Archive | November, 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Workout

29 Nov


Getting my hike on this day after Thanksgiving.

How to Stave off the Jigggle on Turkey Day

28 Nov


Vacation is a time to take a break from the norm. You need to decompress from all of the work you’ve done. But how can you do it without backsliding into really bad habits?

Welcome to holiday season, where backsliding into all of your gluttonous desires is not only expected, but sometimes encouraged.

Who hasn’t heard from a cousin, “Oh, you look so good! You can eat that giant piece of cake. I can’t.” Or heard your uncle say, “Here, eat some of these yams drenched in butter and brown sugar. You’ve lost too much weight.”

I’ve fallen victim to holiday peer pressure just like everyone else. I’m visiting my family in Atlanta for Thanksgiving where this year’s head count is topping 30 people (a lot, but not unexpected for this brood). Majority of these people can cook, including yours truly, who is in charge of a coconut cake, pumpkin marble cheesecake, banana pudding and a roasted chicken. I understand this isn’t part of my usual low-fat, low-cal regimen, but it’s the holidays, dammit.

During the summer, it was all smoothies and salads. The food was cool and refreshing. This time of year, the food is warm and comforting. That word “comforting” brings to mind big fluffy blankets and hot chocolate. But getting too comfortable can be dangerous. Just ask your thighs.

It’s not like I eat like this all year, so I allow myself a few little indulgences. A little slice of pumpkin marble cheesecake here, some of Gram’s peach pie made especially for me there.

The key to balancing all of this is not forgetting what you’ve learned so far. I will eat my turkey and fixin’s (it’s the South), but I’ll also go for a walk afterward. I’ll do as my grandmother does and have a little taste of all the pastries, but I remembered to pack my gym clothes, as well.

If you’ve got the chance, offer a low-fat contribution to the meal. Those greens can be made with smoked turkey and taste just as good. Sweet potatoes are by definition sweet on their own. They don’t need a a pound of brown sugar and butter. Roast some Brussels sprouts or sauté some string beans. And, for God’s sake, don’t drown your food in gravy!

Remember that weight loss takes discipline and hard work. Vacation and the holidays are what we need to give ourselves respite from all of that. Incorporating your new life into your holiday life is the best way to keep it balanced without resorting to your fat-girl pants at the dinner table.

How are you balancing your turkey day?

Recipe: Cream of Artichoke and Mushroom Soup

27 Nov

Cream of Artichoke and Mushroom Soup

Time: About 15 minutes to prep; 10-13 minutes to cook



  • 3/4 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 package (9 ounces)  frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • Paprika, as garnish


  1. Saute mushrooms and onion in lightly greased medium saucepan until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.
  3. Stir  in milk, dry milk and bouillon cube; heat to boiling, stirring.
  4. Add artichoke hearts; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
  6. Sprinkle with paprika.

Courtesy: 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes


I thought I’d try something different. Cream of mushroom soup isn’t the most ideal entree, but the artichoke seemed to be a nice twist. This came out very tasty. The actual recipe called for Parmesan toast, which I didn’t feel like making. But I suggest either croutons or rice if you’d like something a little more hearty for your dish. Plus, it was quick to make, which is always a bonus.

The Gym Rat’s Ugly Truth

25 Nov

I tried to to sweaty-glam in this selfie. Really, I was just stinky.

There are a lot of people who don’t like working out. I’m one of them. But if you look at fitness ads, all of the women seem focused, yet happy about their current situations. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re achieving their goals with determination and barely breaking a sweat. You want to be that person, don’t you?

Have you ever watched women’s professional sports? None of them are happy. Serena Williams is the queen of the death glare. She grunts like she’s in labor. The only time she smiles during a tennis match seems to be after she’s demolished her competition.

You have to sweat. You end up smelling. Your clothes stick to your body. There’s nothing attractive about working out. Yet, there are all of these boutique fitness-wear shops (I’m looking at you, Lululemon) to try to make women feel attractive when they’re sweating like they’ve been in the desert sun all day.

Some women use this fancy wardrobe as a stepping stone to impart pretty-girl instincts in the gym. There’s the woman who comes in only a sports bra and teeny-tiny running shorts to only do a 15-minute walk on the treadmill. There’s also the woman who wears a full face for her low-resistance turn on the stationary bike.

I’ve never used the gym as a place to pick up potential mates. For the most part, it’s because I look a hot, dirty mess when I work out. If I’m paying $40-$50 a month to use the facilities, dammit I’m gonna actually use them. This means sweat stains in places you didn’t know sweat existed. This means hair either in a pony or, in my natural case, pulled up into a fro. I can’t wear sweatpants because my legs get hot. Yes, my legs get hot! Did you know your legs sweat? Because I didn’t until I started working out regularly.

I must—repeat must—have a towel nearby at all times in the gym (on a run, the open air keeps me from sweating into my eyeballs). I drip like I’ve just come in from a downpour. And, like most people, I recycle my workout clothes. There’s an old Sinbad joke where he talks about the two piles of laundry college kids have: dirty and funky.

(Joke begins at 4:20 mark)

Gym clothes are the same way. I will wear my dirty, stained gym clothes for days…until they start smelling. The gym can kind of be like elementary school, and no one wants to hang out with the kid that smells.

If you’re like me and don’t wash your gym clothes every day (don’t judge me), funky comes around a lot more often than you’d like. When you’re running in the open air, being funky doesn’t attack you as hard as it does in the enclosed gym. And let’s not forget that you have to take those sweaty, sticky clothes home.

When working out before work, you have to carry your gym bag with you all day. Make use of those extra shopping bags from the grocery store. You can hide the funk until you can get those clothes home to hang dry. And, please, for the love of all that is holy, let them hang dry. Nobody likes to be around the gym rat with funky, moldy clothes.

Added bonus: Gemma Correll did a cartoon of what’s advertised as fitness wear and what’s actually worn. Funny stuff.

Perception vs. Reality

22 Nov
What they see...

What they see…

One of my favorite movies from the ’90s is “Clueless.” There’s a scene where Cher is trying to calm Tai down after she spies the object of her affection dancing with another girl.

Tai:  Do you think she’s pretty?
Cher: No, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a Monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.

While going from one weight class to another isn’t exactly like this, there are similarities. People see you the way they want to. You can offer different perspectives, but the onus is on the observer to take that into account.

I don’t live near much of my family. The family that does live nearby, I only see every few months. (New York keeps people busy.) I also work out a lot. Like…a lot. When I began my journey toward a smaller me, I knew the outcome would surprise some people. My five-two frame held more than 170 pounds for most of my adult life. You don’t really notice the change yourself for a while. But when someone who hasn’t seen you in months tells you you’ve lost so much weight, you start to reassess your appearance.

Then comes the time when you’re literally inches from your goal weight and again see people you haven’t seen in forever. That was a bit difficult for me. I knew I’d lost a lot of weight and was nearing my goal. I knew that I wore a smaller dress size and that my face was thinner. But it was another thing to have people tell me that I need to start eating.

What they remember...

What they remember…

One family member actually asked me if I was starving myself. That hurt the most. I pride myself on having been able to do this the healthy way. I work out about four to five hours a week. I eat several small meals a day. But I don’t deny myself a good craving if the mood hits me. I love cookies and cake. My favorite snack is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. (Seriously…I do not share these things. They’re amazing.)

It’s a slap in the face (though unintended) for people to perceive me as doing something harmful to myself because the image they have in their heads is one that doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve lost a lot of weight and managed to keep most of it off for going on five years now. That’s the reality.

Always remember that, because friends and family will always view you as the rotund person you were, no mater how many pounds you drop. I’m still coming to grips with that. I haven’t lost a great deal of weight recently—three to five pounds here and there. But after not seeing someone for a year, people seem to remember the big girl from six years ago, not her smaller version from last summer.

There are a couple ways to remedy this. Visit your friends and family more often. Keep your Facebook and Instagram pages updated on your progress so there won’t be so much sticker shock when they see you in person. Or just do what I do, and remind them that you haven’t lost that much weight since the last time they saw you.

It’s somewhat like a child growing up. You remember your nieces and nephews as babies and toddlers. Then one day you’re home for Thanksgiving and they’re asking for the keys to your car. There’s an adjustment period—for both you and your loved ones—to come to terms with the new person standing there. Just try not to bite their heads off for making off-putting comments in the guise of compliments.