Thursday, September 19, 2013


Hey kiddies, been a while! Well I've been working on a project with my mom for a while that has FINALLY come to fruition! That's right, 7 Bites is almost ready for the world!! So THIS blog will be moving over to THAT blog - I will post all my articles and updates on the 7 Bites blog starting next week. That link will be coming soon! Can't wait for you all to join this journey!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Difference Between The Sleeve and Other Weight Loss Surgeries

I've had a lot of people ask me questions on this.
"Why is the sleeve so different?"
"Why the sleeve and not (enter other WLS here)?"
"What's the difference between the sleeve and (enter other WLS here)?"

There are so many surgeries out there, which one should a person chose? Which one is right for you?

I chose the sleeve because it fit in with my lfiestyle and what I wanted out of surgery. I didn't want to have to deal with the complications that can (and often DO) arise from the bypass or duodenal switch. I didn't want to have to continuously go back to the doctor for adjustments like you do with the band, and I wanted to know that there was no going back with this - that I couldn't reverse it even if I wanted to.

The sleeve is different than any other surgery out there for many reasons, here are just a few:

1. There is no pouch. With the gastric band and the bypass, the patient is left with a pouch at the top of their stomach. This pouch consists both the strong, muscular part of the stomach and the looser stretchier part. When used properly, this pouch restricts the amount of food that a patient can take in, therefore reducing calorie count significantly. The downside of the pouch is that since it does contain some of the stretchier stomach material, it can stretch, and often does. There are many, many stories of people "eating around" their band or their bypass. Not losing weight, or gaining a lot of weight back. This happens because the top of the stomach (the pouch) can stretch out to almost the size of the stomach prior to surgery.

2. Your intestines are left alone. With both the gastric (roux en y) bypass and the duodenal switch, your intestines are re-routed. This causes malabsorption of both calories and nutrients. The upside to this is that, especially for DANGEROUSLY obese people, the weight loss is very quick and efficient. The downside is that - well, you're not absorbing nutrients! Many people that have had these surgeries have to take multiple vitamin and mineral supplements daily. Another downside to this is what's called "dumping syndrome". While the sleeve patient does live with some dumping in the first 12-18 months, by the second year it has disappeared. With the bypass and duodenal switch patient, however, it is a consistent issue for the rest of his/her life.

3. It's permanent. The lap-band, bypass, and duodenal switch (the intestinal portion) are all reversible. The sleeve is not (keep in mind that the first step in the duodenal switch is removal of a portion of the stomach, similar to the sleeve. This portion of this surgery is NOT reversible). There IS no "changing your mind" after surgery. In my personal opinion, having the option of reversal is almost like giving yourself a way out. "If I don't like it, I can get it fixed" - almost like going into marriage with the mindset that "if this doesn't work out I can always get a divorce". It doesn't work that way with the sleeve. It's yours, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, 'til death do you part.

4. It's foolproof ... Mostly ... At least for the first year.  You really can't mess things up. Okay, well there was this one story my doctor told me about one of his patients that didn't lose any weight because all she ate was ice cream. Okay, come on, ICE CREAM?? That was her own fault, because I KNOW she got some nutrition training (my doc's nurse is a certified nutritionist and she's amazing). My point is this, though. MOST of us - at least in the first year - can't eat ice cream anyway or we'll get really sick. After the first two months (of which are spent in liquid and soft foods diet phases), you can eat what you can tolerate. And you will still lose weight. At least for the first year. There is no stretchy portion of the stomach, so you CAN'T overeat - or you'll get very, very sick. For the first year there will be things you can't tolerate - your body will take care of that for you as well. So you see, you really can't mess things up the first year. After that, your stomach will relax and the amount you can eat will increase slightly, so you will have to be more mindful of that. But as long as you stick to the diet plan that your nutritionist tells you to (which I can tell you right now will be - PROTEIN FIRST), you'll be just fine.

It was not an easy decision for me to make the choice to have weight loss surgery. I fought against the idea for years. Literally, YEARS. The day my husband looked at me and told me he didn't want to lose me was the day I made that choice. And I will never regret it. While I'm not where I WANT to be as far as my weight goes, I am so much healthier than I have ever been. I am able to do things now that I couldn't do even in my teen years. I am so thankful for the tool that I have been given with the sleeve and I will never go back.

Thank you all for joining me on my journey! God bless!

Don't forget to check out my vlog on my You Tube channel.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The More I Learn, The Less I Know . . .

I have said this statement more than any other in my life.
And, can I just say, that sometimes TOO MUCH INFORMATION does more damage than good.
There are so many "eating lifestyles" around now, how can a person tell what they should or should not be eating?
This is a topic I've revisited again, and again.
And I've come to a realization.
Since my surgery, I cannot look at food as a non-surgery person looks at food anymore.
I should have had this figured out a year ago, but I didn't.
You see, a year ago, I was still in the mindset that, after healing, I could go back to eating whatever I wanted, only in smaller amounts.
This is a lie that I was telling myself.
Actually, this is a lie that MY ADDICTION was telling me.

Yes. I am an addict.
I have talked about this before - several times, I'm sure. But it doesn't sting any less for me to say that out loud.
Yep, I had to say it again.

So, here's what I'm learning:

Eating for sleevers is NOT the same as "dieting".
We can no longer be on diets, actually.
We have to eat a certain amount of certain things daily for us to even be able to FUNCTION.
One thing I learned that is NOT a fad diet thing is that the human body requires a certain amount of protein, water, vitamins, and minerals a day in order to function. Without these primary building blocks, our bodies shut down. We become listless, have less energy, and become sick.
Some of what we need:
Protein: 60 g
Water:  64 oz
Calcium: 1000-1200 mg
Iron: 8-18 mg.

There's more, but these are the ones that I found to be the most important to a sleever specifically.
So, what does this mean?
This means we have to eat differently than everyone else on the planet.
Remember when the doctor told you "protein first"?
Yeah. He wasn't joking.
Where are the BEST sources of protein?
Well, here's something else I've learned of the last few days:

The leaner the protein source, the higher the protein count.
Yes. Really.

For example:

1 whole egg contains 6 g of protein.
1 egg white ALSO contains 6 g of protein.
I can eat a whole egg.
I can also eat TWO egg whites.
So, if I chose the egg whites over the egg, that's 12 g protein vs. 6!!

Here's another example:

1 oz of chicken breast contains 9 g of protein
1 oz of thigh meat contains a mere 4 g!
So, I can eat 3 oz of meat (usually) in a setting, so if I chose the breast over the thigh, I can get in about 27 g of protein - almost HALF of what I need!!

But what about fiber? Vitamins? Minerals??

All-natural gurus won't like this much, but:


Take your vitamins - DAILY.
If you need it, add a fiber supplement to your diet.
Yes, these vitamins and minerals are VERY IMPORTANT so PLEASE don't pooh-pooh them off!!

SO, now that this blog post has gone on for MUCH longer than I anticipated . . .
I think it's safe to say that I have learned a LOT over the past year.
And I have figured out that it's time that I start over - again.

Remember, kids:

Protein, water, vitamins.
God bless you all,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Tacon Turger Salad w/Condiment Vinagarette

This week I started a new challenge with my dear friend, Melissa who is a Beach Body coach! It's a mommy boot camp - 90 days of transformation. To learn more about why I'm doing this, check out my video here. Each Tasty Tuesday will include a delicious recipe along with my dinner and workout schedule for the week.

My program of choice is Body Gospel which is a high-spirit work out plan. It's mid-impact (not low, not high) and is easily modified for those that need it. What I like about it the most is the fact that it's spiritual in nature. Another great perk is that there is a variety of workouts, so you won't get bored with it for sure. The eating plan goes right along with it - it's a low GI plan filled with fresh foods and high fiber! Delicious!

