Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Undetermined.

Yesterday saw mixed results on the shopping front.

On the good side, I was able to make a trip to Deerfield Farm.  While they haven't yet replied to my email, I figured that I could get the answers in person.
It wasn't a terribly far drive so we got there in a fairly short amount of time.  Granted, it will be a bit inconvenient to make the trip on a weekly basis but I hope to be able to work it in.  What I found when I got there was better than I had anticipated.  I was, in fact, able to confirm that their cows are primarily grass-fed.  While they do feed a little grain (no corn), the cows are primarily pastured or fed hay that is grown and bailed on the farm.  The milk produced is neither pasteurized nor homogenized and they offer it in quart, half-gallon, and gallon sizes.  Prices are not ridiculously out of reach, either.  Sure, they are a bit more expensive than your average grocery store options, but compared to The Farmer's Cow milk that I had been using it is actually cheaper.
In addition to the raw milk they sell, I found that they sell eggs that they get from another local farmer.  The eggs are from free-range chickens.  I am really happy with this added bonus - it makes the trip that much more worth it.  Again, these are a bit more expensive than the average grocery store options.
While we were there, we were able to go into the barn and see the cows.  We all enjoyed that.  The cows are very friendly and seemed to love the attention.  We also talked to Melynda about their 4H club, The Jolly Ranchers.  While our girls are already members of the Cromwell Clovers club, there is no reason why they cannot participate in an additional club.  The Jolly Ranchers meet on the first Sunday of every month from 1-3 PM.

After leaving the farm, we had a couple of errands to run.  We found ourselves out in Newington near the Stew Leonard's grocery store.  I had fairly high hopes for what I would find there.  Unfortunately, most of those hopes were a little too high.  I was mostly interested in their meat selection hoping to find some grass-fed options.  This was not to be.  In fact, one section of their meat department - their best-selling meat selection - had a large sign proudly proclaiming the beef's corn-fed status!  In addition, there was a looping video featuring Stew Leonard talking about their 'naked' beef.  He proudly exclaims that the cows used for this line of meat are 100% grain-fed.
In order to salvage this trip to the store, we decided to shop around a bit and see what else might suit my needs.  Sadly, I found very little that would make it worth the added drive on a regular basis.  Perhaps making an added stop on our quasi-monthly trip to Sam's Club to pick up some things that are better than other local options might be in order.  I just don't see us shopping there on a weekly basis.

In the undetermined category...  We went to rent a movie to watch as a family.  While at the store, I decided to also rent The Biggest Loser for the Wii.  I wanted to see what it had to offer over the Wii Fit Plus that we already own.  Due to other events of the day (as described above), I have not yet had the opportunity to evaluate it.  Hopefully today I will be able to pop it in and give it a try and see if it is worth the $40.00 price tag.  While I enjoy the Wii Fit Plus, a little variety would be nice once in a while.  Besides, if it proves to be better, I am open to making a switch.  I would also like to try out the Nintendo DS version of The Biggest Loser to see what it offers.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 3 coming to a close.

Thus begins the last day of week 3 - halfway through phase 2.  As I suspected, it is a whole lot easier to prepare meals as the allowed foods have increased.  I still don't have a good source of grass-fed meats and eggs, though.  As well, I have yet to get a response from Deerfield Farm regarding their milk and, due to other constraints, I have not yet been able to visit them in person.  I am not discouraged, though.  Overall, I am pretty pleased with my ability to comply with the guidelines of The Maker's Diet.

A change for the better (though, still not optimal):  On my last trip to the grocery store, I was not too surprised when they did not have the yogurt I originally purchased.  As such, I looked at a different brand - Stonyfield Farm - both as a result of personal experience and a friend's recommendation (thanks again, Josh).  Their yogurt is made from pasteurized milk which makes it less than an optimal choice.  The plain yogurt has added pectin and Vitamin D3.  Given that Stonyfield Farm is 'organic,' I am not worried about these additives being synthetic.  This brand is a bit more palatable than the other one, though it still needs some help.  After blending the 'cream top' into the rest of the tub, scooped out a serving.  To it, I added a little honey (allowed in phase 2 - though it is supposed to be raw unlike what I have at home), some flax seeds, and some cinnamon.  I was amazed at what a little bit of doctoring could do to this otherwise very bland yogurt!  While I am still hoping for a yogurt that is made from raw milk, this will suit me nicely until I find one.

