Why Cheating Really Isn’t Worth It.

stuffed animals from childhood, nostalgia

Here are two of my favorite stuffed animals from my childhood.  People who know me really well know that I’ve never outgrown my deep affinity for stuffed toys, and my closest inner circle (and now all of you) knows that sometimes, I still make sure they’re sitting upright and don’t get buried under things lest they smother or feel like I don’t care about them anymore.

I read one of those “tug-at-your-heartstrings” stories this week, imagining Calvin and Hobbes as old men, and I haven’t been able to get over how sad it’s made me. People laugh or roll their eyes when I tell them that I refuse to see chick flicks, or sappy/sad movies, but the problem is that, for most people, they can watch the movie and have a good cathartic cry and then move on.  For me, I’ll be sad about it for weeks and will internalize it into getting sadder and sadder about something that’s going on in my own life. Naturally, I’m a little pissed at myself for reading the story, but the damage has been done, and now I’m struggling with the aftermath.

Here’s the other thing; when I took control of my health last May, I discovered through process of elimination that gluten affects my mental health in a negative way.  During my first foray with gluten-free eating, my depression/anxiety cleared up drastically within the first week, and I continued to feel fantastic until I started to slack off and allow myself some “cheats.”  I know that some people think that cheating on a food lifestyle here and there is okay, and for the most part, I’d agree.  However, here’s why it just doesn’t work for me:

  1. It’s never just “one” cheat.  If I was able to just have some gluten on the *very* rare occasion, then I’d probably be okay, but my problem is that ONE special occasion then brings out my all-or-nothing mentality (well, you’ve already cheated once today…might as well take the rest of the day/weekend/month off and pick back up again afterward).
  2. The payout is rarely worth it.  Now, I’m not talking about some once-in-a-lifetime trip or something like that.  I’m talking about the “plate-of-spaghetti because it’s Valentine’s Day” or the “big hunk of birthday cake because you’re are a party” type of cheats.  Is it really worth it to feel bad the next day over something that wasn’t really a dynamic experience?
  3. You’re only cheating on yourself.  I thought about this the other day when I was getting ready for bed and really didn’t want to floss my teeth (I know…lazy me).  I was going to let it go for the night, and then it hit me that the only one who’s going to suffer the consequences of that decision is me.  I’m the one who may end up with a cavity, and it would be a result of my decision.  Why is it that we mostly worry about how our decisions will impact others, but never seem to really consider how they will affect us?

My dad is a diabetic with heart problems; he can’t afford to “cheat” on his food lifestyle.  A “cheat” will result in atherosclerosis, kidney problems, diabetic neuropathy, and worse.  And he lives with that reality.  If I have too much gluten, I get anxious and sad and life becomes (even more) overwhelming and daunting.  That’s a reality I have to live with.  It’s not even about weight (although losing weight has been an excellent result of cutting the gluten/most grains); it’s about deciding whether a food is worth compromising my mental health.

The answer to that question, friends, is “usually not.”

I’m not trying to tell you to restrict your diet or engage in unhealthy food behavior; on the contrary: I’m suggesting that you think more deeply about the ramifications (both short and long-term) of your choices (food and otherwise).

I Just Binge-Watched “My Big, Fat, Fabulous Life,” and I Have Some Thoughts About It.

Today is Presidents’ Day, and thus far I’ve spent most of my day doing yarn-related things. I de-cluttered part of my stash, rolling loose skeins into balls, ripping half-done projects that would never be finished, cutting and tossing what couldn’t be ripped or was knotted and wasn’t worth de-tangling.  I also worked on a hat:

knitting, knit hat, dpns, wip, wool

For the record, a toilet paper tube is great for winding yarn into a ball. I’m not ashamed.

