Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Grateful and Thankful

There's quite a bit in The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, about being grateful and thankful.These words are often used interchangeably, so, it made me wonder, what are the true definitions of both?  To get the answers, I turned to trusty Google and searched.   I was somewhat surprised to see a long list of hits approaching this question.  I read through a few of them (and some directly contradicted others) and quickly realized that a) I did not really have an original thought here (LOL), and b) I guess I'll just pick the one I like the best (read:  that is the easiest to understand) and run with it.

So, here goes.  Gratefulness is a state of being and thankfulness is an active expression (either in words or actions) of gratitude (as an aside, you'll frequently  find the word "praise" quickly following on the heels of the word "thankful" in the Bible).  I don't believe one can be truly thankful without first feeling grateful. Note that I said "be truly grateful"; this isn't to say that people don't have the tendency to mutter "thanks" with no real emotion behind the words; sort of like when we ask people "How are you?" and walk away before they have the chance to tell us how they are.

Anyway, what's brought this topic about of course is that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the US of A.  Hopefully most of us don't save one day of the year to reflect on gratitude and to give thanks; however, it is an opportune time to stop and perhaps give this more thought than usual. When I was in elementary school, my teacher had us make cloth books filled with pages of what we were thankful for (I'm pretty certain we wouldn't have comprehended the difference between thankful and grateful at that age so she just went with thankful).  
Thank you, Mom, for keeping this.  I am grateful ;-)

So in essence, what we in our little kid brains could both feel (gratitude) for and then express it.  As a guide, she had us use the letters of the alphabet.  I always chuckle when I come across and re-read this book because I was a terribly silly child.  Case in point:

My first "selfie"
A "two-fer"!
Actually that's three words, Amy

However, I did have a few sweet ones, too:

 Still am!  Oh, Buda was our cat and Bert was my Father's parrot.  I don't know if I was really thankful for Bert; he was sort of mean!
Even at that age, always PC!  Seriously, I was and I am

Beginning in 2012, I started to keep  track of my "gratefuls".  Every morning, I jot down at least one thing from the previous day that I feel gratitude for. I express it, offer thanks, by writing it down in my little book and then reflecting on this in my prayer time by offering praise.   As simple as it is, doing this helps to keep me focused on what is good in this world and in my life while it also serves to diminish those things that I either I fret or worry about, or those that make me feel unpleasant emotions.  I have all of these little books near to hand, and routinely open them up and explore them.  I find this particularly helpful on certain days when I'm struggling to come up with something (yes, it does happen).  I go back to that date the year before, or the year before that, and find myself experiencing gratitude for something that occurred a long time ago.  This often brings to mind something I'm grateful for that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.  So, I become grateful for my gratefuls!

Here are a few from this past year:
  • A good Stephen Leader meeting
  • Walking with Hesed and talking with neighbors
  • A wonderful trip to Selby Gardens with my Mom and Mom B
  • A long bike ride
  • Hesed rang her potty bells
  • A good message at church
  • I survived the dentist
  • Safely home from our trip
  • A quiet day; took a cat nap with Pete
  • Father's surgery went well
You get the point; some days I have some fairly significant things to be grateful for; other times, I am just happy for down time, or the ability to exercise.  Even in the midst of some pretty ca-ca times, I always look for something to write down in my book.  For example, when I was involved in a car accident in October, I wrote down:
  • I'm ok, she's ok
  • The kindness of the people offering to help
  • Opportunity to trust (God)
  • Mark
I'll wrap this up with a prayer I wrote for Thanksgiving a few years ago.  

Holy God, for bringing us together this day, we thank you.  For our family and friends not with us today, we thank you.  For seeing us through trying times, we thank you.  For smiles and laughter, we thank you.  For warm weather and sunny skies, we thank you.  For the food before us, we thank you.  For you constant and steadfast love, we thank you.  How precious O Lord is your constant love.  We find protection under the shadow of your wings.  We feast on the abundant food you provide; you let us drink from your river of goodness.  You are the source of all life, and because of your light, we see the light.  This is the day that you have made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Amen and Amen!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Mrs. B

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Whole 30: Non-Scale Victories

If you've been reading my Blog and Facebook posts, and if you've ever read anything about The Whole 30 elsewhere, you know by now that embarking on a Whole 30 is not a diet in the sense of "Let's lose some weight".  Although the founders of The Whole 30  acknowledge that the vast majority of people do lose weight, they stress over and over and over again that one should ditch the scale during the 30 days (in fact they suggest hiding it!) and to seriously consider disregarding it as something that doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot after the 30 days.  This is why, upon completion of a Whole 30, you are encouraged to focus on what they refer to as "non-scale victories"; improvements in a variety of areas including physical (both outside and inside), moods and emotions, brain function, sleep patterns, exercise and lifestyle.  As you can see from the pictures below, the lists are fairly exhaustive!

