Tuesday, August 31, 2010



I am not trying to make light of people with obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD. I want to say that up front. But I suspect I have some OCD tendencies. After all, isn't it a spectrum issue?

Tonight is a perfect example and I think it also relates to being healthy and some of my issues with food.

Tonight a friend let me borrow his Wii. He has the Wii Fit and I wanted to give it a try. Another friend of mine does it and she loves it... it has a competitive element that I think will appeal to me. I sat down to set it up. Now, in all fairness, this Wii has been through a lot. I don't know if the Wii is actually working correctly. I started this project at 8:00pm. It is now 9:15. No Wii *and* I had to take a deep breath and stop myself from going out and just BUYING a new one that I KNEW worked.

Once I get 'hooked' on a project like this? It becomes 'essential' that I figure it out. I'm usually unable to walk away and just let it go until later. I find myself obsessing over questions like What am I doing wrong? and Why won't this work? To some extent this is a good thing because it helps me persevere when I want to just give up, and often by sticking with it I can figure out a solution. However, sometimes it just becomes unhealthy. I become so focused I lose track of time, I lose sight of other things I want to do. And it begins to feel humiliating if I can't figure it out or do it. I remember one time I was playing the videogame World of Warcrack... er 'craft'. World of Warcraft. Anyhow, I have never been very good at the actual 'playing' of the game. I simply don't have the coordination to be talented enough to do well. I was a mediocre player and I was okay with that. The person I played with was very patient with me and helped as much as possible, but I realized I would eventually hit the wall because my ability to remember what key stood for what movement felt overwhelming. I went on some quest where the character I was playing had to jump over a small chasm. I have no idea WHY she had to do that but she did. I couldn't do it. At one point I had to have someone else do it for me. Which took one try. So I had to try it again. And again. And again. For what felt like an hour, I kept forcing my character to jump over that chasm, falling just about every time I tried. It would have been comical if it hadn't of been so frustrating and obsessive.

I suppose true athletes and artists have this tendency as part of their personality. That drive to 'do it' even if it takes a hundred tries over and over and over and the reality of being able to do it is nil because of sheer physical exhaustion or mental fatigue.

I am not comparing WoW to someone who has dedicated his/her life to their art. Except I am. In the sense that the drive for perfection lurks in the little things. Forcing yourself to do something over and over because you want to be perfect. You want to prove to yourself you can do something. You exaggerate the meaning of that ONE simple thing into something so overly important you can't walk away. Not until you prove you can do it.

That drive for perfection is dangerous and it can even be deadly. I have seen too many young people with eating disorders struggle with that all-elusive sense of control and perfection.

Honestly, if I hadn't of decided to step away from the console tonight to write this blog? I'd STILL be over in the corner beating my head against the wall over this. And even though I have figured out a solution to 'fix' the situation (tomorrow I will take the machine into school and have the 'guys' set it up there to make sure the Wii itself is working) it took all my Scooby powers to walk away.

I have spent my life battling perfection. There are times when I make cookies and throw the WHOLE batch away because they are too dark. I hear the voice in my head say, You can't serve those. They aren't perfect.People will know you aren't really a good cook if you try to serve those. I have thrown away not just desserts, but entire meals because the taste wasn't 'quite right' and in an attempt to 'fix' it I 'ruined' it.

The desire for perfection comes from feeling flawed. For me? I believed that if I was perfect I could 'fix' the problems around me. If my grades were just good enough, if I was smart enough, if I could sing well enough... but there was never 'enough' of whatever it was I was seeking. And while food didn't take away that yearning to be perfect, it did numb some of the anxiety I was feeling. I think many people use food to release chemicals in their brain that help to soothe anxiety. Self soothing without using food, alcohol or other addictive substances/behaviors is a hard habit to break.

I suppose there were times when a little obsession would have been a good thing. Might have helped me get that paper in, or that novel read, or that project completed on time. But obsession is a funny thing. I think it is sort of like love. You can't predict it, you can't demand it, and when it strikes it's almost impossible to ignore it.

I've reached a point in my life where tonight it only took me a little over an hour to realize I was obsessing about something. I had to realize I didn't have to rush out RIGHT NOW to fix it and that tomorrow would be soon enough to make a decision. I can live with a little angst that I can't do what I want to do at this moment, and living with a little angst is okay.

For me? Learning to live with 'a little angst' is a huge step toward being healthy.



Monday, August 30, 2010



So tonight I waited too long to eat. I had an egg and an english muffin at 7:30am. I had a cup of coffee (from my own kitchen so I can control what goes into it) on my way to school, I had my little bento box for lunch at noon. Then? I got held up at work getting ready for class tomorrow. I had to stop at COSTCO to pick up notebooks and new PENS (it's a new school year I *deserve* new pens... I looooove new pens). The lines were long and it took me a while to get out of the store.

I didn't walk through my door until 7:30pm. That's too late. As my sister often says? "Huuungry chicken"!!! When I am too hungry I can't focus. I was able to manage to not get a burrito on my way home and I managed to walk away from the 'food court' at COSTCO... but my hunger meter was about a 27 on a scale of 1 - 10.

I walked in to my house and took a deep breath. I knew I was too hungry and I wasn't going to be able to truly manage my food if I didn't stay present. I got some pulled pork from the fridge, a piece of bread and a little of the homemade BBQ sauce I made last night. Threw it into the microwave, warmed it up and ate it.

When I am too hungry, it isn't the first thing I eat that is a problem. It's that once I eat I can't really hear the voice inside myself that says 'full'. After eating the half sandwich, I made tabbouleh salad with tomato. I had to wait about 5 minutes for it to be edible and when I started eating I 'checked out'. Then? I heard clearly it was time to stop, but it was so hard for me... I stopped myself by taking a small handful of pita chips, setting them on the counter and sealing up the bag. I ate the chips I set out and put the tabbouleh in the fridge. I left the kitchen, got out my computer, and started this blog entry.

The mindless eating feeling has passed and I can clearly hear and feel that I am full. But I know that had I stayed in the kitchen I would have eaten the whole bowl of tabbouleh not because I was hungry, but because I was checked out.

Eating is a relationship. When I am too hungry I ignore the new relationship I am trying to build and fall back on old habits. I take food for granted. I don't spend any time appreciating how the food I am eating tastes and I forget why I am eating.

