Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Sense a Theme

I was catching up on reading my fellow diet bloggers, when I noticed a theme.

Jack Sh*t Gettin' Fit talks about not being happy or satisfied until he meets his weight loss goals:

Bitch Cakes talks about Emotional Eating:

Prior Fat Girl was feeling a bit Cranky and skipped her work-out:

And T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain was getting a little whine on:

Emotions and how we feel really do effect what we eat, and how we exercise. So we need to recognize that we do sometimes eat or crave a particularly fattening food because we've had a bad day and not because we're hungry.

But beyond recognition of our emotional eating, I think its a good idea to look at why we're feeling the emotions we're feeling in the first place. Instead of using food to try to make ourselves feel better, we should try to, well, just make ourselves feel better.

Now, I am certainly not belittling anyone who has any kind of serious clinical depression, or anyone who has gone through an honest to goodness trauma--like losing a loved one.

But, oftentimes, we do let the little things get the better of us. Life is too damn short to let petty disagreements and problems get in the way of our happiness.

Something I've been leery of revealing here is my son's disability. My son is on the autistic spectrum, and classified as mentally retarded. When you're the parent of a disabled child, you tend to hang out with parents of other disabled children--of which there are two types.

First you get the kind, like me. We have a disabled kid, and we just deal with it. We find the joy that our children present us, and don't fixate on the the difficulties.

Then you get the sad sacks. These are the parents who think their lives are miserable because their children present challenges. These are the parents who root out the "pity givers" and come to meetings with other parents of kids with disabilities just to cry about how awful their lives are.

So, its all in how you view things. Both sets of parents have the same situations and the same challenges. But some of us choose to not focus on the negative, and others can't think of anything but the negative.

But the reality is not only does focusing on the negative make us miserable, it doesn't do a damn thing for our kids.

So, in the end, it's all just wasted emotion.

So, the next time something goes a little wrong in your life and you find yourself going for the box of Ring Dings.

Take a step back, and ask yourself "is it really that bad?"

Chances are it isn't, and you really don't need that Ring Ding.

Dinner with the Boss

Usually after a day of heavy eating, I like to go super light for the next few days. Monday was Yom Kippur, and I'm still feeling the heaviness from the food in my stomach.

Well, it turns out that my husband's boss is in town (he's in from Seattle), and so last night I had to go out to dinner. Normally I would have eaten a salad last night, but instead it was off for a fancy restaurant meal.

Now, I tend to always be leery about eating in restaurants because I think restaurant chefs tend to use a lot of fat to make the food taste particularly yummy.

Luckily, the restaurant we picked was Tavern on Main in Westport. It's a traditional New England place in a 150 year old building with exposed chestnut beams, and fireplaces (which actually work). The chef is quite good, and doesn't rely as much on fat and salt to make the food taste good.

After the introductions to the boss and the standard chit chat, I got to work scanning the menu. I knew that there would be plenty of fish on the menu, but not all fish is created equal. The polenta crusted sea bass I knew would be a caloric disaster.

Luckily I spotted a grouper with a pomegranate glaze over a bed of sauteed spinach. Perfect. The only problem was that it came with mashed potatoes (likely loaded with butter and/or sour cream). A quick discussion with the waiter, however, revealed that I could substitute brown rice for the potatoes. Yippee. I asked for the chef to go easy on the glaze (likely to be sugar) and got a garden salad to start.

While the men got dessert (I'm proud to say my husband got sorbet), I sipped on a bit of chamomile tea. Dinner with the boss accomplished.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lightening Up Yom Kippur

Yesterday was Yom Kippur--the Jewish day of atonement. I may be a nice, Catholic school educated, Italian girl, but I married a nice Jewish boy who's entire family came here to break fast yesterday. Somehow, for someone with very little exposure to Jewish culture prior to college, I managed to become the hostess for most of the Jewish holidays.

I have to say, if you have to host a Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur is the one you want to host. There's no cooking involved. Essentially, you go to the Jewish deli the day before and pick up a bunch of food. The only thing you have to do is arrange it on platters.

The traditional meal for breaking fast is dairy, and bagels with cream cheese and lox is standard. In addition to bagels and lox, you're supposed to serve an assortment of artery clogging, caloric filled foods. Things such as chopped liver, whitefish salad, gelfilte fish, blintzes, Challah bread, rye bread, etc. Jewish cuisine is not all that diet friendly.

