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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Intermittent Fasting and Me

So, as many of you long-time followers know, I have been on a weight loss and fitness journey for almost three and a half years. I had lost 25 pounds overall, but last summer, I noticed that I had put some weight back on. Finally, I weighed myself a few weeks ago and I had definitely put 10 pounds back on.. Still 12 pounds lower than at my highest, but 15 pounds higher than my lowest. I've remained totally active during this time. I work out hard 6 days a week. I eat reasonably enough (I mean, I'm a freaking Dietitian so I know what I'm doing). But, the pounds just creeped back on.

Obviously, since I've continued to work out, my problem was what I was eating. So, I decided I wanted to do something with my diet to help me lose the weight I'd previously lost. Graham has been gone since February, and he comes back in less than 3 weeks. I wanted to look better before he got back so I was considering a diet program. I was considering Nutrisystem or something else ridiculous, but I didn't want to pay for it. Plus, not being able to eat my own food would really piss me off. I was stuck in a rut and wasn't sure how I could change without going crazy. There's no way that I can follow a calorie-restricted diet long-term (or even short-term) without feeling totally restricted and starved.

In grad school during my Dietetic Internship, I had to answer questions posed to the Oregon Dairy Council as one of my projects. One person asked the question if a person must eat throughout the day to lose weight. I did a lot of research on this subject and the results were inconclusive. Many studies showed that the opposite was true--that intermittent fasting has been shown to be beneficial to lipid levels and weight status. This absolutely blew my mind at the time. Anyways, I completed that project in 2006, answered that question with a vague answer, and never really thought about it again. I mean, I do hear time and time again from people how eating throughout the day "fuels your metabolism", which is factually true, but is it necessary?

So, I'd been hearing more and more recently about "intermittent fasting" as a way of eating to promote loss of body fat, improve health, and to lose weight. My interest was piqued, but I wasn't really considering it because I've fasted before for religious reasons, and it is pretty difficult to not eat for a day. However, I somehow received a random Shape magazine in the mail, and there was an article about intermittent fasting and the different types. By reading this, I got super excited and decided to try it out because the intermittent  fasting doesn't mean you can't eat or drink for a full day, like we do in the LDS (Mormon) church. You just restrict your calories to 500 calories (600 for men) for a day, and you can have unlimited calorie-free beverages.

Excited about this prospect, I posted about it on Facebook and asked if anyone had experience with this way of eating. Surprisingly, I received a fair amount of negative feedback and encouragement to try other extreme methods of dieting, I had people suggest Whole30, which is so not my thing. I do believe in reducing the amount of processed foods that you eat, but I can't do Whole30. For one, I don't think eating that much animal protein is good for you, I don't believe eating a high animal protein diet is good for the environment, nor do I like eating large chunks of meat. Plus, it means lots of scratch-cooking, which I like, but I don't like cooking while Graham is gone, and I get free food at work. So, NO to Whole30. Then, I had someone suggest a diet plan group with them. Um, no, I can make my own diet plan. Like literally. I have a master's degree in Nutrition. I can plan meals just fine. Then, someone told me I was focusing too much on being thin and to eat reasonably. Yeah, I do eat reasonably, but being fit and not fat is kind of part of my job, whether I like it or not. People just won't listen to a fat Dietitian..

Anyways, a high school friend of mine e-mailed me and invited me to Intermittent Fasting group on Facebook that focuses on the 5:2 plan. This means that I limit my calories to 500 two days of the week, and then eat reasonably (~2000 calories for women, 2200-2400 for men) for the other five days (this equals about 1571 calories per day over a week). This plan is based on a book and documentary produced by Michael Mosley. The research behind it is very fascinating, with benefits seen in animals better than overall calorie restriction. I'm not going to go over all the info. You can look up that stuff yourself!

I jumped on the bandwagon and started the next day. I was prepared with low-glycemic foods to meet my 500 calories, such as roasted almonds, blueberries, mozzarella cheese stick, and chicken sausage with vegetables. The first day wasn't THAT bad. I first ate around 11 AM with some almonds, lunch of blueberries around 1 PM, then a cheese stick around 2 PM. Dinner of chicken sausage and broccoli around 6 PM. I kept a no-calorie beverage at my side all day (aka True Lemon lemonade, Diet Dr Pepper, and lots and lots of water). The absolute worst part: going to bed hungry.. something I don't think I've ever done. It's gotten better with each successive fast (I've "fasted" six days now--currently fasting for my seventh time). I've been able to go without food for longer periods of time, and I've been able to sleep better feeling hungry.

