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Low Carb Love Affair

A few weeks ago I shared the story of my lifetime of dieting, and I promised to write about the healthy changes I’ve made.  Since this morning I visited the wellness nurse and can now report I have lost 45 lbs. since taking charge of my health at the end of March, it seems like a good time to fulfill that promise!

After years of looking askance at the claims of low-carb enthusiasts, and being absolutely sure that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, I am now a convert.  I won’t bore you with the latest science because you can google as well as I can.  Let’s just say it makes sense to me, and that the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the lack thereof.

Like I wrote before, I am a diet expert, and this is the easiest diet I have ever been on.  If you want to get healthy, and lose weight, and feel good, and never be hungry, this is the diet for you.

I had to make a couple of major changes that were very difficult for me.  The first one was giving up cereal.  I loved cereal, and I not only ate it for breakfast every morning, I also had a bowl right before bed every night.  When I first decided to make healthy changes, but before I met with the wellness nurse, I went out and bought a lot of very healthy whole grain cereals, only to find out at my first appointment that pretty much all cereal is too high in carbohydrates for it to work in a low carb diet.  I was EXTREMELY attached to that evening bowl of cereal and it was hard to get past that but I did.

The other super hard thing was coffee.  Coffee is fine on a low carb diet, but not when it’s full of sugar.  So I started by cutting the number of cups per day rather than cutting the sugar!  Slowly (one week at a time) I cut the sugar by .5 tsp until I could drink it with nothing but cream.  This was huge!

I now cook exclusively with butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.  Remember when coconut oil was bad and canola oil was good?  Well, forget that.  I don’t even use Pam (or the generic equivalent) anymore.

Giving up bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice is not hard in the sense that I crave and want those things and feel sad about them but rather in the sense that they are ubiquitous and seem almost necessary!  So I have a few substitutes:  low carb bread that you can get at Kroger for an occasional sandwich (about twice a week); low carb wraps (also from Kroger) that can be used in lieu of hot dog buns, or to make burritos; low carb sandwich thins for hamburgers or black bean burgers; and mashed cauliflower with cheese instead of mashed potatoes.  I’ve heard of some pasta and rice substitutes that I haven’t tried yet, but mostly I just have given those up for now.

Someone asked me the other day if I still go out to eat and the answer is yes, absolutely!  Eating out is easy on this diet.  At American restaurants order steak, chicken, or fish and substitute broccoli for the customary baked potato and take the complimentary bread home to your kids.  At Asian restaurants get meat and veggies and just eat a couple of bites of the rice.  If you must go to Italian restaurants, get a non-pasta entree.  At Panera Bread or the like, get salad and soup instead of the sandwich.

It can be a little daunting to remember what is low carb and what is not, but if you have an iPhone you are in luck!  Yes, Siri can count your carbs for you.  And of course before long you will more or less know, just like you know how many calories or points or fat grams are in things after awhile when you follow those kinds of diets.

On a typical day I eat two scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast.  I have hummus with vegetables, or apple slices with peanut butter, or handfuls of nuts for snacks most of the time.  And you are encouraged to have two or three snacks (and lots of water) each day, to keep your metabolism moving.  For lunch I try to go heavy on vegetables.  For supper I focus more on the meat.  I am eating all the things I have avoided my entire dieting life, and it turns out that these are the things that make you feel full and satisfied.  I AM NEVER HUNGRY.

Now that I basically know how many carbs most things have in them, I don’t really count them.  Supposedly I’m allowed to have about 40 a day, but my philosophy is just to try to avoid them as much as possible so that if I need to go over ever (this happens sometimes when we are eating out at a church function or some other place where the menu is not under my control) it will sort of even itself out.  So unlike other diets, there is nothing to count or write down (although that might be useful if you are having problems staying on track) and no meal plans to follow.  THIS IS EASY.

