The McDougall Program For Maximum Weight Loss

As you most know we have been vegan for a little over a year. In that year we have bounced in and out of the regular McDougall diet (and parts of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen) and a blanket of vegan choices. Well I finally finally feel prepared enough to try McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss diet (commonly referred to as MWL). I can take you through the process of how I got ready to do this.

Last week I had my fertility appointment with Kate at OvuSense. She was wonderful to talk to. We had a nice chat about what’s going on with my charts and my body. She mentioned as does just about everyone I know that low carb is what is necessary to fight the insulin resistance from the PCOS. At first I was crushed because I didn’t know how I was going to be a low carb vegan but I really wanted to get my body back into an optimum condition for conception. What do I do?? Well as much as I trust all the information and appreciate Kate’s time I had to check in with McDougall first whose whole life has been about studying food and the relationship with the body. So I found a web chat where McDougall talks about insulin resistance and a high carb low fat diet. Here is the video I’m talking about. Start at the 19 minute mark for the discussion on insulin resistance. And it reassured me that it is absolutely possible to eat a high carb low fat diet and fix any insulin problems I may have. And because this was still all kicking around in my brain and I was looking for more and more knowledge I finally watched a Chef AJ video. I have seen some of her recipes before, I have heard her talked about in the McDougall group on Facebook, and I knew a little bit about her history. But I watched the video where she talks about it all (watch it here) and was really inspired.

This all led me to spend my Saturday evening alone (M was out of town) listening to McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss audio book. (I used hoopla to check it out for free and used Thrift books to buy a cheap hard copy version that’s coming in the mail later this week). I had a pretty good idea of what MWL looked like thanks to the Facebook group that talks about it often. It’s basically a more hard core version of the regular McDougall diet. I hadn’t been focusing on it at all in the past year because we had a hard enough time sticking to the regular program. Well by golly actually reading the book has made me feel so confident, ready, and willing to take on MWL! It is such a good book and I’m only a third of the way through it. I’m a logical person who likes facts and reasons and McDougall provided all of that for why a low fat high carb diet is the optimal diet for humans. It’s not gimmicky and he’s not selling any products to “help you achieve” anything. He just gives you information and you choose what to do with it. So we are doing it. And I can’t wait to report the results back.

We have seen some progress with the McDougall program more so in the beginning than lately because lately we haven’t been following it. We were just vegan and that’s not what McDougall recommends at all. They aren’t the same thing at all. But now we are fully McDougall and the best part is I feel like I’m really prepared mentally to do it. Reading the book was the trigger I needed and I feel confident and capable. Just read the book and see for yourself. And if you have such a difficult time going high carb (when all your life you’ve been told carbs are evil) like I did just try it for two weeks and see what happens. I’ll update you on how we feel during and after our two weeks of MWL.

A MWL meal of brown basmati rice (my new favorite), sautéed veggies and a teriyaki style sauce. Yummy!


Fresh Starts

Ahh fresh starts! My period has come finally! I’m hoping this new cycle will be significantly shorter than the last. I never had a confirmed ovulation last cycle so looking forward I’m hoping to see a nice clear high rise this time around. And no false starts would be even better! Tomorrow I have my fertility consult with Kate from OvuSense. I’m nervous because social situations make me uncomfortable and also because I’m anxious to hear what she has to say about these old ovaries.

Now that my period has come and with it an overall better mind set we have sworn of the oil once more. And slightly warmer temperatures are here so it has been just warm enough to enjoy a walk again. I’ve downloaded Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app and the See How You Eat app to help stay focused on the food goals. Kicking oil for good feels as impossible as giving up animal foods but know we can do better than what we have been. I’m vowing here and now to eliminate all oil and processed foods until the last weekend in April when my family is in town. I’ll check back in on here or my instagram account to make sure I’m sticking to it!

So far so good though as seen below 🙂

Here’s a screen grab from that See How You Eat app. And yes I had extra helpings on some of those meals.

I’ve been on a soup kick this week. This is a vegan gnocchi soup that was very good. I also made a minestrone that I forgot to take a picture of.

I always love Mac and cheese and asparagus.

Aldi is finally coming to Fargo! Got this huge compliant haul for under $80

Burrito bowls hot off the press.

