Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 30: The End, or Just the Beginning

I learned a lot from blogging daily for 30 days. Some of the lessons:

  • Blogging more often brings more visitors and comments and increases the sense of community. Staying connected inspires me.
  • is a great adjunct to a blog and allows for more spontaneous content.
  • Not every post has to be profound. Blogging more often has allowed me to experiment and play with different formats and different ideas. I'm having more fun.
  • I can't always predict which posts will resonate for readers. Sometimes a quick post is all it takes to generate discussion.
  • Photos are fun and I should take more and use them more in my posts.
  • Link-love posts are fun but they are also a lot of work.
  • Scheduling posts and blogging early are lifesavers on busy days.
  • I like daily blogging enough to keep it going for another month!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 29: Wordless Tuesday

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Monday, November 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 28: My Triggers

This exercise is also part of Reneé Stephens's"Motivation Makeover." I am supposed to list my trigger situations and foods in order of importance:

  1. Being unsure of when I will be able to eat a real meal next, especially when there is snack food around, is a big trigger for me. If I am hungry and nervous that I won't be eating for a while, I can feel the need to eat whatever is around, especially if it's tempting. Then I eat the meal too and feel stuffed.
  2. Snack foods, including most prepackaged salty snacks (chips, Bugles, everything from the -itos family) and candy, are big triggers for me. The more variety, the more of it I will want to eat.
  3. Social situations with food, especially, again, when there is a lot of variety.  If I am nervous about my potential interactions with the people there, the buffet table has a special allure.
  4. Grading papers or trying to write makes me think I need a snack.
  5. Being around foods I don't normally have available, like homemade desserts or other special treats, makes me want to "get it while I can."
  6. Feeling headachy, lightheaded, or dizzy.
  7. Feeling like I've "blown it" by eating too much, especially when I am following Weight Watchers or any other diet where I have a certain food allotment.  Once I am over limit, I seem to think it's a good idea to keep going.
  8. Being around other people who seem to be enjoying eating.
  9. Sharing food with someone, especially if that someone eats fast.
  10. Getting too hungry makes me have trouble controlling my food intake.
I have a lot of triggers.  I will be curious to see how to overcome these. Logic alone doesn't always seem to work.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 27: What Do I Want?

I pre-ordered Reneé Stephens's book, Full-Filled and went to her site to check out the supplemental materials. I thought it might be useful to do the "Motivation Makeover" exercises here. I have done some similar things here before, so please forgive me if this seems repetitive.

Day One: What Do You Want?

I want to feel calm and relaxed around food, no matter what the situation.

I especially want to relax when at family events instead of feeling compelled to eat.

I want to eat healthy food that makes my body feel good.

I want to enjoy fitness activities but not feel compulsive about my workouts.

I want to be able to wear tank tops and shorts to the gym and feel good about the way my arms and legs look.

I want to have a trim waist.

I want to be able to slip on clothes for any occasion and feel confident.

I want to learn how to deflect unwanted attention gracefully.

I want to have a great wardrobe of stylish, classic clothes that fit perfectly.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 26: Believing in My Program

My husband wouldn't really look at the Up & Running training plans when I was doing the program. After the race, I asked him about it. "I thought I would probably disagree with some of it, and that might have made you doubt it. The most important thing you can do when you're training is to believe in your program."

I keep thinking about that because I have not good at believing in my program, no matter what the program was, whether it was Weight Watchers (after the first time, at least), working on my dissertation, or training for most of my races. I have a glorious honeymoon period where everything seems terrific. Then I start thinking I am going to fail, and I start "managing expectations" by talking about how flawed the program is or explaining why it won't work. Then I start looking around for something else to do.

When I was working on my dissertation, I thought about quitting and getting certified to teach yoga instead, after more than five years of expensive coursework. The way I finally finished was to put myself on a structured program of writing for a certain amount of time every day, first thing in the morning in my pajamas. Before I could shower, brush my teeth, or get dressed, I had to put in my time.

I am still trying to find a program I can believe in for weight loss.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 25: Far From the Madding Crowd

I used to do the whole Black Friday shopping thing with my mom and my sisters. We always went to the mall, not to big-box stores. It was long enough ago that discount shopping was considered uncool, which means my last real Black Friday experience was sometime in the early '90s. We would hit the stores that had big giveaways and even go in and out different doors if the coupons were good enough.

Even then I never liked the crowds and the press of people, and most of the deals weren't that great. I never remember buying much. It was more about the experience of being out on the biggest shopping day of the year.

