Tag Archives: Buzzfeed

Day 14: Clean Eating Challenge fulfilled

We did it. We did the Buzz Feed Clean Eating challenge and didn’t cheat. We stared down the bear and it walked away … for now. We lost a few pounds, feel a ton better, re-established needed discipline, revved up our metabolism with small meals and most importantly broke that compulsive hold over me for dessert.

I’d say it’s a success.

But now the real fun begins. We have to sustain it. So really it’s not over at all. In fact, it’s just beginning. We will not have a celebratory In-N-Out Burger or a massive piece of chocolate cake. It won’t work that way. We’ll stay the course as boring as that sounds.

We will make adjustments:

  • like no more salads for dinner. I hate salad for dinner. I want DINNER for dinner, not more lunch.
  • I will also add in some bread, because I love to make it. But not too much, and not too often. I’m resolved to only eat breads when I make them to make sure we don’t eat too much.
  • We will have dessert now again. But again we’ll try to limit it to those we make and limit the sugar we eat to those we intentionally choose, not pick up through processed foods or late-night snacks.

All of that was needed. In short, this challenge helped us feel back on track again. These things above, along with an intentional plan to eat smaller meals, eat clean, focus on vegetables and stay consistent will help us transition and make this sustainable. Besides, we were eating mostly well. It was the outer edges that were problems. The binges, the second-helpings, the weekends, the late-night snacks that were destroying all the point of the mostly well we did do.

No food challenge is perfect. This had its flaws. But would I recommend it? Heartily. It’s the best thing we’ve done in a year.

But like I said, now the hard part comes. We have to sustain it, which leads me to the single most important lesson I learned these past two weeks: I have to treat my eating like I do my alcoholism. 

I really do.

And it depresses the shit out of me.

I simply don’t ever want to be fat again. After five years of fighting back from the gradual creep into dangerous obesity, after three years of having lost 100 pounds and keeping at least 80 off, after five years of regular exercise that has me in good enough condition to run a mountainous half-marathon in two weeks, after five years of intentional, focused, healthy living, after five years of sobriety, it stuns me to know my body is still fighting me. The battle to stay fit and trim continues. In fact, in may be harder today than when I started 100 pounds ago.

My body just wants its fat back. It’s the only way I can explain it. Plus, my mind wants its addictions and compulsions back. It wants what it wants and since it can no longer have wine or scotch or vodka, it really, really wants chocolate and pizzas and burgers and fries.

Before we stared this challenge, I noticed some weight gain. But more than anything I noticed how badly I wanted dessert at night. How obsessed I had become about certain foods. How much I craved. That’s addictive thinking. In some ways, my addictions to eat the stuff that makes me gain weight is more insidious than my desire for alcohol.

So I have to pursue it the same way in order to be successful. The bear will return. I have to face that. But how I deal with it, how I approach it will make all the difference.

What did I learn these two weeks? That I am in recovery of food and booze, so the work continues…. one day at a time.

 

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Day ten: Clean eating in a pennant race

Today is one of the days every addict faces when life’s road seems determined to detour your best efforts. Because today is day ten of our 16-day, clean-eating challenge/detox/ break-the-addictive-compulsive fixation on chocolate, dessert- and other-shit-that-makes-me-fat day.

It’s also The Bride’s birthday, which begs for things like Tony’s pizza and a massive chocolate cake with homemade peanut butter ice cream (none of which The Bride wants because she’s nearly as insane about this clean eating challenge as she is about the insanity workout she’s doing).

But see, I’m planning the birthday, so I have plausible deniability if I want to run us right off the rails into a combo pizza big enough to satisfy a Roman god.

Then to make matters worse, part of The Bride’s present today is one of the simple greatest pleasures on this green ball of humanity hurling through space: a day baseball game at ATT Park in the PLAYOFFS with our beloved Giants embarked on another of their tortourous runs to the World Series championship. It’s especially meaningful for me because the first time they won in 2010, I watched alone in a day room of a drug and alcohol treatment facility I was in, while my family made plans to attend the parade back home in Downtown San Francisco.

Needless to say, we’re going to the game today. Day baseball? The Giants? Discount nosebleed seats? Check, check and check.

But interwoven in that check list is also, chili dog, garlic fries and Ghirardelli chocolate sundae. Check, check and DOUBLE check!

eh hmmm… the Bride said a few moments ago. Not so fast.

