Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 173 A love prayer by author Julia Cameron

My good friend Susan Brooks read this prayer to our meeting of Soul Strippers last Sunday and I liked it so much, I copied it down. You might enjoy it too. It strikes me as an interesting version of the AA Third Step Prayer.

"I anticipate the blessings hidden in all circumstances. I surrender my need to control relationships and events. I open my heart to divine outcomes, divine timing. I invite Spirit to counsel me on how I can best cooperate with, rather than control, the graceful unfolding of my good."

This seems particularly helpful for me today. My long-time next-door neighbor Ben  (15 years of quiet steadiness through the wall) is moving out over the weekend. And my New York editor wrote to me this afternoon that she is beginning the edit of my novel. Both events I want to control the outcome of. Breathing and trusting!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 172 Travelling again on the plan

I've come over to Eastern Oregon with my sister Kerry for the long weekend. She brought her superduper Blendtec blender (this thing has a feature that heats your blenderized food to soup or chills it to ice cream!). I really debated whether to load all my kitchen gear into the car (blender, juicer, rice cooker, slow cooker) and decided to leave it all home. Yesterday I made a fabulous soup and brought it over for us and this morning I made about six servings of steel-cut oats and two quarts of juice. While it's best fresh for the nutrients, it will keep in the refrigerator a few days and that seemed easier. I did bring my soy-free veggie burgers (very few commercial veggie burgers are df, gf, and sf (dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free) and my Firefly fermented carrots (hard to be without those). So I'm feeling that there's plenty of safe food to eat even without my gear.

This week's soup:  Fill the blender (2 quart) with fresh little tomatoes and one quartered and skinned onion. Add 1 cup of veggie broth. Pulverize and pour into the slow cooker. Add chopped potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, and parsley. Add a bit of cumin, lemon salt, lemon pepper, and garlic. Cook until the potatoes are tender (about 4 hours in mine).

Today's juice: dozen leaves of kale and deep green lettuce, 1 large zucchini, 1 large cucumber, l large apple, rest of the cabbage that wouldn't fit into the soup, dozen or so carrots. I kept putting in stuff until I had two quarts.

Also packed toasted almonds, maple-flavored agave, coconut milk, blackberries, remaining ripe peach, some limes and more apples. Some guacamole to top the veggie burgers with, some frozen T Joe's chicken sausages, a frozen chicken breast. We're set!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 170 Getting the cheerfulness going

Because I've made so many changes in how I eat, it's difficult to identify any one thing that is at the heart of the chronic cheerfulness that I now experience. Is it the elimination of wheat and dairy, which may have been irritants? Is it the much diminished consumption of caffeine (no coffee, no chocolate, only an occasional decaf black tea? Is it the major reduction in food chemicals from processed foods? Or is it the massive infusion of fruits and vegetables?

There isn't much research on this that I can find, but there are some studies that show that fruits and vegetables are reliable suppliers of serotonin and melatonin, chemicals we need for happy brains. B vitamins are also essential for a happy nervous system (when we drink alcohol and coffee and sodas, we strip our nerves of the B vitamins they need), and I found this great link.

So I suspect that the huge shift in my mood towards cheerfulness and away from anxiety and panic has to do with the juice, the big salads, and the steamed and baked veggies I consume every day.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 169 Making incremental changes

My good friend Kathie was here for lunch. She has just started working with my coach and we talked about incremental changes rather than jumping in full tilt. Another friend Pam is having trouble adjusting to it all and I suggested she also make slower changes.

I too started out slow. After watching the two films and my initial consult with the coach, I got a juicer and that's the only change I made for nearly a month. I played with the juicer, tried out various combinations, figured out how it worked, and learned to love the juice and the smoothies.

One reason for this slow beginning was that I was travelling to Tennessee for a retreat and a workshop and didn't feel comfortable trying to figure out a new food plan while I was on the road and eating with others who might be inconvenienced by it. I was gone over a week and ate as well as I could (no fried food and as many fruits and vegetables as I could) but in the winter in the middle of the country, that's not so easy.

One important thing happened on that trip though. I missed the juice and was glad to come back to it. And I think it gave me the courage (this isn't so bad) to make more changes.

