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Choices Choices Choices February 12, 2010

The thing about this healthy living, is it’s all about choices. Every minute really.  It takes a bunch of thinking, and planning, and figuring out, what is the best choice in this moment?

Every time I lead a WW meeting I ask members if they have any challenges coming up this week. It’s funny, there’s ALWAYS a challenge of some sort, isn’t there? (heh)

My challenge this week is that Mr. McBody and I are going to celebrate his birthday dinner with family at a fancy French restaurant tomorrow. I looked it up. It looks… amazing.

It’s always good to look things up first, to get prepared to make those choices. What do I want? What am I willing to pass up, and what am I not? Well, there are always a bunch of things that one can do when facing a celebratory meal at a fancy place.

  1. Get lots of activity before and after. Check. I had a killer “last chance workout” with trainer today. And I’ve worked out every day this week. I plan to work out on Sunday for SURE but maybe tomorrow as well.
  2. Check out the menu! Make choices beforehand.  I am pretty sure I want mussels. I loooooooove mussels. Happily, they are kind of a lean protein and there’s not much of it anyway. I guess the issue is the broth they’re in. And the bread. And the fries. Hmmm…. do I want bread? or fries? I think I want bread, with which to sop up the yummy mussel juice.
  3. I think I am actually OK without wine or cocktails. I will go with sparkling water/ice/lime combo.
  4. I do want at least a couple bites of dessert, so I’ll share with someone.
  5. Light breakfast/lunch beforehand.
  6. Dip into those 35 “extra” points if necessary.

See? That wasn’t so bad. I think I can emerge from this dinner unscathed. Or at least only partially scathed. And maybe I can have a COUPLE fries… I’ll report back after.

The OTHER issue which I did not mention is that we are meeting other friends for BRUNCH on SUNDAY. Agh…… if there’s anything worse than a fancy restaurant meal, it’s TWO fancy restaurant meals in a row. I’m gonna have to be super duper mindful of that one, and be SURE to work out on Sunday. The good thing about brunch, too, is that it is two meals in one. :-)

So yeah, it’s a never ending choice-fest out there. I think one good thing about having these “major” events is that it causes me to be extra-extra mindful. I probably get in more trouble on ordinary days when I assume I am making good choices when I’m probably not.

 

Foodie on the Fly! October 8, 2009

Wow, it’s been whirlwindish since I left home … two days ago? I’m sad to say that even though I had all good intentions of using my friend’s home gym I never made it down there. :-( Now I am at another friend’s, and I am fully planning on doing SOMEthing tomorrow morning since I do not have to get up super early.

But it’s been awesome. I went back to the little hometown I grew up in (population 8,000) and had an incredibly wonderful time with old friends I haven’t seen, some in 30 (!) years. I visited my old high school with my high school best friend. We found our old lockers, sat in the senior lounge at the cafeteria (place of huge social status!), ate at the famous down in the center of town. Gosh, I miss diners. They are all over New Jersey but they really don’t have this kind of diner where I live now. It was awesome to be in there and to hear people tawkin’ like I’m used to. Did you know that James Gandolfini (Jimmy in my memory) came from my home town? He was a year behind me in high school.  Nice signed photo of him up in the town diner, because of course HE has fond memories of the place too. I was sad to see that the local Friendly’s is now a bank, and the place that used to make amazing hot donuts and cider is no longer. Just as well, right? I could’ve just eaten my nostalgic way through the week!

I have no idea what is happening weight-wise. Yesterday we didn’t have time for dinner before meeting other HS buddies so we just ordered some appetizers from the bar. I  nibbled at a plate of seared ahi, and had two stuffed (with seafood) mushrooms. I ordered a cocktail that was REALLY BAD so I followed up with some mineral water and lime. Today I was on the run hobble all day, so just ended up having some fruit, half a scone, a bowl of miso soup and one piece of sashimi.  BUT I haven’t exercised all week, so… we shall see.

Folks on the Biggest Loser are right; it’s really challenging to eat in restaurants for a week and still lose weight. AND to be in a freaking cast boot. I’m not aiming to lose this week but I am sure hoping I can at least maintain. WW training is just 3 days after I get home. I don’t know if they’re going to weigh us (GOD I HOPE NOT) but I want to look as good as possible.

