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Daniel Detox – Day 9 of 10. Increased Self Control!

There have been some pleasantly surprising things that have happened these last few days. Today, the one that really got me was the increase in self control.

Now, yesterday I blogged about the temptation to binge. It had me in a serious vice until I distracted myself with trying to tackle the mountain of clean laundry that needed to be folded, hung, and put away. But I’m still not having a preoccupation with food, necessarily … I guess because there’s been a plan for each day, I haven’t had to think about it much. It also helps that it’s been really delicious stuff, so I haven’t had an unsatisfying breakfast or lunch that had me reaching for something more pleasant once the meal was over.

It struck me particularly today as I grabbed leftover stir fry to heat for lunch. I noticed that the amount in the bowl was enough for a very large portion, or for two small portions. Normally, I would just go for the large portion so that I can clear that space in the fridge and clean the bowl. This time, I opted for one of the two smaller portions, and added a scrambled egg into it. It was the perfect amount. I wasn’t full, but wasn’t left hungry. Just … satisfied.

One major thing I hoped to accomplish through these 10 days is better self-control regarding food, particularly over the anxiety binge-urges. Yesterday, I defeated that with no problem. It wasn’t has hard as I thought it would be once I got effectively distracted. I ended up with a pretty severe headache yesterday and today, but that could easily be blamed on the heavy, bad, crazy weather that’s been looming.

I wondered if the increased self-control is due to being just plain satisfied. I haven’t gotten hungry between meals very much. I also know that a good meal is planned just ahead, so I haven’t had any desire to seek out instant-gratification unhealthy snacks.

I also haven’t had the strong sugar-cravings (despite how I’ve been joking about the sweets). In all seriousness, it’s been not only manageable … it’s been practically non-existent. I struggled with craving snacks on day 3, but that’s also the day that I decided it would be a good idea to allow myself two good sweet treats per week, likely on Mondays and Fridays. May as well bracket that weekend. 😁 Friday nights are usually movie nights for Kris and me after the boys go to bed, so we usually grab a treat while watching a movie. As far as Monday … who wouldn’t need a good treat at night after Monday? It’s … well … Monday.

My next plan I’d like to set up is a fitness plan. I’ve already made a sweet-treat plan, weight loss plan, and food plan (Daniel Plan!). Now I need to get serious about fitness goals. But … that’s for another post.

We’re one more day closer to weigh-in day.

HALP.

Daniel Detox – Day 8 of 10. The Temptation to Binge

I’ll be honest … today I struggled worse than the first couple of days. Today, I was struck with a powerful urge to binge, and was so difficult to resist.

It helped me learn what drives me to the kitchen. I’ve found myself returning to the kitchen over and over, opening the cabinets, then closing them and walking away, because nothing in the pantry is on-plan. It’s been an irritating battle, that I wish would just get out of my head.

Due to a bit of anxiety today, I’ve had that overwhelming urge to chew or bite something. Gum doesn’t help for some reason. I want something to crunch, or something sweet. I’ve had something on my mind that I really, really hope works out … but I’ll have to wait until next week to know if it will work out. That has made my anxious/impatient thoughts point straight into the kitchen.

It’s weird. I wish eating something wasn’t a form of comfort for me. When I was younger, I would judge harshly people who said that. Food isn’t comfort, I thought. Food is food. Why would you turn to food for comfort? Well, I get it now.

It didn’t help that my kids’ play of choice after school included food. LOTS of food.

Maybe it’s because it’s back-to-school week, but my energy level is at a -25. And my head hurts. So, I’m keeping this short and sweet.

Sweet. Did I really just say sweet? Geez.

Daniel Detox – Day 7 of 10. Pucker Dressing

Day 7 down! All is well.

This morning around 4:30 a.m. my oldest came to my bedside and bumped the side of the mattress. He told me once that calling my name or grabbing me might startle me, so he just bumps the side of the bed until I notice. It’s the sweetest thing. When I rolled over and asked what was wrong, he said he’d had a nightmare that really freaked him out. I followed him to his room and laid with him for a few minutes so that he would feel secure enough to fall asleep.

This is the third night this week that one of my sons had a nightmare, and that’s unusual … the other night my youngest called me into his room from a bad dream. He said he dreamed he looked in the mirror, and his eyes were gone, and there were gray scratches for eye sockets. He looked at me and everyone else, and we all had gray scratches for eye sockets. I asked him if he’d seen that anywhere, in a book or on TV or anything … he said no. He’d never seen anything like that before. Creepy.

I’ve had weird dreams all week, but that’s not unusual. My dreams are usually pretty crazy. I don’t know what’s going on though, but I’ve felt unusually fatigued in the last two days, and I can’t seem to get warm. Even the boys have commented on how freezing my hands are. I’ve been anemic a few times before, and it feels similar, but I doubt there could be any anemia going on with as much greens as we’ve been eating for the last 7 days.

Can I be honest with you? I had decided to weigh the morning after the 10 days … but I’m anxious about it. I want a positive change so bad, I’m actually afraid there won’t be any improvements. With the new habits and cooking discoveries in the last week, there have been plenty of positive changes that we’ve gained from all this. However, my initial motive to do this was to kick-start a healthier eating habit, with the hopes of losing these stubborn pounds. What if I’ve gained? What if I’ve lost nothing? Just being real here … This has crossed my mind many times since day 3 or so.

