We are spending Thanksgiving with my husband's mom. She is from the Deep South and is an excellent cook. She fixes lots of vegetables; she also fixes lots of comfort food. Food and affection are hopelessly intermingled in the Southern culture, so refusing food must be done very cautiously.
It does not help that I have no nutritional credibility with her. When I married my husband almost 28 years ago, I ate like a typical American. Everyone got along fine.
When we had been married about a year, I found an Adelle Davis book on his aunt's bookshelf. I read about vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a meaningful way for the first time.* I was young and starry eyed about nutrition. I thought everyone else would be fascinated with what I had learned. My husband's mother was not. We clashed about white bread and desserts. We clashed about breakfast. I said way too much about whole grains and sugar.
We reached a standoff. I ate lots of, and complimented enthusiastically, the foods I perceived as healthy. I politely declined or ate small amounts of foods I perceived as unhealthy.
Now my family and I come to her house on a diet even more radical. Her son and granddaughter are eating one way; her grandson and I are eating a totally different way. I am avoiding the very whole grains I used to push. If she is confused, I can't blame her.
I wish I could take back some of the things I said way back then, partly because it turns out I didn't know as much as I thought I did. Partly because if I had more credibility I might get an opening to explain the BTD and its benefits to this part of my family.
I came out better at our first meal than my husband. We had asparagus, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pork chops, and salad.
*So much of what Adelle Davis wrote was true and I still use it today - unprocessed food is better than processed, vitamin & mineral deficiencies lead to health problems, too much sugar is dangerous. However she had a shotgun approach to nutrition. Everyone should drink milk, everyone should eat whole wheat, everyone should get protein from meat, etc. It caused her and me and probably every single one of her followers eventual health problems. But I wouldn't know that until I read "Eat Right 4 your Type" 26 years later.
While we were talking on the phone with our son last night, he mentioned a friend who runs with him. The friend is very interested in nutrition, but does not know his blood type. He recently tried increasing the amount of vegetables he ate, and decreasing all other foods. He experienced a noticeable improvement in muscle mass.
My son wanted to know if this meant his friend is probably an A. The question sent me back to "Live Right". Certainly an A would notice improvements in physique by increasing his percentage of vegetables. However, if he is an O and he replaced grains with vegetables, he would also see a benefit. Without knowing his blood type, he would not know what kind of protein he needed.
While I was reading, I stumbled across the answer to a nagging question about my daughter.
Her brother was a track star at our school, so when she was in 6th grade everyone assumed she would run track. She pushed herself through the long workouts, wondering why she didn't love it the way he did. At track meets a scary thing began to happen. When her race was over she would be very light headed. Once she fainted, stumbling and falling at the finish line. I was concerned and took her to the doctor. The doctor was puzzled. He found nothing wrong with her heart. He could have sent us for expensive tests, but his instinct was that she was a healthy girl. The dizziness at the end of races continued, not only in track but in swimming as well.
She eventually gave up track and swimming. She is now focused on twirling, a sport that involves coordination, stretching, and music. She loves it, her muscle tone is even better than when she was running, and it never makes her dizzy.
Today in "Live Right 4 Your Type," I found this paragraph, "While it is fine for Type As to participate in more intense physical activity when you're healthy and in good condition, be aware that these forms of exercise do not act as safety valves for stress in your blood type...The warning signs that you're overdoing it include: chronically cold hands, excessive fatigue two hours after exercise, or lightheadedness upon standing."
I'm glad to know why. I'm also glad her instincts led her to a sport that is well suited to Type A.
I don't eat sandwiches anymore, but my Type A husband does. Mustard isn't good for As, neither is mayonnaise because vinegar is in both products. I had been making his sandwiches with an all natural canola mayo, but was keeping my eyes open for a better alternative.
A couple of weeks ago as I was reaching for the mayonnaise my eyes fell on the tub of miso. On impulse I put mayonnaise on one slice of bread and a thin layer of miso on the other. When he came home from work I asked, "How was the sandwich?" "Fine," he answered as he looked through the mail. Most days I send leftover vegetables in his lunch, so it was several days before the next sandwich. This time I left off the mayonnaise and put a thick layer of miso. I wasn't ready to call attention to the change, and he made no comment. I gave him another sandwich late this week: turkey, soy cheese, and lettuce on Ezekiel bread with miso.
Today I asked about the sandwiches. He likes them, so miso it is on Type A sandwiches.
My daughter marched in a parade this afternoon. It was a pre-Christmas parade with lots of cheerful Christmas music and Santa riding on the last float. I got my exercise for the day by dropping my husband and daughter off at the staging area, then driving to the end of the parade route two miles away. The parade went downhill, so I had a brisk uphill walk to get back to the start. Then because I wanted pictures of my daughter, I walked the entire route again during the parade.
Here is a great verse from Acts 14:17. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.
When I read my first BTD book, one of the things that rang true with me was that though I'm not particularly strong or coordinated and I'm terrible at all team sports, I really do like intense physical exercise. Yesterday's blog left off with my husband and me giving up running and walking every night pushing a baby stroller.
Our son loved the water, so the summer he was two we joined the local swimming pool. My husband decided that we should swim laps. He had it all planned. I would play with the baby while he swam, then he would entertain the baby while I swam. That was ok, but he wouldn't have long to entertain because I could barely swim.
I had a lot of ear infections as a child (too much milk, I'm sure) and my parents were afraid for me to get water in my ears. I didn't learn to swim at all until I was in 6th grade. By then I was more interested in sunning and watching boys than perfecting the strokes I learned in swim lessons. I nearly drowned at the beach in high school. I decided that sitting by the pool chatting with friends would be enough swimming for me.
The first night I tried to swim laps, I started in the shallow end, ran out of steam before I swam one length of the pool, and had to pull myself to the side using the lane ropes. My husband did not think I should give up. So I would start in the deep end. Then when I got tired I could at least walk to the side without embarrassing myself.
I didn't progress very fast as a swimmer. I think I was still dealing with a lot of old fears. Eventually I could swim the length of the pool. My first victory! To swim a lap, I had to swim into the deep water and back out again. A victory over fear! My husband's goal for me was 10 laps. It took three summers before I reached that goal.
I counted laps in groups of 4, so 12 was my next goal. A half-mile was 16 laps. That seemed impossible, but I made it. The same thing was happening with swimming that had happened with running. Though I was tired when I got out of the water, I felt energized at the same time. Several years passed, and I was getting close to swimming a mile.
One night I swam 15/16ths of a mile. I could have swum those last two laps, but the pool closed. The next morning I was in a car accident, and injured my shoulder. I didn't swim at all the rest of that year. The next summer I had to start all over, trying just to swim a lap.
Because we didn't run any more, swimming was the most strenuous exercise I got. I think my Type O desire for the high that comes with vigorous exercise was all that kept me from giving up on swimming. Though I didn't know about the BTD back then, the built in characteristics of my Blood Type were at work.
I swim a lot in the summer and 1 day a week year round. I normally swim Â¾ mile in about 40 minutes. That's not particularly fast - but I have never claimed to be an athlete.
I write a lot about exercise, but if you think I'm an athlete you couldn't be more wrong. I was never any good at team sports as a child. You think I'm exaggerating? When we chose up sides for games at recess Paulette and I were always the last two chosen. PE was my least favorite subject in junior high. I loved music and reading. It was a wonderful day when I found out I could get PE credit for marching band in high school.
I would have been very happy never to exercise, but I married my husband. His family was friends with aerobics guru Dr. Ken Cooper. My husband jogged several times a week and was convinced that his new bride should jog too. When I told him I had never run a quarter of a mile he didn't believe me. He marked off a 1 mile course near our little house, and was shocked when I could not make it to the Â¼ mile point.
But being newlyweds, I wanted to please him, so I tried to run. Eventually I made it Â¼ mile, then Â½ mile, and finally a full mile without stopping. A funny thing happened at a mile. I began to like running. About the time I thought I was too tired to take another step there was a rush. There was also a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
We began to run together at a track. He was in better condition and has much longer legs, so he could always run faster than me. But it turned out he didn't really enjoy running, he just did it because he thought he should (remember he is Type A all the way). So he would run a mile and stop. I would run a mile, plus an extra quarter or two.
One day we went on a picnic with a big group of friends. Our picnic site was by a trail that made a three-mile loop through a beautiful park. Jogging was very popular in the late 70s so a group of us started off on the trail. I wasn't very fast, so I quickly fell to the back of the pack. But I kept going, and I began to pass the other women as they were walking. I began to pass the men. I passed my husband. I ran the whole three miles. In fact I was the only one in our group who ran the whole course without stopping to walk. I cannot tell you how good I felt, physically and emotionally.
My husband and I continued to run together until the year that I was pregnant with our first child. He hurt his back that year and had surgery. Running was over for him. After the baby was born we began to walk together in the evenings. It looked like running was over for me too. Then I started the Blood Type Diet and decided to see if I could run again at 50 years old. I've already blogged that story.
This blog is too long - tomorrow I will tell you how a non-athlete learns to swim.