Vacay Bay-bay

Have you heard about LOL dolls? They are these small plastic dolls sold in a mysterious ball package. The height of the thrill of this gift is in the unknown. Will you get the ultra rare something or the other or will you get another same old same old? My nieces are obsessed with these and it’s all the ask for for any gift. Anyway, little Leighton wants the “Vacay Baby” doll very much and I just love the way she says it, “Vag-cay bay bay”.

This spring I was lucky enough to be a vacay baby myself. The biggest of those trips was a week down in Jacksonville, FL with my childhood best friend. Seeing her was great but I won’t lie the food was amazing and the ocean is always my favorite thing. I also took a quick trip out to Nebraska with most of my siblings and all of my nieces and nephew. We even did a stay-cation with my mother-in-law over St. Patty’s Day.

I’ll fully admit I’ve been a junk food vegan lately. This has ranged from a full on fried food meal (Good Friday we made a vegan fish fry) to lots of grains veggies but made with fatty coconut products or oil. I have enjoyed it but I also know that it’s time to go back to fully healthy choices for weight loss purposes and reproductive health.

Here are some snaps of the food and the fun!

I’m sure everyone in Florida knows when a tourist from the Midwest is around…I was the only one swimming in the ocean at Mickler Beach. 
Martini time
One of my favorite meals ever from Toss Green in Jacksonville, FL. Tofu, roasted chickpeas, quinoa, Thai peanut sauce….yum!
Exploring Little Talbot State Park and having another beach day..
I could eat this everyday for every meal for the rest of my life. Vegan sushi with all the vegan fixings *drool drool drool*
Occasionally we can squeak out a good picture 🙂
Trivia and beer night before I headed back home.
My handsome nephew turned 4!
Nothing better than being able to play a round of casual golf with your siblings while having some cocktails. Well actually there is! It’s being able to say you had the best shot of the game!
Lunch at Green House Cafe for St. Patrick’s Day even came with a vegan shamrock shake. #impossibleburger
After my trip to Florida and Nebraska and his trip to Arizona we had sure missed each other!
You can tell we are starting to perfect vegan recipes because this Easter’s holiday meal was so so so good! That green bean casserole is simply perfection! Here is the link for that recipe: Green Bean Casserole Recipe
Good Friday “fish” fry thanks to gardein products. And my first attempt at using aquafaba and oil for a mayo base; lesson learned you should use your blender not your food processor because the blade wasn’t low enough to whip it up. It stayed watery 😦
Forks Over Knives No Tuna Salad Sandwich is awesome! Get it here. I still have a hard time breaking that chips and sandwich addiction. If only I had a microwave and that chip maker to make oil free McDougall approved chips. 
Easter morning monkey bread.
Thanks to veganism for opening my eyes to the world of delicious food outside my comfort zone. Thai food is heavenly an basil fried rice is my newest favorite. 
“The Amazing”…well described 🙂
Trying to find a sit down meal at Universals Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter wasn’t easy. We made do with this veggie platter.
I celebrated our plant-iversary with these vegan cupcakes.


Krystyna’s Story: Part 2

I’m honored again to be guest writing on KKA. I’ve been faithfully tuning in since the beginning and continue to love following the journey.

The last time I wrote, I was DAYS away from giving birth to our sweet little girl. My guest post ran just 4 days before she was born via scheduled c-section. In the last weeks before pregnancy, I found out that I had polyhydramnios–which meant I had a high amount of fluid around baby. Baby looked fine but my doctor was concerned that she would move position and decided a c-section was best. So we strolled into the hospital on the day of our scheduled c-section and hours later had a baby!

Fast forward almost 17 months and that sweet little baby is now a super sassy toddler! She’s into everything and although not walking completely by herself, she still manages to get into everything very quickly. She keeps us on our toes and makes us laugh every darn day! We are so blessed to be her parents.

Being that I had a c-section, I needed about 8 weeks of no exercise before going back to working out. I did NOT jump right back in…I had enjoyed my weeks on the couch, snuggling my newborn, and watching hours and hours of Hallmark Movies. So it took some time and some looking back at old photos to motivate me to get back into it. That sweet little baby helped too.

