Day #224 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hesitating to mention, a frustrating situation…

I love this look on Tom’s face as he’s learning how to handle the python. Like an infant, the python’s head must be held up to avoid injuring it.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya during Tom’s first of two, snake-handling experiences. See the link here.

The purpose of today’s post is not to complain (well, maybe a little) as much as it is intended to alert those who may have dietary restrictions of varying types and can never be too careful. We haven’t been able to get it right after 224 days.

This African Chameleon, variety unknown, is winking her/his left eye for the photo! Neither of us hesitated to handle this non-poisonous creature. Check out the funny little mouth!

During these 224 days and nights, we’ve been ordering breakfast and dinner for that many days. They still don’t have it right! I’d also like to preface this post with this: the staff at this hotel are very kind, with the best intentions. Regardless of how frustrated we may become and how graciously or less graciously we express ourselves to them, there is a language barrier that will supersede today’s frustrated comments.

Although, I have been very clear and specific with the restaurant manager, chefs, and cook, as to what I can eat to maintain my health which is as follows:

  1. No sugar, starches, or grains
  2. No vegetable oils, no olive oil, only butter
  3. No fruit or fruit juices
  4. No rice, no beans, no lentils, no flour, no fillers, no potatoes, no bread

To further simplify this, I remind them of this:

“I can eat any animal products, fish or chicken, butter, cheese, eggs, salt, and mustard”

We were both at ease handling this harmless reptile, fascinated with its pre-historic appeal. 

Lately, I stopped eating vegetables when I was trying to figure out why my stomach hurt all the time, which continued after I left out the vegetables a few weeks ago. Also, at times, some restaurants, from what we’ve discovered in our travels, cook their vegetables in the same pot of boiling water as the pasta they cook throughout the day. I’m just not going to risk eating vegetables and will avoid them for the remainder of our time here. I am extremely gluten intolerant.

My restrictions are posted in the kitchen for all cooks and staff to clearly see. I’ve been eating this way for 11 years and no doubt, I’ve struggled with this even on cruise ships where I felt ok eating vegetables when their cooks have a better understanding of gluten intolerance and didn’t cook vegetables in the pasta water.

Chameleon on my leg. Its legs were sticky grasping at the fabric of my pants.

But, here in Mumbai, where 90% of what the Indian people consume contains starches, grains, and sugars (including fruit and juices). Delicious? Yes! Suitable for me? No!

Over the past week when I quit the vegetables, I began eating a “plain” (as requested) ground chicken patty, topped with a butter-fried egg, Emmental cheese, and bacon, It was delicious. I was thrilled with my new option to have “mixed it up” a bit from my usual grilled boneless, skinless chicken parts (I don’t like chicken breasts since they are often too dry unless cooked on the bone with the skin which I can’t get here).

This is a grass snake, non-poisonous, slithering on Tom’s arm. 

In a post on October 27, 2020 (found here), I mentioned I’d experienced an 80% improvement in the pain in my legs while walking, which I’ve had since open-heart surgery in 2019 in South Africa. Somehow, I couldn’t get past that 80% improvement when I’d greatly reduced my carb load after I stopped eating those red sauces in Indian chicken curry and Makhani dishes in September.

Tomatoes and tomato sauces can have many carbs from the natural and added sugars in the sauce. I’d been a fool to eat those but did so in sheer desperation. I’d hoped by dropping these red sauces in early September, it would help reduce the inflammation in my legs, after the two separate leg surgeries I had six weeks after cardiac bypass surgery when both of my legs became seriously infected. Good grief. What a mess I am!

This semi-poisonous snake paralyzes its prey. If they bite a human, the area of the bite will feel numb for a few hours but poses no systemic risk.  We were told to keep the head away from us while handling it. This is me holding it, as Tom took the photo. In 2018, in South Africa, we both went to snake handling school with Tom doing more handling than me.

So, by eliminating the red sauces, I started experiencing improvement in the pain in my legs up to about 80% until I started eating the chicken burger (no bun) dinner. I knew I had no problem with any of the items on the plate. I’d spoken directly to the head chef asking him the ingredients in the chicken patty, He said, “Chicken, onions, garlic, and salt.”

“Great,” I said, “I can eat those and continued to do so for the past week. Then, my legs were getting worse by the day. The past several mornings I could only walk at a snail’s pace. What was wrong? Frustrated and of course, worried, I decided to check my blood sugar using my glucometer, which I’d been told to use when I started this way of eating to determine if a particular food was causing inflammation. High blood sugar an hour or two after eating? This means that particular food I’d eaten was too high in carbs for me.

Tom wound it around his hands, keeping the mouth at a distance.

Last night after dinner my blood sugar was 40% higher than after eating a usually very low carb meal. I hadn’t checked it in several months, but this made me rethink what I’d eaten. It wasn’t the bacon, the cheese, or the egg. I’ve never had a problem with these. Also, I hadn’t had any “pasta water” vegetables.

Immediately, I called the head chef whom I’d spoken to previously, asking once again, the ingredients in the burger. He explained it had bread crumbs to hold the chicken together. I knew I tasted something in those supposed plain chicken burgers, similar to the smell and taste of a loaf of store-bought whole wheat bread. I should have known better. Had I not told them over and over again, no bread, no flour, no starch, no grains?

For a small snake, this snake has a large head.

I do not have celiac disease, but I have a huge gluten response known as gluten intolerance. In essence, an almost lifelong history of eating a very low-fat diet of products containing starch, flour, sugars, and grains contributed to my having cardiovascular disease. By the time I stopped eating gluten in 2011, the damage was done to my arteries combined with a strong genetic predisposition to heart disease, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes.

The cardiologist in South Africa explained I’d had these bad arteries for 30 or 40 years. There was nothing I could do to reverse it, but perhaps the continuation of a low-inflammation, low carb/keto diet, and lots of exercise, along with a healthy lifestyle could prevent it from getting much worse giving me a few more years of life.

At last! He’s got python handling figured out! He couldn’t have looked more pleased! 

