I Love the Gelatinous 70s

11 Aug

In the 70s we made everything with gelatin – fruit molds,  salmon mousse,  carrot “salads,” aspic. The lady I babysat for had me mix up Jello® and give it to her kids to drink in a glass, just like they were drinking Kool-Aid. Everyone said it had protein, and my mom told me it would make my nails grow. Did I know it was made of ground up cow hooves?  All I cared about was that it had very few calories and could be fashioned into low-calorie desserts. My favorite was made with coffee.

I first began drinking coffee at 14 because it was a calorie-free beverage. When I started smoking at 15, I discovered that coffee went extremely well with cigarettes. In 1971, my mom taught me how to make “Coffee Carvel” which consisted of various artificial powders whipped up with gelatin and ice cubes. If the stars were correctly aligned, the result would be a fluffy, smooth coffee pudding. More often than not, it would be coffee gelatin, topped with desert sand. But in either case, it was the equivalent of “a skim milk” on the diet we were on. It fed a lot of our addictions – coffee, artificial sweetener, dessert, getting a calorie-bargain (two quarts-worth of the stuff is about the same calories as small piece of chocolate). All we had to do was sprinkle it with nicotine and we could have survived on the stuff for life. “Coffee Carvel” had me flatulating through my entire sophomore year in high school, but I didn’t mind. I managed to lose 43 pounds that year.

I ate it so much that I know the recipe by heart. Here it is:

“Coffee Carvel”

1 packet non-flavored gelatin
½ cup hot water
1 teaspoon coffee powder
5 teaspoons skim milk powder
1 packet of artificial sweetener
6 ice cubes

Dissolve the gelatin completely in the hot water
Mix in coffee powder, skim milk powder, and artificial sweetener
In a blender, one by one, blend in ice cubes
Pour into 4 pudding cups and chill until set.

Pork Chop People

9 Aug

Today at the cafeteria lunch line, just ahead of me, was a skinny woman with a gravied pork dish, rice and a fountain soda.  I would have bet my weekly points that the soda was a regular coke—it was just that type of lunch tray.  Isn’t that always the way? I’m surrounded by fruit-less, vegetable-less skinny people chowing down on pork chops and white foods, and there I am with a tossed salad the size of Sheep Meadow, topped with 2 radishes and virtuous little spoonfuls of lean protein.

Indignant, I marched back to my desk and went right online to tally up the points from that skinny beeotch’s lunch tray.  Five ounce pork chop and gravy – 5 points.  Two-thirds a cup of rice (I wanted to make it a cup, but to be fair to her, it was realistically a 2/3 cup serving) – 3 points. There was probably a light sauce on the rice, but I couldn’t be sure. I was, after all, scrutinizing the tray from my peripheral vision. I gave it an extra 2 points. Then, there was a twelve-ounce cup of cola for 4 points.  Fourteen points!  I wondered what she had had for breakfast.  I’m going to say it was a glazed donut and tea with sugar.  I totaled it up. It was a 9-point breakfast. Would she forget to eat dinner or ride her bike for two   hours after work? I wouldn’t put it past her.

I deleted her food from my online tracker, hoping there were no people “behind the curtain” watching my online activity, and I added my lunch. Can I tell you that with all the little spoonfuls of this and that, the walnuts, and the dollop of whipped cream on top of the sugar-free jello, it came out to 12 points, just 2 points shy of pork chop lady’s? My breakfast was, similarly, just 2 points less than the fictitious junk fare I had projected onto her. I was a mere 20 baked chips away from being her points equal – and 15 of those chips were sitting in my bag for later.

I needed to take a break from all this tracking and eating—and tracking of eating—to get some work done. I got to work…then got to thinking again. Nothing is off limits on Weight Watchers, so if I wanted to, I could be like that. I could be a Skinny Pork Chop Lady too. Except, of course, I don’t eat pork.

