13 February 2010

Monday Musings....a little history

I've been toying with the idea of adding some new weekly posts to the blog. The first one is "Monday Musings". A time for me to muse about anything bouncing around in my head. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this idea.

I've been asked several times "what do you eat the rest of the day?" and "do you use the smoothies as a meal replacement?" "Are they a weight loss tool?", etc. I knew, when I started this blog, that these questions would inevitably come up. They didn't surprise me. What did surprise me, however, was how much I was struggling to answer these questions.

See, I have a very long and very complex relationship with food. Throughout my life, food has been partnered with positive emotion. Throughout my life, food has been partnered with negative emotion. I started this new habit, simply as a creative way to get more fruits and vegetables into my body and the bodies of my family. I was completely unprepared for the emotional roller coaster that this adventure would bring.

Its no secret; I'm over weight. Obese, actually. But its odd, because I don't feel obese. If you looked at my medical chart and my weight was covered up, you'd think I was an average, healthy 30-something woman. I have normal to low blood pressure, my cholesterol levels are normal, triglycerides - normal, glucose levels, eyesight, heart rate - normal, normal, normal. But I'm not naive. I recognize that my body could turn on me at any moment and my health could come crashing down on me. And my family. My grandmother battled high blood pressure, and now my father is as well. He's also on cholesterol medication. Diabetes runs in my mother's family & both of my paternal grandparents had heart attacks and later died of congestive heart failure. I've been lucky up to this point. That fact is not lost on me.

I don't remember when I first started struggling with food. I was not a couch potato child. I played kick the can and kickball on our cul de sac every afternoon as soon as my homework was finished, I swam the summers away at our summer place with my friends. I lived in my bathing suit from May until Sept. Playing volleyball and wiffle ball in the grass. Manhunt in the evenings behind the campers until our parents made us go to bed. I never stopped moving. I played competitive volleyball from the age of 8 until my sophomore year in college. So, what happened? I'm not sure. The first time I remember eating in secret was when I was 14. About a month after my first weight watchers meeting. I remember baking cookies and eating the whole batch after my first "real" boyfriend broke up with me. I remember taking diet pills and skipping lunch in high school because my coach told me I was too slow and needed to move faster on the court. But I can't blame these experiences or these people. I'm an adult and I make my own choices and I've been making the wrong choices for years. There is no one to blame, but myself.

I've tried every diet in the book. I've counted carbs, I've counted points, I've counted calories, fat, fiber...you name it, I've counted it. I've eaten cabbage soup until I thought I might sprout one of those puffy cheeked dolls from the 80's and I've drank gallons of grapefruit juice in an effort to shed these extra pounds. And then I found a book. This book really opened my eyes and made me realize I could never "diet" again. I have an OCD personality. When I count things, I become obsessed. There are no words to describe how truly obsessed I become. I think about food all day. Everyday. I can't stop. I am continually counting and recounting and recalculating and replanning and recounting again. Such complete obsession, with anything, is not healthy. So, about 18 months ago I stopped caring about food. I no longer labeled things as "good" or "bad". I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn't care what anyone thought (at least I tried not to) and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I gained 24 lbs. Its funny. When I tried to listen to what my body needed and wanted, my brain wouldn't shut up. It kept screaming about what it wanted. My brain and my body hadn't spoken in years. But you know what, that's ok. I broke a vicious cycle. Slowly, my brain and my body became friends again. Food lost a lot of its appeal to me. It became simply food. A tool to sustain life. Nothing more. And the strangest thing happened. Once I was no longer focused on the food I was consuming, I was able to focus more on how that food made my body feel. I realized I didn't like feeling like crap. I didn't like being tired. I didn't like that stuffed, uncomfortable feeling. I didn't have to gorge myself on a "bad" food because I knew if I really truly wanted more tomorrow, I could have it. Throw away a birthday cake the day after the party? Let the brownies sit in the pan until they've gone so stale they're likely to break a tooth? That was UNHEARD of in my world. (I once remember making enchiladas during a freezer cooking session with friends. I had some extra mixture leftover, so I grabbed a tortilla and hid in the corner (and deluded myself that no one could see me) and wiped that bowl clean. I wasn't hungry. But I couldn't throw away something so yummy.) But things changed. I gave myself permission to listen to my body. And my body was PISSED!

