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Secrets. If you can’t tell the Internet, who can you tell?

November 10, 2017

Therapy looks different for different people. For some, it’s yoga, for others, it’s cigarettes and gossip. It might be an emergency session with a legitimate counselor or a vigorous hike or a bottle of red. For me, it’s these keys. This space. You guys are at all of my therapy sessions. Sometimes I sit down at my computer and I can almost instantly feel the weight of my burdens give way. Like a bra coming off after a 12-hour day, just the thought of being brutally honest about what ails me can be so freeing. But not today. Today, this post is scary and embarrassing, and I feel heavy just sorting through the words that might appear on this screen.

As you know if you follow DSS, I just had my 35th birthday. It was lowkey and sweet, both figuratively and literally. Those who spend any real time with me, know the key to my heart comes baked, frosted and coated in chocolate. My mom got me a necklace, gift card and seven candy bars. My birthday party (an event I share every year with my nephew) didn’t disappoint, as I blew out a candle nestled in a white cupcake topped with decadent whipped frosting, my favorite. My girlfriends from work took me to lunch and passed a superhero bag across the table. Inside, I found my favorite bath salts, a heavenly scented candle and three bars of dark chocolate.

The irony was lost on everyone but me. Because I am in on the secret. And now you will be, too.

While I’ve lightheartedly documented my suspicions here before, I am fairly certain that I have some food addiction issues. It seems so small, right? Inconsequential and petty. Dramatic maybe. It’s silly to assume that a grown woman would be incapable of practicing moderation. That she would compare a simple sweet tooth to true, uncontrollable compulsive behavior. But staring at the bag, with a superhero emblem on the front and my greatest weakness inside, I had to face the fact that none of this is funny or small anymore. Food is my heroin, my whiskey, my cocaine. It is destroying my body and wreaking havoc on my soul.

I often find myself hazy, drunk on additives and refined, racy treats peeled from brightly colored wrappers. I celebrate with chocolate. I mourn with cakes and cookies. I string the hours at my desk together with a licorice rope adorned with syrupy popcorn balls. I fight stress with frozen delicacies, named mint chip and cookie dough. I reward with cocoa-coated almonds and lean into lazy with a bowl of sweet cereal for dinner. I reach to find food in every high and scoop it up in every low.

And I guess most people would argue that it’s normal. Because in our culture, it kind of is. We eat too much, we joke about it, and then we have a salad to make up for it the next day, followed by a cookie that afternoon. It feels like balance and looks like trouble. But that’s the game. It’s a merry-go-round of too much and not enough, and we all have a generous roll of tickets.

From a 30,000-foot view, I’m checking the boxes. I’m doing it right. I work out at least 5 days a week. I pin vegan recipes and shop on Thrive Market. I obsess about curating all of the things my ultra-healthy alter ego is going to need for her ultra-healthy life. But it’s aspirational. All of it. I am planning meals for a person who doesn’t yet exist.

“You look fine!” people say, when I groan about my binges or complain about my weight. But I don’t feel fine.

I’ve been fighting the scale for months now. About two years ago, 11 months after I had Sloppy Joan, I made it back to my pre-baby weight. I was running, going to classes at the gym, tracking my calories. I was making the smart sacrifices you make to get your shit together. And I got there. But then, I got comfortable. And comfortable for me, is sugar and those simple, simple carbs. But it’s not just a little sweet here and a little apple fritter there. It’s disgusting, mindless gluttony.

A lot of people love food. I get it. Clearly I love it, too. But love, as many of us know, can be pretty twisted. It can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. It can consume you and blind you and make you sick. As so many loved ones pointed out last week, I’m flying toward 40. I don’t want to go into the next chapter of my life flailing and foggy.

I smoked for years (I know, gasp!). I can remember sitting in my garage and having these tough conversations with myself. About how I was killing myself, and paying a lot of money to do it. Every pack was “my last pack” and every Sunday night was the Sunday night before the Monday morning when it all went away. But what I didn’t realize, was that I never gave the substance enough credit. I underestimated everything about those little white bastards. I always thought I was stronger. And, in the end, I was, but it took years and years and countless attempts to find that strength. Because I loved those cigarettes. And only now can I see that love for the twisted lie it was.

But this time, I can call this by name. I can see this cycle as addiction rather than a harmless romantic indulgence. I know that, right now, I have no control in this relationship.

Let me give you an example. The marketing geniuses who came up with retail birthday coupons saw me coming a mile away. The second a voucher for a free frozen yogurt hit my inbox, I started thinking about it. What flavor, what night, what toppings. I obsessed. I mentioned it to Hank everyday, until finally we went, on a night when it wasn’t convenient – because with three kids, it never is – and after a sensible dinner that left me more than full. But that’s what I do. I lust after sugar like Heath Ledger in his knight suit, may he rest in peace. And I tell myself I could stop if I wanted to. I could just let the coupon expire. But I don’t. I can’t.

My relationship with food is one of shame rather than guilt, and it’s important to know the difference. When I eat an entire coffee cake, I instantly feel like I’ve satisfied those triggers firing off in my brain that scream, “Right now! Do this! It’s delicious! You don’t always have this in the house!” And then I immediately wash that down with a tall drink of regret and shame.

Behavioral researchers would make the distinction between shame and guilt in my situation this way: If I were a woman in control who made a bad food choice here and there, that would elicit some guilt. Guilt is temporary and not tethered to the characteristics one associates with their core being. But I’m on the other side of that. I am not a woman who feels in control of her food choices. I feel consumed by urges and addictive patterns, and overall, just riddled with shame about the whole thing. Then I try to swallow and shrug off that shame so that I don’t pass these tendencies down to my girls. Oh my gosh, life is short. It’s just food. I don’t want to feel deprived. But what I really feel, is sick.

They say shame is the worst thing for children, because they connect feelings of shame with feelings of being unlovable. But I’m an adult. I feel loved unconditionally and I feel accepted. I don’t fear being abandoned or found out or rejected based on this addiction. I just feel like shit because of it. I feel like I turned over a huge piece of my self-respect to a chemist who sat in a lab and figured out exactly how to hook me. And I want to think I’m stronger than that. But I’m not. And that concession is where the shame resides.

But you do Whole30s and 14-Day Vegan Challenges and all that stuff. I know, I do. And I stand by the fact that I find these exercises valuable in the war to gain control over my habits. But I also find it troubling that I require such strict parameters around what should be such an intuitive act in order to feel like I’m driving and not along for the ride. I feel like there should be a simpler way.

So what’s a girl to do, huh? When she’s come onto this blog more times than she can count and confessed her shortcomings. When she’s tried so many different diets. When she’s 21 Day Fixed and bootcamped and MyFitness Pal’ed her brains out. When she’s scared the sugar’s stronger. What is she to do then?

