A Boring Update and a(n even more boring) Rant

•April 25, 2012 • 3 Comments

Day 26…Seriously.  I’m almost 1/3 of the way through, that’s just crazy talk.  I’ll be honest and say this weekend I ate cheese and some baked goods that had eggs and butter in them.  A friend was in town and we don’t get to see him very often so I went crazy.  But, back on the vegan train and and feeling good and also kind of proud of myself that with him here I still only missed 1 day of working out.

Today starts working out twice a day because I can and it’s that awesome.  I’m sort of feeling ashamed that I didn’t do this sooner, I mean, it’s this easy to get healthier and feel better…I’m embarrassed that I didn’t do it before now.  But, there’s no time like the present or something like that.  The other day a friend who I see fairly often told me that she’s never seen one lose weight this fast.  Which was really sweet.  Thanks friend.

I know I said that I wouldn’t talk about Body By Vi while talking about my health, but I have a need to wrap it up at this point and a blog post is the most efficient way to do it.  First and foremost, if anyone reading this knows the answer to my question, please, please share it.  I really would love to know, it just would be a little obsessive of me to continue with this whole thing.

I contacted Visalus and a couple local people who sell it locally to ask where their soy is sourced from because of the way we process it here and the other top soy producing countries.  The one who contacted me back (thank you for that) told me the same thing that the website told me and the same thing that another Vi supplier told a different blogger.  Here is the stock answer that I got from all three sources:

There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about soy in the marketplace today. In countries where consumption of soy is high (like Japan) the populations are healthier and have fewer health issues than in America today. So we know that there is misinformation, and facts being taken out of context. (Just an additional comment by Char here, in Japan, they eat edamame and not the mature soybean that we consume here, and most importantly, they ferment it which makes it an entirely different product than we consume here.)

Of the concerns over soy, there are a few common ones. First, is referring to raw soybeans, that can contain a form of phytic acid that can block certain minerals absorption. However, that is based on massive consumption quantities, and of the raw soybean and only occurs in those animals that lack the digestive enzyme phytase. It is only an issue for people who consume those foods to get minerals in their diet, and in massive quantities. The issue is in developing countries, and may have a genetic basis as well because they are lacking the digestive enzyme (which can be supplemented and therefore alleviate the concern). It is not an issue for our products because of how we process the ingredients.  (As an additional note from Char, no culture on the planet consumes “massive quantities of raw soybeans.)

The second common concern with soy are due to some of the components of soy, particularly the isoflavones genistein and dadzein which can affect and inhibit thyroid peroxidase which is necessary for the production of T3 and T4. Thus there is some evidence that it could lead to thryoid enlargement (Goiter) . Our soy has been processed to remove the isoflavones, so this is not an issue.  (Additional note, the isoflavones really are what present a lot of the problems that come from soy, you can find them all in soy milk, so I’m going to have to ask you to switch to almond milk, because it’s freakin’ delicious.)

A third common concern about soy is the effect it may have on estrogen levels in the body. This is again due to the isoflavones, which we have had removed. So this is a non-worry. We should note that many menopausal women do supplement with isoflavones, as it has been shown to help them experience fewer side effects of menopause. (Additional note, soy may help in menopausal women, BUT, here in this country, again with the process we put it through, doctors tell women with endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, PMDD, and other hormonal fluctuations to consume ZERO soy.)

Lastly, our Soy is not genetically modified (it is non-GMO). Many people worry about genetically modified soy, and if any of the ingredients got altered in the breeding process. We use the most natural form we can get, that has not been genetically modified.  (Additional note, I believe them, but this is another reason why I wanted to know where the crap they found non-GMO soy.)

Seems solid, right?  Except none of these things answer my question.  Which is indicative of 1) how much they really educate those who sell their products and 2) how highly they think of the person consuming their products.

In order to isolate the protein in soy, (soy protein isolate is the first ingredient listed on Vi’s shakes) we use a method called solvent extraction.  Also, soy protein is just a by product of manufacturing canola oil and in the information I’ve found, which may be outdated at this point, has only ever been approved as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA in the manufacturing of cardboard.  That’s a little alarming to me because I feel like the FDA approves almost anything…ie pink slime.  But, in the interest of fairness, there are lots of herbal supplements out there that I consider to be safe that haven’t been considered by the FDA also, so, eh, take it or leave it.

OK, solvent extraction, it’s how we get the soy protein isolate without the isoflavones.  The solvent?  Hexane.  A know neurotoxin.  But, again to be fair, I have read a few things that say they no longer use hexane in the extraction of soy proteins for human consumption.  They use methanol.  A known neurotoxin.  Also, I have a friend who works at USSEC (United States Soy Bean Export Council) and tells me that yes, this is how we process soy in this country if they are a part of the conglomerate of soy farmers that export their crops (51% of all soy we produce is exported, and less than 10% of it is raised for human consumption, fun facts :)).  Also, we got the solvent extraction process thing from the Canadians, so they process this way also.

Also, in the interest of fairness, Visalus says that their soy doesn’t come from GMOs which is pretty hard to come by in this country, which is why my question wasn’t how do you process your soy but rather where does it come from?  No answer…but, to put your mind at ease solvent extraction is also how they isolate the proteins in soy in Brazil, Argentina and China so all 4 top soy producers in the world use this method.  So, you can pretty much guarantee that if you drink a BBV shake, you’re getting a little dose of neurotxin that’s just sitting in your poor liver and one day, if your liver gets triggered and dumps that stuff into your blood watch out kidneys!  You may be toast.  That’s admittedly a doomsday scenario, but it could, hypothetically happen.  More likely, what will happen is you’ll get sick.  How sick?  I don’t know.  All of your muscles are going to hurt, you’re going to be fatigued and there will be stress on your kidneys as they try to filter out the additional toxins flowing in your blood.

Also, I’d like to stress that this isn’t just a Visalus issue, it’s a soy issue.  Canola oil, soy milk, tofu, etc., etc., they need not be consumed.

More to the point is that we’re responsible for what we put into our bodies.  Read ingredient labels and be informed.  The more something doesn’t look the way it did in nature the less you should consume it.  Find out the way your food is processed, plant or animal.  It’s important.

Oh, and one other thing in regards specifically to Vi.  This whole thing about it curing type two diabetes.  Look.  A type two diabetic probably is someone who doesn’t really care all that much about what they eat.  You take that person and tell them to drink two shakes a day and then a healthy meal in the evening and healthy snacks between they’re going to get rid of it.  It’s not rocket surgery (that’s is my favorite wrong thing to say, rocket surgery, you can’t do surgery on rockets, it amuses me).  Besides that, it’s the lifestyle change that heals their body, not the Vi.  The same thing would happen if they just plain ate better.  But it’s always cool when people get healed of something.

Now, unless someone knows the answers, this is me, washing the soy blood off of my hands.  Ahhhhh, that feels good.


The One Where I Tell You Something Super Personal and Embarrassing

•April 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK. Um, this is gross, but amazing. And weirdest of all, true. But, It’s amazing so I’m going to share it with the internet. I’ve been eating this way for two weeks now (hooray!) and still feel awesome. But, yesterday I discovered a completely unexpected and very awesome byproduct of this whole adventure. My feet.

Since 7th grade my poor toenails have been riddled with gross. I made a bad shoe decision based on fashion (patent leather sketchers anyone?) and my toenails have been paying the fungal price ever since. I’ve been on medication off and on for 13 years. Let me say that again, 13 years. I’ve had prescription strength creams and over the counter stuff as well as a few hippie things thrown in over the years and clearly, nothing worked. Nothing. It was terribly embarrassing and did I mention gross? Yeah, it was gross.

BUT, oh my gosh. I was looking at my feet last night and realized that since I’ve started eating vegan all of my nails are completely clear and healthy but one. And that one is clearly growing out healthy. What. The. What?!?!?!?! I’m so excited I could cry.

People, the good Lord gave us food. And if we eat the right way it can heal our bodies. That’s insane. And really beautiful. The foods He created back in the garden have healed my sad, ugly feet. What’s that scripture? Something about the feet that bring the gospel are beautiful? Mine are beautiful again. And it wasn’t a product, trust me, I’ve tried every one of them over the years (besides pills, too many possible side-effects.)

I looked it up to see if this is something that happens regularly and couldn’t find anything that said definitively that a vegan diet cures toenail fungus, but that seems oddly specific…what I did find was a few articles about how diet does (obviously) affect it in a big way. It was more about refined sugars (obviously, since fungi eat sugar) and carbs, which I haven’t been eating any of, so it’s possible that was all it took. But I don’t drink soda or eat a lot of sweets, but I do love carbs and ate a lot of bread before this whole venture, so that might be the answer, I don’t know.

Now, what I’m not saying is that if you have nail fungus go vegan and it will definitely with scientific certainty cure you. I’m just saying look at me getting healthier! In ways I didn’t know possible. 13 years people, 13. He makes beautiful the feet that bring good news. The good news is my body has been healed of something that sucked. Praise the Lamb.


•April 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

For me, recipes make all the difference in the world.  If I’m cooking something that excites me, I’m feeling good even if no trace of cheese can be found in it.  The other day a friend sent me this blog for recipes and it’s changed everything. We had her vegan enchiladas with avocado cilantro sauce last night and it was weirdly filling and really delicious. I’ve always loathed the idea of a veggie burger, but her recipe has me really intrigued.

Still feeling good etc., etc., only 80 days to go.

Veganism Sucks

•April 7, 2012 • 3 Comments

I’m sitting at the very lovely Cafe Main sipping a decaf Americano, which is extra delicious.  Tikva knows what’s up.  I love it here.

Anyway, it’s day 7 on the vegan train.  I’m learning some interesting things about myself.  I am currently (in attitude) as if I was on day 2 of a water fast.  Cranky.  It was cold last night and I just wanted to settle in with some broccoli cheddar soup but I couldn’t.  Because I’m eating like a stupid vegan (they aren’t stupid, I’m just cranky).  My babies were crazy all week and Wellsy had class last night so I was their sole care-giver for another almost full day and it drove me to the limit.  I wanted comfort food.  I wanted mashed potatoes with butter in a 2:1 ratio.  And cheese, because what I’ve come to find out is I love cheese more than most things.

I didn’t know that I leaned on food so much.  That when the crap hit the fan I really did use it for something that it shouldn’t be used for.  This should go without saying, but my comfort shouldn’t come from cheese.  But when I’m in need, cheese is easy, it’s just sitting in the fridge saying “Char, do you need to talk about something?  I’m here if you do.”  Stupid cheese.  What a jerk.

But, I really do feel kind of amazing.  I didn’t know that I didn’t feel good before, but now I feel really, really good.  Also, I’m losing weight, which is cool, not the goal, but very cool.

So there it is, day 7 is almost done and I hate it today, but, it’s because I’m learning things about myself that I didn’t want to know.  I really didn’t think I lived to eat, but apparently, sometimes I do and that sucks.  Here’s to tomorrow.

A 90 Day Challenge of My Own

•April 3, 2012 • 2 Comments

I know of a lot of people taking the Body By Vi 90 day fitness challenge.  Their challenge comes in 3 easy steps according to their website.  You set your goal, pick one of their product kits, and then share your results.  Their best selling kit is The Transformation Kit.  From what I can gather from the information on the website that is not in video form (my computer has no sound), is that with this kit you replace 2 meals a day with their shakes.  On the flier I read, the program has been designed so you do not have to exercise.

OK, if you’ve seen my recent posts on facebook, you know what I think about it and why I think it.  But, here what I want to talk about is me and my health.  I’m also doing a 90 day challenge for myself.  I’ve adopted a vegan diet.  Holy.  Crap.  I’m a good Midwestern girl.  I love me some meat and potatoes.  But, since I was about 12 I’ve had trouble digesting meats and primarily didn’t eat them for about 6 or 7 years (I met Jesse, remaining meatless wasn’t an option).  It was eating beef that triggered my gallbladder issues that I battled with through both pregnancies and had to cut out beef completely again for a year.  I’ve eaten it here and there in the last few months and have been OK, but I remain concerned.  Also for me, the lipids in shellfish trigger my gallbladder something fierce.  I know, most people say “Eat fish, it’s lean protein so good for you!” my body rejects it in a big way, I puke every time.  Every.  Time.  I’ve never been a huge pork fan, so mostly, I don’t eat that, except in the fall with apples, ginger, nutmeg in a slow cooker.  Yes and amen.  Mmmmmmmmm…………………..oh, sorry.  I’m back.  Anyway, I hardly eat pork, which leaves chicken, which I eat and ground turkey, which I also eat, but not a ton of.  Throughout my life I’ve gone without eating meat for extended periods of time but this time, I’m kickin’ all the animal products to the curb for 90 days to see how I feel.  It might be permanent, it might not be.  No eggs, meat, cheese, milk, none of it.  None.  I love cheese………..mmmmmmmmm…………sigh…….not the point.  I’m also, not eating any soy products.  No tofu, no soy milk, I’ll take my protein sans manufacturing byproducts thank you.

It’s been 3 days and so far I feel like something is happening.  I can’t say anything more than that at this point but I plan on documenting my progress on a semi regular basis.  90 days apparently makes this end on June 30th.

Also, I’ve been working out for about week.  Which is different than the Body By Vi challenge.  OK, the goals.  My goal is not to be thin, or to lose weight (I would welcome the byproduct) but I just want to be healthier.  I want to have more energy to keep up with the hooligans.  Mister and I have been working out together and it has actually improved our habits.  We put the kids to bed, work out, and then go to bed ourselves so we’ve gone to bed earlier over the last week.  Back to the goal, being healthy.  Mister suggested since the Body By Vi challenge is about weight loss that I actually weigh myself and take measurements and all that which I thought was a good idea, but I decided against it.  I don’t want to get obsessed with pounds and inches.  I’ll take a few pictures.  That’ll be it.  I’ve never had a great body image and I’m not going to drive myself with it.  Also, as far as diet is concerned, we don’t eat poorly.  We eat chikfila maybe two or three times a month so the kids can run around on a rainy day, other than that I cook.  I cook for real.  Fresh fruits, fresh veg, no animal products that have been fed antibiotics or hormones in this house (I love saying “in this house” because my parents would use it as an exclamation, awesome.)  We don’t generally have sweets or salty snacks around (I send the cupcakes to work with Jesse), I do regularly engage in a whiskey in the evening, but I don’t drink sugary cocktails or juices from concentrate, I mostly drink water, between 4 and 6 glasses a day and now also almond milk (delicious).

I’m really excited to see how I feel at the end more than how I look.  87 days to go!


•March 22, 2011 • 2 Comments

Tonight my heart is heavy and sad. It’s Lent. I think that is what my heart is supposed to feel like. In light of the Lenten time I decided to go balls to the wall and give up complaining. Now, this is something that I have purposed in my heart not to do anyway so it should be easy peasy, right? False. Oh, so terribly false. In this time of reflection I’ve come to realize that most of what I do all day long is complain. It may almost never escape my mouth but on the inside I almost never stop.

I complain about the children, I complain about my weight, I complain about the mess, I complain about cleaning up the mess, I complain about my house, my yard, the neighbor’s beagle, I complain about Mister’s complaining, money, other humans, PBS, politics, wars, etc., etc.. I complain all the time. All of it. It makes my heart heavy I do it so much.

