Weighty Matters

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An Off Switch

A long time ago, I talked about sometime feeling as if my motivation had an on/off switch when I used to diet.  Unfortunately, it was always like someone or something else flicked that switch to the Off position and, just like that, my motivation disappeared.  It was never easy to turn it back on again.

In terms of my eating disorder, I used to long for a different switch, one that could instantly turn off the compulsion, the eating urges, but before I reached for food.  Honestly, when the disease is raging, there is virtually no impulse control.  A package will be open and food already in my mouth or in my stomach before any thoughts of, “No.  Stop.  Don’t eat that” swim anywhere near my conscious mind.  It sucks when the awareness kicks in after the food is swallowed and I think, “I shouldn’t have eaten that.”  Still, that’s the nature of the disease.

I also used to wish that someone would invent a sensor or a chip that emitted a jolt, a sound, a buzz, anything really, to snap me out of the compulsion if I was even tempted to eat on impulse.  It would have to work something like one of those invisible fences people install around their properties to keep their dogs at home.  Now there’s an image — me walking around, wearing a collar with a gizmo that jolted me whenever I got in range of inappropriate food.  I’m not sure how I would designate food as inappropriate.  I can’t exactly install invisible fencing around the rest of the world, or at least the rest of my world.

Such are the useless musings of a compulsive overeater.  In reality, awareness and the ability to put on the brakes on my own compulsive disease aren’t things that can be triggered by switches or microchips.  Awareness is a learned skill.  It goes back to mindfulness with a healthy shot of strong program.  It involves developing a healthy obsession, not with food, but with that eating behavior.  Working a program, putting time and energy – mental energy – into it are all necessary actions.  I can’t phone in the effort.  There’s no remote control.  I have to always do the work.  In program terms, it means being willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery.

I can be my own off switch.


Sorry for my Absence

Hi, All,

I was away for a four day weekend and life was crammed busy right before the trip.  I’ve gotten more reluctant to post about when I’m going away because internet stuff and safety have grown increasingly crazy.  If I’d had more time, I’d have pre-written some posts, but I didn’t.  So, my apologies.

It was a terrific trip away.  I went up home to New Jersey for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding.  As is my normal m.o. when I fly up for visits, I try to arrange things so that I get to see as many people as possible.  This trip was no different in that regard.  It was a little different because I had the opportunity to see people who haven’t seen me in a long time.  There were cousins who haven’t seen me in person since before my weight loss surgery.  There were friends who I haven’t seen in 15, 30, even 40 years.  I should qualify that statement — some of these people haven’t seen me in person.  We do connect on Facebook.

As you know I’ve been struggling emotionally and spiritually with my recovery.  This trip helped me with those things.  Yes, I soaked up the amazement over the change in my appearance and the compliments that followed, but it really wasn’t about my ego.  It helped me reconnect with just how far I’ve come in my journey, what I’ve accomplished, and the day to day recovery.  I need these reminders sometimes.  They’re good for my heart and spirit.

I also enjoyed some conversation with my sister-in-law.   When I’m struggling with the eating disorder, I need to hold onto the important fact that even if I have not reached my goal weight and I’m sort of in a holding stage right now, I have not regained the weight that I lost.  Sure, I’ve probably said it before, but that is a major difference in my life.  Whenever I’ve lost weight in the past, I have always, always regained it — and usually with more pounds added on.

So, here I am, holding all of the positives that were showered on me and integrating them into my spirit.  I need to remind myself of this essential part of my recovery.  Time and time and time again.

The disease is an every day reality.  The recovery reminders need to be every day too.


Defining Abstinence

I was talking to a friend the other day about working on my abstinence.  She asked me to explain.  Have you ever noticed how sometimes your nose is so close against the window of your own issue that you forget the rest of the world isn’t pressed against the glass too?

I thought it might make a good topic to discuss.  The more I work on my own abstinence, the better off I’ll be.

When I first went to a therapist who explained that I had an eating disorder, I was also lucky to have picked one who was in OA herself.  Not only did I begin to be exposed to different ideas about the way I used food, but I started to learn a new vocabulary and new understanding to go with words I knew in different contexts.

