Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash

Squash is my favorite fall food. 

So versatile. You can compliment it with sweet or salty fixins.

Roasted acorn squash is usually made with tons of butter and brown sugar. But since we're trying to be all healthy and what not...

The What:
One Acorn Squash
Tablespoon of vegetable oil
Teaspoon vanilla extract
Teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of each: cloves, allspice, cinnamon
Tablespoon of honey

The How:
Pre-Heat oven to 400c
Fill baking dish with 1/4 inch water (so skin won't burn). 
Simmer all ingredients on low until sugar is melted and mix is warm (4-5 minutes)
Cut acorn squash in half, scoop seeds, and remove strings 

Brush squash with mixture. Let about half an inch pool in the center. 

Place squash skin side down in baking dish in water. 

Bake for an hour at 400. 


50 down, Millions to Go

I'm staring at my scale.
 I get off.
 I get back on.
 I wiggle my butt, my toes...
I squat. I step on my tip toes. Lean back on my heels...
 No matter how I shift my weight around, I see it: I've lost 50 pounds.

It's like I don't want to believe it because it seems unreal.
50 pounds. That is a lot of poundage. 
Was that ME? Did I do that?
I think it's so hard for me to believe because I have had so many slips, epic fails, and back steps.
I mean shit, It's been two years since I started this journey and I've ONLY lost 50 pounds.

I look at current pictures of me and I am still just so disgusted by how I look.
It's almost like losing 50 pounds is making me more depressed than happy.
I've lost FIFTY pounds and I still need to lose OVER A HUNDRED MORE.

I am still an obese blob.

I am trying so hard to get myself out of this funk, but I can't help but to beat myself up. If a normal person lost 50 pounds they would blow away. But nooooo. Not me. I am so fat that I still have to lose more than what Snooki weighs.

Before you go blowing me up with compliments and advice not to have a pity party (that was awfully presumptuous, wasn't it? :), hear me out. This is MY blog and I can say what I want to. If I can't be honest with YOU, who can I?

I know that losing 50 pounds is no easy feat and I am very proud of myself.
But I look back at the last two years and I get so angry at how many times I have given into the cravings.
I have finally identified the root of my problems: food addiction. Why can't I just kick the habit? Cold turkey? That's how people stop smoking. Why can't I do that for food?

Speaking of bad habits, did you watch Breaking Bad? I did. It was awesome. You know how when Jesse was "using," his house was always disgusting? But when he was clean, so was his crib? That's how it is for me, too. When I am "using" food, my house is messy. My car is messy, I am a HOT. MESS. But when I am on top of my game, eating clean, and exercising regularly, everything else is aligned. Not to mention I am a lot less crotchety with my co-workers and friends. 

So, now that I have lost 50, how will I move forward to keep losing, instead of playing the world's tiniest violin? 

Step one: Identify the positive habits I've picked up. 

A) Breakfast. Every day. Healthy, wholesome, setting myself up for a great day. I honestly used to hate eating breakfast. Remember that? Now it literally is the reason I roll out of bed sometimes. 

B) Regular exercise. I feel like shit when I'm not exercising on the reg. I have more energy and it makes my heart happy. 

C) Appreciate simplicity. Eating heathy isn't all about fancy paleo recipes, or expensive organic produce. I've learned to REALLY enjoy simple ingredients. I was shocked to find that just a can of tuna fish and an avocado is one of my favorite meals! 

D) Identify the emotions attached to bad habits. Document the effects (red flags) and form new habits to tag along with the causes. I.e. Drink tea when stressed, not pizza. 

Step Two: Look bad habits straight in the face and kick 'em to the curb. 

A) Avoid fast food, fried food, anything that probably isn't good for you.  Keep track. 

B) Control the cravings. Pizza and tex-mex: my two favorite food groups. I will not give them up, but I will learn to eat them responsibly. If I go ahead and plan them in with my regular eating, I have found that I binge less frequently. I don't feel as deprived. 

So there you have it. It's taking a long time, but I can see the final destination. It's getting close. I've still got a lot more stops along the way, and I know there will be delays. But once I finally land at my goal, I know it will be nothing but happy days ahead. No more pity parties. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Combo Nation"

We live in a "Combo Nation." It's a society where everything needs a better half, or it is cast aside as a lonely old hag (don't worry: this post isn't about my sad single life ;).
Burger + fries, coffee + creamer, sandwich + chips, soup + salad, steak + potatoes...
Cookies + Brownies

Wait. what? Who out there says I need a brownie to go with my cookie!? So much so that they need to be COMBINED!?
When I saw this in the store I literally gagged. Then I started thinking about all of the products out there that have "combined" junk food into one item. Has anybody thought for one second that might be... not good? We are so fat that we can't just be satisfied with plain chips, we have to have chips that taste like fried chicken? Or my personal favorite: hot dog chips.
Candy corn m & ms? Who feels the need for candy corn and m & ms so much that they have to be combined into one product?

