It Begins with Me

Posts tagged ‘survival’

Sustaining Progress

weight-loss-2036969_960_720

I’ve been on my new diet now for five months. I have gone from 330 pounds to 277 in that time frame. I still suffer from reactions and hunger, tiredness and overall crankiness, but overall I feel better than I have in a long time.

My jeans are loose but still fit.

I am hungry often but nothing looks or tastes all that good. I tend to push eating out of my head and often go all day without eating more than an apple or some corn chips with a Naked juice.

My end goal was not to lose weight, but to feel better – less bloated, less painful, and less nauseous.

The moment I stray from my diet, I suffer from all three.

I drink a lot of peppermint tea.

I am tired a lot. My pain levels are higher than I would like but diet has little to no effect on that as long as I stay away from Nightshades.

When I eat regularly, I stop losing weight almost immediately. I gained 2 pounds when I had Lactaid ice cream or snacks like sweet potato chips. Cheating is apparently not allowed. I also bloated up and felt generally icky the next day – signs that I should not veer off track. sigh.

I have been struggling with depression and anxiety in high levels for the last few weeks. I have had a headache during that time above and beyond my daily level. I am having a hard time dealing with the constant pain and bleh that goes with all of this, and I miss my comfort foods.

I don’t miss them enough to go back, however. It just sucks.

I stopped seeing my shrink around the time of my last entry, which likely isn’t a coincidence. My depression, anxiety, and mood swings returned almost immediately but my insurance will not cover it and there’s nothing to be done about that. I will not put my family into debt or take away food from the budget so that I can find some stranger to talk to about crap in my life that will never change.

Pragmatism.

Summer is upon us and I will be spending a great deal of time and energy getting my house clean, fixed up, and in better shape than it is currently. My children and I will be doing that adventure together. I am putting my weekend job on hold for now so I can focus on the weekends on all the things that need to be done.

I plan to write here more as I progress, and show pictures and write about all the things happening – good and bad. I look forward to that.

My blood pressure is normal.

My cholesterol is fine.

My blood sugar levels have been constant and within acceptable ranges.

I need a mammogram and other tests for my age.

Oh, and I turn 50 tomorrow. Meh.

More later as I find it… stay tuned.

Jaz

Shopping for Six Plus

200281703-001

We have four growing boys, 8 cats, and 2 dogs as well as 2 adults in our house. My husband and I strive weekly to fill the larder and keep everyone happy, healthy, and well fed. It’s a goal and we do a pretty good job.

First, I should say I never wanted 8 cats because I know you went O.O at that. So do I – daily. However, I used to rescue cats and nearly always had nearly a dozen in and out between cleaning them up, getting them healthy and friendly, and finding them homes. I learned early that cleaning house often, having plenty of kitty pans, and keeping those pans cleaned every few days was the key to a non-smelly house. However, this batch was not my idea and the boys and their father tend the cats, their feeding, and the litter chores. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. Well, 1 monkey likes me. The rest? Meh.

We spend roughly $500/week on food and supplies for the house, which keeps us in kitty litter, pet food, boy food, snacks, and balanced meals.

In the process of balancing this large active family, I have learned how to make lists. Not only that, I have learned how to actually use them. This is probably the more important talent, to be honest.

First, my free plug of the day.

One of the best tools I have ever stumbled upon is a shopping app for my phone. It’s shareable with my spouse’s phone (and anyone else really), updates when either of us makes changes (on all phones and devices hooked to the service), and allows me to make detailed shopping lists so that all that I need is done in one very carefully orchestrated and organized shopping trip (on Fridays).

What tool is that? https://www.ourgroceries.com/

I love this app. I highly recommend it for any busy family. Also, it is free or it’s available for very little. It’s worth the pittance it costs and pays for itself quickly in saved gas from extra trips and frustration of not having your needs in an easily made and easily managed place.

In order to fully manage a large family and a strict budget, I make meal plans. Our menu is set out for the week and items are purchased for that plan. Here is an example:

Dinner Menu:

  • baked chicken, butternut squash, mixed vegetables
  • baked pork roast, baked potato, baked carrots
  • beef chili with biscuits and potato wedges
  • beef meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables
  • brats-n-kraut, mixed vegetables
  • noodle bake with vegetables inside
  • tacos, baby carrots

Lunch Menu:

  • school boys (3): shaved ham, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and a loaf of bread with baked beans,  pineapple tidbits, and canned carrots/peas
  • school boys (3): hard salami slices, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and a loaf of bread with baked beans, pineapple tidbits, and raw baby carrots
  • school boys (3): shaved turkey, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and a loaf of bread with baked beans, pineapple tidbits, and baby cucumbers
  • school boys (3): (x2) summer sausage, chucks of sharp cheddar cheese, corn chips, baby carrots with dip, and apple pieces
  • home lunch: sausage patty with tater tots, a slice of cheese, green beans, and apple pieces
  • home lunch: beef patty with tater tots, baby carrots (wheels), sliced cheese, and orange pieces
  • weekend lunch: leftovers

Desserts:

  • pineapple upside-down cake
  • cookies
  • fruit crisp

Snacks:

  • meat sticks
  • cheese (string) sticks
  • pepperoni
  • leftovers
  • can of vegetable choice
  • baked beans
  • sweet potato chips (make yourself)
  • potato fries (make yourself)
  • tortilla and cheese (or peanut butter honey)
  • apple
  • orange
  • banana
  • baby carrots and dip
  • salad

The boys are allowed to make some simple snacks as long as they clean up afterward. Both the 14 and the 12 year old are capable of it, although the kitchen is usually a mess afterward. Sigh. The 6 year old isn’t allowed to do more than watch and help as he learns. The 22 year old is handicapped and in a wheel chair with the mind of a 1 year old child, so he has to have everything prepped for him to eat.

