Category: health food

Heroism and Weight Loss

fat-supermanI’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time.  Everyone who reads this blog is probably aware of my distaste for weight loss in the media.  I know many find shows like the Biggest Loser to be encouraging but for me they are the opposite.

What bothers me is they paint fat people as bad, and reformed fatties as good and that just isn’t true.   As I often say,  ‘a lot of people lose weight in prison’… Losing weight is hard enough without having these types of morality judgments thrown in our face.

So that’s media but this post is a slightly different take.  I would like to talk about how we as a culture often couch weight loss in heroic terms and how this is almost never helpful.

Just the other day I was watching a show and the reporter asked the man how he had ‘overcome his heroic battle with weight loss’.  This is not uncommon phraseology for our average conversation. All of us, including myself, have used such phrases when talking about weight loss.

What’s wrong with that you ask? I mean losing weight is really hard.  Why is that not heroic?

Well, let’s start with some definitions-

Over on about.philosophy.com author Kendra Cherry asked her readers How Do You Define Heroism?  Pretty much every response is something like this:

“A hero is a person who would risk life and limb just to save people or a person. these people standout as brave intelligent and loving. these people need to be recognized”

So what are the elements of being a hero:

1. They are brave

2. They are worthy of recognition

3.  They are loving

4. They risk their own safety to help other people

It is this last aspect that is the most common thread in all the responses.  Another reader says:

“Heroism is when you act out of the kindness of your heart. Whether you’re helping someone on homework, or helping someone who got hurt, the main thing is that your helping someone who is having a hard time”

So, heroism clearly involves being unselfish and serving your fellow men and women especially when doing so is difficult.

indexHow does weight loss fit such a description?  I can’t think of any other change of appearance that is lauded in such ways.  For example, if someone gets a face lift they are often derided, criticized but I’ve rarely heard that when gastric bypass is done.  Why is one surgical enhanced change heroic and another isn’t?

You could say that gastric bypass is required where a face lift is not? Well, the research from the Health at Every Size movement would strongly disagree with that assertion, but even if you accept that gastric bypass is necessary I don’t see how it is heroic?  If I break my leg and have surgery on said leg (essentially fixing a problem in my body like GB) does that make me a hero?  No, it makes me a person with a broken leg that was fixed.

I can see no part of weight loss that involves risk to help other people. You can help people get in shape or encourage them to enter a race, but that’s not really the weight loss, that’s your service in the community and amongst your loved ones.  Anyone should be lauded who serves others no matter their size.  That is worthy of the hero label.

What about athletes? Who are they serving and we call them ‘sports heroes’?  One could argue such a term is misapplied to professional athletes but I would counter that most athletes are participating in a team or cause greater than just themselves.

For example, an Olympian is certainly worthy of individual applause but also their gift of performance on behalf of their country makes it worthy of the hero label.

There are a few sports like golf that are truly individual events and then I would say they aren’t really heroes but simply exceptional.  We like them because they are good at something and we are not. Nothing wrong with that!

But I hear you saying ‘Rachel it’s so hard.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging?’.  My answer is ‘of course, we should’.  However, there are lots of hard things we do in life that aren’t really heroic.  If I am a PHD candidate and I complete my thesis am I lauded as a hero? I’m encouraged, congratulated, cheered but unless there’s a disability or something extraordinary I rarely hear the kind of language we apply to weight loss for any other ‘hard thing’ in life.

Why? Because the diet industry in America is a 20 billion dollar industry.  They want you to spend money and what better way to get someone to spend money than to either make them feel really good or really bad about themselves.  A tepid, lukewarm person never bought anything.  They have a vested interest in convincing us that we need to change and that if we make said change we can be the hero.

Now, you might suggest that I am focusing on mere semantics and poor word choice.  I would argue back that according to the Huffington Post the average American woman has dieted 61 times by the time they are 45 and that’s starting at 16 (I would start much younger- 81% of little girls in America have dieted before the age of 10).

Assuming some marginal success in most of those diets, the average woman has been the hero 61 times,  and then fallen sometimes quite speedily off of her pedestal.  Then to make matters worse 35% of women gain more than they lost on said diet.

So, now we aren’t really a weight loss villain (to use the cannon of terms) that is probably reserved for sinful foods and the companies who pedal them but we are something even worse- the fallen hero.  I mean think about what that means.  61 times the average woman not only feels let down with her own frailties but is no longer the inspirational tool for her family and friends.  I’ve felt it and I bet most of you have too.  It is devastating.

