Friday, December 29

The First Sign-Post on the Long Way Home

Today it is OFFICIAL!

I added this icon to my LC forum signature:

Starting: 482. Today: 381. 101 lbs lost so far.

Heh. Yay for me!

Edited to add a P.S: funny. I fell asleep for a short time early this evening and dreamed that someone reading my blog told me the yellow post titles were just not ideal. I explained how I tried to fix them back to red, that they made themselves yellow. This is what can happen when you fall asleep with a laptop open to a website on your lap! ;-)

Saturday, December 16

Painted Gardens

I totally forgot one of the main things I wanted to talk about last post!!

But it turned out so long I'll make a new one.

Cinderblock for your garden has good and bad qualities.

On the good side:

  • it is insulating weather-wise, as it is essentially a double layer of cement with air between

  • it has holes which will grow many things as well as the space you have in the beds. I once by accident grew a small bell pepper plant in one that went deep, and basil in a couple!

  • it is more affordable than most any other building material

  • it's heavy enough not much will mess it up even if you don't mortar it but just stack them neatly in cross pattern (the larger 8x8x16 anyway)

  • and they stack vertically so standing gardens for people with 'limited mobility' - whether from age, disability, overweight, or whatever - are very cool

  • If you have some obnoxious wall from a neighbor's yard, just put a row of brick 2-4 feet away from it and it'll become the other side of your garden, rather than the neighbor's ugly wall. :-)

On the down side:

  • it tends to absorb water a little, so the soil around the edges is prone to get dryer

  • bugs especially spiders just LOVE LOVE LOVE the "holes". Here is my advice: fill them to the top with SOIL and plant flowers in them rather than leaving them 'open'

  • I've heard rumor that cinderblock "leeches cement chemical into the soil" but you know what, I haven't had the slightest problem with plants growing amazingly, so either that is BS or the amount is simply too small and too near the very edges, which are constantly 'rinsed' as the watering happens, to matter. But in case it's true I should mention it here.

  • It's heavy as hell, so the initial setup is work.

  • Grey is not very cheerful. Ok that's trivial, but still. ;-)

There is one redeeming factor about having four "walls" on every garden bed though: they are PAINTABLE.

There is a product called Killz that is white paint that will cover and stop just about anything you can imagine, on just about any surface. But it's expensive, so just go to walmart and ask them for the local no-name equivalent. ;-) It's just as good it seems and it's vastly cheaper.

After that, you can paint anything you want on it, using outdoor paint or whatever. If your teenager is into graffiti, tell him to show you a beautiful picture design demo on paper, and you'll let him spray paint it on a garden wall. ;-) If you have small kids, have a Garden Party and say with the invitation to wear paint-clothes and that every kid gets a brick to paint their own a picture on. If you have anybody artistic around, they can make each brick a tiny work of art, or make a 'mural' on a whole wall. -- No more boring grey! It's a whole canvas of creative opportunity that your average garden-in-the-ground doesn't offer.

I'm hoping to do a little of this, this year. Er, either with templates or other people, because I have ZERO artistic talent. ;-) I'll post pics eventually!

Cinderblock Gardens and Organic Bug Issues

Someone asked me about the creation of the garden I showed pics of a few posts down. Here's a few pics from its construction.

If you can carry bricks and shovel and bend over, or can pay someone who can, it's easy to make. Just use cinderblocks to create a square a few bricks high. Fill it with soil and compost (google 'lasagna gardening' for good ideas on the content). Most landscaping companies will bring a whole truckload of compost and dump it where you want, if you live in an area where it's sold like that.

We have a local mushroom-growing factory, and they have to have totally new compost every growing cycle which is brief, and the stuff they used last cycle they sell off -- sometimes including edible mushroom spawn of course... we had a cluster of 8" white mushrooms we dug up that grew under our garden once! They're only 1-2 inches big in the store but I guess they just keep growing!

I do organic gardening, so I don't use any kind of pest killer. Generally I have a few approaches to this:

1. Plants send out signals when they are unhealthy that essentially marks them as food for the insect world. (Seriously. There's research on this.) So a plant that doesn't have a good soil, that has insufficient water, is going to be a bugfest, that is just a given. Treat your plants very well and that may minimize some of it.

2. Plant more than you need. I figure, the bugs can have some, as long as I get some too. Bugs have to live just like anything else, and if it weren't for bugs we would not be able to live on planet earth, because earth wouldn't grow anything for long. My stepmother has the same philosophy in her ground-garden when the wild rabbits, esp. with babies in spring, eat half of it. She figures that really, they needed it more than she did, there isn't much non-concrete world and food for them anymore, and she tries to plant enough there'll be some left over.

3. Plant decoys. If it turns out that kale is the favorite food of a certain bug that is bugging you, plant kale at the edges of your garden, a row of onions, garlic or something inside that, and then your cabbage or whatever inside that. They will happily feast on the kale I would not voluntarily eat anyway, they aren't fond of the onions, and far fewer of them will make it to the plants important to you.

4. Feed the birds. Go out in the early morning with gloves and hat on, with a big shallow basket. Often dollar stores will have wicker baskets like that for cheap. Pick bugs off the plants and toss 'em in the basket, then when you're done, set the basket somewhere the birds are unafraid to reach it and can SEE it, and I guarantee in awhile, the birds will show up waiting for 'em. You might still be killing them but hey, it's not like dumping poison on them. And birds need to eat too! You would be surprised how consistently doing this make a big cumulative difference.

It's a little gross at first -- I'm a bug pansy, having come from a coastal southern California climate that had few bugs -- but you get over it, you're wearing thick gloves (thick will help with the squeamish factor) and to be honest, it's beautiful in the garden in the real early morning, and some of the bugs are pretty cool looking, if you remove the fear factor. I know it's 'trouble' but part of the point of gardens is working in them--it might be easier to spray poison all over everything instead, but if you want to eat poison and nutritionally depleted produce, you could just buy it at your local store instead. ;-)

If mosquitos are a problem in your area, well, I found this vietnam-era Army mosquito hat on eBay. It's just a hat with a wide brim that has mosquito netting that comes down on your shirt. Sometimes we have to be totally covered body-wise even to venture out there! I was a whiner about this at first, like I was entitled to not live in a reality where bugs chewed on me if I didn't cover every inch of my body, until I realized there are people who live in climates with almost no sunlight and freezing temps and THEY garden; there are people whose sole garden is a tiny container on a roof in New York; here in NE Oklahoma with a decent backyard, my gardening life is a dream come true! I've got NO place to complain. ;-)

5. Avoid seedlings that have disease. I know this seems like a "doh!" but many times I've gotten seedlings from walmart or a garden shop, only to have the entire batch sprout some disease, which instantly brings squash bugs to the garden in a major way or something, and then all my OTHER plants anywhere near them are in trouble too. Grow your OWN seedlings. If you don't want to hassle with the seedling process, take up winter sowing! You'll get some hardy seedlings with minimal effort.

If you want cheap seedlings likely free of disease, find a local garden or organic club or college gardening club or dept. and visit them -- usually the gardeners have way too many seedlings to plant as everyone deliberately overplants for loss, and will be delighted to give you a bunch of everything in little newspaper seedling cups or something, often free just to be nice.

