Thursday, August 8, 2013

food, France, and finances

It's been more than three months now since I began eliminating processed foods, sugars and breads from my diet.  The first few weeks were the most difficult (and, honestly, it is still challenging sometimes)... but the experience overall has definitely been worth it.  I have felt empowered and healthy, truly healthy, inside.  I have lost inches, pounds, and everyone tells me I look much thinner and healthier.  I had no idea that the effects of a healthier diet would be so noticeable, for me on the inside as well as for others on my outside.

Recently, (as mentioned in the post below), I went home to visit my parents for a few weeks.  It was a great respite from the exciting spring we had as a family, being asked by our landlord to move and then told we could stay for one more year (after I packed up half the house).  I also volunteered to be the treasurer for my son's select soccer team (26 boys) after a long deliberation by my son about whether to play select or premier soccer this year.  I also volunteered to take charge of fundraising for my children's elementary school as a member of the PTA executive board, and began attending meetings and trainings.

(My little 4-year old niece took this picture of me during our family reunion.  My face/hair looks crazy but it shows my figure a little bit...)

After my husband took his boards and began his fellowship, I returned home with my kids... against my better judgement, digging my heels in, but fully recognizing that I needed to return to "reality" and my husband (I missed him so much!!).  What I didn't expect was the realization that I had charged an enormous amount of money to our credit card while away.  Our transmission burned up during our 20-hour drive and we spent almost $5,000.00 replacing it in our 2004 Odyssey (I know - not cool, or probably wise!), and because my husband had no income during the month of July, (the fellowship program gave the fellows a month off in order to study for their medical boards), I used our credit card for the month... to live.

The efforts of the last three months to figure out how to overcome my (previous, deeply set) emotional eating habits, to intentionally feed my body and soul, to master my cravings and irresponsible eating, to truly enjoy food but not be controlled by it, all suddenly seemed irrelevant.  The financial stress that quickly crept over me and throughout my being gradually took over during the first two days home... and I began to eat.  Granted I was eating healthy... peanut butter with apples or bananas, walnuts and strawberries on red leaf lettuce, brie cheese on healthy crackers, eggs with tomatoes and pepper jack cheese, homemade black bean burgers, delicious brownies made of walnuts, oatmeal, dates and cocoa, fruit and vegetables, etc. For two days I ate... and ate and ate.  Yesterday by 4:00 pm I was absolutely sick.  I felt awful.  I realized that I had allowed myself to give in to the comfort that food offers, the addictiveness of eating delicious food to satisfy stress and the bodily cravings associated with dealing with stress.

This morning I grabbed a book that I borrowed from my mom's bookshelf when I was there: French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano.  (I have an fascination with France and always have... I studied French in college and have dreamed of going there (or living there!) ever since.)  It has been delightful to read.  There are so many wise tidbits... like:

To be successful, " have to be ready to embrace pleasure and individual happiness as your goals."
"A French woman's secret is mainly in her head.  It is one thing to identify your offenders, quite another thing to manage them."
"Novelty is a powerful distraction.  Choose quality over quantity: pick things in season."
"A walk not only uses calories, it can be wonderfully meditative, clearing your head and making you less vulnerable to eating for psychological comfort."
"Deprivation is the mother of failure.  Any program that your mind interprets as punishment is one your mind is bound to rebel against."
"He (her physician) was telling me to be the master of my pleasures as well as my restraint."
"Three months of discovering new things and getting to know your body better is a kindness to yourself that will continue to be repaid for years to come."

This is one of my favorite parts of the book so far:

"At least half of our bad eating and drinking habits are careless, they grow out of inattention to our true needs and delights.  We don't notice what we are consuming, we are not alert to flavors--we are not really enjoying our indulgences, and therefore we think nothing of them and overdo it.  Perhaps you have given up caring about fashion.  Or trying other new things?  It maybe easy for a wife, mother, and full-time worker to neglect pleasure; perhaps a part of you even thinks it's selfish.  But you must understand there is nothing noble in failing to discover and cultivate your pleasures... You owe it to your loved ones as well as yourself to know and pursue your pleasures.  And since everyone's taste and metabolism are unique, you must pay attention to yourself-- to what delights you-- so you can tailor your system and preferences.  It's a lifelong commitment, but it promises a lifetime of good health and contentment."

I am only half way into the book but I felt that I had to share some of these tidbits that inspired me to step back and evaluate my current psychological health and make a plan for being successful in my desire to live healthily, happily and fully. 


From A Doctors Wife said...

I remember hearing the author speak on the Oprah show long long ago and always wanted to read the book. Maybe I will. I eat for comfort and don't give nearly enough thought to it! A transmission is unfortunate.

MamaMark said...

Just ran across your blog. My husband is in his 2nd year of medical school and we just had our 2nd son. I'm also a stay at home mom and about to start up school again. So encouraging reading through your blogs and seeing how you handle going through everything with kids! I too go to food when stressed, I may have to read that book :)

KJ said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now, and it's been encouraging for me. My husband just started year 2 of residency. I can totally relate about emotional eating- I'm currently trying to get that area of my life in order, too! I'm working on portion control, less sugar (hard- because that's my weakness!), and more exercise. Best wishes for you and your family during fellowship. :)