New Year, New Attitude

January 1, 2012


A few major things happened to me in 2011.

1. I lost my Dad.

2. I lost a significant amount of weight.

3. I became a columnist.

I’m not quite sure how all three things happened at once, but they did.


I will forever miss my Dad, he was a beacon of strength in my life. And he was the ultimate believer in my writing.  He struggled with his own weight issues, and he would have been so proud to see me slim down and find the answer I have been searching for.

I miss him terribly, but I had to keep going, he made me promise.

Maybe watching my Dad slip away reminded me that time goes by all too fast.  And now being middle-aged and all, it seems to slip by faster than ever.  Many days of my last decade were not used to their fullest potential.  Many of those days I wallowed, I wasted, I wept through. Now I feel like I can no longer sit idly by and watch my life as the years pass.  I have been forced, if not willed, to engage in it.

So I found my drive again.  I found purpose and hope for brighter days.  And I feel really good.  I never realized just how crappy I felt until I really started to feel good again.  Funny how that happens.

I now understand what the food I eat does to me, how it makes me feel.  How it reacts in my body.  That is quite a discovery.  I know that when I over-carb I’m listless and bloated.  I know that salads packed with anti-oxidents like peppers give me energy.  I know that I can handle sugar if it’s in small doses like a square of dark chocolate;  but anything more than that feeds the sweet monster inside and makes me crave it all the more.  I know that lean proteins like fish, chicken and steak give me power and energy to make it through the day and if I skip them at a meal I start to lose strength.  And I know that combinations of alcohol, fat and carbs make me gain inflammatory weight immediately and it takes me a good week to undo the over-indugence of just one night. Not to mention it makes me feel kind of crappy.

My diet now consists of many more healthy, clean options.  Many more whole foods, herbs, vegetables and fruit, lean proteins and very little carbs and processed foods.  And, you know what?  I truly like it. I feel much more energized this way and I don’t feel deprived at all. I think the things that we in society think of as “treats” really aren’t treats to our bodies.  Those carbs we think of as comfort food, really drag you down.  The bad fats in fried and fast foods and sugar-y desserts we may covet cause inflammation in our bodies and lower our resistance to disease.

I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to figure all this out, but now that I know this, I feel armed and ready to take on the rest of my life with good health on my side.

I’ve written before how I was living about 80% natural, that I had good habits for the most part but how there was still 20% of my diet that was questionable.  I think now I’ve increased that percentage to 93%, but I have a little work to do yet; it’s really hard to get past some of those life-long habits. But losing weight, eating healthy and making the connection between what I was eating and how it made me feel was a huge discovery.  In 2012, I plan on making that next leap to 100%.

My career path has been my other big attitude obstacle.  I have been so complacent in the last decade, figuring that most any job doing similar things would be nothing more than a lateral move, so why bother?  I have a decent job, ok pay, acceptable benefits…but what it lacks is room for growth.  And this year I discovered just how much “growing” really energizes me.

By going back to school and learning something new and challenging I felt my world open up again.  The ideas and energy started to flow back into my brain.  I no longer just thought about doing things, I actually did them and made accomplishments.  “Wanting” and “hoping” became a thing of the past and “doing” and “completing” have become my new norm. I’m proud to say that I have completed 3 semesters of classes, and have nearly a 4.0 GPA.

I also learned that by putting myself out there and trying, sometimes you get the answer you want.  Writing a column has been a long time dream of mine.  I submitted many articles to many papers and one paper decided to give me a shot. And 10 months later I pitched another idea, and they gave me a shot at that.  And then most recently, they asked me if I’d like to add another column, and now I’m writing a column at least once a month if not more.  That is pretty dang cool if you ask me.  And all I really had to do was ask.

Mostly I think I figured out that life doesn’t have to be all or nothing, we can do things in moderation – even to excess at times – but if we stay generally in the middle and persevere, we can handle the extremes.  Maybe it shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure that out, but it has finally, finally sunk in.

I think I must have a little angel sitting on my shoulder now.  When I feel stuck, he gives me a little shove to keep me going.  He dries the tears and wipes away the cloudy thoughts.  Maybe he gives me the strength to persevere, I don’t know.

But I do know one thing, attitude is everything.


