Sunday, March 29, 2009
Cassie warned me that Claire’s music class MO is to take everything out of the diaper bag and bring it to her. Claire loves to go through my purse, too, so of course she brought me its contents throughout the class, too, until I got smart and put it up. (Remember, I was a mother of toddlers a LONG time ago. I’m a little rusty. My “duh” moment came when Claire called our veterinarian’s office on my cell phone. I hate telling Claire “no,” but I feared a long-distance call to Japan.)
In between diaper bag/purse mining, Claire and I sang songs, played tambourines, castanets and bells (I felt like Stevie Nicks for a moment), and we danced. A lot. I didn’t work out that day, but after 60 minutes of bopping, twisting, and lifting a 17-month-old kid, I had an idea for a new workout video: “The Grammy and Claire Dance and Sing Until Grammy Is Pooped Workout.”
Reason #493 why I am so devoted to maintenance: I’d have been WAY more pooped out 170 pounds ago.
Oh who am I kidding? I wouldn’t have even taken Claire to music class. We’d have stayed home and I would have missed out on yet another awesome once-in-a-lifetime precious moment that makes life so much fun.
On the way home, Claire sang the “Me” song she learned in class. The words are simple. “Me” is the entire first verse, “you” the second, and “we” the third. “Me” is one of the few words Claire says right now along with “wow,” “dat,” (a combination of “dad” and “Matt,” her dad’s name), and “uh oh.” Ask her what a kitty says and she says “mao,” like “Mao” Tse-Tung. Ask her what a doggy says and she pants. She’s brilliant, I tell you. Mensa material.
Her vocabulary isn’t quite enough to know what her speaking voice will ultimately sound like, but it’s exciting to listen to it emerge. What will she sound like in a year, five years, 20 years?
I thought about emergence as I cleaned out my flower beds yesterday and saw all the shoots emerging from the ground. As I raked dead leaves, pulled weeds, and bagged old mulch, I looked at my arms, thighs and calves and remembered when I was losing weight I liked watching them emerge. Even now, as I continue to challenge them with new exercises, I see muscles emerge in ways I didn’t expect. It’s still exciting. But I also wonder what they’ll look like in five years, 10 years, 20? Things will shift and change and am I prepared to watch a new kind of emergence, perhaps something not quite as optimistic as toned muscles?
I thought about the Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Claire’s voice, garden plants, this emerging, changing body of mine. Nothing gold can stay, but all are here now in this moment to appreciate them for what they are right now. And right now, this body can still plant and tend a garden, and most importantly, dance with Claire to “No More Monkeys (Jumping on the Bed).”
Friday, March 27, 2009
I began my efforts to improve my posture a few years ago when I added functional training techniques to my workout. But in time, I stopped doing them, mostly because I switched up my routine and, I admit, it was hard (said in my best whine). In the last few weeks, I’ve reintroduced a few back into my strength training regimen, such as standing on one foot during bicep curls (alternating halfway through a set) and laying on an exercise ball during triceps work and chest presses. The purpose is to improve balance and strengthen the core, thereby improving posture.
Still I get lazy and lean.
I found some good articles online on how to improve posture. How To Improve Your Posture on WikiHow offers practical tips on how to sit properly in an office chair, stand, stretch, things like that. You can find help on YouTube, too. But you know and I know that we can read and observe and study until we’re blue in the face, but unless we remember to utilize what we’ve learned when we need that knowledge the most, all that learning is for naught.
So here’s what I’m doing to improve my posture: I’m learning to remember.
My body is an excellent teacher if I’d just let it be. I get so preoccupied with thoughts that I forget to pay attention to what my body is doing behind my back. By not questioning the sensations and listening to my body, my mind ends up making all the decisions. This inattention, in large part, is how I got to be 300 pounds, and it’s why I find myself day after day leaning, slouching and shuffling along.
Learning to remember to pay attention to my body helped me lose weight and it will help me improve my posture. I’m determined it will. Being aware of my hand leaning on the counter or spigot, listening to my knee stiffen up as I cross one leg over the other, feeling my back arch and my neck crack because they aren’t aligned properly – these are the things I have to listen to.
The path of least resistance (read: being lazy) is causing my body all kinds of headaches, so the leaning and slouching has to stop.
How do you remember to listen to your body? Have you made an effort to improve your posture? Any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along would be appreciated.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The state of Connecticut is getting on the bandwagon, too, by looking into claims of fraud.
"There are no magical berries from the Brazilian rain forest that cure obesity, only painfully real credit card charges and empty weight loss promises," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "Aggressive acai berry pitches on the Internet entice countless consumers into free trials promising weight loss, energy and detoxification. These claims are based on folklore, traditional remedies and outright fabrications unproved by real scientific evidence."
While bloggers have been writing about this for months now, I’m glad authorities are finally looking into these ridiculous claims. I’m also glad I finally know how to pronounce “acai.” LOL
Another headline on CNN grabbed my attention: “Obesity can shorten lifespan up to a decade.”
