Monday, September 29, 2008

Fear

I think I now understand a little how bulimics can do what they do. We went out this evening and had a lovely dinner. My first time eating Korean BBQ. We made sure our Korean friend ordered all beef meats, and that I stuck to the vegetable banchan (side dishes.) Towards the end of the meal I was very excited to try the Kimchi Jigae (a kimchi stew.) The jigae was not at all what I was expecting, sweet and almost reminiscent of a tomato-based soup.

What I also didn't expect, was the chunks of meat that Alaskaboy pulled up on his spoon near the bottom of the pot. I'd assumed the sweetness came from the tofu chunks in the stew. I also made sure to ask our friends how the soup was made. (pretty cool soup which I now know I don't have to throw any "old" kimchi out!) We all assumed the meat was beef since we'd specified beef for the whole meal. I also made sure to specify no chicken broth in any of the soups.

When I got home and looked up the restaurant's menu I was horrified to discover that it was a pork and kimchi jigae. Swine over here is given enrofloxacin. Yes, a member of the quinolone family, the one I reacted to last year. I think my subconscious knew at the restaurant that it was pork, but my conscious mind was hoping it was beef since I'd already eaten some of the soup.

I was a little more than comfortably full, but in no way was I ready for puking up my food. The little voice in the back of my head was also arguing the cost of the meal. The cost of my health completely swung the scales in favour of upchucking though. So after a brief cry, I assumed the position. And nothing happened. I couldn't do it. All I could do was sob into the toilet.

My brain was also trying to convince me that I'd be fine and it was only a wee bit of pork. But when I also read that the zucchini fritters had egg in the batter, and the macaroni salad had egg in it was well, I didn't want to take any chances with my health, well any more than I'd already taken this evening. And it was in that moment, as I drank heaps of water (tap water too, which is totally foul tasting here) and opened a clean toothbrush that I began to understood bulimics.

When I went back for a second and third round of drinking water in between puking (I'd had very little to drink today so I assumed drinking water would help ease the food up my oesophagus, and it did) I REALLY felt I understood them. They must fear fat, or losing control, as much as I feared my body's reaction to any remnants of the antibiotic in the pig meat/broth I'd ingested. Their fear is so great, as was mine, that they'd go to any lengths to rid their body of the previously yummed up but no longer wanted food. And having no ipecac syrup on hand, I figured the toothbrush down the throat was the quickest method of ridding myself of the food with the minimum of digestion happening. Especially since it'd been half an hour or more since I'd finished eating.

So, yeah, lessen learned. Don't make ANY assumptions about food ever again. Because I refuse to go through this again and I refuse to go through what I went through as a result of taking that antibiotic. I refuse to sob my heart out in fear of my life and my quality of life. No food is worth that. Embarrassment and being a nuisance in asking to make sure I get food that my body can deal with is worth every bit of awkwardness. I don't want to ever be that afraid again.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snakes and Ladders.

I've got so many ideas to write, so many of wonderful stories to crit, a challenge piece to still finish, writing coursework to do, the dishes are piling up and I can't do any of it! I've been so careful to RICE my sprained wrist (even staying away from the computer completely for a few days and not swimming for over a week now) but it now feels like I've sprained the inner part of my forearm trying to overcompensate for the wrist. Am guessing I possibly got overzealous with the gentle stretching or slept on it funny last night with my new pillow. (I've also got period cramps so I was in the midst of a full blown pity party this evening.)

Of course, because the kitchen is a pigsty with all those unwashed dishes, the kitchen pipes backed up as I went to do the first sink full. After trying to get it unblocked on my own I called Alaskaboy, mainly to see if he wanted a crack at it when he got home, if not I'd go get the maintenance guy. Just as I'm saying this on the phone...the upstairs neighbours let out their sinks.

Wait! {laughs} It gets better.

Because it was so hot I was only wearing underpants and a t-shirt. FLING went the phone after I shouted something into it at Alaskaboy, don't remember what, then I was running back and forth madly--braless boobs bouncing wildly--ferrying towels from the linen press and shoving them at the floor to make a dam.

Then when it looked strong enough to prevent it making a break for the carpet, I ran back to the bedroom and grabbed one of the only clean pair (wash day tomorrow) of trousers I had; thick sweat pants. Hopping past the phone I realised hubby was still on the line. I grabbed up the phone and panted at him, "I'll call ya back!" and dashed off outside and upstairs.

POUNDED on their front door and after they suspiciously asked "Who is it?" I breathlesssly garbled something at them. All the while thinking, Just open the damn door and turn off your water! Eventually I caught my breath enough to say, "From downstairs."

