Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Episode Five: Single White Female Syndrome

So, to begin, let me preface by saying my version of Single White Female Syndrome has absolutely NOTHING to do with being a sociopath. According to my research, this disorder affects young single women and the defining characteristic is the assumption of a friend's look, personality, emotions, everything. It most commonly manifests in women with serious social and personal insecurities and this is their way of coping. Perhaps I should come up with a different title...

Anyway, my version of SWFS has more to do with the people around the woman than the woman herself. I will be my own case and point as I seem to encounter these scenarios on a more than regular basis. Note to friends, family, random man #3 in the restaurant last week: This is not an attack on any of you, so if I make an example you were involved in, please don't be offended.

That being said...

I am a Single White Female. More to the point, I am perfectly content and happy with this status. I find a great deal of satisfaction in being alone. My time is completely my own, and while I don't have a great number of hobbies outside of my work, I do like to indulge in the few extracurricular activities I have. And I do, very often, prefer to indulge in them alone. If one cannot be alone with one's self, well, that's a very big problem. Ultimately, you are stuck with you, and I'd hope everyone has at least a small modicum of tolerance for one's self because even if you're coming home to someone, you'll always be coming home to you, so you had better get used to you being there because you never leave... hopefully.

I say hopefully because, and again being my own case and point, I have lost track of myself several times over the course of my 26 (and half) year existence, which is why I so fiercely guard and protect myself now. I have mostly noted this deviation from self to crop up when I am with someone. Dating has proved the biggest personality thief where I am concerned. I can look back through the relationships and non-relationships and see a very distinct pattern where I simply didn't exist. I was all about that other person, I became like him, adopted his habits, adopted his hobbies. I have come to realize this is the biggest relationship destroyer because more than likely each one of these guys didn't set out with the intention of dating himself, which is exactly what ended up happening.

17 months ago, I joined Weight Watchers. This is relevant because while it initially started out with a focus on weight loss, it ultimately ended with a focus on self. When I started this journey, I really had no clue who I was. I didn't know what I liked, I really didn't know what I was capable of. For years I had exhibited faux confidence, now I was aggressively seeking the real thing. I wanted to find the real me. Not the "me" that I became by honing in on my partner-of-the-time's habits, but the me that loves to cook and bake; the me that will waste hours on video games, books, and wandering the grocery store; the me that will hit the gym in the morning for a 7 mile run (currently in 70 minutes, hello 10 minute mile!) and go for a run again in the evening because I know there will be no treadmills on tour in the fall and I have to learn how to handle running in the elements (side note: mosquitoes SUCK... Literally. HA.); the me that can eat alone in public, prefers seeing movies alone, and is perfectly at ease attending events and parties sans date. All I wanted was to find the me that has always been there, but was buried under a very big pile of baggage, broken relationships, and a lot of over-sized clothing.

Thankfully, I never totally lost myself, but I did become severely overshadowed and colored by my significant other, which gave him way too much credit and way too much significance. I'm sorry, but no one is so awesome and wonderful that they deserve to be two people. My apologies in bursting your bubble, but this is true of all us, including me, and I have to say, I really like myself these days. To my friends and family, a huge debt of gratitude is owed, one I'll probably never be able to repay, but many, many thanks for sticking by me through the multitude of negative but ultimately positive transformations that have led me to who I am today. I honestly could not have reached where I am without your support, especially when it was most undeserved.

Now, to come full circle...

As I said, I jealously guard my independence and "me" time because I so seldomely treated myself to it prior to the last year. I am currently in a semi-self-imposed no dating period of life. I say semi because while I am not wholly opposed to seeing someone, I'm definitely not in The Hunt For Red October phase of finding a mate. I'm not seeking and I'm definitely not waiting (blugh!), I'm just being. I'm being with me and God will bring the right man into my life when the time is right. I fully believe God's timing is perfect, His will is perfect, and the perfect (I use that word loosely) man for me is out there doing exactly what I'm doing (well, hopefully not, that would contradict everything I've just said), and we'll find each other when we're meant to.

