Eureka! – A New Challenge

Will start the post off with a few housekeeping items…

1)      As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve added a few things to the right-hand side of the page. I’ve linked my Facebook and Twitter pages to the blog – feel free to follow me! (Warning: Twitter is addictive. I’ve officially been on it for a week and I cannot stop. Think there’s going to need to be Twitter rehab in my future.)

2)      New Page! Look up…see it? I’ve added a page at the top that links to some of  my favorite Blogs. Most of these are Gluten-Free ones…but they’re all phenomenal! I’ve got a lot to learn from these pages. Make sure to check them out!

3)      Have suggestions? This blog is intended to not only fulfill my need for therapy, but to hopefully benefit you as well. If there are things you’d like to see added to the site, topics you’d like me to discuss, or things you’d like me to shut up about – I want to hear it! I want this to be an evolving site…hopefully getting better and not worse. Your feedback is always encouraged!

Ok that’s it for housekeeping…phew! That was tough! I don’t think I’ve done that much housekeeping in 6 months! I kid, kid! Or do I? 🙂

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So how was my week? Well…I had an absolutely incredible epiphany this week. Major light bulb moment…and a bright light too. Before I get into my slap-in-the-face moment for the week…I’ll get the bad part out of the way.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is an increase in weight.  Not making excuses for it – just feeling really positive about some changes in thinking that I think will pay off big time in the weeks to come.

As I’m typing this, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” is running through my mind. (Dad – I know you’re impressed by that Midnight Special era reference.)  Just in case you’re not sure what song I’m talking about…here’s your soundtrack for the rest of the post…Listen now!

I’m sure your bummed it’s not me singing instead. Your ears will thank you!  🙂

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Without further adieu – on to my Eureka Moment:

I can thank 2 people for my “moment” this week. One, an incredible author. The other, a Facebook friend.

It’s no secret that I have a love for food. I’m a Hayes. I’m pretty sure an icon for food is part of our family crest.  And I’m not only referring to my love for eating whatever is in front of me. I’m talking about my caviar taste with my Cheez Whiz budget.  I love good food. Quality food. Food that has been braised for hours. Food that has so many different levels of taste that your mouth doesn’t know what to do. Food that evokes so much emotion. Food that is so good, that if you ever were lucky enough to have it again, would take you right back to that first time it touched your tongue. Food that I’ve been replacing with nutrition-less, processed garbage.

One of the blogs I follow regularly is Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. The author, Shauna Ahern, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease after many, many years of struggle.  I received Shauna’s book (“Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back and How You Can Too”) last week. I have not been able to put it down. All that emotion and passion that I have for food – she also has. But she writes about it in a way that is far better than anything I have ever read in my entire life.  She is someone who has the ability to make you feel like you’re experiencing the taste of fresh lemons, or crusty (GF) bread, or the rich essence of truffle oil solely by reading the words on the page – and it deserves serious props. She has helped me to completely change my take on food and what I put in my body….more in a minute.

Second person (thank you, Jason) made a comment in response to my tantrum from last week that really opened my eyes to the way I have reacted to this diagnosis:

“Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can.. if you can cover all the base nutrients your body needs, it will cease food seeking behavior..”

And he’s right.

Both Shauna and Jason are spot on. What have I been doing focusing on all the things I’m not allowed to eat? Look at all the things I can eat! Am I crazy?! How preprogrammed for processed food am I?!

With their input – I discovered something about myself and my body. I don’t crave fried food. I don’t crave bologna or packaged products. I don’t crave frozen meals or fast food. For the first time EVER in my life…I’m craving what my body needs. Fruit, vegetables, olive oil, grains, meat. I’m craving vegetables fresh out of the ground, meat straight from the butcher, fruits that smell like paradise, seafood that has the smell that takes me back to my summers spent at Fripp Island. I’m craving olive oil so green it looks like grass, basil so sweet you want to put it on ice cream. Honey with the comb still in the jar. Cheese fresh from the farm. These are the things I want. These are the things my body wants.

These weeks since the diagnosis, I’ve been doing what I can to continue on the same path I’ve been on for years. Focused on making unhealthy gluten-free substitutes for the unhealthy gluten-full choices I was making before. That’s not what I need. That’s not what my body needs.

Great, so I can still have shredded cheese from the store. But I thought about it…The cheese is shredded in a factory, packaged, labeled, sent to a distribution center, possibly sent to another regional distribution center, and then eventually makes it to the grocery store shelf. How many nitrates and 35-letter preservatives are pumped into that cheese to make it last through all those steps? That’s not taking care of my body. That’s pumping it with foreign substances.