The boys have learned over their lifetime that you do not eat anything out of the ordinary or off the list without asking first. Nothing makes Mama angrier than going to make dinner and find the locusts have consumed something she needed as an ingredient. I am pleased to say it doesn’t happen very often.

Because of my dietary restrictions, I cook my own meals separately from the boys’ meals. This means that the boys ALSO ask when they find something that looks yummy, because if they eat MY food it will mean no tech and an unhappy Mama. I am not pleasant when hungry.

Our grocery list consists of ingredients, some snack foods that I deem acceptable, some easy prep foods for the boys to snack on, and pet supplies. I strive to buy foods for my boys without high sugar, simple starches, red40, or corn syrups. I avoid Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in all its forms, gluten in all its forms, “low fat” items (high in sugar), food coloring, and fake things such as artificial sugar, artificial or synthetic fats, sugars, and materials, margarine and hot dogs. Gluten free is more expensive, so our grocery bill is roughly $125 more a week than the average family of 6 shopping in this manner.

I allow them three “bad” things weekly: one candy (for each boy) of their choice from the .99 aisle, ice cream that is as close to natural as I can get (Breyers, one container), and the meat sticks that I had to search to find so that they were not as horrible as they might have been. They are also allowed one soda every now and then.

I strive to stay between $400-500 a week for all our supplies and groceries. The more ground meat we use, the lower the cost for the week – but the boys get tired of it and there’s only so much you can do with ground meat. I enjoy a variety and so do they, so it’s worth a bit more now and then.

I will be continuing along this vein for a while, to show how we function day to day in our healthy diet and lifestyle goals.

Jaz

good_food_display_-_nci_visuals_online

Exchange and Change

Exchange. It means: “An act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return.” (Google).  We are told that by taking one part of ourselves, and giving it up to do something similar, we’re being a grown up. After nearly 50 years in this life, I am ready to say with a fair amount of certainty that this practice is completely worthless and harmful and needs to stop.

When I was a child, my mother once said, “Everyone wants to be original, unique, and special. But, if everyone is special, no one is. Some people are just better than others.” I remember that clearly, mostly because my grandmother snorted and said, “The only people that say that want to be special.” This palpable rage hovered between them for a moment and then slithered away. It made an impression.

114192-just-be-yourself

I spent most of my life pretending that who I was inside did not exist. It did irreparable damage to my body and mind, exerting stress where unnecessary and creating a sense of despair about my own personal truths. I struggled with depression and rage most of my life, so much so that I fought off my own suicide a great deal of the time I was growing up. My brother had these same struggles, ending in his death at a young age – which left our family in ruins.

All of this can be traced back to being able to be true to yourself. Life is hard. Struggle is real. None of this changes when you are true to yourself BUT the stress of being what you are not fades away, and there’s a peace and acceptance that makes the rest of things life throws at you a lot less stressful.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m proud to say that I did learn it.

I spent the first 30 years of my life trying to “fit in” and the next 20 years struggling “be myself” with varying degrees of success. Labels, while most of us agree can be limiting, also give freedom when applied correctly. Sometimes, having a label helps you feel that who and what you are, how you are, is less odd and more “I’m not alone after all” and that in itself can be freeing.

No one wants to be alone in the dark as some weird aberration that has no place and no name. It’s dehumanizing all on its own.

I truly believe we are all individuals. No one is like anyone else, not really. We are unique in our own existence BUT we are also similar to others who struggle like we struggle, who see what we see, who feel what we feel, and as intense as we experience it. No one is ever truly alone. Mathematically, there is at least a few folks out there like you in every way and to me, that’s comforting. Go math.

We are all special. We are all unique but we are also the same. We are the human race. We are male. We are female. There’s a group of red-heads over there. There’s a group of blue eyed people. Over there are people who survived child abuse. In that other group are people who struggle with mental illness. The list goes on. We are unique but we are not alone.

image

So how does this effect change?

Exchanging ourselves, and parts of who we are to find what fits better and helps us fit in, is not the way to do it. Instead, we should simply be, and then seek out those that we feel comfortable with. It’s one thing to be surrounded by people just like you, but it’s a whole different concept when it becomes homogeneous (everyone is exactly alike). If you were unlucky enough to be born into a group where you are so different you stand out constantly, this lack of blending can leave lasting scars. It can also effect massive change.

How?

If you were the first black person in your area, or the first Hispanic, or the first gay person, it can be dangerous for you but it can also be a uniquely challenging situation both for you to learn how to communicate effectively so that you can live in cohabitation in the same region they do, and for them to challenge themselves and learn how to live in cohabitation with someone so specifically different from them. You can teach each other – it’s all about how it is approached and handled.

