Thursday, May 27, 2010

Calamari Safari

Ok, so there's this restaurant here on the Upper West Side. It's called Carmine's. It's an Italian place.

Before last night I had never been there.

Italian spells trouble for me. Pasta, parmesan cheese, garlic bread, etc etc etc. You might as well put me in front of a firing squad, 'cause I'm going down for sure.

It was a friend's birthday the other night, and we wound up at Carmine's, where every dish -- and I'm not exaggerating here -- is big enough to feed five adults. You can't order anything as a single portion. It's all 'family style.'

It started out ok. Stuffed mushroom appetizers -- and that's the one dish that's not insanely huge. We each had a few. Then someone ordered fried calamari.

I was a prisoner of war (the birthday wars), blindfolded and standing against the wall, just praying for a quick death. The ordering of the calamari was the moment when the condemned prisoner hears the executioner's pistol cock.

Oh yes. My fate was sealed just then.

But folks, I died a noble death. I went out with honor.

I ate a large portion of calamari (with lemon and sometimes marinara sauce, but avoided the creamy tartar).

But I stopped eating after that. I didn't stuff myself with the garlic bread. I didn't dive into the (obscenely) huge plate of chicken parmigiana with spaghetti that followed. I even said no to dessert.

And today I did not follow it up with a binge. I did not allow any permissive eating. I wanted a muffin for breakfast, but that simply could not happen given what I'd inhaled the night before.

I had cottage cheese (small serving), an apple, later a banana, and later a 110 calorie snack bar. For lunch, much much later, I had soup from Hale and Hearty.

I went on a Calamari Safari last night, but I managed not to get lost in the wild.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Developing My Long Game

I'm all about the sports analogies today because the French Open is on. Nothing like staring at The Tennis Channel endlessly to make you feel like a slug.

I spent most of this week running around like crazy for work. I managed to walk in the mornings and get in some decent gym time, but not as much as I would have liked.

This weekend had some challenges...some handled well, others not.

Friday was a crazy day. Had time for my usually yummy breakfast. But no lunch until late in the day. And dinner was even later -- and I really feel like I shouldn't have eaten it all. I wasn't really hungry at that point, and it was like 10pm. The good news is that I did have a healthy lunch even though I was starving and it was about 5pm (I'd had breakfast at 8am). It was soup and a half sandwich, carefully calorie-counted.

Saturday was decent, regular breakfast, soup for lunch, cashews for snack, and a dinner out. I split a shrimp cocktail with the B/F and for dinner had the fresh scallops. Love them, and they are incredibly low-calorie and high protein. Of course, it came on a pile of creamy asparagus risotto. You know that was loaded with butter.

No dessert, but a few bites of the B/F/s apple tart. And of course, a couple glasses of wine with dinner. Sigh..the wine continues to be a problem.

Sunday was an afternoon party for a friend. In a deli, no less. It was one of those shower things that are full of all sorts of people you don't know and forced gaiety and tons and tons of food. Ugh.

I'd say I did pretty good, choices considering. One piece of bread, a piece of chicken (skin removed), one small potato pancake hors d'ouevre, a small piece of stuffed cabbage and beets.

I was really looking forward to the dessert cake, thinking it would have to be delicious. It was not. At all. Of course, I was insanely disappointed by that.

But I'm happy that I put the cake down once I realized it wasn't any good. In the past, I'd have eaten it anyway. This time I was able to quite reasonably tell myself there was no point in eating something that tasted gross just because it was cake.

But once I got home (hours later than I wanted), things went downhill. I had wine when I didn't need to have a glass (breaking my Sat-night only rule), and then cheese and crackers.

It was -- if not a binge exactly -- a lot of unnecessary eating. I wasn't hungry at all. I was tired, and cranky, and just a wee bit unhappy, I think.

I struggled a bit this morning with the negativity backlash -- flickers of shame and anger and self-loathing (and frustration and irritation and disgust). Then I decided to let it go. There's just no point in beating yourself up -- what's done is done. Even Serena Williams has her off days. But she always comes back, doesn't she?

I am an emotional eater, and I think that urge is always going to be there -- especially when I'm tired and cranky.

So...I'm not feeling great today, but it's been worse. At most I put on a few pounds on the scale since Saturday.

On the other hand, my skinny jeans are ever so slowly getting looser around the hips and upper thighs. If it weren't for my "problem area" I'd already be down another size, I think, because these jeans gape awfully at the waist and are baggy everywhere but that section.

