Size Matters

Or does it?…..

matters-of-size

What a joy it was to re-launch the blog last week. I really had forgotten how much I enjoy pecking away at the computer and posting my mental ramblings for all to read!

I funny thought crossed my mind this week regarding my memory…

When it comes to my ability to remember things…eh…I give myself a C. I suffer from can’t remember what I had for breakfast and can’t remember why I walked in the kitchen syndrome. My mental notes should be renamed “you’re going to forget it in 5 minutes so write it down now” notes.

I’m the queen of forgetting I have clothes in the dryer (Ugh…I hate washing the same load twice because I forget!) and the master at heating something up in the microwave only to find it two days later because I open the door to heat something else up.

However…aside from my lackluster ability to recall most things in my daily life with perfect recollection, there are 2 things that I have no issue forgetting…

1)    I have the psycho ability to recall numbers and numerical data like Rain Man…my first phone number was 845-1424…the Wifi password to the first Wifi card I ever had (circa 2006) was 833846904…My high school locker combination was 17-28-13.  Want to know my address as a 3rd grader? I can tell you that too. Want to know my great grandmother’s phone number? I’ve also got that stored in my noggin. When it comes to numbers, I’m weird.

2)    If I think about a time in my life or an age I was, I can tell you EXACTLY what size clothing I was wearing.  No…I’m not exaggerating. And not only do I remember what size I was wearing, I can tell you outfits I had during those years that were those sizes.

Yes, of course I can recall the details of many events in my life or periods of time. I recall the emotions and the experience, but the very first thought I have when I need to recall a certain time period is my size. It’s like a weird robotic, involuntary reflex….

“So Hannah…tell me something about…”

  • 6th Grade…Shirt size was Large…Went to space camp on a class trip.
  • 8th Grade…Shirt size was Large…Did a dance to ‘Sugarpie Honey Bunch’ in front of my homeroom with 3 other friends. (Ummm….)
  • The day I graduated from high school…Size 14…What a fun party that was.
  • Beginning of sophomore year of college…Size 12…oh that school kickoff party!
  • End of sophomore year of college…Size 18…My gallbladder hurt and I was so lost.
  • Junior year of college…Size 20…What a sad person I had started to become.
  • January 2011…Size 20, XXL…Start to this blog thing.
  • Thanksgiving 2011…Size 18…Started to feel different, but why did I still look so swollen?!
  • March 2012…Size 12…Glad I can now comfortably shop without having to worry about whether or not the store carries plus sizes.
  • The day I got engaged…Size 10…Most incredible day of my life thus far.
  • April 2013…Size 12, Large…Failure. Have to buy a larger size pants because my 10’s don’t fit anymore.
  • November 2013…Size 8…Whoa. Smallest I’ve been in my adult life.

Why?! What the hell is that thought process about?!

I am saddened that I have had such a warped way of reviewing and reflecting on my life. Why are the moments in my life so defined by the number on the label in my freaking pants?

Why is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the day I graduated from HS the size of the black ruffled dress I was wearing and not what a great accomplishment it was to walk across that stage with honors and the 6th highest GPA in my class?

I don’t want my sizes (past and present) to define me. Size shouldn’t be important. My life and the way I’m living it should be what matters. Thus we have uncovered my current struggle…

I’d love to say that size no longer matters…but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. Especially when I started to creep back up the sizing scale earlier this year. I’m still struggling with feeling like I look exactly the same in an 8 as I did in 16.

I have this weird meltdown when I buy things that fit because in my warped mind, fit means that they’re tight and tight means that I’m fat.  My brain thinks that loose equals skinny despite the fact that there’s twice as much material. Away from the mirror, I logically know that clothing that fits means that it sits close to my body (as it should!) versus rocking the saggy, diaper booty that I seem to sport when I wear pants a size or two too large, and that if the size is smaller, I’m obviously smaller. But, thus my backwards brain thinks otherwise.

Is it my psyche? The media? Photoshop? What has made size so important? Will the focus stop when I reach my destination? I guess only time will tell….

I am now 1 size…1 flipping size!!!…from the goal I set for myself when I weighed 248 pounds. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted the scale to say…but I did say that my ultimate stretch goal was to be in a size 6.  What do I do if when I get there?

Speaking of goals… I am 12…yes you read that correctly, 12 pounds from having lost 100 pounds. 100. 1-0-0.

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I have a feeling this will be the slowest, most drawn out 12 pounds EVER….especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. I can do it…I can do it…I can do it…I can…who am I kidding…I’ve already done it!

A triple digit loss is just gravy on the accomplishment train…a very healthy, vibrant, beautiful (low cal) gravy…

Have a great weekend, all!

