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NaNoWriMo – I Accept the Challenge

I’m about to embark on my busiest month ever!  NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which runs from 1-30 November every year.  It’s a challenge for aspiring and professional novelists to crank out a first draft of a novel in 30 days.  The goal is to write 50,000 words in November or 1,666 words a day, I think, correct me if I’m wrong.  To be a winner, you have to start a new project and upload it in the last days of the contest to verify your word count.  Your price for meeting the minimum 50,000 words is nothing of monetary value, but the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment to knock out a first draft of your very own novel.  In addition you get a Winner Badge for your webpage or blog and a certificate for bragging rights.

Is this your first novel?

Actually, I have two projects that I’m already working on.  One is a German memoir about my adventures of being an Army wife (I’m about half way through my first draft).  The other one is a romance novel set in a small town in Georgia.  The idea for this one came when I finished reading the latest book of my favorite author, Lynn Kurland, and no other book could measure up, so I decided to just write my own.

So what am I writing about during NaNo?

I had this idea a few months ago to write a novel which is set in my hometown of Heidelberg, Germany, involving a ghost and an American writer helping him find a jewelry box from his time, so he can be set free.

Why?

I’ve made the decision to put myself through this creative torture to prove to myself that I can actually finish a manuscript.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect first draft, and I don’t expect it to.  Just the thought to actually finish one is pretty cool.  Editing and polishing can come later.

What’s next?

I’ve already have a basic plot & character work that I knocked out in the last 2 days.  Tonight, I’m trying to make a rough outline.  Then in 2 hours, the fun begins… (12:01 a.m.  November 1).  Actually, I’ll be sleeping by then – hopefully, because I have to work tomorrow morning….   My netbook is charged and ready to go for some lunchtime typing.  I’m so excited!!!

Obviously, there won’t be many blog-posts in November due to NaNo, but I will keep you posted on my progress and stats.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Novel Writing

 

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Me, exercise, who would’ve thought?

Bgpictures yoga 01

Image via Wikipedia

I hate exercise, can’t stand to sweat, and don’t like to feel exhausted.  Yep, that’s me.  Sound familiar?  Imagine the surprise when, one day out of the blue, I had a strong urge to do some yoga – not the strenuous power-yoga, but more like the stretching type.  Ya know, a girl gotta start somewhere.  So after work, I cooked dinner as usual and after we ate, I still had yoga on the brain.

Determined to do a short, mild session, I scoured my shelves for old workout tapes and DVDs, when I remembered that I still had that WiiFit Plus game floating around in our guest room.  I know, it’s not the perfect tool, but for my purposes it was great.  After changing the batteries in my controller and board, and figuring out how to setup my workout, I did two short sessions of basic yoga poses.  To my surprise, it felt very good to stretch out and I noticed that especially my arms and legs seemed to have gotten a bit of a workout in that short amount of time.

Once I finished my programmed sessions, which lasted only 15 minutes or so, I didn’t want to stop “playing” just yet and decided to try my skills with a few of my favorite balance games (ski-slalom, balance table, etc.)  Considering that I haven’t played this game in a couple of months, I did pretty good.

What do I credit this burst of energy and weird behavior to?  I may be wrong, but I think that changing to a grain, sugar and starch free diet, and consuming mostly whole foods (again, did not kick the diet coke habit yet), not only helped me to shed some pounds (almost 20 so far), but I also feel like I need to move around more often.  My legs are no longer swelling up like balloons and for some reason my body is so much more flexible, probably because the swelling is gone.  This lifestyle really works for me and I have no plans of going back to my old bad habits.  I’m going to stay primal for life.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Exercise, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Weekend Binge Danger Zone Reframed

Calendar

Image by studiocurve via Flickr

Not staying low-carb on weekends has been my downfall in my weight-loss journey so far.  As soon as I ate something high-carb, my entire weekend turned into a food fest, which undid all of the body-healing progress I’ve made throughout the week.

