Sunday, April 27, 2014

Journey – Breaking the Cycle, Part 3B

April 27, 2014
Day 5 of South Beach Phase 1
Starting weight (4/23/2013): 195
Today’s Weight:  193
Loss/Gain (since start):  -2
Breakfast: Canadian bacon, mushroom, Feta cheese, sweet peppers, onions omelet.
Lunch: Salmon patty with baby carrots and Hummus
Supper:  Cobb salad with a homemade poppy seed sauce.
Snacks:  Baby carrots, Healthy Choice Fudge Ice Cream Bar (100 calories), 30 pistachios, and cucumbers.
OK, so I am essentially spirit.  My essence lives forever.  All other things are temporary—including this body I inhabit, this body that literally weighs me down.  I am grateful for all I have and don’t have.  I have a purpose for living.  And last, but not least, I know absolutely that I am loved unconditionally.   As a practical matter, what does this mean?
Less than a year ago, I couldn’t say that I was grateful for much.  Most of all things I have read about happiness are that people that are happy are thankful.  They truly appreciate what they have.  Well, what has changed that now I am thankful?  I learned from Rhonda Byrne in her book, The Magic, a trick.  (I am not recommending the book.  Byrne’s focus is to use the “magic” of gratitude to get more.  Her premise is a total contradiction, but the exercises were worth doing to increase my awareness of just how blessed I am.)  Everyday write down ten things for which you are thankful.  Each day might have a few repeats, but for the most part, each day brings with it a new list of things for which to be thankful.  This morning’s list went like this:
  1. I am thankful for my wife because she has been very helpful and supporting in getting healthy and losing weight.  She’s a fantastic cook, and a great friend.
  2. I am thankful for my financial stability.
  3. I am thankful for my mortgage free house.   That frees up around $500/month for other pressing expenses.
  4. I am thankful for my step-daughter and her son.  I learn so much from them.
  5. I am thankful for my spirit guides who have been so faithful to me in spite of my many, many failures.
  6. I am thankful for my two vehicles so we don't have to rely on others to take us shopping.
  7. I am thankful for our computers and our internet connection.  There is so much we can do with them.
  8. I am thankful for my Nook that holds 237 books that I don’t have to dust.
  9. I am thankful for my dogs that give me so much joy.
  10. I am thankful for the trials that have ground me and honed me into a better person.
I don’t have to remind myself of my purpose.  It is with me 24/7.  I have three lovely people and 2 sweet dogs for whom I am responsible.  ‘Nuff said, there.
Sometimes, when I am dealing with failure, I learn to forgive myself as I have been forgiven by those who love me unconditionally.  I don’t need guilt burdens.  I have plenty else with which to contend.  Right now, my focus is to get to the root of my eating disorder and correct it.  I need energy and time to do that.  I can’t waste time or energy beating myself up.  I will expend time and energy to get back on track.
What other changes have I made in my daily routine?
First, I have stopped watching TV while I eat.  Thich Nhat Hanh notes that people that watch TV while they eat will eat more because they are not aware of their consumption.  I found that the quiet and the pleasant conversation with my wife is much more relaxing.
Second, I am actually trying to remember to take time to chew my food, and be totally aware of what I am doing.  Thich Nhat Hanh calls it “mindfulness.”  Being totally focused on what we are doing.  Our mind should not be romping around in the  fields past memories, hurts, and joys.  Our mind should not be trying to predict what tomorrow will bring.  Our focus should be on eating, tasting, savoring.  And by the way, when I was younger and knew everything, I poo-pooed the idea that focusing on one’s breathing would be useful.   It is now the most useful tool I have in my repertoire of tools for calming myself.  I can even drop my blood pressure by 30 points with a good focused breathing session.
Third, I am blogging.  I am evaluating the reasons for making the blog public.  I have some decisions to make in that regard.
A note about Phase 1 of the South Beach diet:  It is designed to break your addiction to carbohydrates.  It is a VERY low carbohydrate menu of foods we can eat.  Yesterday, I had to clean the gutters and down spouts for our townhome.  I do the neighbor’s unit as well, because she has no one to do it for her.  Her basement floods if the gutters overflow. I forgot how much of an impact a low carb diet has on one’s energy.  It was less than an hour of work, carrying the ladder, and the blower around.  But, it exhausted me for the rest of the day.  A word to the wise: be aware that if you are doing a South Beach Phase 1 diet, your energy level is very low.  You may even get dizzy if you attempt anything too strenuous.
I learned today that carrots have sugar and are not part of Phase 1 foods allowed.  I will definitely rely more on the cucumbers for my snacks.
Be Peace
Be Love

