Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I was prepared to be tempted by cocktails and cookies and crackers and cheese, and to lose a few of those battles.  Sure enough, that's happened.  

What I wasn't expecting was the lure of drastic change.  Now that the needle has moved a little, I really want it to move a lot.  And fast.  

Let's just say I've caught myself lingering a little too long on those late night weight loss infomercials, even after a week of healthy eating and a decent amount of exercise.

Yep. I'm irrationally dissatisfied that I'm basically on track.  

In Dr. Doolittle, there's a miraculous beast called a Pushmi-Pullyu.  The one in the story is quite graceful, even doing a little dance number, if I recall correctly.   But if she tried to run? It would not have been pretty.

Likewise, I'd be setting myself up for failure if I tried to cheat by taking shortcuts, as enticing as a diet of nutritious protein shakes and Insanity videos might be.   I'm still way too tangled up with old habits that will pull me right back up the scale if I push too hard.  That was the old me...a two headed contradiction moving one way first, and then right back the other direction*.

I'm aiming for the new me to be a cartoon tortoise instead, hopefully with a few hare-like moments along the way**.   To that end, now that I'm slowly moving in the right direction at last, I'm goint to try giving my metabolism a boost with the Fast Metabolism Diet.   Yes, it has that dreaded word "diet" in it, but the program seems to be a doable combination of good, healthful eating and moderate exercise, along with a rotating schedule that keeps things both interesting and manageable.  It's been fantastic for a good friend of mine, who looks and feels amazing after a couple of months of following the plan.

No more Pushmi-Pullyu.  Call me Speedy Tortoise!!  Ready, set, go!

* Not for nothing the guy's name was Doolittle.  Am I right?
** Watch the whole hilarious episode here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Go'n Witcha Bad Self

Normally, the phrase Go on with your bad self! means you've done well:

It's an African American slang thing. It means "wow, that's soo good!" 

 Girl A: I just got a job as a journalist for the New York Times 
 Girl B: Go on with your bad self!" 

 Although when most people say it it's usually said like this "Go'n witcha bad self!"*

In my case, it means my bad self showed up this weekend and I went along for the ride.

Choice A:  Scrambled egg whites with scallions and Parmesan, fresh strawberries
Choice B:  A pile of bacon and Grandma's Naughty Cinnamon Balls
My bad self:  Both, with extra cinnamon balls because they are so delicious right out of the oven and everyone else is having at least three so just one will be no big deal and can you please pass the cream cheese frosting?

As James Brown would say, "Good GAWD! Hit meh!"

It was a classic trap. I was roiling with all kinds of emotions, both proud and melancholic, at the same time as I was celebration baking and entertaining.  When I was serving the warm blondies with homemade ice cream to the boys, I could almost feel the angel and devil on my shoulders.

Devil:  Eat it!  Eat your brains out.
Angel:  Don't even think about it.  Just have some more of that lemon mint water instead.
Devil:  Yeah, right.

They were really good blondies.

Let's all burn a few extra calories laughing this morning, and then I can get GONE wit' my bad self, and get back on the program.

* This is from Yahoo Answers, so it is by no means the authoritative definition, but it works for the purposes of this post.

Monday, May 12, 2014

To Juice or Not to Juice? That is the Question

Here in LA, juice junkies give the old gluten haters a pretty good run for their money. I'm not talking Jamba Juice here. These are cold pressed elixirs made from organic kale, spinach, beets. ginger and turmeric with detox power, hefty price tags, and home delivery options that include discrete, eco-friendly containers and encouraging meditation advice. The one-on-every-corner cupcake shops are being replaced by bright storefronts full of cheery vegans, ladies in Lululemon, and coolers of Greens1 and Roots7.

Of course, the true juice acolytes are making their own at home with NutriBullets and Vitamixes. Every CSA delivery is fodder for the blender, along with packets of chia seeds, cultured algae and whey protein. There are entire websites dedicated to blender living, good ones, with justifiably avid followers.

Oh so mockable, right?
The thing is, juice works.
Just not exactly in the way I expected.

I first did a juice cleanse two years ago, much to the amusement of my completely unsympathetic family. It was both excruciatingly hard and enormously empowering. At the time, I was a full on Diet Coke addict, and going cold turkey on caffeine was by far the hardest part. A close second was giving up chewing, which I find I really do enjoy doing several times a day. I compromised by snacking on some of the juice ingredients when the need for food hit. Sliced apples, baby carrots, and raw almonds were like gifts from the gods by the time I was halfway through the cleanse. Suffice to say I spent an absurd amount of time in bathrooms that week, purging toxins like a mad woman.

When all was said and done, though, I was ecstatic. I had never really been hungry, and the juices were really delicious. I'd dropped nearly eight pounds. I wasn't craving sugar or fatty food. I was refreshed, energetic, my skin was glowing...yada yada yada. None of that was the amazing part. The real miracle was that I'd had the willpower to see it through. For five whole days, for the first time in a very long time, I'd been able to maintain control. It was revelatory.

Did it last? No.

Clearly not, or I wouldn't have this jar full of stones on my desk. Juice cleanse weight loss is almost always ephemeral*. But the discipline it takes to go through it is not.**

I juiced again for a couple of days this week, quite happily. I broke through a psychological plateau on the scale, which felt great, even if it turns out to be a fleeting glimpse of long term progress to come. The process gave my willpower muscles a much needed workout, and my body a chance to reset to a healthier starting point.

Just in time to fly down here to San Antonio for a work gathering. The group brought in killer barbecue from a local pit master for dinner, and the only vegetables served were potato salad, sweet creamed corn with cheese, and mayo-laden cole slaw.  The drink options included two different colored margarita slushies, with slabs of thick, rich homemade fudge brownies, warm peach cobbler and local vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Maybe Google Now can help me find a nearby cold pressed juicery for breakfast.

* Most places even go so far as to state very clearly on their websites: "cleanses are not weight loss tools" knowing that this disclaimer will likely be ignored.
** I'm also well aware that juicing is not an all or nothing proposition, and that enormous acts of self-deprivation are not required to enjoy many of the benefits of drinking your daily dose of fruits and vegetables.  Many friends swear by this balanced approach, which I may myself adopt someday. As Mr. Incredible says, I've got time.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gluten Infrequent

 Source:  Medium, via my friend Lily.

Personally, I find Fundraisers a heck of a lot more irritating than gluten, but clearly I am in the minority. The boom in gluten-free living cannot be explained by celiac disease alone. In some ways it's a handy shorthand for cutting out a big source of carbs in most meals and snacks, and loads of people swear they just plain feel better without it. 

Source:  The New Yorker, via my friend Andrea

I promised myself that this project would not be about drastic measures, so rather than excising the socially-reviled stuff completely, I've slowly been going Gluten-Infrequent.  It was tough at first, but I find that most days, I can do without it.  I indulge in a piece of dark chocolate instead of a cookie, and have apples instead of crackers with my cheese.  Then, once or twice a week, when the meal or occasion warrants it, I tear off a big hunk of a crusty French loaf and enjoy every last bite.

This incredible cioppino would not have been the same without that glorious grilled bread.

Now if only someone could do away with compact parking spots, I'd be truly happy.