu Panda at 4:15, he got a quizzical look on his face and asked, "So will that be supper?"

He thought that 'Kung-fu Panda' was a restaurant. (Tee-hee!) I had a great laugh over that one!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Review -- "Potatoes Not Prozac"

Potatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. is an interesting book with a stupid name. First, you must know that the title does not fit this book. This book isn't about finding alternatives to taking anti-depressants, it's about stabilizing blood sugar as a means to overcoming compulsive eating patterns and sugar addiction.

DesMaisons does talk about how eating lots of carbs stimulates the production of serotonin and beta-endorphin. She also illustrates how those who are sugar sensitive (which includes alcoholics) often find themselves trying to balance the mixed up levels of serotonin and beta-endorphin within their bodies using sugar or refined carbohydrates.

DesMaisons uses the following example to determine general sugar sensitivity:
Imagine you come home and go into the kitchen. A plate of warm chocolate-chip cookies sits on the counter just out of the oven. Their smell hits you as you walk in. You do not feel hundry. No one else is around. What would you do?

A person who is not sensitive to sugar would not eat a cookie. But someone sensitive (or addicted) to sugar would definitely eat a cookie. And probably more than one.

I'm a sugar sensitive person who is in recovery. Unlike alcoholics who take recovery one day at a time, a recovering sugar addict must take life one choice at a time. A body can live without alcohol, but it can't live without food, and food choices are all around us.

Here are the seven steps that DesMaisons advocates in her book:
1. Keeping a food journal
2. Eating three meals a day at regular intervals
3. Taking vitamins as recommended
4. Eating the recommended amount of protein at each meal
5. Adjusting your carbohydrate intake to include more complex foods
6. Reducing or eliminating sugars (including alcohol)
7. Creating a plan for maintenance

I have been doing all but one of these steps as I've begun a lower-carb lifestyle. Prior to reading this book I hadn't been eating three meals a day. I'd been eating smaller meals and then having balanced snacks (meaning eating carbs in tandem with protein). DesMaison's reasoning behind only three balanced meals seems logical. If someone is already sensitive to sugar, eating three meals that include plenty of protein allows them to keep their blood sugar nice and level and minimizes the frequency of facing food temptations.

I've been trying it for the past five days and have found it helpful. The first couple of days were challenging as I figured out how much to eat at a meal in order to tide me over to the next one. But for the past three days I've really enjoyed this new way of eating. I'm finding it a lot easier to keep my net carbs low (under 100 grams) when I'm only eating three meals and not snacking. Plus, I'm not getting overly hungry and the afternoon slump I used to experience around 2 PM seems to be a thing of the past.

I also think that DesMaison's approach to limiting sugars is reasonable. She doesn't advocate eating no fruit or not eating starchy vegetables. Instead, she's all for eating whole-grain foods and fruits and vegetables with skins full of fiber. All in conjunction with adequate protein at each meal, which leads to slower digestion and steady blood sugar levels. This means that I can have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast along with a couple eggs. Yum!

If you're a sugar sensitive person who it trying to lose weight and regain health, I'd highly suggest you read Potatoes Not Prozac.

My "It's Done" List

Yesterday I worked my tail end off around the house and yard. Because I failed to make a detailed to-do list, I'm now posting an 'it's done' list. Here goes.

Made out job lists for the kids for this U.E.A. weekend.

Fed and watered the chickens.

Watered the dog and scooped the poop from her dog run.

Removed all the screens from upstairs and downstairs windows. Put them in the storage room for winter.

Instructed and supervised Beans and Loula Belle as they vacuumed the window tracks of the downstairs and upstairs windows.

Personally vacuumed all the window blinds in the house.

Cleaned the outside windows with the following homemade window cleaner that only requires wiping on and then hosing off. (No squeegee required)
1/2 pail of hot water
2 1/2 Tbsp. of dish soap
2 Tbsp. of liquid Jet Dry

Cleaned all the inside windows with Windex and a squeegee (and towell).

Moved kitchen/dining furniture so Beans could sweep the floors.

Picked up Bug from golfing. (Informed him that because he missed out on indoor cleaning, he'd need to mow both the front and back lawn.)

Worked in the garden with both girls. Loula Belle cut down the corn stalks and we all piled them in the compost pile.