While I realize BMI isn’t the be all and end all of fitness measurements, it’s still a pretty reliable tool in determining whether most people fall into the obese, overweight or normal weight categories.
“The researchers calculate that having a BMI of 30 to 35 takes to two to four years off the average lifespan compared with having a BMI of 22.5 to 25. Having a BMI between 40 and 45 (for example, being 5 feet 5” and weighing 240 to 270 pounds), they say, reduces one's lifespan by eight to 10 years. This reduction in lifespan is on par with being a heavy smoker.”
I began losing weight this last time mostly because I was afraid of the health repercussions and a little because of vanity. Actually, the two (health and vanity) collided in my imagination when I was 300 pounds and lived above my antique store – a very old 19th century building with long, narrow stairways. I thought, What if I need medical assistance and can’t get to the first floor by myself? How many people will it take to carry me down the narrow stairs? Could they carry me down the narrow stairs?
I don’t know what the long-lasting health affects I’ll incur from my obese past. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I can only do everything within my power to not become obese again. I may have already knocked off a few years of my lifespan. I don’t want to make any more contributions to that number. God knows science will probably determine I’m doing or consuming something that will surely do that for me.
In happier news, one of my Maintaining Diva friends, Sondra, is featured in next month’s Weight Watcher’s magazine. Her story is online now. Click here to read how she went from an inactive 242 pounds to a sleek 129-pound marathon runner. Please let me know if that link doesn’t work.
Sondra is encouraging and kind and realistic all at the same time. She’s also one of the healthiest eaters I know. Here she is after eating only half her dinner when the Divas met up in Connecticut last year.
I’m so proud of her and her marathon accomplishments. Mostly, I’m very blessed to call her my friend.
I’m heading to Pittsburgh for a few days to see Miss Claire and her mother and to visit Trader Joe’s. Maybe I’ll find some acai berries! LOL OK, maybe not. I’m sure they’re quite tasty, though, and would go well with Grape Nuts. I just won’t expect them to do amazing things for my sex life.
I’ll check back in in a few days. Be well and remember, don’t give your credit card to anyone promising to buff and shine your colon.
Monday, March 23, 2009
I read an article by HungryGirl over on Yahoo called Attack of the 1000-Calorie Meals which spotlighted a few of the most fat-laden meals at chain restaurants. What made me angry and sad at the same time were many of the comments that followed. A good number of commentators held the attitude, “We’re all going to die. May as well eat what we want” and “The government can’t tell me what to eat.”
Many people also commented that outrageously high caloric food items are “special treats,” things people don’t eat “every day” and when they do, people just need to “work out more” to make up for it. First of all, it is quite clear just looking out into any crowd that fat-laden, processed and unnutritious foods are not special treats, otherwise 65 percent of our populace wouldn’t be overweight or obese, and people are not working out more to make up for it. Also, there are long-term consequences for eating high-fat, low-nutrient foods even as “special treats.”
It’s time to open a can of whoop-ass on this country’s dietary ignorance.
I agree that the government shouldn’t tell us what to eat, but I believe in serious food regulations. The government forced cigarette and liquor companies to place health warnings on their products. So, too, should restaurants. And I’m not talking nutritional information brochures in every restaurant. Nope. I want full disclosure under each menu item: calories, fat and sodium content, the whole nine yards. Now I realize many Mom and Pop places have complained of the financial burden this would create for them. OK, how about they give a list of ingredients, just like we see on food packages in the grocery store? The only thing they’d have to change is their menu or maybe buy a bigger chalkboard.
And if these seems too constricting for adults, too “big brother,” I believe we, as a nation, are morally obligated to do something to save our children. Obesity is slowly killing them and robbing them of quality of life.
Do we really want to live in a society with, according to a paper published last year by Johns Hopkins University, an overweight and obesity rate of 86 percent by 2030? As Barbara Berkeley wrote on our Refuse to Regain blog last week, “The huge burden of disease that will come along with such an increase is expected to raise obesity related health-care spending from the current $100 billion to over $960 billion per year.”
And we thought the stimulus package was expensive. This is an every year expense, folks, not a one-time deal.
Education and regulation are imperative. Now. This isn’t about thwarting individual choice. It’s about helping people make better choices, and if they choose not to, they need to understand the health and economic price that they and everyone will pay.
I had a few other questions go through my mind when I wrote this:
1. Restaurants have long said that they’re just giving consumers what they want when they create their high-fat menus. I argue they are creating an atmosphere of want. If more restaurants created healthy alternatives, I believe people would, in time and with education, choose those items, too.
2. Is it possible to create a culture of healthy eating? And if so, how?
3. Who is more culpable? Is it always the individual or do food corporations and restaurants have a moral obligation to stop creating foods that are potential carcinogens?
Leave a comment. I look forward to the discussion.
Note to Anonymous who left a comment on yesterday’s erased post: I appreciate your passion and I thought you brought out some excellent points that I considered when reposting this blog entry sans the paragraph that set you off. While I stand by the spirit of what I wrote, I can see how the tone was biased and unfair.
