Monday, August 10, 2009
... or, maybe they don't. I'll explain in a moment.
I saw my friend over the weekend. And he told me he'd been an overweight child, but suddenly had a growth spurt and ended up underweight. He was (and he's about an inch taller than I am) 129 at the beginning of this year. But after quitting smoking, he's now about 160. He's not too worried (he was rather slight before, and now seems to be a bit better-proportioned), but it did remind me: you change your life and suddenly your body changes, too. Even if you expect it, even if you want it to, it can still surprise you.
But what I really want to talk about is the following article: www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/ma
The title is, "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch", and it discusses the rise of cooking shows in America (some of this is a tie-in to the new "Julie and Julia" movie) and the decline of actual cooking. It makes some fascinating points.
* Most cooking shows are designed to entertain, rather than teach you how to cook. Still, there is information, even in the entertainment-heavy shows.
* Cooking shows have changed from make it right to make it fast. Rachael Ray, anyone?
* Other cooking shows have evolved from mainly cooking to mainly eating. Guy Fieri, anyone?
* What does cooking really mean, in particular, scratch cooking? Is it scratch if you open a can, or spoon out some mayo that you did not make personally?
* The less cooking, the more obesity. "as the 'time cost' of food preparation has fallen, calorie consumption has gone up, particularly consumption of the sort of snack and convenience foods that are typically cooked outside the home. ... when we don’t have to cook meals, we eat more of them: as the amount of time Americans spend cooking has dropped by about half, the number of meals Americans eat in a day has climbed; since 1977, we’ve added approximately half a meal to our daily intake.
"The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity. In fact, the amount of time spent cooking predicts obesity rates more reliably than female participation in the labor force or income. Other research supports the idea that cooking is a better predictor of a healthful diet than social class: a 1992 study in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that poor women who routinely cooked were more likely to eat a more healthful diet than well-to-do women who did not."
That last point cannot be hammered home enough.
Want to eat less? Want to eat less junk? Want to have a shot at health and weight loss?
I got one word for you: COOK.
And another thing, spend time doing it.
You need not slaughter your own chickens (unless you want to; urban life tends to preclude that) or grow your own wheat, and, yes, you can use the microwave and some packaged stuff (particularly when you're away from home). But take some time. The weekends are a good time to take time, and then you can take advantage of that spent time during the week.
How do you add time and care to cooking?
Follow a recipe.
Make up your own recipe.
Shop carefully, from a list you have written by thinking about and planning a week's worth of meals.
Take care of your equipment, and the prep area.
Taste what you prepare -- and I mean taste, not grab a portion while cooking -- to assure it is seasoned correctly.
Do occasional difficult things, like cooking live lobster or deboning a chicken or making a Moroccan stew. Get outside of your comfort zone at times.
And have fun.
Fifty years ago (hell, twenty!) every home had a home cook. This was almost always a woman, though not 100% of the time. Not coincidentally, there was far less obesity then, High fructose corn syrup wasn't an issue because you ate at home and that just wasn't an ingredient you could find and use in home cooking. There were trans fats, yes, but you knew how much of them were going into your body. Salt? Sure, but you could see most of what was going to go into you. Sugar? Absolutely. But, again, you had a chance to control your intake from the very beginning. It was not just portion control at the plate, but also portion control before your food ever hit the oven, fry pan, microwave or stock pot.
People cooked. They did it here in Boston and, yes, they did it at Waikiki.
Let's bring it back.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
A catch and release program for public transportation, plus why I still don't like my driver's license picture.
Monday, August 03, 2009
This is kind of a mish-mash sort of a blog, hence the title. Plus, well, there are other reasons for said title.
I started off this week royally PO'd as I'd been gaining for four weeks in a row no matter what I was doing. I was exercising, eating well, drinking water, getting sleep, yet the scale was giving me a hard time. We can say muscle, we can say water weight, we can say sunspots or whatever, but the ugly truth was that I mainly wasn't losing inches so things were not looking good.
It kills me because, heh, if I had been cheating, at least I'd accept that, change back and move on. But being punished and NOT cheating???!! I felt, well, cheated out of the cheating. If I'm gonna gain the weight anyway, at least can it be that I had some chocolate ice cream or something? I mean, criminy, it was slow cooker Indian stew with chicken, tofu and vegetables last week. With a salad on the side, some yogurt, fruit and skim milk. Properly portion-controlled. Oh yeah, I was having a party. Not.
I didn't have ice cream, though, and I didn't use the whole thing as an excuse to have any. Hmpf. Right now I guess I just don't care about such things. I figure I'll eat them next year or so. No rush.
And that's another part of this week. A woman in my office asked me, "Do you cheat?" And I realized, well, sometimes I eat an extra few raspberries and don't record them. "No, not that! Do you have a Three Musketeers bar, or a bag of chips?" Uh, no. And, funny, I don't miss 'em. Again, if I have them again, it'll be 2010 or so, or later. Not a thousand years from now. I can wait.
