Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 5: Cookbooks

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

To read the fourth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I talked about that in the fourth post of this series.


I’ve acquired many recipes over the years from multiple cooks and books, but in this post I will share the cookbooks that I have used the most in my health quest or anticipate using more in years to come. All but one of the books—which wasn’t designed to be a “diet” book—aim to provide lighter alternatives to common American foods. The techniques and ingredients they use to meet that goal, however, are often very different. I’ll confess that I dislike non-fat dairy foods and salad dressings and don’t use them, even when the recipe calls for them, which changes the nutritional statistics of many recipes for me. I do use reduced-fat items.

The first on the list is a companion book to the eating program designed by Dana Thornock, which I introduced in the second post of this series. As such, it provides low-fat recipes that emphasize fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, with small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Most of the recipes don’t contain much added sugar either, and when they do, many contain instructions for substituting fruit juice concentrates for the sugar. None of these recipes call for low-calorie sweeteners or items that contain them. They often use canned foods and other convenience items, and for that reason, most of them are simple and easy to make.

Dana's Cookbook

Dana’s Cookbook

Dana’s Cookbook, by Dana Thornock © 1995

“Your complete guide to healthy eating . . . even on a very busy schedule.”

As you gradually begin to increase your high-quality food calories and decrease your junk-food calories, your energy level may markedly increase as your metabolism quickens. You may experience an increase in lean muscle tissue, fat-burning enzymes, and body hydration. You may begin to look and feel vibrant, healthy, and full of vitality. . . .

You’ll be excited to know that as you live your new Lean & Free Lifestyle, your entire body chemistry will change, including your taste buds. Many people who used to absolutely relish junk food and hate veggies, experience a gradual and complete reversal of these preferences.

The nutritional statistics listed with each recipe in this book only contain the number of calories and fat grams per serving, plus the fat percentage. For many years I used the book more for the information it contains for putting meals together and altering recipes than for the recipes themselves. I ultimately found other cookbooks that contain recipes that I and my family like better. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me. The information in this post is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. I’ll tell you a little about my experience working with a dietitian in this post. Please keep in mind, however, that the advice I have received from her has been based on my individual needs. I don’t know what particular advice she gives to her other patients, but some of the general advice she gives can be found here.


In early April 2016, I met with the dietitian for the first time, committed to follow the advice she gave to me. She urged me to continue to use the My Fitness Pal (MFP) application, but she wanted me to customize the calorie and macronutrient goals. To my surprise, she didn’t suggest I lower my caloric intake and, in fact, wanted me to stay in the 1800–2000 calorie range I was in as long as I continued to lose weight at that level. She did, however, want me to pick a calorie goal and stick with it every day, whatever exercise I did. I decided on a goal of 1900 calories, since this was the number that MFP routinely gave to me.

I’ll tell you about some of the other advice the dietitian gave to me as I list books that have supported me in incorporating that advice. These books don’t mirror the dietary structure and information I was given exactly. They do, in fact, contradict each other on some points. The thing the first three books have in common is that they all advocate restricting high-carbohydrate foods, much in the same way that The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, which I told you about in my last post, does.


The dietitian advised me to eat more protein, particularly in the morning, and to eat fewer carbohydrates than I had long been accustomed to eating. I’m not supposed to eat more than two to three servings of high-carbohydrate food (roughly 30–45 g of carbohydrate) with every meal and no more than one serving of high-carbohydrate food (roughly 15 g of carbohydrate) with each snack. This dietary structure is similar to the one suggested in a book I had already read years ago:

The Insulin-Resistance Diet

The Insulin-Resistance Diet

The Insulin-Resistance Diet, by Cheryle R. Hart, M.D. and Mary Kay Grossman, R.D. © 2001

“Discover if insulin resistance is the culprit for those extra pounds.

“Learn the easy Link-and-Balance Eating Method for losing weight permanently.

“Shed unwanted fat while enjoying the foods you love—even carbohydrates!

“Enjoy good health without fad dieting.”

