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Ideal Protein - Week 8 - Food Rehab

Updated on February 17, 2013

Living with my mother's ideal of beauty

Ginger Rogers set the standard for mom
Ginger Rogers set the standard for mom

It's Easy To Be a Holy Man on Top of a Mountain

In The Razor’s Edge the main character asks a guru if it’s easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain. I’ve been wondering the same thing all week as we prepare to go back to Buffalo land of chicken wings, beef on weck, pizza of thick crust and a heart clogging amounts of mozzarella cheese, and…most importantly…people with whom to share these things. Here in Miami, where I do not have as many people, dieting is easy. My friend Sharon is on her own diet…The Cookie Diet…so she is not pushing food. My friend Vicky is supportive because she had her own struggle with weight recently that resulted in a svelte new body. Sandra knows how much pain I’ve been in and she too is cheering me on. This week I lost 3.5 pounds for a total of 22 over the eight week period. I continue to go in the right direction.

Next week some of my co-workers want us all to go to Chili’s as a sort of goodbye party. They want me to have a few cocktails which I’ve already explained I cannot. Being kicked out of ketosis is like going off the wagon and my weak and newly cleaned up body will ache for carbs. Besides, I don’t need to drink to be fun. I’ve always said some people need to loosen up with alcohol…for me there is no need. If anything, it gets me too loose and I lose the ability to think before I speak. Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to share a lot of complicated and painful life lessons for laughs but when I drink too much I get too honest and can hurt people. My hangovers always included remorse for speaking my mind too freely. I don’t care who knows my secrets…but when I home in on someone who is in deep self-denial only to strip away their shields …that is indefensible. It borders on mind reading and I used to be a big part of my friends entertainment while drinking…as long as I didn’t turn it on them. So I can go to Chili’s and eat the Fajitas Trio without the wrappers and have an unsweetened ice tea. I’m a cheap date and I’ll still be the life of the party.

Now, Buffalo may be another story. I plan to go prepared with at least a month’s worth of provisions from Dr. Rick but will I have the same resolve in the place where I started getting fat as a child? I hope so. I was not initially interested in losing weight for our June 1st wedding. In fact, it hadn’t even occurred to me – except perhaps that I didn’t want to be heavier than Greg. Yesterday, Greg looked at me and said that both of us are losing weight and looking better. He also said, “We’re going to be looking at those wedding photos for a long, long time.” I laughed but I know what he means. I was way too fat at my daughter’s wedding and now I have to look at my giant arms cascading out of my flouncy cap sleeve looking like an advertisement for women’s arm wrestling. This time it will be different. I’m going to look as fabulous as someone my age can look…maybe even ten years younger than that fabulous. However, I think I’ll skip the flouncy cap sleeves.

I woke up this morning racked with pain so I decided to make a visit to the hot tub. When I wake with generalized pain walking is difficult so I slowly meandered my way the football field length to the tub. I set it for 15 minutes and got into the hot pounding water hopeful I would emerge a new woman…Katy Perry perhaps. As I sat there I looked around at the palm trees and the banana tree and realized that in a couple weeks all of this will be gone. I sat there in my worn out bathing suit that is now too big feeling guilty that I recently filled this size 14 to its maximum stretching capacity. I wanted to apologize to Greg for letting myself get so out of hand but then I realized that my weight and subsequent pain is what solidified our relationship. I had always held back just a little of my independence because I was afraid to let go. With all the pain I had to depend on Greg more than I ever let myself depend on anyone. Even something as horrifying as unrelenting pain can serve its purpose. I also wanted to apologize to my daughter for being absent for almost five years while she was starting her family. I then realized that the trip has changed me and opened me up in ways I never believed to be possible. So, the mom coming home is better than the mom who left for Phoenix in late 2008. I will miss the eternal summer of the southeast and the south west. I will never look forward to the cold and the snow but I will savor the other three seasons and blossom again every year with the spring like I used to before paradise. Like Greg said right before we made the decision to move back home, “It boils down to this. It’s either the weather we love or the people we love.” We chose people and I’m anxious to get back to the full catastrophe of human interaction. The messy, dirty, stress filled, chaotic, back and forth that defines a full life complete with people to mess up the calm clear waters of isolation. Goodbye to the warm winter nights, the wet swollen green of tropical trees, the saline air of the ocean, and everything that goes along with perpetual summer. Hello home.

There is a wonderful book by Geneen Roth called Women Food and God; an unexpected path to almost everything. In this book she talks about a sort of fat-farm in the desert where women re-examine their relationship with food. This sounds a little like a rehab facility for food. While you are in the facility you are in control because you are monitored and you don’t have the option of cheating. When you go home and face all of the stressors and temptations you are on your own. Right now I feel that I have internalized the message about food but I am only two months clean. How easy it would be to go back to the same way of being…the easy way where I have instant gratification from food. However, that would throw me back into an upward spiral with weight and pain. Can I be that rational once I am out of rehab? Will one cream puff lead to a life of over indulgence where I have to once again squeeze into a movie seat? I see myself in a struggle with good and evil. I feel it is important to completely detox before allowing any sugar back into my life. I know I’ll have to let some in but I am scared after 20 years of denial about my weight and health.