No wonder I’ve been suffering while walking since I started eating those ground chicken patties a week ago. May I say, I was enraged? I composed myself during the phone call. Today, I sent a message to management to ensure they post my restrictions, once again, in the kitchen for all to see. After all, we’ve been here for 224 days.

Now, with the likelihood of gluten remaining in the body for weeks, if not months, I have to start all over again, hoping to get my legs to work better while walking. I will still push myself to walk 10,000 steps (5 miles, 8 km) a day. I will no longer take the risk of eating that otherwise delicious chicken patty that most likely contained an entire slice of whole wheat bread.

Close up of the python Tom handled.

In closing this post, I’d like to stress that no matter how much we request special dietary considerations in dining establishments throughout the world, one can never be assured the food they are serving is safe for us. In any case, it’s best to order food prepared as plainly as possible in restaurants and save the interesting dishes for our own safe home cooking.

Food for thought (no pun intended). Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2019:

This photo illustrates how the gangway was jammed into the ship. For details, please click here.

Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…Food photos and recipes!…

low carb keto way of eating while traveling the world
Here’s a favorite meal: bacon-wrapped, hard-boiled egg stuffed meatloaf made with grass-fed ground beef; salads with red romaine (cos), celery, carrot, and homemade salad dressing; sliced cucumber sprinkled with Himalayan salt; steamed green beans and broccolini; oven-roasted zucchini; good-for-gut-bacteria probiotic sauerkraut; and, my favorite occasional treat, low carb flaxseed and almond flour muffins topped with grass-fed organic butter. Who says “low carb” dining isn’t healthy? (The red bottle in the center of the table contains homemade ketchup we put in a  used and washed bottle). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

For many readers, today’s third of five SEO posts may be found to be controversial, again with repetition from past posts, required due to this process as Post #3 of 5 for this purpose.

If you still believe and follow a vegan diet, or the low fat, low or moderate protein, mostly plant-based, high carbohydrate way of eating, this post won’t appeal to your personal beliefs about food. That’s OK. The intent here is not to dismiss or express disdain for any way of eating that may serve you well. Nor do we intend to “convert” any of our readers to our chosen lifestyle of low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Please understand, that today’s post on the low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world has worked for me, for Tom, and for many throughout the world. Over the years we’ve received tremendous positive feedback from readers following a similar path, often requesting tips and recipes which we happily provided and posted. In no manner are we dispensing any medical or health advice. Please seek your own resources for additional information.

How one chooses to eat and to ultimately care for their health is a personal topic, one which we’re sharing here again today based on countless emails we’ve received from readers asking us to reiterate how we are in fact living a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world when so much of the world’s diet consists of high carbohydrates foods including grains, sugars, and starches.

Homemade grain-free pizza crust
Homemade grain-free pizza crust. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…

It all started in 2011 when I sought treatment from an integrative medicine doctor, a licensed, accredited physician, one who treats the entire body, rather than a part of the body causing an issue. I had been suffering from hereditary auto-immune conditions, including pre-diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperinsulinemia, and metabolic syndrome. All of these hereditary inflammatory conditions ultimately led to cardiovascular disease.

Also, these conditions, coupled with a hereditary propensity to advanced spinal stenosis (and subsequent diabetes and heart disease) resulted in constant full-body pain commensurate with my three MRIs illustrating that my skeletal frame was rapidly disintegrating.

Based on these three MRIs, the doctor expected I’d be in a wheelchair in a matter of months. At that time, I was 61 years old, living my life as a disabled person, struggling to stay active with excessive painful exercise, requiring me to retire early. Mainly, I didn’t discuss the degree of pain I was suffering, preferring to avoid eliciting sympathy from family and friends.

With pressure on my nerves throughout my body, the “crumbling vertebrae and other joints,” and other above-mentioned conditions, left me with chronic full-body pain.

baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves
One of our favorite recipes: baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves. We tripled the recipe in order to result in four meals, freezing part of it. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

This amazing doctor handed me 20-pages of literature from the renowned Cleveland Clinic as to how a low carb, ketogenic way of eating may reduce my level of pain and symptoms from the above conditions.

As it turned out, a lifetime of eating low-fat, high carbohydrate, low protein, high sugar-grain-starch diet, eventually impacted my cardiovascular system which was firmly in place long before I changed my diet in 2011. Inflammation, ultimately, was the cause. As the surgeon explained, after my triple cardiac bypass surgery in 2019, I’d had heart disease for the prior 20, 30, or 40 years and didn’t know it. By the time I changed to a low carb, keto way of eating in 2011, the damage had been done.

In 2019, the cardiologist explained that those changes I made in 2011 may well have saved my life from a fatal heart attack, as well as years of exercising, which I used as a means to avoid further deterioration of my joints and muscles.

Layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway
Layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway, ready to be wrapped in parchment paper. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

What does a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world look like?

As I read through the 20-page report from the Cleveland Clinic, I wondered how I could possibly follow such a strict way of eating. In my usual way, I sought information online from reliable sources on the controversial low carb/keto diet, which was often used for a number of chronic conditions. Much to my surprise, I found a tremendous number of reputable resources to assist me in my journey. For the sake of expediency, I won’t be listing “how to do a keto diet” here today, other than to list the following foods in general which are allowed, as opposed to those “not allowed.”

1. Animal protein (including eggs): Any form without sauces and spices containing starch, grains, and sugars
2. Vegetables: Any non-starchy vegetables primarily that grow above ground, excluding corn, beans, peas, prepared simply with butter, Himalayan salt, and some spices. No fruit of any type, which is high in sugar, other than a few berries from time to time
3. Dairy (if tolerated): In moderation: Hard cheeses, full-fat cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese. (Yogurt is generally high in sugars and whey protein containing milk sugars).
4. Spices: Mustard, fresh or dried spices without additives; homemade mayonnaise (most mayo includes toxic oils). No store-bought ketchup which is high in sugar
5. Oils: Pure, high-quality olive oil, butter, lard, tallow, bacon fat. (Vegetable oils must be avoided due to high inflammatory effects).