My exercise continues to be fairly regular.  I still have some days where any activity at all just seems to be out of the question.  I had started off the year with the hope of learning T'ai Chi as well as doing other activities in order to work towards being symptom-free.  Well, it seems that my balance is a little too shaky for T'ai Chi.  Though I still hope to learn this art, I will need to put it off until I can manage the stability it requires.  Granted, practicing it will also help to improve that stability but it is just a little bit beyond my reach at the moment.  As such, I have really dug into the Wii Fit Plus as a major source of my exercise.  I like the fact that it tracks your activity and progress and even allows you to input your non-Wii activity - any physical activity you do that does not involve the Wii Fit Plus.  The improvements they made - the 'Plus' - add quite a lot to the experience. Some critics claim that the Wii Fit Plus does not provide a true workout.  That may be true if you are a trained athlete.  However, for the average person, the workout that you are able to do with it is quite comprehensive and can be very effective.  With the addition of the estimated calorie burn counter, it also provides an idea of how effective the various activities are.

Well, it wasn't too long ago that I was saying that there were really no measurable results to report, and that still remains to be true except for one category.  As of yesterday, I am 20 lbs. lighter than I was on January 1st!  Again, The Maker's Diet is not primarily intended for weight loss though it is not contrary to it either.  I am definitely encouraged by this progress.  I have no doubt that losing all (or at least most) of the weight that I gained - thanks to the corticosteroids I was prescribed to initially combat the symptoms and the almost completely sedentary lifestyle that was thrust upon me - will result in a positive change in my symptoms.  Of course, losing weight is reward enough on its own.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

'New' Discovery!

Yesterday, my girls spent a good portion of the day at the UConn Extension Center in Haddam for a 4H Skill-a-thon event.  This center is pretty much used as the headquarters for the Middlesex/New Haven counties' 4H clubs.  While there, Rae found a brochure for Deerfield Farm in Durham, CT and brought it home to me as it advertised raw milk!  Raw milk from grass-fed cows is one of the staples of The Maker's Diet.  I immediately clicked on to their website to learn more about Deerfield Farm.  Though their website mentions that they "let the cows eat the grass = less tractor usage on some fields = less emissions into the air & less manure to spread," it does not say that their cows are 100% grass fed.  As such, I contacted them to inquire about their cows' diet and I am awaiting a response.  I am hoping that they will be able to tell me that their cows are indeed grass fed - at least primarily.  While they have been in business for quite some time, this is a new discovery for me - and I am VERY excited about it!

Additionally, on our grocery shopping trip, I picked up a package of ground bison.  While I haven't been able to verify if it is grass fed or not, bison is raised differently than cattle - primarily allowed to graze on open fields rather than in smaller, fenced in pastures.  It is generally more environmentally friendly as they will not over-graze.  One thing that I was able to find out is that no hormones are used on bison.  They are raised naturally.  At $4.99 per pound, it is a little bit more expensive than the ground beef that you would normally buy, but not too much more.  I am still hoping to find a reasonably priced source of grass fed meats.  I am encouraged that a friend of mine will likely be starting on The Maker's Diet as well.  I am hoping that we can plan our purchases so that we can get bulk discounts and split shipping costs, though I would much prefer to buy locally.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Phase 1 comes to an end...

I find myself at the end of the second week of The Maker's Diet with only a couple of bumps along the way.  Granted, I didn't always follow the recommendations exactly, but I came as close as I could without too much additional effort.  My plan is to progress in my food sources (grass-fed, organic, etc.) as I grow more comfortable with the acceptable foods.  The really good news is that with the onset of Phase 2 comes a larger selection of foods.  While processed foods are still taboo (and always will be), more fruits are now on the acceptable list.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the first 2 weeks - with the exception of the cheat meal I mentioned in an earlier post.  I do feel a little better, though the tingling/numbness in my feet and legs hasn't subsided - not that I expected it to this early on.  I am fairly certain that my progress would have been a little better if I had been able to make better food choices, but at this early stage I am not at all discouraged.  I figure that I have been eating less-than-optimal foods for so long now that any progress is better than nothing.  I know that I will eventually get to where I want to be nutritionally.

So, Phase 2 began with a bang, today.  I started the day - after taking Ginger for a brief walk - with an omelet and an apple.  Being denied something - even if it is something that you might normally not eat for a couple of weeks - causes that something to taste all that much better.  This was probably the best apple I have ever eaten!  Shortly after finishing my breakfast, I promptly fell asleep again.
Upon waking for the second time of the day, I decided to get some exercise done.  The girls had gone to their 4H meeting, so I had the house to myself.  As a result, I turn on my Wii, popped in my Wii Fit Plus and proceeded to log a little over an hour of activity!  About the time that I was ready to call it quits, the girls came home.  I had hoped to be done and showered prior to their return, but I went a little longer than expected.  As it turned out, Rae needed some help with some stage combat choreography for a play she is directing for a homeschool group so I helped her with that - surprised that I had the energy to do it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A couple of days later...

