Healthy Eating and the Gingerbread Jerks

It wasn’t the realization of the added ten pounds on the doctor’s scale (at which I cried) or the 2 minute per mile slower running time; not the puffy face in recent photos nor the general feeling of blah. There’s no reason for jump starting the healthy eating plan (again) other than it is time.

For the past two days I ate things like this:

  • A piece of Millet bread with a quarter of an avocado spread like butter, topped with a scrambled egg (and two egg whites) and a spoonful of fresh salsa.
  • Juice made from carrots, celery, apple, ginger, kale, beets, and huge bunches of spinach.
  • Gwyneth’s Detox Chicken over millet with a side of kale chips.
  • Back to Nature’s Multi-Seed Crackers with half a piece of jalapeno cheese and a slice of uncured honey ham.
  • Apples.
  • More juice.
  • Whole wheat crusted chicken nuggets baked in the oven with green beans and tomatoes on the side.

Two days of healthy eating and a small dose of exercise (a three-mile run yesterday), and one would assume I was completely on track.

But there’s always a hitch when it comes to clean eating, this time it came in the form of tiny white-fudge-frosted gingerbread men (120 calories for three) nestled inside a pretty Christmas colored box.

If it weren’t for those sneaky gingerbread men I would have conquered two full days free from processed sugar.

Except.

Except their pull over me was too strong that I ate three. And then I ate three more. And the 240 calories I ingested happened faster than you can holler, “KALE!”

The good news is that I got a grip on the situation and stopped. I didn’t go back for more. But I thought about it a lot (a lot, a lot), before running far enough from the kitchen that I was no longer tempted.

One day at a time.

One day at a time.

M.

Do you eat clean or do you struggle? What is it that makes you attack the gingerbread men?

Cute little jerks.
Cute little jerks.
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Body Dysmorphia and the Plus-Sized Revolution

Confession: Nothing in my closet fits me. My skinny jeans won’t zip and my boyfriend jeans fit like the skinnies used to.

Confession: I haven’t run more than three miles in a month.

Confession: Although there are six days in which it’s feasible to exercise my body, I have chosen to do other things the majority of the time.

Confession: I ate a gigantic spoonful of raw chocolate chip cookie dough from out of the garage refrigerator yesterday, not because I was craving cookie dough, but because I wanted the sugar high to get me through the afternoon.

With all of the back and forth I have going on in my head, in regard to food and exercise and health, it occurred to me more than once this week that in addition, I might be body dysmorphic.

How come?

Twice in the past few days, while feeling low about my size, I happened upon images of plus-sized women that I thought had bodies similar to mine. There is a plus-size revolution occurring and the women being held up as images to admire are nothing short of beautiful.

But, I’m … fat?

Since I’m currently squeezed out of my size 10s, I am furious with my body; angry at myself. Compared to the those plus size goddesses, my image of myself is not as kind.

Body dysmorphia, according to the Mayo Clinic, is described as, “imagined ugliness.” It turns out, upon further research that it is a real mental illness and people with dysmoraphobia often go to extreme lengths to manage their perceptions (plastic surgery, hiding from others, etc.).

While I’m not willing to diagnose myself with full-blown BD, I do think that my perceived flaws are skewed based on my expectations of self, and how I’ve once again slipped from, “I am healthy girl, hear me roar.”

I am stuck, then, between my own expectations of how I think I should look, the expectations of what the world views as acceptable, and the reality of what it’s like to live in my own body.

If I use the functioning part of my brain filled with endless information about health and well-being, I can dig myself, once again, out of this rut.

Solution # 1: I’ve ordered the Tracy Anderson mat series to do through the winter with the goal to firm up, confuse my muscles into performing as they should (again), and hopefully gather new information to write a helpful review, to boot.

Solution # 2: I will not buy any clothing, period, until I have become consistent again on the exercise front. If I then need to accept that I fit better in a bigger size, I will accept it, but not without a fight.

Solution # 3: I’ll try to eat more wisely, but am sticking to my belief that weighing myself is damaging to my psyche. Cutting out food groups will also be avoided, as anything completely off-limits will inevitably lead me to consume entire batches of cookie dough, just because I can.

