Adding Tim as a Blog Partner

Adding Tim as a Blog Partner
Building a Good Relationship With Food

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Falling in Love With Food

I remember that when I started and successfully lost 85 lbs that I was fascinated with the idea of loving food. Like many with weight problems, I always thought food was the enemy. Actually addiction was the enemy. This year I have come to realize that whatever the source of the addiction, my response to sugar and hunger is extreme. I've embraced all of the theories over time -- and I now believe that obesity is a multi-faceted disorder, impacted by the U.S. diet and the body's response to it. I crave sugar when I am stressed. I eat too much of the wrong and seductive foods. Thinking it is not my fault or it is my fault -- thinking it is an addiction or that my body is hijacked by processed and fast food -- thinking I am just going to be fat or that it is too late -- all of those thoughts are not worth thinking. The goal of losing weight is health and mobility. When I got into the "groove" that I didn't maintain; I had a few rules. I exercised 3x a week. I didn't weigh myself or own a scale. I used to weigh myself every few months in Bed Bath and Beyond. I ate a balanced nutritionally dense diet. I maintained awareness of nutritional density and of low glycemic choices. I ate 5-6 times a day. I kept my calories at 1200-1300. And I maintained awareness. I fell in love with food -- added new foods to my diet -- things I had not eaten before and I worked at loving my food and savoring it.

Since I have changed jobs and regained some weight, I've become searchingly honest about my responses to fatigue, movie theaters, stress, anger, and skipping meals. I've made a terrific gain in getting enough rest every night and staying detached from stress. I've been gaining and losing and regaining the same 5 lbs. It has become a pattern.

Now it is time to focus on losing weight and achieving my goal. I have a comment from Sean Anderson on this blog which says more than anything I could say -- he talked about making a permanent change on a deep and permanent level. I confess that I have not really believed that such a change is possible. But Sean stands out as someone who faced the bottom of a food addiction and has changed on a deep level. If you haven't read Transformation Road, order it and read it!

I am going to throw out the scale today and return to the success strategies which worked for me before. Tim and I are going to do strength training today and I am going to do 30 minutes of gentle walking on the treadmill. I have to work out a 3x a week schedule for both cardo and for strength training. And I will blog each morning before I start my day.

Tim will join me from time to time with comments. Pushing the restart button -- one, two, three -- RESTART!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reviewing - Transformation Road by Sean Anderson -- Read his book!

It is clear to anyone who reads this blog -- Tim and I are both fans of Sean Anderson. We have both read his book,Transformation Road. This book does not fit into the shelves of books which offer yet another way to lose weight by combinations of foods or "diets" that worked for someone. It is not a book which offers a system of eating by a health professional. It is a book which is totally honest -- a profile of a food addict, who spares us nothing about his journey.

It is because of Sean's blog, The Daily Diary of Winning Loser, that I lost 85 lbs. His perspective was solid and honest: Set yourself a goal and a calorie bank and trust -- a daily total that you don't ever go over. Then eat foods that you love and that are satisfying. Those of you who have followed this blog know that in that journey I learned to eat foods that were nutritionally dense and over time I have evolved into someone who absolutely is interested in eating new foods that are extremely nutritious and because I keep the calorie bank and trust. I don't want to waste any calories. But that story is for another blog.

Tim: I am going to cut in here. Sean Anderson's book does not fall into the genre of healthy eating or nutrition. It is the story of a lifetime nightmare of overeating and eating to fill emotional needs. It is the story of true addiction. It is the story of a family that lived thed nightmare and the eating -- together. It is about hitting the bottom -- rock bottom. It is about self-hatred and self-bullying. It scares me.

Virginia: Sean has written that he has not been offered anything by magazines like People or other sources of publicity as a result of his book. My guess is that the book is just too honest and too graphic and he should never falter in promoting it exactly as it is written! It was that honesty that gathered over 1000 followers to his blog. I mourn the loss of that daily dose of honesty and his photographs and efforts. The book has, for me, filled in some of the back story on his blog. Who was Sean Anderson and how did he do it!

Having followed other bloggers who simply quit blogging and knowing what goes into my lack of daily discipline about blogging, I worry about Sean giving up the journey and relapsing into his addiction again. I look at his photos and search for extra weight showing up on his face and later underneath his jackets. Weight loss is often followed by weight gain for all us. Worrying about a stranger in a blog is the effect of the blogosphere. His daily diary gave us hope. His book illustrated the tragedy behind the blog, and later, the hope and courage. For a long time I followed a blogger who posted everything she ate as she began to gain weight. Her last post was deeply personal, describing a personal tragedy and then -- she vanished, leaving only the hopeful posts of a failed battle; it sits on blogspot unread and untouched -- an artifact from a hopeful time in the life of one person in a nearby country.

Tim: Sean's book reveals the beginning of his eating problem. He struggled as a child in many different ways. His success gives all of us who battle with this problem -- hope. Every day that he blogged another day of achievement meant that we could do it too. He was giving us hope. As much as we need role models, we have to be our own role model in this situation. We cannot be dominoes, falling because a leader falls. And of course, we only know if we are falling and can not judge what is going on with Sean Anderson. Looking in the mirror and deciding to lose weight is a personal choice. But what we do does impact others and of course impacts our own future. We do not know if Sean Anderson has fallen or if he is as strong as we was for all of the years of his blogging. We just know how hard it is to keep it up day after day, year after year. I have trouble keeping it going for two days. Mom and I remind each other that we can only go a meal at a time, or a day at a time. Sean kept it up through disappointment and loss. He was able to do things he had only dreamed of.

