Friday, June 21, 2013

Eating Omily: Celebrate the Solstice with Omily Recipes

Happy Summer Solstice, Everyone! I hope you've got plans to celebrate the longest day of the year! Believe it or not, sweet strawberry season is drawing to a close already!!  Have you loaded yourself up with strawberry goodness?  You only have a week or two left to savor the flavor of this special season!  Don't panic if you haven't put up all the strawberries you wanted to.  Cherry season is right around the corner!!  I love strawberries, but cherries are my absolutely  favourite fruit for both eating out of hand, and recipes.  Tart cherry preserves, drunken cherries...those black gold bings that they grow on Race Farm are just absolutely glorious!!  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  What delicious things might you still want to do with strawberries?  How about, strawberry vodka?
Call me crazy, but I don't think it's summer till you've sipped a strawberry blonde martini.  Mmmm...one pint of hulled strawberries, two cups of clean-tasting vodka, and one week to sit together in a jar.  Just strain, and enjoy!  Strawberry vodka stays good at room temperature for a whole year!  And for the martini?  Just shake two parts strawberry vodka to one part orange liqueur with ice.  A shake of bitters can be a nice touch, especially if you don't have the best liqueur on hand.  Skip the bitters and give yourself bonus points if you're making your own!

Last week I tried my hand at making meatballs with (yes, humane) Farmers' Market veal from Consider Bardwell Farms!  This may come as a shock to you, but you just can't avoid male cows dying young if you want to eat cheese.  The cows have to keep having babies, and if the babies aren't the sex that makes more milk...well...just know that they spent their brief lives outdoors in the sunshine, and had lots of time with their mamas.  If you CAN'T get Farmers' Market veal, I implore you to make these with beef instead.  Grocery store beef is still factory farmed and treated horrendously, but the atrocities committed against factory farmed veal are just unspeakable.

ANYWAY, the meatballs were truly spectacular, and I'm high-fiving myself left, right and center for my clever substitutions: romaine for spinach, and cayenne for red pepper flakes in the recipe.  I solemnly swear it is not my ego talking when I say that these were every bit as tasty as the balls found at the Meatball Shop, and that place is my favourite!  AND, so easy!!  Mix, weight them out to 1.5 ounces each, roll in breadcrumbs, then bake in a mini muffin tin for twenty minutes.  We served them with Farmers' Market marinara sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, and lots of grated Parmesan with a salad on the side for an amazingly comfort-foody, and nutrient-packed dinner.
Here they are before we added the sauce!  Beautiful!!  If you look closely, you can see they're a bit mini-muffin shaped.  I used Alton Brown's recipe, which you can find on foodnetwork.com.

Earlier that week, I found the frozen crab cakes I had bought and stuck in the freezer ages ago, so we pulled those out and enjoyed them with loose leaf lettuce, and gently sauted asparagus.  That was such a delicate spring treat!  If the fish mongers at the Farmers' market start selling crab, I will definitely be experimenting with making these from scratch.  As is, I just thawed them, then browned them in coconut oil.
And finally, last night, I got home late from an aerial class, and knew I needed a big dose of protein to feed those growing muscles, but I wanted to keep dinner quick and easy.  Skip had stayed home sick and we both needed to hit the hay early.  I turned to an ingenious recipe I got from the book YOU ALL SHOULD HAVE READ BY NOW, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Don't get this one at the library.  Go buy it.  Now.  Pregerably from a local privately owned bookstore. This book will teach you so much, and will probably change your life on top of it.

The recipe in question is, Eggs in a Nest!  Just take lots of leafy greens, chop them up, saute them with garlic, onions, and dried tomatoes or carrots for extra flavor if you like.  Make depressions in the greens with the back of your spoon, then crack eggs gently into the depressions, one or two per family person eating.  Pop the lid on, and let them poach for three to five minutes, depending on how runny you want your yolks.  Use a pancake turner type spatula to gently lift out the eggs on their bed of veggies, and enjoy!  I served this with whole wheat naan that I heated in the oven, spread with Farmers' Market butter, and sprinkled with sea salt and Farmers' Market rosemary-garlic powder.  It was wonderful.
I think I've just given you enough ideas to meal plan and preserve your way all the way through next week!!  Take advantage of my genorosity: I'm off to Chincoteague, home of the wild Chincoteague ponies starting Sunday!  I'm hoping to blog pictures of Farm stands, beaches, feral ponies, ghost crabs, and sea junk...but with internet only available at the homemade icecream shop...well, actually I guess that's a pretty strong incentive!

Until next time, live the seasons!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Omily Tarot: But How Does It Work??


 It's time to talk Tarot! One of the questions I get asked frequently by people who are new to the tarot is, "How does it work?"  I don't mind this question at all.  People who think they know how it works often either think I'm in league with the devil, or that I wrap my cards in silk every night to nurture the spirits within.  I'm not, and I don't.  Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with keeping your cards wrapped in silk, or under your pillow, or anything like that.  When you put energy into the cards, you get energy out.

Oops! I just spilled the secret, didn't I?  How does the tarot work?  The tarot works because you do.

You don't have to believe in God, spirits, fortune telling, psychics, clairvoyance, or any of that stuff, though the tarot does make some of those things make a lot more sense.

We already know, because of physics, that everything is made of vibrating energy (how cool is that??).  I'm not really clear on the science behind this next part, but it's a sensible leap that our thoughts and emotions are energy, too.  If nothing else, they're electrical impulses in our brains, right?  That's some powerful stuff.  When you direct that energy into something, such as a deck of cards, you'll find it responds in surprising ways.  Over time simple, predictable patterns emerge, but in the beginning you just see a lot of synchronicity: coincidences that are too big, or too frequent to be coincidences.  The same card pops up over and over again, the suit you've recently been reading about is the only one showing up, things like that.  Over time, your energy gets more clear and direct: the cards start offering up answers to question, wisdom, advice, warnings...

That may seem like the impossible leap: if you're thinking about coins a lot, then, sure, maybe somehow your brain knows where the cards are in the deck and keep spitting out coins cards...but how do the cards know what your friend should do about the jerk at her new job?

Because you do.  And she does, too.

If you believe we're spiritual beings having a human experience, then that may seem logical enough.  But even if you don't, think about everything you've learned over a lifetime of experience.  It's a lot.  The proper responses to millions of common situations are there in your brain as learned behavior.   They're just tucked away in hard to recall cracks and crevices.  The tarot doesn't monkey around with your conscious mind.  It dips straight down into that much, provides a voice for all of that accumulated knowledge.  You can think of the tarot as sort of a translator. 

If you believe in the idea of collective conscious: that we have innate wisdom that born with like a set of instincts, or that we all have access to the accumulated wisdom of the ages at all times, then, again, it all seems pretty simple.

The husband, who is skeptical of all things, has experienced enough readings with me to know something is going on there.  He believes that the cards function as beautiful, complex inkblots.  Since each one has so many varied concepts and potential meanings, it's no surprise that we humans can project our situation onto a spread, and get answers out of it that match the pattern and move us forward, getting us the results we want.

Honestly, I'll take that, too.  I don't need it to be magic.  I just know that crazy things happen when you start studying the tarot, and when you get several tarot readers together in one room...well!  You'll just have to come to our next Brooklyn Tarot Meet-Up to find out what that's like!

