Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fictional Eaters

Time, she can creep by without any call to notice her.

But, that's not what I wanted to write about. Part of my Pop Culture Homework Assignment for the summer was to watch The Gilmore Girls. (What a Pop Culture Homework Assignment is and the fact that its not been the summer for ages will not be things I discuss in this post. ;) ) Its a good show; its funny. The Gilmore Girls is that tale of a single Mother and her teenage daughter and it chronicles the lives of the ladies from the last two years of high school for the daughter through her college years. The show is full of rapid-fire, clever dialogue and this is likely part of its appeal. And, that's all fine. But, there was at least one thing I found troubling about the show: the amount of food the two main characters eat.

They make a joke about how they are famous eaters and often show them ordering large amounts of crazy things. You'll see Lorelai (the mother played by Lauren Graham) leave the local grocers with a huge nachos and a slurpee or Rory (the daughter played by Alexis Bledel) and her boyfriend will joke about the look on the waiter's face when she's ordered 14 different high calorie things at a restaurant and finished them all. In the show, they are shown sitting on a squash court having a chat and Lorelai once uses an old gym membership card to pick a lock ("Did you ever go?" "No, I'd just had Rory and I was embarrassed by the baby fat.") and there is an episode where Lorelai rides her bike to work because her car has died. Aside from that, these women are never seen exercising or going to or coming from a gym or eating a vegetable.

Now, this confuses me. Since they never had a story arc about someone over-exercising or having anorexia, it doesn't surprise me that their diets/lifestyle choices weren't something that was really discussed or shown. But, it seemed in the show that their eating was something that was portrayed as a quirk of the characters, or a cute character trait that was utterly adorable and that any man would find attractive. The message seemed to be, "Skinny girls can eat whatever they want, and its adorable." Which, I don't think was the intent of the writers, but it still makes me uncomfortable. Its interesting to me that a show that has many feminist leanings would be so blatant in its reinforcing of this one stereotype.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Long Days

So, all that progress I made over the summer when I had all that time to freak myself out about weight and other things has been partially undone in the last few weeks. The semester started. Tuesday starts week 5 (we don't have class tomorrow because of Yom Kippur). I'm taking four classes, I'm the president of my department's graduate student organization and I have a part time job. Needless to say, I'm a little busy.

And, my eating habits has gone to hell. To absolute hell. At least once a week in the past three weeks I've had a meal that consisted solely of dry toast (and at least once this has happened twice in one day). And, each time this came about by me opening the fridge, looking at the raw ingredients, considering the effort to make a quick stir-fry, closing the fridge and making toast. I've also eaten a lot of meat and cheese sandwiches. This is ridiculous because I have all these great fruits and vegetables in my fridge from my CSA share. Also, fruit and veg don't keep indefinitely, so I have to do something about them! So, today I am (despite the fact that in addition to my normal amount of work for this week, I just realized that the article I'm supposed to read for a lab meeting on Friday is seventy-one pages long.). I have a potato leek soup in my crock pot (made with whole milk instead of cream and with swiss chard added.) I have beets roasting in my oven, which will then by whipped into a soup as well. I have also pickled onions today and made zucchini bread. Most of these things will be going to straight into my freezer (or the cupboard), so that later in the semester when my CSA share is done for the season, I'm working on papers and I'm completely unhinged with stress all I have to remember how to do is thaw and microwave. At some point today, I'm heading out to a liquor store in order to purchase brandy. I'm then going to brandy some stone fruits I have. I've never done this before, and even though I've looked at recipes I'm going to wing it. My brandied fruit will probably only be good over ice cream or in brandied fruit smoothies, but whatever. The point is I'm not wasting the fruit and maybe this winter I won't be paying (completely) through the nose for vitamins. Maybe.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

...and, then life happens.

This is the last week before school starts for me. I'm super excited about this coming semester. I'm going to learn Perl! But, of course, since its the last week before school, its not my last free week before school. We had a Welcome Party for the incoming graduate students (I made peach pie). There was a teaching conference (where we were served pizza for lunch every day.)

And, I've not written a damn thing down I've eaten since Breakfast on Tuesday. *sigh* I was on such a roll.

