Thursday, December 20, 2012

Don't Gain 10 Pounds Over the Holidays! Tips From the Fat and the Skinny.

Santa in the store mall at The Plaza, NYC
In the waiting area of Todd English's Food Hall, The Plaza
Holiday shopping, meal planning, get-togethers, the incredible fun and stress of dining out, staying in, invites and mega events with visiting family and friends between Christmas Eve and New Years. You are a whirlwind and your family is thrilled and spinning like dynamos with the spirit of celebration. How did you do it? The adrenalin pumped, your friends and family rolled sweaters to their elbows and pitched in with sweat and tears.  Now comes January 3rd and all is a glossy virtual memory on your digital uploads and scrolled down Facbook feeds and Twittered Instagram photos.

What will remain in the realm of the concrete is neglect of a certain area of the bathroom or your bedroom. No, not the dust balls and micro bits of human flesh and hair. It's the scale. How long will it take for you to acknowledge that you've eaten your way out of those skinny size 0 jeans and are feeling pinched and breathless in your size 2s? How many days will you avoid, "The Horror, The Horror" of hopping onto the abyss and seeing those dreaded numbers indicating a gain of 15 pounds?
My good friend.
 The sooner you face the fats, the better. The faster you will resolve to shut your mouth and get back to the basics of plain, healthy eating and throwing out everything in your refrigerator with the whiff of sugar and savory. The quicker you will marshal your brood back to accepting veggies, fish and lean meats, praying that you obliterate the rich sumptuous holiday fare from their consciousness.
After the holidays, for many, it's the left picture, not the right when putting on jeans. Gulp....ahhhhhhhhh!
Want to avoid the hell of having to diet off those rat clinging 10-20 pounds after the holidays have long passed? Let's get real! You can gain that much, especially if you are the type, like me, to pillage the delectable goodies you've avoided all year in a holiday binge fest then continue the pig-out bliss to the Epiphany, January 6th or beyond.  It's so much easier to lose only a few pounds than 10-20. If you forestall the inevitable weight gain of the season, you'll be happier, healthier and stronger in the long run..

Here are some tips to fantasize about doing. You want to avoid the scale terrors don't you? If you can accomplish at least one in its entirety, the remembrance of your carefulness will inspire you to get on the scale more quickly and will keep the guilt at a standoff.  Think five pounds less fat misery in January. Use these tips at your own discretion especially if you are overweight or obese.

Tip # 1
Right before the holidays take 2 bites less at each meal and up your intake of water and fresh lemon juice to make yourself feel full. Lose a few pounds before the marathon of eating begins. You can also make the lemon drink featured in the Master Cleanse.

Tip# 2
For more immediate results, go on a Master Cleanse for 5 days before Christmas and your mind, body and stomach will be attuned to feeling full. Your eye-mind-hand-mouth excesses won't be as bad and your susceptibility to sampling and going for seconds of the tastiest, most caloric courses will be muted. By the time your body and mind catch up with the haze of overeating that other partiers have entered days before, you will be near New Years. You will have already saved yourself by half, the weight you would have gained.
Tempting rolls. Avoid, avoid, avoid. They will stimulate your appetite and increase your blood sugar.
 Tip #3
At Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners and New Years Eve and New Years Day dinners, drink hot drinks at least two hours before you eat, if possible. Again, if you use the Master Cleanse lemon (hot, like a toddy without the alcohol) drink, you will be way ahead of your weight gain curve. Tea, coffee, lattes with non fat milk are filling. It's better to hydrate yourself with liquids, and avoid the stress of taxing your organs by overeating. Liquids (stay away from diet sodas and soda, period.) keep your digestive system flowing smoothly and happily. Psychologically, you will feel strong, confident and pleased at your determination. These are good emotions in the midst of friends' and relatives' overeating depression despite their attempt to "enjoy the holidays."

