Monday, April 7, 2014

AIM: Are We There Yet?

Continuing our “Ask Us (Almost) Anything” series, this month we’re answering this question from Diane: "How did you know when to transition to maintenance from loss mode? Was it a number or a size or something else? Did you struggle to not want to ‘lose a little more’?”

I declared goal on a cloudy March day in 2007. I was at my doctor’s office for a routine checkup. I weighed 138 pounds. I said to my doctor, "So, do you suppose I’m done?" She said, "I think you can stop now." No fanfare, no confetti, no fireworks, no angels flying around the room singing "Hallelujah." Just me, my doctor and my medical file in which my doctor wrote, “Lost 158 pounds in two years, two months and 12 days.”

I walked out of the her office no longer a person losing weight, but a person maintaining weight. I got in my car, sat there for a moment, and thought, ‘Now what?’

My original goal weight in January 2005 was 150 pounds only because my doctor and I picked a number that sounded reasonable. When you’re sitting at nearly 300 pounds, your goal weight is the least of your concerns.

So I got to 150. I looked at my body and knew immediately I wasn’t “there” yet. So I changed my goal to a waist size – 32 inches. I got there in January 2007 and still didn’t feel done yet. I knew there was a more toned body in me somewhere.

When I got to 140 pounds, I felt like the body I was hoping for was emerging. My lower stomach and hips were getting stronger, carrying less fat, and they were getting flat, despite the fact that I’d had two children and was morbidly obese for several years. What I thought was loose skin turned out to be fat because much of the “flap” was gone. That amused me in so many ways. I can’t count the number of people who’ve asked me about loose skin, particularly people who haven’t lost a pound. My reply is always the same: you simply DO NOT KNOW what you will look like until you reach your goal. Deal with skin then if you want to, but remember, loose skin won’t kill you. Obesity could.

Anyway…goal. 138 pounds. I was still a member of Weight Watchers online and at goal, you are allowed a few more daily points. Believe me, I ate them(!) and yet, I continued to lose weight. By the time I taped the “Oprah” show in October 2007, I was 132 pounds…and obsessed with losing more. More, more, MORE!

In preparing to write this AIM post, I sifted through my blog entries from December 2007 and found this:

“Overall, I'm feeling good and slowly accepting my body at goal. I still can't say the words ‘I am thin’ out loud because all my life I've either been told by others or I told myself that I had a few pounds (at least) to lose. It will take some time for me to really embrace the whole ‘thin’ thing.

I realized the other day that while I'm only 17 pounds lighter than last Christmas, I'm two to three clothing sizes smaller. I'm a little excited that my size 6 Levis are bagging and I might, just might, fit into a size 4. That is so surreal. I remember thinking three years ago how happy I'd be to get back into a size 12. Then when I got to a 12, I started thinking, 'What if I go just a little smaller?' And then at size 8, I thought, 'One more size. Let's see if I can do one more size.' I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be a size 6, let alone a 4 in anything.”

By summer 2008, I was vacillating between 125-128 pounds and I remember thinking that maybe I’d try to reach 120, despite the fact that I was cold all the time and the people closest to me – the ones I trusted the most – told me I was getting too thin. I won’t say I had an eating disorder. It was that I couldn’t let go of that weight-loss mentality. I hadn’t embraced maintenance, even though I said I did. That didn’t happen until 2010, when I had knee surgery and my marriage fell apart and my focus was no longer entirely on my weight.

Am I the world’s greatest maintainer? Not by a long shot. In fact, I’m back in weight-loss mode. Only this time, it’s not with the same fervent veracity with which I lost weight the last time, the “Get it off NOW” approach.

I’m convinced that maintaining any weight loss takes years to figure out, and often, many of us gain some or all of our lost weight back in the process of trying to figure out what maintenance path is best for us. I’ll say one thing, though, losing that freaking obsession with gaining weight has been a godsend, despite the pain and heartache I went through to get there. I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, but there’s a quieter, gentler person looking back this time. I know I have what it takes to lose and and to maintain, even if I choose to maintain where I am right now, this second.
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you'd like us to address!

Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debbie @ debby weighs in
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit
Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Numbers Revisited

244, 136, 92, 90, 120/72, 27.5

The numbers are in from my latest blood work: overall cholesterol, LDL (“bad” cholesterol), HDL (“happy” cholesterol), triglycerides, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and BMI.

For comparison, the recommended numbers for most people are:
  • Overall cholesterol <200 dl="" li="" mg="">
  • LDL <130 dl="" li="" mg="">
  • HDL >60 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides <100 dl="" li="" mg="">
  • Blood pressure 120/80
  • BMI 25 or less

Compared to when I wrote about this before (See “Lady in Red, Do You Know Your Numbers?”), my HDL still has a slight edge over LDL, but not as much as it did. Triglycerides are hanging in there, but the overall number is up, higher than it’s been in a long while. Years. Many years.

Higher-than-normal cholesterol levels are in my genetics. A few of my thin and not-so-thin kin need medication to control it. But I know my levels can be controlled through diet and exercise. I can’t use genetics as an excuse. Or menopause. Or daylight savings.

Refuse to Regain’s Barbara Berkeley recently posted a blog about how weight gain isn’t a simple ratio of too many calories consumed to too few calories burned. She wrote: “Weight gain appears to be much more related to the specific ways in which our individual bodies dispose of (or store) the foods we eat.”  

This is most definitely true for me. I don’t process a piece of cake the way my boyfriend does. I can’t look at Thanksgiving stuffing without gaining five pounds. The same is true for cholesterol. The foods I eat and how my body processes them directly impacts not only my scale number, but my lipid battery numbers. Cholesterol follows my scale number like a dance partner – from my heaviest weight (300+) to my goal weight (138) to my lowest weight (125) to the weight I am now (165).

All of my numbers improve when I eat: 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies (mostly veggies) a day; beans and legumes several times a week; one or two daily servings of reduced-fat dairy; eggs (mostly egg whites); grains such as brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, and oats; a serving or two a week of soy products such as edamame or tofu; and five or six servings a week of nuts, like almonds and walnuts. Oh…and green tea every day. I also like a bit of seafood now and then: white fish, tuna, scallops, mussels, shrimp and canned salmon.

I know “low-fat” diets aren’t in anymore, but when I eat fatty foods, including olive oil and the new darling of the nutrition world, full-fat dairy, I feel queasy and really full. I hate that full feeling. It makes me tired. Slows me down. Fat isn’t my thing. Neither is sugar or white flour. But clearly I’ve been consuming them to varying degrees since my last blood draw, damn any full and queasy feeling. I knowingly (and regretfully) increased my white flour and sugar consumption, and, no doubt, saturated fat tagged along. Thus an embarrassingly high overall cholesterol number (and a rising BMI…ugh…).

That’s what got me on the weight-loss band wagon nearly 10 years ago. My numbers. They were abysmal (triglycerides were 300!) and you KNOW I wasn’t exercising one bit.

A scale number doesn’t scare me half as much as a cholesterol number, but knowing I can control both through what I eat and how I move is like opening a window on a beautiful spring day. There is hope in change, in eating right, in moving, and there is power in having the key to success. I know what works for me. I have documented proof.

But my digestive system isn’t your digestive system. We each need to find the foods that work best for our overall health and well-being.

WebMD has a spiffy little quiz to give you a quick “back of the envelope” primer on cholesterol. And the Mayo Clinic offers these “Top 5 Foods" to eat to help lower your cholesterol.

Do you know what your numbers are? If not, don’t be afraid! Knowledge is power, and armed with your numbers, you can carve out a diet that works for you to keep your arteries free flowing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Help in the Middle Of Nowhere

Smicksburg  is one of the smallest incorporated boroughs in Pennsylvania. Population: 46. Forty-six “English,” that is. Surrounding the borough is a community of roughly 800 Amish.

If you live in western PA for more than 5 minutes, you grow used to seeing the Amish walking down the road, riding in their buggies, grocery shopping, working on construction sites, or manning vegetable or bakery stands at farm markets, even in the heart of Pittsburgh.

