The Diet: It Sucks But It Works

I love food.

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I mean, I love food.

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I mean, I really, really love food.

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Like most humans, I love the wrong kinds of food. What can I say? The ‘bad’ sorts just taste better. Eating lots of the ‘bad’ sorts also tastes better, particularly as a coping mechanism for depression.

However, that is known is gluttony, and is my favorite sin.

As such, baby-making and age eventually caught up to my habit. I found myself considering something I’d never had to before: a diet.

Before Child #4 and my thirties, I’d been blissfully ignorant of the difficulties of weight loss. I walked a lot. I was actively breaking up fighting children. I worked around the house and in the yard. I cooked our meals; sometimes, from our garden. I’ve never consumed alcohol or coffee and do not drink soda pop often.

About who-knows-how-many years ago, I had to do more. Baby #4 could walk and talk …and go into preschool, so I couldn’t use his birth as an excuse for the 30 extra pounds anymore. So, I started my own variation of the no-carb diet.

Diet #1

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I cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, and white rap (we all know Mom’s spaghetti is loaded with carbs). Instead of going completely lettuce-wrapped, I replaced my grains with whole wheat and brown rice.

I lost about 10 lbs; then, reasonably, gave up.

This may have also coincided with school letting out for the summer.

Diet #2

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About a year after Diet #1 and Christmas, I implemented another diet. I focused more on not eating after a certain time (9 p.m.), drinking more water, and not eating any sweets or desserts.

Again, this lasted about a month.

Diet #3

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Cue yet another year and I told myself this was it. I told myself I would drop that final 10 lbs, whether or not it was Girl Scout Cookie Time.

For some reason, I had also been exercising daily since November. For some other reason, we planned our first-ever out-of-country and longer-than-two-nights trip. The husband wanted me to get a bikini. He assumed I would be seen in public wearing one.

This final time was more difficult than the others; due to its being the last few pounds, due to my exercising, and due to my wavering conviction after a few weeks. I did smaller portion sizes. I tried to avoid refined sugar. I chewed gum, wore my retainer, and shamed myself away from late-night snacks.

But, did it I did. Lost the weight I did.

Aaaand, now I’m back to where I started. Actually, I’m back to where I started, plus a little extra in case we run out of snacks on the flight to where I started. I’ve been trying to diet again, impatiently so.

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I always forget how difficult The Diet is. Day One is the hardest. Actually; like they say in Holes, “the first hole’s the hardest;” then, “the second hole’s the hardest….” If I survive the first week without killing everyone in a hangry rage, my stomach shrinks and I make it a while longer. I’m hoping to stick with it till all the extra baby weight is gone.

I write this post to explain why I’m a little testy; why I’m somewhat unfocused. I also write it to encourage anyone working on dieting or other self-improvement. Self-improvement is difficult, but you can do it. I can do it.

We can do it, one hole at a time -er, maybe one salad at a time.

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What have been your experiences with dieting? What worked? Whom did you murder during the first week?

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I wrote some stuff, too:

Wednesday, January 22: Wondered at the anti-social social world in “Real Life vs. The Blogosphere.”

Thursday, January 23: Throwback: “Herculesa.”

Friday, January 24: Posted the winner of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to Doug.

Saturday, January 25: Announced the 56th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an epic poem of adventure. PLEASE ENTER!

Also, “Quick Game: Edit That Book Title,” for fun.

Sunday, January 26: “The Hereafter, Aloft,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Monday, January 27: An inspirational quote from Charli Mills.

Tuesday, January 28ish: Poemed “Wanton Winter.”

Wednesday, January 29: Today

I also published a bit on my motherhood site. I wrote “You Might Have a New Baby If…” and “Time for Baby.”

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit:
Jonathan Borba
Kavita Joshi Rai
Laura Gomez
petra cigale
Ocean Ng
STIL
Pexels
Anna Pelzer

Have You Any Guilty Pleasures?

I find guilty pleasures amusing.

Yes, I know those secret sins could involve someone with a very serious addiction, ruining his life behind the back alley of the strip club while his family suffers starvation at home. Obviously I do not find that situation funny.

What I do snicker about is the idea that a person sneaks around for a mild pleasure. You know, something like “Encounter in the Alley,” a story I wrote based off Stephen’s prompt last August.

All right; I may be alone in this.

But humorous or not, guilty pleasures are indulgences we can understand. Maybe we can even relate to them because we have a few of our own…

I have. Most of mine involve food. Like, that one time I purchased a char-grilled hamburger and french fries for just myself and enjoyed every dip of fry sauce while the kids were in school. Or the night I ran to the store for groceries and treated myself to a Reese’s Sticks candy bar. Or when I recently added a $1 frozen pizza to our groceries whilst on bed rest and savored all the crispy badness.

