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Educate Yourself

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , Categories: Health & Nutrition

As a general rule, I don’t watch documentaries. I break that rule from time to time, but rarely. It’s not that I don’t like a good documentary, but there are certain topics I feel that I am pretty knowledgeable about, and when a documentary comes along that supports my conclusions on a given topic or exposes the selfish agenda of agencies or individuals who are supposed to be helping individuals, raging righteous indignation sets in, and I don’t often handle my feelings in the most appropriate way. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that I sometimes possess a kindred understanding of people who say and do bat-shit crazy things seemingly out of the blue to get a point across.

My husband, by contrast, is a documentary junkie. Working from home enables him to indulge in this obsession pretty much day and night. Of the two monitors set up on his desk in his home office, one is always, without fail, running a documentary of some sort. And also without fail, after each film, my husband will give me an account of what he’s just watched and try to persuade me to watch as well. I always tell him no thanks. Until last week, that is.

About a week ago, I gave in and sat down on the couch with my husband and watched a documentary called “That Sugar Film.” The documentary was made by an Australian man, Damon Gameau, who decided to embark on a 60‑day experiment wherein he would consume Australia’s national average of 40 teaspoons of sugar per day and record the changes to his otherwise healthy body and mind. This was remarkable for him, as he had been sugar-free (including no processed foods) for 3 years. The aim of this rather light-hearted documentary with a serious message is to educate about the real toxic effects of sugar on our bodies in the quantities that Western nations consume it. As far as health documentaries go, it was mild, as well as entertaining. I highly recommend taking some time to watch it.

A couple nights later, serious PMS and a nasty cold took me down, and as I could find nothing worthwhile on the television, and Gameau’s sugar documentary was still on my mind, I decided to Netflix Katie Couric’s documentary, “Fed Up”, another documentary my husband has been talking incessantly about and trying to get me to watch with him. It highlights the pervasiveness of sugars in our diet and our government’s long-time complicity with the food manufacturers in keeping the population in the dark about nutrition, while continually pushing the garbage products. The film features families with obese children who are struggling to lose weight, and dumbfounded that cutting calories, consuming goods labeled as “heart healthy” or “fat free” and incorporating exercise don’t seem to work as far as promoting healthy minds and bodies.

My takeaway from this documentary is 1.) Processed sugar is killing us – Literally. It’s toxic, it’s addictive and not one of its many forms is better than another. Learn the various names for processed sugar and read labels. Better yet, stop eating processed foods. Buy healthy wholesome ingredients and cook for yourself; and 2.) Take the time to educate yourself on nutrition. Don’t look to the government recommendations to lead you in the right direction. There are so many different approaches to health, some more insane than others, but be objective. Ask questions. Find out what’s in the food you’re eating and find out why and how foods affect your body in the way that they do. Better yet, stop eating processed foods! Buy healthy wholesome ingredients and cook for yourself!

Where have I heard that before?


On the Road Again (to Health)

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , , , , , Categories: Weight Loss Journey Progress

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!


Two Funerals and a Wedding

by Colleen ElizabethTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Categories: Weight Loss Journey Progress

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!