Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Keep Swimming


Okay, I misread the scale yesterday, despite the double check because it was 176 this morning.



Fuck a doodle doo. Still, when the goal is to drop weight, 176 is infinitely  better than 225 lbs. and the size 12 jeans still fit. Life is okay. And I’ll tell you why.

Russell Simmons was on Mark & Brian’s radio show this morning (95.5 KLOS, 5 – 6 AM repeat, 6 -10 AM live. Available as a podcast and I recommend giving it a listen. I just did again so I could quote him accurately), talking about his new book, “Super Rich, A Guide to Having It All.”  Normally, this would just be background noise as I looked over the financial data for people more financially secure than I (and fiscally more responsible. With better credit. And big fat fluffy brown tabby cats asleep on their beds in the appraisal photos). I have nothing against Mr. Simmons and didn’t know that much about him: Def Jam, Def Comedy Jam (Martin Lawrence’s springboard), Phat Farm, Kimora Lee, that’s about all). Today, though, he caught my attention.

Russell Simmons spoke, not of the great deals he had made to create his wealth or tips and strategies for building a personal fortune. I wrote down a few quotes (and if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, I’ll take a copy of this book, a leather trench coat (I’d have to try it on to know the size), a tablet computer and a year’s lease on an apartment in the LA area.  One that allows cats. And a pair of kittens. Brown, tabby, fluffy. AND FOR E HARMONY TO LIVE UP TO ITS ADVERTISING.). Without having read the book (yet), I’m still pondering the first few, but the last one was a message I needed today:

“Give your talents until others can’t live without them.”

“Good givers are good getters.”

“Rid yourself of neediness. Super rich is needing nothing. Needing nothing is a state of bliss. Operate from a happy space.”

“If you don’t love it, leave it alone.”

(The big one) “Let go of results. Stay focused on the work itself rather than the results. Work is the prayer.” He further explained this was part of a Bible quote that explains we don’t have control over results, but we do have control over the work we do.

As this applies today, I thought I was further along on the weight loss project than I actually am and the joy and elation I felt yesterday took a hit this morning when the scale was 176 not 170. However, I ate my healthy breakfast (non-fat Greek yogurt, blackberries, ground flaxseed), worked on my paying gig (underwriting) and went to yoga class. While I was in yoga, I focused on contracting and really engaging my abdominal muscles and I felt a big shift in my ability to get into and hold certain poses. Oh, I’m a hurtin’ unit right now, but I did really good work in class today. I was careful about my calorie intake today (whether it did any good, we’ll know in the morning).

The work itself.  Eating properly (and there will be blogs on that. I’ve discovered some recipes that stave off cravings for naughty baked goods), drinking plenty of water and exercising. The week before Thanksgiving, the topic on the show had turned to diet and exercise (which it does a lot. Mark makes an announcement of when he’s going to Five Guys – what so proudly I hail – for a cheat meal) and how metabolism changed from being skinny teenagers who could eat everything to men of a certain age who had to be mindful of eating and exercise. A guy called in and mentioned isometric exercises. “Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (compared to concentric or eccentric contractions, called dynamic/isotonic movements). Isometrics are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion.” (copied and pasted from Wikipedia). Basically, you contract your muscles while you’re just sitting there (Years ago, in a TV Guide article, Victoria Principal described doing isometrics. Being overweight and not fond of hard exercise, I was interested. Never did it). If you’ve seen the infomercials or (cheapy Joe TV ads. You know the product is crap when you see them) for the electric band that you put on your muscles and it “contracts them for you”, save your money: you can suck in your gut for free. I digress. My point is, since I heard the guy on Mark & Brian, I have been practicing isometrics during my day. I spend about 7 hours staring into a computer screen, why not contract the abdominals and get in some strength training at the same time?

Am I seeing a dramatic difference in my waistline? No. On the scale? See the “fuck a doodle doo” © that started off this post. BUT, while I’m not visually seeing a difference, I’m seeing a difference in my ability to perform certain moves. I can sit up straight for longer and longer periods of time  and the back fatigue/pain takes a lot longer to come around. I’ve noticed that I’m starting the isometric work even without thinking “Oh, yeah, tighten the abs.” And I still fit in the size 12 Calvins with the unforgiving waistband. Even after they’ve come out of the dryer.

I leave you with the great philosopher, Dory, who has the same message, just phrased differently:
Dory 


Monday, November 28, 2011

New Numbers

170.6 lbs. Great day in the morning! I'd like to thank protein powders, Atkins and the elliptical cross-trainer.

New round of "By The Numbers":


Measurement
January 31, 2011
May 18, 2011
November 28, 2011
Weight
224.6 lbs.
188.4 lbs.
170.6 lbs.
BMI
35.2%
29.5%
26.7%
Neck
17.3”
16.75”
15.5”
Chest
56.7”
45.5”
42”
Waist
51.2”
44.5”
39.75”
Hips
47.6”
46.5”
42”







Looks like pretty good progress unless you let the guys at the gym (who want to sell you a training package) do a body fat calculation. Mine today came up with 41.75% body fat. Fuck ‘em. I’m making great progress in other ways.



From 51.2” to 39.75”: the Great White Belly is going buh-bye.




Thursday, November 24, 2011

I've Got Your Brussels Sprouts Right Here...


175 lbs. Whatever. It’s still not 225.



If you freak out easily over terms like “bacon”, “oil” or “fucker,” this is not the blog post for you. Go find one all about kittens and puppies. Of course, these days being what they are, the puppies probably bark George Carlin’s “7 Words You Can’t Say on TV.”

Okay, I decided to experiment and be something of a grown-up (50. You can’t pretend to be a teenager anymore) and bought Brussels sprouts with the intention of making them the green vegetable for my Thanksgiving dinner. Understand, I am not only a member of the Brussels Sprouts Suck Society, I’m its President and up until today, it was President for Life (sort of like Hugo Chavez and judging by the look of him lately, he’s coming up on his term limit pretty soon).  If not properly prepared, they’re inedible: chewy (like it’ll take you a half-hour), just bitter enough to not taste very good and (up until today) pretty much a pointless exercise in eating. You want me to eat green vegetables? Throw me some green beans or Swiss chard. Use the BS (oh, figure it out) as ammunition.  