As I work to get healthy one of the things I am doing is not getting angry at myself for waiting too long to eat. I'll just get some snack to keep in my office so if I end up staying late I can have a bar or an apple or something to tide me over until dinner. It's so easy to criticize myself for not being perfect. I am working to forge a new relationship with food and with my body. I like where I'm going. I like that I didn't stop at the burrito place, eat the costco food and even though I was hungry I managed to do pretty well not binging out of control. I still have to get through the rest of the evening without 'nibbling' all night, but I feel full, I feel good and I realize I really *am* changing my relationship with myself and with food.



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tasty Pork Tacos


Today's blog is a Big Green Egg birthday BBQ dinner :) Very healthy and while it took about 20 hours? It was sooo worth it.

 It started with a Pork Butt (actually, it's the butt of the pig shoulder)...

Now, you'll see this is armour pig shoulder? I bought it because it was on sale for 1.99 a pound. However, after thinking about it, I don't think I'll buy Hormel again. I'd much rather support local, sustainable farming, not the industrial farming Hormel represents. But the Butt Rub? Fan. Tas. Tic. I really like that it has no sugar.

I used the place setter in my big green egg with the metal pan to catch the drip pan.

I set the grill at 220 - 250 and cooked the pork until it reached an internal temperature of 200- apx. 20 hours. I have an incredible new thermometer that measures *both* the temperature of the egg *and* the temp of the food! AND???? IT'S REMOTE! So I can sit in my living room and look at the temp of the egg and the food without leaving my comfy chair! *laughter* woohoo!

This is a pic of the Princess and the Horses watching the green egg and the smoke and wondering what is going on!

I didn't take a photo of the finished product (I forgot) but here is the result: pulled pork with just the right amount of seasoning:

I also threw some sweet onion and yellow peppers onto the grill while it cooled (omg sooo yummy). I put a little saffola oil on them and some Butt Rub:

I made pico de gallo (tomatoes, cilantro, lime, jalapenos and onions), guacamole (avocados, lime, garlic salt, pepper, some salsa, cilantro, mashed together) and made spanish rice in my rice cooker (sushi rice and a can of Mexican tomatoes with mild chilis and cilantro and some cumin )

Dessert was chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries:
1 box of silk tofu
1/4 c agave
1c coconut milk
1 bar organic chocolate (no dairy)
1 bar Ghirardelli dark chocolate
3/4 c dairy free chocolate chips
1T vanilla
Melt chocolate in a pan slowly with coconut milk and vanilla until it turns shiny. Place the tofu into a large food processor and blend it until it becomes smooth. To help the blending you can add the agave (or maple syrup or honey if you prefer). Once the chocolate melts, turn the food processor back on and slowly add the chocolate to the tofu mixture. Mixture will look like pudding. Place into the refrigerator and allow to set up for several hours or overnight. Serve with raspberries a spring of mint and whip cream if you like. 

Wonderful, tasty and healthy! 



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anger Ain't the Enemy...


I find myself having to deal with some of my anger issues lately. I see it as sure sign that I am living a more healthy life.

I grew up in a household with a lot of anger. A lot of raging, actually. Unpredictable raging. Once the raging was over? Everyone pretended it never happened. Anger? Was BAD. Anger made me want to hide in closets or under the bed. Anger felt wild and I couldn't find safety in a world where uncontrolled anger could catch me when I wasn't looking. I never processed the difference between anger and rage. To me? They were the same thing.

When I first went to college I was sure that anger was an unproductive emotional response and I spent a great deal of time explaining to people (in my 'I know it all' college age way) that anger wasn't necessary and that the more 'elevated' your 'soul' was, the less you got angry. The 'new agey' people I was hanging around with constantly stressed how important it was to be an 'old soul' and how 'old souls' were so 'above' common emotions like anger'. Old souls were all 'love' and 'peaceful' and happy. I wasn't an 'old' soul if I felt anger, therefore, no anger from this girl. No sir, no way.

Not processing anger has left me with a great deal of pent up anger. I think in general, we as a society haven't learned to deal with anger. Lashing out at the idiot that cut me off in traffic? A general way of venting enough anger to keep the kettle boiling, but not overflowing.

Especially in relationships (both casual and 'partners'), I've found myself unwilling to get angry. Hey, patience is the sign of an evolved person, so I just. needed. to. be. patient. Which of course left me feeling bitter, resentful and usually? I just ate about it.

But lately I've been looking at things that make me angry. Looking back on past relationships I can see that not being willing to be angry caused me to spiral out of control on the inside. Calm and in control on the outside? Check. A furious, spiraling mess on the inside? Absolutely. 

I see so much rage around me, Liberals vs. Conservatives. Fox new lovers vs. Msnbc lovers. The Right vs. The Left. Rage against the Muslims. This rage isn't productive. I think working on our anger issues is responsible, understanding our fear is essential. But as long as we let tv/radio personalities drive us to rage? We've stopped thinking and are acting from a place of fear. Acting out of fear seldom produces sustainable outcomes that nurture us and make us healthy.

I'm practicing remembering to breathe. I'm learning to honor the anger I am feeling and then direct it where it belongs; being emotionally responsible means not vomiting emotions all over the people I love. I still believe forgiveness is an important way to process anger, but jumping to forgiveness without giving the anger due process? Isn't true forgiveness, it's actually rather condescending. 

I won't lie. Anger still scares me. I still want to run and hide under the bed like a frightened eight year old when someone around me screams or shouts profanity. I'd like to say I've mastered 'anger'. But I'm not sure that is something that will ever happen for me... and I'm not sure I want to 'master' anger. That sounds too dangerously close to 'being perfect' to me.