Think of a balanced meal as a level seesaw. You want to make food choices that will keep the seesaw in balance every time you eat whether it’s a meal or snack. . . . Don’t let it tip to either side. (p. 35)

The eating plan described in this book contains a macronutrient ratio of 45% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 25% fat. The authors recommend eating no more than two high-carbohydrate servings of food (or roughly 30 g of carbohydrate) with every meal and snack, although unlike my dietitian, they don’t count milk and beans as high-carbohydrate foods that need to be restricted, but use them as protein foods to balance out the carbohydrates, along with meat, eggs, and cheese. I, like the authors of The Insulin-Resistance Diet, was accustomed to counting milk and beans as primary protein foods. Taking the dietitian’s advice to count them as high-carbohydrate foods instead was a difficult—but critical—adjustment for me. That alteration, combined with limiting my high-carbohydrate foods and spreading them throughout my day, forced me to resolve several of the long-standing issues that had contributed to my obesity—issues I didn’t even know existed. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series.


In the spring of 2006, less than a year after moving to an inner suburb of Washington, D.C., I bought a bicycle and, with my husband and children, began riding it on the wonderful park trails that were now easily available to us. We generally got out at least once a week when the weather was good, and I was able to build from 2–3 miles in the beginning to 15 miles within a few months. That, combined with my inconsistent adherence to the health program designed by Dana Thornock that I described in my last post, enabled me to drop another 15 pounds easily.

Katherine Padilla at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Katherine Padilla at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

The next book on my list was the first one that clued me in on the fact that what I had long been taught were “healthy” fats weren’t, perhaps, as healthy as I had believed. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series.


I didn’t discover the next book on my list until the year 2000.

Lean & Free 2000 Plus

Lean & Free 2000 Plus

Dana Thornock’s Lean & Free 2000 Plus, by Dana Thornock © 1994

“Eating well above 2000 delicious, normal calories a day, Dana dropped from 204 pounds and a size 18 to a size 4. . . . She has read virtually every reputable book, article, and program about nutrition, wellness, and weight control. . . . Unlike diets, the Lean and Free 2000 Plus program doesn’t deprive, it provides! You’ll be free to enjoy favorite foods. But most of all, you will experience a life unhampered by the worry of excess body fat or ever getting fat again.”

While you’re in a life-and-death struggle with your own body, it’s impossible to find complete contentment or joy. (p. 103)

***

In this program you will reverse everything you’ve been told about losing weight. You won’t diet your way to an unhealthy, starved body. You will eat your way to health. . . . You’ll look great, you’ll feel great, and you’ll have the abundant vigor that frees you to be of service to all around you. (p. 4)

Dana Thornock’s dietary advice—with its emphasis on complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains, and fruit—is similar to that recommended by the authors of How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat, which I told you about in my last post. Her program, however, addresses lifestyle issues in a more comprehensive way, such as motivation, goal-setting, daily meal-planning, eating out, and managing healthy eating when the family is resistant to the changes. The macronutrient ratio of her plan is 65–80% carbohydrate, 10–15% protein, and 10–20% fat. She recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 5% of total calories, although she recognizes that many people don’t have bodies that are “resistant to fat loss” and can lose weight quite well without eliminating sugar. I fell into that category at the time, so I never felt a need to restrict sugar too much, as long as I balanced my other food choices in the way she suggests.

Dana Thornock, like the authors of How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat, recommends an hour of aerobic exercise a day for fat loss, along with other exercises. During this period of my weight-loss journey, I was never able to progress past the aerobic aspect of the fitness advice. I began with walking on a level surface for 7 minutes, pushing a child in a stroller, which, at the time, was quite strenuous for me. I built it up to 45 minutes a day, several days a week. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds,  Part 1: Introduction 

Photo compliments of pixabay.com

Photo compliments of pixabay.com

At first glance, the topic of losing weight has nothing to do with Zion. In my own life, however, my decades-long quest to lose weight has paralleled and strongly influenced my quest to attain Zion, both as an individual and in my relationship to the larger community. The reason for this is simple: If I want to become holy, my spirit needs to be in control of my body, and if I want to live a life consecrated to God, I need the physical and emotional strength and stamina to live a life of service.

