June 22, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved!
If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”
[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this third entry, I'm focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]
Since today was the first Sunday following my Total Health course (and I promise–that’s the last time I’ll mention it!), I realized it was time to resume my regular Progress Tracker entries.
It’s been nine whole weeks since I had a regular Sunday weigh-in, so this morning, I donned my sweats and and finally returned to the workout club (Well, hi again, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! I’m back, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets! I actually missed you, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts!).
After completing various stretches and weights, I performed the official post-course, ritual weigh in. And the result? After NINE WEEKS of eating healthfully and stepping up my exercise routine (literally–I’ve doubled the amount of walking I do each day since the osteopenia diagnosis), I lost. . . . are you ready for it? Okay, here goes. . . . I lost. . . . FOUR POUNDS.
Yep, four. Quatre. 4. Vier. Quattro. IV. Tessera. FOUR!!!! In nine weeks.
Lovely, no? That’s just under half pound a week. Okay, I suppose that’s not awful considering that the goal of the course was not to lose weight so much as to learn about healthy eating and to undergo an attitude adjustment in that area. During the course, I consumed just as much (healthy) food as I wanted to and never deprived myself in any way (except during the cleanse week, obviously). What this means is that I am now exactly back where I started when I began this blog–with 40 pounds to lose to reach my goal. And while I do feel better since taking the course, that’s simply not acceptable. Nope.
And so. . . I’ve decided to take up the challenge offered by Gizmar from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, who wrote in her recent comment: “Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet – I want to lose some weight – I challenge you to a slim down!!!” Giz, you’re on! Ah, but how much weight? And in what time period? I will contact you so we can work out the details. But for now, I’ve decided, it’s time to get serious! (Again). Watch out, excess avoirdupois! Take a hike, jiggly thighs! Run for the hills, cellulite! I am on a mission.
* Sigh. *
(Okay, end of weight rant. We now return to this week’s regularly scheduled Lucky Comestible.)
One thing I realized while on my cleanse week is that I don’t eat nearly as many legumes as I should. Sure, if you consider peanut butter and carob, I suppose there’s a regular intake, but in general, my diet is sorely lacking.
As a child, the only beans I was ever served were the canned variety. Heinz Baked Beans made a quick and yummy dinner, just on their own. (Of course, my mother bought the “in tomato sauce” flavor so she wouldn’t have to deal with that one pasty, white, slimy chunk of pork fat that always rose to the top of the can. A few years ago, the HH and I took a course called Mini Med School at the University of Toronto. One evening, we were led down winding, clandestine hallways through an unmarked door into the actual anatomy lab, where we examined formaldehyde-infused hunks of human limbs, their outer layers peeled away to expose the muscles and bones underneath. One thigh had a rectangular chunk of flesh carved out, the cutout placed neatly on the counter beside it like a rubber bathtub stopper. Well, that little cube of pork fat looked just like the rectangular hunk of thigh. Good move, Mom.)
When I moved into my very first apartment the summer before my Master’s program began, my father’s housewarming gift to me was a smoked ham. (Not so strange if you consider that he owned a butcher shop–what else would he give me?). With the help of my trusty Joy of Cooking, I ended up making split pea and ham soup (even then, I couldn’t stomach the idea of an entire piece of ham on its own). I had just started dating my first true love a couple of weeks earlier (hey, Spaghetti Ears! How’s tricks?) and he, along with his two room mates, kindly relieved me of any superfluous soup–which, as it turned out, was pretty much all of it.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy bean dishes, either. It’s just that I never really think to make them. In more recent years, I’ve amassed a fairly reliable roster of bean recipes that I use on a rotating basis. There’s hummus, of course, but also sundried tomato hummus and roasted garlic hummus. Oh, and I can’t forget white bean hummus or fava bean hummus or even no-bean hummus (which, come to think of it, doesn’t really belong in the “dishes with beans” category, does it?). The HH and I also enjoy lentil-spaghetti sauce about twice a year, as well as my version of Tuscan baked beans (with olive oil and sage) and a classic three-bean salad in the summertime. Other than that, though, it’s pretty much hummus all around.
Well, I decided it was time to create something new and interesting with legumes. In keeping with the focus on avocado, I naturally gravitated toward the green legumes–or, more correctly, “legume”: lentils. Besides being one of the quickest to cook (they’re done in only 25 minutes, with no soaking required), lentils also provide a substantial contribution to your daily mineral requirements. In addition, they’re extremely high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble, important for healthy cholesterol levels), and they’re known to help keep blood sugar levels steady. Oh, and they taste really good!
I seized the green theme and just ran with it (okay, I kind of “speed-walked” with it), throwing pistachios into the mix as well. In these patties, the avocado acts as an egg substitute, while the nuts and beans work in tandem to provide a complete protein. While they’re not overly “meaty” in texture (the outside is crispy while the inside remains soft), these burgers are great either baked or fried, and would probably make a tasty loaf as well. Just for fun (and because I’m weird that way), I baked half the recipe and browned the other half in a frypan. I have to say that I actually preferred the baked version, which also held its shape better.
