Monday, August 27, 2007

hell is other people

In Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit, which I had to read for Philosophy 101, three people who die and expect to go to Hell find themselves in a drawing room. No fire, no demons, no pitchforks. Just three people locked in a room with no windows, no mirrors. The lights are always on, they can never sleep, and they can never get away from each other. This play is the origin of the famous line, "Hell is other people."

I always have a book on my nightstand, and right now it's Carolyn Myss's book Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul. So far I've only read the introduction -- Myss is a little long-winded so far -- but I am intrigued by one idea in it already. She writes that hell is identifying with the temporal self -- the collection of neuroses, worries, personality traits, and thoughts that most of us think of as who we are. She says that we can experience heaven on earth if we identify instead with the higher Self, a spark of the divine that is part of us and all things.

That's a lot for me to digest at the moment, but it is what reminded me of Sartre's play. If we can't see ourselves clearly (no mirrors) and are forever looking to other people to tell us who we are, knowing that they may be wrong about us but not able to see for ourselves, that does seem like hell to me. We might be able to fool people into thinking we are better than we are, but they could always wise up and see us just as we are. Or they may see us worse than we think we are, and we torture ourselves to show them that they are wrong, all the while not being sure that they really are. Or we start to accept that they are right.

This is the heartbreak of Weetabix's recent post in The Vault, Michele's anguish at chairs and the Urban Dictionary, Lori's worry that Fat Girl is the only language she knows how to speak,my annoyance at backwards compliments that suggest that I was always right to believe that there was Something Wrong With Me. And lots more of us.

I don't know a way out except to stop trying to see ourselves reflected through someone else's eyes. Learning ourselves from the inside out, from that spark that shines through all of our neuroses and personality flaws and problems.

I can see that I have a lot more reading to do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

a quick clarification about reviews

A response to my last post questioned the honesty of my review of products that I received for free. I think that a clarification of my review policy is in order.

Per my agreement with BlogHer Ads, I cannot do paid reviews or sponsored posts of any kind.
You are free to write your opinion about any product or service you’ve purchased. You may also accept for free and review any product(s) with a retail value of under $40 (U.S.) as long as you properly disclose that you were given the product.
This is fair. I think it would be unfair to review a product I had received for free without revealing that fact, and I think it's only fair to the readers of this blog to give my actual opinions of the products I review.

So far, I have done a total of one review of products I received for free, and I disclosed that fact in the very beginning of the post. I also only accepted the products because they were offered without strings attached. I gave my honest opinion of the items I tried. If I hadn't liked the products at all, I would have seen no point in writing about them.

The other books and items I have reviewed were things that I purchased myself. So far I have not been deluged with offers of freebies. I get emails quite often asking me to blog about a particular topic or website. I only rarely do this, and only if I genuinely am interested in the issue or information in question.

I write my blog for fun, and to connect with people who have interests similar to mine, not to make big money or to be a mouthpiece for some other person or company. I want the people who read this blog to be able to trust the things I write.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this policy. I'd also be interested to hear how other people are dealing with this issue.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

brownies, candies, and chips, oh my!

I'm not usually a big fan of diet snacks, but when the nice people at Linda's Diet Delites offered to send me a few of their snacks to try, no strings attached, I couldn't resist. Yesterday my box of goodies arrived. My husband selflessly offered to help me test the products, so we had a little tasting party.

We had two flavors of Glenny's Brownies, the Chocolate Chip Blondie and the Peanut Butter Brownie. We cut them both in half so that we could each try both flavors with our afternoon coffee. When I opened up the brownie, the smell immediately reminded me of a Little Debbie's Fudge Brownie. The taste and texture are very similar, and so are the serving sizes. The Glenny's brownie was nice and fudgy, with a rich chocolate flavor. The difference is, the Glenny's brownie is a slim 2 points, and a Little Debbie's brownie just barely squeaks in at the high end of 6 points. Plus, the ingredients in the Glenny's brownie are mostly organic real foods:

Water, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Cocoa, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chips, Organic Whole Eggs, Lemon Juice, Soy Fiber, Organic Wheat Gluten, Natural Chicory Root, Acacia Gum, Organic Egg Whites, Vinegar, Organic AA Butter, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Leavening, Natural Flavors
If you want a chocolatey snack, it's a good choice, especially for 2 points. The Glenny's brownie is much tastier than the Hostess 100-calorie packs, and contains better-quality ingredients. At $2.29 each, though, they are a little pricey. The blondie weighed in at only 1 point, but was not as tasty. We both noticed that the texture was a little off -- kind of rubbery. There weren't many chocolate chips, so the taste was sort of bland. I'd recommend choosing one of the brownie flavors instead.

