Wednesday, September 02, 2015

About Bodies and Control

We think we can control things. . . but we can't.  Mostly, control is an illusion, a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better.  We go though life thinking that we know the outcome of each day, but moment by moment, as each day unfolds, there are always surprises. 

Most of the time the surprises are small ones, and the general outline of one's day generally goes the way one plans.  Sometimes there are huge big horrible surprises, like the house catching on fire, or your family getting killed in a car crash, or cancer.  Some surprises are sudden, and some are slow to reveal themselves, like an autism diagnosis that is 13 years in coming, or a chronic illness that's been showing symptoms for years, and you finally get a diagnosis and you are actually GLAD, because now the big "it" has a name. 

All these examples are taken from my actual life, by the way. 

And this blog post is about control. . . and how we really don't have much control. 

We can control a few things:  some basic choices we make. . . but even the fact that we have a choice is a gift.  Many people don't have a choice about many things.  Perhaps we can control our words, even our thoughts if we engage in the spiritual discipline to do so.  We can choose to pray. 

But being human, there are so many things that are truly beyond our control. 

I can't control the fact that I have fibromyalgia, although I can make lifestyle choices which help me live my life to the fullest extent possible. 

Wes can't control the fact that he has cancer.  B can't control the fact that she has autism. 

We know better than to think that we can cure ourselves. 

But there's one area of my life, that for my whole life, I thought I ought to be able to control, but have never BEEN able to control, and the resulting shame has been utterly toxic and debilitating for me:  my weight. 

I can control my eating all day long and then some...I can choose healthy foods, nourishing foods, good real foods...not the processed junk that most people assume fat people consume in mass amounts.  And I do...but that does not result in my weight going down. 

For ever shorter amounts of time, I can control how much I put into my body.  I am a master at food restriction in so many ways, shapes and forms.  But biology takes over and wins, and hunger is a cruel mistress. 

I have been on every diet.  Ok...I never did the Zone, or Somerizing...but I was on a diet that was based on the same concepts.  I won't list all the diets I have tried over the years, but I will say this:  I am the yo yo dieting queen. . . and each time, there is a bounce back, a regain and so very very much shame.  And I have come to the conclusion that I am done.  I'm done dieting.  So. Very. Over. It. 

I accept the fact that I do not have control over my own body shape or size.  You could say:  "Body sculpt, exercise, lift will see!"   But, I've already tried that... and with a stack of autoimmune illnesses, a body does not work that way.  Even the whole exercise and body shape and "get in shape" assumes control that is really an illusion:  Health can leave you in an instant.  Could be a virus, could be an accident, could be anything.  Health can leave you in an instant.  Health is a GIFT.

All that control you smugly think you have is just a blessing from God.  A gift. 

And ultimately the thing about realizing that I have so very very little control in my life is that I am learning to trust God.  I am learning to trust God with our money that is crazy tight due to medical bills and insurance costs.  I am learning to trust God with the future of whether or not I will be a young widow, and how I will provide for myself then, how I will live.  I am learning to trust God in all these things...and yet, here I am spending my entire life, my thoughts, my energy...NOT trusting God about my very BODY, which HE MADE. 

Someone said that for many people, the desire to be thin is about the social capital/power that thinness gives (at least for white American women this is true).  This rang instantly true for me and it was convicting!  One of the reasons I always wanted to be thin was I was very aware that as a fat woman, and now a fat middle aged woman, I am an undesirable nobody in this world that sexualizes all women.  Pariah.  Ugly.  The Dregs.  All the shameful things that flood though my head about myself when I think of my body shape and size.  Every ugly fat shaming comment ever written has been's all in there.

But here's the truth:  What if I surrender control of that which I have no control over?  I can choose healthy foods, I can choose to be as active as my body will let me.  I can choose to take my meds and my supplements, and I can choose to go to bed early.  I can choose to drink water and to give up sodas and park in the back of the parking lot and all those thousands of choices that make for a "healthy lifestyle".  I can, and I DO... but for all that...I can't make my body lose weight.

So I'm giving up trying to control the shape of my body.  I'm giving up and TRUSTING God who made me that He will enable me to live the life I need to live in this body that He gave me to live it in.  I don't need the social capital that comes from thinness.  I choose to trust God with my body and my life. 

