Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fat to Thin: My Confession

When I began this blog almost a year ago it was important to me to express my values to my friends, my readers.  Honesty has always been at the top of my core values.  It is no secret that before I was pregnant with Lilly I lost 110 pounds - 90 of it in 9 months alone with the help of Shannon Pascale and the Jenny Craig System.  After I delivered Lilly I returned to Jenny and Shannon and the rest you know as I have shared every happy pound lost and every god awful pound regained. 

I posed a question a few months ago about whether I had given up on myself or not.  I bucked up and got back on the weight loss train.  I have lost a little, but not enough to maintain motivation and perseverance.  So, I have taken the last few months to think about what it is I want for myself.  And I came to the following conclusion:

I am who I am and who I am is tired of being judged. Who I am is tired of being looked at as the one with the pretty face - this face is getting old. I am the one who wants to run without a herd of elephants on her ass. I am the one who wants to be struggle free putting on socks.  I am the one who wants to be the Banana Republic and J. Crew chick and not the Lane Bryant lady.  I am the one who wants to run around all day with her kids without getting tired.  I am the one who wants to live.  I am the one who wants to live.  I AM THE ONE WHO WANTS TO LIVE.

I have the power to make a choice and the resilience to live with my choices.  So, in the spirit of honesty I will share with you that I am in the pre-operative phase of getting a gastric bypass.  I was going to share this with you all after I had surgery, but then decided it was really shitty and dishonest of me to withhold this choice from you.  Plus, there are a lot of funny things one encounters while on the road to surgery....and, I can't wait to share all of it with you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Way of Remembering My Dad 15 Years Later.....

People often ask me how I manage all of my responsibilities.  The answer: motivation.  Recently, I have found that I need to spark a little motivation in my colleagues.  Below is part of an address I will be recording and sending out to staff as a means to garner an understanding for, and a commitment to, community service.  There are parts where the "I" will be transformed into the "We" but this is where I began from - my heart.   

My father, Fred, was a beast of a man.  He was a loud and vivacious Sicilian who pushed people out of their comfort zones because he always saw they could do more and be more.   Those that had lost their way and sought solace in his advice learned quickly that giving up was never an option.  My father had the  gift of insightfulness that when coupled with his wisdom would guide a soul in an infinite number of directions.  Many found it impossible to not be inspired by him as he taught them the power a having a dream.                   
My father dedicated his adult life to giving back to his community.  He knew that there was magic in selfless acts.  He led by example and inspired others of all ages, makes, and models to do the same.  He knew that the life you lead when you believe no one is watching is a powerful way of measuring the human spirit.
My father also recognized that our characters as people are also defined by what we do when no one else is watching.  My father’s character was one of integrity, strength, and even humiliation.  In all of the work he did for different organizations, and ultimately, his family, he did so because he recognized the need to create a culture that sustains positive human learning and growing.  
My vision for Wilson is built from the foundation that my father created for me from which to dream upon.  I vision our Wilson family working collaboratively to continuously examine our school’s culture so that it may be a school that is universally hospitable to student learning and achievement in and outside of the classroom.  I truly believe in making not only our students more knowledge and caring, but also ourselves.  This is why I strive for excellence.
My father may be gone, but he and his lessons are not forgotten.  He left a lasting legacy.  He left his dream. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm Stripping.....

Skinny people have a freaking obsession with fat.  What happened to the good 'ol days?  It used to be that when a pseudo celebrity needed an ego boost they would slum it to where the commoners are and have someone yell, "Oh my god it's.......!"   Well, it seems a new trend is forming to boost the egos of these egocentric and demoralizing women.  It seems as though nothing in this world can be as demonizing as being fat.  So, that is what these women are doing - they are putting on fat suits to "expose" the discrimination that overweight and obese people experience in this country. 


Let's call it for what it is.   The fact that is these women are not parading around in elephant sized asses to do society a favor.  These women, who are deemed thin by society's standards, are putting on these fat suits in an effort to make themselves feel better.   The act of putting on a fat suit and hitting the streets while being followed by cameras seems to be more common practice thanks to shows like Entertainment Tonight.  Their latest stunt's headline read "Melissa Gorga's Crusade Against Fat Discrimination."  And the crusade?  When I figure it out I will let you know.  To my understanding, the woman, whose job it is to be a desperate housewife in Jersey, hit the streets of NYC in her "normal" look.  She then underwent 5 hours of make up to transform into a 400 pound woman in a freaking bright pink jumpsuit.  Who would not look at that?  WHO!  Notice, I purposely did not end that with a question mark.

I have stated it before and I will state it again.  Fat discrimination is the last socially accepted form of discrimination.  It does not take a desperate woman from Jersey donning a fat suit to tell us this.  Strip off the fat suit.  If you want to see the discrimination walk out your front door. It is everywhere.  

Check out my next blog entry - Weight loss companies are a billion dollar a year scheme.   



Saturday, October 8, 2011

3 weeks to form a habit....

I love that people follow my blog - that is the whole point if this, right?!?  It is my desire to help motivate those people who want to make life changes.  So, what happens when the motivator becomes stuck and needs her own motivation?  It was so hard to write the words that shared with you all the struggle I have been facing recently.  I honestly had to share it though.  A funny thing happened afterward - I felt better.  Giving it to a "higher being" seriously made things clearer for me.  I could finally take a breath and reflect. 

I made a decision.  I have not given up on myself.  I am not going to get the gastric bypass.  I do not need it.  I may never get as thin as the people who have had it, but I will never have to live the fear of complications.  So, how do I make it on my own?  Hookers (see earlier post) and Dr. Oz.   

According to Dr. Oz it takes 3 weeks to form a habit.  As a married woman I have tested this theory many times using my husband as a guinea pig.  I hate dishes, so I have B start doing them - in 3 weeks he should have this down according to Dr. Oz.  Nope.  It took 4 years to get B to mow the lawn and keep mowing it - a far cry from the 3 weeks Dr. Oz called for.  My love in Dr. Oz, however, will not let me give up hope.  So, in the last few weeks I have removed the focus from my husband and put it on me.  I guess if a habit is to be formed in 3 weeks, it should be my habit as it probably helps to have buy-in.

Three weeks ago I began using an old tool, a weekly menu.  I have been filling in the menu at the beginning of each week on Sundays.  I add up all of the calories to make sure I am within the daily allotted 1500.  I eat the same number of calories a day.  I eat at approximately the same times everyday and I generally choose the same foods each week.  The structure is necessary as a woman. Is it working?  YES.  And I knew it would. 

I have not issued a challenge in quite a while - so I will throw one out there now.  Stop.  Step Back.  Reflect.  Do you see ways in which you need to take back control?  For the real challenge - Let Up on Yourself.  We all have moments where we cannot handle imperfections or things out of our control.  It is our response to such times that define our state of being.  I got lost for a period of time and needed reminding of this.  I let up and redefined my response.  You can do the same.  I have faith in you.    

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Turn'n Tricks

There is a lot we can learn from hoes.  For one - hard work pays.  Another - "exersex" can burn......... calories.  And yet another lesson - stick to the regular tricks and you will be rewarded.  When Noah was an infant and I was diagnosed with my crappy liver I had a decision to make about how I was going to live my life.  I knew then as I know now - put me against a bear and not only will I beat that bear in a pie eating contest, but I will eat the bear when the pie runs out.

