Monthly Archives: September 2017

Reporting Results

Well, the hurricane winds seem to have blown away (at least in my neighborhood), and fall is in the air (a little; temperatures are still in the low 80’s). Baseball season has just about ended (and I’m thrilled the Cubs are headed back to the post-season AGAIN! Food for thought: Kris Bryant was a rookie in 2015, when the Cubs had the first of the latest 3 post-season runs. Do you think he’d even feel normal without a post-season to look forward to? Just one of those questions we hope won’t be answered for MANY years.

As for my crazy diet, it’s going well. I’ve had a few days of throwing away all the rules (you can’t really blow it, but there are certainly times when you want to eat something that’s a miscombination; at times like those, you have to hold onto your will power, if at all possible, knowing you’ll be able to eat whatever fancy dish you want if you just wait awhile for it). I’ve had a recent yen for M&M’s, so bought a big bag (the plain milk chocolate kind; peanut M&M’s have protein, and you’re not supposed to eat anything but protein after eating protein; I’m not prepared to give up all my carbs for the day after eating a handful of peanut M&M’s in the afternoon). I’ve been having a couple of handfuls every day, after I finish my fruit. Granted, my weight has not dropped significantly since last week, when I was down 9 pounds. But I’m doing well, eating well and most important, eating as much as I want at the time. (I will freely admit here that it was the portion restrictions at Weight Watchers that made things so hard for me.)

At this point, I’m down half a dress size (with about five more to go), and I’m feeling really good. I’ve lost an inch and a half off my thigh, an inch off my bust, half an inch off my waist, and an inch off my upper arm. And while I do take an occasional antacid, most of the time, I don’t need one. I had some blood tests a couple of weeks ago, and my good cholesterol is up, bad cholesterol is down, and overall cholesterol number is significantly down. Blood pressure is good. I’ve re-started taking Resveratrol again, something I stopped taking after some health issues last fall. Resveratrol, an over the counter supplement, is fantastic for lowering blood pressure, so when I had my first blood pressure issues, I started taking it, with amazing results. And at some point, when my weight numbers drop down again, I want to get off the prescription BP med I’ve been taking since December. I HATE prescription meds!

To remind you of my current regimen: The New Beverly Hills Diet is based on the idea of properly combining foods for maximum digestion, which the creator of it, Judy Mazel, considers the fount of all disease. By eating only proteins and fats together, or carbs and fats together, and combining proteins and carbs only very occasionally, you can eat extremely well, not worry about portion control, and use minimal willpower. Mazel asks you to start almost every day with a tropical fruit (like pineapple, papaya, mango, berries or grapes) which contain enzymes which help burn fat and aid in perfect digestion. Then wait 2 hours before switching to carbs or protein, and if you want to eat again after that, wait another two hours to switch again (from carbs to protein or vice versa). That’s almost all there is to it. It takes awhile to get used to thinking (and eating) this way, but once you do, it’s pretty simple. I think before I put anything in my mouth–is it protein? Carbs? If it has cheese, that’s automatically protein, because of the dairy, but if I leave the cheese off, is the rest carbs?

I’ve learned that I don’t lose weight now as quickly as I did years ago, so it will take time and patience to get through this, but in the process, I’m learning that I can be satisfied now with less food (last night I ordered a meatball sub at a local bar, and since I wanted just protein, asked that the bread be left off. The result was a little plate with four meatballs on it. That was dinner, and I was fine with it.)

I will also admit to days where all I eat is carbs (this is not necessarily a tragedy). I’ll have very good bread and olive oil or butter; I’ll have pasta; I haven’t yet had a Chinese meal, but that’s coming. Pizza is a miscombination–the dough is a carb, as is the tomato, but the cheese is protein–and I’ve had it several times–eating several slices, till I’m quite full–without gaining weight. I’ve learned that after a protein meal, I can have vanilla ice cream with whipped cream (whipped cream being dairy) and not gain weight.

