Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheeseball Emergency

Six months ago, my life was full of food emergencies. Cookie emergencies. Cocoa emergencies. Sandwich emergencies. Ice cream emergencies. Cheeseball emergencies. Regardless of the snack food involved, these emergencies always found me responding to hormonal and emotional crisis with the nearest available snackfood. I was the Krishna of the Cookie, the Diva of the Dagwood, the Champion of the Cheeseball.

Oddly enough, this week I find myself championing the cheeseball, for you see, this time I don't need the cheeseballs, the cheesballs need me. Yesterday while I was pushing the animal cookie container onto a top shelf after the kids' snack, I happened to notice some startling information staring me down. You see, the animal cookies live next to the cheeseballs, and as I craned my neck upwards, I could see that the cheeseballs had only a few more days to live. Specifically, shelf-safe D-Day is Saturday.

I really never thought I'd see the day that snack food at our residence would go out of date before it was eaten. Used to be, we could get snack food on sale, finish it, and make it back to the store for round two before the sale was over; but apparently we're turning over a new leaf here, because it seems our cheeseballs have been much neglected.

So, since I don't want the hu-snack-a-tarians out on my lawn with “Save the Cheeseballs” signs, we have responded to Cheeseball Crisis with Code One force. As everyone surely knows, cheeseballs cannot be properly consumed without rootbeer. So, on Monday night we drove directly to Bi-Lo and purchased Diet IBC even though it was not on sale, and believe me, at $3.79 for a six pack, the true tight wad only commits this kind of financial faux pas under the most dire of circumstances. Then we headed home, and applied ourselves to the problem. I suspect we'll be working on it for a few nights, but best-case scenario, no cheeseball shall perish stale.

I wish I could say that we are not going to make a habit of doing this to our snack food, but I'm afraid the descent into late night vegetable snacks and the regular abstinence from should-be controlled substances is already begun. I give you situation one: the cookie canisters. If you've been reading me since December, you realize that no cookie had a chance when it ran into me. Now, Grandma makes cookies and fills three containers for us every three to four weeks. With this retired cookie monster out of the picture, it takes three to four weeks for all those cookies to disappear.

Case the second. At the beginning of April, friends came into town and I hostessed a friendly ice cream social at our house. For this occasion, my husband picked up three ½ gallons of ice cream. We had about eight adult guests that night, but there was still some ice cream left in each container. What was left of those containers lasted until our friends' next vist FIVE WEEKS LATER. I don't know if I should be making this public, but the mint-chocolate chip ice cream got freezer burn!

So excuse me while I do my good deed for the night. I'm gonna pop open a rootbeer, use my last two points of the day, and usher another 22 cheeseballs into paradise. Cheeseball emergency diverted!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shrinking Globe Awards

Well, upon referencing a previous blog, I guess I'm supposed to be practicing positivity through laughter INSTEAD of positivity through gratitude this week. My bad. However, since I really feel like thanking a few people right now, and since I'm the boss of this blog, I'm going to switch Week 7 with Week 13 and move right on to the Shrinking Globe Awards. As you may have guessed, yours truly is the incredible Shrinking Globe! In fact, if I'm not careful, pretty soon I'm going look more like an Emmy than a Globe.

This morning at Weight Watchers, I experienced a double victory. Though I only lost 1.4 pounds for the week, this loss encompassed two goals. The first goal was my next five pound mile-marker, which pushed the lose-o-meter right on past 35 pounds. The second goal involved the first two digits on the scale. I've officially exited the 170's and have arrived in the 160's. That means I have to drop a point this week, but it's all good; I've been planning to give up coffee creamer for several weeks now, so this is the perfect opportunity.

Could I, or have I done this on my own?! Absolutely not. I have so many people to thank for love, support, and lettuce, I don't quite know where to begin.

