Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombie Me

Me as a Zombie
I dressed up as a Zombie for Halloween today.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday's low carb diet diary

This is the last in my whole week documentary of my attempts at a low carb diet. I think I turned a corner of sorts today.

Sunday Breakfast
Breakfast at the Daily Grind: Scrambled eggs and bacon and a cup of coffee with half-and-half. I don't know why they put it in a to-go box. I bring my own cup to save on creating plastic waste. They know me there, too. Sometimes fast-food workers get carried away and don't think.
Sunday lunch
Still feeling lousy like yesterday, I thought maybe I should eat more and eat stuff with more vitamins and minerals, so I fixed a plate of butter-fried chicken livers with onions. I didn't feel any better afterward.
Sunday afternoon drink
I did some research online and at the bookstore. I read in Dr. Eades Protein Power book an exact description of me. He said, you're going along on your low carb diet and starting to feel great and then suddenly you are stricken with lethargy and aching muscles and profound weakness. This is a classic sign of potassium deficiency. Apparently you lose a lot of potassium on this diet, especially if you sweat. You supposedly pee a lot, but I haven't noticed that. I have been thirstier and yesterday I sweat quite a bit in the heat. I don't feel dehydrated but I have felt thirsty often.

I was going to try and drink this water plain, but it didn't appeal.

A trick I learned hiking the PCT was when I needed to drink more water than I wanted, I would flavor it with Crystal Light lemonade. I could easily drink a liter of water if it was lemonade flavor. I would do that because water sources often were spaced 20 miles apart, sometimes more. So when I came upon a water source, I would drink a liter so that I wouldn't have to carry it, then carry another 3 liters. I wouldn't need to drink anything for a few hours so I was able to handle those large distances without having to carry the water on my back. This is called "cameling up".

This Crystal Light has a little bit of sugar in it. I made it half strength so there was only 1.5 grams of sugar at the most.

I also bought some supplements, including a potassium supplement.

A few hours later I was feeling MUCH better.

Sunday dinner
Dinner was steelhead trout with mustard sauce, half a very small sweet potato and a big salad with homemade bleu cheese dressing. I had seconds of the salad. I also drank a glass of red wine.
I sure hope I am feeling better tomorrow. Adapting to this diet has been harder than I thought. The first three weeks eating like this were pretty easy. For some reason, this week was very hard. I don't know why I took 4 weeks to feel like some people do after a couple of days. I've been trying to do as suggested: eating way more fat than anyone would think is necessary, not too much protein but not too little, liberal use of salt including "lite" salt, and drinking more water than usual to make up for water lost. But I guess I was still falling short.

In addition to the potassium supplements (apparently my use of potassium chloride "lite" salt instead of regular salt wasn't enough), I bought magnesium and iodine. I've always measured on the low end of normal when the doctor has given me thyroid tests. Maybe the iodine will help. The magnesium is apparently also needed, also, but I'm not sure what exactly it does. Hopefully it will make me feel better. I hate supplements and hope I don't need them for very long.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday's food diary

Today was a difficult day. I probably didn't do very well on the low carb thing. I went hiking with the Sierra Club on a trail I hike on often. I almost couldn't make it to the summit. I have been feeling weaker and less energetic at the same time I've been feeling calmer and more healthy. This makes no sense. I'm actually very worried now about my up-coming backpack trip and the big 17.5 mile hike I'm supposed to lead in December. I had no energy for the hike today, how will I manage those hikes coming up?

I'm not sure who I am going to ask for advice, but hopefully these pictures won't get me clobbered with criticism. I really am doing the best I can.

Hiking is the reason for living and it worries me I will ruin my ability to hike on this diet. And if this diet doesn't actually cause any weight loss, is it worth continuing?

Saturday Breakfast
Breakfast at the Daily Grind: bowl of eggs and bacon with coffee and half-and-half. The eggs need salt.

I really struggled on the trail. Here's a picture of edema in my wrist and hand. My blood vessels are huge. I have not felt this weak while hiking in a very long time. Normally I saunter up easily having conversations with people. Today I rest-stepped the whole way. I felt weak even in my arms. I use trekking poles and my arms were so weak I couldn't hold up my own weight.

Less than half a tangerine
At the summit I shared a tangerine with The Man. I got three sections. I also took a bite of his banana. I hoped it might help me with my weakness for the hike down. I had to turn down extending the hike for a big loop that I usually do. I didn't think I could do it. I feel really worried for the backpack trip I have planned later in November and for the 17.5 mile hike I'm supposed to lead in December. If this diet is only going to tear me down, I'm not sure I should continue.

San Ysidro Trail
Here's a picture to illustrate the hike. We started down in Montecito, the city you can see in the distance. You can see parts of the trail on the hillside below and the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.

Small waterfall
Here's a small waterfall visible from the trail. It felt good to get out of the sun and into the shady canyon again.

