Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Day Book: Tuesday 5/30/17

Outside my window... it's cloudy and hot. I was out on the patio earlier this morning and it was very muggy with 88% humidity at 7:45 a.m.  It's supposed to rain this afternoon (keeping my fingers crossed) and indeed we seem to have chances of rain almost every day, which doesn't guarantee rain. but it's a little better than seeing sun icons for 10 days in a row!

I am thinking... that I have no idea where my daughter and I will be headed on Friday, when we're starting our week-long trip to possibly VA. I ought to talk to her about it and decide on at least how far we want to drive that day.  I also feel completely unmotivated to plan anything, it's so weird!  I just hope we don't get completely rained out... we need the rain down here but I don't want it wherever we'll be going!

I am thankful for... decaf coffee :)  It's nice to be able to have a couple of cups of a hot tasty drink without worrying about not sleeping at night!

From the learning rooms... it's summer vacation but Youngest Son is already hard at work on his French class, which he started yesterday. He's also been working on his summer projects for 10th grade: an English Honors reading project and his AP World History project.  Today he starts to volunteer at the library's Summer Reading Program.  Daughter isn't taking any classes but she is back to drawing and specifically studying anatomy to better draw human figures.  As for me, I keep on educating myself about the new diet that I'm following.

From the kitchen... I have NEWS: I've been doing the dishes every morning as soon as I wake up, for a whole week!  This allows me to spend time with Greg after dinner and then have at least part of my day without any dishes in the sink :)  So far, so good.  I've also baked chocolate chip banana bread for Youngest Son (he's the only one who eats it) and whole wheat bread for me (I'm going to freeze the slices so they don't go bad as I'm only allowing myself a tiny bit of bread).  I've been trying to eat about the same dinners as the rest of the family so I don't have to cook twice.  The bad news is that I've had a lot of food waste since I had to throw away a lot of the leftovers as no one is eating them!  I'm going to have to rethink how much I'm cooking, I suppose.

I am wearing... black yoga pants and a red V-neck T-shirt, walking shoes.

I am creating... a notebook to keep a bunch of diet-specific recipes that I'll be using a lot.

I am going... to probably have to pick up my son from the library this afternoon since it's supposed to rain at that time. Otherwise, I might drive to RaceTrac to get us Sodapalooza refills.

I am reading... I just started a free e-book from Amazon entitled "Changing Your Life Through Positive Thinking" (once again, inspired by Bless!).  I also downloaded a book from the library by an author that was recommended by Nan, "Back When We Were Grownups" by Anne Tyler.  I haven't started it yet as I also just started "Blindsighted" by Karin Slaughter but I'm barely a few pages into the book and I can already tell that I probably won't care for it.  It's happening to 99% of the books I've tried reading these past few months, it's frustrating.

I am hoping... that I get some enthusiasm for my week-long trip with Daughter before Friday!  Right now staying home and continuing my routine is much more appealing :(  Also that Princess's eye gets better before we leave, as she started having the same problem that Tabby Kitten had a couple of weeks ago. Instead of taking her to the vet's, I just started putting the eye medicine in her eye this morning as I had 1/2 a tube left over.

I am hearing... a kitten crying out behind my son's bedroom door.  He's the Cat Whisperer, all 6 cats desperately love him :)

Around the house... Daughter is still in bed. She's going to Busch Gardens with some friends this afternoon.  Youngest Son is occupying himself with his projects, YouTube, and painting his wargaming miniatures. Greg is at work.  The kittens are mostly taking their nap.  I'm about to get started on chores... well now I just realized that I meant to vacuum but the cats are asleep... so I'll wait until later on :)

One of my favorite things... my thrifted bread-related utensils: breadmaker, bread slicing guide, and bread keeper!

A few plans for the rest of the week... I've been exercising every day on my recumbent bike and I'm about to add 3 weekly sessions of strength training as well.  I'll be going grocery shopping tomorrow, and going to pick up my BFF and her kids from the airport on Thursday. And then Daughter and I leave on Friday for parts unknown. We should be gone a week.  Greg is persuaded we'll be back within a couple of days, lol.

Here's the picture I'm sharing... I really haven't been taking any great pictures so here is one that Greg took yesterday when he was kayaking on Lake Hammond in Lake Louisa's State Park:

Yep, he caught a fish!  It was a good size fish too but he threw it back because he had just
gotten there, it was hot, and he was planning on staying several more hours.  That fish got lucky.

Have a good week!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Diabetic Exchange Program: My New Diet

Disclaimer: I'm definitely NOT a health or medical expert. I'm relaying my own experience and research here, not advising you to do as I do:)  You probably should talk to your doctor about your own condition and diet, especially if you have been told that you need to control your carb grams.  This method of eating, as far as I can tell, is good for eating healthier but the amount of carbs are still pretty high considering that some people are advised by their doctor to only eat 45 carb grams.  I have been following the plan faithfully for 4 days and consistently been consuming about 200 grams of carbs a day, according to My Fitness Pal. However, there is a difference between carbs and net carbs, apparently, but I haven't really looked into it yet.


As I mentioned in my last recap post, Bonnie, a reader of this blog, mentioned the Diabetic Exchange Diet to me in a couple of comments on an early January post about my dieting efforts.

I was intrigued, but I felt that I had too much going on at the time (with New Year's resolutions!) to undergo a new type of diet as well.

