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Ms. Banana’s Questions

Have a question about food, exercise, gluten intolerance, self-love or any other topic on my blog?  Please feel free to comment with questions and I promise I will post a thoughtful answer.  ~Diana Banana


4.1.11 QUESTION #10:

(In reference to dairy allergy) Are goat milk products different? -Sasha

Goat milk products are different somehow — I can tell by the way my body reacts.  Googling this issue yields a lot of interesting information.   Apparently many people find goat milk to be OK even when cow milk products are not.   There is some debate as to why — it may be that the composition of the fats in the goat milk products make it easier to digest the lactose, or it may be this:

“Goat’s milk does contain a somewhat different set of proteins than does cow’s milk, so some people who can’t drink cow’s milk because they have allergies to casein proteins can drink goat’s milk instead.” -http://the-dairy-free-diva-recipe-exchange.yumsugar.com/Continuing-Goat-Cheese-Saga-612228

This second explanation makes a lot of sense to me because apparently the gluten protein and the casein protein are very similar and many people who are allergic to one are allergic to the other.

For another response to this question, go to this site:

http://www.drgourmet.com/askdrgourmet/goatcheeseallergy.shtml

Hope this helps to clarify!  I am still learning myself 🙂

 

9.15.10 QUESTION #9:

What is gluten?  I know it is in a lot of food, but I don’t know exactly what it is. -Xochitl, via Facebook

Good question. Gluten is a protein found naturally in some grains, namely wheat, rye, and barley. Many processed foods contain ingredients derived from these grains, so it can be tricky to totally get rid of gluten. Also, some grains (oats, in particular) are grown near wheat and stored in silos with wheat so frequently that they become cross-contaminated with gluten even though they don’t contain gluten naturally.   I still get “glutened” every here and there, I think, but it is rare now.  Avoiding gluten is definitely a learning process!


8.27.10 QUESTION #8:

How do you make yourself continue to work out? –Sean, via text

So I got this text from my friend Sean a month ago and thought it would be a good question to answer on here.  How do I keep going to the gym?  Well, first of all, some weeks are better than others.  It’s easy to be hard on myself when I don’t make it more than three days in a week.  But wow, how different the standard I hold for myself is from what it was a few years ago!

The hardest part is the transition from not really working out at all to working out regularly.  This transition can be quite a shock to your body, your free time, your routine, and your emotions.

Here is my recommendation: commit to just two weeks of working out 5 days a week.  Jump in cold turkey but with the option of backing off after a few weeks.  Why give yourself an out?  Because a) otherwise it can be too daunting and shocking, and b) after two weeks, you will probably be hooked and won’t want to go back to your old ways 😉   Endorphins are a powerful drug!  But it’s always good to feel that you have a choice.  It’s empowering.

After that it is just a matter of discipline.  It can help to a certain point to have a routine… I think I was most consistent with working out when I just went every day after work without thinking.  I would bring my gym bag to work and keep it in the car and drive right to the gym when I left the office… no questioning, no considering my options, just mindless routine.  This strategy, however, came with a few strings attached.  First, I wasn’t mixing up my workouts when I was so set in my routine.  Second, it wasn’t as empowering to meander mindlessly into a mediocre workout every day.  And lastly, I got bored.

I am most satisfied with my workouts when I choose to do them each day, stay consistent, and mix up the activities.   How is this achieved?  Through trial and error, struggling through the process of motivating yourself, and listening to your body’s needs.  It’s about seeing through your lethargy or crankiness or antsy-ness to your body’s desire to move 🙂

 

8.13.10 QUESTION #7:

Without eating gluten or dairy, what on earth are you eating these days!?  –Josh and Sarah, via Facebook

Yea, it’s a good question.  What on earth am I eating?  Which is to say, what can a person eat when they go gluten & dairy free?

At first I thought the problem would be not getting enough carbs, since wheat is a grain and it tends to be in high-carb foods, but surprisingly, the thing I have to be most aware of (especially now that I am going dairy-free too) is protein.  I’m not a big meat eater, and haven’t eaten mammals since I was 13 years old, so most of my protein has always come from dairy (especially milk and cottage cheese) and fake meat, which is made primarily out of wheat gluten!  (Gluten is the protein in wheat.)

The key is making sure you are substituting in for all of the things you take out.  I am still working this out,but there are substitutes for most things: soy milk for cow milk, gluten-free bread for wheat bread, real meat for fake meat, and rice or quinoa for pasta (which I was pretty much doing already).  I have even decided to eat beef again (gasp!) so that my options aren’t quite so limited.  I need to eat significantly more meat than I am used to eating.  This is the primary shift I need to make.  I also need to be aware & make sure I’m still getting enough vitamin D and calcium without dairy.

