Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Different Kind of “Food Issue”

One of the ironies about blogging about weight gain, loss and maintenance is that nearly two-thirds of the world’s population is underfed.

• Right now, more than 500 million people are living in "absolute poverty" and more than 15 million children die of hunger every year.

• World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the population is underfed and another third is starving.

• Even in the United States, 46 percent of African-American children and 49 percent of Latino children are considered chronically hungry.

I am fortunate to have the means to choose and purchase the food I want. As such, I believe I have a moral obligation to help those who can’t. As part of that effort, I’ve joined BlogCatalog’s Bloggers Unite this day to promote world hunger awareness and to support the organization Heifer International.

Heifer International provides communities worldwide, including 27 active programs in cities and rural areas across the United States, with livestock and agricultural training to improve incomes and to stop hunger. A sort of “teach a person to fish…” approach.

Rather than try to describe the group’s core goals myself, I’ll let Heifer’s website speak for itself:

“Heifer has learned over the years that a holistic approach is necessary in order to build sustainable communities. So we’ve developed a set of global initiatives – areas of emphasis that must be addressed if we’re to meet our mission of ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth.”

Agroecology

In a world where land is overused, community members need to learn how to protect and rejuvenate their land, water and other natural resources. Heifer helps by teaching environmentally sound agricultural techniques.

Animal Well-Being

Before any Heifer animal is passed along to a project partner, Heifer trains the new recipient in animal management, using our strictly enforced Animal Welfare Guidelines.

Gender Equity

In Heifer's view, gender equity is a social justice and human rights issue that directly leads to ending hunger and poverty. That's why our participants are equal partners in sustainable development projects.

HIV-AIDS

Today, we as a world community, confront AIDS, a virus that in the past 25 years has either infected or killed over 64 million people. It is not only a health issue, as it fractures every sector of society, for Heifer, it is a prominent concern in the arena of sustainable development. This is why Heifer is incorporating HIV/AIDS education in our community training groups.

Microenterprise

Heifer provides both "no-interest living loans" in the form of livestock, as well as small monetary loans to help people start and expand businesses that yield big benefits for families.

Urban Agriculture

Heifer is reconnecting city-dwellers with their food sources, building strong alliances and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit among adults and youth through our Urban Agriculture projects.

Young People's Initiative

Heifer weaves youth-focused programs through all our project work and emphasizes young people's needs.

These are initiatives I’m glad to support and hope you would consider contributing, too.

Not sure what to buy a loved one for their birthday? Consider the gift of cows, llamas, seeds and nutrition to struggling farmers through Heifer’s Gift Catalog. For $10 you can share in the gift of sheep, rabbits, trees, goats or pigs. For $25, share the gift of a water buffalo. $20 will buy a flock of ducks, geese or chicks. I pledge to gift bees in honor of my daughter for Mother’s Day.

Hunger and lack is prevalent where I live in rural Appalachia, as I’m sure it is where you live as well. Contributions to local food shelves are always welcome (and not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas). I’ll donate one item to our local food shelf for every comment posted on this entry through Friday, May 1.

I hope you’ll consider a contribution to your local food shelf or will seek out other means of helping someone struggling with a different kind of food issue, one that many of us who have lost weight or are choosing to lose weight don’t struggle with, that of lack of food and improper nutrition.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Trails

Yesterday was the first bike ride of the season. Unlike Finding Radiance Lori who biked 30 miles yesterday (you go, girl!), I did a mere 15 miles in just under an hour. But it was 15 miles of sheer delight.

Larry dug the bikes out from the corner of the garage, put air in my bike tires and asked me to take it out for a quick test ride. Larry’s three inches taller than me, but I have the “big bike” because my legs are twice as long as his. OK, maybe not twice as long, but when I ride his bike, I eat my knees.

When I got back, Larry loaded the bikes on the bike rack. (I would have helped…but…you know…I was busy documenting our first ride. Yeah, that’s it. Busy documenting our first ride.)

It’s sad that we have to drive a half hour to get to the nearest bike trail. There’s a rails-to-trails circuit in the county next to ours, but Podunkville has yet to adopt a trail system. Anytime someone tries, land owners get all up in arms and some even scatter nails on the old railroad paths. Yeah, we bike riders are a scary bunch, aren’t we?

I was so happy to see the parking lot completely full. Larry and I (well, Larry) unloaded the bikes and we hopped on our favorite section of trail.

I’m always amazed by the types of people we encounter on the bike trails. Young, old, families. From men with tattoos and facial hair wearing beaters and jeans to old men wearing golf pants and brown socks, women wearing hats with plastic flowers to women decked out in $500 spandex outfits, kids on tricycles, parents pulling carts…they’re all out on the trails and most are friendly and versed in bike etiquette. You always have those few, usually the walkers for some reason, who don’t understand that when a biker yells out “passing left” it means you have to move your ass over and stop taking up three-quarters of the trail.

This is the first bridge of many we ride over. Below is Sandy Creek.
Next we have to ride through the tunnel. I realize I live in the Appalachian Mountains and in order for railroads to work around here, they needed to go through and not up or around, the hills, but still, it’s not natural for human beings to pass through a mountain. Not to mention mountain tunnels are creepy. And cold. And dark. And this is the short one! There’s a one-mile tunnel on a different trail that I haven’t garnered the nerve to ride through yet. It’s on my to-do list this summer, though. You can’t see from end to end because of a bend so a flashlight is a must. I’ll pack a few extras, just to be sure.


Anyway, the best part of this trail is the Belmar Bridge across the Allegheny River.

Here’s Larry chasing my (used) Kleenex that flew out of my hands when I stopped to take a photo. Now that’s love.

Another creek, another trout fisherman.

This railroad car sits in the middle of nowhere. It makes me wonder what it must have been like to be a train passenger back in the 19th century and seeing these remote woods and streams for the first time.

