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2012 More or Less

1 Jan

When you ring in the New Year with unsweetened iced tea, you are up before 10 AM on January 1, racing to get a head start on filling up that clean slate with new beginnings.   I hope to connect with more people this year, and I hope that you all “see less of me.”   Here’s what else I hope for:

Write more         Eat less

Laugh more        Worry less

Walk more          Blob less

Sleep more         Whine less

Hug more            Sneer less

Love more          Hate less

 

What about you?

2011 in review – Thank you all for helping the launch!

1 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

O’ Oily Night

27 Dec

This post is a week later than I had hoped.  I have been in a food coma, having survived seven of the eight days of Chanukah, which ends at sundown tomorrow night. Forget the holiday dessert swap, the candy canes, the champagne.  The biggest diet wrecker this time of year is the “minor” Jewish holiday of Chanukah.

The Christian household may be adorned with luscious green wreaths and holiday icicle lights.  At Chanukah time, the Jewish household has a curl of oniony smoke emanating from the chimney.

The holiday celebrates that a band of fighters called the Maccabees, sturdy men—all of whom were doubtless too short for their weight—defeated a large Syrian army to reclaim the Jewish Temple. In the temple, they found a jug of oil, with enough fuel to light the ritual lamp for one day. But miracle of miracles, the oil lasted eight days, and this without Calphalon non-stick pans.  For this reason, Chanukah is also called the Festival of Lights.  Note that it is not, under any circumstances, to be considered the Festival of “Lite.”

To celebrate the miracle of survival, we eat everything fried in oil.  The most common food we eat is called “latkes,” which is Yiddish for “28-point-globs-of-fried, grated-potatoes-and-onions-that-make-your-hair-smell-like-Church’s-Fried-Chicken.” Ha, ha, ha, it’s not a joke. Eight latkes are 28 points. That’s a lot of pilates.

There are ways to make the latkes “lite.”   You could bake them on a searing, oil-coated baking sheet or in individual muffin tins. (“That doesn’t count!” my kids screamed, when I said I wanted to try it this year.) You could replace some of the potatoes with zucchini and carrots, which makes them very flavorful and adds vitamins, not to mention some nice Christmas color.  My sister made low-fat apple “latkes,” which were basically like baked apples, held together with a touch of flour.  They were a delicious dessert, but certainly no substitute for the genuine latke.   Or you can just go ahead and celebrate the real, greasy, onion-y, luscious thing, like I did, and resolve to walk 280 minutes at a moderate pace before the next weigh-in.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you’ll see me out there in my track suit, no doubt with a pack of animals trailing the wonderful latke scent that has seeped into my skin, hair, and clothing.

Psst. Here’s my favorite recipe:

 Potato Latkes

4 large potatoes
1 large onion
2 tablespoons matzo meal
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cooking oil

Wash and peel potatoes and onions. Cut into large chunks and grate by hand or with a food processor.

Drain the grated potato-onion mixture over a pot or bowl, reserving the potato starch/water. The key to crispy latkes is to make sure all the water is drained.

Press down on the mixture every five minutes to hasten the draining process, repeating until the mixture no longer squishes.

Place the potato-onion mixture in a mixing bowl, and blend in the matzo meal, egg, salt and pepper.

Carefully, pour the liquid out of the bowl/pot with the potato water, reserving the thick, starchy paste (potato starch). Scrape this paste out of the bowl and add to the potato-onion-egg mixture, blending well.

Heat 1/2 inch depth of oil in a skillet. Use about 2 rounded tablespoons of potato mixture for each pancake. Drop into skillet and flatten with spatula. Fry pancakes about ten minutes total, turning once. The pancakes should be golden brown.

A la Car Dining

5 Dec

I commute an hour each way back and forth to work, which gives me time to enjoy my favorite passion – in-car dining. The two center cup holders, plus the cup holder on the driver’s side are always filled with water, tea, coffee, or an apple. The landing spot between the driver’s side and the passenger’s side has something spread out with the main course, and the passenger side seat is sometimes sporting another side dish.  The system works beautifully, especially when I remember to brush the crumbs off my chest before entering my office building. If I had my way, the car would be equipped with a little snack tray that pulls out from the steering wheel. The radio knob would be a coffee spigot. And the floor mats would do automatic composting.

