Food and guilt

I’d be surprised if I haven’t written about food and guilt before. I mean, an ENORMOUS part of any sort of weight-loss journey is dealing with a relationship with food. Even more so when you throw in disordered or compulsive/addictive eating. And yes, even more so when you throw in Catholic guilt, regardless of my practicing status.

I’m still in the throes of stepping back and observing the last 18 months or so and the processes that have led me to where I am right now, and I have to admit that there were a lot of things at play, many of which I have already glossed over (HUGE life changes–one right after the other, a separation from the Crossfit community, etc., etc.). But I think that one of the things that has seriously messed with my head is/was food.

Throughout my time writing for DK Gets Fit, I think I’ve been able to stay fairly neutral about food choices. Weight Watchers being pretty flexible about what types of food you eat, and incorporating aspects of Paleo into my diet (lower carbs, higher protein!).

Then life threw me a curveball, and I discovered, definitively, that I have food allergies. Namely, wheat, milk protein, bananas, macadamias, sesame seeds, and a mild allergy to egg whites (which I still consume because it’s just so hard to get around). I continued attending Weight Watchers meetings, this time at work, and I felt SO isolated. Nobody, not even the leader, could grasp what it is like to all of a sudden not be able to eat SO many of the foods that Weight Watchers preaches. The actual nutrition approach for WW encourages nonfat dairy products (I am currently OK with higher-fat dairy, such as butter, ghee, and some cheeses, but generally avoid anything high in whey or casein), whole grains (certainly including wheat), egg whites by the cartonful, and of course bananas up the ying yang (ditto that with Paleo). I didn’t know what to do, so out of frustration I eventually quit.

AND THEN, I decided to see a dietitian, who really was awesome, emphasizing types of foods instead of tracking, HOWEVER, it became pretty evident PRETTY quickly that someone who has issues with food really does need to track, no matter what KINDS of foods you’re eating. ESPECIALLY because maybe you want to have a cheat meal–or weekend–at some point, and you need to be correctly equipped on how to deal with this. I gained weight doing this.

I also gained something else.

The Boy would argue that I also developed a (mild) case of orthorexia. With the food allergies and the new recommendations from the dietitian, AND all of a sudden really being able to get enough protein from meat sources (since egg whites and dairy were out), I started to be afraid of anything that wasn’t organic/pastured/local food. I guess it’s not a horrible way to live, but it’s certainly not inexpensive.

Again, I gained weight this way.

Then, after spiraling and free-falling for a few months, depressed, miserable, and stuck, I knew I had to do something.

I rejoined Weight Watchers. And I’ve been pretty vigilant about tracking everything, since the end of January, and I’ve lost a mere 8 pounds. Since January. Though this is also with weird food allergies that literally nobody seems to understand. Once again, I felt othered during meetings, and decided to move out of meetings, and instead to personal coaching, which I haven’t yet decided if I like or not (I get a 15-minute check in, but there really isn’t any particular theme of the week, etc.).

But, and here’s where the guilt part of this post comes in, soon after I started my new job, The Boy lost his. And all of a sudden we are paying for groceries with a set amount of cash. And all of a sudden I’m finding that my lunches are filled with rice and beans. My vegetables are no longer only organic. There’s no more Whole Foods, and we haven’t been able to afford our local farm for what seems like forever.

And I shouldn’t feel awful admitting that, but I do. I SO do.

I feel so GUILTY that I actually cannot afford, at the moment, to purchase those foods that I know to be healthiest and most nutritionally dense. And I feel GUILTY that, after an entire year almost completely grain free, I’m back to eating grains on a regular basis. I feel GUILTY.

See why The Boy thinks it’s orthorexia?

My first go-around a few years ago, I regularly ate grains and did really well. Where along this road did I decide that they just flat-out are not okay at all? And when did I start shaming myself so badly for eating REAL, ONE-INGREDIENT, WHOLE FOODS just because they don’t fit into the Paleo paradigm?

