Category Archives: Dieting

Battling the baby bulge (excerpt)

I’m getting close to finishing my first round of edits on my WineCountryMom eBook.  It’s been kind of cool to read through those old entries and see where we’ve traveled from – all the things I struggled through and overcame, and how much the kids have grown since then.  It’s also pretty eye-opening to see the things I struggled with then – and still struggle with now.

Weight issues being one of them.

Granted, I’m not fat.  I’d like to get a little slimmer and a bit more firm, of course.  But we’re only talking 15 pounds, not 150 pounds.  However, I think weight will always be my issue, whether I’m big or small.

The one thing I’ve discovered differently over the years, though, is how important it is to love yourself no matter what size you are.  Our bodies are just our shells.  Whether we’re fat or thin, who we are on the inside doesn’t change.  You can lose all that weight on the outside, and still be that fat girl on the inside.  If you can’t love yourself with a few extra pounds, you won’t magically love yourself when they’re gone.

I’m working on my next article for the newspaper, and think I’ll touch on this. But for now, here’s an excerpted peek into retro WineCountryMom, and one of the chapters of the upcoming blog eBook.


babybulgeI’ve been fighting the baby bulge. No, not the kind that you have when you are newly pregnant and possess a cute little bump that later turns into an adorable basketball on your tiny frame (uh, yeah, unless you’re me and even your ankles get a baby bump). I’m talking about the baby bulge you battle once the baby is already out. To be fair, I did just have a baby (eight years ago), so I can’t claim a Heidi Klum body anymore (stop laughing). But for the past year I have been trying different diets and exercises to lose the weight once and for all. And in one year I have lost (drumroll please)…..

Ten pounds.

Yes, that’s right. Only ten pounds. And do you know why? Because of yo-yo dieting. It’s getting ridiculous. I have pretty much lost and gained the same ten pounds more times that I can keep track of…

End of excerpt. Read the rest in the eBook “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows“.


Oh, fat baby.

How did I do it before – the effortless way I lost weight before the wedding, when I actually said out loud that I needed to figure out how to stop the weight loss so that my dress didn’t fall off?

How arrogant of me.

The official tally of weight gained since the day I left for the honeymoon is in. Are you ready for this? 7 pounds. That’s the weight of a newborn. You guys, in less than a month I have gained a child in my thighs and belly. And it’s not a cute widdle baby.

It might be the fact that I am doing more writing than ever this month – not just the novel, but the articles I signed up for this month that have me facing heavy deadlines every week on articles that require more time than I have (which is  a burden, admittedly, I totally love).  It might be the fact that I am getting hardly any sleep, my body clock thinking 3:30am is a perfect time to wake up when I really don’t need to be up until 5am.  It’s probably the fact that my stomach stretched out from a week of overeating, causing me to sit at my desk with a need to put food in my face at all times.

7 pounds.  One month.  Sigh. At this rate I’ll have twins by the New Year.

Thank god it’s bundle up sweater season.

Distractions, determinations, and that magical fruit.

I’ve been making a lot of progress in the novel I’m writing, about to hit the 10,000 word mark (woohoo!).  It’s starting to not be so much of a challenge to write, as I have finally reached the point in the story where something happens to change everything, and the main character will now spend the rest of the novel coping with this new reality.

I am really giving my main character a run for her money.

However, I keep getting distracted.  I’ll go to find another word for ‘noise’ or ‘crash’ or ‘whisper’ (seriously, what would I do without, and get stuck in the vortex of finding just the right word to convey the image in my head.  And all that thinking makes me hungry so I grab the box of Mini Wheats and start eating them, so amazed at how bad they taste I have to keep eating them to make sure I’m right.  I totally am every time.  Of course, eating always brings me to Facebook, since Facebook is the perfect place to post photos of what you’re eating.  But before I can snap a photo of the crumbled up wheat at the bottom of the box, someone will post something about Honey Boo Boo, and I have to give my two cents about why our civilization is going backwards when families like that get their own TV Show.  But before I can think of something truly witty, someone posts a video like this:

And seriously, how can you not watch a video like that at least a dozen times without smiling?  I can only do one thing about that.

