Our Newest Nugget

For the past two weeks we’ve been taking care of our newest foster puppy. She is a pit bull/terrier/lab mix who is about 8 months old. She has been a handful at times as she is still full of puppy energy. We are working on teaching her basic obedience, proper leash walking technique, and building her confidence. She has brought us both stress and joy. She has definitely helped me keep my exercise goals. We have traveled many miles already.


I’m glad that she doesn’t let me have my excuses. Cold, warm, windy, or tired we still get outside for that walk. I’ve enjoyed all the lovely walks. We’ve gone hiking in the hills, on the shore of a lake, around the city parks in town, and in the local neighborhood.

Scenic perfection

With that kick in the pants to get out and move comes a natural balance with food, more cooking less going out. I’ve also made a habit tracker to eat as much as the pcos and fertility friendly foods as I can.

Creamy wild rice soup, acorn squash, and pumpkin spice oatmeal 😍
Tried fresh pomegranate for the first time and it was wonderful! Not too sweet not too tart but just right 🙂
Vegan instant pot chili…no complaints here!
For more information on adopting Anna go to www.marshmallowfoundation.org and if you don’t live in this area be sure to check out your local animal shelter!

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A Mother’s Love

*Trigger Post*

I had mentioned in another post not long ago how fall is an exciting time in my life but October is a hard month for many others. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have quite a few family members and friends that sadly know all too well what this means. For them October can be a somber month. For those of us lucky enough to have not experienced this pain we need to be aware of how sensitive this issue is and how important it is to remember all those angels lost. I was recently tagged in a Facebook comment on a meme that was meant to be funny but really missed the mark and was really insensitive. It really bothered me that I was tagged in it but as I had come to find out you cannot remove yourself from a tagged comment.

Some people will also comment to those that have lost a child, “well at least you still have your other child”. But children are not replaceable. You can have love for more than one person and child in your heart but just because you still have one or more other children doesn’t mean that the one(s) you lost don’t matter. Just because you may not have had a chance to hold your child in your arms doesn’t mean that it wasn’t your child. A mother’s love (and a father’s too) doesn’t require a certain number of birthdays. It is deep and pure and nothing compares to it. So please don’t minimalize someone’s loss “because they weren’t born”. Be aware that many of the people you know even if they haven’t talked to you personally about it have suffered these losses. Be mindful of what you say and what you post….other’s are seeing it and are affected by it.

So if you have time say an extra prayer for those that walk this path; it’s not an easy one.


Starchivore

We’ve had a lot of questions lately about what we can and cannot eat. We actually bounce back and forth between two “diets” which is why I think it is confusing for others. We are supposed to be on a whole food plant based diet which means no animal products, no oil, and no overly processed foods. It is a starch based diet not just “carbs”. Starches are things like brown rice, potatoes, squash, corn, peas, and whole wheat pastas. Carbs can be anything from white pasta, white bread, to cakes and cookies. The McDougall starch diet is also low in fat and has zero oil. The only fats allowed are ones that occur naturally like in nuts, nut butters, avocados, etc. Oil added to anything even marinara sauce, vegetable stock, almond milks, and most store bought hummus are not allowed. 

A comment was made recently to us about cheating. “You’ve worked so hard have a burger as a treat just this once.” Well for one thing we go away from the house for special events a large portion of the month. Yes I haven’t seen this particular family member or friend in a long time but you all come and go in our lives often enough that just this once would end up being all the time. Secondly we do cheat! I’m not advocating for it as I know our progress would be much better if we were stricter but that’s the truth. We just don’t cheat all the way. When we cheat our goal is to keep it vegan and the only stipulation to being vegan is no animal products and as we have found these foods to be the biggest issues we’ve had with our bodies that is why we don’t cheat all the way.

Below are a mix of Dr. McDougall compliant whole food plant based meals and our cheating meals the meals we eat when we are with friends and family or out to eat at a restaurant.

