Friday, December 31, 2010

Haaappy New Year (and a Hot 100 Update)

I'm back in NYC, finally!

Thanks to a kindly ticket clerk at Delta, we snagged the last three seats on a flight into NYC on Wed night. That put us in town in time for the b/f's memorial service for his mom, planned for Thursday...only to be told by the church that it was going to have to be moved to Friday (today).

We rolled with the punches, and flew back Wednesday, and used Thursday -- a beautifully sunny day -- to go skiing with my nephew, who got to come back with us for the New Year. It was his first time ever, and he did great. And I love showing him that his ol' Auntie can still schuss with the best of them, even if I'm heavier than the average skier.

Today was the memorial service, and it was emotional and sad, but full of beautiful memories. We were so blessed to make it back in time. When I first learned our flight was canceled (on Dec. 27) we were told we couldn't get a flight back until 12/31!

On my Hot 100 goals: let's just say...I am still working hard on all of them. My skinny jeans might not fit after the week I had at home. No binging, but I am sure I gained some pounds. But it's nothing that can't be reversed, and it will be reversed.

Mr. Neuroma is still here, but I'm slowly gaining the upper hand. The temporary foot insert helps, and I will get official ones soon. I hope maybe to resume walking to work -- a sure fire way to take off the pounds.

I need to get back to weight-loss portions and I instituted that already. Today at the memorial service we were served greasy chicken, even greasier mac-n-cheese, and barely edible green beans, plus cranberry cake for dessert. I took a few bites of each, then stopped eating. Not worth it.

Tonight the plan is to try to use my press credentials to slip into Times Square for the ball drop with my nephew in tow. They may refuse us, I'm not sure. I've been there many times covering the ball drop for a local radio station, and it's pretty cool. I would love to give him this once-in-a-lifetime experience (we don't have to wait in line and can move freely around the Square once we are in the press zone), so fingers crossed.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's a Blizzard!

Luckily, not the kind sold at Dairy Queen that contain a gazillion jillion calories.

Unluckily, the kind that closes airports like JFK -- which is now shut down while a record snowstorm blankets NYC. That means I'm stuck and unable to fly back as planned.

Things were crazy hectic over the holidays, but in a beautiful way. Despite my b/f's recent loss, we had some fun, a lot of quality time with family and everyone got really great gifts this year. That's kind of a record for us, since we usually somehow cross signals and someone ends up not getting what they wanted.

If I could just fly back as scheduled, it would have been the perfect trip.

I will have to institute a serious austerity plan when I return to take off the few pounds I am sure I have gained down here. I did sample (and in some cases more than sample) all the goodies that were abundantly at hand over the past five days.

A few times I ate past the point of comfort and got unhappy with myself. I also ran smack into the full-length mirror in the bathroom while exiting the shower. What I saw in the mirror sent me headfirst into a sort of anxiety attack/major depression ... but I fought it off.

What hit me hardest was the sense of futility. I saw a lot of loose skin and other unavoidable signs of long-term obesity, and I saw how much farther I have to go on my journey. I felt so powerless.

But I fought it. Hard. I can't change myself overnight. But I can change. I have changed. I just need to keep on changing.

As a reminder to myself about how far I've come, I took pains to note down how different my reactions were to food this year during the holidays. Emotions weren't a factor -- probably for the first Christmas ever in my life!

I ate when I was hungry, mostly. Other times I ate or snacked for flavor -- because I wanted a taste of something. I was able to keep that pretty much under control (ie, a bite or two, then moving on).

Sadness, nostalgia, guilt, anger, happiness (you know, the general holiday family gathering gamut) weren't factors. It just felt so different for me. And so much better.

So I have changed. I just can't seem to get the outside to catch up to the inside, dammit!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Big Wheels Keep on Turning...

Ahh..If only I had Tina Turner's legs. I'd be one Proud Mary indeed! But my big wheels DO keep on turnin'..and proud Ish keeps on burnin'. Oh yes. We're rollin' .. rollin'... rollin on the (Hudson) river.

Things are gradually lightening up here at Chez Ish, evidenced by the fact that the b/f , while still mourning his recent loss, joined in for a rousing rendition of "Proud Mary" as I tried to remember the lyrics to the song for this post.

I felt like I was rolling along today, as I ate my normal breakfast, rushed out of the house to go to the doctor (not the foot doc, just a check up) then to get a facial. OK, totally self-indulgent, but I needed an hour of pampering.

Then I had an hour to kill until my hair appointment (and that is not as self-indulgent as it sounds b/c my last hair cut was in August), so I walked the 30+ blocks to the hair dresser.

That's only about 1.5 miles, but given Mr. Neuroma, that's the longest I've walked for WEEKS!

It was pretty much pain free, thanks to the temporary inserts my doctor gave me. I can walk almost like normal now, but it's only a partial fix until I get real orthotics. Then I'll be back on my stride.

But the Proud Mary moment....yeah, that came when I walked to a pizza joint known to me through work, had a single slice of veggie pizza, and walked on even though I was still hungry. I knew that if I just gave myself enough time, I'd feel full.

It took a good 20 minutes, but eventually...it happened. Then there was a shopping trip in which NO VEGAN CAKES were purchased, and many a sabotaging thought was shot down before it could blossom into real destruction.

Christmas cometh.... with a nephew demanding that I make all my grandmother's cookie recipes, the ones she brought from England (seriously, she used to make like 10 different types of cookies) and the b/f demanding another apple pie.

BUT! I've wrested control of the majority of the cooking for Xmas dinner from my lard-loving brother, and the b/f and I will be in charge of making just about all of our feast. My arteries rejoice at the news.

As I get ready to fly to my parents for Xmas, I am trying hard to maintain my focus on moderation. It is the key to my success. If I can be moderate in all things, I can be happy.

Thanks again to everyone who gave us good wishes. Yes, Roz, you are right. I've already gotten a glimpse at how touchy Mr. Neuroma is -- he does not like downward dog, for example! I'll have to devise a neuroma-friendly series of stretches for the New Year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 12

I think this is update #12 anyway -- kind of lost track. Yet I know there are only two Friday's left to the challenge. Scary!

This week....
1) I ate at weight loss portions -- most of the time. This afternoon I overate on multigrain snack chips. I immediately felt so full and uncomfortable. Salad for dinner.

Overall, despite a difficult few days, there's been no comfort eating (besides this afternoon), no extra sweets, no binging, even though my routine was thoroughly disrupted.

2) Lose 25 lbs: holding steady, doubt I've lost any thing this week.

3) New goal: thanks to Mr. Neuroma, I can't continue with my 5k jogs. However, the foot is healing, thank goodness. Steve suggested I pick a new goal, and that's a very good idea. This isn't for the rest of this challenge, but for the New Year: I'd like to start my day with some kind of yoga, stretching or calisthenics to get the heart pumping. Can be as simple as some push ups, a few downward dogs or whatever I feel like. But I hope to incorporate a few moments of physical exercise and mindful concentration into my day every morning.

Thanks for all the kind wishes, everyone. I stood by my lovely partner Wednesday as he stared down into his mother's eyes and stroked her face and her hand and said goodbye. I hugged him as hard as I could after and I went with him to pick up all her things, and I wish there was something more I could do but at times like this really the only thing you can do is be there. And I'm grateful that at least I've been able to take off from work and be there for him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Goodbye

Woken up by a phone call from local hospital in town where the b/f's mother lives -- she was taken in this morning non-responsive, and sadly, passed away about 9:00 am.

Natural causes, it appears. Was fine at 7am, fell back asleep and when someone checked her at 8:15am, she had no pulse. Can think of worse ways to go.

Crazy, sad day, more sad days to come, I suspect. Mostly sad for the b/f. His dad died in Sept. 2009. This is where it's really hard to be an only child, I see. He has to shoulder a lot on his own.