I think first of all I have to thank husband, who has lived most closely with me throughout my more recent years of frustration and failure, before I finally found the pathway to a little success. I would like to thank him for loving me and affirming me no matter what size I have been, for never making size-related jests, and for not having me committed on quite a few occasions when I acted rather manic after stepping on the scale. I would like to thank him for having the courage to actually hide the scale from me early in our marriage. More recently, I would like to thank him for sitting with six children every Monday so that I can go to my Weight Watchers meeting. If that's not support, I don't know what is.

Next, I would like to thank my children, who's little smiles have provided me with great motivation, and who together, weighing almost fifty pounds, have provided me a great source of strength training. Without them, I surely would have suffered about a twenty pound setback.

To my mother, I owe an early debt of gratitude. I thank her for her unconditional love, and for taking on the difficult role of the being the one who had to be lovingly honest with me on more than one occasion. I thank her for being candid with me about nutrition and spaghetti portions, and I thank her for not letting me freak out and quit Weight Watchers five weeks into the program when I gained 0.2 pounds during my lady friend's visit. I thank her for her hugs, compliments, and her great yard-sale finds that have kept me out of burlap-sack-dom while I hold out until my birthday for a new wardrobe shopping spree!

There are not enough thank-yous in the world for my Grandma, who's hugs and visits have been a bottomless source of inspiration. I thank her for teaching me how to make good soup--low on points and high on filling flavor. I thank her for keeping the family cookie jar full for the last six months, and thus, excusing me from facing one of my personally most-feared temptations--fresh baked cookies--fresh out of my over, that is. In addition, I thank her for all the times she has come for lunch bearing lots of lettuce and either lean turkey or salmon fillets. These quiet gestures of support have been priceless!

To those who have supported me in the exercise department, I also extend a word of thanks. Thanks to Cindy, for not letting me give up back in January, and a volume of thanks to Bethany who has given of her time to watch my children during aerobics since February. Truthfully, Bethany's help has probably meant the survival of my sweaty endeavors! I thank Lorraine and Tammy too, for all their kind help with the children. The kids love ya'll, and so do I!

I'd be remiss not to thank Linda Haught for her great aerobics classes and for offering those classes to the Colonial Hills ladies for free. What a blessing back in January when I was a bit financially crunched. Thank you also, for the interest that you so obviously take in each one of your attendees!

Thank you, Miss Edith--faithful leader of the Monday morning Weight Watchers gathering--for you weekly prepared comments, for ten years of consistency so that we can know its possible for us too, for your enthusiasm at our successes, and your encouragements at our setbacks. Thank you for your honesty and candor always. You are a great inspiration!

My walking buddy Darcey is just another person I can't imagine not having in my life. Thank you Darcey for the consistent walks, the great conversations, the mutual rejoicing over good news at meetings, and for friendship--which feeds the soul while being POINT FREE!

And on and on I could go. So. If you've read my blog, thank you. If you've encouraged me with a word or a phone call, thank you. If you've noticed I've shrunk, thank you. If you absolutely didn't talk to me during a chance meeting because you didn't recognize me, thank you. I appreciate you, every one!

Lastly, I need to acknowledge and thank God for His Help on this journey. I could not have been successful without His blessing, His Presence, and His Power. Thank you Lord for always giving me Your Strength in my weakness, for never sending me a temptation without a way to escape, and for never leaving me alone.

Well, this concludes this years Shrinking Globe Awards. I'll see you all next year at the Emmy's, because if I have my way, the Globe will be entirely obliterated by Christmas!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

I'm not sure exactly why I was drawn to the coconut. Perhaps my subconscious pulled me toward the tropical and exotic; perhaps it reminded me of the wonderful cruise vacation I had with my husband last October; perhaps it was simply the embodiment of the deserted island I often long to wake up and find myself on. Who knows. But there it was, my coconut.

