Random Musings on Food, Yoga, Weight Loss, Grief, and Other (Un)related Things

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about food, grief, my relationship with food, and all sorts of other life issues. Food has always been a comfort to me, even more so now. I’m not sure exactly what my intentions are with this entry other than to share random thoughts.

Weight loss is important to me.  It is. So is being healthy. But I’ve been on this road long enough to know that my journey just can’t be about weight loss. You see I want to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have struggled with clean eating since my dad died and if I’m honest since a couple of months before he died. I haven’t been eating horribly by any means, but not clean either. But I want to, and I’m working on it.

Sometime last week I really decided to renew my efforts at looking at my current eating habits, and the results were inevitable. I watched my emotional self rise up. I could feel myself becoming needy. I felt a huge weight on my chest. I didn’t feel like going to yoga on Friday. I didn’t feel like going to yoga today (Monday). I didn’t feel like going to spinning on Sunday.

I could feel the oppressive sadness of my mood. I’ve made so many strides with food, but I need to make more, and I know that requires looking at how I assuage my pain with my eating.

I KNOW I have to do this because this is the only way I’ll succeed on this path. Have you seen the statistics on how many people are NOT successful at losing weight? How many people regain their weight after weight loss surgery? The stats are not good. And I know why they’re not good. If people don’t face their demons, the reasons why they gained weight in the first place, they’ll always go back to the behavior. I know that. I’ve lived that.

Continuing to work at losing weight, continuing to work at being healthy in every way means I have to look at some painful truths. It’s hard for me without my dad. I miss him more today than I imagined. My only other family really is my mom. It’s not that I don’t have other relatives, but I don’t see them. Yes, I’m blessed to have some awesome friends and a wonderful online community, but I still feel a certain loneliness that it’s just my mom and me.

I’ve felt so needy this weekend. But I didn’t really share that with anyone because I knew I needed to feel it. And as bad as I felt, and as much as I wanted to wallow in that state I still got up and went to yoga, went to spinning because I KNEW and I KNOW that to succeed I have to work through it. I can’t go around it, or I’ll never see the other side.

Food, as I’ve expressed before, represents a certain love, a certain escape. Yes, those are certain falsehoods, BUT it’s helped me through some rough times. It’s helping me now. But I’m ready to find a better way.

What does that look like? When I’m really successful at having a healthier relationship with the food I put in my body, it’s so simple. I keep a notebook and write down what I eat every day. No judgment.  Just observations. If I eat this for breakfast, then maybe I won’t eat that for lunch. I’m looking more now at eating whole foods and not processed foods. My body feels so much better when I’m eating natural foods.  Bathroom habits go much more easily, if you know what I mean.

And if I have an emotional reaction I write that down too because I have those ALL THE TIME.  I am an emotional eater. I am a reactor.  Not like I used to be though.

That’s why yoga will always be a part of my life. Even on days when I’d rather wallow in self-pity, throw a temper tantrum, cry huge tears, I’ll always go to yoga because it helps me find a way through the cr*p. And you wanna know a secret? My body is soooo much more toned for doing yoga as much as I do.  You should see how much I can hold in my core now!! It’s kinda cool! Being physically active helps me feel better.  That’s why I went to the spin class on Sunday. That’s why I went for a walk in the rain on Saturday. Any weight loss is a side effect. I LOVE feeling the clarity that comes with being physically active.

I made it through this weekend. In the words of the philosopher Barry Manilow “I made it through the rain / and found myself respected / By the others / who got rained on too”. I’ll make it through this. I am making it through this. One yogic breath at a time. You’ll make it through the rain too. All you have to do is ask. All you have to do is make the effort. There’s an awesome world out there just waiting.  And it’s only one thought away!!!  Choose that thought! I am!!!  Actually, I don’t know any other way to be…….

I meant to end the entry there. Then I started thinking about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his thoughts on self-reliance. I’ve spent most of my life living for others, wanting and needing their approval. I’m learning to trust myself and that’s no easy feat, but it’s worth it. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” — the genius of Emerson speaks loud and clear.  Trust myself. Trust my heart. It’s the only way.

