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Goodbye (sort of), Foodie McBody June 6, 2014

Foodie McBody

Foodie McBody

I just did a little thing that felt like such a BIG thing. I changed my Twitter handle, which has been @foodiemcbody forever. But for the last six months or a year I’ve felt like so much MORE than Foodie McBody. Many people I interact with now, in the writing world and beyond, don’t recognize or know Foodie.

It makes me feel really emotional to make this change. I first took on the name Foodie McBody as an anonymous name when I started this blog. Because I was ashamed of who I was. I was diabetic and overweight and unfit and desperate. I wanted to reach out for community and help, but I was embarrassed to be in the world as ME, Susan Ito. And that’s how Foodie came about.

When I started feeling better about myself, I shed that anonymity. For a long time I was really proud to be Foodie McBody. And I still am. But I’m more than that now. I’m a writer, a memoirist, a physical therapist, a teacher. Sometimes those selves fit with Foodie, and sometimes they don’t.

Last weekend I took a fabulous food-writing class at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. We were visited by guest speaker Virginia Miller, who blogs over at The Perfect Spot and also writes for Zagat. (!) I realized in that moment that FoodFoodBodyBody has been and is a food blog. And the writing that I did that day could live here. It was a huge sigh of happiness, the recognition that I could integrate these parts of myself.

For a long time I believed that my fitness stole my writing, and then that my writing could steal my fitness. All of it takes time, after all. Following my injury and surgery in the fall, I’ve definitely been more in the writing world. Trying to find that balance again. But I have deep love for the Foodie McBody part of myself, and deep love for my writing life. @thesusanito is an attempt to bring it all together in one self. I hope those of you who met me as Foodie will continue to be my wonderful healthy community, and those who never knew Foodie will learn about who that part of me is/was.

Did you ever feel like your identity was fragmented? What have you done to bring it all together?

 

 

Taking Time To (Re)Treat January 25, 2014

IMG_4834So many things have helped me on my path to health, but one that I have been practicing for over 25 years is the retreat. I love this word. It means to take a step back; it means to take refuge. It also means to re-treat: to treat oneself, again. I first came to Santa Sabina in the mid-eighties, when I was a budding calligrapher (little known fact). I signed up for the Friends of Calligraphy retreat,  not really knowing what I was getting into.

It took my breath away. Silence, and beauty. The scratching of pens on paper in what had been set up as the Scriptorium. Words on paper (or on walls). A great spaciousness. My mind was blown.

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Once I started coming to this place, I felt I craved it like one craves chocolate, or oxygen. Once or twice a year (especially when I had babies and small children), I would slip away for twenty-four hours, to step into the quiet corners. I could climb the steps to the straw-bale Hermitage and “be the hermit” for a brief while.

IMG_1617 IMG_1612 IMG_1611Sometimes I came on my own, or with other writer friends. Sometimes I came with groups- calligraphers or poets. I experienced several amazing poetry weekends – one focusing on the work of Rilke, others with Jane Hirshfield and Naomi Shihab Nye. There is poetry everywhere here, and art. The art basement is a generous space filled with art supplies of all kinds – a calligraphers’ nook, a collage room. It invites gentle creativity.

IMG_1633 IMG_1630Several years ago, I began offering group retreats myself at Santa Sabina. It has been one of my greatest joys. Two years ago, I led a retreat called Stories of the Body. Participants came together to share stories through collage, art, writing, movement, and to be with their own bodies’ stories in silence and reflection and silent, mindful meals. It was so moving and beautiful. I have been trying to book a date for a return visit for years, but the center has been undergoing many renovations and there have not been dates open — until now! I am thrilled to be offering Stories of the Body again at the end of March.

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There’s an early-bird discounting until January 28th, and I’m also offering a discount to YOU, blog readers. (you can take advantage of both!) For readers of this blog, just enter the code FOODFOODBODYBODY and you’ll get an additional reduction in price.  I am also offering a deposit option with extended payments for those who cannot pay all at once.

