Self Care in the New Year

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This week, I would love to explore the oft-overlooked issue of Self-Care, and what it really means to care for yourself in the tenderest way. I welcome all comments, as I’d love to start a conversation about how God figures in  your journey. Taking care of yourself isn’t just for those in recovery – I think all of us struggle with it at times. Women especially – the mothers and grandmothers and caretakers – are often expected to put their needs last. It may not be an audible and clear message, but the societal expectations buoy it up all the same. When we don’t self-care, we have nothing to pour out. God bless you in this new year!

 

By: Jana Greene

Have you ever just gotten lazy about something? Like really taking care of yourself – Mind, body and soul?

This time of year, we are all thinking about priorities. That’s all New Year’s resolutions are, right? Putting priority on one healthier endeavor and maybe letting other, less healthy habits slip down a notch or two.

For me, going to 12 Step meetings is my re-boot.

When I say I don’t have time to go, I’m suggesting to myself that I’m not worth making the time.

When I say I’m too sick or tired to go, I am opting out of an experience that may not heal my body, but will certainly be a salve to my soul.

When I want to hide away under my duvet cover and eat a box of Thin Mints instead of going to a meeting, well …. that should be a big, red flag.

I was raised with the notion that you don’t want to think too highly of yourself, and I get that. I understand why that is a slippery slope – God is God and I am not. I’m not talking about being self-righteous or pious. Any righteousness I might have certainly doesn’t stem from my own actions, but by the willingness to surrender my will to God’s. That’s not what I’m talking about at all.

I’m talking about how easy it is find your own heart and mind and spirit on the bottom rung of the priority ladder. You may not even notice the slippage happening. You may have been too busy caring for everyone else to see it. You may have stacked up box after box of codependency to reach your top priorities. Without a basis of loving self-care, it will topple and take you with it.

I’m terrible at self-care, true self-care. I’m really good at showing myself love by giving into it’s appetites. Isn’t that what care is about? If I want a cookie, I want the box. If I want to treat myself to something on Amazon, 10 things end up in my basket. Stay up late to watch “Call the Midwife” on Netflix? ALL NIGHT LONG.

Somewhere my psyche learned to equate moderation with deprivation.

If one is good, twelve is better. Except for that’s hardly ever true.

“Self-Care” that makes you feel awful afterward is not self-care. This may seem rudimentary, but this morning as I write this post, it’s kind of an epiphany to me.

I’ve gotten lazy with self-care, cheapening it. Worse, when someone I love needs help or care, I’ve got only a dry well to draw from.

This January 3rd, I will celebrate 16 years of consecutive sobriety. For my Recovery’s Sweet Sixteen, I’m going back to the basics. Because that’s where I find God most of the time. Like most teenagers, my recovery often likes to think it knows everything. But oh how wrong that mindset is!

I still have SO much to learn!

So, as we enter a New Year, I’m going to try to take better care of myself and re-arrange the rungs on the priority ladder. If you’ve forgotten how to truly self-care, join me on the intentional journey to care for yourself. Take time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write out some self-care statements. Here are mine:

I will seek out one-on-one time with my Heavenly Father. That doesn’t mean carving out an Instagram-worthy devotional time, but authentic conversation with God. (Authentic conversation means listening, too. I forget that.)

I will not apologize for showing myself the same level of kindness as I would a friend, or even a stranger.

I will not call myself names, deriding myself for being ‘so stupid,’ for example. Even when just kept in the confines of own mind, putting myself down takes a toll.

I will make the time and effort to make at least one Celebrate Recovery per week. I will ask God to help me out of the rut of making excuses to avoid going. At the meetings, I will LISTEN and learn, and love on my tribe.

I will make a sincere effort to consider that moderation and deprivation are not the same thing. I need Holy Help on this one, because it is ingrained very deeply. Honestly, it stems from a place of fear, of being without. And that isn’t what faith in the Lord looks like. It’s what trusting in only this world looks like.