Supervised the dog who ran loose in the yard while we worked. (Was very pleased that she didn't once run away to the neighbors' or harrass the chickens.)

We also pulled up the peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and zucchini.

We started cutting down the zinnias and other flowers, but stopped before it was completely done.

I returned indoors and re-swept the floors to get all the dirt and debris.

After I mopped an area, Beans used a towel and foot-dried it. Our floors now are sparkly clean!

Finally, I vacuumed all the upstairs carpet. Whew!

Hubby came home from a safety conference in Salt Lake City and grilled up the chicken that had been marinating in Italian dressing. After dinner I read in "An Assembly Such as This," a book featuring Mr. Darcy's view of how things proceeded between himself and Miss Elizabeth Bennett. (I'm loving the book!)

Finally, I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and hit the sack at about 9 o'clock. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Economy may lead to another 'Greatest Generation'

Don't look now, but yesterday I received my very first political vote. My friend Linda went to vote early. Not knowing any of the candidates for School Board, she wrote in my name. I feel victorious already. (How did she know that I've been entertaining political ambitions?) Anyway, this paragraph is the start of my official write-in campaign for school board. I won't be campaigning anywhere else, and I don't plan to win. But if you feel the need, you can write me in as a candiate for the School Board.

In other news, I read this morning that Senator Orrin Hatch has been in the U.S. Senate since 1976. That is way too long! Let's do something about that next time he comes up for re-election. If we as Americans are really serious about stopping politicas as usual, we ought to eject members of Congress who have made careers out of being politicians. I don't think that's what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they set up our government. A good motto to remember is, "Out with the old and in with the new!"

Switching gears now . . . Let's discuss the economy. I know, everyone's favorite subject of late. We're all getting sick to death of the doom and gloom of the market crash and the billion dollar bailout provided by the government. But here's the thing -- what was the outcome following the Great Depression? Only one of the most prosperous eras in U.S. history. Could that happen again? I'll lay out a plan that raises the possibility of just such a thing happening.

First of all, the marketing arm of the Live Within Your Means movement needs to kick their message into high gear. I consider myself a member of the Live Within Your Means movement, and there's nothing I love like a good marketing campaign! The challenge is how to get the American consumer on board and excited about good, sound fiscal managment.

I say, play to everyone's desire to be good parents. If we as American's bite the bullet and tighten our belts, we could very well be setting up our children to become another 'Greatest Generation,' akin to the men and women who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II.

Will it be easy? Is raising children ever easy? Is it easy to let actions speak louder than our words? No, but it is possible.

Start by listening to Big Band music. It's fun. It's peppy. It's what The Greatest Generation listened to. I've got some '40s era music playing as I write, and it never fails to fill me with positivity! Positivity! Just what America needs.

Of course it's going to take more than positivity to turn America around. It will take action. No more sitting on our big behinds and letting the media dictate what we think. Blog for goodness sake! Get real information out there.

For example, did you know that 24% of Americans carry no debt? I saw that statistic in my paper yesterday. The source was the Federal Reserve Board. The AP article quoted Greg McBride of Bankrate.com as saying, "This entire credit crunch is a wakeup call to anybody who was attempting to borrow their way to prosperity."

There you have it. Borrowing is never the way to prosperity. We've got to give consumers new standards to look up to. It's time to re-read The Millionaire Next Door and rediscover what wealth is all about. Another good resourse for anyone trying to find ways to save money is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. I own a copy, and she changed my attitude about saving money. Ms. Dacyczyn (prnounced 'decision') made saving money into something fun, a challenge to rise and conquer. You can borrow my copy, but spending the $16 and reading the book from cover to cover could change your life.

The organized labor unions would have you believe that the rich are getting richer because 'the man' is keeping the workers down. But the truth is that the rich are getting richer because they're out of debt. Americans have been trying to look prosperous by living a consumer credit lifestyle. Repeat after me, "borrowing is never the way to prosperity."

Look at those who came through the Great Depression. They avoided debt like the plague. And what eventually happened to the American economy? It was incredibly stable because people were purchasing what they could afford. Purchasing with cash.

You can't be a victim of the economy or anthing else if you take action and DO SOMETHING! The government isn't going to solve our problems. We ARE the government. It's our money they're spending. Currently our government encourages citizens to live on credit. That must change. Living on credit is no way to live. Not for citizens or for government.