I am hoping to be able to offer a weekend scholarship for one retreat assistant to this retreat this year. The work involved would be minimal but of great help to me (registration, set-up, logistics). If you feel that you would benefit from this special time away (and into yourself), please email me with the following:

  • Why you feel this retreat would benefit you at this time
  • Your commitment to attend if chosen
  • Experience in dealing with groups (ie your “people skills”)
  • DEADLINE: February 1, 2014

Exercise and eating well have been so elemental in my health journey, but this – THIS- has been an invaluable element that I often forget. Being with myself. Taking time for the quiet. I hope you will join us.

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Day 8 #NHBPM: A Letter to My Health November 8, 2012

Dear Health,

I wonder how you think I’ve been treating you lately. I admit it isn’t the same intense, hot love that we had back in 2009 when all I thought about was you, all I dreamed about was you. I know, I was kind of borderline obsessed with you, but that was only because I’d neglected you for like, decades, and you gave me that big scare that made me think you were leaving me forever.

I admit that the last year has been kind of bumpy. I know that I sort of was giving lip service to the fact that I cared about you, but that sometimes my actions spoke otherwise. That was not so great of me.

I really want you to stick around. For a long, long time. I think I’ve been trying to figure out all the different things that I need in order to keep you around. I used to think that you would only love me if I exercised all the time and was really strict about what I ate. But then I realize that you are more attached to me than I ever realized and that if I didn’t take care of all of the parts of me, then you would suffer too.

I’m realizing so many more things about our relationship lately – that you need to sleep and rest. That you actually LIKE it if I take time to write. I used to think you were jealous of my writing and that I couldn’t spend time with my writing and have you too. I didn’t really get that you guys are like BFFs. Wow.

I used to think that you only liked doing a few things and I think maybe our relationship got into a little rut and I started feeling bored. I didn’t realize that you liked doing so many of the same things that I do.

Did you know that I’ve been writing about you for 8 days in a row? (how’s that for attention? are you feeling it??) And I’m going to be doing it for the WHOLE month of November. I know! You must be in shock.

Guess what? Some of my favorite people are also writing about their health, too. Isn’t that cool?

Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge that I was not the best friend I could’ve been. I was trying, but you know how you can be trying and still be sort of “off.” My intentions were good but hey, this is a really long term relationship and sometimes we just make mistakes. I think I can say that I learned from them.

Let me ask you. What did you think of that triathlon training last year? I know it was pretty badass. YOU were a badass and you did things I really never believed were possible. But I also think I was beating up on you a bit too. I don’t know. Maybe it was my mind beating up on both of us. I still have to mull that one over.

This next year, let’s do some more running. Like a couple of half marathons. You want to go to Disneyland again? Let’s dress up for the Tinker Bell Half. I promise it won’t be anything dumb, just something fun and comfortable. Definitely a tutu and maybe some wings? Or just sparkles.

Then I’m going to take you on a half marathon tour of OUR TOWN – yeah, the Oakland Half Marathon! We’re going to see so many of our friends. I’m super excited about this one.

I’m reallly excited to train, with like a REAL running coach, and a team, this time. I know how dumb it was to try to drag you out for half marathons in the past (remember Las Vegas? Yeah I don’t want to either) when I didn’t really know what the heck I was doing. But you should be pleased to know I’ve joined Team in Training again and we’re going to do it RIGHT! With lots of cowbell and support. And of course you know this means you’ll be wearing a lot of purple in the months to come. Heh.

Well, body, we’ve been through a lot. I want to let you know I appreciate you. I’m going to be taking better care of you. I know you’re feeling kind of tight and that you’ve got some aches and pains. I’m going to get that taken care of. Maybe some PT. Maybe some Pilates. I’m not going to ignore you when you’re crying. I love you!

That’s it for now. I like writing to you. Now the question is  – are you going to write me back?

