Losing 32 pounds, 14.5 kg, between us while in Bali for less than two months…What? How’d that happen?

This was a woman on a motorbike transporting vegetation to feed animals.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This wild or stray dog was digging in the sand looking for food.

Tom gained quite a bit on the past few cruises which he never seemed to lose after even with my diligent efforts in cooking a LCHF (low carb high fat) diet which is grain, sugar, and starch free. Over time, he noticed he was gaining weight when he had trouble buttoning his pants.  I noticed it in the protrusion of his belly.

Then again, I’d gained about 12 pounds, 5.4 kg, over these past few years, especially after I discovered a few baked goods recipes that are sugar, grain, and starch free including cinnamon swirled buttery almond flour coffee cake recipe which totally appropriate for my way of eating but eventually packed on a few pounds. 

Also, prior to coming to Bali, we’d regularly been having a homemade almond flour, lemon poppy seed muffin with dinner (again befitting our dietary restrictions) that was irresistible with gobs of butter. The butter wasn’t the issue. It was the muffin.

Tom’s tuna, rice, and veggie dinner last night.  He lost weight, eating these plentiful and flavorful meals.

I noticed I was gaining weight, 1.73 meters, when I felt I noticed I was getting the much-maligned “muffin top” appropriately named from eating those muffin type foods while wearing low slung pants. I didn’t like putting on nice clothes to go out to dinner when nothing fit me. I felt like a stuffed sausage. 

I’m tall for a woman at 5’8″ (shrinking daily) although I have a somewhat smaller frame, making 12 pounds, 5.4 kg quite evident. As for Tom, he’s not naturally a “burly” type guy and at barely 6 feet tall, 1.83 meters, weight losses are also obvious both to the fitting of his clothes and good health. When he’s been on the heavier side, he’ll huff and puff hauling our heavy luggage. That can’t be good.

Had we continued on that path, none of our clothing would have fit. We both had to lay on the edge of the bed to zip our jeans. I hate that!  It’s not as if we have a closet in a guest room with larger-sized clothes for those less than lean periods.

The last month in New Zealand I tried losing weight, especially after I stepped on the travel scale to discover I was 12 pounds 5.4 kg, heavier than I’d been when we began our travels. It’s not as if I’ve been eating bread and pastries. 

Small buffalo neighbor.

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to lose an ounce, while living most recently in New Zealand. Slim most of my adult life, I was worried when I’d always been able to lose a few pounds easily. I’d begun to wonder if it was time to accept advancing age as a reality that was continually going to make the scale and my waistline rise. 

Was the same true for Tom? Was the rotund belly a simple fact of advancing age? Was this our fate until we were old enough when many seniors naturally lose weight when cooking and eating become less appealing? We didn’t want that to be us if we could avoid it.

Then we arrived in Bali. No more low-carb muffins, coffee cake, and mushroom soufflé with dinner.No more low carb desserts for Tom. No more piles of sour cream which I’d been putting atop almost everything I ate as a “special treat. They don’t have sour cream, almond flour, coconut flour or the ingredients required to make any low carb desserts anywhere within a four hours drive of here. 

Fortunately, even when I incorporated these muffin-type foods into my diet I remained in control of my pain-free existence. Otherwise, I’d have immediately changed what I was eating.  No food is worth feeling pain.

My tuna and veggies dinner last night.

Continuing to feel well hardly triggered any motivation for us to change. We all like the taste and feel of “bread-like” substances in our mouths from time to time. However diligent we were in maintaining the list of acceptable foods, we simply ate too much food. 

Not unlike many others who adopt a “way of eating” over time, it’s human nature that we try to adapt it more to our liking and we start gaining back all the weight and then some. Statistically, as many as 90% of dieters regain all the weight they’d lost within three years, although stats on this are all over the place. Only we know our own reality.

For us, gaining weight is a serious issue both in health in our continuing travels and in our clothing continuing to fit. What, am I going to pop into the GAP to buy the next size up in my required extra long blue jeans? I can’t remember the last time I was in a GAP store…duh, maybe four years ago. 

Freighter passing by.

Bottom line, literally and figuratively is this…we both need to be able to continue to fit into the clothing we have on hand and for health reasons, stay within that range which is ideal for our body types. We each know where that is.

Then, we came to Bali where we were unable to purchase the above-mentioned ingredients nor was I cooking a single meal. Even on Sunday’s, the two Ketut’s day off, we ate a meal leftover for us to reheat that they’d prepared for two nights on Saturdays.

Beaches are seldom populated by bathers and sun worshipers.