As long as we're going through a market correction, let's get things correct. Households aren't the only ones who should be tightening their belts. Let's demand the same of our government. No more pork. Let's hold the government to the same standards that we have for ourselves. Imagine what the dollar would do against the other currencies of the world if the U.S. opperated without debt. We truly would be a world super-power.

To achieve a more stable economy, there are four little words that all American's need to learn, understand and repeat often. They are, "We can't afford that." It's good for kids to hear from their parents. It's good for couples to say to one another. It's good for congress members to say when discussing new and old spending.

In his book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw found that those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II could attribute their successful lives to the values of "duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself."

It's time to revisit those values. Time to live lives that will strengthen our families and our country.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why this dieter loves shopping for shoes

Now that fall is here I need some boots/shoes I can wear to church with nylons or microfiber tights. Open-toed sandals and tights just do NOT mix!

I spent this afternoon looking for deals and . . . I found them. This is a photo of the boots and shoes that I bought today.



I kept appologizing to the girl who helped me with the boots at Shoe Carnival. I bet I tried on five different styles of boots. She had to keep repacking them and putting them back on the shelf. "That's okay," she said, "it's fun to help someone who's actually excited to be buying shoes."

Huh? Who wouldn't be excited to buy shoes? I mean, come on. It's not like shopping for clothes where you undress in front of a full-length mirror that is perfectly angled to make your butt look huge. These are shoes for Pete's sake! You can gain or lose 10 pounds and not need to buy new shoes. Shoes last. Shoes are kind. When you lose weight you don't have to throw out your 'fat shoes.' Shoes and boots are a dieter's best friends.

I just made five new friends today!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can cutting out carbs fight Cancer?

I was reading the blog of Dr. Michael R. Eades (of 'Protein Power' fame). He had a link to an on-line article by Time magazine that I found fascinating.

The article highlights cancer fighting research being done in Germany. Basically, the researchers are using a high-fat, no-carb diet to try to cut off the glocose supply to fast-growing cancers that have not responded to other treatment.

When I read Life Without Bread I found the chapter on how low-carb diets can fight cancer interesting. This article from Time backs up the Life Without Bread conclusions perfectly.

Take the time to read the Time article. It's definitely food for thought.

Break out the Christmas music!

We have a family tradition that when it snows for the first time in the fall, we break out the Christmas music. (And keep it out until Christmas!)

Well, it snowed last night and accumulated on the ground. We woke up to an icy white wonderland. Fog and everything. Even the dog's eyebrows had frost on them.

We didn't wait until this morning to get out the music, but listened to some last night. Loula Belle went outside to catch snowflakes in her mouth and took a number of photos. Beans made a snowball and put it in the freezer until this morning. Basically, we're all psyched to see the white stuff!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Should've Stayed Off the Scale . . .

I got on the scale this morning. I shouldn't have. (I usually weigh myself on Sunday mornings.) The scale read 188.5, which is what I weighed before I went to visit my doctor at the end of August -- before I started reducing my carbs.

Instead of wallowing in despair and giving up on trying to gain better health through my diet . . . (Notice how I can barely even think about losing weight. It seems almost impossible lately.) I CAN:

Use the number on the scale as feedback. It's telling me that yesterday's Snickers bar, Laffy Taffies and eating in the evening aren't conducive to weight loss. It's also telling me that the limitless carb day of last week has caught up with me.

Weild the power of the pen. If I really want to lose weight, I need to write down what I eat. Every B.L.T. -- bite, lick and taste. It keeps me honest and in control.

Track my carbs. I do best when I'm tracking the net carbs I eat. My goal is to stay under 100 grams and to have those carbohydrates be mostly from dairy, non-starchy vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes and/or nuts and seeds.

Listen to my hunger signals. Instead of the 'head hunger' signals -- the ones that notice the candybars being offered at the PTA meeting and decide they sound good to eat. I need to listen and become atune to physiological signs of hunger and fullness. Then, I'll eat when I'm hungry and stop eating when I'm satisfied.

Enjoy the eating experience! When I actually take the time to eat slowly and savor the flavors, texture and smell of the food I'm eating, I eat less. Also, I need to stop multi-tasking while I eat. No more reading the paper during breakfast. No more munching while reading a book. Eating is a time to eat.

