Monday, July 31, 2006

Ending My 7th Month Raw

This morning I seem to have returned to a total of 70 lbs lost- but since I go up and down, up and down, I'm not going to get excited about being 70 lbs down again. I could be eating too many calories to lose 1 to 2 lbs a week the way I'd like to, but I'm unwilling to eat less! Eventually I'll lose the weight, but it's just gonna take time.

I have a challenge coming up: a dear friend is coming for a weekend visit, and she is not a vegetarian or a raw foodist whatsoever. I don't think she even eats sushi. I'm not sure how the weekend will turn out for me foodwise, but I'm not foreseeing anything horrible- just a tad challenging. For example, it would be great to take her to a buffet, but I'm not sure a buffet is worth the price for a raw foodist since "all I can eat" doesn't turn out to be very much these days. On the other hand, I'm bound to come across some raw veggies and fruits that I haven't tried in a while (or at all), so maybe I should look forward to the experience.

Yesterday Felicia said she thinks my hair is growing back. I think the thinning parts might be filling in a little, but there is still a long way to go, making it one more thing I refuse to get excited about too early. I still wear my wigs and hats! The rest of my hair is thick and definitely growing.

Well, that's the entire update for today. Those of you in the hot weather- be careful and stay as cool as possible!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Progress is Being Made

Whew- I've been having trouble posting to this blog due to network and/or server issues. Now, I've got computer problems! Hopefully these issues won't cause additional missed blogs in the future.

I've had a very good week so far. I've made some adjustments by going back to eating salads daily, and cutting down just a bit on the nuts. I've had no fish this week, but have eaten low-fat cottage cheese for my protein. In fact, I've made cottage cheese my breakfast, eating it before leaving for work so that I can take my biotin/MSM combo for my hair. I've also cut down on the molasses since it's not the most pleasant experience- still, I take a couple of tablespoons a day. I've been eating fresh fruit this week: cherries, grapes and honeydew melon. I've been taking a calcium/Vitamin D supplement as well. So much for not taking any supplements!

I've noticed a couple of changes that I'm continuing to keep my eyes on: my complexion, which last week I noted has gotten a bit rougher, seems to have started to smooth up again. To make sure this isn't wishful thinking I won't say it's a sure thing for a couple of weeks, I guess. The same for my hair: it continues to break off less than it was before, but there is no evidence of new growth in the areas that thinned out. My fingers are crossed, though.

I've done pretty well with water over the past month. I freeze 30 oz. of water overnight so that I have cold water at work all day. I actually drink more than 30 oz. because I add water to the bottle during the day. I'm not noticing too much action on the scale, although it has eased down very slowly over the past week. I've developed a blase attitude about losing any more weight between now and the start of the Fall semester. Why aggravate myself? I should worry more about going to the gym regularly!

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's Fruit and Cake!

It's Fruit and Cake!

Here's a snippet from the video I found of Felicia and me dumping the last of our binge foods on December 31st, 2005. Take a look at that garbage can! The last words, which got cut off a bit, are "goodbye Fig Newtons, hello 2006!"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Dirty Deed is Done

I had my treat! And before I tell you what I had, let me say that I can't believe I used to eat that stuff with no problems! Well, at least without any immediately noticeable ones, since you can't call weight gain, bad skin, high blood pressure and high cholesterol "no problems"- ha! Anyway, I decided on Kentucky Fried Chicken (they don't fool me with that Kitchen Fresh stuff, by the way). I got a 2 piece dinner with a biscuit, and a side of wedges and corn on the cob. I didn't get anything to drink- I didn't even want Pepsi, strangely enough. I had ice cream for dessert, from my favorite place: Baskin Robbins.

The chicken was, as you can guess, SALTY. It was like emptying a salt shaker into my mouth. I used to love all that salt, but I could barely take it. The french fries were the same- the salt took away from my enjoyment. The corn on the cob was the best tasting part of the meal, of course. I added nothing to it.

I discovered that I could not eat much of my dinner or dessert before getting full. I was surprised at how quickly I filled up. Both Felicia and I could have shared my two-piece dinner . My dessert was very sweet, of course- I loved it, but I couldn't eat much of it without feeling icky. Overall, while I did not enjoy my treat, I did like the way it showed me how my tastes and tolerances have changed. It also made me sad for all the people who still treat those foods as daily meals. It's so bad for you! I had some gastric distress afterwards, but nothing major.

I am not through yet! Today I had a healthier treat: a tempura dinner and a sushi roll. I love tempura, and thought it should be light enough and mildly flavored enough to be a pleasant treat instead of an unpleasantly heavy, greasy one like yesterday, fried or not. I was right- I enjoyed it, but still couldn't eat a full serving at one sitting. Rice is filling, but I loved it-it's one of my favorite foods. I didn't have any negative feelings, either physically or emotionally, after my Japanese dinner.

My last treat: I love pizza, so for dinner I got a supreme personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. And 5 barbecued chicken wings (shut up). I didn't feel overly full, probably because it was my first full meal of the day. It didn't taste nearly as salty as the chicken meal- either I was already used to the salt, or KFC is just over-the-top salty (I believe the latter to be true).


So now it's Monday and I'm back to my healthy, whole foods, with a much greater appreciation for raw. Most of my raw foods are naturally moist and fresh-tasting, with mild flavors that feel nourishing instead of stimulating. By contrast, the salt, sugar and spices in the junk foods were stimulating- they arose the taste buds and the appetite. No wonder I always wanted more. I'm glad I avoided the Pepsi- that might have been a Pandora's box!! I weighed myself this morning and haven't gained a thing (yet)- but I was careful to eat less of my normal foods in order to make room for the junk.

