Thursday, April 30, 2015


Over the long, dark days of winter, I found myself reading an unusual blog.  Somehow, through one of those long link clicking trails, I'd stumbled upon a blog called Ask Jackie on the Backwoods Home website.  She's such a cool lady!  She answers all kinds of canning questions, plus she blogs a lot about her life as a homesteader in zone 3 Minnesota.  I think I spent about three weeks reading through her entire blog, and ended up with strong desires to start canning and longing for my own farm and chickens.

One thing that caught my attention while reading through several years of her blog was how she uses a product called wall-o-waters to get her tomatoes out soon enough to get a decent harvest.  Living in Minnesota and having a pretty short season, I assume this is just about the only way she can get a good harvest.  I assumed, having been gardening and homesteading for several decades, that she wouldn't be using them unless they really worked, so I decided I'd check them out myself. 

I'd actually heard of wall-o-waters before, but I guess I figured they weren't worth the effort of expense.  I mean, so they give you a little head start, so what?  But when I read up on them, I found out that you can actually start your plants 6-8 weeks early!  And then I started thinking about how that would effect my harvest.  In our part of NY, I can put tomatoes in around the end of May, and don't get any ripe tomatoes until, at the earliest, the beginning of August.  Our last frost date is around the middle of October, but I usually tear the tomatoes down about a week before then just so I can get everything to bed before bad weather comes.  To make things easy, we'll call that two months of harvest.  I got about 30 pounds of tomatoes last year.  If the wall-o-waters give me another month of harvest, that means I could conceivably see a 50% increase in my tomato yields.  Holy cow! 

This is, of course, just speculation, but the thought of all those tomatoes was just so tempting.  I had originally planned on only getting one 3-pack of the walls, but Chad convinced me to get enough to protect all 8 of my plants.  (I accidentally ordered four packs instead of three, so now I have four extra to experiment with.)  Only time will tell if I'll actually get another month of harvest.

I actually ended up buying a knock-off brand by Gardeneer called Season Starters because, at the time I bought them, they were only $11 for a package of three (whereas the wall-o-waters were $17 for a similar pack of 3). 

I can tell you already, after a week and a half, that these things are awesome.  The weekend before last, so April 19th, we were having some great weather; it was in the 60s and 70s, and the soil was very warm.  I saw in the forecast a week and a half of very cold weather.  I knew that I could plant the tomatoes that day, five weeks before our last frost date (I had originally planned on putting them out four weeks before the last frost date), or I would have to wait two more weeks because the soil would be too cold.  So I decided to put these walls through the ultimate test.

The tomatoes before I planted them.

I got the tomatoes in the raised beds, and then proceeded to fill up the walls with water.  That's not too hard as long as you have a bucket to put the walls around while you fill them, and a decent hose (and patience).  I was worried for a bit that they would be too big to fit in my square foot garden, but I was eventually able to convince an 18 inch circle to fit into a 12 inch square just fine.  I then tied up the tops with some nylon twine and waited for the cold weather to hit.  And boy did it.

You have to understand that even in western NY, a snow storm in late April is pretty crazy.  

The temps went down into the 40s on Tuesday that week, then into the 30s on Wednesday and Thursday, with at least three nights into the 20s with bitterly cold winds.

I went out and checked the walls daily.  The tomatoes, despite my desperate fears, were fine.  The air inside the walls was frigid and damp, but there was no frost damage to the plants.  On the first cold night, Chad and I went out at 9PM with hot water bottles to put into the walls next to the plants; no luck.  There was no room at all to put the bottles inside, and in fact, I ended up nearly crushing the one plant while trying.  So instead, we laid the bottles between walls.  By that time, the water was starting to freeze pretty good, and we had just enough time to get the bottles out there and run back inside before frost bite started setting in.  I got very little sleep that night, worrying about my plants and what I'd do if they died.  I kept telling myself that I could just buy starts from the nursery, but that didn't ease my worry at all; after all, most of my plants were heirlooms and hard to find varieties.

