Monthly Archives: April 2015

Coming down the mountain

This week I (Liv) wanted to take a little time to share my own personal relationship/struggle with food. You’ve read a lot about Andy and how our lives have changed post Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, but Andy wasn’t the only one with food issues prior to Spring 2011. Here’s a little bit of my story:

Did you know that walking downhill is actually harder and more physically taxing on your body than walking up hill? It seems counter intuitive, but it’s true. It’s certainly that way in the dieting world. It’s very easy to eat yourself up that food mountain, but the descent is always a rude awakening—at least it is for me.

The first holiday season after Andy’s Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis was difficult. While we were definitely eating better than the previous year, by the time we hit Andy’s birthday in mid-February, we’d hit full stride up that sugar/carb mountain. At the end of a long birthday weekend—where we essentially ate out every single meal—Andy and I decided that we needed a major food break.

And so began the descent. Our bodies were so overwhelmed with the food we’d been eating that the first couple of days were a relief. We were eating our standard diet of lots of lean protein, veggies, and fruit. It was refreshing! Then our bodies started detoxing. We weren’t detoxing intentionally, but when you stop eating processed food all those toxins eventually start leaching out—and that’s when my cravings hit. The kind of sweet cravings that can’t be satisfied by an apple or some pineapple.

I’ll be straight up, Andy is much better at this food self-control thing than I am. I caved more than once on the journey from his birthday to mine (exactly six weeks later). Most women’s food issues are much more deeply rooted than men’s and I shamefully used that as my excuse. I wanted candy, so I had candy. Not to the extent that I was eating it before, but enough that my climb off the sugar mountain had a lot more hills and valleys than Andy’s. Slowly–finally–my metabolism, blood sugar, and willpower returned to pre-holiday levels.

Lifestyle changes are difficult (no one ever said they were easy), but in those six weeks I found that I didn’t need a “night off” in the kitchen at least once a week. Eating out wasn’t cutting it anymore. Andy’s diagnosis had changed more than him– it changed us, and me.

April 10th: Weekly meal plan

Thanks to an abundant Easter brunch (we hosted Andy’s family and I made a little extra) we actually ate leftovers for dinner three times this week! That means I get to carry over a couple of last week’s meals into this week. You’ll notice the grocery list is a wee bit shorter, and that’s because we’ve got the ingredients for the pho and the chorizo rice bowl in the fridge waiting to be consumed.

Have a great week!

– Chorizo rice bowl
– Enchilada cabbage casserole
– Chicken pho
– Chicken ragu over herbed cauli-rice
– Broccoli egg casserole with salad
– Flat bread pizza with salad
– Hodge podge!

In his words: Staying motivated

My walking route has stayed pretty much the same since Spring 2011. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with wide streets, hardly any traffic (especially in the early mornings when I start my day), and it’s overall a very safe place for me to walk. The only downside is that it’s expensive, so we don’t live *in* the neighborhood, but it’s a mile from our front door so it’s easy enough to get to.

My routine has evolved a bit since the VERY first time, but it’s generally the same. Which means that on most days I walk past the same houses about every 12 hours.

So after a while, people notice you. And after that, sometimes they wave from their cars or their kitchen windows. After that, they start saying hi, introducing themselves, and even talking to you regularly.

So all of this back story gets us to my point regarding my motivation:

The other day on my after work/before dinner walk, an older couple walked past me, introduced themselves, and mentioned that they see me day in and day out walking past their house and wanted to know what keeps me motivated.

Now as an extrovert who has completely fallen in love with exercising, being healthy, and feeling good, I could probably have talked about the variety of reasons that the residents of the West Slope/Valley View neighborhood see me so much, but the most immediate and easily understandable reason that I gave them was that I used to be very overweight and a Type 2 diabetic and now I am not and I feel better than I ever did before and that I want to stay that way. We chatted for a few minutes and then I headed home.

