Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Got Hysterical

This is only tangentially a food post. It's more a "if I hadn't been so upset it would have been funny" post.

As you know, I travel a lot for work and tonight I'm once again out of town.

Today, I worked in the city and then left town around 3:30 p.m. to go to work at a public hearing on a nuclear energy power plant. The meeting, which I'm working at tomorrow morning, is in a lovely little town that's over 4 hours drive from home when you have to get out of town at rush hour (as I did).

I'm staying and working at a centre that's owned by a union. They hold a lot of training sessions here for their members, but also rent out meeting rooms to outside organizations. The centre is right by the lake and a bit like a cross between a sprawling hotel and a summer camp.

I arrived around 7:30 p.m., very tired and hungry. The reception was closed for supper and I had to wait a bit before someone came to help me. I finally got my room key and was given directions on how to find the building. It was night, the place is full of twisty roads and the map they give guests was totally useless.

Looong story short: I had a meltdown. By this time, the reception was closed. I couldn't find my room, and I was hungrier and hungrier. I went back to the reception desk and buzzed for the maintenance man. By the time he drove over, I was literally in tears and hyperventilating. As I said, it would have been funny if it hadn't been so horrible.The maintenance man was wonderful, although I think I scared him with my tear-soaked face.

It was 9 p.m. before I got something to eat. The restaurant was not fancy, but my 6 oz. steak was perfectly cooked, the salad with balsamic dressing, served on the side, was wonderful and the best news of all is that, aside from the salad, which I polished off, I left a bit of steak, about half my potato and half my roll on the plate. I ate what I wanted, but didn't stuff myself. The only thing I did "wrong" was eat too fast. But man, was I hungry!


Hm. I seem to be seriously on a nutrition kick. Today, I'd like to talk about my protein "aha" moment.

Last week I was on the road for six days at two different conferences. I actually had a lot of free time on three of those days and ended up doing a lot of surfing in my hotel room (yes, I did my yoga and took one long walk too). Via Friend of the Bear, I ended up at a site called At Darwin's Table, a paleo-diet blogger. Although I don't feel the need to follow any particular diet, there is obviously much to learn from my fellow bloggers so I spent a fascinating hour or so watching a documentary on the Atkins diet that he had linked to.

Although overly dramatic for my taste, the documentary looks at why Atkins works despite the fact that you are allowed to eat as many calories as you want of certain foods (proteins, fats and a limited number of fruits and vegetables). I won't go through the whole documentary in detail and go straight what I found extremely interesting. It appears that eating protein leads to satiety a lot faster than eating carbohydrates. If you are not dealing with an eating disorder and are able to stop eating when you recognize that you are full, you will probably end up consuming fewer calories (the only way to lose weight) if you're eating protein rather than carbs.

My "aha" moment came from the fact that I always crave protein when I'm hungry: cheese, meat, peanut butter, whatever. Veggies and fruits alone just don't cut it and sweets don't interest me at all when my stomach's grumbling. I'm happy to eat veggies, but they've got to be accompanied by protein, otherwise I won't feel satisfied.

I have no intention of cutting carbs out of my diet (diet, as in "what I eat", not a "plan"). But I do find this new piece of knowledge useful. What about you?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vitamin D

Recently, I touted the wonders of real salad dressing (no additives, no low-fat crap, just the real deal). Probably a number of you were wondering how I could dare suggest you consciously eat something that contained olive oil AND full-fat mayonnaise. The nerve!

Well, today I'm going to talk about something that won't up your calorie intake but that's really important to your health: vitamin D. (Did I just hear a sigh of relief from the weight-loss blogosphere?)

While surfing some of my favourite sites, I came across a New York Times article that's a must-read. The title, "Phys Ed: Can Vitamin D Improve Your Athletic Performance?", unfortunately does not convey the importance of this vitamin for everyone, not just athletes.

First of all, it's important to realize that many of us suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. It's the sunshine vitamin, so those of us living in temperate climates that have four real seasons, are more likely to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, especially in the winter. But even if you live in Florida, southern California or Australia, you too may be at risk since we tend to stay inside when the sun is blazing down, either due to discomfort or fear of skin cancer (climate change, anyone?).

