More…..about scars on the human body

images-55Nikki wrote me about my last blog post. She said she was pondering the scar conversation we had, and about how scars point to some other things:

She said, isn’t it amazing how the autonomic nervous system does things like breathing, creating white blood cells to fight infection, starting self-healing processes immediately upon being wounded.  We don’t have to think about these processes or fill out forms to get them done.  Or even will it.

Nikki reminded me of the conversation we had with Doug and Andrea, who manufacture our protein powder in San Diego. We’d just had lunch with them. Doug was telling us how, as a nutrition aficionado, he points out to all his friends and co-workers that what they’re eating is going to kill them. I told him that I haven’t ever commented on what somebody is eating—and gave him some heck: “So have you been wondering why you eat alone a lot?”

images-56We soapboxed, preached to the choir, talked about our astonishment not that people die of heart disease or cancer—but that most of us are still walking around at all. Nikki said: how marvelous the coping mechanism is of the body! We fuel it with crap, we don’t give it enough rest, we subject it to stress and pollution, alcohol, and . . . it copes.  It extracts what it can use, it filters the bad stuff, it shifts energy to areas of immediate need, and just. keeps. going.

What a gift it is to interface with the world in such a sophisticated organism, Nikki says to me. I agree. Sometimes I’m on my knees with awe, that God keeps letting us do this.

And isn’t it cool, she says, the way that scars heal from injury with skin that is tougher.  We won’t get hair or sweat glands on a scar, but that place of thickened skin is also less susceptible to re-injury. Isn’t it interesting how muscles can’t grow unless they are torn first, but the result is a larger, stronger muscle.

Nikki and Kristin and I were raised in a religious tradition that believes we are resurrected, on the other side of death, in perfected bodies. About that, Nikki says to me,

“I was thinking about perfected bodies, and I wonder which version of me is ‘perfect.’  I don’t even know what my real hair color is.”

images-47Kristin (who happens to be Nikki’s sister) joins the conversation saying, this makes me think about the metaphysical life scars we carry with us, too. The bad stuff that happens to us. “If they were manifest on our bodies,” she says, “some of us might walk around looking like a disfigured burn victim. I’ve got to learn to love those scars, too.”

And she suggests that all the GSG employees undertake a Post-It Love Bomb Campaign in public bathrooms everywhere. I’m in.

Let’s work on this. Adoring our scarred selves. Let’s be a work in progress, emphasis on “progress.’

(p.s. Aren’t I lucky that I get to work with people so thoughtful and intuitive and funny?)

I’m buying some Post-It Notes.

And what to do about SCARS?

On the long drive home from Tijuana to Utah earlier this month, I stopped at a McD’s because they have the cleanest bathrooms. And, well, because I’d drunk the 32 oz green juice I swerved off the freeway to get, at the Henderson Whole Foods Market.

images-48Inside the stall, a pink Post-It Note was taped to the door. It said,

“You are beautiful and unique, just the way you are!”

Who knew bathroom graffiti could make me cry? I was so moved that someone has the sweet mission of writing notes with Sharpies to help women love themselves better and posting them everywhere. And on top of it all, show the business owner the respect of not writing on the walls. Weird and cute and classy, all at the same time.

Nikki and I were in a San Diego hotel and had the sweetest conversation. Nikki is our product developer and my cancer research assistant. But she’s just been trained to run the Green Smoothie show when Kristin can’t come with me. (Kristin is burning out on my never-ending speaking tour–a lot of work for her!) Nikki worked alongside Kristin in St. George and Vegas, and then ran the show herself in Riverside and San Diego.

I told Nik about Cheryl and the wrinkles, which I blogged about yesterday. About how I decided at some point to shift some energy from self-loathing, to choosing to accept and love my body, my wrinkles, my flaws. How I figured out somewhere along the line that’s a better use of my energy.

Nikki said,

images-51“I’ve been thinking about scars lately.”

She showed me a prominent white scar on her arm and told me the story. Nikki was three years old, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother was talking to a friend, who also held her two-year old in her arms. For no discernible reason, the boy bent his head over and….bit into Nikki’s irresistibly luscious arm.