Sean Anderson's book gives hope and shows that an entire family can face addiction together. Hitting rock bottom is illustrated for us in the book with such reality that it terrifies us. And the triumph of going from 505 lbs to 230 is exciting. Maintaining that goal-weight or losing even more is the next blog I want to read -- I want to know how to keep it up and how to build that focus into the rest of my life.

Virginia: The journey doesn't take us on a road that is straight and without a single twist or turn. But I know that I have learned so much and am so much healthier -- there have been results that are measurable from learning to eat healthy foods. And I do eat salads and vegetables!I am excited about what I eat, and do look forward to eating things I have never eaten before. But the daily discipline remains a challenge and I do not take new habits for granted; my addiction is rooted in my childhood and culture.

Do look at and its newsfeed mobile application. It is a wonderful website. We have to change the way we feed our children and what we buy; the consumer rules the market place. Some of this story is the story of our insane market-driven nation and we have to control the quality of what is being sold to us and our children. We have to understand the connection between poverty and obesity. We have to teach our children that food is not the answer to emotions, loss, and trauma. We are an addicted nation.

Transformation Road is one of the most memorable books I have read in years. It is just what it is! It is well written and it is written without any preaching or advice-giving -- the grandiosity which so many of us bring with us, fat as we may be.It is a book about self-destruction and the moment when all of that has to change. It deserves to be read, sold, and widely circulated. I am hoping that someone has the guts to put Sean's honesty into public circulation and that when it happens it doesn't hurt him. And I thank him for sharing his story and his daily effort at honesty will all of us.

Tim: Living as a young teenager, I can see several things which are certainly common where I live: smoking, obesity, drug and alcohol addiction, and electronics -- all being used to take away the fact that we can't figure what to do with ourselves and don't have enough hope. Sean Anderson made me realize that to continue to gain weight is far more harmful than being in a wheelchair. And that having a strong body and good nutrition will make it much easier for me to live a normal life. Only Sean would be honest about wetting the bed, or having sores on his legs that wouldn't heal. Only Sean would honest about what his eating did to his children. I always look for excuses to eat. When he and his wife Irene fed their addictions together, it opened my eyes to family behaviors. I have always used others as an excuse: if they were eating chips, I ate chips. If Mom ate
ice cream after a long day at work, I took that as a pass -- I could do it too. When she stopped doing that sort of thing, I was frightened about having no one help me stay addicted to eating. Now we are standing for each other, but not enabling for each other. She reminds me that I have my whole life ahead of me.

Thank you Sean for book that I couldn't stop reading and can't stop thinking about!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wholesome and Natural -- Again?

Virginia: It is the end of February in 2012 and we have not blogged for a long time. I have been back up to 235 and today am 10 lbs lighter at 225. This is a considerable distance from my 199 weight of 20 months ago.

Tim: I am in the 8th grade and struggle to maintain my health, weight, and fitness.I have been off and on several "diets" (laugh out loud) and have consistently indulged and nurtured my food addiction. My highest weight so far is 89.9 pounds. Are you laughing? I am 3.1 inches tall and I am a triple amputee. I should probably weight 70 lbs or even a little less. I have a "paunch" My mother gave my brother-in-law a book called "Advance your Swagger." I believe in my case there should be a book entitled, "Advance Your Swagger by Losing Your 'Sagger'". With only a torso and one arm, there is no place on my body for extras calories to be stored except on my belly and my butt. But of course, there is extra fat stored on all of me, including my face and chin. So don't laugh at my being overweight at 89.9 lbs. I am excited about finding an IPhone application that will take my weight and height -- it a big help. It is called "Lose It!" Get it on IPhone from the App Store. I started back on the daily logging of food and maintaining a calorie limit and eating healthy foods. I do note that my Mom doesn't get sick; she enjoys really good health. She would laugh at this -- she is so healthy that if she got to her goal, she would become "super woman."

Virginia: I have spent some time this weekend reading Sean Anderson's book, Transformation Road. His inspiration inspired by first 85 pounds of weight loss. While I was beating myself up this morning, I realized that even though I have not paid enough attention to my eating addiction, I have maintained some of the good habits I developed: a) I have never eaten a carton of Hagen Daz ice cream again; b)I have quickly lost 10 of the 35 pounds I gained after moving to the Northeast and taking an extremely high stress job; c) I have continued to eat nutritiously dense and very healthy foods and to encourage that eating at home for children; d) I have continued to eat a healthy breakfast every morning. To begin the "transformation road" doesn't require a brand new map, just a return to the main road.

Tim: There are many people in the United States who have addictions of all kinds. Addictions come in all sorts of forms. Sean Anderson was addicted to food and to (at points in his life)television and online poker. Writing and focusing changed all of that for him. I love food. Food tastes amazing as soon as (most of it) hits my taste buds. But I do not get excited about vegetables, salads, and many fruits. Being a teenager is hard enough already. Now throw in my physical challenges, and then top it with obesity. Eating doesn't solve any problem that I encounter. I can't escape the world or the future by eating. I'm no different than any other boy of almost 15. I dream of having a girl friend, being popular, and having good adult life. That's can't happen unless I manage my eating, and other addictions (phones, computer, computer games and television (if my Mom would allow it). Eating is the big one, because when I am heavy, I don't move around enough.

