Category Archives: weight loss

Finding the house of my belonging, Part Deux

I seem to be changing my relationship to food. My awareness is shifting. Earlier this week, I wrote about feeding more. I am more conscious of the elements in my life—from my relationships, to my activities, to the written word and even my thoughts that all play a part in feeding me. All of these, I now accept, enter my body and mind, heart and spirit. (and, they are all choices!) I love the similarities of all the words normally associated with eating, (and with the mouth), that also apply to all of these parts of my life. These activities, experiences, all part of my life-style are also my life’s ‘diet’, content to digest! Does what I am doing or reading or producing feed me, does it nourish? How is it to digest? I even had a dream recently where a large stomached man with a mustache (irrelevant detail?) winked at me and said, “The heart is the true stomach.” Chew on that why don’t you?  

As a result, I am less attached to food as a source to fill me. (It may sound cliché, but this is the stuff of daily habits and on the surface, not easily ripe for change). Living from home for seven whole days during this snow storm has helped a lot. No stress or time lost with food storage, transport, reheating, which has been very stabilizing. I am conscious of simply filling myself with less food– a bowl of home cooked chicken soup for a meal, rather than whatever my notion of a full meal was before. Right now, I am eating anywhere from 120-300 calories per meal (400 with some indulgence). Now the import of this is not that I am doing it, the import of this is that I am doing it organically. That is, making this choice doesn’t feel like deprivation or delayed gratification. It actually feels as if feeding myself in other areas of my life is snapping or draining that feeling of deprivation inside and organically loosening up my ties to food. It feels peaceful, without conflicts or fears inside me about attaining external goals. I woke up this morning to find I have lost 6 pounds, almost 4 this week. (More of that, please!)

That does keep me motivated to remain conscious around eating, particularly eating less. Its as if my ‘unconscious’ eating is a mental construct rather than a biological construct. Its definitely about regaining awareness of it as a biological source of intake. Of course, this part of the approach applies to my particular life, because I have achieved the worst of modern comforts: a highly sedentary life. I am carrying more weight than is right for my body and doing all of this helps me while I cultivate a stronger habit of exercise. I am even beginning to get comfortable with just letting myself feel hungry for a little bit. I never ‘thought’ this was an option before and is rather exciting in its own way.

What is my other food these days? Meditating, and reading 2 David Whyte books: the House of My belonging and Three Marriages, and giving myself up to my love of words. Maybe even the possibility of giving myself up to pLaY.

Precious exercise

well a new year, and no new year resolutions on my mind. I mean, at least, not like I used to. Now, I try to just really admit to myself what it is i am willing to do versus things that I might like to toy with but not really be motivated on. This, at 40, is a relief and makes things less game-y. So, enter exercise. I need to. Its just that simple. My body only gained two pounds through the holidays. Before, I would tend to judge things from my weight alone. But my body and I talk more now. Its feeling more pudgy and sluggish and I notice i am out of breath a lot more easily now. We don’t have access to a free swimming pool anymore since its winter. So, i have been trying out using the stairs, both at work and at home. We have 3 flights at home and i have my range of upwards to 7 flights at work. I have been doing a few flights this week, but its not a routine yet.

Then, today I read this article on fitness, also from the lovely New York Times. I really love it. I found it precious. I guess it was the extraordinary acts with which these human beings responded to their circumstances. It is not exactly the big gesture that moves me. Its the fragility of their situation. The fragility comes in the attempts to engage more directly with their bodies, the fragileness of the tool they’ve chosen, which is exercise, within the situation of fighting a much bigger disease, to which exercise doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship. and the rugged beauty of their dogged persistence in choosing the tool again and again. I sure wish i can become a person that can develop this relationship to exercise (and the juicy endorphins!).

I am going to close out on a personal note since I don’t have too many of these on here. I really celebrated 2008 as an abundant year for me. A year where I became more conscious and grateful about my life, the life-energy that comes with that, and my true ability to stand on my own two feet. Grounded. and yet just human. its a healthy mix and one I look foward to more. I also celebrate the growth in my marriage, of the time i had with my husband and the relationship we continue to grow. This year going foward is also full of mysteries. In terms of “goals and planning”, we seem to have the same ones as last year–start a family, find a home, align our sources of income with more joy and happiness. yup, still have those going into this year. yet, a tide has turned. this year, i know i am fighting a different battle than the one I thought i had to fight to attain my goals. This time I am more part of the equation, a co-creator in this quest. It is always a challenge remaining in balance, choosing the ‘right’ focus, and listening to my highest self. I hope to develop a more common ongoing dialogue with ‘her’. 🙂 i really can’t wait to attract certain professional opportunities in my life and continue making a loving space for family in our home. Happy New Year!

