Welcome to The Pickled Ginger!

Eagerly anticipating my first hot sip of gourmet coffee, I bounce out of bed and throw on my cute little yoga pants and sports bra, determined to squeeze in a quick intense workout before whipping up a delicious homemade breakfast to nourish my husband and children before seeing them off to school and work.  Upon hopping in the shower to wash off the joyful morning chaos, I indulge myself with a moment to appreciate the fragrant lather of my luxury soaps and meditate on the day’s tasks ahead.  Awake and fresh, my hands finally warmed around a mug of my favorite dark aromatic brew, I fire up
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On the Road Again (to Health)

Happy Tuesday, everyone. How goes it?

So I returned later from my trip than I had anticipated. I miss my family. That is a strange thing for me to say, as when I did live in the same state as my extended family, we hardly saw each other. We’re all married, have our own responsibilities and struggles and finding time to get together has always been difficult. I’ve had to keep reminding myself this since I’ve returned to North Carolina. We were there for a wedding and while it was a great experience convening with my fam, it’s just not typical.

As expected, I did drink wine and eat cake. I had allowed myself that, but it was not nearly as much as I had assumed I would. Maybe it was the fact that I had gone entirely wine and sugar free the week prior, but the sweetness of the cake was overwhelming to an unpleasant degree and the wine just didn’t do it for me. So I mostly imbibed water. Lots of it.

Returning last week, I immediately spiraled into a bit of depression. As mentioned before, I was just missing the loud laughter and chaos of my family and coping with the cloudy gloom that had settled here in NC – quite a contrast from the gorgeous weather offered in Ohio for the weekend of the wedding and following days (again, not typical). I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m not going to post a picture today, as I’m carrying an extra 5 pounds of water and so I’ve nothing to celebrate. Every time I take that 7 hour drive to Ohio from North Carolina, my body swells up. My legs take on a tree-trunk-like appearance and my feet feel like they’re going to burst out of my shoes. This was likely another reason why I didn’t indulge in the sugar and alcohol I had been looking forward to. It only lasted a couple days, but then there was the drive back home to contend with, and for some reason it seemed worse and has lasted longer than the drive up.

I do have an interesting anecdote from my trip. In one of my first blog posts I think I mentioned how my family views obesity. My mother mentioned to me the other day that had she helped Charles Manson himself dispose of his murder victims, her father (my grandfather) would forgive her if only she was trim and fit while doing it. It sounds silly, but in my family everyone has been ingrained that being overweight is the ultimate sin. Unfortunately for my mother, only myself and one of my sisters have the curse of being overweight.

I had not seen my grandfather in a little over a year. I was shocked at his appearance at the wedding. He is tiny and frail and his dementia has progressed to the point where he barely remembers anyone anymore. I approached him to say hello and give him a hug. His lip curled up in his signature sneer and he said to me, “You’ve gained a little weight haven’t you?” With my ears and face burning from the humiliation of about six of my cousins witnessing the encounter, I acknowledged that I had.

A couple days later I stopped by my grandparents’ home to visit. I literally fielded 2 ½ hours of questions from my grandfather about my weight. “Have you always been so heavy?” “Is your mother that heavy?” “Do you have plans to slim down?” and so on. In his earlier years before the dementia settled in, he never would have voiced his concerns. Not to me anyway. They would usually come by way of my grandmother, to my mother, to myself. But he can’t help it, I know. He’s just a shell of who he once was: The man who used to make me crisp waffles topped with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup; who always kept a stash of his favorite treat – maple cream sticks – to feed us grandchildren when we would visit; the same man who ran up to the store every time a grandchild visited, to pick up popsicles or soda. I often wonder how my cousins managed to maintain slim figures despite these terrible eating habits, but I digress.

I came home more determined to lose this damned weight, and now that the fog of the post-vacation blues is wearing off, I will get to it. I should mention that I’ve been eating clean since my return. The water weight is just a temporary issue that should resolve itself soon, I’m sure. I haven’t exercised since I’ve been back and I know once I jump back on that, I will get the scale moving again.

And with that, I leave you all until next week. Have a great one!

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Transformation Tuesday 8/18 and Photo: I’m Still Here!

It is with agonizing humility that I return here to pick up where I left off. I realize it’s almost 2 months since my last post, and every tortuous Tuesday that has passed by with my own radio silence has rung out as silent defeat to my ears. I’ve had on and off (mostly off) days/weeks. Sugar-fueled weekends turned into weeks, and the internal rally to get up and move! went largely ignored by my senses, dulled by idleness, wine, chocolate, and angst over the minutia of life.

