Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The mediuggh

Here we go with round II

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." - Pat Robertson. 1992 Iowa fundraising letter opposing a state equal-rights amendment.

One step forward

Two steps sideways?

I want to start by saying these are not entirely my ideas. I'm just trying to put them down coherently on my computer screen. What follow are the ideas of a small group of progressive thinkers comprised of both men and women trying to raise awareness. I am so moved by the people who are making an effort to change the dangerous and disturbing trends of how females are portrayed in broadcasting and publications. When it comes to how the media portray women, there is a definite model that the vast majority of directors and people in charge follow. Women have been facing the damaging environment the media create for many years. We are constantly told that things are getting better, which might have been true when the feminist movement was becoming more recognized in the 1960's and 1970's, but isn't the case anymore. It seems there was a backlash to the women's movement that occurred in the 1980's, and that adverse response has continued today, especially from the ultra conservative Christian voice. These negative trends are not what the public wants, though we are told this is the case. What's really happening is that images and ideas that impact our thinking and development as a society are being thrown in our faces by an industry dominated almost entirely by men. As much as we want to pretend more women are empowered these days, we can't deny the huge media bias. The results are a continuation of women being defined by men and a resistance to change the patriarchy.

There are six corporations that control at least 90 percent of the media in the United States. Thanks in part to the Telecommunications Act of 1966, a small number of corporations were able to expand their power and gain tighter control of information offered to the publicWomen are not well represented in these companies. This means what we see in magazines, on TV, in films and in video games comes primarily from a male perspective. There's no doubt that content bias exists with women not being fairly represented. Over the last twenty years, there have been less restrictions on explicit and uncensored content, and facts have become blurred with opinions. The government is reluctant to change policies, because that could create a conflict of interest. Most of the major media companies make large contributions to both political parties, after all. In return, these companies are paid large sums to run political ads. Who wants to rock that boat? The result is that nobody has a sense of obligation for public interest.

“We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective.”
– 1981 internal memo from Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company

The big companies that control the media are not philanthropic enterprises. Their goal is to make money, and they will do whatever it takes to get noticed. The more explicit and uncensored content in the media is presented the more directors, writers and producers try to shock in order to get noticed. One of many problems with having less standards is potentially exposing youngsters to adult material. Kids don't have the same cognitive ability as adults and don't filter and process information in the same way. Unfortunately, the atmosphere that is created with fewer limits and restrictions is one that leads to more violence, especially against women. Violence seems to be a natural by-product whenever dehumanizing is occurring, and when we objectify women, it can end up being a justification for violence against them. As long as somebody is making money, these kinds of consequences are not considered.

Aside from the very obvious message being sent that women are lesser beings, the media sends some more subtle ones when women are degraded, objectified, sexualized and portrayed as ditzy, a bitch or crazy. There are very few positive female role models represented in the media. There are also less air time and coverage provided for women in sports or politics. When women do get noticed, there is an abnormal focus on appearance, no matter what their achievements have been, and this discounts their success. Personality isn't a factor, but a hairstyle certainly is. Content is lost when the focus is on appearance. The media aren't concerned with what Hillary Clinton does; they are concerned with what she wears, how much she weighs and how tired she looked on a given day. These kinds of messages reach everyone and shape the minds of young boys and girls. They set a cultural standard that few are willing to challenge. The messages become so embedded in our society that hardly anyone reacts when women are continually and incorrectly portrayed as subordinates. When women are two times as likely to be described as emotional, a stereotype is enforced. In one shot, boys have been given the warning that it's not OK to be sensitive beings, and girls have been told that they can't strive for higher positions unless they look and act a certain way. And boy, we all better keep those emotions in check.

Women are hyper-sexualized, even when delivering the news. Few women are on the Fox News board of directors. Last time I checked, there was one. 

"Women accounted for 5% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2011, a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2010 and approximately half the percentage of women directors working in 1998." - Celluloid Ceiling 

The handful of women protagonists in film and on TV are almost always objectified. 

It's not all that shocking that the "APA reported that sexualization of women has a negative influence on young girls, and that images portraying women as sexual objects can affect a young girl's self-esteem and confidence." What's concerning is that the objectification of women leads young girls to objectify themselves. The result is an increase in depression among young girls followed by an increase in eating disorders. It is estimated that 65% of women and girls are reported to have an eating disorder. I suspect many don't admit to it, so those number might be higher. What's interesting to note is that the more women self-objectify, the more their cognitive abilities decline. Objectification also leads to decreased political efficacy, which might explain why so few women are properly represented in higher political offices in this country.

Women are scrutinized much more than men. Obviously television is a visual medium, but the standards for men are very different. There is less pressure for them to look a certain way, though they have pressures as well. In May 2009, the Global Status of Women reported that nearly three-quarters of all female characters in television sitcoms are underweight. No matter what a woman does, her looks will be the main topic, and she can't win. If she's successful and doesn't look like a typical model -- who is also typically underweight-- she will probably be referred to as a bitch or a witch. If she becomes a product of our society and focuses on her looks, she will likely be called a skank or a slut. Both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have been under the microscope in recent years, but neither could come out ahead. Comments about how hot or how ugly a person is discount her achievements and put the focus on her body instead of on her actions. The goal is to take women down a notch, especially if they threaten to be powerful. This reinforces unhealthy thinking patters, especially for young girls who possibly start to believe that their looks are more important than what they do or what's inside. This kind of thinking distracts girls from reaching higher goals. Directing attention to a woman's body perpetuates a toxic idea that girls must put an abnormal emphasis on how they look in order to be recognized or successful. Think about that next time you rank the top 10 hottest female marathon runners. What message are you sending our young athletes?

