Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Love Yourself Tuesday

For today's love your yourself Tuesday post, I want to talk about dealing with unhappiness/dis-contentedness/general uncomfortableness. Everyone gets unhappy feelings sometimes. There are many different ways that people cope with these uncomfortable feelings. Some people get really busy so that they don't have to think about it; some people gripe at those around them; some cry and retreat inside themselves. There are many, many ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings.

I am not an expert on unhappiness, but I thought I'd talk a little bit about how I cope, in case it might help someone out there cope in a more loving way. First, it can be important to think about what is causing the unhappiness. Sometimes there is a specific thing that makes us unhappy. We can easily identify it. A pet dies. We don't have enough money to pay our bills. We go to the store for something specific, and they are out of it. Both big events and little events can lead to feelings of sadness and disappointment. When I find myself unhappy because of a specific event, I cope by either fixing or accepting or some combination of the two. If a pet dies, I need to accept because it is not something that can be fixed. The faster that I accept saying to myself, it happened, it cannot be changed, the faster my state of happiness returns. Although it is OK to be sad about sad things, there is no reason to allow a state of uncomfortable discontent to linger.

If I can't pay a bill, a combination approach might be needed. First, I figure out what or when I can pay something, and where the money is going to come from. Then I have to accept that the situation may not be perfect which may lead to some long term fixes like finding ways to increase income. If the store is out of something I wanted or needed, I can choose in the moment either to fix or accept. If I accept, I will just do without. If I fix, I may go to another store. Making the decision is the important thing. Acknowledging that this event is making me unhappy, deciding what to do, and letting go, leads to a better emotional state.

The second kind of unhappiness is the kind that is caused by hormones. I have very little control over it, and it tends to strike me exactly 14 days before my period starts, and yes, it lasts two weeks. It is not as bad as it use to be though because I do know how to cope. First I can label it. That helps. I don't think of it as unhappiness although it pretty much feels the same. I think of it as physical uncomfortableness...sort of like a back ache or sore foot or cold. When I start to cry, and there is no reason whatsoever that I can think of, I look at the calendar first thing, and it is nearly always my ovulation day, and it is no longer a horrible thing. It is empowering! It is just part of who I am. Each month, once I have made that revelation, I can move on doing the next thing living my life with that feeling that I know will pass. OK, I have to deal with it half the time, but it is just like a minor disability. Nothing to keep me down! Once again, acceptance is half the battle. Also it is useful knowing that I do things to minimize it. (In my case, take calcium and vitamin D supplements.)

The third type of unhappiness that I encounter is the most difficult to deal with. It is a general feeling of unhappiness that is not hormonal or caused by an obvious event that I can label. When I find myself experiencing this kind of discontent, I really need to set aside time to find out what is wrong! Usually there is something that seems little that is getting to me. Maybe it was easy to deal with to begin with but it has been building up and is distressing me. Maybe I am not doing enough things that I like to do. Maybe I don't have enough free time. Maybe I dislike something in my surroundings. Once again, accept or fix falls into place, but this time the tricky part often isn't the acceptance or fixing, but the figuring out!

I hope that some of you can relate to these types of emotions and find some useful information in this entry to help you cope with your own discontent in a healthy way.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Passion

After a long absence from this blog, I feel compelled to write an entry on passion. My blog tagline is "Following a philosophy of positivity, passion, and play." I think I have talked about positivity a lot here, and most people, if not all, have a pretty good concept of what equates play. Passion is a little tricker.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines "passion" as "an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction." In philosophy, passions are often seen as a negative thing. These uncontrollable emotional urges that can lead one to sin or folly are seen as the greatest fault of humankind by many philosophical schools. On the other hand, what is the opposite of passion? Could it be apathy? Could it be a life ruled only by reason and logic with one rule following another in a steady march from birth to death?

In my experience, I have tried hard to live a life ruled by logic. My mind works in highly logical ways. I have met others who have also tried, and the result tends to be the same. A life ruled by logic is not only a life with less joy, it is also a life with little accomplished. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, "Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion." I do not completely believe in that statement. I think some great things have been accomplished accidentally without even intent! I think some great things have happened because little things built up until it was nearly inevitable that they would occur. I think some great things have happened because of logic and reason. I think more great things would happen with passion though, and I think those great things would be accompanied by more personal satisfaction and joy!

So I choose to lead a life where I pay attention to passions, both mine and those of others who I interact with, both those positive and negative. Instead of fighting passion, I encourage listening to it, finding out where it originates, and if it resonates with who you are, following it. You just might be a little happier, and great things may follow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Life...

My life has become full with many other things, and this journal is no longer high on my list of priorities. I am not going to abandon it though. Accurate and honest health information, body acceptance, eliminating prejudice against heavier people, and living a life full of passion, positivity, and play are all things that are near and dear to my heart. Expect sporadic updates when the need it there.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Product Review - Breyers Inspirations Mint Chocolate Chip Yogurt

As I have mentioned before, my partner is diabetic and works actively to reduce the carbs in her diet. She really loves ice cream, but it is not a particularly healthy food for her, and portion control is definitely a problem with a big carton in the freezer. Recently she has found a healthier way to satisfy her ice cream craving. She buys single serve containers of yogurt and freezes them. When she wants a treat, she empties a carton, drizzles on a little magic shell topping, and enjoys with less guilt than the real thing.

We have been experimenting with different flavors and brands of yogurt, and that has led to my kids getting into yogurt (both frozen and just refrigerated) too. I am not a big yogurt fan, but when I saw these new Breyers Inspirations, I had to give them a try. I love Breyers ice cream, and mint chocolate chip is one of my all time favorites! I have sensitive teeth and frozen yogurt can get very hard, so I decided to try my new treat straight from the refrigerator.

The first bite was disappointing. There was a very strong sour flavor. Now, I do know that yogurt has a sour flavor, but this flavor really didn't blend well with the peppermint flavor at all! The chocolate chips were really, really good. They clumped together and were had the delicious flavor of high quality chocolate. The texture was perfect. The chips melted on my tongue with none of the chalkiness that is often found in similar products. Also, there were a lot of chips! I finished the container, but the combination of sour-yogurty-ness and mint were so displeasing that I will not be buying this product again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not Your Ideal Weight Loss Food...

But I thought you all might want to know!

In the last few days, I have tried both deep fried pickle chips and deep fried macaroni and cheese for the first time. Neither sounded particularly appealing to me, but both turned out to be pretty good.

The pickle chips taste rather like deep fried zucchini, only tangier. Diana ate them with a sweet peanut sauce and really liked them. I do not like peanut sauces very much but found the pickle chips fairly tasty plain or dipped in sour cream. They were reminiscent of dill pickle potato chips which I do like, but they are not a particular favorite. My conclusion about the deep fried pickle chips was that although I do like them, I would probably not choose to eat them again unless perhaps I was sharing them with someone who had not ever tried them before. There are just too many other tasty foods that I would rather be eating.

The deep fried macaroni and cheese was similar to deep fried cheese sticks in flavor, but the presence of macaroni (which seems to me like something that just shouldn't be battered and deep fried) was a distraction. Again, although it was OK, I can't imagine eating it again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

The abbreviated version!

We have taken a temporary break from planning our evening meals or even making a big deal about preparing them. Life got really busy a couple of weeks ago, as you can tell from my last post, and even with menu plans, I was feeling really stressed out about dinner. I felt like it was a requirement that I follow this plan, and the truth was the food wasn't even getting eaten because we were all so busy and stressed.

I started just making what we wanted. I would make things that we healthy and quick for Diana and me, and I would ask the kids what they wanted and either make it for them or sometimes they preferred to make it themselves. Things have been going smoothly with the new plan although I doubt it will be a permanent thing. When my stress falls back down, maybe I'll be ready to return to formal dinners. We shall see!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lack of Posts

Life has been pretty hectic around here with plenty of ups and downs, and I have not posted for the last few weeks because of it.

My daughter had her first child, my first grandchild, a boy - Benjamin Ian on August 11. I attended the birth in a doula capacity, and it was a wonderful experience that went better than I could have imagined. On August 12, my partner's stepfather died. He had been unconscious following brain trauma for several days, and we had been in Syracuse keeping watch with the rest of the family. It was a rather surreal experience, but one that reinforces my desire to live life to the fullest!

I will be back to regular updates soon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Calorie Counting Websites

Whether for weight loss, a health issue, or just because you want more control over the food that you put into your body, many people use calorie counting websites to keep track of what they eat, exercise, and nutrition and fitness goals. The two big free sites seem to be FitDay and SparkPeople. I have used both extensively in the past.

I decided to take a few days and do a comparison of these two sites. I will be running through their "start-up" programs and recording the food that I eat at both sites. I am also going to look at a few other sites for comparison, especially those that are diabetic friendly since my girlfriend is a diabetic.

