Monday, March 31, 2008

This week's weight

Once again, our Monday weights are not the lowest we've been this week, but still...

For the week:
Nina 285.34, 7 day average 285.9, loss for the week about 1.5, total loss since January 17 lbs.
Michael, 507.7, 7 day average 509, loss for the week about 3.7, total loss since January 35.6 lbs, total loss since 2006, 106.24

So that's ok, I guess.

I've been playing racquetball nearly every day lately, and that's helping with muscle tone as much as anything else. I've pretty much failed on the walking... not so much intention but a combination of fatigue and snow plus of course not that much motivation because I've been playing racquetball all the time. Still need to do that, though. Let's face it, I'm not losing a ton of weight here... but I do look better, and at least I am losing something. So I can kind of live with that for the moment.

Michael's leg is better this week, so I'm hopeful that he'll be moving around more... and that the essential thing. Plus we need to get more regular than we've been about this seated workout. (Yes, we've been pretty bad about it.)

All in all, not a bad week.

Below 500, though... that would be a big celebration.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

General complaining

I'd like to take a break today from complaining about my weight, and complain about everything else in the universe. Here are the things that are annoying me today....

1. Macy's and the world of fashion
I went to Macy's yesterday since I've had to admit that the seams on the One Pair of Really Comfy Jeans that I own are wearing thin (I should note that I really started out with lots more jeans than this, but have worn them all to the paper thin seam stage, and this was the last respectable pair). I've been trying to put off buying jeans until (sigh) I lost a little more weight, but since that's progressing at the pace of a disabled snail, I gave up. Anyway, I wanted basically exactly the same pair that I bought a little over a year ago, but since they didn't have that, I needed to try on... so of course, the rule is that if you're going to get undressed, you might as well try on about 50 things. So I had a look around. And WHAT has happened to fashion??? I mean, first of all, Macy's is really a big step down from the store that they bought out here, Kaufmann's. Especially in women's lines. But secondly, it seems that the 60s-70s are back with a vengeance. EVERYTHING is flimsy pseudo-Pucci or floral prints and Empire waists. I look like a badly-gathered seatcover in things like this. First of all, the seam that's supposed to hit under the bustline tends to hit in the middle for me (didn't anyone tell these designers that larger sizes mean that your breasts are likely to be larger, too?), and besides that, these styles really only look good if you're about 18. And I don't like them anyway, so there! I couldn't find a thing that I was even willing to try on except jeans (same size as last year, sigh).

To add insult to injury, on the dressing room mirror they had a little photo of Clinton Kelly (I think that's his name, the guy from What Not To Wear) saying, want to conceal larger hips? Balance them with puffed sleeves. PUFFED SLEEVES? Besides that fact that there wasn't a puffed sleeve in the store, puffed sleeves make my arm look like something is eating it.

2. Leaving Macy's in a snit, I went on to my other big errand, a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond (which for some reason we started calling Bed Bath Bat years ago, and so it's the only way I can think of it). I wanted to get some of these terrific stay-fresh containers... the brand name is Oso Fresh (yes, dumb name), and they are supposed to contain silver nitrate or something that keeps food fresher. I bought a set of these about a year ago although I was profoundly skeptical and they were expensive (about $65 for the set). Lately, I've been precooking a LOT of food, and I keep running out of containers, so I wanted to get some more. I have to say that these containers are great... I've never run a comparison test to see if they really keep food fresher or not, but they seem to, plus they have nice snap-lock tops that close well but yet are not fiddly to line up properly. The only problem is that the set (you can't buy them individually as far as I know) has about 5 big containers and a LOT of tiny containers. Great for lunch but not so great for storing large quantities of food.

So I check their website, and, lo and behold. they have them AND the price is now $29.99. But the shipping is enough that I don't want to pay it if I don't have to, so I figure I'll just run in and get some next time I'm in Rochester. You guessed it... none to be had in any store. Grrrrr. If I'd known that... if the web site said, not available in stores.... I would have just ordered them weeks ago and saved myself a lot of annoyance. (You can still get them on the website, and other places still sell them at the $65 price, so it's a good buy. Look under Kitchen Storage.)