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I actually remember one time my sister telling me ‘you can’t gain the weight back because then you wouldn’t be this person that we admire’.  She was very little and didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but is that not what all of us go through on the roller coaster of weight loss? 2012 I was at my peak of fitness and weight loss, then I had a personal crisis, chronic pain and a herniated disk in my back.  Things changed and so did my body.

I’m not making excuses.  That’s just what happened.  I felt guilty for a long time.  Like I’d let everyone down, which is insane when you really think about it.  What had changed was something in my body.  My other actions were exactly the same.  I still swam my races, I still blogged.  I still worked.  I still held book club and spent time with my friends.  I still traveled.  All of it.  I can’t think of one thing for other people I could do in 2012 and couldn’t or didn’t do in 2013.  So why did I seemingly let them down?

Because I wasn’t the hero anymore. 

That’s why this language about our bodies is so important.  It can have devastating repercussions that can make us feel like failures, and we already feel that way because of the way we look.  The language just piles on. And sometimes it is not just language.  I have friends who’s parents were vocally disappointed in them for their weight loss struggles. Instead of sympathy and encouragement they received pity and disgust.  (Luckily my parets have always been pretty good about letting me live my own life)

What worries me most is if being the fallen weight loss hero is hard for adults, imagine what it must feel like for a child who has so little control over his or her bodies in the first place?  That I do know.  I remember vividly the feeling of disappointment after diet, after diet, not only frustrated at not looking the way I wanted to, which is hard enough for a young girl, but letting everyone down in the process.  For goodness sakes, now these kids are even letting down the President.

So, in a perfect world where everyone took all of my advice what would I suggest? How would I encourage others in this hard thing called weight loss? I would treat it like the accomplishment of any other worthy goal.  ‘that’s great’, ‘I can see you worked very hard’, ‘great job’, ‘congrats’, ‘I’d love to go jogging with you’, or any number of responses without vaulting the person up as a hero because of the way they look.

What do you guys think? Have you felt like you were letting down people when you gain weight or fail to lose?  Do you think the hero narrative is helpful or hurtful?  Please share your experience, as this is just what makes sense to me.  Love you all!

heroes03capamericapostyo8

 

 

News and October Awesomeness

SLEEP

First I will start out this post by letting you all know that I have recovered from my night of no sleep on Sunday.  I slept for 10 hours last night and hopefully broke the 2 am trend I’ve been allowing myself to get into.  Thank you for all your thoughts and concern my way.  Its a scary experience getting no sleep.  Your mind starts to spin and you feel almost like the insane people you see in the movies- unglued.  It’s very weird.

Some good advice from Elder Holland.  Photo is from my mission
Some good, if challenging, advice for the insomniac from Elder Holland. Photo is from my mission

EXCITING NEWS

So I have some exciting news for all of you faithful readers.  I am going to get the chance to guest blog for my friend Samantha Ferraro on her food blog http://littleferrarokitchen.com/  I am going to be doing a more professional version of my post from last year Thanksgiving for One and I’m really excited!  I have gotten a new camera (something I’ve wanted to do for some time) and am going to work with my Dad to take some great food photos and give tips for cooking for 1.  I figure if I can show people how to cook thanksgiving for 1 they can extrapolate the skills and cook any meal for 1.

NANOWRIMO

On that note, are there any of you that might be interested in guest posting on  my blog in November?  I am going to be doing nanowrimo and will be be posting but probably not as frequently as I have been doing in the last few months (I’ve been on a role lately!).

Speaking of Nanowrio I am really excited for my next book.  I’ll give you the basic summary.  It is a Christmas chick lit book about 2 women, life long, friends- one a stay at home army Mom and the other a single career woman- who love but envy each other’s lives.  One day they wish to Santa that they could live the other person’s life and through his magic he makes them switch places, freaky friday style.  Hilarity ensues.  Think Hallmark movies with maybe a touch more edge.  I’m going to have Santa as the narrator and he is a bit sarcastic and funny. What do you think?  Would you read that?

RANTING AND RAVING

So, I was kind of sad today.  I found out that they are only going to have current members on my old singles ward facebook page so I won’t find out about activities any more.  My last tenuous tie cut…I only have one friend there anyway.  Most of my other friends from the ward are on missions or going on missions (which is awesome!).  Anyway, its silly thing because I hardly went to any activities but I guess it just said to me ‘that part of your life is over. Move on’.  That made me cry.

I know life isn’t fair but it’s not fair.  I shouldn’t be allowed to live my faith one way for 14 years and then bam its all pulled out from under me in a week. Do you know how shocking that is?  I’ve always been more comfortable in the majority than minority and in the family ward I’m a definite minority.