And that is all. This is poorly written.  But I feel like it needs to be "out there".  Circumstances prevent me from polishing it up more. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fasting When You Cannot Fast

Today marks the ending of the Dormitian Fast on the new calendar and the beginning of the Dormitian Fast for those on the old calendar. 

Every time a fast approaches, I think: This time I will try and it will be better....

and it never is.

I am too sick to fast. 

And my children,with autism, sensory processing disorder and hypglycemia are too sick to fast. 

And my husband who is fighting cancer and recovering from chemo therapy is also too sick to fast. 

Even with meat on the menu, our collective energy levels are so low that two birthdays in one week derail us and we don't quite get the birthday shopping done in time.

The grass has gotten mowed ONCE this summer. 

We never do anything FUN because we are too sick and tired.  

Too sick to fast.  Also too sick to GO very fast. ( Yes, it's a pun. I had to.)

And it's difficult when all of one's faith community is doing one thing and one's own family is in a different rhythm:   But we are learning the OKness of that. 

So our challenge is to fast from self pity. and to fast with kindness towards one another, bearing each other's burdens.  Our fast is to say "Thy Will Be Done" and to sincerely mean it, when we pray.  Our fast is to pray for others who are suffering.  Our fast is to be sick and to still say "blessed be the Lord our God, henceforth and forevermore." in a world that despises the sick and the poor, in a world that tells us we are somehow "doing it wrong" if we are sick, and in a world that wants to sell us the delusion of control via the latest product or pill. 

Our fast is to trust God.   

Friday, August 07, 2015

The Only Gluten Free, Dairy Free Carob Brownie Recipe You Will Ever Need

It seems like sooooo may recipe blog posts go on....

and on....

and on....

about EVERYTHING before they get to the recipe. 

But I wont do that.  Because I'm nice.  So, without further ado:

preheat oven to 350F.

mix together: 
1 cup sugar,
1 cup namaste GF flour blend,
pinch of salt, and
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Toasted carob powder (just ordered off Amazon). 

Melt some Earth balance supposed to taste like butter margarine without transfats in it stuff...

1/2 cup to be precise. 
break 3 eggs into your dry stuff

and stir it around. 

Add 1 cap full of vanilla (admit it, nobody gets out a measuring spoon for vanilla when that lid is soooo handy),
 and the melted buttery stuff. 

Stir like a madwoman.  Even if you are man, stir like a madwoman. 

When it's all silky and blended into a dark brown fudgy mass, dump it into a small pan (pie pan or a small rectangle...NOT a 9x13 unless you want crackers), spread it out and bake it for about half an hour.

I ran this recipe through a recipe nutrition calculator, and 1/8 of the recipe has 280 calories. Painful, I know...but being a grown up is about getting real, and sometimes it means eating dessert with your eyes wide open.  

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Time to Grow up.

Last night I tried the Salmon, Potato and Peas was good...but there was not much of it.  I was satisfied for about an hour and a half, and then I felt like I needed a snack...luckily that was built in to my budget, so I ate some dry, crunchy gluten free ceral (instead of potato chips) because I was feeling very very stressed and I needed to CRUNCH.  (yes, I know I'm a stress eater....I'm working on it, but, babysteps here, and yes, I WILL buy some carrots when I go grocery shopping next).

Today at lunch I had a big salad (tomato, small zucchini, and greens) dressed w/ coconut spray and blasamic vinegar, and some chicken.  It wasn't quite enough.

I needed about 150 more calories (remember, I'm doing "free fruits and veggies")...

So I ate a peach with 1/3 cup raw oats sprinkled on, and some "just like sugar" chicory root sweetener.  It was so pretty looking in the bowl.  I should have taken a picture. 

I've noticed that 1800 calories is enough...but it is no way, shape, or form indulgent.  It is measured, it is basic, and it is simple.  It has to be...

I can't think of this in terms of hoped-for weight loss.  Because if I do, I will get angry and discouraged, and self-pitying and more angry and more discouraged, and rebellious and then I will EAT all those feelings and I will be right back where I started or worse...because I not only will have caved in to the food, but also caved in to those negative feelings and allowed myself to dwell in that negative, childish brain space. 

