And…just over a month later

I weighed today for the first time in weeks. I have gained most of my lost weight back. Judging from how I felt and how my clothes fit, I thought maybe, generous-mindedly, I had gained back 5-6 pounds. No problem. Hell, I used to be able to lurk on a few weight loss groups and think really hard and lose five pounds. I could take a fluid pill and lose five pounds. Five pounds was nothing.

Nope. Almost all of it is back.

I ate too many crackers, too much bread, too many cheats and I got too confident.

But why? What do I remember about the last month that was different from the two months before?

We got a ton of snow. I am talking 3-4 feet of snow after we had just melted away a foot of snow. Snow makes me feel disabled and isolated. I am afraid to walk in the snow. I am terrified of falling down. My bad knee in particular causes me to feel fragile. It took a beating during my week in Scotland, but felt better within a day or so of being home and resting. Walking in the snow or on ice, however, I feel very vulnerable. The central heating in our house is going out and does not work well, so I am always, forever, cold. I feel like I never stop being cold.

I published my pride and joy, also known as “Iris of Avalon,” the fourth book in the Daughters of Avalon series. I worked my ass off on that book. Hours and hours and hours a day of writing and editing and rewriting and researching and plot pacing. It was a month late to publication and I did not review the book when I got it back from the proofreaders. I just submitted it for publication, celebrated, and relaxed. At last, the book was done and I could turn my mind to other projects I had pushed away in favor of completing this one.

Two weeks after publication, I got a review on Amazon that said it was full of typos. I was and I am completely mortified by this. Those reviews do not go away. I pulled the book from publication and sent it to a different editor for polishing. A week later – which is a hell of a turnaround on such a project – the editor got it back to me and it is now again going through the review process for publication and should be available in a day or so. I was so saddened by this and I still feel profound embarrassment over it.

A week ago last Friday on January 20, Eric went to work as usual and by 9 AM, the investors in the solar company for which he is the licensed contractor informed him that they no longer require his services and just like that, he no longer had a job. When he phoned and told me I needed to come pick him up in Sacramento (he drove a company vehicle), my immediate reaction was joy. I missed him being at home with me as he had been for fourteen months between the time he left his job at the Veteran’s Administration and the time he started this one. I knew he had other opportunities available and, in fact, he had two job offers before he even left Sacramento that day. He is marketable. We have enough to live on for now, but I tightened up the budget tremendously.

He asked me often how I felt about this change and I truthfully told him I am happy to have him with me, happy to have him back in our shop full time, and optimistic about the future. He has several indicators that all will be well. In knee jerk reaction to losing a primary income, however, I feel a clenching in my gut and a bit of breathlessness. I did not tell him that part (and he never reads anything I write, so he will not see this). I cannot show any sign that I feel anything but positive about his/our prospects or the whole house of cards topples. Jenga stops being a tower and turns into a pile.

I went to the dentist, which is always traumatic for me for reasons best left in the dark, dark closet. Suffice it to say that I have to borrow the balls of others to even get in the chair. The work on one tooth, in which I have no pain at all, has a co-pay of just under $1000. Another one, that is a bit tender, requires a consult with his dearest friend (apparently), a root canal “specialist,” who will then decide if it needs a root canal (please google and read respectable resources on the latest findings on the relationship of root canals and a host of other medical problems) or just a filling. That then decides the copay of that tooth. All of that is separate and apart from the deep root cleaning he wants to do and he recommends that since I have dental anxiety, I purchase the sedation that is $599 and not covered by insurance.

That is just me, then there is Nathan who he literally said, “has a cavity in nearly every tooth that he has” and then decided, “maybe only 4-5, but I will not know for sure until after he has a basic cleaning.” Oh and of course, Nathan needs to see our friend, the root canal specialist, for two of his teeth as well.

O_O

Talk about grabbing me by two insecurities at once (dental and finances) and twisting all those borrowed balls.

When it snows up here, it rains in Roseville where my shop is located. Over the past month, the rain has been a monsoon, complete with flooding in the area. Because my shop is located in a historical 70-year-old swap meet, weather is a factor. Sure, I have an actual shop in an actual building, but the entire rest of the swap meet is open air and people are disinclined to walk through a typhoon to get to me. That means December and January were a struggle in regard to overhead.

