Pre-Emptive Video Break: Don’t Be A ….

This is NWS for language issues (unless you have headphones on, or an office with a door) but the point remains truthful in my opinion. ¬†Why is this a pre-emptive video break — because today you get TWO posts for me — and this one is the lead in. ¬†So what do you think — was the joke justified or below the belt? ¬†Did the talk show host cross any lines himself?


The Media Diet

I struggle with this on a regular bais. 325lb+ me would have been elated to be the size that I am. Thanks to fitspo, thinspo, and even people in my life who talk about my size and weight — I am always trying to be thinner and fitter. Not for me, not in a health way — but to “fit in”. Thanks to Kate for putting my feelings into words.

Fit Eating: So Delicious Almond Milk Cherry Amaretto Frozen Dessert

*as usual, I get no kickbacks from any of the food products that I talk about …but if any company wants me to try their products, let me know!

So I have a selective sweet tooth. I’m not a candy girl, I hate icing. But I do really enjoy a good cup of ice cream. The worst part of living in the South at this point are Cook-Out restaurants. If you don’t have one — your lifestyle change/diet thanks you. At Cook-Out they have the most incredible milkshakes. There is one that is a Pecan Pie Milkshake — where I swear they literally throw a piece of pie in the blender, pour it in a cup, and hand it to you. Don’t judge me, you know it sounds delicious.

And it is. Junk food is some tasty tasty stuff. Yet it is made for occasional indulgences; or stretchy pants. I refuse to deny myself the deliciousness of that shake next Fall (Thank Goodness it is only seasonal!), but in the mean time — what can satisfy my taste for creamy delicious ice cream that fits into my plan?

While wandering around my local Fresh Market I came across a frozen non-dairy treat that might fit that bill. I always am looking for alternatives — I am not anti-dairy. In fact I love cheese — really I do. I also love a nice bowl of cereal with cold milk. But I was vegan for a period of my life, and I appreciate dairy alternatives. My favorite being soy and almond. Coconut milk is good too — but I find it lacking the creamy mouth-feel of the other alternatives that mimic milk.

That being said, when I ran into the So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk Cherry Amaretto Frozen Dessert, I decided to give it a try. I was going for the Blood Orange sorbet — but I thought I would try something else today. One serving is a 1/2 cup of the non-dairy treat, and it is calculated at 4 Weight Watcher’s Plus points for that serving. Comparatively, a serving of most premium Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (my favorite is Late Night Snack, full disclosure) ranges from 5-7 points. It also only has 6g of Sugar (which is nearly unheard of in a premium ice cream that is not marketed as low sugar or sugar-free). The ingredients list is mainly understandable, which also is a plus.

The Verdict:

Taste: The frozen dessert is lacking that rich creamy mouth feel. However, its ligher consistency is a bit refreshing. It reminds me of what my Grandmother used to buy and call Ice Milk. It’s sort of thin, but flavorful. The Cherry Amaretto is a good flavor, and makes me feel more like I am¬†indulging¬†in a¬†decadent¬†treat when I bite into a rich chunk of cherry, which are liberally¬†swirled¬†around the product.

Overall, I think it will be a great option for those going dairy free (vegan, no-soy, no-dairy, gluten free) for whatever reason, and something different for those of us who enjoy ice cream or frozen treats. I also am finding that I haven’t eaten my 1/2 cup serving. Right now at least, just a few bites is working out well to soothe my desire to have a frozen creamy treat.

What is your favorite frozen treat? It can be dairy or non-dairy! Let me know!


Fit Eating: #Southernproblems & Perspective

So I am a southern woman. ¬†I was a fat woman. ¬†I was also a fat child. ¬†When you are large, when you are fat, when you are already overweight …one of the benefits is that you eat what you like honestly. ¬†Sure you have those crash diet moments, those “lifestyle change” moments. ¬†But when you are off of those moments….you get real, and put food that taste good in your mouth.

Now lets clear up some mythology about food and fat people. ¬†There are quite a few of us who do not “live to eat.” ¬†There is this idea that all fat people are fat since they are sitting around eating HoHo’s and DingDongs with a Super Gulp of Coke and a side of butter. ¬†Not the case. ¬†Before my weight loss surgery I had never been able to loose more than 20 pounds off my frame. ¬†I worked out, I was on Weight Watchers, I TRIED. ¬†However, did I also indulge in foods that I liked though. ¬†If you are going to be large, then you might as well not be miserable like everyone else. ¬†Eat the cake, Annie Mae…..