Here are just a few of the reasons I still walk 3.5 miles twice a day (getting up at 4:15 AM every morning and heading out for a walk right when I get home from work), even when it’s wet or cold or below freezing or I am tired in the morning:

  • I have more energy overall.
  • I am virtually unrecognizable to people who haven’t seen me in over 4 or 5 years. This can be a good things sometimes.
  • I like being small. I’m only 5’8″ and generally weigh in around 155 lbs. Call it whatever you like, but I like being able to wear a size 30 waist in shorts and pants and a size small in shirts and jackets. For the first time in my life, I actually like how clothes look on my body.
  • For the first time in my life, I am actually at peace with my body and like it. Growing up, I was always heavy and had very low self esteem and poor body image. Sometimes I still struggle with it, but each day is easier.
  • I haven’t flown in an airplane in 4 years, but the last time I was on a plane, I fit in the seat more than comfortably and that was great.
  • Sex is better.
  • On the weekends, I like being up very early (before the sun rises) and drinking my coffee and eating breakfast after my walk before Liv gets up for the day.
  • It wakes me up in the morning and gets me set in the right frame of mind for the day and then helps me decompress and relax at the end of the work day. Lots of time to think, problem solve, reconcile the day that I have had, and to pray – which I need to do more than I am currently doing during this time.
  • I love watching the change of seasons each and every morning and each every evening. Especially in the late spring/early summer when the weather is nicer and the days are longer.

But one of the biggest things that really motivates me is something from the very first morning walk that I ever did.

When I first started walking after work I noticed that my blood sugar numbers were coming down, and as they did, my weight started to drop as well. I had been heavy my entire life and had always wanted to lose weight and be thin/athletic/skinny. I also knew from a young age that I would probably be bald at some point. I told myself that I could be bald or I could be fat, but I wouldn’t let myself be both at the same time and that I had little control over being bald. I also figured this was probably the best time to make that change in life. I had exercised and dieted in the past, but as most people often do, I gave up before results ever started to take hold and I didn’t really understand the basic principles of how to make those changes to my life in a long term fashion.

After a few weeks of better and better blood sugar numbers and modest weight loss, I decided that if I was going to get serious about losing weight, I should probably try walking twice a day. And that meant getting up extra early. 5:30 AM to be exact. A time of day that exists for very few people in life. And a time that up until June 22nd, 2011, only existed for me on rare, rare, rare occasions. And usually unwillingly.

Well, I did it. And it changed my life. See, June 22nd, 2011, was the second day of summer that year. And it was GLORIOUS. It was 60 degrees,  the sun was up, the birds were chirping, and it was just delightful. The neighborhood that I walk in is on top of a hill with lots of ups and downs and beautiful views of the valley below. With the sun reflecting off of windows in the distance and the warm (relatively speaking) weather, I was sold. That was it for me. The sun coming up on a warm summer morning is what keeps me going day after day. I get up a little earlier now than I did that first summer, but I go for an extra lap or 2 on summer weekend mornings so that I can watch that sunrise.

Sure, it’s great being skinny and fit, I won’t lie. I love being able to fit in to clothes that would have been snug on me when I was a fat little 12 year old (YES, I own 3 pieces of clothing that are technically from the children’s section, but you’d never know it at first glance).

I love being able to walk past someone who I haven’t seen in a long time and watching them try to guess who I am when I start talking to them. I love feeling better physically than I did for as long as I can remember. I love knowing that I can walk faster than a Target or Fred Meyer store automatic door opening sensor can detect me (true story – yes, I ran in to a door once…). I love the lifestyle change that my wife and I made and the things that those changes have brought.

But those early morning sunrises on my walks in the summertime? That’s what keeps me going day in and day out, even when the weather is nasty. The knowledge that it will be summer again.

Check out this blog post to see how I initially found my walk.

Recipe: Andy’s chili

I (Liv) originally started making this chili for Andy 4 years ago for his lunch. One batch would typically last a week. After a few months, Andy took over making this and adjusted the spice level a little more to his taste. These days a batch of chili lasts about a month (he freezes each weekly portion and thaws it out each Friday for the following week). This combined with roasted cabbage and steamed broccoli gives him the perfect amount of fat, fiber, and protein to get him through his day.

Chili base:
1 TBL olive oil
2 onions, chopped (yellow or red–whatever you like)
20 oz lean, ground turkey

Spice blend:
4-5 TBL chile powder
3-4 TBL cumin
TBL red pepper flakes
TBL oregano
TBL chipotle powder*

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of (14.5 oz)black beans, rinsed
2 bell peppers, chopped (red, yellow, or green–whatever you like)
1 package of frozen stir fry veggies (onions and peppers)
2 cans water

Heat your pan or pot over medium-high. Add olive oil, pinch of salt, and onion. Cook onion until translucent. Add turkey and another pinch of salt.

Brown the turkey, then add all the spices to the meat. I like to combine all the spices in one cup and sprinkle them around so it distributes evenly.

