The good, the bad and the ugly

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I was asked this a few years back when I was having my home refurbished. The contractor asked me these questions. I opted for the bad news first because I wanted to end the news on a more positive note. The bad news that day was my ceiling was caving in. The good news was, he could fix it. I knew a ceiling couldn’t be healthy when the darned thing was curved…downward…and what looked like dry hay was creeping from the corner.

The end result was I had a beautiful home, shiny, updated and strong from the foundation to the roof. And it all came at a price. The dollars, time and being forced to live in a spot in one room for several months was difficult at times. I felt discombobulated. My ground chakra had no wiring. The mess before the unveiling put me outside of my comfort zone for a few months, but in the end I was more comfortable and ultimately happier. I remember standing in that home and looking all around and marveling that I was in the same space but not in the same space.

Before the construction could begin the deconstruction had to happen. The discomfort had to happen. The inner exchange, the daily negotiations changed, which had to happen. Re-modeling a home is a lot like remodeling a life. The bad news is some areas of my life are caving in, but the good news is…I can fix it.

That good news is really good news! Have you ever been in the company of someone who is actively living and making choices to better themselves? If not, then you really should begin your reconstruction with your circle of friends and acquaintances. Sure, the person who is listening to Zig Ziegler for the thousandth time and is telling you how wonderful life is and on top of that they actually lost weight during the holidays can be challenging to one’s psyche especially if one just bought a size larger pair of jeans because of the holidays and one has no idea who Zig is other than the papers used to roll Cigs. It is so easy, so natural to continue in your own flow even if the flow drops into no-man’s land, where nothing grows and nothing new ever happens.

How does one re-model their life? Which walls come down, which rooms are re-utilize and what is the new decor? The bad news is that all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else. The good news is all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else!

Commercials are on overdrive for weight loss products and clinics and shots and suctions. I often wish I could have a constant companion telling what to do, what to eat and to knock the food right out of my hands if I am over calorie budget for the day. I often wish I had someone there to insist I go to the gym, pick out the right clothes, point out that I need to meditate. And, yes, I know that I am my own constant companion, and that is where things turn ugly!

Being our own contractors is challenging, but finding the answers to the problems needing to be solved, such as a ceiling that is caving in, is the stuff of life. We must be careful who we chose to help us, which tools to use and in the end the price paid. Change is never easy, change is ever constant and change can be extremely uncomfortable.

But in the end, it is all worth the new digs.

Is Emotional Eating Equal to Food Addiction?

During the ten o’clock news one night I watched a major report about food addiction. The report centered the information around the dis-EASE of addiction. A food addiction group was filmed with only the feet of the participants showing, then through a blurred visage a member spoke about her life of addiction to food. “You need food to live, so it is not like you can just abstain from eating!”

Alcoholics have it easy!

I sat in my livingroom wondering if there is an addiction to food, or maybe to certain ingrediants…like sugar maybe or white carbs which have no nutrition but tons of calories. Does a food addict gobble up all of the oranges in the fridge and follow that up with a fresh spinach grazing frenzy? How often does the food addict get caught with tomatoes smeared all over their face? Is it the FOOD or is it the emotions that pull the addict into the pantry?

First there is an event, a thought, followed by an emotion then another thought followed by action. Those two thought inserts can be quick and even a bit subliminal, however, they are there. I propose if one knew what those thoughts were and could manage them better, the path to the fridge would be less worn and the floor around it with less crumbs of passion.

My problem is not food addiction. I do over eat. I do over eat the wrong foods which make my body puffy in water and fat. I don’t drown in buckets of ice cream, but I do have more than I should. My problem is I have extra pounds that keep me from feeling at the top of who I believe I could be. Those extra pounds, though comparatively few to true food addicts who daily find themselves devouring bags of chips, gallons of ice cream or whatever food is their drug, keep me from being 100% me. My problem is this pull of feeling not good enough. Ever. And it keeps me at size ‘unworthy’.

Most of our ideas about ourselves are born when we are young. My feeling of not being good enough started at age 8. I was told over the years I was either too big or too small. See? Never was I just right. By the way, my father is the culprit in this and then I took this learned lesson and incorporated it into every relationship since. My bad.

“Are you going to actually eat that?” Step-monster had made an Italian cream cake and uh, yeah, I was going to eat a piece until I was shamed into not eating it. I was 15. A size 8.