Shortly after this revelation was when my friend introduced me to green smoothies. Because I had recently become so in tune with my body, I noticed an immediate difference in the way I felt. It was amazing. And I'll tell ya what. After feeling so great, my body got even MORE pissed when I when I missed a smoothie. Or several days of smoothies. I knew I had to make some changes. It was no longer about losing weight, it was about getting healthy. About nourishing my body, not starving it. About treating myself right and giving my body, and my soul, what it needs and what it desires.

.........To Be Continued.


  1. Great post, Jessica. You are very honest and open about your struggles. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this.

  2. I went through such a similar experience in high school and into university that I could have written this. With one exception. I never reached that point of letting myself have what I want because the fear has always been with me. I did, however, eat very little during the day and come home at night to my lonely apartment and eat all night. It was all healthy food, but it did pack on the pounds. It wasn't until I met my husband and was emotionally healthy that I started to lose a lot of weight and truly stop obsessing about food. Moderation was a foreign concept to me in the that middle phase of my life - the phase between starving myself and being healthy again - but I am now able to be satisfied on a little of a good food rather than eating the whole thing.

    Like you, I came upon green smoothies a few years ago and they transformed my life. There is an organic farm very close to my house and in the summer and fall, I can go out there and buy the most enormous, beautiful bundles of spinach, kale, chard, and other greens. I make stir fries and smoothies and honest to God, I don't crave much else. I am completely satisfied drinking smoothies all day and having a nice dinner with my family. And it's absolutely true that greens increase your milk supply! I've found some pretty sneaky ways to get them into my kids. On the advice of a friend, I bought a dehydrator a few years ago and have been making flax crackers, fruit leathers and date bars for them with all kinds of goodies hidden. Popsicles work well too. For them, I have to work a bit harder to make it palatable, but with some creativity, it's not that hard at all.

    I think your story is one that resonates with a lot of women. It's just that when you're so deeply in it, you think you're all alone.

    Good for you for turning your life around... good for us!

  3. I think the musings are a great idea, it's a way that we can connect, and I do think that your story resonates with a lot of peope. hearing more about it just makes it easier to feel identified with what you're going through.

  4. Jessica - this is exactly what I needed to hear - thank you for being so honest and open in your posts...i too have struggled with these same issues (and still very often do) i want my body to be healthy for a long time, my kids are young and I'm not what would be considered a young mother I suppose. I need to get my a$$ in shape and start with feeding it the right things. Thank you again for being so open and honest! You have definitely encouraged me!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this
    I grew up in a poor household where it was feast or few so I had some food issues.
    I appreciate all you are sharing and doing. It's an inspiration :)

  6. I've been overweight since college, and became obese a few years after that. At 26, I got high blood pressure. Then I quit smoking and drinking, and the weight steadily crept on, as I turned to food for comfort, escape, solace. I'm now the heaviest I've ever been in my life. It terrifies me... that this is the person I will always be. That I am the 'fat' wife, that I will be the 'fat' mom. I am deeply religious, and being obese sickens me; I feel that being so fat really interferes with my inner spiritual life. And it is an insult to the millions of people who are starving every day; it is an insult to the God who created my body.

    I read 'Green for Life' about a month ago. It was kind of a last-straw attempt to remake myself into someone new. I love the green smoothies. I make them with kale, parsley, collards, celery, spinach (my favorite, too), lettuce. I drink a quart a day, every day. And though I'm losing weight much too slowly, I do feel better, and I do not crave soda (and I was a total Pepsi fanatic) or junk food hardly at all. Which is a miracle by itself.

    I am really encouraged by your blog. Please keep it up! It really is the right way to eat!

  7. Hi there,

    I'm a new reader... I actually stumbled upon your blog from a comment you left on another (cows and cookies ring a bell?).

    I read "Green for Life" back in April, and have been consuming green smoothies for two months. My story is really very similar to yours. I'm "obese" but I don't feel it. I'm very active, even limber (so my yoga instructor told me, I think she was actually a little shocked, lol). I don't have issues... BUT... they loom in the shadows due to family history of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

    I just wanted to say, there's someone else out there who is on a similar journey... I'm happy to have found your blog!