Whole food plant based- pad cashew veggie with an oil free sauce over basmati rice.
Vegan-carrot cake 🎂
Whole food plant based- whole wheat spaghetti with homemade oil free sauce and our favorite mushroom/walnut “wheat balls”. Vegan- white bread with vegan butter.
Whole food plant based- creamy wild rice soup (it was “amazballs” according to the hubby).
Vegan- yummy take out one night from the vegan restaurant: orange chick’n brown rice bowl. I don’t know what their chick’n is made out of but I could eat it all day everyday. I never ever miss chicken because I have this when I’m craving that crunch. I don’t like most fake meats but this is on a whole other level!
Whole food plant based- tofu scramble with mushrooms, peppers, and onions with sprouted whole wheat oil free bread, whole fruit jam no added sugars, oil free hash browns, and a little ketchup. I have really enjoyed tofu in many dishes but I was a scrambled egg junky “back in the day” so this tofu scramble didn’t do it for me but who knows with time maybe I’ll warm up to it.
Whole food plant based- mashed potatoes, corn, and oil free roasted asparagus. Vegan-white bread (we had a bunch left over from the Italian night we were going to host that got canceled.
Whole food plant based- marinated roasted Brussels sprouts.
Whole food plant based- veggies yo.
Whole food plant based- steel cut oats with coconut sugar, flax seed, and raisins.
Vegan- we’ve had two weddings this year and got super lucky to find a lot of vegan items available. It was all made with a lot of oil so even though it’s a lot of veggies it doesn’t count as McDougall. These rosemary roasted potatoes were off the charts good!
Vegan- white bread, white pasta, butternut squash ravioli….not much color in this picture.
Whole food plant based- easiest meal to make: instant pot mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.

In conclusion don’t feel bad for us if we don’t eat the hot dogs and pizza . We are already having a delicious naughty alternative like potato chips or French fries and that is plenty of cheating already. 

The Colors Of Fall

The crickets have stopped chirping and the sounds of crunchy leaves falling have filled the air. The mornings are crisp and cool. And the afternoons are golden and warm. 

 


I love living in a climate with all four seasons. Yes, I do wish that winter wasn’t the longest of them but I don’t think I’d want to live in a warm climate all year long. Fall for me, always reminds me of falling in love. M and I wrote friendship letters while he was away at basic training camp in Georgian the fall of 2007 but if you look back and reread those letters you can tell that we were crazy about each other. He would call me every single night from a buddy’s phone to tell me about his day and ask about mine. But after AIT when he moved to Korea we drifted apart. We both had very different separate lives happening at literally opposite times of the day. But the next year when he was deployed to Iraq his military job allowed for much more communication opportunities. (He was very lucky in that sense). And what used to be mailed letters became emails everyday. Instant messages through Skype and butterflies in my tummy. We officially called each other boyfriend/girlfriend in October of 2009. The bright colored leaves and frosty mornings remind me of those same fall days walking to the mailbox (in the country it was about a mile long walk) to check for a letter or sending pictures of Gooseberry Falls to him in an email.


Fall always feels full of possibilities and change. I feel excited to make changes. Three years ago that meant planning a December wedding, two years ago that meant moving into our first home, last year it meant adopting a kitten and fostering dogs, and this year I think it means fostering a child and perhaps a baby of our own soon. 

 Go out in nature and soak up the last few warm days before the snow swirls. Here’s to fall and the sense of change in the air!

Heartache

What’s the worst thing about death? For me it’s not knowing that that last day we had together was the last. I have a very strong and deep spiritual faith and I do believe that my loved ones are still with me just in a different way. That faith is comforting and free of doubts. However I still look back on our last day and wonder if I showed them or told them just how much they meant to me. I wonder if I should have visited or called more often. It has been a sad week especially with the massive loss people are dealing with in Las Vegas. I admit I don’t even like to hear about it because it is just too much sadness. 

On a personal note (and one significantly less traumatic/tragic) my mother had to put her dog down. Archie became suddenly very ill on Sunday and after taking him to the emergency vet they determined there was nothing that could be done for him. Mom didn’t want to delay his pain and went through with it. While he was a 13 year old dog you would have never known it. He still acted and looked like a young pup save for his white face. Just the other week he managed to get up onto a four foot counter, walk around the sink to the other side, and steal cookies from a container which he then proceeded to bury in couch cracks and between guest room sheets. I knew he was old and my mom and I had talked about his end of life plans but we both thought there’d be more time. I had always planned on driving down and being there when the moment came. I didn’t want my mom to have to do it alone and I wanted to be there to say goodbye to this dog I’ve loved so much. But the swiftness of it all robbed me of that choice. 