Reading Sean Anderson's book has given me so much to think about and relate to. His description of his middle school life and adolescence was shocking and terribly important for me to read. His blog never revealed how really sad his story was and what he faced to make the change last and to build his life around something besides food.

Virginia: Tim and I started back on developing a real friendship with food -- and making every bite as delicious and as worth it as possible. I have never really lost my taste for nutritionally dense foods: avocados, vegetables, blueberries, eggs, and Greek yogurt (to name only a few things). But I relapse easily and Tim relapses with me because he seeks an eating "buddy" excuse. Sean's description of his relationship with an eating buddy and its destruction makes me feel really guilty. There is no reason to continue living a sedentary life and gaining weight again. The elusive goal weight is still out there for me to find and maintain.

It's feels good to be blogging again. It feels good to be enjoying food again -- the ultimate irony.

Tim: Having an eating buddy is no excuse and certainly isn't the way to go. If my Mom eats a hamburger, I get one. If she eats a grapefruit, I may put up a fuss, but I eat one too. She is my example, but that is no excuse. The only role model I need is myself and maybe I could be a role model for her too. Food is like all addictions -- the choice of the addict. And addicts seek people to show them that it is okay to smoke, use drugs, drink, or do other addiction things which are not moderate and are destructive. An addiction is defined by a dictionary as: physical and/or psychological dependence on psychoactive substances which cross the blood brain barrier, once ingested -- altering the chemical milieu of the brain. It now applies of physical or psychological dependence on other activities which have adverse or life-changing consequences. Currently there are many computer, video game, gambling, and other types of addictions. We live in an addictive society that supports all sorts of behaviors which are not healthy to the body or the mind. 80% of the illnesses which involve cardiovascular health would be eliminated by good diet and healthy lifestyle. I guess that means that I have to get moving. How does triple amputee exercise? I have a mini-trampoline rebounder, but I hurt my hip when I used it too aggressively. I started back on it again yesterday and went slowly.

Tim and Virginia: Check back to see how this new beginning unfolds.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Interviewing My Children - Interview Number 2

This child is 18 years old and came from Russia; she is an African-Russian girl who was in an orphanage until she was 9 years old. She has none of food related psychological issues of others in the family. She does not steal, hoard, or crave food in general. However, she has a very strong desire for sweets, particularly hard candies. It is interesting that most of my adoptees have few memories before they were adopted.

This daughter is very short - 4'8" but has no medical issues. She does not gain weight readily. She still likes tea with table sugar which was given at the 2nd orphanage for older children. She is slender and muscular and seems very balanced re: food and physiology. She maintains her weight at about 99 lbs. She has weighed as much as 105, but never more than that.

Question: What are your sleep patterns?
Answer: I need 7-8 hours. As you know, I have stayed up late into the night and then was able to get up in the morning and wasn't very tired. But I wasn't able to do my school work very well. I guess I need sleep. On the weekends I sleep longer if I can. I can sleep 9-10 hours if the house is quiet and I don't have to get up. So can everyone else in our family, except for our youngest who is always up early.

Question: What is your first memory of food? Think back as far as you can.
Answer: I remember being forced to eat honey from a big huge spoon. This was in the second orphanage where they raised bees. I still do not like honey. I remember eating oatmeal in my 2nd orphanage. I do remember eating pears at the 2nd orphanage. We had apples in the fall. We ate heavy black Russian bread. We did not have much meat. I don't remember being hungry. I remember going to the Black Sea for summer camp and eating lots of fish. That's why I love it so much. We should get fish, Mom. I still like sardines Mom. Get some.

Question: What is your first memory of food in the United States after you were adopted at age 9? Oh -- I promise I will get fish. I like it too. But I like fresh fish. We live near the ocean so I must be able to get fresh fish here somewhere. I am sure they have it at the store. I like fish with lemon. My Dad used to fish.

Answer: I remember eating Krasnodar borscht with you and Igor (the adoption facilitator) before we left Russia to return home to the United States. The borscht had sour cream in it and cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, beets and beef. It was delicious and I have never stopped thinking about it. I think it was the first thing like that I had ever eaten. Then when we came to the United States, you fixed tacos. They were made with corn tortillas, ground beef, onions, cheese, sour cream, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce and salsa. They were really, really good. You will never let me forget that I ate twenty tacos at one meal; I couldn't get enough of them. I still like them, but I don't eat twenty.

Question: What do you eat for breakfast now that you are 18 years old and have been in the United States for 9 years?
Answer: On school days I leave the house at 7 a.m. So I don't have much time, but I eat soup if you have it (I still love borscht-type soups). I am glad that you make enough soup so that I can have it when I want it. If there is no soup, I eat your home made muffins with whole wheat, nuts, an fruit or I eat sprouted wheat toast with natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar), or I eat a bowl of oatmeal with skim milk and raisins. I will eat that with strawberries, blueberries, or other fruit if we have it. Sometimes I eat an apple or a clementine or a pear on the bus. I like things that aren't too salty. But I like hot sauce and put it on some of the things we eat. I am a "spicy" girl.

