Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

Truth or Vegan

veganClients came in a couple of weeks ago. They are about ten years older than me. They are lean, fit, healthy. They espoused the joys of vegan eating. “We started a few months ago. We lost weight hand over fist,” they reported.

That caught my attention. Even though I know vegan eating doesn’t make me feel as healthy as a diet that includes small amounts of lean meat and dairy (I’ve tried it before)…well, losing weight, right?

So I researched (like I do) and got a bevy of delicious recipes. Spent four hours cooking, so I’d have a refrigerator full of wonderful options.

And I gained two pounds in the first week.

Because my issue isn’t about what I eat. The issue is my basic relationship with food. It’s my solace, my lolo-blankey. It’s my lover, my friend. It doesn’t matter WHAT I eat. As long as food is substituting for something else (everything else?) I’m not going to be healthy on the inside. No matter what happens on the outside.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I hate painful truths.

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Family Matters

mikecorinnaIt’s been two months since I last posted. My brother has had a miraculous recovery from his stroke. He’s not *there* yet, still attending both PT and OT, but he’s back to work (for me!) and feeling good. He has lost 50 pounds in these two months, with a goal for another 50 by years’ end. That’s a dramatic loss, but he’s doing it in a healthy and measured way, and it’s his best defense against future stroke events.

My sister-in-law, Corinna, also jumped on the health bandwagon – and she’s also lost 50 pounds. It’s been so much fun to watch her explore new foods – discovering that cherries and other fruits are DELICIOUS. That salads can be a fun and filling dinner. In fact, I ate much better when I stayed with them – maybe I should move back!

The month I stayed with them allowed us to reconnect and deepen our relationship.  It was the silver lining in the stroke storm-cloud. Why did we allow geographic separation – and only 60 miles – to cause such emotional distance? As far as I’m concerned, this is the person  for whom the song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” was written. I would walk any road for my baby brother – no matter how long. I’m sorry it took such a traumatic event to bring us back together.

I am determined not to let it happen again.

 

Leave a comment »

Wake-Up Call

mikeMy baby brother (he’s only fifty-one) called me Sunday before last. “I don’t think we’ll be able to get together tomorrow,” he said. “I think I’m having a silent migraine. I have tunnel vision and I just can’t seem to keep my balance. I’m so fuzzy-headed, I’m having to really concentrate to talk.”

“Those could also be stroke symptoms, Mike,” I replied. “Maybe you should go get that checked out.”

“Oh, I’ll be fine. If they don’t go away in a day or two, I’ll see a doctor.”

On Monday, he was in the ER. He was admitted and spent four days in the hospital. He did, indeed, have a stroke, and in addition, he was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes.

The doctors had good news and bad news. The good news is, he’s likely to make a complete recovery. The bad news is, without significant lifestyle changes, he has a good chance of recurrence.

So I’m staying with him for a while so his wife can go back to work. I’m cooking for us all, and helping Mike with therapy and exercise. The diet is familiar – the one I’ve been imperfectly trying to implement over the past year-and-a-half. I’m not missing the mark now, though. This was a wake-up call for us all.

Leave a comment »

Work in Progress

orangeMy kombucha molded. I can’t help feeling it’s symbolic of my whole ‘healthy me’ kick. True confession time: I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I’m afraid to get on the scale, because I know I’ve gained weight. I’m not exercising – well, unless 10 minutes every week or two counts. My focus has been on other things, which is fine, but I really need to be able to focus on those other things without losing the vision for my physical, emotional and spiritual self. Bottom line, I’m disappointed in me. I know I can do better.

Deep breath. Now I’m going to reframe everything I just said. Here goes.

When I moved from my house a year-and-a-half ago, I sorted through the boxes in my basement. (You know the boxes I’m talking about. THOSE boxes. The stacks and stacks and STACKS of boxes that accumulate over a lifetime. The ‘I’ll get to this later’ boxes. The ‘oh, I can’t bear to get rid of it though I don’t know what I’ll ever do with it’ boxes. The ‘I don’t want to deal with it, and out of sight is out of mind’ boxes. Yeah, those.) I reviewed, reorganized, and let loose the myriad items that no longer served me.

Fast forward to the past few weeks, where I’ve been sorting boxes that have accumulated in the basement of my life. This time, I’ve reassessed what I do and why. I’ve reorganized my time. I’ve given myself permission to quit focusing on that which I felt I ‘had’ to do or was ‘supposed’ to do. As a result, my life is larger. My vision is clearer. And I’ve acted on that vision.