If we all simply agree to disagree when things get heated, and struggle to see the other person as human (or a person worthy of equality), we will have less stress overall when learning to accept each other. We have to rise above religion, capitalism, concepts of gender, and concepts of race to see each other against the overreaching backdrop of reality.

A janitor and a lawyer are both doing an essential job. Payscale should be set on a wide range of difficulty matrices coupled with concepts of education, labor intensity, learning curves, and long-term ability. This idea that someone cleaning floors has a higher acceptability of poverty is completely wrong. Someone has to sweep and clean windows and pick up the trash. Why are they subject to such expectations of poverty and some kind of undeserving process to keep them poor and wanting?

I am 100% okay with a stockbroker making millions as long as the janitor picking up his trash and dusting his office makes enough to pay rent and live decently. That stockbroker has no more worth than the janitor. They are both human. They both have needs that must be met to survive. Why do we automatically feel justified giving the stockbroker millions and fuss at paying the janitor $15.00 per hour?


FYI: $15/hour = $30k/year before taxes and about $25k after. A cheap apartment runs about $900/mo or roughly $10-12k per year, so that’s already half their pay right off the top. $15/hour isn’t great and it really should be higher but we have to start somewhere.


The most common argument I hear about paying minimum wages of $15/hour is that current hard-working jobs are roughly at that level. They squawk that someone struggling to work in a manual labor job or flipping burgers is less deserving a “living wage” than they are, since they work harder, longer hours, or had to have a degree to get that job.

First of all, that’s incredibly short sighted and selfish, so let’s get that out there right now. You are not better than anyone else and no one deserves to live in poverty… and frankly if you think that we’re not going to agree at any part of this conversation so we’ll just stop there.

Secondly, we know from history and historical context that wages move up as the minimum wage moves up. It has happened every time wages have gone up. And the earth didn’t fall from orbit, the moon didn’t crash, the end of the world didn’t happen and we were all better off for it. Prices didn’t increase dramatically and even returned to it’s baseline after some adjustment time passed. The minimum wage isn’t responsible for cost of living increases and it will do nothing to our economy other than stimulate the discretionary income of MILLIONS of people who otherwise are living in abject poverty.

FYI: The majority of those working at or below minimum wages are: single parents, children/teens, elderly “retired” persons struggling to make ends meet, immigrants, migrant workers, and college age kids, and young adults with massive debt. NONE of these people would be hurt and all of them would be helped by the baseline wage going up.

Also, it bears to mention that raising the minimum wage would raise the wages for EVERYONE and thus create a HUGE wash of discretionary income to a large bulk of the American people as a whole. While an article in Forbes claimed the opposite, simple math debunked what they were claiming. No one deserves to be poor. No one deserves to work a full time job and still be unable to provide healthy food and a safe living condition. If you think they do, the issue is your morals, not economics.

It should be mentioned that Forbes also supports lower taxes for business and the “trickle down economics” that ruined our country in the first place. The rich want the poor to stay poor – it’s always better for business when you have a large bunk of slaves to do your work cheaply so you can make more money.

And that is why Capitalism is under siege, just like Communism was/is. They are two extremes that refuse to find middle ground for their suffering working poor. Something has to give. No one “deserves” to live in luxury while their workers starve. That mentality is why heads literally rolled in France and that time is coming again. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired while the “owners” and kings eat and live the very best on the bones and hard work of the suffering poor.

This all has a point, I promise.

Personal change comes at a price. Who we are inside must live, but it should not live at the expense of others. Happiness comes when you strive for it, choose to find it, and choose to live for it. Success isn’t about money, it’s about happiness and contentment. Being true to yourself is absolute, but it should never be gained by hurting others. The same can be said for riches, or any other “thing” we strive for. And that is where humanity has stumbled.

2014-07-14-feelwhole

You cannot be happy if the people around you are miserable. If you reach riches through the suffering of others, there will be a cost much higher than you can truly pay. Enjoy your financial success, but remember to give back.

The same can be said for being yourself. Yes, we should all strive to be ourselves but not at the expense of others. If you are a jerk, and you’re happy being a jerk, then you must be prepared for others to react when you are a jerk. To whine that you are only being true to yourself doesn’t work, because you gained this contentment with yourself through the suffering of others.

It’s a pretty deep and involved concept, once you start delving into it.

I would love to be a full time artist and writer. That’s what I am, deep inside. However, I have to have a job. I have kids to support, a husband to work together with. We are a partnership, he and I. If I quit my job and become an artist, who puts food on the table? My own choices to support my “truth” will take my family apart. That isn’t okay, and it should never be encouraged.

It goes to also say that WHO you are, is not about your job, or your material worth, or what you DO or say. It’s a lot more complicated than that. WHO you are is HOW you respond to challenges. WHO do you hurt? HOW do you handle disappointment and depression? Do you lash out? Do you withdraw? Neither are acceptable. If you are a fat woman, where does the line sit between enabling an unhealthy lifestyle and loving yourself for who you are? It sits smack dab in the middle, between not hurting others and not destroying yourself.

Nothing worth striving for is easy.