Brussels sprouts have been the butt of many a joke about how nothing good ever came from Belgium. Except chocolate, French fries and Jean-Claude Van Damme. A kitten could knock one around a house for days without damaging it. Pointless vegetable: looks like a miniature cabbage without the potential of becoming coleslaw.

But, I decided to boldly go where my tastebuds had never gone (“What’s that? Anymore and I’ll have to pay a royalty to Gene Roddenberry’s estate? And William Shatner?”Lawyers. Jeez.)…fill in the blank.

Trouble is, how do you make the little fuckers edible?

I put the question to my buddy, Santino (aka Sonny). Sonny is a pro, having established a barbecue catering business and soon to branch into sandwiches.  I told him I had the accursed sprouts and pancetta (Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have one handy, move). His reply:

“Personally, my favorite way to prep them is to cut them in half lengthwise, light drizzle of olive erl, *salt & pepper then roast those fuckers in a wicked hot oven. 400 degrees is good, 425 is better. 25-30 minutes should do it so that they get all crunchy browned & sweet. Then pop 'em like peanut M&Ms...

*if you have any of that bacon salt like what you'd sent me, use that.

Side note, if you happen to think of it, put a fine chop to that pancetta & add it to the party for about the last 8-10 mins of cooking. Trow everything into a bowl after cooking, mix thoroughly (some of that crystalized lemon wouldn't hurt) and enjoy.”©

(No, those are not unintentional spelling errors. That’s Sonny being Sonny)

I did as advised (except I didn’t add  the bacon salt (obtained from Cost Plus World Market. Not in your neighborhood? Annoyed sigh. Buy it online or MOVE) until after I’d cooked them).  (Crystallized lemon: I get it in the baking aisle at Ralphs aka Krogers. True Lemon. You could squeeze a real one over the finished product. And if you lived in California or Florida, you might even have a tree in your backyard. Almost makes up for the occasional earthquake or Category 4 hurricane. Almost).

I opted for the 30 minutes  at 425 degrees (setting the timer initially for 20 minutes so I could add the pancetta. Hey, you can always chop up some bacon if you don’t have pancetta, just use applewood smoked because the  smoky addition to the flavor is priceless. And if you’re vegan, what are you doing still reading this?).

Holy crap, were those things good. I finished off the whole bowl. This is the first Thanksgiving where I’ve loaded up on green vegetables, not potatoes, appetizers or sweets. And Brussels sprouts, no less… The sprouts actually did have some sweetness to them and the lemon added a fantastic bright punch.

As I type this, my turkey (a cranberry and apple stuffed breast from Trader Joe’s. Oh, relax, I just did 2 hours on the elliptical machine in the gym) is roasting in the oven and I made a low-carb pumpkin pie from a recipe on www.emilyzaler.com. Haven’t tasted that yet, but I’ll report back later. I have sweet potatoes and cornbread stuffing (TJ’s again. Seriously, people, either lobby to get on in your neighborhood or get CARE packages), but they may not get consumed until tomorrow with leftover turkey.  

But yes, today, November 24, 2011, the Brussels sprout has officially been conquered.












Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Atkins Saves the Day


---- lbs. That’s right: No weigh in today! LIVIN’ ON THE EDGE!!!

This is important: According to a fact I heard today, the average American will consume 4,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day (not at one meal, but that’s certainly a big factor). Proceed with caution.

However, it should be noted: as I write this post, I am wearing my all-important Levi 501s that haven’t fit in this decade (Decade, hell. They haven’t fit during the 21st century). I got a sewing kit and fixed the placket (I believe that’s the technical term for the part of the fly with the buttons). Sue Ann Nivens, my Home Ec teacher from junior high would be shocked as all hell (if she’s not rolling over in her grave. My teachers were all, pretty much, shall we say “experienced” when I got them). I hated the sewing part of Home Ec. Still not crazy about sewing, but I can/will do it when pushed. And rearming my wardrobe out of my storage unit continues. Next up: digging around for my Ann Taylor silk turtlenecks. And my Bruins (Boston) jersey.

The jeans, by the way, are a wee bit loose in the seat. There’s another pair (I’m pretty sure) of a smaller size in storage, but I’m thinking not quite yet.

As for the wonky right knee: X-rayed on the 11th and according to Dr. Best, it’s “beautiful” (his words. Before I started trash talking his Kansas City Chiefs. After what the Patriots did to them last night, they deserved the trash talk). The bones are in good shape and there’s plenty of soft tissue. The radiologist’s fax to Dr. Best had a term for an inflamed tendon (that wasn’t tendinitis. Why is tendinitis spelled like that when the inflamed tissue is spelled “T-E-N-D-O-N”? Curious) that started with E and a bunch of vowels. Well, given the way I have run my right knee into every available heavy, pointy, unyielding surface over the years with the point of contact being pretty much the same, it’s no wonder. The fix? LIGHT weights, many repetitions, heat, electricity and ultrasound. In other words, what we’ve been doing.

I have a sweet tooth and especially like chocolate (and certain substances blended with chocolate. To wit, peanut butter.  The NAAC has spoken (National Association for the Advancement of Caramel), but chocolate + peanut butter has the sweet/salty built in and caramel needs it added. You guys have to do a better job of convincing me). In this space, I have mentioned some protein powders and the Atkins Endulge line as a means of satisfying the craving without undoing the good I’ve done.

Let’s talk Atkins for a few minutes. I had found their Chocolate Coconut Bar and Peanut Butter cups to be nearly equal to Mounds and to Reese’s. I said as much to the Atkins people and they sent me a flock of coupons (I’m not a member of Congress. My vote on this matter is not for sale. I would endorse these items even without 50 cents off). I turned those coupons into the other Atkins Endulge varieties and I’m here to report they all pretty much work. (All candy bar names used refer to American branded candy bars).

