Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My latest thinking

I mentioned that I fell off the no-sugar-for-a-year wagon—which sounds like a really lame thing to do in NOVEMBER, for crying out loud, when I've almost made it—but I don't think it's really all that tragic. Because I'm constantly reading about nutrition, my views on what I should eat and what I want to eat have been gradually evolving for a long time now, and I no longer think that avoiding sugar like the plague needs to be my priority. (New Life Plan alert!)

See, I read something really compelling a few months ago (and I wish I could find the link) about how severe and widespread the body's inflammatory reaction to gluten can be, and how it can actually last for long as six months after exposure. And I realized that, while I've really cut back on gluten—and given it up completely for as long as 30 days—I'd never actually been gluten-free for a significant amount of time.

As of now it's probably been a month and a half since I last had gluten, which I think is the longest I've ever gone. I still avoid all the other things I was already avoiding (soy, dairy, eggs, sugar, legumes, grains, vegetable oils) but not strictly. Mostly, I just have no desire for any of it. But it seems one "totally off-limits" food is enough for me.

Guess what, though? I'm starting to notice some new differences in my life. For one, I feel like I've lost some more weight, which is always welcome (you know, up to a point). But, two, my mood has improved. You probably all know I'm generally happy and easy-going and in no way prone to moodiness or depression. But lately I've been feeling much better than easy-going and not depressed. I've had moments—lots of them—of pure, dance-around-the-house-for-no-other-reason-than-the-joy-of-being-alive happiness. (And this, by the way, is despite sitting in my office for 12 hours a day and basically never seeing the sun.)

Long story short: I don't really miss pizza.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Figured it out

I stumbled across my marathon race report from 2009 yesterday (it's a note on my Facebook wall), and something timely caught my attention: Despite being nervous and having to get up at 4 a.m., I slept really well the night before the race. According to what I wrote, I was able to achieve this by VISUALIZING sleeping really well (along with other good things) in the week leading up to the event.

Oh, of course! I used the exact same trick to get through the Ironman—remember how I wrote a fake race report ahead of time describing how I hoped things would go as if they had really happened? I can't believe I'd already forgotten about the amazing power of visualization.

Only…can't use my new power for 5:15 yoga tomorrow, because I have to be at my desk by 6. Want to know what I'm visualizing now? Not working for Grumpy anymore.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sleep vs. yoga

The good yoga classes keep vanishing from my gym and being replaced by things like "HardCORE" (45 minutes of core work, if you can believe it) and "Chisel Barre" (60 minutes of pretending to be a ballerina). People must like these classes or they wouldn't exist, but I'm getting concerned. There is only one yoga instructor remaining whom I really like (and luckily I really, REALLY like her), but she teaches just four classes a week, and two of them are at 5:15 in the morning.

Sleep is vitally important to me, so it really says something about how much I am loving yoga right now that I am seriously considering getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning just to do a little more of it. Actually, I've already started trying to get to these early morning classes, but what always happens is that I go to bed at 8:30 or so and then can't sleep because I'm so stressed about the alarm going off early.

On a day when I didn't have to get up for anything, I guarantee you I would be able to fall asleep at 8:30, no problem. (As a matter of fact, I did it last night and then slept for 11 hours straight. That was sweet.) So how to trick my brain into not stressing about the stupid alarm?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recipe: Coconut oil chocolates

I have another recipe for you, except it's not so much a recipe as a general formula, because you can do these in tons of different ways that would all be delicious. I made these several times around Halloween so I'd have something candy-like to soothe the pain of not being able to eat real candy—but that plan backfired, because they turned out to be a candy gateway, and I totally fell off the no-refined-sugar wagon.

So, nutritionally, these are much better than candy, but trust me when I tell you that your brain really won't know the difference. Don't make them if they're only going to launch you into a sugar death spiral.

Here's the basic formula:
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 T maple syrup
Just stir together, pour into molds (or an ice cube tray), and freeze or refrigerate to harden.