For a change of scenery in our routine, we packed up and decided to head to the library for our school work. The kids love it, and oh my goodness, libraries are my #1 most favorite place to be. When my husband tells me to go somewhere and just take some time to myself, the only problem I have is deciding which library I’d like to go to. It’s so peaceful, and lovely, and all those shelves and rows of glorious books … I sigh just thinking about it. We brought our lunch, and I had a salad with dressing I whipped up from Google. My husband and I had eaten at this amazing, tiny, hole-in-the-wall BBQ place in Mississippi over a year ago, and they served me a salad with finger-licking dressing that apparently was their house specialty. It was a lemon-oil kind of dressing that was light and absolutely wonderful. I’ve been wanting to try to duplicate it, but it’s been so long now, I don’t know where to start. So I Googled “lemon salad dressing” and found an olive oil, garlic, lemon, and dijon mustard recipe that looked pretty interesting.

photo by Sarah Gualtieri

I dumped a couple tablespoons over my salad and took a bite.

My first thought was, Wow! This is really good! My second thought was, How the heck am I going to dig my lips out of my face now. Apparently with this dressing, less is more, and I added way too much. I puckered so hard, my lips practically inverted into my face. It was all I had to eat, however, so I just had to take a bite, chew, guzzle water, and pucker. Then repeat.

Tonight I cooked a chicken stir-fry that was different from the one the other night. This one had a thick sauce with broccoli and a ton of other vegetables. It only called for one piece of chicken breast, which surprised me because I had to feed four people with this recipe. But once all the other vegetables were added, the wok was full. It cooked up nicely and turned out delicious. Once again, my kids had no complaints with the meal and ate it happily. There were enough leftovers for Kris and I both to have for lunch tomorrow!

I gotta take a minute here and talk about chicken … Out of curiosity and for the sake of the detox, I decided to buy free-range chicken. I read in another health book about using grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and cage-free eggs. Could we really tell a difference in the chicken itself? Even though it cost double what I usually spent on chicken, it was worth a try.

In many ways, I wish I’d never done this, because now I don’t think I can ever go back. The free range chicken was so tender, and didn’t have that stringy, tough texture that regular chicken can sometimes. My cousin advised to just buy the smaller breasts, which is better. But when the smaller breasts aren’t available, I grab whatever is there. It just doesn’t taste good, y’all. I even told my husband that I was considering going vegetarian, because chicken in the last couple of years makes me want to gag.

This free-range chicken is no joke. It isn’t tough at all, and somehow tastes better. I swear it’s not just from the deliciousness of the recipes that we’ve been doing. It really makes a huge difference. Because I’m conscious of the cost, I don’t let any of it go to waste. Before, I had no problem throwing out leftover chicken dinner because the reheated version was usually much worse than the original. Not this time … free-range is the way to go. I haven’t tried cage-free eggs yet, but in all honesty, I’m kind of stuck on the mentality that eggs are eggs. I’d love for a cage-free committer to tell me the pros and cons.

I’ve been tracking everything in my super cute Wellness Planner, and I’ll be honest, this whole thing has been just plain fun.

Daniel Detox – Day 6 of 10. Candyland, Of Course

We’re on the second half of our journey, and I’m feeling so, so great! If anything, these last few days have shown me what I’m capable of in terms of self-control, discipline, and taking care of myself. I always made up excuses such as, “I don’t have time.” Or “I’m not sure where to start.” I can’t tell you how many diets and changes I’ve tried over the years, and I would get down to my last ten pounds, and still not be able to reach my goal. Every single effort has been torture, and I looked desperately for some kind of “ending” to it so that my life could go back to normal.

Well, this just feels normal. Because the main focus is health and not weight loss, I’m realizing why past diets and efforts have been so difficult … my goal was too weight-focused. It was a recipe for burnout. It happened every single time.

The irony continues however … today during our homeschool hours, my 3rd grader was taking a test. So I sat on the floor with my kindergardener and told him to pick a game to play off the game shelf. He went over to the shelf and scanned the boxes carefully, selected one, then came back and joined me on the floor. He placed between us Candyland.

photo by John Morgan

“Really??” I said, and the boys laughed. “Daddy and I are on a special diet, and you pick Candyland??” Oh he was so very pleased with himself.

In all seriousness, despite the fact that sweet treats keep being presented right in front of me in such an enticing way, I haven’t been tempted to cave. It’s been an eye-opener.

We took an extended lunch break as I cooked an Asparagus Creme Soup recipe. Let me just tell ya, I am in loooooove with creamy soups. It’s one of my favorite things about fall and winter. Some girls can’t wait to get out their cute boots at the first sign of fall. I can’t wait to have a good, creamy soup. So I had my heart set on this recipe. The picture looked so tasty … it was a pretty bowl of seafoam colored goodness. I noticed right away that it seemed to call for a lot more split peas than asparagus, but whatever. I’m not a chef … I’m just a mom.