Statistics continue to demonstrate that people who lose weight without truly changing their behaviors gain the weight back and many at a surplus.  I gained a percentage of my weight back not because I did not learn new behaviors, but because of pregnancy.  Honestly though, I did gain a tad bit of weight back due to the apple fritter donuts I was addicted to while pregnant.  I knew when I got pregnant that I was not prepared with all of the tools that I needed to keep my weight in check- sheer will power while the alien  inside of me kicked for sugar and carbs - was not one of them.  Knowing I was not fully prepared however did not stop me from putting a lot of pressure on myself to come out of my pregnancy as my old resolved self.

For 16 months I have put an insane amount of pressure on myself to be the pre-preggers me.  Not going to happen.  I am not the same.  I am now a mother of two, my career is in a totally different place, and my responsibilities have changed.  I am not the same, but there are some old tricks that will help.

I asked myself one question this week, "What could I not live without when I lost weight before?"  The answer: my calendar.  I lived and ate by my calendar.  I planned all of my meals for the week right down to the snacks.  Everyday I marked off my foods as I ate them.  So, I recreated a calendar this week and I used it.....and it worked.  I know what I am going to eat and when I am going to eat it.  Research shows that women need consistency in their diets and that even slight deviations can be detrimental.  Women should also strive to eat roughly the same amount of calories everyday with an emphasis on creating balance among the food groups.  The calendar makes this manageable.

If I had realized that giving in and letting everything go....whether to a higher power or not... was the answer then I would have given in 16 months ago.  I feel stronger than I did a few days ago and I know the strength will continue to come back.  How do I know?  Well, I'm an old Ho when it comes to weight loss.  


Monday, September 19, 2011

When Good People do Harm

Many might be wondering why I have been so silent for the past few months.  Some of you may know that I had a little melt down a number of months ago out of frustration and lack of results at the gym.  I am not generally one for giving up, but even I can feel the stress of disappointment overwhelmingly at times. 

When I had Lilly 17 months ago something changed in me physically.  I began to experience a number of strange "symptoms" that in isolation may not be alarming, but when looked at as a whole red flags went jumping out in all directions.  I have been seeking help for months now and nobody has had an answer for me.  I am finding that these "specialists" that I have been referred to do not like to work and do not know how to be  responsible to their ethical duty.  Each specialist has said that it could be a number of things, they pick one, test for it, shake my hand and promise to follow through even if it is not what they initially believe it is.  Upon the return visit - a hand shake is exchanged, good new is shared that their first idea was wrong .........and they are going to continue to help should be next.... NOPE! they shake my hand once again and we part ways with no further follow up.

I cannot imagine doing to my scholars what these doctors have done to me (and clearly others).  At the last appointment I cried.  I admit it.  The flood gates opened and I went all girly on this doctor.  Out of all the symptoms he could have chosen from he chooses to think I am crying because of my weight.   I had to sit and explain to this man that what made me cry was not being overweight (although I have done that plenty in life) but was him and his empty promise.  His response was to tell me I needed "help."  I walked out of that doctor's office not only feeling lower than I have felt in a very long time, but with lost hope in myself. 

Some would argue that I am a strong woman who works with her vulnerabilities.  They may further argue that I back down from no one person or from anything thrown in my way - especially a good fight.  I have always been persistent even if I must barrel my way through (my son is the same way).  This fight, however, I am done with it.  I am tried of battling. I am tired period.  I am moving on.

I do not believe that giving up is always necessarily quitting something in the negative sense.  I was raised to never quit anything and this is probably why I tend to not easily let things go.  I can certainly chew the taste out of a bone and then whittle that bone into a little figurine.  Sometimes things, however, do not need to be our primary focus and if giving it up means I have left it in the hands of a higher being then let it be so.  This is not to say that I am choosing to ignore what is happening to me physically, but that for now I will step back and wait to see what comes of it all.  

As to my needing "help."  There is no shame in it and I think everyone needs a good tune up from time to time.  I do find it irresponsible for a doctor to assume any one - not just a woman (and I do question if his response would have been the same if it were a man whom was in his office) - would need "help" because he failed to fulfill his promise as others did before him.

The most damage this man did was that I have now scheduled a consultation for a gastric bypass.  I have thankfully not gained all the weight back that I lost before having Lilly, but have gained 50% of it back from the pregnancy.  I am not going to allow anyone to hold my weight over me or use it to give them power over me any longer.  Will I go through with the surgery?  I don't know at this point, but I have always promised complete honesty and where I never have seen it as an option before I am considering it now. Now, I must be honest with me and ask, "Have I completely given up on myself?"         

Friday, August 5, 2011

"I don't love you..."

There are times in life when the ordinary results in something extraordinary.  It could be a moment, a written word, a picture, anything - as long as the anything becomes a something.  For years I read nothing but drab books on academia.  I wrote even more drab papers on the subject. It was not until this blog that I actually decided to begin writing again, only this time for myself.  As far as reading goes, I chose to catch up on all the books that I had missed that should be listed at B&N or Borders under the heading of "No Analysis Required."

Over the past year and a half I have dove into the lives of countless women - one had a sugar addiction and talked to dead people, another was hunted down by a hunk who walked across the country, and another was green and sewed wings onto monkeys.  Where I was easily swept into the lives of these women I was just as easily carried back out and into the next.  I was not riveted or blown away by any of them and made connections with none of them.  These books were ordinary.

Last summer as I was sitting home with my baby girl I was handed a book entitled "The Help."  I looked at it, cute cover, stuck it on a shelf.  I looked at it from time to time and on the shelf it remained.  While on vacation I happened to see a  trailer for the movie based on the book.  Looks good, but still the book sat on my shelf.  I decide Rob Lowe is my next book of choice (not a female author but who can argue).  I forget said book while on an overnight in P-Ville.  "The Help" finds its was off the shelf and in my hands.  Page 1 is ordinary.  Page 2 is ordinary.  Somewhere, however, in the pages of that book I find extraordinary.

I am the wife of a man of color and the mother of two bi-racial children.  I know that until approximately 1968 miscegenation was illegal throughout a large portion of the United States.  My own parents were married in 1968.  I find it hypocritical (for lack of a better term at 1 am) to celebrate how much has changed in our nation when people are still denied basic human rights.  We should all be ashamed and I cannot help but wonder, at that end of this battle, who will be the next group to be denied basic rights....?   

Extraordinary....  I will admit that there are times when it is extremely difficult for me to understand the emotions of the past, as it is not my past, but still it is a past which so pointedly defines my present.  The relationships portrayed amongst all of the women in "The Help" are windows for me.  I do not know if I have ever felt a connection to so many different bonds weaved within a single novel at one time.  The insight was powerful - I cried for them, for the others like them. I cried for the ignorance and the loss. I cried for the fight and the gains.  I cried for my daughter and my son.  I cried for the what-ifs and the could-be stills. 

I cried for me........ 

I understand the relationships I have with the people in my life a little more clearly now.  Babies are born with an innate ability to trust and love.  It is amazing how quickly the world takes that ability away.  My son told me tonight that he did not love me.  He is 4.  I told him it was okay and that I understood that he was really mad and that little boys that don't love their mommies just need extra big hugs.  I hugged my baby tight to me and he spent the better part of the night trying to apologize, not through words or "I'm sorry," but through tight squeezes and cuddles.  When I asked him at the end of the night is he was still upset by what he said he replied, "yes" and with another big squeeze I told him it was okay to forgive.  The first relationships we build in our lives are the easiest.  It is those that come later that are the hardest. 

Extraordinary.  You never know where or when or how - but when you do find it - you will know.   