I will let you know my thoughts and impressions in the next few days!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Random Thoughts on Life Purpose

Steve Pavlina is a popular personal development blogger, and on occasion, I read his blog. I don't agree with everything he says, but he is interesting and every once in awhile has an idea that makes me think or gets me moving. One of his best ideas, in my opinion, is a simple method of discovering your life purpose. I will not give the details because in order to get the full benefit of this method I think you need to read his original post and really understand how it works for different people.

A few weeks back, I took the time to really put this method to work. I thought and thought and wrote and wrote. It did not take twenty minutes. It did not take 40 minutes. It took three days with about an hour devoted to the process each day before I was happy with the results. I shared them with Diana when she got home from work, and I think I was disappointed that she didn't share the joy and peace that I had found.

I set aside the results thinking that maybe they weren't as important as I thought that they were.

Fast forward to about a week ago when I wanted to look at this life purpose statement again. I opened the document where I had stored it, and it was GONE! Somehow the document no longer included my life purpose. I think I must have saved it wrong. Now, I do know that I copied and pasted this life purpose into Diana's IM window, and I could go look it up in my archives, but there isn't a really easy way to search Y!M archives so it would take a lot of time and effort.

Instead, I am letting go. If I needed that life purpose, it would be there.

I do still think that this process is valuable, and I would still like a life purpose statement whether fluid and static to keep me on an even keel when times get tough and to help me remember both who I am and where I am going, but I think this is not the right time to create it. I am still healing, and my mind swirls everywhere against my will. I need to do other things before that is going to happen and stick.

I am not blind to my life purpose though, and I would like to share bits and pieces that I know here. First and foremost, I need to live in the moment with trust. Next, I need to know and love myself. Piled on top of those two foundations, I need relationships with others, to gift freedom, and to preach important truths. Swirling around everything are walls of knowledge seeking and wisdom.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Other Guy

One trick that has proven useful in treating other human beings with love and respect even when it isn't easy has been remembering that "the other guy" is a person just like me. I first though of this when I was eighteen years old and a Brownie Girl Scout leader for a group of first grade girls. There was one girl in the troop who just rubbed me the wrong way. I suppose now I would say that her personality and my personality just didn't mesh well. I found her irritating. The truth is so did the other girls. She was somewhat of an outcast in the troop. No one was outright mean to her, but to any observer, it would have been obvious that she was not well liked.

This bothered me, and I thought on it a lot. The thing that really struck me was that she was really no different than me. I knew that she had thoughts and feelings that were probably similar to mine. She could be hurt. She could be confused. She could be happy and sad, and could both give and receive love. I decided that at the next meeting I would think about her personhood while interacting with her.

As I led the meeting with this new perception, I found myself feeling an intense love for this slightly irritating girl who didn't quite fit in. It was a wonderful sensation. I could see so much more of who she was and found myself reaching a new place of understanding for both her whole self and her behavior.

She never went on to become popular in that troop that year, but I know that she had a fun, meaningful year due primarily to my attention and empathy. All it took was a small change of my mindset to make a difference in one girl's life.

Now, whenever I find it necessary to interact with someone who I don't like or am very different from or feel prejudiced against, I remind myself that they are a person just like me. That is the foundation of loving each individual for who they are. Give it a try! You might find yourself not only helping others, but feeling better about yourself too!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Benefit of the Doubt, Part 2

Yesterday, I took my family swimming. At our usual swimming spot, there is a shallow area that is enclosed in a ring of stone that we call the lagoon. My daughters (age 11, 12, and 15) prefer to get into the water in the lagoon, and Diana and I as well as my son usually get in in another area where the water is deeper.

Yesterday, shortly after we had arrived, the girls came running over from the lagoon. They didn't want to stay there because there were some other kids there (teens really) who had been making fun of them because they are thin. The other kids were teasing them because their ribs show. *I* get teased at the beach because I am fat. Now my kids are getting teased because they are thin. It seems there is always judging!

Now I could have gone and hollered at those kids or been angry. Instead I reminded my kids that they are beautiful and that if they were fat they would have been teased too. (They said they knew. My kids have no doubts that they are beautiful!) Then we talked about how those kids may have been insecure and may have been raised with parents who make fun of them. We also talked about what a negative environment public school can be and how most likely those kids are exposed to that environment regularly.

In other words, instead of condemning the other kids, we gave them the benefit of the doubt. It works for us. We had no hard feelings and went on to have a great swim.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giving Others the Benefit of the Doubt

In our society, judgment rings as easily as ice cream melts on a hot day. Individuals and groups feel free to label everything and everyone with words of critique. Have you noticed that little Susie is getting chubby? Did you see how much dessert she took? Wealthy people are snobs who don't care about the little guy. Poor people are lazy and don't try hard enough. It is such an accepted part of our culture that one rarely hears an objection, and when someone does object, they immediately become the subject of derisive criticism. Who is this person who dares to spoil our fun? Obviously they must have problems. We start judging and labeling our kids when they are young. Johnny doesn't sleep through the night! He is definitely a rebel who can't hold still. Have you seen how Lisa gobbles her bottle? She needs to learn self control, or she'll grow up to be fat.

The easiest people to judge are those that we don't know personally, particularly those who we consider to be different from us. The wealthy judge the poor. The fat judge the thin. Nearly everyone judges those who we perceive as driving poorly.

Isn't it interesting that no one likes being judged. When judged negatively to one's face, the most common response is defensiveness. Perhaps the better response would be: Is this any of your business?

I propose that we all turn over new leaves and start giving one another the benefit of the doubt. Start with the people in your family. If your husband is home late from work, assume he is caught in traffic. If your child knocks over a vase, assume that it was an accident. Then extend it to others. Your best friend hasn't called in a month? She is probably extra busy at work. Your boss gives the promotion to someone else? That person just may have the right qualities for that job. You are cut off in traffic? No one is perfect! The other drivers are most likely doing the best job that they can of staying safe.

Give others the benefit of the doubt and become responsible for your own life and your own happiness. Leave them to theirs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mindfulness & Physical Pain, Part 2

Today, I was once again out and about, and I got to thinking once again how mindfulness helps with physical pain. I have verified over and over again that it does help, but my mind wanted to know why. After much reflection and practice, I have extended my theory.

I still think the foundation is that mindfulness helps you relax which then reduces the pain, but I think it goes further than that. When we use distraction to deal with pain, it is still there, and we are ignoring it. It is like a little child pulling on your arm, calling, "Mommy! Mommy!" while you carry on a conversation with someone else. What happens in that scenario? Usually the calling gets louder and more insistent, but even if it doesn't, it tends to feel like it does the longer that we ignore the child.

I think that when we ignore a pain, it keeps bothering us and creates an ever increasing foundation of stress. A circle is formed as we work harder to distract ourselves away from it, and it screams louder as tension and stress keep us from doing the very actions necessary to reduce the pain. We get more and more out of touch with our bodies, and become more and more the aggravated by stress and neverending pain.

Insert mindfulness into the equation. We recognize that we don't feel quite right. We start paying attention to our bodies and realize that something hurts. We pay close attention to the part that hurts helping everything there to relax and letting go of the pain as best as we can. Because we are aware of the pain, we can modify our activities to not worsen it or to provide relief. We can listen when it calls to us and give it appropriate attention at that moment so that we can also be mindful of our environments and those we are interacting with when the time is right.

This could also be a metaphor for the benefits of appropriately paying attention to our children, but that is perhaps another post.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sharing

Today I have been perusing the blog 37days. It is a wonderful place full of positivity, honest reflections, and well thought out philosophy based on living life to the fullest.

One entry in particular hit me though. This entry is about letting go of false perfectionism and embracing ourselves for the wonderful people that we are. I highly recommend that you all read it!

Conformity

I have been thinking a lot about conformity lately, how conformist humans really are! We drive similar cars in the same color families, we live in similar houses also in similar color families, we wear similar clothing...anyone falling outside the norm is labeled as odd or weird or even not all quite there.

My kids, JoAnn and Lia have a thing for Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. They even have a role play where they act them out. Today they were watching an episode of Paris's reality tv show, My New BFF. We don't have a lot of TV reception out here in the middle of nowhere so they were watching an older episode on the computer. I overheard that people were being voted out based on their fashion choices!

How shallow is that! How could anyone judge a person by their clothes, choose a friend by their wardrobe? It just seems so wrong! The qualities I want in a friend have nothing to do with fashion. Now I do realize that there are some unwritten (and in a few cases written) rules governing our clothing choices. Maybe we don't want to deal with a friend who is stretching the rules whether written or unwritten. I think even this would be way down on the list of qualities I want in a friend.