Like abstinence for starters.  I knew that for an alcoholic or drug addict, abstinence meant they abstained from drinking alcohol or using drugs.  It’s different for overeaters.  We can’t abstain from consuming food of some sort.  So, abstinence for me means refraining from the behavior of compulsive eating, not avoiding the substance.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve wondered whether it would be easier for me if I actually could go through life no eating at all.  Would the black and white choice of Don’t eat/eat be less of a challenge than having to control when/how/what I eat all of the time.  In a few decades I’ve never determined an answer.  It’s the never ending pondering.

When the therapist first worked with me on attaining abstinence, I was in the grips of a horrible, long-term bout of binge eating.  I’d consume huge quantities of food every day – mostly in the evenings.  I didn’t have a clue how to stop or how to define what abstinence meant for me.

We started with broad strokes that purposely did not require me to limit my quantity per se.  Here’s how it worked.  The goal was for me to experience not giving into the compulsion to eat something just because it was there, or I wanted it, or because I wanted it and it was there.  My first abstinence plan was to wake up and determine what and how much I would eat that day — organized into six meals.  In order for me to claim abstinence that day, I could not eat anything other than I’d planned or eat at any other time than a pre-set meal.

So, if I woke up in the morning and planned that dinner would be an entire pizza, then I was within my abstinence guidelines.  If, however, I planned to eat three pieces of pizza at dinner and then had a fourth – then I was not abstinent.  If I ate two pieces at dinner but then grabbed another piece later that evening, I wasn’t being abstinent.

Sounds a little nutty, doesn’t it?  It was drastic, but it worked.  I learned a lot by employing that method.  After a while, I was able to structure my abstinence to something closer to reasonable nutritional guidelines, but harnessing the disease eating behavior was the most important thing for me in the beginning.

I know what my abstinence needs to be – for today.  A small “meal” every couple of hours, for six times a day.  Do not deviate and pick up extra food at an unplanned time.  Eat in the balanced proportions of my 21 Day Fix.

I’ve talked about my issues with available Halloween candy.  It’s a trigger food for sure.  So today when I set up my abstinence plan, I committed to not grabbing a piece of candy out of the plastic pumpkin currently hanging out in the office kitchen prior to lunchtime.  I have myself permission to have a piece with my lunch but none before 12 noon.  For me, abstinence does not mean never eating chocolate or another sweet treat.  If I want that piece of chocolate, I can have it – as long, and this is the key part, I’ve planned when and how much of it I’m going to eat.  The fact that I held to that plan was a victory for me.  I feel really good about it.

Every time I choose my abstinence and resist the urge to eat compulsively, it’s a win.  Wins are positive things.  Positive actions are foundations on which to build.

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About Compulsion

  1. the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
    “the payment was made under compulsion
    synonyms: obligation, constraint, coercion, duress, pressure, intimidation

    “he is under no compulsion to go”
  2. 2.
    an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.
    “he felt a compulsion to babble on about what had happened”
    synonyms: urge, impulse, need, desire, drive; More


    Since I deal (or not sometimes) with compulsive eating behavior as part of my binge-eating disorder, I thought it might be a good topic to discuss.  I know how the behavior manifests, but figured it would be good to see how compulsion is actually defined and then assess how it resonates to me.

    So, definition number one doesn’t match.  Nobody forces me to overeat, eat when I’m not hungry, eat and keep eating, etc.

    Definition number two?  Yes, that’s the one. If there’s a way to highlight words in WordPress, I can’t figure it out, but if I could, I owuld highlight “irresistible” and “against one’s conscious wishes”.  Yes, I really do feel sometimes as if the urge to eat is irresistible, even unstoppable, and it occurs regardless of my conscious desire to stay on my plan.

    Compulsion is a horrible feeling.  Imagine if you couldn’t control your hand and had to watch while it picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed you in your own thigh.  Yes, that’s a really dramatic image, but it serves a point.  When compulsion overcomes my conscious wish and give in to the irresistible urge to eat, I hurt myself — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    I wish the weight loss surgery had also removed the compulsion, but it didn’t, so I still struggle with it every day.  However, the surgery set me on the road to a good long period of recovery and weight loss.  I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been, so while I have my off periods, I believe in myself.  I’m definitely not going to gain back my weight.  Ultimately, I have come to believe that with the help of a Higher Power, a program, and all of the tools at ready, I am stronger than the compulsion.