Crazy Diet-But it’s Worked So Far

May 5, 2011

I have neglected my blog.  And I love my blog. 

Sorry. I was focused on myself this month.

I shook up my world in the last 5 weeks and did something a little crazy and a little controversial…  I went on a major detox diet.

I had to do something drastic to shake up my system to break my plateau.  And I’m glad I did.

It was amazing.

In 32 days I dropped 22 lbs and 22 inches. 2 pant sizes, a bra size, and a shirt size.  Even my shoes feel big.

It was hard.  Very hard. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

 A couple of days I cried because I wanted a potato with butter more than anything  else in the world.

The food was limited,  boring and repetitive.

No fats, no carbs, no sugars, no dairy.  Limited choices for veggies, fruit and proteins.  Small portions.  But good quality organic food.

I had success.  It was the first success I’ve had on any diet that I have done since the dreaded Deppo incident. 

I have to say though, I felt really good during it. I slept like a rock.  I had no indigestion issues whatsoever and I normally have issues with that. Not to mention,  my mental alertness and energy was fantastic. 

I’ve been searching for a way to reset my metabolism.  I know that something changed in my body when I did the Deppo.  For 15 years I have looked for a way to fix it.  I think I’ve found it.

But I’m not going to say what this whole plan is until I go through the rest of the phases to see if it actually is a permanent fix like they say.  Sorry but I don’t want anyone to do this if they don’t have to.

 Then I will have the solution for my book.

Lactose and Digestion

March 12, 2011

If you’ve read through any of my Natural Health articles you will see that I am on a quest.  I have struggled most of my life with my weight and energy levels.  Even though I ate healthier than most of my friends, even though I was out there riding bikes along side the rest of the gang, I still struggled…my energy lacked.

After years of dieting and beating myself up with negative self-talk about what a failure I was with statements like, ” I have no will-power”, “I’m lazy”, “I over-eat” …I decided instead to start figuring out just what the root cause of my issues were.  I started to love myself and accept myself for who I am despite the size of my thighs.

My quest has been to find the triggers and the key to unlocking the mystery of my good health.

I’d like to stress that my health is different from your health.  What works or doesn’t work for me may not yield the same results for you.  I’ve spent about $20,000 figuring out that very thing.  Doctor after Doctor told me to “exercise more and eat less”. (to use Charlie Sheen’s word,) Duh.  Or, that I was “pre-dispositioned to weight gain”.  Yeah, thanks for that revelation.   I can’t tell you how many times I was looked at with disbelief when I told them what I ate and how much I exercised. I was treated time after time as a number on a chart instead of as an individual.  Not one of those Doc’s ever asked me about digestion or tested me for food allergies.

Our health is completely individual and you really have to try many things and experiment to find your triggers.  You are lucky if you find a Doctor that will help you do this. If you haven’t found one, keep looking. I highly recommend a Naturopath.

Firstly I believe most of us are born with functioning metabolisms.  I say most, because I’m sure many are born with issues that plague us from start.  Like me, for example.  I was not a breast-fed baby. Research shows that breast fed children have better immune systems and lower adult body weight.  Interesting.  Much, much later in my life I found out that I am lactose intolerant.  When I told this to my Mom, she says “well that explains why you always used to throw up your milk when you were a baby”.  Hmmm – you think?. Doctors back then told her to use dried milk powder or go with skim milk instead.  And now, after much experimentation, I know that dried milk by-products are one of the things that irritate my stomach the most.  I have major digestive issues. And “digestive problems are an underlying cause of adult weight issues”.  Hmmm. Connected?  Why? One theory is, when the body cannot absorb the nutrients it needs from the food we eat, it will hold on to everything that is ingested in an effort to get proper nutrition.

So some of my triggers are dairy, dried milk proteins such as Casin and whey, in fact most any dried or hydroginated ingredient seems to give me heartburn.  Heartburn, by the way, is not triggered because your body is over-producing acid, it’s because you are under-producing enough acid to break down your food. So anti-acids only perpetuate the problem.  For me the key to digestion is taking supplemental Digestive Enzymes and eliminating the food additives that bother me.  Dried milk proteins being one of them.  Just doing those two things helps me sleep at night, allows my body to digest food properly, allows the nutrients to actually get into my body to work, and ultimately gives me more energy. That is just one trigger; and one example of how underlying food issues can affect us.

