Sugar-Free, Part 3: The Conclusion

Well folks, it’s here! The final few days of our 1 month goal of sugar-free eating!  It was real hard in the beginning, got a bit easier, then harder again, and then it just started feeling completely fairly normal.  People have been asking me about the results.  I have lost 7 lbs total.  To be fair, I’m not sure how much of that is from going sugar-free since I have also kicked up my workouts a few notches and have been going to the gym 5 days a week (and have actually gotten to the point where I love working out again).  I’m sure it’s some combination of the two.  A friend of mine suggested that I take a before and after picture to encourage me at the end of all of this.   I’m glad I did because I can see a difference (especially in my face)! Can you?

 

Jordan and I have had several people tell us that we have “inspired” them to start going sugar free too.  That always makes me laugh because I’m not really sure what inspired them since I pretty much complain about it all the time.  It’s not like I’ve been one of those people who is all passionate about the health benefits and is super convinced that this is the type of lifestyle to be lived and says things like, “I feel so great! I have so much energy, it’s awesome!”  No, instead I say things like, “Dur, I want a brownie right now but instead I’ll eat a dumb cucumber.” Or, “I hate this stupid diet.  I might as well eat paper with milk poured over it for breakfast because that’s what mine tastes like anyway.”  And then people are all like, “Woooooow.  That is so inspirational! I’m going to do it too!”  If I’m that inspirational when I complain, imagine what I could do in this world when I say positive things…

Anyway, I’ve lost weight, made converts across Chapel Hill, and am considering a career as a complaining motivational speaker.  The big question remains: Now that the 1 month experiment is ending, will we continue to eat sugar free?  Here is a conversation that Jordan and I had about it yesterday:

Me: I will definitely be glad when this is over in a few days!
Jordan: Yea, but I think we should maintain some variation of it, like we’ve talked about.  I think the key is to set some ground rules.  We’ve talked about going back to our cereals for breakfast but since that is 1/3 of our meals, maybe we should do something like eat less of them and mix them with plain cherios and maybe 1 day a week we can just eat the cereal we want; lunch and dinners are sugar free but we can choose one of those meals per week to cheat on, and…
Me: Whoa whoa whoa.  Back up.  I don’t want any “rules.” That’s what I’ve been looking forward to the most about completing our 1 month goal: No more set “rules”!  I think we should say that we are going to significantly cut back on sugar, we know what to look for now.  We know how to eat healthy and we know what’s bad for us.  If friends have us over and there is dessert, we have the freedom to eat it.  If I want a glass of white wine, I’ll drink it.  If we meet someone at say, Chipotle, you better bet your left big toe I’m going to order a burrito bowl!  Why don’t we just kind of play it by ear?  That sounds way better.
Jordan:  Well I think it would be helpful to have some sort of structure.

Can you tell which of us in this marriage is the “rule follower” and which one of us is the rebel? ;).  It always adds a fun dynamic to our marriage.

Anyway, the final conclusion is this: We are going to be sugar free cheaters.  At this point, we’ve made so much progress that it really feels like it would be a shame to quit while we’re ahead.  At the same time, continually depriving ourselves of the things we love most is bound to end in injury or insanity.  And major binging at some point.  So we decided that we will still continue to do our grocery shopping pretty much the same as we have been, eliminating sugar.   But we can cheat.  For breakfast.  For white wine on weekends.  For dessert with friends when they have us over.  When eating out.    These things don’t happen every day, so it is a good way to keep our sugar intake in moderation.  Except for breakfast, that does happen everyday.  But I’ll tell you what’s not going to happen  everyday: Trader Joes O’s for breakfast.  Remember the comment I made earlier about eating paper with milk poured over it? Yea that.  (Don’t worry, I still love you Trader Joes! xoxo)

Another reason we want to continue some form of it is that when we have cheated, we have felt terrible.  T.e.r.r.i.b.l.e.  that is how people continue on a diet like this; as much as you think you want to “go back,” your body actually loves you for eating clean and rejects the bad stuff once you eat it again.  So that is definitely the key motivator to us to keep on keepin on.  And besides, I have learned to make delicious dinners still.  I also have enjoyed eating tuna, spinach salads for lunch with a smoothie.  So continuing with those things won’t be too hard.