Poop in a bag
Dog poop left on the trail really bugs me. This is the biggest bag of poop I've ever seen.

Here's what I look like
Here's a picture of what I look like. I'm pretty fat. Can you see my little green bird named Fergie on the counter? I think this diet is making me fatter even if I have lost a little weight. I think my body is eating my muscles rather than my fat. Everybody says that a low carb diet will allow you to burn fat for energy. I think my body is so totally broken that it's hopeless.

Afternoon snack
I was pretty hungry in the afternoon so I made a snack of liverwurst wrapped in lettuce leaves. I'm trying to avoid cheese. I'll probably find out that liverwurst is worse than cheese.

Wine and bird
The Man cooked dinner and the cooking of it dragged on and on so I had a glass of wine to tide me over as I was pretty hungry. That's Ariel, our cockatoo, in the background.

Saturday dinner
Dinner at last. He made lamb chops with Indian seasonings, garbanzo beans, lentils, avocado and mango slices. It's not a low carb dinner and there's sugar in the yogurt he put on the lamb. But it was delicious and I was hungry and weak and didn't really care.

I cared so little that lentils and garbanzos are not "Paleo" that I ate a second helping. I could have eaten this dinner three times over, I believe.
That's it for Saturday. I'll do Sunday tomorrow and then maybe that will be enough of this boring topic. I hope I can find someone to send this series to so I can get some advice.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday's food diary

I have no idea if I'm doing this low carb thing right. I'm only 5'3" tall. I'm female and 46 years old. I sit at a computer all day but try to get a little exercise every day. Do I eat too much or not enough? I'm keeping this photo diary so that I can eventually find someone to ask and not have whoever that is accuse me of cheating or leaving anything out. See for yourself. I have lost some weight, but not very much. They say to just eat to satiety and eat when you are hungry. But I've always had the ability to eat a lot more than I should and I have no idea if eating to satiety and eating when I'm hungry is adequate to lose weight. I should lose probably 30-40lbs if I had my way.
Friday Breakfast
Breakfast was 3 eggs cooked pretty hard (by accident) over swiss chard and onions fried in butter. A big blob of sour cream. I was really hungry when I woke up. Last night's dinner was not enough food or not enough fat, not sure which.
I'm showing this picture from the other day. Today was "goodie day" where someone in our group brings breakfast for everybody. I passed on the breakfast. I was not hungry anyway, but if I was, there wouldn't have been anything I could eat. That's a first because usually someone brings eggs of some sort. I had a cup of coffee with half-and-half instead and just enjoyed the company. It wasn't decaf this time.
Sea birds at UCSB lagoon
I had absolutely no energy to go running at lunch. It was a beautiful day so I took a nice walk around the lagoon. It wasn't a particularly brisk walk, but I usually walk fast no matter what anyway. I love the sea birds I see around the lagoon.
Friday snack
I was really super hungry in the afternoon. There's nothing on campus I can snack on except for hard boiled eggs. I felt like I'd had enough eggs. I was going to wait it out until dinner but my 'boss' (not really my boss) suggested going home early because it was such a beautiful day. When I got home, I made this un-assembled guacamole: an avocado with sour cream and salsa not mixed together. I ate this out on the back deck in what was left of a nice warm afternoon. The Man teased me for putting fat on top of my fatty avocados but he eats his guacamole with half a pound of corn chips so, yeah, whatever.
Friday dinner
I wasn't very hungry for dinner after my guacamole, but I ate it anyway. I made thin-sliced milanesa steak and vegetables with coconut milk and Thai Kitchen red curry paste. Lots of cilantro on top. I sometimes think cilantro is really a vegetable, not a seasoning. The Man got rice with his. I just ate mine in a bowl with a spoon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday's diet diary

Here's my diet diary for today. I'm keeping a photo diary because some people (usually men) do not believe women who tell them it is hard to lose weight on a low carb diet. They always assume we are cheating or something.

Thursday breakfast

Breakfast today: 3 scrambled eggs with onions, chiles in adobo sauce, cilantro and sour cream. Coffee with cream.

Thursday coffee
Coffee break: Double decaf Americano with half-and-half.

Thursday snack

Snack: Chunk of asiago cheese and glass of red wine.

Thursday dinner
Dinner: Ahi tuna and lettuce. After I ate the tuna, I squeezed all those lime slices on the lettuce and sprinkled olive oil on the lettuce and ate it like a salad.

Thursday dessert
Dessert: Lindt 85% dark chocolate. The bird took a bite.

