Friday, January 03, 2014
A bit of a ramble but, day 2 of my going sugar free and my head is killing me. Really, it is. My L-Glutamine which was good in the past didn't work this morning. But I had an interesting thing happen to me. I went to my local Whole Paycheck and realized that something was missing. I went there because the other store I wanted to go to was closed for the holiday.
Anyhow I realize that my relationship to the store was ritualized. I entered and passed the fruits and veggies and the bulk foods - too expensive for me and I can get them from my other favorite store (the one that was closed). I skated past the cheese -no dairy (allergy) and the wine (potential sugar). Past the gluten free crackers (worthless without cheese) and found my seed oil. But on my way to the cash register, I lingered. I visited my favorite candies (bought none) visited the chip/pretzel aisle (again, bought nothing), and could not walk to the register. I wanted my reward!!!
Usually the desert case I would get a tapioca pudding, chocolate pudding, or any of the assortment of gluten-free, chocolate treats. It felt weird leaving without them. I wanted my treat!!!
I did settle on replacing my deodorant to be my treat. This obsession to having a treat came from a childhood in a sugar free home. My parents, in a bid to raise healthy children, forbid it. And it's understandable. My mom grew up in the south where she would have a moon pie (two oatmeal cookies with a cream filling and dipped in chocolate) and an RC Cola.
I was told that eating too much would kill me and make me very, very sick. My dad even told me that John Coltrane, his favorite saxophone player died after eating a whole cake.
Since treats weren't allowed, I sneaked them. I remember one time when my sister and I found a half eaten box of candy. They looked clean and we split the rest of the candies. Then we checked our mouths for evidence, waited about five minutes and then walked the rest of the way home.
While I was in high school I would walk home from school so that I could buy a candy bar. But then I only had six blocks to go before I was home, which meant that I had to scarf the bar down wicked fast, and continuously run my tounge over my teeth to erase the evidence.
So there was always a sense that I could not have sweets in peace. I had to sneak around. I still do the same thing, however, I got gourmet versions of sweets at Whole Paycheck and other stores like it. I then told myself that I was doing better because it was organic, I hadn't had one for awhile, I deserved it, etc.
So, I buy my treats and eat them secretly (so my husband doesn't see) and then complain that I'm soooooo big. I felt empty leaving the store without my sweet treats, so I settled for some deodorant instead. I needed it.
But ultimately, I see that this problem is much bigger that I thought. It isn't just about sugar alone, but it's about how I have used sugar as a crutch, as medicine, as my drug of choice. I need to deal with the feelings that sugar is used to repress. I believe that is the only way I can kick the habit and develop a normal relationship to sugary things.
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Today is the beginning of a new year and I wish all a happy 2014. I don't know about your experience but my 2013 was horrendous. My father, who had been sick for many years died. He had four different types of cancer. It was very hard to watch because my dad had been so healthy when I was younger. He didn't allow sugar in the house, we were vegetarian/vegans for many years. He was a meditator and did Tai Chi. When he first got sick, I really thought that he had "the necessary tools" to successfully beat this.
Needless to say, the exercise that was the way for me to deal with stress, went to the wayside. I signed up for and participated in a challenge through my job (Adult Education Council) but once he died, my motivation waned. Additionally, I stopped eating. I set an alarm to remind me when to eat but didn't do as well as I should.
So for 2014 I have decided to go sugar free through the end of March. I'm doing so because I have no control. I am a sugar addict and know that I need to go sugar free and get my act together.
But this father of mine who quit smoking in a day, gave up beef and pork at the age of 24 and never looked back, who made fresh veggie juices on a daily basis, suddenly became a ice cream eating, candy sucking, soda drinking fiend. I didn't recognize him. One day he asked me to bring him a donut and I told him that I didn't feel right doing so. I asked him if he had accepted his fate and wanted to die. He said no. Meanwhile, he spent his time eating premium ice creams and cakes and drinking juice squeezes.
But here is a sugar memory, in honor of my dad. We both had a sugar thing. And this memory brought a smile to my face.