Usually we’ll see a snake warming itself on one of the bridges, but not this time. We heard some type of kestrel, though, along with a hundred other type of birds. Do you see the two yellow stakes sticking out of the concrete at the end of the bridge? I call Larry “Frasier” whenever we have to pass between them. Remember that episode of “Frasier” in which Frasier and Niles learn to ride bicycles and Frasier keeps running into trees and mailboxes? Larry’s drawn to those yellow posts like a magnet.

Here I am at the end of the bike ride. Sweaty but happy. I was feeling kinda down when we started, a little achy, a little sorry for myself. Not entirely sure why. But the bike trail is a magic path that always leads me to a happy place.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What’s Your Fitness Personality?

Ever take a Myers-Briggs test? You know the one that tells you if you’re extroverted (E) or introverted (I), sensing (S) or intuitive (I), thinking (T) or feeling (F), perceiving (P) or judging (J).

In the latest edition of “Arthritis Today,” there’s an article about how your personality type can help you develop the correct fitness program for you. Suzanne Brue, author of the book “The 8 Colors of Fitness,” developed a mini Myers-Briggs quiz and, based on your results, a color chart to correlate between personality type and fitness preference. I took the quiz and my personality type is ISTJ (no surprises there) and my color is blue. More specifically, ISTJ makes me a Blue Efficient.

My review? I think Suzanne Brue is on to something. She certainly has my workout personality nailed:

“Blues are guided by clear fitness goals and objectives…(They) prefer keeping their exercise plans plain, simple, and easy to execute so they can achieve their goals. Keeping commitments to themselves ranks high with Blues.

“Blues are highly sensitized and aware of their bodies…Because they are exercising for a purpose, it doesn’t make sense to spend time experimenting on new routines…Blues are not interested in the latest weight program being touted or in getting their exercise in ‘fun’ new ways. Blues focus on the purpose of exercise. They will have their fun some other time…Blues are motivated by keeping track of their workouts. Record-keeping allows Blues to refer to their progress in the orderly manner…Blues seek calm and familiar environments that allow them to focus on the task at hand. They find commotion and interruptions disturbing and prefer keeping their gym interactions to a minimum.

“Blue Efficients have a pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to personal training sessions. They want to get down to business right away and have little interest in chit chat that does not relate to the job at hand.”

I’m curious what fitness color my blog readers are. I doubt you’re all Blues, so take the quiz and let me know! Let’s see if we have a rainbow of fitness here on Lynn’s Weigh.

In keeping with my no-nonsense, no-fun *giggle* approach to fitness, how do you suppose I make a dreaded exercise more pleasant? I make it harder!

Yes, call me a fascist, but this particular ab/core move I do that makes me crabbier than any other is now even harder for me to execute, thanks to a 5-pound weighted ball. And when THAT move makes me crazier still, I’ll move up to an 8-pound ball! Take that belly flab!

The exercise I’m talking about is simply a sit-up/crunch-type move that involves my workout bench lowered to a 45-degree angle. I do 3 sets of 20 reps holding the ball across my chest.
My lower abs whined, as did my latissimus dorsi muscles, for a few days, but they’re happy (and stronger) now. While I won’t ever be sporting a bikini, hopefully a few more months of these sit ups and my lower abs won’t need to be covered up with a “flowing” bathing suit top, know what I mean?

I’m pretty no-nonsense and dull when it comes to workout clothes, too. However, I have one t-shirt (a gift from my friend Kristin) that I only wear at home:

It’s a nasty little acronym, I know, but when I wear that shirt, I feel super strong, super energetic and (dare I say?) kinda sexy.

Hey, anything that gets us through a tough workout, right?

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As promised, I randomly drew (and notified) a winner of Charlie Hill’s book “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One).” (Congrats Shelley!) Thank you everyone for your comments and for reading my blog. A special welcome to new readers!

If you didn’t hear from me, you can still buy Charlie’s book on Amazon or visit his blog, Back to the Fridge, for more dieting/life humor and wisdom.

Catch Charlie today on the last leg of his virtual book tour. He’s posted a guest post on one of my favorite blogs, Cranky Fitness.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Recipe Inducted Into Lynn's Food Hall of Fame

I about went crazy this morning trying to find the recipe for Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Cheese that I fell in love with when I made it for the first time a few weeks ago. I paged through my recipe binder marked SOUP at least five times before digging out the other recipe binders thinking maybe I’d filed it incorrectly. It was quite possible I’d been so delirious from eating such yumminess that I put the card in the DESSERTS folder.

I was convinced I’d printed it from some website and when it didn’t show up in any of my binders, I went online to see if I could find a copy. I started at Weight Watchers, but it wasn’t there. I searched Taste of Home, AllRecipes, Cooks.com, About.com, Vegetarian Times…you name it. No luck.

I went back to Weight Watchers because I’d plugged the main parts of the recipe into the Recipe Builder. However, when I put in my recipes, I never include spices or directions since I’m only interested in using the Recipe Builder for determining Points values. Ergo, I had no idea what else went into this delectable soup or even how to make it. I could probably fake it, but I wanted to eat the EXACT same soup I made a few weeks ago! *foot stomp*

You know how when you lose your keys and you look all over and finally, when you just let your mind settle and you retrace your steps, you remember where you put them? I returned to the kitchen and just stood there. Where is that recipe? Think, Lynn, think! Then like a 2x4 to the head, I remembered: it was a recipe from my trusty 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes cookbook! Thank god! I have more brain farts the older I get and when I have a successful “ah ha!” moment, it’s almost better than having sex or eating chocolate. Almost.

I try new recipes and foods all the time. Some are good, some not so good and some, and this doesn’t happen very often, are so fabulous that they immediately make their way into Lynn’s Food Hall of Fame, right alongside lefse, BigAss Salad, feta/spinach omelets, spicy roasted potatoes, Fage yogurt, PB2, and Trader Joe’s creamy mint chocolate rounds.

Same thing happens with workout music. Songs come and go, they get rotated in and out every few months, but there are three songs that are always in my iPod: “Pump It Up” by Elvis Costello, “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas, and “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” by Robert Randolph and The Family Band. Like the cauliflower soup, the new song by Def Leppard, “C’mon C’mon,” is quickly becoming an all-time favorite as well and will most likely enjoy a long life in my Nano.