I chopped and simmered that thing, running up and down the stairs from the school room to the kitchen to stir it every six minutes, like a good little rule follower. I used my immersion blender, and even though it still looked pretty chunky, I was too excited to wait any longer. I put a couple of scoops into a bowl and sat down to enjoy it.

It was a little disappointing at first … it doesn’t taste like asparagus at all. It was just the strong flavor of split peas. I like split pea soup, don’t get me wrong … it just wasn’t at all the asparagus creme I was expecting. It was still delicious, though, and filling. I had apparently undercooked it because some of the peas were still a little chewy. But overall, it was very satisfying. I’ll probably make it again.

When Kris came home from work, he reported a successful day, as well! He’d gone to a nearby store within walking distance from his building looking for healthy snacks. He had the goal of unsweetened raisins, but they were completely out. Poor guy just can’t catch a break! He looked cute though in his new clothes he got with Christmas money … anyways, it made me feel so happy when a coworker complimented him on how delicious his lunch smelled. It was the leftover stir fry from two nights ago!

We’ll be headed to church tonight so we’ll be having an early dinner of Mongolian Beef. You read that right … It’s a Daniel Plan recipe with all healthy ingredients! This time, my husband is cooking, and as I type this, I can hear him downstairs in the kitchen with the boys. Apparently they’re helping him cook, and he’s showing them how to measure the ingredients, and teaching them about how to follow a recipe.

Gosh I love that guy.

On the Daniel Plan, there are five “essentials” that the book encourages to focus on: Faith, Food, Focus, Fitness and Friends. Now that we’re halfway through our detox, I took some time to fill them out today, mindful of what comes next. I haven’t been exercising, possibly because I’ve been so focused on getting the food part of things right. I’ll share my five essentials in another post after the 10 days are compete.

Anyway, see you tomorrow on Day 7! Thanks for reading!

Daniel Detox – Day 5 of 10. Halfway Mark!

We made it through Day 5! Woo Hoo!!!

I didn’t get a chance to blog last night, so I’ll double up today … Halfway-Mark-Day was not an uneventful day, however. It was a combination of fun, fascinating, and hysterical.

We started out the day with normal homeschool work … tackling math at the top of the day. After my 3rd grader met his multiplication flash-card goal, we whooped and did a victory lap around the room. Then we headed to a local park behind my favorite library for story time/snack/craft. It was windy and chilly but so much fun, and I loved seeing the other homeschool moms and kids there.

Afterward we went to Chick Fil-A for lunch, where we placed our order with one of my new favorite people … a sweet teen named Becca who I met at church last Sunday. The boys ordered their favorites and I ordered … WATER.

That’s right folks. I went to Chick Fil-A and didn’t order ANYTHING. I’m not sure if that’s an accomplishment, or if I should question my life choices. Regardless, I’m counting it a WIN! I brought with me a kale salad that I’d made in advance, and it was quite delicious. I ate another one of those fun blueberry muffins, and watched the boys as they climbed in the indoor playground.

When my husband came home from work, he could count on both hands how many times he was faced with temptation to nibble something off-plan (dang those Reese’s Christmas Trees and Dr. Pepper!). But he held strong! He’d had a Granny Smith apple for breakfast, and had taken leftovers from the night before for lunch. He came home ravenous and ready for dinner, so I cooked early. When he asked what was on the menu, I told him spicy black bean soup.

He wrinkled up his nose.

Over the next ten minutes he asked twice, “So … tell me again what’s for dinner?”

As if I’d change my mind. HA! I’d meticulously planned and shopped for these ten days … I’m sticking to plan!

The recipe called for a jalapeno pepper and lots of garlic and tomato. My kids aren’t going to touch this, I thought. But I stayed tough. They were going to eat it, and like it!!

I remembered how well they ate the accidentally-chopped-too-fine veggies the night before, and used an immersion blender to make the chunky soup nice and creamy, incorporating all the seasonings and vegetables. It looked aaaaaamaaaaaazing. I poured it over rice (which the recipe didn’t call for, but when my husband suggested it, I couldn’t turn it down). I sprinkled cilantro on top and hoped for the best.

We sat down, everyone took their first bite, and … they liked it! They really liked it!! My heart was soaring. While eating dinner, my husband began considering his usual nightly snack. Every night, while sitting in front of the TV, he eats somekind of goodie. I doubt that’s a habit that will ever break, as he is a creature of devout habit. But he was getting tired of peanuts and apples.

“Popcorn!” He said. “I could have that, right?”

“Not on plan,” I told him. “It has oils and butter and stuff that we can’t have right now.”

He decided to drive to Dollar General and check for some kernels to make some in a pot himself with healthy oils that were on plan. He couldn’t get out the door fast enough. I gave the boys a quick bath while he was gone. He came back looking torn. “They were completely out of kernels. But they did have THIS.” He emptied the bag. He’d bought M&M’s for the boys, a HUGE bag of Reese’s Cups, and an entire sleeve of mini Almond Joys for me.

“What … what?? What is this? We can’t have this.”

“It’s for when the detox is over!” He said brightly. “Oh, and the M&M’s are for the boys.”