Here's the funny thing about this: writing everything down made me feel a little like I had some sort of disorder; that I was sliding down the slippery slope towards ED. Not writing things down makes me feel a little chaotic and out of control. (Also, I feel like I've lost three days because I don't have dated journal entries for them.) I don't know if this is a good thing, like I'm getting used to the notion of keeping track of things as part of my life or if its a bad thing. I suppose only time will tell. So, I'm back on the wagon again this morning (it was a morning of bacon and tea. Lots of tea.) . I suppose it will be easier once classes actually start as I will be bringing my own lunch. Which reminds me, I need to pick up some bread and lunch meat.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Obsessive Journaling

I have been food journaling this summer because I have read that the best way to really stay on top of your weight is to keep track of what you put in. I'm not going to say that I have been wildly successful with this tactic, but more often than not I remember to write stuff down and the general trend for the summer has been weight loss. This is good.

I have a problem, though.

I feel like I have a disease when I do this. Seriously. Writing down absolutely everything I eat makes me feel neurotic or like I'm trying to suss out an allergy or that I may be slowly skipping down the path to anorexia. It freaks me out a little. And, I don't know what to do about that.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Body Image and a Project I'm working on

So, I've been working on this thing. I joined one of those Flickr, 365 self-portraits in 365 days on my birthday this year. This is picture 43. The idea for this project grew out of a "powerful women" idea that I had way back in the day when I still lived in Iowa City and worked at a bookstore shelving magazines. The original thought was that people in general are involved in many narratives and we use these narratives to build our conception of ourselves. And, I'm interested in women in particular because I feel like one of the things that smart, strong, successful, powerful women do is perform the parts of their identity that they think are the most important, that they want to be the most salient in such a way that it can't be ignored. That you see what they see because, for lack of a better way to put it, they are such masters of appearance that they allow their interpretation of whatever feature is relevant to be not only a violable option, but the most likely option were you to talk or think or come up with a notion about them. So, How do you do that? And, how do we, as individuals decide (if we decide consciously at all) what is most important about ourselves and how do we then make that something other people see and think is important, too. This interests me.

So, the original idea was to sit down with awesome women that I know and interview them and discuss image and how they like to be perceived and how they try to make their ideas about who they are known, but for now I'm my guinea pig for these 365 days and then we'll see where things go after that. This picture is the furthest out on a limb that I've been during this project. I hope to get more adventurous (and better at lighting and angles) as time goes on. The idea behind this one was stple, I find a nice soak in the bath with a book to be a most enjoyable experience. And, part of that experience is adding a little extra hot water to the tub when it cools down a bit. For some reason, it makes me think a little bit about Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch, only she'd be sitting in a cool bathtub because it was just so hot in New York. I guess this means that the photo (since, yes, I just compared myself to Marilyn Monroe) may be inadvertently sexy. But, that wasn't the intention.

True Story.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

I'm just on a roll

So, I'm sitting on my couch, thinking about getting up and taking a shower, drinking tea with white honey while listening to Joni Mitchell on And, this morning instead of the cereal that I bought new milk to pour over last night, I had one of Kellogg's new Cinnabon snack bars.

Yes, that's right. Its my ass and I'll add cinnamon roll snack bar to it if I want.

I've been thinking lately, and, yes, I'll get back to focusing on the dieting but right now I'm going to go off on another body issues and society rant.

I've been many weights and I will be honest with you, one of the things that off-putting about really committing to going from being a bigger woman to being a smaller woman is this:

Some men do not seem to know how to express their appreciation for the female form without being skeezy, leering, creepy and/or weird.

Now, I illustrate with examples. The last time I got down to smoking hot, I had more than one guy friend that had only ever known me at the higher weight walk up to me, put his arm around me, give me the visual once-over and then say something like, "Well, you're looking really good."

Now, these experiences admittedly probably freaked me out more than they would freak out the average bear because I'm very protective of my personal space. I just don't particularly care for a lot of people in my space. And, by a lot of people, I mean that if we don't have a hugging relationship I don't feel you should ever touch me for any reason and if we do have a hugging relationship, you should probably already have my attention or have me otherwise engaged before initiating physical contact. Also, I don't have many hugging relationships with men. (I can think of three off the top of my head of my head who aren't my father who get a hug *every time* I see them.)

So, here's the thing: I understand that these men just wanted to show their appreciation for something that obviously had required a lot of time and effort. They thought I looked nice and they wanted me to know that they appreciated that fact. But, I didn't come away from those experiences feeling appreciated, I ended up feeling cheap and as if I'd been stripped of my agency. I felt like I'd spent all this time and effort and that the pay off was that men who had known me for years and were (likely)* well aware of my protectiveness of my own space now felt it was appropriate to invite themselves into it. But, it doesn't matter what size I am, if I don't offer you a hug, I don't want you in my space.