I’m not going to say this is the best way to eat for everyone, but it’s working for me. And while I do sometimes wish for a fleeting moment that I could have Diet Coke again (that’s a permanent no-no, because it contains artificial sweeteners, which the human body does not know how to digest), here’s a fun fact: I liked Diet Coke mostly for the carbonation, and we ARE allowed alcohol, even in the initial 35-day phase (which I have not yet completed). Turns out the ONLY alcohol which goes with everything, including fruit, is champagne (because it’s made from grapes, after all). I LOVE champagne (mostly for the carbonation), and while as a mostly non-alcohol-drinker, I don’t have it often, I did buy a six-pack (what looks like a split each) to keep in the fridge till I want something besides water to drink.

It was also suggested (by Mazel) that if you like hot tea (which I do) and you don’t want to use artificial sweeteners, you could try cinnamon in your tea, instead of sugar. Haven’t tried that yet (it hasn’t been cold enough to warrant going back to hot tea here in SC), but I certainly will, and will report back here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been on this new way of life (that’s what it feels like) for 24 days now, with minimal trouble, and feeling more and more comfortable with it every day. After the first week or so, I was so busy with other things I mostly didn’t think about it until mealtime, though as Mazel says, “Think about food when it doesn’t count, so you don’t have to think about it when it does.” I’ve learned to try to keep down my salt intake (I don’t handle salt too well), and have been drinking lots of water. Mostly, I’ve been delighted that I can eat and not worry about portion control, while enjoying good food and still seeing the numbers on the scale drop.

A very good thing, and more results to come, in about 2 weeks (at the 35-day mark). Very pleased with this new way of eating, and very excited about the future!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Safe from Irma, and Writing Your Own Story

After being battered for a week with dire predictions of what Hurricane Irma MIGHT do to Charleston, it was a little anti-climactic to experience it here in Mount Pleasant and realize it was NO BIG DEAL.

Yes, I know downtown Charleston flooded horrendously (but Charleston has very low roads and tends to flood even in a bad thunderstorm). And I know there were cyclones all over Charleston County–but not one came near me, safe and snug in my apartment on Park West Boulevard.

I did lose Internet service and my office phone (which is voice-over-Internet and goes out whenever the IP goes out). That lasted all of five minutes. Otherwise, apart from heavy rain and winds, a few downed tree limbs and some debris, everything was fine.

On Tuesday, I woke up to brilliant sunshine. (It was just like your child, when he knows he’s been bad; he’s suddenly angelic to make up for it.)

I do sympathize with the tough conditions in Florida, but from everything I hear, it could have been so much worse than it was. It’s bad, but not nearly as bad as they thought it would be.

And here we are, in a new day.

This morning I spoke in front of my weekly networking group. The topic was “Writing Your Own Story”, which is something I talk about often with people who meet me, find out I’m an author and immediately exclaim, “Oh, I’ve got a great story for you to write!” And they insist it would be ‘a bestseller’ if only I’d just write it down for them, ‘because I’m not a writer’.

I have news for you. In today’s world of DIY, you don’t necessarily need a writer at all.

YOU can write your own story.

Here’s a brief recap of what I said this morning:

  1. If you truly think you have a story worth telling, sit with a sympathetic friend (even if he/she has already heard all your stories) and ask if you can tape yourself telling her the story.
  2. Get a small inexpensive tape recorder, sit with your friend and TURN IT ON. Then tell the story to your friend as clearly and enthusiastically as you possibly can. TELLING the story out loud, for non-writers, is a great way to get it out of your system. If you try to write it on your computer, you might freeze up and get discouraged, or think you need fancy language to convey it. Fancy language gets left at the door these days; if you can write like you talk, you can tell any story.
  3.  Transcribe the tape afterward, so you can READ what you just said. Chances are, the story will sound pretty good to you as you read it.
  4. Decide whether this is the story of your ENTIRE life or only a small PIECE  of it. If it’s the story of your life, beginning to end, BEGIN IT AT THE BEGINNING, with your birth, growing up, etc.

HOWEVER… the story you want to tell may NOT be the entire story of your life. It may be about only a few years, or one incident. In that case, you can organize your story differently. You can tell it in chapters, EACH chapter about part of the incident, OR about various OTHER incidents in your life.

