Category Archives: musings

My philosophy on Weight Loss Programs

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Whenever I see a large cat like this, I am invariably reminded of the gangster movies I enjoyed as a teenager. You know the kind I mean, with the rich guys (fat cats) spoiling their loved ones  and crying over their loss even as background stories show how cold and horrible they can be to their enemies. Not sure what brought that up really, except that I watched a “horror/horror comedy” last night that really made me think about how awful people can be to each other.

As usual, the month is flying by. I can honestly say I have been very good about keeping track of my nutrition and have happily lost a bit over 3 lbs. since I returned home from my trip early last month. It doesn’t sound like much but since I lose very, very slowly and I am trying to eat all my daily points and weekly extras, I feel I am making some very welcome progress after plateauing for various reasons for a good number of weeks.  This month, I am committed to a challenge that will hopefully find me losing 5 lbs. before the end. We shall see, I have been doing my best to stay on track.

I recently read an article by an author who takes issue with weight loss plans. I understand her basic premise which is that any weight loss plan is created as a business first and does not really care about the individuals that follow or shall I say more accurately, pay to join and pay additional monthly installments, don’t follow the plan but also don’t quit the plan so essentially they are not losing anything but money. The author believes that the customers are victims of some cynical marketing plot.

It is my contention that most intelligent people have choices. Although it might not be easy to quit a program once you’ve joined it, it is not impossible. In other words, sometimes the paperwork to get out is complicated or the savvy marketing department has taught the people manning the phones to pitch ways in which the customer can improve their results and at the same time keep paying their monthly quotas. I understand all that but I still believe that one can indeed quit programs. My daughter did it recently and although she does confirm that the person on the other side of the line tried very hard to persuade her to continue, she was firm and was able to get out.

I have been pretty successful with my WW plan. This past couple of weeks have seen me focused on doing everything I can to lose at least 4 lbs. this month. My scale is in kilos so it is difficult to gauge with any exactitude but I will not purchase another scale just for that. I can see that the trend is downward and I am happy with that. And let’s face it, if one is overeating one doesn’t usually need a program or a tracker to tell us that.

At this moment, I am feeling very satiated. I had a good breakfast and for lunch I ate a whole half avocado which was juicy, tasty and filling. I hope I can have a good rest of the day, the weekends present a challenge because I am not as busy on weekends as I am on other days and have a tendency to look in the refrigerator more often than on week days. In any event, I am satisfied with my numbers today and figure that if I can lose one pound a week for the rest of the year, that will be 28 lbs. less than when I started! Down is good. I might stop there too since it will be exactly where I would like to stay for the rest of my life. It is doable and I know I can do it.

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Time is personal

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Time is Personal

I’m currently reading a mainstream NYTimes best seller. It is very enjoyable and the author is or has recently been on a tour to promote her two books and working on her third. I can’t really remember how I happened to catch the title, really, and when I went on Amazon, it was a bit costly so I didn’t buy it. Then I remembered that through my library I am able to “borrow” books electronically. I searched for the title and reserved it for at least two months. When the library informed me last week that the title was available, I promptly downloaded it into my app and began reading. I am finding it entertaining but I do notice that I am reading with an editor’s eye, rather than just enjoying the book for what it offers. It is a terrible thing.

My ambition is to write a mainstream novel this year. Whether or not it gets published is not really important to me. Getting it down on paper (well, in my case in Scrivener!) is what I really want to do. I spent the month of November 2018 participating in NaNoWriMo and got about 90 pages done, or more or less 30%. I did not “win” because I did not complete 50,000 words in that month, but I did write almost every single day. I have not written very much on the novel since December 1st. I find it hard to believe how the days and weeks just fly by.

Someone told me recently that “time” was personal…whatever that meant. Today I kind of got his message: I spend at least one hour every day on personal grooming. I try to make it go faster but by the time I shower, apply body lotion everywhere, comb and style my long, curly hair, find appropriate clothing that is clean, pressed and fits for the day, and then put on my makeup, an hour has gone by. Then I try to spend at least 40 minutes practicing my guitar, another 20 minutes watering or tending to my plants…right there are two hours that my friends who have short hair and wear t-shirts and jeans and no makeup, have no musical hobby or plants save…so I guess he is right.

