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Friday, December 31, 2010

Mini Goal Achieved! Happy New Year!

                             Christmas Day at the Christmas House--before all the food was left behind

Goals—written and publicly declared goals with deadlines—work for me. I don’t know why it is, but it sets the universe in motion, and when I write down my goals and declare them to others, invariably I reach my goals. A few months ago, I set a mini goal to weigh 200 pounds or less by the New Year. I did not specify whether I would reach that goal by New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, though. I gave myself a one-day leeway. When I reached that goal early, I reset my mini goal to weigh 195 or less by New Year’s.

I then hit a dreaded plateau, and for a month my weight hung around at 200 pounds. Things looked dim for meeting my newly established mini goal. Ah, I finally broke out of the plateau and lost a few more pounds, but Christmas week arrived. I spent days cooking and tasting food that I would serve my guests on Christmas Day, and several guests brought more food to put out on Christmas Day. I had to taste everything, of course, but I managed to lose weight anyway. What you don’t know, though, is that after everyone left my house on Christmas evening, they left my refrigerator filled to capacity with delicious food, including sweets. I hate to waste food, and some of it definitely did not follow the food plan I have been on. I have been avoiding high-calorie or sugar-laden food and all starches, and there I sat with homemade bread from my brother, homemade fudge from my cousin Joe, homemade brownies and chocolate-covered pretzels from a friend, and all the ham, turkey, stuffing, and other things I’d cooked, including potato salad and stuffing. Yes, there sat all the sweets and starches I’d been successfully spurning for months. I n addition I had cole slaw, carrot salad, chopped chicken liver, collards, squash casserole, spinach pie, and you name it. All these treats sat in the refrigerator of someone who lives alone—and who is trying to lose weight. It became a nightmare. I stood outside myself and saw me loading down my plate at mealtimes and filling my stomach. I not only overate, but also ate foods I’ve been avoiding for six or more months.

The good thing about mini goals, though, is this: having one gives me a mission and a deadline. Once I set that mini goal, I strongly desired to meet it, so when I saw that I was gaining weight, rather than losing it, all the pigging out and unconscious eating stopped immediately. Back I went to salads, wise choices, and portion control, and guess what: it worked. This morning, December 31, 2010, the scale reached 195. One hundred ninety-five pounds by New Year’s. I did it!

On the one hand, one hundred ninety-five pounds still sounds awful, but on the other hand, it means I have dropped fifty pounds of unhealthy fat since July 15. Fifty pounds! I can’t even lift fifty pounds anymore, yet for years I had been dragging it around on my body, everywhere I went, including up and down the stairs several times a day. No wonder I felt tired, worn out, and in pain all the time.

Having lost fifty pounds means I’m more than halfway to my goal weight of 150. I have only forty-five more pounds to go. With fifty pounds under my belt—or I should say no longer under my belt—then forty-five pounds sounds easy to lose. I know I can do it. I can reach 150. I feel elated.

Oh, and I had two great things happen this week. One, I bought two pair of pants that fit me nicely, and they are size 16. I used to wear size 22/24. The second great thing is that a complete stranger struck up a conversation with me and eventually said, “Tell your husband he has a beautiful wife. Are you married?” I didn’t know anything about the man, so I didn’t admit I’m single; I just thanked him and walked away, but what joy I felt that someone thought I was pretty and flirted with me! Such things haven’t happened to me in years. I didn’t lose weight to look better, but to feel better. Looking better is just a bonus.

I haven’t decided on my next mini goal yet. I’ve spent too much time this week setting my overall goals for 2011. One of those is to lose at least thirty more pounds in the New Year. I realize the weight will drop off slower as I get closer to my goal, so I’m giving myself time. I’ll report when I set my next mini goal. For now, I’m celebrating having reached my latest mini goal, and what a way to celebrate! The whole neighborhood will be setting off firecrackers in commemoration of my having met my mini goal. Oh, my neighbors may think they’re celebrating New Year’s, but I know they are really celebrating my success.

