Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lesson the first: Love thy Dog

Meet Sebastian, my inter-species life mate and canine love of my life.

My friend and I were supposed to return to Montreal for a raucous New Years Eve Party hosted by one of his friends. We went last years and the house party ranked as one of the top two of my New Years career. I was so excited to go. I convinced my boss to give us both(we work together) New Years Eve off and Jan 2 off. I was all set to Party.

Then the person who was supposed to watch Sebastian fell through. Okay problem solved my cousin would let me use her house so I could bring the dog. No need to panic party still on. Saturday I took Seb for the hike I mentioned. Sunday he started limping. He's almost 9 years in human years so I chalked it up to arthritis. I gave him some Glucosamine and went to bed. The next morning he did not get up with me at 6am and by 430pm that night he could not stand up. He spent the whole day on the bed. He would not put pressure on the leg. 400 dollars later my pooch tested positive for lyme disease. He needs one month of antibiotics. He needs my attention. No more party.

How can I relate this to food?: Hmmm. You can't always eat the chocolate cake because your dog may need you? Be flexible? Give yourself the freedom to fall off track? Life's a journey, take a wrong turn?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

....A Continuation

Something I forgot to add to my last post. I recognized my problem and then in an effort to acknowledge and honor this issue, I purposely did not go back out for a ski...

I went Ice Skating, with my friends nephew, on a frozen lake--how cool is that. We don't get that in Manhattan. The ice was rough and raised in places, but I managed to stay on my feet. The ice showed cracks and slush in some places; I was terrified that my 175-180 pound body slamming onto the surface would break through. Heath(er) Bar Crunch Ice Cream might be a bit salty.
So no tricks.

At 330pn I waited with a cup of coffee by the gondola to welcome my friend after his ski. Everyone was taking pleasure in the final run of the day. I watched as they indulged in winter's rapture, their skis carving out thin slices of snow. I told myself, it was okay. The hill will be here when I return. I can always return... whenever I want to...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

All I need to know about Food I learned...

From Skiing. Yes, you all knew that was coming.

The last day of skiing that I spoke about revealed some things in how I relate to food.

As you all know I went out early in the morning for a few runs. It was a beautiful morning. I skied blue(intermediate) runs with exceptional technique. My friend and I decided to share a lift ticket to save money so I knew I had be done by noon. I came back to the room at 10am, ate my peanut butter sandwich and felt done, felt full. We were leaving early the next day.

My friend woke up and told me I had another hour and half before he needed the ticket. I sat on the couch with the my ski-boots and ski-pants still on. Maybe I'll go out for one more run.

I realized that behavior was much like my relationship to food. Sitting on the couch was akin to stalking an oven, fork and knife in hand, waiting for another bite of perfection to fly out and onto my plate. Just as a perfect run can not be duplicated, the next bite is never as exquisite as the one that sent shivers through the tongue.

The problem with a food addicts like me is that we are always looking to warm ourselves with food. We are always trying to experience the same bliss from bite to bite.

The important step is that I recognize it.

Making the World Your own

I like people, I love Humanity but I hate crowds. Yesterday, as I was hiking during a rainy, icy and foggy day I realized that Ive always loved the things that the majority hates. Nothing makes me happier than crappy weather. Did this desire arise from a need to be alone or do I just like crappy weather?

Nobody wants to get up at 7am on vacation to ski. But I do so I can be alone as possible. Maybe it's just exercise that I like to do alone? That seems to be my pattern.

The world just looks better when quiet.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ambition vs. Sloth: Conversations with the Self

7 AM at the Homewood Suites, Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

The ambitious part of Heather's brain:
Let's go. Time to make first tracks on the hill.
The sloth that lives in Heather's brain:
We did that yesterday. Let's go back to sleep. We're just about to
ride the space shuttle.
Ambition: You've got fifteen minutes
Sloth: Blast off.

Ambition: Okay you landed on Mars. Now get up.
Sloth: So Not Happening
Ambition: Last night you we're really excited about getting on the hill--before everyone else.
Sloth: Oh, throw my words in my face...err...brain.
Ambition: Empty fresh groomed runs.
Sloth: 15 more minutes.
Ambition: If you think I'm annoying now....

Ambition: You've opened the space station on Mars, Now, WAKE UP YOU LAZY PIECE OF...oh.. you're up.
Sloth: Bathroom. The human drags herself to the television; the resort info channel indicates 0 degrees F, she climbs back in bed. I really don't want to go. I'll just sleep more and go at 9am.
Ambition: You're going to regret not going.
Sloth: When I'm sixty I'm going to regret?
Ambition: Yes
Sloth: I doubt that.
Ambition: Remember how happy you were yesterday. Skiing with the Polar Bears.
Sloth: I hate you.
Ambition: That's okay. She doesn't.

Life is a struggle. Always let ambition win.