I've actually been able to learn a lot from this experience. I've learned what my actual hunger signals are, or whether I'm just bored and want to eat to fill my time. I feel more in control of what and when I eat. But, I have to watch my hanger a little bit on those days. I have to take a deep breath and remind myself to take a step back from the situation (commuting+fasting=road rage). One thing is that I did feel a little on-edge, even on my days of normal eating. I yelled at Carter for the first time on my non-fasting day, which made me feel horrible! Another positive--I only feel restricted on my 2-3 days of fasting, which is way better than feeling restricted 7 days a week. Plus, I have lost 4-5 pounds in just 3 weeks of fasting.  This way of eating isn't for everyone. It's hard. I'm not lying. It's not for those that are weak-willed or looking for something easy. A co-worker of mine tried it and ended up bingeing when she got home that night. For me, that's not an issue, because if I've made it past 5 PM, there's no way in hell that I'm not going to make it the full day or make that day of fasting null and void.

This is kind of considered to be a "fad diet", but I plan to continue this as long as I can!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My So Ordinary Life

It's funny, with Graham gone (6 weeks until he's back--and counting!).. people keep asking me how I'm doing and how I keep going. I tell them I'm just a robot and keep a pretty consistent daily schedule with Carter. I was thinking about this the other day when I was going over my Instagram account (does anyone else ever do that?). I was noticing that I haven't been recording many of the things that Carter and I do because I didn't feel like they were necessarily Instagram-worthy.

And then I thought, well, isn't that what Instagram is for? For documenting the important and unimportant events and mundane details of my life? And really, my life seems so boring, so humdrum, so..... ordinary.

But, most of us live ordinary lives. We work, we cook, we play, we live our lives with routines and schedules. Most of us are not jet setters to exotic locations nor do we all have exciting jobs. However, that really doesn't matter to my child. He doesn't need fancy trips or new toys. In fact, when we did a 3-day weekend to Philadelphia and Washington DC, he just "wanted to go home" so he could play Monopoly with his daddy. Even though our life isn't exciting, Carter still deserves to have his childhood documented to have visual memories to draw from.

So, this month, I will be documenting our life every single day on Instagram, with the hashtag #mysoordinarylife to challenge myself to find something different to note (I probably should've noted that today at work I dropped yogurt on the crotch of my dry-clean only pants--seriously, does it always have to be yogurt on my crotch, squirted juice from fresh cherries on my white shirt, and dropped/cracked my large re-usable cup from work), celebrate or enjoy every day. Because ordinary people and ordinary events need some recognition too!

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Deep, Dark Confession

Before you get really anxious, I want to reassure you that I have not had an affair of any sort, nor do I harbor some weird fetishes or tendencies. However, this is kind of a serious, and maybe juicy, blog post.

I also want to make it clear that I am not airing my dirty laundry.. I am making my life's troubles relatable to all of you readers so that if you can feel like you're not alone if you've ever struggled with getting pregnant, marital issues, or depression (situational or otherwise).

Anyways, I kind of wanted to come clean. I've vaguely hinted before that I've had issues of my own and drama with other people in the somewhat recent past. I will continue to be somewhat vague to protect the privacy of others as this is a public forum. However, I will be as clear as possible about what I've gone through and how I've dealt with it. I've been thinking for months how to write about it and make it relevant without revealing too much.

About a week ago, I read this article: "When You're Attracted to Someone Who Isn't Your Spouse"... and then I finally got the courage to speak out. I highly recommend this article, especially if you're religious as it does have a Christian writer. I wish I had read this article a long, long time ago!

If you haven't figured it out.. I was attracted to a man at work who was not my husband. Let me repeat--we did not have an affair or anything close. Now that that's settled, let me tell my story..

It started out innocently like three and a half years ago.. Carter was one years old, Graham was doing well in school, and we were finally getting into a groove with our little family. There was little else to be desired from life. We were happy. I am going to emphasize that point--we were happy. There was nothing truly wrong in our relationship. I wasn't out looking for something to make me feel better. These stories don't always come from people in bad marriages. Anyways, I digress.

One fateful day at work, I noticed an attractive male who seemingly paid a little more attention to me than other females. I, feeling fat and unattractive post-pregnancy, always having been insecure and a little immature, took note of that. The little elementary school aged girl in me said, "Oh, look! He must think I'm cute! He stopped while he was working, and talked to me and only me!" I distinctly remember that day. From then on, I had a tiny crush that got bigger and bigger. It was literally like a drug. I craved attention, conversation, jokes, anything from him to get me that high. But, because the crush was growing secretly inside me, something else was dying inside me. I was feeling unbelievably guilty. Finally, six months after I admitted to myself that I had a crush, I confessed it to Graham and my best friend. It was so soothing. Because someone else knew, I had some accountability and I felt like I could change a little.

