Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Plans That Go Awry

I had all sorts of optimistic ideas for today.

The timeline was supposed to go something like this:

5:30pm: bike to home gym from work
6:00pm: try out new core conditioning class at gym
8:00pm: home for a tempeh dinner, with BF watching Biggest Loser
10:00pm: first time ever attempt at Tabata (thanks South Beach Steve!)
11:00pm: bed

Wake up tomorrow and do it all over again (with a different tv show).

But guess what? None of that happened as planned.
What derailed me, you ask?

One of these little guys.

As I prepared to enter the gym I saw an orange-marmalade cat shoot out of the nearby condo, helped along by an unfriendly doorman. I guess the cat thought he lived there -- or maybe he did at one time.

He zipped around the corner and hung out on the street, meowing piteously at everyone walking by. I got him some food from the nearby deli and went to feed him. He let me pet him and sat happily at my feet. Clearly he's not a street cat.

Likely someone chucked him out because he got too big. He wasn't neutered either.

Long story short, I stayed with him on the corner, out in the freezing cold, for far too long. Eventually a friend of mine came who does cat rescue. We made a couple of attempts to grab him and get him in a carrier.

He was smart and fast. We got him in once but then couldn't get the door shut fast enough.

It fell to me to snag him while my friend held the carrier.

He took off for good after the second failed snatch. I hope I didn't hurt him. He got in a couple of good whacks at me.

I got home around 9:30, starved, freezing, and nursing several angry red scratches.

The worst of it is he's still out there. And I didn't get in my gym workout today. Damn it!

But there's always tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Magic Elixir

It's been a whirlwind couple of days and I haven't been able to give any updates to my oh so scintillating life (snort). But I have some rather bizarre news to share.

It's entirely possible I've invented a magical combo of foods that will keep us all happy and (feeling) young forever!

It's a completely random mix of foods that I threw together for a Friday lunch because it was the end of the week and I had to make sure I ate up all the leftover veggies before they went bad.

So, into my lunch pail on Friday I took:

1) the leftovers from Thursdays' dinner (the tiny remains of couscous, sauteed tempeh, squash, carrots and cabbage mixed with Amy's low-fat black bean chili).

2) a bunch of mixed greens, arugula, spinach, etc with some delicious leafy things I can't identify

3) purple cabbage

4) freshly grated carrots

5) two sheets of Nori seaweed that needed eating up

I ended up tearing off bits of the seaweed, throwing on some greens and spooning the rest of the stuff on top for a very sloppy sushi roll.

Anyway, it was surprisingly delicious. And even though I had started Friday off in a funk of a mood, and biked an extra four miles that morning (making me feel a little hungrier than usual), after I ate that random assortment of veggies n' stuff, I was flyyyyyyyyinnng all afternoon.

My mood soared, I was full of energy, I was mentally sharp and just ... for lack of better words, feeling really, incredibly good.

I know -- am 100 percent positive -- that the food had a lot to do with it. I biked home around 9pm that night still floating along.

And it's stuck with me now for the last couple of days! I know the food hasn't powered me for that long, but it seems to have put me in such a good place that everything has suddenly become easier than usual.

Maybe that's why last night at dinner with friends, I was able to control my wine intake without too much struggle. I had *some* cheese when we got to their house. I was hungry and wanted something in my stomach for the glass of wine. But I didn't go crazy -- I had a few bites of each type that I wanted to sample, and that was it.

Then on to dinner, when I declined the two-for-one martini offers, didn't order another glass of wine until my entree came, AND...most importantly, stuck to my plan to order the Nicoise Salad.

That decision was aided by the fact that the BF got the fish-n-chip dish that was calling to me. I knew I could -- and did -- get in a good couple of bites off his plate. Maybe it wasn't the "perfect" solution. But it's what got me to order a hearty, healthy, satisfying salad instead of my own plate of deep-fried calories.

We did order three very delicious desserts to share among our party of nine. So I got to taste some of each one, but again....the dictates of manners meant I couldn't just slurp them down my gob.

By the time I left, I was sated, happy and just the right kind of full. No feeling deprived. No stress that I'd had too much of this, too much of that.

It's kinda nice to be able to live the moment and let go, yet still land on the right sight of indulgence.

I guess that's what's known as the sweet spot of weight loss. It's a relaxed and comfortable place to be. I've passed by before, but never really stuck around.

Gosh, wouldn't it be great if I could take up permanent residence?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Workin' for A Livin'

The day job.

It's lucky that I have one, given my career track and today's economic climate.

So why does it feel like such a punishment to go there everyday?

I blame the beautiful crisp fall weather. It makes me want to stay on my bike forever. And ever.

If only life could be endless loops of Central Park and regular excursions to upstate NY. That would be grand.

In anycase, a shout out to South Beach Steve and Lori at Finding Radiance for their support of my weight-lifting goals. It's always nice to get cheers from others -- especially two such impressive, inspiring and athletic bloggers!

Did my first daytime foray into the corporate gym yesterday. It wasn't that bad! The staff are really nice.

