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The Misadventures of Mrs. B

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2009-12-27

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Weight Loss Journal, Day 1

I know I said I would post yesterday, but yesterday wound up being a very different day than the one I had planned.  I guess that's a lesson along with everything else - sometimes you can't plan.  You never know what the next day will bring.  My mom reminded me of that and it's definitely something worth keeping in mind. 

So this will be the first post in my weight loss journal.  I figure I won't post my weight until I know it has settled down - in other words, until I'm no longer eating leftovers from New Years in an effort to save money and not waste food.  The middle of this coming week sounds good - heck, maybe I'll call it "Wednesday Weigh-In".

What I can do is get some thoughts off my chest about my weight and my struggles thusfar.  I don't expect it to be easy, laying it all out on the table like this for everyone to see.  Up to this point I have done my best to get my thoughts out in a place no one can see them but me.  Because of that I know the benefit of putting things down on paper, either real or virtual.  But here, in this public forum...maybe I can help someone else, too.  So here we go...

First, I am a compulsive eater.  I should get that out of the way right off the bat.  I eat for many reasons other than hunger.  Now, I know many if not most people do this - eating in celebration, out of boredom, sadness, loneliness, even women who eat more at a certain time of the month because that's what they crave.  Whatever.  So in that respect, I know I'm not unlike others and I'm not trying to punish myself for it. 

Where I diverge from that is that once I get started it is very difficult for me to stop.  Oftentimes I do this in secret.  I try not to eat a lot in front of others but I cram as much food as I can into my mouth when I'm alone.  There are days when I will simply graze all day long.  There are days when I will eat breakfast at home and then again when I get to work, or eat the lunch I packed and then go get something else to eat as well.  And I'm not talking snacks here, people.  I thought I had broken myself of that last action but evidently these things come back when you're not being diligent - I started that again right before I left work for the holidays.  (Wow, it's really scary, admitting to this!) 

Why do I do it? Probably out of boredom and a sense of being unfulfilled in what I do - food makes the workday more interesting, it comforts me, and the act of eating brings me purpose.  Anyway, that's over now and I'm letting go of it.

How to let go of this compulsive eating though? Well, there were a couple of books I read a few months back that started me on what I know was a positive path.  Both were by Geneen Roth and both spoke about compulsive eating and how to move beyond it.  I highly recommend Geneen Roth's books to anyone working through the same issues I'm starting to work on. 

Everything was going well and then my father-in-law had a stroke mid-November and stress eating reared its ungly head once again.  I know it's not an excuse but that's just the way it happened.  I used the situation as an opportunity to fall back into all of the habits I'd been working on breaking.  Now I weigh more than I did when I went to see the doctor in October (and I'm seeing him again in three weeks - wonderful!).  I back to where I started.  What to do?

Well, I'm definitely going to revisit Geneen's books (both are short and easy for me to go through quickly, if only to refresh myself) and I plan to do the work she suggests in them right here in terms of journaling.  It won't be pretty but then again, what about this process is pretty?

Don't ask me when I started with compulsive eating because I couldn't name a specific situation or moment when it began.  It wasn't an overnight thing.  Like most thoughtless actions, it grew over time.  I became very talented at switching my brain off when it came time to eat.  And that's the best parallel I can draw.  It's like turning off the phone so you won't be disturbed - same thing here.  My brain knows better but I choose to not listen so as to be able to enjoy my food.

Thing is - I don't enjoy it! How can you truly be said to enjoy something that you don't take the time to enjoy? And after a while, when you're getting full and still eating, it's not as if the food is being tasted anymore either.  There is no enjoyment, only the act of eating.  There's also the intoxicating anticipation of eating, which I know also plays a huge part.  On bad days (or even some good days) I will spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about what I'm going to eat later, how it will be prepared, and how much I'm going to love it.  And always, when it comes down to the act of eating, nothing is ever as good as it is in my head.  So what do I do? I eat more to compensate.  And more.  And more.  Until there's nothing left and I feel sick.  Until I'm so full it's impossible for me to get a good night's sleep. 

I spend my days feeling sleepy, sluggish, slow and unhappy with myself.  As much as I can't stand women who obsess over every last bite of food and who make a big deal out of splitting a treat with someone so everyone around them knows they would never eat the entire treat themselves, I compare myself to them on a constant basis.  Without even thinking about it.  I see me and I see them and I always come up short.  I punish myself mentally even as I put more food into my mouth, and then justify it by telling myself that at least I enjoy my food and am not afraid to do so.  But I don't really enjoy it, do I?