I worked an opening shift at a Target store one Black Friday. The shoppers pressed up against the doors almost didn't let me in. I seem to remember showing my red apron -- that memory is the only reason I think that I wore an apron sometimes when working there, maybe before they instituted the red-shirt-khakis "uniform."

I glanced at the sale papers yesterday but nothing really spoke to me. I played with my nephews, went out to lunch with my family, and then tried to go for a run. All the holiday food did not appreciate being jostled around and forced me to stop and walk instead. I saw a lot of happy-looking people and dogs at the park. No one seemed to be in the mood to pepper-spray anyone. It was a beautiful day not to be shopping.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 24: Thankful

If I hadn't goofed up yesterday, today would mark my 24th daily blog post in November. I have been enjoying blogging as a daily practice, and have also enjoyed the increase in traffic and comments generated by the flurry of activity stirred up by NaBloPoMo. When I started this blog, I never expected much traffic. I certainly didn't realize the feeling of community I would enjoy. I am very grateful to everyone who reads.

I have so many things to be grateful for this year. I have a wonderful family. My two furry friends are doing well despite the health problems earlier this year. My health has been mostly good. I have all of my basic needs met with a little left over for fun and for giving back. I have work I enjoy. I have learned a lot in the last year and hope to keep learning and growing.

Thanks again for reading!

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NaBloPoMo Day 23: Missed It

Totally forgot about blogging yesterday. I was doing so well, too.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 22: Happy Links

I'm late to blogging again tonight, so I thought I would share a few links that made me smile:


"I definitely had higher offers, but I accepted the one with the most promise," Diedrick said, adding that the sale "got everyone in town talking about the National, and did something we often forget: help someone realize a dream."

Ryan at NoMoreBacon decided to give up his shiny new iPhone 4S because his virtual life was interfering with his real life:

I use my voice and my eyes and my ears more now because instead of saying “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh” while refreshing my screen for the 98th time in the last 4 minutes, I’m actually looking at people and talking to them and you know what? People are pretty awesome. It’s the craziest thing!

Finally, with no quote since it's a comic, Basic Instructions explains how to overlook flaws.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 21: A Simple Run

Today I got to run outside with no agenda, no training plan. It was a good day!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Three Wishes

I an getting very sleepy but haven't blogged for today.

If you could have three wishes for you and you alone (with no "The Monkey's Paw" funny business), what would they be?

Mine would be:

1. To reach and maintain my goal weight through a healthy and enjoyable process and stay fit and healthy well into old age.

2. To get a "What Not to Wear"-style makeover.

3. To find a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in my life.

Yes, choosing #1 and #2 before #3 probably makes me shallow.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 19: A Great Race

I signed up for a "5K race" by the conference I just attended. It wasn't actually a race or a 5K. It was a roughly 3-mile run through city streets, completely untimed. I didn't even have a watch with me. I had fun, felt great, and got to run and talk with someone whose company I enjoyed.

That's my kind of race! Everyone wins.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 18: Good Luck and a Speedy Recovery

Jen at A Prior Fat Girl is having surgery today to remove excess loose skin from her incredible weight loss. She has posted pre-surgery photos(May be NSFW) in case you want to see why.

I have never met Jen but I have been reading her blog for quite some time. I just wanted to post a wish for a safe surgery and a speedy recovery. Good luck, Jen!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 17: Travel

I am leaving early this morning for a conference, so this post was actually written late Wednesday night. Scheduling is such a wonderful blog feature!

I was thinking about how so many fitness gurus do tips on coping with travel when you are trying to follow a healthy eating and exercise plan. That's rarely a big concern of mine. Sure, sometimes I miss a workout or have a big restaurant dinner. Let's be honest, though, those things can just as easily happen at home.

Here's my strategy: I pack workout clothes and plan to get in at least one workout in the hotel gym (in this case I'm actually running a 5K). I get in lots of walking when I'm traveling in a city because I hate paying for cabs. I don't use being out of town as a cue to totally abandon everything I've ever learned about healthy eating.

More often than not, I find it easier to stay on track away from home, because I don't have a fridge and pantry filled with food, do boredom eating is not an option.

I also try to remember that conference cookies never are as good as they look. Seriously, they are usually terrible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 16: Living in the Now

I had a long talk with my husband about my "Never Good Enough" feelings.  I read something (sorry, not published, so no link) talking about consumerism in relationships and it made me realize that this is where my fears come from.  I have this belief system that if you somehow fail to live up to someone's expectations for you, they can just replace you, like they would a lamp that didn't work or a mobile phone that had just been made obsolete by a newer and shinier model.