Alright, enough about that, here's the recipe I know you've been waiting for!!

In our family we make turkey burgers and turkey bacon - a lot, in fact. We've made up our own word for both as well: tacon for turkey bacon and turger for turkey burger. It's fun to say and the kids love having Tacon Turger night!

With the hubbs and I lowering our carb levels, we decided that we would make this one with no bread - making it into a salad. Topped with a homemade dressing made of all the usual burger condiments, it hits the spot and doesn't feel like a deprivation in the least!

Tacon Turgers:

2 frozen turkey burger patties OR 1/4 lb. ground lean turkey, formed into patties and refrigerated for at least an hour.
4 slices turkey bacon

Cook burgers on grill (High) or in a skillet (med-high) on the stove - 3-5 minutes per side until cooked through (should be around 165 when checked with a meat thermometer).

Cook turkey bacon in a skillet coated with 1 tsp oil (I used coconut oil) and heated on medium heat. Flip every minute or so for the first five minutes, then every thirty seconds until as crisp as you like.


4 C chopped romaine lettuce, mixed greens, baby spinach, or a mix of all three
1/4 C chopped dill pickle
1/2 C cubed cheese of choice (I used an applewood smoked gouda!)

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.


1 T mustard
1 T mayonnaise
1 T Ketchup
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp celery seed

Mix all together in a small bowl until well combined.

Now assemble:

Put two cups of salad on a plate. Toss with 1 T dressing. Break up turkey burger over top. Top with two slices turkey bacon. Drizzle with a touch more dressing, if needed.

Delicious and so, so tasty!!!

And here's my menu for the week (Dinners only) with my workout schedule.

Tuesday: Bacon wrapped steaks, salad, roasted veggies - workout: Body Gospel Core Revelation
Wednesday: Turkey Bratwurst, sauerkraut, salad - workout: Body Gospel Body Revival
Thursday: Grilled Chicken Salad - workout: Body Gospel Stretch in the Spirit
Friday: Homemade pita pizzas, salad - workout: Body Gospel Body Revival
Saturday: Smoked chicken, roasted veggies - workout: Body Gospel Stretch in the spirit
Sunday: Grilled Turkey Burgers, Salad - workout: REST DAY
Monday: Portobello Mushroom pizzas, Salad - workout: Body Revival

Saturday, May 18, 2013

30-Day Paleo Challenge Weekly Update - Confessions of a Carb Addict ...

Well, this week has been decidedly NON-paleo for me.
I jumped right back on the whole "Oh, this won't hurt me - not this once!" bandwagon - but I jumped on it EVERY DAY THIS WEEK.
Yeah - it's been THAT kind of week.
It started when I got results back from my blood work with my primary doctor. According to him, I'm one of those people that is not only not effected by dairy, but actually NEEDS it in order to produce certain necessary vitamins and enzymes in my body. As a result, I added back in cheese and yogurt to my diet.

Now, cheese and yogurt are not bad things. But I never thought they'd be my gateway drugs into a path of destruction ...

Monday - I ate a half of a biscuit I had made for my kids. I had an allergic reaction! It was as if I had eaten an entire handful of pollen.  My nose stopped up, my eyes started watering, and my ears even started to act as though they were closing up. One step farther and I might have gone into anaphylaxis! So this tells me that I have some kind of reaction to wheat. Which I guess is good to know . . .

Tuesday - I took my children to the doctor for their check up, which actually ended up going very well. And it was a pretty good eating day as well, for me. It was all meat and veg that day - and I even made up a batch of hard boiled eggs that my daughter and I snacked on.

Wednesday -  I was having a BAD day. It was one of those "pity party" days where I just didn't feel good enough. I didn't want to get up and do anything. I was feeling like a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad EVERYTHING. Then my parents took us to lunch. I had a flauta and a few bites of rice and beans. I did NOT have a reaction to these things. But still . . . two days off the wagon in ONE WEEK??

Thursday - I was snacky. And the pediatrician had told us to clean out our cabinets this week of all unhealthy foods. So we did. And I had popcorn. And rice cakes. And a handful of gluten free snack crackers (my kids eat a lot of gluten free foods because they like them). And some cereal. Good heavens. My carb monster came out to play.

Friday - Friday was grocery shopping day. And another lunch with the fam. Which meant another flauta. I didn't eat the rice or beans - is that an improvement . . ?

So where did I go wrong? What was it that led to this inevitable downward spiral this week? Stress? Lack of will power? I'm not 100% sure. I know it's not the group - there is an AMAZING group of people that are very supportive there. I think it's something inside of ME - there's a reason I was up to 300 lbs. I am a food addict, plain and simple. This is something that I obviously need to work on for myself.

So as a result, this week I gained back the four I'd lost last week. Yeah, see what carbs does??
So how am I going to handle this next week?

Better planning, for one thing. I already have every meal planned to a "t" for the next week. Most of them are not, unfortunately, on Leanne's plan for the week, but that's only because we are on a very tight budget and the cuts of meat I can get are different from what is in the plan. But that's not going to affect my eating plan. I did shop this weekend and bought fruit and veggies, plus I still have carry over veggies from last week, so I'm good there. And all the carby snacks that were tempting last week? They're out of the house now, so those won't be a problem.

So here I go. Back to square one.
Next week should -
be better.  I know it.

How was your week? Sound off below!

Friday, May 10, 2013

30-Day Paleo Challenge Weekly Update

In case you missed this post, I've decided to give Paleo eating a shot. My friend Leanne over at Saving Dinner has issued a challenge! A 30-Day Paleo Challenge, to be exact. This challenge is a STRICT Paleo eating plan for 30 days. It began Monday and ends Wednesday, June 5th. Haven't joined yet? It's not too late! Run over there now and get signed up!

So how did this week go for me?

Well, I have a mouthful of canker sores. Not sure if that's b/c of something I'm eating or another reason, but it's NOT FUN. I can't seem to get rid of them. I was hoping that Paleo eating would help with this issue, but so far . . . notsomuch.

That being said, I do have GOOD news. I have lost about four pounds this week. Which means that AWFUL stall (you know - bouncing between 198-200?) is DONE. I am at 194! Whoop whoop! SO excited about that.

Do I feel better? Well, no. Honestly, I can't say that I really feel any different than before. But then, the only thing different I'm doing now than what I WAS doing is that I cut out dairy. I wasn't eating grains before, and it's been a long time since I've had any beans or other starchy veggies. I've also eaten more sweet potatoes than I have in a long time. Found that we REALLY like them. Maybe too much . . .

So what did I eat this week?
Lots of eggs. Bacon, ham, pepperoni, roast beef, pork tenderloin, moroccan spiced chicken legs, really good vegetable soup, lots of roasted and sauteed veggies. I also made some great paleo friendly pumpkin muffins. REALLY great.

Is it easy? Yes. Super easy. A lot easier than I actually expected, honestly. And fun! I am using spices that I've never thought I'd ever use (think coriander, curry, rosemary . . .). I am actually taking the time to MAKE my lunch (like sauteed shrimp and asparagus with cilantro-cashew pesto!). I am enjoying food. A lot. And watching my portion sizes to boot. Which is super important for us sleevers (ever heard the term sliming? Yeeaahh . . . You don't really want to know what that is . . .).

What do I miss? Sucralose. Stevia's just not cutting it for me.
                          Surprisingly, popcorn. I wasn't even THAT into popcorn (did you see my nose grow just
                          then?) Okay. I confess, I LOVE popcorn. Everything about it. But I can't figure out a
                          viable substitute . . . Yet. Just wait. I'll figure one out.
                          CHEESE. I. LOVE. CHEESE. A lot. And I miss it too. A lot. *They* say nutritional yeast
                          is a good substitute for cheese, but I'm sorry it's not. Not when you're craving a nice chunk
                          of a good aged raw-milk cheddar . . . Mmmm.