I’m becoming more realistic about my health goals. Bryan and I were watching Orange is the New Black last night. I looked at the leading actress, Taylor Schilling, who happened to be naked at the time, and said, “Wow. Look at that flat tummy and firm everything.” And Bryan responded, “Yes, and it’s a full-time profession to look like that. She has to spend at least four hours in the gym every day to maintain it.”

Right. (And by the way, I’m married to the best man EVER. I’m just sayin’.)

I don’t have that time. Wait. That’s not true. I absolutely do have that time. I have exactly the same amount of hours available to me every day as she does (Twenty-four, last I checked.) It’s just that, for me, spending hours in a gym doesn’t interest me. And that means I need to readjust my ideas. Quit making ‘flat tummy, firm everything’ my goal. I can’t reach that goal, because I don’t really want it, not enough to discipline myself to do it. That means it’s really not that important. To continue the analogy, I can get rid of the contents of that particular box.

What IS that important to me is writing and photographing, using my images and my words to enrich the world. What IS that important is speaking to individuals and to groups, encouraging them until I see the SPARK that tells me their fire is lit. What IS that important is being a conduit of the Divine into the world through word, sacrament, and image.

Wait. This isn’t new. I’ve already sorted this stuff. Where is that box? Oh. It’s here, under my nose, where it’s been all along.  In it is my candidacy for the Episcopal priesthood. So I’ve re-engaged the process. There is ongoing discernment needed (by me and by others) and that takes a lot of ROOM to unfold. I’m glad I’ve created the space. I did it partly by refocusing my business vision, which meant engaging others to pick up the pieces I needed to let loose.

That’s not easy for me. I am a CONTROL FREAK extraordinaire. What if they don’t do it *right*?

The answer came as I was driving home from church. “It is better for things to be done in a messy, sloppy, joyful way than to have flawless results and a miserable, rigid attitude. Besides, how are you doing at getting it all done?”

Fair enough.

So. The past two years have been about clearing my external space. The last two months have been about clearing my internal space. I’d love to think I’m done and ready to move forward without further delay. But we all know how that works. We are ever and always a work in progress. So, I don’t need to worry about ‘doing better’. I just need to keep on doing.

2 Comments »

In Search of Peggy Porschen’s Marshmallow Puff Recipe

marshmallow puffsEvery morning, as my eyes first open, I reach out and grab my tablet, that I might review what important events have transpired whilst I slumbered.

A cup of coffee usually appears concurrent with the tablet. Have I mentioned just how much I love my husband? Not only does he bring me coffee in bed each morning, but he doesn’t even TRY to converse with me until the first cup has disappeared.

I begin by viewing the most vital pages: Facebook. Twitter. Path. Instagram. Tumblr. A couple of online comics that I follow. Pinterest.

Pinterest was my downfall this morning. As I scrolled through, virtuously repinning autumn-themed quinoa recipes, my eyes stopped – dead – on a beautiful pastel photo. The caption: Peggy Porschen’s Marshmallow Puff Recipe.

Squirrel!  Marshmallows, homemade or not, do not belong in my diet regimen, which I renewed just this week. You see, I kind of ditched diet and exercise – and writing – during the past month, due to moving…and moving…and moving. When I had time to think about that, which was rarely, I wondered if I should be discouraged about my inability to maintain an optimal health regimen during my hyper-busy times, which is probably when I need it most.

After a few microseconds of deep reflection, I always came to the same conclusion: fuck it. It made me tired just to consider worrying about…whatever it was I was worrying about. What was I worrying about?

On a TOTALLY unrelated topic, have I mentioned I’ll be 56 in less than a week? Ah, demon menopause, you robber of thoughts.

However, an upside of menopause is what I call the fuck-it effect. “What was I thinking? Fuck it. Glass of wine, please.” Not only can I now say ‘fuck it’ (because I no longer have young children for whom to model non-profane speech) but I can mean it.

Marshmallow Puffs. I looked at them. Pretty, perfect pastel mounds of deliciousness, one floating daintily in the coffee.

Diet be damned. I clicked on the link. And came to a page that was NOT marshmallow puffs. Why do people have difficulty understanding that when they see something they like on a blog, they have to click on the particular post if they wish to link to it? Otherwise, future clickers are treated to the latest blog post, not the pertinent one. This is serious. World peace may be threatened, Deep breath. OK then. Plan B: google Peggy Porschen Marshmallow Puff Recipe, and find the original link.

I started down the results list. One link took me to the same adorable image, with a ‘click here for recipe’ button that looped you back to the current page. No recipe. Just the photo. I clicked it several times, because I hadn’t finished that first cup of coffee, and therefore thought that perhaps I COULD yield a different result if I clicked smartly enough.

