Oh the stupidity of traditional celebration and the mutation of aforementioned

With various holidays creeping up – I am re-posting blogs from my website blog template to this blog which will eventually end up plugged in to the website…(I hate making websites and all that crap).

DECEMBER 30th 2009

I just feel terribly stupid. STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID!
Let me start from the beginning.

I was invited to my friends house for Xmas celebration evening. This was exciting, and fun, and something to look forward to as I dearly love my friends. So that’s that. (Other than that I couldn’t care less about the whole Xmas deal). Now –

I took it upon myself to contribute to the dinner and the food offer by making a traditional winter dish my mom used to make every winter (Sarma – cabbage rolls) and Baklava (the walnut pastry thingie – very eastern, often prepared in Croatian homes at holidays – likelihood of the influence of the Turks, but don’t take my word for it)…

The Sarma stuff is really (by my rough estimate) not *too* hard on the body as it is mostly cabbage and lean meat (as I cook it without much grease if you don’t count 100 grams of large cut smoked bacon which I subtly pick out of my plate anyway), however – BAKLAVA is another story. Bear with me.

On my way back from friends house, I thought about how I’ve learned to ‘celebrate’ things as a good little ‘tradition follower’ – while I might not buy into the religion aspect of the holiday etc, I have come to somewhat accept that people like to celebrate these things and that I shouldn’t really take a dump into their punch bowl – but allow somehow that we all rejoice in our differences and be good to each other – which in the end implies – we are good to ourselves as well. (That’s at least my somewhat non-crystallized definition of a celebration – when people do something that is really good/rewarding for them in honor of something or as a reward to selves for something etc..)

Now – what prompted this particular thinking path was how the evening went on.

Firstly – half of the guests did not make it to the gathering because they were stuck in bad weather in a bad car – so for the safety of their children they decided to turn around the block and stay at home. Understandable.

This meant I did not get to meet some members of my friends family which I was looking forward to – but it also meant that we had double (if not triple) the food we needed. Fine – I can freeze the leftovers – again, no big deal.

Evening was lovely – we had a blast opening each others presents, everyone seemed happy.

Then – at some point in the evening I quietly realized that we all seem to have made the same classical ‘mistake’ most people do at holiday dinner days. By the time we got together we must have gone a bit too hungry – because we all ate pretty quickly and got seconds or thirds and took a looong break before any of us actually mentioned the dessert. Again- that was fine with me – as I have realized over the course of the dinner that I am so congested I cannot taste anything anyway so the ‘no space for dessert’ did not bother me. I took a nibble of some fudge, realized it did not do much for me and I set it aside.
Come the later hour of the evening – I have noticed self trying to figure out a way of how to bend this *fullness* and somehow get that sensation of ” I think I’d like something sweet ” so that I could say – a-HA! why that is why I made my BAKLAVA! – which I would then offer to smiling loving friends, we would all eat some and be happy together. But – it did not quite happen that way.

I tried to eat a piece and the first bite tasted fantastic. Than – I took an extra fork, and cut a little corner and made my roommate try it. He liked it but was just as full as I was and couldn’t eat any more. Than I made my friends try a nibble – they were all too full to combat such a rich dessert. Anyway –

as the evening was getting wrapped up – my friend and I did some leftover trade and I have felt this strange thing….as if I felt guilty for having offered my friend the Baklava because all of the sudden I realized how much damn SUGAR this thing has in it.
Now – both my friend and I are hefty ladies – and from that aspect I know that any notion (in either of our minds) of ‘we should not eat this’ would readily get stomped by the ‘screw it – baklava or no baklava we are in the bananas already – give a piece ‘ (or something to that note).
But no – it was sort of a lucid moment (or whatever moment) – I have looked down at the pan which was missing only a few pieces (taken away in a doggy bag by my friend’s mother who had skipped out a few minutes earlier) and I watched my friends husband take a couple of slices into a plastic dish ‘for tomorrow’, after which he took a tiny piece just to either satisfy his curiosity or bless his nice self- be considerable towards me for having put all this effort into preparing a load of food that was not consumed. Again – either way – all fine with me. Except –
on the way back home, I have realized what ludicrous thing this ‘prepare a special traditional gift of Baklava for my friends’ is. I have, actually, under having the programming of ‘tradition=good=rewarding=something to be proud of and share’ made a dessert which contains over 2 pounds of sugar in one pan (if you don’t count the other carbs from Fillo dough used) which is in all actuality a MALLET on the pancreas (+ whatever else health hazard, there are plenty) and aside from a simple little “squirt” of spit in the corners of our mouths and a “mm yummy” confirmation of the entitled-for-yummy ego – does absolutely NOTHING positive for me and my friends and is, in all actuality, something downright poisonous. Not in one dose, but just like I wouldn’t toss in a teaspoon of rat poison into their rice, I shouldn’t have fed them this either. So, I am totally and without guilt tossing all the Baklava leftovers I brought home with me (as my friends are to make their own decisions – I will not make efforts to convince them of anything – while I *deeply hope* they decide to not eat it and throw it away as well.) No more cooking like this.

