Thursday, July 14, 2011

Henry Vilas Zoo

We have a lot going on lately. In ten days, our wedding will be here. In twelve days we'll be flying to Mexico, and in just over two weeks we'll be moving into a new apartment. That means there's a lot of packing and wedding planning going on. To top it off, my bachelorette party is in Chicago this weekend!

To entertain you while we pack, I thought I would post these zoo pictures. We went to the Henry Vilas Zoo a while ago (its free) and I just haven't gotten around to writing about it. The best part is the baby lion! Enjoy.

A big bear.

Aaron and the giraffe.


Baby lion! Sorry my camera is crappy and doesn't allow you to control the focus.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weight and Weddings

I mentioned in my elimination diet wrap up post that one effect of the diet was Aaron and I both lost weight. While Aaron's weight loss has been praised, mine has been a mixture of criticisms and comments that truly frustrate me. It also just happened to be before our wedding, so many people assume I was losing weight for that.

I do not know how much I weighed before starting this diet because I don't regularly weigh myself, but I estimate that I lost a minimum of 10 pounds and a max of 20. I only noticed when none of my jeans fit and I went to buy new ones and found out I was 2 sizes smaller than I thought I was.

While I was definitely eating more "healthy" and a lot less grains, I was eating a lot of food and plenty of healthy fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil, coconut milk etc). I'm not sure why or how I lost so much weight, but I have a few ideas:

1. It was water weight. My body could have been retaining water due to all of the nightshade vegetables I was eating. Once I cleansed my body of those chemicals, it stopped retaining water.

2. Less stomach aches means more time to work out. There were many days when I found myself feeling too sick to work out, or only able to do a slow bike ride (on the gym bikes). Since I feel so much better, those days are fewer and farther in between, which means my workouts are more productive and my muscles are a lot bigger!

3. Moving to Madison. We walk a lot here every day, which is a stark contrast to the amount of walking that happened in Farmington Hills/Detroit.

This has all casued me to reconsider my understanding of what a healthy weight is for me. I never thought I could lose weight, but now I feel better than I ever have. My energy levels are higher and my body feels awesome all around. Those of you who aren't as close me may not know that I was getting painful stomach aches almost every single day. It made work and life in general unpleasant. It frustrates me to hear people criticize my body when I'm finally feeling better!

Also, telling me I need to eat more or eat junk is not helpful. I eat until I'm full. I eat food that makes me feel good. I eat at least 5 times a day and I don't skip meals. Sometimes I eat more than Aaron does!

The main reason I'm writing this is that it is unlikely I will gain any weight before our wedding. The last thing I want to hear on my wedding day is comments about how skinny I am or how I need to eat. Even if they are "compliments," I do not take it that way.

I would like compliments on how buff my arms are though!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Devil's Lake

On Monday, Aaron and I woke up with no plans for celebrating the 4th and a vacation day. We decided to take a trip to Devil's Lake state park, which is about an hour from Madison.

I had been to Devil's Lake while visiting my college roommate, so I knew there was some cool hiking. After we paid our entrance fee, which unfortunately was more $ due to our out of state license plates, we found a place to park near the beach and set off the find some trails.

I was looking for Balanced Rock and Devil's Doorway, two cool rock formations. The climb to Balanced Rock is steep and very rocky. Aaron said he was sweating watching every step I made because he was afraid I would fall. I was just sweating. It was a good workout and worth it for this view:

As you can see, we are a little shiny. It was hot!

We didn't get any pictures of balanced rock because it was mobbed by people by the time we found it (we passed it, went to Devil's Doorway, and came back). The increase in traffic also made it difficult to get back down the path. Its a lot scarier going down.

Devil's Doorway.

After our hike, we immediately changed into our bathing suits and went swimming. Then we had a picnic, played frisbee, and laid in the sun. We also enjoyed listening to the myriad of languages spoken by people going by.

Even though it was crowded, it was a great way to spend the day off. I'd like to go back and hike some of the other trails and maybe camp here. One good thing about Wisconsin State Parks (as opposed to Michigan) is alcohol is permitted, so camping is more enjoyable!

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Glarus Brewery

Happy Fourth of July! This weekend I was determined to soak in as much Wisconsin entertainment as possible, since the coming four weekends will be consumed by wedding activities and moving.

On Saturday the weather was beautiful and perfect for a drive to New Glarus, WI. We have been wanting to check out the New Glarus brewery for a while, because we really enjoy drinking their beer.

They make the popular Spotted Cow, which is light and refreshing, but some of our favorites have been their seasonal brews like Stone Soup and the special edition IIPA.

At the brewery, located in the middle of farmland, you can tour the factory and then enjoy some delicious refreshment.

Aaron posing for a photo and the 30 liter brew test center.

It was interesting to see all of the equipment, but it would be even cooler to come during the week and see the brewery in action.

Aaron drinking Moon Man.

You can buy either a full pint or a tasting sampler. The first one is a little pricey ($6) because you get to keep the glass, but refills are only $3.

We chose to sit outside and enjoy the view of the country and people playing corn hole. We both have a sunburn to show for it.

Unfortunately for most of you reading this, New Glarus beer is only available in Wisconsin. We'll try to drink your share.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Elimination Diet: Wrap-Up

Today marks the official end of the elmination diet. It feels like its been over for a while after we added bread and dairy, but it wasn't.

This week I added corn. Corn is pretty easy to avoid in its basic form. No popcorn, corn tortillas, corn bread, etc, but corn syrup and corn starch is in almost every type of packaged food! I'm proud to say I have had little to zero servings of packaged food for the past 3 months. We have had things that are in packages but needed to be added during this diet, like icecream, but we read the labels all the way through to avoid corn in any form.

I didn't miss it much, but the nachos we made this week with corn chips were delicious!

So what happened to our diets and bodies over the past 3 months? It has been quite an intersting experience. Was it worth all of the trouble? Would I recommend it to anyone else?

Here are the noticable benefits/effects of the elimination diet:
  • We both lost weight.
  • I learned what foods I need to avoid.
  • We are more appreciative of foods that most people take for granted (if you don't have any grains except quinoa for a month, rice tastes pretty amazing).
  • I have fewer stomach aches.
  • We both tried new foods, like adzuki beans and collard greens.
  • I realized we don't need packaged food, bread, or any animal products to eat delicious meals.
  • I learned that refined sugar makes my sugar levels unstable and leads to more "crashing" between meals.
It was some of what I expected and some of what I didn't. I never thought I would find I couldn't eat my favorite foods and I didn't expect to feel so much better without sugar. I thought Aaron might lose weight but I had no idea how much. I was hoping that I would have less stomach aches, and I'm happy it worked.

So to answer the above questions: YES it was worth all of the trouble and YES I have already reccommended it to people. However, I honestly reccomend it as a last resort, because it takes a certain kind of desperation to stick to such a strict diet.

I will now start to add some things that weren't added back at all, like mushrooms and olives.

Next I will try the things that I think I shouldn't eat just to be sure: coffee and tomatoes are first on the list.

We are starting to resort back to some of the foods we ate before (like nachos and sandwiches) but overall our diet has changed for the better. I am more focused on vegetable or legume based meals instead of grains, dairy, or soy products. I think Aaron and I will do a mini-version of this diet whenever we aren't feeling right, probably after the holidays!