Monday, February 27, 2012

negative self-talk baloney

A few days ago I listed a bunch of negative things I noticed that I said to myself.  Well, since then I added about 15 more!  And each one I reframed.  One of them was this:

If I don't eat at restaurants when I'm on vacation, how will I get to know other people?  I'm always interested to meet new people in different places.

My reframing was:  since when do I make new friends in restaurants?   Maybe that could happen occasionally but not most of the time.  My mountain biking and kayaking hobbies take me off the beaten path and usually involve conversations with other people from the local area.

I've had a few experiences on my current vacation that demonstrate there are other ways to meet new people in different places than in restaurants.  First, yesterday in Whole Foods I had a lovely conversation with the college student who checked my groceries.  She told me all about her interest in how the indigenous Chinese are reacting to domestic tourism.  Boy did I learn a lot!   Today was an awesome experience though.  I was riding my mountain bike on a trail and realized I was going in the wrong direction when I met up with a guy at an intersection.  We got into one of the most enjoyable conversations of my life.  He was like a sage to me.  Okay, this is just one of those right place in the right times kind of things, but he is wiser than me in things I'm very interested in, and I got some of the best advice I've ever gotten.  One thing he said was, he tries not to define who he is because it limits who he can be.  An example he gave is some recent songs he wrote that are completely out of character for him---because he had defined a character for himself.   And when he writes songs, he doesn't know where it will take him--I find that with my writing too.  And he had lots of wise meditation advice.  He sang me a song inspired by meditation.  Then we said goodbye and headed off in our respective directions.  Then later on I came to another intersection where a difficult trail went off from.  I asked the two guys there how hard it is, and got into another very fun conversation.  I just really liked these guys--I'm kind of sad I'll probably never see them again.  I saw them two times later (they checked up on me after I did the difficult loop and then later on at the parking lot).  We had a hard time stopping our conversation each time.  They also gave me lots of tips on mountain biking and kayaking.  It was so fun.  That reminds me of another time I was riding near Amarillo, TX in a cool canyon and ended up riding with these three guys and had lots of fun.  These were guys I probably wouldn't have normally interacted with in daily life.  We probably have different politics, religion, all that labeling stuff.

Well, this is probably a bit off-topic, healthwise, but it shows that my negativity was uncalled for---why it's good to monitor your thoughts!

more on self-esteem

Jasmine asked me how I'm working on my self-esteem.  Well, given that it's only been a few days since my revelation that it's a serious problem, it may be premature to post about it.  But what the heck.  Here is what I'm doing:
  • monitoring my thoughts to find out what my negative thoughts are.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  Meditation is a good way to learn to do this.  It teaches you how to be aware of your thoughts. 
  • reframing my thoughts.  This was easy and fun for me.  You just have to make sure you believe your reframing.  
  • practice my reframing.  This takes remembering but is reasonably fun since it's positive.
  • Regarding healthy eating and weight loss, I don't know if this will work but I'm going to try this:   be happy with myself when I do well, and to refuse to be unhappy with myself when I'm not perfect.  
The last one might need some explanation:   The brain likes to do the opposite of what we tell it.  You discover this in meditation too.  My teachers play these games telling us to meditate on this and that, and we we constantly find that our brain does the opposite of what we tell it, it does what we tell it to avoid.  In fact, we are told the best way to meditate is to "not meditate."  Same with mountain biking--when you focus on the obstacle, you will hit it.  Focus on the path you want to take.  When you worry you will ride off the bridge, you will.  Focus on the center line of the bridge (the bridges are sometimes narrow).    So this is all to say, it's not easy to lose weight--otherwise the vast majority of people would not be overweight.  So refuse to be hard on yourself when you stumble.  otherwise, you will probably stumble more.   You'll head towards the obstacles instead of the path you want to go.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

news flash: Florida has great produce

Florida is a great place to be a nutritarian!  Okay, that's not a shock.  Here's the real shocker of the day:  Florida has great mountain bike trails!    The great produce is just fabulous.    Yesterday I scored a nice tangerine and grapefruit and a yummy cabbage from a fruit stand, and used that in today's salad.  Today we hit the Whole Foods in Sarasota.  I have some friends who have complaints about Whole Foods, but one thing in its favor is that the CEO is a follower of Drs. Fuhrman, Esselstyn, McDougall, and Campbell.  You can get nutritarian food from the hot food bar as well as salad bar!   Today I scored yummy local food:  salad, kale, strawberries, tomatoes and a few items from far away places.  Here is the salad I put together for tomorrow:

large, fresh, local red lettuce:

