Salt Sugar Fat ~~a book review not my latest diet!

salt sugar fatIt is not often that a book I’ve read affects me so powerfully, but this one was really an eye opening experience.  I am a long time junk food junkie and I’ve consumed many processed foods in my lifetime and after reading this book I have to say I felt a bit nauseous!

The book is divided into three sections as the title suggests, salt, sugar and fat, all those lovely ingredients that are added to processed foods to make them tasty and addicting to us the consumer and have a great deal to do with our current obesity epidemic.

I’m not telling anyone anything new when I say that the number of large people in this country is well, huge. It’s an alarming epidemic that has resulted in seat belt extenders on airplanes, larger clothing sizes in the stores and Disney World digging a deeper trench for the SMALL WORLD ride because the boats kept getting stuck.  I have always been perplexed by why this has happened. I mean when I was a kid if anyone carried a lot of extra pounds they were the exception not the rule. I realize that people are eating more, and there are more convenience foods than ever in the grocery store, but I was the product of a household where both my parents worked and we had a lot of these convenience foods in our house too, and I was skinny.

Well this book was able to give me some answers. Yes, we as a society eat a lot of convenience foods, but over time the food manufacturers have gotten more and more liberal with their additions of sugars, salts and fat in their products. It’s to the point that the average consumer is now consuming 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, 33 pounds of cheese a year and 850 milligrams of salt a day. The cheese amount alone is three times what we used to consume back in the 1970’s and the sugar and salt is way over the recommended daily allowance.

How did this happen?

Michael Moss has done a great deal of research and presented it in this book in a way that is interesting and not dry and clinical. He visits the major manufacturers of these foods, delves into their histories, visits their labs and interviews the food industry inventors and executives. It is fascinating, enlightening and scary all at the same time.

For instance it was fascinating to learn that the founder of Kellogg’s cereal, John Harvey Kellogg was a health nut who invented his cereal mixture to give to his patients at the sanitarium he ran in Battle Creek, Michigan. John Harvey was trying to find an alternative to the nations digestion problems caused by the heavy, greasy breakfasts they were consuming. His healthy grain filled cereal mixture was a hit with his patients, so he and his brother Will started manufacturing the healthful cereal to be sold to their patients and other locals, but Will had greater ambitions. While John Harvey was away in Europe, Will added some sugar to the mix and then their customers really liked it! John Harvey was pretty unhappy when he returned and found out about the change to his recipe. so little brother Will started his own sugary cereal company (not without a fight) and as they say, the rest is history.

It was also enlightening to learn that the majority of the current and past executives at the big food giants don’t consume the foods they sell. I would have expected a bunch of physiques similar to the Governor of New Jersey, but instead Moss found a bunch of healthy eaters. In fact the majority of them realize that they are the cause of the obesity problems but they aren’t quite sure how to fix it. It’s a complex problem.

It was scary to learn that all those low-fat, fat-free and lo-cal items that people buy to try to eat a little healthier are just pumped and chemically enhanced with more sugars and salts to make them edible. “No Sugar, No Fat, No Sales” is one of the chapter titles and Moss discovered this for himself when he taste tested a stripped down version of his favorite snack Cheez-Its and discovered it was inedible.

I hope a lot of people read this book and get their eyes opened because I know that I will never go to the grocery and shop the same way again. I will never be able to stop purchasing those foods I crave the most like salty potato chips, a divine sugary cereal or the occasional PopTart, but I hope that I at least will be more aware of what I’m buying and think twice before I throw it in my cart!

As Moss says in his book,

….this book is intended as a wake-up call to the issues and tactics at play in the food industry, to the fact that we are not helpless in facing them down. We have choices, particularly when it comes to grocery shopping, and I saw this book, on its most basic level, as a tool for defending ourselves when we walk through those doors.

My New Exercise Toy!

A few blog posts ago I mentioned that I had a bout with sciatica pain. Part of my treatment was to go to a Physical Therapist twice weekly to get some soft tissue massage (terrific!), get hooked up to a machine for some electric stimulation, and learn some exercises to strengthen my core and stretch my leg muscles.

It was amazing how much the therapy helped and I can tell a big difference in my core by the very simple exercises I was taught. One of the tools I used to help with my exercises is something invented my Joseph Pilate called the Magic Circle. I am not much of a gym rat or a group exercise buff, so I am kind of out of the loop on things like Yoga, Zumba and Pilates, so if you’re already familiar with this piece of equipment I apologize, but for me it is a revelation!  It’s amazing how something so simple can gently help strengthen and increase the flexibility of so many muscles.

