My butt, January 2009

My butt,  January 2009
(who could miss it)

My butt, January 2010

My butt, January 2010
photos by Tom Peal

Welcome to You and All your Brilliant Parts!

In 2009 I lost 40 lbs and I got a new butt. How? Diet and exercise, that's the short answer. But all of the things I learned that made it emotionally possible, that allowed me to succeed when I had failed before - that will take longer. This blog celebrates the intelligence of the body. Please leave me a note to let me know what you think of this writing, if it's been helpful. I welcome your input and experience.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Five Tibetans" good for the low-landers too ...

"The Five Tibetan Rites" may have come from an esoteric tradition, but they are a powerful strength and flexibility exercise routine for anybody. This series of exercises doesn't take very long to do, and the results are impressive. You'll certainly feel them the next day.
I am particularly interested in opening up and strengthening my wrists, and this is giving me a way to work on that.
Later, Jenni

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pre-Pre-Fast: Time for the Big Brain to shine!

Okay, transformational specialists, here's the plan.

For the next three weeks your goals are to:
1.) replace less nutritious foods in your diet with more nutritious foods and choose some categories to eliminate this month
2.) reduce the total amount of food you eat every day and simplify your diet
3.) examine and refine your lifestyle for health
4.) read Pamela Serure's 1997 book 3 Days to Vitality and verify it with your own research

Here are my suggestions for each goal.

Remember, you're not starting from zero.  However unhappy you may be about your present weight, you're not stupid.  You've gathered useful information about food and diet and yourself all of your life.  I am not a fan of "everything you know is wrong" approaches (to anything.)  Use what you know and learn more.

Plus, information about food and nutrition is so available and diverse that it's often contradictory and confusing.  Somebody loves carrots, somebody thinks they're nothing but sugar bombs.

So, use these three weeks to boost and refine your sense of personal power.  You are an adult and have the ability to judge what's good for you: read, reflect, practice.

Just for reference, I'll tell you my typical diet is made up of fruits and vegetables (raw and cooked), lean meats, whole grains, healthy oils and some animal fats, nuts and seeds, various spices and herbs, cheese and yogurt, and teas.

Here are the specific food adaptations I will make to my diet March 1 - 27:
- I will eliminate all sugar-sweets,  fried foods, alcohol, pasta and breads made from refined flours, butter and cheese.  To be honest, the sugar-sweets, refined flours, and fried foods will be no problem, since I quit eating them last year and I'm no longer addicted to them.
- I will gradually reduce caffeine, because the program won't allow it.

The more I read about food, the more exciting a subject it becomes.  I love food.  A lot of good work is being done regarding nutrition, gastronomy, traditional foods, etc. and there's a lot out there of interest.

When evaluating your diet for nutrition, open your mind to new foods and new ways of preparing them.  For instance, in the last year I've included a lot more sea vegetables in my diet (watch for recipes on this blog) and have begun fermenting vegetables and making my own yogurt.  I'm convinced (based on study and practice) that these adaptations to my diet are providing me with more of the vitamins and minerals I need.  Right now, I'm interested in what I've read about the value of bone broths, and I'll probably start trying them out.

Nutrition in foods is not just related to what kind of food they are (carrot vs. twinkie), but also how they're grown, how fresh they are, how they're prepared, and how and when they're eaten.  Study up.

Look into vitamins and supplements - I take a liquid multi-vitamin, calcium (per Dr.'s orders), flax oil and fish oil.  I also have an aspirin every day for inflammation caused by obesity, as recommended by Dr.s Oz and Roizen.

I am aware of calories in my diet, but I think of them from the total food viewpoint.  Cake with icing has a lot of calories, potatoes with butter have a lot of calories.  Which provides the highest quality nutrition?  Okay, that was an easy one.  How about a chicken breast or a link of chicken sausage?  Hmm, a little more difficult because of the variables of the items themselves.  How big are the pieces?  Organic or factory farm?  Fresh or frozen?

You will feel so much better when you cut down your over-all amount of food per day.  Your digestive system will find out what it means to rest.

Frankly, this is not easy for me.  The amount of food I eat in portion size, meal size, and number of times I eat is even more tied to habit and emotion in me than the actual foods.  So this is the goal that takes the most conscious effort.

