Amy After

Tips, motivation & advice for a gluten-free lifestyle

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Weigh-In Results Week One

I had my official weigh in after my first week of counting calories and I lost 2.5lbs! I’ve been doing my Tracy Anderson workouts and I’ve lost several inches from my waist/hips too! That Tracy is a miracle worker! Guess this means that the calories will be counted for another week. Sure hope I can make similar progress this week…

I Can Finally Wear Earrings!

Most of you can pop in any ole pair of cute earrings and skip out the door. If this is you, count yourself lucky and move on. However, if you or anyone close to you has trouble wearing earrings then I have to tell you about my exciting discovery.

I’ve had my ears pierced since the age of six. I proudly paid the $5 I received in my birthday card from Grandma to the lady in the jewelry store at the mall to pierce my ears. Just minutes later – totally transformed and grown up – I strutted out flashing my first pair of silver studs. Stainless steel studs were the name of the game for a while. As I got older I had a wonderful time sporting the cheap plastic and neon dangly ones which were oh so chic in the eighties. Life was good.

Then something happened in the early nineties as I tried to move on to some tasteful gold or silver hoops. My earlobes began getting that red, sore, itchy feeling that makes one scramble to remove the offending objects from the ears as quickly as possible. I tried surgical steel, “hypoallergenic” and expensive 14k gold earrings which I thought were nickel free and couldn’t wear any of them for more than a few minutes. I finally gave up and tried wearing clip on earrings but no matter what, they always hurt my ears.

I wound up accepting this sad situation and was earring-less for the next fifteen years. Then just a month ago while surfing the internet I came across articles about niobium and titanium earrings which those living in earring exile could actually wear! Of course I was dubious, to say the least, but intrigued and ever hopeful so I read on. I researched as many sites and sources as I could find and it turns out, niobium and titanium are the least allergenic metals in existence. There are a few sites that make earrings out of these metals so I chose one and ordered some silver hoops. I received an email from the owner of the site the next day. She told me that though the posts of my chosen earrings were non allergenic, the hoops were silver which does contain some irritating metals. She suggested that I choose earrings from her “healing” category so I could wear them 24/7 for a few weeks until my ears were totally used to earrings again. I thanked her for the tip and ordered simple wire hoops made exclusively of niobium.

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been wearing them non-stop for the past two weeks and my earlobes feel completely normal! Hurray! I told myself that I’d wait three weeks before ordering more but I just couldn’t stand it! Yesterday I ordered some pretty hoops in gold and silver. I will have to take these out at night so the other metals don’t touch my skin but that is fine. I’m so happy that I get to wear earrings again!

1200 Calorie a Day Experiment

I have never counted calories – ever. I can’t think of anything more tedious because 99% of my food is not  processed so there’s no handy listing of nutritional info on a box. I haven’t weighed and measured my food since attending Weight Watchers in the 80’s. That’s why this experiment will be so painful for me, well one of the reasons. But I am willing to take one for the team and devise a pescatarian, low carb, sugar free, gluten free, 1200 calorie a day menu.

I have thirty pounds more to lose and I need to shake things up to get the scale moving again. I’d LOVE to reach my goal by mid-summer. I’ll follow said menu for a week while sticking to my current 2x per day/6 day per week workout schedule to see what effect there is on my weight loss efforts. I’ll decide after the week is completed if I want to continue or revise. Time to head to the kitchen to start calculating!

The Beauty of Tea

Quite often I root through the kitchen looking for… something.  If I’m honest with myself I have to admit I’m not really hungry but I need, I want… If your goal is weight loss then this situation can be dangerous. I’ve learned to recognize this feeling coming on and I now make myself a cup of hot tea. My current favorite is Darjeeling Tea (Organic) – 25 – Bag
sweetened with powdered NuNaturals White Stevia Powder, Packets 100 ea
.  My friend Kate is hooked on peach green tea. Whenever she has her cup the entire room smells so sweet and delicious! Something about sipping a cup of hot tea seems so comforting and cozy. It’s also fun to build a collection of pretty tea cups. The ritual of making tea is calming and seems to press an internal reset button. I’ve escaped the pitfall of endless snacking, trying to find just the right thing to make me feel better. I’m calmer, more satisfied and have consumed no calories at all!