These patties are a great way to subtly add more legumes to your diet. And if you happen to be watching your weight–well, as it turns out, they’re pretty low-cal, too (about 150 calories each patty). Shall we start with these for dinner, Giz?
Lentil Pistachio Patties
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
These substantial patties offer a full-bodied flavor with a wonderful protein content, courtesy of the lentils and pistachios. The trio of avocado, olive oil, and pistachio adds richness and a healthy dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
March 16, 2008
["Can you guess why I'm so happy?"]
Last week, we took Elsie for her annual checkup at the vet (a place she absolutely loves–go figure). At the end of the appointment, the vet pronounced her an ideal specimen of canine health. Not only that; Elsie had lost nine pounds since her previous visit. Nine pounds! That’s, like, 63 in dog pounds! She’s been hanging on to that excess weight for a couple of years, at least.
This was quite the contrast to our first vet appointment, back in 2002, when she was both underweight and unhealthy. We got Elsie from a Rescue Mission here in the city, because I was keen to save a little pup that would otherwise face certain death. But there was also a monetary consideration, as the mission charged only $200 versus the $1200 or so we’d have to dish out for a purebred pup.
I remember the event perfectly: it was a blustery, snow-swept Saturday in February (a day very much like most of last week, come to think of it–except THIS IS MID-MARCH), and we were assured that our little 12-week old fuzzball had received all the pertinent shots, was proclaimed worm-free, and had been given a clean bill of health by their vet.
As he shoved her into my eager embrace, the scuzzball “attendant” behind the counter drawled, “Waell, you just take her in to your vet on Monday morning, and if there’s any problem, you can bring her on back.” (Right. Quick inventory: cramped, smelly, fecal-encrusted and rusty cage in dingy, musty basement; approximately 50 clamoring, whining, unkempt pups crammed into it shoulder to shoulder; Elsie, sweet, reticent, timid, hovering in the back corner, eyes pleading as she silently implored me, “Please! You must help me! Get me out of here! Pleaaaassseeee. . . . “). Return her to that torment, under any circumstances? Um, I don’t think so.
Needless to say, when Monday morning rolled around and we made it to our regular vet, we were hit with this diagnosis: worms (yes, the scum-bag guy lied! Imagine that!), fleas, mange, parasites, broken tooth, and your garden-variety malnutrition. To look at her, you’d never have known; she was nonetheless alert, frisky, and exhibited a voracious appetite (which remains to this day). We embarked on a series of medications, unguents, and shots to rid her of all the vermin. Ultimately, we calculated, restoring Elsie’s health cost us about the same as if we’d purchaed 2.7 purebred pups instead. Of course, by then we already loved her so much that there was no question–it was worth it.
[Elsie, pre-weight loss]
So, now that she’s svelte and healthy, how did Elsie achieve this amazing feat? The same one, I must admit, that’s been eluding me since I started this blog back in November? And, more important, what can I learn from this?
First and foremost, Elsie now has a new sibling to share her time and energy. Ever since little Chaser Doodle arrived on the scene, Elsie has spent most of her time warding off the “let’s play” advances of her baby sister. Chaser attempts any tack to entice Elsie to play: tug a little on the ear, nibble a little on the collar, poke a bit at the bum, taunt ceaselessly with the Nylabone, or nudge repeatedly with a paw. Sometimes, Elsie just gives in and plays. And play means exercise.
Human Counterpart: Seems I need a new baby or a new playmate. Hmmmn. Baby may pose a challenge, as both the HH and I have passed our best-before dates for procreation (together, we must be something like 4,732 in dog years). And a new “playmate?” Well, I’m not sure how the HH would like that one, either. But I do think a dieting buddy is a workable option; most of the women I know are watching their weight, too, so it would make sense to team up.
[The new, svelte girl]
Second, I’ve cut way back on the treats I offer The Girls, compared to the quantity Elsie received before Chaser’s arrival. Partly because current dog-training philosophy advises against treats, and partly because I no longer require treats to engage Elsie’s attention (since she’s got another dog to play with now), the number of daily biscuits has diminished by half at least. That’s like cutting out snacks during the evening, or reducing your meals by 25%. No wonder she’s lost weight!
Human Counterpart: Cut down snacks. I may need to establish nap-time between 2:00 and 3:00 (when my blood sugar crashes) for a while, but that, too, shall pass. And fewer snacks means fewer calories.
The Girls also spend a lot of time romping outdoors, running off leash for a minimum of 45 minutes per day. Before Chaser’s arrival, Elsie was walked for the same length of time each day, but never felt the urge to run (or even walk very fast). Obviously, having a playmate has made a difference.
