I made it! Week 1 is history and yes, I really am feeling good. Sticking to the Medifast program has not been a chore, actually just the opposite. What with my busy schedule, the program has provided just the structure I needed to kick off what I am calling my Last and Final Weight-Loss Diet.

I’d love to tell you exactly how much I’ve lost this week…and I have lost. The problem is that my scale seems to have issue with reliability. Not that I’m calling it a liar, but its truth is rather inconsistent from one moment to the next. Checking in with my scale today went something like this; step on…lost 10 pounds. What? No way! Step off, step back on, lost 6 pound. Hmmm…Step off, step back on again, lost 8 pounds…you see what I mean? So, I’m guessing this week I lost somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds and I gotta get a new scale. I don’t do inconsistent relationships.

Now, let’s go back to why I am calling this my Last and Final Weight-Loss Diet. I know, that is a pretty bold statement to make. I understand your skepticism. We know all about the yo-yo diet with its loss and gain, loss and gain…and the gains sending that scale to higher numbers each time. You’ve seen me do it for how long now? Well, no more…not ever again. Understand, I’m not saying this because Medifast is some sort of miracle diet. Actually it has nothing to do with Medifast. Instead it has everything to do with finally deciding to “getting my mind right.” I have made many positive changes in my life, and each follows pretty much this same process:

  1. Identify the issue I want to change
  2. Determine my controllables (I can only change me)
  3. Remove the negatives
  4. Add the positives
  5. Tack Action

Yes, that is a simplistic description of the process; I’ll explain it in more detail another time. I have used this process on everything from emotional distress to physical ailments. I overcame obsessiveness, depression and anxiety using it. I use it to manage the fibromyalgia so I’m medication free. Through this process I have changed relationships with family, friends and co-workers…and myself. This process has allowed me to move into a deeper spiritual life as well as improve my physical and emotional health.

By using this process this week became a time of reflection. A time to identify the issues I want to change. And not surprisingly, weight loss is not the issue. Weight loss will definitely be a byproduct of addressing the issue, but it is not the issue. If you remember, last week I mentioned my penchant for healthy eating, organic, whole foods, and what not. I also talked about mindful eating. Well, it’s obvious that eating right and considering each bite isn’t what got me to 240 pounds. Then again, healthy eating and getting my mind right isn’t just about being thin. It is all about my relationship with the food in my life. So, during my reflecting I came up with the following questions for myself:

  • In developing an eating plan for life, what is the proper balance of food in/energy out that I can live with?
  • I can reduce my intake, but is my activity level at a healthy place?
  • How does my activity (or lack thereof) affect not only my weight, but emotions, fibromyalgia, hormones, sleep, sex drive, so on and so forth?
  • How does what I eat affect not only my weight, but my emotions, fibromyalgia, hormones, sleep, sex drive, so on and so forth?
  • Where exactly does my food come from?
  • How are the land, the animals, and the workers who produce my food treated?
  • Is this an issue for me? If so, how much?
  • Is there a spiritual correlation between where my food comes from and my current weight and state of health?
  • Should there be?
  • What does mindful eating and healthy whole foods have to do with a lifetime eating plan?

These are just a few of the questions I will be examining
and blogging about over the course of the next few weeks as I establish the ground rules for my lifetime eating plan. I hope you will stick with me as I ponder these questions and find my way to a healthy relationship with the food on my plate.

BTW…Yes, I am ecstatic about the weight loss to date and looking forward to more!

PMS: To my Health Coach Jen: Thanks so much for the call this week. It was great to talk with you about all that is going on in my head and how the program is working for me so far. Thanks for the words of encouragement and affirmation. LOVE your updated website with the tips and recipes. You efforts really do make this process a lot easier for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Last month I was going through years of family photos to create a slide show for my husband’s 55th b-day when I began to notice the weight that had crept up on me over the years. Some of the earliest were what I had considered my “fat” photos. Oh no, THIS WILL NOT DO! 

Then the day of the party, Jenny and her husband Aaron show up looking simply amazing! Go ahead; click here to check out their photos on her site. Doesn’t she look hot? And Aaron…ouch! When I saw the change in them just since Christmas I had to talk with Jenny about the Take Shape for Life program and Medifast Meals. 