I went for a 5 mile run today at lunchtime. I felt sore afterward. My running ability is suffering a lot. I usually run pretty slow and it's just getting harder and harder to do. Today I tried running as fast as I can and then walking, and then runnning as fast as I can and then walking over and over again like that. I'm not sure the really slow running does any good. I would like to run an ultramarathon someday, but I probably never will attain the running endurance. But if the running at least keeps me in shape for hiking, that will be nice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Diet journal for Wednesday

This is a documentary of my low carb diet. Lots of people accuse us older women of cheating on the diet when we complain that weight loss isn't as easy as they say. I'm taking pictures of everything I've eaten or drank to demonstrate, with the exception of water. Maybe I'm not doing it right, but I don't think I'm overeating or otherwise eating more carbs or more anything than I say.
Wednesday breakfast
Three scrambled eggs, barely scrambled, with the last of the liverwurst. Also almost a whole avocado. Almost because our homegrown avos always have a bad spot to cut off. Otherwise they're really good avos.
It was cold this morning and my 'boss' (he's not really my boss) wanted to go get coffee. I jumped at the chance because we don't have any heat in the office. It's a double decaf Americano with half-and-half.
After work I went to the jam. I play old-time with these nice people in the park. I play the fiddle. One of our friends died this morning. We played a tune called Rachel in her memory after it got dark. Her name was Rachel. Playing Rachel in the dark in her memory made me sad and I cried a little bit.
Wednesday dinner
For dinner I cooked up a giant buffalo patty with some bleu cheese in the middle of it and a little on top. Also some onions and orange bell peppers. It came out kinda raw so I nuked it for a minute after I took the picture. I had a glass of red wine, too.

I was surprised how not-hungry I felt today, even though I went running for about 4 miles at lunch. This diet is really working. I feel so healthy inside. It is hard to describe. I also feel very calm. It is so wonderful not to be hungry all the time, desperately hungry, always eating and thinking about what to eat next. That's gone. It's freedom. I wish I could get The Man to try this.

I have to thank the Swedish Diet Doctor, the grumpier Archevore doctor and the Santa Barbararian Dr. Eades.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Diary of my low carb diet: Monday and Tuesday

This is a documentary of my low carb diet. Lots of people accuse us older women of cheating on the diet when we complain that weight loss isn't as easy as they say. I'm taking pictures of everything I've eaten or drank to demonstrate, with the exception of water. Maybe I'm not doing it right, but I don't think I'm overeating or otherwise eating more carbs or more anything than I say.
Breakfast on Monday
Breakfast on Monday was 3 eggs, a blob of liverwurst and a blob of creme fraiche. I also had a cup of coffee with heavy cream.

Walk around the lagoon
At lunch I took a walk around the UCSB lagoon. There were lots of shorebirds.

Birds in the lagoon
Cormorants on the UCSB lagoon.

An hour or so after lunch I felt a little hungry so I had a double decaf Americano with half-and-half. I use my own reusable cup. I'm usually not hungry at lunchtime proper and by the time I do start feeling a little hungry, it's around 3 or 4 which is just too close to dinner. If I'm really really hungry I'll go get some hard-boiled eggs which are the only snack-sized thing on campus I can eat. I wasn't that hungry today so I had coffee.

Dinner on Monday
Dinner on Monday was fajita burritos. Instead of putting mine in a tortilla I ate it with a fork on my plate. There's a chicken thigh under all that lettuce and cliantro. Also some cabbage and about half and avocado and some sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Breakfast on Tuesday
Breakfast on Tuesday was 3 eggs, a blob of sour cream and a blob of liverwurst. I got tired of bacon last week and had a craving for liver. I can only eat so much liverwurst all at once. It makes me feel pretty vital though. Good stuff.

Half a coffee
I didn't exercise at lunch. Instead I went to the dentist. For 3 hours he wailed on my teeth on both sides. I sometimes felt like I couldn't breathe. It was very stressful. I came out with new crowns and a completely numb face. They had cake and brownies at work to celebrate October birthdays. I didn't have any of that, but afterward, I felt pretty hungry so I got a double decaf Americano with half-and-half. I asked them to fill it only half-way because I wasn't even sure I could drink it without drooling. I managed.

Before dinner snack
When I got home from work I was pretty hungry so I had a snack. Three pieces of pickled herring. I had trouble opening my mouth far enough for even one piece but I did it. It was hard to chew.
Tuesday dinner
Dinner illustrates how hard it is to have a special diet when your partner doesn't. The Man made tortellini. When I told him I couldn't eat the tortellini he got kind of mad. I told him I'd cook up some meat but he looked really annoyed, so I put away the meat and planned to cook it after dinner so he wouldn't get mad. Halfway through cooking, he announced I should cook my meat right away and stormed out of the room. So I cooked a 1/3lb patty of ground buffalo as fast as I could. When dinner was ready, I put the sauce on top. The sauce had vegetables and sausage. I wished for some parmesan cheese but didn't have any. It was pretty good. Buffalo is really good meat. I also had a glass of red wine. Merlot I think. It comes in a box. It's as fancy as my place setting of old opened mail scattered everywhere.

