Contessa

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Posts posted by Contessa

  1. Feeling listless on a Friday night. I made plans to enjoy a breezy patio dinner at a restaurant with my fella tonight, but in the end we canceled the reservations out of COVID concerns. Infection rates in our area seem to be really high, and I am not sure I can handle two hours in public without a mask on, even if it's outdoors.

    "Your 'Surge Capacity' is Depleted — It's Why You Feel Awful"

    This essay has been making the rounds in my social media circles, including a repost from W30's Melissa Urban. It resonates with me. I continue to find help in hearing (reading) other people's reflections of life in the time of COVID. What is happening with COVID has upended so many dependable aspects of life for us. Particularly here in the States. It continues to be a huge adjustment!

    The article talks about building and maintaining friendships, and on building a "resilience bank account." I hear a lot of us here on the forum thinking in these terms as well. Gold stars for my W30 pals as we continue to navigate this challenging time.

  2. 20 hours ago, ShadowInTheKitchen said:

    It is becoming increasingly challenging for me to remain isolated, because I simply don't have anyone in a close social bubble who I feel comfortable enough to call up to visit with in person.  Isolation has caused me to see that what I miss most right now is having deep meaningful conversation with interesting people.  I just don't get that in my house, and my mental health is definitely feeling it.  I'm hoping that by taking care of my physical health and lots of good self care I will weather this low feeling I'm battling right now.  I know it will pass, it always does.

    I feel like many of my close friendships slid into neutral when COVID hit. Heck, those friendships probably aren't in neutral anymore, but are kind of rolling backwards down the hill as weeks melt into months, and months merge into one amorphous blob. Yes.... those connections are so important. Every bit as good for us as leafy greens. 

    Relating completely to what you've said, and I wish more people were talking about this. Thank you for reflecting on your experience.

  3. 20 hours ago, SchrodingersCat said:

    Anywhoo. I said to the hubster this morning that when I have to go back to the office (not this side of new year's by the looks) I won't know how to work in anything but PJ pants lol. Hopefully they'll be a smaller size at least.

    Relating fully to this statement. I heard someone refer today to jeans as "hard pants" — I laughed in recognition. Please don't make us go back to the land of hard pants!

    Hope you get a great night of sleep.

  4. This was a good week. Day by day by day, staying checked in with myself. Sometimes wobblingly, sometimes steadily.

    I took myself on a hot date to the grocery store on Friday night and paused as I noticed my cart's contents loaded on the belt at the register. That's always a moment for me. This is the stuff that will be fueling me over the next week. I usually can see all my grocery purchases at one time because I'm only shopping for myself.

    Looking at the foods on that belt made me feel good. I saw variety. Some fresh green stuff, some snacky stuff. Half a loaf of bread. A lot of whole foods. A bouquet of white daisies, because they're so cheerful. Anytime I can experience this kind of spaciousness around food, I feel grateful. Participating in a regular OA group online has really helped, as has meeting a new OA pal and having a good phone chat with her last week. As has participating in threads on this forum. Companionship with fellow sojourners helps me feel less isolated.... and feeling less isolated fortifies my food freedom.

    Today for lunch, almost without thinking of it, I enjoyed a nearly-Whole 30 meal of veggies and chicken, then noticed I'm getting low on one of my favorite Whole 30 sauces. Getting low on this mayo means I've been eating a lot of veggies and chicken lately. Good. Remember this feeling, Contessa — this is your lane!

  5. Taking note of your own interior weather system feels like a great win here. You're creating space between stimulus (craving) and response, which is a really important part of this process. Small steps are still forward motion. Hugs for you on this gloomy, stormy day.

  6. "...According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 36 percent of Americans report that coronavirus-related worry is interfering with their sleep. Eighteen percent say they’re more easily losing their tempers. Thirty-two percent say it has made them overeat or under-eat." — from last week's New York Times article "We've Hit a Pandemic Wall," about mental health losses caused by the fallout from the coronavirus

    I've got a good word for you, New York Times: the 68% of Americans say that they weren't overeating or under-eating were probably lying to your reporter!