The non-food indulgences are still related to being alone: reading the last dregs of a novel in the closet, writing a blog post in the safety of my car, or snickering quietly over a clever quip I read online.

By myself. Just me. Alone.

So, maybe that’s the secret. Maybe a guilty pleasure is one we feel we ought not to enjoy but do, and therefore indulge in when others are not around to judge.

What do you think? Have you any guilty pleasures or know others who do? Besides the …more disgusting ones, are you willing to share?

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I’m about 16 days behind on reading all my favorite bloggers and have 10 extra house guests this week, but here’s what I accomplished so far:

Wednesday, June 19: Wondered: “Are Food Cravings Always Specific?

Thursday, June 20: Entered Anisha’s raw poetry contest.

Friday, June 21: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Nitin!

Saturday, June 22: Announced the 31st Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is the political views of rodents. PLEASE ENTER!

Celebrated the second birthday of this here blog!

Sunday, June 23: “Adult Swim,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Monday, June 24: Shared a quote I read over at C.S. Boyack‘s site about blogging compared to writing a book.

Tuesday, June 25: Nothing.

And, posted “How to Break the Cycle of Abuse Within Your Own Mind” over at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog.

Wednesday, June 26: Today.

I also sort-of posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “No One Likes the Dentist, But Some Kids Have Special Needs,” “Where Do We Sleep on a Road Trip with Kids??,” and “The Most Loving Sight.”

 

Photo Credit:
Thomas Kelley

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Are Food Cravings Always Specific?

I’m currently pregnant. If you didn’t know that, you do now.

As such, I’ve gotten a lot of well-meaning questions like, “Have you had any funny cravings?” and, “D’ya know what you’re having?” These are often accompanied by a figurative elbow nudge and *wink-wink.*

The answer to both is, “NO!” -definitely so to the first, because I get very very very very very very very very very very (etc.) sick whilst pregnant. I haven’t had to get a feeding tube and I have amazing resistance to losing my lunch, but -Ugh.

When I do crave food, it’s more of an intense, five-minute demand for one very specific taste. Say… nachos from the Maverik gas station. Or, a croissant sandwich from the local deli. Or, pickle ice cream.

K, not really on the ice cream.

But all that is on par with when I am not pregnant -except for the being sick part. When I am hungry for dinner during normal times, I imagine the taste of something I had before. I want it precisely like that, down to the last rosemary leaf.

Which led me to wonder: does everyone crave food that way? When you want chocolate, is it a certain brand or flavor? Is it just chocolate? Does your taco have to be the one from that over-smiley dude on 5th? Can it be Taco Bell, instead?

Do tell. And, do share some of your favorites.

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Grab some chips and check out what went down this past week:
Wednesday, June 12: Announced Baby #5 in “Really Big News of a Non-Writing Kind.”

Thursday, June 13: Tanka Tuesday. On a Thursday.

Friday, June 14: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Deb Whittam!

Saturday, June 15: Announced the 30th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is to pick a number and repeat it ad nauseam. PLEASE ENTER!

Also shared that I won second place in the Annual Bloggers Bash writing competition.

Sunday, June 16: “Many Hands Make Enlightened Work,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, June 17: An inspirational quote by Denzel Washington.

Tuesday, June 18: Nothing!

Wednesday, June 19: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Rainy Days and Mondays Don’t Have to Get you Down” and “A Pregnancy Poem.”

Photo Credit:
Jason Leung

The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy

Good morning/afternoon/evening/midnight/snacktime everyone! I am ready to very professionally talk to you about one of my favorite subjects: food.

Fruit smoothies in glasses topped with pieces of fruit and marigold flowers

I just spent ten luxurious minutes searching for food pictures, and now I’m hungry. There are so many pictures of food! WHY are there so many?

Duh. Food is life.

That, and it’s delicious. During one of my no-sugar diets, I sagely told a friend, “I’ve decided the problem with chocolate is that it tastes good.” I hope I come up with better quotes when I’m not dieting.

So…. why bother monitoring what we stuff in our faces? This is one of those answers that we all know, like how we ought to be getting outside more, or exercising. We know that eating well is better for our health.

Anyone with food issues like me also knows that an entire bag of Snicker’s ‘fun’ size is really appealing at depressive moments. As appetizing as a picture of odd fruits with flowers (why flowers?) is, I’m apt to choose something meatier and fattier and baddier.

Oooh yeah. People don’t believe me when I tell them I like meat and have issues in general, because I periodically diet and usually exercise. And if random good behavior keeps me looking passable, then you have my personal assurances that such a plan will work for you.

First, let’s list why eating well is such a great idea:

  1. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients, madeupwordients are ESSENTIAL for complex creatures such as us. They’re our fuel.
  2. Eating the right things really helps to not get sick often.
  3. A balanced diet definitely helps with mental illness. Seriously, Google found me so much proof -like on a Harvard Health blog.

