Saturday, June 30, 2012

I'm a "loser"

Yesterday morning I withdrew $160 from the ATM and now I can't find it. I've gone through all my bags. That cash never made it home. I remember fumbling with it when I stopped at an Argo Tea right after the bank. I think someone had a very good day yesterday and I'm a complete schmuck.

I'm so upset with myself. I just want to go back to bed and not wake up until I'm someone else.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I don't want to wear a bra anymore

I've just about had it with wearing a bra. Years ago I posted that I was going to stop wearing them, but that only lasted a few months (back then my restaurant uniform included a full apron that allowed me to go bra-less without anyone noticing at all). In the past few months, I've started reaching my limit again. Wearing this tight, binding thing that I tug at all day really doesn't feel worth it anymore. I'm a pudgy, middle-aged, married woman; who cares if my chest is conventionally contained or if I've got some nippleage going on?

What would happen if American women stopped wearing bras? Would productivity plummet? Would people be fired? Would airplanes fall out of the sky? Would relationships end? Think about it: if we all stopped with the #$%damn bras, we'd eventually become habituated to it and it would be no big deal. Women have freed ourselves of corsets, hoop skirts, petticoats, pantyhose and girdles. Why not abandon the bra? Seriously, what's taking us so long?

But I admit I'm still working on my own attitude and am not quite ready to go without (American squeamishness about breasts is powerful). To prepare myself for the freeing move, I've been spending time on But until I've absorbed this website's philosophy and become liberated, I am taking the step of getting rid of my conventional, underwire, hook-closure bras. Out of here!

Oh, yeah, I'm switching to these. They feel so much better than those masochistic binding devices. No wires, no hooks, no pain and no nippleage. Right now the  Genie Bra is part of my professional attire, but any time I'm not at work, it's comfy loose sports bras or nothing at all. So there.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Killer bagels: the pros and cons of eating wheat

Wheat products make up a huge portion of the food we Americans eat every day. We all know sugar is bad for us, but few really think about wheat. I’m focusing on wheat today, but a lot of this applies to all grains that contain gluten.

When I talk about eating wheat I’m talking about eating:
1.    Bread (all types), crackers, pasta, tortillas, pita bread, bagels, etc.
2.    All baked goods made with wheat flour, including whole wheat flour
3.    Fried foods that are breaded with wheat flour
4.    All processed foods that contain wheat flour, wheat gluten, wheat bran, wheat protein, etc.
                                              i. such as:
a.    soups
b.    cereals
c.    frozen entrees
d.    chips
e.    seasonings
f.     foods in a can, box or package

Wheat problems don’t always start from birth. I started noticing pain after meals when I was 41. It got so bad that I was eventually battling stomach pain every night, struggling to get enough sleep. After consulting with a couple of doctors, I went on a healing diet that cut out all dairy, sugar and grains except for rice. It took only a couple of weeks for me to notice how much better I felt. The stomach aches were gone! When I experimented with bringing dairy, sugar and grains back into my diet, I figured out that wheat was the main problem. The worst stomach aches happened after eating a sandwich or a piece of cake or a bowl of pasta. Cutting wheat from my daily diet was hard, but completely worth it. Wheat products are no longer on my grocery list, although I still have them occasionally.

I started researching just what it is about wheat that causes so many problems. What I found is that wheat has been greatly hybridized. Staring in the 1940s with the noble goal of ending world hunger, we began experimenting with wheat plants to get them to yield bigger crops and withstand greater physical hardships like drought. We succeeded. Today our wheat is very different from the wheat of our grandmothers. Our wheat can tolerate being doused with a variety of pesticides, yet easily produces the spongy soft dough we turn into pizza crusts and cinnamon rolls. The quality, type and content of gluten proteins in our wheat have changed hugely, all without ever being tested for safety of consumption. This is why whole wheat bread is to white refined bread as low tar cigarettes are to regular cigarettes: one might be less harmful than the other, but neither is good for us.