And here's my favored variation:
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 T maple syrup
2 T almond butter
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
Stir together and pour into molds FILLED WITH SALTED NUTS. Freeze or refrigerate to harden.

Mix these with whatever you like. Coconut milk? Mint extract? Dried fruit? Coconut flakes? Bananas? Grasshoppers? Don't look at me. I'm trying to stay away from the things.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shampoo is a LIE, the thrilling conclusion

I've been wanting to tell you the story of how I finally figured out to get my hair looking good, feeling good, not a hassle, and chemical free ALL AT THE SAME TIME, but I was wondering if that seemed too hypocritical after my little anti-vanity rant the other day. Then I realized why this is different: Hair is totally ornamental, and I've never claimed otherwise. And, anyway, this info is TheBombDotMom, so it's clearly within my mission statement to share it with the world.

So at my last hair update, I was washing it every few days with baking soda and rinsing it with vinegar. I liked this method overall and recommended it to people, but there were some downsides, too:


  1. No more frizzy hair (this one is huge).
  2. No more buying expensive crap for your hair (also nice).
  3. No more nasty chemicals soaking in through your skin (made me feel good about myself at least).
  4. No plastic waste (which is getting more important to me all the time).


  1. It was a moderate pain in the neck to mix the baking soda and vinegar solutions and drag them into the shower with me.
  2. The lack of suds feels really weird.
  3. Vinegar smells like vinegar.
  4. Even though my hair looked good, the texture varied a lot, from dry to downright sticky, and I couldn't seem to figure out how to keep it at a happy medium.
  5. I started seeing articles that said this "no-poo" method was actually damaging to hair over the long term because it takes the pH level quickly from one extreme to another.
  6. I despise the term "no-poo."
I started wondering if the whole thing was an elaborate marketing scheme designed to get me to start buying expensive natural shampoos (because, having seen that there was a better way, I most definitely didn't want to go back to my Pantene-and-Frizz-Ease days). And I did switch to an expensive natural shampoo for a short time, but the stuff looked and felt like mud—because it basically was mud—and it solved only some of my problems.

The one nice thing about all this messing-about with my hair was that over time, by gradually going longer and longer between washings, I trained my scalp not to produce so much oil. So whatever hair-washing method I chose, I had to do it only about once a week. (The rest of the time I would just rinse my hair with water or skip it altogether.)

When it was time to reorder my expensive natural shampoo, I just couldn't bear to spend the money, and I started looking for a better option. I stumbled on the term "shampoo bar" and started doing some more research. They were relatively cheap, so I figured I couldn't really go wrong, and I ordered two from this company. It is the perfect solution! No chemicals, no plastics, sudsy, pleasant-smelling…and my hair looks better than it ever has. It's shiny and bouncy, it's soft, and there's zero frizz (this is still huge). I wash it only when I feel like I really need to, which right now is every eight or nine days. I've had a $7 shampoo bar in the shower for several months now and haven't even begun to use it up.

I'm not kidding when I tell you I believe shampoo is a lie. Its whole purpose is to strip your hair's natural protection so that your scalp responds by overproducing oil and you have to keep using the shampoo every day. Oh, and you have to buy conditioners, styling gels, anti-frizz serums, and a bunch of other crap to keep your hair under control because, before it gets all greasy and gross overnight, it's so dry.

I should have written about this a month ago, but to be honest with you, once I got this figured out, I forgot all about my hair. It does its thing all by itself, and I'm at peace with it for the first time I can remember.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The stupidest week

Ever had a nightmare where you work and work and work at something incredibly urgent and important and it all falls to pieces? That was me most of last week. I'm not complaining here about being overworked. I'm complaining because there were technical difficulties at every turn that made HOURS AND HOURS of my work—and a few hours of other people's work—completely pointless. So it's really no exaggeration to call the whole process a nightmare, except that at some point of course it did end and I got to send out an invoice for about a million dollars.

I thought about literally sending an invoice for a million dollars, but I'm guessing my client wouldn't actually have found that as funny as I did at the time.