Tip #4
When people see what you are doing, the saboteurs will crawl out of the woodwork like insects on a mission. Remind yourself, your less filled plate or drinking liquids will make them feel guilty as they stuff their faces. You must arm your consciousness and need to please them by either making jokes or being direct according to your own MO. If you need to set this course a few days ahead and make up practice lines in response, then do so. Their guilt trip won't help you take off the 15 pounds you've gained because you listened to them. If they carp at you, ask them, "Are you concerned about gaining weight?" The jacket of blubber they are encouraging you to wear, put right back on them. Your emotional, mental and physical health is more important than all their manipulative taunts, demeaning jokes and guilt-fear machinations. If they have a problem with YOUR ATTEMPTS AT BEING HEALTHY,  that is their problem. Just one more cookie won't hurt them, especially if they are trying to stuff your face with it. Give it right back to them...the cookie and second helpings and whatever else more they want you to eat or drink. Their criticisms of your attempt at strength and health is their problem. Ask them if they have a problem with your need to be healthy, thin and not excessive at this critical time when everyone is prone to gaining weight.
Fish with mussels, light and savory. The only safe dish to finish, perhaps.

Quail; don't finish all of it.
Tip #5
Take two spoonfuls/forkfuls of the most fattening and highest caloric foods (if you must, to taste, but that's it). Take five forkfuls/spoonfuls or more of salad (If you have to have dressing, try fresh squeezed lemon and cold pressed olive oil or a great balsamic vinegar with no oil.) and vegetables (unless they are full of cream, butter and cheese). If you have no choice and the salad is predressed, ask your hostess if she has other dressing or ask for a bit of greens without dressing, then ask for the balsamic. If she is offended, that's her problem.
Arugula salad with parmigiano sans the dressing. Eat all of it.
Tip #6
Avoid white starches and their derivatives, i.e. potatoes, bread, rolls, rice, pasta. Instead, fill up on the most colorful food items that took the least amount of preparation because they were grown from soil or hydroponically and no one has thought to be extra creative to process them with bread crumbs and other caloric preparations. If the cooks have deep fried the broccoli and cauliflower, then pick off the bread crumbs or push aside the creamy, cheesy glop designed to mask the true flavors of the vegetable. The goo and fried batter and crumbs are the pounds you will gain. Ask yourself this question: do I want to gain 5 pounds on vegetable dishes designed to taste scrumptious? Or do I want to gain 5 pounds on the main meal and dessert course? Make a decision, but don't do both. Stick to colors/vegetables that have not been excessively treated, cooked and processed.
Beef cheek ravioli. (Heavy fare; just eat one.)
 Tip #7
If you are going to drink alcohol, limit yourself to a glass of red or white wine, at the most two glasses and follow the above tips about food to the letter. If you are going to have mixed drinks, limit yourself to one. If you are having straight up or on ice straight vodka, gin, bourbon, etc.,  then try to avoid the wine or have one glass of wine and one straight up drink, one of each at the most. If you can, limit yourself to two drinks and follow the other tips about food like a fascist.

Red velvet cake. Take a sliver and eat half of it. That's it.

Milleflour cake: thin pastry layers and creme filling. Is a thin slice possible? Then just eat 1/2 and that's it.

What more can be said. If you eat it, you'll wear it, unless you can have just one, the most two bites, to taste.
 Tip #8
If you must eat dessert and must try all the desserts, take one tiny slice/piece of the larger dessert items and then eat one bite of each, yes, that's ONE BITE. If there are those cakes/desserts (fruitcake) that are unappealing and avoidable, then pick one luscious item you do love (i.e. red velvet cake) and eat half of a small portion (thin sliver) and that's it. Don't try more than one half slice of a dessert. If you finish the entire piece of that delicious dutch apple pie, then a half hour later, a piece of the black forest cake and then a half hour later, a slice of the sweet potato pie, you will have gained your six pounds in one dinner.  Even if you are careful between Christmas and New Years, your cells will have expanded and they will be raging to be filled the next day and the next. It will be very difficult to resist the temptation not to eat the leftovers your hostess gave you, especially any dessert leftovers, WHICH YOU SHOULD HAVE REFUSED! If you are the hostess and you aren't sending your guests home with leftovers or they refuse them, THEN TAKE THEM TO A FOOD PANTRY!
Incredible pastries: from tarts, chocolate truffle pastries to Boston creams and strawberry shortcake whipped creamed desserts. Don't they look beautiful? Pretend they taste awful and avoid eating any. Be proud of yourself. These are the little foxes that creep up on you and snare you in their teeth.
Tip #9
Watch out for the seemingly small items that require tremendous will power to avoid whether appetizer course or dessert course, i.e.  chips and dips, the crab cakes or oysters Rockefeller, the chocolate covered Christmas butter cookies filled with jelly or chocolate or another equivalent of such that you like. You know about chips and dips. But the cookies!!! Cookies are pound packers; rarely can you eat only one. I have easily scarfed 1/2 pound of a two pound box simply by eating 5 cookies.  In fact avoid the easily navigable, pop in your mouth appetizers (cheese, any processed tray of items from Cosco, and desserts i.e. chocolates, petit fours, fudge, etc.). If you can't have just one of anything that is 50- 80 calories or more, (potato chip, Jacques Torres chocolate) then don't have it at all. These items havoc your pleasure stimulators and endorphin terrorize you until the tray is half empty. And then you realize you're the paramount nibbler.
Chocolate chip cookies. Can you have just one?
Tip # 10
Weigh yourself immediately the next morning. Of course, you will kid yourself that you should wait a few days until you have allowed some of the food to be eliminated. And don't kid yourself with the rationalization that you can put it off because you have the salad and chicken in the fridge at the ready. NO. Do not fall for any excuse, justification or rationale building. Weigh yourself. The scale is your friend. It will help you decide to follow the same protocol to prepare for the next session of weight wars, New Years Eve and New Years Day. If the scale is kicked under the bathroom vanity or is left to gather hair balls in the corner, then you are doomed to gain even more weight than you imagine. And you will feel you can eat with impunity the week following up to New Years celebrations.