We're so tired, a long day with arrangements. Is it awful of me to note that despite all this, the special pads the foot doctor put on my tootsies this Monday seem to be really helping my neuroma? Silly thing for me to be crowing about, in the circumstances, but the mind often finds comfort in the mundane.

Hope to be back in time to update for Friday. Be well, all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Resemble That Remark.....

So I'm out yesterday in horrifically crowded midtown Manhattan, running to pick up our lunch from the deli near work (I had a grilled chicken salad with slice of pita), when I notice a family of four coming at me on the street.

Mom, walking stiff-legged and rapidly several paces ahead of clearly irritated husband who is hauling two young kids along with him by the hand, turns to hiss something at him that I can't hear over the traffic.

Dad, whose face is quite red either from exertion (he's really got his hands full with the two young kids) or rage, or because like me he turns colors in the cold weather, completely loses it.

"For God's sake," he bellows at her, "if you want a damn pretzel then just go ahead and have one! What is your problem, you maniac?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 11

Tired, long day at work, pardon my brevity tonight (although maybe it's a welcome change from my usual verbosity!).

Goals:

1) Weight loss portions at every meal: YES, by the gods, I am clinging to my "normal" sized portions. Forced myself to PUT. DOWN. THE. FORK. several times this week and just slow down on the eating. Really helps the brain catch up to the tummy.

2) Former goal: run a 5k. That's not working due to injury. Steve suggested I change to something else (er..he is exceptionally smart or am I realllllly dumb?), which is a great idea. What will it be? No clue, but will let you know as soon as I figure it out.

3) Lose 25lbs: Hmmmmmm..... eating-wise, I have many NSVs. To whit, on assignment Thursday, BITTER, BITTER cold, resist buying a huge pack of cashews in bodega when hunger strikes at noon. Seriously, one bag was 600 cals, and it wasn't even that big. I love nuts, but whoa.... got the single serving of 180 cals to tide me over.

Lunch was four hours later with skinny photographer. He took me to his favorite pizza joint. I got a whole wheat veggie slice. It was probably hugely caloric, since it had two types of cheese (feta and mozzarella) and avocado on it. And it was delicious.

I made do with one piece. And the follow up victory came later, when I was going to eat the frozen burrito I had planned for lunch. It was about 5pm and I was hungry'ish again, looking to nosh and I was talking myself into eating the burrito.

Then I said, hold on...you had breakfast, you had cashews, you had pizza. Even though you are hungry, you don't need to eat a 370 calorie burrito. Save it for tomorrow.

And I did!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trading Onion Rings for French Fries

We went out to dinner tonight with friends. Nice evening, nothing super special, just a regular ol' evening between some busy thirtysomethings who don't often get to see each other.

It was a restaurant we know well -- a modernized version of a French bistro. The b/f and I have our routine down pat here.

He orders the filet mignon that comes with frites (delicious and crispy). I get the seared tuna salad with artichoke hearts and other good veggies. And a side of onion rings.

When the food comes, I give him the onion rings. Those are his.

He takes my bread plate and puts a little bit less than half the frites on it. Those are mine.

Sometimes I'll filch an onion ring too, if I really want it.

This way I get *some* of the fried sides, but am automatically portion-controlled.

If I want frites and an onion ring, then I have no bread, no appetizer and no dessert. That's the deal.

Two years ago....well, this wouldn't even have occurred to me. One year ago, I would have done it, but gritting my teeth and consciously fighting to make the "right" choices for myself.

I never would have believed this at the beginning of my journey, but practicing good habits does get easier. Portion control can be automatic.

It's true that tonight wasn't a supremely low calorie dinner, but it's a dinner that kept me from overeating, feeling deprived, or somehow "punished" by the genetic Gods who don't want me to be able to enjoy yummy food.

Maybe I blog a bit too much about these kinds of moments -- I am kind of quick to pat myself on the back! But if you are anything like me, you'll know what a joy it is to be confronted by food and feel at peace.

When it happens, it's so magical I'm like a kid at Disney Land.

Now, if I could just hang on to these habits on Monday afternoons, when I seem destined to raid the Whole Food vegan cake section. Something about being home and relaxed on that day makes a binge hard to avoid.

Got to the gym yesterday, the feet held up great. BUT..today, had to do more walking than I wanted. The feet did NOT hold up. Both are twingy, with nerves popping all over the place.

But the good news is the pain and irritation was less than it was two weeks ago. Tomorrow I will stay off them as much as possible.

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog! Nice to see your digital faces!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Adapt. Or Die.

I'm feeling dramatic tonight, as you no doubt can tell.

I'm taking an offensive strategy toward the aggravated nerve in my left foot because (I hate to say this) I've started having the same symptoms in my RIGHT foot as well. And I refuse to let this stupid neuroma knock me off both my trotters.

No moving beyond the minimal for my two days off. I will not walk on this foot (and now feet) unless absolutely necessary for 48 hours.

Funny to say this, but can you imagine how frustrating it is to NOT be able to move when all you want to do is walk, run and work out as much as possible to make your goals before Christmas? I'm going meshuggeneh over here.

But part of the problem with an inflamed nerve in the foot is that you are always irritating it, my doc said, every time you take a step. So I'm not taking any extra steps, just for these two days and I will hope and pray it makes a difference.

That doesn't mean I can avoid the gym. No...a different strategy is called for. I went to the gym and did a combo of bike and rowing. Finally figured out how to get a good bike workout: crank up the resistance level and do the alpine challenge.

It keeps pressure off the tootsies and (if you believe the machine count at the gym) I burned nearly 500 cals. Walk there is 1.5 blocks, so just 3 blocks there and back.

Feeling weird things in the feet -- lots of tingling and burning spots and throbbing nerves. Can only hope that's a sign of healing, since I don't have the same pinched feeling I was getting with every step.

This injury is annoying and debilitating. But I am grateful it is nothing more serious. I don't wish to underplay it -- if it develops into a chronic condition I may need surgery, and I really hope that does not happen. It's not life-threatening at all, but could be (already is to a large degree) a serious complication to my lifestyle.

Still...it could be worse. Much worse. So I'll count my blessings, put my feet up in an attempt to reduce any swelling to the nerve, and think good, positive thoughts.

Somehow don't think it's possible that my athletic career can go down in defeat this way (hahah -- get it?), but if so...I'll have to find other ways to keep myself active.

Adapt or die. Right?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 10

Well, well, well. We meet again, December. Temptation and good cheer coat this month like honey on a glazed ham.

Taking heart from Steve's Hot 100 post, I am determined that December will not lure me into sticky-fingered complacency. I will not slide into that mental place that says, 'Oh, it's ok, it's the holiday season.'

It's not ok. It's not. January looms ahead -- and I do not want to greet the New Year weighing more than I did last year. Even if it is *only* a few pounds, it is something I strongly DO.NOT.WANT.TO.SEE.

Let me say again how grateful I am for the Hot 100 challenge. It got me going again before I'd really clicked in to the passage of time and how close we'd gotten to the end of the year. It's such a fantastic concept and I can't thank Steve enough for all the work he puts into it. He makes it fun too, which I really appreciate.

My Goals This Week:

1) Weight loss portions at every meal: It was a struggle to return to my more controlled eating habits after Thanksgiving, but I've been doing pretty well this week. One thing that helped: I made sure to switch back to my "small" plate this week for dinner (after a weekend of using the larger plate that we got out for Thanksgiving). I am pleased that I enforced that rule on myself again after a few days of using the big holiday plates. It really hurts my sense of portion to have a larger canvas, so to speak. Being a Jackson Pollock type eater means I'll fill every inch. Too bad I'm not an Impressionist eater -- all light and shadow and essence of eating!

In anycase, I'm sticking to my portion rules, and my no eating standing up rule and my no eating muffins from the coffee cart rule, and so on.

2) Run a 5k: oh toe, why do you hate me so? I won't bemoan this situation all over again here. Walked to work once this week, and the toe let me know that it was way too soon. Made it to the gym, however, and did the dreaded stationary bike. Hateful, but I brought my kindle and read away the hour. Would vastly prefer a long walk or a short run, but is not meant to be.