Hmmm… I probably should have put #3 first. I blame not eating breakfast yet.

“Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood” (Harvard Health Blog).

Oops. I’m just gonna hide this bag of …Snicker’s. *crinkle* *crinkle* Hey, look at this beautiful picture of a salad!

Right-o. We know that good food is good. Most of us know that, from our childhood years of basic nutrition education. If not -hey! I taught you something new!

The tricky part is application. Take one little tiny baby step with me here:

You don’t have to starve yourself and only eat rabbit food.

In fact, if weight loss alone is your goal, you can eat only McDonald’s and still shed pounds. McDonald’s, even the salad, is NOT healthy; just so’s you know. Processed foods tend to not be. And, you have to put up with only Mickey D’s for six months which would be hell for me.

I likes my variety, and you can too!

Rambling point: Small Step #1 is to eat less* overall. You can feed your OCD tendencies if you have them and write down how many calories if you wish. Use a website or app to estimate what your daily calorie burn is, then eat less of that each day. Eat a little less; we’re not encouraging any anorexia here.

*Eating less than what you burn leads to weight loss. Ignore this advice if you are already at a good weight. In that case, eat close to what you burn in order to maintain.

Small Step 2 is when you eat. Your body will burn calories or hang onto them differently at different times of day and different times of year. Generally, avoid eating after 8:00 p.m. and/or two hours before sleeping. Eating later not only helps the food stick around, it makes you less comfortable and more depressed.

On the same page, make sure you are stuffing your face at regular mealtimes. I also need to eat between meals, like a hobbit. I keep the calorie count low (see Step 1), but don’t starve.

Step 3 is what you eat. If you consider lettuce a food fit for hopping creatures, that’s totally cool. I especially understand if you only ever eat iceberg lettuce; that crap is just water. Get yourself the more green and leafy varieties like Romaine, wrap your protein in it, and salt and pepper the thing.

Everyone has some foods he/she likes that he/she knows are healthy. If not, buy some of your friend’s favorites and sneakily eat them in your closet. I won’t tell. At the end of such an experiment, you will have a few that you can stomach.

Use the old internet for searches like “low-calorie recipes,” “healthy snacks,” and “edible and appetizing ways to prepare kale.” -Okay, that last one was a joke.

I recommend AGAINST anal counting of minerals and vitamins and whatnot because it’s a very tricky process that is probably not entirely accurate. Fresh foods have a different value than ones that have been canned, dried, frozen, or covered in chocolate to actually make them taste good.

The advice I follow myself is to lower sugars and white flours and rices, keep the calories low, and include a treat in that count. If you’re following my earlier advice to exercise, you’ll need the extra calories.

A good Step 4 is to cut out stimulants and booze. Ya know, like coffee and alcohol. I think this is a great step, but I don’t touch the stuff myself and therefore wouldn’t presume to lecture you on how to do so. There are plenty of internet and local areas to help, however. (Like, the addiction national helpline, if it’s that serious: 1-800-662-HELP [4357].)

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but I thought the same thing when my paid friend told me she hadn’t consumed sugar since 2003. She still has valid ideas in many other categories, so I’ll probably keep seeing her.

As a final note, I don’t even have to be an expert to mention a vital consumable related to eating well: drinking well. As a human, you need water.

Water is life, more so than food even.

I live in a desert environment, and even I skimp on the “recommended amount.” That’s because I don’t like using the bathroom all day. I’ve been told that regular, consistent drinking of water should make that problem disappear.

Wherever you live, make sure you drink water. It improves skin, helps organ function, helps singers sound better, and keeps you from dying.

So, class, let’s get started today. Keep your diet tasty, consistent, and manageable. Drink your water. These simple steps will help you be better able to fight those depressive tendencies.

This has been a part of our Cure for Depression series. Tune in next time, and we’ll talk about joy.

 

Photo Credits:
Brooke Lark
Haseeb Jamil
Vitchakorn Koonyosying
Lacey Williams
Yasuo Takeuchi

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Food on Your Family

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There is a recall out for chopped Romaine lettuce.

Normally, I am unaffected by produce recalls because my lettuce was purchased thirty days ago and I am still telling myself that I’ll eat it. I can cut around all the brown spots, right? We’d hosted a family party Sunday, however, so I bought that huge package of Romaine hearts from Costco the day before.

As each heart was ripped out and discarded, I had the mental image of pulling cash from my wallet and throwing green bills away.

Which leads me to a common question I hear: how much does it cost to feed a family?

I have four boys. They’re young, and have always had modest appetites. My husband, who has never passed 150 lbs in his life, says he feels full after soup. Still, our food costs are going to be more than a young couple working full time or a small family of three.

