Sugar, diet and health

Sugar is not necessary.  But it is loved and addictive.  How can you get away from much loved and craved sugar?  My first suggestion is to read every label on every item you eat.  Take a look at what you are really eating.  Once you realize what is in your food, hopefully, you will want to change it, and take steps to reduce your sugar intake.  The thing that worked for me was to bake, and cook whole food, and replace the sweetness from sugar with raw honey or grade B maple syrup.  I love chocolate, so I made my own from 100% cacao (baking chocolate), coconut oil, and raw honey.  By replacing the bad stuff with better things, I was able to break away from the Standard American Diet, and cut out almost all refined sugar.


I feel like changing my diet has gone well beyond what I originally hoped it would do.  When my wonderful doctor told me to cut grains, sugar, legumes, starches, fruit and all conventionally raised meats I believed that I would starve to death.  But after about a week of a really sour mood, and a grumbling stomach, I got off my butt and figured out what I could make, that would be satisfying yet “diet approved”.  With the discovery of coconut milk, the local farmers market, and organic healthful unprocessed meats I have been able to change my way of eating completely but not suffer or feel deprived.  I will admit it is more difficult to eat out, and not drinking alcohol has been somewhat less fun, but Austin has some great restaurants that serve local sourced meats and vegetables.


As of today, I am much healthier and I have lost about 30 pounds.  Weight loss has been a happy side effect.  My skin is no longer grayish, and the inflammation that I was suffering from has almost disappeared.  My liver enzymes are almost within normal ranges, and I am no longer afraid that my liver will fail.  Added to all of those good results, I feel great.  I am a naturally positive happy person, but I wake up happier and more full of energy than ever before in my life.  So, the question I get the most is, when can I go off the diet?  My question is, why would I want to?  I feel great, I am happy, and honestly I love being healthier.



I really do have a ton of things to do.  I have a dog that sheds enough fur to make at least one new dog every day, and entire 3600 square foot house that needs a deep clean, and a closet so out of control I could spend hours reorganizing it alone.  But the sun is out, and it is warm, and I have a book(or ten).


This is nothing new.  I await this time of year, slowly anticipating the “warm enough” weather to lay on the deck and soak up the rays of my beloved sun.  There is a window of time, February thru April, that the temperature is low enough and the rays are warm enough.  And it is here.  For a sun worshiper as faithful as I am, there is no way anything else is getting done.  So the house can stay messy, closet unorganized, and the dog can make a few fur pile  friends.  Until the sun traverses far enough across the sky to be blocked by the roof line of my house I am predisposed.  You know where to find me.


Yesterday’s Big Adventure

Yesterday was President’s day, and as a gift from Past Presidents, I got to spend the day with 2 out of my 3 precious children.  To mark this special day and celebrate it in a fun way my younger kiddos and I installed Zombie, Run! on my phone, set it for a pandemic, and took off on a run.  And by run, I mean a walk with a few crazy being chased by zombie inspired sprints.

My son, who is always full of energy, took off out the door in a full sprint, followed by my slightly less enthusiastic daughter.  I joined in by far the slowest, plodding along.  It was quickly realized by all who was going to be zombie bait.  We darted up the street only to happen upon a swarm.  My son advised a different route, advise we were wise to heed, and we strayed from our usual path.  Everything seemed all clear until we were alerted that several zombies were aware of our presence.  We altered course again, with the aid of my sweet son, who stuck out both his arms and pile drove my daughter and I forward faster, we managed to avert disaster for a few brief moments.  Say what you will about the human race, but chivalry is not dead in my family, my son would not leave us behind.  Unfortunately the extra weight of his tiny sister and their not so tiny mother served to slow my son too much.  The last sound the phone made was AHHH BRAINS!  We had only completed half of the run at that time.  We figured we’re dead, why hurry, and we walked the rest of the way.

All in all, I enjoyed the heck out of the adventure with my beautiful babies (although they are teenagers, not babies) and hope to repeat the adventure soon.  Maybe we should set on a lower setting. In retrospect, I may not have been ready for a pandemic zombie attack!


Why I look Healthier

I feel great, healthy and energetic these days. During a recent visit to my beloved UT campus this week I was told by several people that I look good. Unsolicited compliments are always nice, but this type means more to me than most. I had a rough 2012. I had to have my thyroid removed January 3rd, after suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and developing tumors throughout my neck. When the pathology report came back on my thyroid my doctor said there was only 5% of the thyroid tissue left, and that it was 95% tumors. Ten days later I awakened to a very sore arm and shoulder, which throughout the day became so painful I could not move it. A trip to the hospital revealed that I had developed deep vein thrombosis and had 8 large blood clots in my shoulder and arm. This required a hospital stay and caused me to miss the first few classes of the Spring semester. I was allowed out once I mastered the twice daily injections (in my stomach) and my blood was maintained at an extremely thin-watery level. So I had quite the start to the new year.
I won’t go into the details of hating medications, and side effects, or the pressure of catching up- just let me say that it had to be powered thru.
Now a year later I feel really good, healthier than I have ever felt and very optimistic. I have a doctor that I respect, who would rather treat me with diet, and holistic measures than drugs with all of the nasty side effects I seem to develop. She switched me to a natural thyroid replacement that has been outstanding, and treated my failing liver, gallbladder, and pancreas with a “Paleo type” diet. I know that this approach would be risky or difficult for many, but for me, the opportunity to ditch all of the side effects (which are sometimes worse than the affliction they are designed to treat) was a gift. I have gone “all in” and followed every rule my doctor laid out, exactly and all I can say is “wow”. This is what “normal” feels like? I can’t believe it.
I have been on this treatment plan since Oct 27 – the day after my 41 birthday when my doctor gave me the news that if I didn’t take control of my diet she feared I would have to go back on the medications and possibly lose my liver. I changed everything, that day. Researched all her orders, and switched to all whole natural foods, organic if possible and only free range, or pastured meat products. I have the added restrictions of no dairy, sugars, grains, beans, or starchy vegetables. I am only allowed 1 serving of fruit a day, and then only berries. It was very difficult at first.
Now at almost 4 months later it is easy. I love coconut- all forms, so my coffee (thank goodness I can still have it) is creamy thanks to coconut milk, I can make raw chocolate cookies using the coconut oil, toasted coconut and cocoa powder. I made a coconut flour blueberry cupcake that was wonderful, and cooking veggies in coconut oil is delicious.
So back to the compliments- As a bonus effect (as if feeling GOOD was not enough) I have lost 25 lbs. It has been steady, not just falling off, but a bit each week and now it has become noticeable. Not only do I get to feel good, I get to look good too? Who knew? Life in 2013 is looking up- big time. I am enjoying every minute of it.



I am happy.  Which if you know me is not unusual, but considering that I haven’t heard anything from the PhD department at UT about my pending application it is somewhat surprising.  I will wait patiently, and enjoy this calm optimism in which I seem to be enveloped.

I am also still applying for jobs, if I am not accepted into the PhD program I will have to fill my days with something other than the endless reading and researching that I have been enjoying since I graduated.  I have interviewed for one that seems promising, and a few others that I feel I would be a very good fit for.  Now I feel I am in a holding pattern, waiting to hear any sort of news, but even with the waiting I am pretty happy.



Applying for Jobs

Applying for jobs sucks.  You read the  job description, know that you are more than capable, oh but they want 5 years experience with an off brand software that you have to google to even know what it does.  So I apply anyway, I know that I can learn anything (4th semester proficiency in Latin taught me that).  But what does the interviewer know about me?  Nothing, all they have to go on is a piece of paper that holds a paragraph of fluff about each of my previous jobs and my school performance.  That paper doesn’t say anything about me.  I am proud of my accomplishments, but they are not the measure of how hard I work, how creative I am, or how much energy I invest in learning everything.  They lie flat on a page, and do not give the real story.


And then I am done

Who could have guessed that being a full time student, wife, and mother of three would take up every waking moment of my time.  My first post introduced me as a student, and I anticipated documenting that part of my life.  But now, looking back, there was just not enough time to document anything.  The pace at the University of Texas at Austin is quite rapid, and I needed all of my spare time to ensure I would graduate.

I did graduate, on December 8th.  I am now the proud owner of 2 Liberal Arts Degrees.  A Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and  a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, both with honors.  Now marks the beginning of the job search, and with any luck, a bit of time to document it.