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What are you eating lately?

September 24, 2010

Here’s just a little bit of what I’ve been eating- (I eat a lot.) I’m too busy to work much on both the blogs and work, so here’s lots of posts in one. In the last month or so, I’ve been eating a ton of greens, nuts and seeds, sprouted grains and sushi as a treat. I’ve been working out as much as I can, so when I’m really hungry, I really eat. I’m making an effort to stay hydrated and not eat late at night, but sometimes, I just decide it’s not the worst thing I could be eating if I want a banana at midnight still. Baby steps. I think the key to my continued and consistent success will hinge on my gentleness and forgiveness for myself. So If I want it, I have it. And that has included indulging in two tacos al pastor with chips and salsa, one godiva neapolitan truffle, and some late-night (but healthy) snacks. And I feel that by giving myself a choice, I make it easier to make the right choice, rather than just saying no to everything right away- sooner or later you hit a stressful time and suddenly feel deprived and get bad carb-crazy. This week has been a struggle in that department, I’m not going to lie. I’ve been feeling anxious and stressed and I spent some time in the “healthy” chip and cracker and goodie section of Sprouts this week, twice in fact. I’ve managed to tear myself away both times, hands empty and head to a better aisle. But sometimes when I’m stressed, it just seems like a bag of veggie booty and cheddar bunnies will make everything all better. It’s mental and I’m coming to realize that, so I talk myself through. Kind of sad to feel like a drug addict, but really we all get addicted to food and have to consciously make a decision to NOT use it as a way to soothe our stress. I’m focused on food choices, and portion sizes are flexible but getting smaller as I become more mindful naturally.

I also broke away from my stint of addiction to xenadrine. I want to have extra energy at work, but that’s not the way I want to do it. I don’t want to be addicted to food, or coffee or anything else, so why an I taking them? They made me feel great, made my mind go a little faster like caffeine does… but when I stopped taking them- I wasn’t even thinking about it, I just had a day off and didn’t take one- I went out with friends to a bar to watch some football and could not stop yawning! It took me a minute to figure it out- no xenadrine this morning, ugh. Then that night and the next- big headaches. So obviously I was addicted if I went through such clear withdrawals. It took me a couple days of headaches and a good week of stuttering like a dyslexic dork at work, but now I’m feeling rebalanced, super energetic, fueled by fresh juices, vegetables, fruits and lots of water.

This morning I was still feeling stressed so I started to dance & jump rope to work out, but felt like it wasn’t working. Then I tried some yoga instead, but decided I didn’t want to do that either. Then tonight after work I went to our apartment complex gym to attempt running. I know it’s the last frontier, the thing that will challenge me and get results if I can just do it. It will also be a new goal- I want to run the Bolder Boulder 10k next year. I’m not a runner, but maybe I just need to get over it and stop saying I’m not and become one. So tonight I jumped on the treadmill and ran as long as I could and I lasted about 15 minutes running fast. More than I thought I could. At that point it felt like my sports bra was going to suffocate me my chest was so tight, so I walked about 5 minutes. Then I ran again for the rest of 30 minutes! I was pretty happy with my starting point. Plus! I felt great, I really got in the zone and felt my focus returning, my cares were not in the periphery always nagging, but fading, disappearing. Maybe there could be something to this for me!! We’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ok, back to the food.

Sushi parties!

tabbouleh

Yummy green salad with Brianna's (Brand) French Dressing

Greens, sprouts, avocado, green onion, cilantro, almonds, Bragg's

purple potato from the Asian market

Green smoothie- kale, spinach, cilantro, mango juice

Ezekiel sprouted pita with spinach, mushrooms, avocado, sprouts, peppers

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The Middle Road Brings True Happiness

September 11, 2010

via esabet

I feel like I might actually be finding balance in my life- I’m finding that it doesn’t have to be an “on or off” thing.ย  I’ve been through all the extremes- from fast food binges tinged with cocktails to stretches of 100% raw vegan food, no sugar, no alcohol, yoga and spiritual books… All my friends know my back and forth struggles. When I’ve visited friends I’ve brought twizzlers and doritos to watch a fight, and I’ve brought my own packaged salad to Easter dinner so as not to stray from my diet… both a little much, I know. So I’ve been working on having a cookie and then having a salad, and getting gently back to trying, rather than flip flopping back and forth so violently. I tend to beat myself up, and I’ve realized that this negativity towards my imperfections is not serving me, it’s holding me back.