What it's all about is setting a goal and then asking yourself if your actions are in line with that goal, even if it's on a minute-to-minute basis.  I want to be healthy, and is that donut going to help me get to that goal? Well, one donut wouldn't hurt, but in my case I know that one donut and the sugar therein will start a chain reaction and I'll do nothing but crave more and more.  So no donut.  I want to be healthy, and is skipping my walk or workout and choosing to sit at my desk during my lunch break going to help me? No. 

The key is choosing that which will bring me closer to my goals more often than I choose that which will not.  CHOICE, not acting from reflex or long-standing habits.  CHOICE, not shutting off my brain so I can't hear my conscious self crying out to be heard.  CHOICE.  And if I choose to take a misstep, at least I can claim that choice as my own.  There is a choice here, and I've not been giving myself that choice.  Well, that's over now because I say so.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Resolve

New Year's Eve morning.  I wish there was a way for me to show you how gorgeous it is outside right now.  I tried taking a couple of pictures but they can't capture the beauty of the snow (in fact the falling flakes don't even register on the camera, which is really weird and frustrating).  What makes it even more beautiful is knowing that we're only getting about an inch! So it can be enjoyed worry-free.  It is just so perfectly beautiful, the frosting on bare branches, everything looking kind of hazy and gray in the early-morning light.  And it's so peaceful.  I am truly grateful for moments like this.

I always think "resolutions" at this time of year - who doesn't? I like this time of year because it holds hope.  Hope for "better".  A better body, better health, better relationships, better whatever.  There is hope for the coming year.  For me it's an energizing feeling, I feel like I'm in control.  Where that control goes over the course of the year I just can't begin to tell you...

Here are some resolutions I'm making for the coming year:

1. Keeping up this blog

It's all fine and good and easy to type up any random thought that floats through my head when I'm on vacation.  It's another to make a concerted effort to post regularly when I'm spending 12 hour days away from home.  But now that I have my netbook it should be easier, seeing as how 2 1/2 of those hours are spent on a train every day.  Rather than reading or playing a game on my iphone, I can be doing this.

2. Starting a weight loss blog

I plan to make my first weight loss post tomorrow.  It's gonna be brutal.  It's gonna be real.  I actually plan to tell everyone my true weight BEFORE losing anything.  See, it's all fine and good to tell people what you weighed prior to losing a great deal of weight.  Then they can 'oooh' and 'aaah' over your achievement.  It's another thing to say "This is what has happened to me, this is what I allowed to happen, and here's where I stand prior to my weight loss journey.  Judge as you will".  Do I want you to judge me? Well, no.  But you can't be harsher to me than I am to myself.  So little matter.

3. Accept life as it comes, one day at a time

I think I'm getting better with this one.  Lord knows I've had practice with it over the past weeks.  But I'm going to need to get a lot better at it in the coming year, I can tell.  When you start thinking of the future and all the work that's going to go into something, it becomes overwhelming.  Prior to the situation with Rob's dad, 'one day at a time' was always just a concept for me.  I would tell myself to take my weight loss attempts one day at a time - clearly, it never worked.  Now, though, when faced with a truly overwhelming situation it becomes clear to me what I need to do.  Thinking months into the future, facing 'what if's', only serves to bring me to the brink of hyperventilation.  It's not worth it.  One day at a time.

4. Learn to stop worrying so much

This ties in with #3.  Worry is a waste of time.  I preach to Rob constantly on this.  And yet there I am, laying in bed in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep after a bathroom trip because I can't shut my stupid brain off for a while.  It seems as soon as I'm even slightly awake, the thoughts come marching in.  For the sake of my sanity it needs to end.

5. Pray more, meditate more, exercise more

In general, pay more attention to my physical and spiritual health.  I need to be at the top of my game and am tired of performing at a sub-par level.

So there you go.  I know there's more than this, but these 5 are the biggies.  And really when I review them, I see that one theme keeps repeating and that all these resolutions can be summed up in one statement:

I am going to be good to myself.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cheesecake Success!

Wow! I am so thrilled right now!

We decided today that it would be good to make something nice for dessert tomorrow night.  Of course Rob's idea was "chocolate cheesecake", aka the chocolate cheesecake I made a few weeks back for our Thanksmas gathering.  Yes, that was delicious, but it didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped.

Thanksmas cheesecake:

Ugly cheesecake

See, it souffled and fell and cracked and looked all wonky.  I saved it by making a chocolate ganache and covering it all up.  It worked like a charm and I felt very clever.  Did I get a picture of that? Of course not.  But take my word, it looked way prettier with the shiny ganache, and no one was the wiser.

