The food problem

I didn’t understand a thing about addiction when I was a kid.  I mean, I had a concept of my mother’s alcoholism, because it was pretty obvious, what with bottles being around, and mom often being incapacitated.  I knew a couple of her brothers also had serious drug and alcohol problems, too.  I knew, but I didn’t really understand.  I saw the symptoms, but I didn’t get what they felt like.

There was this liquor store/market that was around the corner from our house, and it was closer than the 7/11 which was down on the corner of Mission Gorge Rd and Fanita Drive.  The man that ran the store was also the slumlord that rented the crappy little duplexes behind the store (which are still there, and still crappy–the landlord is long dead, though), and he did something the 7/11 wouldn’t have even thought about doing–he allowed my mother to run a tab.  This was especially convenient, because when my father was not working (masonry had its lulls), she could still get what she needed.  Sometimes it was groceries, but more often than not, it was very  cheap bottles of wine, and lots of them.  There were several occasions when the bottles were chosen over food, and we ended up eating eggs for dinner a few times when my dad was out of town working.

I was generally a pretty good kid, and accepted these circumstances as the way things were.  For all I knew, everyone had the same problems.  Which wouldn’t have necessarily been bad, but it taught me that food was way more important than it actually was.  When you had it, you really needed to pound it down, because you didn’t know if it was going to be there later.  Additionally, for as long as I could remember, food was how comfort was given in my house, rather than affection.  If I cried, or was hurt, or was rewarded for something I’d done, I would be given something to eat.  Maybe a larger portion at the dinner table, or some candy, or a soda.

That stuck with me my entire life, and I still struggle with it to this day.  Done something good?  I deserve a treat.  Feel crappy about something?  A nice big portion of something will make me feel better.  And it did.  It does.  It was a way to numb pain, much like alcohol would be for alcoholics.  Although since I’ve been aware of my family’s tendency to addiction, I’ve tried to avoid regular consumption of alcohol.  Doesn’t always work, because when I do indulge, I binge like a maniac.

I do the same with food.  I don’t exhibit a lot of the behavior that food addicts do, so I convinced myself I wasn’t one for the longest time.  I don’t eat in secret.  I don’t often eat when I’m not hungry (but when I am hungry, I eat way, way more than I should).  I don’t eat many dessert-type foods (or I try not to, but when they’re around, I binge!).  So I don’t often make them. 

My problem, I think, is that I struggle doing anything in moderation–whether it be drinking, or eating, or anything at all, really.  My weight (and consequently, my health) has been a lifelong problem for me, and sometimes it seems like it always will be.  I guess it’s the “once an addict, always an addict” philosophy.  But an addict in recovery is of course preferable to one in full bloom.

I’ve made progress on and off over the years, mostly just from stubbornness and restricting the almighty heck out of my diet.  Most recently, I lost nearly 50 pounds a few years ago, 20 of which I’ve put back on.  Better than it was, of course, but not there. Not even almost there.  I think my main problem is that I’ve tried to go it alone, even to the extent of not spending any real time in prayer over my diet, and weight, and and health.  This is an area I’ve never truly given to God.

Recently, I was reading Mikey’s blog from the Rock 105.3 morning show, and he was talking about how he never really made any good progress with losing weight and getting healthy until he asked God for help.  And that’s how he does it every day–he prays, and God answers.  And helps.

He gives all the credit and glory for the physical changes in his life to God.  I think what I’ve done is the opposite.  In this regard, I think I’ve blamed God for my health and physical problems–in the sense that he made me this way.  Never really thought that my problems, and weight, were because of bad dietary and health decisions I made.  But the truth is, Jesus never forced an Ultimate Cheeseburger down my throat. 

Today, this moment, I can see that my health problems, and weight problems, were brought on not by God, but by me.  My problems are because of me, and the consequences of my bad decisions.  I choose to eat food that’s bad for me, in extremely unhealthy portions.  I choose to drink excessively (when I drink), occasionally to the point of making myself sick.  I choose to not exercise enough. A lifetime of this has left me with very high blood pressure, for which I have to take two different medications.  I’ll probably have to do this for the rest of my life, but it’s a lot better than the alternative.

What am I getting at?  I just wanted to lay the groundwork for where I am.  But I also realize that changing my life is not something I’ll be able to do easily, or by myself.  I need to involve God, and others like myself.  To that end, I was briefly involved with a program called “Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous.”  Very similar to AA, but different from Overeaters Anonymous, mostly in its methods.  FA’s path to health and weight loss is very strict, to start, and involves abstinence from all flour and sugar.  You eat three weighed and measured meals with nothing in between.  It was tough, and I think I did it for a month or two.  It worked, but at the time the discipline became far more than I was willing to deal with, as it required me to attend AA meeting besides the once a week FA meeting.