6. Compost. The healthier your soil, the stronger your plants will be, to resist bugs, to 'heal' from holes bugs have chewed in them, to suffer less from overhot sun or underwatering or whatever.

7. One year I did do something that was very bug-killing, I admit. I had dumped seriously 'hot' compost on my beds, and in case you don't know, hot compost still has a lot of degrading to do, and so it is FOOD still and bugs are insanely drawn to it. Compost bins are bugfests bigtime, but they're supposed to be. I had one bed that had so many sal-bugs (pill bugs? roly-polies? whatever they are called) that literally, it was like there wasn't even soil, just so many bugs it looked like soil. I don't mind those little bugs individually, but the quantity of them nearly made me nauseous to look at it, it was like some nightmare visual in a movie.

I mixed diatomaceous earth into the soil. It's all natural, not a chemical. But it will kill anything with a soft exoskeleton, meaning everything born from that point in that kind of bug family. It is used in food storage. Of course, that means I'd have ZERO worms in that bed since it would kill them too! But I felt that for that one season, I would do it, and then get rid of most the soil the next season and start over.

My husband took over the garden when he arrived and never got rid of it, so... well he is leaving end of January for good, so that won't be an issue this season. We are getting divorced.

But don't be sad for me, be happy. We haven't had a relationship besides roommate since 1997. I split from him in late '99 and the only reason he's here now, is I was going to get him legal to live in this country, so he could be near his daughter [but elsewhere!]. But after 20 months of not only not pursuing making that happen, but actually resisting anything I asked, messing up my finances (his doing this the first 6 years we were married, then saying he lived in Canada and made zero money, has resulted in me owing the IRS more than a house mortgage!), not contributing a dime, being just how he was the first six years he lived with me like a helpless dependent child, I've revoked my invitation, so he is leaving. It was traumatic for a year while I agonized over the decision, not wanting to hurt him, not wanting my kid to lose her dad nearby, but I recently made the decision and so, that is that.

I am so much more cheerful about my future as a result! The garden is mine again!!!!!! I will have my aunt's landscaping crew take the top foot of the soil in that bed and dump it in a ground-level new bed I'd like to make for some pretty bushes, and some scattered salad-veggie seed so the little critters will have something to eat in spring... I'll use new soil to re-fill the bed.

The beds can't keep worms long-term because the beds are not open to the ground. Each year I have to add about a foot of soil to all of it around March. You can add worms yourself each season, but be sure you get the kind that eat soil and not some of the fishing kind that eat plants. ;-)

OK here's the few pics, sorry there's not more but it was a miracle even to find these.

First we put down black landscape mat. This lets water through, but nothing else. It is not biodegradeable.

Then we put down hardware metal 'cloth', to keep the rodents from burrowing up under it.

Then we put down rock. In the bed shown here, we had a ton of old/broken planter pots around from the landscaping, cheap plastic, and we decided to use those as some spacers, to save on a little soil. The other beds don't have that.

Then when the first beds were done, and the arches were in place against the fence, and the whole area between them had landscape mat and mulch for a nice walkable area in the middle, it was ready to plant.

Since then of course, I added a big round arbor in the middle, which I think I may put my lovely white birdbath in the middle of this spring, and a couple more beds as well.

Notice the white tubes sticking out of the pots. I originally made all the pots rather like the "earthbox" (google it) but we have SUCH a mosquito problem in this region, that was a nightmare. All the mosquitos went down the tube, nested VERY happily in the water container at the bottom, and literally... well it was just horrible. It was literally walking into a heavy, thick swarm you couldn't even breathe in and that just attacked you 500 at a time. We cleaned out the rain gutters of the house which were breeding them (the leaves from fall make a sort of cover for water that often sits for quite awhile), we removed the water-layer of the earthbox-type planters and just made them all soil instead. Now, if you do not have a mosquito problem, I recommend the earth box approach, especially for summer. If you do, then ANY standing water is a disaster. The "water bottle" approach I mentioned in my last post isn't an issue because the water will not stay in there long enough for them to breed.

Funny enough, I have no conscience about killing mosquitos. I figure anything that eats ME is fair game. Bugs that do my species no harm, I have no reason to punish any more than necessary.

If you have a kid,

They will really take to the garden if you plant stuff they love and can eat right out of it. (Another reason not to use poison!) Cherry tomatoes, mini-corns, baby carrots, watermelon, and anything else they like, including flowers, will make it much more interactive for them. So far I have never asked my kid to work with me there or made her; the last two years her dad had the garden and I asked him to blend her into it as she seemed more than old enough, but he didn't, so she is going to learn this season, whether she wants to or not. Which she won't, as she's a video game lazy modern kid, but little does she know ...... :-)

This year I also hope to get some 'toppers' -- flat brick tops that you put on top of cinderblock to make a nice neat flat edge -- not for everywhere, because we plant in the holes too!, but maybe on the main beds.

Diabetes - Cured ?!

I'm going to do something unfortunately illegal here: I'm going to copy in a news post. I've found that news websites ditch their media really fast sometimes and I don't want this to get lost. So please forgive my lack of copyright ethics -- if the article is still alive in a few weeks, I will remove this from the blog.

You gotta read this.

Diabetes breakthrough
Toronto scientists cure disease in mice

Tom Blackwell, National Post
Published: Friday, December 15, 2006

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

"I couldn't believe it," said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. "Mice with diabetes suddenly didn't have diabetes any more."

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.

But the excitement of the team from Sick Kids, whose work is being published today in the journal Cell, is almost palpable.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, an immunologist at the hospital and a leader of the studies. "In my career, this is unique."

Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses -- the body's immune system turning on itself.

They also conclude that there are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn's disease.

The "paradigm-changing" study opens "a novel, exciting door to address one of the diseases with large societal impact," said Dr. Christian Stohler, a leading U.S. pain specialist and dean of dentistry at the University of Maryland, who has reviewed the work.

"The treatment and diagnosis of neuropathic diseases is poised to take a dramatic leap forward because of the impressive research."

About two million Canadians suffer from diabetes, 10% of them with Type 1, contributing to 41,000 deaths a year.

Insulin replacement therapy is the only treatment of Type 1, and cannot prevent many of the side effects, from heart attacks to kidney failure.

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to shift glucose into the cells that need it. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin that is produced is not used effectively -- something called insulin resistance -- also resulting in poor absorption of glucose.

The problems stem partly from inflammation -- and eventual death -- of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas.

Dr. Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an "enormous" number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick -- injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.

"Then we had the biggest shock of our lives," Dr. Dosch said. Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally "It was a shock ? really out of left field, because nothing in the literature was saying anything about this."

It turns out the nerves secrete neuropeptides that are instrumental in the proper functioning of the islets. Further study by the team, which also involved the University of Calgary and the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, found that the nerves in diabetic mice were releasing too little of the neuropeptides, resulting in a "vicious cycle" of stress on the islets.

So next they injected the neuropeptide "substance P" in the pancreases of diabetic mice, a demanding task given the tiny size of the rodent organs. The results were dramatic.

The islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone. Some have remained in that state for as long as four months, with just one injection.

They also discovered that their treatments curbed the insulin resistance that is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, and that insulin resistance is a major factor in Type 1 diabetes, suggesting the two illnesses are quite similar.

While pain scientists have been receptive to the research, immunologists have voiced skepticism at the idea of the nervous system playing such a major role in the disease. Editors of Cell put the Toronto researchers through vigorous review to prove the validity of their conclusions, though an editorial in the publication gives a positive review of the work.

"It will no doubt cause a great deal of consternation," said Dr. Salter about his paper.

The researchers are now setting out to confirm that the connection between sensory nerves and diabetes holds true in humans. If it does, they will see if their treatments have the same effects on people as they did on mice.

Nothing is for sure, but "there is a great deal of promise," Dr. Salter said.

Sorry to be cynical but I bet the pharmaceutical and medical industries actually end up fighting against this, not for it. There is a TON of billions involved in doctors and 'treating' and 'medicating' diabetes.

Capsacin (there may be other spellings) is the stuff found in hot peppers (though I'm sure an injection of the pure stuff is a diff thing).

The formal research paper is here.

Be Prepared

I'm a pseudo-programmer, so prior to Y2K, reading about the possibilities, I wondered if I should worry. I was just about to decide not to when the government and media both bizarrely clammed up to the degree that THAT was abnormal, which scared me worse than anything I could have read. (Government: "Don't ask, don't tell" apparently applies to several things that could use leadership as an alternative...)

Anyway, for about 18 months prior to the date, I studied. I mean I read more internet and books about how to do EVERYTHING than you can imagine, and than I can believe, looking back. I read so much I don't even remember half of it and I normally have a good memory. But I know a lot more about everything from sanitation to childbirth, from injuries without medicine to how to build a sturdy wall from stones, how to bake without an oven if you have sun, a million things.

One of the things that really got me in my studies was that this idea most folks have, that our civilization is so immune from weather-related emergencies, is ridiculous. In fact, you'd be astounded by how many times huge numbers of people lose all power for quite a long time.

Reminds me of how in the '94 Northridge earthquake -- which nearly killed me I might add -- happened, just after, I was clinging to the wall of my back doorway. Everything had just stopped shaking, which nearly gave me sea legs adapting, I could hear the blood rushing through my head, and then the sky flashed vivid green and blue lightning like crazy! -- and then abruptly the whole world went blacker than it ever, ever is in a city.

It was transformers blowing out... all over the place... and I was about 70 miles from Northridge. Parts of CANADA and Northern states lost power over that!!

Back when I lived in Seattle, I remember Spokane Washington was out of power for like 5 days, maybe more. People froze, it was the dead of Winter.

This article talks about how recent winds "up to 69 mph!" (the tornado alley Oklahoman in me scoffs, haha! We have straight-line winds here that get up to that.) caused a power outtage in Seattle, in other parts of Washington, even parts of Oregon.

I wish people understood that having food, water, basic medicine, etc. is not just for the paranoid but a sanity check worth having. Especially if you have kids. If your power went out in the middle of winter -- stores closed, gas station closed, no just in time inventory, and mass competition from locals -- would you be ok? When your house was just over the temperature outside that is solid ice, would you be ok? Do you have a tent your family could sleep in to conserve the heat around you? I know people who have a couple electric blankets and a thin pretty bedcover. If they lose power in winter they'll wake up ice cubes. Will your neighbors be ok? Because they may need help and guess who they'll ask. Do you have medicine if you need it?

I know, this isn't lowcarb. The article just reminded me of all the reading I did prior to Y2K. Just like every house should have a fire alarm and a fire escape plan for everyone, every household should have some stored food and water, you can use it every so often after you've replaced it with newer stuff. It doesn't take much effort to proactively make small plans just in case it's ever needed.

When I was in 5th grade, we had the 'fire training'. My classmate Linda's house caught on fire just a few weeks later. She was the oldest of like 5 kids. Thanks to that training and the 'fire plan' she'd done for the assignment, she got her little siblings and led them out of the house to safety, crawling on the floor under all the smoke. The parents managed to get out their window or something, in a different direction. The house burned to the ground, not a shred of anything left. But they were all alive.

A little planning. That's all it takes.

(This has been a community service. haha!)

Wednesday, December 13


OK, one of my other obsessions besides the lowcarb lifestyle is gardening. I wanted to show a new buddy on the forum some pics of mine last summer, even though to be honest it wasn't really ideal looking at that moment (is it ever?), so I thought I would put a bunch of stuff here so I'd have a page on it and could reference it later maybe.

About the Garden!

First, I'm not getting on my hands and knees to garden, or I'll never get up. So I decided to make a STANDING garden.

Second, I wanted a BIG garden but didn't have a fortune for it. I thought of making those 4'x4' wood-things on legs, but they'd eventually get rickety, and mowing under/around them would be a pain.

Third, I wanted to do a combination of "Square Foot Gardening" and "Lasagna Gardening" -- all organic -- for my style. SFG has a heavy emphasis on "vertical" and "container" gardening, while LG has an emphasis on "layering" deep-as-possible soil.

So, I made a plan to have it built with cinderblocks. Which I thought was novel, fairly affordable, and I didn't have it mortared so I could redo it differently later if I wanted. It turns out lots of people do this, I just didn't know. :-)

My aunt runs a tiny landscaping business, so her crew came out built it for me. I failed to account for the un-movable laundry pole on one side, which resulted in one side being slightly (about 1 foot in both directions) smaller than the other but it's no big deal.

Garden Layout, Main Beds

The various beds are different sizes. The two "big" beds are 32" high on the end parts, 24" high on the long parts and about 185+ square feet of soil.

The two "strawberry" beds are split in half depth-wise and are 16" and 24" high, about 48 square feet of soil.

I have a dozen 32 gallon rectangle "tub" planters (two for each arch and one at each side of the garden) that are about 24" high and 3 square feet of soil each. (36)

I have about ten 22 gallon round "tub" containers around the yard; they are each about 24" high and each about 2.5 square feet of soil. (22)

There's a wide variety of other tubs, pots and containers hanging around the garden area, sitting on the brick walls, and around the backyard, depending on the season. All told there is probably about 320-340 square foot of soil space in the garden. Which, since we do a lot of trellising, and a square foot approach, means we can have a LOT of volume. If we made the effort and did storage/canning/etc., we could probably grow enough food to feed 3 families nearly year round.

Garden Layout, Main Beds

I was a bit optimistic regarding size. In reality the garden has become a part time job my soon to be ex husband did the last year. I will be revising its structure a bit to allow me to maintain a decent portion of it without having to hire someone, which I certainly can't afford!

Garden Layout, Main Beds

I also have little flower beds in both back and front yard that are only 8" high and vary in size. All but the little flower beds are in 1/3 of my backyard, on a space laid out with wood-chip mulch, so it's a nice little environment to garden in, and you can reach everything.