So, for the next year, I tried to change. I tried to avoid conversation and everything, but it was too hard to do on my own. I didn't really want to change, because I still could get that high from the perceived flirting, Facebook likes/comments, dirty jokes, etc. To really make a lasting change, you need inner motivation, but I couldn't muster the desire to change. It was too much. My spirit was suffocating inside me. I pulled farther away from God and His spirit because I didn't want to feel guilty for having feelings for someone else. I wasn't technically doing anything wrong... It was just a feeling!

And so, even though I was reading scriptures every day, my spirituality faltered and wilted inside me. I got to the point where I didn't care. No, I probably never would've had an affair had the opportunity presented itself, but I could see how people could do such horrible things to their loved ones. You get to the point where you don't care about anyone but yourself when you pull away from God and choosing the right. I never, ever thought of myself as being this kind of woman (and maybe you're reading this and think this yourself!).. One who professes to love their spouse and child(ren), but completely ignores that when they're not physically there. I felt so alone, which is what Satan wanted me to feel.. He wants you to feel isolated and horrible so that you will never change or turn from temptation. Again, this is why I'm writing about this. To let you, anyone, know that you're not alone.

Luckily, my life fell apart a year after I told Graham about my crush. My husband was struggling with failing school and lying to everyone about it right before my freaking eyes and I never even noticed because I was too wrapped up in my own stupid, selfish head. I don't feel any guilt for what choices Graham made, but I do feel bad that I failed to take note of the warning signs and questionable things he said/did. I want to wring my own neck when I think of how little I was present at home with my family during these times, and what I could have done to help my failing husband at home and school. So, with the changes in my life and the necessity to focus on my family, I was slowly able to change with lots of prayer. Over time, the crush started to fade. But really, it was sloooooow progress, because I am stubborn and ridiculous. This situation was one of the reasons why I was willing to forgive Graham and take him back.. I am not perfect, and truly, us two imperfect people belong together.

And the real kicker, other people found out about the crush.. and then it was all over with a big, embarrassing collapse. My secret became not so secret.. and it was pretty horrible. It's been a year and a half, and ugh... still not better.

You may think that you are immune and that this will never happen to you or your spouse.. and if so, you're lucky. If you're not so lucky and find yourself in the same boat.. Be careful about who you spend your time with. Be careful with your feelings. Yes, they are just feelings, but they can make you do stupid things, especially if you keep doing the stupid things day after day.. Be careful about your relationship with God. Avoid temptation in all forms. Talk to your spouse openly about your daily dealings (haha--the name of my blog!).

In other words--read the article. She says it better.

So, yeah. That is my life's deepest, darkest secret (maybe), and yet it is cleansing in a way to admit it openly. I was pretty open about my marital troubles and Graham's issues, but a little reluctant to speak out about my own.. mostly because I didn't want anyone else involved to lose their anonymity. But now, you.. friends, family, strangers, blog stalkers, you know.. And please, don't make the same mistakes I did!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Emotional Flashback

I apologize for the long absence. I've been suuuuper lazy. It's kind of exhausting to do this solo parenting thing with a new house and working full-time. When I put Carter to bed at 8:30 PM, I immediately go to bed. I might play on Instagram or Facebook after that, but that's it. Blogging hasn't been one of my top priorities.

Anyways, life hasn't been too interesting. I drop Carter off at daycare, I work, pick Carter up, work out, and sleep. That is my life.

I did have a flashback the other today to an event almost two years ago when Graham and I were separating. Carter and I were dropping off Graham at the ferry terminal that he was taking to Seattle. From there, he was going to take a Bolt Bus that goes straight from Seattle to Portland, to go live with his parents. I remember the bittersweet moment dropping him off at the ferry terminal, my eyes clouded by tears, saying, "I'll love you forever." At that moment, I didn't know if we'd ever be together again. It's one of the memories that'll forever live clearly in my mind.

When I was driving home from my sister's house in Seattle on Thursday, a Bolt bus passed me (the first one I've actually ever seen!), and I completely burst into tears. The feeling of despair and misery was so strong---it was like I was re-living the past all over again. I really never ever want to feel like that again.

But, the best thing about all of this.. Life isn't like that at all. I can't have a pity party or mourn the fact that bad things have happened to me. Life is good and I have no reason to despair.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finally.. making our house a home

Sorry for the long absence, guys. It has been really busy around here lately.. and let's face it, in our downtime, we've been watching the second season of Bates Motel on Netflix. I can't give many details, but Graham has to go out of town for training for his new job. So, we've been trying to maximize our family time as much as possible.