Goal: No more than 20 actual (not “net carbs” often calculated after deducting fiber) grams of carbohydrates per day, easily available for calculation on numerous free online apps.

Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie

One of three pans of Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie. (We couldn’t find the correct sized tin foil pans to use. Instead, we used three baking pans. But the recipe is best baked in individual serving pans since it tends to fall apart when scooping it out from larger pans). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How and when did we decide we could maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

After three months of eating this way, following the above with relative ease, one morning I awoke and the pain was gone! And I mean GONE! It was only five months later that we decided to forgo life as we knew it to travel the world. Shortly thereafter, Tom embraced this way of eating, losing 40 pounds, 18 kg, while totally recovering from irritable bowel syndrome and restless leg syndrome. In six months he was totally off seven pills a day! But, we wondered, was it conceivable to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

Highly motivated, with the pain still gone for me and weight and illnesses gone for Tom, we were on our way on October 31, 2012, soon to be our eight-year anniversary since we began our journey. Hovering in our minds was the upcoming three months in Italy only 11 months later, the endless restaurant visits, the foods popular in various countries in Europe, the tempting desserts, bread, and flour-laden dishes on cruise ships. How would we do it?

It required a huge commitment from me, more than Tom, who seemed to be able to occasionally vary from our low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world without any major consequences. For me, I was terrified that if I so much as took a bite of a dessert, a flour-thickened sauce, pasta, or bread, I’d immediately revert to my former pain-ridden condition. I avoided anything that didn’t fall within the above parameters.

mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
For three night’s we had mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. There’s also one ball inside each meatball along with one on each top. On the side, steamed veggies and salad. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Was it easy to shop for and maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

In time, we developed a sensible routine for shopping for our home-cooked meals. Comparable to most home cooks, we created a list in our minds of favorite dishes, shopping for ingredients accordingly. Every country, without exception, sells some form of animal protein such as fish, shellfish, chicken, beef, and pork. (Although, here in India no beef or pork is served, other than bacon).

Every country sells eggs, most often free-range, butter, and non-starchy vegetables. We were always able to purchase quality imported hard cheeses, and other low carb cheeses, although at times, they were expensive. We budgeted accordingly, I suppose the most difficult situation has been in India, where we’re longing for a bun-less burger, a juicy steak, or pork chops, none of which are available due to Hindu religious beliefs. As a result, we continue to eat chicken and on occasion salmon (for me), which is expensive for a tiny portion.

Shopping for groceries was most difficult in Belize where the grocery store offered only frozen, often freezer-burned meats, and again in Fiji, where a wonderful meat market provided many wonderful cuts of meat of all types, but the grocery store with only two aisles had few items we used for preparing our meals including vegetables and spices. Somehow, we always figured it out, never having to sacrifice our chosen low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl
Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Recipes for maintaining a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world…

Like many of our readers, we all have a “favorite” recipes list, often a top 10. Years ago, I wrote a post about our favorite top ten LOW CARB recipes which include:

1. Bread-less submarine sandwiches – See the link here for the details and photos.
2. Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf – See the link here for details and photos.
3. Chicken Stuffed Almond Flour Loaves – See the link here for details and photos.
4. Chicken Pot Pies – See the here for details and photos.
5. Meatballs stuffed with Mozzarella with Mushrooms & Sugar-free Marinara – See this link here for details and photos.
6. Pizza – See this link here for the crust to which you add your favorite low carb, sugar-free topping.
7. Taco salad with low carb bowl – See this link here for the bowl to which you add your favorite low carb ingredients
8. Gluten-free hamburgers with low carb buns – See here for our low carb bun recipe to which you add your favorite burgers and vegetables
9. Sunday Roast – See here for our low carb Sunday roast, so popular in the UK, here.
10. Coconut or Almond Flour Battered Fish or Chicken – See here for either option.

8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion
These homemade hamburger buns are huge enough to hold a 6 to the 8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion or other items added. They’re delicious! Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world, especially while in lockdown in India during the past six months…

It’s been difficult these past many months in lockdown in India with room service providing all of our meals. We’ve always preferred to eat only two meals per day. On occasion, for health reasons, we’ve chosen intermittent fasting, which is easier for us when we’re living in a holiday home and may need the break the fast with the food we have on-hand. Here, we have nothing available if we felt a “need” to eat something appropriate for breaking the fast.

Indian food, although delicious to me, is not a favorite of Tom’s. And, Indian food is packed with starch, sugar, fruit, and grains, none of which are suitable for my way of eating. At one point, early on, I considered throwing caution to the wind and just dine on the delicious Indian foods.

However, after seeing how I had difficulty walking after eating only their rich red sauces (all without gluten), for several months, I now realize I wouldn’t have been able to do all the walking I’ve done so far, never missing a day, solely with the intent in benefitting my heart health. If the pain made it impossible to walk, I’d only have been damaging my health further. I’ve literally forced myself to walk the past few months.

organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots
Our Sunday roast: organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots. I cut the roast open during the last 30 minutes to ensure it was cooked properly. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Now, back to my strict keto diet, forgoing all those carb-laden sauces, eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, I’m finding the walking easier each day. The philosophy of deducting the fiber grams from the total number of grams of carbohydrates has been proven to be a fallacy. I count only the full carb content of carbohydrates and now, I’m gradually improving, more each day.

Hopefully, by the time we leave India, I will be back to fitness and health, in every way.

How you can achieve a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world or when living life anywhere in the world…

At first, when I decided to write on this topic, I considered adding links to the doctors, researchers, and scientists who’ve done extensive research on this way of eating. After thinking about it, I decided with the vast information available online, each of us needs to do our own research to bring us to a point of realization that the low fat, high carb, low protein, highly-processed grains, sugars, and starches may not be for us. One need only looks at the poor health of the citizens of the world and in the US, from following this modality for the past four decades.

dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad
A favorite dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad on the side was a perfect meal we both enjoyed. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

There are countless highly reputable resources online you may choose to investigate. It took me years of research to find my way in this life-changing way of eating. If you have difficulty researching, feel free to contact me at the end of any post, in the comments section and I will add some links for all of our readers to see.

