eat, move, think, feel


February 2009

Potluck Pitfalls

So, the potluck was only semi-successful, foodwise. First, I waited too long to get in line for the food. I didn’t want to just dive at it first thing, and there were a lot of people around the table, so I milled around and perused the auction items and got my glass of mineral water (no bowl of cut limes, though :-() before going to get my food. And guess what happened? By the time I got to my dish of beautiful roasted veggies, there was only like ONE SPOONFUL left!! Arghhhh!

Then I went to my strawberry-feta salad. There was something wrong with it — too vinegary, I don’t know, but it just wasn’t the delicious thing my friend brought to my house for MY potluck. It was really disappointing. So I scooped up some hummus and tabouleh and that was pretty good, especially mixing it with the small pile of veggies on my plate, but it just didn’t feel like… enough.

Then, the damn event went on for like two hours too long and I was sooooo bored and tired and ready to go home (none of my other parent friends showed up to this event – they were SMART!!) but I was sort of held hostage because you weren’t supposed to leave until after the auction slips were tallied up. Everyone was supposed to pay on the spot and bring their items home. I sat in a corner for a long time and watched the hosts’ enormous tortoise. I texted everyone I knew on my phone. I played some dumb phone games. I almost fell asleep.  But then I was really agitated and you know that’s not good. I got up and drank about five cups of coffee. (decaf) They were tiny little delicate cups, so it was probably equal to two coffee mugs’ full. Then I started pacing and noshing a bit. A little cheese. A little more hummus. Finally, I charged upstairs and saw that the entire auction was being tallied BY HAND on pieces of paper by these two women. Every other school auction I have attended was organized super efficiently using auction software on a COMPUTER. This was a… disaster. They were able to find my stuff and tell me how much to pay and then I took off. But what a mess.

Things I learned last night:

  • don’t go to things unless you are sure that people you like will be there.
  • make sure there is a viable escape route.
  • If you bring something healthy and good to eat, don’t hesitate – eat it right away!
  • don’t worry about being nice or doing things the “right way” – if it’s time to go, just GO. They would have dealt with it, and it wasn’t like there was an armed guard at the door.

All said, it wasn’t a complete disaster, it just wasn’t as successful as it could’ve been.

Caution: Potluck Ahead

I’m going to a potluck dinner for the parents at my kids’ school tonight. Just a few months ago, this would have been a Very Dangerous Situation for me.  Some kind of fluorescent green light would go on inside my head, and I would spend the evening circling the table and eating everything in sight, especially high carb or rich things. It was as if entrance to a potluck or buffet was a giant permission slip to eat eat eat eat. During the event, I’d feel like a little kid in a candy store, “getting away with” something decadent, and afterward, well – I probably don’t need to explain how I felt afterward. BAD. Sad, maybe a little defiant, definitely somewhat sick, discouraged and just… yuck.

I feel like I had my “special treat” last night. Just this afternoon, I went to a friend’s book publication party. I arrived just before the toast. The hostess was handing out glasses with “cider or champagne?” I really didn’t want either. Didn’t want the sugar in the cider nor the alcohol in the champagne. I slipped around her to the table and was glad to see a bottle of sparkling water and a big bowl of nice cut lime wedges! I think sparkling water is OK, but with a little fresh lemon or lime juice, it’s great. So I was happy to find that and to have something perfect to raise for the toast.  People kept pointing at the plate of homemade cookies but I just had a little piece of cheese and was A-OK.

So for the potluck dinner tonight: I thought it would be good to bring something healthy to eat. I decided on this great strawberry-feta salad which I think somebody brought to MY house for a potluck a few weeks ago.  I thought, I could always eat that. But do I want to just eat salad and not have anything warm and substantial for dinner? No I do not. So then I got the brilliant idea to make a huge pan of roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables are so beautiful, luscious and comforting.  I got a bunch of red, yellow and orange bell peppers, some Japanese eggplant, butternut squash, red onion, carrot.

I feel very happy and prepared as I head off to this event tonight, and safe in the knowledge that I will have really good things to eat.

I can’t tell you what a change this is from just a short eight weeks ago.

