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Posts Tagged ‘lessons’

Domestic Terrorists, Serial Killers, Mass Murders, and Dieters…

August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

What gets you going in the morning?

What makes you want to keep going when you know other people would give up?

What makes you wake up one morning and just do something that forever changes your life?

What motivates people to take action?

I live in South Eastern Wisconsin.  Central Wisconsin had long been the location for one of the state’s most notorious serial killers, Ed Gein.  Between 1987 and 1991, Milwaukee played host to our most prolific serial killer, Jeffery Dahmer.  In the city of Delavan earlier this summer Ambrosio Analco shot and killed his girlfriend, two of their children (a third was shot in the chest but didn’t die), his girlfriend’s sister and a friend before killing himself, making him the latest mass murder in South Eastern Wisconsin.  And Just yesterday morning Wade Michael Page walked into the Sikh temple in Oak Creek and killed five people, including one police officer, before he was shot and killed, making him Wisconsin’s first recognized domestic terrorist.

This has gotten me wondering.  What is it that makes a person wake up one day and decide to do something?  To dramatically change their lives?  What is the motivation?

The broadest definition of motivation is a desire to do something.  That’s pretty broad and doesn’t really explain why people will seemingly one day just up and do something.  Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still widely used to explain why people do things.  I don’t think it adequately explains why people just suddenly one day decide that today is the day.  Then again, I’m not a psychologist so I could be wrong.

Let us leave the dramatic behind though.  Murder, sometimes just can’t be explained.  Some people are broken and for them it must seem, at least in the moment, that they are making perfectly rational, logical decisions.  No, let’s talk about something perhaps more positive.

Dieters.  More specifically the person who after a lifetime of being fat suddenly one day just changes everything about their life  so that they can become the thin person people never thought they could be.  You know, the fat girl in high school who when she shows up at the 5 or 10 year reunion looks like a super model out of the pages of Vogue.  Or the fat, dumpy, nerdy guy who drops a hundred pounds, goes to the gym and gets in fantastic shape.  When asked they usually give an answer like, “One day I just woke up and decided I needed to do something about the way I looked and felt.  It was all for me.”

Was it really?

Is that what truly motivated them?

Or was there somewhere back in their mind, hidden behind all the altruism and positive self-help platitudes, a seething desire to just show the people who tormented , ignored, or belittled them that they were wrong.  And really is that such a bad motivator?

Really, isn’t it OK at times to say, “Screw You!  You didn’t think I was good enough for you when I was fat.  And now that I’ve shown you I’m not defined by my weight, now you want to be my friend?  Well screw you, we’re not friends.”  Isn’t that a valid motivational reason?

I myself am fat.  I’m working on changing that, but I’ve been thinking about what is my real motivation.  Yes, yes, health, longevity, better able to deal with moving around and all that, but is that my REAL reason?  A little history I suppose is in order.

I was a thin youth.  I mean really thin, and I suppose at that age one might have expected me to be a very attractive man as I grew older.  I had some traumatic events happen in my youth though that I guess subconsciously made me want to hide and withdraw from the world.  Well as a youth in elementary, middle, and high schools, you really can’t withdraw.  You’re going to have contact with people no matter what.  As a result though, I started to eat poorly, gain weight, and kind of let myself go.  It was never too bad, because I was still active and therefore didn’t really get to be too huge.  I was big enough though as a teen for my father, who could be verbally very cruel, tell me he was going to have to have me fitted for a bra.

I would have to say that this is one of my first “Screw You” motivators.  I have a higher fat content in my chest because I was put on an estrogen precursor in my teens as a way to deal with my eczema.  Something that I should have been on and monitored for about 3 months I was on for 4 years completely unmonitored.  Is there any wonder I looked like I was developing feminine breasts, though they really weren’t that big, I also have thick pectoral muscles under the fat because I was a wrestler and Olympic  power lifter, which can make them look much bigger than they really are.

To say I was self-conscious would be an understatement.  With the trauma that motivated me to withdraw, and my father’s less than kind and inspirational attitude toward me, I wasn’t very outgoing.  I went to college, met a girl, quit school and moved out and got a job that didn’t leave me much time for anything other than work.  Somewhere in there I decided to start working out again, just like when I was younger.  I got pretty darn buff and was even considering becoming a body builder.  Then I went back to school to finish my degree.  At first it was part-time, which meant I had to cut back on my workouts.  Then the food pyramid started to be pushed as the ultimate way to eat right by all the body building magazines, if I may say a huge fucking mistake, and I decided to go to school full-time while still working full-time.  Bad eating, little sleep, deep mental scars that hadn’t been fully explored, and lots of stress lead to giving up me gaining weight.  And I gained it quickly.  Even though I was still trying to workout at least 3 days a week I gained a hundred pounds in less than a year.  By time I finished my degree, I had stopped working out all together and my weight was over 350 pounds.

Getting my degree eased the stress somewhat and my weight gain slowed.  It didn’t stop, but it slowed.  Six years later when we were getting ready to adopt our daughter, I was closing in on 400 pounds and I wasn’t happy.  My weight stayed steady for several years, I guess the stress was easing, or I had hit the point where my body just wouldn’t let me gain any more.  In those years though I got some I guess I have to say odd information directed at me.

We had a friend visit us.  I don’t know what she was expecting.  I’m not sure at that point and especially at this point in my life I really care what she expected.  But at some point in the week she confided in my wife (the very cute girl who somehow took a shine to me in college) that I wasn’t the kind of guy she was looking for.  That’s OK, I wasn’t even thinking along those lines anyway, but nice to know.