Tip #11  (About those leftovers...)

 Me after drooling over the luscious treats in the downstairs mall just outside Food Hall at The Plaza, NYC (photo credit, Emily)
 Good Luck, God Bless and Happy Holidays.

The resolutions for maintaining your weight or losing weight should begin well before the holidays, not after New Years. In fact, two weeks before, during and after, step up weighing yourself every day, regardless of what the pundits say. Reality is a vital motivator to keep your appetite in check. Delusion and avoidance is a stimulator of appetite.  Of course, if you don't mind gaining a lot of weight and plan to take the next 6 months losing it then go into unconsciousness and oblivion and eat anything that isn't nailed down. For me, a chronic overeater and obeser (see previous posts on this blog) those 6 months reverted to 6 years and then decades of yo-yoing. And when I think back to the beginnings, it was always the holidays that set me adrift on the raft of self-destruction. At sea with my fellow orcas, I was doomed to float on the waves of my own misery looking at rolls of blubber in the mirror (when I had the courage to glance at my reflection).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Confessions From the Land of No Return

Julie Hatterly's home made hamburger buns via my Pinterest Board

My bread passion is legion. (See previous post.) So is my genetic and/or learned need to overindulge, switching off my brain sensors so fullness, is never registered or acknowledged. Whether my Roman ancestors were dynastic Caesars who conducted huge day-long groaning-table banquets and then every two hours or so took breaks to the vomitorium so they could throw up their meals to make room for more roasted fowl and macaroni, I do not know. I never threw up food after a gorge. I just digested and a few hours later would graze and munch until the next ersatz level of fullness was attained to repeat the pattern a few hours later, and a few hours later without ever allowing myself to feel sated. Was this emotional, inherited, genetic, learned? Does it matter? Well, yes to all and other contributing factors. But regardless, the learned pattern, personality driven habit, unconscious urge and genetic proclivity to overeat made me fat.
Roman Vomitorium at the ampitheatre in Trier. A vomitorium was not used as the myth suggested, for Romans to vomit and eat more. It was a passageway for exiting the theater quickly. 
The interesting fact was that this pattern and unconscious urge could be stopped only if I refrained from food altogether and just drank fluids, particularly warmed milk. In other words, I was able to eradicate appetite if I wasn't around food or didn't take a first bite of anything. Once the first domino was toppled, the rest followed to a great crash. I would binge, purchasing and eating ready made foods, inflating my stomach like a balloon when one of my miserable taste buds was engaged.  And they could be engaged willy nilly by a tiny gnocchi, the corner of a croissant, a translucent sliver of pound cake, a crumb of challah. I couldn't say no to anyone if food was placed before me, especially if it was tempting, succulent, savory or a derivative of wheat. That is unless I was fasting. Then all bets were off and no amount of manipulation, guilt intrusion, cajoling or demeaning ridicule  by friend, family or foe could coax me to have that first bite, especially if my mind was made up.

