Monday, February 27, 2012

NEDA

According to the statistics listed on the ANAD website, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. I was lucky. The number of people who die from complications related to anorexia is staggering. 20% of those with the illness will not make it to the other side of wellness. Those who struggle with any eating disorder often think death would be a welcome relief. It has been a long time since I have been the the throes of the illness. I remember vividly the sense of despair, desperation, fear and hopelessness. My life was truly a nightmare.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. So often, I forget that aspect of my life, despite the minor little struggles I see both in myself and it those around me. Once removed from the worst of the disorder, it's hard to get anywhere even remotely close to it in any way. I find it difficult to be around people caught up in training too much, eating too little, talking about body hate and falling into the false idea that we have to be beautiful and thin in order to be happy and successful. It pains me to see those deep in the grip of their addiction. On the other hand, when I come back to those who, like me, lived to see better days, I feel incredibly empowered, grateful and inspired. I talk often about Diane Israel. We had similar stories, and both of us are dedicated to spreading the word that recovery from an eating disorder is possible. I want to share a wonderful interview that was done by August Mclaughlin. In it, she discusses with Diane what it takes to be free.

Filmmaker Diane Israel on Beauty, Healing & Feeling to Be Free

What I love most about Diane's approach is that she addresses what Doug Bunnell, Ph.D. calls the Western standards of beauty that, for some reason, everyone is trying to achieve. It has quite a bit to do with the beauty industry, a multi-billion dollar industry, thriving on us not feeling good enough. Of course there are many reasons why an eating disorder gets set in motion, but the pressure from society to be a certain way doesn't help. Diane is right that the key to overcoming these harsh standards and the illness is to start with the self. After this, finding a way to serve others is the next step, and she often reminds us that you don't need to be fully recovered in order to start this process. It can be one step among many in the right direction.

In a small segment on the local news last night, awareness about men struggling with eating disorders was raised, though the outdated statistic of 10-15% of those with an eating disorder are men was used, which we now know is probably not accurate. Men are both under-diagnosed and not as willing to seek treatment, so the statistics are a bit skewed. Unfortunately, it has been discovered that more men are suffering from eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

Because it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I do want to stress that there is a way out of the illness. There is a nicely done video on the NEDA website that offers a positive message. When I started writing my manuscript, I wanted to convey this idea about healing in a "dis-ordered" world. I wasn't quite in a place where I felt fully recovered, but I knew a better life was possible. My healing continued long after I stopped writing. In the chains of the illness, it can often feel like a different life is out of reach. I think both Diane and I have wanted to send everyone the message that despite the pressures society and the media place on us, recovery is an option.

Please check out Boulder Youth Body Alliance, a great group that provides support and information about self-acceptance.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whoops.

Jeez, Will someone PLEASE remind me to edit before I hit submit on my next blog post?!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Running

I forgot that I actually run. I haven't run since December 2nd, when I snuck in a short trip up NCAR road and back before the surgery. It looks like I might be able to start jogging again soon, but my foot definitely needs some PT. I'm walking a little bit, but it's hard to imagine training again. There's still a bit of weakness in my foot that causes me to limp. I've been sort of holding steady on the bike though. I've done some big workouts, so I hope I've kept reasonably fit. Still, I haven't had the energy or motivation to really push things. I've found that I can't read a ton about what other people do when they are injured or follow other runners much at the moment. I mostly try to distract myself and deal. I sort of hate to admit that there's a part of me that is OK with not running, though I miss it. It's such an addictive sport, and I get so on my own case when I'm not where I want to be with it. I'm just harder on myself when it comes to running. Funny, if I have a bad workout on the bike, who cares? Somehow it affects me more if I have a bad running day.

I do have other things going on that are keeping me busy. So many things are changing, and some very cool possibilities are presenting themselves. In fact, I'm sort of getting excitement paralysis and overwhelmed with all of it. I'm thrilled that I am probably going to co-author a book with a friend. That looks like something we will start later in the spring. I'm also thinking about trying to do something chocolate related, but it's all in the dream stages at the moment. I've got a concept and have made samples, some good and some not so good. It's hard to figure out how I'm going to manage all of this, because anytime energy goes into one thing, it naturally pulls away from another. I still have my regular job and the rest of my life to sort out too. At the moment, it's my social life that has been hit hardest, not that I ever got out much. Aside from the chocolate event at Piece, Love and Chocolate, I haven't been out at all lately. I'm better about that kind of thing in the warmer months though. Still, this is the time when it would be good to remember to avoid rushing things and find some balance. I sometimes tend to go full steam with an idea at the expense of too many other things. I'm working on not doing that at the moment.

basically, this is one of those posts to say that I'm not giving up blogging, but I'm sort of distracted right now. If all goes well, I will get back into writing more regularly again shortly. This week was a bit too hectic.