    One of the big tools is to set myself up for success instead of creating situations where failure is more likely.  For example, being in the vicinity of bags of candy for Halloween — that’s a big time, doomed-to-fail scenario.  I am absolutely capable of compulsively eating piece, after piece, after mini-piece of candy until I’m sick to my stomach.  Setting myself up for success means not buying the bags and having them in the house.

    You see, once I start, it honestly does feel sometimes like I can’t stop myself.   The time to bring all of the weapons forward to beat back the compulsion is before I take the first piece.  The call to action needs to happen while I still have conscious thought — and when I’m still conscious and aware that the compulsion is bubbling up.

    I’d like to substitute healthier, more positive behaviors for the destructive compulsive ones.  That’s been an ongoing effort.  Exercising consistently.  Practicing good, positive thinking.  Reshaping those old truths.  Exploring the flavors of healthy food and experimenting with new-to-me foods and cooking techniques.  These are all positives.  They take practice.  Continual practice.

    Also on the positive side is recognizing that I have an addictive personality.  If it wasn’t food that became my drug of choice, I know I’d be addicted to drugs or alcohol.  There was a time when I was hooked on cigarettes and also a regular pot smoker.  In the early 80s when I lost more than 100 pounds on an extremely restrictive, medically supervised, diet, I did not yet know that I had an eating disorder, so I wasn’t in any kind of treatment to help me understand and deal with the other aspects of the disorder.  I was only eating nine ounces of protein a day and I wasn’t drinking alcohol when I went out to the clubs three or four nights a week with my friends.  So, I still needed something to make up for the lack of food as a coping mechanism.   I started getting high almost every night.

    Although I spent a lot of years partying in rock clubs with my friends, I didn’t drink to drunkenness every  night and I wasn’t much for drinking at night when I was at home.  I think observing and dealing with my mother’s alcoholism probably contributed to me not making that my addiction.

    I gave up pot a long time ago and have no desire to pick it up again, even on rare, recreational occasions.  I was never into coke or other illegal drugs.  I also tend to avoid prescription pain killers unless absolutely necessary — as in the pain level I’m feeling is at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being unimaginable pain.  Even after surgery when I was recovering at home, I only took a couple of doses of the pain medicine the doctor prescribed.  Today the orthopedic doctor offered to write me a scrip for a stronger medication than over-the-counter pain relievers.  I politely declined.  I’d rather not have it in the house and run the risk of swapping one addiction or compulsion for another.

    Compulsion is ugly, challenging, frustrating and, sometimes, disheartening.  When all is said and done, however,  I refuse to be its victim.  I’m going to borrow from one of my favorite television shows, Scandal, and imagine myself as a gladiator.  I may not win every battle, but I do not run from the war.



Reshaping Old Truths

Each of us carries with us truths.  There are things that we believe to be true about life, the world, about ourselves.  The truths we believe about ourselves are the ones I’m thinking about today.

I have a bunch of them that formed for different reasons from various sources.  Experience.  Listening to other people.  Coming up with them in my own head.  Mis-learned lessons.  The thing is, not all of these truths are really true, but I call them truths because they appear true to me — I believe them.

Sometimes we, or at least I, hold onto these things with tight grips.  We believe them so strongly that they shape our reactions and actions.  They sculpt the way we feel about ourselves.  They can shore up our confidence, or weaken our foundations.  Once we’ve integrated them into ourselves — our hearts, minds, emotions — they are really difficult to reshape or let go of.

Some of my truths have been big whopping lies, or at least horrible misconceptions.  A few examples from my life?  Thinking my father wasn’t proud of me, that I was a failure.  Believing that nothing I did was ever good enough.  Believing that I would never successfully lose weight and keep it off.  Those are just a few.