So I was in Smicksburg with the Irishman the other day, buying a birthday gift for my daughter (Smicksburg is known for its quaint shops and killer fudge). Driving the back roads home, we came across this pay phone in…quite literally…the middle of nowhere.
What seems random and a throw-back to 1982, this pay phone is a lifeline for the Amish community. It connects those in need of emergency assistance with the people who can help. It just seems out of place to those of us with cell phones and Wi-Fi.
There continue to be times in my weight-loss and weight-maintenance journey when I need help in the middle of what seems like nowhere. Those times when I feel shame or guilt or self-loathing. You know, the stuff you don’t want anyone to know about. I know I’m in the middle of nowhere when food seems like the answer or I can’t get past a plateau or I need help accepting my body as it is right now or when I just need someone to say, “Lynn, I believe in you” when I don’t.

I’m making this photo my screen saver to remind me that I am not alone. All I have to do is “call,” and my friends and community will be there. My mediation and exercise will sustain me.

What reminders do you keep handy to help you remember that you are not alone when you feel stranded in the middle of nowhere?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

FYI: TMI (Remember the fifth grade "film," ladies?)

Rip Van Uterus woke up today from an 11-month sleep.

I blame Crabby McSlacker because she posted this:

And as I watched it, I thought – in that cocky sort of older-lady kind of way – ‘Yeah…I’m so over periods. Still get hairs on my chin, but hey. Savin’ money on the tampons. Woohoo for menopause!’

Then I got home this afternoon after taking 2/4 grandchildren home. Last night, when I asked Mae and Luca what they wanted for dinner, neither of them screamed, “PASTA!” which is sad, because that’s what was screaming inside my head. They totally ignored the neon sign above my head that flashed, “With a side of toast!”

They wanted peanut butter instead.

So back to when I got home this afternoon. I got out of the car, after driving for an hour, and I had that “you-know-what-I’m-talking-about-ladies” feeling down below, and sure enough…


Thank god I hadn’t given away my entire stockpile of Always.

That’s as much physical TMI as I’ll divulge. (Guys, you can open your eyes now.) But man…the emotional landscape I’ve been playing on for two weeks looks like this:

If I could be more uncertain/forgetful/bitter/happy, I’d get locked up, I’m sure of it.

I know many of you reading aren’t in this place yet, this abyss of pads/no pads/pads/is it done yet?/cry at every cat video your friends posts on Facebook.

But for those of you who are, and for the people who love us, we deserve some slack. This was NOT in our 6th-grade Modess-sponsored film. That day came at us like a mushroom cloud. Girls were ushered into one room. Boys were hustled to another. The boys watched “a film,” which I’m convinced was a recap of the 1973 Super Bowl, and we watched a film about a day in the life of a pretty brunette, age 15, who took showers during her period, went swimming during her period, ate healthy meals, and brushed her spectacular white teeth.

And she smiled the whole damn time!

One of the girls in my class asked the school nurse after the film, “Where do babies come from?”

“Ask your mother,” she said.

So the girls went to recess having NO idea there was a connection between our monthly “friend” and having babies. The boys congregated around us, wanting to know what we knew that they didn’t know. We were still processing. Between playing four-square and jumping rope, we didn’t know a whole lot more than they did. 

I’m a smart woman. I know my body pretty well after 50 years. It’s bossy and demanding. But today…? I’ve rolled my eyes so many times I’m pretty sure they will permanently face backwards.

The same educational mandate that forced us to watch “The Film” in fifth grade should require we watch Ellen Dolgen’s video when we turn 40. You know, to prepare us for what is to come.

Don’t get me wrong. We all know menopause is coming. But when we get to “That Age,” it’s like we learn about that time of the month (or 11 months) in reverse. Ending our periods is as much of a mystery as it was when we started: Moodiness? Check. Boob issues? Check. Weird hair? Check. Issues down below? Check.

How about this: After the initial film in grade school, girls could sign up to watch a perimenopause film at age 40. Maybe the Office of Perimenopause could send them a reminder postcard every five years or so? Then, at age 40 (or whenever), they could report to their nearest Office of Perimenopause and watch the video.

I’ve had 36 interesting years with my uterus. But I’m no longer in need of her services. I want her to shut down like a retired nuclear energy facility.