A few years later at a party, I was talking to a female friend and her then boyfriend, now fiance, soon to be husband, and she said something very similar.  She added that it was specifically because of my weight.  Once again, nice to know, but I wasn’t really interested in her that way either.

It’s now a couple of years later.  I’ve since lost about 70 pounds, but I’m still just over 300 and finding it hard to stay motivated to do the right things.  My major downfalls right now are working out and getting enough sleep.  I do eat much better.  No longer do I bother indulging in fast food, and I use to adore Burger King.  I’ve given up wheat and breads pretty much completely except for our once a week pizza night.  I had gone gluten-free for a while, but I really didn’t like the substitutes.  So six days a week I’m completely paleo and Friday night we have pizza.  For over a year I’ve been struggling with breaking that 300 mark so we’ve joined a gym and are now trying to get  back into the habit of working out at least 3 days a week.  We haven’t made a full week of it yet, but we will.

Anyway, this all leads me back to my main point.  Motivation.  Is Screw You a good motivator?  I think in my world it just might be.  Yes I know all the reasons why I should lose weight and get in shape.  But when it comes right down to it I really want to tell (metaphorically) those people who put me where I am or told me I wasn’t good enough for them the way I am, “Screw You!”

New Research Every Day…

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

On a daily basis I read articles, see news stories, hear pundits, experts and crackpots, telling me what to eat.

Eat these five foods to prevent cancer.

Foods to eat now to jump start your weightloss.

End obesity now, eat this.

Prevent heart disease by eating more of this.

New foods high in antioxidants.

I’ve always believed that food is good medicine, but this is taking it way too far.  The way some of these read you would expect that the FDA to have them classified as drugs.  Some of them, if the claims are to be believed, should require a prescription.  Other ones you would think should be illegal, classified as a drug.  Wouldn’t be funny to see the police busting down doors and hauling people away for having an ounce of pomegranate seeds.

The biggest problem I see with all these kind of articles and stories is that they all seem to espouse the same thing.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Eat even more whole grain foods because these are the magic foods that will make you thin, live forever, and keep you from having any kind of cancer.  While I can get behind the eating of more vegetables, I can’t agree with eating more grain.

You see, the plagues of the modern age, heart disease, cancer, obesity, began long ago when man started farming and domesticated grains.  And its only gotten worse through genetic manipulation of grain plants, making the yield greater.   Dr. William Davis, discussed this in his book Wheat Belly.  He says that there is a certain physical shape, that of the belly being distended and bloated, that he sees in his practice that indicated a diet high in wheat and grain products.  Dr. Davis, is a cardiologist by the way.  His patients are predominantly over weight, heart disease sufferers.  I, like he, see the correlation between a diet high in grains, whole or otherwise, and obesity and heart disease.  Yet the USDA and FDA still push the company line that grain is good.

The best advise I can give for people wanting to lose weight, prevent heart disease, and all the problems of aging.  Don’t eat grains.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas…

December 24, 2011 6 comments

No need to bring us some figgy pudding.

This afternoon I made my own.

For those not familiar with this dessert, its the old English  pastry sung about in the song We Wish You A Merry Christmas.  By US standards, its not really a pudding.  Its more of a dense cake.

While the recipe was good, and produced an acceptable pudding/cake.  I wasn’t completely satisfied with the texture and flavor.  I would have liked something that kept the density of this one yet somehow seemed lighter in texture but richer in flavor.  I would also have liked to make it paleo friendly or at the very least gluten free.  This being my first attempt at it though I followed the recipe, there is time for tweeking before next Christmas.  I’ll have to see what I can do over the year.  Off hand, sugar can be replaced with honey and or maple syrup.  Its really the flour that will cause the most problems.  Nut flours don’t hold together as well, and coconut flour might be way too dense.  I’m going to have to experiment on different flour combinations.  I’m sure I’ll get it figured out for next year though.  So periodically I’ll post the test results.

What I’ve Learned Going Gluten Free So Far…

October 20, 2010 1 comment

I’ve spent a life time doing things the old fashioned way. Flour is used for making a roux. Which is then used to thicken sauces. Now though I don’t have the luxury of doing the same old, same old. I have to learn how to use other ingredients, some of which I’ve only seen on packaged food labels.

This is going to be an ongoing segment here on Fine Art Food where I talk about the things I’m learning. So let’s get into it shall we.

First off, fear is transitory and cannot be avoided. Anytime we try something new it will be scary. I don’t care if you’re jumping out of an airplane or cooking. First times are scary. Embrace it, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll grant you, jumping out of a perfectly good plane you could die, but I’m talking about cooking here, so give me a little leeway. So don’t be afraid. If it doesn’t turn out, toss it and start over.

Lesson number two, and you’ll see why I put these together in a moment. It takes a lot less potato starch to thicken a sauce than it takes flour. Actually about half as much. I learned this when I made a cheese sauce. Now like most sauces cheese sauce starts with a roux. Not using wheat flour I grabbed the potato starch and butter. Three teaspoons of butter went into the pan followed by three teaspoons of potato starch. Melted and combined well I started to add cream. It was looking extremely thin, and I panicked. I added another tablespoon of starch. Suddenly it became way too thick! More cream! More cream! Still too thick! Running out of cream! MILK! Grab the milk, that will help. It was still too thick and was now looking like mashed potatoes. I was ready to scream, toss it pan and all, call it a loss, and order pizza, when suddenly the temperature came up in the pan. At just before the boil, the potato starch relaxed and melted into the milk and cream. I had a smooth, creamy sauce. Now to add the cheese.

Lesson learned, use half as much potato starch as flour and be patient. It needs time and heat to do its thing. Needless to say I ended up with far more cheese sauce than I needed. But I learned a couple things.

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