Blog it.

So here I am, writing about my procrastination on writing my super fun and interesting novel while it’s still stuck under 10,000 words.  That’s ok though.  I think I needed a break after those first really thoughtful 10 minutes of writing it.

P.S. on that thought:  My friend Bert gave me a serious form of inspiration regarding publishing through this article, an argument for self-publishing that is pretty convincing.  I’d toyed with the idea, and even had several people mention it to me.  But I think this was the straw that broke the typewriter’s ribbon when it comes to a multitude of rejection letters vs. having a book published as soon as I deem it finished.  It makes the finish line suddenly a million times closer.  And getting a finished product out there suddenly doesn’t seem like that daunting of a task.

In other news, today is the last day of eating beans and rice.  YAY!  (You can read about why I’m eating beans and rice HERE)  To celebrate, I ate a veggie Marsala burger that has beans in it with a fried egg on top.  It’s actually really delicious.  But I don’t think I’m going to eat beans again for a couple of weeks at least.  I had to spend all day today tight-cheeked – not because I was smiling too much, but because if I didn’t, I was going to kill someone with an odor that really shouldn’t come out of any human being.  It was probably the Mexican casserole that we had last night, a mixture of beef and several different kinds of beans and topped with cheese – the lethal combination for making a really potent stink bomb.  I managed to hold it together all day long, just taking lots of breaks to spare my neighbors.  But this evening I had to stop at the store and had no choice but to find a vacant aisle and drop a bomb.  I then hightailed it to several aisles away.  But I swear I heard someone fall to the ground gagging in the same vicinity as a mysterious mushroom cloud that appeared out of nowhere.

This week we ate bean tacos, curried lentil and yam soup (seriously delicious), eggs and beans, chicken and rice, and I even ordered a side of beans to go with my Rubio’s street tacos. 🙂  Today we had so many leftovers that I told Mr. W to take the night off cooking and we’d just finish off the remains in stinky bliss.

I wouldn’t say we suffered this week, not like 3rd world countries who are forced to eat nothing but beans and rice all day every day in severely small portions.  No, we ate some pretty good meals.  However, that first day when we started this challenge, I got a small taste of what it was like to eat so little.  I couldn’t think, speak, and had no energy.  We really have it good and honestly have nothing to complain about.

And in even more news, Taz is on the path to a healthier lifestyle.  Last night we came to an agreement that we’d work together to get him to eat healthier and get more exercise.  Moving around is the most important part, so I am attaching video game privileges to the deal as motivation.  If he doesn’t exercise, he only gets one hour of video games.  If he does a 30 minute exercise routine or a one-mile run/walk, he can have 3 hours.  It’s a decent compromise – especially since he’s been known to spend 14 hours in his room playing video games and all I’ve been doing about it is nagging to deaf ears.

Last night we worked out in the living room, doing a series of one-minute exercises from an app that’s on my phone.  Those exercises are seriously kickbutt.  He worked up a serious sweat by about 10 minutes in.  But he looked at me like I was crazy when the girl went into a side plank.  Tonight we did our mile.  He ran almost half of it through a series of running and walking.  I gave him short running goals, like running to a certain tree, then walking to a mailbox, then running to the fire hydrant, etc.  There were a little bit of tears by the end of it, but he made it.  Our goal is to run every other day, and do the exercise app on non-running days.  My goal is to continue supporting him and not leave him to his own devices – especially since I promised him he’d see some serious results in only a couple of months if he kept this up.

At any rate, it’s time to get back to that book.  My other goal is to make it to 15,000 words by the end of this 3-day weekend.  And if I keep at it, I know I can get there…and maybe a little beyond.

Here’s to being determined to anything we set our minds to.  And to know when it’s time to lay off the beans.  Whewie!

