Musings on body image and excuses

6 Jan

For as long as I can remember I have considered myself “fat.”

Even when I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be “fat” I was certain that I was. I was told not to eat cookies because I “didn’t need them” and that I needed to not eat so much because I didn’t want to get any bigger. I even had a boyfriend in high school who once glared at me for pouring a second bowl of cereal and said “why do you eat so much?” I am not quite sure how I responded to his inquiry but I know that for as far back as I can remember I have always been ashamed of what I ate and how I looked.

As I grew up I started to read and hear that not everyone was destined to be skinny and that some people were just genetically made to be heavier. Even though I wasn’t overweight as a teen, in fact I never was overweight until I was around 19 or 20, I knew that I wasn’t petite and that “thin” for me was a size 10. I assumed that this meant I should accept my size and own it, so I did.

For many years this worked. I started to associate the very thin or slender women I knew with vanity and weakness. I prided myself on being more muscular and on be sturdy and strong, and in some ways I still feel this way. However, I think at some point I went from accepting my more muscular and strong lady self to making excuses on why it was “ok” that I continued to put on weight. To take a cue from Cartman, I wasn’t fat, I was big boned.

Truth be told, I didn’t always notice the weight was coming on. It tends to creep up on you in between bites of pasta. After an initial gain of about 25 pounds when I went vegan, the weight crept on slowly. Before I knew it, I was over 200 pounds…and growing. But even still, that voice in my head kept saying, “You aren’t meant to be thin, you are just meant to be bigger.” Whenever I compared myself to other women and felt sad about my size, that little voice, the one that seemed to try and soothe me, said, “Don’t worry, people come in all shapes and sizes, it’s ok.”

In some ways this is true. Some women are 4’10” and some are 6’1″. Some women are naturally bigger boned and some are very tiny and petite. Some women are sturdy and strong and others are more delicate. Some women have wide hips and narrow waists and some have narrow hips and flat chests. However, there is really no natural human state that involves a healthy young women to carry an excess of 60-70 pounds of fat. The “I am just accepting my size and this is how I was made” excuse just isn’t working anymore.

I accept the way I look. I know that I have stretch marks, short legs, and thin hair. I’ve got irreversible body imperfections that I can’t fix and shouldn’t stress over. But this whole size acceptance stuff, it hasn’t done me much good. Telling myself that I needed to accept my size and accept that I wasn’t made to be a leaner person is bullshit. I am not meant to be overweight and I am not even meant to be a large person. For fucks sake, I am 5’5″, not 6′. It is one thing to be obsessed with a low weight and impossible body ideals, but looking at myself in the mirror and saying, “I must lose 60 lbs of fat because the quality of my life depends on it” is really the best kind of self acceptance there is. I’ve accepted that life at this weight is not full and I have decided to change that.

Low-carb chicken enchiladas

5 Jan

In my attempt to eat at home more often and avoid as much sugar and flour as I possibly can, I decided to try my hand at some chicken enchiladas that used egg crepes instead of tortillas. I had seen a recipe for this in the past and even though it sounded kind of strange to use egg crepes as a replacement I imagine that it wouldn’t taste so bad. One of my favorite mexican dishes is chile rellenos and I know that there are eggs in those bad boys, along with cheese and peppers, so I figured my egg crepe idea couldn’t be too far out there.

Luckily, I was correct!

I used this recipe for the egg crepes and basic enchiladas directions. I did have to alter it a bit since I was out of tomatoes so I used some of my mom’s picante sauce instead. I used leftover chicken from broth I made the other day and so my chicken was shredded, not cubed. I also put all my wrapped enchiladas seam down in a baking dish, covered them with cheese, and baked them for about 15 mins so that everything was bubbling and melted.

Granted, cheese isn’t on the paleo menu, but I’m sick of labeling my diet, so suck it. The cheese was delicious and I WIN because I ate a great mexican meal that was low in carbs and homemade.

Here are some photos:

 

The final product!

The final product!

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My serving.

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Cuts like a tortilla but doesn’t make your butt big like one.

Pho: sorta-kinda bone broth

5 Jan

I love drinking broth. Whenever I was sick as a kid my mom would warm me up a cup of chicken broth to drink. I’m not sure it actually helped, but I imagine it helped soothe me momentarily.