My weight loss journey continues. I am pleased to say that I have been following the Whole-30 pretty closely although I have given myself a couple of “cheat” days and then begin anew. I am in a different space, at +60 it is no longer appropriate to be wondering if anyone is going to scold me for being overweight! I feel really good though and have lots of energy despite not eating any bread or added sugar. My problem has and will always be portion control! Each meal is an opportunity to practice, that part is fun, watching myself as if I were a stranger!

 

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Personal responsibility…

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It has been kind of an odd day. I woke up pretty early, didn’t do my laps because my husband was traveling and I was going with him to the airport. All went well with that outing and on my return home, I stopped in my favorite nursery and purchased a few things I needed for repotting an orchid. As a prize, I also bought myself two lovely, flowering African violets for my growing collection. I love my violets and their flowers tell me they love me back.

This particular blog has turned into my most honest one, the one where I often really do have a stream of consciousness, unapologetic narrative that deals with real issues going on in my life. I rarely read over what I write because it is a good exercise in purging myself of toxic things that might otherwise make me ill or require the help of a therapist.

I have shared that I was an overweight kid. Not obese by any standard but a good 10 lbs. overweight before my 10th birthday, causing my mother a lot of guilt, some embarrassment but mainly a sense of her own failure up close and personal. As a consequence of my fatness, I was not ever happy about a clothes shopping spree with Mom because pretty clothes in my size did not exist. My personality is such that I never really believed there was anything intrinsically wrong with me (we can credit Grandma for that, she never, ever made me feel inferior because I was fat), just that I enjoyed food and didn’t like to feel hungry.

I learned to sew in my early teens and never knew what size I wore because I made my own clothes. I was a happy kid despite the rejection from Mom and the relentless teasing and taunting of other people. My other (positive) traits became strong. I felt a need to be helpful, funny, responsible, etc. and those attributes did not feel like burdens. For the most part, I enjoyed being me although I do admit that I had imaginary friends who loved me unconditionally for more years than I care to admit.

Today, after the long and rather hectic day, I decided to take a look at the Discover part of WordPress to see what was new and exciting in the world of blogging. I came across a blog written by a fat person (I am one so I don’t feel I need to apologize for calling the blogger that too) writing long and hard to thin people she feels were/are judging her as she is getting on an airplane to travel. I admit that the writing is excellent and the thought process also. The long blog made me curious to see other blogs by the author so I visited her page and found one that was specifically about one of the popular weight loss programs in existence for about 60 years. It is the only one I feel really works and one that has taught me all about nutrition, calories, and getting to know good habits for maintaining weight and fitness.

It has always been my belief that we are each responsible for our lives. Unless there is some real issue, mental or physical, most of us should be able to accept that most of our decisions are responsible for where we find ourselves in our life. I believe that it is true that some of us have more of a tendency to have a hard time putting on or taking weight off but for the most part, it has to do with calories in (eating) and calories out (exercise, etc.) All diets will work if given enough time and most people who lose weight can maintain their loss if they continue to follow a routine of eating in a healthy manner. If one is consuming too many calories for their height/body type, etc. even from good food, one will gain weight. There is no way around this. To say that a particular diet plan is simply a business endeavor designed to make one fail and keep re-joining is to disrespect one’s power. I know what she means in a way but I can’t really accept the thesis. I have about 30 lbs. to lose. When I traveled 25 lbs. heavier than I am now in my small frame, I could feel the sides of the airline seat squeeze me in and so I purchased a first class ticket…these days, minus those 20 lbs. I can sit in coach and spend the extra cash somewhere else.

The blogger’s arguments against weight loss plans are not without merit but to simply give up the idea of travel because the preparation just along the weight issue (will people stare, will people not want to be seated next to me, will people insult me, will people assume laziness, etc.) is a nightmare very sad to me. I envision myself 30 lbs. lighter by the end of this year. My motivation is maximized when I look at pictures of myself 15 years ago because I remember that I never felt deprived foodwise but I always stuck to a more or less healthy, normal eating pattern. Years of dieting in my childhood and teenage years has made my metabolism very slow. This is something I know. I also know how many calories I can consume to maintain my weight. Extra calories without any extra exercise will make me gain weight. Although that is not the end of the world, being fat interferes with the way I want to live my life.