But you know me -- pear-shaped loser to the end! Progress is being made, it's just very sllllloooooooowwwwww.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Lovely fish for dinner last night. The b/f demanded a 'crunchy' exterior.

So I took the halibut I'd purchased, soaked it in skim milk for about 15 minutes (not too much, just a little) and then rolled it in a mixture of panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin and a dash of nutmeg.

The nutmeg is the trick.

The fish got coated with the crumb mixture, then I baked it for about 8 minutes, then popped the fillets in the broiler to crisp up.

The topping was a little dry, but I didn't mind because I squeezed a lot of lemon on my fish and it was fine. For the pickier b/f, I drizzled on some garlic-infused olive oil.

Matched with brussel sprouts and kidney beans and quinoa, b/c now the b/f won't eat anything without quinoa. Yummmmmy.

The balancing act yesterday was getting that workout in: sad to say, I didn't. Late at work, rainy horrible day, got home just in time to make dinner at a fairly decent hour.

Also got home so hungry that I ate some cheese and breadsticks before dinner.

Not an ideal situation.

To compensate, I cut my dinner portion down by about two-thirds. Instead of a whole piece of halibut, about 5 oz cooked, the b/f and I split one. And I had just a taste of the quinoa and beans, lots of brussels though.

There were a dicey few moments in the kitchen after -- I kept wanting more bites of fish. I had one big one, then sternly said "Enough. YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY ANYMORE."

It's true. I wasn't. So that stopped that -- and I ran out of the kitchen as fast as possible.

Got up early today for gym. Such a relief to get that done. Now, easy walk to work, and any extra movement I get today is just a bonus!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was all excited this morning to wake up and resume my regular walk to work.

Naturally, it's raining.

Grrrrrr! I'm very frustrated by that!

It's ok though, I can make it to the gym later today, right? That's the plan, anyway. I often don't have good luck with after-work attempts to get to the gym.

But if I'm determined enough, it will happen.

Yesterday was not a good eating day. I had a lot of chocolate desserts. The only thing that is good is that I didn't continue to stuff myself all day -- once I ate what I wanted to eat, I stopped.

Later that night I had a piece of bread and butter with a small amount of kidney beans. Then a half a tortilla wrap around a slice of manchego cheese. Didn't need to eat either thing -- just snacking. At least I avoided eating a big, unwanted dinner, or just stuffing my face mindlessly for hours.

This morning I woke up hungry. I always like it when I feel my tummy growling in the morning - makes me feel like I didn't overeat the day before. Of course, I don't quite feel that way this morning, growling tummy aside! I definitely overate yesterday. It was a chocolate binge, essentially. Not a huge one, but not a moment of mindful eating, that's for sure.

But today is a new (rainy) day, and things don't have to be the way there were yesterday.

Selective amnesia can be a very good thing!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

They're in the Bronx Zoo.

Fantastic place!

I'm not a fan of zoos, in general. Too many small, poorly-designed cages and miserable, bored animals who have nothing to do but pace, pace, pace in their tiny spaces.

Thank goodness this zoo is different. They have few animals, and they are in large, spacious habitats -- not cages, nothing metal. The Congo area is really a reconstructed African habitat, and the animals live in it and roam freely. It's not quite the Savannah Plains, but you'd never know you are in the midst of urban blight when you stand in the wild green of the Bronx Zoo.

Plus, they do excellent wildlife conservation programs globally, so ... if I'm going to go to a zoo, I'd like my money to do some good.

We have video of the gorillas we saw in the Congo Rainforest at the zoo, but having problems uploading. It's pretty cool to stand in front of the glass enclosure (you can see into the gorilla habitat, they can't see you) and slowly, as you stare into the thicket, shapes begin to appear. Then you realize the area you thought was an empty grassy field has no fewer than seven rather large primates in it! Amazing how the eye can overlook things that later appear totally obvious.

We walked and walked and walked around today, and I'm glad I had on sunscreen or it would have been bad. I'd be purple right now.

I'll try to get up pics, but I'm happy to report that my strength is definitely back. That means biking/gym/walking must resume this week. I'll keep you all informed.

By the way, I saw a hyena today. O.M.G. You do NOT want to get caught by one of those things in the wild, believe me.

To see one of them loping at you is to see death. They are gorgeous, in a very primal way, but their power is frightening.

I'm quite happy that the only wild animal in my house tonight is the free range chicken I'm about to eat for dinner. Ciao!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The long and winding road to post-cold health is littered with trashy novels.