Another thing - for the first time in 2 months or so, I saw my friend! We discussed, well, the usual stuff, the usual joking around. And he reported that he's still smoke-free. It's been, what, six months? Seven? More? If he can give up cigarettes forever, then surely I can defer ice cream or whatever until next year. Pshaw. It's like nothing, in comparison.
Then this weekend rolled around. Mr. J and I decided to go to Providence, which is where we lived 15 years ago. It's a pretty little city. We walked around the area, had lunch at a favorite place (where I bought myself a tee shirt in a women's medium size and yes, it fits!), etc. And then, oops, it was time to get back to the train. We walked. Fast. Uphill. Did I mention it was 83 or so? Faster. Egad.
We're not gonna make it.
I hate being sweaty.
Dammit, keep moving!
Don't talk to me.
Left, right, Hope Street.
Left, right, Benefit Street.
Left, right, North Main Street.
Holy cow, there's the station.
We made it.
With 9 minutes to spare.
And, because we're insane, we also walked home from public transportation in Boston.
Did I mention it was 79 here?
At least we weren't trying to catch a train.
We got home and it was about all we could do to have dinner and grab showers. Lots of sleeping happened on Sunday.
And then this morning?
Down 4.4 lbs.
Why the heck would I want some old Three Musketeers bar anyway?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Well, shedding my skin would certainly help with weight loss. I'm up another 1.4 lbs., which is annoying and a tad disturbing but I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing (I'm within calorie range every day, drink 10 c of water/day and am #5 on the Boston SparkAmerica fitness minutes list), so things will eventually unstick and go downwards. Eventually.
Even if I want to turn the scale into a lovely planter or objet d'art.
Still Life With Scale
Be that as it may, things are more than okay.
Last weekend, a friend we've known from online for, what, a decade? Close to it, I'm sure, well, she came up from Houston. We have never met in person before. She's behind my recipe for Mac's Cajun Dirty Bulgur. And of course the three of us (plus two others from my site on Saturday) all hit it off famously. Then she had some time to kill on Sunday before her flight so I brought her to the house.
This is remarkable not just because she is an awesome friend but also because she is MY inspiration. She lost 125 lbs. on Weight Watchers and has kept it off for a few years. Right now she is looking to drop the last 30 or so, but is in no great rush.
As you can imagine, we had some interesting conversations when it was just the two of us. We have had very similar experiences, plus she's had the experience of maintenance, or at least a semblance of maintenance.
Some wisdom and observations from her:
* There are people who are truly happy for you, people who are jealous, and people who are actively looking out for you to fail/backslide.
* Maintenance is a terrifying word, sometimes it seems easier or better to still be working on losing, versus being done and trying to stay the same. This is the case even though, with a large plateau, you are often essentially in the midst of maintaining.
* Losing face is as tough as losing weight. What happens when someone finishes, leaves and then is suddenly 50 lbs. up? They often stay away because they swore it would be different, and then it wasn't, so they stay away longer and the hole they're in is dug even deeper.
* Know the differences among regular meals, replacement meals and special meals. Eating at home is inevitably a regular meal. Replacement meals are standard restaurant fare. Special meals are things like your own wedding supper. Regular meals should be as healthy as possible. Replacements should be as healthy as possible, too, and are not enough of a special treat to warrant going off your regimen by too much and letting it all go to hell. Special meals should be rare -- but they also are, truly, a free zone. Do with that what you will.
* You can only be responsible for your own actions, your own self, your own body and your own health. Being encouraging to others is one thing -- feeling or acting responsible for them sticking with things is another matter entirely, and that way lies madness. Let people, ultimately, stand or fall on their own.
I've come out of last weekend tired but with more mental tools at my disposal.
So what if the scale is up?
It does not define me.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Today, July 20, 2009, is exactly 40 years since the lunar landing.
President John F. Kennedy, on September 12, 1962 (hey, I was 10 days old!) said:
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best..."
It's the month in review, and I assure you I will get to that, but I want to talk about that quote a bit first.
When I plunked money down for alli, for a full year at the gym, for plastic surgery, I made commitments. And I've made time commitments, as well, from walking to and from farther away bus stops to taking a Saturday for a race, to careful food shopping and recipe reading/creating/modifying/calculating/rec
ording. And you've made those kinds of financial and temporal commitments as well, haven't you?
If you have had any success at all, you've put up with something, at some time or another.
You've gone down different supermarket aisles, and bypassed the old, familiar ones. You've drunk more water, and experienced the attendant results of doing so. You've lifted weights and felt pain afterwards. You've walked and taken more time, and perhaps that has prevented you from doing something else. You've gone to bed earlier, missing out on TV or the 'net or time with your family. You've stayed away from vending machines and fast food, and cooked your own food instead. You've controlled your portions, even when you didn't want to, You've insisted on salad dressing on the side. You've passed on the birthday cake. You've gone to the gym rather than the movies. You've purchased more healthy foods, even if sometimes they were more expensive, or harder to find, or you really, really wanted a cupcake instead.
