Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Weekly news round-up, the slightly late edition

So yeah, it’s been a few weeks. First I had an eye infection, complete with an ulcerated cornea, which meant absolutely no screen time. Then I went away to GNEW and was busy taking down my pavilion and driving home, so there was no posting. I meant to do it Monday, but I woke up with a migraine and, well. Yeah. So it’s been a while.

 

Today, I am the only one at Creatives. It’s a rainy day, and I’m enjoying the Acoustic Covers playlist on Sp0tify, and reveling in the fact that I don’t have a migraine. I have a chai latte with almond milk, an iced raspberry green tea, and, for the first time in a LONG time, a workable plot for Advent this year! YAY!

 

You guys, you have no idea how happy I am to have a plot. Carter’s Cove is easily my most popular story, but it’s HARD to write. Plot-wise, anyways. Because see, bodies and violence and save the world are easy to plot. It’s the fluffy, feel-good but not be total sugar because that’s boring stuff that is hard.

 

I’m also going back on a mini-reset this week – doing a Whole10 with my Facebook group. I need to get back on the wagon, and this seems the best way to do it. Also, I’m adding in a fitness goal, because I want to get my stamina up. Also, I need to get more Pokemon. Because, well, Pokemon won’t walk themselves.

 

Since I haven’t been posting, I’m going to just start my goals over.

 

Oh, and I finished Hope Never Dies and I have to write a review. Mini review: I loved it. I also saw Ant Man and the Wasp yesterday. Go see it – it’s fun.

 

Morning Pages: Going for all 7 days, per normal.

Non-writing goals: 1 more coif made for Her Highness for Pennsic. I want to do 2 more if I can, but the goal is 1. Also, 2+ hours on Conri’s trim. I’ve got 1 cuff for that done, and need 1 more cuff, the neckline, 2 sides, and the hem.

Writing goals: Plot out Advent this week. I can do this long-hand.

Fitness goals: Make my step goal (currently 3500 steps per day) all 7 days.

Whole30 and food news

 

I did a Whole30 in January and February of this year, and it pretty much changed my life. So much so that since then, I’ve listened to the audiobooks at least twice each (no, seriously, I have both It Starts with Food and Food Freedom Forever! on my Audible and I’ve listened to both recently, again), and I’m about to buy The Whole30. It’s amazing how different just eating real food has been. And it’s had an effect on my writing, which is why I feel I might be going overboard a bit in my love for it, but seriously, it has. So much so that I’m starting another round on June 1, not because I feel like I’m slipping (although by then, I might be) but because I want to enjoy all the fresh fruits and vegetables that will start coming in to the farmer’s markets, and because by then, I’ll have done my two cons and will need a bit of a reset.

 

And yes, this is a writing blog, but I wanted to talk about how your health in general affects your writing. While there is a certain weird glamour in being “artistic” and drunk/stoned and generally unhealthy, in the long run, it doesn’t bode well for your creative endeavors. Seriously. Take care of your body, and you’ll be able to be creative for a long time.

 

It doesn’t have to be Whole30, either. Find a lifestyle that works for you, and don’t get caught up in the minutiae of what you “Should” be doing. I know one writer who has a little foot pedal set-up in front of his couch. He bikes while he watches TV. Another writer I know runs (actually, quite a few of them do, now that I think of it). I’m hoping to get my bike going this summer, and getting a pair of roller skates. What about you guys? What are you going to do to get healthy?

(Navel-gazing) The trials and tribulations of being an adult

 

Cats are the ultimate Zen masters, and I can only hope that one day, I get to come back as one. Preferably one as spoiled as Mr. Bear, above, who snoozes most of the day and has us to wait on him hand and foot. But honestly, cats have it made.

 

I recently realized two things about life:

  1. I have a bullet journal to help me schedule myself, so I stop missing things and generally stressing myself out.
  2. Setting up my bullet journal stresses me out by showing me everything I have to do as an adult.

I totally need an adult to take care of me, because I’m done being an adult. Or I guess I need an adultier adult, because this whole “Being responsible for my own bedtime and booze” is pretty cool.

 

I need people, is what I need. People to pay my bills, run my errands, work my job, and give me the money. So I can write. Or something.

 

I’m now 1 month post-Whole30, and while I’ve backslid a bit (oh, sugar, I can’t quit you), I’m still noticing that I’m feeling pretty good. My bloodwork came back normal for the first time in a long, long time, and my doctors are very pleased. I miss cheese a bit, but it’s a small price to pay for no brain-fog, a boosted immune system, more energy, and sleeping better. I’ll take it. I’ve given up 99% of dairy, and reined in my grains quite a bit.

 

I’m working on getting better at this (I guess, growing into that adultier adult I was looking for), but as I’ve been reminded lately, we’re all a work in progress.