A turning point – no to deprivation

I also need to say that a significant turning point in my dieting journey was when I made a decision to no long feel “deprived” in my eating habits. Its true. It just doesn’t work to feel we are depriving ourselves of something. So I stopped making arbitrary rules about banning certain foods or nutrients. That helped me to make choices, instead of feeling like I had met or broken these rules. the latter can just feel empty whereas the former, easily more fulfilling. So dessert has become mostly ok BUT in very small bites and only when something is worth tasting. Not just to feel sugar on my tongue. Being choosy has its advantages.

The best choice I made was to eliminate sugar because it really has an impact on me. Eliminating sugar keeps me more balanced and (i don’t know why) leaves me more clear, less foggy. Because of these benefits, it doesn’t feel like deprivation anymore. Instead, its something I am giving myself. That’s just me, my reaction. I choose to use Stevia to boot, a natural product made of tree bark that doesn’t have the molecular formation or glucose reaction that refined sugar does. It obviously makes me feel better and so it was simpler after that to just want dessert in moderation. Again, holding out for very tempting desserts is quite pleasing! 🙂

Coming up next…from dieting to feeding

This idea of writing about my dieting journey (or weight loss journey) has been working itself out in the back of my head for more than a week now. This morning for the first time in 16 years, I found myself feeling grateful for what I’ve learned. I’ve learned so much. Believe me, this is rock solid out of the blue. For those of us who live it, weight loss is a difficult journey. A bloody shadow boxing dance with self, particularly self as embodied in our bodies. How many waves of riding the self motivational, grab the next new book with hopefully here-to-fore unused power and by God I Will CONquer this thing called weight that seems to stick on me. 🙂 but with each grab, some lessons did stick. each lesson improved my ability to have a responsible relationship with myself. that self as embodied in my body. and from weight loss and dieting came self feeding. now i am conscious of feeding my self with vitality and succulence most of the time. and it is clearly been a personal, spiritual journey. (it all works together folks, don’t fool yourself!) Along the way, I who carried excess matter had to come to grips with feelings of not matter-ing. and with flesh as self-protection until I could take better care of myself. and with developing a genuine relationship with my body instead of succumbing to the many uber-present interpretations of a relationship that I could or should be having. (These are ever eagerly present in the people and society that surround us.) I am still over weight. And I am starting to have genuine conversations with my body (it is happy today). And I am shrinking (today).

Its been a gentler journey once I took it inward. Today I felt none of it was meant to hurt me. Knock me over with a feather.

And the scale today said…

I lost a pound and a half! it feels like out of nowhere but i’m loving it. this cutting calories down thing seems to be a great way to go. also, am not focusing on weight loss, just embracing it when it comes. (this is after…uhh, let me count, 16 years, of yo-yo weight loss and gain) Yahoo!!!! Looking back, I am so glad I enjoyed all the beer I did this summer and even though fall and football season are coming up, I’m done. I’ve been maintaining a weight loss of twelve pounds since last Jan, so now its up to 13.5. hope it stays.

Dieting affordably with flavor

The NYT article on dieting deliciously made me realize that the other aspect of dieting that can seem brutal is the cost. Some people feel, especially at the start, that they need to lean on commercial products–like Jenny Craig meals, special shakes, etc. I can’t knock them since everyone needs to do what’s right for them. But for me, those pre-packaged meals were very expensive and ridiculous when I started realizing that it wasn’t complicated to make them. Processed anything for the most part comes with its own set of demons! So if you are going to diet deliciously, what are some tips for dieting affordably?

The first one that comes to mind is to use plenty of flavor to keep meals yummy and to keep the diet motivating. Most flavor is affordable. I am going to start a short list quickly and then come back to this post.
$ Growing herbs. Whether in pots or on the ground, I have found growing thyme, oregano, basil and mint is a great way to get flavor naturally and freely in meals. These particular herbs are cheap to buy and easy to grow. They are tenacious! Must head basil continously though. I have also experienced eating micro-grated herbs and was surprised at the explosion of flavor in my mouth.

$ Use citris. I can typically get a bunch of limes for $1. Same with lemons though they are slightly more expensive.

$ Nuts. I thought pine nuts were not affordable until I found Whole Foods bulk section. I get roughly a fist-ful and keep it as stock around the house to throw in here and there (store in refrigerator for longer periods). Toasting just a bunch and to put in a salad is priceless! Similarly, now I buy halved pieces of walnuts and slivered almonds from the same bulk section. If I buy a quarter pound or so, that is typically sufficient and no more than between $2 to $5 each. Not bad considering I can stretch it out quite a bit using as sprinkles in oatmeal and salads and to punch up a baked good here and there.

