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.

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