As it turns out, my coconut was full of surprises. Being the good Weight Watcher that I am, the first thing I did, was haul my little coconut off to the computer, pull up the WW website, and check out the points values associated with a coconut. I think I must have bruised my chin when my jaw dropped and hit the hairy sphere sitting in my lap. For a cup of raw coconut—7 points; for a cup of coconut milk—15 POINTS! What on earth!

My burgeoning understanding of my MIS-understanding of coconuts was only just begun. You see, I had overlooked the fact that I was dealing with a cocoNUT. Here I'd been thinking along the lines of apple, banana, orange, kiwi, coconut; when I should have been thinking almond, pecan, walnut, hazelnut, coconut. Had my thought processes followed these strains of logic, I would have had no problem with conclusions that resolved themselves thus. “I have purchased a coconut; hence, the high content of calories, fat, and protein; hence, the high point value; hence, the impenetrability of the armored shell.

Yes, getting into my coconut was the next surprise. I placed the coconut onto my cutting board, and still being caught up in my incorrect thinking, selected a knife that would have been equal, perhaps, to a canteloupe. The knife bounced off my coconut in a situation comparable to a bullet and Kevlar. Not willing to be bested by a fruit, and not yet understanding that I was not the only NUT present, I upgraded to a butcher knife.

After a couple of minutes, I feared the noise from the battle would wake my sleeping children, so the coconut and I took it outside. I can only imagine what my vigilant neighbors thought when I came out the door holding a fuzzy head-sized object in one hand and a LARGE knife in the other. After another couple of futile minutes wielding the butcher knife, I revised my approach. Feeling a bit like Robinson Crusoe, I raised the coconut over my head and began to knock it with all my might against the corner of my cement steps. This approach proved effective, although it is important to note, that the step broke before the coconut did.

So how did it all end? Well, I didn't have to worry about the coconut milk; there was none in this particular coconut. As for eating an entire cup of the sweet meat, my jaw gave out after about a quarter cup, so at approximately 2 points, I didn't really break the bank. Perhaps most distressing of all however, was the realization that came just before sleep that night. After all that work, coconut wasn't even a new food for me! I'd had it out of a bag many times. Duh!

Well I can tell you, I'll be eating coconut out of the bag from now on, and maybe, if I can get up my courage to face the produce department again, I'll give the new-food challenge another try.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coconut Curses

I have to tell you, this particular blog entry has passed beyond the realm of “conundrum” and into the realm of “cursed.” This entry is actually my third attempt at this topic. My first attempt seemed to suit it's chosen title: “Coconut Conundrums.” Those of you who check-in with my blog regularly may have noticed just a lonely title posted on Thursday night. On that particular evening, I had reached the zenith of my endurance for mishaps, and simply gave up.

Well, now it is Saturday afternoon. The work week is ended, a good night's sleep has been accomplished, and a brief encounter with my inner child has left me refreshed. This morning, I had breakfast and a slow cup of coffee, after which, my little farmers and I ventured out to transplant the crowded tomato and bean plants that we had started from seeds weeks ago. After a couple hours of fun and complete filthiness, I deposited the children in a bubble bath, put on my bathing suit, and joined them in the tub. They thought this was the funniest thing they had ever seen in their short lives.

So, it is safe to say, that these light moments combined with the grand discovery that my husband had cleaned the house while I was out playing in the garden, left me ready and willing to attempt my blog once again. That was almost an hour ago, and as I type, I am experiencing some dejavous, as near the end of my second attempt, I managed to highlight the whole blog with my touchpad, and delete everything I had written. So, as triteness dictates, “third time IS the charm;” so here we go again--
back to Thursday night's cursed conundrums.

Or perhaps we must slide all the way back to Monday. My WW meeting found me 2.2 pounds lighter—a happy surprise since the Wii Fit had been playing ping-pong with my weight all week. I was excited about the week's challenge of trying some new foods, as I was getting a bit bored with my routine. About a month ago, I had shaken things up with roasted mini-bell peppers and asparagus (which I really thought I HATED and was pleasantly surprised), but I was ready for a new taste, so I planned a quick crusade into the produce department Tuesday afternoon before my honey needed the van to get to school.

