Monday, October 3, 2011

Spin the wheel!


The last three weeks, I've been the guinea pig in a very unscientific experiment. The results: Definitely nothing new.

When I journal -- writing down all the foods I eat, the exercise I do, and my moods during the day, I make better food choices. Maybe it's because I don't want to write down the Twizzlers that are crossing my lips, because the reality of that would be too much to bear.

Not quite sure, but today I woke up, and the first thing I did was to dust off my journal -- which I didn't keep last week -- a week that was plagued with BAD food choices. Sure, we had lots of social occasions, but that's life. I ate my brother-in-law's birthday cake because it look too damn delicious to pass up. And then there was my niece, Elizabeth's, lemon bars, which I know first-hand are to die for -- literally and figuratively. Eat enough and they really could kill anyone.

And of course, those foods were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

So today, a Monday, I am once again determined to journal. I really do relate to the poor hamster who never makes any progress in the wheel. Just like the hamster, I'm stuck. I really hope this changes. Fast.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Apples: Never lost in the sauce!

I've had it with summer: Bring on the fall -- and its abundance of apples. Although I eat apples year-round -- even summer's mealy ones make it into my luncheon salads -- I crave the crisp, juicy apples that are now taking over the markets.

I only buy organic apples, which to me makes sense since apples always top the list of the dirtiest fruits and vegetables. The problem with organic apples is that they don't have the variety of conventional ones, but that's a small price to pay.

Apples are a great source of fiber, in addition to some vitamin C and the flavonoid quercetin, which has antioxidant properties.

At market, look for apples with no bruises, dents, scapes or soft spots. Once home, pop them in the refrigerator, where fresh apples will keep up to three months. Of course, for long storage periods, check them daily and discard any apples that are beginning to rot. You know what they say about one rotten apple.

At room temperature, apples should be OK for about a week. Again, check them daily. When my kids were small, I always kept a big basket on the counter, ready for eating. And it worked! Today, all three of my kids still love apples.

And they also love my applesauce.

I cut at least 10 McIntosh apples into quarters, and throw them into a pot, compelte with stems, skins and seeds. Place the pot on simmer, and cook until the apples are mushy and soft.

I use Macs because of the high-water content in the apples. No water needed for applesauce.

Once they are soft, I place them in a hand-cranked Foley food mill, which immediately turns the apples into sauce -- minus the skins, stems and seeds. But by doing it this way, you capture the fiber from the skins, which pumps up the nutritional value of the applesauce. Add some cinnamon and call it sauce!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The cycle of abuse


Yesterday I listened to Denise Brown talk about her sister, Nicole's, life struggle with OJ Simpson. The event was the annual luncheon of The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, an organization that helps keep thousands of women safe each year, in addition to educating anyone who will listen about domestic abuse and sexual assault. We all know Nicole's story, and for years, we watched her anguished family seek justice for the daugther and sister they loved.

As I listened to Denise, I began thinking how someone's actions 17 years ago changed her life forever. Denise is now an advocate, appearing before Congress and organzations such as The Center, trying to get people to understand the cycle of violence -- that abusers are not abusers 24/7. That in many cases, abusers are charming and lovely, until some event turns them into monsters. Her plea is that we all work together, to be on the alert at all times, searching for evidence of abuse in our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors and our co-workers.

So what does the Brown family's fight for justice have to do with dieting? Absolutely nothing. Sort of. On the way home from the luncheon I started to look at my life, which although not perfect, is pretty darn close. There has never been a day since I married Jack that I have been afraid to come home. My home is my safety net, a place of love, a place of comfort. I am so fortunate, and I want to be able to live this life for many years to come.

And the best way to do that: Eat healthy and exercise daily.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Four Agreements


I learned about the Four Agreements last year during a yoga class, picked up the book by don Miguel Ruiz, and have been trying to put those four principles to work ever since. The principles are practiced to create love and happiness.

I am using these four principles to become less cynical, which in turn I know will bring contentment, peace and happiness. Cynicism is a requirement of a journalist -- a healthy attribute to keep you questioning the people you are interviewing. But here I am, four years after leaving my profession, still trying to erase those years of not trusting anyone from my present life.

What do the Four Agreements have to do with my weight? I am an emotional eater, and eat to feed a hunger deep within. Tame my inner beast, and pounds be gone. That's my theory.

Reading The Four Agreements is simple. And lovely. I read one each morning, and work on that concept the rest of the day. Still, living the principles has become one of the hardest tasks I have ever set forth to accomplish.

So here they are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cheese puffs out! Pirate's Booty in!



Before I would buy a piece of clothing for my kids I would ask them: "Do you love this (fill in the blank)?" If they said "yes," we took it home. If they hesitated for even an instant, it stayed in the store.

Yesterday, I was thinking about why I love The Food Lovers system of eating so much, and that flashback popped into my mind. If my kids loved their clothes, they would wear them.

The Food Lovers system is based on the premise that you eat only the foods you love. Period. Do not waste calories on food that is unappealing or not satisfying. The key to eating is portion control, and once you understand that, everything else falls into place.

I have to admit that the past few weeks have been a real eye opener for me. I can eat everything in the store, as long as the food does not contain what Food Lovers calls the dirty dozen (primarily sugars that fill our processed foods) in the first four ingredients. But for every food in the store that is made up of one or more of the dirty dozen, there is a healthy substitute waiting to be tried.

And I've found some foods I really love. Like Pirate's Booty, the healthy alternative to cheese puffs. First, it doesn't turn your fingers and teeth orange, a very good thing for adults. And Pirate's Booty tastes terrific.

I've become a shopping detective, searching for new and interesting foods, and then reading labels to see how healthy they really are. I've also been reading the labels on some of our mainstays, and was amazed by the amount of junk so many of them contain.

But the most amazing thing of all: In the past two weeks, I can honestly say there was not one food that passed my lips that I didn't love. As for my weight: I cannot weigh myself until a week from today, but I can tell I have dropped a few pounds. I already feel it in my clothes. Wow! I feel so normal.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T



There was a time when I considered my body as my temple, something to honor, cherish and protect, something to feed with only nutritious, healthy foods.

I'm not sure when my temple became the holding place for cheesecake, Twizzlers and enormous amounts of food, but I so wish I had never let this happen. And I'm also sure that this didn't happen overnight, but gradually, over the years.

Two powerful thoughts there:
1. Our bodies should be our temples.
2. It took time to look the way I do now, so to get them back into shape will take time. There is no overnight fix.

Which brings me to Aretha Franklin, who sang one of my favorite songs, Respect. What a powerful word.

If we all respect our bodies, feed them with foods and vitamins that will make them thrive, we will simply feel better, look terrific, and have more energy. We will be able to be true participants in life, not merely bystanders watching everyone else have fun.

I don't have to listen to the song. Aretha spelling out that one word, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, is now ingrained in my mind. I mentally spell it to myself several times each day, and eventually, it will become part of my DNA.

My body. My temple. It's time I protected it more, and showed it some respect.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This joke's on me


There is something comforting about old friends. We joke, we talk, we've watched our families blossom -- but most of all, we laugh.

Friday night we had book club at Bloodroot, the feminist vegetarian restaurant in Bridgeport that is perfect for a group of women to get together for hours to chat. After we discussed the book, Sarah's Key, the conversation naturally drifted toward diets, the subject that has occupied our lives since our kids were small. This night we talked about the worst diets we had all been on, which made us laugh so hard we had tears in our eyes.

If there is one thing we have all been, it's consistently on and off diets.

I told the story of signing up for Jennie Craig, and as I was leaving, bumping into one of the women at Bloodroot this night. We laughed and laughed, but when I was alone in the car, on the way home, this fact hit me hard: We have all spent too much of our waking days obsessing about our weight.

I wish I could turn back the hands of time, go back a few decades and appreciate the importance of reaching a goal weight and sticking to it. It's time for me to stop fooling around. Consistently eating lean protein, tons of fruits and veggies, avoiding sugar and exercising daily can add years to my life. And now, I need all the extra years I can get.

Enough laughing. It's time to get serious.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dr. Hunk


I have to admit that that the Doctor's TV show is one of my guilty pleasures. That I owe to Dr. Travis Stork, the one who is so cute I just want to pinch his cheeks. Among other things.

So when I saw his sweet, smiling face gracing the cover of Woman's World, it took one second for that grocery check-out pulp magazine to make it onto the conveyor belt. Whatever he was selling, I was going to buy.

He was selling water. Just water. Actually ice-cold water. Dr. Hunk says that if you drink six 8-ounce glasses of ice-cold water daily, at specific times of day, you'll not only boost your overall health, but speed up your weight loss.

Can it be this easy?

According to Dr. Stork it is. He cites research from Virginia Tech that discovered people who drink water before a meal automatically consume 13% fewer calories at the meal. Dr. Stork says to think of your tummy as a balloon that expands and contracts depending on how full it is. Fill it with zero-calorie water and there's not much room left for food.

