January Challenges

IMG_5989Last year I did a 365 project around cooking. It was fun, but I wanted to do something different this year. I wanted to focus on a number of things I want to achieve but do it in baby steps. These aren’t really goals they’re challenges. I plan on tackling five challenges each month. Sometimes I may repeat challenges if I don’t feel I did the challenge justice. Sometimes I may do something related to a previous month’s challenge even if I want to push myself further.Β  I may do challenges that are unrelated to other ones. We’ll see. I have ideas, but I’m allowing myself to be flexible. I’ll go into these specific challenges in more depth in other posts this month but they are:

1. Duolingo: Practice my French every day this month.

2. Read 4 Books: I have a challenge to read 50 books by the end of the year so I want to get into a good rhythm.

3. Eat Whole Food: The holidays are horrible for me. It’s sugar central! I want to get back to basics and detox in a healthy way.

4. Write Every Day: I used to write every day whether it was a blog post, working on an essay to submit for publications, or just journal/brainstorm.Β  I want to get back to that place.

5. Plan for 2018: I want to plan out what I want to work on and towards this year.

 

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Goodreads Challenge

 

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GoodreadsΒ 

 

I’m not doing a 365 challenge like I did in 2017. Instead, I’m doing several mini challenges which I’ll roll out on the blog and Instagram throughout 2018. One challenge that I’ve done the past few years is the Goodreads reading challenge. In 2017 I had a goal of reading 40 books in a year. I ended up reading 46. This year I’ve upped that goal to 50. If you are looking for something new to read here are the books I picked up in 2017 along with my Goodreads ratings on a scale of 1-5 stars, five stars being I loved it.

Fiction:

Cold Comfort Farm 🌟🌟🌟

Cybele’s Secret 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Handmaid’s Tale 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Jamaica Inn 🌟🌟🌟

The Secret History of Twin Peaks 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Signature of All Things 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Something Wicked This Way Comes 🌟🌟🌟🌟

State of Wonder 🌟🌟🌟

Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Wildwood Dancing 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Non Fiction:Β 

All The Single Ladies 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

American Heiress  🌟🌟

The Art of Memoir 🌟🌟🌟

Celebrate Everything 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Food for the Soul 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Heroine’s Bookshelf 🌟🌟🌟

Just Enough Research 🌟🌟🌟

Reflections 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Steering by Starlight 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Cookbooks:Β 

21 Day Sugar Detox 🌟🌟🌟🌟

21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook 🌟🌟🌟

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Autoimmune Wellness Handbook 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Cooking Price-Wise 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Gone with the Gin 🌟🌟🌟

Juice 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Simple French Paleo 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Thinner in 30🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Virgin Diet  🌟🌟🌟

Memoirs/Biographies:Β 

How to Be a Woman 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Hunger 🌟🌟🌟

My Lucky Life In and Out of Showbusiness 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

My Kitchen Year 🌟🌟🌟

The Princess Diarist 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Negroland 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Graphic Novel:Β 

Adulthood is a Myth 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Spirituality:

Chakras 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Crystals, Colors, and Chakras 🌟🌟🌟🌟

For This We Left Egypt 🌟🌟🌟

The Little Book of Hindu Deities 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Myths of the Asanas 🌟🌟🌟

A Religion of One’s Own 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Sadhana of the Heart 🌟🌟🌟

What’s Your Dosha Baby 🌟🌟🌟

 

365 Project: Recipes 301-315

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Sorry I haven’t been posting as frequently. I have some exciting announcements coming in the near future which will explain that. In the meantime, though we’re getting to towards the end of 365 project. Here are 15 more recipes. Some of them may prove to be good for some last minute Thanksgiving inspiration.

301. Cherry Carob Shake

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Source: Original

Notes: While on AIP I couldn’t do chocolate so I did a shake with carob powder, cherries, and coconut milk. If you are doing AIP you can also add collagenΒ protein.

Rating: Liked

302. Rosemary Roasted Radishes

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Source: Eat the GainsΒ 

Notes: These were an amazing substitute for roasted potatoes.

Rating: LOVED

303. Tarragon Steak

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Source: Original

Notes: I made a dry rub with tarragon, salt, and thyme and pan seared a steak in coconut oil for four minutes per side.

Rating: Liked

304. Cranberry Fig Ice Cream

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Source: Autoimmune Wellness

Notes: This was more tart than sweet.

Rating: Okay

305. Pumpkin Sausage Soup

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Source: Beyond the Bite

Notes: I made this in the crockpot for 8 hours on low heat.

Rating: LOVED

306. Saffron Shake

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Source: Unicorn KitchenΒ 

Notes: I adapted to this to make it AIP compliant. I used coconut milk products and omitted the cardamom.

Rating: Liked

307. Crispy Orange Pork

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Source: Real Everything

Notes: I have been finding that I am really sensitive to soy which is in almost every Chinese dish. This AIP recipe satisfies that craving.

Rating: Liked

308. Butternut Squash Fries

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Source: Cute FettiΒ 

Notes: I also sprinkled a little nutritional yeast on these.