Now all this ties into another story of my roommate telling me my recently acquired food habits.

I am really trying to kick back on obviously bad foods and replacing them with protein shakes from HERBALIFE – NOT because I believe HERBALIFE is some miraculous solution to all life’s problems – but simply because it factually *does* have the nutrients body needs and I am not willing to stand over the stove making sure I cook 5 kinds of fresh vegetables every day in order to feed this organism..so, to me – it is a brand, a good brand, I checked it, liked it and chose it and I am happy with it. Case closed.

Anyway – my roommate said to me that my positive attitude and enthusiasm for this brand is strange because I seem to have joined a ‘cult’. Oh boy do I have plenty to argue on this one… but –

Till next time!
Happy whatever –



The Cult I am in…..

This is somewhat of a continuation of the above blog post. So, read back if you haven’t read it – this blog will make more sense.
So, upon returning from the xmas dinner – my roommate and I had a discussion in the car about how people center their traditions around bad food which evolved into both of us reminding ourselves and each other about how we would like to trim down a bit. Now- my roommate is in an excellent shape and decent health except that he has put on perhaps some 10 pounds which conveniently placed themselves in his mid section. I, on the other hand, have some 30 pounds over at least, evenly spread (thanks heavens for that…).
About two months ago I have made a decision to do *something* about this and I have been trying to change some stuff in my diet. I suppose the fact I left my gall bladder in a hospital in Croatia – I figured that would be a nice milestone so I somewhat combined my suggested post-operative diet with this decision. This is about the same time my elementary school desk-mate appeared again in my life after some 18 years (for those  of you who believe everything must have a reason) and he got me to try Herbalife Products (which he himself eats, feeds his daughters with and distributes for living).
I resisted at first because when someone mentions ‘diet’ to me, I usually get so enraged I could eat a gallon of ice cream just to prove to them I don’t have to be on any f* diet. I am not sure how that proof stands, but it surely works for my own ego which not only is the part of me that chooses to do this in the first place – but also dunks my nose right into it when I have those lovely arguments with myself in my head; the ego always readily says ‘you want to be successful? look at yourself, you cannot even put a spoon down!  etc etc…. (everyone has arguments like those with themselves and unfortunately most people identify the voice of that ego to be *who* they are – which is …well….unfortunate however – very easy.)
Herbalife worked for me and I decided to keep taking various products. The key factor for me was they tasted good.
Some immediate changes that happened the first week after replacing breakfast and afternoon snack with Herbalife was – I did not crash after having a meal…no need to nap at all (meaning balanced blood sugar level.) I was actually for the first time in my adult life thirsty for water! (habitually, I would just give myself another kick in the kidneys with another can of orange soda which is an excellent source of chemically formulated quenched thirst feeling for “intellectuals” (including myself here) who don’t give a split thought about the science of human body and regard tingly taste buds to be the point of ingesting something. Finally, I’ve experienced a major thing that first week – and that was loads of energy which was unlike that energy of starting something new and being puppy-excited about it  – I am talking energy that feels right, has a base somewhere and doesn’t feel jittery, emotional, but rather just feels somehow right and there is nothing else more to it. As if ego just STFU and did not have anything to say to talk me out of this food choice, while my body felt relieved getting all this good stuff for once. That was enough for me right there, the very selling point.
So I told a few friends about this discovery and my enthusiasm about it – including my roommate. He said “I am happy for you.” And I said “Thanks!”

Since I started using these products I have had some friends who excitedly asked me to tell them about my experience with Herbalife, some who gave it a shot as well and have plenty of success with it already – even more then I, some who just nodded and giggled at me talking about something I felt particularly excited about (when I shed the first 5 pounds off I was so excited I raved about it all over!), and some who simply bite their lip and don’t say anything.