I feel like I’ve tried hard but I haven’t made any friends in the family ward.  Everyone is too busy and you don’t get a chance to meet anyone because there aren’t any activities, or hardly any.  I miss FHE.  I miss firesides and activities. I need to go to institute in Lehi for the midsingles but I haven’t had great luck with the midsingles functions. It’s so different every time you go that you can’t really get to know anyone.

Yes, I’m complaining but this is my blog and I can do that from time to time.  It just made me sad that’s all. I’ll get over it.

A RING AND OTHER SHOPPING

On happy news I have all of my Christmas shopping done except for my roommate!  Crazy right.  I got some cute stuff.  I kept stumbling on stuff I think they will really love and I didn’t spend a ton of money.

Also, I got a ring from my box of happies last month that I liked but the band was cheap so I had the local jeweler make me a new band.  I just love it so much!

Designed by me. I love that! Something totally unique
Designed by me. I love that! Something totally unique

Also, if you haven’t checked out the Poler website do.  They have outerwear, Nike shoes and tons of cool hats for winter.  Would be great for Christmas gifts.  Check out yours truly:

You could say I wear many hats for Poler
You could say I wear many hats for Poler

I got a new sign from the great etsy shop The Sign Post.  Love them both.  They were a great company to work with because I had originally spelled TS Eliot’s name with two Ts and they caught it and corrected it.  I think they are pretty great.

signs

Another great find is called The Protein Bakery.  I saw them on the food network and they are treats made with protein that I actually like!  They also contain mostly wheat free flours (not technically gluten free because the facilities process wheat but wheat free flours).  I was so impressed and I normally hate that kind of thing.  My gag reflex is super strong at protein additives but these are yummy

protein factory

I also got to try these cookies from Cheryls bakery and they were delicious.  They have a service on their website where you can send a cookie-gram.   I think that is super cute and seriously one of the best baked goods I’ve tried.

460x382_CherylsCookieCardFlash_DelilahBYDayOCTOBER BOXES

I have also had a great time trying out more boxes in the last month.  Check out some of my youtube videos for favorites:

 

 

Peach Dish

I only have a second because I am working but my last box to try came.  Its called Peach Dish.  Its a meal service where you get delivered all the ingredients for a 4 course meal for 2 in the mail.  You can do it on a weekly basis for $20 or individually for $24.  They include all the recipes and everything is healthy and organic/grass fed (even the meat comes with it)

You can also buy grass fed beef and produce in bulk at very reasonable prices from the site.

peach dishI think this is a particularly smart idea if you are like me, single and cooking for 1, or married cooking for 2.  How easy to have everything ready to go? You just have to add oil, salt and pepper!

What do you guys think?  I will be posting a review of my favorite boxes later tonight.  What have looked the most interesting to you?  Which one’s would you subscribe to?  Thanks to all who let me try out there boxes for review at free or discounted prices.  It has been super fun.

Here’s my meal (posted later in the evening)

peach dish2

Box Month Continues: Goodies Co and Naturebox

Got two more boxes today for box month and they are both food boxes.  I think the last of my food boxes.  If you want to do a box month contact the different subscriptions, tell them about your blog and you may get lucky.  Its been really fun.

Goodies Co-

This is a great box for those that want to dabble in boxes but don’t want to invest much money . It is only $7 a month!  I spend that much on a cafe rio burrito!  They also have a points system where you can add reviews and get discounts, free shipping on products.   It is a smaller box and the value came to right about $7 so its not a huge value box but the cost is so low I think it has its appeal.

This is not specifically a healthy box; although all of the products appear to be all-natural and ingredient conscious.  Mostly its a snacking box. They have an adult box and one designed for kids.  I got the adult box to to try and enjoyed it.

goodies

Goodies
2.77 alo light exposed drink
0.31 tangy zangy
1.5 poplets sea salt and butter
0.4 sunflower seeds
1.1 veggie sticks
0.75 pronto
0.48 sales tax
7.31  total

Naturebox

I have already talked about this box on my blog because its one I have done for a couple of months.  I love it.  Its my favorite food box.  The great things about this box is you can pick what products you want, they are full size, all nutritionist recommended and yummy! This box is a great bargain too.  My box this month was valued at $27.11 and that is being conservative.  I think it would be great for an office breakroom.  You could get healthy snacks for your employees without having to go to the store or to Costco!

It is definitely the largest of all the food boxes I tried and still my favorite.  I highly recommend it.  They also have lots of gluten free and vegan options so you just pick what you like.   I can’t recommend it highly enough.