One thing that hasn’t been so great about this diet though is that we have consumed a considerable amount of artificial sweeteners, which I’m not so sure is good for us either.  Yea it doesn’t contain calories and make us gain weight, but it kind of freaks me out that there just isn’t enough research available to know whether or not we’re like, you know, destroying our bodies with splenda or something.  (And if splenda destroys our bodies, well… I’m as good as gone).  So, I think a next step for us will be to start (gasp!) eliminating artificial sweeteners too.  Does anyone have any suggestions for how to do that?  How do you sweeten your coffee?  And I LOOOVE diet sodas, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to get over that one real quick :/.

I’ll end by giving you a couple of recipes from dinners this past week that we really enjoyed, in case you’re one of those people who has been so inspired by our misery ;-):

Shrimp Feta Pasta (recipe from my awesome friend Taylor):
Ingredients:
12 0z jar of roasted red peppers
one bunch of scallions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1.5 lbs of shrimp, peeled & De-veined
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt & pepper
8 oz feta cheese
angel hair pasta (I used whole grain rice pasta)

Drain the peppers and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Combine onions, peppers, garlic, and shrimp.  Add 2 tbsp oil, 1.5 tsp pepper, and 1/5 tsp salt.  mix together.  Place in baking dish and top with feta.  Make sure the feta is on top.  Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the feta begins to brown (about 20 minutes).  Serve over pasta.

Mango Chicken Quesadillas: recipe here.  I made these with whole grain tortillas and ditched the tomato sauce (I just seasoned the chicken with garlic salt, pepper, and a little bit of red pepper).

And just to make your mouth water, here is a picture of the Savory Southwestern Salad I gave you the recipe for last week (we ate it twice in 1 week.  I’m all about variety,  I don’t eat the same dinner that frequently.  So you know it’s got to be good!) :

Sugar-free, it’s been real and it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun.

KM.

Grace.

Grace found me 16 years ago in my bedroom late one night after youth group.
Grace picked me up my sophomore year of college after I had fallen really hard.
Grace brought me to UNC-Chapel Hill to do Greek college campus ministry for 4 years.
Grace gave me my husband.
Grace brought me our daughter.
Grace is my daughter’s middle name.
Grace brings me each new day, gives me each breath I take, and showers me with blessings that I do not and never have deserved.
Grace has given me every thought and word on every post of this blog.

Grace is a part of every single moment of my life, and yet it is so easy to forget. To overlook. To take for granted.

I’ve recently started listening to some free seminary courses from RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) titled, “Grace in the Church” by Steve Brown. My head is throbbing from all of the concepts that I cannot wrap it around. My heart is bursting with gratitude for all that I am learning and for all of who God is. My memory is being dusted off as I think back through all the marks of grace in my life. Grace is such a beautiful word, a refreshing concept. Yet we are all so resistant to it. Because Grace requires us to admit that we need it. That we are unable to accomplish things on our own. That we are desperate and in need of help. Let’s be honest, as human beings, that is just not our thing. We are attracted to stories of people who rise to the top, pulling themselves up by their boot straps. We’re drawn to motivational speakers and self help books. Churches that preach legalism (“make yourself a better person”) are way more popular then churches who preach grace. Grace is the gift of salvation and freedom we are given freely by absolutely no earning of our own. There is nothing that we can do “good enough” to earn the favor of God, and nothing that we can do “bad enough” to make Him turn away.

In thinking about this the past couple of days I’ve been reflecting back on my story of grace. You know, where I was without it, how I first encountered it, and how powerful it was in those moments I felt I needed it most. As I thought back through this story, I realized that the further I have gotten into my Christian faith, the less I have grasped the concept of grace, I think. You see, before I came back to Christ in college, I was a mess with a capital “M.” I had screwed up. A lot. In a lot of ways. I had become a Christian when I was 11 years old in my own bedroom one night after hearing the gospel clearly presented at my church youth group. And for the next 4 years, I cared SO much about that new faith! I watered it like a precious little plant I was desperate to see grow. I went on missions trips with my church, brought my bible to cheerleading practice, and would tell my classmates about this Jesus that I loved. But then something happened. I turned 16.