I am understanding that being angry and raging are two different things. Raging only leaves the people around you scared. Anger and rage are not the same things and being angry? Can be motivating, head clearing and sometimes the only way to reach self honesty. I got angry that I couldn't go on those rides at Cedar Point. I didn't get angry at the policies of Cedar Point, that isn't where my anger was really coming from. My anger came from feeling fat and knowing I needed to do something about it. I didn't remain angry, I used that initial anger to motivate myself to make some serious changes in my life. Staying angry isn't healthy, but accepting anger and working through it is helping me move to a new, healthy place in my life - it's being an adult not a frightened child. It isn't easy to work through anger, but I do believe it is essential to achieving a space where I am centered, present and the only way I know how to get and stay healthy. So much sickness and disease comes from not processing anger, fear and sorrow.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Chicken on the Egg


Quick recipe post... it isn't full of photos, but just in case you want to grill chicken on the egg... It just turned out so moist, flavorful and perfectly done I wanted to share what I did! I often dread boneless skinless breasts on the grill because usually? Someone has cooked the dickens out of the chickens (wow...that is so corny but I couldn't help it). However, the egg held in the moisture and even though I could have taken it off the grill earlier, it was still super moist and slightly smoky.

I started with organic chicken skinless/boneless breasts and lit the Big Green Egg...

It was just me, so I made two. I rubbed them with dry spice (Dizzy Pig Tsunami Spice) and let them set while I let the grill warm up...

Took a while for me to get the grill going and solid at around 350. It went up as high as 400 and at times hovered at 300... Eventually it settled in at around 360 or so... It's a vague science... I'm learning! *laughter*

I put a small amount of oil in pie pan where the chicken was waiting to be grilled. I just put the oil over the rub. Also? I used saffola oil - high smoking temp. and is extremely stable at high heats.

I placed the chicken directly on the grill and DID NOT TOUCH THEM for 15 minutes. When I went to turn them? They didn't stick and turned perfectly. They were registering about 100 - 115 degrees... I cooked them until they reached 170 - 180 and took them off the grill and let them sit for about 5 minutes.

The juices were clear and they looked beauteous!

I then sliced one and took a bite. It was delish! Absolutely moist, cooked fully (I could have taken it off the grill a few minutes earlier) and the outside was slightly smokey with grill marks as a nice added bonus. I didn't, however, like the rub I used. It was high in sugar and while it formed a nice crispy outside coating? It was really too sweet for me... I'll be giving this Dizzy Pig away and seek something else I like better for the chicken. HOWEVER I have to say I LOVE some of their other spice rubs... I will be buying more of the ones I like and featuring them later, but this one was just too sugary for me! 

Here it is sliced and ready to eat! Which I did. I am saving one of the breasts... if it makes it to Monday without being eaten? I see a bento box in its future!



A Friend in Need...


My best friend C. is recovering from cancer. Her husband? Also has cancer. She is about to go into surgery in two weeks (for the 3rd or 4th time now) and he is starting another round of chemo. Financially, emotionally, and energy wise, things have been very difficult for her the last few years, especially since last year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I was talking with her this morning. She said her brother's friend showed up at her door two days ago, telling her God told him to come and see if she needed help. For the first two days, she was sure she was doing 'him' a favor by giving him odd jobs to do around the house (he was off his meds, he clearly didn't know what he was doing, blah blah blah - amazing how we minimize gifts from the Universe). Anyhow, she was lying in bed this morning and she said she heard very clearly that God had sent him to help her. The last time she clearly heard this voice was about a year ago, when while at Disneyland with her family, that same voice told her to lay on the bed and feel her breast for lumps. She's learned to listen to that voice and respect it!  So, this morning she decided to accept the help from the friend and plans on giving him a list of things she needs to get done before her next round of surgery and before he leaves on Monday.

Now believe in God, don't believe in God... this was a breakthrough for her. See, C is one of those people with a mother that wasn't warm, wasn't supportive and has been needy and demanding of C her whole life - her mother always insists on coming first.  For example, C was telling me how when her hair started to fall out? Her mom had come to help her after the surgery and chemo. And while C's hair fell out in clumps, her mom sat and complained about how thin *her* hair was getting. When you grow up in house like that, you learn to anticipate what the other person needs and give, give, give. As a result, C grew up being a good caretaker, while not allowing or even knowing herself how to be taken care of. We were talking about how hard it is for her to accept help. It's easy for her to give help. She has been one of the most supportive, loving and giving people in my life. She has always been the head of my cheerleading team! She is the first one with a casserole when a family needs it, the first to donate her time to girlscouts with her daughter (even after surgery when she could barely lift her arms), first to care of her aunt (who's in a wheelchair), her grandmother (who essentially raised her and who she considers her mother) and truly anyone who needs extra help.

But as a woman, it is easy to be a caretaker - it's expected of us; it is much more difficult to be a 'care receiver'. It's hard to trust when you come from a background (especially one that included foster homes and a crazy step-father) where trust was a rare commodity. Plus? We have this crazy notion that accepting help is admitting to failure. I know for me, in the past, asking for help meant people might think I was incompetent or 'not as cool or clever as I wanted people to think I was".

I don't think I ever realized accepting help was partly about trust. And perhaps it is more than being able to trust; being able to accept help is about being healthy. What I realized for myself was that accepting help meant practicing self care. I help many people. I love it. It makes me feel comforted, competent and it makes me feel fulfilled that I can share a part of myself with someone that needs it. The more I share? The more the world wants to share with me. I don't like when things are demanded of me (my money, my time, my resources), but if someone needs something and I can volunteer? I likely will. Because it makes *me* feel good being able to share some part of myself with another.

Thing is? If I'm not willing to accept that natural flow of give and take? I end up denying myself and someone else the ability to share energy and participate in the dance of the Universe. Why should I be the only one doing the giving and enjoying it? Who am I to deny someone else the ability to give? As long as I respect the generosity of another without taking advantage of another's giving? The flow of energy stays in balance and everyone involved benefits.

For some people, especially people with  narcissistic mothers, it is difficult to believe you deserve to be taken care of, nurtured, and 'helped', especially if you weren't taken care of and nurtured as a child. How can you possibly allow yourself to be nurtured and taken care of as an adult when you don't even know what that feels like? C, by allowing someone to help her, is participating more fully in her own journey of recovery. Not just from cancer but from always being the one to 'give'. She is learning to truly open up to the flow of energy of the Universe and engage in the natural reciprocation of her lifetime of selfless giving.

It took me a long time to learn to receive. But once I did? The energy exchange was amazing and I see the flow every day in my life. People seem to come into my life just when I need them. I am grateful every single day that I am part of this cycle of love and being loved. And I practice saying thank you as often as possible.