I want to believe that fruit from the grocery store is fresh. Bananas don’t grow in Greensboro…so how much time has passed between the time it was picked and the time it makes it to my plate.  If I didn’t pick it myself, I want someone to have done it a few hours prior.

I want a dab of fresh churned butter, rich and nutty, instead of half a stick of something called butter that is pumped full of a substance similar to Vasoline and completely flavorless.

I want fresh ground smoked paprika…not something McCormick bottled when Clinton was still in office. (Have you ever noticed how all cheap bottled spices smell the same?) I want fresh thyme and rosemary…the grassiness of flat leaf parsley. Not the nasty “Italian Seasoning” concoction that seems to outlast most water heaters.  (I bet Giada DeLaurentiis would shoot someone before having that in her house!)

I want meat that was cut away from the bone earlier that day. I want steak so fresh it almost moos. I don’t want the saran-wrapped beef on a red Styrofoam tray that sits on top of that curious, black, menstrual pad-looking sheet full of liquid. I want shrimp pulled from the NC/SC coast, still briny with delicious Atlantic Ocean saltiness, not something farmed in the middle of Taiwan.

I want the absolute best. I deserve the absolute best. And I welcome you to my new mission: Operation Unprocessed.

I from here on out, will do everything in my power to ensure everything I put in my mouth is as fresh and as whole as it can possibly be. I owe it to my insides.

Will this be slightly more expensive? Yeah probably. Getting meat from a butcher isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Buying high quality olive oil isn’t cheap…but if I only have to use a tablespoon of rich, delicious oil vs. a ¼ cup of the store-brand to evoke an incredible flavor profile – then I do come out cheaper in the end, and healthier.

The Farmer’s Market will be my best friend. I went this weekend. And this may be one of the dorkiest things I’ve ever said, but being there made me emotional. I was amongst hard-working farmers. Men and women with callused hands – evidence of tough, daily labor. Proud of their crops, eager to hand out samples of fresh raw corn and bright red tomatoes. I had visions of recipes running through my head. Thoughts of ways to use the turnips, poblanos and crowder peas. I was overwhelmed in a good way. A very good way!

I made my first purchase for Operation Unprocessed. Brilliant heirloom tomatoes. A huge bunch of basil for $1. Dirt flecked, firm potatoes. Fresh honey (one of my most favorite things in the entire world.) Sweet ears of fresh corn picked that morning. Silky, tart Camembert cheese from the Goat Lady Dairy farm. I was in absolute heaven.

Needless to say, the first meal on my new quest was divine. See for yourself….

Heirloom tomatoes, Camembert cheese and homemade basil and arugula pesto - delish!!!!

Not bad, huh?

How is that restrictive?! How is that a tough way to live?! I’ve been doing this all wrong. Operation Unprocessed is exactly what my body needs. This epiphany has unlocked the door to getting past my lifelong, manic problem with food. I no longer want to live to eat, I want to eat to live.  Who wants to take the challenge with me?

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Would You Rather…

Happy Monday! Get ready…this is a good one!

Here are the 100 Things I’d rather do than gain my weight back…..

