Tag Archives: No Weigh


I leave for my Goddard College residency on April 7.

I have to buy my tickets this Friday when I get paid. I’m flying into New York City and then taking an Amtrak train, the Vermonter, to Montpelier which is five miles from the school. (I love the train. A lot. I took one to Washington DC last summer and had an absolute blast. There is no train route that will get me from Nevada to Vermont, or I would so be there.)

I’m incredibly excited to spend an extra night in New York City. To explore.

I have financial aide that will just cover the tuition. A fistful of handbooks and packing lists from the school. And a heart that thump-thumps every time I think about doing this.

I want to be a writer. Does that make  me a wanna-be?

Am I going to be surrounded by super-cool-future-best-seller-Pulitzer-Prize-winners?

I will have to read out loud. Read words that I wrote myself, out loud to people who are serious writers. Can I do that?

And then my next question puts it all into a different light. I hate it, but I can’t stop it from coming.

Will I be the fattest?

I’m a good writer. It’s the only thing that I know deep down that I can do well. My heart believes that with work I can be a successful writer. That this is the work. This is paying my dues, and I’m ready and willing and excited to do it.

So why am I even thinking about my weight? I don’t even know how much I weigh. It will be four months since I’ve weighed myself when I leave. Almost five.

Why does weight have to seep into everything?

Once upon a time all I wanted in the whole world was Olympic gold. Every one of the millions of 50 meter laps I swam from age 6 to 16, I imagined the weight of a medal against my damp chest and hearing the American anthem play. It drove me.

I was on the right track. I was fast. I was strong. I was on a  good state team and I was working toward qualifying times.

And then my father went to prison.

He stayed there until I was 19. I felt too old. I felt too slow. I couldn’t swim the way I could at 16 when he got out and I didn’t have to spend all my time working to help support my sisters and brothers.

I’d lost my edge.

I’d gained 30 pounds.

I gave up.

Because I thought I was fat.

Now I really am fat (5’10” and 170 pounds of mostly muscle is not fat, no matter what my 19-year-old self believed. Nearly twice that much is.) And I’m scared. Scared of putting myself out into the world. Scared of trying so hard and failing.

I was an athlete once. A serious athlete with drive and determination. I could have been an Olympian. But I gave up.

I hated my body. Even when it was strong, lean, a butterfly-machine. Even when I could run ten miles, or do 250 incline sit ups, or swim like the wind for hours a day. I hated my body because as much as I loved being an athlete, and intellectually I knew that to be an athlete I had to be fit, I wanted to be skinny like my sisters.

I wanted to be beautiful like my 6′, 125 pound, Brooke-Sheilds-look-a-like sister. (Looking like a Brooke Shields is always a blessing, I suppose…but in the days of Island of the Blue Dolphins? Yeah. That’s what my sister looked like. At 13.) I wanted thick, waist-length hair like hers especially. Mine was short to fit in my cap, and chlorine burned.

I wanted to be perfect like my pretty blonde sister who never seemed to struggle socially the way I did. Even now, when I read her Facebook wall I get a familiar tinge of jealousy over how much everyone she’s ever met loves her. Everyone loves her.They seek her out, to be near her.

I was an athlete amongst beauty. And I hated my broad shoulders and muscular arms.

I don’t want to hate myself anymore.

I want to accept myself. I want to open myself up to criticism and critique and the possibility of greatness. Not the promise of it. That’s never been promised. Not when I was a swimmer, and not as a writer. But there was a time when satisfaction came from trying as hard as I could. Reaching for something I didn’t even know was there, down deep. Being just a little bit better than I even knew I could be.

I want that again.

Maybe it starts with learning to eat for enjoyment and love of good food.

Maybe it starts with letting people love me. Just as I am.

Not 30 pounds, or 50 pounds, or 150 pounds from now. But right now. Just as I am.

Maybe it starts when I get on a plane, bound for New York City and a train to Vermont, to write.


Filed under body, mind, spirit

My Favorite Breakfast (And a No Weigh Update)

(I’m having a little give away here.)

