Two women seeking equality in a state where some couples are more equal than others.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eff Your Beauty Standards: Wearing a Bathing Suit

I know I almost never post photos. Why? Mostly because I'm lazy, although a little because I want my writing to speak for itself.

I'm posting one here, although not the one I initially planned to. The initial picture was a full body photo of me in a bikini - looking and feeling pretty good. I was at a private pool with just Rebecca, who has of course - stop reading if you pretend gay people have no genitalia and don't have sex - seen more.

I've never let anyone, not even Rebecca, photograph me in a bikini before. There are a few photos around of me in a tankini that covers my midsection. The truth is that part of me has always felt like I didn't look good enough to wear a bikini, even though I'm a perfectly healthy weight and more or less have a normal, idealish body type (okay, I'd have to tone up before working as a model, but I look good for someone who doesn't make a living off my looks). The other part of me was trained, for many years, to believe that despite how non-skinny I was, or how small my breasts are, or how fair my skin is, or whatever other attributes don't fit current beauty standards, wearing a bikini or sharing pictures of me in one was a horrible temptation to the men around me, who would be incapable of keeping themselves from lusting after my basically naked body. In fact, the only reason to wear a bikini was for this kind of attention.

That isn't why I'm wearing this swimsuit. How could it be, when there was no one around? No, there's a completely different explanation. I was soaking up the fresh air and sunshine (don't worry; I was liberally doused head to toe in spray sunscreen, because I'm a sunscreen goddess). After months of winter and wearing heavy clothes, layers, restricting garments, it felt amazing to feel nature on my skin without pain or cold.

And I've been reading on modesty, fatphobia, disordered eating, and beauty standards. I've even talked to male friends, who have assured me that they find a range of body types attractive, aren't as judgmental as women think, and are capable of self control. Although this really isn't about them - I am not for them - these are points worth mentioning. 

So then why not the whole body picture? Because I believe that along with #effyourbeautystandards should come #humannotobject and this picture conveys how joyful I felt. This one leaves no room, at least in my eyes, for you to tell me that I look good, or sexy, or have jiggly thighs and need to squat, or that I should really try a new shave lotion. I don't, in this picture, ask for your evaluation of my body. Mine. My body in this picture is doing what I needed it to, which in this case was rest and pick up vitamin D. I don't want to cause friends to stumble if they've been socialized to react differently to pictures of women in bikinis. That's definitely not the goal of Committinginthemitten or this post. But after the reaction to my post on my philosophy of food, I think many of my sisters in Christ, or in humanity, and probably some brothers too, need to hear this - and see it.

So here it is: your body is yours, and if it does what you want it to, if it loves you and allows you to love, and you have a joyful existence, then it's how it's meant to be. And it's okay to share that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

MI Love/Hate: Winter

I have been a very bad blogger lately. Or really, I just haven't. I apologize to any readers who might have been saddened by my lack of posts. I've been working pretty crazy hours trying to get all of my students ready for their upcoming ACT (plus a couple preparing for the GRE). The last several days have been prioritizing/survival mode.

But I have a moment now, and I want to share with you something that probably won't surprise most of the Michiganders.

I have a love/hate relationship with winter. As someone with a pretty significant case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (where shorter days and lack of sunlight cause mood changes), fall and winter are seasons I dread. However, this year I'm taking a vitamin D supplement, and it has really helped with that. Feeling better in that area has allowed me to reflect on my other feelings about winter.

I love falling snow - if I don't have to be out in it, or even if I'm not going very far in the car. I love the fat, lazy snowflakes, and even the clustered, chunky ones that seems to coat the air with their heaviness. I even love the snow showers and dustings - lately I've found a certain amount of pleasure in my gut feelings about what type of snow we'll have and how much. I find it zen to stare off into them and appreciate how they will cover the greyness and muck in a blanket of soft purity, at least for a few hours. I like the cooler nights where I can sleep with a mountain of blankets and a cat behind my knees without overheating. Sometimes I even like the days that are cool or cold but sunny; something about the juxtaposition pleases me.

