Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Leper's Colony

Earlier today, I opined that even when I finally reach my weight loss goal, and I finally believe that might actually be possible, men will still ignore me simply because I am not 20 years old.

Hmmmph! Don't men ever stop to think what they might be missing by not getting to know older women? We're experienced, wise, kinder and less judgmental than we were in our first bloom, and more accepting of human failings in others because we're more aware of our own. But unlike other cultures where the wisdom of age is respected and relied upon, here in America, growing older is treated like a hideous disease. At least for women it is.

You know the old, true, but unfair saying, "Men grow distinguished while women grow haggard?"

Yeah, that one.

Haggard is terrifying to most of us. Here's an example. I am finally, at the tender age of 59, beginning to show a little age on my face. Just within the last week, as I've continued to lose weight, my face is collapsing ever so slightly as the underlying collagen infrastructure softens and settles. I was at the dermatologist having a mole checked and he looked at my face with concern. Then he softly touched the two gentle valleys that were forming on either side of my mouth.

"Don't you want me to fill those in?" he asked.

"No, I don't," I replied. "They're MY wrinkles, I've earned them and I'm proud of them."

He sent me away with a puzzled look, shaking his head as if considering whether he should have written me a referral to a psychiatrist. I mean, what woman wouldn't want to look younger?

This woman. I mean, think about it logically. If I look way younger than my age and I have lost all my weight, I might attract a much younger man. What could be wrong with that? Well, I've already raised my children. If there's going to be a man in my life at all, which at this late date I doubt, I want one who is my contemporary, who can laugh about the 60s and the 70s because he lived through them as a teen and young man, and not just because he read about them in a history book.

Alas, most of the available men my age, upon finding themselves single either through the death of their spouse or by divorce, immediately turn to the androgenous, anorexic "he-women," who weigh 95 pounds and 80 of those pounds are in their fake boobs. Most of the rest of the weight is taken up with hair extensions and gel nails. I mean really, you might as well sleep with a blow-up doll, but what from I read, many of you do anyway.

Geesh again.

This disrespect of and disaffection toward older women is not a problem I am going to solve all by myself. There are occasions, rare but undeniable, when I miss the comfort and warmth of an intimate relationship. But why risk it when I know all that awaits any forays in that direction is scorn and rejection? I can live without that.

Instead, like other older women, I am dismissed instantly and consigned to The Leper's Colony. It's where they send all women over the age of 30, all less than perfect or bothersome women, the place they'd prefer not to think about in case Fate ever sends them there.

On the whole, I am content with my life. I have two wonderful grown children, both a daughter and a son, a loving family of two sisters and a brother, supportive friends and work that I love. What more could I ask?

Oh, except for maybe...a day pass out of The Leper's Colony. That would be nice.

But by the Twelfth Day...

I had lost another pound! Gee, this one only took 12 days, just like i was waiting for Christmas...only not.

So I am down to 195 pounds, still enough to make grown men cry, which contrary to popular opinion, they do a lot anyway, if the exit interviews on this and several other seasons of Top Chef are any indication. But come to think of it, on Top Chef it's probably just the onions.

I am hoping that by the time I am down to 185 or 190, they'll stop doing that. It's very unattractive, not to mention disheartening, when a man sees you, bursts into tears, then turns and runs away, all while screaming for his mommy. Even more disheartening is when they look at you in abject terror, as if you were considering them for the appetizer course, or perhaps even the entreé.


Still, 195 pounds! That's 12 pounds down from a year ago, 12 miles up on my sense of self-confidence and 12 rocket-boosts of determination to keep going. 12 pounds really seems like something. The five pounds, not so much, but when this five pounds becomes 11 pounds and I finally fall below 190 pounds for the first time in many, many years, that will also mark a day of celebration. But just a day. I'll still have 44 pounds to go to reach my goal weight at which point grown men will stop, consider me thoughtfully and think to themselves, "Hmm, that woman has a pretty nice shape for an old broad," and then burst into tears and still run to their mommies because even though I will no longer be fat, I will still be OLD.

And that's a topic for another column.

A 195 pound...
Fat Cat

P. S. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And on the sixth day...

I still haven't lost any more weight, even though the green tea guzzling continues apace. I think my body was so shocked that I tricked it into losing four pounds with green tea that my fat cells have dug in and gone into hiding for a long fight.

But I have to say, if I had my choice of hanging around the 200 pound mark, versus hanging around the 196 pound mark, I'll take the latter any day. I was so-o-o close to 195 today, 196.2 pounds, but I just didn't quite make it. Naturally, to console myself, I went off my diet, so tomorrow I'll probably be at 197 or 198. But I'll get myself back in hand soon.

One other interesting thing, my fancy scale that does everything but brush its own little teeth indicates I lost some body fat with the four pounds, so it wasn't just a fluid loss. And, my face is looking thinner. I didn't notice it, but three different friends on three different days have commented on it so it must be so.

Anyway, Top Chef is on, so I have to go torture myself for an hour by looking at fabulous food when I have already far exceeded my calorie count for the day.

Maybe I'll be back to 200 pounds tomorrow.

Ugh. I hope not!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ups and Downs

I can resist tempting foods, but I admit I am helpless in the face of certain magazines when I am standing in line at the grocery store. You know the ones: Woman's World and First for Women. Their covers always include a photograph of a fetchingly shaped woman, a woman whose body looks like I want MY body to look, and it is accompanied by a headline that reads thusly; "LOSE 50 POUNDS IN 3 DAYS WITH MAGIC EYE-BLINKING TRICK!"

Even though I know what I'm in for, even though I know there will be more "trick" than "magic," and certainly more "trick" than "weight loss," my hand reaches automatically for the guilty issues, and they are plopped into my basket at the last minute, whilst I chastise myself furiously for wasting money this way. And yet, and yet, they remain in the buggy, then find their way onto the conveyor belt, and before I can squeek out, "Er-um..." I've bought them.

Then I bring them home and morosely thumb through the short romance and the mystery in Woman's World, and the recipes in First for Women, all while trying to tell myself I DIDN'T buy them merely to read about their latest outrageous weight loss claims, when in fact, I did.

The articles always feature women who have been miserably fat their entire adult lives, but BF or "before fat," they were miraculously pretty, happy and successful. Every American woman knows how being less than svelte, less than perfect body-wise, can ruin your whole life, right? And if you don't, may I refer you to Woman's World and First for Women so you can get up to speed? Because they will let you know how truly awful you really are at your current weight, straight from the mouths of formerly overweight women who swallowed the magic beans thus prescribed and somehow, the beans worked for them, even though they never seem to work for me. But there they are on the cover of a magazine, and here I am, huddled behind my computer, writing this piteous bleat.

The weight loss and exercise articles usually consist of an excerpt from the New York Times best-selling "fad diet du jour" book. I confess I have on several occasions read the articles carefully, and then set out to do just what they suggest, which usually involves an investment of several hundred dollars in special food, vitamins, herbs, and equipment, not to mention the suggested book, plus I also buy additional life insurance in case I accidentally kill myself while trying to follow the diets and/or exercise routine.

I did one that consisted entirely of three days of watery protein shakes and fresh juice. The whole idea was that you were juicing or shaking every three hours or so, so you wouldn't be hungry. The payoff? A 10 pound loss in those three days.


By the end of three hours, much less three days, I was so hungry I might have cheerfully plopped my neighbor on the barbee if I had happened to see her in the yard. I was so hungry I was gnawing the legs of my dining room table for fiber and sustenance. I lasted one day and lost two pounds which came right back on the next day, plus one extra for good measure.

Now you may think that the "accidentally killing" myself part was somewhat of an overwrought reference, but sadly, it did almost happen. I, a strong woman who stands proudly on my sturdy, if somewhat overlarge "Pillars of Hercules," was reduced to a mewling kitten by one day of following some exercise routine posted in Woman's World. My doctor looked at the magazine and said any untested, out of shape ewe like myself who even tried to follow it would end up with a 100% chance of injury. And I did. I, whose back had never hurt for a day in my life, spent three days curled up in a fetal ball in my bed, howling in agony whenever I rose up from the haze of painkillers.

Fortunately the damage was not permanent.

So, you would think that I had learned, but no. I just bought a First for Women last week with a cover that reads: "Lose 47 pounds by Christmas!" I turned inside and found an article laden with claims but few facts. A thorough re-reading convinced me I could lose the weight by simply drinking 4 cups of green, black, white or oolong tea per day, sweetened with one ounce of orange juice per cup to increase its weight-reduction benefits. So I bit. I like tea, I like orange juice, so why not? At least it would be a relatively painless change.

And in four days I lost four pounds. I did. And they have stayed lost, even though I am still eating as per usual, and still half-heartedly exercising a few times a week. In other words, I didn't change a single thing except add the green tea, which I think must have flushed out some excess fluid from my body, and nothing more.

So, you do the math. I lost four pounds in four days, then nothing for the past five days, even though I'm still swilling tea like an intemperate barfly. That means I still have 43 pounds to go before Christmas. Today's the 18th of November, which means I have to lose more than a pound a day for the next 37 days. Which ain't happening.

