Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dinner Tonight

I get asked quite often by the curious, by those who want to bring about some transformation, what I eat. In a nutshell, I avoid cow dairy and gluten. Not because I'm lactose intolerant or have Celiac Disease, but because my Guiding Lights, Dallas Page and Terri Lange, recommended it. Said it would be well worth the initial sacrifice. Several months later, I'm down 130 pounds...I think they were right.

I'm by no means suggesting that my problems were magically erased by eliminating these two things from my food intake. If only. The whole point of this blog is to underscore the reality that significant excess weight and being a little too in love with food is a complex issue. I required much more than a food plan to heal. Recovery and balance are rooted in the physical (eating and exercise), mental/emotional (riding out the feelings that I would normally douse with the chemical effects of fatty carbs), and spiritual (paying attention to that part of me which is incorporeal, if you will. The essence of who I am).

But bottom line is, I've gotta eat, right? When I started working with Dallas Page ( 10 months ago, I knew some serious fine-tuning of my eating habits was in order (must of had something to do with living on potato chips and clam dip). But I also knew I couldn't be too strict with myself because otherwise I'd just be looking at my watch counting down the minutes to a prison-break.

Dieting is a big part of what not only got me fat, but got me extremely out of balance on all three of the levels I mention above. Twice in my life I've shed 100 pounds and gained it back. The second gain-back turned me off of dieting for good. So I went to the other extreme and ate whatever and I mean whatEVER I wanted for 15 years. Hey, I had a lot of fun along the way. I'm not on a high horse here. Remember Whitney Houston telling Oprah she had some 'gooood times' during her drugging years? I totally relate. In some ways the 15 years of eating was a spiritual journey. The bigger I got the more determined I was to prove to the world and our country's fat-phobic society that I was still a worthy human being. And lemme tell you, if self-esteem can be nailed at 345 pounds, it's nailed. How I felt physically was another story. I guess in some ways my good genes worked against me: I had no health problems, blood pressure was normal, no family history of heart disease or cancer, cholesterol good, yada-yada. But airplane travel and movie theater seats became unthinkable. And I wore black everyday for 15 years which I didn't realize until a few months ago, I hated. There was no proverbial dire warning handed to me from my doctor, but I couldn't deny that my limited mobility was really not that fun to live with. Which is why I became willing to eat less and do the fine-tuning required with certain food choices.

My best advice when people ask me about food is that it ultimately has to be tailored to your preferences and dislikes. Who knows yourself better than you? And that's how I handled my transition from bingeing to balance. Don't have a sweet tooth but I love salt and fat. When I crave it I make eggplant latkes for dinner. (Don't knock it, they're AMAZING!). And when I'm having a bad day and want to swan dive back into a bowl of clam dip, I make a dairy-free version using tofu cream cheese and a can of minced clams (it may sound lame, and no, it's not as good as the kind I made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but I'm down 10 sizes. Fair trade). And vegetables? You could call it a love affair in progress. I've never been much of a fan. But my goal is balance, so I incorporate them as painlessly as I possibly can.

Since it's absolutely freeeeezzzzing where I live, I made a puree tonight that warmed my stomach and my heart. Here's the recipe if you want to try. Bon Appetit!

Cauliflower-Scallion Puree

1 bag frozen cauliflower florets
3 ounces sheep's milk feta, crumbled
1/3 cup tofu sour cream or goat's milk yogurt
1 bunch scallions, rinsed and chopped
Salt to taste

Place cauliflower in large sauce pan. Add enough water to just cover bottom of the pan (essentially you'll be steaming the vegetables). Sprinkle with salt. Add chopped scallions, sprinkle with a little more salt. Cook covered over medium-high heat until water reaches a boil, then turn heat back to medium and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork-tender. Turn heat off and add feta and yogurt. Cover and let the heat from the vegetables work through it for a few minutes. Then puree everything with an immersion blender or in a food processor.

This is JUST what I needed tonight!

...admittedly, not very exciting, which is why pureeing them is IMPERATIVE.

...lumpless perfection.

