It's been quite a while since my last post and I want to apologize. As a mom and small business owner life tends to get in the way of social media at times. For the past five weeks we have either been up in the mountains working on our new property or hosting guests and I've been completely overwhelmed just trying to get the basic housework and childcare accomplished. We had a Harry Potter Halloween, the result of me finding a Firebolt broom at the thrift store, so I had to shorten a cloak for my youngest. We wrapped up another soccer season just in time to start a new season of high school swim team. Our daughter is doing extremely well in school; she's 9th in her class, so we are exploring opportunities for her to improve her chance of scholarships to college.
In the shops I've been busy listing fall and holiday staples like sweaters and fancy dresses and home decor. These are starting to sell out already. I just added the Hogwarts crest shirts shown above to my Poshmark boutique. I'm proud to say that, while I'm still not meeting my ultimate financial hopes, I've almost quadrupled my income over the past year. I've been adding more streams of income as well as automating as many processes as possible. In that vein, I ordered my first thredUP bag today. I'm going to see how it works to have someone else photographing and listing a lot of my fashion pieces. ThredUP takes kids' clothes now, thank goodness, because I have about six full tubs of consignment kids' stuff to list and no time to do it. I am selling most of the kids' stuff I already have listed in economical by-the-pound lots. You can buy four or five pound boxes of kids' clothing for boys or girls, sorted by size so they're perfect for dressing your child or even to resell! I do not photograph every piece since I'm selling this way to save time, so you should not purchase these unless you're okay with buying "mystery" boxes. Most of my customers have been very pleased with their boxes so far. I only include pieces I would sell individually in my store: so only pieces in excellent to like new or even new condition. You can find these lots in my Poshmark, eBay, Depop, and Mercari stores. On eBay save 15% off any purchase of $50 or more through November 25th. Link to all my shops from the Home page.
In doll news, I am having a lot of success selling dolls for customization or parts, mostly on Etsy. I clean up Barbies or similar dolls, ball-jointed if possible, and sell them nude for you to dress or repaint. I have a bunch listed and many more on the way to the shops, just in time for the holidays! I'm glad these "blank" dolls are popular because it saves me a ton of time. It's an easy way to create your own one of a kind art doll as a special gift. It's also popular to use the fashion doll bodies for Blythe doll heads as they are sturdier than the Blythe factory bodies and fit the more affordable Barbie clothes. Look for a doll customization tutorial coming soon to the blog. That's my big interest in dolls right now and I love to share!
If you follow my Instagram you know I've now lost more than 50 pounds with the help of Dr. Wade Baskin. I want to lose at least 30 more so I'm working on back to back 48 hour fasts again this week. I've had trouble with insomnia while fasting so Dr. Wade suggested I cut back to 48 hour fasts. Dr. Wade is a great person to follow for weight loss advice and I highly recommend his group. It does take me out of my comfort zone though. I am not a person who likes to post photos of myself, but Dr. Wade says since he is providing his service to us free of charge he expects group members to pay it forward by sharing our results and methods. Dr. Wade has seen huge improvements in his health and those of his patients and group members following the unconventional advice to fast and limit food to mostly meat when eating and he wants us to help as many people as possible achieve optimal health.
At this point, you're best off following my Instagram or Facebook pages to keep up with me since I'm so short of time for blog posting or newsletter writing. I appreciate all of you who are still hanging in there following me when I've been so absent. Yesterday at a party I was telling my friend I feel like I'm so overextended I'm not doing anything very well right now. I know firsthand how fast this phase of life will pass, however. Before I know it I won't have any kiddos at home, so I'm trying to savor it while it lasts.
Last week I had two new-to-me patients in my doll hospital: the 14 inch Miss Corolle Classic doll and a Bitty Baby Twins doll. Both these little ladies needed eye transplants. The Bitty Baby was partially repaired at home but the owner couldn't get the second eye in and sent the doll to me to finish. She was the second person in as many days to have trouble inserting the second eye into a Bitty Baby. I am not sure what the problem was because the eye popped right in for me. If you are having trouble with your Bitty Baby I suggest you review the tutorial. Bitty Baby takes a Margon size 13mm eye, available in my Etsy and eBay shops (link from the Home page). I find rubbing a bit of baby oil or petroleum jelly on the back of the eye helps with insertion. Miss Corolle was a lot more difficult so I was glad the owner sent her in. I didn't think to take photos but I made notes of some particular issues with that doll.