Will I eat this way forever?  Not exactly, but probably in a modified way.  For example, I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that whole grains and beans are bad.  So when all my numbers are below where they should be, and I have lost all the weight I want to, I will likely reintroduce these items occasionally.  I do still eat small amounts of beans and brown rice even now.

Below are some examples of easy, delicious, and lower carb meals I have been enjoying.

Tuna salad made with actual mayonnaise, pickles, onions, cucumbers, celery, and tomato:

Food Tuna Salad

Tomatoes, black olives, olive oil, and brown rice:

Food brown rice olives feta

Tomato, fresh basil, and mozzarella:

food tomato basil mozzarella salad

 

Salad with artisan lettuce mix, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and Green Goddess dressing:

salad

Have you ever tried low carb eating?  Any other life-change success stories to share with us in the comments?

 

When I told everyone I wanted to homeschool Lorelei this year, they said, “How will you possibly find the time to do that?”

See, even though I am at home, I am not strictly what the internets call a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), terminology which implies that I don’t work.  (LOL.  No one works harder than a stay-at-home-mom.)  I am a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) only since what I do is act as my husband’s legal assistant/secretary/office manager, I don’t even get paid!

Over the past four years, what started out as me answering the phone while I went about my usual business has morphed into a job that keeps me at my desk from 8:30 to 1:30 or so most days, and let’s not even discuss nights and weekends.  I’m not complaining about this sweet deal which allows me to pretty much structure my own time and take care of my family the way I want to, but I guess it was reasonable for people to wonder how I was going to fit teaching school into that.

But it hasn’t been difficult at all, really.  We start by reading about the saint of the day and saying a prayer around 8:30, and then I get her started on her first assignment and I start on my work.  When she finishes we take a minute to talk about the next thing she’s doing, and then we both return to our solitary labors.  She sits right in the office with me at John’s desk, since he’s usually at court.  By 1:30 p.m., she’s done.

Instead of making my life harder, homeschooling has made it easier.  Last year, I had to get up around 6:00 a.m., wake up two kids, fix two breakfasts and two lunches, and make sure two kids were dressed and ready to leave the house on time.  This year, I get to sleep until 7:00 a.m., probably what John and I would both agree is the number one best change homeschooling has occasioned.  It is daylight when we wake up and getting out of bed is easy.  No more that awful first-day-of-school feeling where you think, “Oh my God, do I really have to do this every day for the next nine months?”  And the effects last all day–I rarely feel like I need to nap in the afternoon, and I always felt that way last year whether there was time to do so or not.

Last year, I had to get dressed every morning and drive William to school while John took Lorelei.  This year, I can stay in my pajamas all day if I want, because John takes William and Lorelei stays right here.

Last year, I had to stop working no later than 2:00 p.m. to shower and dress for the school pick up odyssey, which started with the 20-minute drive to Sacred Heart, followed by the drive back to Cedar Bluff to get William.  With one thing or another, I was in the car for about 1.5 hours, and I was usually struggling to stay awake.  It was miserable, and I dreaded it.  This year, we pop out at 3:30 p.m. to get William from school five minutes down the road.  Lorelei doesn’t even have to come along if she doesn’t want to.  And there have been many days when pickup time coincides with John’s return from court, so I don’t have to leave the house all day!

Last year, while fighting over homework with William, I also had to deal with Lorelei’s chronic homework stress.  I had to discipline her when she didn’t start her work until close to bedtime.  I had to help with awful torturous activities like constructing dioramas and making saints out of Pepsi bottles and styrofoam balls.  No more.  This year, I choose the school work around here, and there is no homework at all.

Last year, there were school meetings to attend, and folders to sign, and papers to review and return.  This year, we still have these things, but only for one child and one school.  We have more free time and more family time in the evenings.

Last year we were stressed out.  This year we are still stressed out, but not about school.  Lorelei is happy, and so am I.

