Archive for the ‘Fat’ Category

Snowdrops in my garden

Spring has been a challenging time for me so far this year. After one of the worst winters in a long time, my patience with the April showers is extremely low and while there are a few tiny blooms sprouting in my garden, day after day of damp chilly weather is really getting me down. But even as I crave the balmy sunny days that I know are eventually coming, I’m dreading the return of warm weather clothing. This winter was not good to my waistline!

April is my birthday month and as I begin the decent on the other side of the big 5-0 hill (I’ll be 52 this year!) I’m being forced to come to terms with the fact that along with the well-earned wisdom I’m enjoying, this decade also ushers in all the fun and fabulous (NOT) bodily changes that happen to women of my age. For me, of course, the number one offender is weight gain. It seems that no matter how much I exercise and try to watch what I eat, my body simply wants to be 5-10 pounds heavier than I want it to be. One of the many joys of going through menopause. Not only has my metabolism slowed, my body is fighting like mad to hang onto every fat calorie available, trying to milk it for any drop of estrogen available. It’s the simple biology of female aging.

And so the struggle continues to accept myself the way Mother Nature intended me to be as opposed to miserably trying to force myself into the unnatural mold of our culturally defined standard of wafer thin beauty. In a world where nothing related to growing older is truly valued, it aint easy to swim against this particular tide, but I’m trying. As always, I’m looking for balance; something that’s never easy for someone with an addictive personality like mine! But as I’ve said before: Life is too short to not eat cake. I just shouldn’t  eat the whole cake!

So tell me: where do you struggle withyour weight and how do you deal with it?


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A Note of Protest

I had thought to write a pithy post about the weekend of fine food that celebrated my husband’s birthday, but all I can seem to focus on at the moment is how terrible I feel in the wake of all those calorie laden repasts. After giving free reign to my taste buds all weekend, I feel an enormous resistance to pulling myself back in. It’s Monday and I want nothing but to continue gorging on one gourmet treat after another, knowing that to do so would soon make real what at this point is only a crazy, imagined sense that I’m getting fat.

I know that I’m not alone in this struggle with food and fat. Learning to enjoy the bounty of all the fantastic food available, especially to those of us who love to cook and bake, while trying to avoid the physical ramifications of over indulging is an ongoing challenge for many of us. I haven’t yet landed on any easy answer but sometimes just sharing the journey can help.

There are answers, of course; just not easy ones. Exercise helps and balance is definitely the key. Everything in moderation, as they say. But moderation isn’t easy, at least not for me. If something is good, I want more of it. Preferably, right now. Like a good friend of mine says: I can get addicted to anything that makes me feel good now and bad later. So here I am admitting that the indulgences of this past weekend, while fabulous at the time, don’t feel so hot now but still, I want more!

Fortunately, all the leftovers were cleverly recycled and consumed yesterday (I will  post about this soon!) so the fridge is bare of anything truly tempting. I’m back on my weekday regimen of lean protein, veggies and whole grains but I just needed to register my feelings of protest. Thanks for reading and I’d love to know: how are you all doing with the war between food and fat?

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Just what we need: More snow!

It’s snowing. Again. Yes, we’re hunkering down for the 7th major snowstorm of the winter (and it’s only February 1!) and as usual, it’s falling on a weekday. Mother Nature has it in for me and she’s working hard to convince me to scrap the weekend warrior bit and just break down and trade in the herbal tea for a nice rewarding cup of rich hot chocolate. Brown rice and veggies just don’t cut it when there’s a foot of new snow on the ground and another 6 inches expected! I’m dreaming about mac and cheese or French onion soup to warm my bones and nothing beats baking cookies when there are hours of time to kill while trapped in the house watching the white stuff fall! It’s the worst winter in forever so don’t I deserve something delicious for recompense?

And there in lies the proverbial rub. That no win conundrum that every food fanatic faces when deciding what to eat when. I can always find a rationalization to go for the goodie but after the last bite is swallowed I so often regret the choice I’ve made. Balance isn’t my strong suit when it comes to pleasure and once I’ve caved and convinced myself I “deserve” a treat, it’s always a struggle to get back on track.

Like most of us, I recognize that I use food for so many things other than physical nourishment. It provides entertainment and social lubricant. It’s a great distraction from difficulties or boredom as well as serving as a fabulous reward. But mostly, special foods make for rather effective medicine although, like many medications, it most often treats the surface symptoms without touching the underlying cause of the issue. And the side effects? Therein lays the real problem of living to eat as opposed to eating to live.