It’s really messed up! Yes, I KNOW!

So I guess that’s one of many things I’m working on right now. Doing the best I can, but more importantly KNOWING that I AM doing the best I can.

Once again, here I am. Let’s try to take the guilt out of eating, and associating eating with guilt. Because, can we all just admit that we’d be a lot happier if we did?

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Why CSAs rock

Kohlrabi, potatoes, portabellos, and pea sprouts! Mmm!
Kohlrabi, potatoes, portabellos, and pea sprouts! Mmm!

I mentioned last week that The Boy hates vegetables. I’m not going to try to change him, but we have an agreement that if I cook it, he will at least TRY it. So, for going from ZERO to tastes of vegetables, I call this a huge stride in an amazing direction, and I certainly have to give him props.

And me, I love my veggies and the volume they add to my meals at a low caloric cost. But I’ve gotten into the bad habit of relying on a very small pool of veg—broccoli, green beans, baby greens, bell peppers, asparagus, and cauliflower. Always fresh, and pretty much year ’round. Those are fairly versatile veggies that I could snarf down cooked or raw, and were very good for a routine.

But, purchasing these veg year ’round also meant that I frequently purchased out-of-season and foods that had been shipped from hundreds or even thousands of miles away!

I knew that to get the best-quality produce, I’d have to shop more often at farmers markets. But somehow, I rarely got over to one, and then I when I did, I always looked for similar mainstays. Yes, very boring indeed.

So, a few months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in some Community Supported Agriculture. I’d heard of CSAs before, and I knew a few people who did use CSAs, but I never had the amount of money I’d needed to commit to one.

The basic idea, if you’re unfamiliar, is that you find a local farm that participates in a CSA program, and you essentially purchase a season “share” of the farm crop. Normally, for a spring share, this means maybe $500, depending on your need. Then, once the season approaches, each week, you get a package of fresh, local vegetables and fruits, picked up normally at a farmers market.

I found another service recently, called Field Goods, which is a bit more flexible, and fits my schedule and budget, and allows to put deliveries on hold if you’re out of town or unable to pick it up. You pay weekly, which is, great, instead of buying in initially.

And, perhaps, the best part is that participating in a CSA has forced me to be a more adventurous and creative eater. So, in a sense The Boy and I have been challenged to grow together in learning to eat a wider variety of vegetables. For example, before the CSA, I had never tried beets, and have even been very scared and intimidated by them. However, I had them forced upon me a few times by now, and have learned that they’re not so scary, and actually not too bad at all! We’ve gotten squashes, loads of apples for canning, pumpkins, frozen edamame, frozen broccoli and cauliflower, celery root, kohlrabi, hydroponic lettuce greens, kale, collards, turnips, radishes, daikon, garlic, shallots, shiitakes, and more. This past week, we received potatoes, kohlrabi, pea shoots, arugula, frozen blueberries, frozen tomato puree, portobello mushrooms, and probably a few other things that I’m now forgetting. All local, all SEASONAL, and all for $25.

I call that a steal.

And that, friends, is why CSAs are freaking AWESOME. It’s providing me with ALL of the vegetables for the week (so it cuts down on my grocery shopping), I don’t have to think about it, and it forces me to try new things. Hip-hip-hooray!

What I learned doing a Whole30

To Paleo or not to Paleo?
To Paleo or not to Paleo?

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was in the middle of doing a Whole30. Basically, that means 30 days of super-strict Paleo.

Well, it’s over now, and I’m here to report back my specific experience on Whole30.

First, let’s talk for a second about WHY I decided to do a Whole30.

Around November, I started feeling really unmotivated to really be careful with my WW plan. I was exercising nonstop and being really strict about my carb cycling, and when you add high-stress situations to that mix (i.e., school and lots of work), it became extremely tedious really fast. I wasn’t getting where I wanted to at the scale, so somewhere that translated to going to Bountiful Bread and getting cake. Like, a lot of cake.

I was exhausted.