Thursday, May 19, 2011

The skinny on the heavy.....

There is something to be said for being overworked and overtired.  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to over committing and taking on too much.  I am a full time mother, full time wife, full time friend, full time daughter, full time niece, full time teacher and coordinator, full time chef, full time house keeper, on-and-on-and-on-and on goes the list of full time responsibilities. 

Ask for help you say?  Ha!  Never.  Actually, I have had to succomb to the fact that I do need help.  Let me share with you how I most recently came to this conclusion....

I have to work Saturdays!  I received an email stating that I would be receiving a small, but well earned stipend for the extra work I have completed through my coordinator's position.  Do not get overly excited, it is not enough to go out to dinner on - but it is something.... All I would have to do is work an additional 3 Saturdays between May and June.  Okay, I can do that, but seriously, 3 Saturdays on top of what I have already done?  I'm a team player, so I look at my calendar and send off emails stating that I will have to leave early one of the days and so on.... NO!!!!  I don't have to work Saturdays.  I have to enter the time I have worked into the computer on those Saturdays.  FAIL. 

Every morning I try to maintain the same routine.  This is hard to do when you do not get much sleep at night... dirty birds- it is from the baby!  My routine: I get up, let the dogs out, shower, do my hair, feed the dogs, get everyone else up and ready to go, and then we are out the door. Yesterday,  I go through my list, everything gets done, and I am ready to walk out of the door when I am stopped and asked, "Why do you have a towel on your head?"  Yup - I never did my hair and simply was walking out the door with my hair wrapped in a towel.  At least I had my clothes on.  FAIL.

I flashed my ass at work.  This was not done on purpose, I can promise you that.  It is also not the first time my ass has been put on accidental display.  When I was a swimmer I forgot my suit for States at the hotel, I borrow one not realizing I was given a drag suit with a hole in the butt- so 1000s of people sitting above a pool deck saw my big round ass framed by a big blue swim suit.  I never thought I would say this - but thank god for that moment.  No one remembers that it happened but me (I hope), but it totally prepared me for what happened to me this morning.  First of all - the laundry never finished drying so I am wearing a pair of Brent's boxer-briefs; and although I cursed this morning it may have been a saving grace!  This is the skinny on the heavy..... I go to the bathroom at work, do my business, and pull up my drawers.  I hit the sink, wash my hands and take a quick look in the mirror.  I adjust the front of my dress and decide I am good to go.  I walk out the door and am immediately hit by a draft.  The back of my dress is tucked into the back of Brent's boxer-briefs.  "Holy shit!" I yell and proceed to pull the back of my dress out of the back of my drawers.  Needless to say, Mr. Meise's door has been shut the rest of the day....a first all year.  Poor man.  FAIL.

So, I can't read an email, forget to do my hair, and flash the school staff.  These are just three examples of how I know I am overworked and overtired.  There are so many other examples - I keep thinking that everyday is Thursday, I overdrafted three checking accounts through one check, I drove to Webster instead of Penfield, I had to ask if I was on a committee that I have been working on for months, I left Noah in the car when we got to daycare.  HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

There are times when we all need help and we cannot shy away from asking for it.  I am a better mom, wife, teacher, coordinator, friend, daughter, niece, dog walker, poop changer, food maker, baker, and all around better person when I ask for help.  So, if anyone wants to come over and do a load of laundry, cook me a meal, change my bed, or just bring me a glass of wine I welcome you with open arms.  Just be warned - I cannot be responsible for when my ass may make a surprise appearance.   

Monday, May 16, 2011

The only truth I know....

The only truth I know is my truth.  Today I lost another one of my school children and I am in pain.  The first time I felt the pain of losing a child I was but a mere child myself.  It was my first taste of anger and complete helplessness...of despair and anguish...of hatred and I was five

That feeling of being completely out of control of my world came again in October 2005. Hearing the words, "He's gone..." float through the phone broke me and I fell to my knees and I wept.  Devon was not my biological child, but he was mine nonetheless.  I loved him unconditionally and with all of my heart.  There was nothing I would not do or give for that child.  His mom Shauna, a sister to me, was a single mother and I felt blessed that she let me share in her love for her boys.  We were so close that I felt like they were our boys. 

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Shauna, Randy, Devon, and Donovan.  If I could rewrite my own history I would spin a tale of weeping and healing together as a family.  The truth is, that while I cried some from time to time, I never let myself heal.  After I fell to the floor and wept, I picked myself up, rounded my shoulders back, and found a deep strength from within to not allow myself to fall apart again.  It truly takes strength to hold back that much pain and hurt. 

Not allowing oneself to heal is consequential.  Why did I not allow myself to heal?  I did not feel as though I had a right to my pain.  I believed that if I showed pain then I was robbing Shauna of her time to heal and I needed her to heal.  I desperately needed her to heal.  I needed her to be resilient.  If I poured all that I had into her then I could save her. 

What I needed to do was save myself. 

Consequence #1: I became useless to my friend, my sister.  As Shauna grew stronger I remained stagnant.  I did not know how to ask for help or if I even had the right to ask.

Consequence #2: The strength to surppress emotions runs out and has to be replaced with something.  In this case it was food.  So many people make statements that there is no reason for a person to be as big as they are.  There are always underlying causes.  When my father died I almost ate myself to an early grave.  No, I did not grieve then either and after I lost that weight I swore I would not allow myself to return to that place.  But, here I was once again.  The weight I gained this time was monumental and what finally led to my being diagnosed with liver disease forcing me to deal with the loss of Devon.

This past winter, AME Baber Church hosted a holiday memorial for people who have lost loved ones to violence.  I went and I wept.  Not only is the strength to suppress gone, but so is the reliance on food as a suppressor, or even worse, food as an oppressor.  I have learned to ask for help and to allow myself to rely on others to lift me when I am too weak to carry myself any further. 

There is power in healing.  Tonight I will pray for the family of Sammy Maldonado and ask that they are given the strength to heal in a healthy way.  I will sit back and remember my student for who he was - an intelligent young man with a quick wit and fantastic smile.  He made me laugh and this I will celebrate. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Being called FAT is hard to swallow....

Yes.  I was called FAT again.  And, it hurt.  It hurt a lot.  I felt like a I was 12 again and my peers were mocking me relentlessly.  It was not a fun experience and it was in front of my children.  I posted it on Facebook.  Why?  To garner sympathy of course.  No one wants to have their less-than-perfect physical attributes pointed out: big nose, crocked teeth, cross eyes, black gums, unibrow, pvs, muffin top, ect... 

Weight discrimination is the last socially accepted form of discrimination.  Star magazine makes it a game out of playing "Guess which celebrity belongs to this fat ass?" or People Magazine's yearly "Look who finally got thin!" issue (which truth be told, I want to hit that lottery someday).  Oprah has her weight loss stars, airlines have their special pricing options (real special - Buy 2 seats for 1 ass), Biggest Loser (...and then biggest gainer again), Ruby, Extreme Make Over Weight Edition, even Survivor!  Women still make significantly less money than their thinner counterparts - (you all did read my paper on weight discrimination against women in the workforce, right?!? I'll post a link).  Men also make less depending on their weight, however the percentage difference drops significantly. 