The good news is that I didn't experience the whole empty-shell phenomenon after finishing up, maybe because it was just five or six intense days, rather than a solid month, of doing nothing but work. I took about half a day to recover and feel sorry for myself and take a long bath, and then I got right back into the swing of doing a reasonable amount of work, cooking, cleaning, reading, memorizing Romans, and just generally rejoining the family.

M.H. is relieved. He's doing NaNoWriMo and says it's his turn to declare a work emergency and make me take care of the household.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Today I overheard an 11-year-old girl—one I know to have a very high-strung, appearance-obsessed mother—complaining that her teeth were too small.

Maybe I'm overreacting in my assessment that this is yet another symptom of a gender gone mad, but hey: Enough is enough, you lunatics. Teeth are not ornamental. If you have the ability to chew food, then your teeth are a perfectly fine size.

The same exact message applies to anyone who's ever tried to tell me that lifting weights might make me "bulky." If "bulky" is what happens when I am strong and functioning well, then so be it. Arms and legs are not ornamental either.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tea emergency

M.H. opened a cabinet the other day and remarked, "You're getting pretty low on tea." Here's what that fearful state looks like, for me:

Time to buy more!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Romans emergency

The seven of us who have hung on and are still memorizing the book of Romans were dismayed this morning when our pastor covered all of Chapter 14, plus some of Chapter 15, in one big bite and is therefore now preaching ahead of what we have memorized. (If it seems like I have been memorizing Romans forever, you would be correct. We're approaching the two-year point. And this is one seriously in-depth sermon series.)

The rallying cry now is we have to hurry! Memorize as much of Chapter 15 as you possibly can by Tuesday! And I am feeling doomed, because next week looks to be the busiest work week I have ever had—or will ever have, if I can help it—and I don't know if I can muster the mental strength to memorize anything at all. Especially since I don't think these last two chapters are as meaty and interesting as some of what we've done already—but you never know. Sometimes memorizing something changes my mind about it.

Incidentally, I had several problems with the pastor's interpretation of Chapter 14 today, but seeing as it contains teachings on the appropriate way to deal with "disputable matters," I think I'll just appreciate the irony and let that one go.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Recipe: Paleo chocolate granola bars

I hadn't really thought to share this recipe until my sister-in-law asked for it, but it is really good! This is a Paleo "granola bar" made out of nuts and dates, and it's a recipe I've tweaked and adapted over the course of a year or so to suit our preferences. Dex in particular loves them and gets one in his lunchbox every day.

Around here (but certainly not in front of our teenage friends) we call them "thingamabobbers," because they kind of resemble a Watchamacallit candy bar.


Grind to a coarse, granola-like texture in a food processor:
1 cup cashews
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
10 pitted Medjool dates

Microwave for 1 minute in a glass measuring cup:
1/2 cup almond butter
2 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste, optional)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (or to taste, optional)

Grease a small baking pan (the size is not too critical) with coconut oil. Stir the warm chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir the granola and the chocolate mixture together in another bowl, and then spread this mixture into the prepared pan with the back of a spoon. Freeze until firm enough to cut into bars. I wrap each individual bar in foil and store them in the freezer for lunches. They are best eaten frozen!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween with the scary inlaws

I went through a phase of not liking Halloween, but I think I'm mostly over it now. A lot of things about it do bug me, though, particularly the absolute fixation on candy—and the "Aw, let them have as much as they want! They're kids! It's a holiday!" attitude, which I want to write a treatise on but won't. Today.

My sister-in-law and her family have been visiting us from Denver during the week of Halloween the past few years, and we've been hosting big family gatherings where they and their young-enough-to-trick-or-treat kids have been the guests of honor. I can definitely get behind hanging out with relatives, eating, playing games, excited kids, laughing, and answering the doorbell a lot. Fun night.

Mik decided at the last minute to go trick-or-treating with his cousins, and here was his costume:

Did you figure it out? Here's a hint:

Funny how his Doctor costume looks exactly like the clothes he picked out to wear to band concerts.