So now that I’m off my soapbox, back to being southern. ¬†I was on my way into my GA position, and I really really really wanted a biscuit from Hardees (which is Carl’s Jr. for those out on the West Coast). ¬†A delicious, flakey, buttery biscuit. Nothing else on it ….just that luscious thing you see above. ¬†It’s just….well it’s just a normal breakfast down here.

Do you know what that thing COSTS in Weight Watcher points?! ¬†EIGHT points. ¬†For ONE biscuit. ¬†*passes out on top of her points tracker* ¬†Now here is the thing — yes I CAN eat it. ¬†That is why I am faithful to Weight Watchers even AFTER having weight loss surgery. ¬†You can eat whatever you like — you just must track it. ¬†Want a whole bottle of wine — sure thing…but track that sucker. ¬†Know you are indulging, well working out will get you some extra points on TOP of your extra 49 weekly points. ¬†So yes you really can eat real foods, tasty foods, “bad for you” foods on this plan. ¬†[I am not being paid by Weight Watchers, as a matter of fact I pay them.]

However, I did not want to spend those points. ¬†I wanted to keep that money in the food bank. ¬†So I only got a diet coke, and tried to figure out what I could eat that wasn’t oatmeal (that’s another post for later on this week).

However, this is something that I struggle with. ¬†Sometimes I miss being larger, because I never felt guilty for eating a biscuit every now and then. ¬†I really did eat lots of veggies. ¬†I lived off soups in law school. I actually put better food in my body when I was larger than I do now. ¬†Is that partially because I never felt bad about making a kick-ass pot roast with gravy for my friends and I? ¬†Is it because I wasn’t concerned with staying thin, so I didn’t feel bad when my friends and I would go to this awesome french bistro (Blue Talon — Williamsburg, VA. ¬†Eat there, trust me!) and split a cheeseburger that was served with a fried egg on top, and their mac & cheese with Virginia ham — ending the meal with some decadent french mousse. ¬†I saw that meal as a treat, and something I could do on occasion. Now I would worry about gaining weight, not looking as fit as I should, not fitting into my wedding dress, not meeting the worlds expectations.

Yes, one biscuit — one little buttery snack put me in that tailspin. ¬†However, upon reflecting on it — should I be that caught up with my weight? ¬† Should I be so paranoid that I am flipping out over ONE biscuit?

I’ve started following a wonderful blog/facebook page written by an inspirational woman named Kate: ¬†This is Not a Diet — It’s My Life. ¬†I’ve asked permission to link a meme that Kate created. ¬†It spoke to me so much.

From This Is Not a Diet

From This Is Not a Diet

Kate is right.  I am a human being, and my weight SHOULD be the least interesting thing about me.  I should NOT need charts or measurements to validate me.  I should not need a certain number to prove my worth.  However, admitted at this point in my life.  I still do.  That number on the scale, and on my dress still defines me.  I still feel as if I would be judged if I decided to move from being a 12 to a 14.  What does 12 mean anyhow?!  I am so concerned that I flipped out about a tiny little baked good.  I was only going to have one.  Just one little baked good.

I think that this is a greater problem with the idea of fitness, thinness, and health. ¬†I swear I had less health issues when I was heavier. ¬†My BP has been borderline lately — it was always normal or even LOW when I was heavier. ¬†My knees hurt now sometimes from working out — when I worked out as a larger person I was out of breath maybe but my knees were in tact. ¬†I also — most importantly — had more confidence as a larger woman. ¬†Now I’m just constantly worried about gaining weight, not looking the part. ¬†And, I hate it. ¬†I find Kate more inspirational than any fitness icon that exists. ¬†Why? ¬†Because Kate is real, she is inspiring others to be REAL, and she is actually happy with herself being herself.

I have to stop hating myself over a desire to eat a biscuit. ¬†I have to stop thinking that a number on my dress or scale defines my worth. ¬†I must stop worrying that I am meeting everyone else’s expectations. ¬†This is not me giving myself leeway to gain 50 pounds, but so WHAT if I ebb and flow between one weight and five to ten pounds higher. ¬†So what if I never can wear a steady 10? ¬†So what? ¬†My fianc√© loves my thick thighs, he think’s I’m beautiful, and more importantly he loves that I am smart. ¬†My family and friends who are really there for me — think I’m awesome. ¬†So it’s time that I listen to them, and not others who want to define my abilities and my health through their arbitrary numbers and charts.