To combine two of my favorite songs (as an homage to the place that I find myself today), here is a mashup (care of Madonna and Gene Sir Harlan) …

What it feels like for a girl … For a girl in this world.

But I’m doing the best that I can.”

M.

Do you ever think you suffer from body dysmorphia or any other body image related issues? How do you manage? How do you conquer?

Image 4 of ASOS CURVE Exclusive Belted Wrap Top
Asos Curve Plus-Size Belted Wrap Top.
Image from the Size Issue of V Magazine.
Crystal Renn is a size 12. Gorgeous, no?
An image from V's Size Issue
An image from V’s Size Issue. The depths of my love for this picture run deep, but I wouldn’t be caught dead allowing a picture of me like this to surface. Is it my modesty or insecurity? I’m not sure.

All Hail the Retinoids

Retinoids (or retinol), initially used to treat my teenage acne, are now a part of my weekly skin care regimen to halt wrinkles and lessen the appearance of sun damage. Made from retinoic acid, which is derived from vitamin A, it’s sold under many brand names from Retin-A to Tazorac, and for the more sensitive types, Differin (aka Adapalene).

Unfortunately, the side effects to human skin as a result of retinol use are peeling and flakiness, added sensitivity causing redness, and (if not careful) skin prone to sunburn. Having used retinol for as long as I, one would assume I’d figured out the appropriate routine for attaining perfect skin without said side effects.

But, this is not so and I continue to battle the peeliness; unsure if it can really be avoided.

Here is what I’ve been advised by my doctor; advise, which I have taken:

1. Choose a gentle face wash like Cetaphil for removing makeup at night.

2. Wait until face is completely dry (about fifteen minutes) before applying a thin layer, careful to avoid the skin around the eyes. In my experience I have (once or twice) applied my gel too closely to the sensitive eye area, resulting in a stinging sensation (to the eye balls!) the following day.

3. Apply at night, every third day at the start, every second night after a few weeks. Some people, not as sensitive, are able to apply it nightly. I’ve yet to meet a person who is able to do this, though.

4. Do not spot treat. It’s better to smooth a thin layer over the entire face and neck than spot treat, which leads to uneven flakiness.

5. Wear sunscreen, preferably with a higher SPF.

6. Moisturize with a non-comedogenic formulation for sensitive skin.

7. Take a break during the summer.

This is one rule that has been in dispute. Some doctors believe that using retinoids in the summer months is a better time to begin, and as long as proper sunscreen usage is adhered to, the “humidity is less likely to dry out the skin.

I am not a doctor, but as I user, I disagree. I am a regimented sunscreen user, and even still find that I am exposed to much more sun in the summer months, regardless of my best efforts to faithfully reapply my SPF.

No matter if you are a teenager with acne or a forty something mom looking for help with your skin, retinoids are a good place to start.

Just be advised, from a woman who yesterday prayed that no moms would talk to her at pre-school pickup due to my peeling mess of a face, there is a price to pay for the long-term benefits of clear, beautiful skin.

Do you use retinoids? Why or why not?

M.

I’ve heard that people worry about the expense of retinoid creams and gels. This small tube, however, has been in use for over a year (probably past the expiration date). The stuff lasts forever.

Stress and Injury

I wrote this a week ago and sent it out for submission. Having not heard back I’m chalking it up to Written Rejection and am moving on, choosing to post it here instead.

I should be heading out for six miles tomorrow morning according to my marathon training plan. But since writing this piece, I’ve pinched a nerve in my left scapula, which kept me from Saturday yoga, woke this morning with a pulled muscle in my neck and have a faint, but still there, soreness in my quad.

I am, in physical terms, a big old mess!

Maybe it’s time to hang up the hopes for a January marathon. Maybe running to meet a time and distance goals should not be my focus right now. Maybe at this phase of my life I should run for pleasure and freedom and stress relief.

No decisions must be made today.