Pros of Eating Wheat
Nutrients eg. iron, B vitamins (often added back in after all nutrients have been stripped from the flour)
You can get it anywhere

Cons of Eating Wheat
Blood glucose spikes
Two slices of whole wheat bread cause a more dramatic blood sugar spike than two tablespoons of table sugar. This is because as wheat has been bred for certain characteristics, its gluten content has changed so that now the process of digestion turns its protein into sugar extremely quickly. This causes greater blood sugar spikes than most other foods, including potatoes, fresh fruit and honey. The consequent increase of insulin in the bloodstream, to counteract the flood of sugar, causes an energy dip. Over years, raising and lowering blood sugar abruptly like this can cause blood glucose regulation problems. Blood glucose regulation problems can lead to diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Increased hunger
Because the abrupt blood sugar rise and drop leaves your body needing another boost of energy, hunger drives you to eat again. Wheat increases hunger. This pattern often leads to eating more often and in increasing quantities, kind of like an addiction.

Proteins in today’s wheat turn into exorphins in the body, which bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Yes, that means it affects our mood similarly to opioid drugs. “Comfort foods” like macaroni and cheese, fresh bread and chocolate chip cookies actually alter our mood temporarily. When we come back down off the high, we want more, often in increasing frequency and quantities.

Celiac disease
This is a condition triggered by gluten. It damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients. It’s painful and eventually leaves you malnourished. If you have it, you can’t eat wheat at ALL without problems and anyone can develop it at any time in their life.

Gluten intolerance
99% of people who have problems with gluten or wheat are not currently diagnosed. I used to think my wheat problems were actually lactose intolerance and never understood why lactose digestive aids sometimes didn’t help. Gluten triggers inflammation which causes a wide variety of symptoms.

Do you have any ongoing problems such as rashes, anemia, mood swings, gout, arthritis, chronic fatigue, migraines or other symptoms that you just haven’t been able to treat? Chronic inflammation aggravated by frequent consumption of wheat could be part of the problem. You might have gluten intolerance and it would be a good idea to find out.

Experiment. Cut out gluten for a week or so. Do you notice that your hunger decreases? Do you have fewer aches? I hear you thinking, “But what am I supposed to eat?” Here are some ideas:

What you might eat for breakfast, instead of wheat
Brown rice

What you might eat for lunch/dinner, instead of wheat
Meat (preferably on the bone)
Beans/hummus/healthy spreads
Brown rice

Snack foods, instead of wheat
Trail mix
Beef jerky

And for your sweet tooth
Yogurt or ice cream (check labels for wheat ingredients)
Sweetened tea
Dessert wine
Be creative! This is by no means a comprehensive list.

It’s downright un-American to even suggest that wheat might not be good for us. Wheat is part of the core of our diet and economy. What would happen if we just stopped buying it? It’s inconceivable, which is probably why our government’s health advice has always emphasized eating “healthy grains.” The old food pyramid even suggested six to ten servings of bread or pasta a day. No wonder our problems with diabetes have correlated with the period of time during which the U.S. government has been guiding our diet.

Wheat has been a huge problem for me and the little research I’ve done has turned up a lot of information about its questionable nutritional value. Sure it has fiber and a few vitamins, but is it worth the cost to your health? For me the answer is no.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, Gary Taubes 2007
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, Catherine Shanahan 2008
Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, William Davis 2011
“The Gluten-Thyroid Connection,” Chris Kresser,
“Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat,” Mark Hyman,
“The Dark Side of Wheat: New Perspectives on Celiac Disease & Wheat Intolerance,” Sayer Ji,
Website: (search “gluten”)
Podcasts: by Zoe Harcombe (also available for free on iTunes)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Addiction to sugar is addiction to an old identity

Geneen Roth's Women Food and God isn't about GOD God, but about love and freedom from fear. She says the reason we yo-yo diet is that we don't look at our true reasons for eating in unhealthy ways. Looking at our true reasons is very scary and might lead us to face painful memories, let go of an old identity, end a relationship, start saying "no" to people, etc. She says on a subconscious level, we choose to focus on food and weight because that's less threatening than the pain we're trying to avoid.

After reading about half of the book, I put it down and did some writing. I asked myself why it's valuable to stay addicted to sugar and to stay physically sick from eating it. All this time I thought I was just using sugar as a substitute for love and comfort, and I was. But now I've also realized that the last time I was effortlessly thin, I was also over my head in responsibilities and was swimming through someone else's emotions. I was carrying too many problems that weren't even my own. I had no boundaries to protect me.

