Friday, March 11, 2011

Goodbye Scale. Hello Life.

Dear Followers, (sheesh, what's to follow?? I haven't posted since September!)

I completely apologize for being MIA. But I've soured on the diet concept and have decided that it's ... well, just wrong. I lost any desire to focus on it, much less write about it. My last post of, yikes! six months ago sums up how my thoughts about "diets" have evolved but a couple of beliefs have truly crystallized since then. They have to do with:

While we think that focusing on the dreaded numbers is a smart thing to do while trying to lose weight, it's really sabotage. All that attention and energy that goes toward the numbers ... what the scale says, counting the calories, carbs, grams, units, points, measuring the inches ... all that simply fuels one idea. "I am fat."

I've read this or heard it said in a dozen different ways by mentors and motivators .... Marianne Williamson, Mike Dooley, Martha Beck, Rick Hanson, just to name a few. Our obsession with weight has led to our obsession with weight. We create our own arena for happiness and health; it simply depends on where we put the energy. Shut off the "weight" valve and turn on the "health" valve. One of my favorite guys, Mike Dooley, says it simply in his latest book, Manifesting Change.

Since perspective is such an important concept, let's look at the example of wanting to lose weight. If your only action were to buy diet, low-fat, low-calorie, low-this and low-that foods, such behavior would perpetuate your condition (no matter how much visualizing you did) because every single purchase would be screaming to the Universe, "I have a weight problem!" And the Universe would reply, "I heard you the first seven hundred times, and it's done!"

In other words, the Universe lovingly dishes up whatever you order from the menu.

Months ago I decided not to weigh myself anymore. My gauge is now how I look and feel, and how my clothes fit. I'm still wearing the same dress size as I was a year ago and yep, at times my clothes are quite snug and at times they are not. Whatever! I'm healthy! My 57-year old body has been so good to me! I'm happy! I'm not trying to look like I'm 25 anymore! Shut up! And let's remember that it is normal for a woman in her 40s, 50s and beyond to have the padding and reserves that comes in the form of a muffin top. What's not normal is to be fairly lean at this age. Not justifying added pounds, just saying we need to recognize and accept what nature has intended for us, and stop slamming ourselves for a muffin top! Which brings me to the single most important thing I have done in the past six months. I've decided to ....

The positive effects I've seen from that decision have been tremendous. I mean, really. This poor body .... after all the abuse it's taken and all the crappy things I've dumped into it over the years ... has stood by me, forgiven me, loved me, and housed my thriving spirit! I began to think of my body as a sweet little child whose super-horrible-meanie-parent continually criticizes and berates her and no matter how loyal and devoted she is, she just can't seem to do anything to please the cruel parent. The poor little thing constantly struggles to thrive and protect but only feels hatred in return. This breaks my heart. But when I shut off the criticism and turned on the gratitude, amazing things happened. My body image changed substantially. Not only do I see my body with new eyes (yep, muffin top and all) but my body responds to the love and gratitude with a healthier attitude about food and fitness. It's circuitous, folks. Circuitous. Very important word. Love and gratitude begets love and gratitude begets love and gratitude and on and on and on. (Works on people too.)

Now, please don't think for one minute that I claim to have mastered all of these fabulous concepts and practice them 1000% of the time. I believe these concepts to be true and I am doing really well! But I'm a student of the Universe right alongside the rest of you ... learning, growing and progressing. That's the beauty of our lives, knowing that we can always grow. We are forever ripening.

I want to thank you, dear followers, for coming down this unexpected path with me. I hope you've found it to be as illuminating as I have. Funny how that works ... you start out with a certain plan and what you end up with is so, SO much better. Because if you keep your mind open and an ear tuned to the magical force that guides us, the Universe will lay gifts at your feet. And those gifts will be joy, health, love, abundance and more ... if that's what you've ordered from the menu.

