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Contessa

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Food freedom thoughts, 6/30/20:

Here's a hot tip: the best thing to do on the morning after finishing a Whole 30 is to prepare a big batch of Whole 30 foods. Here's you, italian meatballs, spaghetti squash, and roasted butternut squash.

After 30 days of Whole 30 eating, I'm doing a by-the-book fast track reintroduction. Today was legumes (normal W30 breakfast; veggie and lentil soup for lunch; a smear of peanut butter on an apple). After this, I'll go back to classic Whole 30 for a couple of days.

Incredibly, even lentil soup tastes pretty good right now. :) 

I feel very grateful to have finished this Whole 30 and to be feeling so good.

I plan to write here about once a week for the next couple of months with food thoughts and re-introduction notes.

Tonight, it is a joy to think about eating in a way that is flexible, pleasurable, and life-affirming.

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Food freedom thoughts, 7/5/20:

I'm almost a week into my food freedom and am already learning some good stuff.

The first discovery is that, uh, reintroduction is tricky! No catastrophic eating has occurred (none of the former face-planting into a bucket of peanut M&Ms) — but my beautiful, orderly plans for the week buckled under some real world pressure, and I have not kept to the re-intro as I'd wanted.

The challenge came from spending most of this week with my boyfriend. We did a bit of traveling this week (my farthest journey from home since all this covid stuff began). And it was difficult to maintain a re-intro while spending time together.

There was a pita sandwich (wheat!) with tuna and sprouts and swiss cheese (dairy!). There was a veggie quesadilla (wheat! dairy!) with beans (legumes! which I'd already successfully re-introduced). None of it caused me any distress, but it did scramble my nice tiered plans.

Along the way, I resisted a spontaneous Wendy's Frosty and an unplanned bubble tea. I'll enjoy those items later — I just didn't want my first "treats" to be random "eh, sure" drive-through moments on our road trip.

Another discovery is that I want to try a new Sunday tradition. Starting today, I'll be taking 20-30 minutes each week to answer the following series of questions, which address life in general as well as Food Stuff. I adapted these questions from a coach I used to worked with. I'm looking forward to pausing and paying attention as essential acts of preparation for the week ahead. I've got a fridge full of my favorite W30 foods for the week ahead, and I'm also planning two or three treats for this week. I'll be back in a few days to reflect on those experiences with treats.

Sunday questions:

  1. What have I accomplished this week?
  2. Is there anything I wanted to accomplish but did not?
  3. What a-ha's or awakenings have I had this week?
  4. What challenges am I experiencing?
  5. If I were coaching myself, what would I tell myself about those challenges?
  6. How do I feel about my eating over the past week?
  7. What foods will I enjoy in the coming week? (this is my chance to think about planning treats) 
  8. What are my top three priorities for this coming week?
  9. If I could get nothing else done this week but one thing, what one thing would I choose to do?  What one thing would make me happy and proud?
  10. How do I want to feel this week?

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I love this - you are being so thoughtful about your approach, and the off-track meals have been learning experiences for you rather than complete derailments.  

The Sunday questions - I may steal this when I'm ready to reintroduce.  The journaling and thoughtful consideration of how foods and habits impact how I feel about myself and how I feel physically have been instrumental in my success so far.  I worry about the dark abyss post-W60 (for me).  

Congratulations on finding a strategy that is working toward a successful transition.  

On 6/30/2020 at 9:44 PM, Contessa said:

Tonight, it is a joy to think about eating in a way that is flexible, pleasurable, and life-affirming.

Even though you had some changes in your strategy over the last week, I get the feeling this is where you still are.  

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33 minutes ago, MadyVanilla said:

Even though you had some changes in your strategy over the last week, I get the feeling this is where you still are.  

Yeah! Last week didn't match my plan, but I stayed in the saddle. That felt good. And yesterday I cooked up a huge amount of W30 proteins and veggies. Grateful to be staying close to home (metaphorically and physically) as this new week begins.

I dunno, perhaps after 1,382 episodes of eating way too much junk food, I'm ready for a different approach.

Yes, please borrow the Sunday questions if you want to! Heck, no need to wait until your W60 is done... you can start using them now. Usually most of my reflections around food have been past-focused (beating myself up, regretting whatever it was I ate too much of) but I want to spend energy imagining what it looks like when things are working well.

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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!

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2 hours ago, Contessa said:

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.

Yes, I know exactly this experience that you speak of.  

 

2 hours ago, Contessa said:

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.

Hooray!  Here's to rejecting your old oppressive tendency and being actively intent in your choices, being in the moment and recognizing that you are in control! 

 

You are rewarding yourself with decadent coffees and chocolate-based treasures...not punishing yourself with sugar-laden, emotion-blunting, quick-fix bombs.  Perspective, vigilance, staying in-tune and checked in...We should be born with these things, not take decades to learn them! :lol:

 

 

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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.

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I keep checking for your weekly update...while I am absolutely indebted to you for your valuable insight on my log, I love reading about your journey.  I hope all is going well, that struggles are being surmounted (or at least treated with gentle reflection), and that you are back to sleeping well.  

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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.

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On 8/2/2020 at 11:59 AM, Contessa said:

(Is it just me, or are food issues waaaaaay more common than any of us let on?! Yes. They are.)

The shame, ah the shame!  I'm 50 pounds overweight, but I don't have food issues.  :blink:

I am so happy for you continuing to find opportunities to feed your core being, to support yourself in staying checked in.  It is a hard concept to put into words, but I definitely know it when I'm doing it well.  And when I'm not, when I'm petulantly ignoring myself.  It's like meditation, you wander away, but just come back and you'll get better each time you try.  Your serene, meandering walk down this path is evident.  Your "at peace"-fulness shines through your post. 

Your OA group sounds fantastic!  and just right for you at this moment.  Here's to a week of self-kindness and working toward goals. 

 

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"...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.

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It truly is overwhelming. I know what you mean about friends (and family, in my case) not coping and going off the deep end a bit - between Covid and the election, my American family is fracturing and it's so sad and frustrating to watch.

You sound like you're really aware of the need for self care and that is so much of the battle. I've been terrible at it, hence me being back here!

Take care of yourself :wub:

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The easy, typical days ARE easy.  It's those other ones, where something throws us for a loop, something unexpected occurs...that's where the growth happens.  I've been researching resiliency a lot lately - you've described a wonderful example of this.  It's not about being perfect, day-in and day-out, it's about bouncing back when thrown, whether that bouncing back occurs immediately, the next day, the next week, or the next year.  

 

On 8/10/2020 at 12:09 PM, Contessa said:

"...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!

Exactly!!  There is so much stigma surrounding disordered eating.  I'm just as bad calling it disordered eating, that's not appropriate.  Just over- and under-eating.  Humans find comfort in basic needs - food, water, shelter, sex...why isn't the Kaiser Foundation or The Times asking if people are engaging in more or less sex?  Or how many have cleaned out or redecorated their homes?  LOL, just thinking about how to normalize changes in eating habits so people feel comfortable being more truthful.  

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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!

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A lane lined with white daisies!  I love that you were so at peace with your grocery choices.  That thankfulness is truly an in-the-moment emotion and a marker of health and well-being.  And that you have found similar peace and gratitude through your connections with others.  This is BALANCE.  

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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.

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Rough going here in early September. I learned last week that cancer has returned to my beloved 75-year-old father. He had his first spin with this awful disease (multiple myeloma) back in 2014. He's beat it a couple of times, at considerable personal cost. He's had some unexplained pain this summer and now we have an explanation for it.

It isn't clear yet what his prognosis is. (Weeks? Years?) He meets with an oncologist tomorrow to go over his options.

I know none of us are meant to live forever. Science and skilled care have given Dad six active, high quality years since his first diagnosis. I am grateful.

And... it's all just a tiny bit much right now. I was already teetering on the edge of an existential crisis before finding this out. (I dunno, a global pandemic and extreme political turmoil and the looming failure of constitutional democracy makes one start to question assumptions, amirite?)

On Monday night, I ate ice cream and peanut butter cups for dinner. I was seeking comfort. Although the food tasted good, it didn't make me feel good.

The urge to start another W30 does surface up right now... but at this point, I think a full W30 is not what I need. Neither is eating ice cream and peanut butter cups for dinner. So yesterday and today I wrote out a food plan in my journal. The plan is simply to avoid snacks and what I call "freelance sugar" (candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.)

Today I'm sitting here chomping on cauliflower, brussels, broccoli, and garlic ground beef with spicy mayo (it's delicious!).

Honestly, if I could just eat this way 75% of the time, I'd be golden. It's simple, it's healthy, it feels great, it keeps me on an even keel.

Today is my parents' 54th anniversary. I hope they still have some good years together.

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After righting the ship and having some very good days last week, I see anew that snacking between is the start of a huge cascade of undesirable emotional and physical outcomes.

I'm not talking about "Enjoying a slice of apple with peanut butter after a 5k" snacking.

I'm talking about "It's mid-afternoon and I feel irritable with my job so I'll open up this bag of tortilla chips and suddenly look down and realize I've eaten 2/3 of it" snacking.

A new mini-goal for this week: No snacks between meals. Period.

I'll report back later on my findings :rolleyes:

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A good food week last week. Man, snacking is where it's (not) at. Yes, I'd like to be eating a little less "recreational sugar" right now, but I'm not bingeing, and I'm not snacking, and that is a good place for me.

One thing I have learned during 46 years on the planet is that we humans are depressingly good at justifying our own behaviors. Whether it's a U.S. legislator making up new rules about the when to appoint a Supreme Court justice, or a citizen unconsciously plowing through half a bag of tortilla chips at mid-afternoon, we are good at creatively cooking up reasons.

Speaking in general, snacks are simply not good for me. If I say otherwise, it's because I'm trying to creatively justify my behavior.

Let's have another good unsnackable week, shall we?

Cooked a big mess of compliant foods yesterday, and learned out where to replenish my Tessemae's Buffalo Ranch dressing.... so I'm set. Socially distant fist bumps to my W30 pals!

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