Have Fun While You Exercise

I wouldn’t have lost the amount of weight that I did without exercise. I am a HUGE believer in finding the activities you really, truly enjoy. Since I began my weight loss journey I’ve generally exercised five to six days per week. I found a gym that has a dimly lit movie room. There are bicycles, treadmills and elliptical machines in a room with a projection screen at one end. I always do a combination of treadmill and elliptical. I average about 40-45 minutes per workout. Of course, I couldn’t do that much in the beginning. Sometimes all I could do was walk for 20 minutes, but it sure felt good knowing that I did whatever I could. I never workout in the main section of the gym where it is bright and crowded. At first I made a beeline to the dark movie room so that no one would see doing my workouts but then I stayed there because I realized how much more I loved going to the gym because of that environment. The mental benefits were the best part for me as I was able to let my mind wander and  “recharge” my batteries.  I always left afterward feeling uplifted, happy and calm.

After I’d lost about 50lbs I became aware that I needed to vary my routine. I tried some of the classes the gym offered such as yoga, step and weight lifting. I had wonderful memories of the original aerobics classes I used to do as a teenager as well as the step classes in the early 90s. I was stunned at how much I loathed these new classes. I thought I was just self conscious about my size, but then I realized that I was so tuned into what everyone else was doing that I couldn’t focus on myself. I felt frustrated and drained instead of happy and energized afterward. If you have to force yourself to do certain kinds of exercise – there is no way you’ll keep it up long term. When it is dark and cold outside and I am tired from working all day, the last thing I want to do is drag myself to the gym. However I always feel elated and proud afterward.

So, to introduce more variety I have found that I do enjoy Qi Gong and hula hooping!  I can do these at home along with videos. It also helps to have 3lb. & 5lb. dumb bells so I can do toning exercises while watching T.V. in the evening. Find the activities you can have fun with and that leave you feeling recharged emotionally as well as physically.

Boot Camp

I finally got it together last week and began my new workout regime in earnest. I’ve been getting up at 5:00 a.m and doing an hour of toning with my The Tracy Anderson Method Presents Mat Workout DVD.  Tracy says to do a “muscular structure” video every day six days per week and change to a different video every ten workouts. Today was my fifth day of the mat video and after five more I’ll switch to her Perfect Design Series One.  Then each evening I do 40 to 60 minutes of cardio. I either walk outside – especially now when the temperature is so great – or elliptical & treadmill at the gym or “dance” around in my bedroom. So in a nutshell; I’m doing two workouts per day, six days per week.

To shake things up a little further I decided to join a boot camp two nights per week. I’ve never done one and was really nervous about it. I had visions from The Biggest Loser of screaming trainers and the poor participants collapsing all over the floor. I suited up and showed up earlier tonight, ready for anything. We were in a gymnasium which brought me straight back to gym class in elementary school. I was much relieved when my super-trim trainer was smiling and sweet through the entire hour. We lunged, squatted, ran, kicked, planked and yes – I actually ran laps around the gym. I was red faced and gasping for air before too long but as we ended the class with some relaxing yoga I was so glad I’d joined.

Two hours later I’m feeling exactly how I imagine  over cooked spaghetti must feel. I’m wondering how I’ll manage to get my face washed tonight without actually raising my arms…

Homeopathy – Miracle or Hoax??

I moved across country from the southeast to the southwest with my young son in the mid-nineties. Within a few days of arriving in our new town he became very ill. He had a raging fever and kept going in and out of consciousness. No words can describe how terrified I was. While waiting in the doctor’s office which was bursting at the seams with patients, he was draped over my lap like a rag doll, almost too hot to touch. After his exam by the internist I was told that it was a virus and there was nothing that could be done except (say it with me) fluids and rest and that he should feel better within a few days to a week.

