Sunday, February 28, 2010

Valerie Bertinelli Kicked My Ass

To be fair it was actually her personal trainer, Christopher Ross Lane who performed said ass-kicking via Val's new much anticipated workout DVD Valerie Bertinelli Losing It and Keeping Fit.
I'm not a huge fan of workout DVDs, namely because anything that is too convenient for me is not a great idea. I tend to be an excuse maker. If I don't get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning, then it's highly likely, if not probable, that I am not going to do any kind of workout that day. That being said I do have one walking DVD that I am quite fond of, and of course there's always the old Wii Fit, both of which are handy on snow days and such.
And I will admit to having something of a girl-crush on Valerie Bertinelli ever since she became the Jenny Craig spokesperson. I enjoyed watching her lose the weight and even though she and I had nothing in common (age, body-type, family situation, lifestyle, or income) and I certainly had no intention of joining Jenny Craig. Still I secretly coveted all things Valerie - Eddie VanHalen not withstanding.
So I was overjoyed when she came out with the DVD. I wanted to splash backwards into a pool in my blue bikini, too! I of course pre-ordered on Amazon and counted down the days untill brown brought it to me.
I liked that there were two fitness levels. Level 1, 20 minutes and level 2, 40 minutes. Heck, I'd been working out and was in relatively good shape. I was strong. I should just jump right to the level 2. My super smart husband reminded me that since this DVD was new and I knew nothing about it, I should at least start on level 1 and go from there. Fine, I thought, I'll humor him.
OK, nobody tell him this, but he was totally right. The 20 minute workout wasn't too intense, by any means, but it was definately nothing to sniff at. I decided to do it for a few days before moving on to the 40 minute workout. That day came two days ago.
I got up, got my workout pants on - the Nike spandex ones that my mamaw got me as a well-meaning Christmas gift, but that I refuse to wear outside of this house - had my smoothie, took my vitamins, and fired up the old Panasonic.
Holy Crap. There was Val, in all her pony-tailed cuteness. And there was Christopher, looking like nothing so much as a more gay, more buff version of Ashley Wilkes (I'm not kidding, and once you get that image in your mind, well, good luck) But Ashley was never so sadistic, or Miss Melly knew something we didn't. Anyways, I could tell right away that this workout would be different. I swear to you the music was ominous and Val had a nervous look on her face that said that she, like Miss Melly, knew what was up.
I won't go into any details, because to be honest there was nothing new here. There were a lot of squats and lunges and crunches and the such, but when it was over I could barely haul my sorry ass up off the floor. And there were definately cardiac benefits because my heart was racing and there was enough sweat dripping off my to float a boat.
The real test came the next morning though. When I woke up, I noticed that I was a bit sore, but no biggie. Wrong. I went in to set on the toilet, like I do first thing every morning, and Jeez-O-Peet. My legs and thighs and ass muscles were positively screaming. SCREAMING! Everytime I got up or sat down for the rest of the day was excrutiating. I swear to you that I "held it" for close to five hours because I didn't want to go set on the toilet again. The next day was only marginally better. The only exercise I could do for the next two days was walk on the hated treadmill, which for once I was pleased to do because - you know - I couldn't set much. So I got in almost 10 miles over two and a half days and am looking forward to going back to gym tomorrow.
The verdict is that Val didn't get that body from nothing. If Christopher was her trainer then she definately earned it. And while I still have my pool-splashing bikini dreams, I think I'll have to think twice before I do that level 2 workout again. I'll get there, but Holy Crap, I'm gonna have to work back up to it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Viva La Revolution!!!