All Saints 10

 

I spend a lot of time promoting South Knoxville trails on this blog, and rightly so, since South Knoxville to most Knoxvillians is the Undiscovered Country.  But the fact is, it isn’t the only place to walk in town.  And it’s a good thing, because I am exiled to Northwest Knox County and I don’t have time for a thirty minute drive every time I want to take a walk.  Nor do I enjoy the only safe non-driving option of walking up our very steep hill and around a couple of cul-de-sacs.  (Knox County motto:  We don’t need no stinkin’ sidewalks.)

Lucky for me, West Knoxville offers several greenways too, and I’ve written about some of them here and here.  However, some of our very nice greenways have a drawback:  they aren’t loops.  When you are in a hurry and want to do some exercise walking, loops are what you want.  I expect that’s why Lakeshore Park, with its 2.2 mile loop, is so popular.

I have found four loops trails within five minutes of my neighborhood.  Lorelei and I go walking every Wednesday–gym for her, fitness for me!  I walk with a friend every Friday.  Emily and I try to walk during the week as well as on Sunday (even though some times it’s just up that despised hill!).  And I do hope to start coaxing John on walks once it gets cooler.  Below are some of the places we go.

1.  Nicholas Ball Park

This is the closest park to our house.  It’s on Ball Camp Pike, which if I thought about it at all when I was a child I assumed referred to the fact that the nearest baseball field was located on that road.  You can read about the actual source of the name in the picture below:

photo credit: Donald Raby

As a park, this one is replete with every attribute:  a bathroom, a picnic shelter, baseball and soccer fields, a small playground, and trails.  There are two of these, one your basic loop around the soccer field, where people always seem to be having so much fun that I almost feel interested in soccer, and the other a short climb up and down a hill where you can see majestic cedar trees and a smattering on wildflowers.

Nicholas Ball

We usually do the hill trail, then do as many loops as we have time or energy for, then do the hill trail one more time.

2.  U.S. Cellular Trails

I hate to call them that, but anyway, if you park at the soccer field you can loop around the main trail and you can also shake it up by incorporating the sidewalks on the bisecting road to do some figure eights if you get bored.  And you could easily get bored if you don’t bring a friend along to talk to, because there’s not a whole lot to see!  I did catch some pretty sunset pictures there one evening:

fedex 8

fedex 9

And got pretty close to a bunny:

fedex 7

And then there’s this house which I have always loved and would pick up and move somewhere safe if I could.  I remember when Lovell Road was two lanes and this was nestled in the woods.  I dread the day when I drive by and it’s gone.

fedex 5

fedex 4

3.  All Saints

As part of our religion curriculum, Lorelei and I attend Mass every Wednesday morning at All Saints Church, the closest Catholic church to our house, just three miles away.  Afterwards, we walk around the trails and then I let her play on the playground.  This trail offers special opportunities for prayer as well as exercise, as well as flowers and interesting trees.

All Saints 2

All Saints 3

All Saints 4

There’s a bench in the area below, where I usually take a break while Lorelei plays on the playground for a few minutes.

All Saints 5

All Saints  6

All Saints 7

All Saints 8

One section has the Stations of the Cross, which we plan to come back to pray during Lent.

All Saints 9

all saints 5

all saints 8

all saints 2

The Marian Garden:

All Saints 1

all saints 4

all saints

All Saints 11

All Saints 10

all saints 6

4.  Fort Sanders West Trail

I don’t have any pictures of this one but want to mention it anyway.  It’s a big loop that runs around the campus of Fort Sanders West.  There’s plenty of parking, or course, and it’s ideal if you are feeling motivated to exercise after a visit to your doctor.

So there you have it!  If you live in West Knoxville and thought South Knoxville was too far, what’s your excuse for not walking now?

I’m linking up again with This That and the Other Thing for Sunday Snippets, a weekly roundup of Catholic bloggers.

Question of the week:  With which ministries/activities within your parish are you involved?