After such a stressful day, I decided to have a piece of chocolate. This is Lindt 85% dark chocolate. It's almost unsweetened. It's pretty good. My parrot took a little bite out of one corner. My parrot also had a little of the buffalo. :)

I think it's working

I think it is working. I think I am starting to lose some weight. Not only that, but suddenly I am starting to feel really strong. Like something vital is waking up inside of me. At the same time, I'm feeling so much more calm than I used to. Even if I don't lose any weight, it's obvious that this is much healthier.

My frozen shoulder is gone, too. Like instantly gone. I believe it left in the first week of this diet but it was just suddenly gone and I didn't notice. It only bothered me when I tried to reach behind my back or do similar kinds of motions. I can now scratch my back again. A friend of mine has frozen shoulder, too. I keep thinking I should tell her to try eating differently, but she's this tiny little lady who can barely eat anything at all, so she probably wouldn't try it.

I've started keeping a photo journal of my food. Many people do not believe us older women when we say it is hard to lose weight this way. The 20-30-something men all talk about how the pounds just melt off, 10 pounds a week or sometimes even more, and all assume we women are cheating on the diet or not doing something right. Even some of these doctors think so. They just don't understand. I will post photos eventually so I have something to point them to so they can see I'm not lying.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I guess I'm just not keto-adapted yet

I think I have figured out my problem from reading around the internet. I'm just not keto-adapted yet.

In order to burn your own body fat your body has to know how to burn fat for energy. My body is clearly struggling with this because I don't have quite as much energy doing physically active things and my pee smells like acetone. This is supposedly because of the excess ketones being eliminated.

The ketones are made from breaking down fat. If your body is efficient in using them, it doesn't eliminate them in your pee as much. So clearly I'm not efficient in this yet. And if your body is breaking down fat that is eaten you're not burning your own body fat, so you do have to have a calorie deficit in order to have your body burn up its own fat. Otherwise, it has no need to. So like anything, it's a balance of calories eaten vs calories used. Okay, so I will keep on keeping on. Hopefully I'll find a balance between starving and burning body fat. I do feel a little better almost every day.

Meanwhile, I went to the farmers market today and bought a bunch of veggies, eggs and meat. I got chicken thighs and legs with the skin on and some grass-fed beef. The eggs were supposedly pastured. We'll see when I break them open. So far even the organic and humane grocery store eggs have weak shells and pallid yolks. I think I spent about $65 in 10 minutes! The Man says he doesn't want to eat so much meat and is getting mad at me. I am not sure what to do. Maybe the chicken will make him less mad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No weight loss on a low carb diet for me

I think I'm probably the only person in the world who doesn't lose any weight on a low carb diet. I lost a little the first week, but none since then. I don't have a scale. I'm going by how my clothes fit. They fit no differently. My stomach is still bloated and big. I'll probably be the first person who has to do a starvation low carb diet. And honestly, if it's that much trouble, what is the point? I'd rather eat way more veggies than all this meat. I'm going to keep trying, but if I can eat all the chocolate I want and stay this weight, I'd rather do that than eat bacon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Coconut butter for backpacking

I found a great product today at the health food co-op. It's called coconut butter. It's different from coconut oil or coconut cream. I guess it's like as almond butter is to almonds, coconut butter is to coconuts. It has 186 calories in 2 tablespoons. The jar says not to refrigerate after opening. It is solid until about 80 degrees. The label suggests warming it a little and spreading it on things, or using it to make homemade energy bars. It may make a delicious backpacking food. It could be added to oatmeal or other hot foods or if it's spreadable, I could spread it with almond or peanut butter in a sandwich. Perhaps some kind of homemade energy bar with nuts and cocoa nibs would be good. Apparently many people just eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. I haven't opened it or tasted it yet, but I imagine it is probably a lot better tasting than olive oil, something I have struggled to eat on backpacking trips because it just makes my pot hard to clean without adding any appreciable taste. It was a little expensive, but I think it's worth a try.

I'm planning or at least hoping to go backpacking around Thanksgiving weekend. Either over Thanksgiving or just before or after it. I want to thru-hike the Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail. Actually, I want to yo-yo it. Ha ha. The trail is 18 miles long, but it should actually be just right for a long weekend. I can visit Fishbowls camp to add a little extra distance.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Glendessary Jammers had a party today in Carpinteria. We sat outside in the deck overlooking the lemon and avocado orchards and the ocean. The sun was warm and felt real good. We had a potluck and played music while chickens pecked around in the yard and took dirt baths.

I was able to find something to eat at the potluck: sashimi and a greek salad that had cucumbers instead of lettuce. I was still hungry though. I could have eaten the pesto pate I brought but people were in the way and I couldn't reach it and by the time I thought I could go get some, it had melted in the sun and there were flies touching all the food. I threw it out.

