Natural and Whole foods – Looking ahead to lifelong habits

One of my challenges in losing weight is battling my tendencies to get more food for each point in the Weight Watchers food plan. Those zero-point foods become more attractive, and that’s the way WW intended it to be. If we focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, we will become healthier and lose weight.

However, a problem arises when we start manipulating foods with artificial flavorings and sweeteners in order to stretch out those WW points. When we start doing that, we aren’t learning to be satisfied with smaller portions, and we aren’t learning to rely on whole, natural foods.

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A few days ago I bought a diet lemonade (sweetened with Splenda) from Chick Fil A. Within a little while I had a headache. I’ve noticed that several times recently – a headache and usually stomach upset not long after drinking or eating something with artificial sweeteners. Yesterday I made a dozen muffins using a sugar-free cake mix as the base. “Sugar-free” typically means “sweetened with artificial sweetener,” and that was the case with these muffins. I ate one of the muffins for lunch, and all afternoon I’ve had digestive issues as a result. The rest of the muffins are going in the trash.

When I consider the fact that I started this WW health, fitness, and mindfulness journey in order to become healthier, then I don’t want to eat or drink anything that doesn’t foster that. Every now and then, I will still enjoy a Diet Coke. However, rather than a multiple-times-a-day thing, it is now something I consume maybe two or three times a month.  And that is okay for now. I may cut them out entirely at some point.

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My mother is 97 years old, and one of the reasons (I believe) that she has led such a long and mostly healthy life is that she sticks to healthy food: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain bread. She almost never eats pork, and she has lots of meatless meals.

No major insight for this post – just a reminder to myself of the importance of natural, whole foods. That will continue to be one of my focuses for my daily life.

Weekly Weigh-In – 11/13/2020

It’s Friday which means it is weigh-in day. When I suddenly gained approximately 5 pounds a little under two weeks ago, I assumed (incorrectly) that it was just a temporary water gain. However, I still have another pound to lose to get to my low weight of exactly two weeks ago.

However, I am committed to sticking with WW for life. So this is just a little bump on the road. When I started this journey in July, I would have been thrilled to weigh what I do right now.

Short term goal is to get to -15 lbs. Then it will be 5-pound increments for my goals. I’m particularly excited to reach -25 because that will be the lowest I’ve been since around 2005.

Review: Lakanto Drinking Chocolate

I saw an ad online for Lakanto Drinking Chocolate. Since I like the Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener, I decided to give it a try. I found it on Amazon and ordered a package. It was delivered this morning. Instead of brewing a cup of herbal tea, I decided to try the drinking chocolate. I made it using boiling water. Made with water, it is 0 points (WW Blue). It is sweet and chocolatey. Too sweet, actually. So I poured it out and decided to try it with unsweetened almond milk instead.

I heated a cup of unsweetened almond milk (1 point per cup – WW Blue) and it was much better. Still super-sweet, though.

I give Lakanto Drinking Chocolate 6 out of 10 stars. It’s good – a little too sweet for me, though. However, for those times I want something chocolatey and sweet, it might just hit the spot.

Now I’m trying to decide if I want to finish my cup of drinking chocolate made with almond milk or brew a cup of herbal tea.

October Totals

Total weight loss since I began on 7/19/2020 – 14.2 lbs. October was a good month for weight loss. That is interesting because it FEELS like I backslid somewhat during October. The initial enthusiasm I had started to wane. It was a “commitment versus motivation” time.

I will begin November with renewed commitment.

Weekly Weigh-In – October 30, 2020

It was a good week. I went WAY over my weekly points but it was mostly from two splurges. The rest of the week I stuck to the plan fairly well.

I’m still not moving as much as I’d like – and still not drinking enough water.

This week was good for catching up on medical appointments. I had a telehealth appointment to go over the blood test results from last week. Two things: A1C results were elevated. I need to cut out sugar. Uric Acid level was elevated (thus my two gout episodes). The doctor changed my BP meds to eliminate a diuretic that can cause higher uric acid levels. I added a magnesium supplement to my daily meds too. However other numbers were much improved – cholesterol and LDL and HDL.

I also had my yearly skin scan – and the doctor found ZERO concerns amongst all my moles and spots!

And finally I had my yearly mammogram. I don’t have the results of that yet, but it seemed evident that the technician didn’t see anything of concern.

It wasn’t a great week for weight loss, but it was a good week. I feel happy that I took care of medical appointments and those appointments ended up with mostly good reports.