Friday, March 20, 2009
On one of the lovely 70-degree days earlier this week, I went out and inspected the garden beds. Beneath all the debris, chive shoots have emerged. Bright green spikes growing out of the ground and smelling sweet and oniony. I cleared away a few leaves and took a good whiff. Mmmmmm….I can taste them in my omelets already. It’s so nice to see green among all the brown and rot.
I think I’ll plant carrots this year. I’ve fallen in love with carrots again. We had a falling out for a few years. I used to eat them like they were mandatory diet food, the “Oh well, can’t eat anything else” staple in my “diet mind.” For years they reminded me of deprivation and drudgery because I was for so long in a “I have to lose weight NOW so I’ll eat a carrot” mentality.
But carrots no longer go bad at the bottom of my crisper, thanks, in part, to this fabulous recipe I found in an old Weight Watcher’s cookbook. Contributed by Sara Schrader of Faribault, Minnesota, which is close to my old stomping grounds, it features my favorite herb in the whole world: tarragon. The only thing I changed was the oil. I don’t add it, but the original recipe calls for a teaspoon of canola.
Tarragon Carrot Salad
5 carrots, cut into ½-inch chunks
¼ C orange juice
1 T minced fresh tarragon or 1 t dried
1 T tarragon wine vinegar
¼ t sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 ½ C red grapes, halved
1. Steam carrots or cook in small amount of water until soft but not mushy. Drain and rinse with cool water.
2. Combine orange juice, tarragon, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix with carrots in a bowl. Add the onions and grapes; toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Without the added oil, there are 2 WW Points for 2 servings; 1 Point for 4 servings. I’ve heard that if you eat the entire thing as a serving, it’s 4 Points, but I wouldn’t know that personally or anything. Ahem.
I feel like I’ve emerged from a black hole now that it’s finally spring. The finches are back, the crocuses are budding, life is buzzing all around. I’m getting my thighs ready for biking season and I’m itching to dig out the summer clothes and hide the winter boots in the basement. Spring cleaning is cathartic.
I think I’ll celebrate this first day of spring with a trip to the greenhouse and a batch of Tarragon Carrot Salad. What are you doing on this vernal equinox?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Anyway, a strange and ponderous thing happened while my dentist was digging around in my mouth. He paid me a compliment, and I had to sit there and take it and not say a word because, well, his fingers and his assistant’s fingers, and a water tube, suction tube and a drill were lodged in my mouth.
First a little background. My dentist and my husband are colleagues. Dr. Jimmy is the founder of a medical research company called Clarion Research Group of which my husband is the vice president. It’s a new venture, but one that has great promise for creating products that ease post-surgical mouth pain and which already produces something called VeinStay, a device that looks like a fork and holds a vein in place during a needle stick when drawing blood or hooking up an IV. It’s a godsend for people like me with difficult-to-stick veins. (Click here if you want to see a spiffy photo of Dr. Jimmy with Larry and click here to read about the vein fork)
So, back to my story. Dr. Jimmy told me I was a great patient with a great attitude and that he was grateful for my support of CRG. My first thought was, “I’m nothing special. I just do what I’m told. I don’t move, don’t bite, don’t swallow too much…isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in a dentist’s chair?” Only I couldn’t say it out loud and had to sit there and let him say nice things about me without my rebuttal.
Then I thought, Why do I need a rebuttal? Why can’t I just hear kind words about me? Jim is sincerely grateful for my support. He thinks I’m a good patient. Let that be enough, Lynn. Let that warm your heart. Take it in and believe him!
Then I started wondering (because I had at least another two hours in the chair) how many times in a day, a week, a month that I hear, or rather DON’T hear, the nice things people say or appreciate the nice things people do for me without feeling unworthy of their kindness?
Answer? Probably every time. But I’m vowing now to change that.
I challenge you to do the same. How many times do people pay you a compliment about your hair, your clothes, your smile, your weight loss, your form in an aerobics class? Now how many times do you smile, say thank you, and really reflect that good feeling back to yourself?
The next time you are paid a compliment, pretend you’re in Dr. Jimmy’s chair with tubes and fingers in your mouth and you can’t say a word. Let their words sink in. See you from their perspective. I hope you find it easier to do than I did today, but I’m thinking it’s probably hard for many of you, too. But try. It will give you a whole new appreciation for yourself seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes.
Dr. Jimmy’s a good guy. His compliment meant a lot to me. But I wouldn’t have heard it and appreciated it as much if his finger’s hadn’t been lodged in my mouth. Sometimes it takes brute force to hear the good stuff about ourselves.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Ode to the Bear Coffin
Camping season is around the corner and vacationers will soon take to the roads in their RVs or lugging their fancy fifth wheels or pop-ups, destined for state parks or festivals or some relative’s driveway.
When I was a kid, my family went camping, too, only we didn’t have brand-name digs. We had The Bear Coffin.
Dad bought this little homemade gem in the late ‘60s. It was built on a 1953 Buick suspension and it folded out on opposite sides to sleep four. There was a cookstove and water faucet up front and the only luxury was the little toilet that let us avoid middle-of-the-night runs to the campground bathrooms. This was particularly beneficial during fish fly season.
