Tag Archives: eating

Not My Croissants

Ok, I have to confess something here, and I’ll totally, totally understand if you come after me with pitchforks for it: I’ve been holding out on you guys. I have been selfish and un-sharing, and I’ll turn in my Commie ring if I need to. I get it. Mea culpa.

See, there’s this blogger whom I ran across a while back. And by “ran across” I mean “with whom I survived Introduction to Practical Self-Loathing and Applied Fat-Shaming 101, aka high school gym class”, and by “a while back” I mean “approximately 1994”. We’ve drifted through each other’s orbits every so often since then, and since I’d recently decided that what I needed to do was take up bellydance (this is also a thing that drifts through my orbit every so often, so don’t start marking your calendars for my grand dance debut anytime soon or anything like that) and I was given to understand that she had also done bellydance and perhaps would have some Helpful Resources for People Looking to Shimmy Their Jiggly Bits, I did a bit o’ googlin’. And found her bellydance videos (she’s got two of ’em! SCORE), but also found her vlogs.

Which I have been watching for like the last three days straight.

And not telling you about, until now.

/hangs head in shame, sends self to corner forever

But here’s the thing, y’all: I found this video of hers today, and … well, look, just watch it, ok?

/blinkblink

/notices hand is numb, looks at it, realizes it’s been raised to Jeebux for the last 5 minutes

/notices tongue is dry, realizes jaw has been hanging open for the last 3 minutes

For those of you who couldn’t watch it right now for whatever reason, here’s the jist: Krista was eating her breakfast and noticed her husband’s savings-club-sized box of croissants on the table. Without really paying much attention, she opened it and started eating from it…then realized that these were her husband’s  croissants. They weren’t her croissants–she didn’t pick them out–and she didn’t even particularly want one. But they were there, so she was absentmindedly eating them, because that’s what you do when there’s a Tasty Foodstuff(TM) right there in front of you. And it hit her that she was participating unconsciously in someone else’s habit–that she was letting her day’s diet include a choice someone else had made–and that maybe she didn’t need to do that. Maybe she could just, y’know, not eat her husband’s croissants.

/goes fully Shug Avery walkin’ to her Daddy’s church and singin’ “Maybe God Is Trying to Tell You Something”

Here’s the thing, y’all: how many times (lord, lord) have I eaten someone else’s croissants? How many times have I let someone else’s choices become part of my day without it ever occurring to me that I had full control over whether I wanted to be part of them? How many times (glory, hallelujah) have I let old versions of my own self determine what I would do today (you better preach, sister)?!

I get antsy sitting at stoplights, because I used to have a car that in its final days would just, y’know, up and die sometimes. Particularly at stoplights. And since my then-fiance had failed to pay the bills for several months, taken all the money I’d given him for said bills and spent it on god knows what, then run off with a 19-year-old voice major, I couldn’t afford to do anything about it. Eventually the car completely died for real, and we sent it off for scrap and I was on foot until I could (with my parents’ assistance) get another cheap beater lined up. Stoplights made me nervous because if the car died there, there wasn’t a dang thing I could do except push it to the side of the road and pray that it started again. But now my husband has a good job, and I have a good job, and we both got raises within the last 6 months and have roadside assistance and reliable vehicles. If the car dies at a stoplight, we can afford to get help. But somehow I’m still antsy about them because I useta couldn’t afford to fix the car 10 years ago? A decade later and I’m still eating the same old croissant?

My father was a smoker. There were always cigarettes in our house. When I became an adult, I started smoking, because smoking was a thing adults did. To be fair, there’s an element of addiction here…but at the core, 18 years later I am still smoking my father’s cigarettes (fewer now than before–I’m babystepping to being nicotine-free). 18 years of eating the same smoky croissant? Really??

Doctors scare the bejeezus out of me–not because of the sticky-poky-pinchy part, but because of the judgey-shamey-belittling part. I got the Your Problems Would Go Away If You Just Lost the Weight lecture when I was being seen for a broken finger. I got the “you are clearly exaggerating for the sake of drama” response when I was underreporting how spectacularly bad my menstrual cycles could be. I threw my back out once, saw a chiropractor, then got a lecture from a General Practitioner about how chiropractic is straight-up quackery and how if I wasn’t going to make my situation better (read: lose the weight immediately, preferably via bariatric surgery) the least I could do is stop making it worse. So I have tended to avoid doctors, because I don’t need to hear again how I’m a horrible person…but I’m not a horrible person. I’m a mighty fine person, and my body is just my body, and if the doctors I’ve seen historically have had epic fat-hatred issues, that’s pretty much their own damn croissant to eat.