However, being a content Single White Female is hard for most people to comprehend. Most cannot understand why I would choose to be alone. Just goes to show the "old" social mores of the 50s and 60s are still alive and kicking despite our claimed progressive, feminist, women-are-allowed-to-wear-pants-and-do-the-jobs-men-do view on life. It seems women are still expected to end up staying at home, rearing the kids, while the man does the "man's" work and provides the support. No thanks. I pride myself on being a successful, working professional and I have no intention of being your conventional, cookie-cutter Donna Reed.

This outlook has invoked some entertaining situations, to say the least. I frequently get asked why "a girl like me" isn't married, why someone hasn't "snatched me up," again, why I would choose to be single. I got told by a man in a restaurant that I was "sad" because I was dining alone. I was really happy, quite honestly. Date night with myself is always a treat because I always end up doing exactly what I want to do (which usually involves dinner, a movie, and ice cream after). I found my situation as far from sad as it was possible to be. I had a co-worker ask, in jest, if I was a lesbian. I have friends attempt to "set me up" with eligible men when I come to visit. I find this incessant harping on companionship as a necessity to be annoyingly cliche. 

In summation, I wish people wouldn't assume that a Single White Female is lonely and in need of rescue from the company of herself. There is a vast difference between being lonely and being alone. Yes, I have my lonely moments, but they are fleeting these days, and I find a great deal of joy in learning about myself and what I'm all about, and I feel these are discoveries best experienced alone. I think everyone needs a period of single-gestation in life. You have to take care of you above anyone else because if you're not taking care of you, how can you expect to fully and effectively take care of anyone else? Alone time is crucial because you need to learn about what you need. I know many will argue against this selfish mentality, but I'm living proof that time spent on you in the long run ends up being time well spent for the benefit of others. 

A strong sense of self is your biggest asset, and your most attractive one, so take some time to cultivate it. Yes, I may be alone, but I hardly consider it a bad thing. I'm learning about what makes me happy and how to hold onto me. At the end of the day, I'm stuck with me, so I better like myself, and liking myself has been one of the most important accomplishments of my life, one I absolutely wish upon everyone I meet, friend and enemy alike.

I'll never be Donna Reed. That's a good thing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Episode Four: Guilt-Free Guilty Pleasures

Guilt. A most disgusting, disgruntling, discouraging-- and insert additional dis-worthy words here-- feeling.  I especially hate this emotion when combined with food. Compounded more so when accompanying things I truly enjoy eating. One of the number one reasons for my foray into the domain of baked goods and homemade meals is summed up in one simple word: CONTROL. I'm notorious for going out to restaurants, seeing something that I know to be a no-no food, then going straight home and turning it into a yes-yes-YES delight. This is my ideal way of spiting those guilty feelings without spiting my waist line in the process. Aside from being monumentally more pocketbook and bank account friendly, eating and cooking at home is a sure fire way to gain more control over what and how you eat.

The prompt for today's post comes out of that ever un-disconnected social interface, Facebook. I posted a little status update about enjoying a margarita in the middle of the day along with a buffalo style vegetarian pizza. Now, for most "dieters" these two words most assuredly do not belong in the same sentence. Well, for me I can have these two things all in the same day without ruining my weight loss progress. PLUS, I can even enjoy more guilty pleasures than this, without my waistline experiencing the slightest increase. So, in honor of my guilt free lifestyle, I'm providing a guiltless menu for an entire day that neither breaks your weight loss goals or causes your taste buds to scream in agony for something more flavorful. Even better, all of the recipes I'm going to give you are inspired by restaurant fare I've experienced and chosen to enjoy, but in a healthier way.

To Kim, Briley, & Lil Sis Alex, thanks for the inspiration. NOW EAT UP!

**MENU IS BASED ON STANDARD 29 POINTS PLUS VALUE DAILY ALLOWANCE (This is the amount of Points Plus most members consume when in the losing phase of the Program)

Sandy's Super Strength Breakfast Roll Up
As inspired by the First Watch Power Wrap

3 egg whites
1 tomato basil Ole Tortilla Wrap
1 handful fresh spinach
1/4 cup diced fresh mushrooms
1 Laughing Cow Light wedge, Swiss 
1/4 cup fat free Salsa
1 cup fruit of your choice
*If you want the turkey called for in the First Watch recipe, add 1 oz 99% fat free ground or canned turkey (cook as directed) for additional Points Plus of 1.

Mix egg whites, spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms (and cooked turkey, if desired) in small bowl. Place in greased skillet and scramble on medium-high heat. Warm Ole Wrap in microwave for 1 minute. Spread Swiss wedge on warmed tortilla. Place scrambled egg whites in wrap and roll up. Top with salsa and serve with a cup of fruit.


Sandy's Strawberry Fields Salad
As inspired by the Broadway Palm Theatre's Strawberry Pecan Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

2 cups fresh Spinach
1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 TBSP chopped pecans
2 TBSP Goat Cheese
1 tsp canola oil
2/3 tsp balsalmic vinegar
1/4 tsp Splenda
pinch each: Tarragon, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, & dry mustard

In a cup, stir together oil, balsalmic vinegar, Splenda, and spices. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss spinach, sliced strawberries, pecans and cheese to mix. Just before serving, drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently to coat.

Sandy's Savory Buffalo-Style Veggie Pizza
As inspired by BJ's Brewhouse's Buffalo Chicken Pizza
POINTS PLUS: approx. 18-20

1 Flat Out Light Original Pita Wrap
4 grape tomatoes, quartered
1 green onion, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 baby carrots, chopped
1 handful fresh spinach
1/4 cup reduced fat blue cheese crumbles or 3 TBSP fat free blue cheese dressing
3 TBSP fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP wing sauce, hotness as desired!
*If you want chicken, add 1 oz chicken (cooked as directed) for additional Points Plus of 1.
4 TBSP fat free ricotta cheese
1 TBSP fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp + dash of salt
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Crisp Flat Out Wrap while oven preheats, 3-5 minutes. In small bowl, combine white sauce ingredients. Microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Stir to combine. Spread over Wrap. Layer on spinach and all vegetables (and chicken, if desired). Top with 3 TBSP mozarella cheese. Drizzle with blue cheese dressing (or crumbles) and wing sauce. Bake for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper if needed.

The Magical Hungry-Girl Margarita
As inspired by Margaritas and Cinco de Mayo parties everywhere
POINTS PLUS: approx. 12+
3/4 cup diet Sierra Mist
2 TBSP lime juice
1 instant lemonade packet (like Crystal Light)
1.5 oz Tequila

Combine all ingredients. Serve over ice, or mix with ice in a blender to serve frozen. Garnish with salt rim and lime, if desired.

Sandy's Sensational Smoco
As inspired by the Choco Taco

1 High Fiber Low Carb Ole Tortilla
2 tsp Peter Pan whipped 1/3 less sugar Peanut Butter
2 tsp mini chocolate chips
2 TBSP marshmallow creme
*If you want the ice creamy version of this treat, add 1/4 cup fat free vanilla ice cream for additional Points Plus of 1.

Grease a skillet with non stick spray. Spread peanut butter and marshmallow creme on tortilla. Top with chocolate chips. Place in skillet and grill until tortilla starts to crisp. Add in ice cream if desired or simply serve warm.

If you'll look closely at all the points for the day, there are still 5 Points Plus available. This is if you skip on the meat and ice cream. If you opt to put those things in to each meal, you still have 2 Points Plus left over. This is a pretty savory day and you'd still be losing weight if you were participating in the Weight Watchers Program. Diet doesn't have to mean deprive. With a little brain power and a will to still enjoy food while "sticking to a budget" anything is possible.