OK, so the last couple of days were really busy!  Some good things as well as some not so good things came as a result.

First, the bad...  I found myself in a situation where I didn't have a very good choice for food.  On Friday, we took the family to New York to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  Though the plan was to pick up something to eat at Dunkin' Donuts at the New Haven train station, I got up early enough to make myself breakfast.  I knew that my chances of eating right later in the day were going to be slim, so I decided to start the day right and not compound the problem.  Sure enough, as the day went on it was fairly obvious that my only two choices were to find something to eat in New York or wait until we got home.  As it was, my choices were further narrowed as we only had time to find something quick to eat at Grand Central Station.  The result?  I ended up cheating for that meal.  Not to over-rationalize things but cheating is not a terribly big problem - as long as you don't let it derail you entirely. 

On the positive side, we went grocery shopping on Saturday and I was able to pick up a few more foods from the acceptable list.  I stocked up on some vegetables to give myself some variety.  As well, I had made the decision to order the Garden of Life Primal Defense in order to improve my results.  My delivery arrived yesterday.  Hopefully, this will work well for me in addition to following the diet.  As well, I hope it will help make up for the times when I may not be able to eat entirely correctly.  I do not intend to use it as an excuse for eating poorly, though.

Well, my eating is back on track today and no reason for that to change in the near future.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's Day 6, and going strong.

Well, though I am a bit tired right now (4:30 PM) as I write this, I can definitely say that I have been a lot more productive and active over the last couple of days.  As stated in yesterday's update, it is too early to see any real results.  Symptoms would normally have knocked me out for the better part of the day had I been as active as I have over the last week.  Yesterday, I actually had a minor breakthrough...

Normally, on Wednesdays the girls go to the library.  Depending on how I feel, I will either stay home alone or accompany them.  As I wanted to check out a store downtown - It's Only Natural - I decided that I would try to go with them and we could stop at the store on the way.  Well, the plan was to make it to the library around 3.  I wanted to get in an exercise session and shower before we went.  Normally, just the process of taking a shower really saps my energy.  I think it has to do with the humidity, but I am not really sure.  At any rate, after I did about 30 minutes with the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board, I immediately went upstairs to shower.  After showering - regardless of any previous activity - I would usually have to sit down and put my feet up to recover from the physical exertion.  I didn't have time to sit down, though, as we were headed out the door.  Granted, I was able to sit in the car, but this is not optimal for me.  We stopped at It's Only Natural to mostly do some looking.  I was happy that they had some things that I could use, but not too much that worked for Phase 1.  Similar to other stores, the beef and poultry they sell is vegetarian-fed, but not specifically grass-fed.  Their olive oil was on sale, though, so we bought a bottle of that along with a bag of frozen organic cherries.  I definitely plan to make more frequent trips there in the future as they do offer a good selection of sprouted grain breads.  After our short trip to the store it was on to the library.  As you would expect, this is not the most physically demanding part of my day.  However, I don't do too well standing on my feet or even sitting in a chair that doesn't allow me to put my feet up.  Given that I had already extended myself beyond my normal capacity for activity and still feeling somewhat capable of more activity tells me that something has improved.

On to today...

This morning was a little more difficult to wake up to.  Though I slept well last night, the last thing I wanted to do was wake up and start my day.  As much as I wanted to continue sleeping, however, I got myself up - more correctly, Ginger made sure I got up to take her out - and started my day.  I won't bore you with the routine details, but I want to mention some good ones.

The cherries I bought yesterday ended up in my yogurt.  I had purchased a container of plain, whole milk yogurt (which was a lot harder to find than I had expected).  Yogurt, though it is supposed to be goat's milk yogurt during phase 1, is allowed.  It cannot be low-fat or with added sugars.  I had figured that this would be one of the easiest things to find as our regular grocery store has what I thought was a wide variety of yogurt.  It turns out to be not such a wide variety after all.  While they have a fair number of brands, 90% of the selections are either low-fat or fat free.  From a fairly large, refrigerated display case filled with yogurt, I was only able to find two selections that fit my needs.  Oddly, the one that I was expecting to be the best choice turned out not to be.  I ended up buying Dannon All Natural Plain yogurt.  Normally, I like yogurt.  It turns out, though, that the yogurt I like is the stuff that has all the not-so-good for you things added to it!  This stuff is just vile!
As I already bought it, I am determined to eat it anyway.  So, into the container go the newly acquired cherries.  I used about half the bag, cut them into smaller pieces, and mixed them right in.  I put it back in the refrigerator to let it sit.  Come lunchtime, I served up some of my newly improved yogurt.  What an amazing difference!  While it isn't quite the same as the pre-mixed stuff, it is now actually palatable.  I am now looking forward to another serving of it rather than dreading it.