My routine, however, is pretty outdated. It's what my ski team coach had me doing in high school back in 1990! I have to remind myself to get cracking on the New Rules for Weight Lifting for Women.

Gotta run, more later!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

100 Day Challenge

South Beach Steve has posted a challenge to help us end the year with a bang.

It's the Hot 100 -- Going Out With a Bang challenge!

I like the name.

The rules are simple: you had to alert Steve you were joining in, publish your goals, and give an update every 10 days. I already did step one. So now it's on to step two.

Here goes:

After much mulling, I have decided that my personal challenge for the next 100 days will be to use my company gym to get in a good weight-lifting session twice a week.

My reasons for this are threefold:

1) I have been wanting to add more regular weight-lifting to my routine for a while but find it hard to carve out the extra time during my morning and evening workouts.

2) My company provides an excellent gym on-site for a very reasonable amount. And while I pay the weekly fees, I very rarely use the gym. What a waste of money!

3) I've been too intimidated to go into the corporate gym much. It's kind of swank and I guess I feel like I don't belong. So I will conquer that fear! I'm paying for it, ergo I can go. And it's a shame to pay for nothing.

So, for the next 100 days, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, instead of sitting at my desk and eating lunch, I will instead go to the gym and get in a weight-lifting session. I will still eat lunch tho - just at a different time.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Near Death Experience and The Biggest Loser

A couple of random items today.

Yesterday while biking to work I very nearly impaled myself on the back of a car because I was so busy staring at my new odometer and trying to figure out why I couldn't get it to reset to zero.


I looked up at just the right moment and was able to lean just far enough to the right to slide by the parked car in front of me (double-parked, I should say).

And luckily nothing was coming behind me as I abruptly moved into another lane.

But I didn't move fast enough to avoid a sharp smack on my left knee as I tried to get out of the car's way. Ouch. That's the bad knee.

I watched the Biggest Loser last night. God, they've gotten really militant, haven't they?

I was shocked by the challenge that had all the contestants trying to work together to lose 150lbs in a week.

They had them on 1,200 calories a day. Women were to hit a "burn" of 6,000 calories a day, and men 8,000.

That, to me, sounds like hell. And quite unsustainable. But that's just me! I lurves me some good food and have a hard time dropping below 1500 cals a day without feeling like I'm going to pass out. Probably mental, I know.

But it reminds me of a t-shirt an uncle of mine used to wear: "Hard work never killed anyone. But I'm not going to risk it."

1200 cals a day probably wouldn't kill me either. But I'm not going to risk it -- at least, not at this weight. Some of those folks -- most of them -- are 400+. It can't be good to drop them down to 1,200 cals a day. There's gonna be a bounce back.

I truly have a love/hate relationship with this show. Sometimes I have to turn it off because it's so cheesy/ridiculous/over-the-top. And then I have to turn it back on to see what they are doing in the gym.

Maybe I'm secretly wishing for my own personal trainer? Hmmmm. Something to chew on.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nothing Like Retail Therapy (Pictures Below!)

I traded in tires today.

Not the spare around my middle (more's the pity) but the punctured front tire on my bike that suddenly deflated this morning as I made my way around Central Park.

I was victimized once again by some random shard of glass.

But there's good news. Once I figured out why my front wheel was so darned heavy and hard to turn, I hoped off and trudged the 10 or so blocks to the nearest bike store. Along the way I passed a Food Emporium, and that's the sole carrier of a certain type of yogurt that just this morning the BF asked me to buy if I should happen to see some.

Snagged his fat-free organic blueberry, and a vanilla for me.

Then on to the bike store, where I proceeded to drop a ridiculous amount of cash for a brand-new snazzy white-n-blue helmet with a sun visor attached, thank you very much Mr. Dermatologist for putting the fear of God in me re: the sun's hazardous rays.

And some new pinhead locks for tires and seat, because the previous set had to be pulled off so we could change tires. And they had to be pulled off because I had lost the key, and failed to register it when I bought it, so no free replacement could be sent to me (I have already registered my brand new set).

That set me back close to $200, so I figured what the hell -- go in for another $24.99 and get the little odometer you've always wanted. Now, it's not as cool as Bitchcakes' odometer, that's for sure. I cannot for the life of me figure out how she can get around in those fab outfits.

But her recent adventures have inspired me to get to 40 miles a day biking (well, maybe on weekends). So I need to start tracking my travels.

There's nothing like spending money you don't have to make yourself feel better about everything. That, and a brisk bike ride around a gorgeous park in glowing fall sunshine. Ahhhh...sweet it is to be alive.

Along the way I stopped by my fave hangout, the Central Park tennis courts. Before the meniscus tear last year, I was loving my tennis lessons with my fab coach Stevie. I am very ready to pick it up again.

The coolest thing about the CP courts is the diversity of ages, levels and competitiveness. It's often the older folks who play with the most spunk, I've observed.

Yesterday I watched a foursome of 60+ guys shuffle after every fair ball, vehemently argue every suspect call and even climb over the net to check line marks. They played with intensity.