Human Counterpart: Take a daily romp in the woods. Well, if I translate this into human terms, what I really need to do is more exercise. I’ve read that in order to lose weight, the average person must exercise ninety minutes a day. Ninety! And once women reach perimenopause (and after), they require an hour a day just to maintain weight. So if I tally up the hour or so I walk The Girls each day, plus whatever extra I add on with the treadmill or the workout club, I should realistically be able to reach that goal.
Why haven’t I incorporated any of these tricks yet? Maybe I needed Elsie as my inspiration. I know it’s worth a try. I mean, Elsie does look marvelous, and, even better, she seems to have more energy these days for frolicking and gamboling. And lord knows I could use more frolick and gambol.
“Yes, Mum, I’d highly recommend it. I do enjoy my frolicking. But now, can you do something about getting Chaser off my back?”
January 27, 2008
I hate winter. For someone who was born and grew up in Montreal, that is a heretical statement. But I’ve never been athletic, I get cold easily, I don’t have the greatest sense of balance (not exactly a plus when you’re navigating ice-laden sidewalks while holding the leash of a frisky, determined dog in each hand), and so winter makes me grumpy. Grumpy, and lazy.
During the snowy months, I have to be vigilant not to let my exercise routine slide somewhat. I mean, who wants to take the extra twenty minutes to pile on an additional pair of wooly socks, long underwear, scarf, insulated hat, dexterity-diminishing gloves, earmuffs and galoshes, drive through snow and sleet at 15 km./hour to unwrap for another twenty minutes on the other side before changing into workout gear, just to push some weights around for 40 minutes or so? Not I.
And so, I often end up missing my otherwise quite enjoyable workouts during this cold season (“So long, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts! Sorry to miss ya, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets! Catch you next time, Personal Trainer with the Gigantoid Biceps!). Feeling compelled to make it there this morning, however, (after all, how could I let down the legions of fans interested in my Progress Tracker?), I forced myself to go. And then, had a very lovely time. And was truly glad I went.
Keeping motivated can be problematic at any time of the year, but winter presents its own unique challenges. For me, a change in routine tends to help (as starting a new set of machines, for example, or a different activity entirely), but it’s still difficult to keep up that kind of momentum.
I recently came across an interesting article from Lifehack.org that provided some help in this area. The article is actually about tricks for making new habits stick, but I think many of these apply to the habit of exercise as well. One that struck a chord with me in particular was using a “but” statement. As in, “I’m no good at sewing, but if I work at it, I might get better.” There are seventeen other tips as well, including items such as “commit to 30 days” or “form a trigger” (something else you do right before the desired habit, to create a pattern).
For me, changes might include setting out my workout gear the night before I plan to go to the club (the trigger) or asking a friend to commit along with me so that we can be accountable to each other.
I may be having trouble keeping up with my workouts during the winter, BUT I’m working at it. And I guess that means it can only get easier. (And I think moving to Florida might help, too.)
(“Mum, we love the winter. It must be that Scottish heritage in us. So why not make walking US your trigger??”)
January 2, 2008
Well, I hope everyone out there had a Happy New Year. Ours would have been very pleasant and laid back–after all, we were guests at my friend’s 8000 square foot “cottage” (you read that right–were we lucky, or what??), we were in a pastoral wonderland of snow, lake, birch trees, rare birds and other wildlife prancing past the picture windows between the stone and wood walls, and we spent the time with two of my very favorite people in the world, Gemini I and Gemini II, as well as their families. Could it get any better?
In our pre-Chaser days, we used to go up there fairly frequently, and have spent many a lovely Thanksgiving or Christmas with the Gemini I family. This time, however, we discovered a tiny, heretofore unseen quirk in our (post-Chaser) Elsie Girl, something we’d never witnessed before: she has a newfound propensity to lunge at and–if permitted–eat any of the other dogs up there (Chaser excluded). What the–??
My beloved fur baby, the one I’ve adored since we got her from the pound back in 2002, the one who is consistently docile and sweet and gentle? The one I refer to variously as Sweet Face, Sweet Girl, Honey Girl, My Darling Girl, My Little Love, and innumerable other nausea-inducing, endearing sobriquets? The one who timorously permits Chaser to nibble endlessly on her ears like popcorn at the movies, who hangs her head in submission when I see her even walking toward the open garbage can, who lies at my feet silently here at the computer and reminds me, with a barely perceptible, feathery whisper of a touch with her nose, that it’s dinnertime?
Yes, that one. What on earth has gotten into her?
As a result of this sudden possession by the Dog Satan, we spent most of the time hovering over Elsie to ensure that she didn’t consume Gemini I’s new cat, or bundling up in our snow suits to accompany Elsie on the leash to do her “business” outside. How I wish Cesar Millan lived in Canada. Sniff.
I also realized, as soon as we were on the road and past the point where it would be feasible to turn back, that I’d forgotten my camera up north. Granted, it’s a cheap little unit (I must be the only blogger on the face of the planet who takes pictures with a camera she got for free using Air Miles), and also I have no photographic ability, but I am inordinately fond of the thing and it feels like traipsing around the house naked to post without photos of any kind.
