Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Short Post on Frankenfood...Just My Opinion

I belong to a private HAES (health at every size) food group on Facebook. Every day, members post pictures of mouth-watering foods that they not only eat, but are also not afraid to eat. "Bravo!" I say.


The other day, someone posted a picture of a dessert she'd made. I asked for the recipe, and she kindly posted it.

With the exception of the featured fruit, the recipe contained nothing but a long list of highly processed foods. Not even any real whipping cream, just Cool Whip.

Honestly, I wouldn't make this if you paid me. It has nothing to do with the sugar content. It has nothing to do with the calories. It has everything to do with the fact that virtually all the ingredients are what I call "frankenfoods"--dishes that come from foods essentially made in a lab, instead of from ingredients found in the ground, the water, trees, etc.--and BTW, I include good chocolate in the category of "real food."

I'm not planning to call her out on this pseudo-food. It's her business. And it's the business of anyone else who wants to make this no doubt tasty, but horrific concoction.

I'll stick to real food. Not because real food will make me slim. It won't. It will just help keep me healthy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reductive...and I'm not talking about weight loss!

Today, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to this article comparing school lunches in France and the US.

Not surprisingly, the French lunches are more beautiful, delicious and nutritious than the swill that often passes for food in the States.

However, as usual, the article starts with what the author feels is most important: not that French school lunches are both more nutritious and more interesting, but that these lunches explain, at least in part, why French children don't get fat. First of all, although obesity rates in France are much lower than in Canada or the US (according to the World Fact Book, published by the CIA!!, in the obesity sweepstakes the US ranks 18th, Canada 48th and France 108th), I seriously doubt there are no fat French children. Having visited France several times, I can attest to the fact that there is a typical French body type. The French are often small--certainly much shorter than the Dutch--and have a fine-boned, slight build. But that does not mean that every French person has that build.

I am furious at the reductionist vision of food that passes for mainstream thought in today's world: it's only good inasmuch as it doesn't make you fat.

And as to why French children (or, let's say a higher percentage of French children) are not fat, I can think of a host of reasons that have nothing to do with the wonderful food they eat. How about genetics, more active transportation, a better social safety net (as evidenced by the amazing food provided in the schools) that results in better outcomes related to the social determinants of health?

I fully support better, healthier foods in the schools and on all our plates because such food certainly contributes to making us healthier, though not necessarily lighter.

Here's a picture that I found on the Internet by googling "French food." It's not so different from the kind of food my family eats here in Canada, but I am certainly looking forward to trying a variety of delightful French foods and dishes on my upcoming visit to France!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I have a tendancy... read weight loss blogs, despite the fact that I feel that intentional weight loss, unlike intentionally seeking to lead a healthier life, is certainly not the right thing for me.

I just checked in on one of these blogs a few minutes ago and felt that I must make an effort to not read this particular blogger.

This person is well-intentioned, incredibly hard-working and certainly a fine person. However, they (I'm using the indefinite pronoun to avoid identifying the person's gender) are constantly tearing themselves apart about eating the RIGHT and the WRONG foods. Everything is linked back to "addiction": X makes me feel sluggish, Y causes pain, Z should never be touched. The limits and strictures this person sets on their food consumption are absolutely painful to observe.

So I must break my addiction to this blog.

Now, off to eat such frightening foods as chicken, sweet potatoes, dried fruits, nuts, apples, honey, matzah...Yes, it's Passover!!

Chag sameach to anyone who's celebrating this holiday of freedom.

May we all live in freedom!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Better Health: What It's All About (and the answer isn't dieting...)

Sorry to be so absent. Busy, busy.

I thought it would be worthwhile posting a link to this article, "What if we all just stopped trying to lose weight?", yet another article that skillfully decouples health from weight loss.

The basic idea is that weight loss is a possible side-effect of healthier habits, but that "dieting"--in other words, the conscious reduction of calories or strict adherence to a special way of eating (no sugar, paleo, etc.)--is not, in of itself, a healthy habit. I think, in fact, that the boomerang effect of acting as your own "food police" often causes a lot more bad than good. For the vast majority of people, dieting is akin to holding your breath. Eventually, you have to take in some oxygen, often in great gulps--sort of like bingeing after restriction.

If you're interested in good health, WALK, SWIM, EAT FRUITS AND VEGGIES, LOVE YOUR FAMILY, MEDITATE, TAKE A TRIP TO PARIS (hmm, I know someone who's going to do that pretty soon...). And let the weight settle where it wants.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Food Sobriety"

Once in a while--OK, more often than I should--I check out some very intense weight loss blogs.

Today, I spent a few minutes reading a blogger who proudly announced how many months she has maintained "food sobriety." If it works for her, it's not my business. She seems to be happy. But there are so many people for whom "perfect eating" becomes a constant source of self-hate, because most people just can't stay perfect all the time. I feel for them deeply.

Food: the new danger. Gag me with a spoon (what an appropriate metaphor!).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

End of Year, New Year Post

Over the past few months, I've written a gazillion posts in my head and posted none. So, if I want to keep my blog going, even feebly, I'd better do something before the end of the year.

The impetus for this post comes from Crabby McSlacker's recent post on being fit and fat. Personally, I admit to finding it really hard to walk the talk and accept that I will never look like a supermodel. But then again, the VAST majority of us don't. We just weren't born that way and no matter how much we wish and pray, it just ain't gonna happen! However, what we can do (should we accept to take up the challenge) is eat mindfully and move joyfully. Fitness IS something that most of us have a little more control over.

