Thursday, February 28, 2008

Calling all Veggies

After the last beef recall I made the mistake of going online to watch the video of the mistreatment of cows being processed through a slaughterhouse. It was horrific, and I don't recommend watching it if you enjoy a cheeseburger now and again. I then fell down the rabbit hole and started to link my way through more and more horrific tales of industrial/corporate farming. I will spare you the details, they are out there if you want to read up, but its not for the faint hearted. I do, however, recommend reading up on the ecological impact these large industrial farms have on the environment.

Once I resurfaced and quelled the bile rising in my throat I decided to go vegetarian for a while. Just to see if I could do it. I've given up red meat, pork, and all poultry (lamb goes without saying). I still keep organic dairy, eggs from local free range cage free chickens , and fish (wild, not farm raised) in my diet. Some might say that's not really being a vegetarian, but dude, I'm so not givin' up my dairy! I have to say it's been easier to stick to than I thought it would be. Probably because my decision has nothing to do with my own dietary needs, but out of my personal sense of ecological and moral responsibility. It's too bad there is no ethical dilemma in chocolate (and if there is, shut up, I don't want to know!).

I have toyed with the idea of being a vegetarian since my pseudo hippie days in college(yes, I was one of those), but have always loved a good cheeseburger or meatball every now and again, so have been hesitant to give up meat. But the more I hear about how we raise our livestock and process them for slaughter, I become more and more neurotic as I walk through the grocery store. I pick up a package of chicken, gross myself out, then put it back down. A package of hamburger? Ditto. I have to put it down again. I look like freekin' Rainman pacing back and forth down the meat section picking up things, muttering to myself, and putting them back. It's not pretty people.

Now I know, local organic meat is a responsible option, and I may do that at some point, but it is so prohibitively expensive, I don't think I could afford it, and I can't even begin to imagine how someone could afford to feed an entire family that way. It's sad really, that only the well off can afford to feed their families quality foods that haven't been so pumped full of poisons and chemicals that you can no longer even call it food. The cheap crap is just that. Crap. Whew! Don't get me started on that soap box, I'll never get down.

So now I'm having a big time digging around cookbooks and the Internets looking for groovy vegetarian dishes, and trying out different ways to rework dishes I always cook. The Stuffed Peppers the Tap dancing Queen posted the other day were a direct result of such digging. She added chicken, which is great, but it tastes just as good without.

OK, here's where you guys come in. I need ideas, recipes, general vegetarian tips. (Yes, I know, the minute anyone asks you for a recipe you draw a blank - I'm lookin' at you Miss B). So if you have any good ones, post em in the comment section. Maybe I'll start posting my culinary attempts here, complete with pictures.

Now I'm hungry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Be Kind to Your Daughters.

I cleaned out my laundry room this weekend, which in and of itself is no big deal, other than it was a total disaster and it needed to be done. No, what makes this random act of organization note worthy is what I found while cleaning. An old box filled with even older books. High School Yearbooks. The time and place I consider to be the epicenter of my issues with self, body, and food. I'm sure the seeds of discontent were planted far earlier, but there, during that time in my life, is where I know in my heart of hearts there was a disconnect between what I actually looked like, and what I saw in the mirror. And there is where I was somehow derailed.

I sat down with a cup of coffee and my Freshman yearbook 1981-82, and there within its time yellowed pages, I saw a slender, confident, happy girl smiling back at me in her cheer leading outfit. I re-read all the signatures and notes to the "wild girl", the "cool chick" "always smiling", "friends forever" that literally covered the blank pages left for those types of things.

Cute, huh? That's what I see now, what anybody would see looking at this picture. I wish that was how I felt at the time. I'm 15 in that picture, and by then I had already been on more diets than I can count. I had been sneaking food since I was in 2nd grade, and had been binging and purging since 8th grade. Iwas completely caught up in the idea that I was fat.