3. So then I went to a grocery store. Always a bad idea on a Saturday afternoon, anyway... but, really, people! Can you NOT just leave your cart in the middle of the aisle while you examine every label? Especially when there are five people stacked up behind you trying to be polite? I could have been out in 15 minutes, and it took maybe 45 (and a really bad mood) because no one would just MOVE. Ok, yes, I am being grumpy... but have some awareness of the people around you. I think I'll get a horn.

4. Grocery store complaint #2... and ok, this one is my fault. So on the way out, I wanted to grab a small bite to eat for me and Michael, who was patiently waiting in the car. I wanted to get some sashimi... we used to live on sushi in the high-carb days. No sashimi (of course), so I got some little hand rolls (not so much rice really), but neither of us had eaten since breakfast, and it was about 4 pm, so I thought, maybe a little Chinese food. So I got a random selection... a few shrimp, a few pieces of chicken in different sauces, that sort of thing. I used to enjoy this kind of thing, but every sauce was overly sweet... who knows how much sugar... and although this is not supposed to have MSG in it, both of us reacted in the same way that we do to things with MSG. Should have skipped it. And the sushi probably, too. My weight is up from a nice low yesterday, and ok, this is probably my fault. But still. It shouldn't be quite so hard to get something that you can eat if you don't eat sugar and breading. Millions of Chinese people eat food without sugar and breading (not that this is anything that resembles real Chinese food, but still...).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Springtime in upstate NY

We got an unexpected (by me anyway!) springtime storm the night before last... about 6 inches of wet snow, a little disheartening after a March of nothing but semi-wintry snowy cold weather. Also a little annoying for those of us who are trying to get into a walking regime and find it harder with cold and snow. Yes, I could go down to the college and walk around the indoor track. Yes, I should.

Anyway, the upside is that is was just lovely, all of the trees frosted with this wet snow that stuck, and the sun finally came out yesterday afternoon, and it was a fairyland. A cold fairyland, but still!

But we're supposed to be in the 50s by Monday... briefly anyway... and none too soon for me. This winter has lingered on, and it's one source, I think, of my continued depression and lethargy. I just haven't felt well lately, tired with no reason, nauseated a lot, depressed. At the moment, I can't even imagine what it would take to make those things different.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The food composition mystery

For the last two days, I logged food for the first time in a while, and I looked at the breakdown on Tuesday night, and thought, wow, here's the problem. Calories 2100 (probably a few more), net carbs 27, protein 197 g, % fat 55, % protein 38, % carbs 7. Not a great-looking breakdown (and I should add that yesterday looked much the same). Too much protein, too little fat, too many calories... maybe. I thought, my weight will surely be higher today. So, of course, you guessed it... it was lower on Wednesday. Not a lot, and within the range in which I've been fluctuating, so nothing to get excited about really, but still. Today it's even lower... actually the lowest I've been in this weight cycle. Go figure.

One of the great mysteries to me is, what breakdown of calories/carbs/composition should I really be eating. I know that it's in vogue to say, if you're eating a low carb diet, calories don't count... and that seems to be absolutely true for some people. Others argue that they still can't lose weight without restricting calories. Others, including Dr. Eades, seem to be arguing that while there is likely to be a metabolic advantage to a low carb diet, that isn't a license to pack in an infinite number of calories (although the probable result of that will be not weight gain but a failure to lose weight). The latter makes the most sense to me, particularly since I've played a little with more calories, with no particular result (although I probably didn't stick with it for long enough).

