Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

Unplugged Weekend

I admit that I am a technology junkie.

I love my computer. I love my iPad. I love checking email. I love the Internet.

I used to make fun of Michael for being a social media hound – that is until he bought me an iPhone of my own. Just so you know, I think that the jury is still out on the effects of the smart phone on the evolution of society. My mother wouldn’t let us sing at the dinner table, let alone check messages!

Anyway, we decided to take an unplugged weekend. The first thing we did was tell everyone that we normally talk to everyday that we were going to do it so that no one sent the state police checking up on us (that would be my family, by the way).

Then we literally unplugged the phone, turned off the wireless and hid all of the devices.

And you know what? No one died. Not even a single convulsion.

We talked, we slept, we made love, did yoga, hula hooped, listened to music. We went for a walk and tried a variety of chocolates.

We slept late.

It was glorious.

It was so glorious, in fact, that it may occur a little more regularly than say, never.

If you haven’t unplugged in awhile, try it. You might be surprised.

Because not only did I not miss it as much as I thought I would, the world didn’t fall apart without me. Go figure.

Mind Blowing: Leave Your Mis/Pre-Conceptions at the Door

Logically, I know that if we had to deal with all of the information that the world throws at us, we’d be insane. We are constantly bombarded by so much information that the brain really has no choice – other than insanity – to create little boxes and, in some cases, put people into them. Usually this is an okay strategy. Other times it can lead to misunderstandings and lost opportunities. All too often it can also lead to stigmatization, isolation, prejudice, and discrimination.

I was at a seminar last week to begin the fun and exciting process of becoming a Nuero-Linguistic Programming Practitioner. I have been going to similar seminars over the last year or so, with roughly the same group of people. Sometimes we learn about marketing. Other times we learn about teaching and learning. Once we learned about personality and personality types. Through it all, I’ve made friends with some of the other participants, while remaining aloof or withdrawn from others.

One of women in the latter group, I will call “S”.

S is, there really is no other way to describe it, drop-dead gorgeous. She’s literally one of these women that stops traffic in busy urban centers.

I’ve known her for close to a year. We’d always smile politely from across the seminar room or maybe even exchange pleasantries in the women’s room – me in my slacks and sweaters and her in her revealing dresses, short skirts, mesh tops, and leather boots. (You know, all of the stuff that I don’t have the personality to pull off even if I had the body!) Me with my hair pulled back tightly in the librarian-like bun and hers in a riot of curls that spills around her shoulders in a shockingly tantalizing manner.


Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.

Smoking Hot is another phrase that pops to mind, but I digress.

About two weeks before the last seminar, I got a friend request on Facebook from S and I spent a day (or more) trying to figure out why. I mean, sure, we’d had a couple of meaningless conversations in the bathroom during breaks, but why would she friend me? I mean, seriously, how did she even know who I was, let alone my name. I promptly determined that she had just seen my picture on someone else’s Facebook page and thought, “Why not?”

Feeling a little suspicious – because, after all, why would someone like her want to be friends with someone like me? – I accepted the invitation and assumed that would be the end of it.

A few days later, I posted a picture of myself on a carousal on Santa Monica pier and she commented: “Beautiful.”

I was flummoxed.

Secretly pleased, but flummoxed nonetheless.

During the seminar, I actually worked with S – not just once, but a few times.

We also chatted.

We also had real conversations about things that mattered and gradually I let my guard down.

And I realized that I really liked her and that maybe I had – in my super-judgmental mode – misjudged her.

Towards the end of the conference, she told me that she had always assumed that I would never be interested in talking to/working with/getting to know her because I had so much education and was a professor, whereas she was a massage therapist and had considerably less formal education than I. (Technically, most of the world does, but that’s besides the point!)

I laughed, because I had never once thought about her intellect – as I could never get past her staggering beauty. (Despite the fact that she is quite intelligent!)

Of course, I had to tell her that I always assumed the same thing – that I had been laboring under the illusion that she would never want to talk to/work with/get to know me, because I was so much less attractive than she.

(You know what “they” say about assumptions – they make an ass out of u and me.)

S and I ended up talking a little more until there were so many commonalities in our lives, that I literally burst into tears. And before I knew it I found myself in the arms of a woman who – three months ago – I had been so intimidated by, that I would barely even say hello to her in a public place.

How sad is that?

I am so glad that she decided to reach out to me. And I am very glad to call her my friend – or should I say, my drop, dead gorgeous, smokin’ hot, intelligent friend!