As a bonus, we also got a few Gayle's Miracles candies in the box. The truffles are 30 calories and 1 gram of fat for a nice-sized piece. They were a little chewier than a typical truffle and had a nice, complex, fudge-like flavor. I loved both the dark chocolate and the cappucino, and my husband gave rave reviews to the chocolate raspberry. Two truffles are 1 point and they could definitely satisfy an intense chocolate craving.

Finally, we had a couple of salty snacks to try. They were the perfect thing to munch on while we did our Fantasy Football draft last night. The Spud Delites are just salty enough with a nice potato flavor. They remind me a little bit of Pringles, but they have a puffed shape. A 1.1-ounce serving is 2 points. I tried the Sea Salt flavor. The crisps are very tasty and would be a good snack to sneak into a movie. Again, the price is a little high, though not in comparison to concession stand snacks.

My very favorite item out of all the ones we tried were the Pretzel Crisps. They are sort of a combination between a pretzel and a chip. These aren't just good in comparison to other diet-friendly treats. They could stack up against just about anything in the snack aisle. At 2 points per serving, you wont' blow your diet if you're tempted to have more than the 10-11 crisp serving. The Everything flavor is nice and garlicky, with a toasty pretzel flavor and just the right amount of salt. And at a reasonable $3.29 for six servings, you might even consider sharing these. They'd be good with a low-calorie dip, but they have plenty of flavor on their own. (Weight Watchers has a version of these, but they are a little bland in comparison, and like all foods sold in meetings, they're very expensive.) I would definitely buy these again.

Overall, I found the Linda's Diet Delites site attractive and easy to navigate. They have a nice variety of products and provide package or product illustrations for all products. For some products, they provide photographs of the nutrition facts and ingredient lists, which are helpful to people with food allergies, or just people like me who don't want to eat foods with lots of high-tech ingredients. I would like to see these added for some of the other products, like the Glenny's Brownies. They do provide a selection of foods that are gluten-free, so adding information on other allergens might be a logical next step.

They also have a brick-and-mortar store in New Jersey, but traveling there to visit in person would be a little impractical for this girl from Toledo. If you go, tell them I said hello!

another look at Rethinking Thin

I finally read through all of Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin: The Science of Weight Loss -- And the Myths and Realities of Diets. The book was a real eye-opener. I had skimmed some of it, read some articles about it, and even have written about it here before. But actually reading through the whole book, a few things really struck me.

The first is that there are no new diets under the sun. Though we have a sense of the 1800s as a time when fat was all the rage -- actress Lillian Russell was considered a sex symbol at 200+ pounds -- many people still dieted. Though the beauty ideals were heavier than they are now, some people still had trouble maintaining a fashionable weight. There was a low carbohydrate diet that was, essentially, the same as Atkins' "New Diet Revolution." There were high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets. There were even low-protein diets -- which is the only one that hasn't seemed to have been resurrected lately. Maybe that's next. And just like now, there were hucksters who sold questionable and even dangerous substances to desperate people who wanted to lose weight.

The next thing that hits you like a ton of diet books is that with 200 years of dieting under our collective belts, we haven't really made much progress. The only thing that has really gotten thinner is our beauty ideals, especially for women. A study of Miss America data from the 1920s is revealing. The winners got taller, but their weights got lower.

In the 1920s, contest winners had body mass indexes that ranged from 20 to 25, slender but well within the range that is deemed a healthy range...More recently, some Miss America winners have body mass indexes as low as 16.9...The more relaxed male standard for fatness is seen in Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston's former husband anda model for male attractiveness. He is reportedly 6 feet tall and weighs 159 pounds. That gives hima body mass index of 21.6, healthy according to federal standards. If Brad Pitt had the same body mass index as Jennifer Aniston, 18.3, he would weigh only 135 pounds.
I'm not sure what Virginia Beckham or Paris Hilton's BMIs are, but I'm sure they're lower than Jennifer Aniston's. We are entering an era where the ideal body type for women is extremely underweight, something that statistics show is much more dangerous than being overweight, according to Kolata's research. This means that people who are in a healthy BMI range are still trying to lose weight to meet the underweight ideal.