So I tried again this afternoon to make a cheesecake.  I knew that water baths are key with cheesecakes, but I didn't use one last time because I had also read stories of water seeping into the springform pan, even when the pan was lined on the outside with foil.  Still, I wanted to have a crack-less cake, so this time around I was determined to use one...sort of.

I lined the pan with three layers of foil and put it on top of/halfway into a pie pan which I put a little bit of water in - just enough to barely touch the foil on the springform.  I then put that pan concoction into a bigger pyrex pan and filled that about halfway with water.  I put the whole thing in the oven and crossed my fingers.

This is what came out 1 1/2 hours later:

Beautiful crack-free cheesecake!

So nice, I thought I'd show you twice!

I almost cried with joy! How freaking gorgeous is that cheesecake? The only thing I see wrong with it now is the fact that it has some air bubbles, which I know resulted from over-beating.  Live and learn.  But it's so pretty!

I think I'm going to end up making ganache anyway, though.  Don't mess with a good idea, I always say.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Market Day!

Today was a good day.  Things went well at the rehab - better than I had expected.  Rob's dad is going to be transferred to a skilled rehab (which we were afraid would not be covered by his insurance) for up to 90 days.  Then there's the in-home rehab a few days a week for an hour or so, and a community rehab program which features a therapist coming to the house to make sure that the place is set up well and that we have a rigid schedule in place, since structure is best for recovery in cases like this.  We pray that he will continue to recover between now and then, even if it is in slow baby steps.  Til then, for our part, we'll have to plan and get ready.  But we have time, and a great feeling of relief comes with that knowledge.

Even though it was about 30 degrees at the most with almost constant winds, we decided to keep our plans to visit the Italian Market.  After, oh, a good 20 minutes of trying to find a parking space we gave up and decided to go home - and then as if by magic, a space opened up.  Never fails!

So off we went.  Rob had never been to the Market and now understands why I love it so much.

First we went to Cappuccio's, just to see what kinds of prices they had.  Immediately we were greeted with "How are yas?".  I love South Philly.  However, I had a feeling we'd do better at Esposito's.

So we headed over to Esposito's and I tried really hard not to lose my mind and buy one of everything.  All the yummy looking meat at such amazing prices.  Rob said that we should go once a month and stock up the freezer.  I would not be opposed to this plan.

That's my hand in the picture, and some of the meat I was ordering.  Oh, the yummy sausage on the scale...

Next we went to the Spice Market.  I didn't get any pictures in there because I was so busy freaking out over all the spices they had.  I forgot how amazingly reasonable everything is! I bought a 1 oz. packet of basil and a pound of sea salt for $2.75 total.  Bliss, total bliss.  Again, Rob was amazed.  And rightly so, since spices are usually kind of expensive.

We then visited Talluto's.  Shame it's such a terribly cramped place because I could spend hours there.

Yes, I think I'll have one of...everything...

Seriously...rows and rows of olive's almost too much to bear...

And then I plunged face-first into the olive was embarrassing

Rob picked up frozen gnocchi, sauce, and mozzarella/prosciutto roll.  I grabbed a hunk of parmagiano reggiano because I just couldn't resist the price.  I wanted to buy tons of olives but I can't always indulge my whims.  At least that's what I tell myself.

At home we dug into the ricotta gnocchi, homemade sauce and the mozz/prosciutto roll.  Rob didn't like the roll - I think it was marinated and he just didn't go for it.  I liked it, though, so more for me! And the gnocchi and sauce were to die for! Plus I fried up a small piece of Italian sausage from Esposito's which was fan-tas-tic.  Just wonderful! It'll go great in my gravy.

So I got the meats for the gravy and am ready to roll as soon as I pick up everything else tomorrow.

I'm so glad we decided to go today.  It was a fun new experience for Rob and now he knows why I love it there so much.  I wish it hadn't been so cold or else we could have explored more.  We didn't go to Villa di Roma either - neither of us was very hungry.  Next time, right? :-)

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Of course, the day we plan to go to the Italian Market also happens to be an incredibly windy and cold day.  Talk about taking the fun out of it...We'll see what happens.  I was really looking forward to it, but this is pretty much par for the course right now.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Enjoying Today

It's Monday.  12:50 PM.  And I'm sitting on my couch in my pajamas and slippers, typing this entry.  Still more tires squealing and engines revving in the back room.  Oh, vacation.

I love how, when you have an extended period of time off, the days kind of blend in to one another.  I love how when I woke up early this morning, my husband reminded me that I had requested a "Snuggle Date" last night (since he was going to bed earlier than I was, thus no snuggling), so we went back to bed and wound up sleeping for another three hours.  Oh, vacation.