Suddenly, we both started losing weight. We didn’t notice it at first. It just fell off, me more slowly than Tom but a little each week. We started stepping on the travel scale (suitable for both humans and luggage) squealing with delight over each pound lost.

In less than two months, Tom lost a full 20, 9 kg, pounds, down to his lowest weight since Belize in 2013 and I’m back to my weight of many years prior to traveling. Our clothing fits perfectly. We both tried on pants and shorts thrilled at how comfortable they’ve become once again. 

Tom’s big belly is gone, gone, gone.  My muffin top has all but disappeared when wearing those goofy low slung pants (I despise those low hip hugger type pants. What’s the deal there? Is it the ’60s again? When will women’s waist high jeans, pants, and shorts become available again which are so much more comfortable?).

Entrance to temple in the neighborhood.

How did we lose weight so easily is a result of our eating the following over the past almost two months in addition to our morning two cups of coffee with the whole cream:

1.  Huge plate of coconut oil stir-fried vegetables with Balinese spices.
2.  Protein sources cooked with butter or coconut oil, including fresh fish (usually blue tuna), grass-fed ground beef, prawn stir fry atop the above veggies, and chicken made in a variety of ways.  , we may have boiled eggs with dinner or bacon with bun-less burgers (tonight’s dinner).
3.  Coleslaw with homemade dressing.
4.  Rice for Tom on occasion. (He gave up the occasional treat of French fries/chips when they caused acid reflux which kept us both awake all night). He’s continued to lose weight while eating the rice a few times a week. 
5.  Natural cheeses for our nightly “cheese plate” as a dessert/treat after dinner.

That’s it. We eat nothing else. If we’re hungry during the day or feel a need for something, we have a bite of cheese or a hard-boiled egg. No more homemade low-carb baked goods, no more gobs of sour cream, no more nightly dessert for Tom other than his little plate of cheese.

Gone…32 pounds between us. We’re shocked and pleased to have learned an important lesson. As we age, regardless of how much exercise we get (we walk a lot and work out in the pool daily), it’s what we put in our mouths both in quality of food (we already had that under control) and in the amount of food we consume.  There’s no magic here.

Temples and Marlboro signs are everywhere.  Cigarettes are cheap in Bali at IDR $20,000, US $1.51 per pack.

It’s not about calorie counting which we don’t do and don’t believe is important or necessary. It’s not about eating low fat which decades-old myth is now being disproved by massive scientific studies worldwide.  

As for carb counting, even that’s not required when we eat only what’s on the above list. Nor, is it about eating tiny portions. We eat until we’re comfortably full and satisfied. The only reason we eat once a day, plus our cheese plate after dinner, is that we simply aren’t hungry. 

If all of us made one tiny change in our diet…never put a morsel of food in our mouths when we’re not hungry, rampant diabetes, obesity, and other diseases could be dramatically reduced making all of us more healthy.

The area near the beach where we stopped for photos.

For us, it was going back to that which we already knew and failed to do consistently over these past few years:

  • Eat food in its natural state; as healthfully grown and raised as possible.
  • Stop eating when full.  Eat only when hungry.
  • There’s no need for baked goods, treats, and sweets, even when they’re gluten-free, sugar free, grain-free, starch-free, and low carb.

There’s no guaranty Tom won’t indulge on the next round of cruises. Most likely he will. That’s his choice and there’s nothing I can or will say to change that. We each have to choose our own path. But, I’ve learned these valuable lessons after having the lovely two Ketuuts doing all the cooking.

And, if Tom gains back some of the weight, at least we’ll be back here in a few months for him to start over again. As for me, I’m not interested in going through this “clothes not fitting” scenario again. I’m staying firm on this path going forward.

May you chose a path to healthfulness that works well for you.

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2015:

In Trinity Beach, Australia, we noticed these White Ibis on the front lawn of a house near the fitness center. For more photos, please click here.

Working out the physical kinks from excess lounging…

Two fresh-caught tuna for last night’s and tonight’s meals. Total cost for two fish? The only US, $5.65, IDR 75,000.  We pay the actual cost for food and tip the staff at the end of our stay in appreciation for their excellent service.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

These two women were walking on the beach carry dried vines on their heads. The one in front appeared more adept at balancing while the other kept reaching up to balance the load.

It was 8 am Tuesday when I began today’s post. The two Ketuts had just arrived to clean the villa while Ribud was busy working on the pool and yard. They each wear uniforms that read, “Beach House West Bali.” They always appear fresh, bright-eyed, and ready for the day.

This morning while we languished in bed a little later than usual in air-conditioned comfort, we had Tom’s perfectly prepared coffee. I spilled mine on the bed, later apologizing to the girls for the extra work to change the sheets. They were gracious as always.

The front entrance to another villa a few doors down the narrow road.

It’s cloudy today. We don’t mind at all. If it rains we’ll head indoors until it stops. This island has the best weather we’ve had living on any tropical island in our travels. It rains for short periods once or twice a week, often overnight.

The moment the raindrops begin to fall Ribud suddenly appears to bring in all the chaise cushions, chaise covers, and beach towels. No matter how fast Tom attempts to do this small task Ribud is quicker to take over. We don’t have to do a thing.

Tom had taken an extraordinary photo of Praying Mantis on the edge of the infinity pool.  This is my rendition of his reflection in the water.

Since our arrival, I’ve been sitting too much with all this wonderful household help doing everything for us, which isn’t favorable for my delicate spine. Days ago, feeling stiff and uncomfortable I started walking around the villa for 300 steps (using my FitBit) every 30 minutes during daylight hours. 

By the end of the day, I’ve been accumulating 6000 steps according to the Fitbit in addition to any steps we accumulate when walking on the beach or in the neighborhood. Also, after spending 40 minutes working out in the pool, I’m finally beginning to feel stronger and more fit. 

We have lots of walking ahead of us on the upcoming Mekong River cruise which begins on July 8th. Considerable time will be spent cruising on the river with the rest on tours to see the sites along the way. Sitting around for two months hadn’t prepared me for this amount of walking each day.

A section of the wall consists of this bamboo décor.

Sure, my restrictive diet has been highly instrumental in reducing pain from inflammation but the reality remains…my spine is comparable to a thin reed, ready to collapse at any moment. When we’ve been active I can walk fairly long distances but recently, I’ve been concerned.

This daily lounging had left me feeling relaxed but also concerned over my ability to “keep up” with the others on this relatively active upcoming cruise. In the past several days after instituting this “must-do” walking around the villa every 30 minutes, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to keep up.

Once we arrive in Singapore we’ll be walking every day, although with the three visas we’ll need to get at the three embassies, we’ll be riding in taxis as well. The embassies are too far from our hotel to reach on foot. But, we’ll walk to restaurants for dinner and be out each day to see the sites, taking a taxi or public transportation only as needed.

Decorative wall as we walk along the road to the villas.

When we arrived in Singapore on April 30th, we met a fabulous taxi driver whose card we’ve kept. We’ll contact him soon to pick us up at the airport and continue with him as needed.

We’ll leave the villa in 13 days to spend one night in Denpasar after the four-hour harrowing drive. The next day to fly to Singapore at 2:15 pm on a relatively short 2 hour, 45 minutes flight.

The only tasks we do for ourselves here in the villa in Bali are to make coffee, refill the ice cube trays, pour iced tea throughout the day, and put together our nightly cheese plates. 

Beautifully maintained gardens line the wall along the road.

We don’t ask the staff to “wait” on us. As far as we’re concerned they do enough cleaning the villa and grounds, preparing our dinner and doing the dishes. How much easier could it be?

On July 22nd, we’ll arrive at the villa in Phuket. With only a weekly cleaner, we’ll be on our own to cook, clean, make the bed and wash dishes. Neither of us minds the prospect of taking care of ourselves again, but it certainly has been pleasurable to have others doing it for us.

We hope you have an easy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 14, 2015:

As much as we’d have liked to leave these doors open in the Trinity Beach property, the flies and mosquitos were outrageous. Over this past year, we’ve become much more tolerant of the flies to the point that we may have been able to leave doors open in past locations. However, the flies in Australia are biting flies which makes all the difference.  For more photos of the house, please click here.

Part 1, the villa’s menu options…Food around the world…

The two Kataks and Ribud (the pool and landscape guy) holding up the three kilo Blue Fin tuna for last night’s and tonight’s meal. After it was cleaned and filleted there were two huge portions which we’re sharing each night.  Such wonderful people!  Such fabulous fish!

“Bali Sightings of the Beach”

Crab trail and buffalo footprints in the sand.

Today is the first day we’ve been entirely alone in the villa. The staff hung around last Sunday to make sure we had everything we needed to settle in including a nice Sunday dinner. The fact they gave up their regular day off meant a lot to us. 

We could have easily figured out everything on our own as we often do when the owner, the manager, or other staff isn’t handy to show us “the ropes.” Somehow we always manage.