Kolata's analysis of statistical studies demonstrates the difficulty of anyone losing weight beyond a certain genetically determined range. Twin studies and studies of adopted children show that genetics trump environment. Identical twins raised apart have very similar weights, and adopted children have weights closer to those of their biological parents than those of their adoptive ones. This is the part of the book that many people found discouraging. She also presents the radical idea that no one really knows if losing weight has the same health benefit as never being fat at all. People (and rats) who lose a lot of weight have a metabolism more like someone who is starving than that of someone who has always been thin.

The thing that I think Kolata fails to emphasize enough is that people aren't rats. I don't disagree with her basic ideas, but weight loss is very difficult to study because of the complexity of the human mind. It's also rare that a weight-loss study lasts more than a year or two, because of practical considerations.

Kolata focuses on hunger and metabolism as powerful drives that regulate body size. A lot of us, for various reasons, are eating for reasons other than hunger. I know I'm not the only person who has eaten dessert after Thanksgiving dinner, for example, even though my belly already felt like it might burst. I also find myself eating when I'm bored, lonely, angry, frustrated, or having fun with friends. Maybe instead of statistical studies, researchers should talk to dieters and find out what is really going on when they're eating.

There is no doubt that environmental factors also play a role. Food is also much more available than ever before, and in larger quantities. I was struck when shopping at the Home Depot by how many carts had empty soda bottles and candy wrappers in them. It made me wonder how we became a society where people thought they needed a snack while they shopped for caulk and staple guns. Sure, the store is huge, but I think I can cross it without provisions!

My personal theory is that as the beauty ideals get more impossible to maintain, more people label themselves "fat" and start acting in ways they think a fat person does. We have such all-or-nothing ideas about food -- as illustrated by "Fat March," where the trainers berated contestants who "splurged" on half a slice of pizza after a long day of marching. We're either dieting or blowing it. So, since most of us don't want to commit to a diet of dry grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli day after day, we decide we might as well supersize our fries. The ideals are unreachable, so why even try?

When I'm queen of the world, which I am sure is going to happen any day now, people would be treated with respect no matter what their size. People would live in communities where daily activity was fun and easy -- you could walk to the movies, work, or even the ice cream shop. There would be lots of parks and playgrounds and less four-lane roads. There would be bike trails that connected residential neighborhoods to schools and workplaces. Kids would go to small, high-quality schools where there was plenty of time for play and they served a wide range of food choices in the cafeteria. Restaurants would emphasize quality and variety over portion sizes. Fresh fruits and vegetables, not corn and soybeans, would be subsidized by the government. There would be universal health care and the standard workweek would be thirty hours. People would have lots of time to spend with their families and friends.

Would all of this stuff make people thinner? Who knows? Who cares? I think it would make them happier, and that's really the point, isn't it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

drawing the line

Weight Chart

I had been avoiding my weigh-in but it was time to make myself go. I could feel myself slipping and I knew I had gained. It was time to face up to it, and move on from there.

I've been giving myself lots of excuses why it's OK for me to pay less attention to my weight for now. I'm working on my dissertation, I am waiting to hear about potential jobs, I am contemplating a move... The truth is that all of this is true, but none of it makes me feel good about gaining weight. It sucks to feel clothes getting a little tighter and to know that I'm getting further from my goal instead of closer to it.

This is just plain silly. I had gotten so close to that 155 mark and gradually, one excuse at a time, I was heading away from it. So it stops here. I'm drawing the line. As of now I am going to start putting myself first again and not putting goldfish crackers ahead of my own personal goals.

I have kept my journal close to me and have been updating it today as I go along. I know what I'm going to have for dinner tonight, and I'm going to look through the kitchen and plan out the rest of the week later tonight. I did a short but symbolic workout in the pouring rain today (only 10 minutes of running, just to break the lazy cycle I've been in).

I'm not beating myself up here, I am just taking charge.

I'm glad I went to the meeting today. Weighing in, even though I didn't like the number, helped me set a boundary on the creeping gain and apathy I felt. And besides, they have a cute promotion now called "Passport to Success." It involves stickers, scratch-off lottery tickets, and prizes. They really do know me. I might acutally be more motivated at the thought of possibly winning a gift card or a vacation than I am by the possibility of actually losing the weight. Sad but true.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

should I talk to her about weight?