Obviously, though, being a body part, she gets the last (hopefully?) laugh. This is her last (hopefully?) hurrah. I assure you, however, that today, I am not smiling like the 15-year-old in the Modess film. I am determined to overcome the desire for pasta, bread, sugar, and all things unwholesome. Except for, maybe, a piece of dark chocolate. And maybe a bagel. And perhaps a piece of pizza…

Oh good GOD! Shut up, uterus! Go back to sleep!

Ugh. Those of you who know what I’m talking about…leave a comment. Please. Especially if you have a memory of that “film.” It’s OK. Here, there is safety in numbers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Pause

March 10, 31 years ago, was my daughter Carlene’s due date, but she wasn’t interested in coming out. According to his measuring tape and his best guess, my doctor said Carlene was in excess of 8 pounds and she wouldn’t be born for another few weeks if she had her way.

“Your blood pressure’s high, the baby is big enough,” he said, taking off his gloves. “We need to get the baby out.”

“Ok,” was all I said, like I knew what he meant. Only I didn’t.

He left, I got dressed, and a nurse came in with some papers. Told me to check into the hospital.

“Ok,” I said again, and again, I asked no questions because I was 19 years old and I was stuck between the fear of the unknown and the mandate by which I was raised: never question authority. I walked numbly to the waiting area. My husband, Bruce, met me near the coat rack.

“So, what did he say?” he asked cheerfully, helping me into my coat. Bruce was terribly excited to meet the baby. Every night, he rubbed my belly like it was Aladdin’s lamp. “Come out and play!” he’d say.

“I have to go to the hospital,” I said quietly, trying not to cry. “He said the baby has to be born soon.”

He took my hand and I clutched the papers with the other. We walked outside. Bruce helped me into the car. Nothing was easy anymore.

Bruce slid into the driver’s seat. I looked over the papers the nurse had given me and could feel my heart beating in my temples.

“I don’t know what any of this means!” I slapped the papers. “I don’t know what they’re going to do. Am I having a C-section? Is the baby OK?”

Bruce took a deep breath. “Let’s just sit here for a minute,” he said.

“But they’re expecting us at the hospital! We have to go!” I protested. God knows we had to do exactly what we were told.

“They’ll be there when we get there,” he said. He reached over and stroked my hair. “We need some time to think.”

So we paused. I took a deep breath and loosened my death-grip on the papers. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember not feeling alone. I was afraid and so was he, but we were afraid together. When we felt ready to go, as was always Bruce’s positive approach to life, he said, “We’re having a baby!” Which we did, the next day, at 7:27 in the evening after more than 13 hours of labor. No C-section.

Carlene Rae came out looking just like her father, and as she grew, she took on his nature, even though they only knew each other for 11 days. Like her father, Carlene prefers to take her time, and she chafes against the hectic world and deadlines. She’s the person you want holding your hand when you shake, and she will remind you – with a joyful heart – about the good stuff yet to come.

Carlene was the joy of his life, if only for 11 days
Our wedding day; Carlene today

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Writing Manifesto (...I think I can, I think I can...)

Let’s say you get asked to write a book about the moon. You’ve never written about the moon before, so you create an outline and do a little research before you sit down to write about the moon.

After a few chapters about the moon, you realize that you also have a lot to say about Skylab and Apollo 11. You try to focus on the moon again, but the lunar module comes into your mind and you start singing “Dark Side of the Moon” as you write about Neil Armstrong and what it might have felt like to be the first person to bounce down to the moon’s surface.

You share your work with the person who asked you to write about the moon and she tells you that no one wants to read about Skylab or Apollo 11 or the lunar module. The want to read about the moon. So you try again to write just about the moon.

But you can’t. You think the moon is limited and dull and would be so much more interesting  buoyed by stories about the getting to the moon and walking on the moon. The person who wants you to write just about the moon thinks the moon is fine the way it is and so you part ways and you put away your stories and get a job at WalMart.

That’s what writing was like from 2009-2011. I tried hard to write the book someone else envisioned, but it was like acting in a play in which I didn’t know my lines. I lacked faith to write the book I wanted to write, and so I gave up entirely and went back to school to study dietetics.

