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Tuesday, June 28, 2016


So I've looped back again. Back to those every day, elastic-waist pants day, tops loved best that widen wide at the waist. The gym? A piece of plastic on my key ring. I am ache, slump (sleep-deprived) most days. Fuzzy of brain, as well.
This is a small square black and white drawing. On the left is a white mountain, with the words, where we are, written on it. There is a person standing on the top of it, which is very flat. The person is facing forward, looking at another land mass, also white, with what we want to be written on it in black. In between the two masses is a black triangular space, kind of like a hershey's kiss, with leap of faith on the top of it, written in white. at the bottom, in slightly large letter is make the jump.

There have been the big stressors. Changed work and work type, I'm in a new housing situation, with all my small routines upended. And now, too is the Bowl Period. Everything's in a bowl at home: the wilted ice cream after a meal of microwaved Canadian bacon and egg whites, or a green salad, or granola and kefir. I work so many hours and am so seldom fully recharged that I'm having a difficult time doing the very things that do feed and ease me.

The writing, too, is like this: Not the writer I want to be, but am. Awkward, thin and flat (it's been more than a year since I last posted here). Shaken and certainly insecure.

But I am back because I need to be because writing and editing for others is nothing like writing and speaking for myself. (I hope I write long enough to no longer sound trite.)

To practise, to stumble. Learn, forgive--and then collapse.

Here we go.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Life in Skinny Drag

I've made major changes in the foods I consume and the way I move through and in the world. I'm making and consuming even more fermented foods, especially homemade kefir, beet kvass, and fermented carrots and ginger. I eat a lot of protein (about 180g daily), especially red meat, whey isolate, and egg whites. I take supplements like magnesium, niacin, vitamins C and D, SAM-e, and glutamine. I'm lifting moderately heavy weights 3-4 times a week at my gym, and walking about 75 minutes or more three times a week. 
The results are significant: my body fat has come down with a major increase in muscle mass; my strength, flexibility, and stamina are better than they've ever been in my life. My mood is generally quite good, and the depression and anxiety have eased greatly. 
I'm also much smaller (even though my weight hasn't shifted significantly in the last year) --I used to wear size 18WP pants that translates as "short wide woman"); now I wear misses' 12 or 10.
I often feel as if I'm passing--kind of like I'm a fat person in a skinny suit. I'm the same me, but my presentation triggers different responses. It is curious how my physical changes  affect those around me. Now that I'm smaller, I see quite clearly (and regularly) how fat and big people are discriminated against--because shop clerks and other service people treat me so very well.
They eagerly come to me in stores, I no longer have to chase them down; I now get shown to much better seats in restaurants. This is true even in places I've gone into for years--which makes the treatment even more distressing.( Sometimes I want to scream out, "Funny, you never treated me this nice when I was big!" but I don't.)
The most difficult responses are from people I've known for quite a while.They take a lot of different forms--snide comments from a friend who has suddenly become hyper-critical of my body the smaller it gets--and will report with unfettered glee if she thinks I've gained weight. Or when someone begins to come on to you after you've gotten smaller--that's just creepy. Sometimes I think it's shame--a friend who carries a lot of extra fat used to take pictures of us each time she came to visit, and then share them with me. The last couple of times she took the pictures, but "keeps forgetting" to send me copies.

 (This Clusie L. YouTube video--"Why People Don't Want You to Lose Weight"--addresses some of this. Definitely worth a watch.) 

Or another who has been doing aerobic activity for years, frequently complains of being in poor health, and despairs often about losing weight (that is, losing fat). She's seen me make these changes (and the results), we've talked a little bit about it--and she continues to do her aerobic activity and complain. I don't think there's only one true path to health, but I've stopped counting the number of people who tell me they want to get healthier, compliment me on my health--and yet keep doing what they've always been doing. "The eye doesn't see what flies into it," is a West African proverb that seems particularly apt.
I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. That's what I know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Hole to Fill in the Desire for Perfect

There's so much to learn about the self with any new undertaking (particularly after it has become less-than-new), and lifting weights is no exception. (Note that I've not been working out for the last couple of weeks, though still do long walks regularly).
I've now seen,in the not-doing, some of the drivers behind my desire to weight train. First, of course, is the wonder of the physical and mental experience--lifting 200 pounds off the ground, repeatedly, and fully-focused in the moment.
But I'm learning that much of my satisfaction from lifting, losing fat, and being more fit is driven by my belief that I am less valuable and unattractive if I don't. Put simply, a big chunk of this is about my lack of self-acceptance, and a desire to control and erase that which isn't satisfactory to me. 
A frenzied fear swept over me the other day, when I realized I've likely gained 7 or 8 pounds recently. My first thought: I am falling behind schedule, I am going backwards. At the core, I realized, was this: I would be less likely to be loved.
What often follows is a desire to punish myself, to step into control, to whip myself into shape, to force myself, like a ruthless headmaster, and make working out a punishment, no longer the joy.
This time I've simply been sitting with the experience, letting the feelings flow through me. I haven't forced myself to go to the gym, or changed my food, or anything. And this has been challenging, and painful. 
There are a lot of stories about anorexia and other eating disorders among bodybuilders and those losing large amounts of weight. And that is understandable, given how our culture rewards the non-fat--even when it is deadly to the person being rewarded.
I wish I didn't have this low self-esteem, and the accompanying fear that, unless I somehow perfect my externals, others will find me wanting. One day I will be the person who loves herself as she is, for all of who she is. I am not that person, yet.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

