Sunday, May 22, 2016

Retreat Down Memory Lane

This weekend we headed up to White Sulphur Springs for our Bible study retreat.  Because there was a wedding up at the big new hotel, we got to stay at Harrison House.  This is where all my memories of summers spent at WSS took place, as well as memories from when we had a lot less kids, so it is a pretty special place!  I really love the comforts of the new hotel . . . but there is a lot to love about the old hotel!  They had just finished renovating all the bathrooms in Harrison House, so that was super nice.  We had such a grand time this weekend, and it was really lovely to have the place all to ourselves.  We didn't have to worry about kids disturbing people working, or anything like that.  It was great!
The weather was really quite dismal the whole weekend.  Thankfully Friday was nice, though.  As soon as we got unpacked Friday afternoon I told everyone I really wanted to get a picture of all the kids on the wagon.  Well, the wagon has seen better days, and the right rear wheel is actually not attached right now.  Instead the wagon is being held up by a block of wood, so we decided it would be better to not have *all* the kids on the wagon.  Since it rained off and on and was incredibly dreary the rest of the weekend, I was SO glad I insisted on getting pictures Friday afternoon!
One part of the deal we had for using the old hotel was that we provided our own meals, except for Saturday dinner, which they brought down for us from the big hotel.  The teenagers were amazing cooks for us.  They got up at 6:00 both mornings to make us breakfast--scrambled eggs and bacon Saturday morning, and pancakes and sausage Sunday morning.  Saturday for lunch we were supposed to have a picnic of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs up by the picnic pond, but even though it was not raining at that moment, the place was definitely drenched.  Instead, the teenage boys grilled everything and brought it back down so we could eat in the warmth and dryness of the dining room.  Amanda L was the "captain of the mess", and she ably organized everyone, and kept things in the kitchen running like clockwork!  We all brought a bunch of food--much more than we actually needed, lol.  If any sort of natural disaster had occurred, we would have been set for several more days at least!
It turned out that Saturday was not a bad day, even tough it was so dreary and overcast, because it didn't actually rain all that much.  This meant we could walk around to different places, even though it was pretty chilly.  In the morning we had a session where we shared about relationships--with God, with our spouses, with others in the Body, with nonbelievers.  It was really thought-provoking, and a good time of sharing and prayer.

Bob and I took a nice walk after lunch (although our shoes got wet!), and the kids did a lot of bowling.  They all went rock-climbing in the afternoon too, even Micah and Drew!  And of course there was lots of just visiting on the porch.  John H. and I had been discussing why everyone really likes rocking on the porch of the old hotel, even though the new hotel has a perfectly lovely porch, with a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains.  I think it's because at the old hotel, you are down in the trees, which are restful in and of themselves, and you can hear the birds and the water from the creek across the street.  It really is so peaceful.
Saturday night after our catered dinner of baked ziti, we headed over to Fort Cochran for some fun.  The kids did some impromptu charades, we sang some songs, and then we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.  The fireplace was so deep, we could fit a bunch of kids actually *in* the fireplace!  We were glad to be warm and dry though!
After the s'mores, there was an unplanned "feats of strength" portion of the program.  Caleb was the first one who was able to pull himself up onto the loft, using just his arms, followed by Nathan.  Others tried, but it was really slippery and tricky.  Eventually people started helping the younger ones up, much to their delight, and then Geoff A. made it up, representing for all the parents.  It was quite the spectacle!  We pulled out the ladder to help get all the littles down, lol.
Verity spent her weekend wandering around, being picked up by anyone she came across.  This made her quite happy, for the most part, except when she was crabby because she had just had her shots on Thursday.  What a life she has, surrounded by especially young men who cater to her every whim!  Elena gifted her with a purple Care Bear that she won at Dennys, where the McC's ate dinner on Friday night.  Verity really took to it, carrying it around everywhere and sleeping with it.
Because it was so wet and rainy the whole weekend, Verity's hair really had some curl to it, including this adorable little curl behind her right ear.
Sunday we had a time of worship, and then a devotional by Geoff A.  He and his family are preparing to retire and take their final move.  In a very moving time, he washed the feet of all the men there, and talked about how they had influenced him and his family.  At our church, Pastor Mike has been going through John, and his sermon on Jesus washing the disciples' feet was just a few weeks ago, so that was fresh in my mind, and made it all the more meaningful.  We will really miss their family!
After pizza for lunch, we all packed up and loaded up in the pouring rain--but not before I got a line picture of the kids in front of the door of the Harrison House.  I love to compare these pictures over the years and see how the kids are growing.  Verity was on her absolute last legs here, and she was very glad to get into the van and go to sleep!  Luke drove the whole way home, in which we had to stop 2 times in a 2 1/2 hour drive for various people to go potty.  And Drew (who was one of the pottiers at the first stop) STILL had an accident in his car seat!  Too much lemonade this weekend or something . . .  The stops and the rain made the trip home seem much longer than usual.  No one wanted to come home because we have testing for the next 3 days, so that is definitely not something to look forward to!