Fat Fabulous Life

I heard about My Big Fat, Fabulous Life a few weeks ago and to be honest, it wouldn’t have piqued my interest at all had her angle not resonated with me. Whitney Thore has PCOS and says that it led her to gain over 100 pounds during her college years (and another hundred since then).  I can relate; I put on 80 pounds over the course of three years, which sounds like a long time when I see it in print, but seemed to have happened in the blink of an eye.  And, just as with Whitney, it’s been ridiculously difficult to consistently lose weight.

mel over the years

(Above, top row, left to right: 2001, 2008, 2006, bottom row, 2011, 2013, 2014)

I can relate to her feeling of relief to finally have that diagnosis.  Yep, it sucks to have PCOS, but it helped to know that there is a legitimate medical issue and my weight gain is not just because I’m a lazy pig (here’s a Mayo Clinic article about what PCOS is, because I don’t want to butcher the science).  I’d say that knowing is half the battle, but that’s a load of crap since I was diagnosed in 2011 and gained another 50 between then and when I finally managed to take control of my health last May.

I can relate to feeling like you’re being stared at when you’re eating at a restaurant and you have something other than say, a salad or some desperately sad piece of chicken and steamed broccoli.  Feeling like people are laughing at you when you’re out running (as if fat people shouldn’t be exercising).  Never wanting to wear a swimsuit or go to a pool or the beach ever again.  Feeling invisible when you hear people talk about women who are “beautiful.”  I remember how much I struggled at the Monkees Convention knowing that my one and only chance to meet my idols was going to be as this fat, monstrous version of myself, and that amazing moment in my life was going to be forever immortalized in film with me at the biggest size I’d ever been.  It was depressing.  So, while I’m nowhere near 380 pounds like her, I know the pain and self-loathing.

I can even get behind her message of embracing who you are at the moment and recognizing that you can’t put your life on hold and wait to have meaningful moments until you’re “thin” or “fit.” If I’d done that, I never would have met the Monkees.  I sing at church fairly often and our services are televised; I’d never do that if I waited until I was “pretty enough” to be on tv.  I fully believe that we need to make the most of each day, since we don’t know that we’ll have tomorrow.

There were a couple of things about her story that didn’t sit well with me, though, and so I DVRed all 10 episodes of the first season and have been watching them in chunks (usually whenever Joey is out or otherwise occupied since he finds her personality grating and the entire concept of the show annoying).  I’d just intended to watch two or three episodes to get a better grasp on my feelings about the show, but (as Joey feared), I found her story compelling enough that I watched the entire series.  I finished it up today with the season finale and, quite honestly, it disturbed me.

It all boils down to personal responsibility for me.  I think that, too often, Whitney gives herself a pass on her current condition because of her diagnosis.  PCOS definitely makes weight gain easy and weight loss difficult, but ultimately, much of our health condition depends on our own decisions.  I recognize that her case must be different (or more severe) than mine; I didn’t gain 100 pounds in a year, and I’m not 250 pounds overweight. However, I also recognize that my extra 80 pounds resulted from my own lack of discipline.  We can’t use our diagnoses to give ourselves a pass on making good decisions.  She casually mentions that she is partly responsible for her weight gain, but there’s no real visible recognition of that or focus on making better food decisions (on the contrary; she gets irritated at her father when he suggests that she have an egg sandwich on wheat bread rather than a banana and mayo sandwich on white bread).  While she does focus on dancing to get back in shape, which is laudable, physicians indicate that weight is lost in the kitchen, not the gym, and her few weigh-ins during the course of the season bear this out for her as she doesn’t appear to have much success.

At the end of the Season Finale, Whitney learns that she’s been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which should be surprising to no one.  What really gets to me, though, is the response she and her parents have.  Thus far in the episode, she’s house-shopping with her best friend/future roommate, but when she gets the letter with the lab results, her parents encourage her NOT to move out on her own so she can get her health in order. She’s 30 years old.  Thirty. Years. Old.  She doesn’t have diabetes; she’s got pre-diabetes, which means that her fasting glucose is over 100 and her a1c is outside the rate for a regular non-diabetic, but not high enough to officially diagnose her with diabetes (more about prediabetes here). Dietary changes can usually control and/or reverse the problem.  And a responsible adult would look at the situation, recognize that it sucks but that s/he is squarely responsible, and make plans to fix it/mitigate the damage.  But stay home with Mom and Dad just because you almost have diabetes??  That’s not a viable answer.  That’s not a mature decision.  How can you expect to succeed in taking control of your health if you believe that continuing to depend on your parents to take care of you is the proper response to being almost-diabetic?  Even if the whole situation was orchestrated for television (which certainly could be the case), it still promotes the behavior that leads to unnecessary dependence.