I also love pho. For those who haven’t tried it, make tasting this delicious vietnamese soup a priority in the coming new year. I have wanted to try making pho at home since my sister and I are both huge fans. Pho is generally inexpensive in restaurants but I thought making it at home would be a nice activity for a cold, winter day.

So, I headed over to the large asian market in my area for some supplies to follow this recipe, since it had been rated highly by many folks around the interwebz. I was hoping that the soup base would act as a sort of bone broth, but in the end the flavor was weaker than I had hoped for. Perhaps next time I will try roasting the bones ahead of time or maybe add more fish sauce.

Anywho, here are some photos from what the event. If you’ve got a good pho broth you want to share, link or post it in the comments, please!!!

The stock cooking. Includes charbroiled onions, garlic, beef bones, and a bag of pho spices.

The stock cooking. Includes charbroiled onions, garlic, beef bones, and a bag of pho spices.

The finished product!

The finished product!

 

I added shrimp, thinly sliced beef, basil, bean sprouts, and rice noodles to mine.

I added shrimp, thinly sliced beef, basil, bean sprouts, and rice noodles to mine.

 

Gluten-free banana pancakes that are delicious

1 Jan

My entire family has suffered greatly over the loss of a family love: pancakes. When my dad decided to change his diet to cure his heart disease we had to let pancakes go. Well, not entirely, I would still make my son and niece pancakes from scratch on occasion but I never felt well after eating them and I knew that I would have to let them go at some point as well. Aside from going out to breakfast, I rarely make pancakes at home. But now that I am buckling down to lose weight and get healthy I have come to the sobering conclusion that pancakes, and waffles, will have the leave my life.

At least the traditional sort of pancakes will. Today I tried a gluten-free recipe for pancakes that is seriously fucking delicious. I found the recipe on some random blog that I closed before I could copy the link to but the writer had given the recipe credit to Elena’s Pantry, so there you go.

This isn’t something that I would eat on a regular basis since it doesn’t seem quite natural to eat almonds in such a concentrated amount. However it is nice to have pancakes on a weekend morning a few times a month with a fried egg, I think.

The recipe has been altered slightly to allow for my desire to not add concentrated and processed sugar to my diet, so I excluded agave necter. I also used butter to cook the cakes in my new iron skillet instead of the grapeseed oil the original recipe suggested. Here it is:

Gluten-free Banana Pancakes

2 eggs

1 Tbs water or almond milk

1 Tbs vanilla extract

1 mashed banana

2 Tbs melted butter or coconut oil

1 1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

fat/oil for cooking

1) Mix all this stuff together in a bowl. I used an electric hand mixer to make sure all the lumps were out.

2) Pour approx. 1/4 cup of the batter on a heated skillet or pan or griddle, whatever you decide to use and cook like normal pancakes. These work best as a small little pancakes and I had my skillet pretty low to avoid burning them. I cooked them for a little longer than regular pancakes and adjust the heat as needed.

Tasted great with some butter! Naturally sweet and my dad loved them. I don’t think they would need any additional sweet topping, the banana made them sweet enough. My dad said he would love these instead of cake any time!

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I’m not a pro photographer, obviously. The little pancakes were cooking fast in the iron skillet!

pancakesonplate

My serving of pancakes. I added a little butter to the top. Very good!

Dairy-free chocolate shake

31 Dec

I love chocolate. In fact, I pretty much don’t eat dessert unless it has to do with chocolate. One big bummer about trying to lose weight is that desserts pretty much go out the window, especially the chocolate ones. Sure, some people use fruits as a dessert, but us chocolate lovers can’t just bit into a piece of unsweetened, raw, cocoa without hating our mouths. That shit is brutal.

Fortunately, I feel ok about eating a piece of fruit and a couple dates on occasion so a smoothie recipe that includes these things is ok by me. Luckily I have found one!

chocolateshakeThe recipe for a non-dairy chocolate shake can be found here at Against All Grain.

I didn’t have any crushed ice because the savages in my house always use up all the ice without refilling the trays and since we are trapped in 1991 with our fridge we don’t have an ice maker. I also left out the flaxseeds because I don’t like them. It turned out very creamy and I don’t taste the avocado AT ALL. I think with ice it would have been better, but luckily I used a frozen banana so it is cold. I honestly think I could leave the dates out in the future and just use the banana for sweetener. I put my shake into my sister’s reuseable cup and ta-da! Dessert/Lunch/Second Breakfast!