I believe this is the "Miss Corolle" classic doll. There are a few different 14 inch Corolle dolls and this one is the older-looking body and face rather than the baby type doll. Miss Corolle lost her iris. Unfortunately the only solution is to replace both eyes, unless you were to find the same doll from which you could harvest an eye. This doll, like the 18 inch American Girl, does not use a standard eye size. Her eyes are wide but the case is shallow. In the Margon replacement eyes she takes a size 10mm. You may remove the eyes using the method illustrated in the tutorial above, except that since this doll has rooted hair you will need to line the inside of the head with an oven roaster bag before you fill it with water. When the head is warm the eyes pop right out. Her vinyl head fits on a hard plastic neck so there is no reason for a drawstring; you can just pop the vinyl head right off the neck piece.
The Margon 10mm eyes are too tall for the eye pockets so you can't use the boil method to insert the new eyes. You will need to use my cut method. You will need to remove the ends of the vinyl eye pockets inside the head. This will result in a vinyl tube with an open end inside the head. The fit will still be tight. I gently heated the eye tubes with a hair dryer. Then I used a curved hemostat to place the eyes on the tube and push them toward the front. Then I straightened the gaze so both eyes looked in the same direction and sealed them to the tubes with Aleene's Tacky Glue. When the glue dried I popped the head back on the neck and sent her home. Although it was a difficult repair I believe the doll turned out beautifully! This doll looks to me like the American Girl Wellie Wishers size clothing would fit her if you find one without clothing. My traditional eye repair kit (not the American Girl kit) will work for this doll, but if you have trouble you can always send your doll to my hospital using the form below.
Today in my doll hospital I got a new patient, a Bitty Baby Twins dolls named Harmony. Harmony needed an eye replacement and hair styling and while she was here her owner wanted her ears pierced as well. The American Girl Hospital will pierce the 18 inch dolls' ears but they won't do the Bitty Babies' due to earrings being considered a choking hazard. So before you proceed please consider if your doll will be a play toy and don't pierce the ears until your child is five years or older and you are confident they won't put the earrings in their mouth.
Choose the spot where you want to pierce the ears and scratch a little mark there so you can make sure the placement is even. It's easiest to put the earring just at the edge of the ear lobe rather than in the center of the lobe the way human earrings are placed. You want the earring to look like it's in the ear but not to have to pierce the thick ear vinyl. Choose the thinnest spot as close to the ear as possible. I use a sewing machine heavy duty needle for both the marking and the piercing. For vinyl dolls, it can be helpful to fill the doll's head with hot water prior to piercing to soften the vinyl. I forgot to photograph that step, but this doll's head was still soft from her eye replacement when I did the piercing.
Bring some water to a boil. This step is also mostly for vinyl, not resin or hard plastic dolls. You are going to use the hot water to heat the needle.
Place the needle in the hot water for a few minutes until it is very hot. Use a hemostat or other tool to hold the needle so you won't burn your hands. If you are piercing a hard plastic doll you will probably need to heat the needle by passing it through a candle flame in order to get it hot enough. That method will cause a black mark on the doll's face where you pierce it unless you wipe off the needle before you pierce the doll. Be careful not to get burned!
The needle should be so hot it's difficult to hold, so I use a napkin or cloth like an oven mitt to protect my fingers. Press the needle steadily and forcefully into the spot you marked previously. Press until the needle breaks though the vinyl.
Now you may insert the earrings. It's helpful to do this while the vinyl is still warm. If you are doing it later you can heat up the earring posts beforehand the same way you heated the needle. If you are going to keep the earrings inserted all the time it's important you choose gold or gold-plated posts. Other metals, including sterling silver, will oxidize and turn your doll's ears green. I use human earrings or make earrings myself from gold-plated posts. You can use wire cutters to trim the posts if they're too long. If you're having trouble with the earrings falling out you can bend the tip so it's square. You turn it while you insert the earring and it will hold itself in. This is how the Revlon doll earrings are inserted and that's why it's important to cut those posts before you remove the earrings. If you just pull the Revlon doll earrings out of the ears you will tear the vinyl ear.
Harmony's owner chose pink faux pearls for her and they're very cute! She's all fixed up and headed home. You can use the doll repair request form below to ask for a repair or service, such as ear piercing.
Today I'm cleaning my old shoes to get them ready for sale and I think most people will not have tried my favorite shoe cleaner: Thieves Foaming Hand Soap from Young Living! To be honest, Thieves is my favorite cleaner for just about everything. It smells divine, it's really hydrating and yet doesn't cause breakouts in acne-prone skin, the essential oils give every surface a lovely sheen, and it can be diluted with water about three times before it stops foaming, so it saves us money! You can purchase Thieves Foaming Hand Soap from the Young Living link on my Home page, and right now if you re-activate your Young Living account you can get one free with a 50 PV order!