My dad and his dad both have/had diabetes. My grandfather controlled his with his diet (or rather, didn't control his with his diet as I remember my grandmother scolding him for eating the Polish food that she put on the table!) but my dad has to give himself daily insulin injections and check his blood sugar throughout the day. He also has Hashimoto's disease, a hypothyroidism condition that is hereditary and many heart problems. He's had a quadruple bypass a few years back.  My stepmom was a dietician but my dad is a bon vivant who cheated on his diet behind her back so despite her best efforts, he couldn't avoid diabetes.

With all those antecedents, I still refuse to go see a doctor so I have no idea whether I am pre-diabetic or what.  I probably am as I'm in the "obese" category when it comes to BMI.  I'm not anti-science at all, I'm anti going to the doctor's for myself.  I don't want to be pumped up with drugs. I do recognize that there are very serious consequences to having diabetes (blindness and high risk if amputation of the lower limbs being a couple of them) and hypothyroidism, but before I have to be on drugs, I want to try to do my best to improve my health on my own. After all, even if I were on drugs, I'd still have to make the changes that I have undertaken this week.

We all know that being healthy generally means (aside from inherited or genetic conditions) that:

  • You need to eat healthy foods in moderation
  • You need to exercise or be active, every day
  • You shouldn't smoke, drink, do drugs
  • You should avoid stress
  • You should keep hydrated
  • You should get plenty of sleep
I'm sure I'm missing some bullet points, but those are the ones that jump out at me.

Well, I don't smoke, rarely drink, and I don't do drugs so I'm already ahead of the game a little!

Last week, when I ate cereal for breakfast, and then had a Wendy's meal (fried chicken sandwich, large fries) for lunch, followed by 2 donuts, I felt like crap in the afternoon. I oftentimes find myself feeling tired in the afternoons even though I don't lead a particularly strenuous life, but this was something else: I couldn't keep my eyes open and I had to take a nap. It probably was more like a short coma!

When I woke up, I knew that something had to change and I knew right away that my fatigue had been due to eating too many carbs and too much sugar.  I had been meaning to look up the information that Bonnie had shared with me back in January and did so that evening.


Back in January, I had found this handout from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service titled "Exchange List System For Diabetic Meal Planning" and asked her if that was the diet program she had told me about.  She confirmed, and added:
"Yes that is it...however, there is also a chart which shows how much you should have from each group.. for the # of calories that you are planning on for a day. For 1200 calories:Breakfast is: 1 starch, 1 fruit, 1/2 milk and 1 fat. Lunch is: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 2 meat and 1 fatAfternoon snack: is 1 starchDinner: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 2 meat and 1 fatBedtime snack of 1 serving milk
1500 adds another starch at breakfast, another at lunch and 1 for a bedtime snack. For approx 1400 you could only add 2 more starches and not 3. The trickiest past about 1 starch is checking the packages to be sure that your 1 starch is only 15 carbs... Cereal is an important one to watch often A serving size on the pack is like 45 carbs so you want to only have 1/3 of what they say. As far as snacks... for your starch as long as it is 15 carbs you are good...so you could have another fruit or nuts etc..."

Basically, the Diabetic Exchange Meal works on the premise that foods are divided into 6 groups and you are allowed to eat so many "exchanges" from each group of food every day, depending on how many calories you should consume.  It's more involved than that and you probably should read up on it more, but that's the basic premise.  The six groups are:
  • Starches/Carbohydrates (I found these terms to be used interchangeably from one source to the next)
  • Non Starchy Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Meats/Proteins
  • Milk
  • Fat
Make sure to read the University of Arkansas handout to understand what foods go into what category. For instance, some foods that I would count, traditionally, as dairy, actually count as a meat (cheese), or milk (yogurt) with this diet. Some foods might be a combination of several groups.  

There are also "free" foods, although I've only found out about those on other sources. Obviously, those should only be used sparingly. For instance, "sugar free non dairy creamer" is a free food and so is Romaine lettuce.  

The plan is based on "exchanges" not because you can exchange a meat for a fruit, but because you can substitute foods within the same group. So let's say a meal that you looked up includes Brussels sprouts but you don't like Brussel sprouts, you can substitute another non starchy vegetable from the list for it (but you need to make sure that the quantity is correct).

The University of Arkansas Exchange List is a start, but of course is doesn't cover all the kinds of different foods that are out there.  Sadly, I haven't found any resource that is truly comprehensible yet. It might be because that method of dieting has kind of fallen out of favor compared to counting net carbs or other diets like keto, paleo, etc.  However, the free, online My Food Advisor tool from the American Diabetes Association is a good start. It's very imperfect but it's also been helpful.

You don't need to create an account to use it. I haven't created one.  By clicking on their "Explore Foods" section, you can search for foods with just their name, or by certain criteria, including by category.

Note that under Fats and Others, there is a "free foods" category that you can bring up.

For instance, here I searched for "pasta". You can see that the results are very limited, only 13 results. That is the downside of the tool, their database is very incomplete.

The screen above tells you that "pasta, cooked" is a starch, but doesn't tell you how much of the pasta equals how many starches, right?  To get that, you need to click on "pasta, cooked".

So above you can see that the serving size is 1/3 of a cup, you see the nutritional information for that serving size and that it corresponds to 1 starch.  Hence, if you wanted to eat 1 cup of cooked pasta, it would be 3 starches.