I am adjusting and accepting that this isn't going to change overnight. I must be resilient, and deal with it.

3) Lose 25 lbs: I feel that I have had a bad setback with this annoying bloody nerve injury and a week of loose eating during Thanksgiving. Still.... one must soldier on. This is how it goes, right?

My stupid skinny jeans are still not as loose as I want them to be. Now I'm starting to wonder if maybe they were never as loose as I thought they were!

Could I have dreamt it? Or maybe I just wore them so long without washing them that they felt exceptionally loose? Anything seems possible now because the damn things simply will NOT fit the way I *think* they once did!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Advice Never Ends...

I should be working today and not fiddling on the Internets but this NYTimes article was too good not to share (and it's short).

One of my favorite pieces of diet advice came from a friend who periodically ate only lemons and sometimes would go home at night and inhale an entire bag (a big one) of unshelled peanuts. She ate the shells. That's a lot of fiber.

She would lecture me endlessly about losing weight, but saw nothing disordered in her own eating habits.

What's the funniest/weirdest bit of eating advice you ever got?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Channeling Sting

Hum along with me now. The Police, circa...what? 1992? Every step you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you?

Switch the words "watching you" with "zinging you" and this song could be sung by the STUPID NERVE in my foot -- to me, every day, as I try to walk to work.

Yes, the dratted thing is still here. It is the nerve that can't shut up.

At the doc's office yesterday I decided against a third cortisone shot. Jury's out on how effective they are anyway, and I think I got all the improvement possible from that technique. Doc said to begin walking on it again..and essentially, if the pain's not too bad, just live with it.

But definitely no running. I tried to run 20 feet for a bus Sunday and every time my foot came down it felt like someone had stuck a hot wire under the nail of my fourth toe. So yeah...gonna stay away from that for a bit longer.

I took a chance and walked to work today and I wish I could say it didn't hurt, but it did. However, not as badly as it did three weeks ago. When I got to the office I detoured to Duane Reade and bought $5.99 gel pads to put under my feet.

It actually made a difference! Not enough that I thought it wise to try and walk home again (another 3 miles) but a small difference. I'll wear them from now on.

Eating: Today was pretty good. Maybe too much dinner, but otherwise right on plan. Fighting a sore throat, but am determined I will not get sick.

Yesterday, believe it or not, I had planned for a binge. Yes, you read that right -- planned for it.

I ate a tomato and a small chunk of feta for breakfast. The general idea was that I would buy a pumpkin pie (5 inches) at Whole Foods after my doc visit. I actually went and looked up the calorie count (240 a slice) and had calculated that if I ate nothing else that day except pie, I wouldn't get too far over my calorie count.

Yeah. Am I a genius or what?

The plan simply didn't materialize when I got to WF. The holiday buzz is wearing off, thank goodness. I just couldn't rationalize it when it came time to pick up the pie and put it in my cart.

Go, resistance muscle! At least I'm building strength somewhere!

Going to ice the foot nerve and take a cold pill. Sleep awaits.

P.S. Am still employed, and so far the editor we accidentally pocket-dialed hasn't said a word. Figure he deleted it without listening or he listened and decided to cut us some slack. Either way, I'm just keeping my head down and avoiding eye contact for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Still Here

Have lost the Internet again at our house for reasons unknown.

That's made me an absentee blogger at a time when I'd really benefit from being connected to the community, but I'm hanging in there.

Toe is still not cooperating, but the pinching is less severe than two weeks ago. That's a good sign, right? I do wish it would just go away completely.

Monday passed without any cakes, vegan or otherwise, thank goodness. I was strongly considering getting one, I will confess. But luckily, nothing appealed in the store and common sense prevailed. I was searching high and low for a 5-inch pecan pie to take home, but none were to be found.

Tons of 5-inch apple pies, 5-inch blueberry pies and others. But I wanted pecan. There were a ton of 9-inch pecan pies. But a sane voice reminded me again and again that a 9-inch pecan pie was NOT something I needed to bring home.

In the end, it was nothing. And I survived the day just fine.

Thanksgiving is upon us. We are having friends over and while we are skipping gravy, stuffing and many other things to try and keep it as healthy as possible, I read this today and my heart sank.

Looks very close to what we'll be serving, minus candied yams, gravy and stuffing!

Thanks to everyone who came to my blog and suggested ways to work out without bothering my toe, or just to say "chin up." I'm trying to push through the frustration and stay focused.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 8

Baaaad week.

Regular readers will know I had a couple of rough days. Thank you all for your comments and support.

I did not run a 5k this week, courtesy of my injured toe/nerve.
I did not keep to weight loss portions at every meal this week.
I did not have any NSVs to indicate I'm closer to my 25lb loss.

In short, a real pain in the a** week.

I bought new sneakers tonight and am hoping this helps right my nerve/toe.

As much as things went wrong this week, there were also things that went right. I did not give in to every craving, I did not go crazy and stuff myself to the gills. I overate a few times, and veered off plan a few times.

Truth be told, I've had worse moments. And I've had better. Much, much better.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Confession Time

Something is wrong this week and I'm having a difficult time putting it right.

I'm frustrated.

Not being able to walk to work is seriously messing with my head. I'm eating too much. I'm bored. Cranky. Just a touch emotional at all times.

Deep down, I know I'll be ok. I'm in a funk for a variety of reasons and I'm trying hard to deal with it as best I can. But this morning I had a thought: even though I know that I WILL emerge from this this bad stretch, I don't want to come out the other side any heavier than I am now. I'm upset and emotional and drained. But I do not want to gain any weight because of it. I should say any *more* weight because I'm pretty sure I've put back on a few of the pounds that recently fell off.

When I started running my 5Ks a month or so ago (thanks to the Hot 100 Challenge giving me a butt kick), it felt like a new world opened up for me. At last, I thought, I am ready to start weight loss again after more than a year of holding steady.

Why was I holding steady? I don't rightly know. But the fact that I held at my usual adult weight is a clue -- I wasn't really ready to drop the extra 50 or so pounds I've been carrying around since my teen years. It would be a real change. When I dropped from morbidly obese to obese, that was ok. The next step feels different.

All my life I've felt powerless to control my weight. I'm scared that I can't change enough to keep my weight off.

The podiatrist this week said it's possible I don't have a neuroma but something else instead, because the pain and tenderness is popping up on a toe metatarsal, not on the nerve. He gave me another shot and more instructions to stop walking/running and even doing the elliptical.

I'm going crazy without being able to walk a few miles every day. I want to climb the walls.

I hate riding the bike at the gym -- it hurts my back, I don't feel like I'm getting a workout and it makes me miserable. Nonetheless, I'm going to suck it up and get on the damn thing because another week like this will put me over the edge. And Thanksgiving is coming, and that's going to be a big eating day (mostly vegetarian -- check out this list of awesome recipes from NYTIMES).

This weekend was in control up until Sunday and Monday. Then it all went to hell, especially Monday. I went to Whole Foods and ate, in no particular order, a piece of chocolate vegan cake, a small apple tart, a small lemon tart and a small blueberry tart. When I say small, I mean more than a single bite, but quite a mini-pie).

I felt sick as a dog later, didn't eat dinner, and just wanted the whole day to be over.

Yesterday started out ok, but I got very hungry in the afternoon and got home and ate croutons I didn't need and several pieces of laughing cow cheese I didn't need and just was not in a good head space at all.

Since I can't really go do a good pounding workout, I feel fat and bloated. I really need to run a few miles to clear my head, and I can't.

I just hope this passes soon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Run to the Light....

I broke doctor's orders last night and walked from 47th Street to Washington Square Park -- that's about a mile and change, maybe 1.5 total. It was a leisurely stroll, but my foot/toe are jumpy today. Very annoying.

But worth it, because it was a balmy night, and I was with an old friend in town for the weekend who had spent two days doing the GREAT SAUNTER.