The next  morning, I went out with several gallon jugs full of hot water to place around the walls, hoping to help thaw the frozen water and keep the plants safe.  They were fine!  The water wasn't even frozen any longer, and the tomatoes had survived with no problems.  I was shocked!  Dumbfounded!  Amazed  by the power of water, and the determination of my tomatoes to survive.  For the next few days, I hunkered down inside and decided not to worry about the tomatoes.  I left the extra water out there as insurance, but didn't refill the bottles with hot water after that first night.

Then this week, the weather started thinking happier thoughts and turned warm again.  I opened the walls up to let some fresh air in, and to get a good peek at how everyone was doing.  Despite spending a frigid week inside tiny green cells, it looks like everyone is fine; and not only that, bet I'm positive they've all grown by at least an inch or possibly more!  Can you believe that?

My side garden tomatoes with the added insurance bottles.

A peek in at one of the beef tomatoes.

The main garden.  I added two extra walls to start early squash in.

Look at how happy this cherry tomato looks!
I still have yet to see where this will lead, as far as harvest goes.  But if they're doing this well at 3-1/2 weeks before the last frost, I can only imagine what they're going to look like by the end of May, when I would normally plant out my tiny tomatoes.  Will I get tomatoes by the fourth of July?  Wouldn't that be cool!

As a bonus of accidentally buying too many walls, I'm going to start some summer squash early to see how they do.  I set up the walls yesterday to help warm up the soil, and plan on planting the seeds this weekend sometime. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

The age of curves

These vintage ads for weight-gaining products are awesome.  I just had to share.

I especially like this one, because the woman in the photo is actually a woman most people would call "big" or "fat" or "obese" today.

Just goes to show that skinny wasn't always considered beautiful.

And just as another example of this, before I go, here's a lovely picture of Lillian Russell,  famous stage actress and singer of the turn of the last century.  This is the only picture I could find of her without a corset, and that clearly shows her lovely curves.  Apparently, she weighed over 200 pounds (not that that should matter).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Single Focus

As I said recently, I've been reading an interesting book called Women Afraid to Eat.  I don't agree with it 100%; it was written in the late 90s, so there are suggestions to go low fat and low sodium sprinkled throughout, but the rest of the book is fascinating.  It's a shocking exposure of what our society's focus on weight really does to women.  It's definitely opened my eyes.

The author, Frances Berg, talks about a lot of things; the shocking long term results of dieting both physically and mentally, the fact that 70% of women don't get enough of the nutrients they need to be healthy, how people unfairly judge women based on their appearances, and the surprising fact that the health benefits that you get from dieting and losing weight are very tiny compared to the health risks.  I haven't quite gotten through the whole book yet, but I'm finding it to be pretty inspiring and I plan on looking into these subjects more soon.

The last point there is the most annoying to me.  People that are obese or overweight are, yes, statistically at more risk for many health problems, such as hearth disease and diabetes.  The risk, according to Frances, isn't as high as you might think, considering how loudly health experts are yelling about it.  In some ways, it's actually healthier to be overweight or even obese; some recent studies have shown that overweight people actually live longer than normal weight people, and are less likely to get dementia.  And race plays a big role in it, too.  Apparently, black people can be healthy at slightly higher BMIs than white people, and Native American people can have much higher BMIs than white people and still be healthy.

So what's the deal?  Why is skinny "ideal", anyway?  I just don't get it.  And I certainly don't understand those people who are in favor of public fat shaming to get people to lose weight.  As a person who has never been a normal weight, I can tell you for sure that fat shaming doesn't work.  It rips a deep scar into your heart that never goes away.  I'll never forget being called hippo hips, or thunder thighs, or being barked at and called a dog.  I think the one that hurt the most when two boys came up to me, and one said, "I think you're pretty, but my friend thinks you're ugly.  That must mean you're pretty ugly."  It's hard to look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman; all I see is an ugly fat person.  And there are health experts out there that want to promote this kind of treatment!

 A recent study really got me riled up.  It was a cohort study that tried to see if there were different kinds of obese people.  And, apparently they found six types, though because this was focused on a group of people in England, they suspect there are even more groups globally than they found.  I think this kind of study is awesome; they're actually looking at obesity as a set of different types of people instead of fat vs. skinny.  I went into the article with high hopes, thinking yes, now they'll see there are some healthy obese people.  And they did find healthy obese people!  Obese young women, and obese older affluent adults.  Great, wonderful, glad to hear them say they're healthy.