I can really appreciate my raw foods and the way they allow me to place food in its proper place in my life. Before, food was my number one concern; the thought of what I'd be snacking on next took up most of imagination. Today I don't even think much about food until I'm hungry (or blogging), and when I'm done eating, I'm ready to move on to the next item in my life.

Today I've got a great salad waiting for me, a slice of Ezekiel bread, and a mix of grapes and cherries. I'm going to work out tonight.

I'm back!!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tonight's the Night

Yesterday while I was at Whole Foods it suddenly occurred to me to look at some of their offerings for my "girl night out" (God- that sounds pathetic, doesn't it?) One of my favorite treats used to be Amy's Enchiladas- she makes a line of frozen dinners, with her Mexican ones being among the best on the market. But I didn't buy the enchiladas. It's been so long since I've eaten a boxed frozen meal that the idea of buying it was...alien. Since it wasn't Friday yet, I told myself that I should make myself come out again if I really want it. Make myself work for it!

In truth, this little event is becoming more and more humorous as each day passes. I know that I'll rent a couple of movies and have a glass of red wine, but what to eat? I'm just not envisioning myself with a bag or box of overly-processed full-of-preservatives foodstuff, no matter how fondly I recall eating those things. I think what is happening is that I truly value whole, unprocessed foods now- I may go for something from a restaurant (yeah, I know, any of Amy's Enchiladas is likely to be healthier than a freshly fried chicken breast from KFC!) Ooh, you know what sounds good? Brie cheese and fruit! I think Felicia suggested that to me but it didn't sound decadent enough at the time.

Anyway... anyone got any movie suggestions? I like dramas but not the tragically sad kind- I don't need to be boo-hooing this weekend. I like comedies, but not the "stoopid" kind, if you know what I mean. I love adventures, stories set in foreign cultures (as a language lover I don't mind subtitles) and love stories. Even a chick flick is all right if it doesn't fall into the stoopid or tragic categories.

Oh, I have to mention something. I found a video from December 31st, 2005, of Felicia and me ending the year by throwing our binge foods into the garbage can. She's tossing out fig newtons and mock crying, and you can see in the garbage can an empty bottle of my beloved Pepsi along with the remains of all kinds of horrors. I laughed my head off. I may post a snippet if Felicia is all right with it. Despite my plans for this evening, I am pleased to know, deep in my heart, that I will NEVER be the way I used to be. Maybe that's what tonight is really all about.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Back Away from the Spices!

Cellphone Video: Perusing the aisles of my second home, Whole Foods

I was at my second home today- Whole Foods- looking at the cottage cheeses. The cheese will replace the salmon I've been eating, because I believe the negative changes I've seen in my skin and digestion are due to the fish. As I looked at the display, my heart sank because I remembered how much I hated eating this bland stuff while on my Weight Watchers diet. Nonetheless, I decided on an organic brand that had the fewest weird and unnatural-sounding ingredients. This brand has a tart flavor and touts live culture content. I bought two 16-oz containers of it (and 5 bottles of kombucha tea!).

I must say that I believe that those who speculate that we overeat partly because of the multitude of herbs and spices we add to our foods are right. And by the way, that observation is not new; it was made ages ago by people such as the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who noted over 200 years ago that people with access to spicy foods tended to make gluttons of themselves. With that in mind, I realize I probably shouldn't be eating strongly flavored foods like smoked salmon. If I found it easy to make a glutton of myself eating extremely sweet and salty foods in my SAD days, I know I could do the same with the fish. I've already gone from eating it once a day to eating it at lunch AND dinner. I could easily eat it for breakfast, too. That's probably a warning sign to me (if the other signs weren't enough) that I should back off. Cottage cheese is probably just what the doctor ordered: 14 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat per 1/2 cup, and mild flavoring. The switch from salmon to cottage cheese will net me more protein, less fat, and not fill me up as much as the fish did.

Now, is there such a thing as raw milk cottage cheese, I wonder...?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Almost Seven Months Raw- Then and Now

(Photo: My blood pressure and pulse reading this week- not bad!)

(Note- I know there's a typo or two in here but I can't find them!)

When I first started this blog, I was a pretty sad person. I was tired of being overweight, depressed that I hadn't figured out how to keep the weight off, and was suffering from physical ailments that decreased the quality of my life. They say that when you start to feel that you are not making progress in your new healthy habits, it's good to look back at where you started. Since I'm thinking about having some decidedly not-raw treats over the next few - and because I've been frustrated over bouncing within the same weight range for many, many weeks- I thought this might be a good time to compare where I stand today to where I was on January 1st, 2006 when I first embarked on my Raw Odyssey. Below are entries (with some paraphrasing for succinctness) from my first blog entry, followed by comments about how things have changed since I went raw.

First of all, I started at 341 lbs. I am 5′6". In 2001 I started to regain the 190 lbs I'd just lost and eventually reached that weight, size 30. I couldn't walk from the car to the grocery store door without running out of breath, nor could I read a passage from a book out loud without stopping frequently to breathe. I had obstructive sleep apnea and qualified for gastric bypass surgery. My doctor said it also appeared I had developed asthma. I couldn't wash the dishes for more than a few minutes due to the pain in my back. If I went to the mall I had to sit down frequently because I was tired and in pain. My arms and hip felt like they were pulling out of their sockets. My knee and leg felt so week that climbing stairs was scary because I feared collapsing.