In the spirit of the Olympics, which frankly I am adicted to, we are going international. I like watching sports where the athletes have to consume massive amounts of calories a day just to stay in training. Like cross country skiing. 12,000 calories a day. Seriously. I need a job like that. "The Swiss are looking strong, time for another doughnut, get some more ski time." I think I could handle that. Eat, ski, eat, ski, ski, ski, eat, sleep. OK, I might not be competitive, or even very good. But I think I could eat like I was. Oh, wait, I already did that.
Anyway, I read something the other day that vaguely has something to do with international eating, but admitedly nothing to do with the Olympics. This study compared the way French women and American women eat. I, for one, would love to know how they manage to eat all those creamy sauces and delicious pastries and still look fashionably slender. I know that if I ran into a French woman on the street she would think I was fat and I would think she was a bitch and we would probably both be right. Still, there must be something she could teach me. Just like there are things I could teach her. Like Jerry Lewis isn't really that funny and horizontal sailor stripes do not, in fact, look good on everyone.
The study started out with the two groups of women being given identical, but massive, amounts of food. Each group was told that they could eat as much as they wanted to. To eat until they were "satisfied". Not surprisingly, the American women ate way more than the French.
The reason - surprisingly simple. When asked how each woman judged whether or not they were satisfied the American women responded that they ate until they were "full". The French women responded that they ate until they "weren't hungry anymore".
Not hungry anymore? Are you kidding me? It's really that simple? Well, it must be because Dior doesn't make stretch pants.
So the trick is being able to know when you're not hungry anymore. It's easy to know when you're full. God knows I've felt that belt-loosening, lethargy set in often enough after a big meal. It's America after all. If something is tasty, well, then Super-Size it. And we've all been taught to clean our plates. And how often have we made fun of the devastatingly small portions of French cuisine? Who knew?
I know it's easier said than done, like most things in life. But I'm all for a plan that allows me to eat anything I want. Eat away - just stop when you're not hungry anymore. Hmmm. I don't know how well it'll go, but I'm going to give it a whirl. For the next week I'm going to revel in food. I'm going ot cook my favorite dishes. Even dessert. I'm going to eat whatever I want, deny myself nothing, stopping when I am not hungry anymore. It's a risky little game, but I'm up for the challenge.
It's definately weird to be trying to lose weight and talking about eating what I want. Sort of like being concerned with fuel efficiency and buying an SUV. But, as I've said before I'm not interested in a "diet" so much as a new lifestyle. I have had success so far, but I'm always interested in aomething new. Especially as it pertains to eating more sweets.
Now wax up the skis and snap on your ski boots. There's been a lot of snow of late here in the hills of Eastern Kentucky and I've got to work up a hunger. I can totally do it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Everyday Should Be Christina Hendricks Day

From one of my favorite bloggers over at 43-Ideas-Per-Minute.
Everyday Should Be Christina Hendricks Day

FOOD, INC. (why everyone who eats should see this film)

"Oh, the cow in the meadow goes 'MOO'
Oh, the cow in the meadow goes 'MOO'
'till the farmer hits it on the head with a hammer
and that's how we get hamburger."

