Thursday, March 24, 2016

Compliments

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to share this post from another writer:


She addresses the sensitivities there might be to compliments we often give to people who lose weight. It resonated with me because of what I've tried to express in several of my own posts. For me to want to have been good enough BEFORE losing weight is reasonable. And I guess I'm not the only person who feels like the opposite might be the case if someone compliments the change. We all try to show our support in our own ways - however, this made me feel validated in some of the insecurities I've felt towards compliments on my physical appearance.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I weighed myself

Not immediately. We were out of town until the 4th, and I waited until the 6th just in case of any travel "water weight" (right?). But I did it.

The night before, I pulled the scale out of the downstairs office closet and brought it up to the bathroom in preparation. I really wasn't sure whether I could do it. It sounded kind of scary, actually.

I lost 6.5 lbs this year. I am 2.5 lbs less than when I got pregnant with my youngest, 12.5 lbs less than when I got pregnant with my oldest, and 26.5 lbs less than when I got married (my highest weight). That's lifestyle for you.

How do I feel about this? 

This was a good experience for me. I spent a lot of time this summer feeling good about myself. When I looked in the mirror, I was always surprised because I FELT like I looked better than I actually looked.

Then I got a haircut and replaced a few items in my wardrobe and started THINKING about how I looked. I started feeling negative again.

There are a lot of places I could take this reflection. Maybe I'll pursue those in the future. What I've found to be the conclusion of my New Year's resolution of 2015 is the discovery that my self consciousness, and, deep down, lack of love for myself, disdain for myself, is merely expressed through my focus on weight; it goes deeper than that. This is an issue that is going to take more than one year's resolution.

What tips me off in this regard is that I FEEL fat. All the time. Even when I know I'm not.

As far as goals go, I'm not sure where to go from here. Just one step at a time, right?

In the future, would I go so long without weighing myself? Probably not. Even after months without weighing myself, I would still have random bouts of anxiety about whether I was gaining weight. My plan is to weigh myself once a month and see how things go.

If you've stuck with me this entire year, thank you for the support!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Almost There

We are 25 days away from 2016. Can you believe that? This is me, 25 days away from goal.

This post is a little late. I had it on my calendar to post monthly, but somehow I forgot to check my calendar that day. It took another week to realize I'd missed it. How many days late am I now!

Anyway, this will likely be my last post before we're on the other side of my 2015 New Year's Resolution. I think it's safe to say I've made it! I didn't weigh myself for an entire year. 

Yes, this was difficult. Would I do it again? Nope. Have I gained something from this experience? I'd like to think so. Am I going to weigh myself in 2016. I'm DYING to.

What does this mean? I still have frequent anxiety about my weight. I think this is going to be a challenge for me throughout my life. I would like to acknowledge this, and use this knowledge in how I approach the scale. It IS just a number, but it's a representation of what's happening to our bodies, something that's hard to discern for ourselves without that measurement.

What do I hope I weigh? I have a general idea that I'm 7-10 pounds lighter than a year ago. I might be wrong, because I'm also a lot more fit, and we all know muscle weighs more than fat. 

Then what? What if I've lost two inches this year and the scale hasn't changed? Maybe that will be a good experience for me. It will be an opportunity to acknowledge that the scale is a number that's not always accurate. Do I really need a number to tell me how I look. Do I need a mirror?

I think I've learned to rely on my inner self a little better than that. I find I have more confidence about my appearance than in the past. Maybe it's simply believing I'm 10 pounds lighter. Will that be shattered when I step on the scale?

I dearly hope not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Retreat

In June, I wrote this post about how loving yourself can lead to better loving others. Soon after that, I read ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Runkel. Late in the book, I was surprised to discover some very applicable thoughts from him. This month's post will be made up mostly by quotes from his book.

Over the course of the year, I think I've been pretty clear on my feelings of inadequacy about my body - or my inability to accept that my body is changing for the better. I know that this is a common feeling among many of us. What I did not know is the following:

"Other cultures do not seem to share our false dichotomy. The way the Hebrews and Jesus spoke, they already assumed a strong self-love. The Christian apostle Paul made the same assumption, at one point saying, 'After all, no one ever hated his own body.' This conclusion was logical at that time and in that culture."