Anyway, back to the soup. You know I wouldn’t go on and on about some darned soup without sharing the recipe with you. So here you go, the orgasmicallygood soup that I hope will make you even a little bit as happy as it’s made me:

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Cheese
Makes 4 or 6 servings (Points explained below)

½ C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T flour
3 ½ C vegetable broth
12 oz cauliflower, cut into florets
1 C potato, peeled and cubed
¼ to ½ C fat-free half-and-half or fat-free milk*
3 oz reduced-fat Cheddar cheese**
Salt and pepper to taste
Ground mace (nutmeg) as garnish

Sauté onion and garlic in lightly greased saucepan until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour; cook about 1 minute longer. Slowly add stock and whisk with the flour mixture until smooth. Add cauliflower and potato and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10-15 minutes. Remove about half the vegetables from the soup with a slotted spoon and reserve. Puree remaining soup in food processor or blender until smooth.

Return soup to saucepan; stir in reserved vegetables, milk and cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring, until cheese is melted. Season to taste. Sprinkle each serving with mace, if desired.

* I use light plain soy milk
** I use Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese

Points values:

Either 4 or 6 servings using ¼ regular or fat-free half-and-half is 2 points
6 servings with ½ C of regular or fat-free half-and-half is 2 points
4 servings with ½ C of regular or fat-free half-and-half is 3 points

Either 4 or 6 servings using ½ C light soy milk is 2 points

Have I thoroughly confused you? I’m nothing if not thorough…lol.

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REMINDER: To win a copy of Charlie Hill’s book “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One),” leave a comment on my interview with Charlie by Friday, April 24, at the conclusion of his book tour.

Can’t wait or don’t feel lucky? You can buy Charlie’s book on Amazon. Visit his blog, Back to the Fridge, for more dieting/life humor and wisdom. I promise you’ll like what you find there.

Catch Charlie on the rest of his book tour:

Tuesday, April 21: Ecstatic Days (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 22: The Alcoholian (Guest Post)
Thursday, April 23: The Wonderful World of Wieners (Review & Interview)
Friday, April 24: Cranky Fitness (Guest Post)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"First Sun" Reflections, A Reminder, and A Survey Request

I got my “first sun” of the year yesterday. Not that there haven’t been sunny days, but yesterday was the first time my pasty white skin soaked in some direct rays for longer than five minutes. Until now I’ve been covered in long sleeves and long pants, but yesterday was finally a t-shirt and capris day. Hallelujah!

When I opened the deep storage and woke up the capris from hibernation, for a split second I thought, “Oh no, what if they don’t fit?” Even though everything about my body is pretty much the same since I stored my summer clothes in October, I felt that same old dread: How much did I gain this winter?

Although I started losing weight this final time on a New Year’s Day, normally my weight-loss resolutions were made in spring, on the day of my “first sun.” The first really warm day of spring would arrive and I’d dig through my summer clothes to find something that would fit. During the many years leading up to me tipping the scale at 300 pounds, what I’d find in storage every spring was a pair of stretchy shorts and a t-shirt that fit alright in the waning days of the previous summer, but not so much after a winter of get up/eat/work/eat/watch TV/eat. I’d pull on the shorts and t-shirt, go out in the sun and vow, “I’m gonna lose weight.”

What happened instead was I’d buy a few clothes to get by and beat myself up the rest of the summer for not having the willpower or motivation or whatever magic philosophy I thought I had to adopt to lose weight. It wasn’t a constant thrashing. I mean, I still enjoyed my summers for the most part, albeit self-consciously. But when I think of all the emotional energy I spent beating myself up instead of loving who I was, it makes me sad.

Yesterday, as I sat outside on the deck with my husband and BFF Shari and her husband Kevin, drinking some of Kevin’s homemade cranberry wine in the full sun, I thought for a moment about those other first days in the sun. Was I really all that different now? Other than my pants size, how much had I changed since those weight-gaining times?

I STILL beat myself up needlessly, BUT…I catch myself and stop it more readily.

I STILL strategize how to hide underneath my clothes, BUT…I fight the urge to cover up and wear sleeveless shirts in public once in awhile.

I STILL think about weight, BUT…I’m on the other side of the debate now.

I STILL make resolutions and quickly forget many of them, BUT…the important ones I write down and work on.

I STILL enjoy drinking wine on the deck in the company of good friends, BUT…well, no buts. That’s not something I want to change except to add cabana boys armed with fans and grapes to the deck scene.

I STILL burn easily, BUT…well, again, no buts. I still burn easily, despite sunscreen. I guess to my credit I wear more sunscreen now. Only I didn’t yesterday, except for whatever SPF formula is in my Mary Kay face lotion and even that didn’t stop the red. My cheeks and nose are a little burned. My arm freckles are popping out. And before you say anything about skin cancer, I rarely do more than 15 minutes in the full sun without protection. Promise. I only do the unprotected sun thing for the vitamin D, per doctor’s orders.

This first sun day was a good time to take emotional inventory. Reflecting on life in the dead of winter and making resolutions right after the emotional highs and/or lows of the holidays doesn’t make much sense to me. The best time is in the spring, when everything is coming to life.

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Book CoverREMINDER: To win a copy of Charlie Hill’s book “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One),” leave a comment on my interview with Charlie by Friday, April 24, at the conclusion of his book tour.

Can’t wait or don’t feel lucky? You can buy Charlie’s book on Amazon. Visit his blog, Back to the Fridge, for more dieting/life humor and wisdom. I promise you’ll like what you find there.

Catch Charlie on the rest of his book tour:

Monday, April 20: Biggest Diabetic Loser (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 21: Ecstatic Days (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 22: The Alcoholian (Guest Post)
Thursday, April 23: The Wonderful World of Wieners (Review & Interview)
Friday, April 24: Cranky Fitness (Guest Post)

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ONE MORE THING: Graduate student Rachel Voss has asked me to ask my readers if they would participate in an anonymous survey she’s developed regarding how the work environment affects women’s eating habits. Rachel is working on an MA in Public Health at Brown.