My bottom line for this part of my program is whether I feel heavy or light.  I reduce the amount of food I eat so that I feel light but not light-headed.  I notice if I am getting depressed in the afternoon - have I supported myself nutritionally?  I get used to not being full at the end of meals - I re-visit what it means to be nourished.

You! On a Diet has lots of good information and strategies that will help you with this goal.

Eat your last food early enough in the evening so that you have three hours before you lie down to go to sleep.  This will really relax your digestive system - a longer fast every 24 hour period.  This one adaptation alone will be very rewarding.  If you get really hungry and desperate in the evening (before you're used to this) take a hot bath with sweet-smelling somethings and go to bed.

Simplify your diet by eating the same thing every day for at least one meal.  At my house, that meal is breakfast:  We eat steel-cut oats with milk or yogurt, plus walnuts, flax seeds, flax meal, fresh and / or dried fruit, and flax oil every day for breakfast - it's routine.  They also suggest that you simplify your eating and support healthy routines by having meals at regular times; if you like snacks at certain times, make them routine too.

If you've ever been on a diet, you've probably learned some helpful tricks and strategies - it's time to pull them all out.  Does food journaling work for you?  Counting calories?  Careful weighing and measuring of food?  Sucking on a rock?  Sugar-free gum?  A rewarding cup of juice or broth at a certain time of the day?  Share these suggestions if you wish - they might be helpful to others.

You! On a Diet contains a meal-planned type of diet, and if you are more comfortable following a proscribed program, do it.  Of course there are other good, balanced diet programs out there - Weight Watchers comes to mind (I lost 70 lbs on WW when I was younger.)

If you are in charge of the diet for other members of your family, this may be the time to get their support with meal preparation for themselves or teach them new shopping / planning / food-prep skills.  Don't allow contingency thinking in yourself: "If they ... then I ..."  It's a loser.

Visualize what your pre-pre-fast diet will be and then do it.

Since you're focusing on your body's desire to be lighter right now, it's a good time to look at all areas of your lifestyle and how they support your health.  Mind, body, spirit.

You are able to transform your body from fat and uncomfortable to strong and full of light.  That's an amazing thing to do, and you know you can do it.  That means you can do anything you want in your life, really.  Sometimes the problem is knowing what you want.  But you don't have that problem now!  You want, your body wants, your soul wants, to be healthy!

Start with what you know and learn more (I know I've already said that, but I'll keep on.)

First, understand right now that you will not be successful with your weight-loss or long-term health plans if you don't make exercise a regular part of your life.   Once again, You! On a Diet can help you here.  The book contains an excellent twenty-minute strength workout, requiring no equipment or special environment, that is recommended for three times a week.  The book also recommends walking daily.

In my life, I've adapted those recommendations.  Last year, Tom and I started bicycling (more about that later), and I either bicycle or walk every day.  Also, because I like Iyengar-style yoga, which increases not only flexibility but strength, I usually substitute some form of yoga session for the other routine.  I can certainly recommend the book's routine, though, because I did it for at least a month last year and continue to use some of the exercises.

Changing your eating patterns means you'll be disrupting some of your comfort routines, and your mind may object.  Use it to find alternative activities.  Eating is a sensual activity that's tied to pleasure, security, strength and health.  You can find other things that fit the bill.  Seek out or choose from interests like aromatherapy, literature, sports, games, nature, art, crafting, dance, magic, humor, massage, animals, horticulture or agriculture, movies, fashion, music, photography, ancestry, poetry, make-up; these don't have to be "holy" pursuits, just satisfying ones.

If you're a religious person, look into the traditions of your religion and you will find many activities that may be very satisfying to you that revolve around prayer, icon or saint worship, service of various kinds, etc.  If you're an orthodox eclectic like me, you can look at other people's religions and find interesting things to do or just go native and talk to the trees.

If you are troubled by rage, depression, anxiety or other emotional problems, or marital problems, now may be the time to seek out and initiate a therapy program.  Conversely, you may feel that now is not the time to add that activity, that just doing the weight-loss program is stressful or helpful enough.  If that's the case, I recommend regular journalling as a place-holder for therapy.  By the time you initiate therapy with a professional you'll have lots of good stuff to work on.