Runkel continues:

"But who do you know who doesn’t hate his or her own body these days? Very few, I’m sure. Body image issues surround us so much that we cannot escape breathing in a culture of endless comparison and resulting self-hatred. Recently the Dalai Lama spoke about a conference he attended in the early 1990s of Western psychiatrists and psychologists discussing self-hatred. The Dalai Lama said that for the first hours of listening to these doctors, he thought his English was failing him. He asked himself and others, 'Are they really saying "self-hatred"?' He says he had never, in his vast experience of Eastern philosophy and politics, even considered the notion of self-hatred. But these doctors were speaking as if it were a very common, even epidemic, condition in the West. The Dalai Lama had no folder in his mind to categorize this human experience.

"But we do. We know it all too well. And in one of the most futile moves possible, we hate how we feel about ourselves, and yet we try to use that hatred to motivate ourselves to change. Let’s return to the weight issue. Fat Bastard, the obese Scotsman in the Austin Powers movies, summed it up this way: 'I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat. It’s a vicious cycle.'"

Runkel had a very important point in bringing this self-hatred, this cycle, to light:

"As long as your motivation is your own self-loathing, there is no possible way to make a lasting positive change in your life. And the reason is simple. It’s because the bad pattern you’re trying to change, like overeating, is itself an attempt to make yourself feel better. So by trying to cut it out you are trying to cut out the only thing that makes you feel good. No wonder we sabotage our diets and exercise plans! As long as we’re motivated by our self-hatred, then we’ll never sustain any effort that feels like deprivation, hating ourselves more. Even if it’s ultimately good for us.

"This is because we don’t feel or believe we have a legitimate right to treat ourselves well in the first place. Loving ourselves, and all the effort that takes, feels far too selfish or narcissistic."

There! That was the point from my other post! Why does it have to feel selfish to take the time to love ourselves? I have managed to do it, but just barely. Over the course of several months, I slowly took more time for myself in the morning, even while feeling guilty for asking my husband to watch the children before work. First, it was just fifteen minutes every other day. Then, it was thirty. Soon, I had a solid hour booked for myself EVERY SINGLE MORNING.

Sometimes, I feel ridiculous. Seriously, my husband arrives at work anywhere from 10 A.M. to 11 A.M. just so I can have free time to run, do yoga, shower, and get dressed for the day. I feel absolutely ludicrous most of the time, especially as I'm centering myself with slow yoga breaths, grasping my "intention" (okay, so there are a lot of things that feel silly about yoga, but I still deeply enjoy it).

Am I just trying to escape my family? Hiding myself away with the iPad, and maybe sneaking a few extra moments to hang some clean laundry while I'm alone in the closet anyway?

No. I am taking my requisite time to myself before I start the day. I am having a retreat.

Runkel:

"Let’s look at the difference between an escape and a retreat. In the context of relationships, an escape is a purely selfish act. An escape is an unplanned action. It is often unintentional, and it is always done in haste. When you are attempting to escape from a situation, all you know is what you are running from—you honestly don’t care to know what you’re running to or why you’re doing so. An escape is based on the need for self-preservation, and it hardly ever involves a plan of return. At its heart, an escape is simply another form of screaming. It is an anxiety-driven reaction, and it carries all the seeds for creating the very types of relationships we’re hoping to avoid.

"A retreat, however, is quite a different animal altogether. Retreats are intentional breaks from the action with the specific intent of regrouping and returning. In taking a retreat, you know where you are going and you know why you are going. You are retreating in order to benefit others as well as yourself. Retreats are a way to focus on yourself in order to become the best you imaginable. If you think this sounds selfish, consider this: Every great religious leader in history spent a significant amount of time in retreat before and/or during his or her service to the world. Consider Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Paul, Muhammad, Gandhi, Mother Teresa. I’d venture a guess that not one of these figures was ever called selfish. Heretical, yes. But never selfish.

He continues:

"Here’s how escape and retreat are related: The fewer intentional retreats we take for ourselves, the more we will find ourselves unintentionally finding ways to escape. If we’re not diligent in carving out retreats for ourselves in the form of healthy activities, we are sure to find an escape somewhere. Escapes for you may include obvious bad habits, such as smoking, overeating, or drinking to excess. You may find yourself getting completely lost in pornography, or romance novels, or fantasy lit. Or you may mentally or even physically 'check out' of your family’s life, pursuing an affair or just running away.

"One way to lessen the likelihood of this desire to escape is to plan intentional retreats for yourself. Exercise, pamper yourself with a manicure, learn to play a musical instrument, meditate, seek personal growth. Pursue profoundly deep relationships with friends outside of your family. Take your spirituality to new heights, leaning on a higher power to provide you all the validation you need as a human being."

I felt so validated reading that! THAT was what I was doing! I finally had permission - and from a parenting book no less. My morning routine is my retreat (though I do love my young adult romance novels). That is my chance to love myself, so that I am more prepared to go out and love my family.

More Runkel:

"You may be asking yourself 'Who has the time?' You don’t. That’s just more evidence of the problem. You must create the time by choosing to put on your own oxygen mask first.

"It is in the fabric of our culture, and it has been handed down to us generation after generation, that it is far better to deny ourselves, even hate ourselves, than it is to openly love ourselves first. ... In an amazingly confessional interview near the end of his life, baseball great Mickey Mantle made a touching realization. In reflecting on his broken body and disintegrated relationships (especially as a father), the mighty Mick sighed, 'If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.'

"How we live today determines so much of how we will live tomorrow. And how we live today and tomorrow determines so much about our relationships with our children.

"I want you to think of it this way: What has to last is what has to come first. YOUR HEALTH. A broken body makes it extremely difficult to provide for and protect your children. Your health is not an 'extra” in your life, it is your first responsibility.'"
[All quotes from ScreamFree Parenting, Hal Runkel, 131-134]

There you have it. Love yourself so that you can truly be there for everyone else. In the last ten months (only two more to go!), I have carved out that time for myself that now feels hallowed. That time (and the use of endorphins) has allowed my to feel a deep sense of contentedness, well-being, and control. It gives me the ability to smile at my children like I mean it, to kiss and cuddle them, and to say yes to requests that are going to take more energy than I really want to spare. By putting myself first for that one hour, I gain the emotional strength to tackle the rest of the day.

Please learn how to love yourself. That love will pour out and uplift others around you.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September

My calendar says I'm due for an update! Here it is:

Why can't I forget about losing weight? Because I spent a decade thinking it was true. I spent all of high school telling myself to lose weight. I spent all of college telling myself the same. I even spent all of middle school saying this to myself. Was this ever true? Sure, a small fraction of the time. Barely. Is it true now?

No.

I'm quite happy with how I look and feel. I might need a better haircut, but I have definition in my shoulders, thighs, and calves. Sure, I still have that little pooch of stomach fat. Does it really matter? I have some pretty good muscle under there.

I'm still drawn to talk of weight loss. It entices me. Like I just can't get used to the fact that I'm fine where I am.

I'm healthy. I feel good. I look fine. The end.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Don't look at me!

As far as body image goes, I think I'm way more confident than I used to be. However, I have issue with the weight loss thing, and how people view me. I seriously keep panicking about the entire thing. Last April, a family member commented that I'd lost all the baby weight. I totally closed in on myself and could barely get a word out about it. This weekend, a different family member who we haven't seen since November asked me where I had put the rest of myself, because I'm so much smaller. I laughed it off and said that was my baby weight. Inside, I wanted to know whether she thought I'd looked bad before. 

