Losing weight eating anti-inflammatory foods

In my previous post, I told you about what I did to start feeling better, to get healthier, and how I felt about Father Michael’s statement that I’m not supposed to get full during times of fasting or abstinence. Here’s the next chapter in that story.

Losing weight

About a week later, I was still hungry all the time, still eating about 60% of my normal amount, and still eating kale, spinach, carrots, and the like…I didn’t know it at the time, but they are anti-inflammatory foods.

I noticed that my jeans were baggy. A lightbulb went on over my head, and I hurried to the bathroom to weigh myself. Sure enough, down ten pounds. My jeans were about to fall off of me, and I knew that I couldn’t wear them like that, so I had to find something else to wear. Problem was, I didn’t have any jeans that were smaller. But wait. I did have one pair, somewhere, that I had put into a box to cut up and use for sewing projects… where were they?

Skinny jeans

I found the box and found the jeans I put in there a while back–jeans that I had been sure I would never fit into again. I wondered if I should even hope–but before I let myself think anything, I just tried them on. They FIT. I yanked them off and looked at the size. Four sizes smaller than the ones I had been wearing. I had lost four jeans sizes in about a week.

A week after that, I had lost another three pounds, and the jeans weren’t as snug. They look great on me now. I haven’t juiced in a while, but have been eating the salads and a small dinner. I think I’ll do some more juicing here and there, but will definitely eat the greens every day for as long as I can afford it.

I’ll probably level off and stop losing weight, but frankly, as long as I keep feeling good, that’s fine. I’m fairly tall, and have huge bones (wrist bone over 7 inches – very large frame), so I’m never going to see a small number on the scale, and that’s fine. I feel “hot” and happy.

I certainly would never have predicted that in less than a month, I’d be used to eating like this, or that it would be good for me in these ways. Spiritually? Yes. My God is no longer my belly. Energy better? Yes. Weight better? Yes. Diabetes better? Yes. Even my relationship with my children is better.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Of course, we’re not saving much on the grocery bill, because the fresh greens are more expensive than what I was eating before, but that’s okay, too. As long as we can afford it, I’m going to eat this way. I don’t care how tired I get of eating greens. It’s good for me. Those foods are decreasing the inflammation in my body, and they are better than the medications I’ve been on for so long.

If anyone–and I do mean anyone–had told me that I should do this, and these are the results I would get, I would have thought they were a wack job. I’ve done all of this stuff before, and it didn’t do any good. Why it’s working this time, I don’t know. My guess is that it’s probably the cumulative effects of going gluten free and dairy free several years ago (which allowed my body to start absorbing nutrients), then starting to use SaladMaster pans last year (they keep all of the nutrients in the food, so the nutrients that are in the foods you cook STAY in them), then starting to juice and eat lots of anti-inflammatory, alkaline foods… My body is finally getting lots of nutrients now.

Food is medicine

I never believed that what we ate had much to do with anything. My family taught me that the purpose of food was just to get your stomach to shut up and leave you alone for a while. Of course, they all had the same celiac issues, so they didn’t absorb nutrients, either, and so it didn’t matter what they ate–they wouldn’t get healthy, and they all gained weight. I was the thinnest in my family–most of them were over 300 pounds. It never mattered for me, either, until we went gfcf and started the healing process.

I am so glad we found Orthodoxy. We have had Orthodox people (here, and in heaven)  praying for us for at least three years now. I think that has made a big difference in my health. For the longest time, doctors told me that I would be lucky if I lived to see my children graduate high school. I had too many systems that were too messed up to even hope to live more than a few years. There were days that it was all I could do to get out of bed and get dressed and keep an eye on my kids. Forget cooking, or cleaning, or going anywhere.

Heal kidney disease?

A few months back, my doctor said she was pleasantly surprised at my Granular  Filtration Rate (the gauge for how bad a person’s chronic kidney disease is). Turns out that what she meant was is went from being in Stage 3 CKD to back in the normal range. From what I understand, that does not “just happen.” It certainly doesn’t happen without medication or major life changes. Did I take meds for it? No. Did I have major life changes? Only if you count the prayers of the saints and twice-daily worship. And I do. That was even before we were chrismated, before the Eucharist.

That was cause for celebration. It meant that the death sentence I had been dealt was lifted. It meant that I would probably live to see my children graduate,that I might even live to see grandchildren. It also meant that my attitude could change for the better, and it did. I hadn’t realized how much of a downer I had been. In a way, I’m glad that all the posts here were wiped out – such bad attitude. Kicking and screaming. Bleck.