They’d already had sweets that day, so we covered them up and decided to save them for tomorrow. He put the Reese’s Cups and Almond Joy in the pantry, where I can clearly see them every time I open the pantry doors. I secretly think he’s trying to tempt me as much as he’s been temped with his sweets at work. I had already decided that after this Detox, my sugar will be severely limited to two treats per week … Mondays and Fridays. The fun thing, too, is that I actually haven’t really craved sweets yesterday and today. I haven’t even thought about it.

But there was still one problem … my husband still didn’t have his popcorn. I suggested he cut open a bag of microwave popcorn and clean the gunk off to pop it on the stove.

“Isn’t that a lot of work, though?” He must have been really tired, because my love-to-cook husband just wasn’t feeling it in the kitchen. He cut open a bag, anyway, and I was a little shocked.

There was more sticky, oily gunk than there were kernels. I looked at the chunk of orange slime and thought, “Every bit of that goes straight into our bodies. Wow.” It was a shocker in the moment, but knowing future me, if my husband ever asks if I’d like him to pop a bag of popcorn for me, I would likely say yes. I definitely need to re-think this.

I heated up two more muffins (I know … excessive … but at least it’s on plan), and ate those while the movie got started. Kris was still clinking and clanging around in the kitchen getting his kernels ready to pop. Suddenly I heard what sounded like sprinkles showering the floor. I looked through the window into the kitchen and saw him standing, shoulders drooped, eyes turned up to the ceiling in frustration.

“What just happened?” I asked.

He had apparently washed his hands and went to grab a hand towel to dry them. It just so happened to be the same hand towel where the freshly cleaned kernels were resting to dry. The kernels sprayed everywhere.

Bless his heart. He just wanted some dang popcorn. We laughed as we gathered up the precious golden nuggets and rinsed them off once again. He successfully popped them using grapeseed oil, and just seasoned them with salt and pepper. The result was slightly tougher popcorn than usual, but it at least satisfied the craving. When I gave it a taste, I thought it was great! It was delicious with just salt and pepper … I’ll have to start popping raw kernels when I’m wanting some popcorn, myself.

We enjoyed a fun movie together, the boys, Kris and I. Then suddenly, right toward the end, we heard a loud, sploosh! come from our master bathroom.

“What in the world?” I said, sitting up on the couch. “Was that the bathtub?”

Kris started looking around the room taking inventory of everyone. “Wait … was it the cat?” That’s when I noticed she was the only one absent. The boys must not have drained the tub when they got out, and my head suddenly filled with visions of a soggy cat struggling to keep her head above water. I jumped off the couch and ran into the bathroom to find the tub full of water, sloshing back and forth wildly. But it was empty of animals. That’s when I noticed tiny wet footprints leading out of the bathroom.

“Where did she go?” My husband asked as he appeared in the doorway. The boys were right on his heels.

“I don’t know! Follow the footprints!”

The trail of splatters and footprints led through our bedroom, through the kitchen, where my husband found her under the breakfast nook table, soaked on the bottom half of her body. She looked like a black mushroom with the top half of her body fluffy, and the bottom half like shriveled little sticks. She kicked our back feet with every step, and I couldn’t get control of my laughter. Y’all, I almost couldn’t stand up, I was laughing so hard.

My husband, obviously the softie, ran and got a towel, and despite her razor claws being out and her threatening growls, he gathered her up and dried her off.

She wasn’t even grateful for the help.

Not in the least bit.

It was an altogether successful day, and I’m SOLD on this way of eating.

Here’s the thing I find fascinating: all the chopping and cooking and planning isn’t actually that much more effort than usual. I mean, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, so I have the luxury of flexing my time around priorities, so I am able to chop and cook for lunch if I choose. But in the amount of time it takes to drive to a store and pick up a frozen pizza, then cook it, I could have chopped and cooked a fresh meal. It just takes planning in advance. Note to self: plan and shop more often, instead of in large amounts like I did … the shelf life of the produce isn’t as long as I’d anticipated, and I hate to see those beautiful peppers growing bad spots on them.

Another fascinating thing: Even too much of healthy foods are too much. With all those almond-flour muffins I’ve been consuming, I feel satisfied, but heavy and just … excessive. I can TELL it’s too much, and I should have had more moderation there. I’m still having a hard time fitting into my workout pants. I had hoped my clothes would start loosening up a tad by now. I’ve started having anxious thoughts about stepping on the scale once these 10 days are over … will there be a change at all?

Regardless, the one thing I can say that I’ve gained is knowledge and health. And that definitely grants me experience points in the great game of life. 😉

Daniel Detox – Day 4 of 10. More Reese's Christmas Trees! AGH!

We made it to the end of day 4! We had leftovers from the weekend so my husband had plenty to take to work for lunch.

Once he got there, the problems began. I received this text not long after he got to work:

A long week, indeed. 😆 I swear the little peanut butter goodies are haunting us.

It was the first day back to school for us homeschoolers. The boys were actually excited. My youngest, who is five, woke up around 7 am. He drifted to the couch in the living room where he snuggled his stuffed animals and stared into space. When he asked to play a game on my phone, I told him no, because it was a school day (a rule we established many moons ago). I enthusiastically reminded him that it was the first day back to school! Then whisked off to the kitchen to make a muffin recipe.