“How good does a female athlete have to be before we just call her an athlete?” – Author Unknown

Men's Health 2012:


"Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, 'She doesn't have what it takes." They will say, "Women don't have what it takes." Clare Booth Luce

This is not an Olympic swimmer; she plays soccer. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I was planning to write a post about the media, but it will have to wait until next week. First I want to backtrack a little, because I may not have been as clear as I could have been with my Ed post. Again, I have no problem with people describing what methods worked for them in recovery, especially if the information given can help others. In the case of giving a separate identity called Ed to eating disorders, my concern is that this may not resolve deeper issues. I agree that this technique might make identifying disordered thinking easier, but it misses the mark in terms of getting into WHY WE CREATE these thoughts and sometimes follow through with unhealthy actions. It is my opinion that not addressing the underlying issues makes it difficult to truly move forward. If I hear a voice in my head that tells me I'm fat, and I tell myself, "Oh that's Ed," like it's some foreign entity, does this really get to the bottom of why those thoughts are coming up for me? If, instead, I ask myself why I am creating these thoughts, it's easier to stop them by getting to the bottom of it. Am I stressed out; recalling old situations that no longer apply; feeling out of control, unhappy, lonely, tired or angry? Once I identify the emotion or feeling behind the thought or thought patterns, it's more likely that the unhealthy self judgement will dissipate or stop all together. I hope this makes sense, because a gimmick can only go so far.

Getting well takes work. There's no way around it. I wish it were easier, but I truly believe that the best way to get to the other side of an eating disorder is to first understand the illness, and then find as many tools as you can to help create your own path to recovery. This means taking what works for you and tossing the rest. In a sense there is no real right or wrong in recovery, but there are certain approaches that, throughout history, seem to get better results. I tend to follow Diane Israel's suggestions when it comes to getting healthy. There are four key components that seem to work well for most people who are struggling with addiction. The first step is to reclaim or identify the self. Healing or addressing past trauma and family issues is the next step. Finding community support locally or online follows, and finally giving back through charity or service to others is the last step. Of course, these steps don't have to be taken in any particular order. One need not be completely well in order to give back, but it's important to be in a healthy place in order to have the energy to do so.

As always, take what anyone says with a fist full of salt. Be open minded when it comes to taking in information, but use only what resonates and makes sense.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey day race

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. My day was filled with fun activities, visits with friends and family and loads of turkey day food. Racing made me extra hungry, so I hope whoever goes back for that last piece of pumpkin pie doesn't mind that most of the outer crust is missing. I had a late night craving, and I have a thing for pie crust. It's the best part of the pie. Mmmmmm.

In the past, Thanksgiving was always a nightmare for me. I still instinctively get a little uptight on the holiday, but I keep reminding myself to put my recovery first. Fortunately, I'm not as preoccupied with food and weight, so it makes eating with others more enjoyable. Years ago, I simply avoided the holiday. Sometimes I would spend time with a friend who had eating issues too, and we would get sushi and rent movies, a safe way to spend the day. I'm happy to report that my family is very understanding about where I am and where I have been. Nobody comments about my food intake or fusses about the way I eat. After the race, I felt like I needed a snack, so I ate shortly before our big meal. As a result, my Thanksgiving lunch wasn't Supersized, but I was glad I could still join everyone at the table. That wouldn't have happened when I was sick. These days, I need smaller, more frequent meals. For me, yesterday was more about spending time with people than cramming large globs of food in my mouth in one sitting, though I did have quite an appetite later that evening. Overall, it ended up being a lovely day.

The turkey trot I ran was fun. I haven't raced since the shootout, and I sort of forgot how to push it again. Unfortunately, I went back to my old pattern of falling asleep in the middle of the race, not sure if my pace was fast or slow. It was slow. No wonder I felt so good during those middle miles! My confidence needs a boost, because I don't seem to have the courage to up the pace, even when I can feel I have the energy. I think it has something to do with not being sure how much I can handle. I know I ran hard, but I recovered a little too quickly at the finish line. It ended up feeling more like a tempo run than a race. Plus, there were moments after I would surge in which I settled back down to a more comfortable pace, not really racing like I did on the cross country course in September. I need to get past that and start to believe that I can keep the faster pace until the end. I guess I'm afraid of bonking. I am not a good judge of pace or distance right now. A 5K seems both waaaayyy long and far too short!

For my next race, I should probably rest a little bit more before I toe the start line. With all that has gone on with my foot recently, I wasn't sure if I was going to race until yesterday morning, so I didn't plan my week accordingly. I did some solid workouts early in the week. In the end, it was just a so-so race. I was glad to catch up with old friends after and super stoked that I won a prize, even though I only got 4th in my age group. In Boulder, a turkey trot brings out all kinds of stellar running talent, so 4th in any age group is not too bad. Still, there's plenty of room to improve on my time, obviously. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I ran 22:47. I'm going to blame the big huge headwind all of us had to face several times during the two-loop course, even though I don't think that's the main reason I didn't run faster. I'm just glad the lady in the Vibrams didn't pass me and relieved that nobody in a turkey costume was ahead of me either. In more good news, my foot held up OK. It was sore but manageable.