Now, those of you who know me well know that I can be a bit of a health nut. I can pontificate endlessly about the lack of nutrients in our 21st century food, the paradox of gardening organically while living ¼ mile from Hwy 26, and other trials of the American diet. Although no longer the extremist I once was (I now masticate rather than drink my meals) I am quite serious about whole foods, healthy eating, and nutrition. For myself, I practice mindful eating. I don’t frequent fast food establishments for moral as well as health reasons. I subscribe to George Mateljan’s the world’s healthiest foods site and mostly eat basic simple foods.

But when I saw those photos and how my girth has increased over the last 7 or so years it was obvious to me I was slipping somewhere. Not only do I consider this additional weight unhealthy and unsightly for me, lugging it around is not easy on muscles weakened from fibromyalgia. I decided it was time for severe changes.

First and foremost, I had to get my mind right. We all know the secret for maintaining healthy weight is a balance of calories in to calories out. Obviously I have slipped away from proper serving portions for my activity level. As a Health Coach, Jenny is passionate about helping women (and men) develop healthy eating patterns. She is the first to say that the TSFL is not a way of life eating plan. What it is is a swift kick in the behind for those of us who have neglected the discipline of proper food portions. It is a program for those who want results FAST! For those who are unfamiliar with TSFL and Medifast, it is a doctor recommended rapid weight loss program that’s been around for some 28 years. The program consists of five Medifast meals/day and one “Lean & Green” meal. That very evening I sat with Jenny and discussed the Take Shape For Life program and made out my first order.

This evening I arrived home welcomed by a large box on my front porch. I carried the box in with one hand…this is a month’s worth of food??? What have I gotten myself in for? As I opened the box and pulled out the cartons one by one I realized this is serious stuff. There are bars, shakes, soups and even pudding. For breakfast there is scrambled eggs and oatmeal. Jenny went over the “Lean & Green meal choices with me. You know what? I can so do this!

My goal is to lose a minimum of 65 pounds on the full TSFL program. Once I have reached that goal I will re-evaluate where I want to be and decide when to begin the transition phase back to normal eating.

I purchased a new battery for my pedometer this weekend and have started my 10,000 steps again (another great habit I stopped). It may take me several weeks to get back up to the 10,000 steps/day, but TSFL recommends going easy the first week or so anyway.

During this weight loss time I will also be creating an eating plan for life. In addition to George’s site, I discovered the Meals Matter website. This website allows the user to upload favorite recipes, then create meal plans, menus and shopping lists from those recipes or search the site for others.

I know that I do best when eating 6 smaller meals per day. So my goal is to spend the next few months creating healthy meal plans that will be ready for me to print and prepare once I have reached my goal weight.

Jenny thanks for your tips and advice, your encouragement and support. I am so excited about making positive steps in getting my weight and my eating habits back on track! You rock girl!

Here are my before photos. Believe me, I’ll be posting updates.

No butter for these rolls!

No butter for these rolls!

Today’s discoveries in neuroscience bring us an understanding that those practicing prayer and meditation have known since the beginning of time. There are positive effects from everyday activities like walking, noticing something of beauty, or…eating chocolate and chilie peppers that start in the brain and move throughout our bodies. There is a direct link between thinking, behavior, and how the ability to regulate mood results in better physical health.  Neuroscientists today understand more about the mechanics of this connection between brain and body, spiritual and physical, than ever before.  

On my journey to managing fibromyalgia and overcoming PTSD I have learned to identify ways to assist and enhance my body’s own natural distressing systems by tapping into this brain/body connection. I learned from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood that self-care is more than having every hair in place and lipstick on before you answer the door no matter the time of day or night. One can look fabulously gorgeous on the outside while falling apart on the inside. Somewhere along my journey to wellness I discovered that life balance is chocolate covered and spiced with chiles.

Did you know that chocolate is a psychoactive food? Meaning, it has the ability to affect the mind, mood, and other mental processes. Similarly capsicum or chile peppers “fool the mouth” into thinking it is in trouble with their searing pain, only to reward with a euphoric rush. I love knowing that chocolate and chiles have properties that increase my “feel good” hormones. I delight in partaking of them from time to time with the awareness that this is good for me – mentally as well as physically.

A while back my husband, knowing my affection for all things cocoa, brought home a chocolate cake as a gift of love and kindness to me. This was one of those artisans cakes with umpteen layers slathered over, under, and around with thick velvety fudge frosting. On top, in pink gloss frosting, the sentiment, “I Love You” was delicately inscribed. It was not my birthday, nor our anniversary. He brought it to me “just because”. This reminded me of my studies in the attributes of God. One attribute is Loving Kindness or Chesed. It’s a giving thing. It is an expression of goodness and greatness just because. Nothing I did to deserve it. It is unbounded and unmerited. It gives and gives. Chesed on its own is endless. It’s the entire cake…and more.

My first thought upon being presented with this loving kindness was “How sweet…literally! What on earth am I to do with an entire cake?” (We’ll talk another time about charity/sharing) My primal force said, “Eeeaat…cake gooood. Eat entire cake”. Yet, how many of us have the capacity to partake of an entire chocolate cake and not suffer negative physical effects? Not I! I took into consideration that my loving partner would eat a portion of the cake. But he was leaving the next day on a 3-day business trip. I would be left at home – alone – with most of that cake and my love for chocolate, just because… What chesed.

This brought to mind my friend J who is more like the Soup Nazi – NO CAKE FOR YOU! She battles the size and shape of her figure, like everything in life, through sheer determination and force of will. She plans her weekly menus, measures out her daily portions. Not a morsel passes her lips that is not on THE list. And though she looks divine, there is a punitive air about when we have girl’s night out and she says – NO CAKE FOR ME! She totally didn’t get the loving kindness part of my husband’s action. I liken her determination to the attribute of Strength or Gevurah. It is the foundation of stringency, absolute adherence to the letter of the law. A strict meting out of justice. Absolute judgment. NO CAKE FOR YOU! Gevurah is primarily an act of constraint and restraint.

So, how do I find a healthy place of balance for myself between my husband’s chesed and my friend’s gevurah? While I am looking for this balance between the entire cake kindness and NO CAKE FOR YOU stringency, along comes the attribute of Mercy, a.k.a. tiferet. Tiferet – which literally means beauty or glory – is the most central attribute as it mediates between kindness and strength. It implies a compromise – a “little of this, a little of that.” Herein I realized lies the beauty of genuine balance.

To apply this practically in my life I went to Trader Joe’s and purchased a tin of chocolate wedges that contain 70% dark cocoa along with chile. After work I joined my very chesed husband as he lounged out on our back deck. As we listen to the birds chatter and watched the sun set over the mountains, a wedge of the chocolate melted deliciously in my mouth. The cocoa flavor dissolved and a bite on the back of my tongue sharpened my senses. Together the cocoa and chilies went to work releasing my brain’s “feel good” hormones – endorphins, serotonin and the like. As a feeling of euphoria enveloped my body, a sigh released, my mood lifted and I thought, “Balance – what a deliciously beautiful chocolate covered concept”.

I just finished watching Changeling, the 2008 film directed by Clint Eastwood. I’ve had the DVD from Netflix since about March 20th, waiting until I was in a frame of mind to watch it. Why? Because of my own experiences of a local government run amuck (Google: Kern County witch hunt; Kern County Child molestation ring; Just Ask My Children).

Changeling explores female disempowerment, political corruption, child endangerment and the repercussions of violence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Changeling_(2008_film)

Difficult for me to watch were the scenes where Christine Collins, skillfully portrayed by Angelina Jolie, is “thrown” into the psychiatric hospital, without benefit of “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury” Cause? Paranoia and delusions of persecution. Anti-social behaviors to be sure. But what are they when grounded in a woman’s efforts to fight for her rights or get to the truth? Truth that others don’t want reveled?

Like Christine Collins, I could not sign a piece of paper admitting to what I knew to be untrue. As a result I was marginalized and mentally broken by the very people who had taken professional oaths to “do no harm.”

It has been 25 years since my babies were abducted by Kern County. For 3 years I fought for them. In the end, an out of county judge stated, “this is the story of a family in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I regained custody, but at what cost to myself and those children?

For the longest time, as I fought to regain my sanity, I also fought to regain my honor, my name, my reputation. I finally realized that those who truly care enough to get to know me personally know who I am. They are witnesses to my honor, my reputation, my ethics and integrity.  

25 years later I still wonder about the effects to those 80 plus children who were used and abused by the powers in force at the time. I see the effects on my own daughters who were removed from my care and custody and  subjected to a system that knowingly allowed them to be physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abused without recourse. Social workers who recommended their return to my custody were removed from the case, jobs threatened.

Part of the healing process is forgiveness. When asked if I can forgive myself, I answer yes. Yes I can forgive myself for not having the know-how to protect myself and my children. I learned how.

 Lessons learned? I didn’t seek to learn how to fight political corruption. Can any of us correct the faults of another? I did learn that if I want a better home, a better marriage, a better government, I must be a better person. I learned to honor my own power and let my voice be heard. I learned to set boundaries and limits against those who would use or abuse me for personal or political gain. I learned that “the ability for a woman to grab hold of self-empowerment is dependent upon the skills she is able to learn.” http://www.articlesbase.com/self-help-articles/selfempowerment-tips-for-women-finding-your-inner-power-source-791668.html

For this reason I founded Institute for FemiKnowlogy as a means to assist other females in their efforts to gain the skills they want and need to thrive in the 21st century.  

FemiKnowlogy™ is not about feminist vs. traditional female roles. It does not see color, religious or socio-economic standing. Its focus is not on the right-to-choose or right-to-life. It is instead, all about understanding the rights and responsibilities of females in the 21st century and gaining the skills needed to exercise both.

FemiKnowlogy understands that no matter what role a female chooses in the 21st century, she still needs a safe and secure home and the skills to maintain that home. To secure her personal safety and well-being she needs loving relationships that honor her values and unique identity. It includes personal finance knowledge and skills, business/career development, and techno-savvy. FemiKnowlogy incorporates traditional home making skills, upgraded and augmented with emotional intelligence to form safe, supportive relationships. It provides workshops for personal, professional, business and spiritual awareness and development.

All of this is enveloped in the understanding that we are created beings and the acknowledgment that there is a Higher Power. We as females connect to that power even in the mundane chores of life. It is through this connection that we find our truest source of power and inner peace.

I invite females from all walks of life to join me in the discovery of LIFE v21.0.9

Gastronomic Simplicity

April 4, 2009

Friends and acquaintances who know me well know that I am not big on restaurants. I am a fabulous cook, as good as, if not better than, the majority of our local restaurants. Fast food, for health and ethical reasons, is for emergencies only. For this reason, if you hear me recommend a local restaurant, know it is going to be a gastronomic delight. Like Santorini’s in Beaverton. Be sure to order the lamb chops or the pork schnitzel. OMG!!!


If you are a local Portland-Metro business woman doing busines with me, chances are I will invite you to my home-office for a meeting at some point. The benefit to you is that I will delight you with my home-chef cooking skills. For instance, Vickie Olsen of laPlanette, LLC., and I discussed I.F. strategy over a delightful lunch of Lentils, Monastery Style with bread and a “21st-century” fruit salad this afternoon.

I know you want to do biz with me now! 😛


Lentils, Monastery Style   4 – 6 servings

In a large pot sauté 3-5 minutes:

1/4 c. peanut oil (read here why peanut oil)
1 large onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped

Add and sauté 1 minute more:
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. marjoram

1 c. dry lentils, washed
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 c. stock or water salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. diced tomatoes

Cook in covered pot until lentils are tender (about 45 minutes)

Have ready: 2/3 c. grated Swiss cheese

To serve place 2 T. grated cheese in each bowl and top with soup. Good with fresh baked sourdough bread.


Recipe from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé – Eleventh printing April 1990

Self-care Sunday

March 15, 2009

I picked up Cheryl Richardson’s The Art of Extreme Self-Care
on Amazon.com and began reading it today. Right off, in chapter one – End The Legacy of Deprivation, I realized this would be another of her powerful books.

