Perspective

I know a fine young man in Haiti. He aspires to be a pastor one day. And a lawyer, because pastors don’t get paid in Haiti.

This is his house.

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This picture is burned in my memory. I remember wondering at the time if he could even stretch out full length to sleep at night.

I live in a 650 square foot house (soon to be 870 SF!)–small in American estimations. One day when I was struggling with a financial decision (could I afford to be “generous” in this certain situation?) I came around the bend in the road and saw my house. And it looked HUMONGOUS. Perspective.

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Would it surprise you to know that much of the time I still think of myself as fat–as no different than that 255 pound woman from 9 years ago?

And then one day, while rifling through my closet looking for something nice to wear, I came upon the only pair of “fat pants” that I kept.

DSCN0714 Perspective. Its a good thing.

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A Gazillion Calories in a Single Day

Isn’t that a song or book title?? Anyway, that’s what Christmas day felt like. I decided early in the day that that was the way it was going to be. It was very fun, but I still have to work at not having guilty feelings or negative thoughts about eating whatever I want. I did only eat a small dinner, since I was pretty much not hungry from all the other treats I’d been eating. And by the time I drove home that night, I was SOOO ready to start my regular healthy eating the next day. I made a plate of goodies for my contractor and that pretty much cleared the house of Christmas treats.

Yesterday, I went back to my normal eating habits and logged all my food in Lose It. I ate every 3 or 4 hours, and made sure I had food that I enjoyed.

The thing is, its become more and more clear to me, that it is my INTENTION to eat healthily and stay as fit as possible. I have a very clear vision of what I want my aging life to be. I also have a very clear vision of what I do NOT want my life to be. Its been a while, but its still very clear in my mind how I felt every day when I weighed a hundred pounds more than I do now. I can imagine how that old body would feel with 9 years of aging on it.

So onward into the new year. I’m sure there will be lots of new (and old) advice and hopes for starting a newer, healthier life. I guess my wish would be for everyone to think clearly about living a healthier life, instead of a life at a certain weight or wearing a certain dress size or looking a certain way. None of those things has anything to do with a good life.

Lessons from the Quilt Show

I just returned from the Pacific International Quilt Show. Every year it seems there is a special exhibit that really touches me. This year it was an exhibit of 23 quilts called The Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work, by artist Carol Larson. I had heard the story behind these quilts before I came to the show. But to see the quilts, and read the stories behind each one touched me in a very deep way.

Here is Carol’s explanation of the series:

in 1965 when i was 17 years old and 78.5 inches long, i was surgically shortened 6 inches with the intention of giving me a “normal” life. so begins the introduction of the “tall girl series: a body of work.”

this series highlights the 40+ years since the three surgeries that broke my body, nearly crushed my spirit and forever changed my life.

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in middle school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol's sense of humor comes through--the boy's caption says "how is the weather up there?" And Carol is replying "Fabulous."

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in high school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol’s sense of humor still comes through–the boy’s caption says “how is the weather up there?” And Carol is replying “Fabulous.”

Can you imagine being given the responsibility of making such a horrendous decision when you were 17 years old?

I know its a stretch, but what it made me think of is how many of us with “weight issues” are willing to go way too far in order to achieve a body that we think will make us “fit in” and be “happy.” Every day people undergo unnecessary surgery (and not just us weight control people.) Surgery is serious business. If people had to watch it like I did as a student nurse, they would understand a little better why it hurts so much, and why it takes so long for your body to heal. And why, oftentimes, it just exchanges one kind of long term pain for a different kind of long term pain. I am always surprised when people seem to go casually into major surgery.

Carol's quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

Carol’s quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

And then of course, there are the “lesser things” that we do to achieve that magic “goal weight” and/or body image. Like the woman I just talked to today, who is thinking about (ON HER DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION!) going on a 500 calorie a day diet. Even though she has done it before, and she has experienced re-gaining all the weight lost on such a restrictive diet, she is still considering it.

I am glad to tell you that Carol is an extremely talented and successful artist with a wonderful sense of humor.

From Carol’s blog:

I still believe this is a story that needs to be heard. Every single one of us has something in our past which has molded us into who we are in the world today;  and for so many these truths are painful, tragic things that happened to our bodies.

The purpose of the series was my personal healing. It’s purpose today is to encourage others to do their own healing, to speak of and expel their own story from their body. Believe me when I say it takes a huge toll to hold on to old sorrows.

I was blessed with a very sensitive spirit and also the courage to tell my story.  I am also blessed with the intuitive sense that the story can go on now to inspire others, without my active involvement.

Maybe this will make you think of something else that is a deep seated problem in your life. Something worth spending the time to work through, as Carol bravely did. I wish you could have seen the whole exhibit, with the unbelievably painful things that she experienced during her life. Here is a link to an article that tells a little more about her story. 

