Monday, October 26, 2009


Been knocked out by a bad bout with the ol back again. This has become way too familiar a scene.

And I really only have myself to blame. I was treating exercise like I used to treat every other decision... I put it off because I was looking at it from the entirely wrong perspective.

Like the sugar, where I make the conscious choice to avoid the things that will make me feel bad - I need to change the way I look at exercise too.

Instead of a chore, it's a choice. A choice that will ultimately prevent me from being in this same position where I'm crippled by pain.

So I need to get over myself and get on the ball. (Literally)

Especially when I saw a weight loss on the scale at the ER, a place I'm going to have to pay big bucks to just so they could tell me don't go to work, take some pills, use a heating pad and rest.

Stuff I was already doing anyway.

So I'm going to start out slow and get my health back while I still can. I got here because of my choices, I can get out of here the same way.

It's kind of fitting considering I've finally decided what to do for myself on my 40th birthday.

I've decided to go to college.

I mean, I did the online thing for a couple of semesters, but it's not the same. I want the entire college experience complete with a cap and gown graduation I never got from high school.

It's the one thing I've always regretted that I did not do, and now that I stack it up against all the pros and cons I can't really see too much of a downside to going now. I had put it off for so long because I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up (other than a writer), and it seemed like a waste of time and money to chase after a degree. This is especially true when you see people with degrees often making a living completely different from the degrees they earned.

But as I started this new job at the call center, I see people of all ages balancing school and work. For them, that's a job to pay the bills until they embark on a career.

To me... it's a job to pay the bills - indefinitely.

The thought depressed me to no end.

The job is fine; but do I really want to do that until I'm 65?

Which, btw, is only 25 short years away?

My oldest son is about to turn 20. I know how that time can fly.

I've actually been entertaining the thought of going back to school for a while. Every time you get online you see ads about grant money for moms who want to return to school. If the help is there... why wait?

Oh yeah... that not knowing what I want to be when I grow up.

Well the more I thought about it the more I realized that an Associate of Arts degree is basically a foundation for anything I wanted to do. If I just get that under my belt, a world of possibilities is open to me. It also ups my bargaining price when I go for a job, no matter what field it's in.

Not to mention the wealth of human experience I'll get just being in the college atmosphere is going to be priceless. As a writer, again, I can't really see a downside.

Especially if I can get any of the work in college published as well.

While I would love to do a university, the junior college here in my town looks like it can fill most of my needs, and at a price I can afford. Plus just looking at the courses and the possibilities actually has me excited for the first time in a long time.

It may be a little late in coming, but maybe it's at the exactly right time. The kids are almost grown and on their own, and I'll be approaching it with a lot more appreciation than I might have had twenty something years ago.

I've spent too much time on the other side. I know what's at stake.

So it's all up to me now. No more revving my wheels in the mud. It's time to start making real, discernible progress.

So my birthday goal is to get enrolled and prepared to go by the beginning of the Spring semester in 2010.

I can change my body AND change my future.

I'm nearly 40 years old.

The time for waiting is over.

The time for change is now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cookie Diet. Really?

In one more effort for fads to keep you fat, there's The Cookie Diet, whereupon you supposedly eat cookies (as a meal replacement no less) to curb your appetite so that you can keep on a low calorie diet.

And of course it costs money to purchase these magic cookies, which do nothing about teaching you to curb your negative eating habits... it merely lets you have your cookie and eat it too.

Nice marketing ploy, I have to admit. And had this been twenty, twenty five years ago when I was looking for a quick fix (cheat), I might have been prone to falling for it.

Anyone remember those appetite suppressant candies that were like little cubes of chocolate? They were real popular until the mid 80s when a disease of the same name became a notorious and feared killer.

Needless to say, been there, done that.

As I've watched my weight spiral out of control depending on these products marketed to help me "get thin" - while doing nothing more than switching my dependence - I've grown very resentful and very suspicious of the diet industry.

There's a reason why their profit margin has increased right along with our ever expanding waistlines.

I'm reminded once of going to a Mary Kay meeting and hearing one of the sales ladies say, "Every night more of my product goes down the drain, so I know that customer is going to keep coming back to buy more product."

The diet industry *needs* us to stay fat so we'll keep fattening *their* wallets. It's become such a joke that the first thing I want to know when it comes to people who want to "help me" lose weight is how much it costs.

If it's not free, it's too much. There are too many good sites like or even who are willing to give away their secrets for free because they genuinely want to see people living their best, healthy lives.

All those diet books and supplements... not so much.

And it's all so blatantly obvious when someone tries to market a freaking COOKIE. Skip a meal, eat a cookie... lose weight! And by the way, we'd love for you to put a down payment on some ocean front property in Arizona!"

"But Ginger... some lady lost 120 pounds!"