By nature, I’m a cynic and a pessimist but I always have hope. In recent months, I have felt my hope bubble diminish and wondered why. When I felt like the Lord was asking me to give up my whining for Lent, I didn’t understand but now I do. My whining is edging out all of the space for hope in my soul. It’s taking over.

My complaints have been formed from my perception of my life and the realization is painful. Most of the time I say and believe that my life is magical. I have an incredible husband, 3 completely stunning children, a beautiful home, amazing friends, lots of family who love me, the list is endless. But still, there are days when reality is a cruel, cruel thing. My goals are not being accomplished.

I am not in school, I am not a doctor. That blows.

What makes it more painful is often times when I get this way I don’t see the other things that are being accomplished in our life. I have 3 healthy babes that we have thus far raised on organic food and attached parenting. Considering where I came from, this is a serious accomplishment. I have a marriage that makes other people want to get married. That is a BIG deal, a really, really big deal. And even though in reality I haven’t truly studied the Bible in over a year I love Jesus, and in return His kindness to me has been immeasurable. He prompted me to give up complaining for Lent and now I know the source of my troubles. His grace is sufficient for everyday and His mercy is truly unceasing.

I love Lent.

Marriage: A Lenten Reflection

•March 20, 2011 • 2 Comments

*Note: With my other blog being where I write most of the time and it’s focus being our life with the children, this has become the marriage/Lent/Advent blog.  I actually wrote this piece for a local periodical published by a young artistic community who love Jesus but thought I couldn’t let them have all the fun, so, enjoy.

I am married to an amazing man.

Marriage in our day seems like it could use a little definition.  By married I mean joined in covenant with and by God to an earthly being who is called to first and wholly love me.

When I was single, I had an odd definition of marriage based on observation.  The most prominent example I had of marriage did not reflect the glory and revelation that it was meant to but instead brought confusion and aversion.  If this is what marriage was, I most certainly did not want it.

However, the inevitable happened.  I met that ever imagined “someone” that is often spoken of at holiday hooplas, children’s birthday parties, family gatherings, super markets, walks in the neighborhood, coffee dates with friends, spa outings with the bestie, basically, anywhere you come into contact with another human, your “someone” is generally present whether you’ve met them or not.  My someone’s name is Jesse.

Jesse was weird.  He seemed like a mess of a human.  He ate Hostess cupcakes and Jones soda for lunch.  He would scale 2 stories to get to my balcony for the purpose of giving us ladies a fright.  He was loud, he was intriguing, he was flirtatious, but most of all, he was a mess.  If you had told me on the day that I met him that he would be my husband I would wonder why you didn’t like me.  While these observations may seem harsh, they are true.  They are a part of our story.  They are something that we have come to treasure.

As time went on I learned many more things about Jesse that made me realize he was more than I had surmised during the first couple of weeks that I knew him.  He was actually quite a deep well.  Jesse while he appeared to be flighty and flaky was truly someone who had built an interior castle.  When we would talk well into the night I was amazed that this was the same person who would without a second thought strip to his boxers upon the yelling of “Fancy pants and Steve!” by one of his brothers or the same person that would fit the contents of a three foot long pixie stick in his mouth all at once later resulting in heart palpitations.

I’ll spare you all the details, but 10 months after we met, Jesse on a floating platform in the middle of a lake after dark surrounded by fire and Frank Sinatra asked me to be his wife.  The only answer I could give him was yes.  His kindness had mortally wounded me and I would never again be the same.

After the initial happiness and euphoria at the thought of being married drifted away I remembered my aversion.  What have I done?  Marriage is not something I ever wanted to do, it was a stifling poison that ruined the partakers and jaded those around them.  I had made an awful mistake, and while this man seemed like the answer to a life long hope alive only in the deepest corners of my truest self I was not ready to oblige marriage, it would not take me alive.

As time wore on and our fateful day grew closer I was more confused.  I wanted to marry Jesse.  I wanted to be his partner in life forever.  I wanted to pursue our Creator together and create an environment of life and love around us that those we befriended would always know they would have a place in our love.  We decided to go to premarital counseling, because that is what Christians do, they seek the wisdom and counsel of those that have gone before in hopes of avoiding rookie mistakes and needless arguments.  We sought out a recommended couple in our community who agreed to meet with us.

When we arrived for our first session, we sat outside their home in our car for a solid ten minutes.  We were scared.  What if they told us we weren’t right for each other?  What if they told us not to get married?  What if they told us that we had heard wrongly from the Lord and the person who’s hand we held was not intended for us?  We summoned our strength, gathered our ridiculous fears and walked to their door.  Aside from all the silliness, there was a real issue that needed to be dealt with.  I didn’t like the idea of marriage.  Plain and simple.  I didn’t know what “submission” meant, what it was to be a “good Christian wife”, why Mr. cupcakes and Jones soda got the final word on all the important stuff and above all, together, those three things summed up to be the scariest question of all.  In marriage, would I still get to live my life?  Would I still be me?

In the model of marriage I most closely observed the answer was no.  The two parties involved were constantly trying to change the other.  Their language was harsh and demeaning and the more the demands were met or more likely, perceived to have been unmet, the more change was demanded.  The existence was misery, the union poison and the partakers constantly spent as year after year one tried to fit themselves into the mold of the other.  With this in mind, I sat on a plaid couch next to the man I would marry.

Our counselors were friendly, they greeted us with tea and warm eyes, their voices brimming with excitement over our decision to commit ourselves one wholly to the other.  We exchanged pleasantries, and over the course of the next 3 hours we told our story.  When we came to the end of our googly-eyed ramblings, the Mr. of the duo wiped his eyes and looked at us with love and told us very simply that “Your marriage is going to be a ten.  It will provoke to jealousy those around it and make people feel warmth in your home.”  The collective sigh of relief betwixt us was palpable and we all smiled as we cleared away our joyful tears.

As the weeks wore on a new picture of marriage was painted for me.  Submission of wife to husband was simply and beautifully explained to me by my mentoring Mrs. As the duty of a wife to let her husband love her.  “You must come under his mission.  What is his mission?  What did Paul say it was, to love you as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her.  You must simply, let him love you.”  Her words put peace in my soul beyond all understanding and it happened week after week.  Jesse having final authority was put in the light of wives being a husband’s golden hearing aid.  A mouthpiece of God given to him as his true helpmate, she would provide the pieces to the puzzle of life that he lacked and with her knowledge and understanding weighed equally, a husband could only then truly make the best decisions.

With my previous preconceptions melting away each week I felt more prepared to be Jesse’s wife.  I had a more accurate picture every day of what it meant to be joined to a loving man who with all of his faults above all, loved Jesus and secondly loved me.  However, my previous assertions about marriage not taking me alive and my fears of demanded change I would soon find out were quite just.

On our last night together the couple that had become our heroes left me with the most profound thing to ever impact me.  Mr. F. turned to me and while pointing to Jesse he said simply “You will be crucified on this cross.  Everyday will be another step closer to the death of yourself, marriage, will kill you, and at the end, you’ll look like Jesus.”

I’ve carried these words in my soul everyday for 5 years.  In this time of Lent I too walk to Calvary, every step, a death to selfishness and self-preservation.  Every lash a removal of that which asserts itself against the Uncreated.  I am married.  I am dying.  The things to which I used to cling and hold as my own have fallen by the wayside as I press on towards my goal of loving Him the Creator and being loved by him the created.  Five years later I know that Jesse’s love is changing me, but this change has not been demanded by harsh words or demeaning threats nor is the change itself for his personal gain.  The change that has been wrought in my heart and soul in our five years together has been a gift.  The gift of glimpses into heaven, a reflection in a mirror dimly of what our days lived out married to the Lamb will be.

In this Lenten season my reflections are filled with gratitude.  I am beyond thankful for my journey to Calvary upon the cross of love.