(personal/writing/food/health) Yes, I can eat salads – in short, a month on Whole30 with Crohns

On January 4, 2018, I started my second attempt at a Whole30. I had made it 9 days in September before my guts rebelled, but I was determined this time (and better prepared, to be honest), and I completed the 30 day reset on February 2, 2018. I’m in the re-introduction phase now, to see what foods I’ll be adding back into my regular eating rotation, and what foods will be saved for when it’s really worth it.

 

I have Crohn’s disease, which is typically a disease that restricts your eating to very bland, very easy to digest foods. I personally have lived on the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) when I’m having a flare. The Whole30 involves cutting out all grains, all legumes, all dairy, all alcohol, all added sugar for 30 days. Doesn’t really sound like they’d go together, do they? I was skeptical too. Trust me.

 

It’s an honest worry. For the Whole30, your meals consist of protein, vegetables, fruits, and a plated fat. I could still have potatoes, and cauliflower makes yummy rice. I couldn’t put honey in my tea when my throat was sore. I couldn’t use my beloved gingerbread syrup. It wasn’t easy.

 

No, that’s an understatement. It was damn hard, and I almost gave up a couple of times. I was lucky to have K-J, Shannon, Amber, and the rest of my friends in my Food Freedom Group talk me off the ledge a few times, mostly when I was frustrated with life and wanted nothing more than to crawl into a bottle of rum and not come out. They pointed out how far I’d come, how good I was feeling otherwise, and how I would sabotage everything I’d done in one moment of frustration. And they were right.

 

You can’t do Whole30 without a strong support system, in my personal opinion. And not just for the frustrating moments. Your support system is there to suggest new recipes when you would rather spork your eyes out than eat another damn egg, or to help you with ideas for what to eat when you go out. They cheer you on with all the non-scale victories that you see along the way. And they help you soldier on when you feel like you should just give up.

 

The other thing about Whole30 is that it’s NOT a weight loss program. It’s about changing your relationship with food – learning what affects your body in a good way and what doesn’t, and learning not to reward or comfort yourself with food. The weight loss happens, but it’s not the point of the program. You actually are not supposed to weigh yourself at all during the 30 days.

 

So, back to the Crohn’s. I was a little apprehensive, but I decided I was going to do it. All of it. No hedging. At the beginning of my first one, I hadn’t been able to eat many raw veggies or fruits at all in years. Most of my meals were carb-heavy, and I hated the way I felt. As I sit here now, after the reset, I’m eating salads almost every day, with no issues. I have vegetables at every meal. I have discovered my love of coconut butter and I don’t even miss chocolate. And I have kicked my caffeine demon and my sugar dragon into a deep cave, where they are sleeping peacefully.

 

I’m also down 18 pounds, but that’s kind of beside the point. I have energy again. My guts don’t hurt. I sleep better. My mind is clearer. I feel more connected to people, and more compassionate. I have the ability now to stop and think before I say or do something. I don’t use food as a reward.

 

This isn’t over, though. I know this is a journey, and the only “end” is when I take my last breath. I’m not on a diet. I’m changing my relationship with food, and relationships continue to evolve. While I had a very positive experience with it this time, I still take my Crohn’s medication daily. I checked with my GI and my PCP before I started this. I would recommend you do the same.

 

But I would recommend, if you think it would help, and your doctors agree, to give it a try. I’ll be there to cheer you on. I’m already looking forward to this summer, when hopefully my dad will be doing this with me. If you decide to try it, please let me know!

 

In other news, I’ve decided that I need to start writing again. My friend Robert has called this year the Year of Teaching for his embroidery. I think this year for me is the Year of Writing. I have books and stories to tell. And honestly. I just feel better when I write. I did delete my Patreon account (I might set it up again later, but I don’t feel that I can do it now) but I did start a Ko-Fi account. You can donate there if you’d like. The link to buy me a cup of tea or whatever is here. I’ve set it up on the website as well.

 

I’ll be at RavenCon in April, and Balticon in May. I’m not sure what else I’m doing for cons this year, but we’ll see. Want me at your con? Drop me a line and let me know.

(writing/personal) The cycle of grief isn’t linear

There are a lot of books about how grief works, and they all talk about there are different stages and you progress through them. And maybe some people do actually progress through them. I don’t.

 

In two weeks, it will be one year since we found Brian in the bathroom. I’ve gone through all sorts of feelings, and to be honest, right now, I’m approaching the anniversary kind of dispassionately. I suspect it’s numbness, rather than acceptance, and according to many of the “experts,” I should be past this stage. It may be overload. The last two years have been so jarring, so out of what I expected from my life, that I don’t know if the wound is actually healing or if it’s just settled into a quiet phase, husbanding its pain for just the right time to burst forth with another explosion of acid and tears. I suspect the latter, because I can still feel a heaviness within me.

 

I suspect I always will.