This Cow Had Quite the Laugh

5 Aug

Earlier this year, I got beyond beyond, and my belly rose so far up to meet my boobs that I developed a bad case of acid reflux.  I went on Nexium and cut out everything with acid, fat, spice, and caffeine.  My doctor suggested I meet with the nutritionist who shared his office, let’s call her Pixie.  (She has an equally cutesy name, which I shall keep confidential.)   Of course, I felt that I knew nutrition as well as anyone on the planet, having pored over every diet book and article ever written  and, more recently, having scoured the internet for every possible suggestion for acid reflux. I made an appointment anyway, and I assumed that I would wow Poor Pixie with my vast knowledge. As I had imagined, Pixie was a diminutive wisp of a young woman in a skin-tight wrap dress that let the world know that she was most definitely in control of her tiny, cute waistline. Why do I subject myself to this?

Pixie, in her tiny, ant-like voice, gave me a list of foods that she had found would relieve hunger cravings. Does a woman like Pixie get food cravings?  She had suggested such things as having only one piece of fruit (like that was going to happen).  And she gave a list of low sugar-type, designer snacks which I figured would be incredibly effective for weight loss, as one would run out of one’s life savings after a week of purchasing such products.

I have to say that Pixie surprised me. Everything on her list was a great and satisfying find.  Among the suggestions, she shared with me her favorite breakfast recipe: Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, fill with egg whites (about 24) and whatever veggies you have on hand and bake for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.  Then, remove and cut into 4.  Each day, have one of those
with a Laughing Cow Light cheese and whatever else you want.  It will keep you satisfied all day.

I bought a quart-sized carton of egg whites a week ago and they sat there in my refrigerator, mocking me whenever I opened the door (which I have to confess is very, very often). All week, I was yelling at the kids – don’t drink that – it’s egg whites, not milk.  Who was I trying to kid? Am I a sensible make-ahead-breakfast person? I finally got around to trying the egg-white concoction this morning. I shook the carton, poured the whites into a sprayed casserole dish, sprinkled some onion powder on them (not wanting to ruin good vegetables in case this was a bust), and baked the runny, gross-looking mess for 30 minutes. The top was white and the insides mushy, so I baked it for 10 minutes more.  I took it out – the top was a golden yellow, the sides were a bit crisp, and the thing cut neatly into 4.

I ate one for breakfast this morning, with a Laughing Cow Light Swiss Triangle melted over it. I must say, it was yummy and satisfying. Gotta hand it to Pixie!

Come Mr. Tally Man Tally Me Banana

5 Aug

When I joined Weight Watchers this year, I was told “ fruit is no points.” I squealed with delight, imagining all the smoothies I would drink.  I had a great few weeks, popping a banana or nectarine into my mouth whenever I passed the fruit bowl. We were buying 2 dozen bananas a day, and I started swinging from our cherry tree out back and growing hair all over my body.

Then, three weeks in, the meeting leader said “you can’t just eat all the fruit you want. After about three or so, you have to start counting the points.”  What was that all about? There was no three-fruit caveat when I paid my monthly fee. What a ripoff. This was pointless – or more accurately point-full.

I track points online – and when I recorded fruit, it always came up as zero.  There is what we call in the software business an “undocumented feature.”  If you use “recipe builder” and pretend you are using a large banana in a recipe, the total recipe points will increase by 3. Therefore, you need to add 3 points if you are having that extra banana. A small apple is a relative bargain at 1 point.

The topic came up again at this week’s meeting. The newcomers, similarly duped, asked why fruit isn’t a “free food.” The leader told us “You have a choice. Are you in it to game the system? Or do you want to lose weight?”  I have to admit, she had a point.  Or 3.

Oh Nuts!

4 Aug

Last Saturday, David and I sat down to a romantic evening dinner al fresco on Long Beach at Paninis and Bikinis Café, as the warm summer sun began to fade.  I ordered a flip-flop salad, so light and nubile sounding. When my salad came, I set about moving the pieces around with my fork.

“Is something wrong?” David asked.  He knows I’m not one of those fussy, picky eaters who have to examine each morsel.

“Shh, I am counting walnuts,” I said. “There are 10 walnut halves in this salad. I think I can have some Popcorners.”