Garden Layout, Main Beds

The "garden props" aside from the cinderblock beds are:

1. Five 'cattle panels' bent in arches along the 6' wooden fence at the side. These panels themselves are four foot wide, 14 foot long, and they have a four inch "square grid" pattern, which is perfect for 'reaching through'. I bend them into arches which are 6 foot high and about 4 foot wide and 4 foot deep. You can walk inside them and pick stuff from inside, or from the outside.

They use 32 gallon dollar-store tubs as planters at the bottom of each side. I was told the freezing would crack the rubber-plastic but you know... it's been a few years and it hasn't happened. Get the cheap huge tubs of varying size from the dollar store, take a drill and put some holes in the bottom for drainage, and you have a good sized planter. I'm pretty sure the 32s ar storage tubs (they had lids). I also have some 22 gallon size that I think are squat laundry baskets, as they are round with rope handles on each side. Some plastic bottles from the trash and a couple dollar store big tubs and you can have a cool little container garden -- and using the "square foot" approach you can plant a lot more in that than the old-fashioned row-gardening might make ya think!

It's important in the summer to water planters more than you can imagine is needed, they dry out fast. If you don't have automated irrigation (I hope to get some!), this is really the best idea: get 2 litre plastic bottles or something similar, slice off the bottom. Bury it in the soil open-spout down. Each time you water, 'fill up' the containers with your hose. The water will drain into the soil at the rate it can absorb. It's not a mosquito issue because the water won't sit long. And in the summer when it's insanely hot, the plants really need water, and unless you plan on watering them four times a day, they won't get enough.

Garden Layout, Main Beds

Garden Layout, Main Beds

2. A six foot diameter, ten foot tall, metal green arbor-thing in the center of the garden. In the middle of it are various pots. Next to each of the three supports are small tub planters that grow stuff that trellises up the arbor. This thing is so beautiful! I gotta get a better pic of it. This year I think, despite all the warnings from people about a billion weed seedlings in my veggie beds, I may vine morning glories or other viney-flowers up it.

3. Copper tubing (1.25" hollow plumber's tubing) frames the 'big' bed on the right side, only the 'long' portion of it. Army parachute cord (thick, slightly stretchy, never biodegrades, essentially indestructible except by knife) is what I use as the ties. I use the copper framing and ties, some anchored to stakes in the soil, for the tomato plants that grow in that section. We get very high straight-line winds in NE Oklahoma, and sometimes hail and major downpours, so every tomato plant has to have decent anchor or the first major storm would wipe out the crop. The pepper plants on the other hand are difficult to kill. Except occasionally by critters like rabbits and turtles (the high beds at least minimize those!).

See the pic above under the "beds" info for the copper framing and round arbor pic.

4. We have a 16 foot long, 8 foot high, 4 foot wide "grapevine arbor" made of 2x4s (some treated, some not) and chicken coop fencing. Ugly, but workable. We just planted this a year ago, 1 year vines, so we will not see a crop for another year or two. We have about 8 different varieties, seedless and regular, a variety of colors.

Garden Layout, Main Beds

Outside of the garden beds and props we also have a few "thornless blackberry" bushes we just put in a year ago.

What I hope to do this spring

  • Get drip irrigation set up so I don't have to water it myself much. I don't have time to keep the garden, as big as it is. I can get help with seedlings and harvesting, and mess with it along the way, but the overall landscaping of my house literally takes about 6 hours a day of twice watering in summer... something's gotta give!

  • Add a long cinderblock bed the width of my front porch, just along in front of it, that I can fill with herb perennials (sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, etc. etc.). I think going out to the porch chair with the smell of those would be awesome.

  • Add a small veggie perennial square in the back yard for asparagus.

  • Add a root perennial square in the backyard and let ginger and horseradish and whatever else battle it out. I won't put anything "perennial and spreading" in my primary beds.

  • Possibly, plant a 5-fruit tree in the back corner of my yard right next to the giant pecan tree which I do believe is on its final days on this earth. If it wasn't the primary sunblock of summer I'd have it taken out before it is fully dead and falls, but... for now I'd just like to start something else in preparation.

What I hope to do this winter

Get a copy of SEED SAVERS catalog or another similar organization. This stuff is worth supporting. Did you know there's like a bazillion varieties of PEAS? I mean, who knew?! It'll amaze you.

Last winter I had massive seeds, for the best versions of tomatoes (red, pink, orange, yellow, white, black, purple, and several cherries...) and peppers (too many varieties to count!) and tons of flower seeds. I think it's possible my husband overused them or didn't care for them well so I might have to re-buy and trade this year.

Don't buy most of the junky seeds in stores. Most of them are deliberately engineered to not reproduce true. Unless they are quick salad stuff or marked "heirloom" seeds... why pay monster corps. Sometimes there's something special that is ultra-hybrid and you want it just for that but otherwise, support heirloom seeds!

SEED SAVERS is a non-profit org that has done more to save seed varieties from literally vanishing from availability than anybody. (Don't think the government is really doing this. They pretend. Vested interests in favor of making all humans dependent on major corps for food, and one-use-only seeds, prevent the government being all that good for our people at all in this area.) (I am not really paranoid, this is just something you learn when you study it enough!) The current Seed Savers catalog has 667 varieties and this is mostly just food seeds. Now mind you, it's not the cheapest to buy from that kind of source; there are many far more economical ways to get seeds, not only for you, but for the die-hards keeping them pure, saving them and selling them each year. But I try to buy some every year just as a form of support. You have to be a member to get the catalog which is an annual donation. To find other similar groups, google "seed save". To find other sources of great seeds, google "heirloom seeds".

When January comes and I get into my Winter Sowing obsession, I will see if I can post a list of awesome links for getting seeds online including unusual cool stuff.

GARDENWEB is the greatest contribution to gardening online. Even if you don't pay for their membership (which is not much and you can buy real short periods) you can read their forums for free. "Soil" is one of my fave forums ("You know you're a compost whacko when..."), but they have EVERYTHING. I mean... search by seed or plant type, by gardening style, even by hobby (garden art? winter sowing?), you name it. It's amazing and the people are often very nice (if you don't get them arguing about obscure trivia on plant species or composting that you can't just imagine anybody worrying enough about to argue -- but then, lowcarbers argue just for the fun of it too sometimes it seems!). They even have a "trade" area where you can offer extra seeds to folks who might want them, or ask for others' extras, or trade something you have more of for something you want, etc.

Now that I'm lowcarb, growing a zillion scallions (they are getting EXPENSIVE in the stores!!) and colored bell peppers and tons of peppers of ALL kinds, and some green veggies and strawberries and squash and salad veggies has taken on even more value for me.

If you don't know much about gardening and want to start out with something small but a variety and fun, check out the SQUARE FOOT GARDENING website. Get the book -- it's probably ultracheap used -- it's a nice, easy but interesting read. Scroll down the page on that link and look at all the pictures, cool eh. Mel Bartholomew, and 'square foot' guy, works with schools, with poor areas in foreign countries and more, showing them how to grow food in a minimum of soil and a minimum of space with a maximum of yield. Square foot is a really great gardening approach for kids, too. Don't miss actually marking your squares. I don't know why but psychologically and visually it just seems so much neater and easier when you do, silly eh!