My dad died on Nov 6th, 2013 and honestly, I just feel lost. I did have a memory of a dinner my dad and I had in Oakland at Mimosa Cafe. We went to this place, that we had visited several times, and ordered our meal. It was great and then ordered desert. They had a chocolate mousse and a butterscotch pudding. I ordered the mousse and my dad the pudding. We tasted our dessert and liked it and offered each other a taste, something we usually did. Dad liked both of them, but his spoon had a tiny touch of mousse when he dipped his spoon back into the pudding. His eyes widened and he said, "they are both good on their own, but taste them together." It was amazing. An experience of ginormous proportions. So we spent the rest of the evening eating a touch of pudding and mousse.
I was in heaven. My dad asked me if I wanted another round, and I said, "please?" So we ordered a second and a third round. After the third round, dad turned to me and said, "do you want another one. I kind of do." I said no. My stomach was wasn't so full and I could have eaten this for the rest of the night. But I was a little embarrassed and felt greedy.
For a man who wouldn't allow sugar in the house when I was younger, it was amazing to see him at a restaurant. He didn't say no once. It was a very good memory.
My goal is to take care of myself. I use sugar to placate, calm me, and make me feel good. I know that sugar is not a necessity, and I want to reset my palate so that I can be more normal around it.
I had a good day today. I need to work on my water intake, but I had no sugar and felt good.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
To be direct - I feel safer when heavier. There are three main reasons for that.
1) When I was younger, I was tall and very, very thin. Not because we had no food or anything like that. But that was my natural body build. I'm built like my mom who was rather thin while we were growing up.
Kids in the neighborhood were, well... Hmmm... They came from a different socioeconomic background. My parents were both college graduates, my father worked for my uncle (a singer) and then worked in a corporate job before starting his own business, which was very successful for awhile. So my siblings and I stood out.
I tried to disappear as much as possible because I was often a "target" of the other kids. I didn't fight because I often didn't know why fights were being started, especially since I hadn't really done anything to the other kid. I thought they were being kind of silly. I wasn't scared - that came later. I just didn't understand why I would want to fight someone because they said something about my mother (which was untrue and their problem). But the rules of the streets were different.Books because my friend because they were safe.
I also noticed that with the weight gain, which started after college, I like the idea of feeling like I have an imposing enough presence, that people will think twice before wanting to fight me. I have made to association between my weight and protection.
2) I also feel like I have disappeared. Let's just say that while I didn't date much when I was younger, I did get a lot of unwanted attention. Because I had no sense of setting boundaries, I find that the weight did that. No one is going to bother the fat girl, at least they will approach her differently.
This came about in an odd way. When I was in college, there was a rapist who was attacking young college aged girls within a 3-4 block area of my school. At the time I remember that because I was black and overweight (thanks to the freshman 30) that I was safer. When they caught him, I remember feeling grateful for the fact that I was unattractive to him.
I realize now that I associate a normal weight with feeling unsafe. I have lost some weight before, but the moment a guy notices me and says something to me, I would go to the store and grab a pint of ice cream, find reasons to stop exercising, and go on a fast food bender.
But now I am ready to deal with this and put everything in perspective. I do get to set boundaries. I have a right to do so. People can't hurt me unless I allow them to. And a guy telling me that I'm pretty is not the same as rape. I know that now. So when the feelings come up, I have to deal with them.
I've been doing that and have held steady over some trying months. I no longer end my day with two candy bars and a small bag of chips when I leave the classroom. When I'm upset about something, I tell the person about it. This has led me to really be honest and vulnerable. I tell my students how they can and can't talk to me. I tell them to go home and come back with a better attitude. I leave job situations that don't work for me. Little by little I'm putting myself first. And when I do that, I don't have to eat my feelings.
I'm also exercising again. And I'm prioritizing it. When I'm angry at my students I find that being on the treadmill and imagining that I'm running on them is a way to get rid of the energy. I felt the same way after I found out that my dad's cancer had morphed into another kind. I went to the gym and worked out on the elliptical machine. I heard an inner scream with each step and I closed my eyes and allowed it to continue. When I looked up 45 minutes had passed. I had no idea. Afterwards I went home and reheated some salmon and broccoli from the night before.