Mother’s intuition told me that waiting and watching was not enough in this case so I took him back to our new  home and called another mother whom I’d met the day before . She told me that she used homeopathy for her own daughter and gave me the name and number of a practitioner who was close by. I had never heard of homeopathy but I was desperate enough to try almost anything and something told me to trust her. I hung up and phoned this lady who proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions about my son’s symptoms (way more in depth than the Dr. had) and told me to come by to pick up his remedy. They were little white pellets he was to let dissolve under his tongue. She told me that if this was the right formula for him that he would fall into a deep, deep sleep and wake up in perfect health. If it wasn’t the correct one then his condition would remain the same. Talk about sounding too good to be true! I picked up the pellets, did as she said and lo and behold he woke up two hours later and begged to go outside to play! He had no fever and his energy level was back to normal. It was as if the illness had never existed. If I hadn’t witnessed this with my own eyes I would never have believed it!

Since then I’ve used homeopathic remedies on myself and loved ones countless times and have been amazed over and over. It saddens me that the general population either doesn’t  know about, or doesn’t trust this miraculous resource. I think of all the pain and suffering that people could be spared in so many instances if everyone only knew that this powerful and inexpensive tool was available.

To sum it up simply, homeopathy is a 200 year old method of healing that is based on the “law of similars.” That means that you take a remedy that is supposed to cause the same symptoms that you are already suffering from, much like the principal behind vaccines. Your body then is able to effectively target the particular ailment and eradicate it. If you take the correct remedy then you’ll swear you’ve experienced a miracle. If you take an incorrect remedy then nothing at all will happen. There aren’t nasty side effects and your body isn’t damaged in any way. Either you’re healed or you keep looking for the correct formula.

While living out west I suffered  for the first time with allergies in the spring. When whatever it was was blooming my eyes watered like faucets and the sneezing fits were unbearable. I plowed my way through my local health food store with fistfuls of tissues praying I could find quick relief.  I grabbed one of the dozens of allergy remedies and hoped for the best. While standing in the check out line I pried open the bottle and downed a mouthful of pellets. Everyone was staring – I was a mess! But by the time I got into my car I was feeling better. Twenty or so minutes after that all symptoms were resolved. As long as I kept that remedy at hand and took it first thing each morning, I didn’t have to deal with allergies again.

If you want to give homeopathy a try, you have better odds consulting with a homeopathic practitioner.  If you live in a bigger city you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one. If you are in a rural area then do your own research and make and educated guess for appropriate remedies. You have nothing to lose as they have no destructive side effects and usually cost less than $10. Of course medical emergencies are not the time to discover homeopathy!  Try it out first with milder illnesses or bumps and bruises (tip: take Arnica for those!)

Water, Water Everywhere…

How much water should you drink each day?  We’ve all heard the 8 glass per day rule, or that once we feel thirsty that we’re already dehydrated and some recent authors have taken the position that we don’t need much after all and just to sip when thirsty.  Are we clear now?

The guideline I heard years ago that has worked for me is this; divide your current weight in half and that is the number of oz. you need to drink each day.  Of course those who are extremely under or overweight would need to modify. Just make it a habit to have water with you all the time. Sip it throughout the day – not only during meals. In fact, the less you drink while eating the better. Find a water bottle you like, figure out how many oz. it contains and how many times you need to fill it to meet your daily quota. Entire books have been written on the many impressive benefits of water. Being properly hydrated is  great for your skin, helps with weight loss and boosts your energy level just for starters.  I know that when I go to the gym and feel wiped out in the beginning of my workout, it is almost always because I’ve forgotten to get my water in.

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Just Breathe

Life gets so hectic that we sometimes feel we can’t possibly keep up with everything. If we don’t keep it all straight then who will? When I get caught up in these thoughts I am bound to grab handfuls of comfort food before even realizing it.  I am soothing myself to make up for overdoing it.  If I were an alcoholic then it would be a drink “to take the edge off.”