Is it a “Special Day” or is it Cheating?

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. He asked for a special birthday dinner, and made his specific requests for the menu: crab cakes, cauliflower au gratin, asparagus, Prosecco, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

It was HIS birthday so I was happy to grant all of his requests. As I was shopping at Whole Foods I thought about what and how much of this dinner I would eat.  I thought about the chocolate cake especially, since I haven’t eaten any sugar since the day I began this blog in January.

I ate very lightly all day (in WW speak, one would call this “banking” one’s points). I divided the (pretty large) crab cakes in half to make smaller ones.  I roasted the asparagus in the oven with garlic and lemon. When it came time for dinner, I ate one of the (half sized) crab cakes. Six or seven asparagii. A fairly generous helping of the cauliflower – it was soo good. When hubby popped the Prosecco he asked if I wanted a glass. (I also haven’t had alcohol since January) I said yes. It was sooo delicous. I enjoyed every drop.

Then it was cake time. I asked for 1/3 of an already small slice, probably about 3-4 forkfuls. I added about two tablespoons of extra-light ice cream. I sat and looked at it for several minutes.  The Beck book has an exercise where one is encouraged to visualize how one will feel AFTER eating a certain food, and if it feels bad (guilt, remorse, self-hatred etc) then there’s your answer. I decided I was not going to flog myself or feel bad if I ate that small amount of dessert.

I savored it. I savored every bite. It was so delicious. I also noticed that the first two bites were the best and I could’ve stopped there (and will if this comes up in the future). But the thing that was different from the past is that I didn’t let it be the “gateway” to, say, eating half the cake. I didn’t beat myself up over it, in fact it made me feel really happy.

Some food plans allow for occasional forays into eating foods that one would not eat on a normal basis. They believe that these occasional releases of pressure allow you to continue forward without a feeling of deprivation. Other programs believe that you can never stray from your prescribed program because it’s just a slippery slope to hell, or falling off the wagon completely. I am sure that this is true for many people – that one taste of something and BOOM, they’re done for.

Of course the danger is that “every day can be a special day” mentality can creep in and before you know it, you’re eating chocolate cake 24/7.

I don’t feel like I need chocolate cake again for a very long time. Maybe I’ll look back on this day as the Beginning of the End. I hope not.

The whole day was very interesting for me. I didn’t struggle. I didn’t feel bad. I thought about the choices long and hard, and in the end, I was happy.

Now, I’m going for a big long walk and a row on the machine.

Food Food Everywhere…. and What to Eat?

Just finished watching THE most awesome episode of Top Chef… in New Orleans! I looooove New Orleans and love eating in New Orleans. Is it sicko that I love The Biggest Loser and ALSO Top Chef?  My husband is from New Orleans and has lots of family there, so we have had our share of visits over the years.  I’ve never been “on a diet” on any visit there and so my head was spinning watching the beignets (fried dough! yum!), the seafood, the grits, the gumbo, all of it.

I guess it’s good to watch it and have some sort of vicarious thrill, without ingesting a single calorie… in that way I guess TC is a good thing. But it also really revs up those cravey vibes. Hmm. (I’m not giving up my Top Chef! Not yet!!!)

But speaking of food, I am trying to figure out what diet to actually be on. Maybe the endocrinologist will tell me next week. But I still think I need to settle on something. I’ve been doing a rather loosey-goosey version of South Beach that I think has taken me about as far as it can.

I actually went back to the Weight Watchers site this week and downloaded the local meeting schedule into my calendar/phone. I have very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’ve had great success with WW in the past. On the other hand, I’ve also had abysmal failures, mostly due to having a bad attitude. I think I’ve got my Attitude in hand now, so maybe I ought to give it another try. (sigh) I don’t know.

A friend of mine has been telling me of her success with Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and particularly the very hard-core “Grey Sheet” which limits one’s food choices to a certain list. All I know is that it does not include white (?) flour and sugar. I’m fine with that. But also avocados! Can I live with that? I don’t know. I also am extremely ambivalent about the weighing/measuring/planning/sponsor thing. If I compare my level of food addiction to an alcohol addiction, I’d say that I wouldn’t be the kind of drunk who blacks out and is violent and can seriously harm self or others. I’m the kind who occasionally gets drunk at parties and sometimes questions or regrets having had a drink or two too many.  So I do not know if I need THAT LEVEL of intervention.