What I don't miss? Coffee creamer. I really thought I would. But I don't. I found a great one that is made
                              coconut milk. So Delicious Coconut Creamer. So far I've found plain, French vanilla,
                              and hazelnut. My favorite is hazelnut.
                              Peanuts and peanut butter. I am HOOKED on almond butter. It is the BOMB. Slather
                              some on a piece of celery and . . . Fuggitabowtit. SO delicious.
                              Crackers.  Who needs 'em when you've got so many other really yummy crunch things
                              like cucumbers, carrots, and celery. OMG, did I just say that? Yes. Yes I did.

So, challengers, how'd your first week go? Successes? Messes? Moments of "Oh my God what the heck am I doing??" Chime in and tell me how you're doing!

*Note - I was GOING to do a link up party, but the service I used - Linky tools - is now a PAID site. Bummer. So if you have a blog, please leave your link in the comments and I will be sure to visit!! Thanks for joining me in this journey!*

Friday, May 3, 2013

30 Day Paleo Challenge! Starts MONDAY!!

So I am stuck at 200 lbs.
I hate being stuck.
I have this HUGE fear of being stuck since I was at 285 for TWO YEARS.
I've been toying with the idea of changing my diet plan, and researching different eating plans for some time. One that really draws me in is the Paleo style eating plan.
What is Paleo? Well, in a nutshell, it's a diet with no grains, no legumes or beans, and no dairy. It sounds really weird, and very "fad" diet-ish. But it's backed by science. A LOT of science.
Now, as far as some of the philosophy ("This is what the caveman ate!") as a Christian Creationist that's not something that I buy into (but that's another blog post). But reading the research behind it has been a very interesting activity and one that I'm really glad I've done.

So what CAN you eat on paleo?
Meat. LOTS of meat.
And fat. Animal fat. You know, lard, bacon grease, chicken fat, pork fat, butter. . .
And other fats too - coconut oil, palm kernel oil, dende oil, olive oil, walnut oil . . . (just no peanut oil).
And lots of veggies - even sweet potatoes (in moderation).
Even fruit - apples, berries, mango, kiwi, citrus . . .
So, there's not a whole lot of  "denying" one's self.

What are the no-no's? Well, of course theirs the obvious - no dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. - butter is the one exception), no grains at ALL - including corn, wheat, rice, etc., no beans, no legumes, no peanuts, no peas. Also excluded are starchy veggies like peas, white potatoes, and fruits with a very high sugar content (bananas, etc - although they are not 100% excluded in every version of Paleo eating).

So, as you can see, there's really a whole lot more you CAN eat, than you CAN'T.

Well, you're eating a low carb diet filled with protein and vegetables. It can't be UNhealthy . . .

So what I'm leading up to is this.
My friend Leanne Ely runs this AMAZING website called Saving Dinner. If you've never been there, you need to go. NOW. Go on . . .  I'll wait . . .
. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

Oh, good, you're back! See! Isn't she AMAZING??
Well, she is doing something wonderful. She is starting a challenge that will last for 30 days.
It's called the 30 Day Paleo Challenge with Saving Dinner. If you have been thinking about eating Paleo, or wondering "what's all the hub-bub, bub?" about it, this is the PERFECT opportunity for you to try it out. And the best thing? You get emails, videos, and encouragement from Leanne DAILY.

Your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to FLY over to Saving Dinner and TAKE THE CHALLENGE!!

Every Friday I will do an update with a LINKY PARTY! So if you are taking the challenge (or even if you just want to link up!) you can come join in the fun! The Linky Party starts NEXT FRIDAY! And you have until MONDAY to sign up for the challenge. It will be the best $15 you've ever spent - seriously!

By the by - let it be known that I am NOT getting paid for this plug! This is a product that I 100% believe in and I think that you can benefit from it!

See you Friday!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Are We Health-Obsessed?

I recently found an article about an eating disorder I had never heard of:


In a nuthsell, orthorexia is an eating disorder where a person becomes obsessed with eating the most healthy diet possible, to the point of eliminating food groups such as dairy or meat from your diet. The problem here is that, over long periods of time, it can result in malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and other health problems.

Big business seems to be pointing us into the direction of a society filled with orthorexia. With new diets popping up all the time, many people are being sucked into believing that the only way to stay healthy is to only eat certian foods all the time, or to eliminate certain foods all the time. Diets such as the Paleo diet or Gluten Free (without having celiac disease) eating are just a handful of these elimination type diets.

While, short term, they can be quite harmless and even jump start weight loss, long-term they can cause problems. Some of which could be similar to those experienced by anorexic or bulimic people including hair/tooth loss, fertility problems, and even, in some cases, heart problems - all due to lack of vital nutrients.

What does this mean for the sleever?

Once upon a time, we were the ones that were trying every diet imaginable trying to find that "magic fit" - that one diet that would end our battles with obesity once and for all. To us, trying a new "fad diet" is just as natural as breathing. For some, it's even easier. We have fought so hard to be healthier versions of our former selves, and we will do anything to keep it that way. For those that have reached goal, the fear of gaining again looms over your head. For those of us that have yet to reach goal, the though of never losing those last 30-50 lbs terrifies us. As a result, we will try anything.

These eating plans are NOT necessarily unhealthy for the most part. In fact, some are very healthful in nature. But what is important to remember is that ANYTHING 100% of the time long term can have detrimental effects. Yes, it's good to eat meat and vegetables most nights. But, believe it or not, it's also healthy to have the occasional cookie or potato chip.

We need to move farther away from our food issues. Those are what got us here in the first place. I didn't get to 310 lbs by not having issues with food, let me tell you (but that's another post). But the point is, eat healthy 97.3% of the time. The other 3.7%, allow yourself some leeway. You will be better off for it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kick Start For Sleevers Week 2 (and Weekly Update)

Weekly Update: Last week was tough. Not because of what I was trying to eat, but because of what was going on in my life. This week is going to be just as tough as we are making transitions left and right in our little household. From homeschooling, to starting businesses, to working on cookbooks, to children moving location, it's becoming a little hectic around here. As a result, last week I succumbed to temptation a LOT. As a result, I gained weight. Did you know that you can gain weight on the sleeve? I didn't. This is the first time it's happened to me. But rather than sticking with all protein last week, I had carbs - sweets, chips, alcohol . . . It's my own doing. So this week, I am restarting with week one. I am confident that I CAN do it, I just need to get away from my addiction mentality once and for all.

Now back to what we were doing:

Kick Start For Sleevers Week 2!

After the last week, your body should have returned to a state of ketosis, which means your body is back into fat burning mode. While protein is wonderful, man can not live on meat alone. Okay, well technically man CAN live on meat alone, but WOman needs CHOCOLATE.

Jokes aside, while protein IS a vital part of nutrition, the next most important component belongs to our little plant friends: VEGETABLES. And this week is all about bringing them back into our lives.

Vegetation is important for so many reasons. First of all, there are the nutrients. Although we can get vitamins and minerals from a pill, actually EATING your vitamins is so much more beneficial! Second, there is the fiber content. Remember last week when you took all that fiber supplement? That's what plant foods do for us!

This week some of the most beneficial plants are going to make a comeback. Foods like spinach, kale, and lettuces. Squash and tomatoes and bell peppers.  Broccoli and cauliflower any and all non-starchy vegetables! Now we are not bringing fruit back yet - that comes next week, but this week it's all about the veggies!

Week 2
The Return of The Vegetable!

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love my veggies.
I could eat a pound of asparagus in one sitting. It might take me two hours, but I can do it!
Week one always sucks for me!
So when week 2 rolls around, I breathe a HUGE sigh of relief!

