Friday, September 29, 2006

Lady Liberty is crying

My heart is broken. We have lost so much of who we are as a nation in the last five years. This says it better than I can; read it and weep with me. And if you can bear more details about the bill and voting, it's here.

"Today, tears would flow down the olive robe of the Statue of Liberty if she were human.

"But she is just an inanimate symbol. We are the ones who have to cope with the pain of a democracy destroyed in a political play for power and permanent one-party rule, which is not a Constitutional form of government. That is called a dictatorship.

"And the one thing in common with dictators through history, whether Communist or fascist, is their state-sanctioned ability to torture people at will. . . . With the law passed on September 28th by Congress, we have become the Republic of torture. We not only have lost our claim to be a civilizing force among nations and abandoned our Constitution, we have appeased the terrorists by doing so . . .

"We are only beginning to grieve for the great beacon of democracy and justice that we lost yesterday."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Day in the Life

Found this at Bring it On! Not about weight, but I love it (and my politics are showing):


Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly- man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation costs because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the country would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state-funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax- payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.

The house didn’t have electricity until some big- government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberals made sure Dad could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have.”-

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Reading this morning (avoiding work, but this find was a gift, so well worth it), I came across a post from Skinny Sara in which she talks about the moment she made the decision to lose weight and get healthy. It's a beautiful post and put me in mind of something in the AA Big Book (what doesn't? I've thought about that, I refer to it so much, but then I realized that it's a book about life and so it makes sense.)

Anyway, Sara writes that it wasn't enough that her weight ~ at close to 400 pounds ~ was killing her, that she was suffocating and struggling to breathe, that her swollen feet were cracking and finding shoes was an impossibility. The thing that got her was when someone she respected asked her offhandedly about whether or not her weight had impeded her success in business.

In answering that question, Sara came to this: "Every bite of food I’d shoved into my mouth, every moment I’d given up, every place I hadn’t gone, and every experience I’d avoided because my overweight body made it too difficult or even impossible to contemplate, was my own fault. It was a realization long overdue, and one that could have been fraught with self-pity and sent me spiraling deeper into hopeless despair. Instead, it was the first glimmer of hope I’d felt in years. After the words were spoken, it made perfect sense to me: If the life I was living and the body I was living it in were a direct result of my own choices, if I had done this to myself, if the fault was my own, that meant that the power to change it was also mine. . . . And that was it. That was the moment I decided that I could do this. So I am."

That speaks to me on so many levels, thank you Sara. And it takes me to that phrase in the Big Book that is the essence of freedom: "So our problems, we think, are basically of our own making." That is a freedom because if I am in charge and my problems are my own, then I am free to make changes. If my problems are the result of some other, some outside circumstance, some other place, something else, then I am powerless to effect a change.

If I got myself here ~ not my sad childhood or abuse or mistreatment or genetics or this or that or any of the myriad of reasons why we end up overweight ~ then I can get myself out. No excuses, no blame, just responsibility and action. Of course the past and our life experiences play into it, but the bottom line is all of that is over. What am I going to do today? Am I going to eat and put it off one more day? Or will I make decisions today that will lead me to a healthy fit future? I got myself here. I did it. That means I can change it. And like Sara, I am.

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Oprah speaks

Love her or hate her (I love her because I am her, minus a few billion $$), Oprah speaks to my heart when she talks about her struggles with weight, spirituality, finding a way to live successfully without excess food:

"I was standing on the front porch of my new home in California, the one I've worked on for three years as a gift to myself. I was looking at the mountains folding over on themselves and my yard filled with oak, pine, and redwood trees, thinking how this property is really graced by God, a promised land, and I suddenly said to myself: I do not want to be an unhealthy fat person standing in the doorway of this beautiful house. . . .

"So after many years of my weight going up and down—of saying on Monday 'I'm going to do it' and by Wednesday failing—I realized that the commitment to do well and to be well is a lifetime of choices that you make daily. The space to live in is not 'I'll try.' Not 'I want to.' Not 'I really want to.' It's 'I have decided.' . . .

"I've known all of this intellectually for a while, but last year the click came as an emotional and spiritual awakening. Now I live straight through the center of myself, which means telling the truth about everything. No more games. Every day I make the choice to live as well as I possibly can. And that starts with exercise. I do not have the genetics or the body type to function without it. So I stopped vacillating between 'Maybe I'll work out' and 'Maybe I'll take the day off.' I do it the way I bathe. And guess what: I do not hate it anymore. Don't get me wrong—you won't see me jumping up and down going, 'Oh, jeez, exercise is great,' but I no longer dread it. And that is nothing less than a revolution. . .