But, the amazing thing is, no one in my husband's family (with the exception of my husband), really wants to eat a lot of the traditional foods. Both of my in laws have heart and health issues, and my one brother in law is a major health nut who basically eats nothing but grilled meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.

On top of that, my sister and law is doing her on raw diet cleanse (she's already lost 18 pounds and looks fab).

After years of throwing away food after Jewish Holidays, I told everyone in advance that A) I wasn't going to buy as much food as I had previously, and B) while we'd still have a lot of the traditional foods, I was going to pare back and add more fruits and vegetables.

This year during the "appetizer phase" of the meal there was no gelfilte fish. It was the one item that everyone said they could do without. We still had chopped liver and whitefish salad, but I only ordered 1/4 pound of each for ten people. Everyone had a taste, because we all love it and it's traditional, but even then there were leftovers (which were thrown out because no one wanted to take them home). Instead of the traditional rye bread and crackers, I bought the thin sliced, whole grain rye bread.

The big change was that in addition to the traditional Jewish appetizers, I put out a huge platter of raw vegetables with a Hummus dip. We had fresh, sliced cucumbers from the garden, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, celery and sliced zucchini. It was a hit, and everyone loved it.

For the main course we had bagels, cream cheese and Nova lox. It was the one part of the meal everyone said they couldn't do without. The big change was that I served mini-bagels instead of those huge, bread circles which serve as bagels. Everyone loved them because they wanted to cut back on carbs. There's not much you can do about cream cheese (except spread less of it on), but by ordering the more expensive Nova lox, those watching their salt intake didn't have to be as cautious.

Along side the bagels we served the Challah and deli pickles. The non-Jewish part of the meal was a big salad with a fresh mix of baby lettuces from the farmers' market, raw almonds, chopped red onion and dried cranberries. I served a home-made lemon vinaigrette on the side. Everyone helped themselves to a big serving of salad along-side their bagels, and everyone loved it.

For dessert, I served a small chocolate Babka, and a huge platter of fresh fruit, including apples, clementines and grapes. The clementines were a huge hit with the kids. My one nephew ate seven!!!

So, in the end, we were able to observe tradition, without busting our guts (or our arteries). We sampled and tasted the foods we love, and which help my husband's family connect to their past, without overindulging in them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I just got back from my first Tai Chi class. I've been interested in learning a martial art for some time, so when my girlfriend, who has a black belt in Karate (and teaches it to children), mentioned she started Tai Chi, it was obvious that the time had come.
I loved it. I obviously didn't do that much today because it was my first class, but I could see Tai Chi as something I really would like to master.
Tai Chi is a moving meditation. You learn sequences of movements which you perfect and time to breath. That appeals to me. I've always had a tendency to gravitate to exercise routines which teach a skill rather than just move for movement's sake. Zumba is fun, but I always ask myself afterwards: "What's the point?"
And, there are apparently a lot of health benefits to practicing Tai Chi. According to Wikipedia practicing Tai Chi promotes balance, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. And, according to the calorie calculator I used, I burned 232 calories during the course of my one hour class.
My teacher taught me a sequence of three movements today which I'm supposed to practice at home, so I now have something new to do to get me off my ass and moving. Hmmm, I can see a Tai Chi break being very beneficial when I'm working.

Upping the Raw Percentage

Since the news that my husband's heart condition has worsened, I've been doing a lot of research on what he should be eating to control his hypertension.

Guess what? Everything I read says he should be eating a primarily vegetarian diet with lots of fresh (i.e. raw) fruits and vegetables.

Now, getting my recalcitrant husband to do this when he's not with me will be difficult. I can, at least, do something when it comes to dinner.

Last night I didn't have a lot of time to cook (my daughter had tap from 5-6), so I took some previously made caponata out of the freezer to toss with pasta. Then I thought about getting more fresh vegetables into my stubborn mate, and went to the refrigerator and found a bag of fresh baby spinach from the farmers' market.

I tossed in the spinach with the caponata and pasta and threw in a handful of cherry tomatoes to boot.

That way, I not only got some additional fresh vegetables (and no meat) into my husband, but upped my raw percentage as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heart Aches

Despite my best efforts my husband has awful dietary habits. Although I refuse to bring junk food into the house, he constantly buys himself snacks, like a bag of corn chips and jarred salsa, and then will eat it all in one sitting watching a foot-ball game.

For lunch my husband usually has a ham, salami or other cured meat on rye bread with pickles. If he goes out for lunch, it's not unusual for him to have a bacon cheeseburger. On the week-ends he likes to go to the local diner for breakfast and get eggs with both bacon and sausage and fries.