I was exhausted of it all.

So I just said screw it. And I did.

Things only got worse over the holidays. I thought that if I committed to a gluten-free diet when home, that would be good enough. I did okay for a bit, but a gluten-free diet in Portland also translated to going and getting a really awesome latte…accompanied by gluten-free brownies or muffins. I mean…really, DK?

Winter turned into trying to maintain after a pretty icky holiday gain.

And then my PDX box decided they were going to have a 30-Day Challenge. I was talked into giving it a shot. But every single day I attempted Paleo, I utterly failed. I refused to give up milk. And I felt sooo guilty every time my friend Shannon asked me about it. It was too much.

And then I returned to Albany. I felt totally lost. I didn’t know what to do. So I decided to re-try the 30-Day Challenge and just start a Whole30 of my own. (I had to go grocery shopping anyway, so why not just get some Paleo foods?)

At first it was fine. I was so good! I asked restaurants if their sauces had sugar in them. I was getting nasty Starbucks Americanos, unadulterated by sugars or creams. I ate eggs for breakfast instead of oatmeal. I lived on avocados, sweet potatoes, and bacon (yessss). I devoutly sent food logs to Dean, and I increased the intensity of my workouts.

After about two weeks, I was seeing clear gains at the gym. Lots of PRs, and I was feeling pretty good. But I wasn’t losing weight…AT ALL. Dean critiqued my logs, suggesting that I work more veggies in, and cut out the sweet potatoes and squash. I did that. And yet, still nothing.

And then came the small cheats. After a while, I just couldn’t do it. Even though I was making strides at the gym and feeling okay. There was just something primal and almost unconscious in the back of my brain, urging me to just stop.

And one day, I was at work, and it was one of those days where you’re just starving ALL. DAY. LONG. And I had already cleared out the food I brought, and what did I do? I mindlessly walked next door, grabbed a frickin’ red velvet whoopie pie AND a double chocolate cookie, and yes, I ate them both, and yes they were delicious. But can I emphasize that I’m not a binge eater? Even when I really want sweets, this sort of behavior is not normal for me.

So of course afterward I (1) felt like shit, and (2) recognized that there was a problem.

I continued on strict Paleo for the next few days, but then ultimately decided to officially quit the Whole30 around day 21.

Before you rag on me for being a quitter or not having the mental fortitude to just “say no,” here are a few thoughts about Paleo:

  1. Paleo is a good way to eat. It emphasizes whole foods, natural foods, healthy foods. Yay!
  2. Paleo, on the other hand, is restrictive. It’s very much all-or-nothing (we’re talking about Paleo, as opposed to Primal, okay?). There is NO space for stevia or whole milk or grassfed butter or whatever.

That being said, here is what I learned about MYSELF in doing a Whole30:

  1. A 100% Paleo diet is not right for me. Before you faint from that, hear me out. As soon as I stopped obsessing over the strictness in my diet, I started feeling better, happier, and actually started losing weight again. While eating Paleo may have helped me improve in the gym, it also took a lot of mental energy. Energy that I didn’t really have to expend on this diet. A restrictive diet is not the right diet for me in the long run.
  2. mostly Primal diet is what I gravitate toward naturally. Since officially quitting the Whole30, you may be interested to learn that my days are filled predominantly with Primal-approved foods. I’ve come to prefer the taste of my homemade almondmilk lattes (unsweetened!); I’ve come to prefer peppers and guacamole as a snack over carrots and hummus (in fact, eating them now!); I would rather eat mashed cauliflower than mashed potatoes. A few days, I’ve looked back in shock, realizing that the ONLY non-Paleo thing I’ve eaten was a nonfat latte.
  3. It’s about being happy with your decisions—making them something you can live with. Like with anything in life, your diet needs to be something you can actually live with. For me, strict Paleo all the time was mostly impractical, and did not settle well with certain cravings. Some people are able to power through cravings, but sometimes it’s just not possible. And I really hate the notion of a “cheat.” It’s food. Stop associating SHAME with food, and you won’t be overridden with guilt as soon as you eat something considered unhealthy. I think the trick, like with many other things, is simply moderation. If you have a sincere craving, have something small and of quality, instead of risking a major binge by ignoring it. Honor the craving. But work it into your day responsibly.
  4. Grains are still bad…for me. It’s true. Wheat still makes me sick. Dairy, however, does not.