On a good day, I’ll pack a nice breakfast to go – a fruit, a peanut butter sandwich on Weight Watcher bread, some fat-free cheese sticks and crackers, or a baggie of high-fiber cereal, with half a cup of almond milk on the side (have not mastered the cereal-with-milk-in-a-bowl maneuver on the parkway).

Sometimes I’m caught short and have to stop at one of the Merritt Parkway Mobil Marts.  The hidden cameras have, I’m sure, captured thousands of hours of footage of me wandering through the mart, scrutinizing every last “nutrition” bar, nut package and Danish-y dessert. I keep hoping for the impossibly high fat/carb/calorie numbers to change. Everything seems to be truck-driver sized and yet,  no trucks are allowed on the parkway.  It was at the Mobil Mart that I discovered a 90-calorie Fiber One Brownie, sitting there on the bottom shelf like a chocolate diamond in the rough.  I’ve since seen the 90-calorie Fiber One Brownie carton empty each time—other people have caught on. I’ve considered “pulling a Loehmann’s” and hiding the brownies behind the pork rinds.  The Mobil Mart will often have part-skim cheese sticks – not a bad alternative, though a few times, the packages were a little dusty.  Then there are times when I’ll buy almonds, count out 10 of them, twist the bag closed, and hide it in the trunk with the spare tire, so I won’t be tempted to overindulge.

If I have to travel between office buildings, I’ll often grab lunch to go, and occasionally, I have an after-work meeting and will grab dinner for the car ride home.  I know where the fruits, veggies, and low-point sandwiches are at every exit.  I can eat a salad while driving  and keeping my eyes on the road the entire time.  Yes, I know this is an unhealthy, unsafe, and icky habit. I am supposed to relax and sit down to a mindful meal with people I care about three times a day.  But hey, at least I’m not picking my nose. What about you?

Suffering from Record Inflation

27 Nov

Economists generally agree that high rates of inflation are caused by an excessive growth of supply, and in my case the supply included cake, cookies, heavy cream, butter, cheese, crackers, chips, candy, pizza, and a 3-ounce glass of white wine.  (And I wasn’t going to drink, darn it.)

Weight Watchers reminds us that Thanksgiving is just ONE meal, but for this point-counter, that ONE meal was surrounded by a week that began with a diner pancake feast and continued with a half-week of festive “work celebrations” (“work celebration” is code word for layer cake), compounded by the mid-week rally of the leftover Halloween candy. It was a week where the only thing that was exercised was my patience.  It was a week where my kitchen was turned into a cooking and baking machine, fueled by enough bites, licks, and tastes to feed Somalia. One of my jobs was to make the sugar-free desserts – and the two made-from-scratch pies had sensible-yet-tasty fillings.  But oh, the butter crusts…can you say double-digit points for a mere twelfth of a pie?  My Weight Watcher eTools points tracker looked like the National Debt Clock, rolling relentlessly forward with no easing in sight.

Thanksgiving was a mere kickoff to a three-day extravaganza of food, family dysfunction, and pizza. Saturday night was capped with a piled-obscenely-high trifle of syrup-soaked pound cake, raspberry sauce, and whipped heavy cream – and I brought the cream. Yes, there were raspberries on top, and thus, it counted as a fruit.  This hearty party weekend decadence concluded a mere 10 hours before the Sunday weigh-in.

I woke up this morning contemplating economies of scale, and donned my barely there underthings, summer tank shirt, and the lightest weigh-in pants I could find that would not get me arrested for public indecency.  I took off my glasses, stepped on the scale, exhaled as deeply as I could without fainting and hoped for the best. Up 1.2 pounds. Could have been worse. I’m praying for a significant downturn next week.

The Evil of the Candy – a Scary Singalong….

29 Oct
The Evil of the Candy

Click on the audio file –> The Evil of the Candy

Wait for the audio to load, scroll down to see the words, and sing along with me….if you dare….

The Evil of the Candy [to the tune of “Thriller”]

It’s close to midnight and bratty kids have finished trick or treat
Under the Reeses, you see a sight makes you skip a beat
You try to sleep, but chocolate fills your senses and you want it
You start to drool as Smarties look you right between the eyes
You’re supersized

You know it’s candy, candy night
And no one’s gonna save you from the craving that will strike
Candy, candy night
You’re fighting for your waistline but you’re randy for candy, tonight
oooh….