Just talking about it out loud made me realize how crazy it sounded, but at the same time, there is a lot of cultural support for consumerism. When I looked for links on "Consumerism and Relationships," I found an article explaining how Boomers' values are changing from a consumerist mentality to a focus on relationships.  Nice, I thought. Then I clicked on a link and it was an article about how certain retailers could market to this new group of values-conscious boomers:
“This study unveiled that baby boomers feel vulnerable as significant events have emotionally affected their lives, due to aging, home equity and investments disappearing, and global competition. These values shifts have created a new consumer niche that can provide business opportunities for some.” 
Health spas and real estate opportunities were some of the industries that could capitalize on this new "values trend."  It probably isn't surprising that this mentality has leaked into my psyche if even a return to more relationship-centered thinking is a marketing opportunity.

So how to combat my self-doubts? A couple of things. Talking about it helped, as did posting and getting such great, supportive, and empathetic comments.  I also remembered Geneen Roth's recommendation to focus on inhabiting the body instead of looking critically at it as if from outside.  

Karen's post on anxiety today also helps, because it reminds me that I shouldn't focus on trying to eradicate these feelings like a weed so that I never feel them again, as if I could "fix" a deeply-rooted and irrational fears by rational means.
“Never again” is not possible.
It is possible to acknowledge the feelings and move through them, as Shauna suggested:
,,,when that kind of defensiveness pops up, I can observe it in a bemused I see what're you doing there kind of way, then move on.
Getting outside, getting work done, getting on with it is really the only way to go. The more I am actually out doing things and the less I'm sitting home worrying about them, the better I seem to feel.  Just because I have bad feelings once in a while does not mean I have to set up my home inside them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 15: One Interesting Result

I got the printed copy of my test results yesterday and there was one interesting thing after all: My estrogen levels were low. I looked up the symptoms of low estrogen and they are some of the things that have been bugging me: Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and even weight gain.

About two or three years ago, a doctor switched me from Demulen, the Pill I had been using for years to Loestrin. I don't know why. But the other pill was a little higher in estrogen, so I am curious to see if switching back might make a difference, at least with the hot flashes and night sweats. I sent my doctor a message asking if we could try. I hope she says yes.

I'm still going to do what I can on my end, but if changing something small like that could help, it's worth a shot.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 14: Never Good Enough

Remember how I said I put down all the self-criticism and worry and fear during my race on Sunday? Well, the thing that I didn't tell you yesterday is that it's pretty easy to pick it all back up again. I went to the Up & Running forums and saw that everyone else had run their race faster than me. Sure, someone has to be last, but I didn't want it to be me. "Never Good Enough" is so much a part of me that I can't seem to let go of it for long. It's like a Velcro boomerang, always coming back and sticking to me again.

There are a lot of reasons this could be. I could blame my parents' high expectations for me. I could blame my husband, who has a tendency to be critical of himself and others and has said some unintentionally (I hope) cruel things to me over our many years together. I could blame the girl at the race yesterday who handed me a large men's t-shirt and looked doubtful when I said I wanted a women's sized shirt, which I could see right behind her. I really think that this feeling is part of the human condition, and I may be a little more prone to it than others, or I just don't know what other people are thinking all of the time and unfortunately, it's hard to escape my own thoughts. I also feel like other people expect it from me, that they are silently agreeing with me even as they say, "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself."

One thing, though, is that I am really tired of it.  I am almost 41 years old and I don't feel like I've ever stopped wishing I could change almost everything about me. Every race I do is a letdown because I should have done better. Every time I weigh myself the number on the scale is too high. All my attempts to "fix" myself are wearing me out.  But short of having a stroke, I'm not sure how to make that nagging voice in my head shut up.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 13: Finished my 10K

This definitely was not one of the best or most fun races I ever did, but it's over. I did the Wellness in the Woods: Battelle-Darby Creek 10K and finished in 1:22:56.  The course was hilly and was mostly on rough limestone-gravel paths, and it felt a little long to me, but maybe because it was so weirdly marked. I passed two "Mile 1" markers, two "Mile 2" markers, two "Mile 3" markers, a 5K turnaround, a "Mile 4," "Mile 5," and "Mile 6" marker.  If you count all those, the course was just over 9 miles, and that's about how it felt.

