Saturday, July 26, 2014

Running The Costco Gauntlet

Shopping at Costco can be fun. We can shop and eat what amounts to a sample plate of appetizers during happy hour. (Costco in Tijuana, Mexico served Tequila samples - I thought I heard since the privatization of liquor sales, this happens here in the U.S. as well.) Saturdays are especially delicious. I brought my son with me and told him, "this is lunch so eat up!"

But as soon as we started, I realized, this Calorie Loading Zone was going to trash my food budget for the day. "I have a Barbecue to attend tonight. I can't afford to snack on..." chicken nuggets in BBQ sauce, cheese & crackers, bread & jam, marinated beef ribs, chicken & veggie wraps, taco salad, mango nectar... it goes on and on. Those were just the ones I remembered. Ah, but lucky for you, dear reader, I took pictures.

Right there! That is the kind of trouble a dieter can get into when running the gauntlet that is made of Costco samples. The nicest people are there encouraging us all to taste and if we happen to roll by a second time, have another taste, it's okay because we know all the calories in Costco samples get worked off when putting away that mega-load of must-haves we can only stockpile from our favorite warehouse store.

I estimated the caloric value as best I could. Most servers cut the samples into eight pieces, except for the burrito, fruit leather, dried fruit and bread. Here are the estimates: 41-ChickenWrap, 32-Chicken Skewers, 67-Beef Ribs, 21-Chicken Nugget, 42-Jam & Toast, 10-Pickle, 15-Fruit Leather, 30-Dried Mango, 58-Corn Dog, 27-Pork Jerky, 23-Coconut Water, 100-Burrito, 40-Mango Juice, 36-Tortilla & Guacamole, 20-Cheese & Cracker, 27-Taco Salad.

Almost 600 calories if I ate all of it. 389 was the total of which I consumed without a thought, except I did take pictures of everything we ate so it was really a premeditated devouring. Not mindless, mind you. And... we didn't try every sample offered. I could have done even more damage.

As we left Costco, I knew I had not managed the Costco Sample Gauntlet well at all. The lure of it was that once I started sampling, it was difficult to stop.

The trick now is to live and learn and not go whole hog the next time. We will see.


Definition of GAUNTLET


a :  a double file of men facing each other and armed with clubs or other weapons with which to strike at an individual who is made to run between them —used with run
b :  a line, series, or assemblage; especially :  one that poses some sort of ordeal <a gauntlet of autograph-seekers>
:  a severe trial :  ordeal <ran the gauntlet of criticism and censure>

Special thanks to the nice lady who helped me with the Gauntlet research... the one who didn't like the Coconut Water.

Monday, July 21, 2014

30 Days of Summer!

Today marks my one month anniversary of Serving Size Summer!

I began my blog weighing in at a whopping 263 pounds... although I like to remind myself that I have actually removed 28 pounds from body since January 1, 2014. Yes it was a New Years Resolution.

Gerard and Me (Darcy)
My Current weight is 254, a nine pound weight loss since June 21, 2014. I am very proud of this and I would like to officially claim that eating serving sizes is an easy way to limit food intake, but like any other nutrition modification plan, consult a doctor blah blah blah, there must be limits and yes, rules to be successful.

I have them, I posted my rules here in the "Tools and the Rules" post of June 22.

There is more to tell in this story of weight loss: an ill-fated trip to Costco, the BBQ that called my bluff, the Taco Time Lunch. So stay tuned, follow by email, recommend this read and leave a comment if you are so moved.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It Ain't Over Till The Fat Lady Sings

07/17 - Day 27 - 254
06/21 - Day 1 -263
Language is a funny thing. We have come up with many ways to express similar thoughts with different emphasis. The phrase, "It ain't over till the fat lady sings," is one of those phrases... a colloquialism, that I find to be quite irritating..

I know it is an answer for the question "when is it over?" But it is such a vague statement. Which fat lady? Any fat lady? The first fat lady? How fat is this lady? The biggest fat lady?