I’ve checked out the survey and I found it very interesting. Questions include:

- During a normal social conversation with people at work, how often do you talk about what, when, or how much to eat?

- How often do you think that the kinds of food you eat at work are different than the kinds you eat at home?

- On a normal day, is there food available in a common area at work?

As Rachel said in her email, it's not a test. There are no judgements attached to any of the questions. She just wants to feel out the blogging community since blogs tend to create a great community for sharing motivation.

If you’d like to take her survey, please click on this link: https://pph-illume.chcr.brown.edu/Collector/Survey.ashx?Name=foodbehav

And she says to tell thank you in advance!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome “Back to the Fridge” Blogger & Author Charlie Hills!

Book CoverCharlie Hills knows first hand that dieting is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. His new book, “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One),” chronicles the pounds he’s lost and gained over and over again for more than a decade and how he’s come to the conclusion that diets don’t work. There’s more to his epiphany, but I don’t want to give away the ending.

LYNN: I’ve written a lot of seemingly intelligent things that people quote back to me as having inspired them in some way. Often when I reread what it is I’ve written, I realize I haven’t fully embraced my own wisdom. Has this happened to you, and if so, how do you respond?

CHARLIE: Or, in other words, “Do you ever fail to practice what you preach?” The answer is, of course: of course. I doubt there’s ever been a preacher who didn’t at one time or another stray from the pulpit. Mindless eating? I tell people to be ever aware of their actions even as I disregard my own. Emotional eating? I recommend people channel their emotions elsewhere—but mostly as a distraction, so they won’t see me stealing their Cheez-Its.

LYNN: You wrote that until someone figures out their inside, they can’t change their outside. (See? I quoted you back to you.) You kept a lot of notes (and line charts) on your journeys up and down the scale. Were you actually journaling or were these notes scratched on napkins? What are your thoughts on journaling while losing weight or even contemplating losing weight?

CHARLIE: All of my notes reside in a spreadsheet. Essentially, I first scribble the notes on a napkin, scan the napkin, and then import the scanned image into Excel. If anyone would copies of my data, I can print out the spreadsheet, FedEx it to you, and then you can scan it into your own computer.

In all seriousness, I do keep everything in Excel. It has the following columns: Day, Date, Weight, Body Fat Percentage, and Notes. “Day” is a running count of how many days I’ve been dieting. Today that value was 6913. (That’s not a joke.) The “Notes” column has essentially served as my journal for nearly nineteen years. This is where I write anything from “Yet another day one” to “Ugh. What happened yesterday?”

I’d like to be able to say journaling is very important and is the secret to my success, except that I’ve been dieting for nineteen straight years now, so I’m probably not the guru you’ve been looking for.

LYNN: One of my favorite chapters is “Mixed Messages,” and in particular, your dissection of Honey Nut Cheerios (a food I, sadly, could eat an entire box of). Crabby McSlacker and I have written in our blogs recently about nutrition information being required of all restaurants, just like it’s listed on food products in the store. Given your belief “that the food industry isn’t primarily concerned with our health,” what are your thoughts on requiring restaurants to fess up with calorie, fat, carb, sodium, and other nutritional values?

CHARLIE: I think they should do it, but not because I believe it will help people make healthy eating choices. If anyone thinks disclosing this information is the solution to our collective obesity problem, consider the fact this is exactly what people believed when we added this same information to our grocery store items. “If people realize that there’s more fat, sodium, and calories in Doritos than baby carrots, they’ll never buy Doritos again!”

You don’t need a nutrition label on a menu to tell you the deep fat fried peanut butter and banana burrito is probably not in your best interest. The information might give some people reason to pause before ordering, but if you’re out, and you’re ready to celebrate, the last thing you want is the restaurant equivalent of your mommy telling you to eat your vegetables. In fact, it’s just as likely to make you rebel.

LYNN: But haven’t you read? Apparently customers’ eating habits have indeed changed since they started posting nutritional information.

CHARLIE: Well that’s good news—just as long as the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the other direction. The last thing we need is a world entirely devoid of decadence.

LYNN: Men “closet shop,” too?? Give us an idea of what your closet looks like. Do you have “skinny” jeans? Do you have *ahem* PMS jeans?

CHARLIE: When I left for college in 1984, my parents bought me two suits. They’re still hanging in my closet. In fact, I’m pretty sure every article of clothing I’ve acquired over the past twenty-five years is still in there. So yes, there are clothes for 150-pound Charlie and clothes for 240-pound Charlie. I’ve clung to my never-to-be-worn again skinny jeans as if they were spun from gold. And I still have my PMS jeans too. (You did mean “Pretty Massive Slacks,” didn’t you?)

LYNN: I can’t listen to the Will Smith’s song “Switch” without thinking of you. On page 207 you write: “How do you flip the ‘switch’ and make a real, permanent commitment to get where you want to be?” You said you had no idea, but I’m wondering if in the months since writing your book, if you’re more in tune with your switch. Your thoughts?

CHARLIE: I’m definitely in tune with it. But I still have no control over it. It’s the sad reality and anyone who thinks differently has the pesky problem of explaining why weight loss is so impossibly hard for the majority of people who attempt it. “Just say no,” is not a foolproof weight loss solution.

I’m still working on my theory. I haven’t been able to fully articulate it in a way that matches what’s in my head. Not in the book, not on my blog and not on this thread at Roni’s Weigh.

I will get it someday.

LYNN: As you know, I take weight maintenance very seriously. To the point of Xanax-necessary anxiety (not always, but there are days…). I’ve been up and down the scale, too. More often than I care remember. What will you do differently in maintenance this next and final time? (And I mean final because I really believe in you and what you’re doing.)

CHARLIE: Oddly enough, I agree with your “final” assessment. There’s something about this time around that feels different from all other times. I’m not losing weight quickly, but I’m losing it. I’m not following any specific plan, but I’ve still got a plan. I eat burgers, and pizza, and even desserts from time to time, and that’s what finally feels like success. For the first time ever, I’m not swimming against the current.