During week one our focus was to recommit ourselves to our protein needs. This week we begin to reacquaint ourselves with those foods that we once balked from.
Now there is a rule of thumb for sleevers – 7-10 bites of food is (usually) enough. That roughly translates to about 3 oz of protein and 1-2 oz of vegetables.  (roughly 5-6 oz of food total). Most of us, past 6 months, can eat about a cup of food at a time. This amount should measure close to that. If you’re still hungry after finishing everything, feel free to have more. These are good, healthy, and nutritious foods that will not harm your body.

Week 2 Allowed foods:
ALL week 1 foods PLUS:
ALL leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuces (in small amounts)
Broccoli, cauliflower, ALL squashes (summer, winter, and in-betweens!)
Onions, leeks, garlic, green onions, shallots, etc.
Tomatoes, avocados, ANY pepper (bell, chili, jalapeno, poblano, banana, etc)
Cucumbers . . . ANY non starchy vegetable!

Continue to avoid all carbs – flour, sugar, oats, etc.
Starchy vegetables and tubers such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, corn, peas, etc.
Beans and legumes
Artificial sweeteners (may use stevia)

Now, go eat your veggies, kids!

Please note there is not a sample meal plan for this week published at this time. If you would like to have one, please comment or email me and I will provide that information!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things To NEVER Say To A Sleever

People who have never undergone weight loss surgery of any kind often are confused, uneducated, and in some cases, just flat out ignorant about the whole thing. It's my goal to educate those who "don't know" about the truth on WLS and what is myth. Many times someone will say something so outlandish about WLS  that it makes me laugh (really? you think they turn our stomachs inside out??), and others they will say something that is just flat out rude. So, for those of you that have never had weight loss surgery, I have compiled a list of things you should NEVER say to a Sleever (or a Gastric By-Pass patient, Lap-Band patient, or any other person that has ever had WLS).

1. Isn't that the easy way out? NO IT IS NOT. First off, we are (literally) forcing ourselves to get over an addiction that most of us have had for a very, VERY long time (food). It's like uuber rehab for fat people. Only WE have to be around our addiction ALL THE TIME. Second, we STILL have to watch what we eat and exercise, just like everyone else. Our surgeries are a TOOL to use in CONJUNCTION with all of that. Easy way out? Hardly.

2. You don't look like you've lost that much weight! Really? We look in the mirror every day and still see ourselves as fat as we were six months ago sometimes, and you think that's a proper response? Everyone's body is different and everyone reacts differently to surgery. Besides, did you think that we were all going to lose 100 within a week?

3. You're losing too much weight! This is another gem. Please PLEASE don't say this. Our weight loss goals are between us and our doctor, and yes sometimes we do end up losing a little too much. But chances are, we will begin re-gaining some of that weight back soon. So unless we start looking a little too much like Karen Carpenter, don't worry. We got this.

4. Can you eat that/ should you eat that?/You can't eat that! We know what we can and can't eat, and sometimes what we CAN eat might surprise you. Also keep in mind that something we might not have been able to eat a time ago might have found its way back into our diets. Again, remember that our diets are between our doctors and us. And sometimes we might eat something we shouldn't or we might even indulge once in a while - that's okay. It happens to everyone, even Jillian Michaels once in a while.

5. Do you want my old . . . No. Unless we ask for it, express interest in it, or it's really, really nice (designer) we really don't want your old clothes. We've worked really hard to get where we are, and sometimes someone offering their old "fat clothes" to us is just a sad reminder of who we once were.

So now that we have those out of the way, here are some things you can say instead:

1. You're so brave! You have no clue what some of us had to go through for surgery. For many of us, bravery was an important part of that.

2. How much weight have you lost? Most of us are really, really proud of how much we've lost and will tell anyone that wants to hear it!

3. You look great! Even if we don't. Say it anyway. Some of us could really use the ego-boost some days.

4. What can you eat? We will gladly tell you what we can or cant digest that week.

5. Here's a gift card to *recipients favorite clothing store here*. We love new clothes, even if it's only one size smaller! (hey, who doesn't, right?) Sometimes a new top, new dress, or new jeans (ALWAYS new jeans!) can really make us feel special and beautiful, and proves to us that it DOES work!

The thing to remember is this: BE MINDFUL. And always feel free to ASK QUESTIONS. If there's something you don't understand, there's absolutely nothing wrong with educating yourself on the truth.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kick Start for Sleevers! Intro and Week 1!

Kick Start for Sleevers!

I am SO excited to launch this plan!
This is a 4-week plan to jump start your metabolism and help your weight loss get back on track. This plan is intended for those that have had their sleeve 6 months or more. Please be sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting any plan as the information found here may differ from your doctor’s orders.

First some information on this plan.

There are “allowed” and “avoid” foods, just with every plan. The reasons behind this are nothing more than carb and sugar counts, for most of them, although protein counts are also a high factor as are health benefits. Keep in mind that MOST of these foods will be re-introduced after a time period. There is a huge similarity between this plan and the Atkins and South Beach diets. This is on purpose. These diets have proven health benefits and results. The main difference here is the “allowed” foods and the AMOUNTS. Remember, Atkins and South Beach – along with every other diet plan – were created for people that have not had weight loss surgery, so modifications must be made in order for them to work correctly for us.

All nutritional and calorie counts have been formulated using My Fitness Pal and are to be thought of as an approximation. Counts may differ depending on brand and measurement differences.

Week one consists of an ULTRA low-carb ULTRA protein-filled reset type diet. It is similar to “stage one” of the Atkins plan, with a few small tweaks that make it appropriate for a sleevers lifestyle.

Week two will reintroduce certain fruits and vegetables that were removed during week one. These will be lower-carb fruits such as berries and vegetables such as green leafy veggies.

Week three will reintroduce MORE foods that were cut out during the first two weeks such as beans and legumes and even more veggies.

Week four we will begin re-introducing whole grains back into our diet – some sleevers have issue with rice and bread, so be careful there. But small amounts of quinoa, millet, and flax can go a long way, baby!

This week we start with WEEK ONE!!

Week One
Ultra High Protein

Remember when you started your full-liquid diet after surgery? What did your doctor tell you? What advice did your nutritionist give? If they were anything like mine it was:

Not that protein is MORE important that water – but they are on the same level of importance. Why? Well, of course water is hydration – our bodies are 90% water, so we kind of HAVE to have it to live, right? But why so much protein?

I admittedly didn't take much stock in this at first until I learned more about our bodies and how the sleeve is so different than anything else, but here’s the gist:

After surgery, our bodies NEEDED the protein for healing. It was a huge part of that process. It helped with iron and niacin – two integral building blocks of life. It was this protein that helped the seem of our “little bananas” heal.

Fast forward to a few months after surgery. By now you were on solid foods. What was that like? Which foods did you eat first? My very first actual solid food was scrambled eggs. I remember how heavenly they tasted!! Hey, after weeks of protein shakes and yogurt, eggs were a very welcome change! From there I tried chicken, beef, fish, and shrimp. Notice something missing? That’s right. Vegetables. Now, I did try mashed cauliflower a time or two and green beans, but my focus was still on the protein. Protein was first. I wasn't even allowed raw veggies until I was two months out!

Week one focuses on that protein surge that our bodies received the first few weeks after surgery. The lack of carbohydrates that most of us had made our metabolisms skyrocket! Our bodies went into ketosis which jump started our weight loss. The first 2-3 months, most of us lost ¼ of our excess body weight or more! The first week of this plan will do just that. Our bodies will return to that ketosis stage and our metabolisms will, once again, skyrocket!