There is a different kind of sadness that comes with the death of a pet versus human. And I think that is because they love so purely and innocently. We are heartbroken over his loss and I wish I could have one last day playing with him and teasing him. My memories and pictures will have to be enough for now. 

The last picture I took of Archie.

May all those suffering through heartache find solace in their memories. 

Inspiration

I have been spending the time since Mike and Ashley left at home sicker than the dog (which is a literal phrase in this case). After I dropped them off at the airport I came home to a nasty surprise. Jackson had diarrhea in the house, something he has never done before. He has never had any accidents in the house except for barfing up some grass occasionally. (If you don’t have a dog I bet you want one now haha!) Anyway this was really some nasty stuff and I was gagging the whole time. It was terrible. I cleaned as much as I could on my own but I knew we would have to rent a carpet cleaner from the hardware store. The point is I’ve also spent my time being very sick. I’m plump full of mucus which gave me horrible sinus pressure and an inability to breath through my nose. Luckily today my throat is no longer sore but I am ready to be done with this bout of sickness. On the positive side this is the only time I’ve been sick since going plant based and that is a real win for me as I have always been a person who gets chronically sick all year.

I woke up today feeling ready to take on the world. The sun is shining and it is a gorgeous fall day here in Fargo. I feel like I have some control over my body thanks to OvuSense. My chart yesterday gave me hope that maybe I had ovulated. It still hasn’t confirmed it yet but I feel so good about the way my chart looks already. I even decided to take an OPK just to see what it would say. I know that with PCOS I can get false positives but in the past two years I haven’t had one positive result so I wasn’t too worried about that. I know that for the OPK to be positive the testing line has to be the same darkness or darker than the control line. I took one and while it wasn’t as dark as the control line…there was still a line! Which would make sense if according to my chart I had ovulated a day or two prior. I was as excited as if I had just gotten a positive pregnancy test. I feel in control of my body, a feeling I don’t feel very often. Between my chart and the sort of postive OPK and reading all the other positive posts in the OvuSense Facebook group I’m just feeling so excited.

I didn’t even know tests were capable of showing more than one line in my experience haha
I’m very happy with this being cycle 1!

I was also very pleased with how pictures turned out from Mike and Ashley’s trip. I thought I looked good…like I can actually tell now that my body isn’t as bloated as it used to be. I ate a lot of yummy vegan foods but I am so ready to be done being sick so I can go back to a whole food plant based diet with no oil and I’m also feeling ready to exercise. I feel energized and ready to take on the world. This feeling of power over my PCOS is incredible. The weight gain, the facial hair, the dark patches of skin, the long hellish cylces…I’ve started to get good control over all of those symptoms. I feel inspired and that a spark has been lit inside me. I’m hoping this feeling lasts!

Things that don’t change? My love of florals and my husband’s blue on black formal attire. 😂
I’m still in the messy middle but I’m confident the gorgeous end will find me one day.

It Happened…

Mike and Ashley have arrived after a much anticipated trip to Fargo.We have already been so busy visiting family and friends that their time here will be over and done before we know it. Tonight we went out for a family dinner at Osaka. I’m not sure if I wrote about it back then but this was our very last meal before giving up animal products and trying the McDougall lifestyle. It has always been my all time favorite restaurant. The yum yum sauce alone was worth the $25 price tag. I would always try and convince out of towners that that is the must try restaurant. I made Ashley eat with me there one of the last times she was in town and she fell in love with it as much as me.

So when deciding what to eat for a family dinner tonight we chose Osaka as our restaurant. The hibachi portion of the restaurant is the side that is most fun in my opinion. You get the fun show and everything made right in front of you. But when you sit on that side of the restaurant it’s a bit more awkward to order off the menu and not have the teppanyaki food like everyone else. And the food made on the hibachi grill is all cooked in butter. So I was faced with a big dilemma: to eat hibachi or not. If I ordered sushi I would have to order enough to make me somewhat full and that would require about 3 rolls (two AAC rolls and one sweet potato roll) and maybe an order of edamame. That would probably cost as much as the hibachi meal if not more and really it wouldn’t be that much food for the price. I just didn’t want to eat something off the menu and I wanted to eat with everyone else on the “fun” side (as it really is a big part of the whole experience). So I ate hibachi. I did. I willingly and knowingly made the choice to consume animal products. It felt very weird to concede that meal.