Suddenly I started noticing boys, and they started noticing me. I got my driver’s license, which offered me all sorts of new freedom, and new friends. I started caring about being popular and making people like me. I wanted to be a cool kid and started dating one of the “popular” trouble makers at my high school. I learned that there were all sorts of fun pleasures out there that seemed to interfere with the message of Christian faith I was receiving. At church I was hearing “don’t do this,” “don’t do that,” “don’t EVER do this,” and “stay away from that.” It seemed like way too many rules for me to follow. Just hearing them made me feel exhausted! On the other hand I had this new, exciting world around me making me false promises of love and worth. It was telling me, “do this, and people will love you!” “sleep with him, and you will be desirable, secure, and protected,” “drink with them, and you will have acceptance.” “Dress like this and you will get attention.” “Look like this, and people will like you and want to be like you.” I totally fell for it. And so that’s what my life became about for the next 4 years.

By the time I reached my sophomore year of college, I started growing weary. I kept chasing these things and chasing them, but they never seemed to deliver what they promised. I thought I was truly loved and safe as I gave my whole self away, to find that he made a list of all the girls he wanted to sleep with. I was not high up on the list. I fell apart. But then I picked up the pieces and gave them to someone else for 2 years. He cheated. And lied. And did other horrible things I will not mention. I flaunted myself around with thick coated self tanner, high heels, and the cutest clothes I could find during sorority recruitment. Inwardly begging for a group to want me and sick to my stomach at the thought that they wouldn’t. I drank the night away and got an underage drinking ticket on my initiation night in hopes to impress the older girls and earn respect. I would open my bible, missing the God I loved back when I was 13 but would immediately shut it. I knew I couldn’t live 2 different lives, and I figured I had already messed up enough that the decision was made for me. I had no choice but to continue to live in these chains that bound me to my need for acceptance, security and love.

That’s when grace found me. Throughout that whole 4 years I often felt something tugging at me inside, but I kept running away. Jesus loved me before I had done these things and while I was doing them, and wanted so much more for me. And He showed that to me one Saturday evening after I had broken up with who I thought was the love of my life but turned out to be a fraud. I fell on my campus apartment floor and just sobbed my heart out. I cried out to God and told Him I wanted Him back. I begged Him to just take my life and do with it whatever He wants. I had messed up bad, hit the bottom of my rope, and was desperate for His help. I could do nothing on my own to make up for the things I had done and the way I had been living my life for myself, as my own god. I needed grace. Grace held my fragile soul that night, and I had no idea just how much my life was about to change the moment I got up off that floor.

6 years later, I think back to that day and feel a bit of longing. Because in that moment, I really grasped my need for grace and in doing so, saw it’s full beauty. Outwardly, one may look at my life now and say that I’ve become a “better person” since becoming a Christian. Don’t be fooled. I may actually be a worse person. I look cleaned up on the outside, so it’s easier to believe that I am on the inside as well. And for that reason, I easily forget about grace and go on living as if I can do this on my own. As if I’ve “got it” now. I forget that I am a mostly evil person with the proclivity for good, not the other way around. It is only, only by God’s beautiful, loving grace that I am who I am and where I am today. I am a sinner. Saved by grace. I would only continue to make a mess of my life (and still may at times), were it not for His sweet love for me.

Grace is this: that God became man, the most humbling thing He could do, living the life that I could not, dying the death that I deserved, rising from the grave, conquering death and wiping away my destiny of eternal separation from God and giving me eternal life with Him in return. His blood shed signed my release from the debt that I very justly owed.

I earned nothing. He gave everything.

As I reflect on this with a grateful heart today, I am reminded of a poem I wrote soon after that night on my dorm room floor (You can read it here). May my heart reflect this perspective today and as I go through the rest of my life. Lord, save me from myself. May I care more about who You are than who I am becoming. May I care more about my daughter’s grasp of grace than I do about her “good” behavior and decisions.

Grace, don’t let me go. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; take my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”


Sidenote: You may be surprised by how candid I was in this post with some of the things in my life. I debated whether or not to be so open and honest. In the end I decided that it is appropriate, as it highlights God’s grace in my life. If it changed your opinion of me, then you probably needed your opinion of me changed anyway. I am nothing if not a redeemed vessel that Jesus lives and works in and through.

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Sugar-Free, Part 2: I Want To Take A Shower in a Chocolate Fountain

On Sunday evening when having dinner with some friends, Jordan noticed a chocolate fondue fountain in the corner of the room.  When he pointed it out, our friends offered that we could borrow it sometime.  Jordan responded something along the lines of, “maybe at the end of this crazy sugar free diet.  At that point, I’ll probably just pour it over me like a shower!”  He may or may not have been kidding.