He refuses to eat fruit (unless its baked into a pie), and thinks nothing of ordering two meals for himself when we go out to eat.

And, my husband is the typical arm-chair athlete. He only works out (barely) once a week, and after that weekly work-out he goes to the local Jewish deli and gets himself either two hot-dogs with sour kraut, or two bagels with cream cheese and lox.

You'd think he'd weigh over 300 pounds. But he doesn't. My husband is 6 foot 4 inches and weighs less than 200 pounds. He is lucky in that he has the metabolism of a teen-age boy.

But he's also unlucky. My husband has hypertension, a heart condition, and was told three years ago that if he didn't watch his diet and exercise more, he could have a stroke or heart attack.

But was that enough to get him to change his habits??? No, he always thought that he's in great shape and doesn't need to reduce his salt intake, fat and cholesterol because he's thin.

This week he went to his cardiologist and was told that his heart condition has significantly worsened. I pestered him to give me permission to speak to his doctor. I got the permission and spoke with the cardiologist today.

To say that this poor man is frustrated by my husband's behavior is an understatement. I found out that my husband has been blowing off this professional's advise for years (such as refusing to get his cholesterol tested). I got the sense that the doctor is ready to just throw in the towel and bide his time until my husband finally does have a stroke or heart attack to say "I told you so."

Needless to say, I'm not content to sit back and wait for that to happen. I sprang into action by calling his parents. My father-in-law is a doctor, and understood the diagnosis, prognosis, and necessary lifestyle choices my husband has to make. He'll pester him from the professional angle.

My mother-in-law is a Jewish mother, so she'll pester him to the point that he'll probably make some changes just to get her off his back.

It's not the first time I had to resort to my in-laws. Years ago when a routine physical found that there might be heart issues, my husband refused to see the cardiologist. My in-laws got him to the cardiologist, and have made sure he returned regularly.

I do what I can at home. Despite his protests I make him eat fish and eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week. When I do make meat, I make a lot less of it, and I've switched to whole grain rice, pasta and breads.

It's what he eats when he's not in the house or brings into the house that's a problem.

But it goes to show, eating healthy is about more than just being thin. My husband is thin. But, he's probably more unhealthy than a lot of men with spare tires who do watch what they eat and exercise regularly.

Yes, it is a Hell of a Lot More Fun to Put on Weight

Putting on weight is so easy and fun. You get to be lazy, hang around on the sofa, and eat ice cream, cake, cookies, pie, french fries and anything else your heart desires.

Losing weight, on the other hand, is a bitch. You have to put in long hours of exercise for minimal calories burned. Hell, 40 minutes on a tread-mill won't even burn off one Big Whopper. You also have to eat next to nothing, and what you do eat has to be mostly fruits and vegetables.

There's an amusing piece in the New York Times today about using phone applications to count calories. It actually sounds like a good app, and if I had an iPhone, I'd be inclined to use it myself.

You can find the entire article here:

Here's some of what she has to say:

"Actually, it was a new iPhone app called Lose It! Which sounds like a diet, if you ask me. For weeks he’d been keeping a food diary on his phone — all the calories he ate, and all the calories he burned — and it was constantly generating cool little charts and graphs to let him know whether he was meeting his goals.
“I’ve lost 12 pounds,” he said.
“Get it for me,” I hissed. “Now.”
Less than a minute
later, my husband had downloaded it to my phone and was entering a few personal data points — such as my age, weight and gender — to create a custom weight-loss plan.
Well, semi-custom. I couldn’t actually bring myself to get onto a
scale, so I guesstimated the “current weight” number.
“How much do you want
to lose?” my husband asked.
“Five hundred pounds a week,” I said.
Instead he set it for a half-pound a week, which he thought was a reasonable goal for my new lifestyle. Lose It! said I could eat 1,630 calories a day.
This is precisely the point where a typical “lifestyle” plan falls apart, unless your lifestyle involves, say, a penal colony. I’ve had breakfasts bigger than 1,630 calories.
But I decided to give it a shot. Lose It! has its own database
listing the calories in a few thousand different foods. And if a food was not listed? I could always find it in another iPhone app, the LiveStrong calorie counter, which lists 450,000 foods.
At breakfast the first day, everything went fine, at first. I had teensy portions of Raisin Bran, Greek yogurt, sliced
banana, blueberries and coffee with milk. But then I typed in the meager quantities, and was shocked — 499 calories for a breakfast that didn’t even include bacon or butter.
When you’re serious about keeping a food journal,
this is the kind of disturbing news you learn all the time: how much more you are eating than you think you are eating.
But because this was the first dayof the rest of my lifestyle, I stayed upbeat. There was a helpful bar graph that
indicated I still could eat another 1,131 calories before midnight.
I checked the database to plan a dinner menu. But when I saw that five ounces of white wine, alone, totaled 121, I knew emergency exercise would be necessary.
So I spent the afternoon building up a calorie reserve. According to the database, walking for 40 minutes was worth an extra 105 calories; an hour of doubles tennis, an additional 345.
At midnight, I finally relaxed. I had come in 196
calories under the allotment, which earned me a calm, congratulatory blue line on my bar graph.
I was hooked. Before I knew it, I had joined my husband at
the table, meal after meal, punching in calories as if we were scoring a boxing match.
“What did you give the salmon?” he’d ask.
“I’m calling it ‘Alaskan chinook, broiled,’ so we brought six ounces in at under 300,” I’d say."

