Saturday, January 28, 2012

Skinny Girlz Eat Meat

Like many people in the U.S. and other developed countries, I’ve struggled with my weight. In high school and college, I was 20-30 pounds heavier than I am now. During those days I was desperate to lose weight, I wanted to look like the fashion models on the covers of Vogue magazine and tried every diet imaginable, from the grapefruit diet to wrapping cellophane around my waist and sitting in a sauna. Then, I simply tried not eating at all, which obviously wasn’t a good idea and ultimately didn’t work. People called me “healthy” and “big-boned”, what does that mean? I remember praying, “Please God, make me twenty pounds thinner…” Did I think I’d actually wake up a slimmer version of myself without having to give up Hostess cupcakes? Yes.

Now that I’m older (and wiser) I can have my Hostess cupcake and eat it too. Don’t hate me, but I eat what I want and weigh 106 pounds, give or take a couple. What’s my secret? There is no miracle pill or special diet. Burning up to 1000 calories an hour, I teach Zumba® Fitness classes, lift weights on occasion and walk a lot. Exercising daily allows me to indulge in an occasional (Sprinkles) cupcake or popcorn and candy at the movies. About 80% of my diet is really, really good, filled with lots of lean meat and organic vegetables. 20%, not so much. But this isn’t rocket science. Here are six simple rules: 1. Exercise at least 30 minutes daily. Do at least 45 minutes of cardio 3x/week. 2. Stay away from processed foods and anything labeled “diet”, which usually means chemically modified. If it’s in a box on a shelf it’s not really food. The closer to the hoof, the ground or the tree food is, the better. 3. (this is a tough one for me) Limit white sugar and white flour. ‘nuff said. 4. Eat organic whenever possible & stay away from Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs). More on this later. 5. Eat meat 3x per week. Meat refers to chicken as well -- and not Chicken McNuggets! (See #2). When I’m home, I eat venison every day. It’s pure, lean protein, not marbled with fat. 6. Eat Mindfully and listen to your body. My downfall (besided Sprinkles cupcakes) is eating while watching TV. I don’t realize I’ve inhaled the whole bag of chips when I’m watching Access Hollywood with Mario Lopez. My latest snack trend is a bowl of lightly salted organic popcorn with raw almonds, pumpkin seeds and chocolate covered Goji berries mixed in.

I try to eat only when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full – which really upsets my husband who is a member of the Eat-Everything-On-Your-Plate club. Because of that, Ted and I share meals. Always. Most restaurants pile enough food to feed a family of four onto one plate. Other than on Thanksgiving, we don’t need that much food. Think about the last time you were truly hungry. In the United States, we tend to live to eat, while in other parts of the world, they eat to live.

Obesity is a pandemic in the United States, but not in nations where survival is based on food gathering. In Africa, to which we’ve traveled often, eating meat is a gift - nourishment for the body and soul. Many Americans, however, have strayed from our (hunting) heritage and eat fatty, processed foods instead of real meat and vegetables.

Having taught aerobics since 1980, I subscribed to all the low-calorie, diet this-and-that, and even (gasp!) vegetarianism. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salad. I even throw spinach into my smoothies (Shh! Don’t tell Ted!) Vegetables are an important part of our diet, but so is meat.

Our ancestors were meat-eaters. Most people in other parts of the world eat meat, and lots of it! In Romans 14:2-3 it says “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, who’s faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” Vegetarians must be upset with that one, but the truth is, the kind of protein we get from meat is critical to our health and wellbeing. It repairs tissues, builds our immune system, and contains all essential amino acids, vitamin A, B and D, which helps strengthen bones and the nervous system. Venison is our choice for protein sustenance. There’s never been a case of E-coli or salmonella poisoning in venison. It is not fed up with chemicals and steroids. Deer eat natural, pesticide-free vegetation and roam free, like the popular free-range meat which costs twice as much in the grocery store.

With venison on the menu almost daily for the past 23 years, I’ve never been more than 5 pounds heavier than the day Ted and I were married, with the exception of course, being when I was pregnant. The contributing factor, I believe, is that making meat a huge part of my diet has helped me maintain my weight.