Journey – Breaking the Cycle, Part 3A

The other day, I mentioned that I had identified several reasons, triggers, or habits that bring me to eating more than what I need.  Such information is only interesting at best if you have no plan for changing those behaviors.  But, until I can change those behaviors permanently, I have to do something to stop the weight gain before it gets even more unmanageable.  So that is where the South Beach Diet comes in. Dr. Arthur Agatston, a heart surgeon, developed a well-rounded healthy diet for his heart patients.  Coincidentally, the diet also is perfect for people that are suffering from diabetes.  Over a year ago, before Ruth and I started on the diet, my doctor told me that the blood tests indicate that I was pre-diabetic.  At the time he told me, I knew I would soon be on the South Beach diet.  I did not tell him of the plan, and I am sure he was somewhat disappointed in lack of concern.  The last time I visited him, he was absolutely giddy with my test results.  I had lost 80 pounds, my cholesterol was well within limits, my blood pressure was down far enough that he cut my medications in half, and I was no longer pre-diabetic.

That’s a lot to be happy about.  But, my doctor knows, I know, and Ruth knows, that the job is not complete.  As long as we live, we will have to deal with the same issues that brought me to the brink of being diabetic.  I had done nothing to identify or make the changes internally that would help make the condition lasting.  It would be just a matter of time before my old habits would drag me right back, not to a condition as bad as in the past, but WORSE than in the past.  That is the nature of the untethered beast.  Fortunately, to see this sixteen pound gain in weight was enough to alarm me.  I really, really don’t want to feel as bad as I did over a year ago.  So this time I will take advantage of this period of relatively good health and endeavor to break the cycle that I have submitted to in the past.

I have been on a focused spiritual quest for many years, getting increasingly focused in the last six years.  Much of the foundational work required for internal change has been done to various degrees.  I may be getting down to levels that are going to be the most difficult, the most challenging, and possibly the most dangerous I have ever been before.  It may be at this point that I’m going to lose readers, if indeed, anyone is following this.  Our sojourn on Earth is spiritual.  Some of you have heard it said, and I have read it time and again in many books, we are spirits having a human experience The Tao Te Ching says that all that changes is not real.  Only that which persists is real.  My body will die and return to the ground.  My essence is spirit.  My spirit does not change.

In my first post, I mentioned I have a cadre of spirit guides, teachers, and masters, as well as physical teachers and mentors.  Some of the discussion from this point on, must include the spiritual components of this journey.   I have three things going for me now that will help me succeed at breaking this cycle:

  1. I have gratitude.
  2. I have purpose.
  3. I know absolutely without a doubt that I am loved.

Gratitude.  Not long ago, I started reading a book called The Magic by Rhonda Byrne (  I absolutely do not agree with her approach to gaining wealth, but she does lead the reader through exercises that are designed to make one aware of the many things we have for which to be thankful.  She insists the results of the exercises are “magic,” but I am convinced, the results are a natural outcome of gratitude.  When you know how truly blessed you are, you won’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself.  The first thing I do each day is identify ten things for which I am thankful.  Each day has to be a new list, with only a few repeated things from prior days.  This exercise puts me into a positive mindset with which to confront the rest of the day.  (By the way, I haven’t finished the book, though I plan on it, and I would not recommend it because of her emphasis on “magic.”)  Knowing how fortunate I am keeps me from despair.  Knowing how fortunate I am, gives me strength to stand up and face the trials of the day.  Knowing how fortunate I am keeps me from slipping into a “victim” mentality.

Purpose.  Believe me, not too many years ago, I began to doubt that I had any reason to remain in this physical plane.   I was not contemplating suicide, but I did petition my spirit guides to let me leave this dimension.  They made it very clear soon afterward in a very emotionally intense dream that I had purpose, and they let me know precisely what it is.  I have accepted that gladly.  Knowing I have purpose makes all the difference in the world on how I look at each day.  (yeah, I know, now I’m getting too weird for some of you.   That’s OK.  Maybe this isn’t meant for you.  You have to choose your way, and I would be the last to try to convince you to follow my way.)