I have a blessed life, don’t get me wrong. I love my life. I love what I do. I am happier now than I have ever been in my entire life. I am strong in nearly all areas of my life but so very weak in this one. In the past month, I have been hungrier than I can remember in forever. Not just appetite, but HUNGRY. HARD cravings, deep aching in my belly, shaking like a hypoglycemic. I wake up in the night hungry. I eat and I am hungry a half hour later. This is despite getting plenty of good fats and good proteins. I have trouble eating salads and raw veggies in cold weather, but I do eat cooked ones.

I caved to it. I had too many soothing comfort foods and today, I had to face the result of that.

I cannot likely lose the weight I just gained in one day, although a win would really help my morale. Today, I did Leslie Sansone’s “Walk Away the Pounds” and added five pound weights. I took Garcinia Cambogia and Weight Loss 4 (since Weight Loss 4 does not have the maximum dosage of Garcinia Cambogia). I get plenty of sleep. I drink plenty of water and other fluids.

My heart hurts at this setback and the accountability lies solely with me. Eric was and is so supportive of my progress and was so very proud of me. He did bring up the change. He asked if I was still on track and I told him something like, “Not like I would like to be.” He said he knew I was struggling and that he really enjoyed my progress when it was happening and knew it would happen again. He asked if there was anything he could do to better support me in this.

All I have to do is let go of my death grip on the breads and processed carbs, cut way back on the potatoes, and completely shun the treats. That’s it. Just do that and I will be back where I was again and on the right track.

Just do those things.

Yeah…

Still Doing Great!

Hello All!

I started this process around October 1st and I did it by accident. One day, I ate eggs and bacon for breakfast and I think it was some rolled up deli turkey for lunch and I thought, “Hmm… this is very Atkinsy.” Of course, I have been on every single diet plan known to man in the past 40 years, so it is not difficult for me to classify eating into particular plans. I wondered if maybe I could do it intentionally, so I researched Atkins to refresh my memory and that led me to the Ketogenic way of eating.

I had great success with Whole30, which is a sort of Keto plan, but apparently, I was not ready because I had serious emotional fall out from it, despite physical progress.

I was stringent on the Keto plan for probably 8 weeks or so, then my energy started to tank. It did not drop for a day or so, but was low all of the time. As I look back, I can see it was because I was so set on staying in ketosis that I ate fewer carbs than I was supposed to, even with the plan. I was usually under 10 per day.

In an effort to feel somewhat normal again, I began to reintegrate carbs into my diet gradually. It is about that time when I last wrote in this journal, so here is the catch up.

It is typical for me to get hot and heavy on an eating plan, then to start talking myself out of it around week 5. By week 6, I am back to eating in the same way that got me to my highest weight. I will gain back whatever I lost and add some to it.

This time, I not only lasted much longer, but even when I began to add carbs back in, I maintained my weight loss. It was bizarre. Admittedly, I did not go wild. I added in potatoes 2-3 times a week. I had half of a bun with my burger. I had carrots now and then. Once a week or so, I had a sweet treat of some kind.

My weight never fluctuated and I felt better.

I went on a week long trip to Scotland and literally ate whatever I wanted. I had sugar in my hot tea. I had soft freeze ice cream. I had a bit of candy. I also walked and climbed stairs like mad. Scotland castles and tourist attractions are not gracious to those with physical limitations like bad knees (me). There is no AHA, there are no wheelchair ramps, and elevators and escalators are rare.

I gained weight on the flight back because I always retain fluid with altitude changes. By my second day back, I was at the same weight I was when I left for Scotland, which was the same weight I was when I stopped eating pure Keto.

This past week, I lost two pounds by returning to an eating plan closer to Keto perfect. I went past my next zero number for the first time since 2009. I have lost a total of 12 pounds, which may not seem like much, but if you pick up a 10 pound bag of sugar, it has some heft to it. These are 12 BIG pounds.