This month I tried a few new things like the guacamole bites and garlic pumpkin seeds and some of my favorites from past boxes like the cheddar pub pretzels (so good!).  You can also be suprised by snackbox if you prefer and you can add on to your box for a very reasonable fee.   Naturebox is not a sample box.  All of the products are made with the naturebox label which is part of the reason why you are given such generous amounts for the $19.95 cost.  I love it.  Give it a try!

naturebox

Naturebox
4 pumpkin seeds
3.34 cheddar pub pretzels
4 plantain chips
4 peanut butter nom noms
4 guacamole bites
6 veggie chips
25.34 subtotal
1.77 sales tax
27.11 total

Herb Gardening

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but I have a long track record of killing plants.  Perhaps this is part of the reason why I’ve never owned a pet (other reason is this) .  In fact, my track record has been so abysmal that is hard to believe I’m the daughter of a skilled gardener (2 in fact).  My Mom has always had the best garden on the block and knows tons about botany, soil types, and all other gardening topics (we joke that when playing boggle she knows about plants, nautical terms and fairy words (hmmm…).

Anyway, I asked my Mom to help me with some planter boxes for my back patio area.  I get full sun and have been yearning for home grown herbs for some time.  My friend Sarah has gotten an amazing herb box inside her apartment to grow.  The nice thing about having your own herbs is you can use as little or as much as you want and the cost is so much lower than the big blister package you get at the grocery store.

So my parents were in town this week and originally I thought it would be a fun thing for my Mom and I to do together.  Unfortunately she was busy the beginning of the week and I was busy with my boss coming into town (she organized the heck out of me! So great! More to come on that later) so it didn’t look like it would get done.

Fortunately my Mother is super nice and she agreed to take on the project on my behalf.  She did everything.  Bought the containers, soil, and some of the plants.  Then today she filled, planted and watered them showing me how to take care of them. I felt bad but was also very grateful.  Thanks Mom!

I am now more determined than ever to reverse my black thumb and keep these plants alive! Any tips?  Suggestions?  Also I have 4 different kinds of mint.  Favorite mint recipes please!

My Mom showing her days of work!
My Mom showing her days of work!
We have 2 tomato plants, basil, lemon thyme, sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary and more.
We have 2 tomato plants, basil, lemon thyme, sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary and more.

Twinkie Conundrum

So Hostess has closed.  We have all heard that.  Another American brand down the drain, no bailout for those 18k workers, no recourse for a union that flushed workers down the drain.

Here’s the funny thing since the news came out I have heard basically this same conversation from almost all of my friends/family (even my Dad!):

“I’m not going to miss all those unhealthy foods.”

or  “America is sure going to be healthier with out all the trans-fats clogging their arteries”

but then the statement is almost always followed by ‘I will miss those cupcakes though’, or ‘I wonder how much longer we can get a snowball?’ or ‘hard to imagine no more wonder bread or twinkies’.

What makes me laugh is that almost everyone I know plays the part of the healthy eater, glad Hostess is gone and ridding America from its guilt-ridden treats but secretly are lamenting the loss.  I guess it is the definition of a guilty pleasure!

I wonder if part of the remorse is like watching Saturday morning cartoons. They are syrupy and stupid but you kind of like them.  They remind you of being a kid again and for those of that had pleasant childhoods the remembrance is pleasant.  Perhaps we like such food because when we were a kid we didn’t have to worry so much about carbs, organic food, clean eating or any of that crap? We could just eat a twinkie if our Mom told us it was okay.

Perhaps we like things like hostess because we secretly LIKE THEM! In one Washington Post article about the mass selloff of twinkies on ebay a vendor described the situation well:

“If buyers do not bite, Mr. Edmonds is not sure what he will do with his supply. He does not even like Twinkies.

“I do like to have a Ding Dong every once in a while though,” he said.”

(I swear that same caveat is being said by nearly every American)

I remember when I saw Martha Stewart making her own peeps and I felt tired and a little disgusted.  What a waste of time when the original are delicious. I’m sure she would be insulted at the idea of store bought peeps but at Easter I wouldn’t want them any other mixed up, gussied way, just gooey, crispy peeps.  I like gourmet food but I also like familiar food where I know how it will taste and what it will be like.  I think that is the appeal of a lot of foods like Hostess. They are easy to eat, absorb and enjoy.

What foods do you like that you are slightly embarrassed to admit liking?  Come on, let it out.  I can think of some:

1- Chicken Nuggets- not fancy chicken strips (although those are good too).  I’m talking about crunchy little chicken pieces of manufactured yumminess and I get all the sauces I can muster.

2- pizza- This is really a guilty pleasure but I like all variations of pizza, not just the bubbly gourmet kind with fancy cheeses but the greasy pepperoni from Little Caesars (and I love Crazy bread!)