Highlight number two...

I made a lentil 'dip.'  Lentils are the only allowed legume during phase 1 of The Maker's Diet.  I really like humus, but garbanzo beans are not allowed until either Phase 2 or 3, so I can't eat humus right now.  I wondered how different it would be if I were to make 'humus' out of lentils instead of garbanzo beans.   So off I went and gave it a shot.

1 cup of dried lentils
sea salt
cider vinegar

Well, I simmered the lentils in water for about an hour (in the meantime, I got in my exercise for the day).  Wilt the onions and garlic in some butter.  Add the cilantro and sea salt.  Mix the cooked lentils with the onion mixture and vinegar.  For the final processing, I used an electric hand-mixer (you know, with the two beaters that spin together).  Preferably, a food processor would do the job, but I don't have one... 
The result was actually quite good, though I needed a little more seasoning.  Garlic always works for me, so I added some garlic powder and blended some more along with a little more sea salt.  The only complaint I have is that it made a considerably larger batch than expected.  Next time I will be reducing everything by about half.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 5 begins...

Am I writing this out of frustration?  Am I writing this because I have come close to quitting already?  Not in  the slightest.  These are merely some thoughts that have occurred to me recently...

Well, not much to report as of yet.  I have been diligent with the diet (though still lacking the optimal choices...) by sticking to the recommended foods and completely avoiding those not allowed in Phase 1.  Granted, it has only been 4 full days, but this is really the hardest part to get through.

Four days just isn't enough to:
  1. See any measurable results
  2. Truly break any bad eating habits
  3. Have any real experience with what is good and what isn't
Let me elaborate on those points.

1.  I think the hardest thing about sticking to a new diet is not knowing if it is truly helping.  It is all about faith at this point.  Thanks to the book and the internet (as I personally don't know anyone that has followed The Maker's Diet for any period of time), I have several testimonials of its efficacy. My own experience with the diet is just too short to see any quantifiable results.  Any positive feelings (more energy, less intestinal distress, etc.) could simply be a placebo effect at this early stage.  Any change in weight (remember, this is not a diet primarily intended as a weight-loss program) could be coincidental and is not likely to be significant enough to indicate any true benefit (though a significant change either way might actually be indicative of a serious problem!).  Please, do not take this as discouragement on my part.  I am merely pointing out that one true motivational aspect of dieting is seeing results.

 2.  Breaking a bad habit is not the same as avoiding one.  Four days of avoidance is simply not enough to truly break a bad habit.  It is made even more difficult when the influences for the bad habit are still readily available.  As any smoker knows, it is extremely hard to quit smoking when you still have half of a pack of cigarettes.  Similarly, it is really hard to avoid eating processed foods when the kitchen is full of them.  Mind you, we have always been health-conscious and have avoided foods that are unhealthy by any standard.  The problem that I am currently facing is that some of those supposedly healthy foods are not allowed on The Maker's Diet for one reason or another - at least not on Phase 1.  As well, though it is somewhat easy to avoid most processed foods, there are lots of foods that are not seemingly processed yet include ingredients that are.  Refined sugar, bleached flour and rice, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, soy protein isolate, and the list goes on.  So, it is a matter of picking the varieties of foods that do not list these ingredients over the ones that do.  For instance, tomato sauce is allowed during Phase 1 as long as it does not include sugar and other processed ingredients.  If you make it from scratch, you know exactly what you put into it.  If you bought it in a jar, you need to read the label - and not just the one that says 'all natural.'    Like the smoker that wants to quit, it is really hard for the dieter to stop eating the foods that he thought were healthy when they are readily available.

3.  Although I have a decent short-term memory, repetition certainly strengthens my recall of what I can and cannot eat.  As such, I keep referring back to the book and the lists of allowed and forbidden foods.  The funny thing is that as soon as I able able to recall all of the Phase 1 restrictions, I will have moved into Phase 2!  Fortunately, though, this only means that there are fewer foods on the restricted lists.  At only four days into the diet, I am still in the first week of Phase 1.  Constantly needing to refer to the book can become frustrating.  Is this factor enough on its own to influence somebody to quit following the diet?  I don't think so. 