Anyways, as a continuing part of the "Starter Stories" by Compass, I'm blogging about how we started to personalize our home when first starting out. There were a couple of things I wanted before we moved in: a new dining set that would seat more than four people, counter stools for our kitchen's breakfast bar, and a painted, stenciled wall in our master bedroom. We couldn't afford to do all of the things we wanted to do, so we had to prioritize what was most important to us.

First, the stencil we got was the Sophia Trellis Moroccan stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils. It looked relatively simple and a better alternative to wallpaper or a plain accent wall. So, we did two different colors in our bedroom with a varying color for the accented stencil. Our walls were a horrible yellowish beige from the builder, so we needed a more cool-toned color scheme to match our current espresso furniture and bedding. Here are the photos:

 Graham was our master painter.

 Here's the accent wall. We ended up painting the ceiling as well.

Finished stencil. It actually looks better in photos than in person because you don't see all of the small mistakes. But, it still looks fabulous. I will have to post another picture with our furniture and bedding in front of it.

So, the furniture we picked was from Target, Cost Plus World Market, and Pier 1. Since we had a breakfast bar, dining stools were a must. We needed a new dining room table because Graham and I both have large families that visit often, so we needed a big table to seat 8+ people. I have an older modern, espresso-colored buffet from West Elm that also needed to match the table set. I thought about getting the matching dining set from them, but it would have been too matchy matchy for the look I was going for. I had my heart set on a dining bench for the kiddos, too, so that was on my list. We also have a unique feature in our dining room--an electric fireplace--so we needed to have furniture that would work around this.

 Here are my Avington counter height stools from Target. Excuse the lime green color of the place mats. They are a little bright, but look great with the navy blue Fiesta dinnerware we own.

 Here's our Francine dining bench from World Market with the Garner extendable table from World Market. The bench and table don't match exactly but you can't really tell.

Here are the accent dining chairs from Pier 1. You can also see our beautiful Moroccan style rug we got at Costco ($80-90 for an 8x10 rug!!).

So, this is how we started to make our house our own! We couldn't afford to do much all at once, so it's definitely still a work in progress. I have some other projects that I'll share later as well. Our next big items are a fire pit in our backyard (currently in progress), a new sectional for our TV room, and paint in our dining room and downstairs family room.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We didn't mean to buy a house...

So, ours may not be the typical first-time home buyer story.. The story where the couple has scraped and saved for years for a down payment, or where the couple is newly married, or the one where the married couple is expecting a child and want to move into a house before the baby is born. I wanted to blog about our process to help others along the way and give you a personal insight into first-time home buying. I was also contacted by a company called Compass that is starting a project called "Starter Stories" to feature stories about real people who are starting in their new first places, whether they be apartments or homes.

First of all, I'm 32 years-old, my husband is almost 30.. We have been married for 7 years. We have a 4 year-old kid. I have been in my career for over 6 years, and my husband is just starting his. We have LOTS of student loans to pay back.. Enough to choke on. And, we have consumer debt that we've been slowly but surely paying off with some major setbacks (remember, we also had to buy a car earlier this year too?).. So yeah, we were not exactly the best candidates to buy a house either..

So anyways, since we decided to move on from Graham's schooling and start looking for a career that didn't require a bachelor's degree, we had to adjust our expectations for a house. First of all, we wouldn't be able to afford as much as we thought we could. Second, I couldn't get everything I wanted in a house (i.e. a great big kitchen, big master suite, and lots of space for guests). Third, we had to decide which house features were the most important to us. Our list of wants included the following:
  • an affordable house in general, 
  • a big backyard (Graham's request--not mine), 
  • a spot outside where Graham could put a basketball hoop, 
  • a kitchen with enough space for more than one person to cook in, 
  • good schools nearby, 
  • a room where we could exercise without restraint. 

Finally, we had to re-think about where we could actually buy a house that met our requests. The different areas in our county vary widely in price, depending on the proximity to the ferries to Seattle, or waterfront properties. The first thing we did was finding a geographic region in the Puget Sound area that has affordable houses yet is in a good school district. Certain areas were out, because the high schools were awful (yes, we are thinking that far ahead), or the neighborhoods were spotty. So, we finally settled on an area right outside the county lines. Oddly enough, we are moving to the same town my ancestors settled in after moving from Iceland and Canada. It is a beautiful area of land, on a peninsula on a peninsula (you'd have to look at a map to know what I'm truly saying--Puget Sound is kind of complicated). You have to cross a land-bridge to get there, so it feels like you're going on a vacation when you cross it just to get home.