Back to the ride home from xmas dinner….
After telling my roomate on several occasions about how physically great I feel after I eat my Herbalife breakfast and offering him a sip of the chocolate milkshake (now WHO doesn’t like chocolate milkshake?!) I began to notice his negative attitude towards the whole thing. Up to the point of this car ride, he ever said anything bad about it, however he’s never said anything good about it either which is understandable because he has not tried it. I don’t particularly understand why my roommate doesn’t want to taste some milkshake  I make every day, or at least I did not understand it until this point.
In the car, after he made a statement about his dissatisfaction with his recently accumulated extra pounds – I just flat out asked him “So, why don’t you ever want to taste Herbalife when I make it for myself?”. Please note I did not tell him You should lose weight using Herbalife or something that would make him feel cornered. And I got my response:

“Because it is a CULT!”

Talk about a wet rag over the face feeling. I paused in disbelief. We did not discuss this statement much further, so I can only work from what I call my reasoning based on assumption.

I doubt that he meant to say I am being brainwashed into an organization that exclusively follows a system of common belief rather he might have meant I am “following an interest with exaggerated zeal”. But it still rubs me wrong and feels like a wet rag over the face because I did not expect anyone to make a decision to believe my enthusiasm comes out of a cult mindset, especially not from someone who loves to take pride in being old enough, wise enough and self actualized enough.
Now I feel like something I feel excited about is – not welcome, furthermore, it is considered exaggerated and then it dawned on me – my roommate doesn’t want to taste the chocolate milkshake NOT because he suspects it tastes bad, NOT because he doubts the nutritional value and NOT because he believes he couldn’t use it – but rather…out of a PRINCIPLE. From this point on, my reasoning keeps dragging me into this inner dialogue:

– Principle of what?
Proving a point.
-What point?
That one knows something better.
-What’s the point of that?
It puts other people seemingly ‘in their place’.
-What’s the point of that?
It makes the hamburger cult members feel good.

Wait. Hamburger cult members? rofl
This is how my mind squirts stuff at the poor unsuspecting me. It took me about 3 days to figure out what the hell my mind meant by bringing up ‘hamburger cult’. The first observation I made was that my ego is whimpering in the corner for being called a cult member. It made me laugh. The second observation was the need to think of something that would make me remain comfortable for being called a cult member, now that I’ve realized I’d get placed like that even by the closest of friends.

Hamburger cult. Nobody I know would be offended or in any way emotionally injured if I insisted on them having a bite out of a greasy burger from my favorite burger joint. Nobody I know would give a split thought about having me treat them dinner at some fast food place if they were hungry enough. No friend of mine who has extra weight just like I do (about 80% of my friends admit they are overweight with at least 5 who are already somewhat/plenty ill from being morbidly obese) would come back at me bringing them cake with “You assumed I’d like cake…because…you think I am fat and fat people must eat cake?”…
Why is it so, than, that if I offer something I like which happens to be more than just ‘tastes good’ – all the sudden there comes the principle of NO! and feelings of being hurt because of assumed implications that only people who are ‘not good enough’ and thus ‘need to be fixed’ should eat stuff that is healthy – if not all the time, than at least whenever they can afford to make a conscious choice to do so. There’s only one conclusion, and again, I derive this one from self-examination. Ego. I used to be the person who would pass the dairy isle at the store, see ‘fat free’ sour cream and reach for FULL FAT sour cream – while inside of my head my ego would thrive over self reinforced delusion that somehow I hold higher ground for consciously making a poor choice because the ‘fat free’ mixed with my feelings of self has been marketed to me ad nauseam.
(Who knows, perhaps the fat free marketing serves to sell full fat products as well. )

But, don’t get me wrong. I am not a person who discovered the only righteous path, nor is the cult of Herbalife the magic key to the gates of heaven on earth. Not by a long shot. While I now completely avoid the dairy isle and I am about 80% off of sugar, I still smoke and have relapses in bad food habits. But – I watch it all with a pair of glasses I am not scared to wipe when foggy.

And, as far as cults go… I suppose, we all are a part of some cult. All of our conscious positive decisions start with some enthusiasm which undoubtedly wears off and eventually leaves firm habits behind – whether they are good for us, bad for us, or simply make no damn difference such as whether we wash dishes with a sponge or a towel or which sponge we use to clean the stove. I suppose it’s all about what principles we choose as our crutches. I try to change my habit of principle choice to that which will make me less angry at myself and others.



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