Chocolate coconut (Mounds):  Texture and taste nearly identical to Mounds, not as sweet, but it’s satisfying. 170 calories for 1 bar, 3 g net carbs, 1 g sugar.  (And those of you who hate coconut: your objection is noted. More for the rest of us)

Chocolate Peanut Butter cups (Reese’s): Texture and taste nearly identical to Reeses (the cups are smooth, no ridges. Deal with it). The peanut butter holds up; comparable to Reese’s (which is what sets Reese’s apart from all other peanut butter cups). 160 calories for 2, 0 g sugar, 2g net carbs.

Caramel Nut Chew Bar (Baby Ruth. Not quite Snickers):  Real caramel is butter and sugar and not much else, so creating a “lighter”, healthier version that’s actually edible is quite a challenge. This bar succeeds, even with a nougat (not as light and fluffy as the real deal, but you’re still not chewing it for 10 years). The flavor is good. 130 calories per bar, 1 g sugar and 2g net carbs.

Chocolate Caramel Mousse Bar (Milky Way): This was the least successful of the Endulge products. Like the Caramel Nut Chew Bar, the nougat is dense and chewy, not light/fluffy (but the flavor is good). There’s a very thin layer of caramel, so if you’re looking for the Milky Way caramel string experience, you won’t find it here. The flavor is okay (not great, but not hideous). 120 calories per bar, 1 g sugar and 2 net carbs.

Peanut Caramel Cluster Bar (Payday): The only thing missing is the saltiness of the peanuts in the real deal. Payday bars have a different kind of caramel from Milky Way, Snickers, etc. and Atkins nailed it, both in taste and texture. The nougat is not as dense as the other bars and this contributes to making the experience even closer to eating an actual Payday. 140 calories per bar, 1 g sugar, 3 g net carbs.

I have found these bars at the grocery store (Ralphs, Albertsons) and at Vitamin Shoppe. Bought individually, the bars are usually $1.69 each (in Vitamin Shoppe). At the grocery store, they’re available in boxes of 5 for $6.99 or $1.39 per bar. At Vitamin Shoppe, they’re available in boxes of 12 for $14.99 or $1.25 per bar (which is on par with what “real” candy bars cost).

We’re coming into a 6 week period marked by a lot of sweet, high calorie, high carbohydrate and sugar foods and enough chocolate to give all of India zits. There’s a lot of social pressure to indulge (“Hey, c’mon, it’s the holidays. Go ahead, cheat a little.” Except that it’s never “a little”. The slope is not only slippery, it’s been greased by deep fried turkey, latkes and eggnog). Atkins Endulge offers a viable work-around to all the See’s/Figi’s/Swiss Colony/Hickory Farms temptations out there and merits a taste test.

Starbucks: I am a huge fan of Gingerbread Latte, but it’s a ton of sugar and Starbucks does not (yet) have a sugar-free syrup for them. However, the baristas at my favorite branch have turned me on to Skinny Peppermint Mocha Latte: sugar free syrup and non-fat milk. 100 calories for a tall and it tastes pretty good. California has mandated that restaurants have to post calorie contents on menus and seeing  a whopping  440 calories next to the slice of gingerbread loaf works as a deterrent (another seasonal favorite and I had thought that I was doing myself a favor by skipping the chocolate covered/caramel filled bars. Nope).

Oh, and keep drinking the water. Try to get in at least one round in the morning, hot with lemon (a coffee mug and half a lemon). Your liver and your kidneys will send you a thank you note.

This year, I’m giving thanks for being able to wear my 501s again, the fact that one of my favorite people (whom I’d not seen in ages) told me Saturday night, “Wow, there’s a lot less of you” and for the fact that I’m succeeding in a project that’s dismantling  the weight issue that has been a huge part of my life (yeah, I see the pun. It works, it stays). I look in the mirror and actually like what I see (the matches on E Harmony, they’re not responding). I am getting back into clothing that well-meaning people had told me I should “get rid of” from my storage because I’d never fit into them again (And if you’re reading this, [Sweet Smile], FUCK YOU) and I’m finding ways and means to support the fitter me while minimizing the sacrifice (that would be where the Atkins comes in). Today, in yoga, I was able to perform a Half Moon (balance on one foot and one hand – same side – with other foot and other hand in the air) on the left side (right knee, tendinitis, no).  Still no push-ups. Yet. But that’s coming. I’m back in my 501s, Man!  I’m so grateful, I’m ecstatic.

And don’t overdo it with the green bean casserole (which is a crime against nature in the first place).  Only put the black olives on your fingertips that you intend to eat (not too many) and when blowing the pimentos out of the green olives at your cousins, make sure your grandmother isn’t watching. (Yes, I speak from experience).

A Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hips, hips, Hooray


175.2 lbs. 2 steps back, 1 step back.



Today’s ego boost: I was able to easily get into a couple of skirts (size 14) that have been hanging out in storage for years (I’ll put it to you this way: they’re covered in cat fur. I haven’t had any cats in over 6 years, a fact that makes my heart hurt. I miss my furry friends. They were great pets. Luckily, lint rollers and Dryel home dry cleaning are relatively cheap). The LL Bean wool (size 12), well, that’ll be another 5-10 lbs. down and a good pair of control top panty hose BUT I GOT THEM UP TO MY WAIST. I’m wearing my good old Calvin Klein size 13s and size 12s  (jeans) on a daily basis. One of my less-supportive friends sniped that “Well, those run big anyway.” Don’t you just love people like that? They can’t let you have your moment of victory. Well, in my experience, LL Bean’s clothing runs small. And the sniper can go to hell. The size 10 mini skirt…yeah, not just yet. But I’ve got the legs to go under it!