These days, I seem to be the fat lady in any given situation and if I take the literal meaning from this statement... it could be over when I sing. That certainly changes this old tired phrase into something new and a little exciting. I am liking the idea that I have power!

There is no qualifier to say that I have to sing well, just sing. Period. I can do that.
I can determined the length of an event just by belting out a song of my choosing.

So, taken literally, I can end any event just by singing. Keep in mind, if I am attending your event, it better be good or I might tilt my head back and let loose a tune to end all tunes and by definition, end your event.

Okie dokie.

While thinking about this idea, you might like to know that the original "Fat Lady" was the character Brunhilde from Wagner's Ring Opera. She sings for 20 minutes in the last scene. See the links below for more detailed explanations and origins of this phrase.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Oops, There It Is!

This weekend was a tough one as far as my food choices were concerned. I felt like I was on the edge the entire time. There wasn't enough food anywhere in sight.

This is something that is not new to me. I am compelled to eat. When I put the brakes on that compulsion, I can feel it tugging at me like a dog trying to wrestle a rope right out of my hands. I do very well if I don't engage in the tug-o-war and this is easy to manage within the structure of my workplace. I can't just stop and eat whenever the mood takes me there, so I redirect onto something pressing until I am distracted from the need to eat. Water helps.

Weekends are more challenging.

Last Friday, my husband, Gerard and I spent the day in Seattle walking around and enjoying the beautiful day. We started out from Century Link Field and walked down to the waterfront. What is a visit to Seattle Waterfront without a stroll through Ye Olde Curiosity Shop? I always check out the nesting doll collection. The downside (it hasn't changed hardly at all except maybe they inhabit less real estate) is that it was very crowded.

We walked all over the place... up the stairs to Pike Place Market, over to Westlake for lunch and back down to the bus tunnel. We ended up at Uwajimaya's Asian Market in the International District. I calculated about three hours of walking. That is pretty good for getting a cortisone shot in my heel just two days earlier.

After Seattle, we visited family in Bellevue and then went to the Open House Barbecue at DigiPen, where our son is attending a workshop. This is where I began to lose control.

I don't generally eat hamburger because it causes me to gain a few pounds almost instantly. When my eyes see and my nose smells a hamburger, my body automatically shifts and adjusts for the added weight. I'm like a Transformer. That was a lie. The Transformer thing.

The frustrating moments for me are when I think about the fact that I am having a sandwich with a piece of meat, a side salad, chips and a cookie. It's not an extravagant amount of food. It just felt like it because when I added everything up, the Greek lunch was a high calorie event and some of our snacks were more costly too. My total count for the day was 2,668. 668 over my limit.

I thought it was fine, though. It was a special day and thats how it goes some days.

I did gain two pounds the next morning, and that little bit of going over messed with my mind. I have tried to get a grip, eating right up to the edge with my calorie count. Pushing my limits.

Finally, Sunday night, I gave in to the urge and ate a bowl of unaccounted for nachos with Mozarella, refried beans and salsa.  It was very satisfying. It may not look like the most gourmet dish, but it was delicious and even though I went off the plan, I did measure it all out and accounted for my overage.

It felt a little pre-meditated, which felt like I was cheating the cheat. Measuring did take the spontaneity out of the experience. I think that was a good thing. I can't say I was "out of control." My mind didn't go blank. I just made a decision to eat.

My Sunday overeat totaled 655 calories. I was 661 over 2000 that day. And that was that.

Monday morning I weighed in four pounds heavier than when I weighed on Friday. It is not the end of the world. If I am going to do this, I have to be okay with my fluctuations. I weigh daily so I can see what my body is doing during this experiment.

I will not weigh daily after Summer is over. (If I continue this project, I may do a few things differently.)

The Master Plan is to develop a new way of eating that is both satisfying and healthy and one I can sustain for the rest of my life.

Oops. There it is... and it wasn't "The End Of The Experiment."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Readers Who Digest

I'm back!

Some of my readers have expressed an interest in seeing more food in my posts. So here is a little culinary discussion to encourage readers who digest the contents of my blog.

