Monday, August 25, 2008

Pastrami and knishes, here I come

I'm leaving for NYC in the morning. For one week. Of sightseeing and eating. Hopefully the sightseeing will burn some major calories. I haven't been to Manhattan in twenty years. My homeland! I promise to climb steps whenever I can. I promise to go to the gym as often as possible. I promise to have just a bite or a lick or a taste of pizza and pastrami and a knish. Dim sum...that's going to be a tough one. I promise that I will not drink regular soda. Absolutely positively. I will avoid all desserts. And that includes Carvel hot fudge favorite. I'll do my best and it will be better than I've done in the past. No sense undoing all the pain and suffering of the last few months. Will my friends notice? Do they care???
What will I say when my friends coax me to join them in overindulgence of fattening foods? Because it will happen.
Will it all be undone in seven short days?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The power of chocolate

"Flavanol-rich chocolate may boost blood flow in the brain and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke, Boston-based researchers have reported."

Oh my goodness! Am I hurting myself by not eating chocolate?? Should I be having at least one chocolate bar a day? Or at least some chocolate ice cream? If the research is correct I could be heading for disaster.

I may have to re-evaluate my eating plan. Losing weight is supposed to be good for my health hence I have embarked on a die*t (and believe me, it's killing me!). On the other hand (because there always is another hand), this research is pretty convincing or at least I want to be convinced by it!

Funny thing is that I don't really like chocolate all that much. I don't usually crave chocolate like other women say they do. But two nights ago I had an urge, a desire, a craving for some chocolate. In truth, it wasn't for chocolate but rather for candy. See, there's a difference. I wanted some nuts and caramel coated in milk chocolate. I believe that's called a "turtle". Yum.

But I wasn't craving dark chocolate. And that's the kind that has been used in most of the research that shows a clear benefit to health. I was craving just something crunchy and sweet. So I can't really say that my body knew it needed some flavonols.

So no candy for me. I'll take my chances. I'll try to ward off a mental decline with substances other than candy. Like fresh vegetables and colorful fruits. Sigh.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Research I like

"Children carrying the first gene that has been clearly linked to obesity find it harder than others to tell when they are full, London-based researchers say. "

Ahha! There it is. The explanation. Or is it the excuse? Doesn't matter. I
m certain that I have that genetic abnormality. I'm sure of it. No need for DNA testing. I'm the unhappy bearer of that gene. For sure. Absolutely.

But, then again, I do know when I am full. When I've had enough. I just choose to keep going. Not indefinitely. But certainly past the point of "full" especially if the food tastes food. That's what it always comes back to. Good tasting food. If it weren't for taste, then I would be slim and trim.

But switching to foods that don't taste so great doesn't work for me. I won't eat them. Not a bite. Hunger notwithstanding. Instead, I'll go seeking. I'll shop, cook, bake, do whatever it takes to find something that tastes good. Something that pleases my palate.

Olympic Dreams

I want Dara Torres' body. The ripped abs. The muscular arms. The tight butt. I want it all. What does Dara eat? Did she have Chinese food for dinner last night? I mean, the kind of Chinese food I had for dinner. Did she have a smoothie for breakfast this morning? Like the one I had....with chocolate syrup in it. Is she already dreaming about tonight's dinner? Fried chicken, perhaps? Hmmm. Probably not.
Achieving the body that Dara Torres has is probably out of my reach. But I can dream. In my dream, Chinese food and smoothies made with chocolate syrup are part of the Olympic diet that creates a taut butt.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Watching TV commercials