But you have to be willing to ask  or at least be able to acknowledge you can't do it all alone. Then? You have to be willing to accept the help. Sometimes the universe offers you help even before you know you need it! Learning to trust yourself to say, "Yes, I could use some help with this task, Thank you!" is a huge accomplishment in being healthy!



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ending the Hunt for "Normal"


I have spent my life 'seeking normal'. Like some bad 80s movie starring Madonna, I've done it almost desperately. I can't tell you how many countless hours I have spent comparing myself to some mythic 'normal person' and saying, "What would a normal person do here?" I question so many of the things I do. I find myself thinking, "Okay, if I was normal, how would I act in this situation?" Usually the answer to that is some unrealistic expectation I can't even begin to emulate.

I'm going through a frustrating time in my life at the moment.  Looking at old patterns, seeing I am likely repeating one that hasn't served me well in the past. And not surprisingly, I find myself trying to figure out what a 'good' person, or a 'normal' person would do.

Tonight, I am extra grateful to my sister. I was chatting with her and I said, "I keep thinking a normal person would just wait and see what is going on instead of obsessing about it and being all upset."

And my sister said, "well.. I have to say.. I think that might not be true.. I think there is a difference between normal and healthy. Normal people tend to do stupid things, everyday - normal is mainstream, it's the masses. Normal doesn't mean healthy.  It takes conscious effort to be healthy. Healthy people have learned to make good choices for themselves, they have clarity of what doesn't work for them and they don't compromise their values. A healthy person has boundaries. She knows when someone treats her in a way that is not loving; a healthy person knows how to let others know when her boundaries have been crossed."

I thought a lot about that. Maybe there IS no normal, or at least no 'great noble normal' that is unrealistic and unfair to myself. I think my sister is correct, there is a difference between 'normal' and 'healthy'. Comparing myself to some mythical 'perfect person'? Is not being healthy. What is healthy is not beating myself up over struggling. It is allowing myself to have the experience I am having instead of trying to force myself to push through it like I 'think' a 'normal' person would do. Being healthy is recognizing my boundaries, respecting them and doing a better job of respecting myself.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comfort is as comfort does...


I don't feel well. I spent the day today doing something enjoyable - meeting with new parents and getting to know some of my upcoming students, but really? I kinda wanted to just spend the day sleeping - my whole body hurts and either my bed or my 'comfy chair' sounded wonderful.

I have resorted to comfort food today. Essentially I had the same breakfast as dinner... and for lunch? I had Pho. Really good Pho actually.

In general, comfort food is not considered healthy. And in the past? My comfort food included pizza or something deep fried. Today, I knew I wanted something comforting and did some processing of exactly what that meant to me. It meant warm, soft, but this time? It also meant healthy. Or at least 'healthyish'.

So instead of Taco Bell for lunch or a burrito for dinner, I had softboiled eggs and toast. I had it for breakfast and I had it for dinner. And when I went out to lunch? I chose something healthy and low in fat - Pho. I realized I didn't have to deny myself 'comfort', but instead could choose something 'comforting' that wasn't food I would regret eating tomorrow when I feel better. I also had an english muffin with homemade raspberry jelly I made which is low in sugar. I'm full, I'm happy and I know I ate well.

So often I have thought 'healthy' and 'diet' and NOT EATING ANYTHING GOOD were all the same thing.

They aren't. And it is possible to be healthy and still give myself some comfort :).


Tuesday, August 24, 2010



*groan* It pains me to admit I am getting a cold. Runny nose... sniffles... I started sneezing when I got home and last night at 2am I woke up with a horrific headache. Plus, all day today? I've felt like crying. Soooo, as much as I would normally fight this feeling and deny deny deny, this time? I may have to relent and just accept that my body has to process through this and maybe I could try partnering with it instead of putting on my war gear.

My colds start first in my back (which also currently hurts). I very seldom get sick, and when I do? It is usually some huge stress release hitting me full force. As I am working through emotional and physical purification I'm not surprised my body is working out toxins - there are a lot of them.

Feeling sick does NOT compute in my world. I don't have TIME to get a cold. And when I do, I end up trying to fight being sick. It's ME against my body. And damn it? I WILL win. It's as if getting a cold is some sort of defeat. Some shame. Some horrible failure of my body to stay healthy. I used to think that my 'energy' was out of alignment and that my chi was out of sorts and that's why I got sick. Because I wasn't 'mentally' clear.

meh. Now? I'm no longer willing to enter into a war with my body or blame my 'energy'. If I have a cold? It's because I put my hands in my mouth to chew a cuticle and ended up getting germs that caused my sniffles, back ache, head ache and watery eyes. I don't doubt right now I was more 'susceptible ' to a cold because I just traveled a lot, I haven't adjusted quite yet to a new sleep schedule, I *still* haven't unpacked my house, just had to move my office, school starts next week and I haven't planned my creative writing class. And? I'm working on my 'pile of pedestal debris'... so there's a lot goin' on in my body.

This cold? Is not a good reason to enter into a war with my body. This cold? Is a good reason to relax. To honor my body needing to process through the toxins. To support my body in a healthy way to work through this by hydrating, taking some vitamins and listening to my body tell me to go to bed early and nurturing myself back to health.

This leads me to think about other areas in my life that I push myself to rush through instead of nurturing myself and allowing my body to work through my 'stuff'... I think *that* is a blog for another day... maybe tomorrow. ;)

Tonight?  A warm blanket, a purring cat and an early bed time are in order. And even though I am not in a 'war' with myself over this cold? I plan on 'loving' myself through this for as short a time as necessary for my body to feel better :).


Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Breathe...


Tonight? I walked home and looked at the moon. Watched her peek in and out from the clouds. It was such a beautiful, quiet night. Tomorrow I start back to school, so enjoying the peace tonight is all part of my mental health.

Looking at the moon reminds me to breathe. With the rush of trying to get ready for school, moving my office and still trying to unpack my house, it's been rush rush rush since getting back. How easy it is for me to forget to breathe.