My Binge Pattern:

As I mentioned in several of my posts, on workdays, I hardly have any cravings at all.  I can even walk by the sweets and cupcakes people leave by the coffee paraphernalia for others to enjoy.  Actually, all unwanted treats from coworkers land there.  “Someone will eat it.” is the common attitude.  And indeed, someone will eventually eat it … just not me.

The trouble starts Friday evening.  Here’s what usually goes through me head: “Weekend!!! It’s time to relax.  Let’s do something special as a family.  Let’s eat out!  I’m going to eat whatever, just for this meal and I’ll get back on track after we leave the restaurant.  Okay, I’ll have some sweets, that’s it for tonight.  I’ll reset over night, let’s go to the store and grab some stuff.”  Saturday goes sort of like this: “Hmmm, I didn’t eat those snack cakes last night.  Let me eat them and get them out of the way, then start over afterwards.  Heck I already started, might as well keep going…”  Once Monday comes around, I’m about 3-4 lbs heavier again, I feel puffy, swollen, and lethargic, combined with a mild, annoying headache and the question looming over my head: “Why the hell did I do this again?”

The bad thing is, there are many places where I could actually break the binge-cycle, but my mind is on overdrive and I go on autopilot.  I don’t seem to have control anymore of what goes into my mouth.  Sweet stuff is all I can think about and I am driven to fulfill that need. The sad thing is, it is never enough. So, my only solution is not to start at all.  But how can I do this?

Reframing:

Back in the old Weight Watchers days, I’ve learned about a tool called refraiming, where you replace a belief or thought with another, more positive one.  Here is how I want to change my thinking for now:

  • Weekends are danger zones – turns into – Weekends are opportunities to learn more about healing my body (more podcasts to listen to, reading, try new recipes that I don’t have time for during the week, etc.)
  • I can have just one of these – turns into – I rather stay on the straight path I’m on right now.  (I imagine the path of binging to be loopy with many d-tours).  If that doesn’t work, walk away and the cravings will diminish.
  • Whatever. I don’t care. I don’t want to do anything – turns into – What do I really feel?  Am I blocking something out?

So for this week, I’ll be practicing my reframing skills and post about my progress as I go along.

Next, I’d like to hear from you readers if reframing has worked for you.  What thoughts have you changed? Have you noticed any changes in your thinking, your mood, your behavior?  Just leave a comment below to share your experience.

Until next time,

Nickie

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Sunday – Day 7 Back on Low-Carb – Danger Zone

It’s not over yet – I’m still in the danger-zone for binging, since I have another day off tomorrow for Columbus day. But it’s not all doom and gloom.  My plan is to stay busy and productive and spend some time out of the house.  Usually, a change of scenery does wonders in lifting my spirits.

So far, this is day 7 back on low-carb after an all-weekend binge last week.  I’m not back to my pre-binge weight yet, but I can’t change that, so I’m not stressing over it.  Today I was 99% on track (other than drinking diet coke, but that’s something I don’t really want to give up just yet), and I’m happy with that.

Today’s project was to spend some time learning about blogging.  Wow, I still feel like a newby when it comes to writing a decent blog and getting people to read it. I’m going to cut today’s post short, so I can add some of my favorite low-carb blogs and podcast links to my blog page.  I meant to do this for a few months now, just didn’t get around to do it yet.  Feel free to click on a few of them.  Maybe there’s something you like.

What I’ve learned: 

Using better tags and categories, writing better headlines, searching and following other blogs & tags. Wohoo, watch out WordPress, ’cause here I come!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Cooking Tripe – Banned!!!

Tripe stew is a common dish in southern Germany, where I am from.  It’s actually parts of cow, pork, or lamb stomachs and has a neutral taste and kind of a chewy texture. My Grandma used to spend all day in the kitchen preparing it and cooking it in a white thick stew.  After living 18 years in the United States, we came back to Germany and I figured that I should give cooking tripe stew another try, just hadn’t been that successful over the years – after all, nobody can make it as good as Grandma made it!!!

So I went to the Commissary and bought a frozen pack of tripe and made myself smart online on how to prepare it, while it defrosted.  To my dismay, when I opened the pack, I realized that my tripe was still green, not the already pre-boiled type you get from the butcher shop. Green tripe is supposed to be excellent to make dog food out of.  So, I googled some more and found out how to clean and prep it myself.