Yeah. And I've lost three inches in less than a month just by getting rid of the sugar (and cookies) entirely. By eating more natural foods and cutting back on the meat, I've already seen a difference in how I look and how I feel; both mentally and physically.

And I didn't need to spend $59 buckaroos for a weekly box of magic cookies. Instead of having a "meal replacement"... I actually have a meal.

Best of all... I'm losing my self destructive need to cater to my indulgences. A donut commercial has zero affect on me now. It doesn't even look good, much to the shock of my 17 year old son.

This month of detoxing off of my dependence on sugar has been eye-opening. Like I've said before, I tried not to get substitutes for my sweet tooth... but replacements. I don't want chemically altered sugar free cookies to take the edge off, I want something that is naturally sweet so that I can lose my dependence on these "comfort foods" I've always used as a crutch.

So instead of getting the sugar free stuff (and even avoiding the sugar free candy I purchased on the onset) I've been learning how to go for fruit and sweet veggies and natural sweeteners instead.

This is something I can do forever, instead of paying out of my pocket to trade one addiction for another.

Has it been easy? No. Breaking an addiction never is. The PMS week was probably the hardest, and like I was mentioning in some previous blogs, I've had to actually deal with emotional issues with emotions rather than mask it with food.

Cravings pass. When it's over, I still feel a hundred percent better than I used to when my body was drowning in sugar sludge.

So cookies? Thanks, but I'll find a healthier (and cheaper) way to do it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Emotional landmines

Today has been the most difficult day yet. Like I mentioned in my previous blog, I'm dealing with some disappointments that are leaving me vulnerable. Instead of dealing with the hurt that comes from a situation where I basically had fooled myself into believing something that wasn't real - and staking a lot of my esteem on it being real - I want to pile on food.

And this time it wasn't even unhealthy food necessarily. It was just that trigger to eat instead of feel that I was able to recognize and thwart.

A very good reason to be proud today.

Especially since I'm feeling physically bad again thanks to that persistent cough and pain from bronchitis.

It would have been so much easier to give in for the moment, stop and get food out ignoring the fact I had much better alternatives at home.

I wanted to feel good, and I wanted my food to do it - instead of being fuel to my body like it should be.

But I resisted. And for that I am very proud of myself. Not just for the food aspect, but resisting the urge to spend money on something I didn't need to buy as well.

And you know what? That has made the other stuff hurt a lot less. Which goes to prove that the only esteem that is worth having, is the one we give ourselves. The one we earn by keeping our promises to ourselves and showing our body the respect it deserves.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Protein... Breakfast of Champions

It dawned on me yesterday that having a protein based breakfast really does help me eat less during the day. During my flu, I was eating oatmeal with raisins, and I found myself more peckish throughout the day.

Yesterday I had some scrambled egg with cheese and veggies in a high fiber wrap, and was able to manage hunger a lot better.

The only problem with this so far is that the protein based breakfast foods I buy, like eggs and peanut butter, are kid magnets. Now that my oldest has returned home, a dozen eggs can be gone in a matter of days. Don't even get me started on the peanut butter.

Thankfully I can deal with that problem fairly effectively with some shrewd shopping choices.

At least it's a start.

As for the exercise I'm going to have to bite the bullet and start whether I'm completely over my cough or not. I'll just have to start slow. So that'll be my goal today. I'm putting it here so I can't make any excuses and back out of it.

Accountability - the most powerful tool in a healthy lifestyle change.

Emotional housekeeping...

I don't deal with neglect well. I chalk it up to investing so much of my value in what other people think of me. When they don't respond to me, it makes me feel invalidated in some way.

It also usually makes me withdraw, sullen and prone to childish behavior... which I chalk up to the patterns that began in my childhood that I have yet to fully work through.

Maybe Jeff is right. Maybe I would benefit from some therapy.

Right now my biggest problem is where I have thrown my heart and attention. On one end of the spectrum, it's been something that I deemed safe because of the lack of response back.

Only the responses came anyway, and in this recent few months more than I had even thought possible. I acted on it and was very surprised when it went right back to the avoidance phase - so much so that my feelings were hurt and I in fact became quite angry.

I'm not sure how to deal with it either. I can either talk it out with this person and jeopardize what I thought I had (only to discover I was fooling myself). Or, as I have been doing, I can just trundle along acting as if it's no big deal and just deal with the worry it'll teach this individual it's okay to treat me in a manner that will hurt my feelings.

I just don't know.

The other end of the spectrum is someone I have given my heart and trust to, only to deal with this nagging suspicion that over the past year something has irrevocably changed. I don't think it's ending, necessarily, but it has changed in a way that I'm not sure we'll ever be able to recapture what once was.

And that saddens me.

Even though I'm wading through the muck to try and figure out how I'll deal with either scenario, the bottom line is these relationships do not define me; as much as I have always tried to believe they do. Whether or not these people care about me or not, it cannot impact how I care about myself. All I can do is learn to accept maybe this is the way these people are... and just because they don't act the way I want them to it doesn't mean I don't have something unique and special with them.