Rating: LOVED

309. Turmeric Shake

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Source: Lifeway KeiferΒ 

Notes: I did coconut milk instead of Keifer.

Rating: Okay

310. Fall Egg Bake

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Source: 40 Aprons

Notes: This would be amazing for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning breakfast.

Rating: LOVED

311. Sunchoke and Asparagus Salad

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Source: Well and Good

Notes: More of a spring recipe but still tasty.

Rating: Liked

312. Sole Almondine

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Source: Closet CookingΒ 

Notes: I used sole instead of trout.

Rating: Liked

313. Lamb Meatballs with Garlic and Spinach

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Source: AutoImmune Cookbook

Notes: I would try this with beef or turkey in the future.

Rating: Liked

314. Broccoli Leek Soup

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Source: Sweetpeas and SaffronΒ 

Notes: I made this in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours.

Rating: Liked

315. Carob Coconut Ice Cream

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Source: Original

Notes: I mixed carob powder, coconut milk, and carob chips in an ice cream maker. This would work better with chocolate or if I had added sugar or natural sweetener. Carob is too bitter.

Rating: Pass

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Habits vs Resolutions

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In January we tend to start the year of with lofty resolutions that if you’re like me and most people you tend to abandon by February. This year I’m saying adios to resolutions and instead focusing on habits that I want to improve on this and every year. So here are my goals for 2017:

Be healthier: I think the most common resolution around the new year revolves around weight loss and health. I don’t want to focus on a number on the scale, how many gym visits I fit into a week, or how much I can bench press. Instead, I think better goals are to be active and know when my body needs a rest day, eat good and nutritious food that I enjoy, and most importantly feel good about my body and how I look. To get to that place it’s not about being “perfect” it’s about being hydrated, wearing clothes that make me feel great, and getting the proper amount of sleep.

Cook more: I’m a foodie and I love going to restaurants and trying new dishes and cuisines. Even more satisfying is expanding my own repertoire in the kitchen. I have a lofty goal of making 365 new (to me) dishes this year. I’ve made six so far so we’ll see how this goes.

Save more and spend smarter: The past few years I’ve had some things come up where I’ve had to dip into savings. I want to have a cushier net and I want to be more mindful about spending.

Be better organized:Β Β I keep busy with lots of different things in my life and when everything is full steam I get a bit scattered. I also can loose site of the big picture and that’s when things get out of balance. I am trying a Passion Planner this year to keep everything in one place and to make sure I’m spending my time well.

Write more: I don’t just mean blogging, I used to do more freelance writing and last year felt very blocked. I want to work on more pieces that mean something to me and send them out into the world.

Those are my larger focuses for the year which are playing out in some smaller projects, but more on that in the future. What are you concentratingΒ on this year?

 

Rewarding Yourself

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Yesterday’s post was really hard for me to write and I want to thank the outpour of support I’ve received from friends, relatives, and kind people I don’t know but who read this blog. No matter what the outcome this is going to be a lifelong journey, but honestly I knew that was the case when I made the decision to get a lap band. The lap band was a tool, an amazing tool, but remember even the most expensive wrench will do you no good if the plumber isn’t using it correctly. It was me not my lap band that took up running, yoga, and dragged myself to the gym. It’s true that the band helps you feel fuller faster but it was me not the band who choose to choose a small portion of salmon over a small portion of chocolate ice cream as I was losing weight.

During that weight loss process, I made sure to reward myself for milestones. I’m planning on doing the same with this journey to lose the few extra pounds I put on during the slip and to maintain that weight. I think rewarding yourself is important when you’re striving towards any goal. If you’re not looking to loose weight you may be embarking on an academic or career challenge, perhaps you’re trying to increaseΒ your distance as a runner, or maybe you’re just trying to watch less TV. Whatever your goal is you can break it down into smaller goals because you will hit those faster. You should have small rewards in place for when you hit those marks. I like to break things out into quarters as well and give myself a midsize reward when I hit those and I give myself a big reward when I hit my final achievement.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these rewards if your budget is tight. You just need to make sure the treat is something you really want and something that will keep you motivated towards your end goal. When I was going through this weight loss challenge I never used food as a reward because that seemed counter intuitive. I set myself up with small milestones like losing 4 pounds a month since that averaged to about a pound a week if I hit that goal I’d treat myself to a pass for a new fitness class I was dying to try, a ticket for a movie I’d passed on earlier because I didn’t want to miss a scheduled workout, or a new tube of lipstick.

My quarterly goals were when I hit certain weight loss milestones. By that point I would have dropped a size or two and rather than taking my pants in again, I would treat myself to a new mini wardrobe. When I hit my final weight loss goal I bought myself a fabulous dress that may not be what most people consider expensive but for me, at that time it was an investment.

So to kickstart this new challenge I took myself out for a haircut. I know that seems silly and maybe not like a reward, but I have to say whenever I get my hair done I feel amazing. Amazing is a great way to feel when you embark on a new challenge. What rewards do you give yourself for a job well done?