I admit it: since I couldn't eat my cold away, I filled my head with the literary equivalent of junk food. Thank goodness for the Kindle, it lets me read my low-brow novels in secret.

The experience has me thinking about how easy it is to fill our minds with "empty calories" (as easily as we fill our mouths). I have the mental equivalent of a post-binge food hangover -- lethargy, low-energy, a feeling of slight depression and just overall not comfortable in my own skin.

Weird, no? I really do believe it's from ingesting crappy books that don't really feed my mind, connect to my life, or relate in anyway to my conscious self. It was all about escape, fiction, fantasy -- getting away from who I am and my current unhappy condition.

A little bit of that is fine, I think. But apparently I'm a binge reader as well as a binge eater. I worked my way through six overwrought historical novels all written by the same woman -- the first one was mildly diverting, then they all become the same, just with different names for characters and slightly different settings.

Ultimately, I was left with the same feeling I have after eating too much crappy, sweet cake: why didn't I stop at just one?

The only positive is that I got them on my Kindle, so they were cheap, and each one took about 2 hours to read, so I didn't waste too much time on it, just kept me busy while I was down and out and not capable of anything requiring actual concentration.

Anyway, this is all to say that I am feeling better. If I'm back to usual long and rambling posts, my strength must be returning, right?

Still not able to work out beyond some walking, but that will change soon. I feel the energy trickling back. Yay!

Read an interesting article about a vegan long-distance runner in the NY Times yesterday. Wow -- this guy and I have similar diets, in that I try very hard to eat what he's eating (tempeh, beans, salads, quinoa, yams, etc). I supplement with fish a lot more now b/c I think I've developed a bit of a reaction to tempeh. If I eat it too often (every day) I get bad stomach cramps.

But I'm thinking if this guy can run for 8 hours off this diet, I surely can be vegan and get through my day! Then again, he's not trying to lose weight, and there may be something in there for me to ponder.

OK, off to work, more later.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Sickness

Over the past two weeks I have been dogged by a nagging, uncomfortable question that keeps getting ever-more insistent even though I try to ignore it and make it go away:

Is it possible I'm not as healthy as I think I am?

That would be an awful blow to my ego! You see, I do like to think of myself as very hale and hearty, despite carrying around a sizable amount of extra chub.

But recent events really have me wondering. Why am I so susceptible to these awful colds? Am I, perhaps, congenitally weak?

I can't stand the thought! Yet I fear it might be so. I'm terribly prone to nasty colds and respiratory infections. And I hate it, and it makes me frustrated and angry.

Of course, if that's the biggest health issue I ever have to grapple with in my life, well... I'd consider myself blessed beyond measure. So, all things are relative.

Slowly, slowly pulling myself together. After a bump in energy mid-week -- celebrated with a 3-mile walk -- I fell down the rabbit hole again and my condition worsened.

My eating was good up until Thursday night. Since then, well...nothing terrible, but I've given in to the desire to eat more than I need to feel full a couple of times.

This is not good: I have come to understand that portion control is a big factor for me in weight loss. I really only do my best when I focus on how much I'm eating and employ my Beck techniques to consume slowly and recognize when I'm full and set the fork down.

I suspect this is the key to long-term weight control for me, as well.

I have to accept that while no food is off limits -- if I plan for it and it's what I want to eat -- it's just never acceptable to overeat. Really...what is the point?

Enough is as good as a feast, as the old saying goes.

Overeating has not made me feel better, hasn't made my sickness go away any faster and ultimately just leaves me bloated, uncomfortable and unhappy.

Starting today, right now, I have to stop this trend of having soup AND a sandwich, or crackers and cheese AND a hearty dinner, like I did last night.

It's not helping me. Not helping at all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back from the Land of Delirium

Finally able to return to somewhat normal duty. That cold I so blithely announced I was all but over at the end of last week turned very, very nasty.

Morphed into an upper respiratory infection, wiped me out completely.

Since I was too sick to go to the doctor, I had to tough it out. I'm not a fan of antibiotics, but I guess this was probably one time I could have used the extra help wiping those bugs from my system.

I started to realize I might need to worry when I woke up at 3am'ish one day -- in a sweltering NYC heat wave of 80 degrees in our non-air conditioned apartment -- and had to get out a blanket because I was racked by shiver-inducing chills. That is never good.

Fought it off, finally, but am still weak and prone to needing naps. Today will be my first day back at work.

Look forward to catching up with everyone!