 

But I can’t live within the past, yearning after what might have been. I can’t. I watch others I love do that, and it hurts just as much as the loss of Brian and Mom does. Time is a river, and no moment lasts forever, and if you try to make it stop, it resists. And it breaks. And your world breaks, in horrible ways. Photographs are an illusion that you can stop time, freeze it forever, but you really can’t, and all the photographs do is drag you back into memories. And that can be good, but it’s not healthy to live there forever. Time was meant to move, a sinuous, winding path that we walk down until our steps falter, and then….

 

I don’t know. Maybe we drop to another path, and start again. Perhaps we get a time of rest first, or perhaps it just all ends. I really don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else does either. I guess we’ll all find out in the end.

 

So what am I doing? I’m still on Whole30 (day 11 today, despite everything), and I’m sewing – my first cross-stitch project in over a year, if I remember correctly. I’m working on crocheting for Birka largesse as well. I’m writing. I’m starting my proofreading again.

 

I’m trying to live.

 

And that, in the end, is all any of us can do. Grief isn’t a straight-forward process: it’s a path of its own, and it doubles back, veers to side to side, heads off in directions that only seem possible once you start moving. It brings you to places you thought you’d lost, places you wish you had lost, and sometimes, it seems to be standing still, even though you know you have to keep moving. It’s a fog that surrounds you, lifting sometimes just enough to remind you that somewhere, there’s a sun that could warm you, but you have pull your cloak tightly around you, re-light the lantern that the wind blew out, and push forward through the clammy dankness. There’s nothing else to do.

(personal/writing/advent) 2018 – my first full year alone

I swear this year is going to be better. I won’t let it be the same way it was last year. I won’t.

 

But things are going to have to change. I’m realizing how hard it is to do things on my own – not just in terms of emotionally (because it IS hard, even if you are okay with being alone, which I am), but in financial terms. My hat is off to all you folks who have been doing this all along. I thought it was hard with two incomes. It’s so much worse with one. And it doesn’t seem like the bills get any less.

 

There are a few silver linings for the year coming up: I can work from home when I need to, which means no more real days missed due to weather or illness. My Crohns’ disease is under control, and I’m getting healthier every day.

 

I start my Whole30 food program today, so there will be random posts about that. I’m still trying to figure out how to post automatically to Facebook from here, but I’ll just have to do it manually until I can get into the guts of my website. Which I will have to do anyways, because I’m going to redesign the entire site.

 

In writerly news, I did cancel my Patreon. I’m contemplating several things, including maybe putting a tip jar out here on the site for right now. I don’t feel that I give enough right now to make a Patreon practical for me or fair to my readers. I might also get a Ko-Fe page, but I don’t know right now.

 

I’m working on the new Advent story – I will finish it by the end of January for you all. I promise. Then there are the proofs of Winter’s Storms to go through, the cover to finalize, and that will be out by April 20, which is RavenCon! And I’ll be there that weekend, with calendars and copies of both books, and Schrodinger, of course. He might even get a new hat or vest for the occasion.

 

I’m also now accepting new clients for proofreading only. My rates are:

-Up to 10k is $25

-Every additional 5K is $10

I do fiction, non-fiction, whatever. Poetry might be weird, but I’ll give it a shot. Here’s what I do for proof-reading:
I go through and pick out any misspelled words, missing words and/or phrases, and make sure your heroine’s hair hasn’t gone from blonde to brunette without a dye job in the middle of the story. I also tend to correct punctuation, mostly commas and things like that.

 

If you’re interested in that, please drop me a line at vgford@gmail.com and we’ll talk. Turnaround is based on how big your project is.

 

I guess that’s it. Happy New Year folks.

(health) Making better choices

Waterfall.jpg

I love this picture. I love the feel of the greenery, of the moving water, of the sheer potential it represents. To me, running water and the outdoors is happiness.

 

I haven’t been able to do much in the outdoors over the past couple of years, due to a lot of weight gain, injuries (in large part due to that weight gain) and illness. For someone who grew up outside (and yes, I loved the outside when I was younger, although I admit I usually was curled up someplace in it reading), this has been a hard couple of years, and I’m almost positive that being inside and not able to hike and swim and walk the way I want to has contributed to my depression.

 

In August 2015, I finally admitted I needed real help. Not just nutritionally, but a coach who would administer the tough love and unconditional support I needed to get my life healthy again. I was lucky enough to find that in my friend Shannon, who is a coach for Herbalife. If you’ve ever met me, you know I LOVE food. Like, seriously, LOVE food. The taste, the smell, the mouthfeel – yeah, I’m a bonafide foodie, and for years, I was resistant to having anything to do with meal replacement shakes. Of course, it didn’t help that the ones on the commercial market like Ensure and Boost are full of chemicals and SMELL like chemicals as soon as you open the bottle. So I was skeptical.

