Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stuffed to the guilts!

Well, a party we held yesterday really put me off my game. Tim made his famously yummy pizza and I made lowfat chicken chili and a big salad. I tried both, but I did have a few pieces of Tim's' pizza. I was full! Now I'm also full of guilt.

I didn't eat much again until I got hungry later in the day, and then I had another couple pieces of pizza and popcorn. The kids said the popcorn didn't have enough butter, but I felt greasy and unhealthy. I think this is where Amy's (Skinny Chick No. 2) comments about eating without guilt, but then getting on track comes in. I have to get back on track. But I feel terribly guilty. I am noting how those feelings make me feel much more prone to throwing in the towel and saying, "oh well, I'll start again on Monday." But I'm trying not to have that attitude. Instead, I had an orange this morning and one big ol' pancake without syrup. I'm full again, but I'm not too full. I'm not eating anything else until I am hungry. I'm going to take my dog for a walk, ride my horse and get outside!

I'm discovering that I really hate feeling guilty. It's not the feeling that resides in the front of my consciousness. It's really more of an undertone that colors the whole day. I'm more snappish and negative as a whole. I think what I have to do learn to do is really think about what I want. I love Tim's pizza, and if I want a couple pieces, I have to sit and eat them consciously, not have anything else (that's just adding calories), and enjoy them. Feel satisfied from having one or two (note: Tim cuts his pizza in 2" squares, so it's not like they are 8" slices).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get off your butt! (and I'm down 2 more pounds.)

One of my skinny friends recently sent me this interesting article from the New York Times which really hammers home the idea that you spend about 16 hours a day in activity other than sleeping, and much of that is sitting—which makes you fat! Even if you exercise for one of those 16 hours, that still leaves 15 hours at your discretion. So do you take the stairs instead of the escalator? Do you park far away and then walk the distance to your work door? Do you walk your dog or let them out the back door to do their duty? Do you go up and down the stairs in your home when you are cleaning or do you pile stuff on the stairs and then carry it all up in one load?

This was especially fascinating to me because I so often pride myself on getting rock star parking, efficiently moving items around the house and having a back yard for my dogs. But if I were a little less practical about time and a lot more practical about exercise, I would burn more calories. So, I have to changing my thinking to "How do  I get the most bang for my exercising buck during the day?"

On the good news front, I have lost two more pounds. I attribute it solely to focusing more on what skinny chicks do rather than hating myself for every less-than-stellar choice I make.

Now, I'm going to cut this post short so that I can run up and down my stairs to do laundry and get my house cleaned up! (Thanks Amy/Skinny Chick No. 2 from my previous post.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A great cook who's also a Skinny Chick says her workout is at home.

Skinny Chick No. 2 is someone I knew a long time ago when I was in college. I haven't spoken to her in more than a decade, but I just discovered she's a friend of a friend who hooked us up. I'm delighted to get reacquainted and share Amy's story because she's always struck me as a very sensible, elegant woman, far beyond her years (she's 34 now and I'm 47, and I think she is still more balanced than I).

Amy, now married to a physician and living in another state with their two young daughters, has really never had much of a weight problem. She's also a terrific home cook and baker who can be hired to make "down home" desserts for others, whether it's a white cake with butter cream frosting for a birthday party or treats for a child's classroom. Amy developed her love of cooking and baking in England where she attended graduate school. Although antiques and art were the focus of her career goals of working in an auction house, making food was her delightful hobby. "For me, learning how to cook and bake was a stress reliever."

When she married her husband 10 years ago, he had two sons age 10 and 12 who would only eat hot dogs and drink pop. They thought they were allergic to other foods (or just wouldn't eat them). But Amy, who says she's "a tough love kind of person," cooked regular meals and expected them to try everything. And they did. And they now will eat anything. She raises her daughters, ages 5 and 6, the same way, and they'll eat anything from calamari to cauliflower. Every night, she cooks a real meal of protein, starch, vegetable and fruit for dinner. A typical meal is breaded pork chops, roasted broccoli, pasta side dish and fruit salad. The night before our interview she made pasta with meat sauce, a vegetable salad and jello and fruit salad. She also manages to eat dessert every day. "I have a sweet tooth," she confesses. Amy's skinny chick philosophy is that you shouldn't agonize over what you eat too much or you'll get into trouble.

So, this isn't a story about a woman who watches every morsel that goes into her mouth and spends an hour in the gym several times a week. Amy doesn't deny herself anything, and she doesn't waste her time feeling guilty. If she eats a cupcake for a snack, or even two in one day, she doesn't worry about it. Her thoughts are on enjoying what she's eating, and then she moves on. (I'm acknowledging here that when you are losing weight, two cupcakes might be difficult to balance into a loss for most of us.)

Having said that, this doesn't mean that Amy's thoughts are the same as a Fat Chick's who might be thinking, "I can eat this, and I can eat that" with the sound of furious gobbling and gulping as accompaniment. The key difference with Amy is her lack of Guilt. She's not embarrassed and she's not wishing she could take it back (or get it out). She's not hiding it from others or thinking about hiding it from others. She's also thinking about how much she enjoys the flavor and taste of the food rather than simply the act of eating. Do you get that? It means eating isn't just busy work for Amy. It's about enjoying the flavors and the taste. And the eating of the food isn't immediately forgotten. She's mentally balancing her consumption for the day as well as the week at the time she's thinking about what to eat.