LYNN: Let’s anthromorphize food for a moment. I see myself as an artichoke. You have to peel away several (often tough) layers to get to my heart. If you were a food, what would you be? (And you can’t pick pizza.)

CHARLIE: But I want to pick pizza.

LYNN: You can’t.

CHARLIE: Why not?

LYNN: Because you’re just the interviewee. I make the rules.

CHARLIE: What if I don’t want to play by your rules?

LYNN: Then I just won’t publish this interview.

CHARLIE: :-

LYNN: So, are you ready to tell me what kind of food you would be?

CHARLIE: Pizza.

LYNN: Final warning, Charlie…

CHARLIE: Okay. I’m a bag of Doritos.

LYNN: Thank you!

CHARLIE: Pizza flavored Doritos...

LYNN: And since I mentioned Will Smith….Which pop or rock star do you most closely identify with?

CHARLIE: Sometimes it’s Nigel Tufnel. Other times I’d say Alan Barrows.

LYNN: It was sobering to read your entry on poverty and the lack of food in our country while in contrast, the money we spend on diets, diet aids and surgery could easily keep everyone in this country fed. If your book makes a profit, you said you’d give it to people who “can’t get food.” Is there a specific food shelf or organization that addresses poverty and hunger concerns that you’d like to give a shout out to here?

CHARLIE: To be honest, I’ve struggled with finding the correct answer to this question for a while. It always came down to this: would I prefer to help a larger, more global-oriented cause or stay local? Every time I held this debate with myself, I’d always get caught up in the pros and cons of each. It took me a while, but what I finally realized is that neither course would solve all the world’s problems and either course would end up helping somebody.

To that end, I’ve always had a soft spot for World Hunger Year, an organization co-founded in 1975 by Harry Chapin. I believe they’ve found a best-of-both-worlds solution by “supporting community-based organizations that empower individuals and build self-reliance.”

LYNN: Thanks for the interview, Charlie. You played nice, didn’t run with scissors…Now it’s time to cough up a book for one of my readers.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One).” I will randomly draw a winner on Friday, April 24, at the conclusion of his book tour.

Can’t wait or don’t feel lucky? You can buy Charlie’s book on Amazon. Visit his blog, Back to the Fridge, for more dieting/life humor and wisdom. I promise you’ll like what you find there.

Catch Charlie on his book tour at:

Monday, April 13: Slim Shoppin (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 14: Peanut Butter Boy (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 15: Roni's Weigh (Reader Q & A)
Thursday, April 16: Lynn's Weigh (Interview)
Friday, April 17: Pasta Queen (Interview)

Monday, April 20: Biggest Diabetic Loser (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 21: Ecstatic Days (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 22: The Alcoholian (Guest Post)
Thursday, April 23: The Wonderful World of Wieners (Review & Interview)
Friday, April 24: Cranky Fitness (Guest Post)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sylvia's Mother

Before I had children, I thought Syliva’s mother was a bitch.

So we’re all on the same page, give a listen to Bon Jovi singing the old Dr. Hook song:



When I was young and rebellious and didn’t trust anyone over 30, Sylvia’s mother, Mrs. Avery, was the symbol of repression. I mean, who did she think she was not letting our hero caller talk to Sylvia? Sylvia had the right to know he was on the phone and to decide for herself if she’d talk to him or not. Sylvia wasn’t some wallflower princess locked away in a castle tower, and if she was, our hero’s phone call just might save her.

I was such a romantic nitwit back in the day.

Today, as the mother of two grown children, you can bet your last Hershey Kiss I wouldn’t let that caller talk to my daughter. The big jerk probably hurt her more than once and left her crying on several occasions, as her mother watched helplessly while her child suffered. Sylvia’s mother saw the opportunity to keep her daughter from further pain and misery and she took it. Bravo!

The further I get into this weight-loss/weight-maintenance journey, the more I realize and appreciate my own inner Mrs. Avery, the one who won’t let me talk to the Mississippi Mud Pie callers, the peanut butter callers, the “just one bite” callers, the potato chip callers, and all the other food seducers who have my number. My inner Mrs. Avery knows that whole foods – that metaphorical fella from Galveston – are going to treat my body better than any of the other callers would. They treat my emotions better, too. By not inviting a lot of processed foods or sodas or other kinds of empty calories into my life, I no longer suffer food guilt, as in “I shouldn’t have eaten _____.”

My inner Mrs. Avery isn’t a complete tyrant. Notice she didn’t say ALL empty calorie foods were never invited to call. I don’t believe in complete abstinence from foods I’ve learned to eat in moderation. But as Michael Pollan says in his book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

No food is worth eating too much of, feeling guilty about, or gaining weight over. No food is worth the emotional equivalent of a broken heart.

I was ever so grateful to my inner Mrs. Avery yesterday as the scalloped potatoes and chocolate bunnies were passed around and they were singing, “Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her, I'll only keep her a while. Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell her goodbye.” Mrs. Avery knew they weren’t just wanting to say goodbye – seductresses that they are – and so took it upon herself to tell them, “No, she won’t be talking to you today.” The result? No food hangovers, no food guilt, and a steady number on the scale, which leaves me time to obsess…I mean think…about other things. Like, if Jon Bon Jovi ever called me and my mother didn’t let me know? Yeah…Lynn’s mother would be in big trouble.

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This week, Charlie Hills (author of the blog Back To the Fridge) kicks off a two-week virtual book tour to promote his latest book, “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One).” Lynn’s Weigh will post an interview with Charlie on Thursday. Join me then for your chance to win a copy of Charlie's book!