I will get up and walk at least once every day. Jesus, walk with me and talk with me as I strive to make the changes my physical health so badly needs implemented.

I will listen to my body, and try to heed what it’s telling me. I have limitations that I’ve been fighting against for years. Maybe it’s time for acceptance.

I will maintain boundaries to protect my sobriety.

I will become more intuitive about what I REALLY need, and feed myself that which cares for it best. The Word of God. Spending time with friends. Investing in my marriage. Bringing my anxiety straight to Jesus instead of rolling around in it first.

I will give myself permission to enjoy life. And I will rely on God to help me do that. All evidence points to doom in the worldly estimation, but all truth says that He has already got this. He’s GOT it, already.

I will make the cup of tea the right way, not the microwave way.

Take the bubble bath.

Enjoy the funny cat memes.

Sometimes self-care is so simple.

Father God, praise to you for my sobriety, and for my tribe of recovery warriors. Thank you for friends and readers, and family. In this new year, reveal yourself to us in our ordinary days and through extraordinary circumstances. We need to feel your presence. Help us to actually BELIEVE that we are worth the care, the way YOU say we are worth caring for.

Amen.

Fudge > Fortitude (or, “Blaming Elsie”)

fudge

By: Jana Greene

Today I melted Godiva chocolate chips in the microwave, threw in a little vanilla extract and a can of sweetened condensed milk. I don’t know exactly what happened. I unintentionally made fudge, I guess.

I’m not proud of this.

I have been putting out Christmas decorations all day, all by myself. I am a brand new empty-nester, and there isn’t anyone to help me decorate in the spirit of family tradition. I guess that makes me a little sad.

And hungry.

I’m supposed to be eating healthier, and I WAS eating healthier since this morning when I made myself a green smoothie for breakfast. Green smoothies make you feel invincible, like if you literally cram enough spinach in your almond milk and bananas, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. In reality, it does help you go to the bathroom, which can be no less impressive.

Anyway, I smugly sipped on my green smoothie all morning, giving myself mental high fives for being such a HEALTH NUT for drinking one shake. I was on my way to a slimmer, healthier, more attractive, less jiggly ME and this shake would so satiate me that I will give carbs in all their delicious varieties wide berth for the rest of the day.

And then I opened the pantry and saw a little can with this happy little cow’s face. She looks like she just took a lot of really effective drugs, but no …. she has been dipping into the sweetened condensed milk, and I’ll tell you how I know.

elsie
LOOK AT HER FACE. I want what she’s having.

Because sweetened condensed milk tastes like hopes and dreams.

The next thing I know, I am standing at the kitchen sink crying a little about my empty nest and consoling myself with the same sweet nectar that makes Elsie the Cow look like she just won the lottery on the label.  I’d dip the spoon into the melted Godiva chocolate…consider the lonely affair of putting up lights by myself and cry just a little……dip the spoon into the sweetened condensed milk…..feel my eyes go back in my head in rapt pleasure.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Until I have a really bad chocolate goatee and a sugar rush to end all sugar rushes.

“MAKE THE FUDGE,” one part of my brain implored. “You can save face if you just make fudge!” So I did, to avoid eating the whole gooey mess with my fingers. Fudge is a very acceptable thing to make at Christmas time, right?

The other part of my brain said, “NO! STOP! Your green smoothie was all for naught if you don’t stop mainlining sweetened condensed milk like a sugar fiend. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU”RE DOING. Remember how fat you felt at the Christmas party last night? Green smoothies didn’t get you that way. THIS BEHAVIOR makes you feel miserable”

That particular part of my brain got super dissed today. I made the fudge. I licked the spoon. AND the bowl.

I washed away all the evidence in the sink, but I’m blogging about it here because I need to be honest. Although I wouldn’t call it a binge exactly, I WAS temporarily possessed by a cartoon cow on a label and gave in to my baser, fudgier instincts.

And I need to be accountable, right?

Tomorrow is a brand new day with green smoothie possibilities galore. Thank God for second helpings, er….second chances.