Plus, kids grow. They eat more when they grow.

I lived with my younger brother when he was a teenager. I’m safely estimating that I’ll have that TIMES FOUR in a few, short years.

One perk to having children is that people will occasionally offer me free food. As in, Chelsea, I’m moving and am just throwing away all the food in my fridge. Do you want to come over and see if you can use any? Or, I’m going on a restrictive diet and left some pantry items on your porch. Give away what you don’t use.

It almost makes up for how much I spend otherwise. Actually -no, no it doesn’t.

Whenever I think I’ve got it bad, however, I think of larger families. We’ve hosted my husband’s sister’s family of eight children a handful of times. Don’t worry -we’ve returned the favor. But adding six people to ten is easier: just kill two chickens instead of the one and throw a bit more flour into the roll dough.

I may go into Costco to buy bread and come out with a new set of tires, but my weekly trips and expenses for food are about equal to my sister-in-law’s daily ones.

One of my favorite films to watch growing up was Yours, Mine, and Ours, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Although it has many pertinent scenes, every time our relatives come stay I replay the grocery store part in my mind. In the film, the poor cashier enters the products manually. Tub after tub of oatmeal follows bags and bags of Wonder bread, AND they have two more shopping carts to go after all that. The cashier totals it all up; they spent $126.63 (the equivalent of $920.87, using online inflation calculators).

The North family really could have used a Costco.

We took our ten house guests to the world’s largest Costco last time they were here. My husband was at work, so we may have resembled members of a certain lifestyle involving two wives. Each adult manned a shopping cart and helped herd the dozen children roaming around us.

It was somewhat exciting to purchase 36 hot dogs, multiple loaves of bread, 5 lbs of cheese, and enormous bags of chips -and know that we would eat it all within the week. We filled the carts with food and diapers, plus children in time-out.

I felt overwhelmed projecting how much regular grocery bills must cost. And, as with any large organization (recalls aside), their family has waste. have waste, and feel that I do fairly well planning out meals and reusing leftovers.

I find myself mentally calculating what the cheapest take-out meals are (Chinese food, pizza, or chicken “on the bird” from Costco), least-expensive home meals are (bean soup, grilled cheese and tomato soup, pancakes), or how often we can visit relatives at mealtimes.

I mean, when the boys do hit puberty, I’m going to be in trouble. Donations? GoFundMe, maybe? Actually, taking a full-time job might be the best option.

I wonder if Costco is hiring.

 

Wilhelmina Winters: Thirty-Eight

Lone drifts of snow breeze touched lightly across deserted chairs, a table, a brick wall. The detritus collected in forsaken corners for moments, then was rudely pushed on its airborne way again. This empty land had seen no life for days -not even the echo of a footstep. Pale noon sunlight filtered through the hurried mists, illuminating the space in an ethereal glow.

A wall, a windowed door away, the soft glow filtered through to dimly reflect in a pair of thoughtful eyes. Wil remembered this place like it was only yesterday, or perhaps the day before. Would she ever forget?

She moved her head to look round the room she sat within -a room that still spoke of the presence of hundreds of persons. Their shadows -or, perhaps, their essence- lingered on the abandoned plastic furniture. There was also a chair overturned here, a table pushed aside there. The litter of their lives blew slightly in the ancient air heating system.

“At least that still works,” Wil thought to herself, as she recalled the icy winds swirling beyond the glass doors. She hugged her arms around her thinning body and checked the knot of her fraying black scarf.

She glanced at the working clock hanging crookedly on the wall. Its second-hand foundered eternally at the six, pulsing helplessly; but its other hands continued on unaffected. They gestured to Wil that her wait was nearly over.

They would arrive soon.

Wil tried to distract herself in preparations, but knew it was no use. She had used up the remaining food just that morning. She carried no weapons. She had been forced to leave her pack and materials inside a small metal box just inside this labyrinthine building. If this meeting proved favorable, she would retrieve them after. If not, her information would remain safe beyond their hands.

A low, muted note sounded, startling Wil. One more automatic system was still in place, then. So much for silence and subtlety.

She rose from her slouch; pushed the blue chair underneath its matching table. Instinct had taken over: she sensed food. She would forage first, and meet her odd party after.

“It’s always better to meet uncertainty on a full stomach,” she reminded herself.

Moving to a doorway in the wall, she saw that her suspicions had been correct. There was food here. Or, at least, there were the remains of what started out as food. She peered through the yellowing sneeze guards at a few pathetic trays of the stuff. She wondered if consumption would sustain life, or bring its end more quickly.

Deciding on the former, Wil slid one of the trays out and into her hands. She turned and headed back to the tables. Others were arriving; she recognized a few.

It was time.

 

Continued from Thirty-Seven.
Keep reading to Thirty-Nine.