So just adding fresh vegetable juice every day to your current eating habits can be a big boost to your health. And a very easy way to involve your family too. The healthiest combination includes 80% vegetables and 20% fruit to not tax your pancreas and blood sugar levels.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 168 Healthy food, pretty table

Over these months as I've become more interested in what I'm feeding myself and its health properties, I'm also more interested in eating better, that is, having a better eating experience. It's been lovely to have most of these first six months come in the spring and summer. Not only does that mean an abundance of fresh produce for smoothies and meals but it also means I can sit outside on my terrace for those meals.

I've lived in this wonderful apartment in close-in SE Portland for 19 years and for the first 18, the large covered terrace, which looks into the branches of a beautiful old cherry tree, leaked like a sieve. It was covered ancient and filthy corrugated plastic, and the rain would come through and cover everything with a grime. I used the terrace sparingly and had to wash down the furniture after each rain and mop the concrete floor and it was pretty unpleasant. Last November though, my landlord had the whole complex reroofed and the terrace got a new solid wood roof with three skylights. Now it doesn't leak, it has lovely light, and it has become an additional room, especially with this wonderful summer we've been having. 

Earlier in the summer, I got a new plastic rug and my porch swing. This week I decided to dress up the table with a new Provencal oilcloth in yellow and blue and today I got some lovely green dishes. Eating healthy, eating pretty. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 168 A Coconut Bliss confession

On Feb 14, 2010, I gave up dessert and all intentional sweets: cake, cookies, candy, ice cream, pudding, scones, muffins, pancakes, waffles. For two years, I didn't have any at all. Then last year I ate pancakes a couple of times with all-fruit jam. I didn't end up binging or craving them. In fact, I didn't enjoy them all that much. Then last winter I had a month of candy madness, which ended with my stepping into the plan.

But as I noted earlier this week in this blog, I've been craving something creamy and sweet and coconut yogurt just wasn't doing it. So I bought some Coconut Bliss frozen dessert (aka ice cream). I'd had it before and not been much interested. I didn't like it as much as ice cream. It just seemed a waste of calories.

This time, however, I did like it. I do like it. I like it very much. I probably like it too much. I have two pints in my freezer and will finish them and then let it go. I don't want to, I want to try all the flavors, and find my favorites and stock up on it, and be able to eat all I want until I don't want anymore. If I knew that would happen quickly, I'd probably say f..k it and go for it. But I know only too well that it won't happen quickly. That I'll probably like it for several months and a considerable number of pounds regained.

Thus, this confession. No sneaking, no hiding. Just eating healthy food in plain sight. Damn it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 166 The 4 F's of addiction behaviors

We're all familiar with the two big F's of response: fight or flight. When we are threatened from outside or inside, we can defend ourselves in some overt way or we can flee, find an escape route. But there are two other options, two other F's that pertain to addiction. I've had a lot of experience with the first of these: F..k it!

While I was in treatment, I heard a counselor say that alcoholics can go from zero to f..k it in less than a second. And I think for a lot of people that's true. It may be why only about 10% of alcoholics who seek treatment stay sober. It's so easy to just say f..k it and go back to the old life. Since I got sober, I've been fortunate enough not to do that with drinking (although I had plenty of experience with that all those years when I was trying to stop drinking on my own). But I've moved rapidly into f..k it with food over and over and over. It's especially easy when f..k it is preceded and/or followed by rationalization. I'm trying hard to stay out of this now, with a commitment to my plan that I haven't had before.

And I'm willing now to begin to step into the fourth F: feel. Feel the restlessness, the anxiety, the happiness, the contentment, the fear, the discomfort, the whatever. I went through some really hard stuff when I got sober: job search, ongoing jealousy, resentments. 9th step work, break up with a long-term boyfriend whom I thought I would be with for the rest of my life, moving, new job, moving again, new career. I didn't drink but I had the numbing comfort of food. Now I'm becoming willing to forego that and feel even more. Some days it's easy. Some days it's damn hard and I find my hand in the drawer of snack bars or my spoon in the jar of peanut butter. But I can also feel more willingness, more courage coming my way too.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 165 Getting support when you change your eating

As my first six months on the plan wind down, I want to acknowledge all the support I've had in making these changes.