God bless us, every one.

Tasty Feelings, Empty Hole

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By: Jana Greene

I never in a million years thought I’d actually be a writer. Oh me of little faith.

I never thought people would read my words, much less follow my blog. But here I am, blessed beyond measure to be able to share my crazy motherhood, marriage, and recovery journeys with people – sometimes total strangers – who can sometimes relate. It’s incredibly humbling and befuddling, this whole blogosphere experience. Weird, yes. But also wonderful.

As C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

You are never the ‘only one.’ I know I’m not either, which is why I am blogging about this situation.

In the interest of transparency, I think I need to be honest. I’m so embarrassed. I am going through a scary season in my personal life, having resurrected my old starve / binge / purge behaviors as they rear their ugly eating disorder heads. It’s gotten pretty bad and I am sick and scared. I starve myself until I’m famished and then binge to a ridiculous degree. I don’t know how to stop. I’m so ashamed and disgusted with myself because I I cannot seem to control it. It’s happening nightly now, and I wake up so ashamed every morning.

Please don’t hate on me, I’m hating on myself enough already.

Why can I just not get it together, already?! Just be normalsauce for ONE WHOLE DAY….

The little threads of sanity keeping me together are woven of words. Lots of words. Words on this blog. Words in letters and messages to friends. Words – communication – is my saving grace. I had to go through every trial in life alone for a very long time, and I’ve no desire to do this alone. I’ve gotten accustomed to sharing E.S.H. with others.

Isolation is doom for me. But isolation is 100% my default when protecting my secrets. And little thoughts of “It’s no big deal” keep me sick.

Christians can – and do – struggle with the same issues as everyone else on the planet. None of us are immune, and that’s the truth. I wish more people were honest about that. It doesn’t draw anyone to Christ to be ‘perfect’….and I’m surely in no danger of being that.

But I cannot imagine going through this, or anything else, without Jesus by my side. I can feel Him close, even in every storm.

So, yeah. Accountability…..

Hoarding food. Bingeing. Sometimes (only occasionally) barfing as a result. Skipping meals until I’m starving and shaking. Wait until I cannot take it anymore (you know, until I’ve punished myself adequately for the last binge) and repeat the cycle. And throughout the entire cycle, it makes me feel good for about 10 minutes, tops. I feel OK for those 10 minutes and somehow, in my addicted brain, that justifies the whole shebang.

I’m not a stranger to eating disorders. I starved myself down to a tiny weight once because I had zero control over ANYTHING going on in my life at the time, and I could control that, by damn. Except that I clearly could not survive on cigarettes and Diet Coke and any sane person should know that.

I’ve managed to stay sober, and I’m leaning into God. But I’m not in a terrific place right now. Since I blog largely about addiction recovery, I thought it important to share this predicament. I cannot write about sobriety and go sit in my closet and eat my feelings for half an hour until I’m sick. That’s not okay.

I want a good, quality, solid, honest recovery.

I want to be OK. I want to be authentically me as God intended, able to lift others up.

I don’t even just want to be OK. I want to leave this world a better place than when I was first granted this earth-suit and put on mission Earth. I want to love people and be whole, in essence.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the same triggers that set me off drinking are setting me off with this battle. I’m not sure how to do this. Alcohol, you can stay away from that entirely. Food….it’s kind of a necessity.

It’s so much easier not to write about this issue, to just keep it in the closet (literally). But it’s too easy to keep the game going that way.

So, hello.
My name is Jana and I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with food issues. And a plethora of other assorted challenges. I’ve been sober from alcohol for nearly 15 years, one day at a time, all glory to God.

Here are some words.

I’m putting them out there in the universe for the selfish reason that it is therapy for me to share my struggles, and for the self-less reason that I don’t want you to feel alone if you are going through something similar.

God bless us, everyone.

Sassy Pants Diet Update

This cat totally gets what I am talking about here.
This cat totally gets what I am talking about here, and has spent many a morning at Morning Enthusiasm Level 0.