I just think there has to be a better way to show your appreciation for how someone looks and the (possibly) obvious effort they put into looking like that.

*I say likely here because, while its unlikely that they were never told that I don't like being touched, it is possible that they never realized I was being serious. And, I say its unlikely because I used to wear a button on my name tag that said, "You are too close." Also, I say, "Oh, no touching." frequently. You know the mice in The Hitchhiker's guide posited that they could just replace Arthur's brain with a machine that repeated stock phrases like, "Cuppa tea?" My machine-brain would say, "Oh, No touching," "True Story," and "Well, that's less than ideal." Seriously. True Story.

Friday, 17 July 2009

I'm going to put one foot in front of the other, too!

So, even though I made all that great progress last month, according to my scale I've gone the other direction so far this month.

Also, I'm super stressed out and I hate the town that I live in and all my friends live somewhere else or aren't around for the summer because they are getting married or study cool things in which they get to play in the dirt. While this isn't exactly true and I'm really just kvetching it is certainly how I feel.

Anyway, it has occurred to me that perhaps I should follow Melissa's lead and start doing one (or more) of the many workout videos I have in my house and I much more regular basis. What could be better than expending some of my murderous, "I hate my life" energy while bouncing up and down on an exercise ball doing a lazy man's jumping jacks? (I mean, what could be better aside from not having murderous, "I hate my life" energy to begin with.) I have come to a decision. I am, starting today!, going to work out three times a week. If I can keep that going for a month, I think I may give myself a treat. Another orchid, perhaps? (Not that I can afford another orchid and another grow light so said orchid won't die during the winter, this is one of the source's for the murderous energy, but you know, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, Exercise ball ahoy!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


I have been struck by an afternoon craving.

I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee this afternoon but she was then detained by the maintenance man in her building. The roof started leaking a while back and he came to fix it once already, but it didn't stay fixed. So, they waited for there to be some dry days so they could re-tar the roof and now that has been done her ceiling can be fixed. I am for apartments with complete, whole, and non-leaking ceilings, so I'm okay with the cancellation. Its just that I had it in my head that I was going to get to drink a tall, skinny, white mocha with just an itty, bitty bit of whipped cream and now I'm not. There is really no point in me going for coffee myself when the point, really, was to catch up with a friend I've not seen in a few weeks. Especially since there is nothing wrong with my coffee pot and I am not lacking in the skills necessary to make a good cup of joe.

Here's the thing, I promised myself this treat and now I'm not getting it. And, I feel denied. So, the part of my brain that likes treats and will not be denied is casting about looking for other options. And, it has presented me with an option that is appealing because it gives the illusion of doing something that is only moderately bad for me. I could walk to the doughnut shop that is kinda near my house and get that blueberry doughnut that they have been advertising a lot of late. It would be a nice walk. I would get out of the house. I would...being eating a doughnut that I don't need. (Also, it may rain. I'm not really in the mood for being rained on since its only 65 degrees Fahrenheit out.)

I don't know if I'm going to win this round with myself or not. I'm thinking that I might make myself a smoothie with the flavored decaf, ice and skim milk in my fridge. I am also pretty sure that I have some 100 calorie snack packs in my house. I'm hoping that will do the trick.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Off Hand Remarks

You know when I said this was probably going to turn into a place where I come to rant about body issues and society? Well, folks, today is that.

I recently exchanged comments with someone (whom I respect and admire. It would not go too far to say that I may have a little fangirl crush on this person and that I hope to one day be where this person is) on a social networking site about a woman on who owned H.P. Lovecraft on Mastermind. Someone quoted this guy, further joking ensued. A great time was had by all.

Except for about an hour afterward, I felt uncomfortable and a little odd. Then, I figured out what was bothering me. Here was a woman that I identified with. I watched that video and I thought, "She's my people." And, when I contributed to the exchange, I used gender neutral words. I thought I was setting an explicit boundary that said, "This is a person and this is how I want to see her." The invocation of her sexuality (and, I do not know her and so could not say. It is perhaps true that Lovecraft really, really turns her on) was shocking to me. She was not doing anything that was an explicit performance of sexuality. Everyone views things differently; I don't have a problem with people seeing things that turn them on. I don't even have a problem with people expressing that. My problem is that it seems like feminine sexuality invites commentary. I have an intellectual relationship with the person on the other half of the exchange. We don't hang out. We don't exchange birthday greetings. I don't know if this person has siblings or if they have pets. Its just not part of our relationship. So, I didn't expect to be joking about how smart women are hotter in bikinis. And, as a smart woman who never wears a bikini, I was a little freaked out.