Love,

Susan

 

 

Day 4 #NHBPM: The Disclosure Post November 4, 2012

Day 4 – Sunday, Nov. 4

Writing Prompts: Disclosure post. How did you decide what to share? What do/don’t you share? OR Write about what’s in your bag / purse / backpack every day

I don’t think anyone is really interested in the contents of my bag or purse, so I’m skipping that one.

Disclosure. Ahh. Well, in the interest of full disclosure I’m going to disclose that I don’t disclose everything. I’ll be honest. Sometimes when I am making poor choices regarding my health, I don’t write about it. Instead I just won’t say anything, often until after I’ve “recovered” myself and then I might write about it retrospectively.

It’s hard to write about things we don’t feel good about, especially when we are in the midst of doing them. It’s so much easier to write about crossing the finish lane of a race, than writing “I’m lying on the couch watching multiple episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix.” It’s easier to blog about a great healthy recipe than “I just snarfed down half a jar of peanut butter.” Right?

There was a period of time when I was taking pictures of, and then blogging, every single thing I ate. This went on for a few months. I have to say, it was probably one of the healthiest periods of my life. Because I was committed to one hundred percent full disclosure. I didn’t eat mass quantities of peanut butter or chocolate because I knew that if I did, I was going to have to broadcast it visually throughout the internet. So it gave me pause, and made me really fully consider all of my choices. It made me think, Do I want to share this bite/plate/meal with the world? And if I didn’t feel good about that, I didn’t eat it.

Looking back on it, maybe I need to take up that practice again. It was a good one, and I learned a lot from it. Because it’s in periods of “hiding” that I tend to do things I don’t feel good about.

Here’s to writing more from the shadows….

This is the 4th post in a series of National Health Blog Post Month. Join me! And check out these other great health blogs:

 

In Which Preparing For Fitbloggin’ Saves Me September 11, 2012

ImageFitbloggin’ 2012 is just ten days away and the Twitter/blogosphere is really starting to buzz with excitement. I’m excited too – to reunite with friends, to meet and connect with new people, and to just be in the wonderful atmosphere that is Fitbloggin.

But I’ve had some trepidation. I’m not at all in the same place that I was at Fitbloggin’ 2011. In May of 2011 I was actively blogging – many times a week – and was really feeling great both fitness and blogwise.

This time – not so much. It’s been a struggle to keep up with regular blogging. I feel like every time I sit down to write, I’m apologizing about not writing enough. This year has meant a lot of job transition, which means I rarely feel “caught up” enough to blog. I’m often staying up until 11:00pm just trying to get a grip on my job’s paperwork. Only recently have I just started to feel like I might be getting the hang of things, and maybe, just maybe, I can complete my work during, you know, regular work hours.

Now that Fitbloggin’ is just around the corner (how did that happen?!?) it’s forced/allowed me to really think about what’s been going on this past year. There is a phrase that floats around the blogosphere: if a fitness blogger stops blogging, it probably means they’ve fallen off some wagon or another.

That’s both true and not true. It is, as they say, complicated.

A year ago, I was high about Fitbloggin’ and the fitness world. I was preparing to get certified as a Personal Trainer with a specialty in Corrective Exercise. I was studying, I was really into it. I was planning to start my own business in personal and group fitness, awareness, body image and food. I was going to call it (get this!) FoodFoodBodyBody. I took several seminars in Small Business ownership. I set up a business account. I joined a network of women working in health and wellness. I was so pumped!

And then what happened?!

About that time I signed up for my first triathlon training. And while that event was one of the most arduous-yet-meaningful experiences, one of the greatest challenges and accomplishments ever, I think it was the beginning of my unraveling. I thought I was going to turn into a lean, mean triathlete machine, but instead I ended up putting on weight. And no, it wasn’t “all muscle.” During the training I had to wrestle with a lot of person demons. I was afraid of my bicycle. I had panic attacks when I tried to swim in open water. I was always the Very Last Person during our training workouts, and slowly this began to wear at my self-confidence. And as I spent weeks training, I got more anxious and nervous. I started doing a lot more comfort eating. I tried to justify it by telling myself I was working out a lot more, but the fact was I was self-soothing because I was so damn scared.