They made my day.

Today was even better: I saw an elderly couple who had to be every bit of 90. She was soooo stooped by osteo, and terribly fragile looking. He was practically bent in half. I mean, he could not even fully raise his head.

But by God, they were there to play. And when they hit to each other, watch out, because they sliced it low and mean. They knew how to put spin on the ball. They were making each other work -- even though neither of them could even dream of chasing down a ball. But if it came within their reach, they were going to send it back with real gusto. At one point, as the lady came to the net to slooooowwwly and creakily retrieve a ball, I heard the husband reminding her to bend her knees when hitting a backhand!

Let's all hope we'll be there someday, sucking the joy out of life until the very last breath! I couldn't catch them on my crappy mobile phone camera, but I did take a few pics of my new odometer, my bike and the tennis courts. I think I'm going to have to start carrying around an actual camera.

Anyway, Central Park Tennis Courts and my bike, and my bike shop. Enjoy!

That's my bike in front. Blue Cannondale. It is a sweet ride.

This guy was getting angry at his partner, or maybe he's just a cranky player in general.

A closer look at my blue bomber.

Kind of fuzzy, but if you look you can see the 7.8 miles registered there. I'd actually already done about 6, but zeroed it out before returning to the park because I wanted to see how long the loop is.

Hard to really see this one, but it's the bike shop guys, doing their magic on my bike.

What's Your Weirdest Snack?

Got a much needed dose of laughter this morning by checking out one of my all-time favorite blog posts over at Pasta Queen.

The particular post that got me going this morning dealt with a moment in 2007 when Pasta Queen had a weekend binge. I can relate.

Pasta Queen, aka Jennette Fulda, wrote about the strange feeling of relief you get when you let go of your food restrictions and just eat.

Yes, it does feel nice to drop that sense of control -- because, for me, I'm often simultaneously feeling anxiety/fear about possibly losing control. How's that for a dichotomy? I guess the relief comes from releasing that tension: I want to have control but am afraid I can't keep myself controlled. So I don't.

Ugh -- it's enough to drive a dieter meshuggeneh.

Natch, there's a payback. The apres-binge is not so fun. But as Jennette said in her blog, her one weekend of strange eating didn't make her regain 190lbs. So there you have it. One bad weekend does not a blob make.

There are some very funny comments from people about the strangest things they've eaten -- jam and Cheerios, sugared bread and butter, for example. Maybe the weirdest I saw was the person who ate a bottle of salad dressing. No judgment, but ... ICK.

I used to enjoy bacon and cheese sandwiches, plus bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. Don't knock it -- believe me, that is a gooood combo.

I'm struggling a bit today because I went to the gym yesterday and gamely got up on the scale. Unlike last week and the week before, when I had some not-so-great eating but escaped the claws of scale justice, this time I was held accountable. I got hit with a 5lb weight gain.

5 pounds people! I have to blame the Babka. It *really* screwed me up.

The depressing fact is that I struggled and struggled and struggled all summer and have managed to lose essentially zero pounds. It's been a constant see-saw -- up/down, up/down, always the same 5 lbs. I'm frustrated. But mostly at myself. I've been making some really sloppy choices.

So this morning I really needed that blog posting from Pasta Queen. And this one, from Finding Radiance. It's not over -- it's really never over. You can only make the next best choice.

And did I mention that my knee hurts? Yes, it's got a nagging tender spot on the inner joint. Not sure why -- I didn't twist it or strain it yesterday, although I did a lot of walking, biking and elliptical training. I guess it's just sore. That damn meniscus!

I'm icing all morning.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I'm dragging my sorry self to the gym momentarily.

Seems I've hit a bit of a rough patch (again).

Babka bombs on Friday. And a party Saturday night that included many, many, many, many indulgences.

Naturally, I'm down on myself today. But before I go too far down the rabbit hole into depression and start getting mopey and negative, I'm going to go to the gym. And then take a bike ride.

It's beautiful outside today.

I can enjoy it. It's not the end of the world. Deep breaths and some perspective. That's what I need right now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chocolate Babka

Not lesser babka, but the real thing:

A dear friend of ours who is Jewish brought me in two rolls of some kind of chocolate cake thing yesterday morning. It was made by his 70+ something Jewish mom, rolled out painstakingly and loving schmeared with lotsa chocolate.

It was for me and the BF to help us through our family loss.

Handing me two loaves of chocolate pastry at 9am on a Friday morning and expecting me to hold on to it until 8pm or later is akin to sticking a live hand grenade in my pocket and telling me not to move or it will detonate. Of course I'm going to move! And so...of course I'm going to eat the babka.

Friday is THE most stressful day at work, early deadlines, lots of pressure, etc... I ate one with my morning coffee and early lunch. Just kept pulling off chunks of it.

Saved the second roll (ostensibly for the BF).

It didn't make it home. As soon as my friend left to start Rosh Hashana (with a last admonishment to 'save some' for the BF), I had the packet open again. And within 10 minutes, it was gone.