Today was weight training and cardio. One of my friends from yoga class is a body builder and I consulted with him about my triceps: I have been working on the various Nautilus machines that promise tricep development, but nothing. I’ve been working out on a heavy schedule for 8 months and still cannot do a complete, down-to-the-floor-and-up-again pushup. According to Dr. Best, there are two parts to a tricep, the short ____ (I think he said something like “bud,” but I wouldn’t swear to it) which is the part up near the shoulder and the long ____ (I wish I could remember the term) which runs down the arm to the elbow. It’s where the arm flaps hang out. I hate those things (but then, I have yet to meet a woman who describes them as her favorite body part. If you know such a person, please send her name and picture as a comment on this blog). Anyway, the body builder showed me how to do an exercise he called “skull crushers.” You need weights and if you’re new to this exercise or unfamiliar with handling weights, GO LIGHT. Part of the effectiveness of free weight is that you have to control them while exerting against the weights. I laid down on a bench for this exercise, face up. With the weights in your hands (and you’re going to do this exercise palms up as if you were pushing against the ceiling and keep them palms up the whole time), raise your arms straight up over your head.  Keeping your arms in tight near your ears, bend your forearms back by your ears. Watch this guy:

 

My triceps were shaking by the time I finished 1 set of twenty repetitions, with 2 more sets to go. Kiss those arm flaps buh bye!

Ego bruiser of the day: EHarmony isn’t doing much of anything for me so far. Guys have looked at my profile (after I’ve reached out) and chosen not to return greetings or connect. I have tremendous friendships with men, but that next step doesn’t seem to be happening. It’s their loss. Of course, if you’re reading this, have a SINGLE father/uncle/brother who is a good guy, knows how to treat a lady, is secure and in the LA area, please forward a picture and contact info.  And tell him I make a wicked tiramisu.








Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How I'm Saved From Myself


176.6 lbs. Yeah. I know. Shut up.

Piece of advice: Do not carefully apply mascara (and congratulate yourself on doing such a fine job),then, 2 hours later, go into a steam room. Rocky Raccoon. Now, you may think that this advice is geared strictly towards women. However, there’s always Jared Leto and Adam Lambert. (Alice Cooper actually prefers his extra smeared).

One of the issues that can derail a weight loss program, especially the “cleaner eating” portion, is food craving. Mine particular “gotta have its” were chocolate and coconut (those of you who tell me coconut is not a food may kiss my butt. It’s delicious and contains L-argenine which boosts metabolism. Dr. Oz says so) and chocolate and peanut butter. And I know there are more than a few of you out there who share my tastes in cravings. These combos are normally found in candy, milk shakes or baked goods, which are naturally loaded in sugar, fat and/or starch and empty calories and therefore, these flavors combos have been out of reach. I have been avoiding sugar as I believe it triggers an inflammatory response in my body. Not a good thing, but when you’re jonesing for a Reese’s or a Mounds…

I have recently found some great answers that effectively satisfy me and provide a benefit to my workouts as well: About Time chocolate peanut butter protein powder and BSN Lean Dessert Chocolate Coconut  protein powder.

We’ll start with About Time (www.tryabouttime.com): per scoop, 103 calories (I go 2 scoops. Next time, single scooper), No lactose, no gluten, no carbs, no fat, no artificial flavors or sweeteners. 12% of daily calcium, only 41 mgs of sodium and 24 grams of protein (lots of different kinds of protein). It’s not sweet but the flavor is good; the peanut butter tastes like peanut butter and there’s enough chocolate flavor to be satisfying. I bought some chocolate almond milk to add to it for purposes of experimentation. According to pretty much any trainer/vitamin store employee/body builder I spoke to, About Time has truly high quality protein and is far better quality than the chocolate peanut butter protein powder I had been using. About Time is also available in flavors like Cinnamon Swirl, Mocha Mint, Chocolate and Birthday Cake which I may try when I make up some of Emily Zaler’s recipes.

Whereas I had been using Rawvolution’s chocolate coconut haystacks to satisfy my chocolate coconut craving (No sugar: unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut oil, coconut nectar and shredded coconut), they were not really conducive to weight loss/muscle building (LOTS of calories, but no mass manufacturing chemicals, either). However, a close second behind a Reese’s peanut butter cup (a moment of reverence, if you will),  Mounds and Almond Joy share the silver medal. One can find a lot of chocolate or peanut butter protein shakes/bar,  but chocolate coconut is tough to pull off successfully (i.e., it doesn’t taste fake, the texture/flavor doesn’t have the dark notes/richness of the real deal). Chocolate and coconut are both pretty fatty foods and there is a certain mouth feel that’s tough to replicate. Again, a huge taboo (although we’re now hearing that some dark chocolate per day is a good idea because of its antioxidants and coconut has the L-argenine amino acid). When I was in high school, my mom would whip up a protein shake for me (sending me on some stupid ass errand to the other end of the house so she could sneak an egg into the mixture. She has made a full confession on the record) that was skim milk, ice and flavoring (cocoa powder, vanilla extract and Sweet N Low and coconut flavoring like you get in the baking section at the grocery store). It was okay, but clearly tasted like Sweet N Low, vanilla and coconut “flavoring”. Of course, some rum extract was generally dumped in there as well, so that helped (and led to me becoming a Jimmy Buffett fan. “Booze” in the blender!).

Enter BSN Lean Dessert, Chocolate Coconut Candy Bar. Serving 1 scoop (seriously, I have to cut it down from 2), 150 calories, 21 grams of protein. And it tastes fantastic. It tastes like a Mounds bar.  Also available in (which I have not yet taste tested) Chocolate Fudge Pudding, Banana Cream, Cinnamon Roll, Banana Nut.  I do not include Chocolate or Vanilla because, let’s face it, EVERYBODY has chocolate and vanilla flavors.  It’s just a matter of pulling them off properly.

These protein powders also provide energy for hours. There’s no “one hour later and you’re hungry again.”

I am a great believer in “bang for the buck”: with these protein powders, not only can I satisfy the craving for these particular flavor combos (Chocolate proves God’s existence. The combination of chocolate and peanut butter proves that He loves us), but as I do so, I’m taking in nutrients to build lean muscle (Hey, in less than a year, I’ve stepped down from size 20 to size 12 jeans that are NOT elasticized. That requires lean muscle). This is more bang for the buck.

