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January 24, 2007

A follow-up: less wordy and with pictures!

First of all, I almost had a heart attack when I saw that Dr. Roizen, THE DOCTOR ROIZEN, had commented on this here website.

Hi! My head is big! Ego riding shotgun in the Jeep!

It took me a little while to process all your thoughts and comments. I was really not expecting anyone to make it to the end of my War & Peace: The Fat Edition. Mostly I was surprised to find so many people who feel the same way I do! I always think I'm such a weirdo. It feels strange to say I'm happy and relieved that so many people struggle the same way I do ... I wouldn't wish this challenge on anyone. But there it was, undeniable relief I wasn't alone.

Some folks asked a few questions and I will try to answer them honestly and without so many words (ha) but please understand, I am still your local cautionary tale. For example, this weekend I made a homemade pizza and when I managed to eat a normal-size portion with a side salad and glass of wine I felt like I had made some kind of VICTORY. Like I had accomplished something HUGE. "Hey, you cured cancer? That's great! Me? Oh I ate a normal serving of food! Woohoo!"

So just keep that in mind before you take advice from me, Ol' Wine Lips McGee.

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Both Leeny and Lisa K. asked, "If you feel like it, would you share what you bring to lunch with us. I'd love to bring healthy lunches to work more often, but run out of ideas by Wednesday."

The main reason I bought the book "You On A Diet" was that I saw Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen on the Oprah show and they said something that clicked with me -- you should automate breakfast and lunch. Their reasoning is that the huge variety of choices stresses us out, creates confusion, and derails nutrition. I happened to LOVE this idea of "automating" lunch and breakfast because I like to eat the same foods over and over again, plus I have zero time to devote to meals during the week.

For breakfast I have cheerios with skim milk or yogurt with walnuts and berries. That's it. If I didn't automate breakfast like this, I would end up eating a cheeseburger from the downtown McDonald's every day at 10:30 a.m. Trust me. Been there. Got the booty to prove it.

Lunch is equally as boring. I have a sandwich made from whole grain bread with that peanut butter you grind yourself in the machine at Whole Foods. I eat my plain boring peanut butter sandwich with a sliced apple. I LOVE THIS LUNCH. Sometimes I eat a turkey sandwich instead, or I go through salad phases (but those always pass). I bring snacks, too, like different fruits and vegetables, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds.

Automating breakfast and lunch helps free me up mentally and I don't obsess as much over food. Dinner gets to be the wild card, and I am actually COOKING. Me! Cooking something that isn't deep-fried! Nothing fancy, of course, and I usually cook on the weekends and do leftovers during the week. I know this all sort of sounds boring, but my goal was to make my life less about food, and more about nutrition. I used to obsess over every meal and I just felt bad about myself. I don't want my life to revolve around food, so I'm trying to keep it simple. I've been pretty satisfied so far. Of course, I am the same person who used to eat a McDonald's cheeseburger value meal every single day for lunch. I'm just being the same kind of boring... in a healthier way.


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OtherLisa said, "I want to hear more about the aggressive men you've encountered and how that made you feel and how you dealt with it!"

This one is kind of tough to talk about. I'm not sure I have it squared away, to be honest.

I'm not some gorgeous supermodel who's fighting off a horde of George Cloonies. Quite the opposite -- I think I must have a crazy magnet. I can walk down a street next to the prettiest woman (in L.A. we have gorgeousness all around) and yet for whatever reason, I'll be the one who gets accosted. I have no idea why. I carry pepper spray.

Some women have a hard time meeting men, I have a hard time meeting men who don't try to feel me up in five seconds. My friends have seen it in person and it's baffling to them, too. Here's an example: I am on the subway, and a guy sits next to me. He starts spreading his legs so he is practically sitting on me by the next stop. So I say, as firmly and loudly as possible, "Excuse me! You seem to be sitting on my leg!"

He backs off for a minute then starts all over again, this time with his arm, too. I move and sit in another seat; at the next stop a man gets on the train and sits in my old place next to Fondle Guy, who miraculously manages to keep his limbs off his new, male seatmate.

Funny how that works.

Over time it's just exhausting and demeaning and kind of scary. So gaining weight has made the more overt and aggressive men back off. I don't know exactly how I will deal with unwanted male interaction if I get thinner. I have my pepper spray and my general Southern woman mack-truckedness, and I am also meaner now!

I'm still working on this one, but I'll let you know how it goes.


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-R- asked, "Do you change into sneakers for your walk or change your whole outfit or what? I wear a lot of suits, and I feel like walking around in the high heels would not be the best move."

I have tennis shoes at my desk -- a necessity in earthquake country. You do not want to be clomping down 19 flights of stairs in high heels. So my earthquake shoes double as my midday walking shoes. I always wear pants to work, so I just put on my shoes and I'm off. When it gets hotter outside, I might change into a T-shirt or something ... maybe it will fool people into thinking I'm going to the gym, too.

Risey P. posted, "I wanted to ask you a question about the logistics of bringing your own lunch. Did you have to get out of the habit of going out to lunch with work friends? That would be the toughest part for me."

This hasn't been a big problem because here in downtown Los Angeles, there are only a few decent sit-down restaurants that aren't super expensive. Most people just get take-out or fast food, and we have a common seating area (like a food court) in my building where my coworkers meet and have lunch. I bring my bagged lunch if we're meeting up, although I usually eat at my desk.

And I wanted to say thanks to Lori W for posting the following:
And you know how everything get better and better when you lose weight? Sometimes it does and other times you're just walking around raw and wounded without your armor of fat protecting you. But I'd rather be this way than half asleep and fat.

Lori, that's exactly how I feel. It's a little scary to be fully in charge of putting yourself first. I'm a Southern woman and all which that entails... we don't put ourselves first. No siree bob! We come last, it's like a point of pride or something, until we finally one day break full crazy and end up directing traffic in our nightie while slurring the words to "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar." So you know, in the end maybe it's not such a bad idea to take care of yourself. Unless you enjoy directing traffic in your nightgown.

So, this is where I'm at. I am thirty-five years old and I am just now learning how to eat with the sole aim of being healthy. It's all mental -- I wasn't ready to not-diet six months ago. I did what was best for me at the time, and that happened to involve a lot of french fries. And cheese. Now this is what's working for me. I don't have a dress to fit into, or a reunion to attend, or a significant other who wants me skinnier, prettier, better. I've been doing this for a while now and I feel great. I can't believe I'm cooking food for me, just for me! just because! I don't eat dinner standing over the kitchen sink anymore, either. I'm trying.

I thought it was about food, but I think it might be about being selfish, the good kind of selfish where you treat yourself the same way you'd treat a cherished boyfriend or spouse or child.

Oh, I guess this wasn't really less wordy... but it did have pictures. And oh yeah, Hi Dr. Roizen!


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Posted by laurie at January 24, 2007 10:12 AM