I have good reasons for getting back at trying to make mental, physical and spiritual in earnest. At work, I was recently passed up for a a promotion, largely because of my energy not being high enough. That was a blow- I’m always working on having positive energy. But I know that in the business world it has to do with having tenacity, getting things done, being strong and confident, communicating effectively and breaking through obstacles. I know that I haven’t been taking care ofย  my body and spirit in the ways I should. I’ve been sleeping irregularly, slacking on exercise and yoga, indulging too much in computer/tv time, and getting lazy about food and cooking. I know that maybe if I had been working hard in all the aspects of my life, I might have been in a better position at work! I would have felt better about myself, held my head higher, and known that I can be a leader. I would have shown that I’m a lion, not a little lamb.

I’m thankful for this wake-up call, and now I know there’s no time to waste. You’re either striving to get better, or allowing yourself to get worse. In the words of Norman Walker in one of his books I was reading this morning: “Everything of domestic joy or occupational success must be built of body wholesomeness and vitality.” I have known for a long time that success at life has to be holistic, but I know it now more than ever. And still, honestly I’m struggling. I’ve been so tired lately as a result of not taking care of my body and emotions. I am seeing the positives as much as I can and I’m trying not to take it to personal, but I couldn’t just pretend it doesn’t hurt. I’m already so critical of my self. I’ve been working really hard in a lot of areas in my life, and even though it’s a necessary step to getting better, it’s also hard to hear that you aren’t good enough, that you need to work so much harder still.

So, it’s time to find that motivation. It’s time to be grateful for what I have, what I’ve already attracted and accomplished. I’m being patient with my body and spirit right now as I transition back to healthier living. I’m allowing myself naps as needed, but soon, I want to be the ball of energy I previously was. I can’t let this take energy from me, I need to use it as fuel to jump higher. I am thankful that I have great support. I know that my coworkers truly believe in me, and I’m working on forgiving myself for letting them down. I haven’t wanted to really talk about it too much- when I complain, it doesn’t really help anyone. I feel bad after I put my negativity onto someone else (sorry about that car ride, Badi!), but it’s also been hard holding it in. This is one area I’m really working on in yoga and exercise. Letting out that tension and unhappiness, letting it go and feeling better. I’m also working on communicating honestly, with logic and not emotion.

…Ok I had saved that draft and am picking up the next day! I’ve already felt so much opening in my heart and mind, and success in my efforts. What I’ve decided today is that I am going to transition back into health, but I am not going to add labels and impose rules. A goal of 100% raw food forever was setting myself up for failure, let’s be real. I have discipline, but I am also human. I am going to eat healthy foods as much as I can, make fresh juices and work on my positive energy through movement and meditation. But if I mess up, it’s ok. This is the middle road. I have two feet which alternate steps, and there might be rocks I have to step over or around. One day at a time, I will be getting better and better. Mistakes are making me stronger, and I will always try to remember that ultimately, it is about happiness. It is about how I feel and the happiness that I bring to others. When I don’t feel well or don’t feel good about myself, it hurts my ability to show who I am. I am cultivating the courage to be me.

I am happy with this gentle non-decision. I feel free and motivated, rather than stuck and afraid to make a mistake. I will make mistakes. I will feel pain and suffering. But I can’t let fear stand in my way. I will do my best and also accept my failures as guides, reminders to get back to the middle road.

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Damn wagon. On or off?

July 30, 2010

I guess I like to just joyride on the wagon, hop onto the side, hootin and hollerin, arms flailing, until I get bucked off by some bump in the road and decide to just lay there for a while laughing before I brush myself off and climb back on. I’ve done this, oh a bout a million times. I’m sure a lot of you can relate. I’m just not sure exactly why it happens. I’ve tried everything. I’ve started to refer to my diet as “the endless experiment.”