But... learning my own value means I have to make the decision if it's good enough *for me*.

I don't deserve neglect or lies.

So I guess it's time to learn to speak up for myself, even if my voice is shaking. If these relationships are worth having, they'll endure.

And I hope they do.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Au natural

In this ongoing education on how to view food differently, one of my priorities has been to keep it basic. Where I used to use the crutches of diet food - you know... food that was like the food I used to eat but altered to be "healthier" (i.e. sugar free cookies, etc), I've now tried to switch those foods for foods that are naturally healthy rather than filled with substitute ingredients.

I figure any natural source of sweetness in fruits and the like would be preferable to artificial sweeteners, and those should be the foods that I should want to eat. The problem with eating all those "cheat" foods is that I still want to eat those things that aren't particularly healthy for me, so it's just easier to reach for those foods that really should hold a very small place in my life as a crutch to get through the day to day.

So I decided, especially during this first month of "detox", to avoid these potential pitfalls. But the thing was, I didn't see it that way when I made that decision. Like I said at the onset, I was simply trying to find the healthier, more natural alternative.

Only now after about ten days of these new eating habits can I see the inherent wisdom of that choice. Not only am I breaking the dependence on those things, I'm developing a new taste and new desire for these other things like fresh fruit. Not only has this had an emotional payoff in the lack of "eaters remorse" for giving in and plowing through a bag of cookies or chips, but it has also had a physical payoff in the way my body functions. Even as sick as I've been, I feel better overall with more energy and more enthusiasm.

The sun has broken through the cloud, as it were. Instead of trudging through life feeling like I was stuck in three feet of mud, I have the energy (and desire) to actively participate in my life instead of watch it pass by from the sidelines.

As someone who has taken anti-depressants before I can tell you this is *exactly* the same feeling I got from a pill... only this time I'm not taking a pill, but choosing to fill my body and essentially my vessel with the right kinds of fuel.

It's really quite remarkable.

I'm feeling so good in fact, I'm kinda paranoid about the potential pitfalls coming up in the next few months with all the holiday triggers to fall back into sugar dependence.

Halloween - candy. Thanksgiving - pies. Christmas - cookies. New Year's - booze.

It makes me want to avoid all these things even though the argument could be made that I can enjoy some of these things in moderation if I can contain it to just those days. Because that's the heart of this healthier eating - I'm not doing it because I "can't" eat those things. I'm doing it because by choosing NOT to eat those things I feel better long after that momentary satisfaction of giving into those triggers.

As long as I keep it my choice, I'm not prey for those deprivation issues that always seem to be my undoing.

Therefore I'm thinking it might be more valuable to me to avoid those temptations altogether just once just to show that I can. If I do give in and indulge for these specific dates, I'm not only opening the door for future excuses to indulge, I'm also literally feeding into the dependence part in my brain that says I can't enjoy these holidays without these foods.

Which, I know intellectually, is complete and utter baloney.

So my challenge then is to find healthier alternatives for these holiday challenges. My requirements: make it more vegetable/fruit specific, and if I use sweeteners of any kind they're going to be natural ones. If I have any recipes that require sweeteners, instead of white granulated sugar, get as basic and raw as I can. I found a great article on natural alternatives that will give me new strategies on how to approach baking - which I love to do.

I'll keep you updated on what I discover. Hopefully the fam will be along for the ride as I make these exciting new changes. Fortunately for me my seventeen year old is a lot more open to embrace this new lifestyle and, like me, has adopted a more "flexitarian" approach. This is particularly exciting for me because he has my same propensity for obesity, and I feel like giving him these tools at this young age will help him avoid getting as far gone as I have done.

Because changing these destructive patterns after decades of poor choices is a lot harder. Undoing nearly forty years of damage is a lot of hard work and concentrated, focused effort.

Thankfully though... not impossible.

And I'm totally equipped for the challenge.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Feeling strangely in control today

Going back to work after a total of seven days off, and even though I'm still battling bronchitis I feel empowered to return to work and resume a somewhat normal life.

I'm extremely proud of the fact that while I was compromised by the sickness, I maintained my commitment to remain sugar free. And today I feel stronger and bolder than I have before... that I really can maintain this new healthier eating lifestyle.

It seemed unthinkable before - like a lifetime without the things I've always counted upon to boost my mood or hide my pain wasn't really within my capability.

But today as I scanned through Twitter and could find myself not even tempted by the food enjoyment others were chatting about, it made me realize that slowly and surely these new eating patterns were paying off. I now want the things that benefit my body, rather than yearn for those things that will do nothing more than make things that much harder for me.

I feel *healthier*, even despite being sick.

It gives me great hope I can get everything else in order too.

Which is the next order of business...

But more about that tomorrow.