That's right, losing weight is never easy, but putting it on is tons of fun (and you'll eventually weigh a ton as well).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Praise of the Lowly Sweet Potato

I made hot dogs for dinner last night. My husband and kids all love hot dogs. I always thought they tasted gross. I was probably the only kid who went to a barbecue and only ate the bun with mustard when hot dogs were on the grill.

As I aged, rather than resist my hot dog hatred, I gave into it. It's enough of a bitch keeping weight off as it is without imbibing artificial casings full of mystery meat, chemicals and fat.

My husband and kids, however, love tubular meat, so I do, on occasion, indulge them. I, of course, buy them organic, nitrate free, natural casing dogs.
Hot dogs are an easy meal for me when time is limited. I just slap them on my grill pan for five minutes or so, throw them on buns and Viola! dinner is served.

When hot dogs are on the menu for the family, I take the opportunity to go completely vegetarian. If I'm trying to have a completely raw day (or just up my percentage for the week), I'll make a salad or have raw veggies and dip.

Other times I'll steam veggies and have them over brown rice, or, my favorite, I'll bake up a sweet potato.

Last night was a sweet potato night. I baked two sweets over an hour at 400 degrees until the insides were good and mushy and the skin extra crispy. Then I mashed up them with a little salt and cinnamon (no butter needed). It was really, really yummy. It was like eating desert for dinner without all the bad processed sugar and calories.

What's not to love about sweet potatoes? They're not only delicious, but full of all kinds of healthy stuff. The orange flavor is a sign that there is plenty of beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant that converts to Vitamin A which is marvelous for the skin, helping it remain clear and wrinkle-free.

There's also plenty of dietary fiber in sweet potatoes which is good for the digestive system, and all the Vitamin B6 protects against heart disease and stroke. Best of all, there's less than 100 calories in the average sized sweet potato.

So, have desert for dinner (or lunch). Eat a sweet potato. Just stay away from loading it with butter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Can a Food Allergy be Stalling Weight Loss?

I know a little something about food allergies. My son is allergic to both wheat and all dairy. If my son gets anything containing either wheat or dairy or derived from wheat or dairy, he'll either vomit or break out in a rash.

So, I found this following article by a holistic nutritionist extremely fascinating:

Apparently, a food allergy can be a reason why weight loss is so difficult for you. If you are allergic to something, such as milk, gluten, eggs, soy or nuts, you may not experience anything as dramatic as an anaphylactic reaction or vomiting, but it can cause puffiness and water retention.

Even more interesting, we tend to crave the very foods we are allergic as well, which leads to even more weight gain.

Here's what the author had to say:

"Now I know there are a couple of potential culprits, one of which is food allergy. When you eat a food to which you are allergic, partially digested bits of it seep through your intestinal lining and into the bloodstream and eventually to the tissues. This causes inflammation. In an attempt to dilute this irritating material, your body produces water. The fat cells also bloat up
to create a buffer. And voila – water retention and puffiness.
Interestingly, food allergies can also lead to food addiction, which in turn leads to more weight gain. When you eat a food you’re allergic to, the resulting biochemical reactions create a feeling of being high. I’m always suspicious when a client
says “I LOOOOVE cheese!” or “If I could never have bread again I would be really bummed!”. Obviously, if you are addicted to a food, you’ll consume a lot of it, creating more and more toxic reactions in your body. The allergic reaction itself can result in a drastic reduction in blood sugar which then causes weakness, hunger and irritability. And allergic hunger isn’t like normal hunger: you stay hungry until you eat the offending food!