Here's the lettuce cut up and put in three bowls (8 cup bowls!).  a giant bunch of kale is next (half for tomorrow, half the next day):

I like to add in my seed mixture to the lettuce and stir it around.  Tomorrow when I add the vinegar, it will get soaked by the seed mixture and won't all sink to the bottom"

okay, now the kale is on top of that:

local tomatoes, yum!

okay, this probably doesn't go at all with tomatoes but I don't care.  I can eat the tomatoes first.  This is fresh local strawberries, plus some blueberries and raspberries from far away.  Most of the blueberries and raspberries are in a separate bowl for travel companion:

add in a can of chickpeas:

tomorrow I'll add vinegar to the salads.

ps.  I'm working on my self-esteem!

Friday, February 24, 2012

My Revelation

I'm on vacation, not much time to post tonight, but I wanted to share my revelation, especially after last week's negativity.   First a little background:  1) This year's project is learning meditation, and 2) I have low self-esteem.  Item #2 is the cause of my problem that has revealed itself, and item #1 helped me find it.  So I've been practicing meditation following this curriculum, going to a weekly class, and a workshop last weekend.  The goal is pretty simple, to learn to be aware of your thoughts.   That's it.  So last night while doing my food prep, I paid attention to my thoughts.  This is what I heard coming from my mind:  "I'm so weird for making these salads in my hotel room.  I'm an extremist.  I have taken this too far. I probably have an eating disorder.  If anyone saw me doing this, they would think I'm crazy."   Holy cow, I thought, do we have any positive thoughts to share?  silence.   Then today I monitored some more and heard more self-critical thoughts related to healthy eating.  I then explored old favorites.  Here are a bunch I came up with:

  • I am no better than anyone else
    • (therefore) I don't deserve to feel good about myself for eating healthy [what???]
  • people must think I'm weird (work lunches, business travel in bars and restaurants)
  • I wish I could join in in the fun (beer, popcorn, ice cream at terrace, popcorn at movies, etc)
  • (when delicious SAD treats are available that I used to love):  I want some but I can't have any.  I'm in nutritarian prison.
  • my foodie friends may not want to be friends with me anymore
  • I wish I could eat that
  • I'm a weirdo and extremist for preparing salads in my hotel room.  

Now to reframe these negative thoughts:

  • considering all the negative messages I've given myself, I've done incredibly well at sticking to my guns
  • I'm passionate
  • I'm a trailblazer
  • I have discovered the secret to health and long life
  • I'm smart for figuring this out
  • not only to do I know what to do, I am doing it
  • I am successful at eating healthy in an unhealthy world
  • I deserve credit for my success, I deserve to compliment myself occasionally
  • I am proud of what I'm doing
  • I have nothing to apologize for
  • I enjoy preparing salads in my hotel room, and I enjoy even more eating the food I prepare
  • (while traveling, parties, restaurants:)  I'm proud of how I eat; I have no reason to apologize, my food tastes better and is better for me.  It's a free country!  
  • (when delicious SAD treats are available that I used to love): I want some but I can't have any.  well, I don't really want it because I'll feel like crap if I eat it.  it's a pretty minor thing to give up for feeling good every day.   what else do I want to do?  mountain bike and kayak. permission granted! 
  • If I had to eat SAD food every day, THEN I would be in SAD prison
  • what are people's most common new year's resolutions?  eat better and lose weight.  so why am I weird for doing that?
  • my foodie friends appear to still enjoy my company
  • thank goodness I don't have to eat that
  • (regarding food prep in the hotel room):  I'm the world's greatest nutritarian road warrior!
I'll probably edit this to make it more readable, just wanted to get it down.  You might ask why do I have such low self-esteem around this?  Well, I'm prone to it in all areas of my life, but in other areas I have external messages and rewards that make it more difficult to convince myself that I'm worthless.  For example, I'm pretty successful at work.  That doesn't stop me from thinking I'm all washed up and it's downhill from here and I'm a fraud.  But, there is ample evidence that I have been successful in the past and I can't argue with it.  With the healthy eating, I have evidence that my health is vastly improved and I'm at my ideal weight.  You'd think that would be enough to give me some confidence, huh?   Holy cow.  I just let the negative internal voice get out of hand.  I'm going to have to practice the appropriate responses to my negative voice.  