That's one of the teaser lines on Weight Watchers Magazine this month. They have a helpful guide to talking to your partner, your parent, your friend, your sibling, and your adult child about weight issues. Not your weight issues. Their weight issues. Do this, and I can guarantee that Christmas will be a little awkward this year.

Seriously, though, I struggle with this a little. Though I think the health risks of being a little bit overweight are probably overstated, there are people in my life whose lack of attention to their weight may be putting them at risk for serious problems. I think, though, that there is very little that I could say that might do any good, so I try not to meddle.

I have my own experience to inform my actions. I used to dread seeing my family, because on every visit I would hear well-intentioned comments that just tore my heart out. My sister would say, "What I really like about Weight Watchers is that you can eat anything." My father would tell me, "You know, I was overweight at your age and I know that it's no fun." I knew they were right, but I wasn't able to magically make the weight disappear. Whether or not what I was doing was working, natalie deeI wanted them to respect the fact that I was aware of the issue and didn't need further commentary. I finally told them that I didn't want to talk about it anymore, and ironically, started my first effective weight-loss efforts.

There were a few people whose suggestions probably did do some good. My doctor, for example, was hard to ignore. Though I did avoid him for a few years, I remembered his suggestion that I try Weight Watchers when I was ready to do something. Before I tried it, I posted questions on message boards and talked to people who had been successful losing 50 pounds or more. Talking to relative strangers was much easier than talking with close friends or relatives, whose concern was too easy to take as criticism.

I guess what I'm saying is that, though the scripts in WWM are thoughtfully and tactfully written, they are probably going to be helpful only to the people who who are already planning to make a change. We've all heard about the "Stages of Change" model. The readiness is all.

I think that the best thing that we can do for others is to be an example of success. When I was looking for weight-loss advice, the people I turned to weren't the ones who were looking for converts to a diet they just started -- they were the ones who had already done the work and really knew what it took.

I think that it's no coincidence that this article appeared at a time when Weight Watchers is trying to market itself more effectively to men (with the help of superhero spokesperson Greg Gurnberg). If you are a woman who is considering getting your husband to join Weight Watchers with you, I would warn you to reconsider. Weight loss is so much easier for men that it should be illegal. Think about how you will feel as you struggle to lose week after week, while he gets to goal in a month. Give yourself a head start, at least. Maybe you can let him join when you're five pounds away.

Friday, August 17, 2007

here is a good place to be

I'm sure that you may have noticed the lack of weigh-in news. Things are a little stalled right now. On Monday, I made major dissertation progress but hit the 100-calorie packs a little too hard while I was writing. I knew I would probably be up from all the salt and excess carby calories, and just couldn't face the scale. I decided to give myself a break and not torture myself. On the positive side, I hit a major milestone -- another chapter closer to a complete first draft.

I will be back at my meeting next Tuesday, no matter what kinds of misdemeanors I commit with goldfish crackers and chocolate cookie-type things. I don't want to get in the habit of hiding from the truth. This week has been an iffy one. I've been missing my points target pretty regularly. I've also been stiff and sore from sitting so much -- I haven't figured out how to type while jogging. Instead of risking an injury, I've decided to take a cue from the "Fat March" people and just do some walking. I'm not sure how these choices will affect my weight.

Speaking of "Fat March," since actually posted a comment asking me to keep watching, I'm going to give it another try on Monday. He asked so nicely and everything. In other viewing news, went to see "No Reservations" and was surprised to see how thin Catherine Zeta-Jones looked. She still looked beautiful, but she didn't have her knockout curvy figure anymore. Her butt looked completely flat. I caught a glimpse of my own figure in the mirror after the film and thought that though I'm not as fashionably thin as she is now, I do like having curves. Even if I'm not at goal weight yet, I thought I looked pretty darn good. If it takes me until after the dissertation is done to get serious about the weight loss again, so be it. Here is a pretty good place to be.

I'm thinking that once I turn in the last chapter of my first draft, I might give The Beck Diet Solution plan another try. I had really good losses while I was following it, despite my crabbiness about all the structure. I hear that there's a coming out right around the time I plan to defend my dissertation. Who knows, maybe it will have the extra insight I need to get the scale number moving down again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

could you walk 500 miles?

Apparently trying to duplicate the success of NBC's surprise hit "The Biggest Loser," ABC has launched its own dramatic weight-loss series, "," which like most U.S. television, is based on a British show.