It's a 32-mile walk around all of Manhattan. If -- when -- my toe improves, I'm going to do it too.

I miss walking. It makes me sad to be relatively immobilized during this beautiful time of year -- not yet wintery cold but cool enough to walk for hours without getting sweaty.

Dusky walks are my favorite, because the city slowly lights up and you discover new things you've never seen before, to whit the light installation I stumbled on in Madison Square Park.

video
The shadows are people passing along Fifth Avenue, about 200 feet behind me. I don't know how the artists rigged it so spectators can stand in the park, between the lights and the people on Fifth Avenue, and not block the shadows of the street traffic.

But they did it -- and it's pretty cool! I tried to turn the camera to get the street behind, but that didn't work so well. There's some chatter from people around me too, but I couldn't ask everyone to shut up while I filmed.

Beautiful day today, so it's gym, then walk in park (gently b/c of toe) and then I've managed to arm-twist the BF into coming to see a French film with me, Inspector Bellamy. The only possible dark spot on this day is that I'm risking going into an NYC movie theater -- could exit with bedbugs! Am seriously contemplating bringing some of the plastic casings our dry cleaning comes home in and using those as buffers on the seats.

Have a great Sunday everybody.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 7

Lordy, what a week. I shall go right to the goals and then indulge in some social chatter.

1) Lose 25lbs: I am determined not to get on the scale until the end of the challenge. But I am loving every NSV that comes my way. This week, the skinny jeans (that were looser three months ago) are ever-so-slightly baggy around the upper leg. It's a small but noticeable shift. Even the boyfriend commented (bless him). Also, an orange shirt that I bought months ago that was always just a bit tighter around the hips than the shoulders was donned yesterday for the first time in several weeks. It was discernably looser around the hips this week. Yay, and yay, and (thank the lifestyle-change gods) yay.

2) Run a 5k: if you count about 4 miles on the elliptical, then I stuck to this goal. Went to the foot doctor Monday, learned I have a mild neuroma, not much to speak of thankfully. But still had to suffer a cortisone shot and no walking or running all week. By the way, mucho gratitude and kind hugs to all who sent me good wishes -- nothing cheers me up like seeing new and old commenters on my blog. Thank you!

Didn't walk this week (much) and did elliptical on Wednesday (which annoyed foot). Very mild exercise this week, which led to.....

3) Weight-loss portions at every meal: Monday was not good. I didn't binge, but I ate emotionally and without making good choices. A couple of small vegan cakes were on the menu, and then a very late-night snack that I truly didn't need. Not my most stellar day. BUT....I rebounded fairly well. Monday was off, Tuesday was tough but I white-knuckled through, Wednesday and Thursday good, even without being able to walk to work or do my running, which made things really hard for me. On top of all else, it was a very hormonal week, and I found myself getting weepy and angry over things I would normally shrug off. When I get like that, working out really helps. But I couldn't do things as I wanted this week, so I was frustrated.

Yet, had a dinner out Thursday night with a friend and chose very well (pictures below). Ditto at the event we went to after, a really brilliant evening listening to a live storytelling competition. It's done by a group called The Moth.

I encourage everyone to download and listen on podcast if they can -- fun stories. But nothing compares to a live storytelling competition. It's exhilarating! And the storytellers were great. Some clearly had live performance experience. Others were just Average Joe's who wanted to tell a story and were nervous and excited and so so so brave for getting up on stage. Was such a lovely night and a nice change of pace for me.

And while my friend got a slice of carrot cake for the performance, I did not. Thank goodness it was so dark I couldn't see what she was eating. That really helped.

So here are some pictures from where we went to dinner. Food Network buffs might recognize it from an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Schnipper's! It's a family joint, despite the glass cage effect. It's right on the corner of 41st and Eighth Avenue, so well located near Times Square and the Port Authority bus station. They do organic burgers, dogs, sandwiches, tacos (fish and chicken) salads and more.
We decided to split an order of fish tacos and an arugula, avocado and goat cheese sandwich. Everything was fresh, fresh, fresh. You order your food, they give you a stick with a number on it that matches your receipt and you go sit here, putting your stick on your table, until a server brings your order...
If you look verrrry, verrrry closely at this picture, you'll see a man in a brown jacket, glasses, with brown hair in the middle of the room facing the camera (but not looking at it). He's the fourth person directly in line behind the blond girl whose back is to me. That's Michael Musto.

Who is he, you ask? Well... he's a NYC insider celebrity, a nightlife columnist for The Village Voice who does a weekly article called La Dolce Musto. It's all about theater and clubs and NYC and he's been doing it for over 20 years. When I first moved to NYC I took an unpaid internship at The Village Voice and he was the "established" writer we all tiptoed around. He's nice, unassuming and incredibly shy. He also rides around NYC on a bike at all hours and in all weather and does not wear a helmet.

We went around the corner then to B.B. King's to enjoy the readings at The Moth. Here's a shot of 42nd St near Eighth Avenue at approximately 8 p.m. on a Thursday night. Sorry it's blurry.

And here's a sign of the place itself.
To sum up: a decent week. I wasn't perfect, but .... I was able to handle my moods, rebound from some bad choices and struggle through a change in routine without a major binge. I can live with that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Podiatrist, Part 1

For the next week I can't walk (for any length of time) or run. Elliptical is ok, the bike is ok and the rowing machine is ok. And probably lifting weights is ok, although I didn't ask about that.

Not ok is any kind of impact activity.

I never thought I'd say this, but I might go insane if I can't walk to work all week long. Not only is a good bit of exercise, it has turned into quite the stress management technique as well! I shall miss it more than I ever thought possible.

The good news is that the doc found no evidence of an extremely bad neuroma. Apparently the fancy-schmancy running shoes I bought a month ago to start running in are too narrow across the toe. I've pinched a nerve and now it won't be obedient and go back the way it should be.

I got a quick and unpleasant injection of cortisone around my toe and uncomfortably close to the nerve. Felt very weird. Two x-rays taken, and I'll go back in a week and see how things are.

With any luck, the niggling pain I have now when I step a certain way will be gone.

OK day today. Am not in the best of form. Lots of work stress this past Friday and Saturday and that has still dragged me down a bit, I suspect.

Hope everyone is well. A more cheerful update to follow soon, I promise.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Quick Note of Outrage

I hadn't intended to post today (I'm anticipating a loooooonng post tomorrow after my podiatrist appt), but could not let this go by without comment.

Have any of you seen this article in the NYTimes? It's linked here but I'm posting it below as well.

It makes me feel violated and outraged and just really really frustrated all at the same time. In a nutshell, it's a revealing look at a GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED (that means paid for by you and me and other US taxpayers among us) marketing group known as Dairy Management.

Dairy Management uses taxpayer funds to aggressively promote the consumption of dairy products, especially cheese. It's behind successful promotions that have doubled the amount of cheese on Domino's Pizza and in some Taco Bell food too.

It's part of the very same government agency that's supposed to be coming up with way to control America's obesity problem!!!!

Oh, the irony of it all. One government agency tells us to consume cheese in heaping quantities, while another arm of the same agency tries to get us to limit our saturated fats!

Here's an excerpt -- pay particular attention to the bolded graf at bottom.

Working with some of the largest food companies, Dairy Management has also pushed to expand the use of cheese in processed foods and home cooking.

The strategy is focusing on families whose cheese “habit” outpaces their concern about the health risks, Dairy Management documents show. One study gave them a name: “Cheese snacking fanatics.”

Wow. Just wow. Here we are fighting for our lives, and the government is busy pushing fatty food for better profits.

And what is a government marketing agency doing spending its money helping for-profit companies like Taco Bell and Domino's anyway?

Article below:

While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese

Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. Domestic sales had fallen, and a survey of big pizza chain customers left the company tied for the worst tasting pies.

Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign.

Consumers devoured the cheesier pizza, and sales soared by double digits. “This partnership is clearly working,” Brandon Solano, the Domino’s vice president for brand innovation, said in a statement to The New York Times.