I crapped out pretty early on.  From what I can tell from the website, OA mainly consists of accountability, and planned menus, without the extremely strict nature of FA.  We’ll see, I guess.

So what I plan to do now is to attend an OA meeting and see what that’s like, and if I am more suited to its disciplines.  In that regard, to those of you who pray, please pray that I am able to maintain the discipline I need to get healthy, whichever program I take part in.

The truth is, I’m tired of feeling bad, and tired of not being healthier.  I know what I need to do, but in trying to do it on my own, I’ve failed miserably.  And of late, I’ve felt myself sinking back into old thought patterns.  And while that isn’t as bad as old sin patterns, that’s the next thing in line, and I have no desire to go there.

So please pray–whatever God puts on your heart to ask for on my behalf…

Food of the Apocalypse

Went to the San Diego County Fair this weekend (it’s still the Del Mar Fair to me, really), and didn’t rage on the food as badly as I did last time.  As far as fried stuff goes, anyway.  I went twice, and the first day had Australian batter fried potatoes.  Awesome, completely awesome.  Had something called a giant western sausage for a late lunch, and they weren’t exaggerating.  That sucker was about a foot long, spicy as hell, and covered with onions and peppers.  Also excellent.

The next day, I tried a fried frog leg, and it really was a lot like chicken. The meat was white, and had the same consistency as chicken.  Except it was FROG.  It was at that food kiosk (or whatever you call it) that I saw something that seemed to stretch the boundaries of all I know about reality.  White Castle burgers, covered with batter and deep fried.  I could not get my mind around it.  Also for sale here, fried Oreos.  And the ever-popular Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich, which is a Jelly doughnut (raspberry, the sign said), garnished with honey and sporting a fried chicken patty.

It made me want to Roto-Rooter my heart just looking at the picture….

The People who fight for civilization…

  The people who fight for civilization, and those who seek its destruction.
By Christopher Cook

For those of you have yet to see 300 , do yourselves a favor and see it. (Warning: Spoiler Alert)

This movie is not just about the past. It’s about today. Right now.

It’s about each one of you who stands in the breach against the enemy.

And it’s about each one of you who stands against the enemy within, who would happily widen that breach.

Today’s enemy is Islamofascism, but it is little different from the hordes following the tyrannical King Xerxes.

Today’s enemy within is the left, both at home and across the globe. And they too are little different from the scheming legislator Theron and the vile Ephori, who were willing—even eager—to see all Sparta kneel before Xerxes, just to gain power.

How is the left today any different? Do they not see their own nation, their own people, their own military as the enemy? Do they not seek to withdraw us from the field, to give the enemy the day?

And just as Sparta was the lynchpin that defended all Greece—that great cradle of democracy—is not the United States today the last bastion of freedom defending Western civilization?

But what care the left for Western civilization? They HATE Western civilization. They hate the men and women who defend it. They hate themselves.

But truly, this analogue is only the beginning — for what happened at Thermopylae may fairly be said to be the reason we are all breathing the fresh air of freedom today:

Xerxes is on the march. Land after land, king after king is falling under the Persian yoke. And now, Xerxes has set his eyes on Greece.

The Spartan King Leonides knows that the only way to save Greece is to fight. His Queen knows it too:

Queen Gorgo: “Freedom isn’t free at all, that it comes with the highest of costs. The cost of blood.”

Leonides must seek the approval of the Ephori, but these venal magistrates have already been corrupted by Persian gold, as has Theron.

Ephor #1: Sparta wages no war at the time of the Carneia.

King Leonidas: Sparta will burn! Her men will die at arms and her women and children will be slaves or worse!

Ephor #2: Trust the gods, Leonidas.

King Leonidas: I’d prefer you trusted your reason.

Having been denied permission, but knowing they must fight, Leonides is wracked with conflict. He leaves his bed, deep in thought, but his Queen calls him back.

Queen Gorgo: There’s only one woman’s words that should affect the mood of my husband. Those are mine. …

King Leonidas
: Then what must a king do to save his world when the very laws he has sworn to protect force him to do nothing?

Queen Gorgo: It is not a question of what a Spartan citizen should do, nor a husband, nor a king. Instead, ask yourself, my dearest love, what should a free man do?

So Leonides finds a way to do what free men must do.

Statesman: My good king! My good king! The oracle has spoken.

Second Statesman: The Ephors have spoken. There must be no march!

Theron: It is the law, my lord. The Spartan army must not go to war.

King Leonidas: Nor shall it. I’ve issued no such orders. I’m here, just taking a stroll, stretching my legs. These, uh, 300 men are my personal bodyguard.

And so Leonides will defend Sparta, and by extension all Greece, by taking his brave 300 to try to hold off Xerxes at the Hot Gates (Thermopylae). He hopes that his actions will awaken the Spartan legislature and people, to mobilize the rest of the army, to act as one against the enemy.

And so they did, eventually, though every single one of the 300 died doing so.

Now stop a moment and think.

These Greek city-states are showing the first stirrings of real democratic governance. A much greater percentage of people in Greece enjoy true freedom than in any of the neighboring lands. And it is about to fall under the yoke of a dictatorship.

What happens if Leonides fails? Does the Grecian experiment in democracy fail too, as Greece is trampled under by Xerxes and his army of slaves?

If the Greek cradle of democracy had fallen, Rome would not have absorbed its ideals.

If Rome hadn’t taken those ideals and spread them into the Western world, where would those ideals be today? How far along would the ideas of representative governance be?

Without the Roman example, what would Great Britain have become? Would she have produced the Magna Carta? Would she have produced us, or any of the other nations of the Anglosphere—the freest nations in human history?

A great king knows what he must do, but the enemy within seeks to prevent him. And so it is his wife’s words that tip the scales. A single moment—words spoken in a bedchamber 2500 years ago—changes history. Leonides knew the stakes all too well:

Leonidas: A new age has begun, an age of freedom. And all will know that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it.

And so we see the how our freedom is dependent on the acts of brave men……and brave women.

One of the greatest moments in the film comes early on, during the meeting with the Persian messenger:

Messenger: What makes this woman think she can speak among men?

Queen Gorgo: Because only Spartan women give birth to real men.

Just like the sacrifice of Leonides and the 300 reverberates to this very day, in the free air we breathe, so too does a comparison between two women of today:

Recently, put out an ad called “Not Alex.” It features a young mother, holding her son. It is, needless to say, an “anti-war” ad. Here is the text:

“Hi, John McCain; this is Alex. He’s my first. So far, his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog — that, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. So, John McCain, when you said you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because, if you were, you can’t have him.”

This women says that John McCain—and by extension this great nation—cannot have her son.

But this cowardly woman—who most likely mated with a cowardly wisp of a man—doesn’t realize something vital: John McCain won’t take her son. Neither will the military. She doesn’t decide for him, at age 18 months or 18 years.

When he grows, he will decide—as a free man—whether to wear the uniform of his country.

It will be up to him to choose, not her or her accomplices at Perhaps, when he grows, he will throw off the corrosive ideology of his mother and recognize what Queen Gorgo did: “Freedom isn’t free at all, that it comes with the highest of costs.”

Contrast that with another brave woman of today. She is Ania Egland, wife of Air Force Major Eric Egland. Having grown up under the oppressive heel of communism, she knows the value and the price of freedom.

And she has responded to’s craven ad with an ad of her own. Here is the text:

“Hello Senator McCain, these are my precious boys Noah and Daniel. Their daddy served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I grew up under communism. So, when you say we have to protect freedom in Iraq, I understand. And, someday, I would be proud if they volunteered to serve this great country. Senator, thank you for your leadership.”

Now THAT’S a woman. A mother of free men.

It is hard for a mother, even a mother who recognizes the cost of freedom, to see her child or her husband go off to war.

You think Ania Egland wants to see her sons die in war?

You think that when Queen Gorgo says to Leonides, “come back with your shield, or on it,” that she wants him dead?

If you’re on the left—with your warped and twisted way of seeing everything—you probably do.

Gorgo desperately wants her man back, but she understands the necessity of his fight. And Leonides’ last words reflect his desire to live and be with her again: My Queen! My wife. My love…

And yet still, he sacrifices himself for the rest of us, so that we can live in freedom.

His Queen understood that. So does Ania Egland.

So now, I say to you, defenders of freedom everywhere—Remember Dilios’ words…


Dilios: And so my king died, and my brothers died, barely a year ago. Long I pondered my king’s cryptic talk of victory. Time has proven him wise, for from free Greek to free Greek, the word was spread that bold Leonidas and his three hundred, so far from home, laid down their lives. Not just for Sparta, but for all Greece and the promise this country holds.
[takes his spear from a soldier]

Dilios: Now, here on this ragged patch of earth called Plataea, Xerxes’s hordes face obliteration!

Spartan Army: HA-OOH!

Dilios: Just there the barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers… knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of three hundred. Yet they stare now across the plain at *ten thousand* Spartans commanding thirty thousand free Greeks! HA-OOH!

Spartan Army: HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!

Dilios: The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine.
[puts on his helmet]

Dilios: Give thanks, men, to Leonidas and the brave 300! TO VICTORY!
[the Greek army roars and charges]

The left would see us all destroyed for nothing more than their own vile power and purposes. It is up to us—all of us—to stop them.

If 300 can hold of a million, you can make a difference.

You are the tip of the spear. You are Leonides.

Feel like the left is too powerful? Keep fighting.

Does it seem like their arrows are blotting out the sun? Fight in the shade.

Does Obama loom like the god-king Xerxes? Never kneel.

And so I say to the left:

We are the tip of the spear. We will fight you. We will never yield.

This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this