According to Trader Joe's frozen packets of Babka, there's 1,014 calories in 12 oz. So I consumed at least 2,000 cals. At least. And that's just the Babka. There were (ahem) other things eaten that day as well.

Babka bombs. Bloody lovely.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Peridot asked me about tempeh, so I thought I'd do a little show and tell.

Here's a quick pic of the packaging:

And here's the back of said package:

I'm not sure you can read any of the nutrition facts, so let me do a quick overview of this yummy product. According to Wikipedia:

"Tempeh, or tempe in Javanese, is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. It is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but tempeh is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins compared to tofu, as well as firmer texture and stronger flavor. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine; some consider it to be a meat analogue."

So there you have it. I find tempeh to be a great addition to my dinner and a healthy substitute for meat. It's got a natural nutty flavor that is an acquired taste for most. I douse it in a lot of soy sauce for flavor, after cooking it in about 1 inch of water for 20 minutes. I throw in lots of veggies, some spices, garlic, ginger, etc and let it all cook down, then in the last few minutes I soak it with the soy, and then serve it up.

I'm sure you have it in the UK, Peridot!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dining In

Tempeh, broc, cauliflower, some bell peppers, corn and funky mushrooms for dinner tonight, kind of steamed/sauteed with big chunks of garlic. I doused it in some soy sauce for flavor, then gave myself a heaping helping.

I spooned the mixture into some nori seaweed sheets and ate my own, sloppy, homemade sushi-type rolls. It was goooood.

Dining Out

I have lots of my usual philosophical ramblings in my head today, but am going to try to keep this short and sweet (I do go on in some of my posts, don't I?).

Had a fantastic dinner out with friends last night. Lots of great French/West African food, a few glasses of South African wine (delish!) and a successful avoidance of the bread basket, too much couscous and dessert.

All in all, a fairly balanced night out -- I ate all sorts of good things, but was able to steer myself away from totally unneeded good things. Except for maybe the wine -- I guess to some people that's an indulgence, not a necessity.

I walked to work yesterday as my exercise - it's an easy 3 miles. I would have biked but obviously then would have had to struggle home with it at 11:30 pm, slightly intoxicated, and I don't know what I would have done with the 6'2 boyfriend. Balanced him on the handlebars, I suppose.

To my chagrin, I forgot to take pics of all the gorgeous eats to share with you all. I think you'd have enjoyed it, and I wanted to comment on the portion size of what we were served -- it was the perfect amount! Just enough, not too much. I love it when that happens.

I promise that next time I'll remember that I'm eating for more than just myself!

Anyway, my big thought for yesterday was that I'm liking my weight loss efforts more when I don't stress about it all the time. This revelation came to me over the past few weeks, when I've been too busy to get compulsive -- or compulsively worry -- over every little thing I've put in my mouth.

Without a conscious decision from me, I went on an autopilot of sorts, eating on plan, not thinking much about food in between, but also not thinking about how much weight I *should* lose by next week, or calculating how much I want to lose by the end of the year. I made room for some exercise in my life (not as much as I would have liked) but didn't kill myself if it didn't happen.

Now, it's easy to take this attitude too far. So I'm on guard against getting really laissez-faire here. BUT...I still lost weight (a decent amount), and I really enjoyed my life a lot more!

I sometimes find myself grinding my teeth when I think about how much weight I want to lose and by what time frame. You just can't hurry these things -- they happen as they happen.

So in my continuing quest to make it to Onederland, I'm going to lighten up on the mental machinations and reeeeelllaaaxxxx. That means relax my mind, not my behaviors.

Maintenance is a long way away for me still, but I like this kinder, gentler pace, and I swear to the goddesses that I seem to lose more weight on the weeks that I'm least worried about how much I'm going to lose. Bizarre pattern that, but it's popped up several times over the past year --- enough that I should have heeded it before now!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scaling Down. Or Not

Forced myself to go to the gym yesterday. It was not easy.

I love working out. Really I do. But it's amazing how quickly that deadly feeling of lethargy and laziness can take over. A couple of days off, a few emotional traumas, and I'm ready to wrap myself up in a blanket on the couch and go on permanent vacation.

Instead, I marched my little feet the 1.5 blocks to the gym. Actually I rode my bike.

And once there, I did some physical torture on this lovely device:

Then I lifted some weights (ow inner thighs), then took a bike ride around Central Park. My left knee began to protest at some point, the one with the torn meniscus. I stopped to fuel up in the gorgeous north section, where the park's at its most wild.

Then it was off to Whole Foods to get the week's meals. I was glad I had eaten something before going inside, as it's temptation laden. I scurried past the prepared desserts and foods and lost myself in the produce section. Still managed to exit with a piece of carrot cake and a pre-packaged chicken curry dinner. Ate them at home.

But I put back the spaghetti and meatball packet I really wanted -- I made myself look at the serving size and calorie count. The whole thing was well over 1,000 cals, and you know I'd have eaten it all. I got the slice of carrot cake and much lower cal Indian dinner instead.

