Instagram Worthy Food and Dieting

I’d like to make all my meals “Instagram worthy” but like most people, I have a life. Sometimes life gets in the way and I don’t have time, patience or energy to be “Little Suzie Homemaker” with the perfect meal and look, I learned how to fold my napkin to look like a swan! Sometimes eating is just an annoyance and something you have to do, like taxes or listening to your neighbors talking about their trip to Barbados. Don’t worry about how pretty your food is but rather, think about what it is…Sustenance.

This goes doubly true for anybody who has made dietary changes in their lives. After about six weeks most people with a life are pretty much tapped on what to eat to keep their diet exciting and visually appealing. I’m no different and if I’m being honest I was tapping out after my second week having topped arugula or mixed greens with everything but cat hair and doughnuts. After a long day of dodging work and lying about the work I haven’t done to my boss, the last thing I want to do is think about dinner. I mean I didn’t think at work, why should I have to think in the privacy of my own home?

Armed with this brand of non-thinking and needing to make dinner, I’m oftentimes inspired to make it quick and painless. These nights are decidedly not meant for Instagram, as I’m sure nobody is scouring the internet looking for undercooked asparagus and overcooked haddock. That said it works in accomplishing the goal of getting sustenance. This frees my brain to go about important tasks like keeping me breathing and helping me picture the woman in 3B topless.

What I’m saying is this; not all of your meals have to be home runs served with a side of sexy, just think of it as function over form. When you have the energy, time and inspiration to make something fun for dinner you should run with it.  Feel free to break out the bird’s beak paring knife to get your tourne on and, when was the last time you used that mandoline?!  Use these moments to carry you through the drudgery of sliced chicken breast with green beans…again.

Even my pretty dishes turn mediocre as tomorrow’s lunch. They are cooked to a near perfect temperature then at lunch you give them three minutes of radar love with the end result the texture of silly putty.  My less pretty dishes are usually eaten alone and in shame but really… I’m just satisfying my appetite, nothing more. I think part of the reason I had/have a weight problem is because I made more out of food than it really was. Now I look at food as something I have to do and at times I can have some fun with…I only wish the same could be said for the woman in 3B. 

Week 10: Total lost is 51 pounds. (23.13kg or a Fiat…pretty sure any model)

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Sure… this is exactly how I eat every night… don’t you!? This is what I consider a success… and a pretty little plate of food.

 

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This is a typical night, slightly overcooked green beans and Haddock that had seen better days and toasted pine nuts… But you know what?! I liked it anyway.

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Triggers and Dieting

After wrestling the remote from The Cat who was eighteen hours into a “Cops” marathon, I was sitting on the couch reviewing whether the day was a success or failure with regard to health. I had done all the things I was supposed to do like work out, went for a great hike, ate well all day with only dinner left to go and then it happened…I looked up to see a commercial for Marie Callender chicken pot pies… mmmmmmm… They triggered a positive emotional response that made me want one…ok two.

When I was cooking professionally I’d work grueling hours and at the end of the day the last thing I wanted to do was decide what to cook. My routine consisted of shoving a couple pot pies in the oven and showering. After falling on the couch and pouring three or four Jameson Jumbos into my face it was time to eat. Normal people would probably consider eating a store bought pot pie straight forward but not me, I had a routine. I liked to flip them onto a plate and then mash them up so I got the little burnt edges mixed throughout and then ate it from the outside of the plate inward.

I ate them so often that after placing them on the checkout conveyor one day I heard, “Oh sweetheart, you need a woman to cook for you.” Huh?! I looked up to see the sweet old cashier woman that I always saw with a hurt puppy look on her face telling me my regular dinner fare was crap and I obviously didn’t know how to cook. From then on I used the self-checkout to hide my shame, I mean I was a professional cook for the love of bingo, I’m busy, tired and don’t have time at night to cook yet another meal. In my mind I was angered by the comment and justifying why I needed these little boxes of deliciousness.