Now, I'm pretty sure that part of this has to do with losing weight. I'm back on the path to hotness and as I know from previous attempts this always brings up questions for me about identity, what is attractive, and where I fit in the world, and how to best perform my sexual identity so that I'm the one that is getting something from it. These are complicated issues because I grew in an era where Kate Moss reigned supreme and every model from Seventeen to Cosmo (the real Cosmo, I'm too old to have read Cosmo Girl) looked like she was about one accident with a needle away from being a drug statistic. My notion of myself and my notion of what is attractive do not often have large overlaps. And, when they do, I've found myself the recipient of much unwanted attention. So, how do we deal with these things? How do we deal with being smart and sexy? How do you successfully express ownership of a sexual identity that has been objectified and work it to your advantage? I'm at a loss about this.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

I am genetically programmed to be a sloth, sitting around with my feet up reading a book, knitting, drinking tea, and/or feeding my face. If I want to live to see grandchildren (assuming I have children in the first place) I have to be active, end of story. I'm my father's child and, on the paternal side of the family, we're all short, barrel-chested, and prone to cardiovascular/cerebrovascular disease (my paternal grandfather stroked out at the age of 59; my father is turning 62 this year and is pretty proud of himself).

As noted by my personal blog URL, I'm a dancer and started when I was very little. That whole "short and stocky" thing makes a professional ballet career an impossibility, combined with a wonky back, a phooey knee, and a tendency to grind off the soft tissue between the bones of my left foot, but I can hold my own in a professional level class. Even now when I'm the oldest by ten years of the students on a given day. I'm naturally flexible and have a decent core but I'm also a lazy bones who has a little trouble bothering to go to the gym for additional exercise beyond ballet class.

Hence the flab that won't ever give up the ghost.

I sucked it up today (literally) and tried out a new Pilates DVD - Pilates Body Sculpting Workout with Ana Caban - that came with a little ball that you squeeze to activate certain muscles.


I can generally do pretty well with a 20 minute mat class - I haven't had a formal class in years because no one has classes when I'm not at work - but this one had me dying after about 10 minutes. This is definitely a challenge. I also got a another DVD - Mari Windsor Pilates for Pink - so I might let Mari kick my gut tomorrow. I picked up some new therabands and a lightweight travel yoga mat so I can work on some knee exercises and foot exercises when I'm on-the-go.

Have I yet to mention that I have been slacking on my prescribed physical therapy exercises? I have and that does me no good either.

It's all about being consistent and consistency is a problem for me. I'm used to just going 110% percent everyday and that just doesn't work anymore because my body doesn't recover as quickly as it used to (combined with my current out-of-shape status).

Goal: Tomorrow do a bit of Pilates with Mari and then hit the gym for at least 30 minutes on the elliptical. Repeat Monday.

Off to have a soak in the bath.

Also improvements: I have been drinking more water of late (particularly at night when my fridge-forages urges become more apparent - currently foiled by there being no food in the fridge) and I also bought a new *aluminum* water bottle to have PBA-free water. Just watch - in a few years we'll have a report about how we're all ingesting aluminum with our water bottles.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Uh Oh. Really?

So, I'm sitting here, chilling out, drinking a beer (not on the South Beach diet, but always on my diet) and catching up on my reading list. I just finished a piece of salmon with an improvised citrus chili glaze (one spoonful of chili sauce from a jar in which nothing is written in English but the words "chili sauce" and a couple spoonfuls of homemade orange-cider marmalade) served over a bed of some of that great lettuce I got from my CSA share and I'm feeling pretty good about things.

That is, until I read what Vegan Dad has posted about meat. The National Cancer Institute has recently published a study that concludes the risk of heart disease and cancer goes up by 30 percent if you eat 125 grams of red and/or processed meat a day. Horrifying. Apparently, cutting that down to eating meat once a week can eliminate most of the risk. Vegan Dad suggests you just cut it out entirely, and I completely see his point.

Except, I really, really really like red meat. Really. Few things in this world are as tasty to me as a Kansas City strip steak grilled just right (read: rare) next to a whole mess of veg with a good beer or a great, light and slightly fruity syrah or merlot. Given that I'm a student, I don't eat that with any frequency. You know what I do eat with much frequency? Processed Turkey slices. During the school year, it is not uncommon for me to toss a couple slices of turkey lunch meat on a salad and to head out to class. Oh, and bacon. One can not forget my love of bacon.