So y’know, it occurs to me that maybe I can do something about this. Maybe I can just, y’know, not eat somebody else’s croissants anymore. Maybe I can sit at the stoplight or go see a doctor or leave the cigarettes at the gas station and say “actually, those are somebody else’s croissants, and it is not my place to eat them”. I can say “I don’t even really feel like eating a croissant right now, thanks”. I can say “I am full and do not need this croissant”.

I can just not eat other people’s croissants.

Holy cow. I can not eat other people’s croissants.

Krista Kubie, you’re a genius and I love you. And to those of you who are just finding out about her for the first time, I am so, so sorry. You can pelt me with croissants later if you need to. And I can choose not to eat a single one.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There

Buffalo Tantrum: The “H” Word

Ok, look.

We’ve talked before about how there are some words that will make me a very, very angry buffalo. And a quick Google search will bring you lots of links to discussions of other words–like “natural”–that are pretty much meaningless nowadays (thanks, advertisers!), so using them is less about understanding what they mean and more about getting people to buy into whatever you’re selling.

And today I have hit my breaking point, and need to add another word to the List of Words Which Have Become Meaningless Yet Simultaneously Infuriating: “healthy“. 

I have seen that word approximately eleventy-four billion times on Pinterest and Facebook today, and I. Am. Over. It. Not because I think it’s a wildly unacceptable word, like using “retarded” as slang (seriously, I will punch you in the neck for that), but because it’s become a fad word whose rampant overuse, misuse, and abuse has led to some truly bizarre–and in some cases deeply unsettling–things.

“Healthy”, as far as I can tell, used to mean “all my parts are functioning in a useful and mostly reliable way”. It meant that your body did what you needed it to do when you needed it to do it, and that you could generally assume that it would do so without catastrophic system failure at an inopportune time. If you needed to outrun the devil, you could probably do so without your heart exploding. You were pretty unlikely to be walking down the street and suddenly have your spleen rupture. Your temperature was neither too high nor too low, all your organs were where they were supposed to be and functioning like they were supposed to function, and you could climb to higher ground faster than the rising floodwaters or carry your groceries inside by yourself. You could walk to someplace reasonably close. You could sit comfortably.

But now it’s got this whole insane twisting thing going, where “healthy” apparently means “I want to talk about things that are actually pretty unhealthy, but I want to sound hip and with-it”. “Healthy” is the new “skinny”, and “healthy” is the new “natural”. And “healthy” has become utterly, utterly meaningless.

Let me give you some examples.

First, please consider the “Healthy” Peanut Butter Cookie craze, which has been making the rounds on Pinterest for a little while. Per the description–which tends to get passed along with the pin, so I see this with some regularity–these have “Only 36 calories per cookie! Ingredients: 1 Cup Peanut butter 1 Cup Sugar 1 TSP baking soda 1 egg Mix the peanut butter and sugar first then add in the egg and baking soda. Bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees.”

/blink blink

Read that description aloud real quick and see if anything jumps out to you. I’ll wait.

…Did you spot it? The part where there are equal parts peanut butter and sugar in these things? And you know most people who are unfazed by that fact are probably not grinding their own sugar-free peanut butter, so there’s even more sugar coming from their store-bought stuff.

Now, look. I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m really gonna need someone to explain to me how a cookie that is roughly 48% sugar gets to call itself “healthy”. Basically what you’re doing here is taking a glob of sugary peanut butter, wrapping it in even more sugar, and calling it a day.

‘Cause, y’know, that makes sense.

And then at the other end of the spectrum, we have this little gem, which…well, take a gander:

No. This is *not* healthy, and if you're here because you searched for "healthy" and found this and thought it sounded great, please go talk to your doctor IMMEDIATELY.

No. This is *not* healthy, and if you’re here because you searched for “healthy” and found this and thought it sounded great, please go talk to your doctor IMMEDIATELY.