I would give about anything to have this amazing warm and sunny weather continue through the winter. let it snow in the high country. I'm happy with the sunshine down here. Can I get an AMEN?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Credo sucks

I keep getting suckered into continuing my horrible phone plan with Credo, mostly because I'm too busy or too lazy to switch to a different program. I also don't want to pay the huge fine for breaking my contract and finding a new company. It's not that I'm fighting against the more intelligent phone movement or that I love my flip phone; it's that I keep incorrectly thinking things will get better. Instead, I end up paying too much for extremely limited phone activity. My main complaint with the company is that nobody who works there is precise. For example, the last time I spoke to a representative, he offered me 10 percent off my entire bill if I signed on for another two years. That sounded OK. It's maybe $6.00 off, but I am desperate. Any amount off sounded good to me. What the guy didn't say was that the offer was not for the two years or even one of those years. It was a one-time deal. So I reluctantly signed on thinking I was getting $6.00 off every bill when it was only a savings of $6.00 for the entire two years. It's ridiculous. I suppose I should have asked, but what sane person would think that an offer like that was restricted to only one bill? He didn't say I would get 10% off my NEXT bill; he said the deal was 10% off my bill. This is just one example of MANY that I have had the displeasure of experiencing with this company. All it takes is a little precision to clear up any uncertainty, but this company never offers it. They boast about how much they donate to good causes, but I would rather have a normal phone bill and continue donating to the charities of my choice.

My first phone bill, back when the company was called Working Assets, was $400, because nobody said anything about the restrictions with the plan: no internet, charges for texts, additional charges for going over a certain number of minutes when talking etc., all things that any plan should specify, right? I was used to Cricket, which has a very straight-forward contract with unlimited talking and texts. The person who signed me up made it sound like everything was unlimited. I talked someone at Credo into decreasing the outrageous bill by calling their bluff. When some lady said she wouldn't reduce the bill, she mentioned that she had a recording of each phone conversation and was sure that the person with whom I spoke had mentioned the restrictions, I said, "Awesome. I want to hear exactly what the rep told me about any of this the day I agreed to the contract, so pull it up and let's hear it." I was put on hold. Shortly after, the representative offered me a big discount on the bill without further comment. It was still way more than I should have paid though. I vowed to get everything in writing the next time. Nothing was ever mentioned about limited talking, texts and internet activity, some very important pieces of information. But the 10% thing was both in writing and over the phone. Nowhere did it say for one bill only, but because of my assumption, I now cringe every time I see my phone bill, which is way too high given all the restrictions. Hell, I feel like I can't even talk to people unless it's at some obscure hour! In short, Credo sucks. I would never recommend it.

Enough complaining.

I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving tomorrow. Good luck to all the runners who jump in those turkey trots!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Synovial Cyst

I haven't been posting updates about my running lately, mostly because I'm just trying to hold steady. Last week I went to the foot doctor to get a synovial cyst removed from the top of my foot. Since I was dealing with some of the same issues I had earlier in the summer, I also got two shots of cortisone, one for the angry muscle that wants to pull my big toe to the left, and one for the hysterical nerve that is freaking out about the stitching that didn't dissolve. Getting a synovial cyst removed is a very odd thing. I had this idea that to aspirate and drain it, a needle would be plunged in and the fluid sucked out using some kind of syringe. Instead, it's pretty much like popping a zit. A big needle is poked through the skin, and then the doctor squeezes the lump, allowing a clear, jelly-like fluid to roll out. There's minimal blood, but it's still kind of gross. That said, I couldn't help but watch. I sort of had the urge to ask the doctor if I could do the squeezing too, but I refrained from asking.

My cyst was on the other side.

I haven't decided if I want to jump in a race Thursday or play it safe and stay on the trails, which will either be less crowded with all the other runners in Boulder racing or more crowded with everyone else hiking with their dogs.

After that cyst description, it's probably not the best time to bring up food, however, I mentioned in a previous blog post that I wanted to add a few recipes now and then. With Thanksgiving a few days away, I should probably dig up my pumpkin rum ice cream recipe, but I'm not sure where to dig for it. Instead, I'm going to post my chocolate truffle ice cream recipe, because it's insanely good. This is the recipe I created and used to make for a little Italian restaurant when I was a pastry chef. One time, a day or two after I made a batch, the owner called me up requesting more. "Lize, we're out of the chocolate ice cream," he said. When I replied, "Hey that's great that it's selling so well," he confessed that the staff had eaten most of it.

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

2 good cups whipping cream. (Good cups are extra full cups)
2 good cups milk
6 egg yolks
A scant 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups bitter-sweet chocolate (about 16oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
A pinch instant coffee (optional)

Scald the cream and milk in a thick-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and set aside. Beat the yolks in a metal bowl. Add the sugar and pour in the cream/milk mixture while beating. Transfer into a clean heavy-bottomed pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the mixture coats the spoon. Stir in chocolate and stir over very low heat until chocolate is completely melted. Add in remaining ingredients and cool. When mixture is cool, freeze according to directions on the ice-cream maker.

Who doesn't love chocolate ice cream? 

As long as I'm into the ice cream recipes, I will add this one. I created it before I started working at the restaurant, but I used it there. It was everyone's favorite after the chocolate ice cream.