OK, my connection on gardening to lowcarb is, obviously, FOOOOOOOOOOOOOD, and did I mention that the Zucchini Pie (one of the recipes on this blog) is SO INCREDIBLY GOOD that I intend to grow bunches of zucchini this year? I was never into it before. I was never into cauliflower either but ... well, you know!

January is when I get into "winter sowing" -- that means, planting seeds in a way to let them "grow if they will" in the real environment, so instead of laboriously babying seeds and seedlings in spring, you have a whole bunch of plants that are ALREADY "hardy" and growing outdoors. I usually get my seeds then, and plan garden stuff, and become a total freak in excitement about it. :-)

Tuesday, December 12

Some Holiday Cheer!

First things first: great lowcarb food!

Lady Atkins has a LOW CARB EGGNOG recipe. I had seen an LC recipe for this but it was ALL complicated and required cooking and so on. LA's is a a quicker-simpler approach that sounds SO yummy! I will be trying it soon and will report more. But it's so easy, you could try it yourself in like 5 minutes!

I just ordered some DaVinci (zero carb syrup sweetened with splenda, used in LC stuff as a sugar substitute and flavoring) EGGNOG! Syrup (and Butter Rum, yum!) from -- I am a big fan of that place, it's $5 shipping to anywhere in the contiguous US no matter HOW much you order, and they package the big glass bottles really well -- I'm planning to use that for some sweetener in the eggnog recipe!

And I forgot to mention, sorry for the delay!, that Big Daddy D has a LOWCARB PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE recipe that he invented himself. Sounds awesome and the picture is drool-able.

If a very simple but undeniably awesome regular cheesecake is what you'd like, try the recipe called Bawdy's Cheesecake -- it has tons of great reviews! That link will show you the recipe plus what everyone has said about it.

For a giant list of HOLIDAY LOWCARB RECIPES of all kinds, from stuffing to desserts to cranberry to you-name-it, visit the forum kitchen, where the awesome chef Karen Barnaby posted links to several major threads & collections of em.

I want reviews! It's a big deal for me to cook you guys, given my limited time, and my family is not LC so whatever I make has gotta taste good, so when you find an awesome recipe, let me know!

Next on the list of holiday cheer: The divine JIMMY MOORE of Living La Vida Low Carb, a whirlwind of prolific blogging, journaling, and podcasting for LowCarb's coolness (if it was software instead of food, they'd call him "LowCarb's Product Evangelist"!), who by the way lost nearly 200 lbs lowcarbing (wow!), posted his "Top 10 Blogs of 2006" on Episode 8 of his show, and it turns out he found my blog somehow, 'cause it just made the top 10! Gosh, and I've only been online a few months, and due to traveling was gone for a spell. Aw shucks. Thanks Jimmy!

And speaking of Jimmy, I think I can say on behalf of all lowcarbers, CONGRATULATIONS for getting rated one of the TEN BEST HEALTH BLOGS ON THE INTERNET by FOX News! A mainstream news channel's recognition is a big deal, and that's not an easy slot to get into, especially in the high-carb/low-fat world of today! Yee haw, that's a good thing for lowcarb, way to go!


Well, today was supposed to be a chili verde day. Of course, so was yesterday. I know that previously, I have eaten the stuff for tiny meals like 36 times in a row or something (like 5x day at 1/2 cup servings), but for some reason I seem to be a little tired of it now. (...Hmmmn, can't imagine why!) I still love it. I just can't seem to eat it more than once or twice a day.

Which is tough since my stage 1 is not supposed to allow ANY seed/grain products, mushrooms, or cheese... and I'm eating one or more of those daily, in my search for FAST non-chili-verde food! Sigh. So at this point I am eating lowcarb, but have not yet begun stage 1, which on my particular plan is required at the beginning of each cycle. Well, it'll work out.

My house is a mess, when I was on vacation all this stuff mysteriously appeared and stacked in my room. I've been working my butt off (very busy this season due to the coming college term, as I work in publishing). DP (as the lowcarber gals call him) despite allegedly having no money (after 20 months of zero expenses, rent and food etc. provided, etc.? I not only don't get child support, I support HIM like a child...!) says he has "ten thousand dollars of inventory" from eBay computer stuff in our living room... now that, I am willing to believe, given that our living-dining area is now 60% full of his computer stuff and inventory and boxing and you can hardly get through the house and it's pretty much like some kind of storage shed. Which is why we have no couch, chair, or kitchen table to eat at, as there is no room for it. That will change... soon. Anyway! So these are all my excuses why I don't have my food act together a little better! Aren't they pitiful?! Now you know: there really is no excuse, only excuses. ;-)

I did most of my little girl's christmas shopping last night, online. She's 10. Usually each year she has like 20 things she wants. This year, she only had 4, and the other 3 items on the list were like, "go to see Happy Feet movie" and "go see the Harry Potter movie when it comes out", which I'll do without it being a gift anyway. Aside from a near-christmas walkthrough of walmart for fun and girly and stocking stuff, she is done. I got just a couple things for others, and I have two orders left to place for important stuff except, DANG IT, I have to wait till I have money! Which will not be until RIGHT before christmas so I will never get them on time. :-( Ah well. Who knows. Maybe something'll work out.

I'm getting my parents some things to match stuff I've bought them before. If you haven't been there, Home Decorators is amazing -- their catalogs are a dream just to browse offline (ask for a mailing). Anyway, they have a cool lighting section, where you can get everything from chandeliers to 1-4 unit wall sconces to big wide wall sconces to round and squared pedestals --all in "tiffany-style stained glass." Very cool. I got my parents a tall round pedestal last year that was on sale. This year (they don't know about this blog so I'm safe ;-)) I am getting them THIS full Violet wall light ($79) OR, THIS single ($39) and THIS double ($59) sconce except using THESE ($26ea) glass shades for all 3 little sconces. I think they'll love it. Dad retired, stepmom left her job, they have no money really, but they don't really NEED anything (seriously though; who does?); they've worked hard to improve their house, so I think they'll like the lighting options. I'm sharing this because I was so STUCK about what on earth to get them until I thought of these. It seems like a nice kind of gift for someone who works hard on a nice house interior and you can't think of anything more personal.

Speaking of "who does" need anything, another friend of mine who certainly doesn't, and who is currently off in Japan filming the next Nippon TV version of 'psychic detectives' -- he has helped Japan's version of the FBI find a ton of people that were cold cases, some of them missing literally for multiple decades! -- he's really into animals. He has a charity he donates to that buys goats, chickens etc. for super-poor people in various parts of the world (he was Army intell/NSA for over a dozen years, and has traveled more of the world than most people know exists; he has a heightened awareness of the "poverty and chaos" outside the world we know than most!), but I think instead of doing that this year, I'm going to do a donation in his name to one of the small rescue ranches that house lions, tigers, cougars, etc. that have no home, have been rescued from circus life, etc.

One is Lions and Tigers And Bears (oh my!), a no-kill shelter for rescued big cats mostly. Any of you who need to buy for someone who really just SO does not need anything, but has a soft heart for the truly needy, maybe you could make a little donation in their name instead. Or, they have a merchandise area -- cool kids T-shirts with big animal pics, that makes them a little profit for donation.

Back to work here!