And why the ice? When you drink ice water, your body has to heat it up to body temperature, which shoots up you metabolism by 25% for the next 60 minutes.

So why haven't we heard this before? According to Dr. Stork, there's no money to be made from encouraging people to drink water. No profit, no publicity.

His formula for adding water into your diet is simple. Drink an 8-ounce glass:
As soon as you get up in the morning;
Mid-morning;
Before lunch;
Mid-afternoon;
Before dinner;
At 8 p.m.

I'll toast to this.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Be prepared!



Be prepared -- the Girl Scout motto that I recited over and over for years. Too bad I haven't brought those two little words into my food life.

I know that when I plan my meals for the week, grocery shop for the foods I need, and then make the meals I plan I STAY ON A GOOD EATING PLAN.

It's just that simple.

I run into problems when I don't prepare and am caught with nothing to bring to work for lunch, or nothing defrosted for dinner. The fastest track to meal disasters.

Now, thanks to Food Lovers, I not only have to plan my meals, I have to plan my snacks. It's a lot of planning but it makes me feel in control. Last weekend I sat down and planned meals and snacks for a week, and did a big food shopping. Tuesday we had a terrific quick chili, and last night, a wonderful citrusy Cuban pork kebabs.

I vary my snacks, keeping them in the 100 to 200 calorie range, and have such fun deciding what I should pick. Kind bars -- one of my favorite treats that I always felt guilty eating -- have become the go-to snack when I am really harried.

It's all about planning, or as any good Scout knows, just being prepared.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tricked up



My favorite food is pizza. It is also a trigger food for me. There is no way I can eat just one slice, and after devouring three, sometimes four slices, I'm ready for dessert. Add to the fact that I am lactose intolerant and allergic to wheat, and it's obvious that pizza really is not a food I should ever eat.

Especially now, when I am seriously trying to shed pounds. Monday, I was able to avoid pizza, thanks to a little trick I've learned from the Food Lovers Fat Loss System: Never go longer than three hours without eating.

Monday night is family dinner, when our two grown children, their spouses (and now our newest grandbaby, Kiley), come over for dinner. It was Kim and Tim's turn to cook, the day didn't turn out as planned, and they had no time to cook. Instead, they were bringing pizza, something I discovered when I heard Jack ordering a few pies. I panicked. Jack very nicely had ordered me a salad, but greens for dinner? No way.

But I was in control, because my new way of eating. Monday afternoon, I ate my snack on the way home, which always fills me up. When Jack told me about my salad dinner, I headed for the market and bought myself a veggie burger, soy cheese, and no gluten rolls. The greens served as a healthy side to my very healthy meal.

I was sated. But the funny thing: I didn't realize until Tuesday morning that the reason I was in control was because of the snack. This old dog really is learning some new tricks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good pain


There is no morning I hate more than Monday. I have never been the type that can't wait to get to work after the weekend.

Yesterday was no different. But yesterday, because of Sunday's bike ride, I could hardly move. There weren't enough props to pry me comfortably out of bed. And then I started thinking: Could I feel any more out of shape? No! So I decided to pop in a cardio workout DVD because it couldn't possibly make me feel worse than I did.

It didn't. And at the end of the DVD, I felt great. Sort of. Still sore. Very sore. But what a sense of accomplishment.

So this morning, without even giving myself the chance to say no, I exercised. In addition, from now on, stage forward in my mind, is the image of me standing on a scale reading "fat." In this case, a picture is worth a trillion words.

And once again, after exercising, I felt great. Another pat on my back, albeit a gentle one, because now, even my toes are aching!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept. 12: New beginnings


Yesterday, I couldn't tear myself away from the TV. Jack wanted to avoid it all.

At noon, Jack announced he was going on a bike ride. I thought terrific, I can be alone. But as I was thinking that, I also started thinking about hitting the grocery store and buying everything I didn't want to eat. I knew his bike ride would be at least two hours, plenty of time for me to feed my sorrow with food.

Without warning, I got myself off the couch and told him I was going with him. What? He was headed to the bike trail, planning on doing a 15-mile loop that is anthing but flat. A 15-mile ride in Hilton Head -- the last time I was on a bike -- is a snap. Here, it's a feat.

When we hit our first hill, my immediate thought was to walk. Hey, it's still exercise. Then I thought of the people of 9/11 who found courage deep within themselves that day that they didn't know they had. I thought of the thousands who died, and those first responders who are suffering so from breathing in Ground Zero's toxic dust. So I offered my pain and discomfort up to them all. It took me longer than it should have, but when I reached the top of the hill, still on the bike, I had tears flowing down my cheeks. I felt great.

Not at peace. But not giving in gave me hope. My exercise pain is nothing compared to what all those brave people went through 10 years ago. It's time for me to stop being such a wimp and whip myself into shape.

I never went grocery shopping yesterday. Talk about achievements.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What a rut!

I'm not sure when I stopped eating cantaloupe, but for years, it has not found its way into my home. Recently, cantaloupes have been on sale, the perfect time to give them a second chance.

Having a slice of melon is better than eating a Twizzler -- and for me, that is high praise. I could eat a pound of Twizzlers and not feel sated. Horrid yes; not sated.

But eating a slice of juicy, ripe canteloupe creates an explosion of taste in my mouth, which is not only yummy but so very satisfying. I really can eat just one slice!

Yesterday, as I was enjoying my melon, I began thinking of the food rut I have been in. Day after day I eat the same breakfast (an egg with veggies); lunch (greens, chicken, sliced apple); and dinner (protein and veggie). It's not that my meals aren't tasty. They are. They are just too consistent, so when something interesting (read loaded with calories) comes along, I cannot resist.

This weekend I am going to set aside an hour to plan my meals for next week. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I will write every meal down in my journal, make my shopping list, and then hit the market. Next week, there will be no rushing around at the last minute to find something interesting to eat.

But most of all, I plan on mixing up my foods. Boredom be gone.

There are millions of foods, millions of recipes, and next week, I'm going to try a few new ones. If I am ever going to lose weight -- and keep it off -- I need to be creative.

My rut has not been good for my gut.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The power of infomercials

Over and over again I swear I am not going on another diet. But then I have a sleepless night, and bam, I'm on the phone ordering the diet du jour that will solve all my problems.

Right after we got back from vacation in July I had one of those sleepless nights. And I "met" Robert Ferguson -- certified nutritionist, fitness specialist and a doctoral candidate in sports psychology. The fact that he is also an inspirational lecturer might have been the real reason I bought his program, "The Food Lovers Fat Loss System."

He had me with these words: "This is not a diet." I was putty, and my credit card was whipped out before he even finished his 30-minute pitch. What he was saying made sense to me: Eat every two to three hours, and only eat the foods you love. His theory is if you eat foods you really don't like, as soon as you lose the weight, the pounds start rolling back on.

Been there. Done that far too many times.

When my box of goodies arrived, I was beyond intimidated. It is a huge box, filled with all sorts of books, CDs and DVDs to get you started shedding pounds. I did exactly what he instructed -- began with the instuctional DVD -- and put my binder together, which has now become my bible and journal. It goes everywhere with me.

Day 1 was Tuesday, and he only asked that I listen to the CD for Day 1, and include a snack between meals, so I am eating every two to three hours. Easy? No! I actually had to set my BlackBerry's alarm to remind me to eat my snack. And there were times I was not hungry, but I did what he instructed.

The really wild part: At meals, I was sated. I ate normal meals, and not once did I even think of going back for seconds.

Yesterday, I began to learn how to make a Food Lovers Plate, which when done correctly, combines a protein, a fast carb and a slow carb. I am by no means a pro at all this, but I like the message. There is science behind what he is saying, and I am eating it all up.

My direction for today: Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Again, not easy, but I did it. And as I am writing my blog this morning, instead of thinking about how hungry I am, I am full and content.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy, happy new year!

When I tell people I write a blog, many just roll their eyes. I know they are thinking, "Just what the world needs. Another blog."

There are days when I feel the same way. I have absolutely nothing I want to write about that has anything at all to do about food. Of course, those are the days - or should I say weeks -- that my eating is out of control. Obviously, I've had more than a month of those days, since my last post was right before we left for vacation in July.

Yesterday I had a great eating day, and the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning was my blog. And truth be told, I write this blog for myself, although I know the world could stumble upon it. I decided to start the blog to help myself -- and hopefully some new and old friends -- wage the battle of the bulge together. When I write my blog, I tend to stay more focused and determined.

This week has always been about beginnings, the week school always started for me, even through college. New school supplies, a cute outfit to show off, and shoes fresh out of the box. A commitment to do well in classes, and perhaps make a new friend along the way.

When I was soaking up the sun in Hilton Head in July, sipping a glass of wine and eating some cheese and crackers, I picked Sept. 6th as the day to begin anew.

