Sunday, May 31, 2009

Find the nutritional data in your own recipes

Nutrition Data

  1. You can break down the nutritional data of recipes you make yourself - kind of tedious but enter all the ingredients in and the number of serving sizes, and voila!
  2. It has some kind of neat and colorful charts.

  1. some simple foods were hard to find, like flax meal and even eggs took a fair amount of searching.
  2. it's kind of information overload - data on every enzyme, etc.I'm kind of a big believer in eating a variety of foods and hoping for the best nutrition-wise.

Here is a sample of my healthy chocolate chip cookies. BTW next time I would not try to have them appeal to the kids. I would add more sweet spices and forget the fatty chocolate chips and just make them for myself.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Horrible sweet cravings tonight

Why is this still happening? I think bc I have had more sweets lately-
even in small doses. Sweets beget sweets true but depressing.

Tomorrow is my diet day off and I'm going to take it. I had to really
watch myself today. Things were not happening naturally or without
major effort and willpower. Definitely not in my normal groove today!!

I was looking for dinner starting at 4pm. This happens when I'm home
early sometimes and it's horrible. I ate 100 baby carrots and sugar
peas and cooked exotic pestos. I just could not distract myself!! My
lunch may have been too small and my snack was insufficient due to
being greasy and not high fiber. Potato chips and chicken sausage free
samples from grocery store!!!! Somehow I ate an ok dinner around the
right size.
I should have just had a yogurt at 5 but I didn't want to admit
defeat. What a dork.

Then tonight I've been dreaming of making chocolate chip cookies all
evening only deterred by the thought of messing up the clean kitchen
and by knowing that tomorrow I can indulge guilt-free.

I realize this post sounds completely neurotic. I must be more normal

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I've given up....

Ok - warning about a kind of hokey posting below....

Despite my sweet craving after dinner tonight, in general, I don't find my new lifestyle that hard. This happened around the 3 month mark, just as conventional wisdom would have suggested - that is the time it takes for a change in lifestyle to sink in. 

That being said, I have given some things up. During those three months, I went through a sort of grieving experience for those things. Now that is a ridiculous term, but it's the best one I can think of. I also gained a lot.

Here is what I gained:
  1. A healthy BMI! This was my main goal.
  2. More compliments than I can explain. I hear "you're an inspiration" several times a week.
  3. A happy husband!
  4. Self-confidence about undertaking BIG projects
  5. Ability to wear fun clothes
  6. Ease with my body in summer clothes. It's so great to wear cut-off jeans and a fitted t-shirt.
Things I've given up...upon reflection at this point...ummm....not much. At first I gave up a lot. But most of the things that were originally sacrifices I no longer miss.
  1. Pigging out and having fun doing it - or eating to satiety without thinking. This I once found extremely sad for some reason, like if I could never laugh really hard again, but instead just chuckle. However, now I don't want to any more. It does take some discipline to stop before being full though.
  2. Random snacking for the fun of it all day - constant oral gratification, trying everything offered to me. Again - I don't miss this any more but I did at first.
  3. Eating without thinking. I'm pretty regimented and need to pay attention to what I'm eating at every meal. Sometimes I overeat just by accident. This sounds horrible, but again, I'm used to it, like a person with a food allergy.
  4. Sometimes I'm hungry, but I don't let myself get starving usually.
  5. Alcohol. A huge waste of points and I was never a drinker anyway. On occasion I have one drink. This is really not that much of a change in habit but a change in attitude.
Things I gave-up at first and regained:
  1. Ability to enjoy restaurants and social events. I no longer live in fear of "falling off the wagon." I've enjoyed enough special events to know that I will return to my plan the next day. I've also figured out how to find something I can eat in most circumstances without affecting what the group is eating.
  2. Off-limits foods. I used to mourn very rich or sweet foods as things I could never eat again because they used up too many points for the day. Now I'm perfectly happy having them infrequently and in small quantities. In fact, a whole serving of these foods (pizza, ice cream, etc.) kind of grosses me out. I understand this sounds slightly anorexic, but in fact, most of those foods really aren't that good, and when they are I eat them in small quantities.
  3. Sweets. I completely gave them up at first, so as to break my cravings for them. Now I have far fewer, and usually something simple like a few handfuls of sweetened cereal.
People keep asking me how long I can keep this up. I feel fully certain that I can keep this up for a long time. The only things that could derail me are the very small chance of a third pregnancy, or the likely chance of some kind of illness or injury. Everyone goes through physical adversity at some point and I have genes that make it pretty likely. But just a general returning to bad habits will not happen. First of all I would be mortified! Everyone comments on my new body ALL THE TIME and people would notice if I gained 5 lbs. And secondly I want my new healthy body more than I want food so it's just not an issue.

Putting myself to good use

I'm trying to be helpful lately. A lot of people have come to me for advice. Most people really don't want to hear what I have to say, which is kind of severe, but a few do, and I'm trying to help them with practical, plausible ideas. One friend has a 9 week old who is now sleeping through the night. She is a bit overwhelmed with the notion of getting back into shape and thinks that she should start. This is really a tough one. When you have a small baby, a toddler and a school-aged kid, finding time to focus on meal-planning, cooking, shopping, exercising, etc. is just kind of unrealistic. I suppose it's possible, but I'm not sure exactly how. I will find some ideas though. One has to do with thinking through every hour of your day and when you might possible have some time. But before that - the most important thing to do is ask yourself, "am I ready to make a huge commitment to this project?" The answer when you have a 9-week old probably is and probably should be, "No." It's ok to admit that. On the other hand, baby steps can be taken. Examples of baby steps are: cutting back on desserts, exercising 2-3 times a week, trying not to eat egregiously horrible foods like pizza and french fries, etc.

Below are my two contradictory thoughts on baby steps:
  1. Baby steps don't result in significant weight loss, if any at all, and as such can be more frustrating than doing nothing.
  2. Baby steps can be helpful in learning and practicing some of the necessary habits that will be used once a major lifestyle change (diet) is undertaken.
The reasons that baby steps don't work, in my unscientific opinion, is that a body used to hanging out at a certain weight will tend to stay there, unless it is shocked into going to a different place. This shock can occur by a serious increase or decrease in food or exercise (or pregnancy!).  Similarly a small increase or decrease in food or exercise doesn't really do much. 

So eating just a little bit better or walking a little more really doesn't have a big impact on weight. However, those things can get you started without being overwhelmed, and they can get you to start thinking more positively about your ability to make changes in your long-ingrained habits. Baby steps can help you see ways to make better choices at restaurants, find 15 minutes to take a walk instead of snack, find a chance to walk up a few flights of stairs during work, to start planning high-protein snacks before you get famished, to stop craving cheese on top of everything.

It is so exciting to watch this happen in a friend - my same friend who was my coach originally (not the friend with the 9-week old mentioned above). She has started her own blog so you can read for yourself. But in the last 3 weeks I have watched her change from listing all the excuses for why she went over her points and couldn't find time to exercise, to actively seeking practical solutions for finding exercise time in her tight working mom's schedule and planning how she will handle her many upcoming social events. It's a real change in attitude - from "If I can work health and fitness into my social/work/family life I will" to "my social/work/family life has to work with my health and fitness goals." Now of course this is very difficult - but we're working on solutions together - and I love helping her!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

After Shot By Natasha

I feel very vain posting a pic but many of you have asked so here it is- by my budding Photographer Natasha

Here is a before picture. Completely horrifying.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

PMS and hunger

For the past three months I have struggled with keeping to my points during my pms days. This month wasn't nearly as bad, perhaps because I made a conscious effort to keep track of my cycle so I knew what was going on. At any rate, I read a very interesting article on It basically says that the extra hunger during those days reflects and is off-set by an increase in metabolic rate for those few days (even though you feel exhausted) and that eating a bit more makes no difference to weight loss goals. It may seem like you're gaining weight, due to water retention, but that all ends after the period is over anyway.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Size matters

I really started this diet in earnest because my size 12 clothes were tight and I absolutely refused to buy clothes in size 14. I just wanted my size 12s to fit, and I had this deeply buried notion that getting to a size 10 would be a fabulous amazing result, but I didn't think too strongly about it as I didn't want to reach for a goal I couldn't attain.

I am pleased to report that I am now a size 8!!!

I have not been a size 8 since I reached my full adult height. I really can't believe it.  The upside is that I can buy fun styles previously unavailable to me. The downside is that I do not own a single item of clothing that fits me, except for a few t-shirts I bought in the past couple weeks. It's pretty daunting to need new everything - casual clothes, work clothes, workout clothes, pajamas, underwear, bras, bathing suits, evening attire - and for various seasons! The multiple seasons thing has been an issue as the weather in April and May has been all over the place. This level of shopping is time consuming, expensive and kind of frustrating. Luckily a lot of things are on sale now, and I'm not really a clothes horse so I would settle for one or two of each thing (except the underwear of course!)

On the positive side, it is starting to settle in that I've accomplished something large, and that if I can do this I can do other things that I once thought out of reach. A sweet and wholly unexpected reward.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My new personal hero...

I found my new nutrition hero - David Kessler, M.D. !!

Up there with Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food), Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) and of course Alice Waters. But as a doctor/scientist/political administrator (former FDA chief under Bush 1 and Clinton who led the march against tobacco), Dr. Kessler rounds out thework done by the investigative journalists described above with a vastly different perspective.* 

David Kessler's new book seems to explain every single thing that I've gone through in the last 4 months. He's on a book tour and doing the media circuit. I heard the last 5 minutes of him on Diane Rehm and almost had a heart attack as he was describing me so perfectly. He's on Fresh Air today too. He explains the answer to "how did  you do it?" so much better than I ever could. I always say "A switch flipped in my head" and I just didn't feel taunted by cravings all the time any more. (I did need to learn to manage hunger, but that's another matter.)

He describes the science of how we think about food, and how it captivates us so madly. He claims that layers of sugar, fat and salt come together to pull us towards food at all times. The food industry understands this brilliantly and is expert at triggering us thousands of times a day.  
His main thesis is that you need to do two things to combat this super-strong desire for high-sugar/fat/salt foods. 
  1. want something else more
  2. have rules (I imposed a lot of rules on myself with WW which I now have relaxed a bit.)
  3. understand and internalize unhealthy foods as disgusting in the same way that (most of us) see cigarettes.
This is so strange, as I did these exact 3 things but kind of by accident.

At first the thing I wanted more was just to be comfortable in my clothes and to be at a healthy bmi. Now I want more than that - to stay at this much more healthy, active weight, to continue to receive all sorts of accolades, to be able to go shopping and buy clothes in fun styles....

And as for the 'seeing unhealthy food as disgusting' part. That happened completely unconciously and unintentionally as I ate less sugar and fat. And I didn't aim to eat less sugar and fat - I thought I could just eat smaller portions. However, I soon realized that eating high-fat and sugary foods used up all my POINTS and I ended up starving. After giving those foods up for a while I stopped craving them. They gross me out. Or a bite or two is enough.

So the answer to "how did you do it?" is that I started seeing food differently and wanted to be healthy more than I wanted the food.

On a more political note....
Dr. Kessler also explains in a concrete, scientific way how the food industry is so adept at driving us towards food. But he does not just blame the food industry. That industry does not operate as an island.  The societal norms as a whole do not look negatively upon massive quantities of unhealthy foods, and food eaten all day long. If everyone around you think a 12oz steak with onion rings and chocolate cake is an ok dinner than you will too.  We can each try to change our own internal perception of what that huge plate of food looks like - something filling and hearty, or something dangerous and gross (like a cigarette). His larger point is that placing this much burden on the individual is not good for society as a whole, when the health costs of obesity are factored in. And, that if society as a whole starts seeing overeating in a negative light, then our individual stimuli will be slowed...I hope he has a place at the table in health care reform discussions. Obviously it's a big and complicated topic. 

*It should be noted that Dr. Kessler has also had his own struggle with food, which are sobering to hear, when you think that he was head of FDA.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Plug for Lifetime television

I'm not one to watch the Lifetime channel, but I was surfing and found a pretty good cooking show. It's called "Cook Yourself Thin." First of all it features 3 chefs, so they talk to each other instead of the camera and that is instantly less annoying than other shows. Secondly, they make food like I make food, more or less. In fact, I had made the exact sweet potato fries that they made on the same day I discovered the show, down to the chili and garlic powders - weird coincidence.

The web site has a lot of recipes. They do a lot of ingredient swapping, like shredded zucchini in cupcakes, and sweet potatoes in muffins, both tricks I like too. I think they use too much cheese and too much white flour. I also would argue that they make too many sweets, and that eating sweets, even healthier ones, is generally a waste of points, and just begets more sweets cravings. That aside, we all need some sugar sometimes, and they have good choices. 

I may get the book. The chocolate cake looks awesome. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Today I went 'shopping' for the first time in perhaps 20 years. 

Let me clarify. 

There are a lot of kinds of shopping. There is the act of purchasing food or other necessities. There is directed, time efficient shopping (doing errands really) - such as buying gym clothes or new shirts for work. And then there is that other kind. It's often called "window shopping" although I think of window shopping as more passive than the special kind I speak of. The kind of shopping I refer to is where you go look at clothes, especially dresses and jeans, with no intention of buying anything, but for fun and to see, as my grandmother would have said, "what they're wearing." It's not so dissimilar from looking through a fashion magazine, except that it's done in the flesh. It is best accomplished with one good honest friend, with no time constraint, certainly with no children, preferably with no husband (although some husbands can be good partners for short periods of time, mine included). It should also include lunch and outdoor meandering. This special shopping is not undertaken very often, usually not in one's own city and generally it happens by accident - if the stores have good stuff, aren't crowded, a helpful sales rep is found, etc. In its most blissful form, the focus is learning about clothes and styles just for the pure girly fun of it. Before today, I can't even remember shopping in this way in at least 11 years. 

What it does not entail is frantically seeking out any dress that doesn't look awful because you have to go to an unappealing but obligatory event in 4 days and you have put off this horrid task until now and everything in your closet is circa 2002, too tight or both. That kind I've done a lot of.

Today I finally got to partake in the special kind. One of my dearest and serendipitously most fashion knowledgeable friends was in town. It was beautiful - sunny, breezy, excellent meandering weather. My darling husband happily took the kids for several hours - it is Mother's Day after all. And perhaps most importantly, for the first time in at least 11 years, the clothes fit me. This is hard to explain. By 'fit' I don't mean I came out of the dressing room and saw Giselle in the mirror. Of course not! I'm almost middle-aged and have cellulite and 2 pregnancies and 22 months of nursing under my belt! But for the past many years, all I would see when trying on clothes was the 32 or so pounds I just lost. They upstaged everything else - the design of the clothes, the rest of my body. The 32 pounds meant that nothing fit well. Just going up a size didn't really work. Things pulled in the upper arms, hips and butt, weren't flattering when fitted, and the parts left bare looked so mushy and undefined. Bigger sizes were just baggy and shapeless. The whole endeavor was an unpleasant disaster.

In contrast, today when I tried on clothes, I just saw the clothes. This was not even true 5 pounds ago. But today I critiqued the color, cut and style of the clothes in general, and in particular on me, but in a calm unemotional way. This was truly a revelation. We tried on cocktail dresses and jeans. We picked up shoes. We made fun of the weird new 'bra' contraptions made of tape and glue. We talked about style and pattern.

Shopping was fun! I bonded with my friend. We had a great time.

I may even do more of it. One day I might actually even buy something.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


The other day I had some time so I stopped in at a place proclaiming to be a fitness club and offering a test of my metabolic rate, as well as a test of my body composition (fat, muscle, etc.) 
To make a long story short, they turned out to be complete quacks. They are basically an Herbalife distributor. I told them what I ate and how much weight I had lost - all by eating sensible meals, etc. and they told me I should replace two meals a day with their chemical-filled shakes. I was so indignant I almost started screaming at them. I believe that is an absolutely immoral bit of dietary advice to give someone. The only thing those shakes had going for them was a scoop of soy protein. She was telling me I could get all the nutrition I needed with only 200 calories. I was just beside myself.  I eat healthy fiber-rich whole foods - fruits, veggies, grains, proteins, etc. At any rate, they did hook me up to a machine and spit out some interesting facts. First of all, I have about 5 more pounds to lose. I guess that sounds about right based on other research I've done. 10 would be nice, but I'm not going to starve myself. She also said I had a good muscle index, whatever that means, but I liked the sound of it. And according to these quacks I am eating enough protein. I figured that one out on my own because if I don't eat protein I'm starving an hour after my meal. 

According to the results I have:
  • 26.4% body fat (healthy range 21%-25%)
  • 5.18 pounds excess body fat
  • should eat 1198 calories a day to lose weight
  • should eat 1543 calories a day to stay at weight
  • should eat 10-99 grams protein a day
  • should weigh 141-149 pounds (I currently weigh 152)