Good-bye diet blog. This is my last post. I've launched a new blog called A Ripening Life, which is MUCH more fun. I hope to write about and celebrate the everyday beauty of our lives. It is a place for honest thoughts, tender words, a big dash of hilarity, and your welcomed ideas.

Please come on over.

With thanks and fondness,

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Skinny

Hey there. Your lazy blogger here.

So sorry about the long absence. I've had an attitude adjustment about the subject of weight and I think it's kept me from weighing in here. Ready now.

First, can I just say that triple digit heat in Austin gets really old by September? I made three trips back to my native utopia state of California this summer and ahhhhh, the delightful weather. I am so looking forward to fall, but it'll be another month or two before things cool off here. Skinny jeans, please! I can't wait for skinny jeans, sweaters and boots. Love, love, love that fall look!

Fashion aside, here's The Real Skinny. This past year has led me down an amazing path and I've formed some unexpected opinions. My thoughts about weight have shifted dramatically; over time I began to realize I was not applying the same beliefs I have for other aspects in my life ... that I was handling my weight issues differently. Through reading, listening, journaling, workshops and a whole lot of studying the fascinating topic of how the mind works (which has come to be one of my fave subjects over the years) I decided that I will no longer focus on weight, but on health instead. It's really a matter of cutting to the chase because weight falls under the big umbrella of health anyway. This really isn't new and ground-breaking information but I think it's something we tend to forget. If you're healthy, you're going to BE at your natural, healthy weight. So for months I've done affirmations about being healthier NOW than I've ever been in my life ... that every muscle, organ, bone, every CELL in my body is just humming along with perfect health. And whadaya know, I'm healthier NOW than I've ever been in my life! Trick your brain by telling it what you want, and if you do that consistently, convincingly, and state it in the present tense, I guarantee that your brain will dish it up for you. (But it's important to read up on how to do affirmations effectively.)

It's a mind trick. Plain and simple.

"Diet" is a four letter word that (for most of us) means temporary eating plan. We stay on our "diets" until we reach our goal weight. Yay! Mission accomplished! Done! Whew, we don't have to eat that diet food anymore. But uh-oh, if the temporary eating plan is over with, we're sliding down that slippery slope again. In another year we're starting over with yet another diet cycle. And on and on.

So let's not give that miserable cycle any power by focusing on diet and weight. We achieve whatever we think about. So all of that calorie counting, weighing in, measuring, counting points, units, carbs, whatever .... all that frantic and exhaustive over-thinking gives "weight" too much power and undeserved attention and keeps us stuck on the idea that we're fat! unhealthy! unhappy with ourselves and we must, must, must fix it!!! And so guess what? We stay fat, unhealthy and and unhappy with ourselves and are forever trying to fix it, because that's what the brain is hearing. Let go of the "weight" tug-of-war ... when you let go of your end of that rope, there is no battle, right? It falls right over on it's big ass. I got rid of all my diet books, stopped obsessing about counting calories and weighing myself, ditched my fat clothes and started serving up massive daily helpings of gratitude that I am 57 years old and super healthy and really, really happy with my wonderfully blessed life. This is so powerful, people. Far more powerful than a lame diet.

So I say forget weight focus and let's go for health focus. Your happy weight will just naturally follow and you'll be amazed by the ways you will unknowingly gravitate toward healthier choices over the weeks and months following affirmations about health. My brown rice breakfast is a good example of that. (see my last post for recipe) Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I ... the queen of rib eyes and loaded baked potatoes... would be eating a delicious and super healthy hot brown rice and fresh blueberry cereal every morning for the past 4 months. And the effects of that daily brown rice alone has been SOOOO noticeable in terms of my overall health. When your energy flows towards health instead of weight, your brain finds the most amazing and often creative ways to get it for you.

This also means you lose your fear of things like ice cream, pancakes, and cheeseburgers. You won't gravitate towards those foods so much anymore, but if you want to occasionally enjoy a ... oh, I don't know ..... say, a massive brunch buffet like I did on my recent vacation, it becomes far less horrific and guilt-ridden. Because I know "I'm healthier NOW than I've ever been in my life," I viewed it as temporary vacation mode instead of my norm.

