Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Report Card

I have to give myself a failing grade...yet again. No big surprise there, albeit some disappointment. I'm only a tad disappointed though because despite eating more than I had planned to, it was an enjoyable good time. So I'm not going to beat myself up about it, anymore that is, because I did do a little soul searching as to the whys of my over indulgence. Why I over-ate, for instance, despite my good intentions and a plan to curb my enthusiasm for all things food on this day of national thanks. What I came up with was the clear culprit, a Bombay Saffire Gin martini. I was not expecting my brother to have any of this potent potable available so I did not even consider it in my plans. Well when he announced that he did have a bottle, everything went out the window, because, after all, I could not pass on such an opportunity to indulge in this fine gin that I have held in such high esteem all these years.

The reality is that this nor my other all time favorite, Tanqueray Gin, really don't taste good to me anymore. There's a couple of reasons for that. One is just the fact that I've crossed over that chasm that separates the young from the senior citizen. Time marches on inexorably, and, if we're lucky, we get old. I believe that this has a lot to do with my lost ability to enjoy one of these juniper berry flavored libations that I have cherished for so long and always looked forward to having before a sumptuous dinner, because one of my good friends who also felt the same way about these two gins, cannot drink them at all. That tells me it's not just me that they don't taste good to, and even though he's a few years younger than me he's still getting "up there" as they say. The other thing I can pinpoint this loss of appreciation to was an incident that took place about ten years ago.  This same friend had me over for dinner and when we went into the liquor cabinet to fetch the 1.75 liter of Tanqueray Gin that he always kept on hand, there was only a smidgen left in the bottle. So we jumped in the car and went around the corner to the local liquor store to replenish. While on the way I asked him if he had ever tried the latest (at the time) super-premium offering from Tanqueray, which was "Tanqueray 10".  He said he had not and came back out with a 750ml bottle. What a guy! His guest's wish is his command, even at 30 bucks a bottle! He was and still is, I might add, the "host with the most". Well, accommodating as that may have been, it turned out to be a huge mistake at least for me. I was ten years younger, but even then I did not have the capacity to hold liquor like I did till I was well into my forties. The new offering was packed with flavor and intoxicating fragrance, not to mention the 94.6 proof potency of it. I let my exuberance get the best of me and knocked back a couple of generous martinis made with this glorious gin that made you smack your lips with delight. I was feeling the effects because I had lost my capacity to withstand the alcohol due to lack of practice and my age, but nonetheless thought I was OK. Then we sat down to a dinner of beautiful Porterhouse steaks cooked on the Weber grill. Of course, how is one to savor the king of steaks without the king of red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon? My friend and most gracious host did not disappoint by serving a deep purple-hued, full-bodied, robust selection of this noble wine, to which I could not refuse, even though I knew in my heart of hearts that I was pushing my luck. My luck did run out, as it were, because about midway through dinner the noble red on top of the two ample martinis proved to be too much. I had to excuse myself to go to the restroom, and rest is what I did after having to disgorge myself of the food and drink I had feasted on here-to-fore because of my over consumption of adult beverages. The next thing I remembered was my friend knocking on the bathroom door when I found myself asleep on the tiled bathroom floor. I was embarrassed but did not care because I was still not able to return to the table in any kind of presentable shape. I eventually came out feeling much better after having slept off the residual effects of the alcohol, but from that day forward a "Tang" or Bombay martini has never really tasted good to me again, try as I might to right the ship. It's a case of Paradise lost and there's no getting it back, ever. Believe me I've tried and tried, because I've been in denial ever since, all to no avail. They just taste like poison to me now, but the denial still persists. That's why I agreed to have one before dinner Thanksgiving Day. Alas, the result was the same, it tasted like gasoline. It also hit me like a lit match on gasoline because I have even less resistance to the effects of alcohol now than I did ten years ago when I was the hit of that ill-fated dinner party. Since it felt like I had ignited a runaway fire half way through the drink, I started loading up on the appetizers to tamp the fire that was stating to rage inside me. They did the trick, but now I was pretty full and the turkey was being carved. I did what was expected of me and ignored my diminished capacity and proceeded to load my plate, but with some restraint I might add. Still there was so much to "try" that my plate ended up, as always, with too much food.