I don’t like this question!  Once upon a time I could have written a long paragraph on this topic.  I was involved in so much, from running the Moms’ Group to serving on the Pastoral Council.  And that doesn’t even count the Diocesan activities and the parish school activities I was doing at the same time!  But that was a different season in my life and I sometimes wonder how on earth I had the time and the energy for all the things I did back then.  Still, it seems like so little so say that at the moment all I do is sing in the choir.

However, our parish has not had a choir in years.  And when we did, I had little kids who needed me in the pew with them.  I am enjoying choir so much, and am glad that THIS season allows me to be able to join in!

And now a roundup of this week’s posts, which is really easy because despite the many many posts I’ve written in my head this week, the only one that made it into print, as it were was this one:

Five Favorite Cities

Maybe this week will be better!

Five Favorite Cities

It’s time again for Five Favorites, which is now a traveling linkup, hosted this week by Mary at Atelier.

five favorites

Today I’m going to write about five of my favorite cities.  Now I’m no world traveler or anything, so don’t expect anything obscure or unusual!

1.  Mobile, Alabama

I’ve been hearing stories about Mobile since I was a little girl, in which it was presented to me as akin to an ancestral homeland.   That’s because not only was my grandmother’s mother born there, but we could trace our roots there back to this guy:

My ggggrandfather Confederate General James D. Hagan, who was born in Ireland.

My ggggrandfather Confederate General James D. Hagan, who was born in Ireland.

My mother visited cousins there often as a child, and told us stories of swimming in the Mobile Bay.  My grandmother, too, spent summers there as a child, and well into her elder years used to drive down there occasionally to see family and bring home crab for gumbo.  I vaguely recall two visits there when I was a child.

When Emily decided to go to college there we were absolutely thrilled, and I know Mima would have been too.  What with dropping her off and picking her up for various breaks, and attending Family Weekend at Spring Hill each year, we had ample time to visit and explore Mobile, which offers streets lined with restored historical properties, a nearby beach, and delectable seafood.  We miss our frequent visits and are considering going down for a weekend just for the food.  Seriously.

USS Alabama

Detail from Felix’s Fish Camp, one of Mobile’s many restaurants

2.  Charleston, South Carolina

I’ve been to Charleston twice.  The first time marked the last vacation I ever took with my parents and sisters; the second was a Spring Break trip with my roommate and then-boyfriend-now-husband my junior year at Georgetown.  I’ve been wanting to get back there ever since.  Through the nostalgic lens of the past the place has taken on a mythical significance, probably helped by my devotion to Pat Conroy’s writings.

This is the only picture I have handy from either trip:

John in Charleston, not doing a very good job at simulated hopping, March 1988

So that doesn’t exactly demonstrate why I loved the place.  Things I remember include the architecture, the near-deserted beach at Wild Dunes (the resort where my family stayed), the terrifying bridge (now, I believed, replaced), and The Trawler, an incredible restaurant at which I ordered a seafood platter that had absolutely everything on it and remains the standard by which I judge such things 30 years later.  (It’s closed now, but I suspect there are still a few good seafood places in Charleston!)  John and the big boys visited Charleston for a Cub Scout outing that included a night spent on a battleship, but that was ten years ago, so I think it’s time we got back down there!

3.  Savannah, Georgia

Our whole family fell in love with Savannah when we visited a few summers ago.  There is something for everyone in or near Savannah:  architecture, history, beaches, shopping, and FOOD! (You are probably seeing by now what is really important to us in picking a vacation destination.)

4.  Washington, D.C.

It’s an obvious choice, I know, but even after living in D.C. for four years and just outside it for another, I never get tired of visiting.  So many people make the mistake of thinking they can “do” D.C. in five days, but it just isn’t possible.

Everyone knows about the Smithsonians, of course, and that they are free, but in your rush to the Air and Space Museum, don’t forget the Botanical Gardens, or the Holocaust Museum, or the National Archives.  A person could spend days in any one of the museums.  As for the monuments, touring them at night is the best.  As for food, D.C. is an international city with every kind of cuisine you could want or imagine.  I recommend 1789 in Georgetown for an unforgettable French dinner (if you can afford it–we’ve done this exactly once!).