Before I did all that, however, I screwed my courage up and got on the scale at the gym. As much as I tell myself not to focus too much on the scale, etc etc...I'd be lying if I said I don't suffer some angst every time the little needle goes up and not down.

After my wine and cheese binge this weekend, I feared an uptick. But no! I was spared this time. I really held steady -- perhaps even a .5 loss, although I'm not going to insist on that.

I did not gain, and for that I am sooooooo grateful. I am glad that I got on the scale. What I was thinking of at that moment was something that Kim Benson wrote in her book Finally Thin. She said that often in her life she would shy away from a Weight Watchers meeting just when she needed it most -- right after a rough patch in her eating. After a few loose days, it can be helpful to get a sense of where you are.

But you have to silence those screaming demons that are always ready to cry "Failure! Failure!" I admit it -- had I seen a weight gain, I'd have been fighting those voices in my head. I got lucky this time, but my real goal here is to keep pushing to see the scale as just another weight loss/management tool. It doesn't measure my success or failure in anyway -- it just gives me useful information about my journey. And that's all.

I'm also a fan of what Cindy Sadler refers to on her blog as Scale Amnesty. Sometimes I take a break from it because I know I'm not going to like what I see. Usually that's when I've had a vacation or something and I just want to give myself a week to get back in the groove before I step on the scale again.

I guess the real key is how I'm feeling emotionally. If I've had a few days away from food plan but am still feeling strong and in control, I'm ok skipping the scale until I've worked my way back into the strike zone, so to speak.

But when I'm teetering on the brink of a real slip up, a real break in my new behaviors, that's when I need to get on the scale asap. If nothing else, it's a reminder of how much I've LOST. And that often is enough to snap me out of my funk.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to the Grind

Funny thing here .... no matter how well I think I'm handling life's stressful little moments, there always does come a time in a pressure cooker situation when I blow my lid, so to speak.

If you read the previous post, you'll see how much I patted myself on the back for dealing with the stress of a family death, a distraught B/F, and lots of the usual family dysfunction.

I did deal with it (in terms of not getting 'off food plan') pretty well. But...you know how it goes. Everything builds up to a specific moment. For us, the B/F and I, it came down to the memorial service. Let's just get through it, we said.

And so we did. Then comes the moment of let down. You are through it. Now what?

Well, ideally, we pick up our lives and move on with regular routines. Except it's never that easy. I am very prone in these moments to thinking that I need a de-stresser -- almost a way to mark the ending of the stressful phase and a renewal of the normal phase.

What's a de-stresser? In other words, a binge.

Yep. I did it again.

Friday night, on the way back from the memorial service (where I generously partook of bad chicken, mac-n-cheese and green beans, and a piece of pound cake), I had to get a small onion and gruyere quiche, and some wine (a very nice Syrah, by the way).

I was legitimately hungry, but instead of grabbing a healthier choice, I went for an eggy, creamy, cheesey meal. The foods that comfort me, of course.

It was 190 cals a serving, two servings in a packet (a small packet, to be fair to myself). I did put down the asparagus and mascarapone quiche after seeing that it was 300 cals a serving. But no sugarcoating it: the onion quiche was an emotional choice. I was feeding my psychological needs as much as my physical ones.

Couple those calories with the wine calories, and Houston, we have a problem. Plus no work out.

Saturday started out better: on plan breakkie. But I started to stray around lunch. Instead of a carefully thought out sandwich, I got a higher calorie one from Pret. Then it was a pack of unsalted trail mix around 6pm. OK -- I was really hungry, and that was the best choice from the office vending machine. And it didn't take a lot of willpower or agonizing to bypass the chips/cookies/ring dings to select the trail mix. So...that really is a positive for me. I did it almost without thinking.

But on the way home, trudging along in a drizzle, cold and still dealing with residual family fallout from the Friday memorial, I stopped at a gourmet store and bought crackers and port wine cheese. It's a favorite from childhood -- a tart, tangy cheese we only ever got at Christmas and that I used to inhale fervently, even at 7 years old.

And a bottle of wine. A red Graves, just to see if it was as good as the white Graves I had two weeks ago.

I ate all the cheese and crackers. Then I had dinner. With wine.

Oh boy. Today I do not feel like going to the gym. I'm tired (naturally!). But .... there's no giving up the fight. I might stumble, have bad days, give in to temptation, stuff my face or drink too much. I might do these things once in a while or in great streaks. Doesn't really matter, I think.

What matters is what I do on MOST days. And on MOST days, this is not what or how I eat.

And even in writing it out, I feel better. Gosh, this is almost nothing compared to what I used to put away when I was upset! So, I'm going to tell myself I'm great, lace myself into my sneakers and go outside to face the day. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Deep Thoughts

My family has been visited by humanity's ever-present but mostly unseen companion: death.

We've lost an older, sick relative who had a good life and a not so great end, but at the very least we can say that he didn't suffer long (always a blessing).

In the midst of consoling family, running around to arrange for a funeral, getting my own hair fixed up and finding a suitable black skirt/shirt/shoes, I've had several deep thoughts about foods, diets, and fitting into bathing suits.