But I’m nothing if not persistent. I’ve not given up. I’ve renewed my renouncement of my drug and have managed to conquer 3 whole days with no sugar, with Day 4 just hours away from being ass-whooped.

And so it was, with little enthusiasm but a hopeful heart, that this morning I donned my Guinness T-shirt and jean shorts, took a jaunt to the scale and then outside for my Transformation Tuesday photo.

 

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Surprisingly, I’m 10 pounds lighter than when I first started this journey. I’m currently at 320. So that means that I must have managed to rid myself of 3 pounds during the past couple months.  My initial reaction to this photo was incredible disappointment, but then I took a moment to compare all of my progress photos thus far, and I observed something:  My fat rolls are definitely creeping south, drastically so.  So there is either less fat or less water retention buoying those puppies up.  It’s a snail’s pace but beyond my expectations, so I’ll take it!

I started my weight training regime again two days ago (a maneuver that instantaneously improved my sleep quality), and the intention is to continue building muscle whilst managing my eating.

Can I just tell you that I’m headed out of town for a beloved cousin’s wedding this weekend and I’m terrified? I know it’s going to be a wine-and-cake kind of weekend and I will let you know up front that I will be partaking. It’s how we celebrate everything and it’s been so long since I’ve seen my family. And I want to. That’s the bottom line, isn’t it?

Do I have a plan? Yes. Well, sort of. Just jump back on track Monday. I’ve already recruited my husband as my accountability partner, a task he seems to be all too eager to take on (I suppose I’ll forgive him), as well as committed to updating you the following day, Tuesday, August 25, 2015.

So until then, thank you for sticking with me and have an incredible week!

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Two Funerals and a Wedding

Nope, it’s not a hokey movie sequel. It’s been my life of late, and let me tell you right out of the gate that I am just not the kind of person who can maintain a healthy lifestyle during times of distress.

Two weeks ago my family lost a very dear friend after a year-long battle with cancer. It’s still such a challenge to wrap my head around the fact that he is no longer.

That same week, I attended a wedding wherein my husband was the Best Man and my daughter, a bridesmaid. The marrying couple and bridal party were also rather connected with the friend who had passed away just days earlier. In fact, one of the groomsmen was actually the deceased man’s son. As you can imagine, the weekend was just emotional all the way around.

Last week, another friend of ours was mowing his lawn when he was apparently stung by a wasp and went into anaphylactic shock and died a day later. So much turmoil in such a short span of time!

Finally, my husband’s spirits were sunken by the news that a founding member of his all‑favorite progressive rock band Yes, Chris Squire, passed away yesterday after a short bout with Leukemia. Of course he didn’t know the man personally, but when you’ve become so connected to one’s art for as long as my husband has been, the loss is still profoundly felt.

Despite having an incredible support network of the dearest friends imaginable, I still found myself reaching for my usual comforts: Sugar and alcohol. But after a tear-fueled beer, wine and cake fest, I’m again back on track. Have I ever told you that I’m an incredible optimist? I’ve always been. In the words of Chumbawumba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” I’m sorry. I had to go there.

So that’s the update as to where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. I woke up this morning and started back on health eating plan, which, just to reiterate, is tailored to my body type of estrogen dominance and subsequent hypothyroidism. Heavy on the raw greens, moderate on the protein, moderate to high on the healthy fats, and void of sugar and processed carbohydrates. It sounds unpleasant, but I assure you that after two days, the sugar cravings are gone and I actually have started to crave the greens and vegetables. There has been no formal exercise to speak of, but I spent this past Saturday helping a friend move from one apartment to another, both on the second floor, and my already-massive calves seem to be in a permanently contracted state from running up and down stairs carrying furniture and heavy boxes for hours.

Anyhoodle my friends, I got this!

Look for an update post with a photo very soon. Until then, have an awesome week!

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4 Pounds Down! Transformation Tuesday 6/9, with Photo

Did you know that a healthy liver is very, very crucial to fat burning? I might have heard that at some point but never really paid attention until I started watching Dr. Eric Berg’s videos on YouTube. Of all the weight loss experts I’ve paid attention to, he makes the most sense to me.