The reason I'm selling my shoes is I am down two full sizes since 2017. I've lost almost 50 pounds and the place I am seeing it the most is in my feet! You might know! I am seeing some loose wrinkly skin under my chin but that's not really a positive. I'm hoping the autophagy from fasting will take care of that soon. I have really sensitive skin and a bone that sticks out of my heel so I almost only wear open front and back shoes like clogs. Otherwise I get terrible blisters. The trouble with this type of shoe is dirt gets in when you're walking outside and gets ground into the insole. I have thrown away so many shoes in the past that were perfectly fine except for the insole! And there isn't a good way to add a replacement insole; believe me, I've tried! Last year I had a new pair of expensive shoes that were already getting all yucky inside and I saw the Thieves soap sitting on the counter and decided to try it. It worked like a charm! So now it's my favorite!
So to use the Thieves soap, just pump some of it on the shoe and spread it all over.
Scrub the soap into the shoe, all over. I use a baby bottle cleaning brush for this. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse off the soap. Check to make sure you got all the dirt and don't need to repeat the scrubbing process. Then just let the shoes dry. If you have a bright sunny day it's great for shoe drying because it's fast! Voila! Clean shoes!
These shoes, in size 10, are headed soon to my shops and I have more already listed. Most of the shoes I'm selling will be 10s but I have a couple 9s I'm thinking of listing. I mostly wear a 9 now but I have a couple pairs that run small and I'm not sure if I want them hanging around until I lose another shoe size! The closer I get to my goal the slower my weight loss goes and the harder it is to stick to the long fasts. I am about 25 pounds away from my initial goal weight. When I get there I will re-evaluate whether I want or need to lose more. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
I just want to start by updating my last post. We did end up finding a property in the mountains and we are under contract to buy it! It's nice piece of riverfront land and although it looks to us like it's on the side of cliff, the grading guy says it's just "moderate". We aren't building a house anytime soon; we will just be camping on it and fishing for trout. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. This has been a dream of ours for over 20 years and though we've been saving up for all that time the deciding factor in going ahead with the purchase is my income. It has become reliable enough to make us feel confident we could pay ourselves back (we borrowed from our savings to make a cash offer). When you follow my blog and click on my affiliate links and purchase products from me you help make this possible. I can't ever tell you how grateful we are! This land is close enough to our son's university we will be able to see him far more often, and if our other children attend the same university it will make it easier to be close to them as well. We close in one month and at that time I will officially be on vacation over the weekends. For one thing, we won't have Internet access and we may or may not have electricity, so I'll be off the grid! It's going to be weird to take weekends off; I've worked seven days a week since 1998 unless we went on vacation or something. I'm sure I'll get used to it however! I'll do my best to keep my customer service exemplary during the week.
I also have an update to a post from way last year concerning my "Doll School." There was only slight interest in the subscription doll school. I had the idea to send a lesson with instructions and supplies each month. The services that provide subscription billing were too expensive for the projected amount of students I would have and the coding to set it up myself was far beyond my capabilities. I have a solution finally: I already offer doll repair kits with instructions and supplies for various repairs. Now I am also selling instruction packets for specific dolls. These are copied from a vintage doll repair correspondence course. The school that offered the course is now defunct and the lessons are no longer under copyright. I have included my own tips in each packet as well. The lessons cover Cissy and Elise, Sweet Sue, Tiny Tears and Betsy Wetsy, Kissy, the Valentine ballerina, Thumbelina, Saucy Walker and Posie, and Suzy Smart. I also offer a packet with all the instructions.
This way, you can pace yourself. You can order the instruction packets as you need them and get supplies or kits from my shops to supplement the packets. I have an idea for the Ultimate repair kit with supplies (sort of a doll hospital starter kit) but I'm still trying to figure out how to make that affordable enough that anyone would actually buy it. You can order my Doll School lessons from eBay, Etsy, and now Poshmark!
That's right! Poshmark just opened a Home Market as well as a School Market. If you download the app with the code STUDIOMANDALINE you will get a $5 credit which you can put toward your doll lessons! You can link to all my shops from the Home page. My Poshmark doll supply offerings are still pretty slim; I have instructions and stringing kits but I'm still working on getting more supplies on there. My US wholesale supplier has unfortunately become quite unreliable and I have trouble keeping things in stock. I would like to order more custom goods from my Chinese supplier but the cost is much higher due to the recent tariffs and I have to order so many units storage space becomes a problem. I'm busily working out the kinks and I'll let you know when I get it all set up.
Besides Doll School I just listed a bunch of women's athleisure-style clothing from brands such as Pink Lotus and Miss Me. My enormous wholesale Foster Grant sunglasses order arrived today and I'll start getting those listed in the next few days. I have vintage Pyrex and Fire King and Nintendo 64 newly-listed in all the shops.
I hope your summer is wrapping up beautifully, and I look forward to seeing you in Doll School!
