Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Everything-Free

After taking a food intolerance test, I cut gluten and wheat/dairy out of my diet. Along with coconut, mushrooms, peanuts, shellfish, and being aware of yeast, peas, pepper and sesame seeds. It’s hard to be perfect. But I feel so much better, it’s worth trying. I’ve found there are good cheese alternatives, and avocados are a good cheese alternative. I’ve found it freeing to no longer avoid rice, bananas and nightshades. I’ve also really started eating more fish, and not avoiding ANY type of meat (beef, pro, chicken, turkey, etc., all on the table). My energy was fantastic, then I got sick, and it has waned a bit, but I’m still working out.

I also found Aldi not only has some great gluten-fee options (though many include eggs, sesame seeds, pea protein or yeast, all foods I try to avoid), they’re good options occasionally. Though, honestly, the gluten free cinnamon raisin bread this past week? That was more than occasional. And so good. I never knew gluten-free could be so good! They also had some vegan cheese shreds that were good with some gluten-free pizza crusts. They also have some gluten free chicken nuggets. I know, I’m not six. But I do like chicken nuggets.

I’ve found a bun-less, cheese-less burger is right up my alley. Add some avocado and some fries? I don’t even feel like I’m limiting. I also love fish, brown rice and any type of veggies. Or roasted potatoes? What a treat! I love bananas and strawberries with a bit of granola. And it’s strangely indulgent to have JUST an orange for a snack. Or a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I’ve found fantastic cracker alternatives I can spread some nut-based cheese spread on. And I’m pretty pleased.

Weight hasn’t exactly been falling off, but I’m lifting weights a few times a week (plus cardio!) and I can see my body changing. My measurements at the first of the year showed losses across my body. I feel stronger and my endurance is improving. I wish my energy would go up and be stable. But with being sick, and hormones, that may never be perfect.

I have a doctors appointment this month and am hopeful she will do panels on me to ensure none of my numbers are out of whack. I take iron, B12 and Vitamin D regularly. I also went on a banana and potatoes bender those first few weeks, which makes me think my potassium might have been low. So I’m interested to see how that goes, and feel hopeful for the future.

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This Is Not A Diet

I don’t know why the phrase, “This is not a diet” drives me so crazy. ESPECIALLY when it’s a group of people trying to eat the exact same way. Simply, a diet is what you eat. That can be restricted for health, weight loss or other reasons. But even if it’s not, what you eat is your diet. Also, collectively, what a community eats is their diet. So when you’re in a. Group of people eating keto, paleo, or even low-cal, that is still your diet. Diet isn’t a bad word. And saying, “This isn’t a diet, this is a lifestyle” doesn’t change how restrictive many of these ways of eating to lose weight are. And the restrictiveness is often the reason a different way of eating is temporary. It’s not because someone called it a diet.

And the truth of the matter is, most people change what they eat, their diet, because of health or weight reasons. And, often, the dramatic changes many claim you MUST make make it hard for that change to be worth it in the long term. I’m in a Facebook group for a workout plan I bought. I’ve never subscribed to what is, for me,a VERY restrictive diet/lifestyle/list of allowed foods and number of calories. It’s way too restrictive for me to last. So, call it what you want, I know it will be temporary. So I don’t bother. (That said, many people can simply not eat to lose weight. I’m not one of them. And if that works, good for you!)

Today a woman asked if something she was eating was allowed on this diet. Another patronizing member corrected her, told her this isn’t a diet, then proceeded to say, “This isn’t allowed on this way of life.” Sorry, call it what you want, if this whole group is (allegedly)’eating from the same plan, that is our diet. And telling someone they shouldn’t call it a diet because that feels too restrictive, but then tell them they can’t eat what they’re eating? You are lost.

Instead, why don’t we all just tinker around with food, testing, etc., until we find what works for us. Then mind our own business about it? She could have just said, “if you feel good eating that, eat it.” Which in the long run would be more productive.