If there’s someone in your life that you are fascinated by but who you think “would never talk to you” for whatever reason – try it.

The worst thing that could happen is that you could be right.

The best thing, however, is that you could make a new friend and come to see them (and yourself) in a different light.

Treating your body as an equal

I was listening to an audio recording with wellness coach Jena LaFlamme, who posited, among other things, that in order for you to be successful in your weight release efforts, you have to learn to “treat your body as an equal.”

While I was still trying to figure out what that even meant, she went onto to point out we tend to blame our body for it’s failure to comply with the mind’s demands (i.e., to be thinner, to be healthier, to be stronger). That we try to force our body to do what we want it to do. That we, all to often, feel betrayed for our body for failing to meet our expectations.

Although I had been listening all along, when she used that word – the ugly b-word – I sat up and took notice.

How many times have I used that word in the last six months?

More importantly, how often have I said out loud (or thought without speaking, but that my body could hear nonetheless) that I just couldn’t trust my body.

Isn’t it funny that when my body is doing what I want it to do, I take full credit, but when it’s not (or rather, when I’m not) I blame my body. It only makes me feel marginally better that that’s the way it tends to go for most people. That is, we, as humans, tend to take all the credit for the successes and shirk all of the responsibility (that we can) for the failures.

I hadn’t realized however – that is, until I heard this recording – that I did the same with my body.

My willpower got the credit. My body, as if it weren’t actually a part of me, got the blame.

Pretty interesting, huh?

Pretty sad.

So, in the interest of facilitating my weight loss efforts and minimizing my tendency towards negative self-talk I am willing to accept the fact that there is two of us: the brain (which houses the willpower) and the body.

And I am also willing to entertain the notion that we need a relationship intervention.

And that means that I – that is, my brain, my willpower, my conscious thought (or whatever you want to call it) – is going to have to learn to treat my body as an equal. And that means that I am going to have to start listening to, start trusting, and stop betraying her.

I know that earlier in this post I said that I often felt betrayed by my body. So, if my body is the betrayer, then why would I have to work on not betraying her?

Well, when I started thinking of my body as an equal – even preliminarily – I realized that I (i.e., my mind) has been a worse friend to my body than my body has ever been to me. I’m the one that made the decisions to eat junk, to drink alcohol, to exercise to the point of injury (or not at all), to deprive us of sleep, etc. You name it – with the exception of a few truly dangerous and disgusting habits – I’ve done it.

And what has she done? Well, she’s got me where I want to go and she’s – thankfully – stored fat to protect me from all of the stress of my bad decision making. (For those of you who have been following my efforts at weight release, you probably realize how hard it was for me to actually put that last sentence into writing!)

So, in the interest of creating a true relationship with my body, who is my equal as opposed to being my possession that I can neglect, abuse, or blame at will, I will do my level best to listen, trust, honor, safeguard, nurture, and love.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to create lasting change in your life is through the use of positive affirmations – affirmations are statements that are positive, have an emotional intensity, and are written in the present tense. I will say these these – both morning and night – until, eventually, they’ll be true:

  • I listen to my body
  • I trust my body
  • I honor my body
  • I safeguard my body
  • I nurture my body
  • I love my body

Setting Goals and Seeking Support

I’ve decided to go about setting goals in a different way from here on out.

In the past, I used to set goals, like “I’m going to lose ten pounds” or “I’m going to get into a smaller pair of jeans.”

In other words, I used to set outcome goals.

I also used to set goals that didn’t really change. In other words, I would set a goal and that was my goal. There was no reassessment. Once it was set, it was set. Like cement.

I would also set goals that only I knew about. And trust me, those are much easier to forget about than those that you’ve shared with others.

This month, I’m trying something different.

I set a couple of goals – that is, a couple of process oriented goals – and they are my goals for the month of February.

I also didn’t just tell myself what my goals are. I told someone else and asked him to check up on me. Instant accountability! How scary, uhm, I mean, how wonderful is that? 🙂

And, believe it or not, it really wasn’t that hard. And the good news is that since they’re my goals for the month (rather than for a lifetime) I can assess myself in terms of my progress. I can either renew the goal or (if it’s become a habit or if it no longer serves me) I can choose another.

The day before yesterday I called Michael J from work and said, “I’d like to talk to you about some fitness goals at dinner and I’d like you to help me succeed. Would that be okay?”

Of course he agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t? It wasn’t like I was asking him to join me or anything? Right?