  1. Lick a mile of asphalt
  2. Tape grapefruit halves to my knees and wear them around for a month
  3. Begin each day listening to an hour-long audio of Snooki explaining why Sarah Palin is right on the money
  4. Swallow a 9V battery
  5. Play strip poker with all my aunts and uncles
  6. Flush my credit card down the toilet
  7. Have my portrait taken at Walmart
  8. Get sprayed in the face with Easy-Off oven cleaner
  9. Forever believe that stepping on a crack would actually break my mother’s back
  10. Be either person in this conversation: “Hey, whatcha doing tonight?” “Boozin’.”
  11. Develop an irrational fear of Chapstick
  12. Drive a Duke blue minivan
  13. Go see the world’s most boring opera
  14. Fish
  15. Go see the world’s most exciting opera
  16. Have all my sentences mysteriously start ending with the phrase “Boy, howdy”
  17. Get kicked in the head by a donkey
  18. Be pen pals with a death row inmate
  19. Know only 75 words
  20. Start speaking like James Earl Jones
  21. Always have to answer the phone: “Yello”
  22. Develop a taste for cilantro
  23. Wear a “Home of the Whopper” belt buckle to a job interview
  24. Eat (GF) pancakes with no syrup or silverware
  25. French kiss a buffalo
  26. Constantly forget the words to the “Happy Birthday” song
  27. Have a 4-hour conversation with Keanu Reeves about guacamole
  28. Ski topless
  29. Get a tattoo of Popeye giving Bluto a lap-dance
  30. Eat a slice of real bread – and pay the Celiac-y consequences
  31. Drink cold hot chocolate with no marshmallows
  32. Make out with Rick Flair
  33. Have all my teeth yanked and replaced with gummi teeth   
  34. Listen to Barry Manilow singing Snoop Dogg’s greatest hits
  35. Give myself hourly wedgies for a month
  36. Be the designated driver at an Oktoberfest party
  37. Drink warm milk straight from the cow
  38. Get a tetanus shot in the forehead
  39. Listen to my dad tell a story about losing his virginity
  40. Wear a thong made of steel wool
  41. Clean a men’s public restroom with my toothbrush
  42. Watch a reality TV show about the making of a reality TV show
  43. Be a telemarketer for a year
  44. Pick up every piece of a Costco-sized bag of rice after a spill– one kernel at a time
  45. Take LSD and watch open-heart surgery on the Discovery Channel
  46. Eat a kitty sandwich at a PETA convention
  47. Spend a Saturday afternoon at Wal-Mart
  48. Cough up my own liver
  49. Carry a giant bag of bark wherever I go
  50. Think that I’m speaking Spanish when I’m really speaking gibberish
  51. Watch old people dance
  52. Go back to dial-up internet connection
  53. Wear Victoria’s Secret PINK brand sweatpants
  54. Vacuum my eyeballs with a Shop-Vac
  55. Get a full-body massage from Roseanne Barr
  56. Wear a Speedo to church
  57. Have my colonoscopy broadcast on network TV
  58. Be stuck in an elevator with a troupe of flatulent mimes
  59. Randomly call numbers from the phone book and demand “Who dis?!”
  60. Wax off 85% of my hair
  61. Do a 10,000 piece puzzle of a dozen polar bears break-dancing in a blizzard
  62. Put a sticky note on every object in my house, identifying its purpose
  63. Watch sausage and/or babies get made
  64. Wear Elton John glasses for three months
  65. Ask Tom Cruise about Scientology
  66. Glue my mailbox shut 
  67. Run barefoot across a construction site
  68. Watch nuns knit
  69. Repeatedly bang my knee on coffee table
  70. Create a flag that will represent my own nation
  71. Go to a toy store and try to purchase a Monopoly game using Monopoly money
  72. Go to Vegas and boycott drinking and gambling
  73. Pour boiling water up my nose
  74. Invent a new language consisting only of variations in the tone of armpit farts
  75. Develop an allergy to mittens
  76. Whenever I meet someone, announce that I’m the one who coined the phrase “coin the phrase”
  77. Sleep wearing a fur unitard and ice skates
  78. Tell Paula Deen she’s banned from using butter
  79. Go through a car wash with my windows rolled down
  80. Fit Rush Limbaugh for assless chaps
  81. Drink water out of toilet in Mexico City
  82. Call 4-11 and shout “Oh my God! He’s trying to kill me!”
  83. Pierce my lady parts
  84. Inadvertently be the cause of Coca-Cola going out of business
  85. Be a Pro Bowling Tour groupie
  86. After getting my drink on, wake up in a jail cell in a foreign country wearing a wedding dress that doesn’t belong to me
  87. Lose my CareBear
  88. Eat Coco’s dog food
  89. Drive with my seat scooted all the way up
  90. Go to Dollyworld
  91. Live in one of those houses where everything’s slanted
  92. Have the navigational system in my car start talking in an Aussie accent
  93. Super Glue a gerbil to my forehead
  94. Inherit the national debt
  95. Take a job as a change-maker in a video arcade
  96. Be glow-in-the-dark for six months
  97. Eat a plate of abalone, haggis, chitlins and head cheese
  98. Milk a cat
  99. Eat less and exercise more
  100. Write a list of 100 things I’d rather do than gain the weight

What a week! After a stomach virus (which I would have thought was a strange gluten conspiracy if it weren’t for the fever) – and I didn’t lose that much.

And I’m going to apologize ahead of time…but I need to vent this week.  I’ve managed to find some pretty decent substitutes for gluten-heavy items. Crackers are an easy substitute, broth has been and easy switch – but damn…after over a month I am dying for some good starchy goodness.