This is very freeing, in a lot of ways. I’ve always felt if I ever wrote my life story, I’d do it this way–talking about various ASPECTS of my life and what I learned from them, as separate stories I could string together as separate chapters. I think it would still be interesting, but less tedious than my trying to wade through my entire 60 years here on earth. Let’s face it, for long periods of time I haven’t done anything all that exciting. No reason for the reader to deal with that. Why not read the best parts? (A great example of this is the book Sheila Haley wrote some years ago, about life with her author husband, Arthur Haley. It’s called “I Married a Bestseller”, and it’s great fun. She talks about helping with book research, moving multiple times and even dealing with his extramarital affairs.) The point is, she could have written a beginning-to-end story but chose not to. She organized the book into chapters about various aspects of her life, and told them very entertainingly. It’s still a valid way to tell your story.

5.  Continue to sit with sympathetic friends (one or more) until you’ve talked the entire length of what you want to tell into that tape recorder, and transcribe it all.

6. Organize it into relevant chapters.

7. Send it to a good editor for a developmental edit. You can find a list of good, ethical editors at the website Editors and Predators. ASK for his/her advice and LISTEN to it. They can tell you whether the story is on track or if it needs connecting sections, and how to do that.

8. When you have the story edited and you think it’s ready, you can decide whether or not it’s worth publishing, or simply copying and binding as gifts for your family and friends.

If you do decide to publish it, the single best place for print-on-demand (today’s self-publishing) is http://www.createspace.com, which is the best of the POD publishers. For just a few hundred dollars, they’ll format and typeset your finished book, and you can get it copy-edited (do this if you have any issues with spelling, punctuation and usage) and have a beautiful book cover done there as well. And once you’ve given the final go-ahead, they’ll distribute it to Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and many other online bookstores, around the world.

9. If you choose (and you should do this), have it done as a Kindle version as well. More and more people are reading books on their phones and tablets; give them that option with yours. And you can go to Audible.com or other sites if you want an audio book version (something which, again, is becoming more and more prevalent).  As the author, you can choose which actor reads your book, which is a thrilling experience. (An author friend of mine chose an Irish actor to read her romantic thrillers–and since her hero was Irish, it was a double pleasure.)

Go to http://www.kdp.com for Kindle Direct Publishing; they’ll format and typeset the book into their proprietary version. And because of their symbiotic relationship with Amazon, it’ll go up on the mega-giant’s site almost immediately, once you give the final approval.

Does this work? I can’t tell you your book will be a giant bestseller, but when I was nine, and long before POD publishing OR Kindle, I received a paperback copy of KAREN by Marie Killilea as a birthday present. It’s the very moving story of her daughter, who was diagnosed in the 1940’s with cerebral palsy and struggled to learn to walk, write and lead a productive life. I’ve re-read it at least every six months since then, and that was more than 50 years ago. The book won all kinds of prizes and tons of acclaim, and is still one of my favorites.

I can’t promise you’ll write KAREN, but I do promise if you have a family story that’s inside you, this is a way–finally–to get it out, whether as a gift to your family or as a gift to the world.

Best of luck with your story–and keep me posted on your progress!

 

Irma and The Craziest Diet of All

Hello, all, and welcome to the wonderful world of hurricane prep.

Since we first learned of Irma–was it just a week or so ago?–things have gone crazy on TV and the Internet, with dire warnings to ‘take this seriously’ and ‘get out if you can’. Here in the Charleston area, water is scarce, there are lines to get gas, and you can’t find a D battery (for flashlights) anywhere in town. School has been cancelled from today through Tuesday.

Despite all this, I’ve chosen to stay and ride it out. According to the latest tracks I’ve been following on http://www.weather.com, by the time it gets to us, the storm will be a Cat 1 at most, and might be down to a tropical storm. Hell, it’s not even worth getting out of bed for a tropical storm.

