Yea, I know, that shouldn’t be a priority going into a fresh weight loss regimen. I’m just recognizing how much I don’t want to be dependent on the industrial food machine anymore. It’s going to take years to get anywhere near Ben Hewitt’s level of independence. But recent news stories have me sufficiently freaked out to recognize that his family’s way of living ain’t nearly as nutty as it seems to the average city folk.

I’m hashing this out really off the top of my head, and I’ll expound on it more in the coming weeks and over at Dark Meadow. But this is coming from a couple of places.

1. The recognition that the only way I’m going to lose weight is to get off all processed food, save a few rare exceptions.

2. The recognition that I don’t want to rely on the industrial machine in the off-seasons. That’s what greenhouses are for, and home food preparation and processing, and …

3. The recognition that the industrial machine, at times, doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing, at the expense of people’s health and lives.

Have you SEEN the Blue Bell story? What started as a voluntary recall for a listeria scare, is STILL a voluntary recall…..but the CDC has evidence the listeria scare actually started in 2010.

5. Years. Ago.

I’m not sure I have further words yet regarding that illumination. I’m too horrified. Especially since my husband likes their mint chocolate chip.

Then there’s the statistic that while Asheville is definitely ahead of the curve for local food production, that up to 70% of our produce still comes from California and Florida. I totally get that, because it’s the way the American food system works, until you get a good look at the food waste that we produce and put it next to the people starving in other countries. Then we’re just bloviated idiots.

So the Blue Bell thing got me thinking about how we need an ice cream maker, so that that’s one less thing to give money to in the grocery store, until I remembered that I’d still be buying the industrially processed milk to create said ice cream…and now a milk cow is back in play for the someday farm. Preferably a Devon, because they’re smaller than average.

Why aren’t more people thinking this way? Why did the Industrial Revolution create a society of lazy fucks?

I think it was Barbara Pleasant at the Mother Earth News Fair, who mentioned a study recently concluded by Ithaca College that showed that there were 3.1 million acres of abandoned farmland in New York State. This land is likely half-forest again and only getting thicker with time, as it’s truly been abandoned … where people may have owned parcels, but failed to thrive on them, gave up, and moved. My mind sprang to the Little House on the Prairie books and the fact that that wasn’t an option back then; the options were thrive or starve. And starve some did, and that’s preventable now, but that prevention has made us a less strong people in my opinion, less willing to “make do” when there are more comfortable options out there.

Sure, I’m being unfair. It’s easy to judge when we live comfortably. But it doesn’t change that I’d give anything for a couple acres of that land for me and Les. We could map out how to clear a parcel for a house in the good seasons, rent a backhoe and some other equipment, and go to town. Money is possible to acquire, and age ain’t nothing but a number.

When I was in my early teens, we lived on a 7 acre parcel that Dad spent many a weekend clearing of brush, and I’d beg off out of laziness, saying I had too much homework. In reality, I was a teenage female who couldn’t be bothered with that level of manual labor. The fact that I crave it now is a rather bone-jarring irony.


So I discovered Sprouted Kitchen and their lovely recipe page, and I’ll be jumping back on the almost-Paleo wagon by May 1st. Still have to hash out specifics, so that’s all I’ll say about that here for now.


Posted: January 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

The levels to which I avoid change may border on the pathological. Where food is concerned, anyway…

Went to the doc and he recommended a detox, based on Paleo/Dr. Hyman’s work basically. I responded initially by trying lactose-free milk to see if I could drink that in spite of my refound allergy, never mind that it runs 12 g of sugar per serving. Never mind that that’s only half my problem, because I also drink my coffee with sugar. Never mind that I’ve been drinking sweet tea again, and eating desserts daily. My singularity of focus needs to adjust as well apparently.

