Food, Weightloss

Calmly taste the cake.

It’s easy to become confused by holidays and special occasions. All that joyfulness and family time can put a big fat fog over your skinny vision. My fourth of July weekend did not include ice cream, BBQ ribs, elephant ears or cheeseburgers, but it was made even more confusing than normal after I watched Food Inc.

Fourth of July at the Blues Festival in Portland

I’ll just come out and say it: on the evening of July 3rd I became a Pescatarian. There are various reasons for this decision that I won’t elaborate on. I’ll just say that some are environmental, some are health-related, some are political and some are moral. But what’s relevant is that this added restriction more than mildly intensified my frustrations with food on July 4th. Not only was I taking sweet and fattening food off the table, but chicken and turkey were now also against the rules. Some way or another, I managed to end my mental suffering with a vegetarian plate of pan-fried noodles (I’m aware of what’s wrong here), and a bunch of watermelon.

The elephant ear was by far the most difficult to resist. I became wild with deliberation as I forced my friend Ryan O’quinn to look up the nutritional content on his smart phone. Remembering my earlier mishap with a three-foot long bag of kettle corn that my mother had provided that day, I decided against it. For the most part, I escaped the holiday’s enticing food stands, and opted for less fattening Independence Day treats like watermelon, fat-free Italian ice, and strawberry shortcake. But it wasn’t easy.

The holiday spirit is an evil fat man who will rudely try to make you forget about your goals. This Christmas I’m sure he’ll say that a few extra pieces of fudge are worth 2 or 3 pounds. On Halloween I expect he will offer weak excuses to swiftly but secretly scarf down the leftovers from the candy bowl. But you must pull yourself together and remember that he is a big fat liar!

Liar or not, the fat man makes a valid point: it is unavoidable that these treats will taste good. Very good. This is something you should say out loud and accept. But the beauty of it is that that’s all there is! It will taste good,  you will eat it, and then it will be gone. History has shown that you will then want to  eat even more, and will probably proceed to stuff your face until you are overcome with self hatred and regret. (Sometimes I play this  scenario out in my head as if to remind myself of the unfortunate end result.) The truth is that you will feel equally as satisfied after eating two bites as you would if you ate two servings.

This is why I think it’s good to taste things, but not to eat entire servings…or, in some cases, entire cakes. So this is what the book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself From a Lifetime of Dieting was desperately trying to instill in me! The author, Bethenny Frankel, preaches that obsessing over dieting mistakes and feeling guilty afterward is at the root of many women’s weight problems.

People are naturally thin because they are conscious of what they eat, their portion sizes, and their activity levels. When they eat a piece of cake, they don’t dwell on it for 24 hours, because they made a conscious–and composed decision to eat the cake. And after they’ve eaten the cake, they proceed with their healthy lives by exercising and eating just as they were before the cake. Ever notice how the thin girls at a Birthday party always ask for a small piece of cake rather than a normal one? That’s because they know they don’t need to have a big piece of cake to enjoy the taste.

In realizing this, I decided to taste the Birthday cake at my boyfriend’s Birthday party this June. I asked for the “teensiest tiny little piece,” which was actually more than I needed. It ended up being about 3 bites. Yes, of course the cake was good, but it wasn’t the best damn cake in the world. It was somehow very clear at that moment that it was not the last piece of cake I was ever going to have in my life, so I just tasted it, calmly. And it tasted good, but not so good that it was worth obsessing over for as long as I did.

I had built up the experience of having the fluffy and yet moist bite of cream cheese-covered cake in my mouth so much, that when it came to actually eating it, I was (dare I say it) disappointed. And this may be the most pathetic part of it all: my food fantasies surpass the food reality.

As it turns out, there is no need for desperation.  Allowing yourself small tastes can be a good thing when you realize that deprivation can lead to relentless cravings later on, causing you to spin into a psychotic and irrevocable binge that will ultimately lead to your demise. I think we can all recall this occurring at one time or another.

It only makes things worse when you drive yourself up the wall wondering what the hell the cake tastes like. Although cake is definitely against the rules, I will allow a bite or two if it will prevent me from flying off the handle. So once in a while you should allow yourself a taste. It’s probable that in doing so,  you will only solidify how NOT worth the calories it is.

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Food, Weightloss

Gloriously addicted

Praise Eywa! I have seen the light once again!

It’s been a sickeningly long time since I have felt such a strong sense of myself. My legs are strong, my mind is engaged, and I can once again tell the difference between hunger and sheer boredom.

Feeling connected to my body once again, I am now comfortable, content, and positively jazzed at the thought of eating healthy and exercising. I don’t really know exactly how long it has been, but for quite a while I was carrying on with my exercise out of reluctant obligation rather than religious devotion. A healthy lifestyle can be so gloriously addicting!

When you make a strong effort toward achieving a healthy body, your life sort of falls into place and you feel like you’ve got (or are at least getting) your shit together. A typical day for me looks like this: walk half a mile to class, participate in the learning process, have a light lunch, more learning, walk home, relax, go for a run, make a healthy dinner at a decent hour, socialize with friends. My life feels complete. It feels well-rounded, productive, structured, and fruitful.

As much as I’d LOVE to bash my head into a giant cake, eating healthy is now more satisfying than eating pizza, cake, and candy. It’s so empowering to know I’m disciplined enough to resist this junk.

However, it’s not all brute strength of the mind. I’m a sucker for cake and ice cream. A lot of the time it takes some premeditation and trickery. Meaning, I have to make plans to trick my brain into eating healthy. Because I am well aware of what I will be craving around 1 am (ice cream), I can manipulate myself into choosing healthier options like a Skinny Cow (which only has 1.5g of fat per sandwich!) by making sure that the fridge is always stocked with low-fat treats. (Oh, and on a side note, I just found out that you can get little tubs of Skinny Cow ice cream…Ben and Jerry’s Style! You know, when you have your individual bucket of ice cream that no one else is allowed to eat. And it’s low-fat!)

If I think I want to eat, but am not sure if I’m actually hungry, I usually try drinking water, or eating a small but filling snack to tide me over until dinner time.

My new favorite thing is almond butter. Between meals and before my workout, I usually need a little extra energy. So I toast half of a whole wheat english muffin and put about a table-spoon of all natural almond butter on it. Although it’s a small snack, it still fills me up so that I won’t binge, and it gives me enough energy for my workout. It’s also quite scrumptious.

Reassigning the meaning of the word “treat” to mean anything ‘good tasting’ can make you feel like you had a treat when, in fact, you ate something worthwhile. I now consider raspberries a treat and shamelessly eat a container(s) every day. And yes, I’m addicted to those too.

The difficulties of cutting out sweets, fat, and complex carbohydrates can be painful. But once you get over the hump and get all those unfortunate instances of weakness out of the way, you can get into a nice little rhythm. It’s kind of like when you get up to running two miles, and then if you keep going you just get in a nice little groove and it’s as if you could sustain it forever.

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Recipes

Smoothie savior

One night I was up watching The Ugly Truth and decided to satisfy my dessert craving with a giant bowl of Caramel Caribou ice cream.

Needless to say, the guilt set in about 24 hours later. If I would have had the ingredients for my smoothie at the time, I could have saved myself a lot of self loathing brought on by my late night binge. Although there are a lot of carbohydrates and sugar in fruit smoothies, it’s a better option than a milkshake.

So for those of you who want to make a healthier treat, here’s my smoothie recipe. It’s also great for breakfast!

What you’ll need:

  • blender
  • 1 and 1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice (or something island-y)
  • 1 cup frozen berries of your choice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup yogurt (I usually use the fat-free  individually packaged ones by Yoplait)
  • 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk (optional)
  • ice (optional)

Give or take a little on these ingredient measurements. It’s all very approximated. I really just sort of throw it all in there. Add more or less to the mix depending on what you like or how many people you’re making it for. For example, two bananas or one and a half cups of berries would be just as delicious.

Directions:

  1. Pour the frozen berries, pieces of banana and nonfat yogurt into blender.
  2. Add small handful of ice for a thicker, colder smoothie (optional).
  3. Add nonfat dry milk for an extra dose of calcium (optional).
  4. Pour orange or pineapple juice into the mix.
  5. Blend and enjoy!
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