Beans and rice


Our church is challenging the congregation to take part in a Beans and Rice Challenge on Monday through Friday of this week.  Basically that means to make beans and rice the main course for every meal of the day. There are two purposes to this challenge. The first is to give us a taste of what it’s like in other countries who have no choice but to eat beans and rice for every meal.  Of course, we are still spoiled in this challenge since we can also add different things like spices, vegetables, meat, tortillas, etc.  Other countries have only beans and rice, no seasonings, and definitely no meat. In fact, many times they don’t even have clean water to cook their beans and rice in.  The second purpose of this challenge is to save the money we would have spent on groceries for the week and donate it to help build a church in India.  The goal is $10,000.  Before the challenge started, two families pledged to give $500 each, one family pledged $2,000, and a local business donated $1,000.  We are only on day 1 and already 40% to our goal!

Our family admittedly hemmed and hawed about the beans and rice challenge a little bit. Or should I say, Mr. W and I were hesitant.  He was concerned about being hungry all the time, an understandable concern since the boys in our family tend to be hypoglycemic without enough food.  I was vainly concerned because I’ve lost all this weight avoiding things like rice and too many beans.  But when the challenge got closer and we talked about it with the family, it was the Taz who was instantly intrigued.

Ask the Taz what his favorite dish in the whole world is, and he’ll tell you ‘burritos’.  The kid lives for them.  If we have refried beans in the fridge, he’s good for lunch.  He’ll even pack burritos in a brown bag for school, not even caring that they’re cold by the time lunch rolls around.  And rice?  Probably in his top 5 of favorite foods.  So a week of beans and rice sounded like heaven to him.

I went about packing mine and the Taz’ lunches last night just to set us on a good start for the first day of beans and rice.  For me, I packed a breakfast of red beans, rice, and yams.  For lunch it was red beans, rice, and avocado.  I added a little salt to each for flavor, and had an orange for lunch.  For Taz, I gave him red beans and rice for breakfast.  For lunch he had red beans, rice, and avocado in two tortillas.

I brought all my food to work, and immediately ate my breakfast.  It was a little bland, but not that bad.  But having avoided rice for so long, I felt really bloated when I was done – almost too full.  “This is going to be easy,” I thought.

An hour later I was starving.

I spent the next three hours until lunch time drinking tons of water to keep me filled, as well as half of my orange.  When lunchtime came I nonchalantly heated up my beans and rice and brought them to my desk where I proceeded to devour them.  They were even plainer than before, though the avocado gave it a nice texture.  I was full and hungry at the same time.  I ate the rest of my orange, drank a boatload of water, went pee about 50 times, and then waited till it was time to get home.

Once home, I could barely function.  I was in one of those places where it was best if I just avoided everyone altogether.  It’s luckily Mr. W’s turn to make dinner, so I sat outside and read a magazine until dinner.

For dinner we had…..wait for it….beans and rice.  But we also had all the fixings for tacos, including chicken.  I made sure to put a good amount of chicken and beans on my plate, but I avoided the rice like the plague.  Still counting calories, I couldn’t fathom filling up on something that was so lacking in nutrients when what I really needed was a proper amount of protein.

“Thanks God,” I said, when I saw everyone was waiting for a prayer before beginning to eat.  And then I bit into my first bite of dinner as if I were coming up for air.

“I find it strange that you’re doing all this challenge for a Godly reason, and can’t even pray before we eat,” DQ said with her nose up in the air.  I was just about to hit her over the head with my taco and a flurry of unGodly words when Mr. W interrupted with a much more proper prayer.  I decided it was better to be holy in my discontent at my self-righteous daughter than to say something that might make me slightly less holy in my sacrifices.  Besides, it took about two tacos worth for anything that made sense to come out of my mouth and be able to look people in the eye again.

The Taz admitted that he, too, suffered adverse effects from a day of beans and rice.  He had no energy when it came to playing with his friends during recess.  And in class, his teacher had to kept reminding him not to lay his head on his desk.  And then there were all the times he kept sneaking a left-cheek sneak, and then looking at the person next to him so that everyone in class thought it was the other guy and not Taz.

Day 1 down and I’m already sick of beans and rice.