 

Trust me, I’m not trying to sell anyone anything. For one thing, I know that my path isn’t everyone’s. We’re all different. But let me tell you, without Shannon, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am. I’m walking again. I’m down nearly 30 lbs since August. And the shakes – well, to be perfectly honest, they’re amazing. I love them. (And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I can have cookies and cream cheesecake for breakfast. Okay, well, maybe a little.) And the best part? It doesn’t smell chemically. When I open my vanilla protein powder, it smells like vanilla. My hubby and roomie loved the waffles I made with them (reminder to self, make more waffles.).

 

For another thing? It’s not cheap. Now, granted, in the long run, it’s cheaper than eating fast food all the time, and it’s cheaper than medical bills. But it does require some outlay of cash.

 

But for me, it’s been worth it. If you are interested in talking to my coach, you can hit Shannon up – her husband Tom is a coach as well, if you want a guy instead. I can personally vouch for both of them – they’re amazing, and I’m lucky to have them in my life. Because of them, I’m looking forward to hiking this summer, and maybe, just maybe, getting my bike out again.

 

 

(personal) Tea, and the quitting of soda

tea

I love tea. It’s no secret that I love tea, and that I am a wee bit of a tea snob (yes, Molly totally gets it from me, except that I can’t afford to buy my personal blends all the time, so I do occasionally buy tea from the grocery store. But even then, it’s still the speciality teas. I just don’t like plain black tea anymore.) – but I used to have another habit as well. I used to live on soda.

 

It started in college, when I was on my own (yay!) and could make my own decisions about what to put in my body. It turns out I was woefully unprepared for such authority, which led to me living on caffeine, sugar, and about 4 hours of sleep a night. It was not a pretty sight.

 

In December this past year, I decided I was quitting soda again. Cold turkey. I’ve tried and failed to do this before – I’ve always cheated and then given up because “well, I’m just addicted and that’s it.” But this time, for whatever reason, it stuck.

 

I haven’t had a soda (barring mixed drinks) since December 3, really. I do not count ginger ale as soda, because I only drink it when I’m really not feeling well. But for those who used to know how to find me by following the trail of Pepsi cans, this is a huge thing. I’ve replaced the soda with iced tea and hot tea, and even occasionally with water. I still like bubbles, but I can get those with seltzer.

 

It hasn’t been easy. I still crave them, but I remind myself that tea is better (I drink mine unsweetened, so the savings in calories alone has been huge), and that soda bothers my stomach. That soda has a ton of processed garbage in it. That I have better things to drink.

 

That said, you will pry my rum and Coke with lime out of my cold, dead fingers. So if you see me with a soda, rest assured, there’s probably booze in it.

(advent) Slight detour

Just to remind you, if you love tea as much as Molly and Schrodinger do, you can buy their favorite teas at Adagio Teas!

Molly’s Christmas Blend

Schrodinger’s Earl Grey

The Snow Queen’s Blend

For the tea lover in your life! And since it’s official that I’ll be at ConCarolinas 2016 (just got my invite today!), I can say safely that I will have tea with me there!

 

 

(health) Personal updates

Usually, fall is the time I start going into hibernation mode. By this, I mean that I start craving tons of carbs, bundling up in every blanket I can find, parking myself on my couch and refusing to move until spring. Yes, I’m probably more than part bear. Or cat.

 

Not this year. In August, I met up with one of my friends, who is an Herbalife coach, and it changed my entire outlook. I’m not normally a shake person. I don’t like the idea of not eating real food, and the chemical smells of most commercial shakes make me nauseous. But I agreed to try a 3-day trial, figuring at the worst, I’d make my way through it and then be done.

 

It was amazing. World-changing. When I got on Shannon’s scale that day in August, I was shocked to see the scale read 321 lbs. Yeah, that’s not a typo. I’d known it was bad, so I’d been avoiding my scale, but not that bad. No wonder my hips and knees were killing me, and I could barely walk 2000 steps a day. I knew I had to do something.

 

Before trying the shakes, I’d reached out to my gastroenterologist, to make sure this wasn’t going to be bad for my Crohn’s disease. To my surprise, he told me that Herbalife was actually one of the companies they suggested when folks were going through a flare, or had to give up solid food for a while (yeah, that happens. It sucks). So with his blessing, I started the trial.

 

I’ve been on Herbalife now for almost 2 months. I stepped on my scale this morning, and it said 303 lbs. My hips and knees don’t hurt much. I’m up to an average of 3500 steps a day, and steadily working my way towards 5000 (my first goal) every day. I don’t just use the elevator at work anymore – I take the stairs, about half the time. I’m starting to park farther away, because I can.

 

Best of all, when I’m having a flare, I know I can make myself a shake with protein and complex carbs that WON’T aggravate my symptoms, instead of filling up on white rice or applesauce.  I’m definitely a work in process, but it’s finally going the right way.