Originally aqua colored, Dad painted it the same color gold as our living room and added a roll-out tarp above the door. My brother recently inherited that partially filled can of 40-year-old Supermix gold paint when Dad downsized his garage, but Dad kept the tarp. Nothing goes to waste in my family.
It was probably my mother who dubbed it The Bear Coffin. When it was folded down, its half-circle top and flat bottom was certainly large enough to hold a bear. It caused a lot of rubbernecking as we drove down the highway and it was always the talk of any campground we set up in.
While the camper accommodated four people comfortably, there were usually five or more of us on any given trip. This meant that the leftover people either had to take their chances that they wouldn’t get stepped on (or if I was in a berth, plopped on – I fell out of bed all the time) if they slept on the floor between the berths, or they bedded down in the Chevy station wagon, which is what my sister and I had to do on one of our family vacations to The Black Hills in South Dakota.
Being 15, Debbie got the back seat and I, not quite 8 at the time, was stuck in the front seat with my pillow on the passenger seat and my legs carefully tucked below the steering wheel. We were covered in mosquito repellant because the windows were rolled down, but the crickets chirped and the stars were bright and my sister taught me camping songs and told me stories.
Debbie was always kind to me, even when I stole her crutches after she’d injured her foot and after she busted me tape recording her and her boyfriend’s private conversation. She was politically active and tried explaining Vietnam and Watergate to me even though I was more interested in watching Captain Kangaroo and hanging upside down from our backyard elm tree. Mom often made us matching clothes, and during that trip to South Dakota, we both wore what I called our Wonder Woman shorts. They had white stars on blue and purple stripes and I remember being jealous of my beautiful sister who was tall and thin and filled out her shorts in a way my 8-year-old body could not (and never did, for that matter).
(This is me holding a postcard of Mt. Rushmore IN FRONT of Mt. Rushmore. What a dork. Anyway, those are my Wonder Woman shorts.)
Being it was summer and we camped on the Great Plains, thunderstorms were common, usually in the evenings around the cocktail hour. Dad loved Scotch on the rocks and what better way to obtain “rocks” in nature than by reaching his glass beyond the tarp to catch hail stones as they fell.
The Bear Coffin’s canvas was sensitive to rain and Dad told us that there was a chance it could leak during a storm, particularly if someone touched it. That’s not what I heard, though. What I heard was, “Don’t ever under any circumstances touch the canvas when it’s raining because a flood as big as Noah’s will come and sweep you away and you’ll never see your family again.” My little brother knew this was my fear, so when it rained, he’d make sure I was watching and put his finger a breath away from the canvas. In horror I’d scream, “Stop it! Don’t touch the Kansas!” Of course I meant “canvas,” but I didn’t hear the “v” sound when dad said the word, and being the sensitive people they are, no one in my family has let me forget that.
We went a lot of places with The Bear Coffin, places everyone should see once in their life – Lake Itasca and the mouth of the Mississippi; Wounded Knee, where we visited a Native American school my mom and her green stamps helped buy a school bus for; the Badlands, where Mom said a tree probably grew where I peed, perched between the opened front and back doors of the station wagon; Wall Drug; Hot Springs; and Devil’s Tower. And while it’s been 35 years since we took it camping, I can still remember how the door sounded when it was opened and closed. At the end of the night, I’d lie in bed and listen to Mom and Dad outside talking to other campers, then they’d come in to sleep and when Dad shut the door it sounded like the sucking sound of a hatch of a space ship, sealing us in a happy, warm pod.
More random photos.
My towhead brother and me at Flintstone Park. There are several photos in the album of the two of us sitting on various cartoon dinosaurs, and of course, us in the face cutouts of Wilma and Fred’s bodies.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Because I’m sensitive to caffeine, I buy mostly decaf, although I drink regular iced tea in restaurants. I also steep most flavored and herbal teas with an equal amount of decaf green tea. Green tea provides high levels of the phytochemical EGCG, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. While decaf green tea provides lower levels of EGCG than regular green tea, according to an MSNBC report, “Other studies show that markers of DNA damage decrease after drinking even black tea or decaf green tea.”
I didn’t realize how many tea flavors I had until I inventoried my cupboard for this blog. Here’s what I found, by brand:
Celestial Seasonings: Peppermint, Country Peach Passion, Wild Berry Zinger, Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride, Candy Cane Lane, Green Tea (I buy it in bulk and keep in a glass jar).
Trader Joe’s: Chamomile, Pomegranate White Tea, Irish Breakfast, Bedtime Tea (a mixture of peppermint and chamomile), Raspberry Infusion, Blackberry Infusion.
Tazo: Wild Sweet Orange
Bigelow: Earl Grey
London Fruit & Herb Company: Strawberry & Vanilla Fool
I bought the Tazo Wild Sweet Orange after spending copious amounts of money buying it by the (venti) cup at Starbucks. It’s strong, very strong, and works well iced. So do many of the teas in my cupboard, particularly the fruit kind. I steep four bags of flavored tea with four bags of green tea in eight cups of boiling water for 10-20 minutes (sometimes longer), remove the bags, allow to cool and then put it in a glass container in the refrigerator.
My latest tea find, ala Starbucks, is Vanilla Rooibos Latte. I was a little skeptical about a tea latte since I’m not a fan of milk in tea. Seems like heresy. Here’s the description from the S’bux website: “Full leaf African rooibos tea (naturally caffeine free), also known as red tea, paired with Tahitian vanilla and cinnamon. Sweetened with classic syrup and topped with steamed milk and velvety foam.”
The lady at S’bux never steers me wrong (she turned me on to the shamefully good cinnamon dolce latte and wild sweet orange tea), so I bought a tall rooibos (she pronounced it “roy bows”) to go. I wish, however, that I’d sat down and drank it like a sane person rather than take it on my hour-long drive from P’burgh to home.
There are no cup holders in the Jeep, so I tucked the cup precariously between my purse and a bag of Old Navy t-shirts. After 10 minutes, I was far enough out of the city and away from most of the traffic that I could put the Jeep in cruise and carefully lift the lid on the tea. Of course being S’bux, the tea was still a million degrees, but I wanted to get the tea bag out. With one eye on the road and the other on the cup, I yanked out the tea bag and threw it on the floor. Let’s just say there’re still remnants of “velvety foam” on the gears, seats and floor.
But it was worth the struggle and the wait for it to cool down. The vanilla is not overpowering and the milk simply adds texture, not flavor, which is good since I hate the taste of skim milk. A tall, non-fat latte is 2 WW Points and has 120 calories, no fat, 24 grams of carbs (a little high, I assume because of the syrup), 75 mgs sodium, and 20 percent RDA of calcium. It’s not an everyday treat, but that’s what makes it so special.
So let me have it, folks. What are your favorite teas? Some of you may suggest I try loose-leaf teas, and I plan to as soon as I find a good tea shop. (Any online suggestions since I live in Podunkville?) Also, how do you “take” your tea? I sweeten mine with stevia or take it straight up, but am I missing something by not adding milk or cream to certain teas?
I’m off to finish my cup of Earl Grey. I was in a bitter mood today. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I’m in a splendid mood, but I was in the mood for a bitter tea this morning, thus the Earl Grey. Hot. Just like Captain Picard.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
While I suspect I went over 300 pounds sometime in late 2004, I don’t have documented proof from the scale. In May 2004, I was 296 at my doctor’s office. February 1, 2005, I was 280. According to my medical record, the only one that kept track of my weight, I’d “technically” lost 16 pounds. But I’d steadily gained 2-3 pounds a month the year before, so the math (and the fact that size 28s were getting tight) would suggest I was probably 310 or so at my highest.
Looking back, I kind of wish I’d gotten on a scale in October or November 2004 and seen 300, but I remember how depressed I was seeing a 2 as my first number. I can’t imagine how I’d have reacted to a 3.
On the opposite side of the scale is my goal weight anniversary. Tomorrow I’ll celebrate 2 years of maintenance. It took me 2 years, 2 months and 12 days to go from 296+ to 138. Even though I kept losing the first year of maintenance, it wasn’t a conscious effort, and 138 will always be the weight at which I declared goal.
When I started losing weight the last time (and I do mean LAST…I’m never doing a gain and loss like that again, god willing), I thought if I could get to 190, I’d be happy. It was a familiar number, one at which I could bend over and not cut off my breath, I didn’t feel huge, and hundred other reasons. Then somewhere in the low 200s, I thought maybe 170 would be good. Then around 190, I thought 150 would be the bottom weight. Then I got to 150 and thought, no, I need to go a little lower. Goal was like a carnival game, “Down and down she goes! Where she’ll stop? No one knows!”
Some of you have read the following story. I included it in the foreword I wrote in my Refuse to Regain blogging partner Barbara Berkeley’s book, “Refuse to Regain: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You’ve Earned.” It’s a short retelling of the day I hit goal.
I made goal on a cloudy March day in 2007. I was at my doctor’s office for a routine checkup. I weighed 138 pounds. I said to my doctor, "So, do you suppose I’m done?" She said, "I think you can stop now." And that boring little exchange was how I became what Dr. Berkeley calls a POW – Previous Overweight Person. There was no fanfare, no confetti, no fireworks, no angels flying around the room singing "Hallelujah." Just me, my doctor and my medical file in which my doctor wrote, “Lost 158 pounds in two years, two months and 12 days.”
I walked out of the her office no longer a person losing weight but a person maintaining weight. I got in my car, sat there for a moment, then thought, “Now what?”
I’d been on countless diets in the past and the few times I made goal, I celebrated with food, essentially saying, “Finally! I can go eat again!” But this time was different. I was different. I didn’t want to celebrate with a Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard and a corn dog. I wanted to figure out what to do next so I wouldn’t go back to the way things used to be, to gaining weight again. I wanted off that merry-go-round.
So many weights. So many anniversaries. But you know what? While I’m very glad to be a woman who’s lost 160-some pounds and who’s celebrating 2 years at goal, I’m especially proud to be the mother of a girl who reminds me every day that I am more than my weight. Because for 26 years and for every weight in between, I raised a beautiful, intelligent, kind and loving child who has become my dear friend. I can’t imagine life, at any weight, gets better than that.
Monday, March 9, 2009
According to Gourmet Sleuth, “Broccoli rabe (pronounced broccoli rob) is also referred to as rabe or rapini. This is another leafy green vegetable that is frequently eaten in Southern Italy and has become popular in the United States. The vegetable has a slightly bitter taste and is frequently steamed or lightly sautéed in olive oil. “The Broccoli Rabe flower looks similar to the broccoli florets. Despite the name this plant is not a type of broccoli but it is in the same brassica family. One of the many health benefits of this vegetable is that it is rich in certain phytochemicals, including sulforaphane and indoles. These are chemicals which are proving to protect us against cancer.”
I did a quick search for online recipes and decided to wing it since most of the recipes called for sausage and pasta and all I wanted was some leafy green goodness.
I loosely chopped half the bunch of broccoli rabe and blanched it for about 2 minutes in a pan of boiling water. While it drained, I sautéed a couple cloves of fresh minced garlic in a half-teaspoon of olive oil, added a couple shakes of red pepper flakes and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Then I added the broccoli rabe, heated it through, and sprinkled a tablespoon of grated parmesan on top.
Broccoli rabe is strong and bitter, but combined with all the other flavors, it was really very tasty. I can see how it would go well with pasta, beans or rice. If any of you have tried it and have a recipe, please share.
I’m getting closer to perfecting homemade fat-free refried beans. I cooked up some dried pinto beans this morning, mashed them this afternoon and added a mishmash of spices, then baked it all up in a covered casserole. I just ate a spoonful and I think I’m pretty close to getting the spices just the way I want them. They’re going in a Tex-Mex casserole I’m making tonight, so we’ll see how they get along with the other ingredients.
Have any of you made refried beans with black beans? I think I want to try making them next time. If you have a recipe, I’d love to see it!
That’s all for today. Short and sweet (or bitter, considering the rabe). Hope your week is off to a good and healthy start. I leave you with a little joke my friend Pam sent me today. After these refried beans, this may be the way I weigh myself tomorrow!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I’ve been contemplating the whole big-boned issue since I saw a photo of my back last week. I had a small cyst removed in the middle of my back and I wanted to see what the stitches looked like. So I had Larry take a photo. (Yes, that’s some of my infamous skin hanging over my bra – lol. And the tattoo is the unfinished “gift” I gave myself when I turned 30…long story…involves beer…)
What I see in the photo is a wide, thin back. Hmmm… Wide AND thin? How could that be? I’m big boned, ergo, I’m fat….ah…fat…there’s the rub. Ouch.
It’s apparent that it’s time to reconsider the language I use to describe myself to myself.
Insurance companies like Metropolitan Life publish weight tables that are broken into three categories: small, medium and large frames. I always assumed I had a large frame. (Remember, I’m big boned.) I found a handy site called Ideal Body Weight Chart with instructions on how to determine frame size. Using both the wrist and elbow measurements, I have a small to almost medium frame.
Me? Small to medium? That description is so foreign, like someone calling my eyes brown when clearly they’re blue/green. I’d never think to describe myself as “small to medium.” I mean, I’m big boned! People said so when I was 14 and 25 and 40!
I realize now that this big-boned description was probably at the heart of what I call the “black-hole phase” when I hit 150 pounds almost three years ago. I believed what everyone said, that I was big boned and therefore a large frame. Therefore, my “ideal” weight, according to the charts, was between 137-155. Problem was, 150 didn’t feel ideal. I’d always settled for it as my ideal weight, my “magic” weight, but once there, it felt wrong. I knew I was still carrying more fat than was healthy for me and my joints, but I was afraid that maybe my big bones needed to be 150 and I was just being selfish or unrealistic.
It didn’t help that a lot of people told me not to lose any more, that my bones were starting to stick out. Was I looking freakish? I didn’t think so, but then, what did I know? I’d been letting other people tell me what to do in terms of my weight all my life. But this time I let my body decide where it was most comfortable and it seemed to like it around 128. Gee…right where it should be, according the the “ideal weight” chart for a small to medium frame.
I realize now that there’s a difference between being big boned and being broad. I have broad shoulders and a broad back. I’m down to bare bones and will never have a chest measurement less than 34 inches (when measured without the “girls”). I have long legs and wide hips, but I won’t call them big anymore. Yes, I’m bony, but that’s just the way I’m put together.
And I like my bones. One of the most fun parts about losing weight was seeing them emerge month after month, pound after pound. I was ecstatic when my collar bones started jutting through the fat somewhere around 200 pounds. Then came my wrist bones and hip bones, foot bones and cheek bones. Seeing them and feeling them on a daily basis is another one of those things that keep me in maintenance. I don’t ever want to cover my jaw line with a triple chin again.
So I’m eliminating the term “big-boned” from my self-descriptors. Instead, I’m a small to medium and broad. I’m a broad broad!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Today’s blog topic is kitchen gadgets.
“Hello, I’m Lynn and I’m a kitchen gadget addict.”
I collect them like dust bunnies. I have peelers, mincers, zesters, graters, choppers, spoons (wooden, plastic and metal), ladles, separators, blenders, knife sharpeners, cork screws (manual and electric), mixers, whisks, spatulas (rubber and metal), thermometers, and tongs. (I think blogger Beanie has the same addiction, given the kitchen tour she gave in a recent blog.) My sister is not helping matters. She just became a Pampered Chef representative. If my husband finds out, he’ll lock up my wallet like a chastity belt, so let’s just keep this between us, OK?
Yesterday I was reminded of an oft forgotten item that I consider a kitchen gadget: rubber gloves. I know they feel unnatural, they can’t give you the skin-on-food sensual pleasure, but seriously. Use them when cutting hot peppers. And don’t wipe your nose until you take them off. They are also handy when peeling beets because afterwards, you won’t look like you’re starring in a “Friday the 13th” movie.
While not a kitchen gadget per se, I use a lot of my gadgets after reading one of my favorite food blogs: Yummy Diet Food. From author Juliet’s info page: “I love food! I am also both weight and health conscious, and I don't like to eat foods full of unhealthy ingredients (especially the ones targeted at dieters these days). So, I created Yummy Diet Food for people like me who are looking for low calorie foods that are both healthy and delicious (meaning *no* artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup or sugar alcohols).” She had me at “I love food!”
Sign up to have Juliet’s postings sent right to your inbox! I’ve tried several of her recipes and have not been disappointed. I especially loved the Orange Julius-like Smoothie last week.
Back to kitchen gadgets. I’d like you to weigh in on two questions.
# 1: What’s your favorite gadget and why should I buy it? (Because you know I will.)
# 2: How the heck do you clean a hand grater without running it through a dishwasher? Because I don’t own one. And those dammmm graters eat up my sponges. Am I doomed to having dried out cheese yuck on my graters even after washing them?
Thanks, as always, for your advice and comments!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I made two food discoveries today that I’m sure many of you will write and say, “You’re just figuring this stuff out NOW? Where have you been, girl!” Please be kind.
First, a confession. Until two years ago, I professed to hate plums, even though I’d never tried one. After all these years (26 to be exact) of mothering and goading my kids with the old “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?” routine, I was adamant that I hated plums. I know it’s because I had a negative association with plums, and you’ll laugh when you find out what it is. It’s stupid, really.
When I was a kid, my dad owned the grocery store in our little town. Next door was the hardware store, and the owner, Paulie, would come in, grab a plum from the produce case and toss me a dime. This happened every year and every damn day they were in season. He never let me weigh the plum to make sure he was paying us enough. He just grabbed a plum and threw me a dime. It really ticked me off. How inaccurate! What if it was 12 cents? 13 cents? I was sure he was ripping us off. Never mind that Paulie fitted me for the grooviest tennis shoes ever (Keds boys high tops) or sold me ammunition for my dad’s .22 and my 4-10 shotguns when I was 11 (you had to be 16) or that he gave me a deal on my very first bike (an aqua 5-speed that I saved all year to buy for $75). I was sure every plum cost more than a dime. Obviously that stick I’m known for was firmly planted up my ass at an early age.
Fast forward *ahem* 35 years…
I was at a farmer’s market a few summers ago and a woman was selling little yellow plums. Cutest things you’ve ever seen. While I looked at them, she said, “Try one!” I thought of Paulie and the dime and I could feel my nose crinkle and my head start to shake “no” and then I thought, “Let it go, you twit. That was soooo 35 years ago. Put the plum in your mouth!” And so I did.
It was love at first bite. The chewy tart skin and the sweet soft inside…I bought a pint and dashed to my car. I cleaned a few with the bottled water and Kleenex I had stashed in the glove box. I ate them and sighed in regret. I wasted so many years and deprived myself of so many plums! I made it my mission to spend the rest of my life making up for lost time.
Plums have turned into a quasi-addiction, although I’m quite sure you can’t be dangerously addicted to fruit. I especially love them cut up in Greek yogurt. This week I added 3 tablespoons of Grape-Nuts to the mix for an even more complex taste sensation. The texture is unreal.
Anyway, as I was saying, I made two food discoveries, one involving plums. It’s the pluot. Dappled on the outside, pink on the inside, it’s half plum, half apricot, but it takes more after the plum side of the family. I bought two of them at Whole Foods today. After loading the groceries in the car, I grabbed one and ate it in the car in the parking lot while the car warmed up. I reluctantly shared with Pa, who liked them, too, and I was tempted to go back and buy a bunch more, but then I remembered I’d also bought apples, bananas, grapefruit, tangerines and strawberries. A girl can only eat so much fruit in a week.