Finally, after much thought, I realized I had a different problem. Sure, I thought I had gotten past caring what people think. But no, I still do. I don't want people to look at me. I just want to hide. I think I'm radiating much more confidence these days, and a bit of that is acting, and a bit is trying to shove off some of the realization that people are looking at me. I try to forget that my hair, when down, looks like Hermione's hair in the first Harry Potter movie - except there's random crimps in it all over; when up, there all sort of flyaway "bangs" from the hair regrowing my postpartum hair loss faze. I haven't gotten a hair cut in 10 months, and I need to, but it's not a priority.

It try to forget that my pants fit my middle weird. I try to forget that I'm not wearing makeup anymore, or that my shirt is stretched out from nursing or that, whoops!, my nipple is hanging out because my 13-month-old surprised me and took off during our session. And the snot on my shirt. And when did I bathe the kids last? Yes, that smell is coming from us, sorry.

Okay, maybe it's no wonder I don't want comments about my body. My point is, I need to let go. I need to stop caring. Why do I seize up so much about the weight issue when I'm not doing anything to change the rest? Sure, I accidentally dipped my hair in the smoothie, but comment on me losing weight and WHOA! Stop right there!

Okay, yeah. I've gotta work on this.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What I Eat

Today, I posted this on Facebook:

"This morning I put my belt on and found that the belt no longer had any holes that fit me. So I got my measuring tape out and discovered I lost yet another inch - I'm officially the smallest I've been since I was about 16. I'm still not weighing myself, but I have a pretty good idea of what this means..."

Here was the sequence of events this week:
Monday - I feel like my running pants might fall off during my run.
Tuesday - My wedding ring is getting too wiggly.
Wednesday - My shirt definitely needs to be put in the "too big" section of the closet.
And here we are at Friday and the above results. How do I feel about it? I'm flabbergasted, even though I know exactly what habits caused this to happen. What with running 3x per week (3 miles each), yoga 3x per week (30 minutes each), and retraining my body to recognize when it's had enough food (a.k.a., my appestat). 

Anyway, now that we've covered that... I've had a lot of requests to know what I eat and feed my family. Today a good friend of mine specifically requested I post a sample week on my blog so that she could share it with others she knows who have been interested.

This blog was created with the topic of body image in mind. However, at this point I feel that most of what I needed to work through has been accomplished. So... Why not dedicate a post to discussing specifically what I eat?

BREAKFAST:
We eat oatmeal every day. This takes variations. My husband does the same thing himself: he microwaves rolled oats with water, then mixes in ground flax, a little agave or Grade B maple syrup, and chooses a fruit to chop and top it with. My 3 year old eats similar. He's the only one of us who eats eggs with any regularity. Mornings are his chance to ask. Most of the time we don't have eggs in the house, and even when we do he doesn't always ask.

As for me, I do the same oatmeal as my husband quite frequently, except sometimes I top mine with slices almonds, and I skip the agave and do three pieces of fruit instead of one - I'm a breastfeeding mom, after all!

Sometimes I do steel cut oats instead. Sometimes I do overnight oat. Sometimes I make almond milk and use this with rolled oats, treating them just like boxed cereal.

My version of almond milk:
Soak a big bag of almond overnight. Drain and freeze in a Ziploc bag. When making fresh milk - use 1/2 cup soaked frozen almonds with 4 cups warm/hot water, plus 1 tsp vanilla. Blend on high in a high-speed blender. I don't strain it, but most people do.

On the rare occasion, I make pancakes:
 


LUNCH:
After a few years of marriage, we figured out what worked the best in terms of lunches was for me to cook dinner for four so that we could eat leftovers for lunch the next day. We keep an ongoing list of what pre-made food we have in the fridge, and it goes in order so that we know what food is oldest and should take priority in getting eaten up.

DINNER:
I have two moods that I go through when I cook: the recipe mood, and the wing-it mood. With practice, my winging it has improved.

Here's what we ate for dinner in the last week:
Saturday - Potato salad and Tomato salad - bot were the wing-it sort of meals. However, they turned out so good that I wrote down what I did.