Essentially, we set down and I said: these are my goals for this month and I would like you help me be accountable.

He – engineer and wonderful partner that he is – actually wrote them down on a note card, which he then stuck promptly beneath the salt cellar.

I thanked Michael J for being totally awesome and supportive and then – like the absent minded professor that I am – promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to last night at dinner: “Hey babe,” says Michael J, “how much water did you have today?”

What?! My knee jerk reaction: What’s it to you?!

Then I looked at the little card that he had in his hand with three enumerated points on it:

Drink at least 80 ounces of water a day.

Do yoga at least 3 times a week, even if it’s just 30 minutes.

Take vitamins every day.

Only slightly embarrassed, I did a quick calculation: “Seventy-five,” I replied gratefully, “and I imagine it’s probably going to take at least another five to take those vitamins that I forgot to take at breakfast!”

So, those are my three goals for the month of February: water, yoga, and vitamins.

I’m hoping that what “they” say is true and that it really does only take 30 days to make something a habit. Because, trust me, when I am doing these three things regularly without having to stop and think about them, there are plenty of more small, process-oriented goals ready to take their place…..

But until then, I have Michael J and his trusty note card.

By the way, if you’re reading: thanks, babe, you truly are the best.

Can Someone Help Me Deal With Well-Intentioned Skinny People?

Or, rather, my reaction to them.

I am really not bashing skinny people – after all, I want to be one of them, right?

But if another well-intentioned skinny person comments on the quantity of food that I eat, I may scream.

I sat down to a meal recently with a friend of mine and brought out three raw cabbage roles (made with beet and carrot slaw and cashew cheez). All total, that meal had 255 calories in it, max.

My companion exclaims: “Wow, that’s a lot of food!”

I immediately get offended.

I remind them of how it annoyed me when my other friend had made a similar comment about my (“Wow, that’s a lot of smoothie”) Green Smoothie. I then defensively (and this was probably my mistake) pointed out that it only had X many calories and was extremely healthy.

“Oh, I get that,” they responded. “I just couldn’t eat that much food. My stomach’s just not that big.”


In less than 2 seconds I went from someone who was feeling pretty darned good about herself physically, to feeling like the 800 pound guy in the pie eating contest at the county fair.

I literally got sick to my stomach and pushed the food away. At that moment, you couldn’t have paid me to eat that food. I seriously thought I was going to throw up.

Luckily, my friend and I are very close and they are incredibly supportive of me. In fact, we were able to resolve it pretty quickly, even though my appetite never did come back.

Essentially, once I was able to breathe, I was able to tell them what was wrong (and why I wasn’t eating).

I first expressed my anger and annoyance.

I also mentioned how strange I think it is that people (and it happens a lot) comment on what I eat. And, because I do admittedly eat large portions of super low calorie food, the amount.

I also asked, quite pointedly, when’s the last time they heard me comment when they have McDonald’s fries or 1/2 a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (or both)?

I also expressed my hurt and even used the 800 lb. guy at the pie eating contest as an example.

Then I expressed my deepest and most irrational fear: is that what you (and everyone else) think of me when you see me sit down and eat a big plate of SALAD?

And then my other deepest fear, that is, granted, slightly less irrational: if I get judged for eating lots of healthy food (by volume, not calories) by my friends, then how am I supposed to feel good about adopting a lifestyle that (by definition) requires that you always have food – lots of food – with you, wherever you go?

Has anyone else come across this? And, if so, what’s the best way around it with everyone’s dignity in tact?

P.S. Now, admittedly, I did razz my father some over the holidays about eating bologna and white dinner rolls, though (at the time) I saw it more as a health issue than as a food issue! Note to self: call your father and apologize.

Is Obesity Contagious?

Some scholars say yes. According to recent research, having one friend become obese – even if they live a thousand miles away – nearly triples your likelihood of also becoming obese! Interesting stuff! Maybe we should start buying our friends gym memberships instead of taking them out to dinner or bringing cookies into the office!

I actually saw Dr. Christakis, professor at Harvard University, give a talk on this last year at Dartmouth. The data was quite compelling and more than a little bit frightening for those of us who like to think of ourselves as being in control of our own destinies.

Light and “lively” entertaining: simple dinner party ideas

MJ and I love to throw dinner parties. Typically, we end up cooking Indian food or something else that’s equally complicated or heavy.

Last night we had people over and I decided to go simple.