Lemons and mint

Lemon Mint Chiffon Ice Cream

2 good cups whipping cream
1 cup milk or half & half
4 egg yolks
1 egg
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbl grated lemon peel
A scant 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)

Scald the milk and the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and set aside. Beat yolks and egg with the sugar in a metal bowl. Slowly pour in the milk mixture while beating the eggs mixture. Add lemon peel and mint, and cook while stirring over low heat in a clean heavy-bottomed pan until mixture coats spoon. Strain the mixture into a clean bowl to remove mint leaves and lemon peel. Stir in remaining ingredients and cool completely. Freeze according to directions on an ice-cream maker.

Note: This ice cream is really good served in cookie cups (tuile).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who the F*%k is ED?

Man, I'm jumping into all kinds of controversial issues with my posts lately. I guess I have some things on my mind. I put the political rant on hold for the time being, mostly because I feel that this blog is or should be more about eating disorders, running and recovery than politics. Plus, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow seem to do a good job of saying what needs to be said and usually in a much more entertaining way than I could. I do occasionally stray off topic, but my focus tends to be on running and recovery, even though nobody is monitoring. Still, it's nice to stick to a theme when it comes to blogging, and recently there have been plenty of subjects related to eating disorders circulating.

Later this month, there will be a lecture in Boulder given by Jenni Schaefer, an expert in eating disorders. Actually, I read in one article that she's an expert, but when I went to her website, all it said was that she recovered from an eating disorder and then wrote a book about it. In that case, I suppose I'm an expert as well, though I would never actually claim to be and want to make it very clear that going through something does not qualify me as a therapist. I'm happy to give advice, as long as people realize it's just that. My undergrad degree is in psychology with an emphasis on behavioral neuroscience, and I have studied eating disorders in depth. I have also worked closely with professionals in the field. Still, I don't consider myself an expert, because I lack the appropriate documentation (e.g., a master's degree, Ph.D or certificate). In order to make my book more complete, I included expert advice from certified and credible therapists, coaches and athletes.

That said, there's something about having gone through hard times that makes a person understand it, at least on some level. I have noticed great compassion in those who have struggled with an eating disorder. One message my book conveys is that we each have to find our own way out of illness. Getting ideas and tips from others on how to do that is advisable, but one always has to come back to the self for guidance. Methods that work for me may or may not work for others. Exploring options is always helpful. You never know when the right words will be heard at the right time. What really helps is having a better understanding of the forces that drive the disorder.

I admit that I have not read Jenni Schaefer's published works yet, only excerpts. I'm a little leery, because the description of one of her best-selling books is as follows:
I have never been married, but I am happily divorced. Ed and I lived together for more than twenty years. He was abusive, controlling and never hesitated to tell me what he thought, how I was doing it wrong, and what I should be doing instead... Ed is not a high school sweetheart. Ed is not some creep that I started dating in college... Ed's name comes from the initials E.D. - as in eating disorder. Ed is my eating disorder.
This concerns me, because it suggests that the eating disorder is an entity outside herself. I can't help but think it's a little bit creepy too, but as people already know, I get spooked easily. I know having an eating disorder can sometimes feel like your life is being run by an outside force, but the truth is that we create the disorder. It is a coping mechanism. I'm not opposed to role play, but this seems a bit beyond that.

In my own case, I felt that it was important to take responsibility in my life, take responsibility for my recovery and also for my past behavior that was hurtful to others and myself. Some guy named Ed did not do anything to me; I did it to myself. It was important for me to accept this. My sister played a big part in helping me recognize my choices, both how they affected my past and how they could affect my future. It took retraining my thought patterns, behavioral modification and loads of self acceptance in order to embrace recovery, but mostly I had to understand why I was so incredibly self abusive. I don't think personifying the disorder would have worked for me, because I needed to play an active role in getting well. Though my eating disorder often felt like it was a separate part of me or sometimes even unrelated to me, I discovered that certain situations caused they symptoms to manifest or continue. Initially, I had to figure out a way to be present despite knowing my unhealthy thinking was, at times, overwhelming. It's important to note that a lack of proper nutrition contributes to distorted thinking. We shouldn't blame that aspect or genetic factors on a manifested being. It is my opinion that we have to embrace both the dark and the light in ourselves. We must consciously integrate and accept our shadow side. There shouldn't be any shame in knowing that troubling behavior comes from within, because we do it as a way to deal with that which seems overwhelming or out of control in our lives. Blaming some guy named Ed discounts the parts of us that need understanding, compassion and change.

I appreciate that Jenni's experience with giving her eating disorder a name helped her realize and distinguish healthy and unhealthy thoughts. Rather than giving a persona to my unhealthy thoughts, I opted to recognize which thoughts were life sustaining and which were not without any role playing. Doing that allowed me to acknowledge more fully all facets of myself.

Our eating disorders and addictions are symptoms of something deeper. We need to ask in what ways this is so. Only then can we confront the issues. One of the best exercises I know of in treating eating disorders is to ask how your eating disorder has served you. Genetics aside, there are  emotional and mental aspects of the illness. Whether we are too sensitive, feel out of control or need attention, the illness has filled a void. What's important to realize is that it's possible to move away from behaviors that no longer serve us by finding new ones that support life and health.

In the end, Jenni and I are both trying to get the point across that recovery is possible. I believe that there is no one right way to get there, so if what she says helps others, that is certainly a good thing. I know the two of us are not alone in realizing that recovery is possible. From her blog:
 "I want people who struggle with eating disorders to know it is possible to move from being 'in recovery' to being 'fully recovered,'" she says. "I want them to get into life and follow their dreams, not be stuck in or defined by an eating disorder."

