Category Archives: Nutrition and Diet

Lasting Impressions

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I was probably in my early 20’s when I finally realized the connection between calories and weight. It happened one lunch hour. I was standing at the Take-Out counter of a diner waiting for my order behind a woman, perhaps a few years older than I, who was dressed to perfection. Her dress was form fitting, but not vulgar. She was stunning and more importantly, she didn’t seem to notice she was! I don’t think I have ever been as happy to be waiting for my food as I was that day. I had no place to run and discreetly taking notice of her style didn’t cause anyone any harm. If iPhones had been around, I might have taken a picture! I could not see what she ordered, but I know it was not a plain salad! That’s when I began to really, really think about calories, exercise and weight. I wondered if she was one of those lucky people who was “naturally” thin but I know that those people are usually very aware of how much fuel they need to keep their bodies in perfect condition.

It was 1975. I had lost a lot of weight quickly which I promised myself I would not gain back. I always had been chubby prior to that and although a lot of people teased about thyroid problems being the cause of my bulk, I knew it was a combination of eating too much and not moving enough. Still, I managed to lose weight (slowly usually) so I never blamed my thyroid. After the weight loss, I restricted my meals and although I love the taste of food, I loved being able to buy ready-to-wear clothing more, that was my incentive to keep my figure.

My weight fluctuated 5 lbs. either way for decades. When I was pregnant with each of my two children, I was very careful about what went into my body (more for safe births than vanity) and after their birth, I quickly rejoined WW and went back to my normal weight. I don’t really know when I began the slow but steady loss of discipline that has resulted in this chubby senior citizen! Perhaps living in a country that doesn’t have the same prejudice has encouraged this laxity, perhaps just getting older and knowing no one would dare criticize me now. It would be elderly abuse! I cannot say.

Yesterday, I was waiting in line at the Post Office behind a man in his 30’s. He was average weight, build and height. Nothing special about him except his clothes. His shirt was crisp, the pleats of his trousers were neatly pressed, his leather belt was fashionable and his shoes were comfortable and shiny. It reminded me of the young woman I saw more than 40 years ago. For some reason, looking at him and remembering her has prompted me to get back to work on cooking and eating healthfully. I know it’s calories in and calories out. It is not easy, it never has been easy, but it is doable and ready-to-wear clothing has never been more beautiful.

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A Lovely Surprise!

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A friend I had not seen for more than two years came to visit me yesterday. The first thing he said to me was that I looked great, had I had lost a lot of weight? This made me smile because in the two or three years that we had not seen each other, I had lost 25 lbs. and gained back 10…so the net loss of 15 lbs. (he said) was very noticeable to him. I was grateful for his lovely words and we had a great afternoon of conversation and food. I did my very best to stay on program, eating just enough to be full and drinking (wine) just enough to be happy but not loopy!

Today I head into the “city” (of San José, CR) to visit my Dad and spend a little quality time with him and my son who returns to chilly New York in a couple of days. I hope to be home early enough to enjoy the rest of my Sunday in quiet solitude, though that is not always possible given the many obligations I have taken on (pet, plants, household). At least I will have the company of my husband to enjoy.

 

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What Are We Bringing To The Table?

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Here we are past the midway point of the first month of 2020! I am sure I am not the only one who has become very aware that time just gets away from us whether we are using it wisely or wasting it. My resolve and determination to follow my WW plan (Go Purple!) has been taking some effort because there is always a friend dropping by with goodies, children visiting who request that I make them favorite (non-dietetic) foods or community meetings that come with coffee and dessert. What to do? I try to simply do my best every day and remember when I get on the scale that the number is guide, just something to remind me that I have come this far and that with steadfastness and attention I can become as inspiring and the many WW people who have lost and kept off their hundreds of pounds.

When I was a young girl, other people’s obsession with my weight always entertained me. I didn’t really understand why they were so focused on me when their own lives, whether they were thin or fat, did not have anything to do with my weight. It wasn’t like they were purchasing my food or my clothes, or feeling the discomfort that I had when the tight(er) pants began making marks on my body or when my feet were just so tired from walking with the extra weight.

I eventually became an adult, got my weight under control and kept it that way for a very long time. The fact that now, as a full-fledged senior citizen, the excess weight seems like a permanent thing in my life, the only thing I want is to be healthy and live a long long time. I think my best solution is to relax, accept that the number (for now) will remain a little higher than I like but that I can and will finally reach a point where three sizes in my closet is a thing of the past. For today, I will track and plan the meals I will eat and go about the rest of my day with a positive attitude and an optimistic viewpoint.