This is one that is not even pretending that by “healthy” it means anything other than “skinny”. It also got picked up by Pinterest, and is making the rounds as the “Healthy Skinny Girl Diet“, with comments like “this is a diet called the healthy skinny girl diet. it is 21 days and it takes 21 days to create a habit so good diet choice”.

But here’s the thing. I actually found this image first doing a Google search for “diet to be healthy” (sometimes research for these ‘Tracts makes me search for things I wouldn’t ordinarily), and the image was in my results.

Do you want to know where it came from?

Brace yourself.

It came from here: Skinny Girls: A Pro Ana Community. The article is titled “Learn to Hate Food”.

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD

/runs around in little circles

/flails

You can’t see it from there, ’cause you’re reading this on a screen of some sort, but I am literally, physically shaking with rage here. There is nothing–nothing–you can say that will ever make me believe that anyone should ever, under any circumstances, ever ever ever in life take advice, especially diet advice, from a [zomg such a rude word] PRO-ANOREXIA WEBSITE.

Ok, that’s not entirely accurate–at the top of that site is a little disclaimer, and I can agree with the first half of it: “WARNING: Anorexia is a harmful disease that could lead to death. Please research the dangerous effects of anorexia and other diseases before reading this blog.”

So could we please, please please please, please as a personal favor to me, agree that perhaps this whole “healthy” thing has gotten a tiny bit out of hand? Can we agree that we need a definition reset? Can we agree that a word that represents an ideal that people are striving toward, once it has reached the point where it is simultaneously describing cookies that are 50% sugar and a seriously dangerous eating disorder (overeating and undereating? BOTH UNHEALTHY, GANG.), has perhaps become just the teensiest bit jumbled beyond all sanity or reason?

Maybe we go back to a different way of looking at things. Maybe we reconsider the “does my body perform the way I need/want it to?” measurement approach, and drop the compulsive calorie counting and BMI measuring and scales and charts and graphs and tables. Maybe we take a second to consider that opting out of the MUST BE HEALTHY madness is actually a pretty healthy step in and of itself, since a goal which represents such extremes and such all-consuming obsession is…y’know…maybe not so hot after all.

I for one am going to go take a walk, because I want my body to be able to get to places on foot in case my car breaks down in the middle of someplace where I have no cell phone reception.

And because I need to clear my head.

“Learn to hate food”, indeed.

/brainsplosion

Preach on, Sister Michelle.

Preach on, Sister Michelle.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

Better Than Ice Cream

Occasionally I indulge my penchant for hyperbole.

I know that may come as a shock to you, but trust me, it’s true. I might, every once in a while, stretch things just a touch; I might overstate things just a wee bit; I might, for the sake of humor or to drive a point home, get just the tiniest bit carried away with comparisons. Just a little bit. A tiny bit, really. A shred. A crumb. A molecule.

For instance, I might say things like “I would crawl a million miles over broken glass for a helping of Moddy’s cheesy potato casserole”. Clearly this is not true: I would not crawl a million miles for that, because if I asked Moddy very nicely to make a cheesy potato casserole, I could simply get in the car and drive 30 miles to her house and have one by dinnertime. She’s a good sport like that.

However, sometimes the things I say are actually totally true, and should be taken at face value. Case in point: a while back, I said that if I had to choose between chocolate and my nieces’n’nephews, I’d choose the kiddos without having to think about it. (I also said I’d punch an alligator in the face for them, which, while true, is not a point on which I’d particularly like to be tested.)

And I was thinking about that yesterday–the chocolate trade, not the alligator–while I was making our New Year’s Prosperity Feast. We had shrimp cocktail and hors d’oeuvres and fancy wine for breakfast (we’d had the champagne the night before), and stuffed mushrooms and black-eyed peas and steak for dinner and a nice circular cake for dessert, all because it’s supposed to be good luck to eat certain foods on New Year’s Day. Y’know, for prosperity and things. Someone had said that the peas, for instance, were supposed to bring coins into your life and collard greens were supposed to bring cash; it was a little late to go hunt down some collard greens, but I reckon the peas and the cake and the prosperous thoughts should suffice.

And that’s what made me think about the kiddos: if we eat certain foods on New Year’s Day for prosperity, maybe I can apply that approach throughout the year, and eat certain foods because they represent the life I want to live with the people I love the most.