Isn’t it amazing how inter-connected things are?





February 10, 2011

So to follow up with my sugar saga I thought I’d let you know the results of my Sugar-Free experiment.

About 3 weeks before Thanksgiving 2010, I decided to go “off” sugar.  I was having several aches and pains and after some research I knew that inflammation was more than likely the cause of my pain, and that the inflammation was more than likely caused by sugar. Admittedly I have a bit of a sweet tooth, always have.

So in a brave move (I thought), before the holiday season I decided to give it a whirl.

Couldn’t hurt, right?

Actually, going sugar-less wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  Oh sure I had a few cravings, got a little cranky for a few days, had a few headaches, but my resolve was solid. I hung in there.  By the time Thanksgiving rolled around I was doing pretty good. My knee pain dissipated and the gotta-have-it cravings were no more.  I admit, I gave into temptation and had a tiny bit of pie. I’m sorry but it’s practically impossible to turn down my Mom’s homemade pie, in fact I think it’s a sin.

But I went back on the sugar-less wagon immediately there afterward.

By Christmas my knee pain was almost gone.  I couldn’t quite kneel on it, and I couldn’t bend it for any length of time, but the constant ache and stiffness that had driven me nuts every day for months was all but gone. Again, tempted by my own homemade chocolate chip cookies this time, I gave in.  Just for the record, I do make the best chocolate chip cookies – Ok Tammy if you are reading this, I may have stolen your recipe – but mine are really quite fantastic too and you just can’t give them out to people if you don’t try a few first, right?

Anyway, after the New Year I stuck to my guns and stayed off sugar again.

So now here it is coming up on Valentine’s Day, and I can actually say that I am pain-free.  Yes, I said it, pain-free.

I wake in the morning with no stiffness.  I can bend my knee for a fair amount of time without the ache and sharp pain when I straighten it again.  I can climb stairs without it feeling ever so weak. I can even kneel on it.

I do not, and did not, take anything for the pain.  No Ibuprofen, no muscle creams, no wraps or ice/heat treatments. I didn’t even do any strength exercises for it.  The only thing I did differently was eliminate sugar.  And you can see by my admissions I wasn’t perfect at that either. Because, if I had really eliminated all sugar, I would have had to give up bread too.

What is gone from my life?

Scones, muffins, pastries most any kind of sweet bread. – Not that I ate a lot of this kind of thing, but occasionally I indulged.

Soda Pop – although I rarely drank it, I did have a Coke once in a while.

Candy – mind you the only kind of candy I really like is chocolate so I didn’t really miss anything but that.

Ice Cream, Puddings, Sweet Yogurt – I’m lactose intolerant anyway, so these omissions did not really bother me.

What is also gone?

Bloating/Puffiness/Water retension



Those annoying aches and pains

12 pounds

My monthly zit

And, best of all, my larger size pants

Yesterday I had a particularly emotional Dad day and for some reason went temporarily insane. I stopped to get some groceries after work. I was very hungry and my blood sugar was really low. On a whim I bought a glazed donut and ate it on my way home.  After a nutritious dinner my husband whips out some pudding, I ate some of that.  Then I found a piece of chocolate in the freezer and ate that too.  I felt miserable. And what was worse was that I slept miserably. I awoke several times during the night and I had a bit of heartburn.  But mostly I just didn’t sleep soundly. And I usually sleep pretty well.

Today I feel hung-over.

I know that the sugar affected my sleep.  I know this because the other few times I’ve eaten sugar during this experiment, I didn’t sleep either.

I guess the purpose of my story here is to illustrate the effects that sugar has on your body.  We are programmed to eat sugar in this country.  The food manufacturer’s put it in everything.  It affects our digestion, our weight, our pain, our sleep.  Then they sell us a bunch of drugs to combat these annoying side effects.  Many times we brush these ailments off, thinking, “oh it’s just part of aging – that’s why I can’t sleep or that’s why I am gaining weight or have aches and pains”… but really what we ingest plays a tremendous role in how our bodies function, we just have to learn how to interpret what our bodies are saying.