A good basal metabolic rate calculator can be found here. It's simple, but the good thing is that it's based on age as well as the customary gender and height and weight. Anyway, that says I should be eating about 2,000 calories to maintain my weight and that Michael should be eating about 3,800 to maintain his (another example, in my opinion anyway, of how these things cannot be calculated with a simple formula as weight increases past some level... if that were really what he needed to eat, he would have been losing a couple of pounds a week at absolute minimum for the last two years). So... let's take that 2,000, and add an arbitrary 500 for the fact that I move around a lot (should probably be considerably more than that) and then let's add in an even more arbitrary 200 for some low-carb metabolic advantage. That would give me a budget of 2,700 at minimum... and let's say I'm eating about 2,100 calories... that's a calorie deficit of 600/day or 4,200/week, which should amount to 1.5 lbs. lost per week. Except, of course, that it's not really working that way.

And I have to say, I'm not exactly stuffed. I mean, I don't have some sense that I'm eating too much, and really, I'm not eating a lot... too much meat, maybe. And part of the calorie density is that we've been eating a lot of red meat lately and not so much chicken and fish, I guess. A lot of the time lately, too, I've been feeling hungry. Or, as Michael would say, peckish... not straving but I could sure eat something. Which to me suggests that the fat/protein balance is off; that I might do better getting more calories from fat and fewer from protein. The protein numbers for the last few days have been, I think, excessive. Protein is another of those things that it's hard to get a clear sense about. Is excess protein bad? And what level of protein is really excessive? Certainly I'm well above my minimum protein requirements... but those are minimums.

I have no idea.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It occurred to me yesterday that I have never in my life been more obsessed with my weight. When I was 18 and might have done myself some good by getting terribly committed about diet and exercise, I couldn't be bothered. Well, that's probably not fair; it's more that the lure of emotional eating, food as comfort, an evening with a book and a pizza, had more of an immediate lure than anything else. It's hard to look that far back and remember how it could have made sense. But in those days, really losing a lot of weight would probably have changed my life in fundamental ways. Today it won't, but it might make it longer and better, I suppose. Nonetheless, it's become an obsession.

There's some tremendous irony here somewhere. I feel, often, haunted by the past in one way or another, by things done wrong, by different paths I could have taken, by things that eat me up with sick regret, by things and times and people lost forever. If I could change only one thing about myself, I think it would be this... the propensity for regret, the apparent inability to come to terms with the past. But the thing that doesn't do this, that doesn't bring that sick regret feeling, is weight. And, ironically, it's been the thing that's dogged and haunted my life, more than any other. But, I suppose... it's not like I didn't know. It's not like it wasn't in my control. Not like I couldn't have changed it. The other things... these seem to me more failures of information, or things outside of my control... things that I could have made better decisions about if only I had had more information or had been allowed to choose. Now... now when I choose to do this, when I've worked at this harder and better than ever before, when I'm really committed to it... well, now it seems out of my control in some way. Nothing I do seems to help that much.

If I had lost only a pound a week since I started working on this hard, two years ago... I would be near my goal weight. Ok, I suppose that's not really fair, but still. I resent the year and a half spent eating food pyramid low fat high carb and doing nothing but making my stomach fatter. I resent the simple equation I was taught for all my life, just reduce calories and exercise. It's not that it's without truth, but it's sure as hell not the whole truth.

Anyway. At the end of the day, all you can do is dust yourself off and start over again. And that starting over again can't be changing everything. So, this week, I go on with my master plan of the moment. Whatever it is.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Another stupid week.

The good news: Michael is down 3 lbs for the week. The bad news: I'm up nearly 2 lbs for the week.

He was actually lower a few days ago... well, I was, too. The last couple of days we ate late, and I woke up this morning just beyond bloated, back to feeling like I couldn't close my hands, that sort of thing. So... probably my lousy weight today is just water, and it will probably go away, and so on.

But in the big picture, I'm still 3.5 lbs higher than I was two weeks ago, and I've about wiped out everything I lost in the previous two weeks, and I am beyond disheartened. I don't know how not to be discouraged about this. I don't know what to do next, what I'm not doing, what I should be doing, and I am just so tired of it all.