Similarly, 1 oz of cooked meat = 1 meat.  So if you decide you want to eat 4 oz of any meat or fish, it's going to equal 4 meats.  At 1,400 calories I'm only allowed 5 meats per day (and remember, "meat" includes cheeses!) so I learned on that first day that I couldn't indulge on eating such a "large" portion of protein in one sitting unless I didn't mind not having cheese or eggs during the day!  Yikes.  Also, not all meats are equal, obviously the advice is to use lean meats instead of the fattier (and more unhealthy) ones.  I should add that I have found that if I cook 3 oz of raw 73% lean ground beef, I end up with 2 oz of cooked ground beef. Again, the meat exchange is calculated for the cooked meat that you consumed. Meat loses weight when you cook it. So be careful with this. It's probably safer to invest in a kitchen scale.  I've had this one since 2013 and I really like it.

Another helpful resource I found, is a book that I borrowed from my library system entitled "The American Diabetes Association Month of Meals Diabetes Meal Planner". I'll probably buy a used copy on Amazon. It's also available as a Kindle book.

It contains several hundreds of suggestions for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Each category of ideas correspond to specific amounts of exchanges, but there is a range of caloric choices in each category.

For instances all 167 breakfast ideas correspond to:
  • 2 starch exchanges
  • 1 fruit exchange
  • 1 fat free milk exchange
  • and 1 fat exchange
yet the ideas presented range from 266 to 446 calories.  So not all breakfasts are equal in terms of calories.

Same principle with lunches, dinners, and snacks.  So with that book, you kind of have to follow the plan they propose of "x amount of calories for breakfast, x amount for lunch, and x amount for dinner". But if you're willing to follow that, the book has tons of suggestions for each meal, including some actual recipes too.

It's also worth noting that they do explain how to adapt their plan if you're vegetarian.


I wanted a little more flexibility so I decided not to just limit myself to eating the proper amount of each exchanges in a day.  I also didn't want to limit myself to the exchanges as presented by Bonnie in her initial comment. For instance, I'd rather have eggs for breakfast as I find protein early in the morning really helps me feel full up until lunch. But I still wasn't sure of the amount of calories that I should consume in order to lose weight.

So I decided to track what I ate in My Fitness Pal (you can create a free account and use their website and/or download their free app to your phone), as it would not only tell me how many calories I should consume according to my age, weight, weight loss goal, and exercise level, but also give me an account of the calories, nutrients, sodium, etc. that I was consuming.

After I input my details into My Fitness Pal, it told me that I was allowed to eat 1,400 calories per day.

However, the "Month of Meals Diabetes Meal Planner" doesn't have a plan for 1,400 calories. It only has information for 1,200; 1,500; 1,800; and 2,100 calorie plans, and it wouldn't help me with the specific number of exchanges I could eat from each group as well :( 

I did, however, find a 1,400 calorie Diet Exchange Plan online!  It states that I can have, per day:
  • 7 starches
  • 3 fruit
  • 3 non-starchy vegetables
  • 5 meats
  • 2 milk
  • 3 fat
Incidentally, I also found a 1,200 calorie Diet Exchange Plan and a 1,800 calorie Diet Exchange Plan, which I printed so I have them if I ever have to eat that amount of calories (as I lose weight and as, later on, I'm on maintenance).

Using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and nutrients is great, but it doesn't help me tracking my exchanges and I couldn't find an app or even a printout that would.  So I made my own food journal for 1,400 calories in Excel.  I'm sorry to say that you can't download it to print it since Blogger doesn't let you post pdf documents but I can email it to you if you want. Just contact me at the email address listed under "Contact Me" and mention the 1,400 calorie Diabetic Exchange Food Journal in the title.

I used circles divided into quarters for the exchanges since some food serving size might correspond
only to 1/4 or 1/2 an exchange.
I made myself a binder where I keep my journal printouts, Exchange Plans, the hand out from the University of Arkansas and other printouts. I use a blank journal every morning to plan my food intake for the whole day.  

Under "Notes", I jot down what I plan on cooking for Greg and the kids for dinner that day (I don't cook lunch or breakfast for them).  I try to eat mostly about the same thing as what they're eating although with some changes.  So I start by writing down my dinner.  For instance, tonight I made Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff. So I wrote down each ingredient under "dinner" and looked up the exchanges for each ingredient's and the serving size.

After that, I plan my breakfast. I want to have protein, as I mentioned, so I am careful to keep 1 meat at least. I have found that an "omelet" made with 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup of thinly sliced zucchini and a stick of light string cheese (omelet cooked in EVOO spray in a non-stick pan) and a piece of fruit is a filling breakfast for me. It uses 2 meats, 1/2 a non starchy vegetable and 1 fruit.

From there, I finish filling up my daily journal, making sure that I used up most of the exchanges, if not all.  Then I input the whole thing in My Fitness Pal to make sure that I'm OK as far as the calories are concerned.

I put a goal of 8 cups of liquids on the food journal, but I have been drinking more than that.

I have decided that I would not eat my exercise calories so I don't log my exercise in My Fitness Pal.  I do write down what I did and the caloric value in "Exercise Notes" in MFP and I also write it on my Diabetic Exchange Food Journal.  Not eating my exercise calories allows me not to think "oooh, I still have 300 calories to eat!", which usually leads me to eat unhealthy foods.  I really want to try to follow the diabetic exchange plan for the level of calories I should be eating.  So far, so good.

