Monday, July 16, 2012
I'm one of those people who will generally walk right past labels that proudly proclaim a food "low fat" or "low sodium" or "organic" or "all natural" - or at least look at the nutrition label and ingredients. In point of fact, I despise marketing for all the deceptiveness that is involved.
Every one of those words affixed to a food is supposed to make the person eating it feel they've picked something healthy.
Well Sunday at the grocery store I sort of fell for one without realizing it.
Peanut butter. Growing up I remember us taking plastic tubs to the health food store and having a machine that ground the peanuts to fill it. There were settings to have it crunchier or creamier, but ALL it contained was 100% peanuts. No added salt, no added oil, no added sugar. "All natural" peanut butter.
So I saw a jar of "Natural" peanut butter, saw the warning about oil separation (very familiar with pure peanut butter), vaguely noticed the low sodium claim (nearly half the sodium of the normal), and bought it.
Today, as I spread it on my celery, I actually looked more closely at the jar and label and ingredients.
I feel dumb for not "reading the label" first. (But, to be honest, it is better than what I've usually picked up. It was just the thinking that I should switch back to a more natural peanut butter that pulled me in - and next time I'll actually get one that is 100% peanuts.)
1) It's a peanut butter spread.
The moment they affix the word spread, that means it is less than some legally required percentage to count as simple peanut butter. In this case, 90% peanuts. Which sounds good until you realized ... 10% what else?
2) It's one of the two big brands.
All that means is EXPECT sugar. Sugar and molasses are natural. So is salt. So is palm oil. Yep, that's the ingredient list. In fact, that made me go look at the regular version. What's the difference here? Peanuts and sugar. No change there. Oh, they used palm oil instead of "hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean)" but added more oil because it couldn't be labeled "contains 2% or less". Oh, and they left out the mono and diglycerides.
Sooooo ... all they left out were the "unnatural" fatty acids that are used to prevent the oil separation, giving it a false apparency of being the pure peanut butter while being nothing of the kind and giving them the legal ability to call it "natural".
3) Gotta love "low sodium".
2% or less of the following ingredients: Salt. But it's really only a difference of about 80mg of sodium. BOTH versions, the natural low-sodium and the regular, contain less than 2% of salt. That doesn't really say much more than a marketing lure.
Another lesson learned.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Sometimes going for a walk down memory lane is like doing an archaeological dig.
Originally my blog title for yesterday said it had ... some extra thoughts on "sexy". I had intended to expand on my original reply on that blog as I continued to think about certain periods of my life and their impact on my attitude and reactions to the idea of whether I am sexy, and really whether I want to be.
Then I kept typing.
And typing some more.
Eventually I realized it was going to be too long for that blog - so I clipped it off and posted what I had without all that rambling. I emailed the rest to myself (since I was at work). I later edited the title of the blog, but have no idea which shows up for people.
Last night at home, I kept adding to it as I thought of things. When I stopped, saving the file in a document, it was near the end of a 6th page. I was still leaving some things out or unsaid with the concept of posting it - but I think I'll keep working with it and fill in the details I wouldn't actually ever tell anyone.
Simplest summary I can try for, hmmm.
I had some "wild" years. At 18 I'd never kissed a guy. I'd had one crush my senior year in high school, but otherwise nada. By 3 years later, my 21st birthday, I had a child out of wedlock I gave up for adoption whose father is uncertain and more sexual experiences than I can remember and count. Before my EX, my only actual relationship was a boyfriend that lasted a few weeks before he did cocaine and I walked out.
( I was wild, sure, but I did not do drugs or approve of them, did not smoke, and preferred not to drink. Most of my wild behavior centered around promiscuity. )
As I hit 21, I began to wake up. That's the best way I can describe it. I didn't want that life. "Sexy" was the only way I knew to attract someone, but I had proven to date that it didn't create a relationship - just sex.
With those thoughts in mind I met my EX at a nightclub - his smile hooked me, his friend tried to hit on me, but I made it clear that he was the one who caught my eye. I took him home. Inside I felt like it was just more of the same - I wasn't changing like I told myself I wanted to.
Except, he didn't leave in the morning. He wrote me the sweetest love letter while I was at work and was still there when I got home. I was hooked.
Looking back on that I suddenly realized that my entire relationship with my EX was fabricated on the fact he met my keenest need at the time - to feel like I was desired for something more than some horizontal tango. Sure, I usually did the walking out, but part of that may have been avoiding the reality that I knew they weren't around to stay. And here he seemed interested in staying.