When I saw the "Mile 4" marker, I realized that I was actually much further from the finish than I thought, and I felt a bit demoralized.  I had already taken a couple of walk breaks (up some of the bigger hills) and I was losing steam. I had not remembered to start my stopwatch, but it was already 50 minutes after the race was supposed to have started and I knew I was going to do the next 2.2 slower than I did the last 4 miles.

Then I heard my own voice in my head saying, "I don't have to carry that stuff anymore." By that stuff, I meant the miles I had already run that felt slow and lousy, the miles coming up that were also probably going to be slow, my expectations for the race, my disappointment in my weight gain... I had a lot of baggage in my head.  I decided to drop it all and just treat it like I was going for a run in the park. I had no one in sight ahead of me or behind me (this was a very small race and most of the field was much faster than me) so I really was just on a run by myself. I focused on running straighter and taller and lighter on my feet. I still ended up taking a lot of walk breaks, especially on the hills.

I did accomplish one major goal: I finished this race without my toe pain flaring up even once while I was running. I am glad I did all that physical therapy, too, because the rough stones required a lot of ankle flexibility. I think I just didn't have enough endurance for this challenging course. I had much more fun training for it with the Up & Running program than I did actually running it.

The one major regret I have is that at Mile 5, I put down my Glider Gloves, planning to go back for them. I ended up being too tired to go get them.  I loved those gloves and wish I had not worn them for this race since I had no pockets to put them in when I got too warm.  My review of those gloves is still one of my most-visited posts, and when I Google "glider gloves review" my post is the first one that turns up.  The upside to losing them is that I now have an excuse to buy some purple ones. When I wear them with the new green jacket (with pockets) that I bought today on the way home, I'll match my blog.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 12: What Next?

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and we talked about how crummy I have been feeling lately. I have been tired and feeling down, and even had a couple of what felt like hot flashes. I thought maybe my thyroid levels were off, since I'm taking Synthroid for Hashimoto's.

She ran a bunch of tests. I got a thyroid panel, including T3, an iron test, and a test to see if I'm starting menopause early. Everything was normal.

I should feel relieved but I'm stuck on this question: What now? How can I start moving toward feeling better and losing weight again?

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 11: 11 Links for 11/11/11

I thought I'd celebrate today's date (11/11/11) by sharing 11 links. Some made me think, some helped me to learn something new, and some just plain made me happy (see #1)

1. "" by The Flickr Blog. 
Amazing pictures. If you only pick one link to click in this post, click this one.
2. "The Last Twenty Pounds" by Refuse to Regain:
What I've learned is that the biggest problem with weight loss is the perception that it's somehow done when the scale registers a certain number.  As this blog has reiterated ad nauseum, initial weight loss is simply the price we pay for admission to the rest of a newly designed life with food.  Once your body has stopped losing, it may well be time to start working on maintenance.  Since you are going to vastly change the way you eat and move around, and since this is going to be a lifelong project, there is no hurry.  Many people continue to lose as they learn to maintain.  Perhaps that will be the better way to go.  I know that this is anathema to those who want to be done...and for whom done means a particular number on the scale.  To them I gently say, "What's the hurry? You've done wonderfully well and you have a lifetime to figure out your final equilibration."
3. "" by The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl:
 One side-effect of regained poundage has been the occasional return of paranoia that instructors will think larger = rubbish. But at least these days when that kind of defensiveness pops up, I can observe it in a bemused I see what're you doing there kind of way, then move on. And channel it into a good abdominal workout!
4. "Embracing Imperfection" by  Weightless:
I assumed that if I were model-thin, I’d be popular, successful, happy and no one would ever want to hurt me or criticize me. Why would they? I’d be perfect.
But in reality, striving for perfection creates empty shells of ourselves. And what would the world look like if that were the case?
 5. "Does the HAES Approach Mean I'm Giving Up?" by healthateverysizeblog
In a world of “get everything you ever wanted by following my ten easy steps, five point plan or three rules” the Health At Every Size approach offers subtlety and complexity.  The HAES approach means that people have to honor their own bodies and seek to find their own rules.   And the markers for success aren’t as clear-cut.  There’s no “after” picture.  There’s no goal weight victory party.  And for a culture that is obsessed with winning at all costs, this is also a sacrifice.
6.   "" by Lynn's Weigh
Comfort food – when used in moderation, and particularly when it’s shared with people we love (Thanksgiving and mashed potatoes, anyone?) – is OK. Dump the guilt! God knows I spent years during my weight loss/maintenance feeling guilty for eating food that soothed my soul. I’m so over that.  
 7.   "New Low (By a Teeny Bit)" by Helly's Belly
I have been shopping a few times the past few weeks -- determined to buy things that don't just fit, but look good on me too. It has been hard -- I am used to buying something if it fits and I like the color or style regardless of how it looks on ME. I have now gotten three new dresses that fit those criteria and have started wearing my older smaller work clothes again (so they feel like new) and I feel pretty this week. Feeling pretty feels good. My mood is fantastic. :-)
8.  "Thoughts v. Actions" by A Place in the Family of Things
Have you ever looked around at your life and been suddenly struck by the fact that it doesn’t match up at all with your priorities?
Okay, maybe “at all” is an exaggeration. But this much is true: what I value isn’t reflected by the choices I make every day. 
9. "Safe at this Size" by Life of L
 I don't feel obese anymore.  Size 12 is average.  I am still overweight, but I can run and lift weights and hold my body weight in pilates.  I'm not eating sugar or processed foods as my main meals (although my nights are still a problem as far as that goes).  My husband likes the way I look.  And I feel good. 
But all that combined isn't the true, deep down reason for staying this weight.  The real reason is that I feel SAFE at this size. 
Nobody comments on my body or my clothes.  Nobody asks if I've lost weight.  Nobody asks me about diets or exercise or "what's your secret?" 
At this size, I'm still invisible. 
10. "The Dawn Breaks" by Knit. Run. Reap. Eat.
I love my house early in the morning. Actually I love my house anytime, but at this hour of the day, when the sun is creeping up over the eastern mountains and the western ones are still dark silhouettes against the sky, it's just dreamy and lovely and still and quiet and perfect. And I love it.

