Friday, May 20, 2011

Being 40: Greeting the End

As I sat beside one of the partners of the firm where I work, I repeatedly mistyped information into our travel planner. She laughed as she looked at the address I used. The numbers were right. The street name was actually our company name. Clearly, the change in my diet, the decrease in calorie intake and my over-tiredness had a marked effect on my ability to function at my job. Just another example of learning that came from the Live Below the Line challenge this week.

Today, as the challenge comes to a close, I honestly greet it with open arms. While visions of giant cupcakes from The Cup dance in my head, it is not my intent to rush right out and go back to living in excess. My hope is that I will be able to continue on a path of less in a healthier manner and to be conscious of my over-indulgence. Not because I think my extra food is going to save the world but because I feel  like it is the considerate thing to do in light of the very little that others have.

The difficulties of the week were the same every day but at varying levels. My struggle with hunger dissipated as the week went on and I eventually had to force myself to eat. It took only a couple of days for that to happen. Along with that came my inability to stomach the items I had at my fingertips. I am certain that had I never been exposed to peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter-chocolate ice cream living below the line on tortillas and noodles would have been less difficult. You don't know what you don't know. And sometimes what you do know is a hindrance to success. So I battled with the tortilla until the very end. 

I was sleepy throughout the week with the worst day being Thursday. I lacked focus and had trouble gathering my thoughts at times. My head hit the pillow early every evening and I slept on average for 10 hours each night. I would have slept longer had I had the option, quite frankly.

There are many who don't understand why this was so tough. There are others that think this kind of action is a waste of time. Success may be defined by funds raised. I met 91% of my goal which is satisfying and I am extremely grateful to those who demonstrated their support financially. Success may be defined by creating awareness. Over the course of the week, thanks to CARE and Live Below the Line, my blog has drawn more traffic than it had in the previous two months. And I am so thankful that that those of you in Australia, the UK, Canada, Kuwait and many other countries took time out to visit for a moment. (Please keep coming back!) For me, however, success will be defined in how I move forward from today. My perspective has changed; my awareness has grown; and my desire to continue to help others wherever possible has increased.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being 40: Passing the Roadside Sobriety Test

This morning on the way to work, quite the disturbance brewed on HWY 370. Three police cars and a tow truck were parked on either side of the center of the highway with flashing lights blaring, while an officer conducted a sobriety test on a young woman. I caught only a glimpse of the test as I was speeding past in the far right lane. (Yes, I was speeding.) But my immediate thought was, I am so tired, there is no way I could follow that officer's finger from left to right and back again in front of my eyes. In fact, wonder if I could pass that test at all.

Day three of the Live Below the Line Challenge proved easiest so far. I am afraid I have reached a point where I am not even hungry anymore and I lost just a pound yesterday which says to me that my big ol' body is not getting enough calories to even function.

All this time I've been saying I would be the perfect contestant on SURVIVOR because I could outlast those skinny broads. But now I wonder. No amount of sleep makes me feel rested and for the first time this week I'm crabby. I just endured a conversation about buffalo chicken with bleu cheese sauce and I've been craving cupcakes which makes me even more irritated.

There's been a lot of talk over the last few days about how these so-called "pretend to be poor" experiments are good for nothing. I beg to differ. This is an experience like I've never had and like I hope to not have again. I cannot imagine going forward from this week and not making every effort possible to help those in need. Not that I haven't done it before but sometimes recognizing crisis is not enough to make a difference. Having a feeling in the pit of your stomach or ingrained in your being motivates you to take the steps necessary to bring about change. When you've been there and you know what it was like, no matter what IT is, don't you want to help others so they don't have to experience it too?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Being 40: Mad at the White Corn Tortilla

Eating to fulfill hunger is not really something I can comprehend. I have never eaten because I felt hungry and I've never stopped eating because I've felt full. That's quite the revelation, isn't it? And quite the confession. I eat because I feel like it and because I can. I eat because it tastes good. I have a sweet tooth for days and I love spicy flavorful foods. I eat with my family a few times a week. It's our time to catch up. I eat with my friends. Again, we catch up or we celebrate something or we do it just because. Food is the center of much of my life. There isn't much thought behind it at all. It just is what it is.

Even three days into the Live Below the Line challenge, I eat when it's time to eat, not to hush my grumbling stomach. And I dread the white corn tortillas. I am mad at them in fact for not tasting like fluffy white bread or an asiago bagel from Panera or ANYTHING ELSE THAT DOESN'T TASTE like a white corn tortilla. I think that because I have been so fortunate to eat what I want when I want that I am not grateful for the little bit that I have this week. Today, I barely choked down half of my lunch. I couldn't eat it any more. I would rather go without than eat another corn tortilla.

It is safe to say that on day three, I've learned to manage being hungry. It didn't take long to figure out that the busier I am, then less hungry I am, which explains why moms I know are always saying things like "I forgot to eat all day!" I have NEVER had an instance in my life when I've FORGOTTEN to eat. Can't imagine it. (Reminds me of friends I have who say "I didn't even know I got paid last week." Well, then you have TOO MUCH MONEY. But that's a blog for another time.) While I've learned to control the hunger, I have yet to grasp the idea of eating for nourishment or fulfilment. I don't know that a week will do that for me. And I don't know that I could do this longer than a week at a time because I am exhausted. I have very little energy.