I did my duty as best I could and finished most of what I put on my plate, and with the same result, that unique, oppressive, painfully stuffed feeling that occurs only at this time of year. I had good intentions and a plan to use considerable restraint so as not to create too great an obligation for myself that would force me to overeat. It all went out the window though when I opted to live in denial once again and have that accursed martini. Now instead of feeding my appetite, I had to feed the booze to sober up and that caused me to eat way too much. All I can say is I hope I'll be the wiser when faced with a similar choice in the future and make the right decision. Only time will tell.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Day is Upon Us

Yes it's hear once again, already! Thanksgiving Day, the first of the big holiday season days of feasts. The day we all look forward to when we've finally accepted the fact that summer is gone and fall is really here. It's a nice holiday, despite the portrayal of it by television shows and movies, a time when family comes together to enjoy the fruits of their labors throughout the year. At least that's how it got started anyway with the pilgrims. In these plentiful times, the big economic chill notwithstanding, the basic idea still remains the same. So what better way to celebrate than with a big sumptuous feast on this day that has been set aside for a national day of giving thanks?

With the big feast just a few days away, what are the paradigms in your mind? Maybe you view it as a day when you can eat with reckless abandon. After all, what's all that food for anyway, right? It's expected of you to relinquish any reservations you might have about overeating and just let er rip. I mean what the heck, everyone else brought to the table their intentions of really giving it their best shot, why not you too? It's the national day of overeating, well maybe not officially, but unofficially anyhow. So who are you to question that and buck the trend? Well if you are at all concerned about a weight problem, maybe you should be questioning what your position on what it should be, for you at least. By that I mean how you are going to approach it? Are you going to load your plate up with every entree that's been prepared? It's only good manners, and we certainly don't want to offend the host by not eating everything that's been put out for us. I know that's the way I've done it for almost all of my Thanksgiving Day feasts. I want to "sample" everything, and by time I get about half way through the offerings available for dolloping on my plate, there's no room left on my plate! Sound familiar? The irony is I know damn well there's no way in hell that I'm going to be able to finish all that, but I keep on loading my plate anyway to where I build a second tier. Now I have to be careful what I'm loading on top of. You don't want to have mashed potatoes on top of your cranberries or vice-versa! Maybe on top of the sweet potatoes would work better. I've been doing that all my life and, try as I might, can never finish what I've taken. I must have a very short term memory because I keep doing it year after year. Although I will say that as I have gotten older I have gotten my sampling of each dish down to where it is inline with what a sample really should be. No matter, I still can't finish what I put on my plate because there's so many different things to "pick" from, and my appetite is not "major league" anymore either. I definitely am not in good standing with the "Clean Your Plate Club" after the Thanksgiving Day feed-bag! Even though I don't clean my plate I'm still left in a glazed-over stupor of an oppressive and painful fullness. I am a glutton not only for food but for punishment, albeit self-inflicted. At this point in the proceedings I have not even had dessert yet, but, Oh God, do I ever want it! So now my thoughts shift to how long I'll have to wait before my digestive system will have made enough room so I can indulge in a piece of each of those glorious holiday pies that have been calling out to me from the moment I laid my eyes upon them like the sirens calling Ulysses. Like Ulysses, if I go there my ship will be smashed upon the rocks. I don't care. I want them anyway, and at the first inkling of some open space in my abdominal cavity I will be trying my luck with those seductive temptresses of sweetness. I will be loading a smaller plate this time, but with the same mindless abandon and, alas, with the same doomed result. Damn the limited capacity!