Monday, December 11

Bad Relationships and Tea Time

It all started when I (don't faint) ate Pizza on Saturday night. Note the capital: pizza is a holiday for me. I love pizza more than any other food on earth except quality milk chocolate. Of course, chocolate does not make me swell up (gluten response), get asthma and other issues, like 5-10 lbs overnight weight gain (one assumes 'water'). Pizza does. But I love it. Damn it.

And had I not been overcarbing just a tad the few days prior I would never have made that decision -- I would have eaten just toppings, or made something at home -- but carb-sins are cumulative and they are not forgiven by your body until you have some time and water to put them behind you. A few extra carbs often won't hurt you (as long as you're not in induction), but a few carbs a few days in a row will start seducing your appetite and taste buds in subtle, insidious ways.

Somebody's knockin; should I let him in?
Lord it's the devil, would you look at him?
I'd heard about him, but I never dreamed
He'd have blue eyes and blue jeans
-- Terry Gibbs (who is blind)

I backslid right past the greasy thick pan crust all the way into two cups of Southern Comfort eggnog. Amazing how hard you can hit something when moving backward.

By the time I was well into Sunday, I had almost every "carb-life" symptom that I lost when I went low carb, all the way down to exhaustion, short of breath, and aching feet. By the time it was Sunday evening, I was just laughing about it. It was like some guilty conscience on my part was totally exaggerating every effect just so I could be a real drama queen about it!

But it got me thinking.

I used to ALWAYS feel that way.

Before low carb de-possessed me of all the foods it turns out I've been mildly allergic to all my life and never knew it.

Before low carb made me drop the massive water that the body held to process the carbs my "normal" eating habits involved.

Before low carb made me pay attention to protein and carb loads so I wouldn't all but pass out from the blood sugar drop awhile after eating.


So, on a seemingly separate subject, my personal life continues to be a real dilemma. I suppose it is perfectly normal for people to live in misery and non-relationships with their spouses for whole lifetimes, with not much more than whining to their girlfriends or buddies about it. But I am learning the stark reality of what obesity has really done with the last 15 years of my life.

I haven't lived the life of "quiet desperation" -- thanks to severe obesity, I've lived the life of "quiet exhaustion."

Like: I won't notice if you won't work for a living, if you'll carry in the groceries, because I'm so exhausted after shopping I want to cry. Most people would have to run a marathon and starve for 3 days to be as exhausted as one walmart visit can make someone who weighs over 400lbs. But don't let it show. Smile at the neighbors. Don't hobble on the aching feet. Try to stay up with the kid, who being a kid will smell your weakness and push her advantage when she knows you haven't the energy to argue.

Like: I won't mind that we don't have a relationship and haven't for 11 of 12 years because at least my kid has a dad. Sort of. Even if you don't contribute to the family. Even if you don't pay any real attention to the kid. Even if despite a weekly maid you make the living environment a cluttered pig sty I'm too exhausted to clean, and too busy working anyway, and so just live in the unhappiness of not wanting even to eat (let alone cook) because the place grosses me out. Men are pigs. Not all men. But definitely this one.

Like: I won't expect more from my life. My parents make it clear that at my weight I should almost be grateful that some useless SOB is willing to leech off me as an intentionally underemployed roommate who at this point occupies 50%+ of the space in a house of three people. Doesn't drive so I get to be taxi service on moments off work, or even give up my lunch hour to be taxi. Doesn't work so never, ever, ever leaves. I crave solitude to the degree of envying the indian monks in their caves. I haven't the energy to even think about doing anything besides "surviving another day" anyway, so what difference does a detail like "a relationship" make?

Now that Low Carb has given me some of "me" back, by clearing my mind and energizing my body and giving me hope for my future, I find that my perspective on life, and what I deserve in life, is changing.

You can see where this is going already can't you.


So in thinking about these two subjects together, it occurred to me that when you think about it, eating foods that are wrong for you is rather like a dysfunctional relationship.

You are really drawn to it. You think you really enjoy it at first. Then you pay the price for it... and it just goes ON and ON.

We are the CEOs of our bodies, and of our lives. It is up to us to make executive decisions that are the most productive and healthy for the corporal entity. It doesn't matter if it is food, hobby, or relationships: it's all the same question: what is good for me? What contributes to my present and my future?

Until one day you say, I refuse to be cowed by guilt over whether or not certain foods "should" be okay to eat. I don't give a damn if whole-grain bread and corn "should" be healthy. It is not some kind of moral judgement day -- it is just about how I feel when I interact with that. Maybe there isn't even a good or bad, and that kind of thinking distracts us from the real point of it all: that we must measure our lives by "what works for us," and if we are unable to recognize when something is an abysmal failure for us and get it out of our lives, then who should?

We are the CEOs of our bodies, and of our lives. It is up to us to make executive decisions that are the most productive and healthy for the corporal entity. It doesn't matter if it is food, hobby, or relationships: it's all the same question: what is good for me? What contributes to my present and my future?


I was reading this woman's journal and she says, "I've dated a little recently, and..." and I look at her profile.

She weighs 385 pounds.

I've been bred to a world of performers (in music), where if you weren't perfect by hollywood or at least rock&roll standards, you were pond scum. Women over 30lbs overweight were The Untouchables. Men would date a skanky disease-ridden bleached groupie before they would date a truly beautiful and intelligent woman who "needed to lose a little weight." And that's a LITTLE weight, mind you. Not hundreds of pounds. Obviously, my upbringing has severely skewed my beliefs about women, appearance, and myself. I hadn't really thought about that much before now.

But suddenly I am realizing that it is true. My beliefs about myself have been totally distorted. And maybe that is part of why I have continued to live in a relationship that has no respect or positive contribution to me whatsoever.

I don't know that I want to have a full time relationship with anybody right now. Hell, I've been married a dozen years and I haven't had even a part-time relationship for the last 11. I'm used to being alone emotionally and overcrowded physically. I don't mind it, I tell myself. But then I realize that not all women feel hideous when they are fat. Maybe they feel really fat, maybe they feel badly about it, but probably not to the degree I always have. I didn't just have a complex about it. I literally dismissed myself from the entire gene and social pool as a "given" and just didn't think about it again. Some women question themselves or their worthiness and come up short. I dismissed mine as even being worth questioning a long time ago.

Low carb has become therapy.

I know this is a little heavier than most my blog posts, no pun intended. But that is what I'm feeling today.


Meanwhile back at the... small tract home in Oklahoma, I splurged and bought myself a christmas gift: tea. Seriously!

I bought two nice ceramic mugs with infusers, and several kinds of tea (Earl Grey, Chai, and some samplers). I have a little chinese-style altar table in my room (I have a room of my own, and though it's the smallest in the house, it's my sanctuary). There is no reason why I couldn't make a habit of getting up a bit early, making some hot tea, and then just sitting and meditating, praying or whatever for awhile.

Before I gotta get the kid up, and repeatedly harrass her until she is ready for school. Before I gotta get the husband up, because his interminable eBay boxes are coming in for delivery in our warehouse-slash-living room. Before I have to work, with the like 150 emails per day I'm getting lately so I can't even stay afloat let alone catch up.