Look at these beautiful pics I took atop a mountain at 8am. I'd go for sunrise if they'd let me.

The world belongs to me.

Dressing the Part, 0 degrees F.

Skier food-Peanut butter, strawberry jam, and a bit of nutella. Easy to carry, about the same numbers as a Power Bar and tastes great when frozen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ski In, Ski Out, and an In room Kitchen for 200 dollars a night.

The price may make some wince or you may think I have money. I don't have much money and I'm am sharing the room with my buddy, Ray. $400 for 4 nights of bliss doesn't sound so bad. Plus we stopped at the grocery before we arrived and I figured a net cost of $3.50 per meal by making it in the room. Also, I can control what I eat better.

I looove skiing, parts of me want to move to a ski area and work as a nurse in a clinic so I could ski my brains out. The other parts which want to act, write, and ride subways seem to win these conflicts. Right now it's 8:00 am and the temp is -8F. (I have skied once in that temp when I was 18 and had much more body fat). I got up early to enjoy the mountain in solitude. Yesterday at 11am the place was jumping. I think only the die-hards are out now. Gonna do it at least two runs, if only to claim, I skied with the polar bears.

Post pics when I come back.

Excellent News for those in Debt

I'm carry credit card debt and I'm sure many of us do. Anyone who has felt the sting from a credit card company will enjoy this article. Susan Tompor writes a clear analysis for the Detroit Free Press. Go read!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to eat on Vacation?

I don't know. I'm up in Montreal staying with my cousins. Ronna keeps a vegetarian home which is great for me. I never have to worry about what she makes. She has four children ages 2-11. In order to keep them stocked up on nutrients while sating with their picky palates she keeps the house full of multi-grain carbs and cheese. Oh yummy cheese and carbs, two of my four favourite things.

The Token Fat Girl wrote on 12/10/2008 about how we take action or inaction on our goals. She says we should ask ourselves the question, "Will this help me to reach my goals." It's seems that I act with perfect clarity when in my comfort zone. In the lunchroom at work, I am able to forgo the cookies and cake sticking with my salad and hummus. But vacation mentality prevails. Oh I'm on vacation, and I'm going skiing, I don't have to eat fruit in the morning, I can eat the bagel. No you really can't. Once a week, maybe, not for a whole week.

I shed the bulk of my excess weight using the principles of the Fit for Life lifestyle plan. (I don't believe in the D-word.) Before I left for Los Angeles four years ago, I followed a strict Vegan diet and was in best shape of my life. My resting heart rate was 44. My cholesterol was 120.

I relaxed the constraints on myself in the past four years even indulging in fish and seafood which I do believe is better for you than dairy. My waterloo is dairy. Nothing puts weight on me like dairy. I can eat 10 pound of granola so long as I don't add milk.

My problems are not a matter of not knowing what to eat, but why I eat what I shouldn't eat. I ask my self the question every time I put something in my mouth. Why don't I listen to the answer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Low fat Alternative to Salsa con Queso

Creativity strikes.

Who loves cheesy Salsa con Queso? I do, I do. But with a pound of Velveeta? Oy, too much-80 calories for 2 tablespoons. Who eats just two tablespoons.
Last night I made a salad. Dumped baby greens into a bowl added red pepper and broccoli. I needed dressing. Was tired of Hummus(ha...imagine that). Salsa sat nearby Hummus in the fridge. I mixed them together. But something was missing. Enter shaved parmesan. The result: a pleasant concoction with the same consistency as Salsa con Queso plus a hint of cheese.
The pic above is the Velveeta and Salsa. Mine looked about the same.

Stuck at airport-fattening food all around.

An hour delay of my flight means a test of my resolve. When board, I grab chocolate. There is way to much chocolate in an airport. If only I lacked cash. My mom gave me money for the internet since because of her I had to get drop off way early. The internet is free. Come to Palm Beach International Airport home of sunshine, pecan logs, and free internet.

Can I flag a yellow cab?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oprah Comes Clean

Oprah admitted that she has gained 40 pounds possibly because of a thyroid problem. I understand her position. Not that my fifteen minutes of fame measures up to Oprah's empire, but experienced the embarrassment she must be feeling right now. One of the reasons I never tell anyone that I had an 'Extreme Makeover' is mainly my recent weight gain. When I am recognized, I wonder if the me they see is the Before or the After.

When Oprah appeared on her show presenting her new healthy self touting her trainer, Bob Greene she made the statement that her life in food was under control. Unlike the Medi-fast, size 10 Calvin's episode from 1988, she had achieved her goals by implementing lifestyle changes. I did the same. I lost weight the proper way. If a celebrity, with a host of professionals at her call, can slip, so can I, so can all of us. It's okay I, we will get ourselves together.

By starting this blog one week ago I did what Oprah did today: I owned up to my problems. I owned up to letting food control me again. I owned it up to myself.