This morning, I experienced the very first manifestation that I have not consumed sugar in any form, nor carbohydrate (ok, except for that one single cheat) since March. Traipsing into my closet with my usual morning enthusiasm (level 0) to get dressed, I considered wearing yet another pair of black pants. Black is slimming. I have a lot of black pants.

But no. I don’t know what it was about this morning – perhaps I noticed that my upper thighs were not chaffing in quite the usual way, like the legs of  a fat cricket  might – that made me choose the light gray slacks. But at any rate, I chose them, even though they have never fit me. (Yes, I bought them even though they didn’t fit. Because when I buy clothes in my actual size, I fear my brain will come to accept that I am my actual size, so I buy clothes one size smaller. Hey, it makes sense. Ask any woman.)

And I pulled them up, past my fat cricket, music-making thighs. And they zipped. They even buttoned.

Now, with an unprecedented morning enthusiasm level of 3, I finished getting dressed and walked into the kitchen, all sassy-like.

“BEHOLD!” I announced to my poor husband, who was just trying to have his first cup of coffee and read his morning Bible verse in peace. “ON THIS DAY, I WEAR THE PANTS OF YESTERYEAR!”

I suspect he is thinking, “It’s too early in the morning for this drama,” but he smiles and congratulates me.

Truthfully, it is a lot better than my usual morning drama, which goes something like this:

Slump into the closet woefully.

Try on pair of slacks that apparently shrunk in the dryer. Throw them on the floor, as I remember that I don’t put my pants in the dryer. Ever.

Put on skirt that will not zip. Grumble and fuss. Add skirt to heap on floor.

Choose a pair of black pants. Although they can be zipped up (technically) muffin top spills over waistband. When I attempt to breathe, muffin top becomes Bundt cake over top of pants immediately. Add to pile on floor.

Hate myself vehemently. Vow to buy new clothes, knowing full-well that I will purchase them in the same size as the ones on the floor – because, and well….WOMAN REASONS.

Grab pair of Fat Black Pants.

Finish getting dressed and head into the kitchen for coffee (and maybe a bagel …. what’s the point of even TRYING anymore?) and bitch to husband in high drama about how much I hate my body, while slathering cream cheese on said bagel.

Maybe cry a little, certainly spread my disdain around to my poor husband, who is JUST TRYING TO HAVE HIS FIRST CUP OF COFFEE AND READ HIS MORNING BIBLE VERSE IN PEACE!

Undeterred, he tells me I’m beautiful no matter what fits on any given day. I adore that man. I don’t know why he puts up with me, but I’m awfully glad he does.

Fat cricket legs, morning drama, sassy pants and all.

 

 

Fear and Loathing in Lunch Phases

 

Credit: Jana Greene

 

It’s time.
It’s time to make some changes. Again. As with making any other change, I have to get to the point of absolute loathing before I am willing to seriously commit.
I am on cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes medicines, overweight and out of shape. I absolutely loathe the way I feel and look.

Beware the dreaded “always” and “never;” but I am keen to use it here: I always feel bad. I never feel healthy or attractive. I don’t eat “a lot,” but what I do eat is done in excess. In binges. After a binge, I feel guilty and fat. So I skip meals. Then I’m starving, so I binge again. Mad cravings for foods of very little nutritional value – fast food.
Lather, rinse, repeat. On and on. (Why is this cycle so familiar?)

I almost never exercise, because when I do, I am so winded –  and depressed that it makes me so tired. With one surgically rebuilt ankle held together with plates, pins and screws, it’s true that I can only do limited walking, and no high-impact workout. But you know, I really could do yoga. I have an exercise bike in the bedroom right smack in front of the damn TV! The cats think it is furniture for them, since they’ve never seen a human sit on it, much less sit on it and move.