“I already gave up beers at a game, so I’m not giving up the hot dog. But it will be a plain dog. No extras. And I won’t even order the Garlic Fries!”

I applaud her commitment (outwardly) even while I curse her inwardly. Say goodbye my lovely Ghirardelli. Sigh.

So day ten of this challenge is truly the first that officially BLOWS.  We ate our morning omelette, packed a snack of peanuts and fruit and will swap in only a hot dog. The Bride already worked out. It’s my rest day, so I’ll be back on the road tomorrow. We avoid my secretly desired detour and will finish the race.

Sigh.

But you know what? It’s been great. I don’t obsess about chocolate at night while unwinding like I was. The Bride feels so much more energetic. We both feel like we’ve stopped the waistline creep dead in its tracks. And mostly, and this is the most important reason of all to do this challenge, we’ve recalibrated our meals. We’ve gotten into a routine of five small meals. We’re eating smaller portions again. We like the creativity of the menu ideas, which is helping me break out of the menu standby ruts. Not everything works. Some dinners are like more lunch (lots of salads, which get old) and some dinners are more like the side dish, as if the main course got lost on the way to the plate. It’s not perfect by any means. It’s not even completely sustainable. We will eat SOME bread and A few desserts now and again. Their will always have to be room for Tony’s Pizza. But the framework of sustainability is there and most importantly, we feel back ON track after several months of eating drift.

In short, I may bitch (alot) and I may grouse about a birthday at the ballpark in the playoffs with less than exciting food, but I couldn’t recommend this challenge more, especially before the holidays, before things get really out of control.

Balance. It’s the key to everything. I lost it before this challenge. Now I see it coming back. Follow the Bride on Twitter today at the game. It’s sure to be interesting!

Go GIANTS!

 

Day four: Clean eating re-centers focus

On a beautiful fall day we sat across the table from our daughter and her significant other and talked about exciting plans. Conversation was lively, the company excellent, the views outside the restaurant were gorgeous, The Bride looked lovely, our daughter was happy and all I could think about was the bread in the basket just across the table.

Turns out, I found out later, The Bride was right there with me.

“I wanted to snatch it from them with a huge slab of butter,” she said.

But we didn’t. We let it sit there. Two pieces, untouched, sitting in the basket the entire meal. I even had to let them get thrown away, which usually turns me into Sheldon in The Bing Bang Theory’s clone.

Ta da!

We didn’t break. So it goes with our Clean Eating challenge as we hit the middle of our first week. The challenge is pretty simple: no processed foods of any kinds, very low in carbs, high in lean protein, tons of veggies, five meals a day, yet all small and no Mulligans. We’re sticking to it.

I can say that now with confidence because we passed the bread test. As is clear from this site, I love everything about bread. Especially making it. Eating it is pretty zipbang special too. About the only thing I crave more is chocolate and, oddly, that is allowed a couple of times in this challenge! So if we were going to blow it, the bread would have been it.

So that’s the good news. We’re going to make it, I’m pretty sure. It’s not really that hard at all. The menus are so well-organized that cooking is quick and not having to plan or think about it removes a lot of the temptation to make a fat burger with fries,

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or whip up one of my favorite binge foods.

We’ve had some really good meals in these past few days. I can honestly say I’ve never had a more lively, delicious salad as this Asparagus and egg salad on Day One.

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It also has taken things we eat often and given them a twist, which has helped me get out of the rut of things were eating, even when we were eating healthy. What’s not to love about this:

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And my usual morning omelet was streamlined to make it much healthier, but it still tasted just fine. So I had to ditch the salami and ricotta and have instead a little goat cheese and peppers, but it was fine.

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The whole point of this thing — to rediscover the physical, spiritual and emotional balance that is critical to sobriety, and to keep the creep of weight gain from getting out of control — is being met better than I expected. I feel far more centered and less obsessive about food. I’m not having addictive cravings about dessert at night that I can’t mentally shake (though The Bride had a dream about Chocolate Cake last night… wish I had that dream to tell you the truth). We walked nearly 20,000 steps yesterday, worked out, spent 20 minutes in quiet spiritual devotion and god some work done. In short, I feel more like I did a year ago, when I felt great… great enough to start this whole website focused on celebrating healthy recovery.