In the last 2 years, I’ve ridden out the 1000-year flood (which devastated parts of South Carolina, and guess which area got the highest amount of rainfall? Yup, Mount Pleasant, which I call home–27 inches.) I can remember the entertainment value of watching the Clemson-Notre Dame game (which they play about once every 30 years, so it was a big deal), played at Death Valley. (I had more than a passing interest in this, as both my sons were there, attending the game. ) You could literally SEE the rain pouring down as they played, but they got through it. (My younger son, when he got back to his brother’s apartment, stripped off his clothes and told his brother to throw them out; they were too waterlogged to bother washing. He also put in an immediate request for duck boots, which has stood him in good stead during storms in the last year.)

We also rode out Matthew last year, and aside from losing power for a half hour and being basically pretty bored for about 8 hours (I’m not a television freak, so there wasn’t a lot for me to do), nothing else that was bad happened to us. I had thought we might have a tree come down on my car, but we only had a few branches scattered around in the aftermath. And once it was over, we dried out and moved on pretty quickly. (I realize this wasn’t the case with everyone affected by Matthew;  I’m well aware that we were very lucky.)

So with four flashlights ready to go, candles, bottled water (3 cases), plenty of junk food (in case we lose power) , cash from the ATM and my car full of gas (in case it turns out the models were wrong), I think I’m all set for Irma. Will report on my experience with THAT next week. But all my life I’ve been very lucky with weather, so why shouldn’t it be the case now, as well?

Meanwhile, I’ve begun a new program–well, a new OLD program–which I’ve known about for 30 years and which, unfortunately, I never took seriously enough when I was younger to try out. And this one is way more important than weather, because it affects my health.

Most of you who know me, know I’ve been very frustrated about my weight, for quite a few years. Since moving down to Mount Pleasant, I’ve gradually put on more and more poundage, until I hardly recognize myself, and even worse, I suffered a minor stroke last November, which I’m convinced is the result of my weight issues. In fact, I’m pretty certain that virtually EVERY health issue I face right now is the result of uncontrolled weight gain.

BUT… finding a program I could do FOREVER has been a challenge. I’ve explored a lot of options, including a return to Weight Watchers (which has become more restrictive, though also, I think, a lot healthier), programs offered through local doctors, and things that involve behavior modification, like eating in a five-hour window and at no other time.

At this point in my life, I’m not willing to do anything that’s difficult, complicated or too restrictive. I had lost 35 pounds 9 years ago with Weight Watchers (on an older version of the program), but that program, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists. They’ve added things such as unrestricted fruits and lessened the point values for protein (they want you eating lots of protein), but have also heavily weighted a lot of foods I used to eat on the program, with tons of extra points since they’re carb-heavy. And the doctors’ programs more often asked me to give up things like gluten and sweets (forever) and almost everything I eat now, to eat organic fruits and meats (which I have no objection to doing) and essentially, learn to like stuff that there’s no way I’ll ever enjoy.

The result is that I’ve been unable to COMMIT and STICK TO any program for any length of time. I knew that I needed something that would allow me to eat A LOT and feel good about it, that would give me a chance to correct myself when I went off the reservation, and something simple enough that I could do it now and do it FOREVER and not have any concerns, while I was staying healthy.

Then a few weeks ago, while I was brooding over (non) weight loss in a Weight Watchers meeting, one of the people there was talking about eating pineapple, and someone else said, “But you don’t get the bromelin in the pineapple by eating it that way.”

And a light bulb went off in my head.

Thirty years ago, I had read THE BEVERLY HILLS DIET and been fascinated by the idea of food combining in order to promote proper digestion, which many people believe facilitates good health. The idea, which led to a #1 bestseller in 1981, is to begin your day with an enzymatic fruit: pineapple, papaya, mango, kiwi, strawberries and others. The fruits have marvelous properties in their enzymes which allow you to eat and lose weight, because they aid in proper digestion.

The other most important rule is NEVER to combine protein and carbohydrates, though you CAN combine protein and fat, or carbohydrates and fat (which means you can have oil on your salads, or dip your bread in olive oil). The reason for that is the enzymes needed to digest protein and carbs do not mix well; they tend to fight each other, resulting in awful digestion and eventually, disease and certainly, fat.