I want to wear belts and dresses. Right now, they don’t look good on me. I want to be able to go into my closet, pick out any item and know that it fits. I used to be able to do that, I am annoyed because these days I often have to try on a few things before I find something that is clean, ironed and fits. I want the old days back. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with paying for it when I can see that trying to do it on my own simply doesn’t work for me.  So while I accept that the blogger has a right to feel empowered by her rejection of following a plan, I think it is important to point out that some of us thrive (without obsessing) by sticking with it. Discipline, commitment and optimism are key to losing weight initially and perseverance and attention are required to maintain. What is wrong with that?

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Unexpected catharsis

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I woke up this morning with one goal in my mind: clear off and put away the items on the love seat and two small chairs in my bedroom that have been serving as “hot spots” for the last several months! It is now 12:45, I haven’t even gotten to the first item on the love seat because my morning has been filled with other more urgent matters that were not on my agenda.

First, I needed to reply to a couple of important messages. Then my husband asked if I would call the glasses place to see if his new eyewear was in (it wasn’t). We have had some guests for the last couple of weeks so I gathered and took the linens to the laundry room to get rid of that item quickly. In the meantime, I noticed that my kitchen counter was looking rather shabby so I stopped and began to clear the counter of all the dust and debris collecting there despite the fact that I have a once-a-week cleaning person. She never cleans the counter and I never have time to do it properly. I didn’t have time to do it properly today either but I just couldn’t stand to look at the dust anymore. I expected to be done in 5 minutes, it took 35 minutes because it is a very large counter with much clutter…I understand why she doesn’t do it, although truth be told, I was very resentful today that we pay her…

As I was going on about my household business today, cleaning, wiping down, discarding the odds and ends that have no rhyme or reason to end up on the kitchen counter, I thought about my childhood. I am currently reading J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. I am not sure how I happened upon it but reading it has allowed me a glimpse into a world that I have seen portrayed in movies or sitcoms but have never really experienced to that personal a degree. My mother was not a good housekeeper. She made no apologies for that. My parents moved to “America” in 1963 with four kids and a brother in tow in order for us to have a “better life”. I was only 8, I never really knew at that point that my life was anything but idyllic. Moving to the States was a shock that I don’t think I have ever recovered from.

Although we were not dirt poor, my parents did have to resort to boarding people, working extra hours and using their credit cards creatively in order to attain a middle class existence. We did not have a maid; we did have chores that were expected to be done in exchange for an allowance. I don’t think I appreciated that at the time, it just suddenly dawned on me this morning that my mother’s expectation that household chores would be done was not unrealistic. I remember always doing my chores and having to often do my sister’s chores to avoid the screaming and fighting that would ensue and make me feel so anxious. I remember my mother’s words (“What do I have here? Four mortgages?”) when referring to us after she found that we had not done what was expected. I hated that feeling of being a burden, she made no effort to hide it. But what I realized today is that she was not wrong in her expectations, I have been wrong in my interpretation. I have been so wrapped up in being resentful that I did not give sufficient credit to her for being willing to pay for the chores to be done. She was not exploiting us, she was simply exchanging money for work, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My husband and I are retired now. Well, he is semi-retired but his work does not take him from home, he can do it from the comfort of our beautiful estate. He has always worked with his mind, physical labor has never been his thing. I do not fault him for that, he is generous and has never balked at paying for household or gardening help. He would rather pay for anything than have to do it himself. I knew this when I married him, I worked with him, I was familiar with the fact that here was a guy who could literally do nothing all day long but read and watch television. He is a very educated and intelligent person, he just doesn’t have ambitions or hobbies that venture into the realm of building furniture for example or learning to fix simple electrical or plumbing issues.

