Swimming in Judgement

Fun Fact: in my nighmare that's always mint chocolate chip...

Fun Fact: in my nightmare that’s always mint chocolate chip…

I live in Los Angeles, California- arguably the epicenter of vanity. As an overweight woman, there’s a thin layer of loathing that I sometimes feel from men in this city. “Why are you here? You’re supposed to be hot. Everybody here is supposed to be hot for my viewing pleasure.” Sometimes the guy giving me that look has bigger boobs than me.

When I topped 200 lbs one of my first paranoia-driven nightmares was that, while taking in the sights of the Venice Boardwalk or the 3rd Street Promenade, my ass would be featured as “camera-about-town” stock footage of the obesity epidemic.

You know how the segment goes:

  • 1.) A 90lb Anchorwoman declares a new study has found being fat is even worse than previously believed.
  • 2.) An Anchorman gasps, and both talk as if fat people (and not obesity) are, themselves, a contagious disease that is costly and unstoppable.
  • 3.) Cut to the fat-asses-walking-down-streets montage footage. With heads cropped out. Y’ah know. For their dignity.

In my worst nightmares the cameraman would catch me waddling around one of these tourist attractions EATING SOMETHING.

To onlookers, a smoker isn’t a smoker until she has a cigarette in her hand. An alcoholic isn’t an alcoholic until he’s stumbling out of the bar reeking of booze. The nose-picker isn’t a nose picker until his finger goes a-digging. But people don’t need to see you stuffing your face with a fistful of cake to know you’re overweight. Your vice is inescapably apparent and is open season for everyone’s judging enjoyment.

I’m especially wary of this kind of judgement as I start lap swimming. Do you want to know what courage is? It’s being obese in a bathing suit. In public. During daylight. But screw it! I’ve decided that the public’s interest in how I look in my bathing suit probably breaks down like this:

And we can't let the Jerkfaces win.

And we can’t let the Jerkfaces win.

So I’ll dive in and start swimming again. And maybe I’ll look forward to a time when a news story featuring stock footage of my ass won’t be about obesity, but about terribly unfashionable pants instead.

Advertisements

In A Pickle

Pickles can be pretty, too!

Pickles can be pretty, too!

I wish getting back into healthy living/weight loss was a 100% empowering moment. It’s a good moment- don’t get me wrong- but it’s not 100% empowering, especially if you’re someone like me. This is a marathon I’ve signed-up for a dozen times. Thus far, each time found me a) falling to the asphalt, grabbing my ankle, and limping off to the sidelines (less common), or b) starting the race strong, but being completely distracted by a taco cart on the sidelines of the race… mmmm… delicious tacos… and before I’m done licking Tapatio off my fingers I’ve completely forgotten I was supposed to be running a race (far, far more common). When I start this anew I feel like I have to acknowledge that this is something I’m an expert at failing at. And it’s totally killing my Xena-like war cry. So I’m not gonna right now.

So yeah. I haven’t updated in a while. But I’m back. Now let’s make pickles.

These quick house pickles are delish- even for people who don’t generally like pickles in a jar. It’s a great way to enjoy veggies without a dip or squirt of ranch dressing. Recently I entertained and made a platter of heirloom carrots, french green beans, red onion, and Persian cucumber pickles. It looked very chic and took almost no effort. There were no leftovers, but the pickled onions would have been fantastic on a sandwich or a turkey burger.

For the Stuffs:

  • 1- 1 1/2 lb of veggies. This can include almost anything. Carrots, onions, green beans, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccolini, asparagus, zucchini. Run Wild!

For the Brine:

  • 1 1/4 C Cider Vinegar
  • 1 C Hot Water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1/3 C Sugar or 1/2 C Agave Nectar
  • 2 TBsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 TBsp Whole Peppercorns, give them a good smashing
  • 1-7 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (I love garlic so I used a lot)
  • 1 Bay Leaf

1.) Dissolve the Sugar or Agave into the hot water. Add the peppercorns, bay, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and cider vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2.) Cut/trip your veggies so they’re uniform in size. If using carrots, green beans, cauliflower, broccolini, or asparagus, blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. This really helps get a nice texture and color.

3.) Pack your veggies tightly into your pickling containers of choice (I used several tupperware containers) and pour the cold brine over them. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serving size is 1 Cup.

Eat within a week. These are not the kind of pickles that hang out in your fridge for an eternity! 1 week tops!