I had read this with great interest 30 years ago and even tried it half-heartedly. (The program began with 42 days of, pretty much, nothing but fruit.) You HAD to eat pineapple and papaya and mango, and give up EVERYTHING ELSE (though Judy Mazel, who created the program, swears she will only ask you to give up two things FOREVER: diet sodas and artificial sweeteners, because they can’t be digested at all). I actually decided to eat strawberries instead of pineapple (they also have bromelin, just not as much), and found after trying it that I couldn’t handle it, and gave it up. (Here’s the good news: I did eventually lose all the weight I wanted to–in my 20’s–and remained a size 5 for six years. But I didn’t give up junk food or learn to eat better–I kept all my bad habits intact. Still, I kept my weight down, until my late 30’s, when I had my first pregnancy. That’s when things went crazy.)

I keep a shelf full of diet books in my library (I admit I love re-reading them, because however good or bad the diets are, they’re all written with enormous optimism:  they give you hope that you can change). I went in and dug out THE BEVERLY HILLS DIET and re-read it. And then I did what I had never done when I first read the book (because I couldn’t at the time): I went on the Internet to check it out.

I learned that Judy Mazel had, alas, died in 2007 (likely from a stroke). I learned that she had in 1997 published THE NEW BEVERLY HILLS DIET, a modified version of her great program, and immediately ordered it, to see what was different about the new program. And I began to think seriously about adopting food combining as a way of life: With no food restrictions or portion control, and no food I can’t eat, as long as I plan for it–I can do this. 

The new book finally arrived, and I dug into it. The new plan was FAR less restrictive than the old one: in fact, she introduced foods beyond fruit ON THE FIRST DAY, which I found to be much easier to handle. There were several days where you could go off on your own (to prepare you for the lifetime version) and foods like pasta, popcorn, steak and shrimp in a 35-day ‘starter’ program that promised to knock pounds off you. (And if the testimonials in her book are any indication, they do–10-20 pounds in those first 35 days.)

I decided to commit to this way of life FOREVER (which means giving up my beloved Diet Cokes, though I CAN have champagne even while eating fruit, and I love it partially because it’s carbonated). And I interviewed my local produce guy, who explained how to eat a papaya and showed me where to find figs and cut-up pineapple. I spent a small fortune buying cut pineapple, strawberries, grapes, figs and apricots (full of potassium–very good for you) and this past Tuesday (because I always start a diet on Monday, and this past Monday was Labor Day), I began.

Does it work? I didn’t love eating the pineapple, but I did, all day Monday, until I got to make and eat a big salad and corn on the cob. Tuesday, I decided to skip the 8 ounces of prunes (which I loathe) and eat figs instead. After one fig, I decided I really couldn’t like them. So I went to the strawberries (after waiting an hour, as directed) and that night, I had 1 1/2 baked potatoes with butter and black pepper. (I’ll admit I dusted a little salt over the potatoes when it seemed just too dull.)

Day 3 was simple. I ate green grapes (which I love) all day long. Drank plenty of water.

Today, Day 4, is dried apricots (which I don’t like at all, but maybe that potassium is worth it) and salad and for dinner, PASTA. I’m so excited about this!

I’ve had no issues doing this, apart from one or two moments of longing, and am even prepared to do this when we’re in the middle of Irma (I’ll make sure to have enough fruit on hand!) I can have shrimp and steak on Sunday, but it’ll have to be early, because it’s supposed to start raining early in the evening.

In three days, I’ve lost more than 5 pounds. I’ve eaten my tablespoons of sesame seeds (required) every night. I haven’t taken a single antacid tablet (usually something I take every day), and I’ve slept really well (must be the calcium in the sesame seeds). I have more energy (no doubt because I’m digesting properly–FINALLY), I haven’t had a Diet Coke in four days–haven’t missed it–and I’m feeling very optimistic about the rest of the program.

Will it work forever? I don’t know. But for now, it’s working. And if I have to modify during Irma (ie, eat fruit early and then combine properly for the rest of the day after that), I will.

Be safe from Irma, everyone!!