It is, quite simply, time to grow up.

Monday, August 03, 2015

What a 400 Calorie breakfast looks like

1 slice of Udi's Gluten Free bread (yes, the G and the F have to be capitalized.  Thus I have decided.  It's that important to me.), 2 T. Sunbutter, and a banana.  Oh, and the coffee is always black. And to think...this is the small plate.  I could easily pile twice as many calories on this thing.  Just using the small plate is obviously not enough discipline for me. 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Breakfast Plan

Again, working with 400 calorie budget here, and the fact that I am a creature, very much, of habit. 

An honest assessment of my cozy eating habits revealed that I eat a bit too much at each about 200 calories, if you include snacks, that adds up to quite a bit of extra weight. 

So I decided 1800 calories a day would be a better target, and towards that end, I need to tweak my habits and my meals.  To make it easy at dinner (the danger zone time of day, donchaknow), I prepped pre-made freezer meals for myself. For breakfast, all I need is a menu, because I only eat about three different things EVER for breakfast....

1 slice Udi's toast
2 T. Sunbutter
1 banana

Breakfast Sandwich:
1 slice Udi's toast
1 sausage patty
1 banana

1/2 cup raw oats
2 T. protein powder
1 c. blueberries
1 c. coconut milk
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

The Hobbit:
3 slices bacon
2 eggs
1T. bacon fat for the eggs
1 piece of fruit (not a banana)

Coffee, in my world, is always black. 

So that's how I'm going to do breakfasts....

Now I need a lunch plan.  (actually, I have one...sort of):  meaty salad or a fruit/veggie/protein smoothie.  And a snack plan (I need to make some portion controlled desserty snacky nom nom bars.)  

The over all plan is:  3 400 calorie meals,  a  200 calorie snack and unlimited fruit (not bananas) and non-starchy veggies.  That's why so many starchy veggies are in the meals themselves...I can always add a salad on the side....

Calorie Controlled Freezer Meals, part 3 (The recipes)

You will need quart sized freezer bags.  Label your bags first, and do this assembly line style, one recipe at a time.  I put them in a logical order, as you will see if you reasd through all the recipes first.  I was seated at my dining room table and even though I was having a bad day physically, I was able to get this work done. 

Each meal has 400 calories. 

Bean and Corn Chili with Turkey (2 cans of black beans will get you five meals)

1 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans (drained)
1/2 can diced tomato
1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken or turkey meat
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin powder
1/2 t. salt

Heat and serve.

Chickpea Curry

1/3 cup brown rice
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 T. coconut cream
1/2 c. diced tomatoes
1 t. curry powder
1/2 t. salt
1T. lemon juice

2 cans of chickpeas and 2 cans of tomatoes will yield about five of these dinners.  

Add 2/3 cup water and cook as if you are cooking rice.  Don't do what I did and scorch it. 

*****save the rest of your can of coconut cream and make the following sauce for use in the Fettuccini meals: 

1 Cup coconut cream, 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, squirt of mustard, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 tsp salt...whisk this together and use it in the Fettuccini recipe...

Fettuccine with Turkey and Broccoli

1 cup cooked fettuccine noodles,
1/2 cup cooked turkey or chicken meat
4-5 frozen broccoli pieces
1/4 cup of coconut sauce

Chicken and Rice with Mushrooms
1 frozen chicken breast
1 T. onion flakes
1t. salt
1 t. organic no salt seasoning
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup mushroom slices
2 t. coconut oil 

Add 1 cup of water to bake in the oven until chicken is done and water is absorbed. 

Simple Salmon

3 oz. Ore Ida Natural cut fries
1 cup frozen peas
1 Salmon patty or Salmon Fillet
Dump into a pie dish, cover in foil and bake until done.

Beef Fajita Bake

1 beef patty
2/3 cup corn
2/3 cup peppers
2 large sliced mushrooms
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili
1/2 t. salt
sprinkle of dried cilantro (optional).

Dump into a pie dish, cover with foil and bake.  

All these recipes are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, peanut free, soy free and egg free, and chocolate free.  