The Atelier Mandaline doll hospital is steadily busy, just the way I like it! I don't like to be swamped with other people's dolls because it prevents me from working on my own, but I absolutely love my bread-and-butter business to come through this, my own website, so I don't have to pay fees to sites like Etsy. The dolls shown above are my most recent patients, who visited the hospital for split repairs, blushing, re-stringing, and hair styling. Use the contact form at the end of this post to request a doll repair.
Please see my new price list for common doll repairs. These prices do not include return shipping. If your doll needs more than one repair or if you send multiple dolls I will offer a discount of some kind. Please be aware, this price list only applies to repair requests through this website. If you contact me using eBay or Etsy or another platform I will then have to create a listing for you to pay through that platform and pay fees to the platform. Many people prefer to pay through a larger, more well-known site, and I understand that caution, but prices on those sites are 20% higher because of the fees I have to pay. You may purchase doll repair kits from my eBay and Etsy shops and do the repair yourself to save money. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
My most recent patients arrived in pieces or very loose and with faded blush, messy hair, and/or splits in their seams. I gave them a good cleaning, then repaired the splits with epoxy, and restrung them. Then I styled their hair and refreshed their blush. I wanted to expand on my last post and tell you about some more of my essential tools for doll repair. First of all but not shown is Mr. Super Clear UV Cut Flat Matte Varnish. This is expensive but well worth the cost. It is the only varnish I have found which seals even pastel and watercolor on hard plastic without even a hint of stickiness. Here in the South the humidity level keeps most varnishes from drying properly and every other brand I've used has dried sticky. I am able to use pastels and even human makeup on my dolls now because this varnish holds it in place. The matte varnish is preferred for the vintage Madame Alexander hard plastic dolls, which were designed to have a "porcelain-like" finish. For composition dolls you may want to use the gloss version that mimics those dolls' original finish.
Another of my favorite tools for epoxy repairs and doll cleaning is a nail buffer. These have four or five sides and are designed to file ridges out of your nails and then smooth and buff them to a shine. It turns out, they work just the same way on hard plastic dolls! Even the roughest side is gentler than fine sandpaper and the small size makes it easy to use on miniature doll parts. The Cissette doll above had epoxy repairs to several seams. I used the buffer to finish-sand the epoxy. Then I painted and sealed the areas and used the Shine side to give the painted areas the same sheen as the original plastic.
My newest favorite tool is the Creative Options Small Rack System organizational box. Do you remember the part of Toy Story 2 when the toy thief hires a toy restorer to come repair Woody? Remember his cool tool box? I've wanted a box like that ever since that movie came out so when my husband saw this one he snapped it up. It was my anniversary gift this year. I love it for carrying my tools, from stringing hooks to bamboo skewers, and now I'm not always having to search for my hemostat or my epoxy! The only thing it's missing is the little doll chair.
The Atelier Mandaline hospital and shops will most likely have a slightly longer turnaround time for repairs and order fulfillment starting soon. I am trying to stop working on weekends, at least during the slower months of the year. The holiday rush will probably force me to work on the weekend but I'm trying to avoid it for now. I'm really proud of myself: It's only August and so far I've made double the profit of last year, even though I'm working less! I've been pushing myself to learn more and source better. More of my income is coming from my website and private label products, saving me on inventory and selling fees.
One reason I want to spend more time away from work, besides my kids growing up too fast, is we are embarking on the fulfillment of a long-held dream. For many years we've wanted to buy some land for a fishing and hunting camp. This weekend we are helping our oldest move into his dorm and then we have an appointment to view some land. I just can't believe we are at the point of actually viewing properties! I'm so excited I haven't been able to sleep all week! We've been wanting to diversify our investments and land seems a perfect place to put some money. The properties we are viewing are near our son's university, making it possible he could actually live there in the future and also allow us to visit him more often. I really want an income property for short-term rental. My husband is not interested in this, but I'm going to work on him. Maybe in the future you can experience the Atelier Mandaline Glamping Getaway! We are focusing on the best trout streams in the Appalachians so you can load up on quality wild protein while you relax. My long-term goal is to convert more of my profits into income-generating properties in resort areas like the beach and mountains. I have no interest in dealing with long-term tenants so weekend or weekly rentals seem perfect. I love the idea of income coming in without me having to be involved day to day; eventually I would hire a property manager to make it more autonomous. Please send all your most positive vibes our way that we can find and afford a suitable piece of land!
As always, some links on this site, including those in this post, are affiliate links. I get a small payment is you buy anything from eBay in the 24 hours after clicking the link, even if you don't buy the products I show. This costs you nothing and helps me keep my tutorials free for you.
At long last I am back to my blog! This summer has been something else. Our son's soccer team won the division championships, extending the season so it overlapped with the swim team season. Now swim team is nearly over and we are the champions in that league so far. We spent a week at the beach, not exactly a relaxing week, as we biked 10 miles and walked at last 2 miles each day as well as fishing and kayaking, but a fun week. I think I may have even lost a little more weight while on vacation, although my scale is broken and my new one hasn't arrived yet so I am not sure. It has actually been terrific to be away from the tyranny of the scale and just focus on my fasting and diet and enjoying activities I love. Maybe I won't open the new one for a while! I'm going to be out of town again next week so I thought I would squeeze a tips post in while I'm home. Today I want to talk about one of my top tools for doll restoration: the curved hemostat.
I always recommend hemostats as a necessary tool for doll stringing, but they are really useful for eye restoration as well. Many people who use my eyes have reported problems getting the eyes to look in the right direction after they insert them, especially if they're using the boil method. Other clients have trouble getting the eyes inserted into the socket from the inside. That's a particular problem with the Patti Playpal and similar dolls. My go-to tool in both these situations is my curved hemostat. A 6 or 7 inch curved hemostat will work great for a doll with a shorter neck. Dolls with longer necks may need an 8-10 inch length. You can purchase hemostats from my Etsy shop.
If you are having trouble straightening a doll's gaze from the front of the face you can grasp the back of the eye pocket with your hemostat and shift the eye that way. This method avoids the damage that can occur to the face if you are poking around the eyes with a skewer or other pointed tool. If you are having trouble grasping the eye rather than the socket you can cut a small slit in the eye pocket and open it just a little. That will allow you to grab the back of the eye to move it. Unless the slit is very tiny you will want to reseal it with tacky glue and let it dry.
If you are having trouble getting the proper sized eye into the eye socket the hemostat can help with that, too. Just gently heat the eye pockets inside the head with a hair dryer. When the pocket is soft use the hemostat to grab the back of the eye and insert it into the pocket. Then use the hemostat to push the eye into the socket as far forward as required.
Many vintage dolls, especially drink and wet dolls, are dirty and moldy inside their head. This is residue from being fed with their bottle and washed by their little mommy. I take a paper towel or cleaning wipe and use the hemostat to hold it so I can reach all the way inside the head to clean and dry it out.
This baby doll is all ready to return home with her new eyes! Besides purchasing eyes, hemostats, and doll repair kits, you can go to my Etsy shop to contact me about repairing your doll in my hospital. My hospital prices are higher on Etsy since I pay them a commission but some people prefer to pay through an established site. You can also contact me through this website to request a doll repair using the contact form at the end of this post.
In other Etsy news, I am now offering free domestic shipping on all purchases or bundles $35 or above! International buyers should contact me before purchase for a quote with the domestic shipping cost removed from the base price. My Etsy shop has really grown this year, even surpassing my eBay sales over the past few months. I can't wait to see it get even bigger as I implement all the new product ideas I have in my head!
As you know, when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I worked hard to learn to cook foods to fit into the ketogenic diet. I have the hang of it now, and my son is doing great. We saw his endocrinologist last week and she was thrilled with his progress. His A1C is 6.5 and his sugars are totally flat, with none of the spikes or steep drops that cause organ damage. When he's at home he doesn't even need to use mealtime insulin! There are foods he still misses, so I'm always trying to re-create them. Tonight I made Keto Stuffed Shells, and it was a big hit. Everyone agreed I should post the recipe, so here it is!
Keto Stuffed Shells
24 Pre-Cut Provolone Cheese Slices, Non-Smoked
24 silicone muffin cups
1 large egg, beaten
2 TBSP cream sherry
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
1.5 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 drops Young Living Lemon Vitality Essential Oil
(purchase from the link on the Home page)
1 teaspoon Parsley
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces tomato paste
12 ounces water
1/4 cup marsala wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch dried stevia
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
Shredded Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Make the sauce so it can simmer as you make the shells. Heat the oil and saute the garlic cloves until fragrant. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, blend, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
To make the shells, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, fold the cheese slices into the silicone muffin cups as shown. They are easiest to work with if they aren't too cold, so you may want to leave them at room temperature for a while before you start. Place the cups on a pan and bake for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is just barely melted as shown below.
Let the cheese shells cool while you make the filling. Beat the egg and blend remaining filling ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat and stir, so that the egg is pasteurized but the filling is still thick and chunky, as shown.
Pull each shell away from the muffin cup and fold over to create a pocket.
Fill each shell with about 1 tablespoon of filling and fold the shell over it.
Tip each filled shell onto a serving platter or pan. Remove the marinara sauce from the heat and let it cool while you put the shells in the pan. You don't want the filled shells to get too hot as the cheese will melt again and the shells will fall apart!
To serve, plate the stuffed shells, top with the marinara sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. The texture is really just about perfect, like al dente pasta! These don't reheat very well due to the cheese shells melting when you try to heat them up, so I recommend making just enough for one meal, unless you enjoy cold pasta!
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. It's been years since we had Stuffed Shells, and it was formerly a favorite of ours. It's economical, too. I can't afford meat all the time and if you've tried to feed a family the ketogenic diet all the time you know it can get pricey. There's no doubt, carbs are cheap fillers that help stretch out your food, but there's also no doubt they're nutritionally void. In fact, many doctors now consider them "anti-nutrients" that actually keep you from absorbing the good foods you do eat. This is an inexpensive meal I can feel good about feeding my family. I know some people can't handle dairy. It might take them out of ketosis or cause binges or GI problems. We don't have any of those problems, so we will put this into the regular rotation.
As promised in my last post, here is my weight loss tips post. To recap: I've been on a weight loss journey for the past two years. Well technically, I've been dieting since I was about 12, but this time I've found a program that actually works. I'm using Dr. Wade Baskin's plan. This is how Dr. Wade lost a significant amount of weight when he was in his late 40s and also got off his prescription medications. He now uses his method to help his patients and group members. You can find Dr. Wade on Instagram. You can certainly join his group and just follow his instructions, but if you're new to intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet I have some tips to help you get started. Just a warning, this is a long post!
The photos above are from February, 2019 on the left and today (6/4) on the right. It's almost physically painful for me to look at them and the worst part of it is I was actually 4-6 sizes larger at my heaviest than in the photo on the left. As you can see, I am finally starting to see the most important fat loss of all, the fat from my abdomen and neck, which is in dangerous proximity to my brain and vital organs.
I wasn't always fat. In fact, prior to my pregnancy with my oldest my measurements were 39-25-36. During my pregnancy I started to have symptoms of a mysterious illness. My husband was disabled in a near-fatal work accident when I was 3 months along, so I thought it was just stress, but after our son was born it got worse and worse. I went to doctor after doctor and suffered several misdiagnoses and "cures" along the way. One hormone I was given 16 years ago caused migraine headaches I still have today. I steadily gained weight along with developing bleeding acne, hair loss, joint pain, and other symptoms. Finally after TEN YEARS a nurse practitioner decided to run a full metabolic screening and discovered I had no measurable amount of Vitamin D in my bloodstream. Finally, it made sense that I had all the symptoms of a thyroid or hormonal disorder without anything showing up in tests; Vitamin D has a powerful effect on thyroid function and hormones. The diagnosis wasn't a cure, unfortunately. It took two years of taking prescription Vitamin D3 at enormous levels (50,000-100,000 IU per week) to get to the minimum recommended level. Around that time Norwegian researchers discovered many Scandinavians lack the gene to convert sunlight to Vitamin D. I haven't had genetic testing but since I'm around half Scandinavian, with the rest Northern European, it seems pretty clear I don't make Vitamin D well, if at all. My hormones were a mess as well, after years of so-called "healthy" diets and prescription medications that made everything worse. Basically, if you have seen an exercise or diet program on television or read about one on the Internet or in a magazine for the past 20 years, I have done it, and yet every year I was fatter than the year before.
I discovered the books Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat. Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig and was able to use their Health Recovery program to help resolve many of my symptoms as well as treat our daughter's extreme malnutrition after we adopted her. I just haven't been able to lose weight, though. I might lose 8 -15 pounds but soon the weight loss would stop and I would gain it back plus more. A piece was missing and I didn't know what it was.
Thankfully, researching diabetes after my son was diagnosed led me to Dr. Wade. He recommended Dr. Fung's books, The Diabetes Code, The Obesity Code, and The Complete Guide to Fasting. For the first time I discovered the link between insulin production and weight gain. You can eat low carb, but anything you eat will cause your pancreas to release insulin and it is insulin that causes weight gain. Therefore, it is eating FREQUENCY, more than any other factor, which has the greatest impact on your weight. This discovery was a revelation to me. I started fasting, but I still wasn't seeing the results I wanted until I discovered Dr. Wade's plan.
One purpose of your fat cells is to protect your body from harmful materials. If a toxin enters your body, it creates some fat cells and sticks the toxin inside a little bubble of fat, like an oyster making a pearl only not quite so pretty. This is one reason excess fat cells are so dangerous, especially when they surround your internal organs. They're full of poisons that can leak out. They create hormones that can drive your appetite for harmful foods. When you start fasting your fat cells begin to empty out and your body goes into a process called "autophagy", which means to eat itself. When fuel is restricted your body begins to get rid of any damaged or unnecessary cells in order to preserve the healthiest cells. If you've been eating the typical American processed food diet and exposing yourself to lots of pollution (say, getting your recommended steps in while walking along the road and breathing in exhaust fumes), your body will start pushing all that stuff out as fast as it can and it's not pretty. This is where Dr. Wade and I differ a bit on the best way to start fasting. He says go all out with the 48 and 72 hour fasts right from the start. I disagree.
Early in 2017, before our son's diagnosis, I tried to start Keto, Intermittent Fasting, and exercise with Internet advice. This was before I read Dr. Fung's books. I felt absolutely MISERABLE. I was constantly sick and had no energy and I lost no weight whatsoever. My sister lost lots of weight on Keto but I concluded it wasn't for me. I went on to try a Vegan plan that ended up with me at my highest weight ever and sick with IBS symptoms. I don't want you to go through that! Fasting can be uncomfortable but it doesn't have to be so bad you give up on it.
To begin, start a ketogenic or carnivore diet. There's lots of debate about both of these, but basically you want to limit your foods to meat and non-starchy vegetables. Some people include dairy and others don't. I personally have no problems with dairy, most likely due to my genetic background. Butterfat has been a main food source for my ancestors for generations. Carnivore is a controversial and supposedly new diet in which you eat just meat or only animal based foods. However, if you read Sally Fallon's books you will find Dr. Mary Enig had years of research showing plant foods are not necessary and can be harmful if not carefully prepared. Traditional societies did not eat plant foods without extensive preparation, usually involving fermentation, to render them harmless. Otherwise plants contain anti-nutrients that keep you from absorbing nourishment from your food. I personally believe the ability to tolerate plants varies due to genetics. I've noticed my Chinese children can eat far more fruit, for example, than I ever could. I recommend either the allergy treatment protocol in Dr. Atkins' Vitanutrient Solution book or his 1000 Calorie Fat Fast from his New Diet Revolution book to give you a good elimination diet to help you determine which and how many foods you can tolerate. You should also use ketogenic urine testing strips before and after meals to see which foods spike your insulin. You can find these in the diabetic section of drug stores. If your test strips are pink or purple before you eat but change to beige after you eat that means the food is causing your insulin level to spike. Avoid those foods! Try to keep your diet free of keto junk food, such as prepackaged shakes and cookies and things. You are trying to rid your body of chemicals so they won't be expelled in a painful manner when you start extended fasting.
As you begin your diet, start a light fasting schedule. While you're fasting make sure to read The Complete Guide to Fasting! Simply go for 12 hours without eating. So, if you eat supper at 7PM don't eat anything until breakfast at 7AM the next day. Over the course of a few weeks push your eating window longer and longer until you can comfortably eat only one meal a day. Most experts believe it is best to eat your one meal early in the day. You will see this referred to as OMAD (One Meal A Day), and it will come naturally as you adopt a ketogenic or carnivore diet because the extra fat and protein you eat will reduce hunger a great deal.
When you start fasting longer than about 12 hours you will almost certainly experience some discomfort from the toxins leaving your body. These may include nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, skin lesions or rashes, headaches, insomnia. and more. I've experienced all these at various times. If your symptoms are severe, just break your fast. Have a clean meal, and start again another day. It took me forever to get past 50 hours, and I had the craziest symptoms. The weirdest was when my stretch marks from my pregnancy 20 years ago broke open and began to bleed! If your symptoms aren't too severe, however, I have some products I recommend. I do sell these products, so I will make a small commission when you purchase, but I promise you I do use them and highly recommend them! For upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, etc: drink 2-3 drops of Digize oil in a GLASS (not plastic cup) of water and take two Essentialzymes capsules. You can also rub the Digize on your stomach if you don't like the flavor. You can substitute Fennel Vitality oil if you prefer; it tastes like licorice! For insomnia and constipation: take MegaCal as directed on the label. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath with Lavender, Dream Catcher, Peace and Calming, or Valerian oil and soak for at least 20 minutes. You can buy these Young Living products from here or the link on the Home page. I rarely need to use these products anymore, so just keep telling yourself it will get better as your body gets rid of all the junk it's been storing!
For general malaise, weakness, dizziness, or muscle cramps, drink unflavored electrolyte water. You can make your own from Dr. Wade's recipe: Mix 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon baking soda or sea salt (Dr. Wade prefers Redmond's Real Salt), and 1/2 teaspoon potassium chloride powder ("NoSalt" or NuSalt" the spice aisle). Do NOT increase the amount of potassium, but the salt or soda can be increased or decreased to suit you.
Once you've gotten used to OMAD you can start increasing your fasting time until you are going 48-72 hours. I use the Zero app to track my fasts. Dr. Wade doesn't like when people do really long fasts, like a week or more at a time, because he thinks that can lead to binge eating and a binge and purge disorder. He wants you to get to the point that you've rid yourself of all your addictions, including caffeine and food cravings, and can eat a small meat meal and go right back to fasting. He recommends you take no foods or liquids unless you absolutely need the electrolyte solution. At the very beginning you can use bone broth and coffee or tea with cream as Dr. Fung recommends but you want to wean yourself off these crutches. You should not be exercising while fasting. Save that for your eating days. When you do exercise you want to do so at such a low pace you could keep it up for hours. More strenuous exercise will cause your cortisol to spike and stop your weight loss.
Then when you reach your goal weight you can go back to OMAD and eating a more varied diet if you prefer. For me personally the ketogenic diet works best. Carnivore is higher protein and protein converts to sugar in the body, so it's not safe for my diabetic son to have too much. Also, with our children's medical bills I can't afford meat at every meal. I use lots of eggs, cream, and cheese as a meat substitute. You can look back over my posts on this page and my blog for tons of ketogenic recipes.
I've had great success with Dr. Wade's Facebook Group. Be aware if you join, he expects participation and will remove you if you don't post. He also will call you out if you're doing something he doesn't like. Please remember it's a support group, not forum to bully others. He knows what he's doing, however, and he's spent more time advising me than any doctor I've ever had, since he conducts a 1-hour live session every single week to answer questions and help us work through problems.
I have a long way to go, still. I want to lose at least 50 more pounds, but this is the best success I've had at weight loss since my twenties and I wanted to share it with everyone. It's so important to recognize much of the advice we are hearing pretty much everywhere is designed to help Big Food and Big Pharma make a profit, not support our health! I'm trying to get over my anger at the fact that my whole situation is a direct result of me following my doctors' advice over two decades. It ruined half my twenties to half my forties but I finally feel like now I know how to take my life back.
Here's a bonus oils recipe for you. We had an incredibly busy weekend, with our youngest son's final soccer playoffs game, so naturally he got stung by a bee at recess on Friday. The sting was on his calf. They washed and treated it at school and it looked fine, but after the game Saturday his whole lower leg was red and swollen and by Sunday morning it was turning purple. I recognized a possible infection starting so I used my oils. I mixed a little witch hazel with 4 drops each Sacred Frankincense, Lavender, Melrose, and Copaiba and applied it every few hours with a cotton ball. I added Peppermint to the mix when it began to itch. I also had him spend Sunday afternoon with his leg elevated and iced it. By Monday night the swelling was completely down and it no longer hurt or itched! It still looks bruised but that's just a remnant of the damage and it's improving quickly. This mixture is a great treatment for any skin issues that might itch or get infected.
As usual I'm playing catch-up with basically my whole life right now! We have had a lot going on, but some great things happened lately and I wanted to update you. First of all. please join me in celebrating my 100th blog post on this, my own website! Having my own website was a longtime goal of mine and I'm proud to have achieved it.
Next, our Saturdays have been taken over the past few months by soccer. This was our son's first year on a travel soccer team. They made the playoffs and they won, so they're the champions for the region! That was really exciting, but I'm glad it's over. The championships lasted a month past the usual end of the season, so soccer and swim team overlapped. All these games and practices take time and I've gotten basically nowhere with my planned re-merchandising of the shops. Still, I remind myself I chose this career specifically in order to have the opportunity to give my children these opportunities and it's working out well. I rarely miss these events in their lives and I'm available to ferry them around as needed.
If you've been following me for a while you know I've been on a weight loss and health recovery journey since 2017. In September of that year our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I decided to switch the whole family to the ketogenic diet. I lost some weight, around 15 pounds, right away but then my weight loss stalled and pounds began to creep back on. My body composition did change significantly. Part of this journey has been learning which foods I can and cannot tolerate. I found most fruits, vegetables, and grains cause me to blow up like a balloon and experience GI issues, so just cutting them down removed a lot of the bloat I experienced due to inflammation. Then at the end of March I found out Dr. Wade Baskin, who I've been following on Instagram for a while, has a Facebook group. I joined the group and since then I've lost over 30 pounds! I would still have to lose almost 100 pounds to get to my pre-kids weight, but I think at my age that would probably not be the best idea as far as wrinkles go. I can see I'm already getting a stringy-looking neck and before kids I hovered around the lowest BMI range for my height, sometimes dropping into the underweight category. I was also a lot weaker than I am now, with a terrible immune system, and didn't have the amount of stamina I now have, 20 years later, so I guess I was "skinny fat". My goal now is to preserve my muscle mass as I lose weight and continue to improve my health, especially my chronic allergies.
The photos above were taken in 2017 (left) and Saturday (right). I have a goal to lose another 20 pounds by the beginning of July and I actually feel confident about my ability to do it. Dr. Wade's plan is very simple: you alternate 72 and 48 hour fasts until you reach your goal weight. Dr. Wade prefers dry fasting, but if you need it he does allow electrolyte solution and coffee. His goal is to complete shorter extended fasts, so you don't inhale everything in sight when you eat, and to remove your addiction to food. He prefers red meat only when you do eat, one 500-800 calorie meat meal between fasts. So it's simple but not terribly easy. I will write a longer and more detailed post next for those of you who want more information.
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.