Tomorrow

Last Friday I wrote about my decision to do another Whole30 this summer was motivated by my most recent bout of insomnia.  I’m glad to report that I’ve been sleeping more soundly since that post.  Not as soundly as I’d like, but it’s better – no anxiety attacks, which is always a good thing.  In fact, the anxiety attack was more worrisome to me than the insomnia; I used to suffer from anxiety quite a bit until we changed our diet.  It was the first attack in a very long time, and it was NOT welcome.

This morning, I’m suffering from menopausal brain fog, something else of which I’d like to see the end.  Why this has lingered when the irritability and mood swings have lessened in frequency and severity over the last year is beyond me, but I really, really hate it.  Hopefully clean eating for 30 days will help a bit with that, too.

Also, I’d like to apologize for the lack of blogging about optimal diet for menopause.  It hasn’t been because I don’t want to, but I simply have not had the time to do the kind of research and experimentation needed to do write with any sort of authority, and I’m not the type to go just throw junk out there because it sounds good.  It is one thing to advise that women of a certain age exercise and avoid alcohol (and plastic) as much as possible, or why it’s not a lack of estrogen that’s the problem but a lack of progesterone, but it’s something else all together to explain the science behind those claims.

Time is my problem and will continue to be, as our busy canning season is rushing towards us with the speed of light, I work to get The Young One settled in college and my workload at the office does nothing but increase.  I do plan, however, to give frequent reports about how I feel over the next 30 days, and what I believe are the causes, so there’s that.  I may also add a page to this site where I document what I eat every day – it will be interesting to see how what I eat affects how I feel (and vice versa).

Anyhoo, in anticipation of a month of grain-dairy-soy-sugar-free meals, here are some of my best Whole30 recipes.  I’ll be making them over the course of the month, and hope you do too.

Gluten-Free Crab Cakes

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Melon Salad

Melon Salad

Chili Dogs

Chili Dogs

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Okra Stir-Fry

Okra Stir-Fry

Birria

Birria

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche. Gluten-free, dairy-free and low carb, this crustless quiche is unbelievably delicious.

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak. Nothing compares to a perfectly grilled Flank Steak, especially when flavored with citrus and chili!

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak

What I Learned On Whole30, Again

I did a post similar to this after January’s Whole30, which I did not complete in its entirety.  This time I stuck it out for the entire 30 days – yay me! – and I have some things to say about it.

It was an interesting experiment – not at all what I expected.

Going without any kind of sweetener for 30 days was much easier than I expected.  Giving up alcohol completely was much easier than I expected.  Exercising daily was much easier than I expected.  Going completely without dairy of any kind, even goat and sheep, was not only easier than I expected, but turned out to be completely necessary (bye-bye, lingering sinus problems!).  Going without grains or legumes was a complete non-issue, since I don’t eat gluten-bearing grains at all and rarely eat rice, corn or beans of any sort.  Ditto soy.  Ditto industrial seed oils.

However, coming up with different, interesting recipes that fit within the guidelines of the diet was more difficult than I expected, especially towards the end.  Frankly, I got bored – not that that was a problem with the plan itself, but it happened.   I had other expectations, too, especially when it came to weight loss.  I thought that such a strict regimen of diet and exercise would surely bring significant weight loss.

I lost a grand total of 2 1/2 pounds for the entire 30 days.  To say that this is something of a disappointment is an understatement, especially when you consider I’ve lost that much in the 6 days since returning to my “normal” diet.  Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I had expectations that I would have much more energy and more relief in regards to my hormonally-driven mood swings.  Again, to my great disappointment, neither happened.  In fact, that viciously edgy feeling – the one where you want to burst into tears at the drop of a hat and everyone and everything around you is a constant source of irritation  (I’m sure my perimenopausal readers are quite familiar with that one) – not only wasn’t relieved, but seemed to become worse.  Until I ate my first post-Whole30 white potato, that is, when it all just seemed to melt away (for awhile, anyway).  I’m not sure if that was physiological or psychological – it has occurred to me there was some subconscious resentment at not being able to eat whatever I wanted – but if anyone has an physical explanation for this, I’d love to hear it.  At first it seemed as if my dry skin was clearing up, especially on my elbows, but it came back with a vengeance the last days of the program, and I’m at a loss of how to explain this.

Now having said that, I don’t think any of this is necessarily the fault of the diet.  Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the authors of the Whole30 program, are quite young and seem to have little, if any, experience with the problems of a woman going through menopause.  They simply don’t need that experience (yet).  Also, all of the information in their motivational emails, especially in regards of what to expect, seemed to be directed at people who had been eating the Standard American Diet before participating in the Whole30.

I imagine if you’re going to go from a diet replete with sugar-loaded refined grains and vegetable oils, the strict protocol demanded by the Whole30 will produce absolutely amazing results.  In fact, I KNOW it will, because I saw those amazing results myself over 2 years ago when we changed our diet.  What I’d hoped for was a measure of relief from the more troubling and persistent symptoms of menopause.  I didn’t see the results I’d expected, but again – I don’t think it’s the fault of the Whole30 program.  It’s just not what it was designed for.

I’m still hopeful that I’ll find find the relief I so desperately want without HRT; questions of safety aside, you’re going to have to ditch the hormones sooner or later anyway, so why not make it sooner?  I’d joked earlier that I want a I Just Want To Be Healthy and Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact Diet, but it sounds less and less like a joke every day, and if reader response – here, on my Facebook page and in private communications – is any indication, I am NOT alone.

As middle-aged women, we’re mostly ignored as a demographic, which is surprising since we’re the people with the buying power; we care for, clothe, feed and make most of the day-to-day money decisions not only ourselves and our partners, but often our adult children and aging parents as well – some of us are parenting our own grandchildren.  As a whole we’re over-worked, over-scheduled and over-stressed.  Instead of being encouraged to age gracefully and naturally, we’re constantly bombarded with ads for products that will “cure” our wrinkles, our grey hair, our flab, reinforcing the impression that we’re not desirable, vibrant women unless we’re young – or at least appear to be.  There are numerous drugs on the market for aging men suffering from loss of libido and/or sexual performance, but not ONE for women – it’s barely acknowledged as an issue.

Information on how to be healthy and get through menopause with your sanity intact is wildly varied and much of it sparse indeed, unless you’re willing to pay for it – and buy a bucketload of supplements in the bargain.  Many of us won’t see the full transition from perimenopause to postmenopause until our mid-50s; the average age for the end of your menses is 53, and it can take as long a ten years to make that transition.  Why is there not more information on how to get through all of this other than the standard “erp-a-derp – just cut out teh alcoholz, get more of teh exersize and buy teh lube”?  I mean, really.  Aaaaargh.

At any rate, I’ve been talking it over with Beloved and I’m dead serious:  research for the I Just Want To Be Healthy And Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact Diet And Lifestyle has begun.  If you’re interested, stick around.  If you’re not interested, stick around anyway because the recipes will keep coming and a good measure of them will still be Whole30 complaint, or easily  modified to make them so.

What say you, ladies?  Are you with me?

Dream A Little Dream Of…Salmonella

I had a really bizarre series of dreams last night.

First, an acquaintance of mine showed up to the house (which, of course, was a mess).  She kept hugging and kissing me and it soon became apparent her intentions were a little more than friendly, if you get my drift.  I was saved from an embarrassing situation because she saw a roast chicken on my kitchen counter and immediately started to eat it.  I wanted to tell her “No!  Don’t eat that!  It’s been sitting out all night!”  But I didn’t, either out of embarrassment that there was a chicken on my counter that had been allowed to sit out all night or fear that I’d find myself in an embarrassing situation; I’m not sure.

Then, other people started showing up in my house – people I didn’t even know – and they started to eat the chicken, too, along with the bags of peppers from the farmer’s market I’ve been hoarding in the freezer in the garage.  Beloved must have been out of town on business, because all I could think was, “I can’t tell these people not to eat this chicken because it’s been sitting on the counter all night, but Beloved’s going to kill me because all they’re all going to get salmonella and sue us.”

At which point I was saved awakened by the sounds of The Young One in the kitchen making his lunch.

And the moral of this story, boys and girls, is if you wake up in the middle of the night with a killer hot flash and menopause-induced anxiety attacks and are driven to the sofa so you don’t keep your husband up because a tired husband is a cranky husband, don’t fall asleep while watching Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

I still don’t know where the whole hugging and kissing thing came from.  And I really don’t want to.