What are the effects of calling a person fat over and over again?  In my experience it was a fulfilling prophecy.  Notice I left the self out of it as it was not, and is not, the prophecy I have for myself.  Fat has a powerful hold over people.  The word is dehumanizing and the tissue itself is immobilizing.  I once had a doctor who told me that the only thing wrong with me was that I was fat and fat hurts.  I was so angry that I never went back to see her.  She let my "fat" disable her from being able to treat me properly.  Much later in life I came to the realization that she did have one thing right - fat does hurt.  It hurts emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

Part of my healthy living goal is to take the power out of the word fat.  This is a tall order and starts at home.  I teach my children that the word fat is not a bad word.  Noah can often times be heard saying, "Mom, can I give your fat a little love pinch?" to which I reply, "Of course baby, go ahead and give it a big pinch!"  There is not much we cannot attain through social and responsible education and living.  Teaching children that fat is not a bad word does not teach them that being fat is a healthy lifestyle.  It is also our responsiblity to teach our children healthy choices and  behaviors. 

One last thought.  Just because a young person is predisposed to being overweight does not mean that they are predestined to being overweight.  The freedom, glory, and wonder that comes from being a child is that there are no limits, no guarentees, and no final destination.

Here is that link to the paper if you are interested!  I wrote it my senior year at Brockport and have made several presentations since.  Interestingly enough - not much has changed in the last 12 years.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Limes, they're not just for and more

I promise, I have not abandoned all of my followers - I make it sound like I have started a cult!  Put the kool-aid down!  While I have been absent from writing I have not been so from my research.  Yes, believe it or not I do research for my blog.  My reading and research have taken me in so many different directions in the last month that I will try to sum it up in a few recipes.  Yes, you read it right - RECIPES!!!!  And, they are fantastic.

In preparing the menu for Lilly's birthday party I reflected back on past gatherings as guidance.  Knowing (praying actually) that the weather would hold out I wanted to honor the start of Spring.  Spring foods to me mean rebirth.  Our senses are rejuvenated with fresh tastes and reminders that summer is just around the corner.  Besides flavor there are numerous health benefits to spring flavors. 

According to a British researcher we can actually attain a healthy glow to skin from the carotenoids that give food their color.  Carrots and tomatoes are not the only skin healthy foods that the spring and summer have to offer.  Increasing your citrus intake can hydrate your skin and increase that glow as well.  Try adding these power foods to your diet.  They will not only help you rejuvenate but are packed with health-related benefits as well!

Power Foods: Grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, avocado, asparagus, artichokes, peppers, cashews, peas, olives.

STOP right there!  Yes, some of these power foods are higher in fat than others - do not shy away.  You can still enjoy these foods.  Avocados can be used as a spread alternative to mayo.  Cashews can be chopped and added to salads - a few chopped nuts can go further than a handful of whole nuts.  The same can be done with olives - a few kalamata olives can be diced and added to salads or even spreads.  You can even add a little of the juice when you want the flavor but none of the olive. 

Cucumber Miso Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)
In a bowl add and whisk together:
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of white miso (I use heaping teaspoons for added flavor)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoons of dark sesame oil (measure over the bowl so that a little extra drizzles in)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Add 3-4 seeded and sliced cucumbers 
*Note: to seed a cucumber slice in half and run a spoon down the middle to scoop out the seeds.

Fresh Salsa (measure by taste and make 12-24 hours in advance)
in a bowl mix together:
14 ounces of Hunt's diced tomatoes (Hunt's always has the BEST flavor tomato)
Some fresh diced roma
Finely shopped red onion (I use a lot)
Fresh cilantro (chopped - make sure it has a rich smell or it will have weak flavor)
The juice of about 3 fresh limes (I like to think more is better)
3-4 Concord Foods salsa packet

Summer Pasta Salad (Mine and Erin Wachowicz's favorite!)
Pick a pound pasta and make it. Add freshly diced roma tomatoes (4-6) 2 cans of garbanzo beans.
In a bowl whisk together olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
White wine (sauvignon blanc) - pour in about a half cup...or more
Fresh lemon zest
Diced garlic (2-3 cloves)
Fresh lemon juice from about 3-4 potent lemons
Add freshly cut mint (couple small packages)
Add dressing to pasta and top with feta cheese. Let sit for 24 hours. Add a tad  more lemon juice and white wine then serve at room temp.

Perfect Beef Tenderloin
Season with black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and freshly cracked sea salt.  Heat grill to 450 degrees and add meat.  Drop heat to about 300-325 and rotate every 5-6 minutes until you reach desired tenderness.  Cooking your meat more slowly will help fuse the flavor.

Green Salad
Mixed greens
Mandarin orange slices
Green grapes halved
Strawberries sliced
red onion thinly sliced
Red wine vinegar dressing
Top with homemade croutons

Homemade croutons
Slice a ciabatta baguette into thin slices at an angle
Top both sides with spray butter, freshly cracked pepper, and freshly cracked sea salt
Place under broiler on high until both sides are crisped. 
*Note: This will not take long!

1 can of frozen pink lemonade
3 cups of smooth gin (New Amsterdam is nice)
Mix together in pitcher
Add 1 bottle of champagne
Serve with a lemon peel

Lastly,  get yourself some fresh spring rolls (aka garden rolls).  I have yet to make these myself, but will learn and share with you all when I do.  This is truly a healthy and fun party menu - not to mention easy.  Happy eating and welcome to spring!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Time to Celebrate

My Dearest Lilly,

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Girl.  As I sit her pondering what special gift it is I would like to share with you in celebration this year - the gift of my DREAM for you seems appropriate.  When I close my eyes and I imagine your place in this world I see so much hope.  In one short year you have continued to demonstrate your strength of character, temperament, physical strength, natural sense of humor, and your love for life.  You fought so hard to be here and you have not failed to maintain that gusto.  I have no doubt that you will use these attributes in a magnificent and world changing manner.

Love is who you are.  Never be afraid to share your love and love hard.  There are people who do not know how to love, how to embrace and open themselves to vulnerability that is love.  This is okay as I believe it is the responsibility of those who can love to teach others how to love and accept being loved.

Make plenty of mistakes.  I grew up believing that if I made a mistake that meant I was the mistake.  I was a wife and mother before I understand that this belief I carried with me was a myth - an inaccuracy of major proportions.  No one person on this Earth is perfect, we are designed to evolve.  So, do just that - evolve with learning.   If we are capable of accepting our own mistakes then we can accept the mistakes of others with empathy and acceptance.

Aim high and reach for the stars.  There are no limits in this world except the limits we place on ourselves.  Think big, visualize what it is you want, and make it happen.  You do not have to take the traditional path.  My dream for you is to have the bravery to take a chance.... and then to take another chance...and then another chance.  People who are successful in this world are not so without having taken a few chances or having had failed.  So, fail.  Your greatest success could come from your greatest failure.

Family.  The greatest thing I have ever done with my life is be a mother.  I hope that you will one day feel the love for your own son or daughter that I have for all of my children.  I am a blessed woman.

Lilly, I love you with all that is my mind, my heart, my body, and my soul.  I am privileged and proud to call you daughter.


Your Mama 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Challenging Times

Living life is not easy. STOP!  There is no need to call 911.  If you are anything like me you prefer plans, lists, and routine and are slightly thrown off by chaos.  At the top of my "Most Annoying List" is when my routine is routinely interrupted.  Change is evolutionary and I am open to change.  In fact - I embrace change.  I love change - bring it on.  Have I confused you yet?  How can I love change yet hate to have my routine interrupted?  Well, I have no answer at the present time.  Maybe when I get to the end of my rambling thought I will have it figured out. 