Things sure are different today- despite having over 100 lbs left to lose, I'm much healthier and happier. Check it out with me:

-Eyes water for a couple of hours each morning
-Stuffy nose/post-nasal drip
-Sneezing in the morning
-Sides of tongue hurt for days at a time
-Bad gums (probably gum disease)
-Stiff neck and back

My eyes still water from time to time and I sneeze once in a while, but I'm not "suffering" the way I used to, and no stuffy nose these days. My tongue stopped hurting after my first week eating raw. I've yet to see a dentist (no insurance) so I can't say much about the dental issues yet, but the stiff neck and back are largely gone. I only seem to get them these days from carrying my heavy bookbag or working out.

-Blotchy complexion, some acne
-Low grade headache in morning, sometimes throughout day
-Severe lower back pain all the time
-Pain in knees

My complexion cleared up amazingly after being raw for a few months. It happened gradually, but the teeny bumps and darker pigmentation on my cheeks went away. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I recently added smoked salmon and increased the amount of cheese I eat so that I could get more protein in my battle aganst hair loss (which started after eating raw helped me to lose a huge amount of weight in a short amount of time). Since adding those foods, the roughness in my complexion has slightly reappeared. Proof positive of the beneficial effect that a raw diet has on my skin- and I do love evidence! It is making me reconsider the salmon. I have no more daily headeaches, but I did develop headaches when I was eating smoked salmon from Trader Joe's and grocery stores. When I started getting my salmon from Costco the headaches stopped.

-Low energy, low stamina
-Uneven sleeping patterns
-Often feel hot
-Very noisy digestive system
-chronically dry skin

I noticed relatively early on that my depression just kind of melted away. I still tend towards depressive thinking when I'm stressed out, but I don't LIVE depressed the way I did before.
I'm not sure that my energy level has increased, but I definitely sleep better. It used to take me hours sometimes to fall asleep. Since starting raw I've fallen asleep within 15 minutes sometimes, and I sleep through the night soundly.
I still often feel hot. When I was a size 10 I was always cold. I'd love to feel cold again because it's hot here in the southwest. Guess I've still got too much insulation!
My digestive system was embarrasingly noisy in the old days and guess what? Since adding the fish and increasing the cheese, the noise has started up again. More proof that my body seems to like my more-purely raw diet better than the one I've morphed to. I'm definitely reconsidering the fish.
My skin is still dry, but no more alligator legs! I drink water all day and really miss it when I don't have any on me. Water comprises 95% of what I drink; the only other beverage I drink is kombucha tea from Wild Oats and Whole Foods, usually once a week or so.

-Resting heartrate = 80s and 90s
-341 pounds (about 200 lbs to lose)
My blood pressure is high
-My cholesterol is over 200.
-I am anemic.

Check out the photo up top- that was my blood pressure and resting heart rate this weekend at a pharmacy. My recent blood tests show my cholesterol to be in the 170s with the good and bad cholesterols both at healthy levels. I'm at 272 lbs these days and I'm not anemic any longer. I'm a size 22W.


-Salt, caffiene and sugar make up a large part of what I eat.
-Pepsi, some days, is the only thing I drink. Other days I drink very little of anything.
-High saturated fat and trans-fat

I consume no caffeine at all. My sodium levels were fine until- you guessed it: I added the fish and increased the cheese. (I am really reconsidering that fish....) I've had no Pepsi since December 31st 2005. I'm conscientious about drinking enough water and although I'm not perfect, I do have an average of 7 eight-oz. servings of water a day, I'd say. My diet consists of no trans-fats. The only saturated fats I get are the healthy, plant-based kind.

-Fitness? What fitness? I can’t climb one short set of stairs without huffing and puffing. If I have to hurry down the street even a little, I’m breathing heavily for a ridiculous amount of time.

Today, even at over 100 lbs overweight, I can run up a flight of stairs (I know this because I've been doing it at work since last week!) My knee and leg are FINE- so fine I forgot I ever had a problem with them (or with my shoulders, for that matter, until re-reading my first blog entry). When I visited the gym last week, I actually ran a little on the treadmill, too- so there!

All I can say is WOW- I'm so glad I re-read my first post! I've come a long way. I've learned a lot, too. The biggest lessons I've learned are that 1) junk foods have strong psychological and physical effects on me, and 2) My raw odyssey must be tailored to my lifestyle and body and no one else's 3) It's a good thing to experiment and to try new things. If something doesn't work for me, it doesn't work. There's nothing bad or good about that; I just have to adjust and find what does work. The fish and cheese thing, for example. I'll probably end up cutting out the fish and keeping low-fat cheese on my menu (cottage cheese comes to mind).

Now, does all of this mean I'm not going to have a few junky treats over the next few days? Truthfully, I don't know if I will or won't, but I'll be keeping in mind where I used to be. To those who wrote to me warning me not to overdo it, thank you very much. I'll be careful! I'm kinda hoping any treat I have makes me queasy so that it'll be easy to cross it off my list. I'm not doing anything until Friday, at the earliest.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I Relented...

I know I said I was trying to get all of my nutrients from foods rather than from supplements, but I was at the store yesterday and came across biotin. So many people over the past couple of months have suggested to me that I biotin or MSM to get my hair to start regrowing that I finally relented. But will I have the same results they do? This bottle advertises its use for hair, skin and nails, and incudes MSM along with the biotin. The vitamins were on sale- get another bottle of vitamins for half price. Naturally I got vitamin D , since that's the other bane of my existence these days. I purposely did not get a mutivitamin because it is still my intention to obtain my RDA of nutrients through diet. If I get a multivitamin I'll get lazy about choosing my foods with care.