After the meat is thoroughly coated with the seasoning, add the  tomatoes and 2 cans of water. Stir, then add the beans and chopped pepper. Stir again and allow to cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for an hour and a half to two hours, stirring regularly so the bottom doesn’t scorch. You want as much water to cook off as possible without the chili becoming paste-like.

*This amount of chipotle makes for a very spicy chili–too spicy for Liv. If you have a more sensitive palate, you may want to scale back significantly.

How I eat: Andy

Okay, technically, Andy isn’t writing this, but the information about what he eats came directly from his own mouth so it’s almost the same thing.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you will have noticed that our weekly meal plans only cover dinners for the week. There are a couple reasons for this. 1) Andy has eaten basically the same breakfast and lunch every day for the last 4 years. 2) My relationship with food is a bit more complicated. We’ll get into how I eat during the day next week, but here’s a look at what Andy eats day-to-day.

Breakfast: Apple, banana, avocado, 2 cups of coffee with coconut milk.

Lunch: Roasted cabbage, steamed broccoli, 2 eggs*, chili.

Andy is one of those rare creatures that can eat the same thing day in and day out, which makes meal planning and building the grocery list super easy. It also makes weight management/maintenance fairly straightforward as dinner is the only wildcard is dinner.

While I don’t expect everyone to follow Andy’s daily eating regimen (goodness knows I certainly couldn’t!), I can certainly see the appeal and it does make aspects of my life fairly easy.

Stay tuned later this week for Andy’s chili recipe!

* Andy’s eggs are actually a frittata-like mixture of eggs and peppers. We’ll post the recipe soon!

 

April 3rd: Weekly meal plan

With Easter this weekend (we’re hosting Andy’s entire family–all 20 of them!), I wanted to keep our meal plan pretty simple. You’ll see quite a few repeats from last week.

He has risen indeed!

– Brussels sprouts gratin
– “Texy Mexy” skillet
– Beef enchilada cabbage casserole
– Chorizo rice bowl
– Chicken pho (with zoodles!)
– Fried eggs with roasted veggies and salad
– Hodge Podge!

A bit of a backslide

There were times that first year when Andy and I would convince ourselves that we really could eat the way we used to and be just fine. One Saturday in particular, after a long day of excursioning (in and around town), I was tired. The last thing I wanted to do after a full day of errands was make a healthy dinner. As we headed home I had a brilliant idea! Andy had mentioned how he had a hankering for sandwiches, and I thought that would be an awesome dinner idea—if we kept it on the healthier side.

I pitched the idea and he was all in. We stopped at the store to grab some fixins’: a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread (like I said, we were trying to be healthy), some deli lunch meat, a tomato, and a bag of salt and vinegar Kettle Chips. (Okay, we weren’t trying to be *that* healthy.) We had pickles, cheese, avocado, and mayo at home already.

I’m not going to lie, it was the most amazing dinner I’d had in a long while. It had been so long, I’d almost forgotten what a perfect little package a sandwich is. And the salt and vinegar chips were scrumptious. We both had a sandwich (or two) and polished off the bag of chips in one sitting.

We had done our best to be as healthy as possible. The bread we chose had plenty of fiber, protein, and the smallest number of carbs we could find. The sandwiches were topped with lean protein, just a bit of cheese, and some nice veggies. We’d really gotten into the habit of lots of lean protein and veggies, and we honestly thought we’d be fine.

An hour after dinner we both had a headache.

The next day was even worse. I’ll be the first to admit that I suffer from a bit of the “hangries”. I’ll get into my own personal blood sugar issues at a later point, but they can be pretty awful. Ask Andy. He’ll tell you. Even so, it’s unusual for me to wake up with low blood sugar, eat breakfast and still have low blood sugar, and then eat a snack to see if that will help and still have low blood sugar. And then have lunch. And another snack—all good combinations of fruit, nuts, healthy carbs and lean proteins—and still have low blood sugar. Now, I wasn’t a raging maniac, just low-level cranky, but 8 hours of feeling low-level cranky sucks the fun out of a lazy Sunday.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I reminded myself of the delicious dinner I’d had the night before. Chock full of whole grains, and heavily processed white potatoes.

The truth of the matter is, our new lifestyle required sacrifice. But is it really a sacrifice to eat healthier and feel better? Every now and then we still get a hankering for a taste of our old life. We just have to remind ourselves that it’s not worth a headache, the hangries, or the digestive issues (not to mention the temporary, or not, weight gain). At this point I’ll take an apple with some cheese over a sandwich any day. And I know Andy would agree.