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Rewriting Your Grocery List

4 Jun
How I get down at the grocery store

How I get down at the grocery store

When I began my weight-loss journey, working out was the easy part. I knew how to walk and run. I’d seen people use gym equipment like treadmills and elliptical machines. I’d ridden a bike before, so a stationary one wasn’t going to be that much trouble.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the dietary change that came with my new outlook on life. Several times in this blog, I’ve mentioned my love of Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich and Popeye’s biscuits. Like every red-blooded American, Chipotle is my friend.

But even that wasn’t my biggest problem. I know how to cook. Growing up, my family didn’t eat out much. My parents prepared meals. Sure, every other Friday we might order pizza for movie night. But we usually had chicken or pot roast or chili or something else ready to eat in the fridge. Hell, my friends have even told me they frequented my house not to visit me, but my refrigerator.

So I took those culinary lessons with me into adulthood. I don’t mind cooking, I just don’t like doing it all the time. But with my new weight-loss plan in full effect, I had to adjust my thinking about meal preparation.

It wasn’t just cooking more often for myself. It was also cooking different food for myself. I can hook up a lasagna, but that’s not ideal when you’re trying to shed pounds. I discussed before the changes that came with eating vegetables. But I’m also a meat eater. My go-to meat dishes were perfect if I were trying to become a linebacker. Pot roast, roasted chicken, fried wings, etc., aren’t the best menu options when you’re trying to become svelte.

What I appreciated about the “Extreme Fat Smash Diet” was that it still allowed me to eat meat. I just had to cut down on my intake. Most important, the lesson I had to learn quickly was how to cook it differently. Cooking a whole bird is great if you’re cooking for a family, which I used to do. It can be hard to break that habit. But the weight-loss journey is traveled alone. And because I was living alone, my meals had to be prepared for one.

I was fortunate enough to find the American Heart Association’s “Low-Fat, Low Cholesterol Cookbook.” High blood pressure and high cholesterol are big in my family, as are heart disease and diabetes, so finding that book became good for more than just weight loss.

With the guidance of those two books, I started looking at my meats differently. I could still eat meatloaf, but I was using lighter fare to prepare it. A little tomato paste, some quick oats and tiny molds and you’ve got individual mini-turkey meatloaves.  A little butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice and you’ve got some pretty tasty sauteed tilapia fillets.

It’s not that eating meat was a necessity. It’s just that I like having the option. Just as finding the great vegetarian recipes that I’ll prepare over and over (pepper and white bean soup, spinach and black bean enchiladas), having meat options keeps my palate from getting bored and my cabinets interesting.

My regular staples of chicken wings, spaghetti, sauce and ice cream have changed to chicken breasts, spinach, chicken boullion and apples. My cupboard is always stocked with canned beans, tomato sauce and paste and a box of rotini, which I don’t even use that often. My freezer has tons of frozen spinach and broccoli, fat-free frozen yogurt and frozen fruit.

One of the fun parts of this journey was exploring new tastes. When doing your shopping, take the time out to try something different.

What do you like to prepare now that you’d never had before?

No Shame in the Game

20 Jan

photo courtesy of Annie Leibovitz/Vogue

I remember when I was a teenager, and my mom and I were shopping at the mall. I was wearing an oversized gray sweater and gray leggings with tennis shoes (trust me, I have elephant brain). As we were browsing the juniors section I hear a guy talking to his friends about the “big girl” looking at clothes too small for her. I tried not to pay too much attention to it, thinking he’s talking about someone else. But as I picked up a dress, he spoke a little louder about how I was so big I looked like a cloud (the gray) and how I needed to just put the dress down. My mom was out of earshot and on the other side of the section, so I just left and went to her.

I’ve lived most of my life well above 150 pounds on my 5-foot-2 frame. My skin has hardened to such comments, but my tolerance for bullying behavior like that has become vapor thin.

In the past few months, body-shaming has become more popular. Cloaked under the guise of drawing awareness, businesses like Lululemon, organizations like PETA and even feminist blog Jezebel have made it their business to point out their perceived flaws with a larger body type.

Last week “Girls” multi-hyphenate Lena Dunham appeared on the cover and in a nice spread for Vogue magazine. Vogue, like most fashion magazines, is known for extensive photo retouching of photos. A longer arm here, a slimmer neck there, lower lighting right there, it’s a thing that happens. But Jezabel, which has been an ardent supporter of Dunham’s for some time, offered $10,000 for unretouched photos.

Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself “really” looks like. …This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she’s fine just the way she is.
Jezebel’s editor-in-chief Jessica Coen

Within a couple hours, the site got the images and Clawd’ve mercy, the images were retouched! Coen herself admitted that there wasn’t a big difference between the originals and the retouched ones. But she stood by her argument that this was about Vogue painting an unrealistic image. You what else is unrealistic? Makeup, pushup bras, high heels, spanx, hairspray, the lighting on “The View.” Everyone does something to make themselves look or feel better. Instagram feeds are full of filtered images to put people in the best light, but Jezabel has no qualms about that. Vogue has been doing this type of thing for years.

I see no problem with retouching as long as it’s not ridiculous. There’s one shot of Dunham where her arm is missing. There are some shots Vogue uses that make people look like bobbleheads. But there’s no need to shame Dunham’s body type, which isn’t totally uncommon to see, to make a point about a misperceived wrong.

Recently animal-rights group PETA was accused of fat-shaming by several media outlets for its “Plan V” campaign, PETA’s attempt to enter the reproduction debate with it’s own agenda. PETA wrote a letter to “population-stabilization” group Population Connection after a report came out that Plan B contraception may not work effectively on women over 176 pounds.

Fat shaming is not now, nor has it ever been, an effective way to get women’s weight under control. Weight is a very personal thing. It is probably the only outward aspect of a person that is still considered open for debate. It is also something that can be very hard to control.

One person’s beliefs shouldn’t dictate how you live your life. Further more, PETA should have done more research before suggesting that women over 176 pounds need to just go vegan so they can use Plan B. The animal-rights organization issued a statement after being called out for fat-shaming, saying that it only wanted to offer another option. The people behind the original statement didn’t take into account how sensitive an issue weight is.

If you ever feel yourself on the receiving end of this type of bullying, understand that whoever’s throwing it at you doesn’t really know you. Someone who loves you wouldn’t make you feel ashamed of being who you are. Whether you’re a work in progress or at the end of your weight-loss journey, it’s no one’s right to tell you how to look or live your life. Do you, boo!

I’ma Be Your Motivation

16 Jan - I exercise just to make you feel bad about not exercising.

Hey, it’s a reason.

I talk a lot on this blog about the necessity of keeping up with your workout. I’ve also talked a lot about how I’m not perfect and my love of Goldfish crackers and comfy sofas make this hard, but I still persevere.

I do this to show that I did not wake up like dih. I am a flawed human being. I go through phases, like most people, where I’d rather sit and clear out my DVR or binge-watch “Breaking Bad” than go to the gym. Hell, it took me five hours from the time I got up this morning to start writing this post. You know what I did in the meantime: nada. I read a couple chapters of a book; I walked my dog; I watched “Dexter” on Netflix; I took a nap. None of those things, besides walking the dog, was something that needed to be done. I just didn’t feel like it.

And that’s a problem that you’ll face on your journey toward your goal. Some days, no matter what, you just won’t feel like it. Everything under the sun sounds more appealing than exercising. You know what’s more fun than spin class? Puppy cuddling. What’s more appealing than Zumba? Cookies and a “Game of Thrones” marathon.

So how do you get past the allure of being sedentary?

1. Just Go. Really, that’s the first step. It’s always the hardest, but it’s the most important. Not many people ever really want to go to the gym unless they’re being paid for it. If it’s not your job, then you have to find some other motivation. Even though I may have stayed up too late the night before or the dog was hacking all night, I’ll force myself out of bed and go to the gym. I tell myself that the 20 minutes I’m going to do on the elliptical are more than most people will do all day. Those 20 minutes can turn into 25. Then I hop on the stationary bike for 15 minutes, which turns into another 20. By then I’ve done 45 minutes. And since I can be a little OCD, I’ll do 15 minutes on the treadmill to make it a full hour. All that by just getting out of bed and going.

2. Plan Ahead. If you’ve already made your meals for the week, got your clothes set out and scheduled time, there’s little in your way to keep you from doing your workout. Sometimes we need a little structure in our lives. So if you can’t function without time limits, this is the step for you. Preparation is necessary in any weight-loss plan, anyway. You don’t go scuba diving without instructions. You don’t start a weight-loss plan without knowing what you’re getting into. Just prepare yourself, and you’re ready to stay on track.

3. Make It Quick. You don’t have to go hard to get in a good workout. I have some exercise DVDs at home that are only 30 minutes. That’s it: 30 minutes! What else are you doing today that you can’t take 30 minutes out of your day? Really, I’m asking. Some of you have kids and spouses and mortgages. I have none of that. I have a 12-year-old dog who sleeps all day in my apartment. It’s easy for me to take time out for a quick workout. Out of the 24 hours in the day, is every minute of them accounted for? If not, try to consolidate about 30 to do something good for yourself.

4. Reward Yourself. I think this comes from childhood, but I sometimes feel I don’t deserve treats until my chores are done. For example: I can’t leave to meet friends until my home is straightened up. I don’t get dessert until the dishes are in the dishwasher. I haven’t earned that new dress until spin class is over. For me, it’s about earning points for a treat. So what do you do to treat yourself? Maybe you want the 10-minute massage after your mani-pedi. Well, you’ve got to earn it.

5. Take Pride in Doing Something Others Aren’t. I know this is bad, but it helps keep me motivated. When I leave the gym and have to go to the grocery store, there’s a little bit of pride that comes with my sweat stains. That pride comes from knowing I look awful, but I look awful for a reason. There are people at the store who look bad because it’s Tuesday. You’ve earned your worn-out look. Wear that badge with pride.

6. Vision/Pinterest Board It. What’s the light at the end of your tunnel? A good way to stick with any plan is to have a set of goals to achieve. If you plan on being beach-ready by summer, the best time to start is now. If you have a wedding in the fall, remember that fittings start in the summer. Put up pictures of what you want, be it a vacation in Nice or a destination wedding in St. Barths. Keep a reminder to yourself that you have a goal you need to achieve.

Women’s Health magazine compiled a list last year of a few things people need to do to stay on track. What do you do to keep yourself motivated?