For instance, my food intake for today was as follows:

  • Omelet made with:
    • spray of EVOO in my Misto sprayer (free as far as I'm concerned)
    • 2 egg whites (1 meat)
    • 1 piece of light string cheese (1 meat)
    • 1/2 cup slices zucchini (1/2 non starchy vegetable)
  • 2 clementines (1 fruit)

Morning Snack: (I actually ate it with my lunch)
  • Shake made with:
    • 1 cup 2% milk (actually 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup water) (1 milk)
    • 1.25 cup fresh strawberries (1 fruit) 
    • A little bit of stevia (free)
    • Mixed in the blender
  • Turkey roll-ups made with:
    • Whole wheat tortilla, 8" (2 starches)
    • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise (1 fat)
    • 2 oz oven roasted turkey lunch meat (2 meats)
    • 2 Romaine leaves (free)
  • 1 apple (1 fruit)

Afternoon Snack:
  • 8 saltines (2 starches)
  • 1 tbsp Weight Watchers Black Bean Dip (free) Note: I halved the recipe and it still gave me over a cup of it. So far it's kept in the fridge for 4 days without turning.
  • 1 oz oven roasted turkey lunch meat (1 meat)

  • Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff serving (I use penne pasta and reserved 1 cup of cooked pasta for myself, then added 1 cup of the mushroom sauce to my plate) made with (my portion only, estimated):
    • 1 cup portobello mushroom (1 non starchy vegetable)
    • 3 tbsp light sour cream (1 fat) I probably vastly underestimated how much light sour cream went into my portion, though. Good thing I biked for an hour today and didn't eat my exercise calories!
    • 1 tsp butter (1 fat)
    • broth (free)
    • 1/4 cup onion (1/2 non starchy vegetable)
    • 1 tbsp flour (1/3 starch)
    • 1 cup cooked penne pasta (3 starches)
  • Side salad made with:
    • Romaine lettuce (free)
    • 1/2 cup cucumber (1/2 non starchy vegetable)
    • 1/4 cup shredded carrots (1/4 non starchy vegetable)

Evening Snack:
  • 1 Fit & Active nonfat yogurt (1 milk)
All in all, I consumed about 1,318 calories according to My Fitness Pal.  It's probably a little more as I didn't input the sugar free non dairy creamer that I added to my morning coffee, or the 1 tbsp of light dressing I used on the salad (which would have been another 1/2 fat, btw).

As far as nutrients are concerned, I'm pleased that my sodium and potassium intake are definitely much better than they used to be. However, I'm still eating too much sugar and not enough iron, according to My Fitness Pal.  And I'm also eating more carbs than I should, according to My Fitness Pal!  It's kind of maddening but I'm going to keep plugging at it.  I did eat 1/3 starches more than I should have and should have eaten another 1/4 non starchy vegetables.


However, I think that on the days when we might eat out, keeping those exercise calories will allow me not to have to worry as much about the exchanges on that day (as again, my goal in using the Diabetic Exchange Diet Plan is to lose weight and be healthier, not avoid a potentially dangerous blood sugar count on a particular day).  I spent a lot of time today researching what the best choices might be at fast food places for diabetics.  It's not necessarily healthy, but reading the information prepared me for some choices I ought to keep in mind when we go out to eat or when my daughter and I will be on our trip in a few days.

I found a couple of useful resources: 
  • On the Prevention Magazine website, an article entitled "Rescue Your Fast Food Meal". It doesn't address the exchange aspect of things, but explains what is a better choice at several fast food places.
  • Same with the "Diabetic-friendly Fast Food" article from Lifescript.
  • The "Restaurant Foods" category of the "Explore Foods" section of My Food Advisor lists over 3.696 dishes/foods but it's not searchable, just an alphabetic listing that sometimes doesn't make sense. On the plus side, it shows the exchanges for those dishes/foods.
  • I also ordered a used copy of a book on Amazon, entitled "Eat Out, Eat Well, The Guide to Eating Healthy in Any Restaurant", which was written for the American Diabetes Association.  Since we do eat out quite a bit, I figured I should educate myself to be able to make better choices.


So all of this, coupled with making sure that I exercise at least 30 minutes a day (I've been exercising 45 to 60 minutes a day so far, on my recumbent bike) and drink at least 8 cups of liquids a day, constitutes my new diet.

It sure seems to be working. I weighed 230 lbs on Tuesday morning. This morning (Saturday), I was down to 223.4 lbs, a 6.6 lb drop in just 4 days! Of course I went from eating a ton of calories and carbs to eating a reduced amount of calories and carbs, I went from only taking a long walk on Saturdays to exercising every day, and I started drinking 4 to 5 times the amount of liquids that I had been drinking.  I'm quite sure subsequent weeks won't see such a steep drop, but it was very encouraging to see immediate results in my weight.   I don't have sudden stores of extra energy but I sleep better and I don't wake up tired and I haven't needed to take an afternoon nap as I don't feel tired in the afternoons. I also fall asleep (apart from tonight!) earlier than I have been.

I hope to keep posting positive updates :)  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Weekly Review: Saturday, May 20 through Friday, May 26, 2017

Saturday 5/20/17
I had my big pity party that day, which is when I wrote my last blog update, which took me a while that morning. I had a serious case of the blues. I didn't want to go anywhere. Greg wanted to go walking but I turned him down. I just wanted to veg out and that's what I did. I think I might have stayed in my PJs all day, too!

That was the last day that I gave Tabby Kitten his medicine, and his eye is back to normal now.  Yay and I was tired of fighting him. Who thought putting an ointment in a cat's eye was a good idea?  Why not drops?!  Anyhoo, I hope I don't have to do that anytime soon now.  

With pollen levels being very high, I ended up needing drops of my own as my eyes were burning all weekend.  It was just mild conjunctivitis but it was annoying nonetheless!

In the afternoon, Greg tested our generator, went to refill all our spare gas tanks to get ready for hurricane season and then went kayaking for 4 hours!  He's really enjoying this. I've been in my kayak exactly ONE time. It sounded like a great idea and once we got the kayak, I lost all enthusiasm for it. But then again I've lost a lot of enthusiasm for a lot of things over the past 4 months.