Feel better fast

Now, it’s all a different story. I still have chronic illnesses, don’t get me wrong, and I still have to watch that I don’t overdo it, or I’ll trigger a flareup. But things are better. I feel better. Not as good as I did when I took a short course of steroids several months ago, but I have some of my energy back, and my health is improving. It’s better than I had any “right” to expect it to be. I actually played with some of the kids at church one night while we were waiting on some parents.

My kids commented on it. “Hey, Mom, you’re playing! You must feel good, huh?” I did. I still do. My body is still requiring more sleep, as it has been doing all year, which of course I hate, but I’ll learn to live with that, too. I will probably live to see grandkids! That thought is going to take some getting used to! 🙂

Lent and fasting

We did Lent last year, and partway through it, my doctor was about to order me to stop it. My blood sugars were running too high, and I was getting physically weak – my muscles were giving out at inopportune times, and that kind of think makes driving(among other things) dangerous. I wanted to continue with the Lenten fast, though, and so my doctor reluctantly agreed. I was sure glad when it was over, though.

Fasting rules

We’re Western Rite, and can have fish during fasts and abstinence, and Sundays are feast days, so we had meat then–how awful it would have been not to have had any meat for 40 days! I’m sure if we hadn’t been able to eat meat on Sundays, and to have fish every day during Lent, I would have passed out from weakness.

Earlier this year, I complained on facebook about not being able to get full on days we eat fish. If I don’t eat meat, it doesn’t matter how much I eat, I feel hungry again within minutes of finishing a meal. Our priest commented that I’m not supposed to get full.

That gave me pause.

I’m not supposed to get full? That was just about as foreign and apalling an idea to me as saying we should desecrate the altar. Do WHAT??? You have GOT to be kidding me. Only I could tell he wasn’t.

Being hungry

Hunger, where I come from, is a bad thing. A very bad thing. To be avoided at just about all costs. Being hungry means I could die. And here he was telling me that it’s actually a good thing?! I had a hard time wrapping my head around that one. Of course, I believed that he knew what he was talking about, so that helped. Otherwise I would have dismissed his comment as pure insanity.

Everyone in America knows that being hungry is bad. We fight hunger around the world, sending money to “Feed the Children” types of programs. And anyone can see that not many Americans go hungry or even deny themselves loads of food: just look at the obesity rates. I mean airplanes can hardly stay in the sky for all the fat tails on them. Being hungry is bad, and everyone knows it. 😉

Metabolic syndrome

After I thought about it for a while, I decided that I was just going to be hungry every day for the rest of my life. I might as well just learn to live with it. Because if I eat enough–at any time–to stop feeling hungry, I gain weight.

My body is messed up from both genetics and from multiple episodes of near starvation when I was a child (where I got my belief that going hungry meant I could die). A specialist once explained to me what metabolic syndrome means, what my body does: it treats 500 calories as if it is 2,000 calories. It defies the laws of physics, but it does it.

What this means is that if I eat “normally,” I get fat. He said to get used to one of two things: being hungry all the time, or being overweight. Even if I worked out all day long, he said, I’d never be able to weigh what I “should” weigh.

Feel better

My hunger is like a roaring lion. It might be due to the diabetes, or to some other issue. There are some medical conditions that make a person feel hungry all the time, and diabetes is just one of them. I hate feeling hungry. I hate feeling awful, too, being exhausted and sick all the time, taking three different meds just for the diabetes, not to mention a handful of other pills, multiple times a day… NO THANK YOU.

I had already been wanting to lose weight and to get healthier before Father Michael said we’re not supposed to get full. I started looking ahead to Lent, and thought if I’m going to be hungry all the time, I might as well embrace it, and start now, and just be hungry all the time.

Have more energy

So I cut my food intake down to about 40% of what I had been eating. Sure enough, I was hungry every minute of every day that week. But I noticed that I had some more energy at the end of that week. Huh! Who would have thought that cutting my intake like that would give me energy?!

I didn’t notice any changes in my size or anything at that point, but I was happy for the energy boost. When you live life as a Spoonie–someone with chronic pain and fatique–you’re thankful for every ounce of energy you can get.

I hope Lent this year is better than it was last year. I don’t want my doc ordering me to stop it. Our priest told us to do it three days a week instead of six. I’m pretty confident we can do that, and not have any problems. I will do my best not to complain about it, either. After all, I’m already getting used to being hungry all the time, and it’s not killing me – just the opposite, in fact, as you’ll see in the next post.


A friend sent me links to pages on the Wayback Machine, where my blog posts were archived. I was so excited, because I thought I could repost them here. Alas, no. Each one I cilck, the Wayback Machine says it can’t find and that it doesn’t exist on the live web, either. I don’t know what happened there, but I’m disappointed. I’m kicking myself. I should have taken care of it that very day, instead of waiting until I “had time” to sit down and do it. Now, months later, I sat down to “reboot” this blog, and they are gone. That is one of my problems–I get too many plates spinning. More training to overcome.

So I’m purposefully choosing which plates to spin, and which to let drop.

I asked Matthew McNatt of McNatt Learning Center for advice on prioritizing, because I have a hard time telling what is going to be a good thing to do, and what won’t. Many things sound good. There are so many good causes out there, too. But, unless I have a crystal ball, how can I tell which ones are going to have a good impact? How do I know whether it’s better for me to try to sell websites, or transcription services? Or to write articles myself, or to coach people who want to be writers? Or to write ebooks about gluten free living or homeschooling? How can I tell whether I should join the Chamber of Commerce, or go to a BNI meeting? I can’t do everything all at once, and I don’t know what’s going to be the most effective–help the most people and make a decent amount of money for the time involved. I have found out over the years some things that are NOT effective, and some things that didn’t make any money but did lead to relationships. Writing online for certain websites, for example. Pennies, but the friendsihps I developed because of it are gold. I’d do it all again just for that. Relationships are very important! It’s good to invest time in them, and at the same time, I do have to make some money sooner or later. If you know of a way to tell what’s going to be a “winner” and what’s a waste of time and effort, I’d love to hear about it!

Matthew gave me a tip: separate my list of commitments from my list of possibilities. Address the commitments daily. Check the list of possibilities just once a week, and decide whether or not to add any of them to my list of commitments.

So, for now, I have these commitments:

  • Worship (at home and church, including reading Orthodox books)
  • Household/family needs (including homeschooling, music lessons, researching appliances we need to purchase, repairs, cooking, cleaning, sewing…)
  • Teach sign language to local homeschooling group.
  • HarshmanServices clients (websites, transcription, content writing, proofreading/editing, and running the writer coaching program)
  • Free Agent Academy
  • Adding content to our own websites (information sites with ebooks and other downloads for sale)
  • Edit CountingBy12s.com, and blog as a panelist there
  • Orthodox-Christian.com (this blog)
  • Send out 30 queries in 30 days during March
  • Read a book a week
  • Earn $500 a month (I know that doesn’t sound like much at all, but I don’t care what the hype says, it’s not easy to get started making money working from home, and it’s a start. The goal is that the dollar amount will go up over time. One step at a time. Plus, I homeschool kids and run a household, and we worship twice a day–that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for money-making activities).
  • Get chickens.

My list of “possibilities” is probably endless, but here are a few:

  • Land E.S. as a client.
  • Create a website for my husband’s photography.
  • Get S.T. to sign the contract and send payment to get started.
  • Create a website for charity.
  • Set up a website/blog for my writing.
  • Transcribe F.S.’s sermons.
  • Move furniture/room usage around in our house.
  • Build a shed.
  • Get another insurance policy.
  • Look on ebay for icons and incense.
  • Cull emails.
  • Unsubscribe from stuff I don’t use.
  • Read Brain Alchemy.
  • Create a website for L.C.
  • Join the YMCA.
  • Go on a cross-country homeschooling/apprenticeship trip.
  • Read any of the hundreds of books we have in our house.
  • Relearn Spanish and Navajo.
  • Learn Japanese, Russian, or Mandarin.
  • Write book about gluten.
  • Write book about abuse and forgiveness.
  • Write book about homeschooling with special needs.
  • Contact book publishers about freelance proofreading.

That’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more…but I don’t have time to think of them right now. You get the idea: there are a ton of things that could go on my to-do list.

Food during Lent

I decided that for Lent this year, I’m only going to make the same few foods over and over. For one thing, I don’t want to cook, and there are reasons for that:

  • Standing hurts, so I do it as little as possible.
  • I have to cook from scratch due to IgG-mediated food allergies and financial restrictions, and that takes longer than throwing together something from a package does. Cooking one big pot of something and using it for several meals means I can cook less frequently. Food during Lent shouldn’t take long to make, in my opinion.
  • Since 90% of the foods I liked and knew how to cook were removed from our diet, I don’t have much interest in making anything anymore. I always loved throwing together different baked goods and dinner dishes. I always cooked from the hip, rarely even glancing at a recipe, and pretty much everyone who tried my food loved it (not so anymore). Doing that with gluten-free, dairy-free dishes doesn’t work very well. It’s just not the same anymore. Is it possible to have “dietary depression” from not being able to eat the foods you like due to dietary restrictions? If so, I’ve got it.
  • There are other things on my to-do list. My kids take up most of my day, still. Lord willing, I’ll live to see the day when they don’t, but for now, I can’t get much done when they’re awake. Just the appointments alone are hard enough. Today, I drove about 110 miles for an errand and an appointment (that the receptionist messed up on, again, which means I’ll have to go try to do that appointment for the third time…and drive another 70 miles to do it). I salvaged the trip, though, by going to three stores in that town to get some things we needed. It wasn’t a total waste, but easily could have been.

Food during Lent should be easy

For another thing, from what I understand (which isn’t that much on this topic), the idea is to get our minds off of food during Lent so we have more time to focus on God and penitence. It seems very counterintuitive to me—if the powers that be want us to get our minds off of food during Lent, making special rules and keeping us hungry all the time sure does not seem like the way to do it. If food during Lent is supposed to be quick and easy, the fasting rules don’t seem to be conducive to that in this day and age. But what do I know?

Fasting and hunger pangs

It would be easier to stop thinking about food if we didn’t eat any at all, because hunger pangs stop after about the third day. Of course, I’m sure my doctor would have an absolute fit about that one—as it is, last year she almost ordered me to go back to eating meat because of the muscle weakness and fatigue I was experiencing. This year, though, our Father Confessor told our family to fast only on MWF. Maybe there aren’t many people who could go 40 days without food. I went about 30 days without food as a kid (not by choice), but it nearly killed me and triggered metabolic problems. Not something I’d recommend.

I saw Adventures of an Orthodox Mom creating an elaborate menu for Lent, and I thought no way am I doing that. I thought I should do the same half a dozen meals over and over. We only do about ten repeatedly anyway, these days. Boring gluten-free, dairy-free living. It could be so much more, I know, but not in this house.

Someone suggested that for food during Lent I should do the same meal each Monday for dinner, a different one for every Tuesday of Lent, etc. I like that idea so much I already do that throughout the year (when I haven’t fallen off the wagon and stumbled into haphazard dinner-making land, that is). I was thinking even simpler than that. Along the lines of “Let’s make beans, rice, potatoes, oats, salads, fruit, and that is it,” and, “If I can cook for one hour right now, and make enough food to last us all week…”

So guess what I made when the kids and I got back from that long and nearly wasted trip today?

  • 6 quarts of salad that I vacuum sealed in jars (I found a way to do it that only requires a hand pump, a pushpin, a piece of tape, and a jar with a lid. I found the vacuum pump today for just 40¢!),
  • a pressure cooker full of pinto beans (I canned some of them and froze some of them),
  • a gallon of vegetable soup (I canned it), and
  • french fries for tonight’s dinner. My husband took care of the burgers while I did the fries. (Don’t freak out. It’s okay – our family’s only supposed to be meatless on MWF, remember?)

So for the next week, we’ll only have to make a pot of rice or fry up some potatoes each day. The rest is done. The next time I cook, I’m making a boatload of fish patties and freezing them. It might be a few days, though. My feet and hips are really hurting. My hips have been hurting a lot lately, and I’m not sure why, but after today, with all that walking and standing and cooking on hard floors, I’m hurting even more and not ready to cook again tomorrow.

I found a slow cooker recipe book today for a couple of dollars, and I’ll try some of the recipes in it. I say “some” because the ones that call for noodles or dumplings or anything like that won’t work with gluten free pastas—it will be mush. I love the dump it and forget it kind of cooking, and used to use our slow cookers all the time. At one point, we had six of them—two of the standard 3 QT size and the rest were all different sizes. Now, we just have one 3 QT Rival brand Crockpot. And it doesn’t get much use, I must say. Maybe we can change that.

Increase prayer time

Will I take the three hours a day I “should” be cooking and cleaning the kitchen, and put it into prayer? No, most likely, I will not. First of all, I don’t spend that much time in the kitchen anymore. I used to spend about 5 hours every day in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning up afterward, but that was before I moved into a house with concrete floors. I love them—they are beautiful—but I can’t stand for long on them. So I normally only spend about an hour a day in the kitchen now, if that. With this kind of cooking for Lent, it should give me about five hours a week of “extra” time. I think we could increase our prayer and spiritual learning time by that much, but that’s about it. Another reason we’re not going to do three hours a day is there is no way the kids could tolerate it. I don’t know if I could, either, frankly. One step at a time, please.