Amy eats when she's hungry and she eats what makes sense to her given what she'll be eating later in the day, what she likes and what's healthy. The difference is that she knows her body and knows what she likes and then takes both into account. Amy relishes her food. Take her breakfast, for example. Except on special occasions, every day for breakfast for the past five years, she has two pieces of whole grain toast—one with peanut butter and honey and the other with peanut butter and jelly—and coffee with cream and sugar. She just loves that meal. "I look forward to breakfast because it's one of my favorite meals," she said. "I really like that toast in the morning."

Morning is her hungry time. She has breakfast between 6:30 and 7:30, but will eat a few more small meals until about 1 p.m.,  but it's always something she likes. It could be leftover slices of apple from one of her daughters, some leftovers from the night before or even a sandwich if she knows her lunch is going to be light because of an activity at that time. But she's always calculating how it fits into her day. For example, if she's going to make a favorite dish of hers for dinner, she's going to eat a little less for lunch so that she's good and hungry for that dinner. "I'm going to make sure I can really enjoy the food." That's in huge contrast to me, who will eat what she likes and doesn't plan ahead. Or rarely even plans ahead. And washes it all down with a huge gulp of guilt. Amy knows in advance what she'll be eating for dinner or lunch. She often takes food out of the freezer the night before to prepare, or she'll shop for something that sounds good to her in the afternoon. The key difference is that she's not eating to eat, she's eating for real pleasure. She's choosing foods she likes, that are healthy and that satisfy her hunger. "For me, food is a wonderful pleasure," she says. "I just don't make it an everyday issue."

That's a major thing with Skinny Chicks. They develop a routine so that they don't have to think about eating from minute to minute. They know how much food to put on their plate to fit the right amount of calories. (Amy plates her food in the kitchen, rather than serving family style because it reduces dishes. I serve family style, probably in case I want a second or third helping.)  They know their bodies and what they will need to eat and when. Their eating becomes regulated because they are thinking about what their body is doing and what it likes and how it maintains what they are doing. Their metabolism isn't confused by the irregular habits. There's no need for starvation mode because they aren't ever starving. How many of you have no idea what the amount of food is that will help you maintain your weight? I know that I don't know. My food life is different day-to-day.

Now on to exercise—and this is the fun part. Amy, who has been at home with her kids, really does work at home. It's her first focus—not food! She cleans her own house, irons her own clothes and spends 3 to 4 hours in the kitchen every night cooking and then cleaning up every night. And she considers it a workout. "In thinking about the friends I have, they are part of a gym, but they still seem to have a lot of struggles with maintaining their weight. I think they are thinking about it too much and focusing on it too much. They don't do enough around their house." Amy says she's up and down her stairs many times a day (she knows some people who are never upstairs until bed time). She vacuums her busy areas at least once a day. She never watches daytime television and actually has a spring (and probably fall) cleaning schedule. She's at home, working on her house most of the day. If she does have an errand over the lunch hour, she throws a cut up apple, some nuts and a can of V-8 juice in her bag. At night, she will occasionally do her ironing (at the time of our interview, she had an hour and a half of linen ironing from two recent parties she hosted, which she planned to do that evening after the girls were in bed). Basically, she's going from morning until night. Her home and her life are tightly organized ships, and it shows.

I recently read about a study in which two groups of hotel housekeepers were tested in terms of exercise and fitness. Then, one group was told to just keep doing everything the same as always, and the other was told to think about the workout they are getting while they cleaned, to really focus on how their muscles were working to get the job done. After just two weeks, the women who were thinking about all they were doing had noticeable weight loss and muscle improvement. This was in a book about how your mind can really improve the benefits of what you do if you are conscious about it. 

I do a great job cleaning on Saturdays, but I do very little other than make dinner during the week. After our conversation, I've resolved to get up from my computer every hour and do 15 minutes of cleaning, whether it's dusting, vacuuming or dishwashing. I might even wash my floors during the week on this plan or scrub a tub or shower. I'm also going to think about the workout. Fun!

At 5'7" and 143 pounds and a six 6 or 8, Amy says she's at the perfect weight for her. "I wouldn't mind being 135, but I don't want to work at being 135. I don't want to give up eating what I eat," Amy says. Part of the problem, she says, is that she watches her friends who strive to be much thinner than their comfortable weight and end up being much heavier because it weighs on their minds. Right now, she's able to think, when her body tells her she needs to eat, "what do I want to eat," not "what should I eat to stay thin." After all, it must be comforting to know she's going to eat dessert every day. That way, she never has to binge on 10 cupcakes or eat half a cake in one sitting.

"You can lose weight any way you want," she says. "You can go on a chocolate diet (just eating 1,200 calories of chocolate a day). So I don't think people should ever eliminate foods from their diet. That's not realistic." For Amy, thinking about what you like, then eating it in moderation and without guilt is much healthier, and it works great for her.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Failure to exercise

I'm on the verge of a new post with a new skinny chick and I think, based on my own failures, it has to be about exercise. I have had a membership at a gym for about four months and I've been there once! That is terrible. Yes, I do other exercise, but as is evident by my figure, it is sporadic at best. I like exercise and there's lots of time that I want to go, but I just don't. I'm wondering what the skinny chicks do. Yes, yes, they make it a part of their day. But what are the thoughts that get them to take action? I'm going to figure this out. I have this overwhelming sense of lethargy that is difficult to overcome. I think some of it has to do with mental fatigue -- taking on three children is definitely exhausting--but it's time that excuse went by the wayside. After all, Kate plus 8 is thin and she's got eight (although I think her method of venting the moment a little bit of anger hits her might help).