I know when I eat natural mostly raw foods I feel great. I know when I combine foods the right way, it really helps the way I feel as well…

Why is that simple knowledge not enough? I can’t remember that and do that all the time? I know I need balance, but it it so hard!! So leading up to the wedding I let my stress get to me and started eating whatever I felt like. People were in town wanting to celebrate and I wanted to let loose and celebrate too. There was one night Joel and I were so stressed, we were in agreement that food was the only thing that was going to make us feel better. Why must our brains be wired this way? Our generous families bought all the food and drinks for the wedding, and our amazing selfless friends prepared and served it for us. We saved hundreds of dollars doing it this way, and somehow we still have leftover food from the wedding, enough to last days. Too many days. Turkey wraps, veggie wraps, and pasta salad, chips and salsa, red wine. That’s what we’ve been eating for the last week. Needless to say, I don’t want to waste food and throw money down the drain, but I also can’t eat any more pasta salad.

Further confessions. Today at work I ate some oreos. Ugh. Afterward I could barely keep my eyes open on the drive home. I was eating them laughing at myself, thinking facetiously “wow, this is going to be great for the blood sugar” And yet still I ate them, and of course it was so regrettable. I just had some more pasta salad and feel like taking a nap. OH AND we had leftover soda pop and I was drinking them thinking well, they’re nice for a bit and then they’ll be gone, no big deal. So today I went to grab one and they were gone! I looked all over, searched the fridge, looked in all the cupboards, and then thought “Maybe we can just get a few more.” And then I realized- I am already addicted, in less than a week. I want that soda so bad right now! I haven’t had one in quite some time and the first one was so delicious! I just can’t believe how badly I struggle with this, but I guess most people do. It’s not just a matter of fitness and weight, though that is an issue- I feel so chubby and gross, though my weight is stable as all my muscle is just melting into fat. That sucks, seeing myself in the mirrors when I walk by them at work- what I see and feel are often two different things. Feeling the pants too tight, feeling the arms getting flabby- whatever, I know I can get back to working out and being more lean. But the day-to-day feelings are the worst. The tiredness, the inability to puts words together that come out of my mouth that make any sense!! This one is super annoying, especially when I’m at work and I can’t think and get words out to save my life. These “symptoms” are not acceptable.

Right now I’m totally off the wagon but trying to swing my leg over the side and get in but it won’t stop moving! I’ve gone into that place where I’m eating anything and everything. I even had some drinks the other night. (BTW if you’ve never had a Sexy Alligator, I recommend it!)

Sexy Alligator

I had lots of leftover wine and tried some Fat Tire from our keg. Each time I thought it would make me feel fun and light and sexy… nope, opposite. I did want to keep drinking because the buzz was fun for a little while, but by the time I get enough to keep me buzzed, I’ve had so much I just want to sleep and feel gross. This reminded me of Philip McCluskey of LovingRaw and his book The World’s Sexiest Diet which I’ve been wanting to buy for a while. I think it’s time. I’m still on my “honeymoon” even if I am still at home and already started back to work! I need to feel light and airy and lovely. Pasta salad, oreos and pepsi are not exactly helping. Plus, all I want is fast food right now- tacos, pizza, hamburgers- oh, and candy, ice cream, and cookies, which is when I know its gotten bad. And no, I’m not pregnant but I’m very scared for the cravings that will happen someday when I am!!

I’m cleaning out the fridge as soon as I finish this blog, taking the extra food to work or throwing it out, and going shopping for fresh new food. I know the back and forth isn’t the greatest way, but I know it’s better than not trying at all. I accept that this might not be the last time ever I eat bad food, but I am recommitted to being aware of how my body and mind feel and doing my best to be at my best as much of the time as possible and minimizing the time that I’m feeling affected by poor choices. That’s the best I can do.

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Relax & Recover

May 30, 2010

When you lifted a lot the day before and really taxed your muscles, they will be sore the next day and that’s a good thing. When you do it right, you really do need a day to recover those muscles. I’ve been doing a lot of weights and cardio, so today needs to be a light day. I have a few favortie routines that I like to use for a light day. Usually I’ll focus on stress relief and flexibility. I’ll go in order of required energy, because sometimes you want a little more or less.