And then there are days. I hate driving in snow. Michiganders should know better how to manage slippery roads. They just don't, and Detroit drivers aren't great to begin with (although many of you will say that Boston or DC is worse, those places have reasonable mass transit that offers an alternative, and as such are disqualified). I hate the muck that comes when we haven't had new snow to cover it, and the ice that causes so many of us to slip awkwardly. I hate the days when the wind sears or the temperatures are so low that no matter how well I dress for the weather, the air burns my nose, throat, and lungs. I hate the gloominess, being stuck inside so much, and worrying that my checks will be reduced because of snow cancellations.

In the end, I am mostly thankful for winter. It reminds me that I have strength, and it gives me something to look forward to. In a month or so, my spring bulbs will (hopefully) start to poke their ways out of my patio pots, the sun will come out more often, and the air will freshen up. It will be April before I know it, a time to scheme to visit the Horticultural Gardens at MSU, the Detroit Zoo, even just the tiny park up the street from my apartment. Soon, and very soon, it will be time for asparagus and spring greens, followed by strawberries and then a whole host of other fruits and vegetables. And maybe even an announcement that my marriage does count, after all, in the state my heart belongs to.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Food Idea: Citrus Muffin Base

I'm not going to call these healthy. Or low fat. Or low sugar. For a few reasons. The first is that as Americans, almost all of us are eating more refined carbs than we should, and these still contain some of those. The second is that if I did that, some of you (that haven't eaten my food, known me as long, or tried out my strategies) might think that you'd be able to tell the difference between these and "regular" muffins. You might. Maybe. And I'm guessing most of you would prefer mine.

They're a little more work; I'm not going to lie. But I actually have written numbers of everything, and I'll try to give good directions for those of you trying to learn to cook/bake who are intimidated by my lackadaisical attitude toward measurement. They also may contain a few ingredients that aren't currently staples in your pantry. For me, that used to be the ground flaxseed. Flax is incredibly good for you - a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, for starters, and it lends nuttiness and lightness to a lot of baked goods.

I've adapted this recipe from something my mother used to make (which I loved, but thought could still be bumped up a little in terms of nutrition). The original is cranberry citrus, which may explain the full cup of sugar. I've cut that down a lot.  You could try further reducing it or experimenting with molasses or honey if you like. It was already a half whole wheat flour recipe, but I've cut out all white flour - while retaining the fluffy, nice crumb texture that I loved from the original. The ground flax helped me get away with that (you may want to try this in pancakes, biscuits, and other baked goods, too).

Whisk together:

1/3 c sugar
¾ c milk (I use unsweetened almond or coconut, but I think whatever is fine)
1/3 c ricotta or yogurt (if all you have is sweetened yogurt, cut back on the sugar a little here)
2 T grated orange or lemon rind (this should help you get away without as much sugar - you can use half of each, also)
½ c orange or lemon juice (not only does this moisten, the acidity from the juice will curdle your milk a little, which here is actually good. It'll help lighten your batter.)

Add 3/4 c oatmeal and let soak. 

(Soaking the oatmeal will soften it a little so that your muffins aren't grainy/chewy if you want a cake-like texture.)

Whisk into wet ingredients:

2 T veg oil
1 T vanilla
1 t almond extract
2 eggs


Sift (yes, sift. Since we're using denser dry ingredients, we need to aerate them more to get the same texture.) and whisk dry ingredients in separate bowl:


0.25 c ground flaxseed
1.5 c whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt

Fold in gently to dry ingredients, if desired:

1.5 c cranberries (or blueberries, or appropriate amount of mini chocolate chips - I like the minis because they distribute more evenly, disrupting the structural integrity of the cake less and giving more chocolate flavor with a smaller amount)

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add in the wet ingredients. Stir, using a spoon or spatula (no more whisking!) these just until everything is incorporated - by adding the flax and oatmeal, we've reduced the total amount of gluten in this recipe (although it isn't, of course, gluten free), and we don't want it to start breaking down because we've overworked the batter. Don't worry if there are a few lumps.

