How I lost 50 (yeah fifty) pounds through plein air painting, (Part II).

As I left off in my last post, I spoke of how that Artist-in-Residence program was such a turning point for me, not just artistically but mentally and physically, too.  I decided those two weeks would be a good time for me to change some eating habits...and indeed it was! But at that time I was also searching for ways to help me get through that. How to finally crack the nut on losing weight, when I hadn't been able to do it before.  

Redbuds, 24%22x48%22x1.5%22 oil on deep gallery wrap canvas (1).jpg

Redbuds, 24"x48"x1.5" oil on canvas, available on UGallery


One of the things I had stumbled across online before that time was a Dr. Glenn Livingston who was offering a free ebook called, "Never Binge Again" of course I wanted to see what he had to say about that! I was a cookie binger, a carb binger, chips, pasta, anything that was starchy and sweet I couldn't get enough of. (makes me shiver to think of it now!).  Unfortunately, I don't think it is free any more now that he has his business up and running, but one of the main things that really stuck with me from his book, was that you have to find an eating plan that works for you....whether you are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, etc. and then have certain "food rules" that you set up for yourself to break the bad habits that you already know you have.  I KNEW what I was doing, junking out all the time wasn't good for me, but I had not found the will power to change any of these habits.  But with this 'food rule' idea,  I thought I might be able to manage (since I was setting the rules after all).  So I decided to keep eating the way that had worked for my mom, cutting out starches & sugars, BUT I would allow myself to have these as a treat on the weekends.  So whether it was dessert, potatoes, wine, bread, pasta, rice, chips; any of those things that your body turns into sugar - I could eat it on the weekends, but not all day long, just during my evening meal, as a special treat. And not all of them at once. If I had them at lunch or in the afternoon, then NOT at that evening meal.  During the weekdays, I would stick to the no sugars, no starches/carbs plan.  Little by little I started seeing things changing.  Glenn's funny stories from his college days gave me other insights.  One story was about a room-mate who would eat a cock-roach if he had a group of viewers each paying him $50 to watch. (echhhhh!). Glenn knew that no amount of money would ever make him do that - so he knew mentally, that there are indeed some things he would NEVER eat - so why couldn't he think of other things with that kind of strength?! Anyways - designing my own food rules has really helped me stick with this new change. 

Sketchbook scenes gathered at Manassas Battlefield National Park,  April 2017.

Sketchbook scenes gathered at Manassas Battlefield National Park,  April 2017.


Probably a year before I had stumbled across Glenn Livingston's book I had come across a blogger and life coach Tonya Leigh, who's blog, "French Kiss Life" just made me giggle at the name of it! But I found it entertaining, and insightful.   But most of my life I was fairly "low-maintenance"....until that point in my life when I realized that I was actually "no-maintenance" and had ignored it for so long that I really needed "urban renewal".  I had allowed my old self to morph into a schlump over time. Little by little, I starting taking better care of myself, and indeed I began to feel better. So it wasn't all one thing or another, but a convergence of these things all working together. I enjoyed Tonya Leigh's website, and the private Facebook group of other like-minded women looking for that 'joie de vivre' in life.  I even signed up for her "Slim, Chic, and Savvy" class...And while it is not a class that tells you how and what to eat, it certainly does help you get your head in the right place.   At one point I truly would have thought, "who do I think I am reading that 'silly fluff' (have I always been so serious?), but learning to care for ourselves is not "silly fluff".  Remember the airline rules, "put the oxygen mask over your own face first, before you help others around you" ? 

Painting out on location in Northern Virginia with the National Park Service. 

Painting out on location in Northern Virginia with the National Park Service. 


In the meantime, my husband was losing weight as well. Since he was eating what I was cooking, and was really good about being supportive of what I was trying to do. He began doing some of his own research online about the way we were eating.  That's when we came across what people were calling the "keto-diet".  What we were doing was pretty close to that, though I was still eating oatmeal for breakfast. NOT the instant, pre-packaged sugared up kind, but old-fashioned oats cooked on the stove-top.  I was also watching my portion sizes in everything  I ate, and was finding my self actually satiated with what I was eating (those healthy fats that are included in a 'keto diet'). No more raiding the pantry or fridge at night (I just didn't have garbage food on the shelf anymore).  I always felt like the portion size of the oatmeal recipe on the box was too much food for me to eat. Again, online, I came across a recipe for oatmeal that seemed just right. So yes, I'm going to share it here with you:

1/4 cup of Old Fashioned Oats (takes 5 minutes to cook).  

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of almond milk

tsn-tbsn of raisins, or dried currants

1/8 cup of walnuts

dash of cinnamon

tspn of maple syrup (that's all the sweetener you'll need, honest!)

Put your 1/2 c of water in a small pot & turn heat on high, bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, stir in your 1/4 c. of oatmeal. Turn heat to medium. Set timer for 5 minutes. After 1 minute add the 1/4 c of almond milk, stir.  While that's still cooking, get your raisins/currants and walnuts and put it in your serving bowl (small cereal bowl).  You can add the dash of cinnamon and maple syrup now. When your 5 minute timer is up, then you can pour it into your bowl, and go eat up!

Once you get in the rhythm of making this, it is an easy breakfast to prepare.  Now I realize, it is NOT keto, and it is a carb, YES.  But it has so much less sugar that any of the prepared cereals on the market and it has fiber.  If you're still 'carb-addicted' this is an easy transition over to healthier eating.  I allow myself enough time in the morning for this little ritual of oats, and a glass of lemon water to drink.  (just 2 slices of lemon in an 8-12 ounce glass of water). I usually drink 2 glasses at breakfast, read my newspaper, have a bit of quiet time, and then I'm ready to start my day. 

So how much weight have I actually lost off of my body (not counting the ditching of heavy painting equipment, sorry about that!).  Since January of 2017 I have lost 16 pounds, and it does feel so much better.  My husband has lost 30 pounds in that time with our new eating habits.  We are choosing to eat this way for life! I don't want to go back to feeling heavy, bloated, tired, with achy joints, out of breath, and even more, but who wants to hear me whine any more? (not me).

So, what else in our lives changes when we start tweaking small habits, even if it's just one or two things at a time? I do hope you'll follow along, and I'll continue to write about I'm finding art is life...and life is art.  All of this is intertwined!  After all my health issues I traveled through over the last eight years, I appreciate my health and am determined to take care of it. I love life and all that is in it.   And I'm willing to share those thoughts with anyone on the same path! I'm grateful to you for following along, and sharing your thoughts as well.  I have found so much help in the community of others. 

Let me know if you've made small tweaks in your life that have added up to significant changes, whether it's your health, your spiritual life, your finances, your creativity, you name it!