Thanks go to:

My good friend Susan Brooks, who gave me the DVD of Forks over Knives, which got me started on this journey.

Joe Cross, whose personal documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead was so inspiring that I bought a juicer the next day.

Elisabeth Dunham, an old friend turned health coach, who connected with me at just the right moment to tell me about plant-based eating and to offer her professional support (

Lily Gael, the best food plan buddy one could hope for, compassionate, sensitive, committed to her own well-being as well as mine. She has helped me stay steady on the course and reminds me of the benefits when I get wobbly. Her years of abstinence in OA have been a big plus for me.

My good friends and sisters, Meredith, Pam, Shannon, and Susan, who all also jumped on the plan wagon and have been supportive and great listeners and sharers.

My friends Bridget, Jan, and Carole, whose similar journeys helped inspire mine.

Kerry and Melanie, who always have my best interests at heart.

All of you reading this blog and especially those of you sharing your stories with me in comments.

Change of any sort requires courage. Courage requires support. My deep appreciation to you all.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 164 Too cheerful to wear black

One effect of the food plan has really surprised me. I have began to shrug off my black wardrobe. For many years, I've worn primarily black. The pants are a practical matter. I'm not a particularly tidy person and I seem to be a magnet for things that stain. My pens leak, there'll be grease where I sit, and tomato sauce and red wine and chocolate all seem to find their way onto my clothing. And of course any of the things that can stain your pants can stain your top as well.

I also do believe that black makes you look thinner. And if not, it kind of blurs the lines of your body so that no one can really see it. That may be erroneous but it was comforting to believe.

What's more, black is elegant. You're always well dressed in a black shirt and nice black pants, no matter where you are.

But since I got cheerful, I just don't want to wear black anymore. When I bought some smaller clothes, I got some brightly colored tops in cool patterns to wear with my black pants. And then I bought some white pants, and then I bought a pair of red pants! OMG! And right now I'm wearing those red pants with a bright goldenrod t-shirt. My friends may not recognize me. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 162 Food, discipline, and rebellion

In my phone session with my coach last week, I talked a little about my strong resistance to a structured eating plan. How that feels like a diet instead of a plan. And she mentioned something I hadn't thought about for a while. How discipline and rebellion fit into this picture of recovery, not just from food but from addicting tendencies in general.

She asked me to acknowledge that creating and maintaining a successful one-woman business takes a lot of discipline. That staying sober all these many years takes discipline and commitment. And that food is my goof-off place, my rebellion, my you-can't-make-me place. It felt really good to hear that acknowledged and to acknowledge it to myself.

That doesn't mean that I can't change or make other choices around food, but it does help me understand the resistance and sit with it a little better.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 161 Missing real desserts

The last couple of days I've had a serious desire for some real sugar. I haven't had serious sugar for many months now. A year ago, I had a piece of German chocolate cake at my sister's for her birthday and felt wretched afterwards, and six months ago I went through about a week of big-time candy-eating, which tasted great and felt awful, so I know in my gut, and elsewhere, that it's not a good idea at all.

But that doesn't keep me from wanting it. Ice cream, pudding, something with whipped cream, blackberry pie, maybe, or a piece of pound cake with berries and cream. Or a dozen pieces of my favorite Sees chocolates.

There are some passable sweets on the plan: Larabars are made with dates and nuts and natural flavors and they're quite decent. Raw Revolution makes a couple of good chocolate date bars. There are gluten-free cookies and even gluten-free brownies and cakes but none of them are scrumptious and I'm wanting something scrumptious, in fact, a lot of something scrumptious.

It will pass, this desire. I know that. But tonight I miss eating with abandon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 160 Not getting stuck in a rut

I can be pretty obsessive with food. Well, not just food, but this post is about food. Back in the sugar-bingeing days, I was always fixated on one thing at a time: caramels, Dove Bars, Snickers ice cream bars, chocolate cake (no frosting) with fresh whipped cream. I'd eat something fabulous and want it until I was sick of it. That usually took some months. Since I gave up desserts more than three years ago, some of that obsessive focus has calmed down though I can still want, fix, and eat the same delicious thing over and over.

