Friday, January 30, 2009

Bad economic news

I'm finding that the bad economic news is making any of my little recipes or dieting foibles seem silly today. I was just reading about Claire McCaskell's poignant but too late rant on the Senate floor. Go sister!!! You should have made such demands in September though.

So I will plug away unenthusiastically. Three people, including my mother commented on my progress today. It was extra nice for my mom to notice. Perhaps people noticed because I was wearing some smaller jeans. Now I bought them in August so this is no return to my 2000 body (not that my 2000 body was Heidi Kluhm-ish to begin with, but it was better than it is now). Of course these smaller jeans had to be unbuttoned in the car but it is a start. I live in fear of the dreaded weight loss "plateau"

I'm also cooking my mom's cabbage soup recipe right now. It's amazing how it smells exactly the same as it did growing up! 

food log (it's only 7:50pm, so I hope I don't snack later in the evening. I'm planning to just go to bed)
whole wheat english muffin with 1tbs peanut butter 4pts
coffee with milk 1pt

small yogurt 2pts

salad with 1tbs dressing 1pt
left soup home by accident - see below
oatmeal with 5 cashews 3 points (good use of emergency snack in desk)

1.5 cups bean/veggie soup (this was really my lunch that I left home) 3pts? guessing
random mouthfuls of cardboard corn chips and soup testing...really must again stop mindlessly putting food in mouth.

bean soup was big so i had green beans roasted in oven with olive oil and salt. fabulous 2pts
3 mini meatballs - too fatty - 2pts

770 stairs, a few arm weights, a few crunches...kind of half-hearted

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mireille Guiliano would be proud

Today was a much better day!

I ate only food I like, tried something new, cooked some good meals and made my family all eat together, and eat the same adult food. What a success! I also discovered a new low-cal dessert. Exercise was a little lame, and I think I ate too much dinner because I was so busy worrying about what my kids ate that I forgot to measure my food.

Let's start with dessert. I experimented with the plain non-fat Greek yogurt, trying to make chocolate yogurt. How I got started liking chocolate yogurt in my thirties is the fault of my nephews, but that's another story.

So take one Greek yogurt (which has very little tartness, a ton of protein and is both extremely smooth and creamy, as well as being very filling), add a heaping tablespoon of Hershey's Dark cocoa powder, and a little sugar. I want to try it with the new supposedly natural sugar-substitute called Truvia, but I haven't bought any yet. At any rate, I only used a couple teaspoons. It was delicious! I made a creamy treat that tasted just like an Oreo! The chocolate was about 30 cal, the yogurt 90 and the sugar I guess another 40. But that whole concoction could definitely be two portions for a total of about 80 cal/portion.

I have also been cooking a lot lately, due to being stuck in the house. Even Alex noticed. In the car on the way to school today he asked me why I was cooking so much, which for some reason I found incredibly endearing of him. Today, upon learning of the dreaded two-hour school delay, I made a bean soup with added corn, tomatoes, onions, celery and carrots. The corn was to satisfy my kids but it probably made it much starchier. We made the kids eat some of it for dinner. Lots of grumbling but they ate it and eventually realized that they liked it and stopped their knee-jerk complaining at eating something healthy. I crumbled a bit of leftover bacon from last week and that really satisfied Natasha - and her daddy! I kept pulling bits of bacon from my bowl and dropping them into hers, like a true mama bird. A little bacon really goes a long way towards flavoring things so I realized I didn't need so much.

My favorite French lady Mireille Guiliano, is very into soups, because they are filling and healthy. I also was very against soups for a long time due to an extremely negative experience smelling turkey broth simmering in my house all day one time when I was pregnant with Alex. I swear it threw me off soups for years. But it is pretty hard to deny the usefulness of soups when dieting. They are filling, low-cal, easy to make and easy to put in a thermos and reheat in a microwave at work. 

Mireille also advocates cooking big elaborate meals on the weekend with leftovers that can be reconfigured as various kinds of quick home made meals during the week. I fully subscribe to these ideas, now that I have a little more time to undertake them. The first time I read Mireille's book I was still in sleep-deprivation hell and almost threw the book across the room. She also wants me to go shopping every day, which is kind of a death sentence when you have a 3 yr old and a 2 yr old (which thank God I no longer have!). But there are some good concepts in there.

Food log
teff - an Ethiopian porridge-like substance, the smallest grain in the world
coffee with 1% milk
half an apple with 2 tsp peanut butter

salad with 1 tbs blue cheese dressing
3/4 cup bean soup

strawberries and a few bites Oreo yogurt - the kids wouldn't give me any!

1.5 cups bean soup with 1/2 crumbled slice bacon (too much soup I think)

a few more bites of the Oreo yogurt concoction

20 min aerobics in front of tv while kid were in the bath


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Expanding my reach

I'm not sure how many days people will be interested in reading about what I eat and don't eat.
Perhaps I should write about other things as well. That would make me a blogger-wannabe of the worst order!

Until recently, I have been seriously suspicious of the whole "web 2.0" revolution, blogging especially. I spent 6 years working on Internet technologies in the height of the tech boom actually making web sites that did things - like e-commerce. To me the web was about increasing efficiencies in business and personal transactions. Why on Earth would I want to read other people's opinions about some arcane news item or let people know what I fed my kids for dinner?? 

But of course now that my kids are older and I have some time to waste I'm finding it pretty fulfilling to have a sense of what my friends are doing that I lost touch with 20 years ago - and my friends are surprisingly interested to hear me confess when I serve dino nuggets for dinner. And as for blogging - I was just on the wrong side! I'm the queen of unsolicited opinions. Really, it is a daily struggle, one that I often lose, to keep my unwanted opinions to myself. Years ago when passing a vacant storefront my husband joked that I should open a store, "Opinions, $5." So blogging is perfect for me, and I don't have to pay to rent a storefront!

At any rate, it seems I should expand upon topics aside from what I eat. Surely this topic will grow boring. I only started posting that info as a way to be accountable. But I'm kind of in the swing of things now in terms of healthy portions, even getting good at determining real hunger from transitory hunger or boredom. For the record real hunger is when I start to get really angry AND it's more than an hour from a meal. I'm making wiser choices about the kinds of food I eat, snacking less, exercising more consistently. So it is kind of like Cheers after Sam and Rebecca get together. It's boring. 

Of course there are more struggles to come. I'm not at my goal weight - not even close, but I did lose 12 pounds, as evidenced by the scale in Bed Bath and Beyond today. What else would a person who has missed 7 days of work in the past two weeks do on her first day back but run to Bed Bath and Beyond to accomplish the suddenly vital errand of buying a new shower loofah?

I'm afraid to buy a scale as I feel it would lead to obsessive, unhealthy, twice-daily weight checking. Instead I come up with silly reasons to go to Bed Bath and Beyond to use theirs. 

But I digress from my point. My point is that I will try and address issues aside from my dieting foibles from time to time.  Tonight however, I will detail how pathetic my afternoon was. 

First of all, after eating only 4-5 points each for breakfast and lunch I was starving and looking for a snack. I was at work so I ate my plain yogurt with no flavor and was not enjoying it. It was just something with protein to fill me up. Now when I add a little honey and a handful of Go Lean Crunch it's quite tasty - a mix of textures, sweet, sour, etc. I felt kind of like an idiot wasting a perfectly good snack on just trying to get full. That is not a way to enjoy life!