I have been dedicated to training to become a 5K runner.  My first run is May 9th and the second run I have committed to is a week later in Binghampton. My training began January 2, 2011.  I quickly established my routine - 5 times a week with Sundays and Wednesdays off.  Things were going great.  My body was toning, the apple-fritter baby weight was coming off, and my pre-pregger clothes were coming out of the trunk.  Then hits the severe upper respiratory infection and I have not been the same since.  It is amazing how long it takes the body to recover from being sick.  I have not able to return to my training at the same level and have been falling back ever since.

There have been other obstacles as well that have hindered my routine in the gym - children getting sick, emergency room trips, traffic court appearances (not mine!), broken vehicles, work related events....the list goes on and on.  The first thing I tell people who are beginning to establish a gym routine is that your routine must be realistic. Wake up Abby!  Five days per week at the gym is probably not a realistic expectation at this point.  So, the question becomes what is realistic?  The only answer I have right now is more than zero days and less than five days.

I know of no training routine that has not been interrupted - ever.  Life happens. Change is inevitable.  Routines are disrupted.  When this happens, and it will, there are two things that you need to remind yourself.  One, quickly re-establish a new routine. Two, you must make time for yourself.  I know it is difficult, but learn from my mistake- if you do not do #1, you will not have #2. 

Time for yourself is a FUNDAMENTAL NEED in living a healthy lifestyle.  Truthfully, I have not done this in weeks and it is affecting me...and not in a good way.  When we take time for ourselves, which is rare as mothers, we are better mothers.  I firmly believe this. 

Activity Time:  
Answer the following questions:  Have I compromised my commitment to myself and as a result allowed my fitness routine to suffer....OR......Have I compromised my fitness routine and in return allowed my commitment to myself suffer? 

Either way - your commitment to yourself has been compromised.  Get your calendar and pick a day to recommit to yourself.  TODAY would be a great day to chose to start. 
 Question: "How can I love change yet hate to have my routine interrupted?"
 Answer:  Change, with respect for the commitment to self, is part of routine.


Friday, April 1, 2011

I confess, I have Sinned.....

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been  (insert amount of time) since my last confession. ....."  I have not confessed my sins to a priest since the 8th grade.  I know this because St. Mary's only went through the 8th grade.  However, if the concept of getting into heaven were based on food confessions - I would be at the right hand of the Lord for sure.  

Today, I ate a fish fry with french fries and two rolls for lunch.  I am also going out to dinner wherein I will order fresh spring rolls and a Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad with extra dressing.  These two "sins" cannot be erased with three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary - no, they will require a much stronger penance. 
How many times do you confess to yourself, a parent, a spouse, or a girlfriend whatever it is you have eaten in a day because it has evoaked some kind of negative feeling in you that you feel you must seek penance?  Take a notebook and a pen and over the course of a week record how many times you confess to yourself or aloud to someone else.  Warning!  This could be an exhausting exercise. 

It is one thing to be mindful of the food choices that we make.  It is another to consistently feel bad about the choices that are made.  Choosing the "bad" food does not mean we are "bad" people.  This sense of needing to confess what we eat adds a negative emotional dimension about food that can be unhealthy for our minds, our emotions, and our bodies.  Living a healthy life is not living a life of perfection, but instead living a life with mindful awareness. 

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been  five minutes since my last confession, but don't expect another one today!"     

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Twist on Comfort Food - A Recipe

Pillsbury Doughboy Mini Bean Bag Doll 6"
YES!  That would be the Pillsbury Doughboy you see.  What place does the Pillsbury Doughboy serve in a blog about healthy living and eating?  Well, he is the key to this next recipe! 

Let's get real here, we all have our comfort foods.  Whether we are 600 lbs or 106 lbs - we ALL have them.  We turn to them when we are overtired, sad, angry, or need a little extra squeeze of love.  Some people turn to chocolate and others to a slice of hot and gooey pepperoni pizza - I tend to turn to entire entrees...... Just another one of the habits I have had to kick to the curb over the last few years.  So, the question becomes - how do I get my comfort?

Food "make-overs" have become one of my favorite challenges to tackle.  First, I find a comfort food (...or entree) that I want and then I challenge myself to make it healthier AND to taste better than the original.  I find cutting out all of the crap and sticking to whole foods generally makes for lighter and more flavorful creations.  A recent study  concludes that the body is better able to use the calories from whole foods versus processed foods.... SORRY Twinky Diet - but you have been rebuked!

So - I encourage everyone to use whole foods as much as possible, but know that this is sometimes impossible - I do cook for six every night so I get it!  This recipe uses both whole and processed foods (thank you Pillsbury) and the filling can be prepared in advance!

Sausage and Veggie Turnovers
Spinach - fresh or canned
Onions - chopped
Portabella Mushrooms - discard stem, clean, and chop
2 pieces Alfresco Chicken Sausage (I can't get enough of it!) - diced
*****(optional) Feta or asiago or other desired cheese
Pillsbury Pie Crust
Spray Butter
Cooking Spray

In a skillet - combine the spinach,onion, portabella, & sausage - saute in the spray butter. Remove from heat and let cool.  I place it in the freezer if I don't cook it early.  Not letting it cool will melt your crust and you will have a giant mess on your hands.....TRUST ME.....!!!!! 

Roll out your dough on a cookie tray that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Place half of your saute mix in the middle of the dough and top with some feta or other desired cheese (optional).  Fold over the crust & pinch together.  I then fold the extra pinched dough up and pinch again. Spray the top with spray butter and cook at 400 for 23 minutes. Do the same thing with the other dough - fill, pinch, and cook.

You can take beaten egg whites and brush on the top of the dough as well.  This will give it a nice shiny look. 

Have fun and enjoy!!!!!



Monday, March 14, 2011

I Eat Less Than Your Skinny Ass!

Okay, so I shit you not - (nice way to start, right?!?!...must be a good one!  So, keep reading.)  I eat way fewer calorie than my skinny friends.  How do I know?  I watch them eat.  I not only watch them eat, I study what they eat.... each and every bite.  As they sit there and savor their calorie ridden, fat hidden, or carb lovin' meal - I watch in awe, envy, and complete jealousy as they take each and every mouthful of whatever delicatessen they have chosen to place on their plate. 

How do those skinny bitches do it?  Ladies, we have all asked ourselves this question a million times over.  As a collective whole - we spend billions of dollars every year on the diet industry to try and answer this very question.  We all want the secret to a tight ass, firm tits, and a flat stomach......BUT...... what we also really, really, really want to know is how to get the tight ass, firm tits, and flat stomach while still being able to eat the calorie ridden, fat hidden, or carb lovin' meal. 

The truth is - the only thing separating these "haves" from the "have-nots" is body muscle.  It is simple - the more muscle we have the more we can get away with additional calories.  The more fat we have- the less able we are to get away with it.  I am a "have-not".  I cannot get away with eating the additional calories without thinking about the consequences and workout to follow.

Wait.....were you thinking that I was going to give you dieting tips like - when going out to eat you should have half your meal wrapped  immediately so you are not tempted to eat too much?  Hell no, remember - we threw the dieting out the window a few months ago.  Plus, we all know these "tips" by now.  We are happy and reward ourselves when we follow them and we are nasty and chastise ourselves when we don't.  And besides - if you're like me, the leftovers are like money burning a hole in your pocket.  