I loved school, and the experience challenged me in ways I needed to be challenged. Studying nutrition and math and science got me out of the rutted thinking I was running myself over with. Volunteering at the soup kitchen introduced me to a world I’d only read about.

But school ended four months ago, and I’ve moved away from the city and the proximity of the soup kitchen. I’ve been wandering aimlessly in the guise of getting used to this new town. I almost had myself convinced that I just need more time to figure out what I want to do with my life until yesterday, when I read an article in a Minneapolis business journal about  a company I worked for a long time ago – the one that gave me my first writing job.  The company, general contractor M.A. Mortenson, won the contract for a $200 million expansion project at the Mall of America.

I remembered when the Mall was built and how Mortenson wasn't the general contractor, although they did their best to bid the project. Instead, they were contracted to build the parking lots. While not the same as building the largest mall in America, they knew the parking lots were important and the company put its best and brightest managers on the job. Years of experience later, they are one of the top-grossing companies in Minnesota, building skyscrapers, hospitals, and ball parks all over the country.

I have this habit of thinking and then acting on the notion that if I can't build an entire mall, I won't be happy building a parking lot. For the last five years I’ve thought, 'If I can't write this damn book (the way someone else wants me to), then I can't write at all.' This, I now know, is bullshit.

I’ve been writing all my life, even before I learned to print. From my sandbox, I’d regale the pine trees with stories of riding my trike and drinking Kool-Aid. I am a teller of stories – mine and other people’s – and I tell these stories in the space of 3,000 words or less. So rather than write one book about one subject, I will write one book with many stories; the book I’m supposed to write.

I started organizing my thoughts today and it was like walking into a room filled with overflowing file cabinets. There are coffee stains on the desk, a half-eaten sandwich leaning against the keyboard, cobwebs in the corner, and books piled on every chair. In my mind, the place is just the way I left it years ago.

It’s good to be “home.”

Monday, March 3, 2014

AIM: The Last Straw

In our ongoing quest to keep open the dialogue of weight maintenance, AIM opened a new forum a few months ago, “Ask Us (Almost) Anything,” for you to share ideas or questions you’d like us to address in future posts. Last month we talked about grocery shopping. This month, on our one-year AIM anniversary, we wanted to address the question that takes us back all the way to the beginning: "What was your 'last straw' moment, or your kick in the butt, or whatever it was that finally made you say 'I just have to do this!'"

Some of you know my "last straw" story. I wrote about it in "One Thing," and I've discussed it in several interviews over the years. In 2004, I had thought carefully over the course of several months about whether to lose weight or to accept my body at 300 pounds and forget about it. But it was a photograph of my daughter and me in December 2004 at her 20th birthday dinner that opened my eyes to the broader aspect of weight and self-acceptance.

When I reread "One Thing" this week in preparation for this post, I read it with a 9-year perspective. A lot has happened since that fate-filled photo was taken. In nine years, I've lost weight (perhaps too much) and I've gained some back. But what was true then is still true today: true love transcends weight.

Transcendence Part One: The people I most admire are those who love themselves. Period. They don't use the words "if only..." or "despite..." or "but..." when speaking about themselves. What I learned in my months-long journey to my decision to lose weight was that if I wasn't my own best friend, the person I loved most in this world, then I couldn't lose weight and keep it off because I would be doing it for some other reason or person besides me. If I was going to take my body down that scale, my heart had to be the captain of the weight-loss ship.

Transcendence Part Two: The other folks I most admire are those who love others unconditionally. Like those who love themselves unconditionally, the people who love others unconditionally also don't use the words "if only..." or "despite" or "but..." when speaking of the people they love. The last straw, that moment I started understanding the impact of weight on my life, was when I understood that my children loved me no matter what I looked like.

Here's what I wrote: "At first glance I did the usual, 'How could you let yourself get that big?' self-flagellating ritual. Then something caught my eye. Something bigger than my third chin. Cassie had placed her cheek next to mine and she was beaming. She was happy because she was with her mother on her birthday. Not her morbidly obese mother, her ill-dressed mother, her isolated, guarded, self-loathing mother – those were my descriptors. Cassie loved me just the way I was."

