Beer-Battered Belly

Does not feel good. Seriously.

After five weeks of severe changing, I was in the mood for some deep-fried yummy tonight, so Jonathan and I decided on a culinary adventure: Beer Battered Fish and Chips.

They were DELICIOUS.

But boy, am I paying for it now. About 10 fries in (I allotted enough calories for 20!) and after 2 filets (again, I had enough calories for 3!), I had to walk away from the table, my stomach hurt so much.

This could be for several reasons, the primary one being that I am simply not used to this type of food, but also that I am on a new medication, which I read makes it very difficult to digest fatty foods, such as deep fried, beer-battered fish and chips.

I do have to say though, that they were not only the best beer-battered foods I’ve made, but also that I’ve ever EATEN.

So, we’re culinary whizzes, but now we are also sore-bellied babies.

Our neighbors got the leftovers. At least our food can make some people happy campers?

How to Control Myself Around Ice Cream

Ice cream, as I may have mentioned before, is one of my all-time comfort foods. My dad and I both love the stuff, leading to an inevitable love-hate relationship. For months, we’ll scorn each other (me and ice cream, not me and my dad), and then we’ll have a tearful reunion.

Tonight, the husband was enjoying some Ben & Jerry’s (right out of the pint!) and I didn’t even flinch. I didn’t even think about sticking a spoon or a finger into it to taste the yumminess (is yumminess even a word? I don’t care — now it is). Instead, I focused on what I was doing — told myself I didn’t need it, and trekked right along.

Tomorrow, we are going to celebrate my sister-in-law’s graduation from high school, and as per her request, I baked Chai Tea Cupcakes with a dulce de leche buttercream. I tasted one, which I factored into my day, and I’m pretty happy with the result. The cupcakes taste a little bit more like gingerbread than like chai tea, but I think Yael will like them.

Using self-control when it’s time to celebrate is a challenging thing. We are so cultured to associate food with good memories, with milestones, and with loving feelings. That culture is exactly what needs to change. There’s no reason that food shouldn’t taste good, no reason that we shouldn’t be able to eat what we want and when we want it, but there is absolutely no reason to overindulge, on any occasion.

If you’ve read my other blog, you know that my husband and I are both Orthodox Jews. Part of being an Orthodox Jew is realizing that food is meant to give us fuel and is meant to be one of life’s greatest pleasures, but that if we misuse the food, we are mistreating our souls, which use our bodies as vehicles. Weighing down our bodies is equal to weighing down our souls — with less energy and health, we are robbing ourselves of life’s biggest riches — the act of living life itself.

Because food is one of life’s largest pleasures, we should use it to commemorate milestones, and we should enjoy filling our bellies with the people we love — but we should do it in a healthy way. We should eat one cupcake, not three. We should eat slowly, laugh loudly, and use allof our senses.

Part of this journey for me is staying away from deprivation. I don’t want to deprive myself of anything; I want to be able to eat foods that I love, and I don’t want to use imposter sweeteners instead of the real thing. So far, so good. Four weeks later, even putting sugar in my coffee, I am over ten pounds down, and I’m doing this in a way that I can maintain. A way that will lead me to be able to live my life health-ily for as long as I live, while still enjoying flavors; enjoying every meal.

I’m finding that, with this attitude, I can control myself. Even around ice-cream.

Accountability

I’ve been a “swing-dieter” for as long as I can remember. It’s not a healthy way of living, but it’s what I was used to. It was a learned habit, probably from my mother, who learned it from her mother, and it was an accepted way of life in our home. Weekend? Eat what you want. Vacation? Splurge on that ice cream, or order extra dessert at a restaurant. Birthday? Enjoy whatever you’d like. The result was inevitable — associating food with celebrations, comfort, and a happiness.

Did I know I was fat growing up? I had somewhat of an idea that I was overweight; I grew out of the children’s department by the time I was eight, and trendy stores like Limited Too never seemed to have jeans or t-shirts that fit over my love-handles. I needed to wear a sport’s bra in fourth grade, and it was not because I was an early-bloomer. But words like Fat weren’t words that were thrown around or taken lightly in my family.