    Last week was a good week, capped by a really bad day yesterday. There are some days when all the frustration and uncertainty created by this dumb virus simply accumulate and get to me. Yesterday was such a day. A few circumstances combined to make it a tough day. Chief among them was a lengthy catch-up conversation with a smart, strong friend who seems to be, well, coming unglued. By the time our phone conversation ended, she had texted me a half-dozen links on subjects ranging from astrology, bank collapse, and conspiracy theories, to pending natural disasters in Asia, and doomsday predictions from a time traveler who apparently came to visit from the year 2060.  It was painful hearing her trying to stitch all of these pieces together into some kind of coherent narrative. She is just not doing well, and I didn't know what to say, other than words of love and support.

    I gently ended the call, put my hand on my heart, and took some deep breaths. After a few minutes, I still felt completely flooded.

    After a while, still flooded, I turned to food. I ate more than I intended to or was hungry for. I know very well what I was doing. In that moment, it was a choice that made sense. I appreciate all my reasons for what I did. I didn't beat myself up over any of it.

    When I woke up this morning, I wanted to get this day off to a good start. I went on a long walk and listened to a good podcast with enriching content. I did the annoying series of low back exercises recommended by my beloved chiropractor (go figure, my back and knees are waaaaay more functional when I do them). I cooked a hot breakfast with protein and veggies. And, I already lovingly talked myself out of a mid-morning snack attack.

    I can't blame myself for getting overwhelmed yesterday. It is completely sensible that sometimes, our resources aren't quite sufficient for the moment. And this is a huge moment we're having, regionally, nationally, globally. I continue to put my hand on my heart, and I continue to reset.

  7. 20 minutes ago, MadyVanilla said:

    "If you quit now, you'll end up right back where you first began.  And when you first began, you were desperate to be right where you are now."   

    Holy cow, I love this! So true.

    I'm glad you got to get to the gym. My old gym, which I miss terribly, does only group workouts..... workouts in which attendees are packed cheek to jowl for an hour at a time (Orange Theory Fitness). They have recently thinned out classes so people aren't packed in like sardines, but I'm still very jittery about being in a small space with many people breathing heavily.

    Thinking about maybe switching to a nearby Mega Giant Chain gym that has heaps of treadmills, free weights, etc.

    ....Were people in your gym wearing a mask? Is that a thing that happens? I'm getting a bit listless with my extremely boring stretch/walk routines here, but I'm also trying to avoid this virus for as long as possible.

    I hope today is a great day for you!

  8. 50 minutes ago, MadyVanilla said:

    ...But it's ok, because for every non-compliant day I've had, I've gathered myself up and returned to what I know helps me.  At the same time, I'm getting tired with myself, repeating the same pattern, making the same statements in my journal entries, but not getting fully back on track and moving forward.  I have to remember that this is success - in the past, I've fallen off, given up, and not attempted to return to healthy habits until months, or even years, later.  So, let me just remember that I have had more calm, easy days over the last two months than I've had tough ones and let me be gentle with myself as I work through this holding pattern. 

    I don't know what this says about where I am today, but I literally lifted a fist in the air and shouted "YES!" when I read this.  :D Good thing I live alone and was not browsing the internet at a public library. So many important reflections in this paragraph!

    My therapist (a woman who should truly be inducted into sainthood) says that part of powerful behavior changes involves getting really sick of our own crap. We have to get sick of our own excuses and our own patterns before we're ready to shift. We have to stop buying what the old, outmoded version of us is trying to sell. I'm delighted by the sense of irritated boredom I hear in that paragraph.

    Speaking personally, my growth area isn't in picking ever more healthy foods to eat every day ("by the end of her life, she ate only pine cones and grass clippings! She was sooooo healthy!"). My growth area is emotional and mental.... noticing the compulsions when they come up, and reflexively turning inward with compassion instead of outward with a grasping hand. This is not about Cheez-Its, it's about exquisite internal kindness.

    For me, exquisite kindness is wholly incompatible with bingey behavior. They just don't go together.

    And of course, exquisite kindness is also the work of a lifetime. Practice, even when it's halting, is progress.

  9. You know, even if we know well in advance that a big change is going to happen, those big changes can still be disorienting in ways that feel really surprising. Your son has moved out. The dynamic in your home is evolving. That's significant.

    Your self-awareness here sounds so wise. I hope you can be extra tender and patient with yourself this week. Keep putting words to your experience, and if you are up for it, signal to a friend that you could use a check-in. You are worth all of these things.  ((Virtual hugs from your W30 friends))

  10. Food freedom thoughts, 8/2/20:

    Life is good.

    As I have worked on my Sunday Summit questions (scroll up for the Sunday questions), one desire keeps expressing itself... each week, my great desire to stay checked in with myself throughout the week. I wish I had better language for what "staying checked in" feels like.... When I am checked in with myself, I am attuned to what is highest in me. I am paying attention to my needs (not just whims, but needs). I am focused on the bigger picture. I am enjoying food... but also enjoying other sources of delight.

    When I am able to stay checked in with myself, things go better!

    A couple of years ago I spent some time in a local 12-step group (Overeaters Anonymous, or OA). The year-or-so that I found in that group was one of the most balanced and sane years in my life. Going to meetings each week and working with a sponsor got me into a good place. I was eating good foods in a way that felt pleasurable, flexible, and life-giving. My tendency to overeat, or Eat All My Feelings, lifted to a huge degree.

    I think this came from regularly being in a room with people, making eye contact with them, and losing some of my internally created shame around food issues. (Is it just me, or are food issues waaaaaay more common than any of us let on?! Yes. They are.)

    The hitch for me with the 12-step group was all the God stuff. After about a year, that part got really hard for me. I've known for a long time that I have even more God issues than I do food issues (haha). Some of the most vocal and passionate members of the group took a very literal approach to the 12 steps and the Big Book. Group meetings started to feel to me a little like church services. (Right down to the reading of sacred "scripture" and the passing of the basket!) The particular group I was in had a very serious "once an addict, always an addict" mentality that was hard for me to accept. I gradually slipped away from the group.

    I didn't trip head-first into a vat of peanut M&Ms when I left the group, but I did miss the structure of the meetings. I missed having time each week to self-assess out loud, and I missed the freedom that came from  being in a room with people who were all thoughtful, and cared about taking a skillful approach to their relationship to food.

    Then COVID hit and the thought of assembling in room with any group of people felt like a bad idea.

    Three weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, I thought, "Hmmm, it might be nice to see if there are any online OA meetings I could anonymously show up to." I did a little poking around and found a Saturday morning "secular" OA group. When I dialed into the group, I found that I was sitting in on the very first gathering of this particular group. It drew attendees who had also dropped out of traditional 12-step groups. Attendees who had never tried any sort of 12-step group. One attendee was the child of a pastor, like me, and had spiritual baggage that had expressed itself over the years through food. Innnnnnnnteresting!

    One of my core beliefs about humans is that we are "spiritual beings having a human experience." Food, for me, is not just about calories and nutrients. It is about trust, delight, safety, generosity, care.

    I am once again finding freedom and joy in these group conversations, that reflect this reality in all its variety and depth.

    Since that first meeting a few weeks ago, I've discovered quite a few unorthodox online gatherings of "freethinkers," atheists, agnostics, and spiritual-but-not-religious people who find value in talking about their relationships with food. (Google "secular OA" to find these.) It's been great (especially that Saturday morning meeting). I view these meetings as a nice way to support my goal of "staying checked in" with myself. I don't have a sponsor at this point, and I am highly ambivalent about working the 12 steps in the traditional way, but I love hearing the different ways that people talk about life via food.

    And food-wise, I'm doing okay. My sleep has normalized again (thank goddess). And a big sheet of cooked diced butternut squash is cooling in the kitchen even at this moment. :)

    My goals for this week:

    • Eat 3 meals a day only (I have been borderline careless about snacking for the past couple of weeks
    • Replace about 30% of the low-nutrient meals I'm having with Whole30 meals. There's nothing wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every now and then, but I don't want to start devoting regular meal slots to them.

    I'm still leaning heavily on my Whole30 meal template and finding those meals so satisfying. I do want to preserve more of my appetite for really high nutrient foods because I feel better with them.

    Wow, this turned into a long post, didn't it? Wishing a flavorful and joyful week to my Whole30 friends.

  11. Ms. Vanilla, you and I may be Separated at Birth Food Sisters or something... I relate so fully to what you've written here.

    And I'm so glad you are writing here. There is gold for you in the writing, and gold for others in the reading. I came across a quote today that supports your affection for journaling: "You cannot think what you cannot say." Basically, we can think and feel all day long, but the real value is in the expression of those thoughts and feelings. Stuff gets real when we put it into language.

    I love your list of healthy behaviors. I like the idea of reviewing these daily — using them as a touchstone around mealtimes.

    One practice I've spent some time with is mindfulness meditation. One of the meditation teachers I love (Sharon Salzburg) talks in a very permission-giving way about the work of meditation. Once she said something like, "So, we sit, and we breathe. At some point we notice that our minds have wandered and our attention has scattered. So, we gently bring our attention back to the breath. That's it, that's the whole practice." She was sort of saying that you aren't only succeeding if you sit and keep your mind perfectly tranquil for an unbroken hour, or if you levitate off the ground and a dove lands on your head. Meandering off the path and then getting back on the path is part of success.

    We need food to live. There is necessarily so much gray area in our relationships with food. We notice that we have wandered, our attention has become diffuse, we realize that we may need something other than what we're getting. That's it, that's the whole practice.

    I love your list for all the blessings it includes. For me, dodgy foods lose some of their luster when I am able to connect with the spirit of gentleness and self-understanding I find in that list. Would that we could bring that sense of blessing to every meal and every snack. That's the real work, right?

  12. 2 hours ago, MadyVanilla said:

    When I feel like eating a food that I know is not in line with my goals, go walk up and down the stairs first and see if the food is worth potentially giving that up. 

    Hoo boy, that seems like a powerful comeback to those persistent "let's just eat everything" thoughts.
    Maybe the food is worth it, maybe it isn't.
    Either way, it's really nice to take a moment to ask the question. A huge amount of growth and strength can come from the moments where we simply pause.

    2 hours ago, MadyVanilla said:

    I think partially I'm punishing myself for struggling over the last week. 

    This resonates a lot. One argument I've had recently with myself is that thinking about the crappy food is not the same thing as swan-diving into a bucket of the crappy food. I realized yesterday that I've been mentally hard on myself for the past week for just having a complicated history with food. Geez. That seems kind of cruel, doesn't it?

    Maybe the point is to just be really kind and tender to ourselves, whatever we're eating. I can't float the argument that a global pandemic is an excuse for me to abandon all sense and all boundaries. However, it is true that our minds, bodies, and hearts are dealing with a lot these days. Even those of us who are not emergency room nurses are navigating profoundly uncertain and unsettling times. When I can tap into even a shred of patience, self-compassion, and curiosity, that's where I find the breathing space I need.

  13. YES to this. It is useful to realize that a restart is almost always accessible.

    I've been getting lazy about my post-Whole30 snacking this week. A little bite here, a little snack there, and eventually I wind up back in the land of full-time freelance grazing. Ugh. Sure enough, this afternoon I reached into a bag of tortilla chips and pulled out a fistful. Then I thought, "Wait. Do I really want to do this?" and the answer was resoundingly "NO." So I put the tortilla chips back in the bag. Heh. There are always more options available than my brain would like for me to believe.

  14. 31 minutes ago, MadyVanilla said:

    I feel lost and empty.  A post vacation let-down, with no direction, nothing to look forward to.  All the days are the same, boring, too hot to even go to the beach, no one around.  It doesn't help that my son is getting ready to move into his own place, so we'll officially be empty-nesters.  I need to re-find my motivation and direction.  

    Just wanted to raise my hand here and say..... yep. Circumstances are a little different, but feeling tone is the same. What you are saying makes complete sense.

    I am continually struck by how powerfully this virus has altered our deeply entrenched patterns. It's obliterated some of the things that used to bring us joy every day, and it's offered different sources of joy. I'm feeling listless and grumpy about my lack of vacation this summer. I've been wasting far too much time on social media and pointless phone games, and wondering just how bad this thing is going to get.

    "Something that Miranda July said in an interview was that this moment is like the ultimate creative prompt. And there’s been this whole interesting conversation... about the tension between feeling that we’re trapped inside so we should be unbelievably creative and finding this to be the ultimate nervous, anxious distraction."

    That quote comes from a podcast I really like, The Ezra Klein Show, an episode called "Jenny Odell on nature, art, and burnout in quarantine." I plan to listen to this later. I think it will help me better understand how to think about this next phase of the pandemic, with its annoyingly unbroken stretches of hot days.

    Sorry for content that has zilch to do with the Whole 30. I just wanted to offer a note of empathy. Hang in there and let us know how things progress!

  15. Whew. It's Thursday and I am ready to reset! I don't know what the deal is, but I have slept poorly for the past couple of nights after enjoying some decadent homemade ice cream. Last night, I had legitimate acid reflux in the middle of the night! It was only the second time in my life that I've experienced that particular barrel of monkeys. (If you've never experienced acid reflux, don't rush out and experience it. It's really awful.) I don't feel like I had eaten a ton of ice cream, but whatever I ate was not loved by my body.

    This morning, after a fitful night of sleep, before I had even changed out of my pajamas, the decadent homemade ice cream went right into the garbage. Yep, there it is, melting all over yesterday's coffee grounds and eggshells.

    I have been feeling too good to sacrifice for that ice cream. That was decidedly #NotWorthIt. So thankful to have the framework of good W30 meals to fall back on. Onward, upward.

  16. This list of NSVs is excellent! Your focus and resolve are inspiring.... Not to mention your relationship with black coffee. I have always aspired to be someone who relished black coffee, but I have never managed to make it work. It is wonderful how sensitive the Whole 30 makes your palate. We can find layers of flavor — no need to pave over the coffee flavor with gallons of cream! I love this NSV for you.

    Also so excited about your energy and motivation, your physical ease, your joyful bike riding — that NSV feels so freeing and wonderful! So glad you captured this list. Keep up the good work!

  17. Food freedom thoughts, 7/13/20:

    A good week of eating last week. Like last week, it didn't feel like a "perfect" Whole 30 week, but it felt... enjoyable and sustainable.

    Mentally, I'm struggling a bit with the concept of subbing in delicious but nutrient-poor foods for the slightly less-delicious, nutrient-dense foods of the Whole 30. That white flour burger bun enclosing my turkey burger? It isn't as nutritious as, say, the diced sweet potato or the lettuce leaves I may have enjoyed in its place before. How am I with that? Is the white flour burger bun so enjoyable that I have to have it? I tell you, it feels good to eat very nutrient-dense foods for 3 meals/day.

    I did enjoy some "treats" over the past week, and they were delightful. It was a fun new experiment to think ahead about treats, and to allow a treat to be a treat. To not lose an entire day to an unbroken parade of treats. I really enjoyed the treat experiment. I enjoyed big fluffy coffees in the morning with real cream, but only twice over the course of a week. I did have a delicious chocolate chip cookie, but only one time after dinner. (It was good, but still not as delicious as chocolate chip cookies of my memory! Interesting.)

    My main goal for last week was to stay checked in with myself throughout the week. Staying checked in with myself is an ongoing aspiration. I know on a physical and mental and emotional level how it feels to stay checked in with myself. The knowledge has been hard won. Over the years, I have accumulated deep experience in hitting the "eject" button from difficult situations, and eating self-destructively in an effort to escape the most frustrating aspects of my reality. I don't want to do that anymore.

    Repeatedly hitting the eject button over many previous years has relieved the frustration of the moment — but only by swapping one type of frustration for another. The frustration with my coworker's ineptitude, for example, is replaced by irritation toward myself for eating too much. I have had this self-punishing experience more times in decades past than I can count.

    This week, I absolutely felt that familiar wish to hit the eject button, but I didn't hit the button. I did pause to notice what I was thinking and feeling. I did stop and talk kindly to myself. I did write in my journal: "I refuse to punish myself for how stupid the world is." (Ha!) Cheers for coping strategies. Cheers for uncoupling the emotional response from the food behavior.

    Years ago, a writer friend taped a quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes to the wall of her writing room: "I love my creative life more than I love cooperating with my own oppression." "Cooperating with my own oppression" — who among us doesn't understand what that feels like?

    Another quote from the fierce Carolyn Myss: "You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you'll get to tomorrow. Intention without Action is useless." Yep. Praise the Lord and pass the ghee, that's the truth.

    Goals for this week:

    • Eat 3 meals a day with no snacks
    • Continue to enjoy Whole 30 meals throughout the week
    • Stay checked in with myself!
  18. Glad that you are ruminating on these questions. It seems like changing our habits or maintaining good habits does require this level of cogitation — what's working right now? where am I going to run into resistance? Where am I swimming with the current, and where is the current carrying me farther away? I'm excited to hear these layers of exploration. Bravo!