But these golden pockets of love were my friends right?! They were a source of comfort, a childhood memory and an easy meal. But they were also something else, they were something I used to try to fill an emotional void with…a void that contained lost love, loss, hurt feelings, pain, conflict, a shitty station in life, depression and personal angst. In retrospect, calling pot pies a friend was akin to calling a pet lion a friend then waking to find he ate both your legs and you’re just thankful because he didn’t kill you.

Then yesterday it all just kinda hit me, I saw a family with a cart loaded with frozen processed food and not a fresh vegetable in sight. The tragedy of it all was that everyone in that family was dangerously overweight. As they were walking by I couldn’t help but notice they had pot pies, and for the first time in my life…they made me angry. They represented my unhealthy past and all those things in that emotional void I never could fill. Now I realize they weren’t just pot pies, they and every other frozen processed craptastic thing were triggers for self-destructive behavior and from now on they will only serve to remind me of all the harm I did to myself. Do you have food triggers? If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go put my pet lion on e-bay …then go for a hike.

Workweek Eating While Dieting

Meals can be a challenge when you are trying to lead a healthy life and still be a productive member of society during the workweek. I’ve been told by a certified nutritionist that five to six smaller meals a day with an emphasis on breakfast are optimum for kicking your metabolism into gear. I’ve never been a grazer, but this nutritionist gets paid very well to know a lot about healthy eating and I get paid very poorly to know how to be an unsuccessful writer and what time the liquor store closes…so I took her words to heart.  

Breakfast is usually pretty simple and consists of a couple pieces of fruit. Eventually I’ll add things like granola or yogurt when I’m closer to my goal but for now I’m keeping it simple. Breakfast used to be a hangover, two cups of coffee, three aspirin and avoiding human contact. I like the new breakfast routine much better, with the ancillary benefit of people not mistaking my eyes for two tomatoes floating in bowls of buttermilk.

Pre lunch I try and carry things like hard boiled eggs, cut fresh vegetables, a slice of cheese or some unsalted nuts. By now I’m feeling a bit hungry so this is a welcomed snack. This used to be an opportunity to grab a bag of chips, candy bar and a soda to get through the rigors of sitting in a car seat and talking on a phone.

Lunch, my urge to swing into a fast food joint used to be stronger than the urge for Wildebeests to migrate through alligator infested rivers in Africa. When I absolutely have to do fast food I get the garden salad (I stay away from the meat and cheese) as almost everybody offers them now. I’m careful with the dressing and carry a bottle of hot sauce and mix half the dressing (usually ranch) with an equal amount of hot sauce. The added spice level makes the salad satisfying. Remember the idea isn’t to become full from lunch but rather, to satisfy the appetite.

Pre dinner is a snap and I go back to fruit or nuts as they’re quick and easy to keep around. I used to not eat during this time of day because I was still stuffed from lunch. Instead I would use this time thoughtfully to decide which gut-bomb casserole I’d make for dinner and ponder the wonders of elastic waistbands.

Dinner I try and multitask; I make just enough food so there’s barely enough for lunch the next day which keeps me from hitting the aforementioned fast food restaurant. I’ll also cook up hardboiled eggs, extra meats for salads or cut fruit for fruit salad. I try to get all my kitchen stuff done at the same time so the only excuse to go in there is for water or making sure The Cat hasn’t gotten into my whiskey again. With a little bit of prep work and planning, eating healthy during the workweek is fairly simple…and it beats making excuses as to why my ass is the size of a Buick. 

 

Week 9: Lost 47 lbs (For my European friends that’s 21.3 kg or a small boy with a bad haircut)

 

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Yup, five o’clock shadow and goatee… but at least I was having a good hair day.

Friends, Advice and Dieting

I’m typically a good listener, especially if the conversation centers on illicit sex acts between two married adults who don’t happen to be married to each other, or where to buy cheap booze. Then I started dropping some weight and now the conversation seems to be centered on me, and how I could be doing better or eating this or that. I love my friends and family I really do, but when it comes to eating and exercising nobody knows me better than me.