The upshot is my allergy ain’t from lactose. I’ve been drinking Lactaid for a week now, and I woke up with a fresh allergy flareup in my left eye. I’ve been mainlining it, along with butter still lately, and shouldn’t be surprised. In this game, I fear, I’m going to find precious few short cuts. I get that that is as it should be. Doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m a very large chicken about detoxing. Giving up sugar, dairy, and caffeine at the same time feels nearly insurmountable. Yes, I know, nice attitude. I’ve got a schedule to keep here…how in the world am I going to get sites done if I’m in a perpetual state of miserably bitchy and half-asleep???

Um, Melanie, you do realize that would only last like, a week, and then you’d feel better, right?


So. I’m going back to almond milk, just leaning on the cheapest, cleanest store-bought version for now, because even that won’t be sticking around long. Since it doesn’t taste the same as milk in my coffee AT. ALL., I’ll be weaning rather quickly next week. I go back to the doc at the beginning of February for yearly labs and a check-in, and I intend to be well on my way to health by then.


Posted: January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

I admit, I’m usually a resolutions gal. Wrote those suckers out for years. Usually they weren’t stuff like diet, more like life stuff, where I’d like to see myself a year later. Have I read enough books on farming? Am I doing everything I can to get us toward our goal of our own place? Trying for a baby. Doing more gardening. Diet stuff just gets broken, so why bother?

That’s defeatist, I know. And I went into New Year’s Day with big plans to make changes, and some of them did start yesterday. But I have quite a bit more planning to do, before the changes will really occur. And that can’t happen when there’s still cookies in the house. And Lil Sis and Mom are visiting, which will mean eating out. There’s always another excuse.

I have a doc appointment on Monday. I’ll discuss the changes I want to make and get some advice.


The big change that has already occurred has me frustrated, but relieved. My allergies have been kicking my butt since autumn. I’ve been sneezing and coughing more, stuffy-headed more, and have had focused allergy attacks in both eyes. Wasn’t sure what was causing it. I thought I’d “outgrown” most of my childhood allergies.

But between hot cocoa, protein shakes, and my morning coffees, I’ve been drinking milk like it’s water lately. I LOVE milk, and thought I outgrew that allergy around age 12. But I decided to try eliminating dairy and check for body response. I made some almond milk from scratch, so I wouldn’t be going cold turkey off coffee at the same time, and used it wherever I normally used milk, starting yesterday.

The difference has been immediate and marked. Everything from my esophagus up feels clearer. I can breathe through my nose again, and my eyes aren’t as watery. It’s so immediately obvious that this is a lifestyle change that needs to stick around, for my health. I guess you don’t really outgrow allergies; rather, they go dormant until you do something stupid enough to jump-start them again. Whatever, I get the message.

I am so pissed by this! That reaction has me a little fascinated and wanting to delve further. I’ve made my body betray me in a dozen different ways, thanks to this extra weight. My knees are crumbling and weak with arthritis (which may or may not be genetics too, but still…), my lower back protests when I stand too long, and those gallstones ain’t going anywhere. But the milk allergy is something I was born with, something I have zero control over, but which requires that I make distinct and immediate changes to my diet for my health and happiness. And I got the message within 24 hours of starting this experiment. So why do I continue to overeat garbage, thus abusing my body in all those other ways? I don’t actually enjoy the pain it puts me in. I’m an admitted self-flaggellator, but god, I pray for relief from my knees.

I don’t consider myself a person who can do something cold-turkey…that’s usually an exercise in failure. But I need to recognize that when the benefit is fast, it’s not nearly an issue…..which means I need to really dig deep and suck it up where my other lifestyle changes are concerned. Because this weight is by no means going to go away overnight, once I really start working at it. It’s going to take a year or three, just to drop the 80 pounds I want to drop to get to my “assessment point”. My assessment point is 175 pounds, still high for my height if you pay attention to any chart out there. But I was fit and strong at that weight when I met Les, and I thought I was fat…so I want to get back there, all these years later, and then see if I even want to get lower, or if I want to build on being healthy and strong around that number.

Boy, do I talk a good game…

Posted: December 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’d love to be able to tell you that since my last post (July), I’ve lost 40 pounds and gained the motivation and discipline to engage in a daily exercise regimen.

I’d like to be able to tell you that.



