Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for March 2013

Between needing to actually talk with my London client this morning, my work load, and the ills produced by Passover eating, I’m not getting to meeting today.

Now Passover is a lovely holiday. It’s a celebration of freedom from slavery in Egypt, and a remembrance of where we Jews come from. We eat matzoh and maror to remember the bitterness of slavery and hard, physical labor. Whether we are religious or not, it affects – in many ways – both how Jews look at the world, and how we developed social consciousness of the world’s wrongs.


One of the commandments for the holiday is that we eat matzoh instead of bread for eight days. For those who don’t know, matzoh is unleavened bread, basically flour and water. Yep. Solidified library paste, essentially. In terms of diet, back when Weight Watchers was based on exchanges, one board of matzoh was equal to three pieces of bread. These days, plain, regular matzoh is 3 Points Plus® per board. Now, I’ve managed to find a matzoh that is 2 Points Plus® per board – Osem’s Israeli Whole Wheat High-Fiber Matzah – and is still kosher for Passover.And, since I’m not a big bread eater to begin with, I manage to keep my consumption (except during the Seders) down to a board or two a day. However, when one has the kinds of elimination problems that I have, even that can send me running back and forth between my desk and the loo all day and all night, in pretty severe pain. Toss in not being able to get enough solid sleep for a few nights from all the running back and forth, and you have a pretty unhappy blogger here.

Still, I am doing what I can to offset the issues by eating lots of fruit and veg and staying as hydrated as my other medical conditions permit me to.

The upshot of this is that I will probably gain a few pounds this week, but they will mostly be from solid retention, and will vanish over the next week or so — once the holiday ends.

I’m not overly worried about it, but it is part of my process, and it does come up around this time each year, so I figured I should note it in this blog.

Anyway, I wish those of you celebrating Passover with me a happy, healthy holiday, and I wish those of you celebrating Good Friday today (and Easter on Sunday) a happy, healthy holiday also. And to those of you who don’t celebrate either, I wish you a happy, healthy Spring Holiday of your choice.


Tuesday, I went to a Seder at DB & JB’s with friends.  The party was DB & JB, Big Z, MB, MSG, HS, and me.  DB & I were the only females, which made it kind of interesting.

Then again, a Seder where all but one of the guests has been concom, and all but one of those are concom for the same convention (Contata) would be interesting by any definition of the word. (Note for those not into SF conventions: “Concom” is short for “Convention Committee,” basically the merry band of fools who put the whole convention together and run it.)

Add to which, the convention we all run is a filk (Science fiction folk singing, for those who aren’t either filkers or in SF Fandom) convention, and you know the stage is et for a ton of uns, bad jokes, straight lines, song cues, and assorted silliness.

DB kept the menu fairly simple: Other than the stuff that was required by Torah or custom, there was a lovely meal consisting of gefilte fish for the first course, and a chicken and sweet potato stew for the main course. There was homemade ginger/honey candy (made by J’s mom, who had been at their first night Seder), a kosher for Passover layer cake that Big Z brought, and the fruit and nut platter that MSG and I brought.

Tonight, dinner is simple: roasted chicken, broccoli, and baked potatoes, with a couple of macaroons for dessert.  It’s nice to have something simple after two very elaborate dinners.

I’ve been eating a lot of salads for the other meals, but you folks know that I am the salad Queen.

I’m pretty happy with how I’m doing so far this Passover. I have no idea whether I’ll gain or lose this holiday, but if a food program is not livable and flexible, it’s not worth doing.  We’ll see what happens on Friday.

Sundown is bringing the first night of Passover, and the roomie and I are making a small Seder (ritual & festive meal) for ourselves, my ex, and a friend, M (C was coming but is not feeling well, so she messaged me this morning that she couldn’t make it. Not entirely unexpected, given that I know she has been having health issues.

The ex requested brisket, and the roomie was agreeable.  We got a gorgeous brisket during the week, and this morning, we pulled out Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and looked up brisket. Lo and behold, we actually had everything on hand, so the brisket just went into the oven.

We got one of the gefilte fish that you cook yourself. I like both that, and the regular jarred gefilte fish, but the ex prefers the homemade one, and it’s really nothing to make.  Unwrap the outer wrapper, remove the tray, boil some water, add a sliced up onion and a sliced up carrot, some slat (we used light salt) and some pepper, toss in the wrapped fish, bring the water back to a boil, simmer for an hour, cool, then refrigerate until dinner.