So where does that leave me? I guess I’m back where I started, but down a few pounds. Last week, I sat in a diner with my friend Jennifer, who is back on the tracking train. I think it was watching her laboriously track a grilled cheese sandwich and an order of french fries, with her meager 26 points per day, that made me realize what I need to do. I’m not saying that I was pretending or making things up, but it sort of shook some sense into me. Stop cycling. Stop doing Wendie. Stop the madness. Go back to the basics. Be honest with yourself. Make good choices. Indulge once in a while. But for god’s sake…frickin’ track, lady!

And I am. And I am much happier for that.

Be healthy!

Ch-ch-ch-CHIA [Seed Pudding]!!

Delicious, delicious chia seed pudding.
Delicious, delicious chia seed pudding.

I have recently discovered chia seeds. And after reading about them, I’m pretty much convinced that they’re a miracle superfood. They are not only rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, but they also have fiber and protein up the wazoo. And since it’s a seed, it’s Paleo-OK!

Do you like chocolate? Add 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder to the mix for a chocolatey treat.
Do you like chocolate? Add 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder to the mix for a chocolatey treat.

A few of my friends have told me about chia in the past, and I thought that they were mostly used as an egg substitute for vegans, or to grow little window-sill pets. My first brush with them came in kombucha, actually. It was a fruity effervescent mixture with the chia seeds, which floated, suspended in a gel-like liquid. I was intrigued by the texture, which kind of reminded me of the tapioca pearls in bubble tea.

When I saw a bag of them on sale at Trader Joe’s, I nabbed it.

And then I was like…What now?

After a bit of research, I found that the egg substitute gel is made when you add water to the chia, and it creates a gel after you let it sit. And apparently these little suckers will hold 9 times its bodyweight in liquid, not just water. So I start thinking…What if I mixed it with almond milk?

Wanna know what happens?

It turns into pudding.

The trick is just in the proportions.

And when you do it right, you have something that is basically vegan Paleo tapioca-freaking-pudding with way more substance and nutrition to it. OHHHH YESSSS.

This recipe is oh-so simple.

It only has a few ingredients: chia seeds, almond milk, agave syrup, and vanilla extract, which is optional.

Simple ingredients.
Simple ingredients.

Measure out your almond milk.

Lovely almond milk.
Lovely almond milk.

Stick it in a container that will be shake-proof.

Shake-proof.
Shake-proof.

Add your agave and your vanilla extract.

Agave time!
Agave time!

Pour in the chia seeds.

Thar she goes!
Thar she goes!

Don’t be afraid now!

Mmm!
Mmm!

Put on the lid….

And shake, shake, shake! (I totally used a protein shaker!)

Shake it like a polaroid picture!
Shake it like a polaroid picture!

Your mixture won’t look exciting at first.

All shook up.
All shook up.

But stick it in the refrigerator, and go back and shake every once in a while, and after 3-4 hours, you have a delicious treat.

After a mere three hours!
After a mere three hours!

You can even add chocolate for a chocolate pudding, and I hear that it’s delicious adding fruit puree, too! The taste and texture is similar to tapioca, but there’s just the faintest hint of a crunch from the seeds. Seriously, try it! It’s divine.

Divine divine divine.
Divine divine divine.

Chia Seed Pudding

You know you want this.
You know you want this.

Ingredients

• 2.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
• 1/2 cup chia seeds
• 3 tablespoons raw agave syrup
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Place all wet ingredients in a sealable container. Stir or shake until agave is dissolved.

Add chia seeds, and seal container. Shake until the seeds are well-distributed.