Early on in my weight loss journey, I stopped consuming dairy for a while. I've always been a bit of a "cheese addict," but it was recommended that I go off dairy to lose weight and to clear up a persistent post-nasal drip.

Viola!! Within weeks off stopping dairy consumption weight started to come off finally. And, not only did my post-nasal drip clear up, but the constant bloating and gas I had been experiencing for years as well.

Maybe I too have a dairy allergy? And, maybe you're allergic to something as well that's hampering your weight loss efforts. The only way to find out is to do what I did. Just stop eating something for a while and see what happens.

The author recommends seeing a nutritionist, and while that's always a good idea, the nutritionist will probably just advise you to cut out any food you feel you may be allergic to, or maybe put you on an elimination diet.

I still indulge in dairy foods from time to time, but I now know it can't be an integral part of my daily diet as it once was.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Parlez-Vous Francais?

Thirty years ago I spent a college semester abroad in France, and the first thing you notice when you're in France is that the only fat people there aren't French. Despite petit dejeuners of bread with jam or butter-laden pastries, and butter and creamed soaked lunches and dinners (accompanied by lots of alcohol and cigarettes), the French are positively gaunt looking.

Part of it is the portions. The French give you smaller portions (and charge smaller prices) then we do here in America. An American croissant looks like it had a dose of steroids compared to the French version (which tastes so much yummier as well because French flour isn't as refined and processed as it is here in the US).

But the other part of it is that the French naturually incorporate additional exercise throughout the day. Remember that burning an extra 50 calories a day can mean a 5 pound weight loss by the end of the year.

Well, the author of French Women Don't Get Fat gives some advise on how French women "exercise" which you can find here:

What's notable is that much of the advise is just simple stuff that anyone can do without joining an expensive gym. Some of the notable methods of French "exercise" include:

1. Don't save steps, multiply them. Always take the long way, or park your car as far as way from where you're going as you can.

2. Do discreet isometric exercises throughout the day.

3. Do light resistance training with 3 to 5 pound weights.

4. Use Your bike as transportation.

5. Do Yoga.

6. Take the stairs.

"Vive la France!"

What the F*ck Part Deux and a Wonderful Hike

Last week I wrote about how my weight skyrocketed from 126 to 130 in just a couple of weeks. Yesterday morning I stepped on the scale and I was at 127.

Go figure?

My daughter had a birthday party yesterday afternoon and my husband was loathe to tear himself away from some sporting event on the boob tube (I can never keep track of them, but all I know is that all seem too important to miss). Not wanting to waste an absolutely beautiful New England afternoon, I took my son for a long hike.

Not having to drag along my eight-year old, daughter was rather freeing. My son, who's fourteen, and I really pushed ourselves, taking a particularly long route, and we hiked at a very quick pace.

I could have gone even further, but at the point were we could either go back to the car or hike another mile or two, my son was huffing and puffing pretty badly and sweating like a dog (it's pretty disconcerting when your baby gets BO). So we took the trail back to the car and ended the hike.

When we got home, my husband was still in his place, on the sofa, yelling at the TV screen because his team wasn't doing that great. He was miserable, but I was ecstatic.

So, there's a lesson to be learned. Why sit in front of a glowing screen getting fat and miserable when you can go out into the woods, have a great time, and burn a load of calories?

It's a no brainer for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inspiration to Work Out

I love this. This video shows how you can go from pudgy to buff by working out every day.

Please Mr. President Tax My Soda

Not to get on my political high horse, but if they are going to raise taxes to finance health care, taxing soda and sugary soft drinks is the way to do it. The New York Times writes about the debate here:

The CEO of Coke thinks the proposal is "outrageous." Gee, I wonder why??? Could it be that he's afraid that if the unhealthy drugs he's pushing are taxed, people may just decide to quit the way smokers did when cigarette taxes were put in place?

I'm proud to say that if you offer my kids soda, both will say "no thanks." Both would rather drink water, lemonade or fruit juice instead (not that lemonade or fruit juice is all that great either). Frankly, I don't know how I did it. I never gave them soda ever, and they've just never showed any interest in having it if its offered to them.

Myself, it took me years to knock my own soda addiction. My parents, thank the lord, never allowed us to consume soda on a daily basis. But we could have a Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Root Beer, 7-Up etc. at a party or at a restaurant.