Anyways, after semi-deciding which area we wanted to look for houses, I signed up on the Redfin app, and saved some of my favorites. Of course, the website/app is smart enough to send you reminders when new houses in your desired area and price range are put on the market. In November, I noticed a house that was newly remodeled and had an open house that weekend. I showed it to Graham, and casually mentioned the open house. We went after church and fell in love with this house. Of course, it's not perfect (who can afford a perfect house the first time around anyways?), but we started asking the real estate agent what to do if we were interested in the house. She recommended contacting a lender she works with that is located north of Seattle. So, from there.. we got started.

We were almost positive we wouldn't qualify for anything as we thought our debt to income ratio would be too high. So we said to the lender, "We're not sure we can qualify for anything, but we want to run some numbers just to see if we can.." I don't know how many of you are familiar with USDA home loans.. I for sure wasn't before moving up here. Much of the land up where we live is considered to be "rural" and qualifies for USDA home loans. First of all, there are income limits for family sizes (which luckily, we meet), and most importantly, you can put 0% down on a house with no PMI. That's the biggest thing. If you cannot save up 20% of your home purchase price, you need to pay PMI (mortgage insurance), which jacks up your monthly payment a couple hundred dollars. So, USDA loans are amazing if you qualify for one! It would've taken us forever to finish paying off our debts and save up 20% for a down payment at the same time.

So, the loan process was the worst part. Daily, we got e-mails like, we need this paperwork filled out, we need an explanation of why your income isn't at high as it should have been, what are your daycare expenses and why don't you have any, etc. We also had to explain old collections from like 2008, like when Graham had an unpaid speeding ticket that we didn't remember and an old lost library book. I was like I have no clue what this $108 collection bill in 2009 was. Plus, since Graham didn't have a job for a bit while he was in school, we actually had to obtain his transcripts to prove that he was in school and to provide somewhat of a "work history" during that time frame. It was form after form after form. Luckily, the mortgage company people were very helpful and had timely communication with us.

Then, the appraisal came in slightly lower than what we had offered for the house. USDA loans won't pay for much more than what the home is appraised at, so that was a problem. Thankfully, the seller came down to the appraisal price, which was pretty fair in my opinion. Then, the USDA loan paperwork had to be processed during the holidays (it was put in on the day after Christmas), which set it back a couple of days. Now, we are approved, and ready to close on January 20th. I know we have a lot more papers to sign with escrow and all that, but other than that, everything is set to go. The entire process has been exhausting, crazy, mind-blowing, and full of anxiety. The crazy thing is that everything has all been working out for us, and our mortgage will only be ~$50 more than our current rent payment (yeah, I know there are extra expenses like taxes and insurance, but still).

I am still in shock that we are going to be homeowners after what seems like forever. I see all these young 20-somethings buying houses and I'm all like, really? You're ready for that?? This has been our dream for a long time, and we are getting most of the things we want. Plus, there's room to grow and improve. Our life is finally moving along its course. Finally. We are set to close today!

FYI, I did not receive any compensation from Compass to blog about my story. I just wanted to be a part of their project!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Childish Argument

So, Carter and I got into an argument on the way home yesterday. Carter will often correct Graham and I or will argue against us, so this isn't an abnormal event. Carter got pretty upset and was in tears by the end of it.

So, we have a rule in our house that if you get hungry between daycare pick-up and dinner, you can eat fruits and vegetables as a snack or just wait until dinner to eat. We don't make many exceptions to this rule..

On the way home from daycare, Carter asked for a snack. I knew what he was thinking of--Wheat Thins. Of course, he would fill up on those and not eat dinner, so I reminded him of our rule of eating fruits and vegetables as a snack instead. He quickly got upset and started yelling that fruit "is NOT a snack! Fruit is for breakfast and lunch--not a SNACK!" I didn't back down, and asked him to stop yelling and settle down.

Then, he finally admitted what he really wanted--chocolate chips. His explanation: "Daddy gives me chocolate chips as a snack all the time. I just want to eat chocolate chips any time I want!"

My answer, knowing that that is likely not true: "Well, Daddy was being naughty if he was giving you chocolate chips for a snack because chocolate chips are a treat."

His response: "Daddy was not being naughty! He was being nice!"

So, I got out of the car to fill up the gas tank at the gas station. It had problems accepting my card, so I was out for a good 5-10 minutes before sticking my head back in, when he yelled at me, "Fruit is not a snack!!"

Oh, Carter, don't ever change.. Or do change and stop arguing all of the time.