Bake in greased muffin cups, mini bundt pans, or regular pan. I like Nordic Ware pans because they distribute the heat super evenly, and my oven doesn't, but use whatever you have.  I'm not a fan of paper muffin cups for a number of reasons - I have to purchase them and keep them around, for one. They're not very environmentally friendly, either. But mostly, I hate it when my muffins stick to them, which seems to happen a lot with fruit muffins.

I scoop into my muffin pans with an ice cream scoop that has a lever release on it - it's quicker and keeps them all pretty much the same size, which means that they'll bake more evenly.

If your oven shows more love to one side or the other, rotate the pans halfway through.

For regular muffins, bake 16 minutes at 400 degrees F. You'll need to bake longer the bigger the cup/pan, generally, although my Nordic Ware mini bundt pan is essentially a double muffin size and still cooks in 18 minutes (I'm going to see if I can get away with a touch less next time). When done, they should be golden on top and toothpick inserted middle should come out clean.

After a couple minutes, gently loosen the edges with a thin knife and transfer to a wire rack if you have it (I don't, so I just leave them on a plate). If you leave them in a hot pan, they'll continue to cook in there and could end up more done than you want.

I'm not sure how long these will keep on the counter; especially if you add cranberries or blueberries, I would either eat them within a couple days or keep them in a cool place.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

MI Hate: Receiving E-mails from a Homophobic Governor

You all know that I try to be rational and see multiple points of view. I try to share my story rather than quote statistics. I try to engage in discussion. However, I'm tired and frustrated, and I've been listening to "Brave" by Sara Bareilles on loop ("I wonder what would happen if you say what you want to say, and let the words fall out; honestly, I want to see you be brave!"). In other words, I use the "MI hate" label pretty sparingly these days, but it's time.
 
Nonetheless, this is a message that I just sent to Governor Snyder as well as several Michigan legislators, the Secretary of State (Ruth Johnson), and the Attorney General (Bill Schuette). I encourage you to send your legislators and other leaders this message or a similar one.
 