We will have matzoh (eating matzoh is a part of the holiday), and some juice (we are none of us big wine drinkers). I even, thanks to the ex, managed to find some high-fiber matzoh, and some matzoh made with rye (both kosher for Passover), so the commandment will not exacerbate some of my health issues. The veggies will be broccoli, cauliflower & carrot mix (we got a huge bag of that on sale the other week).  The roomie is doing the Seder Plate, and the charoset (a mix of apples, nuts, and wine [for us, grape juice]) can be done just before we sit down.

As for staying on program during Passover, I’ve never found it impossible.  Depending on how many weekly points I have when it falls, it’s generally pretty easy to stay within bounds. I do track, except for the two Seders, and though I don’t track those, I do keep an eye out and, when I do the one at home, I do weigh and measure my portions.

I also make sure to eat lots of fruit and veggies during the day. I know I will want to have a nice portion of meat at dinner, so I keep my points use down during the day by eating lots of salad.  Salad is my friend in general — it’s one of the few ways I can get the volume of food I need to feel full, while keeping my points usage to a minimum.

This morning, for example, I made an 8 Points Plus salad.  The only things in the salad that used points were the salad dressing, and the steamed dumplings I tossed in (I like one warm component in my salad). The rest of the salad was romaine, spinach, a tangerine that I sectioned and cut in half, and some baby bella mushrooms. It was hugely filling (I’m just now getting to my coffee), and it should hold me until dinner.

While we were doing prep for the cooking, we got the house vacuumed,, so all we have to do housework -wise is to move the spare computer from the dining table to the windowsill for the evening, and put the stuff for mailing Bookmooch requests in my room. We will only have to move two chairs into the living room, since we have two in there regularly.

So, everything is about as ready as it can be at this point.  Will let everyone know how the Seders went on Wednesday.

To those who observe Passover, please have a wonderful, safe, healthy holiday.

At least I have some good news this week.  I lost 5.4 lbs., and am back to weighing 231.8, so I’m just about caught up to where I was before I had a small setback.

I’m feeling very revved up this week, and I’m actually looking forward to the two Seders.  I’m making Seder the first night, so I have total control over the food, and the meal will definitely be WW-friendly.  We are planning a brisket (we got a gorgeous one yesterday, which is sitting in the coldest spot of the fridge), the roomie’s matzoh ball soup (which is yummy), veggies of various kinds, grape juice (we are not big wine drinkers here), and — of course — matzoh. I am also looking forward to having a few matzoh breis over the course of the holiday — tracking everything, of course.

This week has been kind of weird, walking-wise.  I have not earned any activity points, but I wasn’t really expecting to; I’ve had crazy deadlines, and since I’m enjoying revving my business back up to where it was before I got sick last June, those come first. But I am still feeling healthier and more energetic, overall, which is the main point of the process, after all.

I have started reading Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God. It’s interesting, and I find myself agreeing with a lot of her insights, although I don’t have time to write about them right now.  I expect to do so here when I have finished the book, though, so that’s something to look forward to.

Anyway, I must get back to work, so I will see everyone on Monday.  Have a great weekend, and I wish you all luck with your programs over the upcoming holidays!

Oh, and just for the heck of it — one of our cats has found a new use for my Pilates toning ring and my exercise towel:

Maybe We Should get Her that Cat Bed, After All©2013 Deborah J. Wunder

Maybe We Should get Her that Cat Bed, After All
©2013 Deborah J. Wunder

I’ve been mostly dealing with deadlines, and with getting files off the old computer and onto the new one. Stuff is getting done, but far too slowly for my taste.

I’ve been on the hungry side today, too, but have managed to stay within the parameters of the program, thanks to the weekly points we are allowed.

Anyway, must get back to work — more on Friday.

Up until recently, the thought of smoothies made me blanch and shudder. However, they are one of my Leader’s favorite things and I figured I would give them a try.

Now, I pretty much hate yogurt.  To me, yogurt is like sour cream that someone has tarted up. So I tend to avoid it. Skim milk is not a favorite either, so I tend to use fat-free half and half in my coffee. But my Leader likes that the smoothies help us get our dairy in, so what to do?

Well, I love fat-free cottage cheese.  And I can drink diet ginger ale, because it is so processed that it doesn’t taste like soap to me the way most ginger does.