Honesty? Yes!
Love? Yes!
Caring? Yes!
Fun? Yes!
Reliable? Yes!
Loyal? Yes!
Fashion sense? I think not!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mindfulness and Dealing with Physical Pain

Last Saturday, Diana and I were out and about for most of the day. That is the kind of day when my body tends to ache the most. On long days with lots of car riding, visiting, sitting around, and time on my feet both standing still and walking, I deal with general muscle pain and fatigue from FMS, rib cage pain from costochondritis, weird pains in my stomach area from a hiatal hernia, and of course foot pain. That makes me sound pretty sick and miserable, but it really isn't like that at all! I actually consider myself pretty healthy. I don't tend to acknowledge pain and except for the ribcage pain which is really annoying most of the others I can continually plow through.

The hardest time for me is when I am sitting somewhere with nothing to distract me. That happened to me once on Saturday, and I was thinking I would have to excuse myself and go for a walk and stretch a bit to be OK, but then I decided to become mindful instead. I payed attention first to my body and then worked outside being in the moment with everything that was going on around me. A surprising thing happened. The pain went away. (The particular pain at the moment was the hiatal hernia. It has bothered me since high school when I am sitting still for a long time especially if I am wearing certain clothing and my stomach is empty.)

I have been trying this technique on a regular basis now. When I am dealing with physical pain, I become extra mindful of my body. This is the exact opposite of what I have done in the past. In the past, I have always tried to distract myself. I have found that by becoming mindful, I can always reduce my pain levels. This is a wonderful discovery.

I have since thought a lot about why this works. In my mind, if I am paying close attention to something that hurts, it should hurt worse. The simple truth is that when I am mindful I relax. Always. Relaxation is a result of mindfulness. Stress, anxiety, and tension are results of a lack of mindfulness. When you relax your body, usually you hurt less. Give it a try. If you suffer from a chronic pain disorder or if you are healing from an injury, give mindfulness a try, and you just might be happy with the results!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kindness in a Crowd

I have been thinking a lot the last few months and moving towards becoming a kinder person. This is not because I have particularly been an unkind person in the past. It is because I see that having others be kind to me improves who I am, and me being kind to others improves who I am, so it is a win-win situation. Both the person on the receiving end of the kindness and on the giving end of the kindness benefit.

One way that it is easy to be kind is in a crowd. Unfortunately, when people are in crowds, they tend to be stressed in some way or another which makes it difficult to remember just how easy that kindness can be. Don't you feel great if your toddler is crying loudly at the store and a random stranger gives you a kind smile? Doesn't it feel good to be let ahead of someone in line when you are in a hurry or to be instantly forgiven with a grin and a "no problem" when you literally run into someone coming around the corner. How about if the tall guy at the concert lets you stand in front of him so you can see?

How can you be kind when you are probably stressed too? First of all, if you are feeling less than kind towards someone, change your story. That lady who barged in front of you when you were looking at the lettuce? Maybe she is legally blind and could hardly see you and needed to be extra close to the produce herself so that she could make her selection. Maybe she is in a hurry because she is late and her babysitter needs to get home to her own kids. Maybe she has her mind elsewhere because she just had a death in the family. In general, people are not out to get you! Give them the benefit of doubt, and smile their way. You would be surprised how many grouchy people will relax and smile back if you bless them with a big grin. This is also an excellent tool if you feel you have made a faux pas. If you bang carts in the grocery store, smile and say your sorry. If you think you jumped the line at the bank when the other guy really might have been there first, smile and say, "Oops, I didn't see you. You go right ahead."

Don't forget about treating your loved ones with kindness in a crowd too. I have seen mothers who are incredible nice to strangers, but who scream at their children simply for not acting in the narrow way that the mother deems correct. Again, change your story. First is your kid really doing something wrong? Maybe he or she is just being himself. Second is your kid hungry or thirsty or bored or tired? How can you remedy the situation? Remember, chances are he or she didn't have much of a choice about coming along, and even if he did, he probably can't decide when you will leave. Treat your partners and friends with kindness too. Remember that you can't control others, but you can keep a joyful attitude yourself and strive to share it with everyone you meet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trusting Others and Trusting Myself

Until I was a teen, I trusted myself. My parents did a good job of raising me in a way that allowed me to learn about myself and to feel safe in and with myself. I cannot necessarily say the same thing about school and my peers. When I was a teen, maybe at sixteen or so, I started not trusting myself anymore. It wasn't a huge thing to begin with. It was just little blips, little things that didn't add up, little things that I didn't understand that made me doubt myself. In college, it continued in an on and off way. Then, when I was married, my trust in myself plummetted to an all time low. I really don't know exactly how it worked, but the important part I suppose is that for a few years, I didn't feel any connection with myself, for in my mind connection and knowledge often equals trust. If you know someone, you can trust them. For trust doesn't mean that someone will be perfect, never hurt you, or fulfill every promise in the book. Trust means that you know that someone will act in a predictable manner that is true to their character.

It took a few years, but after my marriage ended (in my mind at least), I got myself back. I once again could trust myself. I was growing and learning of course, but the foundation of trust was there. What about trusting others?

Well, I have often thought that I am very trusting, but the truth is that I am not. I can be very open, but that is not the same thing. You see, when you equate knowledge with trust, it is very hard to trust anyone until you have a lot of knowledge about them. Luckily my intuition has increased as I have matured, and I have grown in my ability to see and know people with less interaction. It is the kind of puzzle that I am good at, putting together the pieces to figure out the whys and infer those things that make someone tick. I realize that people are much more complicated than that, but you would be surprised how a mix of intuition and logic can help you to know someone and ultimately to trust them to be who they are.

I think that a lot of people don't trust others because they do not think that they are trustworthy, and they think that others will make the same mistakes that they would. The truth is that they are right! We all make mistakes, ourselves and those who love us. If we want to trust and ultimately love others (and ourselves), we must accept that no one is perfect. We must accept that mistakes will be made. We must accept that sometimes not everyone is going to want the same thing, and if something is important to someone, they are going to act in their own best interests. This is the way that it should be! No one should want anyone to be miserable!

This social dance that we all weave is incredibly complicated and not at all as simple as many preach at us in early childhood and as we mature. "Do unto others as we would have them do unto us" is an incredibly complicated sentiment. So is "do no harm." "Share," Impossible for many in many situations!

I could go on for this is one topic that is near and dear to me for I am here on this earth to learn trust, and I still have a long way to go! But I think that is enough thoughts to share this evening.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fruits and Vegetables

I enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. They taste great, there are so many wonderful varieties, and they usually leave me feeling good inside. Diana has diabetes, and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways for her to manage her blood glucose levels. In the fall of 2007, we decided to challenge ourselves to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It went fairly well.

Then as so often happens, it seemed to get complicated, and we stopped making it a priority, and before we knew it, we were scraping by eating far fewer fruits and vegetables than we preferred. This month, we have challenged ourselves once again to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. So far, it has been going well. At the end of the month, we will evaluate how we feel and decide if we want this to be a permanent change or not.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Staying Honest without Being Critical

As many of you know, I have been working on being kind during my interactions with others.  It might seem simple to be kind on the surface, just don't do mean or rude things!  In reality, it is much more complicated than that.  One of the keys to being kind is knowing those whom one is interacting with.  What might be seen as kind by one individual might be perceived as rude by another.

One duality I think of a lot is being both honest and non-critical.   Now I know that many think that criticism can be kind.  Tell someone everything that is wrong with them (in your opinion), and then they will become a better person, right?  Well that has not been my experience.  Most people don't really change because of criticism.  Criticism just makes people resentful and defensive.   

So what do you do when someone really does something that not just annoys you, but that you believe is really detrimental to their life.  How can you not point it out?  How can you not try to save them from themselves?  Perhaps they are always negative.  Perhaps they smoke.  Perhaps they don't treat their children respectfully.  

First, remember that you are not perfect and have problems too.  They probably look at you and think that there are a host of things that they need to correct you on.  This thought should breed empathy.

Second, evaluate the relationship.  Is this person an acquaintance or even someone who may not like you?  Is this person someone you don't really like?  Perhaps the kindest thing you can do is to limit your interactions with the person.  If your choices don't mesh, and you are very different people, separation not criticism is probably the answer.

Next, learn the art of modeling and planting seeds.  If someone is always negative, model positivity.  If someone talks down their children, talk as equals with your own children (and with theirs too!)  Talk about the good things in your life that have been the results of your choices.  Are you happier?  Is your family life for the most part good?  Do your kids make good choices?  Are you healthy?  If they complain, you can advise but watch for their response and temper your comments appropriatelly.

What if they ask for advice?  Well all of us know people who do not really mean it when they ask for advice on something.  They really just want to someone to listen.  Know your audience and provide advice only to the extent that they want to take it.  Those who are close to you may want more extensive help than those on the fringes of your life.

Is it dishonest to not point out the errors of others' ways?  To not provide as much help and advice as possible when requested?  No!  You can remain honest and true to yourself while keeping a nonjudgmental attitude.  Know when to leave.  Know when to remain silent.  Cultivate the ability to change the subject and to know when and how to plant seeds of truth, leaving them to germinate when the time is right.