And in case you are wondering, I know why I have low self-esteem.  I won't go into it but the solution is to be aware of it and catch it in the act and recognize how irrational it is.

If you are like me at all, pay attention to your thoughts!    

Okay, time to plan tomorrow's fun!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

grilled, baked, roasted? asparagus!

Here are the complicated instructions to this yummy food:
Turn on the oven to 350.  Throw a bunch of asparagus on a baking sheet.  put in the oven for 30 minutes. take out.  let cool.  chop into smaller pieces if you want.

Boy is this ever good.  It has a sweet taste, and the tops are crunchy.   I'm going to put it on my salad tomorrow.

So what do you call that:  baked, roasted, or grilled?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Entering prison again

Sorry, this sounds awful but I'm kind of having fun with the prison idea.  Hey, it's February in Wisconsin, we tend to get a little dark this time of year.  Today I released myself from prison and had my two favorite cookies from the co-op:  cowgirl and pumpkin (both vegan).  They were good but kind of strange too. The cowgirl cookie was kind of dry but I enjoyed the chewiness.  The chocolate chips actually tasted kind of yucky but I enjoyed whatever drugs are in the chocolate--I think that's the real appeal of chocolate.  Unfortunately, it interferes with my sleep.  The pumpkin cookie tasted good because it was sweet.  But it left a funny chemical taste in my mouth.  Maybe that's the sugar.  and my mouth was a little slippery--the oil I presume.   My PB and J on manna bread from a few days ago actually compared quite well to these cookies.  It had that satisfying chewy quality as well, and I think I prefer the less sweet.  I don't even mind that lack of salt (compared to the cookies).

So overall, eh, it was okay, I can't say I want anymore cookies right now, thankfully.  I'm ready to go back into prison.   I know if I kept going I'd get addicted because that's what sugar and chocolate do to you.  So I'm ready for some walls to protect me.  sorry, like I said I'm having fun with this.  It kind of fits the situation:  You try to stay in prison as long as possible.  Well, how easy it that?  Probably not so easy.  That reflects reality pretty well for a lot of people I think.  When you leave prison it's probably both a happy and sad event.  When you go back in, maybe it's happy, maybe sad, maybe both.   At least maybe you don't have so much negative judgment against yourself---what's to judge about leaving prison?   It turns the shame on its head.

Update the next morning:  Last night I stepped out of prison again to sample a few more things:  Let's see, a small piece of white bread (from a "demi-baguette") with a dab of jam, a small bowl of spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce, a few lightly salted peanuts, 2 pieces of chocolate, and a few lightly salted chips.  Really, not a binge of any sort, just some taste tests (it was okay, nothing to write home about).  But boy do I feel different today.  wow, what a reminder.  truly fascinating.  the chocolate interfered with my sleep.  I definitely look forward to returning to prison today, and feeling normal again tomorrow.  Interesting too how I conveniently forgot about the consequences even though I've experienced this plenty of times to remember.  That's the power of addiction.  I hate to be stark but that's what it feels like to me.  Well, I have too many things to do to think about it anymore.  Have a great day everyone.  I plan to despite my brain fog!