“I am taking you to JAG and dropping you off. The army will deal with you, they will have to.” Dad told me this on a wintry day in January, in Louisville, Kentucky because he told me Marilyn, his wife, told him I needed to go. I had a four-month old baby and a 23 month old baby…we were staying in his home ( a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 living with extra home on 3 acres) for 4 months due to the deployment of my husband in Germany. The entire MLRS unit was new as it was a new weapon system and all of the soldiers were sent to Germany at once and were in the field for testing for the four months. After that, all families were invited to join their soldiers and make their temporary homes. I was paying for my own groceries, a percentage of the electric bill and for any gas I used in his car. Due to the snow storms in Texas I was unable to get back to live with kind people who cared…then Dad had a talk with a step-sister who told him that kicking his daughter and two grand-babies to the curb was wrong.

He paid for his son’s private high school and private college. He paid for a portion of his wedding.

I got nothing. He did slip me 25 bucks at my reception to ‘help’. When he died, Marlilyn told all of his family I was a “TAKER”. I thought I was his “DAUGHTER”.

He told me I disgusted him when I was crying after a long day of fussy babies and potty training and living in a home where I was told I was not wanted. He told me I should have my kids taken from me because I was weak. I was 24. And for the record, I was a darned good mom at 24.

There is more and each story has the same message. I was not good enough for my father’s love, approval, help.

Being not good enough I set my sights to try and be good enough. I set goals. I finished a masters program with a 4.0, my BA as a Magna Cum Laude all while working and raising my girls. I participated in life and made lots of friends. I became a stand-up comic, had gigs in morning radio, spots on national TV. Nothing ever stuck though, I struggled with the idea I was not good enough.

Now I know those words have damaged my past path. I have vowed to live a cleaner thought life from now on. Not good enough? I am good enough. I am a good mother who would do anything to help her kids, who always tells them how wonderful they are and special, and how they sparkle in my sight. I hope I have stamped them with Good Enough enough that it resonates always.

Food and the extra pounds have kept me on the edge of not quite where I want to be- a manifested, untruth of who I really am.

I am good enough to be a few pounds lighter, more muscular and much more fabulous.

Wrangle whatever thought or thoughts you have that keep you from being fabulous. We all have sparkle, yes even in the dark.

Vegan: Day 21

twenty-one days ago I had my last meal with fat, animal protein and milk products. The staples that had sustained me my entire life. It was a halibut dish made by Carinos and I went home that night and became very ill. I was miserable. “I know that food effects my body and emotions!” I cried. “I am so done with being sick after I eat!” I laid in bed and promised myself that change had to happen fast. I had just received the DVD and book, Forks Over Knives, as suggested by Dr. Auston Meyers, my fiance’s daughter’s young gentleman. I woke up with my fat hang-over and went straight to the TV and played the disc. I have since explained the clarity of the message and how I KNEW it was my answer to how I felt when I first learned of Jesus Christ at 21 years of age. It was an epiphany, a revelation, a breakthrough. I remember driving my friends and family nuts talking about Jesus, not I am driving them nuts talking about nuts. Which by the way, cashews come from the poison ivy family and that is why we never see them in their shells.


Do I miss meat? Dairy? Butter? Chocolate chip cookies?

So far, no. I just finished a meal with black beans and rice mixed with wonderful vegetables and mashed cauliflower covered in a creamy leek sauce. I had few calories and I am STUFFED! For me, the key to being vegan is to cook my food or prepare it in advance. A few years ago I tried to cut out animal proteins, but my ah-ha had not happened and all I did was consume a lot of bread. Fifteen pounds later I was on Jenny Craig…AGAIN!

Yesterday I baked a sweet potato pie and made mashed cauliflower, baked brussel sprouts and asparagus. I still have some lentil meatloaf in the freezer. I have two more days left of meals before I pick my next dishes from my new cookbooks. I have gravitated more to the Forks Over Knives recipes and Rip Esselstyn’s recipes in his book, Engine 2. These dished are all made without added oils. The only fats I have had are nuts (which are loaded with fat so I figure I will not sit with a can and munch away!) and avocado as well as a few others found naturally. My vice has been the one processed food I have allowed in the house- rice cakes, oh, and red wine.