This isn’t low-calorie, but it I gave my son about 1/3 of it and I am considering it part of lunch. I plan to have leftover beef stew in about an hour or so.

The rest of the day includes working on essays for a paid internship I am applying for. With any luck (and bribery) I might have a chance at living in NYC for 6-9 months. Here’s to new adventures!

 

Prevention magazine is full of shit and so is chocolate milk

31 Dec

Someone in my family got a complimentary issue of Prevention and I figured I’d take a look at it while I ate my breakfast this morning. I usually find the advice in magazines like these to be bullshit. You know, the big bold article titles like “Lose 10 Years in 1 Hour,” or “#1 Wrinkle Cure Works Overnight.” I may be a fool in many ways but I am not foolish enough to believe I can look like I am 24 again in 1 hour or de-wrinkle in 8.

However, I am also not so foolish to think that there aren’t people who fall for this kind of “health” advice. The cover photo of this particular issue features Dr. Oz, a man that many Americans look to for health and fitness advice. I’d assume that the line of thinking from a Prevention reader would go something like this, “Oh, WORD, Dr. Oz is on the cover and since he’s a legit doctor I am can probs take whatever is in here as truth with confidence.” I don’t think that way about Prevention or Dr. Oz, but I am sure I have fallen victim to this line of thinking in the past. I don’t spend every moment thinking critically either.

I was flipping through this medical bible when I came upon a small little niblet of information that Prevention felt was worth mentioning. Instead of recommending that people decrease their intake of sugar and processed foods to help prevent heart disease, Prevention magazine suggests you increase your consumption of CHOCOLATE MILK. I’m not lying. I even took a photo to prove what I saw. Check it:

preventionadI get it. Prevention is trying to suggest that people consume more chocolate because polyphenols found in chocolate are claimed to have antioxidant properties. But why not suggest eating a high quality piece of dark chocolate? If a person doesn’t like dark chocolate than perhaps they should eat other foods that have polyphenols. Sugar is linked to inflammation. Do a google search and you will find list after list of foods to avoid if you are trying to lower your inflammation and sugar is usually on these lists.

Which leads me to this point: chocolate milk is loaded with sugar. In fact, it’s almost as sugary as Coke.

An 8oz container of generic brand chocolate milk, per the information at My Fitness Pal, includes 208 calories and 24 grams of sugar. TWENTY-FOUR GRAMS OF SUGAR! That’s almost 5 teaspoons of sugar.

An 8oz cup of Coke, per the Coke website, includes 100 calories and 27 grams of sugar. Coke, a drink we all know is terrible for us, has only 3 more grams of sugar than the usual chocolate milk. The fact that chocolate milk contains some vitamins and protein is not enough to make up for all the sugar in it.

I won’t ramble on about this anymore because I think I’ve made my point: stay away from chocolate milk. Eat some dark chocolate that is low in sugar and if you don’t like dark chocolate than go eat veggies that have similar antioxidants in them. There is not excuse for chocolate milk, shame on you, Prevention!

Paleo/Primal-friendly stew and gluten-free cornbread

30 Dec

Well hot damn, I found a delicious gluten-free cornbread and I cannot keep it a secret. It is LEGIT the best cornbread ever and it’s got no flour in it and only 1Tbs of honey in the entire batch, which I am sure you could leave out. I did not create this recipe, full-credit goes to the geniuses over at Plan to Eat for posting the recipe. You can find a link to the actual recipe here. I cooked mine in a cast iron skillet and it turned out really great!

glutenfreecornbread

Gluten-free cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet. Seriously, so good.

Although the cornbread stole the show tonight, I also made a beef stew. Since I am a poor graduate student I like to buy the shitty cuts of meat because they aren’t so pricey. I used stewing meat with potatoes, sweet orange pepper, onions, carrots, celery, homemade chicken broth, and diced canned tomatoes. I cooked it for like 3 hours over a low flame and it was the bomb. Usually stew has flour in it, but I just browned the meat in some coconut oil and then browned the veggies in the meat fat. Oh, there is also some of my sister’s red wine in here that I used to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Turned out good and I am feeling full but not stuffed. On another note, I went to Target with my sister tonight to find some new clothes. Man, how depressing is that. It’s not just that I am overweight but it’s also where the fat is landing. So much fat around my waist causes clothes that would otherwise fit me in the legs to not fasten around my waist.