  • power yoga/pilates – MTV Yoga/MTV Pilates, Trainer’s Edge: Long & Lean
  • dance -New York City Ballet workout or various belly dancing
  • exercise ball stretching – Balance Ball videos from Gaiam
  • kundalini yoga – Dance the Chakras or anything else by Ravi and Ana, also try Shiva Rea and Maya Fiennes
  • full-body stretching routine – Bikini Body Fitness Long & Lean stretching is very thorough

FOODS FOR RECOVERY & MUSCLE BUILDING

Rather than thinking of muscle foods like a body builder and eat a processed “protein bar” and bagel right after a workout, I think of ways to always be supporting tissue regeneration with by getting a lot of protein from different sources to cover all the amino acids. These are the true building blocks of your body! Getting protein from one source every day, like chicken or whey is not good enough. Instead try:

  • greens, sprouts, broccoli
  • quinoa & oatmeal
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • spirulina and sea vegetables
  • snap peas and sweet peas
  • beans & legumes
  • fat free cottage cheese
  • natural Greek yogurt/kefir
  • eggs
  • turkey, chicken
  • salmon, cod, halibut, tuna
  • soaked/sprouted nuts & seeds
  • almond butter, cashew butter
  • hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkins seeds
  • almond milk, hemp milk
  • goji berries
  • avocados, figs, & coconut all provide essential amino acids
  • bee pollen

You’ll hardly ever find one place recommending all of these protein sources. Yes, I use raw and cooked, vegan and animal products. These are just the ways I get protein now after experimenting on my own and combining information from a lot of different sources because that’s how it makes sense to me. What works for you? What are your favorite ways to get protein?

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Can food help stop migraines?

May 29, 2010

Ugh, again?

Maybe there is relief!

Of course everyone is different and has different triggers, but more than we think, everything is inter-related. So though it seems like separate issues are at work than diet and exercise, they may work in closer connection than it seems. For instance, some headaches are hormonal- food and exercise, especially regular maintenance, can affect hormones. Some headaches are related to stress. Again, food and activity levels can help alleviate stress. I still get migraines, maybe one every six months, though I never seem to get other regular headaches like I used to all the time. I get them so infrequently now that I hardly recognize the start like I used to. I know it’s a migraine when I start to feel nauseous with the pain and general un-ease. Well, I’m not sure if it’s a migraine or a tension headache, but with the nausea occuring, I file it under migraine. Anyway, I gave myself a huge hard knot in my neck yesterday that turned into nausea after stressing while crunching some household numbers and thinking about debt. I had eaten enough, I felt I had eaten the right foods, looking back though I had certainly not had enough water, and lately I’ve been focusing on taking my cardio and weights to a whole new level and haven’t done ANY yoga, mediation or pilates for 7 days. So all of that combined to give me a little one. I classify that one as little because I was able to breathe through it and massage my neck and body until I fell asleep without taking any medicine, and when I woke up, the pain was gone, though my neck still had tension. It still does, tomorrow yoga is in order. SO the point here is that there are so many things to analyze when it comes to what’s happening in our bodies. I’ve become so sensitive that now anything that hurts, any kind of strange issue and I take it as a sign to change something about what I’m doing. Our bodies and minds are meant to feel good, and I know I need to manage my stress more regularly. I also just happened upon this excerpt while searching for more information on the protein and amino acids in quinoa since I’m trying to build and tone muscle. Quinoa is one of my favorite “grains” which is really actually more of a seed, technically. This fact may explain why it is so high in nutrition and low in glycemic load.

FINDING ANSWERS

Over at my one of my go-to websites for nutrition information, whfoods.com that I had mentioned earlier, I found all this extra goodness about quinoa and was only then actually inspired to write this post.

Help for Migraine Headaches

If you are prone to migraines, try adding quinoa to your diet. Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines. Increased intake of magnesium has been shown to be related to a reduced frequency of headache episodes reported by migraine sufferers. Quinoa is also a good source of riboflavin, which is necessary for proper energy production within cells. Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) has been shown to help reduce the frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers, most likely by improving the energy metabolism within their brain and muscle cells.