Acknowledging the thoughts……

XOM

Stress and Injury

Being plagued by a tremendous amount of stress recently I woke up ready to go for a run, but had momentarily forgotten about the right quadracept injury that had forced me to put my marathon training on hold. If that wasn’t irritating enough, as I stepped down from my bed I felt a muscular pull up the backside of my right calf; curious as I haven’t done any running or worn new and different shoes since I’d allowed myself this little break to heal from the nagging pain in my thigh.

As I hobbled down the stairs I wondered if the mental stress I’ve been under lately is causing my body to react in a way that is purely physical; both slowing me down and creating pains in places where there shouldn’t be any. It isn’t just common sense that stress can cause illness and injury, in April 2012 a Scientific study at Carnegie Mellon University found proof that mental stress can cause harm on a cellular level; real and actual inflammation can (and does) form in the face of stress.

Two weeks ago I was on a running/yogic/healthy lifestyle roll. Marathon training was in its first week, my consistency in yoga attendance was helping me gain strength and focus, and my food struggles seemed a thing of the past (quitting sugar helped). I was pushing my limits much as I had a year ago at this time, but my circumstances are currently quite different.

Forget that my divorce mediation is nearing closer by the day, the fact that my mother is a week out from surgery from a skin cancer or that my daughters have been acting out to the point that I’ve called a child psychologist for help. Forget that I’m still living with my soon to be ex, that as a stay at home mom I am at the mercy of my husband’s financial choices or that I haven’t worked in six years, since before my twins were born. I have no idea how I’ll support myself after the divorce.

On Tuesday, when a life threatening illness of a loved one rang in my phone, it dawned on me the enormous amounts of life stressers that have plagued what I am coming closer to christening, “Terrible 2012.”

I have a list of things I want to do. I want to run my second marathon in Miami (in January). I want to find meaningful work that will monetarily add to the lives of myself and my children. I want to eat right and attend yoga and fit in my closet full of clothes all presently too tight. I want to feel happy about the chores that keep my house running. I want my family to be healthy. I want to spend time with friends and hear about the wonderful things happening in their lives. I want. I want. I want.

But now may not be the time for the things that I want.

Now might be the time to step back and allow the universe to deliver to me what it thinks I need.

Am I ready to hang up the dream of Miami? Not yet.

Am I going to beat myself up for eating more than my share of the pumpkin pie? Nope.

Will I attend yoga tomorrow morning as I have been for the past few weeks? Yes, because I know it is good for me (my intention, however, will be to remain mindful and without pressure to perform).

What I am not going to do is allow the stress to creep up and cause me pain and frustration and worry.

Sometimes a person needs to be able to choose between what they need and what they want on a minute by minute basis. Knowing when not to do the thing(s) that they want becomes the only decision; the grown up decision to say, “I can’t right now,” knowing that they’ve saved themselves from a stressed out illness or unfortunate injury.

Have you ever pushed through stress and injury for a race? How did you do?

XOM

It’s not funny how badly I want another one of these and the experience to go along with it.

That Honey Boo Boo Show

The Honey Boo Boo craze has hit the nation. Comedians, newscasters, bloggers and play ground moms everywhere have been talking about The Learning Channel’s show, which follows child pageant princess Alana and her family.

I was never a Toddler’s and Tiaras watching fan, so it didn’t occur to me to even investigate the Honey Boo Boo madness. But as my remote wandered on Wednesday, I stumbled upon the program and ended up recording the remainder of the season marathon as it was time for me to head back to my own life and put my kids to bed.

I watched the recorded episodes last night and am not shy or embarrassed about saying that I love the show as much for what is wrong with it than for what is right.

There are plenty of things to find wrong; obesity, poverty, folks living at the low end of the socio-economic ladder, children who curse as freely as the adults, lack of manners and education, terrible eating habits, questionable hygiene, tobacco use, loudness, abrasive behavior, teenage pregnancy, and least of all the strange phenomenon of child pageants.

If you choose to believe that the success of the show is because of its likeness to a reality train wreck, then your glass is half empty, but I do understand your disdain.

If your glass is half full, though, you might see beyond the obvious. You might find beauty underneath the surface. You might find compassion while falling in love with the crazy band of misfits, lead by a mother who is doing her best.