Don't forget that I'm teaching classes at Bella Vita Fitness in Chelsea!  Come in anytime to check out the space, and take a class, and make sure you tell the person at the desk you were refered by Emily Hursh!  I teach one hour hatha-vinyasa classes Tuesdays at 10:30am, Thursdays at 2:30pm, and Fridays at 1:30pm.  Come yoga with me!

Live Omily,
~em


Monday, June 17, 2013

Living Omily: Joanna Devoe

Lately I've been geeking out over Joanna Devoe's blog, "Kickass Witch: Putting the 'K' in Magick!" She does fun youtube videos (perfect for while I'm putting away the laundry), interviews with women in a variety of related fields, radio shows, and more.

One of the things that I'm really digging about her (besides the fact that she keeps it fun and isn't afraid to be goofy or let loose with a bad pun) is that she's equal opportunity: she embraces the title 'witch' for herself, but doesn't think witchcraft is automatically anything other than a more ritualized form of the law of attraction: believing in your own ability to co-create your reality.

This is one of those things that a lot of people may not think they believe in...but actually do.  Ever picked up a lucky penny?  Prayed for someone you love? Told yourself over and over you'll never make that mistake again? Wanted to kick yourself for even letting yourself think about the possibility of that thing that went wrong?  Apologized for bringing up a sore subject that seemed to start the trouble all over again?

Maybe you do some of those things and then immediately dismiss them as silly superstition, but the point it, it's just something we humans innately do, and I think that's because on some level we instinctively know how powerful we are. There isn't a belief system or religion out there that doesn't embrace the idea that humans are capable of shaping their reality.  In fact, quantum physics is proving some of the things those practicing the laws of attraction have believed on faith for thousands of years: everything is energy, everything is moving, the microcosm mirrors the macrocosm.  In other words, this isn't just for practicing Catholics, Jews, Hindus, and spiritual hippies: Atheists can, and should, get behind this, too!  Awesome!

And the other thing Joanna Devoe believes that makes me want to give her am massive high five is that the law of attraction is at work for everybody all the time.  You don't switch it on by acknowledging it, or avoid it by ignoring it.  It's working for you, or against you, no matter what you do, so it would behoove you to use it, right?

This doesn't have to be a crazy hippie trip, either.  You can totally make vision boards, write long reflections, set aside time each day to visualize...or you can just notice when your thoughts are negative, and try to correct them.  When you notice you're day dreaming about something you want, instead of telling yourself to get back to work, add more sensory details, and see how real you can make your fantasy feel.  Notice if you sabotage yourself, and consider if on some level you don't think you deserve good things.  Your subconscious speaks way louder than your conscious mind.  You can't manifest something you don't feel you deserve to have.  You have to love yourself to manifest stuff that's good for you.  So get on that!
If you're picking up what Joanna's laying down, go check out her stuff and learn more!  If you sign up for her twice-monthly e-mail list, you get a free e-book which has some great stuff in it. I'm really enjoying her three-post series on shadow work I found in her archives.

I'm hoping to put together an e-newsletter in the next few weeks.  If you'd be interested in receiving it, stay tuned!  And if you're interested in doing some Omily Yoga, you're in luck!  I'm offering three classes a week at Bella Vita Fitness (bellavitaworld.com): Tuesday 10:30am, Thursday 2:30pm, and Friday 1:30pm.  All classes are one hour Hatha-Vinyasa.  I'm so excited to experiment, play, sweat, and learn with you guys!  Hope to see you soon!!

Live Omily,
~em


Friday, June 14, 2013

Eating Omily: That Was Smooth!

So as you might recall from a recent post, I'm trying to gently nudge my diet in a healthier direction.  I think it's important to do that versus, 'totally revamping my diet!!!' because, generally speaking, you don't stick to dramatic changes.  Little, slow, subtle ones, though?  Those you can do.  I knew I wanted to eat more fruits and veggies, and maybe cut back on processed carbs, even whole grain ones, but I didn't have a clear direction for how to do that until the smoothie workshop at the Women and Wellness Day event for St. John's alumni on Saturday.  Smoothies!  With Veggies!  Bingo!  So, I've been having a green smoothie every day for nearly a week now, and, it's true: I've already noticed a different in my energy levels.

I've taken to jotting down 'low', 'medium', or 'high' on my callendar at the end of each day so I can track my energy levels and look for patterns, and for the first two weeks, it went something like this: low, low, low, medium, low, low medium, low, low...you get the picture.  A few days into smoothie week, it started to look like this: medium, low, high, medium...can you see it?  It's early to get really excited, but it does look like an improvement!

And let me be clear, the smoothie thing really works for me: it gets lots of veggies into my system, it's something I can take with me when I'm running out the door, it's tasty, it uses up the mountain of veggies I get in my farm share every week, it makes me feel good. THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT WILL, OR SHOULD, WORK FOR YOU. By all means, I recommend giving it a shot if you're interested, but under no circumstances should you guilt yourself into making smoothies, or feel like you're less healthy because you're not into them.  I make a point of saying this because I just don't think that kind of thing is obvious in today's society where, basically, if you aren't all but killing yourself to fit into a smaller jeans size, then you must be a lazy lard ass.  Thanks, Fat Shaming society!

SO, if you would like to give the smoothie thing a try, I recommend first making one.  Just one.  And seeing if you like how it tastes.  If you do, then get your supplies and plan to do one smoothie a day for a week, so you can evaluate how it's effecting your body.  Easy as pie.  Now that we've got all that worked out, I want to share with you my green smoothie tips.  Some of this I learned from the smoothie workshop, and some of this I have learned from experience.  Trust me, it's all good.

Basic Smoothie Ingredients:
1. Dark, leafy greens: anything but iceberg is ok, but the darker the better.  Generally, the darker it is, and the more it needs to be cooked to be eaten, the stronger the flavor it will impart.

2. Liquid: this can be water, iced tea, fruit juice, milk, coconut water...you get the picture.  Keep in mind that this kind of smoothie isn't dessert: it's a super-healthy snack.  Don't use a sweetened juice blend, and don't go too crazy on fruit juice: try mixing it with water.

3. Fruit: For a frosty smoothie texture, you'll want to use frozen fruit.  If your only option is to buy organic frozen fruit, then do that.  Berry mixes tend to be the most versatile.  Frozen bananas add a lot of masking flavor and sweetness, but pack less of a nutritious punch, so you don't want to use them all the time.  The better choice, of course, is to buy and freeze local fruit!  Throw in an apple for extra green-masking sweetness if you need.

4. Extras: chia seeds are amazing because they have such a fantastic balance of healthy fats, protein, and fiber.  Throw in a spoonful or two, and you've got lunch.  Half an avocado will give your smoothie more staying power, too, or even flax seed or flax seed oil.  Protein powder, or nutrient powders are options, too. I find that they just don't taste very good, but lot of people love them for the texture they give. You can treat yourself by blending up frozen bananas with greens, water, a little natural sweetener, and a spoonful or two of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Stevia is a great sweetening choice, raw honey, and 100% pure maple syrup can be good choices, too.  Obviously, don't go too crazy with them.

5. A blender: not a shitty one.  You'll burn out the motor of a cheap one before the week is out.  So far, my Oster model with 'ice crush' and 'easy clean' modes is working really well. Word on the street is that if you get really serious about this, it's only a matter of time till you invest in a vitamix: the Lamborghini of blenders.

That's it.  That's all you need.  Now, onto technique...