I suppose in some ways I blame my mother for my relationship to food. I wrote before of her attitudes about portion control and using food as love. However, I haven’t really mentioned my mother’s attitude toward fat people…especially fat women. My mother came from the era of paper thin movie stars. They were thin as birds and could wear a silk dress over a naked body without making ripples in the fabric. No bumps, no lumps. The only women in movies who were corseted up were the butt of jokes. They were middle aged overweight woman with full body corsets. Their dresses were draped over that body armor which resulted in unnaturally high bosoms. These older women of wealth were as staid in their relationship to life as they were in their undergarments. On the other hand, the starlets were waifs, thin and tiny to help make the men stars look more robust and larger. My mother comes from that generation when that wispy boyish look was the epitome of beauty. My mother’s vision of beauty was unnaturally slender with a little calf muscle for effect.

When she was 18 years old and married my father she was 5 feet 4 inches and only 98 pounds. She must have had the metabolism of a rabbit because she could not gain weight no matter how hard my father tried to fatten her up. Even after the birth of her first child she was skinny as a grasshopper. She never really got rid of the idea in her head of the slender almost androgynous ideal of beauty. Growing up with a mother who had that ideal stuck in her mind was damaging.

My mother had the habit of watching TV and commenting on everyone’s weight. Every time a young woman was on television she was subject to the scrutinizing eye of my mother, “Well, she’s cute…even if she is a little chubby…she’d be really beautiful if she lost about 10 pounds.” This was about a young woman who couldn’t have been more than a size six. I couldn’t help but compare myself to those flawless beauties and be reminded of my own imperfections. Those imperfections were pointed out to me on a regular basis.

When I was a teenager and thin as I could possibly be my mother would always comment on a body part. Something like “What a butt!” without explaining what that meant. Or she would use a lyric from an old song, “It must be jelly ‘cuz jam don’t shake like that.” I only found out later that the next line was “Oh mama you’re so big and fat.” but she never took it that far. I was a size 5 then…talk about a twisted body image. When I was going to my prom and I asked her how I looked she said, “Oh, you’ll pass in the dark.” She told me years later that she was kidding but even as an adult I didn’t find it funny. I had on a beautiful pink gown with a scoop neckline and accordion pleats. My hair was done in an up-do popular for proms in the early 1970’s…I had gone to Mr. Peter’s on Lovejoy where all my peers were getting their hair done for prom. I could not have felt better about how I looked until she said that to me and deflated my ego. I wondered if my butt looked too big or my thighs were bulging or maybe my face was too round or my neck to long and thin. I’m not blaming my mother for who I am now but it may have been nice to start from a healthier place as a young woman. She even tried to do the same thing to my daughter. I read her the riot act and she came back as usual telling me I was too sensitive and she was only kidding.

It was only after I got older and looked at my prom pictures that I understood how beautiful I looked. Even if I looked like a bloated ham I understand now that my mother’s job was to tell me I was beautiful…mostly because she shouldn’t have been able to see any flaws in me. That’s not how it went in our house.

This does not mean that my mother never gained weight. She did eventually blossom out to a fuller figure. She even got down right overweight for a while but she always went on a diet trying to attain the ideal. Even in her 70’s she tried to scale down to a slender waif although she could never quite attain the perfection of her youth. She was very conscious of her weight and of everyone’s weight around her. I remember one time when she was in her 70’s we had a garage sale. My mother’s companion John had just dropped some weight for health reasons and he was looking trim. He generally had the typical middle heavy stomach that men seem to get later in life. However, he lost his gut at about 80 and was looking fitter than he had in years. Some neighbors came over to see what we were selling in the garage sale. The commented on how fit John looked. Immediately, my mother jumped up and pulled her tee-shirt up over her stomach and danced around saying, “What about me? What about me? I lost weight too. Don’t I look good too?” The neighbors were horrified. The last thing they expected to see when they walked in our yard was my 73 year old mother’s midriff. It was embarrassing for me although by that time I knew that I had no control over my mother’s teenaged antics. I became desensitized to the incidents as a defense mechanism. In retrospect this skill has served me well because I am so thick skinned that no one can ever pierce me with an insult.

Now that I am clean and have the rational eyes that return after the delusion of addiction I am starting to take stock of everything around me. It seems we are all living in this state of delusion where we are disconnected from our joy. It used to be that life was meaningful even if it was more difficult. Mankind was connected to their survival more intimately…growing their own food; making their own clothes, furniture, and most of the necessary items for survival. Now we go to cubicles and do work to which we have no emotional attachment for something as meaningless as a paycheck. We are no longer cobblers, bakers, tailors, farmers, or any number of occupations where you create something that can be admired. Now we push papers and take phone calls to help someone else’s business run smoothly. We are unconnected to what is being produced, to the end product…no longer like the cobbler who handles and cares for the shoes he makes. If you work for a shoe company it is most likely as a salesman or accountant or customer service representative. Even the people who make the shoes are only working on one small part and have no feeling for the finished product. We are lost.