I got sleepy in the sun. I talked to Steve, a guitar player. He wants to run the Red Rock Ultra next year. He said I should run it too next year. It's 50 miles! I can only run about 5. The furthest I walked in one day on the PCT was 36 miles.

This morning at breakfast we saw the wild parrots of Santa Barbara flying overhead. They are mostly lilac-crowned amazons with at least one double-yellow head amazon and the hybrid offspring. It's fun to hear them screeching overhead as they go by. They flew by twice.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My yogurt experiments

I've been making yogurt lately.

I started using pasteurized whole milk, the kind where the cream rises to the top. It made good yogurt.

I've tried goat's milk. It made thin, sour yogurt, but it was really yummy in its own way.

I've tried raw milk. I tried it the normal way, heating the milk to 180 degrees then cooling to 100 before adding the culture. Then I wondered if that wasn't wasting the rawness by cooking it so I tried heating it to 115 and putting the culture in. This did not make good yogurt. It was wet and not well-set and a lot of whey would form each day.

One thing that bothered me was how the heat seemed to ruin the cream. It turned yellow and oily. I'd try to skim off as much as I could before heating and put it back in with the culture after the milk cooled. The cream would rise to the top of the yogurt. Sometimes it did not taste very good, like the culture didn't eat it and it went bad. I also tried adding more cream since I've been adding cream to it anyway when I'm ready to eat it. It didn't make very good yogurt to add more cream during the culture stage.

I'm thinking now that maybe the best formula would be to use low-fat pasteurized milk to make the yogurt and then when it's time to eat it, mix in the cream. I may try that next.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cow-eating bird

My parrot always wants some of whatever I am eating. She'll eat almost anything. Since I've been eating more meat, I've given her meat. She loves it. When in nature would a bird ever eat a cow? A fish I can understand, but a cow or a pig? She loves beef and pork. Today she got eggs. She ate it all up.

She has a fatty tumor. She has been eating one of these supposedly healthy extruded pellet diets, which is largely corn, along with some fresh corn, apples, grapes and other fruits like bananas. The vet said that was too much corn. I tried not giving her the fresh corn but I thought that was silly to withhold the fresh stuff and not the processed stuff. So I switched her to birdseed instead, which I've always been told is junk food for birds. I'm starting to wonder, like with the dietary advice we get that makes us fat and sick, if it's the same for parrots. Unfortunately I do not know what Aratinga acuticaudata actually eats in the wild. Let's hope it's something like cows, pigs, eggs and salmon, birdseed, nuts and fruit.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Symptoms I'm feeling on this diet

Here are the symptoms I'm experiencing on this low carb/high fat diet.
  • Urine smells like acetone sometimes
  • My stomach is getting flatter and my clothes are getting looser. I think I look the same though.
  • I feel a little weak and out of breath sometimes
  • Less hunger. A miraculous lifting of that old hiker hunger that wouldn't go away.
Last night's dinner was salmon poached in grapefruit juice and wine (didn't know what else to do with the grapefruit on the counter). After removing the fish, I reduced the juice until there was very little left, then added cream and egg yolks. It became a quite delicious sauce. I served the fish with delicata squash and swiss chard. I was going to also have rice or a sweet potato but it seemed like too much. Also our bird flew into the tree and we ended up eating this meal as leftovers after The Man finally got the bird down.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Went to the Fiddler's Convention

I had a nice time at the Old Time Fiddler's Convention yesterday. I seem to be getting lucky with my intonation lately, hitting notes that actually sound like notes. I took a workshop at the convention. The instructor told us up, down, up, down, up up etc with the bow. I am a ditz when it comes to that. I couldn't follow very well. I'd always end up going down when I was supposed to go up.

I saw the others from the Irish session I used to go to. I guess I'm done with Irish sessions. The difference between Irish and Old Time is that if you can't play the tunes well in an Irish session, they want you not to play. At the Old Time jam, I sometimes get heckled for not playing. Not knowing the tune is no excuse.

The weather lately has been achingly perfect. It was hot in the sun yesterday and the air was clear and the mountains looked close. This morning it is foggy. Grrrr.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I occupied the streets of downtown Santa Barbara today

I went to the Occupy SB protest today. I marched around downtown with a big sign that someone else had made. It just had a big red 99% on it. People chanted typical protest slogans. We stopped at banks along the way. Some guy yelled at us to get a job. It was pretty fun. I missed all the speeches before the march and if they had any afterward, I didn't stay for them. After the march, I went to the Apple store to look around. I didn't buy anything. There were flowers and apples left in front of the store in memory of Steve Jobs.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Feeling lost without my antagonist, my hunger

Sorry to keep posting on this. I'm sure it is the most boring topic.

Fifth day in a row. Basically a bowl of cream with some nuts for breakfast. No hunger all day. No lunch. No desire for lunch.