I'll leave everyone with this video that lifts my spirits when I'm feeling a little down, which has been the case, despite all this positive stuff falling in my lap.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A night of chocolate and wine

Delicious wines with fabulous chocolates!


Last Wednesday, a friend and I were lucky enough to be invited to an evening of chocolate and wine parings at Piece, Love and Chocolate. It was a night I won't forget. What I absolutely loved, aside from all the wonderful flavors I experienced, was meeting so many passionate and warm people. It made me realize that I need to focus more on these kinds of experiences and less on upsetting ones. I wrote an all too personal blog post, one I sort of figured I wouldn't actually submit, about one of those annoying situations that sometimes happens online. It was cathartic, but there's no need to share. I bring it up, because I've learned over the years that my every thought need not be heard. Sometimes it's good enough to write it, get some satisfaction and then store it away, so that nobody can see it. In these and all situations, it helps if you have people around you who can love and support you.


Now, on to better things.



The event started with an intelligent lecture on how chocolate affects the senses, including how it affects brain chemistry. There's no doubt that chocolate makes us feel good. There are three areas of the brain that are stimulated when we eat it. Of course, the centers of the brain associated with pleasure are activated after eating chocolate, but, in addition to that, both the motor cortex and the prefrontal cortex are as well. The prefrontal cortex is the same area of the brain associated with learning but also with the development of addiction. Chocolate also increases serotonin levels in the brain, especially in those who tend to have certain kinds of depression e.g., SADS or atypical depression. LeeAnn, a clinical sexologist, explained how all the senses can be involved with taste. After the very interesting discussion about the senses, a nice warm hand towel was handed to each of us, and Sarah took over the lecture. Sarah is the chef at Piece, Love and Chocolate, and this lady knows chocolate! 

A cocoa pod-where it all starts.


I'm always impressed to meet anyone who knows all about chocolate--the history, the details of the chocolate making process and the properties of the yummy stuff. There is so much to know! There are certain areas in the world that employ unethical methods to gather and process cocoa beans, so it's important to know the origin of chocolate too. Here's a quick little video about that:



Sarah took us on an enchanting little journey filled with mouth-watering desserts, delightful wines and enjoyable conversation. I had a hard time being patient, because everything looked so tempting! I wanted to dive right in, but I was glad I waited, because Sarah had much to say about how and why the different wines were paired with specific sweets. What was most interesting to me about that aspect was learning more thoroughly about how the taste buds work. Most of us know that different areas of the tongue have different receptors that respond more or less to the four different flavors: sour, sweet, bitter and salt. Pairing a wine that stimulates the same receptors as the dessert can enhance the experience, but pairing a wine that stimulates a different area of the tongue can also be a good match, depending on how much the general flavors are alike. Of course, a few of the desserts stimulated two different parts of the tongue without any added help. Probably the best example of this is the dark salted liquid caramel nugget of goodness by Piece, Love and Chocolate. Holy cocoa bean! I can see why this is a best seller. Flavor explodes all over your mouth in a wonderful contrast of salty sweetness. There is an equal blast of different textures as well with a hard outer shell, liquid caramel and crunchy salt on top. We were told that the best way to eat it is to bite the gorgeous little dark chocolate ball in half, take some salt and sprinkle it on the caramel in the remaining half and pop that into your mouth just as you are finishing the first half. Mmmm That was a good suggestion.

Salted caramel and other yummy chocolates at Piece, Love and Chocolate


As we moved through bite after bite of so many incredible chocolate works of art, I came upon my favorite, and I think a few others agreed based on the yummy noises floating about the room. It was the Raspbeverly cake, a flourless chocolate extravaganza with both a texture and flavor that people associate with "killer" chocolate. My oh my was that dense little square of indulgence something else. That's the stuff I dream about when it comes to chocolate. Woooaaa. It was good! I'm not even a huge fan of raspberry and chocolate, but this was sheer perfection on a plate. I bet I would like their plain flourless chocolate cake as well, and I can't wait to try it! 

Oooooo that little raspberry chocolate square was absolutely amazing!

I won't go into each piece of chocolate we tried, but I will mention a few more stand-outs. There was the PLC sesame cut ganache with a very strong sesame flavor that blended well with chocolate, A PLC basil cut ganache that had quite a punch of basil flavor, the chocolate Linzer torte, a chocolate bar made with goat milk that had a wonderful little kick of tang at the finish, a creamy white chocolate cheesecake, various truffles and a lovely little lemon square with a chocolate crust. Before getting to the end of my plate, I hit maximum chocolate capacity and had to stop. Fortunately, I was sent home with a doggy bag.

Getting ready for some taste tests.

I am hoping to participate in some of the other classes that Piece, Love and Chocolate offers. They have a wonderful selection of classes available. There's another class just like the one I mentioned taking place on March 7th: Chocolate Lab for Lovers... of Sensual Chocolate & Wine 



Check out www.chocolateforbreakfast.com for more info on this.