I’ve discovered that I am the “T-type” or Thyroid Body Type, which is indicated by the way I gain weight – all over! An underlying cause of the T-type’s difficulty in burning fat is the thyroid gland. This corroborates my doctor’s finding more than 10 years ago that my thyroid was not working as it should; however, I was frustrated over the migraines caused by synthetic thyroid hormone medication and never followed through with the treatment. I have since learned that hypothyroidism is almost always a secondary condition (unless one has been exposed to radiation), and because conventional thyroid treatment does not treat the underlying cause of hypothyroidism, patients on synthetic thyroid rarely lose weight, so I don’t feel much regret over foregoing the medication.

80% of our thyroid function occurs in the liver. One of the liver’s 500-plus functions is to convert T4 hormone into active T3 hormone. A congested or sluggish liver will affect the thyroid’s ability to perform its primary function – metabolism!

High levels of estrogen will also negatively impact the thyroid gland. Estrogen competes with thyroid hormone and blocks the receptors in the gland to inhibit the uptake of thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. As I’m also estrogen dominant, this no doubt has contributed to my weight gain.

After a lot of research, my takeaway from all of this is that I need to get my body healthy in order to lose the weight, not the other way around. And that mindset has been working for me!

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I can report a 4-pound weight loss this week! I am pretty psyched about it. This morning after my husband took this week’s Transformation Tuesday photo, I compared it with last week’s (I chose the same shirt for consistency) and noticed a very subtle change in the way I am carrying my stomach fat now. It’s much droopier and hangs quite a bit lower than last week. It’s awkward and uncomfortable but I’m really trying to be positive about it.

So what have I been doing? Well, I’m still abstaining from sugar and starches, but still giving myself some leeway on the weekend. This past weekend I had a bonfire to go to and I had a piece of cake and one cocktail. A Bombay Sapphire and tonic with lime. I nursed that drink the entire evening, along with several glasses of water. Sunday I didn’t even feel like having anything unhealthy. In the interests of cleansing my liver, I have been juicing a grapefruit or two in the morning, and eating a lot of greens throughout the day. I’m actually starting to crave them now. I hadn’t planned on so much kale and spinach salad, but I’ve reached the point where if I have a choice between cooked veggies or raw greens, I choose the greens. My salads also have a lot of healthy fats in them in the form of extra virgin olive oil, olives or avocados. I have a little fish or shrimp with my greens and if I get really hungry in the afternoons during my really sluggish time, I will have a few nuts, an egg or I will break out the kale chips. I have not had cravings at all, which is a victory in itself.

Cooler still, this has all been without exercise! I know I need to exercise, but it just didn’t happen much this week at all due to crummy weather and my lack of enthusiasm.

Finally, I’m really trying to improve my sleeping habits. All fat loss happens when we sleep and if we aren’t getting sufficient quality sleep, we aren’t burning fat. It’s that simple. This is a really difficult thing for me to do. I really don’t sleep well at night and so getting to bed earlier and putting my phone and tablet outside the bedroom on a table in the hallway is really difficult for me, but I’m doing it. Last night I fell asleep rather early, but kept waking up every hour until 5:00 a.m. Perhaps tonight will be an improvement.

All in all, a good productive week! The weight loss gives me a little more motivation. I can do this. Until next time, have a great week!

 

 

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Transformation Tuesday, On a Wednesday

Today is Wednesday, so I’m a day late with my Transformation Tuesday post. I apologize for the delay, but crummy weather and irritating circumstances prevented this post from going up yesterday.

Do we know what the link is between extreme humidity and water retention? I couldn’t find anything concrete on the Internet. Despite the past five days of very clean eating, I’m retaining so much water. My rings don’t fit my fingers and buttoning a pair of jeans this morning was more torture than usual. I haven’t been drinking as much water as I really need to, so I can’t really cry foul yet. But I’m not drinking soda or alcohol and aside from the occasional sip of black coffee – no sweetener of any sort either – I just can’t seem to release the water. So I will up my intake of H2o and see what comes of it.

The scale is showing no change. At all. I’m trying not to be too disappointed as 1) Numbers aren’t everything; and 2) The aforementioned water retention. The past five days have been kale and spinach salads with cashews, olive oil, and lots of fresh veggies; grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed by yours truly; and roasted salmon and green beans. Sunday night I had a setback of three Oreo cookies and a bag of microwave popcorn; and Monday afternoon while babysitting my nephews, I had a mini pack of peanut butter crackers, so I’ve not been strictly clean.