Oh, if only that's how we got hamburger. That's a line from a song sung on an episode of Friends by the quasi-hippy Phoebe, played by Lisa Kudrow. In the show Phoebe has been hired to sing songs to kids at story time at a library. All the parents are, of course, upset by her songs lyrics. But the kids love her and seek her out at her coffee shop hang out, dubbing her, "the lady who tells the truth."
Turns out though that Phoebe's hammer - to - head hitting method of getting hamburger is just wishful thinking. We all know, of course, that hamburger comes from cows. That's just elementary. But did you know that that hamburger you're eating could contain meat from hundreds or even thousands of cows? It's true.
And did you know that McDonald's is the countries largest purchaser of beef? And potatoes? And pork? And even one of the largest purchasers of apples? Also true. And by being the largest consumer of these goods, McDonald's in effect controls the way that cows and pigs and chickens (had an Egg McMuffin, lately?) are raised and the way potatoes and apples are grown.
I learned all of this from the jaw dropping documentary FOOD, INC., a Robert Kenner Film. This isn't one of those boring, over-hyper narrator, documentaries from high school about how many days it takes a chicken egg to grow into a chicken. It's more like an investigative journalism film about how farmers are being controlled by mafia-like big business.  Did you know that the average chicken farmer has had to take out oans of $30,000+ to build each chicken house? (Most have more than 3 chicken houses.) Yet, that same farmer makes less than $17,000/year. And those same chicken houses are controlled by the companies that buy his chickens and/or eggs. Farmer John has to do things the way Big Brother tells him or else they won't buy his product. Considering that in this case there is really only two chicken companies that matter - Tyson and Purdue, if Farmer John doesn't cooperate he's pretty much up to his neck in a bunch of chicken waste. And as my grandpappy always said, "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit."
I won't even mention the conditions that these chickens, pigs, and cows live in. I'm not exactly a bleeding heart. And I'm certainly no vegitarian. I like a big juicy steak just like the next guy. But when I see pictures of these factory farms where cows are standing knee-deep in their own manure for 90% of their lives, well, it makes me want to reconsider how much I'm willing to pay for my steak.
Did you know that beef is so cheap because McDonald's says so. That's right. McDonald's again. Because Americans want their dollar menu, McDonalds dictates how much it's willing to pay for beef. And since they are the countries largest buyer of beef their word is pretty much law. And since their are only so many ways to cut corners when raising and actual living breathing animal, farmers are forced to feed their beef cows corn - a grain that cows aren't even equipped to digest. Therefore, farmers are also forced to feed their cows large numbers of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones just to keep up with the demand at the price that McDonalds dictates. That's why that hamburger that you just bought at the grocery store was only $1.99/pound. Good deal, no?
I could go on and on about this subject, but I won't. Obviously I believe that there needs to be better laws in this counrty to ensure that people can afford to buy good healthy food. I don't understand why people will organize marches and protests to complain about having to pay for health care all the while embracing their Dollar Menu Double Cheeseburger like it was a life raft.
And before it starts, let me just say - I get it. I do. I'm a mother. I know how hard it is to feed a family, how expensive it can be. But isn't it worth it to spend a little more money at the grocery store than spend exponentially more money on medications to treat preventable diseases like diabetes and heart disease? So for my part, my family will now be spending more money for grass-fed beef and organic local-raised eggs and organic in-season produce, even if it means going meatless a few nights a week. I don't think it will be that difficult. And I think that if we all were smarter consumers then more of these products would be available at out local grocery stores, not just Whole Foods.
Go to the farmers market where a farmer keeps 80-90% of every dollar spent there. (poverty among farmers is more than double that of all other employees) Know where your food comes from. . . and BUY LOCAL! ( the average meal travels over 1,500 miles from the "farm" to your plate.) And buy organic whenever you can, even if it costs a little more. I promise it makes a difference. (70% of all antibiotics used in the US are given to farm animals. and according to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the US)
And last, but not least watch FOOD, INC. for more. Like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, I believe FOOD, INC. has the power to change the way Americans eat. Visit to find out more. If you want to do more go to .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Shame Monster

