Monthly Archives: September 2010

Pretzels, My Love, We Need to Break Up…..

The one food that I love more than anything else in the world is a pretzel.  Whether it is a soft pretzel eaten from a vendor on a busy city street, one at a sporting event, enjoyed covered with mustard and washed down with beer, or the Rold Gold pretzels at home in that beautiful yellow bag, I love ’em. L-O-V-E them. I also L-O-V-E the salt that covers them, adorning my pretzel so beautifully.

Also, a difficult concept for me to get behind is one of self-deprivation and that I must suffer in order to accomplish something good. (Note: Patrick often tells me that he blames his Catholic upbringing for his constant feeling that if he didn’t have to suffer for something, it isn’t worth having.  I, on the other hand, do not believe that.)  All of this is ultimately why I love the Weight Watchers program so much, because I can still enjoy my favorite foods, just in moderation. But enough about WW, this post is about my ongoing affair with pretzels.

Unfortunately,  these past few weeks have taught me that despite how far I have come on the WW program, in controlling what I eat and my portion sizes, I do not think that I have the ability to control myself when it comes to pretzels. Or actually, as the case may be, the salt that adorns the pretzels.

Each big, beautiful Rold Gold pretzel is 2 Weight Watcher’s points. That isn’t bad, especially when I need my pretzel fix. However, the Weight Watchers Points system has yet to calculate and determine the amount of points associated with me licking my finger, running it through the salt on the bottom of the pretzel bag and then eating that. Repeat about 5 times and that is me on any given day when my hand hits the pretzel bag. Add in that my body seems to adore retaining water when I even look at salt, and I’m sure that you can follow along nicely with my point — > pretzels, no matter how much I build them into my Points system, end up causing me to gain weight when it is time for weigh-in day.  I also get the unfortunate side effect of water weight being that I am bloated, which makes me crabby because I am uncomfortable and my clothes do not fit that well.

Well, the pretzel problem (“PP”), hit a head last week (when I initially started this post and then life got in the way of me finishing it) when I found that my engagement ring was a little bit tight on my finger. Not to the point where I couldn’t wear it, but definitely a little uncomfortable to get on and off. It wasn’t until I was sitting at work having a pretzel (perfect snack size, did I mention that?), and telling a friend about the ring issue, when she said “maybe it’s that pretzel you’re scarfing down.” WHAAAHHH? What you talking about Willis? Well, what she was talking about was 100 percent right — my salt consumption was off the charts (I’m like an alcoholic looking for my fix) and I was bloating up as a result of my affair with my beloved snack food. This, in turn, was affecting my hands too.

Enter:  The Cure.  I decided that to test this theory, I would go off pretzels for a week and see what happened — not too hard since I finished licking the salt out of the pretzel bag the night before and didn’t have more in the house, and they don’t sell my favorite kind at my local grocery store (I have to go a little farther for that).  I went off the pretzels, didn’t have any for a week, and sure enough, as the days wore on, I felt better, less bloating, and surprise, surprise, my ring was comfortable to get on and off again!

The Breakdown:  Last night, I ran into the grocery store for a few items on my way home from work. I was hungry, but stuck to my list UNTIL…..drumroll, please, I was in the frozen food aisle and the snack food aisle is on the other side, and shining down from that high shelf was the exact brand of pretzel that I ADORE — Rold Gold Sourdough with the white salt.

Before I knew what was happening, I threw a bag in my basket, was checking out and at home in my kitchen busting the bag open. Oh God, those pretzels were so fucking good, especially after a week of not having them and not having the salt. Intellectually, I knew that the pretzel incident would not turn out the way I wanted it to, no matter how many times I chanted “they’re just 2 points, they’re just 2 points.” Alas, I woke up this morning, got ready for work and went to put my jewelry on, and sure enough, the ring is a little tight again.

I’ve now recommenced my pretzel deprivation program and I am working on getting through it emotionally — a therapist may or may not be required, but I know I can prevail, so long as I don’t ever buy those pretzels again.  I had expected to be a little upset about the fact that pretzels and I are going to have to break up, and angry at myself for not being able to control myself to even enjoy my favorite snack food in moderation, but I guess that is the point of all addict-recovery programs — you can’t have even a little bit. Pretzels, you are my downfall, and we cannot see each other anymore.  My body will thank me, my sad Panda heart will not.