My diet consists of whatever I want to eat that makes me feel good. Right now, I’m experimenting with no wheat, dairy, mushrooms, coconut and pineapple because a test I took suggested my body may not like them. In six months I might find something works better. But the days of blanket restricting foods, food groups or other dramatic sweeping changes with no specific reason other than it worked for someone else are gone. But, that said, what I eat is my diet. And some days my diet works better for my health and energy than others.

Society’s Reinforcement vs Happiness

A week or so ago, I saw an article posted on social media about a couple who spent a few years really buckled down to paid off their home and traveled in their RV. They used that home and three other rental properties as income streams to finance the traveling. It was hardly revolutionary. I clicked on the comments thinking I’d see others who had similarly focused for several years and now were reaping the rewards of freedom from a corporate job, or some sort of middle,ground. My personal goal is to get to a point where I can work part time, but a part time job that still offers health insurance.

Instead, almost all I found in the comments were bitter people proclaiming, “No kids. Of course. Rich get richer.” It was interesting because last I checked, people aren’t require to have children (or get married). Although as a child, I assumed I’d get married and have children, I NEVER felt like either were a requirement as I got older and, quite frankly, realized I didn’t want children. I would maybe be drawn to help a teenager in foster care get started as an independent adult. But I’ve never wanted a bunch of babies, toddlers, preteens, etc., filling up my house. It never sounded like my perfect scenario. In fact, the older I got, even marriage sounded like a compromise I wasn’t willing to make. So many men I met wanted a wife who is submissive, does all of the housework (basically his maid and housekeeper). I know not all men are that way, but even if that’s off the table, my life has always been happier with more freedom. I have never once considered settling for any guy just to get married.

So, the question is, are these people being victims, but happy with where they are. Or bitter because they didn’t go for the life they really want?

We only get one go around at this life. We should be doing the things that we are passionate about, with ultimate goals that make us happy. Not that conform, please others, or get us things we don’t really want or need.

New Year, New Inspiration

I love New Years, months, even Mondays. OK, I don’t like Mondays. I have a soul. But as far as motivation goes, there’s something about staring fresh on the first day of the week, month and especially year. And for anyone out there looking to do more of something, less of something, start something, quit something, or anything else, good luck? I hope the new year is the push you need to make the change!

One of my pet peeves are negativity spreaders around the first of the year. All year long, these same people judge others for not having motivation to make changes. Then this day comes around, and they shit all over the shared inspiration. If you’re this hater, stop. Please. Everyone is on a path of self-improvement. We all have ways we could be better. Better to ourself, better to one another, better to the earth. Mostly, we could all be better to ourself. And when we are better to ourself, we are generally better to those around us.

This year, I have been lucky enough to make some changes and be inspired prior to the start of the year, so I don’t have a lit to change tomorrow. However, I do have a lot to keep up. Everything I’ve changed in the past several weeks still needs time to set into a habit. And I want to see physical progress. So, what are my goals?

  • Workout 250 times. This is about five times a week. And admittedly a stretch. When this past year, there were weeks and weeks in a row I had no energy to workout at all. What I did learn this past year: when I can’t workout hard, a walk is a good, respectable workout.
  • Meditate 250 times. Same pace, and also a stretch. These meditations can be 10 minutes. The goal is to keep my mental wellbeing at the top of my list, next to physical. What I’ve learned over the past year: the more I meditate, the better I deal with everyday stress.
  • Stick to eliminated diet through March. From there, I can consider adding back foods as a test, or if I’m not feeling well, maybe try eliminating some of the lower ranked items. For now, I’ve eliminated a decent amount of foods and feel leaps better. I know compliance with this restrictive diet won’t be 100%. It is almost impossible to join someone at their house for dinner without being high maintenance, or enjoy a dinner party even I throw, without having some deviance. But I am hopeful over time, I’ll feel less and less inclined to “cheat” on special occasions. For now, my goal is to stick to the diet 100% of the time when I can control it. Which is at least 80% of the time, if not more.
  • Get in a size 12. This is my vanity goal, and lowest priority. Though I know the three above will improve my health, I’d love to lose inches while I get healthier. To track this goal, I’m going to keep measurements.