But as healthy as this pizza has been for Domino’s, one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories.

And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.

Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese.

Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, nearly triple the 1970 rate. Cheese has become the largest source of saturated fat; an ounce of many cheeses contains as much saturated fat as a glass of whole milk.

When Michelle Obama implored restaurateurs in September to help fight obesity, she cited the proliferation of cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese. “I want to challenge every restaurant to offer healthy menu options,” she told the National Restaurant Association’s annual meeting.

But in a series of confidential agreements approved by agriculture secretaries in both the Bush and Obama administrations, Dairy Management has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products.

Consider the Taco Bell steak quesadilla, with cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella and a creamy sauce. “The item used an average of eight times more cheese than other items on their menu,” the Agriculture Department said in a report, extolling Dairy Management’s work — without mentioning that the quesadilla has more than three-quarters of the daily recommended level of saturated fat and sodium.

Dairy Management, whose annual budget approaches $140 million, is largely financed by a government-mandated fee on the dairy industry. But it also receives several million dollars a year from the Agriculture Department, which appoints some of its board members, approves its marketing campaigns and major contracts and periodically reports to Congress on its work.

The organization’s activities, revealed through interviews and records, provide a stark example of inherent conflicts in the Agriculture Department’s historical roles as both marketer of agriculture products and America’s nutrition police.

In one instance, Dairy Management spent millions of dollars on research to support a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy products, records and interviews show. The campaign went on for four years, ending in 2007, even though other researchers — one paid by Dairy Management itself — found no such weight-loss benefits.

When the campaign was challenged as false, government lawyers defended it, saying the Agriculture Department “reviewed, approved and continually oversaw” the effort.

Dr. Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health and a former member of the federal government’s nutrition advisory committee, said: “The U.S.D.A. should not be involved in these programs that are promoting foods that we are consuming too much of already. A small amount of good-flavored cheese can be compatible with a healthy diet, but consumption in the U.S. is enormous and way beyond what is optimally healthy.”

The Agriculture Department declined to make top officials available for interviews for this article, and Dairy Management would not comment. In answering written questions, the department said that dairy promotion was intended to bolster farmers and rural economies, and that its oversight left Dairy Management’s board with “significant independence” in deciding how best to support those interests.

The department acknowledged that cheese is high in saturated fat, but said that lower milk consumption had made cheese an important source of calcium.

“When eaten in moderation and with attention to portion size, cheese can fit into a low-fat, healthy diet,” the department said.

In its reports to Congress, however, the Agriculture Department tallies Dairy Management’s successes in millions of pounds of cheese served.

In 2007, the department highlighted Pizza Hut’s Cheesy Bites pizza, Wendy’s “dual Double Melt sandwich concept,” and Burger King’s Cheesy Angus Bacon cheeseburger and TenderCrisp chicken sandwich. “Both featured two slices of American cheese, a slice of pepper jack and a cheesy sauce,” the department said.

These efforts, the department reported, helped generate a “cheese sales growth of nearly 30 million pounds.”

Relentless Marketing

Every day, the nation’s cows produce an average of about 60 million gallons of raw milk, yet less than a third goes toward making milk that people drink. And the majority of that milk has fat removed to make the low-fat or nonfat milk that Americans prefer. A vast amount of leftover whole milk and extracted milk fat results.

For years, the federal government bought the industry’s excess cheese and butter, an outgrowth of a Depression-era commitment to use price supports and other tools to maintain the dairy industry as a vital national resource. This stockpile, packed away in cool caves in Missouri, grew to a value of more than $4 billion by 1983, when Washington switched gears.

The government started buying only what it needed for food assistance programs. It also began paying farmers to slaughter some dairy cows. But at the time, the industry was moving toward larger, more sophisticated operations that increased productivity through artificial insemination, hormones and lighting that kept cows more active.

In 1995, the government created Dairy Management Inc., a nonprofit corporation that has defined its mission as increasing dairy consumption by “offering the products consumers want, where and when they want them.”

Dairy Management, through the “Got Milk?” campaign, has been successful at slowing the decline in milk consumption, particularly focusing on schoolchildren. It has also relentlessly marketed cheese and pushed back against the Agriculture Department’s suggestion that people eat only low-fat or fat-free varieties.

In a July letter to the department’s nutrition committee, Dairy Management wrote that efforts to make fat-free cheese have largely foundered because fat is what makes cheese appealing. “Consumer acceptance of low-fat and fat-free cheeses has been limited,” it said.

Agriculture Department data show that cheese is a major reason the average American diet contains too much saturated fat.

Research has found that the cardiovascular benefits in cutting saturated fat may depend on what replaces it. Refined starches and sugar might be just as bad or even worse, while switching to unsaturated fats has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The department’s nutrition committee issued a new standard this summer calling for saturated fat not to exceed 7 percent of total calories, about 15.6 grams in a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Yet the average intake has remained about 11 percent to 12 percent of total calories for at least 15 years.

The department issued nutritional hints in a brochure titled “Steps To A Healthier You!” It instructs pizza lovers: “Ask for whole wheat crust and half the cheese” — even as Dairy Management has worked with pizza chains like Domino’s to increase cheese.

Dairy Management runs the largest of 18 Agriculture Department programs that market beef, pork, potatoes and other commodities. Their budgets are largely paid by levies imposed on farmers, but Dairy Management, which reported expenditures of $136 million last year, also received $5.3 million that year from the Agriculture Department to promote dairy sales overseas.

By comparison, the department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which promotes healthy diets, has a total budget of $6.5 million.

Although by law the secretary of agriculture approves Dairy Management’s contracts and advertising campaigns, the organization has become a full-blown company with 162 employees skilled in product development and marketing. It also includes the National Dairy Council, a 95-year-old group that acts as its research and communications arm.

Dairy Management’s longtime chief executive, Thomas P. Gallagher, received $633,475 in compensation in 2008, with first-class travel privileges, according to federal tax filings. Annual compensation for two other officials top $300,000 each.

Mr. Gallagher, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was described by board members, employees and food industry officials as an astute executive and effective champion of the sprawling dairy industry.

“He’s a big thinker,” said David Brandon, former chief executive of Domino’s. “A very creative guy who thinks big and is willing to make bets in helping to drive the business on behalf of his dairy farmers.”

Disputed Research

“Great news for dieters,” Dairy Management said in an advertisement in People magazine in 2005. “Clinical studies show that people on a reduced-calorie diet who consume three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day can lose significantly more weight and more body fat than those who just cut calories.”

With milk consumption in decline, Dairy Management had hit on a fresh marketing strategy with its weight-loss campaign.

When the campaign began in 2003, a Dairy Management official said it was inspired by newly relaxed federal rules on health claims and the ensuing “rapid growth of ‘better for you’ products.”

It was based on research by Michael B. Zemel, a University of Tennessee nutritionist and author of “The Calcium Key: The Revolutionary Diet Discovery That Will Help You Lose Weight Faster.” Precisely how dairy facilitates weight loss is unclear, Dr. Zemel said in interviews and e-mails, but in part it involves counteracting a hormone that fosters fat deposits when the body is low on calcium.

Dairy Management licensed Dr. Zemel’s research, promoted his book and enlisted a team of scientific advisers who “identified further research to develop more aggressive claims in the future,” according to a campaign strategy presentation.

One such study was conducted by Jean Harvey-Berino, chairwoman of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont. “I think they felt they had a lot riding on it,” she said of the weight loss claim, “and felt it was a cash cow if it worked out.”

“I’m a big promoter of dairy,” she added, noting that her research was also paid for by Dairy Management.

But by 2004, her study had found no evidence of weight loss. She said Dairy Management took the news poorly, threatening to audit her work. She said she was astonished when the organization pressed on with its ad campaign.

“I thought they were crazy, and that eventually somebody would catch up with them,” she said.