I dumped the contents of the bag in a colander and rinsed it several times.  Peeeyew!!!  It smelled so bad like stable, but I knew it was supposed to.  Then I took each section and peeled off the inner membrane, the stomach lining, and picked the “green” bits of grassy material from it.  Then I transferred the cleaned tripe into a bowl of cold salt water to soak overnight in the fridge.

Only one minor problem remained – my hands stank to high heaven and not even dish-soap could get rid of the ode a’la pig style.  It was really bad.  I was desperate, so I tried some spa hand-scrub stuff I had in one of my bathroom drawers.  It actually worked and my hands smelled like I just took a nice bubble bath…

The next day, I poured the tripe into a colander and rinsed it again.  Now it was time to boil it in some salt water for a while.  Again, I knew it would smell kind of stablely again – that’s normal.  When my husband and teenage sons came back, they almost walked out backwards.  “Holy crap, what smells like a..?” my husband asked.  My sons were a little more polite.  I told them that I was making “Kutteln” and we’d have it for dinner tonight.  I used the German word, so they didn’t know what they would be eating and at least give it a try.  They about gagged.

Finally, after it cooked for about 3 hours, I rinsed the tripe again and cut the pieces into thin strips.  Since I’m following a primal lifestyle, I didn’t want to use the thick, white soup, since it’s prepared with flour.  Instead, I heated up some ghee (clarified butter) in a pan, glazed some onions, and added the tripe strips.  For a finish touch I spiced the dish with some salt, pepper, a bay leaf and a bit of ground cloves and let the stuff cook for a bit.

When my tripe was finished, I put it in a bowl and sat down at the dinner table, not knowing what to expect.  For some reason, I felt very lonely at the table.  Yet, I got over my initial aversion and tried a fork full.  Actually, it didn’t turn out too bad.  It was chewy, as I thought, and the flavor was surprisingly not like the smell.  I called my kids down from their rooms to have them try some of my yummy dish.  Reluctantly, they took a bite – gotta give them that much credit – then, when I asked them if they wanted a plate full, they politely declined.  Somehow, my starving children were no longer feeling hungry.  I didn’t even attempt to ask my husband to try it.  He made it clear the day before that he will not have a single bite of that stuff.  Well, after about half of a small bowl, I had enough, covered the rest, and put it into the fridge for consumption at a later day/time.  My husband told me: “You better put it out in the sun to heat it up, because you’re not cooking that sh.. in the house!”

This morning when I went into the kitchen to feed my begging kitties, the smell of tripe still lingered in the air and my family had no problems in saying so.  My husband finally said that tripe is “FORBIDDEN IN OUR HOUSE, FOREVER MORE!”

Moral of the story:  Just because something smells like a.., it doesn’t have to taste like sh..!

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Low-Carb Diet, Recipes

 

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Saturday – Day 6 Back on Low-Carb – Danger Zone

My Monster Kitties

Yes, it’s Saturday and I’m off work for a 3-day weekend.  I did sleep in, about an hour past my usual wake-up time, and slowly made my way down-stairs to feed my little monster-kitties (see picture).

As I sat on the couch, trying to figure out what to do with my day, I remembered that I had some pictures that I needed to download from my cameras.  Organizing, cropping, tagging, and adding descriptions in Photoshop took a little while and I was thankful when my husband brought me a small plate with a sunny-side up egg and 2 1/2 breakfast sausages he had cooked up.  Once I had my photo project completed and my files backed up, I finally got in the shower and got myself ready for a trip to post and into town to get some shopping done with hubby.

While at the German grocery store, I picked up a nice, big celeriac (the root of a celery stalk) to make some low-carb french fries.  Don picked up a small bag of frozen curly fries for himself.  As we were nearing the registers, he stopped at the chips display to pick some snacks to munch on while doing some college work later on this evening.  I helped him look for some croissant sticks, but after a minute or two, I felt some cravings creeping up and I had no intentions to cave in.  So I told him that I needed to walk away, before the switch in my head flips and my all-or-nothing mentality takes over.  He understood and we paid for our groceries.  My cravings dissipated shortly after.