Within the month he asked me to marry him and have a child. Pregnant a month later, married a few months past that, the first cheating I learned about was when my DS was an infant. He met her at a nightclub after we had an argument and he took off.
CRASH! There went any belief I had that I was more than "sexy". So began four years of fights, separations, cheating, and me being unwilling / unable to walk because that would just prove ~I~ didn't have what it takes to build a real relationship that survives, something more than "sexy" leading to sex.
After our divorce, I tried once. I met someone through a personals site, went out with him a few times, but looking back on it I made sure it wouldn't work. He was here on a work visa, so it couldn't last more than a few months, he was very dedicated to his mother and sisters who would likely help him pick a caste-appropriate wife, and he had performance issues.
Soon after that, as I fended off other nibbles from the personals site, I made the decision that led to my weight gain. I didn't WANT to be sexy. All sexy got me was sex and emptiness. It would be easier to be invisible.
I don't know what I want now. I can't seem to avoid being viewed as "sexy" by certain individuals. It took shutting myself in, not the weight, to avoid most contact of that sort. A part of me cringes every time someone compliments anything about my appearance - looking younger, looking slimmer, looking good in any way. I have to actively work at accepting compliments.
I feel like I never learned to play the relationship game at all and sexy is the only way I can join back in. At the same time, I fear that using sexy to get into play will just return me to a variant on those wild years, but in the ugly guise often called a Cougar. (A term I despise and tend to react VERY poorly to when people have teased me with it.)
I actually AVOID thinking about the "sexy" side of things as much as possible. I watch my muscles develop and don't think about the curves. When I'm complimented by random men, I make myself say thank you and appreciate that my effort was noticed ... but inside I am rattling off a whole litany of how I'm only attractive relative to the other women he gets to see, only because he's horny and thinks I might be swayed by a compliment, and more.
I have to REJECT the possibility I'm sexy or can be. Somewhere in this screwed up psyche of mine, accepting or desiring "sexy" leads to a life I don't want to live again, leading only to sex but never to love or respect or any sort of lasting romantic interest. (All that glosses over a fear that I can't successfully have one, that it is something wrong with me that will prevent any relationship from work. Not a fear that I can't be loved or am undeserving, but more that some personality flaw makes me impossible to put up with long-term.)
I'm refusing to let those fears detour me from having a healthy and fit body, from changing my life to embrace healthy habits.
But the fears don't go away. They run around in circles.
And my longish history that I'm writing has me looking further back and wondering about connections. Even before "sexy" was an issue for me, what made me disconnect like that? Or is it really just a deep part of my natural personality? Was I ever in a relationship that I didn't walk away from for some reason? After all, I moved out at 18 after graduating and never looked back. I walked away from my pre-school "friend" when we started different grades in school. I was only 6 when I walked away from that like it didn't even matter.
... and it's just a little ugly and frightening to have a part of me ask whether that's why I stick with my best friend so firmly even as I feel like we're drifting further and further apart. Am I trying to prove through him that I'm not so messed up that I'll walk away from everyone eventually?
Oddest part? With all that whining and griping, you'd think I was upset or feeling huge amounts of turmoil. I'm not. There's even enough emotional disconnect that my reaction is to look at it like a puzzle - as though I were a spectator trying to figure out how it fits and not the one being affected by it.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
As I said in my status, for whatever reason today all three of the Featured Member Blogs produced quite a reaction for me. I'm linking them all here so I can remember them and why they impacted me so much.
NOTE: I don't actually receive them as emails. I daily go to them for the three points I can get easily. If you also don't check emails, you can do this by going to Account / Email Preferences, the Email tab, and look for the links that say "View today's".
( 1 )
What is Sexy?
** I had replied yesterday, but have continued to think about something I briefly mentioned in the reply that I don't often say much about. I've been writing it out and remembered some things I didn't before as well as connected a couple of things. (I started to write more here, but it is getting way too long - so it might be a later blog. Not sure how much to put, still figuring out whether things are connected or not. Yikes.)
( 2 )
8th Anniversary of July 11, 2004... May be graphic for some..
** I was in tears at the point she spoke of the post-accident recovery and how she and her mother were there for each other so fully. I'm in awe of her from that one blog. In addition, the fact that it is only now, just over 8 years later, that she has crossed another boundary and worn shorts is a fantastic reminder that this journey is life, not just "until I weigh ###" or "until I look like ___". It is about constantly growing, constantly stretching, constantly working to open our world further.