SOURCE: whfoods.com

Awesome huh? I just wanted protein, but never having another tension headache escalate into nausea would be a-ok with me!

SO WHAT ARE SOME FOODS THAT COULD HELP?

Super spinach salad with almonds: magnesium & tryptophan!

  • Peppermint
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ginger
  • Fish and fish oil
  • Foods rich in calcium (such as spinach, broccoli and kale)
  • Foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach
  • Oatmeal
  • Garlic

CAN WE GET MIGRAINE-FIGHTING SEROTONIN FROM FOOD SOURCES?

Serotonin, one of our body’s mood-regulating, feel-good chemicals, seems to be lacking in a lot of our systems, because we are so prone to mood swings, depression and headaches. If we don’t want to or can’t go the Prozac route, are there other options for boosting mood with serotonin? There ARE actually foods that can help us raise serotinin levels naturally. Though our bodies don’t get serotonin through foods, the body makes serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. Good sources of this particular amino acid include:

Cottage cheese provides tryptophan & protein

  • turkey
  • black eyed-peas
  • black and English
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • sesame
  • pumpkin seeds
  • wheat germ
  • granola
  • cottage cheese
  • egg
  • chicken

Serotonin levels also fall as estrogen levels fall, which could be why migraines seem to creep around at certain times of the month… something to keep in mind so that we can really emphasize these techniques as a preventative measure and see if there is any improvement.

SOURCE: www.relieve-migraine-headache.com

MOVE & GROOVE

If you hate the gym, no problem!

Exercise also naturally starts the flow of lots of “natural high” juices flowing through our bodies. Serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins give us feelings of euphoria and might also help prevent these nasty headaches. It doesn’t have to be high-impact or terrible; do something you love! Tennis, hiking, swimming, dancing (my mood booster of choice!), rebounding, yoga, kickboxing… find your groove and enjoy the chemical bliss in your body and your brain. If you have a reason that you can’t exercise for a period of time, you can try acupuncture, massage, meditation, or sex to get the good stuff flowing too.

WOW, ANYTHING ELSE?

I’m glad you asked. ๐Ÿ™‚ Avoiding dependence on caffeine to get through the day might seem daunting but it will get you off a roller-coaster of ups and downs that really mess with your brain and your body in a big way. Sugar- same thing. Sugar comes in many forms these days, which should we avoid? All. As many as possible! Another possible trigger for me last night: molasses. I had about a half a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses (for the B vitamins) with a multi-vitamin yesterday, actually too late in the day maybe. I also had a tablespoon of nutritional yeast… maybe I OD’d on B vitamins…Maybe it wasn’t those, but they’re on my list of suspects. Anyway, I’ve quit soda and coffee and have some tea green, white and herbals teas here and there. Red Bulls, Rock Stars and tons of shots of espresso may be a badge of toughness to some- it shows that your body has become so accustomed that you’re a regular lover of coffee, but possibly also so addicted, so in need of the caffeine to function that a dependency is at work. Another myth that should be dispelled is that tea has as much caffeine as coffee. A Starbucks grande coffee has 300 miligrams of caffeine. An average drip coffee has 115-175 mg. Teas, including green, range from 15-60mg. Caffeine issues can also affect sleep. AND sleep issues can trigger migraines. It all comes full circle again. So I’d say try to wean off of stimulants like sugar and caffeine as much as possible.

I hope everyone can find relief from any and all pain and suffering they are feeling! I’m no doctor, but I love to research these kinds of things, so if you have an ailment or a particular issue happening right now, feel free to comment or otherwise contact me with a suggestion for a future post and I’ll do my best to find some great information! In most cases, there isn’t a cure but “best practices” that will really help alleviate or at least not exacerbate the problems. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lettuce Wrap vs. Sandwich: A Real Knock-Down Drag-Out

