Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Can't Lose Weight with a Messy Desk.

The Many Roles of Food

It's practically a one-man show! Food is the Star of my life--driving any others right off the stage. But it's time to turn the tables. It's time to yank the overblown blowsey actress with her hoarse ageing voice and dropped lines, time to give her a smaller, more dignified role and and start looking for better supporting players.

In Beyond Metabolism; Understanding Your Modern Diet Dilemma, Scott Abel suggests my goal shouldn't be to lose weight, necessarily, but, among other things, to make eating and food issues into non-issues. Food has two legitimate roles in our lives, he writes. The first is personal: it provides the body with nourishment for renewal and growth, and fuel for activities. The other is social: it offers opportunities for celebration and interaction with others.

If food is being used outside of these two roles, it is being used inappropriately. The thing to do is not diet, per se, but to discover what it is food is doing for you other than these two things--and find something else instead, something appropriate to take over from food. Hard to explain, but the cliched example is "eating to calm emotions." There's lots written about that--and it is fairly clear that something else, say exercise or meditation or prayer may be more appropriate responses to being upset.

I can certainly do a lot to reduce the inappropriate roles food plays in my life. But I don't know it is reasonable to assume that I can make food into a non-issue for the rest of my life. For example, no one would ever suggest to a recovering alcoholic that his or her goal should be for alcohol to become a non-issue. As far as I understand, it's always an issue. To say otherwise is to dangerously underestimate the power of the beast. So, too, in my case, perhaps.

Nonetheless, food plays an inappropriate role in many areas of my life. Let's see, I use food:

1) yes, as cliched as it is, to calm myself when I am upset--especially when I'm upset with my husband. It is inadvisable for me to speak with him when I am upset--I need to be calm in order for him to hear me. So, I'll use food to "buy some time" to calm myself. Plus, I really do think that some food just calms me down physiologically. This behaviour is new, by the way. I used to use cigarettes to do this in the past.

2) to reduce stress. I get so overwhelmed. I get anxious when I'm overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed a lot. I don't quite understand it. It seems I live at the threshold of being overwhelmed and the smallest things pile up and push me over.

3) to stay awake. My children have poor sleep hygiene. One can barely get to sleep at all, (and never before midnight) the other needs me to sit with her until she falls asleep. Every night. It can take a couple of hours, sometimes and often goes far past the time I want to be in her room rather than my own settling myself for sleep.

I have developed a habit of eating protein and carbs before bed--and often, a lot of it! My favourite for a while was an entire sleeve of crackers with cheese thinly sliced into perfect squares to fit on top of each one.

That's just off the top of my head. Perhaps that's enough to work on for the moment.

Auditions: Things to Try.

I need to fire food and hire something else to take on these roles. And, eventually, I need to re-write the play.

1) It is probably a good idea to find another way to calm myself when I'm upset with my husband (and my kids, and my mom, and anyone else for that matter!) Writing comes to mind. That's quite confrontational, though, and sometimes I'm not ready to process whatever is causing me to be upset. What I want is a better delay tactic. Is that a googlable phrase? "How do I delay responding when I am angry or upset?"

2) This is going to sound very weird, but I can reduce my feelings of being overwhelmed if I stay on top of my clutter. This is tough, though, as it often means I'm cleaning up after other people, too, and I find that that makes me angry.

Right now, I am overwhelmed by the fact that we are leaving for our annual camping trip in four or five days. When we get back, I have only a week to get my kids ready to leave on yet another camping trip: my son is leaving with his Scout troop to go to Newfoundland and my daughter is going to a Girl Guide camp in B.C. To say I am panicky is to put it mildly. You know what? I need to make lists. But first, I need to clear off my desk.

3) I have no clue how to keep myself awake. I need to figure it out, though, as tonight will be one of those nights. My daughter started summer vacation today: so she slept in. I have no idea how I am going to get to bed at a decent hour. I'll look things up on-line later.

Right now, I need to clean off my desk.

Just looking at it makes me want to hyperventilate.
Cue chocolate.
Helping Me Help Myself, by Beth Lisick.

So, it has been done.

Someone woke up one morning and decided to change her life. She'd consult the experts, write it up and sell a book.

It's a fast read. Lisick is compelling, but in the end, oddly dissatisfying. She gets off to a slow start questioning whether she has any faith at all in self-help gurus. Jack Canfield's book, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You are to Where You Want to Be convinces her to suspend her disbelief enough to get started.

In each chapter she decides on an area to "fix" consults a well-known expert and reads a book or attends a conference (or both). She has thoughts about their ideas, their personalities, their work. She writes about that--and it's interesting, thoughtful and quite often amusing.

But, except for two chapters, one on Morgenstern and organizing her house, the other about her four year old son and discipline, the thoughts do not seem to be translated into any sort of lasting, ongoing action. That's where, I think, this book falls short. It may simply be because her life is a bit too far from the mainstream, it may be because she really couldn't get over her skepticism (except, oddly, for the chapter on spiritual medium Sylvia Browne). I wanted to know more about the process of implementing the ideas and programmes of the self-change gurus. I wanted to know more about how it would be to change. And that's not here. Not overtly, anyway.

I recommend it, though, for anyone going on the journey of self-change. It's good to have company, no matter how quirky.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tuna Sandwich Filling

Original recipe courtesy of Micheal Smith at the Food Network

1 can water packed Tuna (170 g)**
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon minced celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried
salt and pepper

1. Flake tuna with fork and add lemon juice, mayo, mustard, onion, celery and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spread 1/2 mixture on a slice of whole wheat bread. Top with thin slices of cucumber or lettuce or both. Top with another slice of bread.


Calorie Count: 152 total or 76 per serving.

Based on the cans and jars used:
tuna: (Ocean's) 100 calories
mayo: (Hellman's light) 45
everything else (based on 7

**Greenpeace has rated Canadian brands of Tuna for sustainable fishing practices here.

The Goal(s)

Let us be clear.

The goal is not to lose weight.
The goal is not to lift weights.
The goal is not to run, walk or jog.
The goal is not to meditate, or write out my feelings or, even, keep the blog.

The goal isn't even happiness.

The goal is to find my body in balance.

No, not even that.

The goal is to find a life in balance which is manifested by my body. For my body is a reflection of my thoughts as they determine my actions towards health and joy--or away from it.

In two and a half years, (the target date is my 50th birthday in January 2014) my mind is free from thinking about and obsessing about eating. The what, when and how will all be resolved, a matter of habit, on automatic pilot.

In two and a half years, my emotions are being handled appropriately. I am processing and responding in ways that promote health and high function--not death, dis-ease and dysfunction.

In two and a half years (and hopefully sooner) my body is free from pain and awkwardness, it doesn't hold me back from doing anything I wish and it looks the best it possibly can given that this is my body with my history and genetics.

They say I am what I eat: but I am also what I think, what I feel and how I act.

And so we begin.

weight: 256.8 lbs