Then at home I was just dying to eat dinner starting at about 4:30. I kept trying to eat bits of things like chunky salsa with baked tortilla chips and tea with a splash of milk. The baked corn chips were so cardboard-like that I just switched to celery. Then Natasha and her friend were hungry for dinner at 5:15. I was trying to wait until 6 but ended up picking at their food. I had some turkey with bad low-fat gravy, some of Natasha's plain potatoes and was still hungry. I was not sitting, was picking at things, and was completely unsatisfied. It was so pathetic. I could have made a nice sit-down family dinner but just ate standing up instead and we all ate at different times! I hate that!!! I did realize that trader Joe's prepared Cuban-style black beans have only 1 point for half a cup. I rounded off my meal with some of them - warm and filling. I'm not having dessert of any kind tonight except for 2 prunes because I'm annoyed with myself for not really enjoying my food today.

Food log - must eat more fruit
whole wheat roll with egg white and tad sharp cheddar cheese
lots of coffee with milk

very nice salad with 1 tbs blue cheese dressing (delish) 2 slices procuitto, another small roll

10 cardboard corn chips
1/4 cup black bean and corn salsa

this was a really pathetic state of affairs. 
3 oz turkey
1/2 cup roasted potatoes with sweet mustard sauce (this I made the other day)
1/2 cup Cuban black beans

2 prunes

770 stairs with ipod - officemate not in due to weather

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Day

Ah snow days. So fun for kids and so tortuous for adults. Actually, this one isn't so bad so far - the kids are actually entertaining themselves. Thank God for my iphone game apps. The problem is that we don't really have enough snow for sledding, although maybe by the afternoon that will change. All I keep coming up with for ideas for things to do seems to be cooking. I really want to make that Alton Brown pretzel recipe. I wonder if I can substitute whole wheat for part of the flour. It seems like a project that would take up a lot of the day. But I can't imagine not eating several of them. I'd have to bring some over to my neighbors. One of my friends said that for "foodies like us it pretty much sucks all of the time." I haven't found that to be totally true yet, but that's only because I haven't been around too much good food lately. But as soon as I'm at a restaurant or other place with really good choices it does start to feel that way. But whatever, people certainly have much tougher problems than wanting to eat pretzels. 

Food log (fyi these are always from the day before)

coffee and milk
cottage cheese and banana

3oz salmon
1/3 cup 7 layer dip (this poor choice was due to not being able to look at my reheated leftovers anymore, and coincidentally someone bringing this into the office. I threw most of my lunch from home away.)

multigrain lasagna, frozen from TJs with extra broccoli - one advantage to store bought food is that it is easy to determine how big of a portion to eat to attain a certain amount of points. I ate enough to be full, and then slightly hungry at 9pm but not starving - just like Goldilocks!
1/2 of a No Pudge Fudge brownie

770 stairs
15 minutes of arm weights and sit-ups.

Monday, January 26, 2009

First milestone - people notice

Since I work at the National Cancer Institute, I have been pretty open about my colonoscopy. Everyone is so supportive and proud that I had my screening done. It's so nice! My Nigerian friend asked me if I had "lost a bit of myself" At first, I assume she is referring to a holistic, cleansing aspect of the colonoscopy (perhaps cleansing is party of Nigerian culture?) , but in fact she just means "did I lose weight?" She says she sees it in my face. A few other people notice as well. My clothes are much looser, but I still have so many that fit me after Natasha was born that still don't fit at all - not to mention the ones from BEFORE my pregnancies. Why they're even still in my closet I couldn't tell you. A few people have suggested getting a tape measure to keep track of certain widths - hips, thighs, stomach, upper arms. Supposedly this is more helpful than pure weight, especially if you start lifting weights. This seems like a logical idea. Put on list of errands! Turning down sweets is getting harder, especially when they're baked at home with the kids. Even No Pudge Fudge brownies add up. Last night I succumbed to eating a BLT with 2 strips of bacon and real mayonnaise. I can't stand the low-fat kind. Those points add up so quickly when bacon is involved! Sometimes that point system just makes me furious! How can my two little strips of bacon be so many points!!! Goddam it can't a woman have a little bacon once in a while??? It was nitrate-free and from some supposedly very happy pig!! As far as Weight Watchers is concerned that counts for nothing. Michal Pollan can bug off. I guess the answer is yes, I can have bacon, but it uses up lots of points. I will say, that after eating a dinner with some fat in it I was far less hungry or craving of dessert later in the evening.

Food Log
I can't remember! I think a banana was involved

arugula salad with 3oz salmon, 1 tbs pistachios, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 cup couscous, cherry tomatoes

90 cal cottage cheese with tomatoes - really staved off hunger for a while

BLT on wrap with 2 strops bacon and 1 tsp mayo

30 min aerobics in front of tv with Sunday morning shows.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jan 22-23 - Colonoscopy

About a year ago I decided to take care of all the physical issues that I had ignored through pregnancy, nursing and toddler-haze. This involved starting to exercise regularly again, which I did for a while, getting my vision checked, my varicose veins removed (messed up the exercise) and two cancer screenings, a special eye exam and a colonoscopy. I am proud to say that after today, they have all been taken care of. I am post-colonoscopy and don't have to go again for five years. No pollups. The doctor complimented my prep and was smiling at the results.

I am left with a stomach ache, which  I actually think has nothing to do with the procedure and everything to do with a mild virus in my house. Both Natasha and Dave have had similar pains in the past few days. 

Obviously my food intake yesterday was zero points. Last night I was beyond hungry and into crazy. I was screaming at everyone and snapping at the slightest infraction. I would be a very mean anorexic. Then  instead of going to bed early for some reason I decided to torture myself by watching Alton Brown make home made soft pretzels. I must try that. Then I stayed up to torture myself further with Iron Chef America. The ingredient was milk and it intrigued me. At any rate, I was dreaming of all the wonderful food I would eat today, only to be thwarted by a virus. I did eat 2 portions of my mother's fantastic home made soup which she brought for me, for lunch.

I got very hungry at snack time - 4:30 and allowed myself to descend into old habits of a big afternoon snack (really a meal). It's shocking how quickly old habits return! Carrots, hummus and a few (maybe 10?) of the kids' crackers. I really do have a weakness for Cheezits.

For dinner I made a delicious sauteed chard and mushrooms with camembert sauce. Not exactly dietetic. It's actually amazing how much cheese those veggies soak up without being the slightest bit greasy! 

Personal grooming has been completed - although I haven't had my hair cut since July. Now it's on to fixing this broken house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notice on inauguration posts

Somehow I am unable to integrate photos with the story, so you'll have to view them at my photo site. I also didn't cull through and delete enough so sorry for the repetition.

These posts are newest to oldest, so if you want to read them chronologically, start with the Concert, which was Sunday afternoon, and then the Huffington Post Ball which was Monday night, etc. Sorry for the typos. Enjoy!


Inauguration Day - Parade

So with the ceremony over we start pushing our way down Pennsylvania Avenue. It's cold, crowded, crazy. We walk a couple blocks and things thin out. In fact, we walk along Pennsylvania, and could pick a front-row seat anyplace we want. Barricades are set up but there aren't many people here. They're all either stuck in checkpoints, or on the Mall on the other side of PA ave. It's 12:30 and we're supposed to meet my husband and kids at a viewing party near 15th street. I worry about him coming downtown alone with the kids. The tv showed lines for hundreds of yards just to get into the Metro. We suggest he leave at 1pm to just come for the parade and miss all the ceremony traffic. Worthless AT&T allows no traffic. No phone, no text, no email. All the superlative technology in my hand in the form of my iphone is worthless. The towers are just maxed out. I later found out people with Verizon do just fine. They make countless phone calls to each other! I'm ready to scream. My friend gets 8 voicemails 12 hours later on two different occasions over the weekend.

We have at least 2 hours to stand in the cold and see a car go by, or we can make our way to 15th street to warmth and family. So we leave our perfect viewing spot and keep walking. We overhear a man say, "You have a decision to make. You can watch the parade and get hypothermia or you can go home and watch it on tv." I'm with him. The one thing that made it hard to leave was that we found the press box set up. That was the place to be of course. If we could have gotten through to my husband we would have had him meet us there with the kids - but then we would have had to stand in the cold for 3 hours with kids complaining.

Anyway, we make our way down Pennsylvania, and eventually hit a blockade and have to leave the interiors of the security checkpoint. We know we'll never get back in as now the lines are really long. It's hard to walk out....

The streets are all closed to traffic so they're just a festival of souvenir vendors, food vendors, people walking, people cheering. The Obamas' image is seen on every item a person could ever purchase - buttons, scarves, posters, bobble heads, action figures, hats.

We make it to our destination: a building overlooking the route, outside of the security checkpoints. The checkpoints are now a mass of thousands of people and must be 2 hours long. 
At this point we're so  happy to go inside as we're freezing. My face is cold and my handwarmers aren't warm enough yet. As soon as we get in the building we start sweating. We go upstairs into the ladies room and start furiously stripping off some of our extra layers. Turtleneck sweaters are flying, hair is sticking up with static, faces flushed. I look in the mirror and try and figure out how to look a little less like I've been run over like a truck. Lip gloss seems like a good solution, but to very little avail. We eventually leave, find my family and enjoy the party. 

The party is lovely. It's full of nice people, good food and a downstairs kid area staffed by White House Nannies. My kids eat at least 8 cupcakes, brownies, cookies, each. I'm grossed out watching them. The organizers hired a Barak Obama impersonator and two fake Secret Service people. We introduced Natasha, who was fooled, and proceeded to ask him a few important questions. Nice to know she wasn't the least bit shy about meeting the President!

The parade is of course very slow coming. The Obamas get back in the car for JUST OUR BLOCK! but it's fun anyway. We are so done, so tired, so ready to lie down.

When it's time to leave we get home with no traffic on the Metro, and it's perfectly seamless. Inauguration Weekend is over for us - we just watch all the balls on t.v.

Today at work everyone was swapping stories. We were definitely witness to history, but so was everyone watching it on tv. I hope the kids remember the jubilation on the streets!

Inauguration Day - Ceremony

I wake up at 7:30am on my own accord. The couch is comfy and I'm exhausted from being on my feet in the cold until 2am, but I just can't sleep late anymore. I turn on the t.v. to see what's happening on the Mall, 2 miles away. "Oh my God." I just keep repeating it over and over. The news shows keep showing these wide shots of the Mall, already full, and people jumping up and down happy and screaming. The ticker at the bottom says 18 degrees. I wait for my friend to get up and then show here the scenes. Now we have scored some tickets to the standing area - these are supposedly the prized golden tickets. We are both in a near coma and say, "I'm not going. I'm not standing in the cold for 5 hours" After 2 more hours of lying around, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, we decide we have to go. How can we not go??? Of course this dilemma has been plaguing everyone in DC for weeks. The logistics are so overwhelming - how can you go? But then how can you not?

We quickly shower, pack bags and head out the door and immediately get a taxi. It takes us ALL THE WAY TO 4TH AND K! This is a dream come true. We run up to the check point at 11:10 having heard that checkpoints are closing to everyone, ticket or not, at 11:30. The checkpoint is already closed. The guards suggest that we walk all the way under the Mall in the 3rd Avenue tunnel to another "possibly" open check point. This tunnel freaks me out in a car and there's no way we're walking, unsure of what chaos looms on the other side. Instead we really kick ourselves for being lazy - over and over. We stumble around getting as close as we can...kind of between Union Station and the Capitol, but a little more towards PA ave. There are just people everywhere. Just thousands and thousands of frustrated, frantic people everywhere. The barricades are 15 feet high and hard to see through. They kind of resemble animal pens but taller. They're black and ominous. At any rate, about 100 yards away we see about 100 people waving their tickets int he air. They have purple tickets. They immediately remind us of Holocaust victims, trying to get into safety, showing their credentials, hoping for leniency from the guards. The more we talk to people the worse it gets. We don't feel so badly for leaving late. Our friends left 3 hours before us and didn't get in. There was a great story on NPR today about all the people with tickets denied entrance. Campaign staffers who paid their own plane fare, hotel, got up at 4am, all denied, due to gate crashers (or perhaps poor planning).

We are finding our current location unacceptible but don't quite know what to do. We meet a couple who had been here at 7:30am with purple tickets who didn't get in either. Security checkpoints were closed at various times and people were sent to other ones. It was like a game of wack-a-mole, with the people being the hammer...wandering around in the cold looking for an opening. We try one more attempt at our silver checkpoint and end up down an alley at a kind of hidden restaurant. With about 6 other people, we press our faces against the glass, trying to see the t.v.s inside. It's a pathetic scene. Us outside, the Capitol in the backdrop, so close but way too far, and we are straining to see past the reflection on the windows of a dive bar, to make out the images on small tvs. This is just tragic. And mind you I'm with someone who spent the 1996 inauguration behind the flags on the Capitol itself, watching Clinton take his oath and give his speech from 10 feet behind him. I'm afraid she may turn into a puddle. I don't blame her.

We turn to our rights, and notice a checkpoint with no line. What is that? Who are those people. We walk up and get in line, fully expecting to be sent away. We go right through, bags determined to be safe...we later realize that was a checkpoint for getting into the Pennsylvania Ave viewing area. So we go in, and find a nice spot on a grassy knoll near the end of Constitution. We've good pretty good seats, all things considered. My friend is still disappointed but I'm ok. We can kind of hear, and can see jumbotron colors flickering through the tree branches. Aretha is unmistakable. Her singing makes everyone unable to contain themselves. The crowd is excited. Lots of black people crying, lots of white people cheering. We all get a little antsy as it moves past 12pm...we hear snippets of the ceremony and speech, but know that really listening is for later at home on tv.

Huffington Post Ball

Oh my where to begin? The logistics were confusing, full of unknowns and long long lists. I asked to go even though I was warned against it, just because I figured even if it was a horrible experience it would be memorable and very different from my usual evening routine of "You're 6 years old! Why are you still arguing with me about brushing your teeth?!?!?" followed by passing out in front of The Real Housewives of Orange County. I knew I'd be standing in the cold and hoped I'd see Sting and Sheryl Crow.

Just as I was about to leave the house Natasha doubled over in pain and quietly wimpered about her tummy hurting. I decided to hope it was gas and not a severe intestinal virus and forced her in the car so Dave could drop me at the Metro. As soon as I got downtown I started furiously texting Dave to ask about Natasha's condition. Mommy guilt is hard to shake off. Of course she was fine and even able to eat Chinese food.

The Metro quickly deposits me downtown and I walked two blocks to the Newseum, passing by massive barricades protecting Pennsylvania Avenue and thousands more still on the backs of 18-wheelers waiting to be set up. The Capitol glistened as always in the background. The Newseum was beautiful and rather majestic in kind of a high-tech way. A bunch of us got our magic "Huffington Post Event Staff" plastic badges and headed to the main floor. I found a moment to explore the Newseum a bit, as after three years of living here I've never been. I keep meaning to go there for "date night" but haven't yet. I walked past the stage and hear a roadie say, "Sting's guitar ok." While scanning 50 years of Pulitzer Prize winning photograps I heared some music start and assume it's still the band. Then I walk back over to see Will.I.Am and Sting hovering over a mic. I walked right up to the stage certain someone wasgoing to tell me to bug off, but instead I was able to stand right in front of them as they performed Union. I decideed right then that if nothing else happened but I saw that performance the night was worth it. About 20 people were standing around, camera phones pointed towards Sting and Will.I.Am, me included. It's sort of an odd feeling to walk right up to someone and take their picture without asking, but obviously this is as common as breathing for these people and they just keep performing.

Jamie Lee Curtis arrived early. There was no one in the VIP coat check so she hoisted herself over the desk and started hanging up her own coat. Betsey saw this and ran over saying, "You don't have to do that." and tried to help. Jamie Lee then put her arm around Betsey and said, "He won. I can hang up my own #$%^@#$ coat." Jamie Lee started hanging up some other coats and Betsey darted around getting someone stationed there and then Jamie Lee hoisted herself back over the desk again.

In a few minutes the volunteers and paid staff gathered and started getting briefed. I went out into the cold not feeling fully briefed and becoming acutely aware of my inexperience in large events management. Security is trickier than it looks and this event was anticipated to have 3000 people, including some A-list stars. I spend most of the night telling people they can't get in without either a purple wristband or their name on the list. It's very odd to be the one with authority. And the rules of who could get in and who couldn't were very strange and fluid. There was a huge list, maybe 50 pages of tiny print that I couldn't see and couldn't flip through as my fingers were so frozen they stopped reacting to my brain's instructions. But lots of people had text messages from Arianna or emails that they had printed out that said, "Just come and go past security." I guessed these emails were legit, but how did I know? Did they count? You could kind of tell when people were telling the truth, but there were just way too many people. Eventually the fire marshall made us stop letting people in for a while. At any rate, I was doing VIP Pull, which meant to pull VIPs out of the front and escort them to the red carpet. There was one door, but some how I missed some of them. I did see Chris Dodd, Claire McCaskel, Chris Matthews, Ashton and Demi (I said 'hi' to Ashton), Don King, Dustin Hoffman, Hayden Paniterri, Martha Stewart, Arianna Huffington, David Shuster, Hilary Rosen. Larry David walked right down the red carpet pulling items out of a big McDonalds bag. I guess he's exactly what you see on the show! Somehow I missed Ben Afleck! I can't even remember them all. We talked to M.C. Hammer for a minute. He was so happy to have his photo taken and gave a grin like he'd never been photographed before. At the end I went in to see the concert. I missed the begining of Sheryl Crow somehow but did hear one song and all of Sting's set. Will.I.Am is pretty impressive. Just starts rapping off some nonsense about how we're quick.

The other super-impressive person is Arianna herself. I didn't talk to her of course but she looked completely elegant and regal, and the ball was so impressive. It was a tribute to new technologies with thousands of people twittering, a blogging station of two laptops set up near the stage, live video streams, you name it. And the Newseum is a really neat venue with a huge atrium, people lining the stairs, an open floor below - it's several floors of partying space, all brand-new and techie-looking glass and steel construction. All the Washington glitterati were impressed with themselves for having been invited. It was such a scene of ego.

While watching the concert some waiters started bringing around snacks. Now at this point between my "new lifestyle" otherwise known as a diet, and the fact that it was almost 2am I was STARVING. I ate anything they brought me. This included a strange combination of cut up sausage breakfast sandwiches, elegant smoked salmon on toasts, and illogically, chunks of rice krispie treats stuck onto a stick. These were particuarly stale, so as people were leaving in their elegant gowns they looked massively silly awkwardly chomping on these surprisingly crunchy snacks.

My low point may have been when I started giving lip to Rick Schroeder. I didn't recognize him and was giving him a hard time for not having a purple band. Luckily someone stopped me pretty quickly. How could I have been rude to the boy from Silver Spoons?? But really that was the trick the whole time. You are trying to balance letting in some smooth-looking crasher with not insulting a semi-famous person. And everyone starts to look vaguely familiar after a while.

At the end my back was shooting in pain. We were all exhausted and freezing. Ashley Judd left her Ugg clogs at the table. We all stumbled home on the Metro. When we got to the apartment we were staying at, at 2am, the streets were filled and chaotic. It was like Mardi Gras but cold. So unbelievable. Crowds of people chanting Obama and generally partying.

We stumbled to bed, me on a small but extremely comfy couch. I woke up in the same exact position I fell asleep in.....
Will try and find all the photos off my iphone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


We spent most of the morning driving around Rockville Pike unsuccessfully scoping out warm items. Hats and gloves were practically non-existent in all the stores we visited. REI sold out of 30,000 hand warmers in a day, and Hudson Trail sold out of 70,000. Entrepreneurial types bought them all up to hawk at the events, we soon found out...I guess the recession holds nothing over people's fears of freezing for a day.

At 2pm we took our 4 yr old boy and left our 6 yr old at a birthday party, where we figured she'd be happier and headed for the Bethesda Metro. The metro was practically empty, although the not so machine-card savvy people really tried my patience. After a long walk we got to the Mall area. It was CROWDED. The area from the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial was closed because it was "full." Their definition of full was only about 75% full which was pretty annoying. Security is being taken very seriously, with police sniper towers posted every hundred yards or so. The area towards the Washington Monument was packed. We ended up standing at the gate, looking straight past the World War II monument and to the Lincoln Memorial and distant jumbotrons. Having both attended and watched the concert on HBO I'm not sure it was the same event. The live concert was a mosh pit of crowds and reverberating noise, which somewhat resembled famous songs. On HBO the music was excellent and there was a fabulous fashion show of wintery finery to boot. Mary J. Blige's coat was to die for! This morning I found out that 2 friends were literally 10 feet away from us the whole time. I took a lot of photos...I tried uploading them from various apps on my iphone, but I guess the other 100,000 people at the concert had the same idea and the towers got overloaded. 

Upcoming postings - inauguration activities

Over the next few days I hope to blog about the weekend of inauguration activities. The weather has lightened a drop today, which bodes well. It's already 30 degrees at 8:30am. I may go to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial today, but probably just my husband and son will go. I'm saving my stamina for a pre-inaugural ball on Monday night, where I'll be volunteering (my post is spotting VIPs and directing them to the correct entrance!), and for the grand event itself. The current plan is for me to stay overnight Monday night with my dear friend in Dupont Circle, and then for us to meet up with my husband and the kids on Tuesday morning to try and view the ceremony on jumbotrons on the Mall and then to hopefully attend a parade-viewing party someplace warm. This means my husband has to take the kids into the crush of the red line by himself, or possibly try and take bikes of some sort. I wonder if he can hitchhike a ride with a bus as one of the main thoroughfares into the city from points north is Connecticut Ave, which is 1 block from our house.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 11 -better decisions

Today was a good day. First of all I wasn't so hungry. I ate more substantial meals, and being home part of the day helped too. I didn't get stuck with vending machine choices for afternoon snack. Second, my wool pants that i need to wear to a pre-inaugural event fit me. Considering I'll be outside wrangling VIPs to the right doors in 15 degree weather, this is an exceedingly positive development!

Meals were all homemade. Dinner was fabulous tilapia I bought at an overpriced fishmonger. It would have been really lovely except for the wrath of my children at being forced to eat it. If I just fed them Kraft Macaroni and Cheese every night and never made them brush their teeth we'd have a very peaceful household.

At any rate I don't feel like I'm on a diet. I feel like I've embarked upon a massive lifestyle change. I needed to compensate for the various events that precipitated weight gain. Below are events and associated approximate weight changes from about age 25 to now.

1. summer diner waitressing job. food started to gross me out after being around it so much, and I was on my feet all day and jogged in evening. I actually dieted that summer. (1994) -7
2. moving into walkable Boston for grad school, and ironically, into a location just a bit too far from 3 different T stops. It was just as easy to walk/rollerblade than to deal with Kenmore Square T. (1994) -7
3. getting sick with gallbladder disease (1994) -10
4. becoming utterly and completely lovesick (1998) -5
5. moving from city to suburbs - no more rollerblading everywhere (1998), +10
6. settling into couple routine of lots of eating out (1999)+5
7. 1st pregnancy (2001) +12 post-baby, say 1 yr later
8. 2nd pregnancy, complete haze of 2 babies, one who was sick for 2.5 years and didn't sleep. (2004) +12
9. ability to sleep, older toddlers, new job (2005) weight up and down constantly +/-7 lbs, depending on rate of exercise/sleep/sweets intake/rotovirus exposure.
10 entering late 30s (2007) +3
11. return to office job 5 days a week, end of stroller pushing (2008) +7
12. decision to take matters seriously and change all habits drastically (2009) ???
(not sure if the math adds up perfectly on this, but you get the point)
The above list I think explains why baby steps are no longer helpful. Small changes like moving to whole wheat, reducing sugar, trying to walk more, etc. can change 5 to 7 lbs.  But alas to compensate for sitting most of the day, pregnancy/nursing, or driving everywhere, aging, one must be drastic. One cannot override having one's ass glued to either a minivan seat or office chair by simply bypassing birthday cake. Maybe I should have figured out a way to exercise today....

food log
coffee with milk 1pt
whole wheat naan with 2tbs peanut butter 6pts
tall skim latte, mid morning 1pt

1.5 cups couscous and beluga lentil salad with feta and red pepper 3pts? couscous hard to measure due to density variance
banana 2pts

0 fat yogurt 1pt

many oz tilapia, sauteed onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, drop olive oil, decided upon extra tilapia instead of the never-ending bowl of plain couscous in the fridge.

9 soy crisps, 50cal, 1/2pt

none, unless traipsing around a hot mall looking for dishwashers and extra warm clothes for the inaugural seemed like exercise due to the sweating and disorientation

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 10 - hungry

Today was one of those hungry days. I went to bed hungry, woke up hungry at 5am and was hungry all afternoon. Did I say it didn't bother me? Not true. I ate a fair amount for breakfast and lunch and dinner. I'm not so hungry now, finally. Actually I was picking while cooking dinner, just like my old habit, but with smaller portions. I had made a rule to not do that but I consciously broke it thinking that after being hungry for so long I really needed to eat something the second I walked in the door. It felt really bad to be scavenging for random things and not eat a meal. Fractions of point values were flying around in my head as I looked at my options in the cabinets. I really should have eaten an afternoon snack hours before, but I stayed longer at work than I had anticipated.

On the plus side, after getting to work late due to an early morning meeting with a plumber, my Nigerian stair-walking buddy pinned me down for a time to do our stairs the moment I walked in. I was so late and so busy I was going to skip it, but she is way too responsible to let us slack off after one day. Her excuse-less demeanor often makes me think Phil Gramm was right about the whole nation of whiners thing. For what it's worth, the plumbing meeting went surprisingly well. He fixed our upstairs toilet for free by shoving his key into the hole and scraping sediment. We talked for a while more in the bathroom after that and I kept hoping he would wash his hand but to no avail.

Dinner was a wholesome soup. My mom came up here the other day and brought her homemade chicken soup. This was fortuitous for two reasons 1. my daughter came home with a fever today (apparently she went to see the school nurse but no one called me) and 2. it's a good diet food. I replaced the small white noodles with organic whole wheat couscous in my portion. The problem with soup is that it's hard to gauge portions of the stuff floating around in the soup. After finishing I tried to retroactively measure. The whole bowl held 1.25 cups of water so I would wager that I had about a 1/2 cup couscous and a 1/2 cup chicken. Of course I also had carrot chips, soy chips and 2 off-brand Cheezits. The fake Cheezits were totally gross.

Food log

coffee with milk 1pt
1 scrambled egg (not even whole egg - shared 3 eggs with hungry 4yr old) 2pts
1/2 naan with 1tbs peanut butter 4pts

arugula salad with turkey, drop hummus, tomatoes - no dressing 3pts
whole wheat roll was too stale to eat 0pts
fat-free yogurt, some sugar 2pts

general foraging of soy chips, carrots, a couple bites of overly sweet terriaki salmon 2pts
1.25 cups chicken and couscous soup 4pts (3?)

blackberries and grapefruit - fresh from FL (surprisingly filling) 2pts

770 steps- 15 mintues intense,  -2pts

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 9 - acceptance

Ok so Emily and I had a long talk at lunch about WW Points versus grams. I think I like grams better because they're easy to find on the food labels. I kind of feel like there is a conspiracy to confuse people on what is nutritious. Counting points as well as keeping track of water, fruit/veggie intake, milk/dairy intake and protein intake is too much work for one day. I'm not an accountant! I was actually walking around TJs today with my iphone plugging numbers into my Points finder app. What a dork - on so many levels!!! She said to calm down about getting to exactly a certain number of points - 24 - and just get a sense. That makes me kind of more relaxed and kind of more tense. My basic confusion comes from the fact that Points don't account for protein intake. I used to look at protein versus carb grams. I'd also sort of glance at the fat content and make sure it wasn't totally crazy. But Ww is more fat conscious and it does not really separate good fat from bad fat in the Points algorithm (it's patented!)

Here is what I'm taking away. Eat less fat. Eat lean proteins. Eat very little sugar and carbs with a low fiber count. Eat smaller portions. Where I get confused is with the "Mediterranean diet" ideas. Like you can be generous with olive oil, nuts, beans, etc. Not so much a worry about fat as a worry about bad fat. Returning to seriously reducing all fat seems to make me feel like I've decorated my house in that '80s peach/pink and I'm making my hair stand straight up with gel. It's so late eighties.

Exercise went much better today. I walked stairs in my office with my Nigerian office-mate. We climbed 770 steps in 15 minutes and I got to hear several Nigerian aphorisms. 

Several people have commented that I normally am funnier than this blog. Perhaps hunger wiped out my sense of humor. How sad. In fact, today I ate bigger portions, although not over the top, and am less hungry. I don't feel any funnier though. I'll work on it.

food log
coffee with milk 1pt
portable cottage cheese - 90 cal 1pt
1 packet TJs "Just a handful of cranberries, cashews and almonds" This was 5 points! I was furious. Why can't I eat some nuts without throwing off a whole meal?? I was mad at WW when I learned this.

frittata with onions, mushrooms and a bit of parmasean cheese on top, about 1 egg, 1 extra egg white  -3pts
medium-sized but dense whole wheat sourdough roll - 3pts
apple 1pt

1 bite turkey and 8 cherry tomatoes in car straight out of grocery bag - I was starving

Indian soup from Trader Joes. I know it's not homemade about 5 points.
4 large strawberries for dessert! 1 pt

770 steps
3 sets 10 reps each of 3 arm machines
40 crunches
5 min cool down - 30 min total

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 8 - first setback

The last 24 hours were depressing, starting with last night after I posted. First of all, after eating a sensible dinner I tried to go to sleep and found that I was starving. I mean pregnant level starving. I don't think I ate enough points for a couple days and it caught up with me. I couldn't sleep and couldn't think. I really don't like eating at night, diet or not, as it usually gives me a stomach ache. At any rate, just like a pregnant woman, I went downstairs and scarfed down chicken out of the fridge. I didn't eat too much, but I was so pissed off at my inability to discern real hunger from the kind of hunger that goes away with a little distraction. I seem to eat too much or too little. Where is my inner Little Red Ridinghood?? Anyway, I went to sleep and woke up equally starving. I had a small breakfast or snack and got dressed to leave for an all day meeting. While getting dressed, I tried on some clothes and some of the clothes I couldn't even button last week I could now button but they are still tight. Where is my instant gratification!!! These are pants mind you, that I could wear happily over the summer.

I spent the day sitting in a packed conference room with a table of goodies taunting me from the back of the room. For the first half of the day I was still really agitated-hungry. So I basically ate all morning. I didn't care that much as I know WW gives some floater points and I hadn't used any this week yet. I was actually more annoyed at how my pants got more and more uncomfortable during the day. Sigh. So after a week basically no change. I think I need to up the exercise.

At least I passed some time in the meeting by keeping my food log!

food log - very long

breakfast at home
coffee with milk
low fat bran muffin

breakfast at meeting
2 mini power nuggets - mush of lots of seeds, fruit, other high-calorie items, extremely tiny though, like 1/2 inch square
1/2 bagel with cream cheese
1/2 cup fruit
1/2 cup 7 layer dip with 3 tortilla scoops (really ridiculous)

delicious home made arrugula salad with
1/2 cup chicken
1/4 cup hummus
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs pomegranate vinegar
1/4 bagel

no-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt with 10 blueberries
tiniest smidge of some crazy graham cracker melted chocolate peanut butter frosted insanity.
(I wanted to tasted this for hours and really one bite satisfied my curiosity. Delicious but too rich and sweet)

2 mini whole wheat pizzas, about the 4" diameter
about 3 tbs shredded cheese (100 cal), lots of veggies, drizzle olive oil
crust only 120 cal


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 7 - Good sweets

I contemplate breakfast and what Emily said about eggs. One egg is two points. Three egg whites is one point. I still have a hard time throwing away all those yolks. My dad instilled a Depression-era mentality about throwing away food, and then spent a week in bed with a gastro bug watching Live-Aid in my formative teen-age years. My husband literally didn't have enough food to eat growing up and often went hungry. He wastes nothing. So I don't like wasting food. Plus I buy expensive organic eggs. I finally give in and forgo the butter in the pan and spray the Pam, which she has also been suggesting. I put in the whole egg. It doesn't stick. I warm up a whole wheat dinner roll from Trader Joe's and make a mini sandwich. I also prepare a wonderfully rounded lunch of Greek yogurt, a high-fiber muffin and an orange. Unfortunately I leave it in the refrigerator and go to work, remembering to bring 5 other items, including my son's lunch. At lunch-time Emily gives me a 1 Point yogurt and some instant oatmeal. I measure the proper amount and eat everything. This is truely liberating! I didn't have to think about when to stop eating. I could have stopped earlier, but I want energy for those stairs.

My largest pants are finally a tiny bit more comfortable. But I have a long way to go. I must find a scale someplace. I have this comforting feeling that I am returning to sanity about eating and exercise. I may not always succeed, but I have retrained my stomach and eye to at least recognize bad choices. I search for and find a WW Points app for my iphone. Kind of an admission of having drunk the Kool-Aid.

A note on the food logs. I'm not necessarily counting all my points for the day. That's kind of a lot of work! Instead I'm trying to count points at each meal and only eat 3 meals and very small snacks. I'm kind of learning a new language where words are portion sizes. Putting those words together in sentences makes meals, and a day is a paragraph. I want to get good at writing these paragraphs without looking up words in the dictionary or referring to some book of grammar rules.

A note on sweets. I am staying away from sweets for now. WW has a lot of sugar-free, fat-free sweets that I don't want. I want to stay away from artificial and processed foods. My goal is to only eat sweets that would score a 10 on a "how fabulous is this?" scale. I know for a fact that when I eat less sugar I crave less sugar. That's a pretty well-known notion. 

Food log to Emily

-coffee with milk
-small roll

-1 Point yogurt with splenda
-1/2 cup (uncooked) plain oatmeal

sadly this in not until 4:30 and I'm grumpy. I'm hungry in the form of grumpiness, kind of like a Wonder Twin.
-2 slices sugary dried mango bad but only 60 cal
--1/4 cup hummus with handful of carrots

limited options - I realize I must go shopping.
1/4 cup pre-made aloo matar (peas and potatoes) from TJ's Indian Fare
1/4 cup yellow dal (lentils and spices) from TJ's Indian Fare
1/2 cup biryani rice mixture (bad white rice) also from TJs
3/4 cup peas
I kind of forgo my rule on non-processed rules when it comes to TJ's. They have so few artificial ingredients that I count it more as take-out. Perhaps that's an error.

4 prunes yummy, sweet and energy dense. Emily wouldn't approve. 

late-night snack
1/2 cup chicken cubes

walk the stairs at work 3 times. That's 21 flights of 24 steps each. But still not enough. Only 15 min or so. Must increase exercise.

Day 6 - Increase stairs

Day 6
Must increase exercise. Eating slightly more, understanding Points more intuitively, looking to be more serious about exercise. Walk up many flights of stairs at work. Huff and puff. Stop, check email, take elevator down and repeat 2 more times. Walk about 24 flights of tall staircases. Do some crunches in office. Ready to weigh-in but can't find scale. Make miraculous observation that office gym now has flat-screen tv with DirectTV, due to my request 6 months ago. Fancy that! Between that and my new iPhone podcasts, I may just use the gym. Stairs did trick though. Goddam hard. I was sweating.

Food log to Emily

1 high fiber muffin
1 egg
coffee plus milk

salad with 4oz salmon, 1tbs oil 1tsp vin
1 greek yogurt

1/2 cup sliced white chicken
1 cup peas
2 tbsp crumbled low-fat feta
2 tbs mango chutney - very sugary. no fat. 1 pt.
1tbs pistachios (I know! But I had some extra points)

after dinner
half banana

60 crunches (in office!)
24 flights stairs (in office - almost died)

Day 5 - Embracing measuring

Day 5
Sunday. Quiet. In groove of things. Eating slightly larger portion sizes due to measuring. Completely on board with measuring now. If I can't eat until I'm full then how do I know when to stop? Below explains how I came to accept measuring.

I start reading WW materials. I quickly realize that I have one big positive going for me. I already understand how to cook healthfully for myself and my family. I don't need to learn that. I have lots of great short-cuts to make food more nutritous. I add flax meal and wheat germ to things. I mix in tofu or pureed squash to sauces as thickener sometimes. I don't use a lot of butter (except in eggs but even that I'm diminishing). I love vegetables and fruit. I weaned myself off most non-whole grains a year ago. I have made attempts lately at preparing more vegetarian meals for my family. I don't drink a lot of soda, alcohol or fast food. I like to get some exercise although I don't push myself to exhaustion enough.

On the down side, I do cook by tasting, not with recipes so I need to taste less. I never follow recipes. I never measure when I cook. For me cooking is a creative endeavor not to be hampered by rules or lists. I think people who do are unimaginative and rigid. Can't you just estimate?? What is wrong with you? You need a measuring cup to tell you what to put in a stir fry? (Obviously this means I don't bake.) In my twenties I lost a lot of weight by changing my daily habits, eating small portions, and some forced weight-loss due to gall bladder surgery. I had a roommate who did weight watchers and used a scale. I thought she was silly and couldn't think for herself.

Now I'm staring at the cutting board trying to figure out how many chicken slices to put on my salad. I keep throwing one or two slices back and forth from my plate to the cutting board. How little can I eat while still being able to exercise? I have to be hungry sometimes so that is not a measure any more. I'm confused. Emily tells me to use the WW guidelines. A WW portion of lean meat is 4 oz. This is somewhat helpful. But how many thinly sliced pieces makes up 4 oz? I let go of my entire previous 37 years of identity, grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup from the drawer and start shoving in chicken strips. Then I put them on the salad. That was pretty easy! I eat. I'm not full right away when I stop, but I'm full soon enough.

Have I become a person who uses measuring cups?? Well yes, I have. But only for personal portion control. I have a lot more on my mind than I did in my 20s and I just want to shove the food in the measuring cup and dump it in my bowl. I'll get better at eyeballing things.

I still don't measure to cook. But I do measure my own portions. I feel like a different person now. De-coupling these two kinds of measuring is an epiphany! I can keep my creative cooking identity, but still understand how much I'm eating.

Have lovely tea/shopping date with Emily. We discuss many things, including her baby's sleeping habits. Did I go through that? We also discuss my newfound fascination with WW's plan. Instead of being distrusting, I'm coming to view it as a vast social experiment. How does it work? It's fascinating. We work in public health so I should know. My previous job was in Internet consulting so I felt the same way about joining Facebook and learning about blogging. It's kind of a job requirement and a necessary activity to make me more knowledgeable about important social trends in my field. Of course the result has been thousands of wasted hours on Facebook and now on this blog. Hmmm.

I think it's kind of common knowledge that most people who have long-term success use WW. Emily tells me to stick to the WW Points allotment and not eat less because they have done millions of dollars of research and know what they're talking about. I believe her. She reads things. After a lovely time out, I go home and get really cranky about making dinner as I don't want to be in the kitchen with all it's temptations. And I'm tired from attempts at exercise. I perk up though and realize my husband has just had the kids for 5 hours and grilling chicken isn't really all that hard.

Food log to Emily

breakfast/morning snack
one egg, smidgen of butter, 1/2 naan
1 yogurt, no sugar
1 high fiber muffin

some weights for arms, but only 10lbs.

1/2 cup salmon on arugula, tomatoes, peppers,
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
1/2 naan

tea (with you!)

1/2 cup ground beef
1/2 cup whole wheat pasta
(bad part!) 3 almonds and 4 mini rice crackers - bad snack but i gave in for a minute. I didn't eat much - like 2 tablespoons.
roasted green beans with no salt, nothing.

Days 4 - A restaurant

Day 4
First restaurant challenge.
We go to a restaurant. How will I cope? When did I become so neurotic??
I know I have lots of Points and the thought of ordering a salad with salmon on top makes me want to cry. Life cannot be this boring. I order the most delicious fried oyster sliders with some crazy sauce, pickles, and cole slaw. All on a super mushy potato rolls. I eat 2 of the three and give the third to my husband, along with the onion strings. I don't eat the kids' french fries. I glare at the waiter for bringing french fries when I ordered them veggies. I don't need them fat too.

Oh my god my meal is divine. I want the third sandwich but don't eat it. I'm full enough. I don't feel guilty for eating fried food. I have controlled myself and not ruined everyone's evening by saying we need to rush home to eat. I have not left bitter and resentful after eating a boring salad and salmon slab. I'm happy. The kids even fall asleep in the car and go right back to sleep after being put in bed. Perfect.

Food log to Emily

ok, practically starved due to time issues...then had big dinner...but not horrible....but here it is...


- run/walk for 30 min - must change the run to walk ratio!

coffee with lots milk,
5 prunes (100 cal)

lunch - 11:15am, kind of a problem as dinner is far away, but schedule got compliated.
1 cup sauteed greens and navy beans. probably 1/3 cup beans
1/2 whole wheat naan, tiny drop butter! it was yummy!

snack 3:30
5 largish strawberries

dinner (my first restaurant challenge!!!)
2 sliders with fried oyster, coleslaw, some sauce, potato bun - they were smallish, and i could easily have eaten the third and all the onion strings, but I gave those to Dave - and we didn't get the free sample fudge or huge cookies i totally wanted across the street.
1/2 cup veggies sauteed - probably in butter

water, diet coke

Days 2-3 - New regime

Day 3
It used to be that a small fruit or veggie snack did nothing for my hunger. Now it actually works. I have also read in several books, most notably "French Women don't Get Fat" that if you eat less and are not stuffing yourself endlessly you actually taste the food more. Now I thought this was complete hooey. I do not eat endless amounts of bland pasta to fill an emotional void. I eat whole wheat pasta with lovely sauteed vegetables, and a drizzle of olive oil, but in large portions. I eat because it is satisfying and tastes good, perhaps often out of boredom or procrastination, but not for some deep emotional glut.

But even after a few days I am finding flavors are stronger. I really enjoy my few bites of whatever. I don't need as much as I am feeling the food's richness. I have not opted for totally non-fat blandness so I actually do have food to taste. I'm eating what I ate before actually, but less of it. Right now I'm ok with having smaller portions of stronger-tasting food. This will probably change in a few days. But for now it's ok. Emily tells me my choices are too energy dense and not satisfying enough. I know she's right long-term, but for now I want to eat the foods I want and if that means eating only a little that's ok. She tells me I'm not eating enough. Perhaps but I need to instill some discipline in my eating. I'll eat more in a few days. I'm not starving myself. I try jogging and learn quickly that she is right. I am light-headed and weak. I come home and eat a sensible snack. Must stick to Points allotments.

One big difficulty is being in the kitchen off and on for hours on end, preparing meals, cleaning up getting lunches's much harder not to pick and snack when the food is within arm's reach. Self-discipline and control. I'm not a type-A person. I don't like rules. This is new for me.

Food diary to Emily.
ok, so far...
I'm realizing i must measure things...i'm guessing at amounts
i'm also realizing that eating is a big part of my life which i have to basically try and forget about. sad.

small (130 cal) yogurt with small handful peanuts ( I know! they're gone now, that was the last handful)

romaine salad with 4oz salmon, 5 cherry tomatoes, handful baby carrots
1tblspoon balsamic dressing
half a while wheat naan - 120 cal


sauteed greens, couscous, beans, haven't cooked it yet. hopefully no after dinner snack.

Day 2

Still hungry but not in the same way. More like low-level annoying itch or something. Am proud of ability to stop at smaller amount. I have come to terms with the idea that I have to be hungry sometimes. Lots of the time. I know most people accepted this fact long ago, but somehow through the whole pregnant/nursing thing I lost that concept. I also started snacking whenever I felt like it, as long as it was something relatively healthy. New mode of thinking. If you're hungry between meals just wait. If you're starving and feeling weak eat a small amount of fruit or carrot sticks. Eat the number of Points Weight Watchers suggests. I resolve myself to email a food log to Emily each night for accountability. This isn't nearly as hard as it sounds if you're not snacking all day long. It's easier to keep track of fewer items.

Can't find food log for one of these days. Above log is either day 2 or 3.

Day 1 - Understanding hunger

Day 1 - January 8, 2009
Starving. Absolutely starving but it's not bothering me in the slightest. I'm just ignoring it with a zen assurance. I remind myself of Sarah Palin. She's so sure of herself! This must be done and I'm doing it and being starving is no more annoying than pinching pants. I know this ability to ignore being starving is going to be short-lived. I've had this feeling before, and I succeed in losing weight, sometimes for a long time, other times for a short time, but it is certainly temporary that hunger is a non-issue. I'll enjoy it while I can.

I'm mainly using the Weight Watchers Points principals and emailing a diary of my food intake every day to my friend Emily, who is a lifetime member, a good listener and an eager coach. Emily constantly tells me to eat fewer nuts and dried fruits. I am already a proficient home cook, I know the rules of whole grains, limited processing, good fats, etc. I like Michael Pollan's ultra simple mantra: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly greens. I try to keep that in my head. Fat-free chemical dressing is not my answer. I think those things taste gross. I try not to think of myself on a diet, but rather as having made a decision to get back to healthy sustainable eating habbits. The depressing part is that I have to eat small reasonable portions for the rest of my life. I know I'll go through other periods of slipping up. I try not to think about the assured failure at some later point and just focus on succeeding now. Sigh.

I immediately realize how much consistent instant gratification I was getting from food. Bored? Have a low-fat yogurt. Near the kitchen? Have some almonds - they have good fats! Don't want to de-clutter for the 1000th time? Slice up an apple. I eat all the time. Healthy foods for sure, but too many of them. Now each food must be chosen carefully and enjoyed thoroughly. Time spent eating must be reallocated to more useful endeavors. Like blogging. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

How it started

(Blogger's note - this first post is long, but future ones should be only a summary of a day or two)
Well of course I've never been one of those skinny girls. I wasn't thin even as a child. Looking back I wasn't heavy either, but I probably perceived myself as such. I'm 5'8" and I've almost always been the same size. During one glorious period a size smaller and during some terrible periods a size bigger, but mainly consistent. I have an hourglass or pear figure-type. I flit in and out of exercising regularly, but I don't exercise in that hard-core totally sweaty competitive way. My husband does that! My weight has probably fluctuated between up and down the same 10 lbs post pregnancy, and even that lower end is a good 10 pound above my pre-pregnancy weight. I have big hips and big shoulders so I can carry a bit more weight than some. But not this much.

At age 37 and 2 kids later I've lost my one feature I really liked - a flat stomach, and worsened the bad ones. My bad areas of my legs, booty and upper arms have much more cellulite and fat. I am sort of a 12 but things are very tight and uncomfortable, and the scale is telling me bad things. 183lbs. Probably more than my husband. Completely depressing. That coupled with my largest clothes being massively uncomfortable propelled me into a serious look at my eating habits.

Lately I've hit an energy low. I run around with my kids and get exhausted immediately. I AM ONE OF THOSE WOMEN! How did I become someone from a makeover show, who eschews playing with her children due to her weight? This just happened in the last 6 months. I went from 175 to 183 since August 2008. Those final 8 pounds brought on the sluggishness.

My kids are now 6 and 4, less demanding and not sick as often. That means I'm not sick as often either. Many earlier attempts at regular exercising were derailed by long winters of sinus infections, strep, ear infections, no sleep and pure tortuous exhaustion. It's hard to keep up an exercise routine when you feel like crap and haven't slept a full night in months. Luckily I'm past most of that now. Currently any failure to exercise can be blamed on nothing but laziness and lack of discipline.

I eat a wonderful diet with one huge exception. Volume. I eat too much and too frequently. I must reduce portion size and eliminate snacks - or eat fruit/veggies for snacks. Must also increase tenacity of cardio and add more muscle-building exercise to my routine, not to mention do it more days of the week. But not yet. First I'm working on eating less.

Decision day - January 7, 2009
My fat clothes are tight. I'm not buying new ones. My husband is polite but I know he's disappointed in me - he's as in shape as he's ever been. My friends tell me, "Yeah it's time to do something." not "You look great!" I'm doing something. I remember the one time in my life I was thin for a long time. I ate less. Pure and simple. Thin people don't eat big portions. It's not that complicated. I can't think of a thin person I know who eats a lot. Well maybe a couple. I was weighed at the doctor's office today and the nurse politely kept the lever at 183 for such a brief moment I couldn't even discern if it was 183 or 184. I was wearing my Uggs and jeans so I'm going with 183.

Some history
I think I got to this place by picking and choosing the rules I liked from 4 basic books.

We all pig out pregnant. How can you not scarf down potato chips and ice cream pregnant? It takes a long time to get it off. Give yourself a break for several months. After a year start working hard at it.
I glommed on to all but the last directive. I had big babies who ate constantly and quickly grew off the charts. They were nursed, and I was hungry.

Eat all the cheese and meat you want. Don't eat carbs.
I chose to just believe that massive repeated slatherings of camembert and brie are acceptable and dietetic. Carbs are ok if they're whole grain or fresh fruit. Not real Atkins.

Eat what you love. Savor every bite. Don't over eat. Stop eating before you're full. Eat small portions. Don't over snack. Walk everywhere. Don't take elevators.
Ok, so I occasionally take the stairs and eat big portions of things I love. I do enjoy them.

Eat food. Mostly greens. Not too much.
I do great on the first part, ok on the second part, and skip the third part. Also he thinks fatty greasy meats are ok as long as they're grass-fed, sustainably raised and not eaten too often. Meat should be an enhancer not the main dish. I bought some grass-fed beef and farm-raised sausage links and went to town! They taste GOOD.