In addition to the protein powders, I have discovered the Atkins Endulge line. These treats are candy bars, extremely low in carbohydrates (this is Atkins, after all) and the two I’ve tried (Chocolate Coconut Bar and Peanut Butter cups. Quelle surprise) successfully replicate Mounds and Reese’s without all the sugar. The Chocolate Coconut bar is 170 calories, the Peanut Butter cup is 120 calories with little to no sugar. There are also varieties that replace Milky Way (and Peanut Caramel Cluster. Payday?).  Oh yes, they will be taste tested.

As a dedicated fan of chocolate, giving it up altogether was the undoing of my previous weight loss attempts. I would always answer its dark, rich (sugar-laden) call and gorge. (A few years ago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History had an exhibition on the history of chocolate. The entrance to the exhibit was done up as a fancy chocolate shop. My friend Run and I almost didn’t make it into the exhibit. And the guard politely asked us to stop pressing our faces on the glass). Hey, I’ve even found the magic that is the Mo’s Bacon Bar by Vosges: chocolate and applewood smoked bacon. I kid you not (About Time? BSN? Do you think maybe…?Atkins? It seems like a natural). I can go without for periods of time, but not forever. I am so happy I’ve found these protein powders and snack bars, I almost don’t have the words (well, two pages later).

If losing weight is like climbing an ice wall or rock wall (something that does not interest me and my Not Quite Nephew has this covered. I don’t think the kid can move on a horizontal surface), these food finds are really sturdy pitons and toeholds that are going to keep me from falling off and having to restart.

Thank you, About Time, BSN and Atkins.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cuz I'm a Broad


17_ Oh never mind lbs. It’s up due to turkey burgers (no bun) with low-fat Swiss consumed too late at night (yes, it does make a difference).

Fortunately for me, as a part of the HCG diet protocol (Third phase, calorie restriction is off, but no sugar, no starch. I can live with that), when one’s weight climbs more than x pounds, there is a cure called “Steak Day.” One meal, 12 to 14 ounces of steak and either a tomato or an apple and that’s it for the day. Where do I sign up? Sadly, the meal does not include a good glass of Scotch, but in a few weeks, it can.

I’m thinking I may have subconsciously triggered the gain just to get the steak. I wouldn’t put it past me.

My enthusiasm for things like a great steak, a glass of good Scotch (or Bourbon) and certain sports got me thinking. These are considered to be on the more masculine end of the spectrum than say, salad, a white wine  spritzer and fashion. 

Growing up, I would say or do something and then hear from my mother (Sigh) And I so wished my daughters would grow up to be ladies.”  I heard this a lot. Enough to where I kind of figured it was a lost cause.

Part of the problem could stem from my admiration of Bette Davis (I had gotten my hand on a copy of “Mother Goddamn”, a biography by Whitney Stine that he’d sent to her for approval, she’d written a ton of comments and corrections that were included in the book. I now have a copy she autographed). Newsweek published a quote of hers that I took to heart (at the age of 12). “There are two kinds of women; ladies and broads. Me, I’m a broad.”

My grandmother was one of three sisters. During an extended family gathering, in which all three sisters were present (known in the family as the Gabor Sisters) and their husbands (Whom my grandfather dubbed “The Three Stooges”), somehow, the conversation turned to flatulence (Yes, people had been drinking. How did you know?). Gram stated firmly and flatly,  “I never permitted that in my house.” My great aunt, her sister, leaned back in her chair and asked, “Really? What did you do? Sweat ‘em out your ribs?”

Grandmother: Lady.  Great aunt: Broad (and one of my favorite people).

Broads are a lot of fun (and shouldn’t be confused with Skanks. Skanks wear extremely short skirts and no underwear. Broads wear extremely short skirts and the most expensive, sexy underwear they can find). According to Elaine Stritch, a broad is the elegantly dressed woman at the dinner party, leaning across the table with a drink in her hand asking, “What the hell are you talking about?” Broads are fearless. You have to be to pull it off.

Hillary Clinton in the White House: Lady.  First Lady, but when the news broke that the President had been messing around in the Oval Office, she didn’t throw all his stuff on the South Lawn and change the locks (Donna Hanover did with Rudy Giuliani. It amuses my ass that the mayor of New York City was successfully tossed from the official residence, Gracie Mansion,). Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail downing a shot of Crown Royal at a bowling alley: Broad. Well, politician courting the vote masquerading as a Broad, but it was a Broad kind of move.  Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann? Not Broads. Not Ladies, either. I’ll take “Opinionated Dumbass Opportunists” for $600, Alex (It’s Double Jeopardy. You can make up a lot of lost ground that way. Not that it did me much good in the end).

Eleanor Roosevelt? Lady with a Broad’s backbone. Barbara Bush? Bitch in Lady’s clothing.

A Lady will be impeccably turned out and never discuss the process. A Broad will not only tell you she’s had a Brazilian wax, she will also reveal the cost and how she had to straddle a frozen turkey afterwards to get some relief (Men: if you think women shouldn’t serve in the military because they couldn’t stand up to the rigors of torture I offer the Brazilian wax – something we do for you. Not only do we submit to having hairs from a sensitive part of the body ripped out with hot wax, we make appointments to get it done and WE PAY FOR IT).

Samantha Jones? Broad  (Not Slut. Samantha was in control). Charlotte York MacDougall Goldenblatt? Lady (Duh). Miranda Hobbes Brady? Broad with Bitch overtones. Carrie Bradshaw? Bradytic (Half Broad, Half Lady, completely neurotic. But I still love her).

A Broad is not a Bitch, although you may fling  that at her when you don’t like her truth. A Lady will not tell you that your skirt is tucked into the waistband of your pantyhose, revealing your slip or pantyhose. A Bitch will not only not tell you, she’ll tell all her other friends about your blunder several times over. A Broad will say (perhaps too loudly), “Jesus, Christine, your ass is hanging out!” and then proceed to help you fix it. (By the way, if you’re a Skank, no slip, no pantyhose and probably no waistband for the hem of the skirt to get stuck in. But your ass will be hanging out. You should have felt the breeze).