I hope to attend the free lecture Jenni is giving. I would like to hear more about her ideas on recovery. I think more people are realizing that it takes rediscovering the self in order to get well, and I noticed that Jenni points this out on her blog and in the excerpt I read in one of her books. I fully agree with her that it takes self discovery in order to facilitate healing from an eating disorder. There are many books on the topic. I found this one very good. It came out in 2007 and, at the time, was somewhat revolutionary: Regaining Your Self.

For anyone who would like to attend the free lecture, here is the information:
The Conference on World Affairs Athenaeum will host a free public talk “Perfectly Imperfect: Eating and Body Image” with internationally known eating disorder expert Jenni Schaefer on Wednesday, November 28 at 7 p.m. The talk will take place in the University Memorial Center, room 235. This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Warning- possibly triggering content

I'm angry.

I started running back in the 80's. Thin was IN, and this motto wasn't restricted to the fashion world. The Twiggy mindset with its extreme petiteness was still firmly in place in the modeling industry, and agencies continued to push the envelope in terms of shock.That said, being underweight was just as prevalent among runners, and if you were an athlete, the title of "runner" was as good an excuse as any to remain skinny. The unhealthy idea that pain leads to all kinds of gain was promoted, and if you over trained, you were probably respected. Despite all the leaps forward that women took that decade, steps that included the first woman in space and the first woman on the supreme court, women had and still have a long way to go. Before I get off track and go on a rant about women's rights, though, let me get back to the reason why I'm pissed off lately; things haven't changed all that much.
Stephanie Herbst in the 80's

Something came up while I was doing the interview with Sarah Kuta for the Colorado Daily. Every time questions about my high school coach came up, I got uncomfortable. I was torn between not wanting to rock the boat by saying anything overly offensive and wanting to spill the beans about the pressure I was under back when I was running. Those beans are carefully laid out on the floor in my book, but I cushioned the landing. I don't want to suggest that I'm trying to blame or protect anyone here. I went into running already struggling with anorexia. Much of the pressure I experienced was internal. On the other hand, there were some key moments with coaches, not just my high school coach, that were pretty messed up in my running career. I was lucky to have a great coach my first year in college and again many years later when I started on my path of recovery. Those two gave me perspective. Looking back, I'm hurt and angry that I allowed myself to be treated badly at times. I was too sick to make sense of it all when I was young, so I internalized it.

We see it over and over again, women and girls who appear to be far too thin to sustain any kind of health running outstanding times. This happens, because there's a grace period. Decreased weight leads to an increased VO2 Max and usually better running, until the body breaks down past the point of no return. In the end, it doesn't matter what your aerobic capacity is if your body is breaking down. I believe that this false reward is partly why coaches don't step in sooner. Why should they if their athlete is running well? Even when a girl looks emaciated, a coach usually won't pull her out of competition if she's number one on the team. When my parents BEGGED my coach to step in and say something about my weight my first year in high school, he told them that I must be doing something right because I was winning races. In case it wasn't clear, that's a really nice way of saying, "fuck you." These people went to him worried that their daughter was killing herself, and that was his response. What's strange to me is that even now, knowing the end result, he claims that he wouldn't have done anything differently if given the chance. People like that shouldn't be coaches. There, I said it. In the article and in my book, you will notice all the mixed message I received: if I didn't get my act together, I was off the team; at well under 100 pounds, I was doing something right; and the one pound I gained was bound to slow me down in the state meet. How does a young girl make sense of that?

Unlike my coach, I would do a lot differently if I could go back. At the time, I was too influenced by others, too insecure to find my voice. I wish I would have had the guts to drop a few "fuck you" responses, implied or direct, of my own. Looking at the talent that went through the program at my high school, it makes a person wonder why none of us ended up in any successful long-term running careers. In a recent blog post, I go into detail about how important it is to consider longevity in a sport, something few coaches do. As a society, we are so very outcome oriented. Few consider the well-being of an athlete over the performance, and it's nearly impossible to get a coach to contemplate sacrificing some short-term achievements for a potentially longer and better career for his athlete.

When I read about Jordyn Colter, 5'1" and 79 or 80 pounds, passing out and not finishing a major high school race, I have to wonder what the fuck her coach is doing. True, I don't know the back story, but I can take a pretty good guess at what's going on there. My question is why any coach would allow an athlete who appears to be extremely underweight to compete at all. Here it is again, though, that fucked up mentality that as long as she's running well, everything is fine. It's not. Allowing someone to compete who is clearly not well is discounting the very real consequences of starvation in exchange for a few months or maybe, if extremely lucky, a few years of success. How sad that a coach won't put his foot down. Nobody in such a weak state should be allowed to race. Hell, even some fashion designers are refusing to let unhealthy models walk in shows. Maybe things are changing, but not quickly enough. As tough as it was, I was glad that I had someone sensible in my life who eventually did watch out for me in college. My coach wouldn't allow me to participate in workouts if was under a certain weight. That was extremely rare in those days, but I wouldn't have run well that year and even the following year had those rules been broken.

The bottom line is that you absolutely can not be a good athlete long term if you are not physically, emotionally and mentally healthy first. Yes, there is a short grace period as extreme weight loss progresses in which running can improve, but it is short lived and not at all worth the long-term consequences of starving the body.

