Why? Because New York is the greatest place to eat! It is the home of many of the world’s greatest steak houses. My favorite is Peter Luger’s (which is in Brooklyn – my birth place); it just doesn’t get any better than that! Recently I had a chat with someone who shared with me they were on a diet. A week later I saw them again and I asked how it was going. The response was “well, I was in New York last weekend, and it’s so hard to stay on a diet there.” I smiled, and refrained from sharing my opinion. The reality is New York has more eating choices than any place I know. There are fresh fruit vendors on every corner! Whether you want to spend a little or a lot, New York has it all. And most of it is available 24 hours a day. A steakhouse will always be my number one pick. Why? They serve protein, in a variety of ways. Sure they have sauces available, but most steakhouses will gladly make it plain. Side dishes? They have plenty of fresh vegetables – asparagus, broccoli, and great salads. I’m a fan of a chopped salad with crab meat and a lot of onions! Most U.S. cities have wonderful choices. There is only one town I must stay away from – New Orleans. About ten years ago I went to the Big Easy for a second time. I knew I’d be in a city that had some of the most amazing restaurants in the world. I made a decision that I would eat whatever I chose for the four days I would be there. I went to Cafe du monde every day for fried beignets covered with powdered sugar. I dined at Commander’s Palace, Paul Prudhomme’s, and I ate pralines all day long! – nothing was off limits. I remember reading at the time that the maximum weight gain that is possible (with all the stops out) would be one pound per day. Hmm – four days, four pounds! I figured I could live with that. Guess what? What I had read didn’t apply to me. I gained eight pounds in four days. So, I do LOVE NEW YORK. Sorry New Orleans – it’s way too easy to get BIG in the BIG EASY!
Dear Readers, Below is a letter I wrote to my son.
Dear Son, These words must be written – so that there is clarity to what I am trying to say. When I was growing up – I constantly heard two things – that were really painful to me. One concerned my Dad, and one concerned my Mom. With my Mom – it was “If she doesn’t quit smoking – she’s going to die – why don’t you get her to quit smoking?” With my Dad – it was “He’s so fat – he’s going to have a stroke – why don’t you get him to lose weight?” Was it my job to do this? With my Dad – I remember sitting in his car – and crying to him – about the grandchildren he would have – and never know. As you know – he died of a stroke the week I became pregnant with you. With my Mom – I decided not to speak to her any more. I once had a close relationship with her and I was actually closer with her than I was with my Dad. I figured that if I didn’t speak to her – I would get used to not speaking to her, and so if she died, life would not be too different. After a year – she actually did quit smoking. Not because of me – but because she could no longer breath. It was too late. And what had I gained by not speaking to her? I gained nothing – I had one less year of life with my mother. And now my son – it is you I fear losing. I am helpless, and I am hurting. I don’t want to live one moment without you. I’ve avoided your phone calls the past few days – trying to adjust to life without you. The fact is, I wouldn’t want to live without you. Your health is your issue – but your life is my heart. Please stop breaking my heart. I beg you to embrace your health. As you can see in the above photo, he heard me. He saved his life, and fixed my broken heart.
Okay Godfather fans – it’s only half the very famous quote. I really don’t want the gun or the cannoli. Just in case you don’t know what a cannoli is, I offer this description: “Cannoli are a traditional Sicilian dessert made of fried pastry dough that is rolled into tubes and filled with a sweet, creamy filling.” Simply put, they are amazing. Someone brought a box of them into my office today. To make matters worse, they came from this great Philadelphia Italian bakery – with a very recognizable blue and white box. Now, I can think of many reasons to eat these. I can only think of a few reasons to abstain. Every so often I play the “if I only could choose five foods to eat” game. Certainly the cannoli is on that list. Also on that list is: raw cookie dough, fresh baked bread, french fries and noodle pudding. And why am I abstaining? It’s been a very long time since I have eaten a cannoli, and the body has this wonderful way of feeling lousy when you suddenly eat something you are not used to. So, a cannoli in the middle of my work day, is really a recipe for disaster. A better choice would be eating a cannoli while relaxing at home, with a bathroom nearby, and no where to go for a day, until I recovered from the sugar rush. An even better choice – don’t take the cannoli, leave the gun – eat a mango!
In my past life I was the Queen of the frozen dinners. I pride myself in organization, and my freezer looked like a display case for frozen foods. I would organize everything by brand. As I started to embrace healthy eating, I found little use for this massive freezer. It is a built-in unit, and so giving it away was not a possibility. One day I had a crazy idea – Can you turn a freezer into a refrigerator? The answer is – YES YOU CAN! It is very simple to do. All you need to do is buy a new temperature control thermostat that is meant for refrigerators. The part costs less than $200. I popped it in, and I had a new refrigerator. You would think something so simple would be widely known! I guess the major appliance company’s don’t want you to know this – for obvious reasons. If I choose to turn it back into a freezer, I just need to put the original thermostat back in place. It’s great to have such a huge refrigerator!
For a while on and off, I attended weekly diet meetings where the popular way to keep track of your eating was “points”. A very interesting concept. For me, a bad approach. You see I was told how many “points” to eat in a day. Every food had a point value. If you didn’t use your points, then you could “bank” them. If I was going out for Italian food, I would not eat all day, and then feast on a huge portion of pasta, all while staying in my allotted points for the day. Sometimes I would use banked points from previous days. My day could be: coffee until 4pm, and at 6pm a big bowl of pasta, and maybe a gooey desert. Trouble was I was consuming food that was not going to sustain me. Where was the protein? So, when I learned to embrace my health and eat right, I decided that each meal stands on it’s own. If I miss a meal I do not have the right to make it up later in the day. Which leads me to tonight. I am going to a brazilian buffet steakhouse. The gaucho’s will serve the meat and fish and poultry. There will be a buffet menu with many, many choices – some good, some not so good. I will be tempted. They have polenta – which I love. I will avoid it. There will be great bread, great butter and spreads. My strategy is to not go to the salad bar, and ask for meat right away. When I have finished the protein, I’ll review the carb table – and have a fighting chance to make the right choices.
Ah, a well stocked cupard! Hmmm? I have learned to accept the fact that 100% of any edible item in my home – calls my name. In the supermarket, as well as every food cart I walk by seems to know me, and send signals my way. I don’t know what willpower is – I know I don’t have it. Simply put, IF I SEE (or smell) FOOD, I WILL WANT TO EAT IT! Just yesterday, I walk by Dylan’s Candy Store – a perfect place that seems to look like a candy store Willy Wonka would have opened! I looked in the window, and it started. I felt that annoying magnet drawing me in and my brain starting to think about what Dylan’s would have that would be healthy to eat. I didn’t go in. BUT it was a struggle. Some struggles are avoidable. I don’t need to walk by Dylan’s. A life long issue for me was the house I live in. I’m not one to put away food and forget about it. I have an uncanny memory when it comes to things to eat. Case in point, at Halloween, I would have to buy the candy the day of Halloween so I would not eat it all before October 31st, and then just buy more to give out. I am part of a family, and the food in the house needed to satisfy me, and my family. I also like to entertain – many times on short notice. I had to figure out how to provide food for my family, and be ready to entertain…all with healthy foods. Or if not – continue my struggle with food. I am very happy to say, I have figured it out. It has made my life so much easier. I was always a snack-er. I would love to go into my pantry and munch on everything. I would not do this in front of anyone. It wasn’t secret eating – it was just a private moment between me and what I could eat. Cravings are a powerful feeling, and when I see it, I want it – and I am not happy when I don’t have it. Weirder combo’s I have created – honey and sesame seeds. Honey would call my name. I rationalized keeping it in the house to sooth sore throats. The reality was – I would eat it – in the pantry, with sesame seeds – all the time. I had to dump the honey, and everything else that was calling my name. The result is the family is healthier than ever.
As you already know – I love food. I also enjoy a cocktail. It doesn”t have to be the great spoiler of healthy eating. Many liquors are very low carb, or carb free. In fact, those wonderful flavored vodka’s do not add sugar to make all those crazy wild tastes. I really don’t know how they do it! The flavors are amazing. Every thing from whipped cream to bacon! Bacon flavored vodka works great in a bloody mary. My favorite is whipped cream flavored vodka, mixed with SoBe sugar free pear flavored vitamin water. I also add 3 packets of stevia to sweeten it. When I am out with friends, I order vodka on the rocks – with muddled mint and lime. I then add stevia to sweeten it. It’s my version of a Mojito. without all the added sugar. Enjoy!
How many times have you said to yourself “I’ll eat healthier after the Holidays!” I certainly told myself that for years! Trouble is – for some reason or another, almost everyday is some type of Holiday. I needed to learn how to enjoy the Holidays, the special days, the every days of life. Today was one of those days. My dinner was out of my control. For me, lack of control is a potential recipe for disaster! I was having dinner with a client, and the client booked the dinner reservation. I did not know the name of the restaurant, and I could not check out the menu online to plan my meal. I knew it was an italian cuisine. I drove two hours to meet for dinner. Arriving early, I went out to eat BEFORE I met the client. Why? While I had the chance to control my food, and fill up on healthy choices – I needed to take advantage of the situation. So, I had a wonderful shrimp cocktail. An hour later while dining with my client I was able to avoid the bread and butter that was put right in front of me. Ideally – choose the restaurant, ask the wait staff to remove the bread. However, when it is one of those “Holidays” – where you can’t control the situation, EAT BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN TO DINNER!
I know there are people that love to exercise – I am not one of them. I promise you – I will never be one of them. When I was M.O. (medically classified as having a body mass index of “morbidly obese”), I would not have set foot in a gym. The duel concept of restricted food intake and adding exercise to my life was a punishment that I could not inflict upon myself. Sure there were many unsuccessful attempts – but ultimately I would fail each time. For me, it was a set up for disaster. Of my 100lb+ weight loss – I did not start to work out until I had lost the first 25 pounds. At that point, I starting running a mile a day – everyday. Some days it’s a run, some days it’s a very slow run. But I’m consistent in my routine. Many people have told me to increase it – keep climbing to higher levels. I won’t do it. Why? Because I have a real aversion to doing things I don’t enjoy. I’ve convinced myself that one mile is tolerable. In my mind I think of it as part of a daily “tax” I have to pay to myself. Tax – defined as a nasty surcharge imposed to achieve something. Why would I raise taxes on myself? The results of running one mile each day ? – maintaining my weight loss over 8 years. It takes me between 11 minutes and 25 minutes a day. I owe it to myself, and I “pay” it to myself.
Think about the concept of eating when you are not hungry. It’s not crazy! In fact – it’s key in controlling your food intake. Take a look around you and what do you see?-company’s advertising take this pill, or powder or potion and you won’t be hungry. And then what? Skip a meal or two? When you finally do eat – you are probably pretty hungry and that is the worst time to eat. Why? When you are hungry you are most likely lack the control it takes to make the right choices. At this moment it is 6:10am, and I am not hungry. But, it is time for breakfast and I have the discipline to make the right choices – because I am in control. I assure you, if I wait until I am hungry to have my first meal of the day – probably around 3pm this afternoon – I will make all the wrong choices. My brain will tell me I am starving, and then the games begin. I have lived a lifetime that way. A bad idea – “I’m hungry, let’s eat!” A better idea – “I’m not hungry, let’s eat!”