Question: What time do you go to bed at night?
Answer: 10 on school nights and later on the weekends. But I get enough sleep. You know that you insist on that and weren't happy about me staying up.

Question: What do you eat for lunch on school days?
Answer: I eat a small salad and a turkey wrap with lettuce,onions, olives, tomatoes, meat, cucumbers and anything else that looks good. I don't eat it with any sauce. I don't like to be overly full. I am not a big snacker or muncher. 3 times a day is okay with me, but I do want sweets at night. If there aren't any, I will eat something that is more healthy.

Question: Let's go back to breakfast. What do you eat for breakfast on the weekend?
Answer: I eat more on the weekend, but usually I eat something when I get up and then something later in the morning. I eat oatmeal and sometimes my brother and I fix eggs or bagels. Once in a while we have bacon and eggs. We don't ever eat pancakes or waffles because they make us all tired. I just now ate cottage cheese and toast. It was good. I like the whole wheat bagels that you get that are sprouted and really filling.

Question: What do you eat for lunch on the weekends?
Answer: We eat leftovers or make sandwiches or we fix soup. We sometimes eat canned soups but have gotten into the habit of eating the ones we make ourselves. We all like them. We have everything in that soup except the kitchen sink in that soup. It smells so good right now cooking in the crock pot.

Question: Let's talk about snacks. What do you eat for snacks and when do you eat them?
Answer: I eat almonds for snacks and I like whole grain puffed cakes which we all like and I call, "recycled cardboard." I eat fruit. We all like fruit and can't keep enough of it in the house unless we get it gtwice a week.

Question: What about your craving for sweets? Tell me about that. When do crave sweets? When do you eat them? What do you eat?
Answer: I crave sweets in the late part of the day. I never eat sweets in the daytime. But at night I want them! I like hard candy and filled candy -- like Nips. I don't like chocolate very much. I am not crazy about cake, cookies, or ice-cream. In the summer I like ice-cream from a good place like "Cows and Cones." But I can eat alot of hard candy.

Question: Do you eat more when you are tired?
Answer: I don't think so. But I do notice that I want candy and sugar at night, so maybe it is because it's been a long day. I just run out of energy when I am tired.

Question: Do you worry about your weight?
Answer: No, Not at all, I don't eat too much; I know when I amn full and I quit.

Question: Are you active?
Answer: I like track but I have not been active this year. I like to dance too.

Question: Do you like vegetables?
Answer: Yes. I like cucumbers and pickles. I like carrots, tomatoes, celery, green beans, and steamed vegetables of all kinds. I love spinach (you and I are the only ones who do).

Question: Let's talk about dinner, What do you eat for dinner and like to eat?
Answer: When we go out which isn't very often, I like Gyro sandwiches. I love fish and wish you would make more of it. I am not a tuna lover. I like lemon pork chops with vegetables. I do NOT like sweet potatoes. I think I ate them in Russia and hated them, but I am not sure. I like steak and beef but not alot. I like salad and all kinds of green vegetables. I don't eat a big dinner. I love fish! It's expensive if we eat out. So please buy some. I like salmon and soft white fish.

Question: What else do you like?
Answer: I love watermelon. I like other melons, but mostly I like watermelon as you know. I can eat a whole watermelon by myself, but I don't do that.

Question: What do you eat if you are on a field trip and can buy food -- like at fair or an event?
Answer: Water bottles. I think I buy hot dogs once in a while. I don't really like burgers, I do like spaghetti. I am not crazy about sandwiches. I like funnel cake. I don't think I'm a big eater like so many people I know.

Question: What have you noticed about the way Americans eat?
Answer: They eat lots of food and so much fast food. They don't like salads and vegetables as a rule. They eat like they are starving. The only time I can remember eating too much was eating tacos at first. I can eat alot at Thanksgiving, but get full really fast. Other kids my age eat too much. I belonged to an African-America group in Illinois and almost all of the members were obese. They went to the corner store and bought chips, Twinkies or whatever you call them, and soda. I don't like soda; I've almost never had soda. I like tea very much -- all kinds of tea. I do like sugar in my tea, but have cut own on that. I'm drinking green tea this morning with no sugar in it. I have never eaten a Twinkie.

My Answer: Good for you. You have not missed a thing.
Question: Do you think about food very much?
Answer: No, not at all.

Question: What do you notice about your family and how they eat?
Answer: We eat pretty healthy most of the time, but I know that you and my brother have trouble eating too much. My sister who was hungry in Vladikavkaz still steals food and puts it in her bed. She must be afraid that she can't get enough food. She has never stopped eating apples. She would eat an entire bag in a day if she could. She eats really healthy things too, though.

Question: I did notice last night that you ate most of the carrots that you cut-up for the soup. Can you tell me about that?
Answer: (Laughs). I cut up one carrot for the soup and ate the rest. I just couldn't stop eating them. I ate 6 of them. So maybe that was like the tacos. I must have needed something in those carrots. I like the crunch and the taste. I like to do that with celery too. I love the soup we make with spinach and carrots and chicken and beef and everything in it! I can smell it cooking now (Laughs).