There's so much promise in the dawn. Anything could happen today – I could even predict some of the events which will certainly break this early-morning stillness – but right now it's calm and peaceful and pretty.
 11. "Inspired to Write About Inspiration" by I Face the Sun
You can be inspired, but stories do take cultivation, and I know I’m not the best gardener. In a real garden, if you get annoyed with maintaining the plants, you can choose to just let them run wild and it might look wonderful. With stories, if you don’t maintain them and care for them, they don’t do anything. They don’t die, but they don’t bloom either....stories are everywhere. Anything that settles in your heart and won’t leave is a potential story.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 10: Fat People Know They're Fat

Tricia's "I'm Hurting For You" post yesterday really made me stop and think. Judging from the 64 comments (and counting) on that post, it touched a nerve for a lot of people.  She asks why, when she was 278 pounds, none of her family and friends talked to her about her weight:
Did I know I was fat? Absolutely yes! 
Did I need someone to tell me? Emphatically yes!
Oh sure, it wasn't going to be new information for me. I KNEW I was obese. I knew exactly how much I needed to lose to be considered only "overweight" and I knew to the pound how much I needed to lose to be considered "healthy". With a past in healthcare I knew all the co-morbidity's.
I had all the text book information but dammit I needed someone who LOVED me to tell me I was out of control. To show they cared, to acknowledge the issue, to do SOMETHING. Every bite was a cry for help, help I never received. 
My first thought was how lucky she was.  When I was in my twenties and at my highest weight, the number one thing on my mind at all times was my weight.  Not only was I depressed and demoralized by how large I had gotten, I was constantly worried that someone would say something to me about it yet again, and that I would have to explain that I was trying to lose weight, it just wasn't working very well.  I could count on at least one lecture from my father every time I saw him about how "if I were young, I would never let myself get fat," and almost every time I saw one of my sisters, I would get hints that Weight Watchers had worked really well for them. At the time I was resentful and panicky at the thought of these conversations.

Tricia's post aside, fat people know that they are fat.  They may be in denial, which is a constant effort to surpress that knowledge and try to do whatever they can to keep other people from noticing, but they know it. All the tips on "dressing slim," suggesting that if you wear the right size earrings, no one will notice the size of your butt, are an attempt to hide from the kinds of conversations that Tricia seems to be saying that she needed.