Mr. B and I sat down last night (while sipping on our celebratory Champagne) 

and went over these lists so we could ascertain our own non-scale victories.  As we perused each item, it was obvious many simply did not apply to one or both of us; case in point under Physical (Inside):  "Fewer PMS Symptoms" certainly isn't something Mr. B would expect any improvement in, and as for me, that ship left the harbor a long time ago.  And in all honesty, when I first looked at the list, I was fixated more on the ones that didn't seem to apply than those that did.  However, just now I went through them again and made a mark next to the ones I felt reasonably applied to one of us or even both, and was surprised when I tallied them up to see it was about 40% of the total list.

Here, then, is a representative sample (note:  sample; some are just TMI!) of our non-scale victories:

Physical (Outside)
  • Leaner appearance
  • Rings fit better
  • More defined muscle tone
Physical (Inside)
  • Less shoulder/back/knee pain
Mood, Emotion and Psychology
  • You're happier
  • Fewer cravings (after that bizarre third week, LOL!)
Brain Function
  • Clearer thinking
  • You fall asleep more easily
  • Fewer night cramps
  • Energy levels are higher
  • You need less sugar or caffeine to prop up energy levels
Sports, Exercise and play
  • You're outside more
Food and behaviors
  • Learned how to read a label (scary, scary stuff in some of our foods!)
  • No longer afraid of dietary fat
  • Listening to your body
Lifestyle and social
  • New recipies
  • People come to you for health, food, or lifestyle advice

My Father asked me probably the best question of all:

"Do you feel better?"

Answer.  Yes.  Definitely yes.  Moreover, I also believe this is a sustainable way of eating, much like when Mr. B and I went low-carb two years ago.  We can now more of less stick with Whole 30 eating habits, while allowing back in those foods/food groups that don't cause us any issues.  Our first foray, as mentioned previously, was alcohol.  As far as I can tell, there were no ill-effects (it did make my a little sleepy but then again, it was also 9:00 when we had our Champagne).  Next up is legumes, then non-gluten grains, followed by dairy and then items containing gluten.  There is no specific reintroduction for "no added sugar", or artificial anything, and I guess it's because generally speaking, they are to be avoided as much as possible without being ridiculous about it.  I have to ask myself why I'd even want to eat stuff with artificial anything in it (I discovered that some artificially flavored coffees have the same chemical as what is in antifreeze).  As for added sugar, that might be a once in awhile indulgence because, well, one must still eat dessert from time to time!

As for the question I've been asked more than any other while on The Whole 30:  Have you lost/did you lose weight?
Mark and I weighed ourselves the morning of Day 1 and did not step on the scale again until yesterday morning.  I was on the fence as to whether I'd weigh myself because I knew it was much more important to focus on the non-scale victories.
In the end, however, I was just plain curious.  Mark lost seven pounds and I lost six.   

Oh Whole 30, you've been an experience!  I'm betting we'll probably meet again sometime in the future, like after our October cruise!

Mrs. B

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Whole30 Day 27: All I Can Think About is Wine

Total honesty here.  Aside from the several days a week or so ago when I was feeling downright grouchy, this Whole30 experience hasn't been bad at all.  I've been lucky, of course, that my husband not only signed up for this journey with me (albeit a tad grudgingly at first), he's jumped right into the spirit of, well, "the whole" thing.  As I speak, he's busily preparing yet another breakfast recipe that is Whole30 compliant.  Seriously!  Not only is he making it, he went on-line to purchase the odd-ball ingredients that are virtually impossible to find in a normal grocery store.  Can you say "he's awesome"?  He is.  This one is some sort of compliant "cereal" with apples and date syrup.  A few mornings ago, he made a phenomenal breakfast casserole with sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onions, an entire package of bacon (which he drove to Whole Foods to acquire) and eggs. You might be thinking, "Yuck!"; let me tell you, it was anything but.