Calorie Controlled Freezer Meals, part 2 (the shopping list)

The shopping list: 

You will need: 
Frozen Chicken breasts
Brown Rice
24 oz. mushrooms (if you make more than the number of meals I made, you will need more mushrooms...I only did up 4 chicken meals because I only had 4 breasts on hand).
1 can of coconut cream
Bag of Frozen Corn (get organic if you can, corn is often GMO)
Bag of Frozen Peas
Ore-Ida Natural fries
Costco Salmon Patties OR Salmon fillets
Grass Fed Beef patties (4 oz. each)...I get mine at Trader Joe's.
Bag of frozen cut up red, yellow and green peppers...again, Trader Joe's.
2 cans of chick peas
2 cans black beans
7 cans of diced tomatoes
1 pack of fettuccini noodles (mine are gluten free)
bag of frozen broccoli florets
5 cups of cooked turkey meat or leftover chicken or something poultryish that's pre-cooked
1/2 cup nutritional yeast.

Bear in mind...I buy giant VATS of things at Costco..which explains why on the spur of the moment I was able to raid my freezer and come up w/ a month's worth of 400 calorie dinners.  If you don't buy vats of things at Costco or Sam's that's OK...just double check the recipes and calculate the quantities of things you will need and check the nutrition labels of things like bags of frozen corn to see how many half cups are in that know...MATH. 

In your pantry you might find: 

coconut oil
garlic powder
onion flakes
organic no salt seasoning
chili powder
dried cilantro
lemon juice

Calorie Controlled Freezer Meals

What's a broke lady to do when she knows it would benefit her to be on one of those pre-packaged meal diet plans? 

What's a gal to do when she has so many food allergies that any and all of those pre-packaged diet plans wouldn't work anyways? 

What's a mama to DO when she doesn't even own a MICROWAVE...? 

Well, do it herself, that's what. 

So today I made 29 dinners with five different recipes, each with 400 calories, of things I am not allergic to...and they are sitting in my freezer ready to go.  They can go into the oven, the crock pot, or be heated up on the stove top, depending on the dish. 

I just raided my freezer and put together stuff I already had...

There are: 

4 Beef Fajita Bake meals
4 Chicken breast with rice and mushrooms meals
6 Salmon, potato and peas meals
5 Turkey and Black bean and corn chili meals
5 Fettuccini, Turkey and Broccoli meals (with a vegan "cheeze" sauce)
5 Chickpea Curry meals

They are deliciously sitting there waiting in Quart sized freezer bags.  I counted the Calories as I put the recipes together. 

Each day, I get to pick what I want to eat for dinner, and I can either thaw it and bake it, or just put it on a pie plate with foil over it while it is still frozen and bake it until it is done. 


Breakfast those sorted, too...but breakfast is usually so easy that it doesn't have to be pre-packaged. I'll blog about those meal ideas tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, here is what 400 calories of chickpea curry looks like: 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Beauty is the Wrong Paradigm (a poem for girls)

I would rather be courageous than beautiful.
beauty is fleeting
it goes away.
I would rather be strong
I would rather stand with my face to the wind
in wide, open spaces where my soul can be
than have the need
inside of me
to be pretty.
I would rather be remembered for what I DO.
I want the world to see me and say
"There goes a maker." and
"Look at the work of her hands...
and her mind...and her soul."

I would rather be loving than beautiful.
Love lasts forever,
and beauty is food for worms.
Girls, oh girls! Gather 'round and and hear
my wisdom:
Beauty is the wrong paradigm.
Beauty is not enough to strive for
even if you think you want it from the very bottom of your soul.
Don't strive for beauty in your life, because if you do
you will find it
slipping through your fingers like
sands of time.
Reach for love.
Reach for goodness.
Reach for creating beauty around you.
Reach for tenderness.
Reach for mercy.
Reach for graciousness and grace.
Reach for feeding the hungry,
and offering a cup of cold water to the thirsty person nearby.
Reach for being silent in the face of gossip,
and being kind instead of bitchy.
Reach for what interests you, what lights up your mind.
Be passionate about giving the depths of yourself to the world, by song, by story, through art or an excellent business idea....offer yourself up.
But don't reach for beauty.
it's the wrong paradigm.
You are so much MORE than beautiful.
a poem that doesn't rhyme by Alana Sheldahl