Thank you for letting me share this story, once again as we each decide which path works best in extending our lives, the quality of our lives, and the ultimate guilt-free enjoyment of many outstanding foods and meals at home and throughout the world.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2019:

tomatoes
Renata, our host,  suggested we pick all the tomatoes and other vegetables we wanted, remaining in the greenhouse For more photos, please click here.

Visiting my sister in North Las Vegas…A meaningful and yet sorrowful experience…

The extreme heat creates a cloudy appearance in the desert, fog, blowing sand,  clouds, and/or smog in the valley.

Visiting my sister Susan (four years my senior) was one of our two reasons for coming to Las Vegas during this time in the US, spending time with my son Richard as the other. We have a few friends and a nephew of Tom’s we’ll also see while here.

My dear sister has been lying in bed, unable to walk for the past 12 years, suffering from the same spinal condition I have for which I have no pain after changing my diet in August 2011, almost six years ago.

Once I became pain-free (after three months on the “diet”), and Tom faced retirement, we decided to travel the world “while we can.” At any given time, I could awaken one morning and be faced with the return of the excruciating pain affecting what felt like every nerve in my body. 

We hope to dine at this restaurant when they have several options that work well for my way of eating, based on their menu found online.

That is the reason I so diligently follow this low inflammation diet excluding all sugar, fruit, grains, and starches, limiting my daily carb allotment to 15 grams, fat to 100 grams, and protein to around 65 grams. 

These restrictions leave me eating only grass-fed meat (when available), organic free-range chicken and eggs, organic non-starchy vegetables, and a small amount of full-fat dairy. 

Tom follows suit with me in this manner of eating when I’m cooking most of our meals, as we’re doing now during this three-week stay in Nevada. When we dine out, he prefers to indulge in some starches to supplement his meals, such as a bun on a burger, fries, and rice included with some dishes. 

In years past, when we visited Henderson, we dined at this popular restaurant and meeting spot, Elephant Bar.

I don’t have the liberty even to take a bite of such “luxuries,” and because I’m pain-free, I have no desire to taste any items not included in my plan. I haven’t had so much as a tiny bite of a cookie, cake, or fruit in these past six years. Why take the risk? 

Unfortunately, my sister has chosen to continue to find pleasure in food and, in reality, cannot prepare the sometimes more elaborate dishes that may require time standing in the kitchen chopping and dicing to put together an occasional interesting dish. She has health care helpers preparing her meals, not professional cooks, and they prepare only basic meals.
 
I understand how food can be such an important aspect of one’s life. As a long-time “foodie,” I may appreciate that fact all the more. As a former avid and enthusiastic cook with an attitude (at the time), “healthy whole grains,” fruits, and starches were good to incorporate into one’s meals.

Years ago, we frequented this popular chain restaurant.  But, with many choices of local establishments, we doubt we’ll return during this visit.

These days, I cringe over how I continued to literally “poison” myself with foods that ultimately caused a rise in blood sugar resulting in an inflammatory response.

This may not be true for everyone. Our bodies are unique in our response to a variety of foods. We see healthy individuals able to eat whatever they want, or a diet comparable to that in my “old life” who continue to thrive on a lower fat, high carb, and high sugar diet. 

There’s no benefit in my “preaching” to my sister on how she may be able to find substantial pain relief over the long haul in following this way of eating. She already knows, having tried it for a year to find her pain too, dissipated considerably, if not entirely. 

A stone marker designating the entrance to the Green Valley Ranch area in Henderson, where we’re located at this time.

Yet, with severe damage to her legs and feet from diabetic neuropathy, she was still unable to walk. This fact would hardly motivate a person to restrict their diet to such a huge extent. A short time later, she returned to the typical American diet (SAD, standard American diet) of high carbs and many sugary foods, starches, and grains. In no time at all, the pain returned. 

Of course, it’s difficult for me to see this lovely woman, a former highly successful businesswoman of the world, who traveled extensively and played a hand in many exciting business transactions, now lying in bed, basically helpless and in pain.

Her beautiful spirit and upbeat demeanor make being with her purely delightful. Few individuals could maintain such a positive attitude with her current situation. Somehow, she revels in the experiences of her long-ago past and seems to live vicariously through the joy and excitement of our world travels. 

One of the roads in The District in Green Valley Ranch where there are unique shops and restaurants.

There’s not one iota of sadness or jealousy in her demeanor when she asks many questions about our world travels. Having owned a major travel agency in her past, she too had an opportunity to travel the world and loves sharing stories of places we’ve mutually visited, only at different times.

On Monday, I visited her for three hours and will head out soon to see her again. The drive to her home is over 30 miles away and takes approximately 45 minutes, considering some traffic on the freeway. 

Driving all the way on Highway 215 seems to be the best route but is a boring drive through the barren desert with not much in the way of interesting scenery. But, once I walk in the door to her apartment and see her smiling face, the boring drive is long forgotten, and all is right with the world.

May your day be filled with events that make your day feel “right” for YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2016:

It was scorching and uncomfortable on the long walk to and around this site, The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Easter and Passover for those who celebrate…We’re having guests for Easter dinner!…One week and counting…

Surfers took advantage of the excellent surf.
A long time ago, we decided that making a fuss over holidays wouldn’t make sense while living this nomadic lifestyle. This caused a particular meaning when many holidays revolve around food, which doesn’t fit our eating habits, especially during Easter.

As a result, there are no more long days spent baking and cooking in the kitchen. We no longer decorate the house, make Easter baskets, decorate and hide Easter eggs or take the time to bake and decorate our former annual bunny rabbit cake. All of that seems like a lifetime ago.

Sunbathers and swimmers are enjoying a sunny day at Manly Beach.