Here’s the schedule of Charlie’s book tour:

Monday, April 13: Slim Shoppin (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 14: Peanut Butter Boy (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 15: Roni's Weigh (Reader Q & A)
Thursday, April 16: Lynn's Weigh (Interview)
Friday, April 17: Pasta Queen (Interview)

Monday, April 20: Biggest Diabetic Loser (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 21: Ecstatic Days (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 22: The Alcoholian (Guest Post)
Thursday, April 23: The Wonderful World of Wieners (Review & Interview)
Friday, April 24: Cranky Fitness (Guest Post)

Friday, April 10, 2009

From Good Friday Despair to the Hope Of Easter

Year ago, I was deeply hurt by someone I’d loved for many years. For months, I walked around in a cesspool of despair, asking myself the same questions over and over: How could he do that to me? How could I have been so stupid? How can I trust anyone again?


It was during that time that a woman said to me, “Lynn, you can’t have Easter without Good Friday.”


I couldn’t see how there could be ‘Easter’ within all my overwhelming pain, but her words and the gentle way in which she spoke them drove a wedge in my endless regurgitation of anger, and they gave me hope that one day I would be whole again.


I hung on to that hope and, more importantly, began acting on that hope. Eventually my Easter arrived. I learned to smile again, trust again, and most importantly, to forgive and move on. I still remember that painful time with some regret and sadness – Good Friday was not meant to be forgotten – but my Easter, my renewed life, was worth working for.

Each year since then, something reminds me of that conversation and my renewed faith in rebirth. This morning it was a single bloom on my Christmas cactus.

This type of cactus blooms in November and December, thus its name. I have two of them, and after they bloom, I pretty much leave them alone. They don’t need much water, so they just sit on the dresser until summer when I set them on the porch where they soak in the sun for a few months and prepare to bloom again.

During the past year, I’ve received emails from several readers expressing that kind of Good Friday desperation stemming from their attempt(s) to lose weight. They live in a darkness that originates in self-loathing. They are angry with themselves for their seeming inability to lose weight, and they are desperate to find the secret to flipping that switch that will turn on their accountability and motivation forever and not just for a few days or weeks.

When I was head first in depression and despair, I looked everywhere to find relief from my suffering. Everywhere, that is, except inside myself. It was only when I believed in that hope of Easter and then worked toward that hope that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the only way that belief and work and light came to be was through finally accepting that I truly was good enough to love. I had to dig deep inside and admit that I was all I had in this world, and if I didn’t love me, no one could.

The single pink bloom on my Christmas cactus reminds me that you, me, everyone has the ability to bloom, even out of season, even in the midst of Good Friday despair. We might need help along the way in the form of professional counseling or the love of a good friend. But loving ourselves is the key – the “secret” – to Easter, and the work it takes to rebirth ourselves, to build that new life, is worth every tear, every drop of sweat, and everything we say “no” to.

Spring, Easter, Passover…whichever rite or holiday you celebrate this time of year, each is a reminder of life and rebirth and hope. My hope for all of you is peace. Even if you’re living in the pain of Good Friday, Easter will come. It always does.

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Next week, Charlie Hills (author of the blog Back To the Fridge) will kick off a two-week virtual book tour to promote his latest book, “Why Your Last Diet Failed You (And How This Book Won’t Help You On Your Next One).” Lynn’s Weigh will post an interview with Charlie on Thursday, April 16.

Here’s the schedule of Charlie’s book tour:

Monday, April 13: Slim Shoppin (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 14: Peanut Butter Boy (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 15: Roni's Weigh (Reader Q & A)
Thursday, April 16: Lynn's Weigh (Interview)
Friday, April 17: Pasta Queen (Interview)

Monday, April 20: Biggest Diabetic Loser (Book Review)
Tuesday, April 21: Ecstatic Days (Guest Post)
Wednesday, April 22: The Alcoholian (Guest Post)
Thursday, April 23: The Wonderful World of Wieners (Review & Interview)
Friday, April 24: Cranky Fitness (Guest Post)

Join us Thursday, April 16, for our “interview” and the chance to win a copy of Charlie’s new book!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm Not A Patient Patient

Man, I get cranky when I haven’t worked out in three days. I can’t stand living with me right now, so I can only imagine what my husband’s thinking. Hmmm…do you suppose that’s why he was out of the house before I got up this morning and has dinner plans with colleagues tonight? Can’t say as I blame him.

Catching up on my blog reading, I see many of my favorite bloggers are suffering from stomach bug, recovering from surgeries, moving, all kinds of things that are keeping them away from exercise. At least I’m in good company. I’ve had a stupid allergy-turned-sinus-infection for what feels like two weeks but it’s only been four days.

I really am a bad patient. Worse than any guy I’ve been married to or lived with. (Except maybe my father. Back surgery, heart attack…no problem, he’s undemanding. The man gets a sniffle and his world crashes in and he takes the rest of us with him.)

My problem is that I don’t like to watch television, and I can only tolerate one, maybe two, movies in one day. When I have a sinus headache I can’t focus to read very well, so books and magazines are out. Audible.com is tempting, but I really don’t have the $15 a month to spare right now.

Ugh. Excuses excuses. Whine whine whine. If I could just get on the elliptical for 30 minutes, life would be so much more settled. But I can’t or my head will explode, so I’m stuck learning new ways to be patient with myself.

Lyn over at Escape from Obesity had an excellent entry today about how, in recovering from the stomach bug, she was reminded how tired she was on an average day when she weighed 50 pounds more than she does now. It made me think about my life pre-exercise and how I dealt with stress and boredom. I watched a lot of television back then. Had TiVo and everything. I read a lot of books, too, not that that’s a bad thing. How I mean it is that when I was 300 pounds, I purposely stayed non-physically busy so I wouldn’t think about how I weighed 300 pounds. Taking a walk was out of the question, but today, I’d give anything to go for a walk. Well, maybe not a walk today. It’s currently 30 degrees and snowing, so even if I were healthy, I wouldn’t go anyway…but I’d do something physical at least.

I get all agitated anymore when I can’t sweat. I’m also hungrier on days I don’t work out, and now that I’m on day three of no exercise, my mind is in my refrigerator. I do battle with do I need to eat or do I just want to eat?