Random Tuesday Weight Loss

I just thought I’d throw some random updates at you – get your catcher’s mitt ready, then run the bases over to Keely’s and slide into home.

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As of this morning, I’m down 23½ pounds.  It’s taken four months to lose that, which is just under six pounds a month.  I’m a tad irritated that it’s not going more quickly, but hey – I’ll take what I can get.  I’ve also got to consider that once I’d lost 15 pounds, I stalled for almost a month, so this last 8½ pounds has been over the last 3 weeks or so.

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Beloved, naturally, has lost 30 pounds in three months.  *sigh*

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I wonder if the stall in my weight loss doesn’t have something to do with the particularly bad patch of insomnia I just survived.  Yes, survived is completely appropriate – any time you can’t sleep for more than a couple of hours a night for six weeks, you’ve survived.  Barely.

I think it was caused by a combination of menopause and an underactive thyroid which was exacerbated by a particularly nasty, lingering viral sinus infection (which I sincerely hope is finally clearing up).  My new ear/nose/throat specialist agrees, so I’m having a CAT scan on my sinuses this Thursday and an ultrasound of my thyroid next Thursday.

I’m overjoyed.  Can’t you tell?

(BTW – I seem to be sleeping again, although it looked like it was going to be iffy last night.  But I did sleep, and dreamed all night that I’d lost so much weight all of my clothes were literally falling off of me.  It would have been embarrassing if I hadn’t been so darn tickled about it.)

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The Primal Challenge?  Not going so well.  Apparently cutting out coffee and wine was just a bad idea…this poor old bod, which has graciously bidden a fond farewell to grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy rebelled when I suddenly withdrew caffeine and alcohol.  So I’m now drinking a couple of cups of coffee in the mornings, with half and half and liquid Stevia (I’m still avoiding artificial sweeteners) and the occasional glass of red wine.  I seem to be back on as even a keel as my traitorous ovaries will allow.

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Have I mentioned I’m going to see a gyno about HRT?  Yes, I am desperate. So is Beloved.

Poor man.

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We’ve been walking a bit more than we used to (although not as much as we should) lately.  Saturday we took a stroll through a small portion of Quail Hollow State Park, where there are some lovely gardens.

Late summer in northeast Ohio can be quite beautiful.

It’s A No-Brainer

No BrainerMen may want to simply go on to the next blog.  Just fair warning.

Actually, I would be the no-brainer.

Because mental pause has stolen it again.

It began Friday.  I was able to get up and cook breakfast and see The Young One’s paterfamilias on their merry way, but after that my energy and clarity of thought all just drained away.  Saturday wasn’t much better and Sunday was just plain awful.  I was just incapable of doing much more than making breakfast (which we had at noon) and dinner (which we ate at 10 p.m.).  I was cranky and short-tempered and tired fuzzy-brained.  Fortunately, I started my period (only 4 days late this month, but I can’t remember the last time I had a 28-day cycle), so my mood will now smooth out – it’s already better – but the tiredness and inability to concentrate is still here.

You know, I have always loved being female.  I just have; there has been no penis envy that I am aware of.  I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, but I had no desire to be a boy.   Even when I began having the good ol’ monthly visitor (at the age of ten), I didn’t mind being a girl.  As an adult, I enjoyed being a woman – for the most part, I still do.

But not this weekend.  In fact, I can safely say that this weekend I didn’t enjoy being a human being.  Or today for that matter – I look at this huge pile of work on my desk and think about everything I need to do and all I want to do is just cry, which isn’t like me at all.

I guess this is a roundabout way of explaining why I’ve posted nothing but photographs for the last 3 days and why there is no recipe for City Chicken today (you’ll get it Friday?  Maybe?).  And why I’ve been absent from commenting on blogs.  Hopefully as the week goes on, I’ll come back round to my old self.  I really hope so, since Beloved leaves a week from today to go to California for business and to see Jolly, who will be having her little bundle of joy on the 31st if everything goes well, and will be gone for 2 1/2 weeks.  And I’d really like not to be an incoherent sloth while he’s here.

Anyone have a good incoherent sloth remedy?