Oddly, we don’t miss any of the work associated with holidays, but of course, we miss the interaction with family, the playfulness, and the laughter. Soon, we’ll be in the midst of all of that!

A day at the beach for school kids.

Over these years of world travel, I’ve lost interest in cooking other than coming up with tasty recipes Tom and I can enjoy in our daily lives. Even so, I usually only cook two or three times a week when typically I’ll purchase enough of any item to last for three dinners, cooking a fresh batch each day. It works for us.

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. See details here for this wildlife-protected area known for snorkeling and hiking.

Besides, most of our meals are appealing enough that we quickly look forward to repeats. However, we also have to consider that most holiday homes have tiny refrigerators and freezers, leaving us with little space for storing much food or for freezing leftovers. 

With no rental cars in some locations, such as here in Fairlight, for 40 nights, we’ve attempted to avoid returning to the market any more often than necessary. Also, we’ve found that cooking for three days saves money in the long run.

The sun on the sea created a crystal-like appearance.

Groceries costs are not as low in Australia as in many other parts of the world but, they’re certainly less than we spent in the US five years ago. So it will be exciting and perhaps be shocking when we see food prices when we soon return to the US.

The sea is blue in this part of Australia. However, when we lived in Trinity Beach in 2015, near Cairns (pronounced “cans”), the sea was brown and murky in most areas.

Tom and I realized that we wouldn’t be cooking from April 22nd when we board the cruise to North America until sometime in July when we arrive in Nevada, where we’ll stay at son Richard‘s home in Henderson. 

Staying with Richard for three weeks, I may cook a few meals each week since, at that point, it will have been months since I’d done any cooking. During the six weeks in Minnesota, while staying in a hotel, we won’t have cooked at all with the complimentary breakfast in the hotel and dinners out with family and friends.

Tall trees, many evergreens line the boulevard along the beach, providing plenty of shady areas for those who prefer to stay out of the sun.

On the nights when we don’t have dinner plans in Minnesota, most likely, we’ll head to Costco, which we hear carries a wide variety of low-carb, precooked meals we’ll bring back to our hotel suite. Once we arrive, we’ll see if the hotel can provide us with a small microwave during our extended stay.

As for tomorrow, which is Easter Sunday, we’ve invited landlord/friend Bob and his long-time friend, Eddie. So we’re making a low carb, grain, and sugar-free meal. Tomorrow, we’ll take a few photos and post them the following day. 

The rocky shoreline in this area on our way to Shelly Beach.

We send love and best wishes for the health and well-being of all of our family, friends, and readers (whether you celebrate this holiday or not) during this time and always.  

Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2016:

As we wound down our time in New Zealand, we posted our favorite photos, including me with Miss Jessica. I was flattered that Trish and Neil named this sweet girl after Tom, and I attended her birth while they were on holiday. Please click here for more favorite NZ photos and the final expenses for the three-month stay on the alpaca farm.

Our version of a “Happy meal”…Tightening our belts…Visit to a winery…

Here’s yesterday’s meal: bacon-wrapped, hard-boiled egg stuffed meatloaf made with grass-fed meat; salads with red romaine (cos), celery, carrot, and homemade salad dressing; sliced cucumber sprinkled with Himalayan salt; steamed green beans and broccolini;  oven-roasted zucchini; good-for-gut-bacteria probiotic sauerkraut; and my favorite low carb flaxseed and almond flour muffins topped with grass-fed organic butter. So who says “low carb” dining isn’t healthy?  (The red bottle in the center of the table contains homemade low-carb ketchup).

With a tremendous financial outlay upcoming over these next 12 months, we’ve had to carefully pick and choose as to how we spend our allocated budgetary allowances.

Subsequently, we’d decided to dine out on rare occasions while in both Penguin and the Huon Valley. After all, we’ll be on another cruise in 19 days which consists of “dining out” three times a day (if one so chooses) with generally great meals, all of which are specially prepared for my specific diet.

Our kindly landlords have encourages us to visit the garden anytime we’d like to pick the organic produce. What a treat this has been!

Tom has no trouble finding items he particularly enjoys even with his trimmed back agenda, preferring not to gain the former 4.5 kg, 10 pounds on each cruise. Instead, he’s entirely cut out toast and cereal at breakfast, bread with dinner and a multitude of sweet treats.

Instead of spending a fortune on dining out while in Tasmania, we’d chosen to take advantage of fabulous, readily available grass fed meat, organic vegetables, free range chicken and eggs and fresh caught fish for our home cooked meals.

Sliced cucumber, broccolini and green beans fresh from the garden added so much to our meal as shown below.

This upcoming Friday, February 17th, we are dining out, heading to Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider restaurant for dinner and the live entertainment (available only on Friday nights) to celebrate a combination of Valentine’s Day and my birthday.

Since the onset of our travels, we’ve celebrated each occasion separately dining at two distinct locations. However, this year, with our attempt at cutting back, we’ll only celebrate dining in one restaurant, having chosen Willie Smith’s after a recent visit. Please click here if you missed our story and photos.

What was I thinking when I took this lopsided photo of our hard boiled egg stuffed, bacon wrapped low carb meatloaf (made with grass fed beef)? 

After the upcoming dinner at Willie Smith’s, we’ll be sharing food photos, the menu options and pricing for our evening out. So please check back on Saturday, February 18th (the 17th for those on the opposite side of the International Dateline).

Had we not been cutting back to this degree (my idea, not Tom’s.  I’m the budget police) with the upcoming final payment due in November for the pricey Antarctic cruise (see the cost and details of this outrageously expensive expedition at this link), we may have chosen to dine out more frequently.

By-the-bottle, wine to go menu.

When we booked this cruise there was no doubt it would crimp our budget but we were willing to stretch ourselves for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s one of those special events we decided to accomplish while we were still young enough to partake of all of the activities off the ship on the Zodiac boats.

Wine barrel display.