At Theodore Roosevelt Island, a lesser known memorial

Georgetown University, always a must-visit on our D.C. trips

5.  Knoxville, Tennessee

I bet y’all knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?  You can read just a few of the reasons here.  Other than that, I’ll just let some of these images do that talking for me.

Downtown Knoxville, Spring 2014

Downtown Knoxville, Spring 2014

Melton Hill Lake, Northwest Knox County

Tennessee River near downtown

Stormclouds over downtown, summer 2014

What about you?  What are your favorite cities?  And for more favorites of various kinds, you can visit the linkup here.

 

Linking up with This and That for the weekly roundup of Catholic bloggers.  Not much to round up for me this week though I am afraid . . .

Question of the week:  What is your favorite hymn or song you hear at Mass?

What a question!  Anyone who has been reading this blog for long knows that I am much more likely to be talking about the songs I didn’t like and the ones I didn’t hear.  Yesterday I was privileged to attend a Diocesan Mass for married couples, and the prelude included The Gift of Love, which was played at our wedding.  On the Feast of the Assumption, we sang Holy is Your Name, which I have loved since I first heard it at our parish’s Anniversary Mass several years ago.  But I didn’t hear either of these much-loved songs at my own church, sadly.  Although many consider the poetry bad and the tune overused, I do get happy when we sing Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.

As for the roundup part of this post . . . I’m not sure what I was doing this week, but it wasn’t blogging.  All I have to share this week is my Five Favorites posts, but it’s particularly appropriate for Sunday Snippets since I wrote about some favorite saints!

Thanks for reading and I will try to have more content this week.

Five Favorite Saints

So for my Five Favorites today, I would like to share five of my favorite saints!

five favorites

1.  Saint Peter

Saint Peter by Paul Rubens

Peter is absolutely my favorite saint.  He’s so endearing.  I find myself shaking my head and smiling when listening to his exploits at Mass.  So enthusiastic.  So clueless!  So like us.  Peter blathered about building booths for Jesus and company at the Transfiguration, leading the Gospel writer to opine, “He did not really know what he was saying.”  Peter denied Jesus.  Peter tried to walk on water and sank instead.  But Peter also was the first to name Jesus as Messiah, and he was the rock on which Jesus chose to build His Church.  How inspiring for all of us that Jesus chose this imperfect soul to be the first Pope, demonstrating that faith and love, not education and ability, are what count most.

2.  Saint Monica

Saint Monica by John Nava

St. Monica’s feast was last week and it was then that I suddenly realized I should be praying to her!  My kids are nowhere near as wayward as St. Augustine was in his wild younger days, but all mothers pray for their children and who better to be our patron than this mother whose prayers were answered in such  a spectacular fashion?

3.  Saint Bernadette

Saint Bernadette

I chose her as my Confirmation saint after reading (and re-reading and re-reading) The Song of Bernadette.  My visit to Lourdes as a teenager remains a highlight of my life. An uneducated peasant girl who never sought out sainthood and who was unexceptional in every way before her visions, she is a reminder to all of us that God can use anyone and that anyone who accepts a mission from God will be given the grace to carry it out.  I’ve written more about her here.

4.  Saint Patrick

Even if you aren’t Catholic, you probably know all about St. Patrick; he’s that popular.  But aside from the fun of St. Patrick’s Day, I feel a special debt to him which you can read about here.

5.  Saint Theodore the Written Upon

Saint Theodore

If you went to Catholic school you probably recall being made to dress up like your patron saint for All Saints Day.  Coming up with costumes for these occasions for my kids has always been a challenge since I am not what you would call crafty, but I was very pleased one year to send Teddy off to school wrapped in a sheet and with the first few lines of the inscription that was carved into the head of this poor martyr written on his forehead in red ink.

Who are your favorite saints?  You can tell me in the comments below.  And check out Mama Knows, Honeychild for more favorites!

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