Of experiments in cooking and thoughts on body image

I read a really fascinating article this morning linked through one of my favorite blogs  (she’s great. I highly recommend giving her a read) about having the perfect model body and the idea that women can eat pizza, drink beer, and still maintain a size 2 figure. I was capable of this in high school when I was dancing 15 hours a week and had a metabolism that ran like the Indy 500. Gentically, I’m pretty thin. I can easily wrap my thumb and forefinger around my wrist with room to spare. In the past 6 years, I’ve gained and lost about 40 pounds. I always knew a healthy diet and exercise were something I should do regularly , but most of the time I didn’t care. Until I stepped on a scale and saw that number. Yes, yes I know I shouldn’t associate my self worth with a number, but I did. And to be frank, sometimes I still do. I’ll go through phases where I’m getting regular exercise, enough sleep, and drinking green smoothies once a day. The weight will come off. Then it’s back to the pizza, pasta, and cupcakes. And the weight returns. In my recent weight loss, it was entirely without effort. After I got the DUI, I was so anxious that I couldn’t get myself to eat actual food for days. I quit drinking immediately after that even before the law said I couldn’t drink for a year. Around the same time, we moved into our new building at work. To get to my desk, I have to walk up 2 flights of stairs. If I want to go outside, I have to walk back down said flights of stairs. I don’t get cell phone service at my desk, so I have to walk outside to check my phone. I’ll end up doing that 2 or 3 times a day. They built a walking trail to make it easier for the employees to get a little exercise during the day. People started commenting how good I looked. I weighed myself and I’d lost 15 pounds. Then I was officially diagnosed with epilepsy.

Since the epilepsy diagnosis and finding out what’s really bad for me (alcohol and artificial sweeteners) and what’s recommend to avoid (caffeine and MSG), I’ve been relearning how to cook for myself. My mom has always been an excellent cook. To this day, she still makes dinner for my dad and me at least 5 nights a week. I learned to bake when I was 11 or 12 and started out with the boxed mixes. As I got older, I expanded my horizons to experimenting with more complex recipes, both dessert and actual meals. I went through a brief paleo phase when I was doing CrossFit as the program encouraged cutting out carbs. That ended up working out well in the long run as a ton of bread products have “enriched” flour in them. Currently, an egg, cheese, zucchini, and spinach frittata is cooling on the stove. Pasta with tomatoes, garlic, seasoned mozzarella balls, and olive oil is on the menu for lunch. I still have caffeine on the weekends. I’ll never be able to completely cut out MSG. That’s an impossible goal unless I only eat vegetables. And I’m not down with that. I love my cheese. I love pumpkin muffins from Trader Joe’s. I stock up on that like crazy when they have the mix in the fall. We went out to a sushi restaurant last night and I didn’t give the ingredients a second thought (though I did avoid the soy sauce). I actually enjoyed it more without the soy sauce. I discovered new things that I liked. I was surprised by things that I thought I would enjoy and didn’t.

As Boy pointed out, it’s not worth making myself miserable to decrease the chance of having a seizure by a small amount. I love food. I love to cook. I love to try new recipes and see what works and what doesn’t. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a personal chef (Mom) since I moved back home. Whatever the reason, I’m back on the proverbial cooking wagon. The weight is still coming off. I have no idea where I’ll finally end up, but I’m not going to deny myself. I’ll have the cake if I want it. I can have the pasta. I’ll jump on a trampoline once a week for half an hour and call that my cardio for the week. I’ll have my green smoothies. As hard as it is to retrain myself to not care about calories in vs. calories out, I’m getting there. I don’t restrict like I used to. I don’t purposely deny myself things I love for the sake of losing a third of a pound. I do my best to eat healthy most of the time and have only the best when I’m not.

I put an effort into how I look. I take time picking outfits and knowing what looks good on me. I put on make up daily now. I started using eye cream and daily sunscreen last year. I make an effort with how I present myself to the world. Sure, I’ll lounge around in an old shirt and shorts that are inappropriate for public when I’m around the house. But I’ll put on real pants if people are going to see me. Other than the epilepsy, I’m actually pretty healthy. All the basic metrics they use to measure health are on point or lower than average. Funny how life works sometimes.

Now time to try out the frittata and ignore putting on pants until it’s time to leave.


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