It irritates me on two levels; first, I’ve got a similar diagnosis.  I have impaired fasting glucose (which goes hand-in-hand with PCOS).  And, while I don’t always feel like a functional adult, I do know that I need to make good food choices (for me, avoiding carbs and gluten) to control the problem and keep it from becoming diabetes.  Somehow, I continue to manage working a full-time job, being actively involved in church, and being a wife while trying to get a handle on my health.  At thirty years old, she should be able to do the same.  Second, I think this is part of a larger societal problem of not taking responsibility for one’s own situation. Where on earth have we gone as a society that moving back in with one’s parents is the solution for a relatively minor (in the vast medical spectrum) diagnosis rather than making a plan and taking control of his/her health condition?  What happens in twenty years when Mom and Dad are in a home, or even worse, have passed away?  How are people going to cope when they haven’t learned the basic skills of self-sufficiency and the concept of personal responsibility?

Once I finally decided to take control of my health, I started seeing success.  I’ve lost 35 pounds by eating low-carb and gluten free, and I’m (mostly) successfully training for a 5K at the end of March.  I’m not going to “settle” for life as-it-is, and I consider every poor decision I make a victory for PCOS.  It’s a battle, and it’s fought and won by choices.

Time For a Little Cleanse…

Several of my friends are doing some type of detox where they drink a gallon of dandelion tea (with a few other things mixed in) a day and eat paleo for a week.  I was interested, but when I searched dandelion tea to see if it has any drug interactions, I discovered that it would decrease the effectiveness of my anti-anxiety med because it changes the way things are metabolized in the liver.  It’s really important to pay attention to those types of things, folks.  Every time I try a new supplement or herbal remedy, I always check out any possible interactions with my prescription meds; I highly recommend that you do the same.

Anyway, I was bummed about not being able to participate in that detox; I know that the whole “cleanse” concept is largely a fad, but sometimes a “hard reset” can be helpful in jump-starting new habits and breaking through weight-loss plateaus. And I’m solidly in the middle of a plateau, and it sucks.

I decided earlier today that I’d do my own “Real Food Reset” and ratchet things down a bit for the next week or two so I can bust through the plateau and start feeling better.  There’s no crazy or unhealthy restrictions; I’m just going to focus on eating real, whole food and cutting out the extra stuff that’s making me feel bad.  Here are my parameters:

  1. No grains at all.
  2. No sugar (including honey and, for the most part, fruit).
  3. Minimal Dairy (I’m still going to do cream in my coffee and a *very* small amount of cheese).
  4. LOTS of veggies.
  5. Plenty of Healthy Fats (avocados, olives, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, etc).
  6. Drink 3 Liters of water a day.

One of the problems with going low-carb is that cheese becomes the go-to snack; hungry?  Have a string cheese.  Or a Babybel.  Looking for a sweet breakfast?  Ricotta with vanilla extract and stevia.  Also, cheese is my favorite food in the entire world.  I’m certainly not planning to give it up forever, but I do need a break for a bit so I’m not quite so dependent.

Tonight, we made some delicious chicken/veggie soup; I’ll write up the recipe and post it later.

cleanse, real food, simple soup, detox

Also, I’m not a doctor, blahblahblah; I don’t even play one on tv.  I’m a rational, educated human being who is capable of doing research and creating a reasonable diet plan, and you absolutely shouldn’t do anything regarding any detox or cleanse just because I’ve decided to tidy up my eating.  I’m a Libertarian; do your own research, make your own decisions, and leave me out of it ;).

Wordless Wednesday to come tomorrow.  Work has been extremely stressful, so I’m hoping it’ll be a quiet enough day that I can notice and capture the small beauties that we often overlook.