I am re-evaluating the whole challenge for my diet by nixing the rice.  I just can’t eat it.  I hate the way it felt to feel that full and then that empty soon after.  I know, I know, there are starving children in India who are forced to eat this way daily, and I can’t handle even one day of it.  But hey, those starving children aren’t going to be fitting into a wedding gown in a month and a half, either.  Besides, this whole stomach-eating-brain-because-I’m-so-hungry thing just doesn’t bode well for being able to work properly, and especially for keeping the peace in the household.  It’s only been one day, and I feel like we’re all ready to bite each other’s heads off.

Only 4 more days.

Here’s a cool recipe I found for Bean Cookies that I plan on trying out this week just for the fun of it:

Breakfast Bean Cookies

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose, half whole wheat)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda (I’m guessing, since the original omitted this step)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 – 19 oz. (540 mL) can white kidney or navy beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, the darker the better
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, or a combination of dried fruits
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

Preheat oven to 350° F.

1. In a food processor, Pulse the oats until it resembles coarse flour. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and process until it’s combined.  Transfer to a large bowl.

2. In the food processor, add in beans, butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla, pulsing till smooth.

3. Combine bean and oat mixture in bowl and stir by hand until combined.  Add in chocolate, raisins, nuts, and flaxseed.  Stir till just blended.

4. Place large spoonfuls of dough on a greased (or parchment papered) sheet, and flatten each one slightly.  (The blog I borrowed this from suggests dampening your hand first to keep it from sticking).

5. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until slightly browned on edges but soft in middle.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Per cookie: 138 calories, 3.5 g total fat (1.4 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 0.8 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.4 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 14.2 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber. 22% calories from fat.

What’s in 400 calories?

This morning I packed myself a good, healthy lunch.  I made my usual two-egg breakfast, each wrapped in a corn tortilla.  I put some cherries in a container.  And for lunch I had the meat off of two chicken thighs and 1/4 of a potato.  I ate each container of food at their regularly scheduled time, because the only way to keep from eating them all up at once is to be anal about when I am supposed to eat them.  And by 1 pm, all of the food was gone.

And at 2pm, Pop Tarts were calling my name.

I don’t even like Pop Tarts.  They’re 400 empty calories of garbage that do nothing but make me feel guilty while eating them and gross when the deed is done.  They don’t taste as good as they should, making them a huge disappointment when I realize I just wasted all those calories on something that isn’t worth it.  I mean, a Sift cupcake runs around 400 calories.  So does two pieces of sourdough toast with a smidgen of butter on each one.  A huge bowl of ice cream, 1/2 of a California Kitchen Pizza, 4 bananas, almost 3 sodas, a Venti Frappuccino with a piece of chocolate on the side, an 8 oz sirloin steak….all worth 400 calories or less each.  So a yucky untoasted strawberry Pop Tart that has been sitting in the vending machine for God knows how long?  Hardly worth it.

And yet, its siren call was clinging to me and reeling me in.

So I fought hard against the craving.  I was determined not to let it seduce me into its trap.  I filled my water bottle and drank a sip every time I wanted to make the trek up those stairs towards those dry little pastries.  I put a cinnamon Altoid in my mouth to help me forget about the taste.  I averted my thoughts by diving headfirst into work.  And then I grabbed my wallet with $1.25 in change and headed upstairs to buy the damn Pop Tarts and be done with it.

The first bite hit my taste buds and slid down my throat, allowing me to finally exhale the breath I’d been holding all this time.  The Pop Tart fix flowed through my veins as I took bite after bite to appease my craving.  Slowly, my belly expanded over my legs, my thighs suddenly drooping over the sides of the chair like playdough being squished into too small of a container.  My belt strained against the sudden implosion of belly fat that grabbed on to the sneak carb attack of the cardboard-esque snack.  And each bite suddenly seemed less satisfying than the last.  By the time I finished the first one, I knew I shouldn’t eat the second.  I already felt so huge, so gross, so sleepy and lethargic from eating all that white flour.  So I did the only thing I could do.

I devoured the second one.