2012 high school cross-country race

Monday, November 12, 2012


A local paper did an interview with me recently. The printed version of it is out today. Here is the link to the online version:

I really enjoyed meeting Sarah Kuta, the author. I'm grateful someone was willing to take notice and support my efforts to get a message to anyone struggling with an eating disorder.

In completely unrelated news...

The cheesecake in the Yoplait commercial looks pretty good, no?

My last blog post about cheesecake-flavored yogurt got me thinking about cheesecake. Years ago, I used to be into catering and making wedding cakes. I have several of my own recipes for cheesecake, one entire store-bought cookbook dedicated to cheesecakes and a few random recipes from friends for the creamy dessert. The one that always stands out is "Sue's Cheesecake." I have no idea who Sue is. I think she might be a friend of my sister's friend. Whoever she is, she gave my sister an awesome recipe that I tweaked here and there. The result is below. It's rich and decadent and one of the most memorable cheesecakes I have eaten. I think I might post a few other recipes here from time to time. My little recipe book hasn't been used at all lately, and it would be sad if the recipes inside weren't shared. I use the low-fat cream cheese, because I find using the regular cream cheese makes the cake a little too dense. Plus, the low-fat cream cheese seems to mix more easily. Both taste fine, but I like the texture of the lower fat version better.

Sue's Cheesecake

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup ground Graham crackers
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2+ Tbl sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, walnuts, Graham cracker crumbs, lemon peel and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter with the egg yolk and the vanilla until the mixture is crumbly. Press into an 8 or 10-inch spring form pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 5-8 minutes until very lightly golden. Remove from over and cool completely.

Note: I have added a small egg yolk to the mixture for a more sturdy crust, which I prefer. Some people like it without the egg yolk.

Cheesecake filling
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature.
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp grated lemon peel
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 Tbl flour
pinch salt
5 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Beat cream cheese, vanilla, lemon peel and sugar in a bowl. Stir in flour. Gently beat in eggs and yolk one at a time. Don't over beat the mixture. Stir in cream, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into cooled crust and bake for 12 minutes. Turn down heat to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes until firm. Cool completely before running a knife around the edges to make sure the cake isn't sticking to the sides. Remove edge of pan and serve as is or with a fruit or chocolate sauce.

I haven't made this recipe in years and should probably test it before posting. If my memory is correct, people went bonkers over it. I will just throw out a caution to make it at your own risk.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Yoplait makes a bad decision

I wasn't aware until recently that there has been some controversy around this ad for Yoplait's cheesecake-flavored yogurt:

I know. Most people don't see very much or even anything wrong with it. It probably appears fairly harmless to most, maybe even funny to some. When I first saw it, it didn't sit well with me, but I ignored it. It wasn't until I heard others had complained that I took a second look. The problem with this ad is that it perpetuates an unhealthy atmosphere for women. If we break the ad apart, we discover that:

A. We (women) can only eat dessert if we are "good", otherwise, we don't deserve it, and even if we are good, we still don't quite deserve it.
B. We can't figure out our own hunger and needs, so we must bargain with ourselves, debate and fret about how much and what we eat. We can't have a normal slice of cake and be OK. It has to be a tiny little piece or, oh hell, let's just eat the whole fucking thing.
C. If we want to be thin (and by God we ALL must be thin or we have failed) we have to resist delicious foods.

Take a look at the two women. The one in a battle over To Eat or Not to Eat! is dressed rather plainly. She also wears somewhat unflattering glasses. Meanwhile, in walks the lady who has lost weight, full of confidence in her floral dress. Without hesitation (she's not tempted, she's perfect!), she goes to the refrigerator and pulls out some Yoplait. We all know it's the weight loss from eating Yoplait that gave her a spring in her step, right? Grooaannn.

Of course, there's no way to win. Yoplait wants us to believe that we are flawed and that thin people and those who resist desserts are more admired. Maybe if we eat their product, we can be skinny (successful) too.

This is the same type of advertising that the multi-billion dollar beauty industry uses to keep women feeling ashamed and guilty for who they are. Ads like these encourage young girls to focus on perfection and flawlessness, as if being beautiful should be a top priority. If we are thin, we are glorified, so it's no wonder younger and younger kids are developing eating disorders. How we look suddenly becomes more important than anything else in life. The problem is that we are all striving for images of beauty that aren't real. Whether it's a magazine photo that has been digitally retouched or the illusion of a character played in a commercial, it's not reality. The environment created by misleading ads and images is a dangerous one. The self-esteem of young girls suffers and we all continue to become products of this damaging environment. It affects all of us, whether we are aware or not, and most of us are not. These ads are subtle. Most people wouldn't think twice about this one, but there are very unhealthy messages in it. Others are are more blatant.

Here's what they don't tell you. Take a look at the crap that's in one of these cartons of yogurt:

The bizarre list of ingredients includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, red dye and gelatine, all things not found in most yogurt. Despite the artificial sweetener, there's still 10 grams of sugar in a six-ounce container.

Thanks, but I'd rather have the cheesecake.

Jean Killbourne, Ed.D., cautions that ads are quick, cumulative and hit us on a subconscious level. It's estimated that only 8% of an ad's message is received by the conscious mind. That means we process the majority of the ad subconsciously. We are affected, no matter how much we think we can tune out or ignore advertisements. We need to pay attention, not so much to the ad itself but to the lies companies are attempting to sell us.