My Sophomore Year held a similar, but slightly different story. I was no longer a cheerleader, even though I had been one the year before. I had to try out again(we all did), but was found lacking. Nothing had changed, other than I had stopped carrying around bottles of Ipecac syrup in my purse and was no longer puking up most of my food. So yes, I had gained about 15 lbs over the summer. So I told myself I didn't want to be a clique-ish cheerleader, and my best friend and I became the Banner Carriers for our Marching Band. OK.. a step down in the social hierarchy that is high school, but still involved, still smiling, still popular enough.

As I perused the pages of my yearbook I began to notice something in each picture I found, something no one else would really be able to see. In all my pictures, both freshman and sophomore year, I noticed there was no trust in my eyes. There was wariness, and an expectation that an axe would fall, and it would be an axe of words; warnings from parents who insisted I would be fat one day if I wasn't careful,of thinly veiled insults from boys who teased about fat cheerleaders, and crushes who said no.

And my 40 year old self got pissed off. I sat in my living room looking at my thin legs and normal waist line and wondered how "they" found that somehow lacking. I can see now how wrong they were,how wrong I was to give them that much power over me.

Years of self destructive eating, a war I have yet to win, may never completely win, all started long before high school. It started when my mother(who still to this day looks at herself through a fun house mirror),caught up in her own self destructive eating disorder, placed her fears of being fat and unlovable with me. It started when, as a prepubescent girl of 12 or 13,I went on my first diet. A diet that restricted my caloric intake to 1000 calories a day. I'm sorry, that's just insane.

So I can't help but worry for the young girls today, watching as their mothers (many of them my age)obsess and worry over being heavy, count every calorie and point they put in their mouths, perpetuate the idea that to be healthy is to diet, to be happy is to be (insert goal weight here). Are we placing the fears we've learned on the shoulders of future women? Ive been to the Weight Watcher meetings where mothers bring daughters too young to actively participate, but not too young to "watch and learn".

What message are we sending these girls? Why aren't we teaching them that to be happy is to be true to ourselves, to be kind to others, and to value what's inside, not outside? Why are we not teaching them to fuel their bodies with natural foods? To trust their bodies to tell them when they are hungry and when they are full, that artificial sweeteners and processed foods are poison? And why, for the love of god, are we not impressing upon them that BRATZ dolls are not to be used as a fashion guideline,and that the models and teen queens they see on TV are not normal? Why are they watching that crap in the first place?

Ive seen little girls cringe as their fathers, the first male role model they have, the one on which they base all other male relationships, tell them they can't eat that, they don't need that, they've had quite enough Thank you, then worry about being fat. They're not even out of elementary school for Christ's Sake! I've heard both parents comment about a heavy woman or child in none too flattering terms in front of their children. This has to make an impact, I honestly don't see how it can't.

I can't help but be horrified as I watch the birth of another eating disorder.

Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic, it's been known to happen. But it's my gut reaction and I have to go with it. I have experienced first hand what happens when well meaning parents place too much importance on the wrong things. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is be kind to your daughters, to your nieces, to granddaughters for that matter. Give them strength of self, confidence in their inner beauty, and kindness and respect for others, regardless of outwardly differences.

It's time to stop destroying ourselves from the inside out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Healthy Challenge Check In - The fine art of procrastination

Obviously I have more than mastered the art of procrastination. If you could unhinge my skull and take a peek inside you would see a beautifully organized (by category) list of rationalizations I like to pull out to assuage my internal guilt monkey for all the things in life, both big and small, I like to put off. Oh, like say for example, writing this update.

There really is no valid reason to put off this post. It's not bad news at all, in fact it's rather good news, but still, here I am, checking in a day late. In fact, I have put off writing anything at all for over a week, and that is yet another study in procrastination and ambivalence I could easily ramble on about for at least three or four paragraphs. I think I'll save that for another time. (See, there it is again!)

Where was I? Oh yes, on to the check in. I got on the scales Tuesday morning - I should stop here and mention that I was seriously considering not weighing myself at all this week, since last week was spent completely ignoring all things weight related - and what do you know? I lost 2 lbs. don’t ask me how, I couldn't tell you, but I'll take it. Maybe not obsessing over every little thing I put in my mouth had something to do with my success. Maybe obsessing about food, regardless of whether I’m compulsively eating or compulsively worrying about eating, is a big part of my problem. I've posted before about my feelings on dieting., but I don't think I have completely rid myself of the dieter's mind set.

There is this wonderful theory now becoming popular that explores the idea of conscious eating instead of dieting. The basic premise is that we as children or young adults, for whatever reason, have lost the ability to self regulate our hunger. We no longer recognize physical hunger cues and eat for emotional reasons, and even more disastrous, we have lost our ability to recognize being satisfied without moving into the "oh my god I want to puke" zone. The trick is to slow down, listen to your body, eat when you are physically hungry, and stop when you are physically full. Obviously that is an overly simplified statement, and much more goes into that process than "just do this and all your issues will be gone". I've read several books by Geneen Roth, and what she has to say made a lot of sense to me, and if you are so inclined, I highly recommend them.

Where is this ramble going? I hardly know myself, but I have been feeling distinctly fraudulent the last couple of weeks as I read everyone’s plans, and points, calories tallied, and lbs lost because I had no such plan, nor was I that jazzed about finding one. So my challenge to myself is not to pick a plan and stick with it, but to slow down enough to listen to my body, feed it what it desires, and stop when I am satiated. Ok, so at least try to do these things. Who knows, maybe I will learn something about myself along the way.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Healthy You Challenge Check In: Nothing Gained, Nothing Lost

I suppose that's a good thing considering the previous week's gain of 2.5 lbs. I really can't complain(especially after this weekend's potato chip masacree - and oh was it good!), but Im going to anyway.

Motivation on all fronts is non-existent. Maybe it's the time of the year. Maybe Im supposed to be hibernating dammit, not trying to get my butt to the gym! Maybe it's because aunt flo came today so last week I was pms'ing and needed the French onion dip to go along with those chips. Maybe it's because this Thursday is the day I love to hate, and Im feeling sorry for myself as only a singleton can. Or maybe(it's the word of the day)my attitude is for shite and I need to snap out of it. However you look at it, I'll take my nothing gained and count myself lucky.

It wasn't all bad this last week though. I did get more sleep (thank gawd! Can you imagine the tone of this post if I was sleep deprived as well??? I shudder to think). I also managed to up my water intake each day to the recommended 6-8 glasses. So there. Not a total wash.

I don't feel all that great going into this week either (what with VD and all that), but rather than pout and quite possibly binge in a haze of self loathing, Im going to try to be a little kinder to myself, take the pressure off a little, and just try to maintain some state of zen. For just this week Im not going to focus on how many days I do or don't get to the gym, or if that piece of chocolate I just ate makes me evil incarnate; for this week Im going to pamper myself with yummy smelling soaps, romantic comedies staring John Cusack, hanging out with my peeps, and maybe even a good bottle of wine.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Last Look

At the risk of becoming one of those tiresome people who make you look at endless pictures of their vacation, Im doing one more post dedicated to my trip to Anguilla. Between the lounging around on the beach and the drinking of much rum, I did manage to do a fair amount of site seeing. We had a few cloudy days, so I spent them driving around the island with my head hanging out the back seat window taking pictures, periodically yelling "Stop!" at my father and making him pull over on some back road so I could jump out and take a shot (of the photographic varity).

Animal Life
Goats, they're everywhere, you notice them the moment you start looking around. They are a main food source for the locals, and they let them run wild. Im not sure how anyone tells which goat belongs to whom, but they are a big part this island's charm. Although you have to be careful when you're driving around, they tend to wander out into the street.

Drive by Goats

A stroll by the ocean.

There were other types of animal life popping up to pose for their close up. Some were beautiful.
Others? Well,let's just say they had character.

Big Ass Hermit Crab

Flora and Fauna

Around the Island

The rest of the pictures are just shots taken around the island throughout the week. These below are the ones I hope capture the flavor of Anguilla. It is beautiful in that Carribean island way everyone expects it to be, but there is also beauty in the daily lives of the people who live there.