Breathing connects me to my heart. It reminds me to be present in my body. I had a wonderful dinner with a friend tonight. I completely love her and as I listened to her tonight, I took a moment to breathe and be grateful for the company, the laughter and even though we sit on different sides of the political table, we even danced around that topic for a while. On the way home, I looked into the sky and saw this huge, brilliant, full moon hanging over the sky above my house. My friend dropped me off at the end of my street and I walked back to my house in the moonlight, pulling my recycle bin behind me.

And as I walked? I remembered to breathe. To practice being grateful for my wonderful summer with old friends (and even a few new ones!), my father, my family. To honor the trade-off that even though my vacation is essentially over, I get to return to a job I love, people I work with that I love, a boss I respect tremendously and students that change my life every day. I am constantly amazed and thrilled with how much I learn from my students. I have almost no patience with drivers that insist on cutting me off when the road merges and the other driver feels it is OKAY to zoom up on my right and cut in front of me; but, the patience I have for my students is almost limitless. Not that my students don't, on occasion, push me to my limits, but more often than not I look forward to each different person that walks through my door - I know I am going to learn something and grow from the encounter.

So as sleep comes knocking  (okay it's more than knocking, it's rented out the bedroom and moved in) on my eyelids, I head to the dream world with a full heart, a space of gratefulness for a full summer, and a small amount of anxiety and excitement about the upcoming school year.



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mooooving on Down...


So, today makes 7 days since starting 'my weigh out' and the scale is moving back in the 'healthy' direction. Movement is actually key, and it's soooo hard for me. I was talking to my boss the other day and she was telling me about 'incidental exercise' and how valuable it is to simply add little movements to your day. Exercise doesn't have to be some 'big deal'... which I have made it be most of my life.

I don't know why exercise is so hard for me... I didn't always hate exercise. As a kid, I used to walk all the time or hang out at the pool all summer. But even as a kid I was overweight. It's almost as if when I was about 8 I got off track and was never really able to get back my enjoyment in exercise. The more complicated things were at home? The meaner kids were, the meaner *I* was, the fewer friends I had and the more food was a retreat. My life wasn't horrible, it was complicated though. And amongst all that my relationship to food also got complicated.

The heavier I got? The harder it was to exercise. The more exercise hurt. And the more my body hurt. So, I'd start some intense exercise regimen, but somewhere along the way, I'l lose the follow through. Then, feeling like an even bigger failure I'd retreat to food. The whole cycle became so overwhelming it got to the point I became afraid to try.  It was as if I already knew I was going to fail, why bother. And? As I became an adult, I exercised less and less and spent more and more time with food, around food, and basing many of my social relationships around food. Food was safe, right? But I hated food as much as I loved it.

So, once again I'm working on adding more movement to my life. Not huge moving, but this time, just pushing myself to move a little more every day. Today? I did 20 laps and exercised my arms and legs with resistance in the water. I didn't say to myself, OKAY self, time to go EXERCISE, I just swam until I was happy and then added arm and leg work with water resistance exercise gear. It was fun, I sat in the hot tub after words with my sister and we talked and enjoyed each other's company. And? I can feel in my body that I moved today. I like that feeling :).

Now you exercisy people out there? You can say "that isn't really exercise" but it is. It is incidental exercise. It is parking farther away, it is walking across the distance to a coworker's office to ask a question instead of sending an email. It is walking to the 'other' water dispenser. It is walking to get my mail instead of getting it on my way home from my car window. It's little moments of choosing something different that add up to a change in my life that I can live with. Adding even simple movements help and someday? If I do this more and more, I won't have to think, I should park farther away. or I should walk those extra steps instead of taking the escalator. Instead, it will be second nature.

Also? Once I feel more in shape, I think I'll be more inclined to exercise. I have a small tredmill in my house, I have the pool, I have a trampoline... none of those have to be forced, they are all convenient and my only goal is to use them. Just using them is something simple and something I can easily attain. Something I won't beat myself up for if I'm not perfect about it. But each day I do a little more exercise is a day I become more healthy. Eventually? I'll probably have to push myself a lot harder, but being healthy isn't about pushing myself right now. It's about making my life healthier and making changes that are meaningful and something I can continue the rest of my life.

I'm already seeing the small changes in my body and in my attitude about what I am eating, how I am eating and how I am moving. It's good and I know these small changes may not change the world, but they've started to change mine :).


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Recipe Time - Fish en Papillote


I ate dinner out last night with a wonderful friend and my sister. I found it really difficult to eat well, to know what was in the food and to be healthy. So, tonight I had some friends over and made Fish en Papillote. This blog is photo heavy, but worth it I think :)

To make this you'll need:

Parchment paper
Fillet of Sole (I used 8 to make 4 pouches)
8 crab legs
8 shrimp
Earth balance spread (I used the non-soy kind but butter is fine)
2 lemons
sliced shallots
Mrs. Dash garlic blend
One jar of Trader Joe's grilled peppers (you can use any brand or grill your own peppers)
white wine (I used an ohio blend of Haut Sauterne)
Marinated artichoke hearts
Asparagus (the thinner the better)

I cleaned the crab legs and saved the shell (I boiled it to make crab bisque later!) and cleaned the shrimp (mine was already cooked - I just pulled off the shells and added it to the water with the crab shells)

I tore a sheet of parchment paper (I just guessed on the size...)
Here you see all the items ready for me to use:
Place the fish in the center of the parchment

Melt 1/2 stick of margarine (or about 1/3 cup) and add 1T of lemon a little salt and pepper and 1/4c of white wine. Place 2 shrimp, crab, shallots, and two slices of pepper on top of the fish. Put 1T of sauce over top and sprinkle with Mrs. Dash. Place asparagus, 2-3 marinated artichoke hearts and parsley around the fish.

Place a second piece of fish on top and put another Tablespoon of the butter/wine mixture on top, 1T of butter on top of the asparagus, a couple more slices of the pepper. Sprinkle more Mrs. Dash on the fish and slice some lemon and place it on the fish. You may want to crack some pepper and a little salt over top.

Fold the parchment diagonally over the fish and start to fold the corners over top of each other (almost like rolling the parchment:

Keep folding the edges around until you get to the end. I just folded the end under the pocket.

Okay, do the other packets just the same:

Heat the oven to 375F and put the packages on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until the packets puff up and turn a little bit brown. I also made wild rice with a little chicken broth to eat along with the packets.