Our next stop was Trader Joe’s, but I got all the regulars there: Greek yogurt, stevia, baby bok choy, tea, almonds, flaxseed crackcrackers, Ak Mak crackcrackers, some bacon for the man of the house. My next food find was at our last stop: Starbucks.
After buying the puppies their favorite chews in bulk at PetSmart, Pa and I headed over to the ‘Bux for sustenance for the hour-long ride home. I was in the mood for something cold, even though the temperature never rose above freezing. I ordered an iced skinny cinnamon dolce latte, which I’d looked up online and saw was only 1.5 Points for a grande. After last week’s S’bux vanilla rooibos latte discovery, I doubted anything could equal its yumminess. I believed I’d hit latte nirvana.
As I prepared for disappointment, I plunked down my dollars, bought Pa a normal old coffee, then buckled myself into the car for the ride home.
Once on the highway, I took a sip. Oh. My. Goodness. Heaven. On. Ice.
If you love coffee, cinnamon, and brown sugar, but hate milk (as in cow’s milk) like I do, this cinnamon dolce thingy (dolce meaning, “In a gentle and sweet manner. Used chiefly as a direction.” Yeah, as in, “Get in my belly!”) is your ticket to palate paradise.
It enjoyed it for 30 miles and I sucked the straw for the remains of coffee goodness on the bottom just as we hit the intersection of routes 66 and 28.
I sat back in my seat and sighed. A pluot and a latte, both in one afternoon. Decadence at its finest.
Now I’m home and contemplating dinner. Might be butternut squash with the pasta sauce I made the other night. Might be a veggie burger. Doesn’t matter. I’ve got a food grin on my face no other food will wipe off for a long while.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Michelle Obama works out 90 minutes three days a week with a personal trainer. CNN ran a story about it recently with some added tips on how to start a strength training routine. One part that struck me as catty was this: “When Obama emerged with uncovered arms on Tuesday, some grumbled about her showing too much skin on an occasion where other women were wearing long sleeves or suits. Boston Herald columnist Lauren Beckham Falcone wrote to Obama, ‘It's February. Going sleeveless in subzero temperature is just showing off. All due respect.’”
She’s just jealous. If I could do sleeveless like Michelle Obama, heck yeah I’d be doing it in subzero temps!
I know many of you reading already have a strength-training regimen. I also know some of you reading are concerned you’ll bulk up. Three words: It. Can’t. Happen. Not unless you start injecting A-Rod drugs in your bum, you will not bulk up like a body builder. I work my upper body five days a week. I do 3 sets/15 reps of four rehab exercises five days a week (wall push-ups and rotator cuff, biceps and lat work with a Theraband), and in addition, I do 30 minutes of upper body work twice a week. You’ve seen my photo. I’m no body builder, but my muscles are toned. Not Obama toned, but then, that’s my new goal, right?
And as if having toned arms isn’t enough, strength training builds lean muscle mass and bone density (click here to read what the Mayo Clinic says about strength training). Because I haven’t had a period in two years and my blood tests all come back normal (I’m not in perimenopause), my doctor sent me in for a bone density test to make sure I wasn’t wasting away inside. After the test, the technician told me I had the bones of a 30-year-old! 45-year-old, creaky-joint, gray-haired me has the bones of a 30-year-old! (Now if I could just get that skin elasticity back…) She asked me if I lifted weights and I told her I did. She said that was it and to keep it up. And so I do.
I’ve written about this before, but I’m still amazed at what ST did for me while I was losing weight. I’d started walking for exercise in April 2006. My measurements were 44-38-49 and I weighed 187. In September, five months later and just before joining the gym, they were 41-36.5-45.5 and I weighed 164. Two months later, after adding strength training to my routine and upping my cardio routine by implementing the elliptical and bike, and by walking at higher inclines on the treadmill, my measurements were 39-33.5-42.5 and I weighed 152.7. While the scale moved at a respectable rate, what really improved were my measurements. Eight inches gone in two months!
I don’t use weight machines anymore. I prefer dumbbells and a barbell and my own body weight (Pilates and yoga), but whatever you choose to use, use it! Work your arms, your back, your core, your legs. Cardio isn’t enough. In fact, I’ve cut back my cardio routine to 2-3 hours a week and ramped up the ST to 3 hours a week and I’m maintaining my weight just fine. I was worried at first since I’d been such a slave to cardio, but taking that leap of faith rewarded me with much stronger, leaner muscles than I could ever achieve sweating on an elliptical for six hours a week.
As always, I recommend the books “Body For Life for Women” by Pamela Peeke, “The Body Sculpting Bible for Women” by James Villepigue, Hugo Rivera, Nicole Rollolazo, and Robert Kennedy, and “Strength Training For Women” by Joan Pagano. Also, a big shout out to MizFit who also has the rockin’ arms (and rockin’ everything else) and offers a lot of simple, everyday ways to fit ST into your day.
So…thank you again Mrs. Obama for inspiring me and being a role model for women’s strength training. I hope you ignore those green-eyed naysayers and keep on keepin’ on with those sleeveless dresses.