Easy Enjoyable Travel And Still Lose Weight And Manage Chronic Illness

Wrote this in May of 2018: For the first time since I can remember, this past week I traveled and came back home weighing less than when I had left on the trip. I had more energy to endure the trip as well. I want to thank the guidance I have received from the books of Dr. Neal Barnard to help this miracle happen.  Saying it was a “miracle” is no exaggeration. Sticking with a low fat, 100% plant based diet with no added sugars or oils  has made it possible.

Everyone worries about gaining weight when they travel. For those of us with Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema, where it’s common to gain 12 pounds of lymphatic inflammation weight in ONE DAY, we typically dread traveling. It’s not because of calories, it’s because of too much activity, our legs being down too much, stress, lymphatic issues and eating inflammatory foods common to most people’s way of eating. For me it takes time off my feet and bed rest to lose those 15 lymphatic fluid pounds. It’s horrendously painful.  (Thanks Dercum’s Disease). How Someone Can Gain 15 Pounds In One Day Stanford Video

On this recent trip my husband had to drive us nine hours through three states, for me to see a specialist at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio for my Dercum’s Disease. Having just lost 32 pounds, lowered my LDL cholesterol 57%, and finally reduced my swelling and inflammation a bit from the lymphatic problems, I was dreading the problems a trip like this could cause.

Traditionally, my husband and I would eat fast food by frequenting drive thru places.  We wouldn’t have time to seek out places that served the foods I would need. If my appropriate dining options only offered ice berg lettuce in a dish, I would be driven back to eating what I simply couldn’t do again.  If I brought anything with me it would have to be raw. If the “raw” was not as tasty as I managed to make my food at home, I would be tempted to  eat forbidden food.

As it turned out, I found a way to stick to the foods that would allow me the energy to enjoy the trip AND keep that pesky 15 pounds of lymph weight from piling on. I even lost weight.

This is what worked for me and could work for you:

 1) For car trips, bring  your own food.  It was very easy  to stock our cooler with individual meals that included unsalted raw and roasted nuts, nutritional yeast, greens, riced cruciferous vegetables, meaty high fiber black beans, salsa and luscious strawberries.  The idea was to have them handy incase at any meal situation there were no appropriate food choices over the following 3 days.  The idea was also to make sure that there was joy in the meal through textures, flavors and color. My food was overflowing with life, balanced nutrition, and flavor.  I was happy to eat it. Never deprived.

Summer Strauberry salad

 

2) If you must eat out, look for places with at least a veggie burger and/or good fresh salad bar. Never did find a veggie burger but we did find places serving salad and fruit. If there isn’t a non animal protein source on the salad bar, have some nuts in a baggie at your disposal to toss on.  Here, fresh peas are the perfect protein. Most places have lemon slices and  that is perfect to use in place of salad dressing.

Summer Vegetable Fruit Salad

 

3) Be willing to be reasonably flexible when traveling with others.  The trip can’t be about just your needs, it has to respect the others traveling with you as well. Being able to compromise is key. For us the trade off was that my husband wanted to eat a certain style of food that I could not. I did the plate of vegetable toppings at a sub shop so he could get a sub. A man has to eat and on his own terms. I can still reasonably take care of myself and eat as well.

Another meal I ordered in a restaurant was a small pizza with no cheese but with a pile of mushrooms, side of roasted, with no butter or oil, carrots.  It was not 100% on target for how I usually eat, but it was a reasonable choice so my husband could at least eat something he preferred.  It was important to watch the size of the portion of the pizza that I ate for one that meal.  It was good to see my husband happy with what he ate. And I really enjoyed one bit of a diet splurge on eating part of the pizza for that meal. I could still enjoy the social aspect of eating in a pub with my husband.

 

 

4) Location, Location, Location .   Do a little research and see if a plant-based diet friendly store such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, or even Aldi is somewhere close to where you will be staying.  You likely will have to replenish your fresh food supply even if it’s just finding a package of raw nuts to toss on a simple salad you pick up on the way home.  We lucked out. There was a  Whole Foods store directly across from our hotel. Also a couple vegan friendly restaurants literally just feet away from where we stayed.