And here, now….I am owning an actual goal – admitting (for the first time, even to myself) that I have gained 30 POUNDS in the seven years since walking down the aisle to marry My Beloved.  Thirty pounds in seven years seems like a lot. Just typing “30 pounds” makes me feel like failure incarnate. My husband loves me unconditionally, and I know that. But I know I’ve failed myself. I would love to lose 30 pounds. Okay, 25 (you have to factor in that I am, after all, in my mid-forties now…)

There are perfectly good reasons that I’ve gained so much weight. Let me go ahead and get the excuses out of the way …

In short order, I quit a 2-pack per day smoking habit,  cold-turkey. (Again, I had come to the ground zero of absolute self-loathing about it to make any changes.) And then I had a hysterectomy (TMI? Well, this may not be the blog for you….) Those two major health choices are responsible for 20 of those pounds. Other health-related issues, requiring many stints on treatment with steroids through the years, are responsible for the last ten. The broken ankle didn’t help things at all.

It was like this in getting sober thirteen years ago, too. Excuses I had aplenty, and they allowed me to stay active in my addiction disease. Excuses are now keeping me from being healthy and fit.

But (oh the inequity!) I am still responsible for taking the weight off. Where they came from – surgery, age, or a few late-night Haagen Dazs ice cream binges – is a moot point. Excuses – even the ones with valid origins – keep me from taking any action, right until the moment Self-Loathing lunges out of the shadows, beating Excuses up and stealing its milk money. Then it is GAME ON.

And like drinking, perpetuating my pattern with food is not only willpower, but a willingness to surrender. I’ve proven myself pretty powerless over food (see tomorrow’s blog post: Food: a short history of dysfunction.) I must learn a better way to live and trust God to make it possible in my mind, body and spirit. And I am a little afraid of failure.

So God….a little help here?

GAME ON. It’s time.

 

The Salad of my Discontent: 13 nutrition (and Fitness) tips for the 40 + Crowd

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It sure has been a difficult time lately, with losses and goodbyes for my family, challenges and changes, and  much “waiting upon God,” even when it feels like he taking kind-of a long time to lead us where we need to go! And usually, I cover pretty heavy topics on thebeggarsbakery.net – alcoholism and addiction, parenting teens, marriage, health woes, etc.

So, in a departure in what I usually write about, today’s piece is a Humor Column. Years ago, before so many heavy things, I had a humor column in a tiny, local paper – and it was ridiculously fun. This article addresses one of my passions and pains: food, and trying to understand and achieve health, after so many years of taking abysmal care of myself.

I hope it makes you smile, at the very least. Please feel free to share the link with any middle-agers who are struggling with the same issues, and GOD BLESS you and yours. I so appreciate your readership!

By: Jana Greene

George Carlin once said that “death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.”  But if your spit doesn’t do the trick, swallowing small amounts of food will surely cause your demise.

Studies show, well…..quite a whole lot of things, actually, many of which are pretty scary. Luckily, if one government-granted conclusion to expensive research alarms you, the next one that comes along will either:

a)      Disprove the first study (studies show this to be the case 99.7 percent of the time, depending on funding.)

OR

b)      Cause the release of panic, the likes of which have not been felt since the release of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.

Why keep studying consistently inconsistent results? Personally, I think it’s because the more it is studied with federal funds, the more the government can regulate our lives – but that’s a column for another time.

Today’s topic is about an unfortunate rite-of-passage for many of us in our forties: The Talk about  Nutritional Health, when  our doctors, lab results in hand, confront us on our past misdeeds and  suggests that there are damage-control  measures available to counteract those earlier misdeeds.

In my quest to “eat healthy,” I often read studies. Over time, I have surmised from them to:

1. Eat sweet potatoes, but not in pie-form, and certainly not with butter, sugar and cinnamon.

No, wait. DON’T eat sweet potatoes!  A sweet potato is just a starch masquerading as a Vegetable of the Highest Order – a colorful vegetable.

And if you must have one, eat it raw. Studies show that once you cook a vegetable, you completely ruin the nutritionally value. You might as well eat it in pie-form….Which, I usually do.