Last week, I saw the number on the scale I’d been running from for two years. I know that number does not define me, or my worth. I know that obsessing over that number does nothing for me nor does reacting to it in the way I instinctively want to react to it, particularly with three little chicks watching everything I do and listening to everything I say. I need to see it as the spark for change, rather than the fire that’s going to burn me down.

I choose to try again. I choose to make this Sunday the Sunday before the Monday when it all goes away. Because if 45 things don’t work, maybe the 46th will be the one that sticks. I’ve been reading a lot about mindfulness, transcendental meditation and food addiction. While the salt/fat/sugar trifecta is certainly something to conquer, there’s also a lot of noise and stress and underlying triggers lingering just below the surface, whispering, “Food is comfort.” A little quiet might just help shut down those extra triggers enough to make some progress. So, maybe there’s something there.

It would all just be so much easier if the answers were in the back of the book. If I knew the solve. I have this friend at work and she’s always cold (you know the type). She combats the chilly office climate with a space heater. One she turns on periodically throughout the day and one that, inevitably, pops the circuit. She used to have to chase down a maintenance guy, explain her misstep and then wait for him to go flip the breaker. Until one day, it occurred to her to just follow him, write down which switch he flipped and then take care of it herself when the fuse, inevitably, popped again. Now, she heats her space without fear. “Well, I mean, I know my button,” she’ll say. Having the power to fix things for yourself is such a simple but rich reward in this life. I wish I knew my button.

I have no answers, no plan, no challenge in the works. I don’t know which button is my button. What you’ve read here was a trip to the confessional. An informal declaration. I just needed to come here for a bit of therapy. I needed these keys tonight. But our time is up for now.

Uncategorized, Wellness

The day after vegan

October 9, 2017

Some of you have asked about the day after The Livin la Vida Vegan Challenge, and I guess, in hindsight, I did kind of leave you hanging a bit. Blogging every day for 14 days was a little intense for me. If you don’t want to read on, or suspense just isn’t you’re thing, yes, I finished the half marathon, and yes, I ate ALL the things, and yes, I got sicker than a dog. Read on if you’d like a deeper dive into any of the aforementioned statements.

The big race.
This was my third half marathon (running, sixth if you count the times I walked that mug). The beautiful thing about coming into a race like this with a few under your belt is the reassurance that you will, eventually, finish. It might not be pretty, but you’ll get there. I think that’s the most encouraging mantra to keep in your back pocket. “I will finish this. I will not die. I will finish this. I will not die.” People always say, “I couldn’t run that long,” or ask, “How do you do that?” and the truth is, you just keep shuffling along.

Jackie (my partna) and I are not record-setters. We don’t wear the fancy, fast shorts that look like bathing suit bottoms. We don’t have compression socks, or special sunglasses. We are just a couple of moms, with semi-soft bodies (me more so than her), who’ve been friends for a couple decades, who like to come out together and turn in a lackluster performance. That’s just us. That’s our m.o. We own that.

Forget your corral letter, forget your pace group, that is the categorization that matters. When you know who you are and what you’re doing there, the perspective really alleviates the pressure. We’re pretty content in the middle of the pack, because, for us, it’s just about proving our bodies are still capable of carrying us that far. We are not broken. We are not entirely swallowed up by our roles as mom or wife or nurse or writer. We are strong, amateur athletes with veracious lions (or more like angry kittens) sleeping just beneath our skin. At least for one day of the year that’s what we are.

The morning of the race was chilly. I didn’t eat any meat or dairy. I made a smoothie with spirulina, 1 scoop protein powder, coconut water, spinach and some Beet Elite. I ate a bowl of multigrain Cheerios, too, because it sounded good. That was it. And my stomach felt … off.

It was touch-and-go right up until the cannon went off marking the start of the race. Once we got moving, things in my belly really calmed down. In fact, the first 3 miles flew by. I felt great, Jac felt great. We were right on the heels of the 2:20 pace group. Considering we finished around 2:23 last year, that was pretty damn good.

“At Mile 4, let’s stop and have a chew and some water,” I said.
“Yup, that’s what I was thinking,” Jackie agreed.

This would be the biggest mistake we made all day.

Mile 4 is where the course takes a turn off of the initial long drag. In the past, it’s been a point where we picked up momentum. This year, it was the death of it. There was a gradual decline in our pace from Mile 5, on. I felt fine mentally, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day, but my legs just started running out of steam. Like, in my mind they were flying, but in my shadow they looked more like a baby colt in a pool of tar.

We walked a few times, but we knew our friend Molly would be waiting at Mile 10.

“If we can just get to Molly,” Jackie would say.
“Right,” I’d agree.
“If we can just make it to Molly we’ll stop, have a chew, and then finish strong.”
“Yeah.”

And then …

“There’s Molly’s ass!” Jackie yelled.
“That’s not Molly’s ass.”
“Isn’t that her ass?”
“No.”
“Are you sure?”
“There’s Mol!!” I said, pointing to our dear girl, standing on a corner waving with her two kiddos.

It was like seeing a well in the desert. We’d been talking about her for so long. I think we both thought something might spark deep down inside us when we reached her embrace on that sunny September morning. But instead, we just felt full of dread.

Three miles to go.

My hips for sure hurt, though not as bad as they had on our longer training runs. Jac’s knees were getting to her. But bottom line, we just had nothing left in the tank.

“Oh shit,” Jackie said, motioning her head over her shoulder.

I turned to see the 2:30 pace group right behind us, seconds from passing. I shrugged and reminded her we just wanted to finish. We were racing ourselves. And all the other bullshit we tell ourselves to get our broken down bodies across the finish line.

And cross the finish line we did, at 2:31. “Totally plant-powered!” I exclaimed in a rush of dopey adrenaline. Jac wasn’t into it.

Passing my small tribe on the way into the arena, I was reminded, yet again, why we do this. Why we log the miles for 12 weeks beforehand. Why we abuse our aging bodies and spend so much time away from the kids. It’s for that moment you look down at your feet, knowing you can stop. That your children are watching. That you and your best friend just ran 13.1 motha truckin’ miles, together. Just a couple of moms, with semi-soft bodies (me more so than her), who’ve been friends for a couple decades, who like to come out together and turn in a lackluster performance, just ran 13.1 miles.

I ate 1.5 donuts and half a Gatorade. My stomach, again, was … off.

The very hungry caterpillar.
At noon, I had a Big John from Jimmy Johns and chips, but I was still hungry.

At 12:45, I had 2 cookies, but I was still hungry.

At 3, I had 2 giant chocolate truffles, but … I had to go to a wedding.

Dinner, and a deathblow to veganism.
The wedding was so amazing. It was touching and lovely and just entirely enchanting. I had to leave before the reception and head over to Matt’s for his Second Annual Fancy Dinner Party. I chugged water with an electrolyte tab on the way over and prayed for a solid stomach.

