Saturday, July 14, 2012

Let's Talk About Food

I like food. 
I like to cook it.
I like to grow it.
I like to preserve it.
I like to read about it.
I like to eat it. 

I can, like any Southern country girl, put away some fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra, and biscuits (Fred's Market, anyone in Plant City?).  Thankfully for my health, though, those items are much more rare on my menu than choices like grilled chicken, baked potatoes, green beans, and whole wheat bread. 

Then you have cheese.  And bacon.  Two food items, which, in my opinion, are in a class by themselves.  Put them on top of french fries and you have the world's most perfect menu item.  Okay, not perfect in terms of good-for-you, but perfect in terms of taste.  O'Briens (a restaurant in my hometown) calls my name frequently to come and partake of their loaded cheese fries. Dude- looking at this picture makes my mouth water!

My weight has yo-yo'd in the past, which is typical of many women I know.  Down a few pounds, up a few pounds, and the cycle keeps going.  I know what to do to be at my healthiest weight, and I enjoy doing it. I just have to actually DO IT. I feel good when I am working out, running, and eating a clean diet 80% of the time.  When I slack in those areas, it takes a toll on my body as well as my mind and disposition. 

Jogging outside and weight-lifting inside are two activities that top my list of enjoyments. 

This time last year I was in my groove, working out and eating good.  When I do what I know I should, I can splurge on the occasional O'Briens cheese fries platter with no guilt and no extra pounds.  But that stopped in October.  Alan and I ran in a half-marathon relay at the beginning of the month, then I got sick.  A virus settled in my lungs and I began coughing.  It was hard to breathe.   Carrying on a normal conversation was difficult.  By Christmas, I was sure there was something majorly wrong with me.  I went to my doctor a couple times, but nothing helped.  Finally, in the beginning of January, I saw a different doctor who prescribed just what I needed.  Within two weeks, my lungs were clear.  I was overjoyed!  But, by that time (it had been 2 and a half months), I was out of sync as far as working out was concerned.  I hadn't been able to sing in the choir well, much less jog or ride a bike.  Then I let life get in the way. 

*Have you ever done that?*

Have you let what's going on in your life be an excuse for not taking care of yourself? 

I didn't start working out again.  I started eating.  And eating some more.  When we began to plan to come here to Ethiopia, I used that as a great excuse to binge on junk.  I said things like this to myself, "I'm going to go to Ethiopia for 3-4 months, I need to eat as many cheeseburgers and fries as possible before I leave."  Yeah, that's right, Five Guys became a friend and, since I knew dairy products would be hard to come by here, cheese became a staple to top every dish.  I felt horrible.  Is it any wonder?  

I know better.  I am an advocate of books like, What The Bible Says About Healthy Living.  My family drinks raw milk. I buy exclusively whole wheat pasta and brown rice, and make homemade whole wheat bread and muffins when I have time.  Our family raises grass fed beef and free range eggs.  We grow our own vegetables.  One of our family motto's is, "The whiter the bread, the faster you're dead." 


Well, no more, not here!  Living in a third world country has been great in a lot of ways, and one of those ways has been the effect on my body.  Walking a lot is good, working out with Natalie has been a blessing, and the food is mostly clean.  By that I mean lots of fruits, veggies, and lean meat. 

For example, yesterday my diet consisted of:
Breakfast-  fruit, nuts, and coffee (no sugar).
Lunch and dinner-  lean ground beef (the beef here reminds me of venison back home), potatoes, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, hot peppers, fresh herbs, mango, banana, and oranges. 
My snack was popcorn, popped on the propane stove with a little sunflower oil and salt. 

See what I mean?  No, not every single meal is like that.  Any time there's pasta, it's white pasta, any time there's bread, it's white bread, and any time there's rice, it's white rice.  My children will have to be re-trained once we arrive home in adherence to the family motto.

The majority of what we eat is healthy, though.  I have lost weight, my pants are baggy, I'm more toned, and I feel so much better.  I'm getting rid of the weight I put on over the last 5 months while making so many excuses.  Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to going home and visiting O'Briens.  But I'm also looking forward to going home and using my new lung capacity to get back to my running regimen. 

The altitude took a lot of getting used to.  The first week we were here, I couldn't even walk up the stairs without being breathless.  Now, I can work up a sweat like normal at home.  I hope that means running will be easier when I get back to the Florida landscape, on flat terrain at sea level. 

So, that's my confession for this week. 

Did you know that in Ethiopia:
-milk comes in a small plastic bag with about 2 cups inside?
-eggs are just like at my house, so it's nothing different, covered in dirt and chicken poop
-we wash all fruits and veggies in purified water with vinegar to kill germs before we eat them
-we brush our teeth with purified drinking water and keep our mouth closed during showers so no yucky water gets swallowed
-all dishes must be dried be hand before re-using because they are washed in non-purified water 3 times a day
-we make coffee in a French press because there's no automatic coffee maker, so it comes complete with grounds and a little sludge in the bottom
-there's no pork

Today I am thankful for:  Behilu-who helps me when I can't communicate, my pencil sharpener, and oranges that remind me of Florida.

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