"With food, what works for me is treating refined and processed carbohydrates as though they are poison. . . . The biggest imbalance for many of us, though, is in the amount of thought we devote to food and weight. If I could add up the time I've spent worrying about what I just ate and what I shouldn't have just eaten, feeling guilty about it, and getting down on myself about why I'm not where I want to be, it would probably be several years of my life. And you can't get those years back. . . .

"I am not wasting any more time. And by no longer dwelling on all of these negative thoughts, I have opened up a whole new energy field for myself. It's amazing. I feel as if I'm living on a higher frequency, a stronger, brighter charge. The voltage got turned up. People stop me all the time and ask, 'What have you done to look so different?' This is the answer. . . .

"I want you to think about why you're overweight. But let me save you a lot of time: The reason you're fat is that you give more to other people than you give to yourself, because you don't feel you're worth it. The bottom line is, you cannot lose weight until you make yourself enough of a priority to do the things you need to do to make it happen. People always say, 'I'm too busy to exercise,' 'I have to be there for the kids,' 'I've got too much work.' You know what? These are little lies you're telling yourself, and they go against the laws of self-preservation, because the more whole and healthy you are, the more fully you can give to other people. And that's the truth. I'm not asking anyone to abandon her children. I'm just saying: Put yourself at the top of the list so you can treat your body with as much care and respect as you'd give to someone else's—and when anyone needs something from you, you will be operating from a full cup."

The whole thing is here. Love it.

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Clear it out!

I love this post from the blog Angry Fat Girlz: "Celebrate Discardia!" What's Discardia? And why does it deserve its own holiday?

Beyond the fact that finding things to celebrate is a fine way to live life, "Discardia is a floating holiday to celebrate letting go and it takes place in the time between the Solstices & Equinoxes and their following new moons. . . . Letting go of physical stuff is one big part of Discardia, the visual aspect that is very therapeutic. We AFG's can take a cue from it and take advantage of this holiday to clean out a closet or our dressers as we turn over our clothes for the new season. I weed out the the things that are too big and can be donated or that fit or are too small but I don't really like and wouldn't wear even if I could get into them. I go through the shoes, too, and look at what I've worn and what boxes are starting to get dusty from disuse. Pull them out and get rid of them!"

This divine idea, which reminds me of one-half of the reason I started this writing exercise (simplicity), comes from this blog: Discardia . . . let it go.

As an antiques dealer with thousands of feet of warehouse space stacked to the rafters and a home which reflects years of loving antiques and decorating and collecting, it's daunting to consider how to "let go," but the urge is upon me. I want to clear out, make way, get free of the stuff that ties me down. It's not fun any longer and I want out from under it. This is great motivation to let go.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

God / The Universe / The Light /

This was left in response to a recent post and I wanted to throw it out here because I love the way Lynn from the blog My Mixed Company writes. I had asked about her weight loss/fitness program and she wrote:

". . . And grateful am I, yes. Being grateful is motivation, moving your body is better than a prayer, it is using what God/The Light/The Universe whatever you believe in, gave you and with joy."

I love that: "using what God/The Light/The Universe whatever you believe in, gave you and with joy." Is there anything better? And what a gift! I was at the gym this afternoon doing 30 minutes on the elliptical and the euphoria that rises up in me near completion has to be of God / The Light / The Universe. Using this gift of a strong, healthy body, more fit than I've ever been ~ well, it's a thrill, to say the least.

Lynn writes beautifully and evocatively about her life and being young and living in New York. She has a way with words that's of "God / The Light / The Universe." Perhaps you'll drop by and visit her.

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I'd heard about these places, internet groups and chat rooms where those suffering from "ana" (anorexia) and "mia" (bulimia) can find support and encouragement to pursue the illness, tips from others on how best to purge, the best exercise to quickly compensate for eating a 50 calorie salad, how to hide desperate eating habits and extreme weight loss from loved ones. In response to a post here, I looked up some of these places and I am just stunned.

One of the dangers of the internet, in my opinion, is the fact of being able to find a community of likeminded souls and to find folks in sufficient numbers to be able to convince oneself that some very destructive behaviors are actually quite normal. I think of the many sites devoted to pre-school "modeling," in which lunatic parents post seductive photos of their children for the enormous internet community of "child love" afficionados (previously known to us as child molesters before huge numbers of these dangerous individuals got together and normalized their sickness). This is, of course, also one of the benefits of the internet ~ at least being able to find a community of likeminded souls is a benefit when the reason for coming together is healthy and positive. Using such a group to justify behaviors that are deadly or destructive or harmful to others is the danger.

