Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eating Cake, and Calmness

Last year on my son's 18th birthday, as always, I made his favorite chocolate layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting from scratch. I inhaled the lovely sweet cocoa smell of the glossy brown batter as I mixed it as I had for 17 years prior. But something was different. I didn't taste the batter. Not one lick.

I enjoyed the warmth of the house filling with the wonderful essence of that fudgey cake baking and cooling, and smiled as I released each layer from its pan as I had for more than a decade. But something was different. I didn't run my finger along the pans to catch the moist chocolatey crumbs to eat before plunging them into a sink of soapy water. Not one crumb.

I filled the bowl with butter and cocoa and sugar and whipped it into a rich buttercream that would frost and fill the cooled cake, just as I had for nearly every year of my son's life. But something was different. I didn't give the kids the beaters and then claim the bowl and spatula for myself. No, not one taste.

And when the cake was assembled, decorated, and placed on the table with candles and a song, I sliced thick pieces for everyone. But I did not have any myself. Not one taste.

What was different is that I was absolutely, 100% dedicated to doing Medifast properly and getting the weight off. I knew that is what I wanted to do. The weight had been falling off me... 15 pounds in March... and I wanted that to continue. I knew that even one taste of that birthday cake might be enough to set off major cravings, skyrocket my finally-stable blood sugar, and/or send me out of the mild ketosis state that makes Medifast easy. I didn't resent it, although I did feel a bit wistful and sad that for the first time ever I would not be partaking of my son's birthday cake. But I knew it was not about my mothering. I still put the same love and caring into the making of that cake as I always did. I still smiled and though happy thoughts about the day he came into my life and the wonderful times we have had as I made that cake. I was just fine having a Medifast brownie instead, just like I did a few months later on my own birthday.

Today, I will make the cake. I will taste the batter, I will savor the crumbs. I will have a finger-full of frosting. I will even have a very small slice of birthday cake with my family. Why? Because. Things have changed.

I am some 40ish pounds lighter than I was a year ago. I have struggled these last months but have not given up. I am still doing Medifast at the moment, while I wait for the word from my doctor about whether I need to drop soy from my diet because of the uterine issues discovered last week. I am tossing around alternate ideas in my head: switching to only whey-based Medifast foods? going back to calorie counting? going through Medifast transition now rather than waiting for my goal weight? I am not sure.

What I am sure of is that I am ready to be more 'normal.' Now, I know a lot of people think you can't 'be normal' or, perhaps more accurately, 'eat normally' once you have lost a large amount of weight without gaining it all back. That there always has to be diligence about every lick, bite, and taste. But I can't. I agree I can't go back to the crazy way I used to eat, but I just don't want my life to continue to be one giant food obsession. I just want to get up in the morning and have a couple of eggs or a bowl of oatmeal or a mango spinach smoothie. I just want to have my steak and veggies for dinner in a reasonable portion or pop a few strawberries in my mouth at the Farmer's Market without obsessing whether it is exactly the right amount and exactly how many calories I ingested. I just want to have a piece of cake on my son's birthday.

I am not sure how I will achieve this kind of normalcy and balance. I know my *mind* has been changing lately as I struggle. I understand what foods are dreams and which are reality. I know I want to nourish my body, and my health has to take priority over my desires. I know I want to be obsessed about something other than food and dieting.

So I drink Medifast shakes today, I have a small slice of cake, I eat my 5 ounces of steak and 1.5 cups of cooked broccoli for dinner. And I foster calmness in my eating and in my thoughts as I wait for more information from the doctors on Tuesday.


Andra said...

I'll never forget the day I was at the giant indoor farmer's market long before I adopted a healthier lifestyle. I noticed a woman reading every label and she kept exclaiming "SOY IS POISON" as she noticed it on the ingredient list. I thought it was pretty funny.

Fast forward to my early days of adopting a healthier lifestyle and playing around with dairy alternatives like soy milk and creamer. Soy made me crazy! It ruined my hormones, made it feel like I had PMS every minute of every day. I remembered that lady and she wasn't so funny. She was right! Soy is poison (for me anyway.)

If you're having uterine issues, eliminating soy may be a great place to start. I avoid it at all costs and am so much the better for it.

As an aside, enjoy the pleasures of baking and savor eating the cake. It won't break you. It won't make you gain it all back. It won't turn into a secret cake binge. You have come to far to allow that to happen.

PamL said...

You can have a piece of cake and not worry about gaining all 40 or 100 pounds back! You just can't have cake every day...or every other day. Maintaining a healthy weight is about making good choices...most of the time. Maybe you splurge today but then you are extra cautious for a few days after. But for goodness sakes, enjoy your son's birthday with him and your other kids!

Eschelle said...

I want to get on something like medifast hmmm... one day ...

Karen@WaistingTime said...

I can relate to you and the cake in many ways, including the desire for normalcy.

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a post with a very similar theme the other day. It is called "Brewing" and talked about the need for this weight loss project to quuit being the center of my existence. That as important as weight loss is, life is more than that.