I totally paid no attention to my paleo diet this weekend.  I ate pancakes, pizza, brownies, chips . . . all things I haven't eaten in 6 weeks!  I enjoyed it too!  I'm sure I gained back 5 pounds, lol.  I guess it's back on the wagon tomorrow.  I'm very thankful for a relaxing weekend with good friends who are like family!  What a blessing!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Finishing Up

I love this time of the year, when activities are winding down, and our calendar theoretically gets emptier.
All our co-ops are done now.  TNT finished the end of April, and we had our annual ice cream party at Rivendell this past Tuesday.  All the usual topping choices, plus several different ice cream choices made for happy, full, sticky kids, all of whom were also thrilled to be done with weekly assignments, although sad to not be seeing their friends on a weekly basis anymore!

The AP biology exam was actually Monday, so I was technically done last Tuesday.  Woo-hoo!  It was a wonderful feeling to wake up on Tuesday morning and know that all I had to do was memory work!  The boys felt confidant and prepared while taking it, so that's good.  I guess we'll see when the scores come out in July.  Such a long wait!
Although I'll continue to work with the younger kids through the summer, I am quite happy this school year is coming to a close.  It's been a more frustrating one than usual, due to Caleb and Jonathan's lack of diligence and well, caring, about school this year.  It turns out grades are not much of a motivator for them, and I really haven't figured out what IS motivating.  I'm hoping it's more of a puberty thing that will be outgrown (before it's too late?!), but I will say I now understand much better all those teen stereotypes you see around, like in the comic strip Zits or wherever, since we've been living it for this past year.
Nathan finished up his first year!  As soon as the ice cream party was over, I drove down to spend the night at the house of some friends who moved a little over a year ago.  Megan taught literature at Rivendell for a few years, and we have really missed their family!  They now have a little farm with goats, chickens, and even ducks.  (Did you know ducks eat ticks?  Having ducks keeps their yard tick-free for their kids!)  It was so great to catch up with them and hear all their tales of farm living.  Wednesday morning I drove the rest of the way through mist and pouring rain to Tech, but once I got there, the sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day for hauling stuff down 2 flights of stairs.  We got it all in the minivan, and drove back home, where everyone was anxiously waiting to see Nathan.  I was so glad we made it home in time for us to say goodbye to Luke, who was leaving one hour later with his mock trial team to fly to the national championships.  Crazy!

Nathan had a fantastic year.  He has really grown and matured.  He did so well academically, making the Commandant's list both semesters.  He also did really well in his physical training, as well as in his ROTC detachment, and he made good friends.  We're very happy that this is where the Lord led him--and we're also very happy to have him home with us for a few weeks!  He'll be working on staff at WSS this summer as the assistant boys staff supervisor.  Should be a fun summer for him!  In the meantime, he's been teaching Micah how to play checkers and chess--which has led to a resurgence of interest in those games among the other members of the household!
I've finally finished my whole30!  My last day was Thursday, although I kept on it Friday as well, until I ate some of a casserole for dinner.  It had rice and sour cream in it, and crackers on top of it, so that was grains and dairy introduced back all at once!  I didn't have too much though, and it didn't bother me at all, not that I was expecting it to.  I was *very* proud of myself for keeping on my diet while going down to get Nathan.  I again brought chicken strips and raw vegetables with a guacamole packet to eat for lunch, and nuts, grapes, and 2 oranges to snack on.  Today I had some M&Ms at a graduation party this afternoon, and Bob and I are planning on going on a dinner date to Cheesecake Factory, so that won't be compliant!  I lost a total of 12 pounds, so that's good, and at least 2 inches--but it's not enough to really make a difference.  People who haven't seen me for awhile still say, "Oh!  I didn't realize you were expecting again!" when they see me.  And why wouldn't they?!  I. look. pregnant!  The tummy inches haven't just melted away, so I'm afraid that means I'm pretty stuck with my pooch.  Now I guess I'll see if I can maintain my loss, and even possibly lose a bit more, by not eating after 7:00 PM, and following the paleo diet for at least breakfast and lunch.  Everything I've read says that those first 5 pounds of water weight I lost the first week will come right back as soon as I start eating carbs again.  That will be discouraging, but hopefully expecting it will take some of the sting away, lol.  