This stuff made me feel physically ill. There is so much opportunity in our society to feel less than, unworthy, not good enough. The common thread on the pro-ana sites I visited was self hatred. It took me back to the worst years of my eating disorder, when I was so appearance obsessed and filled with self condemnation that it was purely a misery to live in my own skin. I was actually pretty thin, but I don't think there was a more miserable woman in existence.

My weight and my Self are two different things. Many years I confused the two, discounting any positive thing about me because of the number on the scale. Even external events ~ graduating with honors, a promotion, a success of any kind ~ were celebrated or not dependent upon my size. It's very odd that at my top weight I had fully separated the two and the weight, through horrifying and near-crippling, was not impacting my positive view of myself. I don't mean I liked it: I hated it. But I didn't think my weight made me bad or unworthy or not good enough.

I know the change happened through years of 12 step work, counseling, positive retraining of my thinking, but I've never felt so profoundly grateful for it until I read these sad, tragic, heart-breaking people who are pro-ana.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not hungry

I don't know how many times I'll have to learn this, but the fewer carbs I eat, the less hunger I experience. (Fewer? Less? Wish I actually knew that grammatical rule.) I've looked back through MyFoodDiary records of eating since March and I see that my healthy eating plan has included a proper percentage of carbohydrates and calories, fats and proteins, all of that. It's just that I was hungry most of the time. Really hungry, despite eating 1400 - 2200 calories a day. It's as if the grain-based carbs, particularly, because I wasn't eating much sugar, stimulate hunger and appetite.

Having had five days now of lower carb eating ~ not zero carbs, but lower, under 50-60 or so, and without grains or sugar ~ I find that I'm not hungry at all. My head is clear and after the initial crankiness that inevitably comes with that change, my mood has lifted and I feel more energetic. Slept better, too.

This is like jumping off a diving board into an empty swimming pool. As I smack my ass on the concrete, I shriek and think "learned it!" I climb out and go on my way, only to return to the diving board. Jump in, smack my ass on the concrete, shriek and think "learned it!" Learned it, learned it, learned it. Have I learned it yet? For today I have.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Proof that we create our own reality

In a burst of optimism and that exquisite joy that often comes to visit in autumn, I posted below about that intense feeling of being alive I love so well.

Just so you know I've not entirely lost my marbles in saying that this feeling comes to visit aided by a sense of goodness in the world, I am most assuredly not unaware of the state of our nation and of the world. I am heartened, however, by the words of Keith Olbermann in his impassioned monologues calling for, among other things, our president to extend an apology to the American people for his recent rose garden speech.

His words are powerful and so refreshing ~ like the cool breezes and crisp mornings these days ~ because we've been so long without someone publicly speaking the truth about our would-be emperor who has, in my humble opinion, been naked for years while parading about as if clothed in fabric of gold. The media has been cowed by our current administration, as have been the voices of dissent in our society. Mr. Olbermann's words give me hope and hope brings joy.

For a moment I can believe that our republic is not lost after all, that our freedoms will survive intact and that we will emerge from this crisis state a better people more appreciative of the magnificence that is our Constitution and our land.

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Alive, alive . . .

Upon occasion, I have moments, sometimes days, weeks, whole long periods of time during which I have the most exquisite, divine feeling of being fully alive in every fiber of my being. It's always a combination of freedom from food and a sense of goodness in the world. This is one of those moments and it is purely magic.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

No dress rehearsals

I am trying to be mindful, to be present, REALLY present in every moment of every day. It feels so good to be alive, to be healthy, to be working on fitness and to be actively achieving recovery from this dreadful illness. I am thankful to be at peace on the inside so that I can at last deal with the outside symptom of my years of misusing food.

One of my favorite sayings is "This is your life. It is not a dress rehearsal." We only get one life, just one. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought I'd get a do-over somehow. I spent years and years and years saying to myself that tomorrow, things would get better. Tomorrow I'd make good choices. Tomorrow I'd feel like working on my behaviors, on my weight, my health.

Tomorrow never comes. This is it, this day, right now, this minute.For many years after becoming sober in 1982, I chaired beginners' meetings at my home group in AA. I did it long enough that I saw the same folks come back again and again over a period of years. They weren't ready at the first meeting, had to get a paper signed or whatever, but then a year or so later they'd turn up again.