But then they go on to say that these two groups, the healthy obese women and healthy obese affluent older adults still need to lose weight.

Why?!  Why do they need to lose weight if they're healthy?!  That makes no sense!  If they're healthy, and living a health promoting lifestyle, why does it matter if they lose weight or not?  Shouldn't health be the first priority?  RRR!

We're all individuals.  I can never be skinny; my genes won't allow it, and I'm not just blowing smoke here.  My mom was a beautiful woman when she was younger; she lived on a farm, in the days when everyone walked everywhere (she walked to town most days, a five mile hike up and down a huge hill), and she ate real whole food her parents grew and that grandma cooked with love.  But she was still a size 18 at her smallest.  All of my maternal female relatives (seven aunts and many cousins) were like that; we're a family of strong, tall, big boned, robust, and voluptuous women.  Grandma  was never skinny (though never fat, either), and she was vibrant and healthy until her death at 102.

I tried to find the data behind the news article for that study about types of obesity, but apparently you have to email the lead scientist for it.  Although I'm interested to see what it says, I'm not really that good at sorting through the data.  Besides, I doubt they'd send it to me for a blog post a few people are going to read.

I came across an article on the New York Post's website, with an excerpt from a book called Body of Truth.  After reading the article and the reviews of the book, I had to order it.  It's a serious look at the science of obesity and what it honestly says about the health risks of being fat and also of dieting.  I feel like I need to get to the bottom of this.  I want to read about the real science behind obesity, rather than just what the health experts are screaming.

So that's my rant for the day.  Hopefully, when I read more into the book, I'll have something more interesting to say than RRRRR! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Baby Subject

In less than two weeks, Chad and I will have been trying for a baby for three years.  It won't be a very happy day, because it marks three very emotionally rough years in my life and marriage.  As you can probably guess, we haven't yet had a baby.

I'm not really even sure where to begin with this subject.  Back in 2012, I was all full of hope and ready to take on the responsibilities of raising a baby.  I had plans of having a home birth, moving to the country, maybe home schooling, and raising some great kids.  Around 8 months in, I started tracking my temperature and other fertility signs, but knowing when I ovulated didn't do too much to help the process.  In December of 2012, I think I had a very early miscarriage, but I've never had another one since then.

I didn't want to go to the doctor for this problem.  First, because I have a very deep dislike of visiting a doctor; they tend to not listen to you, spend very little time with you, and throw a pill at you to make the symptoms of your problem go away.  Second, because I have a strong belief that with knowledge and good food, a person can take better care of themselves than a doctor can.  So I set out on the low carb diet with high hopes that it would help us conceive.  I didn't know if the problem was me or Chad, but I figured good food would help us both.

That didn't exactly work, though.  I really thought the problem was me, because I had a history of PCOS symptoms from my teen years until my early 20s.  However, according to my records I was keeping, I was ovulating pretty regularly, so the low carb diet definitely helped in that department.  That's one thing I can say for sure about going low carb; my cycle has gotten so much more regular and predictable.  I think women who are having PCOS problems should really give it a try before going on drugs.

Well, long ago, we decided that we would start getting fertility testing once I turned 30, which I finally did last September (woo, I'm old now).  For insurance reasons, we actually didn't start until this January.  What fun that's been!  No, actually, it's been pretty terrible.  The tests aren't difficult or anything.  It's just...  I've been to the doctor's office like five times for myself, and Chad's had to go to the doctor/hospital six times, all between January and March.  For people who are anti-doctor, this has been very stressful.  It's been less expensive than I feared, thank goodness, but I think it's because Chad's new insurance is so remarkably good.  If we didn't have insurance, or we had our old bad insurance, we'd be out of money already.

So the tests we've done so far are:

Blood tests:
Leutinizing hormone
Lipid panel
Comprehensive metabolic panel
2 CBCs
Post-ovulation progesterone
Fasting serum insulin
Blood sedimentation rate

Transvaginal ultrasound

Blood tests:
Leutinizing hormone

2 semen analyses
Testicular ultrasound

Yes, I did give a lot of blood.  Chad didn't give quite as much as I did, but when he did, he passed out.  And all because his mom warned him that he'd done that once before, and that he should be careful in case it happens again (to which he rolled his eyes, lol).  As far as testing goes, there's only one more test that needs to be done, but I'll get to that in a minute.