 

The Café Didn’t Change; I Did May 19, 2009

I work on a street that, for better and for worse, is lined with dozens of great restaurants, cafes and shops. I hardly ever bring my lunch to work because… well, because I am lazy. And it’s so easy to find great food just steps away from my office.

The closest place to my office is a very Zen-ish tea shop. I love their teas but in the past have hated their food. My co-worker and I have agreed that their food was “really bad.” But what it is, is very simple, unadorned, and HEALTHY food. It used to bore us to tears. Their soups are all based on some kind of vegetable broth. Their sandwiches seemed just… meh.  We would walk way out of our way to go to other places on the street, which when I think about it now, have soups that are filled with cream or cheese, and really decadent sandwiches.

Recently I was in a total rush for time and didn’t have time to be walking all over the place for food. I went to the tea shop and ordered a chicken salad sandwich.  I wasn’t expecting much. Now normally a chicken salad sandwich is pretty rich – gloppy with mayo, etc. But this sandwich was so different. First, it’s on very dense whole grain bread. Then, the chicken itself is dressed with probably 1/2 teaspoon of mayo, total, and some herbs. And it has about pound (okay, I exaggerate!) of dark leafy greens, and also has some sliced almonds and grapes thrown in.

It’s good. It’s sooooooo good.  And I am amazed at how delicious and clean and yummy and healthy this sandwich is. Months ago, I would have sneered and called it “bad food” because I was so used to eating food that was super rich and dense with fat. Now, I see their tomato lentil soup and I think how good that sounds. I call the other cafe and when they tell me about their super cheesy chowder, it just feels like… too much.

Neither place has changed their menu at all. But I have.

And now I’m so glad that my favorite lunch spot is only about 100 feet from my desk. :-)

 

Feedback from the Scale: It’s Just Information April 20, 2009

So my weight was up a few pounds when I got back to my home scale this morning. I’m not completely shocked, and for once not distraught or freaked out over seeing that plus sign. I can attribute it traveling for 3-4 days, eating out every meal, eating in greater quantities, and exercising less. Although I was exhausted from walking around in 90 degree heat, it wasn’t the same as working out. I had two sesssions at the hotel fitness center but not as regular as usual.

I think the thing I am happiest about is that I’m not flipping out. I’m not feeling GUILTY or overly upset. I looked at those numbers and just said, “Hmm. Okay. Now what?”

On Saturday night I went back to the same restaurant as Friday night (with the dieters) – this time it was with a group of other parents, and we all ordered from the menu. The food was awesome.

I had: a glass of wine (first time since my dx – I was experimenting), a bunch of grilled/marinated veggies from antipasti plate (artichokes, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomato), about 4 little fried calamari rings, about 3-4 oz of seared ahi tuna with tomatoes, 3 tiny pieces of potato, a bite of chicken from my hubby’s plate, and… some whipped cream (from the top of the complimentary tiramisu) and blueberries/strawberries.

It was all really really delicious. I enjoyed it a LOT. I was more concerned with my blood sugars than my weight, though, so I took an extra dose of Metformin before going to bed. When I woke up, all was well.

I’m thinking about the two “optional” items I don’t usually get – the wine and the little portion of dessert. Was it worth it? Would I, in the future, choose to forgo those things, or would I do it all again the same way?

Hard to say. I’m going to see how long it takes me to get back down to last week’s pre-trip weight. If it happens fairly quickly,  I’d say it was all worth it. I didn’t pig out, I wasn’t crazily full. If it takes forever (how long is “forever?” two weeks??) then I’ll have to re-evaluate.

So my answer to “now what” is I’m going to eat as mindfully/cleanly as possible, try to step up the exercise a bit this week, and see how it goes.

UPDATE: so it took me exactly 9 days to get back to the pre-trip weight. It wasn’t forever. But of course it takes longer  – a lot longer – to take it off than to put it on.  I’m not upset about this. I don’t think it was “not worth it.” It was just… interesting. (I’m channeling my meditation teacher now: “Just notice.”)

 

I Am Ungrateful. March 21, 2009

So, in my continued quest for healthy and yummy food, today I paid a visit to the (in)famous Cafe Gratitude. I first learned of this place when a friend of mine wrote about it in her novel, and I swear I thought she had made it up, it was sooooo crazy. But no, it is quite real.

There are so many aspects of this place that are really laudable, but really it like some bizarro New Age raw food experiment gone completely, completely awry. Just click through their website if you think I am kidding. But I did that before going, and it was nothing like the real experience. Believe me, I did this today so that none of you ever, ever have to.