Calories: 60  – Fat : 0 grams –  Carbs: 15 – Fiber: 4 grams – Protein: 1 grams

(Nutrition info given for pickled carrots)

Red Lambrusco Ice Cream with Blackstrap Molasses

Wine and Chocolate. What’s not to love?

It’s a little early to celebrate, but I’ve done at least 45 minutes of exercise every day for the last week. I am sore. Very sore. But it’s an invisible battle wound that I’m proud of, and on Weight Watchers it gives me enough activity points for me to splurge on something wonderful: Lambrusco Ice Cream.

Lambrusco is the name of a wine grape, and also a sparkling dolce (sweet) wine that you can get at Trader Joes for $4.99 a bottle that is made from the grape. It comes in both white or red, and I’m a big fan of the red, it has about the same amount of alcohol as regular wine but is sweeter and with that nice bubbly kick. As I’m not much of a drinker (It tends to make me sick quickly), I often find myself with a half bottle of leftover wine that I don’t want to waste.

So I made it into an ice cream.

Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts, almost solely because it’s convenient. If I’m entertaining I can make it even a week ahead and come up with any flavor my little heart desires to compliment the meal, and I can easily portion it out. Also, it keeps for a long time in the freezer so it doesn’t have the visual siren call of cookies or pie, who seem to beg me to not let them go to waste. 🙂

Recently a good friend gave me an amazing book called “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home”, written by Jeni Britton Bauer. She has dedicated her life to ice cream, and in turn she has a dedicated following of ice cream lovers everywhere. Her book has many wonderful recipes I might attempt to lighten and post in the future, but almost all of them have their foundation in an ice cream “base” that she has perfected. Once you have this down, coming up with your own flavors is a snap.

I’ve tried to cut most of the sugar out of this but I will warn you that this recipe is not light on the fat. As long as you stick to the 1/2 C portion it’s well worth the calories. The blackstrap molasses is optional, but it gives it a great brown surgar-y flavor without adding very much to the calories.

  • 2 C Whole Milk
  • 1 1/4 C Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 C Granulated Splenda, or 12 packets
  • 2 TBsp Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1 1/2 TBsp Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 slightly heaping TBsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 C Lambrusco, or other sweetish read wine

1. Drink half a bottle of Lambrusco, or finish 1 and a half bottles with a few friends. Pour the wine in a small saucepan and put on medium heat. When it starts to boil vigorously reduce heat to medium low and simmer until reduced to a 1//4 C (it should be bubbling almost like caramel and thick).

2. Take the Lambrusco off the heat and pour the Lambrusco syrup into a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, corn syrup, vanilla, and molasses and whisk until smooth.

3. In a separate small bowl put 2 TBsp of the milk with the cornstarch and mix until smooth to make a slurry. Set aside.

4. Put the rest of the milk and cream into a saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil for four minutes. Off the heat, add the cornstarch slurry and cook for another minute until slightly thickened. Then take off heat.

5. A little bit at a time, slowly add the hot milk to the cream cheese and syrup, whisking vigorously so there are no lumps in the cream cheese and the consistency is smooth. Add all of the milk in, then add the Splenda. Whisk.

6. Transfer mixture to a Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until you’re ready to run  the ice cream maker.

7. After refrigerated, cut a hole in the corner of the bag and pour into your ice cream maker. Churn, baby Churn!

This would be great with a dark chocolate sauce (like my 64 calorie chocolate sauce that goes with everything) or stewed spring cherries on top. Serving size is 1/2 C.

Calories: 186  – Fat :10.5 grams –  Carbs: 15 – Fiber: 3 grams – Protein: 3 grams

How To Take a “Before” and “After” Photo

The faces of the changed. Smiles abound!

As I mentioned, I’m starting turbo fire today. And, not wanting to miss even a workout of progress without documenting the soon-to-be-astounding change in my body, I set out to take my “before” photos. The documentation in this kit is pretty insistent that you do, it’s like they’re farming them for their “Look what we can do!” photo montage of flabby schlubs turning into happier, if inexplicably tanned, muscle machines. But hey, I’m game. Here are their instructions:

The more you show, the more you’ll know. Wear a swimsuit, underwear, or something comparable so you can see where you need the work and where you’re making progress. Don’t be afraid to show some skin. No. No. No. No. And no. Every woman under the sun knows the areas where she thinks she needs some work: thin, small, fat, or tall. We chant these areas in our head like a twisted mantra whenever we look in full-length mirrors. I don’t need to document the beginning of this quest in a two-piece. Eff you.