We are now 2 weeks into our sugar free diet.  You can read more about week 1 and why we’re doing this diet here.   At the end of that post, I was feeling good and getting the hang of it!  But this week has been harder again.  I can’t tell you how mad I am at food.  Mad that I need it.  Mad that I can’t have the kind I want.  Mad that the kind of food I can eat doesn’t taste as good.  Mad that in America everything has sugar in it.  Mad that what I’m eating doesn’t.  Mad that food has this much of a hold on me.

As I’m writing this, I am drooling sitting at Bruegger’s Bagels with only a diet coke.  Why I put myself through this kind of torture, I have no clue.  Just the smell of the warm bagels is enough to make me feel high.  But I am surrounded by temptation wherever I go.  Every sign for a Chick-fil-a makes me want to beat my head against the steering wheel.  As a matter of fact, today I drove by a tire store that kind of looked like a fast food restaurant and found myself thinking, “Mmm, I want to eat there!”  You’ve never heard of sugar-free induced hallucinations?  Well, they’re real.  I keep waiting to reach the point where I feel so much energy and feel great being sugar free that everyone tells me I will, but I have yet to get there.  Perhaps it hasn’t been long enough?  Maybe it takes a month or more of doing it to get to that point?  Or maybe my body is unique and just needs sugar :).  I’ll let you chose you’re theory on that one.

But I keep coming back to the thought that this is something I am doing by choice and there are so many people in the world living with food restrictions that are certainly not of their choosing.   Many eat rice and/or beans for every meal, and here I am whining that I can’t have a bagel or dessert.  “Western World Problems,” right?  Seriously, though.  If you were to ask me what has been hard in my life lately, I would say fasting from sugar and from self tanner (which I am also doing again).  Can you imagine if I told that to someone living in Haiti, Uganda, the poorest parts of the US, or someone who is losing a loved one or is fighting against cancer?  I hate being pale and I love eating sugar but can’t, wah wah wah, my life is so hard.  Some people don’t know where their next meal will come from or if they’ll even have one, and here I am pouting because I can’t eat pizza.  Next thing you know I’ll be in one of those commercials with a sad face while they explain my condition, “She has pale skin… she can’t even eat a burger! This is how she is living each day…” and people from all over the world will start  donating me self tanners and sugar filled food items because they feel bad and, you know, that’s what’s important in life.

Today I was studying in Ephesians 5 and it really struck me when Paul talked about thanksgiving as the antidote of sin.  I act like I deserve so many things, but if I realize what I really deserve (eternal separation from God) and think about how God through Christ took away what I deserve to give me a life and eternity that I did not and could not earn out of His abundant grace, then I would live my life full of thanksgiving.  Humbled by overwhelming gratitude.  And it would likely choke out all the complaining I do about things,  like sugar-free eating.  I have so many food choices.  No one should feel bad for me for cutting out sugar.  Isn’t it crazy that Americans probably have the most to be thankful for with all of our material blessings and freedom of choices, and yet we’re pretty much the biggest complainers?  In the past when I spent time in orphanages and working with the poor in Mexico I was struck by how thankful and joyful they were.  Yet spend a day with me, and you will surely know about all the things that bothered me that day.  I’m talking really hard stuff- like the AC not cooling down fast enough, running out of creamer for my coffee, or eating another salad for dinner.  Yeesh.

So in the spirit of being thankful in the midst of this diet, I am going to share with you two beautiful recipes that have helped me curb cravings and enjoy my food :):

First, a sweet friend of mine made me these Peanut butter Lara bars with peanut butter, dates, and oats and it really helped curb my cravings for sweets (and I love me some PB)!  I made more on my own and they’ve been a great snack during the day.

Second, this week we did “salad week” where we’ve been making salads for dinner every night.  I’ve tried to make it fun by coming up with creative salads and soliciting the help of facebook friends.  One that I decided to call “Savory Southwestern Salad” ended up turning out SO DELICIOUS!  We may even eat it again tomorrow night 🙂 Here’s what we put in it:

  • romaine lettuce
  • green onion
  • diced red onion
  • chopped avocado
  • grilled chicken
  • black beans
  • pico de gallo salsa
  • reduced fat cilantro dressing (from Trader Joes…and sugar free!)
  • pepper jack cheese
  • light sour cream

It was heavenly.  My mouth is watering thinking about it.