Chop your greens.  I know, I know: why do I gotta chop them when they're just getting blended??  Because, greens have these long, stringy fibers, and they're prone to getting wrapped around the blades of your blender in a really obnoxious, impossible to clean, oh shit, my blender smells like rotting salad kind of way.  Just trust me on this one.  Take the extra thirty seconds to roughly chop your greens.
Put your chopped greens, liquid, and any extras or non-frozen fruits you're using in the blender.  Put the blender on a low setting.  PUT THE LID ON YOUR BLENDER.  Turn on your blender.
WATCH CLOSELY.  Are the greens kind of hopping up and down, but not getting sucked down and blended?  Is the blender making kind of a choppy rrRrrRrrRrrR sound?  Turn OFF your blender.  RIGHT NOW.  Do you want to burn out your motor??  Add more liquid.  Just a little at a time.  When you have enough, the blender will effortlessly suck down the greens and chop up everything, and at that point, you can turn your blender up to a more medium setting to get those veggie/fruit/flax seed pieces really small.  When the consistency looks smooth, turn off your blender.  This is a good opportunity to CAREFULLY (when the blades have completely stopped spinning!) stick in a finger for a taste.  Sweet?  Earthy?  Toasty from the flax seeds?  Keep in mind you're about to add more fruit, but if it isn't palatable at all, add more fruit juice, thawed fruit, a little sweetener, or more frozen fruit than you had planned to balance the flavor.  Don't waste your ingredients making a smoothie you won't drink.
I know, it doesn't look like much, yet.  Notice, also, how all those veggies blend down to just about nothing volume-wise.  You can't eat as many raw veggies as you can blend.
NOW, add your frozen fruit or ice cubes.  Go ahead and crank that baby up to the highest setting.  Let it run a bit longer than you think you need to, but not long enough that you're tempted to walk away and do something else while you wait.  Turn off the blender, pour into a glass, and enjoy!  Yay!
That graniness you see is from the flax seeds.  Notice how the frozen fruit changed the color from 'swamp' to 'berries!' The flavor is tart-sweet fruity, but also a little earthy-green, and roasty-toasty.  I love how all those flavors balance each other out, and make me feel like I'm eating a complete (small) meal. This smoothie is likely too intense for a beginner.
BUT WAIT!  You're not done!  Do you want your blender to last more than a week or two?  Remember what I said about the smell of rotting salad? Thought so.  Pour all of the liquid out of your blender jar.  Maybe you made too much. It happens. Pop it in the fridge, or better yet, in popsicle molds in the freezer. Now, rinse out your blender jar thouroughly, carefully using your hands to wipe down the sides a bit.  Nope, still not done!

Put some dish soap in the bottom of your blender jar, and run in some hot water, at least a third of the way up, but not more than three quarters.  Put the lid back on, and turn your blender on low for thirty seconds or a minute.  NOPE, STILL NOT DONE!
Rinse out your blender jar, very thoroughly, again.  Now you may go enjoy your smoothie.  You should still wash out your blender jar the old fashioned way before you use it again, but in a pinch, it is good to go. Do not leave your blender jar full of water to soak.  This seems like a good idea.  It's not.  Don't let your blender dry out before you accomplish this process. Just. Don't.

I know I just made smoothie-making sound very complicated, but truly, after the first couples of times you take your blender for a spin, you'll get a good feel for quantities of ingredients, your blender's speeds and timing, and the cleaning process, and you'll be churning out smoothies and cleaning your blender in under ten minutes. I promise.

 Caution: If you're not a big veggie eater, or have a serious sweet tooth, you will need some time to acclimate to the pleasantly earthy base flavor of a nutrient-packed green smoothie.  Don't rush the process, or you'll just put yourself off smoothies forever.  Start with a fruit smoothie: frozen bananas and berries, water, a little honey...and add just a couple leaves of romaine or spinach.  The next day, add a few more leaves, and a little less fruit.  Over the next few days, play with a banana-free smoothie, or a smoothie with banana, but a decent quantity of green stuff.  Try eliminating the added sweetener, experiment with adding just a little flax seed oil, and if that's ok, try adding just a little whole flax seed.  Don't rush it.  Your taste buds will adjust, and you'll find you love smoothies the color of a swamp eventually, but if you make yourself one of those on day one, you'll just have a negative association with green smoothies, and that's just sad.

I know you've got some smooth moves up your sleeve!  Let's see them!  Tell me how your smoothie-making adventures go!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Omily Tarot: Tarot-getherness

Yay, I can finally tell you all about my Tarot Meet-Up!  Back in the middle of May, I met a new friend.  She had curated the aerial show-case I performed in at the Socrates Sculpture, and as we chatted about this and that, it came out that she was a Tarot studier, too!  I'm always so excited to meet fellow tarot-enthusiasts, because other people's approach to, and take on the cards is always really fascinating. That got me thinking: I know a couple of tarot readers, and I know lots of people who were exploring the tarot, or at least curious about it.  How awesome would it be to get all those people in the same room?  I immediately put the call out on facebook, and upon getting a solid response, I set up a facebook event: a Brooklyn Tarot Meet-Up!
We had to change the date and time a couple times, but finally, there were six or seven of us gathered around a big table, with multiple decks spread out in front of us, and beers and snacks alongside.  Just as I expected, it was an awesome, awesome evening!
The conversations that happen between tarot readers, and the tarot-curious (as I call them) are so fruitful and fascinating!  I got to eavesdrop on two newbs talking about what they thought a card might be based on the images alone (after having read more books than I can remember on what the cards mean, a fresh perspective becomes the holy grail: we were hovering around that conversation like crack addicts around their dealer).
Naturally we talked about other things, too: with four aerialists at the table, we had to talk about flying, and there were other interests to share, too.  It's the other stuff going on in your life that makes you a great reader: the unique spin you bring to the cards that sets you apart from everyone else.
We also talked about different tarot books we liked.  I'm reading The Red Book by Carl Jung, which isn't actually a tarot book, but an archetypal one, and I'm finding it insanely relevant.
I started a facebook group so we can all stay in touch, and easily plan our next meet-up in early July.  We're all pretty excited about it, and I suspect our little group is going to grow...time will tell!
Before I got to the meet-up, I went to St. John's University's Women's Wellness Day: a day's worth of workshops, lectures, and panel discussions about health in body, mind, and spirit geared toward St. John's female alumni.  I had a table set up to share information with, and got a great response: I booked two tarot readings for that same day, and am really looking forward to a series of tarot tutoring sessions I have planned with a third person.  I still have some flyers for 20% off of a single Omily appointment, and 25% off of two booked at once, so mention St. John's Women's Wellness Day, and you can get in on that discount, too!

Hope to tarot with you soon!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Trees, Bikes, and Oh My!: We Have a Long Way to Go

It's been an exciting Omily week! I learned how to care for street trees properly, made a commitment to care for my body more, spent a day at St. John's networking and meeting new clients, and spent an evening with friends exploring the tarot over local craft beer.

Seriously, does it get any better than that?  Some of this stuff is going to wait for a more relevant (i.e., Omily Tarot or Eating Omily) post, but some of it is great to talk about right now!

So, on Thursday, I joined Jasmina, my friend, neighbor, and partner in neighborhood improvement, at a tree care workshop put on my Million Trees NYC.  We adopted twenty-two trees lining the streets of our neighborhood, and by taking this workshop, we learned how to care for them properly, and gained access to free tools, mulch, and other resources.