When I read the Beck Diet Solution book, it really spoke to me. It made sense to me. It resonated and I felt seen, understood, busted, and supported all at once. Which was great. But it basically leaves the readers on their own to find a diet that works for them. I feel like I’m still working on that.

Tonight I bought an e-book by this guy, whom I’ve been following on Twitter for a while. I know it’s got that hokey, infomercial, over exclamation-pointed feel, but I’ve read a bunch of his blog posts and they seem to make a lot of sense.  It’s pretty much a low-carbish, spread-your-meals-out sort of thing, which I think makes sense for someone who tends toward the diabetic side.  I’m going to read his book over the next few days and probably make that my diet.

I want to be really conscious about this decision and make sure it’s something I can live with. I’m not sure I can live with anything that would not allow me at least one delicious meal in New Orleans… okay, I’ll forget the beignets, but not the oyster stew.

A Little Wobbly Today

The dreaded Scale saw another one-lb. uptick today. I did not want to see that, and was not expecting it. It immediately made me want to eat something large. After I had that great workout yesterday! And I’ve been eating well! It’s not faiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrr!

I immediately saw the battle ensue in my head. The “sabotaging” voices were up in full chorus, nudging me towards FOOD FOOD FOOD. The “helpful thought” voices were barely whispering.

I managed to get home. Now I am going to boil a couple of eggs (haven’t had breakfast yet, other than coffee). I’m going to set up the Wii Fit because I want to start a Wii Fit challenge on Facebook. Maybe I will try the ergometer (rowing machine) in the garage. Last night my daughter tried to teach me proper form and I was totally hopeless. She was actually incredulous that two seconds after she said, “ARMS-BODY-LEGS,” I would immediately do it in some ridiculous order like LEGS ARMS BODY, which is almost physically impossible, but I managed. I am so ridiculously uncoordinated.

But the thing is I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING other than feel sorry for myself and eat. Wish me luck. Or courage. Or something. I’ll check back later.


UPDATE: It took me almost ALL DAY of procrastinating, but I finally got onto the erg machine. It was HARD. I have an even bigger newfound respect and awe for my daughters, who so seriously kick butt at this. I limped along for 20 minutes. It was haarrrrrrrd! But I sweated like a pig and did not injure myself and needless to say felt quite proud when I got off. I was going for 30 but thought I can save that for NEXT time. And, hah, I sweated off a pound. Hee.

Oh and PS, after that I got on the Wii Fit which felt kind of silly in comparison. (kind of??) but I did some advanced step (advanced if you’re 80 yrs old) and some boxing (spazz) and some Hula Hoop.

So, I feel better. Thanks erg machine, thanks daughter for the pep talk and thanks someday. You all pulled me through.

I (Heart) Biggest Loser

I know, I know, it’s junky reality tv, but it inspires me. It truly does. Last night was one of my favorite episodes.  So the first challenge involved running up and down a hill to get keys (one at a time) to fit into these two padlocks on the workout gym. People were desperate to keep their access to the gym. I was wondering what this was about but I think it might have had something to do with the machines- the elliptical, the treadmill, stairmaster, etc. The numbers on those machines can be very seductive, especially when they measure your progress, with speed, resistance and calories burned. It can be great to know you’ve just burned X number of calories.

I don’t feel all that attached to my gym. I do enough workouts in “alternative” settings that I know it all works, and sometimes it just feels so good to be outside.

So two teams of two got gym access and they immediately turned it into a … lounge? With comfy chairs, tea, water and fresh cut fruit. So they could lounge around instead of work out!

Meanwhile, the out-of-the-gym teams had these crazy workouts where they were lifting lawn furniture, leaping over barrels, running on the beach with enormous logs on their shoulders… it was insane and cool. They also had a really fun looking mud-wrestling fight after that. I really like this season’s people. They know how to have fun and they SUPPORT each other in a really heartwarming way.