Vitamin D is essential for bone health. We always think of upping our calcium intake if we've been diagnosed with osteopenia or worse yet, osteoporosis, but Vitamin D is equally important. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get a sufficient amount out of food alone.

I was diagnosed with osteopenia a few years ago and started taking calcium supplements, but only found out a few months ago that I was lacking in Vitamin D. My doctor prescribed 1,000 IU per day but my acupuncturist suggested considerably more. After doing a bit of research on the safety of large doses of Vitamin D, I decided that I could go for 4,000 IU. My most recent blood test indicates that I now am at a normal level. I'm really looking forward to my next bone scan in January. I'm hoping for good news.

Update: Please read this article, that gives much more valuable information on vitamin D. Thank you, Jacqueline!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Thank you, Hanlie, for bestowing upon me the Honest Scrap Award! Where to start? Ten things about me? Hmm:

1. I'm very concerned about social justice and democracy in the world. If we don't all work together, we're going to lose our planet.

2. For six years, I studied full-time to become an opera singer. I did not have a professional career, but it was worth it anyway.

3. I often think that reincarnation is true. If it is true, I was no doubt French in a past life. I wanted to learn French from a very young age although I knew no one who spoke the language.

4. There are three (four?) degrees of separation between me and the man who wrote the theme music for the James Bond movies. He's my cousin's husband's ex-brother-in-law.

5. I am an only child and swore that I would have more than one child unless physically unable to do so. Fortunately, I had two. I absolutely hate being an only child. I was greatly loved but not spoiled. I actually had a lot of responsibility and had to grow up fast because I had no siblings.

6. I love singing soul and Motown music...even more than singing opera.

7. I still cry at the end of "La Traviata" and "La Bohème" even though I've heard these operas many, many times and obviously know that the heroine is going to die.

8. I absolutely adore reading murder mysteries. I love British authors in particular.

9. I did not take my husband's name when I married. I made this decision on principle and also because in Quebec, where I was married, by law a woman must use her maiden name for all legal purposes.

10. I love travelling to foreign countries. I wish I could retire to the south of France NOW!

It's hard to pick just ten bloggers. Some of the people I'd like to hear about have already been tagged, but here are some more names:

1. Francesca at Small Changes
2. JulieBean
3. Spunky Suzi
4. Sean Anderson (I doubt he has the time!!)
5. Jack Sh*t
6. Lyn at Escape from Obesity
7. Fitcetera
8. Carb Tripper
9-10 etc. Anyone reading this should consider themself tagged. I'd love to learn more about you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Salad Dressing

I believe in yummy food. I believe in real food. I do not believe in diet food because in order to remove calories, you have to add chemicals and additives, not to mention lots of sodium in many cases, to make up for removing the tasty ("fattening") bits.

If you count calories (I don't), I urge you to eat real calories from real food. Your body will thank you.

This is my first recipe suggestion and I have chosen it because I love it, it's made up of only real, healthy ingredients, and a little bit can go a long way.

I love salads. All kinds of salads. And I am a snob. I have yet to find a bottled dressing that tastes as good as homemade (mine, my friend Robin's or my cousin's). So here's my recipe. It's old-fashioned in the sense that you have to play around and find the right proportions for yourself. Amounts are very approximate.

Take a small jam jar. Fill it about 1/4 of the way with lemon juice.
Add the following:
1 clove garlic, crushed
a generous dollop of mayonnaise (regular, not low-fat)
about 1/2 a teaspoonful of Dijon mustard (buy good quality)
a little bit of honey (1/2 teaspoonful?--you'll have to go by taste)
a couple of shakes of mixed herbs (try "bouquet garni" or salad dressing herbs)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Shake it all up well and then fill the rest of the jar with good quality olive oil. Shake well again and take your pinky finger (well washed), stick it in the jar and taste. Adjust seasonings, oil or lemon juice as needed.

Practice making it frequently.

As a variation, try balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice. Balsamic vinegar is the only ingredient that I don't insist on being top of the line. The really expensive stuff can be upwards of $40 a bottle. No need to go so far!

If you think all this sounds horribly fattening, think of the alternative: a chemical feast.