So — this is me. ¬†In 2008 I weighed 350 pounds. ¬†From 2009-today I’ve lost roughly 150 pounds. ¬†That is an entire person. ¬†That is a WHOLE person. ¬†According to the charts, I am still overweight. ¬†I am 5’9, and I wear anywhere from a size 10-14, size M-L — and I weigh around 208lbs currently. ¬†No matter what that chart says, I am fitter than I have ever been. ¬†I need to be happy with how I look, and I am working towards it. ¬†I will still do Weight Watchers but that is only to get me to balance my food options better ¬†not to focus so much on the scale. ¬†

But you know what. ¬†I recently had lunch with my fianc√© at one of our favorite places. ¬†You know what I ate…a biscuit. ¬†And it was delicious, my pants still fit, I can still teach a fitness class, the sky hasn’t fallen, and I was beautiful before I ate it — while I was eating it — and now. ¬†I’m working on being more like Kate, and I hope that anyone out there who hears the same voices that are negative in their lives use Kate as a wakeup call to real happiness and acceptance.

Fit Eating: Panera Bread Co.’s Power Salad

If you can’t tell already, Panera is my go-to fast(er) food restaurant. There at least incorporating a veggie or fruit is made easier than at most joints, and you can craft your meal to be healthier than normal. The downside in my opinion is that:

  1. The dressings for salad’s at Panera are tasty and delish, so I eat them — I know I could cut major calories going with a oil/vinegar combo — but my tastebuds aren’t having it. I believe that as long as you account for those extra tasty calories, then eat them. I do get extra dressing mostly because raw veggies do not work well with my Lap-Band (see THIS previous blog post for more information on the lap band and eating issues), and if I have to take a calorie/fat intake hit to get real veggies in my system — then that’s what I’ll do.
  2. The bread: some folks are low/no-complex carbs people. They shun bread, the white potato, crackers, chips, et al. I am not that girl. My grandmother onetime was consoling me when I was having a down day as a child due to my weight. She pointed out a very thin fit person and asked me if I knew what was going to happen to her in old age. I rattled of something about her being fit and trim and healthy. To which my grandmother responded that yes — she ate well, worked out, refused to eat things that might have given her a bit of pleasure all in persuit of health and a great body. But in the end — she was going to die just like all the overweight folks. What Grannie was trying to say is that for some of us, maybe giving up ALL that we love is a silly concept. If you like cupcakes, go to your local baker and get ONE — don’t bake a dozen in your home that you might eat all yourself during an episode of Scandal (best show ever, FYI). My fiance and I did that yesterday — we are in the process of picking favors of wedding cupcakes with our baker, so we went in and each got one we hadn’t tried. We don’t do this ever week, maybe once a month at most. But when we leave — there are two cupcakes in a bag. For us to share, and see if it makes our cut. I’m happy because not only did I get a tasty treat, but then once it’s gone — it’s gone. I count it into my Weight Watchers’ tracker as best I can, and then I move on. So if you like that portion of baguette at Panera with your meal, over the apple (me and raw apples usually don’t work sadly) then get it — count it in your Tracker, and move on.
  3. The cost: Panera is quite expensive folks, in comparison to other dine and dash restaurants. On one meal, a person could easily spend $10+ depending on the choices that they make. As a PhD Graduate Student, I know all too well about counting costs and watching what you spend. However, what I have decided is that if I *can* afford Panera over some other restaurant — then I will choose it. However, I have a list of other healthier options from places for when I’m on a tighter budget or not close to a Panera (e.g. the Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s with a side salad or baked potato as the side + Diet Coke) .

So along with the Hidden Menu launch nationwide, Panera also used January to relaunch their Salmon offerings, and to launch a Spinach Power Salad. According to the website, the new salad contains

fresh baby spinach, roasted mushrooms and onion blend, diced egg, Applewood-smoked bacon, frizzled onions & smoky Vidalia onion vinaigrette.

They suggest using it in the “You Pick 2” offerings with the Bistro French Onion Soup. The “Pick 2” program pairs a 1/2 salad, cup of soup, or 1/2 a sandwich together at your choosing. Prices are lowest if you pick cafe styled foods (think the basic greek salad, and a turkey sandwich) and rises with every premium or signature offering you select. And that is exactly what I had for lunch last snowy Friday afternoon.