There are others that less corrosive to the spirit and psyche.  For example, even though I sang in glee club and choir when I was younger, I don’ think I have a good singing voice.  I sing when I’m alone but don’t like singing in front of other people.  Unless I’m at a concert where it’s so loud that other people can’t hear me.  I think I formed that opinion after I asked someone if I had a nice voice and they told me no.  What’s actually true is that I’m definitely an alto and I don’t have a grand range.  I think I probably sing better than I think I do.  I sometimes wonder what would have developed if I’d stayed with singing groups/clubs.  My control would most like be better than it is and maybe I would have improved my range.  I honestly don’t know, but the truth that’s in my head is, no doubt, far apart from what’s reality.

I have also always believed that I have no artistic talent.  I’m not good at crafts with the exception of needlework/needlepoint and working with sequins and beads.  I have a good eye for finished marketing materials like ads, flyers, and brochures but am not effective at designing them myself.

But let’s get back to the deep, emotional but potentially destructive truths because, man oh man, those are the ones that definitely need to be reshaped and we should give them the highest priority.   Thinking my father wasn’t proud of me weakened my self-confidence for years.  Thankfully, we resolved that issue a few years before he died.  I’d been so ashamed for so long that I was afraid to ever bring it up to him.  When I did, he almost cried.  A lot of pain got washed away and we both changed for the better in our interactions and connection to each other.

The whole believing I’m not good enough thing was always the heart of my eating disorder.   Even though I know that I’m more than good enough, knowing it doesn’t resolve the eating disorder.  That carries a certain degree of suckitude, but it is what it is.  At least the more positive belief helps remove some of the emotional underpinning.  It keeps that leg of the stool more balanced and secure.  That’s so important.  I can work on the physical aspects and, as discussed in the earlier post, the spiritual leg of the stool too.

Speaking of the physical, not ever believing that I could successfully lose weight and maintain it meant that I always felt that I was doomed to fail.  When you don’t really believe you can do something, you’re already setting yourself up for an ultimately negative outcome.  Sometimes I still want to fall back into that belief, so I’m working really hard to reshape that false “truth”.  I have successfully lost a good chunk of weight and, even though stalled, I’m maintaining the weight loss — far longer than I have ever done before.  I’m also maintaining the physical fitness effort.  (Rode my bike 14 miles today and did a one hour Tai Chi class.  Booyah!)  In so doing these things, I’m stacking up evidence for my own eyes and heart that a negative truth can be changed.  We can come to believe differently about ourselves.  That, my friends, is vital to my continued recovery.  Let me tell you, it is definitely the priority!

Now back to that artistic talent thing.  Remember the post on pottery and the class I took?  I’m ready to reveal the end results of my very first experience with “throwing” clay on a wheel.

Here’s the first pot.  You can see it’s uneven both in shape and in thickness.  The glazing’s uneven too.  Still, I gaze on it fondly, even in its imperfections.  I love the sweet little starfish that I added to the inside and the speckled sandy glaze inside the pot.  I now have this little thing in my bathroom.  It’s perfect for holding my earrings, necklace and ring when I take them off at night.


For the second pot, I achieved a little control which resulted in a more even pot.  I’m not happy with the glazing.  Detailed brush work is a challenge and it was hard to assess whether I’d evenly applied the glaze.  I like the shells that I affixed.  Overall, while it’s clearly not something that anybody would try to sell in a gift shop, I like it enough that I put it in the hall bathroom.  I may add some small soaps.  Whatever the case, I’m not hiding it away where nobody but me will see it!


My last, and best pot, surprised even me!  I can’t believe I achieved the overall shape.  On the second trip, when we learned to smooth and “trim”, I even managed to do that in more symmetrical fashion.  I loved playing with the deeper blue speckled glaze on the outside.  I think I achieved a nice, rich color.  Inside, I used a lighter speckled glaze and centered a single piece of sea glass in the bottom.  I love this little bowl!


I don’t pretend that I am a  gifted potter after a single foray, but again, I’m not embarrassed to show this bowl.  I, who have always believed myself to not have any artistic ability at this kind of thing, got a life lesson.   I have enough artistic ability to have created three pots with enough success that I’m inspired to try additional things. Working with the clay, shaping it into different pots, helped me reshape another old “truth”.


Little Steps

Reconnecting my spirit is not an instantaneous thing.  I don’t want to cop to being an instant gratification type of person, but sometimes patience with the process is not my strongest suit.  I want there to be a switch I can flick from “off” to “on”.  Having decided that I need this re-connection, I want it right now.