In fact, each of these factors taken individually should not have a significant impact.  Taken together, it can be daunting.

Fortunately, The Maker's Diet is not really that hard to follow.  Some of the allowed foods are foods that other diets would disallow.  Beef, lamb, and eggs (whole eggs, not just egg whites) do not show up on the approved lists of too many diets.  Most other diets would recommend veggie burgers over ground beef - not The Maker's Diet.  One of the biggest differences is that The Maker's Diet recommends butter over margarine.  Butter is natural, margarine is not.  Most margarine is made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil - though, that is changing as the dangers of trans fat are becoming common knowledge.  As a result, some of the allowed foods - even in Phase 1 - are truly enjoyable!  For instance, last night I had a hamburger grilled with onions (grilled in a cast iron skillet, no roll) and a fresh salad (lettuce, cucumber, carrots, celery) with homemade salad dressing (olive oil, cider vinegar, spices) with a glass of organic whole milk.

There is also the old saying, 'The end justifies the means.'  In this case, the promise of restored health along with a return to natural eating makes it worth continuing for me.  Referring to the book until I am able to recall all of the allowed/disallowed foods is not that hard, especially when the disallowed list shrinks over time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Charity Fund Raiser!

This entry is a bit of a departure from those of the last week.  I will be returning to my Maker's Diet experience in future posts, but I wanted to announce a fund raiser for the charity of your choice!

Last year, I self-published a book, The Armor of God through  The book was the result of a year-long Bible study that I did on Ephesians 6:10-20.  I wanted to learn what it meant to wear God's armor.  Obviously, in this day and age, we have little clue what it meant to actually don a suit of armor to prepare for battle.  Sure, some of our soldiers put on their body armor to go to war, football and hockey players (especially goalies) put on their pads for the game, but the majority of us simply don't wear armor.  As such, I thought that the impact of the passage was largely lost on us - I mean, we understand that armor protects us, but we don't fully understand it.  So, I studied out each piece of God's armor.  I wanted to know why a particular piece (belt, breastplate, helmet, etc.) was tied to a particular virtue (truth, faith, righteousness, etc.).

Upon embarking on the study, I was quickly amazed at the findings and I wanted to share them with others.  First, it became a play depicting a man preparing for knighthood on one side and a group of guys studying the Bible on the other.  On the one side, as each piece of armor was placed upon the soon-to-be knight, its purpose was explained.  On the other side, the guys discussed what each piece of God's armor meant to us. 
The play was performed in front of the members and guests of the Greater Hartford Church of Christ several years ago.  Even then, I had hoped to someday convert the Bible study/play into a book.

Now that I have, I would like to offer it up as a fund raiser to benefit faith-based charities.

So, here is the deal...

I will be accepting 'applications' for faith-based charities to receive a donation of 25% of the book sales through my online bookstore.  This will work on a 'charity of the month' basis.  ALL sales of the book during the entire month for which your charity is selected will count.  As soon as the monthly revenues are sent to me, I will send a check in the amount of 25% of the total sales (note: not 25% of the profit but of the total sales!) to the charity of the month.

In order to be eligible, the organization must be a faith-based organization or ministry.  I will review all applications and make all decisions for approval based on eligibility.  Members of the approved organization can then start to promote the book by sending people to my bookstore at  While the book is also currently available through, I can only track sales made via my bookstore.  I will use the calendar month for accounting purposes.  All books sold between the first and last day (inclusive) will be counted in the tally.  $3.00 (25% of $11.99) per book sold will be donated to your group! 
Sell 100 books, raise $300.
Sell 1,000 books, raise $3,000!
If your organization is approved for participation, you will be notified one month in advance in order to provide more time for you to plan and organize your efforts in order to maximize the funds raised for your group.

If your group is interested, please contact me directly at for more details.

Shopping with the Maker's Diet in mind...

Today marked the first trip to the grocery store since I started on The Maker's Diet.  I knew that it is going to be somewhat of a challenge to find the best options to fulfill the recommended foods.  Sadly, grass-fed beef and poultry is not widely available.  While I found plenty of organic, vegetarian-fed beef and poultry, that is not the same.  While hormone-free is still better than the other choices, it would be better if it is also grass-fed.