The results of the tests were pretty boring.  Everything on my end is very normal.  I'm ovulating, have a good level of hormones, have super excellent blood lipids (no surprise there!  I'll have to post the results sometime); there is one thing that was wrong, though, and this one makes me scratch my head.  I have a high red blood cell count.  Not very high, and when I went in to get another test done (after two weeks of making sure I drank plenty of water), it was lower but still just a hair over normal.  I don't know what this means, but the nurse taking care of my fertility stuff didn't seem to think it was something to worry about.  It could be lots of things, from cancer, to breathing problems, to being dehydrated (I think this last one is most likely; I did have the test done in February, a particularly dry month).  I had a very small cyst on one of my ovaries, but the nurse said this is physiologic and just part of a normal cycle. 

Chad's story is a little more interesting than mine.  Although his blood work came out perfectly normal, both semen analyses came out kind of low.  Not actually low in most ways, but at the low edge of normal.  The doctor he talked to told him that the normal range is actually what's normal for men between 15 and 85, so to be at the low end of  normal was indeed low.

Still, I don't think that having a lower sperm count is the only reason we haven't had a baby.  Researching Google tells me that most men with a low sperm count go on to have no trouble getting a woman pregnant.  And this is where the final test comes in.  I'm still not sure if I want to get this test done, partially because of how it's done, and partially because of what it may find.

It's called HSG, and basically it's an x-ray done on my abdomen while a dye is injected into my uterus so the doctors can see if my tubes are free of blocks.  It really doesn't sound very pleasant, does it?  I don't like x-rays, and there's a risk for infection and tearing the uterus, plus it's uncomfortable (or so I hear).  Plus, what if it does show that I have a block, or endometriosis, or scar tissue, or something worse?  What if it doesn't show anything at all?

But you want to know the silliest reason I've been avoiding getting the test done?  It's because there is an increased chance of becoming pregnant for three months after an HSG, most likely because the dye clears away blockages.

Say what?  I'm afraid to get a fertility test because I might get pregnant?  Yeah, silly, I know.  Well...  I can't explain it.  It might help to say that Chad and I have decided that we're not going to pursue fertility treatment, no matter what the tests show.  After the heartbreak of having infertility, and then the stress of going through testing, we just don't think we want to go through twice as much heartbreak and stress of treatment, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost with no guaranteed outcome.  It's been kind of freeing, actually.  It's nice to know that we're almost to the end of the long painful slog. 

Plus, there's something else, too.  I've never been sure I've even wanted to have children.  I mean really, honestly, truly wanted kids and all the ups and downs they bring.  I know I want a family, someone to care for and love, to be here with us after our parents die and our only real family is gone (we have siblings, but Chad's brother lives very far away, and my sister and I aren't close).  I've been trying to trust God on guiding me, and I have a strong sense that us getting fertility treatment would be like forcing the subject without God's blessing.  I don't mean to say that fertility treatment is bad, not at all, but for us, it would be reckless, because we don't exactly know what we want.  If I got pregnant naturally, I would know that God had finally blessed us, and I know I would be a lot happier and more ready to take on the task of being a parent.  At least that's what I feel.  I'm not really a religious person, even though I keep referring to God; what I'm really trying to say when I say I trust God is that I trust the forces of nature, the rhythms of the body, and my own wisdom more than I trust doctors with pills and operations.

So this is where we stand; I'm normal, he's mostly normal, we're both very healthy, but we're childless.  I still don't know if I'm going to get the HSG test.  Afterall, if we're not going to get treatment, what's the point?  It would only add fuel to the small part of me that desperately, obsessively wants to fix the problem.  But is there really a problem?  Chad and I are very happy.  If we have to spend our lives childless, at least we'll have plenty of time to spend together.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Garden Review

It's April, and in western NY, that means it's time to get outside and get digging.  It's pretty muddy out, though, so every time I go out to the yard, I have to wear these:

And I'm out every day, because I'm just so excited about the return of spring.  The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, the earth is greening.  The hill sides are even turning from brown to red as the tree buds swell and ready for opening. 