If you want to see what you missed, you can watch the show on ABC's show site or read the recap at Television Without Pity. A sample of the latter:
It's 2007, and fat is the new black. By which I mean fatsploitation is all the rage these days. And now we have Fat March.
I thought the idea for the show was a good one when I first read about it. The twelve contestants would walk from Boston to Washington D.C. in ten weeks, hopefully losing weight and getting fit in the process. The interesting twist was that, unlike other reality shows, the goal was for as many of the contestants to finish as possible. Each marcher was eligible to win up to $100,000 for finishing the march. For every contestant who left the show, each finisher's potential payoff was reduced by $10,000.

I thought that the show would encourage teamwork and that the contestants would work together to get everyone across the finish line. Boy, was I wrong.

At every opportunity, the show highlights minor squabbles between the players, and the trainers seem to encourage the fights. "If someone isn't pulling their weight," chiseled trainer Steve says four or five times, "maybe it's better for everyone else if they go."

Unlike the coaches on "The Biggest Loser," (except for Kim), the trainers on "Fat March" seem to have been chosen for their looks and their success in modeling and body-building competitions, not for their talent at motivating the overweight. They seem to have no idea how the process of getting fit might be different for a 500-pound man than for someone trying to lose ten or twenty extra pounds. Note to all future fat-show producers: Looking hot in a bikini does not mean you know anything about how to help fat people get skinnier.

At one point in episode 2, the trainers tell Will, one of the largest contestants, that 2000 calories should be "more than adequate" to fuel him while walking ten to twelve miles a day. For a man who wants to get back into his size 34 jeans, that's probably enough, but those are probably starvation rations for someone weighing more than 400 pounds who is a competitive eating champion. Contestants apparently carry most of their food for the whole day in their own backpacks while they walk, and the trainers are surprised when Will eats all of his food early and then faints from hunger at the end of the day's walking.

It was pretty obvious that the trainers also hadn't anticipated how hard walking and sleeping on the ground was going to be for the contestants. One contestant shamefully admitted in the first show that he couldn't put his shoes on by himself. There were three ambulance rides in the first two episodes alone, and almost every contestant was complaining of knee, back, or foot problems after the first stage. Amazingly, there are no adjustments made to the marching schedule to account for injuries. Injured contestants who are taken out in an ambulance have the choice of making up the miles they missed, quitting, or getting themselves voted off. It will be surprising to me if they finish the march with more than two people, in which case no one will win any money.

The trainers and producers seemed to believe that the contestants just didn't know the mechanics of losing weight. They thought once they explained that fruit had less calories than bacon and that walking burns more calories than watching television, the contestants would be thrilled to march all day on a packet of instant oatmeal and a bunch of veggies. All the contestants are relatively young and some are even athletes, so the trainers and producers probably figured that 10-12 miles of walking each day would be a piece of cake. Sure the contestants would have to go slowly, but no big deal. It's obvious from watching even one episode of this show that fitness is exponentially harder as you gain weight. It's hard to get fit if your feet can't bear your weight, for example. Knees hurt. Backs ache.

They really also should have made a title sponsor in exchange for a pallet of sports bras. There is an unbelievable amount of bouncing going on. They seem to have budgeted for hair stylists but not for support garments.

The most frustrating thing for me so far was in episode two, when the producers set up a temptation buffet for the marchers at the end of one of their walks. After two or three weeks of bland but healthy food, the marchers were suddenly confronted with fried chicken wings, cheese sticks, and pizza. On the "virtuous" side of the table was the usual fare the marchers had been getting: poached salmon, brown rice, salad. Not even creatively prepared, interesting healthy food. Just boring vs. tempting. The trainers waited in the wings to see what would happen. This was supposed to show the marchers how to handle temptation in the real world.

Not surprisingly, some of the contestants chose to indulge in the forbidden fatty stuff. The other contestants were angry with them and so were the trainers, who waited until everyone had loaded their plates and then pounced. They seemed surprised that anyone ate fried cheese when there was still brown rice left. They even yelled at two contestants who had each had half a slice of pizza in addition to some of the healthy items. Instead of seeing it as a sensible compromise, Steve and Lorrie yelled at them for being a negative influence on each other.