The actual process, however, has been complex and isn’t finished. Losing 100 pounds is an enormous milestone in this quest, and because so many people I know have asked how I did it, I’m going to deviate from my normal posting style for the next few months and share brief information about books that have significantly helped me, along with quotations from some of them that particularly struck me when I first read them and have stuck with me ever since.

None of these books promote popular commercial programs. None of them offer gimmicks or quick fixes. None of them advocate eliminating entire food groups on a permanent basis. All of them advocate eating healthy foods in balanced amounts. Some of them allow for more modern convenience foods than others. Some of these books are out of print, and some of the information in them is out of date. Instead of telling you how information in any of the books may be out of date, I’ll provide the copyright year of the book for context. Where the books most differ is in the macronutrient ratios they recommend, and for that reason, I will give those facts for every applicable book if they are available.

As I share these books, please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series. Continue reading

The Scarlet Pimpernel and Sequels

When I saw that one of my favorite LibriVox readers recorded The Scarlet Pimpernel and two of its sequels, I decided to listen to them. The Scarlet Pimpernel isn’t great literature, but it’s fun, and I’ve been in the mood for light reading.


Read by Karen Savage

Read by Karen Savage

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

“Armed with only his wits and his cunning, one man recklessly defies the French revolutionaries and rescues scores of innocent men, women, and children from the deadly guillotine. His friends and foes know him only as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the ruthless French agent Chauvelin is sworn to discover his identity and to hunt him down.”


Read by Karen Savage

Read by Karen Savage

The Elusive Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

“In this thrilling sequel, the terrorist Chauvelin devises a vile plot to eliminate the Pimpernel . . . once and for all.”


Read by Karen Savage

Read by Karen Savage

El Dorado, by Baroness Orczy

“The still-raging French Revolution continues to claim lives, and the shadow of the guillotine draws ever nearer to the young Dauphin, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. No one dares to attempt to liberate the little prince—no one, that is, but the . . . Scarlet Pimpernel.”

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, by C.S. Lewis (fantasy)

“Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary novel, to retell their story through the gaze of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Disfigured and embittered, Orual loves her younger sister to a fault and suffers deeply when she is sent away to Cupid, the God of the Mountain. Psyche is forbidden to look upon the god’s face, but is persuaded by her sister to do so; she is banished for her betrayal. Orual is left alone to grow in power but never in love, to wonder at the silence of the gods. Only at the end of her life, in visions of her lost beloved sister, will she hear an answer.”


After Psyche is banished, Orual returns to her people and determines to “go always veiled.” She does this to hide her face from her people, herself, and from the gods. She also veils herself—although it’s not clear she realizes it—to mimic what she sees as the silent and inapproachable nature of the gods. As time passes, she realizes the power that the veil gives her:

Veiled Lady

Veiled Lady

From the very first . . . as soon as my face was invisible, people began to discover all manner of beauties in my voice. At first it was “deep as a man’s, but nothing in the world less mannish;” later, and until it grew cracked with age, it was the voice of a spirit, a Siren, Orpheus, what you will. And as years passed and there were fewer in the city (and none beyond it) who remembered my face, the wildest stories got about as to what that veil hid. No one believed it was anything so common as the face of an ugly woman. Some said (nearly all the younger women said) that it was frightful beyond endurance; a pig’s, bear’s, cat’s or elephant’s face. The best story was that I had no face at all; if you stripped off my veil you’d find emptiness. But another sort (there were more of the men among these) said that I wore a veil because I was of a beauty so dazzling that if I let it be seen all men in the world would ran mad; or else that Ungit was jealous of my beauty and had promised to blast me if I went bareface. The upshot of all this nonsense was that I became something very mysterious and awful. I have seen ambassadors who were brave men in battle turn white like scared children in my Pillar Room when I turned and looked at them (and they couldn’t see whether I was looking or not) and was silent. I have made the most seasoned liars turn red and blurt out the truth with the same weapon. (Part 1, Chapter 20)

This description of the people’s reaction to the veiled Orual becomes a symbol for humanity’s relationship to God, who really does veil Himself to us. When all is said and done, however, Orual is a real woman under the veil—not “a spirit, a Siren, Orpheus, or what you will.” By the same token, God is a real personage under a veil, and it doesn’t really matter what we think He is, He is what He is.