My answer: I am impressed. You are a really healthy eater. I wonder what we are going to find out about how kids eat and what a difference it makes. You had a friend here last month who was younger (15 years old) and was very obese. What does she eat?
Answer: I don't know what she eats. She doesn't eat much at school besides salad. I think she is poor and I don't know how she eats, but she is very heavy. She ate alot of potatoes and left-overs before she left out house. I think she eats alot of food like macaroni and cheese.

Question: Do you notice any difference between eating here and eating where we lived before -- outside of the family?
Answer: There were lots of big people in both places, but I have not seen as many really huge people as there are here.

Question: What about the high school?
Answer: Not many huge kids are at the high school. When I was in middle school in Colorado, I ate candy, but not every day. The middle school had a vending machine with candy in it. I think it would a good idea to get rid of vending machines. I don't drink soda and I don't like junk. Well, I don't like chips and soda. I do like candy, but not the big candy bars and stuff like that. I can make a box of Nips last a long time. You can eat a box in five minutes. (Laughs)

My Answer: I have to stay away from Nips. Chewy and sweet -- not a good thing for me. (Laughs)

My answer: You have the eating patterns of a "civilian". That means someone who doesn't eat addictively. Do you remember that you had rickets as a child in Russia? That is caused from malnutrition which means you weren't getting enough of the vitamins and minerals that you needed. But you didn't have any problems from that and it didn't affect your eating. Just keep eating the carrots and spinach. You are a good influence on me. I think I should follow you around and eat just like you do.(Laughs) You are a strong girl. What do you think about the health of our family compared to others you know.,
Answer: I think of us as very healthy. We don't have many colds. We don't get viruses or flu. We are strong and take good of ourselves. Sometimes I think we don't stop to think about how good we are about eating and health. I know we all to exercise more and that we going to do something today! (Laughs). But I think of us as a family that thinks about being smart about food choices but we are not crazy on the subject!

My answer: Thank you for this interview. I think I learned alot about our family through your eyes. Now I really am going to stop the interview. This was great!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Talking to my Children About Food. First Interview

I have adopted children from all over the world. Only one of them has been with me from infancy. Most of them were in extremely deprived situations in eastern European orphanages. They bring very different perspectives on food and eating. I asked my 13 year old son if I could interview him about food. He struggles with his weight and like me, has had some successes and failures. But we have made enough progress as a family to be able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy eating. It is interesting to notice that children of different backgrounds and genetics in the same family have completely different food preferences. Both my oldest daughter (who has 3 children, one of whom is adopted) and I talk about being "short-order" cooks.

This son came to the U.S. at age 3. He had just had his 3rd birthday. He had been in an extremely deprived orphanage without enough to eat. His eating patterns are much different that the rest of the family -- more like mine, unfortunately.

Question: What are your sleep patterns?

Answer: I sleep about 8-9 hours every night. I need 8-9 hours to feel really good. I am basically someone who likes to stay up late, but then I can't wake up in the morning. I sleep better when I go to bed earlier. I go to bed at 10:00 at the latest on school nights and sometimes stay up until 11 on weekends. I like to sleep late on snow days and weekends.

Question: What is your earliest memory of food? (When I met this child he had a chunk of black bread clutched in his hand and would not let it go. He did not have much to eat. He was three.)

Answer: I remember having cinnamon toast with you in the morning. You used to give me cinnamon toast and we would watch a program on PBS in the early morning -- on the weekends. But you quit doing things like that when you started learning about nutrition.

Question: What part do you think food has played in your life for 13 years? What does it mean to you?

Answer: I am a boy who likes starchy and sweet foods. I never met a vegetable I didn't hate. But I have faced (with the family) the there is a difference between "good" food and "not so good food" and I can physically feel the difference. I was a small child, but when I got to be about 12, I started gaining weight. I have gained too much and am trying to learn about that as I grow. I feel bad when I don't eat properly but I do that.

Question: Can you give me an example of that?

Answer: For example, if I was really tired and we went to McDonalds and I ate a "Big Mac" I would like it, but then I would feel more tired and sluggish. If we came home and were tired, but we ate a healthy home made soup with good things in it, I would feel better and sleep better.

Question: What changes have you noticed in the family patterns around eating?

Answer: We eat breakfast every day and we ALWAYS eat something healthy. I am not a person who is hungry in the morning, but if I eat breakfast I feel better all day. We eat oatmeal sometimes. We eat toast and natural peanut butter sometimes. My favorite is the same as yours: Greek plan yogurt with 1/4 cup of swiss muesli stirred into it. I used to love bacon (which we never ate much unless we were out) and hash browns. I never met a potato I didn'tlove! Now I eat bacon sometimes -- just a slice or two. I like to make my own omelettes with onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and chives in them. I can't do that on school days.

Question: Any other changes you have noticed?

Answer: The biggest change is that if we are not eating nutritiously we know it. We are not unconscious any more.

Question: Give me an example?

Answer: Last night I had a big bowl of spaghetti and then I wanted something sweet. I react to white carbohydrates -- pasta, potatoes, and white bread. I love those things, but I can't afford to be obese. I am an amputee who wants to remain active and able to move on the floor. I am learning that I can eat anything, if I eat it in small portions. You like sweet potatoes -- just baked. I like baked potatoes and they are better than salty fries (well, maybe not, but...they are okay). I called you to bring something sweet home and you said, "No." When you got home I ate 2 peppermints and that was fine. It was a very small treat which you had in your purse.

Question: Let's talk about junk food: candy, sweets, cakes, cookies, and you get it (smile).

Answer: We all have some addiction to bread, candy, but it is interesting. Recently I made a cake and no one ate it. You make healthy banana muffins and sometimes they don't get eaten. Last week I made chocolate chip cookies; they were good, I guess, but I didn't really eat them. When I am being really conscious about food I can eat a bite of chocolate when I am craving sweets.

Question: What are your food and nutrition goals and how will you live with them over time?

Answer: I will always remember that I feel better when we are eating healthy foods. Lately, I have had fun when I pitch in and help cook. It is fun to chop up vegetables for your soup. That is one way to get vegetables into me: chop, munch, chop, munch. I like celery and carrots. I also like the soup. All of us are trying to get 5 fruits and vegetables into our diet. I like tomatoes in sauces. I have not fallen in love with vegetable pasta -- yuck! We had spinach noodles last night and it was not love at first bite! I am going to grow, but without legs, I will never be very big. I have to keep that in mind. I am going to add more foods to my diet. I remember when we wrote down how many food we ate and noticed that we didn't eat much variety. You then started writing down the new food we tried?

Question: Did you like any of them?

Answer: Well, I don't like brussel sprouts or spinach (except in our "Family Soup"). I like spinach in broth.

Question: Talk to me about the difference between school food and a packed lunch?

Answer: I have more choices at my middle school than I did in elementary school, but there are not enough healthy choices. Here where we live is better than where we lived before. If you have a packed lunch, you can plan what you are going to eat and stay out of the pizza line.

Question: What is your favorite packed lunch?

Answer: I have so many. I like "Gourmet to Go" meals from St. Dalfour. We can buy them for $2.00 at a local store. They have several varieties and do you remember, you used to order them? I usually take or you pack almonds with no salt in a zip lock. I like a small can of low sodium V-8 -- see you are sneaking vegetables into me. I like a small apple. Big ones are just too big. Sometimes you put whole wheat grain puffed cakes into my lunch and an oz. of strong cheddar or swiss cheese. I love swiss cheese. Sometime you make me a turkey sandwich with swiss cheese on a sprouted wheat bread. I do well with my packed lunches.

Question: Do you eat foods that make you feel tired after you eat them?

Answer: Yes I do sometimes. A big meal with starch and fat makes my energy go away.

Question: What is your favorite healthy dinner?

Answer: I like pork chops with lemon -- the thin ones -- you fix those so that they are easy to eat. I can slice them up and put them in a whole wheat pita. I usually can eat a few vegetables with the pork chops in a pita if they are not squishy. I like steak with the crisp fat on it which isn't good for me. Well, maybe just a bite. I like the carrot rice and vegetarian stuff you make sometimes.

Question: What are the hardest foods for you to say "No" too and is a there a time of day or circumstance which makes saying "No" even harder?

Answer: Evening is the time of day which is hardest for me. I want to eat after 7:30 at night, even if I have had dinner. If there is ice cream in the freezer, I want to eat it (especially black raspberry). Thank you for not putting it in the freezer. I am vulnerable to foods which are sweet and creamy when I am tired.

Question: Would you be tempted to eat ice-cream in the morning for breakfast?

Answer: Never. My body has no interest in sweets in the morning. Why is that?

My answer: I don't know, but I am working with a physiologist who is interested in that.

Question: Does food affect your ability to concentrate?

Answer: Tremendously. If I eat pancakes (which I never do) or something sweet for breakfast I am hungry in an hour. I also can't concentrate or focus. I know you say the same thing about yourself and you can concentrate!

Question: What do you have to say about being a triple amputee and diet, nutrition, and food choices?

Answer: Being a triple amputee you don't have enough body surface to burn enough calories, though I seem to want as much food as everybody else. It's harder because I have to pay attention. One pound makes a difference on my body. I am more mobile (I hate being in a wheelchair) when I gain weight. I need to stay lean and I am inclined to overeat.

Question: What strategies have you used for not overeating?

Answer: I do better when you are on your program. I guess I need a nutrition-buddy. I know that you have changed everything about your eating in recent years, even though you've gained weight recently. You seem to be back in the groove. I remember when you told me that you discovered apples and that there were so many varieties. I remember you introducing blueberries, strawberries, and cherries into our lives. I forgot -- I still like to eat blueberries in the car on the way to school -- when they don't cost $6.00/box.

Question: What have you noticed that changed about my eating?

Answer: When you are eating "in the groove", you are not tired when you come home from work. You have more energy and smile more. You have energy to cook a healthy dinner and at the table with us and talk. I notice that you eat apples and eat protein and vegetables and sprouted grains. I notice that you don't skip breakfast. I also notice that you get enough sleep and make sure that we do too. I am a night owl, but if I get enough sleep, I can control my eating better. The main thing that I notice about you when you are "in the groove" is that you enjoy cooking and baking breads. When I think about it, I think we have changed everything about the way we eat. We don't go out much either but when when we do, I usually eat something pretty healthy.

Question: What do you think we need to work on as a family?