Of course, the number one side effect of using food for fun and feeling better is weight gain. I don’t know about you but when I’m looking to ease my pain (and yes, another snowstorm is painful to me!!) I don’t crave poached salmon and nice pile of kale. I want high carb, high fat foods like fettuccine Alfredo or mashed potatoes. Add some salt and some crunch and that’s good too, especially if it’s dipped in or topped with something creamy. We’re talking anything from simple chips and dip to sweet potato fritters with a sour cream horseradish sauce. And let’s not forget the sugar, preferably white and refined. A plain piece of good milk chocolate will do (yes, I know dark is supposed to be actually good for you but of course I prefer milk!) but why settle for that when I can whip up a batch of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies or a chocolate swirl cheesecake?

Obviously, if I indulge in this style of eating every time I think I deserve a reward or need a distraction from my discomfort, I’ll be packing on the pounds in no time. Without some balance, the extra weight causes the cultural critic to kick in to tell me I’m fat and worthless and that’s painful, which makes me want to eat some more and then that endless cycle begins. Sigh.

So here I sit on a Tuesday, watching the snow fall in record making amounts, contemplating cookies. To bake or not to bake, that is the question. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

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January skies can be so gray!

As I look out at the cold gray skies of early January and think about all the people beginning 2011 with a renewed resolve to lose weight, eat less fat and sugar, and exercise more I feel a deep depression setting in. The kind of depression that’s momentarily lifted by scarfing down the last piece of German chocolate cake, but re-settles directly after swallowing the final bite (and licking the plate!) I know from my work as a therapist and from personal experience, how unlikely folks are to follow through on New Year’s resolutions about food and weight, particularly people who live in colder climates.

It wasn’t so long ago that extra weight at this time of year was desirable and helped us to survive the winters when fresh produce was less plentiful. It was natural to eat the starchy foods of the late autumn harvests and to hunker down in front of the fire for the duration. But that was before electricity created the availability of 24 hours of simulated daylight and before our local grocery stores carried organic lettuce and fresh lemons 365 days a year. Even if we still feel the ancient pull to hibernate with our bellies full of carbs, there’s no excuse not to get to the gym after work and have a salad for dinner. In other words, no excuse for not being thin.

I, like every woman I know, have been battling with food and fat since I was a teenaged girl. I am not a naturally skinny person. If left to its own devices, my body is fairly slender at the waist but spreads generously through the hips and thighs. Not fat by any means, but not the wispy-willow, blown away by a puff of wind, kind of body that I have been brainwashed by the media to believe is most attractive. My natural body has always wanted to be a few pounds heavier than I wanted it to be and I’ve valiantly fought skirmish after skirmish with 2-5 lbs. As I’ve aged and it’s become harder and harder to win these battles, for the last decade, every few years or so I surrender to a couple of pounds but I can’t seem to just give up the fight and accept myself the way I naturally am and simply enjoy my food.

I often wonder what life would be like if our culture didn’t value thinness so highly. If we could be considered lovely in all the various sizes and shapes our bodies naturally are as opposed to being programmed to believe that only wafer thin is truly beautiful. We all know that obesity is a growing problem in the US (pardon the pun!) and I’m certainly not advocating ignoring the health risks of a serious weight issue, but there’s a wide gap (again, pardon the pun!) between a size 0 and a health risking weight problem. And I’m not talking about folks with serious food addiction, eating disorders, or survivors of sexual trauma who gain weight trying become invisible. Those are different categories and I know these are difficult issues to untangle, but here I’m talking about those of us who enjoy food but feel constantly tortured by our culturally skewed body image issues.

Most women do not even come near to today’s standard of beauty naturally. We diet and exercise, and torture ourselves trying to come as close as we can to what we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking is valued and attractive. For many, when failure to achieve the standard norm is inevitable, surrender seems the only choice and then the fat wins. But most of us fight the good fight, at least to some degree, never willing to wave the white flag but also never winning the war. When New Years rolls around (or Monday, or our birthdays, etc.) we take up the banner again and vow to attack the fat with a vengeance, mostly to be defeated by the first offer of something delicious to eat.

This year, I invite you to join me in saying NO to an unreasonable resolution to be thin. Let’s support each other in accepting our bodies’ natural beauty in all the various shapes and sizes. Let’s say NO to thin being in and YES to good health and a deep appreciation for the rich bounty that is available to us. Life is too short to not eat cake! Let’s surrender and finally win this thing!

Yes, I ate the last piece and it was delicious!

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Middle Ground?

Christmas Eve Chinese feast of all the yummy fried stuff!

It’s the day after Christmas and I somehow suspect that I’m not the only one who’s suffering the after effects of over indulgence. Some folks have cleaned out the fridge, sent all the leftovers home with the guests, and are running to the gym to work off those extra treats. These are probably the same people who have cleaned up all the wrapping paper, put the new gifts away in their proper places, and will start their next year’s Christmas shopping during the after holiday sales.

