Do as I say, not as I do.

((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 abou...

((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....

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14 comments

  1. You've written allot here, and it shows us allot about you. Minus the part where you do a happy dance for the Giants (I read between the lines), it is all good.

    There is so much to know and learn about food. I feel I know squat really. But I know a tone more than I did 6 months ago. Thus, my opinion is we have to make this approach to becoming more mature eaters slowly. Some stuff is obvious e.g. burm more than you eat. But allot about food is not so obvious and takes real effort to understand and apply.

    I just wrote a post about keeping it simple. While it is a short post I think it says allot. But even learning the simplest aspects of food may take years to feel comfortable with.

    I am not in a rush, and don't suggest anyone rush what they are not comfortable with. Just pick a topic, an aspect about food, it's uses, how to's, etc... and whittle away at that for a while. One topic at a time, a day at a time. And a Bears victory at a time dare I say?

    Anyhow, that's where my head is at with my own mission here. As for you I am not calling you a hypocrite. You do so if you wish. But labels aside, just keep focus on how you ended your post; YOU are important!

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  2. Great post! I know how hard it is to be open and honest but by doing so you help so many people who are dealing with the same issues. :)

    Easy planning tip: grab some cookbooks/or magazines, get some meal ideas (dinner- then lunch leftovers) and make a shopping list around those meals. I like keeping a list of favorites for those days when I feel like NOT planning and I can just look at that list to see what I feel like having again (and again) :)

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  3. Patrick:
    As always, thank you for being a great friend of this blog, even though we cannot be friends for the few times the Giants SLAUGHTER da Bears.

    "You know what you know." And I know that i know more now than i did at the beginning of this year. I also know I'm stronger and less afraid than I have ever been before.

    You're very right -- that food should be simple, or as my dietician said to me "live with ease and between extremes!" The food thing should be easy. It shouldn't require emotional energy to figure out what I should be eating. I'm obviously not there yet.

    And as you rightly pointed out, it takes practice. One day at a time.

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  4. TJ: You're so very right... but I don't think I had the mental headspace to do that before. Almost all of the recipies that I have in my book are dessert recipies. Everything else is "well what can I make with these 7 unrelated and random ingredients?"

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  5. You may not have a plan, but you certainly understand yourself -psychologicly and emotionally. That's a ++ in my books!

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  6. First off, ALWAYS love your blog :)

    Thank you for posting such an insightful entry! I feel like our families could have been neighbors ;) My mother died when I was younger too, and so dinner then consisted of take out or buffets (usually with a who-can-eat-the-most mentality between my brother and father. who are both skinny as rails. go figure, lol!)

    Also, I really appreciate you keeping the whole MC thing on the back burner on this post. My brain is getting overwhelmed with all the drama!

    coming to Fitblog chat tonight? Haven't decided if I'm going to show up early for the MC discussion or just the regular stuff...

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  7. Lisa: I'm getting to know myself better. At the very least I'm not running away from myself, or trying to hide my failures. I don't need to sweep things under the rug because I'm not proud of coming up short. I admit it and move on.

    Emily: I hope to come to fitblog tonight. I

    I haven't been following the whole MC issue, but after talking to my dietician (who was at HLS), I don't entirely know where i stand. I don't read any of the "big six" blogs, and don't know their stories. I also don't read Marie Claire.

    It's hard to really say what I want to say about the whole issue. My imperfect way of saying it is that the writers in the blogosphere have to be cognizant of their readers. If the exercise were just about blogging our own journey for our own benefit, there are plenty of ways to do so that are not visible to the public. There are plenty of things I'd want to include in this blog that relate to my journey that i purposefully DO NOT include because I think it might have a negative impact on any one of the emotional, vulnerable, or impressionable people who might read my blog.

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  8. Wow. I am even more amazed at you, now! And Bravo for having a nutritionist on board!

    Learning to plan nutritious, healthy meals; shop for groceries; store food properly; and THEN cook said food in reasonable portions so that it resembles something yummy takes years of practice.

    What works for me is serious planning, especially since I'm feeding a family of six. I sit down with the calendar and plan meals at least two weeks in advance, taking into consideration our schedules, pre-planning leftovers for those evenings that I won't be home to do/supervise the cooking, and making sure every meal includes a vegetable of some sort. Yes, it's a boring PITA, but it helps me to make sure everyone is eating well and that we have dinner together every evening.

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  9. Angela: I just want to point out that a dietician and a nutritionist aren't the same thing -- dieticians require more education and certifications than a nutritionist. I found one lady who was a dietician and her dog took an online course and became a nutritionist.

    That being said, you are doing an amazing job. Though it might be a PITA, you're doing so much to not just care for your family but educate them too. Can I be adopted?

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  10. Thank you for this post. I felt like I got to know you, and understood why my family eats the way they do. Convenience. It took a lot to be this honest, but hey we are all not perfect. It's a daily struggle.

    I've had the same problem, but I am not making lists and I bought the weightwatchers cookbook. I will be trying the first recipe from the book today for lunch.

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  11. Hello friend :) I've missed you and your blogs and of course you don't disappoint the second I start reading again you're talking about something serious and you have a wonderful well thought out point of view!

    It's funny, I started out posting everything just for me, so people could tell me what is good or bad, right or wrong and basically coach me - but in doing so somehow people in my non-online life ask me for advice and information, and I find myself repeating the same thing, basically that what I do won't work for them - and what does work for them won't for me. They didn't grow up with my parents and don't have my relationship with food, a husband/roommate with my husband's relationship with food, and so many other variables.

    I've always thought that above anything else your blog was all about finding your own health and fitness and encouraging others to do the same. You're awesome :)

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  12. Hi Robbie, great post. As always I love your honesty and I think the strength of your blog comes from the fact that you share your ups and downs, you tell it like it is and it reflects the realities of life. I love how your blog is not about striving perfection, but still about working hard to get what you deserve! I try to emulate this in my own blog by conveying that sense of imperfectness!!

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  13. The big thing for us was learning to NOT eat out -- even when we were broke out our minds after our son was born (and sometimes, this was a huge part of why we were broke) we were still eating out 2-5 times a week. Neither of us had very oriented nutrition growing up -- all of our parents tried, but everyone was busy, and I too came from a free-range grazing family.

    Now that I work at home and make time to plan (and cook) our meals before going to the grocery store, we're down to eating out 1-2 times a month, tops. They're not the healthier meals -- still working on the fresh fruits and veggies, and about a 1/3 of it is still boxed, but we're both slowly getting healthier for it.

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  14. Kyoko-- welcome back, my dear! Me? serious? pffft never. I think your POV is very clear on your blog -- it's not didactic at all. You talk very much about your own journey and your own challenges. And you do so with grace and humor. I am glad that you get that my blog is about me 99% of the time.

    Andrea -- I think weight loss/health gain is about those ups and downs -- finding a way to be okay with being imperfect, to not let it shake you. I'm glad that you get that and are doing the very same!

    Ashley -- I eat out a lot too. This is unfortunate. I mean, if they had a place where you could go get steamed veggies and fish nearby that wasn't an arm and a leg, I'd live there. But that just doesn't exist. And you're right, that's not good for our diets. I will try to keep that in mind going forward.

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<3 Robby