If any of this has a ring of familiarity to it, I am not surprised. We all share this common experience, that is those of us fortunate enough to have this bountifulness to partake of. I guess there's an inevitability to it when this much food is put in front of us. The point I'm trying to suggest here is that we need to minimize the damages as much as we can. One way to do that is to scale back our ambitious appetites and just be realistic. Yes were expected to really hit it out of the park on this day, but is that what we really need? Remember that those pounds just keep adding up over our lives if we are not vigilant about how much food we consume even on guilt free days of gluttony like this most revered national holiday of Thanksgiving. Maybe the emphasis should be more on the giving of thanks to our creator than the orgiastic eating ritual that this day has come to symbolize. If we can pause and do that we might be able to gain a greater perspective on why we eat the way we do. I hope this will help get the mental image of how you are going to eat on this day of thanks in check with what you are trying to accomplish in terms of where you want to be with your ideal body weight. Don't get sidetracked by these short term exceptions; it will only set you back!
 Have a restrained, but happy, Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ooops!! I Did It Again!

Even though I preach about not letting your eyes get too big for your stomach and lowering your expectations
it is still very hard to keep my eating ambitions in check. What I did again was over estimate my capacity when making some pancakes for myself this morning. As I sit here writing this, my stomach feels like I swallowed a basketball. It must just be the mystique of eating a "stack" of pancakes that has become an ingrained program in not only my mind, but, and I think it's safe to say, the minds of most people. It's like it's just something you do when you put on the pancake feed-bag...load up, right? What else could it be? There I am dolloping the mix onto the grill and, all the while, in my heart-of-hearts know I am putting too much on the grill. Ahrg! No matter. I can eat them, and I'll be alright. I won't be too full. Ah, the little mind games we play with ourselves when it comes time to deciding how much we are going to "get" to eat. We delude ourselves into thinking we need this, and, of course, there will be no harm done. Other than the feeling of being oppressively full which is probably the least of the harm, but what about the way stuffing oneself pushes the abdomen out ever further? This is how we get a big "gut", by repeatedly extending the demarcation line ever farther. I'm reminded of that Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs Bunny draws a line in the sand and dares Yosemite Sam to step over it, which the ornery and fearless Yosemite doesn't hesitate to do and at which point Bugs just draws another, and another line that Sam steps over with alacrity each and every time, ad infinitum, till they are drawing and stepping off into the sunset.

Isn't that the way it is for all of us? We have both those cartoon characters in us because we really do know where the line is, but we always error on the side of excess and step over that imaginary but, nonetheless, very real line in our minds. Then, once we do take that step, the other programming kicks in. Anyone know what that is? I'll give you a hint...Mom's clean your plate club. One of the most powerful and lasting pieces of programming ever devised, and by none other than our well-meaning mothers. When that food is on our plates we become duty bound to finish it, even if it means stuffing it down our throats till our eyes bulge out, and bulge they do! So I don't know about you, but I'm going to try and hang on to the image of that little ballet/duel between Yosemite and Bugs, in the hope that the next time "I'ma dollopin", it will give me pause, and I'll do the right thing and NOT step over that line again.
Ooops!!   I Did It Again!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weight Loss Tales from the Front

Yesterday I stopped at an Italian Beef and Sausage stand type restaurant with a friend and co-worker who had never been to the place.These types of places are a hallmark of the Chicago area because of the strong Italian population throughout, and they have taken the beef & sausage there to an almost mythical status.Understandably enough you will only find these stands in metropolitan areas with a large Italian population.The appeal though is a far broader base than just with people of Italian descent, kind of like the appeal of pizza only not as big. This particular stand, actually it is more on the order of a restaurant than just a little shack-stand because it is in a nice new building that the owner had built, has nice tables and chairs so you don't have to eat your sandwich on the hood of your car. As is the trend in the restaurant trade over the past couple of decades this particular place gives you a huge portion whenever possible. The beef sandwich is monumentile; there has to be close to a pound of beef in there, which is superb, by the way, because they cook the beef rounds and slice them on premise themselves. That is the key to having the best beef, cooking it yourself. That is quite labor intensive though and requires some cooking space that the shack-stands don't just have, so they buy their beef from mass producer/suppliers and is never as good, but nonetheless still good enough. I ordered the sausage sandwich because they can't make a sausage that big, and besides I really love Italian sausage charbroiled to perfection and served on Italian bread and dipped in the beef au jus to where the sandwich is drenched. Throw some hot giardinara on it, and I'm in Heaven, baby. I would not have been able to finish the beef, and I did not want to schlepp the left overs around with me because we were making sales calls at car dealers in the area, and it just would have gotten in the way in his car. The sausage is always my first choice anyway; especially if I haven't had one in awhile.

So why am I telling you about this anyway? Well, as usual, when I go to one of these huge-portion places there is always a gaggle of overweight to morbidly obese individuals there, that's why. This time was no disappointment either.These people always know where the major feed-bag places are. Where they can get the biggest bang for their food dollar. This is a must because they have the burden of having to satisfy their prodigious appetites that just seem to grow larger with each passing year not to mention the girth of their outsized bodies. What a cross to bear through life! Right at the table next to us and right in my line of sight there were two huge fellows. They looked like firefighters or something of that nature because they had the dark blue tee shirts on that you see firefighters wearing (ah yes, it was tee shirt weather yesterday this mid November in the greater Chicagoland area, although I think these guys could wear them well into the cold weather and not notice the chill). I don't know how somebody that large could be a fireman though, as the business of extinguishing fires is a pretty strenuous one to say the least and you have to be physically fit, something these guys probably have never been in their entire lives. They were big-boned guys, not particularly tall as I could surmise because they never stood up the whole time we were there, and they were eating the whole time. They were eating when we sat down and still eating when we got up to leave. It's almost like a job feeding yourself when you are that large; it takes a lot of time to "fill er up". There were other similar looking fellas in blue tee shirts there also who were quite large themselves, but younger and who had not reached the gargantuan stage yet but who are clearly on their way if they keep eating at an ever growing pace. These guy are just resigned to their fate. They must just figure this is the way it is and there's not a damn thing they can do about it, so they may as well do what they love best which is eat and eat and eat to their little fat-laden heart's content. What a job for those little pea-pickin hearts to have to supply all the blood necessary to maintain that enormous girth!

The problem here, as I see it anyway, is RESIGNATION pure and simple. If you are resigned to something is it ever going to change? If you are reading this then you are probably concerned about your weight and would like to do something about it. So maybe you're not  resigned to it, that is yet anyway. If that's the case, then three cheers for you because that is the first step, a desire to change. Change you can, because there is a damn thing you can do about it, and it starts by reducing your overall intake of food on a daily basis. That alone will start to make a difference, and if you can couple that with smart food choices and an ever decreasing intake you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. It just takes a little determination and the discipline to stick with it; if you can muster that up, you can get off that road to more and more excess pound accumulation. So, how bad do you want it, anyway?

Stop Suffing Yourself!!! click here....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Twinkie Diet

Well, the news is all a twitter today about a subject that dovetails perfectly with my previous post about ampm and the food supplied by  convenience-stores in general. If you haven't as yet heard about it, it is the already infamous "Twinkie diet" that a human nutrition professor from Kansas State University went on for 10 weeks to see if pure calorie counting is what matters most regardless of the nutritional value of the food. Turns out his premise held up, on his "convenience-store diet" he dropped 27 lbs in just two months! For this project the good professor limited himself to just 1800 calories/day eating one of those darling little sugar-packed snacks every three hours instead of meals. To avoid the humdrum of eating the same thing over and over he allowed himself to eat Little Debbie cakes, Oreos, sugary cereal and, not to be left-out, that all time snack food favorite, Doritos. To be sure to not totally disregard some semblance of good eating habits he also took a multivitamin daily along with a protein shake, and to eat his veggies he would either eat a can of green beans (yuk) or about four celery stalks.

The key here is that he cut his calorie intake from about 2600/day to the aforementioned 1800/day, which was following a basic tenet of weight loss and that is to consume less calories than you burn. So he went from 201 pounds down to a slim and trim 174 lbs. His weight is not the only thing that went down. An unexpected result of this experiment was the drop in his bad cholesterol (LDL) by 20%, and an increase in his good cholesterol (HDL) by the like amount of 20%. He also reduced his triglycerides ( that's what your liver turns fat into ) by 39%! Pretty impressive, eh?

Well you'd better think again, impressive results aside, if you are a junk-food junky, and you think this is a validation of your misguided ways, and you can now at last  have your cake and eat it too. This eating regimen may provide the kind of short term results you are looking for to loose weight, but do you really think this is a healthy diet, long term or short term for that matter? I remember hearing a guy on the radio ( I hear a lot of things on the radio in case you noticed ) relating how the carbohydrate diets that were all the buzz, I believe back in the eighties, had wrecked his health. He became diabetic along with a whole host of other nutrition related maladies. He finally woke up, smelled the coffee and began eating well balanced nutritional meals again and reversed his diabetes and rid himself of the other bad effects that were the result of the high carb diet. What are we talking about here with this Twinkie Diet? High carbs, right? It is my considered opinion that this Twinkie Diet is an insane approach to weight loss, not to mention one that would drive a person absolutely bonkers if they were to undertake such a mind numbing food regimen.

So my pronouncement is that the so called "Twinkie Diet" is a DOUBLE-DUMB FOOD CHOICE and not to be tried at home or anywhere else for that matter!

See Tips # 2
and #4

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ampm rant

You're probably wondering what the ampm in the title is referring to. Well ampm is the name of the convenience-store chain that was formerly BP Connect which was the name of the convenience stores associated with British Petroleum's gas stations. In 2008 they rebranded the convenience stores to ampm. They are in a dozen or so states in the U.S.and also in Japan and Mexico. After having apprised you of that you might be wondering "OK what does that have to do with this weightloss blog?". Well it has to do with the commercials they've been running here in the states for the last couple of years now. They are really insipid little wonders of marketing and what they promote, using the voice of some guy who I swear sounds like Joe "Willie" Namath, the former great quarterback of the then AFL New York Jets football team that was the first team to beat the NFL in the super bowl of 1968, is the fact that they have, now get this, "more stuff". Yep that's it, just more stuff; that's their claim to fame. To prove that they have "more stuff" they show these shots of a guy loading up on "more stuff" in a brand-spanking shiny new store. When this hapless mope get to the checkout counter he suddenly remembers that he needs, you guessed it, "more stuff" just as the checkout person finishes ringing him up and is expecting the money. So what does he do? Right again, bucko, leaves the checkout counter to go back for "more stuff" which is when the guy with the Joe Willie sounding voice cuts in to rap up the commercial. At that point they've pretty well driven home the message that when you are in a place with "more stuff", you'd be absolutely crazy not to take full advantage and load up on as much "more stuff" as your arms can carry since they do not have shopping carts in a convenience store. OK. I know. It's a commercial and 99% of them are annoying, and insipid, and inane and whatever other denigrating adjective you can come up with to describe them. My problem with it is what they are encouraging you to load up on is their stock-in-trade which is essentially what is commonly referred to here in the states as "junk food". Precisely what anyone concerned about their weight should under no circumstance be eating except for once and a great while and that is in very small quantities. We are essentially talking about "garbage" food here, are we not? You know, chips, candy bars, even the hot dogs and hamburgers they sell in those places. It is essentially foodless food, because there is little to no nutrition to it, but baby can it provide the calories and not surprisingly, the unwanted pounds that we are so confounded by. Also, if you hadn't noticed, they are not at all bashful about what they charge for this dubious food that they purvey with the rational being, I presume, is the "convenience" factor. So for this "convenience" you get to pay two to three times more than what you'd normally pay for this "stuff" in a supermarket for something that is going to sabotage your chance of maintaining a proper body weight anyway. Well I guess if you're going to got to Hell-in-a-handbag you might as well go lock-stock-and-barrel and get fleeced while you're at it!

I once not too long ago heard a gentleman being interviewed on a radio talk show about healthy eating and the piece of advice he gave that struck me as a common sense thing but nevertheless quite an astute observation was to "never eat gas-station/convenience-store food" as a way of avoiding unhealthy eating habits. I could not offer a better piece of advice myself, even to someone who does not have a weight control problem. So here goes. Eating gas-station / convenience-store food is a DOUBLE-DUMB FOOD CHOICE!
ampm rant
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