Eating is going better, but I haven't been great at writing everything down. Sometimes when I think I'm doing well, I slack. I've got to remember that when I do that, I am likely eating things that I am forgetting. That's how I got in this mess. So, I'm going to write down everything from pineapple to peanut butter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A few Skinny Chick/Hefty Chick comparisons.

This weekend, I was at a business class and they told us they would serve us lunch, which would be sandwiches. Woopsie! It was pizza. So I had a couple pieces. Nearby was a skinny woman who also doesn't eat any gluten and she had—no surprise here—packed her lunch. She had a beautiful spinach salad with beets, walnuts, feta cheese and a few other yummy surprises. She also had a nice piece of gluten-free banana bread and yogurt or something. I wish I had done that.

I remember when I was thin, I would NEVER have eaten at the concession stand at a hockey, football or any other game. At the hockey game the other night, I hadn't eaten, so I had a hot dog (better than Tim who had nachos, a brat, popcorn and a soda). What's up with that? Of course, it was a surprise to get the tickets and my resistance was slacking due to a Scott Ol' Fashioned (made by my friend Scott who is superb at it). What happened to just being hungry until something better came along?

So, since doing the story on Jill, I've been thinking more about what I'm going to eat during the week. I will stick to sandwiches and salads, since that's easy and yet provides lots of variety. I am going to make that walnut and beet salad because it looks so good! I'm also putting a few healthy snacks in bags tonight and keeping them in my fridge where they are easy to grab. Also water bottles filled in advance. I have those nifty metallic ones, but I think I need to put them out so they are easier to grab when the kids are around.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My first skinny chick!

Below is my first "thin person" interview.  I'm hoping to have several of these each week. In most cases, I will not use their real name. Their name doesn't matter, but their story does.

This week, I learned a lot from the woman I'm going to call Jill. She's a busy mom and career woman. She has a very quick mind, but focuses more on enjoying her life rather than nurturing her home, her friends, her family and herself. Having said that, she's a very caring person and is called "fun" by everyone who knows her. She's not afraid to hug a person or to help out. And, while she's not at all a selfish person, she definitely thinks about how her decisions and those of others will affect her and has a healthy sense of self. She's definitely not going to eat something fattening just to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

The thing about Jill is that she has a knockout figure. Very athletic looking and not at all frail, but her legs and waist are slender while still having plenty of curves. Although it would appear that she is "naturally thin," the truth as she tells it is that she works at it every day.  Her life is a picture of constant balance and restraint. She's a planner, she says, and will think ahead about what she'll eat all week at work, when she has client meetings over lunch, what her plan is for exercise after work and what they are doing on the weekends. She'll pick up what she needs at the grocery store. It's not a laborious process, just a natural part of her thoughts.

When Jill wakes up, she's often not at all hungry and will eat a bowl of healthy cereal with skim milk simply because she must "for her health." Her primary focus for most of her daytime hours isn't food, but rather beverages such as coffee or tea with fat-free milk. She has purposefully chosen those beverages because they cut her appetite, she says.

Her food during the day is largely limited to a thin sandwich, a granola bar of some sort and a banana. "I can go for long periods without eating," she says. "And I don't have two meals a day." Which brings us to dinner. If Jill had lunch with a client at a restaurant, she won't deprive herself really. She'll eat a salad or a sandwich without fishing half of her ingredients (such as cheese or the bun) off the plate. She'll just quietly eat slowly until she's full and then stop. She won't have soup and a sandwich unless they offer 1/2 portion. There's no dessert, and she's not about to eat a plate of fries on the side.

When she does have that lunch out with a client, then for dinner she might have a yogurt or a small bowl of cereal, and nothing more.

She works out two to three times a week, and it's usually 30 minutes of cardio. Jill's not a superathlete who is busting herself in a full-out workout. It's just a consistent 30 minutes at a good rate. She might lift a few weights as well. There are times when she'll only go to the gym once a week, but rarely does she show up four times a week. She also is active in the sense that she likes to go out dancing with her husband or friends and is happy to do anything that's mildly active, but she's not a superathlete who will do several triathlons a year. She doesn't run, doesn't really hike and only occasionally rides a bike outdoors. Yet, if she can't get to the gym, she'll get a little troubled.

Jill attributes her thin figure to the fact that her behaviors are consistently more healthy than not healthy. "I have consistently worked out for 10 years," she said. She only eats one "meal" a day, the rest being small snacks. And she knows her weak spots and plans for them.

"The only time I have a craving is when I get home at 5;30. I want to eat right away. The problem is that I don't eat much during the day, so if I have something in the house for the kids, like Cheese Its, then I'll grab a handful and munch on them while I cook dinner for the kids." But, unlike fat people, Jill wouldn't think of eating the entire box. "I might grab two or three handfuls, which ends up being two or three portions. So I'm careful to eat just one handful."