Losing weight and staying on the healthy path is hard enough without hearing the do’s and don’ts from amateur dieters. I tell people I’ve cut out nearly all carbs except fruits and legumes and they get a look of horror on their face and I get: “I couldn’t live without pizza or pasta, you shouldn’t do that because I did and I ended up binging!” First off, I didn’t say I was never going to eat those types of foods ever again, I said I’ve cut them out as in, for now. Just because you can’t live without something doesn’t mean I can’t either. If I need to have a slice of pizza that bad I need a twelve step program, not a slice of extra cheese extra pepperoni.

“You need chia seeds!” Everybody’s got an angle on what I need to be eating. I’m up for trying most foods but I’m a simple man. I have nothing on my walls except for a couple Ansel Adam prints I was given by a kindly woman friend, because she thought it made the place seem “less serial killer like.” I’m not looking to complicate my kitchen. Most nights it’s a simple protein and some vegetables that I can easily attain without the help of Google and a copy of “Getting Food Through Customs For Dummies”. Right now I’m keeping it simple, because it works for me.

I appreciate people trying to help, especially if they have a record of keeping weight off and/or leading a healthy lifestyle. What I find difficult are the people telling me how to be healthy, while wielding a bucket of KFC and unable to tie their shoes without getting winded. Know Thyself… If you’ve set parameters stick to them and ignore the masses. It’s good to be open to new ideas and advice, but you’re the one doing the hard work and sacrificing. It’s your life, it’s your body, and you know what will work for you and what won’t. Keep pushing, you’re doing great.

Week 8: Down 44 pounds after starting the week with a 3 day plateau… (Europeeps, 44 lbs is equal to 88 containers of kip sate salade with a side of friet & Mayo, I capitalized Mayo especially for my Dutch friends who put mayo up there with oxygen on the list of most important things to have. )

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Breakfast for me…. even though I have a friend I adore who insists I eat oats…more specifically, her special oat recipe. 😉 It’s all good M… I’ll be fine until lunch.

Plateaus in Weightloss

What happens when you step on a scale three days in a row and you’re going nowhere?! Nothing. What do you “do?”… Everything, just differently. I think when you’re doing all the right things like eating well and exercising you have certain expectations that the end result will be weight loss every day. Just as you have expectations when you buy a lottery ticket you’ll be telling your boss to piss up a rope. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen. I’m just glad my boss is an understanding guy and next time I’ll check the ticket first.

When it comes to weight loss your body has a fun way of pitching curve balls, and it’ll make you want to swing your bat at the bathroom scale. I think it’s only natural to become frustrated and angry as you denied yourself that bite of a bacon slaw dog your bastard workmate offered, and you were tied to the treadmill like a monkey to a crack dispenser. I try to look at these plateaus as an opportunity.

I didn’t lose anything, so what?! There are any number of reasons why this happened but that’s not for you to figure out. You just keep treating your body right and it’ll eventually respond in kind. I use it as a motivational tool to do something different in my workout routine, and eat differently. I have a friend Madelyn who will be proud to know I took a day and ate vegetarian. I haven’t been a vegetarian for a day since my mother fed me strained peas and sweet potato in a high chair.

Your body finds ways to regulate things when done over time and it’s up to you to keep your body guessing. You have to change things up by adding something new or taking something away in your workout routine.  When it comes to dietary changes it’s a good idea for me to keep changing things. Lack of change leads to boredom and ultimately it can lead to poor decisions. When I get bored I’m that kid in the sandbox who leaves his Tonka truck in lieu of a cat turd.

When should you switch things to affect change in a plateau? Well I can’t tell you when, but I know when it’s time for me. I know when I didn’t do enough in my workout. I know when my diet or portions were poor. You can’t fool yourself and If you can you’re a fool. Working for a healthier you is not a fool’s errand. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and self-control. If you’re thinking you can trick lie or connive yourself into better shape, you my friend may as well get in the sandbox and play with that cat turd. 

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I was that bastard workmate and this would have been a typical meal for me. These are natural casing Essem hot dogs with spicy Asian slaw and applewood smoked thick cut bacon on split top New England style rolls because the store was out of Martin’s Potato Rolls…Aaaaamen. Now put down the candy bar and do some crunches.