Two pizzas, bread sticks, chocolate dunkers and one liter of Pepsi for a bargain price. That's the Pizza Hut commercial that's been running for a few weeks now. If you've got kids, it is indeed a bargain. But at what "price"? It's a simple carbohydrate lover's dream, bread, cake and soda. And we wonder why Americans are fat?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Slowly I've lost interest in dieting (aka losing weight) just as I lose interest in all things eventually. I'm bored with focusing on meal choices based on their "legality" instead of on taste. I'm not hungry but I have a strong appetite for foods that just won't work for me now. And mostly I'm so over trying to decide where to eat when I have to eat out and what to cook when I eat at home. I cannot choose a restaurant because a particular dish calls to me. I have to choose a restaurant because they offer some sort of plain Jane dish that is prepared without extra fat and offers up either a potato (legal) or lots of veggies....since brown rice and whole grain pastas are not common in restaurants.
Cooking dinner has become laborious now that I do not have free reign to create whatever I want but must stay within the confines of what is okay on a diet. I could try to get interested in creating healthier fare but cooking that way just doesn't give the same glorious results so it's not as satisfying to me.
One of my gym buddies mentioned that she baked a chocolate cake this past week. As soon as she said that, I realized that it's been months since I baked. I love to bake. I miss baking. Sure, I could whip up some sticky mess of brownies made with prunes to substitute for fat. Oh, yum. That sounds....disgusting.
I think it's time to take out some cookbooks....healthy motivate myself to prepare some tasty lower calorie fare. Not treats. My body doesn't respond well to going outside the strict guidelines of just plain foods. Or maybe it's just that I eat too many calories of "food" and there's no wiggle room left for treats. That may, indeed, be the case.
So I'm stuck here in "just plain foods hell" for eternity. Maybe it's what I deserve for my evil thoughts of creamy ice cream paired with thick hot chocolate fudge topped with hundreds of maraschino cherries. Oooooh. I just thought of something. I used to love to eat ice cream along with a bag of potato chips. To quote the annoying Rachel Ray, "Yummo". Sweet, creamy, cold paired with crunchy and salty. Heavenly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baby fat

My youngest child just turned 32 years old. Can I blame her for my weight? Well, not blame her exactly but can I say that I'm still carrying around the weight I gained with my last pregnancy? That would be a great excuse. I like that. People accept that women gain fat during pregnancy and it's well accepted that it is a struggle to get back to the pre-baby body after giving birth. So, that's what I'm going to do. Put the onus on my last pregnancy as the cause of my fatness. Of course, at my age I'll never return to the pre-baby body I had 32 years ago.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Truth in Dieting

Honesty is not a problem for me unless I am expected to be honest with myself. Ask me how you look and I'll tell you--right down to the details about how there's a thread hanging from your butt or your bra strap is showing or that pimple on your face is distracting. So I can be honest with you but I cannot be honest with myself about what I eat and how much I weigh--even in private.
If I'm keeping a diet journal, I lie. I write down what I should be eating instead of what I am eating. Even if I know that no one else will be reading the journal. The fiction of my intake is only for my eyes but I still cannot be honest.
Measuring my waist with a tape measure usually means holding the tape so tightly that I stretch it a bit. That's the way I make sure I've arrived at a measurement that appeals to me.
I am honest if I share the info. I'm only dishonest if I am keeping it to myself.
And it's not like I'm psychotic. I know I'm lying to myself. I don't care. I do it anyway.
If I showed you my diet journal (which, by the way, doesn't exist!), I would probably cross out the bogus entries and correct them for your viewing.
In my little Sharon world, I have to be perfect. As perfect as I can be even if it is a fantasy perfection. I know YOU know I'm not perfect. You've got eyes. You can see for yourself. You don't need me to corroborate what you see. But I see what I want to see and I want to see a perfect Sharon and that's what I do see.
Imagine my shock when I see a photo of myself or somebody points out my imperfections!
If I don't adopt "truth in dieting" pretty soon, I'm going to fail at this attempt to reduce my fatness.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Food commercials

Fried chicken overflowing the bucket. Piping hot pizza with cheese oozing out of the crust. Double burgers adorned with cheese and bacon. Just three of the images assaulting me daily on TV. So I started to wonder why it seems that all the food commercials are for high calorie foods. Is it that we wouldn't choose the high calorie foods if we didn't see them in all their delicious glory on the small screen? Do the fast food restaurants really need to advertise in order to get us to eat their food? Why aren't there commercials for broccoli? Carrots? Tomatoes? Broiled fish?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The sad truth about the human body

Calories in vs calories out. That's what energy balance is. And that's supposed to explain in very simple terms why "we" ("I") are fat. Burn more calories than you consume and you will lose weight. Burn less calories than you consume (e.g., eat too many calories) and you will gain weight. Sure seems simple enough. But that's simplistic. Not simple.
There are also other factors involved-hormones for one. And I'm not just referring to the hormones most people think about-estrogen and testosterone. There are many others, like ghrelin for instance, that impact how we eat and what happens to the food after we eat it.
So glancing at a fat person's cart in the supermarket and presuming that she is fat because she seems to have emptied out the chips aisle isn't a fair assessment.
Okay. Chances are if you (I, we, whoever) eat chips and drink soda and eat McDs and gorge on ice cream and never get off the couch...chances are you are going to get fat and stay that way until you make some major changes--hormones notwithstanding.
But even if you eat moderately, with occasional interludes of immoderation, your hormones, your heredity, your age, your gender, your state of mind, may be working against you. That's why your neighbor might be chowing down on ribs while you eat fish and only one of you gets fat!
And that's why I'm angry at my husband today. Not his fault. Well, not his fault because he was born a man and therefore loses weight more easily than a woman. But, still, I'm allowed to be mad at him. We eat together. We cheat on our diets together. We are both bad and good influences on each other. He eats bread, he uses butter, he adds sugar to his coffee. These things he does every day. He only exercises once a week or so because of time constraints. I, on the other hand, virtuous woman that I am, do not eat bread, do not use butter, do not use sugar and work out two hours a day. I lose nothing. He loses one pound.
Justice? Where is the justice!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My distorted thinking

Here's the thing. I can't lose any more weight until after Labor Day. Here's why. I'm sure this will make sense to everyone. It makes sense to me. I've been to the dressmaker. She's finishing up the outfit I'll be wearing to a wedding in NYC over Labor Day. If I lose any weight, it won't fit properly. So I can't lose any more weight.
Of course, if I gain weight it won't fit either. That's a dilemma. Weight stable. How to maintain this weight for another three weeks. Is it possible?
And even if I lose weight, I will probably only lose a pound or two. That's been the pattern. So why am I worrying?
I'm not worrying, of course. I making excuses for eating out lunch tomorrow, dinner on Friday and Saturday night and lovely Chinese food on Sunday night with friends to celebrate the Olympics!
So I have a distorted way of arriving at conclusions that are only slightly rational. This one, admittedly, is a bit less than slightly rational.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I've roasted it, stewed it, sauteed it, grilled it, poached it, and fried it. I'm bored with it. Chicken. Low fat. Low cholesterol. Low interest. It tastes like chicken. Every time. Chicken with flavors added to it. It's not bad but it's boring. Years and years of chicken breast. White meat, sometimes dry, sometimes moist. Skin off. Dread. That's what I feel when I start to think about what to cook for dinner. It's not what to cook for dinner but how to make chicken breast.
Oh, sure, there's fish to consider and lean cuts of other meats but let's face it, most of us on a weight loss program will be preparing chicken for dinner tonight. Sauced up or marinated or spread with some rub but it's still chicken.
The problem (as if there were only one!) with dieting is that you feel like the number of foods available to your for eating are limited. Of course, that's not completely true. The preparation methods are limited but the actual number of foods are limitless.
Still dieting feels confining. It makes me want foods that I normally don't even think about. Well, I think about them but not as much as I think about them when I know I shouldn't be having them!
So, chicken tonight. Would love to pound it, bread it, fry it, top it with mozzarella and tomato sauce, bake it to melt the cheese and serve it with pasta, garlic bread and broccoli sauteed with garlic. An old favorite from NY style Italian restaurants. Yum.
Forget it. Roasted or grilled. No skin. Served with steamed veggies. A salad.
There's more to life than fried chicken. Right?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Secrets of Successful Weight Loss

The following "secrets" appeared in an article in Today's Dietitian, a magazine for Registered Dietitians. The very well researched article was written by an RD, LuAnn Soliah.
The "secrets" are based on research gathered from people who had been successful at losing weight, whether with a program or on their own. BTW...if you are interested in this information, you might like to read a book by Anne Fletcher called Thin for Life. She interviewed dieters who had maintained their weight loss for several years. The information she gathered is not that different from what is presented below.

Here's the 7 "Secrets" from the Today's Dietitian article:

The Seven Secrets of Successful Weight Loss
1. The dieters consume a low-kilocalorie, low-fat diet. The participants consume 1,300 to 1,680 kilocalories per day, 25% of which are from fat.
2. The dieters have a consistent food intake from day to day, and they eat about four to five times per day.
3. The dieters consistently eat breakfast.
4. The dieters are very physically active. The average person in the database exercises for about 60 to 90 minutes per day at moderate intensity. If they choose to walk, they take about 11,000 to 12,000 steps per day, which is the equivalent of almost 6 miles.
5. The dieters frequently weigh themselves—weekly or even daily.
6. The dieters limit their television viewing to less than 10 hours per week.
7. The dieters do not allow even a small amount of weight gain to occur without corrective action. They deliberately respond to small weight gains by reducing their food intake and/or increasing their exercise level.

The results of the study seem intuitive to anyone who has ever dieted. Exericse? Duh! Of course. You cannot maintain the loss without exercise. Limit TV? Duh! Couch potatoes don't usually do really well at maintaining weight loss. Eat breakfast? Your mother was right. Consistent food intake? Oh, so important. We all know we shouldn't skip meals. We should eat when we're hungry. Low calories? Well, double duh!
The one issue that may seem strange to anyone who has studied weight management programs is that the dieters weighed themselves sometimes as often as daily. Many programs, like WW, frown on this. Body weight fluctuates daily, sometimes throughout the day, depending on how much you've eaten but mostly depending on fluid balance. We wake up in the morning depleted of food and fluid and we weigh less. We eat, store fluid in our cells and add the weight of the food we've just eaten and our body weight rises.
Women who are pre-menstrual might see a body weight increase of up to 5# without any actual changes in fat mass.
I'm not a fan of weighing because of that. I'm much more in favor of measurements-waist, thigh, hips. The problem with that is you would probably not see an increase in those with small increases in body weight.
But, truthfully, I think we who diet know when we've gained weight because we know when we have strayed enough from the regimen to make a difference. I can truly gain 5# in one weekend of eating. Some french fries, a little fried chicken (well, maybe not a little), a few Pepsis, three or four slices of pizza and one pint of ice cream and voila, I've gained weight. But anyone would expect to gain weight on that diet! No surprises there.
On the other hand, someone could gain a pound or two just eating a little bit more than usual and exercising a little bit less. To keep that kind of weight gain in check, I guess that periodic weighing is in order.
The Seven Secrets seem so obvious and so easy. So why are we fat??? Because it's not that easy. And those aren't secrets. And if they were indeed easy to follow, we wouldn't be fat.
No one has yet found the one secret and that's what I'm waiting for. The secret that will help me stick to the other seven!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Curmudgeon Day

It's one of those days. I'm feeling curmudgeonly. I'm pissed about the "healthy halo" (I'm going to trademark that expression...I really like it) effect of adding pomegranate or acai juice or any of the other so-called miracle ingredients to foods. Just because a breakfast cereal is high in fiber doesn't make it the best choice. And water that has vitamins dissolved in it is really no different than swallowing your morning vitamin with a glass of water. It's just more expensive. "Smart Water"? Does anyone really feel smarter after drinking it? I'm so over all of this manufactured hype.
People will spend money on promises not backed up by science but they'll continue to smoke or damage their bodies in ways that are backed up by science.
And meal replacement bars. Ugh. Gross. I've never tasted one that was worth eating unless it was full of nuts, held together by caramel and dipped in chocolate. Oh, wait, that's a candy bar not a meal replacement bar.
If what I need is some calories to hold me over until the next meal and I'm willing to eat 250 or more calories from a "bar" then I'm picking a Snickers bar. Not a sandy, smelly, manufactured mess of ingredients molded to look like a candy bar but tasting like sawdust.
Just because something contains soy doesn't make it good for you. I love watching people chowing down on edamame in restaurants. Sure, they are actually a good snack. But they are high in fat...hello...where do we get soybean oil from? Soybeans! What are edamame? Soybeans. And people eat them as though they were green beans. Not. That's like dipping your bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter. Sure, olive oil is less saturated and has the "healthy halo" but it's still fat, it's got the same calories as butter.
Am I the only one who feels this way?
Perhaps the dieting is getting to me. Except that I am not dieting. Have not been for weeks. Trying to stay true to the spirit of eating healthier but I've given up the lists and the dos and don'ts. No more weigh ins. I'll save the $13 a week that I was spending going to the meeting to be weighed.
I have the scale at the gym figured out. I know that it registers two pounds heavier than the WW scale. I'll be my own WW leader. Applause for me when I lose. Scornful look when I gain. Sigh when I maintain.