It’s been a month of extremes. I’ve been eating like a college kid and it finally caught up with me, so I guess it’s a good thing that the new year is almost upon us, because I could certainly use some….if not resolutions (because I tend to think of those as things to break as quickly as possible), then changes.

I learn lessons hard. They need to be beaten into my head over and over, unfortunately. I’ve been mainlining sweets and eating whatever the hell I want, and sighing as my inflammation around my midsection increases. And telling myself that I was giving myself December to be “bad,” but the new year is just around the corner, shiny with hope. But last night, I felt the first twinges of discomfort, my body reminding me that I have gallstones and that that little organ is having to work overtime lately.

So the changes will start happening before the new year. Gallstones don’t pass; they just collect and then jam up your bile ducts if they get too plentiful or if your liver and gall bladder are having to do too much work; so it’s certainly in my best interests to get a handle on how and what I eat.

I get that diet isn’t the only factor that causes gallstones, but I scoff rather loudly at the Western medicine folks who claim that the only real cure is removal of the gall bladder. I really don’t give a damn how much less invasive the procedure is now, compared to years past. You’re still talking about removing an organ that has a purpose in the digestive process. No thank you.

So for me, this means significant change. While the Paleo lifestyle does tout a lower fat diet with the healthier cuts of beef and copious veggies, they also embrace fats that I need to wean from; so I’m taking a page from several different courses of action. There will not be a Whole 30 attempt for me. I’m a food addict, and going that extreme will just make me and everyone around me miserable, and ultimately result in failure way before 30 days is up. That may seem self-defeating, but I prefer to look at it as realistic. I require a different approach.


I’m taking pages, so to speak, from (in no particular order) Kris Carr, Terry Walters, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Robert H. Lustig, Heather Bruggeman (sp?), Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, Paleo Hacks, and others.

My curiosities lately have leaned toward Buddhism and Ayurveda as well, with the books Mindful Eating and Ayurveda: A Life of Balance also playing a role. I’m trying meditation, daily yoga, and plan to get walking again. I have an appointment with my doctor in the first week of January.

Back, but not really

Posted: July 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

“Hi, I just came by to tell you why I can’t see you anymore.”
~ Sydney Ellen Wade, The American President

I’m updating to say that I’m probably going offline here for a bit. The good news is I’m on track in more ways than one. I tend to comment that if I go dark on this blog, chances are it’s because I’m mainlining garbage and not exercising. Thank the gods, this is not the case here.

I’m thinking hard about a book proposal that involves half-memoir, half essays, based on my quest for health and how America has changed for the worse in that regard. How commercials blatantly use sex and convenience to sell garbage that’s killing us. Diving into Paleo, while hanging onto some dairy by my claws. Finding ways to exercise and build strength when so many of my joints protest now. As much as I want accountability here, I’m recognizing that what I usually lump as blog fodder actually could go elsewhere, like in an actual book. I’ve wanted to publish since I was a teen, and I don’t want to self-publish, so that means doing my homework and finding some discipline to write. When you edit websites all day, the last thing you want to do at night is write. I need to find a way around that though, because these ideas are busting out of my head and begging to go somewhere.

My last post on transparency was a true turning point. I’m working harder to cook at home, and can’t even look at fast food commercials on TV right now without feeling self-righteous. Like, wanting to write letters to their CEOs to ask them why they’re so intent on killing off their clientele. I’m getting off processed food as much as possible, reading labels like a pro, and I purchased new sneakers this weekend at an actual store, and made sure they fit before I left.

So, this may become a celebratory station of sorts, a place to record milestones as I reach weight loss goals or personal records. I’m not signing up for any more races for the near future, because I have too much work to do on my body first. I finally get that I can’t expect my body to react positively to exertion if I don’t build it up first to accept said exertion. So, I’m adding light weight training to my regimen, and finally looking long and hard at my diet and making the necessary changes to ward off diabeetus, gall bladder attacks, and get this flab shrinking. It’s actually a relief to have fast food completely gone, and I’m confident I’ve reached a point where my moon cycle won’t matter in my food decisions.

See you in a month.

Going back to school

Posted: June 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

No, I’m not getting a fresh degree, though that would be nice. This is naturally, given the blog, about food. You can buy the books and read til your brain’s tired, but until you put the good habits into practice, you’re nowhere.

In spite of a new kitten taking quite the edge off my mood swings, I can tell that I’m in the good ole progesterone end of my cycle, because my eating habits go to crap. We’ve eaten out twice with little argument from me. I won’t even discuss where because it’s embarrassing. I’m about to talk about transparency, but…

I have a cousin who, in part thanks to allergies cropping up in her small ones, is a proponent of local, non-GMO, gluten-free, etc. foods. She posts stuff on FB that’s eye-opening, and is probably the one who turned me onto Food Babe. Different site, but this morning the article was about a chemical that is used on fast food as an anti-foaming agent, which in high temperatures (like, oh, say, FRYING) turns into formaldehyde and other fun stuff. Oh, it’s also found in Silly Putty. Yay, food science!

So I got curious and decided to hit the websites to see just how bad my eating has been the last 2 days. I already know the calories and sodium are off the charts; it was time to dig deeper.

Predictably, the results sucked ass. Not only did I eat yoga mat last night, but there were plenty of other chemicals I couldn’t identify, and they fry in corn oil. But the night before was even worse. That particular website exhibits a rather impressive lack of transparency regarding the ingredients in their food. They have a page dedicated to allergies and sensitivities, but if you want to know EVERYTHING that’s put into their stuff, you’re screwed. Maybe I’m missing it, but I’m pretty good at navigating sites and nary a PDF or page was found.

Screw embarrassment and my selective dietary choices…I’m done. I was so happy with myself the other day, when I was hungry, out running errands, pondered a quick bite at McD’s and realized I plain couldn’t walk up to the counter…and then I eat sketchy garbage 2 nights in a row???!!! PMS and laziness can no longer be excuses. I’m through purchasing from anywhere with a drive-thru.

The yoga mat feeders are Arby’s. The non-transparent asshats are Zaxby’s.

This weekend, I have 10 sites to knock out and then the books come out. I’m meal planning for the week.

5622 (Part three)

Posted: June 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I can’t decide if it’s intelligence or cowardice that’s keeping me from signing up for another race. Realized I made that decision between race posts, and it bears study. I’d love to sign up for another 5K walk this minute. They are fun activities that force me to push myself. But I haven’t been training for them, and that shit has to be remedied first. Making exercise habit is key.

It definitely was a turning point for me, this last race. I’m noticing my largesse more now. How sitting down balloons out my midsection, giving me a nice Michelin-tire-guy look. How it doesn’t suck in or retract as much as I’d like to think it does when I’m standing up straight. If anything, my body image is getting a reality check, and that’s not a bad thing, so long as I can keep the negative self-talk under control. You don’t like how you look and feel, Melanie? Good, then eat healthier and go take a damn walk.

I’m starting a modified Paleo regimen this week. It has to be gradual, because we’re late getting the shopping done and there’s some bad stuff in the house still. Planning is so key to success when you’re making big changes. Otherwise, you get one lazy evening after a long day at work, and you’re calling the local pizza joint. If I have to lay out breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a meal plan for the next week, or month, then so be it, because we’ve been eating out a lot lately and that has to change again too.

This is actually a funny, though it won’t read as one. I mentioned to Les that I was making changes (no need to even place the word “again” in that statement), and I gave him my pat responses of “you’ll see, it’s gonna be awesome, I’m turning over another new leaf!” And with a trace of pure devilment, he responds, “yea, that leaf is dead, sweetheart.” I busted out laughing, and said back, “nice!” He didn’t mean it mean, I swear…this is a guy who can’t say no to me about anything, whether it’s a latte or a new purse, and unfortunately, I play on that occasionally when the urge to eat badly hits fierce. But ultimately, he wants me to be healthy and happy, of course, and he supports me in any endeavor.