I have a vacation coming up- not one where I don't attend classes or go to work, but one where Felicia will be out of the house for a few days. That's a vacation for me because I get to do a few things on my own schedule and in my own way without affecting her. Over the past few weeks I have been dreaming up a special treat I might indulge in while she's away- something way off the beaten path. Why do I want to do this? Who knows- maybe just to test myself, or maybe just for the sheer fun of eating something that has little nutritional value for a change, dangnabbit! Isn't that what vacations are all about? I might try something as benign as sushi with rice (I've been avoiding rice). Or it might be... No, I can't tell you. Not yet. :-D

It may be that I won't indulge at all; I mean, if I really wanted to indulge in something I could have done it by now (when you're a compulsive eater you learn how to sneak)! But I've noticed that these days I can see a junky treat as being just that- a treat. A rare event in my life. I've come such a long way these past 6 months! I used to live on junk and considered healthy foods to be a rare treat (or punishment, if it was spinach). Now that healthy foods are my life, the less-nutritional foods are in their rightful category of rare indulgences. Joy!

NOTE: For those of you who are curious about the latest on Felicia's progress since she went raw, check out her journal. She continues to lose weight and is now looking into plastic surgery to deal with the loose skin she's acquired. (To those who do not know, Felicia had gastric bypass surgery in 2004 when she weighed over 350 lbs. This year she successfully turned to a raw diet to combat compulsive eating, cravings, and weight regain).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Analyzing my Diet

(photo: ginger-one of the "world's healthiest foods")

I'm really enjoying the website The World's Healthiest Foods. Today I used their "food advisor," which is a questionnaire that you answer for analysis. Although I already knew from Sparkpeople that my diet is too low in certain nutrients, I like how WHF lays out the information and advises you on how to correct the deficiencies. It's like NutritionData and Sparkpeople with tailored advice.

The advisor has you check from a list your age group, ethnicity, gender and major health problems (I checked asthma, although I rarely have breathing problems these days). Then you check your habit of eating 1 serving from certain food groups daily or weekly. The listed foods are only the world's healthiest ones- not restaurant meals, pop (that's soda for those of you who don't say "pop") and junk food. Be sure to think before you answer the questions so that you are as accurate as possible. Some of the serving sizes can't possibly apply to the foods listed in that. For example, I eat olive oil almost daily, but it's included in the vegetable category for which they give 1 cup as a serving size. However, by grouping all of your intake from the vegetable group, though, you can average your total servings over the course of a day or week.

I always knew that I tend to eat the same types of foods over and over again, rarely straying into new areas until I get sick of my daily menu. That doesn't bode well for my nutritional profile. Below is the list I got of my deficiencies, all of which I was aware of - for the fatty acids, that is. I thought I got plenty of those! Seeing this information in red (high warning) and yellow (moderate deficiency) puts it into perspective:
95% vitamin b12
95% vitamin e
90% vitamin d
80% riboflavin b2
78% calcium
70% niacin b3
68% zinc
60% pantothenic acid
60% omega 3 fatty acids
Naturally, this website gives you advice about resolving your deficiencies. They give you foods with a number representing how many of the nutrients from your deficiency list you'll get from that one food. For example, if I were to eat cooked turnip greens, I would kill 4 birds with one stone, since it contains 4 of my deficient nutrients. Since I would eat them raw, I'd likely have greater benefits. You can click on each nutrient for information about what it does, indicators of deficiency, and rich sources of that nutrient. You can also click on the food sources suggested; this will give you a nutritional analysis, recipe ideas, and other helpful information. Based on what I'm reading at WHF, I'm thinking I get vitamin D from the salmon I eat, despite what Sparkpeople says. Their nutritional profiles for salmon all say 0 vitamin D. Guess I'll have to create an entry of my own for salmon.

Well, I hope that those of you who haven't been to this website check it out. I'm all about self- educating, and this website looks like a good resource for people who want to find out more about good, healthy foods.

List of world's healthiest foods
Food advisor
World's Healthiest Foods main page

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Plagued by Sodium and Vitamin D

I'm blogging a bit earlier than usual, so I haven't hit the gym yet. I am not feeling well, though- the fiber from those prunes is still having an effect on me. I had dried fruit again today and really shouldn't have, as it made the situation worse. No fruit for me tomorrow! If I don't feel well by late evening I'm not going to be able to work out at all. That's a let-down, because I really wanted to establish a workout habit right off the bat.

I ate the same old stuff today that I did yesterday, minus those pesky prunes, of course. But I cut down on the cheese in order to decrease the sodium and fat I've been eating, and I made sure to eat 4 slices of Ezekiel bread so that I'd have more protein with less fat. I've ended up with still more calories than I prefer, but I'm within my desired range of fats. As for protein, I got a tad less than the 80 to 100 range, but I had more than I needed yesterday so it balances out. I'm a bit low in my minerals but I haven't worked in the dulse flakes or my last serving of molasses yet and I'm too full to eat anything more right now. Still had way too much sodium and almost no vitamin D. It's a good thing I'm out in the sun a bit everyday or I'd probably be in real Vitamin D Trouble. Without vitamin D, my calcium and phosphorous aren't as useful, as they need vitamin D for absorption (thought I'd throw that in there).

Here's the major breakdown for today:
Calories 1,838 Carbs 256 Fat 64 Protein 76

Tomorrow's goals: no fruit! Gotta give my intestines a break. That means I'll be low in some of my vitamins, but one day of that won't kill me. What to nibble on for breakfast, though? I'll figure something out.