Betty Ford: Broad all the way.

A Broad is courageous. She will not follow trends and crowds just because everyone else “is doing it.” A Broad knows herself, knows her truth and sticks to her guns even in the face of overwhelming opposition (Had they been women, the Light Brigade…would still be men. Broads are courageous, not suicidal). Everyone else at the table can be drinking Cosmos or Appletinis, she’ll have single malt Scotch on the rocks. Or a very specific drink order that doesn’t include fruit juice or flavored vodka. (Makers Mark Manhattan, perfect, straight up, chilled. Okay, lots of cherries.) She can hold her own with the boys and discuss the finer points of various whiskeys and knows her limits so no one takes advantage of her (that’s wandering into Slut territory). It is in these kinds of situations that the Broad will lean over the table and yell, “What the hell are you talking about?”  While Ladies may attend male strip joints only because that’s where the bachelorette party is being held, Broads will make a special trip to the bank to get dollar bills and tuck at least two into a G string, depending on how many Ladies she has to cover for.

You know where you stand with a Broad. (See anecdote about skirt hem in waistband). If she likes or loves you, you feel it, you know it and if she offers to break the nose of someone who’s hurt you, she means it (accept such offers carefully). If she doesn’t like you, you’ll know it. And it’s best to steer clear because you’re probably THIS CLOSE to a broken nose. And you have no doubt earned it.

Broads hide their lights from no one: if she wants a steak, she’ll get it (and pay for it herself unless she’s pissed at you and been told NOT to break your nose. Under those circumstances, you’re on the hook). Where Ladies may order salad in public, eat a quarter of it (dressing on the side. Dip tines of fork before spearing lettuce), when she gets home, she’ll scarf a half box of Oreos and leftover Chinese. I say proudly that today, I ate 12 ounces of surprisingly good filet mignon (I got it at Ralph’s, good grocery store, not renowned for their meat. They’re not known for having crap in the store, but this was primo filet. Price wasn’t too bad, either). I understand the consequences of eating a lot of red meat; How do you think I got to be over 220 lbs. It wasn’t nighttime injections of fat, my friends). Some Ladies will make a point of telling you how they never eat red meat. They’ve probably led you to believe that they don’t fart, either.

Broads are kind. They’ll lend you pretty much anything, including the shirt off their backs (sometimes literally, depending on Scotch intake). Of course, they believe in all people being created equal, so you’d better be prepared to return the favor (or the borrowed item). Otherwise, you may be cruising for a broken nose.

Why is George Clooney still single? He’s not dating a Broad. He needs a Broad. I volunteer.

In conclusion, I think we need to celebrate The Broad. A holiday. Broad parties (at male stripclubs). A T shirt that reads “Damned straight I’m a Broad” (black shirt, V neck, letters in gold or crystals).  Now you know what to get me for Christmas.












Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When Underwear Attacks



174 lbs. Straight up past the 50 lbs. down mark, no  “close enough” BS.