My brother bid on a special dinner-in-your-home package at a live auction last fall, and that night a special group of friends, myself included, would garner the rewards of that bid. The theme was Bourbon Pairings, so, on the plus side, we all knew we were in trouble right outta the gate. There wouldn’t be any surprises.

We started with bourbon sours. They were that perfect storm of delicious flavors in small glasses. When we ordered another round after the first course I think we sent ourselves down the path of mass destruction. It was a force greater than ourselves. They were too delicious. The glasses seemed so tiny, so harmless.

Basically, from there what transpired was a parade of meat butters and creamy dairy delights. Goat cheese-stuffed dates, fancy tater tots with a sauce you want to cheat on your husband with, duck tongue tacos (I know, I had the same reaction, but those tongues were tasty), pork belly that fell apart the second it touched your tastebuds, and bourbon s’mores. As meals go, this one was up there with the Wicked Spoon buffet in Vegas and last year’s Straight Outta Compton Fancy Dinner.

First Course
Herb De Provence chevre stuffed dates / wrapped with prosciutto ham / blue cheese fondue

Second Course
Patatas Bravas / Parmesan-truffle encrusted / smoked paprika aioli

Third Course
Duck tongue taco / bourbon barrel smoked salsa rojo / spiced red onion escabache / queso fresco/ achiote crema

Fourth Course
Pork belly confit / bourbon gastrique / pickled English cucumbers/balsamic pearls / charred tomato dust/orange blossom mousse

Intermezzo
Blood orange sorbet

Fifth Course
Woodford reserved braised short ribs / oaxacan mole sauce/lemon scented farro grain / coconut espuma

Sixth Course
Bourbon Marshmallow s’mores / ”campfire smoke”/ snap-crackle-pop graham crackers / dark chocolate ribbon

 

I emerged from my brother’s basement – the scene of the meat butter massacre – around 11:30, sat down, and let the doom wash over me like a 50-gallon bucket at a waterpark. I was in trouble. My stomach, my head, my body. I’d been still long enough for everything to catch up to me and now there was no running from it. My legs were too tired. My tummy was too full of all the animal things I turned away for two weeks. Plus, the bourbon. I gave Hank “the look” and we made an exit.

I slept on our new bathroom floor.

It was cold.

Linoleum.

And that, dear friends, is what happened the day after the Livin’ la Vida Vegan Challenge.

Wellness

Livin la Vida Vegan Day 5 (fake eggs and fog)

September 21, 2017

7:15 a.m.
A 2-hour delay? Damn you, fog! Damn you straight to Chuck E. Cheese (my equivalent of hell). The girls would get a delay the week we don’t have a sitter at the house to get them on the bus. How do you get both Employee and Mom of the Year in one swift move? Oh, dear friends, just sit back and observe. I threw together my vegan-friendly morning smoothie and did what I had to do. I took those turkeys into work and used technology to keep them on the up and up for an hour and a half. Oh, you want to search random terms on YouTube? Here are some headphones! Videos with creepy adults opening eggs? Yup, yup, sounds great.

[Dramatic sigh] “I need more coffee today,” I said to myself, Spike smacking the meat of her juicy apple around with her tongue and tiny teeth in my ear as I browsed my inbox.
“No problem, Mom. I’ll run to the cafeteria and get you some,” JoJo said, like she was my 22-year-old secretary on the set of Mad Men.
“No honey, I’m just fine. But thank you.”

9:10 a.m.
I dropped the eldest chicks at the bus stop and darted in the house to grab a bonus mug of coffee with Califia Farms Pecan Caramel Creamer (a gift from my friend Elizabeth). That stuff is DANGEROUS. I love it in a way one shouldn’t love a coffee creamer, ya know?

11 a.m.
Nope, nope … not gonna make it to lunch today, I pulled out my emergency stash of trail mix, Nuts and Berries from Costco, my favorite. Listening to Rich Roll’s audiobook this morning, he was talking about how his vegan diet evolved. He eventually replaced protein powder with spirulina, and his typical mixed nut blend with Brazil nuts and walnuts. My diet, too, is already evolving … I’ve decided to replace miso with … anything else.

12:15 p.m.
Lunch was a repeat for me again today. This is my m.o. I find something that works – in this case a mixed green salad with quinoa/rice, a salad topper mix and Greek dressing with a side of veggie hummus with tortilla chips – and I beat it to death. But a positive check-in from Hank. He loves both the Seeds of Change Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa pouch and the instant pho bowls I got from Costco. He went so far as to say the pho was better than the offerings at his go-to Vietnamese joint. Best news I’ve gotten all day.

“I think we need more protein,” I told him. “Start throwing hemp hearts on stuff, k?”

Not that my husband isn’t capable of feeding himself, but because this was my idea and I make the grocery list, I feel a very unique pressure here to keep his belly full and his head in a good place. The kids are a different story. I can throw cheese cubes at them to calm the storm. We’re going two family members at a time here.

2:45 p.m.
A perk of picking up the girls in the afternoon, just five hours after I dropped them off in the exact same spot, is catching up on the elementary school scoop. For almost a week now, Spike has been wrestling between two of her classmates. They both want her to be their girlfriend, and the romantic turmoil has been agony for all of us. Today’s update went as follows:

“What’s up babe? How was your day?”
“Fine,” she said.
“Who’d you play with?”
“Ugh, well I think I’m going to be boyfriend/girlfriend with Connor,”
“Really? I thought we talked about that and you were just going to be a good friend to both of them so you didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings or break daddy’s heart.”
“Well, I just can’t take Hunter.”
“No?”
“No! Today he drew a huge circle on his desk in pencil and colored it in. And you know that stains, which makes it an elephant problem. And the custodian is going to be so mad, so I told on him.”
“You tattled?”
“Well, yeah. But he had it coming. And then Conner asked if I wanted to play football at recess and I was like, ‘I’m not much of a football girl, but thank you for asking me.’ And I let him throw the ball to me.”
“Well, sounds like you and Connor had a fun day.”
“Yeah, plus, Hunter eats paper. Like, a lot. So …”

And there it is. Love on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise. Another casualty of careless paper consumption.

6:30 p.m.
We’re big fans of brinner. Nothing is better than pancakes for supper on a cool autumn evening, am I right? As I was menu planning, I found myself yearning for something semi-familiar in the sea of tempeh and seitan, when I came across this recipe for The Best Vegan Breakfast Sandwiches, and thought … there you are, lover.

Please, please don’t disappoint me, I pleaded to the assortment of ingredients as I went about prepping for the herd. Mama just can’t take another night of mediocre flavors.

For tonight’s installment of, “What the hell’s this made of?” we turn to egg replacer. I mixed it up in the blender with cold water, poured it into the skillet and watched in amazement as the liquid solidified into a foamy, spongy giant fake egg frisbee. Flipping it was a test of skill, of which I failed. Hank looked at the ingredients.