That’s it! It seems like a lot, but all it comes down to is tracking workouts, meditations and measurements. I’m already used to tracking workouts so I’ll add a red star on days I meditate. I’m also tinkering around with the Habit app. And being honest with myself and organized enough to not take the easy route on eating. I’m not quitting carbs or eating paleo or giving up all eating out or anything else extreme like I’ve done in the past. And unlike all of those diets, I actually feel better eating this way. For the first time. I hope the years of fatigue will make eating better easier. I actually like working out, and see results fro, meditating. So this s like the past six years of experimentation are coming together!

I am truly excited for 2018, and hope anyone else, even if you’re like me and have tried and not quite succeeded in the recent past, will join me in harnessing the new year motivation and inspiration! May as well start now, because then we will be started!

The Addiction to the Process

I was watching an older Intervention episode last night where the addict said she also finds she’s addicted to the process of getting high: acquiring the drugs, preparing them, tying up her arm, shooting up, etc., and I felt like that was really observant and self-aware. And I started to wonder what processes I’m addicted to. I have found there’s a process for me to get ready to workout. Some days I can jump right in. Others, I have to research my videos, select just the right one, find the right clothes, etc.

Now I’m NOT comparing exercise to the true addiction of heroin. But I do think part of what I love is getting everything setup. The anticipation of the workout is exciting, too. I spent a few hours today poring through workout attire, and bought some new tops, bottoms, sports bras and even heavy cover ups if I ever get back into running or walk during these colder months. Sometimes not having everything just so stops me from starting that workout, or even simply going for a walk. This way, clothes are always there.

I’ve also tried to spend some time sorting my workout DVDs so I know what kinds they are, length, and even will start rating them. As I posted yesterday, I wrote a workout rotation to hopefully cut down on so,e of the exercise choice issues I’ve had. Now some additional workout clothes and sorted out dressers will stop me from hunting for the right clothes, or not working out because I haven’t done laundry. I did the same thing with additional socks last year. Just having more socks increased the frequency of my walks.

I’ve also found there’s something exciting about reading about or discussing workouts with others that gets and keeps me motivated. In the early 2000s, when I was most motivated working out, I was on a very active workout board. Now with Facebook, it’s much harder to be anonymous, and I miss the ability to be more open, so I connect less. But that full circle is part of what makes working out fun for me. When I talk to other friends about the workouts I love (mostly The Firm and a few Cathe), my IRL friends recommend workouts at the Y or other video workouts that are more trendy.

But I’ve found simply talking a little here, even into a void, is very motivating for me. It’s part of the process, and the process can me as much fun as the high of doing.

Firm 90 Day Rotation

In an attempt to ride my motivation wave all the way to the shore, I did some research and wrote a Firm rotation calendar last night. That’s when you know you’re ready – you don’t make the excuse to wait another week until January 1st. Instead, I’m starting tomorrow. I even had to force myself to take a rest day after seven straight workouts.

The Firm is known for their 90 day rotation calendars. You got a rotation calendar with each system when they started making the BSS sets specifics to the workouts in that set. And although I didn’t know of The Firm in the 80s and 90s, I have seen rotation calendars from then that were more generic. Do this type of workout this day. So I pulled some information from a 90 day calendar, adjusted it slightly to let me do more tortoise-style workouts, and feel excited for the next 90 days! I setup my calendar with the same day off every week (Monday!), and did six days a week, with the option to take an additional day off. Hell, even if I workout 3-4 days a week, that’s leaps over last year.

If you want to write your own rotation calendar, first you want to categorize your workouts. If your workouts are listed in this compendium, it’s pretty easy to categorize. Or, you can make an educated guess. I think sculpt, cardio, hare and tortoise are easy. But the classics are a bit more confusing to separate from hare and tortoise.

Sculpting– These are the all weights-based workouts. They can be total body, or upper/lower split workouts.

Cardio– Though I don’t know if there’s a Firm workout that’s 100% weight-free, these are the workouts that just use the lightest weights, and are high step intensive.