So I made my favorite breakfast this morning. And as I sat eating it, Dr. Oz was on. He was interviewing Carney Wilson about her weight. And as I’m watching this, I’m thinking–this woman has been dieting since the fourth grade (she said so, and I could feel her pain.) How can this doctor not see that putting her on yet another diet isn’t her solution?

The woman had her stomach stapled in front of the nation. Diets clearly haven’t worked for her.

Know why? Because she’s addicted to food. Dieting is her trigger. I tell my meth/alcohol/marijuana addicted clients to stay busy, make big life changes so that they aren’t spending all their time focused on their substance of choice. I tell them that choosing to let thoughts about their drug linger is the same as choosing relapse.

So why do we tell women (and men) who clearly have food obsessions or addictions that the answer is to spend all day, every day tightly focused on food? We ask them to make even more food rules. We expect them to do everything that triggers their addiction. And then we call them lazy when they relapse.

I haven’t weighed myself in almost two months. There are moments, when I get that old panicky, can’t-breathe feeling. Like my fat is choking me. (Do you know that feeling?) But I do what I tell my clients they must do to get better. I physically stop the thoughts. I say ‘NO’ out loud, I take a breath, I get through the anxiety. It passes. It always does, if you give it a chance. Acknowledge and let go. It works.

So the Carney Wilson segment is over. Dr. Oz had her dump a bunch of potatoes and red meat and real maple syrup into a big trash can. He had a tough-love lady tell her that her 60-extra-pounds isn’t baby weight. She’s fat because she eats too much. (Yes, that was what was said.) She was given a pedometer (and a second one was tossed to her husband in the audience, so that she couldn’t make any excuses) and told to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Carney Wilson, according to Dr. Oz, has borderline diabetes. She had a pretty aggressive surgery to correct this problem years ago (the stomach stapling) so this news visibly upset her. And of course, the physical dangers of obesity aren’t something to ignore. Just like the physical dangers of drug or alcohol addiction aren’t something to play with. But just like you can’t show an alcoholic their liver-test results and toss their husband the keys to the liquor cabinet and expect results, you can’t tell someone who weighs 100 or more pounds MORE than they did before they started dieting to diet some more and expect good results.

I’m lucky. I don’t have any obesity-related health problems. (Not so lucky that every time I do have a health concern, it’s blamed on my weight without any real thought.) But if I did–even if I did–I know deep down in my soul that doing the same thing that’s gotten me to this point isn’t the answer. It’s actually kind of insane, right?

Okay…my No Weigh rant is over. Thanks for listening!

Onward to my favorite breakfast.

Corn tortillas are kind of a lifesaver to someone who is gluten-free. I consider them my sliced bread. Sometimes I just   heat them up quick right on my oven burner and eat with peanut butter. It took me a long time to figure out how to cook them in oil without ending up with a greasy mess.

Figure it out I did, though, and I’m sharing the wisdom! This recipe calls for cheese and salsa. This is a fantastically versatile technique though, and you can use anything on the inside. It’s actually a little soft-fried taco shell, so of course you can stuff it with taco stuffing.

Cheesey Corn Tortillas

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • salsa
  • grated cheese

Start by heating a dry frying pan to medium-high (maybe a little closer to high than medium.) You want it good and hot before you start cooking.

Once you get started, this is a quick moving recipe, so lay everything out ahead of time. Put the oil in a little bowl and get a brush out. Have the cheese and salsa handy, too.

Once the pan is hot, put a tortilla down into it and lightly brush the top side with oil. This is going to be the inside, so be very light with the oil. Just a touch. Flip and be a little more generous with the oil on the other side, which will be the outside and needs to get a crunch to it.

When the side that’s down in the pan has started to just lightly brown, flip again. Put cheese and salsa on half of the tortilla. (Don’t go nuts on the cheese, or these little tortillas won’t hold it all. I think I use about 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons.)

Now fold the tortilla over in half. You want to do this before the bottom side gets too brown, otherwise it won’t be flexible anymore.  Just push that tortilla to the side and you can get started on a second one.

Cook the folded tortilla until both sides are nice and crispity.

