Apr 24, 2011

So Long Coke??

I've been contemplating nutrition a lot lately; specifically, my need to be more deliberate about it in my own diet. I'm not going all-organic or anything, but I definitely need to dial down my sugar intake.

I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this before. Sugar is my vice. Granted as far as vices go, it is relatively benign, but I do notice the effect it has on my life. Energy, feelings of depression, endurance...all are improved when I lay off the sugar. And also the other refined carbs, but mostly the sugar since it has the biggest pull on me.

Most recently I've been contemplating Coke. Currently I allow myself one per day. If I'm at home that means one bottle of Mexican Coke, usually during afternoon naptime. If I'm at a restaurant, it means a fountain Coke with lunch. Within these guidelines I am somewhat disciplined: I drink a liter of water before lunchtime most days, and sometimes I even drink a cupful of water before the Coke in the case of restaurants. I also don't drink Coke after 5pm, lest the caffeine keep me up too late.

I want to cut back the Coke to be healthier, but when it comes down to it I really like the Coke. And I've just gone the last two days without any Coke, which is proof to me that it can be done.

You may be thinking "Well duh, Skerrib, why not just have one every other day, or only on weekends (or weekdays), or some other sort of middle ground?" The problem is that, when it comes to the sugar I generally don't do well with arbitrary middle ground. I'll make a rule, and sooner or later start breaking it occasionally, and then overtime ramp it back up until I'm running around like my kids, groping into corners for every bit of junk I can consume. Even with the Coke I was starting to break my one-per-day rule in the restaurants more than occasionally, before I caught myself and dialed it back down.

Sadly, I've had the best success with all-out bans. Realistically, my best chance is to just say "no Coke, period." During the height of my health kick several years ago I limited myself to one dessert per week. Per week! It was really tough to stick to, but at the same time it was the easiest way to build in a cheat without going crazy and losing all discipline. And when I'm limited to one dessert per week, I very rarely (never?) choose soda over, say, ice cream.

So this is a dilemma I'm currently mulling over. I haven't decided what I'm going to do about it. Or rather, I haven't yet reached the place where I'm ready to do what I need to do and give up the Coke. I mean, if I give up Coke and start feeling even better, who knows what will be next--I could even go organic (or at least partially so)...

Apr 19, 2011


Growing up we ate cold cereal for breakfast most mornings. At school I would hear about kids having things like waffles or eggs and I would think, "Wow, on a school day?" In our house hot breakfasts were strictly for weekends and/or holidays. Part of me was a little resentful about this for a time. I mean gosh, couldn't my mom put in some effort to give us kids a hot breakfast and fuel our brains for a day of tough mental exertion? But then I realized I really didn't care, so no need to resent something I didn't really care about, right? Right. Plus, my night-owl mom had enough pressure on her hands getting up at the crack of dawn to get us to school and herself to her full-time job, so I don't blame her one bit. And now that I'm the mom, I think my parents were pretty smart to keep hot breakfasts a special thing.

We were the lucky kids who got to eat sugar cereals, and we were well-acquainted with nearly all of them. As the mom now I'm horrified at the stuff we were allowed to eat for breakfast, but at the time of course it seemed perfectly reasonable to eat a pile of teeny not-quite-cookies, or fake-fruity corn paste extruded into various shapes, or little rice puffs with "Super" and "Sugar" in their name. It actually made me sad when I found I didn't like Cocoa Puffs or Golden Grahams. Every so often I would try again, hoping I somehow had acquired a taste for them, but then they would sit in the pantry for weeks, until my dad took pity and finished the box for us.

Along the way there was one cereal I always wanted to try, but somehow my mom never bought it: Frosted Krispies. I don't know if I never asked or what, but we always had regular or Cocoa Krispies, or even Rice Krispies Treats cereal; but never the frosted ones. And somehow, in my mind, they had an intangible, or even magical taste quality about them. Like little snowy mountains would taste if you were suddenly transported to the land of arctic cereals with Snap, Crackle, & Pop themselves. Eventually though, Frosted Krispies were discontinued, so I had that little bit of mourning for the fact that I had never gotten to try Frosted Krispies.

Then I grew up and got married, and the Cat Daddy joined the Air Force and we started moving around the country every few years, and the Cat Daddy's dreams came true when we came upon his childhood grief cereals: Count Chocula, Boo-Berry, and Frankenberry. We showed great adult restraint and did not buy them all at once, but over time we did buy them, and the Cat Daddy consumed them with wild abandon, and was very pleased indeed. And my little pocket of grief was triggered by the fact that, while the Cat Daddy's cereals were very cool and hip, they were not Frosted Krispies, and Frosted Krispies were still discontinued, and I was likely doomed to live life with this unrealized, sugary dream.

