Thursday, April 29, 2010

For Cat Lovers

This is Jelly Bean, aka "Miss Bean", aka "JB", aka the ee-vil cat. She does look pretty scary, doesn't she?

She can be quite the annoyance. She's never been the same since we renovated the ground floor of our home. It's a constant battle getting her to use her box for Number 2 (since when have I become prudish?). But every time we get to the end of our patience, we pull back and she lives to poop another day.

What we don't do for our furry friends!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't Forget to Sleep!


Here's another reminder regarding the benefits of sleep for weight loss from the ever-interesting New York Times. This is a must read.

I was also struck by one of the commenters, who wisely said,
Interesting the connection with sleep and possibly hormones. I hope this will help calm the negativity and blame directed at fat people. There are still so many things we don’t completely understand about weight loss/management.

There is, indeed, much that we do not understand.

Personally, although I don't believe I'm particularly sleep-deprived--at least most of the time--I feel that the quality of my sleep is not all that it should be. I'm not sure why, but I feel that I rarely sleep deeply. I know that I toss and turn a lot. My husband is always complaining about how all the covers end up on my side of the bed. I also have many mini periods of wakefulness. I wouldn't call it insomnia, but again, it's not deep, restful sleep. Something to ponder. Should I be drinking warm milk before bed?

P.S. And to go along with the sleeping article, let's hear it for napping too! Read this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Easy Rider

OK, I can't bike myself but I found this post thanks to a comment by Zingarella on The Rotund last Friday and I thought it was worth spreading the word.

I just think it's so cool to see people of all shapes and sizes biking. There's a lady in my neighbourhood who's probably well into her 70s whom I often see on her little no-speed bike. And last week, I saw my neighbour J., who's a bit of the neighbourhood busybody (but that's another story), driving by on her bike as I was out for a walk.

So now that the nice weather is really here, enjoy your bikes (with a special tip of the hat to Sean and Zaababy!).

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Taste of Water

Source: Wikipedia (no, that's not me!)

The quality of the municipal water is quite high in my city. There is absolutely no reason to drink anything but water that comes from the tap. Of course, I've been just a brainwashed as most people and tend to drink either bottled water or filtered water from a jug in the fridge.

I also like to keep a few big bottles of water in the house, just in case. As you may recall, in August 2003, a large swath of the North-America suffered a blackout that lasted about a half a day. Here's a CNBC clip on how things went in Toronto that day. Having also gone through the great ice storm of 1998 while living in Montreal, I know the value of having lots of water on hand. Which leads me to today's topic: the taste of water.

Back in the days before I became an assiduous water drinker, if you had told me that the taste of water varied according to its source, I would have thought you were crazy. Now, though I'm not a water snob, I really taste the difference. Since you have to cycle through the water you buy, today I just finished a large bottle of spring water that's bottled by a major grocery chain here in Canada and sold under their name. I really had to push myself to drink it. To my mind, it had a slightly metallic, salty taste. Drinking a number of glasses a day of this stuff was not pleasant. I don't intend to buy any more of it.

I've just switched over to tap water that's gone through the filter. Not bad, even though the filter is long overdue for a change.

Am I the only one who's starting to buy water based on taste?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I read a number of weight loss and fat acceptance blogs regularly and up until recently I have tried to add my two-cents' worth on a regular basis too. But in the last few weeks, I have found myself with a number of ideas and themes swirling around in my head but an inability to put them down on paper.

I try to balance my writing. Although I greatly respect my fellow bloggers who use their own lives as the basis for their blogging, and although I myself often deal with personal issues in my writing, I also like to discuss things in a more theoretical way and take a "big picture" approach to the issues we face. But I think I've had trouble writing recently because the more I try to put aside my personal obstacles, the harder it becomes to say anything. So here goes.

I'm tired. Tired of carefully treading water and knowing that if I try to do more than that, my body will rebel. Lately, I've been seeing people in motorized wheelchairs wherever I go and chiding myself for not being thankful enough for what I have. So I take my nice, leisurely walks knowing that I have expended--if I'm lucky--enough energy to just, just manage to keep my weight from creeping up.

My operated hip has been doing weird things intermittently (I'd rather not go into detail), leading me to be even more cautious with my yoga. My knee will accept absolutely no strenuous exercise. It is severely misaligned and has been so ever since I was a child, so any exercise to strengthen my leg muscles (like biking or using the elliptical trainer--that also have the added value of raising my heart rate and expending some serious energy) will simply hasten cartilage loss and increase bone spurs.

I am going to a specialist to talk about visco-supplementation (i.e. Synvisc), but I don't think it will be that helpful because the misalignment will continue to damage whatever cartilage is strengthened or increased by the injections. I was extremely disappointed in the sports medicine clinic that I went to for a knee brace. I think I really need a kick-ass brace that will cost well over $1,000 and I know that insurance won't cover it since I'd "only" need it to exercise and not to help me walk. I've got to get cracking on finding the right clinic. Maybe the doctor will have some suggestions.

I have the utmost admiration for all the bloggers I read. Whether weight loss warriors or people who have come to terms with the weight they are and aren't trying to make a miraculous change, I see people moving. And it makes me really jealous. Sorry, but sometimes that's how I feel. When bloggers kick themselves for not meeting their exercise goals on a particular day, I just want to scream. Try NEVER, ever being able to do something that makes you break a sweat.

You, over there! Don't feel bad. I'm truly happy for you that you're jogging, or biking, or kick boxing or whatever. It's not your fault that I can't. Just let me blow off a bit of steam. Sometimes you just have to. We all have to.

Especially when it's PMS

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jamie Oliver


So I've caught two episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and I'm torn.

Jamie Oliver's a great guy. He truly loves food and introducing good, healthy food to anyone he can get his hands on. I think (though what do I know?) that he's really sincere. Yes, he's probably making a truckload of money off his show but I remain convinced that his heart is in the right place.

If you haven't seen any episodes of the programme, here it is in a nutshell:

After doing his best to straighten out the abysmal nutrition of his fellow Brits (see: Feed Me Better and Jamie's Ministry of Food), celebrity British chef Jamie Oliver decides to cross the pond and bring his campaign for healthy eating to Huntingdon, W. Virginia, the fattest city in the U.S. This conclusion is based on data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not everyone agrees with the method used to determine this unfortunate distinction, but let's just say Huntingdon's population is not amongst the fittest in the country.

In comes Jamie on his fair steed--or just with his trusty wok, scallions, cooking get the picture--to save Huntingdon from the scourge of high fat, high sodium junk food.

I'm not against the idea, not at all. I think it's pretty tragic when a child doesn't recognize a potato, as was the case in Episode 2. I think it's truly frightening when fresh foods don't stand a chance against pizza in the school cafeteria or when an obese 12 year-old is diagnosed as being pre-diabetic.

What I don't like about the show, though, is how it follows the rules of "reality TV", with its manufactured crises. Last night saw Jamie pitted against a local morning radio show host who was set on basically driving Jamie out of town. But Jamie saved the day, showing the "Dawg" oversized coffins, having the funeral director tell him about how hard it is to cremate an obese corpse, introducing him to a young, obese woman whose doctor had told her that her liver was so damaged (presumably from eating junk food) that she only had a maximum of 7 years to live. The Dawg was properly chastised and got on the Jamie bandwagon.

It was just a tad too manufactured for my liking.

Maybe I'm just fed-up with reality TV in general. As you may recall, I have watched the Biggest Loser once and was totally disgusted with how the contestants are browbeaten into weight loss submission. It clearly makes for great TV. Otherwise the show would have been off the air years ago, but I prefer the truth, not a facsimile thereof. Just like I prefer real food to products that masquerade as food--especially of the lo-cal, lo-fat variety.

So Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution has me torn. I clearly prefer it to the Biggest Loser. I would much rather see thousands of people learning to make real, healthy, tasty food and reach a weight that may not qualify them for the Biggest Loser but is sustainable over the long run than watch a handful of people exercise and starve themselves to reach a goal that is not maintainable for ordinary people leading ordinary lives. I much prefer Jamie's sense of humour to Jillian's barking hatred (which is perhaps laid on thick just for the camera--maybe she's a pussycat in real life).

But in the end, I prefer reality to un-reality TV.

This being said, since Medium is now into re-runs, I'll probably watch Jamie next Friday!

Any thoughts?

Friday, April 9, 2010

So What Does Make Them Different?

Here I was, all set to write my first substantial blog post in quite awhile and Diane at Fit to the Finish went and asked a question that started me writing and writing until I realized that I wanted to deal with the question in my own blog. So, voilĂ's the question and here are my thoughts on it!

Diane's blog post today is entitled "What Makes Them Different?". "They" are those weird people who just don't overeat. To quote Diane:

Perhaps you’ve known people like this, who in an eating situation can just say:

“I’m going to pass on dessert because I’m full,” or may say, “No thanks, I’m done.” When I was obese I’d stare at them like they had lost their minds.

I think that Diane said something really insightful when she then went on to say, "They seemed to possess an internal full signal on their food tank that I thought was missing in my body. I was rarely full enough to say no to food." This, I believe, is at the heart of what makes naturally slim or reasonably weighted (now that's a weird way of putting it!) people different from those who struggle with their weight.

Naturally slim people ARE different from us. They do NOT have any more control or willpower than people who have trouble staying at a healthy weight. They have a completely different attitude towards food. For them, saying "no" is not an act of willpower or superhuman control. Here's an analogy to explain what I mean: When we look before crossing the road and see a car coming, our brain tells us "no" because we know that stepping out will get us hit by that car. There is no effort required. Any sane person would respect the "no" coming from their brain. For someone who has never had issues with food intake or weight control, it's the same thing. The normal "full" signal simply tells them to stop, not to cross over into the zone where they're eating more than they actually need. There's no special mental effort required, just as there's no special mental effort required in keeping your feet on the sidewalk when a car's coming.

Naturally slim or average weight people view food as food. It's not something wonderful and magical that must be seized and devoured at all costs. Yep, if the stuff tastes good and they're hungry, they'll eat it. But the minute their stomach presses the "full" signal, they have absolutely no more interest in it--no matter how tasty or beautiful the food is. Once the empty space has been filled, it is natural and normal for them to say no. What it is NOT is an act of will or willpower.

Babies know exactly when to say no to food. Any parent can clearly see in their mind's eye how an infant strongly and knowingly turns his or her head away from the breast or bottle the minute the full signal goes off. It's nigh impossible to poke or prod an infant into eating any more than what that baby "knows" in an absolutely primal way is enough.

Unfortunately, many of us lose this instinctive, basic knowledge as we grow up. And there are probably any number of reasons for this sad phenomenon.

Many weight loss bloggers come to the realization that they learned at an early age to use food to stuff down their emotions. Eating helps them to deal with difficult issues. However, that is not the case for all of us.

The fact that our Western world is full of easily available, cheap junk food might also play a certain role. Again, though, I don't think it explains everything.

The fact that as a society we move much less than before certainly plays a role. Most of us do work that is more sedentary than it ever would have been in the past. While many of our grandmothers washed laundry in a big pail, wrung it out and then hung it up to dry, we have washing machines and dryers that do everything but fold and put the clothes in the proper drawers. We have electric mixers instead of the old hand mixers, we have cars that take us door to door from home to work. We even send e-mails to our colleagues in the next cubicle rather than taking those 15 steps to go over and talk to them. We have to schedule time on the treadmill because we walk so little.

But above and beyond all these other factors, our collective loss of the ability to hear and respect the "full" signal is, to my mind, the most tragic because it puts all the responsibility for not overeating on the weakest link in the human psyche: saying "no" consciously.

Let me bring you back to my car analogy. The "no" that stops us from crossing the street springs from the primitive brain. Parents instinctively know to stop their children from running out into traffic. If the human race (or any other species) didn't possess that instinct, we wouldn't still be roaming (and destroying, in many cases) the earth. We instill that "no" into our children with a passion because we want them to survive.

However, there are many things that we can say "yes" to without perishing on the spot. Overeating is one of them. It's curious how we're born with a better instinct for not overeating (pulling away from the bottle or breast) than we are for self-preservation (running out into the traffic as a child) and that as we age, many of us lose the former and the vast majority of us gain the latter.

The pure "no" method of weight loss or weight maintenance is, for the most part, doomed to failure. In the short run, many people can say no. In the long run, most cannot say no constantly, consistently and unfailingly for the rest of their lives. If you ask someone who has never struggled with their weight how hard it is to say no to food, they will probably look at you as if you had just sprung another head. Their "no" is instinctive, ours is forced. Their "no" comes from the natural full signal that they feel so keenly. Our "no" comes from a rule book filled with points or calories or a list of "bad" foods.

Let me make one thing clear: If you count points or calories or have a strict list of banned foods and this works for you, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU. Congratulations! You are amongst a very small and elite group. I'm not the one telling you this. We know statistically that the vast, vast majority of people who lose weight do not keep it off. MORE POWER TO YOU IF YOU ARE SUCCEEDING. If it works for you, DON'T CHANGE A THING!

But now that I've strayed really, really far, let me get back to Diane's question: what makes them different is that they have stayed babies. We have not. Sadly, getting back to that blessed baby state is perhaps just as hard as saying "no" forever. Personally, I think the babies have it right. However, it doesn't mean that I have found the holy grail. That's what we're all looking for.

What's your take on things?

P.S. Here is a picture of a "milk drunk" baby. Pure happiness.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Hello friends. I feel really bad about not posting but I've been sick with a nasty cold.

I'm still doing lots of reading and have been trying to find time to watch at least one episode of Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" on my computer. I know I'll have lots to say about that.

Hope to be back soon!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Picky, Picky

Yesterday I was waaay tired. I got in on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) at 1:45 a.m., got into bed at 2 a.m. and was up at 7 a.m. to go to work. Last night was an early night.

Right now, I just want to talk about something I've noticed in myself--something I really like--that came out very strongly during my trip:

I've become a picky eater. If it doesn't taste fantastic, it's not worth eating.

I was staying at a 4-star hotel in the Dominican Republic. There was food everywhere, really everywhere: by the 11 (yes, 11!) pools, down the long hallways, by the beach. Everywhere. And without exception, it was tasteless, mediocre, or just fair. It looked great: lots of colour, lots of vegetables, salads, fish. Everything looked really fresh, but honestly, it was mostly quite tasteless. Even the desserts lacked finesse. They were either overly sweet or grainy or...just not worth eating.

So I walked a lot, ate moderately and had a total of one glass of wine (2 half glasses) and 1 2/3 sweet alcoholic drinks by the pool. I swam a bit, read a lot, enjoyed the sound of the waves as I lay on a deck chair by the ocean, did a smidgen of yoga and of course, worked.

Yesterday, I worked at a fairly swanky hotel downtown. The client provided a buffet lunch...and it wasn't all that good. I didn't eat much. It just wasn't worth it.

Me, a picky eater? I'm shocked. And yes, pleased too.

On the other hand, if you give me really good tasting food, yes, I do have to impose moderation on myself! I will never stop loving food--but it has to be good food, well prepared!

So there!