Avoid boredom. An an at-home mom who lives in a house with a great room -- a room that combines the kitchen/dining/living room all in one, I'm always around food. I can keep myself busy by writing, starting/finishing a sewing project, taking the dog for a walk, or calling a friend -- anything to keep me from mindlessly eating because I'm bored.

Forgive myself. No one is perfect. Especially not me. I'm not defined by my failures. If I keep trying, eventually I'll overcome bad eating habits. Dwelling on mistakes doesn't accomplish anything. Instead, I'll learn from them and move on.

And on. And on!

Queen of Quite-a-lot

A few days ago Science Teacher Mommy mentioned a friend on her blog who she called the ‘Queen of Food Storage.’ That got me thinking. What could I be the queen of?

I wondered if I could qualify as the Chicken Queen. I’ve got four leghorn hens, and I feed and water them every morning, and collect their eggs every day. I also saved our smaller sunflower heads, let them dry and now feed the seeds to the chickens. A few years ago I kept a detailed chicken account, tracking feed expenses against income from selling eggs. This time around I’m tracking my chicken input/output in my garden/farm/canning journal. But wait, that’s not all. Someday in the far, far, future we’re going to put in a large concrete driveway and a shop. At that time we’ll permanently move the dog run and set up the permanent chicken coop and run. I have been scheming about the perfect hen house – one where I won’t have to step into the coop or enclosure to feed, water or gather eggs. So far my design is all up in my brain, but any day now I plan to transfer it to graph paper. (When you take the time to draw your dreams on graph paper, carefully measured, labeled and to scale, husbands have a very hard time finding valid reasons not to run with your ideas.) P.S. My chicken coop design, as I conceive it now, will resemble an old-fashioned outhouse. Funny, huh!

You could call me the Queen of Poop. I know, it’s not a very glamorous title, but it’s the truth. Our dog is an outside dog, and her kennel is at the end of our driveway near our garage and our neighbor’s property. I don’t think it’s fair to make our neighbors smell our dog, and we don’t want to smell her either. So I scoop poop. Everyday. Sometimes twice a day. When Annie poops in the yard, my family is sure to let me know where it is so I can clean it up. I keep the scoopings in a lined bucket that get’s emptied into our ‘black beauty’ garbage can and taken to the curb every Thursday morning. We also have a garage cat. That means that he spends large amounts of time in the garage or out of doors. We have a kitty litter box for him in the garage. Guess who gets to scoop it? Me. Just think how well the title ‘Queen of Poop’ would fit if I had a child still in diapers. My oldest daughter, as an infant, did projectile poop during diaper changes. It was way worse than the golden arches that little boys sometimes nail their parents with!

By the way, this whole line of thinking has reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from The Princess Bride. You know, the part where Princess Buttercup is dreaming about her coronation and an old hag accosts her and cries, “Bow down to the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Putrescence…” Those are some mighty strong words. She probably didn’t know she was actually talking about me. (You’re welcome to bow if you want to.)

Hmmmm. What else could I be the queen of? The Queen of Routine. Yeah, that could be me. The Queen of Mean. Not my usual role, but on really hormonal days it probably fits. I’m not the Queen of Clean. That could probably go to Alison D. How about ‘The Quirky Queen?’ A lot of us could probably go by that title.

I bet there are people in your life who could rein under the following titles:

Queen of Carbs
Queen of Green (a real environmentally friendly kind of gal)
Queen of Lean (opposite of Jack Sprat’s wife)
Queen Kong. (Who reminds me of a favorite character from James Arrington’s ‘Farley Family Reunion.’)
Queen of Quackers (Sue Randalman, our former library director, comes to mind)
Queen of Spleen (What’s the official title for doctors that deal with spleens? Does that fall under internal medicine?)
Dairy Queen
Hairy Queen (our would ‘Queen Hairy’ sound better?)
The Marry Queen (the woman who has been married and divorced seven times.)

I should probably stop there.

Now that I’ve fully divulged my queenly roles, it’s your turn. What are you the queen of?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Book Review: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

I just finished the most compelling biography I've ever read -- The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raused 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less.

I checked the book out of the library on Monday and finished it up this afternoon. I've never met anyone like Evelyn Ryan, jingle writer and contest winner extraordinaire. Sure, I know lots of up-beat, optimistic people. I even know a few people who have entered and won contests. But I've never met anyone who can stay so unflappably happy against such grinding desperation. Anyone who thinks their lot in life is hard ought to take a chapter out of Evenlyn Ryan's book.