2. Fruit is the healthiest food group there is – packed with nutrients.

Until you swallow it.  Most fruits are converted by your body to  SUGAR, and your endocrine system doesn’t know the difference between a bunch of grapes and one of those pixie sticks that is two feet long.

Unless the fruit is colorful…. In which case, it becomes a two-foot-pixie stick with a few antioxidants.  

3. Drink cranberry juice, and your urinary tract will thank you.

Oops….studies indicate that you should stay away from cranberry juice. Because the sugars it contains (see ‘fruit’ above) can CAUSE a UTI.

4. Nuts and seeds are awesome*, and not just because they are central to the “What Would Jesus Eat?” diet and Jesus Himself is awesome, but because they are full of the protein your body needs to function as a fat-burning machine!

Except that all of the good-tasting nuts are actually pretty fatty. Go figure.

5. A glass of red wine**  each evening keeps the doctor away.

Unless you’re an alcoholic like myself.  In which case, the doctor won’t need to visit because the coroner will beat him to it.

6. Eating meat – especially the red kind (color is not a benefit here) – is terrible for your health.  You should consume ONLY the things that your  meat would have eaten, if you hadn’t savagely killed it for food.

You know, root vegetables and such. Sweet potatoes.

Scratch that. Eat ONLY meat, like our cave-man ancestors, and only the way they ate it – cooked over an open, stucco fire pit with a side of something they might have purchased at Whole Foods after a long day of dragging women by the hair.

And , did  Paleos eat Quizno’s, or use a Fry-Daddy!  I think NOT. Keep it strictly hunter-gatherer, peeps. Which brings me to (queue scary music….)

7. The malevolent  CARBOHYDRATE***, which virtually all studies agree is the most evil form a calorie can channel.  Do you think the ancient peoples had pasta-makers?  No sir, they did not. So  forget spaghetti, a member of the most malicious menu malady a meal can muster.

Rice, potatoes, pasta – all in cahoots to hijack your metabolism and take the slow ride to an early grave. Don’t even think about that tortellini! It’s a cheese-filled pocket of death!

And, I’m sorry….. there are no studies to refute this, unless you consider those who suggest (queue the scary music again….) MODERATION. Moderation – with starchy deliciousness. Hurmph. (Studies clearly show that people with addictive personalities are less likely to practice moderation.)

8. Salad is the anti-carb…..so very  good for you!  The more colorful and expensive the lettuce, the better.

Unless  you like it with flavor. Take, for instance,  blue cheese dressing.  You could, instead of eating it on salad, just get a super-large syringe (I like my blue cheese chunky-style) and inject it directly in your arteries to get just the same benefits as digesting it.  Luckily, many creamy salad dressings contain dairy, and studies show that….

9. Dairy prevents belly fat.

No, wait – it causes belly fat. I’m not sure which (I’m pretty sure I’ve read studies that purport both)

10. If you have blood-sugar issues, diet sodas are much better to drink than regular sodas.

Although, in test groups,  diet sodas had  the same effect on teeth as the meth. Yes, you can get “meth mouth”  courtesy of carbonated beverages! Diet sodas also contain a chemical that  basically turns to  formaldehyde in your body, a chemical used in the embalming process. The. Embalming. Process.

11. Ahhh, caffeine. – beloved purveyor of eternal life and heart health, and seemingly-harmless-delivery system for a mood-altering, STIMULANT  DRUG!  Hello?

So, so much study on caffeine. The common drug is the darling of federally-funded scientific research. Pages and pages, and reverse-studies and warnings and….I need another cup of coffee **** to even THINK about it.

12. All hail the ancient Mayans, who are famous for appreciating the health benefits of Chocolate *****(and human sacrifice, but hey…they brought us chocolate!)

Chocolate,  as a modern food,  is actually a contributor to obesity…

UNLESS, it is transformed into  DARK chocolate, which many studies show not only is excellent for your body, but practically gives the same cardiac benefits of  having the heart of a 21-year old triathlon-participating vegetarian transplanted into your tired, old, flabby  body!

But wait, chocolate contains caffeine, which studies show…….