So now the last thing I have to get through is standardized testing, which I'm in charge of.  I'll be SO glad when that week is over!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day Whole30 Update

Happy Mother's Day to all my mommy friends!  I had yet another day of not celebrating by eating anything special, lol.  Anna, Grace, and Faith made me breakfast in bed--my usual 2 fried eggs, sauteed red peppers, and a bowl of strawberries, blackberries, and grapes (well, that wasn't usual--I never go to the trouble of cutting up fruit in the morning!).  We did have a lovely day at church and just hanging out at home.  I didn't cook--we had enough leftovers, even of things I could eat, so that was a nice break.  The kids picked me a lovely bouquet of yellow flowers while we were watching Luke's rugby game on Saturday!  Don't be fooled--this is just one very small part of all the flowers I received from Faith, Micah, and Drew!  It definitely kept them occupied!

So now I'm on day 26--only 4 more days!  I've lost about 10 pounds, so that gets me back to where I was in August.  I'm not confidant that those pounds won't pile right back on as soon as I left a bite of carbs touch my lips though, and I really am getting tired of not being able to eat anything to celebrate.  I have lost some inches, but not where you might think.  I've had to start wearing my fitbit on a tighter setting!  You can all admire my thinner wrists, lol.  Unfortunately I have not noticed a huge tummy difference, although I didn't find a measuring tape until just a few days ago, so I don't really know for sure if I have lost any waist inches or not.  I still look pregnant though!

Also, surprisingly my cravings were much less the first 2 weeks I was on the diet.  The past 2 weeks, however, I have really had a bigger struggle in resisting them.  It was like they were crying out to me!  I think the difference is hormonal, and it was really shocking to see how much of my eating (and most likely, weight gain) the past few months must have been driven by monthly hormonal changes.  

Honestly, it's been a big shock to me to *have* monthly hormonal changes.  In May of 1995 I had surgery to remove my right first rib after all my blood clots, and a few weeks after that surgery, we PCS'd to Colorado.  That combination of stressors shut down my body, and I didn't have a cycle on my own for over a year.  Eventually I did, and I finally got pregnant with Nathan in October 1996, which was a huge answer to prayer.  That started almost 19 more years of gestating and nursing, such that I really didn't have too many cycles in a row ever.  So this past year has been the start of a new normal for me.  And it turns out it is one where I really, really want carbs when I'm premenstrual.  With all the stress of Latin and biology this year, my will power certainly hasn't been high, and really I don't think I thought at all about struggling to resist.  Now that I've done it for a month, I'm certainly a lot more aware of the struggle.  It was so funny to me how easy it was to resist the first half of the month, and how much harder it was the last half.  Really eye-opening!

I never got any "surge of energy" or anything like I've seen other people mention.  In fact, I really don't feel any different at all.  I don't seem to have any real issues for digesting food, even dairy, so taking all those things away hasn't seemed to make a difference, other than losing 10 pounds.  Going forward, I am planning on keeping my fried egg/vegetable breakfast, instead of bran flakes, milk, and a hard boiled egg, which has been my breakfast every morning for years.  I think I will try to stick with salads for lunch, or at least a paleo lunch.  Then I'll eat more normal dinners.  I've also been not eating anything after dinner, to make sure I have at least 12 hours, if not 14, between dinner and breakfast.  Everything I've been reading has pointed to at least that limited amount of fasting to be beneficial, if not a longer break, so I'll stick with that plan too.  Maybe that will be enough to at least keep off these 10 pounds, and then hopefully I can do another month of Whole30 this summer, and see if more weight comes off.  I don't see me being able to keep up with it during the school year, at least not the first semester.  It's always so busy and stressful.