Similarly, if you have unhealthy habits like smoking or un-prescribed or illicit self-medication, now may be the time to take a break.  Conversely, now may be the time to study up on taking a break - but remember, when you do the fast, that will have to go.

Now is definitely a good time to get a check-up with your doctor and discuss weight-loss.  Tell your Dr. about your plans to juice fast - see what they say.

It is absolutely essential that you obtain the book and read it entirely before you attempt the fast.  You must confront what does not make sense in the book or doesn't seem right for you and seek out more information - then you will be able to adapt the program as necessary.

Also, you need to be prepared when the time comes to fast.  You'll need a juicer, which is a specific and fairly expensive appliance.  Give yourself time to look at your choices and order or find one in a store or used.  Maybe you have friends with a juicer they can loan you - does your office have a "classifieds" website or bulletin board?

But don't buy anything until you read the book and know you want to do this!

Thanks for joining me on this journey, all the best, later, Jenni

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Countdown to Challenge March 1

"Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice." B.K.S. Iyengar

Hello, fellow transformational specialists!

We've been doing it our whole lives - every moment shaping out body by what we're doing with it.  Fortunately, a lot of those processes are automatic (like growing up when you're a kid), and we're going to take advantage of those automatic processes.  Our big brains will lead the parade: read, reflect, practice - that's the big brain's department.

March first I will begin a pre-pre-fast in anticipation of my adapted version of Pamela Serure's 1997 juice cleansing program "3 Days to Vitality,"  which I plan to start on March 28 with the pre-fast.  I did this twice in 2009, July and October, intending to schedule two more in a 12 month period, and am confident that it is not harmful when approached seriously and carefully.

I say carefully, because I have two sources that have spoken against this type of juice fast.  First, very importantly, my personal physician did not recommend it because I have chronic acid reflux.  "Pouring acid onto acid?" she said, shaking her head.

I have come to respect the variables of PH levels in my body, both through reading and my own reflux problem.  Since I have been on a course of medicine (Nexium) I have no longer experienced reflux, and did not during the juice fasts.  My decision to step across Dr.'s orders was based on my feeling at the time that I was ready for drastic action, and my perspective of "drastic" had been repositioned by my friend's gastric by-pass (see previous post "There's Drastic ...")

I do recommend regular physicals, and bringing up plans for weight-loss with your doctor.  If you're overweight, you're doctor will probably be on your side.

Another source that speaks against juice fasting is Dr. Christine Northrup, M.D.  in Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, (rev.) 1998, Bantam Books.  In her excellent chapter on menopause, the subchapter "Adrenal Function: What Every Woman should Know" is a good read.  Many of the symptoms she describes as indicating adrenal gland stress apply to me, and I value her advice.  However, when her helpful "Adrenal Restoration Program ..." states "Avoid fasting or cleansing programs, which can weaken you further," it does so in the context of nutritional support of recovery.

I believe that paying careful attention to my diet with a three weeks of "pre-pre-fast" stabilized my nutrition / mineral metabolic self prior to my three days of juice-fasting, and the program did more good than harm.

Here's the reason I did the fast, and it worked:  I wanted to stop being addicted to sweets, refined flour, and large quantities.

I believe losing those addictions has made Pamela Serure's juice fast (adapted by me for me) a determining factor in my present success on my two-year weight loss program.   I lost 40 pounds in 2009; I will lose 35 in 2010 to reach my goal weight of 145.

Later, Jenni

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mind, body, spirit and depression

A thousand things have saved my life today, some of them ideas, and I have God, the author of my spirit, to thank for all of them.  Here are some ideas that are saving me regularly from the violence of my emotions, and helping me to heal my body.

When you’re a mental case, you don’t have to rely on your mind to get you out of your disorder.  You can address your disordered emotions both in the moment and over time by means of spiritual and physical practice.