Some high lights: trees between two and five years from planting are the most vulnerable: the contractor who planted the tree is responsible for watering the tree for the first two years after planting, but it takes about five years for the tree to be well-established enough to weather the droughty conditions of an NYC summer.  Anytime the weather is 85 degrees, and rain-free for a week, your trees are uncomfy and could go for an extra drinky.  Those young trees, who are still growing their root systems, benefit, and can die without, twenty to thirty gallons of water, delivered slowly once a week.  By watering slowly, but deeply, the roots are encouraged to grow DOWN, which leads to a more structurally stable tree (less likely to topple), and also discourages shallow roots from running amok and pushing up the sidewalk.

Trees also benefit from using one of those mini fork-looking gardening tools to rake up and loosen the soil.  This allows water to better percolate down when you're watering, or when it rains.  It's also a big help to remove weeds, since they're competing for the same resources as your tree.  Small flowering plants that aren't heavy feeders/drinkers planted in the tree pit are a great way to advertize to the area that somebody loves this tree, and throwing trash at it would be a crappy thing to do.  Why not show the trees in your 'hood some love?  They give you fresh oxygen and shade, filter dust and polutants out of your air, and add beauty and good energy to your space.  They deserve our support!

Other cool things I saw this week were citibikes!!  Citibikes are getting lots of flack from just about everybody, and obviously it's a system with some issues, but, you guys, HELLO!  It's a BIKESHARE!!!  Less cars, more cooperation.  This is inately a good thing!  Here are some pictures I snapped of the one near 6th and 14th (maybe it was 16th?  18th?).
Yaaaay!!  And, here they are two days later!  Notice the difference between the above photos and these ones...
PEOPLE ARE USING THEM!!!!!  Yaaaaaay!!!!  I haven't hopped on one yet, but I definitely will, and speaking of cardio exercise, I was feeling all kinds of superior after my scathing review of Dr. Hitchcock's fat-shamey article...and then something happened to remind me that just like street trees, and citibikes, I still have a looooong way to go:

For the past few weeks, as I've transitioned into shorts I've noticed something unusual: my thighs rub together when I walk.  This isn't unusual for the vast majority of women, and it's a healthy state for most of those women.  But for ME, it seemed a bit unusual.  Seeing as my size hasn't fluxuated since the end of high school, I kept assuming I had just forgotten what wearing shorts felt like and telling myself to calm down.  ('Chill, Omily, you're a healthy woman, and your thighs are just reminding you of how awesome they are!')

THEN, I was assisting an aerial yoga class, and one of the students referred to my thighs as 'juicy.'  In the moment, I laughed, and agreed that, yeah, my thigh flesh totally gets pinched in certain aerial yoga inversions, just like hers!  Later on, I mulled it over.  Did I self-identify as a woman with juicy thighs?  Did I want to?  'Juicy' is certainly not an insult.  I love juicy chicken, juicy peaches, even juicy thighs...I just thought that mine didn't necessarily fit that category. 

I brushed it off at the time, but between the constant feeling of thigh-on-thigh, and the 'juicy' comment, I found myself spending way too much time examining myself naked in the full length mirror.  Hmmm...could it be?  Could they be bigger?  In spite of all my hard work at accepting myself and others just as we are, the thought made my heart pound, and not in a good way. I finally decided that I should measure my thighs and hips, thereby proving to myself that my body was objectively just the same as always and this was all in my head.  Thanks shitty media!  I pulled out the measuring tape, and...oh.  My thighs and hips were, objectively, two inches bigger around than they were the last time I measured them.  Days later, I've recognized how INSIGNIFICANT this finding is, and am feeling pretty solid about my (juicy?) thighs, but at the time, I went into an all-too-recognizable tailspin:

It was all there: the whiny tone of voice, the use of the word 'fat' in a negative, accusatory sense, guilt that I had been neglecting my body, the sense of betrayal: that I could no longer trust my body to look after itself.  I rushed from one rash idea to another: no more Sunday morning pre-church pastries...adding a toning routine to my evening...cutting out dairy...but even in the midst of this clearly unhealthy reaction, there was another voice.  It sounded something like this:

"Oh pipe down, it's two damn inches. You fit into all the same clothes, and no one, not even your husband who sees you naked a lot, has noticed. You are essentially the same. Look at your Mom: your thighs and hips are going to soften and grow with age. It's normal and healthy. And if you think for one damn second that I'm going to waste my time doing leg lifts when I could be meditating or sleeping, you've got another thing coming! Going off dairy...honestly...I only have one thing to say to that, you loon: CHEESE."

In spite of all the craziness, a sensible part of my brain was stonewalling: flatly refusing any severe changes to my diet and lifestyle, on the grounds that my diet and lifestyle are HEALTHY.  Thank God, all my effort wasn't for naught!  I may not have been able to erase the old, negative recordings, but I was able to add some new ones!

Over the next few days, I worked toward making peace with my body by tuning into that sensible voice more, and talking down that bat-shit voice when it popped up. Also, because it is possible, given that I'm a little young for age-related softening and growing, that a hole in my self-care regimen is adding to extra padding, I took an honest look at my diet and lifestyle:

Oh, I could have a little bit more restraint toward carbs. I decided to add a green smoothie to my daily diet, because more green stuff is never a bad thing, smoothies are delicious, and the extra influx of fiber, water, and sweetness might satisfy my carb cravings.  This fresh look made me realize that I hadn't been completely honest with myself about my exercise routine: between aerial and yoga, there is no question that I get more than enough weight-bearing exercise to keep my muscles and bones strong.  Now that I spend at least twenty minutes stretching every night, I'm confident I'm maintaining and increasing my full range of motion, and keeping my muscles limber to prevent injury. 

However, I do ZERO cardio.  Well, ok, people go on about sexercise, but I'm not doing that for an hour straight three times a week, more's the pity.  I do walk a lot, living in NYC, and I've spent years telling myself that's enough, but I am not sustaining an elevated heart rate on any kind of a regular basis.

Women die of heart disease.  It's not a joke, and here's the thing, there are two sides to the fat acceptance coin: fat people generally get worse health care because any complaints they have are chalked up to their fat.  Thin people can have serious problems with blood sugar or their cardiovascular system that fly under the radar because doctors assume thin people are healthier.  We know this is not true.  On some level, I was falling back on the same fat-shaming, bullshit excuse: "I'm thin, so I don't need to worry about cardio!"  Not true.  Heart disease runs in my family (it pretty much runs in everybody's).  Loving myself just the way I am means taking proper care of myself reguardless of how close to society's ideal I look.

And that.  Sigh.   Means incorporating cardio into my life three times a week.  I hate cardio.

So yesterday the husband and I ran the Prospect Park loop.  We did intervals: two minutes running, and two minutes brisk walking, back and forth.  I was miserable before the first two fast minutes were up.  I was REALLY miserable by the time we'd made it back to 15th Street, and home was still twenty minutes away.  We were absolutely beat the rest of the day, and I'm really sore this morning, but that just proves how much my body needs this: I'm in pretty crappy shape!

We'll be mixing up our cardio routine with zumba classes (me), and cycling (him/both of us), and I'm looking forward to having better stamina in the skies, and on the ground as we continue.  It's also giving a me a new body-acceptance challenge: constantly checking in and reminding myself of why I'm doing this: it's not about my thighs.  Maybe they'll shrink a little.  After all, my lower body doesn't get a ton of exercise in aerial, whereas my cardio exercises are all lower-body focused.  That would be ok.  Maybe they won't, because this is my healthy body right now, and that will be ok, too.

