Monday, November 29, 2010

Mamavation Monday

Over the past few weeks, I've honestly completely lost track of my weight loss/progress. Between a visit to Indiana to see an old friend and Thanksgiving, things just haven't been spectacular in the eating department.

Time for a clean slate. My weight is 247.6 lbs as of this morning.

A lot of times (meaning every year) I tend to assume Thanksgiving-Christmas is just a time for bad eating. This is absurd. There are FOUR weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is no need to eat unhealthy that entire time, and frankly I think it's ridiculous that people use the holidays as an excuse. Yes, we may over-indulge on these days...but they're just that: DAYS. Not weeks. Not months. I enjoyed myself on Thanksgiving, and I plan on enjoying myself on Christmas as far as food goes...but my goal this year is to not slip into bad habits during those in-between weeks.

Thanksgiving is behind me, left-overs are gone, and the kitchen is once again bare. I say good riddance. NO. MORE. TURKEY. It's time for me to go to the store and stock up on healthy, yummy stuff and get back on track with my weight loss.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Pastured Eggs Are Better


I've never been a huge egg fan.

They were ok, but I didn't wake up in the morning craving some fried eggs. Occasionally, I would enjoy some eggs over-easy but ONLY if there was toast for me to dip into the yolk. Scrambled eggs were ok too, but again...not the biggest fan in the world.

In fact, I was never a big breakfast eater. I could never bring myself to eat as soon as I woke up and refused (REFUSED!) to wake up early enough to allow myself the amount of time to eat breakfast. Sleep > Food.

On the off chance that I did eat breakfast, it was usually cinnamon rolls on Sundays before Sunday School, or some non-breakfast item. I distinctly remember eating Spaghetti-O's for breakfast one morning when I was 6 or 7 and then throwing them up on the bus on the way to school. Nice.

I know breakfast is good for you. I know it prevents you from binging the rest of the day (I was always STARVING by lunch) and boosts your metabolism, so I recently made a distinct effort to start eating breakfast. I decided on a protein-rich breakfast because I just generally enjoy savory foods more than sweet ones, and the only easy sweet breakfast that's fast and easy are smoothies. I don't think the rest of my household would appreciate our exceptionally noisy blender before everyone else is awake.

So I logically came to start buying eggs. Again, I thought they were just "ok"...I didn't wake up craving my breakfast, but in general didn't mind eating it either. I then started to do some research on food and decided to start buying free-range eggs. They tasted about the same, but I was confident I was getting more nutrients and felt good that those chickens were being treated better.

Then I started to do MORE research. As it turns out, "free-range" chickens don't generally roam around outside in pastures, they simply have to have access to it. I thought to myself, "wouldn't they logically WANT to go in the pasture sometimes?" But it was obvious (after research) that they really didn't venture outside much. First of all, most of these free-range cartons also boasted that the chickens were fed an all vegetarian diet. Sure their corn and soy might not be genetically modified, but soy isn't the best thing for you regardless, and chickens are DESIGNED to eat worms and bugs. Just like I don't think vegetarianism is the wisest choice for humans (since we were created to be omnivores), I feel the same about chickens.

So I bought some local, pastured eggs. I saw the eggs at my local Whole Foods and decided to give them a try. I e-mailed the farm owners (who are about 30 miles from where I live) and asked them how they raised their chickens. They're put on rotating pastures and allowed to eat pretty much whatever they want to from the field, including bugs and worms.

The first time I cracked open one of these eggs, I noticed an IMMEDIATE difference. Instead of the muted-yellow yolks I saw in both "conventional" eggs and the free-range ones, these yolks were bright orange. A more vibrant color is an immediate indication of more nutrients. The eggs also seemed larger (despite the chickens not being given hormones). As soon as I took the first bite, the taste was also incredibly different. I would describe them as "creamier" or "denser." They were divine. For the first time in my life, I can't wait to eat breakfast tomorrow morning so I can have some more.

Not only do pastured eggs simply taste better, but research indicates they're better for you. They can have up to 40% more omega-3 fatty acids, 10% less fat in general, and up to 35% less cholesterol than conventional eggs OR organic, free-range eggs that aren't pastured. They're also higher in Vitamin A, D, and E due to the chicken's being in the sunshine. For every pastured egg you eat, you'd have to consumer 3-5 conventional eggs for the same number of vitamins.

So, if you can, I highly recommend finding a local farmer (or a store that sells eggs from local farms) that you can buy PASTURED eggs from. The taste will pull you in, but the nutrition will give you peace of mind. They're also cheaper than those organic, free-range ones from hundreds of miles away. JACKPOT!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Embrace the Bacon

For the past few weeks, I've been pouring over blogs such as Keeper of the Home, The Nourishing Gourmet, and Cheese Slave. I'm a little bit obsessed with FOOD PORN.

I used to watch the Food Network all the time and drool over Paula Deen's cream and butter soaked everything. I also had some very vivid dreams about Sandra Lee style "table-scapes". I realize I'm a nerd.

Then I realized I was unhealthy. Not just fat...because that was pretty obvious, but I realized although I'm young and still in pretty good health at the moment, my life would not remain so unless something changed. Enter: weight loss.

For the past several months that's what I've been concentrating on. At first, like any other "normal" dieter everything I bought was fat free, sugar free, boneless, skinless, and flavorless. I was not a happy camper. Gradually, I started doing more and more research and what I found was extremely obvious, yet surprising.