Depression and other emotional problems seem like convulsions of the  spirit and/or physical bodies manifesting through the mental body.  But if you try to pray, journal and meditate your way to mental health and stay inactive or fail to address physical problems, you are likely to waste away in confusion or anger.  If you try to run or diet or eat or medicate your way out without knowing your spiritual self, same thing.  If you use both spiritual abilities and physical abilities, the mind will join with flesh and spirit to create three-fold health, and each has it’s own fruits.  Joy is a fruit of the spirit, as are love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23   These are some very good things to set your mind on – and depression is a void that begs to be filled if you try.

Physical practices that can help make you healthy are many and I’ll keep bringing them up.  But right now I want to talk about spiritual practice.

First, start with everything you know.  Then learn more.  Here’s something I learned:

Patanjali’s Healing States of Mind:
1. friendliness
2. rejoicing in the success of others
3.  compassion toward suffering
4.  indifference toward the vice of others

That’s how I wrote it on an index card when I first found it.  Patanjali was a scholar and religious figure of India’s classical past, considered the father of yoga and ayurveda.  If you want to, look him up.  That could be a spiritually healing activity for you – it paid off for me. 

Have faith in your own happiness, what it is right now, it’s future.  You know you are God’s Best Beloved.

And those healing states of mind - they work.  I’ve tried them.  That last one wasn’t taught in my own religious tradition, and I find it a great relief.

Thank you to my readers who have contacted me privately as well as those of you leaving comments, all the best, Jenni

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kolo, a yummy whole-grain snack

Kolo is a natural food I discovered at an Ethiopian grocery store, sold fresh in plastic baggies.  I experimented until I came up with the same combination and taste.  It's so simple, you'll be surprised how fortifying and tasty it is.

1/3 cup dry spring wheat berries (around here you can buy them at Whole Foods)
2 T raw sunflower seeds
salt and pepper

Heat a skillet until very hot, turn down the heat to medium and toss the wheat in.  Let the berries toast a short while before you put the sunflower seeds in - the entire operation happens within a few minutes.  Heat until the wheat berries jump around in the skillet (be careful about flying hot wheat berries), stirring or tossing not to scorch.  Turn off the heat before you think it's completely done.  Be especially careful not to burn the sunflower seeds.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I have also seen this sold with peanuts in the mix.

The wheat is crunchy sweet toasty carb comfort food with the added fat and sweetness of the seeds.  I can just imagine a tall African walking across an exotic savannah with only a pocketful of Kolo.  It seems like it just fuels the body without slowing it down.  That reminds me of the story of Texas' famous hunter Ben Lilly who set out for long journeys with only a small bag of parched corn, gnawing on the kernels as he went along ...

I'm really not interested in gnawing parched corn.  It's good to find an elegant food like this in another cuisine.

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Food Renegade Sprouter Give-away

Food Renegade Sprouter Give-away
I'm a micro-farmer.  That's different than a virtual farmer, an industrial farmer, a family farmer or a gentleman farmer.  I grow small living foods for me and my folks to eat live.

For home-grown vegetables, we have sprouts.  At any given moment Tom and I are either growing or consuming fresh mung bean sprouts.  Our micro-farm takes regular attention in miniscule amounts.

I can't address the nutritional values of fresh sprouts right now, or the value of whole foods, or live foods, or local or traditional or home-grown food, but I can direct you to a source of information about all of that:  Food Renegade

Right now, this food blog (team of real human beings) has teamed up with one of it's advertisers, Cultures for Health, to give away a stackable sprouter.  In exchange, they want to see some love spread for their health, lifestyle, globally and politically tuned in internet food magazine and, naturally, My Brilliant Butt is right here.

I first started reading this blog about a year ago; as soon as I found it I subscribed.  I don't read every post because I don't have time to, but many of the topics have caught my eye and I've gone back to study up.

The best of the new food writers (Michael Pollan, others) challenge the reader, an eater, to examine knowledge, beliefs, and transparent stories (those things that guide us about food but we forget are just ideas.)  Food Renegade does this.  Crusade rhetoric betrays youthful passion; strength of ideas is worth being passionate about.  And considering the value of  alternative yet personally verifiable information about something that saves our lives every day, food, I can get passionate too.

Anyway, back to the sprouts.  I've been sprouting in a quart canning jar with a special plastic mesh lid for years; it has a tiny place in my tiny kitchen where it can drain into the sink and I can always see it so I won't forget to water it.