Hello Governor Snyder,

I am again responding to a message from you. While I am aware that I could unsubscribe myself, I wish for your office to be inconvenienced in a small way, since your blatant regard for civil rights has greatly inconvenienced me, my family, and the community to which I belong. Therefore, I am requesting that you direct whoever manages your subscription list to remove me from it and issue me an apology for rubbing in my face that you and your family have many privileges afforded to you that I cannot expect.
For instance, a member of my community's long term same sex partner was recently hospitalized. Although this community member works for the Henry Ford Health System, has insurance through them, and has set up care for her family there, where the administration and staff are LGBT friendly and do not discriminate or deny basic human rights, nonetheless, her partner recently had a health emergency and ended up at St. John Providence, a Catholic hospital. Under Michigan law, Catholic hospitals can and do discriminate against LGBT families. In this case, the partner was in the ICU and unable to make her own care decisions, but her spouse was denied ability to make decisions for her on the basis of their status as a same sex couple. Instead, the mother of the patient was contacted, despite not being aware of a great deal of her daughter's medical history, and refused to let the spouse make decisions. I had been assured by Michigan Republicans, over and over, that the need to pass statewide legislation against this type of discrimination is nonexistent because it doesn't happen. However, it clearly has. This is unacceptable. Religious institutions serving people not of their community - as is the case with hospitals - should not be permitted to enforce their religious rules on non members of that religion; if they do so, they should be stripped of accreditation and state funding, not protected by "right to discriminate" laws put forth by members of your political party. Waffling on providing these basic rights is unacceptable. Refusing to provide leadership to Michigan's government to pass protections that should already exist in a progressive, supportive, business-friendly, family-friendly state is unacceptable. Allowing the Christian equivalent of sharia law is unacceptable. Putting families already under a great deal of stress due to medical emergencies under additional stress by preventing them from making care decisions is unacceptable. You may argue that this family could have attempted to take additional steps to protect themselves by going out of state to marry or hiring a lawyer to fill out paperwork, but the truth is that you would never tell a straight couple to do this, and as such are recognizing that straight families have privileges that same sex ones do not.
Furthermore, with Michigan's same sex marriage case continuing to pend Supreme Court review, my partner and I will be unable to accurately file our taxes this year in a timely fashion or possibly at all, because constitutionally, some judges have affirmed our status as a married family and others have not. This could necessitate calculating our taxes jointly for federal (since we're married according to California and 30 something other states) and separately for our home state where we have chosen to remain on the misguided notion that by now, this would be resolved. Once the case is resolved and the ruling states that our marriage should be recognized, as the vast majority of precedent, and all Supreme Court precedent indicates, we will then have to file again for a revision. It is my understanding that we will in no way be compensated for this major inconvenience, despite the fact that I will face the opportunity cost of spending quality time with my medical resident wife who works 80 hour weeks or of performing work for which I would be compensated at an hourly rate, or the loss of interest on our tax return that will result. I once again urge you to direct Bill Schuette to drop this appeal, stop wasting state funds, and join the civilized world.
You could also direct Ruth Johnson to train her employees to stop discriminating against same sex couples who wish to change their identification based on a marriage name change from out of state, as they are doing to my wife and me. I have been assured by her office that everyone is aware that this discrimination is happening, but I inform those who ask for state-issued identification confirmation with my financial transactions (my financial institutions, employer, and the federal government use my married name) of this discrimination, and they are unaware. To date, no one has told me that this policy is reasonable. This is not only discrimination against me, it is a snub against the legal system in California that issued me a legal marriage certificate expected to be recognized in other states, just as ALL straight marriage certificates across the country are, regardless of whether laws against marrying cousins, required waiting periods, blood tests, etc are reciprocated. I was even told that your Secretary of State was willing to issue me an invalid enhanced driver's license that could cause me to get stuck in another country because it didn't match my federal information. Your Secretary of State has also issued the incorrect information that once I changed my name with Social Security, I could change it back on the basis of Michigan's discriminatory policy. While I do not wish to do so, given the lifetime limit on the number of Social Security cards that may be issued to an individual and the likelihood of having to change it back once your discriminatory policies are corrected, I verified this possibility. Social Security indicated that without an additional legal document, such as a divorce certificate (which, by the way, I cannot obtain given your policies), the Social Security office doesn't allow this. This policy has caused my partner and I to waste countless hours looking for alternatives (we cannot file with the county to legally change our names through the courts because we've relocated too many times in the last few years, and that costs extra time and money anyway, reinforcing our status as second class citizens) and worrying what could happen. Ask your wife how frustrating it has been for her and her friends to change their names after marriage. Multiply that by 1,000. That's my situation.

When I saw that you had been re-elected, it was as though I was seeing that we had re-elected one of the Southern governors who refused to integrate school districts or proceed with any other civil rights issues. History is likely to judge you for that, much as we now judge all of them. You could choose to make the morally and ethically, not to mention financially, correct choice to right these wrongs, and you have not.
Respectfully,
Erin

MI Hate: Receiving E-mails from a Homophobic Governor

You all know that I try to be rational and see multiple points of view. I try to share my story rather than quote statistics. I try to engage in discussion. However, I'm tired and frustrated, and I've been listening to "Brave" by Sara Bareilles on loop ("I wonder what would happen if you say what you want to say, and let the words fall out; honestly, I want to see you be brave!"). In other words, I use the "MI hate" label pretty sparingly these days, but it's time.
 
Nonetheless, this is a message that I just sent to Governor Snyder as well as several Michigan legislators, the Secretary of State (Ruth Johnson), and the Attorney General (Bill Schuette). I encourage you to send your legislators and other leaders this message or a similar one.
 