3- Movie popcorn- I love popcorn in general but I like the salty, yellow, intoxicating smelling popcorn at the movie theater.  I do! (With extra butter of course).

4- Sweet/Sour candies. When I went on my sugar fast the thing I craved the most was sour patch kids.  Strange but something about that lip puckering sweet and sour sounded so good.

5- Ice Cream- I’ve never met a flavor or brand of ice cream I don’t like.  I love the fancy gourmet kinds but also the big buckets of generic vanilla.
I also love ice cream novelties like drumsticks and fudgicals

6- Popsicles- I love those double popsicles in cherry, root beer, grape, banana, orange, etc.  You know the one’s?

7- Ramen noodles- I don’t like canned soup- ever, ever, ever!  I don’t eat it unless I’m forced and if I’m sick I’d much rather have ramen than canned soup.  I just don’t like the tecture of it.

8- Really hot fresh french fries.  They just aren’t the same baked.  Need the deep frier.  I love sauces.

9- Pillsbury- I think those crescents and biscuits are delicious.

10- Slurpees- Love all the favors, all the time.

11- Donuts- I love chocolate, maple donuts, simple glazed, powdered, whatever!  The smell makes me crazy.  Even those little powdered one’s make me happy.

12- Crackers- I love Chicken n’ biscuit, ritz, saltines, club crackers whatever.  YUM!

13- pudding snacks- not fancy kind.  Just standard pudding cups.

14- On same line lunchables.  Ah the decadence!

( I could keep going…)

What about you?  What do you have to talk yourself into getting a salad for?  What transfat nightmares do you linger over in the market and then head for the whole wheat section…

Be honest!  Who out there is secretly going to miss the twinkie?

Two Perfect Foods

My trainer says if you are going to cheat make sure it is ‘Oh heck yeah’ cheat.  No lame brownie from a store.  No dime ice cream.  Something that is really good! Being on day 5 of Jenny Craig this becomes even more important as my cheats are few and far between.

Here are 2 recent discoveries and the best thing is they aren’t necessarily that bad of cheats but oh are they good!

1. Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate

For years I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate milk.  Almost all chocolate milks have corn syrup and corn starch added in- yuck!  It has a gritty, chalky taste to me.  I am perhaps hyper-sensitive to that kind of taste.  Most people probably don’t even notice it, but it is like runny glue to me. It’s why I hate protein drinks or bars.  I have tried so many different kinds and they all set my gag reflex off.  (And  please don’t tell me that I will like your kind…Heard that before!).  I figure people were healthy decades before protein drinks so I can go without!

Anyway, I have tried just about every kind of chocolate milk and hot chocolate concoction out there and so far nothing has been able to beat good old Hershey syrup and milk…until today .

I found the Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate- yes, its not only chocolate milk but drinking chocolate.  Look at the ad:

Image

Holy cow was it good! I like one reviewer said ‘this stuff is crack for chocolate fans’. Another said ““It actually tastes like chocolate—not some weird amalgam of chemicals—with a touch of vanilla to balance it out.”.  That is so true.  It is strong but still a milk chocolate flavor. The vanilla does come out but mostly it is just chocolate deliciousness.  It is thick but not so thick it feels goopy. You can tell the milk is really good too.  Some chocolate milks have a background sour milk taste.  Not this.  Its fresh and creamy. Perfect.

Seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten (or drunken. Is that a word? ). I wish I could get the liter jars but it will definitely be in my Harmons shopping cart again. Wish I could buy in bulk! (Luckily I can see the Harmons from my apartment!) Wow!

2. Honeycrisp apples.  Every year I live for these apples.  Some apples claim to be ‘like honeycrisp’ (Envy, galla, you know who you are) but alas nothing can beat my honeycrisp.  They are a perfect food.  Crisp, tart, sweet, delicious. I have literally been dreaming about them for months and anxiously awaiting their return, looking longingly at the apple section but none until today!

Last year I gave them away as gifts to friends and once they tasted one they eagerly awaited my next visit and the presentation of the honeycrisp.  They are expensive.  I spent over $10 on a bag today but worth the price.  Holy cow! I literally yelped in the supermarket when I saw them.

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So while I’m eating my frozen meals I will be supplementing them (its part of the program) with fresh veggies and my delicious honeycrisps! What more can a girl ask for?

Oh and I might get a drinking chocolate every now and then (doesn’t that sound sophisticated?)

Seriously hunt these products down.  You won’t regret it!

(And yes, if either Metro Chocolate or the honeycrisp people want to send me samples I will gladly accept and plug their fabulous products :) )

Aren’t the simple joys the best?  Whoever said you can’t be excited about food and really love it while dieting is crazy!