So for those keeping score at home, I’d have to say the plus side of this effort so far is kicking the sugar addiction I had in full swing before I started, kicking my metabolism into hyper drive and feeling more in balance overall again. The negative side, the hangover like headache that comes with the detox is a bummer (though on it has finally started to ease up) and the lack of any breads likely isn’t sustainable. I’ll put breads (and the occasional dessert) back into the meal plan going forward, but far less often as we were doing before started this plan.

And yes, like I said, we even had chocolate:

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So ask yourself: What’s keeping you from taking the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge today?

 

Day One: Juice cleanse detoxes dessert addiction

I’m an addict. Of course, that’s well documented here at a site that is basically dedicated to recovery. What’s different about that statement, what might not be as well known, is that as an addict I run a gamut of addictions every day.

I’m an alcoholic who drank every day for twenty years. I haven’t had a drink in more than five. That’s good. I’m doing well.

But I still end up flat footed often when the addict part of me surfaces. I may not be tempted much any more to drink, but the same thought processes in my brain still run amok like a lab let off a leash amid a flock of seagulls.

Lately it’s been sugar. Dessert to be precise. I love dessert. It’s clearly a swapped drug to some extent. I used to love happy hours and nighttime cocktails and everything that made my brain fuzzy and my anxiety quiet. Now, it’s those bites of decadence at the end of a long day. I may not get quite the same buzz experience, but the firing in my brain is pretty similar. Dessert soothes me, as weird as that sounds. And those times I don’t reward myself, I find my mind obsessing on cravings of chocolate late at night watching Netflix and thinking only about a batch of cookies or something like it.

I had to admit, I was powerless. So I looked at the bear within and got serious. I started a food detox, both to combat the growing creep of weight gain, but also to get my mental state aligned properly. I felt out of alignment. Chocolate had knocked me out of balance. This food refocusing is meant to center me up again  and break the addictive thinking about dessert.

(OK, the fact that much of this site is dedicated to food recipes, many that are desserts is not lost on me. I love desserts and will love them again. The challenge is to love within reason!)

Sound extreme? Maybe. Nobody I know of ran a car through a shopping center drunk on dessert, so maybe it’s not as bad. But seeing how obesity is rampant, and people are dying of obesity-related diseases at an epidemic rate, maybe this addiction is extreme.

I don’t know really. I just know I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling complusiveThat is how desserts had become. A compulsion.

So I started this food plan, the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge knowing I needed a higher power. Buzzfeed is it for the next couple of weeks.

But I went a step further as well. I decided I needed to detox a bit before I started. I need to purge the drug of dessert.

So I did a cleanse.

I actually wanted to do a full-scale colonic, but that had to wait. This food challenge couldn’t wait. So I bought a cleanse product from Trader Joe’s that really is a whole bunch of fiber pills. I used it once several years ago and found it helpful, but not invasive. I did one of these cleanses before that and it was well… explosive. Invasive doesn’t do it justice. I felt wrung out from the inside and just didn’t want to experience that much purging this time around.

But to make sure I completely cleanses, I also started my Trader Joe cleanse with a 24 hour fast and juice cleanse.

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The Bride and I trotted over to the farmer’s market and about $40 bucks worth of fruits and vegetables. I didn’t have my juicer, so we just mashed them all to bity bits in the blender and made juices the texture of smoothies.

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The Bride and I talked about doing a three-day juice cleanse, but about two juices into it, and the cost of the fruits and veggies to sustain it, quickly changed our minds. We settled on one day.

The juices were (not) good. Not. Really, just ugh. I tried to like them. But I was quickly hungry. And the Trader Joes Fiber was twisting my gut a bit. And I was feeling tired and grumpy and and…

Day one sucked, to put it plainly. It was not in the least bit sustainable, which, as I often say, is critical to any food plan. But this wasn’t a food plan, it was detox. It was meant to be hell, I think. Maybe I wanted to punish myself.

What surprised me was not the hunger or the cravings. What did surprise me was my body’s reaction. It rebelled. I felt back pains. My head ached. I felt sluggish. Later in the day I could actually feel the toxins coming off me (ok, not actually actually, but sort of mystically actually… let’s just call it figuratively). I felt like I was… well, hung over, if you can believe that.