Consider this. More than thirty five percent of American adults are obese, just like Mama. Genetically engineered foods are everywhere. Cheap and unhealthy fast food is easy and abundant. Corporations don’t teach people to drink water and plant gardens. They advertise soda and junk food and to many people who haven’t been taught a better way, it is the only way they know how to live. If you are doing your best to get by (Mama feeds her family of six on eighty dollars a week) then try to understand the conundrum.

In one scene Mama is making dinner for her family; sketti with ketchup and butter. In the microwave is placed a bowl of Country Crock margarine and a big squeeze of ketchup. It’s melted and mixed and poured over the spaghetti (which I am sure is white flour enriched, not a whole grain within a mile) and Mama mentions that she was “raised on sgetti and ketchup and butter.” It’s no wonder then that her weight (and that of the family) is an issue that they are trying to address and remedy with weekly weigh-ins.

For people who find fault with the language that is used and the often incorrect grammar, verbage and made up mix of vocabulary, consider that one of the biggest social dividers is the difference in education between those with and those without.

I learned to be sensitive to this during my first year of teaching the fourth grade in a poor section of Durham, North Carolina. Most of the time I could barely understand my children and wished they had subtitles like the cast of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. They were ten-year olds, though, and so I could correct their incorrect grammar, fix their vocabulary mistakes. It was hard, but I learned that underneath the lack of knowledge were regular children with the same loves and likes as the richest and more educated ten-year olds I’d known.

Don’t misunderstand. I do not feel sorry for these people. There have been reports highlighting the serious dysfunction (arrests, multiple baby daddy’s, etc.) and it is worrisome. But I am not blind to where they come from, so I don’t feel contempt the way one might if they choose only to see what’s on the surface.

What is below is far more interesting and beautiful.

For example, Mama knows her weight is a problem. Her struggle to ascend the bouncy tower at Alana’s birthday party was frustrating for her, but her attempt to stay away from the junk food and lose some weight is enviable.

The family talks to each other. Whatever you may think of the cursing or word mash-ups, they talk to each other. No one is fighting over the iPad (though maybe that will change with the success of the show). At present time, no one seems lost in technology land.

One episode focused on Mama’s trouble in keeping her kids busy during the hot southern summer. Without many options, the family sets up their own slip and slide with a tarp, soap bubbles and a hose. They went grocery shopping together, played Bingo together, worked together to get Alana ready for her pageant. Together they acted like a family! A real and functioning family.

And there is love.

One of my favorite scenes was when Mama was going on a date with Alana’s dad and wanted to get pretty by putting on some makeup. Mama encouraged her four daughters to make her up and they all laughed and teased and ultimately made their mom look like a “rodeo clown.” After washing off the mess, Alana stroked her mother’s face and said, “I’ll make you pretty, mama,” and the moment of sweetness and love outshone all the nuttiness of the minutes before.

I should mention the lone man who lives amongst the wackiness of Honey Boo Boo’s world. Alana’s father, lovingly called Sugar Bear, is a chewing tobacco spitting in a bottle kind of guy. He’s missing a good bunch of teeth and wore a t-shirt for the professional family photo shoot (he only dresses up for funerals).  Again, if we are only looking at the surface, he is a mess.

Dig below and you see that his eyes get soft when he speaks of the birth of his daughter. When Mama’s seventeen year old daughter comes home from the hospital with her new baby Kaitlyn, Sugar Bear sits in his chair, a thin line of a smile demonstrating his happiness. Not a man of many words. A heart that beats quietly on his sleeve.

But the biggest reason for the success of the show is its namesake, that Honey Boo Boo Child,  the adorable and feisty Alana. Despite (or because of) her environment she is free and secure in herself and happy. She knows that she is loved and when she is sad (like when her teacup piggy had to be returned to the breeder) she cried like any normal six-year-old would. She may not have great table manners, but she says, “Thank you,” when it’s appropriate and she turns on the charm when competing in her pageants. You want to hug her, she’s so real and for the first time I was rooting for a pageant princess instead of rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of the sport.

TLC was smart and just this week renewed Honey Boo Boo child for a second season. I for one will be watching and hope for good things for this family.