1) It sucks to get old. And it doubly sucks to get old if you are heavy. The strain, the toll on the body... it's terrifying. I saw first hand for myself recently during a visit to an elderly relative. Not someone who is obese, but definitely overweight. Those extra pounds sink you when you are older, especially those who are frail. I agree with various medical studies that say 10 extra pounds in old age helps stave off infections and illnesses (plenty of fuel for the body -- I saw how it worked for my own nana). But if you go over 10lbs, watch out. As hard as it is to be young and really heavy, it's a nightmare when you are old.

I am so grateful that I have been able to shed some serious weight. I have a long way to go. But even if I never lose another pound, just keeping off these 70lbs will make a tremendous difference to the rest of my life.

2) Stress is hard to handle -- but my good habits are sticking around, thank god. Several times over the past few days, as my routine has gone to pieces and I've found myself ricocheting around the city, struggling and running and trying to give comfort to others, I have walked past a bakery/pizzeria/bodega/bar and thought "I could just grab some...." (fill in blank). And almost before that impulse can even register (and then become a craving) another reaction reaches up and swats it away. A voice in my head says, "Yeah, you could do that. But it's not going to make you feel any better."

And I heed that voice, because I know from bitter experience that I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, but it won't really make me feel any better, or change whatever reality I'm currently in. And so I walk on.

I am not perfect. More often it's boredom/depression that trip me up and bring about an "episode." But that's a step forward from a year ago, when anything -- and I mean A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G -- could be twisted into an excuse to eat. But I am grateful now that I have some tools to help me "answer back" to those sabotaging impulses and thoughts. I may still struggle with eating out of boredom, but I have gotten a handle on the stress trigger, I think.

3) How do we beat ourselves up? Let me count the ways.

This post is partly inspired by a fellow blogger, the always entertaining A Weigh to Go, currently dealing with pre-vacation clothing angst.

It's so challenging to feel good about yourself when you don't like how you look -- or how parts of you look. And it's so easy to let that negative image take over. I let it ruin one of my trips to Brazil.

One day, on a trip out to a beautiful island with glorious beaches off the Brazilian coast, I was so embarrassed by how I looked that I went up a hill and hid from everyone, trying to figure out how I could get down to the water and take a swim in the incredibly gorgeous water without anyone seeing me. The boyfriend was traveling with me, and the whole scene was sublime. Except for how I felt about myself.

Even though there were only about 8 people on the beach -- other tourists and guides -- and I would never see them again in my life, I couldn't bring myself to drop my clothes and be in my bathing suit in front of them. After pretending to explore the scrubby little island for a while, I crept down a back path to the beach, and sat on a rock. My boyfriend swam up and eventually cajoled me into the water. Only partially hidden by some rocks could I finally slip into the blue sea and splash with him. But even that experience was marred by fears over how I would get out without people seeing me. Although I laughed and splashed in the water, I was drowning in my own shame.

What a waste of time. I wish I had possessed the confidence to say, screw it! But I didn't. Because I really hated how I looked. I don't know whether those people would even have noticed me -- what I really couldn't stand was how I felt about myself back then.

Life is too short to hate yourself. I'm glad -- so, so, so glad -- I finally paid attention to the part of me that was begging for action. I wanted to live my life, explore my opportunities and stop hiding in the bushes. And that required me to own up to my problems with food. It means I have to find time to work out.

But it's worth it. It's worth it to feel alive -- even if I am not physically perfect.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Change in Me

Mornin' folks.

I still feel like I'm singing to an empty room here, but just in case I do have some readers who have been lurking and not commenting, you'll have noticed the name change on my blog.

Yup, I'm no longer the weighty wino.

Of course, I still am a weighty person who likes her wine (maybe too much). But, if you read the previous post, you'll see that I've come to some conclusions about how my vino consumption is hurting my weight loss.

And I really can't have that.

Plus, I've started to realize that a binge is a binge is a binge. If I ignore the urge to pick up an apple pie on the way home, but shift the craving toward a large glass of Riesling...am I really in control of my eating and drinking?

Most of the time it's easier for me to ignore food cravings than it is to ignore wine cravings. And I tend to reach for wine during the same kind of stressful, emotional moments that used to send me scrabbling for food. So....maybe it's time to step back and change my focus a bit.

I can still enjoy the odd glass or wine and lose weight.

But I don't need to make wine such a large part of my identity -- especially my weight loss identity. I set this space up to give me a safe outlet (hiding in plain sight, as it were) to talk about my journey to onderland -- not to blab on about wine and how much I like it.

So, this blog is hereby rededicated to my quest to get to onederland!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Accountability Time

It's no secret to anyone who's paying attention to the large font at the top of the page that I love (lovelovelovelove) wine. White, red, whatever...it's allllll good.

However, something a little distressing has come to my attention: I have lost a lot more weight than usual.

And I think it's because I stopped drinking for about two weeks.

Let me 'splain this. I had family here for the first week of August. We dined out, walked a lot, and drank a lot. I gained 2lbs -- even tho' I tried to watch what I ate and did make it to the gym a few days during that time. But I didn't go enough, apparently.