They opened the door and I managed to get out that they were flooding my kitchen and they put the plug back in the sink.

Came back, tossed out some more towels and actually had time to spread them out. (Water was about an inch deep by this point.) Then it was off, up and down more stairs, to get the maintenance guy. He snaked the pipes. Then he mopped up the water, tidied up the counter, offered to dry out the towels of mine, but I dumped them in a couple of dishpans and I'm gonna wash them tomorrow. And now I'm left with more things to tidy than I started with.

But I do have a sparklingly clean, and bleached, kitchen floor and counter. Silver lining, right?

Now I'm in desperate need of a cold bath and a nice drink..except I have to wash a glass first. LOL

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Mezzo Cammin: Removing the Scales From My Eyes: Beginning

In light of my recent reaction to my progress photos, I found this post, from G.G. over at Mezzo Cammin, rather timely. Wonderful post about learning to see yourself as you truly are.

Mezzo Cammin: Removing the Scales From My Eyes: Beginning

It also made me realise just why I was so angry at myself and my progress photos the other day. Not only had I fleetingly compared my current self with them, but also the very nature of them struck me to my core: Headless, unflattering, and above all extremely judgmental. Not celebratory in the least like I'd previously thought they were. Instead I'm screaming to the world, "I'm not acceptable like this. Watch me try and become acceptable."

Seems like I have some more thinking to do about the nature of "progress" and whether I want to keep those photos up. . .or ever take any more.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oriental Meal.

After the lacklustre meal I had at the sushi bar yesterday plus the teppanyaki restaurant only serving shrimp sushi I couldn't eat on Saturday, I was hankering for some tasty vegetarian sushi tonight. We were missing half the ingredients for miso or ramen soup, so I went with Chinese hot and sour soup. Aaand just because I wanted it, I added a Korean touch in the form of some Kimchee.

Alaskaboy, not content with his own plate, tried to steal some of my sushi while I had my hands busy with the camera. Shithead! Let's try this again.
Bowl of beef, tofu and shiitake mushroom hot and sour soup.
Egg, lettuce and carrot sushi plus wasabi.
Radish and cabbage kimchee.
Assorted condiments.

I'm thinking the weight training I did this afternoon was definitely the reason behind wanting three different kinds of protein with dinner. Body sayin', "Gimme something to work with here!" lol

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Manic Monday

Saturday night we went out for dinner. During my usual run around to try and find something to wear, I tried on my favourite pair of size 18W jeans. I was completely desperate to even try them on because last time they hadn't come close to zipping up. Guess what? They fit! Completely shocked, I tried on several tops that I haven't worn since early January. They also fit. One I even tried on without a bra and oh MAN did I look all sexerrific! My breasts nestled in that empire-waisted singlet top like they were born for it! Only problem was, I was afraid I'd fall out of it while attempting to eat my Japanese food, or something from the chopsticks'd take a dive into that beautiful valley. So, the top went back in the wardrobe until I can find a nice demibra to wear underneath it.

(All of this was pretty amazing considering I'm 18 lbs fatter, yes I do mean fatter not heavier, than I was at Christmas. And approx 10lbs past the point where the clothes last fit. I'm guessing the increased exercise over recent months has helped tone something, even though I can't see it in the mirror.)

Too hot to wear the jeans, I ended up wearing a pair of black scrubs pants (that look surprisingly like slacks but are much more comfy with their nice drawstring waistband) and a very fetching purple sleeveless top. Also the same high-heeled sandals that I'd worn to see Wicked. Walking through the parking garage underneath our building I noticed I was strutting.

I said to Alaskaboy, “Look how I'm walking!”
He said, “I AM looking!”
In my rush to get my point across I completely ignored the inherent compliment he'd given me. “No, no! I meant look how I'm walking in these compared to when we went to Wicked!” I also gave him a mental eye roll for good measure.

Back in April, despite wearing a loose and floaty-style gypsy/peasant skirt, my strides were about as long as you could take wearing a long pencil skirt. My ankles felt strong enough to actually wear the high heels, but still really weak and wobbly compared to what they used to be, so I played it cautious with mincing steps. Saturday night I was walking along with a swinging stride and loving how confident and sexy I felt.

On Sunday, bearing in mind my new progress with the jeans, I went and checked my progress photos. Now, this wasn't out of any masochistic need to compare how I was then with now. This was simply to see how long it has been since I'd actually posted a progress picture. And because I graduated from therapy last week, I should have been completely fine with looking at those pictures. I thought I was, until Monday morning rolled around.