“So, essentially, this is instant potatoes,” he concluded. I shrugged. “It has no redeeming nutritional qualities, aside from a little bit of fiber.”

Potato starch aside, guys, I gotta tell ya, these sandwiches were FIRE. I loved them, every bite. I used mixed greens, and kite hill cream cheese and some sprouted grain buns I got in the freezer section at Earth Fare. We even added a slice of daiya cheddar, just to be indulgent. I roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and a plantain that was hours from going bad, and cut up a mango and apple for dessert. I dipped my veggies sparingly in daiya ranch dressing, which is a delight.

While this meal scored big on flavor and morale boosting, it felt like a lie. Like the equivalent of Sex With Your Pants On for Whole30. Nothing was derived from animals, but it felt a little too human, if ya know what I mean. Hank made the comment, “I feel like the longer we’re vegan, the more processed our diets get.” It’s not the sandwich’s fault. But if we’re going to do this, I want to do it right.

7:45 p.m.
I missed my run because Hank had to make one of his own, for Pull Ups and cold medicine. I did a Fitsugar barre dance workout and felt pretty good. The energy level is picking up, folks!

Wellness

Livin la Vida Vegan Day 3 (bad breath and poor protein)

September 19, 2017

We made it through the weekend. Praise be! Now comes the warm blanket that is my routine, and an opportunity to make these vegan habits part of the grind. Of course, the universe couldn’t make it too easy, so our sitter is off on vacation this week. Saint Kay has graciously volunteered to take on Sloppy Joan in her absence, but I’ll need to go retrieve the other two monkeys from the bus stop each afternoon and drop them off. Flexibility is fundamental to parenting, right? Flexibility and cocktails. Flexibility and cocktails and Netflix.

7:30 a.m.
I made my usual shake for breakfast. I’ve been making it for years, so I guess I’ve had a little vegan in me all along. I play around with the spices sometimes, but the base is always the same: PB powder, plant-based protein powder, a generous handful of spinach, cinnamon, turmeric and hemp seeds. Sometimes I add ginger as well. I pour a little bit of water in the bottom, add ice, and top it off with cashew milk before blending. It’s pretty darn good, guys. Pretty darn good. And portable, which is a plus.

I decided to listen to Rich Roll’s audiobook, “Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself” during these 14 days. If you aren’t familiar, Rich is a world-renowned endurance athlete known for his astounding accomplishments, all powered by a plant-based diet, his podcast and his zen-like demeanor. He’s fascinating and inspiring and a really great voice to have filling your ears while you’re trying to make a dramatic change.

But the guy wasn’t just born miraculous. Rich was a collegiate swimmer and successful lawyer before losing a good deal of his gifts to alcoholism. Then, the night before his 40th birthday, he had a wakeup call. He was heavy and tired, weighted down by a fast food and television routine that left him winded and disheartened. Although he was sober, although he had a beautiful family, although he had a successful career, he decided it was time to make a change for his body. He began with a cleanse, then a vegetarian diet and eventually landed on a vegan prescription. It was here that it all clicked for him.

Rich recounts his rise and fall and rise again with a vulnerability that can only pull others in. Maybe I could do that, I think, as he talks about setting out on a short run only to find himself logging 20+ miles because he felt so free. It prompts reflection and fuels optimism and I think everyone can find a small piece of themselves in his story. I find myself taking the long way just to get 5 more minutes with Rich. I have his cookbook on hold at the library and my coworker swears by his meal-planning app, perhaps a purchase for another day.

12:05 p.m.
I don’t make a habit of eating lunch at my desk, but I’ll be using my allotted lunch break to go get the girls this week, so sad sack at my screen it is. Today, I had some bomb ass vegetable hummus from Earth Fare, with tortilla chips, and a salad. I tapped my vegetarian friend at work for her go-to mix, which consists of quinoa (I used my leftover rice and quinoa blend from dinner yesterday), greens, nuts and dried fruit (I used the salad topper mix from Costco) and Greek dressing. It was delightful. Garlicky. My breath could kill a vampire.

We’re thinking about camping this weekend, but Hank has one very strong concern.

“Dude, it’s no fun to eat nuts and berries on a camping trip,” he emailed. “What the hell is that going to look like?”
“Let me worry about the food,” I responded. “I won’t let you starve.”

We’re not going to let a vegan experiment keep us locked up at home for the love of Sarah Jessica Parker.

5 p.m.
I’d tucked the last vegan sugar cookie from Saturday’s celebration in my purse, just in case. By the commute home, I was ready for a little sweet treat. I felt like I was doing something incredibly bad eating the little bugger, good as she was.

I went home to start getting dinner around. On tonight’s menu: Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. I warmed up the oil to make homemade french fries, too, because I’m not an animal. And just so no one under the age of 30 would starve, I put two peanut butter sandwiches on sugar-free wheat bread on the table as well, just so there wouldn’t be a revolt. Plus peaches and pears for dessert.

The preparation for these cauliflower bites was fine, simple enough. I even bought pre-cut cauliflower because why the hell not, right? For the sauce, I added a touch more honey than the recipe called for for fear of the heat, which ended up being a wise choice.

They looked amazing! My hopes were high. The flavor was good, but I was disappointed with the texture. I was really hoping the outside would have more of a breading, or a crisp. Which was not the case. They were soft like God intended cooked cauliflower and they had a kick like Jackie Chan, which got Hank’s engine going

“I’m so glad we did this so we could find a sauce that I want to put all over chicken,” he said.

I think vegan dinner is the biggest mystery to me. If you don’t build the meal around a main meat dish, then what do you build it around? We used to have a pork roast, and then everything revolved around that. Or chicken or pork chops. The meat was the leading lady, and everyone else played a supporting role, barely making the credits, often going unplanned until after the protein was on the stove.

But with vegan meals, there isn’t always a “main dish”. Sometimes there are just a bunch of veggie dishes. Plus, when I look at tonight’s dinner, there’s hardly any protein. Google says there’s like 11g total in an entire head of cauliflower. But beans make me barf, so I’m not thinking that’s not the best choice. I can feel I need more power. I’m draggin’ ass like a farmer with a dead donkey over here. Chalk it up to rookie vegan mom problems, I suppose.

Speaking of being a mom, I have to go. Sloppy Joan is hovering next to me in my bed, steamy pee dripping down her bare legs into a 10-inch circle of fluid. Turns out sometimes Bubble Guppies is just too damn good to walk away.

Uncategorized, Wellness

Livin la Vida Vegan Day 1

September 17, 2017

“I just took a $70 crap,” Hank declared, ever so eloquently, emerging from the kids’ bathroom. I felt like anyone would the morning after consuming 856 grams of sugar and four courses of beef the night before. I needed coffee. Coffee, step 1. Livin la Vida Vegan meal No. 1, second.