$Spices, in bulk if possible. Whole Foods used to have spices in bulk. It was awesome, because I could literally just get a wee portion of a spice for a particularly recipe if needed, without needing to invest in an expensive bottle of something that would sit on myself. (Shout out to Erin for pointing it out to me). I once got something like a one-quarter or half-pound bag of FRESH ground cardamon there for maybe a buck or two and I am only at the end of it like four years later. and I use that stuff alot!! Sadly, they seem to have done away with it. Ethnic grocery stores should also offer cheaper prices on spices. I will have to do some research to get the facts to you but in the past I have noticed that whole peppercorns (black) are much cheaper in the indian grocery store. Some spices have shot up in price so have gone over to the “investment” category. For these, just buy them and have them in stock. I don’t buy anything in those little bottles anymore at the grocery store. Whole cinnamon sticks instead of ground. I use a simple coffee bean grounder as a separate spice grinder (thanks Mom!). Fast, easy to clean. oh, and definitely get a mortar and pestle. My friends always tease me the amount of spices i have!

o A favorite spice is ground, roasted cumin. Basically I roast a bunch of cumin on a stove top. The smell is worth it alone. Then I take the hot cumin seeds and grind them in my grinder. That’s it. Then I put the whole thing in my spice container. This grounded spice immediately jazzes up sliced fruit. (In fact my husband and I enjoy making a simple pear and avocado salad with toasted cumin, lemon or lime juice, and a little bit of salt as a favorite weekend breakfast pairing).

$ Trader Joes pure vanilla extract. Seems cheaper to me than at the grocery store. To research.

$Vinegars. I use Trader Joes Balsamic Vinegar for good quality and low price. I use this on everything to meats to fish to salads.

$Fresh chile peppers. The little green ones, for the Indian palate. 🙂 I freeze these since I don’t go through them as quickly as a traditional Indian household. Cut them and heat them in oil prior to adding the food and you get great sizzle and spice.

$Sliced black olives. Also, great flavor! and affordable from Trader Joes. They have a little can of sliced olives so they stay ready for me when i need them. I believe they are kept in water only. I will check that and the price and repost. I can add olives to pasta sauces, salads, even meats such as chicken nicoise.

$ Shallots. Cheap as long as you don’t get these from Whole Foods! 🙂 but can serve as a great base and flavor for most sides and entrees.

$ Stevia. I don’t think this is for everyone’s liking but its a must have in my dieting plan. My body does best when its not beset with sugar. Stevia is ground up from tree bark that is naturally sweet. It does not have the molecular structure of sugar so is not absorbed or digested in the way sugar is. I use the powder form from Trader Joes and use it in my tea, coffee and oatmeal. I sometimes even use it in baking. Its $6.99 for 315 servings, coming out to two cents a serving.

$ Dried fruit. Dried fruit such as apricots, apple rings, pineapples and figs are great flavorings in both meats and baked goods. Now, they are sugary but at least they are natural sugars. I love how they moisten and plump up while cooking. I use them in my Thanksgiving stuffings too. That reminds me. I also love having a stash of dried cranberries around. They are great in salads and even with white meats like chicken and pork. Dried cranberries come sweetended and unsweetended. Unsweetened is healthier but I have not yet figured out how to use them well as flavor. I get dried fruit from Whole Foods Bulk food section whenever possible. Again, I just buy a little bit so that each purchase is usually under a dollar!

Yes, these are all tried and true items in my pantry. What works for you? I promise to update with actual prices soon.

Dieting Deliciously

Seeing the headline for this article in the NYT (i love you guys) made me realize how much dieting deliciously was at the root of the inspiration of this blog. So today I say, this blog is about: eating nutriously, affordably and de-liciously!

I have to read this more thoroughly to comment but at first glance, here are some thoughts:
* Yes to how much flavor there is out there: nuts, herbs, citrus juice or zest, dried fruits, spices!
* Its the succulence of earth’s natural bounty going into my body that gives me daily motivation.
* Calories–I completely agree with turning dieting around so its not a deprivation act. I find the simplest thing is to set a goal for a certain amount of calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, cut down the number of calories you can eat. I try not to go above 1200 if I can help it. and if i help myself to a muffin one day, it simply comes out of my calorie totals. I have gotten decent enough with counting calories now that i do it in my head and its a more general, rather than tedious, exercise.
* Desserts–small portions go a long way! They make bite size desserts at Whole Foods. Its a treat for $1.50 where I live. (Will try to take a picture soon).

This “diet” –hard learned along the way–has allowed me to keep off 12 pounds of weight loss. 🙂