Make no mistake about it: these things are difficult. Sure they may not be in little doses, but over time there is a lot there, and it can seem taxing at times, or like a huge mountain looming ahead of you, particularly when you're first starting out. It can sometimes feel like it's not at all worth it. It can feel like every moment of every day is a struggle, particularly if success is elusive or feels like it's far away and in the past or the distant future.
But you keep doing these things, anyway. You keep on keepin' on.
We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
Do you have respect for things that come easy? Does tying your own shoes give you an enormous sense of pride and accomplishment? Most likely not, I suspect, much like how it's rare that anyone gets a medal for peeling bananas or adding two and two. The reason for that is because, for most adults (and I am not diminishing someone coming back from a stroke, etc., please do not misunderstand me -- for them, shoe-tying may be an incredible achievement, and I salute them for it), these things are easy.
But what about the stuff that's HARD? Differential calculus. XML programming. Anatomy class. Playing anything by Mozart. Making a soufflé. Dancing a minuet. Juggling five or more different-sized objects. Biomedical engineering. The legal Rule Against Perpetuities. Public speaking in front of a thousand people. Parenting a troubled child. Designing a state of the art hospital. Corporate accounting. Pitching a no-hitter. Writing a novel. Or landing on the moon.
Those things are very, very hard to do.Yet people -- and you may be one of those people -- do these things every single day. They get up in the morning, and they do them. And those things are very worthwhile, and those things are awarded with Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, or patents, or large contracts or a community's gratitude, and all of the trappings of success and appreciation.
Yes, those things are exceedingly hard.
They're almost as hard as changing your life for good, shedding your skin and becoming a new person.
Yep. They're almost as hard as permanent, sustained weight loss. The awards for permanent, sustained weight loss aren't handed out in Stockholm or Oslo. But they are awarded in your doctor's office, in your family's eyes and in your own skin.
If they can put a man on the moon, then surely you can put your life right and get on the path to health, and truck on down it. And then keep on keepin' on, and live the life. Walk the walk. Get up every morning, and just do it.
Here's the month in review.
It's been a year and a half since I started alli. I took a five-week period off recently in order to kick-start weight loss again, regroup and try a few things to try to break out of a plateau I'd been on for a month and a half or so. Hence I've taken alli for 17 months.
In the past month, I've run two 5K races and my second time was a good third less than my first. I've had an initial consultation with a plastic surgeon and am scheduled to get things tucked, trimmed and lifted on January 15th, 2010. I've gone back to taking alli. Plus I met the very beautiful Lab-Lover and Quirkles.
I gained .8 lbs. last week (which is also .8 since last month), but such is life. Overall, I've lost over 150 lbs. And I am coming to understand that I've probably plucked most of the lower-hanging fruit when it comes to weight loss. This does not mean that I have nothing left to lose, but rather that the easier (and it has been anything but easy!) stuff is gone so now it's just going to be tougher. But I'm okay with it. I keep doing what I should be doing: eating right, watching my portions, drinking water, exercising, resting, lifting, being as happy as I can be, and I'm okay with it regardless of how the scale shifts around because I know that I am giving it my all.
Except for my thigh and big ole butt, I'm within an inch or less of my personal best in all areas. And even those two areas aren't bad, as in 1 3/4" above the best for my keister and 2 1/4" above my best for my thigh. As for overall, the results are truly remarkable as I have lost a whopping 108 inches (yeah, that's no typo) from eight areas (bicep, bust, band, waist, belly, butt, hip and thigh), total. That's, er, NINE FEET of me gone. To add some perspective, I'm only 5 1/2 feet tall.
Pretty good, certainly good enough to race twice. Yesterday I buried my husband in frisbee, and he used to play in a league! Now, I was in the shade and he was in the sun, but still! I have my quiet and slow days like anyone else, but I make sure to get the workouts in, even if I'm less than thrilled to do them. I am always glad to get them accomplished.
I'm trading around 14s, 12s and 10s for pants, depending upon the cut of the garment and how stretchy it is. When I started, I was a 4x/28W. Up top I'm wearing a medium (I think that's pretty much a confirmed size 10). When I started, I was a size 3x/26W but was getting into 4x/28W tops.
I wear bracelets a lot of the time now; my wrists and hands are so much smaller. I can fit into a teeny silver bracelet I remember from college. My wedding ring is practically falling off my left middle finger. It hasn't fit my left ring finger in ages. My engagement ring is still in the safety deposit box, but it's from when I was about 40 lbs. lighter than I am now. Perhaps it's time to get it out and see if it fits.
I've got a size 10 - 12 Winter jacket for later in this year. It fits me just fine, including over the hips. Two years ago, I wore a huge 4x/28W Winter jacket. I suspect the old one would make a lovely tent. For a family of four.
Choices, choices. Respect the hard stuff. Respect yourself as you do those hard things, even if you don't succeed all the time, even if the scale is less than kind, for it does not define you. And, just as surely as the Moon circles the Earth, keep on keepin' on.
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