Imagine a world where our size is no longer an interesting part of our personality? I do and try my very best to bring other things to the tables I frequent.

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Bye 2019, Welcome 2020!

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I’ve been involved with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) since about 1970 when my mother took me to a meeting because she wanted to lose weight and didn’t want to go alone. Don’t get me wrong, I needed to lose weight too but I didn’t really feel like going on a “diet” again. I was 15 years old, about 20 lbs. overweight (though I was made to feel like I was 200 lbs. overweight!). I didn’t have the wherewithal to refuse her.

My father, always slim and never one to comment on anyone’s physical appearance, used to drive us to the church that had the basement where the meetings were held. I suppose this readied me for the many (future) years of sitting in 12-step meetings and town-hall community gatherings. I learned a lot about nutrition at those meetings and I was very inspired by our leader, a tall, funny many who had lost over 100 lbs. My favorite of all his “pep rallies” where the ones where he told us the Jean Nidetch (co-founder of WW) story. I think I might have at some point been present at some event where Ms. Nidetch spoke but I cannot say if this is true or just some fantasy of mine.

I, like millions of other people, have gained and lost hundreds of pounds in my life. Today, I am getting ready to close out 2019, not as heavy as I was at the end of 2017 but heavier than I thought I would be at this time. I am disappointed but I do not feel like throwing in the towel. I just watched an old clip of Ms. Nidetch accepting the Horatio Alger award in 1989. I am newly inspired by her words and will pretend that I am going to be a Horatio Alger award recipient in the future and need to lose weight for the occasion. Everything and nothing works, this too, I know.

So as we start the new year 2020, let us begin with optimism, accompanied by all the tools that are available for us to have success. Ms Nidetch’s story is certainly worth reading about.

Best wishes, may all your projects come to fruition in the new year.

Picture of book my own

Enter December!

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I’ve been on the WW plan for almost two years now. I have lost almost 20 lbs. which is better than gaining but certainly nowhere I thought I would be two years later. It is not the plan, it is definitely me! But today is a new day and WW is nothing if not supportive. It does not matter that it is a business and wouldn’t survive if we were all successful but I cannot worry about other people’s weight journey, I can only “control” to a certain degree what goes into my body and what movements I do to use the calories. As I have always thought, the reason why I am not extreme in dieting is because my weight (matronly but still somewhat shapely) does not stop me from doing things. I am outgoing, simply move into a larger size when things start to get tight, etc. but when I see pictures of me, they do not look like what I see in the mirror or the image I have of myself in my head.

I live in the tropics but my children live on the East Coast of the US where it is cold and snowy. I have been looking up recipes to try with my diet and all of them are calling for “cozy foods” that will warm us up…hey, we have overweight people in the tropics too, no recipes for us?

The month of November was given over to NaNoWriMo. I do write quite a bit anyway but November is specifically designed to just write, write, write. I did not make the 50K mark but I did make it to 40K and that was a very great milestone. Not only that, I did begin the memoir that I want to leave my children. Writing it now and letting them read it allows them to ask any questions while I am still able to remember stuff.

Heck of a ride I am in for as I continue all the end-of-year projects. I hope the days go slower than the year has gone.

 

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Size is just a number

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What size I wear is really not of any interest to anyone and yet I allow myself to be so judgmental of myself when I try on an outfit I think I can squeeze into and find that I can´t.

I once had a boyfriend who I loved very much. One day we were talking about this and that and the fantasy of a life together came up. We joked about getting older and I remember saying that I would absolutely balk if he ever became fat. He was shocked by that statement, my only excuse today is that I had worked so hard to have a lovely figure that the very idea of losing it was a very scary prospect. We eventually broke up, the timing was just not right for us.