1. Use a plain background if possible. Mmmkay. Check.

2. Take a few front shots (hands on hips, “bicepts flex” muscle pose). A few side shots (hands at sides), and a few back shots (hands on hips, “biceps flex” muscle pose). “Bicepts flex”? Nah, that’s okay. The front shots I can totally do. Side shots…. okay. But the back shots mean that I have to involve another person in this process, and that’s NOT happening. And is it weird that I feel an obligation to frown in these? Every “before” picture I’ve ever seen on TV the person looks a bit dead inside, like they’re in the home stretch at an IKEA sale on a Sunday afternoon. If you really want a motivating before picture, why not suggest people take the photo sitting, knees closest to the camera, in light-washed tapered mom jeans eating a piece of cake? Nightmare.

3. Don’t suck it in or push it out. You want a true reflection of your body’s appearance. This is not just a “before” photo, it’s a goodbye photo. I’ve spent my whole life “sucking it in”. And it’s obvious I don’t want a true reflection of my body’s current appearance, that’s why I’m endeavoring to change almost everything about it..

4. Repeat this process to chart your visual progress.

5. Visit blahblahblah.com and post your photos online. Free marketing photos for you, irrelevant bragging rights for me?

I get that this “before” picture is supposed to be a photo I can later reflect on when I’m an “after”. Whenever I hear “afters” talk about their “befores” it’s always with an air of disgust or sadness: “I can’t believe I used to look like that!” “I was so miserable!” “Ugh! Chins! Chins everywhere!”

I consider myself to be a happy person. And, save for some requisite weight-centric self consciousness, I also consider myself to be confident. I hate thinking that my future self will look back on me as I am now and see disappointment and sadness. I don’t feel that way now. I feel empowered.

In short: I took my “before” pics. I smiled wide. I might have even flexed in a few. I most definitely did not wear a swimsuit.

I’ve decided to look at my “before” pictures, not as my personal “rock bottom” of fitness, but rather the cheery photo you might take at the beginning of a long hike over a big mountain: It’s a start, I have no idea what’s around the bend, it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m excited 🙂

The 64 Calorie Chocolate Sauce That Goes With Everything

Chocolate excuse 139,234,901: Chocolate is full of antioxidants.

I see a lot of dessert recipes on diet blogs that involve making 12 calorie reduced cupcakes, or 2 dozen low fat cookies, or one sugar-free cake. That’s great if you’re cooking for a crowd of dieters, but when we’re on our own isn’t that playing with fire? What am I supposed to do with the other 23 servings of cookies that doesn’t involve a large glass of milk and a two day True Blood marathon?

What about a dessert you can make when you want to be good and you don’t have an emergency pint of gelato in the fridge because you were a champion and didn’t buy any? What if it was Chocolate? What if it was 64 calories? What if it took 5 minutes to make?…

TaDAH!!!!

This is The Chocolate Sauce that goes with Everything! It makes a perfect single portion and tastes decadent and decidedly un-diety. Drizzle it over bananas, strawberries, raspberries, apples, popcorn, even carrots (maybe I’m a freak but I love dunking thin slices of carrots into this). Add it to a hot glass of milk, a cold cup of nonfat yogurt, a cup of coffee. Make everything chocolate! I love this stuff!

Use a high-quality unsweetened cocoa like Ghiradelli or Scharffen Berger, or Valrhona. I forbid you to use a crappy brand. Use the good stuff. Yes, it makes a difference.

  • 2 TBsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 TBsp half and half
  • 2-3 packets of Splenda or Stevia depending on how sweet you like it.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp water or coffee, depending on the consistency you’d like
  • pinch of salt

Heat the liquids in a very small pot over the stove or in a large mug in the microwave until hot (not boiling). Add the cocoa and whisk until there are no clumps and the chocolate is smooth. Last, add the sweetener and salt and whisk to combine.

Now put it on everything!

Calories: 64  – Fat : 4.9 grams –  Carbs: 7.2 – Fiber: 3.6 grams – Protein: 3 grams

Love Your Onions

I love onions, but in raw applications they can be a bit overpowering. Never fear- the solution is here (and super low calorie!)