I could sit here and type out all my theories again and all the reasons why I shouldn't let this get me down, but I woke up from an awful dream of the past this morning, and it's all just a little much. I don't know how to stick all the pieces together today; I don't have the right glue. I'm sure this will all seem better in a while, and I'll do what I always do and put it all back together and try another stupid day, but right now, I just want to quit. But what do you do then, where do you go to quit?

I am so discouraged. Disheartened.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The seated workout

Excellent, really. Again, the link is here.

We tried this today, after I walked. It's a beautiful sunny if frigid day in upstate NY, yesterday I worked out how to get an audiobook onto my iPod, and I'm feeling a tad less grumpy and ill-used about the walking, today anyway (yes, I know, shut up, stop whining, and get on with it). My weight as usual remains constant, sigh, but Michael's down another pound, woo hoo. And his leg is fractionally better.

Anyway, this workout is a series of seated exercises, and Michael could do all of them except the ab twist thing, which is the only one that I also thought had a little potential for hurting yourself, because I could feel my back in all sorts of unpleasant ways. The pros: minimal equipment needed (a set of light weights although you could use soup cans, paper plate or something slideable if you're wearing shoes, and a resistance band. You could skip the band, but it helps. Actually, I couldn't do all of that exercise.), don't have to stand up if that's an issue for you, and everything (just about) could be done by someone who is pretty immobile. And these are serious exercises... I could feel all of them, although certainly you'd need to up the reps and weight if you were doing some of them for long, especially the lower body stuff. And it doesn't take ages. The cons: doesn't work all muscles, especially glutes. But this is kind of a minor objection, particularly on the "some is better than none" theory.

So things are looking pretty positive here this afternoon!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Exercise at high weights

Well, the excellent news is that Michael is down nearly 4 lbs. this morning. I'm up but very fractionally. Maybe this is really working, if we can sustain it. I'm supposed to be walking right now, but I'm doing this instead... despite good if whiny intentions. The problem is my iPod, which Michael is trying to put new music on... I could have waited, really, but I can't walk without it! So I'm giving up for the morning, but I will walk to racquetball this afternoon, which will be nearly as good (and back up a killer hill, sigh).

So this morning, I'm once again contemplating the problem of exercise for the really obese. The last time I did a Google search for something like "exercise morbid obesity", in addition to the billion things that say that the only way to do anything about this is through bariatric surgery, there were only the standard suggestions about, get up and move. Well, yeah. But what if it hurts to move at all? What if getting up and standing up is difficult for any period of time? What are you supposed to do then? This is Michael's situation right now, with the combination of the high weight plus whatever the hell he pulled in his leg. He is so miserable and frustrated.

Anyway, I tried searching again yesterday, and got two good sorts of results. First, there were actually a few articles that talk about the real problems of this kind of weight... not being able to fit on gym equipment, not being able to move much at all... although the bottom line (and this is of course correct) is that at some point you really do have to move around some and do something, whatever it is, somehow. It's just a fine balance, that combination of trying to push through that pain barrier and yet not hurt yourself.

The other thing that I found was an excellent link from that is a full body seated workout. You can find it here. There are also some related links on workouts for seniors and so forth that are beginning, gentle exercise, though standing. We're going to give the seated workout a go today, I hope, so I'll report back. The hard thing is that you just want to be doing more and faster; gentle exercise seems wrong when you've spent your life doing not-gentle things. But it's a start. I hope anyway.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Experiment results + moaning about walking

For whatever it's worth (and, let's face it, one data point is not worth a lot), Michael's weight is down nearly 2 lbs. this morning, and my weight is down 2/3 lb. (though not, I might add, all the way back to my lowest weight this cycle. Ok, that's less than 1 lb. lower than this, but still, every bit has been so hard here that every new low counts a lot.). I walked this morning... in wind and light snow, I might add, although the gift yesterday was noticing that the snowdrops are up on my front lawn!