Refrigerate 3-4 hours, shaking periodically, until chia seeds absorb liquid, and pudding forms.

Enjoy!

Also try: Substitute coconut milk instead of almond milk! Add unsweetened dark cocoa powder! Add fruit puree!

For my WW peeps, a 3/4-cup serving is 4p+.

[Strict] Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Paaancakes!
Paaancakes!

Almost a week ago, I started a Whole30. Essentially, it’s 30 days of strict, strict Paleo. Yup. No grains, dairy, legumes, or sweeteners of any kind.

Why am I doing this?

Mostly because I feel a little guilty for totally wrecking my participation in CFSWP’s 30 Day Paleo Challenge. I failed miserably at that. And when I say miserably, I mean misssserablyyyyy. Also, because I’ve never done a Whole30, and thought it would be a good way to jumpstart some good nutritional habits.

I haven’t had too many problems sticking to the plan, although I do have to say I miss milk and cheese terribly. Because I love them. Also, I no longer have the grab-and-go snack options that, say, Greek yogurt provides. But for the most part, I’m enjoying chowing down on real eggs (instead of egg whites), nitrate-free bacon, delicious veggies cooked in said bacon, and avocado. And I’m not feeling guilty about it.

But lately, breakfast has been sounding yummy. Even when I was at home, I was like…danggggg I wish I had some gluten-free pancakes, because that sounds deeelish.

IMG_6154And for all y’all who have been doing Paleo for a while, you know that smushed up bananas do NOT pancakes make.

Enter paleo pumpkin pancakes, inspired in part by the nom-tastic Paleo Pumpkin Muffins.

You want to eat these.

And you probably want to eat them with a side of spicy turkey sausage and an egg. Just ‘cuz. And they’re so filling and low in WW points+ that I’m pretty sure this will remain on my meal rotation long after the Whole30.

You will be amazed at how easy it is to make these.

Start with some pumpkin.

IMG_6137
Whole ingredients!

Add some eggs.

Eggs!
Eggs!
Stir, stir, stir!
Stir, stir, stir!

Add a dash of coconut flour for thickness (Note: After re-reading the Whole30 plans, coconut flour is technically out—my bad. You can leave the flour out if you like!).

Coconut flour, perhaps?
Coconut flour, perhaps?

And add some nomtastic extracts and spices.

IMG_6141
Lots of tasty spices.

Then put them in a pan.

Into the frying pan....
Into the frying pan….

Add some blueberries if you want!

Perfect with blueberries!
Perfect with blueberries!

And flip them when they’re golden.

IMG_6147
Flip flip flip!

Et voila!

IMG_6152
Don’t you want to reach through your screen and nom on these?

Perfection in your plate!

And there you have it…easy peasy! I’ve now made these two nights in a row, and they are just sooo good, especially with a few frozen blueberries in each one!

Okay….enough hemming and hawing. Here’s the recipe. You’re welcome.

Yesssss.
Yesssss.

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients:

• 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 tablespoon coconut flour (optional)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (optional—if you’re not doing Whole30, add maple syrup or honey for sweetness)
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• Blueberries (optional)
• Walnuts (optional)
• Coconut oil

Directions:

Mix pumpkin, eggs, and extract together until smooth. Whisk in coconut flour for thickness, spices, and baking soda.

Warm a large skillet to medium heat, until a dab of coconut oil is melted and hot. Spoon pumpkin mixture into small pancakes in pan. Cook several minutes, until pancake edges look dry and bottom side is golden. Add blueberries if you like! Carefully flip—pancakes are VERY delicate until they are cooked on both sides.

Once both sides are golden, remove from pan and enjoy.

I like to garnish these pancakes with a side of fresh blackberries and some homemade coconut butter.

This recipe will make 6—8 small yet filling pancakes. For my WW peeps, this entire recipe without garnishes, nuts, or oil will come to 4p+.

Sponsored post: Lazy Paleo? Heh. And also YES.