Goodness knows I'm not perfect, and it seems I'm always learning the lessons of loving myself and allowing others to love me, but the teaching had to start somewhere. And for me, it started with  that photo, the mother of all "Aha!" moments.

Do you have a "last straw" moment? And are you committed to loving yourself...JUST AS YOU ARE? Share a comment with us here.

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you'd like us to address!

Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debbie @ debby weighs in
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit
Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

Monday, February 24, 2014

Settling the Dust (and Nasoya coupon winner announced!)

What a long, strange trip this last month has been. (Not THAT kind of trip, although intoxicants of the wine kind have been used a time or three.) Most of us have been through enough snow and ice and cold this winter to last a lifetime. Throw in a move and a fire, and that’s enough to make me cry “Uncle!”

Dust like this blows around sometimes. I get that. And sometimes you get so used to the dust that it becomes normal, and the thought of it settling is unsettling. Thinking clearly isn’t always easy. Neither is figuring out how to do the right thing. Sometimes it’s easier to let the dust decide our fate.

One of the days between the move and the fire, I visited my grandkids. Their energy feeds me, sort of like the Borg, only not as creepy. I didn’t know there would be a barn-destroying fire in a few days, so the dust blowing around me was the kind your sandals kick up on a dirt road, just enough to get your jeans a little dirty.

Mae asked me, as she does every time I visit, “I find da Buddha, Grammy?”

The Buddha is a 1-inch thin stone with a seated Buddha carved in it. It’s a “worry stone” and I keep it in my purse.
Well-worn worry stone

Mae has a ritual in her pursuit to find “da Buddha”: She draws in my notepad; cuts a piece of dental floss and flosses her front teeth; counts all my coins; lines up my debit, grocery, gas, and credit cards in her hands like she’s playing poker; blows her nose; asks to write in my checkbook (“No.”); shakes up the child-proof pill bottle and asks what’s in it (I’ll never tell); squirts lotion on her hands; puts Burt’s Bees on her lips; and powders her nose (and face and the baby’s face and Luca’s face) before finally…FINALLY….

“I find da Buddha!” she exclaims.

Usually, she puts the Buddha back in whatever recess of my purse she found it in, but the last time – the time before the fire – she held it in her hand and pretended it was an airplane. She ran around the house exclaiming, “Flying Buddha!”

Mae is madly into princesses, and she was wearing one of her several sparkly pink jammies that have a princess on the front. Claire is madly into super heroes, and she was wearing her third outfit of the morning: Thor. Luca was sitting on the floor playing with a ball maze, sucking his thumb to help him strategize. Audrey just sat on the floor, contemplating whether she preferred princesses to super heroes. She’s not quite 1, so she has time to decide.

When I left them and drove back to my new home 60 miles away, I thought about these last 6 years as a grandmother, and the dust settled a little. I thought about my resume, the book, the blog, and about when I’d get in the pool at the Y again. I strategized “normal.” I envisioned my life as calm and cool and collected.

Two days later, there was the fire, and the dust kicked up like a V8 Chevy racing down a dry southwestern Minnesota country road. That kind of dust on the prairie goes nowhere without wind. Without wind, the dust is like a scene from “The Matrix,” suspended in air. It filters out  the sun and drifts back to the ground slower than flowing maple sap.

Some things can’t be settled in the mind in a matter of minutes or even days, no matter how badly we want them to. But given time, dust will settle. The laws of physics make it so.

Flying Buddhas and super heroes also make it so. Determination and patience make it so. Being kind and friendly make it so. Eating well and exercising make it so. Even going to Costco makes it so. Think about it: life is going to do whatever it needs to, but you still need a 32-ounce jar of pickled herring, right? And an 8-pack of tooth brushes, a 5-pack of toothpaste, and a 6-pack of dental floss to share? Windshield wipers and a cordless mouse? Retail therapy can help get you through the dust, too.

Dust happens. Dust settles. Dust will happen again.

How do you settle your dust?
The winner of last week’s Nasoya coupon giveaway is Diane! Please email your info to me at and I’ll get that coupon for a free Nasoya product off to you right away.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Nasoya TofuPlus Review (and giveaway! Come on...give it a try!)

Today is Monday, right? I’ve lost track of the days. Time in my world is divided into BTF (before the fire) and ATF (after the fire). I wasn’t the world’s greatest manager of time BTF, but it seems I’ve gotten worse ATF.

Thankfully, the coupon the folks at Nasoya sent me BTF for one free Nasoya item doesn’t expire until December 31. Leave a comment at the end of this review, and if I draw your name on Friday (I’ll tie a string around my finger to remind myself), I’ll send you the coupon!

As most of you know, I’ve been a vegetarian for six years. Only recently have I added a bit of fish back into my diet, but mostly I’m a veggie/fruit/legume/whole grain kind of girl. I also consume a few soy products once in awhile, like soy milk (I don’t like dairy milk unless it’s hidden in a latte) and edamame – cooked or roasted – but I’ve only had a handful of experiences with tofu, none of which were memorable.

Part of the problem was that most of the tofu recipes I’d read seemed complicated or required ingredients I’d never heard of or would only use a few times. When Nasoya asked me to review their new product, TofuPlus, I thought I’d give tofu a try…again. The difference this time was Nasoya’s website. It’s filled with tofu information, how-to videos, and recipes. A lot of recipes. Most of which don’t require traveling to Thailand for ingredients.

I bought Nasoya TofuPlus Extra Firm (organic tofu with added calcium, vitamin D, and a couple of B vitamins) and made tofu taco salad, loosely following the recipe for Tofu Tacos. Rather than a packet of taco seasoning, I used Tippy Toe Diet Cammy’s taco seasoning recipe. (Cammy also reviewed Nasoya TofuPlus a few weeks ago. See her post here.) And instead of stuffing a taco shell, I crumbled a few shells on to a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, beans, salsa, sour cream, and avocado. (I think I also added a bit of light Ranch dressing, but I made this BTF so I don’t remember.)

I agree with Cammy that tofu tastes better the day after it’s been cooked in spices. I liked the tofu taco salad the night I made it. I really liked it the next day. The TofuPlus absorbed the spices nicely. I also like the added calcium and vitamin D, nutrients I struggle to get enough of in my diet, particularly in the winter.

I’m looking forward to trying more recipes from the Nasoya website, namely making something that uses silken tofu, something I’ve not tried before.

So tell me, what is your experience with tofu? Are you an avid fan or a curious bystander? If so, leave a comment and I’ll let you know on Friday who won the coupon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


As long as I live, I will never forget the glow of light dancing on the snow outside the front door of Jim’s house. I threw open the door, looked to my right, and saw his barn on fire, with flames shooting 40 feet in the air.
What was burning was more than a wooden structure, tools, and his pickup. On fire was the labor and the love that built it. On fire was the bow tie given to Jim by his mother when he was a young boy. On fire was his favorite dog’s ashes. On fire was the Harley that took Jim and I on many adventures and instilled in me a confidence I’ve never had. On fire was his grandmother’s dining table and chairs, and a dresser his cousin inherited from her mother, who passed away last year. (Jim was refinishing it for her.) On fire was his grandfather’s .22 pistol and the BB gun Jim and his nephews use to shoot targets when they come to visit. On fire were my brother’s snow shoes he bought in 1970, the ones he said gave him a sense of peace when he treked across the fields around his college campus. On fire were the photos of good times with friends and family, a vintage poster for the Sinnamahoning Rattlesnake Bagging competition, and the original watercolors – painted by Jim’s neighbor – of the cabin that used to sit on the site where his barn was built.

When you walked into Jim’s barn, you walked into his mind, his past, his dreams, and his craft.
Anyone who has lost something special through fire or theft or some other loss knows that when things are more than “stuff,” it is necessary to grieve them for the life-giving, memory-filled things they were. And so it is for Jim. And for me, as I mourn the loss of my antique glider and whiskey barrel and, the most difficult, my bike.
While no one was hurt, I hope and pray our barn kittens weren’t in the barn when the fire started. We haven’t seen them yet, but we’re clinging to the hope that they are hunkered down close by.
So much to process. So much to do.