I couldn’t have picked a better time to change my diet and lifestyle: it’s now or never.

Salad on a cold day

30 Dec

It’s wintertime here in Southern California and it has been cold and rainy, just how I like it!

I started making a paleo/primal-friendly beef stew for lunch but I realized it wasn’t going to be finished in time for lunch and it would have to be relegated to dinner. I decided to make a salad that is kind of based on a Chef’s Salad that I found at fitpaleo.com. I didn’t have all the ingredients she suggested so I had to ad lib. It turned out not too shabby and even my son and niece gobbled it down. I followed a recipe for a simple Balsamic Vinaigrette  and put the excess in a mason jar for later this week. My 10 yr old LOVED the dressing, an amazing claim since he hates most everything with flavor.

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I normally hate salad. I also hate people that claim to love salad, like my sister. Nothing chaps my ass more than a 120lb woman claiming “Oh my god, I just LOVE  salad!” when all I can think about is eating an entire chocolate cake myself.

I was vegan for 13 yrs and I never learned to love salad. Use as much lettuce, nuts, oil, and cabbage as you want, they never fill me up. I have only learned to like salad as an omnivore because I am not stuck trying to make a salad interesting and filling by adding more and more veggies to it. It’s such a relief to add chunks of chicken or shrimp or eggs to a salad to make it satisfying with a smaller portion. Nothing worse than trying to get full on buckets of lettuce. Gross and totally not suited to an omnivore at the top of the food chain.

My salad, as seen in the photo, included organic hearts of romaine, a boiled egg, cooked chicken, shrimp baked in coconut oil, pine nuts, and avocado. I only tossed the dressing with the lettuce because I didn’t want the chicken, avocado, and egg to lose their own unique flavors.

Hopefully the beef stew will be done for dinner and I will have successfully met my goal of eating whole food meals prepared at home. Go me!

Why are evenings so difficult?

29 Dec
http://heartmeltz.blogspot.com/2012/11/perfect-for-doorgifts-danish-butter.html

Only the swirled ones on the left are worth my time.

The holidays have brought sweets into our home.

Normally my dad is pretty strict about sugar in this house. He has changed his health completely after suffering through some stints and is now sugar free 99.9% of the time. Needless to say this means we rarely have cookies, ice cream, or other sweets within reach. However, the holidays have caused a breach in our normally strict routine and I am finding myself to be very vulnerable to their sugary siren song in the evenings.

Yesterday I had done so well: fresh veggie juice and sweet potato hash with eggs for breakfast and a salmon salad for lunch. Dinner was a small piece of steak, some veggies, and a little portion of mashed potatoes. I felt pretty good, until I noticed the gleaming tin of butter cookies that SOMEONE had tried to hide in the pantry. Funny thing is I don’t even really like butter cookies. I like chocolate and I generally feel that any desert that doesn’t include chocolate is hardly worth wasting my time on. So why oh WHY was I unable to avoid consuming 6 butter cookies while standing in the door jamb of the pantry? Did I even enjoy them? Hardly. I mean their butter cookies, not much to enjoy anyway. Had it been a hunk of dark chocolate with almonds then I’d have a different answer because that stuff is delicious. But butter cookies? REALLY? Ok, I admit that the swirled ones without sugar on top are pretty fucking tasty, but those are gone and I ate the non-awesome ones. Why?

What makes me so tempted at night? Was it boredom? I wasn’t bored, I was reading a book my friend got me for Christmas and I was totally into it. Was I something else? I’ve noticed my tendency to binge on food when I am not even hungry has started to increase and I am looking to find out why because it throughs a wrench int he cogs of my otherwise healthy diet.

Plinky Prompt: Favorite childhood food

27 Dec

Stuffed artichokes. My grandmother, a first generation Italian-American, used to stuff large artichokes with parsley, parm cheese, garlic, and bread crumbs. She would drizzle them with olive oil and steam them till they were soft. We ate them only on holidays and I always equated the holidays with these delicious vegetables. If someone wasn’t finishing their artichoke, grandma would remind them about how she had to haul them all the way to the house on the bus, she never learned to drive, and that there was so much work involved in them that no one had better dare waste them. I never did, they were my favorite part of the holiday dinner and still are.

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