Don't get me wrong here, I LOVE to jazz up my coffee with some delish creamer, but I just don't think I could put a girl scout cookie in it. Out of principle. Now, I did give into pumpkin spice latte creamer the other day, so it's not that much different is it? Oh wait. Yes it is, because Pumpkin Spice Latte is a COFFEE. Not a COOKIE.
Please don't think I'm discounting the value or taste of these products. I meant what I said- I've had those hot dog chips before. They were good!
I simply think it is disgusting that we crave junk food so much that we have to put it all in one place so we can shovel it in all at once.
Maybe Roald Dahl was a brilliant psychic. He obviously saw into the future.
Remember the Willy Wonka gum that gave you a full meal, dessert and all?
It wasn't all the way finished, so there was a slight glitch...

But I mean, I'm just sayin'...

I, for one, know that I find it hard to JUST order a sandwich. I feel that I HAVE to have chips to go with it. A Sub Club WITHOUT Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips? Who does that?
A burger WITHOUT fries? That's ghastly! Call my doctor if I order a steak without a potato.
There is nothing wrong with ordering sides with your meal... I just mean that we live in a culture where we always want more. We just can't seem to be satisfied with enough.
My challenge for you this week is to skip the sides. Let your burger fly solo this week. See how it goes. You might still feel hungry at first, but I guarantee you that after a while you won't miss the better halves.
You don't have to give up french fries and chips and candy corn chocolate, but if you give up the mentality that something always has to complement what you are eating, you might be in a better place.
I'm not a certified nutritionist or a clinical psychologist, but my gut (literally) tells me that I truly don't need hot dog stuffed crust pizza with a side of chicken breast onion rings.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gay, Fat, and in the Closet

I stumbled across this article on BuzzFeed and I got so excited I almost peed my pants!

Before you click on that link let me tell you what it's about. 
It's all about homosexual men and the pressure they feel to maintain the perfect body image. The author discusses coming out of the closet as a gay man, and then was shocked to learn that he is more discriminated against because of his weight than of his sexuality!
 I have a lot of gay guy friends and I have asked several of them to PLEASE be a guest blogger for me on this subject. Unfortunately none of them feel comfortable enough to delve into this subject in the public eye.
I know too many of them who are absolutely handsome and sexy but they have NO confidence. 
It makes me so mad!
I am obviously not a gay man, but this subject really hits home to me because it affects so many of my close friends. I have one friend who literally starves himself before he goes on vacation because he is so scared of what the other gay guys are going to think of him! And he is as thin as a rail! 
Because I struggle with my own self-image so much, I totally relate to the way this community feels. The pressure to look good is across the board, but I see it as an even larger issue among homosexual males. 
This article discusses all of these issues, and is truly a great read. I realize that it might not affect you, but if there is even ONE of my readers who feels the sting of being an overweight gay man, I hope it helps him know that he is not alone.

Nothing has helped me more than the realization that I am not the only person in the world who feels the way I do about my weight. I was in my own sort of "closet" for the longest time. I was in complete denial of who I was, and who I had become. I was too scared for too long to step over the threshold, for fear of what that door would unveil. The decision to come out of my "fat closet" was the hardest thing I've ever done. Pretending to be someone I wasn't was so much easier. It was easy to check the "big and beautiful" box and to call people "haters." It was EASIER to say that other people had a #$%^&#@ problem when I got mean looks. I started blogging so that I couldn't retreat back behind that closet door. Once you're out, there's no going back. Just look at what all I have put out there: food addiction, popping buttons off my jeans, true awareness of how I look... it ain't easy.

Whatever reasons are keeping you in that closet... just know that there are other people in there with you. And guess what? There ARE other people on the other side, too.

Come out of your closet. You will eventually run out of room in there. 
As my mama says when she accidentally farts in public: "there's more room on the outside than the inside."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Syrup Soppin'

People say Nashville is the south. But it's not. 
If I were to move here from Boston, then yeah- I can see how I might be confused.
Not to mention the whole "Country Music Capital of the World Thing..." But even country music doesn't necessarily mean anything. Hell, half of the famous country music stars aren't actually FROM the south. 

