Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Word power

Researchers at Boston College and the University of Houston found that dieters who say "I don't" when asked if they want a slice of pie are more likely not to eat that pie than dieter's who say "I can't" or  those who "just say 'no.' "

The study was small, however the researchers say the "I don't" participants had greater success than the other two groups because they felt empowered and in control after uttering those words. And this group also said they felt they would continue this experiment because of their success.

So today, I am giving this  a try.  It's certainly easy enough to do. Plus it's free, an unusual concept in the world of diets.

And when I really think about it, saying "I don't" is something many of us do all the time. I don't want to step on the scale. I don't want to diet. I don't want to exercise. But I know I should.

In most cases, it has a negative connotation. And eating foods that I know are not healthy is one of the most negative things I can do for my body.

So, "I don't" it is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

All about ME

I got an email from a friend yesterday that made me laugh -- yes, out loud!

She is having trouble with chocolate and has asked ME for help. I must also add that this friend is my most disciplined one -- she can actually have a box of chocolates in her home and eat only one a day. But recently, she says, her chocolate eating is out of control.

Did I also mention she is very thin?

I've been through this with her in the past, and her out-of-control eating is usually having two pieces of chocolate each day. To her, that's horrid. I think not, but it's her reality, and it makes her crazy.

And I know what she needs: a pep talk about how she really has improved her eating habits the last few years, and she needs to look at her diet as a whole and applaud the good things she is doing to make herself healthy.

But as I was thinking about what I am going to say to her today, I started to think of my own diet. I also began to think about how hard I am on myself -- that when I take a break and eat something I know I shouldn't, Ms. Negativity starts rearing her ugly head, I start feeling like a failure, and guess what: I throw all caution aside and usually start an eating binge.

I'll be a s positive as I can be when I give my friend her pep talk. So what if I started to treat ME like a friend? If I stray -- and I know I will -- instead of looking at ME as a total failure, what if I did the opposite and pumped ME up? Told ME what I had just done is human, and shows I am not perfect. Instead of starting an eating binge, why not convince ME that ME really wants to lose weight and eat mostly healthy food. Tell ME that these food bumps in the road will come and go. It's what's after the bumps that will either keep ME on track, or derail me sometimes for months.

So, now my eating disorder has a name: ME. I need to be kinder to ME.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The all-important first meal

I've never been a fan of breakfast. Probably because I don't especially like eggs, and because I am allergic to milk, cereal has never held much interest. Of course, if I could have a stack of pancakes each morning, I would. But I can't.

But everything I read says that to diet successfully you have to eat breakfast. This week's experiment was to do just that. Eggs really do fill me up, so I gritted my teeth Monday morning and made myself two eggs, loaded with scallions, basil, mushrooms, grated ginger and a touch of tarragon. There was hardly room for the eggs, which was fine with me.

I set a placemat down complete with cloth napkin, and sat at our kitchen bar slowly eating my eggs. I did not stand and gulp them down as I usually do. I sat and savored every bite.

Today was my fourth day on the experiment. But today I limited the egg to one to see if this will get me through the morning. So far, so good, and I am more than halfway through the morning.

But the really important lesson: I never once thought about food any morning this week. Usually, around 10 a.m., I am looking at the clock, counting the minutes until lunch. This week, I was eating lunch around 1:30 p.m., simply because I was not hungry.

So maybe there really is something to breakfast after all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bright idea!

All day yesterday I thought about what I wrote that morning. Great sign. But right before bedtime, I started to think about another list I should make.

Why do I want to lose weight? Many people my age decide to give up and accept their bulges. I am definitely not one of them. I really, really do want to lose weight.

But to do so, perhaps I need to verbalize the why. So here goes:

1. Health. Always health. Especially as we age, the yo-yoing is just not healthy.
2. My closet. It's big. 9x12, which makes it a room. But I have no room for all my clothes. I still have to turn it over seasonally because I have at least 5 sizes of clothes. That's insane. My dream: One closet, all my clothes on view, in one size.
3. My looks. I really am not a vain person, but I really hate the way I look now.
4. My stamina. When I eat better I have more energy.
5. My feet. I have lots of feet issues, and I am sure the extra pounds have a lot to do with my aching feet.
6. Ditto my knees. Although they do not hurt as much as my feet, they hurt.
7. My self-esteem. When I am thinner, I have a lot more self-confidence and I like myself better.
8. Yoga. When I am thinner, my body transitions through the poses better.
9. IBS. I just wrote a magazine article about Irritiable Bowel Syndrome, and halfway through my interviews I realized I have been suffering from this for years. And I know what aggravates it for me: wheat and dairy. So give those things up, already.
10. My grandchildren. I want to have the stamina to crawl on the floor, ride bikes and play sports with them.

An even 10. I am sure with a little more thought I can add to the list, but this is a start. I'm printing it out, and carrying it around with me. When I am tempted to eat something I shouldn't, if I whip out the list, maybe it will give me the strength to resist.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's spring!

I love what spring symbolizes: Rebirth and a time for new beginnings. Sounds like the perfect time to get serious about healthy eating.

Yesterday I wrote about consistency, so why not consider this season as my month to be consistent, to eat healthy every day now through June 21 -- three months for me to develop terrific, new habits.

This morning, an e-blast from Kripalu arrived with this suggestion: Spend 15 minutes writing about what I need to accept about my life right now. That seems like the perfect exercise to assess what I am thinking and the direction I need to take.

So here goes:
1. I am definitely not at the weight I want to be.
2. Many of the clothes in my closet that I am dying to wear do not fit.
3. Until I lose weight, my fat clothes are it.
4. My foot still hurts, but I need to stop using that as my excuse not to exercise. I just have to be aware of my foot issue and go slowly.

Now for the good things about my life.
1. I am one of the luckiest women in the world: I have a wonderful family, a true support system that I can turn to whenever I need help. I need to use them more often.
2. I no longer have to go to an office to work. What freedom that is. My office is in my home. I am working for two fine editors, and I love getting up each morning to work on the articles I am doing for them. My work is my passion once again, and for that I am forever thankful.
3. Yoga and meditation: They keep me grounded.
4. I have to stop being so hard on myself. Eating healthy is a journey, and I plan to take it one day at a time this spring.

I need to also remember that there is only one person in the world that has control over what goes in my mouth.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Monday

Yet again, I am starting over. Hate this.

Sure, life is all about do overs, but honestly, enough is enough. Today, I woke up determined to eat only great things today, and so far, so good.

But I am only halfway through the day.

Even I know that losing weight is not about one day. It's about a string of days, all filled with only good food and lots of exercise that will get me to my goal.

One day? That's only a start. Consistency is what counts. Seven days a week, for many months. They say it takes at least a month to develop a new habit, but once that month is over, the habit is with you to stay. I do buy into this philosophy when it comes to most things. Not eating. For me, it takes more than a month.

It will take the rest of my life.

I just reread what I wrote, and I felt as if I was slapped in my face. Yes, to lose weight, and to keep it off, will be a lifelong battle.DUH! However, there is no better day than today to begin.

If I wait till next week, Monday the 26th will be another do over. I really don't want that to happen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Curb that hunger

A very wise person once told me that dieting is not about giving up but adding -- leafy greens, whole grains, fruits and lots of water -- so the good eventually crowds out the bad. There's just not enough room in your tummy for everything.

What you crowd out are the highly processed carbs found throughout the grocery store -- the fiberless, nutrient lacking foods that major food companies love the jam down our throats. And we can't resist because they taste too damn good.

High-fiber foods, good fats, and lean protein work together to help slow the digestion of the sugar in carbs. Fill your system with the good stuff and your body produces less insulin, and less insulin means fewer swings in blood-sugar levels. And why is this important? Because if we keep our blood-sugar levels on an even keel, our cravings and hunger just goes away.

We feel satisfied: What a concept!

Fiber: We all  know we should eat more. Abut a month ago, I began starting and ending the day with a teaspoon of pysillium (the natural stuff not the manufactured Metamucil, Benefiber, etc.) dissolved in a cup of water. It really gets things moving, which for me is always an issue. I like to follow my morning pysillium with some steel-cut oatmeal -- and I have to say I often have to remind myself that it's time for lunch. I did some research and learned that before my stomach digests the sugars in the oatmeal, it has to separate the sugars from the fiber. Then the fiber passes undigested through my system, naturally slowing down digestion. That promotes satiety.

Fat. For years I avoided fats like the plague. Low-fat diets were the rage -- and I was starving most days. It's one of the reason I am enjoying the Sonoma Diet: It is teaching me that fat is my friend, especially when it's the good fats such as olive and nut oils. But fat also helps in digestion, slowing the speed at which my small intestines access the sugars I've eaten. Fats are a chef's best friend, simply because they make food taste better. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are the best kind. And of course, when you are trying to shed pounds, there really can be too much of a good thing. However, used sparingly, friends are becoming my new best friend.

Protein is digested slowly and keep blood sugar from spiking -- so again, you feel satisfied for a longer period of time. If it's not oatmeal I am eating for breakfast, it's two eggs scrambled with lots of veggies. And just like the oatmeal, it keeps those late-morning hunger pains away. For lunch, I add either grilled chicken or beans to my huge salad, and dinner is always a protein, a small serving of brown rice and lots of veggies. For me, this way of eating works.

Acidic foods. Before I take my morning psyllium, I squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a cup of warm water. My mom always started her day - and mine -- this way, so it comes naturally for me. But what I have since learned is that acidic foods -- lemons, limes, grapefruit, vinegar -- slow the digestion of carbs and the rate at which the stomach empties. So, lemon juice in the a.m., and vinegar dressing my salads at lunch and dinner.

If I ate like this every day, I would be svelt in no time flat. If -- that little word that always gets in the way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Arthur Avenue!

Our trip to Arthur Avenue was a resounding success. Lunch at Rigolleto was amazing as always, and although we got there at 2 -- what in most restaurants is an off period -- it was jammed: a bridal shower, a CYO team celebrating a win, cozy tables for two, and large tables filled with multi-generational families.
The latter would be us. This restaurant has been our go-to place for years, the place we go to celebrate all manner of special occassions. And there we were Sunday -- just celebrating life -- with our son, his wife, their darling little baby, Kiley (she's the one in the picture!) and our youngest daughter and her husband.
My food choices could have been worse . Although I decided to skip an appetizer, I ate freely of the complementary hard cheese, bread and bruscetto topping. My lunch -- gnocchi bolognese -- was incredible. But I ate each bite slowly, and in fact, was the last person to finish dinner. And yes, I ate every last bite.
The mandatory stroll down Arthur Avenue came with a stop at a local pastry shop for one small cannoli. I could have eaten a large, not to mention the biscotti that was calling my name, but one little pastry was it.

Our day had started at a track meet in New York City and a stop at the Guggenheim. And of course, our walk through the Arthur Avenue neighborhood, so we were on our feet a lot. On the way home, we drove through my old neighborhood in the Bronx, and when I saw the apartment building I called home for 22 years, a few tears leaked out.

It was a perfect day. And when I got on the scale the next day, I was the exact weight I was the morning before. I would call that a trememdous success!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here's to omega-3!

We all need essential fatty acids, and Dr. Andrew Weil has come up with some easy ways for us all to add omega-3 fatty acids. He recommends eating several servings of oily fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon, per week as a dietary strategy to help decrease the risk of heart disease, inflammatory conditions, cancer and other health concerns. However, if you find fresh or frozen wild Alaskan salmon is too expensive, he suggests these more economical choices:

1.     Canned salmon. Sockeye salmon is always wild-caught, costs less than fresh or frozen salmon, and has the added benefit of the canning process, which softens the bones, making them an edible source of calcium.

2.     Canned sardines. Another fish-based source of omega-3s, choose sardines packed in water or olive oil.

3.     Walnuts. A good vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids that promote cardiovascular health and tone down inflammation, and contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant compound that helps support a healthy immune system and that may help protect against cancer.

4.     Freshly ground flaxseed contains both omega-3s and soluble fiber. Grind flaxseed daily in a coffee grinder at home (buy one specifically for this purpose) and sprinkle one to two tablespoons a day on salads or cereals.

5.     Chia seeds. An important part of the diet of ancient Aztecs and Mayans, chia seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vital minerals including calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A week of reflection

At the end of October I spent a week at Kripalu, a glorious yoga retreat in the heart of the Berkshires. While there, I made two decisions:
1. To eat mindfully, relishing each bite that passes my lips and eating slowly.
2. To leave my job in public relations.

No. 2 I accomplished Feb. 28th. It's not that I didn't like public relations. It's just that I enjoy magazine writing so much more, and thankfully, have enough freelance assignments to make this move possible.

It's No. 1 that is a work in progress.

Today, I start Wave 1 of the Sonoma Diet, and today's message that arrived in my email hit a nerve. It was the message I heard over and over again at Kripalu: Slow done, and be mindful of what I am eating and how I am eating it. I feel as if a hammer has just struck my head.

Today, the Sonoma Diet is reinforcing what I learned during that glorious week at Kripalu. That week was life changing for me professionally. Why didn't the eating part of it stick?

Simply put: I was not ready to accept the message. I thought I was, but obviously I wasn't. Today, I am.

I am about to go downstairs to make myself a healthy breakfast: scrambled egg with veggies. I will also set a place for myself at our breakfast bar, complete with placemat, napkin and vitamins. I am going to eat silently (as I did every morning at Kripalu), focusing on each bite and chewing slowly.

And I will repeat this for lunch.

Watch out Jack: Tonight we are eating dinner in the dining room. We will enjoy our dinner, and talk about our day. It's in my power to bring back the family meal, an important part of our day when the kids were growing up. Now, we eat our meals in front of the TV. That's stopping today.

According to the Sonoma Diet, every extra second you take eating any meal makes it that much easier to keep your weight down. Sounds like a plan to me!

I have also made three prints of the photo at the top of this post. It is the view from my window at Kripalu -- that freak October snow that blanketed our region. One photo is going on my fridge. A second in my pantry. The third will go on the side of my printer, so I can look at it many times each day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's wrong with the word diet?

Has it really been five months since I even opened this blog? Of course it has, because I've been on a binge. Eating out of control. With no end in sight.

That's why I'm back.

But I have a problem. The name of my blog is Diet Not Again! because when I started it, I was determined to lose weight without dieting. I bought into the concept that the word diet is a bad four-letter word, and that to really succeed at weight loss, my eating had to become a way of life. I get that. But for me, saying the word diet keeps me honest. The truth is my perfect way of life would be eating as many Twizzlers as I wanted without them ever affecting my weight and my health. Ha.

So today, I say: I am starting a DIET Monday morning. Why am I not starting it tomorrow? Because Sunday we are headed to Arthur Avenue, that little slice of Italian heaven in the Bronx, and there is no way I am eating lightly at my favorite restaurant, Rigoletto's. In fact, this weekend, I am eating everything I want to eat because I want to.

Monday morning, Sonoma Diet here I come. It even has the word DIET in the title. I've looked at just about every diet out there, spending hours in the bookstore, and chose this one because -- dare I say it -- the recipes really are how I like to eat. And except for the first two weeks, I can have a glass of wine with dinner, and that works for me.

Will it work? Who knows? But at least I'm still trying. That's my way of life. And if I ever lose the weight I want to, the Sonoma Diet recipes would be a great foundation on which to build my recipes for life.

But first I have to diet.