Nikki said, “If God perfects my body someday, I want Him to leave this scar. Some scars I don’t love as much, but this one I do.”

Nikki loves to scold the grown-up boy, Justin Holbrook, with proof of his toddler misdeed, when he comes to their mutual hometown of Burley, Idaho. And I imagine, as I said to her,

“Yeah, it’s a memory you have of your mama, too, right?”

Nikki’s mother died in a car accident when Nikki was only 7 years old.

I sit down on the hotel bed and show Nikki……The Worm. It’s a keloid scar on the back of my ankle. You know, those big, raised, white ones?

Obtaining the scar wasn’t particularly interesting. At my old house, I installed a screen door on my front porch so the kids could bang in and out. So I didn’t have to be Vigilante Mom, yelling about leaving the door open with the air conditioning on.

(My dad did that as I was growing up. He’d bellow, “I’M PAYING TO AIR CONDITION THE GREAT OUTDOORS!”)

One day, I’m barefoot, and the corner of that screen door caught me just wrong and slit two inches up the back of my heel. When you walk, your foot constantly flexes, so the thing didn’t heal. It would scab over, and then the simple act of walking would break the scab open. Many times.

Consequently, when it finally healed, it was a fat scar with an uncanny resemblance to an earthworm.

images-52So at church, or anywhere that we might be bored, when my kids were little, I’d say, “Oh no, LOOK! The worm is grooooowing!” I’d start with the scar as small as possible by Barbie-pointing my toes. Then I slowly flexed my foot so that the scar grew longer and longer and LONGER AND LONGER!!! “AAAAAH! BE VERY SCARED, THE WORM IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD!” I’d fake a panicked look, as if the worm was growing without me having any control over my foot.

It used to make my kids laugh when they were little. Now they roll their eyes at stuff like this, of course, because it really is stupid. But they thought it was great fun, once upon a time. Happy memories of ridiculously simple entertainment. Simpler times.

Nikki said, “Even Jesus, whose perfect life entitled him to a perfect, restored body, chose to keep his magnificent scars.” They are emblems of his experience, his grace.

Our scars show who we are, tell our own magnificent, quirky, unique story.

What, then, is “perfection?”

Maybe the lady with the Sharpie and the Post-It Notes has it right.

“You are beautiful and unique, just the way you are!”

What to do about WRINKLES?

images-43After yoga, when I’m rolling up my mat, seems like often a GSG reader comes over to chat. Tell me their green smoothie experience, ask what to do to help a friend struggling with health problems, ask me when the group buy ends. Stuff like that.

Recently, Cheryl, a 53-yo, very fit breast cancer survivor, had a new one:

Cheryl: What do you do about wrinkles?

Me: Ummm. How about, you love them?

Cheryl’s not buying it. She doesn’t want wrinkles apparently. She wants to be 53 but look 33. She tells me that it’s easy for me to say, because I don’t have them. (Yes I do, around my eyes—they show up when I laugh and smile. Which I will continue to do as much as possible.)

I point out to her that, first, I’m younger than she is. And second, while I play tennis and don’t use sunscreen, I don’t have a half-acre, award-winning yard in the summer, and work as Ski Patrol all winter, like she does. Both of which cause year-round high sun exposure here in the Rockies where we’re 4200 feet above sea level and the air is thin.

She won’t want to hear that I don’t have some magic product, except organic, extra-virgin coconut oil, which I slather all over my face at night. I love it. I want to make a big vat of it and roll around in it. Its healing properties aren’t just something I read about in a book. My family and I have experienced them, and I’ve heard from hundreds of readers about what high-quality medium-chain fatty acids do for them.

I say this:

images-45“What if you took all the energy you’re giving to fretting about it, and put it instead into reflecting on all the great stuff in your life that gave you those beautiful lines?”

I mean, at the end of the day, we live a healthy lifestyle (which Cheryl does), and then shouldn’t we enjoy being the age we are? 53 is awesome, if you can do a headstand in yoga like Cheryl can, and most of the 33-year olds wish they had her loveliness. With lines or not.

If a much younger guy flirts with me (cougar hunting is all the rage), I confess that I feel insecure. If tell him my age, I’ve had a dozen say, “Who cares? A beautiful woman is beautiful at any age.”