I've found the past few months really interesting from a weight point of view. One of my readers wisely pointed out that I should not expect the weight loss I experienced after surgery to last. And yes, she was basically right. I might now weigh a pound or two less than my post surgery weight, but essentially, I'm back to where I was weight-wise.

For about two months post-surgery, I just wasn't hungry and ate very little. It's really interesting to just not have much of an appetite. That's not part of who I am. I'm not a voracious eater. I'm not a binge eater. But I like food. I know people who don't really like food--they pick at the food on their plates, they play with it, but they don't eat much. And guess what? They're thin. That's not my thing. I even lost my liking for sweets for about two weeks after the surgery. That was practically an "out of body" experience. I remember looking at a piece of chocolate bread on my plate, sitting at a cafe with a friend of mine who had come to take me out after surgery, and thinking "blech." Wow, it was amazing. However, the distaste only lasted a couple of weeks. This does not mean I now sit for hours stuffing my face with sweets--far from it. But sweets have returned to their special place in my life.

I also remember not being hungry for lunch until about 3 p.m. in the afternoon. And then only having a toasted tomato sandwich, hold the mayo. And feeling completely full until supper. Woah, Nelly. That's just not me.

And now I'm back to my old self, and my old self desperately wants to go back to my old weight.

On the health front, though, there has been a lasting change. I didn't realize the extent to which my knee was affecting my gait and my back. After about two months of on and off back pain after surgery, my back is better than it's been in years. My (operated) hip is not great, but it's no worse than it was before the knee surgery. I have gotten my walking back up to where it was before the surgery (an average of at least 10,000 steps a day, and often more, per week) and I've added biking to the mix. I bike less than I did a month or two ago, due to my hip, but I'm still trying to bike at least twice a week, which is something I could only dream of doing before the knee surgery. In short, I am very, very happy with the knee surgery. And more than a bit relieved!

With this, I wish you all a very happy holiday season, whatever tradition you celebrate.

And a wonderful 2015, filled with good food, and happy movement. Be healthy and happy, one and all!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Twelve Weeks and Counting

Well, I see that it's been about two months since my last post. Lots has happened.

New Knee (aka NewMe) has been busy healing. I'll be celebrating the twelve week mark this Thursday and all I can say is that I've come a long way...and still have a ways to go.

I continue to exercise every day, though a number of the original exercises have been left by the wayside while I've added a few new ones to the mix. I'm now doing two yoga poses, not every day, but quite frequently...just because I now CAN.  They are Warrior I and Warrior II. Let's just say that before surgery, when I bent my affected knee, the crunching sound was not very pleasant. Nor was my knee stable. Now, it's stable as a rock and there's no accompanying soundtrack. When my operated leg is out straight, the hamstring is still a bit stiff, but I continue to work on that. Here are photos of the two poses. First, Warrior I:

and Warrior II:

I'm sure that anyone who's ever had challenges of any kind can appreciate how exciting it is for me to do these poses.

Another exciting activity I practice every day is biking on my stationary bike. Well, exciting isn't totally the right word. Sweaty is more like it. I usually do about 25 minutes and bike 7-8 km. The "before" picture was 1 minute, followed by several days of extra pain. Needless to say, I'd stopped biking. A little aside: I was working out of town last week (more on that below) and went to the hotel gym to use a stationary bike. Unfortunately, all they had were spinning bikes. I didn't realize that these bikes are different from regular stationary bikes. To use one properly, you have to bend over and take a racing position, which is absolutely terrible for me, due to my back issues. So I only did 10 minutes a day, with my arms just hanging down. It was tough.

And finally, I'm back walking. On days when I'm not working, I usually do over 10K steps. Yeah!

Last week, I did my first days of work. It was good to be back in the saddle, but a bit difficult. I can't do a full day of work without making sure I get at least some exercise in. Otherwise, I feel quite stiff.

Now, on to the not quite perfect things. My knee still usually feels like I'm wearing a fairly tight Tensor band around it. It "feels" stiff, although the range of movement is good. Sometimes, it actually hurts and I'm still taking an Advil or two a day. Part of my knee (on the outside) is numb. This may lessen, but it will take time. Although I can walk a lot, I'm still not able to do all the walking I did pre-op. I'm quite sure, however, that by the time I leave for Paris in May, I'll be more than able to walk as much as I want.

My gait--in other words, the way I walk--has improved, but that means my body has to adjust. I therefore am feeling a bit of sciatica as my back gets used to this new way of carrying myself. I see my osteopath once a week and am getting some acupuncture treatments too.

Full recovery takes a year. I've only just begun, as the song says.

What about my weight, you might ask. In my last post, I commented on some surprising weight loss. I usually associate any "easy" weight loss with a malfunctioning thyroid and as I watched my weight drop, I was becoming more and more concerned that my thyroid was to blame. The good news is that my thyroid is fine!!! The weight loss has slowed to almost nothing. I'm really not sure if there's going to be anymore. I am eating slightly less now (I think) and exercising slightly more, though all that biking probably doesn't amount to much more than 120 calories burned. I've lost about 5% of my "starting" weight, which is a trivial amount, but on someone of my VERY petite size, it really makes a difference. Last week, I tried on a dress that was very vavoom...even with a great honking scar on my knee. I didn't buy it, just because I really don't have anywhere to wear it, but it was a fun experience. By that silly measure, the BMI, I'm still fat, but boy am I getting in shape. That's what's important.

My sweet tooth has indeed returned. I manage it exactly as I have in the past: two squares of dark chocolate after supper and the odd small cup of gelato from time to time. We have a terrific gelato place a block from our house:

So, there you have it. NewMe's New Knee update.