Hello Governor Snyder,

I am again responding to a message from you. While I am aware that I could unsubscribe myself, I wish for your office to be inconvenienced in a small way, since your blatant regard for civil rights has greatly inconvenienced me, my family, and the community to which I belong. Therefore, I am requesting that you direct whoever manages your subscription list to remove me from it and issue me an apology for rubbing in my face that you and your family have many privileges afforded to you that I cannot expect.
For instance, a member of my community's long term same sex partner was recently hospitalized. Although this community member works for the Henry Ford Health System, has insurance through them, and has set up care for her family there, where the administration and staff are LGBT friendly and do not discriminate or deny basic human rights, nonetheless, her partner recently had a health emergency and ended up at St. John Providence, a Catholic hospital. Under Michigan law, Catholic hospitals can and do discriminate against LGBT families. In this case, the partner was in the ICU and unable to make her own care decisions, but her spouse was denied ability to make decisions for her on the basis of their status as a same sex couple. Instead, the mother of the patient was contacted, despite not being aware of a great deal of her daughter's medical history, and refused to let the spouse make decisions. I had been assured by Michigan Republicans, over and over, that the need to pass statewide legislation against this type of discrimination is nonexistent because it doesn't happen. However, it clearly has. This is unacceptable. Religious institutions serving people not of their community - as is the case with hospitals - should not be permitted to enforce their religious rules on non members of that religion; if they do so, they should be stripped of accreditation and state funding, not protected by "right to discriminate" laws put forth by members of your political party. Waffling on providing these basic rights is unacceptable. Refusing to provide leadership to Michigan's government to pass protections that should already exist in a progressive, supportive, business-friendly, family-friendly state is unacceptable. Allowing the Christian equivalent of sharia law is unacceptable. Putting families already under a great deal of stress due to medical emergencies under additional stress by preventing them from making care decisions is unacceptable. You may argue that this family could have attempted to take additional steps to protect themselves by going out of state to marry or hiring a lawyer to fill out paperwork, but the truth is that you would never tell a straight couple to do this, and as such are recognizing that straight families have privileges that same sex ones do not.
Furthermore, with Michigan's same sex marriage case continuing to pend Supreme Court review, my partner and I will be unable to accurately file our taxes this year in a timely fashion or possibly at all, because constitutionally, some judges have affirmed our status as a married family and others have not. This could necessitate calculating our taxes jointly for federal (since we're married according to California and 30 something other states) and separately for our home state where we have chosen to remain on the misguided notion that by now, this would be resolved. Once the case is resolved and the ruling states that our marriage should be recognized, as the vast majority of precedent, and all Supreme Court precedent indicates, we will then have to file again for a revision. It is my understanding that we will in no way be compensated for this major inconvenience, despite the fact that I will face the opportunity cost of spending quality time with my medical resident wife who works 80 hour weeks or of performing work for which I would be compensated at an hourly rate, or the loss of interest on our tax return that will result. I once again urge you to direct Bill Schuette to drop this appeal, stop wasting state funds, and join the civilized world.
You could also direct Ruth Johnson to train her employees to stop discriminating against same sex couples who wish to change their identification based on a marriage name change from out of state, as they are doing to my wife and me. I have been assured by her office that everyone is aware that this discrimination is happening, but I inform those who ask for state-issued identification confirmation with my financial transactions (my financial institutions, employer, and the federal government use my married name) of this discrimination, and they are unaware. To date, no one has told me that this policy is reasonable. This is not only discrimination against me, it is a snub against the legal system in California that issued me a legal marriage certificate expected to be recognized in other states, just as ALL straight marriage certificates across the country are, regardless of whether laws against marrying cousins, required waiting periods, blood tests, etc are reciprocated. I was even told that your Secretary of State was willing to issue me an invalid enhanced driver's license that could cause me to get stuck in another country because it didn't match my federal information. Your Secretary of State has also issued the incorrect information that once I changed my name with Social Security, I could change it back on the basis of Michigan's discriminatory policy. While I do not wish to do so, given the lifetime limit on the number of Social Security cards that may be issued to an individual and the likelihood of having to change it back once your discriminatory policies are corrected, I verified this possibility. Social Security indicated that without an additional legal document, such as a divorce certificate (which, by the way, I cannot obtain given your policies), the Social Security office doesn't allow this. This policy has caused my partner and I to waste countless hours looking for alternatives (we cannot file with the county to legally change our names through the courts because we've relocated too many times in the last few years, and that costs extra time and money anyway, reinforcing our status as second class citizens) and worrying what could happen. Ask your wife how frustrating it has been for her and her friends to change their names after marriage. Multiply that by 1,000. That's my situation.