I'd just like to say that I hate walking. I know you're not supposed to say that; walking the is great all-purpose exercise, it's easy kind of, it's what we do all day... if you say you hate walking, you sound like some lazy wimp. But I'd rather do hard aerobics for the same period, or play racquetball, or lift weights... or pretty much anything other than this repetitive boring insufficiently engaging stuff. It doesn't even have the pain advantage of running or something like an elliptical walker... if it hurts a lot, I figure that I'm doing something good! And it lets my head spin. Not enough to think about, and so a half hour later I'm in a terrible mood and anxious as hell. Add that to the fact that Michael is resenting like hell the fact that he's stuck sitting in a chair while his leg heals, and I feel guilty, too... and it's all a recipe for a bad morning.

So, fine. Have another cup of tea. Stop sulking. Do something useful and be happy that you actually lost some weight today maybe.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blog 'til you drop. Or something.

Ok. This is not what I should be doing, partly because (1) I have work to do. Exams to grade. Study guide to write. Homework to write. All sort of other work-related crap to do. (2) The kitchen is not clean and neither is anything else in this house. (3) I'm obsessing again. But here I am. Mostly, I think, because I need to talk about this somewhere.

I just thought about this for a while this morning, and I really think that I just have to make something else happen, one way or another. Whether it's in ways that I want to do it or not. At some point, you have to put up or shut up. I'm not sure that exercise is the key, or that we're eating wrong now, or any other thing. But I have to try something else before Michael gets any more discouraged.

So today I'm trying two things. The first is food: I've eaten almost nothing but protein today, plus a little oil. Hamburgers (cold from yesterday) for breakfast, chicken breast with some dipping oil for lunch (plus half an orange pepper), boneless pork plus about 1/2 cup of brussels sprouts for dinner. And about 3/4 cup fruit and a spoonful of yogurt. Even with the fruit, that's low carb, and it's not that many calories, and the only thing is that maybe it's not enough fat. If I eat anything else today, just meat. Just for the hell of it. Just to see.

And I got up and went for a half hour walk. 27 minutes, more exactly. I did not want to do this, and all the reasons are stupid, but they're mine anyway. I hate walking, especially alone. My head just spins around, and I have too much time to think and worry and so on. It's not occupying enough. I need to work on walking meditation if I'm going to keep doing this. Anyway, I know it sounds like a small thing, but to me it wasn't, and the other thing is, it hurt. Yeah, I'm in worse shape than I really think.

We'll see what the scale says tomorrow.

Morning musings

So I'm sitting here this morning as Michael sleeps peacefully in the next room, waiting for the furniture guys to come pick up the loveseat that supposedly will be repaired under warranty. I am dubious, first of all about the possibilities of them actually showing up in the 8-10 a.m. "window" (especially since an hour of that has gone by), and about this piece of furniture actually returning to me in some condition that I'll be happy about. But we'll see.

Anyway, with nothing better to do, I've been sitting here read all the blogs of People Who Are Actually Losing Weight. Which would be pretty much everyone except me, I think. I mean, let's recap here. Since the beginning of January, I've lost about 15 lbs. That's an average of something like 1.5 lbs/week, which would almost be ok except that it was more like 10 lbs. and then nothing. The only thing that I really kind of consider something of a victory here is that I haven't seen a reading that's over 290 in a while, even with the daily up and downs. Michael has lost more like 30 lbs over the same period, which is better... and on the whole, he's been doing better since he started eating fruit again, even if he didn't lose anything last week.

So, what is wrong here? If I were losing 1-2 lbs a week, I wouldn't be complaining. But I'm not. And lately I've been a little tired again, too, not my racing-with-energy low-carb self. The only good thing is that I've been a little less crazy since I stopped obsessively charting. But since I'm eating about the same thing that I was eating before I started doing that, I can't see that there's some great leap here. The only real difference is that I've been eating a few more relatively carby vegetables, like a few carrots, and a little bit of berries... marginally more paleo, I guess.

The possibilities as I see it:
1. Exercise. The big one, unfortunately. I'm playing racquetball 2-3 times a week... probably not the most strenuous racquetball ever, but even lazy racquetball requires a lot of movement. But racquetball is essentially anerobic in the sense that it's all start-stop. Maybe that doesn't matter, but the fact of the matter is that this is all I'm getting for "daily" exercise. Most, though not all, of the people who seem to be losing weight are getting a lot more exercise than me. (On the other hand, there's that whole "exercise doesn't matter" school of thought.)

What to do about this one is a bit of a puzzle. Some percentage of this is an excuse for not doing things I don't want to do, too. I tried doing aerobics tapes again, and let's face it, I just hate tapes. I have never ever been able to make myself do these things for any period of time. I'd be perfectly happy to go to a class. I hate tapes. Unfortunately, there IS no convenient class any more, not that I know of anyway. I should look into this some more, I suppose. I could go back to the gym, and I definitely would if Michael would go, but this is something of a problem at the moment... he pulled something badly in his leg and wrenched his knee, and just moving around is hard. I don't know what to do about any of that. But I'm reluctant to just go by myself... in addition to the boredom factor, I hate leaving him here to contemplate the things that he can't do, essentially. We toy with buying a treadmill... or a treadmill and an elliptical walker... but the cost for one that would be suitable for him is staggering. If he could get below 425, that would change... but that's a little under 100 lbs. away. I'd gladly spend the money if it would work, but it is far more likely to be an expensive clothes rack.

All of the solutions about this seem less than optimal.

2. Too many carbs. So, ok, I'm not charting. BUT, what am I really eating? Usually eggs etc. for breakfast, sometimes some mushrooms or salsa. Lunch lately is salad maybe but more often just grabbing some meat. Dinner... meat of some kind and usually about a cup of vegetables. The occasional protein shake. And maybe 3/4 c. of berries in the evening and about 1/4 c. Greek yogurt. There's not a lot there, but any measure.

3. Too few carbs. I keep reading things where people say that they had to up their carb intake to lose weight. Now, my guess is that I'm really, on an average day, eating more like an induction level of carbs than anything higher. Maybe I need to be eating more carbs? This seems goofy but not inconceivable, especially with my level of fatigue lately. I don't know.

Ugh, I am really wearing out on this. I've gone over this ground so many times that I'm just worn down. You know the other choices. Wrong food mix... not enough fat, too much protein? Too many calories. Not enough calories. And so on. What is it really going to take to lose some real amount of weight?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yogurt and Low Carb

This is what I'm puzzling over today. The one thing that happened last week, food-wise, is that we started eating a lot more yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt (ummm. Fage full fat Greek yogurt. Highly recommended but probably all in all not a good idea). We'd been eating a few berries in the evening, with a small spoonful of Stonyfield Farms whole milk yogurt, but when we discovered the Fage, which Michael loves from childhood... well, ok, a spoonful of yogurt turned into a lot more yogurt than that. Plus some fruit and nuts and a little DaVinci caramel syrup for flavor. Absolutely delicious... but I'm pretty sure there's a catch.

So I decided to research again the issue about yogurt and low-carb. This is a good link, from Laura Dolson at The bottom line is the idea that the bacteria in yogurt eats the lactose, so the carb count is less than you'd think. And Fage (and other Greek-style yogurts) have the whey strained out (which makes that lovely consistency, and that takes out more of the lactose. So if Fage says 6 g. carbs for a 7 oz. serving... and is maybe less due to that bacteria munching down on the lactose... well, that's not bad at all, right?

However. I can't help but think that the yogurt is partially responsible for a lot of indigestion lately... and I think it's all part of the big dairy picture; the less the better. I can't quite give up the cream in my tea, but everything seems better when I minimize the rest of it. I'll report back on this.

And while I'm at it... a HUGE boo hiss to Stonyfield Farms for this article... way to totally miss the boat, guys. Another nutritionist who'd rather dismiss low carb diets rather than doing a little research and discovering that the right answer is, this food is fine on a low carb diet (if you skip the sweetened products, anyway).