This is a brilliant video on the topic of how women are treated by the Media:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ice Cream

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

2 good cups whipping cream. (Good cups are extra full cups)
2 good cups milk
6 egg yolks
A scant 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups bitter-sweet chocolate (about 16oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
A pinch instant coffee (optional)

Scald the cream and milk in a thick-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and set aside. Beat the yolks in a metal bowl. Add the sugar and pour in the cream/milk mixture while beating. Transfer into a clean heavy-bottomed pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the mixture coats the spoon. Stir in chocolate and stir over very low heat until chocolate is completely melted. Add in remaining ingredients and cool. When mixture is cool, freeze according to directions on the ice-cream maker.

Who doesn't love chocolate ice cream? 

As long as I'm into the ice cream recipes, I will add this one. I created it before I started working at the restaurant, but I used it there. It was everyone's favorite after the chocolate ice cream.

Lemons and mint

Lemon Mint Chiffon Ice Cream

2 good cups whipping cream
1 cup milk or half & half
4 egg yolks
1 egg
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbl grated lemon peel
A scant 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)

Scald the milk and the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and set aside. Beat yolks and egg with the sugar in a metal bowl. Slowly pour in the milk mixture while beating the eggs mixture. Add lemon peel and mint, and cook while stirring over low heat in a clean heavy-bottomed pan until mixture coats spoon. Strain the mixture into a clean bowl to remove mint leaves and lemon peel. Stir in remaining ingredients and cool completely. Freeze according to directions on an ice-cream maker.

Note: This ice cream is really good served in cookie cups (tuile).

Monday, November 5, 2012

My next project

After years of living an example of how not to do things, I'm trying to at least point others in the right direction.

Heather sometimes cries when people pass her
Not long ago, I posted a blurb about preserving high school athletes. At the time, I didn't think I would have to address 10 and 12-year old girls. I have to admit, when reading the New York Times article Too Fast, Too Soon, I went back and forth from, "that's kind of cool" to "that's really messed up." This is at times one of those morally dumbfounding situations. While I can't say exactly all that's wrong with these two girls racing the way they are, my gut tells me there's something not right about it. Hopefully I will be proven wrong, and their growing bodies will survive the stress of a demanding sport. 

I can say that the attention the two youngsters get from their dad probably plays a huge part in their concept of "fun" at this point. Somehow, I don't think most kids would find getting bloody knees, shedding tears and experiencing frustration all that enjoyable. Then again, all kids fall and scrape their knees when playing. Maybe this isn't that much different. What worries me most in the article is the way the father reacted to a sixth place finish by one of his daughters. Sorry, but when someone tells a stranger that he was very hard on the older girl for only finishing sixth, I'm going to have to predict problems down the road. What's wrong with sixth? She's 12 for fuck's sake. In my previous post, I mention this is exactly the mentality that puts a long running career at risk. I worry that these girls will follow the same path as most of the kids in the Garritson family, racing too much at too young an age and burning out early. 

There are definitely two sides in the "too young to run those kinds of races" debate. I don't see a whole lot wrong with allowing kids to run some long distances if they are truly internally driven to do so. I would suggest that this be done with a great deal of guidance and some restrictions though. I have more of a problem with placing youngsters in big competitions with a focus on performance. A child should, instead, be focused on the basics of the sport. Moving away from quantifying and timing events should be a priority at such young ages. The problem in this case with these gifted runners is that the father has fallen into the trap of lapping up short-term success over the well being of his kids down the road. He doesn't understand how pushing kids too much at this vulnerable age can have long lasting effects. Though it's risky, the physical body might be able to handle the training. However, as I pointed out in one post already, mileage and high intensity training has to be within the capabilities of what the young athlete can handle not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. Renowned running coach Bobby McGee states, “frequency teaches skill and long periods teach fitness, but how these are introduced depends on the mental and emotional maturity of an individual.”

We would all love to see these two young competitors head into long-term and successful running careers. What I would like to see more is the girls not missing out on so much of their young lives in order to compete. I made the mistake of not socializing and avoided staying out with friends, all so I could focus on running. We all know where that eventually got me. They shouldn't have to sacrifice so much at 10 and 12 years old in order to run. This is a sport where maturity can only help them. Let's hope that they don't grow up to regret all that they are sacrificing. Let's hope too that dad gets a clue and allows them to skip a few weekends of racing, so that these kids can go to a sleepover now and then. Maybe teaching them balance now should be more the priority than teaching them to toss all their eggs into one basket. 

I thought this blog post on the topic was very well done: Fit and Feminist- The dark side of girls who run long distances

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Unexpected nice surprises

I have mentioned already that I used to work as a DJ for a small local station. When I was working there, I had the pleasure of interviewing many interesting and creative people. Somehow, I managed to land an interview with Josh Rushing. That was extremely exciting, and I even got to sit in the media section for his lecture, which my co-host and I recorded with the permission of the sound guy on hand. As a DJ, I also interviewed some really cool bands, complete with live sets. There were times during those sessions when I felt very privileged. It's a little bit like having your own private concert. There's just something about radio that's ultra cool.

