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(I almost can’t write this, I still feel intense shame.)

There were two times in my my life when I was poor enough to feel actual physical hunger. The first was when my parents first separated and I was living with my mother in a commune in Berkeley (CA).* I’d been wrested from a typical middle-class (white) suburban lifestyle full of meat and bread in unlimited quantities and thrust willy-nilly into a hippie commune. No sugar. Homemade bread. No meat, except when we killed a chicken or rabbit. Nothing processed.

I hated it.

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Seven ago today I began a process of deliberately poisoning my body; in the medical profession this is called chemotherapy.

It was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life. Partly because it wasn’t a one time even, but a whole series of sessions. And it got worse as time went on.

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On Dec 23 I was crossing the street on my way home and was hit by a car.

Said like that: how terrifying and scary!

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I eat a lot of eggs for breakfast, pretty much every day in fact. During the week that usually means I’ve created some kind of ‘bake’ — veggies, maybe meat, probably some cheese, covered in an egg/milk combination and then baked until the eggs are set.

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Creating a kind of mission statement.

1. My mind, body and soul are very important to me. I promise to take care of them by…

Treating my body with respect for the hard work it does so elegantly. Cherishing its strength and helping it achieve its best level of health. Feeding my brain art, literature, music, and puzzles to keep it sharp and active. Filling my soul with art and music, and beauty so that I might maintain my divine connection with the Lord and Lady.

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In June I challenged myself to do yoga every day. Knowing that I probably wouldn’t be able to do it every single day, I gave myself a bit of an out: my challenge was to get to the mat, if only metaphorically. If I could show up, that would count. So, how did I do?

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The oysters of my youth were huge things, briny and thick — I hated them and couldn’t see why people made such a fuss over them.

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(To be revisited in six months, around my birthday.)

Health:

Peri-menopause is proving to be more difficult than I expected, although why I thought it would be another else, I’m not sure. Having spent two years attempting to get in better shape I find myself at the same place, nearly, that I was post-chemo. This (literally) depressing. (A mental state I wrestle with far too often to be healthy.)

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More than anything, I feel healthy when I get enough sleep. That amount has varied over the years, but it’s getting to be a larger number. I get up early, most days, so managing an evening social life has become more difficult as a result. But if I don’t get 7.5 hours of sleep, I really notice it. I can get by on 6 hours for a few days, but the ‘fog’ is perceptible, and coffee required . . . which can lead to restless sleep and not getting enough sleep, needing caffeine to function . . . BAM! vicious circle enacted. No bueno. Some weekends I sleep in and get 9 hours, and that feels great. I do that on vacations as well, I notice.

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(These are originally from┬áBob Harper, Oprah’s weight loss and fitness ‘guy’. Now, whatever you may think about Oprah (and she is a conflicting personality), the woman has literally made a career out of her journey into health. I think Harper is the most realistic of her gurus and his list is sensible.)

1. Drink a large glass of water before every meal.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. Eat protein at every meal.
4. Slash your intake of refined flour and grain.
5. Eat 30-50 grams of fiber each day.
6. Eat apples and berries every single day.
7. Learn to read food labels so you know what you are eating.
8. Stop guessing about portion size and get it right.
9. No more added sweeteners.
10. Get rid of white potatoes.
11. Make one day a week meatless.
12. Get rid of ‘fast’ and fried foods.
13. Eat a real breakfast.
14. Make your own food.
15. Eat at least 10 meals a week at home.
16. Banish high-salt foods.
17. Eat your vegetables.
18. Go to bed hungry.
19. Sleep right.
20. Plan one ‘splurge’ meal a week.

What I will add to this is:
Plan your meals and prep as much as possible in advance. Personally, I make very bad food choices if I don’t have a good breakfast. Also, I can’t eat cereal for breakfast (bad intestinal things happen, although I am neither gluten- or lactose-intolerant). So I take time on Sundays to make my breakfast for the week: baked berry oatmeal,, or baked eggs with veggies in either tortillas or hash browns, or ricotta cheese waffles w/ fruit sauce, crustless veggie quiche, etc. Bringing my breakfast makes a huge difference in how well I do during a day.

Another key is having a variety of snacks. I am a ‘hangry’ person, so getting low blood sugar is a Bad Idea. My office keeps ‘Naked Medley’ snacks — plain nuts and raisins — on hand, and I reach for them if I run out of what I bring from home. From home I try to bring a variety, because that helps me keeps from feeling like I am on a diet. Sardines on whole grain toast are nummy (but you’ve GOT to keep them sealed in a smell-proof container and eat them over two days or your office mates will hate you), guacamole on sliced veg, hard boiled egg with a slice of nut & fruit bread, salmon ‘candy’ (from Vital Choice), apple with peanut butter, fresh fruit, or just the old standby: sliced carrots and celery.

My lunches are usually leftovers from dinner, which makes meal planning very easy and keeps me from being tempted to spend money/ eat excess calories by buying lunch.

So that leaves dinner planning as my complicated weekly task. (And I’ll do another blog post on how I do dinner planning a month at a time, and then I just have to tweak weekly.)

Other smart eating tips I’ve ‘discovered’ over the years are:

  • Drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up. Keep a mug by your sink and do it before/ after you brush your teeth. It’s worth the extra 15 seconds.
  • Eat the highest quality food you can afford, starting with your proteins. (Costco does a really good job of working with organic producers, so join their club and get good prices. They also have organic milk, eggs, and butter.)
  • Eat when you are hungry, not according to the clock.
  • Eat slowly. Put your fork down frequently. Stop eating when you stop feeling hungry, NOT when you are feeling full. It takes a while for your brain to catch up with your stomach so give it that time. You can always get a bit more food.
  • Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter. Eat all of the fruit before it goes bad. (You can always cut it up and freeze it for smoothies. but make a smoothie that week.)
  • Switch to smaller plates: use salad plates instead of dinner plates.
  • Read the label:
    if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, don’t eat the food
    if it has more than 5 ingredients, seriously contemplate whether you want to eat it
    can you create it yourself? if so, would purchasing it truly make your life simpler?

There is no such thing as a ‘diet’ — there are changes to what you eat that suit your lifestyle that will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Since your lifestyle will change, so too will what you eat. It’s a fluid situation, not static — don’t get stuck. Moreover, there are plenty of ‘skinny’ people who are incredibly unhealthy (high cholesterol, diabetic, etc.) Pay attention to your HEALTH, not your weight. Are you fit? Are your numbers (cholesterol, glucose, etc.) good? then you are healthy.

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