But I did lose those four pounds, and I am now finally below 200, those four pounds below, and I have to admit it is nice to see my weight fluctuate between 196 and 199 pounds during the course of the day, rather than between 200 and 203. It's just a psych thing, but it matters to me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back again

Even though it's been a long time since I posted anything about my weight loss journey, I'm back again. I finally broke the 200 pound mark and now weigh 199 pounds. Since I started at around 207 pounds, that's an amazing weight loss of - "Ta-dah!" 8 pounds in 13 months. Yeah, I know. Hold your applause.

But at least, unlike previous years, I weigh less this year than last. So my walking must be doing something. Even if I can't really see any visible changes, it seems to have kept the usual 7 to 10 pound yearly automatic weight gain from accumulating. So, instead of weighing 214 to 217 pounds this year, I weigh 199 pounds. That's good.

That's how I got to be so overweight, was the yearly creeping up on me of a few pounds here, a few pounds there. At least this year, I lost weight instead of gaining it.

Since I'm a visual person, I like to use little reminders that serve to keep me on track with my goals. I now have 54 pounds to go to reach my goal weight of 145 pounds. I got a free ticker that shows my progress. I started a few weeks ago at 200 pounds and the slider shows the one pound I have lost since then.

Here it is:

I'm kind of mulling over a new approach to this blog, but have to talk to Pigassus first.

Anyway, that's all for now. Top Chef Season 5 premiered last night and I was disappointed that, on first look at least, I didn't find anyone to root for. The Biggest Loser is wrapping up its 6th season and it's been a doozy, with some of the nastiest contestants ever. The producers seriously need to take this show back to its original inspirational format and stop selecting contestants who are mentally unstable and who exhibit vicious personalities on air. It's embarrassing. The show has become such a conglomeration of product placement that it's ridiculous. Very little in the way of tips and nutritional information anymore.

Until next time! Hope that will be in a few days or weeks instead of months!

UPDATE! - I didn't realize the ticker was dynamic, meaning it would update on this blog as my weight drops and I change it on my weight loss management page, which is my private way of tracking my progress and encouraging myself to keep going. I made one small change this week; I started drinking 4 cups of green tea a day, each sweetened with one ounce of orange juice. I just read a study that said mixing one ounce of unsweetened natural citrus juice with each cup of green tea greatly enhances the tea's fat-burning properties by allowing the release and activation of more of the tea's catechins. So I have lost 4 pounds nows, not just one. I'm down to 196 pounds, the lowest I've been in years. I hope this keeps working, and that I'm not just dreaming, but so far, so good. The ticker will continue to change as I keep losing weight.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 2 - Switching It Around

Today is the fruit day. I am supposed to have one serving of something called "low energy density" fruit every two hours. According to the experts, that is fruit that contains the highest possible volume of water, fiber and enzymes. The lower the numeric value, the higher the energy density.

The acceptable fruits listed in the article were:

Fruit Energy Density

Strawberries .2
Raspberries .3
Watermelon .3
Grapefruit .3
Canteloupe .4
Honeydew .4
Papaya .4
Peaches .4
Tangerines .4
Oranges .6
Apricots .5
Pineapple .5
Plums .6
Blueberries .6
Apples .6

I was curious about how these values were derived, so I went surfing around the Internet to find out. I particularly wanted to know because I eat a banana every day to help my blood pressure. I was already missing my daily bowl of raisin bran with the sliced banana on top; I really didn't want to go three days without a banana. If the energy density of bananas fell within the acceptable values, I could see no reason not to include it in my diet.

After much searching, and I do mean MUCH, I finally found the answer I needed on a website called Here's the formula:

Energy Density = calories per serving divided by the weight of the serving in grams.

I went looking for the calories contained in a banana and found:

This is an absolutely great site. It allows you to easily track your calorie intake meal by meal, snack by snack and day by day. Not only does it have calorie counts for just about every food and beverage you can think of, raw or packaged, home or restaurant-prepared, but it also allows you to enter caloric and nutritional values for foods you consume in your own diet.

For example, I favor this particular brand of organic popcorn that I couldn't find in the caloriecount site, so I entered it. Now, whenever I put a serving of this very healthy snack into a snack category, its correct nutritional and caloric values pop right into my daily food profile.

Anyway, I soon discovered bananas have an energy density of .6, the same as many other fruits on the acceptable list. So I made a banana my first meal of the day, and an apple my second. But just like yesterday, by the time lunch rolled around, I was so hungry that's all I could think about. The plan calls for me to have another serving of fruit for lunch. I knew I would be horribly uncomfortable for the rest of the afternoon if I did that, so I decided to switch things up a bit and eat my dinner for lunch. Scientifically, this has actually been proven to be a much healthier way to eat. When you eat a larger meal later in the day, your digestive system doesn't have as much time to process the food as it would if you ate that same meal for lunch. Eating big meals in the evening can lead to a variety of digestive problems like acid reflux.

So, I ate my dinner at lunchtime. I also didn't eat a huge 6-cup salad like the plan called for. I ate a one cup serving of a very healthy casserole I prepared with onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, olive oil, grass-fed organic ground beef and brown rice.

I know, I know. All the things I'm not supposed to have on this diet plan...meat and carbs. But you know what? I feel satisfied and full. I will be able to get some work done this afternoon without the distraction of overwhelming hunger.

For the rest of the day, I'll do the fruit every two hours thing, then at dinner I'll eat a 2 cup salad, not 6 cups. I ended up throwing out about half the salad from last night because I simply couldn't eat that much food in one sitting. If there's one thing I hate more than being fat, it's wasting food. Now that I think of it, that's probably one of the reasons I am fat. In the past, when I thought something was going to waste, I ate it. Now, even though it hurts, if it can't be refrigerated for the next day, I just throw it out.

I know I have probably blown the whole thing. But I can't stick to a program that is making me feel physically weak and cranky. I did lose 2 pounds overnight, going from 204 down to 202, but I don't fool myself that it's a real or permanent weight loss.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.

Planet Fat Cat

Monday, August 4, 2008

The First Day of Many

So, today was the big day. I started on a new diet plan. It's from the June 30th, 2008 issue of First Magazine. The cover headline reads, "Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Days," which is mild for these magazines. I've seen magazine covers that say, "Lose 50 Pounds in 3 Minutes Just By Blinking Your Eyes!!!" But when you open them up, you either can't find the article or you discover that in order to achieve the suggested results, you also have to have gastric bypass surgery. And that 3 minutes? Turns out it was a typo. They really meant three years, you know, to give the surgery time to work. Plus, you have to give up proteins, carbs and fats. But you can chew sugarless gum.

The actual article I'm following is called, "Summer Fruit Breakthrough." It's not really that much of a breakthrough; I've been reading variations on this juice fast theme for years now. The first day, today, I have been drinking an 8 ounce protein shake made with Jay Robb's whey protein, every two hours. Then at dinner I was supposed to have a salad made with 6 cups of raw vegetables and 6 ounces of lean protein (I used sliced turkey) with a dressing made from 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon.

Here's how the day went. As time progressed, I got hungrier and hungrier. And I don't mean normal hunger. I mean, "Oh, my God! Why did I ever decide to be a contestant on Survivor? I've been on the island 7 days without a single bite of solid food!" hunger. It literally gnawed at me from the inside out. I've never been on a diet that did that to me, but then again, I've never been on a diet that was almost all liquid almost all day.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was ready to gnaw the legs off my coffee table. I made the salad and dressing but here's a weird thing. I could only eat half of it. When I thought about it logically, six cups is a LOT of food. I think it would have been smarter to eat a 3 cup salad at lunch and then another 3 cup salad at dinner. But I am nothing if not obedient, so I dutifully tried to chow down the whole thing. I only made it about halfway through, and then two hours later was ravenously hungry again. But by that time, the salad was dead. If there's one thing I WILL NOT eat, it's a dead salad.

Conclusion? Even though I have stuck to the plan, I don't like this diet. I have been obsessed with thoughts of food all day long, to the extent that I didn't get much work done.

Tomorrow the plan changes to eating fruit every two hours, followed by another of those giant salads, but with no protein in the salad, just another of those watery, totally unsatisfying protein shakes. So for two days I will have virtually no protein except for that one lone 8 ounce shake.

At the end of the three days, I'll report my results, then go back to eating my normal diet. I don't expect to lose ten pounds, but I would be happy with two to three.

Next Monday, I'm trying a different three-day plan. Come back them for the details.

Planet Fat Cat

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Starting All Over Again...Again

Oh, I am so tired of all this, but I have decided, yet again, that I really MUST get up off my tush and do something about my weight, or risk turning into a human blob. I don't want to be like that poor woman in Florida who was so fat she couldn't get up from the sofa, and after three years, she finally grew INTO the sofa and they had to send the whole damn fire department to cut her loose. And then she died anyway.

Okay, so I don't weigh 800 pounds, but I do weigh 204 pounds and I should only weigh 150 pounds. So I am carrying around an extra 54 pounds that makes everything about my life more difficult. My hips and knees and ankles hurt from lugging around all the excess flesh, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get used to the looks of revulsion on the faces of men I see out in public. I'm not hideous to look at, but apparently my fat is, and it terrifies men. Why fat women should be more terrifying to normal-sized men than fat men are to normal-sized women is a topic for another day. I guess I am the living embodiment of that old cliché..."oh, she's got a pretty face...if only she wasn''t SO FAT!!!"

I am tired of being SO FAT!!! So, probably inspired by watching too much of the Tour de France this month, I have decided to get juiced. No, I am not taking performance enhancing drugs...I am going to start juicy-juicing. I bought a juicer, and lots of fresh organic fruit and veggies, and I am going to "get juiced." Supposedly juicing flushes all the toxins out of your liver that keep you from losing weight. Doesn't sound any less plausible than any of the other diet plans I've read about, so I might as well give it a try.

I have also totally given up Coca-Cola again...hah! I claim this time it will stick, but all my so-called friends have bets on how long I will last.

Anyway, I am pleased to note that whereas I started my last effort at 206 pounds, this time I am starting from 204 pounds. So the last little vestiges of the few pitiful pounds I lost by exercising like a maniac last fall are still hanging on.

Anyway, this big event starts on Monday, so tune in then for my first update.

Planet Fat Cat

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The State of Texas Finally Figures Out a Way to Get Rid of My Ass

Longtime readers (I'm not going to do the easy joke here...) know that I have tried almost everything to budge the fat cells from my rear end, with little success to show for my efforts. Now, the Lone Star State has finally figured out a way to get rid of my ass for good.

As a freelance writer and reporter, I am always surfing the net looking for potential gigs. I have registered on many job sites, and posted my resume on many more. So Texas, in its wisdom, sent me a real doozy of a job last week...combat videographer in Iraq.

Boo-yah! There you go! Never mind that I'm a 59-year-old, overweight, out-of-shape woman, never mind that I have never operated a video camera in my life. My resume includes the word "reporter" and the job description included the phrase "battlefield reporter," so in the eyes of the computer, it was a match! Not necessarily one made in heaven, but a match nonetheless.

Not to seem ungrateful or anything, but I passed. I know, I know. The first surefire way to get rid of my ass in history and I lift my nose at it! I must really want to stay fat. That's all I can conclude. Or maybe I just really want to stay alive and NOT have my ass blown to kingdom come.

Okay, here's the real scoop: I think I would have had a hell of a time trying to operate a 40-pound video camera from beneath my burka.

Planet Fat Cat
Firmly planted in Southwestern North America

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oinks on the Passing Scene 2

Since I am melancholy today because of the myriad problems that are facing my friends and relations, as opposed to the usual self pity, I am not experiencing the desire to write about losing weight and instead wish to revisit something I introduced months ago: Oinks on the Passing Scene.

In case no one remembers, “Oinks” are my poor imitation of economist Thomas Sowell’s “Thoughts on the Passing Scene”… with my own irreverent twists thrown in for effect. I hope he forgives me for aping his style; I pray I am not wrong in believing all these thoughts are at least original to me.

With that in mind:

1. The movie “Cloverfield” was better than I could have imagined only because it was obvious, if you could keep from hurling from the jitter camera work, that all the people involved actually put tremendous effort into making the movie look … real. Can any normal person even conceive of how much education, training, and artistic talent it must take to make it look like a 30 story alien actually destroyed New York?

2. The current crop of presidential candidates has me pining away for a return to an old feudal system: We would still all be filthy, starving surfs, but at least we wouldn’t have been responsible for ELECTING our own nasty, idealess, pandering, self-aggrandizing weaklings to leadership.

3. The Universe continues to remind me of the axiom that “you get what you pay for”: Although I have tried for weeks to ignore the tiny bits of bone I have found in my (now infamous) Jenny O’s Chicken Rings, today I nearly cracked a tooth on a fragment that must have been the chicken’s entire leg. It may be time to spend more than $1.99 on three pounds of frozen “chicken” product and pay more attention to what I’m putting in my mouth.

4. Two years ago I purchased a watch that was too large for my rather chubby wrist. Since then I have lost a substantial amount of weight and my jewelry now constantly annoys me by sliding down my arm whenever I look at it. But I refuse to get it adjusted because my twisted mind insists on believing that the loose watch will make me look thin to any observers… instead of like a dork who keeps checking his elbow to see what time it is.

5. Violent wind noise, leaking tops, higher insurance costs, negligible trunk space, and lower safety still can’t hamper a convertible’s ability to induce big smiles on a sunny day across an open road.

6. Yesterday while the world wrestled with mounting hunger, unrest, and political instability my buddies and I spent most of our intellectual talent on coming up with a new radio phonetic alphabet based on “porn words”. I mean Whiskey Tango Foxtrot dudes!

7. Men are pigs.

8. The rise of the middle class in modern Western society has done more to create equality between the sexes than any law ever passed.

9. Cutting edge computer operating systems and text editing software have become so damn “helpful” that it practically takes a learning annex course just to figure out how to turn them on and disable all those wonderfully “helpful” little extras that no one needs and few use.

10. My father was shocked to hear that young men today use as many hair care and hair styling products as young women do. What will I be shocked to hear about the younger generation when I am his age?


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear

Long time readers, both of you, will probably think that the title above refers to my efforts to make myself more appealing through the magic of diet and exercise. Forgetting a moment that I have never referred to the FEMA disaster area that is my body as a "sow's ear", I am slightly offended that anyone would assume my ideal body would in any way inspire visions of a silk purse. Jackhammer maybe, soft hand bag, no.

But as they say, no accounting for taste.

Which is my incredibly smooth segue into the real point of today's screed: I have become a wizard at turning ordinary and inoffensive foods into somewhat tasty abominations. Now either I am like a medieval alchemist or Dr. Frankenstein, but either way I have found a gift and it's not for metaphor.

I thought of this talent today because I had just finished my take on ... some classic dish that involved chicken and broccoli and honey mustard. I am so not trained as a chef that I don't even know what it is that my trailer-park creations are mimicking. But I assume there is a Bennigan's restaurant out there somewhere that serves a breaded chicken breast stuffed with broccoli florets, covered with melted Swiss cheese and served with a warm honey mustard sauce. But since I don't have time for all that, I used Jenny O's Chicken Rings microwaved to perfection with frozen broccoli cuts and slices of mozzarella cheese melted on top. The honey mustard I believe came from Ken's Steak House brand and was not great, so I went ahead and added some spicy brown mustard.

You see, it's the little touches like those that really make it special.

The problem is that I know, no, I HAVE created the real dishes in my kitchen at one time or another. I have sauteed fresh vegetables and stuffed them into succulent chicken breast which I then baked in a flavorful homemade sauce. I have fussed over exact flavor combinations for meats and breads and rices and sauces until I almost couldn't taste anymore and then served these masterpieces to friends and family and smiled when they gobbled down the results in seconds... and then asked for thirds.

But now it is just me, and the desire to create gourmet food has ended. Expediency is the new salt; inexpensive is the new garlic; inoffensive is the new lemon.

Just remember that if I ever invite you over to my house for "veal scallopini over linguine", I probably really mean "Tyson Chicken Nuggets with warm Newman's Own Italian Dressing".

You have been warned.


Monday, April 14, 2008

My Dear Pigassus...

As always you manage to both entertain and amuse me. I love your writing. Guess that's why we're doing a blog together!

I started to make a comment on your latest post and when it exceeded the maximum allowable characters, I realized I needed to dash off a quick blog entry to make one important observation vis à vis your view of palm oil. Repeat after me: Palm oil is GOOD! Palm oil is GOOD!

My dear friend, the question you pose, "What Next?" is a question I struggle with every day, the food version of the man stranded alone in a boat in the middle of the vast ocean who says to himself right before he dies of thirst, "Water! Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!"

That's how I feel when I go into a grocery store or restaurant. Food! Food everywhere, but almost nothing fit to eat. I am so hungry all the time but can only rarely find anything in a grocery that piques my interest or desire.

So back to the palm oil thing. You have succumbed to our government's oft published false statements about the dangerous nature of palm oil. It was all part of a campaign of dissinformation disseminated by the government when it was pushing liquid oils after World War II. Their mantra was, "Solid oil=BAD; liquid oil=GOOD!"

We now know this is simplistic and wrong. Hydrogenated solid oils are BAD; they are solid at room temperature only through chemistry, the addition of a hydrogen molecule to the oil lowers the temperature required to make the oil solid. Trouble is, these artifically solid oils don't easily melt and liquify at body termperature, so they fill your digestive system and your arteries with artificially hard particles that do real damage, causing injury like nicks in the walls of blood vessels as they careen through your body. The body's response to these injuries is to rush to repair them. The bandaid it uses to patch over these nicks is cholesterol, so eating hydrogenated oil starts the process of artery clogging that eventually results in heart attacks and bypass surgery.

As for liquid oils, read my previous post, "My Own Private Raisin Bran," and you'll see that not all liquid oils are safe or healthy either. Olive oil, yes, because the cold pressed variety is natural and doesn't contain any added chemicals or solvents. If you buy the "lite" olive oil however, look out, because that stuff is adulterated with chemicals to make it "lite."

Your body understands how to handle oils that are naturally solid at room temperature. Room temperature is usually 25 to 30 degrees lower than your body temperature, so solid oils melt and liquify when you ingest them. Even though they are solid on your kitchen shelf, they are liquid and soft after you eat them. Does this mean you can eat palm oil in huge quantities? No, but don't believe it is unhealthy. It is loaded with antioxidants and tocopherals that are natural preservatives; therefore it does not easily go rancid like some chemically extracted vegetable oils. Rancid oils are bad because ingesting them causes enormous free radical damage to the cells of your body, damage that accelerates aging and disease processes.

