Mateo’s Quilt

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What’s this? Another baby on the way?! Yes!

This time my cousins Oli and Matt are expecting their first – a baby boy named Mateo! I just love that name. I can’t wait for him to be here. ūüôā

Typically, I stick with pretty traditional quilting. ¬†Civil War quilts are my favorite, followed closely by The Farmer’s Wife (1930s). ¬†But, I just couldn’t see myself giving Matt and Oli’s son a traditional quilt. I decided to go for something bold, modern, and way out of my comfort zone. Pretty much the entire time I made this quilt I asked two questions 1) is there something with more contrast? 2) is there something bolder? ¬†I think I finally got the questions answered with ‘no’.

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Again, I didn’t use a pattern and I just used jelly rolls. It will be the last time I use jelly rolls though. They just aren’t consistent! Im pretty sure it’s the one time that a human is more consistent than a machine – plus they cut them between 2 3/4 inch and 3in and it just makes no sense. trying to match them up with anything is a nightmare. ¬†If you look close you can see I used a lot of optical illusions on this quilt to adjust or the non-standard jelly roll strips. *shakes fist* never again jelly rolls! But I’m super happy with this quilt. It’s modern, fun, and super bold. It’s perfect.

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The Pursuit of Balance

The past 6 months of my life have been a whirlwind. I have moved back to Colorado, found an awesome job (with no time off at all), accepted the bad news about Vladimir being close to the end, moved into our new apartment, hustled hard enough to get a team lead position at work, and just finally now in August feel somewhat settled in a ‘routine.’

With settling in, I can finally take a deep breath and realize that I’m completely unbalanced in some aspects of my life right now. Perhaps, it has been this way for some time, but now that the excitement and stimulation is dwindling, I have the time to observe and reflect that I don’t really feel like I’m living my best effective life. I’m not unhappy by any means, I am very privileged to have this life and been having a great time. I’ve made a lot of changes and progressed so much, I’m very proud of myself. But, what I am saying is that I haven’t knit, crocheted, or crafted regularly for 8 months now. My diet and exercise habits have been out of whack – too much working out is not beneficial for my body (and I would argue most everyone’s also). And I feel like I have pushed energy and attention into people and things that well, quite frankly, don’t even care that I engage with them.

It’s time for a reset. What does this mean? Well I’m taking it back to the fundamentals. I’m kicking off a 90 day health and fitness challenge on Monday. I’m getting back on my bike for short fun rides. I’m starting to sew, knit, crochet, and craft just for myself. No more custom orders this season. I’m making time for the people that I love, the folks I moved back to Colorado for and the people I love that live elsewhere that deserve my energy. I’m reflecting on the things I could improve upon, like my codependency and my tolerance for people who make me feel uncomfortable. It is the season for improvement.

This late summer and fall is the perfect time for a transition inward. By focusing on myself and balancing my life I will be more effective as a friend, family member, and partner. It is time to radiate from within.

I’m on the pursuit of balance.

New Mexico July 2015

A few weeks ago the dude and I took a trip to visit my Grandma down in the ‘land of enchantment’ – New Mexico! I have such fond memories of New Mexico (tons and tons of summers there as a child) and it felt so good going back with a clear and sound mind to experience all the things I know as a child I took for granted. I would move down there in a heartbeat too.

It was so great to get to spend time with my Grandma – she is like her own sweatshop with the amount of quilts she produces! But, she is such an inspiring and strong woman. She beat terminal ovarian cancer and now has 15 years in remission! She has blossomed in her own community, even after the death of my grandfather 10 years ago. Plus I LOVE being able to talk to her about crafts, life, and living a happy sober life (this lady has never even been to a bar!).