I settled on mung beans for their ease and consistency in sprouting and over-all yumminess.  As Tom and I try to take more and more responsibility for our food chain, our desire to diversify our sprout micro farm has grown, but so far we haven't done anything else because basically we're lazy.  Sure, I'd like to win the stackable sprouter and diversify a bit with no extra effort.

So if you're from Food Renegade and you've gotten this far in my blog post, thanks for reading.  I hope you felt the love.

Later, Jenni
Photo by Tom Peal, today, Dallas, TX

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mucus Buster Tea

On a sunny day last summer I took out my Indian spice box (that I built after taking a cooking class at Kalachandji's), opened the lid and discovered that the open cups of spices inside had tipped over and a mixture of pungent seeds and powders coated the bottom of the box. I poured them all into a jar and figured I'd just use them as a general pungent Indian mix. But the jar got put aside because, really, I like to mix spices more specifically, bit by bit.

When I ran out of non-caffeinated tea earlier this winter, I took the jar out of hiding, put a teaspoon of the mix in the bottom of a tea mug, and poured boiling hot water over it. Wow - this is powerful warming tea that also cuts mucus. In fact, be careful with it - it doesn't burn your tongue, but will make your body hot. I've had no trouble with acid reflux with this tea, and several of the spices listed are considered digestive aids; in ayurvedic terms, the spices lift your pitta, or fire, and that's what ultimately enables digestion. Turmeric is also an anti-inflamatory, so perhaps it mollifies the more pungent seeds in my system.

Here are the spices - you can find most of them in bulk at Whole Foods, or visit an Indian grocery store.
Seeds: Cumin, coriander, fenugreek, black mustard
Powders: turmeric, chili powder
Any one of these can be steeped or used in combination.

These are powerful spices, so treat them with the respect you would treat medicine. Manjuali Devi, the master chef and teacher at Kalachandji's told the class that men should be careful with the amounts of these pungent spices that they consume - they can raise body temperature higher than men's sperm can stand and therefore effect potency.

Later, Jenni

Of bodies and booze: gonzo reporting

It's 2:03 in the morning (only for a little while) and I've started this blog five times in the first word.  Then probably a dozen more times within the first ten words.  I'm drunk.
Note that it's the type of day upon which I would play a drunk.  Big show last night, two new players in band.  Great show, lots of friends, good singing at Sons of Hermann (in Dallas).   Did my job (woo-hoo I'm a musician), went to sleep, woke up, went to funeral of last member of my grandmother's generation, did Saturday, went to a Mardi Gras party at a high-price establishment, went looking for cheaper drinks during intermission, ended up staying at low-price establishment until 1:30am.  Now drunk.

Back to blog at 10:48am.  So, how does my body feel now?  Very adult, I can tell you that.  Practically moribund, except for the slight spinning sensation. And I feel very fluffy this morning.

Yes, gentle readers, alcohol is part of my life.  Maybe one day I'll take the pledge; it wouldn't be my most difficult vice to give up.  But in the meantime, it's one more way for me to get fat and sloppy.

I know that alcohol effects my blood for the worse.  Maybe you're thinking, well duh, everybody knows about blood alcohol content ... yeah, duh.  I'm the kind of person that has to find out everything first-hand (divination fans, take note: I'm first day Aries, Ox in the Road, zero Fool in the Tarot deck, too stubborn to take any fixed-attribute theories seriously, at least as they apply to me ...)

Once I dreamed about sludgy water running in gutters, slow-moving run-off from some industrial waste dump.  Those were such strong images that, when I awoke, I poked around in the on-line literature about dream symbols, and found my resonating meaning: this was my blood I was dreaming about.  I'd been drinking a lot in a rather short specific period, and my kidneys weren't happy about it.

I guess I need to share another clue of my weight-loss mystery with you now.  I am seeking to open conscious dialogue with my body and it's systems.

Yoga is a practice designed to bring your mind, body and spirit together - that's what the sanskrit word "yoga" means.  If you know me personally, or if you can already read it between the lines, you know that I'm a fairly scattered piece of humanity.  My mind is always grasping at new ideas, my spirit is fed by dreams and devotions, my body has been like a gun to shoot my dreams into the universe.  If the bullet is the mind-meaning of the gun, does it miss it's body once it's in motion?  Some cast-iron piece of equipment, that's how I've treated my body through most of my life.