I was just watching Dr. Oz and he was celebrating his 100th episode with people who have lost over 100 lbs. Great. I'm all about the inspiration, not to mention how desperately in need of it I am right now. So here was this lovely woman who had lost a jaw-dropping 195 lbs. The old fashioned, diet and exercise way. No surgery. And I was thinking, "Great! She must have some really great tips." and she did but that's not what struck me most about what she had to say.
She and Dr. Oz spent a lot of time talking about how when she was bigger she used to avoid things. She said that she would keep herself back from activities that she and her husband both enjoyed because she was ashamed of how she looked and she didn't want to embarrass her husband for having a fat wife. And she looked so sad when she talked about all the things that she had missed out on. My first thought was, "How ridiculous!" and my second thought was, "Hey, wait a minute. I do that. Crap!"
Then I got to thinking about all the times I have given less than my all because of my size. And not necessarily the physical limitations of being over-weight. I was thinking more about the times that I have been too embarrassed by my appearance to do something. Anything.
Turns out there were too many to count. For example, my husband and I have always wanted to go white water rafting. But I have been too embarressed to put on shorts in front of a large group of people. Especially people that I don't know. Forget about a bathing suit. And what if I went in the water and couldn't haul my fat ass back up in the raft? Then there are all the opportunities that I have passed up to travel different places because I am mortified of flying. Not for the normal reasons. I know that it is one of the safest forms of travel out there. No, what I'm scared of is the looks of the other passengers. Like, "holy crap. I hope Fatty doesn't set by me." It's horrible to even contemplate. Not to mention that I avoid, like the plague, any occasion where I would have to eat in front of other people. I feel like no matter waht is on my plate that people are judging me.
I know I can't be the only one who feels or has felt this way. If I was then Dr. Oz wouldn't be doing a show on it. So why do we  do this to ourselves. Why do we engage in thoughts and activities that we know are destructive? I know that I am being ridiculous even as I'm doing it. My husband has never in word or action indicated that he is in any way ashamed of me. Just the opposite, as a matter of fact.
The more I thought about this subject, the better I felt about it - ironically. Normally I would slide down a shame spiral until all that was left for me was a comfy pair of stretch pants. But, funnily enough, I actually feel pretty good about myself right now. I recognized that that was the  way I felt. Past tense. I try not to feel that way much anymore. Sure it creeps up now and then, but not nearly as often. Recently I even bought a very hot, hot, hot dress for a friends wedding. It was somewhat form fitting and bright purple. Something I would never have dreamed of wearing forty pounds ago, much less feeling comfortable in it. And what's more, if I do say so myself, I looked SMOKIN' hot in it. And you know what? I had a great time at that wedding. My husband and I danced and I ate and we had a blast.
So- lesson learned. The shame stops here. From now on when shame creeps in I'm going to instead focus on what I have to be proud of. I have accomplished a lot of things during this journey. Like losing forty pounds, and being stronger than I ever have been before, and having more energy for my kids and husband, and having healthier physicals than I've ever had before. So what if I was over weight before. So what if I still am. I'm working on it, aren't I? I'm not just setting there feeling sorry for myself, am I? No! Nor will I.
I figure in this life we all things that we may be ashamed of now and then. Who doesn't? But from now on, you aren't going to catch me setting around feeling sorry for myself. No, ma'am. My time is to valuable for that. Besides, I have to work on my upper-body strength. My big ass is going white-water rafting this summer. Look out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sweets For Your Sweet (or yourself. it's nobody's damn business anyway!)

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I know I should hate this the most Hallmark-yest of all Hallmark holidays, but, damn it, I just can't help myself. I love the little folded Valentine's cards that my kids place in their classmate's little decorated shoe boxes. And I love that my husband will give me a card and some small trinket and not expect anything in return (although I always cook him his favorite meal) because he says it's a "girly holiday". But most of all, I love those little candy hearts with the messages on them. You know - "be mine", "luv u", and even a few modern ones like, "email me". I love it.
So in the spirit of the little cupid, I thought I would share a recipe for a Valentine's Day dessert that will not leave you feeling like you swilled a whole box of Godivas.
This recipe works with any flavor cake mix or diet pop. Just don't use the kind with the pudding in the mix. You can also make this in a sheet pan, but what's the fun in that?

For Goodness Cakes
1 box chocolate cake mix
2 egg whites
1 can diet cherry Dr. Pepper
Sugar Free Cool Whip
Maraschino cherries, stems on

Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tins with cupcake papers for 24 cupcakes.
Mix together first 3 ingredients. Spoon evenly into muffin cups. About 2/3 full.
Bake until toothpick test comes out clear. Usually about 17-20 minutes.
Let cool. Remove from tins to tray.
"Frost" each one with Cool Whip and place one cherry on top of each.
Cover any uneaten cakes and put on top rack of refrigerator.