( 3 )
Looking Beyond The Scale
**This one is a message I often try to convey to others. However, right toward the end he mentioned one of his non-scale victories that just stopped me short: == When wife told me - "Hey, you no longer stop breathing at night. I'm not afraid you'll just die while we sleep." ==
I am definitely guilty of convincing myself I was healthy for an obese person. My father was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes around 10 or so years ago, told me because it would be a risk factor for me, and my reaction was ... I can't possibly be diabetic given how much sugar I eat without having blood sugar issues. I researched. I knew just how stealthily it could cause damage - to the point that some people don't know until they're going blind or losing a leg or have irreperable nerve damage. But I was simply convinced I didn't have that issue.
Seriously ... I was relieved when my vision exam included something to check for diabetic damage and came back clean. Not like that was proof that I don't have diabetes or pre-diabetes. I've been working on dental stuff and putting medical stuff off until November to make decisions (that's when open enrollment is and I'll be deciding whether to do so or not). I want to smack myself silly. I know all this, I write this, and I'm not even thinking about setting up an appointment yet. GAH!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Years ago I had a group in a game that I called "Random Acts of Kindness" or RAoK. We did just that - randomly went up to people and gave them things that were useful, offered answers to questions and assistance with in-game tasks, or sometimes just friendliness and an emoted smile and wave. (We being my brother, my son, and I, as well as a couple of in-game friends that joined us later.)
We expected nothing in return. The entire point was to be a positive part of others' experience. If there was anything to be hoped for, it was that those we aided, those we cheered up, would be more friendly to others in-game -- that they would "Pay It Forward."
The more complete idea behind "Pay It Forward" being that rather than try to repay someone who helped us, the "debt" we owe is to help someone else in turn. As Ben Franklin put it - the help can go through many hands until some Knave stops its progress.
I don't usually ask people to pay things forward as though it were a debt. Rather I tend to mix the two - engage in as many Random Acts of Kindness as possible in the hopes that more than a few people will Pay it Forward if they see someone else in need.
(And if you haven't heard of it or seen it before - I highly recommend a short little video on YouTube called "Change for a Dollar". Such a beautiful reminder of how it can be the smallest things that make the biggest difference.)
Today, I had a direct and rather unexpected experience that reminded me of how something we do can impact another person.
Months ago, I can't even remember when exactly it was that long, a woman came into our office suite at just about closing time for me. She was trying to find a particular address and having trouble.
Now, our office suite is upstairs, it is at the back of the building, and it didn't even have a permanent sign with our business name on the door (just a printed paper taped over the last company's sign). She could have picked any of a dozen other offices in the building to step inside and ask, but somehow came upstairs and all the way to the end and picked our door.
We'd only been in the office suite a few months. While I know the general area, I didn't know where the number she was looking for could be found. But I wasn't just going to say "I don't know" and send her away. I'd shut down my computer in preparation to leave, so I started it back up. We tried the phone number she had with no luck while waiting. Finally the computer was up and I tried working with Google maps without a whole lot of luck.
I made a guess based on what I could figure out, then walked out with her. Based on my guess we walked a couple blocks in one direction - and luckily were able to confirm I was right and she was able to get going as I headed back to my bus stop.
I'd nearly forgotten about it - just one random person I'd done what I could to help.
She walked in again today and asked for me. I was busy on the phone right at that moment, so she spoke with someone else while waiting. When I came out, she thanked me for helping her that day, that she had made it to the appointment she had. She just couldn't let it go and had to come back to say thank you.
Months later that one small action I took - 20 minutes of my time - had that much of an impact on her that she came back just to thank me.
And my reaction? To tell her that my fondest hope is that someday, somehow, she "pays it forward" - helping someone else as I helped her.
In a way, it's a big part of our community here on SparkPeople. We can cheer each other on through Random Acts of Kindness. Giving SparkGoodies, commenting on a status, replying to a blog, sending a SparkMail, making a comment on a photo or page. And if you think back to the first few Sparkers who welcomed you, helped you out - the greatest repayment is doing that to the "next generation" by welcoming newer Sparkers, helping them out, making them feel as included as we have been.
Oh, and just to give an idea of the complexities of the address and numbering - why even Google Maps didn't make it easy:
The street our office building is on is called East H____ Ave.
We're on the south side which is in one city and has even numbers. The north side is in another city and has odd numbers.
West of us is a freeway and the numbers go up in sequence from a cross-street on the other side of that freeway until they reach us. Just past the freeway going away from us, both sides are part of the same city. (Some ways past the freeway it turns into West H____ Ave. and the numbers go up in the other direction.)