Maybe the job was gone or the wife or the house. Still not ready, maybe, and off again, out into the world, to try it one more time. Over the years, a number of my "beginners" were buried before they ever drew a sober breath. I think of this now, because when I worked with those folks it was patently obvious that the thing I could not give them was the "want to."

I could tell them how to work the steps, assure them of the Higher Power waiting at the end, give them aid at every turn, encouragement, prayer, hope for their recovery. But if they did not bring with them the desire, the longing for, the unrelenting willingness to NOT drink, all efforts were wasted.

Another thing became clear over the years. With each slip or relapse or binge, a little piece of that belief that THIS CAN WORK died in them. They would eventually become immune to the concept of recovery. Except that it is harder to do, quitting our killer eating habits is very much like recovering from alcoholism. We are all too precious to sacrifice to this disease. LIFE is too magnificent to lose it to an eating disorder.

"If not now, when?" is one of the most helpful mantras I can use for myself when faced with decisions about food. When do I start if not now? When do I stick with my plan if not this minute? Tomorrow NEVER comes and I lose my life ~ my entire life ~ by waiting until the next meal, the next day, the next week to begin.

Nike had it right: Just do it. Do it now, this minute, today. Do it.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why do we do it?

This is a profile at Obesity Help I have continued to return to over the years. Jade's story is one I find especially poignant given her age and the fact of her morbid obesity. Jade died shortly after the weight loss surgery she hoped would give her a new life. She weighed over 400 pounds and had struggled her entire life to control her weight.

I read a comment on another post here recently in which the writer was wondering why anyone would return to such a massive state of obesity if the weight was once lost. Am I alone in thinking there is no real good answer to this? I am reminded of the portion of the AA Big Book which says "in their hearts, they really do not know why they do it." It was written in reference to alcoholism, but I don't see this affliction as being far different from that one.

Even understanding alcoholism as well as I do from my education, my training, and having lived in sobriety for almost 24 years, I have still found myself frustrated at times with the retreads who just. won't. get. it. I'll ask myself why? Why? WHY? what the hell is wrong with them, before getting the click in my brain that says "oh yeah, it's an addiction, they can't help it." And no, I am not abdicating responsibility, but there's something there beyond just deciding what to eat every day, whether or not to drink.

I have no answers as to why I would lose that initial 80 or so pounds I gained after my mother's disappearance, and then regain that and more, then repeat that loss regain cycle over and over and over. Why can't I actually keep a top weight and work in a safety zone below that? Sometimes I think that the comforting idea of having a top weight is just an illusion ~ one more trick of this cunning, baffling, powerful disease that tells me it will be okay, I'll stop where I've always stopped, if nothing else I'll not go beyond that point. And maybe I will. But again, maybe I won't. I don't think I'm fundamentally different from someone who weighs 1000 pounds. I don't think someone trying to lose 20 pounds is fundamentally different from me. If I can't lose and keep off 20 pounds, it's only a difference in scale between me and the 1000 pounder. Can't is can't and to pretend otherwise is a dangerous sort of denial.

I've gone beyond and beyond those top weights, and I know I'm not alone. At least I'm not alone when I go to Obesity Help's pages and pages and pages of folks with starting BMIs over 50, pages of profiles filled with despair and sadness and grief over a life spent in an ongoing, yet failing, battle with compulsive eating.

When I have a "bad food day" (the terminology persists, though I don't really believe in the concept any longer), I think how easy it is just to give in and return to old habits. I am envious and shocked by how much others can eat with a relatively small weight gain or none at all. One day of eating willy nilly hell for leather as much as I want and as much as I'm capable of, and I can gain 8-10 pounds. One day.

I'm rambling, but I'm thinking of Jade and all of the others on the Obesity Help Memorial pages who fought this battle and died trying. I don't want to be one of them, but some days I think it's a gossamer thread that connects me to this life in recovery.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

I love this . . .

"We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and then more of it. But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless: I am living..."
Marie Howe, from What the Living Do

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My greatest fear

Over the last year or two, my greatest fear with regard to my weight was that I would become wholly disabled either due to stroke, congestive heart failure, or because I would become so immense I'd be unable to tend to my personal care needs.

By "personal care needs" I mean wiping my own rear end. I clearly remember hearing a woman talk at an OA convention 25 years ago about having become so immense she had to use something called a "johnny mop" to clean herself. I heard a male speaker several years later who had to give over his daily hygiene to another in entirety: he could not reach with a johnny mop or anything else.

