Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Sugar Madness

It was 3 years ago this month that I finally lost the extra weight I had been carrying around.  With Sam as my self-chosen Diet Coach Extraordinaire, I reached my Weight Watchers goal in January of 2014.  I have managed to weigh-in at least once a month since then and have never had to pay.  Lately, though, the scale has not been my friend.

Let me give a quick refresher as to how my sweet Sam came to tackle this hellish responsibility.  We had launched a ttwd relationship some months before.  I was seriously working to control my temper and bossiness.  Sam and I were both new to this, but there were immediate improvements in both areas and a
closeness that we hadn't ever experienced in all our years of marriage.  Another problem that was out of control, though, was my poor eating habits.  For a very long time I had professed a desire to lose weight, and I went to the meetings for years.  But week after week and month after month, I alternated between staying in the same place on the scale and gaining a few pounds.  I paid and paid and paid with very little to show for it.

Finally, one winter night after attending a WW meeting, I burst into tears when I got home.  I was so disappointed in myself and felt like a stupid failure.  Why couldn't I do this?  Sam was sweet and very concerned.  He hugged me and asked if there was something he could do - "Anything," he said.  Well, then and there it hit me.  If ttwd was helping us both in so many other ways, why couldn't it help me with the weight issue?

A few days later, I brought it up to him, and he flatly refused.  He told me I was always perfect in his eyes, always beautiful, but I never felt that way.  It took a while, but he finally conceded to the idea of helping me to eat sensible, healthy foods.  It really wasn't until I added up how much money I had wasted on dues, cookbooks, and clothes I couldn't wear that his eyes were opened.  It was quite a sum!  He heartily agreed this was a stupid way to spend money but had stipulations.

  • If I wanted to quit WW at any time, that was fine with him.
  • If I chose to attend, however, I better be doing the program.
  • If I had to pay at WW, there would be a spanking when I got home.  No discussion.
  • Once I got to goal, the same rules applied.
  • There would be special allowances made when we planned for them together.
After a great weigh-in, we would sit together and look at my record book.  Lots of praise and I felt so proud of myself! As a Lifetime member, I only have to weigh-in once a month.  Believe me, I usually make sure I do not even get close to the weight where I would have to pay.  Well, usually.

Holidays and vacations are the hardest, of course.  One can develop an attitude like "I'll worry about it tomorrow" or "when we get home" or "it only comes once a year."  Sam usually helps me a lot through the Christmas season.  I check in often, and we talk about
where I will splurge and when I will stop.  That didn't happen this year.  Outside influences and family responsibilities seemed to play havoc with any quality alone time.  We rarely talked about anything except to commiserate about how much we had to do. And I just ate Christmas junk instead of cooking healthy meals.  In theory, all the baked goods were for my family.

Anyway, by the time the damage was done, I had developed a full blown sugar addiction again and gained 5 pounds just like in days of old.  I don't know if any of you have ever felt this way, but it is sometimes so much better if I never even start with sugar.  Maybe there are people who can just have one cookie, but I am hardly ever able to do that. It feels like I just totally lose control.  Just one more and just one more and just one more and then "Holy Shit!  What the hell did I do?"

In my current work I have cause to read a lot of material pertaining to research studies, especially those studies that employ MRIs in an effort to prove a medical hypothesis.  I remembered one conducted at Princeton University about the effects of sugar and the possibility that is was truly as addictive as certain abused drugs - cocaine in particular.

"Sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases opioids and dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential....Four components of addiction are analyzed.  'Bingeing', 'withdrawal', 'craving' and cross sensitization.....These behaviors are then related to neurochemical changes in the brain that also occur with addictive drugs."

"We used the 'deprivation effect' paradigm to investigate consumption of sugar after abstinence in rats that had been bingeing on sugar.  Following 12 hours of daily access to sugar, rats press for 123% more sugar in a test after 2 weeks of abstinence than they ever did before.  A group with 30 minutes of daily access to sugar did not show the effect."

OK, basically that boils down to the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave.  Now, granted, this particular study used lab rats simply because you can control the external stimuli much better in a laboratory setting, but it has also been studied in humans extensively.

"When we eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released in .... the brain.  When we eat these foods often and in large amounts, the dopamine  receptors start to down-regulate.  This means that the next time we eat these foods, their effect is blunted.  We will need more junk food next time we eat in order to get the same level of reward.  Sugar and other junk foods, due to their powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain, function similarly to drugs of abuse like cocaine....."

So let's get back to Ella and Sam.  Without both the positive and negative reinforcement my coach usually gives me, it was too easy for me to fall from grace.  When Sam and I finally talked, this little lab rat caught some major negative consequences for hitting that sugar lever at about 123% of what she should have.  These spankings are never pleasant.  No, not one bit, at least until we get to the part with the hugs and encouragement.  I much prefer the times when I sit on Sam's lap and we look at my WW record book.  When I feel proud and I know Sam is, too, I positively beam.  Physically, I feel better with energy and stamina for what I want to do in my life.  

                                     You do not live to eat.

                                         You eat to live. 

           I should have this on the DropDown Menu of my life. 

There will be readers that will shake their heads about why a grown woman cannot handle her own self control, and I don't really know why either.  This just works for me.  Healthy eating and being happy with myself are just the rewards at the end of the maze.  It doesn't mean I will never fall again.  I know I will.  It just means Sam is always there to pick me up.  

                            "Thanks, Coach.  I love you so much."



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ella's Bookshelf - A Cowboy's Love

What do I love most about Leigh Smith's cowboy stories?  That's easy.  The woman just knows how to build a cowboy.  Big, handsome, honorable, brave, sexy, hard-working, firm, masculine, kindhearted, dominant, loyal, and loving.  Our Sunny makes each one of her cowboys an individual, but she seems to use these building blocks to deliver a character that gives each of her books a solid pillar around which to write us a brand new tale.  It's no secret that Ella's bookshelf is filled with cowboy stories, and so very many of them are by Leigh.

Title:  A Cowboy's Love

Author:  Leigh Smith

Number of Pages:  128

Themes:  Sacrifice, Loyalty,  Triumph over Adversity

Main Characters:

  • Marsh Tucker - The serious hard-working cowboy who has been to war and finally found his way back home.  He is devoted to his family and their ranch.  He knows a thing about wild horses which is a trait he will need as he gets to know Grace.

  • Grace Callahan - aka Annabelle Steele.  The pampered daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia family.  She decides to call herself "Grace" when she sees no option but to run away from a terrible match made by her parents.

  • Jameson Henry Bartlett - The rich man chosen as a suitable husband for the Steele family's daughter.  He shows Grace a side of his character that makes this independent young woman leave the only home she has ever known.

  • Maddy Tucker - The widow who long ago came to the ranch with Marsh as a boy.  She arrives as a housekeeper, but her wisdom and no-nonsense love win her a place alongside the owner.  Her tender care and tutelage of Grace is just what the girl needs.

  • Bull Johnson - The name fits this character to a tee.  I love the descriptive "curmudgeon."  (Sometimes, I might describe Sam that way.)  He is the ranch's owner.  Although Maddy won't marry him, they live as man and wife.  He treats Marsh as his son unquestionably.

Setting:  The Winding Creek Ranch in the Arizona Territory during the late 1800's.

While out searching for stray horses, Marsh Tucker happens upon a serious stagecoach accident.  He quickly tries to help those who are hurt and sadly counts the dead. The cowboy is wary as he goes about this and cannot shake the feeling of being watched.  Among the people who are rescued and taken to the Winding Creek Ranch is a young woman who calls herself Grace Callahan.  Bull and Maddy open their home to her and the rest.  Grace seems reluctant to share much about who she is, but Marsh sees her as a rich, little run away.

It seems like Maddy is the one who first notices the attraction the two have for each other, but Marsh seems more inclined to spank the headstrong Grace than whisper sweet nothings in her ear.  "Girl, you sure are stubborn," he rants.  They are all cautious, though, once they learn about the horrible Jameson Bartlett who has followed the fiance' who spurned him back in Philadelphia.

No kidding.  It wouldn't have surprised me if this evil dude had decided to tie Grace to the railroad tracks!  Of course, Sunny wouldn't have written anything that trite, but you get the picture.  He lays in wait like a snake preparing to strike.  And much later in the story when he does finally make his move, Grace proves she is no shrinking violet.  Remember to breathe.

One of the most humorous passages starts when Grace decides she is buying some pants since she wants to work with the wild mustangs.  Marsh takes great exception to this and spanks her repeatedly.  "If they were ever going to be together, she had to learn that he was the one wearing the pants, not her."  The analogy practically leaped off the page while I was reading here.  Grace may be determined to break some mustangs, but Marsh is just as determined to break Grace, be it with a loving intention.  And that just leads to some delicious sexual tension.

Leigh's books always paint beautiful pictures of the magnificent country that is the background to her stories.  For some reason, her description of the landscape of Arizona seems especially gifted.  I loved when Grace "looked up and spotted a stand of trees cloaked in a mantle of gold among the many dark pines standing majestic against the backdrop of the red sandstone cliffs."

I do believe that westerns are one of my very favorite genres because they are the perfect vehicle in which to celebrate  old-fashioned masculinity.  There is usually conflict with some peaceful homesteaders, and a cowboy hero's violence only surfaces when it is necessary to protect those who are weaker and depend on him.  For those of us who are honest enough to admit we crave a more dominant male, the cowboy is simply the perfect man.  

                        And Sunny builds you the perfect cowboy. 

          Further Eye Candy Just Because This is My Blog and I Can.

That's All, Folks

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sam's Resolution for Ella

Besides all the hustle and bustle of the holidays this year, Sam and I were given the unhappy task of emptying the huge apartment of a relative who passed away recently.  We have not had to tackle a job like this since the death of my mother in 2001.  It never gets any easier.  You realize how little all the "stuff" means without the person there who treasured those items.  Boxes and boxes of 


The sorting, discarding, donating, and removal is a big enough chore at any time, but it was simply an enormous amount of work alongside Christmas.  We had a firm deadline, as well; it all had to be done and out by December 31st.  By the 29th, we had a handle on it and all the furniture and loose items were mostly sorted into stacks.  Sam had arranged for a small storage unit for heirlooms that might be claimed by other family members.  I had contacted a lovely woman with an upscale consignment business to pick up the better furniture.  Then there was Salvation Army coming to take the less useful furniture and at least 20 boxes of donations.

I am still learning that a successful ttwd relationship takes more than just the desire to have it.  It takes time and dedication.  When life demands that all your energy be directed at a situation or responsibility, ttwd starts to slip little by little.  You can literally watch it disintegrate with each day it is ignored.  I forget my role and to follow Sam's lead.  He forgets to lead and lets me start to be the decision maker.  It doesn't take long for that to turn into something ugly.

We were both patient with each other for the most part, and I think Sam was cutting me a lot of slack on being bossy.  I didn't feel good about it, but there was just so much to do.  I was in overdrive and not spending enough time to remain anywhere near submissive.  By the time we got closer to the deadline, I could tell that what was coming out of my mouth was all wrong.

The most awful of all was when I started speaking for Sam.  When the movers would ask him a question, I would just start answering for him.  That went on for hours.  By the time we were finally finished, Sam took me out for a simple dinner.  He first said multiple "thank yous" for all the hard work over my week off work,
but then he looked me in the eye and said that we would be having a serious discussion about the way I assumed he could not speak for himself.  Even after this whole, horrible day, I couldn't shut up and even asked for the check!  That was the final straw.  He said that we were both too worn out that night, but that next morning there would be a reckoning.  He had 1 cup of coffee and then came to get me.  I know I have mentioned the antique rice paddle before, but I can only tell you that it is the worst item in our toy box.  Sam never uses it for play.

As they say, "Boy, howdy!" was that a paddling.  I was really ashamed that I could so slip back into my old ways because of a stressful period in our lives.  He never stopped the spanking as he went over each and every incident of the week before.  He also went over each and every square inch of my bottom.  I tried to be submissive during the spanking, but after just a short while, the pain was literally in the red zone, and I was positively out of control.  Sam spanked until that stopped.  I was apologizing over and over.

Besides Sam's lecture about my shortcomings the week before, he thought the timing was perfect for me to make a resolution for the new year.  It wasn't just the spanking that made me agree.  I am hoping that 2017 brings me closer to my goal to think before I
speak.  I live for that feeling of closeness between Sam and I.  My commitment to treating him with the respect he deserves is not something that can sit on a shelf and still stay strong.  It needs to be polished and cared for every day.