11:30 pm amendment
I worked out for 65 minutes, doing 3.04 miles at various speeds and inclines. Sparkpeople says I burned about 425 calories but I take the calorie burning thing with a grain of salt, really (although 425 would be great). I had 2 tablespoons of dulse flakes mixed with taboule, and my last tbsp of molasses after the workout. This amends my calories, etc. to

Calories 1,930 Carbs 272 Fat 65 Protein 78
and leaves me with deficiencies in only the folate, Vitamins D & E, Zinc, and some Bs (Panothenic Acid, Riboflavin & Thiamin).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day Two of the New Plan- Did I Do Better Than Yesterday?

I didn't do too badly today. I gulped down a couple of tablespoons of molasses before leaving for work. I skipped the nuts today, sticking to dried fruit for breakfast: a mix of prunes, figs, apples, nectarines, and apricots. For lunch I had pretty much the same foods as yesterday, except I added 2 ounces of fish. Dinner was a repeat of lunch, but with only 1 oz. of fish, and with the third tablespoon of molasses thrown in. In the evening I added two tablespoons of dulse flakes to a snack of taboule to get more minerals and B 12 in.

By the way, I was ill much of the day due to eating those prunes. I know they are supposed to help "clean you out" due to their high fiber content, but I was in agony after eating only three of them. I guess that along with the fiber I got from the other fruit, those prunes sent me over the top. I didn't think I was going to make it through my class today because of all the pain. I was much better by dinnertime, but I'm still not back to normal.

In some ways today was a nutritional improvement over yesterday. In other ways, not so good. I had fewer calories and fat due to avoiding the nuts. But I was surprised to have achieved 110 grams of protein (too much!). I also had too much sodium again. Lastly, most of the nutrients I didn't get enough of yesterday I also didn't get enough of today.

How to improve? Immediate ideas: I would try removing the cheese to lower the protein, sodium and fat; adding kombucha to increase the B vitamins; increasing the dulse flakes to increase my B12 even more; adding greens for the folate, and finding better food sources for zinc, folate, D and E that aren't high in fat and protein.

Calories 1,797 Carbs 190 Fats 78 Protein 110

Monday, July 10, 2006

Great Workout at the Gym!!

The day started out with a minor annoyance, but ended on an up beat. First, I put on the new size 22W pants I'd just bought, only to find they didn't fit me! I could barely button them, and couldn't do anything with the zipper. I thought I had lied to all of you about reaching size 22, but then I looked at the size and saw it was a 20W! Whew!! Don't ask me how that happened. All I know is I had to wear my baggy size 24s today and I was quite displeased about the whole thing.

I ate all my good foods today. I started with Kombucha (mango- very tasty) on the way to work. At the office I had my usual breakfast of nuts and dried fruit. For lunch I had a mishmash of things- a little homemade taboule, a little homemade hummus, some ezekiel bread, about an ounce of mozzarella, and corn salsa. I was hungry by the time I got home this evening. For dinner I had about 2.5 oz. of fish plus a repeat of lunch, with an extra slice of Ezekiel bread and a couple of figs. I made sure to get my 3 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses (an icky-yummy experience again).

A couple of hours after dinner I went off to the gym where I got on the treadmill. I was tempted to do the cardio thing, but I'm glad I held back and kept my heart rate down so I could do the "fat burning" workout instead. It was hard for me to not want to go fast, even though my foot was hurting and my shoes didn't fit properly. But I was on fire, people! I thought I'd last one mile but instead I got into the music and the sweating and the whole physical experience. I stayed on for one hour and did 2.87 miles. This is nothing compared to what I used to do when I was in shape, but for tonight it was excellent.

It was after the workout that I had my last ounce of cheese and tablespoon of molasses. I then put everything into Sparkpeople and nearly had a heart attack- 2,515 calories? Good Lord. And 112 grams of fat? How in the world did I do that? Oh- but I had 99 grams of protein!! :-)
Seriously, though, there's got to be a better way to get those 100 grams of protein. I do not want to eat over 2000 calories, even on workout days.

Speaking of working out, Sparkpeople estimates I burned about 600 calories today. That's partly because I used the incline setting on the treadmill- at one point I was up to 5.5%, which really worked out my hamstrings and butt. When my hip started hurting I had to take it back down to 1% but you can't say I didn't try. I can't wait until I'm closer to 200. I'm quite sure that at 200 lbs, these back, hip and foot pains will disappear.

EXERCISE: one hour on treadmill, approx. 600 calories burned

: Calories 2,515 CARBS 306 FAT 112 PROTEIN 99

I got enough of these from food alone:
Calcium, protein, magnesium, fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C

Got too much of these:
Calories, sodium, fat

Didn't get enough of these
Folate, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin D
(Close, but no cigar: B12, Iron, thiamine, riboflavin)

Another day comes- another day to try again!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Trying to Create the "Perfect" Nutritional Menu

I spent much of today out of the house, which posed a problem for my diet. I had protein in the morning: about 2 oz. of fish, 2 oz. of cheese curds (from Wild Oats), Ezekiel bread and dried fruit. Yes, a motley grouping of foods it was, but that was breakfast. While out today I got very hungry and thirsty, so I ate a small fruit salad from a fast food restaurant, and later had a tasteless iceberg lettuce-based salad from another fast food place. Drank a lot of water, too! When I got home I had more fish, Ezekiel bread and vegetables. And then- horrors! I realized I hadn't had my molasses for my hair! So I quickly consumed three tablespoons of blackstrap molasses straight from the bottle (icky and yummy at the same time- can't explain). I really need to figure out how to eat that stuff. The hot water idea doesn't do it for me.