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Hibernation Is Officially Over!

Testing…testing…is this thing on?

Any of you still with me?

Wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t…it’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything here and in the blogging world that’s an inexcusable sin.

I want to start this thing up again…but not sure what direction to take it. I really do suck at talking about myself, as I have discovered from putting my resume together lately. (Which I will gladly forward to all willing to receive…this chick needs a J-O-B.) Finding something profound to discuss got harder and harder as the weeks went on…I felt like I was supposed to have a major epiphany every 7 days and when I didn’t I found I was just writing to write.

Blogging was such an incredible outlet for me when I did have a lot on the brain and I guess I just put myself under entirely too much pressure to have something amazing to report to you all once a week.

I’d love any input as to what you might like to see, or where you think I should go, or if I should continue. Maybe it will just be weight…maybe it will be recipes or could be a ‘Dear Abby’ type of thing…I dunno. (Help me here!)

What I do know is this…I fell off the wagon for a bit…like 20 pounds off the wagon…So far off the wagon that I justified going to buy bigger clothes to not be miserably suffocated in my own denim. I was angry about it. I was angry when the number started ticking back up….I was angry that so much of my hard work seemingly went to waste. When I stepped on the scale as it approached and then tipped over the 180-lb mark I got really scared. Seeing 180 might as well have been 199…In my head I was so close to 200 again that I thought I might have a panic attack on the spot.

So as I stood on that scale 5 months ago with 186.0 staring back at me, a little voice in the back of my head said “That’s it…I’m done. I’ve ruined every bit of effort I put forth before. All the hard work and struggle is for nothing and I am officially a total failure.” Mind you I was still down 60+ pounds but my poor brain didn’t see it that way.

But as I’m all up for trying new things these days…I decided to take the opposite approach. I decided to put my big girl (though not quite as big as they used to be) panties on and refocus. I hadn’t made it this far for nothing and I sure as hell wasn’t going to ever step foot in plus size store again. Given the option to keep eating like a barbarian and injure innocent bystanders because I was wearing jeans 4 sizes too small because of my promise to never put one foot in a size with a ‘W’ at the end, or suck it up, scrape the dirt off my knees and get my ass back in gear…well, for the FIRST time in my life, I got back up.  And boy am I glad I did!

Photo on the left was taken at the end of May...photo on the right was taken on Halloween.

Photo on the left was taken at the end of May…photo on the right was taken on Halloween.

I’ve now lost that boomerang weight plus some and am in the smallest size I’ve seen in my adult life. Sure I’ve weighed 161 before but I think I was 11 or 12 years old.

Ok not really, but I do honestly think I skipped from toddler size to an XL junior size to plus size without stopping.

So why come back now? Why come out of hibernation after a year to rant and rave about my weekly issues or triumphs?

Well…not really sure I have the answer to that yet except for the fact that I woke up this morning with a strong desire to bring this blog back from the dead.

I want to continue to encourage and help and inspire those that need it as so many of you have done for me on this journey.

And when I hit my goal, I want to share it with all of you. You’re the reason I started this blog to begin with…to hold me accountable…reprimand me when I’m bad and encourage me when I’ve done well.  I’m sorry I’ve put that accountability by the wayside.

I’ll start with the weight again next Friday. Whether or not you want to see it, it’s definitely something that helps hold me accountable (and requires me to keep my toes pedicured). If I know I’ve got to post a big photo of what the scale says for the world (or tens of readers) to see, then I’m a lot more likely to choose salad over a (gluten-free) cheeseburger.

As for full on blog posts…well, I’ll commit to at least one a week. Some may be short and sweet…some may be long. Some weeks I might have nothing to say, some weeks I might post daily. Who knows…I’ll just let it flow on its own.

As I mentioned earlier, if there are things you’d like me to discuss or questions you feel like I need to answer (i.e. Q: How many French fries does it take to gain 20 lbs back? A: Not that many), then by all means comment or shoot me an email or a text or something.

So here’s to reaching my goal and once and for all giving my pudge the pink slip!!

“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you’ve ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” ~ Unknown

You Might Be Gluten-Free If…..

Jeff Foxworthy did his redneck style. I do mine GF-style. Minds out of the gutter people!

I’m in a cheesy mood tonight…Not that it has anything to do with the amazing queso fresco I just ingested – but in a dorky, witty, joking mood. Perhaps it’s because it’s Monday…perhaps it’s because the new job has me a little frazzled, but regardless, you’re the lucky one that gets to enjoy light-heartedness this evening…

So without further ado ….You Might Be Gluten-Free If….

…your bar tab went up exponentially when you had to stop drinking beer and start drinking liquor.