I started slow–my lower abs felt every move, no matter how I modified and it took quite the mindset shift to give myself some grace. I just had a baby! My body had grown a human and then had surgery to get her out. I had to remind myself of these things often. So no, I didn’t bounce back.

I did a 22 minute program to start. Total body cardio and strength but each workout was only 22 minutes long! Perfect for a new working mom who didn’t have a ton of time. I didn’t focus on cutting calories because I was breastfeeding. Getting back to sweating was just good for my mom-brain, teacher-tired self!

At the end of the school year, my husband and I bought a house and moved about 30 minutes from where we were living last year. Over the summer, I sort of dabbled in different workouts but didn’t complete any programs. I felt a little lost with what to do next and was feeling stuck in my current teaching job as well. At the end of the summer, a teaching position opened up in our new city and I took it! Less time on the road for me and the little lady and more time at home has been a huge blessing to my fitness journey and to my time with our girl.

As the new school year began, I knew I had to get into the right routine. Over the summer, I worked out at nap time but that wasn’t an option as I went back to work. So my alarm was set for 5am! I’ve always been a morning person {you’ll also find me in bed early, too!} but it was still an adjustment. After about 2 weeks of committing to it and getting up, it was habit and I’ve done it ever since! My alarm is actually set to 4:50am currently!

Getting up early has allowed me time for ME! The rest of my day is spent on someone else {toddler, fourth grader, hubby} and the time in the morning is mine. I do my bible study and then my workout–I start my day feeling so fulfilled and strong!

I’m currently doing an 80 day program and LOVING how strong I feel. My nutrition hasn’t been totally on point but what can I say? I’m a work in progress. Overall, I’m thinner than I was on my wedding day almost 3 years ago and feeling stronger and leaner.

Ever heard the saying “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Well it’s true. Whether you’re a dog mom, cat mom, plant mom, human mom, you have to love on YOU before you’re ever able to be your best for anyone else in your life. Find what that is for you and DO IT!

Find me on Instagram @krystynafreeman to follow my journey! Not just my fitness journey but my whole journey–as wife, mom, teacher, believer!

Thanks again to KKA for letting me update on my journey!


I don’t know about you all but this daylight savings nonsense has me all mixed up. Waking up each morning has felt like a medieval torture practice that even modern day torturers would say, “woah, too much!” Getting out of bed when there isn’t a trace of daylight goes against my bodies natural cycles I’m sure of it. Not only has the past week been a struggle to wake up but I’ve had three consecutive horrible nightmares each morning. I’m falling apart sleep wise!

Unfortunately sleep isn’t the only part of me that has derailed. My cycle has now decided to go off and embark on its own adventure with no return date note left behind. Despite the inositols and all of the “rules” (no drinking, eating correctly, chiropractor, meditation, etc.) I’ve followed at the beginning of this cycle (which started Jan. 25th) here I am on day 50 with no ovulation. I don’t know what happened! The inositols are supposed to shorten your cycles but mine have gotten longer! My body has had three ovulation attempts this cycle but never quite released the egg. I was frustrated, then I was mad, then I was sad, now I’m just completely over it. F###k it. I’ve had some period popcorn this week and I got a little tipsy on Monday. I’m out of chiropractic appointments. I’m about 10 days away from not having a baby in 2018 (got the huge [i.e. expensive] health insurance plan in case we got pregnant and delivered a baby in 2018). I’m just, ugh! Sad. And so frustrated. This is the longest cycle I’ve had since before the weight loss.

I’m trying to let it go and be at peace with whatever the F my reproductive system is doing and on that note I’d like to tell you about an upcoming guest post! Remember Krystyna’s Story from October of 2016? A good friend of mine who is a fitness advocate and now mom to a toddler? Well I’ve asked her to give us and update and advice because I find her truly inspiring and I wanted to celebrate another woman in honor of Women’s Day (it was recently International Women’s Day on March 8th). Her post will be coming soon!

I know I haven’t posted much lately as I have been on back to back vacations for a couple of weeks and then busy getting back into a more regular routine. The KKA (Kristina’s Kraft Adventure) blog now has a new Instagram account! You can find me on Instagram at: TheInstaKKA (sorry I can’t link it for you until I get a premium WordPress account).