Noticing that he didn’t react, I watched him from the kitchen window that opens into the living room. He looked … concerned. This rarely-quiet-child was silent, and he fidgeted with the zipper on his Minecraft pj’s.

“What’s the matter, buddy?” I asked him.

“Mom,” he said, his voice crackling from sleep. “Can we keep going to homeschool?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like daddy goes to work away from our home. Do we have to go to school away from our home?” He pivoted his little head and looked at me with giant blue eyes. “Why can’t we keep going to homeschool, instead?”

“We are going to homeschool, buddy. I don’t know what you mean.”

He burst out in a grin. “Oh! When you said it was the first day back to school, I thought you meant we were going to start going to school away from our home!”

I assured him that homeschooling was still the plan. He looked relieved, and his joyful glow returned. That’s when my heart filled up to overflowing.

They love it,I thought. I had wondered, really wondered, how much they loved it. I mean, I know every day isn’t going to be blissful fun, but I don’t want them to hate it. The whole point of homeschooling them is to create an environment that encourages a love for learning. At the very thought of no longer homeschooling, Caleb looked pretty devastated.

Thank you, God.

I came back into the living room and kissed his dimpled cheeks about a dozen times before I went back to the kitchen and tackled a Daniel Plan blueberry muffin recipe. It used applesauce, no sweetener, a handful of eggs, and REAL blueberries among other interesting ingredients. No dairy (because DF means dairy free, not “Daniel Fast”, right? geez … ). No gluten. I was so excited.

When my oldest son got up, I was in the living room being silly with Caleb, who had asked about six times already when his brother would be getting up. The moment Wesley walked into the room, with glorious bedhead, narrow eyes, and a little smile, Caleb and I shouted at the same time, “YAY!!” He thought it was pretty funny that we’d practically celebrate his awakening.

While they retreated upstairs to the schoolroom to play Lego’s, I took out the muffins, and waited about ten seconds for them to cool. I was so excited about trying one, I knew I would just have to hasafashafsas till I could chew it.

I had high hopes, after all the other recipes that came out so delicious. My hopes were immediately dashed. HARD. First of all, the thing wasn’t even sweet. That applesauce did nothing. The almond flour gave it the texture of cornbread. The best part was the gooey blueberries, and I didn’t have to bake up a muffin to eat those!

Regardless, I was hungry. So I grabbed another one. I crumbled it out into a bowl and grabbed the applesauce, dumping out a generous amount on top. May as well. I jabbed a forkful into my mouth and … oh … my … goodness. It was delicious. It suddenly turned into a fresh, warm cobbler in my bowl.

I proceeded to eat three more throughout the day. (… and yet I have the audacity to wonder how I packed on ten pounds in two months in the first place).

In my last post I’d mentioned that I wondered if I would get the typical 2:00 pm homeschool droop in energy, considering the odd abundance of energy I’d had in the last couple of days. I actually didn’t get the 2 pm droop! I got the 3 pm droop, instead.

Oh well.

When Kris came home from work, he said, “Do you understand how difficult it is to sit with a box of Dr. Peppers at your feet, and spotting those dang Christmas Trees every time you opened your desk drawer??” I laughed and turned away. A few seconds later, I caught a massive whiff of chocolate. I turned, ready to bite into wherever it was coming from.

Kris stood next to me clutching a Hershey’s chocolate syrup bottle, the cap flipped open, and was blowing the scent into my face.

“You … yooouuu!” I said, slamming my fists onto my hips as all decent words left my vocabulary.

Kris trotted away, laughing, and said, “Now you know what it’s like!”

“Evil,” I said, trying to hide my smile. “Pure evil.”

Day 4 is done, and a success. Tomorrow will be the halfway mark. YAY!!

I learned another unexpected thing today:

My kids will eat vegetables as long as they are chopped finely enough.

Tonight for dinner we had a Daniel Plan recipe for Thai-inspired stir-fry. As I sauteed the veggies and chicken in a wok, I told Kris that I was expecting to be disappointed with this recipe. The only seasoning was soy sauce. No other flavors added.

He came into the kitchen and inspected the wok, stirring the contents. “It doesn’t need any seasoning when it has all this! Look at all the color. With a mixture of these vegetables, you won’t need any seasoning.”

I was worried how it would turn out, because I went a little overboard with my little chopper … it’s a small, enclosed plastic jar-like thing with three *very* sharp blades on the inside. You drop the vegetables in, close the lid, and pull a string much like a lawn mower to chop the stuff into bits. I had too much fun cranking the veggie mower, and nearly pulverized to a liquid all the vegetables. It turned out to be a good thing.

I tossed it over rice and served it to the kids, just knowing they would complain (they hate every vegetable except broccoli, and they only tolerate very little). To my shock, they loved it! They ate up their little bowl fulls, gave me a thumbs up, and GET THIS … ASKED ME TO COOK IT MORE OFTEN.

Gimme a second while I wipe my tears … I have … sudden allergies or something …

Daniel Detox – Day 3 of 10. Craving SNACKS!