Adding the higher than usual cost of the 24 day cruise beginning on April 22nd from Sydney to Seattle, followed by the equally pricey cruise to Alaska on May 17th when we first arrive in North America before heading to Minnesota to see family, we stretching our budget to the limit. 

Adding the fact that we’ll be living in a hotel for six weeks in Minnesota, dining out for all meals, we expect a much higher monthly expenditure than our usual cost of living in vacation home in various parts of the world.

Locally made dinnerware and glassware.

Its easy to understand why we’d have to pick and choose where we spend our money in the interim. Dining out, for us, just isn’t that much of a treat especially considering my special diet. While cruising, the dining becomes more significant for the socializing at meal times than the food.

Many alpaca wool items are for sale at the winery’s gift shop.

When we visited the Home Hill Winery and discovered their upcoming special event as shown on their website, it was tempting to participate. However, spending at least AU 200, US $154 for the meal for two held little interest for us especially when we’ll have dined out the previous evening at Willie Smith’s as mentioned above.

Instead, we wandered through the winery taking photos at our leisure, reveling in the pretty scenery and their herd of alpacas, generally having our usual pleasant experience.

Diners can watch the chefs at work from the shown rear wall.

As an award winning winery, they produce wines offered at many Tasmanian and Australian establishments. Here a comment about their wine production from their website:

Dining outdoors on a sunny day is appealing at the lovely home Hill winery.

“The vineyard was planted out in 1992 with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sylvaner grapes. The grey loam, high-clay soil and reliable rainfall provide excellent growing conditions for these varieties.

The Huon Valley sits on the same degree of latitude as Bordeaux in France (albeit forty-three degrees south of the equator rather than not. As a result, these regions share a similar climate, with winters featuring fog, frost, snow, and an abundance of spring rain. This allows for the slow ripening of fruit during warm months and the perfect conditions for excellent climate wine to be produced.”

Indoor dining area at Home Hill Winery in Ranalagh, Tasmania.

Of course, a highlight of our visit was the opportunity for us to see their alpacas. They offer a wide selection of products made with the fleece of these beloved animals. 

There’s an option to dine outdoors away from other diners.

The alpacas didn’t approach us as readily as when in New Zealand, most likely due to unfamiliarity of a constant flow of visitors. We easily recall how shy and hesitant the NZ alpacas were when we first arrived.

It was ironic to be up close with alpacas when it was a year ago we were living among them in New Zealand, an experience we’ll always treasure.

When all is said and done, we’re happy with our decisions for future travels and don’t ever feel we’re sacrificing quality of life. On the contrary, even on quiet days like today (Sunday), we find ourselves embracing every moment as a special gift.

May your day quiet day be special as well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 12, 2016:

One year ago we responded to a request from readers as to our favorite places to visit thus far in our world travels. We posted this photo of the Treasury in Petra, Jordan after a very long, hot walk. Click here for one of two posts. This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the walk, more from sheer joy! For that post with more favorite location’s photos, please click here.

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.

Sorry for late posting!…Too much fun!…Update on posting while cruising…Cruise itinerary…Making new friends aboard the ship…

Please excuse the blurry photos. I’d accidentally changed the setting on the camera effecting the quality of some of the photos. Also, with the weak wifi signal on the ship, our formatting and line spaces may be inaccurate.

Tom’s miniature lemon meringue pie for dessert at last night’s dinner.
For details for this cruise itinerary and details regarding the ship’s amenities, please click this link.

Over the next number of days while cruising our daily posts will be arriving a few hours later than usual, although we’ll continue to post every 24 hours or so. Once we arrive in Australia on June 11th and get settled, future posts will be available every 24 hours.

My breakfast this morning.

With the upcoming crossing of the International Dateline, we’ll be losing a day having experienced multiple time zone changes. We’ll cover more of that later as the time zone changes.

Last night, Tom at the bar, enjoying his unlimited cocktails, wearing his white dress shirt for dress-up night. 

The reason we’ll be running late in posting is a result of our having too much fun! What can I say? These 1400 Aussies and 200 Americans on board are the most fun group of people we’ve ever encountered on a cruise. 

They’re everywhere, ready for sharing a good story and having a good laugh. How did a nation of people have friendliness and good humor in common? Maybe we’ll figure it out over the next few years.

I ordered a small salmon plate and received this extra-large salmon plate. 

We’ve discovered that we have a lot of language nuances to learn and are making an effort to pick up everything we can in the hopes of “fitting in” into the Aussie homeland.

My view while working out on the elliptical machine.

In an effort to avoid germs and have better service, for organizing my breakfasts, which I do have when cruising, it’s easier to order my specific meals from the helpful dining concierge, Cecelia, who’s in charge of all the passengers with special diets who dine in the main dining room. She’s got mine figured out. There’s no such a service in the Windjammer Café, the buffet-style venue.

Although the Windjammer has a specific “gluten-free” buffet area, it has a few items that work for me when many are high carb gluten-free baked goods and sugary items none of which work for me. Last night at dinner, I ordered my breakfast and tonight’s dinner in advance, giving the chef ample time to make the items suitable.

More equipment in the fitness center.

This morning we had breakfast in the main dining room. Thus, in the future will avoid the Windjammer buffet entirely. Tom was able to order what he wanted both in choices and portions and my choices worked out perfectly.

The theatre where seminars and shows are performed.

However, while dining at a “shared table” which we always do, it’s impossible not to become friendly with our table mates. The lengthy delay in posting today and most likely on most days going forward as we continue on the cruise. 

We’re out to sea with no land in sight in any direction. An announcement was made that there will no access to satellite TV for the next several days from the ship will be too far out of range. We don’t watch TV anyway while cruising. We stay out every night until we’re ready for bed, exhausted from loads of fun. 

Cruise ships often have peculiar décor.

During the day we only go to the cabin to change clothes, put away our laptops or grab an item we may need.  Today’s a busy day. As I write this now, it’s 1:30 pm. At 2:00, Tom will head to a history seminar while I visit the fitness center the second day in a row.

