first world problems

There are many reasons why I am overweight and we've talked about a lot of them here already.  It's amazing to me that the more I learn the more there is to learn about this issue (although that's true of everything else in life so why wouldn't it be here?).  I suppose it should be validating that the reason this challenge is so daunting is that it is so complex. Sure, the simplest way to lose weight is to ingest fewer calories than you burn... easy enough.  Behavior modification is where it gets a little more complicated.  There are endless resources on behavioral modification, some simple, some complex, all dependent on one main thing to be successful... a willing human.  And that willingness must persist beyond the initial burst of motivated energy to do something new, through the painful symptoms of withdrawal, over the hills of remaining intentional, around temptations, and beyond moments of pure laziness.

I am willing now, and I have been willing before, but what I have yet to experience is the persistence of that willingness.  I have had two periods in my life of extended positive food habits; the first when I was pregnant with spiderman (I craved fruits and veggies, was made ill by even the smell of fried foods, and could only drink water) and the second when after splitting from my husband (the first time... a few years ago) my anxiety kept me from eating much and when I did eat the only thing I ate was fruits and veggies.  Case 1: Eventually I gave birth, became desensitized again to the aversions that pregnancy brought and packed on the pounds.  Case 2: I continued healthy, intentional eating for months (basically the entire time we were split and for a few months afterward--so about a year) and it just faded away.  We can analyze why later.

One thing I can say for certain is that I felt better during those two periods of my life than any other: besides having a healthy, strong body I was naturally carefree, laid back, relaxed... and more words I wouldn't typically use to describe myself.  I want that back.  So, here we go again!

I have committed to Dr. Fuhrman's Holiday Challenge and starting on Monday, November 21, 2011 I will do the following every day:
1. eat a large salad (about 1lb)

2. eat a large serving of steamed green vegetables with mushrooms and onions (about 1lb)

3. satisfy my sweet tooth with three fruits a day

4. have at least one fulfilling serving of beans a day

5. avoid white flour

6. avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners

7. use oils sparingly

and finally I have promised that:
I will not allow peer pressure or tempting toxic foods to derail me from my health goals.
I will not compromise my health to please others.
I will set an example of health-mindedness for those around me.

You can commit to the same/make the promise here at Dr. Fuhrman's site.  It's free (make sure you cancel your membership at the 6 week mark if you want it to remain free).  Now, it doesn't say so anywhere (that I noticed) on the Fuhrman site, but I'm interpreting this as a completely vegan 6 weeks.  The commitments are essentially the instructions of the "Eat to Live" plan and the point is that you are so full from the foods above that you don't have any room to eat animal products or starches.  I've wanted to do "Eat to Live" for a while.  I'm excited!

Now you may recall that last time I embarked on one of these journeys I had a last supper.  I'm going to skip that this time...  I'd be willing to bet that at least 30 of my extra pounds come from "last suppers" that never were or "weigh in day" binging.  Ultimately, I want to be able to indulge in moderation or "treat treats as treats" (thank you Michael Pollan & the illustrated version of "Food Rules")... but that's not working for me now.

Instead of a last supper I decided to start a new ritual.  I'm calling it "kitchen inventory."  Actually, I'm not calling it anything and that doesn't even seem clever, but it seemed necessary...

I know I have a TON of food in this house, yet I still go out for food or buy lunch at work because "there's no food in the house."  It's really that I am not inclined to cook or prepare when I am actually hungry so unless it is ready to eat, I'm not eating it.  Obviously I need to do some meal planning and cooking/portioning/storing to improve my success rate and in order to do that I need to know what I have.  Imagine my embarassment when I did my inventory to find that I have the following on hand:

and we're talking about cans and cans and bags and bags and jars and jars of this stuff.  Seriously.  I could feed a small village with what I have on hand for at least a week.  Wow.

So, my "food" envelope is empty (mostly due to some indulgences that I should have skipped.  lesson learned), but my cupboards are BEYOND full.  Better get to meal planning...  If you had all of this in your house, what would you make?


