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

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If I’d Only Known Then What I Know Now…

My, how time flies. It seems just like yesterday that I was a 10 year old kid, going for bike rides in Sardis Woods. Time was spent playing outside and daydreaming about boys in Teen Bop magazine. Summers were spent on the beach with no care about what was poking in or out of my bathing suit. Those were all good times and my only dread was finding out that we were having something gross for dinner.

Me - Around age 10.

Then one day it dawns on you that you’ve made quite a few mistakes over the course of your life, only now you’re wise enough to label them as “experience” instead of “mistakes”.  Whether your mother sits you and your sister down for an EE (educational experience) on an article she read regarding an uptick in deviant teenage behavior or you find out on your own in 8th grade that sneaking out at 1am with your best friend will lead to you being grounded – you learn. Hopefully. This weight loss journey thus far has let me to reflect on a lot of the lessons I should have learned a lot sooner in life. And with that I present you with another list of…

The 40 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Younger:

  1. Don’t do anything to lose weight you can’t continue for life; the weight will just come back and HUNT YOU DOWN!
  2. Food isn’t a best friend, soother, lover or caretaker. It’s just food. Energy. Fuel.
  3. If berating myself really worked, I’d be thin as a Pixie stick. It didn’t. I wasn’t. Stop it.
  4. What other people might think of me is none of my business.
  5. Fat-free is not the answer. Snackwells will expand your @ss.
  6. Self-esteem is an inside job.
  7. Don’t let high school PE classes sour you on physical activity. Exercise is AWESOME. Those tacky gym suits are not.
  8. Eat whole, real, identifiable food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
  9. When you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel.
  10. You are enough. Just as you are. Today. Treat yourself like it.
  11. Prioritize your spending. A good pair of athletic shoes that you use will make you look better longer than a Brazilian blow-out.
  12. To thine own self be true. No one else will ever care about you as much as you do.
  13. Be charitable. There is always something you can give away – be it your dollars or your time.
  14. Be present in your own life. This is it. Now. Don’t wish it away.
  15. Don’t lose weight to get attention or please someone else. The only person involved in weight loss is you. (And anyone who treats you differently because you’ve lost weight isn’t worth your time.)
  16. There is life after high school/college. Don’t let those successes or failures determine the course of your life. Don’t rest on your laurels nor wallow in your failures.
  17. Even if it is all screwed up now, it doesn’t have to be that way forever.
  18. Never cosign. Ever.
  19. In consciously seeking healthy foods we like (or better yet love) to fulfill our real hunger, we’ve chosen to create opportunities versus destroy abilities.
  20. Learn boundaries – your own and others.
  21. Hard times, bad situations and bad moods will ALWAYS pass. ALWAYS.
  22. Drinking alcohol can be lots of fun, but hangovers really, really, really suck.
  23. Crying is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  24. Love is sometimes neither kind, nor patient, and especially not gentle. Love hurts. There is no getting around it.
  25. Disappointments are very often blessings in disguise.
  26. What people remember about you most is how you made them feel.
  27. You only have one family. Yes they are yours and they are not going away. Get used to it.
  28. Champagne, vodka, gin and beer don’t mix well.
  29. If he’s not ever calling before 11 p.m., he’s not interested in a real relationship.
  30. If you don’t have the money to pay cash for it, don’t buy it.
  31. Box dye jobs look like box dye jobs (especially if you’re going for blonde).
  32. Eyebrows really don’t grow back if they’re overly tweezed.
  33. Nude underwear is really the only acceptable color to wear under white pants.
  34. This moment — however good or bad it is — will be just a blip on the radar two years from now.
  35. A teaspoon is not the same thing as a tablespoon.
  36. Buying it one size too small won’t make you lose weight any faster.
  37. Learn to appreciate the contrast in life. If every day was Saturday and I could eat chocolate cake and pizza for every meal, wouldn’t that lose its appeal after a while?
  38. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  39. Being fat doesn’t mean you’re defective, broken or damaged. It just means you haven’t learned how to take care of yourself yet.
  40. What matters is not where you start but where you finish.