Sound familiar?
Sound familiar?

Last week, I started a Whole30. Most of us in the Crossfit world already know that this essentially means an entire 30 days of strict paleo. So far so good. (I’m sure I will be writing aaaall about this in the days to come….)

My fridge is now stocked with healthy paleo options, which is super fab, and I’m excited to see what this month brings me.

But I will say, eating paleo isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t good for those days when we just don’t have time to cook. It was hard enough before when I fit foods into my Weight Watchers plan (on some nights, I’m guilty of subbing dinner for low-points popcorn), but everything on Whole30 really needs to be planned out, which is great…until it isn’t.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve, if worst comes to worst. I know where to get some good salads (Juicy Burger, NO JOKE), and sometimes I think I live on sashimi (sans rice, but with steamed veg). However, my life changed when I discovered I could get that sashimi delivered to me.

It changed again when I discovered I could order it…online. The ultimate in lazy paleo. Yup. Online.

For those of you in the Albany area (like me) or the Miami area in Florida, you, too, can discover Mealeo, a really rad site that lets you order your lazy paleo (or non-paleo cheat) online. It’s seriously easy-peasy. All you have to do is type in your zip code, watch as a bunch of your favorite restaurants pop up, select items from their menu, pay (and even tip!) online, and then obsessively refresh the page to watch as the restaurant receives and processes the order.

But the ultimate best part is that it’s not just about ordering yummo lazy food (my favorite meal—Sashimi Deluxe from Shogun Sushi) or supporting a local business (owned by a fellow Crossfitter, no less), but it’s also about helping your community. For every single order you place through Mealeo.com, they will give a meal to your local food bank.

And, from January 28 through February 4, use promotion code GETFITDK on your order, and Mealeo will QUADRUPLE their donation, giving FOUR meals for every order using the code.

That means, every time you order through February 4, using that promo code, your order will feed four other people who are hungry locally. How rad is that?

Have no food and don’t feel like braving the subzero weather? Try Mealeo…you have no reason not to, if you were gonna order delivery anyway (and let’s be honest…you probably were gonna order delivery anyway…).

This one time I made Bacon Toffee; or, This week I gained 3.4 pounds

What kind of baconry is this?!
What kind of baconry is this?!

You guys ready for some massive oversharing? You ready to read your face off? Because this one’s a doozy.

Where do I begin?

So, last week, I reaped major benefits from my new nutrition regime. Recently, I’ve been doing carb-cycling lite. Essentially, that means that I switch high-/moderate-carb days with low-carb days. Every other day is like that. And it works really, really well, but it takes a lot of discipline. The idea is similar to the idea of Crossfit—maximize your benefits by confusing the crap out of your body. Doing this not only kicked me out of a plateau, but it also got me losing at a really satisfying pace.

Anyway, so last Thursday, I go to weigh-in, and I had once again dropped a satisfying amount, bringing me that much closer to my immediate goal. (Here’s where the oversharing comes in: Last week, I got within 2 pounds of being under 200 pounds for the first time in my adult life. Yup, now you know how much I weigh, and if you are sitting there judging me because of that number, go f yourself.) And because I had lost consistently over the last few weeks, my Daily Points Target (i.e., the number of Points I’m allowed to eat each day) lowered by one. Not a huge deal, but enough to notice.

Simultaneously, after three weeks of carb-cycling, I’m supposed to take what is called a “Slingshot” week, during which I eat high/moderate carbs every day, confusing my body further, before getting back on the alternating high- and low-carb days again. This was just perfect because Labor Day weekend was coming up, and I had a lot of fun things planned. (Do you see where this is going?)

I had already planned out my weekend. Sunday would be my cheat day, since I was going to Bacon Fest, and I was 100 percent ready and willing to eat my face off in the name of Pork Belly.

What I hadn’t considered was everything before and after Bacon Fest.