I've also started using this Bowflex down in our basement 3 times a week.  Nathan encouraged me to do more with weights, so I started a few weeks ago.  It's actually a lot more fun than I expected.  I used to really enjoy the rowing machine when Bob and I would meet at the gym in the mornings before we got married, and so I like "rowing" on this thing.  Then I do about 20 minutes of various arm things.  I must say I haven't noticed any great improvement in arm toning either, but hopefully it's burning more calories.  Bob and I are still walking pretty much every night, and I do pilates 2-3 times a week as well.  But I've been doing that for awhile, and it never made any different before, lol.  

So we'll see what happens in 5 more days . . .  I can say I am really looking forward to a bowl of ice cream!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Happy Birthdays, Bob and Grace!

Grace turned 9 yesterday, and Bob celebrated his birthday today!
We started the celebration on Friday by bringing dessert to Bible study.  Grace picked a huge pan of cookie dough brownies, and we also made a fruit pizza (I guess that was for Bob, lol).  Let me tell you--it was really hard to stay on this crazy diet with all these treats around, and all the celebrating going on!  Grrr . . .I should have started in July, when we don't have any birthdays for awhile!  But I resisted temptation.
Grace had a special lunch of corn dogs Sunday after church, and then she opened presents in the afternoon.  She was thrilled to get a medieval American Girl dress for her doll and some darling earrings from Grandma and Grandpa, as well as a "decorate your own" jewelry box, a camping set for the dolls (from Walmart though--much less money!), and a bunch of the chewiest candy I could find to celebrate her getting her braces off!  She ate the turtles right away and thought they were delicious!

The girls painted and decorated the jewelry box this morning  We got no school done, unless you count "art", because after the box was painted, everyone just wanted to keep on painting on paper.  Micah and Drew were less than helpful with the actual box, but they had tons of fun painting interesting scenes on paper.  I'm just glad they're both past the "smear all the paints around until they're one big blackish blob and the paper tears" phase.  Anna was very proud of the "ROYGBIV" rainbow she painted, although technically she reversed the colors, putting red on the bottom, and violet on top.  I didn't tell her, though!  She forgot my carefully-planned lesson from co-op this year, lol.  I'll have to revisit that concept later . . .

Bob took off work today, which was another big reason school never happened.  We didn't really do anything super-special, since he also was unlucky enough to have his birthday on a Monday, like Anna, which of course is the day before Rivendell.  But he got to sleep in and spend time with us, so that was nice.  He and I did got on a quick date through a torrential downpour to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, where we bought a new "Red Copper" skillet.  Bob's brother-in-law is really happy with his, so we're hoping for similar results here.  Oh, and we got Bob a Fitbit of his own!  I figured I liked my own so much, and now he can keep track of all his steps too!  Now his big hike into and out of the Pentagon each day can count, right?!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Whole30 Update #3

It seems like the only thing I talk about anymore is this crazy diet, but it is definitely what I think about a lot!  I'm 2 1/2 weeks into it now.  I think I am most proud of staying on it this past Sunday.  Bob and I left at 7:30 AM to drive up to his parents' house.  We met his sister and mom at the rehab center where Bob's dad has been for a few days, and we ended up eating lunch there--well, not me.  I had packed leftover grilled chicken cut up into slices, as well as raw mixed vegetables, one of those little tubs of Wholly Guacamole from Costco, and some grapes and oranges in a cooler, plus some almonds and cashews for snacking.  I waited until Bob and I got back in our car to drive over to his parents' house, and then I ate my lunch.  I left enough chicken, veggies, and fruit for me to have for dinner as we were driving back home as well, so it worked out really great.  Whew!

This week I've done more fish recipes.  I even made salmon cakes for the first time, using almond flour, and they were really good!  I got a paleo cookbook called "Well Fed" out of the library yesterday, which lots of people on the Well Trained Mind boards highly recommended, and I've been given tons of good recipes from friends on facebook, so I feel like I've been able to find lots of yummy things to try.  Tonight I made for myself a chicken fajita salad (without the sugar in the dressing), which I loved.  

I had my first "carb dream" a few nights ago.  I dreamed I was halfway through a bowl of apple cinnamon cheerios (a cereal I rarely, if ever, eat in the first place) before realizing that I had messed up my diet.  Then, since I had already messed up, I went ahead and ate brownies.  It was so real!  I was all down and discouraged when I woke up, but thankfully it didn't take me too long to realize it had all been a dream.  Anna had in fact made brownies the night before, so that part was true, LOL.  I never did get a taste of them, alas.