I have talked a lot about food over the last few months, but changing our food intake is not enough to create the body muscle we need in order to achieve our desired outcome.  Movement is necessary.  Notice, I say movement and not exercise.  I am a firm believer in scaffolding - starting small and progressing forward.  Movement can begin by pledging to not take the "laziator" at work or by walking 20 minutes extra a day while on break.  It is not walking into the gym for the first time and deciding to run a marathon.  So, take a moment and think about how you can increase your movement.  With spring approaching there are endless possibilities. 

Now, I may never get the tight ass, firm tits, or flat stomach - and that is okay.  I still win by moving more and gaining muscle.  And, I promise to all my girlfriends - big and small - I will look at what you are eating and I will compare it against my plate each and everytime.  It is who I am.  So - GET UP & MOVE!!!!            


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Liberate Yourself! ....with a recipe

I HATE it when people talk about cheating.  Why does the term "cheating" always have to be associated with dieting?  I have heard it all, "I have to cheat to succeed" and "I cheated today so I might as well eat whatever I want now."  First of all - STOP dieting and start living.  Diets are signified by a beginning and an end.   Dieting is based solely on failure and success.  If I diet to lose 20 pounds and I only lose 15, am I a failure? Believe it or not, when you're the dieter - most often the answer you tell yourself is YES.  So, the retort is easy - stop dieting and you stop being a failure. 

Choose to live a healthy lifestyle instead.  A healthy lifestyle is a way of being.  It is infinite with no beginning and no end.  Living healthy signifies that you have a genuine respect for your whole self: body, mind, and spirit.  It allows for movement, flexability, and most importantly - choice.

Don't be afraid to live.  Not allowing yourself to live, and to live healthy, is the only cheating I will recognize.

In celebration of your choice to shed the diet and to live healthy I am going to give you a tasty recipe to try.  Have fun, enjoy, and liberate yourself once and for all!

Savory Sea Scallops with Simmered Apples
Sea Scallops (1 lbs. or more)
Fresh Sage (1 leaf per scallop or more... I like more)
Unsalted Butter (around 1/2 stick.... You can use much less though)
EVOO (enough to coat pan)
Sea Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Proscuitto (your choice - wrap scallop or chop and cook sep)
Golden Delicious Apples - peeled, cored, coarsley chopped (about 4 cups per 1 lbs of scallops)

Lightly coat a skillet with EVOO and unsalted butter.  Add the fresh sage and cook for a few minutes.  Remove and place on paper towel.  Add chopped proscuitto to the pan, let it crisp up some.  Salt and pepper the scallops and add to the pan and cook.  Here, I remove the scallops/proscuitto when done and cook the apples separate adding a touch more butter.  I crumble some sage back in and simmer with the apples. When the apples are good and simmered add the apples to the scallops & the rest of the sage and serve. 

You can choose to add the apples to the scallops and cook together with a touch more butter. Add sage when done and serve.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today's Lesson- There are Ways to Sneak in the Healthy at a Party

There are times when we all get down on ourselves.  The best party, however, is seldom the pity party we throw for ourselves.  Yes - you have guessed it, I have been in a self loathing mood for the last few days.  I think it is because I don't feel well, but I must remember the promise (or resolution...I suppose) I made in the New Year - No More Self Loathing!  So, I have had to lift my chin off of my sore knees and have had to move on. 

So - moving on......

I am throwing a big Italian dinner at my house at the end of February.  We are celebrating the success of a very good friend.  The challenge - keeping it healthy.  Italians are not known for health - we eat something like 17 courses during a traditional dinner.  I have been dreaming and planning about all of the yummy food I am going to make.  Okay, I lied.  I have actually been thinking with my stomach and dreaming about all the yummy food I am going to eat.  Recognizing this has forced me to put together an action plan.

Enter if you dare my dream list of food -
Fried Eggplant (aka - heaven)
Chicken Parm (aka - fried dreaminess)
Homemade Garlic Bread (aka - butter's delight)
Lasagna (aka - a ton of fun and gooiness)
Pasta with White Clam Sauce (aka - makes me smile)
Meatballs and Sauce (aka - keep your hands off my balls...YES, I went there!)
Stuffed Italian Bread (aka - the happiest heart attack you could have)
Cannolis (aka - hit me baby one more time.... I warned you of my Britney obsession!) 

Anyone salvating yet?  I know I am.  I know what some might be asking - Where's the healthy?  Well, it starts with a plan.  Step one, take a page out of "The Book de Dim Sum" and "The Book de Tapas" and make your servings smaller.  With all of the food being served there is no need for a full serving of each menu item.  Not only cut the portions, but cut the actual sizes of the food too.  Cut the chicken cutlets up! Step Two, do not set the table - allow people to remain standing and mingling.  The more you talk the less you eat.  Step Three, don't put all of the food out at once, keep it coming at a consistent, but slower, speed.  Knowing another round is on its way allows people to keep tasting, but not devouring.  Step Four, use small plates.  Smaller plates tricks the mind into thinking it is getting more than it is.  Step Five, replace butter and unhealthy oils with healthier choices.  Step Six, remember - it is still a party and it is okay to eat and not feel guilty.  So.... celebrate, congratulate, and most of all - have fun!   


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Have you ever walked into a store and just felt out of place?  I hate it when it happens.  I have learned to recognize this feeling, take a step back, and remind myself that it is all a state of mind.  I had to practice this mantra when I decided to just pop into Fleet Feet last Saturday.  Note to self:  There is no popping into Fleet Feet.

Fleet Feet for those of you who are not familiar is a store, nay -  a community if you will - of runners and for runners.  People are constantly meeting there for runs and trainings.  They sell everything you need for running too.  So, when I decided that my skippies from Target weren't cutting it on my runs anymore I decided to hit Fleet Feet for some new sneakers.  Now, you don't just pop into Fleet Feet as I learned because there is a whole method to the madness that is buying running sneakers.  Who knew, right!  I certainly didn't.

Imagine with me walking into a runner's haven, on a Saturday, as tons of real runners arrive back from their million mile run.  Everyone is exhausted, sweating, and looking genuinely happy that they just beat the crap out of the snowy pavement.  Now, I am in jeans and my long Sunday wool coat - I am feeling and looking out of place.  Note #2 to self:  Do not wear jeans when going to Fleet Feet - dress as though you are planning on running a freaking marathon.  I go up to the one Fleet Feet employee who is NOT with a customer and tell him I need to be fitted for a new pair of sneakers.  The man gets a look of panic on his face and turns to the only girl standing remotely near to me and with the sound of sheer terror states, "Um, I think she really needs my help!" and goes running off with her in toe.  This long and lanky man is now, and will forever be, known as the Douchebag of Fleet Feet.

So, off ran the Douchebag of Fleet Feet and I am left looking bewildered and lost.  And.... here comes a lady.... to rescue me....I hope.  Yes, thank god.  I learn that I will not only be stripping my feet bare, but will need to get on the treadmill and run.....and be taped from behind while doing so.  Maybe the skippies were fine to run in after all?  Screw it - I can do it, but first, I need a little change in wardrobe.  The nice lady gets me a pair of  Ladies XL running pants and points me to the fitting room.  Ladies XL?  Really?  Is she freaking nuts?  I believe she forgot the other "X"....  And, the pants go on.  I exit the fitting room to a congratulatory, "Wow!  They fit, alright!" Time for the treadmill and the taping of the behind.  Note #3 to self:  It is only a state of mind - Get it done.

There was a time in my life I would have walked right out of Fleet Feet, or another store, for being treated like I did not belong there.  Not everyone knows my story.  They do not know where I have been or where I am going.  It is my right to share my story with who I want to share it with.  I will not use my story to garner sympathy for my "condition" or even to garner pride.  There are few whose pride in me really matters, but no one person's pride in me is greater than the pride I must have for myself. 

So, when you get that yucky feeling or another person tries to make you feel as though you don't belong - Remember - It is only a state of mind and only you have control over you. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Perspiration is Inspiration

My Confession:  I am OBSESSED with Britney Spears' music.  How in the hell did this happen to me?  Unlike my obsession to the mess that is Britney Spears, the road to my addiction is actually not so humilating.  I was so big when I first began losing weight that it was very uncomfortable for me to move.  So, I began by making two promises -
1.  Cut Calories
2.  No Laziator at Work ( aka - elevator)

Taking the stairs was not easy at Edison, especially from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor.  I had to take these mo-fo stairs several times a day.  I was not going to give in and get on that damn laziator!...even thought I really wanted to.   The first few weeks I thought I was going to die.  I think I was purple the first day - but, then something happened - it became more and more easy to go up those stairs.  Go figure - right! 

Climbing those stairs gave me the confidence I needed to walk back into the gym.  I began walking at the RAC on the treadmills.  I recruited two friends - Deyon and Jamie to go to the gym with me.  As I walked slowly, very slowly on the treadmill, Deyon was running and perspiring next to me.  I was so stinking jealous, but her perspiration gave me the inspiration to pick it up.  I HATE working out in front of others.  I HATE it, but I do it.  I was self conscience about how I looked when I worked out, so I was embarrassed to go to classes, but nothing ventured - nothing gained.... or in this case - nothing lost.  Deyon went with me as I experienced some classes.  I settled on the cardio pilates class that met twice per week.  I am so glad I joined this class because it again pushed me out of my comfort zone. 

So, when did this obsession with Britney Spears start and what does it have to do with working out?  Well, it is sort of like this - I took the stairs, began walking, particpated in fitness classes, and then.....I heard this uppity song about a "Womanizer" and it energized me to no end.  Now, I was not about to buy a Britney Spears CD so I ventured on to Itunes and downloaded the song.  It was the first song I ever purchased form Itunes.  I loaded the song onto my Ipod and went off to the gym and worked out as usual........until that damn song "Womanizer" hit my ears.  It was all over for me at that moment.  I felt a surge of insanity come over me and found my finger going towards the UP button.  I couldn't believe what was happening - I was going to run.  AND, I did it!.....for all of 30 seconds that is. 

30 seconds was a start and I could only get better, right?  It became my mission to be able to run through the entire song of "Womanizer. "  Britney and I spent a lot of time together, but eventually I did make it through that damn song.  After that I added Pink and ran through two songs - and then I made it through three songs, and eventaully I ran my first straight mile. 

So, it all starts with a little perspiration and inspiration...... and maybe some Britney Spears.  Physical exercise is not easy, but we all must start somewhere.  Taking the first step is always the hardest, but it does not need to be a leap or a big step - it can be a baby step or even a crawl - as long as you are moving your body more than you were before.  So, move it and when you get a little self conscience just remember that you do not have to live with the humiliation of being obsessed with Briney Spears. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recipe for Success...the Italian Way

I LOVE deep dish pizza.  I HATE the calories.  Here is a little something to help with that Uno's craving.  This pizza  is a favorite in our house and the whole thing can be made with less calories than you find in just 1 piece of Uno's pizza.  Enjoy!!!!!!

Remember -  I am ITALIAN - we don't measure - we approximate.

Roll out dough - I use about half of a Wegman's dough.
*(I will spray the bottom of my dish so the dough doesn't stick)
Place in 9-10 inch pie plate with sides hanging over the edge.
Throw some flower down in  the bottom of the dough.
Sprinkle part skim pizza cheese on the bottom of the dough - not too much (cuts the calories...)
Crumble up pre-sliced mushrooms and toss them on the cheese (the whole damn pack)
El Fresco Garlic Chicken (2-4 pieces) - partially cook it, chop it, cook it again and then add to the mushrooms.
Sprinkle with a little more flour.
Add chunky tomatoes or some crushed tomatoes, BUT drain FIRST - too much liquid makes for a soggy pizza (but even soggy it is damn good!) - not too much - Just coat the top.
Sprinkle tomatoes with crushed red pepper. garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, dried basil, and lots of dried oregano (or not so much)
Sprinkle with some more cheese and top that with a few dashes of shaky cheese (again, not a ton of cheese - there should be cheese left in the bag at the end of this process)
Roll the edged of the dough inward and spray with spray butter - (yes...the liquid butter , it is a favorite among some anorexics so you can't go wrong)

Cook until done in a pre-heated oven:       425 for dark and non-stick     /     375 for clear pans

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weight loss is a war of epic proportions.  I love it and want to celebrate it.  I hate it and want to curse it.  There are times I just do not want to compromise or change.  Having to make a lifestyle change in the eating department does not leave much room for calorie negotiations.  Needing to fix my liver, and fix it fast, I did not waiver on my food choices.  I had to lose the weight and the fat.  This meant no eating out or off of my prescribed diet.  This was not an easy task.  I first started my journey in the fall of 2008 - right before the holidays.  Thanksgiving was a frozen turkey dinner, Christmas was a frozen pasta dinner, New Year's was yet another frozen dinner.  I used to joke that a Jenny Craig cheesecake a day kept the cheating at bay.  It was so hard to watch people eat such good food.  I was jealous!!!!!

At one of our many family get-togethers I had enough.  I lost it. I could not take the frozen dinners anymore.  I was facing the knowledge that I would not be biting into the succulent, juicy, cooked just right on the grill beef tenderloin.  I would not be savoring the creamy buttery taste of the bree cheese that surrounded the cran-orange chutney.  There would be no hunks of fresh bread warmed with melted butter.  Salad with homemade blue cheese dressing was no longer. Gone was the succulent chocolate cake with the fudge frosting that just melts in your mouth as the sugar slowly dissolves.  Gone.  Gone.  Gone.  As everyone sat around the table with their full plates and hearty laughter I excused myself to go and cook my calorie and fat restricted frozen meal.  With each spin of the microwave plate I began to weep.  As I removed my meal from the microwave and peeled back the plastic film I wept more and more heavily.  Enter into the kitchen Carl, my brother.  I can't imagine what I looked like, but I knew how I felt - lost and miserable. 

I look back on this day and giggle now, but I am also grateful.  I was so lost then.  Carl actually did me a huge favor that day.  He acknowledged my relationship with food as an addiction.  It was one of the first times the word addiction had been spoken aloud in relation to me and food.  It was liberating.  He said that unlike other addictions I could not escape mine - I have to eat.  I cannot walk away from food.  Addiction to food is a hard addiction to conquer.

Thankfully I am in a place in my life where frozen meals are not the foundation of my healthy eating.  The meals, however, did serve a purpose beyond that of calorie/fat restriction.  They provided me with the time I needed to learn how to cook in healthy ways, discover how my body reacts to & breaks down different foods, and it taught me appropriate serving sizes.  Obesity is my war and this battle is won.       


Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Challenge: Change Your Approach

I have worked for the RCSD since 1999.  Most of my years with the district were spent at Edison Tech.  Like me, Edison has gone through a succession of changes.  The one thing that has remained a constant with the changes at Edison is that each change has led to more dysfunction than the last.  The students have changed, the number of schools within the building has changed, and the faculty has changed. 