No sooner had the famn damily (damn family) left, then I got hit with a whopper of a cold. I am not one of those people who can't eat when they are sick. Au contraire, mon frere. I usually overeat in a misguided attempt to make my body feel better faster. In some twisted way, I guess I'm seeking comfort and rapid healing -- but I usually just end up feeling bloated and full, along with achy, sneezy and coughy. Doesn't stop me from overeating tho --- it's an old, bad habit. But generally, I overeat on good stuff -- whatever is in the house, or leftovers from my healthy meals. I was too sick to go out and get the crap food I really wanted to pig out on.

So I did some damage, but not too much. I also had to keep working through the cold, because I was sent on an assignment to Martha's Vineyard. It sounds fun, but believe me when I say it WAS NOT. The good news again, though, was that I was too sick to find the hotel bar for a late night glass (or carafe) of wine.

This cycle of not working out and not drinking wine has continued for almost three full weeks. Somewhere in there I lost the 2lbs I gained with the family visit.

After the first week I started feeling better (but not 100 percent) and so backed off on the overeating. I returned to my usual habits of about 1500 to 1700 calories a day. But without regular workouts, that normally doesn't shift much weight for me.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got on the scale at the gym (which tends to be about two pounds higher than my 'official' weigh-in scale) yesterday and discovered that I'd lost another 2.5 lbs. Whoa!!!

I was thrilled, but also a trifle disconcerted. You see, I had NOT been eating perfectly these past few weeks. There were a few binges. Small ones, but definitely binges. Just yesterday I ate one serving of vegan carrot cake and a walnut brownie. Ummm..and a small asparagus quiche. Er...and a salmon sushi roll. And I've already blogged about my turkey-meatball-pesto-tortellini incident last week.

I mulled this over for quite a while and was about to chalk it up to the unknown mysteries of bodies and weight loss. And then it hit me. It was the wine.

Actually, it was the lack of wine in my diet. Despite crazy eating and no workouts, I had managed to lose weight in the last three weeks. And I wasn't drinking anything. And that, my friends, is what I suspect to be the key bit of info here.

It's a bit of an eye opener, because I've tried to tell myself I can still enjoy wine and lose weight. But there have been weeks when I've worked out a lot, eaten really well, and only seen a nominal loss -- many weeks like that. And although I've accounted for the calories in my wine intake, I'm starting to think it may have an impact beyond mere calories. It may trigger me to overeat a bit more (forget the 'may' -- it definitely does) and the sugar in alcohol may screw me up in unforeseen ways.

Aarrrgh. That's a tough bit of reality to choke down. It's harder to swallow than my recession-special Gato Negro $3.99 wine.

True to my usual form, I'm not going to jump to any rash conclusions. But this deserves more study and possibly more experimentation. It could have been a fluke, or it could be a signal that my wine intake is not as controlled as I think -- or is just not as compatible with weight loss as I am determined to believe.

Now, let me tell you about the damage I did last night, before I woke up with a hangover and zero desire to go to the gym.

I had a friend over who I'll call the Finicky Frenchman. Very funny guy, and like me, he does enjoy his wine. We were having fish, so I went with white. And of course he hates anything that has floral and/or fruity notes. It has to be dry as the Sahara to please him.

I ended up going with a 2008 bottle of Sancerre that was lovely and light, and full of sharp mineral notes.

But the real winner of the evening was the second bottle (er..yeah, we had two bottles over dinner, but there were three of us, if that helps make me look like less of a lush). I'm still tasting the distinct tangy bite of the Graves Grand Vin de Bordeaux. Oh man oh man oh man. It was YUUUUUUMMMMY!

Maybe if I stopped eating carrot cake and brownies every two weeks (the usual cycle of my splurges) I can still indulge in the vino and come out on the right side of the scale? Or am I totally delusional?

I dunno the answer to that yet, but I do know this: if someone wants to lose 30 more lbs before Jan 1 (and that someone would be me) the wine gulping probably has got to go.

(This wine wasn't part of my Saturday night bacchanalia, but me likey -- and me drinkey all too frequently.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another Day, Another Visit to Queens

Well folks, I set myself up for this one. Back out in Queens for an assignment (digging through court records), which means another lunch in some delicious ethnic dive.

I hope I don't go overboard.

But just in case, I'm making a plan. I will eat slowly, and I will not serve myself big portions. I can take a little, eat it very slowly, making it last 20 minutes, and if I'm still hungry after that, I can deal with it then.

I will eat veggies/salad first. I will not load up on heavy food. I'll try to get as balanced a meal as I can. And I won't let money dictate how much I eat (ie, i paid for this so...., or it's a buffet, I practically have to go back for seconds).

Let's see how it works. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When I'm 64

Sigh. Another health study, another bit of confusing news. Check out this latest from the NYTimes, now saying a few drinks in old age may be good for you.

One of the things I find most confusing about eating (and drinking) is weighing all the conflicting info from all these so-called studies.