So, yeah.  We've experienced a lot of new recipes, figured out how to modify many of our tried and true ones, and spent a lot of time together these past days talking about food, shopping, and hanging out in the kitchen together.  We've brought our parents along for the ride and I haven't heard any of them complaining about the fare we've served them. We do not know for sure if we've lost any weight (weighing is not allowed until Day 31 (which is "The End")), yet, I can see Mr. B's lost weight by looking at his face and I know that it's very likely I've shed some myself.  

We've established new rituals to replace our 6:00 cocktail hour and sipping on wine while watching Game of Thrones. Now, we walk Hesed a bit after 6:00, then come home and prepare our dinner. If we watch a movie or a TV show, tea is our "treat".  You may have picked up on a little of my waning enthusiasm on this point.  I MISS MY WINE.

I've said it before, I'll say it again.  For anyone who drinks on a routine basis (more than occasionally), I think it's a great idea to, every once in awhile, forgo it.   Frankly, this probably isn't a bad thing to do for anything we may wonder if we have an addiction to.  Who wants to spend their life with happiness, satisfaction, joy or (fill in the blank with your own desired state of being) dependent on a substance?  Ok, I'm not judging those who have bona fide addictions here; I'm talking about the majority of us who think we cannot go without something, but, we really can.

Off soapbox.

So, yeah.  I'll be glad when I can drink my vino.  Vino with dinner, some good vino shared while having a long conversation with my Mom or my friend Syb, enjoying a special bottle of Zin with Mark, sipping on wine while playing cards with Mom B.  Not to mention, I will have two months worth of wine club wine waiting for me at Cheers to Wine!

Four.  More.  Nights.

Other than my bizarre cravings for ice cream and donuts last week, I've been lucky in that I've not experienced an urge for something I routinely ate but had to give up.  However, yesterday I was fumbling in my purse pocket for my phone, which seemed to be really crammed down in there more than usual.  I finally got it yanked out, and along with it came a myriad of purse lint:  hair ties, five thousand ball point pens, a crumpled tissues (I hope it was clean), and a lone miniature size bar of Hershey's Special Dark.  I stared at it, while images of Richard from the movie "Somewhere in Time" gazing in horror at a penny he'd pulled from his pocket ran through my mind. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll have to check out the movie.

For those who don't know, I could exist on:  Red Wine, Cheez-Its, and Dark Chocolate.  I saw images of myself unwrapping the chocolate and gobbling it down, looking guiltily about me to see if anyone had seen me.  

Thankfully it came out of the purse wrapped, otherwise, all bets may have been off; the few seconds it took me to consider unwrapping it were enough to bring me to my senses.  Back to Day 1 for a tiny piece of stale and partially melted chocolate?  Nah.  Sorry, Richard. I had a choice, you didn't (but, seriously; how did you manage to get back in time with a 1970 penny in your pocket?  Script-flaw).

Four more days (and nights) to go and we'll be in Reintroduction Mode.  This is when we'll need to be brutally honest with ourselves: Does anything we add back cause us to not feel so great?

More to come!

Mrs. B

The cereal, along with apples and date syrup, is yummy! Sorta like Cream of White minus the wheat and the cream.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Whole30 Day 22: TIGER BLOOD!!!!!

Finally, finally, finally!

And I'll I'm gonna say right now is...


Mrs. B

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Whole30 Day 19: This Really Blows AKA Where's MY Awesome?

I'm smack in the middle of hating this program.  What makes it even more irritating?  This is what is supposed to happen around Day 21 (I'm an early bloomer, apparently).  According to the book:

Day 21 (Interlude)
You've solidly settled into week three of the program, but despite the benefits you're seeing, you went to bed last night dreading breakfast. You weren't much excited about it this morning, either.  Come to think of it, you're so un-thrilled with any of your meal options right now that if Iron Chef Bobby Flay were to waltz into your kitchen and ask you what you wanted to eat, you'd probably just say, "Ugh."

It goes on to say, in essence, that the primary culprit right now is food boredom; and the advice is to "Rekindle your appetite and your enthusiasm for the program by making something new..."