The question is, are you willing to give up sugar to alleviate what ails you?  I am shocked, time and time again, by people who are not.  They would rather take anti-acids, weight loss aids, pain meds, sleeping pills and what not, spending hundreds of dollars a month so they can keep on feeding the sweet -monster inside. Aside from the enormous cost, think about the side effects all those drugs have on your liver.  Then when your liver is shot, think about the cost of a liver transplant – maybe that will sway you…

OK, I want to give your sweet tooth a tiny ray of hope.

Mid-experiment, although I really was’t craving sugar per se’, I was missing chocolate terribly. I called Nutritional Weight and Wellness (the local holistic wellness and nutrition experts) and asked their founder and head nutritionist, if eating dark chocolate would affect my blood sugar.  I told her my story and goal and she said that “a small square of dark chocolate, as long as it’s 70% cocoa or more PER DAY (yippee) would not affect inflammation and would actually be beneficial with the antioxidant properties in the dark chocolate.  As long as it was only one SMALL (1″ x 1″) square of a chocolate a day.”

So that was my saving grace. I keep a bar of Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt in my freezer and when I felt I needed something sweet, I ate – no – I savored, a tiny square.

It satisfied me completely.

World’s Best Appetizer – Ranch Stars

December 30, 2010

If you are having a holiday party and you need a fun appetizer, then look no further. I have the world’s best appetizer–Ranch Stars.  Now I like to give credit where credit is due.  I admit, I didn’t come up with this recipe.  An old friend brought them to one of our annual Christmas parties.  I’ve changed it up a bit since she first brought them, and that is what is so great about the recipe, you can add your own personality to them.  So Nicki, wherever you are…every time I make these I fondly think of you.


1-2 lbs  good quality sausage (I like Whole Foods Italian, spicy mixed with mild or whatever good sausage they have come up with that day) – browned well, cooled and drained

1 lg. red bell pepper minced

1 lg. green bell pepper minced

*Add or substitute yellow or orange bell peppers too.

1 med. jar of pitted green olives minced (remove pimento)

1-2 Jalapeno fresh peppers minced* (optional)

2 cups shredded cheese (mix Sharp Cheddar with Monterey Jack)

1+ cups of prepared Ranch Dressing (I like a Peppercorn variety)

1 pkg. Wonton Shells

Brown sausage, cook well, drain all fat, let cool.

Clean, core and de-seed the peppers. Slice into strips. Mince fine – 1/8-1/4″ pieces.

Mince olives.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Slowly add dressing until mixture is moist, depending on how much sausage/peppers you use, you may need more or less dressing, don’t over-coat.

In a pre-heated 350 degree oven, place wonton shells in a dry muffin tin, creating a little cup.  Bake for 9-10 minutes until lightly browned.  Repeat until all shells are cooked.

Fill shells with mixture, a good heaping spoonful will do.  I make a plate full at a time. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts, serve immediately. These will go fast so be sure to have a second plate ready to go into the microwave.

This is a great recipie to play with.  You can add mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes or go Tex-Mex and add corn, black beans and jalapenos. Add your favorites to make them unique.

I make these for my family at Christmas, in fact, I’m not allowed to even come to Christmas unless I bring them.

These make a great appetizer to bring and share.  Can be made ahead of time, travels well.  Keep meat mixture in sealed container.  Will keep for up to 5 days.  Keep baked wontons in a separate air-tight container until ready to fill.

This mixture is versatile too.  The next day you can make ‘Ranch Star Omelets”, simply warm a couple tablespoons of the mix and place it in the center of your cooking eggs. Or, make “Ranch Star Quesadillas”.  Place in a tortilla shell and brown.  Or “Ranch Star Nachos” spread across your favorite chips and melt. Because of the versatility I tend to make enough mixture so we have left-overs, 2 lbs of meat and an extra pepper does the trick and keep a small bowl aside for us at home.

As appetizers go they are fairly healthy.  Using a good quality lean sausage and a variety of vegetables gives them a fair amount of protein and nutritional content.  Ok the cheese and the Ranch dressing is a little fattening, but hey, if you don’t over-do it they won’t hurt you.

Allow a good hour for prep-time.

Sugar-less the Saga Continues

December 6, 2010

Well It’s been a good month since I went on the sugar-free wagon.  I admit, I did indulge over the holiday.  I had a very small slice of my Mom’s homemade apple pie and a very small slice of pumpkin pie a few days later.  But other then that, I’ve been doing really great.

The funny thing about eliminating sugar is that when you do get it out of your system, you just don’t crave it or have a taste for it anymore.  Everything seems sweeter, and not in a good way.  I use Stevia in my morning coffee and have even had to reduce the amount I use as my sugar tolerance has changed.

But I went off sugar as an experiment.  I wanted to see if it would affect the inflammation in my knee.  And it has.  It took a good solid 3 weeks.  And after that my knee started feeling better.  One could probably argue that any type of injury would feel better after three weeks, and yes, that may be true.  But the aches that have been traveling around my body in the last few years were not injuries.  They were simply unexplained pain.  With my shoulder it was a deep aching immobility of the joint. The elbow, unexplained weakness.  My knee, a dull throb and locking up of the joint when it’s either bent or straight for any length of time.  I’ve had the pain for several months, and in a few short weeks the pain has dissipated.

I find that interesting. Especially when no other therapy has changed the pain.

I also find it interesting that when I tell people of these results that they will find every excuse in the world to not change their own habits to alleviate their own pain.

So many times I’ve heard, “well I don’t eat that much dairy, or bread, or sugar” when in fact, when it comes to inflammation and the things that cause it, any amount is too much.

The average American eats 150-170 pounds of sugar a year.  More then 22 teaspoons a day, teenagers closer to 34 teaspoons a day.  That is staggering.  You would never just sit down and eat a cup of sugar would you?  Of course not, it would make you sick.  But we are doing just that, it’s just hidden in our food.

So after Christmas I thought I’d give up gluten too, and see what happens there.  And eventually dairy, even though I think “I don’t use that much.”

Is it all downhill from here?

November 25, 2010

Life has been a bit chaotic for me and my blog is suffering a little. I’m just running out of time to post often, so for the next couple weeks I’m going to re-post some of my favorites.


I spent yesterday afternoon in the ER. I’d been having heartpalpitations for about 5 days.

I wasn’t overly worried at first, but it was something I never experienced before. Yesterday they were coming every couple of minutes. The faster they came, the more I panicked. Since heart problems run in my family on both my parents side, and I could stand to lose a few pounds, I started to worry. Anyone I mentioned it to said, “get checked out, youdon’t want to mess around with your heart”. The last straw was my Doctor’s office refusing to even let me speak to my Doc about it. All they said was, “get to the ER, now!”

Oh Crap, now I’m scared. I drove myself to the closest ER in the city. Too urban for me, no place to park, suspect looking people lurking about. I started to cry. I called my hubby. “What do I do? I don’t want to be here.” I went to the closest suburban hospital instead. I felt much more at ease in my old stomping grounds.

There was no one in the waiting room, Thank God. I was really afraid I’d have a bunch of H1N1 sickies sitting there snogging all overeverything. The front desk gal called me “hon”. “Whatcha here for today hon?” Like I was ordering soup or something. “Chest Pains”. “And who brought you in?” “Me.” She got me a wheelchair and with the biggest smile on her face she could muster said, “how old are ya hon?” “43.” She laughed, “it all goes down hill from there…”

Great. That’s just great. I thought I was doing pretty good. I’m a pretty healthy eater. I take my vitamins, I do yoga and meditate. I’m somewhat active, a jock I aint, but I get around. And now I find out that despite all my effort, resistance is futile. I’m going down with the rest of them anyway… Crap.

So I got all these tests done, they had me all wired up. Took my blood, stabbed me a few times to find a good vein, that’s always fun. My hubby could see the palpitations on the monitor as they happened. He kept making silly jokes and naughty innuendo’s to see if he could get the lines to dip – he needed something to do to pass the time.

They came in no less then 5 times to ask me my name and to verify my information. Did they think that I was going to keep switching rooms or something? I was connected to the bed with 50 wires, just where exactly was I going to go? I couldn’t leave to go potty without getting the nurses permission.

So what did I find out? I’m fine. Apparently I have an irregular heart beat that is fairly common. For some unknown reason it decided to manifest itself this week an make itself known. They said it was probably stress related. Ironically in the last few weeks my stress level has dropped about 50%. I got some of my pay and hours back at work. The ridiculously busy summer I had at work has slowed to a workable pace. My writing submissions have been met with a good response. I have been more calm this week then I have for the last 6 months.