On the down side, the growing demand for palm oil in the United States is leading to the massive clearing of natural habitats in Malaysia and Indonesia to make room for more palm plantations. This is of particular concern in Indonesia where the clearing threatens both the Orangutan and the Sumatran tiger.

Like anything in life, there are trade-offs, but my one inviolate rule is, I NEVER put anything in my mouth that came from Dr. Frankenfood's chem lab.

Eh, so what's for lunch?

Planet Fat Cat

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Next?

On the journey of self-discovery, one crosses many uncomfortable truths: I will never be a rock star, my hair follicles don’t find my temples as hospitable a place to live as they once did, and although I posses a fertile mind, I generally react more creatively than I create. Thus I am easily inspired, but not usually from within. Am I a “brilliant mimic” as Drew Barrymore describes her character in the underrated romantic comedy “Music and Lyrics”? No, forgiving the call and answer, I would suggest I am more like a really clever earthworm: stimulus and response on a much higher plateau.

Great. And if I ever decide to crawl around naked, digesting soil for the benefit of America’s beleaguered family farmers, perhaps society can find a use for me. But oh how I have digressed.

The reason for this recent examination comes from a reaction to another writer’s work. This evening I read Fat Cat’s latest post “My Own Private Raisin Brand” and it prompted me, as usual, to write a column. How I wish the idea had come to me “organically”, but alas it did not. No, if credit is due, Fat Cat gets a prize; if blame should be necessary, Fat Cat done it!

You see, what on Earth am I supposed to eat now?

I LOVE raisin brand. In fact, I love high fructose corn sweetener. Just a few weeks ago I actually bought a bottle of Caro Syrup. I did so despite the fact that I KNEW it was essentially bottled demon’s bile. Not surprisingly, the whole section of sweeteners was behind glass and I was forced to call the manager to come open the display. The mandatory counseling session that preceded my purchase seemed like overkill, but what was a ten minute lecture on the near-radioactive nature of the syrup compared to its delicious and Heavenly flavor?

Yet despite my desire for tasty yummies, all the warnings about my imminent death from carbs finally got to me: I threw out the Caro last week in a fit of pique and dread for my health (I could actually hear a Celestial Chorus sing out as I did so). I also threw out my ketchup, my cereal, my tiny little bag of white sugar (near to spoiling for age), my strawberry jam, and my half-used bottle of chocolate ice-cream topping (never once poured on actual ice-cream). All of them had some type of vile sweetener in them or a palm oil or worse. Heck, the ketchup was probably made from tobacco! Though mostly unused in my kitchen, and only very sparingly at that, they HAD TO GO. Like lead paints of old, these foods could kill me and I wouldn’t even know it.

But after the rapture of my liberation from the Evil Additives, I felt vacant and, well, hungry. What was I supposed to eat? Carbs are bad, saturated fat is bad, low fiber is bad (as so is too high a fiber I hear), palm oil is bad, preservatives are bad, packaged foods are bad, fried foods are bad, bleached food is bad, meat is bad, mercury-laced fish is bad, unwashed organic vegetables are bad, tap water is bad, IT’S ALL BAD.

What next, they find crack cocaine and unprotected sex with hookers is bad too??

Assuming you could find uncontaminated soil and create your own untainted fertilizer, the only thing left to do would be to grow your own vegetables at home. Finally! Good food to eat at every meal and healthy living for decades to come…

Until the radon gas got you.

So do what you will, I am heading to the Quickie Mart to get some Twinkies, a fifth of Jim Beam and a carton of Lucky Smacks brand unfiltered smokes,


P.S. Apologies to my good friend Fat Cat! Generally in all things health-related we agree, but sometimes the useless rebel in my lashes out. Know that the whole time my tongue was firmly in cheek, and I only pretended to enjoy a Hershey’s Bar while I wrote. Or did I!?

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Own Private Raisin Bran

Part of my plan to get healthy includes eating healthy. The breakfast part of that is easy, or at least I thought it was until I started reading nutritional labels. Ever since I was a little girl, raisin bran has been my favorite cereal. It didn't matter whether it was Post or Kellogg's; I just loved the stuff. I felt like if I ate a bowl of that with a sliced banana and 1 percent milk every morning, I was doing my body a big favor.

Wrong. The Post raisin bran delivers a whopping 46 grams of carbs and Kellogg's 45 grams of crabs, all thanks to a relatively new ingredient that doesn't even need to be there in the first place....high fructose corn syrup or HFCS.

Regular readers know that last fall I went on a 90 Day Walking Program. Despite sticking to it faithfully, eventually walking a half hour a day on my treadmill for six days out of every week, and despite really cutting out the junk, including soda and, I thought, sweets, I didn't lose any weight. It was one of the biggest puzzles ever.

Recently I got serious about eating organic and realized I was going to have to find an organic brand of raisin bran. To get a sense of where to start, I read the labels on my old faithfuls, Post and Kellogg's. That's when I got the shock of my life. Both brands were loaded not only with sugar, but also HFCS. What? What possible earthly reason could there be to adulterate a healthy cereal with HFCS? It's a substance that's been linked to unexpected increases in body weight, problems with satiety and hunger resulting in higher caloric intake, rapid increases in fat mass, and problems with the hormone signaling system the body uses to regulate food intake. Since HFCS is now a key ingredient in most packaged foods, it's harder than you think to avoid. So maybe that's the hidden reason why the mass of my ass won't budge.

HFCS is not just in foods where you would expect to find it. For instance, would you believe that almost all sausage contains HFCS as a major ingredient? Now why does something piquant and savory, that's flavored with garlic and onions, need sugar of any kind? It's bizarre. It's also in ketchup of all places, fruit juice (like that needs to be sweeter!), yogurt, premade pasta and piza sauce, canned soups and fruits, salad dressings, (another weird place for it to be...who needs sweet dressings?) breads, and sad to say, even breakfast cereals.

HFCS is the only sweetener in soda, so when I gave up my huge daily soda intake at the beginning of my walking program, I got rid of lots of HFCS. Yet, that didn't lead to any weight loss, probably because I was chowing down a huge jolt of HFCS every morning with breakfast, right along with my "healthy" raisin bran.

So, I went on a hunt for a healthy raisin bran to replace my Kellogg's and Post brands, one that had bran, raisins and little else. But I didn't have much luck. All the organic brans didn't have much fiber, which was weird, but worse than that, many brands had raisins coated with safflower or sunflower oil. It's amazing to me how companies that purport to be manufacturing "healthy" organic foods are so ignorant of the basic tenents of nutrition. Sunflower and safflower oils are among the polyunsaturates that contain a dangerous imbalance of omega fatty acids. Ideally, Omega 3 and Omega 6 should exist in a 1 to 1 balance. But in many polyunsaturates, the ratio is more like 20 units of Omega 6 to 1 unit of omega 3. If you ingest these oils as a regular part of your diet, this imbalance leads to a chronic inflammatory state in the body. So what? you may be asking. Well, chronic inflammatory states lead to disease...specifically heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, kidney failure, fibromyalgia, pancreatitis, lupus and Alzheimer's Disease, among others. When you listen to the so-called experts and try to "lighten up' your diet by removing hydrogenated oils, which are truly deadly, and replacing them with polyunsaturates, which some uninformed journalists and even some doctors mistakenly call healthy, you are putting your body in a chronic state of inflammation, which, I assure you, is not a good thing.

So, to keep my brain from becoming even more inflamed than it is normally, I stay away from polyunsaturates that are high in Omega 6. So no raisins coated with oil for me. Once again, a manufacturer adds a bizarre ingredient where it isn't even needed and once again, I was unable to find a raisin bran to suit my needs.

Time to get creative. I quickly found some wonderful organic raisins by Tree of Life. The wheat bran flakes were harder to find, but I finally settled on Nature's Path Heritage Flakes, which have 22 grams of carbs per serving and 100 calories. Then I add two tablespoons of raisins which add another 15 grams of carbs and 65 calories, for a total of 37 grams of carbs and 165 calories. Now I know that's not all that much lower than the 45 and 46 grams and the 190 and 187 calories in the national brands, but I'm putting much higher quality food in my mouth by doing this. It's like I have my own private raisin bran, which I would take over my own private Idaho any day.

Planet Fat Cat
Trying a new orbit

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Production Junction, What's Your Function?

Today marked the end of the “messy” phase of my year that began maybe nine or ten months ago. Back then I moved my computer out of the spare room and placed it, quite controversially, in the living room and squarely in front of the large plasma television that my mother purchased for me at Christmas, 2006. Showing my gift for rationalization, I thought I would be more productive if I had the distraction of hundreds of overpriced cable television channels, and so I abandoned my ersatz office and turned it into a temporary “storage” area.

“Temporary” eventually became the word worthy of quotation marks.

Over the course of many months, the one or two boxes in the room became intimately familiar with one-another and uncontrollably spawned dozens of children. Apparently the spectacle of boxes making dirty cardboard love also attracted a multitude of unused pillows, blankets, picture frames, computer accessories, books, compact disks, tables, weights, papers, and “nic-naks” (which I do not esteem but have because of well-meaning friends and relatives). Whatever the actual cause of the congregation of loose and untidy objects, eventually the room became a jungle of “crap” that was neither too useless to throw away nor too important to be used with any regularity. Finally, something in my life was disorganized and for months I couldn’t have been happier with my progress toward filthy.