Instead of stuffing my feelings by eating food, watching TV, and sleeping, I get out and move my body. I also express what I'm feeling. I was subbing in a Spanish GED class and the class complained about me. They said they couldn't understand me ~ my Spanish isn't great, but it's much better than many people which is why bilingual teachers love having me in their classes. The kids get a kick out of it too. But sometimes adults have a hard time buying an African American speaking Spanish. Anyhow, the next time we had class I went into the room and told them that I was angry at them and why. One man brought his young daughter to translate for me and I told them that I didn't need a translator, but that I needed them to listen.
I always thought that I would get in trouble for doing something like that but I didn't. The man and his daughter left, but the rest of them listened and learned. That was the evening that I realized that when I own what's going on with me, I don't need to stuff it with food.
It's amazing. It takes a lot to own up to what's going on - the sadness, the hurt, the disappointment, however, once that it done I find that I am free to move on and do other things. This is something that I want to continue doing.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Growing up in a house where sweets and other junk food wasn't allowed was bad because I didn't learn balance. Anything overly sweet or overly salty naturally called my name. I remember finding some small uneaten pieces of candy in a container while walking with my sister and we ate it - paying careful attention to get rid of any evidence before we got home.
So part of my love of all things salty and sweet have to do with deprivation. We ate it sometimes, but had to sneak it. I remember making sugar sandwiches on health food saltines. I'd spread a cracker with a thin layer of butter and sprinkle it with Turbinado sugar and pop another cracker spread with butter on top.
Sweets were my go to drug of choice, but that changed over the year. Since I didn't have an outlet for any sadness or pain, I ate the sweets to feel better. I remember watching an episode of Sesame Street or some show. The actress, an African American woman told the story about how she had disobeyed her grandmother by climbing in a tree. Her grandmother gave her a whipping when she caught her and then brought her a piece of homemade chocolate cake which let her know how much she was loved.
How I dreamed that my mom would give me something sweet (the few times we had it in the house) after a whipping but no such luck. So when life whipped me, I would retreat into a sugar fueled ecstasy and once hopped up on ice cream or candy and sometimes both, I could face the world.
It wasn't until I was working in my first job out of college that I added salt to the mix. I was an angry woman. I knocked back kettle chips like they were going out of style. I loved them so much! And they came from the health food store and were on sale which meant that I needed to eat them every chance I got.
But it wasn't until five years that I realized that while I suppressed my sadness with sugar, that I repressed my anger with chips. Interestingly enough, I made this connection in the most random way.
My husband and I were at a hot spring and went on a walk. My husband pointed out this shale along the edges of the path. He broke some of it with his foot. Well, I tried it and spent the rest of the afternoon breaking up the shale. I felt bad for him because he had to stop several times to wait for me in my stomping frenzy.
Afterwards I apologized. I couldn't believe that I was doing that. I said, I think I'm angry. That must be it. I then remembered that I used to like to walk on dry leaves the same way. Oh how disappointed I felt when I would step on a nice, brown, dry and crunchy looking leaf, when there was no crunch. There were also big fat seeds that would fall from trees and I would step on them and spread the seeds on the ground. Again, not just one or two seed but as many as I could find. Crunch has always been my way of expressing anger.
I'm a substitute teacher and I would leave a school and go to a drug store and buy two candy bars (always on sale) and a 99 cent bag of chips. Of course I stopped once I started tracking my "habit" and realized how many calories I was adding to my meals.
Since I have stopped, I have become a lot more honest about how I feel. Sometimes in front of the students. Something that is hard for a nice southern gal like myself. However, I wouldn't say it's a bad thing, but I fell that they need to know that their actions have a consequence.
When I remember, I try to honor the feelings by writing about them. It's hard to drown sorrows that are acknowledged and released. The more I notice what I feel and bring it up, the less I need to eat my feelings away.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Really I don't. I mean I do, but I feel like my focus has been on the wrong thing. I know what to do - eat right, exercise and so on. My parents were vegetarians in the 70's. Tofu cheese circa 1974 was a rubbery white blob on toast. It has come such a loooooong way! But I digress.
As I said, I know what to doBut I don't do it, by choice. I believe that by making my weight the center of my journey, I have really gotten off track. Let me explain.