I flipped through the Vegan for Everybody cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, and landed on Classic Pancakes. I altered the ingredients just a bit … I used gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose, and coconut sugar instead of standard, but these puppies were perfect. The melted coconut oil and the batter danced on the hot iron skillet and created these crusty edges that welcomed us with open arms into this vegan venture.

I spread a bit of Nutiva Organic Vegan Shortening over the cakes, drizzled some organic maple syrup over that, dropped some blueberries on them and let the party in my mouth begin.

The best part, they were ridiculously filling. I couldn’t even finish the two I made. I added some Pecan Caramel Califa Farms Almond Milk Creamer to my coffee and called the first meal of the day good.

I had to help man a booth at a local music and art festival downtown, so I started to get a little panicky about lunch. Do I pack? Do I snack? I filled a baggie with a hearty nut, seed and dried fruit mix and headed out into the 80-degree day.

By 3:45 I was alarmingly sweaty and the 19 year-old hipsters were starting to seem less adorable. Luckily, my coworker is a 10-year vegetarian vet. As I got ready to leave, she told me about her favorite food truck, a vietnamese vendor who does vegetarian and vegan rice bowls. Yahtzee!

I text Hank: “Bringing home a late-afternoon vegan treat! Leaving soon.”

I walked over and ordered two rice bowls, one with lime tofu and one spicy, and put them in my front seat like precious passengers en route to heal a nation. I was starting to get ravenously hungry.

Each had a scoop of rice, cilantro and spinach, shredded veggies, peanuts and fried tofu.

I hated mine …

The interesting thing is, I would have never ordered that. Ever. And it was so perfectly satisfying and delicious. Happy discovery No. 1 and meal No. 2, done.

The challenge of the day was Hank’s aunt’s 55th birthday party. Buffets are built around two things: meat and mayonnaise. Every crock pot was brimming with coney sauce and pulled pork and meatballs. The bowls crowding the island packed with various noodles and shredded cabbages, all dressed decadently in mayo. And of course there was plenty of cheese. You don’t think about it, until you can’t have it.

I packed two kinds of hummus, guacamole, tortilla chips, sliced nectarines and blueberries, and three kinds of vegan cookies I picked up at the local natural grocery store. I was going to be damned if I let a party on the first day be our downfall.

But we made it. Once I had my goodies, walked out of the house and started dancing, I didn’t even think about the spread inside. The ladies of the family standing in a circle screaming Janis Joplin was the ideal distraction. And it’s an interesting case study in how much we focus on the food at social gatherings, instead of the social at the social gatherings. When you focus on the folks around you, stuffing your face carries a little less weight.

I extinguished my buzz on the drive home with half a container of veggie hummus and an everything cookie, and I didn’t feel deprived a bit. In fact, I’d say it was a little indulgent if anything.

Day 2, here we go …

Wellness

Livin La Vida Vegan eve

September 16, 2017

It’s 24 hours before our Livin La Vida Vegan adventure is set to begin. Also, our 10th wedding anniversary.

7 a.m.
I come downstairs to find a vase filled with 10 white roses and 5 sunflowers, a box of 4 truffles from my favorite chocolate place, a $10 lottery ticket (with a 1 in 10 chance of winning), and a dime to scratch it off (from 2007, the year we got married). I’ve mentioned before that Hank has a sordid past with gift giving, but this was the perfect gesture. A beautiful bouquet, a sweet box of sugar, and a little bit of luck. I tuck the box of chocolates into my purse and promise myself this will be a little treat for later.

Everything was just perfect.

7:45 a.m.
I walk into my office and there is a giant pink box on my desk. I lift the lid where the cardboard parts and a waft of sugary glaze erupts below my nose. Cinnamon rolls. A dozen of them. Huge pastries the size of Princess Leia’s buns, drizzled with thick white lines of frosting. Oh shit.

10:30 a.m.
I get a call from the front desk. There’s a delivery for me. Cupcakes this time. A dozen of them. Swirls of thick frostings in pinks and browns and crystal white. Tiny cookies and wafer twills adorn each one, their contents a mystery. I smell peanut butter and marshmallow and strawberry.

10:55 a.m.
The front desk again. She’s just laughing at this point. “I’ll be right there.” Now we’re looking at cookies. A dozen of them. The gang’s all here: Chocolate chip and peanut butter came, and they brought their sister snickerdoodle and her best friend sugar. Oatmeal was lucky enough to get an invite as well, but stands out as the only one in this crowd with a morsel of actual nourishment, dressed in sugar though it may be.

By lunch I was convinced that my husband either loved me so much he couldn’t contain it in just one box of confections, or he was trying to trigger type 2 diabetes so he could collect my life insurance.

“Babe!” I said when I called him at noon.
[He snickers]
“You realize we have to eat all of this stuff by tomorrow morning, right?”
“Well, I just love you,” he said, pretending to be innocent.
“Oh my gosh, you’re so sweet. It’s so much …”
“I tried to find a place to deliver tacos, but I couldn’t.”
“Ohhhhhhh, boy. Well, I love you. Thank you.”

I went out to get a probiotic drink and a trough of vegetables. I could already feel the sugar shock setting in. By now, my coworkers had consumed a total of 4 cinnamon rolls. Just 36 treats to go, counting the chocolates I’d packed from home. This would be my Everest.

3 p.m.
I started doing hot laps around the office, making up reasons to check the printer and interrupt normal people as they finished up their last-minute Friday to-dos. At one point, we used an app to check my heart rate. It was all good. But my eyes were as wide as quarters and my limbs were moving without prompting. Remember when Mike Myers played Simon on SNL, the sweet little boy who wore a harness and, when given chocolate, pulled an entire jungle gym out of the ground and ran down the street with it tethered to his back? Yup.

People started taking baked goods out of concern for my safety. I threw my hands in the air and exclaimed, “It’s the best anniversary ever!”

6:30 p.m.
Fancy anniversary dinner time. We’re all dressed up and I’m still flying a foot off the ground. We debate some mini hamburgers on the menu (these weren’t junior bacon cheeseburgers, guys. These were Mini Wagyu burgers with bacon, jalapeno, onion jam and bleu cheese mousse. Yes, yes we’ll have that.) They came out and looked like they were from an easy bake oven, tiny in an almost did-we-turn-into-giants kind of way. But I assure you they didn’t taste like anything I’ve had from an easy bake oven.

We followed these little guys with a wedge salad and corn soup, respectfully, Wagyu strip steaks on a bed of garden vegetables, a lavender latte, creme brulee and an apple tart. Ohhhhh, the apple tart. As Hank said, many, many times, “It’s like an elephant ear wrapped around apple pie!”

We met some friends for a few beers to end the night because there was just enough room in there for some liquid.