By the time I was waddling back down the stairs, I was inwardly beating myself up for breaking so easily.  I had lectured myself that very morning to get through today eating only what I had packed, and to leave the snacks in the vending machine and the chocolate in my co-workers desk alone.  And by just giving myself such an order, I rebelled just to show myself I couldn’t be told what to do.

Great job Crissi, you’re a rebel.  You’ve also just gained back the few pounds you worked so hard to lose.

At any rate, tomorrow’s a new day with a new plan.  Pack a healthy lunch, drink lots of water, and when that carving hits hardcore, head outside for some fresh air and a walk around the office building.

Let’s do this thing.

Weight a little bit

For the past year I’ve been eating Paleo – specifically no grains or dairy about 80% of the time.  And it’s done wonders in getting rid of my “wheat belly” and in making me feel a lot more energized and healthy.  But it has done nothing to help me lose weight.

With the wedding getting close, I knew I needed to step things up a bit.  So I did the only thing that has ever worked in losing weight – tracking my calories.  I use the Daily Plate function at, recording everything I’m eating and all exercise I’ve performed to keep my calories at a certain level.  At first, there was no weight loss.  In fact, there was a little weight gain.  And it took a bit to master the fine art of not eating over my calorie limit.  But eventually, I was seeing the numbers dip lower every day as eating within my limits became effortless.

Two days ago, I reached the halfway point.  Being that I only have 10 pounds to lose before I’m satisfied, it’s not like this is a huge accomplishment.  But for anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, you know how hard it is to lose just 5 pounds.  It can take weeks, if not longer.  So seeing that number on the scale that I haven’t seen for months felt like I had managed something huge.  My stomach was looking flatter, I felt leaner, it was an amazing day.

Of course, while taking weight off takes a really long time, putting it back on can happen in the matter of a weekend.

I only saw that low number one morning.  The next morning I was 1.5 pounds up.  Today, I’m 2 pounds up.  I’ve exercised the past two days, I’ve recorded everything I ate and stayed below my calorie limits.  I feel like the food I’ve been eatuing has been pretty smart choices.  And yet, the scale is laughing its evil laugh and adding numbers to my weight.

I’m so frustrated.

It’s possible I might just be bloated.  Or I might have recorded something I ate wrong.  Whatever the issue, I will be taking a long hard look at what I’m eating and try and get that number back down.

Regardless of this setback, I know I can do it.  I have 3 months till my final dress fitting for the wedding when I need to be finished with my goal, and that’s definitely doable.   I’m now up to running 3 miles (at a slow pace, but running nonetheless) every other day, something I’m really proud of.  And I like the way my body is changing.  This goal will come too.

A little bit at a time, right?

Paleo Coconut Pancakes

I’m constantly looking for ways to make eating Paleo more interesting.  Dairy and grains usually make up a huge part of a regular diet, and a diet that is void of them runs the risk of being bland.  So I was more than excited to find a recipe for pancakes at the Civilized Caveman (a blog dedicated to eating Paleo) that are completely grain-free (and gluten-free!).  Of course, I’ve been grain-free for a long enough time to have surpassed my addictions to carbs.  However, someone who is new to Paleo (or any other diet that restricts their carb/grain intake) will see this recipe as a Godsend.

Coconut Pancakes with Fresh Fruit Reduction
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients (Pancakes):
■6 Eggs
■8 Tbsp Coconut Flour
■6 Tbsp Coconut Milk
■3 Tsp Raw Organic Honey, melted
■1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
■Coconut Oil for pan

Ingredients (Syrup):
■12 Ounces of frozen fruit of your choice
■1/2 Cup Water
■1 Tbsp Raw organic honey (optional)

If you’re going to make syrup, I would start this first before making the pancakes so it can simmer while you cook.  Civilized Caveman preferred raspberries in this syrup, but I didn’t have any on hand.  But I did have a whole slew of strawberries which served as a delcious substitute.  I imagine any fruit would work well, though make sure to adjust ratios accordingly (i.e. blueberries might require more water since they tend to gell up).  Grind the fruit in a food processor.  I like a little bit of lumpy fruit in the sauce, so I allowed a few chunks of strawberries to remain in.  Put the fruit in a pot, then add the water.  Let it boil about 10 minutes, or till the fruit seems cooked through.  Set aside, or let it simmer on low.