So since my PT was coming to an end, and I still can’t really return yet to an all out exercise program, I decided to buy myself a little after Christmas treat!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Magic Circle arrived today and I eagerly took it out of the box and did some exercises right away. I think anything that gets me this excited about exercising was well worth the $25 I spent on it!

So like any new convert I wanted to spread the news of my discovery,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but not everyone in our household is as exciting as I am!

iPad iNsomnia

I never would have dreamed that I would be one of those people tethered to technology, but that is just what I’ve become. This has been especially true since I left my job a year ago to spend more time with my spouse in Alaska. There are a lot of hours in the day to fill when you aren’t working, only have a small black dog to attend to, and spend a considerably amount of time alone.  But you see I’m not truly alone because I have my books, my Kindle, my iPod and my iPad to keep me company. I seem to always have one of these things either in my hand, close at hand, or in my handbag. See, tethered!

insomnia

I’ve noticed some physical repercussions from my obsession. Eye strain is a big one, then there’s a bit of numbness in my hands if I’ve played a bit too much Angry Birds the day before, but the biggest thing I’ve noticed is insomnia.  At first I didn’t correlate the use of my iPad with my night time alertness, because I thought it was just something us middle-aged people acquired, kind of like wrinkles and aches and pains, but then someone mentioned the fact that the light from an iPad causes sleeplessness.  At first I was doubtful, but I decided to do a little experiment to see if it was true. I simply stopped using my iPad right before I went to bed. I should say it wasn’t simple in the least because I had gotten in the bad habit of shutting off my bedside lamp and either reading or playing games on my iPad before deciding to shut my eyes. But after a few nights with a good old-fashioned book instead of the iPad, I found myself drifting off to sleep effortless. It truly was amazing to find such a quick fix for my wakefulness! The hard part is not picking up that darn iPad right before bed!

Related article:

iPad could cause insomnia, researches say

Observations of a hungry dieter

English: cooked red quinoa

As you know I’m dieting, safely, but madly to fit in my MOB dress in July. I think this is the most dedicated weight loss regimen I have ever been on. I’ve stuck with it even though I know there is a half-gallon of my favorite ice cream, unopened, in the frig and no husband home to notice if I’ve snuck a spoonful or 3 or 4.

And thankfully the weight is coming off slowly but surely. Tonight while Jasmine and I were walking for the fourth time today, to stave off my hunger pains, I made a few observations about my diet and its idiosyncrasies:

  • The more weight I lose the bigger my shoes have become but not so much the clothes.
  • I eat foods that I used to think were meant for horses~~oats & barley.
  • I have to go to bed before 10 pm because the food commercials make me so hungry.
  • I almost ate one of Jasmine’s dog treats the other day it smelled so appetizing.
  • I’ve started eating foods that I can’t spell or pronounce~~quinoa.
  • I’ve fallen off the wagon and I am drinking way too much coffee.
  • I order the diet plate when I lunch with friends.
  • and I’ve actually taken the lid off of the peanut butter jar just to sniff its luscious deliciousness.
Okay, now I have to go to bed because just typing the words, ice cream, peanut butter and even barley, have made me so incredibly hungry that I’m about ready to arm wrestle Jasmine for her Pup-peroni!

M-O-B weight loss program!

First of all let me just point out that I have not joined the mafia as the post title might suggest. Instead this is an acronym for my temporary designation as Mother of the Bride. It is a very exciting time for the whole family as the upcoming nuptial date quickly approaches and we are moving along pretty well on the to do list.

There are all the usual tasks to complete, venue, catering, flowers, music, guest list and many small details infinitum, and luckily I have a daughter that is organized, motivated and proactive, and of course beautiful and smart, that goes without saying!
So this leaves me to tackle an item on the top of MY list which is mine and mine alone to complete ~LOSE WEIGHT!

Being of a certain age, the weight has crept up on me over many months and years and I’ve probably lost and gained the same 7 pounds ten times over, but after my recent encounters with blunt, truthful sales clerks and full length mirrors with harsh fluorescent lighting, I’ve decided the need to lose that 7 pounds once again and maybe 5 more for good measure.

