April 06, 2010

Simple Shift or....Seismic Sismo

Back in February....remember February?  Cold, snow, xanax inducing....spring seemed so very far away!

February was marked the beginning of Lent and when I decided to make a simple shift. This idea of a simple shift was actually our Lenten theme at my church. Our pastor, Rev. Laura Ruth Jarrett, described it like this in her Ash Wednesday sermon. "Our Lenten theme this year is simple shifts. As a congregation we are hoping to become reacquainted with simplicity or maybe meet for the first time a way of being in the world that meets God unadorned except in our simple shifts."

I decided rather than "give something up" or "take something on" I would practice a simple shift; a change in mindset from just eating the food that was prepared for me to really connect more with the food that I eat. Yikes! How do I do that when food is my nemesis? I don't want to get close to my food.

1. If I get close to it, I might eat all of it.
2. I don't know that I want to know where it comes from. Ignorance really is bliss sometimes.

I started hoarding food some time in my teens, storing cookies and candy in tucked away places. It started out as and avoidance of conflict over who ate the last swiss cake roll. And then turned into...I really shouldn't be eating this, but if no one sees me, then no one will ever know. Even as an adult I have found my self "sneaking" a handful of chocolate chips or a spoonful of ice cream in the dark kitchen illuminated only by they light from the fridge. 

When David proposed, I decided that I needed to lose weight. Big time. We were in love at over 200lbs each. (There was this one time, we were at a water park....imagine you are a teen-aged lifeguard weighing in at about a buck-twenty and a raft is coming at you full speed with about 450lbs of wet, slippery, giddy vacationers aboard! Thar she blows!) The thing is, I decided to lose weight for the dress, not really for my health. (I did look pretty damn good in that dress, if I do say so myself.) My first fitting was in a size 18. I got down to a 6 by wedding time. But...I did it by eating WeWa McMuffins, Smartones and deli sandwiches, protein shakes and carrot sticks for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. By wedding time, David & I lost 135lbs between the two of us. Wow!

When I became pregnant with *S*, everything went out the window. I ate anything and everything. Mostly Raisin Bran Crunch and instant oatmeal. I did have salmon once a week - from Outback Steakhouse. Did you know that really during pregnancy, you are only supposed to add about 300 calories to your diet. That is an apple and a yogurt extra a day. Oh well. Within 2 weeks, I got my big butt back to WeWa and starting losing weight again. At first I ate "real food" since *S* had a milk and soy allergy, but I started to gain again with my lack of portion control. By the time he was 1, I was back to eating franken-food. At about 6 lbs within goal, I was pregnant again with *I*. Rinse and Repeat. Sans the food alergy and add another 15 lbs to the tally. Boo.

In April 2009, at 15lbs from goal I committed to being back "On Plan" and lost the remaining baby weight and then some. I hit my goal in September and was in maintenance mode, but again, using pre-packaged food-like substances and 6-8 diet cokes a day. Did you know you can count them as water/liquids on plan? That is just wrong.

So back to the simple shift for Lent 2010....

The first step in my Lenten practice was to be honest with myself and commit. And pray. For strength. Can I really make this work???  Lean cuisines are my staple!  I can't cook and my kids love Nurti-grain bars, sandwiches, go-gurts and Dino Nuggets. 

Next, education. I read these books: Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemna (Young readers edition - accidental order on my part, but I actually preferred it), Food Rules, and Master your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels. I watched the documentary Food, Inc. and I found a bunch of invisipeeps to chat with about cleaner eating and keep me on track. Reading these books and talking about where our food comes from and how we have shifted our food practices in our fast-paced society was truly eye-opening. I learned to read labels, practice my own set of food rules. (Like don't eat anything that your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. And, Eat at the table, and no, a desk is not a table, Give thanks for the food and everyone that helped get that food to the table.)

The third step was to switch to real food. I started shopping the outer aisles and making plans on how to move to more sustainable and cleaner practices. I made my way to Trader Joe's instead of just BJ's and whoever had lean cuisines on sale. I started to buy more organics, but then realized that many of the organics were shipped from California or Mexico to MA. I wanted to be cleaner, but I didn't want to increase my carbon foot print, so I also joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). What a blessing! Our produce is local, or local-er, it is ready for us taking the guessing out of my menu and I can plan around the veggies, and we know we are getting real food from real farmers that we can go and visit anytime we want. Ever try to visit the farmer that harvested the lemons in the Lean Cuisine lemon pepper chicken? Didn't think so. We are also looking into a meat share for the summer. (If you have experience with this, please comment!)