Allowed Foods:
Meats, fish, poultry, tofu, pork products, high protein shakes (low-carb!), cheese, milk (whole milk), plain (unflavored) yogurt, sour cream, eggs, all natural no sugar added nut butters – ANY high protein, low carb food with no added sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, etc.), any and all spices, herbs and seasonings you wish, broths (beef, chicken, veggie).

Avoid foods:
ALL carbs including bread, pasta, rice, oats, all flours, crackers, etc.
Vegetables (may use some such as onion and garlic for seasoning purposes and may also use tomato-based sauces)
Artificial sweeteners (If you MUST have a sweetener use stevia)

Notice there are no veggies on the allow list. Not yet. Although seasoning with things such as onions, garlic, and tomato based sauces are okay for this week, the addition of vegetables for eating will take away from our protein needs for this week. Please note that this stage is ONLY one week, and SHOULD NOT GO past the week!!! We WILL re-introduce those vital plants back into our diets, but this week is to re-focus on protein. This allowed foods list seems restrictive, and in a way it is, but keep in mind that cheese means ANY cheese, meats mean ANY meat (yes, even bacon!). The main thing is to READ LABELS. This week PROTEIN ONLY (beans will return, BTW!!). Don’t just limit yourself to the list, however. ANY food that is high protein and (virtually) 0 carb is allowed. That includes butter and oil. In fact, I encourage you to cook with butter and (yep, I’m gonna say it!!) LARD. Confused? Don’t be. Studies have shown that animal fats are actually BETTER for you than margarine, canola, and safflower oils. Not comfortable with “going there yet” – no worries! You can still use the other oils (canola, olive, peanut  during this plan if you like, but refrain from margarine altogether. Yes, spices, herbs and seasonings are all allowed. Coffee is allowed as well, but be sure to use half and half or heavy cream instead of flavored creamer. Tea is even better and not as hard on the digestion. If you HAVE to sweeten it, use stevia to taste and if you want some flavor to it, feel free to add all the vanilla extract or cinnamon you like. Stay as far away from chemical artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharine as possible. You might also choose to avoid sucralose, as it is being discovered that it can hinder weight loss as well.

Here is a sample meal plan for the first week. Don’t be alarmed by the calorie counts (some days are lower and some days are higher than others). Keep in mind that this is NOT about the calories, but about the protein. If you’re uncomfortable with the calorie count, feel free to add more fats to raise the count, or less to lower it. Also note that I have tried to be frugal in making this meal plan – some days you will have  a repeat. This is so that you can save on grocery bills! Those of us on a budget know how frustrating some meal plans with their refusal to use leftovers – NOT this one! Always remember that this is a SUGGESTED meal plan. Feel free to create your own custom plan from any of the allowed foods! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Announcement!! Kick Start For Sleevers!!

This post has taken a WHILE to write because of all the research I've had to put into it. I am going to make the following statement to keep things legal, so to speak:

I am not a doctor or licensed nutritionist. I am a regular person just like you. The following information has been based on my own personal research. Please remember to follow your own doctor's orders and advice regarding your gastric sleeve or other weight loss surgery. Thanks.

One thing that all sleevers have in common is this:

Inevitably our weight loss slows or stops altogether.
This can occur for so many reasons, but the most common one is that when our bodies get to a certain point in our weight loss, we naturally fall into a "comfort zone" and reach a stall that can last for MONTHS. Another factor is that our sleeves start to relax and restriction is not what is was in the beginning.
At this point, it's time to re-evaluate our situation.

Many sleevers fall into the mindset that they have a "pouch" and can "shrink" their stomachs or improve restriction by going back on a full liquid diet or doing what's called a "pouch test". These methods DO NOT WORK for sleevers. The fact is, we just don't have a pouch!!

With surgeries such as the lap-band, the gastric by-pass and the duodenal switch, patients are given a pouch at the top of their stomachs in some form or another. This pouch includes both the muscular and the "stretchy" parts of the stomach. With the sleeve, however, there IS no stretchy part of the stomach - that part is removed completely in most cases, and we're left with only the muscular portion of our stomachs. Here is a great illustration of the differences between the band, the gastric by-pass, and the vertical sleeve. The point here is, a sleever's stomach will never be able to "stretch" in that manner, therefore there is no cause to try to "shrink" it back down to size.

What does this mean? Well, to put it simply, a liquid diet is intended for someone to be able to shrink their stomachs back to size. When done properly, for people that have normal sized stomachs or for other WLS patients that have a pouch, this method works well. For someone with the vertical sleeve, however, this method can actually do more harm than good causing malnutrition, digestive issues, and other problems.

In order to kick a metabolism into gear, two things must happen. First, the body must be producing more energy than it's taking in. Believe it or not, in order for this to happen, sometimes the amount of energy taken in has to INCREASE rather than DECREASE. In other words - You need MORE calories to burn!

Now, for those with a regular size tummy, this isn't a problem. They can just increase the amount they eat and be fine. But for us sleevers, it's an entirely different story.

But I think I have found the secret.
It's simple, really. SO simple, in fact, that it's almost embarrassing.
It involves completely changing your eating and throwing everything you thought you knew about food out the window.

I am calling this the "Kick Start Plan for Sleevers".
This is going to be a multiple-post series, so PLEASE bare with me. I promise all the how-to's will be coming, along with sample meal plans and recipes as well.

Are you ready for change?
Are you ready for your weight loss to kick back into gear?
The official launch for this plan will be MONDAY.
Again, PLEASE keep in mind that:
Everything that I will be sharing with you over the next few posts will be based on my own personal research and experience!
(make sure you talk to your doctor before starting ANY new eating plan - your doctor's orders may differ from the information your receive in this blog!)

See you Monday!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekly Update: SO CLOSE!!!

Well I've actually lost more weight this last week than I expected too, since last week was Valentine's week and I ate CRAP all week (cookies, chocolate, fast food, etc.). And here's the kicker: 

Say WHUUUUUUT???????
This week's weigh in puts me at 204!!

Seriously, the DAY I hit "ONEderland"  I am going to CRY!

Now this is something I'll never understand:
I try my hardest day after day to "eat clean" and get stalled. BIG time.
Or I lose MAYBE a pound, if even that much.
The one week I "let myself go" and eat junk food more, I lose??

What's up with THAT??

Well, I DO have a theory:
Calorie counts.

You see, sometimes, we need to RAISE our calories in order to lose weight or break a stall (I know, I know, it sounds really weird and confusing and kind of like it might be dipped in BS a bit, but bear with me).

Here's why:
Our bodies sometimes get in a "rut". In other words, our systems get used to eating a certain way and then get "relaxed". 

It's kind of like a romantic relationship. The first few months are a whirlwind of excitement as we get to know our new partners and our relationship. Then, eventually, we get to a point of comfort. We know that this relationship is IT for us and we're in it for the long haul. We start to do things that we wouldn't do otherwise because we're no longer in it to impress someone. We stop wearing makeup on a regular basis, show up in our jeans and t-shirts, and let ourselves settle into soft, cozy warmth and comfort of the heart.
Believe it or not, weight loss is very similar.

The first few months of an eating plan you will lose - a LOT. For many people, the majority of their weight lost weather it be from WLS or a food lifestyle will be in the first 6 months. For example: I had 140 lbs to lose at the start of this journey. Over the past 6 months I have lost 89 lbs. That's over HALF of my excess body weight. I now only have 51 lbs to lose - and that may take another 6 months to a year to get off. Why? Because I've reached that "comfort zone".

My body knows that THIS eating lifestyle is IT for the long haul. So I've started slowing down on my weight loss (I'm sure the fact that I have less to lose factors in there too!). 