So much of this quest involves being kind to myself. My last doc visit was a phone consult just after Mother’s Day, where I told him I was in a great place food-wise, felt focused, making plans…..and proceeded to then blow off health for the better part of another month. But I’m playing the long game, and these changes are going to stick. My body tells me in no uncertain terms now when I’m abusing it, and I’m finally listening.

5622 (continued)

Posted: June 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

CaptureBIt’s been almost a week and I’m still sorting out my emotions from my latest conquest. I’ve spent most of this week recovering in one way or another. I’ve run myself down eating way too many carbs and then wondering why I’m ornery, and my body was very pissed at me.

The first two days were all-over body aches. The third day, my lower back went out and the arthritis in my right foot flared up. The back pain was significant, but did not return after I took my last happy pill, thank goodness. The arthritis has been slower to go down, but it wasn’t affecting mobility and it’s almost back to normal now.

The bruises from the fall showed up a day or two after the walk, a big one on my upper back thigh, one on my upper arm, and the hilariously random boob bruise. They’re yellowing. I’m also recognizing the back thing was probably from the fall. You only have to run me over with the truck three or four times before these things sink in. Les was actually the one to suggest that back and fall may be connected; I was like, what fall? I can be very blonde sometimes.

Wake-up calls, much? Yes, several.

Ian: “Yea, but see, the scientists were so busy figuring out whether or not they could, that they never stopped to think if they should.”
Paraphrased, Jurassic Park

When you’ve been overweight for more than a decade, you want it gone yesterday. You don’t want to put in the work; you just want to wake up and not ache somewhere, to be able to look in a mirror without shame. I’ve been signing up for these races, because I know I’m mentally strong enough to push through them, even if I shouldn’t be walking in the damn things. I’m through signing up for a pinch. It’s time to actually put in the work.

Then the pictures came. There was a professional photographer at the finish line. One or two of them are actually really nice shots; I’m still deciding if I’ll help fund his kid’s college tuition by purchasing a digital copy (seriously, what a racket!). But I also suffer from what I call reverse anorexia, or what the experts would probably call body dysmorphic syndrome. I can look in the mirror, and since the mirrors in our house aren’t full-length, can leave the house thinking I look pretty nice. Until I catch my reflection in a store window or something and realize I’ve taken middle-aged fat dork to art form status. As you can see, I also still have a problem with negative self-talk.

So I look at the pictures, and he caught me nicely in one or two shots…I’ve got my big silly grin on and I look triumphant, rather than shredded, because that last hill was downright evil, but as I look at myself in my shorts and nice top (huh, I do rock that color!), half covered in red clay, my main thought is damn. I really am that big.

It was an AHA moment, an honest-to-goodness one. I literally looked at those pics and thought, wait, I look like a fat person. Did I mention I’ve been this big for more than a decade? Oh, I did….well, WHERE THE HELL HAVE I BEEN ALL THAT TIME?????

I’ve been surviving on myths: I can exercise without changing my diet and still lose. I can fall off the wagon and climb back on and still lose. I can do these walks without training for them first. I can, I can, I can….except I can’t. Turning point time. Again.

It’s not like my body hasn’t given me plenty of signs. When I OD on carbs now, it directly affects my mood. My gall bladder was very angry with my overeating last fall. I get blinding headaches when my candida is up. Pretty sure I’ve got enough self-flagellation going on. About time to actually do something about it.

To be continued…


Posted: June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


Denial is hilarious. I think a small part of me just didn’t want to think about the pain I’d be in from this sucker, so I talked as if it would be no big deal. To a small extent, it is no big deal. I’m hard-headed, and the all-over body aches are just something to slog through, that will hopefully be almost done tomorrow. This is coupled with the part of my brain that feels I deserve whatever pain I’m in, because I didn’t train, because I’m large, because…

There are so many factors to sort through mentally. The biggies:

• I finished a 6K!!! Hot damn and hallelujah!

• It was a difficult course. They used mountain biking trails for the bulk of the run, and Charlotte has had rain recently, so we’re talking narrow, muddy paths in the woods with roots ev.ry.where. Unless you’re a pro runner, it wasn’t a course for personal records. My newfound hiking experience has taught me to walk with my head down, watching my step, and that was invaluable. We joked that it was a Tough Mudder for fatties.