There is a profound sadness that accompanies this experience. I do not completely understand what life is like for a woman living below the line every day but I am starting to get a sense of how helplessness can impact the choices you make and how you live out your days.

This week, I have very little food. I lack energy. It would have been easy for me to stay in bed today rather than going to work. I have lost six pounds in two days. I can stand to lose probably another fifty pounds but a women much smaller than me would probably really be struggling at this point.

Perhaps by Friday, the corn tortilla and I will have made up. And that may only be because I've had my fill of Ramen noodles and eggs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Being 40: You Have No Choice

Yesterday's Breakfast/Lunch was 2 corn tortillas, 2 slices of cheese, 
1 egg & 4 slices of Buddig ham.  I ate half at 11AM and half at 2PM.
I lost 4 lbs. I was hungry and I had very little energy.
The first day of the Live Below the Line Challenge was nothing less than challenging. Anyone who has ever followed a diet that required food tracking understands that most of the time we are unaware of all that we consume until we see it on paper or on the computer screen. And, for me, food journaling curbs my food binging as well. I don't want to see certain things on paper. I don't want to look like I am eating for three on paper. I don't want to lie to the paper. Ok, the third reason may seem lame or ridiculous but it's true. It's easier to lie to myself if I'm not writing "everything" down.

Going into this, there were two obstacles that I thought would hinder my success. The first was the obvious decrease in the amount of food I would eat every day. I essentially dropped from about 1800 calories (shut it) to about 800 every day. The second was caffeine withdrawal. I drink about 44oz. of caffeine OR MORE each day.

But, yesterday a realization hit me about half way through the day. Women who live on $7.50 a week don't have the OPTION not to do so. They don't have the choice to cheat. They can't just grab an extra egg or let someone buy them lunch. They don't LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE because they are frugal or they are trying to lose weight. They don't have choices.

Today, my co-workers asked me to lunch. They offered to pay, in a charitable effort of their own. I declined. If I was really living below the line, the chances that someone would do that would be slim to none. If I was really living below the line, I would not have that option. Besides, I only have to live this way for one week. Others live it EVERY SINGLE DAY. I can go a week without a choice so that someday other women may actually have one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Being 40: $7.50

In my 40th year, I want to change the world. A long time ago, I realized that we all have the power to change the world even if we do it in our own homes. But this year, I want to make an outward effort that goes beyond my every day life.

This week, the Live Below the Line challenge begins. Participants have a budget of $7.50 to buy food and drink for the week. As much as I hate Wal-Mart, after doing some pre-shopping research, I realized that I'd get the most bang for my buck there so, tonight I did my challenge shopping.

Leading up to this week, I kept hearing others talk about how most of their week would consist of rice or oatmeal or chick peas. I didn't get this body by eating the same bland food over and over again. I clearly love variety. And I know that I would be less likely to succeed if I spent my whole $7.50 on a bag of rice and a box of oatmeal. It took me about 40 minutes to pull my meals together but I was able to get a little bit of variety & a few pieces of fruit. I have $.56 left which I will save for later in the week. I may be able to splurge on an apple or a can of vegetables.

If I didn't have the week ahead of me, the experience of shopping with only $7.50 in my hand would have made a profound impact already. But the week awaits. I will remember how tough it was to get enough food for the week when the thought of quitting crosses my mind. Women everywhere live like this every week, after all. And I'm doing this for them.

Thank you in advance to those who have sponsored me. Your support means a lot to me. If I get to 100% of my goal, I will extend this effort and go an additional three days. I am at 79% right now. If you would like to sponsor me, go to

Wish me luck! Better yet, wish  good luck to anyone who will have to be around me while I am caffeine free this week. God help them!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Being 40: Women Helping Women

I didn't have to turn 40 to udnerstand that life is not just about me. I understand that my world is better thanks to the people around me. And I know that by giving to others, we essentially give to ourselves.

From May 16-20, I'll put myself in a MOTHER'S shoes. I will LIVE Below the Line & raise money for an organization called CARE. The following information was pulled from the LIVE BELOW THE LINE website to help you understand what this effort is all about. If you'd like to support this effort & my week of living below the line, go here:

"Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting poverty in more than 70 countries around the world. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity. Of the world's 1 billion poorest people, 70% are women and girls. With such a large portion of the population struggling, CARE sees immense opportunity to empower women to contribute to their communities.

Live Below the Line is a fundraising campaign started in Australia in 2010, the movement quickly spread across 3 continents and is now catching on in the US. 1.4 BILLION people are forced to live every day on $1.50. Food, drink, health expenses, housing, transportation, education - all living costs must be covered by this amount. It's a feat impossible to imagine - but it's the reality for nearly one quarter of the world's population. The good news is we can effect change in this area.
May 16 – 20, 2011, is Live Below the Line Week. During those 5 days, thousands of people across the US will spend just $1.50 per day on food. In doing so, they will bring the issue of extreme poverty to the attention of their households and workplaces.

We'll all be challenged. We'll all struggle without caffeine. And we'll all have that not-quite-full feeling for 5 days. But we will do so because there are 1.4 billion people for whom doing without is not a choice, and that situation must change.