Like most people, I still worry when the scale inches toward a higher number or two, but I hit the gym hard and back off on the Sprinkles cupcakes when I do. Exercise is part of my daily life, thank goodness. I don’t kill myself, but I try to do something every day. And the harder I workout, the more my body craves meat. After a recent 3-hour Zumba® Jam Session and 90 minute master class (in the same day), all I could think about was having a hamburger. My body craved it. Now, if I could just back off the French fries…

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guilt. Got any?

Guilt. Got any? I know I do, and it’s been a daily part of my life, all my life whether I received a bad test grade in school, or stayed out past curfew. Most recently my husband was angry that I was not home with him, but visiting our son in Los Angeles instead. Of course, when he called sounding upset, I felt that good old heavy sense of depression in my solar plexus: guilt. Why couldn’t I please everyone? My son has been living alone in Los Angeles without any family and just a few friends, working on his acting and music careers. I felt guilty I couldn’t be with Rocco more, especially when he had the flu. Then, I called every few hours to have him check his temperature. All sorts of horrible scenarios ran through my mind: could it be meningitis, or eventually pneumonia? Now, I know what you’re thinking – leave him be. He’s twenty-one and it’s time he experiences being sick on his own. And I suppose you wouldn’t want someone to bring you chicken noodle soup when your whole body aches and you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck? (Here I go..) Almost daily, people tell me what a good job Ted and I did in raising Rocco, and it’s been that way all his twenty-one years. Ted was (and is) the disciplinarian. I’m more - compassionate. But whatever we did, we did it right. Meet Rocco once and you’ll agree. If the worst thing I did as a parent was to be available, then I’m good with that. I have no regrets. No guilt. None. A very close friend of mine recently lost her son, who was a good friend of Rocco’s. Life is short and I cherish every moment I am blessed to have with my child, no matter how old he is.

Now back to Ted.

When people close to us are suffering in even the mildest manner, we feel empathy for them. And if we are the ones to cause their pain (whether or not it is warranted), we are caught right in the middle of the blame and shame game. Ted blamed me for abandoning him (albeit temporarily) and I felt ashamed that I was not fulfilling my moral obligation to be with my husband.

Rocco overheard part of my conversation on the phone with Ted and knew that I was upset when I hung up. Rather than telling me to go home and be with my husband, my philosophical son said, “This is an opportunity for you to practice forgiveness.” Huh? Since Ted was operating from an emotional state it was up to me to manage my interpretation or response. You know what? He's right.

Whether it’s my Catholic upbringing or extreme sports conditioning as a child (2x state champion swimmer!), feeling guilty is a preconditioned response I have to almost any allegation.

Relationships are oftentimes too much about volleying blame and shame back and forth. The truth is, Ted could have come with me to visit our son but he didn’t. We just celebrated our 23rd year as a married couple. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, quite often it’s challenging, but we have plenty of time to spend as a couple in the future. Another forty years, at least. The time we’ve spent apart has helped us stay together. (Read that again). We actually miss each other when one of us is away. That probably won’t happen if you are with the same person day after day, but quite possibly is the key to our success as a married couple.

It dawned on me that part of the reason I selected this particular time to spend with Rocco was because Ted had booked a hunt away from home, but changed his plans at the last minute. Then, I was made to feel guilty for not adjusting my schedule to his. Feeling a bit relieved at this recollection, I sent my husband a text and threw the blame-ball back at him. Plans changed again, he said. He is going on that hunt after all, tomorrow.

Game over.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to my 1st blog! It is my greatest desire to share with you my experiences in health, fitness, food, relationships, travel, fashion, spirituality, and having fun! I vow to share my innermost thoughts with you -- why bother writing if I cannot be honest? At the moment, I feel incredibly blessed, healthy and actually have somewhat of a grin on my face, but there have been devastating times in my life, as well. In my book, Married to a Rock Star (Lyons Press), I wrote that if discussing the tribulations I've endured could help at least one person, then my efforts have been worthwhile. That is what I truly aim to do: help people.

Fill out the survey and let me know what topics you are most interested in. Facebook tells me I have too many friends, so I'm reaching out to you this way. I'll change up the photos from time to time and share home videos with you, too. Ted and I have a lot of exciting things happening in our lives and I can't wait to tell you about them. If nothing else, keeping up with me will exhaust you, but hopefully entertain and enlighten you, as well. There's rarely a dull moment in my life. It's quite adventurous -- like a roller coaster. So, strap in and get ready for a wild ride!