Yesterday was my new beginning. I decided I am not looking back, only ahead. I am not beating myself up over the pounds I didn't lose this summer. Yesterday I dusted off my food journal and wrote down everything that crossed my lips, every drop of water I drank, every morsel of food. I've read enough to know that those who write a food journal succeed at weight loss. I am not taking any chances.

Once again I am starting anew. And once again, I started today with a prayer, asking for help to make today as stellar as yesterday.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. On to step No. 2.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Advice from a pro

When I was a newspaper features editor, weekly we ran Charles Stuart Platkin's terrific column, the Diet Detective. As often as I can, I try to read it online.

Recently, he addressed how stress causes you to gain weight, citing a study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine that found that stress -- in addition to affecting your physical and psychological well being -- makes you want to eat more, which of course causes weight gain.

Platkin says we gain weight for two reasons:

Biological Interference: Biologically your body is designed for a “fight or flight” response to stress. So when you’re stressed, your body releases hormones to help you do either. And since most of our stress does not come from lion attacks, a simple stressful e-mail from your boss is all it takes to make you start eating.

The brain sends out a stress hormone called cortisol, which regulates energy by tapping into the body’s fat storage and protein, converting it into glucose and bringing it to muscles and to the brain. Additionally, it can move fat from storage depots and relocate it to fat cell deposits deep in the abdomen; researchers have shown that the abdomen is the best place for fast energy retrieval.

Cortisol may linger in your body long after the cause of the initial stress has passed and trick your body into thinking it has done something active in response to a perceived ‘threat.’ Cortisol also sends signals to your brain to refuel your body as soon as possible.

Eating Comfort Foods: When things are stressful, we reach for food that is comforting -- brownies, donuts, candy, ice cream, pizza, mashed potatoes, fried chicken?

Why do we crave these foods? First of all, your parents probably gave any -- or all of these foods to you when you were in pain. Carbohydrates make you feel better by releasing the hormone serotonin, which is a brain chemical that makes you feel good.

Now here's the terrific part of Platkin's article, tips to help you relax and stay the healthy eating course.

* Create a “Stress Snack Eating” kit that has healthy snacks. Have one anyplace you tend to overeat -- at home, at work, in the car. Fill it with portion controlled foods that are low in calories in case you over-indulge. Also put in a few non-food items, such as an iPod loaded with comedian sketches, a jump rope.
Keep Away Unhealthy Snacks. This becomes very important when you know you’re going to have a stressful day. Researchers have shown time and time again that snacks in sight are snacks that are eaten.
Enjoy Healthy Comfort Foods, like air-popped corn or a low-calorie and low sugar energy bar.
Exercise the Stress Away. Go out for a walk, take a spin class, go for a run — research shows that a bit of exercise can help you fend off unhealthy eating and reduce stress.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Most of us don't laugh enough. We tend to take ourselves too seriously, and when we do, our life gets too boring.

We all should take some time out of our busy days to do something we really enjoy. Maybe it's a walk on a beach, watching your favorite show on TV, or taking the time to play with a child.

Laughter and fun break down barriers and reduce stress. And when you mix laughter with activities such as throwing a ball to your dog or chasing your toddler around the yard, you're loosening up your joints that are constricted by tension and poor posture.

These simple activities brighten our day -- and our attitude. We might be having fun, but we are also taking care of our inner bodies.

I think it's time for all of us to take time for fun. I'm headed to the beach to go fly a kite.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On mayo

Mayo is in just about everything -- especially during the summer. So when I cam across this post on the Diet Detective, I thought it was worth a repost. First, because mayo is just one of those things we can really do without. But second -- and most important -- one tablespoon of mayo has 110 calories, which means we can substitute many foods for mayo and consider how much exercise it would take to burn off that 110-calorie food.

To burn off 110 calories, you will have to exercise:
•Walking: 28 minutes
•Biking: 16 minutes
•Running: 12 minutes

Talk about food for thought.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great recipe

I probably eat too much chicken, but that's because I love it. I also love this recipe, which combines two of my favorite things: chicken and lemons. It is a remake of a recipe my mom made all the time. Mine has no added fat, which makes it a dieter's delight.

CHICKEN WITH LEMONS
Roasted lemons3 medium lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium chicken broth

Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided


Roasted lemons: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange lemon slices on it in a single layer. Brush the lemon slices with 1 teaspoon chicken broth. Roast the lemons until slightly dry and beginning to brown around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.

Pound chicken breasts with a mallet until it is about 1/2 an inch thick. Place in large saute pan.

Mix cayenne and cumin and sprinkle on chicken.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Boil about 8 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cooking. Add the roasted lemons and the parsley. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Introspection

This weekend was all about celebrations. I weekend away with family and friends, lots of great food, and a baby shower in a wonderful restaurant.

I tried to make healthy choices, but it was often not possible. And I gave in and had a glass of wine, which immediately lowers my resolve. But although I was not perfect this weekend, I certainly was not horrid. And it did make me think about why I decided to have that glass of wine.

My answer is that I was feeling deprived. Big time. I love good food and wine. And when I am relaxed and having a good time, I love sharing both with friends.

So I gave it. Hey, that's life.

But Sunday I was back on track, and that made me very proud of myself. It also reinforced in my mind that to truly succeed at losing weight, some days I will not be perfect. But that's OK. This is not a race. If it takes an extra month or two to get to my goal, who cares? The important thing is that the day after I digressed, I got back on track. If I can keep this up, I will win.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why lose weight?

A few months ago, I learned one little fact that I think about almost daily: For every extra pound of body weight we lug around, our hips and knee joints suffer five times the impact. Five extra pounds adds 25 pounds of impact every time you take a step. So I want to drop 45 pounds, which means my knees and hips will consider it 225pounds lost, more than I weigh. There will be a spring to my step!

Since I am determined to stay the diet course this time, I am always looking around the Web for other facts, like the one above, that will keep me on true. I found such article on EverydayHealth, which should help on days when Twizzlers and ice cream calling my name.
• Extra pounds can worsen asthma and allergies since weight burdens the adrenal glands, which are involved in managing asthma and allergies. Extra weight also strains the respiratory system, which can make asthma worse.
• Less weight takes the pressure off your feet. A recent study found that after bariatric surgery, those who lost 90 pounds found foot pain dropped by 83 percent.
• Diets high in carbs and sugar can cause skin pallor, dark circles around the eyes and skin tags.
• Arthritis is tied to inflammation in the body. A number of studies have found that dropping pounds improves arthritis pain.
• Losing weight lifts your mood, increases your sense of well-being and decreases depression.
• A recent study found that people who underwent bariatric surgery had significantly improved memory than a control group.
• A recent study of 264 people with sleep apnea and diabetes discovered that those who lost the most weight showed a significant decrease in sleep apnea symptoms. In fact, the weight-loss group saw their sleep apnea symptoms cut in half.
• In a recent study of 424 gastric bypass surgery patients with type 2 diabetes, 83 percent were able to reverse the symptoms of their disease. A second, smaller study, showed that 11 type 2 diabetes patients on a severely calorie-restricted diet were able to get their blood sugar levels and insulin secretion activity back to normal within seven days.

Wow!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My closet

Yesterday it was all about my temple aka my body.

Today, it's all about my closet, one of my least favorite places in my house. At 10-by-12-feet, it should be one of my favorite places. Why do I hate it so much? Because it is jam-packed with clothes, most of which I can't wear because they are too small.

I often look at my closet and think how nice it would look if everything fit in the space perfectly, with lots of room between outfits so nothing gets wrinkled. But when your closet is a mash of 7 different sizes divided into fat, mid and skinny clothes, there really is no room for anything. My closet really is a most depressing place to hang out.

So here's my goal: Get down to one size. I have picked size 10, because my 5', 10" frame looks best in a 10. When I get down to an 8 -- and yes I have lots of clothes in that size and even smaller -- I look sickly. So 10 it is.

And as I begin this diet journey yet again, as one size starts to hang, those clothes are getting tossed. I am not keeping them "just in case," because I really can't go through this again. In the past, I always kept my fat clothes. I hated when I had to wear them, but they were there, old friends, waiting to see the world via fat Val!

This time around, they are going to have to see the world on someone else's body.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My temple

From now on, when I think or talk about my body, I will use the word "temple." Just symantics, but a word change that really is life-altering.

Would I throw garbage in a temple? Would I trash one? Of course not. So why not treat my body like a temple?

My temple loves good food, it craves exercise, and it only wants to be around people it finds inspiring. When I don't eat well, my body usually tells me so about 2 a.m., when I wake up feeling horrid. Is this how I want to spend my life? Not anymore.

I really, really like the way I've been feeling for almost three weeks now. I wake up ready to face the day, and around 3 or 4 p.m., I'm not sitting at my desk looking for something sweet to give me extra energy. I arrive home happy, ready to cook a healthy meal that will keep me on plan.