Answer: We need exercise. I like it when put a walking or "disco-abs" video on the fitness channel on t.v. You have promised to do it today and I'm holding you to it.

Question: How long have we been thinking and talking about food, nutrition, health and exercise?

Answer: We started a long time ago and got smarter as we learned more and experimented.

Question: Do you feel like you know about food and nutrition? What do you think kids shoulc know?

Answer: I think that food affects us. If we choose the right foods, we can choose the effect that food has on us. If you are a kid, and you are hanging with a friend, and you want to have enough energy to have fun and feel okay the next day, you have more fun if you are not burdened with your body trying to cope with bad foods.

Question: Do you feel that you can live with nutritious foods and keep your weight down and be happy? Does food affect your happiness?

Answer: You can be happy and eat healthy foods at the same time. You know you are making really good decisions. But I struggle with giving up to sugar. My body reacts to starchy, sugary foods and so does my mind. If I am upset, I want the comfort of the wrong food. You and I are the members of the family that have the hardest time with that. I do know that a little table sugar is not the problem; it's the sugar syrup made from corn that is in everything that really makes me tired after I eat it.

Question: What do you understand about the breads that we use as a family?

Answer: I know that you buy Ezekial breads and Alvarado St. Bakery breads. I remember you being excited because we could buy those breads here without having to order them. You still order sprouted brown rice for us and it is a great fast breakfast. I almost forgot about that.

Question: Do you notice any difference in the time of year and what you like to eat or think about eating?

Answer: What do you mean?

My Answer: I mean, do you like different in the winter and in the summer? Does your craving for something change with the seasons?

Answer: I think that in the winter I get hungrier and less active. In the winter I like "clementines" and put them in my lunch.

Question: What do you know about calories and their affect on weight?

Answer: Calories are a measurement of the energy burning level of foods. I think that is what it is. Most people with all of their arms and legs need to think about calories as if they have a calorie bank account. In my case, I'm not sure how many calories I need, but I think I need about 3/4 of what a person with all of their arms and legs need. I probably need about 1200 calories if I am active. But I have to experiement because I don't fit the norm.

Question: What do you notice about other kids your age and how they eat? What do you observe?

Answer: Kids don't eat healthy foods. They drink pop. They bring bags of candy and chips to school. One girl at my school asks me to buy her a cookie; she frequently doesn't have a lunch with her. I don't know why. I have bought lunches for people -- in my last school -- there were kids who were poor, but their parents wouldn't apply for free lunch.

Question: You seem to know alot about all of this. Does having knowledge help you and where did you learn all of this?

Answer: I learned if from you; you've been working this out for a long time. I think knowledge helps if you care about it and if you get the knowledge when you are young and active. But I think food is a hard thing to understand and work with.

My answer: You are right about that. Thank you for doing this interview. I am going to interview as many of my kids as will put up with it -- and you know that is a bunch of kids.

Question: How much do you it matters to fix, prepare, and eat food at home? You seem to love to do that? Would you talk about that?

Answer: Fixing food is nicer. I like to fix homemade food. It always tastes better. More and more I don't like the taste of restaurant food. It all has too much salt. I like to cook anyway. I like to be the person to cook and see how it comes out. I like knowing what is in it when I fix it. I think people could watch less television and fix more food. I used to get mad at you about restricting television, but I know that reading is better. T.V. is like food; it makes us tired. We just aren't doing the same things that most everyone else does and sometimes I think we are boring.

Final Question: What did you eat for breakfast before we did this interview?

Answer: I didn't eat anything. I slept late.

My answer: Okay. I'm going to heat up the oatmeal right now! Well, it's late so maybe you can fix us both one of your famous omelettes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day.

Today is the 2nd of February. The last several weeks have been defined by the snow, ice, closed schools, icy roads, and disruption of the Connecticut winter. This is our first winter here with no frame of reference. It has been beautiful and treacherous. I feel strange which my routine is disrupted. On snow days my calles start in the very early morning -- decisions with key staff about whether to close the office of not. I've moved work to my kitchen table an given the morning forecase, have never taken it all back to the office entirely. A group of us has put a Food Policy Council together for the region,. We are moving quickly to structure this work which I love. The people I work with are particularly wonderful to know and to learn from. There is a constant exchange of information and ideas. In ways that we don't understand ourselves, the work is being one with joy and synergy.

I started today reading the new post from, "The Daily Diary of a Willing Loser." Sean Anderson who had so many followers has stopped blogging daily and I ave been really lonesome for his very natural and insightful writing. Why does a blogger like Sean Anderson or Kenz from "All the Weigh" and others attract a following? What separates one blogger from another? Design? I think that has something to do with it. Sean's blog was always simple and it was about him and his journey -- it had no bells and whistles or contrivances; it still doesn't. It features good writing, pictures of Sean, food, family and events. It was and is congruent and easy to follow. And yet -- this man's story has intrigued thousands of people. His art is knowing how to write "just enough" about anything outside of the core of the blog's reason for being: Sean's ability to become a healthy and fit 229 lb. man after having weighed over 500 lbs. for many years.