We are not connected to our communities. We live in high rises where we wouldn’t recognize our neighbors if we ran into them on the street. We barely nod and smile at the people who live right on the other side of the wall where we sleep and take meals. I am tired of the anonymity. I want to feel connected to what I do and to the people who live on my block. Any other way is not human and not healthy and it’s why we seek out comfort in the wrong kinds of activities. We try to numb the pain of being alone in our own bodies without meaning. The problem is our society, the way its structured is so based on money being the social glue and only essential element of trade. Money is in and of itself meaningless. If the whole world started to spin out of control money and the precious metals that back it would be worthless. Only the strength we gain through numbers and the basic needs of man would carry meaning. Food, shelter, and community would mean everything. Those $200 sneakers would carry no prestige. Prestige would be for those who knew how to forage for food or build shelter out of whatever raw materials were available. I know this takes it to extremes but I need to go completely back to find a more suitable position now.

Never have I felt more like having a vegetable garden or at least buying a share in an organic farm where I could meet the people who grow my food. I want to make a special trip into the country to buy eggs and chickens from people who don’t load up their livestock on hormones. I want to meet my neighbors when I move into Kenmore and let them know I’m there if they need me. Hell, when I’m ready to face sugar again I’ll bake some cookies for their kids. I’m not sure why these things are surfacing now that I am free of my addiction to sugar; I just know all of a sudden this kind of connection seems important. I was in a food coma and now I have been awakened. I am ready for a life of mindfulness where I not only think before I eat but I think period.


Kheema (Ideal Protein revised)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Small bunch of scallions, sliced thin – white and green parts

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch “thumb” of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 pound ground turkey, chicken or very lean beef

2 medium tomatoes diced (1/2 can of diced tomatoes)

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Put scallions, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl

2. Put coriander, paprika, garam masala, cumin, and cayenne in a small container

3. Heat oil to almost smoking and add ingredients from step 1, sauté quickly

4. Add ingredients from step 2 combine and cook for about a minute

5. Add ground meat, break up with a wooden spoon and brown

6. Add tomatoes & salt & pepper with about ½ cup water let simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally.

7. Add vinegar and cilantro and serve with steamed cauliflower

I have started to add the Chocolate Drink Mix to my hot coffee when I need a switch up from plain coffee. It is really good for a dessert coffee.

I tried the Chocolate Soy Puffs this week. They are pretty good although I do prefer the Peanut Soy Puffs which for some reason have been discontinued. The soy puffs make a handy snack at work.


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      4 years ago

      I hope you restart this blog, we want to know how you are.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I do adore your writing. It is not so much about food but life and food thrown in this week. You never did belong here in South Florida, your soul is in Buffalo. It is like Tara was to Scarlett. It gives you the strength and most of freedom to be who you are as a person, a real person who is so totally out of the norm, but the most refreshing person ih ave had the pleasure of getting to know for as long as I can remember in my life. I share so much of your ideals in the whole growing food and just getting back to the basic things in life. Everything around us is fabricated. What happened to real neighbors and fresh veggies from your own garden, and building something with your hands. I love making things with wood, you know that, and there is nothing like it in the world looking afterwards at something you did. Then get to see it used for good as time goes by. I have complete faith in you as you move back to continue on your journey and succeed. You are too far along to go backwards, mentally you are where you need to be. And keep reminding yourself of just how far you have come, not only in the weight loss, but the way you have allowed your mind to open up and truly understand how and why and what needs to be done. Mind set. Enlightenment. You have made it. Now, hold on to it. there is no piece of food that can take that away. None. Do not let it.

      Chili's, I don't expect you to drink. never did. i am sorry you feel that pressure. Although I do wish I would have known you were a mind reader, i may have taken you up on a reading sometime. :) Heck, I know you know my mind better than I know it itself. Scary. I am this juvenile little person who is so below where you are in the great caste system of knowledge in the universe. i can only hope to think as deeply and understand as much about life as you.

      I know this move is scary. But it is time. it is time for you to feel connected to those who bring out the bedt in you and allow you to show off your talents, your insight, and give you the freedom to relax and be who you really are. Crazy, wild, smart, loving, creative, and did I mention a junior guru?

      Stay strong, you are definitively morphing physically for the better. And your mind, you conscious, well it is on one big happy "ahhh i get it now" moment. :)

    • profile image

      Sister Suzette 

      5 years ago

      Hey kiddo, I liked your blog this week. Keep up the good work and congratulations on your weight loss so far. I know you can do it because you're made of good stock. Not only Mom but Dad. He always was the glue that held our family together. You never experienced that because of Mom over indulgence of affection for you. He was super and the best Dad. Love you and really proud of your success. I know that you will succeed to your goal.


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