Like coffee in a delicate mug with a kitten perched atop.

coffee mug, kitten

It’s the little things.

Chocolate Protein Pancakes!!

image

I’ve been craving sweets lately (which sucks when you’re avoiding carbs, since everything sweet is carb-laden). Liquid stevia has become my best friend; we get it at Trader Joe’s, and one bottle will last both of us a couple of months.

I’m also prone to “food tantrums” (where nothing sounds good or what does sound good is an irresponsible choice). They used to be terrible and resulted in plenty of fights between Joey and me. I’m much better now (probably from a combination of being older and wiser and having some great medication), but I’m still prone to getting frustrated when I don’t know what I want or want something I can’t have.

Anyway, this morning, I was in desperate need of some pancakes. We’d already tried protein pancakes a few days ago, but Joey wanted to try making a chocolate version.  I looked over a few recipes out in the blogosphere, but I didn’t follow anything close enough to reference, so this is mostly a result of trial-and-error.

Makes 6 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2.5 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop of Protein powder (We used MHP Paleo Protein in Vanilla Almond flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5-7 drops liquid stevia
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (start with a quarter cup and increase as needed)
  • butter (to grease the pan)

Directions:

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat
  2. Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  3. Whisk until thoroughly blended and lump-free
  4. Use butter to grease non-stick skillet or griddle
  5. Pour batter onto skillet (we cooked them three at a time based on our skillet size)
  6. Cook on first side until you begin to see the bubbles on the surface of the pancake pop without re-forming.
  7. Flip and cook until done throughout

This recipe makes six pancakes that are about 3″ in diameter.

We had ours topped with peanut butter. They’re also good with freshly whipped heavy cream and/or sugar free syrup! To make them without the chocolate flavor, just omit the cocoa powder and increase the coconut flour by 1/2 tbsp.

Enjoy. Today, we’ve conquered the bedroom closet.  Another two garbage bags full of clothes off to Goodwill, and we were able to whittle the contents of a very large closet down to this:

clothesTonight, we’ve got a huge bag of our socks to match up and put away (or toss).  We’re getting there, little by little.

Conquering the “Stuff”

junk pile

I know.  I’m ashamed of it.  But it’s mostly gone now.  This was on my dresser.  Then it became “on my bed,” which was fortuitous because it forced me to go through it, lest I relegate myself (and the husband.  and the cat) onto the couch for the night.  This huge pile birthed two trash bags full of Goodwill donations, one of actual trash, and one of clothes to keep.  I may have also located three grocery bags worth of yarn (with many half-completed projects).  I wish I could show you a clean dresser, but we’re not quite there yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  We’ll see.

I had two things that I wanted to accomplish yesterday, and I managed both of them.  The first, pictured above, and the second was to make soup.  Joey ended up taking my instruction and making the soup himself while I sat on my bed and alternated between crying and tearing my hair out by the roots.  The soup, alas, was a fail; it’s a passable broccoli cheese soup, but desperately needs some meat and something else that I haven’t figured out yet.  It also looks a little like baby vomit, so I’ll spare you a photo.

Tonight, however, was an incredible dinner win!  I found this recipe for Carne Asada on Pinterest a few days ago, and skirt steak was on sale at Aldi Sunday, so we went ahead and grabbed the rest of the ingredients and set up the crock pot this morning.

flank steak

It’s beautiful, right?  The paste on top is a mix of garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro.  In retrospect, I would’ve added the juice and zest of one lime; it needed a little tang.  Either way, it will definitely be joining the Weaver dinner rotation.  The finished product:

cooked asada

We added some steamed broccoli and ate it off my super-fancy Corelle dishes which made me feel a tiny bit like I may be succeeding at being a functional adult.

I get overwhelmed easily these days, so I’m trying to break this de-cluttering process into very small, manageable chunks. And to be entirely honest, I thought the dresser would only take one night, so I was disappointed in myself when I came to the realization after three hours that, even though the big items were handled, I’ve got tons of “little things” to still go through: cds, ear buds, lip gloss, jewelry, a thousand hair clips, pens, buttons; you know, the usual little things that most people eventually throw away.  Except I didn’t.  For, like, three years.  I used to see a therapist, and I told her many times that I just wanted to conquer the dresser.