The truth is that as a child I was underweight. At 14 I weighed a total of 99 lbs. I was grateful the next year when I gained six more lbs. My mom cooked almost everything from scratch at one time, including pasta. We were vegetarians because my dad noticed that his asthma improved once he stopped eating beef (something he still doesn't eat to this day). My mom went along with it to support him. At that time, the big, evil monster was sugar! No sugar in the house, unless there was a birthday. If we had desert once a week, we were doing good. When I was very little, the deserts were homemade. Most of my exposure to sweets was at the homes of my friends. It also meant that I went a little crazy (gross understatement) whenever I got to eat some much to the embarrassment of my parents.
I wanted to live in a home where I could eat all the candy I wanted, chips, soda, and hot dogs. And I didn't want them to be of the health food store/tofu variety. I wanted the real thing.
I wanted to fit in with my friends. I wanted my mom to come to school and drop off a McD*** burger, fries, and a milkshake off and share it with my friends. Trading carrot sticks and avocado sandwiches was no fun (and downright impossible).
I wanted to have soda's and chips in my lunch on days other than field trip days. No one wants to trade 100% grape or apple juice and fruit slices.
As I was going through my memories of my early life I realized that sugar became a big part of my life while I was in high school. I used to walk home from school (a three mile trip) so that I could save my bus fare and buy a candy bar. I'd rush to eat it on the way home. In college, my candy bar became a pint of ice cream? Why??? I can think of three things.
1. Stress! I was under a lot of stress and pressure. I'd dare say I was a depressed kid. And these sweet treats were my friends. I was lucky, for up until I was 18 my metabolism took care of the extra calories.
I wanted to date and thought that I was too skinny. My sister, who was a chunkster when younger, had a lot of boyfriends/dates. And I thought that it was because 1) she was light skinned and 2) because she was thick (a boy's word for chunky). I figured that if I was more chunky, especially since I wasn't a super model, that the guys would just love me.
So I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate. I ate more than my dad. I wan't hungry for the food, I was hungry for the attention. It was at this time that I stopped honoring my body's call for food and started honoring my mind's need for it.
2. Later I added something else - sweet foods, the very foods I was deprived of became my comfort. My mom had no attention for my complaints. She'd yell at me when I talked to her (or at least tried to). But candy doesn't yell at you. It just sits and loves you and says nothing. I started this specifically when I tried out for cheerleading, in front of the whole school, and was one of two girls, who tried out and didn't make the team. I remember moping around the house when I got home. I told my mom that I was upset and why. When I saw her 1/2 hour later she said "Are you still whining about that?"
But she didn't know that this was stage one in my three stage plan to get a boyfriend and since I didn't make the team after trying out in front of everyone, I was convinced that no one would ever want to date me. Ever!
But she didn't know that I was prepared for her verbal assaults. I did cry after I didn't make it, on the way home from school. I stopped by a drug store and bought a whole 4.25 oz package of dark chocolate covered mints and another package of chocolate peanut butter candies. And after everyone went to sleep, I pulled out my stash and ate it as I cried silently. I had never eaten so much candy at once and the candies never yelled at me or put me down. That's when I knew I had a powerful friend. At this point I graduated from crying to candy bars.
The ice cream came in later when I was in college. I ran for the BSU president on campus and won (I was the only candidate) but no one wanted me in the office. Another guy, who didn't want the position or belong to the club, decided that he wanted to run so that I wouldn't get it. Again, I cried. But someone caught me and I was embarrassed. That night I went to the store and bought some Frusen Gladje (remember them). I bought 3 pints for $5.00. And I ate one after the other until they were gone because my dorm fridge sucked big time and would have just turned it into a sweet soup. In that moment I graduated from candy to ice cream.
Ice cream continued to comfort me even though I have a wicked allergy to dairy. I know that I have to deal with the emotional issues. I was listening to Christiene Northrup in the movie Hungry for Change (http://www.hungryforchange.tv/free-screen
ing) which is free on line now through the 31st. She said that obesity wasn't the problem, it was a symptom of the bigger problem. I've decided to approach my weight loss from that stand point. Deal with the symptom, because thus far, dealing with the symptom has not let to success.
As I said yesterday, I have learned a lot. I realize that I am in mourning for my mom and aunt, family relations, and some other things. So as I deal with them, I know that they will go away. It took me many years to gain the weight and it won't go away overnight. I'm convinced that positive actions along with dealing with the pain, will send this weight packing. I'm ready for it to go.
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