When I got to be a teenager, buying soda at school etc., got to be a bit too routine, and I eventually did what any teen-age girl concerned about her weight did--I switched to Tab (remember Tab?) and other "diet" sodas.

By the time I was studying for the bar, I as drinking a liter of Diet Coke a day. A few years later I realized that my soda addiction was a problem and I had to get off the stuff.

So, please Mr. President, tax my soda. I may not drink the poison anymore, but I want an incentive to stay away.

And, if taxing soda does not yield enough revenue so that people in this country can go to the doctor or hospital without having to worry about losing their house or going into bankruptcy, then feel free to tax Twinkies, Ho-Hos, candy and every other over-processed, nutritionally devoid imitation food product.
I may get pissed at you for other things Mr. President, but you pass this tax you'll get my vote in 2012.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What the F@ck is Going On?

Losing weight after 45 is really a bitch. Just a few weeks ago, back in early August, I was ecstatic because I finally got down to under 125 pounds. Two weeks later I was at 126 pounds which didn't concern me two much at the time. Weight fluctuates and generally I've found that when I reach a milestone it takes a few weeks more for it to finally settle in the new lower range.

But I held steady at 126. Also not a concern, the more weight you lose the harder it is to lose.

So my response was to increase my exercise a bit more. I upped the intensity of my walks, made them a little longer, and spent a little more time on yoga practice.

I didn't change my diet much, and I definitely was not eating more.

But then last week I got on the scale and I was 128 pounds. This morning I got on and I was 130.

This is so, so frustrating because it took my months and months to get from 130 pounds down to 124.6 and just a few weeks to go from 124.6 to 130.

Yes, losing weight after 45 is a major bitch, and keeping it off is even a bigger bitch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Most Excellent Hike

Now that the kids are finally back in school, my hiking buddy and I finally got our schedules co-ordinated and we hiked for close to two hours this morning.

The weather is absolutely beautiful--perfect for hiking. My friend and I, who have been able to get together all summer, caught up on everything from our kids' lives, our health and detox efforts to new recipes and restaurants to try.

I also managed to burn quite a few calories. Using the calories burned calculator found here: I found out that I burned 604 calories on my morning hike.

Exercise and camaraderie. You really can't beat it.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Every time I find a great new weight loss blog, I just love to toot its horn. Well, BitchCakes is the place to go if you want a little sass and vinegar in your weight loss journey:

The lady who writes this blog bikes 50-plus miles around Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens etc., on a pink one speed bike (with matching pink water-bottle) in a leopard tank top, skirt and black pumps!!!

She also writes some serious, thought provoking posts such as this one on thinking beyond taste:

Here's what she has to say:

Since posting my "Thinking Beyond Taste" blog, I've continued to give this concept a lot of thought. In fact, I think of it every day - especially when I am going to eat. I question why I am eating - am I eating because I am actually hungry or because I want the *taste* of something? This thought process and awareness has been life changing for me.What I have finally realized in the last few years is that losing weight is about so much more than just weighing less. I've completely reframed the entire process, and changed how I think about what I am doing. I realized that I had to stop focusing on trying to control my weight. Instead, I needed to focus on controlling my food and behaviors. By getting the food and behaviors under
control - the things I truly have control over - then the weight will be under control as a result.

Keep up the good work bitch-cakes!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

More On GMO

T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain has a great post explaining exactly what GMO is and has examples of some of the more bizarre concoctions that scientists have created. Check it out here:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Food is Making Us Fat and Sick

One of my favorite food writers, Michael Pollan, has a brilliant op-ed in the New York Times today:

I found myself just nodding in agreement with everything Michael had to say. Essentially, the biggest problem with Health Care in America today is not the health care system. The biggest problem, and the reason why we spend so much on health care is that we, as a country, eat too much junk and as a result are too fat.

According to Pollan we are spending $145 billion to treat obesity, $116 to treat diabetes and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer linked to the Western diet (i.e., lots of fat, processed foods and too many calories).

As Michael wrote here:

The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care. The president has made a few notable allusions to it, and, by planting her vegetable garden on the South Lawn, Michelle Obama has tried to focus our attention on it. Just last month, Mr. Obama talked about
putting a farmers’ market in front of the White House, and building new distribution networks to connect local farmers to public schools so that student lunches might offer more fresh produce and fewer Tater Tots. He’s even floated the idea of taxing soda.

