Monday, November 19, 2007

Solve This Puzzle

As you read this, guess what my main problem is. It won't take long. But it took me years to "get it".

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology. Ninety-nine percent of all jobs I've ever held in my life have had some aspect of food involved: agriculture when I worked at a tree orchard, prepping food to be cooked, cooking food, serving food, cleaning dishes that contained food, presenting food, cleaning and sanitizing equipement that processed food, processing food, analyzing food, studying food, reading and writing about food, inventing food, formulating food for production, helping with marketing food by using food ingredients to showcase them in recipes, catering food, selling food and tasting food. Really, I got paid for this in a variety of jobs from the time I was 14 until now. That's thirty-one years of food. And then, I cooked food as a hobby and as a ministry in hospitality. I designed and cooked meals for church events, too. Not a bad gig. I cook for twenty when I cook for six, anyway. I haven't done it here in Michigan, although I do not lack for opportunity. I attend a very hospitable church and enjoyed having people over many times.

And I'm over a hundred pounds overweight. I haven't always been. Twenty years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed that this would be a problem of mine.

I tried losing weight before. When I had to. I lost thirty-five pounds my freshman year in college, going from 160 pounds to 125. I was almost anorexic. When I began normalizing at 140 a few years later, I lost ten pounds by keeping a calorie diary and incuring the wrath of a very good brother in Christ who told me that this was totally unneccessary while he watched me in the college dining hall.

When I was single in Seattle after college, I needed to lose about 25 pounds from eating a giant muffin every day for a year at "Majestic Muffins". My roommates and I agreed to take turns cooking Weight Watchers meals for each other every week. Karen, our mentor and landlord, probably designed this so that we'd become closer in community and serving each other. Every week, one of us planned menus, shopped and prepped breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone in the household. That was four of us total. I lost the weight I wanted to easily, but my co-workers were apalled at my flimsy lunches. They didn't see why I had to lose weight and give up my muffin diet, I seemed just fine to them. I didn't exercise much, but my job was active enough it didn't matter. It wasn't a big deal.

After I married, things seemed fine for awhile. I took long walks every day, but I spent a lot of time researching recipes at the library, too. I worked very hard to find healthy recipes that would become a core menu that I could rely on as a housewife and hopefully really soon, a mom. I can cook most of those dishes without consulting a written recipe. When we had a chance to go out, which was rare with our newlywed budget, I made many mental notes about the food. The ones I liked the most, I tried to create at home.

It was this particular hobby that got me hired at McCormick and Schilling, for their garlic plant in Gilroy. But, that was also the hobby that made me be mentally elsewhere instead of focusing on my dining partner. Having a wife that loves cooking has its downfalls, believe it or not.

When we moved to Atlanta, renewing an old friendship from college made me realize that I had changed not for the better over the years. It was around this time that my diagnosis as having problems with infertility was beginning to hit home. I had taken clomid, progesterone shots, seen a fertility specialist while living in California. But as I got to know new friends--many new friends, actually--who were adopting, it was coming down to a realization that we might be going down that road, too. And it isn't a bad road. But I wasn't ready to admit that I was infertile and I knew that adoption would not be an answer for that. It is an answer to being a parent but it isn't an answer to being unable to bear children. This where I felt God had betrayed me and of all things, my own body did, too.

I worked hard to lose weight because many doctors had indicated that weight loss helps with fertility. I spent three hours a day in the gym, sometimes more since I wasn't working. When I visited a skinny and very buff friend of mine, I noticed that all she had in her fridge when she got me a drink was a six pack of bottled water and a bag of carrots. I asked her about her fitness routine. She showed me the gym in her apartment building. She said she ran on the treadmill as fast as she could on the highest incline and then did ab crunches until she couldn't do them any more. I asked her how long she took to do all that. Twenty minutes a day. Sometimes 10 minutes more when she had time to do bicep curls and leg presses. This same friend moved in with us a year later and all she ate were Lean Cuisine frozen entrees. She said it was about portion control.

I lost some weight, but it wasn't drastic. I could run around Kennesaw Mountain without huffing or puffing on my 36th birthday. When I started working (at a fast food joint), my workouts ended. I then went to work at Starbucks, and shortly after, my mom died.

I stopped caring about my weight. I took long walks to get time alone with God, but not because I had a mission.

In Colorado, the walking habit was still a spiritual exercise than it was about physical exercise. In Michigan, all walking as a regular discipline ceased. And not surprisingly, I was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago even though I swim periodically.

Since I started Weight Watchers, I've noticed something. I am very emotional. Things are surfacing that food was covering up. I'm losing weight even though I'm not spending three hours at a gym. In fact due to being sick, I hardly moved at all except when at work. I struggle with the food when I'm sick, but at those moments when I'm winning, overpowering sadness hits me. When asked about my success at WW meetings, I hardly know what to say. I'm in shock. I'm not happy like the other women who lose a half pound. And I lose more than any of them. I am just beginning to see what my problem is.

In order for me to really succeed at this, I need help with the drive to medicate my sadness with food. I know how to not eat, now. It's not a problem. It's something more.

Am I mad at God? I think, disappointed. But I know He knows me. He knows my sinful nature and my pride. Children could easily be idols for me. Even as I am, without kids, I could hold family above Him. This is dangerous for the kids, as well for me. But then, He would take away even what I have already to help me avoid idol worship. Husband? Hey, been there, done that already. Learned that men are not gods. Food? Covered. I know it. Dog and kitty? They worship me at dinnertime. Job? Well, not so much that as the prestige of being your friendly neighborhood barista. Myself? Usually, that's the god hardest to serve. And the one that makes my life hell. Have to get rid of that one.

Disappointment in God over legitimate unfullfilled desires is not a sin. Desiring them more than Him is.

I found "Shattered Dreams" by Larry Crabb in our church library yesterday. I finished reading it this afternoon.

Thank You, Lord, for being loving enough to disappoint me. I need it. But, please, not any more than neccessary. And please, let it be about You and not about me. All about You.

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