And this is the final product! It was so wonderfully tasty and not very high in calories. It was easy to monitor how much salt and other ingredients went into the dinner.

I added a wonderful glass of wine to the dinner (the same I used in the fish) and we ate every bit of it up! The rice soaking up the broth from the packet was pretty amazing!

So happy birthday Quynh! I enjoyed making a healthy dish in order to celebrate! 


Friday, August 20, 2010

Breakin' Up is Heart to do...


I have a friend who is going through a relationship breakup. She was sure he was The One and now? Not so much. I can identify, having recently gone through my own breakup. I'm still sorting through the pieces so I suspect this entry might be a bit muddy... it's a process, right?

I'm not going to go on about why my marriage failed, but I see a similar pattern to what is happening with my friend and what happened to me. I think it's all tied up with being healthy.

I tend to put people on pedestals. High ones. When I meet someone, I think that is sort of natural. That other person is magical at first. Both of us sitting high on our pedestals holding hands across the abyss. But, due to the nature of the universe, and that little thing called gravity? People fall; pedestals break. The fall is hard; heaven knows I've gotten hurt. Hurt because the dreams and expectations I had for my relationship and the person I put on the pedestal have come crashing down into shards around me. And generally? Both people fall off their respective pedestals about the same time... so there we both are. Standing in plaster and marble and 'crap' up to our elbows.

This is where you find out what your relationship is made of... when you are standing there, in the middle of your pile of crap up to your elbows. You either look at each other, cry a little over the destroyed pedestals and rebuild a solid foundation together? Or you don't. For me? I felt like I stood in the crumbles wanting to talk about it and build upon it... and my partner was busy building another pedestal. One I didn't fit on... and hey... that's how it goes sometimes. No doubt, being down in the crumbles is hard! Who wants to hang out in the dirty air and the dust? It's much easier to hang out higher up, in the clean air...

But this summer? I spent some time in the rubble and the dust. I looked through the pieces of my pedestal and appreciated all the reasons why I had built it in the first place. The laughter, the good times. And I'd like to think I spent some time cleaning up my debris.

I'm hoping next time I meet someone? I build a pedestal that is about...ohh... knee high. High enough to adore, but not high enough to be blinding. Because, what I know? Is that I believe in love... I believe that love can last a long time - a life time in some cases. But both people involved? Have to want that. Have to want to pick up the pieces once the pedestal cracks. Have to acknowledge expectations that are unfair or unbalanced and work together to find a way to build love and a life - together. And building a more realistic image of the other person is a lot easier than trying to clean up a massive amount of shattered hopes and crushed dreams. Small pedestals ftw*.

Weirdly? I think it is healthy going through breakups. One of my dearest friends says, "there is nothing harder to get over than heartbreak" and I think that is true.  I've done some crazy things in my life trying to 'get over love' but I think I've done equally crazy things 'trying to find love'. All I know? Is that desperation is no way to find love that lasts, is healthy and solid. But when I have gone through a break up, I have almost always emerged healthier and wiser. So, while I don't advocate a relationship break-up as a way to personal enlightenment and growth, when it happens it is an opportunity to do a little housecleaning.

So, how was the end of my relationship healthy? Well, because I left a situation that wasn't nurturing, and because I was willing to spend some time working through the crap pile I carry around with me. What I'm realizing is that love is about finding myself. Being happy with who I am. Loving what makes me unique and special. Knowing those things about myself, focusing on becoming the best "MaryKate" I know how to be is incredibly powerful. It means, next time I find myself in a relationship, I can come at it without 'desperation' or overblown expectations that someone is going to 'save' me or 'worship' me or 'take care' of me. If I do all those things for myself, it's just gravy if someone comes along who also does those things! I realize we are flawed beings, and we all have our quirks and baggage - I am no exception. Heck I might be the poster child for flawed, but then, I'm not expecting perfection in myself or in a partner. Just someone who is as invested as I am in making a life together, sharing a capacity to acknowledge the needs of the other person and being willing to talk about things and work through things together.

In the meantime, I'm not expecting someone to come walking through my door and 'presto' suddenly I'm in love again and the sun is shinier and the clouds are less cloudy. I think it takes time after the end of one space in your life before diving in to another...

So I'll just spend a little more time with me - healing, laughing, crying, growing, becoming more focused on being healthy and trusting my own healing. I hope my friend does the same. If I have any advice worth anything, this is what I would tell her:  I know the heartbreak cuts you apart, but take stock in that cutting, because it might just be the best way to let go of some of that baggage, lighten up and shine all the brighter :)!!


*ftw = 'for the win' to explain to my non-gaming friends: It means 'victory' or 'doing what it takes to make the team or self successful'

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tripping the Pet-fantastic

This morning while making my breakfast, I looked out the window and the color of a stump for a moment reminded me of my cat. Not my current cat, but the cat who first stole my heart - Rubio. The moment passed quickly and I realized what I had done and chuckled to myself. I remembered the day he was born. I had just graduated from college and was about to head to grad school. His mother had been a stray that had wormed her fat bellied, yellow-eyed, squishy-faced mug into my life. I had named her Mukata (meaning 'owl' in some obscure language as I recall...). One day, when I walked into my tiny apartment, Mookie was giving birth in the corner next to the couch. The floor was bloody and she was crying out, I didn't realize what was wrong until I walked over and saw all the kittens. I named them after Shakespeare characters, Romeo (he was adorable), Desdemonda (she was gray with marbled circles on her), Hamlet (who was always confused) and Rubio (who wasn't named after a Shakespeare character, but a cute boy I met in Mexico...)

Mookie's end was tragic... she accidentally drown chasing a raccoon into a pool she couldn't jump out of. The reason I bring it up? Is because of my mother's response. My mother who seldom cried, seldom expressed overt tenderness? Had deeply connected with Mookie. My mom would sit and do puzzles for hours. Mookie would sit on the table with her, keeping her company. She'd sleep above my mom's head on the couch and never demand more of my mother, than my mother was physically or emotionally able to give. When Mookie died, my mother looked at me and said, "Don't ever bring another animal into this house." And I knew, beyond a doubt how deeply my mother was grieving the loss of her pet.