During that time, when my self-doubt was peaking, I started doubting my business plan. I was thinking, who the hell am *I* to tell anyone else what to do in terms of fitness or healthy eating? So I started backing away from that. I started building all sorts of roadblocks to actually accomplishing that goal which had once excited me so much.

I finished the triathlon. Or, I sort of finished it. I felt good but I also felt crappy. I couldn’t help feeling like I had cheated somehow. So what did I do? I signed up for the Hike Team – during which I injured myself – and then I signed up to do ANOTHER triathlon. I know. What was I thinking? I wanted a do-over. I wanted to Get It Right that time. But because of my injury, and my frazzled self-confidence, that one didn’t work out the way I had planned either. I dropped out of the Maui (Olympic) Tri and instead did the Wildflower Mountain Bike (aka Sprint) Tri. Which was on one hand an accomplishment, but again, it didn’t solve the problem of Getting It Right.

During all of this, I look back now and I see what my worse mistake was: I stopped blogging.

I hid.

I think if I had openly chronicled (I mean really chronicled) all of the self-doubt, all of the decisions, the comfort eating, the freakouts, I think it would have taken care of itself. I mean, that’s the lesson of this blog. Being honest and out there kept me healthy for over two years. But hiding away almost threatened to put me back where I started.

Also during the last year, my beloved endocrinologist left the group practice. I was devastated. I felt abandoned, and I acted out. (in a way that could really only hurt myself) I stopped tracking my blood glucose, stopped eating so carefully, and never made an appointment (until last week) with a new doctor. I was pouting. I was really sad about this. But of course that didn’t help the course of things.

I’ve been rewriting/rehearsing/freaking out about my performance at Fitbloggin’. It will bear some resemblance – but only about 50% – to last year’s show. There’s a lot more I’ve gotta say/show/express. I’m hecka nervous about it. But also excited. Because the stakes feel greater somehow. I’m not just doing a show about how Totally Awesome my “journey” has been – but also this time – how kind of un-awesome and humbling and HARD it’s been.

But the very act of being honest is, I think, (or, I KNOW) – where the good stuff is. I’m relieved and happy to be getting back to basics. Which for me isn’t so much about working out in any particular way, or counting calories. It’s about being Real.

 

Retreating October 7, 2011

It’s been a long time since my last post! But today is a self-appointed (nonscheduled) rest day and I’m using it to catch up.

There’s a bunch to say about my tri training but I’ll leave that for another post. Today I want to write about my “Stories of the Body” retreat that was held at Santa Sabina Center last weekend.

Wow. Just wow. It surpassed my wildest expectations and hopes for what it could mean for 20 women to come together to write, share, contemplate, make art and dance, cry and laugh about their bodies. It was just awesome and made my heart break with happiness.

It made me realize that really, all I want to do is interact with the world like this. In an honest, vulnerable, thoughtful and calm way. It was a turning point. It was good.

That’s really all I want to say about it. Here’s some pictures.

inside the Hermitage

contemplative eating
Bodymindfull movement and writing

collage stories

Scrabble party

courtyard fountain

yes

telling stories through collage
peace
new friends
celebrating
 

Book Review: Cakewalk May 31, 2010

What business does a diabetic Weight Watchers leader have reading a book that is so filled with butter and chocolate and sugar that it almosts wafts from the pages? I don’t know, but I do know that I could barely put this book down. Thank goodness for the ankle injury and the 3-day weekend that allowed me to finish  it this morning.

I loved this book, Cakewalk, by Kate Moses. I LOVED THIS BOOK so much. It’s going on my Top Ten list. And for people who have seen my house and my miles of bookshelves, you’ll know this is saying a lot.