I'm not sure of the nutritional info on these because of differences in cake mix brands, but I do know that each cupcake is generally considered to be 3 Weight Watchers point.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Eat This. . . am I being PUNKED?

For a while now I have been a fan of the Eat This, Not That series of books by David  Zinczenco. I love when he's on the Today show stumping the ancors. And I love it when he brings props like this deep fried mozzerella stick has as much fat as a stick of butter or that small order of fast food fries has as much sodium as a whole box of slatines. But now they've come out with a newbie, and I must say it's my favorite. Cook This, Not That. It offers tasty recipes you can cook at home to cure your cravings for high fat and calorie restaraunt foods.
See I'm one of these people that doesn't do well with deprivation. I try to stay positive and focus on what I can have and how healthy my body is, but all I can do is zero in on all the things that I can't have. I have dreams of greasy pizza, and heaping plates of pasta, and full fat ice cream. And I don't even particularily care for ice cream in the regular order of things. So when a book comes out (with big glossy pictures, I might add) that compares different foods, I'm always crazily surprised.
For instance, on page 276 there is a recipe for Chicken Parmesan for 340 calories and 11g of fat. Are you kidding me? 340 calories! And as a bonus it rings across the checkout counter as $3.79/ serving. Crazy!
On the flip-side you could go to Romano's Macaroni Grill and order their Chicken Parmigiana for $13.25 and a whopping 850 calories. Now, I'm sure there are healthier options at Macaroni Grill, but come on.
Another thing about me is that I am a big weekend breakfast person. I like something sweet and starchy. And I even have a favorite. Big shout out to The Freight House in beautiful Phillips, Wisconsin. These people make the absolute best French Toast on the face of the planet. They bake their own bread and they slice it thick. I kid you not, it is like there was never French Toast before the Freight House. They are a mom and pop operation and they don't exactly offer nutritional information but I could immagine. Thought I'd rather not.
Luckily, I only vacation in Phillips, so I can't have their French Toast every Sunday. But there are other options. Aren't there always?
Cook This, Not That offers an alternative. They have a recipe for French Toast with Vanilla Bourbon Sauce and Carmelized Bananas. No, I'm not making this up. I have made it and it is unbelievably good. I'm talking eyes rolling back in your head, tounge lolling out the side of your mouth good. And, drumroll please, it's only 490 calories and 18g of fat. Yes, I know that's still a lot. But we're talking special occasion Sunday brunch here. Definately not every day. As much as I love it, I've only made it once in two months. And compare it to Bob Evans Stacked & Stuffed Caramel Banana Pecan Hotcakes for 1,493 calories and 70g of fat and we're taling a caloric bargain here.
There are even delicious dessert recipies that manage to satidfy even my wicked big sweet tooth. Right now I'm liking the Crispy Apple Turnover which uses puff pastry and clocks in at 200 calories each and 8g of fat. Seriously - a 200 calorie dessert that doesn't taste like artificially sweetened air. The book compares it to the Cheesecake Factory's Warm Apple Crisp. While I have never actually had this dessert, I have set at the same table as someone who has and the smell alone is intoxicating. YUM. However, had I known (and I feel pretty secure speaking on the eaters behalf) what the damage was I would have run as fast as I could in the opposite direction. Are you ready? 1,355 calories and 28g of saturated fat. Seriously. That is almost a full days worth of calories for me. For dessert. That is crazy.
After reading all these books it is not hard to understand why Americans are so overweight. Calories and fat are insane and portions are out of control. These simple substitutions offer easy solutions without leaving you feeling deprived of anything. Perfect for people like me who grudge all those skinny bitches out there who chant gleefully, "Oh I can just eat anything I want. I guess I just have a naturally high metabolism." every Carl's Jr Thick Burger they consume.
And by the way, I don't by that naturally high metabolism bull shit for a minute. Tell the truth, you skinny bitches. We know its cigarettes and Red Bull. Naturally high metabolism, my ass.