((Part of the reason why I wanted to post this is because of the whole Marie Claire article fiasco (there are many more blogs talking about it... and if you want to share your reaction/link, please do so in a comment!))
I want to make sure that all of my readers know my POV:
While I'm blogging about my journey, I know that I am responsible for my content.
I hope my emphasis on HEALTH is much stronger than any emphasis I might place on weight loss (as someone who was obese, and now is overweight, my journey is about weight loss right now. There will come a time when weight loss is out of the equation. My blog will then be about maintaining a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle).
I want you to know that I am imperfect and that I still struggle.
I want you to know that this is a lifelong journey, and I'm still figuring things out.
I purposefully do not post my weight loss/gains. I do not post my daily calorie counts/burns. I do not post my measurements. For me this journey is about the emotional details, not the physical ones. But that's MY choice.
I am not writing from the POV of someone who knows everything and wants you to emulate my model.
HOWEVER, if you're going to learn one thing from reading my blog is that you must be HONEST about your thoughts and actions before you can change your life in a meaningful and enduring way.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I have food issues that relate to my family and its disordered approaches to food. My brother and I strongly believe that my mom was towards the anorexic end of the scale and my father was very much toward the overeating end of the scale.
My mom told me that she went from being an obese teenager to a sexy coed in college by learning the "push away" diet -- i.e. pushing her plate away when she was full. After she died, my brother and I talked about this and basically realized the same things -- that mom wasn't eating much, and especially as her back got worse and worse (she had 6 herniated discs; 3 in her lower back, 3 in her neck) more and more of her calories came from rum.
My dad wasn't a good example of healthy eating either -- with his work clothes still on, he'd march in the front door, head to the kitchen and eat a big scoop of peanut butter or handfuls of Oreos. I ate the same as my brother and father -- not just the quality, but also the quantity. Dad felt bad for me being an obese girl/teenager, but he didn't realize that he was contributing to my problems by being a horrible role model.
My mom used to tell a story about how, as a child, I was a very finicky eater. She would try foods on me and I'd like them one day and not the next. I'd eat a hot dog, she'd go buy a large package of them, and I wouldn't eat a single one. I wouldn't clear my plate. I would always eat around the meat on my plate, starting with the veggies first, then the carb/grain element, and then push the meat around until I was given an ultimatum. The easiest way for me to get praised was to eat what I was given.
At one point in my life, I very much knew my hunger. At 29, I feel I know so much about myself, about nutrition, about the science of it all, but my actions are relatively the same. As my dietitian calls it, I'm a "chaotic eater." And she's 100% right. For all of my victories, my eating still very much resembles how I ate before the Epiphany.
Before Mom died: Mom basically cooked a few meals repeated through the month that consisted of a carb/grain element out of a box (mac & cheese, Idahoan potato flakes, or stuffing), a vegetable, and some type of meat that was usually overcooked (her pork chops were grey). Breakfast was often something you could put in a toaster or microwave. Every now and then dad would cook french toast or pancakes (with a package of sausage) for breakfast. [[Edit: Mom didn't introduce us to a wide variety of food. The only bean I had ever known were Campell's Pork & Beans, tarted up with maple syrup and pineapples. I had my first real Bing Cherry when I was 17 and I didn't know what it was.]] Nutrition and balance weren't explained or modeled.
Dad's free range grazing: Dad had to be at the train station by 7:00, and so breakfast was often some sort of rushed cramming of pastry in our mouths chased by some Tropicana OJ before we had to catch the bus to school. We bought lunch at school and instead of making something healthy at home to bring in. I'd usually spend my money on pizza or in the snack line getting pecan rolls. We'd come to an empty house, and were left to fend for ourselves. Dad would get home between 7 or 8 usually, and if we didn't eat leftovers or something easy to make, dinner was often pizza, Chinese food, or McDonald's. [[Edit: Ms. Zeineb reminded me that I should mention here that my brother and father weren't adventurous eaters back then...]]
Cooking for myself in HS with limited options: there was lots of pasta dishes back then, and concoctions (whatever was in the fridge put together in horrible ways). There were a few things I knew how to make from watching my mom, but the proportions were still skewed in favor of meat/fats and fake stuff. I was limited by what dad had decided to purchase, which was often lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables. Eventually once I got my drivers license, I'd try to go grocery shopping for myself, but was financially limited. I also reconnected with one of my mother's friends -- the Pausewangs -- who ran the local farmstand.
Eating/cooking for myself in college with way too many options: my college food court more resembled a mall food court than a cafeteria with options like Burger King, Chick-fil-a, Taco Bell, Jamba Juice, as well as more "looks like home cooking options" like the salad bar, the salad wraps, the pasta station, the pizza station. Serving sizes weren't obvious. As a freshman, I didn't have a kitchen, but knew that the food plan would kill me. I knew back then that Jamba Juice was a whole meal (calorically speaking, not nutritionally speaking), not to be eaten with a meal. As soon as I had a kitchen in my sophomore year, I tried to cook for myself as best as possible but was still limited by space, time, and resources. Once I moved off campus to a real apartment, things got massively better and then worse because by then I was drinking.
Eating/Cooking for myself now: I'm trying to find the balance. I don't always succeed, but I have the noble intent. I think for right now I need to admit to myself that I am kinda lost. I have never written a grocery list -- I wander the aisles of a grocery store, or the farmer's market waiting for things to catch my eye. I still consider myself a moody eater (I eat what I think I want to eat, not something I've planned to eat). I don't keep much food in my fridge because of this (buying food when it looks appealing and then losing the desire to eat it the next day) because I hate throwing out food that has gone bad. I too often believe the excuse that cooking for one is labor intensive. When I do cook to have leftovers, I often cook for an army and grow bored of what I've cooked.
I feel like a hypocrite saying this because in my previous entry I stressed proper nutrition and having a plan. As you can tell, I do not have a plan. I still forage. I have a vague mental idea of the balance I want to achieve, but I rarely give it the time, attention, and forethought that it deserves. Nor do I have a way of evaluating the balance when I am not food logging (as I haven't been doing for the past few weeks). I spend more time worrying about being single than I do about what food I'm going to buy/prepare. At some point I have to commit to myself and say "this is important." Because it is. It really is.
But now that the hypocrisy is exposed, I'm going to take my own advice... Plan forthcoming....