This post ("High Fat Foods Can Lead to Brain Scarring") from diseaseproof makes me glad to be in my nutritarian prison.  It's probably the only prison where you can say the food is good.  :)

I suspect that was a controversial post, but I'm not done with the idea just yet.  There's something about the limitations worth exploring.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nutritarian prison

I was at a meditation workshop this weekend and heard the following story:   say you are looking forward to going to your favorite park to have a picnic all day long with your family and/or friends.  You are taking the day off from work.   You are really looking forward to this.  The day comes, you go to the park, then the police show up and say, you have to stay here all day long.  You cannot leave.  Then what happens?  You probably want to leave!  You do not want to be locked up against your will.  That is how the brain reacts to commands.  That is why willpower is probably not so effective.  It may not be willpower that makes people succeed, but other types of motivation.   I certainly did not use willpower when I became a nutritarian.  I just thought this was a fun new way to eat and cook, and it was producing amazing results so I wanted to keep on going.

Well, after several years of being a nutritarian, I sometimes feel like I am in a prison too.  I am so used to eating healthy that I can't tolerate the unhealthy stuff.   I find it easier to go 100% healthy than 90%.  But that means I eat differently from everyone else, all the time.  This is easily twisted into feeling that I'm not allowed to eat what everyone else eats, and feeling sad about that.  They are all provided snacks and catered meals from one of the best restaurants in town, and I am not!   They are raving about the food and I can't have any!   Rationally, I know I likely wouldn't like the oily, salty food, and the snacks are mostly junk.

Rationally I get positive messages all the time that I am doing what I want to do.  At one point today we were supposed to meditate on pain and I was one of the few people in the room with no pain to meditate on.  I'm probably one of the few who doesn't take medications.  My lunch and snacks were yummy.

So why am I still after all these years experiencing jealousy?   Maybe it's just a last step of dredging up some old feelings so I can shed them like a snake sheds skin.  Would that ever be a relief.

The workshop was great by the way.  This is definitely a fun new adventure for me.   Hard to believe I'm saying that about sitting around doing nothing.  haha.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Treat Day

Today I decided to celebrate as it's been 12 weeks since I ate sugar/refined foods.  I didn't forbid these foods, telling myself I could have this if I wanted it, as long as it was within Dr. Fuhrman's guidelines (less than 5% of total calories, he says 10% but I don't think he's talking about the really bad stuff).  But I was curious to see if I could go completely without it to test out the idea that it takes 12 weeks to break an addiction.   So am I addicted to these foods still?  Not physically, and the desire for them is definitely down.  I think not making them forbidden makes them less desirable too.  And the knowledge that I will feel like crap afterwards seals it pretty well.  All I really miss is being like everyone else, not feeling like a weirdo and enjoying the same food as everyone else.  But that applies to all food our society eats, not anything in particular.  It's not the food I desire, it's the community.   What I miss is mostly fictional, made up in my mind since I can come up with a counter-argument to all of these things (since when do I mind being seen as a weirdo?  I can still be in community while eating my own food)--and this is what led me to wonder if it's mostly an addiction and just rationalizing wanting these foods.  I think there might be something to it because my desire is less after 12 weeks.    well enough rambling about that.

I didn't really want to celebrate by eating the sugar/refined foods.  so I celebrated with some of my favorites.  Here were the ingredients:

That's essene (aka manna) bread, banana, raw pecan/cashew butter, frozen sweet cherries.

First we have my version of peanut butter and jelly; that is, essence bread topped with the nut butter, and frozen sweet cherries (thawed in microwave along):

Then we have ice cream and cake:

i.e., manna bread topped with ice cream (cherries, banana, and a generous serving of nut butter--very good!).

and one of my all time favorites:

plain old banana and nut butter.   Yum!   okay, that was enough treats for a while.  It was good but I'm looking forward to eating some carrots and salads again tomorrow.  oh, I guess that's a good thing!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Black bean eggplant GOMBS soup

This week's GOMB soup was inspired by a recent short clip from Dr. Gregor on the vegetables with the most antioxidant benefit.   Eggplant was very high on the list so that was my featured veggie in addition to GOMBs, oh and tomatoes.  I also used a recipe from the Fuhrman forums as inspiration (here, if you are a member).   I thought this turned out really nicely.   I snapped some pictures but must have forgot to save them so I don't have them.  It made 14 servings!  I might have 2 servings a day because they are fairly low-calorie and it might satisfy me more to have a bowl at lunch and dinner.  Anyway, getting to the recipe:

1 lb black beans (or any other kind)
1 eggplant
1-2 bunches collards or kale
2 onions
1/2-1 lb mushrooms, any kind, I did a variety
2 16-oz cans tomatoes
1 Tbsp oregano 
2-3 tsp cumin
lots of garlic (I got rid of a bunch, must have been about 6 cloves)
2 Tbsp date syrup

I cooked the beans for 2 hours; chopped the collards, eggplant, onions and garlic in the food processor, added to the beans and cooked for another 1-2 hours.   I added the mushrooms too after chopping the other foods, added the tomatoes in the last half hour; added the date syrup at the end.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting over ED

I heard about this series of (free!) interviews called "Getting over ED" (ED stands for Eating Disorders) from someone on the Fuhrman forums.  Dr. Fuhrman was one of the interviewees.  I was going to pretend that I listened just to hear him, because  I didn't want anyone to think I have an eating disorder!  Gasp!   Gosh, would I feel that way about someone else who has eating disorders?  No!  So what if I have one.  That would make you love me even more, right?  Anyway, I think these interviews are interesting.  Some I enjoyed more than others.  The person who did the interviews, Tera Warner, is very sweet and loving.  I enjoy hearing her joyful responses to what the speakers are saying.  

I think the other interviews addressed many issues that Dr. Fuhrman does not address. I suspect these are more common in women than men.  Dr. Fuhrman claims that a lot of food addictions occur from malnutrition from eating an unhealthy diet, and that they can be cured with healthy eating.  I understand that, but I don't think all food issues are cured just with healthy eating.  In fact, I developed issues as a result of healthy eating, because it is so different from how everyone else eats.  Until I was eating healthy for a few years, I had a "normal" relationship to food.  I ate when I was hungry, I stopped when I was full.  I didn't think about food except when I was hungry.  I enjoyed eating with my friends and family.  I was a little overweight and unhealthy, but who isn't when you eat the Standard American Diet.  Then I started eating healthy.  I lost weight, and enjoyed learning new recipes and the science.  I adopted healthy eating in stages, first going vegetarian, then vegan, then losing the caffeine, alcohol, salt, refined foods step by step, because I wanted to.  It was completely voluntary.  It wasn't until I started thinking of foods as forbidden that I started running into problems.  By then I had plenty of nutrients in my body from healthy eating, so I wasn't feeling Dr. Fuhrman's issue.  When the very occasional cookie became never, that's when I started wanting it. I would occasionally binge on a bunch of those forbidden foods that had been storing up in my deprived brain.  That's probably considered to be disordered eating, right?   

I've decided this was a good experience because I am more understanding of what others go through.  Dr. Fuhrman says wisely in Eat to Live that nothing is forbidden.  I have adopted that philosophy and it works well for me.  I'm allowed to eat whatever I want.  Therefore, when I choose something healthy, I am doing what I want, right?  So there shouldn't be deprivation.  Not only that, when I choose not to eat those cookies and cheesy bread and pizzas and waffles, I can be pretty confident they will be there whenever I want them if I change my mind (okay, maybe not my friend's Belgian waffles, but there is plenty of other food to choose from).  Well, then, what's the rush.  I can use the overwhelming prevalence of tempting unhealthy food to my mental advantage.   I don't have to have them now if you know that they are available at every corner and doorstep at any time of the day.   Works today anyway.   

Have a great week!

Weekend recap, more psychology!

Here are some more observations from my weekend where I visited old friends.