I did make a few changes. First, I did add a second serving of dressing. I still appreciate this method because it is measured out. Instead of dumping half a bottle on my salad, I know I am really just adding 2 additional tablespoons. Second, I added a serving of salmon on my salad. I happen to love salmon, but my fiance does not. So when I can have it while dining out — I typically choose to do so. It adds a punch of protein, which is a focus of lap-band patients — and helps keep me full longer. When the salmon is not available at Panera, I tend to add chicken to my salads.

The Verdict:

I am actually in love with this salad. Again, the appearance was a bit lacking — and we do eat with our eyes, but that pretty piece of salmon worked wonders.

Weight Watchers Points Values (keep in mind that you can tweak your intake by asking the staff at Panera to remove some items like the cheese in the soup, or choosing an apple over the baguette):

  • 6 points — 1/2 Spinach Power Salad with ONE dressing
  • 5 points — Cup of Bistro French Onion soup with Gruyere Cheese and Crouton Toping
  • 5 points — portion of Baguette served with meals

Taste: The dressing is great, a little sweet which pairs nicely with the rest of the dish. I am a big fan of raw spinach, because it actually 8 times out of 10 works with my band. The addition of roasted mushrooms and onions is a big hearty plus for me, and I loved the crunch of the “frizzled” onions (which reminds me quite a lot of those french fried onions that top holiday Green Bean Casseroles in my humble opinion…). Oddly enough, I am nonplused about the bacon. Take it out, leave it on — I didn’t feel like it added to the salad, but it didn’t detract either. I might consider leaving it off honestly.

This is a salad that I would order in the full size happily. I just hope they keep it around for longer than a season (if you’re reading this Panera Executives — please keep this salad, seriously. And salmon on the menue as long as possible. Thanks!). If not, I think the next salad I will try is the hidden menue turkey one, since it also uses spinach as a base. Does anyone know if you can order spinach as a salad base on a regular basis?

Up In the Gym — Fitness and a LapBand

So this is the second part of my lab-band based postings (read part one here).   Fitness.

Working out is¬†critical¬†to¬†success¬†with a lap band. ¬†Unlike Gastric Bypass (I will do a post on the differences between the band and bypass — since two months before I was banded my mom got the bypass. ¬†And we live together. ¬†That was difficult to say the least…still can be *side eyes the candy jar she keeps full….*) there is no real “automatic” weight loss with the band. ¬†Bandsters can cheat even during the liquid diet phase (cause…milkshakes are liquids too you know). ¬†As I will reinforce, my surgeon warned me that¬†success¬†with a lap band could be a 20lb weight loss. ¬†And while that sounds “normal” for someone who has undergone typically a year of¬†preparation, spent thousands of dollars, and is typically¬†severely¬†obese and using this procedure as a last resort — that is not comforting.

Think about it. ¬†If you were 5’8 and weighed 350lb when you under went weight loss surgery– a year from that date you could just have lost 20lbs? ¬†You would still be over 300lbs, still well outside of that annoying and arbitrary height/weight chart maximums, still with an¬†obese¬†BMI. ¬†The Lap Band is a TOOL. ¬†One more time, the band is a TOOL. ¬†It is not a promise of any weight loss, let alone large amounts of weight loss. ¬†It does not prevent “cheating”, and it does not prevent weight re-gain.

So in order to achieve those goals, to even have a chance to do that — most people who undergo banding must change their diet (MYTH: Not all large and obese people eat Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies (RIP Hostess), while watching reality TV. ¬†Some of us had quite healthy diets, some of us went to the gym before the band, some of us had healthy stats. ¬†Not all of us, but some of us. ¬†One of my goals is to¬†dispel¬†these horrible myths of obesity, and to let people know the real deal). ¬†They also must figure out a work out regimen that works for them and their lifestyle.

I spoke a bit about the struggles with choosing healthy food options versus choosing something that will insert calories in the body in my previous post. ¬†So now lets talk fitness. ¬†As an obese woman, a fat woman – I did go to the gym. ¬†I had a gym membership all through law school. ¬†And yes — I did go to the gym when I could. ¬†I took Tribal Belly Dance when I lived in Richmond. ¬†I joined the YMCA when I returned to my hometown. ¬†I was not sedentary. ¬†I was not running half-marathons — but I was not sitting on the couch all day, every day. ¬†Also when I returned home I ended up taking a position in retail, which had me on my feet all day walking around the store — stocking shelves — climbing ladders.

When I returned to my hometown I also finally found a form of exercise that worked with my personality. ¬†Zumba(TM) fitness. ¬†A wonderful woman taught it at a local parks and recreation center. ¬†I finally had found a form of exercise that worked well with me — I hate running, I do not like working out to the point of throwing up, I do not enjoy step (I tend to always be concerned about taking a face plant off that sucker). ¬†However, I always loved to dance. ¬†Being larger I could never stay in any formal dance classes — I literally sized out of ballet and tap — they didn’t make the costumes in my size. ¬†I sized out of baton, and I was kept on JV cheerleading due to my size. ¬†That did not stop me from dancing all over the club, in my dorm room, at dances….I love to dance. ¬†My fiance laughs at me because I dance in the laundry room.

This love got to blossom with Zumba. ¬†In Zumba class I could feel the music, move my larger body appropriately, and I even found myself helping others because I got the moves and they didn’t. ¬†I took Zumba until my instructor found out she was expecting, and stepped aside. ¬†Then there was a lack fo Zumba in my hometown for a while. ¬†When an instructor appeared at the YMCA where I was a member by then, I jumped at the chance to jump back in. ¬†Ultimately I became a Zumba Fitness instructor in November of 2010, and it was a huge milestone for me. ¬†I am still not a size 6 — I will never be that ultimate model of fitness; that super petite, very thin and toned, very perky woman who looks fantastic in spandex.¬† However, what I am is someone who has been where most people are. ¬†Who knows what the average woman (who is a size 14; not 6) feels when they step into a fitness class or the gym. ¬†I know how to push people without making them feel like they shouldn’t be there. ¬†I push them so they can see how awesome they are, not so that they feel as if they do not belong. ¬†I’ve been personally blessed to have wonderful Zumba mentors who have helped me be the best instructor that I can be — including a woman who does look like that ultimate model of fitness. ¬†But she welcomes all, encourages all, and allows me to teach for her even though I am not that size 6.

I still am scared to death of face planting off of a step, my thighs still jiggle in spandex (but I wear it anyhow), and I laugh at myself more in Yoga than at any other time of my¬†existence¬†because I can do some moves like a Yogi rockstar — and others I look like a hot mess. ¬†Most importantly, there are days where I have NO DESIRE TO GO WORK OUT. ¬†I do not want to go. ¬†I want to sit down somewhere, read a book, catch up on sleep. ¬†So do not feel alone if you do not like working out. ¬†I teach group fitness, and there are days where I do not want to work out myself. ¬†I so understand. ¬†However, what my surgeon says is the key to my¬†successful¬†weight loss is that I am willing to go to the gym and sweat out my hair (Admittedly, I do miss having amazing hair like in my avitar photo….I don’t keep hair looking that good. ¬†I sweat through yoga yesterday, and I will sweat today when I teach class. ¬†I just let it go, went natural, pull it up in to a ponytail, and call my stylist only when I have to go somewhere or get a photo taken. ¬†But I do miss my amazing hair….). ¬†So find some form of fitness that you are comfortable doing, and maybe even want to do (even if it’s just 45% of the time — that is better than doing nothing). ¬†No action is too small. ¬†Walking your dog counts, dancing with your partner in the kitchen. ¬†If you like belly dance — go shimmy and shake it. ¬†If you love to swim, go splash in the pool. ¬†If you are a tri-athlete; well this post probably isn’t for you…. But for the rest of us, just move when you can — how you can. ¬†One of the reasons why I like yoga so much is because they give you levels and encourage you to explore what YOUR body can do. ¬†You aren’t trying to compare your pose to your neighbors, you are trying to get the best pose out of yourself. ¬†That is some kind of awesome body acceptance, right? ¬†It’s not about feeling bad if your knee lift is modified, its about the fact that you are lifting it! ¬†So find something that works for you, and go for it!

Again, the lap band is a tool. This is not easy, this is not cheating, this is not a quick fix. ¬†Some of us will be able to loose weight, we will work hard to eat the best we can and work out when we can. ¬†We will sweat, have many¬†awkward¬†moments in the gym and life, and try to figure out how to live with our new tool. ¬†¬†And some of us will still hate to run, no matter if we are roughly 135lb lighter than our highest weight……