I'm all for taxing soda and junk food. Let's get real, the country is going broke and they need to raise taxes somewhere. The already tax cigarettes and alcohol, so why not tax something that is potentially even more damaging to our health? You can drink that Pepsi or Coke and eat those Twinkies, but you should pay extra for doing so to offset the health care costs you'll incur later on (which are passed on to all of us through higher insurance premiums).

Maybe the extra costs will even dissuade people from consuming junk foods, just as high cigarette taxes have worked to cut down the number of smokers.

But, it's unlikely to happen in the short term. The reason no one is focusing in on this issue is that agribusiness is so strong, that reforming the food system is politically even more difficult than reforming health care.

As Michael wrote:

But so far, food system reform has not figured in the national conversation about health care reform. And so the government is poised to go on encouraging America’s fast-food diet with its farm policies even as it takes on added responsibilities for covering the medical costs of that diet. To put it more bluntly, the government is putting itself in the uncomfortable position of subsidizing both the costs of treating Type 2 diabetes and the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup.

Why the disconnect? Probably because reforming the
food system is politically even more difficult than reforming the health care system. At least in the health care battle, the administration can count some powerful corporate interests on its side — like the large segment of the Fortune
500 that has concluded the current system is unsustainable.
That is hardly the case when it comes to challenging agribusiness. Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged
to the future. There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.
The market for prescription drugs and medical devices to manage Type 2 diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates will afflict one in three Americans born after 2000, is one of the brighter spots in the American economy. As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. There’s more money in
amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise.

It's plainly obvious that our government is not going to protect us and our children from agribusiness. We have to take the steps to just so "no" to food that has been processed to the point that it is nothing more than fat-inducing calories.

We have to vote with our wallets and not buy conglomerate food. Instead, we need to sustain ourselves with locally grown food that is not only more nutritious, but less fattening.

Just Step Away from the McDonald's Big Mac Snack Wrap

This "snack" contains a whopping 350 calories and 21 grams of fat. So just stay away.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keeping Your Weight Under Control During Menopause

I can really relate to this article:

I know that when I started going through menopause my weight just ballooned out of control. I had to drastically cut back on calories and increase the intensity of my workouts just to maintain my weight. It was like my body just started screaming "YOU CAN'T REPRODUCE ANYMORE SO YOU MUST GAIN WEIGHT SO THAT YOU WILL NEVER EVER BE ATTRACTIVE SEXUALLY EVER AGAIN."

Well, even if I can't have kids, I am not happy when I'm chubby. I don't even care about being attractive to men. I just feel better about myself when I'm thinner, and I actually feel healthier and have more energy as well.

So, if you want to lose weight (or just not gain it) as you approach menopause, do as the article says. Eat less, exercise more, drink lots of water and eat healthy. Menopause is natural, but there's no reason not to fight the weight gain.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Little Bit of Raw with Every Meal

A couple of weekends ago I took advantage of a particularly nasty, wet, rainy day to have a cook-a-thon in the kitchen. I made batches of roasted peppers, caponata and pesto to store in the freezer.

Tonight for dinner I'm taking advantage of my garden's largess by using some of the pesto I made that wet, rainy day.

Pesto is and of itself is a raw sauce, but I'm upping its raw credentials by adding a pint of sliced cherry tomatoes and a finely chopped, yellow, bell pepper into the mix.

The pesto will be tossed with the tomatoes, pepper, Romano cheese, salt, pepper and whole grain pasta for any easy dinner.

I just love having a freezer full of garden bounty!!!

Avoiding Frankenfoods

If you're trying to lose weight, you should be trying to eat as organically and naturally as possible. As I've previously written, ridding your body of toxins makes it much easier to shed fat.

So, of course, you should want to avoid genetically modified foods. The bad news is that GMO foods are creeping more and more into the food supply chain (see here: The good news is that an industry group is working to label food items free of GMO ingredients (see the same NYTs article).

Until that day comes, however, there one thing you can do now in the supermarket if you want to avoid GMO fruits and vegetables (and they're not always labeled). It's a handy trick that someone told me about. Read the little stickers with four numbers that are on every item in the produce aisle. If the first number is 8, it means it's GMO (sometimes the numbers are stamped on the bag the produce comes in as well).

Additionally, if the four numbers start with the number 4 its conventionally grown, and if they start with 9 it's organic.

So just remember "I hate eight, but if its nine it's mine."