And now, here we are. The morning of Day 1. I’m either set up to fail or so incredibly food wasted that I have no choice but to succeed. Here … we … go …

Wellness

A whole lotta Whole30 fun

February 3, 2017

That’s a wrap on Whole30 round No. 4!

It always feels bittersweet at the end of these little resets. Like, I’m so relieved I don’t have to carry emergency food in my purse and cook ALL OF THE THINGS, but also so concerned about what happens when I drop the reins and give myself some food freedom again. You have the best of intentions to ease in, go 90/10, but then one evening you wake up delirious face down in a plate of Texas Roadhouse cheese fries with ranch up to your elbows. It gets away from ya that fast.

Every time I do a Whole30, I get the same two comments/questions: 1) I don’t think I could do that, and 2) So, then what?

Let’s address these.

I don’t think I could do that.
Yes you could. You really could. People get their panties in a pinch over hearing the word “no” so many times consecutively, but simply put, the Whole30 guidelines specify you must eat real food for 30 days. This means no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no carrageenan, sulfites or MSG, no corn and no processed crap. It means you’re going to be gettin down on a lot of eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. This is not a tragedy, folks. It’s really just doing what you should always do, which should be easy but isn’t at all because, it turns out, “food” in our country is in kind of a sad state.

The secret, I’ve found, is in the cooking. And let’s just say it, it is so much freaking cooking. If you can’t use a food processor or chop produce like a boss, you will not survive. If you don’t like meal planning, you will not survive. If you don’t like doing dishes, you will survive (it just blows). It’s kind of like having a newborn; You live on a 2-hour cycle. You prep the breakfast, eat the breakfast, clean up the breakfast, prep the lunch, eat the lunch, clean up the lunch, prep the dinner, eat the dinner, clean up the dinner. Go to bed, start over. The first time we did a Whole30, I took some epic missteps in regard to meal choices. Ones that haunt me to this day. I remember one night I just threw a pan with a pile of shit on it in the middle of the table, cried and told Hank not to eat it because I was pretty sure it was poison. It was a little Pinterest lie called “pizza with cauliflower crust” if memory serves.

But now, four rounds in, I’ve developed quite a repertoire. I can do things with a bag of almond meal, carton of eggs and pound of bananas that would make you– I don’t know where I was going with that … Anyway, this time, I checked the official Whole30 Cookbook out of the library. It was legit. Its pages were packed with game changers like Crispy Spicy Turkey over Cauli Rice and the like. We kicked things off on January 3 with the Curry Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Potatoes, Cauliflower and Kale, and we ended on February 1 with the same dinner. When you find something that works, hold onto it and serve it up as many times as you can for sanity’s sake.

The funny thing is, the food is really good. After your taste buds are revived from the 11-month waterboarding they’ve been served by sodium- and sugar-drenched deliciousness, a meager strawberry suddenly dances on your reinvigorated tongue. Roasted vegetables are inviting. Cashews are silky. It’s amazing what real food can do when you take all the crap away and just let it do it’s natural thang.

For whatever reason, I didn’t detox quite as hard this time around. In the past, it felt like I had the flu. I’d be exhausted, pale, sweaty and down with a throbbing headache for much of the first week. Am I pregnant? I thought. Maybe mono? Oh, no, that’s just me coming off sugar. Although, in my body’s defense, I’m pretty sure my consumption rivals that of the rats they use to test whether candy or heroine is more addictive. It’s up there. So my withdrawals might be magnified a bit. This time, however, I think my body was begging for the cleanse so hard it decided not to put up much a fight.

The benefits are the same, but a little different, every time we do this. This time, it was the sleep. I was like a bear in the Smokies. It was so good, I almost always got 8 hours. I’d get horizontal and my body just automatically signed off for the night. It was a beautiful thing. I felt clear-headed and alert and loved the sustained energy.

Another bonus, Hank and I discovered the best fruit flavor combination on earth. Stuff a red grape into the cavity of a red raspberry and just put my thank you card in the mail. I’ve often wondered if it’s really that good, or just that good because fruit is the equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s when you aren’t having sugar, but I think it’s really truly that good.

But that’s not to say it was all roses and smooth BMs. Here are three of my favorite journal entries from the journey …

Day 13 (Clearly in the anger phase)
I want to scream. I am doing all of this planning and cooking and shit and I asked my husband to do one thing – set out chicken breasts to thaw – and I get home, get all the shit chopped up and guess what? Frozen freaking chicken boobs. One thing! One thing!

(Sorry Hank.)

Day 18
I vomited in the sink. My body put up a stop sign to sweet potato, egg and avocado. There can be no more.

Day 19
We went to Matt’s to watch the playoff games. I thought I was prepared. I made Nom Nom Paleo wings and banana-coconut “cookies” and whipped coconut cream with strawberries. But it was no match for the smell of queso and enchiladas. Damn him! Damn him. We held strong though. This is a bitch.

So, then what?
Well, I’ll be the last person to tell you I have harnessed the true power of Whole30. I followed the blog Kale and Cigarettes throughout our journey, as the writer and his wife were going through their first round. He wrote a lot about the anger that comes with not necessarily knowing the end game. As in, what if I bought all these weird ingredients and cooked my ass off every day and turned down beautiful, glistening donuts for nothing? What if nothing changes? What if I don’t change? What if I just go back to my old ways and learn nothing? I brought this up to Hank the other night as we were driving back from a wedding.

“I feel so good,” I said.
“Yeah.”
“But, I feel like we need to figure out the long game here.”
“Yeah.”
“Like, I love the short-term benefits, but what changes am I really making based off the reset?”
“Right.”
“I need to find a way to carry some of the momentum over.”
“Yeah.”

I mean, the truth is I eat on autopilot. Like gross autopilot.

Mindful eating is a thing. A very real, very useful thing. And I can’t do it. I can’t. I recently sat in on a video shoot on the topic, and I tell ya, it made so much sense in theory. In between takes, I told the instructor, “I mean, I eat on autopilot. Or at least, I’m distracted. I’d assume that’s the same thing. I’m so concentrated on making dinner, and then the walls my girls are coloring on as I’m chopping, frying and roasting, and then on getting their plates made, and then on what they’re not eating and then on disciplining at the table and then on clearing it all and then starting the dishes, and then bath time. In the noise of that process, sometimes I can’t even remember if I ate, let alone gave much thought to how I was doing it.” He just nodded. Because I am not unique in this struggle and all I had to do was shut up, listen to everything he said, and observe a brief moment of gratitude before my meals.

It doesn’t help that things like chocolate-covered almonds with sea salt and long Johns just seem to jump from counters, cabinets and kids plates into my welcoming mouth hole. It’s that 30 seconds. The initial smell and sight. If I can get through that 30 seconds, I’m good. Think about how brief a taste of something is. Some things, not many, are worth it. There’s this new place in town everyone’s talking about that makes ice cream sandwiches with fresh-baked donuts for buns. I’m thinkin’ that’s worth it.