Frankly, I just want to smack her!

Food ennui aside, what is supposed to be primarily going on during Days 16-27 is called Tiger Blood; and, I quote, "...someone flipped a switch a turned on the awesome."  My energy is supposed to be "through the roof" with little cravings and I'm supposed to feel "unstoppable"  Of course, there are all the usual disclaimers; everyone's different, blah blah blah.  Don't worry if you're not there yet, etc. etc. etc.

I realize I could be experiencing emotional fall-out at this point in time from the recent experience with Hurricane Irma, and that The Whole30 Program has nothing to do with it. Somewhere in the back of my brain, I know I need to just push on past this stage as there is less than two weeks to go now.  I really DO want to know if there has been something I've been eating that hasn't been doing me any favors. Mostly, I don't want to have gone through these 19 days for nothing.  So, I'll soldier on.

Mark and I HAVE been eating some tasty dinners and breakfasts haven't been bad (but I am kinda-sorta getting burned out on eggs and have recently been craving apple cider cake donuts).

Mark smoked a port butt covered with a plan-approved Southern succor (basically all the spices and no sugar) and he made a vinegar based BBQ sauce to go with it.  The result was just phenomenal.

We were able to make a favorite recipe of ours; pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic and chorizo, and we've also had unstuffed cabbage soup, Cajun shrimp over "grits" (mashed cauliflower with garlic), and several other decent entrees. We have many things planned to get us through the next two weeks.  I pity the person on this program who does not like cauliflower or sweet potatoes.

No dinner isn't the problem, nor is breakfast; it's the noon time meal that's given me trouble.  I'm usually too full from breakfast to eat much more than some fruit and nuts; maybe a hard-boiled egg. Not to mention, I'm typically running around doing errands this time of day so I'm not at home to eat.  Trying to eat guacamole and carrot sticks, or a wrap of turkey lunch meat and fruit, etc. etc., while driving is difficult. I tried one of the plan-approved Larabars; in a word, gross (although I've been assured these begin to taste better the farther south you get from your sugar-addiction and that some flavors are a lot tastier than others).

Thankfully I have STRONG will power so I'll get through this. I do know that when it's all over, I'll definitely be making adjustments to the program that better fit my lifestyle.  

In the meantime, I'll keep hoping for that awesomeness.

Mrs. B

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Whole30 Day 15: Blame it on the Hurricane!

As I posted on Facebook Saturday night, "We interrupt this Whole30 for wine".  Yes, the anxiety and stress due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma drove us to drink wine over the weekend. Technically, this calls for a re-set and beginning again at Day 1.  We say "pooh" to this, however; especially since we've kept all other restrictions faithfully and we will refrain from drinking again until Day 31 (which will now be extended by the number of days we drank).  This will be our punishment!

So, the drinking aside, how are we feeling?  Fairly decent, all things considered.  And, I'm not just saying this because I don't want to give up wine forever but, adding the wine back in this weekend didn't seem to cause any issues for either one of us; rather, it certainly did a world of good by cutting the tension.  Still, I'm good with giving it up again for another fifteen plus days.

In all honesty, I'm not sure which way is up right now.  I'm discombobulated due to the craziness of this past week. However, right before it got totally nuts, Mark said to me he didn't see why we couldn't continue to eat this way for the most part from now on.  He's probably right.  I'm not really craving anything in particular from our "old way of eating", and in fact was overjoyed to have roasted potatoes the other night (it's probably been three years since we've made regular potatoes at home!)

I am, though, experiencing cravings for things I wasn't even eating before we began; namely, Baskin Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge and Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  Go figure!

Mrs. B

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Whole30 Day 8: One Week In!

Yeah, yeah; I've skipped blogging for several days.  Sorry!  Life has been quite busy with a variety of non-Whole30 activities going on.  Plus, The Whole30 itself continues to keep me occupied with planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and eating!

So, here we are in the morning of Day 8.  An entire week has gone by since we began.  I'm betting many of you are curious as to how we're doing, thinking, feeling; about all of this craziness.  1.  Can we see any results yet?  2.  Are we more energetic?  3.  Have we spent our entire life savings on ghee?  4.  Are we still eating eggs and avocado?  5.  Have we slipped up and gone off-plan?  6.  Is this really worth it?