No Stats Today

I am visiting my parents and sister in Florida, therefore away from my BMI scale. Anyway, I am not really a fan of weekly weigh-ins; I tend to go with how the pants fit. When I arrived in Florida my "middle of the road" jeans fit much better plus they were fresh from the laundry. Good results, but the cheese I've consumed this weekend most likely negates the juice fast. Back to square one.

Yesterday, my sister woke me at the ass-crack of dawn to walk three miles with the neighbor. I don't mind the workout, just the time. Mornings are not my friend. The sun is closer to West Palm Beach than New York City plus the sky is clear. To bright, to hot. Florida is flat and it's difficult to find dirt, just smooth pavement and manicured lawns. I jog/walk on dirt in Central Park or Riverside Park at home. The terrain varies at home as well. Not a fan of the flats. Yet to be polite, I pumped my arms and even held my sister's weights when she got tired. I woke this morning in Century Village, aka, 'The Cemetery' where my parents live. Again nary a speck of dirt nor knoll to be found. I will make it up tomorrow when I go home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Life in Weight-the backstory

My Life in Weight:

The Backstory

I was underweight once in my life-the day I was born. I came six weeks early on March 25, 1971, weighing 4 pounds 14 ounces in Montreal, Quebec. My parents are not avid storytellers but I recall some of their accounts involving a Blizzard or a small snowstorm. I stayed in the hospital for two weeks to learn how to eat. There are days I wish I could invoke the desire to not eat. Plus, the idea of my baby self as an anorexic cracks me up. How ironic.(It does fuel a theory of mine that we grow up to emulate the opposite of our baby selves.) My sister, who you will meet later , weighed in around 8 or 9 pounds.

Harriet Shulkin was a skinny girl and a skinny woman. Then she spent nine weeks on her back trying to keep me from sliding out. Leonard was a roly-poly boy whose gentle touch warmed my mothers heart. He helped her carry groceries up the stairs. He grew to be a fat man, a happy fat man.

Marcie, my sister, was adopted before I was born. My mother had been unable to carry a baby to term and she worked for a lawyer. Back in 1969, governments hadn’t sunk their bureaucratic teeth into adoption, they had bigger problems. Before men landed on the moon, my parents carried 5 day old Marcie onto a train in Toronto bound for Montreal. Two years and two months later, I followed. Marcie, I am told, bit my big toe the day I arrived home. Another irony since it was I who spent childhood jealous of my big sister. She may have been envious of attention, but I desired her clothes, her friends, and her minuscule appetite.

When Jordache Jeans rose to prominence my parents-trying to give us what we needed to survive the social land-mines- packed us into the station wagon. Marcie slid on the skinny jeans. The Children’s Place deemed me to fat for the pant. My mom took me to JcPenny’s for sturdy ‘elastic waist’ fashion. A year later I grew too big for all kid sizes. My dad termed my ‘fat pants’ size OX.

In High School I weighed over 150 and measured 5 feet. I, like my father, was a fat little girl and grew to be a fat woman. My father nourished my love of food. Teenage social life in Florida handed me some lemons, so Daddy and I ordered cheeseburgers...and ate them, at Burger King. I was the only kid in West Palm Beach who could eat a Whopper with Cheese and a large ketchup with fries. I have the best Dad, but he did send some mixed messages. Eat the burger, eat the fries, but no dessert for you. You need to watch your weight.

My graduation photo from Nursing School shows a gigantic Heather. The first year of school, I had to wear a dress and extra Queen size white hose because they didn’t have my size in the pants. I spent two-thirds of my nursing career in extra large scrubs.

I can summarize my twenties with two words: depressed yo-yo. I did earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and graced the stage, but other than that it was up and down. By graduation in 2001 I weighed a whopping 230 and nothing could satisfy my hunger.

The change that emerged in the hippy, veggie loving town of Asheville, North Carolina rose to fruition in New York City in 2003. The light went on and I stopped eating crap. There was a book, Conversation’s with God, that helped me sort out my spiritual side. And then a photo which made the disconnect in my brain evident. I really did want to make my outside match my inside. My dog, removed from his backyard, needed to run. Also, I liked climbing rocks and mountains; ninety pounds of blubber made the trip difficult. I removed 70 pounds on my own, by healthy exercise and a vegan diet.

Enter Extreme Makeover, a Television show centered around a person receiving a ‘fairy-tale’ makeover with plastic surgery. Producers said I excelled at being ‘average looking with a great personality.’ I had one Summer of 2004 and it changed my life...for a while. I went to LA wearing size 12 and came home a size 6. I got whiplash. I couldn’t process the change and my lipid tinted eyes couldn’t see the skinny.

In the last four years, I vacillated between 150-180. I allowed myself the luxury of gastronomic peace. I didn’t have to worry, spinach and tofu would satiate my bottomless hunger forever.