 

Summer Traveling Healthy Food Access

 

5) Build in time and opportunities to mentally and spiritually find joys that are not food related. This is important for those who feel they are giving up the fun food they equate with road trips. People tend to allow themselves foods that typically they wouldn’t normally eat. Gas station foods such as candy bars, soda pop, chips, and other road trip staples you want but say no to yourself regarding, can make it more likely that you will finally will give in. Find a different trade off. We were just an hour from my most favorite place while I was a student at Miami University. We took a detour to spend a few moments there. It helped me to stay connected to joys in life. It was an emotional spiritual luxury to spend time there.

Miami University Boat House At Duck Pond

 

6) Honor what you know to be true about your chronic illness. For me it means using a motorized scooter so that I don’t build up too much lymphatic fluid and lactic acid.  I didn’t over schedule myself.  There was rest and down time.

The medically successful visit to my specialist had a lovely time with my husband and enjoyed the food every step of the way. It was all so relaxing for us both.  I still got to celebrate that moment of victory when I weighed myself the first morning after returning home. Who says you can’t have it all?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Life Is Like An Infomercial, And It’s Pretty Darn Amazing!

Really, I have written and re-written the headline for a few hours on and off and it kept coming off as the title of an infomercial. Annoying for me at first, but there are some wonderful reasons why today’s topic sounds like something that everyone wants, because it is what everyone wants. No I’m not trying to sell you anything.

As a matter of fact a  billion dollars a day is spent on trying to avoid heart attacks and strokes. People do try to change their diets but the typical diet changes only alters their numbers downward by 10% on average.

What I did is being done more and more by people from all walks of life. For the last six weeks I’ve eaten a 100% plant based diet. No meat, fish, dairy or eggs, No added sugar or fake sweetners, and no wheat.

All I did was change my diet to a plant based diet for six weeks and there was a 57% drop in my bad cholesterol numbers, Also my high blood pressure normalized  and my blood glucose levels are now cut in half.  I also dropped 30 pounds.  All of that  is without exercise (nothing against exercise, in my case I’m disabled and unable to exercise).

Below is a plant based crust with no oil, topped with vegetables and homemade vegan parmesan cheese. Plant based means be creative. 

Pizza Good

 

“But”, you say, “what about your protein and calcium levels?”

The blood work after 6 weeks of eating like this shows that my protein and calcium are firmly in the normal levels. So I’m doing great. Between the beans, nuts, grains and greens, I get plenty of both protein and calcium plus iron as well.

I am both surprised by this and relieved. Would have been a bummer to see that LDL drop 57% and other positive changes, but for the plant based eating to turn out to be unhealthy.

I’ll be honest I had to really do some serious research.  I was forced to find a new way of eating.  I credit information found in documentaries and books written by researchers for helping me make sense of it all so I kept it healthy. (Would 6 weeks of eating nothing but Swedish Fish candies have been as effective? I doubt it).

Some of my favorites include the book and documentary “Forks Over Knives” that is on Netflix and I believe YouTube.  Books and studies written by Ornish, Dr. Neal Barnard, and those other doctors/researchers associated with “Forks Over Knives”.

It’s been like a rebirth.  The icing on the cake is that it’s improved my memory and ability to focus.

When you are disabled, and start qualifying for Senior Discounts, what more can an old lady ask for? I walked out of that doctor’s appointment yesterday as if I were selected to be Miss America. It was like winning the lottery.

Removing animal products from your diet, when you’ve done your homework, can be  safe and can possibly help to improve your physical and mental health.

It’s not hype. It’s just vegetables, fruit, beans and grains and whole lot of research and praying.

Below can you spot my before (April 2018) and 30 pounds lost  after (May 2018) photos? Hard to believe they are the same person, but they are. The rest are the foods that I came up with to enjoy. Recipes to come in future write ups. Note I have disabilities that make me swell up. The diet has helped to reduce the inflammation quite nicely.

 

Never Give Up On Your Health.

 

I’m not affiliated with any of this, but I want people to know about this. If you are around St. Louis, MO  on July 14th, 2018, please consider registering and attending the St. Louis Plant-Based Summit. Register Here

STL Plant Based Summit

 

The Changing Role Of Food In My Life

 

veggie meal burgers grilled
Mushroom-Carrot-Garbanzo Bean Burgers.

Food is a strong player in any person’s ensemble of tools to survive. Think of what you need to keep you on the stage of life and make your list of the roles food and other parts of your life play.  What are the needs they serve? Have you assigned the right life tools to the correct needs?

Think of it as a Playbill. You are the director so you can change all the “Players” whenever you like.