Monday, March 17, 2008

This week's weight

I was thinking that I was going to have something good to report this week, because yesterday my weight was lower than this, but this morning, the scales say actually up 1.32 lbs. from last week. Michael's change = 0. I could be a lot more bothered about this than I actually am. His weight loss was good last week, and he's looking thinner... so, fine, see what the week brings.

The other interesting thing is body fat. We weigh ourselves on the Big Tanita, brought from the UK, which (irritatingly) measures in kilos, but a few weeks ago in a fit of no-weight-loss frustration, I hauled the Small Tanita, my old body fat scale downstairs. On that, 51% body fat three weeks ago. And two weeks ago. Yesterday, in a flash of belated brilliance, I noticed that there are a pile of other buttons on the Big Tanita... oh, well, it does body fat, too. Duh. I've only been using this scale for... years..... SIGH.

Anyway. Body fat scales are notoriously inaccurate, but I don't really care precisely what my body fat is, I care if it changes. And today, I measure 49% on the Small Tanita and 44% on the Big Tanita. So, by any measure, down 2% although one certainly has to consider it pretty lousy body fat overall. Michael measures 72.2%... this is good because we couldn't measure him on the Small Tanita.

So Small Tanita can go back upstairs for my son, and I'll have another number to obsess over.

We had another of those "what can we do to lose weight faster" excruciating conversations last night. I don't know the answer. I don't think that there is one single answer. I do know that I've been a little less crazy since I stopped charting food obsessively, although I know I'll have to go back to it sooner or later. And cheese. I really do think that cheese in any quantity screws up the works... we had a little provolone yesterday, on burgers, on chicken for dinner, and of course thus I nibbled on it too. Better not to eat it at all. Parmesan and other condiment cheeses are ok; but if I can eat it in a slice, I'll probably have too much of it.

Low-Carb Fish Chowder

We're all huge fish chowder fans here... hey, I'm a New England girl, and Michael's a Norwich boy, and seafood is what we grew up on. But a traditional New England style chowder is often heavy on the potatoes and flour. Here's my (evolving) solution... and it a vague sort of recipe, because this is the kind of thing that you can add anything you want to.

Sauté about
1 LB. BACON (preferably uncured, nitrate-free)
1 or 2 DICED RED ONIONS (could omit the onions, but you're going to have a lot of soup here...)
just a little OLIVE OIL (you only need a dab; the bacon will generate a lot of fat anyway).
CHICKEN STOCK (at least 2 quarts) I make my own, so it's a good chance to use up the freezer surplus. You could use less, but then use less other stuff below.
Then add
1 BAG FROZEN COD (yes, it would have been good to have checked the weights, but I forgot..)
Cook until soft. Then puree all of it with an immersion blender. You can also add a bit of a thickener like ThinNThin or Xanthan Gum... this will have a nice creaminess anyway, so you don't need to overdo it.
Then add whatever else you want for seafood.
I used
and unfortunately, I had a LOT of liquid, having overdone the chicken stock in a fit of freezer-cleaning enthusiasm, so I also added 1 BAG TILAPIA (these are 2 lb. bags.)
and then
It is very important to use heavy cream and not, say, milk, because, carb issues aside, at some point you will screw this up and boil it, and milk separates. Cream doesn't.
PEPPER (white if you're a purist)
SALT (a little)
And then cook until everything is done.

There are lots of other seasonings you could put in, and garlic and celery might have been nice choices, too. If you put half the bacon aside so that it doesn't get puréed, then you have chunks of bacon in the chowder, which is nice, too. You could also skip the puréeing, but it gives it a heartier consistency.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A little behind...

I've been a little behind here, busy with everything else in the world and little low, trying to imagine when spring is EVER going to come to upstate NY. But last week was a decent week... Michael was down about 6 lbs, and I was down a little under 2. I consider that just fine!

But that was Monday, and I've been edging up fractionally since then. Want to blame it on bloat or something... and truly, I haven't been drinking enough water, not regularly, but my real suspect is cheese. Not that I've been eating a lot of it, but in the last week, it's been back... a little cheddar the last few day, a few sliced cheeses trying out the new George Foreman grill. I have this feeling that I shouldn't be eating that at all... that something about cheese doesn't work well with everything else. Or maybe it's dairy in general, as we've been in the habit of having a little yogurt and berries at night lately. Either way, I feel fine, but the scale is moving in the wrong direction!