I was sitting outside in the afternoon sun waiting for a class to start. I have felt so strange these past few days. I suddenly realized why.

All my life my mind has been preoccupied with food because I'm always hungry. I think about what I'm going to eat next, where I'm going to find food if I go somewhere and get hungry, I pre-eat just in case I go somewhere without access to food. I also worry about food I've eaten. Did I eat too much? Will I get enough exercise to avoid getting fat? Suddenly I have no hunger. Suddenly I have nothing to think about.

I feel like an addict who has nothing to be addicted to anymore. It's shameful to admit, but I kind of feel lost.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Maybe The Man will come on board?

The Man asked me if I have lost weight. 6 weeks of running and tapering down to a low carb diet, I should have lost some. I don't have a scale. My clothes fit slightly looser lately and I don't see the love handles like I did, so it's obviously working. I told him it's miraculous how I'm not hungry during the day if I eat creamy food for breakfast. And I'm not hungry after last night's dinner so I will bring my breakfast to work and eat it later. He was a little grossed out when I told him I ate a half a can of coconut milk for breakfast a few days ago. He thinks it'll kill me. I sent him a link to a NY Times article. This one was called What if it has all been a big fat lie? He worries a lot about his cholesterol. He has arthritis all of a sudden. His back hurts all the time. He's not as thin as he once was. He takes a ton of supplements to try to ward off disease. Drinks tart cherry juice every day. He doesn't take well to proselytizing (who does) so we'll see if I can find help for him.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

So far the low carb high fat thing is working

I ate the same high-fat breakfast as yesterday and found myself once again not hungry at lunch time.

I made hamburger patties for dinner but instead of making hamburger sandwiches from them, I sauteed mushrooms, onions and sweet potatoes in the grease and added a little wine and cream. It was delicious. I didn't even want to eat the entire pile of potatoes.

I didn't run today at lunch. Instead I walked to the food coop in Isla Vista because I saw online they have grass-fed beef. It was in the frozen aisle. Apparently there's a meat market in town that also has it. I will see if they have it unfrozen.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Hunger vanished today

I'm usually fairly hungry most of the time, especially since hiking the PCT. My main strategy to deal with hunger is to identify healthy low-calorie foods and then try to fill up my stomach with as much of it as I can so that I can go a long time without eating. This strategy doesn't actually work though. Of course, eating very little doesn't actually work, either. So that's been the closest I've been able to come to success so far.

Today for breakfast I had some creme fraiche, which is sort of a cultured cream. I mixed it 1/2 and 1/2 with my homemade yogurt. I put a few nuts on top. I have no idea the calories, but with about 1/4 cup of cream, it had to be a lot. Thing is, I didn't eat lunch. I wasn't hungry. I wasn't hungry the whole rest of the day. I even exercised during my whole lunch break.

I'm usually starved by lunch and I exercise in a starved state and then eat my lunch in a ravenous state. This was quite a change. It's odd to feel so calm about it.

I'm hungry now, though. We'll see what dinner has in store. Will I make dinner? Will The Man? Who knows.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Yummy dinner tonight

I made a really good dinner tonight. I cooked ahi tuna steaks in coconut oil. After the steaks were cooked I added a spoonful of crushed pineapple and a little packet of ginger spice I found in the fridge (we were out of fresh ginger) and some cream to the pan to create a sauce. On the side I served plantain fried in coconut oil. Our "salad" was a half avocado and a few cherry tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar. The Man was very enthusiastic about this dinner. I thought it came out pretty darn good. It's all part of my plan to convert us to eating an Archevore diet.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

PCT interview questions

Someone emailed the PCT-L asking for answers to some interview questions. Even though I wasn't a thru-hiker and didn't hike this year, here are mine.

What was the purpose of your thru-hike?
It was something I have wanted to do since I was 10 years old. That year, 1975, my dad got a National Geographic book about the PCT. I wanted to hike it ever since I read that book. The pictures in Washington looked wet, brooding and scary so I never wanted to hike that part. I settled on hiking the whole state of California as my goal and that's what I set out to do in 2008. I didn't make it all the way. I only made it to Dunsmuir. So I returned the following year and completed the trail, including adding a little 100 mile section from my front door in Santa Barbara out to where the trail meets Hikertown, re-hiking Hikertown to Cottonwood Pass, then picking up sections I missed in 2008 due to chickening out or fires and then resuming where I left off and finishing the rest of the trail to the Canadian border. I decided to hike the whole trail because after I got a taste of long trail hiking and saw some stunning pictures of Washington, I decided I just had to see the whole thing.