I couldn’t. It wasn’t like I was stuffing my face with Ding Dongs for the past three years. I ate pretty well over all. But clearly I was more out of balance than I thought. My dessert cravings had impacted my internal well being.

Turns out, The Bride was right there with me. By the end of the day we were a mess. We slugged off to bed early. As we lay there in the darkness my head swirled. Then I heard the Bride say,

“My head is swimming like I’m drunk. This is nuts.”

Yes. Very. So maybe this food addiction is pretty extreme. Maybe more people should try to detox for a day and see just what their body is trying to tell them. Maybe we’are all little more addicted than we think.

Sick and tired: A plan to tame the bear and get our mojo back

Have you ever stood face-to-face with a bear? I haven’t either. I’m from the city for godsakes. But, I suspect, it would be a memorable encounter. I suspect it might have been the thing that gave birth to the term “scared shitless.”

I saw my own bear recently. Right there in the mirror. I felt scared shitless.

As a former fatty, I can’t write about food, recovery, health and fitness without being ever mindful of the inner fatty that still lurks within. And frankly, it’s lurking without rather than just within more and more each day. The love handles are filling into kettle balls lately. I had to admit, I’ve had enough of the slow creep of weight gain and waist gain.

It’s my bear. In a sense, I’ve been fighting it or fearing it my entire life. I’ve had to watch what I eat my entire life.

I’m not a fan of diets. They don’t usually build in long-lasting change even if they may strip the fat off for a bit. Suffering will do that.  Abstinence helps too. But neither are generally sustainable — voluntarily that is — so the things that strip the weight off will not be around to keep it off. Predictably, the weight comes back with a fury.

But on a recent long run preparing for an upcoming half-marathon, I couldn’t get past how I just didn’t feel right. I later looked into the mirror and sure enough, I was carrying to much weight. I just don’t look trim any more.

A feeling came over me that was as strong as a tornado ripping through a Kansas farm town. I felt pissed. Betrayed (by myself). Infuriated. I worked way, way, way, way too hard to lose weight and get fit. But because I’m still fit, I lost sight of the first part. I am getting heavier, which means sooner or later the fit part will erode too.

I had to make a change.

Turns out The Bride was right there with me. She’s become something of an Insanity groupie recently, enduring 40 minutes of nastiness and enough jumping to join a Kangaroo club. She’s all in. Each morning she’s red-faced and sweaty, checking her heart rate with no idea what she’s checking despite finger dutifully pressed to her throat amid gasping breath. Each morning she jumps and twists, and jogs and kicks and pops pain killers to quiet her rebellious Achilles tendon and cusses Shawn T and then goes on to teambeachbody.com to join her fellow masochists. She is really, really into the Insanity craze.

But you know what? She still isn’t losing the belly flab either, she says (Lord knows I’d never say such a thing… these are her words!). She’s fit too. Stronger than she’s ever been. Great condition, but the weight just isn’t coming off like she wants. She doesn’t want to hear that at 47 she can’t have a beach body still.

beach body

Turns out she felt just like I do, that she was staring at the bear and pretty freaked out. My Tornado of Ire quickly became hers as well.

We decided we needed a plan. An EATING plan to be exact. Something a good deal like a… diet, God forbid.

But if there’s one thing I won’t change is this: I won’t do things to lose weight that aren’t sustainable. I won’t drink diet shakes or fast or buy Jenny Craig or count points. If I can’t live the eating plan I won’t do it.  So we had to find something, some plan to better coordinate our eating and get some weight off in a way that would be sustainable.

After some hunting we found such a plan, the BuzzFeed Clean Eating Challenge. It’s not a diet as much a re-calibration of the type of eating The Bride and I strive to do all the time. It’s focus on lean proteins, absence of processed food and balanced meals fit with our goals.

The plan is wonderfully prepared with shopping list, menus, recipes, photos, printouts and everything you need to just dive in and do it. Just do it. That’s language I can live with it.

We stopped fearing and got busy with the plan. It’s day one. We are off. We’ll keep you posted here in the next two weeks to come with a honest review of this plan’s effectiveness.

Hopefully we’ll tame the bear. I’ve been at this too long to know I can’t kill it, but if I can tame it again, let it hibernate, I can recapture the balance I’ve enjoyed the past few years. That, like my bear, I can live with.