I’ve noticed that the challenge with food comes between late afternoon and evening before I go to bed. I tried to combat this yesterday by making a batch of kale chips, for the first time. I got the dinosaur kale variety from my mom’s garden, washed and dried the leaves, tossed with olive oil, salt and Italian seasoning and laid the leaves out onto the racks of my dehydrator. I actually forgot all about the kale until this morning. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The “chips” have the texture of seaweed or nori wraps, but a much better taste. I think I can happily eat these when I get the munchies.

Exercise has been light to moderate. No heavy weight training like I had intended. The walking has been sparse as well. The weather has been extremely hot and humid, and we’ve gotten a lot of storms and rain as well, which keeps me indoors.

Here is the result:

guiness

The shirt I’m wearing in this photo shows my fat rolls in all their glory, much more so than the black shirt in the previous photo. But until I do something about it, it is what it is. I have noticed that the subcutaneous fat in my belly and hip region has gotten a lot mushier and sags more. From what I’ve read, this is a good thing because it means that toxins are being moved out of the fat cells. If anyone knows any differently, please feel free to let me know.

Thanks for reading and until next time, have a great day!

 

 

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Blah…

I haven’t felt much like writing these days, and I’ve found myself feeling guilty over it. In analyzing the matter, I think that I’m just expecting too much from myself. I mean that in the fact that I am really afraid to put myself out there. I find even after I write a blog post, I review and revise, and review and revise some more. Nothing I write is ever good enough. I start out with raw emotional material and rework it until I feel it resembles something I feel that someone else might want to read; not necessarily how I really want to express myself.

I came to this realization after watching a video by a really great and funny YouTuber who goes by the name Crabstickz. He recently acknowledged his frustration over his apparent fear of authenticity and I realized that I have been essentially viewing my posts in the same light. While far from perfect, I’m still spending way too much time agonizing over the quality of my writing and less time just communicating to those gracious enough to read my blog. This is definitely slowing down my output and as an added consequence, giving me an excuse (albeit a lame one) to put off really giving my all to getting healthy. This also tells me that my motives for getting into shape are not healthy either. If I’m truly dedicated to losing weight, gaining strength and being healthy, what I write or don’t write shouldn’t matter, and whether or not you read this won’t make a bit of difference, right? These are just some of the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Tomorrow I will be posting an update, picture and numbers included, of my weight loss status, no matter the result. I’ve been eating fairly healthy, but I’ve definitely not been stringent in my diet or exercise. I’ve been eating protein and salads, juicing grapefruits and still drinking a lot of water. I’ve also had the occasional sugar (cake, cookies). It’s so hard for me to stop that. I’ve also been pretty lax in my exercise the past two weeks. I’ve exercised a few times, maybe four? I haven’t made a habit of it.

So that’s what’s been going on (or not) on my end. I will be posting, like I said, an update tomorrow of my slow-going weight loss journey. Until then, have a wonderful day!

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Transformation Tuesday 5/19, No Change, Whiteboards

Well, it’s Tuesday, that time again. The results are not impressive, let me be honest.

It’s been an insane past week and weekend, as I knew it would be. I had two big cake projects to complete for Saturday and it was stressful. I say this every time I make a cake, but I’m going to say it again. I don’t care if I never see cake again! Of course that will only last a few weeks. We all know I love cake.

Surprisingly, I didn’t eat much cake at all. For the wedding I made a three-tiered cake that included a 12-inch white cake with fresh strawberry butter cream filling and then 9 and 6-inch tiers of dark chocolate cake with hazelnut mocha butter cream filling. The entire thing was covered in vanilla Swiss butter cream. Once we delivered and cut the cake, I tasted a very fine sliver of the vanilla cake.

That same evening, we then delivered a two-tiered white/vanilla cake with the strawberry butter cream filling and then came home and collapsed into bed, but not before I downed an entire bottle of Cab Sav. Ugh. When I woke up the next morning, my legs looked like tree trunks. Also, while I truly didn’t think much about eating all weekend due to the cake mess in my kitchen and stressful deadline, I did grab a veggie pizza one night for convenience and had three slices.

So here it is, Transformation Tuesday and you’re looking for results! So, drum roll please…. No change. None. Not one pound more; not one pound less. I’m relieved. I did manage to get three workouts in last week so the week was not a total loss.

However nonchalant I may seem, I am committed. Yesterday I ate a lot of steamed broccoli and some chicken and finished the evening off with salmon and a nice kale and spinach salad. No wine, and lots of water. I went to the store yesterday and filled my fridge with greens and vegetables and made sure there was no wine in the house to tempt me.