Can I get back to 136 pounds? I doubt it? That took severe caloric restriction, I don’t want to stay at 180 either. My ski-pants wont fit and I can’t afford a new pair. Guess I have to find someplace in the middle.

Join me on the journey...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not So Well

Visiting the Parentals in Florida. We went to Sweet Tomatoes, a salad/buffet place. Let's just say I walked out feeling a bit too full. I should never go to these kinds of places. When presented with a major variety of foods I want to try everything and I feel like I should go back at least once. This is an improvement from the past. I used to go two or sometimes three---if they had lots of cheese.

Moderation, must learn moderation.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Greatest Mini Food Chopper, I love Hummus

The Cuisinart Mini-Prep changed my world. It's 4 cup size is perfect for saving space and doing a full recipe. Two speeds get a great blend without needing to open the top to mix the contents around. In the first week I did a standard Hummus and my own sun dried tomato pesto. Both with less oil that store bought varieties. The machine is a little noisy, but I don't need to run it for too long.

With the Mini-prep the only limit is the imagination.

I love Hummus. I dream of Hummus. My Hummus consumption has help me loose 70 pounds. For a vegetarian,it's a great source of protein and makes raw broccoli deliciously palatable. But beware, store bought hummus often has excess oil and fat. When I make my own I control the amount of oil and creates combinations Sabre has never dreamed.

How it Began- A coworker, a graduate of a prestigious cooking school, brought in hummus for me during one of our parties.(they are notoriously meat heavy and she wanted me to have something). She gave me the recipe. At first I borrowed my dad's mini-mini-chop, about one cup. My results were ok, but it was difficult, I could only do half a recipe.

Then I got the Mini-Prep. Have I told you how much I love my mini-prep.

The Hummus recipe:

1 can of chick peas. You can use dried and rehydrate but I found more oil was needed.
1 tablespoon of Tahini, you alter this amount to your personal taste.
Juice of one lemon
1/4 of an onion--Vidalia Sweets give excellent flavor.
Garlic to taste--I use three cloves, that may be too much for some.
1 cup Olive Oil-I use about 1/2 cup.
Blend the first 5 ingredients then add the oil, keep blending to the desired consistency. I use the chop speed then the grind.

Variations because I never follow the beaten path.
Any beans will work. One of my best was 1/2 can of kidney beans and 1/2 chick peas. I'm going to do black beans next.
I often add sun dried tomatoes, basil, rosemary, chile pepper, mushrooms, almonds, pistachios, etc. Give it a whirl.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Treat yourself well!

Yesterday-the day after the fast ended-flew by without succumbing to delights like chocolate. I wont bore readers with a bite by bite account of a day. I'll simply say I treated myself well or not well. All foods deserve to be eaten and by all people. However, some of us need moderation because we, myself included, are missing the auto-off button of the brain.

I though after my makeover my food compulsion, my food fears would disappear. As evidenced by my weightline, they didn't. Here I am again trying to get back on track. And I will. I want my body, not the uber thin one, but the one from my original mission statement: Be healthy, climb rocks, climb mountains.

When one area of my life, i.e workouts, smoking, clean room or overcheesing, spins out of control, I tend to let everything else slip. My goal is to find the balance. Chipotle does not need my business if I miss a workout. Cadbury mini-eggs arrive with Easter each year. Eating five large bags in one week is...gross...must resist. Must buy small bag...once.

Yesterday was a good day and I treated myself well. I went for a run. I ate a little cheese.

Monday, December 1, 2008


One more hour till I am asleep. One more hour without coffee, diet coke, and solid food. The juice fast ends when I fall into blissful slumber. And I did it. Unlike other healthful regimens I have taken on with good intentions, only to be thwarted by the smell of chocolate and cheese, this one I have completed with nary a falter. I did not leave the house for two days. I peed pink and green. I looked like a fool in the lounge slugging the blood-like substance which left devil-horns at the corners of my upper lip. After my 5 minute repast I popped on the couch for a post juice nap. Isn't live juice supposed to make you feel good?

Actually I do feel good. I am proud of my accomplishment. I did the fast to shake myself out of my ways. My problem with food is that I comfort eat and when the need for comfort is gone...I still comfort eat. I stop exercising. I return to my old ways where I feared that there would never be enough food. These last three days I proved that my favorite things-coffee with cream, cheese, chocolate would be waiting when I returned from the garden.

Day 1-The Stats

Here are my Stats. I just weighed myself on a BMI scale; The results perturbed me.

Weight-82kg or 180.4
Fat %-41
Inches around waist 37

How did I get this big? Again?
Granted I am no where near my top weight 230lb. I know I'll never be 136lb like I was on Sept 14, 2004. I was thin for 5 seconds. I was fat for a lifetime. Now I want to find someplace in the middle.