Yesterday I posted about having some soreness in my knees and fingers. I felt it in my spine, too, and was pretty sore by the time I got into bed last night. I woke up with most of the soreness and all of the stiffness gone! I feel great, actually. My husband and I talked about how we both feel lighter. He said he felt he’d lost a couple of pounds already, and that’s when he said, “I probably should have weighed before we started this.”

What?? Oh well. He’s already a lean guy … I’m sure he’ll be pleased with whatever the results are.

I personally feel lighter, and not icky at all. Instead of feeling like I have sludge working through my veins like I did around the holidays from all the rich foods, I feel … just … healthier. It’s weird. But I like it.

The biggest hangup for today is craving sweet snacks … I mean, we’ve only gone three days without sweets. How are we craving them so badly? It’s not like we gobble candy every single day … we probably only have a sweet treat every few days, anyway. I guess it’s just a matter of craving what you can’t have.

We’re seeing sweets everywhere, in everything.

We went to church this morning, and I skipped on my usual coffee from the little machine in the foyer. I usually add sugar and cream as a treat … normally I put stevia and half-and-half in my coffee to cut down on the sugar. It didn’t take much willpower to ignore it altogether, because I was in a rush to get to the 4th grade classroom where I was asked to be a sub at the last minute for their sick teacher. Wouldn’t you know … the lesson was about Saul, who encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus, and he was blinded. We learned that Damascus is the capital of Syria, and a typical Syrian food is pita bread and hummus. The kids were given a snack of pita chips, the cinnamon and sugar kind. CINNAMON AND SUGAR, y’all. Then when the lesson was over, the kids got a single item from the treasure box … every one of them except my own son picked a piece of candy. One girl even held hers up and said, “These two are stuck together … can I just have both?” They were jolly ranchers. My mouth watered. I had to swallow twice before answering with a weak yes.

When my husband and I picked up our younger son from his class, he ran up to Kris with a half-eaten doughnut and said, “Here! Hold this! I’ll finish it in a minute!” Kris gave me the side-eye, clenched his jaws and flared his nostrils. Obviously, he really wanted to stuff the thing into his mouth right then and there.

After church, my mother-in-law took the kids to Jack’s while Kris and I headed home to cook lunch. We had fun in the kitchen together, following recipes and making some lemon herb chicken breast with herb roasted baby potatoes and cauliflower. While it cooked, we turned on the XBOX One, like all good, mature parents, and played our sons’ Lego Worlds game. And like all good, mature parents, we continued to play even after our kids got home. They were in agony for a good twenty minutes watching us play their game.

I took a nice, long nap like I often do on Sunday afternoons, and woke up with a craving.

Reese’s Christmas Trees.

I came into the living room and announced to Kris that I had to have some Christmas Trees. Or else I would die. He snarled at me for throwing the wrapper to a Reese’s Christmas Tree in the bathroom trash can, where it just sat on top of the tossed tissues, taunting him.

“Did you notice that we still have a bag of Hershey’s kisses on the top of the fridge?” Kris said. ” I could really use some chocolate too right now … Can I not have ice cream?”

No. We vowed not to cave. Just a few more days … we can make it.

He chewed on some peanuts and swallowed them with resentment. I fixed myself a kale salad (which is quite tasty … but didn’t satisfy like chocolate).

We did discuss what our first “treat” would be after the 10 days. His pick is ice cream, and mine is a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. We talked about limiting treats like that to twice per week from now on, that way it stays in moderation where it belongs.

After the boys went to bed, Kris and I continued our good, mature parenting and turned Lego Worlds back on. Wouldn’t you know … at the start of the game, it dropped my character right in the middle of a decadent Candy Land, with massive lollipops, overturned ice cream cones, mountains of whipped cream and rivers of pink liquid. There were gingerbread houses thick with icing on top, and gingerbread men running around with pies in their hands. There were even chocolate hills.

I ran out of the Candy Land, mouth watering, and into a murky swamp.

Tomorrow is our first day back to school, and I can’t wait. I feel fresh and energized. Which leads me to mention two more unexpected things:

One, I’ve had an abundance of energy. Every single diet, and I mean every single one, resulted in massive brain fog, severe fatigue, and deep, annoying hunger. I homeschool my kids, y’all. The LAST thing I need is brain fog and fatigue. That’s a big reason why every diet attempt I’ve made for the last several months have resulted in a big fat failure. I absolutely will not sacrifice my own mental clarity and energy levels, which ultimately sabotages a good school day for us. This has been different, though. I haven’t had a single bit of brain fog. I joke about craving sweets, but otherwise haven’t been ravenously hungry like before. Every diet attempt before resulted in me heading straight to the kitchen and bingeing for an hour just to make the brain fog and fatigue stop. I haven’t felt compelled to do that a single time.

Two, I’ve kept a cleaner kitchen. I know this sounds crazy, but for some reason, all this extra effort I’ve put into cooking nutritious stuff has also led to disciplined kitchen-duty on my part. All the chopping and cooking leads to a massive amount of dirty dishes, so I’ve been running two loads of dishes per day. Oddly, it hasn’t been daunting. On the contrary, I’ve somehow kept a cleaner kitchen as a result.