His followers have cried over his divorce, worried about him, and have followed his amazing weight loss with the hope that they too might be successful and find a path to normalcy and health. Sean has always been himself. He has focused his blog on weight loss and he has never gone past appropriate boundaries re: letting his following into his personal life. We know that he dates and that he faced divorce early in his weight loss journey. We know that he has sleep apnea and has had some sleep studies. We worry about him feeling depressed that his weight loss didn't cure the sleep issue. We worry about him suddenly not feeling satisfied with his weight loss. But the details are about his approach to diet and he reminds us over and over through his personal life and days that just setting the rules and following got him down from over 500 lbs to his present 229 lb. weight.

Because his following knows how easy it is to fail, to return to old patterns of behavior, to regain the weight, to become isolated and ashamed. We check his blog looking for a sign that he is still holding fast to the program that has gotten him to today. But like recovering alcoholics, we know how easy it is to regree, to "slip" and to start eating compulsively again. We want him to be consistent and to stick to his daily blogs, but his success gives us strength, and hope. We know that if he can stay with his program, that we might be able to do so too. We have invested him with supernatural powers and are in awe of what he has done to save his own life. We are cheering him on as if we know him; and in some ways we do.

Other blogs are cluttered with TMI (too much information). Many of them are about not only a battle with addiction but include battles with depression, divorce, illness an pain. We know that Sean has faced all of those things, but his natural ability to transform himself while managing to stay focused gives us hope and simultaneously scares us to death.

I have a colleague and friend. We are working together on a food-related collaboration in the area which is about good nutrition. Both of us are healthy, but overweight women ith a history of gaining and losing. We have good humor about our history, but know that we have gained weight after losing it, which is the ultimate shame. It is, of ourse, a return to addiction. The addiction which causes overweight is complex. It's cure is daily discipline and a combination of nderstanding, physiological regulation(by eating the right foods in the right amount at the right time of day),and nutrition. It is not an addiction which goes away. It requires a discipline which has to be stronger than that used by the absolutely committed long-term, recovering alcoholic using an old-fashioned, no-excuses, 12 step program. It is sometimes a white knuckle process and learning to feel a bit uncomfortable and hungry for an hour is not the end of the world.

Addiction to food is psychological, cultural, social, and physiological. Our drugs come in many forms from a rich an abundant food culture which markets food.Our self-images comfort, and sense of ourselves is wrapped up in food: food cues, food comfort, food chemistry, and food habits. We are compulsive overeaters and that compulsion defines us and our lives and our ability to deal with addiction -- or not -- shapes who we are.

So I pray and hope that Sean Anderson will continue to lose weight and to develop fitness and that he will maintain his weight loss and his health for many years. And I hope that he will blog so that the rest of us can learn from him. But if he does not, I know that the work of "one day at a time" is the work of recovery and that facing food addiction, no matter how complex, is at the core of how I feel about myself, no matter what I do well or don't do so well in my life. And it is Groundhog day -- I have no idea if spring will come early or not. Today I will watch the ice and the snow and work to stay within a plan that has worked for me before: 1200 calorie, 5-6 small meals, and 30 minutes of exercise.

I have eaten a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal, a serving of 1% milk, a handful of raisins. Following that breakfast, I had a hard boiled egg for mid-morning snack. At noon I had 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and a sprouted wheat bagel. So far, so good. The need to eat 5 fruits and vegetables in a day still eludes me, so I will focus on those things for the rest of my "eating" day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17, 2010 - No Floundering!

I am a "lurker"--someone who visits blogs but really comments. I've been struck with the ups and downs of all of us in the WeightManagementOSphere. Basically since November 27, 2010 I've gained 3 lbs and the only thing I can say about that is that it is a miracle that I haven't gained 20. Pure and simple -- I need to take off 95-100 lbs. My knees would appreciate it. My self-esteem demands it. My daily practice must support it.

This morning I ate a perfect 300 calorie breakfast. I am sure that the next phase of this often halted journey will require meal to meal and time of day to time of day, minute to minute attention. I will not stop to beat myself up, makes excuses or even to try to analyze what happened. It's Monday morning and it is a holiday. I've eaten a perfect 300 calorie breakfast and I'm quite comfortable. It is also noon -- I slept really well last night and really late -- I woke up more relaxed and comfortable than in a long time and I have no explanation. Relaxed and comfortable is a good place to be when reconnecting with food, loving it, and eating delicious nutrious foods. I will log in again as the day progresses.

I've loaded My Food Diary on my iPhone. This is the season to get organized -- snow, ice, and school closings. So I have given myself a set of internal marching orders for today -- meditated this morning and went deeply into my center. I need my old sign which used to be a fish with bait on a hook being lowered into its mouth surrounded by a red circle and bisected with a slash. Below it the sign had two words printed on it, "No floundering." More a bit later about what that means to me. The definition of floundering in my family is somewhat different than that in the Urban Dictionary. It means flopping around, gasping for air, and being helpless. It means over-thinking, over-analyzing, over-planning, and setting too many goals. It means looking at things from more angles that it could possibly have. It means denial and excuses. Mostly it means making a lot of (sometimes sophisticated) excuses and justifying ridiculous behavior and in my case, addictionb. It means diverting oneself from the immediate situation by flopping around. And along with it's counterpart concept of "Not Taking the Bait", it is what I do when I am talking myself out of doing what needs to be done.

Just repeat after me -- "No Floundering."