Of the things that followed I cannot at all say whether they were what men call real or what men call dream. And for all I can tell, the only difference is that what many see we call a real thing, and what only one sees we call a dream. But things that many see may have no taste or moment in them at all, and things that are shown only to one may be spears and water-spouts of truth from the very depth of truth. (Part 2, Chapter 2)

Continue reading

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volume 1 and Volume 2, by Mark Twain (American classic)

“Regarded by many as the most luminous example of Twain’s work, this historical novel chronicles the French heroine’s life, as purportedly told by her longtime friend—Sieur Louis de Conté. A panorama of stirring scenes recount Joan’s childhood in Domremy, the story of her voices, the fight for Orleans, the splendid march to Rheims, and much more. An amazing record that disclosed Twain’s unrestrained admiration for Joan’s nobility of character, the book is matchless in its workmanship—one of Twain’s lesser-known novels that will charm and delightfully surprise his admirers and devotees.”


Joan of Arc’s fascinating holy life, combined with Mark Twain’s superb storytelling, make Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc the most compelling, uplifting novel I’ve read in a while. With this novel, Twain accomplishes what I believe is a difficult, if almost impossible, feat for an author—he makes a holy person both believable and accessible. At the other end of the spectrum, his evil characters are also just as real and believable—horrifyingly so.  Moreover, all of his characters, both fictional and historic, are unique and interesting. With his phenomenal insight into human character, Twain helped me understand how so many real people—both commoners and aristocrats—could have believed that a seventeen-year-old peasant girl had been visited by angels and called of God to deliver France from English bondage.  Continue reading

LibriVox App

Like many readers these days, I sometimes listen to audiobooks while doing other tasks.  A good source for free audiobooks in the public domain is LibriVox. You can download or stream audiobooks from the web site, or you can install an app on your phone or tablet to do the same thing.  Here is the basic description of LibriVox from its web site:

LibriVox Objective

To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

Our Fundamental Principles

  • Librivox is a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project
  • Librivox donates its recordings to the public domain
  • Librivox is powered by volunteers
  • Librivox maintains a loose and open structure
  • Librivox welcomes all volunteers from across the globe, in all languages

Some books are read by multiple volunteers; others are read by only one. The more popular titles have several versions, so if you start one and aren’t crazy about the reader or readers, just keep trying until you find a version that appeals to you. For example, the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has seven versions in English.

I prefer to read books one at a time, which means that I will move back and forth between reading and listening to a book before I move on to the next book. For that reason, I rarely listen to an audiobook in its entirety. I listened to significant portions of the six audiobooks below and enjoyed them all very much.

I’ve told several people about the LibriVox app recently and have been surprised by how many readers don’t know about it.  If that describes you, check it out! With over 10,000 files in its catalog, you’re certain to find something you will enjoy.

Book Commentary from a Cowboy

The Virginian

The Virginian

In April 2015 my book group read The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains, by Owen Wister. One of the fun things about this novel is that the school teacher in the story, Molly Wood, gives books to the Virginian to read. When he returns a book to her, he gives his spirited observations about it. His remarks about Fathers and Sons and Kenilworth are so intriguing that my group added those books to our list for 2016. Some of his comments—such as those about Emma, by Jane Austen—are about books we have already read. One of his observations is about The Mill on the Floss, a George Eliot novel the group hasn’t read yet. I wanted so much to add the Virginian’s comment about The Mill on the Floss to this post that I read it on my own.

I’ll warn you right now; the Virginian’s observation about The Mill on the Floss contains a significant spoiler, so you may want to skip down a few lines to Fathers and Sons. If you’re like me, however, you may prefer to avoid tragic surprises in a book and are more likely to read it if you get a warning, so here it is, from Chapter 12: Continue reading

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