...But Not Too Strong

I've had a curious strength-related challenge recently: men who believe I'm not physically strong enough to lift the weight that I do.
This isn't a problem in the gym, where I've received praise and encouragement to lift more weight, and more regularly. There, I deadlift 230-238 pounds for repetitions. No, this is taking place at a part-time job I'm doing to earn some extra money.
I work in a food factory--perhaps better known as a production bakery. Part of the job--I thought--was to empty yellow trash can-sized containers of spilled "product" into a larger container. I had no problem doing this--the yellow containers hold about 60-120 pounds of product; using appropriate lifting technique (tight core and bent knees), I'd empty them with no problem.
Well, it turns out--there was a problem: some men saw me do this a few times, became alarmed, and reported it to my boss. One day, out of the blue, he told me not to lift the containers, that he would take care of it. I protested, saying that I could easily lift them (and I can), but he was adamant.
I couldn't figure out why, however. It's part of the job--but not if you're a woman, it seems.
And the other day, I lifted several boxes (not all at once!) of packaged product, while helping out on the assembly line. They each weighed about 55-70 pounds, and I (again) lifted them with no problem. Well, a few minutes later, I heard some guys talking about it. The next thing I know, when people on the line asked for a box of product, these same men nearly knocked me out of the way to get to the boxes, preventing me from getting near them.
Is this about men feeling invalidated if a woman is strong? I have no idea, but it is frustrating, to say the least

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Healthy Hypocrite Ponders Meat

What do you do when your ethics and values conflict with your health needs? I began this blog four years ago to chronicle my transition to raw veganism. My goal and heartfelt desire was to eat in a way that supported my health yet caused as little environmental harm as possible.
After much experimentation, I now know that(today) my physical and mental health seem  best when I eat a lot of protein, particularly red meat. That is not who I want to be. It is, however, who I am now.
Raising beef--particularly cheap beef--has a massive environmental footprint. In the first year, as I ate my tofu, cheese, yogurt, almond butter, eggs, beans, quinoa, rice, and spinach, I'd look with smug disdain at people chomping on fast-food burgers, knowing that their meat was wreaking environmental havoc and decimating rain forests--and that I had made the more superior choice. 
As my stomach rebelled against grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, and soy, and my protein needs increased (because of the benefits of protein for folks with attention issues, along with strength-training and wanting to increase muscle mass), I began eating meat. I was, at the time, eating chicken, grass-fed beef and lamb, and line-caught salmon, so I could still put a big distance between my meat- and fish-eating and those of the environment-wrecking masses. 
Well, that line of demarcation has crumbled: my pocketbook can no longer afford my ethics (and my stomach stopped liking egg yolks and chicken). I go to Trader Joe's now and buy a pound of ground beef, wrapped in plastic, for about six bucks. The label tells me it contains meat from Brazil, Australia, and the U.S. It is certainly not grass-fed. The cheap lamb I
buy comes from Australia or Iceland, and is still cheaper (dollar-wise, but not on the environment) than lamb grown less than a few hundred miles from my apartment. I don't buy salmon much any more, but do buy sole and cans of tuna, even as I know the oceans are over fished. 
When you eat about 130 grams of protein a day, you can't (or at least, I can't) do it all on meat (as there's only about 7 grams of protein in each ounce). I do consume powdered egg whites and whey powder in protein shakes. 
Unfortunately, my stomach doesn't do well with dairy, fermented or otherwise. Although I consume whey isolate (with the least amount of lactose of the wheys) my stomach still has difficulty with it, and sometimes rebels against egg whites, too.  So I can't rely on either one for my primary source of protein. And that leads me back--to meat. 
Also, as I have handled more meat--and more meat that looks like meat (for example, lamb chops or shanks that resemble *my* body parts) I'm quite more aware that I'm eating another being, a dead being killed so I could eat it. I do give thanks to the animal, and have done that for a long time, but even that seems insufficient lately.
So the more meat I eat, the more I feel like a hypocrite--albeit a healthy one. I'm not sure what to do.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fermentation: Sisters Are Doing It For Ourselves!

clear mason jar with metal lid. Inside are shredded, bright orange carrots in a little bit of clear liquid. The jar is sitting atop a light brown bamboo chopping board, and is standing in front of a window. Outsie are branches of the tree in front of my apartment, on a clear spring day.
First batch: fermenting carrots
I've been eating fermented foods (primarily raw sauerkraut) for most of the last year of my food journey. It's (generally) a cheap and good source of beneficial bacteria for gut healing and overall digestive health.
For me, fermented foods deliver several rewards: (1) they must reduce inflammation because I get less puffy and smaller when I eat them; (2) my food desires are much clearer, so I don't graze the fridge as I try to find the nutrient my body  hungers for; and (3) I seem to digest my food much more thoroughly, and (likely as a result) have a lot less hunger.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, creator of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) food/nutrition plan, has been a major cheerleader for the benefits of fermented foods for mind and body health. Whether or not you subscribe to all of her assertions, research is showing us that poor gut health and inflammation are not only linked to one another, but also to numerous chronic illnesses (e.g., diabetes mellitus, depression, anxiety, arthritis, and heart disease).
I'm the first to admit, however, that sauerkraut doesn't top the favorite foods list for most people (including me). A fellow writer introduced me to fermented ginger carrots, and they are definitely the exception to the nasty food rule: crunchy and chewy, sweet yet tart. Last week I bought some, but at $8 for a small jar of the stuff, I didn't think I'd be eating it often. When I looked at the ingredients, however--carrots, water, and ginger--I decided to embark on my first foray into the world of fermentation.
I found a simple recipe at 6512andgrowing, and tried it out. It will take about three days for the fermenting to finish. Although I do have some concern about the jar exploding and/or me getting botulism or some other food-jockey illness,  I'm hoping for the best.