My daughter was at her dad's that weekend, and Youngest Son spent his day on the computer, working on his final project for Science, and went to our local park a few times to get some exercise done (he walks there and back and swings).

As for me, I spent several hours finishing Season 3 of Bosch on Amazon Prime. After a rocky start (and trying to remember the storyline!, I warmed up to it.  Greg watched some of it with me in the evening.

I didn't feel like cooking and I wasn't hungry so he went to pick up McDonald's for himself and our son at dinner time. They treated themselves to shakes too.

I was so blah that I didn't take any pictures save for this one from Princess, sleeping on her bed next to me.  I held her little paw for an hour as she slept and I was lying down, watching "Bosch", LOL.  She likes being comforted like that. She comforted me too :)

Sunday 5/21/17
I slept in until 9 a.m. and woke up to find 2 kittens cuddling against me:

Princess.  Oh, she turned away at the last minute!  Yes, my mattress is still on the floor, I like it that way, it's super comfortable, and yes, I still haven't gotten rid of the old mattress that's still leaning against the wall. The kittens like climbing on it, but I do want to drag it to the curb once of these Tuesday mornings!

Explorer, just above my head on my pillow, with his paw touching my hair :)
 That day, my main activity was driving to my BFF's, thirty minutes away, picking her up and her two kids, and driving them to the Orlando International Airport.  They were flying to British Columbia, Canada, for a week and a half off at her parents'. She was very excited about it, the teens were like Youngest Son, not enthused at all, it seemed. She and I chatted on the way to the airport and caught up a little. We talked about UF since her oldest will also be attending in the Fall and majoring in Computer Engineering.  Our kids used to know each other back when they were younger, but then life happened and they all became teens with their own interests, so her son and my daughter don't know each other at all. Plus they're very different people. My BFF wanted her son to take my daughter's phone number so they can connect on campus, but he wasn't interested and I know my Daughter wouldn't have been interested either. Isn't that the worst when your parents force you into talking to someone?  I have hated that in my parents my own life as they're much more social than I am, so I'm not about to do that to my own kids, lol.  Anyhoo, after I dropped them off, I drove another hour back home.  2.5 hours of driving for me was enough and I didn't do anything else the rest of the day!

For lunch, I did treat myself to a free sandwich from RaceTrac, with the purchase of a bottle of sweet tea, thanks to a coupon that had come with my Sodapalooza cup.

Back home, I found Greg reading his book, our son playing on the computer. I printed coupons, watched Forensic Files, took a nap.  Then I decided to start watching The Sopranos from the beginning again for the 3rd or 4th time, and Greg joined me. We watched several episodes that evening. Once again I didn't feel like cooking so Greg went to pick us up Chinese food and Sodapalooza refills.

At some point I was reading some posts on Reddit, and came across this one. I texted it to my daughter and complained that someone was impersonating me on Reddit, ha.

Monday 5/22/17
It rained overnight!
Tell-tale signs on our front porch...

Greg's truck...

And the windows once I opened the curtains!
Monday was Domestic Monday  and I did some chores all day.  My load was not lightened by the kittens. For instance, Tabby Kitten had to bring down his "sock du jour". Well, if it was only one pair of socks a day, but it's usually several. He drops them near me, plays with them for maybe 2-3 seconds, and then just leaves, never to play with that particular sock again.  Weirdo. 
The pipe cleaner is Princess' s addiction. She still retrieves them from my craft cubicle and leaves them laying
all over the house...
It was the first day of Youngest Son's "finals" so he was released early at 11 a.m. that day and the next two.   When I say "finals", I don't know how the teachers worked it out this year but it's the first time that one of my kids had actually already done all his finals either prior to that day or just had to turn in a project that he had worked on from home. So he had to just sit there for 4 hours every day. He played cards, worked on his AP summer project, etc. but wasn't happy to have to be at school for those 3 days. I don't really blame him. I didn't leave my house to pick him up until 11:10 a.m., so by the time I picked him up, the line was short and moved very fast.

As a special treat, I took him to Donut King where we picked up half a dozen donuts to be shared between the two of us and my Daughter.  She didn't get home until about 7 p.m. as she spent more time at her dad's.

So yummy!
And then we went to pick up drive-thru lunch from Wendy's. We hadn't eaten there in ages.  I had the Spicy Asiago Chicken sandwich and I have to say I was very disappointed as it just wasn't as good as I remembered it.

 In the afternoon, I did more chores, emailed Youngest Son's French teacher to hear what the principal had decided about me only being contacted via email (the result that yes, it's possible and they'll be happy to accommodate me and the teacher apologized for getting off on the wrong foot with me. Yay!), watched some "Forensic Files" and... took a nap courtesy of all the carbs that I had eaten.

Explorer took a nap with me.

I received a sample of dog food in the mail. I'll give it to our neighbor Jeff for his dogs.
 I decided to test the new brush that I had bought at Petco with my Rewards last week.  The kittens didn't seem to mind it at all, but the real test was Mean Kitty who absolutely HATES the Love2Pet  defluffing comb that we have been using for several years. It must pull too much on her hair and brushing her has been an ordeal for Youngest Son. The verdict on the brush?

She LOVED it!  Seriously, she started purring.  She never, EVER, purrs.

It's not as effective as the comb and it's a little of a pain to clean out with each stroke,  but it does get hair out!

Princess was supervising and asked "when it is my turn?!"
 Otherwise, I started watching Season 3 of "Frankie and Grace", finally. It's not gripping me like the other seasons had.  Also:

I found those under my desk!  No one remembers giving them to me, but I think Greg gave them to
me for my birthday or Christmas. Anyhoo, I ate the whole bag.
Later on that evening, I put two and two together and realized that my little nap had been caused by eating too many carbs and I started wondering and worrying about diabetes as my dad and his dad before him both have/had type 2 diabetes (and other health concerns that are hereditary).  I absolutely do not want to see a doctor, have tests done, etc.  It's fine with me if other people go to the doctor's but I personally abhor them and won't go unless I can't take care of my own problems.

I downloaded a couple of library e-books to my Kindle, including an AARP book written by Jack Challem called "No More Fatigue".  He made some good points although he takes lots of supplements and I refuse to do that, so I skimmed those portions.  One of the points he made is that we eat too many carbs, and I know that it's clearly my downfall.  Reading the book, I decided that perhaps it would be a good time to get started on the Diabetic Exchange Diet that Bonnie had told me about back in January.  That's the plan she tries to follow to lose weight.  I had looked into it back then but it seemed like adding a lot of complications at a time of year when I was already undertaking a lot of things (as I always do in January!) so I had decided to put it aside and revisit it later in the year.  I don't know if I have diabetes but I'm probably pre-diabetic and even if I'm not, I was thinking that a plan such as that one, that limits the amount of carbs that one eats without eliminating them, was probably my best bet to not only reach my goal of losing weight this year, but also to be in much better health overall. I do nothing and I'm always tired, it seems.

So on Monday night, I found the printouts that I had saved, along with Bonnie's information that she had so kindly shared with me via comments, and decided that the next day I would embark on a new adventure.  I read the printouts to get familiar with the plan once more and I looked for books on that subject in my library system's catalog, and put The American Diabetes Association's "Month of Meals Diabetes Meal Planner" on hold.

Tuesday 5/23/17

On Tuesday morning I weighed myself and was extremely distraught to find myself at my highest weight EVER (damn those donuts, fast-food and chocolate-covered cherries!): 230 lbs. GULP.  It was a good day to get started on a new path, wasn't it?

I spent several hours that morning doing more research into the Diabetic Exchange Diet. Bonnie had sent me some information for various calorie levels, but I first needed to figure out how many calories I should eat. I decided to turn to My Fitness Pal again. I updated my weight and exercise level and my goal of losing 1.5 lb a week while exercising 30 minutes a day for 7 days, and MFP told me I should consume 1,400 calories per day.  

Bonnie had sent me information for 1,200 and 1,500 calorie exchange plans, so I Googled "1,400 calories Diabetic Exchange Plan" and lo and behold, there was such a thing that had been posted, hooray!

Basically, it told me how many of the 6 food groups I could eat each day. For 1.400 calories, that works out to 7 starches, 3 fruit, 3 non starchy vegetables, 5 lean meats, 2 milk, and 3 fat.  I also wanted to make sure I drank at least 8 cups of liquids per day at least and exercised for at least 30 minutes each day.

Once I had that information, I looked for an app that would allow me to log my food exchange choices for the day, but I couldn't find anything because that plan isn't being recommended anymore. No matter, I decided to design my own food log in Excel, and planned my food intake for the day. It took quite a long time because it was new information.  The result is that I have to eat differently from Greg and the kids, but since I only cook dinner, it won't be too bad.

I also downloaded a bunch of free e-books to my Kindle.  I haven't read any of them yet because right now I have plenty of information already and I'm still getting used to the system.

Later on that morning, I got back on my recumbent bike and biked for 52 minutes while I was reading up on the plan. Back in the saddle, and I have to say it felt very good.

Explorer settled himself on a pillow in the window box next to me.
I had a late breakfast. I'm never hungry first thing in the morning and I figured that if I could delay having breakfast, I could push back lunch as well and wouldn't feel as hungry for dinner. I decided that every morning, I would exercise between 9 and 10 a.m. so then I could cook breakfast and settle myself to eat it while I watched "Law & Order: Criminal Intent", that is broadcast on TV every morning at 10 a.m.  It's my treat for exercising.

That morning I had 2 eggs with 1/4 cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of sliced zucchini, and a cup of papaya.  I was still learning.

I went to pick up my son from school at 11:10 a.m. and since he had Chinese food left over from Sunday night, he decided to have that for lunch.

Later on, my lunch was this:

Half a pita with homemade tuna salad, a stick of light string cheese and an apple.
I also brewed myself a pitcher of cold peach herbal tea to drink in between cups of Caffeine Free Diet Coke during the day.

In the meantime, Explorer was pining for Male Cat to play with him...

But Male Cat ignored him.
I went to check on the garden.  The rain has helped a lot!

The impatiens are coming back!

I had a couple of visitors at the feeders, although I only managed to photograph the female

The Ichiban eggplants are noticeably larger than last week

There are a lot of serrano peppers on my plant!

The basil babies are definitely growing

And so is my guest tomato plant!

The pentas lost a lot of blossoms though...

And despite what I had thought was a real downpour the previous day, my rain barrel was only halfway full.
Youngest Son has a summer reading project for his English honors class next year, so he picked the book that he wanted to read and I put it on hold at the library but also purchased a used copy from Amazon (free to me with my Amazon Rewards points) since he'll be going camping and I'd rather we don't have to stress over a library book.
I didn't take any pictures of my dinner, but my food intake was great. I planned it to follow the Diabetic Exchange Plan for 1,400 calories and then logged everything into My Fitness Pal as well, and ended up with 1,339 calories.  It being the first day, I actually didn't meet all my goals in the exchange plan, as I should have had another 1/2 starch, 3/4 of a non starchy vegetable, and 1.5 fat. Still, I wasn't hungry at the end of the day and I fell asleep on the couch while watching Peep Show with Greg, at about 9:45 p.m.  I drank all 8 cups of liquids that day and wisely stopped with dinner so I didn't even have to pee too much overnight, which has always been a concern. I do have to pee frequently during the day, which is very annoying, but such is life. I'm home most days anyway so it's not a huge imposition.