May 27, 2010

I think I’ve made a big difference in my caloric over intake and my energy and fitness levels just by making one switch- no more bread! I’ll eat a little whole grain pasta here and there, I LOVE Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas, and here and there we go to Subway and I get honey oat bread with my sandwich. But I don’t really eat a slice of bread or make a sandwich very often. So now that I’ve cut it out pretty completely, I was shown just how much of a difference it makes! We were graciously given a large box of a delicious bread eatery’s unsold, gorgeous, various breads- french, white, wheat, spicy, cheesy, round, regular, rolls, bagels… and being on a super-strict grocery budget, we felt like it was Christmas! I made a sandwich immediately with an everything-seed type torpedo roll with avocado, Italian herbs, olive oil, pepper and golden balsamic vinegar. Yes, yum. Then over that evening and the next day I surely had a few slices of different breads and a bagel. No big deal right, everyone eats bread? Ugh. I felt yucky, needed naps, gained 5 pounds in as many days and felt so bloated I couldn’t suck in my stomach. Then my knees and ankles hurt for two days and I could barely do any plyo or cardio without being in slight pain somewhere in my joints.

I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I stopped eating the bread immediately after feeling the effects and haven’t had any since. I’ve had brown rice, beans, vegetables, salad fixings and various dressings in romaine leaves instead. I make Asian wraps- anything I would wrap in nori- or Mexican- anything I would put in a taco. You can basically make a favorite salad but instead of chopping the lettuce with it, keep the leaves whole and spoon the salad mixture into the leaves. Tabbouleh, barley salads, burrito fillings, herbed cottage cheese… I’ve loved them all over the past few months and it just keeps getting better. Here’s my take on why:

  1. The versatility
  2. It’s fun to eat, like a little taco
  3. It’s fun to make them, you can have quite a few and make each one a little different
  4. Making them and eating them one at a time slows down the pace of the meal to a rate where you get full before you overeat
  5. It’s much harder to overeat as far as calories anyway when you are eating filling, nutritious greens rather than bread
  6. This one may be my favorite: romaine keeps longer than pretty much any other lettuce I’ve tried. Arugula goes bad quickly, green leaf and read leaf keep a little longer. Baby spinach does pretty well, but still starts to get gross somewhat quickly sometimes depending on how old it already was when you bought it. But romaine stays crisp and crunchy for a week or more! Sometimes the outer leaves are floppy- just take them off, it’s better to anyway to get rid of any yucky pesticides. Then just chop off the end, and your hands are full of delicious, crispy taco shells!

Here’s a picture of my lettuce wrap lunch today!

So how much better is it to eat a lettuce wrap than a sandwich, burrito or taco? Enough to make a difference? YES! Read more about the many virtues of romaine here, including the fact that it provides lutein, folic acid and iron which are super-important, especially to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and need to provide body-building blocks to another human while sustaining their own bodies!

Here’s a look at how they match up in the Glycemic Index, even though these fighters aren’t even in the same weight class ๐Ÿ™‚

Romaine Lettuce: 15

Whole Wheat Breads: 60-90

White Breads: 70-100

Baguette: 95

These numbers indicate how quickly a food raises your blood sugar- the higher the number, the faster the spike. And the faster the crash and craving for more of the same…

But, if you must have bread, romaine can still save the day. When you eat greens along with a high GI food, the blood sugar level is moderated by the greens, so even if you eat the same bread, the spike won’t be as high. Pretty cool, huh? You’ll still be getting a lot more calories though. Which leads to the next round!

So I can eat 2 cups of romaine lettuce for 15 calories AND get tons of nutrients that stop cravings?!! Nothing is really going to beat that, but let’s check out the bread anyway… Ok, I couldn’t find the chart on white bread because I got these charts on one of my favorite websites World’s Healthiest Foods, and white bread is not one of the World’s Healthiest foods. By the way, here’s an awesome resource from their site on the Glycemic Index while we’re on the subject! But here are some stats for bulgur wheat- this is wheat in one of it’s healthiest forms, basically it’s only downhill from here as far as breads. But even still, the nutrients don’t stack up at all! And calories for one serving: 151.

That’s a pretty modest calorie estimate for grains, considering that’s for bulgur wheat. To give you an example of a bread you might actually eat with lunch out at a “healthier” soup & salad chain:
Ciabatta

Serving Size: 6.25 oz

Calories: 460

Fat grams: 6

Saturated Fat Grams: 1

Sodium miligrams: 760

Carbohydrate Grams: 84

Fiber Grams: 3

Sugar Grams: 3

Of course, this doesn’t begin to include anything IN the sandwich!