I was blessed by the distribution of my weight, I suppose. It was not gathered round my middle, but more evenly distributed top to toe, a bit more so on the ass. It was still becoming difficult, which simply made me more obsessively dedicated. But I hated it, hated it with a passion born of humiliation and fear and a hopelessness that was everpresent. Coupled with all of that was the absolute knowledge that another 30-40-50 pounds would put me over the edge into unable to manage alone. God forbid, I think it would be unbearable.

Reading this morning about a 1200 pound man, I came across a link for this handy little item: The CleanButt BidetSpa. It promises "Personal Hygiene for the Handicapped or Disabled: The CleanButt BidetSpa can help many people who have limitations in body movement because of a handicap or disability! Self confidence and personal dignity is restored knowing you can now use the toilet once again without the need for assistance. Deeply appreciated by care-givers across the country, this completely hands-free, personal hygiene toilet appliance, allows the user to experience the refreshing and gentle affects of the warm water, cleansing the genital and rectal areas in privacy. This of course is followed by a relaxing warm air dryer so that there's no need for toilet paper or embarrassing assistance from anyone else."

I am delighted to know there's an alternative, though I hope and pray that I never reach that point of obesity. It breaks my heart to think about people trapped in bodies so huge that there is no option but to surrender all dignity. What a nightmare this thing can be. I am very, very grateful this morning.

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More Inspired: The Movie

Steve Yu, director of Inspired: The Movie has updated his website with more of the trailers that I find so inspirational. Check it out when you need a pick-me-up. The little mini-clips are located in the Media section.

As I've said before, I can't wait until this thing is released and in the meantime, just hanging out on that website reading, listening to the folks talk ~ it's a lift for certain. Yea Steve!!


Four weeks since I've started this accountability thing (when oh when will HealthStewards reappear?) and I've lost the 10 pounds I was shooting for so I'm at the top of the previous 5-8 pound range I'd set for myself when I went off the liquid diet in March. So the total now is -113 pounds, something like that. Yea. Happy.

Next 10 pounds will take me into a weight range I've not hit since 1992. I. Will. Never. Take. HRT. Again. Never. I'm not even deficient and each pill seemed to add half a pound. I don't recall birth control pills affecting me that way, or maybe I was just drunk all the time back in the day. Drunk and starving.

Reminds me of my favorite "diet" from about 1975 to 1982 . . . starve all day, drink and dance all night. I stayed slim (most of the time) and hung over. I never could figure out how men would develop those huge beer bellies. Guess it was the beer. And maybe they weren't dancing. Perhaps I need to put on my dancing shoes again. Skip the vodka this time. Pass on the men, just dance.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Fake food, cravings

Took the car for servicing this morning ~ had to drive 100 miles to do it because the only dealership is in the armpit of the free world, Oklahoma City. To reward myself for spending one of my three days off languishing in the service center lounge, I went to dinner at a new seafood restaurant, reported to be very fine.

Ordered a broiled fish platter with salad and fresh veggies. Sounded lovely. It was decent, not worth the $$, but my complaint is this: fake scallops? WTF? Why bother? My first memory of the taste of real scallops dates to 1965. I was eight years old and we were dining at a marvelous restaurant in Baltimore. I haven't a clue what the name was, but it was very elegant with white glove service, marvelous architecture, very tall windows looking out over the water.

The scallops were perfect: broiled, extremely plump, fresh, tasting of the sea with a sweetness unmatched by any other seafood or shellfish. They were also perfectly sized and each one was just a bit different from the others.

So how do we arrive at a point where we're trying to pass off these nasty little bits of white fish as actual scallops? What fool decided you could just stamp out some little round circles from any old scaled thing and call it a scallop? Because it looks like one, it will taste like one? What idiocy. These criminally named scallops were rubbery and dry and contained not a hint of the sweetness for which the real ones are famous.

It reminded me of the low-fat promoters who insist that a despicable green pea mash is a suitable substitute for the richly luxurious taste of avocado-based guacamole. Idiots. But then I was an idiot, too, once upon a time.

When Mike was first diagnosed with diabetes, I got into cooking low-carb with a vengeance. He loved potatoes, so I read everything I could find and regularly came across a substitute for mashed potatoes referred to as mashed fauxtatoes. It was so popular and so ever-present, I jumped right on them to assuage my baby's taste for potatoes and provide for him the comfort of the familiar at mealtime.