1) I didn’t have all day to prepare (it was sort of last minute on everyone’s part)
2) Our guests, while foodies, tend to be more snackers than big meal type of people
3) I’ve been working really hard to get my body back from it’s unnatural post-vacation state and I didn’t feel like having a big meat-, carb-, or sauce-heavy meal was going to get me there any sooner.

I really wish I had taken a picture to show you how gorgeous this ended up being. And, more importantly, I can’t even explain how easy it was to put together.

Essentially, we had a local food party. It consisted of freshly picked spinach and arugula, mushrooms, yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, tabbouleh (made with fresh mint and parsley), roasted golden beets, heirloom tomatoes, raw organic almonds (okay, not so local), locally baked bread, locally made cheese (one goat and one made from raw cow’s milk) organic extra virgin olive oil, baba ganoushe and hummus from the local Coop, corn on the cob, and some Quinoa Peruvian Stew that I happened to have in the fridge.

Instead of making a salad, I put out everything in multicolored mix-matched bowls that facilitated not only custom meals, but also easy snacking.

I served the snacky stuff on a wooden tray table out on the deck (before it got chilly and we were forced to move indoors for the main course, which was comprised of the tabbouleh, the stew (served in tiny little bowls) and the corn.

I also served the wine, which meant that I controlled the pours. Since MJ and I are in the process of tasting some of the wine we bought in Mendocino, I did have a single glass of each of the bottles; however, I split the difference between MJ and our guests. Everyone was happy. And because there were so many vegetables (all of which tasted great with the wine), it was easy to munch without feeling bad about it or (God forbid) feeling deprived!

It was really delicious and really easy. Normally when I invite people over, I always think that you have to really do something hard or impressive. Though, in all fairness, that’s probably because I’m a bit shy and would rather be in the kitchen instead of in the conversation.

This time. with a few exceptions, we ate what we normally eat: salad, soup, corn, and sometimes (though not often) bread. Granted, we normally don’t have goat cheese or wine with dinner, but we were having guests. Although I enjoy the big dinner party, there was something nice about just having someone over for a meal. In some ways, it’s way more intimate, as you’re inviting someone for the company, not necessarily the food. It was also easier for me to just enjoy the evening.

So next time you invite someone over, keep it simple. Put your energy into the conversation and put the preparation on the back burner. And if you have other simple entertaining strategies, please pass them on!


Photo Credit: Rock Walker

Fourth of July with MJ’s parents

Another holiday, another family cookout.

This time, however, when I saw MJ’s dad, the first words out of this mouth were, “I got you some Boca Burgers and some other type of veggie burger. I also bought organic wheat rolls.”

I was absolutely floored. Touched, but floored.

So, armed with my signature tabouli and MJ’s parents veggie burgers (and some very tasty pickles and olives), I was good to go for completely angst free family cookout.

Thanks, Mr. Y! The burgers were delicious!

Family insights — it’s not enough to want it

Last week, while visiting my parents, we went to a family funeral. The deceased was the mother of my mother’s sister’s husband. Or, to put it another way, she was the grandmother of my cousins, though she, herself, was not my grandmother.

The last time I saw some of these cousins — sadly enough — was at our grandfather’s funeral last August.

There, at the wake, one my cousins, referred to me as Skinny Minnie — in a good way. And she kept eying me suspiciously and mouthing: How did you get so skinny?

Well, that was 10 months and probably close to 15 pounds ago.

This time she came up to me and said, “I would love to be as thin as you.”

I smiled, thanked her for the lovely compliment and then said. “It’s not that hard, but it is a daily chore.”

And, she smiled — though hers didn’t quite meet her eyes — and sighed. “But it requires a degree of self-discipline that I just don’t have.”

My gut level reaction, which often gets me into trouble, was: Then you don’t want it bad enough!

But, given that she had just lost her third grandparent in less than a year, I kept my mouth shut.

I’ve thought a lot about that exchange. I’ve thought about why it is that some people (myself included) have decided that it’s no longer acceptable to be overweight (often to an unhealthy degree), whereas others are willing to live with it even though they want to change. I’ve also realized that some people just don’t care. Even though they are heavy, if not morbidly obese, they are seemingly okay with their limited physical ability and (in some cases) their deteriorating health.

Essentially, our exchange reminded me that it’s not enough to simply want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. My cousin wanted to weigh less, but she didn’t want to have to do anything to make it happen.

When I first started this leg of my weight release program — about three years ago, when I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now — someone (that is, Tony Robbins) gave me this piece of advice.

