I have a Healthy Relationship with Food; a BIG goal achieved

This month I took on a big challenge. I decided to try a very restricted eating program. For 30 days I committed to a diet of no sugar, no grain of any sort, no legumes, no dairy, no alcohol, no artificial ingredients, no fake foods. Did I say I was a chef? Did I say I love food, the experience of cooking and dining? I love to bake, rich gooey desserts and a grilled cheese sandwich has made me swoon once or twice. My husband also went on this diet. I cook most of our meals and he wasn’t going to eat something I couldn’t. He agreed to join me for weight loss and health reasons.
My goal with such a restrictive diet came from some gastro- intestinal issues. Eliminating dairy and wheat etcetera might be a chance to see what is really bothering me. Also, I have been working to lose weight. After ten years of gaining weight I knew I had to get some control. I either had to prove to myself that there was a medical reason i was gaining weight, or I was going to lose weight. I worked very hard to lose 35 pounds in seven months. But I want to lose more. This diet was going to allow me to evaluate my eating habits. I have self discipline but not where food was involved. Yes Please was my answer when offered- just about anything. I felt and still do, that I have a Healthy Relationship with Food. I have completed a series of artwork on that theme. But I didn’t like feeling heavy, and unhealthy. The person in the mirror didn’t look like the woman inside. So, for a gift to myself I decided to try new things.
It has been hard, I have had to cook just about every meal my husband and I have eaten. That takes work, we can’t have toast and peanut butter for breakfast, or oatmeal, or just about everything we were used to eating in the morning. I learned to make a few dishes that we enjoyed- an almond flour waffle with coconut oil rather than butter was satisfying with fresh pineapple simmered in apple juice. Eating a sweet potato hash for breakfast with apples and walnuts was also pretty enjoyable. Some folks have eliminated “carbs” from their diet and I can see how that can be a challenge. But, with a bit of creativity we not only cut out starchy foods but we added many healthy foods that I would not have eaten regularly. Parsnip mash with vegetable stock and olive oil is wonderful side dish to a hearty stew of chicken sausage and mushrooms. We have eaten a lot of eggs. I have restricted how much bacon we eat.
I just had a big birthday, one ending with a 0. I think I know me pretty well. But, what a surprise to learn that I can change! That I can learn something new, and I can achieve goals set before me even if my entire being said – you can’t to do this – you don’t want to do this. But I did.
For 30 days I have been positive about what I am doing, there have been several situations in which I have been around the foods that normally I would have enjoyed. I reminded myself every time, that I made a decision and I was going to stick with it. Every time I went out to lunch with a friend or when my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in a special restaurant or when it snowed for days, I told myself, I made a decision. I am going to follow through on this plan, for me, because I want to. Honestly I did have to remind my eating partner at one point we are doing this because it is a good thing, we are not punishing ourselves. That helped to remind us through these past 30 days.
So- the result? Husband and I both are happy with weight loss, it wasn’t dramatic, we like to eat. It was enough weekly loss to be sustainable. I have a number in my mind and I am going to achieve it. I can -not eat sugar for days on end, I don’t have to have cookies and tea at tea time. That is a big lesson!
The other thing I learned is I am not subject to the food I make, I decide- every time. Next week I have started back in the classroom and student food will be around me all the time. I have to remind myself of this decision. I will have to develop a plan for testing dishes. There may be some foods that I will not be able to eat any more (I don’t know what that might be- which is worse, no dairy or no bread)
Right now I get to slowly reintroduce grains, dairy and legumes back into the diet. I am not sure what will happen when I do that. But, this month has been so illuminating about habits. About how I feel about food! That is a huge remark for someone whose career and life revolves around food. And who doesn’t want that to change.
Right out of college, I very long time ago I worked alongside of dietitians in a local hospital. I thought my career might be around counseling people how to eat. I do counsel in an odd way. It has been a twisted path I do that, I cook and feed people as service. I feed people fresh whole healthy food when I cook, or teach cooking. I don’t provide nutrition information when I do that, I just provide the best food I can. Nutrition and dietary guidelines have changed so much since I worked in the hospital. But cooking and serving fresh whole food is what will continue to do.
I am still unsure about a lot of things. I am sure I have a healthy relationship with food.