As I read I became aware of my behavior over the last few months since Steve’s diagnosis of prostate cancer. I thought I had been dealing well; rationalizing this was not a death sentence, only another challenge in life. But as I read about Cheryl’s own experiences of flitting from one thing to another, creating multitudes of to-do lists and over-eating to stuff feelings, uneasiness crept into my spirit. An awareness that I had begun to fall back into old patterns of self-deprivation began to grow.

Cheryl states “over giving is often a sign of deprivation – a signal that a need isn’t being met, an emotion isn’t being expressed, or a void isn’t being filled.”

Memories of a time when I lived in extreme over commitment flooded my mind. My children suffered, an 8-year marriage dissolved, and several friendships were broken because of my over giving.

Like Cheryl, I too have discovered that “awareness is a powerful catalyst for positive change.” She challenges the reader to spend the next 30 days becoming skilled at recognizing the ways we deprive ourselves.

Cheryl, I accept your challenge. I rededicate Sunday’s to my own personal self-care.

Sunday brunch with Steve is our time to just be with each other. Afternoons are my time for spiritual introspection. Here I also find time to plan and coordinate my weekly activities. I devote this time to review my calendar, check my wardrobe for the week, and pre-prep any breakfasts/lunches that must travel with me during the week.

Sunday evenings I’ll spend some quality time in our wonderful spa tub, making sure to provide my body some much needed pampering. Then a quiet dinner with Steve will round out the day.

Some Sunday’s – like today – Steve is at the model train club repairing track or what-not, so I have additional time for reading and writing.

Thank you Cheryl for the reminder to take time for my own needs, ask for help, appreciate my own accomplishments, and make my own self-care a priority.


Now you may think that just because there was snow on your roof this morning, Portland, that spring is a ways off. Take heart. Spring is very near!

The very fact that I have had to commence with my “catch-release-catch” program this week tells me spring is at hand, just around the corner in fact.

Being a FemiKnowlogist, I am not one to upset nature’s balance. So when I found the tell-tell droppings under my kitchen sink last week, I pulled out my trusty Victor Live Mouse Traps.

Once upon a time I used your run-of-the mill spring loaded mouse trap. But if you have ever had to dispose of the capture from one of those contraptions you will understand why I discontinued their use.

With the live traps I just pop a peanut into each trap and set them near where I found droppings. Since we are early in the season I find I have to check them twice a day. I usually check them around 9:00pm and again in the morning before I leave for work. Sometimes the smaller mice are able to get in, steal the peanut, and get out without tripping the trap, but the larger ones are captured every time.

Our house is the next to the last house on the block then there is a large field with a water shed area at the end. This is where I release the little buggers.

These critters are not as timid as you might think. I have had them make a quick u-turn upon exiting the trap and run between my feet in an effort to hide under my shoes. This, of course, produces a loud ”eeek!” from me, followed by an amazing acrobatic feat.

On one occasion the creature executed it’s u-turn, made a mad dash out of the field and across the paved street…did I mention there is a very large, very old oak tree hosting a family of harrier hawks on the other side of the field? h0e2ycagnsae1cas3otc9carn55nacalgffzbca6k1ajacap4i1okcamb5wudcalk0w6lca1v0r5lcaldyllgcai62f43cafcrgfgcalwkc4uca5zkh0ocag2gh8uca287ghccadd6swfcafubaasca0d2oyr

Hence the name, catch – release – catch program. And the circle of life continues…

Walk like a Penguin

How to walk like a penguin

  •  March in groups, with like-minded, for support, safety, and protection from the elements
  • It matters little how you get there – you may walk or toboggan on your belly
  • However you choose to get there, you are responsible for the progress of your own journey
  • Do not impede the progress of others


To those who are alone

To those who are on this same journey

To those who are like-minded

To those who are tired of finding themselves flat on the floor

To those who sit quietly by, shackled by fear

To those who have never-give-up determination

To those who understand two heads are better than one and a cord of three strands is not easily broken

To those who want to put down the cardboard sign, get out of line, turn off the cell phone

To those who want to enjoy a bit of peace of mind

To those who just aren’t quite sure how to get out of the way of bully/predators

To those who want to March Like a Penguin


Hello, I am Countess Culture Vulture…