For me if there were to be a cartoon made of the transition in my life that food has gone through, it would be these two make-believe story lines:

1) One day my brain’s stage manager took to the mike, off in the wings, and made an announcement for my whole mind and body to hear:

“Due to reassignment, “Food” will not be playing the role of “Great Comforter”. Tonight the role of “Great Comforter” will be played by “Music”.”

2) Then a few days later he took to the mike again and let it be known:

“Tonight the roles of “Medication” and “Nutrition” will be played by “Food”, And the role of “Family Heritage” will not be played by “Food” It will instead be played by “Family Photos”.

Food has always earned its high level of respect in how it fits into our lives.  As I’ve indicated, for me food can wear many hats, some of them appropriate and some of them, well let’s just say there are better players for some of the roles.

I can’t think of a time when something meaningful happened where there was no food.  I remember that food was always central part of things.  My grandmothers and mom prided themselves on providing only the best for family gatherings. It was an important role they played and they knew it. It was part of the love.

Besides the obvious meanings of the holidays and special days and events, it’s funny how we equate food with them.  For my growing up family this is what the days meant in terms of food:

January 1st: ribs and sauerkraut

Easter: grandma’s Lemon Pie

Sundays at the other grandmother’s farm: fried chicken, roast beef, ham, green beans, dinner rolls, pineapple and marshmallow salad, muffins, mashed potatoes, noodles, cake and pie.

Forth of July: Waffles, candy apples,  breaded tenderloin

Friday nights Pizza and French fried pickles

Thanksgiving: Turkey, Capon, dressing, potatoes, scalped potatoes, pecan pie, cherry pie

Christmas: Same as Thanksgiving plus a ton of candy, summer sausage and cheese and crackers

Birthdays: A feast of whatever the person wanted.

Food was there as part of heart to heart talks. A bowl of ice cream was there whenever there was a reason to be sad or it was a bad day.

We had lots of body and brain activities including riding bikes, homework, friends to run around and play with outside. We did lots of camping trips,  took dance lessons, piano lessons, swim team, volleyball, and for a few years we played in the school band. I was in 4-H and in a girls club. Our lives were full ones, we didn’t just sit around and eat.  Yet food is what brought us together every day at the dinner table and when something significant happened, good or bad.

I took off for other parts of the country while in my 20’s. And food was always a reminder of home. Food was more than to feed me when I was hungry, it was a thread that kept fresh in my mind what I grew up with and with whom. It’s no different for many others  Just like when I was a child and I’d be offered a bowl of ice cream when sad, food had played my comforter way too often.  Those attachments are strong ones and the idea of no longer having them in my life seemed like parts of my life dying.

Just like people finding the right line of work, different parts of my life make more sense to fill a specific need I have.  There is a difference between being hungry and having anxiety.  I no longer  handle them the same way. Food resolves hunger and if smart about what food I eat,  it can treat my health problems. Food does not resolve anxiety. Meditation, good communication and a plan of action are my tools now for anxiety. No need to hand me a Hershey bar. No thanks.

Hunger And Anxiety…

…And never the twain shall meet.

So with less inflammation, and finding more clarity in my life, I am grateful that I finally broke the cycle of misusing food and starving my body of nutrients.  My rediscovering music and writing for anxiety has been just what I’ve needed.

The role of the character in this story who finally figured this out at age 55 is  being played by….”Me”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Body’s Fight For A Plant Based Diet

Featured

This is NOT a typical weight loss journey you hear about. I didn’t decrease calories and then started to jog in the mornings or joined a gym.   I am one of a significant number of women who look large because I have  lipedema. You will learn more about that as you read my blog.

I wrote this entry months ago. Please work with your doctor and check out the resources to get more precise details on the doctors whose research and books in the end has helped me calm the beasts known as lipedema and lymphedema. Also it’s helped with my diabetes and even at times my dercum’s disease and fibro.

There are great resources listed below. And if you want to get a feel for it all watch Forks Over Knives on YouTube or Netflix. It will give you a general idea. (note…there are other food selections you can use besides what you see on that program, so no worries)

              Super easy, homemade tasty veggie burgers, stuffed mushrooms, cashew cheese

Mutiny Of The Body

For the first time in 55 years, my body took control of itself and that meant only food it needed crossing my lips. I had not planned on ever being what some would call vegan or plant-based.  My body staged it’s own mutiny and took over the ship, so to speak.  It had quite a foe to defeat, the destructive monster my memories and habits had become surrounding food.