I know I’m supposed to eat vegetables, and I do enjoy a good broccoli crown–mmm, broccoli–but I wonder if I might eat more of it if I declare that broccoli florets, which look like trees, should be eaten frequently so that I’ll be granted the gift of lots of woodsy adventures. And maybe I’ll eat broccoli crowns when I want to bring extra princess time into my life. Cauliflower looks kinda like brains, so I can eat cauliflower for extra smarts in my brain parts–the better to whup Moon Man at trivia games (that will never happen. He can’t remember a birthday to save his life, but he’s got ridiculous amounts of trivia rattling around in his head). I’ll eat red coronary-lookin’ beets when I want to expand the love in my world. I’ll eat more black-eyed peas for more money, and because they’re delicious with a little bacon. Mmm, bacon.

And it works in the opposite direction, too. I declared, in that blog post last year, that I would choose the kiddos over chocolate without even having to think about it, and that’s true–if a wizard came to me right now and ordered me to choose, I’d have my answer before he finished his sentence. I have the good fortune of not having to make that choice; but maybe I can live like I’ve been given a scale with all the chocolate on one side and all the time with loved ones on the other, and every time I eat some chocolate I have to move some time off the family side so the scale stays balanced. The chocolate isn’t off the table entirely; I just need to choose it consciously, knowing that every candy bar is a bit of time I’m taking away…but veggies, I dunno, add time or something. I haven’t thought this all the way out yet, and the metaphor is a little tortured anyway.

But you see what I’m getting at. Maybe this year can be the year when I make food decisions consciously, with an eye toward symbolism and meaning and intent, instead of just eating the things I’ve historically eaten, which, for the record, have not historically led to my being the healthiest human being alive. (What’s that they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Yeah….)

And if I get right to the punchline–and this is all Sarah McLachlan’s fault–the love of my family and friends really is better than ice cream. Plus it doesn’t melt.

So that’s the plan for this year: more little trees, fewer ice cream cones. Because I will take a romantic walk through the woods with my hubby over a drippy, melty cone any day.

Well, most days.

Isn't this just about the cutest cross-stitch piece you ever saw? I may have to order one.

Isn’t this just about the cutest cross-stitch piece you ever saw? I may have to order one.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

WWCH: Cook Them Tasty Food

I think we can safely say that the whole Chicken Restaurant Which Shall Remain Nameless issue has reached–and passed–the saturation point. We’ve all had our fun, gotten nice and riled up about things, and now…well, now mostly what I’m seeing is people saying “If you mention that restaurant one more time, I will punch you in the head”. And frankly, I’m inclined to agree. I think we’ve all reached our limit for the number of hyphens we’re willing to use, and ohdearlordinheaven am I ever tired of hearing the word “chicken”.

So this weekend for our Weekend World-Changer Homework, let’s try something altogether different: let’s try cooking at home. It’s healthier, for one thing, and it brings families together (at least according to all those bazillion studies the powers-that-be like to quote), and if you buy your ingredients from farmers markets, you don’t really have to worry about what the Corporate Head Office is doing with the cash you give them. I mean, ok, sure, maybe you want to ask your friendly local farmer about his or her politics, and that’s your business; but at least I know, by buying from these nice folks, that some six-tiers-removed muckety-muck isn’t going to use my dollar to support … y’know what, never mind. Politics schmolitics. Today we’re talkin’ about food.

So here’s what I propose: this weekend, hit your local farmers market and buy some ingredients. Any kind you like. Any kind at all. Then take them home, prep them as needed, and cook dinner. The family can help, unless you’re planning to use all that choppin’ as a way to make ’em scurry and hide (which is also totally fair game). Then bring everyone together at the table–go pick up a $10 folding table if you have to, or go to the park; they have tables there that you can use for free–and sit down and eat together. Talk about what’s going on in everyone’s world. Talk about what the heck this meal was supposed to be, since it appears to be a pile of vaguely reddish slop. Talk about how you get no respect or appreciation. Talk about whatever is on your mind, while enjoying a meal that you made all by yourself, with no concerns about accidentally having supported human rights violations in far-off lands with it.