Later in the post, though, I think she gets to the heart of the issue. She didn't want someone to acknowledge that she was fat, she wanted someone to acknowledge that she was hurting inside.
The dirty little secret behind being morbidly obese is you don’t get that way simply because you like food, you get that way because you're hurting over something. You aren't feeding your body, lord knows you don't actually need that much food, you're feeding your hurt. I know that better than most. So while weight is a symptom, I’m really addressing the hurt. ...I see you, I acknowledge there is a problem. I'm hurting because I know you're hurting. I love you and I'm here to help you in any way I can. 
I can relate to that.  I remember in those hopeless days the feelings that if I could only fix my weight problem, everything else would be better.  I would berate myself for ever letting myself get so big, and I felt helpless to change the situation.  When I look back on that time in my life, though, food was the only way I knew how to cope with some pretty big problems that I didn't have the skills to handle.  If someone could have reached out to me then with a willing ear and maybe some ideas on how to work on the bigger picture, I might have felt gratitude.

Instead, they talked about diets and exercise, and all I felt was resentment.

I would like to tell the readers who saw Tricia's post and felt empowered to confront the fat people in their lives that if they do, they should be ready to help with big, hairy, ugly issues.  And I'm not talking about the person in question's thighs.  The problems they have are probably directly proportional to the amount of excess weight they are carrying, and unless you're ready to really hear and help them handle those bigger issues, you should probably just forget it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 8: Why Can't I Love Beets (or Squash)?

One of the things about joining a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) is you get what you get. In the middle of summer, you tend to get exciting things like blueberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, and green onions.  Toward the end of the season, though, it's mostly squash and beets, with a few potatoes and greens.

I was a picky eater as a kid, and as a young adult, the vegetables I would eat could be counted on my fingers: Tomatoes, corn, carrots, celery, lettuce, and the occasional pepper or cucumber.  That was pretty much it. My first attempt at a real, actual diet was (God help me) Richard Simmons's Food Mover program, which I bought from an infomercial at a very weak moment.  I am still a little ashamed and no, I don't think I have it anymore.  To be honest, I kind of wish I did.  The hardest thing about that diet for me was that it required eating so many vegetables. If you look at my list of acceptable veggies, you can see why this was such a problem.

Later in life I learned to like more veggies. I thank Chef Kathleen, Weight Watchers, and CSAs for opening my eyes to the wider world of produce. However, I still sometimes have a visceral "yuck" reaction to certain veggies, even if I actually like the food in question.

Exhibit A: Beets.  Just last week I made a gorgeous salad with roasted beets marinated in balsamic vinegarette.  They were delicious and the salad was delicious. I had a lot of beets leftover, so I put them in a jar that my friend had given me the week before filled with stewed apples. My husband wouldn't eat them (even though he liked the salad too).  I somehow couldn't make myself eat any more of them, so I gave the jar full of beets back to my friend.  She loved them.  I then made beets to take to her potluck (along with homemade hummus, which was a hit).  I left the leftover beets there.  I don't think it was too much of a secret that I was dumping the beets. I don't really understand it, because I did like them, but there was some sort of a mental block for me in the idea of eating them again.

I feel the same way, though to a much lesser extent, about squash. I still have several pounds of squash left from my CSA, and though I have found many squash recipes I like, including Roasted Acorn Squash (I like to put pecans in mine), this gorgeous gnocchi recipe (pictured here with salmon and a spinach salad) and pumpkin bread (substituting roasted mashed squash for the canned pumpkin), I just don't feel excited about cooking a bunch more squash.

The problem could be any of a number of things. Both of these veggies take substantial prep time even before I can use them in recipes. They are messy. With squash, there is the matter of hacking them apart and scraping out the seeds (though I love them roasted) With beets, there is the bleeding, even after they are roasted.

I think mostly, though, that as much as the new part of me wants to be SuperFitHealthyWoman, the older part of me is still the kid in the big coke-bottle glasses looking at the veggies and thinking "yuck." Maybe instead I could have a plate of plain spaghetti with butter (in the early days I would not eat tomato sauce).  Squash and beets may be nutritious, they may even be delicious, but for me they're still not comfort food.

Monday, November 07, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 7: Being an Informed Voter

In the U.S., tomorrow is Election Day. Many states, like Ohio, had early voting, so many people have already cast their ballots.

This is an "off-year" election, meaning there are no presidential candidates or even statehouse candidates on our ballots, but there are some pretty big issues (Ohio Issue 2 has gotten a lot of national attention but 3 is also important. I'm voting no on both.). There are also plenty of local levies and some smaller offices like school board members on the ballot.

Finding local ballot information in an off year can be tricky. I found a good source for explanations of Ohio statewide issues, but finding local races is harder. I look at the Democratic party ticket, but I would prefer to have unbiased information about the candidates' positions on important issues.  These can be hard to come by.  I always check out our local paper's voter guide, but the paper has some deep biases, so I don't tend to give much weight to their endorsements. In bigger election years, Project Vote Smart and the League of Women Voters sites are good resources.