I should mention that at some point last year I actually became determined to be less compulsive in an attempt to spark some long-buried creativity. Reasoning that rigid organization of my general life and apartment somehow had stifled the random thoughts that birthed creativity in writing, I vowed to scramble my living space. By yesterday, the apartment looked awful and no one could claim that hadn’t become less “anal” (or enamored of quotation marks to be sure).

Pity it turns out anality doesn’t stifle creativity as much as lazality. Which is to say that after ten months of being uneasy at the deteriorating condition of my home, and possibly attracting rodents, the only thing I had started to create with greater regularity was garbage. It was time to chuck the whole “amateur behavioral psychologist” stinker and just get on with some spring cleaning.

So now, still honoring my mother’s generous gift, I am standing here in front of my computer and simultaneously watching “The River Wild” on some Encore cable channel. My spare room has morphed, through hernia inducing physical and mental effort, into something resembling a clean and tidy work-out room/storage area. Though not aesthetically appealing from a design perspective (and what around here is?), the room is organized enough to afford a space in which I can weight train. You can never go back to Eden, apparently, and so mystically the room will be partially storage until I move. But such price, wisdom.

Now so far I haven’t mentioned anything related to losing mass on my body, but I think on the balance I shed a great deal of weight off my mind. For in the process of cleaning today I threw away a great many things that at one time I considered memorabilia too precious to abandon. The junk, indescribably varied, simply ceased to haunt me or pain me or in some cases interest me. Although one day I may pine away for those things I released into Infinity today, overall the paring of my accumulated belongings was cathartic.

Now to pare down my ass.

If only THAT were as easy as throwing out some old boxes.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Two Bagger

If you were really tasked to think about it, what would make you happy in half-pound increments? Would a half-pound hamburger delight you? Perhaps a half-pound of cocaine? Solid gold, a little gleaming ingot?

For me, this last week I was made slightly happier with the removal of a half pound of something rather than its addition: I now weigh a Slyph-like 223.0 pounds. That’s right, apparently all the whining and complaining about being a whale managed to burn away at least 1700 kCals of stored energy in the form of human adipose tissue. And you thought the groaning on about inspiration and disappointment was wasted time!

But not one to rest on my laurels, I fully intend to bitch and moan some more until another half-pound melts off my ass. Actually, if it’s true that just being really pissed about obesity burns calories, I intend to go around being angry all the time and just grouse my way to Nirvana.

If nothing else, imagine the conversations at the grocery store:

Underpaid Teenaged Clerk Named Candy: “Hello sir, did you find everything you needed today?”

Me: “Yeah, and about fifty more pounds of it in the ‘Disgusting Middle-Aged Phenomena Isle.”

Candy: “I’m new to the store sir, is that by fresh produce?”

Me: “Trust me, Cindy, there is nothing fresh OR tasty about a bitter, fat guy.”

Candy: “My name is Candy, and uh, do you need any stamps or ice today?”

Me: “Only if a bag of ice can sooth the disappointment of not having a date in several years.”

Candy: “Oh God… I uh, have a boyfriend. Two! Big ones. Oh man, Mom told me this was a bad idea… uhm… what was I supposed to do… oh yeah! Paper or plastic?”

Me: “Any chance I’ll ‘accidentally’ suffocate in a paper bag while checking the bottom for loose change?”

Candy: “…”

Me: “Plastic. And don’t forget to double bag the ice cream, please. Last time it fell out and I had to bend over to pick it up. Which, trust me, that ain't something anybody wants to see."

Candy: “Manager to checkout 7…”

Hey, could be fun!


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nancy Drew a Blank

So I’m watching the new “Nancy Drew” movie tonight and I can’t help but think that I missed the boat somehow. Actually I didn’t just miss one boat, but perhaps more accurately, I missed the entire fleet (not to be confused with Fleet Enemas, which I am more than happy to avoid). If you include some embarrassing quick “dates” I had post-high school, I missed the entire Spanish Armada.

You see, although the movie made had all the excitement of watching carpet re-fluff after you step off of it, I found myself rather jealous of the child stars. Not for their youth did I get all green with envy, but for the opportunities they are embracing in life. These pimply, nasty little creatures obviously reached out to fame with both hands, clawed after it when it tried to elude them, and then rapaciously clutched onto it when it finally managed to get close enough to capture. Granted the star, Emma Roberts, probably didn’t have to step over too many bodies given her famous father Eric or aunt Julia, but still, not every tween in the picture had such illustrious lineage. The grotesquely fat “comedy” relief in the picture MUST have begged for the roll and peed himself silly when he got that call from the director. These kids worked it.

And despite having a f**king bus-load of similar potential and energy when I was their age, I chose to feign away from fame like it had an open sore and a potential for lifelong recurrences. I hesitate to use such an expansive and overly inclusive phrase like “failure” when referring to myself, but if it has a blow hole and swims in the ocean folks it’s not a Volkswagen. So, yes, I’m a failure.

But I digress.

I meant really to tell people not to spend any money renting “Nancy Drew” because it’s just dull (like napping on the couch, wipe the drool from your chin, now my hair looks like crap, dull). But my actual intention to write a movie review was derailed by one recurring thought: people were paid to write the film, direct it, and star in it. And no matter how great or awful they thought it was, they had the confidence, courage, and determination to get it made regardless of any obstacles they encountered.

Lord, give me that courage!

And, if you’re feeling especially generous, a refund on “Nancy Drew”. Haven’t I suffered enough?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm Back (Again)...and Off Topic for the Moment

I have been long absent from these boards, a combination of health problems, time constraints and just a general, down-in-the-dumps, what's it all for? sort of nihilism. Translated into English, that means, "Ugh! Do I have really have to get up again today? Didn't I just get up yesterday?"

Now this goes against the grain of my innate, Pollyanna-like optimism. But I think I just had to write one too many stories at my weekend job as a television news producer about some cretin who thought he just had to have sex with a four-month-old baby...his daughter, his nephew, some baby in a day care didn't matter except that it ruined the innocent child's life.

After I wrote the third story in less than two weeks, I just collapsed psychologically. What kind of world are we living in where grown men can look at a baby and think, "Hmm, sexy!" The way so many young girls are handing it out like it was Halloween candy (because we raise them to think that's what they are supposed to do), no man should ever have trouble finding someone to bang. And yet these children keep getting targeted.

I think I know at least part of the reason why. Last year, I went to buy a cute little outfit for my then two-year-old niece. Even though I was shopping at an "upscale" store in an "upscale" Galleria type shopping mall, I was absolutely shocked at what I found in the toddler department. Without exception, the outfits all looked like they were designed for hookers, with plunging necklines, sparkly appliques right where a stripper would have pasties, shirring and fullness meant to emphasize the non-existent "bustline" of these babies. I thought to myself at the time, what sort of brain dead woman would put her kid in these things?

Turns out, not many and thank God. I ended up in an long discussion with the salesperson, who was a veteran employee. She said their sales had plummeted because most moms didn't want to dress their toddler girls like dance hall floozies, but the buyers didn't get it. And when the salespeople challenged them about what they bought to put in the toddler department, they became defensive and said that was all that was available.

I designed children's clothing for almost 10 years back in the 70s and early 80s (before I became a journalist) so I well remember the fun of selecting the soft colors and designing cute little bunny or ducky appliques. We used ruffles and bows and lace to show that little girls were feminine, but never ever did we trick them out like streetwalkers. Maybe there's a business here, for someone to design clothing to make little girls look like little girls again, and not wannabe centerfolds.

As a nation, we lament the increase in child pornography and the growing sexual victimization of our children. Yet we do nothing about the commercial sexualization of children. We push them into watching movies and television shows that were never meant for their young eyes and ears, we routinely expose them to violence and sexual situations, and parade them around as objects of sexual desire in kiddie beauty pageants, then act surprised when someone who is unbalanced acts upon the visual stimulation his impaired mind is receiving constantly, but cannot control rationally.

I ended up not buying any clothing for my niece; I got her the Disney "Sleeping Beauty" DVD instead and she loves it. She parades around the house with her little plastic tiara balanced on her head, and lords it over her baby brother. In other words, she's doing what God meant all children to do, playing innocently in a protected environment while she grows into a young woman.

Sad to say, once she is a young woman, her danger will increase exponentially. You only have to pick up a paper or turn on the TV to see how many woman and girls are assaulted and murdered in this country each day. It seems to be open season on women, particularly on women who are independent. Every day, female joggers and hikers are snatched off trails, never to seen or heard from again. That 19-year-old who was killed in Utah a few weeks ago was kidnapped from her friend's sofa in the middle of the night while she was sleeping.

I know that violence against women has existed since the dawn of time, but I do in part blame the media for the current flood of incidents. Our movies are glorifying "torture porn" where girls are kidnapped, tortured, raped repeatedly and then finally killed, all in excruciating detail and gory technicolor. Why do people pay to see this? Why is it even legal to show this? There are plenty of countries where it is not legal. And since when is this sort of stuff considered "entertainment?" That scares the hell out of me, that there are millions of men in this country who think nothing of going to see films like this, who enjoy seeing women terrorized, humiliated, sexually abused, tortured and then killed for "entertainment." What in the world are their dates supposed to think while they sit there and watch their "boyfriends" hoot it up while women are attacked on screen? I know one thing. First, I would never set foot in a theater with such a man. Or, if I ever somehow got tricked into attending such a movie, I would run, not walk for the exit at the first hint of violence.