This of course is easier said than done. After many years of practice I know these are the five things that are required for me to lose any amount of weight:

  1. Motivation 
  2. No chocolate, candy, sweets of any kind 
  3. Drastically reduced bread intake
  4. Count Calories
  5. Add some form of cardio exercise

Motivation:
This one is always the hardest one for me. My weight isn’t putting my health at risk. I have clothes that fit the many incarnations of my waistline. I can still fit in an airplane seat comfortably. So what’s my motivation?  Oh, I just sounded a bit like a method actor there!
In this case it’s trying to fit in fancy dresses (which I NEVER wear) and finding that in this case, unlike an airplane seat, I don’t quite fit. Somehow most clothes manufacturers seem to think that women my age are either Beverly Hills slim or that we want to dress like our great grandmothers ( of the last century). Oh yeah, plus there was that caustic remark by one sales clerk about needing SPANKS as she gestured and nodded to my wobbly bits (a la Bridget Jones).
No sweets and slash breads:
Did I really say motivation was the hardest?! This one is pretty darn hard too. I am a breadaholic and I love my daily intake of candy. I’m partial to gummy bears, Good ‘N Plenty and any form of chocolate. I find the best method for accomplishing step 2 is to finish up all remaining candy in the pantry and then just not buy anymore. It’s the only way 😦
Bread is difficult to quit also because I love sandwiches, toast with my breakfast and rolls with my dinner. Egads, this is making me salivate just typing these sentences!  So I just don’t buy it.  No easy task, that is why I MUST have motivation in order to not replenish my cupboards with more lovely breads, cookies and candies!
Calorie Counting:
This seems like an old-fashioned mode of dieting what with all the experts telling us that carbs, fats and red meat are bad for us, but I’ve always been of the school of thought that everything in moderation. So I count calories and it works. What’s great in this day and age are all the wonderful apps that can help with calorie counting. I remember my mom using a little scale to weigh food and count calories and she also had a calorie counting book where she could look up foods and keep track.
I use an app entitled, Lose It! It’s terrific and very easy to use. You simply log in your current weight and then it asks for a goal weight. It will then give you a choice of how many pounds you hope to lose each week.
Lose It! then calculates a daily calorie amount, depending on how much you would like to lose each week and when you would like to complete your goal.  You log in your food and exercise each day and it tabulates everything for you. They even include grocery brands and restaurant foods and their calorie amounts. Every time I’ve wanted to shed a few pounds and been diligent about using the app I have lost weight!
Cardio Exercise:
Lastly I try to add some form of exercise that gives me a glow, or in more vulgar terms, SWEAT!  I stroll everyday with my muse Jasmine, but let’s be honest, she isn’t exactly Speedy Gonzales she’s more like the Poky Little Puppy.

Speedy Gonzales

So I have found that a bit of a work out on my Wii Fit or a run around the block gets the blood pumping and actually helps me shed weight a bit faster than just lowering my food intake.  It’s not an easy thing for me to accomplish because I am, and always will be, a couch potato that would much rather be indoors, reading a book, surfing the web, or watching TV.

So, for the last three weeks I have been trying very hard to follow my M-O-B, five-part weight loss program. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been quick, but slowly but surely I have been losing the weight. I still have a bit to go, and I have forsaken my moratorium on drinking coffee (because there is a limit to what I can go without!), but I think I might actually see some light at the end of the tunnel.

I can guarantee one thing, everyone better get out of my way at the wedding reception because I plan on eating like there is no tomorrow and I’m making sure I have my stretchy pants packed for the day after the wedding because I think I’m going to need them!

How a sales clerk pushed me (more like shoved me) into losing weight!

It’s sad but true that becoming a little bit older puts a few pounds on a person. Well, this person at least! It also doesn’t help that when I’m stressed, sad or bored I tend to grab the first edible thing in sight….chips, candy, ice cream…well, you get the picture.  I guess you could make the argument that if I stocked my cupboards with carrot sticks, apples, oranges and other healthy stuff, instead of the aforementioned delectables, that what I grabbed would be good for me instead of fattening. But I would counter with….what’s the fun in that! This is why weight loss is challenging, right!

Let me say up front that I am not much of a dieter. I’m the kind of person that knows that if I just cut out the late night eating, the sweets and bread (no, not sweetbreads, ewww!) that I will inevitably lose a few pounds. I know all my bad habits, I just don’t know how to stop them! Getting motivated is so very difficult, isn’t it?

Lucky for me I finally have found my motivation! I am a soon to be MOB (mother of the bride) and I need to fit into this cute little (well really medium-sized) number I bought and not look like I’m the pregnant MOB!

It’s highly motivating when a sales clerk is selling you a dress and she offers you a modern-day girdle (SPANKS), and at the same time looks at your middle and says, “this will help with that”! O-M-G am I really that F-A-T!

So for the last two weeks, I have been trying to be good. I have no sugar in the house, and no chips. I bought some rolls and ate three of them until I realized that the total of those three constituted my calorie allowance for the day, so I threw the rest out. But most importantly I started running again. Not very far and most definitely not very fast, but just enough to wear myself out so much that I’m too tired to dig through the pantry for old Halloween and Valentine candy!

So at my weigh in today on my Wii fit I found I had lost 3 pounds!

I was so proud of myself that I promptly went out and celebrated with a scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone 🙂

Sometimes a MOB just can’t help herself!