My particular family was also VERY jazzed about last night’s show because the elimination challenge involved – erg machines! Ergometers! Or, if you must call them that (much to daughter’s exasperation): rowing machines. My two daughters have collectively pulled hundreds of thousands of kilometers on those very machines. They kick ass. So it was a personal thrill to see the Biggest Loser teams trying to erg their way to immunity. Wooo!

My favorite moment was when Bob (whom I do not particularly like) talked about Kristin, the young woman who weighs more than 300 lbs. She does EVERYthing. He said, “No matter what I ask of her, she always does it. She does not whine or complain. She puts her all in.” And she talked about weighing almost 400 lbs? before the show and how she had no idea”this girl who could do this” was living inside her. It brought tears to my eyes.

So I went to my trainer today and was determined to be Just. Like. Kristin.  She has SO much to overcome, and she is hanging in there, so steady. I have great admiration for her. And he was duly impressed. I basically said, I am never going to complain again. Even when he had me doing my personal nemesis, which is jumproping. I am just a spaz. I am very very bad at it. But I kept going, and got my 100 jumps in, and that was that. It was a great workout. I love working out on Wednesdays after watching Biggest Loser!

Now that I am finally HOME and settled and not traveling very much for a long time, I am hopeful I can really get into a routine. I also want to get together my in-person and online Beck Diet Solution support group. I am going to go through that book from front to back.

Let me know if you want to join in. (online)

Back Home

Of course the first thing I did upon waking up this morning was to leap onto my own scale. It wasn’t too bad – a one pound gain. Considering I’ve been doing nothing but eat in restaurants for a week, and I only truly exercised two days out of six, I’d say that is not bad at all. I’m not worried. I’m feeling pretty confident overall, and the whole idea of eating less is getting more and more appealing, rather than depriving.

I gave out several dozen chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day and did not eat one. The idea of actually eating sugar made my teeth hurt. I’m happy because I think this means I’ve successfully desugared my tasted buds. Yay! It was fun giving out those red foil wrapped hearts though – I gave them to my writer friends, to hotel employees, to taxi drivers and anybody I came across, really. People were so surprised and happy to receive those sweet little Valentines!

It was great to see my daughter, although too brief, really less than a day.

I’m glad to be back home and hopeful that now I can establish a solid routine, especially of exercise.


My stomach is really shrinking. Or maybe I am just paying much more attention to its fullness level. They say that your stomach is roughly the size of your fist, but it can stretch to much more that size if you stuf it full, kind of like a stuff sack for a sleeping bag. (ugh)

I was so so hungry and wasn’t able to eat lunch today until 3:30. I had a chicken breast (out of a sandwich, didn’t eat the bread) and about a cup of fruit salad. And then I felt stuffed. That is so so so so not my norm I can’t even say, but I am eating slowly and trying to pay attention to bodily sensations.

Last night after having an extremely modest early dinner (grilled eggplant appetizer plus some cold tofu, at a Japanese restaurant) I did a reading at a bookstore and met up with an old friend. She hadn’t eaten dinner so we went out fo 2nd dinner at this Middle Eastern place. I was intending to eat just a taste, but everything was so so so good. Various eggplant spreads (yes, I LOVE eggplant), and this amazing roasted feta cheese with tomatoes and olives. It was crazy good. I didn’t stuff myself, but it was more than a “taste.” This was my first “overage” experience this trip. I also didn’t eat any bread with all the dips. Guess what? Dips taste delicious even without something to dip them in!!

Now I’m hitting the road to go see my daughter. I am happy.

Just Because There’s A Scale I Don’t Have to Step On It

I’m in the nice hotel. Had a great workout on the elliptical this morning in their fitness center. They have a medical scale. I did NOT step on it, given the debacle of what happened last time. I’m going to wait until I get home, to my own scale.

I’m worried about my daughter. She had a little setback and I think is being very rough on herself, and when you feel that bad, things don’t tend to go well. I’m sending her love and compassion and hoping she can get through this time and be kind to herself. She has helped me so much and I just hope she can be as good to herself as she has been to me.

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