For filmmakers, it is strictly a business of making money. The sad fact is that these films makes money. And the more money they make, the more this type of film will be pushed into the theaters and the more dangerous day-to-day life will become for ordinary women.

The daily violence against women is so epidemic it is now routine and elicits barely a response from many overworked police departments. It is one of the reasons that drove my daughter out of this country. She was living in a city where a serial rapist was targeting a couple of women every weekend, breaking into their apartments while they were sleeping and attacking them. Each week, the attacks grew a little more violent and bloody, and a little closer to my daughter's apartment. She couldn't live with the stress of worrying about whether or not she would be next, so she moved to a country where personal violence basically doesn't exist. She has been there almost four years, and in that time, there has been only one widely publicized violent attack by a deranged individual copying something he saw happen in the United States. That one attack caused the death of four students and sent the country into a state of mourning for a full month. She saw people crying on the trams, saying that now Finland would be just like the United States, full of hatred and violence. And this after just one attack!

We have hundreds of murders every single day, thousands of rapes and armed robberies, yet we are so inured to the violence, it has become such a part of the fabric of our daily lives, that each new incident produces barely a ripple in our subconscious minds. We are too busy surviving economically and psychologically to worry about whether we are going to survive physically.

We have to change this. Evil prospers when good men and women remain silent. I for one, cannot be silent anymore.

Well, I guess that's enough for this rant. I promise to post more soon, and to get back on topic. But please feel free to weigh in with your comments on this topic. It affects us all.

Planet Fat Cat

Monday, March 24, 2008

Domo Origato

Hey! Guess what? It’s Monday again and time for another enthusiastic report on the excellent progress I have made on my super-swell, happy-time Joy Pop weight loss program for life!

223.5! Sweet! I gained three pounds in two weeks!

Wait. That’s not right. I GAINED THREE POUNDS. Unless my brains have added neurons and synapses at an alarming rate and now weigh roughly twice what they did fourteen days ago, I am just a very positive, exuberant fat-ass.

And since I don’t feel particularly clever or more thoughtful this evening, I’m gonna go with the whole “Excuse me sir, but your down-stairs neighbors have complained of hearing a moose in your apartment… and you can see clearly on line seven of the lease that this is prohibited…”

Oh sure, the clever and kind amongst you will claim that all the Krav Maga classes have simply added muscle mass and that if I check my shorts I will see they have extra room in them. But the truth is I have checked my shorts, and there is nothing there anyone wants to get a closer look at, lately.

And also they are snug, very very snug. Seems even elastic has its limits.

But after the whiney post a few days ago, I decided that instead of a groaning and pitiful account of how much I exercised but still failed to lose fat, I would try to put a positive spin on creating yet more yummy fat cells. Hey, whales spend their whole lives trying to gain weight and look how happy they seem on those grainy Greenpeace videos.

Until someone harpoons them of course and then they realize too late that the big whale ass just made a much easier to spot target. But unless I see a bunch of Japanese fishermen circling my apartment, I’m gold!

So there we have it. I don’t care anymore. If I’m going to be fat, I might as well be jolly. No one likes a bitchy fat person; at least six people in Samoa are known to love fleshy, jokey guys.

Now all that’s left is a snorkel, a map to Samoa, and a book of recipes for raw plankton.

How can I go wrong?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

99% Perspiration

Okay I haven’t written a word in over a month, either on this blog or in “real” life… anywhere. My grocery lists have become mere notations, such is my apparent reluctance to write anything coherent or purposeful. Forget a blog, an article, a screenplay, book, novel, or even dirty memoirs from my ridiculously sinful 20’s. In the past six weeks I have become a net consumer of entertainment, happy to allow others to create all the images that rattle around in my brain.

I lack inspiration; I fear mental exertion.

Which is odd to say because I never stop thinking, rethinking, examining, theorizing, and plotting all day long. I even put myself to sleep by imagining plots and then adding dialogue to characters (a favorite is David Letterman interviews as I wish they were conducted). But none of the endless thoughts I have on any day take any real effort, no strain. Wondering about my noisy neighbors and creating a scenario where they are arrested for running a prostitution ring, and thus alleviating their constant disturbance of my musings, takes little time and fewer neurons. Simple creation, short storytelling, exerts my mind about as much as chewing a doughnut strengthens my jaws. I live in a very flabby, waking dream-world of imagination and no production.

And because I still have food to eat, apparently, I am not inspired to work harder to change a minute of it.

I have tried to argue with myself that I wish for great wealth, but I don’t really. That Elysian vision looks nice, but other than providing security in the future, great comforts don’t compel me. Fame allows for a giant ego and a great many sexual conquests I imagine, but neither of those has spurred me to action since college. And worst of all, accomplishment means nothing to me without a Love to share it with, so what will make me stop imagining and start producing?

If only finding a Muse were as easy as advertising for a boarder on Craig’s List:

“Looking for roommate to share the apartment in my head. Must be clean and inspiring and have good bathroom habits. Creativity a must. Rent due immediately as the landlord, Father Time, refuses to change the lease agreement.”

Of course on second thought, perhaps I have answered one of my own questions: maybe it’s time to stop waiting for Inspiration to come unbidden and start looking for her instead. Like playing the lottery: you may never win, but you certainly won’t if you don’t buy a ticket.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm Ba-a-a-ack!

Okay, so I spent all of January curled up in a fetal position on the floor, remote control at the ready, angled so that I could keep up with The Biggest Loser, Project Runway and other important world developments on the TV. The area around my body was littered with chocolate wrappers, empty Coca-Cola bottles, bitter remorse and huge, hulking piles of self pity.

What got me over it? Well, two things. A comment from one of my favorite readers, Gucci Muse, who told me to stop focusing on the negative (Thank you, Muse!) and ugh, yes, another health crisis. The health crisis shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. For three months, I walked six days a week on my treadmill, didn't drink a drop of soda, and really watched my diet.

Then came January. I realized that my Christmas holiday was bad and sad and that made me mad, and then I realized that my beloved (and only) son hates my guts and isn't likely to change his opinion anytime soon, and then I realized that even though I had faithfully stuck to a reasonable, rational fitness and weight loss program, I hadn't lost any weight. All reasons to just go straight off the end of the pier and try to kill myself with bad food and slothfulness, right? Chocolate and Coca-Cola Nirvana, here I come.

Well, I almost managed to do it. My body reacted to the absence of regular exercise and addition of much bad food to my diet as if it had been hit with an atom bomb. It basically shut down and I came very close to having to go to the hospital for the exact same thing that sent me there last March.

If life really is a circle, then I'm back at the beginning, and yes, I know that circles don't actually have a beginning, but work with me here. I am back to weighing more than I did when I first started in October (those four pounds I lost over the 90 days of walking flew back on and then some once I started drinking soda again.) But the worst thing is that my blood pressure spiked, went sailing through the roof even with my daily medications, and that made me sick. But what makes me feel even sicker is that this is something I did to myself, knowingly, willingly, consciously. With my lower lip poked out further than the Grand Canyon, Ms. Pity Party (that would be me...) decided that I DESERVE copious amounts of chocolate and soda...advice to the contrary from that stuffy old doctor who's just trying to keep me alive and healthy be damned.

Today I have to report that I am still sick. My blood pressure is still elevated, my kidneys are still barely working and I am walking around puffed up with excess water like one of those animated balloons in those dumb incontinence ads on TV. But I am back on the treadmill. The same woman who just six short weeks ago could rip off an hour on the treadmill at three miles an hour on a 2 percent incline without breaking a sweat can barely make 5 minutes at two miles per hour. It is absolutely stunning how quickly the human body loses its conditioning. For 90 days, I slowly built myself up to a modicum of fitness. My blood pressure normalized and my resting heart rate fell to the highs 50s. A mere six weeks of slothfulness and my blood pressure is back through the roof and my resting heart rate is in the high 70s.

I wish I could say that I will never slip again, but I know myself and I know that eventually, something will come along that will knock me off my pins. What I can say and promise myself is that the in-between times, the times when I am rolling around in my sorrows like it was actually fun (which it's not), will grow shorter and shorter. I know now that it's unwise for me to focus on trying to lose weight (a negative focus); from now on, I am focusing on something positive...staying healthy. Exercise and healthy eating are a vital part of that today...Round Two starts.

Oh, and I did get that exercise thingie I ordered...the Urban Rebounder. I have only used it a couple of times but can report that it's a lot of fun and reminds me of when I was a kid bouncing on the trampoline in my neighbor's back yard. I just need to get an industrial strength sports bra before I use it again or I might have to report that I have become the first woman in history to break her nose with her own boob.

Finally back in orbit,

Planet Fat Cat

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Bow To My Betters

Sad that I should post twice in a week and each time open on my knees, begging for forgiveness. Yet, here I am imploring all and sundry to grant me another pass and accept an apology for my transgressions. What have I done this time? I am posting a poem I did not write to emphasize a point I tried to make yesterday but didn’t do with any real eloquence.