Why can’t we just OWN that? When we’re 63, we’re going to look back at 53 and wish we’d enjoyed how young and beautiful we were.

I think women with experience-lined faces are gorgeous. Sexy, pretty, beautiful, and cute, too. (My friend Tim says there are five types of attractive women—the ones I just listed. My friends and I play a game of slotting celebrities and people we know into those categories according to Tim’s definitions and examples.)

images-46What you’ve accomplished and experienced in your life is written on your face. Why is that a bad thing? Why do we inject dead botulism into our face to erase that? To flat-line all expression?

Use plenty of cold-pressed coconut oil on your skin. Your skin, and then your bloodstream, just eats it up. It’s skin food. But let’s embrace the much-maligned “fine lines and wrinkles.” We’ve earned them. They’re only a “bad” thing if we let them be. It’s all in the mind. How much control are you going to give popular culture, over your heart and mind?

Today, wrinkles. Tomorrow let’s talk about scars.

The Hunger Games, and “Being the Change”….part 1 of 3

Ben and I saw The Hunger Games recently. I’d resisted the national obsession with reading the books. Partly because, call me a snob, I didn’t want to read “kids’ books” with my precious, limited reading time. I’m a grownup, and I want grownup challenges from my cerebral functions. Partly because I feel terribly guilty if I read fiction—even on vacation, I invariably read one or more nutrition / health books.

But I was enthralled by the movie. Disturbing premise, but I was moved and fascinated by the two protagonists’ ability to navigate an unthinkably inhumane situation, with humanity and grace and compassion.

I was fascinated by the obvious reflections on our culture—hedonism, haute fashion, reality TV, grand disparities between rich and poor, movement towards government control and away from freedom—I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So I went home and took the first two books in the trilogy on our trip to Cancun, devoured them. If you’ve not read them or seen the movie, be warned. They are about a reality-TV series where a nation’s Capitol requires its outlying districts to select a boy and a girl by lottery, to go into an arena and fight, with a total of 24 children, to the death.

Right after I finished the first book, I received an email from one of my closest friends from college. Tryn and I were very studious, oldest-child-from-big-Mormon-families English majors. Both of us have continued as writers, and each raised four children—but she has been a homemaker.

The email attached her critique and analysis of The Hunger Games. The story is a dystopia, she says, Panem being of course a desperate, distorted, futuristic North America after much destruction, the capitol reorganized in the Rocky Mountains.

Of course it is. (I confess I’d never heard the word dystopia, but recognize in the Latin prefix that it means the opposite of a Utopia. What else besides a society that’s your worst nightmare, would choose children from a lottery to murder each other in an arena, for everyone’s television entertainment?)

How far are we from Panem’s Capitol’s nauseating excesses are we, really? We certainly have brutal, inhumane reality TV shows.

The cosmetic surgeries, pills, potions, obsession with spa treatments, fashion excesses of the Capitol—think Lady GaGa, and Madonna, Tryn points out.

And food! A society on the decline, Tryn states, is marked by its obsession with gourmet food. Look at our proliferation of restaurants. People eat in them more than they eat at home with their families now.

There is a heavy preoccupation with food in The Hunger Games trilogy—constant feasts for the “tributes” (those who are being prepared for the reality-show competition, to remind the districts that the Capitol will destroy any rebellion).  Even while most of the nation’s districts under the thumb of the totalitarian regime are starving to death.

More this week.

My quirky weight-loss strategies, part 2 of 3

I yo-yo like everybody else. (Women can gain and lose 4 lbs. in a week, simply from hormone changes within a cycle and accompanying water retention.) But I yo-yo within a 5-lb. variation. A year ago I dropped 7 lbs., and quickly, because of some stresses in my life. That is highly unusual, though.

I will tell you the things that work for me. Not that I think they’re the ONLY things, nor even that they’ll work for YOU. But they might help some people.

Have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point? Sometimes, I really believe, a very small shift in thinking, or a small shift in behavior, can put you over the tipping point. Perhaps a new little way of doing something could make a difference for you in managing your weight. Dropping whatever extra pounds you’re carrying, and staying there for life. That makes sense, since drinking one can of soda a day means a 15-lb. annual weight gain, or obesity within 2 years. On both the negative and positive ends, SMALL THINGS ARE BIG THINGS!