Forget criticism as a kindness.  Remember how you have felt when you have been criticized, and when you can't be honest, be quiet.  Listen.  You might learn something!  I have always believed that if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all!

Monday, May 25, 2009

An Aside

Our family is participating in a 5km Aids Walk/Run at Beaver Lake Nature Center here in Central New York.  It is to benefit Aids Community Resources, and you can read more about it and sponsor us if you choose here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Struggles

When I decided to become a person who didn't care about her weight, in many ways my life got better.  I no longer obsessed about food.  I didn't waste time weighing myself and analyzing my weight and working on the next great plan that would get me thin and keep me thin once and for all.  I also let go of some of the guilt and shame that comes in our society from being overweight.

That doesn't mean that I don't struggle though.  I like riding rollercoasters.  Right now, I weigh too much to ride any rollercoasters that I know of.  In the past, I have several times focused on upcoming amusement park trips to get the weight off.  It has never worked.  Right now, it seems rather unfair to me that there isn't a rollercoaster that a bigger person can go on.  Maybe there is somewhere, but I don't know about it.  There is a part of me that wants to focus on my weight just so that I can ride rollercoasters.  But I have done that for years, and it has not worked!  Now, I enjoy all the things that I couldn't enjoy when I was so busy worrying about my weight.  That makes up for any rollercoaster rides that I might miss.

Clothing is another issue.  This is only partly a weight issue because I am also short and proportioned oddly.  I had trouble finding clothes that looked right when I only weighed 115.  Now it is nearly impossible.  Especially the kind of clothing that I find comfortable.  I like short flowy skirts.  (Long ones are nearly always too long and just make me look shorter.)  I like shirts that fit right.  Small arm holes.  Shorter length.  Big enough for my stomach but not huge and baggy over my breasts.  I am tempted to try to lose weight one more time so that I will have access to more popular clothing sizes.  Deep inside, I know it isn't worth it!  It doesn't matter.  Living richly now, matters so much more than striving for some ideal look later.  

On the food front, I do still struggle with feeding my family as healthy a diet as possible.  My girlfriend has diabetes, and I know that it is very important that she eats right.  I strive to make changes that will be right for her, and that usually means healthier for the rest of us too. 

Tomorrow I will write about some of the dietary changes that we are considering in the future.

Friday, May 15, 2009

One More Thing...

Continuing on with the theme of prejudice and discrimination against those who have more body fat, two recent stories in the media caught my attention.  The first involved Michelle Obama.  While talking about how important it is for her family to eat healthy foods, she mentions that they switched their whole diet to one that was more healthy because one of her daughters was getting chubby.  I have no problem with people eating healthy!  I think everyone should.  I don't think it is wise for anyone to change their whole family's diet only because one of their children is not the size that they'd prefer.  First of all, if the whole family was eating an unhealthy diet, it would have been important to switch for all of them!  There was no reason for her to single out one of her daughters like that.  What if her daughter continues to be of a larger size as she gets older?  What if she gets even fatter?  She is sure to feel that it is all her fault!  Obviously if the whole family switched its diet, and she's still not the "right" weight, she must be less of a person.  Of course, we all know that it is not that simple.  I do not judge Michelle Obama for saying what she did.  It is the viewpoint that is most common in our society.  Most are probably applauding her attack on childhood obesity.  That is why I think it important to point out another point of view.

The second story was one about Oprah Winfrey apologizing to her fans and talk show viewers for all of the weight swings that she has had over the course of her career!  This is terrible.  Here is a woman who has built up an extremely successful business.  Here is a women who for the most part seems happy and fulfilled.  What is gnawing away at her conscious?  She isn't some idealized size.  Obviously she has tried really hard.  She hasn't succeeded!  Oprah of all people should show society that size really doesn't matter.  She eats healthy.  She exercises.  She should not be wasting one moment of her life worrying about her size.  To add another dimension to the story, I do not think that if she was an overweight man in her same position that "he" would be apologizing about anything.

That is enough of this topic for me for now.  I will continue with my regularly scheduled blogging in the next couple of days. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sharing

I read an article today that tied in with what I am saying here.

The Illuminated Mind is a blog about fulfulling your dreams that I read on occasion.  Today I read an article about giving up to solve a problem.  When you give up on your obsession with having some ideal body then the problem of your weight is solved.  You can put your focus and concentration where it belongs, with eating a nutritious diet that feels good to you, and moving and playing in ways that are fun and work with your life.  You can live in the present and apply your passion to the big dreams that matter most to you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who Benefits When People Worry about Their Weight?

I have been talking a lot about the dangers of spending too much time worrying about your weight.  There is the lost time that could be better spent.  There is the loss of joy, for worrying and joy do not usually go together.  There is the obsessing about food and exercise.  There may even be health concerns.  

All of that seems obvious to me when I think outside the box.  The question to me is who created the box?  Well the media for one.  The obesity epidemic makes a good story.  The fashion in celebrities continues to lean towards the underweight.  It is easy to take a headline and run with it, and ratings tend to rise with sensationalism more than with balanced reporting.  (When I talk to acquaintances about the obesity paradox (the fact that the obesity actually helps health in some ways) most have never even heard the term, but everyone knows about the obesity epidemic.)

I don't really think that the media directly benefits from people worrying about their weight.  The weight loss industry is another story.  It would be nice if the days of the snake oil dealers were truly past, but it seems that the weight loss industry is filling that niche.  It is odd to me that in the 21st century, a time with more access to information than any other time in the history of the human race on earth, people still use their hard earned cash to invest in products and services that have a lower that 5% success rate!  I know.  You can say that maybe you'll be one of the lucky few.  Maybe those "unsightly" pounds will come off if you just try this one last thing!  Your life is at risk, right?  That is what they want to have you believe.

I just want everyone to think twice before squelching their joy and emptying their pockets books.  It is time to take back you life!  Live each day with positivity, passion, and joy and become the person that you were meant to be.  Even if my life was extended by a few years, it would not make up for all of the time that I wasted worrying about my weight.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Risks of Being Underweight

Here is the U.S., it is really hard to be classified by the general public as too thin.  For a public figure, gaining five pounds can be disasterous in terms of negative publicity.  Occasionally concern will be expressed about someone being underweight, but not usually until they look rather skeletal, and there is a thin line between the point someone is said to look great and the point where they are declared anorexic.  Being underweight is celebrated.

This is unfortunate because there are many health risks associated with being underweight.  First, the general mortality for those who are underweight is higher than for those who are normal weight or overweight.  Those who are underweight are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies such as anemia.  The underweight are also more likely to succumb to viral illnesses like colds and the flu, and when they get sick, they tend to get sicker and have illnesses that last longer than those who are heavier.

The same holds true for injuries.  Injuries are slower to heal in the underweight, and they are more likely to develop infections in wounds.  Being underweight is also a risk factor for infertility.

As one ages, being underweight seems to be an even greater disadvantage.  Those who are too thin are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those in the normal/overweight range.  Osteoporosis is another condition listing being underweight as a risk factor, and if you develop cancer, heart disease, or a kidney problem, having extra body fat increases your risk of pulling through alive and healthy.

My point with this is that it is unfair of the public to criticize, ostracize, and penalize those who are overweight for their body size while actually praising those who are underweight.  We should accept all regardless of body size while encouraging healthy eating and movement for all.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Are There Any Benefits to Being Overweight?

Two recent studies that analyzed data surrounding deaths found that those who are overweight (not obese, but overweight with a body mass index of 25-30) had a lower mortality rate than those who are normal weight or underweight.  There was no increased risk of death from heart disease or cancer in this group and a decreased mortality rate for many other conditions including pneumonia, emphysema, injuries, and infections.

It appears that having 20 to 30 extra pounds provides some extra protection against illness and can help you recover from injuries and infections.

Does this mean that you should try to gain weight or to eat unhealthy?  No, of course not!  What it does show is that there is some exaggeration in the aforementioned health crisis involving those who are overweight.  Everyone should do their best to eat a nutritious diet focusing on foods that make them feel great.  Everyone should move to the best of their ability.  The benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise are well proven.  What we shouldn't do is worry about our weight.  What we shouldn't do is judge others for the shape of their bodies.  What we shouldn't do is fail at doing what is best for us because of an obsession with reaching a size or shape that is not only perhaps unattainable but also may be unhealthier than the shape that we naturally fall into!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is There an Obesity Epidemic?

I was going to write about some specific people today, and how they are influencing prejudice against those who are overweight, but while doing research, I saw the phrases "health crisis" and "obesity epidemic" come up over and over again, and I found that those were what I really needed to write about!

As soon as I heard the term "health crisis", I started looking into life expectancy data.  I had thought that people were living longer every year, and I was correct.  Life expectancy goes up every year.  The death rate from cardiovascular illness in particular goes down every year.  Matter of fact, it is down over 60% since 1970.  I would think that this data would show that people are in better health than ever before.