Thanks again for trekking with me through this journey!  I hope to bring you encouraging updates in the next 2 weeks.  We’re halfway there!
KM

Sugar-free is… The Way to Be?

If you are what you eat

then I must be sugar

which means I am sweet!

That could have been my song a little over a week ago, before I decided to (gulp!) cut sugar out of my diet for a month!  Many people have been asking me about this new sugar-free journey I’ve embarked on, so I thought it would be appropriate to share some more about it with my readers.

Why sugar free? (you might ask)  While I would love to say that I’ve gone all health nut and organic and believe this is what is best for my body blah, blah, blah, I have to be honest and tell you that there is really only one reason that I am going sugar-free: weight loss.  I’ve got about 15ish lbs of baby weight left to lose and I’m just ready to do it.  God has been teaching me a lot of lessons in my issues with body image so I’m ultimately thankful that the stubborn 15 lbs have stuck around for awhile, but now it’s time for them to go!  There are so many other diets out there though, so why sugar free? (I know, I’m so good at reading your mind and knowing what questions you would to ask me if we were talking to each other over coffee).  Well for one thing, I know that cutting sugar out for weight loss really does work, I’ve seen it happen in other women’s lives.  So, there’s that.  But I am also still nursing Riley, so that eliminates many diets from the list for me.  When you’re nursing you should eat healthy, but you want to be careful not to cut back too many calories or fat because your body and your baby need it.  So I figured going sugar free was a way that I could lose weight but not worry that it would affect nursing at all.  I am simply cutting out 1 ingredient that is not good for me or for Riley anyway.

If you’ve ever looked at nutrition labels in the grocery store (you know, if that’s like your Saturday morning hobby or something), you will have noticed that (in America) sugar is pretty much added to EVERYTHING!!  So you might also be wondering, how in the world do I do this whole sugar-free thing?  It is definitely a challenge, that’s for sure!  There are different extremes to which people do sugar free.  I am of the non-extremist sort.  Meaning: I still eat fruit because it’s natural and, let’s be real, I’m already restricted enough with sugar-free so I’m not about to cut fruit out too! Basically, what I can eat is: vegetables (except for potatoes.  Also, don’t you ever wish there were a diet where they were off limits? No, just me?), fruit, protein, most dairy, meat, and whole grain bread or pasta (with 1g or less of sugar). There are so many different books and blogs out there on how to go sugar-free; I personally have been using “Sugar Busters!”  A friend lent the book to me but what I like about this specific one is that it teaches you why it is beneficial to cut sugar out of your diet but allows you to eat fruit, anything with 1g or less of sugar, dark chocolate (if it has a large cocoa content), and BONUS: dry red wine!

What do I think so far? (So nice of you to ask!)  Honestly, days 1-3 were miserable.  A friend of mine who had gone sugar-free for a few months earlier this year warned me that in the beginning I would probably feel a little under the weather, and she was right!  For the first few days I had a headache and just felt SO grumpy and lethargic!  It seemed like anything with sugar consumed my thoughts and I even found myself drooling over a Reece’s commercial and switched channels while groaning.  It is pretty sad to think about how much sugar my body must be used to consuming daily if my body was feeling the detox so strongly only a couple of days into the diet!  Here are some example of facebook statuses of mine during those first few days:

“I never liked sugar anyway. I’d much rather eat spinach, eggs and carrots.” – a liar

Jordan
(who is also going sugar-free with me): babe, what can I eat for a snack?
me: umm…hummus, hard boiled eggs, veggies, or…. (looking around), string cheese!
Jordan: … 😦

Day 2 of sugar-free and I was already missing peanut butter cherios so bad that I straight up added sugar-free, natural peanut butter to plain cherios for breakfast. It was disgusting, I case you’re wondering. Apparently adding 1 gross item to another gross item does not equal a delicious meal. Who knew?

I made the mistake of wearing “warm vanilla sugar” scented perfume today… now I want to eat my wrist.