Part of being a middle class citizen in the United States (besides the sensation that we belong on the Highly Endangered species list along with Whooping Cranes) is the widespread use of undergarments. Bras, boxers, briefs, camisoles and the Victoria’s Secret catalogs that display them (and sometimes usher in puberty as in “Where’s my Victoria’s Secret catalog?” “I saw Trevor take it into the bathroom.” “Uh, never mind.”), most of us in the USA wear undergarments. Jockey is not just a small man on a horse.
Men (and you know you do this) are known to hold onto “lucky underwear”, usually of the pants variety and reduced to perhaps some frayed elastic and a couple of shreds of what used to be white cotton knit. Think Zack Galifianakis in “The Hangover.” It is lucky because the Giants won the Super Bowl the first time the owner wore them (For the record, I am a Pats fan. As such, “Manning” is a dirty word, regardless of the first name, especially after this past Sunday. Given the opportunity, I would knock Peyton and Eli’s heads together like the Three Stooges. I did this once before to two of my siblings and it gets easier each time. But I digress). My mother used to prevent this kind of behavior by my father by taking his ratty T shirts and ripping them up as they came into the laundry room. Our dog, Lily, loved getting them with a series of knots tied in them and knew the phrase “Where’s your rag? Get your rag!” Playing Rag meant tug of war (and when there weren’t rags for her, she’d steal socks, small teddy bears and slippers. My Malibu Barbie looked like a shark had gotten her feet). They were also excellent for polishing furniture (when we didn’t use my sister’s cat, Ira. Oh, stop. He loved it. His fur picked up dust better than a Swiffer. In fact, I Boy may have been the inspiration for the Swiffer).
One may become used to wearing undergarments of a specific size and the indications that one is gaining weight are some of the following: the  leg bands start digging trenches into the area where your thigh joins your torso (blood flow gets cut off), the elastic waistband starts cutting in and/or just giving up entirely (yeah, I’ve had the sensation of my undies rolling down in the back under my skirt. Not pleasant). If you wear panty hose (and this is not gender specific. May I say I hate RuPaul. He makes a better-looking woman than I do), the waistband will start rolling its way down from your waist until it forms a ledge around your hips and you feel the contact of your wool skirt against your butt (Okay, that’s gender specific because I don’t know any drag queens who go to all the trouble of tucking just to wear business dress clothing, even if it does get accessorized with pearls. Dowdy is not in their vocabulary). It’s not pleasant; I’ve done the research.
Another sign of weight gain is limited to the skimpier under garments (I don’t like the word “panties.” It’s kind of like baby talk and just sounds demeaning. It’s like a woman’s  female friends being her “girlfriends.” Tell you menfolk what: until you start referring to that circle of knuckleheads you hang out with as your “boyfriends,” you’d better come up with something else. “Friends” comes to mind). When you really have to dig and tug to remove the thong from The Great Divide, it’s time to go up a size. Butt floss, anyone?
I have reported in this space on the indignities of being required to wear a girdle when 13 years old. It’s a comment on our society (and perhaps male vanity) that I’ve been seeing a lot of ads for the “Insta Slim” being marketed to men.  It’s sort of a twenty first century version of the whalebone corset Lee Marvin was sporting in “Cat Ballou.” They never call it a girdle (It supports the back. Right. The late, great Jane Russell used to advertise the Playtex 18 Hour Back Support), but , Guys, you won’t pass out from trying to “suck in that gut.” There’s some sweet justice in there. I’m waiting for some brainiac to create control top jockey shorts.
The worst wardrobe malfunction, however, comes courtesy of brassieres (In the 1990s, Life magazine marked the 100th anniversary of its invention with a cover story titled “Hurrah for the Bra. “ No, I’m not kidding. Opus, Steve Dallas and Hodgepodge over on “Outland” wrote to Life demanding a companion piece titled “Hooray for Hooters.” Don’t ask me why I remember these things; I have no clue why my brain chooses to latch on to certain completely useless facts, but freezes up in the face of a clean-shaven Alex Trebek.  SEQUEL, dumbass! The final Jeopardy answer was SEQUEL. You’re so friggin’ movie obsessed and you couldn’t come up with that one????? Third place on June 3,2010. Good for $1,000, a reusable shopping bag and all the pens I could steal). Unless one is a “Seinfeld” savant and remembers Kramer v.  Frank Costanza with the “Bro” or “Manssiere”, depending on which one of them you asked, men and bras do not go together. This particular garment has the power to render any straight man to utter uselessness, particularly when they attempt to remove one engaged in its chosen function: keeping the girls up high and tight. You could have a brain surgeon who moonlights as a concert pianist specializing in Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto (the “Rach Three”), both occupations which require extremely nimble and capable hands. Yet, present him with hooks and eyes attached to a bra band and he becomes about as effective as the 2009 Detroit Lions offense (they went 0-16 that year). Or defense, for that matter (0-16).
When one is “blessed” with large breasts, appropriate support takes the form of an underwire bra. If treated properly (wash gentle cycle, hang out to dry), the bra and wire will last for years. However, all good things must end. With non-wired bras, elastic snaps and things start to sag. A broken down underwire bra, on the other hand, becomes an assassin. If you do not hear/feel the subtle snap from under the left breast (Lucille and Rebecca on the right), that mysterious stabbing pain in your chest is the first indicator of trouble. I experienced this last week, getting stabbed throughout the day. It kept me from falling asleep at work. The bra in question was scheduled for replacement anyway as, due to losing 50 lbs., the cups no longer runneth over. In fact, they were half full (or half empty for you pessimists out there) .
While one mourns the demise of an old friend (Yes, the bras become part of me, especially when they start stabbing), there is always an opportunity: one door closes, another opens, yada, yada, yada. Victoria's Secret (not the Trevor marked catalog), you'd better have some matching sets in leopard print in my size. E Harmony awaits.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I need camouflage yoga pants

We had a substitute in Pilates today for the usual, gentle, sweet, undemanding instructor. Pay attention to the adjectives: they'll be important.

The lady who showed up today had leopard print cat's-eye glasses, curly hair and reminded me of several art teachers I've had going through grade school and high school (the idealists who got over it after a few years of dealing with Vermont kids to whom high art was Leroy Neiman). She announced that the class was going to work each "skeletal group."

She wasn't kidding.

Whereas I thought I was getting a pretty good Sunday working with the usual instructor, I have since changed my mind. Today, we were sweetly (and with a bit of an accent) told a brief history of Pilates (developed after WWI to help injured soldiers rehab) and that the Marines were now using it to condition the grunts. Red flag.

I have never before had the shit kicked out of me in such a pleasant fashion.

The core muscles got worked to the point of screaming (and when mine get overworked, they hold my intestines hostage and threaten a gas attack if I don't knock it the hell off). I learned some things I can do daily to work triceps, etc. (If I can remember them. Menopause BLOWS). There were balance moves (and we know from yoga that balance is not my strong point. I need to get my ears to a doctor; they're constantly full of fluid. No wonder I'm cranky). I began to resent the phrase "Okay, five more!" BITCH, YOU LIE!!!!!

This was at 10 AM. It's almost 7 PM and my arms are still screaming at me. Dear Triceps, you had it coming.

As we were once again working the core muscles while trying to balance (a lost cause for me. Ears), I developed a theory that this woman had been a drill instructor in the Israeli Army and had reduced those soldiers to tears and vomiting.


I survived. Barely.  A couple of the girls from class told me that there was "a lot less of me" than had been there before. The uplift from these comments sustained me through the workout.

To the men who may be reading this and dismissing Pilates as "sissy stuff": I got a chance to talk to her after class and I wasn't too far off the mark. Israeli Army: yes. Drill instructor: No, or so she claims (I have my doubts). She may be have been actually on loan to the USMC at Parris Island or Camp Pendleton and it's just a matter of semantics.

And I double dog dare you to try.

Hello, Old Friends


174.8 lbs. (Beats the snot out of 200)



When women raid each other’s wardrobes, they will calling it “go shopping in your closet” with a cheesy smile that doesn’t quite mask the fact that it’s theft. I say “women” because, let’s be honest, you don’t hear about men sharing clothing. They just don’t. And the “shopping in your closet” implies an unwilling sharing.

Due to the change* in seasons, I needed to hit my storage unit for warmer clothing (and to find my damned purple suede boots.). My working bra had stopped working in that the underwear had broken and was stabbing me daily. (This could be a metaphor for so many things)

Luck was on my side and a ton of self-confidence. I found bras that hadn’t fit since I got them (they now do and they’re high end). I found date clothes (I pulled the trigger on E Harmony) and I found my purple suede boots.