Now that I'm eating differently, I'm not in so much trouble with that. I fix different fruits and vegetables and having a CSA (community supported agriculture) box once a week helps with that variety. I'm also learning about the nutrition in different fruits and vegetables. I aim each day for 10-12 servings of the two a day, and I know that doesn'tt mean 5 apples and 5 carrots. Eating a big variety in juice/smoothie, crock pot soup, and salads is important because the nutrients vary too. I found this good article on why to vary the greens you eat (and not just eat spinach).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 159 Thin body or fat smooth skin?

The wrinkles are starting to show. When you're fat and old, you can have a remarkably smooth face, plumped up by extra weight. As I lose the weight, my age is showing more. The laugh and smile lines are more visible, the fine lines in my face are no longer barely visible.

I know it was inevitable whether I lost weight or not. Eventually, if we are fortunate enough to live a long time, our skin breaks down and we're old and we look it. I don't mind but it's a bit of a shock under certain lights and at certain angles.

I recently had some professional photos taken and I had a very hard time recognizing myself in them. It's not that they were awful. Some of them were quite lovely, but they didn't look like me. Who is this old broad, I thought.

And of course, some very youthful part of us goes on seeing our younger self in the mirror, a kind of age blindness that I think is endearing. So I'm getting used to the new me in more ways than one.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 158 Food and 9th Step work

Monday I went to a Step Study meeting that I often go to. It's a women's meeting and there's some really long-term sobriety in it. The 9th Step was the topic and a number of people talked about making amends to themselves, how much their drinking and other addictive behaviors had hurt them.

I got to thinking about my own 9th Step work and how I had been a drunk teacher and couldn't make direct amends to years' worth of students but that I could make living amends by being a present and caring teacher for those who came my way in sobriety and I did that.

And I realized that I have some 9th Step work to do with my inner young child, that rather than an apology, I can make a living amend by giving her attention now and letting her feel her feelings. Amazing how the program works.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 157 Counter-cultural or more on the "fool" plan

In response to my blog on the typo of "fool" plan instead of food plan, my buddy Lily had this to say:  "I think we are "fools" for self-love eating &  pioneering, revolutionary "fools" to put our faith & actions in what is true for us & our bodies when so much of society tries to convince us otherwise! May we continue to make fools of ourselves one day at a time!"

Her comments got me thinking again about how this way of eating is counter-cultural. Of course, there's the huge amount of our population that eats mostly crap: fast food, junk food, sodas, candy. A few folks may not know that this stuff is lethal but most folks do know, I think. Some can't afford better food, but most are seduced by the food industry's diligent efforts to create hyper-palatible foods with a lot of fat, salt, and sugar. When I read that places like Applebees and TGI Fridays use frozen chicken that has been precooked in fat, salt, and sugar and then recooked with fat, salt, and sugar, I realized why it all goes down so easily. The restaurant corporations and grocery corporations want to get us hooked on that food, and most of us do.

There's a second big group of us who eat better but are still living by the eating ideas we grew up, even though the Food Pyramid shifted years ago away from meat and dairy and refined grains and sugar. But the meat and dairy and wheat associations are huge and powerful lobbies that have big agribusiness money behind them for advertising. (You never hear about the vegetable growers as lobbyists.) Big business isn't as much interested in the precious perishables and not much interested at all in giving up GMOs and herbicides and pesticides.

Lastly there are a lot of folks I know who just don't want to change. Don't want to give up pizza, cheese, French bread, pasta, even though they don't feel very good and know they need to lose several dozen pounds or more. I don't try to convince anybody though I wish they could all experience the well-being I've had these last few months.

So it does feel revolutionary to eat this way. We revolutionary fools one day at a time!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 156 Maybe I have shopping addiction after all

I belong to a Women and Money group and because I've been inquiring into reducing my paid work load, my group challenged me to figure out what I need to live on. Following Luna Jaffe's idea of Squeak by, Enough, and Plenty as categories of money we need, I went through my spending for the last year. I was going to do it pretty systematically but I could see right away where the discretionary money was going.

I already knew that I buy more clothes than I think I do (I shop online) and I am somewhat profligate though improved in self-indulgence in terms of books (Kindle) and music (iTunes) but those are pretty much in bounds that I'm comfortable with. Where the big bucks are going? Food shopping. I'm spending enough money for a family of 4.