There are also those in the camp of waiting until the New Year to attack those extra pounds, letting the relief that the crazy Christmas stress is over be an excuse to just relax into enjoying the rest of the Christmas cookies and various other holiday goodies. After all, there’s a whole week to muster up the energy to clean up the house and get prepared to go on a diet. What else is the New Year for but to resolve to lose weight, exercise regularly, and be more organized?

Christmas morning breakfast of cinnamon French toast and bacon

And then there are those of us who opt for something resembling a middle ground. I have always looked for my middle ground with food and weight by being what I call a weekend warrior: I go a little crazy with food on the weekends and rarely exercise but then buckle down during the week. Given that this is my usual strategy (granted I’m not always totally successful!) Christmas falling on the weekend this year was perfect. I went hog wild Friday night and Saturday and still have an extra day to enjoy the leftovers before Monday hits and I’m back on the wagon again.

The only problem with this approach is that it isn’t really middle ground. True middle ground would be everything in moderation all the time. Something I have always found next to impossible. My “middle ground” is actually a see-saw between over-indulgence and restriction and pretty much guarantees that every Monday morning will be hell. I’ll feel fat from the weekend of rich food and depressed at the prospect of depriving myself of all things delicious for the next 4 ½ days. Yet I, and almost every woman I know, (and quite a few men too!) live out some form of this torture regularly in our attempts to be thin.

Christmas dinner of rack of lamb, potato gallette, and creamed spinach

This is where I usually break into a rant about our thin-loving culture and the insanity it breeds, but I’ll save that for another post. It will recur in my mind (and come out of my mouth to anyone who will listen) almost every Monday morning so there will be plenty of opportunity for me to share it here. Today, I’ll just say that I’m glad it’s only Sunday. There’s a snowstorm raging and I plan to hunker down on the couch in my wrapping paper strewn living room, tucked into my brand new Snuggy, and enjoy the Christmas leftovers. As one of my favorite heroines Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day!”

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Back on the Wagon

It’s Monday and people everywhere are starting their diets, although at this time of the year I imagine a good portion of the regular Monday restrictors are simply waiting for the New Year to get back on any kind of serious wagon. I have to admit that my own wagon has fairly rickety wheels and is likely to stall at even a glimpse of anything chocolate. Something about these cold, dark days make watching my weight particularly onerous. The survival instinct drives me to put on a few pounds to help me keep warm through the winter but Victoria’s Secret doesn’t stop running their ads at this time of year, ever reminding me that thin is still in.

Of course I intellectually understand that only about 2% of all women look anything like those models and that for most of them a decadent meal means putting a little dressing on their salad. But like many women, I still fall into the trap of thinking that I have to look something like them in my underwear (albeit cotton Fruit of the Looms) to be considered attractive. Even though I know better than to let that myth of perfection drive me, most Mondays I still find myself attempting to start up the old wagon and taking it for a spin to the market for a load of non-fat, non-sugar groceries.

I’m not one to get creative with low cal food. I won’t be posting recipes or pictures of any fabulous diet meals. When I’m on the food wagon I tend to eat the same stuff every day. For me, low fat and low sugar means low taste. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite fond of vegetables but I love them best “au gratin” or well coated in some kind of creamy dressing. A good piece of fresh broiled fish is fine but without a generous dollop of lemony hollandaise it just isn’t sublime. And a meal without dessert? I’m one of those people who crave something sweet the moment the last bite of savory goes down. Yes, a nice piece of fruit can offer a bit of sweetness but it’s never going to compare to a wedge of chocolate banana cream pie.

However, it’s Monday so I will be eating scrambled egg whites and a whole wheat English muffin with pure fruit spread for breakfast every day this week. Steamed or roasted veggies with brown rice and plenty of fruit will round out the menu. But you better believe that I’ll be thinking a lot about what treats I’ll be making when the weekend rolls around. Come Friday night I know my wagon will have run out of gas and I’ll be parking it for at least a couple of days. I can’t wait!

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Let the Craziness Begin!

 Welcome to my split personality blog. I love food. I’m obsessed with all things food related. I’m a fabulous cook, I travel to eat in the best restaurants, I read cookbooks and food blogs constantly, and I spend hours and hours thinking about what I’ve eaten and what I will eat. I’m also the product of a culture that has drilled into my head that being thin is the most important thing for my happiness and well being and the quickest way to insure that I will be liked and respected. As a psychotherapist and the mother of daughters, I’ve seen first hand the damage that can result from that message about the value of thinness but I still live the drama of the constant war between my love for eating decadently and my desire to stay trim. Join me on my roller coaster ride as I post about my fabulous culinary adventures along with my musings about the battles between food and fat.

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