So I said, let me try something here.  I had, at her urging bought some of the WW smoothie mixes.  So, after dinner on Saturday, for my first smoothie, I took a banana, a cup of ginger ale, and the WW mint smoothie powder, tossed them into one of those plastic salad shaker cups, stuck my immersion blender into the middle of it, and hit on (while holding the cup with the other hand so it wouldn’t end up all over the counter.  It was delicious.  Not too sweet, with enough of the actual fruit bits left so it still tasted like the fruit, and smooth enough that I could drink it fairly easily. And I was full enough that I didn’t feel the need to snack at night.

Yesterday morning, I took a cup of mixed fruit from my fresh fruit salad, a WW smoothie mix in coconut, a cup of diet ginger ale, and a half-cup of fat-free cottage cheese. It left me nice and full until lunchtime. (Lunch was the remains of the sauteed vegetables I had gotten from the Chinese restaurant for dinner on Friday.)

This morning I was still interested, so I cut up a Granny Smith apple, and a banana and threw them into my cup with the cottage cheese and the ginger ale, and a Salted Caramel smoothie packet.  I think this is the best one so far!  You can really taste the fruit, it’s just sweet enough to be tasty but not cloying, and the cottage cheese gives it some nice heft protein- and dairy-wise. the best thing is that these are thick enough that I can’t gulp them down.  They get sipped at, and therefore are a slow burn energywise, which is probably better for me anyway.  And they are hella satisfying.

Today’s smoothie is 4 Points Plus; yesterday’s was 3 Points Plus; and Saturday’s was 2 Points Plus.

Now, I’m an old dog.  I’m not saying I’m going to have smoothies every day of my life.  What I am saying is that I now have another tool in my aresenal.

I admit it — the last few weeks, I’ve basically been ignoring the program. I’ve been so busy feeling sorry for myself that I forgot that all it really takes is one choice after another to change things.

So, I’ve had a slight setback. I gained back a bit of what I had lost while in the hospital — nowhere near all of it, mind, but enough to make me sit up and look at what I’m doing, and ask myself if I really want to throw away all the good work I’ve done so far. (I don’t).

My current weight is 237.2, which is still a drop of 25.2 lbs., and I am very proud of that.

I had a really good insight at meeting today, too, but it kind of needs a bit of leading up to, so please be patient.

On Sunday, a friend on Plurk mentioned that she was signing up for a free 21-day meditation course, and I decided to give it a try. Now I have never been able to sit through meditation courses without falling asleep before, and the gods know that I’ve tried.  I can’t tell you how many times instructors at Integral Yoga (my favorite yoga place) have had to tap my shoulder to wake me up after meditation sessions.  However, a lot in my life has changed, so I figured it was worth a shot. So far (Day 5) things are going well — I have not fallen asleep during the sessions, and I seem to have figured out how to deal with the stray thoughts that try to grab my attention. I simply bring my attention back to the mantra we are reciting that day.

Well, I woke up this morning to find that one of clients had something of an emergency and was wondering if I could help out.  Being a client I genuinely like, I agreed, and immediately began putting up coffee, feeding the cats so they wouldn’t annoy me, making breakfast so I could function, etc. By the time I got back to the computer, my thoughts were going ten miles a minute in about twenty different directions. Then I thought that instead of waiting for the email from the meditation program that today’s session was active, I would log in and see if it was ready. It was, so I sat for a few minutes and did the session, including the journaling afterwards. By the time I was done, I was centered enough that I knocked out the needed work in about an hour, with very little drama.

Now, fast forward to my WW meeting. I was sitting there taking notes, and someone else was doing major drama over how could she stick to program during Passover because she would have to be eating so much matzoh….Well, several folks noted that you only have to eat a certain amount of matzoh, then another person noted that different people had different family or community traditions. (It was finally agreed that whether you ate the larger or the smaller amount of matzoh, you tracked it, and moved on). Now that last sentence is the key one — you track it and move on.  It hit me that it’s just like meditation — you don’t need to create a ton of drama around it; you note it and bring your attention back to where you want your attention to be; in this case, to doing your program.

Since I have no idea how many people in my group are familiar with meditation (a large number of the folks there are either Orthodox Jews or traditional Catholics), I didn’t mention this during the meeting, but did tell it to my leader afterwards.

Yes, it’s a little thing, but it’s one of those key little things that makes everything else function.

When you go off track, do you create a lot of drama, or do you just quietly bring yourself back to where you want to be? Do you find it easy or difficult to do so? Was my analogy helpful to you in any way, shape, or form?

‘Til next time…..have a great week!

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