Finally, I clicked another link. Expired. Panic began to set in. I NEEDED that marshmallow recipe!

I finally found it on a UK website. All measurements in metric. Moment of truth. Did I really want the marshmallows badly enough to do the conversions?

Fuck it. Turns out, what I really want is a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and another cup of coffee.

PS: So it turns out Peggy Porschen is a thing. Her boutique baking books (nice alliteration, huh?) are quite popular. Here’s one: Boutique Baking: Delectable Cakes, Cookies and Teatime Treats

PPS: The recipe is here: Peggy Porschen’s Marshmallow Puffs .You’ll have to do your own conversions. I’m busy slurping quinoa squash soup.

Leave a comment »

Be Boring, Part Two

eggLast post, I talked about the importance of creating a set pattern of meals and snacks. Today, I want to share my current routine.

Cherie’s Diet Routine

1) Pre-breakfast snack: 2-3 bites of active culture, fat-free yogurt. This feeds my gut flora, and starts my digestion off right!

Coffee. Lots of coffee. With a little skim milk. Don’t talk to me about health benefits vs. health costs. I need my coffee.

2) Breakfast: an egg and half a banana. My tummy can be touchy in the morning, and an egg always goes down easy. Bananas are potassium rich, which is good for the heart, skeletal and muscle systems. Potatoes, beans, dried fruit, tomatoes and yogurt are also great sources of potassium.

3) Mid-morning snack: 1 tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon raw cashews (or almonds), 2 dried figs.

4) Lunch: 2 oz of protein (OK, I do have some variety here), seasonal fresh fruit, a cup of cooked veges. Sometimes I add a slice of whole grain bread (i.e, a sandwich.)

5) Mid-afternoon snack: salad greens with lemon juice, 1 tablespoon nuts/seeds, 1 tablespoon dried fruit.

6) Dinner – ADVENTURE! Now I’m feeling like a bit of variety. Quinoa or fish? Steak or lamb? Or perhaps grilled zucchini topped with pepper-jack cheese? A baked potato with broccoli? I love me some variety now!

&) Evening snack: a small glass of wine. I try not to eat anything after 7 pm, because it’s healthy to go to bed a little hungry.

This routine works for several reasons:

  •  I love nuts and dried fruit. A lot. They are good for me, and it feels like a treat every time I ‘get’ to have some.
  • Because I change my fresh fruits seasonally,I’m always excited about them.
  •  I happen to like my vegetables well-cooked (I drink the water they’re steamed in, so I retain the vitamins) so that’s how I eat them. I don’t have to eat them raw, no matter how many others do – it’s OK to have preferences! Even those with picky tastebuds can find ways to succeed. We all know what a healthy diet looks like (and if you don’t, here’s a book that makes it easy to understand: Nutrition Made Simple)
  •  I’m busy, and it’s easy. I don’t have to spend much time on preparation. I don’t have to think. I can fall into it, rather than fight uphill.

I’ve found that my regimen changes naturally. I was on an almond kick for the longest time. Now, it’s cashews. Come autumn, it will likely become filberts or walnuts. You notice, I don’t really have to *think* about it. Same with dried fruit. If Trader Joe’s doesn’t have figs, I substitute prunes. Or dates. Or raisins. My routine continues unchanged – a tablespoon of what’s in my cupboard.

The important thing is to be sure it really IS there, otherwise my need for crunch may lead me to potato chips, my craving for sweet to candy or donuts. I do live in the land of Voodoo Donuts, after all!

So, be boring. You have my permission. (Picture me waving my hand in divine dispensation.) Make a diet routine – one that you LIKE. It’s oh-so-much-easier to stick with a healthy lifestyle if you do!

Leave a comment »

Be Boring, Part One

green and red healthy foodThere are so many healthy food options! If you’re like me, it can be overwhelming to coordinate three meals plus three snacks (or so) every day. Pretty soon, it’s too much work, and we give up.

A while back, I read a bit of advice that really helped:

“Eat the same breakfast and lunch every day. Choose the same snacks. Vary only your dinner.”

On the surface, that seems like a recipe (pun intended) for failure. If we get bored with our food, we’re unlikely to stick with a diet, right?

Turns out, that’s not the case. We humans are creatures of habit – including what we eat. And in our busy lives, what we really want is NOT HAVE TO THINK about it! That’s why diet plans that provide all the food – often at exorbitant prices – are so popular.

But we can don’t have to turn control of our diet over to a corporation. We can do it for ourselves by making it easy!