Now for the self-confidence boost:



 
The skirt is size 14. The blazer (silk from Express. SUCK IT, LANE BRYANT!!!!) is size 13. They haven’t fit in at least a decade. I can wear them AND breathe (I wouldn’t conduct an orchestra in the blazer, but I can wear it…) And while "purple suede boots" sounds ridiculous in print, you've got to admit, they're gorgeous.

I can finally see the progress I’ve made and not just in playing the numbers game with the scale and with clothing sizes. I need to get myself in to a doctor for a regular check up and a trip to Quest Diagnostics for blood chemistry tests, but I know I’m in a lot better shape than I was in January. And the winter clothing I was wearing in January (I was freezing my ass off in St. Louis)? Too big. However, the archaeological dig turned up goodies I haven’t seen/worn in years. Next trip, I’m going after my Ann Taylor knitted silk turtlenecks.

Shopping in my storage unit was a great deal. I wouldn’t say I got a new wardrobe, but I got clothing I needed and all it cost me was the gas to get there (and some Starbucks to drink on the way).

Now, if you’re a reader, please do me a favor: The comments section is pretty dusty. I’ve had people tell me in email (or over the phone) that I have inspired them. If this blog has inspired you (or irritated or amused), please leave me comments.



*It’s Southern California. The term is relative.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Larry Miller Made My Day and Week


174.8 lbs. And has been for 7 days. Could be worse…



The gym has begun flashing health tips on their LCD displays that also give class schedules, time (always 10 minutes slow) and the weather forecast, as well as advertising sale items in the pro shop (such as it is). One of the tips I saw today (while working through 2, count ‘em, 2 hours of elliptical cross trainer) was about a positive attitude (and body image) being a boost to health and weight loss. Cool. Towards that end, I got a huge boost today (it helped me ignore the guy on the treadmill next to me who decided to give me a lecture on how, if I worked harder on the elliptical, I could lose weight. I refrained from telling him how, if he kept his mouth shut, people wouldn’t think he was an ass. He was also given to ostentatious yawns. That’s right, I said ostentatious and MEANT it.).

I subscribe to the “This Week With Larry Miller” podcast (www.acelarrymiller.com). It is one of the reasons I look forward to Wednesdays (I have a couple of podcast subscriptions that update on Wednesdays). Larry Miller, if you don’t recognize the name, is a stand up and actor. You probably know his voice or his face (He’s part of the troupe that Garry Marshall likes to use. He was the store manager who let Julia Roberts shop in “Pretty Woman” and the crazy hairdresser in the “Princess Diary” movies. Yeah, that guy. No, not Hector Elizondo).

Mr. Miller starts his podcasts with a piece of music that sounds like a college fight song and segues into the meat of the podcast by saying “That was the  _______ Orchestra and the ______ Dancers and boy tenor ________ asks the musical question, “___________?” (For those of you born during the Reagan administration, this is a throwback to the 1940s and live broadcasts of big bands on Saturday night). He changes the names every week giving a shout out to members of his staff or his friends or the guy who sold him the new hamper. The musical question is something different each week, too. Silly stuff and a lot of fun. This podcast puts me in a good mood every Wednesday.

The podcast is funny and silly and covers important topics such as replacing a laundry hamper that had seen better days and the subtle art of mashing soap scraps into a Frankenstein creation of a bar (made from parts from others). He has successfully melded four bars together, yet had an attempt at a “five-fecta” fall apart. The quest for the five-fecta is something he has compared to the building of The Tower of Babel (it’s in your Bibles, folks) and perhaps he was overreaching through pride and arrogance. He has mentioned this comparison several times.

As I listened last week with the discussion of the quest for the five-fecta and whether it was a Tower of Babel, I got an idea and posted on the Facebook page for the show: “Wouldn’t the five fecta be known as the Tower of Bubble?” One of my friends hit it with a “Like” and I thought that might be the end of it. Except that someone from the show commented: “Oooh, that’s a good one. I like that.”

It was Larry. Miller.  Oh, cool. “But that was last week,” you ask, “Why would it impact today?”

A ha.

Today’s podcast, titled “The Game’s Over and You’ve Won” (November 2, 2011) , the dancers were the SUSAN THATCHER Dancers and the musical question was “Wouldn’t the Five Fecta be known as the Tower of Bubble?”

HOLY HERD OF COWS STAMPEDING FROM MUMBAI TO BANGALORE!!!!

Not only did I get the shout out in this fashion, but he discussed it for a couple of minutes and RETURNED TO IT. Oh. My. God.

Look, I have been a fan of Larry Miller since the 1980s (I remember seeing his stand up on HBO) and every time I’ve seen him since, be it in “Pretty Woman” or on “Law & Order” (2 episodes where he played a truly despicable character named Michael Dobson and then one where he played a comedian named Larry Miller. Typecasting on the third time), I’ve tuned in a little more closely. And here I’ve made a connection to someone whose work I like a LOT and not only that, been able to give a little something back to HIM in terms of a goofy play on words (He says on the podcast that he loves puns). What goes around comes around in action. (We also like Fab Hot Dogs in Reseda. If you are a fan of the tube steak, you owe yourself a visit)

I recommend to anybody and everybody reading this post that he or she go to www.acelarrymiller.com or ITunes (or Zune. I am a Zunatic and proud of it) and subscribe to this podcast, including listening to some of the older episodes. Larry Miller will put you in a good frame of mind, lift the corners of your mouth and make the day/week a little bit better talking about soap and laundry hampers (and the Larry Miller Drinking Society). The elevated frame of mind is a springboard towards achieving goals and/or bringing better things into our lives (I’ve been told and choose to believe). Hey, if Larry Miller helps me get there, that’s fine by me.

You know what? Yeah, I’ve been stalled at 174.8 lbs. for 7 days, but that’s still 50 lbs. down (okay, okay 49.8. Jeez). And “If you were able to walk out of bed, had a job to go to, a home to come back to and somebody waiting there who cares about you, game over, you’ve won,” I’m batting .750 which is even better than Ted Williams did in his heyday.

And that’s the truest thing I know. Thank you, Mr. Miller.