I see two issues here. One is food scarcity. I've always been a "have plenty" thinker. Maybe this is genetic, passed down from my Mormon dad, who bought cases of canned goods just in case. While I don't do that, I am often stocking up when I am already well stocked.

In addition, I like a lot of choice. I used to always rent 3 or 4 videos and buy 2 or 4 books in case I didn't like one of them. So I buy more than I need and more than I can consume. While I throw away very little fresh food these days, I have cupboards crammed with staples.

The second issue is that I do like to buy stuff. There's something very pleasurable about coming home with a bag of new something. Perhaps anything. Since I'm not buying much else at the moment, that something/anything new is food.

Another challenge to consider. Hmmmm.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 155 This week's combos

Lots of fun cooking the last two days. (Never thought I'd hear myself say that again).

This week's crockpot soup: cauliflower, bokchoy, Walla Walla sweet onion, celery, black lentils, wild rice in Pacific's organic mushroom broth.

This week's veggie bake:  sliced yukon gold potatoes, a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, lots of freshly chopped basil.

Smoothie: In addition to my standards (half a banana, some blueberries, half apple, and green juice), I've been experimenting with kiwi and melon and nectarine combinations. I also added 2 peeled raw beets to the juicer. It makes a beautiful color of smoothie although it's a little earthy.

I haven't been eating eggs much because I like them cooked in butter and served with buttered toast, but the other night I scrambled two eggs from my good friend Sue's very own chickens in a non-stick pan and they were great. Also have discovered New Cascadia teff seeded bread. Teff is an Ethiopian grain that is very high in fiber and high in protein and gluten-free and the New Cascadia version (made locally) actually tastes like bread. I ate mine with a smear of cashew butter and all-fruit marionberry jam and a big sliced fresh tomato on the side. Yum!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 154 A post I've been putting off writing

Last week, I had a session with my wonderful spiritual director, Anna. I was catching her up on my progress with the food plan and when I started talking about how I felt such overwhelming resistance to suggestions to plan out my food and eat on a schedule, I started to cry. After a minute, she asked me how old the self was who was resisting and I thought for a moment and then said 8 or 9.

"Perhaps your child self only knows how to get in touch with you through hunger," she said. "It certainly seems to get your attention."

"What does?"

"Hunger," she said. "Or what feels like hunger."

And I realized that while I'm willing to admit there's an emotional component to some of my hunger feelings, I've always assumed it was my adult self that was bored or restless. It never occurred to me that it was a sad and lonely little girl who needs attention and could only fix it for herself by eating toast with butter and sugar or candy bars.

I sat with the rightness of that for a few minutes and then we talked some more. Anna wasn't advocating not feeding her but rather listening to her, letting her have her feelings, which I have repressed for so many decades. Wish that sounded easy.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 153 My "fool" plan

Right after I published the blog day before yesterday, I saw that I had a typo. Instead of "food" plan, I'd written "fool" plan. My good friend Karen Casey also pointed it out, as a God joke. And I've been thinking about whether this is a fool plan, a foolish plan, or whether it's a fool-proof plan.

In the sense of promoting good health, eating 10-15 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is a fool-proof plan. There's no down side. I get tons of vitamins and minerals and other good things, like fiber and protein and slow-burning carbs. It makes my cells happy in a way I didn't know I could experience.

It takes more work than buying frozen entrees or already prepared foods from the Whole Foods deli (my former at-home eating style), but I know what goes into my body and I feel good about that too.

I'm not fooling myself that this is the only thing I need to do to lose weight although it's a huge step in the right direction. I'm not fooling myself into thinking this is a fountain of youth or will necessarily repair the internal damage of decades of too much sugar and fat and alcohol. But again, it's a huge step in the right direction.

And perhaps most important for my emotional health, I have no shame or guilt about what I eat now, and that had plagued me for more years than I want to count.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 152 Exercise and the food plan

My coach always checks in about exercise as it's an essential part of her plan but we don't talk about it much because I have had a pretty solid exercise practice for more than 30 years, after I started jogging in my early 30s. I jogged and ran for about 15 years; then my knees and ankles weren't so happy with that any more. So I turned to walking and the treadmill and lifting weights and I've been faithful at that for a long, long time. I don't really enjoy the workouts but I like the way they make me feel and if I don't work out for a couple of days, I start to feel "off."