Is really good for you!

Or….

Or a mind-altering, stimulant drug….you  shameless  junkie.

13. .Well, at least everyone can agree that drinking MORE WATER is essential to good health. Yesiree.  It cleans your system, lubricates your joints, and is the life-force. The God-given, liquid  verve-maker.

But, not so fast…..

Studies show that when you turn on the tap, you unleash a cascade of chemical compounds and a mélange of micro-organisms. Our waste  is contaminated with tons of chemicals to ensure our drinking safety!  Not to mention naturally-occurring micro-organisms (your “oli’s” and  “ella’s”….. e-coli, flagenella, barbarella, etc.) Bottoms up!

With all this information to consider (Thank you, Federal Government!) don’t forget about the other, equally disturbing facet of middle-aged damage control:  Physical Fitness.

It’s not too late, fellow Old Farts!

Never mind that it will take MUCH more effort to obtain a MUCH-lesser result, and that your reward will not be the same as it was “back in the day.” It may not make you “hot,” but you’ll live longer, as an old, not-hot person.  The reward is life, itself!

There is plenty of data and debate on which form of fitness is best for those in the Mid-Day of life:

Walking

no, running

No….WALKING is the best exercise.

Walking is nice and low-impact….unless you want muscle tone. (Was Jane Fonda concerned about “low impact” when she implored us all to “get physical?” Of course not.  And in her golden years, she can probably still bounce a quarter off of her gluteus!)

And the horrors of aerobics (and unforgiving leotards) pales in comparison with a modern fitness  phenomenon (I would call it a “craze,” but that would only accentuate my age)  that shall-remain-unnamed in this article…

Primarily a program for young people (so says me), participants will often try to recruit we 40-plussers. You’ve been warned.

Let’s just say it is a major work-out movement that actually advertises PAIN as a selling point,  even infers that you will ENJOY  that pain. It also incorporates the lifting of weights that appear to weigh approximately as much as Stonehenge (all stones combined.)

As my daughter would say, I don’t EVEN!

Many studies have shown that swimming is the best exercise, but don’t take my word for it. Peek into any YWCA in the world at 7:30 a.m. and count the swim cap-crowned elderly ladies in the pool doing water aerobics.  Nice and easy on the joints (and a good female bonding experience….where are all the men?)

Yes, swimming is best. Unless you do it outdoors.  Are you trying to kill yourself with UV rays?

Yoga is great for fitness…

Unless you think you might ever leave the yoga mat. If you plan to strike a “standing” or “walking” pose (for approximately ever) be wary. If your Yoga class or fitness video touts itself for “Beginners,” keep in mind that they are referring to beginner contortionists…not you, and surely not me.

So, in conclusion….I think George Carlin was pretty astute in his observation.

Eat and let eat, I like to say. Walk and let walk. And study and let study, if you must.

I also like to say, “Pass the blue cheese dressing.”

And be quick about it…I’m swallowing small amounts of saliva, as we speak.

 

* Especially in pies.

** You can drink wine by the single GLASS?

***There is a best-selling book titled, “Bread is the Devil.” Really.

**** Starbucks Primo Mocha Latte (extra shot of espresso, please)

*****Also really good in pies.

“Noshing” to Worry About: Food, Comfort and the God-shaped Hole

Don't these look delicious? They were sinful, I tell you! Chocolates from Blue Ridge Chocolates.
Don’t these look delicious? They were sinful, I tell you! Chocolates from Blue Ridge Chocolates.

By: Jana Greene

MMMmmmm, Christmastime. The music is lovely,  the parties are grand. The food? Well, it’s almost divine.

Almost.

As a recovering alcoholic, I save a lot of calories by not drinking (sick thought #1) but I make up for it by taking part in food festivities.  Savory dips piled high on crackers, sugary cookies and cakes. If it arrives in a crock pot, it’s simmering on borrowed time. Anything with a cream-cheese base? Yes, please!

