Fat Fridays: The Stories Behind the “Why”

I grew up in the North of Haiti as a missionary kid. Our final four years there was a very turbulent time for the country, during the time of Aristide’s presidency. We were there when the US placed an embargo on the country and it was a very difficult time of food, gas, and medicine shortages. 

We lived in a flat roofed, two story, concrete brick house at the top of a mountain pass (ok, it was really a very tall hill, but it had the feeling of a mountain, and the road was steep enough that it might as well have been a mountain.) We had a view of the Bay of Acul and the Plan du Nord, a beautiful plain dotted with rice paddies and sugarcane fields, surrounded by distant mountain ridges. I spent a lot of time outside, just gazing at the view, maybe trying to sketch what I was seeing, thinking a lot. 

We didn’t have electricity. We had a generator, but during the embargo we had to be very careful with our fuel. We would turn the generator on every couple days so we could get the water pump working. We had a utility room that was full of 5 gallon buckets and water jugs that my brother or I would stand and fill with a hose. This would be our water supply until the next time we turned our power back on. (I mastered the 5 gallon bucket bath.) We had a kerosene refrigerator, but no kerosene, so we just made do without a fridge. Our stove was gas, but somehow we were able to get the fuel for that. 

My mom was a genius at making do with what we had as she tried to feed the family on a very limited budget and very limited available resources. We had friends in the States who would send boxes of food occasionally and there was the local market place. By the time of the embargo, the few grocery stores around were mostly empty. I remember that my mom would buy a giant bag of flour and a giant bag of sugar that she would keep in a steel barrel in the kitchen. The barrel was to keep all the bugs out of the food. My mom baked our bread every week.

There were many times that we were unable to leave the house due to unrest and disturbances. While that sounds exciting, it was actually very boring. Imagine a fifteen year old sitting at home with nothing to do. 

Mom, I’m bored. 

One of my favorite things to do was look through old GOOD HOUSEKEEPING magazines that someone had sent us. They had so many amazing pictures of food. Imagine. Decadent desserts, fancy roasted chickens. Our diet at the time consisted of a lot of canned tuna and Spam, because that was what people sent in food boxes. My mom is a gourmet cook, but she didn’t have much to work with. We will never let her forget the “Sweet and Sour Spam with Angel Hair Pasta” that she made. One of the few times I think I just didn’t eat. 🙂 So, here I am, bored, looking at food magazines, wanting to make all these amazing recipes. I asked my mom if I could bake something. Sure. She handed me her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red-checked cover. 

Find a recipe that we have the ingredients for. 

Ok. 

Turns out, the only recipe I could find that we had ingredients for was simple sugar cookies. Sugar, flour, margarine. Some salt and baking powder. Eggs. Ok. We can make this recipe! I mixed everything up and then pinched some dough when my mom wasn’t looking. (Salmonella! Don’t eat raw cookie dough!) We baked the cookies. A bit too long. They were rather crispy. But they were sweet. It satisfied a longing. It pushed away the boredom for a little while. The cookies made me feel good. 

And cookies and other sweets still make me feel good. For a little while. Until I look down at myself and see the consequences of too many cookies. Check my blood sugar, see some more consequences. But how to change this life long habit? I’m bored. I’m feeling antsy. I’m not happy…food will make me feel better. 

I am discovering that it’s a really hard habit to break. 

Fat Fridays: Moving Forward Inch by Inch

This past week I’ve been fighting a lot of my food addiction demons. Mindsets and thought processes that make me binge eat or just completely not care about diet, health, etc. It’s been a bit frustrating. I’ve done the heavy work of recognizing my unhealthy thought patterns, but how do you get rid of them? Sometimes, logic is not enough to break free from a sugar addiction. Or emotional eating. 

I’ll admit that my diet went out the window while I’ve been trying to figure this out. Then yesterday, I went to the store to get a pair of jeans. I live in the South. It’s still pretty hot around here, but I know that cool weather is on it’s way, and since my weight loss, I don’t have any pants my size. So, I went to the store and pulled about four pairs of pants to try on, all in the size I thought I was, and low and behold  none of them fit. They were all too big. What?? So I went back and got the next size down and that worked fine. I don’t know if men have this in their sizing but women have these W sizes which are cut a bit baggier in the butt and thighs. So, I am a solid 16W, down from a 22W. I was able to fit one pair of regular 16, but another style was too small. 

I decided then and there that I was going to just focus on losing the next ten pounds and maybe with that weight loss I’ll be a solid regular 16, not just 16W. I’m finding that looking at how far I have to go to get to my Dream Weight is overwhelming. So, I’m just going to focus on the next ten pounds. 

I think, in all of this, I keep having to remind myself that I am human. Not perfect. And perfection isn’t required of me. I’m on a journey towards health and sometimes the journey is going to be backtracking and side trails and mess ups and just standing in one place for a minute. But each day I get to decide to try again and see if I can move forward another couple inches. So, here’s to the next ten pounds!

See you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: Working on Not Being Discouraged

Good Friday morning everyone. It’s early. I just dropped my kids off at school, and frankly, I would rather go back to bed than continue with this day. I’ve been in a funk all week. We had spring break last week and it was so nice to sleep in, take the kids to do fun things, and just relax. This Monday morning was especially painful as the alarm went off at 6:15 am and I had to drag all my grumpy kids out of bed again. 

This school year has five of my kids doing school in-person, one doing virtual at home, and two doing homeschooling at home. I think most of my homeschooling friends would agree that by the time spring shows up, we are about done (as in over-it) with homeschooling. So, this week has basically been me prodding, cajoling, threatening, trying to encourage my six year old to get his stuff done every day. Not fun. Not exciting. Not inspiring. 

My weightloss journey has kind of felt the same this week. Not fun. Not exciting. Not inspiring. My weight has decided to do a shuffle in a three pound range and the fluctuation is discouraging. I know, I should just not weigh myself. But, I waited the whole week I was making myself wait, and the scale still didn’t show any movement. I think my body is comfortable at this weight. I am actually at a weight that I have hung out at for quite a while in the past before the pounds started creeping on even more. 

If I step back and think with perspective, I can see that this is all part of the journey. Some days you lose, some days you maintain, some days you fluctuate. If I stick to the plan it will stay on a downward trend. I know these things. But when you’re already feeling blah, it’s hard to remember that. 

I was texting with my trainer the other day and she asked me what things I was worried about that would keep me from sticking to my weightloss journey. She suggested that I make a list, and then start working on solutions for each of those things. I still haven’t done it. But I’ve thought about it some. And I need to be careful, because I know that one of those things that derails me is discouragement from very slow weight loss. You know, when you are really careful with what you eat and you are exercising diligently…and then nothing happens. After a while you start wondering, Why am I even doing this? 

So, this is how I am combatting this dangerous mindset. First, I am trying to remind myself why I am on this journey in the first place. Yes, I am trying to lose weight, but I am also trying to battle pre-diabetes. This past week I had a fasting blood sugar of 93, which is just amazing as I had been averaging in the 130s before I started my program. I am also trying to get in shape so I can do things with my family. This past Saturday our family went on a four mile hike up, down, and around a mountain. I was able to keep up with everyone and didn’t feel dead or exhausted the whole time. I am also just trying to stop my food addictions that had me using food to self-medicate all my moods. That is no longer a driving force in what and when I am eating. I am counting calories, keeping track of carbs and protein and managing to feel full on significantly less than I used to eat. These are all good things that I am succeeding in. 

I needed to remind myself of all that. I also think I need to work on that list of potential obstacles and start brainstorming more solutions so I don’t derail myself without even realizing it.