So I’m just going to call this fight because it’s getting awfully bloody in that ring! Winner by unanimous decision: ROMAINE LETTUCE!! Basically, the only contender left with a chance to beat romaine is maybe nori (sushi seaweed wrapper.) But as far as general appeal, affordability, ease of use and storage, adaptability to many recipes, and satisfying crunch and fullness, romaine holds the title of best sandwich swap!

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Willpower… Is it Worth It? Moderation… Is it Possible?

May 27, 2010

What are we to do when junk food is always in our faces?!

"Hey, look at me, I'm a doughnut!!"

Again I’ve been struggling to put my beliefs into an understandable framework, even for myself so I want to work through it in the way that my mind takes me. It makes sense to me, and I value that above most else. So, where to begin… This is an epic post, but stick with it through the explanations if you really want the answer!

So the latest episode of Biggest Loser (***POSSIBLE SPOILER***) was the season finale part one, and all of the final four contestants went home for 30 days prior to the final weigh in. They all struggle at home much more than being on the ranch. One of the most likely to win started giving in to his cravings at night especially. He was doing so well, he’s been losing 5-10 pounds every week, 150 pounds altogether lost in 16 weeks!! He just ran a marathon! Well, this week at the weigh-in he gained 2 lbs. and might go home because of his stress-eating. It was really hard to see that because he was doing so well and then his willpower just crashed.

It was haunting to watch that episode. I know how hard it is because I used to have those same eating tendencies. People don’t understand how often we eat out of emotion or mental exhaustion- it doesn’t just mean you’re crying while eating ice cream. ๐Ÿ™‚ It can mean you’re mindlessly (or willfully) making a huge portion of a favorite comfort meal or hitting the drive-thru after a hard day. Basically, I really have to watch it and I don’t know if anyone understands how much. Everyone I meet seems to say- “Just have some! don’t you want it? You can have a little…” maybe I need to join overeaters anonymous for people to understand- that’s like offering one drink to an alcoholic. A lot of people can apparently have a little of something. Some people have a harder time and I am one of those. It seems like a stretch to equate those two situations, but I don’t think they are that far removed. Food, like drugs and alcohol, changes your body, emotions, hormones, all your chemical reactions- gives you a rush or a moment of calm, feels good, tastes good… Anyone who ever ate a meal with me at all might have noticed I can eat a lot. I love to eat. Eating healthier foods, I can eat so much more volume and feel great! That’s one of the benefits to eating healthy- eating more!! When I eat pizza for instance, (not kidding) I can eat 6, 8 10 pieces. In order to feel full and satisfied, I need to eat so much that if it’s not a healthy food, I’m prone to feeling disgusting and bloated, gaining weight, and feeling guilty. There is the “just have one piece” approach, but it just doesn’t work for me. I would be left wanting more and it doesn’t seem worth it to tease myself. I’d rather be actually satisfied!! That’s the ironic part- it seems eating the pizza would satisfy me. But really eating rice, salad and vegetables is really so much more filling and fulfilling overall. For this reason, I loved Dean Ornish’s concepts. I don’t eat as little fat as he advocates, but I love his research and the way he explained this idea.

I’m not tempted all the time, but sometimes I am, and when I give in it’s like other people are more satisfied. Why is that? Are they worried that I don’t eat enough? Are they trying to justify that they are eating it because they don’t understand why I won’t and it threatens them somehow? I don’t mean to do that, everyone is different and different things work for them. Since I have come to the conclusion that no one will understand me like I understand me, I can’t really rely on anything but my own strength. Not just willpower, but I have to use all means necessary. I need to have patience with people that don’t understand, I have make time to prepare for situations and always have lots of healthy food and drink alternatives to keep me happily eating along with other people. I have to have explanations ready that make sense when people want the full version. I have to have a super-polite short but firm answer when I’m offered something, and remember that they really are probably trying to be nice and let them know I really appreciate it. And I need to forgive myself if I stray a little by my own standards. Doing so will help me get back on track faster than if I just said screw it, I messed up, I’ll just mess up this week. I have to do this all so long and so well that it becomes absolutely easy, second-nature.