1. Set a real goal that is motivating. Don’t just say you want to lose 10 pounds, because that’s not compelling. Say you want to lose 20 pounds of fat so that you stop having knee problems.

2. Make it a must! This means that you make decisions regarding your health and fitness that are every bit as binding as the decisions that my cousin makes when running her business or raising her child. You have to convince yourself that if you don’t do it, then something disastrous is going to occur — that is, your physical equivalent of bankruptcy! For me, it was the fear of knee replacement and/or carrying that 40 pounds into my forties. For others, it may be the nightmare of hypertension or diabetes.

3. Take quick and decisive action. As soon as you define that clear and compelling goal, take immediate action! It could be something like joining a gym, calling a friend and telling them that you’re going to lose 30 pounds of fat come hell or high water, joining Weight Watchers, or starting a new exercise program. But do something immediately! Do anything! Don’t just make the goal and hope it will happen, because that’s not doing, that’s wishing!

It’s not enough to want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. Hopefully, when my cousin’s ready — if she ever gets ready — she’ll set a goal, make it compelling, and do something about it. Because, truly, it’s the only thing that’s going to get you where you want to be.


Thanks to a dissent from a reader, it’s also occurred to me to add that you don’t have to want it.

It’s perfectly fine to like yourself the way you are. In fact, it’s probably the best way to go.

Not everyone needs to be thin; in fact, being thin or skinny (God forbid) was never a particular goal of mine. However, regardless of size, I do think that people should try their hardest to be as fit as possible given their own particular set of circumstances.

Overview of the trip with the folks

I’ve been rereading my last couple of posts and it’s all about the food.

But the trip really was about lot more than that. It was nice to hang in my parents’ world for a while. And, equally important, they got to hang out in (or at least glimpse into) mine. Every morning I got up and exercised. Mostly long walks (ranging anywhere from an hour to an hour and half — or from 400 to 520 calories, depending on the temperature). But, on more than one occasion, my mother watched while I did K-bell Total Body Blast in her living room; my father, on the other hand, merely shook his head and headed outside.

I made them tabouli and salad. I hung with them. I hung with old friends. Mother and I went shopping, at malls as well as at garage scales. She didn’t say a word when I bought a pretty fitted pair of trousers for her to give me as a not only as a Christmas present, but as a fairly serious piece of leverage to see me through the summer and the fall holidays. She also didn’t say a word, other than it was nice, when I bought my first ever skimpy, spaghetti strap halter top. Well, she did ask if I’d ever really wear it!

From a diet/exercise perspective, it wasn’t that bad; in fact, it was actually quite good. Part of what made it so great is that my parents didn’t make any judgments whatsoever about what I ate. If I stuck to salad and shakes they were fine with it. When I ate close to 1/2 lb of brisket, they didn’t say anything either. They didn’t accuse me of being obsessive or compulsive or annoying when I passed on the wine and cheese at dinner. Nor did they accuse me of wrecking my diet when I had two martinis. In other words, they were great! Thanks guys! They also didn’t razz me about my appearance. They didn’t say that I needed to eat more or that I was too skinny, like they have done in the past. They also didn’t comment if they thought I was looking a little rounder around the edges than I’d been when I’d arrived. They were very accepting. And their acceptance made being there — being with them — being myself — that much easier.

In sum, I had a great time and I know just where I’ll be applying my free round trip ticket from United!

An old friend and new patterns

Yesterday, I spent the day with a tweenage friend that I hadn’t seen since highschool (and even then we hadn’t been close since junior high). We reconnected on Facebook.

Because of my evening of over-indulgence the night before, I got up, did k-bells Total Body Blast (again, it’s a much more serious workout in the heat — yielding a 220 calorie burn instead of the 170 that I usually manage at home) and made a shake — destroying my parent’s blender in the process. Oh, how I miss my Blend-tec! Luckily my mother had a spare blade, so she wasn’t too annoyed!

When my friend arrived, we immediately went for a walk! Keep in mind that we hadn’t spoken in at least 20 years! The activity was good. We walked (and talked) for about an hour and 20 minutes, burning 520 calories in the process. Not a bad way to get reacquainted. We both showered and then went and hit the streets.

We browsed, chatted, shopped in boutiques where we would never actually buy anything. We had lunch (a veggie wrap with feta in a spinach tortilla and salad for me) and wandered around some more. Then, partly because it was so hot, we went to the mall. And because I knew she’d have no reason to lie to me, we went and tried on bathing suits. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had on a bathing suit! And, much to my surprise, they looked pretty good. Granted, I stuck to the one pieces, but they weren’t bad. There was one that was very 1930’s Hollywood starlit-esque with a tiny little skirt and a heart shaped neck. We both agreed that I needed a pair of stilletos and a big tray from which to sell cigarettes! I decided that it wasn’t practical as I was looking for for something to wear swimming (not selling). Although I didn’t buy anything, it was fun! It was also good to have someone there with me who challenged my initial preferences and urged me to take a second look at things I wouldn’t normally try. It was also good to go with someone who doesn’t really know my style, but it going on looks alone.

We when then went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, where I had exactly what I wanted: Pork Carnitas and a frozen marguarita. Not the healthiest choice, but it was a choice, as opposed to the out of control bienging from the day before. It was also absolutely delicious.

I’m heading back home today. Part of me is relieved that I am leaving the land of bar-be-que and frozen margaritas, but the other part will miss it — not the food and the drinks, but the people, the friends, and (believe it or not) the heat. There is something wonderful about the heat, especially when an unexpected breeze offers a much-appreciated moment of relief.

Falling off the food wagon

The last couple of days have been more indicative of family vacations, I’m afraid.

Ironically, it wasn’t even them. It was all me.

Monday, we were off for an unexpected family funeral that was scheduled at 2:00 p.m. I got up, went for a walk, had a shake, packed up some blueberries and that was it. And although my mother has a medical condition that requires that food be readily available, my parents hadn’t packed anything else either. At some point my Dad said, “Why didn’t you bring one of those little bags of carrots you’re always carrying around?”

Good question.

Bad answer: Poor planning on my part!

As it turns out, my Aunt lives truly in the middle of nowhere and we were having lunch after the funeral (that is, dinner), not before.

Luckily I had a Dark Chocolate Zone Bar in my purse.

The funeral ran long (as they often do when held in a church in the south). We stopped at a gas station, where I scrounged a bottle of V-8 juice and a bag of Baked Lay’s. Has anyone ever noticed how Baked Lay’s taste like cardboard?

Back to the story: it was also as hot as hell and when we got to my Aunt’s (along with 30 other people), the air conditioning was out and she still insisted on frying fish and potatoes, making it officially hotter than hell! These were to accompany the pork roast, the brisket (no more brisket, please!), the pork and beans, the spiral ham, the brownies, the cake, and her world famous chocolate cream and coconut cream pie. Not a vegetable (other than corn on the cob swimming in butter to be found).

Luckily, it was literally too hot to eat. Though I did try a sliver of chocolate pie; it’s still as good as when I was a child.

We got home at 8:30. I made a shake, went to a friend’s house (the friend that I was supposed to have had dinner with). We ended up going to a local pub, where, still ravenous, I had two dirty martinis and split an appetizer with her of her choice, which turned out to be a thin crust, wood fired pizza. Not so bad, though I probably should have skipped the second martini.

It was when I got home at midnight that it went even further south. I bienged. It was unbelievable: icecream, lavash with hummus, and tabouli (not in that order). When I finally forced myself out of the kitchen, I felt disgusting, and not unlike I was about thirteen again!

But, unlike the thirteen yeat old I once was, I at least realized what went wrong.

Poor planning and inadequate nutrition leads to poor dietary choices. I was also tired and even though the person that died wasn’t a close relative (she was my mother’s sister’s husband’s mother), there was something about the funeral, the energy, and being around my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins, that set off my desire to emotionally eat. It also may have something to do with the fact that everytime I come home, it seems, we’re going to a funeral. In fact, this one was unplanned, but I had had the foresight to toss in a skirt. Maybe it’s the fact that my parents are getting older and I’m afraid that the next time might be them. Whatever it was, it was an ugly combination for food. And I’m sure that the inhibition olive dressed libation didn’t help either.

A two thousand calorie day

Happy Father’s Day! In my family, Father’s Day means that Daddy gets to pick. Luckily, my diet plan recommends that every once and a while, I break 2,000 calories, just to make sure my metabolism doesn’t stall. The last time it happened was June 6th. I think today may be another one of those days.

I overslept and instead of going for a walk (grumble), my mother and I took my father to IHop (a/k/a International House of Pancakes). Fortunately, they do have nutritional information available on line (and some on their menu). I preselected the buckwheat pancakes at 110 calories each. Of course, when we got there, all they were offering that were even close were the Harvest Nut and Grain pancakes, at 180 calories each. Unfortunately, they only came in stacks of four or in two, accompanied by two eggs and two pieces of sausage.