First, the hostess. “Find where you want to sit, and I’ll follow you around and give you your menu.” She can’t just HAND me the menu and let me find a table. So I wandered through the front room, the back room and almost out to the patio and she’s trailing me like a puppy dog. Finally after perusing the entire place I decide I want to go back to the front room, which is quieter, less crowded and has smaller tables. She gave me my menu with an annoyed look like, “It sure took you long enough, and why didn’t you sit here the first time you saw it?”

The menu. Not only do they give everything a faux-New Age cutesy name like “I Am Satisfied,” rather than “small green salad” or “I am Sensational” for a bogus “pizza” (with no crust and no cheese) made with hemp seed – not only that, but they FORCE YOU to SAY “I’d like “I am Sensational,” or they will not bring you your food. You can’t just mumble, “Hemp seed pizza, please.” I AM NOT KIDDING. I had already learned this from reading some Yelp reviews, and I did not want to get into a whole power struggle with my server, so I just sucked it up and said, trying to snort back my laughter, “I Am Satisfied, I am Thriving, I am Refreshed.” (translation: small salad, small mushroom soup, small lemonade with agave syrup)

I could tell they were getting their hemp panties in a twist because I was Twittering into my iPhone rather than doing seated yoga while I waited for my food, but I did not care.

Finally it arrived. The mushroom soup, while pretty tasty, was only lukewarm. I should add that 90% of the food at Cafe Gratitude is raw, ie. uncooked. Even the pizza. (whyyyyyyyyyy do they even bother to call it pizza? I suspect just to completely enrage people. A buckwheat “flatbread” (ie cracker) topped with “cashew parmesan” (It’s crumbled nuts!!!! It’s NOT CHEESE!) and cold tomato sauce is not, by any stretch of any imagination, pizza.

I think they really believe that to heat a food is to mortally harm it. Thus, my soup was borderline room temperature. I really like my hot food hot and my cold food cold, so this was annoying. Then my salad came. It was no more than a handful of greens with some shredded carrots, oil and vinegar, more nut “cheese” and two delicately placed “teriyaki almonds” on top, as decoration. Almonds are very key ingredients over at Cafe Gratitude. All dairy products, like milk shakes and ice cream, are made with almond milk. What, they think almonds don’t hurt when you milk them? They think almonds don’t have SOULS just because they don’t have eyeballs, or footprints? Please.  My lemonade was the favorite part- lemony, sparkly, sweetened with agave which I have been curious to taste (one of the very few natural sweeteners with a low glycemic index) with a nice sprig of mint. Mmm! It WAS refreshing!

I happened to be sitting nearby the barista, who would prepare a drink, and then bellow out, “MARISAAA! YOU ARE REJUVENATED! (wheatgrass cocktail)” or “AMY! YOU ARE ECSTATIC! (vanilla latte)” It was actually too surreal for words.

This place takes Mindful Eating and shoves it down your throat. After I ate, my server took my dishes and said, “Our question of the day (QUESTION OF THE DAY?!?) is, ‘What makes your heart open?'” My jaw almost dropped to the ground. But again, not wanting to get into a scuffle or accumulate too much bad karma, I said, with a straight face, “My daughter.” (which happens to be true) She said, “Awww!! Great answer!” and glided (glid?) away.

She returned with my bill. I glanced at it. Then I took another look and my eyeballs almost popped out of my head. Unfortunately, I had not paid close attention to the pricing on the menu, so distracted I was by all the “I am Blissful” menu items.

My bill for a “small cup” of lukewarm soup, a “small salad,” and a Very Small Lemonade, however refreshing, came to $23.

I was like, not amused.

Nor were the blue-haired grannies who were sitting near me. They had been escorted into CG by their two ratty-haired twenty something granddaughters. They looked absolutely bewildered, appalled and frightened by the place (and rightly so). After getting a long-winded orientation to the menu by the server, I heard one of the granddaughters say, “Grandma, it’s ALL VEGETABLES.” And no, they don’t really cook them either. It’s going to be a long luncheon, ladies.

What could I do? I paid. I left. I went home and looked up the menu for world-renowned Chez Panisse, which is just a block or two down the street. Guess what? Their salads and soups (for the DINNER menu!) was the exact same price as this vegan nuthouse.