No matter how many times we do this and no matter how many times it’s happened before, it always amazes me how some people just have to salt your game. If you aren’t drinking, aren’t having dessert, aren’t giving yourself a pass, people just can’t stand not commenting on it. The pressure is so ridiculous. And then you feel like you have to justify what you’re buying, eating and using to make your own body go. If I’m shoving something down your pie hole against your will, please feel free to engage me. Otherwise …

So, here we are.

I haven’t really answered the second question because I guess the answer is I can’t really answer it. I guess what comes next is my best effort. Every time I adjust my diet and become more food aware, I learn something. I learn what my body feels like when I feed it shit, and what it feels like when I’m a clean machine.

We’re done for now and I lost a little bit of weight, got a lot of great sleep and found some great new recipes. But, of course, I’ll spend the next week analyzing how I could have done better. I could have exercised more, I could have relaxed on the dried fruit. But perfection is so boring.

If you ever try a Whole30, here are a few you don’t want to miss …

Slow Cooker Korean Grass Fed Short Ribs from Nom Nom Paleo

I had a friend who spoke of these ribs and I didn’t listen. Then, one day I did. And I hated myself for all the opportunities I’d missed with these succulent little suckers throughout the years. About 15 minutes of prep and 7-9 hours in a slowcooker stand between you and a full mouthgasm.

Gluten, Grain, and Garbage Free Chick-fil-A Nuggets from The Domestic Man

Saved me with the chicks.

Plantain Tortillas from Eat Your Beets

OK, SWYPO is a very real threat with Whole30. These were my regular appointment with my trousers. I love these tortillas as buns for a bison burger, as shells for carnitas and, when things get really hairy, with almond butter and sliced strawberries.

*Honorable mention to everything in the Whole30 Cookbook

Thoughts

Idle chit chat with my chunkier self

June 8, 2016

First, I must be clear when I say that I actually go to great pains to avoid being a self-loathing turd. There’s a special kind of depressing that goes with watching perfectly lovely people wallow around in sloppy puddles of their own regrets and poor decisions. We’ve all danced and delighted in the cheap thrills of excess at some point. Personally, I’ve been obnoxiously open about my struggles with sugar, food in general really, and stubborn baby weight.

I, like you my splendid reader, have a general notion of what I should eat. Or, should I say, what will nourish my body without turning me into a moody porpoise. The knowledge has never been my problem. The willpower has. I run out of give-a-damns daily, usually somewhere between the powdered sugar donuts and my ice cream nightcap.

But as much as I wrestle with my sucrose-sucking inner feen and disapprove of her dwindling discipline, I certainly don’t hate myself. Lately, since the scale hasn’t moved any direction but up in 4 months, I’ve been trying to focus on the humor of the internal conflict. For example, I giggle at the dialogue that results from the two opposing sides of my conscious. I literally picture a physical clash of my two personas; the Jillian Michaels maven and a female Augustus Gloop. If I were to give them a sitcom, the script would include lines like* …

[After eating a dark chocolate and peanut butter sundae]
I think maybe if Hank doesn’t mind, I might just settle in to being a little fat. Not like bed-ridden fat, but fluffy.

[After working out for 4 days consecutive days.]
How have I not lost 10 pounds?

[When my new pants are tight.]
This brand’s sizes always run small.

[When it’s time to wear a bathing suit.]
It’s not that hot. Maybe I’ll just wear a dress.

[When it’s the weekend.]
The hard work starts Monday!

[On Monday.]
Why the hell did I eat that shit all weekend?

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[When someone brings in donuts.]
Look at me. I’m so good cutting this delicious little devil in half.

[At 3 o’clock on the day someone brings in donuts.]
I’ll just eat the other half. It’s just a half.

[When I step on the scale.]
C’mon! Seriously? Bitch.

[When I order Culver’s.]
That’s all. … And cheese curds, please! Sorry.

[When I eat my kale salad.]
This could really use more goat cheese. Goat cheese and bacon.

[Consulting my Fitbit after a run.]
Only 171 calories burned my ass!

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[Holding an empty bag of peanut M&Ms.]
Oh, 220 calories. Wait … there’s more than 1 serving? There are 3 servings in this mother clucker?! And I ate them all, so … I guess I multiply by 3 … carry the … and then … well, shit. Why do they do servings any way? Like who eats 1/4 bag of candy and calls it for the day?

[Talking to Hank.]
So, if we just agree to both eat ice cream, we’ll stay on a similar weight gaining trajectory and we won’t care about each other’s chubby bits.

[After the first bite of a cookie.]
OK, Courtney, savor it for a minute and decide if it’s really worth the calories. [Blacks out for 10 seconds.} Yup, I guess it was!

[On Pinterest]
I’m only going to pin healthy recipes with dates and apricots and avocado and … Oh! Snickers Ice Cream Pie!

[Standing in my closet.]
That makes my stomach look like an elephant’s face. That’s too tight around the arm holes. That waistband leaves a red mark around my midsection. That dress is too short, but only when I’m heavy. Do I feel heavy? That pushes out my muffin top. Black pants and a black top wins again!

[Looking at group pictures.]
I’m the only one without my hand on my hip. Is that why my arm looks so flabby? Gross. It’s like a twice-baked potato up there. If I put my hand on my hip would it look like I was trying to look thinner? Or younger?

[While running]
Go one more lap. One more lap and you can put creamer in your coffee. Gah! Am I dragging a dead body behind me or what? Please make the next song a good one. No, Nickelback. You’re not welcome here. One more lap and you can eat a a mini candy bar at 3.

*These are actual words that I have actually heard in my actual brain.