You hear the fridge slam and realize that your husband’s under foot
He’s got a turkey sandwich but the candy looks too good
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, girl!
But all the while you know Thanksgiving’s creeping round the bend
It never ends

‘Cause this is candy, candy night
You haven’t got a chance against the thing with forty calories
Candy, candy night
You’re fighting to avoid another handy, candy tonight

Twizzlers are calling, if you’re in the dark then it might not count
There’s always jogging tomorrow, but with achy joints?
This is the end of your points
ooh

They’re out to get you, tomorrow all this junk will be on sale
They will possess you, you’ll never change that number on your scale
Now is the time to slowly back away and have a carrot
But all the while, you’ll play that sweet refrain upon your brain,
Hope you don’t gain

Because it’s candy, candy night
And this can set you back more than cake, cookie or pie
Candy, Candy night
Better hold on tight and have a handy, dandy, piece of candy here tonight

Candy, candy night
And this can set you back more than cake, cookie or pie
Candy, Candy night
So better hold on tight and have a handy, candy ow!

[spoken]

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Fatties slink in search of food
To have their secret interlude

And whosoever shall be found
Shoveling those morsels down
Must stand and face the scale of doom
When e’er they enter Weight Watchers room

 [Freestyle fatties interlude sung here]

The chocolate smell is in the air
The empty wrappers everywhere
And over there, the mirror looms
You cast a glance and see your doom

And though you fight to stay on plan
Your modus operandi
You poor mere mortal can’t resist
The evil of the candy

 [Laughter…….]

The Right to Bare Arms

17 Oct

Jiggly Arms

I have finally gotten around to writing this, but only because it is lunch hour at work and I am supposed to be launching my training regimen for the 5K marathon I am planning to enter next May. I’m tired. I think my sneaker lace may be torn. If I sweat too much, I’ll have to wash my armpits in the ladies room here at work.

In the great procrastinator’s triumvirate of writing, bill-paying, and exercise, writing is today’s least-to-avoid activity.  I did take the first step toward more exercise. Eight weeks ago I joined a gym. It’s a great gym. They let you join online, from your computer, without taking so much as a step.  They have Pizza Mondays, they call themselves the “Judgment Free Zone,” and… AND… they greet you the door with a bucket of mini Tootsie Rolls. I am not kidding. (See? I’ve actually gone there.)  I used to belong to the posh, more expensive gym in the area, with a roster of classes, a bevy of buff bodies strolling the floor, and a row of not-so-buff, but presumably well-heeled middle aged men on treadmills in the wee hours of the weekday morns – not that I’m looking.

I decided that, instead of spending $79 per month on a membership that I wouldn’t use, it was more sane to spend $10 per month. My orientation was with two young men who, together, did not equal my age. They showed me the quick circuit and the machines, and they designed a plan for me that included cardio and strength training.  Cardio involved me spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, facing the free weight section and a collection of young, well-toned black men bulking up even more.  The view was so nice that the first day I spent 53 minutes on the treadmill in a stupor until what I thought was indoor rain but then realized was my body sweat pouring out onto the treadmill forced me to stop and dry off.

The strength training circuit had a series of biceps, triceps, back and pectoral muscle exercises all in a row.  Having developed what my sister calls “Hadassah arms” in my 50s, I was happy for all the upper-body work. But where were the adductor and abductor machines, the ones that are supposed to sculpt and tone my jiggly thighs?  (and why do they call them abductor – isn’t that a little scary?) With this new regimen, I would soon develop the physique of a young black man.

I went to the gym twice that first week. I earned 8 activity points and only ate 4 food points worth of tootsie rolls.  At this rate, the cost of the gym would come out to $1.25 a visit – quite the bargain. The next week, I felt I was coming down with something. Plus, I had to pick my daughter up from the train, and there was a lot of work to be done. And something else came up. And I missed my gym visit.  A week later, I got there on the weekend.  Okay, at this rate, it would be $3.33 a visit.  Still not bad. It took me two weeks to get back there and, again, I went on a weekend. Okay, 4 visits in 2 months is still ONLY $5 per visit. I decided I needed motivation.  I needed a goal.  My sister and I decided we’d run (or walk/run) a 5K down in New Jersey. Last weekend I spent so much time
surfing the web for the perfect training plan I ran out of time to hit the gym.

My new plan is to walk three times a week during lunch at work, get to the gym once or twice in the morning before work as well as on the weekend. So, tomorrow morning, I’ll get right to it. Right after I pay my bills. True dat.

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