Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Picking Up Where I Left Off

As mentioned, I went gluten free in the month of June.   I managed to lose my back pain but not much else.

On one hand I felt discouraged--I really thought that I'd benefit from more weight-loss and more energy gains.

But the loss of back pain was no small thing.  It had been present since I was pregnant with my first child.  Every time I bent over or stood up or lifted the pain was there.

One month without gluten and no more back pain helped me make that connection--the connection between food and health.

I mean, I know that food affects health, but like many an unpleasant truth, it was easy to ignore.  Yes, it's one thing to know it and another altogether to accept it--to be convicted of it.

And as for that weight thing...I would have liked to have lost more during my gluten free period.

My pictures from the Arkansas trip confirmed the truth.  I had extra LBs in the bottom and in the belly as evidenced by these photos.

EXHIBIT A -  Junk in the trunk:
Don't be so sad, I'm thin on the inside.

EXHIBIT B - Flabs not abs:

I should not have been seen in public in this shirt.

I knew further change was in order.  One day I was discouraged but enlightened.  The next day I was embarking on a new challenge:  The Whole 30.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Presidential Biography: Madison

Photo of James Madison

I just finished James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin R.C. Gutzman.  As the title suggests, most of this book focuses on three of Madison's roles crucial to the establishment of this country:  co-author of the Constitution, co-author of The Federalist and participant in the Virginia ratification convention.  Of course, other areas of Madison's prolific life were discussed, such as his terms as Secretary of State and President.  Yet, these three roles were addressed in more pages than all others combined.

The book goes into considerable detail of the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process, including a nearly motion by motion recounting of events (or in the case of The Federalist, an essay by essay summary).  The detail serves the purpose of providing the reader an appreciation for the monumental difficulty of writing and subsequently ratifying the Constitution.  Considerable compromise was required.  It also informs one of the issues most significant to the leading minds of the day.  

I learned that while Madison is considered the Father of the Constitution and fought tenaciously for its ratification, he did not altogether agree with it.  In particular, he thought the legislature should have veto power over state laws, and he did not approve of the disproportionate power the Senate gave small states.

I did not gain much insight into the man himself other than that he was mental giant.  Quiet and unassuming in person, he was a powerful wielder of the pen who could grasp and assimilate complicated issues.  These qualities served him well in his role as Father of the Constitution.  It would seem they left him somewhat during his eight-year tenure as president.  However, this period of his life was not addressed in nearly the same detail as those mentioned previously.

Except a few references to some White House parties, the book was nearly devoid of any description of Madison's home life.  I suppose it is stereotypically female of me to wish Gutzman had explored his relationship with the  intrepid Dolley.  I recall one reference in the book to her as "his beloved Dolley", but I did not get an understanding of of their connection.  Such personal analysis was obviously outside the author's scope.

All in all, though, I finished the book better informed about and more appreciative of this great mind and his contribution to the making of America.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Garden Post - July 2014

I'm sitting here typing in the middle of July.  My schedule has unexpectedly cleared.  I've declared a sick day because of a child diagnosed with walking pneumonia.  Fortunately, swimming lessons have also been cancelled because...get's too cold!

Has my calendar malfunctioned?

It is currently 61 degrees outside and starting to sprinkle.  Heavenly.

It seems like a good day to provide a garden update.

The first big event of the season was the harvesting of the cabbage.  This is my son's entry into the Bonnie 3rd Grade Cabbage Program.  His isn't as big as some of the monsters they feature on their site, but we went ahead and picked his because we thought it would start suffering in the Oklahoma heat.  Who knew how mild this summer would be?

Our other big harvest was the onions.  Onions continue to be our most successful crop.  We've already eaten a significant amount of these, so this picture reflects a depleted supply.

The tomatoes are starting to come on strong.  We eat several daily and I've canned four pints (which I know is paltry to big-time gardeners).

Our okra is also starting to produce.  Of all the vegetables in the world, okra is the only one my kids eat enthusiastically.  It's hard for our three little plants to keep up with the demand.

After we pulled the onions in late June, my husband planted purple hull pea seed in their place.  This was somewhat of an experiment because it past the typical planting season.  The plants seem to be doing fine so far.

The other vegetables growing in our garden are lettuce (also a little late for that, but it looks good), asparagus, jalapeno peppers and anaheim peppers.

Besides providing us with delicious, fresh food, this little suburban plot of ours brings us a lot of joy.

I also want to feature some of our flowers.

Last year, my mother-in-law gave us sunflower seeds.  I realized that the sunflower is the happiest flower of them all. I loved it in full bloom, and the birds enjoyed its seeds in the winter.  This year, I ordered a different variety that produces more than one blossom per plant.  The blooms are smaller, but I love the multiple blooms and variegated petals.

My mom gave me a sackful of gladiola bulbs this spring.  They are starting to bloom.  This gorgeous flower is on my short-list of favorites.

Finally, one of the kid's violin instructors gave me some milkweed seed.  Milkweed is the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.  I'm keeping a close eye on these to see if we are attracting any butterflies.  They are just starting to bloom.

Thanks for taking this tour of our gardens.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Month I Went Gluten Free

I'm very thankful that I'm healthy, but I still can find reason to complain.  My three health 'problems':  constant lower back pain, constant fatigue, and a constant need to lose weight.

To see if I could alleviate any of these problems, I decided to jump on the bandwagon that has been circling for quite some time and go gluten free for a month.

On June 1, armed with a library copy of America's Test Kitchen How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook and a bag of Udi's bread, I took the plunge.

I thought it would be hard.  For the most part it was not.  Even though I generally eat plenty of bread and pizza and pastry deserts, I did not feel deprived because I could occasionally binge on other bad-girl favorites like chips and soda.

I did have two slip-ups.  One day I ate oatmeal that may have been cross-contaminated, and I had a complete gluten relapse during our two-night getaway to Arkansas.

Otherwise, I was oh so good.

I never finished the bag of Udi's (it was too dry), and I only made one recipe from the cookbook (there were too many expensive ingredients).  I mostly relied on eating unprocessed foods except for the aforementioned chips and soda.

I'm happy to report, the lower back pain, my constant companion, went away!

The fatigue and the extra weight did not.  There may have been a small up-tick in my energy level, but I cannot be sure.  And, sadly, I only lost one pound.  One pound:  not the result I was looking for.

But, I'll take that one benefit I received.

Everyone knows that food affects health.  There is a barrier, though, between knowledge and acceptance.  This little experiment may have helped me over that barrier.

I've not given up hope.  For July, I'm on to a new challenge.