Well, somehow and somewhere along the line, Frosted Krispies showed up on the shelves of our tiny little commissary here in Cheyenne WY. And I showed great adult restraint and didn't buy them for a long time. But last week I was standing there, thinking, "Skerrib, if you really, really want to try Frosted Krispies you had better take advantage while you can. You don't know how long they are here." I had already chosen some Frosted Flakes for the rest of the family, so I grabbed a box of Frosted Krispies as well.

Now I don't know if it's just me, or if this happens to other people, but I had a moment of foreshadowing where I thought, "Skerrib, all 'frosted' means is 'sugared.' They are just going to taste like Rice Krispies with sugar on them, which is what your parents did for you as a kid anyway. This whole time, you weren't missing anything. Just so you know." But I then thought that, even if that were true, at least I would know for sure. Plus I also reasoned that even though Frosted Flakes are corn flakes with sugar on them, somehow they are better than just putting sugar on corn flakes, so maybe that would be the case with Frosted Krispies as well. Somehow I knew that was a bunch of crap though--I knew that my wiser, inner self was right. But still I had to find out for sure.

And guess what? Now I know for sure that I really wasn't missing anything. Frosted Krispies taste exactly how I imagined in that little moment of foreshadowed clarity in the store. They taste like Rice Krispies with sugar on them. Sadly, I would even rank them over with the Cocoa Puffs and Golden Grahams. Maybe, like one notch better than those, but not much at all.

Of course since I'm the parent, now it's my job to finish the box, much like my dad did several years ago. It is the burden I now bear...

Apr 12, 2011

Connecting Folks Since 1977 (or so)...

So, I'm the introspective type. Much of the time I think this is a strength. I like to process, and be as healthy--and as awesomely-awesome--as I can be, and all that. Sometimes of course, I over-think, which triggers my neuroses and contributes to panic, and probably makes me a little narcissistic. But whatever.

For me, what it comes down to is figuring out who I am and where I fit into the mix. I like to belong, and I like to know what I'm good at, and more importantly, I like to be aware of the things we should never, ever, put Skerrib in charge of (so far this list includes scrapbooking conventions, spa nights, telephone parties, and the knitting of garments).

Growing up as a church-kid, one of the things I got into was spiritual gift assessments. You know, the quizzes where you try desperately not to come up with the spiritual gift of service, because then you'll be stuck doing dishes and emptying trash & stuff, when you really want to be up front giving the entire congregation what-for, and foretelling churchwide plagues, and whatnot. Or maybe that's just me. The thing about spiritual gifts (or any) assessments is that they can get stupid quickly. I constantly over-thought the quizzes and came up with such varied results that, depending on the test, I had pretty much every gift (except mercy--that is one I will never be accused of having).

Well, after several years I stopped taking the assessments, and starting telling people I had the spiritual gift of "hanging out." Which sounds like a cop-out, but when it comes down to it, that's what I'm good at. I'm not huge into entertaining, per se, but I do enjoy having people over for informal meals and just talking, playing games, or whatever. Some of my favorite times with friends have been days spent running errands together. I enjoy being someone around whom people can feel free to be themselves (and I have since discovered that I'm probably some combination of teacher-pastor-administrator, but I'm still fairly adamant about the whole hanging-out thing).

Adding to this conundrum is the fact that God seems to have determined that I am someone who--for the time being anyway--moves every few years. So I am in & out of communities. I enjoy forming deep relationships but don't have the benefit of lots of time to form them. So I jump in where I can, and do what I can while I can before it's on to the next place. Which is a bummer in that I start over a lot, and therefore feel like I'm repeating myself all the time and going "Have I told you this before?"

Well, recently I read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point describes the spot where mere fads become phenomena. Like how the entire nation becomes obsessed with a particular purse brand, or how suddenly everyone is taking swing dancing lessons, or entire school districts suddenly have to make a policy to regulate Pokemon cards.

As it turns out, the secret is less about the fads themselves and more about the people promoting them. Gladwell describes three main people who help spread fads: Mavens, Salespeople, and Connectors. Salespeople are fairly self-explanatory, and I forget what Mavens are, but Connectors are what caught my eye. Connectors have a foot in lots of different worlds, and have a way of, well, connecting people who wouldn't otherwise go together.

And it so happens that I am a connector. As far as skills and such go, I'm much more of a generalist than a specialist. I've tried about a zillion different things in my life, but have "stuck" with very few. I like knowing a little bit about a lot of things. Even in recent years as I have had to narrow my scope, I still keep a toe in several regions, if not worlds. And few things make me happier than seeing others make connections. So it totally makes sense that I am one to use my experiences in different places and with (fairly-vastly) different things to bring people together who might not meet otherwise. In other words, I like using my powers for good.

I'm not saying this is my entire identity or anything, but it helps complete the picture for me, and that makes me happy. Now, go get coffee with a friend, or meet someone new and surprising, or something. Tell 'em Skerrib sent you...