When I saw that you had been re-elected, it was as though I was seeing that we had re-elected one of the Southern governors who refused to integrate school districts or proceed with any other civil rights issues. History is likely to judge you for that, much as we now judge all of them. You could choose to make the morally and ethically, not to mention financially, correct choice to right these wrongs, and you have not.
Respectfully,
Erin

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Philosophy of Food

I've posted a lot of ideas for food here. There are also posts about vegetarian substitutions, what I think about restrictive diets and feeding friends who follow them, and events I've hosted.

In undergrad and my MA, I was required to write my teaching philosophy as a class assignment. That would probably be a good idea to do again - or maybe not, since I'm guessing my cynicism is showing. I thought it might be helpful, at the beginning of the year, at a time when I'm working to get as healthy and whole as I can, to write my food philosophy. And then I thought, "Why not share that with all of you?"

A little background, first, on the assumptions about food I grew up with. My upbringing was very WASPy. White, part British, part French, part American mutt. Very Baptist, with encouragement of gender roles, including girls needing to get married and being pushed into being stay at home moms, or at least choosing careers that work well for having children (nothing wrong with that, but operating under the assumption that it's the best thing for every woman can create some issues). And much of Western thought, particularly Protestant thought, is actually based on Platonic dualism. My upbringing wasn't an exception.

What is Platonic dualism? In essence, it's the belief that the body is separate from the mind or the spirit, and that the body represents our base nature. Our bodies must do the same things as animals - eat, sleep, have sex, eliminate waste. Our minds and spirits can transcend animals to speak, reason, create, etc.

Combine that with the notion that women gain value from marriage, and suddenly looking attractive becomes really important, while food becomes less so. In modern Western culture, looking attractive, classy, educated, etc, is partially signaled by being skinny. Really skinny. I was convinced by the powers that be that it was my job to be attractive for my future spouse, and that he would want me to be a size 4. Occasionally, it was implied that even under 130 pounds and 5'7" or so, I needed to lose weight. Ironically, I also remember being told that my breasts were too small for most men (I have since learned that the body types preferred by men are as varied as the people who exist on this planet, thankfully. I will forever be grateful to the men who explained this to me.). While some of these things might sound extreme articulated this way, and some of this may indeed be more extreme than normal, I wouldn't be surprised to find that a vast majority of women have heard things like this.

This resulted in me operating, for a while, in a system where eating was bad; we did it because we had to, but calories of any kind were really the enemy. Fat calories were the worst because they made you the fattest. Being hungry and tired became so much part of my existence that I didn't even realize it was possible not to feel that way. I didn't have an eating disorder, if you look at the requirements. But my eating habits weren't exceptionally "ordered" either. Sometimes, even into the year after I graduated from college, I would binge eat secretly, not realizing that it was partially because I was hungry and probably short on nutrients. Then I would feel terrible, both because I never binged on things that were good for me and because I thought I was a terrible person for . . . being hungry. Eating. Enjoying food. Enjoying junk food.

During my MA, when I became more financially independent and Rebecca and I were finally living together as a couple, we started talking about these things. At some point, I realized that calories weren't the enemy - they gave me the energy that I needed to think, move, and enjoy life. I also learned that buying bigger pants really wasn't the end of the world and that someone could love me even if my BMI was higher than 17. I stopped viewing certain foods as "the worst" and started paying attention to food I liked, flavors that pleased me, the way I felt after I ate.

Going into the second year of my MA, I ended up with gastritis. The exact cause is unknown, but it was likely a combination of the meds I was taking and some sleep cycle issues, possibly combined with blood sugar fluctuations. In any case, I was nauseated. A lot. I dropped a lot of weight. Many of my clothes didn't fit. I struggled to have enough energy. I also had a weird psychological thing many days where only certain foods sounded good enough to eat, because I had almost no appetite. I lived on simple carbs a lot of the time in an effort to get something through my system and absorbed.

And more than one person told me that I "looked great." Yes, my tummy was flat. Yes, the size 4 pants finally fit. Yes, I could wear sheath dresses and a bathing suit and all of the things I'd always believed I was too big for. But I was miserable. I was tired all of the time. I went through a phase where I was dizzy, and my head was foggy (which was from things in addition to nutrition, but it didn't help matters).