She also likes a bit of sweet every day, but she chooses to add honey to some warm milk at night or to have a cup of sugar-free fat-free international coffee. Sometimes she'll have a bowl of ice cream on Sunday nights. In fact, weekends are the only time she really lets herself slack a bit. She limits alcohol to weekends as well as larger family meals, usually just dinner.

Other pitfalls just aren't her problem. Although her children live on chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza and the like, she doesn't (and wouldn't) ever eat that. And if anything is left on their plate, she wouldn't think of eating it. "I don't like to touch other people's food."

Jill said she wasn't always healthy. "When I look at photos of me in my 20s, I think I looked heavy. At that time, I didn't work out, I couldn't tell you how much fat or carbs was in anything. I smoked and drank all the time."

Her current lifestyle is predictable and easy to maintain, Jill says. And she prefers it that way. "I'm conscious of maintaining that balance."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Thin People Think

Yay! I'm down 2 pounds. I weighed in two days early and I'm already down 2 pounds. That's without really kicking in the exercise. It just shows what watching what you eat can do. I'm still not quite where I want to be, but a big part of that process has been started.

As some of you know, I'm not just a blog writer, but a writer in real life (as opposed to Internet life). I've recently decided to put my skills to work to help me get on top of this issue. I'm going to start interviewing Thin People because I think they live so much more differently when it comes to making choices than I do. Case in point: read Ann's comments from one entry ago. She counts calories every day, not just right after she had a baby and has been doing so since she's about 12. She also can't imagine eating in a supermarket as she shops or eating a full meal when she's already full. She just doesn't think like fat people.

I have a client who works with businesses and executives to create better communication and interpersonal skills, not to mention sales skills, and she has said to me repeatedly that it's not about what those people do that affects their behavior, it's about what they think. It's your thinking that creates your behavior. So, I'm going to mine the minds of Thin People and see what they think about and how they think about themselves and food.

If you know any thin people whom I should interview, let me know by email. I'll keep all names confidential, unless they prefer that I don't, and will post my results here. I'm also looking for previously fat people to interview who are now Thin People, to see what they noticed changing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Making friends with Hunger

Well, I'm doing it. I'm getting hungry. It's been months since I've really been hungry. Oh, I've been hungry when I've walked into a grocery store, but I'm not counting that. That's hunger triggered by a situation. False hunger, if you will. I'm talking about whoa-mama-I-have-to-eat hunger. The kind that goes away if you ignore it for 20 minutes, only to return with a vengeance a half hour later. The kind of hunger that means you're burning calories. That's the kind of hunger I hadn't been speaking to directly for a looooong time.

So, yesterday's plan of letting Perfect Sue pick my food really worked! Especially now that I'm making friends with hunger. I ate very well: nitrate-free ham and whole grain bread sandwich, packed into baggies so that I can have one for a snack and the other for lunch. And two bags of pretzels, and two bags of carrots. Two bottles of water, one with a little juice added. It was fabulous! I had a little snack of spinach salad just before I left, but I was still hungry. During the day, as I drove to my client's home in Northern Illinois, I had to make a couple emergency calls to avoid my usual trick of stopping at a gas station to buy crappy food to alleviate my hunger. Karen didn't answer, but my Auntie did. She very halpfully reminded me that I REALLY NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT. Hello? I have a blog about it, so I think I know. Just kidding. I know her heart's in the right place.

Anyway, I was slightly hungry pretty much all night. I didn't have popcorn, and when my other Sue friend, Svelte Sue, came to the movie we were all at with a ginormous KitKat bar, I still held off. I let Perfect Sue order (it was actually a collaboration). I got a salad with veggies and balsamic vinegar and a plate of steamed mussels. It was perfect, but I was still hungry. Then when Karen ordered fries and sat them right behind me, I did great at not ordering them. So proud.

Today was a little tougher. I did have a muffin at the store. It's weird, but I have been hungry all day, even after I eat. I think I'm in some kind of weird transition. I've been eating -- I had half a ham and cheese sandwich that Tim made for me, and a little something for breakfast, but no matter what I put in my mouth, I'm still staving. I'm ok right now, but I just keep drinking water. It's all good, though. I'm really proud of the progress. I'm weighing my foods, I'm letting myself get hungry, I'm really thinking about how I'm making food.

Tonight I made lasagna with venison, organic cottage cheese and fat free tomato sauce. I only put the mozzarella (part skim) cheese on the top layer instead of all three like I usually do. And you can actually see sauce beneath the cheese, a new one for me. Usually it's so thick! I can have one piece of this lasagna, which also has spinach, onions and mushrooms in it.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have just had the greatest idea when it comes to eating out. Let someone else order for you!

Last night I went to the Overture Center to hear Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer of "Eat, Pray, Love," a book that seriously saved me when I was going through The Horror three years ago (to the day this week). I went with my friends Doug and Samara, both ridiculously thin. Samara writes food articles for the local paper and so she always knows where to go and we let her pick a dinner location. She chose a Mexican restaurant with a name I can't remember on Main St. I decided I would get whatever she or Doug got, depending on which sounded better. There I was looking at all the fabulous entrees, including lamb, which I love, and they both ordered appetizers. OK. So I ordered the Mexican platter like Doug did (Samara ordered a large dish of melted cheese with toritllas, and I didn't think that would be good). It was perfect. One chicken flauta, one bean and cheese empanada, one small tostadda with shredded pork and that was it. Yum and I wasn't too full. I did have a couple margaritas as well.  Lesson, I did great on the food, but should have just stuck to one margarita. I was a little drunk after the second.