I can’t wait to see what Day 4 brings, and I especially can’t wait to see whether or not I get that 2:00 post-school droop in energy.

Daniel Detox – Day 2 of 10: What I Did Not Expect

We made it to day 2 of our Daniel Detox. My hunky husband is struggling … he just walked to the cabinet looking for a snack, grabbed a jar of peanut butter and murmured, “What? Peanut butter has sugar?” He shoved it back onto the shelf and picked up the jar of Nutella. “This has sugar too? Geez.” He slammed the cabinet closed and walked away with some dry roasted peanuts, looking very disappointed. He mentioned earlier today that he could really use a bowl of ice cream, then groaned in agony when our son walked into the living room with a package of Oreos.

I just laughed. He rolled his eyes and said in a mocking tone, “‘Do the detox with me’, she said. ‘It’ll be great!’ she said.”

With all his joking around aside, I’m grateful. It’s really been fun to have someone do something like this with me … he cares enough about my health frustrations and believes in me so much that he’s not only cheering me on, but participating with me.

I didn’t feel the loss of sweets until I was cleaning up our bedroom and found this hiding on the floor in a corner …

Y’all don’t understand … these things are my WEAKNESS. They are chocolate-covered temptations in a deceptive little wrapper. I totally stole three of them … THREE … from my children after gifting it to them in their stocking. And that was AFTER I’d already eaten my own share.

Anyways …

It was nothing but leftovers today … steak fajitas marinated in lava for lunch. It was just as hot as it was yesterday! Lettuce wraps for dinner. I don’t recall ever intentionally trying kale before, so I made a kale salad with fresh dressing, a recipe I found in The Daniel Plan Cookbook. I took one bite and nearly dropped the bowl … it was divine. Incredible. Mouth-watering. I asked Kris to try some, and he had to swallow fast before he spit it out. To him, it was awful. He’s also not ventured very far from the classic Caesar or Ranch salads. But hey, at least he eats salads!

Two things I didn’t expect: One, I woke up this morning with sore joints. My fingers, spine and knees to be specific. When I’ve had a gluten exposure, the inflammation makes my joints swell up within hours, and it lasts for many more hours, but I usually feel it in my fingers and hips (oddly) more than anything else (the other symptom being that it feels like I’m digesting shards of glass through my intestines). This feels different … almost like a sensation of retaining water or something. I’ve been drinking a TON (trust me, I’ve been tracking it in my handy-dandy Wellness Planer I got from Aldi for $7, cha-ching!).

This is the photo I took and sent to my sister when I bought the planner, on a VERY rainy day. 😀

I read that it’s a normal symptom of detoxing. So … maybe it’ll be better tomorrow. I’m just going to keep drankin’ and eating amazing foods!

Two, I don’t hate all the food prepping and cooking. Anyone who knows me, knows that cooking is a chore to me. It’s just one more thing I need to take care of in the day. That inevitable 5:00 pm question of “What’s for dinner?” makes me need to take slow, deep breaths because my answer is usually, “I haven’t even thought about it.” Even when I’m on top of meal planning, it’s still something I dread. I don’t even know why.

My husband can get into the kitchen and spend an hour cooking an incredible meal from scratch and enjoys every bit of the chopping and sauteing. I, on the other hand, feel irritated as I pop a jar of spaghetti sauce and dump in into a pan.

This has been different, though. I’ve so very much enjoyed the freshness, the colors and textures. So far, every meal has been worth every minute, and every ounce of energy. It’s so satisfying to know that the meal that’s being served is a healthy one.

Because I’d already knocked 0ut caffeine from my daily routine, the lack of it hasn’t been a problem … but I do very much miss the taste of coffee. After Day 10, the first thing I plan to do is sip and savor a glorious cup of joe.

I’m going to bed now to rest my sore knees. See ya tomorrow on Day 3.

Daniel Detox – Day 1 of 10. I think I got it wrong …

Day 1 of 10 for the Detox part of the Daniel Plan that I’m taking on!

In a recent post called What the Weight? I talked about how I’ve gained nearly 10 pounds in the last month or two. I worked so hard … or THOUGHT I was working hard … to lose weight for two years. I start an exercise program, burn out, and quit. I start an eating plan, see no changes whatsoever, then quit. Or I flat out FORGET that I’m on a diet, and crash it. Or I get rebellious against it, raise my fist to the sky, and declare “Down with deprivation!” around a mouthful of chocolate.

The 10-pound gain was frustrating because it takes forever to just drop a couple of pounds … then this happens in such a short amount of time.

Honestly, it freaked me out.

Because I’m a Bible gal, I decided to see what the Bible says about physical health. I mean, we search it for every other bit of wisdom … can we not use it for the wisdom of our physical well-being? Of course, the first “health” story that popped up was the one about Daniel.

The book of Daniel was written by Daniel himself to the exiled Jews of that day. When Babylon had been taken over by a pagan king, the king had several of the best-looking locals brought into his kingdom to be brainwashed and tasked to serve the palace. Daniel and his three friends were among them. When the king brought to them rich foods that are meant to be indulged in worship of their false gods, Daniel refused, and asked that he not be forced to defile his body. To prove his point, he asked to be fed only vegetables and water, and to be tested against the others after 10 days. When the 10 days were over, Daniel was found to be “fatter” (which just meant “healthier” back then) and in better shape mentally and physically than the others.