Then I started looking particularly into the obesity epidemic.  It is a fact that Americans have gotten a bit heavier every year since 1970.  Whether this is a bad thing or not really has not been shown though.  It could possibly even be a good thing.  When stating that someone is overweight or obese, arbitrary standards have been set.  Obesity has actually been redefined throughout the years to be lower and lower.

Obesity is a risk factor for some health problems.  This does not mean that you will get sick.  This does not mean that you will die.  It just means that you have one risk factor that increases the likelihood of developing certain conditions.  Being obese does not mean that you are unhealthy.  High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, physical inactivity, and genetics are other risk factors.  They are actually stronger risk factors for cardiovascular disease than obesity is.    High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and physical inactivity are easier to improve than obesity.  They are also common in the thin and average weight population as well as in the obese population.

Stress is a very strong risk factor in cardiovascular disease.  Worrying chronically about your weight is a source of stress to many.  I have been worrying about my weight since I was 11 years old and had my doctor tell me that I could lose a few pounds.  I weighed 120 lbs. and was 5'2" tall.  He asked me what I liked to eat (obviously expecting me to say candy or cookies or something), and I answered oranges.  He was somewhat at a loss for words finally stammering that I needed to just eat less in general.  I am certain that stress is my biggest risk factor at this time.  I am so glad that I have chosen to focus my life on positivity, passion, and play letting go of my weight worries.

If health is our concern, we need to start focusing on health.  Eating foods that make us feel great and moving with joy throughout the day are things that are easy to incorporate into ones life.  Weight is a very visible characteristic.  There is far too much focus on weight in our society and far too little focus on the things that really matter.

Coming soon:
Does being overweight provide any health benefits?
What are the consequences of being underweight?
Who benefits when people worry about their weight?
How are cultural icons damaging our self perceptions?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teens and Obesity Discrimination

I went to a book store today and was browsing the books in the teen section. A lot of them dealt with anorexia nervosa. Obviously this is a serious illness that can result in death. As I read a few of the book jackets, I got to thinking about how discrimination against the overweight pervades our society. Although families vary in the views that they express to their children and some parents isolate their children from society to a certain extent, for the most part, American children are raised in a culture that sees overweight people as somehow not as good as thin people. The obese are often portrayed as funny, stupid, sloppy, lazy, or worse. Overweight people are under-represented in the entertainment industry and in many other professions.

When I went to school, every one knew who the fat kids were. They were often taunted in elementary school. As they got older, they were more likely to take on the roll of class clown, and in high school, overweight boys were the ones I most saw getting beat up on by bullies. I was at the most fifteen pounds overweight in high school, and yet, I felt that I was horribly fat. Now that I fall into the group of the morbidly obese, I wonder if my path might have been different if I hadn't dealt with so much weight related stress and obsession back then.

Looking at those books about anorexia in the bookstore, I couldn't help but wonder how much discrimination against those who are fat contributes to eating disorders especially in teens who are very vulnerable to peer pressure and emotional problems. It also made me want to spread the word that obesity discrimination is wrong. Yes, you should encourage children in healthy habits including eating nutritious foods and being active. No you should not encourage your children to obsess about their weight or to treat anyone differently because of their weight! Be careful what you say and what attitudes you express. Someone who looks up to you might be listening or picking up your attitude. Also, don't be afraid to speak up if you hear someone expressing negative opinions about someone based on his or her weight. Research has shown that just one conversation can change someone's view on the obese.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Employment Discrimination and Obesity

As I continue to explore the reseach about discrimination against the obese, I am not surprised to see that study after study shows discrimination in all areas related to employment.  This discrimination is worse for women than it is for men.  Overweight women are less likely to be hired, less likely to receive raises, less likely to be promoted, and more likely to be fired than thin women.

In one study, employers were given resumes with photos for available positions.  Thin women were often favored over overweight women even when the overweight women was more qualified.  When employers were questioned about their decisions, they often said that overweight individuals were lazy, sloppy, and not good workers.  Reality shows no correlation between obesity and the performance of most job tasks.  Obviously certain jobs have physical fitness requirements, but even for these jobs, simply being overweight may not correlate with a low fitness level.  Assumptions should not be made about applicants based on their weight alone.

I think the most shocking research result that I saw was one employer survey where 16% of the respondents said that they would not hire an overweight woman under any circumstances!  Knowing that there is a huge heredity component to obesity and that very few people are successful at irradicating the condition in spite of a huge drive by any obese person that I have known, I feel that employers need to stop judging and start hiring the best people for the jobs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thoughts on Obesity

Recently I have started to recognize prejudice against the overweight in a way that I had not in the past.

Today I stumbled upon this article from Obesity , a research journal dedicated to the topic of obesity.  The article explores the fact that not only is prejudice against obesity alive and well in modern society, it is increasing at an alarming rate!

As someone who was once afraid to socialize thinking that no one would want to be my friend because I was fat, and who is still terrified of taking walks on the side of the road because of the the taunts occasionally hurled in my direction, I was not surprised to read that weight related stigma correlates to emotional problems which then can lead to the very behaviors that could increase weight.

I have a lot more thoughts about this, but this was a very busy day.  My body aches and is ready for bed.  I will write more tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Long Break from Blogging

I found myself taking a long break from blogging recently.  I had some other things I wanted to concentrate on, and spring has been calling me off on adventures.  I have missed my time spent here though and plan on getting back in the blogging habit!

There have been two things that I have been thinking about lately.  One is making sure that what I do is what I want to do.  It is so easy to pick up things from others and not be true to ourselves.  The other is society's prejudice against those who have a higher amount of body fat.  I will be posting more on these issues in the days to come!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Say Yes!

I have been thinking some more on ways to be kind. My goal this week is to not just be kind by not doing anything and therefore being less controlling. I want to take that a step further and be open to saying "yes."

Our society sends out a huge message that it is OK to say "no." Don't take on extra commitments. Make things easy for yourself. I am sure that you have all heard that message. I think that it is easy to forget that there are so many ways and times that we can say yes to others and still be true to ourselves.

The easiest for me is to say yes to my children. In our house, we practice consensual living. We (the adults) strive to treat our children as equals. We are not always successful, and by equal, I mean as fully formed people with rights and opinions that are no less important than the adults' rights and opinions. I realize that people are not exactly the same, and we all have our individual strengths and weaknesses, and that they can vary with age. The point is that we treat the kids more like we would treat a spouse or other adult family member that was living with us, not as anything less. So when my kids ask for something, I strive to say yes. Yes, can give power, and we all want to know that we have the power to work to meet our own needs and wants. Powerlessness is an awful feeling and the root of so many negative things that develop in people's lives.

There are other places that I can strive to say yes in my life though. I can say yes to my girlfriend when she wants me to do something even if it is not my first choice. I can say yes when someone asks to go ahead of me in line in the store. I can say yes in affirmation of someone else's statement, validating their opinions or observations. All of these are kind things to do. I can also occasionally say yes to something bigger, something that does increase my commitments and does require my time. The trick is to listen and think and decide if the activity is right for me. Am I willing to spend time doing this? Is it something I would enjoy? Is it something that is intune with who I am? If the answer to those three questions is yes, then go ahead and say yes! You may find your world getting a bit bigger. You may make new friends. You just might learn something new about yourself or make a difference in the world!

Say yes to be kind this week!

Friday, March 6, 2009

More Thoughts on Food Journaling & Being Kind

First, I have been thinking a lot about food journaling, and its effect on me. I do not like its effect on me. When I need to write down what I am eating, I can't eat when I am hungry. I actually find myself eating more food because I feel the need to eat a lot when I am going to the bother of writing it down. Also, I find myself thinking about food all the time which is a way I haven't been for a very long time. So I have decided to no longer journal what I am eating for the time being.

Today is the sixth day of March and the sixth day of my month of developing the habit of kindness. I have been putting kindness into practice in small ways everyday. One of my thoughts has been that that the start of kindness is not "doing something." It is learning to stop doing something. That something is controlling (or attempting to control) other people.

The first step in my journey to habitual kindness is to allow others to be who they are. This doesn't meant that I can't assert myself and ask for help or things that I need from those in my life. It just means that I accept that I cannot force them to do anything. It is not right. It is not kind.

I have already seen some good effects of being more kind in myself and others. Have you been kind to those around you today?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Love Yourself Tuesday

Welcome to the second installment of Love Yourself tuesday. One of the difficulties in loving oneself is that our society encourages competition. Competitions have winner and losers, and we get in the habit of ranking and judging and then seeing how we measure up. This starts early. Parents want their kid potty-trained before the neighbor's kid. Each new word is carefully noted in the baby book and grandparents are given careful accounts of how big their grandchild's vocabulary is. When it appears that the child is not ahead of someone excuses are made. Strengths are pointed out. The total acceptance that should accompany unconditional love all to often appears to shrink.