I know that moderation and balance are very important, and I feel I am practicing moderation in the ways I can. For me, that doesn’t necessarily mean hit the drive-thru once a week or have a cookie a day. Weird rationalizations can be the downfall of anyone trying to stay disciplined in any endeavor. I have to do my best at this, I can’t accept anything less. I’m doing so well, I want to feel I’ve done my very best. I want to feel and see the results that I desire in my physique but also in my health, mood, complexion and energy. Why work hard just to sabotage it?

I love the challenge of feeding my body with exactly what it needs. I love the challenge of getting healthy food on the tightest budget I’ve ever been on and while being being under a lot of stress. If I can do it now, I can do it forever. I enjoy shopping for healthy food, finding recipes, cooking, and eating food that I know is good for me. I don’t feel deprived very much and if I do, I always realize it’s because I’m comparing myself to other people. Some people can seem to eat whatever they want and not gain weight or be affected physically. I have to remind myself that either they have different genes, different metabolisms, maybe they can easily digest somethings I can’t, or that they can’t either and just think that feeling bloated and tired, having painful joints, acne, digestion issues or a dull sallow complexion is just a part of life. Sometimes people say they are tired, overweight, or get headaches or complain about whatever issue they have and I want to tell them “Hey, I’ve read that eating this helps!” but most of the time I don’t. People don’t think there is any connection and I think they get tired of me always thinking there is. I know there is. People don’t realize how much better they could feel! Food can’t cure everything, but it can really help. Everything we’ve ever been taught practically says the opposite, so I understand the confusion.

Most of what we learn from the mainstream outlets is driven by marketers, CEOs and lobbyists- whether on tv, or even in school it is there- who made the food pyramid, who chooses the foods kids eat in public school programs, who makes pharmaceuticals… are they influenced by people who promote meat and milk and wheat? In short, yes. Are they filthy rich? Yes.ย  Again, I have to think for myself and take charge of my own education. No one is going to care about me while trying make money off me. Every business out there is trying to sell me something and they are going to do it by saying “it’s healthy, you need it, it will make you feel great!” With all these extreme products and foods coming out to make things ever tastier, more stable for shelf-life, faster, more convenient, how do you measure moderation? Is moderation one bite of a KFC Double-Down or a normal size Big Mac Meal? Where is the line when the extreme side keeps moving over? Should the middle line keep moving over to stay in the middle??! I say no. Moderation is possible, but it is impossible to define with a broad stroke. Moderation is relative to each individual!

Source: CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2006

Natural foods always stay there and available, and while our ass-backwards culture drives for efficiency, productivity and profits above all else, we are watching our food habits, food supply, activity levels, and overall health dwindle little by little. In refusing to eat fast food anymore, eat packaged convenience foods and genetically modified foods (they are everywhere), I am also rejecting this cultural movement in favor of keeping things as natural as possible. By eating whatever “food” we want and then making a pill for the ailment we created, we are shortening our lives. That’s the long and short of it. So is this thing we call willpower worth the trouble? Yes!! Moderation is important in that we can’t feel deprived. We have to find the foods that make us feel truly wonderful! For me it used to be onion rings, chips, crackers,cheesy pasta, bread with butter or oil and herbs… Well, now I still feel great, I feel better even. But I find my food pleasures in bananas, avocados, mangos, peppers, berries, snap peas… the list has shifted and sometimes it is a challenge, but overall satisfaction has increased. Anything worth doing isn’t always easy.

By eating real, natural foods, getting plenty of exercise, getting plenty of sleep, water and sunlight, we are living the way our bodies are meant to. So yes, I may have strong beliefs about this, but we all have things we care about. This is one of mine. Eating right is a way of life. And I think when we push through the hard times, the rewards are far beyond anything imaginable!!

So be strong in what you believe, be steadfast in your plan, and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way. When you have a goal to reach, it’s the only way. Period!ย  So the big question is…

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