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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Post Inspired by Looking at a Spiders Web: Escaping the "Eating Disorder Web."

When I was in the third grade my teacher Mrs. Chase read aloud to us each day to inspire us to want to be readers. My favorite book was Charlotte's web. I was enthralled by Wilbur's predicament and I when my mother tucked me into bed each night I would tell her what we heard from the story. I was very worried about whether Wilbur would survive or not. She would tell me, "Don't worry honey, Wilbur will be okay." In fact, Wilbur does survive but he loses his friend Charlotte the spider who would descend from her web to talk to and reassure him.

This morning I was sitting on my front porch and noticed a spider web hanging from the eave of the 1880's farmhouse I live in. It was barely noticeable and is really a thing of beauty when the dew sparkles off it in the morning light. While admiring this work of natural engineering I thought about the complexity of the web of eating disorders. They become such an integral part of our lives that we can live trapped in them for years as I did like the prey of the spider who flies into and becomes ensnared in the web and waits it fate as the next meal for the spider.

If we don't learn how to extract ourselves from this deadly web, eating disorders can kill us as well. I learned as early as five years old to begin to hate my body and to abuse it through a deadly cycle of over and then under eating. This made me reflect on the fact that I've been working really hard for the past seven years to extract myself from this "eating disorder web" a phrase I've coined to describe this
deadly prison and this is okay. Every step of the journey is essential and I am okay with my progress.

The past nine months have been very stressful due to financial and career reasons and I haven't regained any weight and that is okay with me. I'd like to lose between 20-40lb more pounds. This Friday I see my bariatric team and I want to discuss whether this goal is reasonable. Right now I am 19 lbs above what they said could be my highest goal weight and that the body will stop losing when it is ready. I have to also remember that my skeleton is denser after 20+ years of obesity, which I no longer am and I have quite a lot of muscle. So maybe, I am where I need to be, and  maybe I just need to be happy with the great progress I've made. The most important thing is that I escaped the "eating disorder web" I am no longer diabetic and I am happy with my body. Maybe this is more then enough.

When I see that spider on my porch I'm going to thank it for the lesson.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Proud of Myself Today

Winston Churchill said, "When you are going through hell, keep on going." For the most part, though there have been many positive moments, the last five years have been hell for me. It was during this time that to use the expression,, " All  my chickens came home to roost." Funny, because I am thinking of keeping chickens. Maybe that's why I thought of this expression.

Growing up I learned a lot of bad behaviors when it came to eating. I learned to eat all highly processed foods and didn't know anything about good food, or what my parents would have called "hippee food." I also was under a tremendous amount of stress watching my mother suffer from the consequences of diabetes, poor choices in self care, which I learned to replicate and am struggling to overcome. It is two steps forward and six steps backward and then I fight and claw my way back up the hill.

In addition to not learning about food, I learned very little about money management because in my family of origin it was assumed I'd get married and my husband would handle all that. As a result, I didn't learn to be frugal, save money or to live within  my means, and my relationship with food was really no different. I wasted food, whenever you throw away food because it went bad do to lack of planning you are throwing away money. I very rarely planned my meals now I do.

I'm learning to live within my means both in terms of budgets and caloric needs. I am also learning to enjoy red wine responsibly. I like white, but if I am going to expend the calories, I want the antioxidants. For awhile after my gastric bypass, it was a real struggle to re-incorporate it into  my diet. On some level, I wish I had taken my teams advice to not have any alcohol for a year after surgery. But, because I'm recovering from an eating disorder I didn't want to say there were foods or substances I couldn't have because that black and white, dualist thinking around food caused me a  lot of personal pain over the years. I had to learn how alcohol effected me differently and how to have it at a reasonable level without the after effects and feeling like crap the next day. I am happy to say that this has been my strongest week in the last nine months where I've balanced this really well. This week has been a giant step forward and I am feeling good about it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Good Days then Bad Days: Every Step Counts

So, I thought it was time to report that I am having more good days then bad days and the scale is finally moving again. I am eating mostly a high protein with some carbs of course as they and fat are essential for healthy brain function. It is hard working  a second job but that is what I need to do a few days a week while building back my savings as we had a lot of car repairs this spring. I'm getting my 30 minutes of exercise in each day and I've cut back my red wine consumption to healthier levels. Every little action helps and build on success.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Learning from our Dreams

I had terrible nightmares all last night involving rotten teeth, lions invading my home of origin wreaking havoc, death and destruction in the home I grew up. Killing my pets and family members. I realized these lions were symbols of the misogyny I experience growing up that led to my eating disorder and to the self destructive behaviors I've struggled with in my life. It was a clear signal to me that I am stressed and that I need to keep focused on self care and meeting my approach goals so I make progress day by day by day.

When I wrote my dissertation, I used dreams as interludes between chapters and I always learned a lot from them. Last nights dream was a clear signal to "proceed with caution."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sexuality After Gastric Bypass

I watched a really interesting film on NetFlix on my Roku player last night called Sexual Healing, about four different couples working with a sex therapist to work on the issues in their marriages. One of the couples, the wife had gastric bypass and lost 100 lbs and found herself with a diminished libido to her and her husbands surprise. She had been sexually abused as a child and knew that part of the reason she got fat in the first place was to protect herself from men. This I can understand because in part this was my experience but for different reasons. I was not sexually abused, thankfully, but my maternal grandmother hated me and passed along bad attitudes about men along with her negative body image and eating disordered behavior to me.

This caused me a lot of trouble in the earlier years of my life including choosing bad partners when I was in my 20's. Relationships which I was able to end, but not without my own share of pain, but thankfully no children. I know I too got fat to protect me from men, but it also played a role in my choosing men that weren't good for me and met the expectations my grandmother taught me about. Thankfully in the end, I ended up marrying a wonderful man.

Still, I experienced this diminished libido until I figured out what was going on. Now, I am happy to say, that isn't a problem anymore. Part of recovering from obesity is to learn to love and appreciate ones body for all its joys regardless of how long you were overweight and protecting yourself from the world with the layers of fat that are no longer present.

Enough said for now I think. If anyone wants me to write more about this, just let me know and I will.

Make it a great day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Favorite Baked Teriyaki Chicken Dish Ever

Hello Everyone, I love, love, love this marinade. It is tasty, full of flavor and cooked with high quality chicken, raised free range with no antibiotics, it doesn't get better. Enjoy, and if anyone makes it, let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day and Recovering From Obesity is a Journey of the Mind Above all Else

 First things first, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!

I have been thinking a lot over the past few days how much a journey of the mind my recovery from obesity has been.

Despite the fact, I've had two weight loss surgeries, the first a dismal failure for many reasons. I wasn't nearly emotionally ready for it and I wasn't aware of my own personal issues that were getting in the way of my recovery. Also, that I had a surgeon that pushed all my buttons and I reacted badly to that including running away from him, canceling appointments and not taking good care of myself. This resulted in a low weight loss along with neurological issues and anemia. I had trouble keeping food down for three years, which resulted in these issues. I was so upset by him, I couldn't return to his practice. The dynamic between us created all the same behaviors that existed in my family that led me to turn to food in the first place. Of course, I had to work my way through this with a therapist to really understand it. He would chastise and even yell at me telling me I wasn't doing what I was supposed to do. Not helpful at all...

One thing, I will say is that my first surgeon was obese himself. Was this relevant? I'm not sure, but at the least, I thought it would have bought me some compassion from him, but it didn't. I don't recommend going to an obese surgeon for weight loss surgery.... I guess, I just don't have to justify this. It is what it is....

But, back to the point. Weight loss surgery is just a tool to help facilitate weight loss. There are all kinds, so do your research and decide which is best for you.

Gastric Bypass is the "gold standard" for weight loss and "curing" Type II Diabetes, the best outcome of my surgery. My mother was a Type I Diabetic, died when she was 40 and I was 15 and she had two legs amputated before her death, along with five heart attacks, the first on my 10th birthday. It was hell really for me. All this contributed to my eating disorder that led to my obesity.

On this Mother's Day, I am thinking of her and how sad she would be at my suffering, but yet, how glad she will be that I have transcended my issues. I am still making progress. I would like to lose 30-40 more lbs and I know I will get there.

I continue to work on my goals one by one, day by day and I think about the journey of the mind and that this is the most important part. Making small changes day by day in what I think, how I eat, how I cook and how I move, and over the next year, I will achieve my goals.

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Massachusetts Department of Health Low Cost Recpies

This is a wonderful resource to help stretch your food budget. It is very interactive and you can select recipes by ingredients. Enjoy and let me know if you try any!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Healthy and Low Cost Ways to Cook at Home

Yesterdays post on low cost ways to cook from scratch from home got a lot of views so I thought I would look for another resources. This one has some good facts in it. I will create more posts around this. Make it a great day!

From Dedham Medical Associates, from Atrius Health and it was Contributed by Jason Machowsky, MS, RD ACSM-cPT

Cooking at Home: Tips for Healthy Meals
Americans are spending more money eating away from home than ever before. In fact, Americans now spend just about half of their food dollars at restaurants, up from only 25% in 1955, according to the National Restaurant Association. But research has shown that eating out frequently, particularly fast food, is associated with a number of health issues, including obesity, insulin resistance, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. As a result, many people have become more health conscious with their food selections and are even considering a return to home cooking.
Many people find the transition from eating out to cooking at home challenging for one big reason—time constraints. If you are working two jobs or have an on-the-run lifestyle, you may think that you will not have the time or energy to cook a meal at the end of the day or to prepare food for the week. However, by learning a few cooking tips and tricks, you can turn a multihour cooking ordeal into a quick meal that will enhance both your health and wallet.
Certain tasks can significantly lengthen or shorten the time you are in the kitchen. This handout will provide a number of methods, substitutions, and low-cost options that you can use to make quick, tasty, and healthy meals at home.
Choosing the right recipes
Choose recipes that have quick cooking times or ones that allow you to do something else while the food cooks. Certain styles of cooking, such as stir-fry (healthy version included in this handout) and grilling, cook food quickly, so you can sit and enjoy a meal within 5-10 minutes. However, other cooking options, such as braising and roasting, allow you to do other tasks while the food cooks, such as preparing other food or cleaning up!
Using the oven
Baking is a great way to cook meat without added fat. You can even “bread” foods in healthy mixtures, such as crushed spices and almonds, and then bake for 30-45 minutes for a juicy, flavorful main dish.
Do not forget the vegetables. Roasting vegetables is quick and easy. Just slice your favorite vegetables, such as peppers, onions, eggplant, sweet potatoes, or beets, toss with a little olive oil and spices, and place in a 400o-450o F oven for 15-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices. Thinner slices cook faster. Try roasting some thinly sliced sweet potatoes and beets with fresh rosemary or garlic for 15-20 minutes as a healthy potato chip alternative.
Using the stove top
Stir-frying and sautéing are great cooking methods for preparing healthy foods quickly, provided you make a few small adjustments. Cutting your meat and vegetables into smaller pieces will result in decreased cooking time. Try using cooking spray and just a little flavorful oil, such as olive, peanut, or sesame oil, to enhance the taste without adding too many extra calories or much fat. Rely on spices, such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, or rosemary, to pack a zesty kick without any extra calories. A simple meat and vegetable stir-fry with a few teaspoons of sesame oil, garlic, and ginger can go from cutting board to table in less than 30 minutes.
You can perform one of the healthiest cooking methods on the stove top—steaming. Stackable bamboo steamers are available for about $20-$35, which allow you to cook multiple foods at once. You can steam seasoned fish and vegetables at the same time. You can even roll the fish filets in some fresh spices, such as ginger or lemongrass, to infuse the flavor and aroma as it cooks. With this cooking method, you can have many fish and vegetable recipes ready within 10- 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the food.
You can use the stove top to cook large batches of food, such as a stir-fry, stew, or chili, which you can then portion into containers for future meals. Some of these large batches may need to simmer for a while to cook, but you usually can do something else during that time and just stir the contents every 5-10 minutes. If you are sitting at home reading this article, you probably could have made a large batch of food at the same time.
Using the microwave
In addition to reheating leftovers in a snap, microwaves also can cook certain foods very quickly, particularly potatoes. You can have a raw sweet potato ready to serve in about 7 minutes. Poke many holes in the sweet potato with a fork, and then cook it on high for 6-7 minutes, turning the potato onto its other side halfway through the cooking. Once it is done, cut it open and allow it to cool for 1-2 minutes. Top with some cinnamon and a few spoonfuls of low-fat yogurt for a healthy side dish.
You also can cook many frozen foods in the microwave oven, including vegetables. Just make sure that the ingredients listed on the packaged are healthy. If you do not know how to pronounce half the ingredients in a packaged food or do not know where those ingredients come from, you probably should not make it!
Using the grill
Grilling can cook meat and vegetables quickly, while allowing excess fat to drip away from the food. Adding just a dash of olive oil will prevent vegetables from sticking to the grill, and you can toss them with different spices, such as garlic, rosemary, or thyme, to bring out some unique, satisfying flavors.
If you do not want to use an outdoor grill, indoor grill pans and specialty grills, such as the George Foreman Grill, are available for $20-$25. Because of the heating elements on both sides of the grill, your food will cook quite quickly, usually within 10 minutes. If you invest in a slightly larger grill surface, you can cook your vegetables and meat at the same time, so dinner is ready faster. Another option it to make a large batch of grilled food and save some for the next day’s meal!
No-cook and reheat options
If you are really pressed for time, do not forget about making a quick salad or sandwich. A dash of mustard or hummus, a few slices of turkey breast, and some fresh sliced vegetables can result in a quick and satisfying meal. Leftovers also can go a long way when you are in a pinch.
Reheating on a stove top or in a microwave takes much less time than cooking from scratch. You can freeze many foods for weeks or months, so you can enjoy leftovers long into the future. This is yet another reason to cook in bulk when you can!
Are you excited and ready to cook? Try looking at ( and Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog ( for quick and healthy recipe ideas.
References and recommended readings
CBS News, Business. Americans eating out less: restaurant traffic has fallen for two straight years, according to market research firm. Available at: Accessed October 14, 2010.
Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating: healthy cooking techniques. Available at: Accessed October 14, 2010.
National Restaurant Association. 2010 restaurant industry pocket factbook. Available at: Accessed October 13, 2010.
Pereira MA, Kartashov AI, Ebberling CB, et al. Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis. Lancet [serial online]. 2005;365:36-42. Available at: food_Habits,_Weight_Gain,_and_Insulin_Resistance.pdf. Accessed October 13,2010.
Contributed by Jason Machowsky, MS, RD ACSM-cPT Review Date 11/10

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Low Cost Ways to Cook at Home From Scratch

 This is a wonderful web site with many good ideas for those trying to cook at home from scratch and save money while eating well.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Binge Drinking and High Blood Pressure

Some people after gastric bypass begin to binge drink because they no longer can binge eat. This is a very informative article about why this is so very dangerous.