I don't know when I heard this. Maybe much longer ago than I believed it. But someone told me that if I couldn't find joy at 150 pounds, I wouldn't have joy at 125, either. 
That person was right.

I couldn't tell you exactly when it happened. But I decided to change my whole philosophy of food. So here it is:

I was created with a need to eat food so that I can do what I'm called to do, which is to love God and other humans. Food provides me with energy and nutrients that allow my body to function at its best (or worst) depending on the choices that I make. My body will tell me if I'm doing a good job if I listen to it. Therefore, I won't judge foods based on what others tell me. I won't ban certain foods. Instead, I will focus on eating foods that provide the nutrients that my body needs, prepared in ways that I enjoy. I won't stop eating if I'm still hungry, and I will work to stop eating when I'm full, not out of a sense of guilt or shame, but because my body feels the best when I do. When my body feels its best, my mind will work better, and I'll be more prepared to love people.

If you're looking to get skinny on this philosophy, stop. I can't say that I'm skinnier now than I've ever been, or that I look more like a runway model. I can say that I have more energy, that my skin has started to clear up, and I care less what the number on a clothing tag says (okay, still working on that one, but I did buy a bigger size today without a meltdown). I can also tell you that it is immensely empowering to know that I'm doing things that are good for me - that this is my body, and I can choose what happens to it.

Do you have a food philosophy? I think most people do, whether they've thought about it or not. What's yours?

Food Idea: Homemade Oatmeal

Rebecca loves oatmeal. Last year, we went through a lot of instant packets. For the last few months, Rebecca has been trying to get healthy, slim down, be more active, increase energy, and reduce inflammation. 

Enter the breakfast makeover. I eat a lot of eggs for breakfast, but she felt that was too heavy for her and wanted to keep complex carbs as part of her morning. I decided to attempt homemade oatmeal that would still have a light feel and a little sweetness, but would pack more protein, fiber, and nutrients.

I've succeeded, apparently. I didn't get to making oatmeal ahead for her for yesterday (didn't get through my gay agenda), so she ended up eating instant again. She told me that she noticed that she was hungry much sooner and had less energy (not so good when you're working a 12 hour shift and might not get lunch because lives hang in the balance).

I don't have a recipe exactly- my regular readers know that by now. But I'll share my method and principles so you can try.

You'll need fruit (or possibly vegetables if you're daring- I should have a go at a carrot cake version) that won't curdle milk (so avoid citrus and anything else acidic). You also need some form of milk. I think dairy milk is fine, but Rebecca is sensitive to dairy, so I usually use cashew, almond, or coconut milk. Obviously, you'll need some form of oatmeal. Rebecca prefers quick oats, but you can use rolled if you like that texture. I don't know about steel cut, so if you try this, let me know how it goes. Lastly, you need spices and dried fruit. I've used dried cranberries, figs, mango, and candied ginger. I also love cinnamon, vanilla, almond extract, nutmeg, cardamom, and even chili powder. Warming spices boost metabolism and curb appetite, and ginger has anti-inflammatory effects. All of these things will also trick your palate into believing there is more sugar than there is.

If you're using apples, I like to start them sautéing while I dice the dried fruit and candied ginger (if you use dried cherries or cranberries you can leave them whole). If you're using mashed  banana or pumpkin purée, you can add this with the milk.

Once the apples are soft, if you're using them, add the milk. You want about twice as much liquid as oatmeal, so take your fruit into account if you're using mashed banana or pumpkin purée. Add the dried fruit so that it can soften a little and flavor the liquid. Also add your spices to taste. Bring your liquid to a boil, and then add your oatmeal and cook according to package directions or however you prefer.

We tend to keep a big batch in the fridge for Rebecca to microwave, since leaving the house at 5:15 makes it tricky to get done in the morning.

This is part of Rebecca's "happy, healthy, wise" push. We don't believe that eating well has to sacrifice taste. I especially believe that feeling better is the best incentive for eating better.