The two cleaned fillets.  Hard to imagine we could eat one of these between us, each of two nights, but after picking out bones, and the less than desirable darker flesh commonly found in fresh tuna, it was the perfect amount. Adding the fabulous vegetables and coleslaw, it makes a perfect meal. The cost of this fish was only IDR $145,000, US $10.85. There’s no cost for the cooks preparing our meals other than IDR $10,000, US $.75 daily for fuel for their motorbikes. We’ll provide tips at the end of our stay.

In a previous post, we mentioned, we wouldn’t be cooking until July 23rd when we settle into the house in Phuket, Thailand for almost six weeks. We were wrong. We’re on our own on Sundays going forward for the remaining seven weeks in Bali, this time around.

Breakfast menu, Page 1.

Actually, I don’t feel like cooking. As mentioned, the kitchen is the domain of the two Ketuts, not mine, and with the number of ants roaming around the counters, the less I prepare the better. Oh, I’m used to ants, even those crawling on me but they’re annoying when preparing food when all they want to do is crawl inside the dish I’m preparing.

As a result, yesterday I asked the two Ketuts to make the second portion of the fish and another plate of vegetables for us for tonight’s meal. Today, I’ll make a fresh batch of coleslaw which I can complete in less than 10 minutes, most of which time is spent fine slicing the cabbage. 

Breakfast menu, Page 2.

Last night, before the Ketuts left for the evening we gave them money for Monday and Tuesday’s roasted chicken and vegetable dinner. Each day before they arrive at the villa they visit the early morning markets where they purchase locally grown vegetables, meat, and fish. They bring us change or ask for more cash if they were short. Daily, they provide us with an itemized price list of items they’ve purchased.

If necessary, they stop at the tiny market for grocery items such as soaps and paper products. From what we’ve seen so far, these little markets also carry a wide array of “junk” snack foods that are purchased by tourists and locals alike. Obesity and type two diabetes are as prevalent in Bali and the mainland of Indonesia as in many other parts of the world.

The lunch menu, Page 1.

Yesterday, they visited the fish market and again picked up a huge Blue Fin tuna as shown in today’s main photo. After thoroughly cleaning and deboning it (mostly) we were left with two huge filets, enough for last night and tonight’s meal.

They’ve explained that most guests chose from the menu requesting three meals a day, each with two or three-course, all of which they prepare six days a week. With our one meal a day, they’re able to spend less time here in the villa with us, mostly cleaning in the mornings, leaving midday, and returning per our request at 4:00 pm to prepare dinner.

The lunch menu, Page 2.

We requested our dinner be ready at 5 pm each night, a little early for us.  In doing so, they can be out the door earlier to return home to their families. They clear the table after we’ve eaten, wash the dishes, bring in the chaise lounge cushions and beach towels and close the huge accordion glass doors for the evening before the rampage of mozzies begins. 

By 6:30 pm, we have the evening to ourselves. We avoid opening the exterior doors or stepping outside until after dark when the mozzies are less frenzied. There’s a nighttime security guard that sits on a chair all night a few doors from our villa, guarding the few villas along this narrow road. 

The lunch menu, Page 3.

Today, we’ve included a portion of the villa’s menu options from which we’d choose if we could eat the items listed. Tomorrow, we’ll show the dinner and dessert menus.  

Instead of choosing items on the menu, we pick and choose adaptations of the items offered, ensuring they don’t include any sugar, starches, or grains, all with minimal carbs. So far, it’s working when I’ve had no ill effects. 

The lunch menu, Page 4.

We thought it might be interesting to share Part 1 of 2 of the menu today and tomorrow for our “foodie” readers. For those of you with less interest in food, soon we’ll be back with more of “your type” of stories and photos.

The lunch menu, Page 5.

We want to thank all of our new readers we met on the most recent cruise (and past cruises, of course) for stopping by and checking us out. Our stats have indicated a huge increase in hits over the past several days. 

We’d love your input via comments at the end of each day’s post or, by email (see links to both of our email addresses on the top right side of any day’s post).

The lunch menu, Page 6.

As for our regular readers, wow! You continue to hang with us, many of who’s been with us since the beginning of 2012. Thank you for making us feel as if you’re right beside us, day after day, more friends than one could ever expect in a lifetime. The journey continues.

Happy Mother’s Day today for all the moms in this part of the world where it’s Sunday and again tomorrow for all the moms on the other side of the world where you’ll celebrate tomorrow.  May your day be as special as YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2015:

Beautiful purple flowers we encountered on a walk in Kauai. For more photos, please click here.  (Error correction from yesterday when I mistakenly posted this photo which was meant for today. A new photo for the appropriate date has been replaced on yesterday’s post. Click here to see the correction..