So far, the best find of the day is The Farmer's Cow milk and eggs.  The Farmer's Cow is a local group that is "committed to providing fresh, local products to Connecticut and surrounding areas free of artificial growth hormones (rBST) or unneeded pesticides and chemicals."  This is beneficial for many reasons.  I love the fact that I am able to support local farms while fulfilling one aspect of the diet.  In addition to the milk I purchased (eggs weren't on the list this week), I picked up some spices.  The Maker's Diet has a listing of the top recommended herbs and spices with a description of the benefits they are touted to have.  Partially due to the recommendation and partially due to my personal preference, I picked up some cilantro and sea salt.  I also bought some marjoram, but that was totally a result of the recommendation.

Cilantro is one of those herbs that I absolutely love but just never had any in my spice rack.  It is an excellent addition to salsa and guacamole.  Marjoram is one that I am not too familiar with, so I will be researching some good recipes that use it.  As for salt, I am not a big user of a salt shaker.  I have had the same container of table salt for more than 10 years.  Timing is everything, though, as it is now empty!  Rather than replace it with the same thing, I figured it was as good a time as any to switch to sea salt.

Today, I decided to do a partial fast.  Doing a regular partial fast is recommended by Jordan Rubin.  He states: “Fasting is the high-powered spiritual tool for breakthrough in body, mind, and spirit. The average person feels much better and lives healthier by observing a one-day partial cleansing fast each week.”

As I wasn't going to be doing a lot of eating, I also opted to to take a day off from exercise.  Both decisions were somewhat influenced by other factors, but it was a logical decision.

Finally, one product that I am strongly considering adding to my routine is Primal Defense Ultra.  This product contains HSOs (homeostatic soil organisms) like Jordan Rubin used on his quest for health.  I am not yet sure if I will, but if it can help me I would like to try it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

'Diet' is NOT a four-letter word...

As I begin day 3 of The Maker's Diet, I find myself in several discussions about it.  Most people are curious as to how it is going - which is great! - though it is a little too soon to tell if I have gotten any real benefit out of it.  Others ask about the various details - rules and regulations - of the diet.  One thing that is extremely unique about The Maker's Diet is that it is not primarily intended as a weight-loss program.

The word 'diet' has a lot of negative connotations in today's society.  This is largely - if not entirely - due to the numerous fad diets that simply do not work or the highly restrictive diets that may work but are so hard to follow that most people drop off of them.  In fact, the word 'diet' simply refers to what you eat on a regular basis whether affected by societal trends, food sources, or traditions.  The American diet that many of us 'follow' is, in fact, a 'diet' - though not a very healthy one.  'Going on a diet' is really an erroneous phrase as it would literally mean that you are going to start eating as opposed to not eating anything.

As such, The Maker's Diet is simply what the people would have prepared and eaten in a way that would have been available in biblical times - no microwave, no teflon, no high-fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, etc.  Sure, it goes a little deeper than that, but that is essentially it.

One thing that stands out with The Maker's Diet is that, as it is not primarily a weight-loss program, it is not focused on calorie counting.  In fact, when I read the book, I was somewhat surprised but the complete lack of any mention of portion control or calories.  This is NOT a low-fat diet.  Actually, consumption of fat is encouraged in order to better absorb vitamins A and D.  However, it should also be noted that biblical laws are intended to be observed - i.e. no gluttony.  Some form of fasting is suggested on occasion.  One reviewer noted: "It is amazing that by eating what God intended you to eat, you will have the body that God intended you to have."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thus it begins!

Today marks the first, official day of my journey to wellness with The Maker's Diet!

OK, so I started with last night's dinner, but I am not really counting that when it comes to being 'IN' Phase 1.  Phase 1 is designed for a 14 day period, and I am trying to take that literally and stick to calendar days - not a dinner to dinner day.

Up at 7:30 today, thanks to Ginger, the dog, needing to go out.  Fortunately, the snow isn't too bad yet.

I started my day with my daily serving of VIDACELL as is normal.  I had recently been mixing the VIDACELL with oatmeal.  Oatmeal is not allowed during phase 1, so I simply mixed it with 4 oz. of hot water as is recommended.  I find that it works best to give the VIDACELL some time to dissolve in the water prior to consuming it, so while it sat there dissolving I started making my breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of a 2 egg omelet with broccoli, onions, and flax seed cooked in a cast iron skillet.  I am not entirely sure if cast iron was used during biblical times but teflon sure wasn't!  The Maker's Diet recommends that everything be cooked in glass, stainless steel, or cast iron - no teflon.