Though we had spent hours walking the boardwalk in 100-degree weather, the fact remained that 10 walnut halves were “4 points” (I knew this because I use the Weight Watchers® mobile site on my Blackberry and spent the day looking things up) and a bag of Popcorners (which I had never heard of, but apparently Weight Watchers® did) was also “4 points.” I ate the walnuts and only half a bag of the Popcorners.  In the still of the night, after traveling an hour to pick up my son and while making the long drive home, the rest of the Popcorners, one by one, found their way out of the bag and into my mouth.

If I were playing by my old rules, things eaten in pitch blackness would not count. But I had committed to tracking every morsel that went in my mouth. So, I pulled out my Blackberry to record the covert snack indulgence ….. and my Blackberry was out of power.  What to do? What to do?   The next day, I logged into my computer…..oh, that happy feeling of a new day….filled with promise and all new POINTS….how I love those POINTS.   Not only was it a new day—it was a NEW WEEK.  I knew if I didn’t up the Popcorner quantity from the previous day I would be obsessing about it.  So I scrolled back in time and owned up to my indulgence.

How Much Do My Pants Weigh?

1 Aug

I woke up this morning at 6:30 am and began tearing through my
pants bin.

“What’s going on?” asked David.

“I’m looking for my weigh-in pants.”

“Your what?”

Yes, I have a weigh-in ritual. I need to wear the exact same pants and top each time I weigh in, and I use the same scale every week.  The scales are in tenths of a pound after all. I do not wear earrings and I take my glasses off to weigh in. I don’t wash my hair because wet hair (especially all of mine) is bound to add some weight. I don’t eat anything that will bulk me up on Saturday evening, and I pray to the  bowel movement gods that things will “move” before the weigh-in. BM’s are the new post-menopausal equivalent of periods in terms of weigh-in day.

Sure enough, I never found my lucky pants. Instead, I wore the lightest weight pair of shorts in my closet, though they were rumpled and not the least bit flattering, and figured what the hell, I might as well wear a tee-shirt and not my typical weigh-in shirt. I went, with my dirty-but-dry hair, my ugly shorts, and my earring-less earlobes (and I’ll spare you the BM status), sure this would be a weigh-in disaster.  I lost a teeny amount. So next week, I am hoping for a big loss – especially since I am getting my hair cut on Wednesday!

Look I Did it Again….

1 Aug

In August 1991, I became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers® after losing about 15 pounds. I weighed 136, and I had a good six months of lithe, willowy, sexy living until I became pregnant with my daughter. Got back to a concave- belly body, albeit a mom-jeansy one, then had my son, and have been in a rotund daze ever since – cooking, eating, and in general, being quite jolly.  I’ve been back to Weight Watchers® here and there, and I am still—and will always be—a lifetime member, horrifying though that may seem to some. With my daughter off to college and my son  now 16 years old and 5’ 11”, with hairy legs, facial hair, and size 13 feet, I’ve decided it’s finally time for me to lose my pregnancy weight.

Several weeks ago I walked back into Weight Watchers® (again), with my bag of membership booklets, and – they took me back! They had my whole history in that computer (oh the shame), they gave me a gold lifetime membership booklet, and they crossed out all the depressing numbers with a thick black marker so as not to de-motivate me. The program has gone through many changes, but some things have remained the same:  paying a fee to have another human being
weigh you for ten seconds once a week works; tracking every odd bite of food you put in your mouth works; and I am a raving lunatic when I am on Weight Watchers®.

In the past, I’ve told no one of my journey. Now I’ve decided to tell everyone.


  1. This blog is not in any way affiliated with, or an endorsement of, Weight Watchers. WEIGHT
    WATCHERS is the registered trademark of Weight Watchers International, Inc. You can check out their website for more information.
  2. You will not find any full-body “before” and “after” pictures of me.  At some point, I will potentially include a shot that goes below my shoulders. And thereafter, I may provide a top-half shot. Eventually you may see me from head-to-knees. My knee-to-toe profile is
    not exciting at all.  Except for a sea of veins that looks like the world map, that region of my body has stayed the same.
  3. I am not publishing my weight so don’t ask, nosy.
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