I was all happy because I lost 5 pounds the first week, but the second week, I only lost a little over a pound.  And my perpetually pregnant looking belly is still right where it has been since I delivered Verity, unfortunately.  I am glad I've weighed myself, even though you're not supposed to, because getting some positive feedback has been helpful for continuing.  It is still discouraging to know that I'm not even down to where I was last August before Verity stopped nursing, though.  I try not to think about that, LOL.

Today was almost a perfect storm.  I didn't get very much sleep last night, a combination of staying up to late to work on a lab (which I didn't even do all the calculations right on anyway, so I probably should have gone head to bed), and being interrupted by various people through the night, like Grace, whose retainer fell out of her mouth while she was sleeping, which was very alarming to her (she found it right next to her head once the sun came up and she woke up again).  I'm also hormonal, which undoubtedly played a part, and it was a gray, gloomy day.  Whatever the cause, all day long, all the carbs around were SCREAMING at me!  I've never before really craved anything, but I just wanted carbs today.  I ended up eating way more nuts than usual, and more fruit, but I never gave in to anything else.  Whew!  In fact, I should head to bed now to prevent a repeat of today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

One Week Down . . A Whole 30 Update

Well, I have successfully made it through 7 days.  Yay, me!  It's actually gone fine.  In some ways this is easier than the gestational diabetes diet, which I've had to do 3 times for 12 weeks at a time--AND being in my last trimester of pregnancy!  This is only 30 days, I'm not pregnant, and I don't have to keep track of when it's time to eat, exercise, and prick myself.  Also, I don't have to feel like a total failure if my numbers are high, which was always so discouraging with gestational diabetes, even though I didn't usually have high numbers.  So it's been good.  I am down a few pounds, but really, they don't seem to be from anywhere that it makes any sort of difference, lol.  I have not had any sort of great energy, like I hear people talk about (maybe that will be later?  I can hope!), but I also have not had any real severe cravings for sugar.  In fact, the thing I miss the most is my breakfast cereal.  It just doesn't seem like I've started my day without my bran flakes and milk!

Here are some random thoughts I've had this past week:

  • I'm really glad I stocked up on weird things before starting.  In fact, the only added sugar I've had so far was in the spoonful of sunflower seed butter I ate on my apple the first day because I had forgotten to get plain almond butter.  Wait, that's not totally true--while I did buy the nitrate-free, etc., etc. expensive bacon, I did not bother hunting down bacon with no sugar added.  No way am I stopping at Whole Foods!  If a fancy food isn't at Costco or Wegman's, then I'm not bothering with it, and I don't even feel guilty, lol.  Okay, that wasn't really the point of this point . . . Let me try again.
  • I'm really glad I bought avocado oil at Costco.  I like it a lot better than coconut oil.  It doesn't have any real smell or taste, unlike coconut oil.  I've been frying eggs and red peppers in it most mornings for breakfast, and it's been great!  Also, I bought "Primal" mayo from Amazon (no bad soybean oil or anything else), which was a real splurge, but it's been really handy to have, because I have no desire to make my own.  I'm just lazy or something, I guess.  I have enjoyed making an egg salad with mashed avocado and bacon that I found on the internet, but it really needed a little mayo (and mustard and vinegar) to make it taste more like deviled eggs, which I love.  Oh, and "coconut aminos", which is a soy sauce substitute made from the sap of coconut trees, makes it so I can have Asian-flavored foods, which I love, with the added bonus that now I can't wait to have my sister-in-law Melinda here again (she's deathly allergic to soy), because now I can add to my cooking repertoire with her!  Also, the individual Wholly Guacamole packs you can get at Costco are perfect for dipping raw vegetables.  I did end up getting no-sugar-added almond butter a few days after I started.  It's really something.  I've been eating it on apples or bananas.  I can't wait to go back to sun butter, lol.  I think those are the odd things I've found most useful to have, so far.
  • I also cooked a lot of things the first day or 2.  I cooked up a bunch of chicken strips (in avocado oil!) so I'd have them to put on salads or just to eat whenever I wanted something and couldn't think of anything.  I also made up some egg "muffin" things with chopped broccoli, eggs, some cooked special approved whole 30 sausage from Costco ("Aidell" chicken and apple sausages) and coconut milk.  Those have been nice when I didn't have time to cook myself some eggs, but just needed to grab something for breakfast. I put a bunch of chicken breasts in freezer bags in various different marinades I found on the internet.  Then I can grab a bag and cook a few breasts for Bob and me that at least have some flavor.
  • Spaghetti squash is a tolerable substitute for spaghetti noodles, but I don't think I will ever choose to eat them instead of noodles without being on a diet like this!  Fortunately my homemade sauce, which I love, doesn't have any added sugar or anything bad, so I could add a lot of it over the squash, lol.  I will say that having squash made it very unlikely that I would overeat that meal!  
  • I think I've been able to manage my expectations for results.  Several of my friends commented on how to really lose the weight and keep it off, they needed to count calories and work out often, or stay on the diet faithfully for pretty much long-term, or other things.  Some friends said it didn't work at all for them, which was discouraging, but sounded like what I've read.  I guess if this doesn't work to lose some tummy inches, then I will just resign myself to looking perpetually pregnant, because I really don't want to think about food any more than I am now!  I definitely appreciate hearing everyone's different experiences!