Wednesday 5/24/17
This was the final day of school for Youngest Son.  The weather was stormy and we were under a tornado watch for most of the day and then under a thunderstorm watch!

My daughter and her BFF went to the high school to retrieve their high school diplomas. She decided to keep her graduation gown and the sash (she had tried to return the sash after graduation, as instructed, but they ended up telling her to keep it) after all.  I told her she had better take it to college with her, then, because I'll be returning them if I find them in my house. I'm very irked with her, she is never going to be wearing those again, it's just clutter.  Her brother can't use the gown as he is much taller than she is and also he doesn't plan on attending his graduation ceremony.

Wednesday is usually my Shopping Day but since I have a new routine and I had to pick up Youngest Son at 11:15 a.m. from school, I decided to go after that. In the morning, I did like the previous day: did some chores, planned my food intake, exercised, had breakfast while watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and then went to pick up Youngest Son.

Breakfast, same as yesterday.
I decided to treat the kids for lunch so I was planning on stopping by Subway on my way home, but the hordes of high school students had descended on the franchise so we went to grab 2 pre-made sandwiches from the Publix Deli instead and then got Sodapalooza refills from free from RaceTrac. I have yet more free drink coupons in my app, including one that expired in a couple of days so I grabbed an extra medium Caffeine Free Diet Coke for myself too.

I drove my son home and then went shopping.  That day, I decided to stick to just 2 stores: Aldi and then Save A  Lot, with a stop at RaceTrac to gas up.  I hadn't planned on going to Save A Lot, actually, but I realized that I was almost out of no salt added canned corn and Aldi doesn't carry it.

So my shopping was done pretty fast. I did go over budget as I spent $104.93 on groceries for the week, but I stocked up on ground beef (10 lbs), bought quite a bit of produce, and got one off items such as whole wheat tortillas, sugar free creamer, some coconut water, 12 cans of NSA corn and 6 cans of NSA green beans, and bought some salmon for one dinner (about $8.00 for 1 lb but it's a nice change from the usual). Overall, I'm still at $319.07 for the month of May (my budget was $400), as it was my last shopping day for the month (although now I'm thinking I might need to go buy more cucumbers before Wednesday).  That would be great if we hadn't spent a whooping $480 in eating out/ordering in expenses for the month!  Another reason why it was time for me to go back on a diet...

Save A Lot: I got some limes on 50% off clearance ($0.45 for 8, I think) and I'm using them to
make lime-infused water.  The vinegar is to pour at the bottom of my non-working dishwasher
since even when I vacuum the dripping water out, it stinks (the pump no longer works and I'm using it
as a giant drying rack).

I had 2 dozens of eggs in the fridge already but I saw that SAL had them on sale for
0.79 a dozen so I got 2 more. I do use 2 eggs a day, anyway.

Since it was Wednesday, I turned on the TV to Ion TV that runs a Law & Order marathon on Wednesdays and Fridays nowadays, and set about inputting my receipts into my spreadsheets.  For once, I couldn't redeem any rebates at all, although I realized the next day upon updating the Ibotta app that you can now redeem the $0.25 any item rebate at Aldi if you want to.

It rained quite a bit that day, hooray, but no tornadoes, double hooray!

In the afternoon, Youngest Son decided to go attend his teen program at the library and asked if he could drive there. It was the first time he drove my SUV since finishing his driver's ed course and I'm relieved that it was very beneficial as he is much more sure of himself now.

At the library, I returned a book and picked up the one I had put on hold. They also had a few coupons that I grabbed.  Youngest Son walked back from his program at the end of the day, as the rain had stopped.  He was given a string bag and a pair of ear buds as part of the Teen Reading Summer Program.

I did more research on cookbooks for the Diabetic Exchange Program and couldn't really find anything, but ended up ordered a used cookbook from Amazon for free with my Rewards points. I might also buy the book that I borrowed from the library, we'll see.

After dinner, Greg and I took my SUV to the garage as it was scheduled to go a check-up on Thursday that was going to take all day.  We watched some episodes of "Peep Show" together afterwards and once again, I fell asleep on the couch before 10 p.m. and slept well until the next morning once I dragged myself to bed.

Thursday 5/25/17
I've decided that my routine for the summer will include getting up before Greg so I can still prep his breakfast and packed his lunch and also drive to RaceTrac to get us Sodapalooza refills. That morning, I also gassed up his truck since he almost had no gas left.

I came home, we chatted for a minute, and he left.  I did the dishes, and then sat down to plan my food intake for the day. As I wrote the date on my journal page, I was thinking "May 25, May 25... that's something important, isn't it?!" and then it dawned on me... so I called Greg and told him he had to come back home because we had forgotten to do something. He said "Well no, I have my wallet, my lunch and my laptop so I didn't forget anything!".  So I announced that today was our 16th anniversary and that we had both forgotten about it!  We laughed about it although honestly, I was a little sad about it too, but it's hard to be too sad when you have also forgotten!

My morning went as planned: some chores, planning my food intake, exercising, cooking breakfast, watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent while I ate it.