I suppose I should back up a bit and mention last year's garden, before I jump ahead into this year.  We had a nasty winter in 2013-2014.  It was not only incredibly cold (many weeks of -10 degree weather with up to -40 degree wind chills), but it was what they call an open winter; there was hardly any snow on the ground.  Combining those two things wrecks a lot of havoc on nature.  Many plants died; I lost my dwarf  blueberries, my Russian red kale, my raspberries died down to the ground, and our chock cherry even died back a bunch.  On top of that mess, we had a very cold and rainy summer.  It seemed like it rained every other day.  I didn't have to water but once a week, whereas in a normal summer, I have to water every day. 

Despite all that, my garden did remarkably well!  I got the best tomato crop I've ever gotten, even though everyone else in the area was having a terrible tomato year.

That's a 1.3 pound ox heart tomato.
Not all of  my plants did as well as my tomatoes, but it was a successful year, all around.  Because I'm a huge nerd and I love numbers and spread sheets, I kept track of how much produce I harvested and multiplied it by how much we'd pay for it if we'd bought it in the store.  By year's end, I'd harvested $356.77 worth of fresh produce.  I call that a success. 

The winter we had in 2014-2015 was just as cold as the year before (actually, it was colder; we had the coldest February on record, seriously), but the difference is that we had a ton of snow.  I think at its deepest, the snow was probably three feet high; of course, that's not counting the snow drifts or the places Chad piled up the snow as he shoveled it (probably 5 feet high at the tallest).  The snow was a huge pain when we had to shovel it, but it did a lot of good for the garden.  It provided a lot of protection to plants and kept the ground from freezing so deeply (or at all, in some places).  Plus, I hear old timers call snow white fertilizer because of the tasty things it leaves behind as it melts.  I'm not entirely sure what it leaves behind, but I tend to believe old timers.

I've been super anxious for spring to get here.  I have lots of lovely plants in the basement going, gearing up to get planted in the next month or two:

Lettuce, coleus, petunias, and catnip.

Tomatoes, kale, onions, peppers, and unsprouted cabbage.

A close up of my tomatoes.

And a close up of my peppers!

I'm experimenting with wall-o-water type things this year.  They're a water filled ring that you put around your tomatoes (or other plants) so that you can set them out early.  The water collects and holds solar heat through the day, and then that heat keeps the plants from freezing to death at night.  I'm planning on setting the tomatoes out four weeks early, which I hope should give me a much bigger harvest!  And I figure if I kill off my tomatoes by accident, well, that's ok.  It was a fun experiment, and I can always go buy starts at a nursery. 

I bought two new blueberry bushes to put in pots last fall.  I waited until the local nursery was having a half off sale.  They were out of the bushes I had originally wanted, but by dumb luck, they had forgotten that they had a bunch of Pink Lemonade blueberry bushes in the back!  Pink Lemonade blueberries are, well, pink blueberries, and I've been wanting some of those bushes for years now.  And now I have two!  I stuck them in the old blueberry barrels with some coffee grounds and hoped for the best.  We ended up pulling them into the garage midway through winter, because we were sure they wouldn't make it with -16 degree nights.  And, as far as I can tell, they have made it.  The buds are swelling and greening up nicely! 

I bought a couple blueberries at Home Depot last week, too, to act as pollinators.  The PL blueberries are mostly self pollinating, but the tag says they do better with some friends.  So I bought one Polaris, and one Chandler.  I ended up putting them in the front of my main garden.  It's hard to see them, but they're behind the green fencing on the right in this picture.

The main garden, all ready for planting.

And here's a close up of one of the new blueberry's buds, ready to open:

I had the best batch of compost last year that I've ever had, and I got a lot, too, so the gardens got a great boost last fall.  I only had a couple of soil tests left from last year, so I only got to test a couple of my squares this spring.  But from what I can see, that compost must have been pretty awesome stuff, because it looks like I have plenty of N, P, and K to last me through a good part of the season.  Woo!