What were your expectations for walking the trail? For completing it?
I honestly expected it to be a solitary wilderness experience. I was shocked when it wasn't, but not in a bad way. I fell in love with how social and fun it was, how it was like a tour of small-town California. On my second hike it was very much the solitary wilderness experience I had originally expected because I hiked outside the main body of thru-hikers. I loved this solitary experience. I enjoyed it more than the more social experience the year before. I felt like a secret wood nymph living in the forest, peering out at a curious world of cars and machines, a strange world I no longer was a part of. That was a really special feeling.

It was a very difficult experience, though. I did get lonely. I had someone back home and I felt guilty leaving him home to work and take care of my animals (parrots) while I was out having a grand adventure, not once but twice. Somewhere around Crater Lake the mosquitoes became extremely vicious and this brought my morale down. After that, I struggled every day with loneliness and wanting to go home. At the same time I was not ready to go home and I knew it.

I had this experience hiking somewhere in the middle of Oregon. I totally had a vision of myself at monument 78. I was overcome with emotion right then. I KNEW with absolute certainty that I was going to make it and I knew exactly what it would feel like. A sort of burden lifted off me. All I had to do was keep going. It was impossible to quit because I knew I had already in a way finished the trail. I just had to make it so.

That did not make it easier, though. It was still very hard. I was scared much of the time. I was starving. I was running from mosquitoes and dreading scary river crossings. Later I was running from rain. I hiked 30 mile days, sometimes two in a row, to get out of the wilderness to somewhere where the air wasn't prickling with proboscises or slapping me in the face with wet leaves. Still, through all that, I felt like I belonged out there, that I was doing the thing I was put on this earth to do.

Another story: In Ashland I was hitchhiking and someone picked me up and like many others they were amazed at what I was doing and like many others they all had some kind of big dream tucked away for that "someday". Somehow meeting me was making that dream come alive for them. It suddenly became apparent that my hike was not for me only. It was to help others awaken their own dreams. For the first time in my life I was actually making the world a better place. Knowing that I was doing something meaningful in this world helped me keep going. There was a purpose for all this.

If you didn't complete your thru-hike, what changed?
I didn't complete my first attempt to hike the whole state of California because my feet broke down. I made a mistake and bought shoes that hurt my feet. I had shooting pains that felt like my metatarsals were broken. At the same time, I was feeling lonely. I missed my birds back home. I had this strange experience on one of my final days where I was just talking out loud to my pet bird at home as I was walking down the trail. A day or two later, I went home. When I got home my boyfriend told me of this strange experience the previous day or two. He was sure he heard my bird greeting me coming up the stairs. He was so sure he ran to the front door to see if I was there. So when I went home, I really knew I was supposed to go home. In a way, I had already gone home.

At a Christmas party a few months later I was just standing there eating something when this lady, a neighbor, walked into the party and made a beeline to me. She said she was so glad I was at the party because she came to tell me that she had this sense that I needed to finish something I started and that she really needed to find me and tell me this. She asked me if there was anything I had started and not finished and I told her about the trail and she said I had to go back. I was so relieved. She sort of gave me permission to go ahead and go back. It's what I really wanted to do but I was having trouble letting myself admit it.

If you did complete your thru hike, were your expectations met?
My expectations for a great experience were met. How I thought it would feel at monument 78 was exactly how it did feel. Emerging from the trail at the trailhead in Canada was a huge enormous let-down though. It was the saddest thing I've ever experienced. There was some thru-hiker trying to hitchhike on the highway. We never spoke. There was nobody there to meet me. No celebration. Nothing like breaking the tape at the end of the marathon. Nothing. You just reach the end of the dirt and find yourself on a paved road. There's not even a sign to take a picture of or anything. I choked and sobbed over some pancakes at the lodge and felt totally lost. What now? My boyfriend was supposed to have met me on the trail and somehow we missed each other, so that was part of it, but I think I would have felt lost anyway. When he finally turned up with another hiker that I had met and hiked with a little, we had a big celebration and then it finally felt complete.

What has been nice has been all the little things after. It's like I walk around with a big secret inside. There's another world out there not like this one. There are things I've done, memories, accomplishments that nobody can take away from me. Before if a boss yelled at me I felt threatened I might lose something and bad about myself for not measuring up. I got a really crappy job after the hike where the boss yelled at everyone. When he yelled at me I knew there was nothing he could take away from me. He didn't have the power to scare me.

This year had a lot of snow and unusual weather ? how did this effect your experience of the trail?
I only section hiked this year. I experienced some of the unusual weather. I had a great time despite the misery.

What role did challenge, sacrifice, and/or discipline play in your trail experience? In your ideas about the trail?
The day I crossed the Suiattle River over that log was the happiest day of my life. You have no idea how much that log loomed over me and scared the living daylights out of me. When I got there, I cinched up my pack tight and walked over it standing up. When I got to the other side, I felt so great! There was now nothing between me and Canada. It felt almost like reaching the monument itself only happier because I wasn't done with the trail. There was still some of the best part of it left.