Juicy thighs, healthy heart.  Juicy thighs, healthy heart.  Juicy thighs, healthy heart...see you in the park!

Live Omily,
~em

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eating Omily: What's the Opposite of Shark Week?

It's taken a while to get back into my meal-planning groove, and there are still hitches here and there: yesterday the husband had to stop and buy pizza dough on the way home because I ran out of time to make it from Farmers' Market flour.  Ah, well.  Last week was even crazier, though we got off to a good start with a General Tso's stir fry with sprouted tofu as the protein.
After listerally dreaming about the stinging nettles I had boiled and then stuck in the fridge, pan of water and all, before leaving on our trip, I knew I had to do something.  I sniffed them for signs of ickiness, strained them, and tried drinking a glass of the resulting elixer, so strongly steeped it looked black until you shown a light through it.  Then it looked very, very green.
Not bad, actually, though I haven't drank anymore of it yet, and there's a whole quart sitting in there.  It's supposed to be great for allergies.  I'll let you know. Some of the soggy nettles themselves found themselves in a quesadilla, where they were quite tasty, if subtle.

When I picked up my CSA share on Monday, it became apparent that this was Salad Week (Ding! Ding! Ding!: the opposite of Shark Week!) I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but I got big bags of spinach, arugula, romaine, and kale.  I also got a head of green lettuce, a bunch of radishes, a bunch of spring onions, a bunch of swiss chard, and a couple potatoes, all for only $15.  Absolutely mind-boggling.  If you look closely, you can see the bottom of the sprouted tofu pack, and the bottom of the pan of steeping nettles in the picture directly below. Isn't that exciting? I'm trying to show how the CSA turned my fridge into a jungle, but I fear the pictures aren't that clear.

We have literally eaten salad everyday: spinach salad with strawberries and walnuts on Monday, arugala salad with pickled beets and sliced apples on Wednesday, pizza with salad on the side on Thursday, and on Tuesday, to help cleanse our palates from all the green stuff, nachos!  They look good already, don't they?  Organic blue corn chips, Farmers' Market slow-cooked black beans, and fresh spring onions...but a crucial ingredient is missing!
 Ah, much better!  New York State extra sharp cheddar cheese...
 And, bam.  So, so delicious.  We served them with salsa and guacamole,
 and of course, a salad on the side.
Tonight we'll be having...salad.  I was going to do a ceaser, but I'll have to fake it a bit since we used up a lot of the romaine in last night's salad we served with the pizza.  I have a great recipe from Candice Kumai for a ceaser dressing made with yogurt for a healthier, tangier twist.  I'll let you know how it goes next week.

Are you having Salad Week at your house?  For locavores, this is the season to eat those fresh, tender greens till you can't stand it anymore!  When it heats up for good, they'll be gone till fall!  What are your favorite ways of sprucing up a salad, or making an indulgent meal a little healthier (ala black bean nachos without too much cheese)?  Think you'll serve any of these dishes in your house this week?  I definitely recomend it!

Happy Spring!  You can join that fabulous CSA: just go to the Union Square Farmers' Market on Monday, and stop by Central Valley Farm's stall!  It's pay-as-you-go, and you can always take a week off if you'll be out of town.  When the season gets in full swing and the share gets even bigger (yes, that's possible), the price goes up to $20 a week.  If anything, it's an even better value.

Nom nom nom...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

the Omily Tarot: Baby, There's a Snark in the Water: When the Tarot has an Attitude


 Oh, Tarot!  You hold such secrets...such wisdom...such...snark?!

Oh, yes.

Ever been giving a reading, only to find yourself embarrassed to tell your querent what the cards are saying because what they are saying isn't particularly nice?  If you've been reading for long, I'll bet the answer is 'yes.'  What gives?  Tarot guidebooks don't list a 'sarcastic interpretations' section.  The tarot's supposed to be enlightening and empowering, not snappy or snarky!

This is a good time to remind yourself that the cards are just the cards, printed on paper, most likely by a game company.  The snark's not in your deck.  It's in you.  Or at least, it probably is.  There's one other source of card snark, but we'll get to that later.

Don't get all defensive!  First of all, card snark doesn't have to be bad.  Maybe your querent needs some tough love: a kick in the pants to snap them out of it before they can see their situation clearly.  Maybe your querent has the kind of sense of humor that will appreciate the irony of a pack of cards communicating through sarcastic zingers.

To get to the root of whats going on, and to find out if it needs to be addressed, take a quick time out, and assess your feelings about this querent.  Did her or his question force you to suppress an eye roll?  Have you done one too many readings for this person lately?  Maybe it's not this particular querent.  Have you done too many 'finding true love' readings lately?  What about too many readings in general?  We tend to resort to sarcasm and bluntness when we're just too mentally exhausted to speak in a more nuanced manner.  This could be a symptom of burn-out.  If you need a break, take it.

If none of those things are true, then maybe this is just the way you're sensing your querent needs to hear the message.  Let it fly, but be willing to accept the consequences.

There is one other possibility, and that's our other source of card snark: the querent!  Red flags that this is the case is if your querent is the one pointing out the card's snappiness, or if you already know your querent is proficient in snark him or herself.  If snark is the language your querent is fluent in, that's the language the tarot is going to speak.  If the querent expects or thinks he or she deserves to be scolded by the tarot, that's the voice he or she is going to hear.

If that's the case, be honest about the voice you're hearing.  Point out ways the tarot is tempering its harsh message (if there are any).  Talk to the querent about how the tarot will generally reflect the inner voice of one of the two of you, and if it's the querent in this case, he or she should think about how frequently she or he is this tough on him or herself.  The solution the querent seeks may be as simple as cutting her or himself some slack, or cultivating some compassion.

Do the cards ever get snarky when you do readings for yourself?  When it's just you, does it give you a laugh, or do you find it unsettling?  The cards may be asking you to confront your snarky (shadow) side!  Sometimes we kind of want to say mean things.  Sometimes we feel like being smart-asses.  If we try to shove that down, it's going to pop out somewhere as the Tower, and we know that's no fun!  Give your sarcastic self a little room to run in situations where you know no one's going to get hurt.  The tarot can also give you snark for the same reasons it gives snark to a querent: should you know this lesson by now?   Are you over-using the tarot and tuckering out your subconscious?  Give it a rest, and see if it's a little sweeter next time.

Do you have anything to add to the tarot snark conversation?  Is there a reason for card snark that I missed?  Let me know!  Maybe I'll bring up card snark this weekend at the first (as far as we're concerned!) Brooklyn Tarot Meet-up!  I'm really looking forward to an evening chatting and playing with cards over local beers in Carol Gardens, and I'm also looking forward to blogging about it in my next Tarot post.  Until then, happy taroting!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Big, Fat, Shameful Lies

Every now and then an article comes along, and it just blows your mind.  And not in the good, "I'm going to share this with EVERYBODY and harass them until they read it!!!" way, but in the, "Oh shit, is there any way I can get this pulled from the internets?" way.

Of course, that kind of knee-jerk reaction is patently unhelpful.  First of all, no, there is no way to pull anything from the internets ever, and more importantly, when free speech leads to bad speech, the cure is more speech, not less.  And thankfully, the internets always has plenty!  I can waste hours reading snarky responses to junk science, sexist propaganda, and other articles peddling untruths.  Such articles are so plentiful, and of such quality, in fact, that I very rarely ever write one of my own.  But every now and then the situation seems to call for one.  I wrote just such a response to an article advocating global veganism, and now I have to write one in response to an article advocating that fat people shut their cake holes and stop being disgusting gluttons.