Immediately after weigh-in, knowing that it was a week full of carbs, I decided to kick it off the way any carb-loving lady would: with popcorn and ice cream (duh). The next day, I grabbed lunch with a friend; we had originally planned to go to New World, which I had pretracked a delicious, delicious salad, but the restaurant ended up being closed for lunch. Instead, she took me to the Fountain so she could get a burger. I’m generally pretty good about finding healthy things on menus, but for the life of me…there were NO vegetables on the menu at all! Not to mention the fact that I was hangry, hangry, hangry. So what do I do? Order a pizza, OBVIOUSLY! And then, what? Eat how much? I had a hard time stopping myself at about six pieces. Smallish pieces, but still. Really?!

Then there was Bacon Fest. And granted, as many of us in the area know already, Bacon Fest was pretty much a bust. It would have been a stupendous event, but vendors ran out of bacon by around noon, so I really honestly didn’t eat much there. And I was hanging out with friends, so later on, OF COURSE I’m going to share an appetizer of bone marrow, followed by some tasty, tasty jerk chicken, wine, and then beers around a fire pit. OBVIOUSLY.

And theeeen…and YES, there is ANOTHER then…there was the Labor Day barbecue. Which would have been fine, but…

…I had to bring something, right?…

…and my friend was already bringing a salad, so…

…I had bacon on my mind since I missed out on Bacon Fest…

…and I kinda-sorta…

…decided that making BACON TOFFEE would be a good idea………………………………………..

Yeah.

The recipe for those with strong wills is at the end of this post, but I pretty much immediately regretted this decision as soon as I tasted it.

Because, you see, it’s not a joke when people talk about how the combination of fat and sugar releases the same chemicals as crack in your brain. It’s…addicting.

Now granted, I’m not blaming my poor decision-making skills on some g-d kitchen wizardry or sugar and fat. But it would be a convenient scapegoat.

As soon as I tasted my concoction, I knew I had created a new trigger food. Because I couldn’t get enough of it. And I brought it to the barbecue, and nobody else could get enough of it, either. But unfortunately, there weren’t enough people AT the barbecue to make it immediately disappear. So what happens? I eat more of it, OF COURSE. I eat more of that, and I eat some ribs, and I eat some spider dogs (long story). Oh, and I also eat the salad and my sparkling water (‘cuz I am watching my waistline, after all). And overall, I have a fun time.

Well…next morning is Tuesday, and that’s when I decide it might be a good time to check myself. I hop on the scale, and I almost pass the f out at what I see. I told my leader/friend Jennifer that I had gained five pounds, but in actuality it was 5.8—I was just choosing to round down. She tells me it’s probably mostly salt, and I need to sweat and drink water. Check. I go and work out (and by the by, I never skipped a workout this entire cheat week), followed by walking a 5k (admittedly, stopping halfway for coffee…), and hope for the best. I eat super-duper clean the next two days, and I had definitively decided that I would go to my meeting, but skip weigh-in (OBVIOUSLY).

Then what happens? I wake up on Thursday, and decide to, as my dear bestie Jim would say, nut up, and just weigh in anyway. The bad news was, I gained weight. The good news was, it wasn’t as bad as my check-in on Tuesday morning. This time, the scale indicated I was up by 3.4 pounds. Slingshot week seemed to only slingshot me further away from my little goal, now putting me 5.4 pounds away from it. But I got the sticker, put it on my little weight tracker (yes, I have one), and had my Daily Points Target increased back to what it was the previous week. It was like a punch to my gut.

But I was thinking about it, and this extends far beyond CHEAT WEEK OF DOOOOOOOM, and it extends beyond the pattern of me being pissy every time my Daily Points Target is decreased (historically, every time it is decreased, the next week I gain weight, almost in defiance of the new number, like I’m not ready for it or something, and it’s almost always brought back up for another week or two). And it goes beyond me being irritated that I’m now below 85# net loss (marginally, but still).