I thought it would be interesting to put together a day's menu of food items that together would provide at least the minimum RDA of vitamins and other nutrients. I want to avoid taking vitamins if I can, and one would think that getting one's daily supply of nutrients from real food shouldn't be all that difficult. So far I've put together the following list of foods I would most enjoy eating, followed by the major nutrient I'm getting from them. (I do know that each of these foods offer more than the nutrient I am listing, of course).

Molasses, blackstrap, 3 tbsp (iron and other minerals)
Figs, dried, 3 (calcium, fiber, magnesium)
Banana 1 (potassium)
Nuts such as Walnuts and almonds (Vitamin E, healthy fats))
Avocado (healthy fats)
Seaweed, kelp, 4 tbsp (1/8 cup) (B12 and more)
Ezekiel Bread 4 slices (Fiber, B vitamins, protein)
Olive Oil, 1 tbsp (healthy fats)
Romaine Lettuce (salad) - (vitamins)
Red Ripe Tomatoes 1 (vitamins)
Mozzarella Cheese, part skim milk, 2 oz (protein, calcium)
Garlic, 1 clove (allicin- good for your immune system!)
Atlantic Salmon (fish), 3 oz (protein, healthy fats)
Dried Mangos, 2 oz (vitamin C and other vitamins)
Kombucha Mystic Mango (Synergy), (B vitamins, pro-biotics)

These are excellent sources of various nutritional elements, but it is incomplete. I really haven't figured out the appropriate proportions yet, although I already know I want less fat and more protein. I also need more minerals and some sources of Vitamin D. Sparkpeople recorded no vitamin D even though I had fish and cheese, which supposedly contains it. Must be trace amounts.

I noticed today that the roughness in my facial complexion (cheek area) has reappeared. It's not nearly as bad as it once was, but I wonder if the fish and/or cheese is causing this. I just started with the molasses so I doubt if that is it, but heaven knows I've been wrong before. I'll have to keep an eye on this.

Three things:

  1. I made it to the 260s FINALLY!!! I got on the scale twice just to make sure. Now, who knows what the scale will say tomorrow, but I was happy as a clam this morning.
  2. I am now down to a size 22w. I bought a much-needed pair of pants that size today.
  3. I finally joined the gym. I have been beating around the bush with this issue, but finally I decided that I just need to spend the money and get fit. I signed up for the option of monthly body fat testing and a monthly visit with a trainer (both part of the special they were running for new members). I plan to use the treadmill and racquetball court the most, and as I lose weight, I'll add the elliptical trainer.
P.S. Here is a website I am using as a resource for my menu project. You might want to check it out if you haven't discovered it already: The World's Healthiest Foods

A Reader's Experience with Hair Loss

NOTE: A reader, Zoebess, submitted this comment at my mirror site. Because she put so much work into it and included information that other readers may want to know, I thought I would make it a blog entry of its own at this site.

by Zoebess

My heart went out to you reading about your struggle with hairloss. I experienced my own hairloss and thought I would share what worked for me in case there is something you might be interested in trying....

Last fall I did an extended Master Cleanse fast, 30 days, and unfortunately, my hair took a hit and within months, it began to fall out by the handful. I have fine hair, past my butt so you can imagine, I was freaking because both my brothers are bald!

I read up on it and discovered that it does happen and is connected to hormone levels. I cant remember everything I did but I did get liquid minerals and vitamins since they are more easily assimilated than pills. I also included kelp capsules because they are good for balancing out your hormone levels.

Here were the liquid supps I decided on. Each bottle is one month supply.

I also went to speak with some hair people and after that incorportated coconut oil hair/head massages, and also emu oil, both which helped tremendously. I would oil my hair and then put on one of those shower cap thingeys, the disposable kind and go out in the sun for an hour or so. I really let it soak in. I was also told that the hair that was falling out had died 3 months earlier which was exactly during my fast. The woman also recommend Nioxin which is a cleanser for the hair with bionutrient protectives. I added 3 or 4 drops of Oregano oil to this also. You need to take care not to get it in your eyes with the oregano but my feeling was, if I have skin mites or anything living on my scalp, the oregano was going to do them in.

I also added Coconut Powder to my diet to get more healthy fats in --

I also used Hair, Skin & Nail Support from the Herbal Healer Academy.


This is an exceptional formula at a great price for all of you who need extra daily supplementation to enhance the growth of your nails and hair and also to help promote healthy skin. This formula combines all the most important vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These nutrients support lustrous hair, glowing skin and flawless nails! Also, this formula should be supplemented whenever there is any type of skin disorder, including psoriasis, acne, mysterious rashes, seborrhea, etc.