Yes.  Seriously.  That's a summation of the article in question.  To be fair, it's couched in lots of gentle language and all but tearful apologies for being forced to speak such 'ugly truths'...but it's not couched in a whole lot of sound science.

That might come as a shock to you because in our country we're all pretty thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that calories translate precisely to fat, and that having a slender body type is a simple matter of hitting that 2,000 a day number every day.  If you're very confused as to what's wrong with that concept, well, there's a whole lot of research you can do, but I think this article from the blog, Shapely Prose is a pretty basic myth-busting place to start. Follow the links and learn, learn, learn! This is a particularly long, and particularly researched, blog post, because this is a really important issue, and I took the time to deconstruct the entire article by Dr. Hitchcock.  If it seems like too much for you to read, then just read the information at the link above, and share it with a friend.  You'll be doing so much good just by that alone.

Have you made it this far?  Sticking with me till the end?  Ready to tear a biased article to shreds??  Let's go!  As in my last article critique, I'll be going through this article paragraph by paragraph, citing each as it appears numerically from the top.  So point '3.' is written about the third paragraph from the top of the article, etc.

Here's the article in question: "Fat City: What Can Stop Obesity?" by Karen Hitchcock.   Read along, starting with the first paragraph from Dr. Hitchcock's article, then the critique of paragraph one below.

1. TL;DR: I once knew a really really fat American, and she wasn't a disgusting stinky slob! I won't even explicitly say that her husband was a lard ass.  I mean, obviously this fat woman couldn't be married to a non-fat man!

2. I kind of just want to keep going with the TL;DR format because it has such great humor potential: "I'm a huge asshole who judges other people for what they eat as if it's any of my damn business!"  But truthfully, I'd be taking the easy way out and skipping over a crucial point.  I really doubt Dr. Hitchcock measured those heavy, oily discs.  Half a meter is something like a foot and a half...I could easily eat a pizza a foot across as a meal. They also only did this once a month.  Healthy?  No.  Insane Aussie-mind-blowing gluttony??  No.  Don't even get me started on the 'huge', vomit-inducing bowl of guacomole. Guacomole with a spoon??  She could write a whole horror movie based on that image alone! What the hell does 'huge' mean?  Why do we care what Emily and her family ate?  Oh, right, because you're an asshole who judges people and makes vast assumptions based on one experience...

3. Dear Dr. Hitchcock, have you considered being evaluated for a possible eating disorder?  I'm not being glib; she's exhibiting what could be symptoms: Why are you so obsessed with what other people are eating?  And so afraid of fat?  You went to a beloved friend's house for dinner and...sat there with eyes as wide as saucers as her family ate like normal people?  And now you're a doctor and Australia is full of fat people!  You know, I suspect a good psychologist could get to the root of your fear of fat people.  Maybe it has to do with homesickness when you were studying abroad?  Did I mention your status as a doctor and the obesity rate in Australia has NOTHING TO DO WITH POOR GENEROUS, ENTHUSIASTIC EMILY AND HER FAMILY???

4. Oh look!  Another story about a fat person!  Louise likes to read literary novels and eat chocolate while sick!  And you can't bring yourself to talk to her about how her size may be affecting her condition ('as you press your stethoscope into her white flesh...' This is starting to sound like a fetish...and then you start talking about 'Puritan'! Honestly, it's too easy...).  It's pretty clear this paragraph is only in here to try to prove that Dr. Hitchcock is a sweet, caring compassionate woman who really doesn't want to hurt fat people, but they've given her no choice.  I'm going to interupt the snark for another actual point: you didn't cite your claim there that the most likely cause of life-threatening pneumonia was most likely her excess weight, but you're a doctor, and I'm busy, so I'll let it stand. The obesity didn't make her get pneumonia; it only made it more difficult for her body to cope with it.  Worth mentioning, sure, but it's hardly accurate to say that her fat has 'harmed her in ways she may not have realized.'

5. Oh thank God!  She admits it!!  "I no longer know what to do about the obese..."  I have a thought, Doctor.  LEAVE THEM THE FECK ALONE!  Yes, she's a doctor, but none of the conditions we commonly associate with obesity have actually been proven to be caused by obesity.  Not a damned one.  Treat the diseases being presented: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, etc.  It's such a shame, though.  Instead of taking my advice she takes back the first intelligent thing she's said: "I have moments of clarity...(BASED ON WATCHING ONE OBESE PERSON EAT KIND OF A LOT OF PIZZA!)...and obesity seems simple: more in than out"  That's not science, Doctor.  You should know that.  The SCIENCE engulfs her in silly complicated things like genetics, and hormones.

6. We're finally getting to the heart of the matter.  Dr. Hitchcock loves reading articles like, "How I lost 25 Kilos".  Such articles are not found in scientific journals.  Perhaps we should try mailing her some of those with that headline taped over the studies showing how eating less only makes you lose weight if you restrict your calories extremely, and then increase your intake to a less severe caloric restriction FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, such as those discussed in this article from the Times.    Her preoccupation with food, and her blind faith in the idea that ice cream or an extra slice of cheese will result in the vile punishment of extra cellulite, especially considering she's a DOCTOR, definitely suggests an unhealthy relationship with food and her body.

7. What is with this explicit description of Lena Dunham?  This feels the same to me as the description of 'pressing the stethoscope into soft, white flesh.' It continues to point to an obsession with other peoples' bodies.  Also, why is eating multiple cupcakes in a bathtub ok, but not eating a whole pizza once a month?  Oh!  I know, I know!!  It's because Lena Dunham isn't obese and Emily is!  Did I mention you're a fat-shaming asshole

8. I'm really confused by this paragraph.  I'm pretty sure it's just more of her digging for sympathy from her audience, but she's doing such a crappy job of it.  She'd be willing to hang out with smart, sassy, pissed-off girls, but she's pretty sure they'd look like her if they could.  Maybe Lena Dunham, too.  Why don't you call her and suggest she stop eating cupcakes in the bath since that's obviously all she'd have to do to look like a runway model?

9. First off, yes, that is an empirical question, and no, fat is not inherently ugly.  Have you ever studied history, Doctor?  Too busy reading women's magazines aimed at crushing your sense of self esteem (you need to stop; they seem to be working)?  Fat people are considered hot in cultures where fatness is rare.  What's considered sexy is often tied to societal signs of wealth: orthodontics, tropical vacations, and gym memberships (allegedly) contribute to a look our culture finds sexy.  Go back one-hundred years, and the teeth might still be ok, but the tan and lack of soft curves would be a total turn-off.  We may well see a triumph of will over gluttony (though that's not what's actually there) but to suggest that assholes like YOU pandering this myth that thin=healthy, like you're doing now, doesn't contribute to that equation, to suggest that the average person doesn't believe thin is healthy and fat is unhealthy is just reprehensible.  Why don't YOU take a little personal responsibility before you point fingers at your fat sisters?