Tonight, I'm going out with my girlfriends again, including Perfect Sue who never lets a fattening bite pass her lips, and if it should, she punishes herself on this decrepit old exercise bike. I rode once and thought it was broken, it's so hard to pedal. So I guess I'll let her order for me. My worry is that I'll feel deprived, which is a little trick I set up for myself to make sure I have a relapse and end up eating a whole pizza, which I don't even particularly like. Seriously, when I fall off the wagon, I usually end up pigging oiut on something I don't even like that much like chips or pizza. So, not only am I going to let Sue order for me, but I'm going to get it in my head that I really like whatever she orders. I will also try to eat it slowly. I'm going to email her now and warn her to pick something, but not too spartan like plain lettuce with lemon, steamed veggies and ice water. Perhaps splitting an relatively healthy entree and one glass of wine. And, since we're going to "It's Complicated" before dinner, I'll have her steer me away from the popcorn.

In other news, I made my own lunch the other day when I knew I'd be on the road over lunch. The bad news is that I started eating it as I drove out of the driveway at 9:30. The good news is that it was healthy. The bad news is that I was starving at noon and only had $2 and some change in my car as I had forgotten my wallet at home and I stopped to get 2 corndogs at the gas station. I don't even like corndogs that much. Why was I eating them? I did great at dinner having a big romaine lettuce salad, with sliced bok choy and radicchio, roasted root vegetables (turnips, parsnips, carrots of multiple colors and sweet potatoes), and roasted chicken. I'm back on board that problem now. I'm packing my lunch and putting it on the back seat so I can't reach it. Then I'm also packing a snack and some water, which will keep my occupied during my terrible time.

I'm also still struggling with the grocery shopping. So now I'm going to stop grocery shopping and just make what's in the refrigerator, and then when I shop I'm going to take a child with me since I never eat in a store when they are with me.

Man, I'm finding out I have a lot of bad habits to break.

Here's my mantra for today, and I'm going to tell myself this all day: It's easy to lose weight, I eat like I'm Ann or Sue all the time and I love to exercise.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day Two with the kids back. Kids 2, Lisa 0.

OK, I think I've figured out what the source of the problem is. The kids sap so much of my time that I'm eating on the run a lot. Here it is almost 10 p.m. and I have to sit and wonder what I ate today because I did not take the time to write it all down. Hmmmm.

OK. For breakfast I had two oranges and a banana. For lunch, I had a plain ham sandwich (2 oz. ham) and bread. Also some chips leftover from the kids (bad, I know). This afternoon I was again at the grocery store in the afternoon, on the fly to pick up some chicken for dinner and I did grab some chicken at the deli to eat. Oh my God. I could hear all of you shouting: Nooooo! Don't go there. Walk away. Walk away you fat b*tch. But I didn't care. The bad Lisa was in control.

I straightened out on the ride home. Tim and Izzy went to a movie for Daddy-daughter time. I told myself I had maxed out my points for the day without even getting near any vegetables, so I had some vegetable soup at dinner and just fixed Eden and Colin leftovers from the night before (make your own Taco salad) but put them in a tortilla. We went upstairs to get me out of the kitchen and watched Harry Potter. We had low-fat pudding for dessert.

The bad news: I went 10 points over my daily allowance. The good news: I am still well within my spare 32 points for the week. I have another 20.5 points to burn over the next week. The key to that working is that I have to be good and get my exercise in this week. Today was tough as I was super busy with work and kids and snow, so I didn't cram it in. Tim was gone tonight, so I couldn't go to the gym. I did get outside a bit and hiked around with the horses some. But not enough. I hate feeling out of breath when I climb the stairs.

I think to remotivate myself, I want to focus on how I WANT to feel, instead of just focusing on what I don't want. Here goes: I want to feel my stomach in the same place when I roll over.  I want to feel excited to shop for clothes. I want to feel great in a pair of jeans. I want to wear a swimming suit and feel comfortable. I want to run and play with the kids and feel great while I'm doing it. I want to think about travel, books and writing rather than how fat I feel, what should I eat and why don't I feel good.

How about you guys?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The kids are back, so it's time to prepare!

It's Monday, switching day. That's the day the children switch from one parent's house to the other. We're on a week on, week off schedule, which we like.

This week, I'm determined to plan meals that take into consideration both the kids as well as me. I'm going to find foods that fit in with what I want to eat plus make them happy as well. I think that for the past two years (or really 1 and 1/2 years since I've been actively involved in their lives) I've been trying to cook so that they'll like the food (and me probably). Through this brilliant method, I've managed to gain 30-40 pounds. Now, I am trying to shift to cooking foods that Tim and I like and asking the kids to join in. As Dr. Phil says, "kids should join your life, you don't join theirs."

I've really struggled with this. We've had pigs in a blanket (hotdogs baked in Pillsbury croissant dough) too many times to count. And hamburgers and fries, and macaroni and cheese and spaghetti and meatballs as well. Now it's time for a little more diversity.