I will not exchange who I am to fit in, but I will also not destroy, damage, abandon, or neglect my responsibilities, my children, my friends and family, and the who of who I am. It’s a delicate balance that I am not always perfect at, but strive to be.

Like everything in life it’s about balance.

Balance is hard.

Jaz1ab34632280b19c9a265d7551e65c6a4

Mythbusting Minimum Wages

Pink – Perfect (VEVO)

Perfect (Pink) Lyrics

 

Death by Intent

giant-cup-of-tea

Corporate America is killing you as sure as you sit reading this. They do it and they don’t care. All that matters to these individuals is making money and getting richer. Your life, who dies, who lives, how much someone suffers, all do not make it into the consideration room. Policies and actions slated to be implemented are all kicked into motion without one real thought to who will suffer, how much, or how often. The only part they consider is: can we be sued if someone figures it out, how much money will we lose when they do, and how much money will we make until them.

Lines on a graph for profit and loss. You aren’t even in the equation.

This callous disregard is not new and in fact, its probably more cautious now than it was say, 200 years ago. Litigation has made them wary and it has made them clever. They make choices based on collateral damage and plausible deniability. You are a speck on a graph. It’s important not only to understand that fact, but to understand that to the powerful elite, the little guy has never mattered and that isn’t likely to change in the near future.

That said, you have a lot more power now than you did even 100 years ago. The mob-mind can and does make choices that will effect the bottom line, so the fact that they even weigh the cost says a great deal about how things have improved for the common man. So, while it is disheartening to face that you don’t really matter to them, you can take heart that on some level, your power to retaliate against their profits does matter to them and choices are made with that in mind. It’s a start.

The biggest way to gain control over corporations is, logically, to stop giving them your money. Well, I hate to break it to you but that’s simply not going to happen. Everything we use, buy, sell, and covet is owned by a very small group of people in this world. Choice is an illusion and through advertising and flat out deception, we have all been played.

Take a look:

who owns everything

These companies are in cahoots with each other. So in the end, you can’t really outsmart them save living off the grid and growing everything, making everything from your food to your soap and your clothes yourself. Who has time for that? Not me. So in order to gain some control over yourself and your buying choices, for your own health and benefit, what can you do? You can, for starters, stop buying processed food. Learn to cook and make your own food. It’s a huge step forward for your personal and family health and welfare. And, even better, it’s within your grasp as a way to take back some control of your life from the giant mega-corps that run our country.

One of the ways you can win is doing your research, and giving your money to local people instead of chain stores. Buy pet food from small companies that are privately owned. Buy your food from stores that are employee owned or owned by local business people. Buy online from small businesses. It’s a process and it’s largely hit or miss, but it’s a place to begin.

Another way to outsmart the corporations is to stop buying processed food. Stop buying prepackaged food. Buy from a meat locker or local grocery store (not a chain) that supplies fresh meat. Learn to cook food yourself. It’s not hard and once you are used to it, you’ll never think processed food tastes better than your own.

So how do we navigate the grocery store to find food that is good for us, without going broke? Processed food is prepackaged and portioned, low priced and easy to get. Perfect right? Well, just like the old adage, “nothing good is free” and “nothing is ever free,” comes the “nothing worth doing comes easy.” The very fact that it’s easy, pre-packaged, and cheap should tell you something – they had to cut corners to do all those things and you will pay the price in the long run.

It’s also important to buy only what you need, to avoid wasting the food you bought. Part of the reason that the myth of good, green food being more expensive is that people buy too much at once. If you only buy your fresh food for recipes, and limit snack foods and extra items you won’t use in a recipe, not only are you going to contribute to your overall health by limiting fatty/sweet snacks, but you also limit your waste.

The best way to do this is to find a recipe site you like. Most sites offer the option of changing the servings, so you can shift the amounts to only what you need. I use “AllRecipes” and there’s not really a reason, other than I feel their site works better for me. My name there is “Jazybee” and you can drop by and take a peek at some of my favorites should you be inclined.

Due to my dietary restrictions, I have to “fix” any recipe I find, but I’m an accomplished enough cook that substitutions are not difficult for me and usually end well (not always!) and if not, I learn and try again. For instance, I tried to make cheesy broccoli soup with coconut milk and it was a total fail. I couldn’t even eat it. But live and learn, a little research and I’ll try again. Cooking is like that.

Processed food are full of sugar and cheap, unhealthy oils. Now that we know that it isn’t the fat that’s necessarily bad, but the sugar too, and that sugar can cause the body to overreact or underreact to the fat and other ingredients we consume, we can make proper choices and limit what isn’t good. This is wholly in our control. Shifting away from refined sugars and sticking to “healthier” fats, we can change our consumption and get healthier.

Your health is your choice. My gram always said that, and she’s right. It was easy to blame a lot of factors but in the end, your health is your choice. I can’t fix that I have Celiac’s and I can’t fix that my immune system is likely permanently out of whack but I can fix the rest of it. I can choose what I put in my mouth. I can choose what I buy and from whom and how often. I have choices and while they may be, in reality, limited, I still have choices and I will make them as much, and as often, as I can.