Her study was published in 2005, and at scientific meetings she heard from other researchers who also failed to confirm Dr. Zemel’s work, including Dr. Jack A. Yanovski, an obesity unit chief at the National Institutes of Health.

But in late 2006, Dairy Management was still citing the weight-loss claim in urging the Agriculture Department not to cut the amount of cheese in federal food assistance programs. “The available data provide strong support for a beneficial effect of increased dairy foods on body weight and body composition,” two organization officials wrote, making no mention of Dr. Harvey-Berino’s findings.

Having dismissed the weight-loss claim in 2005, the federal nutrition advisory committee this summer again found the underlying science “not convincing.”

The campaign lasted until 2007, when the Federal Trade Commission acted on a two-year-old petition by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an advocacy group that challenged the campaign’s claims. “If you want to look at why people are fat today, it’s pretty hard to identify a contributor more significant than this meteoric rise in cheese consumption,” Dr. Neal D. Barnard, president of the physicians’ group, said in an interview.

The trade commission notified the group that Agriculture Department and dairy officials had decided to halt the campaign pending additional research. Dr. Zemel said he remained hopeful that his findings would eventually be upheld.

Meanwhile, Dairy Management, which allotted $12.4 million for nutrition research in 2008, has moved on to finance studies on promising opportunities, including the promotion of chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink and the use of cheese to entice children into eating healthy foods like string beans.

An All-Out Campaign

On Oct. 13, Domino’s announced the latest in its Legends line of cheesier pizza, which Dairy Management is promoting with the $12 million marketing effort.

Called the Wisconsin, the new pie has six cheeses on top and two more in the crust. “This is one way that we can support dairy farms across the country: by selling a pizza featuring an abundance of their products,” a Domino’s spokesman said in a news release. “We think that’s a good thing.”

A laboratory test of the Wisconsin that was commissioned by The Times found that one-quarter of a medium thin-crust pie had 12 grams of saturated fat, more than three-quarters of the recommended daily maximum. It also has 430 calories, double the calories in pizza formulations that the chain bills as its “lighter options.”

According to contract records released through the Freedom of Information Act, Dairy Management’s role in helping to develop Domino’s pizzas included generating and testing new pizza concepts.

When Dairy Management began working with companies like Domino’s, it first had to convince them that cheese would make their products more desirable, records and interviews show. It provided banners and special lighting for the drive-up window menus at fast food restaurants, recalled Debra Olson Linday, who led Dairy Management’s early efforts in promoting cheese to restaurant chains before leaving in 1997.

By 1999, food retailers and manufacturers were coming to Dairy Management for help.

“Let’s sell more pizza and more cheese!” said two officials with Pizza Hut, which began putting cheese inside its crust after holding development meetings with Dairy Management, according to a memorandum released by the Agriculture Department.

Derek Correia, a former Pizza Hut product innovations chief, said Dairy Management also helped find suppliers for the extra cheese. “We were using four cheeses, if not six, and with a company like Pizza Hut, that is a lot of supply,” he said in an interview.

And unlike with its advertising campaigns, Dairy Management and the Agriculture Department could point to specific results with these projects. The “Summer of Cheese” promotion it developed with Pizza Hut in 2002 generated the use of 102 million additional pounds of cheese, the department reported to Congress.

“More cheese on pizza equals more cheese sales,” Mr. Gallagher, the Dairy Management chief executive, wrote in a guest column in a trade publication last year. “In fact, if every pizza included one more ounce of cheese, we would sell an additional 250 million pounds of cheese annually.”

Working with some of the largest food companies, Dairy Management has also pushed to expand the use of cheese in processed foods and home cooking. The Agriculture Department has reported a 5 percent to 16 percent increase in sales of cheese snacks in stores where Dairy Management has helped grocers reinvent their dairy aisles. Now on display is an array of sliced, grated and cubed products, along with handy recipes for home cooking that use more cheese.

The strategy is focusing on families whose cheese “habit” outpaces their concern about the health risks, Dairy Management documents show. One study gave them a name: “Cheese snacking fanatics.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 6

My not-so-better half is out for the night. Ahhhhh, sweet solitude. Very long, difficult day, capped off with a corker of a headache that started late afternoon.

Without further ado, my update this week:

Goal # 1: Run 5k. As regular readers know, I believe I've developed a swollen nerve in my foot, a condition called Morton's Neuroma. I'm trying not to panic and worry and freak out. I have a doc's appt on Monday and you can be sure you'll get a full update. Long story short, I ran a 5k on Monday but it was pretty painful. I walked 6 miles Tuesday and 3 miles Wednesday plus the elliptical, but it took some teeth-gritting to get it done. By Wednesday night I had to ice the bottom of my foot it was so painful. I didn't run a 5k Thursday. So I'm one down this week, unfortunately.

Goal #2: Weight-loss portions at every meal: Fell off the wagon on two meals this week, both involving pasta (go figure). Sunday night after our Halloween walk I way overdid it on the yummy spaghetti and meat sauce made by the B/F. Not a binge, but an overeat.

Thursday night I made pasta at the B/F's request. Again, I overate. There were leftovers, which I polished off tonight, but I definitely ate past fullness because it tasted good. No other reason.

Goal #3: Lose 25 lbs. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to drift into fantasy land and start imagining that you've lost oodles and oodles of weight? I did that one night last week while walking home. My mind started whirling and I began to wonder if, when I next get on the scale, it might show a really really big loss. This is how I set myself up for disappointment -- unrealistic expectations. I seem to feel I'm owed a very big reward from even just a few days of clean eating and exercise.

In truth, from the way my clothes fit, I think maybe I've lost 6 to 8 lbs over the Hot 100 challenge. Maybe. In anycase, my goal is a very achievable 5lbs a month. So.... I'm doing my best, I really and truly am.

In other NSV's, tonight I left work late and exhausted and had to walk to the bank, then to the store for cat food. With the B/F out on his own, there was not hot dinner waiting for me at home.

Strangely enough, I felt barely an urge to buy something decadent and "splurge" at home alone. Despite the exhaustion, the headache, all the excuses I could summon for buying a "goodie" and burying myself in it when I got home and could sit down on the couch, I just didn't do it.

I was curiously numb to the idea. It surfaced a few times, but with no real force behind it. There was no crushing desire to wrestle with. My honest-to-God reaction was just "Meh." I knew I could grab something gooey or hot or fattening and eat it -- but I wasn't going to feel any better if I did. It wasn't even a struggle, I'm happy to say (but I'm far too aware that it may be different another time).

So it was leftovers for me, and I quite happily reheated the leftover spaghetti (made with broccoli, sauteed garlic in olive oil and sprinkled with feta), threw in spinach leaves to use them up, and a wee bit of diced chicken we hadn't eaten up earlier in the week. I was fed, and the fridge was clean.

Steve asked tonight about our favorite Hot 100 blogs. Truth be told I have many. There are so many I love! I'll list some another time -- I'm just too wiped out tonight.

Catch up with all you Hotties soon!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Words You Don't Want in Your Vocabulary

Here's a big one: Morton's Neuroma.

Apparently it was once featured on an episode of "The Golden Girls." I did not know that, but a friend of mine who strangely LOVES to watch those reruns (she's 32) mentioned it to me. You can't imagine how wonderful it is to learn you're sharing an ailment with a TV character nearly twice your age.

So, I've had some strange nerve pain in my left foot for the past couple of weeks, off and on. It started when I bought a new pair of sneakers. It gets worse when I run my 5ks, then dissipates a bit (until I run some more). This Monday is was excruciating. I barely got through the 5k. And it's been painful to walk every day since.

Whenever I have weird pain, I go to the Internet, of course. It tells me I likely have Morton's Neuroma, which to me seems a fancy word for a pinched and inflamed nerve in my foot.

Podiatrist appt on Monday. I believe I caught it early, it's probably not severe yet and I hope to be able to treat it easily and make it go away forever. Inflamed nerves, once upset, don't like to calm down, apparently.