This really is a new me. I've done this before, but as I have admitted, I have always lost weight for a reason, an event, something that I wanted to look great for.

I want to look great everyday. I dream about a closet filled with only one size of clothes. I dream about getting up each morning knowing every piece of clothing I own will fit me comfortably. And soon, this dream will be my reality. My temple told me so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When I started this blog, I was determined to diet my own way, without any help. That lasted a few months. I need help.

But I also need a more structured diet than Weight Watchers, so I began changing Weight Watchers to meet my goals. A few weeks ago I was ironing, and my eyes glanced at my bookshelf and settled on the Fat Flush Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman, a diet I used to shed pounds before our oldest daughter, Caitlin's wedding in 2004.

I actually liked that diet. It is very healthy and balanced, based on scientific research. Gittleman is a nutritionist, and I like that. In 2004 I used Fat Flush for five months, and lost about 50 pounds. This time, I have been steadily losing weight, exercising, and feeling much better than I did before I started. When I got weighed in at WW last Wednesday I had lost 4.6 pounds. Success!

When Jack reads this he will be angry, because he really feels that the only good diet is Weight Watchers. I still plan on attending weekly meetings, because I think the support is necessary. They are also motivating, and I think that's important.

But Weight Watchers is slow. And when I started to tweak the WW diet, I realized that what I had produced was actually Fat Flush. So why not go all the way?

I am so looking forward to tomorrow's weigh-in, something that hasn't happened in years.

Monday, July 11, 2011

This time, it's about me!

Finally! I am about to start putting my needs first. And believe me, that is a huge departure from my usual MO.

Last week really got me thinking about my weight. Motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me, but it also made me lose focus because I was just so busy. Work, cleaning, getting the kids to activities, shopping, cleaning -- there was precious little time left over for me. I'm not complaining. Just the facts.

In the past, when I decided to lose weight, there was always a special occasion I was losing for. And once that event happened, I started eating that day and would never stop.

I never really went on a diet because of me. I might talk a good game, and say it is all about good health, but down deep there is some date lurking that I have circled in my mind. And might I also add that although I always lost weight, I never lost enough to get to my goal.

This time, there is no date. All our kids are married, so there is no more walking down the aisle. This time, it is all about me and my health.

Last week's exercises really made me think about weight like I have never thought about it before. It made me face facts, and although I really didn't learn anything new, seeing it all written out really scared me. Like nothing else I have ever done.

So I have a choice: To lose weight and take care of myself so I can have a thriving senior experience. Or, continue on the way I am going, and find myself an old, shriveled couch potato with no zest for life, the kind of person I swore I would never become. Two weeks ago, that was my direction.

Not anymore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fresh beginnings


I look a tad better than I did this time last week. And see, there is a beginning of a smile on my face.

I am finally understanding the power of photos. I have always hid in photos. I'm the one in the last row or grabbing a child to sit on my lap or hold in my arms. And I ask you: Who am I kidding?

When I look at myself in a mirror, I look at my face -- real close -- so I don't have to see how round it's become. I never look at my body -- and if I do, again it's real close, so I don't actually see how all the rolls of fat.

Pictures don't lie. And although this weekly exercise is one of the more painful I have ever done in my life, it's important for me to see myself as other people see me. What I should have done is take pictures from each angle -- but I really need baby steps here. Full-frontal is about all I can manage right now.

I am facing one of my great fears -- pictures -- head-on. I'm not liking what I see, but what a chronicle!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A dose of reality

Years ago I read that if you want to get to the bottom of what's bugging you, it's time to make a list.

So here's what I did. At the top of the page I wrote:
"The Results of Compulsive Eating."

Then I stared at it for a long time, before I started to write down all the negative things that will happen to me if I continue to binge eat. We're talking worse-case scenario here.

I am not going to bore you with my whole list, because it took up one side of an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper. The top three will show the direction I was headed:
1. heart disease
2. diabetes
3. cancer

As you can see, those three would be enough to make anyone sit up and take notice.

It's the next part of this exercise that is so very important: Reframing, looking at the worst possible outcomes of any situation and deciding whether you can live with these outcomes. In most cases, when the issue is minor, you can, which makes you feel less stress and helps you solve the problem.

In this case, I could live with these issues -- but not one of them is something I would want to be facing. So I better reframe my emotions in order to get on with my life.

Now this is really important: By writing down the consequences of binging elevated binging to a different plain. All of a sudden binging is not about the moment -- it's really about how that moment is impacting my life, not only now, but in years to come.

By making that list, I was confronting binging in a way I had never done before. For the first time, it was not about an uncontrollable behavior. It was about what that uncontrollable behavior was doing to my body.

That list scared me. Whether it scared me enough to never binge again is something only time will prove. But I do know that list will never be far from my grasp. I made copies of it, and put it in strategic places, the places where binging always begins.

That list is my motivator for change. Right now, it's giving me faith in my ability to cope with binging.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recipe time!

One thing I have not done enough of in this blog is share recipes. Now is the perfect time to start, because although I am being really careful with what goes into my mouth, I need interest in my diet. My food's got to taste good.

Last night I whipped together I really terrific quick salsa to top my grilled grass-fed-non-antibiotic-containing-93-percent-lean hamburger without the bun. I have cut out sugar -- so ketchup right now is out. I am also not eating any fake sugars -- so sugarless ketchup is not an option. So what to put on my burger? This salsa.

Thank goodness I had a can of Muir Glen no-salt fire-roasted diced tomatoes in my pantry. Here's my recipe, although I would advise using it as simply a base and adding the veggies you love. What I used was in my fridge.

VAL'S SALSA
1 15-ounce can Muir Glen no-salt fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 scallions, green and white parts, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (adjust according to how hot you like it)
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, diced

Just mix everything together. You might want to wear plastic gloves when preparing the jalapeno.

P.S. It is so good, I wish I had doubled the recipe, because I know it will be topping lots of my food this week -- fish, poultry, even scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hard on myself

Reading over yesterday's post, one thing stood out: I am very hard on myself. I need to start a campaign of self-loving, of showing the respect and consideration to myself that I show to other people.

Guess I better lose some weight really quickly, because that is really the way to my heart. Time to get a handle on my compulsive eating.

I just did a search on eating compulsive/binge eating -- and it's actually one of the big three eating disorders -- right up there with anorexia and bulimia. How come I didn't know that?

It seems that people like me have issues understanding and distinguishing various feelings and needs. If we are bored, angry, stressed, tired or disappointed, we experience these feelings as hunger. And so we try to fix these feelings with food, thinking it will make us feel better. That quick fix.

But wait: Where does that quick fix leave me? Sometimes 2 to 3 pounds fatter, which just compounds those feelings of disappointment, anger and tiredness. Vicious circle? The worst.

Time for me to get off this merry-go-round. Of course, everything I read says I need help -- psychotherapist, drugs or maybe even an extensive treatment program.

I need to find another way. I'm not opposed to seeking help; I just want to try to work this out myself, because in the long run, I can't be using crutches. I know what started my eating issues, and I'm too old to focus all my attention on blaming mom. She was a wonderful mother. She just thought that bones showing was attractive and told me so from the time I could walk.

Today, when faced with a food I should ignore, I am going to look at it and say "killer." Because if I keep eating the way I am, that is exactly what these foods will do to me. Graphic enough? We'll see.

I'll also be one of those people with a bottle of water in my hand everywhere I go. If I want to eat, I'll take a sip. Or a gulp, depending on what food is calling my name.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Compulsive Eating

I have admitted before that I am a compulsive eater, that I know I have an eating disorder -- the same addiction that plagues alcoholics and drug addicts.

I am not talking about anorexia or bulimia -- neither pertains to my issues. I am talking about my inability to stop eating once I start. Nothing anyone says can derail me. Once I start, watch out. And once it ends, I not only feel physically horrid, emotionally I am a wreck.

I know thin people look at me with disdain, asking themselves why I have no will power. They assume many things, including:
1. I am not a strong person.
2. I don't care about how I look.
3. I am a failure.

None of those three items is true. I am an extremely strong person in most other aspects of my life, although when I am at the point I am now, insecurities start impacting my life.

I do care about how I look, but when I am eating uncontrollably, I am not thinking about lovely clothes.

Failure? I have a wonderful husband and three terrific, educated, thriving adult children, who all chose exceptional mates to spend their lives with. Failure? I think not.

So what is it that keeps me from dropping weight? I'm not sure, but I think this blog is going to be the perfect place for me to try to figure this all out.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What did I do?

It was very scary opening my blog this morning to see my fat body staring out at me. What is really sad is that I thought I was smiling when Jack took my picture. I guess I am in pretty bad shape internally as well.

Time to fix that.

We are planning a trip to Tuscany next summer, and I swear I am not going to Italy in fat clothes, if for no other reason than they take up too much space in my luggage.

Weight Watchers is a wonderful diet, but this losing .2 pounds a week is really getting me down. It's a wonderful maintenance plan, and when I finally lose the weight, I will keep attending meetings.

But right now I need desperate measures, which I swore I would never again result to. What I am basically doing right now is the old Weight Watchers -- really restrictive but healthy. I am eating lean protein -- mostly chicken and fish, with a little red meat from time to time -- lots of green vegetables, and limiting myself to three pieces of fruit a day. But I am counting the veggies and fruits into my daily PointsPlus, something you do not have to do on the new plan.

I love the new plan. And one day, I hope it can be the way I eat. But it's not working for me. Bottom line: I have an eating disorder. Tell me I can have all the fruit I want, and portions be dammed. I think that info hit me when I ate a whole watermelon recently. I am not talking about the seedless varieties that run small. I'm talking about the watermelon with seeds, almost impossible to find, that weigh more than a small child. Unfortunately, that watermelon was just one of the fruits I consumed that day. There was also bananas, strawberries, an apple and a peach.

Is there any wonder why I am not losing weight? It's not a good thing to tell a compulsive eater that she can eat something to her heart's content, unless that something is celery or iceberg lettuce.

Right now, I don't want choices. I want to get up each morning and not think about food. I want to know that each day I will have a salad that contains grilled chicken or shrimp and an apple, and for dinner, a green vegetable, some protein, and another piece of fruit for dessert. Because I really dislike breakfast, fruit is my new way to go. If I am feeling energetic, I might make a whey fruit smoothie. And if I am famished, which for some reason I have not been since I started eating this way on Monday, I will have a few pieces of Melba toast, because I will never overeat those. Sort of like eating cardboard.

I have not got on the scale this week -- Monday morning was too much of a shock to my psyche -- but I will this coming Monday. I also did something I haven't done for years: took my measurements. I will also do that every Monday, because losing inches is so much more important than what the scale is telling me.

I'm back! Let's see how far I get this time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two months gone


It seems like a year, but it's only been two months since I last posted. And what a two months it has been, eating everything in sight, packing on the pounds, and really feeling like such a failure.

Is there a reason for my actions? Not at all. My life is terrific, everyone is healthy, and I have nothing to complain about. So what has happened to me?

If I knew, then I wouldn't be fat. If I knew, I could make a million dollars, telling everyone the secret to being thin. If I knew, I would be able to step off this diet merry-go-round once and for all.

Unfortunately, I have no idea. But on Monday, I started eating normally again, and once again, I am praying I can keep this up. We'll see.

The reason I posted a picture: I hate the way I look right now, and seeing my fat body in print is incentive enough to keep me eating correctly. In fact, I plan on posting a new picture once a week, to chronicle my journey.

I'm back to posting on my blog. Because one thing I do know: I cannot lie in print.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is wrong with me?

I have been having a really hard time sticking to my Weight Watchers POINTS. I'm not sure why, but I am really frustrated and at a loss as to what to do.

I am exercising more than ever. Making time for exercise is part of my routine, not a chore. And I really am eating really healthy foods, it's just that I am eating too much of many good things. I do know that there are just some things I cannot bring into my house, and at the top of that list are nuts. I have never met a nut I didn't love. And I've tried to control my portions, but it can't be done.

I am journaling daily, so even when I eat too many nuts -- or whatever I have decided is the treat du jour - I record how many or how much I ate. My journal has become more like my diary, except that it has no lock. After all, who would really want to read my ramblings?

So today, I have decided to begin yet again.

At least I am not giving up. But come on: I've been writing this blog for 19 months and my weight has not changed all that dramatically. What is it going to take.....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finish line? Goals? Who me?

Each morning, Jane Powell's Meditations for Women arrive in my e-mail. Some are OK -- others, like today's, hit home. It asks the question: Are you in a race with no finish line?

I talk a good game, telling myself, and anyone who wants to listen, how much I want to lose weight. But do I really? In the back of my mind I do. What I haven't done is to set realistic goals, which is what today's meditation is about.

Weight Watchers is all about setting goals, and instead of telling you how much you need to lose, they set your first goal at 5 percent of your body weight. That's usually two weeks worth of weight loss on the Biggest Loser. It would take me at least double that to reach my 5 percent goal, but it certainly would be a start.

The meditation stresses the importance of goal setting, and then celebrating when you reach that goal. That alone gives your self-esteem and confidence a boost, simply because it proves that you are capable of reaching a goal.

But the meditation also stresses some important steps to take when setting a goal:
1. Determine what is important to you.
2. Resolve to pursue your goals with passion and persistence.

It's the passion and persistence I have been sorely lacking. Today, as I am driving to and from work, I am going to try to find ways to ignite passion and persistence.

And I have set a new goal: 5 pounds. That's not a lot, but with the way I have been eating recently, it is a ton of weight. And when I lose 5 pounds, I am going to treat myself to a massage, something I haven't had in about two years.

It really is important for me, and the way I view myself, to shed some serious weight. And if I wait until our season of events is over, it will be the fall before I lose weight.

But first, I have to step on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers, my weekly dose of reality. I pray next Wednesday will be different, that passion and persistence have been ignited, if for no other reason than my aching muscles can certainly use some deep kneading.

And that 5 pounds would translate into 25 pounds less pressure that's being forced on my knees and hips. Maybe, just maybe, if I concentrate on my aching knees, that will ignite passion and persistence. It's a thought....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Frightening!

I sit all day at work. And since my office is small, there is nowhere to go. That’s why a report in Men’s Health mag made me cringe. The magazine cited a study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana – analyzing the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years – that determined people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.

And the horrid part: It doesn’t matter if you smoke or exercise. If you sit, even if you exercise, eat well and don’t smoke, sitting men and women alike still have a 54 percent greater risk of having heart issues than folks who don’t live healthy lifestyles and move around all day.

The other problem is that researchers don’t know why, although they suspect it has to do with an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which breaks down fat in the bloodstream and turns it into energy. In addition to affecting your health, sitting all day also:
1. Screws up your posture. The fascia, the tissue that connects individual muscles into a full-body network, begins to set when you stay in one position for too long.
2. Makes you fatter. You burn 60 more calories an hour standing versus sitting. And, if you sit too much, your largest muscle group — the glutes (butt) — become lazy and quit firing and you burn fewer calories.


3. Causes lower back pain. Weak glutes push your pelvis forward, putting stress on the spine and your belly protrudes, making you look 5 months pregnant.

But Men’s Health has some suggestions:
1. Think of exercise as a lifestyle not an activity. Stop trying to be fit, and start trying to live fit.

2. Stand more throughout the day.
3. Take two breaks an hour. Grab a drink or walk to a co-workers desk. Or, simply stand and stretch for a minute. A European Heart Journal study of 5,000 men and women found that the quarter who took the most breaks during the day were 1.6 inches thinner than the quarter who took the least.


4. Stand during phone calls.
5. Don’t write long emails. Instead, talk to the person – and stand up when you call them.
6. Ask for a standup desk. Australian researchers found that workers who log more than 6 hours of seat time a day are up to 68 percent more likely to be overweight. Make sure the screen is at arm’s length, and the top at eye level. Position the keyboard so your elbows are bent 90 degrees.

And one from me: Take a 30-minute walk. I know I should do this, but I never do. Today, I am going to use those sneakers I keep in my office “just in case.”

What is a whole grain?

Whole grains are in. They are rich in dietary fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and keep us "moving" -- if you get my drift. They also fill you up, which can help anyone trying to lose some pounds.

But of course, once a food becomes popular, all the major food companies jump on the bandwagon -- and when that happens, it's wise to pay attention to what you are eating. Many manufacturers are trying to fool us, calling their products "wheat," which makes us think it's better for us than a loaf of Wonder's white. Most bread is made from wheat, so if it has that label, there is absolutely nothing new. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel -- and that's what you should be after.

If you really want a whole grain cracker, cereal, bread, rice or pasta, the first ingredient listed should be whole rye, whole oats, whole wheat, whole barley, whole cornmeal or graham flour. If the list starts with "wheat" or "enriched wheat," drop the bag or box. This is not whole grain.

Nothing could be simpler.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Popcorn!

Today is a special day: National Caramel Popcorn Day. If I wanted to celebrate -- and deep down I do -- I could really get into some serious trouble here. Caramel and butterscotch are my two favorite things in the world, held dearer than a bag of Twizzlers or a piece of cheesecake.

But Hungry Girl's tip today is to have a bag of Jolly Time Healthy Pop Caramel Apple microwave popcorn, which at only 3 PointsPlus per serving is a bargain.

The only reason I mention popcorn is that recently it has become my go-to food. Last night I was starved, and before dinner, I popped a bag and had it with a big glass of water. Jack thought I was crazy, but it filled me up and kept me from over-eating at dinner. When I eat a bag of popcorn, I feel as if I am eating something that is a treat, and for me, that helps me stay on a healthy eating track.

Since I recommitted to Weight Watchers a few weeks ago, a bag of Jolly Time is always in my pantry, at the ready when I need it most. Hungry Girl's tip today is a winner!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Diet tweaks

SELF magazine recently wrote about some easy-to-do diet make-overs that can make a big impact on the scale. None are hard, just little tweaks here and there.

Tea
A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Women showed that women with the highest intake of catechins, antioxidants in tea that may accelerate fat burn, gained less weight over 14 years than those who didn’t drink tea. White and green leaves have the most catechins.

A.M. workouts
Exercising on an empty stomach in the morning improves glucose tolerance, which spurs your body to shed fat, says a study a study in The Journal of Physiology finds..

Eat breakfast
Lifelong early eaters have a waistline about 2 inches smaller than that of breakfast skippers, says the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Breakfast may boost metabolism and may cause you to make less of an enzyme that raises cholesterol.

Slow done
People who took 30 minutes to eat a bowl of ice cream created more fullness hormones than those who ate faster, says a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Turn off the TV and concentrate on what you are eating.

Make some habits
When mice ate at scheduled times and fasted for 12 hours at night, their liver turned on genes that burned more sugar and fat, say scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Of course, those little mice had someone providing their meals, but it’s worth a shot.

Wonderful water
Research from Virginia Tech says that two cups of water taken before meals helped people lose about 5 pounds more than those who had no water. Water drinkers ate 75 to 90 calories less.

Step on the scale
It’s not necessary to weigh daily, but those who weighed at least weekly lost more weight than those who didn’t, according to research from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

Lasagna!

There's lasagna -- and then there's Hungry Girl's newest version. It's a white lasagna that uses one of my favorite cheeses, a Laughing Cow cheese wedge. I swear, when I am having a bad diet day, I reach for a few wedges of this cheese, spread it on some celery, and the combo is just enough to get me through until dinner.

Speaking of dinner, pass this lasagna! At 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving, it's just what the diet doctor ordered. Hungry Girl says it's white done right. I say anything with a white sauce that is not loaded with butter and high-fat cheese is something to smile about.
HG's Hungry Girlfredo White Lasagna3 medium zucchini, ends removed
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 large egg whites or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups chopped spinach
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
4 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese
4 tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping, divided
4 sheets oven-ready lasagna noodles (like the kind by Ronzoni)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Optional: additional salt and black pepper
Directions:
* Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
* Slice zucchini in half widthwise, and then slice each half lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Set aside.
* In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg whites, garlic, oregano, basil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Stir well and set aside.
* Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat on the stove. Add mushrooms and, stirring occasionally, cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until spinach has wilted and excess moisture has evaporated, about 2 more minutes.
* Remove skillet from heat and let cool. Blot away excess moisture from veggies, using paper towels. Transfer contents to the bowl of ricotta mixture and set aside.
* Re-spray skillet and return to medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook zucchini until softened, about 2 minutes per side; remove skillet from heat and re-spray between batches. Set zucchini aside.
* To make the sauce, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine sour cream with cheese wedges, breaking cheese wedges into pieces as you add them. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parm-style topping, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, until very warm. Stir until smooth and set aside.
* Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Evenly place 1/3rd of the cooked zucchini strips on the bottom. With a spoon or spatula, spread half of the ricotta-veggie mixture on top. Evenly top with 2 lasagna sheets, followed by 1/3rd of the sauce.
* Repeat layering with the same amounts of zucchini, ricotta-veggie mixture, lasagna sheets, and sauce. Evenly top with remaining zucchini, followed by remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining 2 tablspoons Parm-style grated topping.
* Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese starts to brown.
* If you like, season to taste with additional salt and black pepper. Cut into four pieces.
* Makes 4 servings. Calories: 290; Fat: 6.5g; Sodium: 726mg; Carbs: 33g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 10g; Protein: 21.5g; PointsPlus: 7.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Zen

I have a poster in my meditation called A to Zen -- Living One Day at a Time according to the Dalia Lama. I have read the 26 ways often, but what I haven't done is taken them one at a time.

Today, my morning e-meditation was about avoiding toxic people, the negative ones that zap your inner resolve, sucking the life, determination and self-love out of you faster than Superman's speeding bullet. And today, before I began morning yoga, I glanced at the poster, and the first step to Living One Day as a Time was: Avoid negative sources, people, places and habits.

Coincidence? I think not. Someone greater than me is sending a message. And believe me, it's a message I need right now.

I try very hard to remain positive and happy, because life really is worth living, and I would much rather do it with a smile on my face than a frown. But in some situations it is impossible to avoid negative people and situations. Today's messages cemented in my brain that since avoidance is impossible, I need to learn coping skills when faced with negativity.

Something else to work on, but it's a journey I need to take. Because when faced with difficult situations, one of the first things I turn to is FOOD. And I'm not talking fruits and vegetables here.

And that brings me to the Dalia Lama's thought: Avoid negative sources, people, places and habits. Seven powerful words. It's not only about people and places; he wants us to change our habits. And isn't that what losing weight is all about?

When confronted by negativity, the first thing I want is some comfort food loaded with calories. Today, when confronted with negativity, I intend to reach for some strawberries and cantaloupe while picturing my meditation room, a source of contentment and peace. At least I have a plan!

Friday, April 1, 2011

HUGE aha!

Something deep within me clicked this week, and for the first time in my life, I know I am going to reach my goal weight. I've said this before, but when I did, I felt like a fraud.

Not today.

And the reason is simple, actually something I began to think about when I started this blog. The name -- Diet? Not Again! -- says it all. I had decided then that I really did not want to diet. Since then, the list of diets I have tried numbers seven. I told you I felt like a fraud.

So why -- and how -- now? It started a week ago Wednesday, when my Weight Watchers' leader, Annmarie, suggested I eat a piece of my daughter's birthday cake, but to put a PointsPlus value to that piece of strawberry shortcake. I had never before ever put a PP value on anything that is loaded with sugar. When I told her I had no idea what the value would be, she suggested I go online and do some research to find out. Long story short: I gave it a value of 15 -- half the amount of PointsPus I am allowed in a day. But I also have an extra 49 PointsPlus a week -- so I started counting. And guess what: I didn't even use all my 49 PointsPlus.

In the past, if I had eaten the piece of cake, it would have set me up for a night of eating. To me, my diet would be blown, so why not eat everything in sight? I would tell myself it would be just for a night, but that night would have stretched to another day, and perhaps the next week.

It wasn't until I weighed in Wednesday at Weight Watchers that reality smacked me in the face: I lost 3.4 pounds. In the back of my mind, I thought I had been "bad" last week, because I ate that cake. It was what consumed my thoughts all last week. Once I found out I lost weight, I checked my food diary for the week, and discovered that I had eaten within my PointsPlus every day, even the cake day when I used my extra PP. Somehow I had blocked out the great choices I made, instead choosing to focus on the one piece of cake. That's really sad.

Weight Watchers has evolved over the years. The empahsis now is on portion control, healthy eating and exercise. The fact that it is not a diet but a way of eating is stressed each week. In the past, I have internally laughed at the concept, calling it a diet by another name. Today, I embrace it. The reason is simple:
* I can't get away from food.
* I love food.
* I love to cook.
* I love to eat.

And here is the key:
No matter the week, there is always some event I will have that could stop a diet plan dead. But there is nothing that can ever stop me from making healthy food choices.

If I am somewhere and there really is nothing to eat except fried chicken and ambrosia salad, I will eat lightly, but more importantly, affix a numerical PointsPlus value to the food. Thin people all over the world make choices daily.

Plus, by not affixing a PP value to some foods, I was not holding myself accountable for eating the food. Instead, I was giving myself license to keep eating. I was running away from facing a big problem in my life; running away from problems never solves anything.

I know I am on the right track, and that I will stop yo-yo dieting forever.

And no, this is not an April Fool's joke. I have never EVER been more serious and determined.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Power of two -- or more!

I am a perfect example of how great the buddy system works. August 1, 2010, I signed a contract with my friend, Ann, in which we both committed to exercising at least five times a week. Some would say we were nuts -- actually drawing up a formal contract and each of us signing it. But it meant something to each of us, and it's a contract we have honored for eight months now.

I really have to be injured not to exercise. And even after spraining my ankle a few weeks ago, and pinching a nerve in my neck last week, last night -- the first night I have felt yoga-ready in weeks -- I headed back to class at Yoga4Everybody in Fairfiled. And I was back again at 7 a.m. today to take another class. This morning, as I relaxed during the last asana, Savasana, I realized I had started to cry. That was how happy I felt to be back at the studio. A year ago, if I had a crystal ball, I would have thought I had crossed over into some dark, weird place.

Exercising is a way of life for me, and Ann as well.

Wednesday morning, the topic of Weight Watchers was the importance of finding a diet buddy. There I sat, with Ann on my right, husband Jack on my left, and all I kept thinking was, "How lucky can I be?"

I have the support I need to lose weight, both at home and when I am away from home. I could call on either one of them to talk me down from eating a package of Twizzlers. And either one would be more than willing to help out, would not utter a word of judgment, and would urge me to make another choice.

As I was sitting there in my meeting, I thought to myself that it really is time for me to stop fooling around with my weight loss journey. It is time to get real, and to finally shed the pounds I want to lose. I'm not happy being the weight I am now, so why, for heaven's sake, don't I do something about it?

For some odd reason, something clicked deep inside me this week. I think I know what it was, but I need to think about it some more today. Hopefully I'll figure it out by tomorrow morning so I can put it to words.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The saga continues

When last I wrote, the topic was strawberry shortcake, a birthday cake for my daughter from the most decadent bakery ever to hit Fairfield, CT: Isabelle et Vincent. As soon as Isabelle showed me their handiwork on Saturday, I knew I was in trouble. I could throw all sorts of adjectives at this glorious cake, but perfect sums it up.

And perfect it was. Not like the American version of strawberry shortcake, this one had layers of cake so moist and thin they crumbled in your mouth. The cream was more a rich, pastry cream, and the strawberries, the best in any produce bunch.

I convinced my daughter-in-law to take half of the leftovers home, but since our daughter was going out for the night, half remained in our fridge. Jack was tired, so he went upstairs, while I stayed up, cleaning up the last odds and ends from our feast. It was me and the cake. And that leftover cake was calling my name. I swear I heard it.

I opened the fridge, and was about to dig into the leftovers with a fork that somehow miraculously appeared in my hand when all of a sudden something within me screamed, "Are you kidding?"

Before giving it a second thought, that perfect cake landed in the sink flushed down the garbage disposal. I wish I could say I left it in the fridge and fought temptation, but I can't. Maybe one of these days,; just not now. But I have to admit I was very proud of myself Saturday night.

A small triumph. Good for me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strawberry shortcake, cream on top!

Yesterday morning I went back to Weight Watchers, although my heart was not in it. It turned out to be exactly what I needed.

The topic: What makes us stray from a healthy eating track and ways to get back on board. My new leader Annmarie -- who I had met once before -- must have sensed my unease with the topic because she focused on me. That was the best thing anyone could have done because she made me think about why I do what I do.

A few sentences was all she needed. I told her how some days I can be so good, and other days, so bad. Eureka! Annmarie reminded us all that healthy eating is not about being good or bad; that we should all banish those words from our vocabulary when we think about eating. Instead, we need to concentrate on eating good, nourishing foods, portion control and exercise. And yes, it's also about eating a slice of strawberry shortcake or a piece of chocolate every now and then, but when we do, factor those PointsPlus into our daily total. If we are out, as soon as we get home, we should try to locate nutritional values for what we just ate, and add them immediately to our daily totals.

It sounds so simple, but then, the most successful things in life usually are. She also asked me if there was a challenge I would be facing this week. Of course there is: my daughter's birthday. Kara has requested a strawberry shortcake from Isabelle et Vincent's, the most decadent french bakery to hit Fairfield, CT -- ever.

Annmarie told me I should have a piece of cake, but suggested a few things:
1. Cut pieces of cake for everyone else first, making sure each of those pieces are a good size -- unless someone asks for a sliver.
2. Cut my slice last, and make it small.
3. Place the rest of the cake out of reach.
4. Have containers ready, and as soon as I get up from the table, portion the remainder of the cake into the containers and be sure they go home with guests.

And then one, from a Weight Watcher like me: Make a huge bowl of strawberries and pineapples, fill my plate first with the fruit, leaving a bit of room for a small slice of cake. Since all fruit is 0 PointsPlus, leave that bowl in front of me, so if I am tempted to eat anymore cake, reach for the fruit instead. Of course, I could also skip the cake and top the fruit with Cool Whip.

It really is all about choices, planning, and living life to the fullest. I really can have my cake -- and eat it too. It's just the amount I eat that needs some tweaking.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guilt!

Karen has been my Weight Watchers leader -- off and on -- for more years than I care to admit. So when she gave it up last month, it became an issue for me.

I miss Karen and her sage advice, especially when I am in one of my diet "moods." So I emailed her yesterday, and once again, she gave me some words to ponder.

I asked her why I can be so good for so long, and then bam -- one day I wake up and start eating.

Karen, now speaking as what she calls a "civilian," says that when dieting, we eliminate things that we love eating -- something we can do for a time. Every now and then, Karen suggests you eat some of those non-diet foods. The key: You have to plan. Sure, it might extend your weight-loss journey, but it makes you happier.

"It may be slower but it helps manage any feelings of deprivation," Karen writes. "It seems to help me handle my portions and frequency of these kinds of things if I plan for them. I can look forward to them without the guilt."

It's the last word that hit me like a brick. Guilt. I sure have that when my eating is not stellar. And could it be the guilt that sends me into a dieting tizzy?

There are not enough shrinks in the world to make me understand my guilt. It comes from my childhood, growing up Catholic educated in a half Irish/Half Jewish neighborhood where everyone was guilty of some indiscretion daily -- usually more than once a day. In some odd way, it's comfort food for my soul. It's just that familiar. And we all know how comfort food can pack on the pounds.

I actually have never thought about how guilt has probably impacted my eating today. And I am certainly not going to dwell on it. Today, I am content to think about guilt, and to try to eliminate it from my being. It will probably be similar to cutting off my right arm, but hey, it's time to let go of that five-letter word.

It's time to stop feeling guilty. Guilt should be saved for the really bad things you do in life, certainly not eating a bag of Twizzlers. Instead, I will really try to plan for some diet bumps, recognize that they are part of life, and keep traveling down the good eating road. If I stay on course, I will eventually reach my goal. And if I eliminate guilt, when I get there, instead of being road weary, I will be wearing a big smile.

Guilt is not comfort; it is destructive.

Monday, March 21, 2011

So hard

Anyone who says dieting is a snap has never dieted. And yes, although my blog's name is telling me not to diet, face facts: A healthy eating plan that makes you lose weight is a diet.

And right now, it's been near impossible for me to stay on my eating plan. I wake up each morning determined to eat great, and by noon, all best intentions are gone.

Yesterday, I even started to go though some diet books again, because yet again, I am desperate.

I am boring myself. How many Monday mornings do I have to sit at my computer angry at myself? I should know better. If for no other reason, I need to shed pounds so that maybe I can ditch my CPAP machine, the cure for my sleep apnea and the mask I dread doning nightly.

So today, yet again, I start anew. And today, I am going to do one thing: drink eight glasses of water. No magic here. Just common sense.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hake: My new fave fish

Thanks to Weight Watchers, I made the most amazing fish last night. So good, Jack said he wants it again -- high praise, believe me. And at 6 PointsPlus per serving, it fits in really well with my diet!

The recipe calls for cod, but Whole Foods had hake on sale yesterday, for the ridiculous price of $5.99 a pound. Hake, once called trash fish because no one wanted it, is really a wonderfully sweet, white fish. As fish prices keep going up, hake really can do great things for your food budget, and if you like cod, halibut, pollock of haddock, you'll love hake. I served it with brown rice and a saute of sugar snaps, scallions, garlic and ginger. I poured the extra sauce from the fish on the rice to power the taste up a notch.

MISO-GLAZED COD
1 1/2 lbs. cod, or other white sauce
1/4 cup miso paste
2 Tblsp. dark brown sugar
2 Tblsp. mirin
1 Tblsp ginger root, (I doubled the amount since I love ginger)
1 Tblsp. dark sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar


* Place fish, skin-side down, in a broiler-proof pan.

* Place miso, sugar, mirin, ginger, oil and vinegar in a blender; blend until smooth. Pour glaze over cod and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

* Preheat broiler to high.

* Broil fish until topping turns golden brown and starts to caramelize, and fish is no longer translucent in middle, about 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who am I?

I'm reading Deepak Chopra's "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga" very slowly, because I really am trying to absorb everything he is putting forth. Today, I read a page, and then meditated on it for 15 minutes.

Chopra instructs that you close your eyes, take several deep breaths, and then ask yourself every 15 seconds "Who am I?"

Of course the first things that popped into my mind were wife, mother, grandmother, my job. Question No. 6 was the one that almost made me cry because my answer was "serial dieter." And I am. Have been for more than four decades. How sick is this?

It makes me want to beat some sense into my thick brain.

Yesterday I admitted that last weekend, I wanted to eat EVERYTHING that wasn't nailed down, and unfortunately I did. Yesterday was a repeat of the weekend: I wanted to eat EVERYTHING again, but resisted the urge. Yesterday was miserable, because the battle within -- raging between Palin, my bad inner girl, and Hebzabah, the one who only eats well -- was extreme. After dinner, the girls in the family wanted ice cream, and Jack was almost on his way to the store when I told him I didn't want any. That broke the spell, and instead, I had a cup of tea and a Weight Watchers pop, which at 4 PointsPlus, fit into my daily total.

I woke up today with a smile on my face. And the first thing I did was pray that the battle within will not be as fierce as it was yesterday.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Aching knees!

We all have our reasons for losing weight: Clothes that fit, better health, more energy.

All good reasons. But here's another: A low body weight is vital for healthy joints in our lower body. For every extra pound of body weight we lug around, our hips and knee joints suffer five times the impact. Five extra pounds adds 25 pounds of impact every time you take a step.

I want to lose 35 pounds, which would mean my knees and hips would thank me for losing 175 pounds of impact. Too much to comprehend.

But I love that 5-pound figure. So that's my new goal. By the end of April, I will lose 5 pounds, but internally I will process that number as 25 pounds. When June 1st comes around, my total will be 10 -- but actually 50. I can easily do 5 pounds a month. And if I look at it this way, by Nov. 1, I will be at goal weight. That's just in time to turn my clothes over to all-winter outfits. And when I do, I will pack up my fat clothes, and off they will go to Goodwill.

Another great concept: A closet filled with one-size clothes.

What's wrong with me?

I've been asking myself this question all weekend. I've been in an out-of-control eating pattern, and absolutely nothing I did got me back on track.

And I have no excuse. The sun was shining, the snow has melted, and if I wanted, I could have taken a long walk.

I could blame it on my slightly sprained ankle, which has been hurting for about four weeks now. Not enough to make me limp, but enough to hurt when I walk. But this really is not an excuse because I CAN WALK. And I could go to the yoga study, but I've been afraid I would re-injure it. I have been doing my home practice, and that helps, but it's not enough.

My sprained ankle happened at the same time my walking buddy had foot surgery, so I've used this all as an excuse. And one excuse became another excuse until I find myself today, really not too happy with me.

So I have two choices: One, to continue doing what I have been doing, or two, to recommit to healthy eating and exercise. I'm choosing the latter.

Today, it's a new day, time to stop looking back and start looking ahead.

And here's my plan:
1. To write down everything that passes my lips.
2. To do a little exercise - maybe the one-mile walk with my buddy Leslie Sansone.
3. To drink lots of water today.

So I'm back to baby steps. But just writing this down is cathartic. And renewing. I have a plan. Now all I have to do is stick to it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Water

There was a time when I had no problem drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Recently, if I make four glasses I think I did well.

But do I really need that much? Complicated answer.

Daily, we lose water through our breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.

Heinz Valtin, MD, an emeritus professor at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., and an expert on hydration, wrote in the Journal of Physiology that there is no evidence that supports drinking eight glasses of water a day.

The Mayo Clinc tweaks this rule by saying we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day, since all fluids count toward the daily total. Mayo, like Dr. Valtin, says there is no scientific data to support the fact that we do need this much water, although they say it is an easy rule to remember and can serve as a guideline. With this guideline, coffee and tea would count to our fluid total.

The Institute of Medicine ups this rule a tad, advising men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

Here's Mayo's rule: If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

I'm not about to measure my urine, but I will try to up my water intake because it keeps me full. In the middle of the day, when I could eat anything in sight, often a large glass of water might be all I need.

My main problem: I have to remember to reach for the water first before reaching for Twizzlers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baked Potato soup: Yum!

It was my turn to cook our Monday night family dinner -- a weekly tradition that gets us together with two of our children and their spouses. Monday night dinners are sacrosanct -- you better have a real good reason for not attending.

This week I wanted to try something new, and Baked Potato Soup sounded so warm and inviting. It was a hit, and something I plan on making over and over again. At at 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving, I think it's a diet bargain. For our group of six, I doubled the recipe -- and it all went.

BAKED POTATO SOUP
1 large garlic bulb, 1/4-inch-slice cut off top
3 lbs. uncooked potatoes, rinsed, pierced with a fork (about 6 large baking potatoes)
6 slices uncooked turkey bacon
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 Tblsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
6 Tblsp. reduced-fat sour cream
6 Tblsp. low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
6 Tbsp scallion(s), sliced

* Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wrap entire garlic bulb tightly in foil; place garlic and potatoes in oven. (You do not need to put them on a pan; they can go right on an oven rack.)
* Bake garlic until soft when squeezed, about 45 minutes; remove from oven and let cool. Continue baking potatoes until tender when pierced, about 15 minutes more; let potatoes stand until cool enough to handle.
* Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Place bacon on paper towels to drain off any fat; chop bacon.
* Unwrap garlic and squeeze pulp from bulb with hands into a large saucepan. Peel potatoes and add to saucepan; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Gradually stir in broth, thyme, salt and pepper until blended; place saucepan over medium heat and cook until hot, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes.
* Spoon about 1 1/3 cups of soup into each of 6 soup bowls. Top each with 1 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of cheese, 1 rounded tablespoon of bacon and 1 tablespoon of scallions. Grind fresh pepper over top if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Willpower

When did willpower become a dirty word, so not PC? I think it's an outgrowth of our inability to take responsibility for our actions. It's just easier to blame our added weight on our moms, our husbands, our lives.

Today, I take absolute responsibility for my weight. My mom might have caused me to have some body issues, but my mother died 19 years ago and my thinking about what she did does me no good. Get over it, get a backbone, and get on with life.

My lack of being able to stay true to a diet plan is my fault, not mom's. I did this to myself. I just like food too much.

Which gets me back to the "W' word. Personally, I think it makes a powerful statement. Willpower is having the strength to act in pursuing a goal. It's all about self-discipline, something else dieters are sometimes told to ignore. I think willpower and self-control is exactly what I should be striving for. Of course, the danger here is that when I go off track, my negative internal voices will tell me I am a failure with absolutely no willpower.

So here are my new two tricks for boosting my willpower.
1. I named my negative and positive voices early last month. It's much easier for me to shoot down a negative voice when I am picturing my negative voice (Palin), saying the words. When I remember to conjure up Palin, I am able to shut down my negative voice. I need to work on this, so it becomes second nature.
2. Just say no. I hated that easy solution Nancy Reagan thought would cure drug addiction, but when it comes to food, a few internal "NOs" screamed in my mind might just snap me out of an eating binge.

I really think it's time to get tough with myself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Imaginary "friends"

Yesterday, I named my negative internal voice Pallin, my positive voice Hepzabah. But midday, just when I was about to eat something I shouldn't, I started thinking Pallin, and avoided temptation.

So now Pallin has just become my inner BAD voice, the one that tells me I really want that chocolate chip cookie. Yesterday it was Pallin -- in her oh so annoying voice -- telling me to eat that cookie, and since there is no way I would ever do what Pallin advised, I ate some grapes instead.

Could it be this easy? Probably not. But it certainly gave me pause yesterday because it worked. Will it work all the time? Probably not, but that's OK since I am not into perfection. But I am so into tricks, and as long as this works for me, I will use it. Over and over again.

The key for me was identifying a person whose ideas I abhor and make her my inner voice of "unreason." I disagree with just about everything she stands for, so why would I ever follow her advice when she's telling me to eat chocolate chip cookies? I put a face to my inner tormentor, and yesterday I loved the result.

And of course, there is no worry that I might start talking to myself. The least amount of time I spend with Sarah P, the happier I will be!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meet Pallin and Hebzabah

Last week I was renewed, determined to stay on track and start seriously shedding pounds. Then the weekend came, and my resolve flew away.

Why can't I be trusted to stay on track, to avoid cheesecake and lemon squares, to just say no to temptation when it's put in front of me?

And when I ate the cheesecake and lemon squares, did that make me happy? Sure they were yummy, but did they make me happy? Of course not. Yet again, I was angry at myself, and the negative voice started taking over, telling me what a failure I am.

And no matter how hard I tried to tell the negative voice to go away, she was there to stay, invading my thoughts, so instead of getting up Sunday morning determined to eat well, I had some more lemon squares Sunday afternoon. And a brownie, because the person passing them out made me feel guilty for first saying no.

Today I woke up and reality smacked me in the face. I am my worst enemy, the one who sabotages my good intentions. I am giving away my power to either food or someone who wants me to eat food. How sad. And although I have danced around this knowledge for years, this morning it is making sense to me.

If I am really going to fight my battle of the bulge, it has to come from deep within me, because deep within is my the desire to lose weight -- once and for all. And deep within is that positive voice, the one who encourages me to make good food choices. I just have to find and embrace her, so when cheesecake and lemon squares are put in front of me, she is gently whispering in my ear that I am better them those sweets, that I can say no, and if I do, I will wake up the next day happy and certainly healthier.

Today, I named my negative voice Pallin. And my positive voice is Hepzabah, a pet name my father called me when I was a child. I cringe when I say Pallin, and smile when I say Hepzabah, so this should work.

It's all about becoming the master of my universe. It's time to tap into the power within me. I know it's there. I also know that it wants what's best for me.