When a stall happens within the first three to four months, it's normal and natural - our bodies have to catch up with our weight loss.
But after six months, we slow down and it's no longer a stall. I like to call it a "rut". 
Changing up your eating for a week or two helps raise your metabolism back up and lets the weight loss kick back into gear.

Most doctors and nutritionists recommend raising your calorie count for something like this. Which works GREAT when you're a person with a normal-sized stomach.
But for us WLS patients, there is only one way to get a raise in calorie counts . . .

So this week has been a lot of breakfast burritos, tater tots, chips, candy, cookies . . .
I actually wasn't even THINKING about my weight!! 

But looking back, I realized my calorie count went from about 950-1100 to almost 1500! That slight raise in calories is what jumped my weight loss back into gear!

Now am I going to eat like this all the time again?
NO WAY - THAT'S what got me here in the first place!!!
I am back on my clean-eating regime this week - low carb and high protein. 
But it's nice to know that if I DO crave a homemade chocolate chip cookie every now and again that it's not going to kill me. 
How'd YOUR week go?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Weekly Update: Inch By Inch . . .

This morning the scale and I had a little discussion. 
It went something like this:

Me: I hate you.
Scale: I know. I don't like you much either.
Me: What are we going to do about this?
Scale: You could just quit walking all over me.
Me: Or I could throw you out the window.
Scale: No. I don't like that idea.

Me: Okay, tell you what. 
You start doing your job, and you can stay. 
And I'll only step on you once in a while, deal?
Scale: Fine. Deal.

So I stared at the scale while I lifted my foot to place myself atop that dreaded pedestal.
I forced myself not to look as I regained balance.
I said a silent prayer.
Would this be the day?
Will I finally hit 199 today?
Will I FINALLY be in what we like to call "ONEderland??"
I look down.
The good news is: I'm down another pound.
The bad news: I'm not at 200 yet.

My goal was under 200 by my birthday (which was Sunday)
That goal was not met. At all.
But I'm not going to be upset about it.
In fact, I'm going to rejoice because 
Another really fun fact:
This weekend my husband and I went out of town for my birthday.
He took me shopping (lovely man, isn't he??)
I bought new jeans in a size 16.
I wanted a different color, and he said,
"They have that in a size 14. You ought to go ahead and get those, since it won't be that long until you're in them."
Wise man. I should listen to him more often.
Because my BRAND NEW Old Navy size 16's are
slightly too big.
Yeah. I should have bought the 14's.

This week I have also learned a few things that I didn't know:

1) Sugar does not necessarily cause dumping for me.
2) Overly processed foods DO cause dumping for me.
3) I like red wine. Whoda thunk?
4) Salmon packets are amazing and wonderful and delicious and everyone should make them. 
5) Protein. It's what's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.
6) Not everyone wants to hear the truth about their nutritional choices.
7) Chai tea is yummy.
8) Recipe development is really, really hard.

So there you have it: my week in review!
How was YOUR week?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Final Whole Foods Challenge Post - What Worked and What Didn't

This has been a hard challenge - even for me. And I have to admit that I failed in many aspects.

For example:
Some things happened out of my control resulting in a lot of away-from-home time. Because of that, we have eaten a lot of takeout. I'm actually embarrassed to admit that, but it's the truth. Eating at restaurants is one thing, but fast food?? And the thing is, when you're undergoing a stressful time, fast food is actually the absolute worst thing for you. I know this. I did not adhere to it.

What could I have done different? PLANNED AHEAD. Knowing full well that there were things that were going to have to be done certain days, I should have planned ahead for a busy week, making up quick-fix packages (aka meal kits) and planning crock-pot meals. But, alas, I am not always that forthright.

Things I did right: Most of the places we went were sit-down restaurants. In those cases I almost always ordered soup, salad, or grilled meat and veggies.

Other things that didn't go as planned:

- The link-up. Because of the lack of participation, I ended up giving up on having a linky. Maybe some day . . .
- Raw milk. I have yet to make it to the dairy to get some. I did switch over to whole milk, however, which I understand is better, even if it's not raw (I also am sure to buy milk that is certified hormone-free!)

So there you have it. I am a failure, so to speak.
How do I feel about that?
Well, honestly not as bad as you might think.
You see, even though things didn't go quite as planned, I realized something important: My food choices have changed dramatically. Once upon a time, my fast food meal would have looked like this:

chicken fried steak sandwich with onion rings and tater tots with a large diet coke.

Now my fast food meal looked like this:
small chili cheese tots.

I know, still not the best choice, but considering what it WOULD have been . . .

My sit down meals would have looked like this:

Bacon cheeseburger with fries OR Chicken friend chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, fried okra and a roll.

This weekend it looked like this:
grilled fish with beans and grilled squash.

So I guess that things aren't quite as terrible as I thought they were.

Well, this challenge is over. Will I do it again? Who knows. What I do know is that even though things didn't go quite as planned (as is life sometimes) I was still able to make better choices than I would have in the past. And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weekly Update - And Body Dysmorphic Disorder

My check up with my surgeon was last week, and I was told I don't have to go back for another 6 months - really?! Seriously, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that. I guess maybe it's been a bit of a crutch for me to see him every 6 weeks - but 6 months??

My scale is still being a whiny little baby, so I'm having to go by what I weighed in at the doctor's office.

As of Friday, my weight was 208 and my BMI has gone down to 33!!
When I began this journey, I was 295 with a BMI of 49 - I'd say 87 lbs and 16 points off a BMI scale rating is NOT TOO SHABBY!
I have lost 56% of my excess body weight - which puts my actual goal weight at around 140 - But my PERSONAL goal (right now) is 160, so I have around another 50 lbs to lose.
My weight loss has slowed considerably, but it's still going down, so I am NOT going to complain!

Next week a good friend will be opening his fitness center, so I will FINALLY get to go workout on an (almost) daily basis! I can't wait!! Hopefully that will boost my weight loss and I can get this last 50 off before summer! (hey, it could happen!)

So, today I want to talk to you about a subject that affects millions upon millions of women worldwide. It's called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. What is it? In a nutshell: you look at yourself and all you see are flaws and imperfections - weather they're actually there or not, or weather the rest of the world sees them.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) can be caused by many environmental influences from peers to society, most common are little girls looking a fashion magazines wanting to be like the models on the cover. BDD is also the leading cause of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

How does this apply to WLS patients? Well, it's simple, really. We have been fat for so long, that when our bodies start to change, regardless of how drastic or quickly that change may come, when we look in the mirror all we see is fat, still. This does not happen with EVERY WLS patient, mind you, but it is quite frequent. In my own experience, it's a nightmare. While people are gushing over how much weight I've lost, I still look in the mirror and see the fat and the cellulite. I still see myself at 295 lbs, even though I'm inching up to 100 lbs. gone.

Will this ever change? I don't know for sure. I certainly hope so. I'd hate to get to 160 lbs and still see myself as huge. Many WLS patients turn to plastic surgery at some point, and I'm planning on NOT going that route (i hate surgery). I'm prayerful that through diet and exercise I find a peace with my body and my image of myself improves.

If you or someone you know lives with BDD: don't despair  You can find help in outside sources such as counseling, if it becomes so bad you become depressed. Remember to eat your protein and drink your water daily, and each day look at yourself in the mirror and exclaim: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . ." (Psalm 193:14). God made you in his own image and loves you just as you are. His only wish is for you to be healthy and happy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Whole Foods Challenge Link Up! Week 3: Sweeteners: The Good, The Bad, And the STAY AWAY FROM!!

For information on the challenge and how to link your blog go here!

This week has been a challenge. It must be "that time" because I've been craving bad stuff like CRAZY. These have been my saving graces this week:

Salt and Vinegar Almonds: Okay, they are NOT all natural - but when you're fighting the urge to bury your face in a bag of potato chips - just one or two of these bad boys have kept the carb monster at bay.

Picked Vegetables: My sister made this amazing pasta salad this week. I am one that is not a fan of things like olives or raw onions, but here - I ate things I don't like because they were GOOD - the marinade took the bite out of the onions and I discovered that I REALLY like kalamata olives! Whoda thunk?

My Crock Pot: I love my crock pot and make everything in it - soups, stews, roasted meats . . . It's the greatest invention ever and I use it multiple times a week. If you don't have one, you should invest in one!

Chi Tea - I have discovered my substitute for coffee! I drink WAY too much coffee - and it's not that coffee is bad for you, but 3-5 cups a day isn't the greatest on your gastro-intestinal system (TMI?) Chi is naturally sweet with a yummy spice to it. And my mom found this chocolate version that is to die for.

Now, on to this weeks topic! SWEETENERS (The Good, The Bad, and the STAY AWAY FROM!)

We all know the dangers of refined sugar (oh, just Google it if you don't know already!). But for some of us, even raw sugar or turbinado sugar has a negative effect. For many of us, honey, molasses, agave nectar  and other natural sweeteners don't have an adverse reaction, but for those that do, it's a challenge.

Enter "artificial sweeteners". Okay, if you've read my blog before (and I assume you have) then you know how I feel about sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. Aspartame has been linked to so many issues from ADD to obesity, diabetes and so on that I can't even go into them all. Bad, bad BAD stuff. And sucralose isn't much better, to be honest. It is also now being linked to issues with everything from worsening diabetic symptoms to gastrointestinal issues as well. There are others on the market, but you have to watch to make sure you're getting the most natural product on the market.

Monk fruit is a brand new sweetener on the market. In its purest, natural form, it actually has great health benefits, and is so much sweeter than sugar that only a small amount is needed. But be careful, because some manufacturers are combining the fruit extract with chemicals and refined sugars. READ LABELS. The benefits of using monk fruit is that it doesn't loose its sweetness when heated, unlike stevia.

Stevia has been on the market for a couple of years now, and it's one that I love. I use it in just about everything. Again, read labels and make sure you are buying one that is pure stevia and not filled with chemicals. My brand of choice is Stevia in the Raw.

Sugar alcohol and xylitol are not beneficial for anyone. They are 99.9% of the time synthetic, chemical, and can wreck havok on your stomach and intestines.

What sweeteners have you found that you love? Link up . . . NOW!

Please remember I am not a doctor or nutritionist - I am a regular person just like you that likes to do her research. Don't take my word for it - go do your own research! I use Google - so can you!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Whole Foods Challenge Link Up! Week 2: Paleo VS Low Carb: What's The Difference?

Happy Monday Kids! It's week two of my Whole Foods Challenge Link Up! For more information on the challenge and how you can link up check out this post.

How'd My Week Go?

Not bad, honestly. I did have a few slips here and there due to eating out and children's birthday parties - and believe me when I say that I felt it! (still do . . .) I DID, however, learn the art of the leftover-makeover! For example: One night we had lamb chops and roasted veggies. Later on in the week I mixed them with broth and made soup. Another night we had chicken with veggies. Again, later on in the week, I mixed them together and made "chicken-not-pie" (chicken pot pie filling without the crust). My mom sent me home with pot-roast this weekend which I will be using to make a beef stew (probably tonight - YUUUMM). I also discovered a GREAT bakery near my mom that makes AMAZING all-natural baked goods - and most are low-carb and/or paleo in nature.

Speaking of low-carb and paleo . . ?

So what IS the difference between a Paleo (caveman/Paleolithic) diet and a low-carb diet? IS there one? Well, yes, there is.
(all information here comes from various low carb cookbooks such as George Stella's "Still Livin' Low Carb" "The Atkins Diet" "The South Beach Diet" and various articles, web sites, and blogs on the Paleo diet - Google it for a plethora of information!)

The Gist on Low Carb:

The philosophy behind low-carb diets is simple. You completely get rid of things like potatoes, starchy vegetables, bread, pasta, and rice for a period of time. Depending on the diet plan, you may also get rid of fruit for a while as well. This puts your body into a fat burning mode called ketosis. After being in this state for about a week, you start introducing things back into your diet such as fruit and whole-grains in small amounts, but still base your everyday lifestyle around meats and vegetables. Some diets stick with leaner meats (like South Beach) while others allow, and even encourage, full fat everything (Atkins).

The Gist on the Paleo Diet:

The Paleo diet is based on what researchers believe man would have eaten in the paleolithic era. The philosophy is that our bodies are exactly the same now as then and there are certain foods available to us today that we are unable to digest properly because we wouldn't have had them available then. Most fruit, beans, dairy, and grains are cut completely out of the diet. Oils such as canola and olive oil are also cut out in favor of coconut and nut oils.

So What's The Difference?

One of the main differences between the two diets is the amount of allowed foods - the paleo diet is a little more restrictive than the low-carb diet. There's also a slight difference in the TYPES of allowed foods. While low-carb diets can be paleo in nature, a true paleo diet is not necessarily low-carb, as it allows tubers such as sweet potatoes and yams.

Which is better?

That is something that is up for serious debate. If you Google "paleo vs low-carb" you'll find a slew of articles and blog posts on this subject, and each are biased to their own side. The simplest answer to this is, which one speaks to YOU? For some people, the idea behind the paleo diet is a God-send. The biggest draw is that this particular diet is naturally wheat and gluten free (as well as rice, corn, soy, and dairy free). For others, the mere thought of going without things such as yogurt or beans in their lifestyle is enough to turn them off. For others, it may be more of a philosophy thing: some strict creationists reject the idea of the paleolithic era while others not only embrace, but encourage it. Likewise, there are some that simply cannot adhere to the idea of eating completely low carb because of recent studies done on ketosis.

The bottom line is this, after studying the two diets, think about which one fits you better. Do you love the idea of being able to love potatoes? Do you really like the idea that you can (someday) have pasta again?

Also keep in mind what your own body can tolerate - some people with gluten, corn, and other food allergies will probably do quite well on the paleo plan, whereas someone with an adverse reaction to potato starches and nuts would do well on the low-carb diet.

I hope this has given you some insight on the differences between the low-carb and the paleo lifestyle. As for myself, I am doing a pseudo-paleo lifestyle currently - I have added beans and dairy to my own eating style, but refrain from other grains and carbs as much as possible.

Which lifestyle do you prefer? Feel free to comment below, and remember you can link up all week!

Link up . . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weekly Update: A Weigh-In Surprise!

This morning I had to do a double take on our scale.
You see, it's been a bit wonky in it's weighing capacity.

For the hubbs, it works just fine.
For me, 

For some reason, it doesn't like me, so it'll weigh me less or more by as much as 10 lbs sometimes! 
But I stepped on it twice, and it said the same thing both times (for once!)
As of today, Kids, I am at . . .
(drumroll please . . .)
205 lbs.

This came as quite the surprise because I've been weighing it at between 213-215 for the past two weeks. 
So I guess when the stall breaks, it breaks HARD.
So that means I am FIVE POUNDS AWAY, Kids, from ONEDERLAND!!!
I haven't seen 199 since I was a sophomore in high school.

So this week, I issued a challenge to my sweet readers (ahem. YOU GUYS).
By the way, it's not too late to link up if you like.
hint, hint
This challenge was all about changing your eating habits from eating processed junk to whole, all-natural foods.
How's it going for me so far?
Not bad. 
I have, so far: 
* switched from sweetened flavored creamer to half and half and raw stevia
* served fresh or frozen vegetables that were roasted or steamed
* created a homemade, low-fat cheese sauce
* made lunch with fresh ingredients rather than pre-packaged quick meals

So far, I'm doing well. 
I wonder if this switch is what has inspired my body to finally let go of over 10 lbs . . ?
Next week is a big celebration because it's my 6 Month Surgiversary!
I'm excited to share the pivotal moment with all of you.
Have a great day!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Whole Food Challenge Link Up! Week 1: Why Eating Clean is NOT Expensive

Last week I announced that this week I was going to start a weekly link up for those that wish to participate in my whole foods challenge.