The crusade was ill-fated from start to finish, (and here I leave those details purposely deleted for sheer pain of memory), and I had not the time or energy to return to my plunder until Thursday night, when in the post-bedtime silence of twilight, I found myself drawn to the open refrigerator where lay my untouched treasure—my coconut.

And here, I choose to divide my installment, hoping to avoid any further calamity that may befall this half of my blog posting. Please join me next time for "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

True and Honest Thoughts

Today I am happy to give the "floor" of my blog, to my aerobics instructor, Linda Haught. Since January, I have been a member of her class on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; and from her, I have learned a great deal about the value of movement and exercise. What I was more thrilled to find myself informed of recently, was her testimony of relief from years of chronic pain.

Why was this testimony so relevant to me? Well, as you read, if you have followed my blog at all, you will probably draw your own correlations and conclusions; however, I feel that Linda and I have much in common regarding the God-given discoveries and attitudes that have given us both freedom--Linda from chronic pain, and me from failure, negativity, and health problems related to obesity.

In order not to steal Linda's thunder, I will refrain from further comment, until my next blog. You can check out Linda's website at fitnessforyou.com. And without further ado, Linda's testimony (used by permission).

"Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" While I prefer to apply this verse to the human race in general, it also applies specifically to my own heart. I think I'm trusting God when I'm really not. There's sin in my heart that I don't even know is there, and God is constantly inspecting me, dealing with that sin through trials He brings into my life.

A number of years ago I was in constant back pain for a period of three years. I was referred to various doctors who told me I had congenital disk disease, herniated disks, osteoarthritis, stenosis, schlerosis, and pinched nerves. It was difficult to sleep at night and to sit through church. I had lost the ability to relax.

So I prayed for wisdom and asked the Lord to help me. After 3 years, with seemingly no answer to prayer and things just getting worse, I felt pretty desperate. My physical problem had become a spiritual problem as well. I told the Lord that I just didn't think I could take anymore and that at least one of three things had to happen. One was that he would show me how this trial could bring about any good or glorify God. Two was that he would give me relief, and three was that he would take me on home.

At the very moment I prayed that prayer God directed my eyes to a book I was walking past in a drugstore. It was a book about how chronic pain was being treated at New York University School of Medicine. The orthopedic doctors there treated pain by convincing patients that the structural abnormalities they saw on their MRIs weren't the real cause of their pain. They were just coincidental. In fact, more recently a leading orthopedic surgeon interview by Newsweek said that two people can have the exact same MRI, and one will be in excruciating pain while the other is waltzing through life like Fred Astaire.
A growing contingent of doctors and researchers are now telling us that chronic pain should be blamed on chemical messages originating with our emotions. Primarily it is caused by the view that our circumstances are unfortunate and that we are the victim of those circumstances. It involves dissatisfaction that we don't even know we have.

Nevertheless, this emotional state causes chemical messages to be sent to the brain. The brain then sends a message to the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for circulation. The ANS picks a deteriorated or overused place in the body and impedes circulation there just enough to set up a chemical imbalance in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This chemical imbalance is the cause of chronic pain where no pathology, cancer, or immediate injury is involved.

I knew that this was the truth. I had already tried cortisone shots, pain medication, antidepressants, physical therapy, and a nerve block. Doctors at Lenox Hill hospital in NYC say that certain assumptions about life perpetuate chronic pain. It is most common in people who are achievement-oriented and highly conscientious and want desperately to control circumstances so that everything turns out right, (which of course is God's job).

David prayed, "Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me." The Hebrew word for "wicked [or offensive] way" means "idol," but it also refers to "a way of pain."

A study presented in the proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences looked at subjects' brains under an MRI while applying identical pain stimuli. Pain signals in all subjects went to the hypothalamus in the same way. However, the brain's interpretation varied widely among the subjects. Some felt a mild sensation while others felt intense pain. The researchers attributed this to emotional climate and suggested that people should consider nonmedical treatment for pain.