Okay, okay, Im hearing the desperate cries of Uncle from the aether so I will stop torturing you with vacation photos. Well, maybe one more. This was the sunset on the last night we were there, and seemed a fitting end to a beautiful vacation. Thanks for letting me share it with you (Like you had a choice).

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Today's blog entry was going to be a picture filled final wave to my vacation in Anguilla. Obviously my mad procrastination skillz have taken over and there are no fabulous pictures with pithy comments*cough* gracing these here pages. I have a really good excuse. No, really I do! Last night when I was supposed to be creating away I was doing this:

It's the last book, and Im into the last chapters, and OH MY AUNT EDNA'S ASS I couldn't put it down! But it was soo intense I had to put it down- several times in fact- and walk around the house pretending I was done reading for the night- going to write- Yeah, that's it, Im going to write. But no, I have to find out what happens!(Yes I talk to myself just like this, and yes, I do need to get a life)

I still don't know what happens (Shhh! Don't tell me!). I read until 11:30 and could very well have kept on going until I finished the book, but I made a promise to myself to get enough sleep this week as part of the Healthy You Challenge(dammit!). So I closed the book as our heroic trio was making their way to confront you- know-who in the Shrieking Shack and went to bed.

So there you have it, my secret slacker shame, but to paraphrase the words of perhaps the most famous procrastinator in literary history
" I won't think about that right now. I'll think about that tommorrow. Afterall, tomorrow is another day".

Now where did I put that book.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Healthy You Check In - I Need a Mulligan

I don't play golf, but working in a cube farm where everyone and his brother does allows you to pick up a few terms here and there. A Mulligan is one of them. It means a do over, and that's exactly what I need. Last week, my first week in the challenge was less than stellar. It's odd, and so very me, that the minute I announce to anyone any kind of weight loss goal, diet plan, exercise plan, whatever, I immediately set out to sabatoge myself. Does anyone else do out here do this?

Anyway, last week, uuugh. I got on the scale this morning and - yep - gained 2.5 lbs. I'd like to say I have no idea how this happened, but Id be lying. Last week I ate like I was going to the chair. And to add insult to injury, only went to the gym once. Exercise, at least for me, is my biggest challenge. I hate going to the gym- hate it. Everyday I pack my bag, make sure my iPod is charged, and head out to work with the best intentions of going to work out at lunch. Unfortunately by lunch time Iv'e either procrastinated my way out of it ("I'll go tomorrow") or someone has asked me to go to lunch (more calories!) and I hate to pass up the chance to get away and be social. Im going to have to work on this.

On the bright side, even while throwing food at my face, I was playing the casual observer to my bad habits, and was making mental notes on things I can do to change the current backslide. Here's what I want to work on this week:

Water - I don't drink nearly enough, and have recently gotten back in the bad habit of drinking sodas. So, for this week(to start), no more coke. and up the water to 6-8 glasses per day ( Im on glass #2 for today.. I better get drinking).

Sleep - I don't get nearly enough sleep each night. Im somewhat of a night owl, and consider it a victory if I can get to bed by midnight (I have to get up at 6:30), but more times than not, I don't get to bed until 12:30. That just isn't enough sleep, and the next day Im tired, lathargic, and it probably is a direct contributor to my lack of motivation on the exercise front. Plus I read somewhere that a lack of sleep does wonky things to your metabolism. So... in bed this week by 11:30 at the latest.

Exercise - I know, I know, I know, I have to find something or some way to consistantly incorporate movement into my day. Maybe this week I can at least make it to the gym 3 times. That's better than nothing, and continue to try to find other activities I might enjoy more. Like a root canal (just kindding, sort of).

Yes, there is plenty more I could list out and try to tackle, but I think for this week three is good. Next week I'll re-evaluate and see if I can add more. I hope everyone has a great week, and thanks for all the support! It's nice to know we're all in this struggle together.