One of the most difficult battles I faced was giving up sugar. I also shifted my family away from refined sugar to “raw” sugar. Eventually we’ll make a full shift away from “white” sugar entirely, but I don’t want to give them too big of a shock. Baby steps and all that. :) We are cooking with less and less sugar and consuming less and less sugar on a daily basis. We switched to lard, coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee. We limit our fried foods to once a week. We upped their raw fruit and raw vegetable intake. We increased their overall vegetable intake. We increased their water intake. All in all, the transfer has been fairly smooth and I doubt they even really noticed.

While our change in diet wasn’t initiated or encouraged by desiring weight loss, it has been an unintended consequence. Every member of my family has lost weight, on a healthy level, since our switch away from sugar. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I am seeing them snack less and make healthier choices. They still eat with gusto and everything on their plates. I am confident that as we gradually shift away from less healthy options, they will learn to eat well and healthy and never miss a beat.

Until later.

Jaz

Sugar is the Problem

Fake Sugar Isn’t Better

Truth About Sugar

Why Processed Food is Bad

Timeline of Processed Foods

 

Being Me: This is how it Starts

IMG_4537_sm

I took the picture you see, with all the multicolored string. It’s a self portrait of sorts, stemming from a class I took at Iowa State during my time striving for my Bachelor degree in Design.

If I could be anything I wanted, I’d be an art photographer and a writer.

I turn 50 this year and it feels a bit surreal. I don’t feel 50. Does anyone feel 50? I don’t look 50 and I suppose that’s a good thing. When I was young, I was told I had an “old soul” and a wise mind. I never felt old or wise. I still don’t. I keep wondering when that will kick in.

I have four children, one through adoption and 3 from my body. My oldest was adopted in a previous relationship which ended badly and he wanted nothing to do with our son afterward. He has special needs and requires round-the-clock care. When J came into my life as more than a friend, he accepted my oldest as his and became in every way his father. That was part of what drew me to him, to be honest – I saw in him the most amazing ability to be a dad. And he certainly is.

He gave me three children who are now 14, 12, and 6. My oldest is 22 and will be 23 by year’s end. It truly is strange how time passes quick yet slow, and then you blink and it’s 20 years past. I can remember their first steps, their first laugh, their first true tears. I remember it all and watching them grow up has been both a joy and a terrible pain. As I understand it, that is simply how parenthood goes.

I have been many things in my life. I have done just about every kind of job imaginable in the service industry, spanning food service to administration. I have driven trucks and buses. I have run businesses and I have worked for others. I have handed out tools and I have processed pigs into meat. I am a jack of all trades.

I used to think that was an insult when I was young. Now, it feels like a badge of honor. There’s not much I can’t do or learn to do. I am not afraid of challenges. I have lived without running water and I have left signs of civilization behind to camp and hunt. I was taught to take care of myself: I can hunt, sew, clean, cook, and gather. I know how to make soap and I know how to chop wood. I love technology but can walk away from it and just be. I love to drink and I love to be sober. I have always been of at least two minds about everything. I like myself.

I set out as a young adult to be myself. I had no idea what that meant. In the last 30 years of tears, struggles, and triumphs, and quite a few disastrous failures, I have learned who I am and I have proven to myself that I am stronger, and weaker, than I could ever imagine. I am not going to live forever, despite my young assurances to the contrary. I am flawed. I am imperfect. I am a pain in the ass, but I am me.

I am coming to the realization that if I want to change things, I’m going to have to get out there and do it. It’s a terrifying thought that my opinions and what I am driven to say and do could get me killed, but it’s worse to think my children would be harmed. I’ve been living carefully since they were born, walking that fine line between being involved and being too involved. I need to raise my children.

The other night, one of my sons – the 12 year old – said he was surprised I didn’t attend the women’s march in DC. I told him I wanted to, but it wasn’t something that I could realistically do. He asked me why. I said, we can’t afford it and I can’t leave you guys alone that long – what would your father do? He gave me an odd look and said, “Pretty sure we’d be fine. We do fine in the summer when you travel. Maybe you just don’t really want to go and we’re an easy excuse.”

It gave me pause. Was he right? I suppose on some level, perhaps. I realized that I am sending a message by my inaction and I’m not sure it’s one that I want my children to learn. I suppose I will just have to jump in, and land where I can. I worry that my choices will hurt my children, either from action or inaction. I worry constantly if I am putting them first and being a good mother. I worry often that I put too much on my plate and then fall short of my goals, which puts a strain on our finances and on my husband. He never complains however, and has never fallen short in his support of me, my dreams, goals, and plans.

I’m slowly inching toward the idea of striving for human rights and change within the government, running for office and seeking to get face to face with the people that I have spent half my life angry at. I have no money and I am not a professional anything – can I run for office and do any good whatsoever? These are the questions that plague my mind late at night.

In the end, I suspect I will simply be laying the groundwork for my children to strive forward into the fight. There is pride in knowing I am raising good, decent, strong men for the next generation. I teach them patience and compassion. I enforce the idea that they are people and I don’t have a right to destroy their ability to choose, whether or not I agree with them. I feel strongly that these young men I am raising will one day rattle the status quo and challenge the world.

For now, that’s where I am and where I start my fight. We shall see where it goes from here.