This week’s meeting theme was “Believe.” And you know what? I’m not sure where it came from, but I started dropping truth bombs on that meeting, and I almost made myself and Jennifer cry (not because I was bitching anyone out, but because of what I had to say, I guess):

Here’s the thing…I believe I can lose this weight because I’ve already lost a lot. Yeah, that’s not necessarily indicative of the future, but it’s definitely indicative of what I’m capable of, and the fight I have inside of me. So it’s gotta be something else.

Several years ago, I saw a therapist for a few sessions. One of the things we talked about was how I was unhappy being fat, and how I didn’t know the first place to even start because I had so much to lose. We talked for a while about how I should just say no to office treats (this therapist proved to be not very helpful…), but she did ask me one question that’s sort of stuck with me throughout these years: Are you afraid to lose weight?

At the time, I thought to myself, What a seriously stupid and insensitive question. But if it was a stupid question, I wouldn’t still be thinking about it.

My weight, for me, has been used as a shield; it’s always been easiest for me to blame things on my fat.

I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m fat, and all guys like skinny girls. (Or, XXX guy doesn’t like me because I’m fat.)

I don’t like going shopping with friends because none of the clothes fit me, and I don’t want them to go into Lane Bryant with me.

Etc., etc., etc.

Right now, I’m getting to a point where I can’t really blame my fat for the shit that happens in my life. It’s forcing me to deal with things directly, instead of tragically triaging things. It’s requiring me to put on a brave face and pretend to be normal.

And you know what?

I’m fucking scared.

There, I said it.

At the beginning of this post, I said that I’m almost below 200 pounds. Well. Imagine if you had been fat your entire life. The kind of fat where, in grade school, the school uniforms wouldn’t fit me, so I had to get special permission from the principal to shop at a store with similar styles that would fit properly. The kind of fat where you’re given Disney or Nickelodeon workout videos as a kid. The kind of fat where, even at 12 years old, you didn’t want to wear a swimming suit because of the way you thought you looked in it. And the kind of fat where you’ve been over 200 pounds—a lot over 200 pounds—your entire adult life.

I want to put Brave Face on, but let’s be real: I’m scared to be under 200 pounds. I BELIEVE I can get there, but I’m scared to, because I have absolutely NO idea what’s to come after that.

A few years ago, I’d tell people, “Oh yeah, I need to lose weight, but I wouldn’t want to lose THAT much…I think I’d look healthiest as a size 16—12 minimum.”

Well…I’m not a 16 any more, and I’m fitting into 12’s easy peasy. And it’s not good enough.

I’m scared because I have no idea what I’m going to look like and how I’m going to change. I’m only now beginning to know who I am without the extra 85 pounds. Who will I be once I lose another 40? How will I deal with rejection? How will I deal with attention?

And that’s what I dropped on my meeting. I don’t know WHY I said all that stuff, because certainly most of the people there must have been freaked out by my TMI, but it felt right. And it felt good to sort of get it out. It was really emotional, and almost freeing in a way. However, this is still stuff I’m going to have to deal with.

I don’t have a warm-fluffy ending to this blog post, but my point is, I’m scared, and I’m allowed to be scared. What I’m not allowed to do, however, is to sabotage myself, consciously or unconsciously. So I guess that means no more Bacon Toffee….

Bacon Toffee (not for the slight of character)

Ingredients:

• 1 pound (or more) of bacon
• 2 cups butter
• 2 cups white sugar
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 2 cups chocolate chips (or, you know, an entire bag)

Directions:

Cook bacon until it’s crisp. Depending on how bacony you want this toffee, you might want to cook a pound and a half or two pounds. Once it’s cooked and drained, cut or break up into small pieces. Spread pieces of bacon out over a cookie sheet that’s covered in waxed paper.

Next, in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.

As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet, covering the delicious and crisp bacon. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.

Place the cookie sheet and toffee in the fridge to set. This might take about 45 minutes to harden. Once it’s hardened, break into pieces, and try to control yourself.

For WW people, don’t even go here. It has a lot of points. Even if you make 32 servings.