I still miss Rubio. And even though I now have the "Princess" and love her tremendously... there is a place in my heart where Rubio lives and will always live.

I'm not going to make a blanket statement here, but oh wait... yes I am. Pets change lives. Or, pets can change lives. One of the healthiest things I did after my divorce, was get a pet. When I got married I gave up the cat I had adopted at the time. Due to allergies and such, I certainly (although foolishly) did it willingly thinking it would be no big deal to me. But it turned out to be one of those 'painful learning experiences' I've had a few of...  I felt lonely and like something important was missing in my life. Even when my marriage was going well, I wanted a dog or an 'allergy free cat' or *something*. And while I didn't end up getting one, I realize now how deeply pets matter to me. They connect me to my heart and speak deeply to the ability for me to be devoted. They are such bundles of drama, but they are also bundles of warm snuggles on the couch, purrs in the evening, and alarm clocks in the morning. I adore the new addition to my family and I realize how devoted I have become to my little 4 legged monster. This morning, and well... every morning she gets under my feet. Tripping me all the way to the kitchen... for her? love = food. I have a pet with weight issues. This does not surprise me. *chuckle*

Pets give us the opportunity to love. To fill our lives. To connect on a deep level with another being. We don't have to understand their language (although I am CLEAR what the 'I'm hungry' meow sounds like) but we connect with them anyhow.I remember the first cat we had in our family. My father, from the depth of his lungs scolded us "There will be NO cat in this house it is an OUTSIDE cat!" It took two weeks for that cat to be following him everywhere and sleeping on his lap at night. Pets? Are just like that I suppose.

From my kitchen window I can see horses at the farm next door. These horses are show horses. They are absolutely magnificent. And I see the people that pet them, and love them and I think about so many of my students who show horses. Their admiration for their animals truly goes beyond 'pet' and into the realm of 'partner'. They learn to read each other's language: horse to man, man to horse. It is a beautiful and graceful dance they do together.

For so long, I used food to fulfill an empty space in my soul. And while I'd love to say getting a pet will help you lose weight, I don't know that's true. But having a pet that I love and that loves me? Makes walking away from that brownie, just a wee bit easier...

So give your pet a hug today if you have one... if you don't? Consider adopting a pet  from the shelter or pound, I did. If you have room in your life, giving a pet a forever home? Is a gift that can and likely will change your life... I know it changed mine.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thin may be in, but healthy's where it's at!

A friend of mine posted a question to me on my facebook page (I'm pretty sure she'll be okay with me reposting it ;) )

Read your blog so far. Yes, accountability is absolutely the key. I would be curious to know more what issues you discovered were foundational to your love of food because I've never been able to figure that out about myself.

This blog? Isn't actually a response to her question - although I am sure eventually I'll share some of those issues. *lol* It's about the initial reaction I had to her question.

This friend of mine, to me, is thin. When I read her question, I thought to myself, why is she asking me about weight issues?... she's beautiful! She has a body I would *love* to have. So, while I was making my dinner tonight, I processed some of my reactions to her question. I started to think about some of the other women I work with and that are in my life. So many of them seem to be constantly worried about what they eat, how they eat, when they eat, if they eat...

I thought about when I first had the idea to start a '100 days of being healthy' blog. It was this summer; my goddaughter's girl scout troop was going to Cedar Point and she asked me to go. I panicked. You know how they have height requirements for rides where in order to ride, you have to be a certain height? Well, at Cedar Point now, they have 'size' restrictions. They have a sample 'seat' at the start of the line for the ride. If you get in the seat and it won't lock? You can't get on the ride. Seven years ago, when I went to Cedar Point, I barely fit into some of those seats. That was thirty pounds ago. I couldn't imagine the humiliation of my goddaughter looking at me and me having to say to her "Sorry babygirl, I can't go on this ride with you." Mind you, she wouldn't have been upset, she would have likely shrugged her shoulders and said, 'Let's find a different one"... or "Can I go with my friends then?" But I couldn't handle having to face the embarrassment of it. I also knew a whole day of walking around Cedar Point in the sun? Would be too much for me. So I didn't go with her.

When I think about being overweight (and according to my BMI I am morbidly obese - ouch it stings just writing that), I think about what that means in my world. Issues with airplanes, issues with rides, issues with some theater seats, issues with chairs, issues with certain beds, issues with how and where I sleep, issues with blood sugar and issues with my general health. What I hadn't thought about is that a woman you might look at and think "wow, she's so thin and beautiful" might very well have issues with her body. Heck, she is likely to have issues with her body. Those issues are probably different than the ones I struggle with, but just as valid and just as difficult for her to navigate.

Getting healthy for me isn't about getting thin. There are some amazingly beautiful women that I work with and others that I am friends with that have just as 'big' of body issues as I have. Being 'thin' has nothing to do with letting go of body issues - it's no magic cure. As my sister once said to me, "There's no such thing as emotional bypass surgery." Getting thin doesn't cure anything. I am not writing this blog and eating better and exercising more to 'get thin'. Because clearly ' being thin' has nothing to do with being happy with your body.

I'm going on this journey so that I like myself better. So that I wake up feeling better and so that I can go into a store, buy clothes and not hate or want to scream at or be incredibly depressed about what I see. What I 'weigh' isn't as important to me as the 'way' I see myself. I'm learning to appreciate who I am and that is what truly matters.

Well... and fitting into the seats at Cedar Point! Because Mads? Next summer? You better be ready!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lunch Lessons

If I had written this blog post at 8am this morning when I got the incredible brain storm for it, I would have called it "I HATE lunch!". And while I still do... hate lunch that is... I had an experience today that brought a shift for me in my relationship to food and to my noon time meal.

In general, my past history has meant hating lunch time. I never know what to pack, I get food coma by 2pm if I eat at the deli across the street and I spend too much money and time worrying about it. If I haven't figured out lunch by the time I leave in the morning at 8am, by 10am I start thinking... god... what am I doing for lunch today? I am almost always too busy in the morning to bother packing something,then I'm super busy at work until noon. Worse, when I *do* pack something, usually I've just thrown it together before running out of the house and by noon? I don't want it anymore.