Tomorrow I’m back at the exercise, even if it’s just for a little while. I’m out of sync, out of my schedule…I need to be normal again, even if my ears make everything sound like I’m living at the bottom of a barrel. A good sweat at the end of a sinus infection might be just the thing to clear it out. It will do wonders for my head, either way.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Escarole, Endive, Easter and The Solace of Food

Escarole

Larry and I went to P’burgh yesterday to have lunch at Cassie, Matt, and g-baby Claire’s house. Before we left I prepared a big salad for myself since everyone else was having grilled tuna. I’d bought what I thought was romaine a few days before, but when I grabbed it out of the crisper yesterday I saw the twist-tie was marked “escarole.”

Now when I say "big salad," I mean BIG as in "eat it from a 2-quart Purex bowl"-sized salad. That’s a lotta greens, my friends. And while I like escarole, I don’t love it, and certainly not in mass quantities. But I was in a hurry to see the family and didn’t want to waste time running to the grocery store to buy a bag of something else, so I made the big salad with the escarole and we were off.

I should have gone to the store.

It’s a good thing I had a new crown put on a few weeks ago. Chewing down that much escarole takes some solid choppers, that’s for darn sure. And talk about bitter. Yowza. I also had a tummy ache on the way home that I'm blaming on the bitter greens. Yeah, I’m pretty much turned off of escarole for a few months.

Endive

Bitter comes in different forms, though, and right now I’m quite turned on to Belgian endive, particularly roasted. Cut off the ends, take off any wilted outer leaves, cut into quarters, put on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam, throw a little pepper and garlic powder on it, spray it with Pam, and throw it in a 375-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, flipping it halfway through, and you’ll have yourself one mighty fine veggie.

Of course no store around here sells Belgian endive, so we stopped at a grocery store in P’burgh on the way home yesterday to pick some up. That and Fage. And fennel. And string beans. The laundry list of items I can’t find in Podunkville never seems to end. I’m not alone, though. We ran into friends of ours from P’dunkville at the same shopping mall. They were hitting the same stores as we always do – Giant Eagle, Barnes & Noble and of course, the “state store,” the only place sanctioned to sell booze in this silly state. Like us, our friends keep a cooler in the trunk of their car. Glad to know I’m not the only store hopper in western PA. Maybe I should change careers and become a personal grocery shopper…hmmmm….

Anyway, back at the grocery store, I used the self-checkout, and when I got to the endive, I looked for it in the product finder. Nothing under “B” for Belgian, so I tried “E” for endive. It listed regular endive, but not Belgian endive. Regular endive was $2.49 a pound, but I knew the Belgian kind was $4.99 a pound. But there were no Belgians in that computer, so I asked an employee for assistance.

“I can’t find Belgian endive on here,” I said.

“Honey, it don’t matter what country it’s from! Endive is endive,” she laughed. She selected the regular endive and sent my half-price Belgian endive down the belt. I should have corrected her and said it was $4.99 a pound, but I didn’t. She’d walked away, it was busy, people were waiting…Still, I should have said something. Has this ever happened to you?

Food as Solace?


The grocery store is like a lab for human psychology. I sometimes speculate about someone’s mood based on what’s in their cart. I’m not talking about being a snooty b-word who polices shopping carts for Pepsi and frozen tequitos. I’m talking about a cart of comfort and solace.

For instance, a young woman standing in line ahead of me last week held a basket filled with a quart of cherry ice cream, a bottle of Dr. Pepper, two Cadbury eggs, a pack of bubble gum and generic cigarettes. There was something sad about her, like maybe she’d lost her job or broke up with her boyfriend. When she took out her food stamps debit card to pay for her purchase, she seemed overly nice to the cashier, like she was afraid of being judged for buying junk food with food stamps. Maybe this wasn’t the case at all. And whether she was or was not, it made me wonder how many people are turning to food for solace in this bad economy?

Marshmallow Bunnies

I’ve discussed here on occasion my own solace of food. But there’s solace and then there’s tradition

It’s the week before Easter which means….a week of marshmallow bunnies, my annual squishy little treat.

Ever since I began my weight-loss journey in 2005, I’ve bought a six-pack of bunnies the week before Easter and eat one almost every day until Easter. Is it just me or are the bunnies getting smaller and the packaging bigger? I’m thinking yes. The little bunny takes up 2/3 the space of the wrapper and it’s not as easy to get three bites out of my sweet little treats anymore. But I did. In the WalMart parking lot at 10 a.m. this morning. One down. Five to go.

I’m the non-candy Grammy, but this year I might break tradition and share a marshmallow bunny with Claire. Don’t tell her, but her “basket” this year is a kid-sized wheelbarrow that I’m stuffing with sidewalk chalk, bubbles and a bubble wand shaped like Mickey Mouse, a “talking” Elmo book about potty training, and a squeaky little stuffed chick. I’ve got until Thursday when I see her next to think about the marshmallow bunny.

I’m Almost Done!

Wow…that’s an awful lot of jumping, story-telling and speculation for one blog. Sorry about that. But that’s how my mind works sometimes. I can be thinking about escarole and endive one minute and the next be wondering if more people than before are drowning their sorrows in quarts of cherry ice cream and whether I’ll share a marshmallow bunny with my grandkid or not. I’m also thinking I should call the store and explain the endive thing or at least stop by customer service when I’m there next. The only thing I’ve ever stolen (on purpose) in my life was a tampon – one tampon out of a box of 20 – from a convenient store when I was 16 and my friend was in dire need and we had no money. Not an excuse, I know, but just letting you know how I roll.

So…do you have any grocery store/food/marshmallow bunny stories you’d like to share? Or am I the only speculatively nutty food lady out there?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Closer to Accepting the "Flabby Bits"

In commenting on my last blog entry, “Hello Flies and Spiders and Little Bugs That Swarm My Wine,” blogger Debby used the phrase “flabby bits” to describe the parts of her body that she’d despaired over the morning before moving her parents into a new home. Despite her “flabby bits,” she still appreciated what her body could do since losing weight and getting physically fit.