Having lost a degree of fitness in Kauai after being sick for a few weeks, I’m finding that working out is helping me restore my former self. Over the next few weeks I’ll continue to improve and then, when we arrive in Trinity Beach I’ll join a nearby health club for the three month stint which I’ve already contacted for rates.    

Cha cha lessons in the centrum.

Today, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm Tom will attend a men’s group called “The Shed,” an Australian tradition where guys get together and shoot the breeze over cocktails. This morning Tom explained that in Minnesota, its comparable to “Garage Logic” (his favorite radio show, which he still listens to each day when we’re on land).  I’m thrilled that he gets to do this and tomorrow he’ll fill in the details in the post.

While he’s in “The Shed” I’ll sit by the pool and read a book on my phone. Wow! This is the life! No wonder we love cruising.

It was fun to watch the dancers carry on.

When we meet back at the cabin at 5:15, I’ll be showered and dressed for dinner and Tom will do the same. Shortly afterward, we’ll head to the bar for happy hour and later in the main dining room for more lively banter and fun. We haven’t yet been to an evening show. 

We seldom find the arranged activities and shows quite our cup of tea instead, preferring to meet up with our new friends for happy hour, breakfast or dinner. 

This towel character, an elephant, was sitting on our bed last night when we returned for bed.

One more item regarding posting while on the ship: we will only be able to post eight to ten photos each day. Although we have an unlimited data wifi package, photos take too long to post, often almost two hours for more than a dozen photos. With fewer photos, we can upload the post in a more timely fashion, albeit a little later each day while cruising.

Have a terrific Tuesday! See you again soon!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2014:

The ocean view from our house in Madeira where we lived for two and a half months, having a fabulous experience. For more details, please click here.

Its all in the details…

Our crab cracking and dining tools 

As a person entrenched in the details, it’s not unusual to me that I have six tools one could use to crack crab legs: two types of crackers, two types of crab scissors, a pick and a small fork, service for eight. It’s not coincidental that I have service for eight.  Who would want to “shell out” (couldn’t resist) enough crab legs for more than eight people? 

This came to mind yesterday when I recklessly spent $48 for two bags of king crab legs plus $28 for the accompanying grass fed New York strip steaks.  

This is for three of us for Sunday night’s dinner; Tom and I and our friend Sue, who comes for dinner every Sunday night since the passing of her dear husband and our beloved friend Chip. She’s a trooper. Our hearts break for her. They were our role models as a happy, retired couple. Now, we are witnessing the depth of the loss of a beloved partner, excruciatingly sorrowful, a double whammy.

We laugh, we cry and we tell endless stories of our 26 years here on the point. (You can read about Chip in my post on June 1, 2012 found here in the archives).  We three deserve steak and crab.  

The combined cost of the meat at $76, plus the veggies and the salad, it may prove to be a $90 dinner at $30 each. We seldom eat in a restaurant.  However, each of the past two Saturday nights we did, first at Osaka in Coon Rapids with daughter and family and then at Biella In Excelsior with son and his wife.  

Dining in those restaurants, the average cost per person was in the $40 range. This justifies my $30 per person cost dining at home on this special night. After all, this is one of five remaining Sunday nights we have left before we leave for our world wide adventure.

Around the 15th of October, the processing of the estate sale begins leaving us no longer able to cook while everything in the cabinets and drawers; the dishes, the silverware, my gadgets and the pots and pans will be marked for sale. Ouch. My gadgets. Bye, bye, gadgets.

So today, while Tom is off to our oldest grandson’s football game, I’ll stay behind and begin the process of going through my many cookbooks.   

Most of my favorite recipes have been scanned, leaving hundreds we’ll never enjoy again due to our low carb, gluten free, grain free, starch free and sugar free diet.  

This diet gave us back our health, evident in the amazing blood test results we each received this past Thursday after Monday’s final doctor appointment.  Best results ever.  Everything perfect. The diet worked.  We’ll never fail to remember that we wouldn’t be able to travel the world for the next number of years if we hadn’t greatly improved our health by eating in this restricted manner. A small sacrifice in the realm of things.  

However, king crab and steak is no sacrifice, allowable for our way of eating. Besides, I can’t wait to set the table one last time with those six crab utensils before some crazy detail orientated fool such as I, buys all eight sets for a ridiculously low price. 

Hum, could I fit two sets of crab tools inside a shoe in one of the six orange suitcases?  Or perhaps, four sets in case we have company.

Abundant trade offs…

As a logical, numbers crunching individual, I learned a long time ago, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  

The literal translation of this phrase may be construed as:

When enjoying lunch with a friend, who enthusiastically states, “I’m buying,” most often a thought ran through my mind of “Wow, free lunch! One less meal I have to buy.”  Nope, it’s not free.

The trade off?  Next time, I’ll buy lunch or, next time when the friend calls at 10 PM for emotional support, I’ll listen. Or next time the friend needs a ride when their car breaks down, I’m all over it. No, there’s no free lunch.

Remove any resentment or sense of obligation from the mix and we have a cooperative sharing relationship, friendship, a human condition entrenched in trade-offs.  No doubt, we relish in the opportunity to be a part of this magical experience, not only in friendship but in all relationships.

Within our hearts, the “unconditional love” we profess, for our children and grandchildren, we seek pleasure, pride, laughter and return of love. No, we don’t abandon them when unfulfilled, but we grievously hunger for reciprocation continually trying to inch closer.

No free lunch, this life.  No free lunch, traveling the world. Sacrifices? Yes, many.  Beside the obvious of leaving those we love, leaving the familiarity of the home we have treasured for 26 years and leaving the security blanket of predictable, but not mundane life as we’ve known it, we leave behind our most valued “creature comforts.”
What are they?  Will we find alternatives to replace them or will our interest in them entirely dissipate over time?  They include:

Our bed: A California King Sleep Number with split top mattresses with dual controls, with the ability to raise and lower the head and the foot for maximum comfort.  After many years of suffering with advanced degenerative disk disease, this bed has been a life saver not only for me but also for Tom.