Thoughts

What I’m gettin’ myself into Vol. 3

January 27, 2016

WhatI'mGettingintoJan

1. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover Girls. It has all the ingredients of a big, delicious Courtney cookie: Super awkward moments,  brutally honest and uncomfortable conversations and tons of self-deprecating humor. When Hannah’s coworkers filled in her eyebrows, I pushed all my chips into the pot. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a sucker for a series about girlfriends. Maybe it’s that Lena Dunham’s character reminds me of my college roommate Sarah, who has a special place in my heart. Whatever the case, I blew threw the first season on AmazonPrime like a cop with a dozen donuts. Of course, that’s just the shot of narcotics they inject to get you hooked and then you have to buy the rest of the seasons. I’m stalled at the third episode of season 2 waiting for my dealer to get it together. 2. I’m in the final stretch of my third Whole30 and at a time like this one is likely to start grasping at straws when the sugar demons start to taunt. My safety net arrived in a bright gold package of dried nanners from Costco. These things are so good, you guys, and I ate so many of them that I damaged my dental work. Literally. I had a tooth ache for 24 hours, which was my mouth telling my hand to drop the freaking bag and step away from the bananas. It took my husband finally calling me out for me to admit that I was replacing my sugar-sugar fixation with a dried fruit one. But I love them. I am a minion. 3. I’m not going to post monthly pictures of my new tops or stretchy pants –no one needs to see that – but I will say I’m surprised how fast I fell for Stitch Fix. I went in as a skeptic. I have wide hips, bigger thighs, leftover mother pudge, but I got swept away in the mob mentality. Admittedly, there have been some major misses. But there have been more hits, and who doesn’t like a surprise box of clothes every so many weeks? It’s such a treat. My one gripe would be the prices. I sent one shirt back (price tag $115) with the comment, “You don’t know me, but I laughed when I saw the cost of this top. Nothing is that cute.” I got a new stylist on my next box. But sticker shock aside, I’m digging my new duds. It’s worth it to give it a try just once and I’ve found that when I ask for “a little bit funky but functional with lots of pattern” that’s when the party really begins. 4. Speaking of clothes, I am one of those stereotypical Midwestern suburban women who puts a much higher value on the perfect pair of sweats than I do skirts or stilettos. After 3 decades of options that were too tight, too itchy, too big or too short, I have found the one. The pair. The only sweatpants any person who takes their bra off and put their pjs on the moment they get home from work needs. Victoria Secret’s Boyfriend Pant is where it’s at, ladies, and you can take that to the bank because I know my casual clothing. Honestly it’s like having two fleece-bellied monkeys clinging to each of your legs. Plus, there are so many colors you can have a different pair for every day of the week. 5. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned the importance of investing in better quality cosmetics. And since the day I started to embrace that realization I’ve had the Urban Decay eyeshadow palette pinned to Pinterest board. Could I justify spending $50 on lid paint? No. But then Christmas came around. Could I justify having someone else spend it? Maybe. The UD Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on and ever put on my eyes. I love the hues and I only dip my brush in it’s sensational circles on super-special occasions. 6. On my last edition of What I’m getting myself into, I declared my love for Parks and Rec. And a big part of that was Tom Haverford. So when I saw Aziz Ansari had his own show on Netflix I was optimistic but careful not to be too optimistic. It’s like when I watched Meet the Morgans after a Sex and the City marathon. It just changed things between me and SJP. But that definitely didn’t happen here. I adore him more, and differently. This is a side of Aziz that feels more organic to his true personality with Tom Haverford playing peek-a-poo in the rare scene. I knew it was true love when, after concluding the available episodes, I felt that same emptiness I felt after I finished Friday Night Lights or got all caught up on House of Cards. Here’s hoping Master of None comes back for Season 2.

Wellness

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to food

October 19, 2015

This is a post about control.

And, more accurately, the fact I don’t have any.

On Friday, my college roommates came to town for a lovely little visit. These girls are family to me and I always want to make sure their tummies are full and the gentle, jolly tingle of a perfect booze buzz is constant. I went to Costco Friday morning and got plenty of goodies for dinner, dessert, apple cider sangria (the best recipe for a fall get together) and breakfast Saturday morning. Some of Hank’s family was stopping by, so I figured it was enough of a crowd to justify Costco portions.

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After the last chicken flew the coop Saturday afternoon, I was left facing a few certainties: 1) I really adore those girls, and 2) I had a shit ton of food left over. Of course the salted chocolate-covered caramels and spinach and artichoke dip with parmesan are finding spots to settle in and leave lardy sediments in my thighs, but the bigger concern is the devil temptress known as the Costco cinnamon butter crumb coffee cake.

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I want you to, just for a moment, imagine your round cake pan. Mentally pull it from your cabinet. Can you picture it? Now I want you to visualize baking 3 cakes in that pan, piecing them together, topping each cake with balls of butter and sugar, and then pulling up a seat to watch me eat them. All of the cakes. Just me. Every last sinful crumb. That is what happened between the hours of 9:30 am Saturday and 8 pm Sunday night.

I impregnated myself – one forkfull at a time – with a baby made of enriched flour, real butter and refined sugars. Self sabotage is the father and, sadly, it has many, many siblings; all the result of the same pitiful practice. Did you ever see that Sex and the City with Miranda and the chocolate cake? If it had been Sex and the Land of the Super-sized Midwestern American Diet, that would have accurately represented the catastrophe at my crib this weekend.

I think this confirms my suspicion that I am a food addict.

I turned to the top authority on the topic. The Internet. And here is what I found.

8 Symptoms of Food Addiction
(from Authority Nutrition)

1 Cravings despite being full. (yes.) 
2 Eat much more than you intended to. (A Costco-sized coffee cake.)
3 Eat until feeling excessively “stuffed”. (lol and yes, I wear stretchy pants on purpose.) 
4 Feel guilty afterwards, but do it again soon. (Hate myself. … Don’t waste that!) 
5 Making up excuses in your head. (The girls were in town.) 
6 Repeated failures at setting rules for yourself. (On Monday, I go paleo. No, Whole30. No, just sugar free.)
7 Hiding your consumption from others. (For sure waited until I was alone with the cake to take it to pound town.)
8 Unable to quit despite physical problems. (I consider a flat tire a physical problem.)

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So, here I am. A belly full of regret, a tough Monday morning weigh in waiting for me and a half a container full of salted caramels promising failure all week long. What’s a girl to do? Start over, I suppose.

The number of times I’ve sat and dwelled on this depressing reality is gross. I feel like I’m stuck in a divine sugary quick sand. I get my torso out a tiny bit only to fall in almost to my chin by close of binging business Sunday night.

Admittedly, week days are my come to Jesus reset. Oily fish, leafy greens, flax … they all make the starting lineup on days I have to dress up and be a big girl. But from the time I walk out of the office and declare the weekend “in progress,” I’m hammering the fries, condiments and any and everything that stands still long enough to get doused in chocolate.

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I’d say I just need a good strategy and then I’d change my ways. I’d give up my rich, sticky mistress and clean up my ways (and my inflammation). But I would be lying. You see, there’s always a reason to eat the good stuff. Someone brings in bagels for a brainstorm. The folks in your carpool beg for Starbucks. Your kindergartener gets straight “E”s on her report card and wants to celebrate with frozen yogurt. You burn dinner and have to call an audible. And just when you think you’ve come to the end of your excuses, the holidays come along and knock you on your plump ass into a baby pool filled with corn casserole and cheese trays and all of the pies. It’s like the 6th day for the Hungry Caterpillar every damn day for two solid months.

If you have any secrets to success, as always, you can send them my way. In the meantime, if you have a Costco membership, you gotta check out that coffee cake, man. Take it somewhere you can share or somewhere you can hide. Either way, no judgement. But it’s damn good.

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