The sun set at 3:30 p.m. today, it's arctic outside, a tangible reminder of spring is in order.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

There Will Always Be Sacrifice

I'm not sure what was more important to me: food itself or the concept of avoiding sacrifice.

For so many years, I didn't want to sacrifice food, quanitity, or flavor. That was the most unthinkable and most unacceptable punishment I could think of. And it fit nicely with my mission at the time (1990-2009), which was to be militantly against society's standard of what women are supposed to look like. Oh yeah, and that women aren't supposed to admit they enjoy food. I must say, I took it pretty far, and actually ended up enlightening a few knuckle-draggers along the way.

But there's always a yin to every yang. So while every taste bud in my mouth wanted for nothing, there was some stuff going on below the neck that I didn't want to acknowledge. Exactely a year ago I stepped on the scale at my doctor's office and for once, left my eyes open (for years I'd either look away or shut my eyes whenever I had to get on a scale). I knew I'd be looking at an all-time high, and as the nurse said the numbers '345' aloud, a little voice somewhere inside said, 'Honey, the party's over.'

This sacrifice thing contains more than a little irony: When I wasn't sacrificing with food, I was sacrificing physical freedom and mobility. After finding YRG and being counseled by Dallas Page and Terri Lange, I started to accept that physical freedom would mean eating significantly less food, and I became willing to do it.

Gone were the torrid make-out sessions with Italian bread limp with cascades of melted butter, bags of potato chips, bowls of clam dip, glistening french fries buried in salt-showers. Oh I could go on! But I had to trade it in if I wanted the mobility, the freedom, the joys of not being in prison. Never thought it could be done. I loved food too much. But I'm living proof it can be done. (Note to anyone who adores food and/or has ridden with a lifetime gate pass the diet-binge roller coaster: by no means does this mean I gave up pleasureable eating. More on that in later posts. God I LOVE Food!)

Guess what I'm saying is, there will always be sacrifice. It's up to me what form it takes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sometimes...Daily Newspapers Contain Prophecy

What a wild ride it's been. As these photos illustrate, I like food. Who doesn't? Did I like it more than the average kid? Who knows. It could have been a molotov cocktail of genetics and being born at a time when the fast food age was dawning. Unearthing the origins aren't as important as what happened: hardcore dieting by age 10. Followed by an infinity wheel of hell that spun me into vertigo. For the next 35 years it would be either deprivation and gluttony. Nothing in the middle.

And there was nothing out there powerful enough to make it stop.

You’d think the pain of being bullied at school would have been enough. Or having to sneak into the boy’s department of Sears to buy my clothes. Or gaining back 100 pounds after uncountable consecutive Weight Watcher meetings. Or stepping on the scale and buckling with shock as I look down and see the red arrow point to 305.

You would think one of these would sufficiently entice reformation.

But the truth is, there’s not enough motivation in the world, negative or positive, to change the behavioral blueprint of someone who targets food with the determination of a missile seeking the nearest heated object.

What do we do with that primal desire implanted in all of us to seek pleasure and avoid pain? Mother Nature’s most foolproof survival skill has become an Achilles heel in the age of instant gratification, whether it’s credit cards, cocaine, or crème de menthe brownies.

For most of my life I’ve been dancing with desire. On the surface, it appeared to be a desire for food, but food is only the mask my desire wears on the occasion that it wants the things I never new I was truly longing for: Love, a sense of belonging, self-acceptance, and balance. The core of my story is how seeking a high from food has run me ragged, or rather, how my desire to feel better than I did an hour ago, or 10 minutes ago runs me ragged, how I struggled with the cycle for decades, and lived with monumental weight gain, residual bigotry, and self-hatred, until I finally found a way out.

What sets my story apart from other Cinderella weight-loss transformations is mine occurred from the inside out. Though it runs counter to the logic of the (inherently corrupt) diet industry, showering myself with acceptance, empathy, and patience proved to be the Holy Grail of lasting peace and meaningful change.

That's the Truth. And that's what I'm committed to exploring. Wanna come?