I don't think I'll be watching episode three. I think I'll wait to get my "fatsploitation" fix until September with the new season of "The Biggest Loser." I can cheer on my new best friend, Jillian and throw things at the TV when Kim is on.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

just a little further

I did my first Danskin Triathlon in 2001, and since then, have done at least one sprint triathlon (1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run) each year. Except this one. I just couldn't get into the training this year, and my focus right now really needs to be on getting the dissertation done.

I feel a little sad about skipping a year, though, and I need to keep my body healthy while I focus on my mind. So I've done a little training, just the bare minimum for me to feel like I'm staying fit. Mostly I've been running and walking. Those are the easiest exercises to fit into my schedule because I just have to lace up my shoes and go. Biking and swimming require getting more equipment together, so I've definitely slacked off on those. Don't even ask about weight training, which by all rights I should be doing to keep my injuries (shoulder, knee, hip) from flaring up again.

I've gone out on my mountain bike a few times, but today I finally dragged out my road bike, which requires special shoes and has a much narrower and more uncomfortable seat. It was an act of will just to decide to go out on that bike ride, but once I got started, I didn't want to stop. My original thought was to go out for an hour, but I ended up riding to the end of our trail and back, which took a little over two hours. I was dead tired by the time I got home, but proud of myself. The trick was that I didn't ever commit to going the whole distance. When I got to my turnaround point for one hour, I thought, "Oh, just a little further." And so on, until I was close enough to the end of the trail that I had to finish it.

I've often said that the only athletic talent I really possess is determination, or if you want to be a jerk about it, sheer pigheadedness. I don't want to leave something (a race, a workout) unfinished. Once I get moving, I don't really want to stop. It's the getting moving part that is hardest.

I've had the same experience with my dissertation work. The hardest part is sitting down to the computer to work. The second hardest part is staying focused and not checking out real estate sites, job sites, or looking at news headlines. I actually use a kitchen timer set to twenty minutes when I'm writing. For that twenty minutes, I'm not allowed to do anything but work on my dissertation. When the timer goes off, I'm allowed to take a break for up to twenty minutes. The funny thing is, I often just start the timer again because I don't want to stop working in the middle of something. "Just a little further..." I've found that I've had a lot of success this month, which I've dubbed "Write Every Day August," just doing 20, 40, 60, or 100 minutes at a time (for some reason, I don't like the number 80).

My proposal was the first 3 chapters of my dissertation. I have Chapter 4 more than halfway done, and then it's on to Chapter 5 after a quick review of Chapter 2. I also have to do some revisions on all the chapters I've done so far. Still, the goal for the end of Write Every Day August is a complete first draft. My advisor has been pretty happy with the drafts I've given her so far, suggesting only minimal changes. So if I make my goal, I should be able to actually wrap this thing up in time to graduate in December. Just a little further...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

and the winner is...

After my post on Fage yogurt, I got heartfelt assurances from Shauna and Anne that the 2% Fage was really every bit as delicious as the original Total.

I found the original, the 0%, and the 2% in the store in the small containers, supposedly single-serving size. I decided to buy all three kinds and do my own taste test. Ideally, I would have done the test blind, but instead, I had the three kinds on three different ways, served exactly the same way: with sliced farm-market peaches and cinnamon. I did the Weight Watchers points on the three kinds: 7 points for the Total, 3 points for the 2%, and 2 points for the 0%. I only ate half of each container, so for me it worked out to 3, 1, and 1.

I had the 0% first. It was pretty good and every bit as thick and creamy as the original. Still, even though it was good with the peaches, I didn't like it on its own as much. The taste was a little bit sour by itself, and adding honey would defeat the purpose of eating the lower-calorie yogurt. I decided that if it was between the 0% and the Total, I'd go for the real thing and just eat less.

Then I tried the 2%. Because I only ate half of the container, the points worked out the same as the 0%. There was a definite difference. The 2% was perfectly delicious on its own (I licked the spoon) and fabulous with the peaches. When I went back to the Total the next day, it tasted almost too rich.

Besides, two extra points is a lot in Weight Watcher Land. Two points will get you a serving of Kashi crackers or a tablespoon of peanut butter. Or a big bowl of air-popped popcorn.

By the way, when I went back to Walt Churchill's Market, they were all out of the big containers. If you're reading this, leave some for me next time, OK?

Monday, August 06, 2007

self-love means never having to say "I'm sorry"

Weight Chart

First of all, on the surface that line from "Love Story" was total nonsense. In any real love relationship I've been in, I've said "I'm sorry" a lot. But I think what it means is that love means the person knows you're sorry. Love means the person knows you want to do your best, no matter how many times you fail. Love also means that you won't stop trying to do better.