Two of the kittens on my right as I was biking

And one on the left!

Breakfast: I decided to switch to egg whites and used reduced-fat cheddar and zucchini, half a whole wheat tortilla, a cup of papaya
Then I fought with my laser printer for a while, that had stopped printing. Ugh.  I uninstalled and reinstalled it several times before realizing that it might be a cable problem (it's not a wifi printer) and sure enough, it was.  I'm happy that I keep all the cables that I come across as I did have an extra cable to use, and I was back in business. Phew!

My daughter and I decided to finish watching Season 5 of Game of Thrones, so we spent 3 hours doing that in the afternoon, along with some cats to keep us company.  We took a break so I could make my lunch in the early afternoon.

Princess was by my side

My lunch. It doesn't look appetizing but it was actually very good: the filling for my tortilla was a mixture of black beans, salsa, light sour cream and lettuce, I made fat free bean dip to go with my saltines (a Weight Watchers recipe) and since I didn't have my mid-morning snack, I had it for lunch: a shake made with 1 cup of 2% milk and 1.25 cup of fresh strawberries, yum.

It was a girl afternoon as Princess napped for a long time next to me...

And New Kitty cuddled with my daughter!
The garage called at 4 p.m. to say my SUV was ready so my daughter and I drove to pick it up.  It ended up costing me $40 less than the estimate (so about $1,100) and they didn't have to change my brake pads and also cleaned my battery contacts that had corroded again.  I now feel better about driving my SUV when we go on our trip soon.

When Greg got home, I told him that I had gotten him an anniversary present (the kayak cart) but I haven't shown it to him yet as I was storing it in my gardening shed.  We had decided that our anniversary dinner would actually be an anniversary lunch this weekend, probably at Carraba's since we have a gift card. I'll have to check the menu to see if there's something I can eat safely. Since I don't eat my exercise calories, I can splurge a little that day :)

We did drive to RaceTrac to get Sodapalooza refills and called it a "date" :)

After that, we watched more episodes of "Peep Show" and yep, you guessed it, I fell asleep on the couch again.  I haven't been feeling tired during the day and I've been sleeping well at night, win/win!

Friday 5/26/17
Greg got up before me this morning, which is unusual, so I didn't drive to RaceTrac.

The backyard is greener because of the rain we've had in the past week, but it's all weeds, of course. Still, it's nice to see some green!  Greg will even have to mow it this weekend as it looks a little shaggy!

I really like my new routine so I stick to it. I did some chores, planned my food intake for the day, exercised from 9 to 9:50 or so, cooked breakfast and ate while I was watching L&O:CI.

Same breakfast as yesterday minus the whole wheat tortilla since I'll be having a pretzel roll for dinner tonight!
Another good side effect of my new diet is that I really don't feel hungry in between meals.  I have decided to have protein for breakfast to ensure that I don't start my day by being starved before lunch, and it's working. If I eat starches at night, I'm fine to fall asleep sooner, which prevents me from late-night snacking.  And I really like my journal, it's so helpful.  I put it in a (recycled) binder, along with the rest of the information that I had printed. I also saved some of the information in Google Drive, so I can access it from my phone if I'm out at a restaurant or grocery store.

I did some light chores, tracked Greg's latest paycheck in my Tax Worksheet (we had some stock options that vested on that check so suddenly his YTD pay and the amount of federal tax paid have rocketed although we don't have any more money in our checking account) and balanced our checkbook.

Then Greg emailed me the announcement from his employer that they'd had an exceptional year so they're matching the 2016 401(k) contributions at 100%, up to 6% of Greg's yearly base pay!  Hooray!  That is a serious boon for us in Greg's Roth 401(k) plan!  Hopefully the stock exchange won't tank any time soon...

Another piece of good news is that I earned enough Microsoft Rewards to be able to order another $5 Amazon gift card, woohoo!

I went outside to refill the hummingbird feeders with homemade nectar, and then I inspected the rain barrel and found it full, so I was able to refill all 18 cat litter jugs that I had yet to refill. Hooray!

I had lunch while the kittens hovered over me...

... and then Youngest Son and I left to do some shopping.  First I had to go to the library to pick up a book so I had him drive us there, and then he drove us to Target. There, I bought him some shorts, a couple of T-shirts, socks, and a new grown-up wallet.  My phone wouldn't connect to AT&T inside the store and I didn't want to connect to their wifi because I don't want them tracking me, so I was frustrated not to be able to use the Cartwheel app until I was closer to the front doors, grr.  But when I was able to check, nothing was eligible for a discount :(  However, everything but the wallet was on sale, and I discovered a $5 Target gift card in my wallet that I had kept from several months ago. That and the 5% RedCard discount saved me over $12 from my bill, or the cost of 3/4 of a pair of shorts, lol.

Then we walked to Payless ShoeSource next door, and bought him a pair of sneakers (Champion, on sale for $19, marked down from $59.99!) and a pair of hiking boots ($44.99) since Greg had appropriated the ones that our son had inherited from Greg's dad.

From there, I drove us to Dollar Tree, where I got some cleaning supplies for the bathrooms. We walked to Bath & Body Works where I redeemed my coupon for a free full-size Signature item. I picked a bottle of shower gel for my daughter.

On the way home, we got ourselves some Sodapalooza refills. I love that my local station has Caffeine Free Diet Coke. The station where I actually get gas in Clermont doesn't :(

Back home, I had my mid-afternoon snack (the clementines were part of my lunch but I hadn't eaten them).

1 oz of Black Forest turkey, 2 saltines, a tbsp of black bean dip, a cup of cucumber slices.