Tortoise– These are slow and heavy workouts. 75% weights, 25% cardio. These workouts tend to let you go heavier, have less four-limb. And also seem to have less of those upper and lower combined lifts (squats and overheads combined, etc.). These are closest to Sculpt workouts.

Hare– These are fast and light. 75% cardio, 25% weights. You do more four limb in these workouts. More cardio based, more lighter weights with more, faster reps.

Classics– These are 50/50 weights and cardio. These are the first six Firm classics videos (volumes 1-6). This is how The Firm started. There are other workouts classified as Classics. For example, Complete Aerobics and Weight Training from BSS2 and Total Muscle Shaping from BSS3.

Then I created my calendar based off of information in the compendium linked above. Adjusting a bit to allow me to do more tortoise-style workouts, and to have some repetition among weeks to hopefully see improvement. 90 days is 12 weeks.

Week 1, 3 and 9

  1. Sculpt
  2. Cardio
  3. Classic (R)
  4. Sculpt
  5. Cardio
  6. Tortoise
  7. Rest

Week 2, 4 and 10

  1. Tortoise
  2. Hare (R)
  3. Sculpt split
  4. Cardio
  5. Tortoise
  6. Hare
  7. Rest

Week 5 ,7 and 11

  1. Sculpt split
  2. Cardio
  3. Tortoise
  4. Cardio (R)
  5. Tortoise
  6. Cardio
  7. Rest

Week 6 & 8

  1. Sculpt
  2. Hare
  3. Cardio
  4. Hare (R)
  5. Sculpt
  6. Cardio
  7. Rest

Week 12

  1. Tortoise
  2. Classic
  3. Hare (R)
  4. Tortoise
  5. Cardio
  6. Tortoise
  7. FINISH!

Unless listed as a sculpt split, anything listed as sculpt should be total body. If you prefer classics for some reason, you could easily swap some of the tortoise workouts for more classics. The (R) next to a workout means it’s an optional workout. I leaned toward skipping cardio and hares. Thought that’s again purely preference. If I do six workouts, I’ll stick to the program. If I want a break, that gives me a planned potential rest.

I’ve recorded my measurements, weight, etc., and I’ll check in with my progress. Hopefully I haven’t been too optimistic in what I can do!

Anyone out there seen great results with a rotation? I don’t think I’ve ever done a rotation all the way through. Partly because I didn’t have enough workouts in the past to follow the published ones. And with the BSS1 rotation that came with the set, I improved slowly at first, so I went slower. Then I went faster and wanted to do workouts more quickly. So I modified. But in my years in between, I try to alternate sculpt and cardio, or not do too many tortoises in a row. So I’ve been doing a modified calendar, except with a lot of, “What workout should I do?” leading up to workouts. This way, I’ll have a planned workout, or can easily shift to a similar workout.

We’ll see if I still love tortoise-style workouts after this! :) I got a ton of success with just Cardio Sculpt and Body Sculpt (heavy on Cardio Sculpt), so I feel hopeful!

A Summary of Weight Loss, Gain, and Progress

I am a person who believes everyone has a workout or workouts that are more fun than work. For some people it might be walking or running or hiking. For others it might be lifting weights or playing a sport. For others it might be hard work or even building things. My favorite workout is playing volleyball. But I also really enjoy simple aerobics, short runs, and the strength I feel lifting weights.

As a teenager, I discovered my love of volleyball. At first I thought it was just hanging out with my friends that was fun. And it was. But that didn’t carry over into other sports I played with those same friends. In college I got an office job, and all of the daily activity I had, whether just moving around every hour, waitressing several days a week, or even my high school conditioning class, went away. My previous effortless wait maintenance was now not so effortless.

Throughout college I slowly gained sixty pounds. The summer and fall after college I tried to lose weight in ways I hear others in the early 2000s lost weight: walking, trying to run, and aerobics workouts. Kickboxing was really popular. I didn’t mind any of those workouts (except running), but I never lost weight. My sister got married in late summer/early fall, and the bridesmaids dresses were a nightmare. My mom made the dresses and one day said something, I don’t think intended to be mean, about how she wasn’t sure she could make her pattern fit me because I was bigger than the biggest pattern. It broke my heart, and probably truly was the changing point for me. I suddenly really saw my body the way others saw it. I felt ashamed.

As an aside, I DO NOT believe in shame as a mechanism to weight loss. My mom wasn’t a mean person, and I think my whole life has said four things to me about my body. She says them with love, and I know she loves me despite my weight. But she’s a nurse and she can be somewhat clinical. She has struggled with her weight, and I think she just wanted me to get it together before I got too heavy, or too far into my habits. So, that comment sparked me, but if that’s all she ever said to me, it never would have worked. She was supportive throughout my journey, and gave me encouragement when I wanted to quit. So, don’t think calling your daughter fat, or shaming her is the answer. Just to be VERY clear. It isn’t.

I also learned about counting calories. As an adult, I know women who started dieting in their early teens, or even earlier. So to not find out about dieting until I was 22 was probably a nice reprieve from reality. And was also lucky my mom approached it in a healthy, “Count how much you eat for a week or two eating normally, then start eating less than that” was much healthier, I found, than the, “Eat as little as possible” approach so many other women followed.

I found I didn’t mind eating fewer calories. I ate less bread and fatty foods (this was the early 2000s – low fat was still a thing, so I ate lower fat cheeses, desserts, etc., and it did save me calories). Up to that point, I hated most vegetables, but I forced myself to eat them to figure out how I liked them. Or, in many cases, I’d hide them in recipes to create bulk for fewer calories.

But, for me, the desire to make diet changes has always had to come with exercise. I like to feel good while working out, and eating well made me feel better. So the true change happened when my mom suggested I find a workout that included weights. She’s a proponent for women to lift weights for bone density and strength, and in general to be able to eat more and look more toned.

I’d never noticed any strength-based workouts before, but I knew I didn’t mind weights from my high school conditioning class. However, I was a poor-just graduated, new to the workforce, making no money, looking to buy my first house, and couldn’t afford a gym membership. I sat on the information for a few weeks, and one day saw an informercial for a Firm workout. Lots of success stories,women saying they didn’t have to starve themselves, a ten workout guarantee, bright sets, women in matching outfits with toned bodies. But it felt so expensive. I watched that infomercial every time it was on, sometimes seeking it out. One day I asked my mom if she thought infomercial stuff was dumb while I was watching it and she said, “I think any workout you do is a good product.” I told her how expensive it was, and she said it’s probably cheaper than the gym, and being healthier is worth the cost. She even offered to lend me the money if I wanted to pay it back slowly. But I had the money, and if I remember correctly, you were able to purchase in two or three payments. I called and ordered my Body Sculpting System right up!

I ordered before my 23rd birthday, and the workouts came in on my birthday day off of work. It was a Friday. My sister and I had gone to lunch. I got home and my mom said I’d gotten a package. IT’S HERE! I opened it up and ignored the instructions to watch the workout first. I put the workout in in the living room. And started doing it.

It was the hardest workout I’d ever done. In fact, my dad came home from work and I was doing weightless leg presses, and he looked at me somewhat confused. And I said, “Don’t say anything, this is the hardest workout I’ve ever done.” He said, “This will be the hardest it ever is.” That night, my mom suggested I put my workout stuff in the basement so I could setup a space with my weights, when I bought them, even offering me her set of 2lb weights to borrow. And that was it. I slowly bought 3lb and 5lb weights. I waited to get 8s, as I did no weights for light weights for a long time, and even eschewed weights on leg presses and lunges. I was sore for days after each workout. Sometimes taking two or three days off instead of one. I worked through the rotation calendar, doing the workouts in the order suggested (I remember doing Cardio Sculpt several times before I moved on to Body Sculpt).

I was expecting immediate weight loss results because I didn’t understand you didn’t immediately lose the weight of the calories you burned off. I didn’t understand retaining water when you work muscles, or how hormones impact water weight. After two workouts in weighed myself and about lost it. My mom suggested writing my weight down as my “highest weight,” putting the scale away, doing the workouts, and weighing in “a month or so.” Well, in that month, I bought a house. I still did my workouts, although maybe only 2-3 per week, I was also working on my house every weekend, and I’d have occasional weeks I’d work ten hour shifts, so I’d go do manual work at the house on my day off. I thought very little about food, did my workouts when I could, slowly increasing weights and getting more endurance, until one day my mom and I were at a home improvement store and I was tugging on my sweats. “The stupid elastic must have gone out in these.” My mom said, “When is the last time you weighed yourself?” And I said, “The day you told me to stop weighing myself.” And she told me I should get back on the scale. The next morning I did, and I’d lost over 20 pounds in three months. And it looked like a lot more than twenty pounds because of the muscle I’d put on. I lost ten more pounds and was back in my high school clothes. Ten more (after adding in about two 1 1/2-2 mile a week runs) and I was the smallest I’d ever been post-puberty. I was down just around forty pounds, and smaller than my high school size, but about 35 pounds heavier.

What is this witchcraft?

I stayed motivated for some time, and then got bored, and let my career take the front seat. And then my freedom living on my own for the first time. Once I made a little more money, I’d go out to eat more or out for drinks. Before I knew it, I’d gained about 30 pounds back. One of my sisters was getting married about about a year, and we all decided to lose weight together.

So I stated over. We weighed in every weekend together. And once I started doing my Firms, the weight melted off. This wedding, in sharp contrast to the last wedding, was so different. At one point my mom told me to stop losing weight because if she kept taking my dress in (this time store bought, I bought the size that fit at the time), it might start to look weird. Eventually she said, “Oh, I can keep taking it in. I just want it to fit on the wedding.” I got down to right where I was the first time around, and stayed there until I started working 60-100 hours a week plus going to grad school. 2 1/2 years later, the weight was back.

After I graduated I got a terrible sinus infection. I was treated with antibiotics and a z-pak. I got over my sinus infection, then got REALLY sick. And by sick I mean I had diarrhea after everything I ate or drank. Everything. This went on for about a month until I felt weak, probably from dehydration. I have no idea why I put up with it for so long. Or why no one thought to say, “Hey, take a probiotic!” I lost 20 pounds in less than a month, and finally got my stomach sorted out. I kept working long hours, but started to squeeze in working out. I got down to about 170, ten pounds higher than my previous low. But never made it past that.

Then I slowly started gaining weight back, and getting more and more tired. Probably physical burnout from working so much, but also I never felt 100% after that sinus infection. I gained fifteen pounds, and couldn’t get the energy to workout. Food was messy, and this is when I started trying every diet known to man, thinking the right diet would give me better energy. I quit my position at work for a less stressful one, and tried to sleep more. Weight kept coming on. I got up to 30 pounds higher than my HIGHEST weight. And nothing I did would turn me around. I had no energy to workout. Foods I’d eaten in the past to curb my appetite weren’t working. I finally started long term fasts, where I’d eat nothing for days. That’s the only thing that worked, which convinced me something or some combination of something I was eating was the problem, but I couldn’t figure out what. I lost ten pounds that stayed off from fasting, then tried keto thinking maybe it was a blood sugar thing. I lost water weight, and maybe a few pounds of fat, but then I stalled and slowly started gaining. The diet was OK, but hard to maintain, and my energy sucked and I was always hungry. Eventually I gained my weight back (except the water weight), and quit keto, when I gained the water weight back.

And here I am over the past six months or so, trying to figure out what’s wrong. I finally took that food sensitivity test, and feel better than I have in years. I’m working out again, and though I haven’t lost much weight, I can feel my body changing. I’m just hopeful if, when, this works, I can stay focused and keep the weight off for good this time. Continue to change my routine to challenge myself, keep retesting food intolerances as soon as something seems off, and make my health a priority.

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