When I hesitated while ordering the waitress, in an unusual moment of insight, said, “You can get a half order if you want.”

Hallelujah! How she knew that I only wanted two (because if they were there I would have eaten them) is beyond me. But I left her a very generous tip! I had them hold the butter and to bring the maple syrup in a dish on the side. This way, I dipped the corner of each bit into the syrup, only using about a 16th of what they actually brought me. It was great.

We then went on the road — I packed a bag of baby carrots and a couple of apples, because I knew that I would be hungry after eating an all carb breakfast (despite that walnuts and oats in the pancakes). And for lunch, we landed at another one of my dad’s favorite hangouts: Rudy’s Bar-B-Que.

Between the three of us, we ordered a pound of lean brisket (which is not so lean unfortunately, weighing in at a whopping 1232 calories per pound) and a half pound of sliced turkey (which yielded a much more modest 226 calories). Thank god there were leftovers, but I definitely ate more than my fair share. We also had corn on the cob, three bean salad, and coleslaw (nutrients available on menu). Maybe it was being into such propinquity of a large number of pieces of pig themed art that did it. Anyway, it was very good. But not only was it a highly caloric expenditure, it was not even properly combined! All and all, an abysmal diet choice, but a great Father’s Day experience for my Dad (especially because the U.S. Open was on as background).

Before I came home, I had been very concerned about my parents’ reactions to my new physique (they have actually been quite complimentary [though my Dad liken me to a quail wing]). I was also worried about the food challenges, but so far so good. And while I’ve been careful during the entire trip, I have done my best to not be annoying. Today, however, I decided that I’d do what they wanted to do with no complaints. It’s his day, not mine. It’s only one day. And, on occasion, the social connection is worth the calories.

Dinner is supposed to be a light meal of wine and cheese; I think I’ll stick with hummus, tabouli, and my favorite lavash (that I had shipped to my parents’ beforehand)!

And as soon as the temperature dips below 90, I’m going for a long, brisk walk!

Men’s Health

Every year, MJ comes home with a “popular magazine” as his way of tuning into what’s going on in the world. Last year it was Cosmo (which we read together on the couch and laughed so hard we couldn’t take it anymore)! Thank God mother never let us have that in the house. Harlequin Romances, yes. Cosmo, no.

This year, it was Men’s Health, which, as it turns out, is the male version of Cosmo. Seriously, it was all about sex, nutrition, and exercise. And, more to the point, the headlines were almost identical: 125 Best Foods for Men, No-Diet Weight Loss Plan, 30 Red-Hot Sex Secrets, Strip Away Stress, 7 New Rules of Money & Women, Great Abs Made Easy, Melt Away Pounds! 15-Minute Fat Burners, Look Your Best Now! Interestingly, they also have a number of “Short Order Cook Recipes.” They’re obviously designed to impress a date, but they look pretty good. There are also a couple of other random tips in there that I may pass on later.

But the most interesting thing in there by far was an article — that looks like it be part of a series — called, It Works for Me: Master Your Domain.

This segment, or this month’s feature, was on actor Tyrese Gibson.

“Tyrese Gibson, star of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, gained weight and lost motivation. To right himself, he first had to change everything around him.”

On Maintenance:

“He lost his sense of consequence, he says. It’s easy to do: Accomplish something and your attitude can go from I’m working hard for this to This is mine. Do that and you’ve already failed. A boss doesn’t promote you because you did work hard. A woman doesn’t love you because you were devoted to her. They want you in the present and future tense. They expect you from here on in to work hard, to be devoted. Start coasting and you roll backward.”

On Modeling:

“We men have to put our pride and egos and just say, ‘You know what? I need help,'” Gibson says. “Bring something to the table. To somebody who has the keys to whatever door you’re trying to go through, say, ‘Look, man, I have five keys of my own, but I’m trying to figure out how to get these other keys.’

Think of of it this way: Every man is surrounded by better men. A man who’s more financially secure than you are can teach you something, and chances are he can learn something from you. So approach him. Collaborate. Successful men aren’t symbols of your inferiority; they’re examples worth engaging.”

On Upgrading Your Peer Group:

“The five people you spend most of your time with will dictate how far your life and career will go. Slobs will make you a slob. Gibson loved fried calamari, and he had friends who bought it for him all the time. But if you’re friends work hard and eat right, you’ll be embarrassed to eat fried anything around them.