Just some hot tea... and eyes closed... and a little time for me.

So I can think about how my life is changing from the life of Quiet Exhaustion, to the life of Cautious But Growing Optimism.

So I can think about how "if only I had the energy to do XYZ and felt good, I would--" oh... wait! It turns out, I DO!

I feel as if I am re-sculpting my life, and not just my body.

I don't know what next week will bring. First things first. It's tea time.

Friday, December 8

10 Reasons Low Carb is "Dangerous!"

Over on the LowCarber.Org forum, there was a thread based on a linked article about the 10 reasons that lowcarb is allegedly bad, wrong, a problem, etc. (The original link is here.)

Well! There are just SO MANY things to worry about when you're lowcarbing that coming up with a list of only 10 reasons of my own was tough, but I managed it.

So this is my own list of 10 best reasons why a low carb diet can be downright dangerous to the uninformed. BEWARE!

10. If I eat low-fat/high-carb and stay fat, I can insist those around me be my servants (due to my obese helplessness) the rest of my natural life. Low carb has already dropped 85 pounds off me in 3 months. Not only do I not require someone else do my shopping now, I actually FEEL like doing it myself. Low-carb has already deprived me of some of my life of ease. They never warned me about this.

9. Thanks to lowcarb wiping out my acid reflux, I no longer am forced to sleep sitting up, and no longer wake up several times a night, staying up for hours. Do you have any idea how much email I'm not getting done that I used to? I know my dear family misses terribly my 3am tomes about the most miniscule details of my thoughts about my life. This is sure to cause a great rift between us any minute now. The bonds of family are precious, and low carb is ruining it for me by letting me sleep blissfully through the night! Just one more nasty side effect those lowcarbers never warn you about.

8. Now that I eat lots of protein, avoid starches and carby stuff it turns out I'm mildly sensitive to, and I stay in benign dietary ketosis all the time ("BDK" for short, or, "It isn't diabetic ketoacidosis you moron" for long), I find my desire to eat useless junkfoods that I loved but helped me weigh nearly 500lbs has gone away. No more am I gasping like a heroin addict getting a fix with the milk carton at 2am. No longer am I eating enough carbs in pasta to overdose a marathoner and still knock me out from the blood sugar drop a short time later. But do we not call on God to help us fight such trials? Lowcarb has already come between me and my Divine Pleading by making it easy for me to eat healthy food all on my own. Lowcarbers hide the spiritual risks or nobody would dare try this. We're talkin' about the fate of your SOUL, man.

7. Recently I discovered that having mental clarity all day during my job went a long way toward hearing and understanding what everybody around me was saying -- and sometimes, not saying. Did anybody ask me if I REALLY wanted to know that kind of information? Did it not occur to anybody that "ignorance is bliss," and that being a space cadet has been proven to lower job stress? Sure, I'll lose weight and be healthier but what if I die of the added stress that "comprehension" of what my boss wants has forced on me? Yes, it's these kind of insidious little things that those fad lowcarbers will never tell the newbies.

6. Last week I was traveling, and as I noted in my blog, a young cabbie spent half my taxi ride making eyes at me and suggesting he liked "big women." Had I not felt friendly and energetic and, may I add, had lowcarb not restored my complexion to its former healthy glow, I seriously doubt I would have been faced with this kind of ten-minute-temptation. Do people really understand what kind of danger to a married woman lowcarbing could be? There may come a day when people actually look at me without sneering, looking away, or bursting into uncontrollable laughter. This could definitely loosen my morals in a matter of minutes just from the novelty of it, frankly. And do you suppose this constant challenge to Moral Integrity is ever mentioned by lowcarbers? Nooooo. You'd think people ALWAYS looked and felt better and it was no issue at all. Well I disagree. People considering lowcarb should be warned of this potential!

5. Now that I have more energy, my child is getting to bed on time more often, and my husband is actually having to answer to having a relationship with me. Neither of them are particularly happy about this. I find the better I feel about myself, the more I actually expect other people to treat me decently. This kind of imbalanced lack of subservience on my part is causing all kinds of ripples in my life. Family strife! Social dissent! Lowcarb actually reminded me I was worth something and had the right to make my life what I want it to be. I'm sure my more dysfunctional family members would like to 'deprogram' me from this lowcarb cult so they could live comfortably with me being appropriately yet quietly miserable. Yet another wide-reaching side effect that few people ever mention when discussing carb counts.

4. Since going on lowcarb, I actually wake up in the morning. I don't feel like I am 20,000 leagues under the sea anymore. I am even capable of getting up and functioning without a major injection of some kind of drug like caffeine. The water drop and weight loss has made me more limber, and I move around a lot less like Frankenstein or Egor than I used to. My shift into being a bit more of a morning person has grossly offended my family, my coworkers, and all eight (!) of my cats. Do other eating plans cause this kind of interpersonal contention? I think not. Lowcarb ought to come with a warning label.

3. Now that I eat lowcarb, I'm ingesting more vegetables than I ever have in my life. I've begun depending a lot on my garden for fresh vegetables and strawberries and scallions on demand. Thanks to low carb, Walmart is making that much less money off my shopping every week. Does nobody even care about the impact that more financial self-sufficiency and healthier food might have if everyone ate like that? How many jobs could be lost just because of millions of backyard chili peppers? Our country's economy depends on us to buy Mac & Cheese, McDonald's and deep-fried Fish & Chips! (Not to mention our medical industry's financial well-being.) Lowcarb must be downright un-patriotic.

2. With all my new energy and enthusiasm, I have begun to think about sex a LOT more. A lot. More. Do I really need to elaborate here. Baby you just have NO idea. Nobody ever warned me that eating steak and eggs instead of fruit loops would turn me into a brazen hussy. (Maybe it was really The Forbidden Steak all along. Which would explain complaints that the opposite sex is perceived as meat.) Did I mention... a LOT more? Hmmmn. Maybe I should have made this reason #1.

1. Assuming I continue this questionably-sane eating plan known as lowcarb, there's a very real possibility that, just as my doctor warned me, down the road, I might actually live to see my little girl grow up. I might not keel over dead before she's 12. I might not even develop any major diseases. I might, while we're on that subject, actually live long enough to have her bad mouthing me as a teen -- or, heaven forbid, pawning her squalling little babies off on me someday. That's a whole lot of life and stress between then and now that I'm probably going to have to put up with, since DYING becomes so much less an option, short of swan-diving into traffic, the longer I low carb.

Let this list serve as a warning to all.


Wednesday, December 6

12 Week Goal: Met and Passed!

I began lowcarb on September 18.
My first 12 weeks end on December 10.

My 12 week goal was to lose from 467 to 400.

I'm at 395, so it looks like I made my goal!

A few days early, even. Yay!

I know weight loss is technically expected to slow down, but I plan to be more proactive the next three months than I have been the last month. (I've been lousy the last month. The only reason month#2 came out so well is because the first 2 weeks of it were before my "no appetite/uncaring" phase hit.)

I'm planning to make my next 12-week end goal 340. That 12 weeks will be December 18 to March 11.

I have a very cool spreadsheet I use for tracking 12-week weight patterns, includes the math and a graph on another page, any of y'all who want a copy for your own use just let me know.