I go to the gym with a buddy 3-4 times a week, and I walk a mile or two most other mornings. Reboot Joe from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead includes exercise in his program and I think the videos at this site are well worth considering if you're wanting to add more exercise to your life. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 151 Five months into the new life

Today I start the 6th month of my fool plan, or as I'm now calling it "my new life." Here are some of my thoughts at this juncture:

1. Not once have I wished it were over (I use to wish my diets were over just about every hour).
2. It has been amazingly easier than I thought to cut out wheat, dairy, and soy.
3. Only two or three times have I wished for more than 4 oz of meat/eggs/fish in a day. And then I've eaten more, assuming my body was telling me something.
4. I have lost just under 30 pounds without a big food-restriction effort.
5. I have had zero free-floating anxiety in the last 5 months.
6. I have been well (no colds or flu) the last 5 months. Any symptoms have disappeared quickly.
7. I have had a different kind of energy (a steady hum, not a caffeine buzz).
8. My four cups of black tea a day habit has shifted to one or none a day. I don't think about it.
9. I've no interest in diet sodas or junk food (aka cheetos) although I ate four potato chips off my friend Eileen's plate at lunch today. I didn't lust after more though and after the waitress took her plate, I forgot about them.
10. I'm down a size in clothing.
11. The small annoyances of life don't annoy me. I just can't get worked up over them.
12. I've begun cooking again after 23 years and really enjoy it as a creative endeavor.
13. I get more done every day than before.
14. I don't nap anymore.
15. I'm learning how to order what I need in restaurants and bring what I need with me when I leave the house.
16. #15 is not a big deal.
17. I'm eating a much greater variety of foods than I was before.
18. My food nurturing is spreading out into nurturing myself in other ways.
19. I still miss candy bars (anything with caramel) and ice cream (haven't had any in over 3 years). I suspect I will always miss and want them.
20. I'm full of gratitude for Joe Cross (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead), Elisabeth Dunham (my coach), and Lily Gael (my Plan buddy).

P.S.: My soup of the week and my veggie bake of the week (see last Monday's post) were fabulous!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 149 Calcium without dairy products

I stopped taking supplemental calcium a few years back. I had been tested for vitamin D deficiency, which is rampant in our northern neck of the woods, and began taking a supplement for that (if you're low in D, your body won't process the calcium.) As part of the testing, I got a serious bone density test done and learned I had the bones of a 24-year-old anyway. Why? Primarily because I'd been steadily doing weight-bearing exercise (jogging, then walking, and always weights) for over 30 years. Walking and jogging have made my lower torso and spine strong, lifting weights has made my arm bones strong.

Thus, with the vitamin D supplement that I take and a strong exercise program and quite a bit of dairy in my diet, I felt pretty confident that I was getting enough. But when I got off dairy, I wondered if I'd still be okay. Turns out I may be getting even more without dairy because some many fruits and vegetables have calcium in them.

Here's a link with more information.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 148 Culinary creativity

Here's what's cooking at my house today:

Soup of the week:
Pacific Carrot Ginger Soup (found in the back of my cupboard)
With potatoes, onions, purple string beans (all from the CSA box), and white beans plus lemon salt and cumin

Veggie bake of the week:
Thick medallions of summer squash, thin rounds of onion, potato, and kohlrabi baked in a sauce of 1 cup veggie broth, 3 T. almond butter, a little cumin, and lemon pepper.

Heat tip: My crock pot is cooking out on my terrace (I have an electrical outlet). I did the veggie roast early this morning. 25 minutes at 400 and then turned off the oven and left them to cook.

No idea how any of this is going to taste but they both sure smell good!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 147 Portals of discovery

Yesterday, I came across this quote from author James Joyce: "A person's errors are his portals of discovery." And I've been thinking about this since then. In the 12-Step programs, we talk about defects of character, those actions, habits, tendencies, attitudes, that stand between us and freedom. We see them as burdens to be lifted, mistakes to be erased. But what if they are instead portals of discovery?

