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.