XOM

Have you seen the show? What do you think about it? Agree with my take or just find it offensive? 

Food Mood

When food is used to cope, getting sidelined can happen with just one bite.

One bite and it’s over.

You make commitments to get healthy, to cut out gluten, to run more, to be better, faster, stronger

But then comes an angry text from a certain somebody, an email from the lawyer with a mediation date, two sick kids after only six days of school…

My girls’ Whole Foods margherita pizza looks really good as I sit here and type. It’s bubbling with gooey cheesiness and there’s that thin wheat crust with scattered bits of basil and tomato. And the smell….

The sleeves of Oreos over there look pretty tempting, too. The girl’s dad brought home a gigantic box of those suckers to make home-made ice cream. Would they even notice if I grabbed and dashed and hid in my room, back to the closed door with a crumb coated smile?

They might not.

Eating the pizza would start the inner war. Then would come the apathetic negotiating (which you will lose) for a second piece. A third piece wouldn’t seem unreasonable if the shit hit the fan at any time during that second piece.

Before the pizza had time to move on down the digestive track, the cookies would one finger wave me over and then I’d really be doomed. My soothed mood would make the decision for me; add the sugar and it will be all better. You will feel better. You will feel something other than sad, mad, had…

It would end badly, though; rubbing a sore gut and kicking an already bruised ego.

Instead of managing my stress with food I instead (just) made a bowl of mixed greens with half a pear, some sliced almonds, gorgonzola and a bit of balsamico. Clap. Please, do.

I feel momentarily better, but it doesn’t change the fact that I need to get away from the kitchen and fast.

I know it’s early for bed (6:26) but the farther I get from that room, the better I’ll be able to manage today’s out of control appetite for diet destruction!

Night night.

XOM

The pizza.
The Oreos.
It was pretty. I should have taken a picture, but it was either eat or be beat.

I Quit You

When Ryan Hall dropped out of the Men’s Olympic Marathon less than a month ago, people accused him of being a quitter.

There are Pinterest quotes that scream, “Pain is temporary and quitting is permanent!”

I get that quitting can be bad, but it also can be good (and needed and safer and in Ryan Hall’s decision was an intelligent choice to save a career by accepting an injured hamstring).

I quit drinking Diet Coke well over a week ago when I realized that I was cracking a can every time I felt thirsty. I knew it was wrong, but I’m not sure it was because I felt so awful that I knew it had to be quit. It was a case of intellect outshining desire (damned desire) and in this case my brain won.

It was the first step in taking back some control of a diet that had spun away from me. I’d retreated back to the coping mechanism of using food during what’s been a tumultuous time in my life.

Entering day four without sugar hasn’t been as easy, but it also hasn’t been torture.

I am not having huge cravings and I’m beginning to feel what I think is hunger.

Five days ago the habit to return to the fridge/kitchen/pantry for energy and fuel and emotional strength left me feeling like a guinea pig on a wheel.

Once the wheel got going I could run and run and run, but I never felt satiated and never felt good.

But it saved me from having to think.

The hardest part of cutting out the refined sugar has not been the cravings. It’s been setting myself up to make better choices by having a fridge/kitchen/pantry stocked full of the right things.

In the midst of a hectic day, given the choice to eat a bag of Twizzlers over anything else, the decision too often made itself. Admitting is the first step to recovery and so I confess. This is how I tick. This is how I was made.

Will I ever eat a cupcake again? I’d be in denial if I said, “No.”

Do I hope I’m not in the position to eat one (or a box) for a long time? Oh God, on knees, saying prayers.

My biggest hope is that when I do decide to eat a cupcake (and let’s hope the cake part is moist and rich and the buttercream sings in its sweetness) that I will be able to stop there and not eat three.

A day at a time. A minute at a time. With faith that (for today) I can do this.

Do you emotionally eat? Do you have triggers? Ever feel like a guinea pig on a wheel in the kitchen (or anywhere else for that matter)?

XOM

Cupcakes by Frosted NYC at Stacey’s wedding. they were great. I was sent home with a box for my daughters whose temper fits made their trip down the aisle as flowers girls an impossibility. Would you like to place bets on who actually ate the box?