You see, over the past 60 or 70 years, our scientists have made gigantic discoveries about the human body. We only need x amount of calories and there are different types of cholesterol, and this type of food can do this and this other type of food will do that and so on. Enter the world of diet food. Low-fat, low-calorie everything. So logically with all of these new discoveries and creations people started eating healthier, maintaining healthy weights, and living full, active lives. The End.

Only except that's not what happened.

We, as a society, have gradually been becoming more unhealthy, in the midst of all this diet food hype. HOW CAN THAT BE?! Clearly something else has come into play. Processed food-like substances.

Yes, back in the day my grandmother cooked with lard (gasp!), drank whole milk, and probably didn't waste a whole lot of her time worrying about dark meat and light meat and trimming fat. People often say they didn't know any better back then...but look how much healthier they were. My grandmother is nowhere near obese, and meanwhile I'm sitting at 243 pounds and have probably shoved more "diet food" in my mouth in my lifetime than she could ever imagine.

That's why I'm embarking on a new journey to health. I hope I'll lose weight on the way. The more I research, the more I believe that processed foods of any kind not only damage our health (obviously), but actually prohibit weight loss.

Of course I'm not going to go out and stuff my face full of bacon and eggs, everything needs to be in moderation. But eggs are one of the most nutrition-packed foods out there. And bacon? When it comes from a healthy pig can be nutritious too. Some fats are essential for mineral and vitamin absorption and digestion!

So, (moderately) bring on the bacon! Bring on baking from scratch! I'm not afraid!

Here are some of my "food goals." I'll probably be introducing one or two a week. Something I consider "big" will be my only focus for one week (like baking without refined sugar) or I might do a few small ones in the same week (like making my own mayo and dressing).

-Eat more fish
-Pastured, organic eggs
-Grass-fed beef
-Organic chicken
-Organic milk/dairy products (cultured when appropriate)
-Fermented vegetables
-Soaked/sprouted grains
-Plant-based diet
-Local foods when available
-Bake my own bread
-Make my own yogurt and kefir
-Make my own mayonnaise
-Make my own salad dressing
-Remove refined sugar from my diet except on special occassions
-Make broth
-Fermented vegetables
-Make my own pasta
-Drink non-homogenized, pasteurized at low temps, whole milk

Check back to see my progress!

Mamavation Monday 11/8

I lost 2.0 lbs this week! w00t!

The funk I was in last week seems to have dissipated this week. I'm adjusting to the winter weather and I've (mostly) gotten over my illness.

I'm still struggling with my schedule issue. Since I'm currently not working outside the home, I tend to slip into a feeling of laziness that is detrimental to my whole day. Lame!

My focus this week will be eating as clean as I can for as cheap as I can. It's a fine balance between saving money and eating a diet full of whole, clean foods. On one end, you don't want to drop a ridiculous amount of money on fresh produce (in November) and high quality meat, but on the other you don't want to reduce yourself to eating everything out of a can. I'll let you know how this goes!

Lastly, and completely unrelated to anything that has to do with Mamavation, I got a hair cut yesterday! Before, my hair stopped right at my elbows and now it's just above my shoulders. I donated what was cut off to Locks of Love, thus the haircut was free! w00t! Frugality at it's best!

Here's a before and after for your viewing pleasure (you're welcome)

PS - I just noticed the difference in weight in my face! Am I just seeing things?

Hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mamavation Monday

Honestly, I really didn't feel like writing this post today (which is why it's late).

I wasn't avoiding it because I gained 2 lbs (grrrr!), but I've just been feeling lazy. It's "that time" and the weather just turned cold here, so the two things mixed together make for a rather zonked-out feeling CJ!

I had a pretty decent week with eating, it's not like I binged on a box of donuts or anything, I'm just feeling a little blahhhhhhhhh

I've also had some chest congestion starting a little earlier today, so I'm praying that goes away soon and doesn't develop into anything else.

Honestly, these past few weeks have been a little difficult for me. This new schedule (or lack thereof) while I'm looking for a job has just utterly demotivated me from doing anything. Totally lame.

On a lighter note, I've been reading a lot from the blog Keeper of the Home recently. If you haven't checked out Stephanie's site, I highly recommend it!

Topics covered include:
Homeopathic Remedies
Baking with soaked/sprouted grains
Cooking from scratch
How NOT to eat organic (as in, prepackaged and processed food is still expensive and just unnecessary even if it's USDA Certified Organic)
Baking with honey
The raw milk debate

I will tell you, her blog convinced me to give Kefir a go. Several months ago I would have NEVER IMAGINED anyone could convince me to drink it. I've only had one class so far, and it was a little sour for my liking. I added some raw honey to it and that helped tremendously. I don't think I'll be drinking a tall glass of this with dinner, but from what I've researched on it, the benefits are definitely worth a small glass every day or two.

Also, her grocery budget is low. I'm talking crazy low, and she lives in Canada...from what I know, food there tends to cost more than it does here in Kentucky. It makes me embarrassed to admit how much I spend on groceries a month (so I won't). She has some great posts and Q&A's about how to lower your food costs while still buying whole, natural, organic, REAL ingredients (Hint: make from scratch).

I'm going to try and get my act together a little bit more this week. A very small, additional goal I'm setting in place for myself is to get up and put actual clothes on first thing in the morning. Pajama pants just naturally make you want to lounge around, am I right?