Sunday night I'd gone to bed, but tossed and turned for 45 minutes without even a hint of falling asleep. Practicing my new “adult” outlook, I got up and folded the washing we'd done the day before. Doing something productive, instead of wasting more time feeling frustrated. So, because of that my sleep was a little shorter than I like, but once I was awake, there was no rolling back over and going back to sleep. Believe me, I tried. LOL (That's the other great thing, I'm not only happier I'm also back to sleeping normally, no more 12 hrs a day spent sleeping. Plus, there's less grumpiness if I am sleep deprived. Yipeee!)

All morning I had a sense of body dissatisfaction. My thoughts were turning to binging. Despite having had a delicious In'n'Out burger on Saturday, I was having fantasies about eating Burger King...just to see if it tasted any better this time around. Punishment eating or what?! I had my breakfast of porridge, since I really did want it and had taken the time last night to put the saucepan on the stove and soak the porridge for quick cooking in the morning. For second breakfast my brain was urging me to eat all of the leftover roast chicken and bury myself face first in the leftover Crumb Topped Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie. Instead, I ate the wing on Alaskaboy's half of the chicken. (he doesn't like them) and I ate half my own side's chicken breast. Then I picked bits off the carcass..especially that really yummy tender bit on the bottom. It kinda looks like a giblet, but it's alll meat. And then, when I'd eaten enough chicken, I cut myself a piece of pie about half the size my brain told me I wanted.

I ate like this all day. Whatever I wanted to binge on, I waited until I was hungry and ate only enough to be satisfied. Well, wouldja lookit that! Intuitive eating and emotional eating combined. Because I was eating only small meals, I ate more often over the course of the day, every 1.5 – 2 hrs I'd say. Third meal was the rest of my chicken breast plus heaps of sauerkraut. Fourth meal was a vegetable sushi roll and a cup of miso soup while I was out and about running errands. (post office was a nightmare! Which only increased my negativity.)

All day I'd been so angry that I'd had several episodes of mock-biting the air. (complete with Unh-Unh-Unh and Grrrr noises) When I got home I was still in an angry and unsettled mood. So I indulged in a bit more of that then jumped on the computer. (Ouch poor computer. HaHa!) I knew I was sad and unsettled over seeing the pictures. Shocked at reacting like I did because I never expected to react at all. I knew I had to talk to somebody about it because I'd been going around and around in circles in my own head all day with no lessening of the emotions. Luckily Marshy was online and in one part of the conversation she hit it on the head why I was angry. I was furious at myself for reacting. I HADN'T gone there to torture myself or even felt the need to torture myself, yet here I was still reacting! Still stuck in that old mental pattern. ARRGH!

During the conversation I started to get hungry again. My emotions were crying out for comfort food and my body was hungry because I'd had not much to eat really, even though I felt like I'd been eating all bloody day. I tried to wait until we'd finished talking, but the conversation meandered and flowed, as conversations tend to do, so I had to nick on out to the kitchen in fits and starts to make dinner. (Was an important conversation didn't wanna say hold on making dinner I be back later.) I wanted cheese. Cheese. Cheese. Oh and Carbs. I whacked the spaghetti on to boil. Usually my (low fat) carbonara or alfredo-type sauces are made with cream cheese and evaporated milk, plus any sautéed veggies and sun dried tomatoes or chicken I wanna put in it. When lazy I use warmed flavoured cream cheese.

When the pasta was almost done I microwaved about 1/4c of Philadelphia Chive & Onion Cream Cheese. Now, when I'd made this last time, it was a little dry, so I contemplated adding a little fresh milk to it or more of the cream cheese...but I'd have needed a whole tub to cover it as lusciously sloppy as I wanted the sauce to be at that moment. Too much fresh milk and it'd be the wrong consistency and flavour. I contemplated adding cottage cheese to it, but didn't fancy the lumps. I wanted sauce, not bits! What to do, what to do?

A-HA!

I whizzed about 2/3-3/4c of cottage cheese in our mini food processor and mixed it through the warmed cream cheese. Lookit that! Half a bowl of sauce! I slopped in the pasta and mixed it through really good. Added some freshly ground black pepper, and feeling daring I sprinkled a little bit of dried dill on there. I also thought about adding some grated Parmesan, but it really was already luscious tasting enough with the chives and dill. (Beside it'd also dirty another utensil and, more importantly, make me wait longer to EAT!)

OMG! Satisfying on all fronts: time and ease of preparation; taste buds; emotions; stomach; gentle nutrition; healthy conscience. And just like that my anger was gone. Replaced by pride that I'd managed to satisfy my day long binge without compromising my intuitive eating.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clever Girl!

This is Sofia; Escape Beagle Extraordinaire!



Note the bricks on the roof and the boards across the top of the doorway. Methinks she does this regularly!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting Into The Swim Of Things. (And Kada does a good deed)

Last Tuesday I'd planned to go swimming earlier in the afternoon, but by the time I arose, had breakfast and got dressed for swimming, I would have had to rush through my laps before the pool closed for the afternoon. Rushing wouldn't have been good when I was trying for an endurance swim. To fill in the time I went veggie shopping; yeah that's when I bought those beets and that cabbage! When I got home I made a shepherd's pie for dinner. Took me a little longer than I'd planned, so I ended up arriving at the pool later than I wanted.

Most of the lanes had walkers and very slow swimmers in them. There was only lane left with a single swimmer in it, she was super speedy. And when I jumped in, she threw me a dirty look on the first turnover. I kinda blew it off, got my goggles set and had a drink of water. Then on her next lap as she stopped to take a quick breather, when I went to ask her how we would share the lane I found out she wasn't just grumpy she was super rude. She made a disgusted noise at me and didn't answer my question. Hey, Rude Lady, just cause you're speedy doesn't mean you know pool etiquette. I mean c'mon! I can see you're swimming up and down one side of the lane all right, but I want to make SURE you're gonna stay there. I've had head-ons with speedy swimmers before and it HURTS.

Obviously I was s'posed to leave her the hell alone and watch for several laps to find out. Yeah, like I have time for that! Pissed off, I began my warm up laps of breaststroke making sure I took my time and didn't let her ruin my swim by making me going out too fast in anger. I stopped after 100m and had another drink. Now, time for the endurance swim. God, I hoped I'd do better than I did the other day. I'd even made sure to eat a little more than I wanted for lunch and afternoon snack. No running out of fuel this time! Plus, I had visions of my shepherd's pie waiting in the (turned off) oven for me.

Wanting to ensure I didn't fatigue my shoulders I alternated four laps breaststroke with four laps freestyle. Naturally, the first 500m went a little faster than the previous week's effort. The next 300 started to drag, even though I constantly reminded myself to kick strongly. (I have weak kicks in every stroke, it's the biggest flaw in my technique. I can't help it I'm all about the shoulder strength! lol) The penultimate hundred I was gasping for breath every second stroke during freestyle. However, I was determined to get to the 1km that Raina had managed the week before so I turned and went again without stopping for the drink I desperately wanted. (Is a bitch when you realise how often ya normally stop for a drink and a wee bit of rest, innit?) The last hundred seemed to take forever. I was down to breathing every second stroke...but breaststroke!

At long last I touched the final wall. I was too tired to give more than a half-hearted mental “I didz it too!” in the general direction of NZ. Funny how a bit of a stretch, a bit of a drink and then a few laps of gentle backward sculling got me in the mood to try and beat my adult swimmer total distance PB of 1500m.*

It was nice to have the lane all to myself so I could take my time, swim up and down the middle of the lane and get some freestyle fingertip drag drill work in while increasing my distance. When I was done with that I switched to a backstroke catch-up drill. Unfortunately, a few laps into it a kid started swimming in my lane...and I didn't realise. Yeah you guessed it. Him freestyle + me backstroke = head on collision. THEN I had to dodge kids swimming in and out of my lane playing chasey. After telling 'em twice to stay outta my half of the lane I told the lifeguard on 'em. (big ol' meany I am!)

Eventually the lane I was in became the swim lesson lane so I had to move over. By this point I was stuffed, but I still had two laps to go for my 1500m. After completing those two, I tried something that you do in weight training which is go to fatigue point. Ya know the one Scotty's always complaining about? "I've given her all she's got, Captain, and I can't give her no more.” You shoulda seen me. The last ten laps were some godawful bastardised version of dog paddle! With a stop at the end of each 25 yard lap.

I was SO glad I'd already made dinner when I wobbled my way home. Was very difficult to even lift it out of the oven. After a couple hours rest (aka Yakkin' on The Phone) I was able to peel the beets and roast them for my evening snack.

And to go with Alaskaboy's dinner:

This morning I dragged a little when I got outta bed. Probably because I was up late last night catching up on writing group stuff I'd neglected during my big therapy push. I almost decided to go swimming in the afternoon again, but I thought fuck it I wanna go now. Even with a strong cup of tea with breakfast it still took me an hour and a half to get outta the house. LOL

My swim today was a WHOLE lot faster, smoother and better overall than last week's. I'm putting it down to several key differences.

1) Fringe/bangs tied back out of face.
2) Instead of 4 laps per stroke breast/free alternation I used 4 laps per stroke breast/free/back rotation. (Backstroke is also my strongest stroke.)
3) Weight training earlier in the week = stronger muscles.
4) Feeling emotionally good and more confident.
5) Hadn't just finished menstruating.
6) Well-rested for the two previous nights plus swam earlier in the day.
7) Better fuel in stomach. (Am sure the caffeine didn't hurt either.)
8) Stretched BEFORE swimming.

By themselves all of those things don't mean much, but when you add them all together. Wow. Huge difference.

Last Week: Struggled to finish the 1000m non-stop.
This week: Swam 1645m non-stop but could have swum a little more. (Stopped because of sore elbow and wrist)

Total Distance last week: 1783m (95 mins) (78 laps)
Total Distance this week: 2057m (80 mins) (90 laps)

Yeah and I was down to doggy paddle again for the last ten laps. But I stopped every 50 yards instead. Woohoo!

Oh! And as a antidote to Rude Lady last week, I had Learning to Swim Nice Lady this week.

During my last two laps, I'd noticed a 50+ year old woman attempting to torpedo with a kickboard up and down the lane next to mine. But she'd stop and stand up to breathe each time. After I'd finished swimming and was taking time to really stretch everything out good, she approached me and made conversation about not being confident in the water. So gave her some tips on how to increase her confidence. Not only with floating, but breathing and swimming as well.

Simple little things like laying her head on the lane ropes when floating on her back. Hanging on to it when floating on her stomach or to practice breathing. Then trying to reach for the next lane rope over with her feet. (Distracts the brain from panic as the feet lift up.) Breathing facing forward instead of turning head side to side. (That can come later, it's like a Learner trying to drive and eat at the same time!) Even putting a noodle under her belly during kickboard torpedo for increased streamlining and buoyancy. Just little tricks to increase her confidence. As I told her, kids get water wings, adults should be allowed to have them too!

It felt SO cool watching her confidence increase over the 40 minutes I spent coaching her. She went from not being able to coordinate breathing and torpedoing to being able to get 3-6 breaths in a row before stopping and standing up in a moment of panic. I got out of the pool before her, but she ended up in the change room before I was finished. She was smiling from ear to ear. She'd been frustrated for weeks about not being able to advance further than she had. Stopped taking lessons because the teacher couldn't increase her confidence at all.

So yeah, am feeling pretty fab now after a great swim and watching Nice Lady realise how much fun swimming could be for herself (After years of sitting on the side of the pool watching others have fun. The reason she gave for finally learning to swim.)

Thanks for sticking through such a long post. Had a lot to fit in!

*(I have a vague recollection that our swim club training total distance averaged around 4km per 2 hr session. That did include drill work plus various strength training stuff like pull buoys / paddles / flippers / kickboard work as well.)

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Seeing It From My Stomach's Point Of View.

Before lunch may not be the best time to do this, but it's the only time I've got today. That's one bummer about living a fulfilling and balanced life, ya have to learn to manage time. No more blogging for hours on end!

The other thing about a balanced life is it's giving me more time to think about what I really want. I figured that once I knew how to eat intuitively, to go with the flow and not judge myself during moments of comfort eating plus learning gentle nutrition I would have everything pretty much covered. That I'd have nowhere else to focus on except any weight loss I may eventually have. Nope. I'm still learning about food.

Not just what I like to eat, but how I like to eat it. Presentation, I've come to realise is a key thing for me. Some meals I like to have dished up all on the one plate, but mostly I like to have a spread of options. I think that's why I love Asian/Indian/Middle Eastern type foods so much; they're always presented like your own personal buffet.

Bearing that in mind, one weekend for breakfast a couple of months ago, I set it out like this:
We had rice bowls of fruit to share, our own personal saucers of crackers and tomatoes plus a bread'n'butter/salad plate for the main part of our meal. The good thing about this was when we didn't eat all of the fruit, the leftovers could be easily be plastic wrapped and put back in the fridge. Funny thing was, we both enjoyed the breakfast immensely. Something about the set up pleased an inner part we didn't know needed satisfying.

I've also begun experimenting with different ways of cutting the vegetables and adding fruit with my meal.
I'm simply stunned at how much less rice, pasta or bread I eat in a a meal now that I'm bulking up the veggies and fruit content of my diet. Also amazed how variable my appetite is. Some meals I finish the whole of a dinner-plate-sized serving, sometimes I even go back for a little more, and yet other days I'll stop before I've eaten a bread'n'butter-plate-sized serve.


Often when I eat Asian foods I'll set out the condiments like the breakfast above. My first thought for this meal had been egg, mushroom and been shoots fried rice, with the kimchee and seaweed on a saucer each on the side.

But this was obviously a time I wanted it arranged all on the one large plate. Extra bonus was the meal now needed another veg in the stirfry. Hello, eggplant! (Proud of this photo too. Is the best food pic I've taken so far.)

Sometimes it's just a simple fish'n'chips dinner:

Even simpler is when I merely grill the fish, no poaching it in the lemon sauce, and make baked potatoes with no seasoning on them, or do 'em mashed. LOL

This morning for breakfast I wanted protein alongside my porridge, milk and honey, but I didn't want eggs. The cottage cheese failed to catch my eye. And I was downright offended by the thought of cheese on toast. Shit! what was left? Seeds. My teeth and palate were demanding something crunchy to offset the sloppiness of the porridge. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds were all gone, walnuts I'm not too keen on unless they're baked in something. (I know that for sure because I sat down last month and actually ate a few kernels raw.) Hmm.. the cashews had all joined the Nut Lovefest known as granola...AHA! Almonds.

Oh and strawberries please.

So a small handful of nuts and four plump strawberries on the saucer to eat with breakfast. Except I'd put nearly double the amount of water in that I needed and I was standing there stirring at the stove for eons. The strawberries and almonds each took turns beguiling me into a nibble here and a chomp there and all of a sudden the saucer was empty. And my porridge still wasn't cooked!

SIGH!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tried the Cabbage Salad

Dinner last night was grilled chicken breast, mashed potato and the red cabbage salad. I did find the salad pleasant but for my personal preference I'd put in more figs and more pumpkin seeds. Red Cabbage really is a very subtle vegetable. For some reason I thought it would be even stronger tasting than Green Cabbage.

I'm also having second thoughts about my bold declaration of trying carrot and parsnip mash. {shudders} What was I thinking?! And baby corn? Ugh. But, yes, I'll try them, never fear. The trick is to find a way to make them palatable! LOL

Got a swim report to write, but first I'm gonna have some lunch. Dunno what I want though. {goes to stare at the pantry and fridge}

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Try, Try and Try Again.

Thanks to Shauna's guest post on Limes & Lycopene, I discovered the rest of Kathryn Elliott's 31 Days To A Better Diet series. (As well as her entire fabulous blog.)

Several of the ideas in that series I already do. A few of the things I'd already made up my mind to incorporate into my diet. And the diet diary I avoided altogether. What really resonated with me in particular were days 7, 16 and 21. I knew I was in a rut. I knew I was trying to overcome some of the fears I have; what better way to start than with foods!

For years I've been telling people there really isn't any food I dislike other than, thanks to too many childhood dinners that included them, veggies that have been boiled to death. Oh and I just thought of a new one: carrot and parsnip mash.* Mainly because upon seeing it on the plate I always mistook it for mashed pumpkin and potato. They do NOT taste the same, people!

Sorry, digression over. I've always bragged there wasn't a food I wouldn't try at least once. Lookit me, I proudly eat century egg, chicken feet and all kinds of things that western people tend to consider revolting. Nothing I wouldn't try eh? I've been known to go looking for pizzle in asian grocery stores to try pizzle soup.

Nothing I wouldn't cook?

You sure about that?

What about brains?

What about fresh beetroot?

What about red cabbage?

What about figs?

WHAT ABOUT COTTAGE CHEESE?

What about-- Okay! I get the picture. But apart from the smell alone of brains putting me off (Dad used to eat crumbed/fried brains) I draw the line at them for safety reasons.

And the rest?

Well... Um... You got me there. I can't count the times I've bought red cabbage or fresh beets and let them languish in the crisper until it was time to chuck them out. They scare the crap outta me. They're so messy and hard to eat/cook and...yeah the reasons went on. I also thought the greens were poisonous like rhubarb greens. Cottage cheese the texture looked like I'd have serious issues with it; and it's a diet food! Everyone I knew who did weight watchers was shoving as much of the stuff in their gobs as they could get. We had a fig tree in the back yard when I was growing up. The smell in summer when the figs would drop onto, and end up ground in and baked on, the concrete was indescribable. I still gag when thinking about it. We prepared them once in chef school, but of course I made sure there were none left when it came my turn to try them. Oh! I also tried low fat Fig Newton's once. BLECH!

Last week I bought a bunch of three beetroots, a WHOLE red cabbage, and a tub of cottage cheese. I spent the whole afternoon ringing various people and scouring the internet for recipes. The beet greens were wilted so they were out, but there was no avoiding the roots. I opted to boil one, roast one and shred one raw on sandwiches. But come dinner time I was too stuffed to fart about and went with roasting the lot. I pulled on some trusty disposable gloves, (complete with thwacking noise and smart arse comment to Alaskaboy) then top'n'tailed the beetroot, peeled and cut them into eighths, tossed 'em in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and baked at 200C/400F for 45-50 mins.

OMG! I've avoided these delish gems for HOW LONG?! We ate a whole beetroot each with dinner and had the other a couple days later as part of a salad. Umm..yeah and beetroot helps your bowels along. I'm glad I knew that before eating them, else I'd probably have eaten more than I did in one setting and sat on the toilet all the next day.

Beetroot: Check! Verdict: Please Sir, I want some more.

The following morning, I spooned 1/2 a cup of the cottage cheese onto a saucer as part of breakfast. You shoulda seen it. I had to fight to get the first spoonful into my mouth. Screwed up my face exactly like a kid who does NOT want anything to do with what that Choo Choo or Aeroplane is carrying towards their gob. After that first bite I was hooked. I practically inhaled the serving while the rest of my breakfast lay neglected on my plate. I called Alaskaboy and yelled into the phone, "I LOVE cottage cheese! It's like cream cheese in a bath of sour cream!!!!!" I was that excited, those exclamation marks were practically visible in the air. It was only by a supreme effort of will, almost as great as getting that first spoonful in, that I made the remaining cottage cheese last a few days.

Cottage cheese: Check! Verdict: More! NOW!

I first tried the red cabbage in my chicken, cabbage and rice stirfry, but I really couldn't taste it, and the green cabbage version tastes better. I eat it fine in "salad mix" and didn't want to try coleslaw since I've had a fair bit of mayo recently. So, tonight we're trying Kathryn Elliott's Red Cabbage, Dried Fig and Pepita salad with dinner. I snacked on a dried fig while preparing the salad, they're kinda like dried dates but with extra crunchy bits in it and a slightly different flavour.

Red Cabbage: Check! Verdict: Dunno yet.

When we went to Whole Foods on the weekend to buy the dried figs for the salad, there just right inside the front door was a mountain of punnets. Full of--I'm betting you guessed it--fresh figs. I was going to call it good by tasting the dried figs in the salad, but that's cheating really, so I picked up a punnet that seemed to have soft but not too squishy fruit in it.

I had to look it up online when I got home, "How To Eat fresh Figs". Yeah, that's right, I had no clue! I'd tried looking through all my chef school handouts for the recipe we used, but I gave up halfway through. After washing us a fig each, I trimmed the stem off and chopped them in half, duly admired their pretty innards, and we sat down to eat them. Our techniques were vastly different. Alaskaboy put a whole half in his mouth and chewed relentlessly until it was gone. I nibbled bit after bit after bit. We both had the same reaction. It's not horrible or anything. Pleasant, but really didn't float our boats. The texture however was interesting. Almost like it was filled with thick raspberry jam or something.

Figs: Check! Verdict: Fresh = Eh. Could take it or leave it. Dried = Yum.

Funnily enough, this great food experiment has put my confidence through the roof. I feel fabulous. It's like I've got a new lease on life. It's not only gotten me over those long standing food fears but has helped me regain my sense of excitement with food. Ever since that antibiotic poisoning I've been almost scared to try anything new of even go outside my careful regimen of known safe foods. It probably also helped that I found some lox I could eat this week and was thus able to watch Alaskaboy eat his turkey lunch meat with only a little jealousy.

How about you guys? Got any foods you're afraid of or ones you're willing to retry?

Does anyone have tasty recipes for collard greens that don't include pork products?

Next week I'm gonna try me some turnips, parsnips and canned baby corn. Not all at once of course.

*Woohoo! Another new combination to try out as an adult.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

My Persona.


(With apologies to The Knack
Ooh my little fearful one, fearful one.
When you gonna give me courage, Persona?
Ooh you make my heartbeat race, my heartbeat race.
See me runnin' for my hole, Persona
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a nasty mind. Always got it in for the girls
of the nicer kind. My my my i yi woo. M M M My Persona...

Come a little closer huh, ah will ya huh.
Close enough to look in my eyes, Persona.
Keeping it a mystery gets to me
Running down the length of my spine, Persona
Never gonna stop, give it up. Such a nasty mind.
Always got it in for the girls
of the nicer kind. My my my i yi woo. M M M My Persona...

When you gonna give it to me, give it to me.
It is just a matter of time Persona
Is it just destiny, destiny?
Or is it just a game in my mind, Persona?
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a nasty mind. Always got it in for the girls
of the nicer kind. My my my i yi woo. M M M My Persona...


A week ago, I received what is most probably my final magic mirror. This is the one I've been most eagerly awaiting. I haven't talked about my dad much here on this blog because in some ways our relationship is too special to share. I've never been good at sharing him, but at least I mostly kept that jealousy inside my own head. . .I hope!

The validation I talked about with my therapist several weeks ago was definitely validation from my parents and from my dad in particular--Mainly because I get to talk to my mum more often and I felt a little more comfortable asking her for validation in subtle ways. Dad's always been good with gifts: he gave both me and Mum bunches of flowers or choccies every so often. Anything my brother and I truly wanted he'd get it for us, often surprising us when we least expected it. The gift of his presence and involvement in our competitive sporting careers, (Mum was there too, but this is about Dad.) and pretty much every aspect of our lives he was there. Mostly silent but with complete support.

In Year 7, he drove into the school grounds one day after school to pick us up, and stopped near the boy I'd been mooning over for weeks and asked him out for me. (Talk about embarrassment at the time! These days, I understand it's because Dad thought I was so wonderful and my happiness so important that there was only one course for him to take.) During the speech he gave for my 21st birthday, he got no more than a dozen words into it before bursting into tears. Mum told me that for the wedding speech he practiced and practiced so he could get it out without the same result happening. And I saw him nearly brought undone when he referred to my father-in-law during one part...looked over, as I found out later, and saw HIM sobbing with happiness.

Unfortunately I only have brief memories of that speech. The battery ran out on the video camera two speeches before his. That's partly why this particular mirror was so important. A tangible piece of his words I could keep. And his words are a big part of who I am. I mean that literally. I always thought we'd got our writing talents from Mum because she wrote great sci fi stuff at an early age. Reading my father's magic mirror I was completely blown away by his eloquence. The man has the soul and eloquence of a poet. As if those earlier gift examples weren't enough for me to recognise! They weren't. Not really.

Reading that letter I had the physical sensation of a lock turning in my chest. I felt simultaneously hollowed out and filled to the point of pain. I felt like I did when watching the play Wicked. Like I'd been watching this familiar old movie in my head for the last 31 years...and all of a sudden I came across the reel from a different camera. One that focused a few degrees off stage from the previous one and showed me a whole different viewpoint. It added layers and shades of meaning to old scenes, conversations and actions that I just didn't have the key to decipher before.

I was sobbing from the first sentence. I reckon I went into shock as my whole world view shifted. My voice, my mannerisms may be so similar to my mum's that the dog has trouble telling us apart but my face and my inner workings all resemble my dad. Mum really meant it whenever she said, “God, you're your father's daughter!” And knowing that, deep down, I could look at my father's childhood in that new light, put myself in his place and OMG! Blew me away completely. Suddenly everything and everyone made sense.

I made sense. There was a reason for the mesh. All of a sudden I could see what was mine, what was theirs and other people's in my life and how our individual meshes all blended together into a whole quilt. It's like I've been looking through the keyhole at my life and now the door is wide open. I'm wide open. And one line in particular that he wrote stuck in my head. “Some people have a persona of confidence, you are a confident person“

He's right. I've given off the persona of low confidence and hidden behind LSED because that's not what nice girls do. Nice girls don't have the confidence to stand up and say “I am as you see me.” Or “I'm not being a bitch, I'm simply saying No” To that I say BULLSHIT! Nice girls DON'T go along to get along. Scared girls do. Nice girls are nice to themselves as well as to others. And that means having both confidence and courage in themselves.

I've been an afraid girl for so very long. Afraid of what other people will say. Afraid of how they'll react. Afraid of what I'll say or do. Afraid of trying new foods or challenging old beliefs. Afraid of so damn much! That's not nice. That's heartbreaking. I'll be forever glad that I had the confidence and the courage to send those magic mirror letters out to people. And I'm grateful I had people in my life who respected me enough to respond in the vein I asked. Positive attributes they recognise in me. Now I recognise them in myself.

Self help books that I've read, magic mirror letters, therapy, my blog and its readers, blogs that I read, my friends and family, all of these are things that are helping me on my journey. But they all have one important thing in common. Me. Me and my courage to seek out and then do what I need to find myself.

I even found the courage to eat cottage cheese. But more on that later.

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