What makes the south the south?
Culture. People. Fried Chicken. Sweet Tea. Sorghum.
Yes. Sorghum. Sweet, earthy goodness made from the hard work of a... mule. 

A client sent me a bottle of sorghum today and no one at my office knew what it was. 

My mother used to always tell me she loved me more than "homemade sorghum." I never really understood what this phrase meant until today. As I explained to my work people what Sorghum is, I realized how far from my roots I really am. 

Here's how sorghum is made:

The term "slow as molases?" Get it now? 

A little town outside of Auburn even had a festival dedicated to the making of Sorghum. It was called the Lochapoka Syrup Soppin'. We went every year. 

I went home over the weekend. I've been pretty homesick lately. And it's mainly because of my teeth. Stay with me, here. Growing up I always had this ghastly gap between my front two teeth:

Soooo not cute, right? So, finally, by the time I hit highchool, the gap had to go. I got it sealed up. Well, high school has been a few years (no, I'm not telling you how many) and that sealant needed an upgrade. My dentist convinced me a few months ago to take the sealant out and get invisalign. When I take the Invisalign out, my gap is back. This has brought back so many memories of my upbringing. I really started to think back to what life was like the last time I had a gap between my teeth. I was 17, thin, in shape, a cheerleader, state champion tennis player, gymnast, etc... I was healthy and happy. But then I went and "fixed" what I thought was totally wrong with me: my two front teeth. Then somewhere along the line I got fat, even after I "fixed" myself. 

Here I am again, self-conscious about my teeth, and spending thousands of dollars to fix them. My teeth are the last thing I need to be worried about, but yet I've put more thought, energy, and money into them in the last month than I have in my efforts to lose weight. 

As silly as this correlation sounds, it DOES all make sense. 

Being outside of the true "dirty south" has made me realize how unhealthy my eating habits really were growing up in the south. I will stand my ground against anyone who argues that Auburn, AL doesn't have the best chicken finger and BBQ restaurants in the country. I don't know what's in the batter down there, but nothing beats a combo meal from JimBob's or Guthries. When I think about the restaurants from home that I miss the most, it's all food that's bad for me: Niffer's corn nuggets, Momma Goldberg's Doritos nachos, Wild Willy's cheese tots... 

So as thin as I was, and as athletic as I was, that gap toothed cheerleader I once was, was not as healthy as I thought she was. But I looked good! And I was worried about a little gap in my teeth. Man, what I wouldn't give to go back in time and slap the shit out of myself. I would explain to myself what is really important. 

I am proud to be from the south. I am proud to know what sorghum is, and where I can find the best corn nuggets in the world. But I'm not proud of all the habits I just can't seem to break. I'm being "as slow as molasses" when it comes to losing weight! Just because everything is in slow motion in the south, doesn't mean my weight loss has to be! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sleep Good, Wake up Good

I got asked this: "Don't you just love the whole 'getting ready for bed thing?' You know, cleaning up, settling in, taking a shower, getting fresh for a good night's sleep? I love it! I love the whole ritual."

Uhm. Well, yes. I guess I do. But the thing is: I don't really HAVE a "going to bed" ritual. So, true to my form- I over analyzed the conversation to death and had some thoughts.

Think about when you wake up after a night of partying. What's the first thing that comes to mind? "What did I DO last night??" You immediately think about all the horrible things you did and what the LAST thing you did before falling asleep was. 

The truth is, I do this every morning when I wake up. I'm not partying every night, but I still think: what was the LAST thing I did before I lost consciousness? Think about it- you've been out cold for 8 hours. Your mind will want to know what the last thing it consciously did was. This is natural, and I bet that most of you do it, too. If the first thing I remember is a Taco Bell binge or a cabinet raid, then that becomes my first thought of the day. So... My day starts off with self-loathing and negative thoughts. That is not conducive to having a great day, now is it!?

From now on, I will do something very good for me right before I go to bed. I want to wake up to good, positive thoughts. It could be 3 push-ups, or a cup of tea- doesn't matter, as long as it's good for me. 

I also want to make sure I am starting my day off with positive actions, to get me going on the path for a day I can autograph at the end. 

A good hearty healthy breakfast:

A sunrise walk. 


Ok, so that's not me. But someday it will be!

You get the point. Sleep good, wake up good.