50% RDA -2500 IU - VITAMIN A (100% as Beta Carotene)
50% RDA - 30 mg. - VITAMIN C (as Ascorbic Acid)
50% RDA - 15 I.U. - VITAMIN E (as d-alpha Tocopheryl Succinate)
330% RDA - 5 mg. - THIAMINE - B1 - Helps stimulate proper cell growth, antioxidant activity helps prevent rapid aging.
180% RDA - 3 mg. - RIBOFLAVIN - B2 - Facilitates use of oxygen by the tissues of the skin, nails and hair.
25% RDA - 5 mg. - NIACIN - B3 - Needed for circulation and healthy skin. Important for all skin disorders.
250% RDA - 5 mg. - PYRIDOXINE B-6 - Indicated for all skin and nail conditions and hair loss.
25% RDA - 100 mcg. - FOLIC ACID - Cellular energy and helps cellular formation
210% RDA - 12.5 mcg. B-12 - Promotes growth and development by maintaining the fatty sheath that cover and protect the nerve endings. Note: Strict vegetarians need to supplement B12 as this vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal tissue. Because the body can store B12, vegetarians may not see the signs of deficiency for a year or more.
85% RDA - 250 mcg. BIOTIN - Cell growth and helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins properly.
Very important for healthy hair and skin. Dry scaly scalp can be a Biotin deficiency.
250% RDA - 25 mg. - PANTOTHENIC ACID - B5
50% RDA - 75 mcg. - IODINE (Kelp)
12% RDA - 250 mcg - COPPER ( from Copper Amino Acid Chelate) - non-toxic
250 mg. MSM SULPHUR - Phenomenal in helping all skin problems
150 mg. L- METHIONINE - Amino acid essential for detox and mobilizes toxic build-ups in the body.
100 mg. L-CYSTEINE - Amino Acid - Present in alpha keratin, the chief protein of the fingernails, toenails, skin and hair. Helps production of Collagen and promotes elasticity in skin.
100 mg. HORSETAIL HERB - Famous for it's concentrated nutritional and mineral support
25 mg. Choline - Vitamin - Without proper amounts of choline, the body's brain and memory function is impaired. Brain function for healing!
25 mg. INOSITOL - Vitamin essential for hair growth. Deficiency symptom - hair loss.
25 mg. PABA - Vitamin that helps in the assimilation of Pantothenic Acid. Antioxidant ability that helps protect the skin against cancer. Helps restore gray hair to original color if gray is caused by stress of nutritional deficiency.

Daily Recommended Dose: 1 capsule 3 to 6 times a day preferable on empty stomach or before meals.

(Reg. Retail Price - Large 90 capsule bottle - $19.95)
90 capsules - Buy 1 - $16.95 ea.
Buy 3 - Only $14.00 each

Anyway...after much stress and fretting, my hairfall stopped and my hair grew back and is fine. I just did another 30 day cleanse but this time added blackstrap molasses, the liquid vitamins/minerals and liquid Essiac to the cleanse. I will be able to tell in a few months if my deviations from the cleanse worked to keep my hair in enough nutrition.

Now, off the cleanse, I am back to my cocnut powder and hair supplements. My hair has also grown in length with all the attention. That of course is not my main goal...keeping it on my head is...ggg

I wish you well on your healing journey!



Friday, July 07, 2006

Review of Day One of my Updated Raw Menu

( Fig photo taken by Xerones. Click image for more images)

Mission: Regrow my hair!
The Plan
  1. Get 80 to 100 grams of protein.
  2. Get between 50 - 70 grams of healthy fats.
  3. Increase my intake of minerals- especially calcium, magnesium, and iron
  4. Increase my B vitamin intake
  5. Eat between 1200 and 1700 calories.
DAY ONE (yesterday)
I tried oh so hard to meet my protein goal! It was hard to achieve it without googobs of fat and calories. Raw foodists have said that we can eat as much fat as we want without infringing on weight loss, but I have not experienced consistent weight loss while eating high amounts of fat. However, my blood tests showed me that eating high amounts of plant fats have not harmed me- and probably contributed to my great cholesterol levels.

This is consistent with what scientists have found with people who follow a Mediterranean diet that is high in healthy fats such as olive oil. While low-fat diets lower your HDL cholesterol- the kind of cholesterol you actually want to raise- a Mediterranean diet protects your heart by raising your HDL. So while I'm not concerned about my heart and arteries when I eat a lot of plant fat, I do worry that I'm slowing or halting my rate of weight loss.

So here's what I ate: fresh figs, some dried fruits, and some nuts. FOUR slices of Ezekiel bread because they had 16 grams of protein and only 2 grams of fat. Mozzarella balls marinated in olive oil, sundried tomatoes and basil, and 4 oz. of smoked salmon. Overall I had about 2000 calories - way more than I prefer. I overdid the fat as well: 100 grams. I made it to about 90 grams of protein, though- yaaay!

Using I found that I did not get all the vitamins and minerals I needed, so I'm going to add blackstrap molasses to my diet to see if that helps- it's also good for hair because it's full of iron and other minerals. I'm sure it's not raw, but I'm on a mission this month. I will work on finding more protein sources that I enjoy eating but which have fewer fat calories, like the Ezekiel bread and fish. Hummus would work, too. I'm choosing to avoid brewer's yeast because, despite the fact that it would be perfect, I can't stand the stuff! I refuse to eat foods I don't like.

Here's another change: I'm going to incorporate fresh fish into my diet and greatly reduce or even eliminate smoked fish. Why? Because even though smoked salmon tastes great, both Felicia and I have noticed that we get mild headaches after eating it. It could be the salt it is cured in or it could be the nitrites so many smoked fish products have.

Th-th-th-that's all for now, folks!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Word from a Dietician

The dietician I met with was pleased with my blood tests because they show basically good results- especially my cholesterol of 177. My iron level is measured by the HGB test, and at 13.1 it is at a normal level. The albumin test confirms that I am not suffering from muscle wasting. The tests show no clear link between the diet and my hair loss. However, she did say that everyone is different, so certain nutritional levels may be fine for one person and not so fine for the next. Here is a breakdown of the advice she gave me.


This level came up as "borderline low." She suggested that I eat more greens, continue with the cheese, and even suggested I look for "milk curds", which are less processed than cheese, and which makes a good base for salad dressing.

This is also borderline low. Although one's protein level cannot be raised by simply eating more protein, it can be improved through an overall balanced diet. However, in my case she says that I should be eating a lot more protein due to my weight (I weighed in at 275 today). She wants me to go for 100 grams a day. To do this, she suggests that along with the plant proteins (including nuts) I should continue to eat raw cheeses, and she recommends fish daily instead of only 3 times a week. 100 grams of protein sounds like so much to me, but experts disagree on how much protein one should eat. I've read where 20% of a woman's diet should be protein. On a 1700 calorie diet that would be closer to 80 grams. On a good day I get between 40 and 60. I will try to do 80 to 100 grams a day.

Not only does increased protein help with hair, but eating enough healthy fats is also good for it. The good fats have vitamins A, D, E and K. The dietician suggested I get these in the form of olive oil, certain nuts (like walnuts), avocado, canola oil and salmon (since I already eat salmon).

I hardly eat any grains-the only grains I eat come from a slice here or there of Ezekiel bread and Ezekiel tortilas. She suggested I look for ways to incorporate more raw grains into my diet. The cooked kind is also fine, but she warned that B vitamins are lost when grains are heated, so they are actually put back in during processing. Naturally I choose raw- if I can figure out a raw grain I will enjoy eating! For now, it's Ezekiel, because I don't like the raw grains I've tried so far.

Magnesium is generally good for you, and apparently it is related to successful weight loss. A good source of both magnesium and calcium are figs- even the dried kind. I've therefore decided to add those to my diet. I got some dried and fresh ones today from Trader Joe's. You know, the dried ones really reminded me of Fig Newtons (hmm, I guess they really are fruit and cake).

I really liked how the dietician took into account my raw diet and my hair loss concerns when making her recommendations. I will follow her advice to the best of my ability and continue with the cheeses and fish despite the fact that I would prefer to get my protein from only plant foods.

My updated meal plan will go something like this: dried fruit and some nuts for breakfast as I've been doing, but a smaller amount. For lunch, a large vegetable salad with a few nuts, and things like goji berries, raw milk cheese, avocado and olive oil. Yum! I'd gotten away from these tasty salads. I'll probably have a slice of Ezekiel bread as well, or create a salad wrap in an Ezekiel tortilla. For dinner I'll have maybe 2 ounces of fish and another slice of Ezekiel bread, and possibly a small green salad.

In one month I will visit her again to see if there is any reversal in my hair loss (I'm not feeling positive that one month is long enough, as I'm still seeing breakage and thinning). I'm going to track my intake on Sparkpeople because I know I won't reach my protein goals otherwise.

So: onward and up - I mean DOWNward!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Comparing Blood Levels Pre and Post Raw

I obtained the blood test results today. I have posted only the results that I felt were most relevant to the nutritional issue I'm dealing with- my concern about hair loss. The results show that everything is normal. I was happy to find a test I had taken last August that I can use for comparison between my non-raw days and my current diet. Now, the 2005 test was taken during an emergency room visit for an ovarian cyst, so I had not fasted beforehand, as I did for the latest test, and the nature of the emergency might have played a role in some of the numbers. Still, the results for many of the tests are very similar. If any of you are nurses or doctors or in some field that requires you to understand the implications of these numbers, feel free to share your knowledge. It's amazing how much people know that doctors won't/can't take the time to truly explain to you.

The highlighted items are the ones that stood out to me the most. Oh- I didn't include my cholesterol, but it's 177- very good, and much improved from the mid-200's I've had in the recent past. My HDL (the good stuff) is 54 (if it were above 60, it would be awesome!) But 40 to 60 is good. LDL (the bad stuff) needs to be below 130 for someone of my characteristics, so this is at a healthy level as well. The raw diet has truly helped me obtain that result.

It's late, so I will have to reserve my comments about what all these tests mean until another post. I did a lot of research, though! In summary, I'm thinking I could stand to raise the protein levels, but I've read that you can't do that by eating protein, you just have to have an overall balanced diet. I also believe my calcium level could stand to be raised. Looking at all of the blood counts (some of which I haven't posted) I've also deduced that my iron level is on the low-normal side. I can't tell if its gone up or down since last year but I believe it has gone up because after the first week of eating raw, the severe tongue pain that my doctor had said was iron-related totally disappeared.
(UPDATE: my potassium level should read 4.7. Thanks, Pam, for noting that I might be half dead with potassium at .87). :-)

NEXT UP: The Dietician, and perhaps some pH strips so I can test my acid/alkalinity levels (thanks for the idea, bkrisp).

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Let the Exercising Begin!

I suddenly realized this weekend that I have the perfect exercise venue at my job: the air conditioned halls and stairs are perfect for a lunchtime workout. Have you ever used the halls and stairs in your home or workplace for exercise? My mother, who is in her upper 60s, has been walking halls and stairs for years. She lives in a 22-floor building and one of her exercises is to walk down the very long hallway, go up one flight of stairs, walk down that hallway and then up another flight of stairs. She does this until she gets to the top floor and then down she goes, one flight and one hallway at a time. And she's not slow about it, either!

The building I work in has only 5 floors, but I'm in such bad shape that I feel winded walking up one flight. My goal will be to do all 5 floors every work day. My first day will let me know how difficult the task is, after which I'll make adjustments so that I gradually build up my fitness and am able to do all 5 flights. I have an iPod to help me with boredom. I'm feeling very positive about this!



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