I understand that battle. My first reaction (usually knee-jerk) upon seeing my loose skin is an eye roll. Then in the same breath, I remind myself that, overall, I’ve done a damn fine job of improving my entire body. I’m not going under the plastic surgeon’s knife, so my flabby bits of loose skin are pretty much permanent. Deal with it, Haraldson.

Lucky me dealt with it twice in the last 24 hours.

After several attempts at repair, my Oprah elliptical was declared dead a few months ago. Thanks to a good warranty, two fit young men brought me a replacement elliptical today. (Hopefully one that’s new and not refurbished.)

One of the guys saw my photos from the Oprah show on the wall in my office/gym. He asked me about it and I said I’d lost some weight. He asked how much and I told him. As he said “Wow, congratulations!” his eyes glanced over to my arms. I was wearing a very short-sleeved t-shirt, one that doesn’t hide the faded stretch marks on the underside and flabby bits of loose skin.


Thanks to a long winter, it’s been five months since I’ve worn a t-shirt in front of anyone outside my gym, and for a split second, I felt self-conscious. It didn’t occur to me that maybe when he looked at my arms he saw biceps and triceps that have more than seen the inside of a gym. Nope. I immediately assumed he was thinking, If she lost THAT much weight, she has to have loose skin. Yup. Look at that hanging there under her armpit. Yuck. It’s disgusting. She should put on long sleeves. As part of my goal to rid myself of these negative thoughts, I took photos of said skin in today’s t-shirt. I tried to look at them as an outsider. I thought, What if one one of my readers or friends has arms like this? How would I react? And the god’s honest truth is, I probably wouldn’t notice, let alone care.








So the question I is: Why don’t I look at my own body through these same eyes?

The jury’s still out, but at least they’re in thoughtful negotiations.

Skin scenario #2.

Ask my 18-month-old granddaughter, “Where’s the baby?” and she’ll lift up your shirt. Her mom is due with g-baby number 2 in 7 weeks and so to prepare Claire for her new brother or sister, Cassie and her husband tell Claire there’s a baby in Mommy’s belly. Only Claire thinks EVERY belly is a baby.

As Claire and I snuggled together yesterday after her nap, my daughter asked her, “Where’s the baby?” Claire lifted up my shirt, revealing my loose, soft, stretch-marked belly just above my jeans. This made Claire very curious and me very nervous. She dug her little baby fingers into the folds and pinched them gently. My first reaction was disgust. I can’t let my granddaughter play with my belly skin! Ew!


But Claire doesn’t know it’s belly skin. She doesn’t know I had two children, lost a million pounds over and over, or what else my stomach’s been through. She thought it was soft and pliable and fun, as much a part of her Grammy Lynn as her nose, eyes or hair. And so I let her roll it between her fingers. And it was liberating in a weird way. As I said, the jury’s still out, but thoughtful.

It’s not like I’m going to wear a bikini in public now or short-cropped tops. I’m still modest and self-conscious. But a little bit more acceptance seeped into my psyche yesterday and today; a little more softening of my loose skin intolerance.

I readily acknowledge that there’s no smooth transition from eye roll to acceptance. Perhaps the everyday mindfulness of this battle will some day render loose skin a non-issue. I’m working toward the day when upon seeing my loose skin I see just me and there’ll be no eye roll, no need for reminders, and no forgiving.

The photos are probably TMI and I’m sure they’ll find their way into some “Lose Your Loose Skin” cream or miracle pill scam on the Internet, but for now, it’s cathartic to say, “Here’s what it looks like.” To me, it’s not as scary as my head makes it out to be.

The jury’s still out.

Here's a happier photo of Claire petting our 12-year-old puppy Jake. Golden Retrievers are perpetual puppies. Remember, there's loose skin lurking under that shirt and above those jeans! LOL


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hello Flies and Spiders and Little Bugs That Swarm My Wine!

I confused a couple of moles yesterday when I spread mulch in the garden bed they’d turned into their own Ryan Expressway over the winter. After more than an hour of operating the Wheelbarrow Express, I sat on the deck and drank a glass of water and pored over Light & Tasty magazine. The moles ran in and out of the bed looking for their holes which were now clogged with pine mulch.

Too bad so sad, little moles, I thought. I love living, breathing creatures, but it’s not my job to make your life easy, especially seeing as how you ruined a few of my basil plants last year.

Ummm….yeah. I’d say we’re even.

When I walked to the garage at the start of my lawn-cleaning venture, a fly wacked me in the face. If this was July, I’d have cussed a little and waved my arms wildly. Since this was the last day of March and (hopefully) the end of a long, drawn-out and cold winter, I laughed and welcomed his intrusion. Same goes for the spiders on the porch and the little gnats that seem to grow out of my wine glass when the weather is warm. The gnats annoy the crap out of me in the summer, but in March…not so much. Just being outside without mittens, a scarf, boots, down coat and three layers underneath, I felt blessed.

I knew I was going to do at least 90 minutes of gardening, but I’d walked to the gym earlier in the day and worked out for 80 minutes anyway because for me, concentrated exercise is what I do at the gym or by going on a power walk or non-leisurely bike ride. Working in the garden isn’t concentrated “exercise.” It’s an extension of everyday tasks like vacuuming and doing dishes, only I enjoy it much more than housework.

The other way I distinguish exercise from simply being active or completing chores is that exercise has no immediate visible effect other than making my clothes wet and gross. Gardening and vacuuming and doing dishes and laundry have immediate effects. They are visually gratifying, if you will.

To see the effects of real exercise takes time, like plants growing in a garden. Just as there are plenty of green things shooting out of the ground right now and it will take a few weeks or a month before they turn into anything recognizable, it takes time to strengthen the heart, lungs or a particular muscle group. But the results (strength, stability and lean muscle mass) are worth the work and wait.

Bugs will come and go. So will moles and plants and mulch. And while by gardening this week I’ve awakened muscles I forgot I had over the winter – it’s like I dug them out from under the dead leaves in the garden beds – the consistency of a regular exercise program is what will keep me healthy for another summer, fall, winter and spring.