The problem is – if I’m honest – is that I need to admit a little secret:  making food a centerpiece in my life is not just a holiday phenomenon. And I have the pounds to prove it.

I worry about my issues with food because I see a pattern emerging. A few weeks ago, I cleaned out my closet, and within moments I found the first Hershey bar. I had hidden it in an otherwise empty shoebox, a single candy under tissue paper. Working my way under some random papers stacked on a closet shelf, I found another Hershey bar and at the bottom of the stack? Another one., and another. The last one was under an old Pittsburgh Steelers blanket behind some more boxes.

I have had issues with food all my life. From hating to eat as a child, becoming a full-on “foodie” as an adult. When I went through a painful divorce several years ago, I lived on Diet Coke and cigarettes, losing 80 pounds. To be truthful, it felt pretty good to have some measure of control over something going on. The cycle has repeated over and over: starving myself for a little while because I don’t like what I see, bingeing to fill up and comfort.  It was the kind of hidden behavior that I just didn’t want to “discuss” with myself (also known as “denial)  But now – here in a tangible intervention, was evidence bold on brown wrappers: H.E.R.S.H.E.Y.

All told, there were 11  chocolate bars hidden in strange places in my closet.There is a big difference between using food as a treat and an anesthetic.  I am very emotional about food (and dern near everything else) but usually not to the point of crying. This time, there were tears.

The candy had been stashed individually over the course of months, because chocolate is my comfort food and having three young adult daughters, someone is ALWAYS PMS’ing at my house, looking for this anesthetic for the symptoms. So I hide it. Because when I am jonesing for chocolate, I am really jonesing for chocolate, you know? I am the mother in this house and don’t I deserve chocolate for putting up with everyone? I can quit any time I want! I’ll quit for the New Year and get in shape…you’ll see! What’s the big deal?

See? Emotional.  Hershey bars should not be that powerful of an emotional trigger. Also, while I’m being real here, hoarding food is a related compulsion I struggle with. But that is a blog post for another day.

Do I remember hiding the chocolate? Not really. It is something I did  kind of automatically. Go to the store for milk and eggs, pick up an extra chocolate to hide.  When I get especially stressed out, I go buy more chocolate at the store and sooth myself the Hershey Way and it seems harmless enough. Except like some people can’t “just eat one” potato chip, I almost never “just eat one” chocolate bar. Here’s the secret: The second bar I like to enjoy in private – and that’s really embarrassing to admit. Sometimes it is more than two.  I’m ashamed, even for my husband to know. Why does all this seem SO familiar?

Ah, yes.

Right before I got sober, I was terribly sick. The first glass of wine, I would drink in front of other people, but the second….seventh…..tenth? I “enjoyed” those alone, ashamed. I had boxes of wine stashed in secret places all over the house, because there was never enough. What if I ran out? Dang it, I am an adult and it’s just WINE for Pete’s sake, and don’t I deserve a little something for putting up with everyone? I can quit any time I want! I’ll quit for the New Year and stay sober, you’ll see! What’s the big deal?

The big deal was that I’d forgotten that the void requiring filling was not shaped like a bottle or box of Chardonnay. The hole is not shaped like a Hershey bar. It is a God-shaped place that, in times of stress and need and worry and peace, can only be filled by Christ. It’s not “just a treat” if you are tormented by it.

Run first to Him, and away from things done in secret. There is no shame in Him; no room for condemnation. Love conquers sick thoughts #’s one through one-billiion.  Love fills up the void, and I know that already. That’s the thing about life on this planet: I will struggle with SOMETHING until the undertaker is throwing dirt in my face. You will too. But oh, the grace that God offers us strugglers!

That – the sweetest of things – I don’t need to hoard or hide.  It flows constantly and with such force that it spills over into other spaces and can’t be contained. Kind of like my belly over the waistband of my jeans right now. (Hey, it’s important to keep a sense of humor!)

Jesus as the centerpiece of my life, First. Jesus consulted before food or drink or even friends – renewable comfort, available. I just have to ask for it.

Now, that is truly divine.