This morning I decided to do a recipe search for lunch items that are easy and healthy. I figured if I could find some easy recipes that I could make the night before and have ready to go in the morning, it would go a long way in solving my lunch drama. While scouring the internet, I came across two sites: laptop lunches and  bento lunch livejournal - I was hooked! If I had written in my blog this morning? I would have gone on and on about how cute the boxes are, how fun they look... how easy it will be to put together nice, simple, healthy meals.. blah blah blah. And while I still think that, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum...er... Asian grocery store...

So, I loaded my dreams and my butt into my car and headed down to Uwajimaya in Bellevue to buy me some bento boxes. I called my sister and asked her if she wanted in on my BIG NEW IDEA (I have a lot of those) and she was game... so my goal? Two bento boxes of happiness.

I got to the store ready to buy my bento!

 I went to the bento section, but the boxes were $35 *and*, they weren't what I wanted. Sooo I went to the 'cheap' bento section:

Still couldn't find what I wanted. Back and forth I went, maybe 5 times? Then I started surreptitiously opening the packages to see the cute little boxes inside. STILL NOT HAPPY. I stood there, looking at the bento boxes trying to figure out what was wrong.

Then it hit me. My crazy voice in my head said...

 No way MK, these boxes are waaaay TOO SMALL! 

I stared at the tiny boxes.

You can't POSSIBLY be satisfied with the amount of food you can shove in these tiny boxes!

I kinda started to panic.

It isn't enough food I tell you!!!

My voice screamed at me so loudly I was worried the Asian lady next to me was going to start staring.

 It's all a HOAX! Those website people took photos of their bento boxes up close! Made them look bigger. IT'S NOT FAIR!!! IT'S the BIG LIE!!!!! You neeeeed a bigger bento box!

 As I stood in the middle of Uwajimaya, I realized I was getting pretty anxious.

 You don't honestly think that is going to be enough food do you? Put those 'baby' boxes back. Go home, go online and BUY some ADULT sized bento boxes!

I put the bento boxes down. I picked them up. I put them down. I hadn't eaten since 8am and it was 2pm, I was hungry and decided to get some sushi at the cafe they have in the store. Perfect opportunity to contemplate bento boxes.

I grabbed a 6 piece California roll, paid and sat down. I got out my chopsticks and began popping out the cucumber and setting it aside.  As I sat eating my 6 piece California roll I focused on eating slowly and enjoying each bite. I let go of the bento drama and just appreciated the flavor (even if it was krab with a "k) of the fresh sushi roll. I began to realize that I have been thinking about lunch all wrong. My meal was finished and I was fine. Not screaming full, but fine. I went over and bought 3 marble sized red bean sesame rolls (yum!) and after I ate those I realized I was happily full. ALL the lunch I had just eaten would easily fit into the little bento boxes I had refused to put in my cart. Heck, I could even add a peach slice, or some tomato slices or or or...

I took a deep breath and centered myself. I said to that anxious little voice inside, "Hey crazy voice, it's going to be okay. See? We aren't still hungry. We can let go of the image of the huge burger with fries and a large iced tea for lunch. I promise I won't let you get too hungry, but I think we can honestly be happy with the food we can fit in the bento box. Really! We're cool."

I felt better. I went over, picked out two bento boxes, a nice a rice steamer, wandered around and found lots of cool new foods, checked out and then headed off to Trader Joe's to finish my shopping day.

Today ended up being about understanding how easily I have fallen victim to huge portion sizes being 'normal' and how, when I listen to my body, I really DO know when I am full. It's a big shift in how I see food and how I relate to my body.

So yay for the bento box. This blog entry certainly wasn't the blog I *thought* I was going to write today, but funny how it is turned out to be the blog I needed to write.



This is my first attempt at a Bento lunch... maybe not beautiful... but it's a start. It's a salmon patty with garlic/lemon mayo. Thai peanut rice with scallions and celery with raisins and peanut butter. Two little raspberries add color :).

Monday, August 16, 2010

And? We're Off...

It took me three days to try to find a 'witty' title for this blog. I had about twenty names here are the final top ten:

  • Over weight, on to healthy (funny, yes? yeah I didn't think so either)
  • 100 days, 100 ways to being healthy (too long)
  • Weight weight don't tell me (NPR anyone?)
  • Weigh down to the heart of it (does that need explanation as to why it didn't win?)
  • Feed the heart not the hole (my sister suggested that one... it had double and triple entendres which seriously took it out of the running)
  • 40 not fatty (clever but yeah... not so much)
  • 42, eyes of blue, why do I weigh 282? (hahah that one still makes me laugh)
  • Leaving the fat behind (which was a *really* close second)
  • Fit x 44 (Fit by 44 - which sounded like an SUV)
  • Recipes of a newly fit girl (which every time I read it read "recipes of a newly fat girl... which seriously missed the point)
'My Weigh Out' won. I chose it because finding myself? Has been one seriously long journey. I'm 42, and still seeking. My highest weight was this January. I weighed 315. At the peak of my unhappiness I peaked on the scale. Trying to navigate a crumbling, emotionally vacant marriage I sought comfort and closeness in familiar habits. I couldn't get closeness from my husband? No problem. Something deep fried *always* fixed that - except when it didn't. Which was happening more and more often. But seriously, we all know that story. Those who struggle with weight. Who struggle with self esteem. Who struggle with being present. 

I got a divorce, started to dig myself out of past habits and starting getting my life together. I stopped trying to be perfect and started being present. After spending the summer at home with my 83 year old dad, I worked through some issues that were the foundations of my poor relationship with food  (the reasons I eat are legion, and few of them are actually good) but since January, I've shed about 30 pounds and find myself around 285 right now.

Then I got back to the fine Pacific Northwest, got on the scale and realized my weight loss had stalled. And I thought... what can I do? How can I hold myself accountable and move forward in this journey?  The answer was to do what a million other people are doing. Write a blog. One about me and how I'm spending the next 100 days being healthy. Not being perfect. That's my goal. I'll share some recipes I'm trying, I'll share some ideas I have about reconnecting with my spirit, and I'll share my physical journey the best I know how. 

Join me... tell me what you think you could do in 100 days to improve your life. I'm interested in hearing about it. Read along... comment... lurk :). Mostly I'm writing this to keep myself accountable. But if you think you might enjoy coming along, I'd appreciate the company.