I don't mean to dismiss the importance of this type of medical research, but could somebody please tell all these health writers to provide a little more context to the depth and breadth of the studies -- or at least approach them with a bit of skepticism? I'm tired of reporters just taking a study and regurgitating its findings in simple terms --- what about getting an outside expert's opinion, for crying out loud?

Having a glass of wine can put you on the fast-track for breast cancer, according to some studies, and lessen your risk of heart attacks and Alzheimers, according to others -- how are we readers to synthesize all this info?

I'm ranting, but shoddy or phoned-in health reporting is a pet peeve. Remember that article a week ago that highlighted a study showing that working out isn't all that effective for losing weight?

Umm...yes. That's because many people work out for 20 minutes and then feel they have free license to eat a pepperoni pizza. Only after opening with the heart-stopping news that gym visits are useless if you're trying to lose weight did the article go on to mention the real point of the study: that some people sabotage their own efforts by overeating when they work out.

Was that a secret? Seriously...did anyone not know that if you overeat regularly you need to workout to an insane degree if you want to lose weight?

But that's not going to sell magazines and draw eyeballs to web pages. So the article boiled down the study's findings to say, 'Hey, you're wasting your time with all that working out. It's not gonna help you.'

Totally wrong conclusion, and a defeating bit of misinformation out there in the ether for those of us battling the bulge.

Am I the only one who gets irritated by this sort of thing?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lunchtime in Queens

A temptation encountered -- and handled.

Lunchtime today, a reason to go to Queens, and a colleague willing to have some Indian food.

For those of you who don't know New York, Queens is the borough with the most delicious, authentic, to-die-for Indian food (and latin food. and asian food. and so on).

My resistance was low, since I compensated for yesterday's six cookies and turkey meatball/pesto-tortellino-parmesan-cheese-fest by not eating dinner ( I truly wasn't hungry) and having only a small breakfast.

By mid-morning I was starving, of course. But due to work issues and an insane, rage-a-holic editor, I had to delay meeting my colleague until about 3pm. That meant I had to eat something, or I'd pass out. That's how I powered my way through a bag of Gensoy chips at 1pm. Great. And 1/2 an apple, and 2/3 of a plum (I didn't eat the bruised, brownish parts).

Finally got to lunch. $10 for an all-you-can eat buffet, just moments before it closed. Colleague and I scarfed food. But I was able to keep myself under a semblance of control. Those wise words from my nutritionist actually started floating around in my head, clamoring to be heard of the noise of my own overactive salivary glands. And what she said was this: Taaaaannndoooori. Not Kooooorrrmmmma.

Tandori it was. Behold the evidence above.

The Backstory

It's Sept. 1, which means I'm just about three weeks shy of one year of actual, concentrated weight loss effort. Let me bring you up to speed:

After a rocky start full of fits and binges, I kind of found a groove in my weight loss (it's always easiest in the beginning, isn't it?) and was able to shed about 40 lbs in a few months. It was great. I didn't do anything fancy -- just watched my portions, counted calories and walked/biked/used the elliptical machine usually every day (one of the three, not all three). Then things sort of hit a snag. Whether through a plateau -- although I doubt it -- or a shift in my behaviors, the weight stopped flowing off and kind of started....I dunno, plopping off. By that, I mean that my progress got more erratic and would come in chunks. Four pounds one week, none the next, and with no changes in behaviors from me. It does become frustrating when you eat a certain way and work out regularly one week and lose a nice bit of weight. And then the exact same behavior the following week yields...exactly nothing. Drives me Up. The. Wall.

Of course I had insanely ambitious goals for my continued loss. And yet, I didn't think they were all that ambitious because they were based on what other people have been able to achieve. (I know, I know, compare thyself not to others.) I'm about 30 lbs BEHIND where I wanted to be at this time in my journey. And I'm frustrated, but also aware that I'm part of the problem. I'm not as focused as I once was, and that is holding me back.

It seems that everytime I get in a groove, something external (a trip, a crisis, a work assignment) arrives to disrupt my schedule. That's life, I know, and truthfully it's just that sort of thing I'm trying to learn how to deal with in a way that DOESN'T cause weight gain (ie excessive eating to calm myself down). And if you look at it that way, it's to my credit that I have NOT gained back 30 lbs, despite a summer of incredible suckittyness.

Even so...I'm disappointed in myself that yesterday I went to buy the week's groceries and, alongside all my beautiful veggies and fruit, I bought a packet of six rather large choc chip cookies, and decided to get two turkey meatballs with pasta in pesto sauce for lunch, smothered in tons of parmesan. Ohhhhhh boy. To make matters worse, I couldn't even wait until I got home to eat some of the cookies!

Anyone driving along Manhattan's UWS side yesterday might have been startled to see a rather large woman (me) biking along with a huge backpack stuffed full of items, munching a cookie while pedaling. Isn't it funny that I can question my sporting abilities when it's time to challenge myself, but my balance and strength are just fine for biking with 50 lbs of groceries on my back and reaching into a little paper bag hung off my handlebars to grab cookies that I can eat while moving?