"It's only money"

When I was a freshman at UC Santa Barbara and living in the off campus dorms of Fountainbleu, my friend (let's call him) Pete was living in my bedroom back home. One day he called me in a panic because instead of backing his car out of the driveway he had driven it through the garage door crumpling it. I never saw the damage but it was an aluminum door which I suspect looked dramatically injured. As I tried to reassure him it would be fine and he wasn't believing me I struggled to find the words to truly convince him that my mom wouldn't be upset. Sure she was letting him live in my room and sure what he did was stupid but that just wasn't the way she looked at life. It wasn't until I talked to her myself and she said those magic words, "it's only money," that I had a way to sum it up.

Now she meant that compared to what could have happened, loss of life or limb, property damage wasn't that big of a deal. Lives couldn't be replaced, but more money would come. I admired her for her humanistic attitude and ability to let things be and I set out to value that myself. It's also worth noting that her finances were pretty solid; bills were paid on time, there was plenty for extras, and running her credit report would reveal gold stars accompanied by a trumpet serenade. As a young adult might I took the catch phrase a bit too literally and left the essence of the value behind.

I found myself saying "it's only money" often as I tried to buy the "love" of people around me with meals, gifts, and a refreshingly carefree attitude that the power of a wallet full of credit cards could buy. Over the next (let's see, it's been) 12 years (since then) I racked up tens of thousands of credit card debt on four separate occasions (first saved by a debt consolidation firm, then that same mother referenced before, once by good old fashioned cutting corners and paying it off, and finally through the grace of the US bankruptcy trustee). As I grew older the reasons for the spending grew more legitimate (including a sick, out of work spouse) but the spending (electronics, clothes, eating out) didn't.

Not lacking for knowledge, information, resources, or brain power it felt baffling to continue to get in this same trouble over and over again (same with why I continue to eat foods that make me feel terrible) and all I've come up with at this stage is that I simply have no respect for money (nor do I my body or self perhaps... hmm... another post at another time). It makes perfect sense it you look at the literal translation of the mantra. "It's only money," that's all. Nothing important. Nothing serious. Just money. Jeez, no wonder I behave this way, I ingrained it into my own beliefs! And people wonder why it's important for us to do some self examination... um because if we don't we run the risk of being much more foolish than we need to be.

So here I am; alone with my money (which is a bit more than half of what I had collectively with my husband just weeks ago and my expenses are only reduced by about 25%), and I don't have a new checking account (because it's a bank holiday and my timing isn't always great outside of making jokes), and I am generally terrified of cash (because of it's nasty habit of disappearing at super speed into the hands of cashiers) and I have to pay rent on a house on December 1st that is the same amount as my paycheck that will come a week before. Now I know I'm going to need money between the first and the tenth when the next check comes and I don't have the skills to just make that work. But what I do have... is a spreadsheet of my budget and envelopes.

So out come the envelopes and as if possessed by this logical, responsible force (in the form of a list because the blogosphere seems to appreciate that):
1. my hand starts to write the budget categories on the envelopes (one each) along with the total dollar amount of that budget item.
2. and I find myself sorting the envelopes into categories that represent the type of spending (need or want, consistent or variable, blah or blah)
3. and THEN suddenly I am putting money (generally half of the total monthly budget for that item since I get paid twice a month) into the envelopes and feeding the "need" envelopes first. And get this Suze Orman, I have an envelope labelled savings that I paid first!
4. and once I'm through savings, rent, utilities, child care, car payment, gas and auto insurance, and an uber-modest food and gas budget I realize that I have $11 left for my "other spending" envelope. Yep. $11 for clothes, eating out, buying a $400 blender without having get approval on the purchase from the co-holder of my accounts... AND I have a speeding ticket to pay so any of the above named "others" are going to be quite delayed...
5. I burst into tears (I also cried when my mom sent me slippers via zappos and offered a ride and to foot the bill for spiderman and I at a family birthday dinner celebration that I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. I've cried a fair bit this week.)
This is what I look like in the morning when I cry too close to bedtime and then don't wash my face.  Still kind of pretty right?  Say "yes."
6. and when I was done crying I put the food and gas envelopes in my wallet and the others in a super secret and secure location (that you'll never find so don't bother looking)
7. took a deep breath
8. started telling everyone who asked what they could do for me that they could buy me presents
9. and carried on.
10. AND I haven't spent a cent on anything since (2 days ago) And I know I'm going to need gas soon. And I'm terrified. Envelopes, don't let me down!