Here's a little bit about how it works:
The challenge runs between January 7, 2013 through February 11, 2013 (the day after my birthday!). The five week challenge is this: Take a month to change your eating style and get rid of things like refined sugars, refined flours, and chemical additives/preservatives. Rather than having flavored creamer in your coffee, for example, try half and half or real cream with raw sugar, honey, agave nectar  or raw stevia. Rather than having a pre-packaged meal loaded with sugar, salt, and God-Knows-What, try making the same thing from scratch (you might be surprised how easy some things are to make!). Focus on fresh, wholesome, nutrient rich foods like fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh, lean meats. This is the challenge! You may link up each week, or one week, and since this is an open challenge, feel free to jump in at any time! 

To link up: Just click on "Click Here To Enter", enter your information and submit! A link to your blog post will show up at the bottom of this page!

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that eating healthy is too expensive. Let me be the first to say that this is not true. If you add up the average grocery bill for a family of four that includes items like pre-packaged meals (hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, frozen meals, etc.), snack foods like chips and snack crackers, and beverages such as kool-aid, soda, etc., the bill for a week comes to over $200. Now take that same family and fill the cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh cheeses, beans, and nuts. Believe it or not the bill will be around the same, if not less (I've tried this experiment on myself. Note, this is ONLY food items, no other items such as household cleaners or paper products is included)! Why then do people think that healthy foods cost more?

Orgainic Food: It is a fact that foods that are organic cost more than the non-organic variety. Why is this? Well, simple supply and demand. Because fewer people buy organic, the prices have to be slightly higher in order to compensate. One way to get around this is to know when to buy organic. For example, with strawberries, organic is a must because the pesticides can get under the seeds. For bananas, on the other hand, organic is not as important because the fruit inside the thick peel is never touched. Meats, when possible, should be organic due to the hormones and chemicals fed to the animals. If organic meat is not possible, stick with leaner cuts of beef and chicken, as animal fats hold on to chemicals and hormones more than the muscle does.

Even so, the cost of a pound of organic, free-range chicken is only slightly higher than a pound of non-organic chicken.

Frozen vs. Fresh vs. Canned: There are some items that can be bought frozen, rather than fresh, at a much lower price. Some great examples of frozen foods are: Spinach, peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, beans, black eyed peas, green beans, berries, peaches - the list really could go on forever. The thing is, when a food is frozen, it's actually frozen RIGHT WHEN IT'S PICKED. So frozen foods are actually fresher than "fresh"! As for canned, there are some foods that are just fine canned, as long as you read the labels and look for ones with no added sugar or salt and no preservatives. Some great canned options are: beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce. Try to avoid canned green beans, corn, peas, etc as those foods lose nutrients when they're cooked. Tomatoes, on the other hand, have nutrients that increase with the cooking process.

Lets look at the cost of an average meal for a family of four: (all prices as per and my local stores)

Hamburger Helper: $1.68
1 lb hamburger meat: 2.45
Canned Green beans: .75
Salad: 2.00
Grand total: $6.88

Now lets take that same meal, only health-ify it.

Homemade skillet meal with zucchini (.50), onion(1.00), garlic(.15/clove), canned tomatoes (.75), and 1/4 C brown rice (prepared) (.20): $2.60
1/2 lb ground turkey (with all the veggies, you don't need a whole lb!): 1.25
Salad: 2.00 (again, no need for the green beans with all the veggies in the skillet meal!)
Grand total: $5.85!!!

So, even though the main meal was a little more expensive, you saved money by using half the meat and omitting one of the side dishes!

I hope this has helped you see that eating healthy is not the expense that you might think. Remember to shop around and get the best possible prices on organic meats and produce, and remember that you can use half the amount of meat in most recipes that call for it!

That's all for this week, link up starts . . . .

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dumping Syndrome: What Is It, Who Has It, And What It Means To Weight Loss

Doctors are starting to be shocked to find that sleevers, like their WLS cousins the gastric by-passers, do show signs of something called "dumping syndrome". The essentials of this "condition" are as such: you eat something you're not supposed to and your body rejects it, causing you to get sick with symptoms such as a rise/drop in blood pressure, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

So what causes dumping syndrome? It occurs primarily in weight loss surgery patients that have had parts of their stomachs removed. This means that patients that have undergone the gastric sleeve, the gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y), or the duodenal switch can have dumping syndrome. It was earlier thought that sugar was the culprit, but recent studies are now showing that it can be caused by just about anything - including dairy, bread/pasta, high fat foods, etc - that your body does not like.

My own experience with dumping has been sporadic, to say the least. I have had dumping after eating everything from fish to ice cream. The worst I ever had was after I drank a full-sugar root beer. But the sporaticness (is that a word??) of my dumping got me to thinking and wondering - why is it that somethings make me dump and not others?

Case in point: one night the hubbs and I went to a seafood restaurant for dinner before visiting a haunted house. I had chowder and hush puppies. Less than an hour later, I felt like I had to pass out. I ran to the bathroom and experienced diarrhea and vomiting. As far as I knew, I'd had no sugar (I would later find out that was wrong, but that's coming).

Another case: while visiting a local renaissance faire, I had a drink that was a frozen cappuccino with whipped cream. LOADED with sugar, right? And after this, I was expecting a dump, but it never happened!

So WHY then, would a seemingly savory meal make one dump but not an indulgent sweet dessert? Why will some lunch meats make me sick, but not honey?

I started reading labels more thoroughly, and in doing so, I think I may have found the culprits.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
This ingredient is in many things - even things that one might not suspect such as canned soups and baked goods. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, and other sauces can also contain large amounts of it.

Refined White Sugar
This ingredient shows up in some of the strangest places - did you know that many lunch meats including deli ham and turkey often contain sugar? Other surprising carriers: tortillas, canned vegetables, snack crackers (!!!).

Canola/Peanut/Vegetable/Safflower oils
This surprised me! But it's true. These oils are the most often used in deep frying at restaurants. I also have similar reactions on a smaller scale to cooking sprays (made with canola/vegetable oils). Ironically, butter, olive oil, and coconut oil do NOT elicit this reaction from me.

Some surprising things I've discovered that do NOT cause dumping (at least not in me).

Honey, Raw Sugar (in small amounts), agave nectar, and molasses.

An interesting thought to leave you with:
WLS surgery patients that turn to an all-natural diet containing no refined grains or sugars and sticking with whole, natural foods tend to not experience dumping syndrome. What does that tell you? The same goes for people with type 2 diabetes, blood pressure issues, and heart health issues - with these people their symptoms are eliminated at an alarming rate, just by changing how you eat. Turning to these diets and eliminating chemicals and processed foods is better for you, all around.

Let's face it, 100 years ago, America didn't face the health epidemic we're in now. Why do you think that is? We didn't have the processes to take real food and turn it into God knows what. If we took the diets from the past and combined them with the medical knowledge we have today, there would be NO EPIDEMIC.

Start by reading your labels. Eliminate anything you can't pronounce. Give it a try for a month and see how you feel! In fact, I'm going to issue a challenge!

Beginning Monday January 7, 2013, I challenge all my readers to do exactly that. I challenge you to all change to a whole-food mindset for one month, and blog about it. Each Monday until February 11 I will have a link-up for you to participate in to share your struggles, successes, recipes, and things you've learned about food and yourself. Come join me on this journey! Hope to see you all then!