Mashed fauxtatoes are made by steaming cauliflower to absolute limpness, then pureeing the result in a food processor, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a bit of butter. I did all of this out of love for my ailing sweetie and the result was lovely! Pure white, fluffy, speckled with a pepper, a tiny well of molten butter in the center.

The look on my angel's face was decidedly not lovely as he quickly scooped up a spoonful of what he hoped was potato. His eyes got huge and his mouth fell open. He whispered in horror, around the wad of fauxtatoe languishing on his tongue, "what the hell is this?" before spitting it out. It was a low spot in the course of his diabetes treatment, now greatly improved with the addition of an insulin pump, and it was a low spot for me as well. He went hungry and I retired to my room in high dudgeon, wounded that my efforts were unappreciated.

Mike hated (hated!) the idea of controlling what he was eating. He despised having to think about it. He was disgusted by the prospect of having to write down, look up, make decisions about what he was eating and ~ horrors! ~ to actually restrict some of his choices. I was decidedly unsympathetic, having thought about, written down, looked up, restricted, agonized over food all of my life.

I don't even know what it's like to be normal. I could not muster up any poor babies for someone who, in my view, had skated through life for 47 years. So all of this rambling is just to say that I want to experience the feeling of not having this eating disorder. I want to know what it's like not to have to think about food, to constantly be aware of what goes in my mouth. I want my mind to be free, to have eating just occur to me as a direct result of actual hunger. I am tired of obsessing about calories, exercise, excess pounds. I just want to be normal.

So there's my whah-whah-poor-me for the day. I am trying to remember when I felt as close to normal as may be possible and it was on an old OA food plan called grey sheet. It was a low carb plan, three meals a day, but the miracle of grey sheet was that hunger vanished, food obsession vanished, it was as close to free as I've ever been.

I'm thinking about this because I find myself eating really healthy food and then thinking, thinking, thinking about the next meal. It's always on my mind. I'm tired of it. I'm not sure what to do, but I am thinking that feeding my addiction with higher carb foods keeps me in a state of discomfort, of craving. They're wonderfully healthy high carb foods, but maybe my disease doesn't distinguish between a baked potato with low fat yogurt and a candy bar. It would be the same if I, as a recovering alcoholic, decided to have a glass of wine each day. I might be able to do it, but the craving would kick in and I'd be miserable. (I know this because I tried it in 1980, two years before I got sober and it was a wretched two months.)

It's the eternal struggle for me: what to eat. Grey sheet is lower carb, but not carb-free. I just don't know and therein lies the thing that's frustrating me today. It's always a struggle, always a fight.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Positive? What's that??

Miss Positive Thinking, USA is having a bit of a struggle wearing the title today. Crazy week with the holiday, having to transport my sister 200 miles to the airport, unloading a double truck full of antique furniture into an already overloaded warehouse.

The new puppy is deaf, trying to potty train her. I've been doing evening walks in the neighborhood for the puppies' benefit and find my knee hurting. Weird nerve kind of pain running up into my rear end. Ugh.

Going to get something done this morning. Missing my blogger friends ~ will catch up with you all shortly. Hugs and positive thoughts to all of you. Send some back to me, now.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

No reading

Ugh. I am going to try, just try, one meal each day without having something to read. Just one. Reading and eating are so strongly connected for me that I really can't imagine one without the other. It's not that every time I read I have to eat something; rather that every time I eat I have to read.

I think the gentle eating folks have it right when they suggest eating to the exclusion of anything else, concentrating on the food only, the scent, texture, look, taste of it, becoming aware of fullness or not. I think I can do this for one meal a day. I can. I'll start tomorrow.

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Seems like I'm spending a great deal of time lately writing little essays as we did in Comp I in college: Compare and contrast, class, and you've 30 minutes.

Compare and contrast I shall because it seems everywhere I look I'm seeing things that keep me mindful of how I'm going to maintain this weight loss and build on my success thus far. Today's comparison is a tale of two dogs, puppies in our household parlance though they're four years of age and a little over one.

Four year old Bill is a Jack Russell Terrier, a short-legged muscular young fellow. He's all boy, assertive, opinionated, territorial, aggressive, a lover of comfort, snuggly warmth, kisses and play. He is the second love of my life. I wrote about him last April here, just a few days after his fourth birthday. I love this boy beyond reason.

Yesterday, we went here to see about another puppy, one who would keep small Bill a bit more active and, perhaps, a bit happier. Pets and People is a true no-kill shelter; that's my sister there on that link and the second photo shows Karen and the current shelter director, Cindy, along with Karen's mad love Mister, a really bad Corgi mix.