Happy New Year, all!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tip: Know Good Oils; Use No Bad Oils

Christmas has come and gone, now, and at a time when the average person gains weight, I lost two pounds. Such losses call for severe discipline over the holidays, when calorie-laden bring-a-dish parties and buffets multiply and cookies, cakes, and candies abound. Even I fell prey to a dish of pretzels sprinkled with peppermint chips and coated in white chocolate. My so-called friends, Roger and Cheryl, were real friends, until they brought those bedeviling pretzels into my house on Christmas Day, along with brownies and cheese chunks. I put out a buffet for my friends and relatives, and some bring food to add to the larder. As a result, all day long, my guests (twenty or more of them) ate turkey, ham, dressing, squash casserole, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, chopped chicken liver, sliced tomatoes with basil and mozzarella cheese, carrot salad, artichoke-heart dip, and spinach pie. I prayed the guests would also eat all the desserts, as well, including those peppermint-chip, white-chocolate-coated pretzel slices. I don’t even like pretzels, but add chocolate, and I scarf them down. Add peppermint, and they’re singing my name. After the main meal, I also set out a giant éclair, a pear-glazed cake, fudge, and brownies, and as a result, perhaps, not many people sampled those special pretzels. Please, please let them be gone when everyone leaves, I begged silently.

Meanwhile, I stayed aware of my food choices, and while I probably overate a little, I didn’t stuff myself, and I avoided every one of the mouth-watering desserts, but those pretzels—those darned pretzels—begged me to taste them. I took a small chip, and the cycle began. I know for a fact that eating sugar makes me want more sugar, and sure enough, soon I found myself walking by the plate and taking one more little chip, and then a bigger piece, and then a whole pretzel, and the dance lasted for two days. Thankfully the quantity in the original bag was small to begin with, and I stretched out my treats, one piece at a time, maybe once every couple of hours, but by the day after Christmas, I knew I had to stop, and I did. Today I haven’t had any, even though many pretzel chips still remain on the plate, quietly calling to me.

My rule at Christmas is “no gifts.” We’re all old enough to buy whatever we want or need or want, so I’ve relieved everyone of the gift-exchange burden to create a guilt-free, stress-free Christmas. Nevertheless, my cousins Bryan and Michael brought me a hostess gift and denied it was a Christmas gift, and it was a bottle of exotic olive oil. I cannot wait to taste it! Olive oil is one of the few oils that are actually good for you, and I use it often, whenever I cook. It makes a great dip for bread instead of butter or margarine, as well, although I’ve been limiting my bread intake lately.

What about oils? Which ones are okay, when you’re trying to lose weight? I rarely click on ads on the Internet, but one caught my eye, a promise to explain some of the “diet” foods that could actually make us gain weight. I had to listen to a long, long promotional advertisement to get to the good information the ad promised, but in the end it was worth it. It promotes a series of e-books created by a nutritionist who touts eating fat-burning, rather than fat-storing foods, and guess which foods she says turn into sugar in our bodies that our bodies then store as fat. Yep, exactly the foods I’ve been avoiding on my food plan: pasta, bread, white rice, hydrogenated oils, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, but she added one I hadn’t considered: Canola oil.

I recall all the hype in the 1970s about Canola oil and all its healthy benefits. It supposedly was high in omega-3, which was good for us. My, how information changes once you look into it. Turns out Canola oil is cheap, which is why so many processed-food manufacturers embraced it.

Here’s the whole scoop. Canola oil is made from genetically modified rapeseed plants. Rape oil is used as a lubricant, fuel, soap, and synthetic rubber base, and even to brighten colors in magazines. It is an industrial oil, not a food. Rape oil, when consumed, can cause emphysema, respiratory distress, anemia, constipation, irritability, and blindness. Obviously rapeseed oil is great for lamps and as a mosquito repellant, but products from rapeseed were not fit for human consumption until someone in Canada genetically modified the plant. In addition to the genetic modification, the process of making Canola oil involves a combination of high-temperature mechanical pressing and solvent extract, usually using hexane. Even after considerable refining, traces of the solvent remain. Like most vegetable oils, Canola oil also is bleached, degummed, deodorized, and refined at very high temperatures, a process that can alter the good omega-3 content in the oil and in certain conditions make the trans fat level as high as 40 percent. I also read that many products that claim they include olive oil, such as some mayonnaise manufacturers claim, actually contain mostly Canola oil and only a trace of or no olive oil.

By the way, the reason Canola is capitalized is that rape oil wasn’t exactly pleasing to consumers, so someone came up with the term Canola to refer to the oil originally created in Canada; basically Canada oil.

Olive oil, on the other hand, while expensive, is a natural juice that preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins, and properties of the olive fruit. Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is, freshly pressed from the fruit, without all the processing required of Canola and other oils. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels. No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated fats as olive oil. Whereas Canola can potentially cause problems for some people who use it, olive oil has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil even activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs, so it lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

An important component of the healthy Mediterranean Diet, olive oil, it seems to me, should be one of the few oils that someone trying to stay healthy should use. Other healthy oils include butter (yes, real butter, not the fake, processed stuff called margarine) and coconut oil. Other oily foods that are fine to eat on a healthy food plan include raw nuts, avocado, and even eggs. All yummy stuff. Nothing manufactured or genetically altered and renamed to avoid negative marketing implications.

Okay, so how did I do after cooking (and tasting) for two and a half days and then enduring a gluttonous Christmas Day? Not bad at all. I lost two pounds this week. Hooray for me!

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 198
Goal weight for this week: 197
Actual weight this week: 196
Total pounds lost: 49
Goal weight for next week: 195
Goal weight: 150

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tip: Don’t Be a Statistic!

Oh, how lovely it is to see the dial on the scale dropping again after my month-long plateau! Again I’m energized and excited about my goal of reaching a healthy weight.

Yesterday I had lunch with good friends who complimented me on my new figure, even as I know I have so much more to go before that figure will be in alignment with what it should be for my height. I accepted their compliments, though, which always feel good, and we ate a scrumptious lunch without overdoing the calories or starches. Granted, we ate plenty of both, but not too many of either.

This past week I spent some time iced in and had time on my hands, so I followed a few threads on the Internet. I discovered that a few years ago, Nestlé, one of the world's largest makers of chocolate, bought weight-loss company Jenny Craig for $600 million. I wonder why its commercials don’t tell us this mixed-up piece of information. Nestlé for weight loss? Confusing. For more see

My friend Deb pointed me toward SparkPeople, a free diet site filled with great-sounding, healthy recipes. There’s no charge for any of it, either. See I spent time downloading some mouth-watering recipes. Thank you, Deb.

As long as I’m into reporting bits and pieces today, here’s a note I received a few days before Thanksgiving from Edwina Cowgill, one of my blog followers:

I’m having nineteen people at my house Thanksgiving Day; I’ll be cooking all day Wednesday and Thursday morning. Here are a few things I plan to do to help me through the cooking and lunch:

- Have fresh veggies to nibble on while I cook.

- Eat a cup of squash (filling and few calories) just before serving lunch

- Have fresh fruit for dessert

She also said, “I love your determination and drive and look forward to reading more about your journey.”

Hey, I appreciate her determination. The holidays are the hardest time to lose weight but the perfect time to be on a weight-loss plan. One of the things I learned on the Internet is that the average North American gains seven to twelve pounds over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Egad! I do not plan to be a statistic. I am going against that average and losing weight during the holidays.

This week I am cooking for and serving about twenty-five people on Christmas Day, and while I’ll make my usual recipes that don’t spare the calories, I’ll be cautious about what I put on my plate. Oh, yes, at least half the turkey tail will be on that plate; I can’t resist a good turkey tail, but I won’t scarf down the potato salad or stuffing in the quantities I used to consume. In fact I won’t consume anything in the quantities I used to consume. I’ll be conscious of my portions, and I’ll spurn the sugary desserts. As an alternative, I will offer fruit for folks like me, who want something sweet, but not something filled with empty calories and devoid of fiber. Yeah, baby, bring on the holidays! I can beat ’em!

Here’s this week’s weigh-in information:
Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 199
Goal weight for this week: 198
Actual weight this week: 198
Total pounds lost: 47
Goal weight for next week: 197
Goal weight: 150

Mini goal: 195 by New Year’s Eve (former mini goal of weighing 200 by New Year’s Eve was met early, so I set a new mini goal, also subject to change)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tip: Diet-Buyer Beware!

Some people may say that only two things are certain in life, death and taxes, but I submit a third absolute certainty: Advertising for diet plans and exercise equipment will for certain hit the airwaves on January 1 of every year and continue throughout the month or longer. Why? Because advertisers know that gullible folks like me make New Year’s resolutions, swearing that we will finally begin dieting and exercising and get our weight down. Advertisers also know that by January 1 the general public has eaten its way through huge holiday meals, along with all the extra cookies, pies, candy, chips, and eggnog that proliferate at every holiday gathering. Yep, advertisers know we’re bloated and overloaded with guilt and more likely to fall prey to a promise of a new body, regardless of the outrageous expense.


This year I won’t be one of the hundreds of thousands of people enticed by such commercials, because I have a jump on the whole weight-loss concept. When those ads run, I will feel smug in the knowledge that I’ve learned how to eat correctly to lose weight, and I don’t need expensive and often ineffective gimmicks to take control of my life and my weight. I am in control, now. I laugh at your ads. Bring them on!

Before people start new diets, they should get all the facts. Here’s a site where users write reviews of the top diets, and the site lists the diets in the order of their rating:  It of course doesn’t list my Don’t You Dare Call It a Diet, because my plan isn't something you have to buy. It is simply a sensible way to eat. What could possibly be wrong with it?

Read all the negative reviews about all those diets, though, and you’ll see why I created my own food plan, without expense, inconvenience, or gimmicks. I especially felt repulsed by the side effects of Alli reported on this Web site. Ugh! Buyer beware.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bobbie's in One-derland!

A few days ago a friend I haven’t talked to in a while asked me a question no one dared to ask me six months ago, before I started my food plan. “What’s your current weight?” she asked.

I glumly responded, “I’ve been at a plateau for four weeks. I’m stuck at two hundred.”

“Wait till you reach Wonderland,” I thought she said.

I didn’t respond at first, and then it hit me what she actually said: “Wait till you reach One-derland.”

Oh, how clever! I’ll have to use that in my blog, if I ever do reach One-derland. I had started to doubt it, after four weeks of staying the same.

Plateaus are common in weight-loss programs. The body reaches a stage where it thinks it’s starving, and it calls out all its forces to hold onto the fat it still has stored. We who want to lose weight can’t let those plateaus bother us, though. We must keep pursuing our weight-loss goals and stay on track. Most failed dieters gave up when they saw the scale not moving for a while, but when we give up, the scale starts moving up. When we give up, we lapse into old habits. We add a little more food to our plates (remember, the body thinks it’s starving, even though the mirror proves it’s not so). We may say we’ll get back on the plan tomorrow or we come up with some other excuse, and soon the weight adds up.

I held to my belief that the plateau of 200 pounds was temporary, even as the days and weeks passed, and even yesterday, my weight still held at 200. I’ve said I would report my progress every Monday, but yesterday I took a friend in for oral surgery and then took her to my house so she would not be alone while she recovered from the anesthetic. As a result I never had time to write a blog entry yesterday. Somewhere in the back of my passive-aggressive mind, I was thinking that maybe if I waited one more day, that dial on the scale would finally go down a notch. I knew it was tottering on the edge, slightly less than 200, but not a full pound less, yet.

It worked! This morning I entered One-derland! The scale finally read 199. I decided that I created this blog, created my own food plan, and made my own promise to write at least once a week, so I am in control of everything related to my food plan and blog. I gave myself permission to fudge (Whoops! Maybe I should use a less-fattening word!) and report my weight today, Tuesday, instead of yesterday, when today is such a milestone day. I’m in One-derland! Hooray!

Oh, before I end this blog entry, let me tell you a tale that could have ended in dining disaster. Sunday I made a big dessert to take to a friend’s party. Outside, a light snow was falling, but I didn’t let it concern me. It was melting when it hit the streets, so I didn’t worry about it. Note that I live in Georgia, where we have no ability to clear the streets of snow, so I’m a wuss about driving in ice and snow. In addition, I live at a higher elevation than almost all my friends, so the weather in my area tends to be a little harsher than the weather at lower elevations. Nevertheless, I felt eager to see my friends, many of whom had been following my blog and congratulating me on my weight loss, so I got dressed and ready to go. I put the dessert in the car, and only then did I notice the snow had started sticking to my driveway.

Yikes! I have the world’s steepest driveway, and when it ices over, there’s no traveling up or down it safely. Dare I leave the house to attend a party for a few hours, knowing that while I was gone my driveway, and indeed my whole county, might become impassable? Would I enjoy the party, knowing that I might have trouble getting home? Is any party worth risking life and limb, not to mention automobile?

Reluctantly I decided not to leave, not to join my friends, and I called the host with my apologies. Thankfully he had made a fruit salad, so the partiers didn’t suffer for dessert. I would have loved that fruit salad too, I’m sure.

Next problem: what should I do with my giant éclair dessert? If I kept it, I would be tempted to chow down on it, and the recipe serves twenty people—or one very hungry, overweight person! The solution hit me while I walked the dog through the snow flurries. My next-door-neighbor works in a busy veterinarian’s office. She could take the dessert to work the next day and serve it to coworkers and clients, and I wouldn’t be tempted any longer. When I offered it to her, she gladly accepted, and I felt five pounds lighter, simply getting it out of my house and in her hands.

Disaster averted!

Okay, on another subject, now that I’m at 199 on December 14, I may have to re-evaluate my mini goal, although I won’t change it just yet. A while back I set a mini goal of weighing 200 by New Year’s Eve, but I hit 200 earlier than I expected, so I reset the mini goal to weigh 195 by New Year’s Eve. Immediately after setting my new mini goal, I waltzed into a four-week plateau wherein I didn’t lose a single pound. Now, finally, I’ve seen a breakthrough to 199, but I have only two and a half weeks until New Year’s, so I may not meet my mini goal of 195 by then. Instead, I’ll rest on my laurels for having met my first mini goal so much earlier than expected. See? I make all the rules, so I can change them whenever I feel like it! Who can challenge me?

Starting weight: 245

Weight last week: 200
Goal weight for this week: 199
Actual weight this week: 199
Total pounds lost: 46
Goal weight for next week: 198
Goal weight: 150

Mini goal: 195 by New Year’s Eve (former mini goal of weighing 200 by New Year’s Eve was met early, so I set a new mini goal, also subject to change, now!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tip: At a Plateau? Change Something!

Weight Watchers recently announced its new points system, and guess what it considers freebies, no points at all toward your daily “eating” score: non-starchy vegetables. Yup, exactly what I’ve been eating, mostly.

Confession time: I haven’t been perfect. Once I hit 200, I celebrated and felt great about myself. That milestone meant I had lost forty-five pounds. Maybe I’ve been patting myself on the back too much, though. I’ve gotten a little lax on the eating thing. That is, I’ve eaten more than four ounces of protein at dinnertime several times in the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, I had a little—just a little, but still, probably calorie-laden—hot chocolate. I added a little hot cocoa to a cup of spiced chai tea, the day before, on the recommendation of a reader, and in this cold weather it warmed me up and tasted terrific. I strongly believe that sugar begets sugar, though. Once I eat a little sugar, I feel okay about eating a little more sugar, and then, if I don’t watch out, I will crave it. The sugar stops here, then. No more for me.

My overdosing on protein and nipping a little hot chocolate here and there resulted in another week without a full pound lost. Yes, there was a little movement downward on the scale dial. Perhaps I lost a quarter of a pound or so, but I report only the whole pounds, so as far as this blog is concerned, I again lost nothing this week, for the third week in a row.

What’s a person on a weight-loss plateau to do? Research, that’s what.

I read a bunch of conflicting information from other Web sites and resources. Some said that when you hit a plateau, just wait it out. Others said it’s time for a change (so you aren’t following the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results). The concept of change hits home for me. I evaluated what I’ve been doing the past few weeks, and I’ve fallen into my old pattern of forgetting to eat breakfast. Whoops! Breakfast, I’ve learned sets our metabolism for the day. If I skip breakfast, my body thinks its starving, so it slows down my metabolism in an attempt to “save me” from starving to death. Oh, thanks, body!

Here’s my promise to myself this week, then: I will remember to eat breakfast. I will not eat unrefined sugar (I will eat fruits, but they don't count as unrefined sugar). That’s what I’ll change this week and see what happens. Oh, and I’d better not eat as much protein at dinner. Ignoring my own eating guidelines has been foolish of me.

By the way, “friend” Scott Isaacs, endocrinologist and weight-loss specialist on Facebook to get up-to-the minute information on weight-loss and healthy eating. Scott’s my cousin, and he’s constantly researching and reporting the latest information for people like me who want to lose lard and get healthier.

Let’s hope that next week’s weight-in shows better results, but here we go for this week (again).

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 200
Goal weight for this week: 199
Actual weight this week: 200
Total pounds lost: 45
Goal weight for next week: 199
Goal weight: 150

Mini goal: 195 by New Year’s Eve (former mini goal of weighing 200 by New Year’s Eve was met early, so I set a new mini goal)