Last Fall, when I first moved into my new place sans Ex-fiancee, I briefly experimented with weekday vegetarianism on the suggestion of a book I was reading at the time, Clean Up Your Diet. Since I was trying to stem the flat-tire tide and I was also trying to save money, it made sense that, for most of the week, I should try to plan meals without meat since it tends to be a big ticket item (at least good meat does.) I got back into meat eating because I adopted some stray kittens and I was trying to acclimatize them to people (at least that's what I told myself.) I have a vegetarian crock pot cookbook that has some pretty amazing sounding things in it that I haven't tried (including a recipe on how to make your Seitan.) The problem with that is that I have to keep up on what I'm freezing and what I'm thawing. Its great to make recipes that serve a family when you live alone, as long as you remember what you've frozen for later consumption. And, of course, as a part-time vegetarian that enormous bag of frozen chicken breasts will last me forever! I'm going to have to conisder this further because I'm trying to commit to things I can turn into good habits and I don't want to burden myself with a bunch of changes that won't stick and that will just interfere with each other.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Well, Would you look at that!

1. I just discovered I can post on this thing via email. Which is to say that I can now post from my blackberry. Who else is excited about knowing what I'm having for lunch because I can post it from my phone?

2. Another small victory! According to my scale and the calendar on which I keep track of these things, I've lost 9 pounds in the last thirty days. While this isn't exactly monumental, considering I feel like I've done a lot of cheating it is not too bad.

So, I'm hoping July can build on what I've done this June. I'm not planning on adding/subtracting/changing anything in my regiment. I'm still moving towards (which is to say, cheating away) from South Beach, eating as many veggies as I can put in my mouth (this past week, in the form of many, many BLTs), and going for walks when I motivate myself up off the sofa. Of course, perhaps I could motivate myself into doing one of the many work out DVDs I own. We'll see about that.

To celebrate this month's small victory, I had some baked cheetos today. 34 cheetos is 130 calories. I had more than 130 calories worth and now I feel sort of sluggish and gross. I think I may very well break what's left into individual serving sizes. Not that I'll likely make the same mistake again.

Sunday, 28 June 2009


So, some friends and I went into together and bought a share in a local farm (two farms, actually) through a Community Sustained Agriculture program. We have a fruit share and a summer vegetable share. (We're on the wait list for a winter share.) We got our first shares of veg yesterday. I have sweet onions, all different types of lettuce.

I bought bacon and eggs to go with my lettuces. I've had two sandwiches today. I'm pretty excited about the rest of the lettuce. Although, I don't imagine it will last as long as I think it will. The quart of strawberries we got last week lasted me four days. I love vegetables! I hope that this will help my efforts to help my health efforts!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Small Victories

On Monday I went clothes shopping with my Mother. We looked in a few shops, picked through the sales racks. Mostly, we just chatted and walked. The point of the excursion was to visit Torrid so that I could use the ten dollars off coupon they sent me in the mail for my birthday. I don't go clothes shopping very often. I don't because I have a lot of clothing. And, graduate school isn't the sort of place that keeps you in piles of cash. Also, I don't because I'm hoping to not be this size for very long (a hope that I have long nursed) so I don't want to add to this wardrobe if I'm not going to get a lot of use out of something.

As a result of this, I get a lot of use out of the items I have. Our mission was to find me another pair of work pants because I pretty much live in black trousers whether I'm working or not. We accepted it. We stopped at Torrid, which had a number of cute summer dresses that I thought were a little overpriced and some nice black slacks in tall. The tall is very necessary. Sadly, they were out of what I thought was my size. But, they did have the next size down. I figured, what the hell, I'll try them. And, they sit. So, I'm now (currently at this moment) wearing a size that is 3 sizes smaller than the last pair of pants I bought at Lane Bryant. Now, I know that different places size things differently, so this might not be the victory I think it is (although, of the two, I think Torrid's sizes tend to run smaller. Any thoughts on this?), but its still a victory and I'm going to take it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Picking A Plan

I have decided to re-read The South Beach Diet and The Eat Clean Diet. While they might deny that they are the same thing, they are pretty similar. They are both plans that focus a life-long overhaul of how you eat focusing on complex carbohydrates like the ones found in whole grains and fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. I have also decided to cancel my eDiets subscription. In March, I signed up for their Glycemic Impact diet (which is, again, a diet focused on complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.)