Three of these little lovelies and an orange makes a good filling breakfast. On the weekends I might have two, but add eggs. Some refried beans would make this a great brunch-y breakfast. Sour cream on the side is very nice.

For a long time when I realized that gluten was a no-no for me, I really mourned a couple of things. PB&J was one. Crackers or French bread with soup was another. When I have soup, I use the same brushed-oil technique to make some plain heated tortillas. They give me something yummy to dip with, and don’t leave me feeling at all deprived.

More recipes here. And here. And here.


Filed under body, mind, spirit


Read Part One here.

So, about my weird relationship with food.

Here are a couple of things about me.

1. I’m the oldest of nine kids. By a lot. While I have a sister who is only two years younger than me, she and I haven’t lived together since we were 13 (me) and 11 (her.) She and our brother lived with our mom. I lived with my dad. So when I was 15, my dad went to prison and I was left with six siblings from 5 to 13 years younger than me, and a step mother who hated me. She liked to go to school on Friday (she’s a teacher) and come home Monday morning to get ready for school again.  As a result, there were weekends where we ate frozen burritos, canned corn, and tap water to get us through the weekend. (I still can’t eat a frozen burrito, 20-some years later.)

2. I was an incredibly awkward, shy child. Food made me feel good for a while.

3. I spent 7 years as a single mother. While poverty wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, spending 7 years petrified that I wouldn’t be able to feed my kids (and having dreams about frozen burritos) kept me hyper-alert about food.

4. I come from a family of addicts. Alcohol, meth, heroin, pot–you name it, and someone I love has a problem with it. Food is my drug of choice.

5. I believe that as a result of Climate Change and Peak Oil, things in as we know it are not goign to be as we know it for ever. Combined with my niggling fear of my family starving, having a store of food is very important to me. Also, while I’m not an active Mormon, I have lived for 23 years in an area where Mormonism and Mormon-style preparedness are prominent.

So all of these things, combined with a pretty consistant pattern of starving/binging (dieting/failing) has led to an unhealthy attitude about food, an unhealthy body, and a need for change.

Preparedness is important to me. I will not, if I can help it, ever be in a position again of having a house full of kids to feed for a weekend and half a dozen frozen burritos and two cans of corn as the only available food. There is a level of food (about two weeks worth) that when my pantry gets below it, I get incredibly anxious. Even if those two weeks are  store-brand canned vegetables and cases of Spaghettios. It doesn’t even have to be food we normally eat (we don’t eat those things as a general rule), which isn’t particularly constructive. I’m working on that part.

I spent years, in a sense, competing with my siblings for food (and being the oldest, always feeling like I couldn’t have enough because I had to feed them.) Then, by the time I was an adult, and only had to worry about feeding my own small children, I spent most of my time making these intense dieting rules. Often I cut out one whole food category (fat, sugar, carbs, meat…) Sometimes more than one. Sometimes everything but grapefruit and hardboiled eggs.

The result? Serious anxiety when there is even a hint of the perception that I can’t eat as much as I want. So even though I’m the mom now, and my kids have plenty to eat, and there is nothing stopping me from saying “Don’t eat this pizza, it’s my special stuff. I’ll make one for you guys,” I get that old anxiety when I try to do that.

Ah–the recipe for binge eating.

You might be wondering what the point is of spilling my guts here.

My theory is that learning how to have a positive relationship with food is similar to recovering from any other addiction. And the first step in recovery is recognizing and accepting that there is something that needs to be recovered from. Sharing your desire to recover is another first step.

Food is clearly vitally important to human existance. Food is the key to my health, since all I need to recover from the ill effects of gluten is stop eating it. Food, and the average person’s ability to produce some, is key to getting through whatever is coming with regard to the larger future. Food nurishes the people I love.

Food has been my enemy for 30 years.

No more. Whatever else comes from this self-care month, and my self-care goals, the absolute understanding that food is not my enemy is the most important thing. Food heals. Food brings people together. Food is art. Food is to be celebrated, not feared. Enjoyed, not scarfed in secret loathing.