I haven't been keeping a food diary lately... trying to get away from my food obsession, food worry obsession, etc. This has been a lot more peaceful for me, although I think I'll probably have to go back to it at some point. Makes it hard to know if I'm screwing up the numbers somewhere. But still, not being quite so insanely worried is truly worth a lot.

In a moment of madness, I bought a couple of indoor grilling things... stupid, really, when it's almost the season for the far-better outdoor grill (if spring EVER shows up!). One is the new model of George Foreman... next Grilleration or something equally silly. Like all GF grills, it works well... but I have to say that this one takes up a serious amount of space relative to what you can grill on it. The selling point is that the plates come out so you can wash them more easily, and this is truly a HUGE plus. But I could barely fit 4 hamburger patties onto it, and while that's bigger than the old ones, as I recall, it's still not a lot of cooking area relative to the amount of space it takes up on my counter... which is considerable, and it's not the kind of thing that's easy to just take out and put away.

The real madness was that I also bought a Zojirushi indoor grill... what was I thinking, exactly? I think it was that this thing really does have more cooking surface and seems like it would be better for things like vegetables or seafood... but did I need this? I don't think so! But I love Zojirushi products; their rice cookers are the best around (although I sadly put mine away), and everything they make is great. So hopefully this will be good, too... I haven't actually tried it yet.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The week that was

Well, ok. For this week, I'm down 1.1 lbs; Michael's down 2.5, and while it's not stellar, it's the right direction. I can live with that. He's happier and has more energy and seems to be far more interested in making this work... possibly because he's actually feeling better. So this is all good. I know that this is kind of saying, ok, I got this thing, NOW I want some other thing, but what I want is another week like this... a whole week in which he feels better, and in which we end up with some weight loss.

It's going to be sort of a challenging food week for me, too, in that I have two dinner things that I need to go to. The first one is Applebees, and so that will be ok; there are plenty of low-carb options. The other is catered dinner for work, and that's going to be harder, at least in terms of actually getting to eat. So I think I have to plan to eat before I go to that one. I really don't want this all screwed up because I get hungry and think, oh, this dessert will be just fine.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cavemen don't eat Splenda.

Well, here's the latest update in the diet wars. This one is cautiously optimistic. I think that the key to Michael's fatigue is all about carbohydrates... not enough of them. I was so convinced that this couldn't really be the problem that the fact of the matter is that I didn't listen well about this. But I think it is. It takes him a LOT of energy just to move around. Protein and fat are not quick-access energy sources. Carbs are. I started reading a pile of the symptoms related to insulin resistance and low blood sugar and so on, plus some anecdotal stuff, and I think I put it all together, and to me, the big short-term answer is fruit. We can't go back to the bread and grain and so on for quick energy, for a thousand reasons, but he has to be able to get more quick energy to give the protein and slow carbs time to kick in.

So for the last few days, we've been eating a diet that I'd call more paleo. No grains, etc., minimal dairy (we both seem to tolerate minimal dairy well... and hey, if there had been a cow wandering on the steppes, you'd have milked it before you ate it, wouldn't you?), and he gets a little low glycemic fruit with every meal (berries and melon and the occasional apple, which is not so low-glycemic but better than tropical fruit). I'm eating very little of the fruit, but the payoff for me in this is that I'm not eating a lot of cheese, something that is easy for me to greatly overconsume.

And so far... my weight is actually a little lower. His weight is a little lower, too, but that's just today. His blood sugar readings are pretty ok. Mine (we've been testing me, too, just for the hell of it...) are a little weird, though, and I don't much want to think about that at the moment. And the plus... he's feeling BETTER. Not so fatigued. Not all the way to feeling great, but he's been more like himself the last few days than in ages.

This all seems hopeful.