Jaz

 

Body Positive

635940510331217027-914862864_tumblr_mltz1ost6u1rbf2mto1_500

My last entry spoke on the idea that we are what we eat… in that what we consume directly effects our health, our mental stability, and our place in the world. I recently embarked on the Auto-Immune-Protocol diet (hereby known as AIP) in a last ditch attempt to get my gut issues under control. The gluten-free diet did little to alter the path – although I did feel better – and I was determined to figure out what is causing me so much discomfort and suffering.

The truth is a little harder to digest than gluten for me, in that stress is as much a contributor as gluten and other reactive aspects. However, my overall issues aside, in truth what is happening to me is happening to millions of Americans every day.

We are dying from processed foods, lack of nutritive daily intake, and stress, not to mention lack of sleep, dehydration, and substance abuses.

Fixing this issue is the real challenge, but before we delve into that maze, let’s take a quick look at the body positive movement.

On its face, it’s a good thing. Love who you are and the body you have. Through acceptance, you are then able to address the issues better as to why you are overweight, or sad, or angry, or depressed… or in some cases – all four. However, that is not what I am seeing from the body positive moment. Rather than being indicative of seeking answers and change for the better, it embraces the ideal of doing nothing other than loving yourself and while not poison, it certainly can lead down some very dark and self-destructive roads.

I will be the first to admit that I do not love myself in all my fat glory. However, I do not hate myself anymore either. I accept that a great deal of my overweight-ness and this fat on my body comes from a great deal of areas beyond my control. I have been eating for comfort, and eating to self-medicate, and eating because I was just so damn hungry for all the wrong things, that I ended up over 100 pounds overweight. ALL of those issues are within my control to affect a change, should I be driven to do so but, and this is the important factor, I really was not motivated to seek out those things simply based on the reality that I did not relish nor seek out the discomfort that would come from changing my life the way it needed to change.

That was a mouthful, wasn’t it? But it is nonetheless truth. And I’m not alone in wanting to avoid that truth. MOST people who are sick and suffering due to diet and genetics are in the exact.same.boat. as I am. Change is scary.

Loving myself and my fat self as I am is not easy, but neither is accepting that my poor choices and poor habits got me here and the only way to stop is to stop doing it. I’m a big fan of reality and truth. Neither, in this situation, is pretty but still necessary to gaze at with annoyance that it was right in front of me and I just didn’t want to see it.

Do I think that anyone has a right to downgrade me as a human being because I’m fat? Nope. And if you try, you’ll find the sharp edge of my tongue and temper. How someone looks, what color they are, what religion they are (or aren’t), what their opinions are, should never come before the fact we are all human and all of us have equal rights under the law. Only we don’t, which is where this influx of “body positive” has come from. We aren’t equal. I am less likely to get a job simply because I am female. I am less likely to get a job simply because I am fat. Race, creed, color, religion, sexual identity, and body appearance are still used as a judgment ratio when being considered from jobs to how you are treated as a customer. It sucks. It’s not right. But that’s how it is.

Changing this is hard and we were making progress until last year. Those advances have not only been stymied, they have taking steps backward and we only have ourselves to blame. We are more likely to listen to a sound bite or someone’s opinion instead of actual truth and science. We, as a culture, as a country, are slipping backward to the 1950’s and I’m not sure there’s anything to stop us. We are going to have to fight all these battles again.

The good news is, that the second time should technically be easier, as there are more people on our side this time than last time and the people without a voice are less timid and less likely to continue to be silent.

The bad news is, the bad people control the media and the politics, and until that changes, it’s going to be a long, nasty, even bloody battle to the top.

Now, this meandering from the point has a purpose, I promise.

In reality, we are all who we are. Body fat, bad habits, bad manners and all. Loving yourself is fine, as long as you can be honest where you fail, and seek to be the most healthy you can. You can be overweight (by medical standards) and be healthy. You can be thin, jog, and look fantastic and drop dead at 30. A great deal of what we attribute to “healthy” is arbitrary because health isn’t about anything other than the machine we call our body, and the efficiency by which it runs.

That’s it.

According to my doctor, other than my Celiac’s and my weight, I’m healthy. I have low (very low, but we’ll not quibble on that right now) blood pressure, my blood sugar stays in acceptable ranges as long as I eat responsibly, my cholesterol is healthy and balanced with the good and bad types, my heart is strong and other than a bit of a mis-beat now and then, is perfectly healthy. My hair and scalp is healthy. My feet have some edema but they always have. I have one nasty toe that never seems to get better but nothing all that abnormal over all. I am a healthy fat person.

But I’m not.

I’m sick and tired and cranky from pain most of the time. I ache all over and if not for powdered aspirin (BC Powders) I would likely rip the head off of every one around me daily. I am exhausted from the constant pain in my body, my joints, my head (headaches that never go away and I’ve had since 1990 non-stop, 24/7, 365 days a year) hurts all the time, and I have chronic insomnia. I can never seem to drink enough water, and I’ve lost interest in sex, in my hobbies other than writing, and I fight of chronic depression on a daily basis.

Some of the above is due to my Celiac’s, in that I don’t digest things I need and my body craves things I don’t because it’s confused. There’s the psyche aspect, but I do have a therapist when the mumble becomes a roar. I accept that I likely -am- depressed in a deep and chronic level but I’ve never been one to wallow and I’ll be damned if this ache in my heart ever controls me, any more than the overall body aches and head aches have controlled me so far. I’m stubborn like that.