10. The Framingham Heart Study, huh?  Well, a lot of people are questioning that study...but I won't even go there because I can't find a really reliable source for it, so we'll assume it's totally solid: if you read the findings on the study on Wikipedia, it turns out that back in the 1960's, a correlation was found between obesity and heart disease: obese people had a higher risk of heart disease.  Ever since, the vast majority of studies have shown no correlation.  The subject should be closed by now.  In fact, there's such a thing as an 'obesity paradox' where doctors like Dr. Hitchcock stand around and scratch their heads because OBESE PEOPLE COPE WITH HEART DISEASE BETTER THAN THIN ONES.  Check it out here: Science!  All those studies that show such dire consequences for weight gain?  There were funded by companies that sell weight loss products and methods. Yay Capitalism!  And guess what, Asshole.  You are earning zero bonus points from me for saying you 'wish it wasn't true' because YOU'RE IGNORING SCIENCE!  And the whole, 'I wish obese people could be considered beautiful' comment?  Someone should punch you.  Hard.  Obese people can be beautiful.  Obese people are beautiful.  Obese people are people just like you, you close-minded, self-centered douche bag. Do you honestly believe that no one finds cheek bones and long, slim thighs to be unattractive?  How did you make it through medical school?  Should I make some joke about Australian medical school now?

11. Just skip it. It's only another anecdotal story about how gross fat people are.  (Ew, sandbags??!!!??!?!)  I'm just wondering Doctor, if this person had a tumor obscuring his spine instead of fat tissue, would you be this disturbed?  Didn't think so.

12. Doesn't this sound barbaric?  Do we really hate fate people so much that we want them to go through with this?  Worse, do fat people really hate themselves so much as to voluntarily go through it?  If such extreme measures as these are the only way obese people can lose weight, doesn't that suggest that maybe they aren't supposed to lose weight?  That maybe that's just the way their bodies are?  I do so love her cavalier attitude about checking for underlying conditions that may be contributing to their struggle.  She checks for 'catastrophic hormone' disorders.  What about hypothyroidism?  What about depression?  What about genetic propensity?  Ah, but such things don't fit neatly into her dychotomy.  If you're obese, in her world, you must be a sloppy glutton (who eats huge, oily discs).  Your size can't be a coincidence, unrelated to your unhealthy eating habits and the diseases that have resulted from them.  Interestingly enough, the fact that people who go through these procedures often have their diabetes improve immensely and even resolve very quickly after the procedure, long before they've had time to lose any weight, only proves that excess fat was never the cause of the condition.

13. Wow, every time you eat you find yourself preoccupied with your esophagus squeezing down the food?  You weren't overweight at all but you lost over ten pounds?  I can't believe you are counseling other people about their relationship with food when it seems so apparent that you need such counseling yourself.  I shouldn't be surprised, though.  I had issues with fat people when I struggled with body acceptance issues, too.  It's why things like this piss me off so much, and why I'm such a huge proponent of fat acceptance.  We're teaching people to judge and hate other people based on how they look, and that's not making us love ourselves, no matter how thin we may be.

14. Look out!  It's another anecdote!  Strangely enough, she doesn't mention her brother being obese at all...could it be possible that he's NOT OBESE?  In spite of having high blood pressure??  I wonder what the 'ridiculous amount of food' is that he eats.  Does he get extra cheese on his cheeseburgers?  Does he eat pizza once a month?  I shudder just thinking about it.  Could it possibly be that if he quits smoking and drinking so much, his blood pressure would drop a good deal without his weight changing on iota?  Could it be possible that changing his diet won't change his weight one iota, either?  YES, DR. HITCHCOCK!  YES, IT CAN!

15. Just an aside: I can't believe she's still writing.  Apparently without a cocktail of drugs, fat people will die by thirty!  Where in the hell did all these fat people not taking fistfulls of pills come from, then??  You are not fitting Dr. Hitchcock's narrow worldview!  GO DIE, FATTY! Where are these cost percentages coming from?  Maybe she charges her fat patients more since she has to put up with how disgusted she is by them.  I can't deny that it's really hard to carry around a lot of extra weight.  You adjust, of course. One of the reasons fat people eat more food is because they have faster metabolisms.  Did I just blow your mind?  True facts!! It takes a lot more energy for a really heavy body to get around than a thin one, so the body burns a lot more calories.  And they still can't lose weight on a mildly restrictive diet!

16. What.  Do I even have to say anything?  I just...I don't even...gas guzzling cars??  Yes, Dr. Hitchcock, these are ugly sentences.  They also make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE.  You are either a horrible person, or a horribly misled one.  Perhaps both.

17.So...did you help Nora get her diabetes under control by suggesting lifestyle changes and medications?  How about recomending she take cinnamon as a supplement, as it has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels?  How about recommending Nora get a freaking pedicure for her unkempt feet?  How about that, Doctor?

18. Oh, I see. Instead of doing those things, you told her a major surgery that would make it impossible for her to consume food or interact in food/drink-centered social situations normally FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE  (If you'd like to learn about weight loss surgery...not the horror stories, mind you, but just the universally acknowledged results and side effects, and one person's not particularly unusual experience with weight-loss surgeries, check out this Web MD article, this Bloomberg Business Week article, and this blogpost on Shapely Prose. For even more balance, click on the link to the post about Heidi's choice to have weight loss surgery in the first paragraoh of the blog post I linked to, and the situation she was in that made it her only choice.) was better for her than...being fat.  I applaud you for at least talking about making healthy lifestyle choices.  I wag my finger at you for implying to her that she wouldn't eat cookies if she loved her daughter.  Way to feel remorse, Doctor, but it means nothing if it doesn't make you think critically about what you're telling innocent people who trust you to be a professional and know your shit.

19. So...the patient tells you they eat normally, even healthily, but you're assuming they're lying and actually eat two-dozen donuts in one sitting?  Ok, ok, they are here because they have serious diseases most often caused by an unhealthy diet, so some skepticism is warranted.  I believe, I hope at least, that these people aren't being referred to you for their weight alone, but for their somber diagnoses that are presumed to be related to their weight. Why in the world would you ask them what the largest meal they ever ate was?  Am I supposed to be impressed by that?  Eventually, you cajole them into admitting they eat 'mind-boggling' amounts of food.  So that would be something like...a couple of cokes in the afternoon?  A pizza once a month?  I'm not saying those are healthy eating habits, and if those choices are causing diabetes, or heart disease, then obviously they need to change, but those things will not make a naturally thin person obese.

20. So the specialist in the field is fat.  Thanks for letting us know.  I realize you believe that this has something to do with his credibility, and, you know, perhaps it does.  PERHAPS HE ACTUALLY HAS SOME GOD DAMN UNDERSTANDING OF HIS PATIENTS' SITUATION!  The poetic image of a sweating and red-faced fat doctor trying to explain real science which you cheerily ignore because it conflicts with what you learned about that person you met in the 80's is telling me a lot about your credibility, Doctor, not his.

21. Actually, Doctor, YOU CANNOT KNOW how another person experiences hunger.  You do not get to say if someone is genuinely hungry or not, unless that person is hooked up to scanners and measurers that can track in real time the state of this person's stomach, hormones, and brain chemicals.  I don't even know if that's possible, but I know you're not doing it. Also, Doctor, you haven't actually told us.  Do YOU describe to this miracle diet you seem to be advocating?  Do YOU go home and dump out all the cookies in your house?  Do YOU never eat popcorn or candy at the movies, or order an extra glass of wine because you're enjoying the conversation?  Why is it ok for you to eat these things, but not for someone who is fat?  Could it be...because you're a prejudiced asshole?