Our Plant-iversary

Wow! We made it a year! A whole year animal product free. A whole year coffee free. A whole year pop (soda to you weirdos) free. A whole year without ranch dressing or bacon. This is amazing to me. I never thought it was possible. I for sure thought we’d lose steam a month or two in. But we did it! We made it through the first year. This is a huge moment for us.

I surely couldn’t have done it without M. He’s been my support and willing participant in my crazy “new age” eating lifestyle. As a man I think it was even harder with all that “real men eat meat (and lots of it!)” bullshit. I am so grateful he is my life partner.

It’s hard for me to focus on this milestone though because even as I write this post I think about all the things I could have done better. The oil I should have thrown out sooner, the meals out we’ve had, the prepping I didn’t do to help stay on plan… but I need to really adjust my thinking right this minute. I have found that after a year of doing this that I can do it! I did it! So that means each year I will get better and better at it. Slow progress is still progress. And for right now I think it’s important to celebrate what we did accomplish instead of focusing on what we didn’t.

I’d like to start environmentally because that is what first started me down this path. I was in the middle of our paleo Wild Diet days (eating lots of meat, fats, and veggies) when I randomly found a documentary to watch one boring Saturday called Cowspiracy. It challenged me to think about food sources differently and sat in the back of my mind for weeks before I even brought it up to M. Netflix then recommended Forks Over Knives which decidedly changed my future. I saw the science that backed up these claims of health and it just resonated with me and my PCOS. The lifetime of being a self purported milk advocate and current ketosis state looked a hell of a lot different viewed through the lens of this new information. Which led me to trusty old Google which led me to Dr. John McDougall’s website and the rest they say is history. Our plant based lifestyle was born.

These are my highlights from the past year:

-No more heartburn at all

-I’ve dropped two dress sizes

-Dramatically helped save the planet and reduce my carbon footprint

-Increased the number periods I have a year by almost double

-Ate a heck of a lot more nutrients than before

-Gotten rid of long, heavy, large clotted periods

-Have light, short, thin periods

-Lost 25lbs

-Gotten rid of my plantar fasciitis

-Balanced my hormones more

-Became more compassionate towards animals

-Wore clothes again from my closet that were 6 years old (haha don’t know if that’s a good things as they are 6 years old but you get the point)

So congratulations to us. We did do it, we can do it, we will do it. I’m not going to stop now. Moving forward it’s all about refining our techniques and replacing bad habits with better ones.

Cold Weather Batch Cookin’

I spent all day in the kitchen trying to get ahead on some meals and try out a few new recipes.

I made two batches of spaghetti sauce, 2 batches of wheatballs, a pot of chili, quinoa cornbread, and banana bread.

I added my leftover wild rice to the chili once it was done and I think it turned out great. I can’t get enough of that Brand New Vegan Chili.

The spaghetti sauce and the wheatballs are another staple at our house. When we heat the sauce we often add kale or spinach and sliced mushrooms to it.

The quinoa cornbread and banana bread were new recipes I tried today. The little nibbles I’ve had so far of the cornbread were very good. The banana bread seems like a flop. After baking it for an hour it’s still very mushy and gummy. The recipe did call for whole wheat flour but I was out so I used my unbleached all purpose flour. I’m not sure if that was the problem or not. M made pancakes yesterday that also called for whole wheat flour and we subbed the all purpose flour as well and we had a similar issue. They browned nice and were the right thickness but gummy on the inside as well. I’m hoping that’s what caused the issues but I’ve never been a natural baker and I rarely accomplish any kind of baking feat successfully. Now I have to decide if I should try both these recipes again using the right type of flour or if it would make a difference. Anyone know about such things? Tell me in the comments!

This weekend we had soy curl bulgogi again. I used a different marinade recipe which was epically good! This meal is in both of our top 5 meals.

Another cooking first for me was my first Indian style dish. I made a vegetable potato curry style dish. It called for curry powder but I only had garam masala on hand. Again I’m not sure how different this would make the dish. I’ll have to make it again using the curry powder. The version I made I had a lot of heat but also felt bland to me. M on the other hand totally loved it and had enough for two lunches worth which he loved just as much as the first time. Next time I also want to try lite coconut milk instead of the full fat.

Took a break from all the cooking lately to snap this lovely sunrise across the street.

Left over rice and spinach with Maggi’s chili sauce is a quick easy meal for me.