This in itself is a lesson.  But wait, there’s more.  There isn’t a definitive guide to attaining the spiritual part of a recovery program.  No, do this then this, followed by this, this and this and, bingo, you’ll have connected spiritually.  It’s more of a thought setting forth the intention, verbalized to make it real,  remembering it all when in action mode and then letting it be my guide when facing food options and behavior choices.

I can’t always do this one day at a time.  Oh heck, if I’m being honest, I never do it one day at a time.  Smaller time increments work better so I do it one meal at a time and, frequently, one food choice at a time.

Instead of rushing or forcing the process, I’m taking it slow.  There’s no deadline, as far as I’m concerned.  This is a disease that never leaves us, so building a life of recovery just has to roll out in whatever way it will.

What matters is that when the alarm goes off tomorrow, I remember my goals and the steps, and start the day literally and figuratively putting one foot in front of the other.

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Recovery’s Three Legged Stool

In the OA rooms, we talked about recovery being like a three legged stool.  You need to work on all three legs in order to be in balance – physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual.

When I first got that I had an eating disorder, a compulsive overeating disease, the positive effect on me emotionally was remarkable.  It really helped me clean up my head and my heart.  In ensuing years, even when I fell off of the wagon, I had a much clearer understanding of myself, my relationship with food, the role food and overeating played in my life, their effect on me, etc.  I am convinced that without this understanding, I would not be successfully maintaining my post-bariatric surgery weight loss.

In the early days, however, the ultimate focus was physical recovery.  Losing weight and restoring/regaining physical health were the goals.  Even with the better concept of disease behavior, I yo-yo’d with my weight until I finally committed to weight loss surgery.  If you’ve been with this blog from the beginning, or at least for a while, you know that I’ve lost a lot of weight and that I have worked on a lot of my issues, using this blog to help me process my thoughts and feelings.

Yet, for almost a year, I’ve been more stalled on my weight loss.  I’ve pretty much maintained the level that I reached, but digging in and sustaining the rest of the effort to get to my goal weight has been a constant, annoying, upsetting and frustrating struggle.  I gear up, employ a new strategy, go gung-ho for a while and then get stuck again.   Hence the annoyance and frustration.

A few days ago, I blogged about the constant food chatter that goes on in my head.  My dear, wonderful, long time friend read it and sent me a long email describing her struggle with the same thing.  This friend has also spent a great deal of time in OA.  She’s also had weight loss surgery and lost a phenomenal amount of weight.  She gets the disease thing.

You know that old proverb that when the student is ready, the teacher appears?  In her email, she openly talked about the fact that the food thoughts, the endless chatter and mental struggle ARE the disease to her.  She shared that she needs to remember the powerlessness and the need for the spiritual connection to recovery.

I’ve been re-reading and studying her email for the last couple of days, absorbing the words into my heart.   I see where I’ve been very intellectual about my approaches to food and recovery.  I know how much emphasis I’ve placed on the physical recovery.  I think those two legs of the stool needed my attention and they’re holding strong.  It’s that third leg — the spiritual one — that’s wobbling.  It needs my focus.

The first step of OA is admitting that I am powerless over food and that my life is unmanageable.  My life might not seem to be unmanageable, but right now, when it comes to how much food obsession is controlling my thinking, trust me, it needs to be managed better.  Until I remember step one and the powerlessness, I can’t embrace that a Higher Power can help me.  However,  once I do those two steps, I can make the decision to turn this over to the HP and accept the spiritual aspects of recovery.

It’s not religion, but I do need the spiritual connection with whatever represents a higher power to me.

What really connected for me today is that the physical recovery is not enough for me.  Sure, I could go on for the rest of my life, be happy because I’ve lost so much weight and am maintaining.  I could be satisfied with my greatly improved physical fitness.

But I’m not.  It isn’t enough.  I have more work to do.  I am not enjoying the serenity of full recovery because of the mind chatter, the food obsession, the constant battle to stay on track and not give into the disease of  compulsive eating.  I want that serenity, that recovery, too.   So, while I continue to maintain the physical exercise, et al, I need to reconnect to my spirit and emotional recovery.  That’s my focus now.