School entrance just ups the ante. Schools are full of judging and ranking. There are the A students and the C students and the F students. There are those kids who are good (meaning docile in the classroom) and those who are naughty (all too often meaning active and independent.) As the years progress, students start judging themselves. Categorizing themselves as jocks or nerds, popular or outsiders.

The truth is we are all different! We all have our own things that make us happy and fulfilled. We all have different types of people that we like to spend time with. Each of us is a unique individual who cannot be ranked in a scale of better or worse. One of the best ways to start truly loving yourself is to stop judging and ranking. Start by stopping with others, and it will be easier to apply to yourself.

The next time you meet someone don't think about how much money he or she has, or what they do for a living, or how fat or thin they are, or their home or family situation. Instead listen to that person and think about who he or she is. Only they can define themselves. Any of the initial observations that you may make may or not factor as an important part of that person's life.

Then, when you think about yourself, do not think that you are fatter than so and so. Do not think that you don't make as much money, or live in such a big house, or take as many vacations. When you think about yourself, think about what you love to do. Think about what you want and need in your life. Strive to live for yourself doing those things that matter to you. By being the best you you can be, you will be your happiest, and when you are your happiest you will be in the best position to have a positive influence on others and the world.

Food & Exercise

11:00 Breakfast - 1/2 grapefruit, 2 slices corn breakfast bread with butter & honey, large mug coffee with 3 packets aspartame based sweetener & liquid flavored creamer

2:00 Lunch - 2 cups of leftover gumbo with rice


4:30 Snack - 11 spice jelly beans, 1 starlight spearmint


7:15 Snack - 1 tomato, 1 saltine spread lightly with cream cheese

9:00 Dinner- 1 large bowl of chicken & dumplings, 1 large bowl of tossed salad with dressing, 1/2 c. 7-up with anti-oxidants

Monday, March 2, 2009

A New Month

Here is it the second day of a new month! Each new month excites me. I wonder what projects I will tackle, what goals I will reach, what fun I will have each new day! Before exploring something new, I want to review some things that I have done in the past and see where they stand now.

In October, I worked diligently at acquiring the habit of positivity, and it has payed off! This doesn't mean that I am always happy. I am still a moody person with nearly inexplicable bouts of melancholy. What has changed is that even during those melancholy periods, I have an overall positive outlook. I accept that everything will be OK. I trust and let go just a little bit more than I did before, but it is enough to make a difference in my life. Without the habit of positivity, I would have had a much more difficult time getting through this long cold winter that brought with it lots of stress and limited transportation (think escape) options.

In November, I focused on regular exercise. This is still not a habit, at least at the level I intended it to be (one hour everyday preferably walking outside). It hasn't been a complete failure though. I have exercised more than I would have otherwise during the cold months of the year. I also continually strive for more. It is no longer something that I relegate to the unimportant or waste of time areas of my mental to do list.

In December, the focus was single-tasking which I do fairly well with. It might not be quite as much of a habit as positivity is. When I get overwhelmed with life, I really need to be firm with myself reminding me that multi-tasking is just not a good solution. I see this continually moving to the automatic though and with very little effort on my part being a concrete habit in a couple of months.

In January, I focused on goals. I made a goal to put aside money for an emergency fund. In some ways, this feels odd when we do not have a lot of financial resources to begin with but feeling unsafe is such a huge negative force in my life that I think this needs to be a priority. I have some money put away now, but not as much as I intended. My focus in this area now is to talk to Diana about it and see if we can't catch up and go from there. As an aside, it is interesting that those times that I have taken money out of the safety fund, I have always have sales from my etsy shop (or some other unpredictable income) to re-establish it even if I hadn't had sales for months! It is wonderful how these things work.

In February, I returned to an old goal of habitually removing unessential things from my life. This has been a somewhat different process than it has been in the past. As I get older, fewer and fewer things seem essential. I also notice that things that I do for sheer joy become more important. I have actually added a few things back in this month which has been good for me. It is so important to remember who I am and what I really need to be happy!

So here it is March! What shall be my focus this month? This month I have decided to focus on developing the habit of kindness. In general, I think those people that I know would say that I am kind. In general, I think that those people who don't know me well but interact with me at any given time would say that I am kind. Unfortunately, the real truth is more that I am joyful and placid, and that results in me appearing kind. I do not think that that is what real kindness is though. Real kindness is a choice to help eleviate the suffering of others. This month I am going to really concentrate on making that choice.

Food & Exercise

12:30 breakfast - small chicken salad sandwich, large coffee with cream and sugar

4:15 lunch - 1 oz. Velveeta type cheese, 1.5 small shake 'n bake porkchops, 2 large handfuls potato chips with french onion dip, 12 oz. V-8 fusion light pomegranate-blueberry beverage

7:15 snack - 20 jellybeans, 16 oz. water

9:30 dinner - 1 large bowl gumbo & rice, 3 hushpuppies, 1 large tossed salad with French dressing

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm Back

We just recently got our car out of the car after an extended absence. It has been wonderful to have the freedom to travel again, but we have been so busy!!! The last four days we have been in and out, in and out! During this time, I have not recorded my food. It just hasn't been a priority.

Today we were out and about too, but I did do my best to record.

Food & Exercise

11:45 Breakfast - breakfast sandwich (1 50g maple flavored sausage patty, 1 61g maple french toast English muffin, .9 oz. cheddar cheese, 1 t. butter), coffee (13 oz. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 3 packets aspartame based sweetener, 1 oz. flavored liquid coffee creamer)

6:45 Lunch - .5L water, 1 plain bagel, 1 Pim's chocolate orange biscuit, 1 McDonald's double cheeseburger, 1.5 McDonald's small fries

10:00 Dinner - 4 small pieces of pizza, 1 large tossed salad with fat free garden veggie french dressing

10:30 Snack - 1 small handful jellybeans, 1 large mug of gingerbread spice tea with 3 packets of aspartame based sweetener

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Love Yourself Tuesday

For awhile now, I have been taking a few moments each tuesday to assess how I feel about myself. Am I honoring who I am? Am I paying attention to myself? Do I truly love myself? I am going to start posting my thoughts and feelings on this topic here in my blog. How do you feel about yourself?

Food & Exercise
9:00 Breakfast - 1 egg, scrambled, fruited oatmeal (1/2 c. quick oats, 1 apple, 8 oz. water, 1/4 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. allspice), coffee (16 oz. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 3 packets aspartame based sweetener)

2:30 Lunch - 1/2 c. shelled walnuts, 13.5 oz. canned spinach, 12 oz. vegetable juice

4:30 Snack - 1 piece strawberry pocky

4:45 Exercise - .5 milk walk, fast speed

6:30 Snack - 2 small pieces of gingerbread, 1/2 peanut butter sandwich (1 slice whole wheat bread, 2 T. crunch peanut butter)

8:30 Dinner - 2 sloppy joe rolls (homemade bread dough stuffed with sloppy joe filling and baked)

10:30 Snack - 16 oz. gingerbread spice tea with 3 packets of aspartame based sweetener, 1 piece of apple cake with caramel icing

Monday, February 23, 2009

Single-tasked to Handle Stress

We have been really busy in my family the last few days, and busy-ness often leads to stress for me. My mind is always constructing rules, and when I don't follow them (either because the rules are contradictory and impossible to follow or because I am so overwhelmed that following them becomes impossible), stress is the result. That is when I need to stop, and get out of my head and back into the moment.

Single-tasking is the weapon that I use to combat that stress. I do one thing and finish it, and then move onto the next. I don't expect anything more from myself. At my worst, I just go through the motions; at my best, I embrace each moment of each activity knowing and feeling what I am doing, where I am, how I am, those around me, etc.

This month, I have been concentrating on eliminating non-essential things from my life. This can be tricky. We are each different. Some things I might find essential might be trivial to you. As I pass through the last week of this month, I want to pursue this further. Up until now, I have used my intellect a lot. I have though about what things I need or want to spend my time on for various reasons looking at what I know about myself. Now, I want to feel. I think my method up until now has not produced optimal results. For example, I decided a few months back when I first started thinking about what was really essential that one activity was not essential. It has remained and even increased. I think it is actually more essential than I thought. At the same time, over the course of the last few days, there have been a few things that I think are essential that I have been questioning on a deep level.

I learned long ago that logic is only part of what is needed to make decisions and solve problems. This week, I will let more than logic seep into my decision making process as I ponder the essentiality of those things I choose to spend my time on.