• The first quarter mile was in direct sunlight and then we hit the woods. We bottlenecked there, which we assumed was because the path narrowed, until we got to the sign that said “Advanced Terrain”. This proved to be a short, red clay, slippery drop of rather laughable descent. If I’d had the knees, jumping down the damn thing might’ve been a smarter move. Instead, my impatience took my legs down one side, where my feet quickly went out from under me and I fell rather spectacularly (in front of people….always a blast). It felt like arms and legs everywhere, but actually, if there’s a correct way to fall, I nailed it, because I got up quickly and assessed and discovered zero pain. I was probably a half mile down the path before I realized I really should’ve blown a knee on that sucker. I was covered in clay for the rest of the walk (serious badge of honor territory in my head), but I didn’t hurt myself! Even now, 2 days later, there’s just scratches on one arm and minor bruising on one upper arm and boob. It’s friggin’ remarkable, given my size and agility (winkwink), that I pulled that off. I could have climbed Everest after that nonsense.

• They didn’t post mile markers on the course. This turned out to be a godsend. The walk would’ve felt a lot longer if they’d noted miles 1, 2, and 3.

• Carrying Camelbaks was brilliant and only a minor nuisance. Loved having my hands free and being able to blow past the water stations, though the desire to dump a cup over my head was palpable at the last one. The woods were bliss, but the sun stripped the hide right off you otherwise. Lil Sis didn’t wear sunscreen and is learning her lesson. I wore sunscreen and miraculously, it stayed on for the most part. Should’ve reapplied midday though on my face, as it’s becoming a poster child for sun damage and not in an adorable, freckled way, but rather a weird, splotchy way.

• The Camelbak also proved brilliant since we hit the Brew Festival at the Whitewater Center afterward, armed with cards that proved to be for a total of 8 mini beers apiece. That could have been a huge mistake on my part, if I hadn’t hydrated well during the race. I normally get headachy after exertion unless I’m really diligent. The stars aligned Saturday though, and I was able to enjoy some damn nice, icy-cold, draft hops after beating the crap out of my body.

The endorphins stuck around the rest of the day and I walked around with that big silly grin on my face. Dinner was seriously scrumptious, and my body didn’t hurt much at all. The next morning was a different story, but I slogged through it. Today will be much of the same, but I’m hoping it gets over itself tomorrow, because I’m ready to get serious again. And sign up for my next race.

Food for thought

Posted: June 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Seriously, who came up with that phrase, and where can I go to punch them in the throat?

I get so angry with myself for my food habits. I don’t want this to be a lifelong struggle. But the fact is that I’m killing myself with food. Or more specifically, food-like substances.

I do eat much healthier since moving to WNC. I’m making more things from scratch, eating less packaged and processed foods. That is happening.

But then I get lazy or hormonal or just can’t deal and eat from a can. Or a box. Or the frozen section. Or, gods help me, the Zaxby’s drive-thru.

Original reason I came on here this morning:

Why? Because I popped 2 Advil rather automatically this morning to take the edge off the headache I woke up with. Said headache was entirely caused by the pint of Haagen Daz that was eaten right before bedtime the night before.

Was it worth it? Absolutely not. I’m so over this. I inhaled that ice cream knowing full well I would likely wake up hungover. But we have family in town this week, and I’m not even trying to fight the stress eating that’s occurring as a result.

Does that make it OK? Of course not. I need better coping mechanisms. I need to detach and go for a walk, or find a quiet spot to meditate, or ANYTHING other than eat.

The good news: I’m going to make an effort to eat the salad stuff in the fridge this week instead of letting it languish. The bad news: family ain’t leaving until Friday. Time to find my strength, think about what goes into my body, and make the effort toward health.

Lil Sis and I are walk/running in the 6K this coming Saturday. 5 days from now. It’s going to be seriously painful, I reckon. Good. I need the shakabuku.