Currywurst

Image by Roel via Flickr

For dinner, we had rib-eyes and fries.  I topped my celeriac fries, which I had seasoned with season-all after I fried them in lard, with some mayonnaise and sprinkled a bit of curry powder on top.  Yummy!  In Germany, many people top their fries with mayo, and/or ketchup.  We also eat a lot of curry-wurst, a big hot-dog (about the diameter of a bratwurst), slice it, and top it with curry sauce (a hot ketchup sauce with a bit of curry in it) and sprinkle it with curry powder. Curry wursts usually are served with fries, which you also dip into the sauce (see picture on right).  It tastes like heaven!  But since commercial ketchup is out for me, mayo and curry powder work really well as condiments for fries.

When I was getting ready to go to bed, I noticed that I overdid it with the rib-eye steak and the fries and felt a bit nauseous.  I popped 2 tums, hoping it’ll take the yucky feeling away.  Eventually I felt better and drifted off to sleep while listening to some low-carb / paleo podcasts.

What I’ve learned:

Removing myself from a situation that causes cravings helps me to think clear again.  Then I can make a decision, if I really want to go down the path of binging or I can figure out what I really want, something crunchy, sweet, salty, if anything at all.  Maybe a low-carb version of the food will do the trick.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Friday – Day 5 Back on Low-Carb – Danger Zone

It’s Friday and again, I’m entering the danger zone – the weekend.  This is when I have the toughest time staying low-carb. Weekends, for most people, is the time to relax and recharge their batteries for a new workweek.  It’s the perfect time for family get-togethers, BBQs, going to dinner and a movie…  All weekend activities seem to involve food.  So here’s how my Friday went:

Morning:

Nothing extra-ordinary to tell ya, so I won’t bore you to death with my mundane morning routine.

Work:

Took my bottle of bone-broth to work and heated up a cup full in the morning, while doing some tedious proof-reading.  Later on I finally received a notification e-mail that I had a package at the post office.  I’ve ordered, which I believe has been my most expensive jacket in my life.  It’s a 3-in-1 Columbia jacket (see the picture) and I’m hoping that it lives up to my expectations, after all, I’ll be wearing it for many years….  So, all morning I was sitting on pins and needles, hoping that it was the jacket that’s waiting at the post office for me.

Come lunch time, I grabbed my umbrella (yes, a nice rain jacket would be nice at about right now) and headed to the post office.  Sure enough, the clerk brought out a big, flat Columbia box.  I was so excited!  As soon as I made it to the car, I used my key to cut the tape on the box and pulled out my awesome jacket.  The color was even prettier than I expected.  Still, I was worried that it wouldn’t fit, since the reviews said it runs very small.  I usually wear an XL top, so per the reviews, I should’ve probably ordered a 3X, which was no longer available – so I ordered a 2X instead.  To my surprise, I was able to zip it up and it fit like a glove, even with thick liner and all.  Woohoo!  Of course, as soon as I stepped out of the car with my fluffy jacket, the rain ceased and the sun came out – dang, suddenly I was really hot…  This omni-heat feature sure works!  Yes, I’m so excited and ready for the Bavarian Winter to start.

Lunch today was just a 1/2 Subway Salad with double meat and I was full, so I saved some for later, if I wanted it.  During the afternoon, I had a bunch more pistachios (as opposed to my colleague’s kit-kat bars) and another cup of broth.

Dinner:

For dinner I made some tripe.  It’s a common dish in southern Germany and my Grandma used to make it a lot when I was a kid, so I decided that I would give it a shot myself.  Well, it was quite an experience, which I’ll devote a separate post to.  Yikes!

Gosh, I was facing temptation earlier this evening when my son made a batch of brownies.  I really didn’t want to mess up my weekend again, so I just had a square of dark chocolate instead, and then we sat down to watch the newest episode of Vampire Diaries.  So for today – I’m safe.

What I’ve learned:

Cheating with carb-bombs is over-rated and not worth the trouble.  Now I just gotta remember that when the next craving strikes!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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