Getting off the SOFAs

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Now that the birthday celebrations are over and I’ve had a minute to catch my breath, I’ll take some time to explain how I’ve lost these most recent 25 pounds.

I discovered Chef AJ back in 2015 and became a member of her Ultimate Weight Loss program. It was great, I lost some weight, but I wasn’t able to stick to it for one main reason: alcohol. I’ll dive more deeply into this at a later date, but for now I’ll just say that while I wasn’t an alcoholic nor even a “problem drinker,” my beloved chardonnay had taken up too much space in my life. I wasn’t willing to give up my lifestyle that included happy hours & wine tastings, and the subsequent poor food choices that inevitably followed. I’d follow my whole food, plant-based, oil-free meal plan all day long, and then blow it every evening. I lost a couple of pounds, but grew frustrated and gave up.

For the next few years, I maintained my weight, losing a couple pounds here & there with the help of WW, but it was so freaking hard! I was restricting calories, counting Points, walking my proverbial butt off, and still I couldn’t lose consistently. I was beginning to think I was doomed to be a size 12/14 forever. Then, something changed.

Last July, growing tired of the cycle of drinking/eating/anxiety/headache, I decided to quit drinking. Again, more on that later, but this decision proved to be one of the best I have ever made for my health, both mental & physical. The lack of booze didn’t immediately result in weight loss, but it was a turning point, a launching pad for more positive changes. By eliminating the wine, I was able to make better food choices. My emotions stabilized. My mood improved. My brain got sharper. I felt amazing! Not only physically, but emotionally, and I wanted more. I wanted to get the other monkey off my back. Literally, the 25 pounds that was causing aching joints and back pain.

In May of this year, Chef AJ offered a mini program, a 21-Day challenge called Lose Weight with a Full Plate. It was affordable and offered two things I really needed: accountability & support. There was a group Facebook page, weekly Q & A sessions, recipes, tips & tricks and just so much feedback from Chef AJ and her coaches. I jumped in with both feet. The pillar of this program is abstinence, and the things to abstain from are as follows: Sugar, Oil, Flour, Alcohol & Salt, which go by the acronym SOFAS. So, I cleaned up my environment, tossing my non-compliant food and moving Chip’s to hidden drawers & cabinets where they wouldn’t tempt me.  I’d already stopped cooking with oil years ago, so that was easy. I didn’t eat a lot of sugar but there was some vegan chocolate lurking around. The alcohol was gone, and while I enjoy salt it wasn’t a deal breaker. My biggest problem was the flour. Sigh. I’m a bread-a-holic, and rarely did a day go by where I didn’t indulge some form of it. As much as I love it, I knew it was an issue for me, a red light food that I had a hard time moderating. So, out went the pasta, baguettes, buns & rolls. Even the “healthy” sprouted grain version got bagged up and donated to my daughters. With a clean kitchen, I was now ready to fill it back up again, but with what? What could one possibly eat after eliminating so many foods?! How could I possibly live on such limited options? Well, quite nicely as it turns out!

For 21 days I kept it very simple. Two to three meals a day, depending upon how hungry I was, and a couple of snacks. My days looked like this:

Exercise while listening to Chef AJ podcast. Veggies for breakfast. Potatoes. Fruit. Salad. Potatoes. Fruit. Steamed Veggies. Potatoes. Fruit. Sleep. Repeat. 

The weight started dropping off, sometimes as much as one pound per day! While we were discouraged from obsessing over the scale, I couldn’t help but jumping on because the dropping numbers kept me motivated! I was in shock, honestly, could not believe that I was actually doing this! It was hard sometimes, yes, especially when dining out with family, watching them eat the decadent vegan meals I’d enjoyed in the past. But I kept at it, and it got easier, to the point where I actually preferred my simple food over the highly processed ones. I was on a roll, and it felt amazing!

This is where I’ll leave you, for now. I’ll be back tomorrow to continue the story and share some resources.

Have a beautiful day

Michele

 

New (Birth) Year

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Wow, it’s been over a year since I last posted! So much has happened, where do I even start?! 2019 has been chock-full of beauty..births and engagements and so many happy moments! Our family has grown and I feel so blessed. 

I’ve met some personal goals as well, the most significant is losing another 25 pounds! I did this with the help of Chef AJ and her Ultimate Weight Loss program, which I’ll expound upon more in the future.

I just turned 55 years old which both shocks and delights me! I’ve been reflecting on my life, past and future,and honestly have few complaints. I am in a good place. My children & grandchildren are happy and healthy. I have a wonderful, loving partner. A safe, comfortable home. Excellent health. Security. Loyal friends. So, now what? Where do I want to be, this time next year? What goals do I want to meet? I’ll be spending more time on this, but for now, here are some areas I’d like to work on, this 56th year of life:

  • Mind: I’d like to sharpen this aging brain, maybe take a class. Do more crossword puzzles. Read (even) more books.
  • Body: Lose another ten pounds, see how I feel at that weight. Use my gym membership to tone up & build strength. Continue my eating/wellness program, mentor others if there’s a need.
  • Spirit: Connect more with my community. Discover volunteer opportunities. Travel a little. Learn to meditate. Garden. Create. Grow. Improve. 

So, that’s where my head is today as I plan my weekly menu, organize my desk, and channel the fresh back-to-school feelings of the young friends & families around me.

How about you? Anyone else doing some deep thinking today? Share with me your goals and aspirations!

Have a wonderful day!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Goodbye, 2016, and good riddance! Overall, you were a pretty rotten year. To recap,  in January we became aware of some health issues with my dad, symptoms that his girlfriend couldn’t deal with on her own. In early March, we moved him 350 miles from home, up here with us, and started the rounds of doctors and tests which, in mid-April, lead to the diagnosis: Alzheimer’s Disease/Lewy Body Dementia. 

(In the midst of this, one very BIG, very BRIGHT spot..we welcomed my first grandchild into the world. The amazing, adorable Angelo graced us with his presence in April, and he has kept me laughing & smiling through the darkest parts of this year. What a blessing he already is, what a joy!)

So, we sold Dad’s truck and beautiful 5th wheel trailer and with that went his dream of traveling the country, enjoying his retirement after 42 years with the same company. It was devastating. We were able to move him into his own small home, maintaining some independence,  but he requires some supervision so we hired caregivers to be with him about 75% of the time.

At some point that’s not going to be enough and I will have to make the Big Decision. For now, I’m just treading water, trying not to drown under the worry and overwhelming responsibility that comes with being the only child of an ailing, aging parent. It requires more patience, strength and grace than I possess on any given day.  I’ve discovered skills I never knew I had and dusted off some I never thought I’d need again.  Managing finances, caregivers & general day to day life, doctor visits (and one scary hospital stay), has become  the focus of my life. It has become a full-time job, because even when he’s being cared for by paid professionals, I’m still on call. 24/7, 7 days a week. My phone is far from my side. No vacations, no holidays, no days off where I can just put Dad’s illness on the back burner and focus on ME. It’s sad and stressful and all-consuming. Yet, I keep going. I keep swimming, as Dory advises, hoping that I make it look easier, that I appear more graceful than I actually am. Because it’s not his fault. And I’m not complaining, truly I’m not. It’s just freaking hard, that’s all.

With all of this going on, I moved Dad to the front burner and put everything else in the back. My hobbies, my goals, my health..my weight loss. My fitness. All of it got put on hold. I tried to keep up with my daily walks, but either I was too busy or I was simply too tired or stressed. It was easier to self-medicate with food instead of exercise. I allowed some more junk to seep back into my diet, especially while cooking for Dad who is definitely not vegan but was willing to try some faux meat products, just nothing too “green” or anything that looked like “weeds.” So, more veggie burgers, hot dogs & fries & less kale ended up on my plate for a while. My Fitbit continued to plug along, logging the couple thousand steps that were part of my daily routine. Now & then I managed a long beach walk, and my body & soul thanked me for it but I couldn’t manage to sustain that habit. As a result, my clothes got tighter. The  numbers on the scale started going in the wrong direction. And before I knew it, 10 of the 20 lost pounds had crept back on.