I have made this decision for two reasons. The first reason is that I don't sign into eDiets frequently enough to justify the expenditure. While I can see how it would be a tremendous resource, I found that when I was following their menu I was buying way more food than I actually ate. This meant that I wasted a lot of food. And, when I was going through the menus and trying to decide what not to buy (because I knew I wasn't going to eat as much as they predicted I would eat) I would just end up creating my own menu anyway. And, the second reason? I feel like South Beach and Eat Clean are geared towards learning principles to live by. I would like to (re)learn some general principles as I hope to one day live in a world where I do not feel like my life is centered around food and eating. I'm hoping I'm not the only person out there who feels like this, but I feel like most of my day centers around what I can eat, what I should eat, and (sadly) what other people are thinking about what I eat. I know, its ridiculous but I probably spend as much time scrutinizing food choices for their social consequences as I do actually preparing and eating food. (If you're one of the people free of this affliction, let me just tell you that it takes pretty much all off the fun out of eating. It makes it impossible to really enjoy the things that are bad for you and it makes the things that are good for you, whether they are tasty or not, a chore.) I know this is crazy; I would like to someday be free of it. But, today is not that day. Today is a salad with peppers, tomatoes and grilled chicken breast served with a big glass of water day.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

But, I'm on Vacation

To Celebrate the end of the semester, hitting it (metaphorically) out of the park in terms of grades, and because my sister got tickets to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I am currently sitting on her couch in Brooklyn. We have a big day today. We may see a movie. I have a spa appointment this afternoon. (I'm getting a manicure! This is great because I've cracked one of my nails down in the nail bed and I'm hoping if they can't save it, they can at least trim it in such a way that it will stop snagging on things and it won't be sore.) And, this evening we are going to a book signing.

I love this city. It is a town of hills and stairs and people who love giving you directions, even if you haven't asked. I'm on vacation, so we've been living it up. Which brings me to the concern of this post. What do you eat on vacation?

I find this to be a particularly troubling question. I've done all this hard work up until this point and fought and clawed for small gains that have been real victories. Its a diet. But, really its a process meant to help me mend the errors of my ways. I don't want to break the habits I've working so hard to establish. And, I don't want to get home and feel regret or guilt. But, I'm on vacation. So, what do I do?

I have no solid answers, only the rules I've laid out for myself. They are pretty basic and I meant them to be accommodating. It is important to me, after a long semester, to really enjoy this time off. But, its also important that my short term fun not be counterproductive in the long term. So, here are my rules:

1. If you really want it, go ahead and order it. I came into town with a serious red meat craving. The first day I was here I had a hamburger and curly fries (which were magnificent) and then later in the evening a steak spinach salad. It was not the best spinach salad, but as far as steaks go in the States it was a reasonably sized one. I'm not sure I would have chosen so well if I hadn't just let myself get stuff.

2. If there is a healthy option that sounds pretty good, shoot for that. New York City puts calories after things on menus, so you have the numbers staring at you while you're making your decision. Yesterday, I was hungry but I wasn't craving anything. The chicken pesto sandwich looked good, but so did the fire roasted veg for 200 calories less. I went with the veg. Although, I did have half a cookie at Barnes and Noble later in the day.

3. Eat Breakfast. Its so obvious and yet its so easy to forget or to skip it.

4. Take water with you! We forgot this the first day, so we had to buy water after we'd explored the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I've been reusing the bottle, actually. I've made it my goal to finish at least one bottle of water every day. Plus, the more you drink, the lighter the bottle gets. So, at the end of the day when you don't want to hike up the hill to go home, at least you're not carrying a full water bottle. (Of course, it makes no difference if you're first stop of the day was Lush and you bought the whole store.)

So, this is what I've been working with on this trip. I'll let you know Friday morning, when I'm back to my scale at home (and my regular weighing in time) how much damage I've done. Even if I've put a few pounds back on, I figure I've not done too badly since I've remained conscious of my eating.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

But, does it have to be so chewy?

I was struck yesterday by a sudden desire for baked goods and chocolate. (Really, what I wanted was an oreo. Except, when was the last time you had a single oreo?) So, I did some digging and I found a recipe through ediets for brownies made with splenda (I don't know if that link will work if you're not a registered member). Of course, I monkeyed around with the recipe because I can't leave well enough alone.

The recipe is meant to make twenty-four 200 calorie brownies and it suggests that you immediately freeze half of them. I think this plan has merit. Or, would do if these were anything I'd want to have to parcel out and enjoy for an extended period of time. Let's take a look at some of the changes I made and why they may have been a bad idea.