Food & Exercise

11:00 breakfast - 1/2 oz. Swiss cheese, 1/2 oz. cheddar cheese, 1 Fiber One oats and chocolate granola bar, coffee (14 oz. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 1 oz. 2% milk, 3 packs aspartame based sweetener)

4:00 lunch - 1/2 peanut butter sandwich (1 slice thin white sandwich bread, 2 T. crunchy peanut butter), coffee (8 oz. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 2 oz. 2% milk, 2 packs aspartame based sweetener)

5:00 exercise - 30 minutes wading (sometimes swimming) through the snow around our trailer

5:45 snack - 1 mini-bag Orville Redenbacher Natural Lime and Salt popcorn (which I see at the website they don't make anymore which is too bad because it is absolutely delicious), 7 pecan halves

8:30 dinner - 2 oz. whole wheat spaghetti with meatsauce (4 oz. Great Value green pepper and mushroom spaghetti sauce & 2 oz. 80% lean ground beef), 8 oz. water

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Today turned out to be a lot busier than I anticipated. I can't remember what I ate for lunch! I do know that it was late. I also know that for breakfast I had 2 scrambled eggs and a whole wheat English muffin with a little butter and lemon curd. For dinner, which I just finished, I had 3 small pieces of fried fish with whole wheat coating and some rice pilaf with lots of vegetables.

Why was I busy? I have been trying to catch up on some backed up housework. I am exhausted from all of the exercise! I had fun though. I did housework drills with my girlfriend and my 20 year old daughter. We open a chatroom online for just the three of us and work for 15 minutes and then report back, continuing until no one wants to any more. We were drilling for many hours today!

Snow Creates Exercise Opportunity

Thursday night and Friday all day it snowed. We received over three feet of heavy white stuff. Snow removal has been the huge overwhelming priority the last couple of days! Of course, snow removal *is* most definitely exercise! Unfortunately the snow was so heavy and deep and wet that even my 16 year old son could only go about 15 minutes without a break!

I didn't manage to record my food those days.

Today, I am back to recording though. Let's see how it goes!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Too Soon for Spring?

I managed one long outside walk so far this week. It seems that playing wii sports is my most common form of exercise this month. I get my heart rate up with the wii, and it definitely leads to muscle development, but it doesn't feed my spiritual side the way that those outdoors walks do! I can feel spring in the air, but at the same time, it seems so far away! How are my readers doing with keeping up exercise routines this season?

Food & Exercise
10:30 breakfast - omelet (2 eggs, 1 c. chopped broccoli, 1/2 c. sliced mushrooms, 1 oz. ham, 1/2 oz. American cheese, 1/2 oz. cheddar cheese), 1/2 whole wheat English muffin with 1 t. butter and 1 t. lemon curd, 1 sausage patty

1:30 lunch - 1 c. lowfat cottage cheese, 2 baked chicken thighs, 1 clementine, 1 c. grapefruit juice

8:00 dinner - 1 c. baked pasta with veggies and mozzarella cheese

11:00 snack - 2 chocolate chip cookies, large mug herbal tea with 3 packets of aspartame based sweetener

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thoughts on Recording Food

So, I am recording my food, and I think it actually leads to me eating more. This is not perhaps so odd. When I record my food, I have to think about what I eat a lot, and this leads to me thinking about food more than I generally do, and that leads to me eating more.

This could be something that will pass, but I am going to contemplate on it some more. For now, I will keep recording, but I may be more casual about it.

Food & Exercise

9:00 snack - 1 small peach

10:30 breakfast - 1 oz. frosted flakes with 3 oz. 2% milk, coffee (14 oz. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 1 T. liquid creamer, 3 packets artificial sweetener), 1/2 whole wheat English muffin with 1 t. butter & 1 t. lemon curd, 1 oz. cheddar cheese

3:30 lunch - 3/4 c. lowfat cottage cheese, 2 grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, coffee made the same as above

6:00 snack - 6 pretzel crackers, 2 clementines, 12 oz. diet Dr. Thunder

9:00 dinner - 1 c. macaroni and cheese, 2 baked chicken thighs, 1 c. steamed green beans, 1 c. grapefruit juice

11:00 snack - 1 c. grapefruit juice

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hidden Food

Lots of times, I hear people say that they eat very little (often saying 900 calories or so) a day, and yet, they never lose weight. If you feel this way, keeping a food journal is a great idea to track what you really eat, but even a food journal might not be accurate.

Today, I decided to keep track of my food in a paper notebook writing down each item before I ate it, but I still missed some things. Below is what was written in my paper journal. For the most part it is accurate, but there were some things that I forgot to record. The first was at lunch time. My girl friend made a hot artichoke dip that she wanted my to try. I had some of the dip on a pretzel. Then she left one triscuit on her plate, and I had that too.

When I was making dinner, I sampled the filling for the chicken puffs a couple of times to make sure that it was right, and I took an extra puff at the end of the meal that wasn't on my list. Now, you could say that I just have exceptionally poor discipline, and you may be right. On the other hand, most people consider me an extreme rule follower. (That is the view I have of myself too.) Yet, I didn't record everything! I remember it this time, but I am sure I could make mistakes other times too. How often do you take something, try something, pop something in your mouth without really thinking about it? I am not saying that those aren't good things to do if they give you joy. I am saying that it is important to make sure that they are choices that you are aware of and not mindless things.

Another source of hidden food in your diet can be underestimating your portion sizes. Research studies have shown that even when people use measuring implements, they tend to heap them up a bit adding up to significantly more food over the course of a day than they think they have eaten. I don't think that it is necessary to accurately measure your food for life, but if you are unhappy with your weight, it might be a good idea to keep a journal for awhile. Just keep in mind that the most accurate way to measure is with a scale!

Food & Exercise

9:45 breakfast - coffee beverage (1 c. 2% milk, 3/4 c. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 3 packets aspartame based sweetener), fruited oatmeal (1 large apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 c. oats, 3 packets aspartame based sweetener, 1/4 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. allspice, 1 c. water)

12:20 snack - coffee (2 c. water, 1 T. instant coffee, 3 packets aspartame based sweetener, 1 T. liquid nondairy creamer), 1 c. grapefruit juice, 1 c. water, 1/4 c. walnuts

2:15 walk - 1.4 miles, medium speed

3:15 lunch - banana, cajun turkey sandwich (2 thin slices of white sandwich bread, 3 oz. cajun turkey, 1/2 t. dijon mustard), 1 c. canned spinach, 1 c. water, 1 c. diet Dr. Thunder

9:00 dinner - 6 buffalo chicken puffs, medium size buffalo chicken salad, 1/4 of a large butternut squash with 1 T. butter

Monday, February 16, 2009

Food Update

Still really busy here!

Just a brief food journal entry to post today:

Breakfast: coffee, breakfast sandwich
Lunch: coleslaw, tossed salad with dressing and cottage cheese, chocolate coins (maybe 20)
Snack: 25 small gum drops
Dinner: 8 ounces grapefruit juice, 2 bowls chili (heavy on the veggies), one thin slice white bread with butter

Also assorted non-calorie drinks throughout the day.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Food Update

I got up at around 10:00 and had a large mug of coffee. (I have measured it, and it holds 16 ounces, but I don't fill it that full with coffee so about 14 ounces is a more accurate measurement.) That was with three packets of aspartame based sweetener and about a teaspoon of liquid coconut flavored coffee creamer.



Breakfast was at about 11:15. It included 1/2 cup of quick oats prepared with a pinch of cinnamon, a couple of drops of vanilla, a chopped banana, and 3 packets of aspartame based sweetener. I also had a maple flavored sausage patty and another cup of coffee prepared the same way as the first one.

After that, the day got busy! Today was "fix computers" day! It was a draining task, and now at 11:20 p.m., I am still not done. I will have to do a very quick update of the rest of my food!

Lunch was 1/2 a medium heart-shaped pizza. Afternoon snack was a brownie. Dinner was 3 fish fingers (homemade with whole wheat batter), about a cup of baby brussel sprouts (yum!), about 3/4 cup of coleslaw, 3 small whole grain hush puppies, and another brownie.

Over the course of the day, I had several no calorie beverages that I no longer remember.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Food Update

I got up at around 9:00 and had a banana. At 10:15, I had a large mug of coffee with three packets of aspartame based sweetener and about a teaspoon of flavored liquid creamer. I followed this with four slices of toast, two with butter and two with lemon curd.

At 1:15, I had one slice each of deli ham and deli turkey, a tiny slice (think one inch square and only slightly thicker than a piece of paper) each of swiss and cheddar cheese, and one triscuit.

At about 5:00, I had several pretzels and 2 ounces of cheddar cheese.

We had a Valentine feast for dinner at around 8:00, and I had 1/2 a medium size heart shaped pizza, a large bowl of salad with shrimp and dressing on it, and about 32 ounces of diet cola. We played games after the feast, and I had about 8 ounces of red wine and another 8 ounces of diet cola.

It has been a long day, and I have been busy, so that is all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

What I Ate Today!

Today's post will be less precise than yesterday's because it has been a busy day.

I woke up at about 9:00 but didn't get out of bed until 10:30. I like to do my reading in the morning in bed, and I delayed extra because I am still having stomach problems most likely related to tension. Then I showered and got ready for the day so it was about 11:00 before I had breakfast which was hurried. I had 2 sliced of thin white sandwich bread, 4 small thin slices of peppered ham and about a teaspoon of salad dressing made into a sandwich of course! I think I actually forgot to drink something which may explain my dehydration later in the day.