…you keep at least 5 kinds of flour in the house and none of them start with ‘W’.

…you can’t eat at a buffet.

…the smell of freshly baked pizza makes you on the verge of postal.

…Five Guys sees you coming and instantly changes their gloves.

…you get stomach cramps walking through the bread aisle.

…you question your ‘Southern card’ since you can’t remember what fried chicken tastes like.

…you’ve ever deliberately slammed your shopping cart into the Wheat Thins display in a fit of rage.

…you spend more time reading ingredients than actually eating the food.

…your happiest moment this year was discovering GF bagels at the grocery store.

…someone could rob you with just a club sandwich and Doritos.

…you’ll hug people with a nasty cough but keep someone eating a cookie at an arm’s length or farther.

…you’re considering converting to the Aztec religion, so people will accept your corn-worshipping ways.

…you pack your own toaster to go on vacations.

…you have written “CONTAMINATED” on containers of cream cheese.

…you’ve considered strangling friends/relatives who say “It can’t hurt if you only eat a little, can it?”

…you can find hidden gluten on food labels in the blink of an eye and some people around you couldn’t find it if they had a magnifying glass, a dictionary and a Ph.D.

…you burn your toast and eat it anyway because those two tiny pieces of bread cost $1.50.

…during the holidays, visions of guar gum dance in your head.

…you are afraid of spices and in restaurants, ask for your food “naked.”

…people think you’re on a low-carb diet.

…you’ve ever asked for a bunless burger and been looked at like you have 3 heads.

…you kiss your date before dinner instead of after.

…you write a GF blog!

…you’re feeling better than you EVER have in your life and still losing weight! Go me!!!

 

 

Still chipping away at the pudge. And I do not miss it at all!!

I’m going to work on updating my ‘Goals’ page sometime this week – but wanted to let you know the two new ones that I have set for myself in the meantime.

1)      To lose an additional 50 lbs by my sister’s wedding. Wedding is May 19, 2012…that amounts to about 10 lbs a month. Completely attainable goal – although I’m a little off this week – my next goal should help me get there with more certainty…

2)      To start working out. The scary thing is that I really am itching to get active. I’m imagining myself doing physical things and yearning to get a good aerobic sweat in. I’ve never wanted to sweat before so I’m a little shocked that I feel guilty about not doing anything at this point.

Now that eating better is second nature, I can focus on my other arch nemesis: moving my behind. I certainly need to work on toning and firming up. Nothing sexy about excess jiggle. And there will certainly not be anything sexy about loose skin if I manage to lose (I’m sorry…WHEN I LOSE) 100 pounds. I commit to you, loyal followers, that by the time I post a blog next week, I will have started my workout regimen.

 

Before I sign off this week – I want to mention something I mentioned last week…There’s only one day left and the way it stood a few days ago, it will take an absolute miracle (or divine intervention) for me to come out on top…but I need votes! Please go to http://jovialfoods.com/blog/7362654553-2/ and vote for #13 (If mine is your favorite) and help send me on the GF/culinary trip of a lifetime. (See last week’s post for more details.)

I really appreciate all of you that have voted for me thus far and helped to spread the word. Voting ends tomorrow (12/20) at midnight and results will be announced on the 22nd. Keep your fingers crossed that the next time you hear from me, I’ll have to add renewing my passport to my to-do list! What an amazing Christmas present that would be!

 

I hope that each of you has a Merry Christmas…may Santa bring you everything you’ve asked for and more!

“Faith is believing that the outcome will be what it should be, no matter what it is.”  ~Colette Baron-Reid

I Am Not Alone

I’ll get the ugly part out of the way first…another gain. Definitely time to refocus on the diet.

 

 

The next weigh-in will be different…and lower….I promise. (Headed to the beach next week and won’t have my scale, but will have a post.)

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Now…to this week’s topic…

I’ve had a few people in the last few weeks question why I do this blog.  Why I bitch week after week about my weight struggle. Why I post my weight for the world to see.  One person actually told me she was surprised I post a picture of the scale, and that I was glorifying being overweight, and that I needed to exhibit a bit more discretion.

Well first off…in case you were not aware, you are not forced to read this blog. It’s not shoved in your face as punishment.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with what I’m doing, but I certainly never expected to be chastised for opening up about something I’ve battled for most of my adult life.  If you think what I’m doing is stupid or immature or disgusting, then stop reading.  That simple.

Secondly, I am not attempting to glorify being overweight.  There is nothing glorious about my muffin top or my overeating.  There is nothing charming about weighing over 200 pounds or wearing plus sizes.  There is certainly nothing splendid about my cellulite or my poor self-image.

So why do I do this?