What gives cut raw onions that acrid umph are sulphonic acids, and they’re the same things that are responsible for making you cry while you cut them. There are two things that denature these compounds: heat, and an acidic liquid.

To make raw onions delicious in salads, sandwiches, or any other raw onion recipe, simply coat or massage your cut onions in a small amount of vinegar or citrus juice and let it sit for 5 minutes. I use about 1 teaspoon of acid per medium sliced or chopped onion. The resulting onions will be free of pungency, taste much sweeter, and have a nice pliant texture about them.

The powerful raw onion- some people are repelled by its animal magnetism...

See how a little acid can tame the wild beast? Like a hunky macho guy who decides to date the kind of girl who wears shirts that say "Princess" on them and then BAM! He has to walk her little rhinestone-collared chihuahua and pick up its number twos. So yeah... Onions in acid!

As a bonus, this also mellows the flavor of scallions, leeks, garlic, shallots, and chives (though if you’re cooking them that will take care of the sulphonic acids anyway).

The Gym Motivator

The Gym Motivator. Notice he's brandishing a magic wand...

I’m trying to do a lot of things this month, like go to the gym with regularity, and be on twitter more often. I subscribe to this guy on twitter who describes himself as “Gym Motivator” (@inspirationboss). Usually he just posts motivational quotes, but he posts over ten times a day, so every time I check in his tweets are usually near the top. Some quotes are the ol’ standbys:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world” -Ghandi

Others seem completely unrelated to gym motivation:

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” -Zig Ziglar

However, recently I noticed that @inspirationboss just rapidly cycles through about 15 of the same quotes, and constantly re-uploads them every few hours. Gym Motivator is one lazy SOB.

In the grand scheme of themes, that doesn’t really matter. I doubt anyone on the planet was relying on their hourly, if very familiar, motivational quote from @inspirationboss to get their butt to the gym. But as someone who is trying to get themselves back into the swing of all things gym I have to ask: How do you do it? What’s more, is how do you keep doing it?

Thus far in my adult life I’ve had a lot of “Monday Resolutions.” Y’know, things I was going to really get crackin’ on come Monday. Or post-holidays. Or next New Years.

A few weeks ago I was going to start going to the gym as soon as I got my new New Balances from Zappos. But, in a crushing blow to my well-laid plans, when they arrived they were too big. And that’s really thrown off my projections of operation gym. I’m going to have to push back the deadline. My new shoes were really the foundation of the whole gym platform, and I can’t see moving forward without them.

Welcome to my brain. I’m ridiculous.

I know all of that is silly. If I was really motivated to exercise I could do it barefoot, without the perfect playlist, for free. It’s becoming clear that I’m stretching these rationalizations because I’m shooting for the wrong goal. I don’t want to go to the gym. I want to want to go to the gym. How do I motivate myself to get motivated?

Gym Motivator said  today (and every day for over 3 months):

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.” -Oprah Winfrey

I don’t want to dwell in a place of unspoken excuses and wake up (if I’m lucky) in the ER for a cardiac arrest because I was waiting to use my refund from Zappos to fund a crucial pair of gym shoes. That, at least, I know.

I guess that’s a place to start.

Catching this bus…

An empty pan. Ohhhh the possibilities

Tonight I noticed, while sitting on the couch, it was a little too hard to get up. I’m not saying a flopped and strained like a beached whale. I’m just saying it took a little more effort than I know it should.

Somehow that clinched it. I’m back on the wagon.

I know, I know, It’s a lifestyle change. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. I know that’s what it’s supposed to be, but for me and millions of other Americans it’s not. It’s a health bus we get on, then fall off. Or get on, decided to get off (y’know, for a rest… to see the country… and eat some greasy Chinese food), then are surprised when we forget to get back on. Let’s not kid ourselves, them’s the statistics.

You can say what we eat or how much we eat is a lifestyle choice, or you can say that it’s a hundred little choices we make every day. Donut or whole wheat toast? Coffee with sugar or Splenda? Cherries or Cheetos? But for me, healthy or not, food is a hobby and a passion. I love to cook. I’d rate myself a solid 7.8 on a ten point foodie spectrum. I love good food, and I resent having to skimp on stuff that makes food good. So I need to find a way to cook healthy food even a foodie can love. Not easy, but I love a good cooking challenge!

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for some time now, so welcome to my life! Follow me if you dare! I anticipate at least a handful of good recipes, a few quick tips diced here and there, and maybe a dash of complaining.