So what if I only have $22 a month of discretionary spending money... "it's only money."



I have received so much positive feedback in the last couple of weeks I think I may have been getting high off it. It hasn't slowed or stopped but my buzz is definitely wearing off. I woke up yesterday just feeling down for the first time since this whole ordeal started. I've woken up anxious, angry, devastated, and even excited so far but not low like this. I've been dealing with my intense emotions by letting them come through me (usually in the form of tears). On most occasions I was well on my way to recovering within 20 minutes with only a swollen red face to give away my previous distress.

I took an inventory yesterday morning that went something like this "hmmm... I'm feeling down today. Did something happen? Did something change?" initially I didn't identify anything that I perceived as causal. I was getting sleep, I was eating well enough, I wasn't facing any new challenges...

Oh wait, I know! My husband cheated on me and when I confronted him to tell him I couldn't tolerate it he made no attempt to fight for our marriage and willingly walked out the door--that explains it!

The unknowns of the last two weeks were so painful to tolerate that the relief that came with knowing was nearly blissful. Like any high, it wore off and here I am... I remain hopeful. I don't feel down on myself. I'm not afraid of what's next. I'm certain that I will live a happy life. But right now I am living with the reality that the person who was my partner in this life just three short weeks ago chose to walk away from that. And damn that hurts.


a blank slate

About an hour ago my husband left and he won't be coming back tonight because he doesn't live here anymore. He's not my husband anymore either (at least not emotionally). The last two weeks have brought tremendous upheaval along with an unfamiliar peace. I'm sure I'll share the story in detail eventually, but it isn't really important now. The essence of the situation is that he isn't in love with me anymore and is involved with someone else and although he believes that the two aren't related the circumstances of the events leading to the end of our marriage and the beginning of his relationship with her overlap enough that a major rule was broken. Namely the, don't be in a romantic relationship with someone besides your spouse, one.

So, he's gone and it's quiet here. Eerily yes, but not painfully. The peace is here agin and I guess it's not as unfamiliar as I claimed, maybe just unfamiliar in the circumstances. In the last few months I can say with confidence that I have been happy. I don't mean that I felt happy like I can also feel sad, mad, angry (and whatever the other of the typical American top 5 emotion vocabulary words are); I mean that I WAS happy. I AM happy. I can't say that about any other time in my life. I may have been. I probably was, but I can't recall any time in particular and I think most of my happiness thus far has been feeling not being.

I haven't been living a perfect life the last few months. I haven't experienced any great professional success or other recognition. I haven't come into money. I haven't started or ended any significant relationships. I am simply happy. I was happy with my marriage. I am happy to be a mom. I am happy to have found a balance between work and life that leaves me with plenty of emotional energy for life. I have aspirations and unrealized dreams but the absence of their realization is not effecting my happiness nor do I believe that realizing them will contribute to it. Nothing makes me happy or unhappy I simply am.

So when I was blindsided by the news that the love was gone and then further shocked to find that he wasn't looking for it and then completely flabbergasted by the affair... it was very strange ifor me to discover that I was still happy. I felt confused, heartbroken, devastated, betrayed (I think that's a thought, not a feeling--oops!), and on and on again but none of those feelings stopped me from being happy. I have come to know in just two short weeks that it is possible to be happy when terrible things are happening to me. Who knew?

The happiness I had two weeks ago was genuine, but there is something different about the happiness I hold as I walk forward. There are no limits to what I can do with my life now. I have no one to compromise with and no one to answer to. I am responsible only to myself and my son. I was happy when my slate was full and suddenly it is blank and I have plenty of chalk...

Where will happiness take me (or where will I take my happiness) next? This blog isn't going to be about juicing anymore, but it still will be about transformation. I will still make sweatpants look good and I'm driven to do so now more than ever before so my body can be on the happy train too.