You'll notice the word "Veganaise" in the ingredients. I bought a jar of this six or so months ago, and it was still good. I had no tahini and no avocado on had, and really felt like making the potato salad creamy (which isn't always necessary in my mind). So I used this. It is a processed food free of additives, however it does include oil, which I almost never consume. We really enjoyed the potato salad, but it upset my digestive system a little, and messed with my ability to stop when full because of the lovely fat molecules.

Sunday - A tomato and parsley dish served with lentils and brown rice. The tomatoes were dry-sauteed with garlic, and the parsley was mixed in last. For some reason in the last year, my husband has come to believe that lentils are synonymous with sauerkraut (we use Bubbie's from the whole food store because it has live cultures), so we also had that.

Monday - Jungle Curry:

(roughly triple produce)
2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 green onions (sliced, reserve some dark green parts)
pinch red pepper flakes
1+ cup veg broth
1 bell pepper (seeded, sliced)
1 cup green beans (trimmed, 2-inch long)
1 sweet potato (sliced thin) or carrots
Sauce, in high speed blender:
1/4-1/3 cup soaked almonds
2 cups water
1-2 tsp yellow curry powder (or red curry paste)
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp agave
1/2 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Saute garlic, green onion and red pepper flakes in broth for a few minutes. Add peppers, green beans and sweet potato, and more broth as needed. Cook until fork tender. Meanwhile, blend all sauce ingredients on high. Pour over veggies and simmer until tender, and potato starch has thickened the curry sauce. 

Austin said it might be good with jalepeno instead of red pepper flakes.
My own variation of recipe from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean (I don't actually own this book, the author recently gave this recipe away for free on Facebook)

A note on ketchup: I use a "clean" brand; I prefer the kind sweetened with agave.




Tuesday: Mushroom Risotto. I'll give you the link. It was okay. I added spinach. In general, risotto takes too long for me to get very excited about it.
http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2015/08/04/mushroom-risotto/

Wednesday: Broccoli stir-fry and baked sweet potatoes. I dry-sauteed the broccoli (I have a non-stick pan) and added this sauce towards the end:
http://nutritionstudies.org/recipes/sauce/date-and-soy-stir-fry-sauce/

Funny about the sauce though - I only chose that particular sauce because I had date frosting (i.e., dates blended on high with water until proper consistency is reached) to use up. Isaac loves date frosting, but I think everyone's feeling a little done with dates around here lately, so no one was eating it. Anyway, I just added the frosting in addition to the other ingredients to a mason jar, gave it a good shake, and poured it in with the broccoli.

Thursday: Corn on the cob, cauliflower stir-fried with tomatoes and jalepenos, and leftover lentils.

Friday:
"I didn't realize I was craving brown rice until I saw it." -This is what my husband said as he started chowing into his second serving. By the way, these were huge plates. All our other plates were in the dishwasher:

This was a hodge-podge of things that needed to be eaten up, combined with things that we have in plentitude: onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, olives, and spinach. I know, very random. It turned out very tasty though, surprisingly.

The sauce recipe I used was from this, though you might not be able to read it:


Here's a close-up of the sauce part. Um, I took my leftover stir-fry sauce from two nights ago and added the vinegar and ketchup. . . It truly turned out fantastic, and now there is absolutely nothing else that needs to be used up!


So, that's our last week of dinners at a glance. Roughly once a month, this will also happen:


Those are Native Fries, from Native Foods, which is a 100% plant-based restaurant. I took the boys here a few weeks ago. My eldest ate fries, I ate salad, and my baby ate both (though I had brought freeze-dried mango so that he wouldn't get too attached to the fries; he ended up only having four fries, which I felt was success). The salad was way too greasy. Their dressings always sound good, but they are never worth the yucky feeling in my stomach afterwards. I need to remember to ask them for no dressing, and then get some balsamic vinegar instead.

My eldest son does not usually eat what we eat at dinner. The starch tends to be the only sell for him. He loves brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. If he does not want what I make, he has two other options: fresh fruit, or a can of beans. These are both options that he loves, and means I'm not cooking a second dinner.