For the pancakes, I found the coconut flour the most interesting.  I never knew such a thing existed!  But sure enough, there it was in my local Whole Foods, my go-to whenever I need an off-the-wall ingredient.  It’s located by the regular flours, near all the gluten-free alternatives.  While there, I also picked up some coconut butter, thinking it was just another name for coconut oil.  It’s not.  But it is very similar to something like peanut butter (well, more like tahini), and tastes so delicious I could eat it by the spoonful.

At any rate, add the first 5 pancake ingredients together until free of lumps.  Heat a griddle or pan and melt the coconut oil in it.  When good and hot, ladle the desired size pancake into the pan, letting it cook for 3-4 minutes.

Here’s where it got tricky for me.

I’d like to think I’m a pro at flipping pancakes.  Heck, it was the first food I ever cooked, and the food I taught my daughter to make when she was learning to cook.  I know when to flip them, turn them, let them sit, and remove from heat.  I can make them a golden brown color and ensure they’ll never land on top of each other.  But these ones?

Multiple Fail.

First off, they don’t bubble up like regular pancakes.  However, that wasn’t my main problem.  My biggest problem was I had the griddle too hot, and then flipped them too soon.  Then I kept them on too long.  Then I didn’t keep them on long enough.  Then liquid poured out each time I flipped it.  It wasn’t till the last pancake when I sort of got it.

However, they still produced a pretty good looking stack of pancakes.

Once ready to serve, strain the liquid through a mesh strainer, putting the liquid back in the pot and reserving the chunks of fruit left behind.  Add the honey and let it melt into the liquid.  Pour over the pancakes and then add the fruit.

Confession:  Being totally guilty of A.D.D. when it comes to following directions, I didn’t realize that I was supposed to strain it until I was typing this out.  I actually added all the ingredients together in the beginning, and then poured it on when I was done with the pancakes.  Also, I added twice the amount of honey since it still tasted somewhat sour with only 1 Tbsp.

The verdict?  These were ok.  Or they were great.  Or they weren’t good at all.  My tastebuds haven’t quite figured these out.  If you eat them expecting them to taste like pancakes, you’ll be disappointed.  My carb-loading fiance was not impressed with these at all.  Luckily I knew that going in and had already prepared him a batch of Krustaez.  My adventurous son thought they were ok, though he went for second when he was done.  He was most impressed with the sauce.  I found the pancakes to be a decent substitute with the consistency of bread, but not really a bread taste.  However, the taste was intriguing. And filling!  I ate three of them and was totally stuffed.

If you try them, let me know what you think.  If you want to know how to make them without a bunch of blog chatter, or just discover some pretty creative Paleo recipes, visit

Heart and salt sole

The other day, Mr W and I were in such a stress rut from constantly needy kids on spring break and the endless demands from work that he gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

“Let’s get massages,” he said.  “I’ll pay.”

Ok, where did I find this man, and how did I get so damn lucky?

After the dinner dishes were done, we abandoned the kids (“Don’t kill each other, k?  And don’t bother calling our cell phones because they’ll be off.  Yes, even if the house is burning down, we will not answer.”) and headed to our favorite little spa in Fairfax.  From there, we soaked in a tub and enjoyed the silence.  Sure, we took advantage of the uninterrupted time to get whatever we needed to off our chest.  But all we had to talk about was work or the kids.  So silence was a lovely sound.

30 minutes later and we were called in for our massage.  I went with a short Portuguese girl, and Mr W got the leggy blonde.  My girl was extra giggly, but knew her stuff.  All of a sudden I was transported into the promised land by just her hands.  I stayed silent for the first 30 minutes except to let her know that her pressure was perfect whenever she asked.  But once I was completely relaxed, the two of us just started talking.  I learned that she was studying different forms of massage that helped pinpoint emotions, which I have always found fascinating.  In that training she was learning how to read someone’s pulse so that she could tell where that person needed work the most, what kinds of foods they should be eating, and what their body was lacking.  She encouraged me to attend a seminar at the center she volunteered at, and I asked her what they might tell me.  She said they’d probably tell me that I needed more electrolytes and to flush out my intestines.

Which was amazing because I’ve been having intestinal issues (biggest reason for going Paleo), I never feel like I’m getting enough water, and my energy level is nil.

Himalayan salt crystal, held by my lovely and ladylike daughter

From that conversation she told me about this thing called Sole (pronounced Sole-ay), an elixir made from Himalayan salt crystals and water.  I am not an expert on this, but basically you take these rock crystals and place them in water so that they’ll dissolve.  You keep adding crystals until the water contains so much salt it can’t dissolve anymore. That’s when it magically changes from salt and water to the mysterious sole.  Then, every day, add one teaspoon of the salt sole to a glass of water and drink it first thing in the morning before you’ve eaten of had your first sip of coffee.  The benefits are that it will help flush out your intestines, give you electrolytes, increase your energy, lower addictive cravings (like maybe chocolate?), clear up skin blemishes, and more.  This site has a bunch of good information on how to make salt sole and every single other way you can use it for.

And then my Portuguese princess remembered that she had a salt crystal in her purse and offered to give it to me.  All this, and she accidentally gave me an hour and a half massage instead of an hour.  I scored.

The first night I stuck the crystal in a glass of water and then just drank the water.  Saaaaaalty!  Then I learned the proper way to make sole and let it sit for a day.  Today I went to Whole Foods (they’re $3.99 a pound at our Petaluma store) and bought three more pink crystals which I added to my pre-sole.  I set it next to my mother Kombucha so they could keep each other company.  And then I got my love beads and did a hippy dance because I’m totally digging all this new-age old-fashioned stone age way of living.  I might just quit my job and live off the land, man, because all we need is love, right?

Ok fine.  I kind of like money.  And benefits.  And my iPhone with access to anything in the world should I want to look it up.

Anyway, now it’s the waiting game to see how the saltwater will be once it’s transformed into sole and rids me of my ugly intestines to give me new ones.  In the meantime, if you’re familiar with this magical elixir, fill me in.

P.S.  Forgot to mention that no metal is allowed to touch the sole, so mixing should be done with a wooden or plastic spoon only.  Also, seems that sole is very potent for a complete cleanse of the intestines.  Read: the first day or two you will be stuck to the toilet.  I won’t fill you in on the ugly details, but let’s just say if you’re anything like me and are deathly afraid of dropping a deuce (and worse) in a public restroom, you should definitely wait till it’s the weekend and you don’t have to go to work.  And Coffee doesn’t make the process any prettier.  I learned all this the hard way….

Tempting fantasies

I dream in chocolate. It taunts me. That luscious dark brown color, the smoothness in its texture. I want to inhale its aroma and then slip it in my mouth, savoring it as it melts down my throat in a satisfactory climactic explosion of cocoa bliss. I want to bite into salted truffles, guzzle thick hot chocolate with whipped cream, lick creamy chocolate frosting, bury my face in chocolate cake, devour chocolate covered strawberries, slip into a Cadbury Egg, and sprinkle chocolate shavings on everything from pancakes to soup to toast to straight onto my waiting tongue.

But I can’t. I won’t. It’s the last of my Lenten promises that I have yet to break, and so I’m refraining from submitting to this momentary pleasure that might be worth the guilt.

Instead, I’m eating everything in sight to compensate.

I admit it. I’m in a rut. I’m so sick of eating clean. It’s not only chocolate I fantasize about, but big juicy cheeseburgers in a fluffy white bun, greasy pieces of pizza, milkshakes, buttered popcorn, moist cupcakes, melted cheese on crackers, strangely addicting red vines, sour cream….. All the stuff I can’t have. I haven’t had dairy in over a month. Besides one slip-up over the weekend, I can’t remember the last time I ate bread.

Frankly, I’m bored with Paleo.

To save my system from fully paying me back, however, I’m sticking to it. But I need to find a way to stop compensating with endless snacking to make up for the unsatisfaction left by my boring food. It does no good to eat clean if I’m snacking every time I feel anything – hungry, bored, the wind blow…. The worst is when I’m sitting at my desk and having a brain fart. Automatic reply is to reach for some nuts, or eat the part of my lunch I was saving for later, or cave and go to the vending machine and get some potato chips because, hey, they’re potatoes and not bread, right?

I need a distraction from food.

A personal battle with child obesity

One of the lowest points of this past year was when a reader left a comment on my blog, remarking that the Taz had gained a considerable amount of weight. I deleted it as soon as I read it, afraid that he might see it. And then I hemmed and hawed over that comment, whether I should have left it or was right to leave it off.

In the end, it remains deleted, even as I print the words on this blog post.

I mention that deleted comment because weight is a very huge part in our resolutions this year. The Taz is overweight. He knows it. I know it. And it’s been known for a while. It’s something we’ve struggled with all year long. Last January, I mentioned the weight problem and our goals to tackle it. I received a lot of support from other people struggling with weight issues of their own – either with their kid or with themselves. And it really helped to motivate us in our health journey.

But somewhere along the way, we lost track.

Maybe it was busyness, or maybe laziness (or maybe a combination of the two), but I stopped paying close enough attention to what the Taz was eating and how much screen time and play time he was getting. I allowed him to make his own lunches, trusting him to make the right choices in what he was eating. But at 10 years old, willpower can be a very nonexistent thing. A corn muffin and chips sound like a way better lunch than a turkey sandwich and an apple, right? He hadn’t developed healthy habits that were strong enough to be able to make good choices. And yet I was putting the power in his hands.

We were both bound to fail.

What the Taz really needed from me was to take control of the battle for his health. With the New Year fast approaching, I knew I needed a game plan. I was afraid for the Taz’ health, and afraid that he’d be destined towards a life of obesity. Thing is, I didn’t really know where to start. And that’s when I came across the book, Healthy Choices, Healthy Children, by Lori S. Brizee, MS, RD, CSP (a registered dietitian and certified specialist in pediatric nutrition) and Sue Schumann Warner (an award winning journalist and author).

Now don’t get me wrong, I was mailed this book with the hopes that I would do a review on it. And being that faithful book reviewer that I am, I put it aside and almost forgot about it. But in a moment when I was going over a meal plan for the first week of January, I suddenly remembered this book and pulled it out to start reading. What I found were chapters that gave step-by-step instructions on how to turn around bad habits and change them for healthier ones.

The first thing the authors are clear on is having respect for the body. The book comes from a spiritual point of view, but the message is relevant whether the reader is religious or not. We should treat our bodies more kindly, respecting them with healthier food and keeping them active so they can continue to do us good. The authors go on to encourage parents to involve their kids in the shopping and cooking process, teaching them the “hows” of eating. And at the end of each chapter, an action is listed for the week to help continue down a path of healthy decisions.

What I love most about this book is the fact that it is step-by-step instead of all-or-nothing. Each chapter is another rung up the ladder towards instilling good habits in eating and exercise. The guidelines offers small changes that can be made each week – making it the ideal model for busy parents (like me!) to help our families be successful in establishing healthy choices. Real recipes are offered in the book (I’ve actually included a couple on my meal plan for the week), and there are different ideas listed to encourage activities for the whole family. There’s even a chapter on helping picky children (like my veggie-averted son) to eat well.

I’ve found this book to be incredibly useful to help me get the Taz back on a healthier track, and to give me the tools to know how to do it. If you’re interested in checking out the book, Lori S. Brizee will be at the Petaluma Copperfields (140 Kentucky St) on January 28th at 7pm to promote her book, “Healthy Choices, Healthy Children”. I hope you can make it to hear her speak and pick up her book for your own family.

For more info or to purchase this book ($13), visit