The final rather unpleasant discovery to greet me after the weekend (well, actually, the last two weeks) is that it appears I have gained a couple of pounds (really? pigging out on baked goods and chocolate can do that to you?). As a result of all these events, I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened since we got back. Boo hoo.
Well, as Cesar himself would say, it’s the owner, not the dog, that needs training whenever there’s a problem. Don’t I know it: time to listen to The Great Emperor of Dog Training and get my ass in gear, literally and figuratively. Also, a perfect opportunity for some goal setting (notice I didn’t say, “resolutions”).
Every year around this time–sometimes right on the first of the year, sometimes not until April–I sit down and write out a “Five-Year Plan,” a set of goals to reach within 5 years, 2 years, one year, and the next six months. This is something I learned about from the original study at Harvard (I didn’t participate, just read about it) that confirmed how those people who actually write down their goals are more inclined to someday achieve them. Some years it works better, some years worse, but it always seems to help keep me on track and steer me toward my goals, even when I immediately put the list back in its desk drawer and promptly forget about it till the next year.
I’m also always amazed at the goals that eventually come to fruition even when I’ve literally forgotten about them in the interim. To wit, a couple of years ago one of the goals I wrote was “Work with a business coach for free.” Through a series of serendipitous events, I ended up with three full months of terrific coaching. Similarly, “guest appearance on TV morning show.” Or, “Adopt second dog.” At the time I wrote that, my HH’s response was a definite “no.” As the months rolled by, for some reason, he ultimately changed his mind, and eventually he succumbed. Now, he’s Chaser’s greatest fan, and the two of them are almost inseparable.(“Thanks for changing your mind, Dad! You’re so much fun to wrestle with. . .but wait a sec, Mum, if you’re not also my greatest fan, then whose fan are you–?“).
So, to that end, I am going to list my goals. I will say straight up that this isn’t the complete list, as there are still some things that I’ll keep private (goals related to relationship, family, etc.), but given the name of the blog, I think I should at least include all the food-related and health-related ones here.
Of course, everyone and their cousin is making resolutions about now, and to that end, there was a humorous send up of these kinds of lists in the Arts and Life section of the National Post today. Near the top of the list was this goal:
“Shed those unwanted pounds, or, if that’s too hard, spend some quality time with those pounds at a Wendy’s and make them feel wanted again.”
In that same spirit, I shall not berate myself for those “unwanted” two pounds, or the fairly unstable wagon off of which I’ve fallen. Instead, I’m going to set about outlining some goals for the next while.
Five Years Hence:
Post and Beam. My lifelong (okay, adult-long) dream is to own a post and beam, slightly north of the city, with my two dogs and HH (and in it, I’ll still be writing this blog, of course).
- maintain normal, healthy weight and eating habits (continued since year one), following the plan I outlined, below, in the 6-month goal.
- go swimming on a regular basis (something I used to love as a kid/teenager, and have been too embarrassed to do in public since the weight gain).
- Have meditation as a daily part of my life, yoga (or other easy-on-the-joints, meditative exercise) as a weekly part of my life.
- continue to have an easy, healthy relationship with dessert, able to enjoy with moderation without being thrown into binge mode, as outlined below in the one-year goal.
- have a healthy, effective method in place for dealing with stress (hey, may as well reach high once I’m setting goals, right?).
Two Years Hence:
maintain normal, healthy lifestyle and eating habits since year one (as outlined below, in the 6 month section).
maintain a healthy, normal relationship to dessert, as outlined below in the one year goal.
have meditation as a daily part of my life, yoga or similar type of exercise as weekly.
go swimming again–take lessons if necessary.
have healthy, effective method for dealing with stress in place and almost perfected.
One Year Hence:
reach normal, healthy weight (about 50 pounds from now)
achieve a sense of control around desserts–that is, the ability to eat them within reason, without breaking into a binge because of one chocolate bar, or brownie, or piece of cake
continue to create healthy, delicious desserts for fun and profit
continue to eat a balanced, NAG-friendly diet.
complete an intro to yoga course, and continue throughout the year.
improve work on weights, to previous levels, working with trainer if necessary.
continue with regular exercise at least 6 days a week, as outlined below.
Six Months Hence:
down 25 pounds from now
eat a balanced, NAG-friendly diet. (I know from past experience that this will help me with the dessert goal, above, as I seem so much less inclined toward unhealthy foods when I regularly consume veggies, whole grains, and the like).
exercise regularly: weights/club at least 3x per week; treadmill at least 4x per week (I know this can be done, as I’ve done it before, for years at a time)
take intro to yoga or similar exercise course; begin meditation, with the help of a course if necessary.
I think these are realistic goals, especially since I know I’ve mastered some of them in the past. I’m also giving myself a fairly lengthy period to establish new habits (I’ve read that it takes about 6 weeks of repetition to establish a new habit, but have never found that to be true for me; even after 2 years of eating no sweeteners whatsoever, it didn’t take long to return to old habits once I allowed sugar back into my life).
Now, of course there are many other goals on the piece of paper written out here at home, such as those related to my writing career or travelling (basically, I’d like to do some). But for now, if I can focus on the physical health and psychological wellness, I think I’d have a great head start toward everything else.
(“You go for it, Mum! My goal this year is to earn more treats. Oh, and I suppose not to attempt ripping apart other dogs would be good, too.’)
December 29, 2007
I’ve never been much interested in team sports (but even if I were, being perennially chosen as the “anchor” in tug of war, being last–always–to be picked for any team in grade school, and having to wear those navy blue bloomers in gym class, beat every last trace of desire out of me). Instead, when it comes to exercise, I tend to prefer solitary pursuits, both cerebral and physical.
So when I decided to try to get back in shape, I knew that the best possible piece of exercise equipment I could buy would be a treadmill. Years ago, I joined a workout club in order to lift weights whenever I can (Hey there, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! How ya doin’, Septuagenarian Couple With the Matching T-Shirts! Nice to see you, Teenaged Girl with Spiky Blue Hair!), but really, for me, “exercise” means walking. And in winter months, when I can’t be taking my Girls for any serious length of time outdoors, it means walking on a treadmill.
Ever since we moved to this new house last month, the treadmill has been stationed in the TV room. Yes, this does make for a somewhat “eclectic” set of furniture (because the room is relatively small, all we can fit in it is the TV, 2 chairs, and the treadmill), but I love it nonetheless. We’re not the kind of people who watch TV when friends are over, and, in fact, I watch very little TV at all. With one glaring exception: my soap opera.
I am addicted to watching my soap opera every weekday. Yes, I know, a soap opera. Now, this fact would have been a carefully concealed, disgraceful little secret back in my days as a PhD student when all my academic cohorts held forth in the T.A. lounge and our classrooms, eagerly discussing Foucault, Bloom or Barthes, or the esoteric implications of various (the)rapist(s) with great bombast and flourish. It took me a long time to realize that, fundamentally, they were pretty much full of crap, and even though they tossed around a lot of big words, they didn’t actually understand any more about those theories than I did. (On a completely unrelated tangent, that reminds me of a list of self-referential grammar and language rules that circulated while I was a teaching assistant, especially this one: “Never use a big word when a diminutive one will do”).
After surviving the trauma of being an underconfident PhD student, I am now unabashedly declaring my affection–nay, my complete adoration and undying fidelity to–soaps. Well, actually, just one soap: As The World Turns.
Shortly after we moved in here, I realized that I’d been avoiding my treadmill for months, despite rather enjoying the meditative whirring of the belt as it rolled beneath my feet, my mind barely awake and flitting aimlessy from fuzzy topic to fuzzy topic as I tried to gain focus for the day.
In the previous house, the treadmill was in the (unfinished) basement, so it meant trekking downstairs and walking by myself within the dismal grey concrete surroundings. I found I couldn’t muster up the energy to do it most mornings. Then, my brilliant idea: why not place the machine in the TV room, and watch my soap while I walked? After all, I watch my soap every day, anyway; why not combine it with something good for my health? In fact, it’s turned out to be quite the incentive for me.
Often, I won’t have time to watch in the evening (what with posting to Holidailies and everything), so I’ll save the tape (not technically a tape any more, as my HH keeps reminding me) for the following morning, and walk as I catch up with Lily, Holden, Carly, Jack, et al. There, at 6:30 AM as the gears spin and my feet flit over the woven belt, I fix my eyes to the screen and tread, tread, tread. Before I know it, the 44 minutes are up (perfect interval, I think, for a morning walk) and I’ve burned about 200 calories. Brilliant!
In fact, I’m going to propose this as my next healthy-lifestyle strategy: combine exercise with something else you enjoy.
I guess that for many of us, that combination would naturally entail walking our dogs. (“Very punny, Mum. We are naturally entailed, too, and we love to wag them when we go for a walk!”) For me, dog-walking hasn’t worked as an extra boost of exercise, mostly because I’ve been doing it regularly for so many years now so that my body has acclimatized and it doesn’t seem to make a difference, either to my weight or my general shape.
Are there any hobbies out there that require lifting heavy objects? (Sumo wrestling for fun and profit, anyone?). If so, I’d love to know. I’m sure many other weight-conscious blogs have covered this one, and will have suggestions. For me, it’s a fairly narrow range of choices: treadmill, or weight lifting (which I bizarrely happen to enjoy just on its own), or dancing to Motown or disco tunes (music of my adolescence) in my living room.
What do you all do?
(“Squirrels, Mum. Chasing squirrels is always a good one.”)
December 9, 2007
Well, since I didn’t make it to the gym today to record my weight, my HH and I decided to go out to brunch instead. (But of course! If you can’t exercise, may as well eat.)
We do this a lot, it seems. For me, the allure is the meal itself; breakfast foods have always trumped lunch or dinner in my mind. For my HH, it’s simply the act of going out to eat. (Apparently, at one point in his twenties, he lived in an apartment for 2 years and never once turned on the stove.).
Rather than bore you with the menu from today’s excursion, I thought I’d share a recipe for one of my favorite brunch foods, pancakes. So often, the ones you get in restaurants are heavy, wet, and shiny with griddle grease (how appetizing!). The recipe that follows, however, really does live up to its name. You’ll find these light, fluffy, and, as their eponymous title suggests, cake-like.
To avoid overdoing the maple syrup when I eat these, I prefer to pour syrup on the side and daintily dip my pieces of pancake one at a time into it (rather than slathering it over the top of the stack, as in the photo, below). This way, the pancakes don’t soak up too much of the syrup at one time (as they tend to do), and there’s no need to repeatedly re-pour when the pancakes start to appear dry on top.
Another way I like to eat these (perhaps while reading some Holidailies entries?) is topped with fruit-only jams–blackberry and mango are favorites–and forgo the syrup entirely.
For the omnivores out there, feel free to use regular milk instead of soy or rice milk, and replace the flax seeds with 2 eggs.
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
These light and foolproof pancakes are great with berries, apples, pears, or bananas. Unlike most vegan versions, they provide a good amount of protein on their own, due to the protein powder added to the batter. You can use leftovers for another day’s breakfast or lunch: simply spread one pancake with your favorite nut butter and/or jam, then top with another pancake for a quick and delicious pancake “sandwich.”
If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]
December 2, 2007
It’s my obstreperous streak, probably. Today, barely the second day of Holidailies–during which I’ve pledged to write in this blog with unwavering regularity–and already I’ve decided I don’t want to adhere to my self-imposed schedule of writing topics.
Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s not the topic, so much, that I don’t like, as the results of focusing on the topic. For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Blogosphere to See. All right, perhaps I’m being a bit histrionic. Let me correct that: For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Four People Who Read My Blog to See.
Despite snow drifts as high as my knees, I ventured to the workout club, as usual, this morning. Had a fairly good go at the machines and free weights among the early-AM regulars (Good morning, Septuagenarian Italian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts! How ya doin’, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! Top o’ the Mornin’ to ya, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets!). Still, I knew that last night’s dinner with my friend Deb (plus those two glasses of our latest favorite–and highly economical!–red wine) would waylay my otherwise descending weight.
It’s a burden to always be right, I tell you. Got on the scale with great trepidation to find my worst fears realized, with a weight gain of .5 pounds . So, rather than allow that disappointment to alter my mood and blow a black cloud over my otherwise cheery countenance, I started to reassess this idea of regular weigh-ins. Yes, after only five weeks of them.
A couple of months ago, in her regular column in a prominent women’s magazine, Geneen Roth talked about this issue. Why weigh yourself at all, she asked, even if you are trying to lose weight? It’s a lose-lose situation (except for the number on the scale, that is).
If the number goes up, you may have previously been feeling pretty self-satisfied, you may have been wearing your new Lululemon sweats like a banner-covered swimsuit at the Miss Universe Pageant, you may have been holding your head high feeling slim and taut and flat in all the right places–only to have that delusional euphoria instantly deflated, your mood for the day permanently altered by the fact that you’d gained 3/4 pound. Even if you’d had no idea before stepping on that scale.
If the number goes down, it will probably only reinforce what you already knew, anyway: you’ve been feeling better, lighter, lithe-r; your clothes are starting to loosen; and you’ve been walking just a little bit taller down those supermarket aisles. Do you really need a scale to tell you all this?
The upshot is this: if you gain weight, do you really want to know? And if you lose weight, don’t you already know? If the true goal is to focus on healthy eating and ultimate optimum body weight above all, can’t that be accomplished without the aid of a small, square, possibly incorrectly-calibrated mechanical object?
About three years ago, my older sister (let’s call her The Nurse) had a wicked crush on a coworker who didn’t happen to be her husband. And though nothing but a benign friendship ever came of it, she was consumed by guilt on a daily basis. I mean that literally: she basically stopped eating food most of the day, and her guilt apparently ate up up excess body weight, somewhere in the vicinity of 60 pounds over 5 months.
Did she use a scale to track this progress? No, of course not; she wasn’t even aware of trying to lose weight initially. Did she notice that the pounds had melted away? Of course she did; her clothes hung like tarpaulins on her newly slimmer frame, she was forced to go out and purchase new clothing, even down to her operating room scrubs; and everyone she’d ever met in the world commented on how great she looked (ironic, huh, since she felt like crap about the illicit crush thing going on).
In any case, here’s my point: if my quest is to become a “normal” eater, I need to behave like one. And all the normal eaters I know don’t weigh themselves compulsively on a weekly/daily/hourly basis, if at all. And as soon as I even write down that thought, I can feel the fear in the depth of my (all-too-expansive) stomach, conveying the message, “But if you don’t weigh yourself regularly, how will you put the kibosh on that rising number? Won’t you just spiral out of control and suddenly start bingeing recklessly and gaining more and more without end?” Uh, I hate to break it to you, stomach, but that’s what I seem to be doing, anyway, even with the weekly weigh-ins.
In the end, I’ve decided to keep up with the weekly Progress Tracker, mostly because I’ve set up the blog this way and have sworn to do so. And knowing that the four of you are reading on a semi-regular basis does help me, to some extent, feel accountable. (Though I’ve had friends on Weight Watchers tell me that the weekly weigh-in, in front of others, acts as motivation to keep them on track during the week, that’s never really seemed to work for me. Unfortunately, I’ve found that I need to tap into motivation from within myself, rather than from an exterior source, to stay on any kind of healthy eating plan).
So, I guess it’s back to an earlier principle, picking oneself right back up and starting all over again as if nothing has happened. And I do believe I’m going to tag that as my second “What Actually Works” strategy.
“Mum, we don’t care if your weight goes up. We will still love you anyway. And if you decide to finally stop eating those Banana Oat bars, we’ll help get rid of the leftovers, no problem!”
November 17, 2007
It’s simple, really:
- Decide to move house four months in advance; ask honey to begin packing that day. Draw up a list of all the tasks that need to be completed, and review list with sweetie so you can each pick key tasks and assign due dates. Smile with self-satisfaction when the list is done.
- Ask honey to begin packing three months in advance. Remind honey that wooden moldings need to be repaired, 60-plus boxes in basement need to be reviewed and re-sealed (since last move, 6 years ago), garage needs to be emptied and cleaned, yard needs to be tidied up and mowed, and personal items all still need to be packed.
- Ask honey to begin packing two months in advance. Stress the importance of sticking to our list, packing our least-needed items, doing the minor repairs to the house.
- Ask honey to begin packing one month in advance. Tersely comment that the list seems to have been ignored, none of the growing pile of packing has been accomplished by him, moving day looms, new packing boxes are required, and all of the repairs to the house still need to be undertaken.
- Two weeks in advance, frantically implore honey to begin packing. Anxiously remind him that the movers are coming in fourteen days, the kitchen and bedroom and TV room and most of the office have not been packed, and the minor repairs to the house still need to be completed.
- Three days in advance, scream like a deranged harpy at honey that we need to begin packing NOW. Run like a maniac from room to room, haphazardly tossing miscellaneous and sundry items into packing boxes, dash around the house stuffing everything and anything into boxes, bags, cartons, plastic bins, etc. Lift and push aside and disassemble and wrap and fold and untie and unhook and unscrew and unplug and layer and tape and cram and stack more items and boxes and bins than you ever thought possible in 72 hours.
- Two days in advance, glance about you and realize that you are never going to finish it all before the movers arrive. Redouble your efforts to lift and push aside and disassemble. . . . after midnight, fall into bed exhausted.
- One day in advance, expend most of your energy shrieking at honey that this is all his fault, if only he’d listened to you and been organized and followed the list, you’d be ready to move now, instead of throwing things with abandon into bags, stuffing things with neither rhyme nor reasons into boxes, blindly shoving items into bins and cartons, while he works frantically on the minor repairs to the house.
- Moving day, spend the wee hours still futilely attempting to pack items while waiting for the movers to arrive. Continue as they undertake the monumental task of displacing and replacing your entire life’s meaning as it’s packed into various containers, ignoring the few directives written on the cardboard with black magic marker. Watch, helplessly, as they stack all of the 60-plus boxes that used to contain untouched books, kitchen gadgets, grandmother’s possessions and other unwanted items in the same haphazard pile (four deep and five high) of boxes that contain all of your current, essential, just-packed possessions.
- On moving day, run back and forth between old and new residences, attempting to direct the movers so they don’t wreck your beloved antique sewing machine, lifting and moving boxes they’ve already stacked because you notice they belong upstairs in the office instead of way down in the basement, carrying oddly shaped and as-yet unpacked items (such as your honey’s grandfather’s massive umbrella, your mother’s silver 3-tier cake serving platter, your dogs’ four pillows [pre-LL Bean], your barber’s mirror for the wall in the bathroom, your sneakers, your jar of sauerkraut and other fridge-related items, and more) into the house as you vainly attempt to find a place for them that won’t have to be changed within the next few hours.
- On moving day, help the movers with the heavier and more awkward items, such as the treadmill, the plants, the box of spices, the lawn chairs, the chest freezer, the pail of agave nectar, the box of shoe boxes, or the brooms and mops. Almost drop several boxes, trip several times, bang into walls and bookcases and stair bannisters over and over, so that eventually (and by the time you notice, three days later), your arms and legs are awash in bruises, vaguely resembling a Jackson Pollock painting.
- At 10:15 on moving day, begin to search desperately for at least one of the boxes you’d marked “Open First.” When this appears futile, use your last few ounces of energy to begin slitting open sealed boxes, searching desperately for anything you could use at this late date to cover your bed so you can fall into it in a crumpled heap.
- At 10:30 PM, unable to find anything to put on your bed, drive in a catatonic state to the local Wal-Mart, arriving just as they’re about to close, to purchase new sheets. Pick any old thing just to get something. Arrive home and somehow manage to place your new, shades-of-vomited-salmon sheets on the bed.
- Brush your teeth with your index finger in the only bathroom with no windows (since there are no blinds or curtains in any of the rooms), then feel your way in the dark (since you’re naked–you couldn’t find any boxes of clothes, either) to the bed and sleep like a dead person for 6 hours until your excited dogs poke their wet, cold noses into your cheek to wake you.
- Spend every waking moment since then unpacking, replacing, stocking, shelving, unwrapping, folding, cleaning, organizing, assembling, purchasing, setting up, refilling, and howling like a banshee at your honey that if only you had listened to me and gotten started early and been organized and done what I said we would not be in this horrible mess now and I could find my *&#@$!! underwear and we’d have our house set up and we’d be able to start our life instead of having to wade through a chaotic mass of cardboard and paper and plastic and twine and cloth and wool and dog hair and food and every other single thing we own in a jumbled mass that’s going to take weeks just to go through, let alone set up properly and you make me crazy and I want to break something and I am so stressed that I’m eating pounds of chocolate over the past few days and I have no idea how I’m going to get through this ordeal without cracking up.
- A couple of days after moving, weigh yourself and nearly faint to see that you have not gained an ounce, not a gram, not a wee line on the scale, even though you’ve been gorging on chocolate at every possible opportunity (between unpacking, organizing, assembling, etc.).
- Write about it all in your blog. Heave a heavy sigh. It’s gone. It’s out. It’s over.
- Get back to the task at hand: 462 boxes that need to be unpacked, methodically, one box at a time.
(“Mum? Are you okay, Mum? . . . . . um. . . . will we still be able to go on our walk today?”)
November 4, 2007
People are usually surprised (okay, flabbergasted) to find out that I go to the gym and press weights at least 3 times a week. Their wide-eyed stares and gaping maws would suggest their silent response to this piece of information is something like, “But how can a fat pig like YOU actually do any exercise, let alone lift weights???” Their polite, public personas instead say something like, “Oh? Really? Well, good for you!”
Another one of those bizarre paradoxes of my life is that I enjoy going to the gym and lifting weights, yet there seems to be no discernible effect (ie no taut, bulging muscles, no weight loss whatsoever) from what I do.
True, when the alarm sounds at 6:30 and I’ve only crawled into bed at 11:38 the night before, it can be difficult to haul myself out from under the blankets. Many mornings, I end up sleeping another 30 minutes or so while C. takes The Girls for their morning exercise, after which I finally throw back the covers and get into my gym clothes to head out as he hops in the shower. Other days, I don’t manage it at all, and end up rebuking myself for being so lazy.
But when I do get there, I’m always happy. Years ago, I established a good routine with a personal trainer, and have followed it since (I suspect it’s time for a change–maybe this new Plan will be the catalyst).
Because of my back and knee problems, my workout is limited, but I do cover all the machines I’m able to. I love the feeling of pushing those muscles to the limit and lubricating those joints as my blood starts to circulate more quickly and efficiently. Despite all the overeating and the erratic aerobic exercise, I seem to be able to persist with the weights on a relatively regular basis (except when my back decides to snap and I’m out of commission for a week or so–but I’ll save that for another post).
As someone who’s relatively shy and inner-directed, I am quite focused when I follow my routine and rarely speak to anyone else there (which also helps me keep to a schedule, so that I can get home in good time–meaning before Chaser has to be put back in a cage–and get started with my day).
But I do certainly recognize the “regulars” and we tend to acknowledge each other with curt smiles and nods. Most of the regulars I see are older than me (and my hats go off to them–cudos to you, Bald Man in Your Seventies! My admiration, Little 60-Something with the Spiky Black Hair! You are my inspiration, Septuagenarian Italian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts! And hope I’m as flexible as you at that age, Elderly Gentleman Who Wears Black Knee Socks!). A few are my age, and some are younger. There’s one couple who work out together every time I’m there (which leads me to believe they actually go every day, as my own schedule can change day to day), and they look almost exactly like the Canadian couple from the old “Participaction” commercials. There’s also a rotund girl who’s no more than 18 at best, who dutifully arrives every morning to meet her trainer and strain through a series of exercises on the machines, with hand weights, and on the oversize exercise balls. I hear her laughing even as she grunts to finish a set, sweat blossoming on her T-shirt, and I feel recharged.
So I like my routine. I feel guilty when I don’t do it for more than two days. And I feel energized when I’m done, a bit more lithe and flexible, a bit more awake and ready to start the day. The fact that it seems to have no impact whatsoever on my physical appearance is secondary, I suppose. But as I say to C. on occasion, man, I must have fabulous muscles under all this fat.
Today was also my day to update the Progress Tracker–go see how I did!