We were going to see a little white dog, fluffy, looking like a teensy little wolf. She looks like a Jack/Westie mix. She's very thin. I insisted on a shelter dog for this possible second puppy. I comfort myself in the face of so many unwanted, unloved dogs, with the knowledge that Bill was a pre-shelter rescue: he is so bad that he'd never have lasted in a normal home. We just pre-adopted him from the horrible place where he was born.

So there was little Miss Betty in all of her thin, wiry glory: a little overwhelmed by all of the noise and activity at the shelter, seemingly sweet natured. They seemed like a good match and didn't fight, so we brought her home. She has clearly been neglected and is hyper-alert, so I'm wondering whether she was intentionally frightened or abused in her other life. She's a great little dog, though, and is sitting on my lap on a pillow as I'm writing this. Billy is sitting on his daddy's lap watching television.

What does this have to do with weight? What? Well, this: I am observing how they eat, behave, interact. Betty is very wiry and thin. Billy is not only muscular he's . . . well, he's fat. He is. He needs to lose about two pounds. Billy's normal day pre-Betty was to get up from his father's featherbed when I get up to make coffee. We'd do the coffee, get a book, retire to the living room sofa to read and ponder life. Billy would snuggle up under the quilt on my lap and sleep until I moved. If I got up, he'd head back to Mike's bed where he'd snuggle under the covers until Mike got up. If he was still sleepy, he'd stay in bed, but most days he'd go with Mike to the den where he'd perch on a couple of tall pillows to catch the morning rays. He'd bask in the sun, warming himself, and he'd sleep.

When Mike ate, he'd get a few bites. He gets a special treat for going outside and he would make sure to at least take a spin around the deck a couple of times to earn this tasty high fat treat ~ cut down to a single BB-sized pellet from the former handful. He would eat his special diet food if need be, but he mostly he would grab food from Mike, who grazes all day. About 7 or 8 pm, Bill gets really active. He wants to play, he runs, chases balls, his old blue ring, runs, runs, runs, wrestles, runs. He gets in about an hour or two of action before going to bed. Billy, my sweet angel dog, is fat and sedentary.

Betty, on the other hand, is constantly in motion. If she sits, it's only for a moment before she's up roaming about, running little trails through the house, moving lightly and quickly on her feet. Did I say she's very thin? Though she survived on scraps from the workers on a construction site before her rescue, she's not insistent on people food treats the way Bill is. She looks the question, then trots off to run another trail. She sleeps a little, but lightly, and if she dozes for a few minutes, she's up and off for another 10.

When Betty eats her dog food, she grabs a mouthful, crunches it up, runs off to do a circuit through the house. Bill steadily munches, never raising his head, until all of his food is gone. Betty doesn't seem to care about the food. Bill finishes and looks around for more. Even eating is active for her because she simply does not eat steadily until it's done. I think she's actually quitting before it's gone because she's no longer hungry. Bill doesn't stop until he sees the bottom of the bowl, then he ambles over to investigate Betty's leavings.

I see this same difference between my next older sister and me. She is very thin, hyper, constantly in motion even when sitting still. I have refined repose to an artform. She perches on the edge of a chair, legs crossed, foot wiggling, talking and waving her hands, arms, every movement sharp and super-fast. I sink into the sofa, snuggling into the assortment of down-filled cushions across the back. I sit with legs horizontal, never moving once comfortably ensconced. I lean back, support my head with a hand, look about the room, engage others only with eye contact and smiles.

Just as Bill and Betty are vastly different, I am different from her and she from me. In the sisterly equation, I am Bill and she is Betty. I don't know if this is genetic, if it's learned, if my behavior grew out of the increasing weight? I think not, because I remember early, early on that nothing pleased me so much as an afternoon spent reading. My sister had a restlessness from an early age that has not abated; neither has my desire for quiet and comfort diminished.

It will be interesting to see if Betty adopts the household tendencies: toward leisure over activity, relaxation over effort, minimal activity over leaping into action. My hope is that she will spur us all to be a bit more active at home, to jump up more, to walk more, to leave food on the plate when we're no longer hungry. I keeping my fingers crossed that Betty's activity level and her desire to play with Billy will help him reduce a bit, just as I've been hoping that my forays to the gym and my improved physical fitness will encourage Mike to return to the gym he once loved.