And, if there already wasn't enough of a reason to avoid processed sugar, check this out from the NYT's piece:

The most recent agricultural sector to convert is sugar beets. Once this year’s crop is processed, close to half of the nation’s sugar will come from gene-engineered plants. Monsanto,
a major developer of such seeds, has said it plans to develop biotech wheat, and scientists are moving forward on other crops.

Eat Like a Billionaire

T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain has a great post on Dole's CEO who's going strong in his 80's thanks to a mostly raw food diet. You can read her post here:

I actually wrote about Mr. Murdock a while ago here:

It just goes to show, if you center your diet around eating primarily fruits and vegetables and exercising every day for the rest of your life, you'll not only be thinner, but healthier.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is it Better to eat Early???

I sometimes wonder about this kind of research, but here it is:

The gist is that new research on mice suggests that if you eat late at night, you're more likely to put on weight.

I actually pretty much always stop eating around 6 or 7, not so much for weight loss reasons, but I find it's harder for me to fall asleep and stay asleep right after eating.

But, I still wonder about how when you eat could impact what you weigh? Maybe it has more to do with your body wanting to consume more calories if you delay eating, it would then mirror those studies showing that people who skipped breakfast consumed more calories throughout the day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Never Mind Losing Weight, Sometimes Just Not Gaining it is a Triumph

I ran into a friend today in the midst of what I call the "dieting blues." This friend has managed to put on over 25 pounds over the last two years and began to diet and exercise in earnest over the Summer.

Her grand total in Weight loss?? Zero, zippo, zilch. She hasn't lost a single pound.

As I explained, way back when here:, if you had been gaining weight for a while, then when you start to diet and exercise, your initial efforts may only serve to stabilize your current weight.

Let me explain, in my friend's case, she had been putting on over a pound a month. That means she was consuming some 3,500 calories over what she needed to maintain her weight every month. My friend said her new exercise regime consisted of a 20 to 25 minute walk three or four times a week. A walk of that length only burns about 125 calories, so she was probably burning about an additional 1,750 calories a month.

That's a good start, it's more than half of her calorie "excess" a month. She also said she was eating less, but obviously it wasn't enough to lead to significant weight loss.

I pointed out to my friend that while she hadn't lost weight, the good news was that in the last two months she hadn't put o the extra 2 pounds she as averaging.

So, that, I pointed out was a triumph.

The next step, was, of course, to boost the intensity of her workouts and cut back even further on the calories she was eating. I suggested she try to walk faster and extend her walks to 30 minutes, and think about increasing the amount of raw fruits and vegetables she ate.

The Importance Of School Lunches

Funny, I just blogged about school lunches this morning, then I found this blog by Alice Waters over at The Huffington Post:

Our kids are our future. Let's stop feeding them crap.

It's the Most Happiest Time of the Year!!!

The kids started school yesterday. The only bummer is that my son's bus picks him up at 6:55 am!!! I now have to get up even earlier than I have been to get my power walk in so that I can be ready at 6:25 am to try to get my 14 year old son out of bed, dressed and fed before the bus comes (which isn't easy).

It was nice having the kids around, and we've done some fun things together in the last few weeks, but I have work to do. I've tried working with them home, but then I feel guilty that they just sit in the other room playing computer and video games. I took them on hikes, to the beach etc., but once they got back to the house it was straight for the electronic crack.

So, now at least they'll be a supportive, educational environment for most of the day, and, thankfully, our school system changed to a new "healthier" cafeteria menu a few years ago. The food is made with all whole grains, there are no vending machines with soda or candy, and every meal is served with fresh steamed vegetables and fresh fruit. They even banned chocolate milk above the elementary level.

So I can rest assured that they're eating right as well. I'd like to take credit for the healthy foods in school, but the credit goes to two other mothers who, a few years ago, pushed for the change. Some kids at the high school level, initially griped, but in the end everyone accepted it.

As it is, most of the parents here in town were feeding their kids nothing but whole grain pasta, bread etc. and limiting the candy and soda so it wasn't that dramatic change for them.

And, as one young figure-conscience young lady told me, it's better not to have the temptation in the lunch line when you're trying to watch your weight.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pump Up the Volume

T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain has an excellent post on meal volume and the studies of Dr. Barbara Rolls. Check it out here:

Essentially, Dr. Rolls' studies show that people who eat high volume foods lost more weight. It makes sense, eating high volume foods, i.e, raw fruits and vegetables, cuts down on caloric consumption so weight comes off and stays off. Her studies also showed that eating a salad before a meal cuts down caloric intake by 20%.