The sweet potato pie is made with tofu and of course sweet potatoes. It has a more fluffy consistency than the traditional pie, but the taste is amazing. The whole pie has 3/4 cups of raw sugar. I ate a pretty big piece last night and felt a little ill. I had not had sugar for a while. The leek sauce is heaven. I love this stuff! I can see using it like a hollandaise. It has the zest of one lemon in it. I sautéed leeks in water and added tofu, the lemon zest, salt and pepper, toasted pine nuts and nutritional yeast. Blender on high, then YUM! It should never be boiled.

Brussel sprouts and asparagus cook perfectly  in the oven at 350 degrees with some salt and pepper.

Last week I made Pad Thai…super good and it was comfort food for me as well.

I can attest I have not gone to bed feeling ill in the last 21 days. I have started each day feeling good inside; physically, mentally and spiritually.


How NOT to Gain Weight During the Holidays

How does one NOT gain weight during the holidays?

Don’t eat so much. Oh, and exercise.

Am I being a smarty-pants? Yes and no. The truth is that no diet regime works unless the calorie count is low, say around 1200 and one exercises on a regular basis.

It kills me when I read article after article on how to lose weight and the essence of every article is still the same- eat less, move more. And yes, I still read every one of them. Why? I figure I am just like the rest of the people who read and re-read the newest information out on the market which always turns out to be the same information– I am looking for the miracle moment. Someday I will read the perfect words which will motivate me to a size 4 in a month. I recently received an e-mail from a colleague at work, it began, “Hi, I am not saying your are fat, but I have a product that will help you lose weight. It is Monavie protein shakes.”

I did not return her e-mail. It wasn’t the fat comment it was the protein drink comment. I would rather eat my calories thank you very much. Another thing I would like to tell this colleague is that I would be more receptive to her sales pitches if she actually said hello to me in the hall when I said hello to her first. First rule of sales…people need to think you really care about them… “I am not saying you’re fat” isn’t connecting.

The key to all these articles I read is that I feel connected to the subject. I must be a part of a big crowd, pun intended.

People do not want to hear that the formula for weight loss is as simple as it is: eat less, exercise more. We read about the magic foods than we read about the guy who ate Twinkies and lost a bunch of weight. He ate only 1800 calories of Twinkies a day. Then there is the potato guy who lost weight eating nothing but potatoes. No butter, sour cream and hot oil on these spuds- just spuds. He didn’t eat over 1800 calories either- for men that calorie count is fairly low, women have the magic number at 1200.

I am not saying that I will dive into the cookie or ice cream diet, or the Twinkie or potato diet. Lord knows I will never again cook up the cabbage diet. Gross and double yukko.

One of my other colleagues uses the Lose It app on her phone. She counts calories that way and has lost a lot of weight. I think that is the new fad, and the better way to go. Find an app that helps you count calories! I also like the new applications that comes with the heart monitors, like the body bug. It calculates the amount of calories you are burning. Fun, fun, fun! At THe Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge, almost everyone had one – I think I was the only one without the device – so when I got home I went straight to Academy and bought a Polar watch. I use it when I work out and periodically I will wear it for a 24 hour period to see how many calories I burn just being me! Last night, from 10 pm to 5:30 am I only burned 526 calories. Low isn’t it? Sure woke me up! I wonder if there is anyway to incorporate some more REM movement or any kind of movement other than the throwing off of covers due to those horrendous night sweats. And, why aren’t I sweating off my dinner? 526 calories…so sad.

So many articles will be written and have been written about how to survive the holiday table…what to eat, what not to eat and how to cook your favorite holiday treats with only half the calories! Whoopee! I will admit this; I never worry about calories on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. Never. Where is the article about that? You know who watches their calories on Thanksgiving and Christmas? Weirdos.

The trick is watching the calories during the season. I love Starbucks Eggnog Lattes. A venti has 610 calories. I know if I drink one of those I cannot have breakfast or lunch. Lose It App says so! If I eat some of that carmel pop corn that was left in the teachers’ lounge I know to curb my intake at lunch and dinner. Party time? Better to eat before the party and have a little there than to not eat and have too much of the dip. Dip costs too much. A small   with spinach dip becomes cellulite in no time at all!