It isn’t easy to switch friends. Gibson knows that. It took him months: less time with this person, more time with that one. Scoops of fried calamari gave way to scoops of tuna on lettuce, now his regular lunch. Guys at the gym taught him new exercises. He runs five miles a day on a treadmill. He lifts regularly.”

I liked this for a number of reasons. One, it reinforces things I already know, which is always good. But, two, this series also gives us a chance to model someone who has been there. As embarrassing at it may sound, something tells me that I may have to start spending more time at Borders lurking in the magazine section!

Memorial Day with MJ’s Parents

As noted before, I have struggled with how to deal with my eating preferences and other people — especially when I’ve been invited to their homes.

This holiday weekend, we were invited over for the typical family Bar-b-Que, with steak, chicken, elk, potato salad, baked beans, and beer.

I packed up a huge bowl of tabouli (or, tabbouleh, which is the proper spelling), some veggie burgers, and some Arnold’s Multi-grain Sandwich Thins. I tossed my burgers on the grill and no one said a thing, other than I’d waited too long and therefore didn’t get to start eating when everyone else did! But that’s okay; they were still at it when I got there and there was still plenty to go around.

I even tasted the elk and the steak — both were delicious. But more to the point, everyone loved the tabouli and I got to eat exactly what I wanted!

For dessert, I passed on the Ben & Jerry’s, the Key Lime Pie, and the Strawberries and Angel Food Cake. I fixed a really strong cup of Raspberry Zinger tea and curled up on the couch for some quiet conversation. I’ll write more about my new relationship with tea later!

The first couple of times I approached family meals this way, I felt awkward. However, now that I’ve been consistent, people don’t seem to find it strange. Instead, it’s “just the way KJ eats.”

So, give it a try. It may be awkward at first (or it might not be). But as you stick to it, it simply becomes the way things are…just like the person who doesn’t like fruity fruit or, god forbid, beets.

Finding Balance Between Friends and Food

In one of my classes, I spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about the emotional significance of food and how people tend to organize their social relations around food. You’d think that if I am teaching this stuff, that I’d know a way around it. But, alas, I do not.

The night I skipped my friend’s 60th birthday party at a local pub/restaurant in favor of going home and grabbing a salad, I realized that I have yet to find balance between friends and food. When I am not as serious about how I am fueling my body, it’s easy — I tend to spend more time eating with friends. Incidentally, however, those are the periods where I am also most likely to backslide on my goals. And, just so you know that I’m not the only one, research shows that people routinely eat a lot more calories –up to six times as many! — when they’re eating out and/or when eating with groups!

When I hunker down and get serious about diet, I tend to withdraw socially, as I have yet to find that balance between food and friends. One, I don’t often feel comfortable being grilled about my food choices — which consist, shockingly enough — of mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, legumes, and soy-based products. Two, I don’t feel comfortable by the way that friends all too often defend their choices to me, as if I am sitting there silently acting as judge and jury — which I am not. I don’t want to be judged for what I eat, so I am certainly not going to do it to anyone else! And, three, typically I meet friends and restaurants or at their homes, where I have less control of the ingredients used, amounts served, etc. And, again, a look at any restaurant menu that also provides nutritional information will tell you just how full of pitfalls eating out can be! Even something as seemingly innocuous as a weight management salad! Just as an aside, does this mean you can’t order one if you don’t need to manage your weight? What if you just happen to like salad? And, FYI, if you’re trying to limit your calories to 1200 (or even 1500) a day, seeing that the only thing on the menu that even resembles a real meal is “below 590 calories” is not reassuring!

Anyway, so what are my options — other than staying home? I suppose I could just go and not eat, but it feels strange sitting there drinking water while others are drinking margaritas and having dinner. To me, that seems even worse than not going. Do you go, touch base with everyone at the table, and then make excuses for why you’re not staying? Or do you just do your homework ahead of time (assuming that the nutritional information is available), pick the lesser of all evils, and live with the consequences?

And, for obvious reasons, having dinner at friends’ houses — where they are providing you a real offering — provides even more socio-emotional challenges, but more on that later!

This is something that I still struggle with — usually opting for food over friends. But this is not a sustainable answer to the problem. It’s certainly not a sustainable approach to friendship given the cultural weight we put on (no pun intended) “breaking bread.”

Anyway, I’d love to hear how other people handle it! How do you do it?

A Note from a Friend

What are Friends For? Passed on by my office accountability buddy! Thanks Misagh.