Now that I have food that actually came from the ground or had a mother, I needed to learn how to cook. Yikes! Thank goodness for google, for husbands that get you whole foods cookbooks for Valentine's day, and for tax refunds to help buy real knives, pots and dutch ovens. *ahhhhh*

The next step, keeping track. This is still a journey (of course) and I like to share, get tips and tricks from others and keep myself accountable. Hence this bloggity-blog.

With the ending of Lent, comes Easter. For Easter, our pastor Molly preached the four verbs that Jesus said before every communion. Take, Bless, Break, Give. In order for new life to emerge, we must be broken...but in brokenness, if you look closely, there is always a blessing behind it and in front and opportunity to give. The power that food had over me, both over-indulgent treats as well as diet food, broke me, but without this food I wouldn't be where I am today. And the opportunity to give....well that comes in two parts: First, an opportunity to give my children a healthy relationship with food and second, this blog. Food evangelism in the way of CSA and outer-aisle outreach!

Finally, what did I learn this Lenten Season?
  • Kids will pretty much eat anything if they are given a chance, have good examples and the right motivation.
  • Food is actually very enjoyable.
  • Diet food was actually making it harder for me to maintain my weight than real food. 
  • I love to talk about food, where it comes from, how to prepare it, and it isn't scary anymore. 
  • Food isn't evil and it doesn't have power over me.
  • I don't have to "sneak" or "horde" food. There is plenty. 
  • I CAN cook and it's good. 
  • Cooking food is fun and IS less expensive than processed foods, if you plan properly and don't waste food. 
  • I have a tendency to eat all the "treats" in one day so that they will not be around to tempt me the next day. Yes, I still have to work on this one. 
  • For now, I cannot keep sweets in the house; Maybe someday I will.
  • CSAs are da' bomb!
  • Eating locally not only connects us better to our food source, making us appreciate everything that we eat, but it helps lower emisions from transportations, encourrages us to eat food in season and boosts our local farming economy. 
  • I find I waste less food if I think of all the work that it took to put into that one luscious piece of grapefruit or celeriac or apple or green bean or yellow beet. 
  • I still need to practice portion control.
  • Containerization is perfect for portion control.
One of the biggest lessons learned, without even knowing it, is I started following the 12 steps for Overeaters Anonymous, adapted from AA. I realized that once I hit goal, I can't go back to a free-for-all. Hitting the number on the scale doesn't mean that I can go back to my old ways. Then it really is me against food, not working with it.  My old ways mean that food will continue to have power over me and I will eat whatever is in front of me because it is there or because I am frustrated or bored or upset and then I will feel guilty then eat again because I am frustrated.  

This simple shift means that I CAN eat whatever I want and I CHOSE to eat REAL food in the right sizes. Truly, this simple shift really created a monumental chasm in my life. A lifestyle and spiritual change. 

As of today, still no soda, new lean cuisines have not been purchased and the old ones are still in the freezer for last resort. (Cheapassmama won't throw them out.) Yes, we did have Easter candy which is all gone now, but we also ate fresh CSA green beans, potatoes and ham on Easter as well.  And if we run out of food, well, there is always the outer aisle. 


Mia said...

What a fantastic post - very inspirational and informative! Now I'm thinking about running out to TJ's or Whole Foods (if you get the right things it's not as expensive as you think!)

Christy Z said...

Thanks, Mia. That means a lot, especially coming from a kickass chuck-wearing writer/journalist/blogger such as yourself!

ooo Mia, you'll appreciate this...Laura Ruth (mentioned in the beginning) wore her bright red chucks on Easter Sunday because the make her feel HAPPY!

I do find that the right things at TJs do end up being less expensive than you think. Avacados for example and a lot of the fresh stuff.

Mia said...

I love that she wore the chucks to Easter Sunday - that makes me happy. BTW I am too hungover to be on the WEWA boards today, shhhhh

revmolly said...

I love this post and can't wait to read the rest of your blog! Apparently I have a lot of catching up to do, you sneaky writer and doer of many things well...

don't forget what Alice Waters said: "How we eat can change the world!"

Two cookbook recs: Nourishing Traditions, and Moosewood Cookbook Daily Specials. The second for fabbo ways to use lots of your CSA veggies, the first for more paradigm-shifting around the "diet dictocrats" as she called them. I started making my own sauerkraut/pickled veg after reading this--a GREAT staple for cheapassmamas--and my kids adore it, believe it or not. It's awesome in the bowels of winter when you want to get a good fresh veg on the table quickly.


Christy Z said...

Thanks Molly! You darn ministers and your Lenten themes!

LOL @ "It's awesome in the bowels..." I bet it is!

Considering we have the same CSA, I will have definitely check these cookbooks out. David got me the Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook for V-day. What a treat! And I am totally digging More with Less - from the Mennonites. Great verses and I recognize some of the recipes my mom made when I was a kid.