There is no magic pill yet. There is liposuction, but the strange thing is that the remaining fat cells will grow in strange areas to compensate for any weight gain. I knew one lady who had lipo on her back and thighs and buttocks then ended up with a fatty hunch back! Sexy!

The holidays are here. Eat, drink and be merry as long as you keep your calories to a manageable amount. Learn what you burn in a day and get those apps! Eat up on Christmas day and pass out with a full stomach. Just stay away from leftovers. I send mine out, never keeping them in the house. I am so shrewd!

No diet works unless you eat less and move more. Period.

Days 10 and 11: Goals, Trainers and Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Due to a Target foray I was unable to report on day nine. After a week and a half without a car, the scheduled trip to Target was exciting! Twelve ladies squeezed into the Biggest Loser van, and then we squeezed out and shopped. The ironic meeting place was at the tables…in the food court area. We all survived the smell of pop corn and the chocolate neatly displayed at the check-outs. I think we all enjoy the esprit de corps that comes with this place. We are all here for our health, our weight, ourselves. Yep, just a bunch of selfish ladies indulging in a bit of shopping!

The top of Camel Back, one of my goals!

Today we had our meeting again about goals. Everyday we should set a goal, think on it and then when we try to achieve the goal or reach it…we again ponder the goal. I did this all week. I chose a goal for specific classes or hikes. It has helped me push myself- remember, this isn’t television and no one is here to make us throw up! We are encouraged to push the limits, and a few of us do. My new friend from Australia (who is worried now how she is going to manage her vote for a new leader. In Australia, each citizen HAS to vote!) worked her tail off today literally. Everything she did today was in better form than before. At dinner she only managed a few very tired smiles. Here at Fitness Ridge you can purchase personal training time. She did that the last two days, as well as participating in the already rigorous schedule we have. inspiration from Down Under!!

We are told to tell a trainer what pushes our buttons to encourage us and become personal advocates. What works for me is when I hear my name. One girl likes to be yelled at. I don’t think that means they can call her a fatty fatty no-friends, but for her, the yelling gets her moving. Today the hardest class was treading. That is the cardio workout where you push for five minutes then rest for five, push for four, rest for four etc. The trainer told us it is designed to shock our bodies. I told her it was good payback because my body has been shocking me for years! Treading is to help a person who has reached a plateau, or wants to increase their stamina. It is a good heart exercise.

Hiking is fun!

Better view for how high we really were!

The trainers here are more than I imagined. Though none of them are Bob or Jillian, they are all as talented as them in my opinion. They are very professional. Every single trainer here is super fit- they are runners, iron man/woman athletes, and brilliant hikers. They are all uber-athletes! They do keep a professional distance. I like that. No one is trainer’s pet!

Fitness Ridge bases a lot on the daily hikes. This is when most of the calories are burned. We are transported every morning to a destination; usually a mountain, and we have to climb it. Tomorrow I am going back to Saddle Back- a tough climb the reward of being on top of the world. The views are spectacular and the calorie burn is the best. When we return from the hike we get to eat breakfast. Good idea to send seventy hikers out hungry and say they can eat once they finish their hill! Today I opted for the cereal because I LOVE CEREAL! Matt Hoover said we should be open to our experiences and try all of the new foods- I told him I have to get him out of my head when I order cereal. Thanks Matt!

The cereal here is a "party in my mouth!"

Tonight we had chocolate strawberries. It is heaven on a smaller plate. Two larger strawberries dipped in dep, dark, luscious chocolate. It was fun watching the room: No one left any chocolate on their plates. It was perfect, and after skewered pineapple twice in one week, I was ready for my strawberries. I hope when I leave the Ridge, I can still savor the smaller portioned desserts and meals. (Yes, dessert was mentioned first on purpose!)

See where it says "chocolate strawberries?"

I noticed a big change in my appearance last Saturday, but I am not seeing any changes this week. We are told that the body is a perfect calculator, and the energy in / energy expended will eventually show up with inches lost and weight loss. I am not weighing in until the last week. Numbers affect me, and if the calculator is slow I may not react kindly. Rumor has it that when many of the guests leave, their weight loss continues into the next week. So, my four weeks will spill over into five, and hopefully a lifetime!

Tomorrow is Friday… fun day. We get to dance and play games in the pool. There is a kickball game being organized..this is the life!