Part of the fun of reading this book was remembering when I won free Suave products for a year as part of contest they ran in 1996. I also won a recipe contest sponsored by Dick's grocery store in Davis County. I entered a recipe for homemade cranberry relish. Problem was, when it published, I realized that I'd miss-typed it. So I actually won on a faulty recipe. (It must have sounded good.) Really, the Suave contest is the only big prize I've won. Future entries I considered always disqualified professional writers. I don't feel 'professional' now, but I have written for newspapers and wrote a weely self-syndicated parenting column for 3 years. I guess that's professional enough.

Have you ever won a contest? My friend Deon won Edward's Furnicture's 'Fully Furnished Fall' a few years back. I won a CD by calling in on the radio once. Oh, and long ago I used to call in and try to get on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' when Regis Philbin was the host. I got to question 4 of their 5. But never made it on the show. Anyone want to share their success? Or failures? Do tell.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Changed My Mind . . .

It's a woman's preogative to change her mind. So I did.

I'm not following Dr. Atkins' 20 grams of carbs introductory phase. I tried that for 3 days and felt yucky. Tired. Lifeless. Zapped. So I went back to eating the way that has helped me feel the best -- a moderate carbohydrate diet.

I don't eat bread and avoid most starchy carbs, but I eat fruits and vegetables along with protein and fats. And I'm not writing down what I eat. Instead, I'm trying to focus on eating when I'm hungry and really savoring what I'm eating. Living in the eating moment.

My body does best when I balance my fruit/veggies with protein/fat. That way my blood sugar doesn't spike, I don't get carb cravings, and I get plenty of fiber. I like eating foods with fiber. And they like me!

Eating this way may not melt the pounds fast, but I feel great again. The water retention is still gone, and I can eat the delicious produce that comes from our trees and garden.

What do you know -- moderation is the answer for me.

Ways I Save Money . . .

This morning as I was washing my hair, I realized that despite what my husband might think, I am pretty good at saving money. It was the shampoo that reminded me.

I did a price comparison on shampoo over a year ago and found that my local beauty supply store had an awesome deal on shampoo in gallon containers. I bought two. Then I bought re-fillable squirt containers at Wal-Mart for each shower. I'm not going to spend a lot on something that just gets washed down the drain. (Photos included.)




Another thing I do is buy food in bulk when it comes on sale. Which means that I read ads and compare prices, and always carry a calculator in my purse.

See the green Bissel vacuum in the food storage photo? That's another way we save money -- clean our own carpets. (It really came in handy each time we had a child who was potty training.)

Food storage is something my church leaders counsel members to accumulate and rotate. I find that growing a garden and canning what we grow really cuts down on grocery costs. Also, cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier than buying ready-made foods or eating out.

By doing laundry only once a week, I save on the cost of electricity, natrual gas, water and laundry products. Running full loads is the most cost-effective way to do laundry. It also allows me to track what my kids are throwing in the wash. I've had to lecture my oldest daughter that just because she's worn something doesn't mean it's dirty. My kids have been taught to use their senses: if something looks dirty, it's dirty. If it smells dirty, it's dirty. If it feels dirty, it's dirty. If is doesn't look, feel or smell dirty, it's not dirty. Hang it up! Loula Belle has been warned that she can't get new clothes until she learns how to take care of the clothes she currently has. (Excessive washing wears out clothes and mothers!)

The best way to save money is to keep a budget and spend less than you make. Remember, budget is NOT a four-letter word!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The upside of falling down . . .

Since I started this new low carbohydrate lifestyle at the end of August I've had three days of limitless carb consumption. Yesterday was one of those days.

I'm not going to make excuses for myself, and I'm not going to fall permanently off the wagon. In fact, I'm learning that my occasional falls back into old eating habits are highly illustrative of why a low carbohydrate diet is so necessary for my health.

I've learned:

High carb consumption makes me retain water. Lots of water. And water retention makes my joints hurt. Water retention also makes sleep more difficult, not just because I'm a side sleeper and my hips are tender, but also because my hands go tingly and fall asleep -- which wakes me up during the night.