Tonight, we're going to have Taco Salads. This still isn't exactly a Lisa meal, but it's a good transitional meal on switch night. I don't want them to come back and have them thinking, "All this weird food! Let's go back to Mom's." I'm making the meat sauce with all natural herbs and spices and venison that Tim hunted and ground himself. I'll also  include home made salsa, organic sour cream, I'll grate the cheese myself (did you know that if you buy pre-grated cheese, it includes some weird chemicals to keep it from clumping? That's why it often doesn't melt right), and some black olives, sauteed peppers, mushrooms and onions (for me) and even some steamed frozen sugar snaps. I'll also have some drained tomatoes. Colin and Eden are going to struggle with figuring out how to have vegetables other than lettuce, so I'll have to include some of my spring spinach in the greens as well as probably sneaking some pureed cauliflower in the meat mix. They'll still have to have a few bites of vegetables. Isabel loves tomatoes, so she'll be no problem. As usual, we won't have much veggie-hating discussion because we think it's BORING to talk about what you don't like when it comes to food. But compliments to the chef are always welcome. 

Tomorrow night will be fish night and we'll have salmon and tuna that we'll steam and broil, respectively. I'll add a couple beets from the freezer and some green beans and a small salad with shredded carrot and raisins, Eden's favorite. My salad will have artichoke hearts and Asian mushrooms.

Wednesday night is basketball practice, so that's tricky. It has to be fast. I think we'll do turkey brats with sweet potato fries and a multi-colored slaw with nuts.

Thursday will be chicken in a pot night. Isabel hates chicken on the bone, but I'm trying to teach her that chicken on the bone is the best way to make it, for flavor. I'll include turnips, parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes in the pot. I'll add a little red wine and herbs so it's almost coq au vin.

Friday night I'll be gone, so I'm going to suggest pizza. I'm heading out with the ladies and we're eating at Bonfyre, which has a ton of good salads.

Saturday night, we'll have company, so we'll have pork tenderloin, twice baked potatoes (I add smashed cauliflower to the mix to reduce calories and lighten the flavor) and perhaps roasted carrots with a touch of salt and brown sugar (cook at 425 and they're delicious!). I think we'll also have some of our frozen Brussels sprouts, which Tim and I love, from our garden.

Sunday, I think I'll let the child who has done the best job at doing chores without complaining pick the menu. I'll give them the Weight Watchers cookbook and let 'em go. They never know if it's good or bad.

So I'm getting tons of diversity, cleaning out my freezer which is way too full and shifting toward meals that everyone likes, while still stretching the kids' taste buds a bit. Wish me luck!

P.S. Did great at the Superbowl party at my sister's house yesterday. I did not eat one chip, nor one bit of cheese. I did have a roasted chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with a hunk of romaine and  brown mustard. I had two bites of the cakes, which smelled tremendous, and a small spoonful of the brown beans I cooked, which also tasted super. Not bad. I really didn't eat anything other than the eggs, etc. yesterday, and I rode Titan in a lesson, which was exhausting.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My Crazy Path to Weight Loss

Thanks to my friend Ann's wake-up post, I'm going to do a better job of saying exactly how I'm proposing to lose weight. Here they are:

1. I write down everything I eat. I joined Weight Watchers online because it's the easiest way to track how much I should eat and how much I am eating. I love it!

2. I exercise in some way daily -- whether it's a 20-minute walk or riding my horse or going to the gym, I do it.

3. I try to eat whole foods as close to their original source as possible so I'm reducing the amount of hormones, preservatives and other objects. That means shopping at farmer's markets, coops, through farmers and at the Paoli Local Foods. I also buy some foods at typical supermarkets such as grass-fed meats, dried beans, frozen vegetables, etc.

4. That means absolutely no stopping at fast food. I ate a hamburger in late January as a farewell to eating those foods and to really slowly chew it and see if I even really liked it. I didn't. No real taste other than salt and fat at all.

Now, due to my wake up post from Ann, and remembering the advice of other good friends, I'm adding a few more things to my list to jump start my weight loss.

1. I'm actually measuring and weighing my foods. My scale sits on the countertop as of this morning. I actually weighed 1 ounce of venison for this morning's breakfast, measured the parmesan cheese and even the honey butter. Here's my breakfast today:

2 free-range brown eggs scrambled with 1/4 cup of leftover broccoli (from our freezer garden stash).
1 piece of Natural Ovens wheat bread with 1/2 tsp. of honey butter (even that little bit of butter is yummy and filling).
1 ounce of venison leftover from a previous meal.
Black coffee

2. Calculating by brand name or nutrition information the actual points for food. Good lesson this morning. I usually count all bread as 2 points unless it's a bigger peice and then I count it as 3 or 4 depending on size (some French boule's come in really long pieces). But this morning I calculated the Natural Ovens bread on the points calculator online and found it was only 1 point. Yay! That's important because I am trying to get the exact number of points each day and not use my weekly bonus points for anything except emergencies. But if I'm calculating wrong, then I can get a little too hungry and might go wild like I did in the grocery store yesterday.

3. Hunger monitoring. I'm going to do a better job of waiting until my hunger gets to a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being ravenous). I often eat because it's time to eat. If I'm truly trying to get in touch with food and my body's use of food, I've got to really pay attention to how hungry I am and then eat a little bit right then.