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

and my personal facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IggieSue

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7 Days Without Processed Sugar; 7 Days With Me

Sitting in my office yesterday with one of my office mates, Terrie, our conversation about health care somehow turned into a discussion of processed sugars and how awful and yucky and tired they make us feel. Before either of us knew what we were doing, we made a pact to avoid ANY and ALL PROCESSED SUGARS for SEVEN DAYS!!!  We made plans to report back to each other during our office hours next Tuesday, October 29th.  I left the office fully of giddiness at the adventure that awaited me, not fully realizing the ramifications of my decision until a few hours later.

After school, I had a bit of time before meeting a friend for dinner, so I decided to go clothes shopping. I didn’t really think I’d find anything—I’m a summer girl and prefer to wear a summer/spring wardrobe all year round. As I browsed through the store a neon lime green pencil straight skirt caught my eye.  I HAD to try it on.  I LOVE lime green, as did my father.

As I stared at the image of myself wearing the neon creation, I didn’t see myself in the mirror; rather, I saw a misshapen green blob that belonged in a D-level horror movie. In those moments, all the hard work I’d done on myself disappeared, and I wanted to eat, to eat sugar: candy, chocolate, cookies, oreos, any food with sugar, but not just one serving, multiple servings. This self-improvement project I’m on suddenly felt as though it wasn’t going anywhere.

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But I’d made a commitment, I’d made a promise, and not just to Terrie, I’d made it to myself. In a year that has brought me a sea of changes, I desired even more, especially one that would take more in the direction of my dreams. My food addict brain and heart, though, had other crafty clever ideas, such is the nature of addiction.

I’d promised no processed sugars, but I didn’t promise no overeating, no over-indulging. If I couldn’t make myself feel better with processed sugars I could do it by simply overeating, overeating ANY FOOD! Consuming too much of any food would take the pain away, well not really. It would just mask it, and my addict brain wanted very much to mask the pain, the pain of so much, yet so little. Food has been my best friend, lover, constant companion for so long that letting go, really letting go—well I can’t quite describe that but it’s another layer of loss, of mourning but also of celebration.

My rational brain and heart knew that I’d come too far to go back, so I woke up with another plan, another idea: for the next seven days, I’d share my food with the world, so that’s what I’ll do. I don’t plan on being perfect. I don’t promise not to over-indulge, but I’ve jumped off too many proverbial cliffs and thrived beyond my wildest imagination.

So, for the next seven days, on my fb page I’ll post reports and or pics of my food. It’ll be another step in my journey to reach my goals, to be healthier, and in that NO ONE, not even ME can/will stop me!

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

Here’s a pic of  Wednesday morning’s brekkie:

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Opening a Can of Worms: My Day in Food!

A Can of Worms

A wise soul once told me I could find strength through vulnerability. I’m discovering he’s more than right, especially now. Having food issues, I can find no greater vulnerability than sharing my food habits. Today, I’m sharing my food with you. I didn’t plan a special day, a perfect day—it’s just a day, a part of my evolution. People have asked me how I’ve lost weight up to this point. What do I do? Count calories? Follow a specific program?

The truth is my relationship with food is an ever-evolving process. The most helpful tool I’ve ever utilized is simple: writing down my eating choices. It keeps me honest with myself and allows me to reflect upon how the food I eat makes me feel. So, here’s what I ate today, with some commentary and pictures.

Breakfast:  fresh dandelion, black kale, and pepper jack cheese omelet. When I sautéed the dandelion and black kale I didn’t use any oil. I just added a bit of water along with garlic and onion. I also used two eggs. Sometimes I remove one of the yolks but today I just used both whole eggs. I topped it off with two pieces of toast (I can’t believe it’s not butter—it’s what I had, but I’m aiming to eat natural foods) and a pear.

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Lunch: A vegetarian Caesar salad with avocado and grilled tofu.

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Random Beverage: Pink Lady Health Ade Kombucha (most of it exploded all over my car, so I actually only drank a bit of it.)

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Dinner: Twice-Baked potato with sautéed fresh dandelion, black kale, pepper jack cheese AND COCONUT BACON!!!!  COCONUT BACON RULES!!!  I topped it off with a fresh pear.

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Not pictured: my ego (medium) non-fat caramel latte. I did not plan this. I messed up something (not a huge deal) at school and had an emotional reaction. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I reacted. But it’s better than what I really wanted to eat: pumpkin mellow creams—so yummy, so sweet, and sooooooo UNHEALTHY.  Don’t believe me? Read this list of ingredients:  sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze, salt, gelatin, dextrose, honey, artificial flavor, sesame oil, yellow 6, red 3, yellow 5, blue 1. But, in their defense, they are fat free!!!

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Overall, not the best day, not a perfect day, but it’s okay. And that’s okay for now. That’s all I’m asking of myself at the moment.

Perfecting a Pleasing and Healthy Pantry

As part of my quest for better/improved health I decided the time had come for me to clean out and ascertain the contents of my pantry, so that I would know exactly what I had to eat.  I wanted to see if there were expired items that I needed to throw out (there were); I wanted to see if there were unhealthy items I wanted to throw out (the verdict hasn’t come in on that one yet), but most of all I just wanted to know exactly what I had, so that I could see how it fit into an eating plan that would give me even more energy and even better health, more stamina in the yoga room, more vibrancy in the classroom, more stillness in meditation, more speed on the treadmill—you get the picture).

During the past two days I took every food item out of my pantry for an evaluation.  (as an aside I have a LARGE pantry, and I want to make better use of it, and not just have it be a junk collection station).  Here are some of my observations, item by item:

1)      Best Foods Light mayonnaise: ever since I moved to this apartment I keep buying mayonnaise thinking I’ll make some egg salad ( I do love a good quality homemade egg salad), but I have yet to make egg salad, so I end up throwing out the mayo when it expires and buying a new one.

2)      Target’s Market Pantry light syrup: who is kidding who here?  I have an addiction to sugar.  When I make pancakes, which isn’t very often, they are more of an excuse to drown them in sugar. After eating the pancakes (aka syrup) I usually go into a sugar coma and sleep for days…..I haven’t made pancakes since I moved to this apartment, and I’m not sure I made them in my last apartment, but I keep buying the syrup, just like I keep buying the mayo……

3)      Trader Joe’s Portobello mushroom soup and Campbell’s mushroom soup (yes, they are both vegetarian): well I bought these thinking I’d cook them with some potatoes and veggies, but have yet to do that, and I think, in actuality, that it might make a rather heavy meal.

4)      Pumpkin Oatmeal: well I pared it down from 6 boxes to 2, so that’s something!

5)      Pickled beets and garbanzo beans and black beans: items hanging around for salads.

6)      Trader Joe’s salsa verde: awesome when mixed with corn tortillas, cheese and eggs.

7)      Ortega green chiles and Las Palmas enchilada verde sauce: yummy for enchilada pie…..

8)      Raw organic coconut butter and raw organic almond butter: arguably the healthiest items in my pantry. The coconut butter tastes awesome plain and the almond butter works well for some extra protein in smoothies.

9)      Artichoke and garlic whipped mustard: bought this in Monterey in June. Haven’t opened it yet, but I remember it was rather tasty.

There are other items in the pictures, but you get the picture! I’m trying to work toward a healthier style of eating, and I’m not always sure where it needs to go. I feel like it’s a constant experiment. I want to eat fresher and healthier foods, but that requires going to the grocery store more frequently, and I have to be careful. When I’m feeling emotional, which is most of the time I tend to stray toward more processed foods, like candy bars. If could eat just one it wouldn’t be a problem, but I tend to eat and want to eat more than just one.

I feel better and healthier when I eat fresh raw foods. My body responds to them more positively. My mood is elevated. My spirit is happier. So that’s more of my aim at the moment, one meal at a time. Sometimes I do okay, and sometimes I just do, but I’m getting there, and, in the end, that’s all that counts.

Oh, and, at the very least my pantry is better organized and clean, so now I do know exactly what I have………

Pantry Before:

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Contents of Pantry:

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Pantry After:

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Life: it’s about letting go and chocolate………..

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

~Joseph Campbell

I’m not sure where this particular blog post will lead, but maybe that doesn’t really matter.

Life really is all about letting go.  And chocolate.  Everything really ends up being about chocolate.

I’ve been thinking about my relationship with food lately (well I’ve thought about it most of my life actually), and I’ve been hearing a lot about cleanses, and this has intrigued me, not necessarily for the health value; rather, going on a cleanse means letting go–letting go of my own conceptual thoughts on how and when and what types of foods I should/could/would benefit from eating and drinking.

On Monday, on a whim–the best things in life happen on whims, I went into Cafe Gratitude and asked them how long it would take to prepare a one day cleanse.  They said about ten minutes, so I said “okay. I’ll go for it.”