You don't have to drown your salad in dressing. The dressing is just meant to "dress up" all the wonderful veggies.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pictures Can Be Deceiving

She's a bit chunky, don't you think? She could probably stand with losing a few pounds. Better for her health, and all that, right? She's 5'2" tall and weighs 140 pounds. You did the BMI calculation and she's ever so slightly overweight. And let's not forget that the BMI is used by all kinds of organizations (including the ever-powerful insurance companies) to remind us of how dangerous and nasty it is to be overweight.

Sorry to tell you this, friends, but if you were half as healthy and in half as good shape as Canadian air force major Meagan McGrath (pictured here), you'd be doing just fine. So far, she's climbed Mt. Everest (2007), completed the Marathon des Sables, a 245-kilometre race in the Sahara Desert (2008), and oh yeah, she saved the life of one of the Nepalese climbers accompanying her down from the summit of Everest. This coming November, she'll be pulling a 285-pound sled loaded with supplies over 1,130 kilometres, trekking from the coast of Antarica to the South Pole.

There were a few other photographs of McGrath in the Toronto Star article on her this past Sunday (paper version). None of them were particularly flattering to the eyes of people who are used to judging a woman's beauty by how thin she is. I admit, to my great chagrin, that just looking at the pictures before reading the article, all I could see was a slightly pudgy woman who apparently liked sports. I cannot tell you how embarrassed I feel over how superficial my first reaction was.

In our quest to lose weight, we often forget two things:
- Thin does not equal healthy. "Thin" just looks right to us because that's the only visual message we get in the media.
- There are all kinds of body types, and all these kinds of body types can be healthy or unhealthy.

I have really searched my soul, and though I can give you all the stock reasons why I want to lose weight (all related to health and well-being, of course), I know that in my heart of hearts, I've always wanted to just look really good. If there wasn't that "carrot" of people saying how fabulous I look, I honestly wouldn't be quite as motivated. There, I've said it. And though I'm not singling out one single person in the whole world, I think that if we're being 1,000% honest with ourselves, looking great and wearing tight pants instead of mumus is the top reason why we want to lose weight. Not the only reason, but one of the top ones.

How many people would chose healthy, strong Meagan McGrath over Kate Moss? When was the last time you saw a McGrath-clone strutting down the catwalk? It's a sad commentary on our world.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just Wondering...

We all know the statistics and they aren't pretty: the vast majority of people who lose weight will gain it back and more. I found this post, where the writer states that the statistics are "bleak" in that 83% of those who lose weight will gain it back within two years. From everything I've heard, that's a pretty optimistic figure. Many people don't give successful losers more than a 2% chance of keeping the weight off permanently (which I think is only defined as five or so years later).

The photo here is of The Biggest Loser's Season 1 winner, Ryan Benson, AFTER his win. He has regained almost all the weight lost.

OK, now that I've depressed you beyond belief or gotten your dander up (not me! I WILL succeed you lousy, negative nay-sayer), here's what I'm wondering about:

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive effect on your weight loss efforts?

And more importantly, do you think the Internet will (or is already) helping you to maintain your new, lighter weight?

Personally, my jury is still out. I've only been on this voyage for 9 months. It's too early to say, though I've really enjoyed making new friends and learning from the experience of others. Taking stock--not every day or even every week, but after a significant length of time--is going to be an important exercise for me. I think the one-year mark is going to be interesting and hopefully heartening. It's the long-term that counts. I don't think that I'm being self-defeating to hope for a long-term, modest weight loss. There are too many of us out there who have accomplished a stunning weight loss several times, only to gain it back. None of us want that.

So, will our little group of merry weight-loss travellers (notice I don't say "warriors" though it is tempting) make it where so many others have failed? And will we feel that it's the support we find on the Internet that has made the difference?

I think my question would make a great PhD thesis. Anyone want to take it on?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Post this on your mirror!

I just found this in an article on the We Are the Real Deal site:

"Treat your body like a friend and your scale like a machine."

Truer words were never spoken.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Do You Eat?

In a previous post (which of course I can't find--at least for now), I asked the question, do you eat when you're hungry? Today, I'd like to talk about how we eat.

Many dieters obsess about what they are eating, how much they are eating, what time of day they are eating (or refraining from eating). However, I don't think enough thought is given to how we eat what we eat.

Recently, as I sat eating breakfast in a hotel dining room and looking around, my gaze drifted to a table of three women. They looked (at least from a distance) to be all of "regular" size--neither extremely thin nor particularly heavy.

What I did notice was the way they were eating: calmly and slowly, putting their forks down between bites, not rushing. They were eating as though they were neither afraid of nor intoxicated by their food.

Until this year, when I started learning about intuitive eating, the only thing I thought would help me to lose weight would be just to eat less. And that's not a false idea. But the way I was trying to eat less was totally unproductive. I would serve myself a small portion of whatever food I was going to eat and proceed to vacuum it up, perhaps not as fast as humanly possible, but quite quickly. And then I felt angry, and I was still hungry and far from satisfied.

The portion may have been right but the method was totally wrong.

It really does take more than a few instants for the "full" signal to get from your stomach to your brain. When you inhale your food, no matter how much or how little, you don't give your brain sufficient time to process what's going on. And that feeling of fullness, which we all eventually get to (even binge eaters and bulimics eventually get to a point where they don't feel comfortable), is reached much, much later than when you eat slowly and consciously.

Cutting down one's energy intake (aka food) will eventually lead to weight loss, especially when coupled with an increase in energy expenditure (aka exercising) but cutting down the amount of food without INCREASING the time it takes to eat that nice, reasonable portion of food might turn your new, healthier eating programme into a nightmare you just can't wait to wake up from and lead to the yo-yo syndrome of deprivation (sometimes for months or even years at a time) followed by regaining the weight.

Eating more slowly and consciously has another interesting and positive effect that goes beyond the quantity of food we eat. You might be surprised at how your food tastes when you take the time to taste and chew it slowly. Addicted to Doritos? Take one, rather than a fistful. Eat it really slowly, give yourself the time to taste it. The salt blast is unreal. The chemical undertaste is disconcerting. Have I learnt to hate Doritos? No. But I'm more aware now of what I'm eating and it is easier to refuse them or at very least, not to gorge on them.

Eating more slowly and letting the brain catch up with the stomach also helps--at least to a certain extent--to curb cravings. I find that when I recognize that I am no longer hungry, the sweets that I love so dearly are slightly less attractive. I did say slightly...I'm not perfect!

I believe that slowing down one's eating and taking the time to taste one's food is almost a pre-requisite for long-term changes in how we eat and how much we weigh. I would go so far as to say that even if you have decided on a particular diet plan (like WW), you should prepare by first slowing down while eating everything that you normally eat. Binge eat, but do it slowly. I suspect it's really hard. Eat what you love, but do it slowly. I think you'll be surprised to see that you'll end up eating less than you expected.

Just my two-cents' worth.

From Cyberspace to Face-to-Face

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Suzi in person at a little cafe in the city where she lives. We had a fantastic chat and the time just sped by. Like Suzi, I could have stayed for hours longer, but alas, I had to go back to work. Isn't it nasty how work seems to get in the way of much more important things?

Suzi's a wonderful person, very caring and intelligent. We talked about our lives, our favourite bloggers (we have several in common), life in general, a tiny smattering of politics, and on and on. I look forward to seeing her again one day.

I guess it can be really great to travel for work--especially when I get to meet kindred souls like Suzi!

BTW, in the true spirit of encouraging each other (sometimes without even realizing it), I managed to get in a little time on the hotel treadmill because of Suzi. I had worked early that morning, then gone to a restaurant for lunch and then done some shopping (a good hand-made broom to clean our back patio and of course, some retail therapy: a pair of pants), but I still had some time to kill before heading out to the cafe. What to do: get on the Internet or get on the treadmill? The treadmill won. Why? Because I knew Suzi was out with her walking group. Thanks, Suzi!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Little Less Blogging

In my neck of the woods, autumn brings with it cooler weather, falling leaves and an insane work schedule. Starting this week, I will be working up a storm and driving to various exciting and not so exciting places in lovely southern Ontario to work at conferences great and small. I'm doing so many different topics, I can't even remember what's what. That's why I have an agenda and a computer, as well as a filing cabinet full of notes on various subjects.

Since returning from vacation, I have tried to blog every weekday and I think I've been quite successful. This pace unfortunately can't continue, at least for the time being.

I do want to just touch base a little bit tonight as I write from my hotel room: I worked all day at a conference and then drove three hours (it took me practically an hour to get out of the city at rush hour) to a conference where I'll be working tomorrow. I forgot to pack some fruit in the morning and ended up wrapping up a muffin from the breakfast they were serving at today's conference to tide me over during my long drive.

Yes, I had the muffin and it didn't taste all that good but I was hungry and I needed some energy to get me to my destination.

Actually, the real "test" was having supper at the hotel restaurant tonight. The waitress brought me several slices of beautiful sourdough bread accompanied by oil, balsamic vinegar and a red-pepper dip. I looked at this beautiful spread and literally told myself to wait a bit because I felt that if I ate it, I really wouldn't have room for supper. I ordered some wonderful liver and bacon, with lightly steamed veggies and mini-potatoes and a small glass of red wine. I actually ignored the bread, with little to no regret, ate all my veggies, a bite of potato, most of the liver, some of the bacon and drank my modest glass of wine. I had a decaf coffee for desert. I made pleasant but intelligent choices. I did not clean my plate, though I could have. I really did eat enough.

Yes, it really is about choices, as Sean Anderson constantly reminds us. Thank you Sean.

Right now, I'm totally exhausted but I'm going to do a bit of yoga and then go to bed. I will be reading your blogs as regularly as possible and blogging when I have the time.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: Born Round

Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater by Frank Bruni is a great read. It's a fascinating, late 20th century look at eating disorders and their best friends, fad diets,as seen through the prism of one American's life.

You may not have a lot in common with Frank Bruni. He's a gay journalist, now in his 40s, who spent several years as the New York Times's restaurant critic after having written for papers in Washington, Detroit as well as for the New York Post. He also wrote a book on George Bush (which I haven't read). You may not be able to connect with his life, but I guarantee that if you have every binged or gone on a crazy diet that has left you screaming for food (or just something other than grapefruit all day), you will find yourself nodding in agreement with Frank Bruni.

Bruni's descriptions of his Italian family's eating dynamics will make you laugh, cry and scream. One story that stuck in my mind was how he described his mother's approach to preparing a holiday dinner for guests. If twenty people were invited she would prepare each dish as if all twenty people were going to make that dish their only food during the meal...twenty full meals' worth of mashed potatoes, for instance!

Bruni always loved food (nothing wrong with that!), but it quickly became an addiction for him. Even as a child, he would consistently overeat and, had he not been a gifted swimmer, he would have grown into a seriously overweight man. Instead, during his young adulthood, he usually managed to keep his weight at a fairly acceptable level through exercise and a series of horrible fad diets and bulimia.

For the most part, the pictures in the book show a normal to slightly pudgy man though he did gain quite a bit of weight on the campaign trail with George Bush but the words betray someone totally and constantly obsessed with what he considered his highly imperfect body. I think that, perhaps because he is gay, his body dysmorphia is very similar to that of most women. I just wanted to shake him for the many times he refused to go out or see old friends because he was afraid they would reject him due to his weight...and then go and binge up a storm to console himself.

The most important part of the book for me was how he described the eating epiphany he had while working in Italy as the Times Rome bureau chief. All around him, he saw slim Italians. Naturally, he tried to figure out why they were so slim compared to most Americans. Was it that they walked more? No, they like to zoom around Rome on Vespa scooters. Smoked more? No, the Italian smoking rate is going down and in any case, smokers or not, they're still slim. Less of a taste for sweets? No, a favourite breakfast food is the cornetto, a sugary, custard-filled pastry, washed down with a sugary cappuccino. And let's not forget one Italy's great gifts to the world, its gelato (ice cream). More exercise? Not that either.

The answer is that they don't super-size anything.

In Italy pasta came on plates, not in troughs, and the amount might not be more than a dozen forkfuls. A roasted chicken was more likely to serve four or even six people than two. [...] I seldom saw them tunneling idly into bags of chips or hauling in nuts by the fistful.


In the end, Italians were generally slimmer than Americans for the plainest, most obvious reason of all.

They ate less.

How beautiful, how elegant, how simple. Think of all the diet books, clubs and programs that would disappear if people just ate normally.

You're probably wondering how Bruni managed to be a restaurant critic in one of the world's food epicentres, New York, without ballooning into a monster. Again, the answer is simple: lots of exercise...and PORTION CONTROL. But I leave the details of his restaurant adventures to Frank himself. Read the book!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blog Awards

I got my first blog award a few weeks ago from Francesca and I'm very touched. Thank you so much!

On the one hand, I do want to spread the love and give out some awards myself, but on the other hand, as others have said before me, it's hard to choose only a few of the blogs I read. Each one is special for a different reason--otherwise, I wouldn't read them in the first place.

So right now, I'm putting off the decision to make a list. I'm reading a lot of blogs and appreciating what people are saying. For now, let's leave it at that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Middle Way

Diane at Fit to the Finish posted a thoughtful piece entitled "Can You Just Eat to Live?". As usual, it was insightful, honest and interesting. I highly recommend you read it.

Her post prompted me to respond with my own thoughts on what I call "the middle way". I am honoured that Diane suggested I post my response here on my own blog:

For me, “eating to live” is the way my father and uncle ate. They were Holocaust survivors, so just having food to eat was good enough. They seemed quite disinterested in flavour, colour or presentation. These were people who had come close to starving to death. Plain food was enough for them.

As I see it, “living to eat” is probably what you describe: an obsession with eating. Interestingly enough, people who binge probably don’t take much more interest in flavour, colour and presentation than my father and uncle did. They just want as much as they can get as fast as they can eat it.

I really strive for the middle way: Food is necessary, but it is also a pleasure to be savoured. It’s hard to eat junk food when you slow down your eating. The chemical back-taste comes through loud and clear and the crap just doesn’t taste as good as you thought when you were stuffing it in.

The European approach to food--eating long, leisurely meals and eating small portions of a variety of delicious things--is much healthier, both physically and psychologically. I realize that in our world, this style of eating can be hard to do. It doesn’t mean, though, that I won’t try!

I see food like interior design. Yes, I could live with a mattress on the floor and boxes to store my books in. Or I could live like a hoarder and fill every free space with my things. I prefer a fairly neat, harmonious environment that is comfortable and colourful. Not always easy to achieve but worth the effort.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Seeing Things Differently

A few nights ago, my husband was watching one of his favourite TV shows, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, hosted by Guy Fieri. It's a really enjoyable show. Fieri travels around the U.S., visiting eateries that are off the beaten track: places that aren't chain food, junk food restaurants, that are family-owned and that make really tasty, down-home cooking.

Now, my loyal readers know that I have nothing against yummy food--far from it. I also really feel strongly about supporting local, family businesses. The "Mc"s, the "Bell"s and the "King"s of this world are the antithesis of what I believe in, both in terms of healthy eating, and good business and labour practices.

So there we were, hubby and I, watching as a fellow named Jamie prepared these amazing sandwiches smothered in garlic (one of Nature's perfect foods, IMHO), and smoked some incredible prime rib in his backyard smoker. The scallop and shrimp dish also looked out of this world. (Apologies to those of you who are not big on meat, lol).

My husband, who has become a major foodie since he began watching the Food Network about 5 years during my long, difficult convalescence from hip surgery, was in foodie heaven. And then, stupid me piped up and burst his bubble.

"Don't you think the portions are bit oversized?" I asked innocently (or words to that effect).

"OK, that's it. I can't watch these programmes with you! You take all the fun out of it!" he answered grumpily.

I went on (I suppose adding insult to injury) to explain that I really loved the show, that it was fun, etc. etc., but I didn't think it was wrong or even took any of the pleasure away if I watched it with a critical eye. This did not sit well with him and I have dropped the issue entirely. There are certain things you have to do to promote "peace in the home".

In past posts I have alluded to my husband's distaste (what an appropriate word!) for discussing--let alone modifying in any way--the way he eats. It's not that he eats particularly unhealthy foods. I would say that over the years he's definitely added more veggies and somewhat more fruit to his daily diet. But together, we have gained enough weight in the past 20 years for it to be quite visible. I have lost some, but not all of that weight yet, while he refuses to even weigh himself once and acknowledge the facts.

My husband has not opposed in any way what I am doing for myself. Nor has he encouraged me. He is a very caring man. always concerned about my well-being after all that I've gone through. But like many men, he rarely discusses things. In his defence, on Saturday, while we were out downtown (tramping around looking for some second-hand boxed CD sets of a TV show that went off the air a few years ago and that we're only now watching and loving), he remarked on how even a year or two ago, he would have worried that I couldn't do so much walking (it was a 10K step shopping trip). The fact that he would actually verbalize this made me feel really good. He rarely says things that are overtly supportive--he's just not one for showering compliments on people. As far as my modest weight loss goes--he's acknowledged it, but only when prompted.

I know that the best way to encourage change in others is to be the change you want to see in them. It's just easier when you're working on it as a team, rather than as a participant and a silent observer.

Ah well. Believe me, my hubby has a myriad of wonderful qualities. He's just not perfect. Neither am I. Nor are you!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I'm not a great consumer of eggs. I like them, I just don't think about eating them very often. However, I've decided to write about them because I've noticed how often my fellow bloggers mention only eating egg whites to keep the calorie and cholesterol count down.

Since I am a proponent of leaving Nature's work alone and not trying to manipulate the food we eat, I decided to do a bit of research.

First of all, an egg (yolk and white) has a total of about 80 calories. I'm mentioning the caloric count not because I personally care but because I know a lot of you out there do. What do you get for these 80 calories? An incredible amount of health value:

W. Y.
Calories 17 59
Fat (g) .06 4.51
Saturated Fat (g) 0 1.6
Carbs (g) .24 .61
Protein (g) 3.6 2.7
Cholesterol (mg) 0 210
Sodium (mg) 55 8
Calcium (mg) 2.3 21.9
Vitamin D (IU) 0 18
Folate (mcg) 1.3 24.8

I found the above table at: Sorry that the formatting is a bit off. That's not my strong point.

As you can see, most of the nutrient value listed above is in the yolk. It's not that the egg white has "empty calories"--far from it. But it makes me sad to think that while so many people are starving around the world, we are throwing out food that is just plain good for you. I'm not trying to use the "clean your plate, kids are starving in Africa" line on anyone, I'm just asking that you think about what you're throwing out. Eggs could add a lot to your health and help to play a positive role in your weight management.

One last little interesting tidbit for women who want to get pregnant: folate (folic acid) is extremely important. And that's one of things you're throwing out with your egg yolk.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Not What I'd Planned

I began changing the way I eat and the way I look at food at the beginning of 2009. It wasn't a new year's resolution. I just started at that point in time.

Eight months later, some things are great and some not so great. I just had confirmation that I suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). Up until recently, the one thing I could always count on, no matter what, was perfect blood pressure. Never too high. Never too low. Two years ago, when I weighed about 10% more than I do now and did less exercise than I do now, my blood pressure was lower. Just goes to show, it's not all in the pounds (or loss thereof). I'm not on medication yet. First, I have to go for an echocardiogram (next week) and I'm also starting to use a meditation/relaxation CD. My life is quite stressful, mostly due to work, so I'm going to see if some help relaxing will assist in lowering the BP. BTW, I do not consume a lot of salt, but will obviously pay even more attention to how much salt is in my food.

I've also been having a lot of headaches recently and my GP has asked me to keep a headache diary. One more thing to worry about.

This is not the post I'd planned to publish today. Usually, I try to use my life as a springboard for a general discussion, but today I'm feeling too stressed to do that. Even learning to use my home BP monitor is stressing me out! There never seems to be a perfect time to check the BP: no eating at least a 1/2 hour before, 15 minutes of relaxation (can I watch TV, can I read, what if the phone rings?), the same time every day (you've got to be kidding). My heart is pounding.

I'm sure I'll get over this self-created stress and get on with things, just as I always do. But in the meantime, thanks for listening.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Looking For the Reasons Why

I had two hip surgeries on the same side, one in 2003 and the second 8 months later in 2004. As I've explained before, the first one did not work out and the surgeon had to start over and re-do it.

I consider my second surgery a success in that I now walk without a cane (my younger son spent the first 10 years of his life seeing mom with her cane), can drive long distances without pain and I don't limp anymore. But the surgery was not as successful as I'd hoped. I can put on my right sock, cut my right toenails and tie my right shoelace more easily now, but that doesn't mean that it's as easy as it is on my left (unoperated) side. There is a huge difference in flexibility between my operated and unoperated sides which I see when doing yoga. I have spent a lot of time on "hippie" sites (where hip replacement recipients meet and greet on the Internet) and I know that many hippies have much better post-operative flexibility than I have. And I ask WHY, WHY, WHY???? Of course, it's hard to get a straight answer from my surgeon. He's a major big-shot in the field and I've tried asking, but have yet to get a straight answer. Maybe I haven't tried hard enough. It's so difficult dealing with big-shot surgeons. My best take on it is that a) there's a lot of scar tissue and b) he probably intentionally limited my flexibility to lessen the chances of dislocation (he's very old-school).

So why I am telling you yet again so much about my hip? Why?

Because I am starting to feel tired of asking why about things.

Why do I just love the taste of food and my (very slim) friend B. can pretty much take it or leave it? Her fridge looks like yours or mine, just before we've finished emptying it out for a major cleaning. Except that that's what her fridge looks like pretty much all the time.

Why is gaining weight so fast and losing it so slow? Why, when my friend R. noticed she'd gained a few pounds, was cutting out chips from her diet for a few weeks enough to lose that pesky weight? Why did she never stress and never see her weight balloon up?

Why do I love sweets while my friend S. can totally live without them? Why does she naturally eat so slowly and calmly and always keep her weight at an even keel?

When I've got a problem, I need to understand why it is the way it is. And generally speaking, I think trying to better understand our world and the world in general is not a bad thing. However, I have a tendency to over-intellectualize my world (as if you haven't noticed!) and sometimes it's no help at all.

So sometimes, in response to all these whys I just have to answer, "whatever", and just get on with life, trying my best to make good choices and giving myself permission to just be me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Really OK

Oh how I harp! I'm a mother, I have to repeat things over and over sometimes so the kids get it.

Alas, my harping tends to extend to my blogging too. Please bear with me.

You can't be "good" all the time! I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's this obsession with never falling off the wagon or going off plan that totally destroys us.

It's a fine balance: staying focused while not beating oneself up over imperfections. Some people need the "kick in the butt" approach. These are the people who do well at boot camp. These are the people who have lived relatively happily with their excess poundage. I don't think most women fit this category.

I know some of my fellow bloggers will jump on me over this blanket statement, but I stick to my guns. Most women are almost constantly appalled at themselves. Most women are quick to call themselves failures after eating one cookie or drinking one mocha coffee. Most women need constant reassurance as well as a reminder that even one pound lost is good. How many people think that a week where they've only lost one pound is a sign of failure? Be honest with yourself. I'm sure that most of us have felt this way much too often.

No, it's not OK to pat yourself on the back because you're going to start eating well TOMORROW. Because that special "tomorrow" might never come. However, it is OK, in fact it's necessary to celebrate each and every good thing you do for yourself and build on each of those little steps you've taken in the right direction. Every day.

Here's one last harangue:

It's your weight, your weight loss and your way of losing weight. Nobody else's. Learn from your friends (in real life and on the Internet), but don't try to do it their way. If you use a weight-loss approach or method that doesn't work for you, it's not your fault. It's just not the right way for you. The diet industry is the only industry that fails most people. And what do people do? They blame themselves for this failure rather than the product! If it were any other product or service we would rightly think it's crap and move on! Think about it.


I just finished listening for the first time to a relaxation/meditation CD I ordered. What was the one phrase that was repeated over and over? "You're OK." The universe works in mysterious ways.

I will be working with this CD for a few weeks and intend to report back. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More Reflexions on the Scale

Yesterday morning, I woke up and thought "Why don't you weigh yourself? After all, it's been almost a week--that's not too bad." Instead, I got up, had my coffee and breakfast (I was hungry) and went to my home office to read some of my favourite blogs and actually do some (money-making) work. I'm glad I made that decision.

If you haven't noticed it before, there's a gem of a URL hidden right at the bottom of my blog list. It's called "Why the Scale Lies", by Renée Cloe. I can't remember how I found this article, so if you're the one who originally linked to it, thank you! I think it's a must-read, even if you are a daily weigher. I actually don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with weighing daily--as long as the number on the scale doesn't dictate the mood you'll be in for the rest of the day or worse yet, as long as the number on the scale doesn't send you off the deep-end and into a box of cookies, a wheel of cheese or _________ (fill in your favourite overeating food, celery anyone??).

I won't repeat the excellent information contained in this article. Please read it. If you need to weigh yourself, it will help you to weigh yourself more intelligently and safely (psychologically speaking).