I am taking long strides towards solving my chronic depression and my body aches and pains, as I believe they are related to what I eat and how my body processes that that which I eat. I have stopped chasing poisonous people and I have learned to enjoy my own company. I have begun to study food like I have studied anything else – with great thought and careful experimentation to see what works. I am like that too.

So, in the the vein of this post’s topic, I will say – I do not love myself but I do accept myself and I don’t hate myself, which are huge strides in the right direction for once. I have drastically changed my diet and have found that, shock and surprise, I was right about the depression and anxiety being partially about what I was eating (and not eating, which is possibly more important here). I want to look in the mirror and not be disgusted with myself. I want to like what I see and while I do not hate myself, I do see the correlation between accepting who you are and striving to make your life better, and the overall love of self that comes from these steps.

Baby Steps.

Jaz

 

676e673eee1562dd4cae2dd31920a91d

Fuel the Machine

013088034_01_xlg

There is a radical notion making its way around dietary circles that states we are affected and effected by what we eat. It’s been spinning around the airwaves for about 30 years, gaining momentum over the last 10. The whole movement got traction when auto-immune disorders became more regularly spoken of and diagnosed by the medical and pseudo-medical communities. At first, people in general scoffed at the notion that the food we eat might be the reason for a host of issues ranging from skin conditions to mood disorders – yet it persists and has become cemented into the informed person’s diatribe.

I was never all that convinced myself as a 20-something. I was immortal and was going to live forever. While I had always struggled with weight, I accepted it was my own fault and my own doing, in that I lacked the self-control to keep the bad things out of my mouth. The self-hate became part of who I was.

That began to change around 2005, as I struggled with mild petite mal seizures and a sort of sleeping-sickness that I could not explain any better than my doctors. The doctors told me nothing was wrong yet there clearly was something happening to me that even they admitted they could see and even reproduce. However, lacking any solid explanation, I went without a diagnosis for over 10 years after my first initial symptoms were identified as being problematic.

I had abnormal EEGs and an abnormal psyche profile. In their desperation to pin my issues on something, they decided to pin them on my psyche and didn’t really look into anything that might have been wrong with me physically. Even if they had, there was no tool available at that time to catch what we now know is Celiac’s disease in mainstream midwest-centered medicine.

That’s not to say that it didn’t exist. It did.

Celiac’s Disease has existed for around 2000 years – it’s not new and it’s not complicated. The gut simply cannot digest gluten and produces toxins, which the body reacts to via an auto-immune response, attacking the gut and damaging the small intestine. This reaction causes nutritional deficiencies that can be damaging in the short and long term. It’s not a fad and it’s not made up. It’s not something that can easily be fixed and there’s no cure. It effects 1 in 100 people worldwide, with most sufferers not diagnosed and open to an entire array of health issues.

1 in 100.

With 7 Billion people living on this earth currently, that means that over 70 MILLION people are suffering from this disorder currently.

7o. Million. People. Worldwide.

The United States population is roughly 318 Million people. That means that over 3 million people in the USA alone have this issue.

3. Million. People.

This isn’t made up and this isn’t exaggerated. Put 100 people in the room and 1 of them will have Celiac’s and that’s not counting the ones with simple sensitivity. That’s the ones with actual Celiac’s. Fill Michigan Stadium to capacity (107K) and you’d have roughly 1000 people with Celiac’s.

Over 80% of those in the US with Celiac’s are not diagnosed.

That’s 2.4 million people are suffering from Celiac’s and don’t even know it.

This isn’t about adaptation, per se. This isn’t about anything but genetics and that some people are BORN with this issue. You either can or can’t digest gluten. It’s as simple as that. It can be debated that some guts simply couldn’t adapt to the influx of grain or it could be argued that it is simply the way things work. We’re not cookie cutter humans and neither should our diet be created to fit just one type.

Another argument to be made is that perhaps we were never designed to consume the large amount of carbohydrate and grains that we forced our bodies to ingest due to loss of the hunter/gatherer culture and a slow progression toward farming and stationary cultures. It can also be argued that the ability to digest this overabundance of grains is the aberration, rather than the inability to do so – and those that couldn’t adapt simply died as our cultural norms swung the way of farming grains and living with less meat and vegetable consumption.

The poor were always forced to eat less. In any culture you look at, the working poor at the worst diet, and lived as cheaply and simply as possible. They lived hard lives and died young. A host of diseases afflicted the poor that the wealthier seemed immune to – largely due to their diet. This fact is glossed over for a whole litany of reasons, the least of which is the necessity of keeping the poor underfed, exhausted, and unable to fight back.

But that’s another piece for another day.

Today, we discuss how what you eat is making you sick. 3 million of you in the USA alone. That’s a lot of sick people – so let’s talk about what that means.