Here’s how:

Step One. Find your ‘golden foods’ – those things that delight you AND are good for you. Make a list. What do you like to eat? Are you an oatmeal and fruit fan? Eat it. Every morning. It’s good for you.

Step Two. Pay attention to your nutritional needs (and weight-loss goals) and choose foods accordingly. Oatmeal is a good breakfast. It’s not a good breakfast, snack AND lunch item. Nutritionally, you need variety. Add protein, vegetable, more fruit, another complex carbo, and a little fat into the mix.

How about half a nut butter sandwich (doesn’t HAVE to be peanut butter)? Or tuna mixed with yogurt and apple (and a little horseradish mustard for zing)? Look for variety. Find yummy, healthy, EASY foods – then stick to them.

Step Three. Write it out. Post it on your fridge, your computer, wherever you’ll see it at a glance. Add your *new* staples to the shopping list. Make sure these foods are always available in your kitchen.

Voila! Done.

Now you have a diet routine. And routine is GOOD!

In my next post, I’ll finish up this discussion and share my current food regimen.

Leave a comment »

Hodge Podge

Today’s post is a hodgepodge of unrelated bits I’ve been meaning to share for a couple of weeks now. Short and sweet – here they are!

No retouching

No retouching

1) Remember the frown remedy I shared earlier? I thought you’d like to see the update. Honey & sports tape really works!

Time to remove some SCOBY! Anyone need starter?

Time to remove some SCOBY! Anyone need starter?

2) Kombucha’s made ALL the difference for me. I have noticeably more energy, and noticeably less appetite. Everything I’ve read states its chock-full of probiotics, and it’s ridiculously easy to make! I don’t know if it’s responsible for the redistribution of weight that I’ve been experiencing (tummy and hips are shrinking, while weight remains fairly static), but I’m not messing with a good thing. Love me some kombucha! Get Kombucha starter HERE (cheap!) Also, I highly recommend Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. He explains how to make kombucha and MANY other fermented foods.

 

From my favorite boutique, http://twillclothing.com/

From my favorite boutique, http://twillclothing.com/

3) Sometimes bribes work.

This dress has hung in my bedroom since I purchased it two months ago. I knew it would look great on me once I lost a bit of weight, so I bought it, then put it where I would see it EVERY time I entered the room.

As you can see, it’s a summer dress, so if I was going to enjoy it this year, I needed to remain dedicated to my exercise and diet plan. Many times I wandered into the bedroom, forbidden food in my hand, saw the dress, and put the food away.

I’m pleased to announce that I wore the dress this weekend! I felt very pretty, though I still have some ‘redistributing’ to go before it looks PERFECT. Putting my *reward* where I could see it all the time was a good ploy for me.

Now we all know, Cherie can be bribed. 🙂

In my next post, I’ll be talking about the medical effects of obesity. It’s pretty sobering. As a woman approaching her third ‘time trimester’, I am oh-so-aware that how I treat my body NOW will hugely affect my future quality – and quantity – of life.

Leave a comment »

Back to *Normal*

wilson 06July was a whirlwind month of family, weddings and celebrations. Now everyone has returned home and my life is back to normal.

Wait. Normal? What does *normal* look like? I have to stop and think. It turns out, I have a short memory for such things. 🙂 Normal, for now, includes:

Exercise. Bike riding. Walking. Yoga. Dancing.I didn’t engage in ANY of these activities in July, so now they *feel* like drudgery, not fun. Sigh. Time to rebuild the memory muscles, so I can rebuild the physical muscles.

Diet. I lost a couple of pounds, despite being too busy to use my Lose-It app or even think of counting calories. The ‘reset’ I gave myself with the extremely lo-cal diet in June obviously helped. My psyche just doesn’t require as much food input to feel satisfied.

Altar. Spirituality is very important to me, but like the other disciplines, it went missing while the celebration ensued.

– – – – –

I’m not going chastize myself for failing to maintain my healthy habits, but I will take time to examine the past few weeks, and strategize for future success.

Today, I’ll start with Mariel Hemingway’s gentle Yoga Now video, and a two-mile walk to the library and back. I’ll sit at my altar and meditate. I’ll open my Lose-It app and get back to it. I still have weight to lose, and a lot of toning of physical and spiritual muscles to accomplish.

Onward!

Leave a comment »

Another Voice, Same Refrain

“What did you expect – a name of something that you can eat or drink and the next day you’re fit?”

I loved this post by fellow blogger, Eduart (who lives in Albania!): The Solution on Losing Weight Is…

Thanks, Eduart!

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: