Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Days of Meals

Last weekend I had the joy and privilege of participating in a religious rite of passage--a Bat Mitzvah. I missed out on the opportunity when I was young because in those days girls didn't go to Hebrew School and did not become Bat Mitzvah.
Two of my long time friends (over 40 years) came to Phoenix for the event along with our daughters and our nephew. Of course, it was anticipated that there would be eating. I mean, we have to eat. Right? Ah, but the kind of eating we engage in is perhaps slightly different than what "normal" people might engage in to celebrate.
Friday night was an Italian meal of consequence in its quantity.
Saturday brunch after the event was an unlimited buffet. Luckily there were so many people at the event that it was difficult to get to the table too many times---although the cookie table seemed to be very easy to access hence I ate about ten rugelach.
Saturday night was Mexican--again of enormous quantities.
Sunday lunch was American. I tried really hard to be reasonable since I was already beginning to feel the "weight" of all the calories.
Sunday dinner Chinese. Again,large quantities. Very large quantities of fried and greasy (and delicious) food.
Monday we hit the gym. Hard. Went to the movies and then out for a wonderful meal of normal proportions. We even declined dessert because I think we were all aware that we were piling it on just a little too much.
In the car on the way home, I asked one friend when she was leaving. She said, "Wednesday night." I said, "Oh, only six more meals". By this time, I was counting the "meals" instead of the days.
I offered to cook at home. Something sensible. But they declined. I suppose I could refuse to go with them. I could let them go stuff themselves. But I would be jealous of the flavors and textures they would experience.
Today it will be carne asada tacos. Tonight, sushi. Tomorrow....I don't know. I am so ready to throw in the towel, to raise the white flag, to fast! I need to be rescued. I am incapable of doing it myself. I can feel my clothes, the biggest sizes I own, tightening around my waist. This is a disgustingly delicious way to spend time with my friends. Six more meals. I can make it. I'm sure I can.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More on fat and fit

I'm loving working out at the Y. It's clean. It's big. There are plenty of machines. Lots of free weights. So, yes the teacher of the aerobics class is fat. But I've been looking around at the members. Because of the Medicare Silver Sneakers program, there are many "older" people at the Y. One guy who comes regularly is 99. 99 years old and he still works out! Very motivating. Anyway, I've been looking at the grey haired people who are working out and they're all pretty slim. Some are downright skinny. So I started to look around every place I go--the supermarket, restaurants, movie theaters. I'm looking for fat old people. And I haven't found any. I see some old guys with huge bellies who look to be in their 50s or 60s and a few women who are chubby grannies but most of the much older people are slender. Uh oh. That's scaring me. I'm familiar with the research on leanness and longevity but here it is in real life. I can't find any 80 year olds who are fat!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Take out food

The closest Whole Foods supermarket is about twenty minutes from my house. I'm not actually a fan of the chain--I never understand what everyone loves about it. I drove by WF today and decided to stop in to buy a particular brand of brown rice that I know they stock. While there, my stomach started to speak to me. In fact, my stomach demanded food. So I stopped by the deli counter, picked up a rotisserie chicken and some golden beet salad.
Once home, I opened the bag containing the chicken and was shocked at it's size. I looked on the label for the weight but only the price was listed--$7.99. I estimate that the chicken weighs about 10 ounces (and that's with the skin and bones). I'm amazed. That much money for a dried out fatty chicken? Rip off.
The beets? Well, they're fresh but pretty flavorless. The worst part, though, is how much fat is mixed in with them. And it's flavorless fat. Not fruity olive oil which would have improved the taste of the dish. No. Just oil. Very little of anything else. The label at the deli said the beets were in a vinaigrette. I think someone forgot the acid because all I got was fat. Very disappointing.
And this is supposed to be "healthy" food? A puny dried out chicken and a bland flat tasting beet salad made with too much oil. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Biggest Loser recap

I had to rush to get dinner cooked before The Biggest Loser started. A dinner worthy of eating while watching the show: grilled lamb chops (all the delicious fat trimmed away), grilled veggies (crisp asparagus, red and yellow peppers, zucchini), baked sweet potato. All good. Right? Especially tasty while watching the contestants eat their soggy Subway sandwiches. BTW...those annoying on screen plugs are driving me crazy. I mean, when Jillian talks about chewing a specific brand of gum to stave off hunger. Give me a break. When the contestants spend so much screen time eating Subway sandwiches, it annoys me. If you're hungry, EAT. To me, gum is a "palate cleanser" to be chewed after a meal so I won't reach for something sweet and calorific to end the meal...not something to be chewed in place of food. Is that just me? And Subway? I haven't eaten a Subway sandwich in years. Hey, maybe that's why I'm fat!
Okay. So last night was makeover night. It is a truly a tear inducing segment each season. Amazing. Of course, I was hearbroken for the brother who was left behind. I'm hoping that in some way the show helps this kid. How is that the mother is so thin even though she lives with this family of beheomoth men?
The major thing that bothered me last night was that Bob, the trainer, told everyone to eat their sandwiches later because he wanted them to train long and hard. Eat later? They're hungry now. They need fuel for the training. Don't skip meals? Huh???? I was very upset with that scene. Did anyone else notice that? I mean, of course, they shouldn't be eating too close to the intense workout that he puts them through but they shouldn't be skipping a meal either.
Soon the contestants will be going home to finish up on their own. I really don't know who's going to win this season. Tara is an amazing athlete and she's dominated for a long time. She's an impressive woman. The kid is also very impressive and I would be happy if he won. I guess the people who are left are all pretty impressive. Even though the older woman is no where near as old as I am, I think I'd vote for her to win just because she's managed to keep up with all the younger contestants. (Notice, by the way, that I don't know everyone's name!)
Each season, I'd like for them to let us know who has regained the weight and who has remained weight stable. I'd like to know because I want to know how they remain weight stable. What are their strategies. What's different among the contestants that helps one keep the weight off and another gain the weight back.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hungry after eating?

Wow. Just read an interesting article in WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123966898930315491.html) about why eating a big meal might make you hungry sooner or even more hungry than if you had eaten a "better" meal. I've always wondered why I am sooo hungry in the morning if I've eaten a particularly splurgeful (I know that's not a word!) meal the night before, especially if I've eaten that meal later than I normally eat. I'm not usually hungry when I wake up. In fact, I can wait about two to three hours after waking up before I'm hungry enough to want to eat. But if I've eaten a meal at about 9 pm and that meal is particularly high in fat and/or sugar, I am indeed ravenous when I awaken. That has always been a mystery to me. I mean, if I've eaten lots of calories at 9 pm, I shouldn't be hungry at 6 am. When I eat a "normal" meal at 7 pm, I wake up without hunger. Huh. Interesting.
The controversey about which makes you feel full longer--fiber, protein, fat--isn't going to be solved any time soon. Volumetrics is based on the fiber theory-eat lots of low calorie high fiber/high water foods and you will stay full longer. I try that all the time. Initially I am full but not "satisfied". I want more food. Not from hunger in the gut but because I want something else. Do you understand? I'm not sure how to describe the feeling except to say that I may be "full" but not satisfied.
High protein has been favored the last few years as a way of increasing the length of satiety. That's the premise for the high protein water drinks. Same issue. Doesn't work for me in the long term. Fat? We used to teach that because fat is digested more slowly it will increase satiety. Nope. That doesn't work for me either. In fact, eating a particularly high fat meal makes me "hungry" for more. Whether that's psychological hunger or physical hunger, I'm not so sure. But when I go wild with fat (fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy all in one meal), it's hard to stop me for the rest of the day.
So, still looking for the perfect combination of foods--the magic bullet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passover Eating

Passover. It's the first full day. I've already lost interest in matzoh. In fact, I never had any interest in it. I know. I should love matzoh brie, the eggy breakfast equivalent of french toast. But I don't. And matzoh as well as all its cousins-anything made from matzoh or matzoh meal-just lays there, in my stomach, turning to lead. Not a good thing.
So I'm over it. I'll stick to potatoes for the rest of the holiday. A few years ago, during the Atkins craze, I thought that Passover was a holiday made in heaven for those on the Atkins Diet. Avoiding carbs like pasta, bread and rice is what it's all about. In fact, I figured that Passover would be the perfect time for me to try the diet. I think I lasted a few hours before a craving for starchy foods set in. According to the gurus of anti carbs, that just means that it's the right diet for me. If I'm 'craving' carbs then I certainly shouldn't be eating them. Whatever.
I ate the obligatory matzoh at the Seder last night and will do the same tonight. Then this house is a matzoh free zone for the duration. I sent the one and only box I bought with my husband. He'll display it proudly in the kitchen at work. He'll offer work mates a taste. They'll politely say "it's not that bad". Not that bad. Is that the same as "it really sucks but I don't want to insult you"?
So what about calories? One whole board of matzoh has about 110-130 calories, depending on whether it's plain or egg or whole wheat. It still tastes like cardboard. And cardboard shouldn't have calories.
I know. It's "the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate" and not out of preference but necessity. I understand the significance. I just cannot eat it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fat and Fit

I just joined the YMCA closest to my house. Not in the most desirable neighborhood but I'm a former New Yorker so I'm fine with it. I joined because when I get Medicare in June, membership will be free. Free! I love that word. Free!
Today I went to an aerobics class filled with women my age, all sizes and shapes, all fit. The teacher, thank you to the powers that be, is fat. She's in her 40s and fat. Not like 400 pounds fat but maybe like 170 pounds fat. Round. Fat. I love it. She was a very competent teacher. She performed the entire class and was not any more out of breath than any fit woman would be. I love her. I love the Y. I love the class.
For once, I didn't feel like I had to make sure my t shirt covered every bulge. Sure there were slim people in the class but the teacher was fat. Did I already say that???? The teacher was fat. I'm going to take every class she teaches.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Goals and Guilt

Just read a post from a very well known successful dietitian about setting goals for weight loss. Of course he means small goals like losing five pounds in one month or exercising four times in one week. But what happens when you don't reach that goal even if you have done everything "right"? Guilt? Feeling hopeless? Like the weight will never come off no matter what you do? I'm not sure if even short term "realistic goals are a good idea. I want to lose weight. That's my goal. Do I have to make it more specific than that? By June 1? Twenty five pounds? If I keep the goal nebulous then I have a better chance of feeling successful. One pound weight loss in two months means I've lost weight and I'm successful.
Another typical component of a "program" is making a contract--a promise to behave in a certain way for a specified length of time. I laugh at those. I treat them like a big joke. Sure. I'll sign your contract. Do you think I'll really care if I disappoint YOU? I'm the one who counts and I don't need a contract to stick to an exercise routine or to eat less ice cream. I don't know what I need to help me stick to eating more mindfully. So far, nothing has helped me keep my eye on the target. Not even the photo of the buff Dara Torres on my frig. I smile at her wash board abs every time I open the freezer to get the ice cream.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I swear it's true

Today I fit into my wedding dress (got married almost 42 years ago). Really. I did. It slipped right over my head. Zipped without a hitch. The sleeves are perfect. I was able to button all the buttons. Oh, and the Brooklyn Bridge is up for sale again today.
April Fool's Day. Sorry.