I am loved.   I have struggled with how to explain this.  I have finally decided to simply say that I know that I am loved and accepted 100 percent, unconditionally.  Don’t forget, I am essentially spirit.  That part of me is forever, and the love I receive is, not for the part of me that dies.   Knowing this makes all the difference in the world, too.  Mahatma Gandhi said it this way: “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”  Unconditional love is what gives us that freedom.  I am free to experiment and fail, as well as succeed.

Part of being loved, is loving yourself.  I honestly have to struggle with this all the time. I know me, and what I see, I don’t always like, much less, love.  I remind myself that I am spirit.  Even though I may not feel or see the value I have, I know that I am unconditionally loved.  It makes that part of me that I don’t like, easier to swallow.

(Continue to the next blog)

Be Peace.

Be Love.


Friday, April 25, 2014

The Journey -- Breaking the Cycle, Part 2

April 25, 2014

Day 3 of South Beach Phase 1

Starting weight (4/23/2013): 195

Today’s Weight:  193

Loss/Gain (since start):  -2

Breakfast: Low fat cottage cheese omelet with a special spaghetti sauce.

Lunch: Romaine lettuce with a homemade poppy seed sauce, and a Chicken sausage.

Supper:  Turkey Burgers, Romaine Lettuce with a homemade poppy seed sauce.

Snacks:  Baby carrots, Healthy Choice Fudge Ice Cream Bar (100 calories)

Well, you’ll notice this morning’s “stats.” Some experts say don’t weigh yourself every day.  Some say it’s OK.   I think it is a matter of attitude.  I expect fluctuations.  I expect days when I’ve appeared to gain, and some days when it appears I’ve lost a bunch.  Our bodies have different things to deal with from day to day.  Some days you hold water for some obscure reason.  Some days you are dehydrated.  Some days you just need a good bowel movement.  Some days you don’t.  I generally weigh at the same time every day, usually stripped, usually after a bowel movement.  That way, I can see trends, and if the trend is down (when I’m trying to lose weight), I’m happy.

On April 23, I weighed myself with clothes on (no shoes).  My clothes weigh just shy of two pounds, so I adjusted the original 197 pounds down to 195.    I’m not going to concern myself with fractions of pounds.  Just the nearest rounded number will work fine for me.

Speaking of dehydration:  I work hard to avoid it.  I drink plenty of water (now that we have filtered water).  It helps with digestion, AND more importantly, it keeps my hunger in check.  That is, at least where I’m concerned, often when I think I’m hungry, I am actually thirsty.  I have learned to drink water when I think I’m hungry.  If the hunger persists after a few minutes, then it could be hunger.

Even so, I’ll have to also tell you that there are times I want to eat even though I know my stomach is full, and I have had plenty of water.  I’ve identified some of those times.  It helps to do that, because it makes me more aware of what is happening. 

I “get hungry” when I’m emotionally stressed.

I “get hungry” when I’ve been intensely involved in something and suddenly come to stopping point.

I “get hungry” when I’m watching TV and the program breaks for advertising.

I “get hungry” when I’ve read too long.

I “get hungry” when I have something to do that I don’t want to do.

You may see a pattern there.  That’s what I look for.  Patterns.  Habits.  I did not teach myself to watch for this.  I learned to do this from one of my mentors, Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life (


Most of my eating is habitual with some triggers.  Emotional stress is a trigger to eat.  I want relief from the stress, and somehow I’m convinced that food can give me relief.  It rarely does, but that’s beside the point.  Coming to a sudden stop with nothing to do is a trigger.  I try to fill the “dead” time with food.  Facing some task I don’t want to do is a trigger.  I take my food and run away.  Advertising on TV: is it habit or is it a trigger?  Doesn’t matter.  I just know I have to be aware that it is a time I run to the fridge.

About today’s meals: My wife, Ruth made the spaghetti sauce from scratch—all fresh veggies, herbs, and tomatoes and some chicken sausage chopped in. It is delicious!!!    Ruth also made the poppy seed salad dressing.  Ruth spends on the average around 30 minutes for each meal preparation (not counting planning).  I wash the dishes.  It’s a fair trade in labor.  She enjoys cooking.  I enjoy cleaning (I’m OCD).

The Healthy Choice Fudge Ice Cream bar is only 100 calories.  Yesterday we both tried a frozen yogurt product with a caramel filling.  It tasted great, but rather than satisfy a sweet tooth, it made us crave more.  I quickly placed the remaining yogurt treats into a freezer bag and stored them away in our freezer in the basement.  Out of sight, out of mind.  We don’t need anything that drives us to eat more.