4. Continue to really push to reverse my eating ladder. I want to eat like the French. A good breakfast, significant lunch and then just a bit for dinner with small snacks in between. And by small snacks, I mean a cup of veggies and dip or 1/2 cup of veggies and an ounce of cheese. No more than 2-3 points eaach, but enough to satisfy me so the graze doesn't continue. My nutritionist Tracie has always recommended a glass or orange juice with a bit of gelatin, and that works especially when the time between meals might be extended (evenings out, rides in cars, etc.)

Tomorrow I'll post a sample of my day based on what happens today. Now I've got to pry my husband away from the television to take our dog for a walk. Darn that Superbowl pregame coverage!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I'm All Butter!

I'm sitting here right now with a beautiful slice of Madison Sourdough bread that's spread with butter. That I made. Yes, that's right, I made my own butter today. And you might be surprised to know that I don't even have a churn.

Here's the method: Put a pint container of organic whipping cream or heavy cream and put it in your stand mixer (I used my Kitchenaid). Turn on the blender. Let 'er whip for 7-10 minutes. That's pretty much it.  First, it will turn into whipped cream, just like usual. Then it looks almost like cottage cheese. Then the buttermilk separates pretty significantly from the butter. It's done when the liquid is in the bottom of the mixer and the butter is all caught up in the blade. Strain the milk into a jar and save it for pancakes or another recipe. Get the butter back into the bowl and into a clump (this should be pretty easy). Make a glass of ice water. Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup over the butter and using a big wooden spoon, smash the butter into the water, kind of reforming your mound. The water will be cloudy. Pour it off and do the same three more times. When the water is clear, you are done (you do this step so your butter will keep). I got about 1/2 pound of butter and 1 cup of buttermilk. Yay! I split about 1/4 of my butter away and mixed it with a little honey for some honey butter. I did not salt it at all. Isn't that fun?

Why butter, you might ask? Well, according to my new eating plan of sticking to whole foods that are made by real people's hands, I don't eat fake butters or oils that can't be ground with a stone. That leaves butter, olive oil, coconut oil and one other that I can't really remember right now. 

Today I ate pretty well. I had 2 oranges, a slice of Parisian boule bread with honey and black coffee for breakfast. For lunch, I had a slice of bread with peanut butter and an apple. But then I ran up against my old nemesis: the supermarket. I ran over to Target to get some of that Bare Chicken (or whatever it's called), and some dried beans to make my famous baked beans for a party tomorrow and there's the deli. Of course, I had to run over and grab some baked french fries and munch on them as I shopped. It's really something I'd like to give up, but once I'm in the store, I always seem to be hungry, and carrots don't seem at all appealing when I get that supermarket starve going. The problem with the above plan is that there's not a ton of variety, which I am trying to instill and I'm a little low on the vegetable side.

Well, at least those fries were baked. Tonight Tim and I might go get sushi at Edo Garden, which I love and he's been craving. But, we'll see. We're trying to eat out less, so perhaps I'll make something. But sushi is just too much work. Wait. That's an excuse. I want to find a class on making sushi, then I might do it at home. Any ideas?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Savoring my Food

I need to slow down my eating! And I'm not the only one who notices. Practically all of my friends have told me that I need to slow down, my kids remind me to eat more slowly and so does my husband. But, for the most part their pleas have fallen upon deaf ears. Until now!

Today I dragged my dieter-accomplice friend Nancy to lunch. We went to La Baguette, which I love, because the food is simple, straightforward and good. We split a melted brie and ham sandwich on a pretty thin baguette and each had a cup of tomatoe soup. The soup was really more of a bisque becaue it was thinner than a traditional tomato soup. So, before we even took our first bite, I reminded both of us to chew slowly so that we could actually taste what was in the food. I usually just bite and start chomping, but this time I actually chewed slowly and it was interesting. I tasted all the nuances of the brie, and then the ham and its smoky saltiness kicked in. The bread's somewhat sour earthiness really impacted me because I think for so long, I just ate bread without really thinking about how it tasted. I could taste the difference between the browned bread on the crust and the softer interior  . . . and it was good. I did the same for the soup. Yummmm. I could taste how fresh the tomatoes were when they were canned (canned tomatoes in winter are better than fresh, I find). I could taste the chicken base in the soup and the fresh basil in the soup. It was really a much better experience. Both Nancy and I found that we were fuller when we were finished, and more satisfied.

Then I ruined my feelings of superiority by forgetting to eat late in the afternoon and, in a ravenous craze, ate a quarter of the boule I bought while driving and thinking of other things.

Darn it! But at least I'm on the right track. Now off to brown up some grass fed pork chops and a little sauerkraut.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Foraging for Food

Well, now that I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and realizing that we humans have so many choices and yet we're often eating the same foods over and over, I'm really getting into finding foods that are as fresh as possible, as seasonal and as grass-fed or wild, if possible.

So where do I go? First, I hit my freezer. Tim and I had a huge garden last year and both of us worked like slaves freezing, canning and eating foods. Most of them are in the freezer, including tomatoes, beets, peas, beans, carrots, etc. Last night, I made salmon (wild) with beets from our freezer and steamed snow peas on salad.  (By the way, I love the way I make salmon—it's always moist and yummy. I take my large All Clad straight-sided fry pan and put about an inch of water in it. Then I place a shallow oval baker in it and inside the baker I put my salmon, skin side down. Salt, pepper and a little lime or lemon for seasoning. Then I put the lid on and turn up the heat. I usually let it steam for about 7 minutes so the inside is still pink, but warm. Yummy!) I boiled the beats with the skins on and then took them out and salted and peppered them after taking the skins off and slicing them up. Loved it!
The next place I go for great food is Paoli Local Foods. I love that place! It's run by the Ruegsegger's, who also own Ruegsegger Farm. They raise all kinds of meats, but the store also has fresh produce and other items from local producers. Today I picked up some wonderful spinach, carrots, and frozen corn. They were serving this wonderful chicken soup that was thick and lovely with corn in it. I loved the sweetness of the corn, so I bought some to throw in the chicken soup I was making at home. The carrots also joined the grass-fed chicken in the stock pot.