Mindful: I “checked in” with my stomach about 45 minutes after lunch, and I was a ravenous, gaping cavern of hunger. I was So. Not. Satisfied.

Went home and had some nice Irish Cheddar with Guinness Stout. (the stout is cooked into the cheese; it’s awesome) Felt better immediately.

 

This “Fullness” Thing March 15, 2009

So I know that the mantra of mindful eating (and also Weight Watchers, BTW) is that one is supposed to “eat when hungry, stop when full.” Sounds simple, right? But for me it is one of the most difficult things to grasp.  I guess for so many years I did no such thing – I ate for ten million other reasons than hunger, and went way beyoooooond fullness, that it’s like trying to learn how to knit on a unicycle.

Last night we went out to this fantastic Italian restaurant. (daughter was out with friends so I skipped the pot pie thing for another time) I was all prepared. I’d had a fairly light lunch. It was after my weigh in. I’d accumulated many “activity points” from my nice long walk/run.  I told myself I’d have plenty of points to spare, so while I was not going to pig out, I would relax. And yet try to remain mindful.

When we got there, I was thirsty. I drank a big glass of sparkling water with lemon.  I had a teeny little piece of bread about the size of a biteful. This restaurant brings things Sicilian-style, which means family style and everyone shares. I didn’t have a problem with that, in fact I thought it sounded like a good option. Appetizer one arrived: eggplant rollatini, which I adore. I divided it into four little sections, each one about two bites.  I took one little section and thoroughly savored it.  Lovely. Then we had an antipasti plate. I had a wee little strip of prosciutto, and about a tablespoon’s worth of marinated bell pepper and eggplant. Nummy.

But then, guess what? I was full. Or at least satisfied. I think my stomach was so full of bubbly water, that those five BITES of food were literally enough. But our entrees hadn’t arrived. I started feeling bummed out, like knowing I was supposed to stop there, but not wanting to miss the main courses. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do.

The main stuff arrived: homemade linguini with clams, and a big tureen of mussels. I’m sure I had enough points to enjoy both of these things. I really wanted to taste them. I took about 1/2 cup of linguini, about four clams and four mussels. You know how big clam and mussel meat is? It’s TINY. Probably totalling about three tablespoons. Max. The linguini was absolutely divine, but as I ate I was conflicted.

Mind you, I was much LESS full than I ever would have been normally – I was just MORE full than “satisifed,” which would’ve stopped after the appetizers.

So while I loved the dinner (I really, really did) I also felt distracted and confused by what I was “supposed” to be doing.

I guess I’ll figure it out someday, and be able to eat in relative peace.

Meanwhile, my copy of the Zen of Eating arrived in the mail. So far, I am loving it.  I think it might give me some help with this area.

 

Overdoing It? March 7, 2009

Filed under: diet,Food Blogs: Yum Yum — Susan @ 12:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Last night I went out to dinner with a co-worker (actually my boss) and two guest speakers who are in town for this conference today. We went to a really nice place that I’ve been to a few times with my husband. There were so many good looking things on the menu and I got kind of overwhelmed; so I ordered a grilled asparagus appetizer (ie 4 stalks of asparagus grilled with lemon and about half an ounce of Manchego cheese) and for my entree, a big salad (a huge amount of lettuce, very lightly dressed with about 1/4 apple, a tablespoon of blue cheese crumbles, and maybe 4 walnuts). Was it virtuous, eating “right” or just over the top?

Everyone else had “regular” salads or appetizers and entrees. I don’t want to be that conspicuous ‘dieting person’ when going out with a group. All of my food tasted really delicious but it wasn’t totally satisfying in the end. I had eaten VERY lightly all day in anticipation of the dinner out, so I had “banked” my points so I could eat semi-normally. But when I got there I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I think there has to be a balance – between figuring out what I want, and not eating too much or the wrong things. I think I ultimately did not trust myself last night, so only ordered a vegetable and salad.

Today I am going to be at this conference all day with very few choices of what to eat. I better run down and make my own breakfast b/c when I get there it will be coffee and pastries, and if I’m hungry, adrenalized and stressed, that’s not what I want to eat.

Trying to figure out the restaurant thing. I’ll probably have another chance to “practice” tonight at the post-conference dinner. Hmm….

PS. And another thing. After my 2 hour workout and my paltry dinner last night, I’m still stuck at that darned 13 lb mark. Booo.

 

 
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