One place I never get information is from campaign ads or those robocalls that try to tell me what I should think.  I tend to let my home phone go to voice mail this time of the year.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 6: Create Jobs for the USA

I live in the Toledo, Ohio metro area. My hometown is near Detroit, and the economy was built on automotive, glass, and other heavy manufacturing industries. That meant people here already been struggling for years with fewer and fewer job opportunities when the official economic downturn hit.  Things seem pretty bleak. In suburban areas not built for pedestrians, I see more and more people walking along busy streets with no sidewalks, presumably because they have lost their cars (or have too many DUIs, also potentially related to the downturn). I see a lot of cars parked along the streets with "For Sale" signs in the windows, and I see even more "For Sale" signs in front of houses that look like they've been vacant for quite a while. I know quite a few people who are on public assistance for the first time in their lives, people who never expected to need that kind of help.

In the face of a Congress that seems more intent on scoring political points than helping the economy, things feel a little hopeless. I really was happy to see Starbucks team up with the Opportunity Finance Network to create a new jobs initiative. Starbucks is seeding a jobs fund that will go to small community lenders to help fund small business projects that wouldn't interest bigger banks, but that could help make a difference on a local level:
Beginning November 1st, you may donate to this fund through the website, or at Starbucks, and 100% of your donation will go directly to the fund. Donors who contribute $5 or more will receive a red, white and blue wristband with the message “Indivisible.” The really cool thing about this is that every $5 donation will result in $35 in financing to support community businesses, because the local lenders will issue $30 in financing, on average, for each $5 donation -- every $3,000 in donations creates or saves a job. You can read all about it on the Web site.
The website says that the wristbands are American-made, which means that they are already helping to create some jobs. More details about the manufacture of the wristbands are posted

BlogHer is helping to promote this project, and as a BlogHer member, I am happy to help get the word out. I have seen some cynical comments on news stories about the effort criticizing the effort for being too small or for being funded by a for-profit company. However, I think that it's about time that some entity decided to start the conversation about what can be done to start getting people back to work. The effort reminds me of KivaCity, which also seeks to make a difference through small business loans.  The great thing about the Starbucks initiative is that the marketing power behind one of the USA's most successful brands will now be promoting the idea of community action.  I can't see how that can be anything but positive.

For more information, go to the website, visit , or follow on twitter.

I think tomorrow sounds like a good day to splurge on a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a wristband. I can wear the wristband when I vote on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 5: Well-Meaning Thin People

Today is the last day to sign up to be a part of NaBloPoMo. Click the link at right to sign up for the blogroll and be eligible for prizes.

I thought I'd write today about some things said and done by well-meaning thin people that have triggered me lately. I know that most people mean well, and I am equally sure that I unintentionally hurt people way more often than I realize, so please understand that I am not blaming the people involved for the way I feel.  These are just things that I have noticed lately that make me realize that I need to either change the way I feel about myself, change my weight, or both. I appreciate my body for all it does for me, but it's kind of like driving around in a reliable, beat-up old Chevy.  You're happy it gets you around, but you wince a little if you see someone looking at it too closely.  I have tried talking myself out of those feelings, but the part of me that feels this way doesn't seem to listen to reason.

I was inspired to do this post after yoga today. The (buff, male) instructor was trying to help show me how to do a challenging pose (Eagle).  He wanted me to let him support my weight while I tried to position my body correctly.  I realized that it was very hard to do this partly because I was afraid he might drop me and partly because I didn't want him to realize how heavy I am.  I feel really sad that I walk around feeling like this all the time.  Then I thought about some of the other things lately that have gotten to me.

"If your husband loves you the way you are, why should you worry?"

This was said by a gorgeous, curvy friend who wears a size 4 (yes, you can be curvy and slim. Unfair?).  First of all, of course, there is my not-so-secret fear that my husband is, daily, comparing me to all of the thinner and more beautiful women around, even if he says he loves me the way I am. And secondly, the reason I want to be thinner is not to attract men, but to feel more "normal" and be able to get dressed without anxiety.

"No, stay behind the desk."

Recently we had a faculty photo shoot (I never thought modeling would be part of this job) and I was getting photographed for a brochure.  The photographer had me in front of the staged classroom, doing something on the computer.  He said, "Pretend to teach," so I asked if I should step out in front.  "No, stay behind the desk," he said.  The other (thinner) faculty members were photographed walking around the classroom. It reminded me of how Carnie Wilson was always behind the piano in every Wilson Phillips music video.