Thank you, my dear friend, for sharing your story and struggle and bringing me the reminders that I needed to have, when I most needed them.

In other news, today I walked another 5K – this time for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in town.  I didn’t shoot for a particular time goal.  This was about being with friends and folks I know throughout our community, having fun, and raising both money and awareness.  I raised more than $700, dyed and bedazzled a bra for the day, and had a great time walking.  I never would have done this even before weight loss surgery and am glad that I could today.

Here’s the bra.  After I dyed it, I hand sequinned/beaded the “ribbons” onto the cups.  A little uneven, but as I said to friends, so are my boobs at my age.thebra



Here’s me this morning.  The idea is to wear the decorated bra on the outside of one’s clothes.  (By the way, I’m not feeling myself up in this picture.  I was trying to show off my pink fingernails at the same time.)

We saw quite a variety of great creations!  It was really terrific to see a great turnout of people from the community, walking alongside the Overseas Highway in a spirited wave of pink!

Me in Bra



Obsessive Food Chatter

You know that old statement that guys think about sex every ten seconds?  I have no idea if that’s actually true, but I’d like the people who think they figured that out to chart a similar study of how often people with eating disorders think about food.  It sure seems like I have food chatter in my head a lot.  I won’t go as far as saying that I think about food every ten seconds or every other thought, but sometimes I have entire internal conversations with myself.

This morning, for example, I decided that, even though I had a tasty, satisfying protein smoothie for breakfast, I wanted/needed/had to have a toasted bagel with butter.  Not having bagels in the house, while I continued my morning routine, I mulled over where I could stop to get that bagel on my way to work.  This went back and forth for a while, even while I was already in the car.  Then I presented the counter argument that I didn’t need the bagel, that eating it was not on my day’s food plan, that I shouldn’t give into the compulsion, etc. etc. etc.

The debate went on until I passed the last convenience store market without pulling in to buy anything.  It’s mentally exhausting sometimes to go through these mind conversations.  And that was just one for the day.

I might have a dozen more, or more than a dozen more, before I go to sleep tonight.  They aren’t really chats, more like arguments, because what’s really happening is a struggle between me and the eating disorder.  Recovery vs relapse.  Abstinence from compulsive behavior against giving in.  They aren’t all long debates like this morning’s bagel discussion, thank God, or I’d never get anything done.  Most of the time they’re fleeting thoughts of “I want” and “No, don’t do it” type duration, then I dive back into whatever I was doing.

Repeating healthy, recovery-oriented reminders helps.  I have good nutritious food that I enjoy with me ready to eat at the appropriate times.  I don’t need the other foods.  I’m stronger than my compulsive disease.  Any positive statement helps.  Those also take time and mental energy.  What I really wish is that I could simply obliterate the food compulsion chatter all together.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how so the best I can do is continue to counteract it.

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Foods Previously Untried

We had our bi-weekly delivery of organic produce arrive at work today.  My share had plums, pears, apples, bananas, spaghetti squash, grape tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, lacinato kale, yams and broccoleaf.

I’ve never heard of broccoleaf, but it’s exactly what it sounds like – the leaf of the broccoli plant.  It is touted as a superfood.  Here’s some of what  I read when I Googled it:

  • One Broccoleaf serving provides 100% of your daily value requirement for vitamin C, essential for immune health during this cold and flu season and tasty green provides more calcium than a serving of Kale.
  • BroccoLeafs are also an excellent source of vitamins A for healthy skin and vitamin D for mood and bone health.
  • Like all members of the Brassica family (cruciferous vegetables), the Broccoleaf is a powerful anti-cancer food.

Uses include throwing some in a smoothie, adding it to soup, using it for a wrap, making a sort of egg-cheese-veggie casserole or, to cut to the chase, pretty much using it any way that I might use kale or baby spinach.  I’m pretty excited to check it out tomorrow and in the days ahead.

Until a couple of years ago, I don’t think I ever knowingly ate kale.  I purposely avoided spinach, unless it was in a mayonnaise-laden dip, and would not have spent any amount of time musing other possible uses for a large, leafy green.  My how times have changed.