I've now decided that melting off every last stick of butter as originally planned in August 2009 ... 64 sticks or the equivalent of 16 pounds ... is not my focus anymore. Granted, if my weight is close to that goal (and yes, I think it is) I'm probably pretty damn healthy. But if I'm a few pounds in either direction, I'm good with that. What I love is that the journey I started out on a year ago has led me to a completely different place than I expected ... a much healthier, more insightful place. Always learning, always growing, always progressing ... that's the beauty of every process. Kind of like little miracles. So, so grateful.
And THAT, my friends, is the skinny.

(Sorry for all the photos of myself; people have asked me why I rarely put any up, so I guess I'm getting them all out of the way at once!)

Here's to your health.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Still Kickin'

Springtime in Texas is so pretty ....oops, it's summer now.

I sooooo apologize for my long absence. I won't bore you with excuses ... bottom line is I fizzled out on blogdom for awhile and got busy with other things. I wouldn't blame you for thinking I've been hiding because maybe, maybe I gained my weight back??? Happy to report that's not the case ...I've remained healthy and happy, and managed to lose a few pounds I found over the holidays. I'm still oscillating between 1-3 lbs. from goal (annoying 4-12 sticks of butter!) but I've got a college reunion coming up soon .... that should do it for me.

Here's my plan: to keep this blog up until August, (exactly one year from the time I launched it) at which point I will post final, final, that's final! "after" photos with massive declarations of success, and then I'll take this blog down and will launch a new (non diet-y) blog called A Ripening Life. I'm hoping to re-direct my followers over there and I'll be ever so grateful if you'll come along. This new blog will be a place to celebrate the sweetness and growth of our ever-ripening lives and I will happily welcome ideas, contributors and lots of new friends. (Humor included!) I'm so in love with the ripening process and am passionate about exploring the many ideas which can propel us in the direction of our dreams. If this resonates with you, please come along.

In the meantime, let's talk rice. Yep, specifically brown rice. I continue to be a big fan of Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet ... which I raved about in my last post of a million years ago. This has led me to learn about the HUGE number of health benefits brown rice offers; from cholesterol to cancer, and heart disease to weight loss. Amazingly, the list goes on and on.

So I just want to share how I've been starting my morning for the past few months, with a completely yummy brown rice hot cereal. I hope you'll give it a whirl. This will jump-start your day, get your metabolism humming along faster, and it's so, so good for you. Here's how you make it:
Combine 1/3 -1/2 cup cooked brown rice (I like the short grain), about a tablespoon of pure maple syrup, a dash of vanilla, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash or two of soy milk to dampen. Microwave for 25-30 seconds. Add some fresh blueberries, raisins, dried cranberries or whatever you fancy; stir and microwave another 25-30 seconds. Sprinkle in some toasted sliced almonds or nuts of your choice, sit down with the morning paper and enjoy. A great way to start the day!

Rice is nice and nice to see ya!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Kind Diet, kinda

Okay, so I've been hiding a little bit. And why does one hide? Because one has been naughty.

But hey, naughty in a good way. Inadvertently naughty. With the best intentions. I'll explain in a sec.

As I mentioned in my last post of a thousand years ago, I've come across the most amazing, life changing way of eating, thinking and living. It's based on Alicia Silverstone's thought-provoking book, The Kind Diet. You know Alicia ... lovely actress, originally known for her lead role in Clueless? She is very vegan and has written this wonderful book that even has this cheeseburger-chowin', ribeye-devouring gal kinda thinking about going kinda veggie, organic and raw.