How and when I learned this was an effective MO for weight loss is not clear, but I do know that this trend works for many who battle obesity. It is little understood by thin, "normal" folks, so-called nutritionists and medical professionals. Nor is it understood by those self-righteous who are able to eat, feel sated and control their hungers to stop lifting their hand to feed their face. The French with their superior metabolisms especially look at my type with disdain and think I'm a pig for my inability to control my appetite once it's been triggered.
Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
But for those of us addicts to whom food is like heroin or opium, especially rolls, cakes, croissants, scones, etc., it is easier to abstain altogether from using our mandibles. Much less painful than having "just a taste," which is murderous because with guilt and horror, we cannot stop and are likely to engorge ourselves with every muffin, scone, slice of cake in sight and then hunt for more. Impossible? So now you know! When you see an obeser, think, "Their fasting capabilities are greater than mine." Chances are some are like me, an aesthectic who can abstain from chewing for months while living off the nutrition of a liquid diet. Judging me are you? Stand in my shoes and be merciful or I'll psychically convey this condition to your metabolism so you will have a bit more heart in the face of my suffering.
Pumpkin Bread with Salted Cararmel Drizzled Pumpkin Buttercream
 At my current BMI of 20, I'm engaged in this mini battle to finally right my drunken appetite. I set aside one day a week to eat whatever I enjoy, especially my friends the breads and specifically ones that don't appear to readily inflame my gluten hypersensitivities (or so I thought). In the past, I noted that processed, packaged breads with GM wheat grains (cracked wheat, wheat, rye, even some bakery breads) whose grains scientists tweaked, changed and refined over the past 50-70 years to benefit the commercial food industry and industrial farms, created problems for me. For one, I was extremely hungry after I consumed a bagel or a roll, unsatisfied, blindly craving more in prodigious quantities. Secondly, and I noted this when I was obese, after pigging out, my joints ached, I had reflux, my appetite was off the charts the next day, I was lethargic, non thinking and sleepy. The only way to describe it is I was anesthetized. Jack the Ripper could have cut into my flesh and I would have grinned without a misstep, "Please hand me the rest of that fresh semolina with butter."
Buttery, Flaky Petrossian Croissants, truly my favorite. I could eat them all and your typical slight French woman would be appalled.
But I have been losing the battle using this eating pattern these last six months. The breads are winning. Eating all of the croissants I can hunt down from the area's Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Petrossian and polishing off some danishes from 7-Eleven and corn muffins from Martha's Country Bakery and gluten-free scones from Red Hat Bakery during the course of a  12 hour graze, while supplementing with some fish or chicken or meat, fruits and veggies has begun to grate on me. I hate the way I feel afterward. My joints ache, my allergies return. I regurgitate food in my throat while I sleep, unsettling my body's ability to heal while resting. Symptoms I took in stride when I was obese, I no longer can tolerate. I'm beginning to understand viscerally that I cannot overindulge with impunity. This unhealthy practice has consequences, and they are physically painful. Alarmingly, the pain is registering in my mind so that I can no longer remain anesthetized. Between sessions of eating and fasting, the outrageous hunger pangs increase. Now, I organically know beyond knowing (I surmised this before but questioned it.) that FOR ME, all breads, rolls, croissants, cakes, and I mean ALL that are made with this new (last 50-70 years) flour are beyond obsessively addictive. They are dangerously, horrifically addictive. I can no longer joke about them being like death. They morph my body into a dangerous dying state. When I eat, even the memory of their taste, once I've finished them lingers like a luscious kiss or fragrance that is everpresent. But in seeking their fulfillment I am like the sailors who sought the Sirens in Homer's The Odyssey. I am dashed on the razor sharp reef of my own lusts and my cells are slashed dying in  metabolic acidity and toxicity.
In Homer's The Odyssey, the Sirens lured sailors who heard their irresistible song to their deaths. They sailed their ships toward the Sirens and perished in the turbulent waves, the ships dashed to pieces on the rocks. Odysseus is the only man reputed to have heard their song. Circe tells him to be bound to the ship's mast. While his sailors plug their ears with wax, he alone bound as he is can hear their song. Though he gestures for his men to free him, unhearing, they ignore his cries to be freed from his chains. Once past the Siren's island, they unbind him.
Have I had enough of dying? This is the third day of my fast on liquids after Saturday's egregious binge. Fasting on lattes= steamed nonfat milk, fresh, organic lemon drink (following the Master Cleanse) I feel better, lighter, refreshed. Tomorrow, I will weigh myself to check the damage of Saturday's overeating. Will I ever be able to eat such croissants, muffins, scones, cake abstaining after one bite. I am not French. I don't know, but at this point, I know the answer. No. Whatever part of my being in my makeup, personality, conscious and unconscious mind, I cannot handle certain refined flours and wheat grains. My gluten hypersensitivity is worse than I imagined, more painful and addictive than I allowed myself to believe. I have to face that reality for the rest of my life.

The battle has been lost. It remains to be seen if I can win the war.

Overlooking the Hudson River at the Cloisters in April, when I was heavier (BMI 21, 127 at 5'5.5") than I am now.(BMI 20)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Let Me Tell You All About It!

My love, my nemesis, my heartache. It's not a gorgeous, ripped and straight thirty- fifty-something, super freak, wow of a phantasmic guy. My hunger for this beauty doesn't have me cozying up to a cutie Maltese or soft, cuddly Himalayan. Neither is my rapacity for fragrant gardenias or ravishing exotic orchids. Am I impassioned for the secret obsession of all women, Jacques Torres truffles or Godiva pecan crunchies?

No! Just pass me that yeasty, sometimes yellow, white or dark brown, always crusty, soft inner belly of a structure that ravishes my taste buds especially when plied with butter or peanut butter and thick, luscious, imported blueberry or cherry preserves. Heavenly, toasted, just out of the oven fresh BRRREEAD! My raison d-etre, my love, my soul mate. Of course about now, you are frowning at this wacky and wantonly stupid food confession. And I'm frowning with you, all the more because I'm a gluten hypersensitive. Bread is evil. Bread is hell and damnation. Bread is the maw of Satan.  It is my pal, my heroin. But it's anathema. All flour, wheat, rye, grains, pastas are forever verboten for me. Do you know how long forever is?

Why? Why? The why is the woe. Do you know what the treasured gloriousness that I prefer above all else does to me? Imagine the horrors and miseries of a lifetime of obesity and yo-yo dieting. Yes. The staff of life and grains and all flour products make me obese. On the happiness quotient, in case you haven't looked into our cultural mores about being fat, fat is at the bottom of the scale for power, beauty, grace and righteousness. For me obesity has been a living death.
Beef cheek ravioli at Babbo. Lip smacking good. My friend Emily ordered this; never me.
If you cannot empathize, well imagine miles and miles of journeying through self-loathing and self-hate minute by agonizing minute, year by loathing-filled year. Imagine that nothing and no one can really salve your self-disgust at being a whale as long as there are mirrors and clothes to wear and skinny images in magazines and sylph celebrities on every screen watched by geeks and voyeurs. Imagine the judgment rained down upon your head as you perceive you are belittled for your inferior, sinful, food gluttony and lack of will power. No amount of "Honey I love you, you look fine," can help, because you and you alone know you are a disgustingly overweight, obese, orca. Your type is not a media darling.You are not at a weight of BMI normal or BMI underweight to photograph well. You never photograph well. In fact you race away from family photos during the holidays. No angle of you whether sitting, standing or hiding behind others works, except the one that places you out of the picture.

This was my history until four years ago. It is no longer. The leviathan vanished, exploded by the blood of many tears and 120 pounds of gradual weight loss. Now, I am BMI normal, and though I'm not underweight (as most celebrities must be to photograph well) I am no longer demoralized by my image in photographs. I'm finally satisfied with my appearance in mirrors and storefront reflections.

It only took me a lifetime to get here. How did I do it? I discovered my gluten hypersensitivity was prompting my obesity after reading Wheat Belly by William Davis. It's a fabulous book about the impact of wheat (whose genetics have been so tweaked and refined as to make the grain addictive among other things) on one's metabolism.  After reading this book, I ended a long weight loss plateau when I cut out all gluten products. I felt a restoration of energy and vitality I had never experienced even when I was a pasta raised Italian kid. With fits and starts because of a dream, I had already disappeared 80 pounds of fat, but it was the discovery of my gluten problem that helped me with the last 40. So far, I have resisted weight gain, a miracle, after yo-yoing a total of 20 times.
Recent picture during Thanksgiving week, 11/12

The cravings for my bread passions? They are legion. Hungers are easier to control, but they are everpresent like tormenting spirits. I fantasize about croissants, cheese danish, challah, morning buns, artisinal rolls with pecans, cranberries or walnuts, fresh semolina, corn and seeded ryes like others fantasize about sex positions. If I could, I'd take it any way: just give me the crackers, rounds or French baguette, I'll supply the specialty cheeses, pinot noirs or chardonnays. Every time I stop in Starbucks for my Venti-nonfat-wet-cappuccino, I squash my ravenousness for a blueberry scone or slice of pumpkin bread with a silent mantra, "Death, death, death. Flour is death." Sigh!

"This is no way to live, " you are probably thinking. Others, both friend and enemy have said this to my face. They didn't understand the depth of my insanity for wheat flour products nor my porca miseria (translated as pig misery and interpreted as fat hell). Some part of me not exorcised from yeast sided with them. I thought, maybe they were right. Why deprive myself of what I adore, even it if it is a devil? Just one slice, one roll, one buttery bite can't hurt!
Like all addicts I know how to game my judicious, circumspect intentions. Become unconscious. In this noctambulistic state, I am able to throw caution and right thinking to the floor where I can spit on their admonitions with impunity. I shut down that part of myself that seeks life and embraces health. In this mode, I am capable of heartily enjoying fat suicide. Who cares? Not my friends, not my enemies, not myself. Do you judge me as weak? Well, of course, I'm weak. I never said I was anything but. Obesity is a weakness, a dis-ease. I am still obese, though I look skinny.

The game to hide my relapse into fat suicide has been elaborate. Once I spawned it, I've trawled my wily subterfuge over these last six months to "have my cake and eat it, too," yet remain thin. I suppose it's an experiment to gauge "once and for all," how bad my wheat/flour addiction, my gluten hypersensitivity is. On the other hand, I am riding a whirlwind of screaming fat cells that can strangle me at any moment if I don't counter them by pulling on a pair of skinny size 0 jeans after a feed to judge if my squeeze into them is a gripper or ripper.
I'll take it all. Home made breads, those baguettes, focaccia, cheesey rolls. OMG!  Yummy!
My MO? For one day of the week, I indulge in my bakery bread obsession and eat as many croissants, muffins, danishes I want. I also allow myself healthy food for lunch and dinner (organic veggies and fruit and free range meats, if I can). Then after the entire day's engorgement and I am stuffed like a turkey, I bed myself to sleep off the drunk.

The next day, I weigh myself noting my weight gain sometimes of five pounds. And you thought I wouldn't gain that much?  Get real! It is possible to gorge oneself for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and gain five pounds and then eat the leftovers the next day and the next. All of a sudden, you get on the scale a week later and you have apoplexia and anaphaletic shock. You've gained 10 pounds over the holidays (especially Christmas week toNew Years). And you wonder how it happened? Unconsciousness.
Fabulous ravioli at Eataly market that I can never have. Sigh!
 Of course, I ate like I normally would when I was obese and in a trance-like state. I overindulged to my heart's content. However, after one day, now, I weigh myself as a safety check and I try on a pair of skinny, skinny jeans. I immediately recognize I can barely button the waist and the zipper is ready to split. I have to get on the bed to pull up the pants where my legs have swelled. It's that bad.
These pastas sold at Eataly, NYC are so fresh, it's like me or my mom made them; I used to years ago. No more!
 This next day I am abstemious. I drink fluids and non fat milk for nutrition, but digest and digest expelling what I've eaten. I may do a Master Cleanse for the next three or four days. But I've indulged my passion and so far so good. I weigh myself after the fourth day and find I have lost weight but must continue to get back to the weight baseline where I began. So far so good, one would think, this treating oneself one day of the week like a holiday dinner. But how do I feel psychologically and physically? How do I feel overeating like it's a Super Bowl Party or birthday celebration, just eating what I know is my bet noir and knowing that the more I eat, the more I crave?

Well, Let me tell you...   

(To be continued...)