We met up several years later. By that time both of us had married and divorced and I had put on a few pounds. He teased me gently and reminded me that the person he fell in love with was still the same, that it didn´t matter to him … instead of graciously and lovingly accepting his comment, I vowed to take off the weight…and I did. The timing again wasn´t right for us, indeed, it never would have worked out

I married a wonderful person, had a family and have an successful marriage. Somewhere along the line, both us of became complacent married folk and have gained a lot of weight during our 30 year marriage. I am tonight spending time at my dad´s house and as I do every time I am here, I look into my deceased mother´s closet just to familiarize myself with the clothes she left behind and try to make some decisions. Although our tastes were different, there are a couple of items that are nice and others that bring her immediately back to me. Tonight I tried on a couple of things (sizes 16, 18, 20)…too tight, okay, too big..I am horrified I am this fat, shocked I let myself go like this. And mind you, I am 20 lbs. lighter than I was at this time 2 years ago. It is hard to get my mind around it, I am trying to focus on the weight loss and I know I can still lose the 25 lbs. that would make me fit into a more acceptable 12-14. But my body has taken on an unusual shape…gravity and excess weight are not a good combination!

For today, I skipped the wine, the chocolates and the cookies. Tomorrow is another day, I started this blog feeling a bit down but expunging my feelings has allowed me to get a grip, it´s not the end of the world and nobody cares what size I wear!

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Just for today

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It has been quite a month so far. My brother and his wife visited our sleepy town
in search of art and they found it. Afterwards they purchased some rather pricey
but original items which they took back home with them. I am always amazed with
the enthusiasm visitors show when they roam our town, I guess I have lived here and
enjoyed it for so long that I am a bit indifferent! It is a shame and getting back that
enthusiasm is something I am longing to do.

Last weekend I had a severe stomach flu. Although I think it might actually have been
food poisoning, I think I will stick with stomach flu because it has been going around
our parts for a while. It was just terrible. I found myself unable to keep anything down
and spent a good part of my weekend just trying to keep myself hydrated. I was very
hungry. The upside, however, was that I lost almost 2 lbs. I know that it was mostly water
but the numbers on the scale made me smile. After getting over the flu, I decided to
continue to watch what I ate and have not gained back the 2 lbs. Hopefully this weekend’s
“normal” eating will at least allow me to maintain my current weight.

I am still somewhat away from my goal weight. Although a 20 lbs. loss for the year was my
goal, at this point I confess I am happy that I will end the year most likely 5 lbs. lighter than
when it began. During the year, I have gained and lost about 10 lbs. It is just so hard, especially
since it (weight loss) is a subject that is hard to talk about without boring everyone. Some
people are just naturally thin, I know, but when I see what “naturally thin” people eat, there
is really nothing “natural” about it. They eat very little and only “the right stuff”…you don’t
see them going in for endless snacks, and if they do, it is usually fruit or veggies. Those of us
who put on weight just thinking about cookies, love to eat those cookies not just think about
them. In addition, we are drawn to starches, sweets and fats. It is a never-ending battle. Just
for the weekend, I would like to eat modestly, go to bed somewhat hungry and burn my energy
partaking of activities that I enjoy and will allow me to burn some calories. So far today, I am
on track!

 

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A never ending challenge

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I put on a pair of pants this morning that felt a bit snugger than they did three weeks ago
when I put them on in New York. I don’t need to hop on a scale to confirm what the last
few days of not going hungry have done for my figure! But today is another day, and I know
that taking of a couple of pounds is not an impossible feat regardless of how hectic the
agenda.

It is a constant “struggle” this weight thing. I cannot say I feel depressed or angry, just
disappointed that my metabolism requires so little food for functioning. I resent the fact
that my mom was so concerned with my body that she forced me into a dieting for weight
loss at the tender age of 10, messing with my metabolism for a lifetime. She knew better,
she was a highly educated person. She could not bear the guilt that my physical, tangible
bulk represented for her: my need for (her) attention, attention she either could not or
would not give. Decades later, I find myself with the issue of weight or food on my mind
all the time. Sometimes it bothers me, other times I just accept it as a matter of fact.

Yesterday, I went to a fundraising event at a nearby rural community. Most of the women
(and a good amount of the men too!) present were overweight. The women did not take
any pains to hide their muffin tops, unabashedly and unapologetically wearing camisoles
that left nothing to the imagination. The men wore t-shirts with letters that stretched across
their midriff and made me smile. In my mind, I remembered my late mother-in-law’s comments
when she saw such personal fashion expressions: “Don’t they have a mirror?”

I also wear camisoles…but they serve as my cheaper spanx version and remind me all day that
I still need to lose weight. I cannot even conceive of wearing a camisole without something over
it to cover up those unsightly bulges. I try to be non-judgmental to myself and remind myself
often that even when I was thin (for 25 years of my life!), I was never comfortable with exposing
any cleavage or wearing form-fitting camisoles on their own.

Today I go to lunch with a couple of elderly (thin) friends. They (actually no one) have never,
ever made any comments about my weight fluctuations (which I try to keep within 25 lbs.). I am
certain they couldn’t care less, if they notice at all. Naturally thin people rarely spend time in this
way! I will approach lunch with a calorie-focus. I will probably skip the cocktail (but I won’t promise),
and opt for some kind of salad. Or maybe I will take my cue from whatever they decide to eat. They
are also enviably tall, something that is also not in my favor as I don’t even reach 5 foot.

It is a fascinating struggle. One that should not ever have been my struggle if my mom had just let
chubby me be. Eventually, I did learn good eating habits, and did my best to move my body gently
and learned to enjoy myself. It is now, in middle age, when I want to write (sedentarily) that I feel a
few less pounds would allow me to sit or stand comfortably for longer…for today, I will remember
that one meal at a time is the only way I need to focus on getting to the point where the pants I am
wearing today will fit comfortably again. I can do that for today.

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Self-Esteem is an Issue

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I just spent a good 30 minutes reading all about Karen Carpenter. What did I come away with? That her issues were caused by a strong desire to get the attention of her dismissive mother. How sad, the mother had ample physical evidence and yet chose to be blind as her daughter lost pound after pound. It is heartbreaking and even more disturbing is the fact that even today, despite all we know, there are many many mothers (and fathers) making mistakes that could easily be corrected. Sometimes I wonder what gets into people’s minds when they decide to have children. Then I stop myself and remember that everyone has their own path to follow and it is not my place to be a judge.

Karen Carpenter was beautiful, talented and had no idea of her value. Self-esteem is nurtured in childhood. By her brother’s own account, no one was paying too much attention as Karen dwindled into a waif and then disappeared. I wonder at her perseverance. Having always had a weight problem (but not a body image one, since I accept what I look like!), I know how difficult it is to lose weight. Although I learned early on (from WW) all about sound nutrition for safe and slow weight loss, I can admit to crash dieting, starving and a very minute foray into bulimia. I was too scared to make a habit out of laxatives or vomiting because my desire to live (fat or thin) trumped everything. I thank my lucky stars that this is my way because fat and thin – well, normal weight – I have lived a very good life. It seems like it would be an easy thing to do, boost one’s child self-esteem by just telling the child he/she is loved for just breathing, but it would appear that many people who have children just repeat the same patterns they were brought up in even though in their deepest recesses they can accept these were not healthy. I sincerely hope that all the literature that abounds will one day reach the ears, eyes, and minds of all the people who find it imperative to continue to bring infants into the world.

I am not by nature a fan of dystopia but I can see the downward spiral we are succumbing to. I hope we can stop before it is too late.

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Another Approach to Weight Management

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I absolutely hate anything that promises to be “boot camp”.  I got invited to watch a webinar that was going to tell me all about the mysteries of weight loss or resistance to weight loss…what did I come away with? Not anything I didn’t know already although I did get a good explanation about dopamine and leptin! In any event, I am glad I reserved my space…and actually listened to the entire hour…and waited for the (sales) pitch…

While I was listening to the wonderfully sincere webinar “guru’s” pitch and story …I was mentally wondering how much I would be willing to pay (I am already doing WW at about $23/month). I watch my pennies, $23/month works to $276 with no added expense (unless I want to) for special food, equipment etc. What I want to do is live the rest of my days within a good weight for me…which I once was and was able to maintain for 25 years. I get annoyed that I allowed the weight back on…when the final price came at a price of more than $5000 for a private coach and the group price a bargain at $497 I felt like someone slapped me!

Wow, I am thankful, so thankful today. I know what to do, I need to do it and pay for the rest of this year until I reach my goal and then apply discipline, planning, prepping and NEVER EVER skipping breakfast but also not being silly enough to spend money like this. I am looking forward to getting a gorgeous headboard for my bedroom, many many high quality wooden bookcases and beautiful, colorful clothes to go with my lively personality. My hundreds of dollars can be spent in so many other ways. I hardly will have time to feel deprived, have cravings, etc.

I came away with the same answers I have always had, calories in and calories out, movement, a positive attitude and a lot of common sense. Although I can understand the wisdom of this particular program, I can also see how most people will still not be able to conquer it. Meanwhile, someone else is going on vacation, having a beautiful life on our hard-earned dollars.

What a shame…

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