Category Archives: Self Image

Cauliflower and Quinoa: A Memoir

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. When I was four years old my pediatrician diagnosed me with childhood obesity, explaining to my mother that when it came to hunger I didn’t have an “off switch”. In 1988 I was the youngest child in my town to be enrolled in Jenny Craig. Good times!  In grade school I tried Slim Fast, Deal-A-Meal (Sweatin’ to the Oldies with Richard Simmons videos and all!), and Pritikin (BARF!) to name a few. Oh, then there was that time when I was eight that my mom started playing one of those subliminal message cassette tapes while I slept. I woke up to the sound of ocean waves, freaked the fuck out, and ran from room to room in hysterics until my mom grabbed hold of me; So yeah, that one was a miss too.

Hamming it up on the way to camp in 1995! Actively getting punked, but I was asking for it in that hat, obvs.

Hamming it up on the way to camp in 1995! Actively getting punked, but I was asking for it in that hat, obvs.

Of course, I  was teased mercilessly throughout grade school and Junior High (rode the Phen Fen train in 8th grade), but by high school the teasing subsided.  I had lots of good friends, some cute boyfriends, and I was pretty much as at peace with my body as a teenage girl can be. I would avoid eating chips, mayo,and fried food. I took up kick boxing, and started running at the track on a pretty regular basis. This was the only “diet” that I actually could stick to and not feel like an outcast.

My senior year of high school I stopped my three year long diet and exercise routine that had kept the bulge at bay to the tune of 200 lbs… I ballooned to 260 lbs in 4 months. When I got my senior pictures back from the photographer I was so disgusted that I decided not to purchase any of them. That summer, two days before my 18th birthday, I had gastric bypass surgery. Carney Wilson and I had the same surgeon. We’re like blood sisters for weight loss surgery or something.

Junior year Prom 1999. I love the back drop. Rainbows and mushrooms that look A LOT like penises.

Junior year Prom 1999. I love the back drop. Rainbows and mushrooms that look A LOT like penises.

There are many people out there that don’t understand obesity and think that people who are obese are perpetually lazy gluttons. There are obese people out there who go to insane lengths to lose weight and do it on their own. BRAVO. There are many people out there who misuse weight loss surgery as an instant fix to their battle with obesity. There are a lot of people out there like me who just wanted a way to be dealt a different hand.My decision had less to do with wanting to be skinny, and more to do with the fact that I had a lifelong battle with obesity and have a family history of diabetes and heart disease. Both of my grandparents on my father’s side died of pancreatic cancer. My grandfather on my mother’s side had heart disease AND diabetes, had a heart transplant, and ultimately passed away as a result of the combination of the two.

My obesity had never held me back socially, but I still never felt like a normal person; to not feel like everyone is judging you when you are eating, to go to the mall and find something that fit, to not have the inseam of my shorts look like they were being eaten by my vajay every ten paces! You know what I’m talkin’ about, ladies.

A year and a half after surgery I had dropped over 130 lbs. Funny, the shape of your figure doesn’t change all that much after you lose that much weight! My body by all means wasn’t perfect, but I could see my collar bone and the outline of my ribs when I inhaled for the first time since I was three. I could walk into a room and people would compliment me on how good I looked. Sometimes I was even the prettiest girl in the room!  I became more confident and less critical of my body, but my sense of self worth was still at about a 5 on a scale of 1-10. I’ll spare the details of my 20’s, but my choices forced me to learn to love and value myself. Isn’t that what your 20’s are for?

Halloween 2002. A perfect little angel.

Halloween 2002. A perfect little angel.

My weight has  fluctuated in the 12 years that have passed since having surgery. I have gained, then lost, then gained about 40lbs back from my lowest post-surgery weight. I have, until about 5 months ago, felt fine about my body. I am at peace with the fact that I won’t ever look perfect in a bikini.But then something happened that I hadn’t experienced since before I had surgery:

*Queue tiny violins*

I couldn’t find anything in my giant heap of clothes that I felt looked good on me. It was taking me forever to get ready because I just didn’t want to walk out the door feeling like a fat ass. I normally LOVE getting dressed. But on this particular day my pants were heckling me. My button up shirts just didn’t even want anything to do with me. I was pissed off that nothing I put on made me feel like I was ready to greet the world and that I felt like I had officially “let myself go”. Again.

Let it be said that I am the first person to say that being thin isn’t the key to happiness, loving yourself IS, and on this particular day-and the days to follow-my brain was the anti-cheerleader.

February 2013. I can't imagine how I've put on all this weight!

February 2013. I can’t imagine how I’ve put on all this weight!

Full disclosure, I’m a natural born procrastislacker. It has taken me up to now (three weeks ago to be precise) to get back in control of my weight. I’m trying REALLY hard to find an exercise routine that I like. I busted out the bullet juicer my mother-in-law bought me for Christmas. I’m officially one of those people who slurps up spinach, kale, and flax seed through a straw and says “OMGTHISISSOOOOGOOOOOD”. My cheese intake is down 95% and I actually use my yoga ball. Good for me.

The thing is, do I think I’ll stick with it? I feel pretty invested at this point. I don’t feel entirely deprived, but last night I almost murdered my television when a deep dish pizza commercial came on. Instead of ordering it I ate a piece of string cheese and went to bed. I haven’t set a goal because that feels like too much pressure. I want to have the piece of mind that I am making healthier choices.  I don’t want to feel like I have to pretend that I’m searching for something in my purse when I stop halfway up the hill by my house because I’m winded-that didn’t happen the other day and I felt like Rocky. Progress, people, progress…

This post actually started because I was inspired to eat cauliflower for lunch today after an epic Facebook thread about a friend’s relentless disdain for this delicious, versatile veggie. I’ve drastically changed my eating habits and have proven to make some damn good healthy recipes in the mean time.  I’m excited to share them with anyone who loves good food as much as I do and still wants to fit into their skinny jeans sans muffin top. If you have read this far, you only deserve to be rewarded, so here you go:

Roasted Curry Cauliflower

1 head or 1 bag frozen Cauliflower chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 ½ tbsp. curry spice mix (recipe follows)

2 tbsp raisins

2 tbsp chopped raw almonds

¼ water

1 tsp chopped cilantro (optional)

1 lime wedge

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Steam or thaw cauliflower until al dente. In a 10” nonstick skillet on medium high heat lightly toast almonds. Add spice mixture and stir until fragrant, add cauliflower and raisins and continue to sauté. When spice mixture begins to dry add water and ½ tsp kosher salt. When water evaporates completely stir in cilantro and transfer to a small baking dish. Roast uncovered until just brown on top, about 10 minutes.

Serve with Creamy Minty Quinoa and garnish with lime and fresh mint.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side.

Creamy Minty Quinoa

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 tbsp nonfat greek yogurt

½ tsp fresh mint

Salt to taste

Mix together ingredients in a medium bowl.


Indian Spice Mix

2 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp cumin seed

1 tsp fennel seed

½ teaspoon whole coriander

½ tsp turmeric

1/8tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

Blend ingredients in a spice grinder and store in a small airtight container. Dry toast before using.