 

Sad & sobering and oh-so-disappointing. But, here I am. It’s a new year, can’t do anything about what happened in 2016. What now? Do I keep heading in that direction, just treading water and surviving? Nah, let’s not. A better idea would be to get myself together, force myself (and others) to put myself first, or at least somewhere near the top. How to do that? Well, I think we have a working system in place, that Dad’s needs are being met..for now.  There will always be adjustments, issues that come up that will need addressing, but I can’t sit around waiting for what might happen. I need to keep living my life the best I can. I have a father to care for, but I also have a partner, children and a grandchild who want and need me around! In order to do that, I’ve gotta take care of myself. I’ve got to do what keeps me healthy & happy because if I’m not around, who’s gonna take care of Dad?

So, I am already working on the new plan. It involves some elements from the past, what worked before, with a few new habits thrown in. I’m excited and hopeful and determined to lose what I gained in weight, and gained what I lost in fitness & mental health.

For the readers who are still with me, thanks for hanging in there. I hope to see more of you in 2017.

Michele~

Monday Menu Planning: On the Road Again

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and the remainder of the month is equally hectic. We’ve been traveling for Chip’s work, back & forth across the state, staying there half the week. It’s fun because we’re in a city right near my kids, but the schedule is also a little stressful on someone who likes routine and organization. (That would be me!)

On the way home last Thursday, we stopped by a popular roadside produce market. Oh, my! The veggies were so fresh and gorgeous, I was in heaven! I ended up with 3 bags of yummy-ness for only $15. You can’t beat that, and you can’t get more local than this!

 

 

I bought a giant “bouquet” of that gorgeous kale, am planning my meals around it this week. In the meantime, it’s been threatening to take over my refrigerator!

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Without further ado, here’s this week’s menu plan, including one breakfast and a couple of lunches.

What’s cookin’ at your house this week?

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Have a great day!

 

 

Happy New Year

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Wow, it has while since I posted! I got so busy with the holidays and kind’ve lost my groove there, but I’m back and more motivated than ever to reach my goals!

I gained a couple of pounds over the holiday season but have already started to shed them, am also back on track with my meal planning and prep.

Here’s this week’s plan:

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

Hope your 2016 is off to a great start!

 

A Work in Progress

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Just like myself, this site is currently a work in progress. I have some ideas on what I’d like it to be, how I want it to look, but am leaving the design to a very talented lady who happens to be my daughter. She’ll be prettying things up soon, but in the meantime I’ll just putter around my new “home” and figure things out as  I go.

I’ve had several blogs over the years, each chronicling a particular place in my life. There was one about day-to-day stuff, love & romance & family life. Then there was the pin-up themed weight loss blog, a sassy & fun time. When I went vegan and subsequently started traveling a lot, a new blog reflected that change. I’ve had a great time with each of those endeavors, but now I find it time to move on.

Oh, I’m still in love and have a wonderful family. I still adore pin-ups and sass, and am most certainly still a vegan. But at the ripe ol’ age of 50, I’m also a little bit more settled. More comfortable. I don’t feel the need to disclose quite so many details of my personal life, yet there are aspects I still want to share. I don’t travel as much, and would much rather prepare a meal in my own kitchen rather than dine out. In some ways I’m slowing down, but in others I feel I’m just getting started! Such is life in one’s 50’s, or so I’m told.

So, what next? Well, I see my focus being on fitness and (still) weight loss, using what I’ve learned in the past few years to create even better health & well-being. I’ve got a lot of experience with what works, and what doesn’t, as far as weight loss goes. I’ve studied tons of material from plant-based doctors and professionals, am excited by what I’ve learned and thrilled to continue learning and growing. I’d like to form a little community here, an exchange of ideas with like-minded people. I realize that there are tons of vegan books and blogs and websites out there, no need to reinvent the wheel here, but I’d like to provide my own slant, my personal experiences. If nothing else, I’ll have a record of this era of my life, a time when I have the freedom and means to dabble a bit, to experiment and play and learn new things, meet new people, grow and flourish in these middle-aged years.

So, that’s where my head is at the moment. I hope I can bring this to fruition, that this will be a place of motivation and inspiration, of discussion and sharing. I hope you’ll help me to create just such a place.

Michele