The recipe called for egg substitute. Now, I love eggs and don't particularly see the need for fake eggs. Also, I have real eggs in my house because I find an egg mixed with onions and some frozen spinach to be a great breakfast. I don't think any of my problems stemmed from the egg substitution. Then, it called for canola-based trans-fat free margarine. I only have the spray margarine and shortening and the real deal in my house, so I had to come up with something else (or use shortening.) I had an open jar of apple sauce that I'm trying to finish before it goes all furry and gross. I used that. This could have been my undoing. I didn't have baking chips in my house, so I left them out. (This is not entirely true. I do have white chocolate chips from well-played cupcake experiment. But, I didn't feel white chocolate fit in with the overall recipe.) The last thing that was different from the recipe was that my cocoa powder is the Hershey's Special Dark powder. Its cocoa powder, and therefore not a substitute, so I didn't think a thing about it.

The recipe itself was super easy. You mix the chocolate and the fat and then you fold in the splenda, eggs and flour. Piece of cake. Into the bowl, into the pan, and into the oven it went.

I had a moment of...cognitive dissonance when the brownies came out of the oven. My flat smelled like tasty, tasty brownies. But, the brownies looked like they had burnt to a crisp. It would seem that the Special Dark cocoa powder is not lying to you when it says its Special and Dark. It is hard to tell from this photo I took with my mobile, but you can see a contrast between the matte black brownies and my china.


Despite being In-Space-No-one-Can-Hear-You-Scream dark, they weren't overly chocolaty. In fact, they were only so-so chocolaty. This was a disappointment. In addition, they had the trying-too-hard chemical aftertaste common to items sweetened with a compound not found in nature. I know it would change the calorie count, but I think next time I may have to blend the splenda with some actual sugar.

The last complaint I have about this food experiment is absolutely my own fault for mucking about with the recipe. They were too chewy and I'm pretty sure this is due to the apple-sauce-for-fat substitution. I like replacing apple sauce for the fat in baked goods, usually. You get the moisture. You are, ostensibly, getting another fruit in. And, by and large, I usually don't notice a difference. You do get a small amount of textural difference in that shortening creates a moist yet, crumbling feeling in a baked good, but I find that the moisture is really what is key and you get that in spades. But these brownies just turned out...chewy. They look like brownies (albeit, burnt ones), they smell like brownies, they are chocolaty like brownies, but they're just not right. Close, yet so far away. Recently, on the Film Noir Experience I talked about when one thing reminds you of something else, but its not quite right. These brownies are like that, only they don't remind you of something, they are something. And, that something was poorly executed. In short, they were disappointing. But, as last minute, made from stuff I had in my home, under 200 calorie treats, they did the trick.

Friday, 22 May 2009

What do you ask the skinny people?

I love dumb questions (not).

Why is it that when I (a somewhat-overweight-but-not-even-remotely-in-need-of-stomach-stapling 30 year old) get a more-or-less healthy lunch (lasanga rolls, veggies, diet soda) some joker has to go "Oh, eating healthy today?"

What? Considering I avoid anything fried like the plague, try to eat veggies at least once a day, and am attempting to cut down on my pastry consumption, that's pretty out-of-line. Actually, that's just out-of-line in general. Would you say "Oh, eating shitty today?" to the skinny person behind me getting a cheeseburger on white bun with some really hideous looking onion rings, two cookies, and a large regular soda? Would you say it to the extremely morbidly obese person ahead of me (and when I say extreme I could eaily fit inside one pantleg and I'm not little) who has bought enough food for a family and is now sitting down to eat by themselves?

Thanks, dude. And for the record...there's a scone in my knitting bag.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

There could have been tears...

A friend of mine is getting married in July. Today we went dress shopping. Now, it doesn't matter who you are or what you look it, Wedding Dress Shopping can (almost) always be described in two words: Epically Frustrating.

You go in and you sit down after you've made an appointment. You end up having to wait because there are only two fitters and the girl who had the appointment before you is standing in the back, in a beautiful Oleg Cassini bawling her eyes out because it doesn't fit quite as it should in the bust and she is not going to get her dream wedding in which she looks like Jackie Kennedy at the White House. You're nervous as hell because trying on clothes is nightmare and you're going to have a stranger picking things out and shoving you into them and because you want to look just right. Not to mention that dresses are expensive and many bridal places don't let you return things should the romance go belly up, which would mean that, worst case scenario you're stuck with a taffeta, lace and bead extravaganza and a fiery ball full of hate in your stomach. And, you're not even in the fitting room yet.