And for those of you who are finding this idea a little intimidating, allow me to offer the following suggestions, which we’ll call Mama Buffalo’s Cooking 101–Tips and Tricks for the Mighty At-Home Chef (remember that title. There might be more posts like this in the future.):

1. Recipes are your friend. So is the internet. I confess: most of my best recipes come from the internet. I reckon there’s absolutely no call to try and reinvent the wheel; so if someone else has already looked at their pantry, discovered some kohlrabi, some apples, and some lemon juice, and has sorted out what to do with that, then by gosh, I’ll just go right ahead and help myself to their advice (hint: Kohlrabi-Apple Slaw). It’s certainly fair game to tweak as needed, and if you’re a creative chef, then by all means, invent something new; but if you’re like most of the rest of us, just remember that if someone else volunteers to do the heavy lifting, the appropriate response is “thank you”.

2. Nobody said you can only use one recipe. Here’s another confession: most of my best meals come from taking a whole heap of recipes and averaging them. Sure, you can pick a chef whose food you admire and stick to their cookbooks (we’re big Alton Brown fans here, so his biscuit recipe is pretty much the only one I’ll use)…but it’s also a great deal of fun to go hunting for something new and different and just hobble together your own Frankenrecipe from what you find out there. For instance, there are approximately one hundred kaspillion chili recipes out there, and everyone believes theirs is the best. So go look up some chili recipes, and start looking for the points where everybody agrees: you’re probably going to find “brown some meat”, and “add some onions/onion powder”, and “add cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper” in just about all of ’em–so start from there, and add any additional steps you find exciting. It’s like crowdsourcing, but with dinner. And that makes me very happy.

3. Try something nobody in your house has ever had before. This is seriously my favorite tip of all time. Here’s why: if nobody has ever had it, there’s really no way to tell if you did it right. I mean, there are the obvious tells–undercooked meat, things catching fire, etc–but if nobody knows what it’s supposed to taste like, then who can tell if you got it slightly wrong? For all they know, you’ve just thrown down like an Iron Chef, and suddenly you become a legend in your own home. Case in point: I make a heckuva Moroccan lamb stew, which is a Frankenrecipe that pretty much comes down to “put thinly sliced onions in a pot with some ground lamb, dates, apricots, raisins, cabbage, diced tomato, chicken stock, and a lot of ras el hanout, toss in a little salt and pepper, and come back later”. We’ve had this stew approximately 900 times since I “invented” it–we love it that much–and the good news is that neither of us has the first idea whether it tastes “correct”. It tastes good, which is all that matters. Well, that and it’s all nutritious. We like nutritious things around here. We also like cupcakes, which is neither here nor there but does lead us to the final point:

4. Dude, chill out. It’s just dinner. Nobody expects you to cook like a Top Chef, and the President would’ve let you know if he was planning to drop by for dinner, so there’s nobody here to impress. Your family already loves you and will forgive you if you screw up (though they’ll probably tell the story at embarrassing moments, so plan for that). In a worst-case scenario, you can always go buy a coupla premade pizza crusts and some toppings. Or make spaghetti. Or declare it breakfast-for-dinner night and show everyone how to make their own scrambled eggs. It’s ok. It’s really, really ok–right down to the cupcakes for dessert, which are nutritionally valueless but man-oh-man are they tasty.

So that’s our mission for this weekend, ‘Tracters: show people you love ’em by making ’em some delicious food. Who knows? It might be a huge hit with your family, and become a regular weekly thing. Or a daily thing. The possibilities are endless.

Oh, and if what you make ends up being particularly delicious, feel free to invite me over the next time you make it. *grin*

The nice people at Penzey’s Spices have it exactly right.

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Filed under Play Nicely

My Husband, the Caveman

So. Moon Man has decided to be a caveman.

There’s this diet making the rounds, which apparently became wildly popular when I wasn’t lookin’, generally referred to as the Paleo Diet, or Primal Eating, or similar; basically, it says that you should eat like a caveman. Anything you could reasonably hunt/gather for yourself is fair game (and assuming a basic level of nomadism is ok here, so you’re not stuck with nothing but squash during those long winter months); anything you’d have to settle down and farm is off-limits–so no grains, for instance, and whenever possible your meats/veggies should be organic/chemical-free/grass-fed/etc. If you like, you can think of it as Atkins with more grunting (I confess: that’s pretty much exactly how I think of it), and a lot of people we love and respect have been following it with great success.