But like a faithful dog, or an angel, the body doesn't give up on the mind.  And the spirit that mind can dimly grasp is celebrated by every breath of the body, every pulse, every new cell.  God's own image.  As Albert Camus said, "the body has it's own intelligence."  Not a radical idea now, but a revelation from a mid-twentieth century existentialist philosopher.  Those are the kinds of connections that I most easily grasp; the big-brain ones.  Ideas are food for the mind; we all sit at different tables.

Practicing yoga, even a little while, gives you the idea that you can talk to your body and get answers.  I mean specific body parts and specific answers.  Like, "how are feeling today, kidneys?" "Uh, not so hot,  Jenni.  When are you going to give up booze bingeing?" "Uh, working on it ..."

So that sounds pretty fantastical, I guess.  But it's a kind of meditation that is helping me come together: my mind, my body, my spirit, all of one will.  The will to be healthy.

I have some unlearning to do.  Some mis-education to contend with.  I'm glad to be a robust person in body and mind - I may have some years left to enjoy the fruits of my present labor.

That is, when I get sober later today.  I may get depressed - that would be my glandular complaint about last night's fun.  "How are you feeling today, adrenal glands?"  "Soooo sad, Jenni ..."

The truth will set you free, Jenni

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A time to every purpose ... and challenge!

3 Days to Vitality, 1997, Pamela Serure
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., New York, NY
Snow photo by Julia Schloss; all others Tom Peal

As the snow falls in Dallas today I'm thinking of the seasons of my weight loss.  It started in January, 2009, with Oz and Roizen's You! On a Diet (see post #1.)  I'd lost about ten pounds by spring but I struggled through the following months until July, when Dallas starts to get really hot.

In July I did something radical.  I went on a juice fast.  And boy, oh boy, was my body ready for that.  By August I felt a lot cooler in my body - less weight to carry around, more space inside.
Remember my friend who had the gastric by-pass and had to go on a liquid diet prior to the surgery to shrink his liver (post #2, "There's drastic ...)?  Not only did it impress me that a doctor prescribed a liquid diet (which I had thought of as dangerous and drastic), but the whole idea of a fat liver was novel.  Okay, Jenni - put the pieces together ... pate' foie gras is fattened goose liver ... that heart covered with fat that was demonstrated in a college biology class years ago ...

I'd gotten into the habit of thinking of my fat as on the outside of my body, an extra layer over my bones, organs and muscles.  Like a fat suit.  I think I saw some television advertisement, or maybe something in a magazine, when I was a child that showed a woman "unzipping" this fat layer around her and stepping out thin and light.

When it struck me that my feeling of heaviness was not just coming from the weight of my outer fat layer but the compression of fat in and around my organs, the idea of "flushing" all of a sudden made a lot of sense.  My heart was working harder to vibrate it's health inside a wrapping of fat - fat adheres to muscles.  Each of my organs was having to deal with fat in addition to its normal work of keeping me alive.

In June 2009 I got tired of being addicted to sweets and other empty carbs and large portions.  I wanted to eat all the time and I mean it.  Here's how addictions work:  you eat non-nutritious food, it doesn't feed your body, you want more.  Your psychology (which is also a system serving necessary functions to keep you alive) becomes alarmed and tries to remedy the emptiness any way it remembers - for me it's big meals, bingeing.   Fortunately for me, my upper-level cognitive skills can also be engaged - I can read, reason, and create solutions (something you and I share, gentle reader.)

Each of the above paragraphs is loaded, and I'll get back to each of those topics.  Here's the point of this post:

I did Pamela Shurer's juice fast in July and lost my food addictions.  I also lost weight and continued to lose weight for the rest of the year because I no longer had to fight the addictions every day.  In other words, the juice fast changed the power dynamic between me and food.  I became the controller of my diet.