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story with us. As difficult as it is to hear comments from insensitive, unthinking people, I hope you know that there are at least as many of us who heard, and are trying to understand, and that it has done a great deal of good for us.

A Little Chat about Weight Loss and Clothes

As you know, I’ve been losing a little weight. I have a range of clothing sizes in my closet. One day I was wearing my “these are just a little too big” pants around the house, and I changed into my “these are just a wee bit snug” jeans before I went out to a meeting. Honestly, I felt a little schizophrenic that day. Because when I am wearing the loose ones, I feel good. I recognize that I have lost weight, and I feel ‘thin’ for a little while. When I am wearing the tight ones, yes, it is nice that I can fit in those again, but I feel ‘fat.’

I think there’s a place for both types of clothes during weight loss. I hear some bloggers say that they will only wear their super tight clothes as a constant reminder that they need to lose weight. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing my loose clothes and enjoying the fruits of my labor. Its pleasurable to be able to feel the weight loss in this way.

On the other hand, I also hear bloggers saying they are not going to buy any new clothes until they reach X weight, or even goal. They sometimes complain that their clothes are practically falling off of them. That’s not right! Its unnecessary. Right or wrong, in this country, where we buy way more than we need, there are always practically new clothes available in the thrift store in almost every size. I am not even a good “thrifter.” I am impatient and get bored easily. But I can usually breeze through a thrift store and find an item of clothing or two that fits my new size (bigger or smaller :} )

Wearing clothing that is way too large or way too small is not self-respecting. And self-respect is something I hear a lot of women seeking to lose weight say they lack. Wearing clothes that fit and make you feel good about yourself is a simple and cheap way to start working on that.

P.S. Important recipe information! When you try a new recipe its always good to run it through the calorie counter yourself. Especially when it seems too good to be true. I routinely do that. So imagine my distress when I double checked the calories on the two recipes I recently shared (the Shut Up Brownies and the Banana Muffins) and then I got my bag of oat bran out of the freezer and noticed that stats on it were significantly different than what calorie count (and my little calorie book) give oat bran. It changed the calories in the brownies from 80 to 110, which is still a good deal IMO. So just double check the calories in your oat bran if you are planning to try these recipes. The oat bran I actually had was 390 calories per cup. The oat bran I used in the calorie counter was only 240 calories per cup.

One Good Day

Honestly, for the past few days, I’ve been thinking that I was doomed.  Doomed to gain all my weight back, I mean.  Just what I feared from the very start–that it would all disappear, and I would go back to the way (weight) I was before, just like in the movie “Awakenings.”  And I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about it.

Make no mistake about it.  I have been in a gaining trend.  And this past weekend when I was out of town, I was very unhappy with my image in the mirror.  I know.  All that stuff I’ve said about accepting my body image…  I’ve had some stressful stuff to deal with the past two weeks, and there were a couple of times I COULDN’T STOP EATING.  Believe it or not,  the stress was more about other people and things that were out of my control, instead of the anxiety that used to make me overeat.  Even when I wasn’t stressed, I was just eating a little too much.

So I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I had one good day today.  I wrote down my four meals and one snack and stuck right to them.  (Ha–I should probably eat my last snack and go immediately to bed so the spell won’t be broken!)  I chose low calorie, nutrient dense foods so I wouldn’t get too hungry between meals.  And I even thought a little bit about ‘its okay to be hungry.’  And tonight when I was working on a new experimental low calorie recipe for dinner just because that’s what I wanted to eat, I thought, well, this isn’t the behavior of a person who has given up.  So we’ll see.

That recipe I was making?  Turned out pretty darn good!  I was inspired by Helen’s cauliflower recipe and the fact that I had a head of cauliflower in the refrigerator.  I didn’t have any of the other ingredients in her recipe though, so I tried something different.  Mexican Cauliflower Pork Casserole.  Quite yummy!  And a big serving, and when I plugged the ingredients into caloriecount, I was very happy with the stats on it.

(Honestly, sometimes I think a lot of my food pictures look like cat food, but you’ll have to take my word for it–they taste good!)

A few other good food ideas from the past week:

Pina Colada Yogurt.  Just a serving of my homemade yogurt with a teaspoon of unsweetened coconut and a little coconut extract, topped with some crushed pineapple and a sprinkle of granola.

I am in love with turkey burgers.  And honestly, I like them just as much without the bun, plus, they’re a whole lot less messy to eat.

Okay, this one veers into processed food a bit, but it sure was a tasty combo.  A serving of strawberries with a spray of reddi whip light on top, paired with a caramel rice cake (50 calories.)  Yumm yumm.