The masters of the past and pen, as I will refer to them at least once, have ways of making a point that I simply cannot. I am humble enough to realize my own limitations and, more importantly, to enjoy words and thoughts that are not my own. Perhaps it is my destiny in life to merely connect the great writers of history with shallow contemporary concerns such as weight loss.

I can think of many a worse fate.


by: William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice--Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourish'd thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.

Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world--with kings,
The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun,--the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods; rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, pour'd round all,
Old Ocean's grey and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.--Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound
Save his own dashings--yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep--the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest: and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those who in their turn shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Thanks for the read; I hope you found as much comfort and inspiration in the words as did I.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Real Answers to Burning Health Questions

Apologies to all for the long absence from posting! I would roll out an assembly line of excuses, but aren’t we all adults here? Will the injuries I suffered while saving kittens from a burning tree, including ten broken fingers, really make all of you more likely to forgive?

Actually, if that works, let me know. I am a “writer” and quite ready to concoct any number of fantastic, though still somehow plausible, stories to cover for my laziness and mental paralysis.

And speaking of which… This week in addition to announcing that I am down to 216 pounds (thank HEAVENS!) I thought I would post something I got in my e-mail in-box. I think it captures the essence of what I feel about life and health.


Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good !

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING! Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO! Cocoa beans! Another vegetable! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride!"”

As I asked a friend last night, “Are you really going to be jealous of a thin, muscular, athletic, good-looking corpse that smells of natural herbs and organic grains?”

She’s something of a smart-ass so she claimed she would, but I think we all get the picture. Enjoy life! Start with a Snicker’s bar and don’t stop until they have to grease your thighs to get through the ice-cream isle at Wal Mart.

Exercise if you feel better doing it, otherwise just have another pork rind and call it a day.

Remember, an asteroid could strike the Earth tomorrow and will your last though really be, “I am so glad I did those sit-ups for now I am READY oh Lord!”

I didn’t think so,


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Have Designs on Designer Cupcakes

I'm sitting here stuffing a "designer" cupcake with four and a half pounds of icing on it into my face. Yes, it's my breakfast. I stared at the box of raisin bran this morning and decided that because I didn't have a banana to slice on the top, I wasn't supposed to eat my favorite breakfast at all. How can it qualify to be my favorite when one of the components is missing?

I never let myself run out of bananas, but I am going through one of those, "what's the damn point I've been killing myself exercising and starving and I still can't lose a single ounce so why not eat what I want?" mornings.

But here's the thing...pricey though it was, the cupcake didn't taste very good. The cake part was heavy and chewy, the icing was grainy and way too sweet and just about flavorless. So, no matter what else I did or did not accomplish over the past four months in regard to my health and girth, I did truly reeducate myself about food. The fact that this morning's attempt to comfort myself with "comfort" food did not go exactly as planned is proof of that.

I was talking to an old and dear friend last night (please note that the friend is not old; the friendship is) about my struggles and at just about the same time, the words Weight Watchers came out of our mouths. Many years ago, she used Weight Watchers to transform herself from a beautiful woman with some weight issues into a drop dead gorgeous, knock your eyes out stunner, the kind of woman who makes you crane your head around when she walks by and then grouse at God about how come you don't look like that. Okay, I know part of it is her innate sense of style and glamor that came to the forefront after she reached her goal weight, but the point is, she only reached her goal weight with a lot of support, determination and science and that's where Weight Watchers came in. Many years ago, I used the program successfully to lose 17 pounds, and those pounds stayed off for years. So we both decided we're going to join up.

My first meeting is on Friday and I feel a small tingle of anticipation. I hope this gives me the discipline I need to stay on top of the nutritional portion of my weight loss journey. I have been feeling so discouraged lately that I have been drinking soda, eating ice cream, doing all the silly things I used to do. None of it even tastes good, but even though I've only been doing it for about the past three or four days, just in that small window of time I have gained back every single pound I lost through the 90 Day Walking Program. I haven't been exercising at all except for the occasional desultory walk on my treadmill. So 90 Days of sacrifice and busting my hump loses me 4 pounds and three Coca-Colas and ONE damned ice cream sandwich and ONE damned cupcake adds all four pounds back on.

Oh yeah, right. That's fair.

But life isn't and I just wasn't standing in the "willowy" line when God handed out the DNA.

Anyway, I have a new carrot to dangle in front of myself. I have a big event coming up May 1 where I will have the opportunity to meet some people who can greatly influence the future of my career. It is absolutely essential that I look smashing when I meet these people because the way this game works, your appearance does count for a lot when they make their decisions about whether or not to take you on as a client. So no fat, wobbly old lady had better show up. I'd better look fabulous, and I'd better feel fabulous, because if I don't, then I won't project "fabulous" and fabulous is what you need to get these folks' attention.

So here's my new plan: I will get back to my plan of exercising six days a week, only instead of just walking, I will mix it up with a little strength training, some stretching, some toning, and some aerobics. I will go to Weight Watchers so that I have to be accountable to someone other than my easily fooled conscience, and I will, by May 1st, have lost at least 12 pounds and gone down another size to a size 14.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it, at least for the next 90 days.

Planet Fat Cat
Still in orbit around The Lagging Moon

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gravity Breaks Détente, Renews Violence

Austin, Texas

A man awoke Monday morning to find that the brokered peace agreement between himself and Gravity had been shattered by surprise fighting over the weekend. Although the man claimed he had done nothing to provoke Gravity, sources close to Gravity said the renewed fighting was a direct result of a “two-margarita” lunch the previous Wednesday. While negotiators were confident a new agreement could be hammered out, Gravity made clear it would continue to exert an increasing pull on the man’s mass at least through mid-week. U.N. officials had no comment when asked if there were any known survivors from the surrounding areas of Ego or Self-Esteem.

In case anyone missed it, the above blurb was my way of reporting that after a few weeks of good news, I have returned to gaining weight. Monday morning I stood motionless and hopeful on my scale and discovered that I had in fact gained 2.5 pounds in the previous two weeks (incidentally the last time I posted). For those keeping score that means I am now an eye-popping 219lbs. and exactly the same weight as I was on January 27, 2007. You read that right: In one calendar year of diet, exercise, and fervent prayer, I have lost NO WEIGHT.

I should add that if I hadn’t spent months ruining my joints with rigorous exercise or draining my bank account with specialty foods and supplements, I wouldn’t complain. After all, most people in their 30’s gain two pounds a year. But I did do those things and all I have to show for it are some ever-so-slightly-more-tone muscles and an extremely unpleasant disposition. Wait, I also have a lot less money.

Further I should note that over the course of the year I fluctuated from a high of 231 pounds to a low of 203 pounds and every point in between. Pity I couldn’t have settled into a weight range (as I seem to be doing) that was closer to the low end. Double pity I couldn’t have figured out what I was doing right at 203 and kept doing that! Since I don’t remember any long battles with dysentery, whatever it was must have been willful and behavioral. Oh, the humanity, and another spectacularly dull flop.

My only prayer is this: Dear Lord, thank you for that year; I ask only for another; I promise I shall do better for myself and you.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Biggest Loser - Trying to Gain a Foothold

I'm having a hard time getting into this season of The Biggest Loser with the couples. When I get wrapped up in a reality show, a big part of the draw for me is keeping up with the show online via blogs - both fan and official. The official blogs let me know what happened on the show, or at least, their version of what happened. The fan blogs let me get into it with other rabid least, get into it in my own mind.

For whatever reason, maybe the television strike that is keeping them "writer-less," NBC has utterly failed to provide an up-to-day website and blog for this season of The Biggest Loser. When you click on it, you'll still see the contestants and the winner from last season. The lack of a current website where I can go read after show updates and preshow teases has really diminished my interest in the show. I like reading blogs to see if other viewers share my concerns and opinions. The lack of a website and viewer blogs reduces my level of participation and my level of interest, even thought the only blog I ever actually commented on was the Top Chef season 2. That's when the producers let an emotional assault on one contestant by several of the other contestants go on way too long, even with the fans screaming about it. The emotional assault eventually and predictably evolved into a physical assault that was videotaped by the contestants with a camera given to them by the producers. Oh yeah, like that was spontaneous.

Ugh, icky, and it the resulting fan outcry almost killed the show and led to parent company NBC threatening disciplinary action against Bravo TV and the show's producers. I'm happy to say the next season featured much nicer contestants.

A similar thing happened on Project Runway season 3. There was a really nasty, emotionally abusive guy on the show, but the producers LOVED him, so not only did he stay, but was eventually awarded the win over two much more talented designers. The show took a big hit in viewers and popularity after that and this season, the contestants are all pretty nice people. The one drama queen was pretty severely chastised by the judge's this week for pitching a hissy fit and being ugly to his teammate on the design challenge.

So what I guess I'm saying is that I don't like to see nasty, ill-tempered, abusive people on reality shows, but having said that, nor do I like to see boring people. For whatever reason, this season of The Biggest Loser is boring me. Even though I am using the concept of the show to help myself stay motivated and on my own exercise and nutritional plan, I haven't yet found any heroes in this particular cast. My favorite couple was voted off last week, and I am feeling sort of "ho-hum" about the whole season now.

Two of the eliminated couples needed to go - the father who didn't really want to be on the show with his daughter, and the lazy, whiny husband who lost weight even though he did next to nothing and then made fun of his hard-working wife when she didn't lose much weight. Nice guy.