I also no longer buy organic eggs, only free-range. Egg chickens go through hell when they are making eggs. They often are piled into a cage where they can't move and are sometimes pecked to death by their neighbor. Others develop mental problems and rub their breasts on cages until they are bleeding. Many organic farmers don't have any different situation except that they feed their birds organic feed. So check on that one! I pick them up at one of several farms in the area who have free-range eggs in the season, and in winter I go to Willy Street. Sure, they're shipped a little further, but that's ok.

Willy Street Coop is another of my favorites. They clearly list local foods, so you can really understand what's local. They also list their suppliers on signs, so you can go straight to the farmer, if you so desire.

I also love to shop at La Baguette for my breads. It's run by a couple from France, and I think the husband is the baker, if I remember the story right. Those Frenchies really know what they're doing when it comes to bread. It's made the same way it would be in France -- crusty exterior and wonderfully light interior. If I have to stop for food, I have to say that I'm going to stick with their sandwiches. They really know how to make great, simple food. They're at 7424 Mineral Point Road,
Madison, 608.827.6775

So how does this all figure into my diet? Well, first of all, I figure if I'm satisfied with what I'm eating, I'll eat less. One reason I think I eat so much is that I'm never really getting any flavor out of my food. Also, it's healthier to eat this way. Finally, if I start eating consciously, I'll start really choosing what I put in my mouth, and I won't do any of that boredom eating (it's hard to start popping fresh foods like they're potato chips). I'll also develop a new connection to food other than it being my drug of choice for fixing sadness, anger or frustration.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Food Rules

I've been watching what my thin friends are eating and doing. I met my friend Tori on Monday at West Towne to walk. I've been preparing snacks to carry in my car like Sue and Traci do. I've been trying to eat smaller meals like Karen and Patti do. And I'm trying to figure out which foods I really like, like Sue R. does (I always call Sue R. by her first and last name, never just "Sue").

Today, my shipment of Michael Pollan books arrived and one of them is "Food Rules," a relatively thin book listing 64 rules on how to eat healthier. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Eat food (not edible foodlike substances). By this he means eat real foods like plants, meats, fungi and whole grains.

9. Avoid food products with the wordoid "lit" or the terms "low-fat" or "nonfat" in their names. These foods have added something else to make them have less fat such as sugar, carbohydrate fillers and refined carbs.

18. Don't eat foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

24. Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plants) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl) which is better than eating what stands on four legs.

31. Eat wild foods when you can (wild greens, animals, fish, etc.)

37. The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead.

38. Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone-ground (olive, sesame, coconut, and peanut oils).

39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

48. Consult your gut (e.g., eat when your stomach tells you to and stop when it says you are full.)

50. The banquet is in the first bite (in my words, all bites after the first are never as good, so just take one bite of the tempting foods).
51. Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it. (Wow, I'm going to have some 3-hour-long meals!)

62. Plant a vegetable garden if you have space and a window box if you don't. My friend Tori grew a whole salad garden in her planter on her back patio.

I've been really proud of my progress. Although I've not eaten strictly by the plan, I've done a good job of coming close. Last night, Tim made me venison steak (something wild) and salad for dinner. Really yummy, and tonight I'm having salmon, frozen beets from our garden and a salad. Yay!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu planning

Menu planning isn't exactly my strong suit. In a perfect world, I throw open my well-stocked fridge filled with grass-fed meats, fresh vegetables and fruit and, after consulting my equally well-stocked pantry, I begin whipping up a delicious wonder that strikes my or my husband's fancy. But the truth of the matter is, that after a week of feeding children, I also prefer eating leftovers and easy foods the Monday and Tuesday nights after the kids go back to their mom's. But, as nearly every expert on healthy eating will exclaim, failing to plan is planning to fail.

So here goes.

Monday: I'll throw the whole chicken in my fridge into the crockpot with some carrots, celery and potatoes and a little rosemary, salt and pepper.

Tuesday: Venison steak salad with sauteed red pepper, onion and sugar snap peas.

Wednesday: Chicken soup with turnips, cauliflower, carrots and parsnips.

Thursday: Lean pork roast with sweet potatoes and beets.

Friday: Salmon, mashed potatoes with cauliflower in them and steamed broccoli.

Saturday: Weight Watchers recipe of sweet and sour chicken.

Sunday: Dinner with the family for February birthdays.

Now for the real problem: lunches. I'm going to plan to make baggies of foods that I can grab quickly and throw into my cooler to carry with me. I'll have to stop at the store today and pick some up. I already have pretzels (although I don't really like them). Also carrots (too crunchy) and sugar snap peas. I like craisins and dried banana chips, but I've heard you can really pig out on the before you know it.

Any other ideas?