I am fascinated with the little froggies that appear at my front door.  This little guy has perched up on the door knob for the past two days.  How did he get here all by himself, and why does he like it up there?  I worry about him.

And finally, an update on the sheep rug.  I was very pleased when I took it off the frame to take these photos.  It looks better from a distance than I thought.  Still a lot to do, but I am making steady progress now.  Of course, rug camp is in 2 1/2 weeks, so I don’t think I’ll finish it.

Close-ups.  I dyed some of the wool for the grass myself, so I am very happy about how that turned out.  I used some angora sweaters, so that adds a neat texture to it.  (Rugs are traditionally hooked with plain wool.)

So that’s about it for tonight.  I have some busy, packed, slightly stressful days ahead.  I am glad I have some food pre-cooked for ready-to-eat meals.

A Different Way to Weigh

Okay, here goes.  A disjointed (ooh, good ‘j’ word–I’ve been playing Words with Friends lately,) unprofessional review of a very interesting book.

Health at Every Size was written by Linda Bacon, who started out with a masters degree in psychotherapy, and then went back to school to get her doctorate in physiology with a focus on nutrition and weight regulation.  She struggled for years with her own weight.  “Bacon’s pain and obsession about her weight fueled her determination to understand everything about weight regulation.”

The main point she tries to make in this book is that most people are not going to lose weight.  Period.  And if they do lose weight, in all probability they will regain that weight.  She spends a lot of time going over extensive research that shows this is true. (that’s the part I skimmed.)  And she points to many studies that show that being overweight is not necessarily detrimental to your health. (also skimmed.) I think she’s trying to say that if you accept your weight and stop judging yourself for it, it is easier to move forward and make changes that are truly healthy IN SPITE OF your weight.

“Self-love may be the most revolutionary act you can engage in.  A person who is content in his or her body–fat or thin–disempowers the industries that prey on us and helps rewrite cultural mores.”

She doesn’t promote “Health at Any and All Food.”  That’s kind of what I thought the “Health at Every Size” movement was about.  Not at all.  She actually promotes eating very healthy whole foods.  And makes a statement that sounds vaguely familiar.  “Enjoy a variety of real food, primarily plants.” Similar to Michael Pollan’s famous saying, “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  Who came first?

This was probably the most outstanding and interesting passage in the book:

Then recognize that you have a choice.  You can choose your own standard of beauty, one that is realistic and respectful, or you can choose society’s hurtful standards.  Just remember:  You only have one body and despite how well you live your life, it may never change.  Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life?

 

Bring this new thinking to how you view your body.  Experts call this vision kinesthesia, which simply means how you sense and feel about your body.  Kinesthesia is a product of your imagination, much more influenced by your self-esteem than by others’ perception of you.  Only you have the power to alter it.

This might be what happened to me when I made that New Year’s Day list:

Most of all I want to live a balanced  healthful life.  WITHOUT ANGST.

I want to be

  • Active.
  • Creative.
  • Spiritual.
  • Generous.
  • Joyful.

I want to be all of these things.  I want them to be balanced in my life.  I even wrote “If being a little heavier is part of this, so be it.”

Something changed that day.  Well, lets be real.  This whole thing has been a process.  A LONG DRAWN-OUT PROCESS.  I started changing the way I think and the way I viewed myself.  I would no longer be embarrassed that I was ‘too fat’ to go to the gym, and put it off for a week or two until I ‘got the pounds off.’  I went to the gym as a proud overweight woman who wanted to continue to grow stronger.  I looked at myself in the mirror and liked what I saw.  Not compared to anyone else, either fatter or thinner.  I just was pleased with me.  Now don’t get me wrong.  That is in no way a 24 hour a day feeling.  In fact, last night I had to ask myself, so why DO you continue to weigh yourself?  Well the truth is, many times, mostly in the evening when I am sitting, I ‘feel’ very fat.  So I weigh myself to reassure myself that nothing has really changed.

And it has not.  I weigh almost exactly the same every time I get on the scale.  For the last few weeks I’ve taken a break from writing down everything I eat, and have not counted the calories either.  This does not mean that I have thrown out everything I have learned along the way.  Far from it.  Even my most recent foray into eating more protein has come into play.  I still am choosing good foods, balanced meals, basically no processed foods (except the most excellent cake at the missions weekend banquet :)) )  I am not engaging in angst over meals out, or wanting a treat now and again.  I am, however, still battling that feeling of ‘being bad’  even when I have only THOUGHT about eating something too rich.  So I’m a work in progress.  Still.  sigh.

Towards the end of the book she makes this statement:

“Failed attempts at losing weight make people feel like failures, and even those who succeed feel a never-ending pressure to retain that success that will always limit their ability to feel comfortable around food and in their bodies.”