I guess I am struggling to find someone I can relate to. There was a moment between the mother and daughter from the pink team when the mother apologized for bringing home so many "uncles" after her divorce and leaving her very young daughter on her own while she pursued a wild sex life, but it was an embarrassing moment. At least it got the two of them talking and made the daughter confess to something I could relate to...she said she thought she used her excess weight to protect herself...probably from the "uncles."

I think my excess weight serves the same protective purpose, but for a different reason. If I am a normal weight and no man looks at me with interest, then I have to deal with the awful question of exactly why that is happening. But since I am overweight, I don't have to answer the question because it is answered already. I am fat, therefore I am unattractive, therefore, I have no interested men in my life.

Funny thing is, it's been that way for so long it actually feels comfortable to me now. So I really have to fight to get out of my comfort zone and keep pushing forward, because I want to lose weight and get fit NOT to attract a man, NOT to please anyone else, NOT to look sexy or attractive, but to feel healthy and strong again. I think when I have achieved my goal and feel that way again, all the other things will just fall naturally into place and take care of themselves.

Planet Fat Cat

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Wind That Shakes the Blarney

Although late, today’s update is supposed to be about the dreaded Monday weigh-in. The title is completely stolen from a movie, albeit badly, because I believe the actual title is “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”. But I never understood what that meant, and I like the silly sound of “blarney”, so I never looked back.

I am so daring that Chuck Norris is afraid to hang out with me!

Back in the real world, however, I can confidently report that Monday morning I weighed an astounding 216.5 pounds. Astounding because human beings under six feet in height should simply not weight that much, and also because it indicates a two-pound loss in one week. Two pounds! I am seriously at risk of not being a scary lard ass… in ten or twenty weeks or… months or… sometime in the dark future world where robots have declared war on humanity…

Pardon, I drifted off imagining thirty years from now when my cyborg body will be AWESOME, like with ripped muscles, and I will have lasers for eyes and all the cyborg honeys will see me and exclaim, “Oh Pigassus! Your mini-life-support fusion reactor is SO BIG!”

Of course you’ll probably need to be rich not to get stuck with the extra small fusion reactor, and it occurs to me it’s never too late or too early to start saving for that bad boy. If I had more than half a brain, I would stop eating and put all that money into some Chinese Internet start-up IPOs and sit back and wait for Nirvana. But, sadly, I have only one frontal lobe, having sold the other half for an over-sized novelty Hershey’s kiss last Valentine’s, and so my extra cash this month is already marked for a new rowing machine.

I’ll let you know how that experiment works out in a few weeks when I am back from the hospital.

You know, the one I’ll be sent to when the “Clean and Jerk” goes bad on the rower. Or whatever it’s called.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Biggest Loser - Taking All the Fun Out of Being Fat

Tonight's edition of The Biggest Loser was somewhat surreal. They had a sequence early on that looked like a scene out of Soylent Green, only instead of people seeing videos of beautiful sunsets, flowers, butterflies, land- and ocean- scapes as they drifted into the crematorium and death, the contestants were shown disgusting close-ups of the unhealthy foods they indulged in prior to the show. Instead of death coming quickly as it did in the movie, it comes slowly, mouthful by large mouthful through continually making poor food choices.

As the contestants looked up at the unappetizing food flashing across the wrap-around screens, a disembodied voice intoned the annual calories, pounds of sugar and pounds of fat that daily indulgence in these foods adds on. It was actually nauseating. Instead of dying humans being harvested and processed into soylent green to feed their starving fellow humans, the contestants seemed to morph into oreos and corn dogs intended for self-consumption. The brown team got the message...the husband, Curtis, started crying and said, "We are killing ourselves with what we eat."

Yeah, we are. All of America is.

Then they had the first temptation, with the team that consumed the most junkie calories set to win $5,000. But it was the day before the weigh-in so teams that went for the money and the food were likely to have bad results on the scale. Mark from the grey team surprised me; he had threatened to hurt his younger brother if he succumbed to the temptation, but it was okay if he did it? Yeah, I suppose. Once Mark heard the guy from the yellow team blurting out that he had about 900 calories left in his daily allotment which he planned to eat to win the money, Mark decided to go for it, too. And why not? The yellow team guy telegraphed his plans, which I think means if he ever planned on working for the CIA, he should probably think of choosing another career.

So Mark ate 925 calories and snatched the money from the yellow duo, but he enraged his brother by doing it. Still, why did the guy from the yellow team blab? If he'd just kept his mouth shut, he'd be $5,000 richer.

In typical male fashion, even though Mark pigged out the night before the weigh-in, he still lost 7 pounds, whereas two of the women who busted their butts all week and didn't eat a single calorie at the temptation lost only 1 pound each, and the wife from the white team who sweated bullets lost nothing and Mallory, the wife from the brown team who ate 215 calories at the temptation, actually gained a pound. That eventually sent her and her husband home, but the good news is they have successfully continued their weight loss program.

Jillian Michaels practically burst a blood vessel screaming at her team members for eating at the temptation, and Bob Harper looked pretty ticked off, too. There were hints that the pairing of Jillian and Bob into a training "couple" may not last. The weight loss results were pretty low this week; I would have been thrilled with them but compared to what contestants lost when they were being trained separately, the numbers were way down. Bob was grousing about it, so I wouldn't be surprised if he and Jillian go back to training their couples separately next week.

NOTE: Sorry I don't know all the teams' names yet. For reasons probably related to the writers' strike, NBC is not currently updating The Biggest Loser web site and all the contestant bios on the site are actually from the last season. So I'm struggling a bit with the names.

It isn't easy to eat a healthy diet, even when you are in a controlled situation like The Biggest Loser house. It's not because healthy food isn't delicious, it is; it actually tastes much better than junk food. But you really have to work in the grocery store to find healthy food. You have to plan ahead and figure out what you want to eat and how much cooking and prep time you can fit into your schedule for the week. You have to read labels; it's ridiculous how many foods you wouldn't think of as being unhealthy are bad because they are adulterated with completely unnecessary ingredients.

For example, a famous New Orleans dish that I grew up eating, Red Beans and Rice, is actually quite a healthy meal what with its perfect mix of beans and brown rice, and a little bit of sausage. Nowadays, just try to find sausage that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup as it's second, third or fourth ingredient. High fructose corn syrup! What the heck is THAT doing in sausage? Sausage doesn't need sweetening; it's a savory food – not a dessert item, candy bar or soft drink. But EVERY commercial brand of sausage, Hillshire Farms, Hormel, Oscar Meyer, even HEALTHY CHOICE, has a lot of corn syrup in it.

Fortunately, there is a very good little local sausage company in my neck of the Texas woods, and they make their sausage the good old-fashioned way, with meat, salt, water and spices, so when I have a hankering for red beans and rice, I buy that. Even though sausage is salty and fairly high in fat and I would never just eat "sausage" by itself, each serving of red beans contains only 5 or 6 small pieces of sausage, so you're not getting an overload of either sodium or saturated fat.

Because so many foods have been ruined with unnecessary additives and high doses of salt, sugar and saturated and hydrogenated fat, grocery shopping is no longer enjoyable like it was in the past – it's become real work. Making it through a grocery store is like running a deadly obstacle course, with hapless shoppers forced to dodge a barrage of hidden sugar, fat and sodium bullets as they try to make it to the checkout in one healthy piece.

I think that was the point of the whole weird Soylent Green routine on tonight's Biggest Loser, they want to take all the fun out of being fat. I know it worked for me. After I finish this butter cookie and shake all the crumbs out of my keyboard, I know it will be at least a day or two before I eat another one.

Planet Fat Cat

What Lies Beneath

The holidays have officially come to a close and another round of resolutions and recriminations have passed with the usual effectiveness. I resolved this year to be kind to the young and leave only footprints and take only memories, but since I ate all my brother-in-law’s cookies at Christmas dinner while ignoring his children, I have botched those already. So back to the tired stuff that provoked me to write in this blog last year.

This morning at weigh-in I was… (drumroll)… 218.5 pounds!

For those of you keeping score, that means for the holiday season consisting of three weeks in December and the first week of January, I actually recorded a loss of one-half pound! Since I read that the “average” American gains two to four pounds over that same month each year, and I was gaining at least a pound a week previously, I consider my half-pound loss a minor miracle. Heck, I thought about celebrating with a Tootsie Roll and two Ritz crackers, but I didn’t want to give back all my hard-fought losses.

Anywho, Men’s Health magazine published an interview with a doctor from the Mayo Clinic who recounted the medical staff’s behavioral changes engineered to promote better health and weight loss. In addition to impractical measures such as “walking meetings”, the doctors and nurses also threw out their old desks and replaced them with… (drumroll)… standing desks! Seems after extensive research they determined that the average male burned one calorie per minute while sitting at a desk but burned two each minute if standing instead. And although it seemed like a small increase, when assuming a six-hour “desk day”, it turned out a “stander” could burn an extra 360 calories relative to a “sitter”. In one work month (twenty days) the total extra calories amount to nearly two pounds of disgusting fat. So all things being equal, like not increasing caloric intake or sitting more at home, a man could lose 24 pounds in a year just by making that one change.

I plan on being that man.

Only less of one.

Because it sure would be nice to obsess about what’s below that Pallid Acreage other than the angry red numbers on my bathroom scale.