When I was in fourth grade, wearing a sport’s bra, my best friend Jackie decided to make a Slam Book, where each of my classmates had a page dedicated to them, and fellow classmates could share their opinions anonymously (this was obviously before facebook). When every person had something written on their pages, I flipped to mine to see what my classmates had written about me. My name, in black magic marker, was at the top, and my eyes began to scan the lines looking for a familiar scribe, desperate to find out what my “friends” really thought about me. After reading the first few comments, my objective changed. I didn’t care what my classmates thought about me. I just wanted to read their kind thoughts. One kind thought. I must have read the “Carly” page fifty times, just looking for one nice thing to read about myself. When I gave the book back to Jackie, she saw that I was crying, “No one had anything nice to say.”

Timidly, the next day, Jackie handed me back the Slam Book. On my page, in pink gel pen, Jackie’s handwriting in the center of the page read “A nice girl.” I’d found my one nice thing.  The Slam Book Incident was my first clue that people thought I was different, and since every other insult on my page had to do with my size, the oversize glasses I wore, and my whiny, high voice, it was also my first clue that my image had to do with my social status.

As I got older, I started to realize that not only my classmates thought I was fat. I noticed many more nuances having to do with my caloric intake, such as my mom’s raised eyebrows when I went for seconds of pasta at dinner, or the middle-school lunch lady’s expression when I went to buy a cookie instead of an apple. When I needed to buy a fancy outfit to wear to my cousin Josh’s Bar Mitzvah, I had to go to a women’s store. I spent many moments crying in dressing rooms over jeans that were supposed to fit; tops that made my arms look humongous, and bathing suits that made me want to crawl under a rock.

My parents sent me to Fat Camp when I was ten years old, between fifth and sixth grades. It was the best thing they could have ever done for me: at camp, the tables were turned. I was the skinny (or rather, the ‘skinnier’ one), and I had the opportunity to experience some of the “power surges” that the bullies at my elementary school savored when they said mean things, or left me out of sports games at recess. Each year, for five years, I’d return from camp skinnier, more confident, and with more friends; more capable of playing knock-out on the blacktop with my classmates than I’d ever been before.

A few weeks after I’d return each August, people would stop noticing, or commenting on my weight-loss, the friends I’d made at camp each summer would stop calling as frequently, and the scale would begin inching higher and higher as I started to feed the feelings of loneliness as they came on. The camp I went to didn’t (and still doesn’t) have a support system in place for campers once they return home from the year, and while the weekly nutrition and cooking classes are helpful in the moment, but the education stops with the campers, who don’t usually bring it home. As the scale would climb, I would try everything, from crash diets, to South Beach, to Atkins, and Weight Watchers, but somehow my plans would always derail, and I found myself continually relying on “next summer,” on “going back to camp.”

This created a vicious cycle, and once I turned twenty, I could no longer diet for one week and lose five pounds like I could in the past. The scale wasn’t budging, no matter how hard I tried to cut fats and sugars. After a new medical diagnosis, which I am sure I will get into later, the pieces started to fall into place, and I realizes that sometimes, it’s not enough to just want to be thin. Now, I need it. I need it for my life, my future, my family. And needing it makes me want it more.

I realized the problem with all of those years between summers is that I had very little accountability. I felt accountable to my friends, I felt accountable to my counselors and trainers at camp (and to Tony, who’s glare each summer-start when he looked at the scale was PALPABLE), but I didn’t feel accountable to myself.

Now, I do. And to help me stay honest, I downloaded an App on my phone, called FatSecret. FatSecret is a food diary, blog, and weight tracker all in one; with nutrition facts for thousands of different brands, foods, and ingredients. It helps me recognize my strengths, my tendencies in which I eat foods, and enables me to easily count calories each day. It keeps me accountable, and so far, so good — I religiously enter in each bite of food I eat, and sometimes plan my meals calorically in advance, so that I can be prepared to either be able, or to not be able to enjoy a small cup of frozen yogurt or, on days when I’m really good, ice cream.

Being honest with myself has been a challenge. Some days, I am extremely tempted to fib about just how much oil I put in the pan where I fried my eggs, or just how much of a potato I ate with my dinner. But being honest with myself has to be a part of the process: honest with my expectations, honest with my goals, and honest with my situation. The reality of it is: I have to stop waiting to be thin, I have to stop waiting to lose the weight, and I just need to do it.

One step at a time.

Back on The Wagon

Alright, friends. I’d like to first apologize for my long blogging hiatus. The past month has been very difficult and chaotic for me, from leaving my job to the passing of my dear grandfather, which you can read about in my other blog, but that does not mean that I have quit my healthier lifestyle, and I’m proud to say that in total, I am ten pounds lighter than when I started this journey to health.