The nice thing is that, since gluten-free has become a bit of a fad, there are many companies that are starting to make gluten-free products.  This helps to keep me from feeling deprived, but it’s actually not even all that necessary.  The reality is that most of what you need can be found in basic, natural foods: meat, veggies, fruit, beans, nuts, rice, egg, potato, corn, soy, etc. These are my new gluten/dairy free staples.

 

6.23.10 QUESTION #6:

Stress!  Stress can be such a huge barrier!  What are some good ways to relieve stress?

Stress is such a tricky and interesting issue because about a billion variables impact stress levels: food, exercise, sleep, hormone levels, genetics, upbringing, financial situation, relationships, self-soothing skills, spirituality, support system, culture/society, attitude, routine, choice, & probably many more!

Some of these things you have total control over and some of these things you have no control over, but it is important to realize that you either do or don’t have control over each variable.  There is no in between.  Why is this important?  Because once you are aware of this, you can decipher which things you can control and which things you can’t.  Then you will be free to be pro-active about the things you can control and let go of the rest (and stop blaming yourself!).

The term “stress relief” seems to imply a short-term solution, which is sometimes all you need to manage stress.  Going for a walk, lifting light weights, singing, dancing, crying, getting enough sleep, drinking water, meditating, putting awareness on your body, doing breathing exercises, intaking less refined sugars and caffeine, interacting with nature and animals, and creating some form of art can all be good ways to relieve stress.

The most important piece, however, may be the root of the stress.  If you truly feel like you are doing everything in your power to manage your stress but it still won’t subside, try thinking of your stress as a symptom, combine it with other symptoms your body is showing, and see if you can piece together a holistic answer.  Stress can simply be your body’s way of telling you that something is chronically out of whack.

 

6.14.10 QUESTION #5:

How do routines serve a purpose?  How do routines get in the way?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of routine in taking care of your body. I think my answer fundamentally boils down to this: it is ALL about intention. Sometimes there is nothing more helpful than building a routine (intentional), and yet there is nothing more harmful than falling into a routine (unintentional).

Routines are the building blocks of our body-care behaviors, though some of us are more routine-driven than others.  I myself tend to be more scattered and comfortable with change rather than the static consistency of routine.  Still, we all have some routines, and the overarching trend of your routines is of great impact on your body, far greater than making one seemingly huge healthy or unhealthy decision.  Routines are powerful.  With this in mind, I am trying to respect my routines more and solidify some of the healthiest ones.

I also think routine reduces stress.  Predictability allows you to let the routine take the wheel every now and then… which is a nice break, so long as it is not steering your life.

On the other hand, routines can hold you back if your intention is to change your body.  Your body likes to stay the same, even if the change would ultimately be healthier.  If you stay in any routine too long, your body will have the opportunity to resist changing by readjusting to the environment.  Because of this, you can’t assume that doing the same workout/eating routine every day will lead to weight-loss.  Over time, that workout and those foods will become less beneficial than they were originally.

This makes sense when thinking in terms of balance.  For example: if you do 100 crunches per day, you will feel good at first and your abs will get stronger.  But if you do not change this routine, the rest of your body will be neglected and out of whack, and even your abs wont be getting stronger any more because they are used to this routine.  This is a simple example, but it applies to more complex routines as well.  It is just as much about what you have been doing as what you are doing now.  It seems to me that change leads to growth, so I guess I won’t waste too much of my energy trying to resist my desire for change 🙂


5.21.10 QUESTION #4:

What are the little victories that keep you striving toward your goals?

In general, I am finding that sometimes it’s the little things that keep you going: a compliment from an acquaintance, a loving nudge from a friend, a little gift for yourself, or just the feeling of accomplishment after doing something you’ve been resisting that actually makes you feel better.

Specific things that have helped me continue towards my body goals lately have been fitting into a favorite pair of old jeans, enjoying the way my body feels, noticing my arms looking more muscular and firm, feeling less self-conscious in a bathing suit, and letting myself hear complements.  I think this last one is crucial: I need to actively work to let complements permeate my resistance to them, and when I can do this, they serve their purpose of encouraging me to love myself better.


5.6.10 QUESTION #3:

What do you love about your body?

I know I’ve been slacking a bit on these questions, but hey, you can never take too much time to contemplate your answer to this question!  This is actually a tough one… it somehow feels almost obscene to write about this, which is sad.  It’s important to me to get through that shame.

So, what do I love about my body….  I love that it is womanly.  I love that my body feels complicated to the touch, not comprised of straight lines.  I love my big eyes and full lips, and I love that my skin is soft and warm.  I love my body for telling me what it needs and pushing me to get out into the world.  I love spending time with it, enjoying the pleasures of life with it, and connecting with others through it.  Thank you, body.


4.29.10 QUESTION #2:

What does it feel like for you when you are in touch with your body?

I’ve been working for a while now on learning how to “hear” my body when it is hungry/full.  I’ve gotten a lot better at it… it’s basically been one big trial and error process to notice what feels good and what doesn’t.  I’ve learned to not only recognize the signs that my body is feeling healthy but I actually seek that feeling.

Then this week I had a realization: listening to your body is not just about knowing when you need food, what kind of food, etc.: it’s also about MOVEMENT!  Without realizing it, I’ve been getting in touch with my body this way as well.

It can be hard to distinguish different cues at first. Sometimes your body is tired but really, underneath the fatigue, it needs to work out.  So far I’ve found that the way you can tell the difference is through:  a) paying attention to your emotions… are you cranky starting around the time of day/in the week when your body is used to getting exercise?  &/or b) paying attention to what it feels like to move, even if the idea of moving isn’t appealing… does it feel good to stretch your arms and legs out, to engage your muscles by walking or dancing around?  If so, your body is probably low energy because it hasn’t gotten enough exercise.

There is also just a warm tingly sensation that occurs when I check in with my body, and it feels really good :0)

Listening to your body is always about noticing what feels good and what doesn’t, because pleasure and pain are your body’s words, and your soul’s words as well.

Emotions and the body give us cues all the time about how to take care of ourselves.  When we learn their language and these cues start dictating our behavior, we get healthy. That’s the secret, I think, assuming there is one.


4.22.10 QUESTION #1:

How can you tell the difference between pushing yourself to lose weight out of love of self vs. punishment of self?

I received a few responses to this question and they were all amazing.  Thank you 🙂   My own answer to the question, though I am still figuring it out, is that even though the two may look the same externally (eating right and exercising), they feel really different internally.  To me, the punishment behavior feels fear-based… it feels like an obligation, because somewhere inside me I feel that I’m not acceptable until I take action to lose weight.  It feels emotionally heavy and less satisfying, even when I exhibit the exact same external behavior.  Self-love behaviors, however, are more satisfying for me and I feel more powerful afterward because I feel more in control of the decisions I’m making.

image courtesy of http://www.sciencegirl.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/askaquestion.jpg

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Alix permalink
    April 22, 2010 5:23 pm

    I am so proud of you Diana for your efforts to get healthy! It is really hard to get started on any new path in life, but once you make a habit of it it’s pretty exciting. I think that people who try to lose weight for ANY reason other than love of self will ultimately fail- either by remaining unhappy with who they are inside, or by putting the weight back on. When you care about your body and its health and its functionality as a tool for you to live life in, then you will respect it more and ultimately treat it with more respect, I think. I’m looking forward to watching your progress! 🙂

    • April 22, 2010 7:08 pm

      Yay! My first comment! Thank you so much for your wisdom & encouragement Alix. You’re a smart lady 🙂 Everything you said resonated with me, and it makes me feel a little more sane knowing that people like you are out there.

  2. April 23, 2010 7:41 am

    Diana- you’re so amazing, this blog is such a great idea, I’m so excited for you and I know EXACTLY what you mean about the overwhelm of trying to transmit all your amazing thoughts and ideas at once.

    here’s my answer to the question-

    SHIT!!! *hands over mouth* sorry. This is so, so hard for me, I spend a lot of (unhealthy moments) time in the hate category, and at first it almost feels easier to stick to a pattern on the punishment path. It so much easier to be angry at myself about something I already ate(that I can’t change) than to approve of myself, know there are setbacks and try harder as I move on, lately I have been noticing how my relationship to food often includes guilt… guilty that I ate something there wasn’t that much left of at work ( i work in a home) fear someone will get mad that I took too much, or think im trying to loose weight if I don’t take enough, It’s hard.

    Yesterday I was cooking Alfredo bacon sauce for the family I work for- i know, ew. and I realized, my body doesn’t really want this? why do I eat it?

    ok I think I went on too long and went way off topic.

    It feels easier to change my body by hating it, than to love myself first and then take care of my body. This is one of the reasons I look forward to being pregnant someday, I know that when I am growing another person inside of me it will be easier to eat the right food that nourish for the right reasons.

    But why not start now, why not take care of me, just because it feels good? I used to work with teen girls and I told them how much easier it is to learn to love the body to have than to try to change it. but why not do both? love yourself and change for the better.

    I love you and I’m proud of you, let me know how I can support you.
    xoxoxo

    • April 23, 2010 10:20 am

      Thanks for sharing all of this, Sasha! WOW — I feel for you! To see it from the outside, it seems like such a waste for someone as beautiful as you to have to struggle with all of this… I try to have the same compassion for myself, though it’s hard to give myself that space. But we’re growing and we’re learning! I’m so thankful for your support.

      I want to reply more specifically to what you said, but I’m gonna hold off until next Thursday when I answer my own question. For now, I’m letting it all marinate in my mind….

  3. May 22, 2010 7:49 am

    Lady Diana,
    You are an amazing woman, and I can see all this progress, even if I don’t know you well. You are definitely on the right path. I can see parallels in my own thoughts and body feelings when you write that your body needs to move, and when it is cranky, it is giving you promptings to move, stretch, push, and otherwise extend yourself outside of a comfort zone. You either use it or lose it. Use your muscles or they contract and atrophy (which is a process in itself that causes pain–ask any athlete that is recovering from an injury and is prohibited from doing what he/she normally does for exercise). When your body is balanced, your soul gets aligned too. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed.

    In your words, I hear the thoughts of other friends I know who struggle with weight, and I am going to recommend this blog.

    Keep it up! I’m sure you’re feeling the benefits.

    Lynne

    • May 25, 2010 9:19 pm

      Dear Lynne,

      How can I thank you enough? Your support and encouragement simply means so much to me.

      I loved what you said: “when your body is balanced, your soul gets aligned too.” It has become a new fascination of mine to witness the connection between mind, body & soul. I never would have dreamed how REAL that connection is before experiencing it, but it absolutely is one of the truest things I’ve found in life… so far!

      Thank you for sharing my blog with friends! I received a heartwarming comment from one of your friends.

      I hope all is well with your health and your art and everything!

      Diana

  4. Alix permalink
    August 27, 2010 4:28 pm

    I just want to add to your most recent question:
    I ALWAYS try to remind myself that after any workout I will never say “oh man.. I wish I hadn’t done that”. But you will definitely beat yourself up for workouts you skip… So, make it work and make the time and don’t skip!
    🙂

  5. Cynthia permalink
    September 15, 2010 1:04 pm

    Diana, your blog inspires me in countless ways. You impart a lot of wisdom for someone so young! I also admire your honesty and openness about struggling to find things you love about your body. I do, too – and yet, it’s SO easy for me to point out the many things other women should love about their bodies! Like you, I also rebel against any kind of ‘diet’ and instead focus on each food choice I make during the day as a chance to eat good, healthy, nutritious food and feed my body what it needs to thrive, not just survive. Not to say I will never eat the piece of candy or nibble on dessert, but rather than feel overwhelmed by the burden of a lifetime of ‘perfect’ diet choices, I just focus on each one as it comes up. I love working out, thank goodness, but also use tricks to make sure I go: the minute I walk in the door from work, I change into workout clothes. That way, if I end up going to bed that night without having worked out, I will feel really, really LAME!!! Sounds silly, but it really does work! My other trick is that, on those nights when I am stressed, tired, worn out, whatever – and don’t really feel like it – I tell myself, just go and do 20 minutes. That’s it. Surely you can handle THAT minimal amount! And, of course, once I get there, I feel so energized, I end up doing my complete workout anyway! I also find if I’m feeling blue, the best thing for me is to work out OUTSIDE. The sunlight works wonders on my mood!! Keep it up – I love all you share! You are an extremely talented and inspired writer.
    Keep up the good work – on all fronts! 🙂

    • September 16, 2010 12:03 pm

      Cynthia,

      Thank you so very much for all of your support and encouragement! It helps every step of the way.

      I absolutely LOVE your idea about putting your gym clothes on when you get home! Not only do you feel silly not going to the gym (haha, I love that), but it makes it oh-so easy to just get up and go when you take the changing step out of the equation… or so I would imagine! I’m going to have to try that 🙂

      You are so right about working out outside improving mood! I’m resisting the outdoor workouts these days — I tell myself I get a better workout at the gym than outside, but I think mixing it up is the name of the game… plus I have found that what I am resisting in this way is often what I really need, so I see a nice woodsy hike in my near future…

      ~Diana

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