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I (heart) Frank Bruni: A Book Review

I just finished reading Frank Bruni’s memoir, Born Round. When I got to the last page I was a little choked up, feeling like I’d found a real kindred spirit. He’s like another Foodie McBody! Someone who loves and appreciates food, AND who wants to be healthy and fit. I know so many fit people who truly seem unmoved by food, or who see it purely as fuel (and not so much as a source of pleasure) OR as the Enemy. Anybody who knows me knows that I am constantly striving to find ways to have my (cup)cake and eat it too. And of course I also know the foodies who turn a blind eye to fitness or health. Please, can’t I have both?

Enter Frank! OMG. For the first (more than?) half of the book, we follow him through his childhood, where he is a ravenous toddler, and then a huge eater at family feasts orchestrated by his mother and grandmother. The descriptions of the incredible food-a-paloozas were enough to make me faint. Pasta! Italian food! Roast turkey! Frites! (fried stuffed yummy things)

And there’s Frank, simultaneously loving all the food and mortified by his plumpness. And I’m nodding like one of those dashboard bobblehead doggies with its head on a spring. Sigh.

I followed, completely rapt, while Frank joins the swim team and slims down, then joins up with his mother on endless diets (Atkins! I did that one with my dad, back in the 70s), back and forth, back and forth. Ultimately it gets into some pretty dark territory, of bulimia and then bingeing.

It’s a classic tale of Too Much of a Good Thing, when something turns and then doesn’t feel so good anymore. And I feel like I am constantly trying to find that balance. I still want food to be a Good Thing. And it is, until it isn’t. I don’t ever want to fear food or not enjoy it. So it was kind of awe-inspiring and very happy making to read about Frank’s ultimate challenge and job: to be the food critic for the New York Times. How could he manage to eat out 7-8 times a week, at amazing multi-star restaurants, and stay fit and healthy?

Exercise. Of course. Lots of exercise. And portion control. Right? Of course that’s the key. Calories in, calories out. I loved reading about Frank’s bootcampish trainer, Aaron, who sounds like a much meaner version of my own trainer. I was intrigued by his description of Pilates. It was fun following Frank on his transformation from couch-potato-dom to athlete.

The writing in this book is fantastic. Funny, poignant, honest, real. I laughed out loud a LOT, and also cringed and wiped a tear or two. And there was a crazy moment of recognition, much like when I read Kate Moses’ Cakewalk and remembered that I ALSO bit the toes off of rubber alligators from Disneyland (WHAT??? Really!). Maybe not quite as bizarre, but like Frank Bruni, I also had a mad love for cold noodles with sesame paste, something I’d long forgotten (I can’t find this stuff in San Francisco). I used to be obsessssssssssed with those cold noodles when I lived in New York, and my favorite spot was this teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall called OMei in NY’s Chinatown. My friend used to bring me those as a special treat after I moved away. It’s been so many years since I’ve had those noodles, and… sigh. Reading this book brought it all back. (Frank! if you or anybody else knows where I can find these noodles in San Francisco, pleeeeeeeeeease tell me!)

Anyway. Back to the book. I loved it. For someone who loves both Top Chef AND The Biggest Loser, it really spoke to my heart (and my taste buds?).  It made me feel like I had company, in the best way. And after I read it, Frank Bruni joined the ranks of my invisible fit-foodie-community. I finished the book on Monday and in the evening, I was contemplating going out to the cemetery to work out. But it was a Holiday. And I was tired. Suddenly, the voice of Frank’s trainer Aaron popped into my head. “Don’t be a wimpy quitter!” I went out there and did 3.5 miles, and added on 50 pushups and 480 stairs. Then I came home and looked for something really, reallllllllly good to eat.

Double Book Review: Battle of the Spiritual-Eating Stars

Disclosure: This is going to be an EXTREMELY personal and subjective (and loooong!) response to two recently-published books in the “spirituality/food genre.” Bear in mine that this is just my own opinion, which is, as I said, highly personal. Your mileage and experience may (and probably most certainly will!) vary.

I read Geneen Roth’s first book, When Food Is Love, when it was first published in the early 80s. I was pretty much blown away by it. But I have to say that every single book of hers that I’ve read since then has been a reiteration of that first book. And Women, Food and God is no exception. But I was excited to read it because people, including Oprah, seemed to think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Many people said it made them cry. They felt that the book was written FOR them and about them. I think this is great (for them). However, this was not my experience at all.

I read through it quickly on my first read, and found myself feeling pretty underwhelmed as well as fairly irritated. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Then I read Savor, the latest book by Thich Nhat Hanh. And I felt the same way that others did when they described WFG. Now, I have been an admirer but not an active practitioner of Buddhism for many years. So the principles are extremely familiar to me. They are thousands of years old. And to have them applied to food and eating just felt very familiar and comforting to me. Many of the same ideas are also mentioned in Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings by Zen priest Edward Espe Brown, and in the Zen of Eating by Ronna Kabatznik.

This weekend I took a long slow look at both books again. And I came to understand why I was so irritated by Women, Food and God.

1. It’s like a party that I didn’t go to. Eighty percent of this book is an extended description of Geneen Roth’s retreats. She describes the women who attend them and how they are dramatically transformed, some within the space of minutes. It felt like, “Look at me! I am such a guru! All these people love and follow me! And by the way, sign up for my next retreat!!” It was also like watching someone else’s interminable vacation slideshow. You had to be there.

I found myself being strangely unmoved by stories of women weeping and having tantrums and growling over their food bowls and such. It just didn’t do anything for me.

2. Her message has basically unchanged since her first book in the 1980s. And neither has her approach. Why write a new book NOW then?

I had read earlier this year that Geneen Roth had been tragically fleeced by Bernie Madoff. This is really sad and unfortunate, but it also tinges the book with desperation. She NEEDS PEOPLE to sign up for these retreats, and to buy this book as if it is a brand new thing. Which it is not. So the book is basically a 200 page ad for her retreats.

3. She takes several unnecessary and incredibly inaccurate swipes at Weight Watchers. Now it’s no secret that I work for WW. But these little vignettes just PISSED ME OFF.

I received a letter from someone who enclosed a WW ribbon that was embossed: I LOST TEN POUNDS. Underneath the gold writing, the writer added, “And I Still Feel Like Crap.”

Now, everyone knows that it is certainly possible to lose 10 or 100 pounds and still feel like crap inside (or outside). But to LINK this in such a blatant way with Weight Watchers implies, even subliminally, that if you lose weight with Weight Watchers, you will feel like crap. To which I say, bullshit.

When I was on WW in the early 70s, I made dinner out of the remaining allowable foods for the day: two servings of cold tomato sauce (REALLY? They had to be COLD?) and a serving of ricotta cheese. I was scooping my dinner into a bowl when my friend said, “Is that really what you want to eat?” “Yes,” I said. But the truth was that “No” was not an option. Eating what I wanted was not allowed. Wanting what I wanted was not allowed. I needed to sacrifice, atone, make up for being myself. For being fat.

Now this made me want to SCREAM out loud. Again, she is linking ridiculous degrees of deprivation and “not eating what I wanted” with Weight Watchers. She does say this was in the “early 70s.” Does she take the responsible route and say, “Weight Watchers has changed and evolved radically since then.” No. She doesn’t. So again she is linking this conspicuous brand name with sacrifice, atonement, punishment. SO IRRESPONSIBLE.

She receives a letter from a reader who says, “Each time I start trying to follow what you say, I get afraid and then go running back to the security of the Weight Watchers points system. And every time I try points, I inevitably fail a week later and spiral into a new rash of binges and beating myself up.”

Message here? Of course! Weight Watchers causes bingeing and beating oneself up! GREEEEEEATTTTTT!

But the biggest bullshit moment came when I came to the golden Secret, the grand finale, Geneen’s sacred Eating Guidelines, the reason people pay hundreds of dollars to attend her talks and retreats:

1. Eat when you are hungry. (Weight Watchers Book #1)
2. Eating sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
3. Eat without distractions.
4. Eat what your body wants.
5. Eat until you are satisfied. (WW Book #1)
6. Eat in full view of others. (foodblogging! ☺)
7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
When I read this I was incredulous. Like, THIS is the big secret? Who hasn’t been saying all of these things, like forever??

The thing that alarms me, too, is that #3 and #4 are where a lot of people, depending on where they are in their process, are going to take that as a major green flag for EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT! NO MATTER WHAT IT IS!

Geneen Roth herself talks about people reading her books and then getting pissed off because they then eat with abandon (“whatever they want”) and gain weight, some as much as 100 lbs. (Yikes)
SO the other problem with this book is that it is extremely new-Agey and Vague and abstract. There is nothing specific in it.

Okay, enough about that one. Now, on to Savor.

I loved this book. I loved loved loved it. Perhaps because it echoes everything that I myself believe and strive to do, and when I do these things, I am more the better for it. Geneen Roth also talks about meditation and how good it is, but Savor is very very specific about HOW to meditate, what to meditate over, what one might say or think while washing dishes or picking a piece of fruit from the market or… eating.

I loved it because it is not afraid to “go there” and say, yeah, part of being mindful is knowing EXACTLY what you are eating, which is why food journaling (tracking or blogging) is an important and useful part of mindfulness. Yay. Which is exactly the feeling I have had since I began foodblogging. It IS a form of meditation for me. It’s that pause before the eating, that momentary mindfulness that can make all the difference in the world.

It is not afraid to say that weighing yourself, too, is a part of being mindful: of knowing what you weigh. It’s just a number. If the number freaks you out, then it’s a thing to meditate on and understand why.
It’s not afraid to say that moving/exercise is important and a VERY important part of taking care of one’s body and being mindful. It describes the many barriers and obstacles to mindfulness in our culture and why this is so very challenging (quotes from The End to Overeating, which I also really liked).

Mostly what I love about this book is the tone of it. It’s gentle, compassionate, yet firm and honest. It’s real. It’s not mushy or New Agey. Often as I was reading I would find my eyes filling up with tears.

The Buddha teaches that … insight cannot begin until we stop and focus our attention on what is happening right in front of us. This stopping, or shamatha, allows us to rest the body and the mind. When we have calmed ourselves, we can then go on to look deeply into our current situation. We need to step off our frantic life treadmills, to stop unconsciously doing the same things over and over again that have allowed our weight to creep up. We need to stop, rest, and reflect on a constructive way forward… We need to be fully aware of what is going on in our daily living. Only then can we begin to change.

Every time I read the word “rest” I would stop and sigh. Because that is so much what I have been needing. To rest. So I feel a deep comfort and a soothing tone to this book that just makes me feel… grateful, and rested. I think that this feeling is what helped me off my comfort-food train the other day.

This book is very, very specific about what to do regarding emotions, food, exercise, meditation. There are lists and there are recommendations. They are nonjudgmental and gentle. And honest. I appreciated that.
The grounding in Buddhism that shapes this book was very familiar, comforting and relaxing to me. It made me feel very receptive. Others may not feel this way and that’s cool.

The bottom line is, that I think BOTH of these books actually have the same exact approach to food and eating. It’s about mindfulness and looking inward. It’s all good.

If people out there really resonate with WFG and feel as if Geneen Roth is the answer, then I say that is wonderful and go for it. Especially if you’ve never read any of her work before, I think it could resonate very powerfully. If you’re a hater of Weight Watchers, it will certainly validate those feelings.

If people like Savor, and it helps you slow down and find some rest among the mindfulness, then hooray.

That was just my two cents. I’m glad that I read both of these and I am glad that people in general are going in this direction. I think it’s good for all of us.

51

Great birthday weekend. I am currently working on a blog post that feels like it’s going to take a YEAR to write, so in the meanwhile, here are some highlights of turning 51:

Started with my first kettlebell class. I took a one-on-one with John Wild Buckley of the Orange Kettlebell Club. I loved it. He is very slow and meticulous and very focused on technique and doing everything exactly right. I was worried about my tendency toward back injuries and he was very attentive re that. So there was a lot of fine-tuning regarding posture (“Butt out!!”) and timing and  such. I learned a lot. This guy knows so much and he is also so passionate and enthusiastic about kettlebells it’s contagious. He told me that kettlebells would change my life. “My LIFE?” I said, and laughed and he said yes, my LIFE. Okay!

We only did one basic thing: the basic swing. I thought I was going to learn to do all sorts of things but instead it was just that one thing, with higher and higher weights. We did most of it with me using a 44# lb weight (whoa!) which actually felt just fine. In the end there was even a higher one that I didn’t notice the number on. But: HEAVY.

All of these are the same size and shape, but vary in weight from 20-something lbs to like 150.

After that I went away for the weekend but on the way home I stopped at the sports store and picked up my own 30# kettlebell. Yay!

Other highlights of the weekend:




Spending time with the people I love. Couldn’t be better. I think it’s gonna be a good year.

Book Review: Cakewalk

What business does a diabetic Weight Watchers leader have reading a book that is so filled with butter and chocolate and sugar that it almosts wafts from the pages? I don’t know, but I do know that I could barely put this book down. Thank goodness for the ankle injury and the 3-day weekend that allowed me to finish  it this morning.

I loved this book, Cakewalk, by Kate Moses. I LOVED THIS BOOK so much. It’s going on my Top Ten list. And for people who have seen my house and my miles of bookshelves, you’ll know this is saying a lot.

Where do I begin? Well, for one I loved it because it brought my childhood back to me, and in the sensual food-memory way that the madeleine brought Proust back to his. Only it wasn’t anything as delicate and refined as a fancy French cookie, it was her unabashed love for 1960s junk food that made my heart beat faster. And it was the way that she described the Ding Dongs and the Baby Ruths without an ounce of embarrassment or remorse: just, this is what we ate, and it gave us pleasure. She loved the badger Frances books like I did, and especially for the food descriptions: not only the bread and jam, but also ode she sings to Lorna Doone cookies.

Kate Moses is roughly the same age as I am, so reading this book was like a tantalizing time-travel through my own life. It was shocking to squeak out, as I was reading, “Me too!” even down to a bizarre coincidence involving rubber alligator toes. Reading this book was in so many ways like a channeling of my own life.

Each chapter of the book chronicles a different era of Moses’ life, her annual moves to yet another new state, new town, new school. Early on she learns to use her baking skills as a way of making friends, or of comforting herself through some new familial trauma (and there are some doozies). Every chapter ends with some amazingly droolworthy recipe: Chocolate cake, homemade It’s-Its, homemade pink and white animal shortbread cookies (which she brought in a basket to her reading: SO delicious! and exquisite), pecan birthday cake and jam tarts. I swooned and sighed over all of these recipes. (um, except the moose turd “candies”)

Although she mentions being called “fat” by her classmates in a particularly poignant fourth-grade chapter, she doesn’t dwell on this. It’s not about that.  So many memoirs of overweight childhoods are drenched in shame and guilt, and this book was refreshingly free of guilt. Which I appreciated so much.  It’s about an often terribly painful and confusing, chaotic childhood and youth that is sweetened and soothed by the pleasure of food. It’s about food as a means of connection and community. It’s about becoming a writer, which made my heart pound as much as the cake recipes. It’s a moving chronicle of family and how people change and don’t change, about forgiveness and honesty and redemption. The writing is so, so, good, and I found myself sighing over individual sentences and paragraphs. Like this:

…we bought boxes and boxes of donuts, baker’s dozens, all different flavors. Then we drove up and down the empty streets for hours, fast past the houses of everyone we knew, past our own, all night long, in our high heels and our new high-school graduate outfits, the convertible top down and our hair flying loose and tangling across our faces, eating just one bite of each donut before flinging the rest out of the car. When there were no more donuts, we reached for our silky blue graduation gowns, pulling them out from where we’d tucked them, and we threw them out, too, letting them catch in the wind we were speeding through, sailing them out into the bright lasting night, the northern lights spraying ribbons of color above us, waving like handkerchiefs as the ship leaves its anchorage.

A Reader Asks: “Dear Foodie…”

I got an email from a reader recently! Asking for my opinion regarding her teenaged daughter. First of all, I am honored that anybody would ask my opinion on ANYthing.  Let me say that I am not a big expert at this – far from it -(just read my posts from January!!) but I do have some thoughts about most things and am glad to share what I’m thinking. So that’s just it… my opinion.  Here’s the question.

Q: I have a 16-year-old daughter who would like to lose weight but doesn’t get a lot of exercise. I think she would die rather than go to a WW meeting. We already tend to keep healthy foods around the house, and she makes fairly good food choices compared to a lot of American teenagers. But without tracking her eating, and without a lot of exercise, she doesn’t lose weight. Any suggestions for how to help a teen in this kind of situation?

I suppose one answer would be to help her learn to track points on her own, using my WW materials but without having to enroll herself. But I am not sure she will have the discipline to track, and I don’t want to put myself in a position of having to bug her or be the bad guy about food — I fear that the more involved I get, the more likely it is that she will say, “f— you, Ieave me alone, I’m going to eat whatever I want.”

Well, I’ve been mulling this over for a few days now. It’s a big answer! A long answer. With many facets and layers. Without writing an entire BOOK on the subject, here are my thoughts.

Motivation: This is one of the biggest factors in being able to lose weight, I believe.  Mathematically, I think that M (motivation) must > All Those Factors Conspiring Against Weight Loss (love of foods, emotions, environment, inertia, etc) or else it can’t work. And to be honest, I did not find sufficient M in my life until I was 49 years old. (do not use me as an example! just sayin!) My motivation was Health, pure and simple. And until I found that particular motivation, my M was ALWAYS < All Those Factors.

When I was 16, being motivated by health was the LAST THING on my mind. Hell, it was the last thing on my mind when I was 40. I just felt like I could do Whatever for However Long, and it would not catch up with me.

SO is it hopeless? NO. You just need to help this 16 yr old figure out her OWN motivations, which can be similarly compelling, just different. They are much more likely to be socially based, like, “I want to feel comfortable in a bathing suit.” “I want to be able to look good in any outfit at Urban Outfitters.” “I want to feel HOT.” (or whatever) One of the best tools for this is the Beck Diet Solution, which helped me a LOT at the start of my journey. It is all about tapping into one’s own particular Motivation and keeping that front-and-center at all times. Because it is SO easy to just Not Care.

The other thing is to separate Her desire to lose weight, from Your desire to have her lose weight (because you know she will be happier and healthier). For many many years, I could not FIND my own desire/motivation because it was clouded and all tangled up by what I PERCEIVED to be my spouse’s desire for me to lose weight. And I rebelled against this big-time. For YEARS. I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to do because I thought I was doing it for HIM, and that was a major losing proposition all the way around. It upset me and made me want to eat more. Which I did. So you have to take a deep breath and let her know that it’s HER choice/decision etc and not yours, even though you are there to support her.

HOW to do it? I do not know if tracking is the answer for a 16 y old, although it might be intriguing for her, just on a curiosity level. To just lay it out mathematically, pure and simple. Once she’s decided that she is motivated, it’s just a matter of math. Calories in have to < Calories out.  Part of losing weight means being more conscious and knowing what you are doing in that regard. I wonder if she would like having something like a Body Bugg, which measures calorie output. (I want one sooooooooooooo bad!!!!!! Santa please!) You know that people constantly underestimate the # of calories they eat (why tracking is so useful!) and overestimate their calories burned. So it’s a great reality check tool.

It might be interesting for her to just try tracking food FOR ONE DAY. Just to see. Just to understand WHY her body might be hanging on to some weight. It could be illuminating.  But you are RIGHT about not bugging her or being the bad-guy Tracking Police, because that will blow up in your face faster than you can say deep-dish pizza with extra cheese. She’s gotta find her own method.

Support: Losing weight can be a very isolating, sucky experience. It pretty much was for most of my life. But it can also be super fun and awesome and exciting if you have the right friends. (shout-out to EVERYONE who blogs, tweets, reads and comments with me!) Does she have any friends who might want to be her weight-loss buddy? This would make it so much less mortifying and “oh shit I am the only loser who needs to do this.”  YES, I can see her not wanting to be caught dead with all us Oldsters at WW. (although there is a nice 17 yr old who comes in with his mom to one of my meetings, he is awesome!) So I think it will be absolutely critical for her to find others HER AGE who are on the same path. There are plenty of way-cool bloggers who are much younger than me, who could be great role models. (PEOPLE- HELP ME OUT: can you recommend any cool teen weight-loss bloggers?)

She needs to find some form of activity that she considers Fun. Again, doing it with a Buddy is going to make ALL the difference.  I think having something like a pedometer (measuring steps per day, and doing a mini-competition? With prizes??? :-)) or a Body Bugg would be fabulous.

Lastly: Dara Chadwick blogs about girls, moms, weight and self-esteem. She’s written this great book. I bet she’d be able to give you even more informed and useful advice.

I think you are an AWESOME mom for your concern and wanting to support your kid in this way.  It’s fantastic that she already has your support and that you already have healthy food around. The biggest thing is to gently guide her in choosing her OWN path that she wants to take.

Those are my two cents for the moment but I really hope that lots of readers will chime in with comments. Help me out, folks!

Lifetime! and Julia/Julie

Today I went to my WW meeting and fiiiinnnnnnnnallllllly got my little gold Lifetime key! It was more exciting, gratifying and happy than I had expected. In a way I thought it was going to be sort of anticlimactic but I really let it soak in – I got here. I made my goal. I’ve maintained it – truly within 2 lbs – for 8 weeks. I got a little emotional about it, recalling how I’d joined WW probably 4-5 times in the past 15 years, and NEVER made my goal before, let alone Lifetime. I am now feeling like I have legitimate claim to this staff position too, and that I CAN go to leader training, having made it to this point. So that is a good feeling.

I went to see the Julie & Julia movie yesterday. Wow did I love that movie. I LOVED IT. Has there ever been a feature film about a blogger before? I could so relate to Julie starting her blog, and going weeks before she gets her first comment – from her MOM. (heh!) And then how it just grows and grows. I haven’t read Julie Powell’s book, but I have peeked at her blog. She’s gotten a lot of criticism for various things but I do have to hand it to her. I think she’s a good blogger, and she had a great premise. Which makes me see how rambly and kind of “un-premised” mine can be. (and if you think THIS blog is rambly, you should see my other one, which is TRULY a hodge-podge of every topic under the sun) It made me think about my blog. Do I want to focus it more? Do I want to change it? More recipes? More diabetes? More exercise? More… what? Sometimes I think how nice it would be to have more a dozen comments and visits a day. To be at the level of MizFit or Cranky Fitness.  But even nicer to get a call from a publisher saying…. we’d like to publish your book.

The book parts of J & J made me tear up. What is it to be a writer. In fact at one point I was practically sobbing. (when Julia gets that letter from Knopf – I love how she says, “Is it NOPF? or Kah-nopf?” When her husband keeps encouraging her, on and on. The marriage parts also blew my mind and warmed my heart. What an amazing marriage. What good love.

And the food parts – ohhhhh, the butter! The beef bourguignon! I am SO going to make that this week!! The movie also made me remember what a foodie I am, and how I DO love food. And that even though I have every intention of being healthy and maintaining my goal weight, I also intend to thoroughly LOVE and enjoy every bite of food, just as Julia did. It made me so happy to see her enjoying her food. I do not think I could cook my way through her Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year and maintain my weight, but I do think I can dip into it now and then.

And the winner is…

Deborah R wins the copy of The Instinct Diet!! Congratulations, Deborah, I hope this book gives you the boost you need!

What Works/What Doesn’t?

(for me)

Hilary over at Turtle Progress took my blog post topic right out from under me this morning (and did a great job of it, too). She wrote about structure vs. nonstructure, moderation vs abstinence. Go read it – it’s a great post.

I feel like I’ve been pondering these things very deeply ever since I began this journey on January 17th. I have tried to lose weight and have a “different relationship to food” for a long time now, and ultimately always failed. So I was very wary about trying anything new, or trying anything old for that matter, for fear of “failing.” Also, I was waiting to get guidance from my new doctor, my endocrinologist, in hope that she would give me a food plan for my prediabetes.

So what did she tell me to do? “Whatever works for you.” And we talked about how figuring out that “whatever works” is no simple task, but it is SO IMPORTANT. Because if you try to do something that doesn’t work, well then, it’s an exercise in futility. So I hesitated about accepting a friend’s invitation to join O.A.  I hesitated about going back to Weight Watchers. I read a bunch of books. I read blogs and articles and Twitter links constantly, searching for things that will resonate, that will go “ping!” I feel like every moment there’s a new choice to be made.

Here’s some stuff I’ve learned about my self and WWWD (what works, what doesn’t) in the past several weeks:

Sweet stuff:

  • Trader Joe’s Sugar Free Chocolate Covered Almonds: these used to work for me last year when I was doing South Beach. They don’t seem to anymore; ie I realllllllllly can’t eat just a few. Eat one, and I want to scoop up a whole palmful.
  • Hard candies: these work. These really, really work. The great thing is that they last a really long time – which seems to be key. They last as long as my craving for something sweet does.  Sugar free Werther’s hard caramels, and SF Life Savers are my friends.

Magazines: Let me say right off that I am a magazine junkie. I just find magazines soothing, relaxing, I like looking at the pictures and it’s just one of my favorite guilty pleasures. SO I’ve been checking out some new ones lately.

  • Diabetic Living magazine. Doesn’t work for me. I thought it would be good to check out what’s being said to this community, since I am on the periphery of it. It’s all about (seems to me) trying to calm people down about not being able to have their Ho-Ho’s and Ring Dings anymore, and giving them alternative Ho-Hos and Ring Dings. The tone is slightly patronizing and assumes that diabetics are REALLY into junk food.
  • Eating Well magazine. WOW this one works. Their subtitle is “Where Good Taste Meets Good Health” and it’s not expressly about losing weight, so it’s not a diet magazine per se, but it’s all about being healthy which means stuff that’s overall lower in calorie. They had a really interesting and intriguing article on bison meat vs beef and another one about the many ways to love asparagus. So they’re not jamming stuff down your throat, but just, this makes sense.

Weight Loss/Eating Approaches:

  • Overeaters Anonymous: to be completely fair, I have not been to a meeting in ten years+, and I have never been to one of the more hard-core “gray sheet” meetings. But I really feel it is not for me. Because I am the kind of person who needs to be constantly experimenting, testing, trying out to see if something works, and if it doesn’t I can’t do it. So a program that has a prescribed list of foods for EVERYone is not something that feels workable for me. I don’t believe that there can be a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss, unless a person says, “Just give me a list so I don’t have to think about it.” Also, I object strongly to the secrecy around it and the fact that they won’t publish the damn list unless you go to a meeting and hold hands with people. My life has been damaged by people keeping secrets and I am very balky about these things. I recognize that OA might be THE perfect, life-saving, joyous path for many people, and I am very happy for them, but I really feel on a visceral level that it is not right for me. I don’t believe nor want to ever believe that I have an illness, other than prediabetes. I also don’t believe that there is no hope for me to ever be “normal.” I am holding that hope out for myself.
  • Weight Watchers: the jury’s still out on this one, since I have been through this program many time and ultimately abandoned it – often very quickly. I’m going to hang in there this time. I’m approaching it with a curiousity, what is it like to weigh food on a scale? If I do stay within the points they give me, can I be happy and satisfied and make it work? Sometimes the little classes are too dumb for words, but sometimes they are good and funny and inspiring. So what the heck. I do find it motivating to know that that scale will be there every week.
  • I noticed someone on Twitter called EatWithoutGuilt, which piqued my interest. I’d love to get rid of some guilt. After some perusing of her blog, I understand that her approach is something along the lines of the “Why French Women Are Skinny” thing; ie they eat all sorts of decadent and rich foods but they don’t gain weight. Why? Because they eat small amounts and don’t overeat and only eat what they truly enjoy.  I dialogued back and forth with Dineen and she was amazingly generous with her time and attention. I told her it truly does seem to good to be true, and that I could not imagine myself eating brie and chocolate and croissants without dire consequence.  I think it would take a major amount of re-training to be able to eat these things in the limited amounts necessary to lose weight. Psychologically, I am not sure I am capable of this right now, but it’s something that I would like to aspire to. One day. To be able to trust myself enough to enjoy ANY kind of food out there, to a healthy degree. Again, this might be too good to be true, but I’m not dismissing it as “never.”  Maybe one day.
  • Mindful Eating: This, I have to say, is the most appealing thing I’ve read.  It’s somewhat related to the EatWithoutGuilt approach in that it doesn’t advocate prohibiting particular foods. However it does advocate taking the time and mindset to make good choices, which often are the healthiest choices. It appeals to the wannabe Buddhist in me, the contemplative approach, the conscious and mindful approach. I read a very inspiring article in a local magazine about a woman who took a workshop with this approach and had a real turnaround. It sounded very much like a “good fit” for me and I am looking forward to exploring more.
  • The Beck Diet Solution: I’ve already gone on and on about how helpful I think this approach is, so I won’t be redundant here. It’s a more psychological approach, a cognitive-therapy way of going about things, and personally I am finding it enormously helpful. It doesn’t include a diet plan but a way of following the food plan that you choose. It’s a system of offering “helpful thoughts” to counter the myriad of “sabotaging thoughts” that assault us on a daily basis. I truly think that if I could remember the helpful thoughts throughout the day, I’d be in much better shape. I’ve been using these regularly since January and I truly think they have helped.
  • The South Beach Diet: I almost forgot this one. I would never recommend a particular food plan for anyone else, but being a glucose “impaired” person (my official status), all of my doctors have recommended that I follow a low-GI (glycemic index) sort of plan. I think especially doing Phase 2-3 of SBD is quite liveable, and basically what I am doing right now. I’ve found some excellent and delicious recipes at Kalyn’s Kitchen. It’s chock-full of great recipes for every phase of SBD. Thanks Kalyn!

I’m very curious and eager to hear what particular “approaches” or foods or magazines or books or whatever have worked for y’all. I do believe that these things are so individual, and that what works for some of us won’t for others, and vice versa. But I’m very interested in learning about the many tools out there for those of us who want change.

Next blog post brewing: what’s underneath it all.

Giveaway Reminder!

Reminder! Tomorrow is the random drawing for The Instinct Diet book giveaway. Comment (there, not here!) for a chance to win this book. It looks very sensible and well-written.

Good luck!

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