I’m about to go do my workout for the day (obviously the early morning workouts aren’t happening for me) and I have a plate of chicken and steamed veggies waiting for me when I’m finished.

In other news, business for my husband and me has been… busy. We’ve gotten into whiteboard animations through our joint company and I’ve decided to start incorporating the whiteboards into my blog for a more entertaining and engaging feel. I hope you will feel free to give me honest feedback. Until then, my friends, have a wonderful day!

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Transformation Tuesday: 3 Pounds Lost!

It’s a small accomplishment and a surprise considering the fact that I didn’t keep my eating clean this week (after a rough few days I uncorked a bottle of red wine last night, drank a glass and also had some tortilla chips with my guacamole. The salt, sugar and alcohol has me so bloated today, my fingers look like sausages!). I believe the exercise was the real hero and I intend to keep that up.

Sugar is and has always been my crack. In fact, it’s been stated by researchers that a sugar addiction is more difficult to overcome than a drug addiction. It’s little wonder then that sugar has been given so many deceptive names, and continues to confuse even savvy consumers. I’m not sure I would necessarily categorize myself as savvy, but I know when I’m eating sugar. It’s a somewhat conscious overthrow of my will when I break down and eat it. Figuring out why is proving a challenge, as I already suspected it would. How can I overcome something I haven’t yet established?

Honestly, I think I do have clues as to why I’m in this situation. Old traumas and ensuing deep psychological issues have ensured a nice fatty cocoon of protection from having to deal with the stresses of a “normal” everyday life. The problem is, this kind of life brings on its own set of stresses. I tell myself that I would gladly trade one set for the other. So what gives?

While I’m figuring that out, I will keep struggling on this journey. Three pounds is only a start, so I won’t let myself be discouraged over it. As I’ve got a crazy week and weekend ahead of me, I will simply do the best I can until the chaos is over and on Monday I will really dig in my heels and be strict with my eating habits. In the meantime, I will continue to exercise, drink a lot of water and maintain a positive attitude!

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5/9 Update Post

I didn’t really plan on posting anything until Tuesday, when I will be weighing myself and posting an update picture, but I just found myself in the mood to write.

I’m surprised to say I’m feeling great. Despite a few setbacks this week (all sugar based – more detail below), I’m managing to keep up the workouts, which for me is huge. It’s 9:00 p.m. here and though I’ve not yet worked out today I’m itching to do so and will make sure to squeeze it in before bed.

I’ve been drinking from 48 to 72 ounces of water per day. It’s not quite my gallon (128 ounces) goal, but it’s still more water than I was drinking before. Additionally, despite my insistence that I would NEVER give up my coffee, I’ve just been making myself a cup every morning but not taking more than a sip or two. I’ve had a bit of voice work this week and I find that copious amounts of caffeine tends to dry me out a bit and make recording difficult. The water has been so helpful and I was told that my recordings were better than usual, though I have a sneaking suspicion that might be more due to my positive attitude than anything else.

My diet has been mostly raw vegetables (kale, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes); some raw fruits; chicken or beef and the occasional eggs or cooked beans and veggies (My husband made a spicy vegetarian chili).

Alas! My sugar status has not been boast-worthy. Wednesday night my husband was feeling celebratory after a small personal victory which resulted in milkshakes. Mine was peanut butter fudge and I felt it long after. Dairy has never been my friend.

Yesterday I went a bit crazy when I came across plates of cookies and chips at my brother’s house that his wife had set out for everyone. I resisted for an hour but eventually “just one” snowballed into several. I didn’t let it get me down though. I came home, brushed my teeth (a trick that helps me so much), consumed a 24-ounce Mason jar of ice water and made sure to get my workout in.

Against my own judgment I weighed myself last night and was pleasantly surprised. I don’t want to become a slave to numbers, as I understand that the scale is not the final word in fat loss, but since I’m just starting out on this weight loss journey, I’ve decided to pay some attention to the numbers on the scale for a little while. I won’t divulge them today, but Tuesday I will be sure to post them along with a picture.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

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Good Start Despite Mean Trees

Full of enthusiasm for my new weight loss venture – and a bit of guilt over my breakfast of three browned-butter chocolate-chip cookies my daughter had baked the night before – I met my friend Val after work at a nearby park for some good old fashioned walking.  I’m not a big fan of walking in the 80-plus degree weather but since I’ve got a goal now, I figured I’d better suck it up and get my butt moving.
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