I've had trouble doing what's best for myself with my food lately. Even though I know I need to do better, I also know that my focus has been scattered by the million important things that I have going on right now. I will do better when I can.

I've been thinking about how often women with weight issues apologize for themselves to other people. They make jokes about how ugly and fat they are, they do things so people will like them, they date losers because "who am I to be picky," they take the smallest piece of cake because "You know I don't need it," ha, ha, ha.

Sometimes I go poking around in the archives of blogs I like, just to see where someone has been. This paragraph in the Body of Work archives just floored me, because it was so spot-on:
The only problem is that it never quite goes away, the feeling of having to work harder to be loved because you are fat, to make up for being unsightly by being extra-excellent and super accommodating. You can see yourself doing it, and you can try to stop yourself, but it always seems to slip out. The self-deprecating comments are always at the ready, because while I do not back out of the room any more, because I know that people see exactly what I look like, I have to make sure they know that I know exactly what I look like, too.
It's easy to see where the urge to apologize comes from, because there is a lot of cruelty in this world, especially towards people who are overweight. I could find lots of examples in the weight-blog world, but I don't really need to. If you're reading this, you've probably been there, at one time or another.

Because I write for a blog called Angry Fat Girlz, I got a lot of "But you're not fat" at BlogHer from people who were seeing me for the first time. I've been identifying myself as someone with weight issues for so long that it's weird to realize that I could probably pass for a civilian now. My weight, though I still have a few pounds to go before I fall inot the "healthy" BMI range, is unexceptional. I am not exceptionally thin, nor exceptionally fat. I'm just "normal," whatever that means, at least here in the U.S. I'm sure in or I'm still morbidly obese, because I hear women in those places don't get fat.

Lori has written about "Fathead Syndrome" and I'm definitely in need of Fathead Anonymous. I want to get past the need to apologize for myself, stop treating myself like someone from the "Scratch & Dent" section of the store.

And realistically, I should have done that long ago, even when I weighed more. I didn't ever deserve to treat myself as damaged goods, and fat jokes just aren't funny, no matter who makes them. It's time to stop saying I'm sorry for who I am, no matter how much I weigh.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

a love note to yogurt

First of all, this is not a sponsored post, though if the Fage USA people want to send me some free yogurt, I won't refuse it.

My fellow bloggers over at Angry Fat Girlz have been raving about Fage yogurt (pronounced "Fa-yeh", according to the container) for months, but they live in hip, urban areas and I live in Toledo. Actually, not even in Toledo, in a small town near Toledo. So if Kroger and Meijer don't have it, I don't have it, unless I hunt for it. And yogurt never seemed like the kind of food that I'd want to go off on a special quest to find.

I was at one of my favorite little boutique grocery stores last week, Walt Churchill's Market at Briarwood, and decided to take a peek in the dairy case. They had Fage Total, 0%, and 2%. As a Weight Watcher, I probably should have opted for the reduced-fat or fat-free kind, but I wanted to taste the real thing. And I have to tell you, I haven't regretted that decision, though Anne swears that the 2% is really good and the 0% is good.

An article in The New York Times featured Fage's recent ad campaign to promote just how luxurious this yogurt is by associating it with expensive jewelry. The yogurt ad is featured on one page, with an ad for the luxury jewelry item on the facing page. In the yogurt is the impression of the piece of jewelry, as if the Tourneau watch or Honora pearl necklace had been squished into the yogurt. The idea is to show that the yogurt is a luxury item, possibly to answer objections to the high price of Fage compared to other brands of yogurt.

As goofy as it sounds, if yogurt can be luxurious, this stuff is. I had never been able to stomach plain yogurt on its own because of the harsh, sour taste. Fage tastes more like marscapone cheese or chèvre than like American yogurt, and it has the same kind of thick texture because most of the whey is strained out. I tried straining regular plain yogurt to use as cheese back in the extreme-low-fat diet days, but it wasn't even close to the taste or texture of Fage.

The Fage Total has eight points per cup, so I've been using two tablespoons on top of some sliced peaches with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It's sort of like having cheesecake for breakfast. The yogurt is so rich that I haven't really wanted to eat more than that. I suppose I should give the lower-fat versions a try, but now that I've had the silky real thing, I'm afraid nothing else will do.
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07