Making more and more progress! Being forced to eat differently because of my celiac disease is definite doing wonders for my waistline – and my bad habits.

I’ve got things under control at home but out and about is a different story. Went to a wedding this past weekend, and I got angry. Soooo angry! All around me were plates of mac & cheese, rolls, chicken fingers and stuffed mushrooms. People were laughing over beers and cake pops. I was banned to the raw vegetable tray while sipping wine. Yes, I do feel much better so it’s definitely for the best. As my first event since diagnosis, it was hard. I was sad. I was pissed off. Yes there were tears shed. I didn’t have a chance to prepare ahead of time and research each and every ingredient before I got there. I felt like I was on a float in the middle of the ocean…Overwhelmed. My world was spinning.

I shouldn’t let food have this effect on me. And in actuality, it’s not all about the food. I’m in mourning. I’m mourning the care-free attitude I can now have at events. I can’t just go and toast with friends over fondue or throw back a beer at a football game over Bojangle’s chicken. I know I can make “arrangements”. But I don’t want to make arrangements…I want to just go and not worry about it. Those days are gone…and while I’m making it work, it isn’t without grief.

Nonetheless, I’m still feeling better than ever. Even my joint pain has disappeared! This has solved a lot of problems I’ve been suffering from for years. At the end of the day, this may not be an easy road, but it sure will be worth it!

Until next time…

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posting My Starting Weight: Humiliation or Liberation?

Well there it is…in all its glory…the scale.  I can’t hide behind the number anymore…can’t secretly write it down in a little journal or notebook for no one else to see but myself. Though posting what I actually weigh is causing some unnecessary anxiety – it’s quite freeing!  I will say with 100% certainty that I will NEVER see this number on the scale again. (On a side note…I apologize for the poorly pedicured feet!)

Part of me is afraid that some people might have the “OMG she weighs how much?!” response…(hell, I had the same response when I stepped on the scale this morning!)..but I keep reminding myself that I can’t fix what I’m not honest about…well, that and I’m pretty sure that no one looks at me and says “Hmmm…I thinks she weighs 130 lbs.”

Those of you that know me the best know I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life “trying” every diet, juice, pill or other gimmick on the market. While some of them are promising…I am sad to report that eating raw vegetables for the rest of your life isn’t feasible, liquid diets are miserable, cabbage soup is a horrible way to live (for both you and those around you) and most disappointing of all: taking QuickTrim does not make you look like a Kardashian. Really bummed about the last one – I was really hoping to look like Kim Kardashian by Valentine’s Day!

I’m fed up with the yo-yo dieting and roller coaster weight battle I’ve been fighting.

I want to shop in a normal store. I want to like pictures of myself instead of having to un-tag myself in them to prevent showing 14 chins instead of 1. I want to wear shorts in the summer (confidently that is). I want to wear undergarments that are cute and dainty, not ones that are on the verge of being industrial (Ok so, yes I have cute ones – Sorry, Dad – but is frilly underwear really that cute in a size 18?!). I want to look in a full-length mirror with satisfaction instead of despair. I want to stop thinking mean thoughts when I see skinny women. I want to be able to say my weight out loud with pride. I want to say “I used to be overweight.”  I want my boobs to stick out more than my stomach when I’m sitting down and not the other way around. I want to feel the power of accomplishment. I want to stop wearing out the thigh of my jeans before anything else. I want to wear cute boots that actually fit over my calves. I want to live longer. I want to stop giving excuses as to why I haven’t succeeded before.  I want to change my life.

Wait a minute…no, I don’t want these things…I WILL DO these things!!!

After only 1 day of this blog officially being online, I can feel in my soul that this time is different. I have already made better decisions with my “followers” in mind. I can’t wait to share my success! It’s so motivating to know that I have cheerleaders out there!

Until next time…