There are times when people in our professional lives have a great impact on our personal lives.  This happened to me when a young female teacher came to work at Edison.  She unleashed her insecurities onto me and she did it in a brutal and relenting fashion.  She was instrumental in starting a pregnancy pool when I was preggers with Noah.  "Is She or Isn't She?  She's too BIG to know for sure!"  She wrote a book about me, "Abby SaurusRex" and included some wonderful graphics.  Pure hatred from someone I barely even had a working relationship with let alone a relationship where I would invite her criticism. 

I wish I could say that this mockery was an isolated incident, but it has not been.  I have been called names - even a bitch, been made fun of, pictures have been drawn of me, I was told once to not drink anything on a flight because I would not fit in the bathroom of the plane, my expertise has been dismissed, my ideas passed over, and I have flat out lost job opportunities.  Weight discrimination is one of the last socially accepted forms of discrimination.

On a systemic level - advocacy and education are needed to help bring about a change in the way we behave towards obese people as a whole.  Bringing about change on a personal level can be more difficult.  Losing weight has changed the way people treat me, but not others who remain obese.  And yes, the changes people made towards me have been significant.  Overall, I am treated with respect and without reproach in both my professional and personal life.

My initial BIG weight loss also had an interesting response from people that I never expected.  The smaller and smaller I got, the front runners who had treated me so poorly began complaining about their own weight.  Their fears were evident.  What would happen to those egos when my size/weight was less than theirs?  Would they then become the joke? 

I have shared many personal hurts that weight has invited into my life in my last two blog posts.  If there is anything that I want people to learn from my stories it is that while we learn bad habits (ect), like treating obese people poorly, we do not need to exercise these lessons.  We cannot change who we are.  I am an emotional eater.  That will never change, but my approach to my emotional eating can change.  We all have approaches toward people and things in life which can and should change.  So, have a non-scale victory (NSV) this week and challenge yourself to begin changing your approach to one person or thing.  I dare you to live better.     

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bad habits, Hang Ups, and Discriminations

I used to be terrified of having a daughter.  I did not want to have more children for fear that I would have a daughter and ruin her.  Now that I am the mother of a daughter I  pray everyday I don't ruin her with my bad habits, hang ups, and own discriminations. We are all guilty of trying to reassure people that they will break the negative cycles created by their parents, but so often it never happens.  This is a difficult post for me to write.  It means I am ready to face my own demons, but are others ready to see what I have to say?  Maybe it doesn't matter whether or not they are ready, it is simply just time that they do. 

When I was younger I was not only heavy, but also a competative swimmer.  I loved swimming.  It was something of my own - something I was truly great at.  Now, I know that most swimmers are thin.  Swimmers work out 6 times a week and compete consistently.   I did the same for 14 years of my life.  I broke record after record but for the life of me I could not win the weight battle.  I just couldn't.  Every year I just got bigger and bigger.  Now, I may make it sound like I was huge, and I wasn't, but in the swimming world - I was.  This prompted my parents to cut my calories.  My mom packed my lunch, which was limited.  We ate at 1030 in the morning.  I was deprived of a snack before swimming and we practiced from 300 until 600pm. 

What was a girl to do?  Well, when I got older I walked to the store around the corner everyday for a snack.....So NOT allowed!!!  Every evening my dad knew I walked to the store and I got scolded for it.  My parents were so focused on my breaking the rule of walking to the store that they never dealt with the true issue - This girl was hungry and needed a snack.  They missed teaching me about healthy choices to instead chastise me about going to the store and eating junk. 

Well, I continued to get bigger.  So, my parents decided to find out what was going on once and for all.  I remember they made me go through some physical fitness test where they made me run on a treadmill.  I couldn't do it.  I was a swimmer.  I never ran - I did not have time to run as I was always in the pool.  These people told my parents, who stupidly belived them, that because I could not run long distances I was lethargic, lazy, and out of shape.  Yes, the NYS YMCA Champion swimmer was out of shape. It was now official.  I was an out of shape lazy girl who just needed to work out more and eat less.  Oh boy....

Where the hell were they going to cut calories from and when was I supposed to work out more?  This is when all the real dieting started.  The more my parents obsessed over my weight and supposed lethargy the more I morphed into what they expected.  It has been like that ever since.  The more my weight becomes an issue, the bigger I get.  My weight has never not been a topic of conversation for my family.  Everyone thinks that they have a say and can hold judgement over my weight. 

So many bad habits were created at this time.  I was so hungry and deprived that I began eating with my arm hugged around my plate so no one could take food from me.  I would also stab anyone with a fork if they came near my food.  I began lying about my food intake and eating in private so no one would see me.  I would eat to console myself.

This is the time when I also learned to hate my body and myself.  I learned that no one would ever love me as long as I was fat.  I learned that in order to be in shape one had to know how to run very long distances at very fast speeds.  I learned that fat was ugly.  I learned that fat people don't deserve to be respected.  I learned that fat people are to be judged.  I learned fat people are always lazy. I learned that I was a joke. 

So, I still have my own Bad Habits, Hang Ups, and Discriminations to deal with, but as far as my daughter is concerned, the cycle ends with me.  This is my promise as these are not the habits I want my daughter to develop or the things that I want her to learn.  I want her to respect her whole-self and I will protect her from anyone, including mylsef, from teaching her differently.  She is beautiful and will always be beautiful.  Lillian Elizabeth is the best parts of me.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011


So, anyone who has ever had to significantly reduce calories will love this story.  To maintain my previous weight I had to be eating well over 3,000 calories a day.  I was probably close to 4,000.  I reduced my caloric intake to 1500 calories a day with no more than 30 grams of fat total.  To those of you who do not know what 1500 calories looks like - picture a slice of pepperoni pizza and a few wings washed down with a cold beer.  You get the picture.  Needless to say my husband was not on board with changing his eating habits, so dinner was on as usual for him.  By usual I mean a couple of juicy ribeye steaks on the grill.  Two steaks that I got to cook.  Bastard! So, as I am cooking the steaks I leave my dinner waiting on the counter.  My dinner you ask- a 260 calorie mini pizza and a salad.  Well, it was my dinner.  If I had a meat cleaver close I would have used it to chop my husband's hand off.  While I was grilling - for him- that man ate my damn pizza - called it his appetizer.  I flew into a fury. I was never so angry in my life.  How dare this man who gets the privilege of eating TWO steaks eat my tiny dinner as his appetizer.  The mere thought made me rage more.  Brent just looked at me like a deer in headlights.  He had no idea what he had done wrong.  I would have made Hitler cringe.  Why tell this story?  For me, it was the first time I ever got angry over not being able to eat whatever and whenever.  It is not the only time I will be caught grieving over food.  I needed that grieving process to shed the old ways and to adapt to the new.  So, get angry.  Cry, throw a fit, or two, or a hundred if you are like me.  Just get through the process so you can move on. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Journey Begins

Okay - so let me begin by telling you where my journey pretty much started - I have for years been on the heavy side - I mean the really, really heavy side.  I have successfully lost and gained hundreds of pounds.  Gained more than lost .  I have tried...almost....everything on the market.  So, when I got the news that my liver was gonna kill me - or more like I was killing my liver which was going to kill me - I thought about my son.  I took a week (or two) to decide my options.  1.  Gastric bypass- I would out eat it before I lost ten pounds.  2.  Lap Band - same thing - won't teach me a different lifestyle.  3.  Pills - with a side of fries - tempting, but I couldn't remember birth control, how would I remember this?  4.  Diet and Exercise - not my two favorite words.  But, I chose the diet and exercise route.  What did I have to lose....weight?