Because the station was established for the community, anyone could contact us to schedule an interview. We never knew what to expect with certain guests, but we weren't about censorship or exclusion. Everyone was welcome. In fact, I believe one of our DJs interviewed the vampire guy who ran for president. In general, the station focused on local talent, but some big international names dropped in to speak from time to time. I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous when Denver author, Michael Schuessler, an expert in sensuality and healing, contacted us for an on-air meeting, however, having tackled all kinds of topics from politics to the news of the weird, I was prepared for anything. What I didn't expect was to participate in one of the most interesting, informative and heartfelt radio segments we had ever done. I'm going to try to recap some of the highlights of the conversation about relationships and intimacy that developed.

One of the questions asked by a listener got us talking about commitment in relationships. These days, commitment isn't something as encouraged as it once was, especially in this area. Though some like to think they are being more progressive when embracing a poly-amorous lifestyle, as so many in Boulder do, many of them are simply running from commitment and keeping options open. In the past, people were more prone to being direct and stating that they preferred being single. Playing the field isn't anything new or necessarily bad; it's just that gallivanting around with several sexual partners under the guise of an acceptable lifestyle has morphed into a justification for avoiding real relationships. When someone says they want to play the field, you know what you're getting into, but when they state that they are poly-amorous, there's a tiny hint of a promise of real love. Is it possible to have feelings or even love more than one person at a time? Of course, and it's fine to explore options. I don't want to rip on people who are in real poly-amorous relationships. I understand that there are people who make it work. What I fear has happened is that people use this catch phrase to screw around and possibly treat others badly without remorse. It might be one of those cases of a few people giving a larger group a bad name.

I know very few people who are able to successfully be in open or poly-amorous relationships, mostly because they take more work than regular relationships. These kinds of relationships work on paper, but toss in emotions and suddenly having and eating cake becomes complicated. It's not easy for most of us to be in any kind of relationship without at least some attachments, so in order for any alternative companionship to work, communication is essential. Expressing needs is key to a successful relationship, no matter what kind of connection it is, and, unfortunately, most of us are not good at talking about what we need or expect from our partners. Of course, there's a good chance that desired outcomes might not come true even after they are put on the table, but stating what relationship requirements are can lead to healthy compromises. Even if a compromise can't be met, knowing where one stands after stating our needs can allow us to make appropriate decisions to either change or simply accept the the situation.

Part of the reason I wanted to bring up this conversation Michael and I had is because we discussed how so many of us fail to move on, even when we know we aren't getting what we want in a relationship. I know a lady in a long-term relationship who is overly aware that it's not the kind of experience she wants. This guy she's with can't give her what she wants, yet because she gets some intermittent rewards, she won't let go. Overall, she wants more, but her fear of never getting what she really wants anyway keeps her stuck in an unhappy situation. The more she tries to express her needs, the more he ignores her. It's not unlike my own situation of being an expert in finding guys who either don't want or are incapable of being in a relationship. Many "if only" scenarios pass through my head, but the reality is usually that the one or two things that need to change don't. I hope I'm getting better about letting go, but it's tough to do that when the alternative could end up being more alone time. Still, alone is often better than unhappy together. The big question is: Do I really want a relationship? Maybe there's a part of me that doesn't, and that's why guys who are happy being single look so tempting.

I might sound like I'm backtracking a little bit here, but bear with me. In stating that needs should be met or at lest expressed, that doesn't mean that if things end up being different a relationship should be thrown out the window in these changing circumstances. Some people resort to that, but let me go into more detail. Shortly before the show, I read a friend's facebook status that said something about this person only wanting to be in a relationship with another runner. The comments that followed shocked me, because so many people were extremely exclusive about what kind of partner they would potentially have. Of course when it comes to something like not smoking, it makes perfect sense, though I briefly dated a smoker without any problem, probably because he was respectful of my needs and only smoked outside. That was a compromise I didn't even have to request. Insisting that someone runs doesn't make as much sense to me, because anyone can get that kind of camaraderie by running with friends, no? I would state for myself that I would want my partner to understand my need to run. I don't actually need him to be out there running with me though.

I can understand why many people feel like shared interests are good, but I say there should be more, something deeper. Let's say you meet the perfect match. The two of you run together and share all aspects of a happy life. Then one day your partner gets hit by a bus and can no longer run. Do you stick to your original statement about NEVER being with someone who doesn't run? I would hope not. If the relationship hasn't grown and developed into something deeper, then it might be a case of someone confusing love with companionship. Kicking the whole relationship out the door would be one solution. But this is the perfect example of why communication is crucial when you become someone's partner. Things change. If we have this false idea that the person we meet is going to be the same, relationships are basically screwed. It's not so much that we have to get our needs met, it's that we need to be able to express them and then, based on our partner's response, decide if things can move forward.

Yeah, I know I'm probably not the best person to be handing out relationship advice. Take all this with a shaker of salt.

In thinking about all this relationship stuff, I found some similarities with recovery. It takes a commitment to recover from an eating disorder. In fact, that was probably the one thing that helped me most, that and being honest. There's some saying about how if you love someone, the best way to show it is to take care of yourself. I agree. If there was one thing that really got me to the other side of my illness, it was making a commitment to getting well, even if I didn't always know what that looked like. Suddenly, instead of being focused on restricting, I became driven to eat my meals and watch my exercise. Recovery is a day-to-day, every day thing. It doesn't often lead to good outcomes to be dedicated for a few days and then give in to old patterns indefinitely. It takes consistency, just like training for a race. I'll leave it at that.

On a lighter note, GZ posted one of those Hitler videos that's truly hilarious. Check out this one on a running injury here: