Kristi brought an interesting twist to this idea. She said that lately she has also been working on loving herself, and has been using the idea of doing loving things for her body as a filter to help her stay on track. For example, when she has had a hard day and wants to go eat a piece of cheesecake, she will ask herself "is this the most loving thing I can do for my body right now?" She has also been trying to reinforce her positive behaviors in this way. She tells herself that getting enough sleep is a way to love herself. When she exercises every day she tells herself that she is doing a loving thing for her body. Also drinking enough water, finding ways to manage stress, and eating fresh fruits and veggies are all acts of self love. In Kristi's words, "sometimes you want to tell yourself that eating a giant piece of chocolate cake is loving yourself. And sometimes it is. But usually, it's not."
Kristi's theory has been helpful for me too. As a kid I wasn't a huge fan of exercise, since it didn't seem fun. To me, exercise was something I had to do to avoid being fat. As an adult I always wanted someone to work out with; I didn't like to do it by myself. I liked playing soccer and doing kickboxing, but I loathed going for runs and doing weight training. Basically, I shied away from anything that felt too much like exercise, because exercise felt like a punishment. Lately however, I've come to enjoy working out. I've realized how much better I feel when I am consistent with my exercise. My AS symptoms bother me less, I have more energy, and my spine feels stronger when I get some form of exercise every day. This daily exercise has also allowed me to build the strength required to push my body in new ways. Also, I've used my daily exercise time as a time of self reflection, and I've come to really enjoy having this "me" time.
Another area I've struggled with is dessert. I've always had a sweet tooth, and even on this restrictive diet I have a tendency to overindulge when I find or create something that tastes like a treat. If I want to continue to progress towards my goal I need to remember that loving yourself is even bigger than not hating yourself. What I mean is, while I have gotten much better at squelching the negative self talk and being proud of myself when I do things like complete a triathlon, I haven't come as far as Kristi in being able to continuously choose courses of actions that are loving to my body.
A recent thing I have been struggling with is sugar free products, especially candy. Actually, especially chocolate. They make sugar free Reese's peanut butter cups, sugar free York peppermint patties, even sugar free Hershey's chocolate filled with caramel. I couldn't remember the last time I ate caramel. Sigh.
Sugar free candy uses sugar alcohols instead of sugar, and I am not supposed to eat them. However, they taste like real candy and are readily available in the gift shop at my work, so lately I have been frequently succumbing to temptation. If you flip over the package of sugar free candy and read the fine print, it actually says "may cause laxative effects in individuals sensitive to sugar alcohols." Talk about yuck. After eating the first package of the sugar free chocolate I was instantly gassy and bloated, but they tasted so darn good that I bought another package the next day. Definitely not a very loving thing to do to my body.
With all of that in mind, some days are chocolate cake days. I decided it's more loving to myself to figure out how to make a dessert I can eat that won't make me feel disgusting. Also, I've noticed that I tend to eat less of the treat that I've made than I do of the sugar free candy. The trick for me will be to eat mindfully and really savor any treats I make. Hence, after two days in the kitchen and two trips to the grocery store, my recipe for no starch chocolate cake with raspberry sauce was born.
No Starch Flourless Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350
Butter a loaf pan, and set aside
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
5 TB melted butter
12 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks, beaten
11 packets Truvia
1 tsp xanthan gum
3 egg whites
Combine applesauce, melted butter, cocoa powder, and milk. Batter will be lumpy. Set aside.
In a small dish, combine coconut extract, vanilla extract, Truvia, and beaten egg yolk. Add xanthan gum. Add this egg mixture into the cocoa mixture.
In a different small dish, whip 3 egg whites until stiff peaks form. The eggs should about triple in volume. Fold the egg whites into the cocoa mixture, and stir just until there are no white streaks visible.
Bake for 30 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Microwave 1/4 cup frozen raspberries for 1.5 minutes. Add 3 packets Truvia and microwave for 30 seconds. Serve immediately.