Tag Archives: advice


Long Absences, Trips to China, and Adrenal Fatigue

I’ve been gone a long time. I know! My last post was waaaay back on June 28, which is an eternity ago in blogging years!

So here’s what happened: My family and I went to China in August. And the preparation for that took over every millimeter of brain space for the entire month of July so blogging completely went out the window. And then I got back and kind of became a raving lunatic in the grips of adrenal fatigue. (That picture up there really just sums up how I felt for about 2 months). But more about that later.

First, it was an amazing trip! We went to volunteer with an organization called Evergreen. Evergreen runs a camp for children and youth in the summer called Joy in the Journey, a place where they can practice English and also just have a break from the intense academic pressure that’s put on Chinese kids. My husband is friends with the man who is in charge of that camp, and so we were excited to go help! We taught English, helped cook, led activities, learned some Mandarin, and forged relationships. And we got to see the Great Wall! As a mother, it was completely satisfying to see the impact the trip had on my children, and how much of a life-changing experience it was for them! Here, briefly, are a few pictures for the curious among you, before we go on with the point of this post.

food We got really good at chopsticks! d and t eating IMG_3327 IMG_4672 Fulfilling a life long dream to walk on the Great Wall! IMG_4301 IMG_4398 IMG_4083 This was a completely exhausting, but also completely amazing, bike ride through the Shanxi countryside. IMG_4162 IMG_4170 IMG_2890 IMG_4180 IMG_4175 IMG_2957

As amazing as the trip was, though, it took a HUGE toll on me physically. I knew I wasn’t doing well while we were there, but I thought I’d just push through it and come home and be all better again.

Well, I was wrong.

After a few weeks back home I was doing worse than ever. I was tired all the time but I couldn’t sleep. I was extremely, irrationally emotional. Tiny little life stressors became huge deals that sent me spiraling. I cried all the time. I was, in short, a complete mess. And the very last thing on my mind was keeping up with the blog!

It finally dawned on me what I was experiencing.

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ben and jerrys

Falling Off (and then Bazooka-ing) The Wagon on Vacation

We went on vacation. And I’m here today to tell you all about the fallout.

Because, folks, I fell off the wagon. I didn’t mean to fall off. I actually fully intended to stay on, with just perhaps an occasional cautious field trip off. Kind of like a cruise, where you mostly stay on the ship but dock once in a while to explore exotic locations, you know?

(Not that I know anything about cruises since I’ve never been on one and have a deep abiding fear of being stuck on a ship with that many germ-breathing strangers in close proximity, being forced into extroverted interactions against my will – not to mention the fact that you’re living over miles and miles and miles of deep, black, unknown depths of ocean with who-knows-what lurking just beneath you, just waiting for the ship to sink so that it can eat you up.)

But, anyway. The wagon. By the time vacation ended, not only had I fallen off the thing, but I had taken a sledgehammer to it and set it on fire. And then I hitched a ride on the Junk Food Express and left the smoldering pile of ash (that had once been the wagon) miles behind while I ate things like Mystery Jello Marshmallow Salad and Really Bad For You Cheesecake and (even) Not Real Meat Sausages. (I didn’t even LIKE those sausages, they weren’t even GOOD sausages, but I ate THREE of them for crying out loud!)

Yes. That’s how bad it got.

And, let me assure you…I’ve been paying for it ever since. All the old complaints (that used to be so normal I didn’t even know they WERE complaints) have returned. I’ve been home for two weeks and am only now starting to feel more like my old self.

So, let me be a cautionary tale. Let me take you on the progression of how my vacation morphed from a well-organized plan to stay on course into the utter catastrophe that it was.

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Child Brainwashing 101

I have completely brainwashed my children. It’s official. I just had no idea how effective it was until yesterday.

Because yesterday during his piano lesson, on his own and without me even in the room, my son refused some candy that his teacher offered to himI heard him exclaim something about “that’s full of sugar!” through the door, but had no idea what had happened until he told me about it later.

heartsIt was valentine conversation hearts. Their piano teacher likes to give her students treats on holidays, and I would have let him take them out of politeness had I known what was happening. But when she handed him the box, do you know the first thing he did? He flipped over the box so that he could read the ingredients. And since it was (of course) completely made of sugar and high fructose corn syrup… HE TURNED IT DOWN.

Turned it down! The kid is given a box of candy and I’m not there to stop him from scarfing it down, but instead it refuses it because it’s sugar!

Then, wanting to give him some sort of treat, she offered him some yogurt instead. Now, my son loves yogurt and eats it all the time, but he still flipped it over to check the ingredients anyway. It was the “kid” kind of yogurt that’s filled with junk, though. When he was telling me about it later he said, “Sugar was the FIRST ingredient! AND there was high fructose corn syrup and soy something-or-other!” So he turned that down too.

I didn’t even know that he knew about the whole problem with soy. Apparently he’s been paying attention. And apparently he’s actually remembered all my talks about how the order of ingredients in the list matters!

So, he didn’t end up having anything. And when my daughter went in for her lesson after his, the teacher didn’t even bother offering anything to her. I guess she figured it was a lost cause! (I can only imagine what she thinks about all of this….)

I was absolutely shocked by this! But I guess I shouldn’t be. When I think about it, both my kids have started making better choices about food. I just didn’t realize they had accepted it so whole-heartedly.

I am REALLY good at brainwashing. Apparently.

My kids are 11 and 9, and they’ve had just as much of a sugar addiction as anyone else. And they have the same kid craving for candy that all kids have. They love the stuff! So, really, this transformation is very remarkable! I’m not really completely sure how this happened, but I have a few in-hindsight guesses.

If you’ve been reading this blog for long at all, you’ll know that I love a good numbered list of hints. It’s so orderly! So convenient! So I figured I’d make a nice list of all my guesses for any of you other parents who might like them!

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Losing Weight Without Even Trying: An Unintentional (but welcome!) Side Effect

I did not start this diet to lose weight. But somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced 20 pounds.

Twenty. Pounds. In three months!

Gone, without even trying.

I have not been counting calories. I have not been avoiding fat. (In fact, I eat more butter, cream, and whole milk now than I did before.) I have not been exercising. I eat all day long and never, ever let myself get hungry. I don’t spend a single second thinking things like “is this fattening” but just eat whatever sounds good to me at the time and is “legal” on this diet.

Did you catch everything in that last paragraph? Go back and read it again if you need to. Take a moment to be shocked. Think “but how can that be?!” It’s all true, I swear!

The only thing that is different is that I’m eating real, whole, natural foods. And, it seems, eating real, whole, natural foods has this great side effect of dropping the pounds. It’s been coming off gradually, at a rate of about 1-2 pounds a week. I assume that I’ll continue to lose weight until my body reaches the weight it’s supposed to be, and then it’ll even out. I’m guessing, based on my height, that that’ll be after another 10 pounds.

What this says to me is that my body is basically working now the way it’s SUPPOSED to. All the systems and hormones and whatnot are healthy and happy, and as a result I’m not only feeling better, but I’m looking better too.

Pictures always illustrate things better than words in cases like this, but I don’t really have any good “before” pictures because – as I said – weight loss wasn’t remotely on my mind when I started this. So I’ve had to just pick the best I could find from old snapshots to get front and profile “before” pictures. Here they are.

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Falling Down The Rabbit Hole: Grass-fed Animal Products


I’ve been noticing that this real food thing is somewhat of a trip down a rabbit hole. You start off simple and slow, but then you learn more, and more, and more, and before you know it you’re a countercultural hippy at odds with everyone around you.

Well, maybe not that extreme.

But sort of.

(I’m kind of one step away from getting my own hens. That’s how bad it is.)

Today my rabbit hole brought me here

birchwood farmsIMG_1791 farm cows birchwood farms IMG_1793


for this

IMG_1796 milk and eggs

Eggs from pastured hens, and raw milk from grass-fed cows.

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Eating Out

Eating out on this diet – as with most diets – is tricky.

A couple weeks ago we went to P.F. Chang’s. I had my doubts about how much I could eat there, since American Chinese food is known to be something less than healthy, but I thought I’d be able to find something. And they’re always so good about catering to people with food allergies there, so I thought that something could be figured out.

So we went, and I asked the waiter if he could tell me what selections didn’t have sugar. He went to ask the kitchen and was gone quite a long time. Finally the manager came out and squatted down by me to be disarming, I suppose, and explained with great regret that nothing – NOT ONE THING – in the entire restaurant didn’t have sugar.

He was very apologetic, and did give me the choice of dishes that had at the least amount of sugar, and everyone was very nice and helpful and didn’t make me feel like a problem at all. I have no complaints about the way they handled the situation. But the fact that every dish in a restaurant has sugar in it just kind of boggles the mind. Sugar really IS everywhere!

So does that mean eating out is completely off limits on this diet? I don’t think so. I think it is possible – it just requires a little more thought. Here are a couple hints for dining out successfully.

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How To Cut Up A Pineapple

A lot of people are a little bewildered about how exactly to cut up a pineapple. They’re weird and spiny and have this hard core in the middle – how on earth do you get to it easily? I see a lot of silly advice about cutting off the rind, and then cutting it into rounds, and then cutting out the circle of core in each round. Nonsense! This way is much simpler. Maybe you already know this method, but for those of you who don’t, I’ll walk you through it.

First, make sure the pineapple is ripe. When you buy it, it’ll probably be mostly green, so you want to leave it out on the counter until it’s mostly yellow, like this one is. When it’s ready to cut, lay it down on a cutting mat. (Ignore the melted corner. That’s what happens when you put a hot pot on it accidentally. Don’t do that.)

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