We shall see. I fear that fat wins out, and sedentary takes precedence over active. I'll fight it with the puppies as I'm fighting it in myself. I hope I win. I hope Betty does.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Horror story

A young woman I know reached the horrific weight of 500 pounds before she was diagnosed with a thyroid problem and had weight loss surgery to rid her of the excess pounds. It seemed like magic. She seemed to be one of those rare people for whom massive obesity was solely a physical issue. The surgery was a grand success and she quickly lost 300 pounds, found a new life, got married. She followed the post-surgery recommendations of eating small amounts of food more frequently and she developed a new pattern of eating.

Over the last nine months, the small amounts of food changed to small amounts of calorically dense foods. Her fat consumption skyrocketed. She regained at least 60 pounds and then became pregnant. The fact that she was eating for two encouraged her to eat more. The small amounts turned into regular portion sizes. She still eats as frequently as before; that habit has remained. The quantities have doubled and tripled and even more of the foods she eats are calorically dense and ultra high in fat. The vegetable of choice is avocado. The high protein is cheese. She has regained another 80 pounds in this three months of pregnancy.

I find this absolutely frightening. I am using this very sad story as a kind of aversion therapy/stimulus for my own efforts. I talk to my sister, with whom this young woman is temporarily living, in order to get regular updates on how she is eating, the decisions she is or is not making to fight the increasing weight. It seems incredible that a kind of fog has descended over this intelligent young woman: she does not weigh, she believes she is eating in line with the post-WLS plan, she is shocked that she is gaining weight. She has put on enough weight now that she is physically struggling to walk. This, of course, puts her on the fast track to wholly disabling obesity and, ultimately, death.

I say it seems incredible that she's in this fog but it isn't, not really. I've experienced that same fog in my own life. The last 100 pounds I gained when my husband was ill came on in a period of about two years and I did not see it happening, did not feel it. At one point in there, always dieting, of course, I had stuck for a month to a low carb plan which always resulted in weight loss when I used it. With the expectation I would be well under 300 pounds, I went to a doctor's office to weigh and found that I was 345 ~ higher than I'd ever been in my life to that point. I got on and off the scale four times. Always the same. It paralyzed me, but it did not stop me. I returned to that foggy state of denial and just stuffed it away for another couple of years.

Sometimes I think this thing that lives in me, this eating problem, disorder, living breathing godawful horrible whateverthefuckitis thing, is dead set on trying to kill me. We all used to say in OA "I have a disease that thinks it can kill me and live on its own." It's a strange sense of being two people in one. There's the one who wants to be healthy, takes the action to maintain weight loss and lose more, who loves living a life free of the insanity of the compulsion to overeat, who loves to work out and does so frequently, who is happy, content, joyful in this new freedom. There's another one who would, unchecked, simply eat herself to death, to founder on excess food. It is no different from an addiction to drugs or to alcohol. It is sobering to realize that I grew to 368 pounds while thinking about, planning, getting on or off of a diet every single day of my life beyond the age of 12.

There are those who say that diets don't work, and that's true. But the reality is that nothing really works except finding a way to, at some point, control what goes into my mouth. Whether that's done through WLS, retraining my eating patterns, gentle eating, mindful eating, liquid diet, diet pills, Jenny, WW, or the irritating old classic of pushing away from the table, it's going to be more tolerable if I expend more calories through some physical activity. Physiologically, nothing will work to lose weight but reducing calories one way or another. The task is to figure out how to do that successfully and consistently. That's a lifetime process, I think, but it starts by saying "enough, I am tired of fighting, enough."

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Deficit spending

A morning at the gym reminds me of why I love working out. After breakfast and lunch and subtracting the 711 calories I burned in my workout, I have a total-for-the-day calorie consumption of 118. Heh. Having over 1200 calories to eat after lunch to meet MyFoodDiary's recommended 2 lb. per week loss level feels like a luxury, similar to a long, empty morning spent with a book and a pot of an excellent coffee. I've missed out on the gym several days this week and not only do I feel it physically ~ not a good feeling ~ it's much harder to eat right. Something about pushing myself physically makes me want to eat better, make better choices about life in general. I guess it's the way exercise affects brain chemistry. Elliptical or Elavil? I think I'll stick with the elliptical.

My long time friend Leslie, who's our office manager and all around kickass do everything person at the shop, worked out with me and is going to get into the pulmonary rehab program at the gym. Having someone else to go with motivates me too. It was great fun. I've missed having a workout buddy since my 35 year old friend Suzanne had a heart attack a few months ago.

On another note, my Hero of the Day is Keith Olbermann. His thoughtful and intelligent assessments give me hope. Yea Keith!

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