A few observations:

  1. I believe that my two months on pure Keto, plus the supplements I was taking, reset my metabolism in some way. For many years, it has been that if I eat like a “normal” person, even 1200-1400 calories a day, I will gain weight. To lose, I have to go below 1000 calories a day, which for many people, is a meal or two. Now, I can eat like regular people and not gain. I can eat less than regular people and lose weight. This is a huge relief and helps me to feel no doubt that I can do this.
  2. Many people are losing weight on this type of plan. It is the first time in my memory that I have seen people I know losing weight like mad. It is the key. A dear friend from my circle has lost 80 pounds in less than a year doing exactly what I am doing. Others I know have lost significant weight using Keto and are keeping it off. No surgery. Just changing how they eat.
  3. I do have sagging skin now. Big time. Even from a moderate 12 pound loss. My belly deflated a great deal and now that skin that was stretched for six pregnancies and carrying excess weight for 25 years has nowhere to go, so it hangs. This does not bother me…yet. I do not believe I will ever have surgery to correct it. It will just be part of me and will demonstrate my success.
  4. My energy is great now, even with cutting back on carbs again. I did not have an “Atkins Flu” or any kind of energy dive this time.
  5. As much as I always wanted to believe that I was beautiful and competent with the additional weight on me (and I was), I have to admit that my self-esteem and confidence in myself has increased incredibly as I have found this success. I feel better on many levels and honestly, I did not expect to.
  6. I am not yet following any kind of aggressive or even moderate exercise plan. I don’t shirk when the opportunity presents (such as Scotland) and I have light weights (5 pound balls and 8 pound dumbbells) that I use a few times a week to build strength, but I do not plan to do any kind of aerobic exercise until it warms up in the Spring when I will start walking the trail again with my friend, Andrea. For now, I am focused on healthy eating.

So unlike other times, my lack of posting was not hiding from failure, but enjoying success and literally having no time to post. All is well and I hope it is on your journey as well.

As I said, this is the first time I can remember where it feels inevitable that I will reach my goal weight. I can do this. I can do this long term. I am not running a race or meeting any deadlines. It is a process and I am determined to follow it.

 

Supplements: Think Of Them As More Food

I began this (most recent) journey on October 3rd and I just finished week #5 of Keto/Atkins. I have lost at least one, possibly two dress/pant sizes and 8 pounds. My blood pressure dropped from 142/83 two weeks ago to 131/79 last night. My elbows are pointier and I keep touching the bridge of my nose because it feels sharper. I hope to lose more in terms of pounds, but I am satisfied with the loss of inches so far.

Next week, I go back to T-Tapping every day. As most low-carb websites suggest, I did not exercise much during these first few weeks while my body figured out the switch over to burning fat instead of glucose for energy.

Several of you have asked about supplements I take, often with a furrowed brow of concern. I do take many whereas for most of my life, I took none or next-to-none. I did a great deal of research through the most recent studies and recommendations, for what should supplement a high fat, high protein, low carb nutritional plan and that is what I take. I also consider my personal challenges and objectives as well.

Some of the supplements are needy and want me to take them three times a day. Some specify with food and some specify without. I mostly follow the recommendations on the bottle. All are muscle tested. My goal is to remake my metabolism, which is so completely out of whack that if I eat anything close to “normally,” (what thin people eat) I will gain weight. If I eat what is traditionally considered to be a “balanced diet,” I gain weight. If I eat more than 1200 calories in a day, I gain weight.

What I want to do is to adjust my metabolism, which suffered over many years of abuse, back into a healthy balance of energy, fuel, and if necessary, storage. Hitting the reset button on that metabolic mess is my primary goal with using a Keto nutritional plan with the secondary goal of fat loss.  My supplements each work toward that goal in some way.

Here is my current list, to which is added a prescription potassium supplement from my health care provider:


This is a probiotic supplement that aids digestion.


These are both a probiotic and prebiotic that work with the stomach and gut to produce healthy flora and improve digestion.


I find Relacore helpful in supplementing Cortisol. I will likely not continue these once they are finished, but they helped me get through the first few weeks of the change in eating.


L-Carnitine and L-Arginine (below) are both metabolic boosters


Glycine is an amino acid that helps prevent muscle wasting and assists in the digestion of fats and glucose balancing.


The process in which the body converts food to energy is known as the “Krebs cycle” and calcium pyruvate increases the cycle speed making more energy available for use.


Candida Complex is a detoxification process that flushes out “bad” bacteria in the gut.


Assists in heart health and supports immune system.


Boosts immune system and overall good health.


Increases fat burning within the body.


These are the ketone strips I use. The seller also provides excellent follow up and teaching about Keto dieting.

For reference, this list is duplicated in the menu at the top of the website.

