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Just now, I glimpsed over at the wax paper that just 5 minutes ago wrapped around half of a turkey on rosemary foccacia sandwich from Whole Foods. All that remains now is a sliver of avocado and some lone sprouts. I think I’ll eat it … OK, I just did. Mmmm. That was delicious.
I’m a little bit obsessed with avocados right now — more than I think I’ve ever been in my whole life. I refused to eat guacamole as kid. (I called it “Green Slime,” after the gunk that kids would get doused in on Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That On Television.) Although I love it now, I’ve always kept it — and its plain counterpart — at an arm’s length.
Why? It has been pounded into my brain since I started “dieting” at the ripe old age of say, 10 or 11 years old, that it’s a big, fat no-no. You want to fit into your jeans? Pass on that nutty trail mix. Not a fan of cellulite? Skip the avocado in your salad. When you’re playing the straight-up, old-school diet numbers game — fat equals fat.
But I’m not playing that game anymore. I’ve learned that I have to focus now on eating healthy foods that mainly promote satiety. The best way to do this is by focusing on eating lean proteins, good fats and complex carbs with all of my meals and snacks.
Unsaturated fats do a particularly good job at increasing satiety, reducing hunger and minimally impacting blood sugar. In turn, eating them will stave off an awful feeling I know all too well: the blood sugar crash. It turns me into a wild-eyed, sugar-craving, brain foggy, eventually overeating and incredibly fatigued freak.
While it doesn’t mean that I’m slathering goat cheese and mayo on all my noshes now, I’ve had to quickly get over some of my fat fears. For instance, I’ve started to become less afraid of that avocado I love so much. Less afraid of a shmear of organic peanut butter on my super-duper healthy wheat and flaxseed toast in the morning. Or the handful of almonds as a snack.
Bonus: These once “scary” foods are actually dense in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
I’ve also tended to steer clear of full-fat cheese until now. (Not that I would substitute it for the flavorless, un-meltable fat free kind. Yuck.) That left me in cheese-less limbo … until I realized that a little full-fat or slightly reduced fat cheese in my diet could help my health overall. The truth is, full-fat dairy goes a long way in keeping hunger at bay and even helping with muscle building, thanks to casein protein. Awesome. So, while I won’t be ordering Panera’s Signature Mac ‘n’ Cheese anytime soon (as tempting as it looks), I will throw a slice of sharp cheddar on my turkey sandwich.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this diet change feels foreign to me for awhile. A little piece of me wonders if I’m going to regret pairing my apple with a slice of cheese. I’m trying not to wince when I see 17 grams of fat in 2 Tbsp. of almond butter. I know — crazy, right? But I’m also learning to trust myself more and know that I can handle these foods in small, waistline-friendly portions that can speed up my metabolism while keeping me satisfied. For those reasons — and not to mention the taste bud-related benefits — I’m slowly, but gladly devoted to getting over my fear of fat.
What about you — are you afraid of fat?
A few months ago, I tried making my own kale chips. Because my friend Lisa, who is an actress/health industry pro in L.A. and a fellow healthy foodie, swore up and down that they were absolutely delicious. And I’m always game to try a recipe that is delicious and healthy. But, lo and behold, I burned the heck out of my kale chips. I think I left them in the oven too long, or our oven just plain stinks.
But now, it doesn’t matter! I discovered that I can BUY kale chips that are really delicious! (See, they’re so awesome that I pretty much polished off this here bag to the left. All that remains are kale crumbs.) They’re made from kale and fresh dressing and that’s it. The Rhythm people say that they use a process called “air-crisping” to turn 16 oz. of leafy greens into a 2 oz. bag of kale chips.
As you can see, you can have your kale and eat it, too in “Kool Ranch,” as well as “Zesty Nacho” and “Bombay Curry.” Really, truly I am not joking when I say that the Zesty Nacho flavor is on par with Nacho Cheese Doritos and the Kool Ranch is close to its corny junk food cousin — but of course, minus the fried part and extreme MSG … The only thing is that if you’re hankering for a solidly triangular crunchy chip, these might not be for you. But if you can stand for crispy…well, then you’re in luck! FYI, the Rhythm chips are a wee bit fragile and may turn into crispy crumbs in transit. But then you can just dump the rest of the bag down your gullet. 🙂 They’re only 100-120 cal, 5 g. of fat and hey – 5 whole grams of protein – per 1 oz. serving (2 servings per bag). Not to mention that they also boast the following descriptors: raw, vegan, gluten-free and filled with lutein, which is proven to be great for your peepers and your skin!
For $4.99/bag, you can buy them online here and in Whole Foods locations in the Southwest. They should be popping up in WF locations nationwide by the end of the year.
Do you think you’d try Rhythm Kale Chips?
On Monday night, I watched supertrainer Jackie Warner‘s new Bravo TV show Thintervention. One thing that particularly resonated with me was the situation of 23 year-old client Stacy. She could be me. I kind of was her. Like Stacy, I would chalk up my problematic relationship with food to being Jewish. Like Stacy, I would smirk and think to myself, “Wow, I’m the Queen of Camouflaging my chub!” And like Stacy, I have a hormonal issue that makes it easier for me to gain weight and harder for me to lose.
In the first episode of Thintervention, Stacy discusses one of her major health setbacks with the doc on (casting) call. He says, “You have PCOS, which can make you put on weight… But you can’t let it be an excuse.” For those of you who aren’t familiar, PCOS is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, an endocrine disorder caused by lifestyle and/or genetic factors and typically marked by resistance to insulin (a hormone that governs carbohydrate metabolism). Interestingly, 1 in 27 Ashkenazi Jews (myself included) have an adrenal disorder called Non-Classical Adrenal Hyperplasia, which mimics PCOS. I’d be interested to see if Stacy has been tested for NCAH, since she, like me, is a young Jewish woman.
Either way, PCOS affects as many as 30% of women total. And it clearly has a detrimental effect on weight. From what I can gather from the doctors I’ve seen and the info I’ve read on my own, research on the matter right now is kind of a chicken or the egg situation. Do lifestyle factors make you gain weight and in turn, worsen symptoms of PCOS (or NCAH)? Or does living with these conditions cause you to not as effectively store/burn calories? Based on my own struggles, I tend to think it’s more of the latter.
That’s not to say that women who suffer from either problem can’t lose and keep off excess weight. It’s just incredibly difficult. There are a couple of nutritionists who advocate a low GI diet, which is pretty much just a high fiber/low-fat/lower-carb and limited sugar diet. And some experts recommend women with PCOS work out for at least an hour a day, at least 5x a week. Sure, if you’re being trained by Jackie Warner on a Bravo reality TV show, that time commitment is nothing. But for most mere mortals, that’s a serious chunk of time.
I’m just saying I feel like there’s really not much research and health information/guidance out there for women living with PCOS and especially those with NCAH. Especially when it comes to weight management. And that’s definitely frustrating.
But it was great to see someone on TV come out as dealing with it in her effort to shed pounds, and I can only hope that might drive some awareness about the problem. That way, hopefully more women start asking questions and getting answers about how they can follow a weight-loss program that fits their specific health needs—instead of being told they should just suck it up and struggle to succeed on a One Size Fits All plan.
What do you think?
By Carey Purcell, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic
In our culture of instant gratification and crash diets, it’s not surprising that reality TV star Bethany Frankel’s post-baby diet secret is to “Taste everything, eat nothing.”
My response can be summed up quite concisely: Ugh.
First, I’d like to address how ridiculous these “post-baby body” stories are. They’re everywhere, and they’re infuriating. Average women shouldn’t hold themselves to these insane standards. They’re just not realistic. And what’s more, they’re not healthy. These movie stars who drop 30 pounds in three weeks have personal chefs, personal trainers, and hours of free time every day to exercise. Who in real life has that luxury? I am not married, have no children and yet, I struggle work an hour of exercise into my life every day. If you don’t have the same resources as these wealthy celebrities, don’t have the same expectations as them.
Second, is it just me, or does Frankel’s advise sound, um, awful, to anyone else? The idea of eating nothing is not my idea of an enjoyable, healthy life, even if it would mean I’d be photographed in a “teeny turquoise two-piece” bathing suit for a trashy tabloid magazine. Why do celebrities, if you consider Frankel to be one, consider food the enemy? Why is it something that has to be avoided at all costs?
Food is not the enemy. As a former Weight Watcher, I struggled with my relationship with food for years and maybe I would have tried Frankel’s method myself. But now, after achieving a healthy weight and maintaining it for six years, I find Frankel’s mantra to be disturbing and dangerous. Food should not avoided and feared. The sensual and nutritional benefits of food should not be hampered by the PhotoShopped covers of grocery store shopping lane tabloids. (Another reason why I love Trader Joe’s! No magazines there!)
One of the crucial lessons I learned while losing weight was that food should be a pleasurable part of life. Food should be enjoyed. Food should be savored. If you want a treat, you can have a treat. You don’t have to run screaming from a piece of chocolate cake. Just work it into your healthy eating plan for the day or even the week by eating a healthy, vegetable-filled meal or add a bit of extra cardio to your workout the next morning. And if you’re going to have that treat, enjoy every bite of it! Don’t feel guilty. Don’t think, “I shouldn’t be eating this.” Take small bites, chew slowly. Savor it. These are “Naturally Thin” rules to live by. It makes me think … if she really wanted to stay true to her healthy living agenda, Bethenny would have been better off saying, “Don’t eat EVERYTHING; just enjoy everything you eat.”
Carey Purcell is self-confessed health junkie with an intense sweet tooth that she satisfies with small pieces of organic dark chocolate and large amounts of fresh fruit. Her workouts vary between yoga, Cuerpaso and simply commuting from the Upper East Side to Tribeca every day. She is the editor of MindBodySanctuary.com and a frequent contributor to the Health and Wellness section of Alternet.org. You can read her writing or contact her at CareyPurcell.com.
We all know it’s not smart to reach for a Twix when you’re tweaking out over impending deadlines. Or to retreat to a pint of Rocky Road because your life feels like one. But, what about in reverse? Is it OK if your favorite foods make you feel a certain way? I personally can’t help but associate various emotions with some of my favorite foods. Likely because I associate these foods with pleasant memories. But, I think it’s perfectly natural. Here, from little blue fruits to bigger blue scoops, a few, healthy summery foods that have the keys to my heart.
I can’t walk into Whole Foods without picking up 2 pints of blueberries. I mean, it’s 2 for $5. It’s not just a tasty, tart fruit I’m buying. With every handful, I’m getting a dose of sentimentality. Growing up in the Chicago ‘burbs, my family and I would vacation about an hour and a half north in South Haven, Michigan. The lakeside town is where my great-grandpa owned a farm and my grandma went to a little red school house. It’s known for its homemade ice cream (Sherman’s), lighthouses and fruit farms, many of which grow blueberries. When I was little, my parents took us to the “U Pick” blueberry farms, so we could wander the fields and well, pick our own. We’d come back to Chicagoland with crates of berries. (I have a feeling we didn’t pick all of them. Sneaky parents!) I miss South Haven, but I still inhale pints of blueberries all season long. Health bonus: Everyone knows blueberries are packed with antioxidants. They even make you smart!
Tzatziki chills me out
If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know that the Windy City is home to a large Greek population. I grew up with a lot of Greek friends and often dined out on Greek fare. I’d dig into a chicken gyro at Mindy’s BBQ or sit down for dolmades and baklava at Greek Islands. But, to this day, my favorite Greek meze (appetizer) is tzatziki, made of strained Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, EVOO and lemon juice. It’s creamy, it’s cooling and it’s just plain delicious. Pair it with warmed pita or souvlaki chicken, and I’ll be in bliss. I mean, who needs ouzo anyway? Health bonuses: Greek yogurt is packed with filling protein and cucumbers are said to remove accumulated pockets of old waste material and chemical toxins. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and boosts immunity.
Ice cream brings me joy
It just does. Second to chocolate, ice cream is the food that I would confess my undying love to. I’m especially partial to homemade, Mom and Pop-style ice cream. Maybe that’s because I remember eating scoops of drippy, delectable blue moon at Sherman’s (in South Haven) with my family. And key lime pie cones at Oink’s (in New Buffalo, MI) with my best friend. In Palos Park, friends and neighbors would stand in line at The Plush Horse for peppermint or peanut butter chocolate. My college friends and I would congregate for cookies and cream at J.P. Licks on Newbury Street. This past weekend, I begged Dan to go to Van Dyk’s in Ridgewood. I pouted, he caved. I had a cup of mint Oreo. With chocolate sprinkles. What can I say? Ice cream equals frozen happiness. Health bonus: A hefty dose of calcium, which helps control blood pressure, reduces the risk of colon cancer, puts a damper on PMS, and may lower the chances of developing kidney stones.
No, not in that way. Although, if it was made with oysters, I guess it could have a libidinous effect! I just love the colorful presentation of sashimi, sushi and maki. Even if it’s served sans fancy sushi boat, raw fish wrapped in seaweed and rice reminds me of evenings spent giggling with my little sister and friends. There’s so much anticipation involved in a sushi dinner. Is that spicy tuna going to burn my tongue off? How does sweet mango mix with fresh tuna and creamy avocado? If you’re lucky, the flavors dance together on your tongue. Health bonus: Salmon and tuna in rolls provide omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Wasabi could be anti-carcinogenic.
What summer foods make you warm and fuzzy?
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In honor of the impending weekend, let’s talk about: DRINKING!!! Whoo! Quick Disclaimer: If you’re under 21, don’t drink. OK, now that we have that out of the way…
I don’t watch any of the Real Housewives, because I don’t really care for reality TV dramas involving whiny rich people (with the exception of Tori Spelling, because I’m a 90210 junkie). So I didn’t know who Bethenny Frankel was, until I heard from my sister that it was she who invented Skinnygirl Margarita, a pre-mixed margarita that is all-natural, free of high fructose corn syrup and low-cal…
Let’s backtrack, shall we, for a wee bit of history here: My sister, Emmie, my mom and I ARE OBSESSED WITH Mex/Tex-Mex cuisine and margaritas. We make our own from-scratch salsa and guacamole. My boyfriend, Dan and I love going to a restaurant in Paterson, NJ called La Hacienda with our friends, primarily because they have frozen margaritas that are insanely knock-you-on-your-butt amazing. (The food is killer, too.) If I had to have only one alcoholic beverage for the rest of my life, it would be a margarita. But, sadly, most restaurant margaritas are insanely high in calories and sugar. What’s more, many are made with premixes that are filled with horrendous-for-you chemicals and preservatives, like high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, glycerol abietate (huh?) and FD&C Yellow No. 5. Eww.
Knowing that a homemade margarita (lime juice, triple sec, 100% agave tequila) is healthier, Em and I have done it. But it’s definitely time-consuming. Being that we’re busy gals, pre-bottled Skinnygirl Margarita—made only with quality tequila, a hint of agave nectar, lime juice and triple sec—sounded right up our alley.
We proceeded to hunt down the nearest bottles of the stuff in our respective areas (she’s currently at school in Tallahassee, I’m in Northern Jersey). When her boyfriend managed to find it first, she texted me…
Em: Matt got me skinnygirl magarita!!
Me: Did you try it!?!
Emmie: Yah! Its good. Not sweet enough though but thats cause its low cal
Me: Aw – I wanna try.
About a week later, I found it at our ShopRite Liquor store—$15 for a 750 ml bottle. A little steep, but when it comes to quality—and hey, even “better-for-you”—liquor, you can’t be cheap, right?
I text Emmie: I found skinnygirl!! Gonna try!
Me: Was it worth it?
Em: I like it. Refreshing and no fuss – and not too sugary, ya know. dont have to worry about disgusting synthetic stuff
(An hour goes by. I’ve bought it, and I’m now at home.)
Me: Mmmm!! I love it!
Em: You got it?
Me: Yes and just had a sip haha (Straight from the bottle, FYI.)
And yes, it is yum! I do love it! To me, it tastes just like a real, on-the-rocks margarita you’d get a restaurant. But I love knowing that there’s nothing creepy in it, and I appreciate knowing that it’s relatively low in calories and sugar. So, thank you, Bethenny Frankel – you get four thumbs up from the Brown sistahs!
However, if your summer beverage of choice errs more toward a lovely chilled white wine (which clocks in at about 110 calories per standard 5 oz. serving) and/or sangria (which may be more like 200 calories), I highly recommend Conundrum. Whole Foods was heavily promoting this California white wine when it caught my eye. The wine guy at my local WF assured me that it was worth every penny of the $18 price tag, and then after I brought it to a BYOB sushi restaurant on a group date, my friends strongly agreed. A proprietary mix of Sauvignon Blanc grapes, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay and Viognier, initially, it’s almost too sweet, but then you find that it is actually really balanced. Friends and I agreed that it would be delicious in white sangria. I am gonna have to try that at some point soon!
And last, but not least, when it comes to light beer…
Oh so serious beer drinkers will poo-poo most light beers as “watered down” or even “undrinkable,” but when you’re concerned about calories, light beer is often a reasonable option. But I tend to agree that regular Bud Light tastes like drinking beer-flavored water. Bud Light Golden Wheat, on the other hand, tastes like the light version of my favorite regular beer, Blue Moon. I actually don’t know why they haven’t made a Blue Moon Light, because that would be even better. But at least now, we’ve got BLGW – which is citrusy, slightly sweet and awesome. Bud Light Lime is also refreshing and has that margarita-ish kick to it that I love. Also, believe it or not, I tried MGD 64 recently…not bad! For a one-point beer, I’d definitely buy it again.
But no matter which spirit you select, remember kiddies: drink responsibly! 🙂 And FYI: some health benefits of drinking (in moderation).
I feel like ranting a bit. There’s a radio DJ who I often have the misfortune of listening to while driving to work. In the past, I tuned in while she was whining about how she was once in a cab, and she was like, so busy BBMing on her Blackberry, and all of a sudden, she went flying into the window divider between the front and back seats. Because, “Like, WHO wears a seatbelt in a NYC cab???” I do! (When you’ve had your front teeth knocked out of your face in a car accident, while sitting in the back seat, you realize what a difference a seat belt makes.) I couldn’t believe that this DJ was whining about seat belts to a wide audience, which may have included impressionable youngsters tuning in on their drive to school. From that point on, I was completely annoyed by this chick.
The other day, inbetween Maroon 5 and “California Gurls,” she starts giggling about how, “Oh muh G, I don’t cook! Like I totally don’t cook…” And then she gushes that even heating something up in a microwave is a big deal for her.
This jogged my memory of a discussion that a friend and I had several months back: Girls we knew who seemed to think that others should find it endearing that they haven’t a clue what a spatula is. That they think that making a simple salsa is hardcore complicated gourmet. That their ovens are only good for storing Louboutins…as if they came up with that—not the Queen of Anti-Domesticity herself, Carrie Bradshaw.
This isn’t a city girl vs. suburban girl thing, but I do think many Anti-Domestic Princesses happen to live in the city and use their cramped apartments and chaotic work/social lives as excuses not to surf around on Epicurious instead of Menupages.com. However, not every 20-something professional chica in NYC knows more about her smart phone than her stove. My old roomie in SoHo often went for runs after work and then made herself incredible, protein-packed vegan dinners. And my friend Carey, who lives in Manhattan, works for several publications and still manages to somehow prepare three healthy meals a day. She says it saves her money, and bonus: she knows what she’s eating!
Therein lies the power of cooking for yourself. It’s not anti-feminist or hip urbanista behavior. Knowing how to use your oven is not giving in to some 1950s, subservient, Leave It to Beaver social trap to DIY in the kitchen. It’s empowering, because when you make your own meal, your health (and your wallet) is in your hands. Admittedly, when I was a single girl living in Boston, L.A. and NYC, I was a huge fan of takeout, delivery and going out to dinner with my friends or dates. I probably spent more money on eating out than anything else, except, well, maybe sundresses. (I have a penchant for sundresses.) But guess what? I regret it! I don’t regret every delicious meal. No, some maki special deliveries, Poquito Mas carry-out trips or Toast to-go runs were totally worth it. But not caring enough to learn how to make myself a healthy lunch or dinner on a regular basis stripped me of cash and left me at the mercy of the sushi chef or burrito guy. While leading that takeout-frenzied city life, I also fell off the bandwagon with Weight Watchers and gained back about 18 lbs. of my hard-won 40 total lost. Thinking back to the all the Washington Square Park falafel pitas and Bleecker St. ahi tuna burgers, I’m shocked that I didn’t gain more.
These days, Dan and I cook dinner just about every night. We definitely get bored with the same old recipes. But that’s when I go online and do some research (one of my fave things) or talk to my friend Lisa about what she is making lately (she gave me a killer marinade recipe this past weekend) or buy rainbow kale, because we’d never eaten it before and need to mix it up in the greens dept. Yeah, we spend a significant amount of our paychecks on some organic produce and antibiotic-free, hormone-free meat. But it’s still less than what it would be if we were ordering out every night. And I also think that we’re saving money in the long run, because there’s a high price for the scary health consequences of eating cheaper, processed or pesticide-laden food. Also, because we cook every night, we have the extra cash and calories to go out on a Friday or Saturday night for a really delicious meal with our friends, at a restaurant like our new favorite Greek place in Bloomfield that is out of this world.
The best part: It feels like I’ve accomplished something when I make a souvlaki pita myself or when we’ve made a grilled vegetable casserole together. I’m capable. I’m in control. And hey, I am honing my kitchen skills! No, I’m nowhere close to being a Top Chef. But I’m taking care of myself, which I’d venture to say is one concept that will never go out of style.
Do you cook?
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Gina Guarino has been overweight for the majority of her 27 years. It’s been a long, sometimes uphill journey, but she recently lost 85 pounds by following Weight Watchers and adopting a fitness regimen that her high school Phys Ed teacher once told her she’d never be able to do. Nonetheless, Gina still copes daily with her body image, weight-loss plateaus and staying on track. Her successes and her struggles are what makes her, in my opinion, an everyday heroine. Healthy weight loss and positive body image go hand-in-hand. But for many of us, like Gina, who have battled both for most of our lives, weight and body image harmony will always be a work in progress. Gina talked about her personal progress with The Body Logic…
The Body Logic: How long have you struggled with your weight and relationship to food?
Gina: My weight issues started as far back as I can remember, since I was probably 6 years old. I was always eating seconds or thirds (and trying to keep up with my father and two older brothers), so the weight just kept packing on and packing on. Because my mom tried to control my eating habits, I would just go to bed so hungry all the time. But then, I would actually hide food under my bed, in my closet, in my dresser, so that when I went to bed I had comfort food, and I went to sleep happy. I even remember getting up when my parents went to bed and very quietly I would go into the kitchen and make Toll House chocolate chip cookie batter (over time, I memorized it and got very good at being quiet and very clean, so it was not noticeable) and just sitting up in bed watching movies and TV in my bedroom until the whole thing was finished. Food was a big comfort for me back then, it was really my only true friend.
What were your first attempts to lose weight?
Gina: In junior high, I experimented with weight loss pills of all kinds, laxatives, a friend’s mother’s prescription of Fen-phen, and I also went as far as becoming bulimic to lose the weight. I remember joining my very first real weight loss plan the summer of my junior year: Richard Simmons. It was rough to stick to, and I lost about 35 pounds just in time for my senior prom. But I don’t remember even being happy with the weight loss. I was still a size 14, which to me back then was obese compared to other girls at school.
How did your struggles progress into adulthood?
Gina: After high school, I worked as a waitress at night and on the theatre circuit, auditioning during the day. The weight gain started right away. I was eating at work constantly, and I was eating on the go much more frequently, as well. I became a fast food junkie. Before I knew it, I was 20 years old, and I had ballooned up to about 210 pounds and I was a size 18/20.
My best friend and I decided to join Weight Watchers. I was very dedicated, and I ended up losing 47 pounds. For the first time, I was in a size 10. When we both had gotten comfortable with the program, we decided to stop paying every week and do it on our own. Bad idea. Within a couple months, the weight started packing on again. Soon, I was bursting out of my 18/20 and had to buy size 22/24 pants.
Was there a “a-ha” moment, a turning point that turned things around for you?
Gina: I was in a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and I remember that costume week was the worst week of my life. They could not find any costumes to fit me. My doctor said that I was borderline diabetic, and my weight was a whopping 287 pounds. I had a meltdown and decided something had to be done. I decided to give Weight Watchers another try; and this time, I was even more dedicated than the first time. I began losing, and after I hit the 50 pound mark, I just remember thinking, I don’t want to stop now, I can do so much more, and I accomplishing so much. I will never be the weight I was ever again. And from that point on, I stuck to the plan.
What do you like most about Weight Watchers, compared to other plans you’d tried?
Gina: I could buy my own at the store if I wanted to, I could still eat out, not feel I was on a “diet” and I could still cheat here and there and have snacks when I felt the urge. Weight Watchers just seemed so much more natural than the others, something I could follow for life and not just for a few months or a year.
How have you dealt with weight-loss “pleateaus” during your Weight Watchers journey?
Gina: I have plateaued twice. I was hardly working out in those first 50 pounds—it was all just eating right and cutting my portion sizes. I decided after about two months of no loss, I had to do something. So I started doing aerobics at home, going to the gym sometimes and walking. That helped jump start my metabolism again to break the plateau and lose another 37 pounds.
The second plateau happened to me about five months ago. My body just stopped losing all together. But a friend of mine who has lost over 60 pounds was on this running kick, and she really wanted me to start running with her. I’ve always hated running—did not want to run unless I was being chased. But she told me it will help and encouraged me to just give it a chance.
One afternoon, I joined my friend for a run, and I told her to cut me some slack and take it easy. We literally would just sprint from point A to point B and then walk, sprinted then walked. I didn’t exactly enjoy it or want to keep doing it. I just knew running wasn’t for me. In high school, my P.E. teacher told me that “fat girls can’t run,” and ever since then, I believed it.
Even though you hated it, what made you decide to keep trying?
Gina: My friend told me that she was going to do a half marathon. She really wanted me to just try to do a mile straight through without stopping, staying at an even pace. I only agreed, because she was my friend, and I knew I needed exercise anyway. So, we went to this indoor track, and I had my iPod, and I said to her, “One mile, then I am done.” So, I was running around this track at a good pace and listening to music, feeling a little winded here and there and walking a bit, and before I knew it, my friend turned the corner and held up 5 fingers. “5 miles!” I was shocked! I just ran 5 miles? Oh my God?! So, I figured that since I wasn’t dying, I could keep going. Before I knew it, she said, “7 miles!” Except for the fact my body could hardly move the next day, I felt great! I became addicted to using an outdoor track that’s not far from my house. I enjoyed being outside in the nice weather, while doing something wonderful for myself and my well being.
How has your body image changed since you’ve lost weight and started running?
Gina: Well, I will be honest. I still see myself as a fat girl. There are still times when I walk into a clothing store and head straight for the plus sizes like I am on automatic pilot, cause that is still in my head. I do know I look better than before, and I feel so much healthier, but I still have a really hard time appreciating the work I have done and looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m happy.”
What do you think about using the scale as a measure of success?
Gina: Scales are the devil. When I was a dedicated Weight Watcher, I only weighed myself at my meeting, once a week and didn’t even own a scale at home, and I had no problems. The minute I decided to do it on my home with a home scale, it made me go nuts. I found myself weighing myself when I got up, after work, after I ate, before I went bed. Every chance I got! After a couple months of that, I knew I had to either hide the scale or get rid of it. I told my boyfriend to hide it and only bring it out to me once a week. The best thing I ever did! I have come to the realization that the number on the scale should not bring happiness. I need to take my own advice, and be more happy with how my clothes fit than what number I see on the scale. Success should be measured on how you feel, not what size you wear, how much you weigh – but, it’s hard to think that way with how programmed we are to look at the number.
What keeps you motivated to stay on track, to keep running and pushing yourself even further?
Gina: How I want to see myself and how I want to feel in the future. I don’t want to be 30 in the next couple years and be unhappy with everything I wear and every time I look in the mirror. I also think about how unhappy I was when I was almost 300 pounds and how I never want to get that big again. Feeling healthy and more vibrant helps, too. Also, I’m motivated by friends around me who have lost a significant amount of weight and are working hard toward their goal.
What would you recommend to a girlfriend who is frustrated with her weight or is struggling with a plateau?
Gina: I would suggest digging deep to figure out where the weight gain came from. What makes you eat at 1 a.m.? What makes you go up for the second or third plate? There is a lot of self-searching that comes along with losing weight. It’s more than just changing your eating habits. It’s changing your life for the rest of your life – a complete lifestyle change. And you also have to make sure that you are ready for it and that you want it for you. No one can make you or help you lose weight but you.
Struggling with a plateau is hard. What I can offer is that you can’t nuts over the gain-lose-gain-lose process, it comes with the territory. You just need to keep pressing forward. Do not let it bring you down and hinder your success.
You can read more from Gina on her personal blog, Are We Ever Thin Enough?
Happy Friday! I’m having one of those “May I please just go lay around and read a fluffy rom-com-ish novel?” moments. Oh, rrrright, that’s because that’s what a summer weekend is all about! Also, the rom-com-ish novel I’m reading (Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer) has me thinking about baking…and chocolate. Yes, yes, we know I like chocolate. But I’ve yet to explore my affinity for chocolate cake! You see, I have a mother who went through a phase (around 2003-2006, approximately) in which her ultimate goal was to discover, taste and analyze The Most Amazing Richest Out of this World Orgasmic Most Bestest Ever Chocolate Cake. My sister and I were her cohorts on this mission, and we scoured far and wide (mostly just yuppie restaurants in Greater Chicagoland and Southern Florida) for this fabled dessert. I can’t really put my finger on what, if any, chocolate cake made the cut during our quest… I just know that we ate a lot of dessert. And, to this day, a heavenly piece of chocolate cake is one of my favorite things. That’s why my eyes and taste buds perked up when I stumbled upon this “5 minute chocolate cake recipe” on Instructables.com. I often bake up a box of brownies, but psh, that takes more like 10 minutes of prep and then, you have to wait for them to bake in the oven for almost a HALF HOUR. Sheesh! That’s kind of a long time when you’re hankering for a moist, hot, baked chocolate good. (Drool…)
Anyway, in Sweet Love, the main character, Julie, takes a fancy dessert cooking class and learns how to make sweets like almond scented white chocolate sauce over mixed berries. As Mom would say, Oooh-fah! So you can imagine, reading about that had me itching to bake something decadent. But, as always, I had a calorie conundrum. Well, in Sweet Love, the French chef snaps at a woman who wants to substitute skim milk in one of his OMFG Recipes that in his native country, “Dessert is meant to be enjoyed in small portions.” Therein lies the beauty of this single serving chocolate cake recipe. I don’t think the fancy chef would approve of the 5-minute microwave method, but who cares? I like any foodie idea that saves me time. I think I’ll try it, and maybe you would like to, also…
Have a delicious weekend!
UPDATE (6/14/10): Upon experimentation this weekend, a friend and I concluded that this promising recipe is kind of…well, crap. Mine turned out dry, crumbly and bitter. Hers turned out bland and even by adding more sugar, she couldn’t get it to taste sweet whatsoever. And so the search for a quickie, killer chocolate cake recipe continues… In the meantime, if you’re interested in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, try this one from Weight Watchers. It’s my go-to for cookies, because they’re fast, chocolatey, and because they’re small, you get a lot of bang for your calorie (or Weight Watchers Points) buck. In fact, because I was so disappointed with the five minute chocolate cake, I baked a batch of these last night. They were delicious and cute, too.
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Back to work after a not-long-enough but rejuvenating weekend… Activities included, but were not limited to: Shopping the Nordstrom Semi-Annual Sale and scoring some sweet deals on sunglasses and sundresses, enjoying some heavenly meals out, including a Thai dinner and a Hawaiian taco lunch by the shore, soaking up sunshine at the beach and boardwalk at Pier Village in Long Branch, NJ, hanging out with friends by a fire pit, drinking delicious pinot grigio with my boyfriend’s wino boss and his family, and even some organization (e.g. I finally got around to swapping out sweaters from my closet and replacing with my summer wardrobe!)
Neurotic confession time: After a long weekend, I always seem to wish that I had gotten more done. Maybe I could have blogged, or straightened up another area of our apartment, or worked on another aspect of my writing, or maybe finished reading a book? (I just started this one, actually.) But enjoying the company of loved ones and taking the time to relax is getting something done. It’s integral to wellness and peace of mind. And by the way, not exactly a bad way to get the summer started! I plan to continue to strive to strike that balance…prioritizing time-management and projects that I need to get done, of course, but also dismissing any feelings of guilt that crop up when I’ve slept in a bit longer than I planned, when I’m playing more than working, or when I’m actually feeling that elusive concept…carefree! Yes, sometimes, when I’m carefree, I think, “OMG, what am I forgetting to worry about right now?” What can I say? This may just be what living in fast-paced, workaholic Greater New York City does to a girl. haha
On a “Summer Resolution”-related note: It has been more than a month since The Body Logic hit the Web, and I’d love to know what you want to read about in the coming weeks. I have lots of ideas, but I’d really love to be providing the content that you’re going to benefit the most from. So, here’s a little poll that I hope you’ll participate in…
Feel free to leave additional comments on the poll or on this post!
Thanks so much! xo
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