When I started “dieting” previously, (I put the word “dieting” in quotations because what I am not doing doesn’t really constitute to “dieting,” instead, I am just eating healthier, watching what comes into my mouth as well as what comes out of it, and trying to lead an all-around more health-conducive lifestyle, taking the people I love along with me for the long haul.

This means more planning on my part, better shopping, and in a quest to save money AND calories (of which I only allow myself 1300 per day except for on the weekends, when I give myself a few allowances), we’ve began eating vegetarian during the weeks, and ONLY poultry on weekends. Red meat is saved for special holidays, and soy is no longer a food that we are consuming in this household, thanks to some newfound knowledge from a friend who is studying holistic nutrition.

We have some rules:
1.) No sweets in the house. This means, if we want to eat something sweet, we need to:
-make sure we have all the ingredients
-commit to making the sweet thing from scratch
-figure out how to substitute without using artificial sweeteners

2.) Nothing “unnatural” allowed. Eating all-natural, less preservative-laden foods, which leads to healthier and happier people living under the same roof, and dare I say it, better tasting food.

3.) Record EVERYTHING that goes into my mouth, down to the spoonfuls of organic gelato my parents have in their freezer. If I swallow it, it gets recorded in my calorie counter. This, my friends, keeps me honest, and helps me understand why, if the scale fluctuates at all.

Ten pounds ago, I felt horribly bloated, I had trouble waking up in the morning, sleeping at night, and felt like I was dragging my feet every time I wanted to leave the house. Sure, I still have about fifty more pounds to lose before I am at a healthy weight, but I feel a lot better — my feet are WAY less swollen, my rings fit better, and I’m actually having to get rid of clothes that hang off of my body.

Which brings me to the changes I’m making to this blog. When I committed to it four months ago, I was consumed with the idea of losing. Now, I’m just interested in feeling good. In being happy. I’m not saying that it’s going to take me losing the weight to feel happy, because the truth is, I am happy. I just don’t feel good; I don’t have the energy that I’d like to have when it comes to doing things like being outside and spending time with the people I love.

I’m not interested in “losing” per say anymore, instead, I’m interested in closing the gap between body and soul; working on myself, and growing into a healthier me.

Week 4 Weigh-In and Back on the Bloggosphere!

So I’ve officially been dieting for an entire month — I started this diet on February 1st, and it would be March 1st if it was not a leap year. So far, I’ve lost a total of 4.8 pounds, which averages out to a pound a week. Of course, I’d like to have lost more, but I am happy that I’ve gotten rid of a little bit of extra weight, even if it is a very little bit. Last week, I didn’t update with weigh-in results – for a few reasons. I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed with work (we had a VERY busy week), I didn’t weigh in EXACTLY on Weigh-in Wednesday (I did it on Tuesday instead), and the biggest reason — I gained. Only 0.4 pounds, but I gained nonetheless.

As someone who has been (for as long as I can remember) a serial dieter, I have experienced many weigh-in (even at Fat Camp) where I gained. The shame that I have felt in the past is indescribable – huge, heavy shame that makes any gain, no matter how much less than a pound, feel like a ton of bricks.

This time, I’m committed to NOT dieting. I’m committed to changing my philosophy about food, changing the WAY I eat instead of the THINGS I eat, and focusing on a life of health, energy, and longevity rather than a life of indulgence and shame.

Don’t get me wrong — indulgence is good. I love living with my senses (all five of them) and experiencing life to the fullest. Take this morning — I woke up with a terrible headache between my eyes (the kind you want to squeeze out of your face), so I went to the best coffee place in the city. Now, normally when I drink coffee I put flavored creamer in it that has enough sugar to put a diabetic into insulin-shock. But for this coffee – I just put a little milk, and REAL sugar. No equal, no sweet-in-low. This coffee is real, rich, and deserves only the mostnaturalof ingredients. And I indulged. And about 45 minutes later, I am SO happy that I did. My headache is gone, I’m alert, and my throat still feels warm from the delicious coffee.

So, this week I lost the 0.4 pounds that I gained last week, bringing me back to the total loss of 4.8 pounds. I am only 8.4 pounds shy of my first goal, and I am confident that this time, when I reach it – it will be for a long term loss, instead of a weekly one.

Please — share your tips, share your recipes, share your advice — I am looking for a community of committed women out there who can lose (and gain) with me.

One day at a time.

Breaking Chains

I realized this morning that it has been almost exactly two weeks since the last time I ate ice cream. I’ve gone to the supermarket twice, to Target once, and to our friends’ houses plenty of time without even thinking about reaching in the freezer to eat the sweet goodness. Last night, Jonathan made our dessert smoothies for a change, and he put in some protein powder and oil (I know, sounds CRAZY) but it TASTED like…

ICE CREAM!

I even liked the way I make my smoothies better. They taste more like fruit, and less like sherbert. But it is good to know that a sherbert-tasting smoothie is an option.

I don’t know when my love affair with Ice-cream started. Maybe I always had a secret longing for it; maybe the sweet, sugary, dairy treat would call out to me in my sleep, infiltrate my brain in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe ice cream just loves me more than I love it.

The other day in the supermarket, I even told Jonathan to walk away from the ice cream freezers — that we were NOT going to bring any of it home. And I’m okay with it.

I can’t think of something that ice cream couldn’t cure. Every hurt, every bad day, every argument with a friend, my husband. Every disappointment. I would bury myself in the creamy, rich, milky cream, preferrably cherry garcia flavored, or mint-chocolate chip, or my favorite of favorites, chocolate peanut butter.

I have been known to drive 45 minutes for ice cream, to go to more than one store, to make a special trip because only one store carries the exact flavor and consistency I love. Does that make me weak? I don’t know. Does it make me stubborn? Definitely.

My life without ice cream isn’t as difficult or as painful as I thought it would be. I haven’t really missed it at all. Maybe I’ve thought about it once or twice, maybe I’ve sent a sad glance down the aisle of Ben&Jerry’s, maybe I’ve hoped secretly that Jonathan will enable my love affair with chocolate peanut butter.

But I’ve survived for two weeks. I know one thing for sure – I will never deprive myself of something that makes me happy. I will never deprive myself of something that feels good. But I do need to learn how to deal with things as they come – I need to learn to process, to talk it out, to stop burying myself in a carton of ice cream.

I think I’m doing alright, so far.

Week 2 Weigh In and What to Do?

Since it’s Wednesday morning, I did the usual routine and got back on the scale. I lost 0.4 pounds.

Yay!

I am trying to be happy, I really am — but my mind keeps going back to when I was at Fat Camp and someone would return to our cabin crying after weigh in. Which only meant one thing.

Maintenance.

“Don’t worry — once you don’t have as much to lose you lose much slower!”
“We’ll do extra cal’s this week.”
“Don’t worry — you look fabulous! You must have just gained muscle!”

The list could go on and on. I know I didn’t “maintain” this week and I still lost a little bit of weight, but I can’t help but think about how difficult this whole process is for me. The whole gaining and losing. If you look at me, you’d know that losing is much more difficult than gaining. I can do that with a blindfold on.

Dietary plateaus are very difficult to overcome. I know that I’ve only been blogging my weight loss for two week, but I just hit a plateau with the “number” I’m at now that I’ve continuously hit for the past six months. I can lose to here, but I can’t lose further. Or, that is to say, Icouldn’tlose further, because now I am convinced that I can. But I know that just a few pounds down, there’s another plateau, and then ten pounds from that, another one — I’ve been there before, I know those numbers well.

And unfortunately, our minds are our own worst enemies when it comes to these plateaus — because we have associations with them, we tend to treat them as, well plateaus, and turn them into penninsulas that we just can’t get off of because we keep turning in the wrong direction.

Do I see where I could have done better over the past week – yes. Do I see where I screwed up – surprisingly, no. I didn’t screw up one bit. But I am done celebrating a week where “I didn’t gain anything.”

To overcome this plateau, I’m going to try to do a few things differently. First, I’m going to eat less sugar. Second, I’m going to be much more tedious about measuring my food (maybe I’ll even buy a scale) and I’m going to convince Jonathan to jump on the bandwagon with me. Finally, I’m going to exercise. And Jonathan is going to come with me.

Dietary challenges are never easy. Unfortunately, I’ve had to face a lot of them in my short lifetime. I’ve tried every fad diet, every CRAZY diet (except for the hot sauce lemonade diet. That is one I NEVER plan on trying), and I’m done with trying to diet. This is my journey, changing my life.

Taking it one loss at a time.