So Moon Man decided to give it a try. And darned if he didn’t lose weight (five pounds!) in the first week, even with a coupla splurge days thrown into the mix (every diet has to have wiggle room. Tell me I can never have chocolate cake again, and watch me laugh at you until I wet myself. However, tell me that I just can’t have any until next Tuesday, and we’re pretty ok.).

First off, I have to brag on him a little bit. Moon Man just up and lost five pounds, gang. He just went and did that. He looked at the doughnuts at the store, said “ehh, no thanks”, and went and ate some leaves and grass and dinosaurs and things, and lost five pounds. In a week. Just, y’know, because. This is not shabby, and I for one am highly impressed.

But I also have to brag on myself here, because as it turns out, his new eating plan is also having some effects on me. I hadn’t originally intended to follow him down that rabbit hole; but y’know, really, it does feel kinda awkward to be the only one at the table chowing down on a pile of rolls while your hubby is virtuously munching on his asparagus. So I find myself, intentionally or otherwise, eating more-or-less the same way he does: lots of protein and veggies, and rather less carbs than I used to consume.

And lo and behold, I also lost a coupla pounds last week. Wouldja lookit that.

I think the most exciting change around here, though, is that all of this is making me flex my cooking muscles again. We’d gotten into a bit of a food rut: we’d found our favorites, and, as with most families, I just cooked those over and over. Beef and noodles. Tacos. Breaded chicken in various forms. Steak and asparagus, sure, but with a nice big baked potato on the side. We dabbled periodically in things like mashed cauliflower and spaghetti squash, but not in any really committed sort of way.

But now a lot of my old recipes aren’t really usable. “Beef and noodles”, minus the noodles, pretty much just becomes “pile of beef chunks on plate”…and since they came with a sort of gravy, which was, of course, flour-based, it actually becomes “pile of dry beef chunks on plate”. Mmm, yummy! “Breaded chicken” becomes “chicken slab”. “Tacos” become “seasoned ground meat heap”.

So while he’s learning how to distinguish hunger from boredom and doing free-time research on the science behind the Paleo diet (and very helpfully finding hilarious “Is Is Paleo?” flowcharts for me, to make grocery shopping less daunting), I’m hunting down new recipes and finding intriguing new proteins to test-drive. Last week, for instance, we had steelhead trout, which, as it turns out, is friggin’ delicious. We tried lamb arm chops, which we loved; and I made carnitas on Monday (pro tip: when halving the amount of meat the recipe calls for, the wise cook also halves the number of chipotles one tosses into the pot. The unwise cook forgets to do this, and ends up with profoundly clear sinuses. We’ll leave it to you to guess which camp I landed in.). Tonight, I think, will be salmon pinwheels, or maybe kebabs, one of the few tried-and-true recipes to survive the Paleorevolution.

And if I am learning nothing else from this, I am learning that cultural training really can, in fact, go jump directly into the nearest lake. It is completely and totally possible to take leaves and seeds and weeds and things and make a delicious meal out of ’em. There is no law that says that chicken must be breaded. Not even one of the Ten Commandments can be translated, even extremely loosely, as “thou shalt serve potatoes with thy beef”. Heck, there’s not even a rule that says that things like tacos must be served on tortillas (pro tip: lettuce leaves add a bit of crunch, and hold taco filling just as readily as a tortilla does).

So despite my original response to Moon Man’s announcement that he was going to be a caveman–which, I hate to admit, was something along the lines of “I support you in your desire to make healthier choices, but can you please take a moment to acknowledge that you are inconveniencing the bejeezus outta me right now? I mean, seriously, every single one of my recipes is going straight out the window here, and the only replacement you have suggested so far is ‘make things without flour’. I am going to need more guidance, and possibly a coupla shots of vodka”–I am pleased to announce that I’m warming up to the idea after all. It’s making me cook outside my comfort zone, making me learn some new recipes, making me try some new foods…and as it turns out, I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

And besides, it’s helping make Moon Man healthier. And I’ll take that result any day.

Not gonna lie–every time I hear “caveman”, this is the first one that comes to mind. Captain Caaaaaavemannnnnnn!!