In fact Consumer Reports on Health pointed out that MRIs are dangerous because surgeons end up fixing things that aren't really responsible for pain and will only cause the spinal column to wear out faster.

I never would have believed that the cause of my pain was emotional until I had exhausted all medical options. For three years I shopped from doctor to doctor insisting on a medical solution. God chose not to simply zap the pain but to show me the cause.

The truth is that habitual thought patterns over time program our brain and emotions, influencing how we feel physically. The brain is always thinking, even when we aren't paying attention to our thoughts. When a mind with a sinful nature flies on auto pilot, it gravitates to unbiblical and unprofitable thought. God tells us to manage our thinking and to take charge of our thoughts. The best thing we can do to promote our own life-long stability is to marinate our hearts with scripture.

My spinal column is far worse today, and I've lost an inch and a half because I have no disks left. But I am in no pain, nor do I avoid any physical activity because I'm afraid of pain. And I'm not the only one who has found relief. After writing a book detailing how I got out of pain and the scriptural basis for this treatment, I received letters, phone calls, and emails from others who used the same processes and no longer have migraines, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, heel pain, and other chronic pain syndromes.

Sometimes I ask them, "What helped you most?" And they always mention two things: constantly talking out loud, addressing their own brain, and meditating over and over on those things that are true about the cause of their pain.

Proverbs 13 tells us that "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." Scientists tell us that a sick heart or prolonged feelings of hopelessness lower levels of endorphins and serotonin in the body. These are chemicals that maintain emotional balance and prevent life from being painful. Man's prescription is often prozac or paxil--serotonin enhancers.

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh." It means that a tranquil heart is life and health to the body. "Godliness with contentment is great gain."


Monday, May 3, 2010

Skinny Epiphanies

A few days ago, Super-Mom was in a hurry to change out of her spit-up spattered daytime clothes and into some clean evening-wear. While in her phone booth, she looked down to find that in her rush, she had grabbed a pare of pants from her drawer that simply would not do. These jeans had been shoved into the dresser, simply because there was not another good place to put them; however, as they were a size too small for Super-Mom, they really weren't a viable option for wearing. By the time, Super-Mom realized her mistake, the rogue jeans were on and BUTTONED!

Lately, my life seems just full of these skinny epiphanies—-slow moments when it dawns on me that I am really THIRTY POUNDS lighter and still shrinking. Everyone of these epiphanies is a great big shot in the arm on the days that feel mundane, without progress, or just plain FAT. You know? I mean those occasional days you have, when despite any successes, you feel like you've been possessed by a double-wide trailer? Yeah. Well that was me this weekend, but the feeling didn't last long when I started listing off all my recent skinny epiphanies. Here are just a few of my happy thoughts.

1) I can now sleep on my stomach without feeling like I'm dozing on boulders.

2) I can now run without getting knocked out with my own chest.

3) I can now slide between my grocery cart and the candy rack in the check-out line at the store, without knocking all the Snickers onto the floor with my Reese's Peanut Butter butt.

4) If I feel any pain while sitting Indian style on the floor and stretching, it's not from being out of shape, it's from having ribs that can actually now make contact with my pelvic bones.

5) I can give my children horsey rides and not find out after the fact that they thought they were riding an elephant.

6) My Wii Fit Plus says "Great!" instead of "Ooooh!" when I step onto it every week.

7) Fruits and vegetables are starting to look like candy and chips to me, and the fact beyond this delusion is, the former do not give me indegestion.

8) One of the little girls that I take care of calls me "Barbie."

Well, my lifetime goal at Weight Watchers certainly isn't "lighter than air" or even "Barbie doll", but with happy thoughts like these, all Super-Mom and her skinny jeans are going to need to fly soon is a little pixie dust.