My pillow:  A Tempur-Pedic neck pillow that has been highly instrumental in improving my sleep. Unable to imagine life without this pillow, Tom and I used a SpaceBag and our cute little vacuum with the hope and expectation that we could shrink the pillow sufficiently enough to pack it to travel around the world with us. It’s much smaller after sucking out the air, although heavy as a rock. Maybe, maybe not.
My Tempur-Pedic neck pillow before deflation
My Tempur-Pedic neck pillow after deflation
Our two comfy chairs:  Whether a sofa, a love seat or a chair, we all have a favorite place to park our butts at the end of a task filled day.  With our two comfy Flexsteel chairs, positioned perfectly in front of the big screen TV, we have spent endless hours together entertaining ourselves by laughing, talking, watching our favorite shows (many ridiculous) and lounging.  We never sleep in these chairs.  We each have the habit of awakening one another if we spot the other’s eyes begin to close.  Why we do this?  I don’t know.
Our TVs:  Whether cooking or eating in the kitchen, the TV is on in the background, although we’re seldom fully engaged in a show. In the evenings after dinner, we head to the family room to the above mentioned chairs, laptops whirring on our laps as we begin our nightly ritual of talking, laughing, commenting, sharing a funny email and simply having a great time.

Our dessert:  Ah, a year ago, when we both decided to go gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free and low carb, I quit baking the elaborate desserts we used to enjoy each night after dinner. Tom got fatter and I exercised harder. Here are a few of our former desserts, now replaced with healthier low carb, gluten free, sugar free items:
Elaborate dessert: Homemade Ice Cream Cake, perfect for a hot summer night. Bye, bye, cake!
Elaborate dessert: Homemade Puff Pastry Napolean!  No more!
Elaborate dessert: Homemade Butterscotch Meringue Pie (I used 12 eggs whites)!  Never again!
New dessert:  Unsweetened Greek Yogurt topped with GF, SF, low carb chocolate sauce, unsweetened organic shredded coconut and bits of low carb chocolate coconut protein bar. Not bad at all! (Tom won’t try this).
Our ice machine: Eight years ago when we renovated our kitchen we added a SubZero ice machine.  It was easy to adopt the habit of first loading our  insulated, handled mugs with ice to the brim and then pouring in our favorite iced tea, Crystal Light (using two packets to 1/2 gallon of purified water, as opposed to one packet). Our four little ice cube trays, now filled with jewelry, yet to be packed, will make enough ice to last most of a day.

Creature comforts will now be replaced with creatures, big and small. Comfortable beds, comfy furniture and my pillow traded for lumpy discomfort? Maybe. TV replaced with reading downloaded books, playing games, sitting outside at night staring at the stars, listening to the sound of the ocean, the roar of a lion, the laughter in the streets.  Desserts may impossible to make with limited availability of ingredients and icy drinks may be a thing of the past. 

Trade-offs? Yes, many. As Tom always says after we’ve rearranged the furniture, “Give me some time.  I’ll get used to it.”

Is a good memory needed for travel?…How I improved my memory after it started to decline…

Peculiarly, my memory is better now than when it was when I was 20 years old (so I think).  When I turned 50, while working at a stressful job, my memory started deteriorating rapidly. I expected to be a mindless blob at 60, let alone, my now almost 65.  

I’d find myself wandering around a room, wondering why I was there, forgetting my keys (don’t we all?). On occasion, I’d get into a stranger’s unlocked car in a parking lot that
happened to be the same color and model as mine. That scared me. Remember names? Forget about it! Impossible, at that time.

About 10 years ago, I started working out after a five year hiatus during the stressful job.  The more I worked out, the more I noticed that my memory was gradually improving over time.  
Changing to a low inflammation diet and upgrading my exercise routine over the past year as I wrote in a post two weeks ago, gradually enhanced and thus, creating a leap in my memory. Plus, spending seemingly endless hours researching for our adventure, pushed my memory to a whole new level.
To sum up what worked for me:
3. “Exercising my brain” via hours of research, learning new information, decision making.
4.  Being passionate about any topic of interest which fires up brain cells.
Many studies suggest stress relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, and Pilate’s may be instrumental in improving one’s memory.  For me, learning new information is fuel for my soul, providing great stress relief and enjoyment. Thus, my memory improved.

Through this lengthy and time consuming process of planning to travel the world for years to come, I discovered that good memory was a benefit of good record keeping.  

Documenting our travel plans in a methodical order on an series of Excel spreadsheets within a single workbook was highly instrumental in building a foundation for our itinerary.  Keeping detailed records of our itinerary, deposits paid, balances due, a to do list, an estimate of eventual “actual” travel and living expenses, cruises, flights and other means of travel is a constant point of reference leading to building my memory.  

Subsequently, referring to this Excel workbook, without even trying, somehow I’ve memorized every detail.  Much to my surprise.  Its seems to me that, “the more I remember, the more I remember.”  This is a far cry from where I was over ten years ago.
Dementia is a common and expected fact of aging.  We see it in our family members, friends and acquaintances.  We witness lapses of memory in our loved ones, dismissing it, in part for fear of embarrassing them and also, for our own vulnerability. 

Perhaps, we may be able to prevent our own memory loss by being physically active, eating healthfully and living a proactive life. If we stay engaged, busy, passionate about our lives, purposefully and frequently memorizing tidbits of information while entering into lively animated conversations (easy to do in this heated political environment), we can retain and actually improve our memory. 

If we read to learn, not only to entertain and listen to others with undivided attention, maybe, just maybe, we will remember, not only what happened 40 years ago and also last year and… most of all, minutes and hours ago.

After all, every step of our lives is but a memory only minutes later.  Drawing upon those memories is the essence of life’s richness to share with those we love, to gather into our hearts in times of sorrow and to take with us into our old age.
As I close for today, it would be typical for one to make a joke, a play on words on memory loss. I won’t. I can’t think of any!