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Healthy Beverages!

21 Jan

Healthy Beverages!

I have just passed the one year mark after my 100 pound weight loss. That means that I have sustained the loss for a year. Actually, I lost ten pounds more.

In a recent online discussion of healthy beverages, I asserted that I have learned to drink only coffee (usually black) and water. My motto is to drink no calories, with the very occasional latte an exception to that. Not bad for a woman who used to singlehandedly keep Starbucks in business by picking up two venti lattes at a time . . . with full fat milk. I would do that 3-4 times a week, too. Imagine the calories. Imagine the cost.

Eating healthier ultimately turns out to be eating cheaper, too. Even when I buy K-cups for my Keurig and go through up to eight of them a day.

My husband has recently tried to introduce flavored waters into our repertoire. I say no, and here is why. I am not trying to be a spoilsport or an ascetic (people who gave things up just for the sake of living with minimal comforts in their lives). I just find that . . . I get thirsty after drinking flavored water. I am not sure what the sucralose (sugar substitute) does but it leaves my tongue hanging out for water, just as sodas used to do when consumed at picnics on hot days in my youth.

It is clear that high fructose corn syrup was a highly addictive substance for me (there is mounting evidence that it is for most of the human race). I am thrilled to be free of it. I am also pretty sure that if I had a Coke tonight, I would be craving another one tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day . . .

Water, water, water. Whether bottled or from the tap, whatever your philosophy, whatever your pleasure, water is good for you and good for me.

What happens to people when they don’t get enough water? We don’t have to go to Third World nations in need of wells being drilled to see the answer to that.

Look no further than West Virginia last week when a chemical used in washing coal was inadvertently released into much of the state’s water system, resulting in a white, fizzy substance pouring forth from faucets in the capital, Charleston, and elsewhere.

Look to the areas that went through the polar vortex two weeks ago and had frozen and sometimes burst water pipes.

When there is a water emergency, suddenly we are sizing up bottled water supplies in stores and rushing trucks in with more. A lack of water is a serious thing.

On a much more minor scale, I have recently noted that my occasional dizziness (inner ear related) gets worse when I am dehydrated. For instance, when I go to choir practice on Sunday afternoon and stay at church for four hours after forgetting to bring a bottle of water. I don’t usually drink from drinking fountains (at least not during flu season) so I have to remind myself to find a glass in the church kitchen and fill it with water. Or I will find myself suffering from a spinning room by the next morning.

It makes perfect sense. If there are bits of calcium or something getting caught in my inner ear channels, water will move them along. Passages in the body need to stay hydrated in order to get things to where they need to be (usually outside the body).

So . . . in conclusion, I hope to convince many to drink more water and to consume fewer other beverages (except plain coffee and tea). I think it is an easy step to take to better health.

Leaving Weight Watcher Points on the Table on Thanksgiving Day!

29 Nov

Yesterday my husband and I tried an experiment on Thanksgiving Day.  Since we are both in Weight Watchers, me as a lifetime member (for almost a year now) and him as a 20-pounds-lighter version of himself, we decided to try to do a Thanksgiving meal centered on low points fruits and veggies, with turkey available, but not the central actor in the drama!

Our son is away at college and Noel, my husband, just had eye surgery so we were home with just the two of us.  We agreed that this meal, minus dinner rolls and pie, was just what we wanted.

I began our day with a serving of real Irish oatmeal, cooked in 1% milk.

I then started cooking up a storm.  I began with a recipe a friend of mine, Ruth Brown Peters, had shared on our local Weight Watchers website.  There are several ways to do this, but the idea is to make a zero point dessert by cooking apples in the crockpot all day with water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  I think I threw some ginger in there eventually, too.

Oooooo-la-la!  That dish tasted exquisite by the time it was done.  The cloves seemed to have absorbed into the apples so they tasted as though every slice had a clove inside! They tasted like a solid version of apple cider.  They tasted like a crustless apple pie. They were one of the best desserts I have ever had and . . . they were zero points.

As I cooked our boneless turkey with just olive oil and thyme, I put in sweet potatoes to roast, with the skins on (we eat them that way).

I cooked our fresh green beans in garlic and the minimal amount of olive oil necessary to stir fry them.

I steamed a cauliflower to mix into our mashed potatoes, which were red-skinned potatoes that I boiled, mostly with the jackets still on them.  After mashing and mixing the cauliflower and potatoes, I added thyme, some chives, 1% milk, and olive oil in place of butter. They were delicious this way.

I made a cornbread stuffing with real cornmeal–I didn’t have a few ingredients that my recipe required, so I improvised a bit this time.  I will try the recipe again at a later date and do it right!!!  What I made was pretty good, though.  

I finished by mixing up a salad with nuts and light raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  I also made up a fruit salad of all of our leftover fresh fruit and a can of pineapple in its own juices.

I ended up spending 21 Weight Watcher points on my Thanksgiving meal, which was spread out over both the noon and the evening meal timeframes. Our oatmeal had been 7 points. I get 34 Weight Watcher points for my lifetime daily allowance, so I actually ate a packet of processed Slim Fast snack food we had lying around just so I could get three additional points. Even then, I left three points on the table for the day, as well as the four exercise points we picked up with our afternoon walk. It can be done. We actually aren’t supposed to leave Weight Watcher points on the table and I seldom do it, but we proved it can be done on Thanksgiving!!! Delicious!

P.S. At our Saturday weigh-in this week, I had lost two pounds and my husband had lost more than three. That is not something I seek, as a lifetime member, and, in fact, there has not been a week in the past year when I have lost two pounds. But that does make our point that Thanksgiving can be deliciously centered on fruits and veggies and people can lose weight as they feast on low calorie goodies. Just in case anyone wants to know!!! Easter, anyone?

Cheesecake Day!

29 Nov


This delicious cheesecake is sold at the bakery across from Carnegie Hall in New York City; it is Carnegie Deli cheesecake. The only place to buy it locally (fresh, never frozen) is at Route 58 Deli in Virginia Beach, our most famous Jewish deli.

I went there for a piece of this cheesecake once a month while losing my weight in 2012. I now go once every three weeks. It is my reward for staying on plan. I usually eat it in place of lunch, as it is immense.

And, yes, I count the points in my Weight Watchers tracker.

Today was fun as yesterday was not only Thanksgiving but the first day of Chanukah . . . It felt festive to be in a Jewish deli today!

I will follow this with a post on how my husband and I ate fruits and veggies for Thanksgiving yesterday and left Weight Watcher points on the table at day’s end . . .


Thanksgiving and Losing My Job!

28 Nov

Thanksgiving and Losing My Job!

Is Thanksgiving a sacrament? Is it still a sacrament when it falls on November 28 and you know that, on November 30, you will be losing your job?

Set out with me on this journey, as I have just undertaken it, never having done it before!

The contract I worked on for the Navy was rebid and, after much rather suspicious interplay between six or seven bidders, a new company got the contract, then promptly rehired mostly the members of a rival team we have worked with over the past four or five months. Our military commands merged over the summer, so they suddenly had duplicates for almost every civilian position on our contract. I can’t say I blame the new person in charge (from the rival company) for keeping his own people and letting us go . . . tribalism usually trumps just about everything else.

The reason I can say that and not grow bitter is not because the behavior of these companies was ethical. It certainly doesn’t pass the “smell test,” although I have nothing tangible to prove that it crossed any lines. Since the contract was subsequently contested, we will see whether the government comes up with anything tangible to prove unethical behavior. This is far beyond my paygrade at the moment!

No, the reason I can say that I am able to move on is because I serve a great God who has never let me down yet. He knew this was going to turn out this way and He let it. Since I am only 55 and at the peak of my health, ever, I know He still has some things for me to accomplish in this life. So it is up to me to find that next “something.” I am encouraged . . .

Meanwhile, I am seeing sacraments everywhere. I looked up the definition of “sacrament” and also read why denominations like Baptists (my own) do not use that word about ceremonies that occur in a church setting. Episcopalians have “sacraments” at church; we have “ordinances.”

That does not mean that Baptists don’t acknowledge the existence of sacraments. We just define them as things God does, while ordinances are things man does.

See the fine point of difference? And see why I can say my life is full of sacraments right now? God has done so much for me. God is doing so much for me. Often in the stillness, often in the silence, but I know His love and it surrounds me, always.

One sacrament is the very great blessing of being able to turn to cooking. In our land of abundance, even the very poorest can afford low cost raw ingredients to turn into wonderful, nutritious meals.

It is a blessing to live in the midst of abundance, to be able to afford that abundance, and to be able to turn that abundance into feasts.

This week alone I have built three feasts from scratch, two prior to Thanksgiving. Some people call that “clean eating” (the absence of prepackaged foods). I call it a sacrament and a delight.

It is warmth. It is creativity. It is beauty, visually, and in the tastes that emanate from my cooking.

I love it. And, in a world that may seem a bit out of control right now, that centers me.

Bless the Lord!

Enjoy the recipe for cornbread dressing, above. I changed it so much (because I had vastly different ingredients) that I will have to try it another time to see what it is really like!

Perspective (there really are at least two views of every event)

15 Oct

“DEAR ABBY: I am almost 30, and when we have family get-togethers several times a year, it seems like they make a point to leave me out of pictures. My mom and sister lost quite a bit of weight recently, and my brothers and cousin are attractive people. It seems like they’re trying to keep the “fat one” out of the photo, and it hurts my feelings.

Recently, a cousin came into town and made copies of two excellent pictures of my mom and sister and posted them online. Again, I was not included. What should I do? I am depressive anyway, and these obvious oversights are upsetting me. — LEFT OUT IN TENNESSEE

DEAR LEFT OUT: Talk with your mother and sister to confirm if what you suspect is happening is true. It’s possible your mother and sister are so proud of their weight loss they want to show it off. (There are ways to pose family members in photographs so their weight isn’t apparent.) As to the visiting cousin, there may be such a marked change in their appearance that he/she thought it was worth posting on the Internet.

A problem with depression is that quietly brooding solves nothing, and it often causes people to overeat. Because your depression is chronic, please consider discussing it with your health care provider because interventions are available.”

Amazing letter, this!

I would never, in a million years, have thought that I should look around when someone is taking my picture to document my weight loss to see who is not in the picture.  

It is easy, from my side of things, to think that this letter writer is just oversensitive.  

But we all feel left out of events sometimes . . . often for the strangest reasons.

Probably there are no answers that fit every person or every situation.

But we can be compassionate with each other, even when the other is unreasonable, or seems to be.

Christlikeness goes a long way toward helping us grow in community!



October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

1 Oct

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

And October is the month that many of us celebrate surviving breast cancer. I am now officially a five and a half year survivor, having been diagnosed in early April of 2008.

So many fears back then! So many victories now!

I remember lying awake the night before my surgery (a lumpectomy, so not even as painful or extensive a surgery as those many of my friends have endured) and thinking that I would never feel happy, or whole, or painfree again. Yet I still slept pretty well that night because I still knew God had hold of my situation.

And how marvelously He has brought it all back around.

He allowed me to survive. He didn’t have to do that. He would have still been a good God if He didn’t choose for me to have that ending.

He allowed me to get a good Navy contractor job the following year, after I retired from the Navy reserves.

He allowed for me to not only lose the forty pounds I gained during and after chemotherapy, but He allowed me to lose 70 more so that my health is actually much better now than it was in the years right before I got cancer.

He allowed me to start this blog, a true labour of love and a lifetime dream. I could never have imagined when I dreamt of being a writer as a child that someday I could put my thoughts out, worldwide, with a few clicks of a keyboard!

He allowed us to find Shepherds College, a wonderful special needs school, where our beloved son is now getting his education in horticulture.

And He allowed Noel and me to rediscover why we married each other almost 25 years ago.

Our trip back from Wisconsin was a dream! We spent three nights more in Racine after we left our son on his campus nearby, visiting Chicago by train during the day. We then drove to Philadelphia and spent three days there.

See our Liberty Bell shot, with me in (almost) breast cancer pink?

I thank God for giving me a godly, loving husband who shares my interest in art and history. The last three cities we have explored (Milwaukee last year, now Chicago and Philly), we have started with the art museum and worked our way outward. It is how we used to explore Europe, back in the day!

Oh, we have such fun!

Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a survivor! Lord, You are so good!

Congratulations to all survivors everywhere, especially Marci, Kathy, Barbie, Jodi and Jody, and Brenda (both of you)!


What is a Vapid Narcissist?

26 Sep

What is a Vapid Narcissist?

I have been dialoging with a precious friend who is doing this year what I did last year–losing 100 pounds.

She wrote something fascinating in her blog this week, something timely that gave me pause to think.

She has been focusing on the idolatrous affair our society can have with food. And, looking ahead to when she has finished her weight loss, she asks, “What next?”

She wisely does not want to switch from one idolatry to another, so she wants to avoid switching her worship from food to clothes or makeup or just the satisfaction of seeing a small body in the mirror.

She used the phrase “vapid narcissist” to describe what she most of all does not wish to become.

That phrase both startled me and pleased me. It was both expected and unexpected at the same time.

You see, when you grow up in certain sectors of our society, that is the first thing you think of when you think of having a small, visually lovely body: “How many ways can I misuse my newfound freedom from obesity?”

And, while I agree with John Calvin when he said that the human heart is an idol factory, I have come to the point where my greatest fear is no longer how I will misuse my thinness. My greatest fear is misrepresenting God’s grace in all of this. And I struggle with that constantly because there is so much I don’t know, both about God and about this world He has made and how His principles interact with it.

Lately I cling to the verse that says He has freely given us all things to enjoy. In fact, if He leaves something open in His Word and does not address it one way or the other, I have been consciously trying to not argue from silence. If He does not forbid someone from doing something, neither do I. I leave that as a matter for each man’s conscience. It is not as easy to do as it sounds.

For example, the enclosed link would sum up about everything I believe about narcissism (a secular term, thus a secular article).

I don’t believe anymore (as I did while I was being raised by one of the most frugal mothers on earth) that owning and wearing pretty clothes automatically indicates that someone is vain.

With God, it is so much more complicated than that, since God looks on the heart. Some of us can be totally given over to nice clothes (or nice makeup or nice jewelry) to the point we don’t even see Him or His work in our lives. Yet someone else can have just as many nice things to put on, yet without the slightest tint of idolatry.

Vapidness means emptiness. Narcissism means putting myself at the center of everything as though other human beings were mere things to operate for my convenience.

So what is it when a group of ladies, out with their husbands, converges on the ladies’ room for giggling conversations, while adjusting their lovely dresses over their trim figures? Is it empty and selfish when they emerge from that ladies’ room and bask in the appreciative looks of their own husbands?

Ya know, I don’t think it is.

If I am dressed up and fellowshipping with my similarly dressed up girlfriends, then enjoying the healthy appreciation of my husband’s eyes, that may very well be one way of seeing how God has richly given me all things to enjoy.

Narcissists separate themselves from others, feeling special. If I am giggling with my girlfriends, enjoying how lovely we all look, then that is not narcissism.

If I am flirting with the husband God has given me, that is not emptiness.

I only point this out because we can tend to act as though God is the big spoilsport in the sky. We can unconsciously kill every buzz life gives us, lest God see us having a good time and move in to squash us like a bug. Only, that would not be a loving God. That would be a monster.

Oh, yes, we certainly need to avoid becoming a vapid narcissist when we lose weight, or at any other time. But we need to make sure we define the term accurately, too.

For some of us who have been raised with values that tend toward Puritanism, those definitions can make all the difference.

Not to discredit the accomplishments of the Puritans, but no age was a golden age.

In every age, the idea is to walk closely with the Lord and feel His pleasure in our relationship with Him.

The Father really is as good as Jesus said He is!!!

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