 

Challenged Not Defeated

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In 2010 pre lapΒ band

I’ve been very open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band over six years ago. With any type of weight loss surgery, there are risks and you cross your fingers that those complications won’t happen to you. Well, I learned a few months ago that I’m one of the 2-9% of patients who suffer from a band slip. This is when the band slips out of place. It can cause all sorts of complications. This slip probably occurred sometime last year and it is most likely that is what triggered my acid refluxΒ (GERD). My symptoms had gotten worse over the past few months and sometimes eating could be really uncomfortable. I put on a few pounds because I couldn’t digest healthy foods like lettuce, lean protein, and etc. There were days where processed foods and high sugar items were all I could tolerate.

When a lap band slips the common course of action is to have another surgery to reposition it. I was hoping to do that as soon as I found out about the slip, but unfortunately,my current insuranceΒ has lots of restrictions around bariatric surgery and wouldn’t approve my surgeon because his hospital isn’t what they consider an “Institute of Quality” for this type of surgery.

So the past few months have been spent working with insurance to see who they would approve for this surgery, going through all the pre-op testing, and having to meet with specialistsΒ because of other complications. I’ve always been borderline anemic but my iron levels have been so low that I’ve had to have several transfusions.

Monday I finally went for this long postponed surgery. Unfortunately,when I woke up they had more bad news to break to me. It seems my lap band was totally obstructing my stomach and the only safe course of action was to remove it completely. Β This has meant a slightly more painful post op experience than the original surgery, due to the incisions.

The real fear for me though is will I be able to maintain my weight loss without a band. My new surgeon said if I gain weight we can look into getting a gastric sleeve, but after this, I really don’t want to go under the knife again.

While curling into the fetal position and feeling sorry for myself seemed like a good idea at first, I knew I couldn’t do that. I would need to be proactive about this from day one. So in addition to following up with my surgeon post op, I’m also meeting with a nutritionist on a regular basis to come up with an eating and fitness plan that is healthy and doable. I’m also in the process of finding a therapist because I found therapy really helpful when I had my first surgery six years ago.

I pride myself on being a self-sufficient single woman but over the years I’ve learned that there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Yes, I’m disappointed but in all honesty, I don’t regret my decision to get a lap band. I’m determined to take this challenge head on.

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Post weight loss

Three Little Things: Part 3

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I’ve talked about getting out of a rut or a funk or whatever you want to call it over the past couple of months. For me, it was three small steps that made a huge difference. The first was to embrace and expressΒ gratitude. Β The second was to get out of town. This last thing that I’ve done which was by far the most challenging was to show myself a little self-love. Β I don’t like to make generalizations, but I do think that women in particular

I don’t like to make generalizations, but I do think that women, in particular,Β tend to rationalize that self-love is selfish. I know I often make excuses not to do something nice for myself. These range from I don’t have enough time, that costs too much, and when I’m at my lowest I tell myself I don’t deserveΒ something.

Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing some health issues. I’ve been open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band six years ago. I’ve been experiencing acid reflux over the past year or so which has progressively got worse. My surgeon did some tests and realized that my band slipped. This can happen and can be repaired through surgery. This would be fine except my insuranceΒ company is very restrictive of what hospitals they’ll approve for bariatric surgery. Even though I have a top surgeon from one of the best hospitals in the country, I can’t have him perform this repair.

I’ve been going through the process of appointments and tests threw a surgeon and hospital that are approved. It’s a long and tedious process and my symptoms have gotten worse as a result of having to put this off. Most people associate acid reflux with simply being heartburn and it can be that in it’s mildest form. My symptoms are a bit different and include chronic nausea and a sour taste in my mouth and stomach. I have night cough which is an unpleasantΒ condition where lying down causes the acid in your stomach to bubbleΒ up and…well to avoid being overly graphic let’s just say I spend a lot of time with my head over the toilet. My symptoms even produce other symptoms. As a result of regurgitating I’m often dehydrated, have insomnia, and in the mornings I frequently have migraines. You don’t need to throw me a pity party, I’m very good at doing that myself. I’m sharing this because this lack of control of my body makes me feel helpless at times and adds to this fear of not deserving good things.

The hardest part is food affects me. Foods that are typically thought of as being good for you can make my symptoms worse and some days overly processed and sugar laced products are my staples because they are they only things I can tolerate. This has resulted in some weight gain, not crazy weight gain but I’m about 10 pounds more than I’m comfortable with. That might night seem like a lot, but as someone who struggles with body image issues, I sometimes look in the mirror and think I weigh 1000 pounds or something.

This experience has been a reminder to love myself no matter what the scale says. I won’t ever be 1000 pounds and hopefully, this surgery gets approved and results in my feeling better and being able to maintain a weight that I feel comfortable with, but I can’t forget me from seven years ago. That morbidly obese girl should have given herself more love and accepted her beauty because while the exterior may be different I’m still her.

I’ve been trying to give myself a bit more TLC. I carve out time to write, I let myself say no way more than I ever have in the past if I truly can’t take something on, and I put don’t let myself leave the house till I feel good about how I look. That varies every day sometimes it’s as simple as throwing on some lip gloss and other days I might need to change my outfit four times, but the point is I always eventually feel like that person in the mirror is lovely and worth being loved by me and others.

How do you so yourself a little extra love when you need it?