I thought I was on an upswing.

Of course now I have something new to stress about. I figure my little ER visit is going to cost me about 3Grand. And, I have a $5,000 deductible, so none of it will be covered. I swear sometimes my life consists of one step forward and two steps back. And now there is the whole “going downhill” thing I have to worry about.

A few summers ago we went up to Duluth for the weekend. We brought our bikes and thought we were taking the leisurely trail along the lake. It ended up being 2 miles straight uphill. We pushed our bikes most of the way, ever try to ride a recumbent up a hill?, it doesn’t work. But when we got to the top, the view was great. Without hesitation I hopped on my bike, turned and gave a wink and a smile to my hubby and took off down hill. I yelled”Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” all the way down. Best two minutes of my life. No cares, no worries, just the wind in my hair and a smile on my face.

If we have to “go downhill” as we age, don’t you think it should be like that?

No cares.

No worries.

Just the wind in your hair and a smile on your face.


November 12, 2010

It’s been 11 days and 17 hours since I’ve had any sugar. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Honestly though, I thought I’d be going nuts.  But actually, I have to say I’m doing pretty good. I thought I’d be all headache-y and crabby.  But surprisingly, I’m not.

Ok, yes maybe I’m a little crabby, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the sugar. It has more to do with my crazy workload and the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner I’m hosting.  So that doesn’t count.

I have been having a lot of knee pain of late.  In fact in the last several years I’ve had issues with one part or another in my body hurting.  And everything I’ve read has lead me back to sugar as the root cause.

So, I gave it up.  I’m off sugar.

I won’t say I don’t think about it, I won’t say I don’t miss it. Because I do miss it.

But the thing that has surprised me most is that I’m really not craving it.  I used to have moments at 2 or 3 in the afternoon where I could not focus on my job because I kept thinking about having something sweet.  Many times I actually left my office to go get something.  But I haven’t  felt that way.  When I did get a twinge, I ate an apple or a clementine.  That seemed to take care of it.

The other weird thing is that my appetite has decreased and I’m feeling fuller faster. I wasn’t expecting that positive side effect.

I did this as an exercise to see if it would affect the inflammation in my knee.  And I have to say, honestly, it’s helped.  It didn’t start feeling better right away, in fact, it got worse before I got better.  But after about 10 days, the pain started to dissipate. Today was the first day in about the last 3 months where upon waking I was able to get up and walk to the kitchen without having to limp. I’d say that’s progress.

So far, so good.


November 5, 2010

I have struggled with my weight most of my life.  Not that I was a big eater, not that I ate poorly.  I was a busy kid, just as busy as my friends. Not active in team sports, but I rode my bike, walked and  played right along with the rest of the kids.  But still, I was always a little chunky.

We weren’t junk food eaters at my house, in fact I don’t really ever remember my Mom ever bringing home soda pop or potato chips unless it was a special occasion.  Meals were primarily home cooked. But we all did have a sweet tooth.  “Treats” were occasional and coveted.  If you didn’t get it right away when Mom brought it home, you probably wouldn’t get any later.  That is most likely when my (I won’t call it addiction) sugar affair began.

After I hit 40 I started to notice that I was getting achy.  For about 2 years I had “Frozen Shoulder” ( a mysterious affliction most often attacking women over 40 with thyroid and weight issues – hmm sound familiar).  It wasn’t overly painful, but it made unhooking my bra, sleeping on that side of my body or downward dog completely unbearable.  When that finally went away, the pain moved into my elbow. Again I could live with it but lifting anything, even my purse, was practically impossible, I simply had no strength.  Nine months later the elbow thing passed and suddenly my thumb was useless.  It’s a throbbing, deep aching pain, to open a jar or type…well, it aggravates me still.  And most recently, my knee has started  bugging me.

So here I am, 40-something and feeling a bit older then my years some days.  I know I need more exercise, my desk job and extra-curricular computer activities keep me, for the most part, seated.  But the pain is making it very difficult to want to exercise.

So that brings me to my topic.  Inflammation.

