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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Restaurant Challenge

Bobbie with sisters Go and Jean, May 2010
The Mayo Clinic Web site gives the following tips on adopting a healthy lifestyle:

Control portion sizes and the total number of calories you consume.
Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
Limit sweets and salt.
Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
Include physical activity in your daily routine, if approved by your doctor.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Basically that’s the plan I’m on, too. Yes, people have asked for the details of my food plan, but it’s too lengthy to tell in total in one blog, so you’ll get bits and pieces as I go along. Basically, it’s what I said before and what’s listed in the Mayo Clinic site: More fruits and vegetables, fewer starches, controlled portion sizes, and fewer sugar-laden desserts or snacks.

Today my food challenge involved a free lunch at Carraba’s Italian Grill. I went to a financial seminar, one of the many offered to old farts like me, in hopes that we will entrust our life savings to some stranger who calls himself a financial planner. This seminar, however, promised to explain the advantages of rolling a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA, and I wanted to learn more about that subject. I learned the tax benefits are tremendous. Yes, when I started my IRAs, I was told that the value of a traditional IRA was that the contributions were tax-deductible, and the money in the IRA would be taxed only when I took it out after retirement, when I would be in a lower tax bracket. The problem, however, is that my house is paid off, and I have fewer deductions, and my business is doing well, and I have no intention of retiring fully for a long time, so when I reach the age that I am forced to take distributions, I’ll probably be in a higher tax bracket, not a lower one. At least a Roth IRA doesn’t force you to take deductions. All that stuff is financial mumbo-jumbo and not related to my food plan, however, so I’ll think about it later.

For the moment, my challenge at the restaurant was to choose from the three options available. All were forms of chicken, so that part was good. One was a chopped-chicken-stuffed ravioli with no vegetables. No vegetables? No brainer. Pasta and meat do not make a well-balanced meal. That choice was out. The other two choices both involved grilled chicken and grilled zucchini, but one had a cream sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, and the other featured cheese and mushrooms. I opted for the second one, and when it arrived, I drained most of the cheese from the middle of the chicken and moved it to the side of the plate. I was glad to see the portions were sensible in size, although my intent in restaurants will be always to eat less than is offered, whether or not I take home the leftovers. I ate slowly, so my stomach would fill up. When I finished eating, I had left the cheese, some of the chicken, and a little of the zucchini on the plate. For dessert, participants were given a mini cannoli in a take-away cup. I took mine; I never turn down food, but I haven’t eaten it yet. Later I may taste it and decide whether to eat it a mouthful at a time over the next couple of days. If it’s not wonderful, though, I’ll toss it out. I’m not crazy about mascarpone anyway. It’s defined in the dictionary as “a rich, fatty Italian cream cheese.” I’d rather have rich, fatty ice cream. In small portions, of course. That's the thing about my food plan; I can eat anything at all, but portion size rules.

When I got back home I went online and discovered how many people had read my blog and sent supportive notes through Facebook, cheering me on in my plan to reach a better weight. My heart warmed. Believe me, I pondered the wisdom of going public about my decision to start a food plan. I knew that if I failed in my goal or backslid, everyone would know it. I decided to go public, though, so I would feel the inherent pressure of my peers. In the past few years whenever I started a food plan, I told no one, thinking I wanted to surprise people with my lower weight. Every time I tried that method, though, I surprised only myself with how quickly I lost my motivation and went off the plan.

You, my friends, are helping me pile on the motivation to reach my goals. I need every bit of support, motivation, and encouragement I can get. You are the rails beneath my train, and I appreciate you more than you know.

Speaking of rails, let me get off track for a moment. This morning, despite the orthopedic doctor’s advice to take two Aleve with breakfast, I took only one ibuprofen. I hope to keep my medication level as low as possible. Even so, I felt well enough after lunch to take a side trip to a specialty lighting store, where I hoped to find an attractive replacement for the ugly builder-grade fluorescent light in my kitchen. When I walked into the huge lighting store, two young women sat far in the back, well behind a counter. I approached them, and one of the women stood and walked toward me. I assumed she was coming to help me; instead, she slipped through a side door and disappeared. The other woman remained seated, looked busy. Humph.

I wandered the large store on my own, ducking beneath hundreds of chandeliers and other hanging fixtures, walking and walking, despite my sore knees, before I finally located the fluorescent lighting section in the farthest room at the back. Alas, when I looked at the few meager selections, I had already seen almost everything there at Lowe’s or The Home Depot, and at about half the price. My sore knees and I walked back through showroom after showroom, reached the front of the store, and left, all without anyone even saying “Boo!” Oh, well, chalk that excursion up to “exercise.” Even the Mayo Clinic said to include physical activity in my daily routine.

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