Following breakfast, I took 2 of my 1,000 mcg (microgram) B12 supplement.  Yes, it is intended for 1 per day, but as I am trying to correct a perceived deficiency I decided to use two today.  There is no known toxicity problem with taking too much of the B vitamins.  While I wouldn't supplement with any more than 2,000 mcg, I feel safe with that dosage.  As well, though my B12 supplement is not terribly expensive, I have no desire to spend more than I need to.  I fully intend to revert to taking only 1 per day and potentially stop using it all together once I am in full swing with the diet.

I am writing this while giving my body time to digest.  Shortly, I will be doing an exercise session.  I am as yet undecided on using the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board or spending some time with my T'ai Chi DVD.  I may do a combination of the two!

Oh, and thank you Josh for yet another resource!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Done reading. Now to implement it!

I finished reading The Maker's Diet moments ago.  I am fairly happy that quite a few of the allowed foods for Phase 1 are things that I already have in the house.  Though what I have may not be the optimal variety (organic, grass-fed, etc.), at least I won't feel guilty in eating them until I can locate/purchase the better option.  I still need to peruse the The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide to see what added benefit that offers.

As it stands currently, I am pretty excited about the possibilities for this new direction in my life and the impact that The Maker's Diet might have on my journey to wellness.

Additionally, the girls wanted to spend some of their Christmas money, so we went shopping.  For $19.96, I picked up Wii Fit Plus to expand on my options.  I was happy to learn that the new edition imported the data from the old version.  If you have Wii Fit already, you do not need to purchase Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board but can simply buy the Wii Fit Plus and pop it in instead of the original disc.  If you have not yet purchased Wii Fit then you can simply purchase Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board and you are good to go!

We have only started exploring the new options, but so far I like it a lot better.  There is an added 'routine' option.  This allows you to choose pre-made routines or design your own - essentially allowing for a smoother transition between exercises.  As well, you can more easily switch between users.  This is great for us as one of us will 'play a game' while another watches.  Invariably, the watcher will want to try out the same game.  With the old version, this meant returning to the Wii Fit Plaza screen and selecting the other user's Mii in order for them to play without screwing up the games record keeping feature.  Now, the other user can easily 'sub in' for a turn or two and still keep accurate records.  Finally, accurate or not, the new version includes an estimated calorie burn counter.  I am always doubtful of the accuracy of built in calorie counters as there are too many factors involved - weight, age, and body fat percentage just to name a few - but it is nice to have an indicator of how hard you worked.

As if that weren't enough...
I had ordered some B12 supplements as it seems that a lot of the symptoms I am experiencing could be due to a B12 deficiency.   My delivery arrived today.
According to the WAPF website "The most commonly used form of B12 for treatment in the US is cyanocobalamin. Only two forms are active in the body, however, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Cyanocobalamin must be converted in the body to either methyl or adenosyl cobalamin by the enzymatic removal of a cyanide molecule. (The amount of cyanide produced during this process is very small but still could be problematical); whereas the body can immediately use supplements of methylcobalamin (the only active form of vitamin B12 commercially available in the US). In a study that looked at the ability of vitamin B12 to extend life in mice with cancer, methylcobalamin led to significant increases in survival time while cyanocobalamin had no effect (Tsao CS and Myashita K. Pathobiology 1993;61(2):104-8)."
As such, I was sure that the supplement I ordered was the methylcobalamin variety.  I had gone to local stores, but was only able to find the cyanocobalamin compound.  Fortunately, I was able to find the right compound online so I ordered two, 30 count bottles.  I figure that a two month supply combined with The Maker's Diet should give me an indication of its efficacy.  Once I am in full swing with the diet, it is likely that I will no longer need the supplement, but I will judge things at that time.


Well, the books I ordered came in the mail - I only wish I had checked the mailbox sooner!

I was thrilled to open the mailbox to find my delivery waiting for me. I immediately shut off the computer and the TV and set in to start reading The Maker's Diet.  Well, immediate, that is, with a slight delay as my wife grabbed it and started thumbing through it first!  Actually, I think that she will be the 'harder sell' on adopting this new diet.  It is for this reason that I also ordered the The Maker's Diet: Shopper's Guide.  I want to make it as easy as possible for us - me, in particular - to purchase and prepare the foods as directed in the book.

At this point, I have only read through chapter 5 of the book and have not gotten into the specifics of the diet, but it is 1:30 AM as I write this and I really need to get some sleep!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year...

So, a new year has begun. While I am not prone to making New Year Resolutions, I felt that this year I might do that very thing. Though I would have made this particular resolution on any other day of the year, the timing was just right to do so for New Year's Day.