I'm not going to say juice fasting is safe or easy - what's safe for me may not be safe for you, and I wouldn't call it easy.  But it turned out a lot easier than I thought.  Pamela Serure's juice fast is a seven day commitment: three days of pre-fast, three days of juice fast, and one day of break-fast.  I corroborated Shurer's theories and strategies with an online literature search.  My findings convinced me that, even if they didn't turn out to be helpful or even ultimately safe, her ideas certainly weren't unique.

But here's the funny thing.  I did the fast twice in 2009, July and October.  I did it the same way each time - starting at the beginning of the month with a pre-pre-fast and doing the prescribed seven days the last week of the month.

In July I lost weight on the fast.  In October I didn't.  My body just didn't want to lose the weight.  It was getting ready for winter.  Now, that's intelligence.  Could my organic system, like the trees and humble animals and insects, actually have a clue about what a cold winter we would have this year?

Hmm.  Please write if you have thoughts on this.

But let's cut to the chase on this.  Here's the challenge:  I'm scheduling a juice fast for the last week of March.  I'll start my pre-pre-fast on March 1 - cutting out alcohol, all white flour products, all sugar-sweets, fried food, and cheese, and consciously reducing the size of meals and amount eaten in a day.  On March 28 I'll start the pre-fast, on March 31 I'll start the juice fast, and on April 3 I'll finish up with break-fast.

Care to join me?

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What weight problem?

But I didn't feel unattractive - not really.  I've had a weight problem since I was a child, and like I said, I'd weighed around 200 for a long while.  That's heavy for a just about any woman, especially my 5'3" frame.  But I was used to it. 
 I wrote that in the first post, and it's true.  I was used to my 200 pound self.  But "used to," that is, the variables of comfort, can be complicated.

If you want to lose weight, why?  Losing weight has traditionally been associated with physical illness or mental anguish - wasting away.  There are some very good reasons to treat yourself for obesity - obesity hurts and kills.  In this way, obesity may be seen as an illness.

But obesity is also a lifestyle.  One advantage of being fat is that you don't worry too much about what you eat.  It's not like you're really trying to lose weight, that is, unless you really start trying.  And you can go on a long time with mild discomfort and acceptable limits.

Then there are some more subtle advantages to being fat.  For instance, as a woman entertainer, I get a lot of attention.  But certain kinds of attention scare me.  By being fat, I was able to exclude myself from the sexual attention of a large percentage of men who might otherwise be interested in me as a woman.  Lots of men just aren't attracted to heavy women.  I've already found my soul mate and life partner.  Guys can put a lot of static on your radar when you're a raging heterosexual.

But doesn't that sound sort of childish?

Why yes, Virginia, there is a responsible adult self, competent and able to discern and act with integrity, within you.

Later, Jenni

Monday, February 8, 2010

There's drastic and then there's drastic.

All kinds of doctors advertise on billboards around my town - heart specialists, dentists, children's medical specialists.  The kind of medical billboard I see most often these days is gastric; lap band or stomach by-pass advertising.  Those obesity treatments seem pretty popular.

I've heard some first-hand accounts, and one of the things I learned from a friend is that he had to go on a liquid diet for a period of time before his surgery.  This was to shrink his liver, so that the surgeon would have more room to operate.  He knew that after his surgery he would have to eat smaller amounts but wouldn't be as hungry, and that he would have to avoid certain foods, including all fatty or acid-causing foods, afterwards.  He looked forward to the health benefits this would bring.

So that really impressed me.  I thought, what if I just pretend to have stomach by-pass surgery?  I could eat like I was getting ready for it, then eat like I had it.

Gastric surgery is pretty radical, pretty invasive.  But through my years of refining a balanced whole-food diet I'd shied away from "drastic" approaches like temporary fasts, juice fasts or monodiets.  Because I didn't really trust myself, because my power dynamic with food placed me as the loser, I was afraid of such things.  What if it set off a horrible week, month, years long binge?  Or my hair fell out?  Or I freaked out and became anorexic?
Later, Jenni

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oz & Roizen's You! On a Diet. That's how it started.

Step One:  You!  On a Diet!  Dr. M.C. Oz and Dr. M.F. Roizen

In January 2009, about the second week, I was disgusted with myself.   I'd gained 10 pounds over the holidays and had reached the weight of 210.  This was not new to me, though I'd hovered around 200 for about fourteen years.  Something about that extra ten pounds really made me feel bad.  Physically, I mean.