Yes, I have mistakenly eaten some processed foods made with milk or eggs (as I think all vegans do as part of the learning curve) but I had yet to have knowingly consumed it. I had very conflicted feelings. The first one being that we didn’t make this switch to be vegan for the sake of animal compassion. When I was a teenager I had entertained the idea of veganism because of my love of animals but never thought it would be something I could actually accomplish. I had never met a vegan in real life. Later in life when I was dating M he told me jokingly (but not really you know?) that he’d break up with me or divorce me if I ever went vegan (not even if I made him vegan but if I myself chose to go vegan). Isn’t life funny? But as much as I have grown up with a deep love of animals and their welfare I can say with full openness that that is not what made us stop eating animals. For me personally it has always been an added bonus, an extra for choosing this lifestyle. For M he doesn’t care as much as me. So when we decided to eat these food choices tonight for him there was no guilt or shame and it was all about family, fun, good food, and a small temporary setback in his health journey. And I wasn’t mad about that at all. If he needs these very special occasions to eat “normal” and it helps him be successful long term than I can accept that.

For me it wasn’t so simple. Veganism for compassion reasons is a topic I have really only explored since making the switch. I attempted to watch Earthlings but was too horrified to continue watching it. I’ve seen and heard how factory farms treat animals solely as a good and not as a living breathing creature that feels pain, sadness, and fear. I’ve seen videos of how that industry has no laws dictating the ethical treatment of animals OR it’s “employees” which often enough are illegal immigrants that these corporations willingly and knowingly bring in so that they are too afraid to speak up about what goes in for fear of deportation. I’ve learned about how Tyson controls it’s local farmers by making them so far into debt that they will never be able to back out of the industry. That isn’t to say that local farmers don’t give animals a full happy life and kill them humanely but it isn’t the norm for big companies whose main concern is making more money. Or that hunting wild animals for population control and for feeding your own family is something I disagree with because it’s not. But the big animal industry as a whole is just something that has lost its appeal for me personally. And all of this is just a small side affect to why I am actually doing this. I’m doing this for my health, for weight loss, for healing my PCOS, for conceiving a child, for having a healthy pregnancy, for raising a healthy child, for my husband to be off of medications, etc. When I think about it like that “cheating” once in the big picture of things seems reasonable. I never even expected myself to last this long. I was secretly scared that we’d give up and go back to what wasn’t working in the first three weeks. So for making it this far and still having no desire to give up even after this cheat meal feels great. But at the same time I needed this meal to be as cruelty free as I could make it because it actually is important to me now. (Although can I have a tangent moment and say that I hate the vegan label. It makes me feel like a self righteous asshole and I feel like people always think that I am thinking that I’m better than them. And that’s just not the case.) Anyway I decided to eat the onion soup which I’m sure was made with some kind of animal stock/broth, the salad which I think was vegan, and then I ordered the veggie meal instead of a meat meal. All meals come with two pieces of shrimp and the rice and veggies are cooked in butter. The rice also included eggs. I chose not to eat the yum yum sauce because it was possible for me to say no. When the chef makes a family style meal cooked in butter I couldn’t really say no but I can say no to a no meat meal and no additional dairy. Plus diary is so bad for PCOS I just don’t want it messing with my hormones. 

So I ate it. And I’m glad M enjoyed his meal as did the rest of the family. It was fun and sometimes family moments are worth relaxing control for. I did have some sharp pains after first eating the meal and some mild upset tummy for an hour or two afterwards. So I’m sure your question is would I do it again? And the answer is probably not and the reason is that what used to be the worlds best meal in my eyes wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be. Yes the food was still very good. But not drowning it all in yum yum sauce I was able to notice how salty it all was. And since I love sushi and edamame and their salad I think taste wise I would be just as good as the meal I ordered. So if the taste level is the same why not choose the meal that has less baggage attached to it for me? All in all I think it was a good test to see where I’m at with everything. I’m not aiming for perfect, I’m aiming for the best I can.