Friday, January 7, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Today I got a very sweet IM. My cousin, ever a kind and loving person, rather brotherly, in a nice way, told me that it makes him angry when he sees my Former Fatty tag line. His argument is that I was never fat. I'm comfortable attributing this out rage to two things. First, he is a rather fantastic individual, as I said. Second, fat is considered a hurtful word in our society. I could go into a tangent about how frustrating it is that we all automatically thing of fat as a hurtful slur along with a number of other words that should probably be looked at as simple adjectives. When it comes to it, fat is a description, at least for me. Sure I've probably used it in a hurtful way in my life but certainly not recently.

In fact, I think part of the problem people who are trying to lose weight are confronted with is that weight loss is taboo. Well, unless you've already lost weight and then everyone wants to know the entire story and exactly what you did. Which only proves the problem. We, as a society, seem to lack a concept of reality when it comes to eating habits and nutrition. Jamie Oliver showed us that kids can't identify tomatoes (google for that sad video but don't say I didn't warn you); There are hundreds of speed diets out there; PhenFen was popular. The list goes on of how clear it is that the main thing lacking in our diets is reality.

Unfortunately, some organizations aren't helping. One example is an organization called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is suing the government for ignoring their suggested vegetarian food pyramid. I've ranted about the challenges the USDA food pyramid presents so I'm not defending the government, by any means. I'm frustrated because after studying PCRM it appears to be a vegan and vegetarian advocacy group. (Their pyramid is also incredibly vague.) I couldn't find a list of their members or donors and upon reading their IRS form 990 they clearly engage in direct lobbying and direct mail marketing. I'm not saying I think their evil, I'm just saying I'm dubious.

Reality is incredible difficult when it hits home (your waist line) in so many ways. Our physicians aren't helping, to be sure. I once had a GI doctor tell me I really needed to lose weight before I was 25 or else it would only get harder. This particular doctor told me this with a straight face and 6 pack in the form of a beer gut.

Reality: can't live with it, can't avoid it?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Peeing is cool.

So, about that slipping up. I know I said I don't care for resolutions and I don't, still, but that whole thing about learning obvious lessons? Still bad at it. I am getting better at the not beating myself up though.

I said I would alternate between a 250 and 500 calorie deficit per week. I've been finding the 500 mark hard to handle but the 250 has been much easier. In fact, the last few days I've managed 350. I worked hard to resist snacking after dinner but then enjoyed being hungry at breakfast. (A feeling I missed over the holidays.) I even weighed myself this morning. Which, given how I'd been feeling about the number I expected, was rather daring. Also, it wasn't as bad as I expected! Hurray for not the worst!

There was an article today's Food Section about D.C. chefs who have lost weight. Which, yay. I mean, one can hope that this would mean restaurants will start thinking about portions (of butter). One in particular said, "I fuel my body on breakfast and lunch and work it off. Dinner is supplemental, just enough to get through to the next day." Totally brilliant! Dinner is so dangerous. It is easily one of my top 2 mine fields. The other one is the office kitchen. I swear, things I would never eat in real life enter my mouth when I enter the office kitchen. There was another chef who said he started dieting because he hadn't peed in the three days. Kudos to him for a return to kidney and liver function!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Eve = Lame, New Year Focus = Le Sigh

Now that I have sufficiently complained about New Year's Eve, the truth is: I love this time of year. Everyone is talking about what to eat and the reality of eating. The gym is packed and people actually do the workouts in my spinning classes.

Just moments after I posted yesterday I got an email from The Daily Beast ranking diets in terms of effectiveness. Well, actually the title says they rank diets and you can click to look at their rankings but there is also an article where they quote a nutritionist who reminds you that diets are not effective unless you consider them lifestyle changes (and then they aren't diets at all). Once you click on the ranking pages, however, all bets are off. The first one is essentially a liquid diet. I can barely muster interest in soup as an appetizer. The idea of drinking my meals would definitely be a diet for me, since it wouldn't even last a single meal.

Ellen Tarlin at Slate got in on the act this year when she decided to try some experimental eating, starting with stick to the USDA Food Pyramid. Tarlin is only a few days in and is not shocked to be struggling with some of the requirements, something I've said before. On top of having to measure your food, it is pretty hard to follow the food pyramid. She also mentions that she has done Atkins and Weight Watchers and knows that every time she has tried a new plan she finds that she feels good at the start but quickly, "the hunger sets in". Which, sister I hear you, this is why I constantly change my own plan. Adapting is hard.

Politicians are also taking a dip in the food pool having recently passed a new 'food safety bill'. I put that in quotes because I'm still not totally clear on how safe it will make our food. I've heard that the FDA inspects anything from 1 to 5 percent of the food supply and this new law will increase that number. My issue is that I'm not entirely convinced that increasing that percentage will actually keep us safer. Supposedly one of the goals is to prevent tainted food rather than the current system where the FDA simply reacts to tainted food issues. Also, it sounds like the law wont be very well funded.

Would it not be easier to decrease our consumption of over processed foods? Sure, technology has brought us the opportunity to shop for items made in other countries, but must it include food processed over seas? Our food could include at least fewer items grown or processed on the other side of the world even if we aren't eliminating them. I've heard arguments about how recently recalled organic beef proves that imported food isn't more or less safe. I'm not clear on how organic and local got confused with each other but the reason I like my local butcher is not because his lamb or pork is organic but because I can look the man in the eye or visit his farm and know his practices aren't going to give me food poisoning. When it comes down to it, regardless of organic-ness (shut up, that is a word), the further your food travels the more likely it is to pick up microbes and make you sick. If you took a trip from home to the other side of the world you'd probably have to take multiple planes, trains or automobiles which makes you more likely to pick up germs.

I'm just going to continue to relish this time of year where my news sources are actually talking about one of my favorite topics. Come February every is likely to go back to talking about the weather.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bah Humbug

Oh, the new year, you old . . . yea whatever.

For some reason I'm not all that excitable about 2011. I'm generally pleased with life. In 2010 I got married, that was awesome, still is awesome. Let's see . . . um, 'bought' another used car? Yea, perhaps the lack of milestones? Again, generally pleased. To be clear, I'm not hating on 2011, per se, more hating on the New Year's Eve concept.

The thing is, I just don't get the excitement about a new year. I was under the impression that the reason new years were celebrated was because back in the day people were excited to have survived another year? Although, I thought that was what Thanksgiving had been all about. Not to mention that real Thanksgiving was apparently in March, or something?

It is possible that my other reason for a total lack of excitement is that I can't get behind resolutions. Anything that relates to improving your life because the year changed clearly sets a person up for failure. If you really want to improve your life or yourself it should have nothing to do with the date. It seems advisable to try to commit yourself to, um, yourself ,everyday, not just on January 1st.

Or maybe my fear of weighing myself after the holidays has something to do with it. But who could say, really?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Deficits Of Many Types

I'm not the only one in love with Michael Pollan. I am also not the only one who likes to hate on soy. I'm also also not the only one who struggles. This is me admitting to struggling. I'm also kind of a cliche. I got married and slipped up. I've got about 15 pounds to lose. 10 of them are from the last 6 months, 5 are pounds I wanted to lose previously and still haven't. My clothes still fit, but I'm not happy.

Every time I reassess the way I handle eating in my life I'm fully aware of the fact that something wasn't working. Sometimes it is as easy as renewing a promise to myself. Sometimes I have to put on my big girl shoes and recalculate my calories entirely. My old system was totally not working. So I reread the article about calorie calculation and decided to actually follow the part about adding in your work out calories instead of eating them as they come. Basically, I wasn't following the calculation their way, I was making up my own way. Now I'm doing it their way. So far I'm feeling pretty good. I'm only weighing myself on Wednesday mornings though so it is hard to be sure how I did this weekend (read: three nights out).

I'm also taking a page from the DUH-book. Well, two pages. The first is that I'm trying to do this veeerrrrry sllllllloooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly. A 500 calorie deficit is a pound loss a week. I'm alternative between 500 calories and 250. The theory is that the slower you lose it the harder it is to put back on. Reasons for this are many but often vary by person. For me it is that I want to really, actually, totally learn these good habits and stop the back slide that occasionally hits me.

The second is much bigger. This one is pretty major and I'm sure you'll be incredibly shocked. It is that I need to calm the hell down. I just reread a post from this time last year. And boy do I stink at learning obvious lessons.Link Stop beating myself up, stop caring about things I can't change, start enjoying fun activities (even some that don't involve consuming). Deep breath. I should also probably get around to stopping beating myself up about beating myself up. I bet I'll get around to that one in the new year...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Undernourished Is Not Just A River In Egypt

The news is full of stories about obesity and diabetes along with what experts thinks causes our country to be so incredibly unhealthy from over-consumption of grain to foods shipped thousands of miles. It is far more rare to hear stories about the alternative - unless it is about starving children in Africa. Believe it or not a national morning show will tell you exactly the alternative if you infer just a bit from the limited information: Kelly Ripa has a stress fracture in her hip. She did not chalk the bone issue up to eating habits or bodily stress but she does talk about exercise a lot and she is incredibly thin.

I will admit to a certain amount of orthorexia in my own life but Kelly, dear, life is too short to starve yourself and break your hip. What does she put in those Electrolux refrigerators? How about some leafy greens if she can't get behind dairy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Labels Are Marketing Too

If you are eating a food that requires you to be reminded of its origin, perhaps you have a problem.

When it comes to fries*, I hope Americans are smart enough to see through a claim such as, "Having the skin on is a way to remind people that fries come from potatoes . . . ". Did these people miss the Jamie Oliver show earlier this year? That show also had issues but even the commercials made it abundantly clear that kids in this country have no idea where food comes from. Feed your kid a freaking potato already. Going to a fast food joint to pick up fries can't be faster than putting a potato in the microwave**.

* I am not suggesting you should not eat fries, only that they have a place in life and that place does not include being a side at every single meal.

** I admit they are tastier and healthier in the oven.