That is straight up drug fiend talk right there.  But then after the first few days, it got a lot better.  Here was my status on day 5:

Day 5 of sugar-free has actually been ok. It’s getting much better :). I’m getting used to the food choices I have to make, actually starting to enjoy most of them, feel like I am eating “clean” for the first time, and am not as grumpy as I was in the beginning.

oh yea, and we cheated today. So there’s that…

Ever since day 5 I’ve been feeling fine and, like I said, feel like I’m actually eating “clean.”  Yes we did cheat on day 5, but that is simply because some family friends in Richmond had invited Jordan and I over for dinner, not knowing about our diet.  We weren’t going to be rude!  I actually made it through the dinner sugar-free (I just didn’t eat the rice) but couldn’t be rude enough to resist the warm oatmeal raisin cookies and decaf coffee with sugar that they offered… (why did I just describe that?  Now I may or may not be drooling again).  No but really, I actually am stating to like it a bit.  Or am better able to tolerate it.  Whatever.  But the best part is… I am already seeing results! 🙂  We’re only a week in, but my clothes are already starting to fit a bit loosely.  I bought a pair of shorts I love a few weeks ago that had fit me perfect then, but just in this past week have gotten to the point of needing a belt.  And Jordan noticed too!  No, not in a “honey do you think I look skinny?  Or fat?” where I back him into a corner way, he just told me yesterday that he can tell a difference in a week already.  All this to say, I’m actually (gulp again!) thinking of doing this for more than a month now, maybe 2 or 3!  I figure, if it takes a couple of weeks to detox then why turn right back around and put the stuff back in my body?  Besides, by that point I will be pretty used to living like this, so might as well just keep going for a little longer, right? 😉

OK, OK, but what the heck do I eat each day?  Good question.  A couple of days into the diet I told Jordan, “I am 100% sure I am going to lose weight on this diet because not only am I eliminating sugar, I am just eating less in general because nothing I’m allowed to eat actually sounds appealing to me!”  It was true, I started eating out of necessity rather than just “ohh that looks/sounds good, I want that!”  But I am starting to get to the point where I like some of it.  Or I’m just getting used to it.  Either way.  We’ve actually been eating delicious dinners and lunch isn’t too bad, it’s breakfast and snacks that are the hardest.  Traveling is hard too.  Did you know that even Subway doesn’t offer one single thing that is sugar-free?!   You have to be careful with salads too because they LOAD sugar into salad dressings.  So sugar-free living definitely requires a lot of planning.  You can’t necessarily just “grab something on the road.”  I did find that Panera is helpful though.  On their website you can look up how much sugar is in everything, and they have some tasty options that are sugar-free!

Anyway, here are some examples of things we’ve been eating:

Breakfast (the worst):

  • plain Cheerios (blah), or with added strawberries (eh), natural peanut butter (a food atrocity), or bananas (pretty ok.  Bearable at least)
  • Whole grain English muffin with natural peanut butter (yuck)
  • in an attempt to not hate breakfast I am going to try making a breakfast casserole-ish thing for the next few days with Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough, eggs, turkey sausage, and cheddar cheese.  We’ll see how it turns out!

Lunch:

  • Salad (my favorite is spinach with berries, goat cheese, and turkey) with homemade salad dressing
  • a sandwich or panini on whole grain bread with turkey, avocado and cheese
  • On Sunday I got a mango salad from Qdoba (just didn’t eat the shell) and it was delish!

Dinner (the best):

  • salmon with roasted veggies and whole grain garlic bread
  • taco casserole (I layered crushed tortilla chips, taco seasoned ground beef, black beans, tomatoes, salsa, and cheddar and topped it with Trader Joe’s light sour cream)
  • talapia with roasted veggies (we eat a lot of fish.  And roasted veggies)
  • grilled pork, green beans, tomato & mozerella, and sliced fruit
  • tonight I made this yummy Chicken Broccoli Cheese Pasta Bake!
  • A few things on next weeks menu: Chicken mango quesadillas, shrimp & feta over whole grain pasta, and roasted sausage, peppers & sweet potatoes!

Snacks:

  • pitas with hummus
  • tortilla chips & salsa
  • whole grain Melba toast with pimento cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • string cheese
  • cucumbers with tomato bruschetta sauce & cheese on top
  • This past weekend my mother-in-law made us sugar free brownies that turned out pretty good!  I’m going to make some this weekend for when we host a dinner get-together, and I’m thinking of attempting this homemade sugar-free icing to top them 🙂  A nice little treat!