"Have you ever thought about Weight Watchers?"

I am pretty sure that overweight people are much more aware of the existence of Weight Watchers than most thin people are, but I got this from my amazing, tiny Pilates instructor.  I tried to explain that not only had I tried it, I did it off and on since 2002 and am even "Lifetime." She didn't seem to understand how I had so much trouble with it.  I don't know that I understand either.

"I really need to lose weight"

I saved this for last because it's the real hall-of-famer. When someone who is much smaller than I am goes on and on about everything that's wrong with their body and talks about various diets they might try, it makes me want to cry.  I understand that they very probably do want to lose weight, but it feels like they are calling me out by default. If I am larger than you and you don't think you're acceptable, where does that leave me? And I realize that by putting this in writing, I may be triggering my blog readers. Really, you are fine. I am just not happy with me, which is probably what the Well-Meaning Thin Person would tell me if I asked.

I don't have only bad experiences, and I don't walk around feeling bad in my body all the time. That's why I noticed it today, because it's not how I feel the majority of the time.

When I was getting evaluated by my male physical therapist, he had to look at my spine. I said, "I feel really self-conscious of my back fat." He said, "Don't be, I like back fat!" in a way that made me smile. Maybe the thing to do in some of the situations with people I trust would be to be honest when I'm feeling upset, but I'm not sure I want to admit to the way I feel.  It is bad enough that I know about it.

Friday, November 04, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 4: Movie Night

I just got back from seeing The Rum Diary, which is based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson. I haven't read Thompson's work and embarrassed to say that most of what I thought I knew about him was based on the Doonsbury character Uncle Duke. Though his alcohol and drug abuse gets a lot of the attention, it seems like his political stance was what really would have made Thompson controversial.

There is also some gorgeous scenery, both Puerto Rico and Johnny Depp in 50s hipster wear. It doesn't look like the critics liked it, but I did, even though the only female character was a one-dimensional Barbie Doll thrown in to sex up things a bit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, November 03, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 3: Already Out of Words?

I have tried to write two blog posts so far, and both of them disappeared into the ether when my blogging client on my iPad crashed.  I thought I'd try the regular computer.  I am feeling a bit Wordless, even though it's not Wednesday. After a relatively mild fall, we had a pretty dreary and cold fall day, making me nostalgic for summer, so I thought I'd share a few photos from my "summer pics" file:

Fourth of July over Lake Erie

Tarot reader at the French Quarter in New Orleans

Happy kitties relaxing on the porch

Luna Pier sunrise

Gorgeous CSA veggies, before it was all just squash and beets

Nuclear sunrise after a stifling night tent camping on Kelley's Island

I really do miss summer. Fall is beautiful, but it reminds me what is coming next:


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 2: Diner's Remorse

I had a busy day today and had just over an hour to post on November 2. I was feeling stuck, so I looked at today's prompt:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

This is a nightmare scenario for me. Every time I sit down in a restaurant, I study the menu obsessively so I can order the best possible thing on it. If I choose something I don't really like, I feel deep regret that I missed out on something better. Even worse, if someone else at my table orders something that looks better than I have, I am jealous.


So the result is that sometimes I panic and order a random assortment of items, and sometimes I get menu paralysis and can't make up my mind.

A last meal situation would take my normal dining-out experience and multiply it by 1,000. I would want to order something with avocado, because I love that. I might want chocolate, because I always do. I would want some really great bread...

I think I would probably order the last best meal I had, a broken yolk sandwich with bacon and avocado from Patachou in Indianapolis. I had them add tomato. I didn't try it when I was there, but if it was my last meal, I'd definitely try the hot French chocolate.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 1: Back from Indianapolis!

I just got back from two nights in Indianapolis. My room at the Sheraton had no free wi-fi (barbaric!) but did have a lovely view of Monument Circle.

I spent way too much time sitting in the car on the way there and sitting in conference sessions. I also had some run-ins with conference and restaurant foods that were not the best for my plan.

I did do a lot of walking in Indianapolis and also got up early this morning and hit the elliptical. My feet were already too sore for the treadmill. I did my best to stay hydrated and to make good food choices when I could.

I'm very happy to be home where there is free wi-fi but the tables loaded with muffins and cookies are nowhere to be found. I will weigh in tomorrow and see how I did.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07