Where do I begin? Well, for one I loved it because it brought my childhood back to me, and in the sensual food-memory way that the madeleine brought Proust back to his. Only it wasn’t anything as delicate and refined as a fancy French cookie, it was her unabashed love for 1960s junk food that made my heart beat faster. And it was the way that she described the Ding Dongs and the Baby Ruths without an ounce of embarrassment or remorse: just, this is what we ate, and it gave us pleasure. She loved the badger Frances books like I did, and especially for the food descriptions: not only the bread and jam, but also ode she sings to Lorna Doone cookies.

Kate Moses is roughly the same age as I am, so reading this book was like a tantalizing time-travel through my own life. It was shocking to squeak out, as I was reading, “Me too!” even down to a bizarre coincidence involving rubber alligator toes. Reading this book was in so many ways like a channeling of my own life.

Each chapter of the book chronicles a different era of Moses’ life, her annual moves to yet another new state, new town, new school. Early on she learns to use her baking skills as a way of making friends, or of comforting herself through some new familial trauma (and there are some doozies). Every chapter ends with some amazingly droolworthy recipe: Chocolate cake, homemade It’s-Its, homemade pink and white animal shortbread cookies (which she brought in a basket to her reading: SO delicious! and exquisite), pecan birthday cake and jam tarts. I swooned and sighed over all of these recipes. (um, except the moose turd “candies”)

Although she mentions being called “fat” by her classmates in a particularly poignant fourth-grade chapter, she doesn’t dwell on this. It’s not about that.  So many memoirs of overweight childhoods are drenched in shame and guilt, and this book was refreshingly free of guilt. Which I appreciated so much.  It’s about an often terribly painful and confusing, chaotic childhood and youth that is sweetened and soothed by the pleasure of food. It’s about food as a means of connection and community. It’s about becoming a writer, which made my heart pound as much as the cake recipes. It’s a moving chronicle of family and how people change and don’t change, about forgiveness and honesty and redemption. The writing is so, so, good, and I found myself sighing over individual sentences and paragraphs. Like this:

…we bought boxes and boxes of donuts, baker’s dozens, all different flavors. Then we drove up and down the empty streets for hours, fast past the houses of everyone we knew, past our own, all night long, in our high heels and our new high-school graduate outfits, the convertible top down and our hair flying loose and tangling across our faces, eating just one bite of each donut before flinging the rest out of the car. When there were no more donuts, we reached for our silky blue graduation gowns, pulling them out from where we’d tucked them, and we threw them out, too, letting them catch in the wind we were speeding through, sailing them out into the bright lasting night, the northern lights spraying ribbons of color above us, waving like handkerchiefs as the ship leaves its anchorage.

 

Time Squeeze March 22, 2010

Well, I’m in one of those places where I have so much to blog about but not enough time. This upcoming week is going to be CRAZY. I’m finishing up one of my classes which means I have mega papers to read and grade; I’m doing my final week of training before the MARATHON; I’m squeezing in a ton of work because next week (the day after the marathon!) I am taking off for Costa Rica (this does not even seem REAL to me) to help my BFF celebrate her 50th Bday. (one great thing about turning such a nice round age is that your friends all have these great celebrations!)

But there is so much on my mind. These are the things I would love to blog about when I catch a minute sometime.

  1. I’ve just recently had several spontaneous Twitter conversations about people who want to know how to deal with good friends who are very overweight or unfit. I have soooooo many thoughts on this. My short two cents on it: “Love ‘em and leave ‘em alone.” But it’s a lot more complicated than that, and I want to write about it.
  2. My aspirations for Fitbloggin‘ 2011 and how sad I am to have missed all the fun at 2010 last weekend.
  3. Why running is not like riding a bicycle. Even though I cannot ride a bicycle.
  4. How I got a little lackadaisical with the diabetes monitoring and then woke up. Again.
  5. “Feeling fat.” That’s gonna be a big one. It was inspired by reading this.
  6. And also inspired by a recent incident of TERRIBLE vanity-sizing in which I tried on a size 12 garment that I bought in 1982, and it WOULD NOT BUTTON.
  7. Geneen Roth’s hot new book, Women Food & God and how I think its message is more aligned with Weight Watchers than a lot of people seem to believe.