Without me even thinking about it, meat became intolerable to me, and then fish and dairy did the same thing.  So I embraced what my body was insisting and committed to a plant-based low fat diet.  I did this without reading anything about it. I became a fast student in learning all I could after that.  30 days later I’ve lessened inflammation, weight, and unhappiness.

My Body’s Opponent

I was raised on rump roasts, noodles, potatoes and gravy. eggs and bacon,  pizza with mounds of sausage, pepperoni and animal fat cheese on Friday nights , lots of bread made with white flour. The vegetables were there but usually from a can.  Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ,with that glow in the dark powdered cheese that would be combined with margarine and milk to make the cheese sauce, was served a few times a week as a side dish usually with meatloaf. My dad would pile his plate high with food. My grandfather, mother and father were all overweight.  Night time was a time for sweet snacks and my mom called it “a party”.  If anyone was sad, well there was always ice cream and lots of wonder bread waiting for them. All get togethers and visits included food, rich delicious foods that were meant to spread the love.  By age eight, I was a fat child who had been taught that food is comfort and comfort is food. Family and friends meant food too, and lots of it.

Also added into the mix and unbeknownst to me, I was predisposed to appearing large and blimp like even as a child. I have a condition known as lipedema as well as lymphedema. Even as a child that made one leg larger than the other. fat arms, and put a tummy on me. No matter what I ate or how much exercise, I was a big girl. They didn’t recognize such things back then about that non-calorie based weight gain disorder. Inflammation was terrible in someone like me. Extremely painful.

Having yourself blimp up when you are trying to live on soggy tuna fish sandwiches 5 days a week (my mom put me on weight watchers at age 8, really makes a kid insecure. Not talking calories, I’m talking about how the wrong foods, lack of nutrition, and inflammation  inducing foods made me balloon up even when eating lean fish and vegetables 5 days a week.

That was a great deal of inflammation swelling up all parts of my body. It put both traditional and lipedema fat on my body, dragging me down, and by more than a decade ago, making my rare disease Dercum’s Disease, worse to the point of disability. I was since, diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and always struggling to keep my sugars in control.

Thanks to my stint on the high animal fat  KETO diet, my cholesterol, blood pressure and heart rhythm suddenly required medication I had never needed before. (Don’t get me started on KETO. If you are doing KETO, get your labs done every couple of months at least).

I saw vegans and vegetarians over time and admired them. I always knew it was healthier but in no way could I have seen myself giving up the foods I had grown up on.  A change of eating like that would change how my household would handle social eating and going out to grab a bite. It would change a way of life I felt. So I refused to do it.

But then my body threatened to vomit if I didn’t change and it made most of the foods I grew up with pretty unappealing to me. It spoke and I listened.

The Fruits Of Going With What Your Body Tells You

In 24 days I’ve gone down 20 pounds exactly. The painful swellings have been greatly reduced. I’ve gone from being this nervous, confused, hungry woman going to stores grabbing processed vegan burgers and fake chicken to answer my mind’s need for a meat fix, to taking fresh whole foods and creating my own black burgers.

I had to eat at a diner and managed to make a meal out of oatmeal with nuts and sliced apple, and ate it with a side salad.  I’ve created vegetable non-meat meatballs, to have with zucchini spirals and fresh tomato sauce. Baked spaghetti squash,  pizza crusts with so many fresh veggies in it that it was green and tasty!

I turn down chocolate because I have no cravings. I have no desire for drive thru foods. I’m still in considerable physical pain from Dercum’s Disease. I’ve been depressed for moments when I’ve had to face my feelings instead of eating to hide them. The sun has always risen the next day. I don’t expect foods to taste like food use to taste.  Just because I’m not comfortable emotionally sometimes doesn’t mean that it’s wrong what I am doing. It’s all new to me and it’s an adjustment. I stand a chance to see how my body is suppose to feel so it’s worth it. I’m getting more nutrition than before. I will be getting blood work done.

So stay with me as I blog about this journey.  Below are the resources that started me on my way.

The actual book that started me on this journey. No counting carbs or calories! Yet it works on lipedema and diabetes for me!

 Dr. Neal Barnard, Washington D.C. Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine

The Daily Dozen check list you can use online or on your phone.