I will save the details for another time, but I was very fortunate to be able to meet Sue Ann Gleason, founder of Chocolate for Breakfast, again. We sat next to each other at the event, and I am so thrilled to announce that she is coming out with her own cluster and bar! More details on that to come, of course, but I will say that this chocolate is about as far from boring, one-dimensional chocolate as anyone can get. I don't think I've ever had a taste of chocolate so intriguing with perfectly combined hints of bitterness and sweetness and lingering notes of spice from the cinnamon dusting. I predict much success with this collaboration between MC2 confections and Chocolate for Breakfast. If all goes well, the products will be available at Piece, Love and Chocolate in the near future. Big smile!






A friend of mine just sent me the link to this article about chocolate, which I thought was fitting and ties in nicely to my chocolate obsession lately. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interview with Suzy Favor-Hamilton

I thought I would share the interview I did with Suzy Favor-Hamilton for Competitor.com:

Beyond the Finish Line.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nicobella Truffles

Nicobella Chocoates!



It's all about chocolate. Well, for the next few posts, it might be. Lately it has been raining free chocolate on me. I feel so lucky! It all started when I won a box of Nicobella truffles. Sue Ann was celebrating the one year anniversary of her newly revised blog, Chocolate for Breakfast, so she had a few give-away prizes to offer her dedicated chocolate fans. I was thrilled to get the box, because it was chocolate from a company that I hadn't tried. Nicobella chocolates are organic, vegan, fair trade and come in packaging that is considerate of the environment. What is most exciting is the interesting flavors they offer. Nicobella is fearless when it comes to mixing flavors. In the box of six truffles that I received, there was only one flavor that was less outrageous, and that was the Pure Cocoa Bliss truffle.

Truffles were first created in France. Traditionally, they were made using a ganache, a mixture of cream and melted chocolate. Because Nicobella truffles are vegan, cream cannot be used. Instead, the cream is replaced with organic oat milk, which makes these truffles lower in fat. While nearly all truffles are considered decadent, the ones by Nicobella are also quite sophisticated. I consider them geared toward adults because of the unique flavors and the extra dark, not too sweet chocolate flavor, but there's no doubt that most kids would gobble up the Blueberry-Almond and Pure Cocoa Bliss options, despite the lack of a sugar sting to the teeth. The blueberry flavor is strong but not overpowering and combines beautifully with the chocolate. The taste is pure and natural, a true representation of the quality ingredients they use. I was pleasantly surprised that flavors I never thought I would like combined with chocolate, worked with these truffles.



Rocky Mountain Mints


The free chocolate droppings continued yesterday when some people from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory stopped in the place where I work and handed each of the employees some free chocolates. It has been a long time since I sampled this chocolate. My favorite was always the Rocky Mountain Mints. Included the the sample I got were a chocolate heart and a small truffle. These were a sweet (maybe a tad too sweet for this granola girl) contrast to the more down to earth Nicobella chocolates. It was a really nice gesture, and made me realize that I'm always a little skeptical when people first approach. I generally think someone is after something, so it was a relief and nice surprise to get a free little sample of chocolate instead of some spiel.




Piece, Love and Chocolate for Valentine's Day!


The last thing I want to add is that Piece, Love and Chocolate will be hosting a class called Chocolate Lab for Lovers this Wednesday February 8th. I will be attending to get a few interviews and gain some insight on the physiology of taste and how taste affects our mood and other senses. Speaking of this kind of thing, a fun experiment to do with chocolate is to grab a friend, throw a blindfold on him and have him sample some chocolates. Here's the trick though. Take one bar of chocolate and cut it into three separate pieces. Have him taste a piece and describe it. Then, hold a piece of a banana under his nose and have him sample another piece. Chances are he will describe it differently. With the last piece, hold an onion under his nose while he samples it and see what he says about that!

A Big THANK YOU to Sue Ann and Nicobella!! You both made one chocolate lover very happy. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jerry Quiller

Former CU track and cross country coach, Jerry Quiller


Today I woke up to the sad news that my former college coach, Jerry Quiller passed away. I found two articles that are worth reading, both describing Quillers accomplishments and talents, the Coloradan article and this one is from a few years ago in the Denver Post.

When I was at C.U., it was unfortunately when my running career was coming to an end. My body was giving out, and I was long past chronic fatigue and facing sheer apathy. Coach Quiller was such a kind soul. He probably knew there wasn't much he could do for me at that point, but he was always encouraging with his words. I regret not being able to run to my potential with him. Despite everything, he still did his best to support me. I will always remember how nice he was to all of us on the team. His smile will remain in my memory forever.

My deepest sympathy goes out to his friends and family. He will be greatly missed. Before Wetmore there was Quiller, and without him, the C.U. program wouldn't be what it is today.