Since she lives very close to Carlsbad Caverns, the dude had never been to the caves and well… that’s what you do when you visit Artesia, NM! ūüėČ

Here’s some pictures of our cave exploration.

this crazed handsome lunatic is about to go spelunking!

the entrance – can you imagine ‘discovering’ this and thinking ‘gee i guess i’ll head on down!’ CRAZY.

cave parts.

that crazed spelunker is actually pretty handsome. ūüėČ

i swear i was having a good time.

the whale’s teeth. creeepy.

some kind of a lochness monster in the cave made of minerals.

nature is insane.

me and this giant creepy rock skeleton finger.

amazing detail of the stalactites

green lake room

My HCG Weighloss Journey

So I have been wanting to write this post for a year. ¬†However, I figured I needed some time/evidence/and some personal research before I dished about my weight loss last fall and then keeping it off for over a year. ¬†I lost the weight through a controversial method – the HCG Protocol. ¬†Some see it as no better than a diet pill, for me it was in no way shape or form ‘the easy option.’ ¬†Also surprisingly, through HCG I learned just how important nutrition and fuel is for my body. It went from the sole desire to ‘look a certain way’ to being able to fuel my life and be healthy.

Shall we look at a before?

8/2013

Now what about an after (april 2014)?

i know a 'paleo' diet of at least 1600 calories a day and running 2-3 times a week works for me.
i know a ‘paleo’ diet of at least 1600 calories a day and running 2-3 times a week works for me.

And now?

i need fuel for zee muscles!

Let us begin.

About a month after I got sober in July 2013, I realized that just stopping my alcohol consumption would not magically make me lose the weight I had, for years, deduced must be there because of booze/booze related consequences. After a month sober, I physically felt better and mentally felt great, but still had every excess pound on me. ¬†Now at this point, it had been years since I exercised regularly and I had 26 years of bizarre eating habits going on. ¬†A prime example of my ‘bizarre’ eating habits is ‘oh no I can’t eat that whole serving of chicken breast, instead I will only eat half and ¬†use those ‘saved’ calories to consume some M&Ms’ – makes total sense….. ¬†However, before HCG I had tricked my brain (but not my body) into thinking all calories were equal. ¬†Of course I’ve heard the opposite of this said everywhere; at the gym, at WeightWatchers, at CrossFit, at Title Boxing, at¬†Whole Foods, on Dr. Oz, in People Magazine, etc etc… but I never really believed it. Why? Because I wanted to eat the bad shit. ¬†Plain and simple. ¬†Sure an avocado is amazing for your body/nutrition, but a donut is more fun! ¬†Also I am a ‘victim’ of the generation that was told fat and calories are BAD! ¬†Something we as a culture are just starting to wake up from….

However, I digress, I wanted to lose the weight. I was single, sober, and by golly I wanted to be thin. ¬†(Yes thin, not healthy – we will get there) When thinking about the way to lose this excess 30 pounds I had with me, I immediately thought of the HCG Protocol. I have had several close friends see long term success with HCG so I figured I would try it in Chicago. ¬†Oddly enough, there is a medical clinic just two blocks from my house that advertises (in giant neon flashing lights) that they have the HCG Protocol there. ¬†I took it as a sign from some ‘diet higher power’ and made an appointment.

Now here is where the risk got high. ¬†This HCG protocol was not cheap. ¬†In fact, it was a cool $1000. ¬†I was weighed, questioned, pinched (for BMI), and had an EKG done for heart health in my consult. ¬†The Doc said – it seems like a good fit for you. ¬†I agreed (good thing I had that 0% APR Chase Slate card on me!). ¬†I’m going to give the canned version of what the next 42 days of my life were like. ¬†First off, I was to inject myself daily with HCG (which some of you may recognize as a hormone produced by pregnant ladies) and follow a very strict meal plan of specific foods that were under 500 calories a day. ¬†This may sound alarming, because well it is pretty insane. But, I had seen the results of the folks that followed the protocol and so I followed the instructions.

The first two days of injections you get to pig the eff out. ¬†NO JOKE. There’s a little bit of a ‘science’ behind what you want to eat (more fats/proteins), but basically anything you want in an quantity until you are so full you may vomit all over yourself. ¬†I vividly remember this was the last time I ate¬†Taco Bell. It was amazing.