(I did not, however, sleep in with impunity.  Spending another three hours asleep felt like I was doing something wrong, and I just about fell out of bed when I opened my eyes and saw what time it was.  I need to get over that.)

I have to say that it worries me that things won't be like this anymore if/when we move.  I know there's no sense in worrying - what's going to be will be.  But unlike, say, deciding to have a child, this sort of life change isn't something we've requested or planned for.  As good a thing as I know this will be for all of us, and as much as I genuinely want to be helpful, I still have fleeting moments of...panic.  Okay, maybe not panic.  Panic is too strong a word.  It's a mix of emotions, really.  There's a part of me that feels terrible for having these thoughts, but I don't think anyone in their right mind wouldn't have similar feelings of their own.  I am ready to do this.  It's just that the little things make me sad lately, because I'm afraid that the little things won't happen anymore.

So for now, "enjoying today" is on the agenda.  For tomorrow we find out what's going to happen and what we're going to need to do.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Dream of Gravy

I few weeks back, I was sitting at the front desk at work for an hour.  Usually this is a boring, boring time when I either catch up on work or, in the rare case when there isn't a lot pending, flip through magazines.  On that particular day I happened upon an issue of Esquire and...THIS:

The most beautiful pasta sauce/gravy I've ever seen.

I swear, I think I sat and stared at that very picture (which, to paint a clearer image for you, was an entire page) for minutes on end.  I may have drooled, I really don't know, everything else was a blur.  And I immediately became obsessed with the idea of making it myself.  Now, if only I could find an excuse to do so.  After all, it is *supposed* to serve 8 to 10 people and even though Rob and I are admittedly and unabashedly big eaters, even we can't pull that off by ourselves...

As soon as we decided to host another New Years Eve party, I knew I had found my opportunity.  In fact I think we were in the car and I did my usual "hopping up and down in my seat" routine as soon as we arrived at the conclusion that the party would go on.  And so my mouth watered in anticipation.

It just so happens that we have a meeting with the team who've been taking care of Rob's dad on Tuesday morning.  So we've planned to visit the Italian Market afterward in order to pick up the meats for the sauce - honestly, if you're going to pick up meat for an Italian gravy (don't let Rob know I called it that! for an Italian he has quite the aversion to that term), you have to go to the Italian Market.  End of story.  We also plan to have lunch at one of my favorite places even though I've been there maybe twice - Villa di Roma.  Hopefully not much has changed since the last time I was there, because that would be heartbreaking.  But that's not one of the places that changes very much, or at least that's the impression I've always gotten.

I am so looking forward to making this and can hardly wait to get to the market!


Julie & Julia

As I type this, I am sitting here watching "Julie & Julia".  I now understand why everyone I know who's seen it says that you feel hungry just watching it.  Hunger is the last thing on my mind right now - I've spent much of what has so far constituted my vacation eating.  I admit it.  It's kind of difficult not to when you're surrounded by cookies and no actual, decent food.  Well, that will change.  It will.

From the computer room I hear squealing tires and revving engines.  I feel like I've been magically transported to last year's Christmas vacation, when my husband played Grand Theft Auto 3 (or is it 4?) for several days straight.  I spent a couple of those days sitting in the room with him, in an easy chair, with a laptop on my lap.  I was working on a story which of course stopped developing as soon as vacation ended and 9-5 picked back up.  It was nice to be working on something, you know? Maybe I'll revisit that story.  It usually benefits me to put a piece aside and reevaluate it with a fresh set of eyes.  I guess after a year, my eyes are pretty fresh.

Things are sort of in flux right now, and it's nothing I feel like getting into at the moment.  Not until there's a more solid outline of what's going to happen.  I just feel kinda blah.  I feel like life is on 'pause'.  I don't like it very much, but that's just how it is.  It'll get better.  I know it will.  For the moment my brain is just bouncing off the walls, as evidenced by my inability to pick a train of thought and stick with it.

Anyway, back to the movie, and the cookbook.  In a sadly underused word: Delightful! What a fantastic, life-altering book it is for a person like me who loves to cook and has picked up almost everything they know by trial and error.  So many things are becoming clearer, like the fact that proper saute can't be executed in butter alone - it won't get hot enough without burning.  So oil needs to be involved as well.  Brilliant.  Also, in the movie Julie makes the same revelation I did about sauteeing mushrooms! I wasn't the only one doing it wrong! And how fun is it that Boeuf Bourguignon is featured so prominently - I've made it many times and it just gets better and better.  Maybe I'll make it for the Julie & Julia party...whenever and wherever that is...

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