My ankles hurt.  My knees and hips hurt.  I had daily acid reflux, which scared me.  I was tired and felt old.  I felt stuffed and uncomfortable.

But I didn't feel unattractive - not really.  I've had a weight problem since I was a child, and like I said, I'd weighed around 200 for a long while.  That's heavy for a just about any woman, especially my 5'3" frame.  But I was used to it.  And as a folk musician, I didn't have the same pressure to look fashionable other entertainers do; besides, I've always followed my own star.  I get a lot of attention from my husband, from audience, from friends ... no cosmetic complaints beyond simple vanity.  And my crooked teeth would keep me out of any fashion magazine.  Plus, I was active, sort of ... the huffing and puffing didn't appear unless I was really pushing, like climbing a long steep trail in the Texas Big Bend or some such place.  I considered myself robust and healthy.

Photo of Jenni and Sarah Hickman, January 17, 2009
Photo of Jenni and Anni, April 3, 2009.

But at forty- seven I didn't want to feel so old and tired.  My physical prospects, if I stayed heavy, began to depress me emotionally.  Pain depressed me.

My balance of will over comfort tipped because I just wasn't as comfortable any more.

Coincidentally some other things happened in my life.  After about ten years of playing swing jazz guitar as a side practice from my regular music, I formed a swing combo.  Suddenly style and fashion were more important onstage, and my imagination ran wild with the possibilities of diva-dom.  There were so many clothes I wanted to wear.  A private swing story was starting to pre-occupy me.

The Year of the Ox also embraced me poetically.  My husband turning sixty and me turning 48 in 2009 made us oxen - we'd joked about being yoked since we married.  I regard all divination as personal poetry, and try to get as much out of it as I can.  This was a special year - a year to do things and make changes.  To call upon the great forces of will in the universe to support me and carry me forward into a new season.

I believe that will is the most powerful force in God's universe, though people call it different things.  I think of it as the "want to."

When my doctor told me I had high cholesterol, I decided to take it seriously.  When she prescribed me medication for acid reflux, I filled it and considered it a blessing with which I might buy time.  When she told me I was post-menopausal, I rejoiced because I took it as a sign from my body that we were all, that is my organs and systems and my conscious mind, were all in agreement that it was time for a change.  I "all" had the want to.

So I found a copy of Dr's Oz and Roizen's book, You! On a Diet! at Half Price Books and Records.  I'd seen it when it first came out new, but I'm cheap.

I love this book because it's not a diet.  It's what it says it is: an "owners manual for waist management."  Taking my focus away from the scale and onto what real health looks like is only the start of how this book transformed my view of healthy weight loss.  The book contains very important information I'd never heard before in all my years of dieting and personal nutritional education.  It doesn't spare the geeky facts but it presents them in a very readable slightly goofy format.  Somehow it manages to not insult me with it's forward, unsentimental directives and corny humor.  It courts me with a visually easy page and well-organized, recognizably intelligent ideas.

I learned more about the layers of cause for over-eating, how food addictions are chained to emotionality in such a way that if you address the addiction, it's just as good as addressing the emotional trigger.  I mean, everybody eats emotionally - eating's as personal as your birthday cake.  The addictions are the problem.

The book contained some easy to incorporate strategies:  Eat the same meal everyday for one meal (breakfast for us:  oatmeal with yogurt, nuts, raisins, flax oil, flax seeds, fresh fruit, etc.)  Walk every day.  Stop eating three hours before bed.  Be as regular as possible with meals.  Cut down the overall quantity of what you eat.  Know what's not healthy, and what's healthy but fattening.  Do simple strength exercises regularly through the week (a nifty and very do-able home routine is offered in the book, and I followed it faithfully for at least three weeks last year.)  Trust yourself and the best of your food heritage.  Funny, but that last idea has been echoed in several books I've read.

That's how I lost the holiday weight, 10 pounds, in about three weeks.  But then, it was "fluffy" fat; last ones on first ones to go.  It wouldn't be until July that I lost real poundage, and I'll tell you how.  But there's a lot more.

Later, Jenni