I’m going to record a free online event where I interview 30 Famous Skinny People and get their Healthy Weight Loss Tips. It will take a us a while to produce. If you know someone I should interview with a big name on the internet or anywhere else, who has great control over her weight and is rather verbal and articulate, write KRISTIN@GREENSMOOTHIEGIRL.COM.

My mom is my original inspiration when it comes to a woman who respects and values her body and limits weight fluctuations to a reasonable five pounds. (I know super-neurotic women who obsess, fret, tell everyone they know when they’re 2 lbs. over their “ideal” weight. This is, to me, not living a balanced life. Plus nobody likes you when you do that. Since almost everyone else is way more than 2 lbs. over their “ideal.”)

My mother isn’t a supermodel and has her flaws, was kind of your standard Mormon mom, except for one thing:   she was never overweight. As she was raising 8 kids, she did the basics: broke a sweat every day, and ate whole foods and very little processed food.  She did have her closet foods. With 8 kids, any “treat” food you buy is gonna be GONE.  She used to hide yogurt-covered almonds in her closet. (She wasn’t one of those super-human, uber-disciplined people none of us can relate to. Neither am I…I love chocolate!)

But, two really cool things. One, she never talked about not liking her body. Two, she didn’t change clothes endlessly and agonize over how she looked and denigrate herself with “I’m fat” comments.

Consequently, that stuff didn’t rub off on me. Until I was a teenager, I didn’t learn that part of what it means to be a girl, in this culture, is to put myself down and swing wildly from thin-to-fat, bingeing and dieting. (There was plenty of that to observe from my peers, in high school, college, and beyond.)

However, if my mom ate too much all day Sunday, on a fun family day, she ate strictly minimally and healthy the next day. If she ate too much for two days, she ate really well for 2 or more days until her weight was back to normal.

My mom didn’t “diet” and neither do I. So, here’s my first tip:

1. Get control before you’ve gained more than 5 lbs. If you keep thinking , “I’ll worry about this next spring,” or “I’ll go on a diet next month,” you are choosing to create a crisis rather than a mild, rather painless correction.

Five more tips, tomorrow.

Under the Big African Sky, last part

So many times, traveling in third-world countries, I find myself in bizarre situations, like being in the back of a tiny grocery store in rural Zambia and hearing David Cook and then Adam Lambert songs on the radio (American Idol contestants).

We went on a late-night safari and as Shari and I were sitting and looking for wild-game animals with floodlights, I said, “You thinking what I’m thinking?” Turns out we were both deciding, “What would I do if I were left out here all alone all night?” (Does the capacity of the human brain to think about completely inane subjects ever amaze you?)

We had a long debate only slightly less pointless than the one my kids had, driving across Nebraska a few years ago. I was amazed at how hot under the collar Cade and Emma got discussing, “Who is more famous, Akon or Gwen Stefani?”

Anyway, our consensus was that we’d climb a tree. And then if an elephant came along, we’d walk alongside him. (Trust me on this. It’s a good plan. We can defend our thesis. We know stuff, now that we’ve been to Africa.)

One time we were sitting waiting for the night-safari bus and our guide, Nick, Shari, and I had this convo as “Tiny Dancer” came on the radio and Shari didn’t know who recorded it:

Me: It’s Tina Turner. She’s gotta be pushing, what, like 70? And she has the most amazing body, still.

Shari: Thanks to a lot of plastic surgery, I’m sure.

Me: No, it’s her LEGS. They’re ridiculous. Did you see her on American Idol a couple years ago? Any 20-year old would love to have those legs. There’s no plastic surgery for great legs.

Shari: Whatever! Calf implants. Lipo. Cutting out the skin above the knee.

Me: Oh.

Nick (snorting): Geez. You Americans. That’s stupid. Just move your body around and eat salad.

Well, doesn’t that just sum it up. It’s such simple logic, you know. How much pain and agony and premature death could be avoided here in the First World if we all did that. (Around the world, by the way, women are far more natural–far less cosmetic surgery even in other First-World countries.)