Answers:  1.  Mark says he can see a change in my body; I don't see it.  I do, however, see his face thinning out.  

2.  Short answer is no.  We have not yet hit the "tiger blood" phase whereby we are (supposedly) going to feel like, well, Tony the Tiger:  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT. Mark had a headache pretty much all week.  I was extremely irritable and grouchy on Day 4. Neither one of us are sleeping well.  Why?  I'm not sure why but they suggest if you are waking up in the middle of the night you may need to eat a portion of protein about an hour before you go to bed.  There is some scientific rational behind this; all I can think is, "MORE FOOD?  UGH!" Seriously, eating a hard boiled egg or some salmon or tuna or whatever at 9:00 at night DOES NOT APPEAL. But, it's either this, or give up the coffee.  Yes, apparently coffee consumed in the morning can still cause disruption in sleep patterns in some people at night.  Why was this never an issue before The Whole30?  Well, in all honesty, it was; it's just that since we usually had a few drinks in the evening, we fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep longer but eventually we'd both wake up and do the whole barely sleeping on the surface thing.  I have to admit, if I'm going to be waking up in the middle of the night, I'd just assume have had my glass of wine. But, that'll be an issue for Day 31. Ok, that was a long, not short, answer for #2!

3.  I cannot believe how expensive this ghee stuff is!  I have a few friends who have told me it's cheaper at Indian places or Trader Joe's; unfortunately, we don't have either of these places close enough to make the drive worth it.  We do have a Trader Joe's in Sarasota but that place is a total madhouse.  I found some ghee on-line that wasn't too terribly expensive, all things considered.  Mark says he can make it (all it is is clarified butter) but he really doesn't have the time and no one wants to trust me with this culinary feat.  Other than the ghee, however, I'm pleased to report that we are actually spending less money at the grocery.  I shop the perimeter of the store to get produce and meat and eggs.  I only venture into the center of the store for approved canned goods, toiletries, or pet supplies. Obviously we are saving money on not purchasing beer or wine.  

4.  Yes.  In fact, I am eating eggs, spinach, mushrooms, avocado (cooked in GHEE) this very moment.  Never underestimate the power and versatility of eggs and avocado.  In fact, you can even make avocado deviled eggs!  No, I'm not really sick of them YET, but, ask me on Day 17.

5.  No, with the only exception being we did have a tiny piece each of gluten-free cracker yesterday when we took communion at church.  We debated; we seriously did.  But in the end, Jesus trumps Whole30.  At least we went for the gluten-free cracker and not the yummy King's Hawaiian bread option.  Note:  The program rules do allow for communion.

6.  Honestly, I don't know yet how it'll pan out for us physically and if we'll discover that "something" has been bothering us/making us feel ill.  Obviously if we do, then heck yes it will have been worth it.  If we eventually start sleeping better, having more energy, start glowing; well, duh; yes, it will have been worth it.  It's just too soon to say on that front. What HAS been worth it so far is we've been spending time together preparing meals and that's been fun. We're also in the "We're in this together!" mode; which is bonding.  And, we both agree that, if a person drinks alcohol on a routine basis, it's a good idea to occasionally take a fast from it to ensure there are no "issues" there, if you know what I mean.  Yes, we miss our evening cocktails, or a beer after a long day's work outside, or, a celebratory drink after a big event.  I'm happy to report that neither one of us are climbing the walls or seeing purple dragons.  

Most of the meals we've prepared (out of The Whole30 book) have been quite tasty.  My favorites up to this point have been the Grilled Coconut-Curry Chicken with Cauliflower Rice and the Roasted Beet Salad with Grapefruit-Thyme Vinaigrette.  Last night we had Chicken Primavera over Spaghetti Squash which was also quite good (although it took me almost all afternoon to prepare).  We're about ready to tackle modifying some of our favorite pre-Whole30 recipes to make them plan compliant.  Frankly, this may be easier (and less time consuming) than making brand new recipes every day.

No more pictures of food on htis blog, however; it's too time consuming (you'll have to follow me on Facebook to see these!)

So, overall, we're doing ok enough to keep on going.  Frankly, neither one of us are quitters, anyway; so, there'd have to be some significant reason why we'd not continue.  I can't think of any, so....stay tuned for more of my adventures with ghee.

Mrs. B