Another thing that I think will be good for me in doing this diet is that it is making me practice delayed gratification.  Honestly, there are not  many areas in my life where I have to (or chose to) do this.  A friend of mine was recently was talking to me about teaching her 3 year old son delayed gratification and I thought, “Crap.  If I want to teach this to my kids one day, I need to practice a little bit of it myself!”  So there you go.  For the one month of this diet (or 2 or 3) I will be forced to exercise some self-control in an area that I normally just do what I want.  And as I do this, it is so humbling to think about the fact that I am choosing these eating restrictions when so many others have no choice.  Poverty, accessibility, and health problems restrict many people around the world from eating whatever they want.  I hope that as I continue to ponder this reality, I will pray for those people.

Blogging and facebook exchanges about this whole thing have been very helpful accountability for week 1!  As more people know I’m doing this, my motivation grows in wanting to follow through!  Thanks to everyone who has been so thoughtful, encouraging, and interested in this journey :).

KM

Living like the Truman Show

On our Nashville date

This past weekend while we were vacationing in Nashville, Jordan and I had the opportunity to go out on a date night sans baby, thanks to our wonderful friends David and Julie :).  We ended up going to this awesome restaurant & bar called Sambucca in the downtown area for dessert & wine (oh those blissful pre -sugar free days…).  It was a fun little 3 story, split-level place with live music and possibly the best dessert I have ever tasted in my entire life!

While we were enjoying the sugar, spirits, and social time together, I couldn’t help but notice that our waitress reminded me so much of a friend of mine.  Each time she came to check on us, I would think about this friend of mine: how she is a single mom with a son who is about to turn 1, about to finish grad school, has been looking for a job, is beautiful, hilarious, witty, and an excellent writer.  As I thought about this, our waitress started to become more of a person to me.  I wondered if she had any kids or if she was in school, and what her life story was.  It started to humble me that she was spending her evening serving us.  I wondered what she was going home to at the end of the night. We don’t usually think about people who serve us each day like this, do we?  At least I don’t, if I’m honest.  But this encounter with a waitress who looked like a real person that I know changed my perspective.  It made me think about something my husband often talks about that challenges me like crazy.

He says that we all live our lives as if they’re “The Truman Show.”  If you haven’t seen the movie, basically Jim Carrey plays a man (Truman) whose life is a reality show without him knowing.  All of the people in his life are actually hired actors and actresses who follow a script to form Truman’s life experiences and entertain the audience.   Although we may not admit it (or may have never thought about it), we live our lives like Truman.  We live as if every person that we encounter is simply an actor or actress playing a specific role in our own story.   Had our waitress not looked like my friend, she simply would have been an extra in the show of my life who served me wine and cheese cake.  She would have no mind, heart, soul or depth, but simply a role that presents her the task of carrying a plate and a glass and setting it before me with a smile on her face.  But that is not actually true of her.  She does have a mind, heart, soul and depth to her.  She has a life that almost certainly contains many joys, sorrows, victories and defeats.  She has interests, thoughts, and ideas.  There are people she cares about and places she loves to be.  In the same way, I am a person with a mind, heart and soul with my own joys, sorrows and cares.  Yet to her, I was likely one out of many customers that she served on one random night at work.  A forgettable face playing a tiny role in her show.

I wish I could stop thinking about myself so much.  I want to notice the people around me. That’s what Jesus did.  In the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) Jesus notices a random guy that no one else with him cares to pay attention to.  The text tells us that Zacchaeus was a tax collector, a wealthy man, and that he was short.  These sound like typical things we notice about or identify people as in our small encounters with them as they play small roles in our lives (Salesman, tall, average looking; or bank teller, blonde, well dressed).  But Jesus knew that there was much more to Zacchaeus then those few things, and he did the unexpected: he invited himself to dine with him!  And Zaccaeus came to know him, calling him “Lord.”  Instead of  overlooking Zaccheaus as a passerby like the others with him would, he stopped and noticed him.  He acknowledged him as a person (although others disapproved, since Zaccheaus was a tax collector and “sinner,” highly disliked  in that time) and dined with him.

I’m thankful that Jesus notices the people who I do not, and that he even noticed me (a sinner like Zaccheaus).  Each of us were created in God’s image (Genesis  1:26).  He knit us together  in the womb and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139).  Not just you and me but the woman who rang up my very necessary items at Target today, the man who scanned my ROO cup when I got my free refill, and the man who brought us our mail.

Covered in grace, I pray that Jesus would give me his eyes to see what he does in all of the whole, real people around me, living their stories and loved by the God who made them.