Should you ever need someone to hold your hand (and your self-esteem) when trying on wedding dresses, I'm your girl for two reasons: 1. You are only allowed to get to have the weepy, "I'm so fat and I'll never find a dress that looks nice on me!" breakdown once. We'll cry. We'll talk it out. I will pick you up by your bootstraps and make you soldier on because you are not fat and any wedding dress that doesn't make you feel like a pretty, pretty princess has failed at its job. Seriously, a wedding dress should make you feel like a Queen because you're going to be wearing for a full day while you are the center of attention. And, no one puts on a burlap sack when they know they're going to be the center of attention. You get out your best shoes for that. 2. I come complete with Mary Poppins bag and kick ass sense of humor. I turned up to the fitting today with an extra pair of two and a half inch heels, a strapless bra, spanx, a bottle of water, post it notes, a pen and a camera. (Well, the camera on my phone which actually takes not-too-shabby photos that you can send to your Momma.)

Amazingly, I didn't have to have the "Look,I know you've gone completely Body Dysmorphic after seeing yourself in the funhouse mirrors, but you really do cut a mean silhouette" conversation. Which was pretty amazing. I did want to smack the woman that checked my friend in when we first got there, though. The wedding is in July and the first question out of the woman's mouth was, "Oh, are you pregnant?" Followed immediately by, "We always go one size up because wedding dresses run small." Be that as it may, you just insulted my tiny-pants friend who does things on short notice twice in one breath. Calm down, woman. Not everyone plans years and years in advance.

It turns out there is only one question you need to ask about wedding dresses and that is, "And, what about it don't you like?" We narrowed it down to three and then discovered that each of those dresses had at least one deal breaking feature. The bad news, we had to start all over again. The good news, we were able to pin point exactly what my friend was looking for because we knew what she didn't want. The dress she got, in the end, was in a size smaller than the other dresses she was trying on (Take that, first measurement lady!). And, I agreed to count calories with her from now until the wedding. She would like to drop a few pounds (and maybe pick up some muscle.) I think we can do it. I'm also particularly pleased that the day went off without any major melt downs, freak outs or morose moments sponsored by an unrealistic of view of What Women Should Look Like. We got off pretty lucky. There could have been tears.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

True Story

True Story. About five years ago, I get this brilliant idea. I'm going to lose all this weight that I've been carrying around my whole life. I enlist my sister (who, at the time, was my roommate) and we go on the South Beach diet. Then, we join Curves. We're wildly successful. I don't know how many pounds my sister lost, but I lost something like a hundred. (I didn't keep good records, I only kept track of pants size, how hungry I was, and how good I felt.) I almost never went hungry (unless I missed a snack), I felt great and I went from a size 28 to a size 14 or a 16. I got to shop at regular clothing stores with my friends. It was amazing! Also, I looked smoking hot. I have seriously long legs, and I'd never realized that before.

And, then I went to graduate school and met a guy and got engaged and it all went to hell.

So, now I'm back to square one. I've put all the weight back on. All of the weight. I've broken up with the guy (he was a total loser. Love really does cause blindness.), I'm still in grad school and I have a fabulous kitten I rescued from a parking lot and some nice houseplants. But, I'm so very, very angry at myself for being back at this weight. Basically, things are pretty great, setting aside the rage and the weight gain. And, if I lost it before, I can lose it again, right?

I'd like to say that I've started this because I'm ready to lose the weight again, for reals, y'all, and that I'm ready to work through my issues. But, that isn't really the case. Mostly, its because I'm a stubborn bitch that's pissed at herself for being back here. Also, its a little bit because I had all this diet stuff sorted and now that I've put the weight back on all these skinny folks keep trying to give me tips. Don't get me wrong, every little bit helps, but seriously, five minutes in my amazing three-inch heels and all you skinny bitches would weep. I already drink diet and count my steps, eat my veggie burgers (that I make myself, by the way) without the bun and I'm a firm believer that a half-cup 10-calorie sugar-free jello cup hits the sweet spot every time. I'm fierce, and don't you forget it.

I suspect that this blog will turn into a lot of ranting about society and body issues and all manner of shit that doesn't really pertain to weight loss, but that's really the name of the game, isn't it? Its not what you look like, its how you feel in your own skin. And, if I can get back to feeling smokin' hot, whether it be at a BMI within the healthy range or a BMI that suggests that my heart is actually pumping around congealed fat instead of blood, I'll have succeeded. That's all I really care about.