Steve also added to my vocabulary growth this week with his list of antioxidant foods.

Turns out I don't eat any of them!

So I bought this:

This is a pomegranate. I confused it with a papaya and made a stupid comment about it on Steve's blog. Papayas are one thing, this is another.

Apparently you go through a lot of work to open this cute little sucker up, and then you just eat the seeds. It's a strange fruit.

Then I got these:

Of course I already knew what a pecan was. But I added some four-letter variations to the name when I realized that a small handful of these bad boys equals about 200 calories. Whoa!

All antioxidant foods should be calorie-free (or at least very low). I think we need to make it a rule.

I also decided to get wiggy with things in the mushroom section. Instead of nice buttons, cremini, or even shitake, I got these. They're called Earwood Mushrooms. Or Tree-Fungus Mushrooms. I keep calling them Earwig Mushrooms -- and apparently yesterday in the kitchen I asked my b/f to "hand me the earwig muffins," which shows you where my head is at.

I was so hopeful they'd be good. Instead, kind of blah. Better in the yummy Thai soups where I first saw them. Not so good with eggs in the morning.

So, lots of new words to roll around my tongue, and some anxiety over the alleged Morton's Neuroma. Having just started to run, I'd hate to have to stop again. But I also don't want this to worsen.

For now, it's the elliptical for me, where the nerve nags but doesn't shriek.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

I love Halloween. The colors, the smells, the crisp bite to the air.

What's more Halloweeny than a headless horseman lurking in the graveyard of the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow?

I can't think of a thing. Only needed Ichabod Crane to emerge from the shadows to be complete.

We went to Sleepy Hollow to hike today in Rockefeller State Park. It was gorgeous and sunny (but brisk). We walked/hiked about 5 miles through the woodsy lanes, surprising a couple of wild turkeys and one young deer.

At one point, when the B/F told me he planned to make spaghetti for dinner, I began to jog (got to make room for those carbs). Sadly, I can jog at about the pace the much taller B/F walks. I'm definitely a plodder.

But it was fun to plod along side him for a mile or so. Great day. I leave you with these photos. Enjoy!






Thursday, October 28, 2010

HOT HOT HOT

Yes, it's Hot 100 Update #5. I don't know why Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot" song popped into my head. Perhaps because of Steve's confession last night that he associates people with songs -- and he likes hot peppers, and started the Hot 100 contest. So apparently, that's his song -- in my head, anyway.

I've had a wonderful time cruising among your blogs this week -- I've found lots of inspiration and motivation and plenty of thoughtful commentary that encourages me to delve deeper into my own mental blocks regarding weight loss/food addiction.

Right, to the goals:

#1: Eat Weight Loss Portions Every Meal: I have worked harder on this in the past four days than ever before. It requires me to REALLY slow down when I eat, and that's always a challenge for me. I am trying with all my might to STOP EATING when I'm about 80 percent full.

For lunch now I'm eating small, organic burritos that have 370 calories. It's a decent amount of calories, I think, but the portion is very controlled. It's a deliberate training technique -- I challenge myself to make that burrito last as loooong as possible and enjoy it thoroughly. And when it's gone, it's gone.

I am not "full" after I eat it. But I am no longer hungry. I am trying to live in that state now, and be comfortable there. It does not feel comfortable to me yet. Or, I should say that physically it does, but emotionally and mentally it has the opposite effect. I feel anxious, a little nervous, I feel like something is missing.

It takes a lot of concentration to redirect my mind to something else and forget about eating more so I can feel just a little bit fuller (I have nothing else to eat, so I can't anyway!). But if I can distract myself for 10 minutes, the urge to stuff more goes away on its own.

Monday night we went to my friend's event (the one I was whining about) and on the way home we looked for a place to eat. We ended up at a Shake Shack, a gourmet burger joint that only sells burgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes and beer and wine. Fun, no? I vowed to drink only water, and that's what I did.

I was relieved to see when my cheeseburger came it was small -- very good portion control. Ditto the fries. I ate my meal slowly. It was good. And I wanted more. How hard was it to get up and walk away? SOOO hard. So very very hard. For inspiration, I came home and read The Daily Diary of a Winning Loser.

Sean has some great thoughts on how to handle food addiction and food freedom. He should know -- he went from over 500 lbs to the low 200s!

Goal #2: Run a 5K: I missed last week because of the hiking fall. This week I did two 5Ks (yay!). The first was Monday and I thought I'd smoked it. Seriously, the machine said I came in under 40 minutes and that I did my last mile in under 12 minutes.

Well, that was not what a different machine told me Thursday morning when I got up early to go to the gym for run No. 2! At the same rate of speed, this machine said I was doing about a 15-minute mile. Whoa. Big difference. I thought it strange that I was suddenly a Speedy Gonzalez on Monday. Bottom line: I ran two 5Ks. That's what counts.

Goal #3: Lose 25 lbs. A month ago I bought a light jacket in a size that usually fits my shoulders and bust but not my hips. It fit all over. I got excited. On Sunday I bought another, different light jacket in the same size. It fit my shoulders and bust. It did not fit my hips. ARRRRGH! These hips! I assume it's a different style and cut and all that, but I will be so excited when I lose a few more inches from the woolly mammoth hips. That said, the skinny jeans are slowing getting looser, back to where they were four months ago.

By the way, what does NSV mean? Good luck Hotties -- look forward to reading your updates!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Guilty Silver Lining

Is it a sign of diet-obsessiveness that my English friend had to cancel her family's trip to NYC this week and the kids (and she) are totally heartbroken and I am secretly relieved?

Not relieved that they aren't coming -- I really wanted to see them all. But relieved that the onslaught of food and drink temptations I was anticipating aren't going to materialize at all. Yeah, deeply, deeply relieved!

This weight-loss thing is just so much easier when everything is under my control. And that makes me try harder to control things and want more and more control over my schedule and rituals.

But, that way madness lies, methinks. Life's not really in our control (at least all the time), is it? And I need to remember that I CAN handle situations outside my usual food routine. That's one of my major non-weight-loss goals on this journey -- get rid of my fear (and longing) for food, and let it all just be .....well, food.

Checked out some Hot 100 Hotties last night! Lots of good stuff out there. I met some new faces, checked up on some old ones. Everybody looks to be doing well.

Yesterday was a very clean day for me with good exercise. I'm trying to use my lunch hour to walk around a little bit ever since reading that article that says Americans walk the least of all industrialized nations.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Fellow Animals!

I am 99.9 percent sure we were the only people to show up at the Animal Farm Sanctuary walk yesterday with the odor of bacon and fried sausage wafting in our wake. The b/f will do many things for me, but sacrificing his Sunday morning fry-up is not one of them.



I guess it's sort of hypocritical for us to attend (and gleefully participate in) a walk to help a sanctuary for abused animals, many of them rescued from really awful, gross conditions on industrial-style farms.

But even though we are not hard-core vegans, we do care deeply about animals being kept in humane conditions. Items like meat, butter, and cheese are not staples in our diet by any means, but occasional add-ins, and when we do buy some, it's only from local, animal-friendly providers. I try not to eat them mindlessly like I used to -- not just in terms of quantity, but in understanding where these foods have come from.

Ok, we're not perfect, but we're striving to be less empty-headed about what we consume, so we showed up yesterday (which is half the battle in life sometimes, or so I've always been told). It was a gorgeous, crisp and sunny October day, and we got there just in time to start the march around the park.

Lots of kids and families and calm banner waving. This was not a screamy "in-your-face" event but a low-key, groovy kinda thing.

It's hard to tell from the picture but I'd say there were several hundred folks who turned out.

After we gathered in Colombus Circle for our free vegan lunches! Yum. The b/f refused to try the seitan sandwich, being his stubborn self, but I finally coaxed him into taking a corner bite, then he took another, and another....well, half the sandwich finally went down his gullet. There was also pirate booty chips, organic chocolate squares, vegan cookies (very calorie-laden - I checked) and some neat 100 cal treats from "Live Foods." They were like yummy granola bars but with spirulina and raw sprouts in them; it really tasted good tho, which can only mean they packed them with some sort of sugar.