Sitting around celebrating Father’s Day yesterday, my amazing soon-to-be brother-in-law (holy hyphen that was a quite a sentence!) and I were talking about food. He’s quite the food connoisseur, which I love. A man that understands the beauty of the pork belly like I do….Mmmm!  (Sidenote: That ‘mmmm’ was in reference to the pork belly, not the man. Not that he isn’t handsome…he’s just already reserved by my little sister.)

Sorry, I digress….Ok, so we were sitting and talking about food…he brought up Price’s Chicken in Charlotte. If you’ve never been there, it is worth a trip around the world. My great grandmother (God rest her soul) had nothing on this fried chicken. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.  And I can’t have it anymore.  Not only can’t I have it anymore, but as a girl tipping the scale at over 200 pounds, I shouldn’t even be considering fried chicken. Nonetheless, I’d kill a man for the opportunity to sink my teeth into that greasy, crunchy piece of poultry euphoria.  So there’s one thing I miss.

Another thing…Nilla Wafers. Why? Duh…I live in NC and what do we eat for dessert in the South? Banana Pudding.  Once again, my culinary whiz aunt made the most delicious looking tray of BP for dessert last night. I was tempted…so freaking tempted to just lick the spoon. Alright, I lie. I wanted to stick my face in the entire tray but it was, as it should be, filled with Nilla Wafers. There was part of my Cool Whip-loving self that almost took the bait last night, but I would have been too sick to function for a few days.  Speaking of being sick…needing some gastric relief last week, what settles your stomach? Saltines. Sesame seed crackers on an upset tummy = FAIL.

I want some Carolina Treet BBQ sauce (stupid wheat flour as an ingredient), some lo mein, an authentic meatball, an everything bagel, gnocchi, a flipping beer!!

Not sure why this seems to be getting harder and not easier. I’m slowly finding some good replacements (Elizabeth’s Pizza has a great crust but I’m unsure of prep caution)…my sister made some great fresh spring rolls (sans cilantro just for me!)…but there is still so far to go with some of these “Celiac Friendly” foods out there. Get with it food industry! No one likes to eat cardboard! At least I hope not…and if they do, I’m sure there’s a rehab for that.

And…deep breath.

Thank you for allowing me to bitch for a minute.

Hope you all have a fabulous (and tantrum-free) rest of your week!

“A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.”  ~Author Unknown

Confucius Has A Credo…

Confucius Say…

…person who eat too much over the holiday need to quit cold turkey.

…person who employ low-carb diet is going against the grain.

…person who drinks too much coffee has a latte problems.

…person who succeeds in diet employs mind over platter.

…person who lives life as couch potato will likely raise tater tots.

…person who eats too many donuts dozen have a good diet plan.

…person who are butter lovers generally are not better lovers.

…person who eat too many French fries find weight ketchup to them.

…person who drinks too many fancy coffee drinks may get brewed awakening on scale.

…person who eats too much at Japanese restaurant might have sake weigh-in.

…person who doesn’t like bread overcooked might be black-toast intolerant.

… person who has successful weight-loss journey find it takes breadth away.

Breadth is still going away!

So after the mini-weight loss…here’s what have I learned this week…

Lesson # 1: – Eat at Five Guys Burgers.  Surprisingly enough, Five Guys has been a great gluten-free ally for me! I know…sounds backwards since it’s a burger place, but they are so accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions. They don’t skip a beat at all when I let them know of my gluten aversion, and are so good about changing their gloves to avoid cross-contamination. Might have to eat the burger wrapped in a piece of iceberg lettuce, but hell, I’ll take it! Fries aren’t too bad either!

Sorry – I know this is a blog centered around losing weight, but it has been so long since I’ve been able to eat French fries (they’re often fried in oil with forbidden things), so I certainly enjoyed the opportunity this weekend! This would probably be a good time to remind myself why my weight loss might have been so mini…damn, bovine deliciousness!

Lesson # 2: Dinner parties/family get-togethers are not so stressful afterall! Have made it thru 2 successfully in recent weeks…one that I had semi-prepared for, and one that, thanks to my amazing aunt, I didn’t have to worry about at all. Entire menu was gluten-free and it was delicious! I had forgotten what it was like to go somewhere without overanalyzing everything that was going on around me. Such a relaxing feeling…finally!  Heather, your hospitality was divine…and the rosemary cashews…Mmmm! I’ll eat burnt nuts any day!  (Haha…that sounds so wrong out of context.)

Lesson # 3: Apparently a blind person creates the sizing standards for women’s clothing. I decided to give myself a little retail therapy this weekend. What I want to know is who in the world sets the standards for these things?! How is it that an 18W is smaller, yes I said smaller, than a regular size 16?! And I don’t mean just a little more snug…I’m talking about so-tight-I-can’t-fit-it-over-my-left-butt-cheek tight. Yes, I know it’s different across brands…but THAT different?! Oh look…today at Target I’m a smaller size! Oh damn! Now at Macy’s I’m banished to the muumuus! Yay! Now at Dillard’s I can shop in the Junior department! No wonder my self-esteem is like a roller coaster when I go shopping! Prozac please!

I think it’s time for legislation! I think it’s time to write our state representatives and demand some consistency! Maybe it will give Anthony Weiner something to do in “rehab”….ah, nevermind…pants are obviously not his specialty!

Final Lesson (yes that’s right…I only learned 4 things all week!)  I am so blessed….blessed with an amazing support system…blessed to have such an amazing and supportive group who read this blog every week…A group that encourages me and motivates me more than they probably realize. I may not have all the answers right now…I may not have everything figured out all the time…I might have been thrown a curve ball or two along the way – but I’m still standing. It’s not about how many times I’ve failed at this before – it’s about picking myself up one more time than I’ve fallen down.

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

~Author Unknown

Box Office Flop

Happy first week of June! My favorite month of the year…official start of summer. My birthday month. End of the fiscal year. Beach weather. My birthday month. 🙂

I had the displeasure of making a video of myself this week. Ugh…talk about a buzz kill. Video may have killed the radio star but it also killed my confidence.  (Hope to be able to share the reason for the video with you soon…don’t want to jinx myself.)

I have always had this weird quirk about my personality when it comes to people embarrassing themselves…often when they don’t mean to – but I cannot muster up enough courage to watch it…especially if I don’t know the person.  (I know – that’s so backwards.)  During American Idol I have to turn my head away from the television when someone sings – good or bad. During talent shows I have to hide my face I’m so anxious for the person auditioning. I don’t know what it is…it’s like I can feel their nerves. Sometimes I wonder if I’m more nervous than the person standing up there belting out a horrendous rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly”!

With that being said – when I have to watch myself on film, like I did this weekend, then forget it. I wanted to bury my head in the sand. I thought I had issues with myself in still shots…haha – you have no idea how bad it is in motion.  Voice doesn’t sound normal…and my appearance….Well – camera is not currently doing me any favors! Certainly wasn’t sitting there watching it play back thinking: “Damn, I’d shag me.”

Oh well…that’s what I’m here for, right?! To make baby steps to get to the point where I look amazing on screen…should I have the opportunity to get back on camera that is. Keep your fingers crossed!!! (Wink wink.)

So the scale….oh the scale. Four months in….and apparently we’re carrying the “baby step” theme right on through to the scale numbers. Down just a skosh…

Sorry – looks like I took this picture in dense fog…216.4 is the official number.

So glad that I picked the hottest week of my life to decide to set a goal to “start” working out….went for a walk a few days. No, wait…I didn’t walk for a few days – I went for a few walks….whatever – you get the point!  But this heat is craziness. I was sweating just thinking about walking outside and standing in the sun.

I did decide to bust out a little Shakeweight action this week….I can only imagine what that would have looked like on camera. I’m sure it would have been America’s Funniest Home Videos worthy. While it does look like the stupidest, most ignorant piece of exercise equipment on the market (2nd only to the Thighmaster of course) – I’m baffled to report that it actually works. (There’s a great how-to video on YouTube if you need it. Although the motion is pretty self explanatory.) And my torso is extremely sore.

Hold on…I just said my torso is sore…this is for arms…Ok, so very clearly I am doing it wrong. But it’s moving something around in there. Or just twisting it weird. Wow…I’ve always known I was uncoordinated…but too uncoordinated for a dumbbell you jiggle?! Only me!! 🙂

Week was relatively uneventful otherwise…Gluten is staying where it belongs…OUT of my digestive system. And I’ve had some great recipes again since the last post.  Alex at Natty’s outdid himself again…Fried Green Tomato (coated in cornstarch for a GF girl like me), topped with jalapeño pimento cheese, black eyed pea relish and a shrimp.  Delicious! This tasty morsel, ladies and gentleman, warranted a bigger mama slap than the pork belly!!

Love how this has started to turn into a GF food blog…oh well – at least I’m not gaining! So, Alex…and any other chef/cook that wants to make me their GF guinea pig – I welcome the challenge!!!  Bon appetit!

“A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.”  ~Author Unknown