1)  I have been concerned the last few years that my friendship with these people would be jeopardized by my eating style.  These friends are "foodies".  A lot of their free-time activities center around "good" food and drink.  What if we have nothing in common anymore?   In our favor, we have been friends for a long time and we are all pretty tolerant of odd behaviors.  We had great conversations this weekend and I had a blast working with Jon on a work project.  So I'm hopeful our friendship will survive after all.

2) The final test of the weekend's effect (saying no to all the food and drink I used to enjoy with them) on my behavior was after I returned home.  In the past, I have been known to misbehave when I get home from a trip where I behaved the whole time.  Then I had to release something or felt I had to get paid back for something, or who knows what.  So I got home today, and immediately went grocery shopping to beat rush hour.  I did behave.  I thought, I could go for some fruit and nuts and manna bread and cherries and and and, but it wouldn't solve anything or make me feel better.  I think I've done this enough in the past to know it just doesn't solve anything.   This worked for me today.  That's good.

3) I'm thinking that willpower does not work so well with me.   There have been articles recently in the New York Times and other places about how we only have so much in will power reserves, and we can use it all up by the end of the day.  I think I don't have any willpower in reserves!  It is more like a loan.  It demands payback.  If I use willpower to be good, it seems to demand I be bad later on.  So I'm trying to avoid willpower altogether.   I'm just making choices.  I'm doing what I want.

4)  I am trying out the idea of not looking at food or food producers or advertisers as the enemy.   They could even be my friends.  The billboards I saw along the highway today seemed to promise comfort and enjoyment.  It's a good feeling.  It doesn't mean I have to eat it, but I can enjoy the feeling they are presenting.  In a way, I'm stealing from them:  they are trying to rope me in with their good feelings, and I'm just taking the good feelings and not the food.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Today's psychology

Still at my friends' house (see yesterday's post for more on this).  This morning I jogged 5 miles in the sunshine on a beautiful trail, arrived back at the house, showered, and ate a delicious florida orange and carrot while they ate their belgian waffles and bacon.  I basked in my exercise hormones and they basked in their sugar and coffee.  All of us were quite satisfied.  Then I made my salads for the day and ate one of those while we had a long conversation.   I could have had the waffles--it's okay to indulge on occasion. I just didn't want them today. and it didn't seem to ruin our friendship.  My partner got to indulge in the food and I thanked my guests for feeding my partner this delicious food.  So I still got to thank them.   Later on they had typical football game snacks and chili with the works.  I was fine eating my salads, soup, and carrots.  But the key was feeling I have a choice, for me anyway.  It's okay to go off plan once in a while.  It would have been okay to do that today.  Feeling like I had that choice worked for me.  Then I just didn't want the consequences.  It's hard to give advice on this issue because everyone is different, even I am different on a different day.  This worked for me today.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yummy salad, and psychology

I took this picture in my car.  We're on a weekend road trip to go see friends:
I really liked this salad.  It has romaine lettuce, red cabbage, kale, broccolini, cauliflower, red bell pepper, grapefruit chunks, fennel, red onion, seed mixture, and vinegar.  Hard to believe such a healthy salad would taste good but it did.

We're visiting old friends.  The psychology part of the post is that yesterday I bought our favorite ice cream, beer, and bagels to bring to our friends.  I got jealous remembering enjoying these foods with them.  So I overate on fruit.  Could have been worse.  It gives me an appreciation for how hard it can be for people to follow this diet when you have many associations with good times with friends and family and eating.  It's a whole body and mind memory.  I just have to create new memories with these friends.    I'll get practice this weekend. My next moment this weekend was tonight watching them eat their cheesy bread and pizza and wishing I could join them.  Then I said to myself:  you can have it if you want.  then I thought:  oh, I'd feel awful if I ate that.  then the urge went away.  lesson learned:  it's a choice.   I'm sure there will be more moments as the weekend goes on.  They are having home-made belgian waffles for breakfast.  But I will wake up feeling great and hopefully go for a nice jog.  it's just a choice.  we are all happy with our choices and hopefully can live in harmony with each other.  :)