Return to Mundania

Lucyyyyyy! I'm home!

OK, Colorado was really cool, my host was super nice, and while I regret that I had to spend most of it working rather than vacationing, still I'm glad I got away for awhile. Whew! A break from Mundania... and now I have returned.

I hadn't lost much weight for the two weeks prior, despite having low carbs and low cal, but I admit, that (a) I had not been drinking anywhere near enough water, and (b) I'd developed this habit of lowcarb slimfast (LCSF).

While gone (19 days including days travel), I was very ill for a couple days; I had one high-carb day at thanksgiving (I had a great New York strip steak at an awesome restaurant in Glenwood Springs Colorado called "Rivers" -- truly divine! -- but I ate the sides AND a dessert, so...!), but otherwise had very little to eat. I did eat breakfast several times. The rest of the time I mostly didn't eat or had a LCSF if anything.

My host seemed a little surprised. Most people really don't believe me when I say I don't eat much. One of my best friends, whom I love dearly, a Weight Watchers advocate who is working her ass off on the last 20-30 lbs of her own challenge, assures me that if only I keep a food diary, I will see how much I am actually eating throughout a day, that yes oh yes, all those little snacks will add up. I couldn't keep from cracking up over that, but I didn't bother disillusioning her. I don't snack -- lowcarbers, unlike low-calorie folks, are not chronically starving (with some rare exceptions I have heard of) -- usually they're so full of protein you have to force food down their throats. But even aside from that, I just don't eat much, and can easily go a whole day without eating and not notice until late at night (as that was my eating habit for years: no food, then carbfest late at night before bed). Still, once someone knows you weigh like 400lbs, no matter how big a believer in metabolism and insulin issues and so on they may be, there is no way they are going to believe that you don't eat like a pig in heat.

Anyway. Since I couldn't FIT in the train bathrooms, I avoided eating the day before the train and most (not all) of the time on it. The day before I left, more than a little hacked about not being able to eat for such a stupid reason (not eating doesn't bother me, but not being ABLE to is another story! haha!) I ate like 4 candies in obvious defiance. (Nothing else that day.) Surprisingly it didn't seem to toss my K since I didn't feel any cravings or hunger the next day. I ate a couple carby meals (after not eating all day) right after getting home, but am now on the straight and narrow Lord, yay-uh!


I'd like to talk about my last 5 weeks of very slow weight loss.

Now I know some degree of this is normal. One of my bestest (if rarest) friend-creatures is Don W., a man who used to be a personal trainer. He has taken people from the 400's down to 'normal' weights -- one woman was so inspired by the journey she opened a gym. He warned me that you gotta lose it FAST because the body starts getting a clue and tries to protect you by putting on the brakes and after that point, it's actual WORK.


I mentioned previously how the lowcarb slimfast gave me that slightly 'addictive' response the way I get with milk. Nowhere near as strong, of course. Milk leads to more, and more, until I'm up at 3am drinking out of the carton, gasping with my back against the closed refrigerator door like a heroin addict finally getting a fix.

I was reading yesterday on the net, one doc who said in his opinion, ALL "addiction reactions" to food are a sign of food allergies. This seems reasonable to me, because honestly, addiction to any food does NOT seem reasonable. I mean, many people like beets or asparagus, but do you ever hear of people getting addicted to beets or asparagus? Having trouble eating too much of them? Not real often, haha! For that matter, you don't hear much of that with steaks or pork chops, either.

Most the foods that addict people are high-carb/high-sugar (sugar being addictive), dairy, and grain products. Some researchers now say that a ridiculous % of the population is suspected to be "mildly sensitive to" grains -- not enough to actually have celiac but apparently it's enough to have amped the incidence of bizarre medical disorders like PCOS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other things into the stratosphere.

And obesity. Because the degree of allergic response that causes the addictive response not only pulls more and more of it into the body, but the partly digested allergens create a variety of health problems, some of which directly impact fat to energy processing and metabolism. I should have gotten references on all this stuff I was reading but I was plowing through a lot of stuff just making my own neural connections.

I am not lactose intolerant -- but it seems highly likely I have some kind of response to the protein of Caseine, and that's why milk is very literally a drug to me, to the degree that at a couple points in my life (ironically, not when fat), I could drink a gallon or two a DAY -- unless I get TOTALLY AWAY from it and refuse to drink it at ALL. I don't have any issues with dairy. Although ice cream can make me crave milk. But generally, dairy products and dairy "in" things doesn't bother me -- only when it's a straight shot of caseine-heavy product. If I'm lowcarb and I have even one gulp of milk, I'll have cravings for milk and sugar and carbs all day. I know better.

OK so finally getting to the point here.

I was thinking about my stupid, instant growing-dependence on Low Carb Slim Fast as a whole food group unto itself. Sure, it plays into my existing, primary problem: that I don't eat, don't want to deal with the time or trouble, so it's a great excuse to skip a meal and suck down a can in 20 seconds -- that alone might be good cause to avoid the stuff. But still, I have a general pace of weight loss going, with or without "enough hydration" per day, and when I shifted to more of the LCSF, it dropped.

I got to thinking about this. I looked at the ingredients on it the first ingredient on the list after water is Caseine. That is the main protein source, so there is a heavy dose of it.

Caseine. The difference in quantity of caseine in cow vs. human milk is allegedly one reason why humans gain a certain amount of weight after birth and cows gain a LOT more a LOT faster.

So.... let me see if I have this straight. A protein which is (a) addictive to apparently a good chunk of our population, and (b) which is known to be highly correlated to weight gain, is the primary ingredient in (c) a weight loss product.

What part of this picture isn't clear yet?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to toss out the slimfast and go back to eating normal foods again. Sigh. It's a lot more trouble. And the LCSF is yummy. But... I'm not losing weight on it really and I don't think that's coincidence or only the other factors.

So today I fried up about 8oz of spicy breakfast sausage; 4 eggs scrambled with red pepper flakes, oregano and some natures' seasoning and hot chili sauce; chopped all that up and mixed it and dumped it in a storage bowl. Grated a bunch of colbyjack cheese and put it in a ziplock. Dug out the lowcarb tortillas. So, when I must eat and be quick about it, I can briefly nuke a bit of egg/sausage on a paper plate, heat the tortilla, dump some cheese and the hot stuff in, roll it up and put it on that plate and leave the kitchen with an edible protein burrito/taco. Granted, the tortilla is some carbs plus some "fiber deductible carbs" -- those count, in my eating plan, not as carbs but still as something I must limit per day -- but it didn't take long to make and that should give me several meals.

I'm going to make what my host did while I was out there and if it comes out half as well as hers, I'll post it as one of my fave recipes here on the blog. Have to try it myself before I can post it here.

Also speaking of milkish products... I must try the lowcarb eggnog. :-)

One GOOD thing: around a month ago I lost all interest in food. It was terrible in a way. No more experimenting because I didn't care. I was NEVER hungry, and food was just totally off my radar. I seem to be real slowly coming out of that. I'm starting to regain some interest in it. So I hope to get back to some decent experimenting again now that I'm home!