I have this customer that came into my office last winter.  A very fit guy in his 40’s. This guy is a ball of energy.  But last winter he comes in walking like a man of 90.  Kind of shuffling his feet, barely able to lift his arms.  He was embarrassed that he had to ask me to lift a small box for him and bring it to his car.  When I asked him what was wrong he said he had been diagnosed with some rare form of arthritis similar in nature to Rheumatoid Arthritis. My heart went out to him.

If you know anything about RA it is a debilitating pain.  Your body gets so locked up it takes hours for you to get moving in the morning and even small tasks like putting on a coat can bring a man to tears. And the scary thing about it is that the medications that they give you are very potent.  They block your immune system and leave you very susceptible to illness.

A few months later I saw my customer again.  He was moving a bit better with the big-time drugs he was on, but he still had a lot of pain.   Then about a month ago he came into my office, moving like a young man again.  It was so visibly noticeable I had to ask what he had done.

His reply, “ I did the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.  I gave up sugar, gluten and dairy.”  He went on to say that the difference that it made in the way he felt was remarkable.  He said it took a good 3 weeks before he felt the difference, but after a month he said he was pain free.  Pain free.  That’s astounding.  He was going off the scary meds and determined to follow through with this new way of eating.

So what do sugar, gluten and dairy have in common?  They are all inflammatories.

Sugar probably being the most prominent.  It is amazing the number of foods we eat regularly that break down into sugar in the body.  Practically everything now a days.

Inflammation causes a number of ailments from aches and pains to heart disease and then some.

So a few days ago, I decided to go off sugar too.  I ate a fair share of fun size candy bars nearing Halloween and by the day after, my knee was screaming at me.  I’ve known for some time that I needed to get the sugar out of my life.  I read about it, I listen to a nutrition program on the radio that talks about it all the time.  I knew that it was one of the final obstacles that I needed to tackle in my quest for better health.

So 4 days and 5 hours later I have not had any sugar, despite a few cravings and being offered some delectable looking peanut butter cup cookies last night, so far, so good.

I feel a little headache-y, but I also feel a little less puffy.

My goal is to really eliminate dairy and reduce the amount of gluten too, but I wanted to take baby steps.  I’ve weaned myself off dairy for the most part.  Only giving in to a little cream in my morning coffee and some occasional cheese.  And I’m working on the gluten thing too.  I’ve found a Quinoa pasta that tastes like the real thing and I know that there are tons of gluten-free products out there so I’m not so worried about the adjustment there.

I feel compelled to do this. Compelled to see if it will work for me.  To see if it is truely the last obstacle that is keeping me from losing the weight I have struggled with for so long.

Great Soup! Chicken Barley Sweet Potato with Dill

September 26, 2010

I’m not the world’s greatest cook.  Mostly because I don’t really have time to cook. But when I do cook, it’s actually pretty damn good.

For the last two days it has rained.  In some areas of the state we got 12″ of rain. Today was one of those days that the wind just went right through you. Fall is here, temps are dropping like a rock and it just seemed like the perfect kind of day for soup.

On today’s menu: Chicken Barley Sweet Potato Soup with Dill

I made this once before and it was de-lish!  Of course I’ve strayed from the original recipe, but my theory with soup is, it really doesn’t matter what you throw in that pot, it’s probably going to come out ok.

2-1/2-3 Qts of Chicken stock  (use about 2-1/2 and save a little for the next day in case the soup gets thick)

3-4 stalks of celery – coarsely minced

2-3 carrots chopped – or a 1/2 bag of mini carrots cut

Lg onion – minced

3-4 cloves of garlic – I like to grate garlic

1 lg. Parsnip – Grated – I don’t know what this does exactly, but it adds alot

2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil

a bit of butter

2 Cups cooked chicken or Rotisserie Chicken – cubed

1-1/2 Cups barley

2 Sweet Potatoes – cut in cubes – I like the white sweet potatoes, not as sweet but either will do

Fresh Dill – about a half or more package, cut

Sea Salt and Pepper

Add olive oil/butter to pan along with onion, garlic, celery and carrots – cook about 8 minutes to soften.

Add parsnips, chicken, barley and chicken stock – bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes or so.  In the last 15 minutes add the fresh dill.  The dill makes all the difference in the world to this recipe.

This is kind of one of those soups that is better then next day, but it might thicken up. Use some reserved stock if it does, you may need to adjust the seasoning.


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