The Kind Diet is not just about how to eat, it's an ideology about being kind to your body, kind to the animals, and kind to the planet. You have to read her narrative chapters (followed by yummy recipes) to grasp the importance of her concepts, but the gist of it is this:

As you continue on this journey you will experience amazing changes. Some will come quickly, some slowly, but eventually meat's hardness will melt away, leaving your body and heart soft and open. You will begin to feel more deeply. Compassion will flow from your core toward all other living beings. This is the most amazing gift of eating plant-based diet ... feeling the sacred connectedness of all living things. from The Kind Life, pg. 94

I want that.

This is not to say that I will become a purist vegan or even a devoted vegetarian. This is only to say that it has me leaning, leaning, leaning in these directions. Which is all Alicia asks ... that you begin to flirt with the idea of a plant-based diet. Just to see where it leads you.

A couple of weeks ago I had a nice big steak defrosting on the kitchen counter. There were still a couple of steaks in the freezer so I thought, let's use them up, Mike and I will share one. But by now the pages of The Kind Diet are sinking in and every time I walk past that defrosting steak throughout the course of the day, I stare at it with trepidation. It just seemed ... wrong. Yes, I ate my portion. But it was weird, and that, people, is something I never thought I'd say.

At this point I've not given up meats and animal-based foods entirely. But I have taken the following baby steps:

1.) I'm kicking refined sugar.
2.) I'm eating organic and raw as much as possible.
3.) I'm trying to eat brown rice everyday.
4.) I'm scaling way back on meat.
5.) I'm scaling way back on dairy.
6.) I'm eating way more veggies, dammit.

So what do all of these healthy, conscientious concepts have to do with my recent naughty coupla extra pounds, you ask? Here I've found this really exciting, healthy diet and I've ... whaaaa? gained some weight? That's because, being the dessert/carby fiend that I am, I tried out almost every dessert/carby recipe in the Kind Diet the first 2 weeks. Because, you know ... they're really healthy and everything (she says not so convincingly) ... all organic, no refined sugar, no dairy, only whole wheat flour, the whole shebang. Gobble, gobble, gobble. But as someone pointed out on Alicia's website the other day, vegan foods have calories too. Ooooooh that's right, and I'm wearing them.

Oh, but the vegan oatmeal walnut cookies ... to die for! The peach crumble ... yes! The Cheesy, Oozy Guacamole Bean Dip .. thank you God! And the cornbread is the best I've ever had ... and I've made it for friends (3 times) who totally agree! Nevertheless, take it from The Dessert/Carby Master ... pace yourself, sister, pace yourself.

When I first heard that Alicia Silverstone had written a book about healthy eating, I thought ... hmmm, now what is this .. this .. Clueless whippersnapper, who's young enough to be my daughter going to teach me!!? But now I say bravo, Alicia. Because here's what I think you've taught me: that the foods we eat and the respect and kindness we show our bodies is in direct proportion to the respect and kindness we show our planet and the precious animals we share it with. Seem like a stretch? Get the book and read on. If it makes me of all people, look at a ribeye funny, it'll make anyone think twice before firing up the grill.
There. I've come out of hiding. Back on track. Scaling way back on healthy oatmeal walnut cookies and eating my veggies like a good girl, not a naughty one.

Be healthy, everyone!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

One Not-So-Smart Cookie

If texting while driving makes you 8 times more likely to have an accident, then wouldn't it be like, 12 times more dangerous to attempt to open a sealed plastic container of Costco cookies while driving, so that you could scarf them on the way home? Cuz those suckers are hard to pop open ... you really need two hands. I think the Department of Public Safety should issue an advisory that you must pull over to the side of the road to open your cookie container and suck them up like a Hoover. Ya know, as you would for calling or texting. Safety first, people. Seriously.

Or maaaybe ... don't buy the Costco cookies AT ALL, note to self.

I was almost to the check-out line when my cart spun around all Stephen King-like and sped back to the cookies I had ogled minutes before. Where they just leapt into my cart. Frightening.

You know the rest of the story.
And later at home, after Mike and I both had our way with these cookies, we stuck the scant leftovers in the back of the freezer. Where we hoped we would forget about them. Which we really have. Miraculously.