We were out and about for most of the day, and I had my lunch at McDonalds. I had a dollar menu McDouble (double cheeseburger), one and a half small fries (maybe slightly less), a small diet Coke, and one small chicken select (just one small piece not a whole order.) That was at about three.

At about 4:00 while out shopping, I had about 16 oz. of grape flavored sparkling water, the kind that is sodium and calorie free. Then after I arrived home, I had 11 small spice gumdrops at around 6:00.

At 7:00, I realized that dinner was going to be quite late, and I was hungry so I had 1 banana and 1 pretzel. Dinner was a drawn out affair from about 8:00-9:30. During that time period, I had 3 grilled cheese sandwiches, one with tomatoes, one with ham, and one plain. I also had another 16 ounces of that grape flavored water.

At 10:30, I was very thirsty and had 8 ounces of water. Then I had another mug of that Candy Cane Lane tea with 3 packets of aspartame based sweetener and two brownies. That is all!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What Do I Really Eat?

When I first started this blog, one of my plans in the back of my mind was to record everything that I eat here. My favorite weight loss blogs have always been the most revealing and most honest. I like it when someone opens up both the good and the bad parts of themselves. "Bad" may not be the best choice of words there. It might be better to say that they show all the different sides of themselves including those imperfections that not many are willing to share.


I find that many people have this idea in their head that most other people are better than them. This is usually not based on fact although the things they see might support that view. The problem is that people don't show the things that they don't want you to see very often.


So today, I am going to start practicing what I preach and sharing what I eat with the rest of you. Now, because I am not perfect, this will not always be a perfect list, but I will do my best. Sometimes I will give more info and sometimes less, but at the least I will list estimates of every calorie containing food or beverage that I consume.


Today, I will start off properly by giving a bit more than that.


Today, I awoke late at around 10:30. I had had a hard night. First I was tense and couldn't fall asleep. Then I couldn't stay asleep because my stomach hurt (probably due to the tension.) I didn't actually get up out of bed until 11:30, and I made breakfast and coffee for my love before I made anything for myself. (She was having a heavy breakfast and due to a slightly off stomach I didn't want to join her.)


So at about noon I had 8 ounces of water and 1/2 cup of quick oats prepared in the microwave and mixed with 1 sliced banana, a pinch each of cinnamon and ginger, 2 packets of aspartame based sweetener, and 1 teaspoon of honey. Usually I have coffee in the morning, but I decided to hold off and see how my stomach was.


At 3:00, I was feeling hungry again so I made myself a big salad of 2/3 cup torn iceberg lettuce, 2/3 cup chopped cucumber, 2/3 cup chopped green pepper, 3/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. I also had 1/4 c. walnuts. Yum! After lunch I was thirsty, so at about 3:45, I had another 8 ounces of water.


At 6:00, I had a small apple to hold me over until dinnertime.

At 7:10, supper was finally done! I had 1 cup of Bush's Original Baked Beans that had been baked in the oven, 6 ounces of lean ham that had also been baked in the oven with a light glaze, and 14 boiled baby carrots with a pinch of salt. I also had 16 ounces of diet Dr. Thunder (Walmart version of Dr. Pepper) on ice.

After dinner at around 8:15, I had a large mug of Candy Cane Lane tea with three packs of aspartame based sweetener in it. I haven't measured the capacity of this mug so I am not sure how much it was. Candy Cane Lane is a tea put out by Celestial Seasonings that is primarily a mixture of decaffeinated green tea and peppermint leaves.

I am not an evening eater so this is probably it for me today so I will post this now!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What Should We Eat?

I have been feeling better physically the last few days, but I have found myself weepy with no apparent reason time and time again. I am not a fan of winter, and we are coming to the end of a difficult time, and I think that it has all just been too much for me! My girlfriend feels that my stomach problems have been mostly anxiety related, and I think that she might be right.

I have a lot of curiosity, and I tend to spend a lot of time reviewing research on various topics of interest to me. One of these topics is nutrition. I am curious about how food affects us, and what we should eat, or if it even matters what we eat. I recently read a few blogs where people were trying out radical diets so the last few days, I have once again been reviewing the research.

I did not find any hard evidence that any of the diets that I read about were better than the diet that I strive to eat now. (I admit that I am not terribly successful at the moment. I still wonder if there is something easier that is just as healthy. I highly doubt that one of these radical diets is it!)

What do I think the ideal diet is? I think that the bulk of the diet should be made up of minimally processed fruits and vegetables. Those fruits and vegetables that have lower concentrations of carbohydrates should be eaten in higher amounts than those with higher carbohydrate concentrations. This diet can be supplemented with legumes, whole grains, lowfat meats, lowfat dairy, nuts, seeds, and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, but the fruits and veggies should make up the bulk of what you eat.

I am still open to some new discoveries, but for now, I will stick with this for my goal. It is hard enough to achieve in comparison to the typical American diet. After I master this plan, perhaps I will experiment with more changes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Continuing Illness

The past couple days, my sinus infection has been clearing up, but I have had stomach problems. I have been dealing as best as I can. There is a part of me that is angry at myself for being sick the last couple of months! I know that that is an irrational and unhelpful state in this situation. I will try to take proper care of myself and do what I can and see where that leads.

Yesterday, I did not get out for a walk, but I did play wii sports non-stop with much enthusiasm for an hour. It was fun, but I didn't get the same emotional benefits that going outside bestows upon me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A New Month

Here it is February, and I am full to the brim with positivity. I managed to make some money last month, not as much as I had hoped to, but more than I would have thought possible considering the fact that I was quite ill and could only put forth so much effort.

Exercise is still a struggle. The weather is cooperating today so I will hit the road with a new burst of fortitude to make my dreams a reality. I will be practicing mindfulness during my exercise period, and I will maybe mix some things up with some positive visualization.

My partner is beginning a journey of her own this month. She is also thinking about the months ahead and wants to make some changes in the way we eat. I will be thinking about that trying to figure out the direction that we should go. In our world, food is a social thing and making too much of a change can be very difficult unless you choose an isolation that we may not be ready for. It is something we need to discuss a lot I think to find our path.

What am I doing this month? I am eliminating! I am working on getting rid of the things that are non-essential to me. This will include actual "things" but mostly I will be focusing on activities. I don't do a lot of activities that I don't consider essential, but there are a few, and those are on the way out, or at the very least, they will be minimized!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Am Still Alive

I have not been well this month. It seems that all of my available energy has been going to cooking and cleaning and living, and not much has been left for blogging.

I am still smiling though! :)

I hope to be back to regular blogging soon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Day 2: A Word for a Year

Much of the last two days has been spent searching. I have read blog entries and website articles about happiness and pleasure, simplicity and going slow, goals and dreams. I have taken personal inventories. I have thought and meditated on myself and life and those who I love. I have watched a ton of inspirational videos. I haven't done much discussion or talking at all. I have kept it inside of me swirling around while when interacting with others doing my best to stay in the moment!

Lots of my thoughts have been directed towards the idea of goals.

Do I have a life goal? I would like to feel safe. I would like to trust. Those two go hand in hand. On top of and beyond that, I would like to live amidst beauty and experience happiness. I would like the freedom and resources to learn and learn and learn. I would like part of that learning to involve travel and new experiences.

I have set those intentions long ago, and I renew them regularly. How can I be more concrete though? What can I do this month and this year to move in that direction? That was what I was searching for. What have I done since I started this blog? I have developed the habits of positivity and single-tasking, both wonderful things, both things that are not too difficult for me, both things that feel so right, getting back to who I really am. Now to move forward.

I have decided that I will not set out to form another habit this month. I need to make exercise a habit. It adds to my happiness. It makes me feel great inside. It increases my health. This will be the only habit that I will be working on forming this month.

I still intend to move forward though. As part of my searching process, I reviewed how much money I made this year. I have decided that I need to focus on making more money this year. The good months were because I made a good effort. If I can make that effort every month, it will be a wonderful asset for my family and me. To help me with this goal, I am going to keep part of the money that I earn this year in a safety fund, to help me feel safe. I have not discussed this with Diana because my mind doesn't seem to want to focus enough to bring it up, but I know that she will not be opposed. She has wanted a safety fund for a long time. My goal is to make as much as I made in my highest month last year every month this year and to improve by at least one cent each month.

I have also decided to have a "word of the year." This seems like a great way to stay focused throughout the year. I have selected "smile" as my word. Although I have the habit of always thinking positively, it takes me a few moments to twist my thoughts around when a crisis hits. I have noticed the last two days that when I smile, I can decrease the length of that time period. This not only increases my own positivity from mysake, it enables me to be available faster to help those around me who might be in crisis.

I will admit that it feels really weird. It is definitely a 100% fake smile to begin with. Then so quickly, it becomes real. I may be made fun of, but it works for me, and I am going with it!

2009 is the year of the smile! :)