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Weekend Update

One of the most difficult times for me for me to watch my eating and make good food decisions has consistently been the weekend lunch, especially Saturdays.  Since rejoining Weight Watchers this past year, I’ve found that planning lunches during the work week is a breeze.  Dinner during the week is easy too; just look at the calendar, figure out the workout classes and where we are both going to be, and pick something to eat. The weekends? Another story altogether. And I couldn’t put my finger on just why lunch on the weekends was such a difficult time for me until this past Saturday.

Here in Chicago, this past Saturday brought chilly temperatures and rain for a good portion of the morning and afternoon.  It was the perfect day to sleep in with the pugs curled up, and laze about with a cup of coffee and my book.  Sure, I had errands to run, but I just wasn’t feeling it and so I decided to stay in my jammies, do laundry and chill out at home with the dogs, just puttering around the house until I had to be somewhere in the evening. I had a lovely omelet for breakfast, but by lunchtime was stymied as to what I should have for lunch.  I looked through the freezer and fridge and realized that I was out of lunch meat and didn’t have any remaining frozen Smart Ones meals either. And then it hit me like a TON OF BRICKS in the face (go ahead and enjoy that image for a minute)….weekend lunch has been difficult because I had not been planning for it.  Hello, epiphany!

The next question, of course, was why? Why was I not taking the time to plan for at least 2 meals on the weekend? I pondered this a bit while cooking some chicken and pasta for lunch, with remnants of the previous week’s dinners, and realized that during the past year, my weekend schedule had changed substantially from the previous 8 years, and I hadn’t adapted with it.  Specifically, and for those of you who know me I hate to bore you with the little details, I worked in a horrific job that required me to work pretty much every single Saturday, and Sundays from home. My usual routine on a Saturday would be to get up, grab some coffee (skipping breakfast, of course), shower, and head out the door to the office.  I would routinely stop at the Portillo’s drive-thru on my way to the office to pick up lunch, which I would then eat at my office, work through the afternoon and head home by early evening.  Thus, when grocery shopping, I never had to worry about what to eat for breakfast or lunch on Saturday.  Saturday evening was usually spent out with friends, including dinner, and Sunday morning was all about brunch. Yay! Yet more meals that I did not have to plan or worry about…..I’m sure you’re catching the drift here.

Well, let’s fast forward to 2010.  In December 2009, I finally left my shitty, awful job that had me working such ungodly hours and I now have weekends off.  Yes, an entire weekend, from Friday through Sunday!  I didn’t know what to do with myself, and at times I still find myself wondering if it is normal to have 2 whole days where I am not required to be billing hours, putting in face-time at the office and slaving away. The freedom and mental break from work is amazing, but I never really adapted my weekend schedule appropriately since the job change.  Obviously, I’m not running to the office every single Saturday, but I was not making the time to think consciously about my breakfasts and lunches either. When meal-planning, Patrick and I would sit down and discuss the work-week, and our plans for weekend dinners, but breakfast and lunch, unless we had brunch plans, never made the discussion.

These last couple of weeks, I’ve been especially conscious of the fact that I’m out running errands on Saturday without first having breakfast, which just leaves me in a situation where I’m hungry outside of the house, and my choices are limited. With such limited options, I usually end up making a bad decision, whether it is a bagel with cream cheese from Einstein or a Starbucks pastry. Neither is going to have the nutrition that I want for my breakfast, but both will likely have an unnecessary amount of calories fighting for space on my ass. (We won’t even touch on the fact that buying food out is a waste of money, too.) I continue running errands, fast forward, it is lunch and I’m still out and about, I’m hungry again, and I know I don’t have anything to eat at home. What is the answer? Why, stop and grab lunch of course. While I have been better about not eating at drive-thru’s, I have eaten out, which isn’t the best decision either.

This past weekend, however, I realized (see epiphany, above) that it was just plain time to plan my meals for the entire 7-day week, and not just the first 5 days. That is, if I want to continue with my weight loss, feel good about myself and stop wasting money eating out for no reason other than piss-poor planning.  It is sad that something so simply took so long to figure out, but as the French would say, c’est la vie. At least I figured it all out. So, we shall see how this epiphany, and the resulting commitment to planning for meals on the weekends plays out over the next few weeks.  But as my dad always says, if you make a plan and work the plan, that’s 99% of the battle.