SNACKS:
Snacks for the kiddos and me include the following:

Smoothies:


Ice cream - roughly four or five bananas, a little honey, a little vanilla, and then whatever flavor or color additions that my eldest requests. Here we have "pink" ice cream:



(a.k.a., triple berry)



And "green" ice cream (a.k.a., peas). It's important to use honey as the sweetener of choice here, because it lends flexibility to the ice cream when refreezing.

Fresh fruit:





Fruit is always the most ideal snack because it's tasty (obviously) and convenient. It takes little to no preparation. We go through around three bunches of bananas a week, and a couple Costco boxes worth of other fruit (though this isn't always the fruit's origin).

We will also occasionally make a "treat." Yesterday we made carrot muffins:
http://happyherbivore.com/recipe/the-famous-carrot-cake-cupcakes/

I added less sugar (coconut sugar), used oat and einkorn flour instead (I have a modern wheat sensitivity), and didn't do any frosting or glaze.

EVENING:
This has been a tough one. I have gone through many habits here, but have finally settled into eating fruit as my evening treat. It took a while for this to truly feel like a "treat," but now it does. My go-to evening fruit treat is melon. When I eat melon alone, I just cut it in half and use a grapefruit spoon, no matter the type of melon. It's so much easier than when I have to cut it up for the kids, and thereby I enjoy it more. All the other fruits I can easily eat throughout the day, and so melon has been my favorite in the evening.

SPECIAL OCCASIONS:

Baby's 1st birthday were banana blueberry muffins:

http://lowfatveganchef.com/fat-free-vegan-whole-wheat-banana-blueberry-muffins/

As always, I subbed the flours - this time I used einkorn combined with almond, which made it taste practically like wedding cake :o

This was my birthday cake:


It was utterly delicious, and meant I didn't have to do baking only two days after my baby's birthday. Fruit = convenience, remember? ;)

OTHER STUFF:
Since moving to our newest home, a lot of our produce has come from a local provider who sells the items in bulk. This makes it extremely cheap to eat the way we eat, as long as we're doing it seasonally. When you eat plants all the time, you can handle buying 20-40 pounds of the same thing all at once.

This was my dill for the year. I froze most of it:




























There are several things I do each week that carry through for most of the week. This week, I batch-baked sweet potatoes twice. We have 40 pounds of them from our produce guy, and they go like hot-cakes around here. One night this week, my husband opened the door of the fridge and was disappointed to discover the pre-cooked sweet potatoes had been eaten up. I made more the next day.

I also made some delicious pickles:
http://www.vega-licious.com/easy-dill-pickle-recipe-no-sugar/
The first time I made them, almost the entire jar was devoured by the four of us within one meal. Yes, both kids loved them!

A note on our plant-based status:
We are not 100% plant-based. We're about 98%. My husband and eldest son occasionally have a dab of butter. My baby and I are dairy-free, but both my husband and I eat chicken, fish, or eggs a few times a month. Like I mentioned in the breakfast section, my 3 year old eats eggs with semi-regularity, but animal foods still make up less than 10% of his diet.

Through my own study, I have determined that eating animal foods is okay within that 10% confinement. If you eat at least 90% of your diet as whole plant foods, you should be able to have all the benefits of full health.

When we began this journey, my husband really couldn't afford to lose any weight. I proceeded with our diet change anyway, feeling his health would benefit in too many other ways to be concerned about his weight. He lost about five pounds at the beginning, two years ago. This was a real stress point for me, but he's maintained ever since, and his appetite is actually growing now, he's begun craving real food for the first time in his life, whereas before it used to be a chore, even if it was a treat like pizza or ice cream.

There might be more I missed, and I know this post probably could have been done better - there was so much to say! - but I think you've gotten the gist. Below are some resources you might like:

Websites:
forksoverknives.com (also check out the documentary)
straightupfood.com (recipes)
nutritionstudies.org
happyherbivore.com
vega-licious.com
discoveringthewordofwisdom.com

Books:
The China Study
Healthy at 100
Super Immunity
Disease-Proof Your Child
Discovering the Word of Wisdom
Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition