Monthly Archives: July 2011

Well, I’m going away for a while.

Unexpectedly, I’ll be out of town for about three weeks, starting Wednesday.  I probably won’t post again until my August 13 weigh in.

I mentioned in last week’s weigh in that my grandmother recently died.  My parents and I will be taking her ashes to the south of France, so that she can be interred with the rest of her family in the family cemetery. (My grandmother is French.  So is my dad.  So am I.)

My parents, who are major vacationers, have decided to spend some time on the Riviera after this solemn event takes place.  I’ve decided to stay, too, even though I can’t really afford it.  My grandmother adored the Mediterranean Sea and spent all of her childhood summers running wild on deserted beaches and in old pine forests.  I can’t think of a better way to grieve for her and heal from her death than to be in the place she loved for at least a little while.  We’re going to rent a tiny apartment in a small village.  It should be a peaceful, contemplative trip.

While I’m happy that I’ve managed to find a way to go on this trip, to honor my grandmother, and while I’m excited to go on a “real” vacation for once, I’m nervous about — well, you know, losing weight.  And I feel guilty about feeling worried.  Here I am, about to embark on a trek back to the Old Country to bury my beloved grandmother, and I’m worried about my freaking diet.

I think that my post from yesterday and all its squabbling about “only” losing 0.6 pounds in this week’s weigh in has something to do with my anxiety about this trip.  Maybe I thought that if I could lose a lot of weight this week, it would “set me up” so to speak for the vacation.  I don’t really know why.  I guess it’s knowing that in all likelihood I won’t be losing weight while on this trip, and may even gain.  I feel as if I’m losing a month, here.

Here are my worries:

1. I’ll be in France for three weeks.  France.  The land of cheese, butter, and cream sauces.  The best cuisine in the world.  The richest and most decadent desserts anywhere.  Case in point: the Ile Flottante, a dessert comprised of meringue floating like a little island on a sea of thin vanilla custard dappled with an archipelago of caramel.  And cheese courses.  And baguettes.  And cafe au lait in the morning with buttery croissants.  And everything.

2. I will not have Internet access and won’t be able to use my Weight Watchers app on my iPhone.  No computer tracking, in other words.

3. I’m not entirely sure how much time I’ll have to exercise.  (Not to mention that I haven’t really begun to exercise regularly yet.  Man, I suck.)

4. No bathroom scales.  If I’m gaining, I won’t really have a way to figure that out.  I use my bathroom scale once every week, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday, to get a sense of how the week is going before the Saturday weigh in.  And now, I won’t have that.

5. In fact, I won’t be able to weigh in at all.  For essentially a month.

6. I have no idea what “vacation mode” will be like this time around.  Right now I’m feeling really dedicated to sticking to the plan, but who knows what will happen in two weeks when I’m confronted with a five course meal and two bottles of red wine?

Here’s what I’m telling myself to combat the worries:

1. France may be the land of decadent cuisine, but it’s also a country that values fresh food and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  It won’t be difficult to find a lot of good food that I can eat.  Plus, I eat out enough here in Los Angeles to have a decent sense of how to rate Points Plus in meals I don’t prepare.  Plus, we’re not staying in a hotel; we’re staying in an apartment with a kitchen, and we’ll be cooking our breakfasts and dinners.

2. Even though I won’t be able to track on my iPhone, I can still track on paper.  The old-fashioned way.

3. At the very, very least, I’ll be able to walk around the village we’re staying in.  It’s a little hillside sea village, and the walking is fun, picturesque, and challenging as you climb steadily and remorselessly up the big hills.  The apartment is also a mere ten minute walk from a nice, calm beach. Swimming will be a major priority for me, and I aim to be in the water at least once a day.  Even if I can’t predict what we’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis, I can still count on a quick dip in the morning and a good walk to and from the beach.

4. So what if I can’t weigh myself in?

5. And so what if I can’t weigh in at a Weight Watchers?  (Note: I could find a French Weight Watchers, but the chances that they have one in this little village are slim to none.)  The point of all of this is to live healthily, not be a slave to the scale.

6. I do feel committed to keeping up with Weight Watchers while I’m over there.  I plan on tracking, sticking to my points, making full use of my flex points, getting as much exercise as I can get, drinking plenty of water, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables and lean protein.  And if that commitment falls by the wayside, then — well, I’m not moving to France or anything.  Eventually I have to come home and face the music.  And if I gain, I gain.

So with these worries and assurances, I proceed forth on this trip.  My big hope is that I don’t gain — that I at least maintain 229.4 pounds.  That’s what I hope.  Please, please wish me luck.  I’ll post again on August 13, when I return, and the music will be loud!  And filled with weigh in data!

Hurray!

Weigh In – Week 21

This week’s result: 229.4
Loss/Gain: -0.6
Overall Loss/Gain: -31.2

Well.  Hmm.

I’ll admit it.  Seeing this week’s result of 229.4, only 0.6 pounds down from last week, was a bit disappointing.

I’d had a standard “good” week: tracked everything, stayed within points, only used up about 15 flex points, got some exercise.  Healthy habits abounded.  Lots of water, fruits, and vegetables.  I’d been expecting my standard “good” week loss of about a pound and a half, and I was even hoping for a bit more.

And I didn’t get it.  I did lose about half a pound, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I spent most of the meeting ignoring the leader and instead trying to figure out why my weekly losses have been smaller recently.  Finally I came to the conclusion that because it’s summer and I’m not teaching, I’ve been taking it pretty easy — and in a given school day, I move around way more than I do when I’m just at home.

And of course, it’s also possible that I’m simply losing weight more slowly now that the initial 10% is gone.

Still, I didn’t feel good about it.  I was sort of grumpy.  And pissy.  And I went to Trader Joe’s afterward and spent more time than necessary fondling the peaches and oranges, wondering if I should start “counting” fruit in my tracker, since other members have mentioned that they see better weekly results when they count the Points in fruit.

Then I got home and stared at the ceiling for a bit.

And then?  Then I told myself:

“Shut.  The Fuck.  Up.”

This feeling, this very feeling of frustration and self-doubt and a little desperation to ensure that the weight loss happens on schedule, is exactly the feeling I was afraid of having when I started on Weight Watchers five months ago.

There is absolutely no reason to feel upset or frustrated with losing 6/10ths of a pound.  Are you kidding me?  That’s awesome.  It’s a freakin’ loss!

And to top that, I was healthy and responsibly and thoughtful this week.  I didn’t bury my emotions in food or get lazy about preparing myself decent meals.  Instead, I ate well and got exercise and dealt with my shit.  I did exactly what was healthy and good for me, exactly what I’ll have to do for myself for the rest of my life, no matter what.

So that’s my new motto.  Whenever I get panicky or nitpicky or pissy that I’m not losing weight fast enough, I’m going to tell myself to shut the fuck up, to focus on what’s working, and to be happy that I’m living consciously and healthfully.

Ba-DOW!

Jonah Hill has lost a ridiculous amount of weight.

You all know Jonah Hill from Superbad and Funny People and Get Him to the Greek and lots of other movies, too, right?

Here he is, as we used to know him:

And this is him now:

He looks radically different to me.  Virtually unrecognizable.

From what I’ve read, Hill lost the weight through diet and exercise.  The comments on all the gossip blogs discredit that, saying he must have had surgery.

I don’t really have an opinion, myself.  I’m not Jonah Hill, and I don’t know him, so what right do I have to speculate about the way he chose to lose weight?  And frankly, it’s almost insulting that people don’t believe that fat people can lose weight without surgery.  It goes against the belief that fat people can lose weight through diet and exercise.

I don’t even know what to call this post, I’m that bewildered.

I often envy, and also don’t understand, people who claim to have a “size.”  I hear this from time to time, usually from smug people who breezily say that they’re a size 6 or 10 or 14 and that they don’t own a scale because as long as they stay a size 6 or 10 or 14, then they know they’re in shape.  This seems totally bizarre to me, because stores and brands are so radically different and their sizes can vary to such extremes.  How can you be a size 10 at every store?

My confusion is compounded at this stage of my weight loss.  If I placed any value on the size I wear now, then I would be in a constant state of anxiety since I apparently am a size 16 now and also apparently am still a size 18.  At the exact same store, by the way.

I went shopping today.  I’m low on summery clothes, and I needed to pick up a few things for a trip I’m about to take.  To a hot place.  With water.

I’ve lost about 30 pounds, and I know my clothes are fitting differently.  I think that, at my top weight, I was somewhere between a size 18 and a size 20 at my go-to store, Old Navy.  I was probably really more of a 20 and was deluding myself about the 18, squeezing into uncomfortable jeans or pants here and there.

Now, things are once again in flux.  I’ve shrunk back into a pair of size 18 skinny jeans from the Gap, which I bought about two years ago.  They fit better than they ever have, including when I first bought them.  I’d say they fit just about right, in fact.  OK, I think to myself, I’m a size 18 at the Gap, I can handle that.  However, all my size 18 pants from Old Navy — which is, by the way, the sister company of the Gap — are starting to fall off when I wear them, so I reasonably deduced that I must be a size 16 at Old Navy now.

So I go.  I shop.  I’m delighted to discover that I fit better into a size XL sundress rather than an XXL, and I’m equally delighted to discover that the floaty, sleeveless blouses that I’ve avoided for so long because they made my arms look like sausages sticking out of a tomato now actually seem to flatter me.  Things are going well.  I venture over to the shorts, determined to purchase a comfortable, light pair so that I don’t die of overheating in the hot place I’m about to visit.

The biggest size the store carried was 16.  This is supposedly my “new” size, if deductive reasoning can be applied to the pile of too-big size 18 clothes that now inhabit a particular corner of my bedroom.  Still, I chose the few size 16 pairs feeling a bit apprehensive about what I might discover.

And true enough — a pair of size 16 shorts is just a bit too small on me right now, at least at Old Navy.  I can pull them on, button them, and zip the fly, but they fit just a bit too snug across the thigh.  And I can’t go off to this hot place wearing too snug shorts because the people there are generally slender and good-looking, and their shorts would fit just right.

It was really disappointing.

Stupid thunder thighs.

I dealt with this disappointment by almost buying a pair of lightweight Capris, and then purchasing a new bathing suit for the first time in about six years.  It was a size 16, by the way.

Two recipes

Here are two recipes of two meals that I eat practically all the time.  They are both delicious and filled with dairy (for all you dairy lovers out there).  If you don’t love dairy, then you could probably do replacements.  I guess.  Maybe I don’t like you if you don’t like dairy.

Breakfast Smoothie

Oh, before I go forward, I have to say one thing: I have an irrational prejudice against protein powder.  I know many people put protein powder in their smoothies.  I don’t.  I don’t know exactly what it is except that protein powder fucks up the taste of the smoothie and seems to be a step towards processed food.  So.  Take that with a grain of salt.  By all means, if protein powder works for you, then include it.  (You weirdo.)

For this smoothie, you’ll need:

1/2 cup of milk (I use 2%)
1/2 cup of plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 banana, diced
1/2 cup mixed berries, frozen
2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
1/2 tablespoon of honey

Smoothies are easy.  In goes the milk and yogurt, then the honey, then the fruit, then the flaxseed meal.  Blend it all together until it’s nice and smooth.  Then, you know, you drink it.

Benefits of this breakfast:

1. A good solid serving of dairy, and 2 servings of fruit.  Basically you’re getting a nice balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
2. Only 7 Weight Watchers Points Plus!
3. Easy.  So easy.  You don’t even have to think about it in the morning.  All the stuff just goes into a blender, and then you press a button.  And that’s it.
4. Fiber-ific.  The reason I include the flaxseed meal is because it adds a subtle, slightly nutty taste to the smoothie (which I enjoy) as well as a solid 4 grams of fiber.  Pooping is wonderful.
5. It’s not too sweet.  The honey makes things tasty, but doesn’t overpower the fruit or the yogurt.

There.  That’s my breakfast about 4 times a week.  And it’s so good.

Pasta Caprese

If you know me, then you know that I love a particular combination of four foods more than just about any other dish on planet universe: tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, and olive oil, otherwise known as caprese.  If it were up to me, I’d have this basic combo at the heart of every dish I eat.

If you know me, then you also know that I have a major problem with pasta.  In that I love it.  Like, unconditionally.  It is a major trigger food for me.  I used to eat this one dish composed of about half a pound of linguine, lots of butter, lots of grated Jarlsberg cheese, and ham.  It sounds terrible.  It is.  At least, for your body it is.  To me, the taste and the pleasure and the comfort it gave me were indescribable.

I’m getting better at dealing with emotions in ways that don’t include stuffing myself, but I still enjoy pasta and want to work it into my diet somehow.  So I came up with this recipe.

For this one-serving dish, you’ll need:

1 serving of farfalle pasta*
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup sugar plum tomatoes, chopped (or any small tomato will do)
2 ounces of fresh mozzarella, chopped into small pieces**
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
Lots of chopped fresh basil (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

* Here’s what I do to avoid overeating pasta: whenever I buy a new package, I go straight home and divide it all up into small sandwich bags.  This way, I just have to reach into my cupboard and pull out a baggie and I don’t even think about tossing in an extra handful.

** I used Trader Joe’s Ciliegine fresh mozzarella for this.  2 ounces is only 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus.  I’ve done the math several times on that one.  Obviously, you do what you want.  Maybe you want only one ounce (2 points).  Or maybe you want to skip the cheese all together.  Go for it.

Fill a pot with water.  Bring it to a boil.  Cook the pasta in it.

While all that is happening, put the olive oil into a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the oil gets a bit hot, add the garlic.  Swirl it around the pan for a bit, just until the garlic gets a little bendy.  Then add the zucchini and most of the basil.  Salt and pepper as you wish.  Saute the zucchini until it’s almost al dente — just at the point where you’d think, hmm, maybe another minute or two.

At that exact point, add the capers and the tomatoes.  This is not a moment to go back to the couch.  Stay by the saucepan and stir.  You want the zucchini to finish cooking just as the tomatoes are warming up but not breaking down.

Once this has been achieved, take the saucepan off the heat.

Timing is critical.  You want the pasta to be done cooking and drained just at about the same time the zucchini are almost done.

Transfer your drained, perfectly al dente pasta to a bowl.  Now you’re going to add your garlic-caper-zucchini-tomato-basil-olive-oil mixture to the pasta.  You’re also going to add the remaining fresh basil (this is only if you enjoy fresh, uncooked basil, as I do).  You don’t need to add butter or oil to the pasta; you don’t even need to add salt or pepper.  All the taste is in the vegetable concoction, and if you toss the pasta well, then all that deliciousness will coat the noodles.

Finally, once everything is tossed well, you add the chopped pieces of mozzarella.  Chopped, not grated — you want to be able to take a little nugget of mozzarella against a little nugget of tomato and basil along with a chunk of zucchini and some pasta.  You want the texture of each separate food to be maintained, yet all the flavors melding together.

Eat it right away.  Like, right now.

The whole meal is 10 Points Plus: 5 points for the farfalle noodles, 3 points for the ciliegine, and 2 points for the 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.  And believe me, it’s a whole meal — fills me right up.

There are, of course, endless ways to gussy up this meal the way you want to.  This recipe is sort of a base, with lots of room for experimentation and fun.  Most spring or summer vegetables would go well with the zucchini, or in its place, and I’ve added sun-dried tomatoes and olives to this dish, which make it OUT OF THIS WORLD as well as a bit higher in Points Plus.

There.  Those are two meals I eat practically all the time and that are incredibly easy to make.  Despite the tricky timing of the pasta dish, it’s actually really simple to make.

Enjoy!

Weigh In – Week 20

This week’s result: 230.0
Loss/Gain: -1.2
Overall Loss/Gain: -30.6

Man.  This has been a shitty week.  My grandmother died on Wednesday.

I don’t really know what to say about that here.  I’ve been grieving for four days straight.  I’m sure I’ll be grieving for a long while to come.

So, yes.  Down another 1.2 pounds.  30.6 pounds total.  I’m glad.  Despite the shock of my grandmother’s death, I’ve managed to stay “on track” here.  Still counting Points.  Still trying to get some exercise — not really too successful there, but I did get out today.  I feel that I’m sort of on autopilot with this plan.  I don’t stress out about planning meals, going out, eating, tracking, healthy habits.  Everything seems to tick along more or less without my having to “work” at it.  I wouldn’t say that I’m cured of compulsive eating or anything like that, but I’m definitely glad that I’m here, working through this emotionally difficult time, and still managing a healthy way of being.  I guess.

Over and out for now.

A yoga class and a new perspective, maybe.

I went to my first yoga class in about two years this morning.  It was at the YMCA, which has this swim class that I’m really interested in taking.  More on that later.

So.  I went to this class.  It was Power Yoga, for one thing, but I was assured that I could “go at my own pace” and take breaks when I needed to.  And this happened to be the early Sunday morning class, on a holiday weekend, so the people in there were the yoga devotees.  Lots of hardbodies is what I’m saying.

Apparently, “going at my own pace” means lying prone on the floor trying not to die.

Folks?  I am weak.

I am so weak.  It’s sad.  It’s glaringly, awfully sad.

There was this one point when I was on my hands and knees, and the instructor told us to extend our right legs straight behind us and then extend our left arms straight in front of us.  This is supposed to be excellent for balance and good for working the center of your body.  And all the lovely yogis obeyed the command of our instructor while I remained still, trembling, on my hands and knees, willing myself not to fall over and die.

I haven’t felt so incredibly weak, so completely unable, in a long, long time.  At one point, I sat up a little fast and the dizziness was so intense that I almost threw up.

And it’s not like this was that difficult a class.  Sure, it was Power Yoga, but I really did go at my own pace, relatively speaking.  My pace began slow and then ground down to a lot of sitting still.  That was my pace.  Basically what was demonstrated to me was that I can’t really, at least right now, this specific weekend, keep up with some of the basic poses in yoga.  And this breaks my heart, because I used to practice yoga regularly, and balancing on one hand and one knee never used to be difficult.

Anyway.  I know why I haven’t felt so weak in so long.  It’s because I haven’t put myself in a position to be weak or strong in ages.  I’ve been blogging here for about a month, right?  Six weeks?  And in all that time, I’ve sworn up and down that I would begin exercising “this week.”  For six weeks.  And despite a few rare occurrences, I’ve dropped the ball each time.  So maybe I can hike up Fryman Canyon once, on a good afternoon, but that doesn’t mean I can get through a yoga class.  One iteration of physical strength does not equate another iteration of physical strength.

I need to get fit, that’s all.

I may be losing weight, but that doesn’t mean I’m just losing fat.  It’s totally possible that I’m losing muscle too.  Possible and even probable.

Anyway, surprisingly, I didn’t feel like I wanted to commit seppuku once the class was over.  I can be terribly competitive, and in classes like this I’ve been known to push myself a bit too far just to be one of the cool kids who stand on their heads or something.  But I was so bad today, and so clearly weak, and at such a lower level than the rest of my fellow practitioners, that I didn’t feel terrible about myself.  I just felt — you know, like I wanted to get better.  So instead of slinking out of the door and rushing off to In-n-Out to gorge myself on cheeseburgers and strawberry milkshakes, I decided to go home, have the freakin’ smoothie I’d been planning all morning (it was really good: nonfat yogurt, milk, mixed berries, banana, flaxseed meal and a little honey), and calmly and rationally watch several episodes of “South Park.”  And then blog.

Here are the forms of exercise I have definitively enjoyed — not just put up with, but enjoyed — throughout my life.

1. Swimming: I grew up with a pool in my backyard and with the Pacific ocean only a short drive away, and I was like a little otter in the water when I was small.

2. Running: For a brief period of my life, I was a decent enough runner to actually feel good when running.  Not just feel good about myself or feel good after the run, but feel good actually running.  Endorphins, I think they’re called.

3. Hiking: It’s fucking awesome.  You get to be out in nature.

4. Dancing: Any kind of dance, really, but specifically jazz dance and modern and hip-hop and salsa and even ballet.

5. Tennis: When I was about eleven years old, I had become such a good tennis player that my little town no longer had youth classes that I could take part in and I had to go to the adults circuit, which was really weird.  In any case, I think I have a basic talent in this sport.

6. Any sport that requires some kind of bat: It’s strange, but I do find natural success — lots of beginners luck — in sports like golf, badminton, baseball, and softball.  Something about a bat or a club or a racquet really suits me.  And I like playing on  team.  Or with people.  It’s fun.

7. Bicycling: This is a cheat, because I really only liked to bicycle downhill or on flat, even surfaces. I guess I enjoyed doing tricks more than I enjoyed the endeavor of pedaling.  Same with swimming: I liked flips and dives way more than speed or laps.

8. Yoga: It just feels so good.  When you’re not dying from it, that is.

9. Walking: At a swift pace, it’s very nice.

And here are the forms of exercise that I feel OK about reintroducing at this time:

1. Walking: It’s probably the best way to get me to do something.  Walking requires a pair of decent shoes and street-appropriate attire.  And that’s it.  I don’t have to go anywhere special, or worry about parking, or use a membership card or anything.  I just have to go outside and move.

2. Swimming: Unlike walking, this does require special attire and a specific location, and it also requires me to get over my absolute horror of being in a bathing suit in public, but I am really, really drawn to swimming this summer.  It’s hot, for one thing, and the pool cools me down.  Plus, it’s such an excellent total body workout.  And it’ll help me breathe and focus inwardly.  The YMCA nearby has aquatics classes for adults that I can take, which I find exciting.  (The reason why I’d want to take a class is so that I get a sense of a variety of strokes.  Like I said earlier, I always preferred diving and flips and tricks to actual laps, so when it comes to pulling myself gracefully through the water, I have no idea what I’m doing.)

3. Yoga: Just not power yoga.  A nice, simple, easy Hatha yoga class to get me strong on the basics again.  I’ve always found yoga to be an excellent stress reducer and a good overall approach to exercise and inner as well as outer health, and I like the idea of being able to one day balance on one hand and one knee again.  However, money is tight this summer, so I think it’ll probably end up being a contest between the swim lessons or the yoga classes.  We’ll see.

4. Hiking: And more than just Fryman Canyon.  I would love to get out on a longer trail at least a couple times this summer.

Ideally, and even logically, I think I can handle a nice walk every day, two or three days in the pool every week, and maybe a hike once every week or every other week.  At least for the summer.  And in September, I can review and just see where I am.

At least I should walk.  At the very, very least.

So.  I’m not sure how new this perspective is, considering how many weeks I’ve promised to get going, but I hope that I’ll kick it in this week.  At the very least, I have the desire — nay, the need — to never be so weak in Power Yoga again.