1I have a Healthy Relationship2bhealthy


New Year’s Resolutions- Spark Joy, staying motivated

I wrote to a friend this morning – “my blankets are holding me hostage!!!” I was trying to get out of bed to get to the gym and failed. The bleak days of winter have me tucked under the covers, waiting for spring. I made a choice, but, I made up for it later that day! I am trying!
Staying motivated is a challenge for me in winter, the post holiday blahs, grey days that lead to dark nights can stall the energy of those resolutions you made just two weeks earlier! I want to offer a phrase that has interested me lately. Spark Joy. This is a term used by Marie Kondo in reference to organizing. http://tidyingup.com/ I know every little about her work, but the phrase resonates with me when I talk about motivation in attaining my goals and resolutions.
How can I, or you, stay motivated? By trying to finding something that sparks joy? What sparks joy in your life, and if you are thinking – staying in bed and sipping cocoa, then I am referring to your goals.
What can you be doing keep motived? My answer is; first, remember you made this resolution for a specific reason, to grow, to learn to try new things, to get a fresh start. This was your choice, and now comes the exciting challenge. Buying being your choice  you can, move the resolution to less important place in your priorities. But if you want to be doing something, then remind yourself made this decision and now you are setting off to accomplish this goal. My goal this January was to start working on a larger art piece using some hand dyed cotton that I painted last summer. My ongoing goal is to use the fabric I create.
To start this larger piece I hung the hand painted cotton on the design wall to see if it would talk to me. I was interested but not moved. It’s still there, taunting me to create. I moved stuff still around waiting for inspiration, and I remembered that Picasso said, “Inspiration exists but it has to find us working!”
What did I do? I opened my drawers full of fabric, I folded and unfolded my stash of cottons until something sparked joy. Which honestly is hard because it all sparks joy! But my intention was to find one thing to get me started doing something. I found my collection of cute novelty valentine cottons. I have weakness for hearts and cupids, all pinks and bright reds. Those fun little pieces certainly caused a spark.
My point is- doing something small toward a goal can offer immediate results. I want to work on a large quilt on the design wall. It isn’t talking to me, I could walk away and hide under the covers or do something else- chose to do something! Chose you find success, knowing one success CAN lead to the next.
Back to holding onto your motivation-it is a choice, every time – know your goals and then know ways to attain smaller successes along the way. Those intermediary success point give you a boost to get where you want to be. If you want to run a marathon, start with a 5K. I think you know what I mean.
The second point about holding onto motivation is knowing that You make a choice, every time. We all have restriction on our time and treasure, but if we create goals that we can attain we also know every step towards those goals are a choice.
Some people don’t realize that choice is theirs. A few generations ago people didn’t have the same choices we have available today. My mother didn’t know she had choices. Growing up in the Great Depression she felt her path in life was not hers to create. She was a wonderful artist but never felt she had the chance to advance in her art, to exhibit, to grow into her work. But she taught me that I could make choices. Remembering I have choices can be an effort as well. Acting to make good choices honors my ancestors and sparks joy for me.
When those blankets weigh me down, it is my choice to stay there. When the fabric doesn’t talk to me, my choice is to walk away or stay there and work through the challenge.
Sparking Joy is a current mantra that helps me remember my goals When I get out of bed and get to the Y, I am joyful. When I look at my pretty valentines, I am joyful. When I move forward to my goals, I am joyful
My mother would have been 99 Tomorrow; I dedicate this post to her. She taught me to be an artist. Her influence allowed me to craft a life full of choices. My choices continue to spark in me.

Next post – Feb 14

2016 New Year – No more excuses, really!

What can I have to say? Didn’t I ask my self about that a year ago. What excuses do you have for last year? Do you want them to be the same barriers you use this year.

Last night a good friend spoke of resolutions and the problematic nature to resolving not to or to do something in the new year. But don’t we have all the same tripwires waiting for us to trip as we did a year ago? No time, no money, no support, no inspiration, no willpower – pick one. Nothing has changed overnight, we are still the same person.

But by some construct of human efficiency we do have a BIG fresh page today- to think new. If you don’t have to work at your regular activity in the next 24-48 hours you can take just a few minutes and think about what you can do differently AND here’s the key- make a plan for how you can direct yourself and the success in attaining your goals.

Personally I use the 30-90- 12 method. What do you want/need to do in the next 30 days, then 90 days and then within the next 12 months. I like to set goals for myself and I even put a five year plan in my mix.

I won’t post my entire list everything here, but my 12 month list is to enter posts at least once a month, if not twice.  To focus my blog posts on my artwork and its intersection with my professional life. I will share about my work in the Montgomery County Food Council and in our  service learning project- Campus Kitchen’s.  I want to share lessons I learn and hopefully teach a few too.

I will share photo’s of my work, my students  work and work I find inspiring or even puzzling. I promise to make this interesting, I am interesting and know interesting people. Please follow along.

I will close with a gift given to me by a mentor/friend. Something I wish for all of you:

May the sun, Bring you new energy by day
May the moon, Soulfully restore you by night
May the rain, Wash away your worries
May the breeze, Blow new strength into your being
May you walk, Gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.
~Apache Blessing


Happy New Year.


Finally Friday!


After Dinner Coffee full 2012I know everyone else says TGIF but in an attempt to be unique, I will say its Finally Friday, and this week more than ever. Today I am in sunny, warm wonderful Treasure Island Florida. I have walked on the beach, stuck my toes in the cold surf and dozed poolside. A prefect end of any week, but especially one in which I had to wear 3 scarves around my neck to keep the cold away,where I have slept with a hat on my head and sock on my feet to keep warm. This Friday I am in flip flops and a sun dress. . At this time of year everyone deserves the chance to escape for a few days and be warm. Get a different out look and think about how different your life would be if you lived – in a different world, and warm your tired body in the warm sun.

While walking on the beach I got to thinking about how an artist work reflects their landscape. I agree, my world is full of artificial noise and stainless steel and concrete, my art is shiny and bright and loud. If I lived next to a body of water, if I walked the shore line every morning I think my art would definitely have a different tone. It would make a difference but would I be a different person?

quilt works 013But it is Finally Friday, and a time for fun. Enjoy!

I Do have Some thing to Say?

2chealthy  I have been encouraged to restart my web presence, and so I am. My question was, do I have anything I need to say? Which might be considered a silly question since I am a woman of opinions. I think and care, I love and get frustrated with the world around me. And I am happy to share those thoughts and muses.

Most of all, I create. I create textile collages, sometimes called quilts – although I dare anyone to sleep under them.1I have a Healthy Relationship

I create meals and eat! I LOVE  world and work around food, the way we nourish each other when we share a meal. The way we consume each others culture when we eat another  meals. susan callahan  I create relationships with people. I teach at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, I am the faculty adviser for the Campus Kitchen project on Campus, and I serve on the Montgomery County Food Council.

I care deeply about the people in my life, my family and friends. Pig Roast 7-14-12 006Life is good, and I have a lot to share. Look here about every two weeks.