This year, I am resolved to work harder to being symptom-free. As such, I plan to do a couple of new things to help me to achieve that goal.

As you probably know by now, I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. However, I am not 100% sold on this diagnosis. As such, I feel that there are things that I can do to not only reduce my symptoms, but to possible even heal myself completely!

For over a year now, I have been using a product called VIDACELL to aid in recovery. I have no doubt in my mind that I am better off today as a result. My symptoms, though not gone, have been less severe than they were previous to my using VIDACELL. While the battle seems to be going in my favor, it seems that it will not be won in the near future without adding a few more weapons to my arsenal.

One of the things that I have resolved to do is to learn the art of T'ai Chi. Several years ago, I purchased a DVD to learn T'ai Chi at home. While I tried it out a couple of times, I just did not have the time or the motivation to stick to it very long. Knowing that I would someday regret getting rid of the DVD, I hung on to it. Well, it seems that the time has come for me to dust it off and give it another shot. Because T'ai Chi is used to bringing the mind, body, and spirit together to gain balance, prevent injury, and promote good health, I felt that it might help me out. MS or not, whatever is causing my symptoms is definitely neurologically based. From my experience as a personal trainer, I know that the brain-muscle connection is improved through repetitive motion. I know - I KNOW - that exercise is essential to my recovery. Due to my symptoms, beneficial, effective exercise is not always the easiest thing for me to achieve. I know that this can also be an excuse for me to not even try. Last year, I joined the YMCA to use the pool and gym equipment. While it worked out well for me when I was able to get there, getting there was not always possible. I am dependent on having my wife drive me there as I cannot drive myself. I had it worked out so that I could go to the YMCA once a week during the time that the rest of my family took their weekly trip to the library. Well, circumstances change - as they are prone to do - and the weekly library trip is now part of a day long educational event (we homeschool our children), thus making it next to impossible for me to continue with that plan. As a result, I have not been to the YMCA in over 5 months, now. One option is for me to find an alternative at home. Well, it seemed about time to dust off the DVD and do my best to learn the basics (this particular DVD covers the first 30 positions) of T'ai Chi. In the brief attempt I had made previously, I know that T'ai Chi is fully capable of filling my exercise needs. However, I fully intend to supplement my T'ai Chi sessions with other exercise options.
Last year, we purchased Wii Fit for the family. We weren't really sure how much of a benefit we would get out of using it, but I figured that it would at least provide me with a higher level of activity as well as something to do as a family. As you would expect, motivation waxed and waned over the year. Well, it is my plan to utilize this tool more regularly and even expand my options by picking up the new addition, Wii Fit Plus.
For the third arm of my exercise program, I plan to use the heavy bag that I purchased during the height of my physical fitness craze several years ago.

Earlier, I mentioned that the time for this resolution just seemed right. Well, when I posted my intent to "to learn T'ai Chi and work towards being symptom-free in the coming year" as my status on Facebook, a good friend of mine responded. He provided me with a link to a website about nutrition. When I went to the site, I was immediately in conflict. Some of the things mentioned just flew in the face of all of the currently held beliefs about nutrition. Now, one thing that you have to understand about me is that I have an open mind. I am willing to take a look at opposing views and hear the supporting arguments. If there is merit, then I am willing to consider the options. Rather than state the point of view and their supporting data, I will simply direct you to the website and let you come to your own conclusions. Mind you, I still need to do a lot more research, but I have known for some time that changes need to be made in my nutrition. Prior to even looking at this website, I knew that I wanted to take steps to move away from processed foods and toward natural foods. While the site talks about things that I may or may not agree with, they do have some things that I very much agree with. To establish your own opinion, I recommend visiting the site by clicking HERE.
As a result of another suggestion by my friend as well as supporting reviews on the above site, I ordered a copy of The Maker's Diet. As I have not yet taken delivery on the book, I cannot offer my own opinion of it. When Josh mentioned it to me, the name rang a bell. It turns out that it was a book that I had at least passing familiarity with. It had been sold, along with another book by the same author, Patient Heal Thyself, at one of my former employers. Of course, at that time I didn't have any reason to review either book for my own purposes. The author of these books went on a nutrition program with which he was able to cure himself of Crohn's Disease.

Well, I hope to receive my copy of the book in the next day or so (tracking shows that the shipment is currently at my local Post Office!), read it, and get started soon on my new nutrition plan. I am obviously not yet sure if I will adopt the one detailed in the book or some other plan, but I do intend to provide regular updates here.

For now, I am off to another T'ai Chi DVD session in my living room!