Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Fair Food

I have recently been reminded that my relationship with food still needs to change, after all these years of managing to lose and maintain a significant weight loss. Yikes! I thought I was finished dealing with this. The challenge of summer fair food is one more adventure where I’m not, and never will be, finished dealing with this.

I’ve been trained to handle large amounts of food. As a volume eater, I’ve practiced portion control and even learned how to indulge in larger portions by making those larger portions contain vegetables and some fruit. This works, most of the time. What I’m facing now, however, is the need to truly understand and practice portion control when dealing with the all-you-can-eat mentality found at buffets, summer fairs and amusement parks. Who invented this craziness anyway? The only situation that comes to mind is when Jesus fed the multitudes and he invited the people to “eat until they’ve had their fill”. Was this an all-you-can-eat-fest too? I imagine the indulgence that is implied represents the blessings above and beyond what we can imagine that God can bless us with, when we come to Him with only a little bit (like five loves and three fishes, or was it four loaves and two fishes?) and offer it in true faith. We know God can do anything, but did He mean for us to really eat until we’re truly full?

When I approach a buffet, I must admit it feels like a food fest. After all, it’s all the same price for me to eat more, isn’t it? We look at this as a good deal when it comes to money, but it’s not really a good deal with our stomachs, is it? When Jesus fed the crowd, it was about the money, too, since the food was free. I wonder if any of them had overeating issues back then. I’m certain someone must have had a bit more of a passion for food than needed, like I do. Why can’t I look over the buffet, decide what to eat, then get that, and STOP? What is it about the fact that the food is sitting there that makes it call my name?

I remember last summer when our family visited a local amusement park with the expected “summer fair food”. You know what I mean: funnel cakes, fresh-made French fries, delicious hamburgers, ice cream and even candy treats. It calls our name simply because it’s there. We smell the food and see the food; we see others eating it, and then all sense of structure and balanced meals go out the window. Maybe it’s the background noise that is so loud it deafens us to the sounds in our own heads to control our eating.

After two days of a food fest, I decided to approach our final day at the amusement park that summer differently. I prayed for help. I asked God to help me decide what to eat, what not to eat, how to think about it, and even how to stop thinking about it, for the ONE day. It seemed to be on my mind more than needed. What I sensed was the plan to choose one treat that day, which would be a treat that I wouldn’t have otherwise, or at least would be something I truly craved that day. What a blessing. I survived the day not only by having just one treat—which was orange and vanilla swirl ice cream---but the booth where I purchased it happened to carry a smaller size serving than the others! Praise God!

I am always in need of the reminder to take the one-day-at-a time approach to eating. As summer eases in with all its adventures, I can say: let the food fests begin! It’s been handled before, and will be handled again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My 2 Cents on Kirstie's 80 Pounds

Let’s see: what weights about 80 pounds? (1) 160 five-pound bags of flour (2) Two small children (3) A very large dog. Eighty pounds is a lot of weight.

I picked up the tabloid at the grocery store line while waiting to check out my fruit, veggies, fat-free products, whole-grain bread; well, you get the picture. I decided to read the first couple lines of Kirstie Alley’s latest saga. All I caught was the impression that she was “shocked” about gaining over 80 pounds and that she gained it by eating lots and lots of butter.

The butter comment irks me. It’s not the butter that’s a problem, it’s the amount of butter consumed and the frequency with which it’s eaten. The all-or-nothing approach to butter was the fastest ticket for Kirstie to take yet another trip on the weight loss roller coaster ride. It’s dizzying, and the only way to get grounded is to stop blaming the food itself and start looking at herself. What makes her eat? I wonder.

On the other hand, I can feel for Kirstie. It seems to me that she lost her accountability with the folks at Jenny Craig and needed the media pressure to maintain her slimmer self to satisfy everyone else. Obviously, it doesn’t work. There’s something deeper needed. Same thing happened with Oprah; same thing happened with at least a dozen other people I know who are not celebrities. Reaching a certain weight may happen under the pressure of something or someone else, but staying there requires the tenacity from within. Perhaps Kirstie was not “shocked” that she actually gained the weight, but surprised that it was possible for her to gain that amount of weight again.

But we are all the same, celebrity or not, when it comes to weight loss. That tenacity we need can only sustain us in a limited way. This daily weight loss battle is grueling and tiring, and, the icing on the cake is the realization that losing the weight isn’t as hard as keeping it off.

I’m thankful for this story as a reminder to myself that prayers are the ultimate food program and God is ALWAYS there for me to indulge. I’m thankful that I don’t need an unlimited amount of tenacity to keep the weight off; I only need to remember to ask for God’s help—again. And again. Amen.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Support Systems

Okay, ladies, it’s time to get personal. It’s time to talk about support systems—you know what I mean: BRAS. Yup, I’ve finally accepted the fact that there’s just nothing quite like a good-fitting bra.

I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and as a result, my size has changed. Not just one size, but many sizes. My ring size, shoe size, jeans size and yes, my bra size. It wasn’t something noticeable overnight but there was one day when I looked in the mirror and noticed something was wrong. The outfit was okay, the shoes acceptable, but I was a bit, ahem, saggy. No, it wasn’t the clothes, it was me. I thinned out so that means I also flattened out. If you can’t change nature, you can get a new bra.

A girlfriend and I had the opportunity for a mini getaway a couple years ago which included relaxing, chatting and, of course, shopping. A small lingerie boutique was on the list of nearby stores to visit. It was one of those classy boutiques—the ones that are intimidating and alluring at the same time. It’s time to put the bra challenge to the test.

My girlfriend and I walked into the store with the scantily-clad mannequins and greeted the salesclerk with a skeptical smile. “Hi!” she said, way too excitedly. We jumped right to the task at hand. “Do you have those bras that Oprah raves about,” I asked, “the ones that help with the, uh, support I need?” Little Miss Excitement escorted us to the back section of the quaint store and presented the display of the ever-so-famous bras. All sizes and colors of these magical wonders were on display. I checked one of the price tags. “I don’t intend to buy today, but want to know if it’s really true that these bras really make a difference.” I clarified. Not to be swayed, she continued her Pepsodent smile and said “No problem! Let’s figure out your size and let you try it on. For fun!” She unhooked the measuring tape she was wearing like a stethoscope, ready to cure my ills. She measured and re-measured until she got the correct numbers.

Well, almost 70 dollars later, I made myself into a new woman! So did my girlfriend. These bras are amazing. Support systems really do help us in ways we never imagined.

The most meaningful support system in my life is my prayer life. Yes, I have wonderful girlfriends. Yes, I have an amazing family. Yes, I have the perfect bra. But God is the only one who comes through for me every time. God is like the bra that is always the right size, lifting me up when I’m sagging , making me feel better, stronger, and ready to face the world. I’m made up of the same stuff underneath, but with God’s support, I feel like a new person. Time to accept the fact that there’s just nothing quite like a great support system—no matter what size I am.