When I eat a lot of carbs I'm more tired and fatigued. When I'm tired and fatigued, I'm snappy and irritable. (I'm a nicer mom on fewer carbs.)

After a binge of carbs -- especially carbs from bread -- I wake up with a stuffy/runny nose. I used to think that I had an allergy to something, and now I'm wondering if it's to wheat in large quantities.

I have 'hot flashes' after a high carb meal and facial flushing. I don't have rosacea, I have high carb rosacea.

The day after a carb-fest I experience carbohydrate cravings. Bad!

There you have it. Learning from mistakes is the upside of falling down.

In other news, I've decided that reading about eating makes me want to eat. And whether it's carbs or protein and fats, eating too much isn't conducive to weight loss. So for the month of October I'm going to stop reading Dr. Phil's weighloss book and books about low-carb living.

I'll simply write down what I eat and count the net carbs. I'm going to try the Dr. Atkins approach and try to stay under 25 net carbs each day. I'm hoping that by jump-starting my weight loss I'll be able to feel energized to walk more and be more active all day.

Life is for living, not for dieting and obsessing about weight.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Best Analysis of the Billion Dollar Wallstreet Bailout

Americans everywhere are watching to see what Congress will do about the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout. We've taken the Wall Street Journal for years, but I've never read it like I'm reading it now.

My gut reaction is that the bailout is bad news for America. I wrote to my U.S. representatives over a week ago urging them to use caution and discretion.

In all my reading and watching of the news, I found the most thoughtful and convincing analysis from my local newspaper this morning. Kim Burgess, of the Herald Journal, interviewed USU professor Tyler Bowles. You can read his take on the bailout by clicking here. (It's at http://hjnews.townnews.com/articles/2008/10/03/news/news02.txt)

My favorite quote from Professor Bowles is, "We do know that the world only ends once, and this probably isn't it."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Some Favorite Books of All Time

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favortie books of all time.

The Story of My Life, Helen Keller

Maisie Dobbs (mystery series), Jacqueline Winspear

The Penderwicks / The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Jeanne Birdsall

Peter and the Starcatchers (series), Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

A Long Way from Chicago / A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck

Peace Like a River, Leif Enger (which I found second hand today for $1.00)

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (series), Alexander McCall Smith

Cheaper by the Dozen, Frank b. Gilbreth, Jr.

The Five Love Languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate, Gary Chapman

A Girl Named Zippy (autobiography), Haven Kimmel

Moonraker's Bride, Madeleine Brent

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein

Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The Persian Pickle Club, Sandra Dallas

Sarah: Women of Genesis (series), Orson Scott Card

Anne of Green Gables (series), Lucy Maud Montgomery

A Heart Like His, Virginia Hinkley Pearce

Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale

Austenland, Shannon Hale

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Anne Frank: The diary of a young girl, Anne Frank

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

What to do with tofu ...

In anticipation of making some homemade miso soup, I bought tofu at the store last week. But when I looked up on-line recipes, I discovered that the grocery stores I frequent don't carry the miso paste necessary to make the recipes. Plus the miso soup craving passed. So what am I going to do with the tofu?

I googled "tofu recipes." When in doubt, google it. Although I spent a summer as an exchange student in Japan and don't mind tofu, none of the recipes I found on-line sounded very appealing to me . . . . Until I found a tofu smoothie recipe.

I used 1/2 of my tofu package (approx 7 oz.)
1 c. half and half
1/2 c. Splenda sweetner
1/2 c. whole milk
3 fresh peaches, sliced (w/ skins)
1 c. frozen yellow raspberries
lots of ice cubes

Vroooom went the blender, and slurp went the smoothie. Right down the hatches of my hungry family.

I'll be honest with you. . . . I wasn't totally honest with my family. The smoothie didn't taste exactly like the smoothies the Hansens have been used to. If anyone in my family asked why it tasted a little different, I explained that I'd used Splenda in it instead of sugar. That satisfied them, and they finished off their smoothie.

Because I still had 1/2 a package of tofu left in the fridge, I made myself another smoothie today for an afternoon snack:

3 oz. tofu (approximately)
1/2 c. whole milk
1 fresh peach, sliced (w/ skin)
1/4 c. Splenda (scant)
12 ice cubes

I estimate that it had 11 grams of protein and 14 net carbs. And it was delicious!