I write this blog not only to help myself, but to help others that might be struggling with the same thing.  Someone that might be fighting a weight battle or fighting a battle to be healthy.  Someone that might be struggling to find happiness in themselves when they look in the mirror.

I know what it’s like to feel like no one understands.  I know what it feels like to feel you’re fighting a battle on your own.  And I’m not just talking about food or weight…although it’s all sort of tied together for me.

As I have touched on in past posts, I have long struggled with depression.  It is quite well managed now, but I have certainly been through a serious roller coaster.

It all started in college. Off to school, not a care in the world, and certainly much more trusting of the world than I should have been.  I was happy…I was satisfied that I had graduated 6th in my class and was a freshman at UNC.  I was on top of the world…and that would soon come crashing down.

This next revelation is something that I believe I’ve only divulged to my sister.  The spring semester of my freshman year, I found myself as part of a frightening statistic.  I was the victim of date rape…I went out on a date.  I walked away from my drink, and ultimately paid the price for my lack of judgment.

No, I didn’t go to the police.  Yes, I felt at fault for the entire chain of events.  The aftermath and the emotional struggle that ensued sent me on a downward spiral in every aspect of my life that took years to overcome.  I fell into a deep depression and became extremely unmotivated.  I withdrew socially from those around me.  Since that horrifying incident in my life, I have discovered that the US Department of Justice says that one out of every four college women is the victim of date rape.  This statistic makes me sick to my stomach. It was an atrocious, disgusting crime that I kept inside.  This is the first time I have truly opened up about it in 10 years, because like many other women who fall victim to this crime, I blamed myself for its occurrence.

Hurting and embarrassed, I ate to suppress my feelings.  Food became my security blanket.  Food didn’t judge me or hurt me or leave me.  It became my safe place…and I went to it often.  I subsequently gained 60 pounds, which only fueled my self-hate and self-loathing.  Once on medication, the depression got better.  I sustained for a few years, and then felt like since I was feeling better, that I could stop taking anti-depressants.  You can guess what happened.

I continued on an up and down cycle for years.  I would stay in bed for days.  Depression ignited my overeating and overeating led to my depression.  I would cry for no reason, and then I would be on the biggest high for no reason.  I felt worthless.  I blamed myself for many things… being fat, being raped, not having my dream job.  I had even managed to blame myself for my great-grandfather’s death; Convincing myself that if I had called him like I was supposed to when my mom told me to, that he wouldn’t have died.  But since I got busy, karma fought back and he passed away.  I did things without any regard for consequences.  I had a hard time breaking through self-defeating dialogue I’d been replaying in my head since I was young…repeating over and over again if I messed something up that I was a “stupid ungrateful bitch.” That everything gone wrong was my fault.

I have been at the absolute bottom more than once.  It is a place that I hope to never go back to again.  It kills me to say that I know my darkest times have damaged more than myself.  I destroyed every ounce of trust with my family.  I temporarily devastated the relationship with my mom. I take full responsibility for the destruction.  I take full responsibility for the hurt and the pain I caused.  I have enormous amounts of regret when I reflect upon the turmoil that surrounded me a few years ago.  Depression has robbed me of a lot of things, but I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t gone through the depths of hell.  I’m thankful for my faith in God and constantly reminding myself that I would never be handed more than I could handle, even though at times I was not so sure.  I thank God every day for those amazing women that shared their stories and their struggles with me through 30 days of rehab, and helped me understand that others understood my pain.

I get emotional now as I type this, not because I’m embarrassed or upset about the things of my past. I am emotional because I have come so, so far from where I was, and I am so blessed.  I know now that there are no such things as failures, just different levels of success.

I want to be sure to mention one thing. The purpose of tonight’s post is not to gain sympathy.  I’m not writing any of this so you feel sorry for me. I’m not writing it to bring you down either. I’m writing this for the same reason I write about my weight loss struggle…so you know someone out there understands.

I have written all of this with a heavy heart.  I lost a friend from high school last week.  He unfortunately did not see that light at the end of the tunnel, and he succumbed to his struggle with depression.  He may have felt he was at that place I had been so many times…the place where you feel like no one comprehends your pain…no one comprehends your hurt and your despair. I wish I had reached out to him, I wish I had shared my story.  I wish I had portrayed to him how certain I was at one point that there was no way out – but there ultimately was.  I made it out.  Emotionally battered and bruised, I made it out.  And I made it out because I discovered I was not alone.

So why do I write this blog….because I can only hope that through sharing my stories and my struggles, not only tonight but in previous posts, that you know you are not alone either.

In memory of Scott McCreedy

12/2/81-7/22/11

“You can’t have rainbows without rain.”  – Unknown

 

 

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