Meal Prep: Quick and Easy Bread Dough

I made bread dough for the week – six portions worth. Two of the portions will be used for pizza (Recipe here). Two will be used for two meals of Pigs-in-a-Blanket (Recipe here) one for now, and one for a second meal that I will freeze for later. One portion will go for Cheesy Biscuits with Eggs (recipe here), and the sixth portion will be used for Chicken Pot Pie. That recipe will be posted later.

Forgive the goofiness! I watch my videos and think, “Lord, I bang things around in the kitchen like Julia Child – give directions and then have to reverse them, and then I get carried away weighing dough when it really doesn’t matter! That’s life and reality – at least my reality. Enjoy!

This is a great way to meal prep or the week. When the dough is already made and in the refrigerator, then those meals that use the dough are so much simpler to make.

You will see from the video that it’s easy and quick, too.

The recipe I use made 6 portions. Each portion includes 1/2 cup self-rising flour which is either 5 or 6 points (WW Blue plan), depending on the brand.

Herbal Tea: Is it really good for you?

A few weeks ago I decided to start a bedtime routine to hopefully help me develop the habit of going to bed earlier. I’m a night owl, and I frequently would stay up past midnight. I wanted to change that – not by much, but if I can regularly go to bed by 11:00, that would be great.

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The routine I’ve established is to brush my teeth, wash/tone/moisturize my face, put on my PJs, and then prepare a relaxing cup of herbal tea. I sit in my recliner and slowly sip my tea – savoring it – being mindful. When I finish the tea, I rinse the cup and put it away, and then I go to bed.

The research behind establishing a bedtime routine is that our bodies become accustomed to the pattern. So once that herbal tea hits my system, my body says, “Okay, I’m sleepy! Go to bed, Carol!”

I’ve been doing better on WW since I started this routine. I don’t know if there is a connection between the two or not. However, it is working for me, and I’m enjoying the variety of herbal teas that I’m trying. I’m drinking herbal tea during the day, too. As the weather gets cooler, I will likely drink it even more often during the day.

At night, I choose from a selection of my bedtime teas

And I have to mention that one thing that piqued my interest in herbal teas is that I’m a fan of the History Channel’s show “Alone.” And this past season, so many of the contestants talked about making tea from the plants they found growing around them. “How to make teas” was probably one of the topics that they covered in their “boot camp” before the competition started. And I can understand how knowing which plants to use and how to make the tea would be beneficial in a situation such as that.

This afternoon, I started researching herbal teas. I haven’t read much about them before now. I was eager to find out if herbal teas offer any concrete health benefits. And, by George, they do!

First of all, herbal teas aren’t really teas because they aren’t made from tea leaves. They’re called “tisanes” (I’ve never heard or seen that word before!) or, in more familiar language, they are “infusions.” They can be made from edible spices, herbs, fruit, bark, roots, flowers, or any combination of the aforementioned. An infusion allows you to enjoy the benefits of a plant in an easily digestible form. And just about everything I read extolled the benefits – even including the fact that usually if you’re drinking herbal tea, you’re not eating. Thus, it may help to control weight. LOL! “May” being the operative word in that last sentence.

I went on a bit of a buying spree when I decided to become an herbal tea drinker. I’d had some Two Leaves and a Bud tea at a restaurant a few years ago, and I loved it. So I got some of their “Better Belly Blend” and some “Chamomile.” Then I asked my Facebook friends for herbal tea recommendations, and bought some that they recommended.

Since stomach issues have always been a part of my life, I have a selection of teas that aid digestion. These are the ones I drink after meals. I can testify that they DO help!

The composition of an herbal tea determines the health benefits. For example, chamomile is good for relaxation, while ginger helps with digestion. Here’s a chart with some of the more popular herbal tea ingredients.

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The good news is that herbal teas are very popular, and you can find high quality teas in most grocery stores. Of course, you can get just about all of them from Amazon, although often you have to buy more than one box of them – which makes it a little less tempting. When you only drink 2-3 cups a day, you don’t need a dozen 15-bag boxes!

I wanted a tea box to hold all my teas! I love this one because it hold lots of varieties, and I can easily replace teas as I use them.

There are blends for just about everything. I bought some for sleep and some for digestion, but I also got a detox tea, and some that would perk me up a little, if needed.

Other teas I drink occasionally

I wanted a special cup for my tea, and decided this one that I made at Third Coast Clay when I went there with my 10-year old granddaughter in August was perfect. It’s the right size, and it is now my official tea cup.