22. Well, insenstive recovering anorexic friend, if you look at the facts, only the most fat people, the most morbid of the morbidly obese, see increased rates of disease and death, whereas you don't have to be very underweight AT ALL before you're putting your health at risk.  Fish and chips may not be the healthiest food ever, but that infusion of fat and protein does do positive things for a body, whether that body's big or small.  And why is it that a week's worth of calories (actually if its a week's worth of calories for someone 200 pounds over weight, it's a couple more week's worth of calories for a small person) is ok for a thin person to eat, but not for a fat person?  If you can stay thin when you eat that stuff, does that make it magically good for you?  Only in Dr. Hitchcock's funny version of reality!

23. Yes, there's a lot of research being done on weight loss, and funny thing: in spite of all that research, we haven't figured out how to make it happen!!  Out of the millions of people in the U.S. who have tried to lose weight, only about 10,000 have managed to keep it off for at least two years.  Did you read that Times article I linked to earlier?  It explains the science behind that problem.  If you try to lose more than 10% of your mass, your body will fight you tooth and nail, and use every hormone and brain activity weapon in its arsenal to get that weight back onto you, for YEARS after you've lost the weight.  That's what the research tells us, Dr. Hitchcock.  Meanwhile, as you pointed out, billions of dollars are being spent tricking us into eating stuff that is not good for us.  Under these circumstances, it's unrealistic at best to suggest personal responsibility is sufficient to make an obese person thin, and it's a huge, unproven assumption to say it's necessary to make an obese person thin to make him or her healthy.

24. Oh, Dr. Hitchcock!  Could it be?  Could it be that you're getting it??  That an obese person and a thin person could, and likely do, have similar diets and similar caloric intakes, but one has a body chemistry that packs on fat, and one does not?? Spoiler alert: No.

25. Funny thing, Doctor, it DOES work that way!  When people are full, people stop eating! Some of those people get fat! Others do not!

26. So charming that you've listed 'fatness' as a consequence here.  What's wrong with 'fatness', doctor?  You've listed it separately from diseases and early death, which is the closest thing to the truth you've said so far: if you eat a crappy diet, you will not be healthy.  You may or may not also be fat.  I happen to think it DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU'RE FAT OR NOT! Apparently Dr. Hitchcock thinks it does. What a compassionate, loving individual!  She also thinks that the problem with fat people being depressed and getting married less often is with the fat people, and not with the JUDGMENTAL ASSHOLES LIKE HERSELF WHO WON'T MARRY THEM AND WHO JUDGE THEM AND MAKE THEM HATE THEMSELVES!

27. Yes, because shaming fat people is awesome.  You know, my husband last night tried to defend this article to me by pointing out that Dr. Hitchcock and I both feel that eating lots of unhealthy food makes you unhealthy, leads to disease, etc.  However, dear Dr. Hitchcock takes it as gospel truth that before you get ill, you will first get FAT, and getting FAT is pretty much the WORST THING EVER!!!  Whereas I believe the SCIENCE that says that we are all pretty much set in terms of how much fat our bodies like to carry, and regardless of how we eat (provided we don't go to extremes), we'll all be pretty much that size.  Basically this critique of this article is a blog post about fat acceptance: one lonely shouting voice trying to point out to you how the medical establishment shames and blames overweight people instead of helping them.  Show pictures of the liver overrun with fat, show pictures of limbs amputated due to diabetes. Don't show skin infections cause by folded over skin, because that has nothing to do with the health problems caused by the products in question for the vast majority of people.

28. We worry about them, but our solution is to put a physical impediment in place so if they continue the deeply entrenched eating habits they have now, they will risk catastrophic complications and possibly die.  Oh, alright then.

29. This poor guy.  He's been shamed into thinking that because of his size, he's not allowed to eat fried foods or cokes, and when he's tried to stop, he's been faced with a compulsion so strong, and frightening, that he's been unable to!  Surely the good doctor will respond with compassion and help in the form of counseling, etc.

30. Or, you know, more shame, and dismissal of his experience.  It's so sad to me that the patient thinks the weight is the problem, too.  If only he were educated to know better, to understand that using food for comfort is the problem he has, not being fat.  Maybe Dr. Hitchcock will set him straight and make that referral for counseling!

31. What a pleasant surprise!  She DOES make the referral!  Thank goodness, this one client has a shot at a real solution for his real problems, instead of the one Dr. Hitchcock thinks he has. And then she goes on to suggest that most psychologists suck at their jobs and don't help anybody...maybe she met a bad psychologist back in the 80's.

32. It makes sense to me that Dr. Hitchcock would think an obese person with a compulsive eating disorder would represent the norm.  After all, she believes that all people who are fat ate a bunch of crap to get that way, and she got so freaked out by watching a cartoon of the first stage of digestion that she started eating really slow and lost ten pounds when you weren't overweight to begin with.  However, she is wrong.  I'm sure the clinical definition of 'morbidly obese' is crap, because the BMI is crap (here's a cool flickr project where people post pictures of themselves, and their classification according to BMI.  Possible trigger alert for people struggling with a disordered eating mindset. Here's ten reasons why the BMI is crap), however, it may be true that there are certain extreme sizes that simply cannot be reached without the help of cheap, nutrient-free junk food.  Most of us eat that stuff.  Most of us aren't morbidly obese.  What does that tell you?  Oh, P.S., telling us to google something isn't a source.  That's actually called fat shaming.

33.Very true, there is a point, which varies considerably from person to person, when the body simply cannot support the excess weight it's being asked to support, and serious problems begin to occur.  If someone's size makes them incapable of walking, it's safe to say a state of health is being lost.

34. You don't actually know what it takes, if anything, to get that fat, Dr. Hitchcock.  You are ten pounds underweight, which actually is a BMI associated with serious health risks.  What do these facts about people who have lost large amounts of weight tell us?  By themselves, not much, but they do back up science that suggests dieting is much less healthy than being fat, and that fat is not an indicator, or a cause, of health problems. 

35. I have a bright idea, Dr. Hitchcock, which you may not have fully considered: if your tools as a doctor are not the appropriate ones to help a person who is indeed so fat that their health is being affected, why are you attempting to use them for this purpose?  Shouldn't you be referring the person to someone with the right tools for the job?  Shouldn't you be using the tools of a scientist: critical thinking, observation, testing, etc, to learn about the state of health of your patients and how they got that way?  I'm pretty sure there are lots of resources other than you, actually.  Where did you get that idea?

36. Now here's something I'm happy to quote Dr. Hitchcock on!  "Forget obesity as a disease; it's a ruse."  So so true!!  Obesity isn't a disease!  It's a state of optimum health for many many people!  Then she goes on to make all of these vast assumptions based on people who are made unhealthy by eating an unhealthy diet, and most probably coincidentally are also fat.  SHE is the one making obesity a disease.  Not the good doctor, trying to make people understand that fat people are fat people, not lazy gluttons in need of more self-control. 

37. You know, Dr. Hitchcock is totally right that too many of us are eating too much crap and not enough real food, and it's taking an expensive toll on our collective health.  But she completely discredits herself and throws all her efforts into the garbage by making this a conversation about fat, and how gross fat is.  That's fat-shaming.  It's not helpful.  It's not going to save anybody.  It's not going to change anything. 

38. TL;DR The Whole Article Along with the Last Paragraph: The choice was in your hands, Doctor, to open a real conversation about the issues of how "the free market" is being allowed to harm human beings by feeding us toxins and crap.  Instead, you contributed to the culture of fat shaming.  Go sit in the corner, Doctor, and think about what you've done.

Can you e-mail the good doctor and let her know all that is wrong with her article?  That would be amazing.

Live Omily,
~em