This was a big slip, I must confess. But as catastrophic events often do have silver linings, it's driven me to something new, something healthy, something exciting, something, well .... positively life-changing!

And THAT, my friends, is something I'm going to tell you about next time!

And before I dash off, I just want to say that texting while driving is really nothing to joke about. I've taken Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge and I would encourage everyone to do so. Those of you who saw the show she did on the dangers of texting while driving will know what I'm talking about; all those families who've lost loved ones because of it. Not worth a crummy text.

Be safe.

P.S. Oh, you know how we said we wanted a deadline extension to January 31 to lose our 16 pounds? Uhhhhhhhhhh ...

I'm still only 2 pounds away from goal, pinky swear! I've just been coasting since the holidays. And those damn cookies. Let's give it another month. And by another month I mean, indefinitely.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Favorite Pet (Peeve)

Okay so let's talk about other stuff while I avoid the topic of weight loss. Yep ... we're still in holiday recovery here. Two crummy lingering pounds, but still.

I was kind of in the mood to gripe about a few of my pet peeves, like:

wrestling with tangled clothes hangers,

or, people who say "her and I" (as in, "Her and I ditch English class often.")

or, rude and sullen service people who mutter (without even glancing up from their task at hand) things like "what's up" when you go to pick up your passport photo at Walgreen's. And I don't mean a friendly, cheerful "hey, wassup!" ... I mean a "what-the-hell-do-you-want-lady, you're-bothering-me" what's up.

Or, sheesh, they can send a man to the moon but nobody can figure out how to make a garden hose that doesn't kink,

or, clueless grocery shoppers who abandon their carts in the middle of the aisle as they wander off to contemplate nutrition labels,

or, the fact that we are always knee-deep in dog hair at our house, despite endless vacuuming.

But that last pet peeve got me to thinking about the pet that causes that peeve and then I started feeling less bitchy and more, well ... all mushy inside. The source of all that dog hair is Angel, our 12 year old yellow Lab. Baby Girl, Mike calls her. But our Baby Girl is getting on in years. And, oh dear ... that makes you think. And now I don't so much feel like bitching about petty stuff anymore.
Angel came to us as a 9 week old pup in 1998. Elizabeth was 10 and we had promised her a puppy when we moved to Austin; she in turn promised us she would be responsible for taking care of this dog. Parents 'round the world? Does this ever happen? (raspberry sound here) Elizabeth named Angel after her favorite food at the time, angel HAIR pasta, and after a couple of shedding seasons it became clear that Elizabeth's name choice was a little joke from the universe. Shouldn't we have taken the "hair" part of that name inspiration and called her Harriet? Especially since Angel seemed a poor choice for the naughty youngster she was. But as she got older, it was evident Angel was a perfect name as she became our gentle, patient, devoted companion and protector.

She's not been an especially healthy or low maintenance dog however, and she has cost us a small fortune in vet bills, especially in contrast to our miniature dachshund, Rosemary, who's never had a sick day in her life (and who sometimes uses Angel's ass for a pillow; above). Angel takes the prize for ear infections, chronic skin allergies, compulsive licking, paw chewing, and scratching. She often wears toddler's socks (pictured above) to keep her from gnawing paws raw. She's been on an expensive allergy medication for several years now ($50 a month) and does an occasional course of steroids for bad flare ups. As you can see, she's never particularly happy about all this. In September she tore her acl and had surgery, a big deal for an older dog because the recovery process (below) is intense. Again, not happy. She's hobbling a bit but doing pretty well now! For an old Baby Girl.
But the shedding. Ack! I find blond dog hair in my morning coffee and on my pillow at night. I even found one in the microwave the other day. My slippers, which are not the furry, fluffy kind, are furry and fluffy. And our clothes ... well, suffice it to say we have a lifetime supply of lint rollers which are strategically stationed throughout the house.