I think that's what I'm afraid of: being strong and leaned upon too much by someone else. If I'm sick and weak, I have a good excuse for not taking on too much and for asking people to leave me alone. Before experiences in my early life emotionally drained me, I appeared strong and maybe I was, but that attracted way too much responsibility. At that point, I didn't know how to set boundaries or say no, so things got dangerous for me. I suspect I've been afraid of strength and responsibility ever since. This fear keeps me returning to the baked goods in an attempt to hold on to my old identity as a weak, powerless person. People say "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." My atheism notwithstanding, this makes me think that if I'm very strong and capable, life is going to crap all over me, right? The more capable I am, the more workload I get? Forget that. Pass me the heavily frosted cake.

But I'm tired of the yo-yo thing: stomach aches and embarrassing digestive noises, energy spikes and exhaustion, losing and gaining the same pounds over and over and over again. I'm ready to get off the sugar merry-go-round. I'm no longer the young girl who didn't know how to set boundaries, who looked strong and never complained and who started and ended every day with sweets. 

Roth says we overeat because we forget who we really are. I'm now a resilient, vibrant 45-year-old woman who is now very good at declining responsibility that doesn't feel appropriate or healthy. I'm safe now. It's time to let go of the frosted cakes and health challenges because I don't need to hide behind chronic problems to enforce my boundaries. I don't need sugar to replace what used to be missing, but is missing no longer.

I look forward to seeing how far this Geneen Roth work gets me. If it's just a little farther down the road towards freedom from food addiction, that's good enough. Maybe I'll even look at her online retreat. It's hard to slow myself down when I'm on the brink of a binge, but I'll try to remind myself that I'm no longer the frightened, sugar-obsessed girl who didn't know how to fight for herself.  That's a decades old identity that doesn't apply any more. I'm a confident, competent grown-up now, so it's safe to eat well and be healthy.

WARNING: Following Geneen Roth, I put on 50 pounds that I never lost. Don't do it. - updated 28 Feb 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yoga with dog

Photo by Bob Martin, Chicago, IL USA
 Sometimes Ozzie gets a little too close.

Friday, June 08, 2012

I need friends who can survive the good times

After decades of working through depression, personal issues and unhealthy relationships -- with people and with food -- I feel like I've come out on the other end. (See my previous post for one version of a summary of those years.) Now most days I'm in a remarkably good mood and I'm very grateful for it. After spending most of my life baffled by people who answer "How are you?" with "Never been better!" I finally feel like one of them. I finally understand that life is good and I am good. Many days I suspect I never have been better, in terms of mood, spirit and physical health.

Yet in my happiness, I find myself pissing people off. My enthusiasm for life has turned many of my opinions into almost rabid passionate stances. My energy for connection and interaction with others drives me to root out other's opinions, engage in rigorous debate, and sometimes take the exercise too far (on topics such as how generations differ in their approach to technology, whether pitbulls are good dogs, why eating meat is important or why someone would say to me, "I don't think of you as in an interracial marriage." Et cetera.) My cheerful vigor seems to have made me more insensitive to how others are feeling and when it's time to drop the subject.

The good news is that after a while I usually realize I've made someone uncomfortable and I go back and apologize. Sometimes the other person accepts the apology graciously. Sometimes she doesn't know why I'm apologizing because our debate didn't bother her at all. And sometimes I lose a friendship.

My therapist says this doesn't mean I'm an asshole (my term, not hers), it means that not everyone can handle my personality. When I'm happy and the meds are working and my life feels good, I apparently become friendlier, but I play rough. I'm like our pitbull who leaps into the dog park ready to make friends, but whose rough-housing can be too much for other dogs. Those dogs back off and find somewhere else to play while the dogs that can match Ozzie's dominant energy happily meet him growl for growl.

Likewise my pointed statements and critical conversation might not appear as friendliness, but as antagonism, especially in the Midwest, where people tend to be more polite than on the coasts (my completely subjective opinion). As a Coast-er in the Midwest, this gives my life a slightly bull-in-a-china-shop dynamic. I made Chicago my home partly because I love how nice the people are here and, believe it or not, I've become a nicer person since moving here 19 years ago. Yeah, I know: can you imagine what I must have been like when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York state?

But the good part of my sometimes gruff personality is that I'm very good at taking criticism and tend to ask (beg) my friends to tell me when I've pissed them off so I have a chance to apologize and correct my behavior. It's not a popular characteristic of American friendship, but I need friends who aren't afraid to tell me in clear (blunt) terms what they need and what I'm doing wrong. I relish someone pointing out to me how I can improve my relationship with them. I crave communication, good or bad, two-way or one-sided. Lay it on me.

Fortunately my personality doesn't grate on everyone or I'd be a very lonely person. Some people don't mind my blunt, domineering assertions, nor do they mind stopping me when I've gone too far. My friends are flexible enough to bob and weave through a debate with me, tell me when I'm being a jerk (and accept my apology), or they just tune me out. I am very grateful to everyone who suffers me as a friend (thank you!). As much of a bitch as I might seem sometimes, this really is my best effort at friendship. You just need a thick skin to be a friend of mine, especially when times are good for me.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Maine Vacation USA (Bob's photos)

I'm lucky to be married to a photographer. I rarely think of taking pictures, plus I love having my picture taken. Bob is good.
We started in Portland, Maine USA Photo by Bob Martin.

Did some shopping in Portland, Maine and bought this tank top
Photo by Bob Martin.
"And then the lobster traps go in the water?" On the docks of Portland, Maine.
Photo by Bob Martin.
Bob snuck off at daybreak and took photos of Head Light, Portland, ME.  Photo by Bob Martin.
Head Light, Portland, ME. Photo by Bob Martin.
Williams Point, Port Clyde, Maine. This is where Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run in the movie.
Photo by Bob Martin.
Waiting for the ferry to take us from Port Clyde to Monhegan Island. Photo by Bob Martin.
Port Clyde, ME. Photo by Bob Martin.
Ferry to Monhegan Island. Photo by Bob Martin.
Seals (look to me like blobs with faces). Photo by Bob Martin.
First view of Monhegan Island, Maine USA. Photo by Bob Martin.

Maine Vacation USA (my photos)

This is why I haven't posted in a week and a half. For the first time, I visited Maine. Bob vacationed in Maine years ago and has been wanting to take me. It was a beautiful trip. I took most of these photos, but I'm no photographer.

Monhegan Island, Maine USA at sunset

View from our room in the Island Inn. Incredible

Monhegan Harbor

Hiking on Monhegan Island was dangerous, but worth it.

Bob is the real photographer

Ah, the scent of lilacs, ocean spray and Bob's Marlboro.

Standing on lawn of The Island Inn. I loved the Island Inn. Photo by Bob Martin

Monhegan Harbor

I was sad to leave Monhegan Island! The ferry took us back to the mainland.

Hannaford Supermarket, Boothbay Harbor, Maine USA. I was amused by the names of the sodas (Dr. Perky, Mountain Lion)

Bob and I did not have a single bad meal. From fine dining to little shacks and diners, Maine serves up some of the best seafood, coleslaw and sandwiches I've had.

Portland, Maine was nice, but we made the mistake of staying at the Eastland Park Hotel, one of Portland's oldest hotels. We arrived on an 80 degree F day, but they did not tell us their air conditioning wasn't working. They should have told us when we checked in, but failed to. By the time we figured it out, it was too late to switch hotels, so we spent two uncomfortable nights there. They took $50 off our final bill and bought us breakfast, but I'd have preferred to have been told ahead of time about the air conditioning. I hate being hot, but at least it was the only bad thing about our mostly wonderful vacation.

On Monhegan Island, Bob enjoyed hiking the island while I curled up with some great books in The Island Inn's reading rooms. I loved the gray rainy weather we caught there. It's a truly beautiful place. In Boothbay Harbor, we mostly just relaxed. Many boat tours and fishing trips weren't operating yet, so there wasn't as much to do as we had anticipated, but that was fine because we were ready to just take it easy. We took lots of naps, did more careful budgeted eating and, of course, I read. Throughout the trip, while I went through novels, Bob went on his own photography excursions and uploaded photos to his Facebook page.

If we were to do it again (and I hope to), we'd go between mid-June and the end of August. On Monhegan, the lighthouse museum and several places to eat were closed because we were there before the real season had started. In the future, we wouldn't spend any time in Portland, Maine, but get straight to Monhegan Island and spend at least three days there. Then I think we'd spend about three days in Boothbay Harbor, ME.

We loved this time together. I can't believe it's all over now (sadness).