As always, I will take votes for which ones to tackle first! When I have a minute. Maybe on an airplane. Wait, are they going to have Wi-Fi in Costa Rica? Uh oh.

 

balance balance balance balance November 7, 2009

moom_balance01O.M.G.

I am so so very excited about all the new WW stuff happening. Yesterday I was offered YET ANOTHER meeting!! (so next week I will be leading THREE) I have so much to do!! I have to take the online training course for At-Work meetings, run to Office Depot and get some things in which to Haul Stuff Around, and answer a ton of emails and make a bunch of phone calls and PREPARE for yet another meeting topic (yeah, this happens every week!) and make flip charts and and and!!

PLUS I have to find time to eat, work out, be with my family, teach THREE online writing classes which are still ongoing (my other life), including teaching for THIS incredible project, edit and publish my section of a literary magazine, host a fundraiser this afternoon for a mayoral campaign in my city, get some writing of my own done (other than this blog) and tomorrow I am participating in the World’s Longest California Roll Sushi Challenge. Wheewwwwwwww!!!!!!!

I did go to a Nia class this morning. Which helped my sanity quite a bit. But as I was leaving the class I got a text from my spouse who reported he was in the E.R. after falling off his bike and injuring his shoulder and HIS HEAD. (I tried very hard not to flash on Natasha Richardson at this moment). LUCKILY he had a negative brain scan but he is now in a sling with a torn shoulder ligament and some dislocation. Owie.

It’s all good. It’s all wayyyyy good. But when it rains (even goodness) it pours, you know?? Zipping off now……….

 

 

Too Much Of A Good Tweet? July 4, 2009

I’ve been getting (and giving) huge support for health and fitness efforts over on Twitter. I love the community there and how it rallies around people, cheering them on for accomplishments, and lending a supportive hand when things aren’t going as well. I’ve found it to be something of a community OA sponsor, talking me down from cupcakes or lying on the couch when it’s time to exercise. I LOVE my Twitter community but sometimes… I find it hard to drag myself away. The thing about Twitter is that it’s going on 24/7, and there is always something to respond to.

This week the awesome MizFit wrote a very provocative blog post with the statement, “You are what you repeatedly do.” I contemplated this for quite a while. (update: the full quote is from Aristotle. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”)

I am what I repeatedly do.

In some areas, this is quite good news. I have been repeatedly working out and making (for the most part) good food choices. I have been mindful. This is all good.

BUT. I have also been repeatedly Twittering, quite a bit. And recently I’ve seen that it’s kept me from doing other things I need and want to do. And I realize that it’s been a bit too much of a good thing. So I have put myself on a Twitter diet, with the invaluable help of a (free) program called LeechBlock. (what a name, huh? So it blocks the leeches from sucking your lifeblood away??)

LeechBlock is a simple productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day.

I’ve added Twitter and Facebook to this program, and allowed myself five minutes per every two hours. I figure that this is equivalent to a “water cooler” break. I’m not going cold turkey, but it’s a good helpful reminder of what I want my priorities to be, and how I want to spend my time. And of course I can bypass it by changing the settings, but that’s like “cheating” on a healthy eating plan. I’m only cheating myself, so what’s the point?

That quote also reminded me, sadly, of what I am NOT repeatedly doing that I want to do more of, and that’s write. In my “other” non-Foodie life I am (or was) a writer, working on two novels, a book of nonfiction, short stories, a column etc. none of which have been getting much attention since I began this blog. So I am a blogger, but not a Writer. In my mind, these things are quite separate.

My day job is working up to its annual Big Event in a few weeks, and after that I really want to turn things around and spend more time writing. Keeping up the healthy stuff.

Tell me: who are you, based on what you repeatedly do?

 

 
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