Tuesday, May 15, 2007

from 3/30/2007

Okay. I'm just trying to figure out this blogging thing. I was keeping a blog on myspace, but that's just kinda dumb, so I'm moving it here. I'm posting all the stuff from when I started it on 3/20/07. So, bear with me...


I've been cooking up a storm for the past few months, and learning lots of stuff about food, nutrition, my body, environmental impacts of our diets, and I just feel like keeping track of that, and maybe helping out someone who might be in a similar situation and struggling.

So. It started as a diet. My dad passed away last year from diabetes complications (which had rendered him blind with multiple heart attacks and strokes and kidney failure) at age 56. Diabetes runs in our family. Everyone (yes, everyone) on his side of the family (in his generation, and the earlier generations) has/had Type II Diabetes. They all developed it in their thirties, and were all overweight. So, yeah. I'm in my thirties, overweight, and in a high-risk group. And, I'd started having some other health problems that ended up being related to my weight.


It was hard to face. I'd never imagined that I would be this person--the one who's walking around wearing her pain on the outside for everyone to see, and exacerbating the problem daily by turning to food and sloth as a comfort/defense mechanism. But, here I was. Nearly 34 years old, having health problems, feeling bad all the time, wondering why I didn't have a girlfriend, wondering why I hated myself enough to do hurtful things to my body, wondering how to stop. Even after my dad died, it took me a couple months to really get it.

And then, on January 3rd, I started my new life. It started as just a diet, but has since morphed into an entire life change. I know it's cheesy, but I'm gonna get all self-help on your asses. I am opting for personal growth. No, for real. I AM OPTING FOR PERSONAL GROWTH! That is the mantra that runs through my mind all the time. And, it works! Every decision I make now goes through the Personal Growth Filter--not just about food and health, but everything in my life. Every decision. Because I've realized that if "opting for personal growth" is my measure, then I'm probably doing pretty well and choosing things (whatever they may be) that move me forward. Moving backwards is no longer an option.

I'm not hating on the fat peeps out there. I think that everyone who is overweight has a very valid reason for being so--either that's the way their body is naturally, or they have a health condition that makes it difficult to properly metabolize food, or they're dealing with some shit that has manifested itself in them wearing their painsuit around. It sucks to be fat. People who aren't fat (and have never been) just don't realize how often (like, many times, every day) that you're judged, overlooked, disregarded, and just generally not considered to be a person in the same way as thin people are when you're fat. Fat people are one of the last groups in our society that a lot of people have no guilt about making fun of and openly displaying their disgust. And, some people can be really mean.

Losing weight and getting healthy are very big undertakings. I've tried and failed for years. But, now everything just finally clicked for me, and now it's much less difficult than it ever has been before. Each one of us is on our own path, and have to decide what our priorities are and when. Everyone has problems and issues. Unfortunately, ours (the fat peeps in the house) are often out there where everyone can see them. Suck.

So, yeah. I started a diet on January 3rd, and started out by eating the typical diet foods--SlimFast, Lean Cuisine, carrot sticks, etc. And, getting really bored and frustrated in the process. So, I started keeping a journal of when and what I was eating--and, most importantly, why I was eating. It was pretty eye-opening. I found that I ate pretty much non-stop in the evenings while I was watching tv, and that the overriding feelings were frustration, anxiety and boredom. So, then I started getting really into reading about food, and figuring out ways to make really kickass delicious food that was healthy and low-cal/low-fat. I started using a free website called www.sparkpeople.com where I could track my food, calculate the nutrition in my recipes, and track exercise. Using the site to track my food really helped in making me aware of how the nutrition broke down in my diet, and what my goals for stuff like calories, fat, sodium, carbs, protein, etc. really should be. The site isn't perfect, but it's free, and I've found it to be really incredibly helpful as far as the tracking, support and being accountable. I still enter everything I eat into the tracker. It's a pain in the ass, and they don't have a lot of foods I eat (which requires more effort to add them), but it's been an invaluable tool for me. I like the data.

I started reading lots of Michael Pollan and Heidi Swanson and Mollie Katzen cookbooks, and books about low-fat diets and live (raw) foods, and whole grains, and vegetarianism and local/sustainable agriculture, the slow food movement, and various health and cooking blogs, and environmental and health and animal welfare impacts of an industrially-produced diet. Pretty amazing stuff. (if you haven't read any Michael Pollan, please do so now. You can get a little taste with his article titled "Unhappy Meals" in the NYTimes. Google it with his name. I tried putting a link, but it was really long, and kept making the page be one billion feet wide).

So, that's where I am right now. Eating mostly vegetarian (I'm not ruling out fish completely because I love, love, love seafood and sushi and fish can be generally pretty healthy--depending on the source). Lots of vegan stuff, lots of raw stuff, mostly whole grain stuff, no hydrogenated oils, no refined sugars, as little processed stuff as possible, as much local, organic, sustainable stuff as possible.

And, I feel great! So far I've lost 31 pounds, and that's awesome! But, more than the weight loss, I'm just feeling really good! And, if I do say so myself, I've become a pretty awesome cook. I'd always liked cooking, but just rarely did it, and when I did I relied heavily on processed, high-fat ingredients. And, I'd been a vegetarian for 13 years (in my teens & twenties), then spent the years since occasionally being veggie, and feeling guilty about it when I wasn't. So, I feel karmically better, too.

And, apart from the food stuff, I've made other positive changes like incorporating exercise (daily walks, hitting the gym, joining fitness classes, hitting the dance floor, etc.), taking charge of my mental health, getting bad stuff/people/influences out, and generally just starting to take back control of my life. It feels good!

Here's a smattering of some of my favorite recipes I've been making lately (most of them are adapted to be lower-fat, lower-cal, veg and/or vegan and include more whole grains--from other people's recipes - credit is given). Let me know if you, dear reader, want any of the recipes, and I'll try to remember how I made it. I'm trying to get better at measuring and taking notes. I'm going to start sprouting some grains to make into bread, too! Fun! And, let me know if you want to come over for dinner. I operate on the barter system (barter bucks!!).

-Lemon Eggdrop Soup (based on Mollie Katzen's recipe)
-Herb-Scented Vegetable Stew (new & improved since my last post!)
-Thai Red Curry stir-fry with spring vegetables
-Vietnamese-style Fresh Rolls with baby bok choy kimchee, marinated tofu, fresh veggies and a cashew/plum sauce (I'm planning on challenging Tram's to a fresh roll-off, and they don't stand a chance!)
-Raw Vegan Sushi (my friend Jen's idea and a collaborative ingredient effort - yum!)
-Eggplant-Cashew Curry with vegan raita, vegan parsley-mint "yogurt" chutney, apricot-lime chutney (based on Mollie Katzen recipes)
-Tofu Tenders with curry gravy and fruited chili sauce
-Vegan Rice Pudding (
based on a Mollie Katzen recipe, but I'm working on changing it nearly completely 'cause it's too thick and too boring)
-Vegetable Upside-Down Cake (based on a Mollie Katzen recipe)

soooooooooooo....bon apetit!

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