Friday, April 15, 2016

3 Days Down . . .

So I started Whole 30 on Wednesday.  I had to get through Micah's birthday on Saturday and be able to go to Costco on Monday to stuff our fridge with all the things, both normal (lots of fruit and vegetables) and not (almond flour, avocado oil).  The idea of Whole 30 is to eat lots of whole, unprocessed food--meat, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats--for 30 days, with no dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar.

This past year has been a hard one for me, weight-wise.  Usually after I have a baby, it takes awhile to lose the last 10 pounds, but eventually most of them go away.  Over the course of 17 years (until I got pregnant with Verity), I had gained a little more than 20 cummulative pounds.  I wasn't happy with that, especially since it was all in my tummy, but whatever.  After I had Verity, those last 10 pounds from her pregnancy never went away though.  I thought I'd lose weight after she stopped nursing in August, but ha!  Not only did I not lose weight, I gained 10 more pounds over the course of the past 8 months!

I did try several different things.  I started taking a probiotic in October.  That made me feel a lot less hungry, and I never got sick over the winter . . . but I never lost a pound.  After New Year's, I tried a few different things, like having a shorter window of eating during the day (gained 2 pounds), and eating like I was on my gestational diabetes diet (also gained 2 pounds).  Gaining weight while being unhappy and trying to lose was about the most discouraging thing I could think of, and definitely not a motivator to keep doing what I was doing!  It really seemed like my body was holding desperately onto my stores of fat.  I could practically hear my body talking,  "Any day now you'll be pregnant, and how will you possibly grow a baby if you are WITHERING AWAY?!?"  Somehow it did not get the message that we are done, LOL.

So I decided to try Whole 30.  I even got the book and read it (It Starts With Food).  Their whole section on the hormonal interplay really resonated with me.  We had just covered the endocrine section a few weeks ago in AP biology, so it was all very fresh, and everything they said made sense.  This entire past year I've felt like my body was sending out different signals than I wanted it to, and I really feel like I need a restart for my metabolism, hypothalamus, everything.

I told the kids my big plan, and they were aghast.  Luke pointed out that it was the worst possible timing for him to change his diet, since he is 2 weeks from the start of AP exams, and 3 weeks away from mock trial nationals, plus he is in the middle of rugby season.  Fortunately, I had not planned on having the kids participate.  I mean, it's always good to eat more fruit and vegetables, but no way am I cooking for everyone with these random weird things, like mayo made of avocado oil, or this soy sauce substitute made from coconut tree sap called "coconut aminos".  We would go broke!  They don't need to cut out all carbs, and I'm not going to spend time looking at every label to avoid soybean oil or whatever.  Anna planned out a 30 day menu for everyone else that she will help with, and I printed out a ton of recipes for Bob and me.  My plan (and how it's worked out these first 3 evenings) is for them to have a normal main dish, Bob and I have something like chicken or whatever, and I have a normal vegetable, like steamed broccoli or some roasted vegetable, as well as a new preparation of some different vegetable.  I've been having a salad for lunch, and I've done different things with eggs and vegetables each morning for breakfast.  I do miss my bran flakes and hard boiled egg!

I'll keep updating with how I'm doing.  The book is all about not checking the scale, just focusing on how good you feel, how much better you're sleeping, how your face has cleared up, etc.  I'll be honest though--I don't have any other real issues with skin, inflammation, or sleeping.  I want to lose weight, and if it takes 6 months or whatever to see change, I will be totally demoralized, and there is no way I'll be able to give up milk, grains, and beans for that long with no positive reinforcement!