Ruth makes most things from scratch.  We use some processed foods, but when it comes to veggies, they are fresh from the store.  One tends to think that living healthy is more expensive, but we have found that steering away from processed foods is cheaper because we get more nutrition for the buck with natural foods.  We aren’t driven to eat as much, because the food is better for us and leaves us with fewer cravings.  Our food bill is about the same if not less than what it was before we started eating healthy.  We aren’t health food nuts by any stretch of the imagination.  But we are enjoying healthier lives because of our food choices.
Be Peace
Be Love

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Journey -- Breaking the Cycle Part 1

Look, Mom, I’m a yoyo!  My weight goes up, my string gets wound up, and I toss, and the weight goes down.  That’s the struggle I have with food.  I am obese.  I have dieted, lost weight, and within a short period, put it all back on, time and again.

 I have an addictive personality.  It is easy for me to get attached to things and use them to my detriment.  Many years ago I was a smoker.  I smoked four packs per day.  I tried hundreds of times to stop.  I couldn’t…until my life changed very drastically.  Long story short, I decided to end my miserable life.  I quit my engineering job, sold everything I could except my tent and my motorcycle, gave all my guitars and PA system to friends, and set out for the great Southwest on my motorcycle.  I quit smoking.  I no longer had the money to buy cigarettes; I no longer had all of those triggers that kept dragging me back to “just one more cigarette.” (By the way, I didn’t commit suicide.)  Can I do the same thing with food? 

Well, I can’t stop eating. But…I can change things so I don’t have all those triggers that send me off to raid the fridge.  But eating disorders are much deeper than that.  There are triggers deep down in my psyche driving me.  While I might be able to control some triggers, I can’t control them all.  I have to get to the root of it all.  I need help.

My wife, Ruth, and I started on the South Beach Diet over a year ago.  It was reasonably easy to do, being so overly obese that I had to do something…I was desperate.  Over the next year, we both lost eighty pounds.  We felt great!  For several months, we’d catch our weight slowly going up, and we’d counter it by going back to one of the early diet phases until we could get the weight down, again.  But, dieting gets old.  While Ruth was able to manage her weight to a reasonable degree, I exploded into a subdued feeding frenzy.  I put on eighteen pounds.  I feel it when I tie my shoes.  I feel it when I fasten my pants.  I feel it when I walk the dog.  I refused to weigh myself, knowing that it would confirm what I already knew.  I weighed yesterday afternoon—197 pounds with clothing on.  Fortunately, Ruth had already started us back on Phase One of the South Beach Diet.

I want this time to be different, though.  I’m tired of the cycle.  I’m tired of dieting.  I want change.  But I know that the change has to come from within, way deep down…perhaps in places I don’t even know how to get to, or honestly, maybe I don’t even want to get to them.  But I’m going to do it, none-the-less.

I have mentors and teachers that will help me.  I have Thich Nhat Hahn,  Dalai Lama, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Arthur Agatston  (South Beach Diet)  available in book form, and last, but by no means least, my wife, Ruth.  They have given me much in the way of guidance over the years as I deal with another character flaw.  I’m a recovering jerk.

I have tools.  I will mention my wife as the first tool.  She knows food, and she knows how to prepare it.  She can make armadillo taste like chocolate ice cream, I think.  She studies and works hard to prepare the healthy foods in great variety, and limited portions.  I could not begin to eat healthy without her dedication and help.

My second tool is meditation.   Meditation helps me order things in my mind.  It helps in ways too numerous to mention here.  I meditate at least 3 times a week, but more than that usually.   I will talk about my meditations more in future posts.

My third tool is my spiritual cadre, my spirit guides, my spirit teachers, and my spirit masters (masters as in masters of the trade).  I consult with them more often than I meditate.

My fourth tool is my dogs.  They exercise me, and they exorcise my bad moods.

Just a caveat.  I don’t pretend to have any answers.  What works for me may or may not work for someone else.  What doesn’t work for me may work for someone else.  More important than methods is the change I hope that comes out of this.  If anyone can take courage from these journals I will believe I have fulfilled the goal.  Obesity is an illness with its roots entangled deep down in the psyche.  This promises to be a revealing journey for me.

By the way, all work and no play makes me cranky.  I'm going to do a little more reading for fun.  I'm starting with the second book in a series written by Billie Jo Williams, Destiny of Dragons.  I have enjoyed her first in that series, and started the second one of the nine novels.  I might also pick up where I left of on the Dresden Files.  Looking forward to this.

Be Peace.

Be Love.