In children, Celiac’s looks like a lot of issues including the flu.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Decreased hearing
  • Diarrhea
  • Earache
  • Eye discomfort and redness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain or muscle pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Urinary problems
  • Vision problems
  • Wheezing

It’s important to understand as well that your doctor may diagnose your child by accident or ignorance with something other than what is wrong. How? Well, here is how and why:

When a child is under stress, their bodies respond to it just like adults. However, they lack the ability to communicate that stress effectively and act out or react, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some of these are:

  • Accident proneness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite Loss
  • Baby Talk
  • Bed-wetting
  • Biting
  • Crying Spells
  • Detachment
  • Excessive Aggressiveness
  • Excessive Laziness
  • Fingernail Biting
  • Grinding Teeth
  • Hitting
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Kicking
  • Pounding Heart
  • Respiratory Tract Illness
  • Stuttering
  • Tattling
  • Thumb sucking

Makes you think, doesn’t it? What is A.D.D or O.D.D if not half these symptoms? How many of our children are simply sick and reacting to what they are eating? That is an excellent question of which there currently is no easy answer.

Let’s move on to adults, as it’s far easier to quantify and face head on.

Adults and children both experience stress, and that can be caused by their environment, their bodies, or their mind. When the human body is under stress, it has a few set reactions that some physicians, more every year, are realizing are important when gauging what may or may not be actually going on.

Here are a few bodily clues that you are undergoing more stress than your body, mind, and psyche can handle:

  • Blood Issues / Blood Panel Oddities
  • Brain Dysfuntion / Disruption
    • Migraines
    • Seizures
  • Emotional Disturbances
    • Depression
    • Rage Issues
    • Mental / Emotional Disruption / Instability
  • Heart / Lung Issues
    • Heart Arrhythmia / Rapid Heartbeat
    • High Blood Pressure / Low Blood Pressure
  • Immuno-Reaction / Immuno-Overreaction / Immuno-Inaction
  • Insomnia / Sleeping Issues
  • Liver Issues
    • Digestion issues / Indigestion
    • Gas (intestinal or flatulence)
    • Heartburn / Reflux
    • Stomachache / Nausea / Vomiting
  • Overreaction or Reaction without Stimuli of Fight/Flight Response
    • Anxiety attacks
    • Apnea / Holding your Breath
    • Needing “fresh air”
    • Needing to Pace / Restlessness
    • Nervous habits (hair pulling, twitching, etc)
    • Panic attacks
    • Rapid Breathing / Out of breath
  • Sexual Affect / Effect
    • Infertility / Miscarriage
    • Irregular Menstrual Cycle / Missing Cycle
    • Sexual Disinterest / Sexual Dysfunction / Sexual Overstimulation

Yes, all these come from stress. Nothing more or less. This is what happens when your body is under more stress than it can handle and it’s actually a shortened list. Scary, right? So if you are not feeding yourself right, or getting enough rest, or dealing with a stressful world, stressful situations, or a stressful relationship, all these things, these symptoms, come into play. Read that list again, will you. Yes, it applies to everyone. So even if you don’t have Celiac’s or any other sickness, this is your body on stress.

Now, let’s throw in an auto-immune response to eating certain foods. Or coming into contact with a food that triggers a serious reaction such as an allergic response.

We live in the most stressful point in human history and it’s not a shock to anyone that studies these things that we are seeing an rapid and alarming uptick in auto-immune disorders, stress-related reactions, and overall declining health in a large portion of the population. Throw in physically debilitating illness such as Celiac’s or the daily stress of simply making enough money to survive, and you have the perfect storm for cancer and a host of illnesses that we see every day around us.

In the end, the crux of the argument is this: What we eat may not make or break survival long term, but combined with stress it certainly ranks in the top five ways to end up dead much too early.

So how do we fix this?

For me – I have joined the thousands across the country striving to get my gut back to health by avoiding anything that might piss it off. The list is long and the challenge of staying on the diet is the most difficult part of it. I feel better already, with more energy and less malaise. Before I started the gluten diet, I hit just about every one of the symptoms. Now, I hit about 4 or 5. I’m striving to get that number to zero.

For you – analyze your diet. If you have insurance and can afford it, seek out the necessary tests. Find out if this is what is happening to you. If you have insurance, make sure you get more than just a blood test, as the blood test is somewhat inaccurate and sometimes completely incorrect, particularly when the person is already avoiding gluten either consciously or unconsciously.

If you truly want to know for sure, a genetic test and a biopsy of your gut can be done. I recommend both. Most doctors will agree to both tests if your blood test is inconclusive or your symptoms disagree with the test results.

Over the next few weeks in will be focusing on the AIP and a gluten free life, including recipes and cooking strategies that will help you focus on your new lifestyle. Please do understand that if you do not need to be gluten free, there is zero reason to do any of this. You are far better off to simply choose one of many alternative diets (low carb, low sugar, etc.) if your sole goal is to lose weight.

Thank you for reading, and know there is more to come.

Jaz

Sources:

What is Celiac’s Disease

History of Celiac’s Disease

Science and Your Gut

Symptom Checker

Stress and Reactions (in children)

Stress on the Body (adults)

Auto-Immune-Protocol

chilliandmint.wordpress.com/

Herbs and Spices Rock My World

coffee and a blank page

a feminist writes, rants, remembers

It Begins with Me

unexpected occurrence

a life of serendipity

Stephen Hung Photography

The World through My Lens

Obama Foundation

It Begins with Me

Discover

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Make Wealth History

Because the earth can't afford our lifestyle

Ishara Shines

.:mental wanderings:.