Living Large, Personal Growth, Venting Spleen

What happened when I started a diet: A cautionary tale.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m staring down the barrel of (at least) one family member’s wedding, a multi-decade high school reunion, and a cruise. Not only do I need to boost my stamina and endurance for these exciting events, I would love to feel comfortable in something other than sweatpants at these things.

So I made a plan.  Starting Jan 2, there would be:

  • No dairy
  • No processed foods
  • No bread or grains
  • No sugar

The days leading up to Jan 2 were pure gluttony. Of course I’d made Christmas candy, and bought cheese, and bread, and the list goes on because how can you celebrate holidays without shameless overindulgence? (there’s lots of sarcasm and embarrassment in that sentence that doesn’t come through on the screen, btw)

As I polished off a plate of cookies and let out my drawstring pants another notch, I could feel the dread flooding me like a melted chocolate wash. This was going to hurt. I knew it.

So tried to reframe my eating strategy in a more positive light. Instead of all the “no’s,” I thought about the things I loved that I could eat. For example,

  • I can have all the roasted brussels sprouts I want!
  • Yay blueberries and apples!
  • Steak? Chicken? Yes please!
  • Avocados anytime!

And I looked at old pictures, reminding myself that once upon a time I was healthier and stronger. Wouldn’t it be great to not be winded every time you climb stairs, I asked me. Won’t it feel better to, well, feel better?

January 2 was a long day. Not gonna lie. But I did it. Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms for breakfast. Garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette and an avocado for lunch. Cashews for a snack. Shredded cilantro chicken over an avocado for dinner. Water and mint tea all day long.

I would love to tell you that it was fantastic and easier than I expected.  Some parts were. Giving up bread, breakfast cereal and pasta wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be. Eating vegetables and fruit, it turns out, is still possible to do without adding butter or cheese. And it still tastes good.

Somewhere around the middle of the day I developed a nagging headache, and noticed I was ridiculously irritable.  My filter was in overdrive by dinnertime, I was trying so hard not to rage on my family, our dog, birds outside. It was exhausting and confusing.

The third, fourth, and fifth of January weren’t much different. I adjusted pretty quickly to the eating plan, and I started riding our stationary bike again. So that was good. But this disturbing new She-Hulk personality still lingered.

Then I realized why I was so cranky: sugar addiction. I had been denial about my eating habits for so long, I didn’t really see it. My answer for everything – boredom? thirst? sleepy? stressed? – was to eat or drink something, and that something was usually sugary or starchy. I’d get my quick fix of sugar happy and be on my way.

My body just needed a little time to recalibrate. The headaches and moodiness lasted about a week and a half, and I learned to manage them without turning to a soda (or a chocolate covered cherry).  Epsom salt baths and ibuprofen helped, as did drinking lots of water.

What’s my point? I’m wondering the same thing. My point is not to be discouraged if you change your eating habits and it’s horrible and cranky-making. The detox process stinks, but it’s worth it. You’re worth it. Hang in there.

Anybody else kicking a bad habit this year? How’s it going?

 

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My Heart

An Open Letter to My Teenage Son

Dear Son,

You came into our world and brought joy with you.  You brought a fierce, pure heart and a genuine love that humbles me daily.

In your relatively few years on this earth, you’ve been blessed with triumphs as well as sorrows; gifts as well as challenges. Your faith and “silver lining” attitude has helped you persevere through them all.

Oh, how I wish I could say it gets easier from here.

Although the world desperately needs men of virtue and integrity, the world also makes it increasingly harder to become one.  We have taught you to be sincere, honest and kind, but you will be tempted to grow calloused, disrespectful and snarky by “entertainers” on YouTube, TV, movies, and elsewhere. We have tried to teach you humility and service, but you will be encouraged to compete for money, notoriety and status by your peers in academics and sports.  Even by teachers, family and friends who mean well, you’ll be encouraged to prioritize the things of this world.

When this happens, and it will happen a lot, my prayer is that you look to the best role model we have: Jesus.  Spend time each day reading the truth, and growing your relationship with Christ.  The lies this world will tell you have no chance against Him.

The truth is that your story began long before that snowy night in Kansas when you were born, and it is intended to be eternal. You are loved more than you know.  You were created for a purpose, and you aren’t going through any of this journey alone, even though sometimes it feels that way.

I am beyond proud of the young man you are becoming.

I love you more than my feeble words express.

I believe in you.

Love,

Mom

For Fun, Personal Growth

Cheese is the perfect vehicle for cheese.

My family gathered ’round the kitchen table early afternoon the day after Thanksgiving. Football was on, the kids were heavy into a foosball tournament, and us grownup-types were snacking and visiting. Waltzing down memory lane over leftover turkey.  It was good stuff. The visiting, that is, not the leftover turkey (although that was pretty good too).

Only I wasn’t actually eating the leftover turkey. My plate was loaded up with the remnants of Thanksgiving’s cheese tray.  For a cheese-a-holic like me, this moment was glorious, even though since we accidentally tossed the wrappers, I couldn’t honestly identify any of the cheeses on the cheese tray and had no idea what I was shoveling into my mouth.

But anyway.

The conversation was so lively and the company so warm that I was halfway through the pile on my plate before I noticed the lack of crackers and/or vegetables. It was amazing, but it was all. cheese.

My brain wheeled. I’ve been snacking nonstop, though. But how? 

In my hand, inches away from my mouth, was a wedge of hard cheese that had been dipped into a delightful herb-coated goat cheese.  I saw it. I shrugged. I ate.

This is how I discovered that cheese is, in fact, the perfect vehicle for cheese.

 

 

Uncategorized

Progress, not perfection

Cocoa. Marshmallows. Choco-whip.
Cocoa. Marshmallows. Choco-whip.

Early in our marriage, my sweet hubs pointed out what I like to think of as humanity, but he calls a “charming quirk.” We’d eaten out, which we didn’t do often in those days (or these), and he noticed that as I talked, I cut my food into bite sized pieces, then selected a few pieces to eat. I did it without thinking about it. He said it reminded him of the “When Harry Met Sally” movie – Sally always had to create the perfect bite.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you like and the way you like it. But writing, for me anyway, doesn’t take well to that kind of process. When I write, sometimes I get stuck in that “perfect bite” mode. I self-edit to the point of paralysis.  Some days I spend more time thinking of the word choice and possible implications of said choice than I do just letting the ideas pile onto the page.  I don’t know why it happens, and it’s agonizing.

This week has been one of those weeks where I’ve been beating myself up over my staggering lack of perfection. And what do you know, the ol’ creativity faucet has clogged.  Nothing but ick. Quelle surprise. Today I finally FINALLY eked out a few dribbling words on a new MS and it. felt. amazing. The words flowed just enough to remind me that they’re still in there, if only I’d dial down the self-criticism long enough to let them out.

So tomorrow I’ll sit down to write again and I will tell myself that it’s okay. That the page I’m staring at is a welcoming page, an inclusive place where all syllables, consonants and vowels are treated kindly as we build this little world together. Yes, later we will slice everything into pieces and select a few choice morsels to save. But today what’s more important is to keep moving, imagining, slinging ideas out and sprinkling them with whatever comes to mind.