Don’t Bend the Knee

When the words came to me, I was looking for answers to questions that boggled my mind. The steam was so hot I had to hold a dry towel to my face and breathe through it while rocking back and forth. Only one round of hot rocks came into the sweat lodge that night and we went through five gallons of clean mountain spring water, which is all we have up here since we live in the mountains near the Cosumnes River.

My knee ached to the point that I could not sit on the earth or stand over the rock pit where the “stone people” crackled and breathed out hot steam as was the tradition. No. I had to sit in a chair Eric brought into the sweat lodge for me. I was almost 55-years-old, but I walked like an old woman, breathing through the pain and hobbling along, dragging my left leg behind me.

The pain was not from any injury. I literally woke one Monday morning in early July unable to walk. My left knee radiated a bone-against-bone pain with any pressure at all on it. I had to place pillows around my knee just so to keep it in a position that had the most minimal pain. The idea of getting up to do anything was terrifying and involved a great deal of gasping and moaning.

I wore new sandals to work that Sunday and thought it was likely that they shifted the pitch of my body somehow and since my shop has a cement floor, it is not very forgiving when you are on your feet all day. That being the case, I expected the soreness to work out over that week.

Now it was the first week of August and the pain was still there. I tried Motrin, muscle rub creams, immobilizing it with an Ace bandage, heat, ice, and massage. Nothing helped and it showed no signs of improvement. Days passed.

Eric’s concern deepened. He was convinced I had blown out my knee because of my tremendous, unfathomable, otherworldly, unreasonable obesity. It gave him one more reason for being angry that I am fat. His terror is being married to someone who is infirm and he is certain that is my future, so any experience that reinforces that idea is terrifying to him.

In the sweat lodge, as my pores opened to dump sweat from every part of my body – for some reasons, the insides of my ears sweat profusely – I opened my mind and my spirit for answers as to why this affliction had come to me out of nowhere, why it was not healing, and what my lesson from it might be.

In the sweat lodge, no conflict is allowed, so it is a sacred space free from arguments or judgments. There is only what is holy. I feel as though I am inside the womb of the Great Mother where her volcanoes and geysers are born. I feel like the Phoenix in the fire, forged like a sword and ready to emerge forever changed into the new creature that I will be.

From across the rock pit, Eric’s voice came. I couldn’t see him for the steam, but I could hear him.

“Can you not sit on the ground at all?”

“No,” I answered. “I can’t bend the knee at all.”

The words, even though I said them, punched me in the solar plexus like a fist.

Don’t bend the knee.

As anyone who knows me is aware, I write historical novels set in the Arthurian age of Britain. I also enjoy books, movies, TV shows, and documentaries that are set in any portion of Britain’s past history. To me, “bend the knee” means to be subservient. It means to bow to another person and surrender to their will, abandoning your own.

Don’t bend the knee.

As sure as I have ever been about anything, I knew that the Goddess had spoken through me to give me the answer I needed.

In my life, more times than I can count, I observed the physical afflictions a person has reflect directly their internal issues. Through this, I developed many theories over how certain conditions develop and noted consistencies in behavioral and emotional characteristics in relation to those conditions.

Often, it is quite literal.

My knee hurt because I was bending it too much. I was a broken person. I gave over too much of my power to other people when the Goddess had given me ample messages that I should claim my power and step into it fully. Still, I resisted, because bending the knee was expected of me or even demanded.

I teach my students all the time that if you do not listen to the words of the Goddess when they come, the messages will escalate and become progressively harder to ignore (read: more painful). Now I was getting a direct message in a profound way.

“If you don’t get on your feet and take back your power, we are going to hurt you. Now stop bending the DAMNED KNEE!”

From there forward, I worked more aggressively to not bend the knee. I claimed my power and accepted that on a personal level, the buck really does stop here. I took control of several aspects of my life that were spinning out and accepted accountability and responsibility for issues I ignored or passed to others to manage.

The next day, the pain in my knee was significantly better. From there forward, it improved. Now, there is a twinge now and then, but I can again walk 3 miles if I choose to, can sit on the earth in the sweat lodge, and danced with my husband at the Witches’ Ball last Saturday night.

Not many cared or even noticed the shift in me and how I handle my life. No one really saw the changes that took place inside me or in my behavior or if they did, they did not comment.

14610905_10154454749396259_2018496718091062525_nTwo months after that, I accidentally started the Atkins Diet and moved on to Keto. Now, I am deep into ketosis, compared to my usual way of eating, at least. My reading is at a solid 8 as of yesterday. I feel amazing and I am losing weight steadily. More important, I feel like this time, I can do it without wallowing in self-pity and deprivation.

I explained to a friend earlier today that rather than this new way of life taking over my life and becoming a big thing, it is just something I do. I have my limited number of foods I can and do eat and beyond that, I do not think much about it.

I have a very long way to go, even with the steady loss. I do not fool myself that this will always be easy. What I can say is that I no longer have cravings. This is week 4 and I have not once felt hungry in a way I knew I could not satisfy myself. Occasionally, I really miss candy, cookies, bread (oh bread), and especially potatoes, but I miss them more in my head than in my belly if that makes any sense. I miss them because when I have turkey or chicken, I know I should have potatoes with it. When I have a burger, I know a bun should be there.

Between the new way of eating and the supplements I take to rewire my metabolism, I am sleeping extremely well, my body works great, I can tell my sugar levels are normalized, and my blood pressure has dropped considerably.

I know I can do this for the long haul. Days are already melting one into another and the pounds are melting away as well. My faith is growing that this time, I will not slide off the tracks and fall back into unhealthy eating. This time, I can do it and I am convinced that it is now because I absolutely refuse to bend the knee to anyone…and ironically, as soon as I decided and really internalized that choice, I could bend my knee again.

Frogs Jump Forward

Three weeks ago, I started on the Atkins Diet in the Induction phase, which means you only eat certain foods and you have to keep carbs under 20 grams per day. I started it by accident. I had steak and eggs for breakfast and it was nice and I though, “Huh.” Then I ate a few rolled up slices of deli turkey and a salad for lunch and thought, “Huh.” Then I just kept going and read the Cliff Notes for Atkins and decided I could do it despite mucking it all up a decade or so ago. I then could not manage less than 20 grams of carbs a day and so I went on a “modified Atkins” which just means “eating.”

This time, however, lo! and behold! it seems to be working. I have strips and test positive for ketosis, which means I am eating so few carbs that my body has to burn fat (like ass fat and belly fat) to have energy.

I had Atkins Flu the first couple of weeks, where your body adjusts to the change in energy source and punishes you by making you feel like crap. I wasn’t ill, really, just super low energy. I peed off a lot of fluid and I thought I was going to starve to death and had some heavy panic moments in the first week. Now, I no longer crave…well, anything. I just eat because it is time to eat and I can feel my clock winding down.

I eat three times a day and rarely have a snack. I have a drawer of Atkins bars and snacks and no longer touch them because they seem to take me out of ketosis even if I stay below 20 grams of carbs a day. Tonight, I missed something silly: potato skins. I found a recipe for making something similar out of cauliflower rice and it was satisfying enough. Eric loved it.

Eggs, meat, salad, repeat. That is how I described my eating plan to someone recently. So many eggs. So much salad. I track my food on my fitbit program and on fitday. I sleep like the dead. I feel my body reshaping, but I have only lost five pounds. Still, I pick up a five pound bag of sugar and it seems to have some heft to it.

I think about how sweet it would be to drop fifty or a hundred pounds…to be one of those success stories. Anyone who knows me knows that I am big on accountability and this is my form of transparency. This is a very private subject for me for a lot of reasons, but I have failed in public view so many times that I am willing to risk it again.

I am not exercising aggressively right now. I will likely begin again when I get used to this new way of eating which is not quite there yet. Maybe when the weight loss plateaus. Maybe after I have lost a good bit. Right now, my focus is on food management and getting that square.

I have had little trouble finding foods to eat when I am out. I find a restaurant that serves salad and order some kind of meat to go with it and I am done. I ask them not to bring the bread to the table. Eric had some on Saturday and it was more uncomfortable than I thought it would be to watch him eat the dinner rolls. Potatoes and bread are my challenge. Cookies and candies are wonderful, but they are not my weakest place.

Forward, moving, one day after another…

frog1

A lady came into my shop a couple of months ago and said something that stuck with me: “Frogs only jump forward.” Today, I was out shopping at the thrift store and I found a beautiful ceramic frog and bought him. I only want to move forward from here. No more reasons why I can’t lose. No more fear. No more excuses.

Just eggs, meat, salad, repeat… until enough days come together and enough ketones are produced that I am significantly smaller than I am today.