I’m not done yet, but yesterday, I conquered the dresser.

(I’m Not Doing) Emotional Eating…

image

I’ve had some life circumstances over the last two days that have left me with an intense desire to eat away my unsettled feelings. It’s funny how that urge becomes second nature over time…I can only remember a handful of times when I was too stressed to be hungry, and they were huge life events…like, breaking up with the guy I was positive I was going to marry for the guy I barely knew (that one worked out!) or like, dad’s in the cardiac ICU and we don’t know if he’s coming back out (that one worked out okay too…both times). Like clockwork, when the emotion surfaced yesterday, my first instinct was to want Chinese takeout.

I did something different this time, though. I said to Joey, “I feel like emotional eating.” And, to his credit (and with much bravery), he reminded me that I’d come too far too do that. It took a lot of courage on his part to say that…he’s got eleven years of my ripping his face off over food-related discussions as a frame of reference. I’m glad he said it, though…I had an apple and some peanut butter and went on to have an excellent evening with friends.

I need to learn to compartmentalize some things, namely work. I’m definitely not bitching about my job….I like my company and my manager, but I’m really bad about identifying myself too much by what I do for a living and not being able to roll with the punches. Because of that, I tend to internalize anything that happens whether or not it’s something that’s within my control. At least this time I didn’t fling myself face-first into a plate of General Tso’s chicken 😉

I found this on Pinterest; it has grammar issues, but the info is sound.

image

Grillin’ Out and Walking This Way…

I was thinking of the Aerosmith song and not Monty Python. I was also thinking that we have a really long hike to the bathroom in our new office digs. I used my pedometer yesterday and it’s a 0.07 mile round trip, so I could get an entire mile in if I make fourteen bathroom trips in a day. Unfortunately, that would both impair my efficiency and make people think I have a serious problem, so I think I’ll have to take the loss on that one.

I’ve gotten a couple of requests from friends who are interested in my weight loss/general health success to know what I’m eating, so I’m going to document tomorrow and post everything Thursday. I would today, but we’re low on groceries, so today isn’t very pretty. I’m working on a larger post about the gluten free thing, but I will go ahead and tell you that I’ve lost TWENTY POUNDS. I’ve experienced a host of other improvements, but I want to devote an entire post to that topic, so suffice it to say that gluten free is definitely for me!

We’ve been cooking outside a good bit lately…our air conditioner is on its last legs, so we’re trying to avoid heating the house any more than necessary. Plus, we can keep Indy outside and wear her out some so she’s not quite such a terrorist in the house. Last week, we did some pretty righteous burgers and grilled corn…

image

We used the Udi’s gluten free buns…they were extremely dense. It was nice to have something that resembled a traditional cheeseburger, but I’m not sure it was worth it, so I don’t know that we’ll bother with buns when it’s just us eating at home.

Yesterday, we made sausage with cabbage and onions (German food!)…no specific recipe. We bought some turkey sausage links at Aldi, so we sauteed those with onions in butter and then added a bag of shredded cabbage and cooked it all down until the cabbage was tender. We used a half cup or so of chicken stock to deglaze the pan and enjoyed it al fresco while watching the puppy get stuck in the bushes and pee in the yard.

image

image

It ain’t pretty, but it was good. The after-effects? Not quite as good.

Also, yesterday was Shelli’s seventh adoptiversary. I can’t believe it’s been seven years. I still love her so much that it hurts. She’ll always be my first child. Joey got her a pressed catnip cigar, and she totally cracked out on it for half an hour or so until she decided that Indy’s toys were more interesting.

image

I’ve started getting the itch to knit again…I’m lusting over yarn and project photos on my favorite knitting blogs. It’s time to pull something out to work on. I have a scarf that I started in March…I think I’ll finish that up and (finally) learn how to block. I’m also slowly working myself up to being brave enough to try socks.

I know. I’m a rebel.