Gee, there's lots of updates, actually.  I haven't even gotten to the apple trees.

Can you see them?  They're those sticks in the green fencing.
Last year I bought two dwarf apple trees; one Goldrush, and one Liberty.  They did surprisingly well last year; I even got one little apple forming, but Chad made me pick it off.  Sigh.  But he was right.  Apparently, if you let these dwarf apples fruit too soon, they'll stop growing any taller.  Their full size is 6-8 feet, and they're currently about 5 feet, but last year they were only about 3 feet.  I think I'll probably let them fruit a little this year.  I'm excited to try my own apples! 

The exciting thing about these apples is that I'm going to try growing them completely organic, which I hear is quite a challenge.  Obviously whoever said that didn't have access to Google!  I found tons of info on the best ways to grow apples organically, and I've already started getting to work on it.  I gave them a good spray of Neem oil as a dormant oil, to kill off any overwintering bugs, and once they fruit, I'm going to bag the baby apples so worms can't get access to them.  Take that, nature!  Plus, I have an amazing micro ecosystem in my yard.  Because I use no pesticides and no artificial fertilizers, I have a lot of natural predators that keep the pest population in check. 

Hmmm... anything else?  I guess nothing major.  I guess I'll finish this post off with pictures!

Our front garden.


And one little snow drop.

My side garden with the strawberry bed (on the right).

The long box in the main garden.  That's garlic coming up.

Another view of the main garden.

Baby lupines coming up!

One of the raspberry brambles.

And our chives!
Happy spring, everyone!  Make sure to get outside whenever possible!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Real Life

I haven't really had much desire to update this blog lately.  There's a lot of Real Life going on around here; prepping this year's garden for planting, taking care of my own house plus my mom's house, all my crafty artistic pursuits, and as a special bonus, fertility testing.  My interest in the low carb/paleo community has waned a bunch, but that doesn't mean we're eating a SAD diet again.  We're just not super focused on all the latest diet news.  I do kind of miss blogging though.  It was always a fun pastime.

So let's get on with some updates, eh?  I'm sure the one thing most people want to know is how my weight and my diet are.  Well, to be blunt, they've been going badly.  I am eating well still; we're eating WAPF style with a low carb/paleo bent.  We incorporate resistant starches into our diet regularly, eat only organic foods whenever we can, we're still eating local organic grass fed beef and local raw milk, and eat mostly meat, dairy, veggies and some fruit.  I make a loaf of traditionally soured spelt bread once a week, although Chad eats most of it as sandwiches in his lunch.  In general, I don't count carbs or calories or anything; I just try to eat well.  However, my weight has been going up.  By January 2014 (while low carb/paleo, before we switched to WAPF), I had gained 10 pounds and was up to 195 or so.  By January 2015, I had gained another 5 pounds and I've been hovering between 197 and 200 since then.

No matter what I try, I can't lose the weight.  I've tried cutting out most carbs.  I've tried cutting portions.  I've tried a short stint of counting calories.  I've been exercising regularly.  I even tried increasing the amount I eat.  I've tried lots of things, given myself lots of crazy rules to follow and rewards and punishments.  However, nothing is working for me.  For the last year, I've been driving myself crazy with this weight and the fear that I'm going to keep ballooning up to the weight I started at before losing 30 pounds on a low calorie diet 5 years ago.  I'm close.  Just 15 more pounds.

And before anyone tells me what I'm doing wrong, or gives me advice about what I should try next to lose the pounds, I need to say that my main goal right now is to be at peace with my body.  For the last two weeks, my goal has simply been to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full, and try to do most of my eating at meal times.  This may sound silly and perhaps a little elementary, but the truth is that I've never really eaten this way before in my life naturally.

I've been reading an interesting book the last few days; it's called Women Afraid to Eat.  It's an older book, written in the late 90s and published in 2000, so some of the ideas in it are dated (how long has it been since someone has used the term Syndrome X?), plus it's more SAD promoting than I really would like.  However, the point the book is trying to make is that our society, with its perverse obsession with thin women, is making a lot of otherwise healthy women sick.  It talks about how many women today don't know what it's like to eat normally, to eat when hungry and stop when full, to listen to her own body.  And it describes how dieting, even for a short while, makes it hard for people to return to any kind of normal eating.

