Posts Tagged ‘Weight Loss’

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I’ve heard that more and more Americans will NOT be serving turkey this year! Millennials seem to be leading the charge/change to a more vegetarian diet, replete with seeds and nuts. Like squirrels.

Well, you can count me out – I’m a purist on “Turkey Day,” and will be assembling my famous corn bread stuffing along with plenty of sides for the main attraction. I tried talking Bob into making ravioli, but he feels his pasta needs a night all its own!

Since when did food become political? Tofurky aside, I remember my first meeting with two vegetarians in college (vegans came into being much later). They were purists, absolutists too, they didn’t wear leather shoes. I looked down at their feet, under the cafeteria table laden with plastic wrappers. Then they told me they wouldn’t use honey, unless they knew the beekeeper! In the 1970s I thought this was absurd, who would mistreat bees?

Ever since, I’ve abhorred anything in the extreme; politics, religion, whatever. I would never cook Kosher because I always ate meat on Friday! I hope you’ve seen that episode of Portlandia, the one where they are ordering dinner in a farm-to-table restaurant and they end up at the farm with the waitress!

Most of you know I’ll eat just about anything, except sushi. Raw sushi, aka bait. But it wasn’t until I read this fascinating article about the intersection of food and politics with a feminist slant that our current obsession with everything gastronomic made sense.

“…the eco-food movement, also known as the eco-gastronomy or alternative-food movement, was busy embracing the war on obesity, joining the front lines of the fight. And food became something to categorize — whole or processed, real or fake, clean or dirty — and to fear. Pretty soon almost every food and health writer I knew was dropping gluten or white sugar from her diet, then bringing it back, then dropping something else. Now that trend has gone mainstream; even my 88-year-old grandmother knows what gluten is and why half her family isn’t eating it on any given day.”  https://medium.com/s/story/how-the-eco-food-movement-mass-markets-eating-disorders-d0302e0e0b85

When we categorize a certain food as “good” or “bad” we are unleashing our inner critic and jumping on the “Oh I only try to eat (insert whatever word you like – whole, healthy, slow) food.” In the article, Virginia Sole-Smith, a self-described recovering food writer, admits that such extreme food restricting is another form of body dysmorphia. Many food writers, and bloggers as magazines and newspapers died, became nutritionists who would try to sell us some image of clean food that is linked to conservation and social justice; not just another vain attempt at losing weight through the latest diet scheme.

We can save the ozone layer if we only give up __________.

Save the ocean, only eat wild caught __________.

Once the organic farming movement joined forces with the health and wellness community, and Oprah took on cattle farmers, we were prime for a revolution. Food could cure just about anything! “The Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami, Florida, which conducts industry research, calculates that the worldwide “wellness economy” is now worth $3.7 trillion.”

The Bride and I were just discussing how easily integrative medicine, with an evidence-based practice, can slide into quackery. This was while I was drinking my chai tea, and after my T’ai Chi class!

The Flapper taught me that food is love… And So It Is… in all its pesky forms. There may be some “Toxic” chemicals you want to clean off veggies before serving – “Toxic” being the “Word of the Year.” And I was so sure it was going to be “Curate;” as in, you don’t have to be a museum director to curate things anymore.

If you haven’t watched “Salt Fat Acid Heat” on Netflix, you must do so NOW!! And for my Tuscany peeps – the first episode is in ITALY!!! https://www.netflix.com/title/80198288

Happy Thanksgiving to all y’all! Here is a picture from Italy which explains why I hope no one in our family will ever be vegan. All hail our Pecorino Cheesemaker



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Basketball for a four year old? Well, the Love Bug is almost five and will be starting Kindergarten soon, and she definitely is tall for her age. A mom in her preschool class recruited her for the summer league. Still, it was hilarious watching her team play back to back games last night. Some girls keep their arms up and run, some actually grab the ball and dribble, and some have learned to shoot!

Followed by another Predators win. Pittsburgh 1, Nashville 4 SCORE

Yes, I’m in Nashville. And who knew TN had an NHL team, right? https://www.nhl.com/predators Everywhere we went people were wearing their logo – that’s a saber-toothed tiger I think?

With two major sports teams in town, and lots of gorgeous parks, three YMCAs and a Greenway and city bikes, I was surprised the Music City came up only 42 on the American Fitness Index (AFI) list of healthiest cities this year, http://www.americanfitnessindex.org. It is based somewhat on per person spending on parks and obesity-related diseases. Number 1 this year is Minneapolis, so here’s a big shout out to my brother Dr Jim! And congrats to our friend Steffanie, an elected Commissioner at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board!

On the nine hour drive to TN Bob and I listened to a This American Life podcast titled “Tell Me I’m Fat.” https://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/589/tell-me-im-fat

It was about fat shaming and women telling their stories of acceptance and/or denial. One categorized the condition, saying some just have to lose 20 lbs, some are Lane Bryant fat, then there are the morbidly obese. She called herself “super morbidly obese.”

One woman lost weight fast with a little help from phentermine, and she’s still taking it only now she copped to having to buy it in Mexico or online…

I looked at Bob, and he said she may actually be damaging her heart. That same woman longed for her former fat self, the happier, less worried and uptight model of her thinner self. She felt less authentic, like an imposter in a thin-suit. She worried her husband never would have dated her former self…

Wanting to stay strong, ease my back pain and lose that final 10 pounds…I found myself on the stationary bike at the Y yesterday, and I started talking with the woman next to me. We talked about travel and our kids, she’s about to be a grandmother and just had knee replacement surgery. We had such a good time talking and biking and our workouts flew by so fast we agreed to meet for coffee! We had an instant connection, both of us had married our first loves, only her hubby is an NFL coach!

For years I’ve been going to a gym in VA and never met anyone. Maybe it’s because I don’t play tennis, or maybe it’s because I just didn’t try. I’ve got a new attitude, thank you very much Patti LaBelle and Nashville.  You’re just a small town, with mighty miniature basketball stars wrapped up in a big shiny predator bow.

Here is the little hoopster helping her baby brother start preschool! IMG_0744




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How to begin? My Mother used to tell me a couple of things, repeatedly, that I’m sure she never said to my brothers: 1) “You have to suffer to be beautiful,” and 2) “You can never be too rich or too thin.”  I’m afraid that while combing and trying to braid my daughter’s wavy, sand-soaked hair at the beach I may have repeated her first message. Here is the Bride and Bug considering beauty products. I hope she doesn’t hear that message about beauty. photo copy 3

But I tried to banish the second from my mind.

In fact you can be too thin, and if you care to read about one woman’s struggle, Mika Brzezinski and her friend Diane Smith co-wrote a book together, Obsessed. It’s like Jack Spratt and his wife; Brzezinski went from a size 2 to a size 6 (and yes, I guffawed at this) and Smith, a fellow TV journalist, lost 75 pounds.

But Mika was honest about how she may be perceived as the mad, “skinny bitch.” They talked candidly about food as an addiction problem, as a public health problem when I happened to tune into their conversation one morning on Morning Joe, and it was enlightening. They were 2 sides of the same coin, a woman’s body image and our country’s dysfunctional obsession with food. It all started when Mika confronted her friend about her weight gain, calling her “fat and obese,” in case she didn’t hear the fat part. Smith called her a “food Nazi.” And then Mika confessed to a life-long struggle with anorexia and bulimia

Mika said, “How I eat, diet, and look has tied me up in knots my entire life, and I know I am not alone. I have been held hostage by food since I was thirteen years old. My body started filling out more than the figures of other girls in my class, and that set off what has become a thirty-year battle with my body image. Food has been my enemy.” http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/05/06/an-excerpt-from-mika-brzezinskis-obsessed/

My psychologist brother Jim has often said that people are either wrapped too tight or too loose. I worried when the Bride went off to Duke. She was surrounded by Type A young women who were wrapped pretty tight with body dysmorphia – exercising too much, throwing up in bathrooms. It was hard not to see it and not to buy into it. But my daughter is a smart cookie IMHO, and moderation was always her approach. I once heard a friend of hers in med school describe some food as “bad,” and I couldn’t help lecturing her about how food can’t be “bad” or good for that matter. Applying a moral code to ice cream for instance is ridiculous. But putting the spoon down before the pint is finished is a matter of choice. And I realize now, it’s much harder for some of us.

I had a dance teacher who used to say, “I only need a taste,” to be satisfied. What will power, what control she had over her hunger. I was always thin, without trying. I would drink a frappe in Boston on my way back from a dance class. But approaching 40, I was unhappy about moving from MA, I had put on about 10 pounds (don’t laugh, I was a size 10 and these things seemed important at the time) and took my anger out on food. I found an aerobic dance class I loved and started restricting food until I got down to 118, a size 6, with my clavicle protruding. Oh, the attention I got. People said I looked so good and yet I was desperate inside. Thankfully, my self-abusive relationship with food didn’t last long. We moved out of a suburb I hated to live close to the beach, in a town that was very much like New England. And I started writing again for another newspaper.

My feminist brain just loves to think – would this ever happen to a man? Do people ask men how they will juggle this new job with a family? Does that shirt make them look fat? So, here is a little play on that Dove commercial about women and body image. Enjoy!


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Have you ever tried to lose weight? And when you did, have you slowly watched the pounds pile back on? Yesterday, my recumbent bike reading at the gym included the latest installment of The Atlantic. It’s the June issue with a big ice cream cone on the cover that is crossed out by a black mark and titled, “The End of Temptation.” I thought it would be all about how Bloomberg is trying to demonize giant-sized Slurpees or something similar. Instead it was simple – it was about B F Skinner, behavior modification, and weight loss.

Did I mention I was a Psych major back in the day? I absolutely loved behavior modification, but unfortunately during the Cold War Skinner’s ideas came under attack for being too Fascist. It was perfectly OK to reward rats for a certain behavior, but manipulating people with psychological strategies was thought to be a no no. Study after study showed that his techniques worked well on annoying habits like nail biting. Then Skinner’s theory made headlines in the treatment of autism. Now in light of our current obesity epidemic, a leading researcher in weight loss, Jean Harvey-Berino, said it best in the Atlantic article; http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/06/the-perfected-self/8970/ by David Freedman, “The Perfected Self.”

“Willpower doesn’t work…What works heavily relies on Skinner – shaping behavior over time by giving feedback, and setting up environments where people aren’t stimulated to eat the wrong foods.”

Oy there it is again, “Wrong Foods.” So there’s right and wrong foods. I overheard a woman next to me at the gym on the same day say to her friend, “The kids love going to Denise’s house, she doesn’t lock her pantry.” Her little group laughed and I silently cried for her children with a locked pantry. They were a modern day Hansel and Gretel. Should we all turn Vegan and eat only raw food? Is it time for parents to become the food police? How do you think of food? If food = love, which is kinda how I think of it, then withholding certain foods would not be a good thing. I chose never to have candy in the house when the kids were growing up, so going out to the candy store became an event….and seeing Grandma Ada who always had a little candy tucked away somewhere was equally thrilling. Making candy forbidden may have caused problems, but it wasn’t absolutely forbidden.

Getting back to willpower and weight loss, Freedman writes poetically about the current apps and programs that actually work. He talks about scales that are wired to our computers, the “Lose It!” app, and the one affordable program that seems to work, Weight Watchers. He says it is very Skinnerian only with gossamer walls. Skinner’s subjects were kept in a glass cage, where everything they did was monitored, every behavior they wanted to reinforce was rewarded. Who would want to live in a glass cage? Well it seems we do, remotely at least! More and more people are using these computer programs to lose weight. Take a look at Shape Up RI http://www.shapeupri.org/ started by some Brown medical students. And even good ole Weight Watchers has joined the fold and has added a bar scanning app to their online program. Thank you Jennifer Hudson. Yes sir, we can “share” every pound lost, and every exercise point gained with everyone!

I say if it works, Bravo! Go ahead and manipulate your environment and your smart phone to lose weight. But I am reminded of that little girl, the Bride’s friend who didn’t see the need for going on a walk to nowhere. Remember her? Well, her mom (my friend) was a lifer at Weight Watchers, and she told me once that her problem eating started in college. It seems her mom doled out only 2 Oreos at a time; so, when she was on her own in college, she ate the whole bag! This made me happy I didn’t dole out candy from a locked pantry!

Our Bride loves yoga, and our Rocker loves the holy guitar. Unfortunately I love to cook and I hate tracking everything I put in my mouth…maybe I’ll just walk more to start! And put on my gossamer wings and dance, dance, dance!

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