For the last few days, I've been in a bit of a slump. There are lots of circumstantial reasons (work is slow, a presentation was poorly attended and that was disappointing, hit a snag in my writing) but maybe it's just the wheel of life and I'm in a down place. I'm not worried about it; in fact, I'm quite cheerful about it, but I'm eating too much. Still on the plan, healthy meals, but way too many snacks. Grazing again off and on all afternoon.

If I go to character defect here, it just brings up shame and guilt. Not helpful. But if I go to portal of discovery, something else opens up for me: I find myself back in my commitment to curiosity. Not about why I'm doing this (it's a habit, a knee-jerk response) but rather curious about how I can shift out of this. What can I discover and how can I step through a portal into something else?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 146 Eating for equanimity

Yesterday at the conference, I misplaced my keys. I remembered having them in my hand after I left the car but nothing after that. As I left my final session, I went through my rather voluminous purse with its many comforts (notebook, book to read, iPad, all my stuff, tea mug) but no keys. I went out to the car. They weren't in the ignition or on the ground.

The conference was at the Airport Sheraton and the Hampton is right next door. I was parked in the Hampton lot and so I went to their front desk in case someone had turned them in. Nope. So I went back to the conference desk and asked but they don't keep a lost and found and sent me to the hotel desk. And there they were.

No big deal, you're probably thinking. And that's exactly the point. Six months ago, I would have gone into a minor panic when I couldn't find them. At best, I would have been seriously annoyed and frustrated; at worst, I'd have played out a wretched scenario of being stuck at the conference, replacing all those keys, burdening some friend with having to come get me or spending a lot of money on a cab. I'd have cycled through a big drama before I ever got to the Hampton front desk.

But I didn't do any of those things. I went through my purse twice. I looked in the logical places and I stayed calm and cheerful. It wasn't a big deal and my healthy nervous system supported that. I love these pieces of evidence of the change in me.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 145 Struggling with the minor inconvenience

The last several days I've been out and about more. I was at the coast overnight to give a presentation, staying in a motel. Today all day I was at a writers conference. Sticking to the Plan is a lot easier at home. I don't have non-Plan foods around and I find it a bit easier to stick to my schedule.

On the trip to the coast, I planned lunch out (a crab salad at a favorite restaurant) and then brought several other kinds of salad with me, several snacks, and a smoothie for first thing in the morning. The first hurdle I ran into was early evening when I would normally have had dinner. I hadn't counted on being really hungry a few hours after the crab salad but I was so I ate all my snacks (3) before I went to the presentation at 6. I don't like to do that as snacks aren't meals but I knew I'd be hungry after the presentation and in a small town, I was going to struggle to find food on the Plan at 8:30 at night that didn't involve meat (I'd already had mine for the day). I ate the salads when I got back and went to bed early.

Next day, I got up early and had the smoothie about 6:30. By 10 when I was packed and ready to go after a long walk on the beach and a shower, I was starving and didn't have any more Plan food with me and it was more than 90 minutes to home. So I went to a pancake house and got eggs and sausage and potatoes. A pretty high fat meal but I was so hungry and I didn't order toast or the wonderful-looking pancakes. Got home and had an early dinner.

Today I took extra smoothie with me because I ate breakfast at 7 and lunch wasn't until 1. I didn't eat off the plan but I got tempted into extra meat on my salad (chicken and bacon) as I skipped the batter fried shrimp, hot rolls, two kinds of cheese, and croutons.

So this is a long-winded way to say that I need to work on planning a bit more carefully. I didn't eat wheat, dairy, or soy, but I ate more meat than I'm committed to and so having main dishes I can travel with is a challenge to solve.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 144 Words of wisdom from a winner of the food wars

My friend Bob Wilson is a nutritionist who weighed a million pounds in high school, got to a healthy weight and has kept it off for decades. His website has many interesting pieces of information, including this page on understanding brain chemistry, cravings, and body weight.

Bob's advice is as much gently emotional as scientific. I love this quote from him:

"If you are hungry, then eat something. It is not wrong to be hungry! Eat something that won’t make you ultimately unhappy with yourself. When you choose whole, healthful foods, you are caring for yourself. Respect and honor yourself. Choose foods that will properly nourish and maintain your body."

--Bob Wilson, nutritionist