Angel is a year-round shedder, even shedding great gobs in winter when other dogs are smartly building up and hanging onto their winter coats. You can see the hair falling off blizzard-like when she strolls by. I could stuff a sofa with the hair I collect after I brush her on the back porch. I often throw fistfuls of it into the yard and come spring, the birds snatch bits of it to line their nests. In the fall we find these empty nests in the naked branches of trees and we tell Angel that she has made a loving contribution to the comfort and protection of tender fledglings, who will soon be the parents of more fledglings come next spring. And on and on.

I often complain that I wish I had back all of the hours I've spent on extra vacuuming over the years since we've had Angel. I don't really. She has been worth every minute of it, worth every penny spent at the vet, every moment devoted to her convalescing, every chewed up Bally shoe and every Barbie ensemble ingested as a puppy. The best part is that we can say this now, while she is still with us. We can nuzzle her neck and tell her how important she is to us. She has been our mentor, showing us how to love. Showing us how it's done.

There is such an abundance of Angel hair blowing about our yard that long after she is gone someday, the birds will still be lining their nests with Angel hair every spring. When we find those abandoned nests in fall, our hearts will swell and we will tell Angel again: you always did and always will make a loving contribution to the comfort and protection of tender lives.

That's what Angels do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Oh dear. May we have an extension, please?
Our goal deadline is supposed to be Dec. 31 (eek! that's tomorrow!) but there has simply been far too much fa-la-la-la-la-ing going on around here and we're wiggling the diet challenge into January! But fear not; we've not packed on the el-bees again ... just a couple,* which I sort of expected might happen during cookie season. Not too worried about it and waaaaaay too happy with the overall weight loss since August to slide back into that chubby zone. No weigh! But hells bells, I was just one pound away from goal when I last posted before Thanksgiving and then, well ... you know the rest!

I'm so sorry to have dropped off the holiday radar at that point! I apologize to loyal readers who tell me they kept checking in only to find the same ol' tired tale of a turkey sandwich. I became mired in preparing for holiday shows where I sell my handmade wares, which threw my festive holiday season way off this year. The tree got up really late, gifts I wanted to make never got made, and our own handmade Christmas cards never got made and sent. Horrors! I've only missed sending out Christmas cards once before in 35 years and I just hated that I missed this year! (But a Happy New Year card is in the works.) That's the price you pay when you have a handmade card biz ... you can't just dash-along-Dancer to Barnes & Noble and buy a few ready-made boxes. (Although I just might next year! Hey, just sayin'.) Noooo, you have to (attempt to) be ever-so-clever and MAKE your own Christmas cards. The pressure, people. The pressure! Anyway, belated Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to one and all! (Note to self: no more shows at Christmastime. It cramps the holiday fun.)

So stick with me here ... I'm playing catch-up on holiday photos and news.

Just after my last post, we had a whirlwind but lovely Thanksgiving trip to my sister Kathy's house in Mill Valley, California. Here are the three generations of Wells/Grant women (right to left): my 87 year old Mom (and by 87 I mean more like 47), my beautiful 22 year old daughter, my ahem! year old sister and ahem! year old me.
Despite my late start, we had a glorious and cozy Christmas at home ... just the three of us, plus my BFF of 46 years, Marilyn of Southern California. We love a Christmas steeped in tradition, and that includes this raspberry-pineapple-sour cream jello salad which has graced our holiday table for as long as I can remember. One of Elizabeth's favorites!
And here we are about to gobble the most un-diet-like Christmas feast. And by God, we enjoyed every bite!This week following Christmas is my favorite week ever, as it is always devoted entirely to reading by the fire, journaling, naps and bubble baths. I say leave the tree, the decorations, the house cleaning, and the social obligations.

Be Grateful.

And last but not least .... Rosemary, the Dachshund Dog and her people wish y'all a lickity-split, delightfully deee-vine, delicious and healthy 2010.

* But hey, but I'm not changing the Meltdown Meter. Those little pounds are only here for a brief holiday visit!