I've struggled with that concept for months...and have gained weight in the process of trying to find balance (well, there was a major surgery involved, too, that didn't help.).

But there must be a level path for my feet that lets me walk thru life making the kind of healthy food choices that will get me to a healthy weight while...well..walking thru life with blinders off.


katie said...

Thanks for reminding me about obsessive thinking around food and dieting. I have opted out of that mode this year. No WW points, no OA et al. I am free. It made my life more about food which was the wrong direction to go in. What a relief to not have my head filled with food anymore. I live in moderation eating sensibly, reasonablly and it works. said...

I believe that we are given opportunities and placed in situations that will make us grow to ultimately become better people.

Fortunately for people who do not have a healthy relationship with food, like myself, it is a life long journey of learning. I don't know if I will ever be "normal" with food, but I am willing to find what my normal looks like, and with practice, master it. I believe you have that mind frame as well.

You have an amazing resilience and you should be proud of what you have accomplished so far.

Enjoy the cake. It's only once a year, right?

Forty Pound Sack said...

I think you're making a great choice. It's clearly time, for you, to do something different. I know you'll do great as you transition. You know yourself, and you know what to do. You'll do great.

Diandra said...

Yesterday, I read an article about how in the last decasdes people have been eating less and starving their bodies, consequently gaining weight faster if they ate more calories.

This may sound strange, but I think you are on to something... you cannot live normal as long as you have to battle food every moment. But I also think you have a hard struggle still ahead of you, learning to live with food (instead of "for" or "without"). Good luck! I'm sure you can make it!

Anonymous said...

It's so hard, isn't it? I'm currently 100% OP on Medifast, in my seventh week, and very happy with the results (nearly 30 pounds so far!) However, you are right... I would like to someday be able to eat normally.

Since my extra 100 pounds were gained not by food addiction/emotional eating/etc. but because of a medical condition (pituitary tumor that caused an endocrine disorder, confirmed by a team of doctors), I don't have issues with wanting to binge eat.

However, it would be nice to be able to eat ONE small serving of my delicious pasta al forno, or ONE reese's peanut butter egg, or a small serving of mashed potatoes or french fries a few times a year ... (as I used to when I weighed 270!)

When I was 18/19, I lost over 40 lbs. and kept them off for nearly 20 years... it was a constant struggle. I was fighting some evil genetics even then (my mother, my sister, and my paternal grandmother all weigh over 300 pounds.) I starved myself into anorexia, and denied myself treats all the time. Since I gained the 100 pounds in a year, I tried weight watchers repeated times, ate healthy and logged my food, ate clean, lots of produce and lean protein, but it didn't work.
I am thrilled that Medifast is working, but a little disheartened that even if I am able to reach my goal

I've been starving myself to some extent, or dieting, since I was 11 (and I am sure I was conscious of my weight before that.) I'm 47 now. I can't imagine ever being able to eat like a "normal" person.

I wish you all the best, you have been an amazing inspiration! I just want to get to a point where I am healthy (and where I feel good about having brain surgery, I have an unrelated brain tumor that needs to be removed.)

Hugs, Maria

theresa said...

great post. :)

Anonymous said...

I hear you on the topic of wanting to live life. I've been on Medifast since October (with a few weeks off here and there). There is not a day that passes where I am not thinking about dieting/food/calories. When I reach my goal, I don't want to count every calorie and obsess in an unhealthy way. It makes me feel crazy to be so focused on food Food FOOD (even if it is healthy food). I must find a happy medium.

I hope things are looking up for you, warm wishes.

PamL said...

The comments here are all great. I had one thought- we all have to try to remember that we need to "eat to live" not "live to eat". I think that somehow is the key- eat what we need to survive. After all, that's what food is for! If you have a treat now and then, fine. But when food takes over your life and it's all you think about, that's the trouble. I ask myself many times a day, "Do I really need this (whatever I am about to eat)?" Or am I really trying to fill some other needs (emotional/psychological/etc.) That helps me make better choices.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that most of the people who are telling you to get "real" are going by the name "Anonoymous".


Lyn said...

Deb Willbefree~

They are all the same person. They only *think* they are Anonymous :) In fact I usually delete posts from that particular commenter because they have a history of leaving bizzarre and sometimes insulting comments on my blog for quite some time. Which is why those "get real" comments are gone :)

bbubblyb said...

Yep, this is what we need to do, find a balance in our lives. I have come to realize it's about finding peace with food, that it doesn't have power over me like it use to. I also know, like you, at times (during PMS) is when it's tougher for me and I have to stay aware of what I'm putting in my mouth. But often now 15 months into maintaining my weight I do find I have more normal feelings towards food. It really is about finding happiness in our day to day lives and enjoying things even if it is a small piece of cake. I do believe we have found the inner strength to take us through our lives at a healthy weight be it 175 or 145. Hope you get good news from the doctor. *hugs*