Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Sugar Experiment

So, I "gave up" sugar for "Lent". Meaning, I'd read a lot of interviews about the sugar epidemic with Robert Lustig, MD, and I wanted to see if it was even possible to avoid added sugar.

Of course it's possible. Am I the one to do it? Am I up to the challenges and pitfalls and mis-steps? Of course, I can mis-step with the best of them.

Since it was Fat Tuesday at the time, I created a Lent experiment. Avoid sugar until Easter. This includes finding foods without sugar or at least with sugar third or lower on the list of ingredients. So, read ingredients.

The first discovery was that my delicious morning granola was no longer acceptable. I fed most of it to Richard. (More proof of what a great wife I am, by the way. Give the sugary cereal to your diabetic husband. Brilliant.)

I just THIS EVENING realized (by reading the bag) that the plain, salty mini-pretzels I was scarfing yesterday do not meet the requirement. Lame, Snyder's. Just plain lame.

In order to prevent myself from going bonkers, I did build some cheating in my experiment. I can have a nice sweet, cookie or drink on any holiday that is printed on a calendar, Richard's upcoming birthday, and the first day of my period. It worked out to about once a week (President's Day, Valentine's Day, my really short menstrual cycle, ad nauseum) it was allowed. It does cause one to choose a little more carefully when there's only one opportunity for a treat every 7 days, although I already can't remember what I did on Sunday that burned up a cheat day....

But overall, it's kind of depressing even though I'm doing pretty well. I can't seem to kick the Greek yogurt. So handy. I bought plain ones with the intention of adding fresh fruit or jam, but it's not really fresh fruit season, and I need a second container for jam, which therefore removes the convenience. So, yeah, I'm cheating there, too. Chobani is at least real sugar, not some crazy corn syrup.

The candy at work can be kind of a struggle. The ironic part is that I'm the one that brings the candy to the co-workers. It started as a painfully obvious behavioral rat-training style reward to encourage them to perform tricks for me (you know, wash their hands, clean the medical equipment, complete the online training modules). Now they just sort of demand it when they're having a "bad day" or whatever, and I would join right in and have some with them. I at least moved the candy container out of the drawer right next to my chair to the wall cupboard across the room. Much more deliberation must take place before I reveal an inane Dove fortune in a moment of stress. And some of them know about my project, so there's social pressure not to indulge. It's working, though!

In other ways, it's not really that much of a struggle. We get lazy. We get fat. If you pay a little attention, all the information is right there. But I think it's depressing because it's so prevalent, and I don't think many people understand how much sugar is in EVERYTHING. (See the mini-pretzels on top of the fridge.)

Of course, as an American female, the real badge of success will be how much weight I can lose in 6 weeks. I'm not really sure there's going to be a miracle here. I'll be happy to gain some knowledge and awareness.

So, what's your sweet secret? And who wants cookies on Sunday?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prisoner of Mommywars

While hosting some friends in my home two weeks ago, I was informed by two ladies in attendance that's it's easy for me to do all this "stuff" because I don't have small children. I can't really disagree, although I haven't really ever considered it easy. And I'm not sure which stuff was the giveaway sign of my leisure - painted fingernails, vacuumed floor, opening the box from the bakery that contained a cake?

But as it happens, I did pay a price for children. I didn't have any. And it's because I noticed way back in college that American society was structured such that you could either do things, or have kids. I decided to attempt to do things. And I'm still failing at that.

I don't really remember what things I wanted to do. Something about writing? Travel? Living in Chicago? (I am quite certain it had nothing to do with my nails.)

Oh sure, I did my 25% in raising my stepdaughter. There were times when we missed social events (1994-1998?) and went on different trips than we would have without a daughter, but no, it's not like taking full responsibility for the conception, delivery, development, of a human being. It's realizing that you're the facilitator of communication between two parties that could clearly communicate without you.

But I gave up the idea of a child for a "career", and we all know where that ended up. I am a little bitter about corporate bait-and-switch, the do-what-we-say-and-you'll-succeed lies. (As usual with the shenanigans of the universe, it lead to the job I have now, which is perfect, so I guess I can't even complain about that.)

It's not like I have (or ever had) a burning desire for a child, so I guess I shouldn't pout. It's ended up exactly like it had to, and it's fine. I could do more. And it's not to show up the moms of the world. It's to fulfill my own destiny. Which I am pretty sure is NOT to watch six hours of Real Housewives a week, so there's something to work on.

There's really two solutions to this problem. One, we all need to step up and really support mothers. I have no idea how to do that. Go, moms! Do the stuff I'm not doing.

And I've got to do the stuff I'm not doing, too. I think that it's really the same stuff. So, let's not draw a division line. Let's just do stuff. Stuff we want to do. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I'm FLYing again!

You know, I've never claimed to have invented any of these systems. I just adapt what I find. And one my earliest gurus was the dorky, square, hopelessly lame Flylady.

Who is the Flylady? Well, in the world of Hints from Heloise and Good Housekeeping, she's an icon. In fact, she's a little purple icon with a black curvy Betty Rubble bob and a fishing pole who loves acronyms. She's got a whole online world, that sends instructions about how to keep your own world tidy and organized.

If I sound passive aggressive in my praise, let me apologize. I truly love Marla (the Flylady's real name). I've got the emails in my Yahoo account from 2004 to prove it. I tried so hard to be consistent at home keeping. My goal was to follow the system exactly, but it never quite fit for me. Maybe there were too many testimonials from Stay At Home Moms, or women that wanted to host church gatherings, or others completely caught up in the American consumer nightmare, and that's never how I pictured myself, or could even have imagined myself ever wanting to be. I could not taste the reward, and therefore the recipe made no sense.

But I'm back at it, and it's different this time. Having seen how Gretchen Rubin pays respect, and Apartment Therapy uses her ideas, I was able to look at it in a new way. Babysteps, Jump In Where You Are, Finally Loving Yourself (FLYing!) - these are all (pretty self-explanatory) concepts I kept in my heart, even after the rest of the systems fell apart. 

Oddly, it restarted recently by realizing that I was wasting weekends by sleeping too late. Next, while recovering from surgery, I realized I was completely ruining Sunday with the endless laundry that sometimes stretched until Tuesday before all of the clothing had returned from the basement. And, by some miracle of timing, Flylady started using Constant Contact, which put the emails back in my Yahoo account, at just the right time. 

So last week, I followed most of the Zone Cleaning missions, and did a load of laundry about every other day. It was a miracle. My kitchen is clean. My laundry will never be done, but it will also not be an overwhelming mountain of fabric and stair climbing ever again. And it's not that hard to do, but it makes such a difference. 

Big ups to you, Flylady. (That's dorky, hopelessly lame, faux-hip hop lingo for "Thank you".) I look forward to a HURP (House Under Reconstruction Processes). Yeah, that doesn't spell a real word because that's another skill I don't have. Fly on and inspire us all, my purple friend. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February's projects have nothing to do with a sack of bile.

I think the correct word may be sac. Anyways, cholecystectomy (fancy term for gallbladder removal) recovery is easy as pie. Although, I haven't really tried to eat pie yet... we are re-exploring foods. So far, eggs, avocado, pizza, and potatoes au gratin are all good (you know, all the important food groups). The secret seems to be moderation. Damn. Another thing I already knew.

So, to keep the wheel turning, it is time to implement the February projects. I usually like to use 3 projects, but I expanded to four, because it's one more than eleven, or actually less than eleven, which is what I would like to tackle given unlimited attention, time and money. But four seems nice. My family unit of origin. A box. A square. Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

One: Read a romance. I am in the middle of 1Q84, but I am sure I'll finish it soon (or, rather, that my electronic loan from the library will end and my e-reader will automatically return it for me, thereby ending my experience). You know, for February. Something inspiring, so that I can believe in love for 300 pages. Suggestions are welcome.

Two: Plan and pack lunches for Richard and I. Frankly, this one kind of makes me angry. I shouldn't have to create lunch for a grown man. But if I am making myself a lunch, it's not that much harder to make two. I will also benefit from the organization it will require. We'll see how it goes.

Three: De-clutter. I need to let go of some things. Some of them are actual objects, and some are ideas. I want to spend 15 minutes every day letting go of something. It should be challenging, because I am already avoiding the task by blogging instead of clearing out the guest room for a guest next weekend.

Four: Love. I want to confess my love to someone every day. Besides Mr. Awesome the cat, of course.
I'm trying not to be too literal here, but I failed yesterday, and today's not looking good either. I'm thinking it could be an offhand comment, or a nice note on the social network, or something like that, but maybe that's too nebulous?  I want to spread the love, but without a knife, you know? Because where is the shame in someone knowing how much you like them?

The checklist will remain essential, as December and January have proven. I was excellent in December at documentation, but January kind of slid off the road, if you follow snow analogies. I blame it on surgery, although there was nothing on that list that would have conflicted with my recovery (reading, sleeping, daily exercise?). But I've got four-wheel drive, so we're digging out of the ditch and moving on.

So, let me know if you've got a good romance I should read, or you want some crappy craft supplies, or you need some love. February = fantastic, because we shall make it so.