When I was in my early 20s and trying to make sense of the obsessive behavior I had toward food, I attended Overeaters Anonymous.  It is the same 12 step program that Alcoholics Anonymous is founded on as the root of all addiction is basically the same.  A substance or damaging behavior is used to cope with life and leads to devastating results.  I learned too many essential life skills to count from the wonderful people I met in that group. One of their catch phrases is  H.A.L.T  which means don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. This means we must care for ourselves. We have to make it second nature to  take care of our own needs as we would for a child or other loved one.  The twelve step program taught me to find activities that are a healthy alternative to binging such as (a bit cliche, I know) take a bubble bath, go for a walk or polish my nails. Yes, these things are good but when life is really slamming into you there usually isn’t the opportunity for  a bubble bath break. This leads me to the most profound lesson I’ve learned yet.

Breathe

For those of you fortunate enough to have discovered and read Eckhart Tolle’s books or followed his online lessons on Oprah.com broadcast via Skype, then you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t then that’s not a problem as it is sooo simple. Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious then take your focus off of what is going on around you and focus on your breath. Become aware of only your self. Are your muscles tense? Has your breathing been shallow? You’ll be surprised at the state you find yourself in. Do this for 30 seconds or 2 minutes, as long as it takes to become relaxed, calm and aware. You can close your eyes or gaze at a certain object. It’s okay to observe the sounds and activity around you but don’t react to it.  Your only concern for that moment is you. Breathe deeply and slowly while relaxing all your muscles. The more fully you give yourself to this process the more everything will change. Your cravings will vanish and the situation you thought was so bad a few minutes before will seem much more manageable. Or you’ll have new insight on how to handle what was so troubling.

As you get used to this method of dealing with stress, you’ll look forward to the wonderful sense of peace it can bring you. And that, my friend, is even better than a bubble bath.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated, aromatic essences of plants. They can contain vitamins, hormones and hundreds of other immune strengthening and healing properties. If truly pure (not synthetic) an astounding variety of ailments can be treated very pleasantly with these gems. They can be used in massage mixed with almond or grapeseed oil, diffused into the air with a diffuser, sniffed directly from the bottle, used in household cleaning, etc.

I discovered essential oils about fifteen years ago when I picked up a book on aromatherapy while browsing through the stacks at the bookstore. Learning about all the possibilities was exciting. Since then I’ve experimented with many different oils and blends. Listed are some of my favorites:

Lemon – Smells terrific! I inhale directly from the bottle when I need to wake up or mix it in with white vinegar and water to mop or clean. It kills germs and just generally freshens. Who doesn’t love the smell of lemon?

Peppermint – This is the best deodorizer I’ve ever used. I put a few drops in a spray bottle with filtered water and mist the air, carpeting or my car’s interior. The freshening effects last for days and days after I spritz and there are no disgusting chemicals like those in the deodorizing sprays you buy from the store – those are nasty! This is also my go-to oil to diffuse into the air if someone in my family has a cold. It can be mixed in with almond oil and rubbed on the back and chest to clear congestion.

Grapefruit or Sweet Orange – I mix this with some grapeseed oil and fine sea salt bought from the grocery and have a heavenly sea salt scrub to use in the shower. I store it in a square glass container with a cork top that the sea salt came in. Find your own pretty container to make it a more indulgent experience. The citrus scent is so refreshing and scrubbing with it first thing in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day.

There are literally hundreds of oils and blends. I’ve found that the ones from Young Living are the most effective. Unfortunately they’re the most expensive and I have to order them from the company as they aren’t sold in stores. I guess this is just one of those cases where you get what you pay for.

A while back I burned my finger on the stove. The spot turned red and started to form a blister. I put a few drops of lavender oil from Young Living on the burn and within a couple of minutes the skin felt and looked completely normal. I promptly forgot about the incident and a little later washed my hands which removed the oil off as well. The burned spot began to hurt again so I put on more lavender and the relief was immediate.  Then last month I burned myself with a curling iron  but had a different brand of lavender oil as I’d given away my Young Living oil to someone who’d used it and fallen in love with it. This other brand of lavender had no effect on my burn. Now I make sure to place my Young Living orders more regularly!