This is what I was feeling a wee bit.  Like a ‘successful maintainer’ who was actually always failing.  I am thinking of changing the byline of my blog to something like ‘thoughts on a whole and healthy life.’  That would be more in line with what I write about anyway.  Since I really have nothing left to say about weight LOSS.

One more thought.  For some of us, who are attempting to maintain a weight lower that what our body wants, or perhaps we have mucked with our internal body mechanism by gaining and maintaining extreme amounts of weight, I do believe that if we don’t continue to ‘try’ to lose weight, or at least remain ‘vigilant’ in maintaining our weight, there is the distinct probability that we will regain weight.

This book was quite scientific, especially the first half, where she uses EXTENSIVE research to try to prove her point (that you can be overweight and healthy.)  But it was much more balanced in its approach to life and food and exercise than I expected.  I have written before that I am scared by some of the HAES advocates.  They seem so angry.  I think my life experience is much much different than many persons.  I was ‘morbidly obese’ for many years, but for the most part I was loved, and treated with respect, and had a very full and fulfilling life.  For some people that is not their experience, and thus, their anger and frustration.  Overall, this book had a lot to offer. (plus it was very cheap to download on my kindle.)  I wish so much that people would learn to be content with their bodies and just eat healthy foods and move around a bit.

Pondering

Yep.  I’ve been pondering my own blog post.  Ever since I wrote that last one.  I feel fitter and healthier than I ever have.  But when I catch a glimpse of myself in a window or the mirrors at the gym, or horrors, some very unflattering picture that some other blogger posted on their blog (NO, I am not providing a link to that blog, LOL,) it does not match how I feel.  So can I be content with that being the image that others see me as, and only the inner knowledge that I am fit and healthy?  I think my brother’s words were wiser than I first thought–“Don’t settle.”

Yesterday I went for a walk–the four mile version.  I went for a walk the day before that. Today I will go for another walk.  I am still tracking all my activities on the  President’s Challenge:  I have earned 10,000 points since April 27.  Almost all of those points are from walking.  You have to earn 40,000 points for the bronze award.  I’m aiming to earn the bronze award by the end of the year.  In case anyone is interested, that works out to approximately 101 miles walked in the past two months.

I think a lot about my time these days.  Having three dogs takes quite a bit of time.  In and out. Out and in.  Take this collar off, put that collar off.  Really, its time to eat AGAIN?  I started feeding all my dogs twice a day.  Sophie was glad that I finally caught on that it is also best for doggies to eat small frequent meals throughout the day.  Did I ever tell you that when I went to get Mr. Monk, they had a female pug that had come in at the same time as him?  I was willing to adopt both of them, but the female had already been reserved.  Good thing for me.  Can you imagine if I had a Dowager Empress in the house competing with the Queen for top spot?

Me thinks not.

I do believe those Rocco Dispirito brownies are the best healthy brownies I have ever made.  I think Rocco went overboard trying to make healthy brownies, because I found a different recipe online that was only 53 calories per brownie, and from the looks of that recipe, that is all they would taste like.  I think he developed this recipe second.  It is definitely worthy.  I gave most of them away, to two Weight Watcher friends, to get their opinion.  One of them said they were almost too rich.  Her non-dieting husband ate all the rest of them.  He didn’t know til afterwards that they were ‘black bean brownies.’  Anyway, I found them to be rich and fudgy, and definitely satisfying to have just one.  135 calories with 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/4 cup of walnuts added.  I read somewhere about someone taking the time to remove the skins off of the beans.  This might improve the texture a little bit, but I don’t know that it would be worth the time.  I think the secret is really pulverizing those beans in the blender or the food processor.

The last brownie.

Yesterday on the walk, I challenged myself to walk as quickly as I could up the steep hill with no stops or slowdowns.  I counted the steps–275.  That’s the same as going up 11 flights of stairs without stopping!  Me and Noah did 4 miles.  That’s cause we got out before 7:30, before it got too hot.  On the way home I saw a baby bird just sitting on the road.  It looked a little stunned.  I nudged it a bit, and thankfully,  it flew up into a nearby branch.  I bet it crash landed on its first flight out of the nest.

Did I tell you I did take my first swim of the year?  that was a relief to get that over with.  And I couldn’t believe how out of swimming shape I was.  I did four laps and thought I couldn’t go any longer!  I did keep swimming for about 20 minutes.  Does anybody else have the experience of swimming making them extra hungry?

The scale seems to be moving slowly in the right direction.  I am cautiously optimistic.  I will let you know when I reach ‘goal’ again.

Well, those are the random thoughts for the past few days.  Here is Noah’s blinky face.  We need to get out for a walk before it gets too hot, and before I have to leave for my long-awaited appointment at the ortho doctor (for my hands.)

Have a great weekend everyone!