As I was gathering the clothes for the laundry and wiping down counters, I could see him in bed reading. I could feel myself getting annoyed because I felt oppressed while he is wonderfully relaxed. Then I dug deep into the real reasons for my resentment and can honestly say that my feelings have zero to do with him and 100 percent to do with me. I too could lie down and read my books, it is my choice not to do so.  In fact, aren’t I this minute spending time writing? Tomorrow is the cleaning lady’s day. She is not great at her job but she needs the money and frankly, does a better job than I do on the floors. I could speak to her about the counters and debris but I prefer to keep the status quo.

A lot of things are going on with me right now, I think it is best to accept that I have had a tremendous catharsis today regarding my mother and that is a really good thing. I am going now to clear off at least the love seat!

 

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This is my ranting blog!

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…and because it is, you can stop now if you just don’t feel like you
want to hear it!

When I was around 14 or 15, my mother decided to go back to school
and get her Master’s degree in Social Work, Family Therapy. Good for
her, I thought. How wonderful that she has that much ambition. I was
only in the 10th grade probably but I already knew I didn’t even want
to go past high school education. Back then, it was quite possible to
get a good paying job with a high school diploma and I couldn’t wait
to begin my “real” life.

Well, my mother was working and going to school at night which meant
that household duties fell to us children. My older sister’s constant refrain
of “I didn’t ask to be born” which meant “so I don’t have to do anything”
also meant that most of the household stuff fell to me because I was a
pacifist and the noise from constant yelling between her and my mother
just didn’t suit my style. So plug away I did and most of the time, I was
okay with it because frankly, I like order and I like quiet.

When it came time for my mother to begin preparing her thesis, she relied
on me to read and record the passages of the books she was assigned so she
could listen to them while doing something else…very efficient. It never
occurred to me until recently that this was its own form of child abuse. After
all, I had to use my “free” time to do her work. One of the books she/we read
was by Virginia Satir, a pioneer in the field of NeuroLinguistic Programming.
I so enjoyed reading the book, not to mention what I learned psychologically
about words, their uses, their meanings, etc., that I forgot to be mad at Mom
for cutting into my time. As a birthday present to me for my 18th, my mother
bought me my own copy of the book which I noticed again today. The inscription
always makes me sad and a bit guilty because I was not living at home at the
time of my 18th birthday, having opted to skip the chaos and turmoil at home
and travel to places abroad. An emergency at home brought me back almost a
year later, and to be honest I don’t remember when my mother presented the
book to me finally but I have always loved it and read it often to understand me
and the rest of the world.

But I began this blog saying it was a rant and I’ve gotten off course. My rant is
simply that I still feel put upon. My family, which now includes my siblings, my
nieces and nephew and my own children, still put unreasonable emotional demands
on me at times that I am powerless to ignore…I love them all dearly but sometimes
I wish I could fugue…

Thanks for listening…

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Household help!

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By anyone’s definition, my house is very big. Although it is only my
husband and me living here now, there was a time when our home
did not seem big enough for our family and the many guests we had
over the years when our children were young.

In my early childhood, my parents were able to afford household help
so that other than making my bed and the “teach-your-children-
responsibility phase” my mother was going through, my chores were
not very many. That all changed when we moved to New York and
household help was something that only the very wealthy could afford.
That was my introduction to the “real” world of hard physical labor
if one wanted a clean home.

Both my parents worked during my childhood so that each one of us
was expected to do our share. I remember waiting until the last minute
each day and then scrambling off the couch when I realized my mother
could be walking in any minute and would scold us for the fact that
nothing was done. I wouldn’t have minded the scolding except that my
mother’s scolding was actually more of a whine…the kind that is tinged
with just the appropriate amount of guilt-producing expressions that
are difficult to forget even years after the events have passed.

To give an example, my mom would say: “What have I got here? Four
mortgages?” and sigh deeply. Once, in my haste to clean up all the dishes
that had piled up during the day, I didn’t realize that one of the glasses
in the sink was broken until I felt the stab as I plunged my hand deeply
into it. I remember panicking more about the scolding than about the
blood that was profusely dripping into the sink or the stitches I should
have gotten at the hospital or clinic. Instead I made my sister promise
not to say anything to my parents and I hid my injury for however long
it took to heal (at least two weeks). I still have the scar.

The silver lining is that I never, ever again let dishes accumulate in the
sink. To this day, my sink is always ready for action. I am always washing
and putting away the dishes, whether they are mine or everyone else’s.
Peace of mind is very important to me.

But I was actually intending to write about household help. Like the
frustration I feel when I see that my cleaning lady (who has been with
me for 3 years) still doesn’t sweep behind things…unless I specifically
ask her…Just this morning, I noticed accumulated debris under the
pingpong table. I am not sure what the problem is, I have already said
that this is a big house, still it is not a big deal to just sweep it. And
having said that, I guess I will take myself, my broom and dustpan and
take care of it now!

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Where do the days go?

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bright day environment field

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I find it hard to believe that my last post on this blog is almost a month old.
Every day, I write at least in one of my blogs (I have five, not sure why except that I feel like every one of my passions needs its own space where I can express things about it). So I have a blog about dogs, a blog about optimism and gratitude, a blog about senior citizens, this blog which is mostly about weight and life issues and then a final one which is a collaborative effort with a few other friends who are also writers.

One of my frustrations has been not to be able (or willing) to take the time to get to my as yet unpublished (because it´s not finished) work of fiction.. Or should I say, works of fiction, since like blogging, I find that I have too many ideas for just one book. Anyway, right now I am working away on a mini iPad that I have not been very nice to…complaining always that it is too small, when in reality, all it takes is a little getting used to. I purchased it about two or three years ago, it was really reasonable. Then I bought a nice keyboard for it, and a case and it is actually working very nicely. So maybe the problem is me, and not it.

Not sure why I went off on a tangent like that except that I felt guitly about not writing in this blog for my faithful followers. I agree that blogging in each site every day is excessive, but once a month is really not cutting it either. Either we put the time in and honor our followers, or we simply go away.

I hope all this rambling hasn´t turned you off. In closing, I would just like to say that although I haven´t been writing here, I have been writing generally, reading also. My weight watchers journey is going strong although I admit that the weight loss is very slow because I don´t feel desperately about it. Of the 50 lbs. I would like to have lost by the end of this year, I have lost 26, so there we are.

July is here already!

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It’s the Fourth of July! Celebrations are going on in the U.S. but
where I live (in a tropical paradise), nothing seems to be going
on in quite the same scale as the celebrations of years past.

I feel a bit odd that one entire month (June) went by and I didn’t
post a single entry. It is not that I don’t write every single day,
because I do, it just hasn’t been the kind of writing that I feel
comfortable sharing. Not sure what that’s about.

My husband was away for almost the entire month of June. He
returned quite exhausted and seems to have caught a bug, maybe
on the airplane? I feel bad for him but in a way, perhaps it is best
to let him rest while I catch up on some of the writing that I have
put on the side so I could devote myself to doing the chores that
keep our household running and that he is usually responsible for.
A few more days won’t make any difference, the poor guy has a lot
of things on his mind.

So July! I have continued to have slow progress with my Weight
Watchers plan and I am confident that by the end of this year, I
will have lost most of the weight I have set myself a goal for. It
would be wonderful to begin 2019 (which feels like it is just around
the corner!) in some new clothes…

I have done some serious decluttering in June. I actually got rid of
a good amount of clothing and knickknacks that were not bringing
me any joy. It is amazing how light one feels after disposing of items
that no longer fit one’s life. I finally accepted that I was keeping things
for the wrong reasons. For example, a friend of mine gave my daughter
and me earrings that were crafted by her then-boyfriend, a man I know
and whose behavior has impressed me, but not in a good way. I never
wore the earrings because they were too long for my short neck and my
daughter never wore hers because they were not in a style she liked. But
I felt I needed to keep them because my friend might be hurt if I found
another home for them.

A few months after the earrings were given to us, my friend’s relationship
ended. The artist boyfriend began a new relationship and a year later, that
one also ended. Every morning, I saw the earrings. I moved them from one
side of the dresser to another.  I began to question why I still had them.
One serendipitous night as I was watching Youtube, I ended up catching a
video on Marie Kondo, the decluttering consultant…she has a very unique
way of approaching decluttering. You have to gather all the items you own
wherever you are working. You hold each item in your hand until they either
spark “joy” or not. If they still give you joy, that is your permission to keep
them; otherwise, it is best to find a new home for them.

I held each pair in my hands. Waited for the “joy” that never came. I made
two beautiful packages for these lovely items and then placed them with
other “treasures” I was giving away to the local Animal Shelter for their
fundraising campaign. It felt so good to send the earrings to a place that
I know will find someone they can bring joy to.

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Suicide Awareness…

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                       Communication is king

Avicii’s apparent suicide has left me profoundly sad. I remember that the first time I
heard the song “Wake Me Up”, I had a bit of trouble reconciling the upbeat music with
the sad and haunting lyrics.

I am more than twice his age. My thoughts about suicide have always been very clear.
Just don’t do it. But I have never been in a place so low that it would be a solution that
would occur to me. I have always been grateful for the faith in that “something out there”
that provides the strength I have had in the face of many obstacles and disappointments
that just being alive will bring.

May he rest in peace, finally in a place where nothing is painful. I cannot even begin to
imagine what it must be like for his family to know that this exceptional human being is
no longer available to chat with, to laugh with, to just hug and let him know that they
would help him find peace.

It is sad to know that so many of our talented people are simply not prepared for the fame
and fortune we foist on them with our superficial love. When I was a young girl, I longed
to be like the Supremes, singing my heart out to entertain people but also to feel that I
was somehow appreciated and that I “counted”. My parents never encouraged that side of
me, suggesting that I study for a career that would provide basic funds and then maybe a
little extra for affordable luxuries but certainly not the “Hollywood” glamour that I thought
I craved. My life has unfolded in such a way that I do enjoy a bit of popularity and fame in
my small town and I can attest to the fact that sometimes it is not pleasant to be out with my
husband or family for a nice quite family dinner and have several people interrupt our meal
because they would like to have a word. It’s exhausting. And I am not (1) that famous,
(2) that young or (3) that sensitive.

 

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Cauliflower pizza, anyone?

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A lovely head!

I did a terrible thing today: in anticipation of tomorrow being garbage
day, I decided to clean out my refrigerator! No, that’s not the terrible
thing I did! The terrible thing I did was to throw out almost an entire
week’s worth of vegetables that my husband and I purchased at the
farmers market just last week.

I don’t know what comes over the two of us when we visit the place. It’s
like all those colorful vegetables are shouting to us that they want to come
home…and that they will be cooked…only to end up in the compost bucket
time after time.

In the last few months, since I’ve been watching what I eat, I have become
a bit more interested in trying out new recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I used
to love cooking, especially when my children were young and I was a full-
time (and happy) stay-at-home, home-school Mom. But then the kids grew
up and moved away and now it’s hubby and me and we spend a lot of time at
home (semi-retired) and I have embraced this “new life”.

My husband enjoys cooking and so for the last few years, he’s been more or
less responsible for the meals we have for dinner. Of course, he also enjoys
eating and snacking and has a penchant for things like pepperoni, potato chips,
chocolate…thus, we have both gained a fair amount of weight in those same few
years.  I know no one was forcing me to have the extra calories; I am human too
and although I don’t indulge in pepperoni or chips (no sacrifice really, it’s not my
thing!), almonds, chocolate and cake are definitely on my list of favorites.

Since I joined Weight Watchers in December, though, I have definitely been off
most of those goodies. Not that WW “forbids” anything, I just feel that if I am
dieting, it should feel a like a diet. I am one of those people who feels a need to
have “rules” that I will feel disappointed about breaking. I know, I know, but
there you have it.

Last week when we were at the farmers market, there was an enormous cauli-
flower for sale. It was sold by unit and my husband found a much smaller one
that he preferred but he deferred to me since I had visions of making a pizza
with a cauliflower crust. I don’t know what possessed me to think I was going
to actually tackle that project; to begin with, it involved getting out and dusting
the food processor and making cauliflower rice! It never happened and today
when I found myself tossing the entire head, I was overcome with pangs of guilt.
If we had purchased the smaller head, it would have been a nice side dish for one
of our few dinners at home this week. I told my husband that from now on he
must not humor me when I lose my head momentarily like that!

 

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