I didn’t know exactly what I was in for, but I had to do it. I had to change how I thought about food. I had to give up control.  I had to admit that maybe I didn’t know what was best, or at the very least I had to explore new avenues, new options.

The cleanse consisted of 5 drinks and one salad.  The first two drinks tasted rather putrid. But I soon learn that taste really didn’t matter, for I could feel change manifesting inside of me. As the day progressed I felt, for the most part, a certain happiness, a heightened level of energy.  Part of that could be attributed to the high that comes with trying something new and healthy, but there was so much more to this feeling that I can’t even begin to explain, not even now.

I started to have the feeling that if I could do this for one day and thrive that maybe there was way more out there than I ever imagined.

So where does the chocolate come in?  Sometime around 8p.m. I found myself in a near panic because I couldn’t find my rosters for school the next day. So I started going through stuff in a near panic, and that’s when I found it:  this past April I bought my dear dear friend Niki a See’s chocolate bar for her birthday.  She LOVES See’s and they don’t/didn’t have one in Ohio, and I wanted her to have a treat, but soon after I brought it home I couldn’t find it. I’d looked forever for it, eventually figuring I’d lost it.

But, just after 8p.m. on the day of my one day cleanse, I found it.  And I couldn’t stop laughing (in a good way).  On the very day I was taking a new step into rethinking my thoughts about how and what I eat, I find a chocolate bar.

The Nancy of old would have decided that she would wait until midnight and then eat the chocolate bar at the end of her one-day experiment, but this new Nancy has take the chocolate bar and put in an envelope, and as I sit her writing this the chocolate is on its way to Ohio.

I feel compelled to share this story with you because, while it was only one day, winds of change are continuing to shift for me at a lightning pace.  I don’t know how to think about food anymore.  I just know that after Monday, everything tastes differently, even life…………………Image

Full Disclosure: the Truth about My Starbucks Addiction

I’ve always known.  Every time I’ve walked into a Starbucks and had my favorite drink, I’ve known exactly how many calories (within a certain range) that I’ve consumed.  An iced venti non-fat upside down caramel macchiato has approximately 240-270 calories.  Of course, that assumes that the barista follows the strict Starbucks formula.  Most days, when I’ve watched them, they tend to be liberal with the caramel.  And why wouldn’t they be?  Sugar makes people happy.

Or does it?

For years I’ve gone to Starbucks, yet I don’t really care for coffee.  I certainly can’t stand espresso.  But I do have a sweet tooth, and there’s something far more socially acceptable about drinking a Starbucks rather than hooking myself up to an IV and having vanilla buttercream frosting directed straight into my bloodstream.  Let’s face it, if you’re going to eat icing it might as well be buttercream.  What’s up with the fake whipped stuff anyways?  It’s not real!  Icing is all about the sugar and the fat and creaminess.

I’m digressing though.  Back to Starbucks.  The bitter taste of their espresso combined with the sweetness of the syrup and caramel completely gratifies my palate.  Of course it also feeds my sugar addiction.

Then there’s the cool factor.  It’s hip to go to Starbucks. I’ve been to London, France, Mexico and assorted other places and I’ve been to a Starbucks in just about every place. Did you know there’s a Starbucks in the Louvre? And that in London you can get your Starbucks drinks served in a real mug?

Thanksgiving 2010 I traveled to Cabo San Lucas on a cruise for the first time, and on Thanksgiving day I found my way to a Starbucks.  Yup.  I could have been snorkeling, walking on the beach, doing any number of other fun activities, but I was in Starbucks drinking some form of my favorite beverage.

So why am I writing this blog post?  I haven’t been to Starbucks in 10 days.  I’ve been taking a long hard look at why I do what I do and where I want to go. Sugar masks pain.  It’s an addiction.  I know it.  I live it.  It’s painful.  But it’s also a part of the pain of the past.  As I break the cycle I can move forward, into a brighter more beautiful world.

You see when I consume refined sugars I’m not my best when I do my job. I’m not my best in my relationships with others and, more importantly with myself.  I’m not best when I’m doing my Bikram Yoga.  And I want to be my best when I do my Yoga because it’s so much more than about the postures.  It’s about accepting my inner and outer beauty in this moment.

And I’d rather be totally completely and fully alive in the divinity of this moment than be trapped in the dullness of an addiction.

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