I've known for a while that my relationship with food is far from healthy.  I can't remember a time in my life that I've eaten normally.  I was a fat child who ate when bored, lonely, or sad.  I became a vegetarian at age 14, and my emotional eating only got worse.  In my mid 20s I went on a pretty long low calorie diet that helped me lose 30 pounds, but it also made me afraid of food, and I developed a nasty binge eating habit.  Even after I started eating meat and become low carb and then paleo, my emotional and binge eating never stopped.

I think the low carb and paleo communities are doing a disservice to people by not talking about this problem more.  When I was heavy into the movement, I'd read many times that eating low carb/paleo would stop people from over eating because it's so satisfying.  And this is probably true for someone who has normal eating habits to begin with, but for someone who has dysfunctional eating, it's more than just how full your belly feels.  You don't stop when you're full; you keep eating until you're in pain.  Some people eat until they throw up.  Even the low carb foods, the butter and meat and cheese, wouldn't stop me from binge eating.

I hate to say all of this because I used to agree wholeheartedly with the message the low carb/paleo folks were saying.  And I still believe that eating a natural, low carb, paleo diet is a wonderful idea and it certainly has helped me in many ways.  But now that it's been three years, and the honeymoon stage is over, I see that it's not a perfect diet.  There's no such thing as a perfect diet, one special way of eating that cures all your ailments and makes you live forever.  We're all individuals, we all have our own special strengths and weaknesses, histories and DNA, and there are many reasons why a certain way of eating might not work for everyone. 

A big part of the reason I've been shifting away from the community in general is because sometimes it feels like people are exclusively focused on weight.  Everyone's doing it to get skinny and toned, even though they say they're doing it to be healthy.  You hardly hear stories about people who go on paleo and get really healthy but remain fat.  The celebrated story was always about a very obese person who started on the diet, easily lost 250 pounds, and is now a super athlete with a well toned body and has no problem staying on the diet ever.

I never lost much weight on low carb/paleo, even when I was very strict about it.  It helped me to lose 10 pounds I'd put on during a non-low carb trip, but that's it, really.  So here I was, 185 pounds and a BMI of 29 or 30, still what most people would call fat, and not losing any weight.  I felt like a failure.  Don't get me wrong; I was feeling great and my health was definitely improving, but I was still squishy.  It was hard to let myself even blog about low carb/paleo, because I kept thinking that someone was going to expose me as a fraud.  The whole community seemed, from my eyes, weight focused; whenever one of the leaders gained weight, they were ridiculed and said to not be following their own advice.  Remember how people treated Jimmy Moore when he gained back a lot of his weight?  Or remember the comments some would make about Laura Dolson?  For that matter, remember how everyone wanted to see a picture of Carb-Sane so they could make fun of how fat she obviously was?

Tom Naughton, bless his heart, would regularly say in his blog and in the comments section, that weight is less important that health, and that's really what you should be striving for.  And of course that was a message bloggers would occasionally try to remind their readers.  But the underlying message was always that if you were fat on a low carb/paleo diet, you weren't doing it right.  I don't think everyone thought this way, but as a whole, it was very hard to escape.  It just got very tiring after a while.

So my goal now, as I said before, is to focus on being at peace with my body.  I'm eating well; veggies, eggs, meat, good fats, fruit, resistant starches, organic and free range whenever possible.  I'm trying to teach myself what it feels like to be hungry, and to listen to and respect my body when I'm full.  I'm trying to love my body the way it is right now, squishy and lumpy and flabby.  I'm also trying to stop negative speak in my head about both my own body and the bodies of other people.  I can't expect to love myself if I go around judging other people, even if it is just a knee jerk reaction learned from society's love of thin.  And I'm also trying to not get obsessed about food, weight, dieting, or eating perfectly.  The last thing I need is to feel like I somehow don't measure up, or to beat myself up if I don't eat perfectly.

That was quite the rant, wasn't it?  I didn't even get to my garden or our fertility testing.  I guess I'll have to come back and write some more later.  Let's see if I actually remember to.