There is a housing / apartment development is across the street from us and has its own little named roads within, including H___ Place - giving it the same name and similar numbering including even numbers, but placing it in the other city.
Right at our cross street (we're on a corner), it loses the East designation and becomes simply H____ Ave. The numbering seems to jump - so while our building is 1500 E. H___ Ave. and the church "next" to us on the other side of the cross street is 1980 H___ Ave.
Not only that, but apparently BOTH streets we are on the corner of are the boundaries of the city we're in. The church is in the other city.
The address she was looking for was something like 1580 or 1620 H____ Ave. The lack of East made me guess, and we then confirmed, that past the church the numbers went down again - so she was headed the right way, but it was further down than she'd expected and the 1980 made her think she'd missed it.
Sunday, July 08, 2012
I've mentioned this before, I think. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness. I'm not now and haven't been since before I had my first child at 20, but there are some things I do still have from that upbringing.
One is my lackadaisical approach to holidays / celebrations of any sort. I don't have any of the food traditions or the family gathering expectations. Which does make my life easier in that regard.
Another is my knowledge of Bible teachings and stories. I may not be a Christian any more, but I read the entire Bible through at least twice, know all the common Bible stories and some of the more uncommon ones. It would be hard to NOT know given 18 years of regular meetings.
Jehovah's Witnesses don't just meet for a Mass on Sunday. We had three days a week - one a small-group book study, one a full-congregation meeting with both a participation session to help us prepare for witnessing to others and a study session, and one our Sunday/weekend meeting which had both a lecture and a study session.
Anyway, the upshot of that is little things like Bible stories do still come to mind when they seem fitting.
One came to mind the other day while at the gym - Lot's wife.
It's a story that most Christians have at least some familiarity with. Lot and his family lived in Sodom & Gomorrah, cities that God had decided should be destroyed. Lot and his family are told to leave the city and flee, to not look back. Lot's wife fails to heed that command, looking back longingly on the things she has had to leave behind, and becomes a pillar of salt.
Lot's wife could have had a future in a new place. At the time they began to flee, she perhaps wanted to be away from there as much as Lot and their daughters did. NOTHING that she left behind should have been as important as surviving with her family. And yet ... she looked back with longing.
Sometimes in emergencies we see people act similarly. They refuse to come out of a burning building until they can salvage things like family photos. Living is more important than objects and yet they turn back from fleeing because of the lure of those objects.
How does that tie into health and fitness?
What was my life like while I was gaining weight. Almost daily getting a tall hot chocolate, an apple fritter and a glazed old-fashioned donut for breakfast. Daily picking up a pair of king-sized candy bars for a morning snack, often a Snickers and a Hershey's Dark Chocolate bar. Often getting Super Nachos or a Super Burrito (super implying the size was huge) from the little place across the street and munching on it from lunch until mid-afternoon. Regularly getting a footlong Subway or Togo's sandwich, chips, and three cookies, sometimes even a broccoli and cheese soup. Often cooking up a Hamburger Helper and either getting to eat all of it or half (if my daughter was around to eat the other half) or a Tuna Helper (or Pasta-Roni that I added tuna to) and adding mixed veggies and eating the whole thing. Routinely filling a 32-ounce cup with milk, adding heaping spoonfuls of chocolate powder and drinking it. Nightly plunking myself in front of a computer and playing a game rather than dealing with any of life's stresses or problems.
That was my lifestyle for YEARS.
I know it's not a sustainable lifestyle. I know it doesn't make me who I want to be. So I had to flee it.
As I continue to improve my life, I find it is equally important to not spend time "looking back". While I won't turn into a pillar of salt if I look back, keeping the desires in my heart to return to those habits / behaviors would serve me ill.
I can learn from it. I'm not going to forget what it was like. But I cannot and should not turn to look back on it with longing.
When we think "diet" - a temporary change to get us to our goal weight - we keep looking back. We don't truly flee the unhealthy and unworkable lifestyle that drove our weight gain. We just put in the motions of fleeing, but look back with longing on a life that wasn't good for us.
I think of Lot's wife in the story. Had she not turned back, what might her future have been like? She'd have been there to see her daughters marry, been there to create a new home in a land with better neighbors. She'd have been alive to tell stories of what she left behind while being thankful to have survived it. Instead, she couldn't let it go and lost all of that future in her longing for what she was leaving behind.
Are there things you are having trouble letting go of? Things that keep luring you to look back, to stop fleeing from that unhealthy life that got you to a point where you said "No more!" and consider saying "Oh, just one more won't hurt"?
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