I didn't really like to be challenged quite as much as I was. I had gone in hoping for a quiet, contemplative experience. I had that most of the time, but these interludes of scary stuff were often just way too much for me. After I did the section between Tuolmne Meadows and Sonora Pass in 2009, I didn't want to see any more snow or creek crossings again. I had been considering re-doing the section from Sonora Pass to Lake Tahoe, but after swimming creeks that were over my head and generally being terrified most of the time in Section I, I decided to keep to my original plan. I skipped redoing Section J and took a bus north so I could hike Quincy-La Porte road to Highway 36 which had been closed in 2008. 2009 was a high snow year but not as high as this year. I can't imagine what this year would have been like.

How much of walking the trail is Physical? Spiritual? Mental? Emotional?
It's really all these things. It is physically demanding to hike a marathon every day. It feels great to be able to do it though. That was one of the best things about the hike was feeling so athletic and powerful. I've never been athletic so it felt great to be so strong. I did have to take a lot of zero days to recover though.

The hunger is a big physical issue. I don't read a lot about this aspect, but I think the hunger and poor food damaged my metabolism. I ate as much as I could but out on the trail I was constantly hungry. I lost a lot of weight but never got real thin. I gained all the weight back and have struggled with hunger ever since. If I do anything that is physically demanding coupled with a calorie deficit I get panicky hunger like I had on the trail. I'm still searching for a solution because I would like to lose the weight I gained back and feel healthy and hunger-free, if that's even possible for a woman my age. Also, my feet still hurt after two years off the trail.

It was a huge mental challenge. The mental challenge is the hardest part. It is mentally exhausting to hike in snowmelt. You have to search for every step. It's much easier when the trail is clean and easy. You just put your head down and go. After a while, even that becomes a mental challenge. My life had become reduced to hiking and nothing else. There were so many other things I used to do. I even started missing going to a job.

Emotionally it was a challenge, especially going solo. It was probably better for me to be solo because there was nobody to project any negative feelings on. I couldn't blame anyone or dump my emotions on anyone or spiral out of control with complaining. I was scared a lot and lonely and hungry and I was alone. There was nothing to do but put all feelings aside and just keep going. So many times I would come into town and go get something to eat first thing and it would be like the world would shift from black and white to in color again. I literally could see colors again. Without realizing it, I had had to shut something down inside. At the same time, I would start crying sometimes as I woke up. Man it was so hard to be out there alone like that! But I wouldn't have done it any other way and I would do it alone again in a heart beat.

Spiritual is a strange word. I grew up a Lutheran but I don't go to church or believe in any of that like I used to. I hate when people mix up church and spirituality, too. I think they are different. But I have to say that the whole time out there I felt like I was getting Bible lessons.

Jesus said (something like) leave everything and follow me. Here I was carrying almost nothing and walking walking walking. I felt like this is how people are meant to live. I had so few possessions and needed so little to be happy. Exercise, food, friendship, hard physical labor and a relative deprivation of "things" and comforts made me incredibly content, happy, satisfied, giddy with freedom. Jesus wasn't saying something all mysterious. Literally, leave it all behind and walk!

There is also a verse in the Bible about looking at the birds for an example, how they don't store things or worry about the future and yet they are taken care of. There's the trail magic people usually talk about, the stuff like coolers and getting rides, but there was another kind of trail magic that doesn't get talked about quite as much. There's a special serendipity on the trail. Everything you need will eventually come to you, often just at the moment when you need it most. I broke my sunglasses and while I'm trying one last time to figure out a way to make them work, I look up and there's a pair of sunglasses in a tree. Little things like that. People who help you out exactly when you need help the most but they don't realize they are helping you out. Those are the real trail angels.

There's a similar verse about lilies in the field being clothed in beauty. I felt like the wealthiest woman in the whole world because I had all the wildflowers anyone could ever want. I wished that everyone could experience the freedom of living out of a pack and how the less you have the happier you are and the more flowers you see the richer you are. I didn't need money and status to be happy. I needed time and flowers.

Then of course there is all that woo woo spirituality like the vision of myself at monument 78, talking to my pet bird on the trail and having her hear me back home, having that lady come to me at the party. I can't discount that sort of thing. The trail has an energy you can tap into and for a brief time I was tapped into it. I felt it. It's a real thing. The trail is the most linear place I've ever lived and yet it felt like time and distance became non-linear, that at times I was literally in two places and times at once, that there were little rifts and I could see through to the other side. I think this energy is here in regular life, too, but there's so much noise it's hard to tap into it.

Did walking the trail change you?
Yeah, it did in a lot of ways. Mostly in the confidence and peace I feel inside.

What does the trail mean or symbolize to you? Did this change before and after your journey?
When I go back for a section hike, it's like "Ahh, I'm home".

Anything else you'd like to add?

Gosh, I hope that's enough. I talked your ears off.