Day Three – 42. 500 calories MAX a day. ¬†Of only certain proteins (chicken breast/certain fish), leafy greens, and two fruit options (apple/grapefruit). So I wasn’t miserable. 1 – because the pounds fall off by 1-2lbs per day. So it was at least results producing. 2 – the HCG chemically tells your brain/body you are satisfied at 500 calories and thus is allowed to burn your fat without knowing you are actually starving yourself. I don’t know the real science behind this – this was my attempt at not putting you asleep but sharing my process. Now this whole 500 calorie business is serious. I recall one day chewing (NOT EATING) 10 sticks of gum and because of the sucralose in the gum I gained 3 pounds. Once I realized that was the only thing different in my diet I made sure not to do that again. That was early in the protocol too so it reinforced that cheating was going to really sabotage this. ¬†Plus I JUST SPEND A GRAND ON THIS. (Believe me I hyperventilated about it many times – but stress deters weightloss so I had to calm the eff down and be thankful that card was 0%APR for a¬†year longer)

During these 42 days I also had weekly (every Sunday) doctor visits where I would weigh in, get my weeks worth of shots and a weekly B12 shot.

So, naturally there is fear about the sudden stopping of the shots and then increasing the calories. ¬†At the end of the 42 days I had gone from 195lbs to 166lbs. ¬†For the next two weeks following the protocol I had to increase my calories to at least 1500, BUT remain on the same selection of foods. Now 1500 calories disappears very quickly in a diet where you can have nuts, pasta, pizza, sugar, soda, but when you can only eat eggs, chicken breast, leafy greens, apples, grapefruit, certain fish… it takes a lot of those things to get you to 1500 calories. For the first time in my life I felt like I was gorging on healthy foods. ¬†The doctor said I would probably continue to lose a few pounds which I did – I finally ended the weight loss at 164lbs. This re-introduction of calories is also so important because it sets the ‘base level’ for your metabolic function. ¬†So if you follow the 500 calorie days, then biff it in the 2 week post weeks the whole thing was WORTHLESS.

After the two weeks I was able to introduce basically everything except starch and sugars into my diet. Obviously this means bread is out. Sugar is the goddamn devil, but again that’s a conversation for another day.

So what did the protocol teach me? A LOT. ¬†It actually retrained my ‘yo-yo dieter’ brain into eating proper and good nutrition. Gone are the days of skipping dinner to eat a pack of M&Ms or have a sugary cocktail. Now I want to eat to fuel my body. ¬†In the past year I have learned that I can do anything with my body – ride 1000 miles on my bike, walk around Thailand, craft, walk my pug, discover Chicago, run an 8 minute mile, and learn to box. ¬†In September I took a break from my usual 2 hour daily active regime (3000 calories/day intake) and got a little confused. ¬†I started letting the empty sugar calories invade my day instead of eating cashews/avocados and other healthy fats. I blame seasonal induced lameness. ¬†I got on the scale on 11/3/2014 and weighed 175lbs (at night after eating all weekend long in Des Moines) and was bummed. ¬†I knew what I had to do…. ¬†Today (11/10/2014) I’m 164lbs as I have cut the added/processed sugar from my diet for just the past 7 days. (What’s that base level weight?! you are a real thing?!)

In conclusion, the HCG for me was the best option and it came at a time when I was most focused and inspired to do this. I followed the Protocol to the ‘t’ and lost the 30+lbs in the 42ish days. ¬†I have successfully kept off ALL the weight over 14 months later. To say I am happy with the process and the results is a gross understatement. The HCG protocol retrained my brain to care about my nutrition and my health, not my calories. ¬†Today and this past year I have experienced the healthiest relationship with food I have ever known as an adult. ¬†It may seem extreme, it may not be your cup of tea, but it allowed me to reach a level health wise that I am so proud of. I know what works for my body and I am happy that finally at 27, I have a healthy relationship with my body and with food/nutrition.

If you have questions you can email me at ghostfaceknitter@gmail.com – I would love to educate anyone interested in this process. I also understand many people do not agree with this protocol, I understand that as I was once very against this (until through my close friends was shown long term healthy results are the outcome) – please don’t demean my journey as I would never demean yours.

Thanks for reading.

GFK

XXX