The Good, The Bad & The Goals…sans Clint Eastwood

So, it has been a VERY busy last two weeks for me, from getting engaged (YAY!), to the holiday weekend, getting Patrick to and from the PAX convention in Seattle, and hitting up a family wedding and a multitude of other Labor Day happenings. It is hard to even know where to start, so let’s jump right in!

Last Wednesday, Patrick and I went to our local comic book store, Brainstorm Comics, to pick up our weekly comics and catch up on the happenings with Rob, Matt and Sean. When I was handed my stack of comics, there was one on top that didn’t look familiar and was a different size. As I looked closer, I saw the comic had a picture of me on the front — “WTF” was my immediate thought. So, I opened it, and read it, and I realized that Patrick had made it for me and it was a comic book proposal! Of course, I said yes, and we are now being inundated with questions of all types regarding the wedding, and some have even moved on to when we are having kids.  Um, let’s slow that train down a little bit people. Unfortunately, we were the only two people who thought we should get to enjoy being engaged for a week or so before the wedding fervor started!

Sadly, the day after Patrick proposed, he had to board a plane to head to Seattle for his first-ever PAX convention…with airfare courtesy of my parents’ frequent flier miles (thanks, mom and dad!).  Lucky for me, I’m pretty comfortable hanging out on my own.  I had an entire weekend of activities planned, including enjoying an entire bottle of wine while finishing a book during the thunderstorms we had here on Thursday night. Sometimes, it IS the little things.

Although, as this blog is largely about my weight loss attempts, etc., I should point out that Thursday night was pretty much where the being “good” and “sticking to the Plan” part of the weekend went south.  I got home from work and errands late and did not feel like cooking.  And, since it was just me at home, it didn’t seem worthwhile to do anything other than order takeout from, of all places, Leona’s. However, while it IS possible to order food from Leona’s that is Points friendly and would keep me on Plan, ordering from Leona’s while starving is NEVER a good idea….chicken and pasta and cheesy garlic bread later, I was happy as a clam and stuffed like a hog headed for slaughter. I honestly was not too worried about it and was not going to feel guilty about it either, because I was hungry, I enjoyed what I had a taste for and I didn’t eat all the garlic bread by myself:) Course, I didn’t write down what I ate either, or the Points associated with the bottle of wine that I drank, but such is life. I feel like it is remarkable progress that I did not, and do not, feel guilty about taking some time off the WW wagon.

On to the “good” as it relates to food — on Saturday, I was going to a wedding for Patrick’s cousin, and had actually planned for what our meeting leader Maggie calls a “planned diversion,” where I know that I am going to go over on my Points. I mean, it IS a wedding and there IS going to be cake there, so it would be rude not to eat the cake, right?  Except for, wait for it, they did NOT serve cake. Or any type of pastry dessert.  Yes, that’s right, you read correctly–no cake, no pies, no cupcakes, NADA. What we DID get instead was a single scoop of vanilla ice cream with generic toppings from Costco so we could make our own ice cream sundaes.  Lesson #1 in wedding planning: do not gip people out of their cake.  There was practically an insurrection led by Patrick’s grandmother. The WW bonus of the lack of cake was that I didn’t end up using the remainder of my weekly points allowance on dessert. Yay!

All of this, however, leads me to reassessing my goals. I had been posting weekly goals for a while, and many of them have become habit at this point, which is A-W-E-S-O-M-E! However, I realized that on top of the small weekly goals, I need some hard-core motivation too. Something that will make me want to get up and go outside for a walk (or even, God forbid, a run), especially as the weather gets colder outside. So now, I have decided to attach some “incentives” to my weight loss.  Drumroll, please…..

1.  When I lose 30 pounds (total from my starting weight), I get to treat myself to a new tattoo.  I have been wanting a tattoo for a while now, but had not yet taken the plunge to go and get it done. Now, I know that in order to get the tattoo, I have to get off the couch and get moving.

2.  When I hit the 50 pound mark, I am going to treat myself to a new purse.  OMG, I love purses, and I got the new Coach catalog that has some really gorgeous pieces in it. This alone is motivation to make me want to run in place at my desk while at work.

3.  When I hit the 100 pound mark, I am going to treat myself to the new digital, SLR camera that I wanted to get. I’ve developed an interest in photography and would like to upgrade the quality of my camera. Now, for every pound I lose, I am going to be one step closer to getting that camera and taking all the amazing, high-resolution pictures that I want.

Now, off to enjoy a walk, with jogging intervals mixed in, as I work toward goal number 1, a smokin’ hot new tattoo!