This has inspired a whole slew of Daniel-inspired diet plans and fasts, including The Daniel Plan by well-known pastor Rick Warren. I made a trek to the library and borrowed the book and read it cover-to-cover.

I was thoroughly confused.

Apparently, the Daniel Plan has two parts … the Detox and the actual Plan. As I read the book I kept waiting for it to explain exactly what the difference is … and it was pretty vague. The chapter dedicated to the Detox only says simply to avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar and sweeteners in all forms, dairy in all forms, stimulants and sedatives (think alcohol and caffeine), processed/fast foods, and gluten in all forms.

I had assumed that it would mean a completely vegan diet for 10 days … because Daniel literally only ate vegetables and water. But when I read through the suggested Detox menu, i saw things like lamb, ground turkey, chicken and fish.

Wha … what??

So I guess it’s called The Daniel Plan because it is simply inspired by wholesome eating, avoiding the rich, unhealthy, fattening foods around you, just as Daniel did.

In a way.

Whatever. I decided to give it a go. After all, I had also borrowed a copy of The Daniel Plan Cookbook and the recipes looked incredible … and GET THIS. I even talked my husband into doing the 10-day detox with me!! He’s never done anything like this before. Never dieted. He’s never struggled with weight. He’s lean and naturally athletic. He eats ice cream and M&M’s nearly every night before bed and never. gains. a. pound. He does have pretty horrific acid reflux due to an apparently useless esophageal sphincter that he’s had since birth. He thought it would be a good idea to do the detox with me and maybe it’ll help pinpoint what makes his reflux flare.

photo by Heather Ford

So. On Day One … we bailed.

I had made too many plans for the day and hadn’t had a chance to compile a grocery list based on the food items I’d planned. In The Daniel Plan book, the recipes had a “D” next to the meals that were detox-friendly. In the cookbook, it was amazing to see a GF or a DF in most of the menu items. I chose all GF (which means Gluten-Free, as I have a gluten intolerance) and DF items (which I thought meant Daniel Fast). When I finally made my list, I headed to the grocery store and had a blast. Most of the items were found at Aldi, and I filled in the remaining ones from Wal-Mart and Publix (because apparently Publix is the ONLY place around here that has gluten-free soy sauce now … ugh.)

On New Day One, I talked over the menu plan with my husband. Then it suddenly dawned on me. DF doesn’t mean Daniel Fast … it means Dairy Free.

So now I had all these groceries, all these meals planned … and I wasn’t even sure I’d planned the Detox correctly. WHAT IN THE WORLD.

I quickly went back through every single recipe and realized that they all seem to be compatible to the Detox except for one that called for raw honey … so, Day One was still a go.

We decided to tackle a really labor-intensive meal for lunch on Day One. We were pretty hungry, because we’d both skipped breakfast. We decided on a recipe called Kicking and Screaming Steak Fajitas. It called for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I didn’t recall ever having eaten chipotle before, so this should be interesting. And this should be EXCELLENT for acid reflux, hee hee.

My sinuses caught on fire as I made the marinate mixture, and after a while, my husband wandered into the kitchen (prompted by his growling stomach) and began helping me. While cooking the meat, we both were wiping our watering eyes and laughed at how bloodshot they were. We sat down and took the first bite …

And we both went scrambling for our glasses of water, coughing into it as we gulped. We wiped our eyes, being careful not to get the lava into our eyeballs, laughed and said, “Wow, that’s really good.” We ate some more.

It was incredible. Amazing. Delicious. Filling. We had enough for two more meals when we were finished! Amazingly, it didn’t trigger Kris’s acid reflux at all … not in the least. For dinner that night we had lettuce wraps which were excellent. Decadent. Satisfying.

Oh man, I could eat like this every day.

Wait a minute … I am!!! For ten whole days!! Wow … this 10-day detox is going to be really, really great.

Quitting Social Media … Again

I just did it.

I just deactivated my social media accounts and deleted the apps. Again.

I’ve done it before and talked about it this post, where I shared about how a 3-week social media fast turned into 6, and it restored peace into my life.

When I activated my accounts again, I kept the social media at arm’s length, until recently. In my overwhelm from the holidays, I found myself scrolling through newsfeeds, wasting time that could have been better invested. It made me question why I went back to social media at all.

I had no answer for that.

photo by NeONBRAND

It still doesn’t add any enrichment to my life. Although I enjoyed seeing my friends’ Christmas posts and pictures, it wasn’t anything they couldn’t have told me about in person.

The one and only reason I had been keeping it for the past few weeks is because … How will I be able to tell people about the podcast without postimg about the new episodes? The number of plays were quadrupled when posted on social media, vs. when they aren’t.

I still can’t justify it.

There has to be another way to spread the word about the podcast without it sucking the joy out of me.

For many people social media is a pleasure outlet. Something they enjoy. For me, it becomes a Focus Leech. And trust me when I say, I need every brain cell working in my favor right now. 😆

Here’s to discarding old habits, and taking on fresh new ones!