The Grandmaster of the march was John Salley, a Brooklyn born former NBA star who is a vegan. He gave a hilarious speech that had everyone laughing, which was a nice change from the overly serious and ranting tone some of these events can exude. We can be thoughtful, gracious earth companions without completely losing our sense of humor, right?


In the end, we got our t-shirts! I love t-shirts that have a memory attached.

Was a great day, overall. We walked home, so about 5 miles walking in all, I'd say, at a rather sedate, middle-aged pace. Was feeling like it was a good amount until I read this article: Americans Don't Walk Enough.

Got to run to gym now, then Whole Foods for dinner items, then home hopefully for a nap because I have to go to an event tonight (no food, thank goodness) for a friend that I really don't want to go to but must because it's one of those times when you must show no matter how annoying or inconvenient it is for you. And I'll probably enjoy it when I get there, right?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hot 100 Update # 4

Can't believe how fast this challenge is going. Do we really only have 60 or so days left? I think I've somehow slipped a gear and gone into dog years -- everything is going seven times faster than usual (except the weight loss, drat it).

To the challenge at hand:

1) Build up my endurance to run 5k: no additional 5k runs this week, although I had at least one planned. After the (ahem) incident on our hike upstate, I apparently strained some stomach muscles as well as bashing my arm and wrist. Was very sore all week. I did get in extra walking, but would have liked to at least hit the elliptical machine once. But... these were conscious choices I made due to injury, not flake-out or laziness, so I'm not going to dwell, just glad I'm healing and ready for a new week!

2) Weight loss portions at every meal: This was a toughie this week. I can't honestly say that I did it at every meal, especially while we were up in the cabin. What I can say is that I kept a firm grip on what I did eat. Yes, I would have liked to cut myself off a few bites earlier on a couple of occasions, and I snacked more than I would have liked. Yet, I didn't consume an entire cake (which I've been known to do) or a whole bag of chips, etc etc. I did keep reminding myself not to go really really far overboard, and it helped. I'll call it a qualified success.

3) Lose 25 lbs: I'm measuring by my clothes right now, not the scale. Put on a black shirt this week I haven't worn in a while and it was definitely bigger on me. And not just on the shoulders and bust, but actually looser around the woolly mammoth hips that Mother Nature insisted on gifting me with. That, my friends, is a pleasant surprise! I'd like to keep going on this though and get my skinny jeans loose on me once more, the way they were a few months ago when I weighed....you guessed it, 25 lbs less!

Challenges ahead: The food-loving British friend and her always ravenous family arrive this week. Several dinners out and all manner of things.

Goal is to get back to the running, which for some odd reason always makes me feel thinner, even when I know that logically one can't run a mile and lose 10 inches. But what does logic have to do with weight loss anyway?

Let's go Hotties! I'll be checking updates and taking names this week!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Photo-palooza!

We're back from a weekend in gorgeous upstate New York, all in one piece but not without war wounds!

Right -- let's get to it. I would give myself a C- on the eating front this weekend. It wasn't as awful as it could have been, but there were moments that got away from me.

I read Cindy's blog while I was upstate and she talked about the importance of fighting back against eating cues that send us into a feeding frenzy. It immediately dawned on me that going to the cabin sets off many cues for me -- namely, that we are in a beautiful, big log cabin, much bigger than our apartment in NYC, and the joy of being in a big kitchen, with so much space to move around and cook sets off both me and the boyfriend.

It brings me back to my rural New England childhood and our cozy house in the woods. Before I counted calories or worried about what I was eating. And I think the B/F has the same response -- we just go a little crazy when we get up there.

Here are the brass tacks. A late, late, late and rainy, dark drive up Friday night meant getting dinner close to midnight at the local diner. Grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, with a small order of fries -- not as terrible as they sound, as they were baked, not fried.

Saturday it was cold and rainy. To the Sheep and Wool Festival! Check out these guys -- who are obviously not sheep. There are a surprising number of Llama and Alpaca farms in upstate New York.



So, some of you will remember that I mentioned a certain craving for Apple Cider Donuts. When we first got there I could not find any -- although I did see the same food cart selling fried pierogies that I saw at the Garlic Festival. Ick! Almost as gross to me as Cotton Candy, which is really the one childhood treat I could never bring myself to eat. As we walked around the stalls and vendors, I began to panic. Could it be that there was not one single Apple Cider Donut to be found?

And then...

Turns out they had simply sold out when I got there. A second batch came in as we strolled around and I luckily found them.

I had one, although it was VERY hard to hold myself to just that. They were smallish, for donuts, which is good. To answer questions about what they are (Peridot and Dr. Fit to Fat asked), they are simply donuts made with fresh apple cider, and rolled in a combo of brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon. Ohhhh boy.

The next day the sun dawned and it was time to work it all off with a moderate hike up to the Giant Ledge. The hike was sort of steep, but not too bad. The challenge, however, was the footing. It was rocky, very very rocky, and muddy and slippery. And in places we had to use hands and feet to avoid sliding downwards. Check it out.

The first part was gorgeous - Ichabod Crane country.


Then it started to get very vertical, although someone kindly cut out some stone steps for part of it.

When we got to the trailhead, there was a fire engine and paramedic team standing by. Turns out a hiker had hurt himself part way up, and given the intense rockiness and steepness, it was quite a feat to organize a way to get the man out.

It was more than little disconcerting to come across the rescue team as we hiked up the slippery terrain!
.

Finally we got to the top -- and the views were amazing, and totally worth the effort (which took quite a toll on my bad knee, I must say). Here I am, catching some rays and my breath.


So all that remained was to refuel -- pears, prunes, a little trail mix, water and a ham-n-cheese sandwich (made and carried by the handy boyfriend) -- and walk back down. Easy, right?

Except downhill is often the most challenging. You're tired, a little unfocused, thinking about what comes next -- hot tub and dinner, in my case, and it's all too easy to take a tumble or a misstep and turn an ankle. Or worse!

As I picked my way C-A-R-E-F-U-L-L-Y downhill, around the muddy and slippery leaves, I kept replaying over and over to myself the horrors of putting a foot wrong. Above all, I dreaded the thought of having to say my size or weight to rescuers deciding if they could carry me out or have to call a helicopter. I would, naturally, require a Shamu-sized lift out via whirly-bird.

This is what I navigated for the hour-long trek down, as I chanted "don't fall, don't fall, don't fall."




Of course, only one thing could happen, right?

I fell.

Thank goodness, it was a simple slip. I didn't hurt a knee or an ankle on the way down, but did smash my palm and and forearm onto a rock. I don't mind telling you that the pain shot right through me and I saw stars! It was a corker of a landing. The b/f said I went down in slow motion and had a look of abject terror on my face (because I was thinking for sure I'd blow out a joint).

In the end, my poor palm took the worst of it.It doesn't look that bad, but it was a nasty scrape and it hurt like the dickens.

Once the pain subsided, I immediately started entertaining thoughts of taking a week off from work due to my terrible sprain. Would love it!

But alas, turned out to be nothing but a wee wrenched wrist, a bruise and a scrape. Not enough to warrant medical leave!

Right, so enough of the drama. On Saturday I ate not too badly at the fair, but over-indulged a little that night (chips and salsa). Not too much, but more than I had wanted.

Sunday night, after a day of hiking, we had a lovely dinner of roast chicken, but again I over did it. Most of the time I was restrained, but the weekend was one long struggle. I kept hearing EVL's (evil little voices) telling me to EAT, EAT, EAT!

I would say that all things considered I did ok. The point being that nobody is perfect, and some days the temptations are less .... well, tempting than on others. This was not one of those times, but it could have been way, way worse. And I now have an excuse to buy new hiking boots. I never would have fallen if I weren't wearing sneakers!