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1 Corinthians 16:14

“Let all that you do be done in love.” — 1 Corinthians 16:14

First take a moment to sit with that, please. I don’t care what your religious/spiritual belief is or isn’t; it’s a good quote any way you look at it, and it forms a critical part of my approach to life, the universe, and everything.

It’s also my justification for being a big meaniehead sometimes.

Love, as it turns out, does not equal “I will let you do whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want, because your happiness is the only thing that matters to me”. It doesn’t mean being a doormat, and it doesn’t mean ignoring one’s own needs for the sake of someone else (there’s an argument to be made for the mother who skips dinner so the little ones can eat, but that’s “sacrifice”, and while the Venn diagrams for “sacrifice” and “love” overlap there, I think it’s awfully dangerous to decide that the two are synonymous). Love is not about unlimited permissiveness. Love is not about enabling.

Love is about support, though, and appropriate boundary-setting, and Being the Voice of Reason. It’s knowing how to distinguish what your loved one wants versus what your loved one needs, and acting accordingly. It’s knowing when to go with the flow, and knowing when to dig in your heels…and for the record, this is true both of love directed outward, toward others, and love directed inward, toward yourself.

And all of this is a very long-winded justification for why I’m not baking any bread today.

Moon Man loves fresh-baked bread. He loveloveloves it, with the passion of a thousand burning suns. (And to be honest, I’m about only about a half-step behind him, enthusiasm-wise.) There’s something profoundly intoxicating about the smell of bread in the oven, and something sensually thrilling about breaking open a fresh loaf and watching the steam swirl and eddy, and something frankly divine about buttering a slice and biting into it while it’s still warm. If I was on death row, I would ask that fresh-baked bread be included in my last meal, preferably baked right outside my cell door so I could smell it in the oven.

And since I love Moon Man, I want to provide the things that make him happy. The problem, though, is that neither of us can handle the responsibility of a fresh-baked loaf of bread: when I bake, the loaf tends to last about a day, and is often completely devoured within a couple of hours. We slice it, butter it thickly, and wolf it down like we’ve just been informed that bread-eating is about to become a capital offense.

Needless to say, this does not entirely support our goal to eat more sensibly, with an eye on portion control and nutrition.

So because I love Moon Man, and because I love myself, and because I love the both of us too much to continue enabling our insanity, I am not baking any bread today.

Frankly, it’s hard, and it makes me feel like a big doodyface. I am experiencing mad guilt about not doing that one little thing that would make him so very, very happy, even though I know full well that eating half a loaf of bread isn’t good for his nutrition, his weight-loss goals, his healthy eating goals, or his blood sugar. (Did I mention that Moon Man is diabetic? Yeah, giving him bread is just mean, from a blood-sugar standpoint. But he loves it so much!)

So today I’m just owning my inner doodyfaced meanieheadedness. (Yes, those are words.) I love our life together too much to be willing to sacrifice our long-term goals for our short-term happiness; it’s the same love, for example, that would keep me from even considering letting my oldest niece, Bean, borrow the car (she just turned six), or letting our youngest niece, Princess A, have a candy bar for breakfast (she’s almost one). Sometimes I love people “because”, and sometimes I love them “despite”; and sometimes I love people in a “go for it” kind of way, and sometimes I love them in a “not over my dead body” way.

And if my being a doodyfaced meaniehead is what it takes to keep them around for an extra 20 years so I can keep showing my love in healthier ways a bit longer, then so be it. I’ll be a doodyface, and I’ll be a meaniehead, and I’ll refuse to bake the bread or give Bean the car keys.

And I’ll do it all with love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

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Laissez les Bon Temps Lift Weights

I have a love-hate relationship with our bathroom scale.

Ok, let’s be honest, it’s more of a “how much do I hate you today?” relationship, with periodic moments of love sprinkled in just to keep things interesting. But I seriously think sometimes that the dratted thing is sentient and just likes to toy with me; this weekend, for instance, I went to weigh in, and it said I’d lost 3 pounds. Hooray! I hopped back on to confirm it (I don’t entirely trust the thing, so I tend to double-check), and the readout went up by 2 pounds, for a new net loss of 1 pound. Boooo. Left the room and grumbled to Moon Man about it; he went and weighed and showed a loss, so I went back in and the readout told me that apparently I’d lost a half-pound during the time it took me to grouch to MM. So according to the scale, my hard work last week netted me somewhere between a 1- and 3-pound loss, unless you count the time I weighed in midweek, when I’d evidently gained 2 pounds.

So, y’know, pooh on the scale. It is either inaccurate, capricious, or an outright liar, and regardless of which of those is the truth, at the very least it means that all its “information” should be taken with a grain of salt (but not right before weighing in, because then it gets all confused by water weight).

The other suggested method of tracking results is via measurements–just grab a tape measure and go to town. But here’s the problem with that plan: the last time we tried it, we realized that things like thighs are not particularly conducive to consistent measuring. They are long, and certainly not stick-straight, so where exactly do you measure? And perhaps more importantly, how do you remember where you measured last time, so you can check the same place next week? We tried the “measure up X inches from the knee for your starting point, and measure circumference there” approach, but that just made the entire process long and boring; we tried the “aim roughly for the same spot” method, but we could never seem to hit the same spot twice, so we ended up doing a lot of re-measuring because occasionally we’d get a number that indicated we’d gained, like, six inches during the previous week. That’s no good. I was >this< close to drawing dotted lines on myself with Sharpies when we finally gave up on that plan altogether.

So this time around I’m telling all the tracking plans to go jump in a lake, at least for now.

Here’s why: I can see my feet. Not consistently, oho, absolutely not. I’m one of those folks who carries the bulk of my weight around the middle, in what would probably be called a “beer belly” on a man (I think the term for women is “apple-shaped”, which to me mostly sounds like I should be tempting all sorts of people out of Paradise), so I haven’t been able to look down and see my shoes in ages. But this weekend I was doing a naked vanity check in the mirror, and realized that not only am I starting to see some progress toward a more hourglass-related shape (a wide and very lumpy hourglass, to be sure, but an hourglass nonetheless), but I am suddenly able to suck in my gut, look down, and see my feet. Right there at the bottom of my legs, where I left ’em. As it turns out, the mirror counts as a measuring device too, as does the fit of, say, one’s pants; so I’m scrapping the others, because I can just look down and see the difference with my own two eyes, and that totally works for me.

And this is very exciting news, ‘Tracters. It means I’m making progress, regardless of what the scale may say about things. It means my efforts are paying off. It means I’m starting to see real results, and while I can’t speak for anyone else, I can say for myself that seeing results is the quickest way to motivate me to keep putting in effort. I have a hard time with the vague idle threats of the medical community, but I can absolutely get behind real, practical outcomes: come to me with something like “Excess weight makes you [random number]% more likely to die of [dire-sounding disease], but losing X pounds cuts that risk in half!” and I’ll stop listening before you finish your sentence, but tell me that “The weight you have lost enables you to see your shoes without a mirror, making you significantly less likely to leave the house looking like a crazy woman”, and we can do business.

So how does this fit into the title of today’s post?

Today, as you probably already know, is Mardi Gras, a day known for celebrations of excess and gluttony. Plus it’s just another Tuesday, which has been Splurge Day around here for ages (we ran into trouble when Splurge Day became an everyday occurrence, instead of once a week). So in theory, I should be spending the day eating everything I can think of, indulging every whim or craving, and generally pigging out.

But here’s the thing: I can see my feet. For the first time in a long time, I can verify, without use of mirrors or contortionism, that my feet do, in fact, exist.

So I doan wanna pig out. I doan wanna eat everything that comes within arm’s reach, and I doan wanna go to the store later specifically to buy as much junk food as I can fit into one cart. I’m sure I’ll have a little splurge later–I mean, c’mon, I’m not a saint here–but I doan wanna see if I can consume the caloric equivalent of the GNP of Spain in a single day.

Instead, I’m going to spend my Mardi Gras laissez-ing my new habits rouler. I made good choices for breakfast, and will make good choices for lunch, and will aim toward good choices for dinner. I will do my exercises, and get my Fitocracy points. Seeing my feet is bon temp enough for me, and I’d like to let that particular bon temp keep on rollin’ as long as it can.

So I think my Mardi Gras this year is going to involve splurging on some extra reps during my workout, and maybe standing in front of the mirror and playing the “suck it in, pooch it out” game a few more times.

…And then it will probably involve some ice cream. Let’s not lie to ourselves.

Let the Good Times Roll

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