I started this blog in exhaustion, after my latest attempt to Lose Weight Once and For All, resulted in two weeks on the South Beach Diet. I started this blog with a post about No Weigh. No more weighing. No more dieting. I’m just taking the first steps. 30 years of conditioning isn’t reversed in a matter of a few weeks.

You know how sometimes you get into something, and you realize later that it had some deeper meaning in your life? That’s how I feel about substance abuse counseling. It feels like it’s all coming together. In the past year I’ve tried to use my training to put myself in food-addiction recovery. But something was missing.

I finally realize that was missing was that the goal was always to lose weight. Not: I will break my addiction to food. But: I will break my addiction to food and lose 150 pounds. It doesn’t work that way. It never will.

No more dieting. No Weigh.

1 Comment

Filed under body

WFMW: Giving Up Dieting

Adrienne’s grandma gave her a little photo album for Christmas with pictures of her from newborn to 17.

By default there were some pictures in there of me at age almost-21.

(That’s me in the background, my mom in the foreground holding Adrienne. Both of us, I can promise you, feeling huge and uncomfortable. Do good legs run in my family or what? I weighed about 200 pounds.)

First: I can’t believe how young I was when I had her.

Second: I can’t believe how slender I was when I had her.

Why? Because I felt like an absolute cow. As big as a house.

As big as I feel now, after 17 solid years of dieting, a good 100 pounds heavier.

I weighed 200 pounds, so I wasn’t exactly skinny. But I also wasn’t fat. I’m nearly 5’10”, 200 pounds is probably only about thirty pounds overweight for me. So why, a couple of years earlier when I was still a competitive swimmer and runner and an incredibly fit 40 pounds lighter than the day Adrienne was born, did I still feel like a big fat cow. Why did I still feel just like I do now, 150-ish pounder later. I’m nearly twice as big as my teenage self, but I don’t feel any different.

(This is my in San Francisco summer of 2008, at my very heaviest.)

I’ve always felt fat.

Maybe it’s because my mom felt huge. Both of us had skinny-minny sisters, and comparisons were drawn all the time.

Maybe because my dad left my soft, curvy mother for an angular, petite woman.

Maybe because I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with food, and I knew it.

I have an eating disorder. I binge. I would be bulimic, if I wasn’t so scared of throwing up or taking laxitives. So I go through periods of eating enough to make myself sick–and all that time while I’m eating, even to the point of illness, I never feel full–but I don’t do anything to get rid of the calories. (Except from ages 10 to 17, when I exercised enough to burn them off. Sometimes eight hours a day during school breaks and weekends.)

I can remember looking at my naked 8-year-old body in a bathroom mirror and deciding I was disgusting. That night I skipped my Oreos. I’ve been on a nearly constant diet for the next 30 years.

I’m tired. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to be able to care about myself just as I am. I don’t want another 17 years of dieting to leave me a middle-aged 400-pounder.

So this year, I’m not dieting. This year, I’m not weighing myself. This year, I’m honoring my emotions so that I don’t have to stuff them with food. And this year, I’m accepting that food is my drug of choice and I’m an addict. And if anyone knows that an addict can change, I do.

I’m scared. I’ve had food rules for as long as I can remember. What if I end this year even fatter than I already am? What if I binge?

Chances are I will binge. But instead of beating myself up after, maybe if my focus isn’t on dieting I’ll be able to understand why. And then I can learn otherways to cope.

Last night I made a gluten-free pizza. (Another sort-of Annalise Roberts recipe, and it was so good.) I meant to eat half and save half for my lunch today. I ate the whole thing. It was a nine-inch pizza–so four decent sized slices. I’ve eaten more in one sitting. I wouldn’t exactly call it an all-out binge.

But I was really uncomfortable with the idea of not eating the rest of that pizza. After I was done, and full enough to be slightly uncomfortable, I tried to figure out where that discomfort came from.


(Sorry, this gets really involved and I have to get to work. I won’t make you wait long. It’ll be my post about why I need to have a stocked pantry for my peace of mind, too.)

Continued here.

More WFMW here.


Filed under body