I was out to dinner with friends on Saturday night.  Went to a restaurant that had a lovely selection of “small plate” menu items.  I chose a dish that featured pork belly with manchego grits and fried green tomatoes.  Normally, I would not even have tasted the tomatoes.  Tomatoes and I have a strange relationship.  I really don’t like them raw — unless they’re chopped up and seasoned in salsa.  I love tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, but that’s where my affection ended.  Or so I always thought.  I looked at my plate, tasted the excellent pork and cheese grits and then thought, “Oh give it a shot.”  I cut into the tomato slice, tasted it and said, “Yum.”

Since having weight loss surgery and embarking on the whole effort to eat healthier, I’ve been more willing to try foods I previously avoided or ignored.  Some, like baby spinach, kale, and beets have greatly surprised me.  I not only like them, I look for ways to incorporate them into my eating.  Others, like any kind of fish, I’ve really tried to like, but have not been successful at cultivating any enjoyment from tasting or eating.  You win some; you lose some.

On the flip side, there are some foods that I ate all of the time, that I craved, that the smell of alone could nearly cause me to salivate.  Nowadays, I can’t stomach them.  They hold no appeal.  Any fast food restaurant hamburger, for example.

Food become sort of an adventure along the way.  I like thinking about it in constructive ways, such as how will I prepare these healthy, vegetables to make delicious dishes?  This is much better for me than the old destructive pattern of just seeing food as something that I wanted/needed/craved all of the time.

Right now I’m contemplating how I can turn the grape tomatoes and green pepper into some sort of fresh sauce to go over the spaghetti squash.  I love to search food sites and just type in potential ingredients to see what comes up.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still love a lot of less-than-healthy foods.   I can very easily binge on chocolate, cookies, okay, almost any dessert.  Sadly, I still need to work on that whole “moderation” thing.  However, I keep trying to expand my food horizon by being willing to at least try things I wouldn’t eat or try before.

How about you?  Share with us about a food that’s a recent discovery for you!

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Brain Training Games

A little more than a week ago, I signed up for Lumosity.  I figured that while I’m spending so much time and effort getting physically fit, I should also not forget to keep my brain fit, too.  Now, one would think that working a full time job and being involved in other things would be enough to keep me in good cognitive shape.  I’m sure I’m doing okay, but I have noticed that my memory isn’t always quite as sharp as it used to be a few decades ago.

So, between television ads, Facebook ads, and one of my bosses, Lumosity hit my radar.  I finally checked it out.   I won’t say I’m obsessed, but I am compelled and eager to do a mental workout every day.  Different games work different abilities – spatial memory, working memory, vocabulary function, number tasks, directional planning, and so on and so on.

The goal is to keep improving at the tasks over time.  I haven’t been doing them long enough to know whether I’m making significant progress, but I have discovered some things about myself and, in some cases, have rediscovered things about my personality.

First realization:  I am competitive, even with myself.  Now these aren’t games that you win or lose, you just keep trying to do your best and increase your score.  Still, if I don’t feel that I’ve done well enough, I immediately want to try the game again.  Now that I’ve been doing it a week, I’ve repeated some of the games, so I actually have a score in those against which to measure my performance.  If I don’t beat my previous score in one of the games, yes, I have to try it again, find a way to improve, do a better job of concentrating.  I take on the challenge.

It’s a good thing that I’m a gracious loser and a non-gloating winner when I play games against other people.

Second realization:  I definitely feel more stress on a timed game.  Oh how I hated the standardized SATs and other big tests when I was in high school.  It was difficult enough to have the pressure of needing a good score.  Having to perform well on the questions and do so in set periods of time was a double-shot of freakout-inducing stress.

I can feel myself getting clear performance anxiety on the Lumosity games that are timed!  I want to hit a pause button, take a deep breath and tell myself to snap out of it.  The games are intended to help.  It’s not like the fate of my life hangs in the balance or that I fail if I only get to a certain score.  In thees games, like in much of life, it’s progress not perfection.

Third realization: At this age, I’m able to more quickly and easily get over my own foibles.  When I was a kid, these things would eat at me.  Then I’d eat over them.

Now I look at them, take note, laugh at myself when appropriate and, like tonight, even write a blog post.  Then, tomorrow, I go back and try the mental workout again.

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