My breakfast pictured left is one of my best ever high calorie meals. Raw oats, raisins, walnuts and almond milk. Almond milk is amazing. One cup is only 30 calories, while a serving size of Milk is about 110, depending on which fat % milk you buy. Now there is a savings.

As you can read, today I am focusing on the food. I am a food addict, so this should be fun. For most "habits," the addict could potentially never "use," drink, smoke or have sex ever again. They could live their entire lives without ever going back to that personally destructive habit that is difficult to quit.

I can't recall the person who said "Food addiction is like opening a cage to pet a tiger three times a day, hoping each time that the tiger won't pull you in and devour you."

With every bite that goes in my mouth, I am one blank thought away from losing control, shutting off my mind, and eating without restrictions.

This is what makes me hesitate to open a fridge. All the food is there waiting and needing to be used before it spoils or before I am forbidden to eat it because of the latest dietary restrictions or fads or because it is Monday, or someone gave me the stink eye or that stink eye person knows its there and is going to get to it first, or I saw a horrible picture on Facebook and I can't erase it from my memory, or I might be going swimming because it's summer.... There is a food for that.

Dieters love to talk about food. When "dieting," I spend quite a bit of time thinking about it. I have to plan ahead and make sure I am prepared for what is next. I need plans A, B, and C at the ready in case things change, like at work when lunch is on the warehouse, or the crew wants to dash across the busy street like we are in a video game called Frogger, the goal is not being smashed by semis and delivery trucks as we run for our lives so we can spend our lunch break away from work.

My experiment is actually going very well. I am enjoying the way I must eat. Because I am eating less, I am required to eat more often. Bully for me! Eating more often is a great way to feel like I get more food, even though I am consuming less.

On this Serving Size Plan, I don't eat out as often, which has helped my cause and my budget. Coworkers are more aware of serving sizes and offer me snacks, asking if I can have them. I can, as long as its a serving size.

Portion control has been my issue more than anything else. I actually love to eat salads and spinach is a favorite salad choice for me... also, a serving size is two cups raw. I love that. When I have eaten many high calorie snacks, like the chips and the ice cream bar pictured in my 07/03/2014 nutrition graphic, (I know, this is not healthy... but it was sure yummy and I ate portion sizes... you know, the rules and such) I am able to make a salad from veggies that are low in calories and filling enough to satisfy me.

Elizabeth, with her baby Dash! 2014 
Our dinner, pictured above, was a special 4th of July request for fresh rolls from my daughter and her husband who came up from Portland for a visit on the 3rd, and it is one of my all time favorite meals. I ate fresh rolls for three days in a row until I ran out of ingredients.

I made the determination of how many to have by the serving size info on the rice wraps. One serving is four skins. Hooray! I made four and was completely satisfied... a normal thing for me to do in the past is to eat eight rolls. They are mostly veggies anyway, right?

And that might be the answer to my question in my last post, "how did I get to be 281 lbs?"

Well, since January, I have lost 25 pounds... 9 since I started my Serving Size Summer blog. I feel better physically and emotionally I am happier. Remember, being in control of my food intake is a huge thing for me. I can still have ice cream and candy if I choose to do so, as long as it fits into my calorie budget.

I went over my budget July 3rd, but it didn't hijack my success. I am letting it be okay because I did my best for that day. Part of being present in this process is allowing myself to enjoy the food I eat and not beat myself up for not being perfect. And really, 17 calories? I probably sneezed them out at 2:27 PM when the wind blew something up at work and half the office had a round of "achoos."

Hannah ready to climb?
Okay, one more note about food today: I thank my daughter, Hannah for sharing her friend's recipe for fresh rolls. We have prepared this meal over and over again until our son, Benjamin has asked if we could please eat something else. They are the best!

Happy Digesting. I hope this went down smooth.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chewing The Fat

There have been many moments in my life of late, when I am the fattest person in the room. I look around and think, "How could I have let this happen?"

I don't know the answer to this question. But as my weight has climbed higher and higher, I think back to when I was in second grade and we had just moved to Seattle from California I met my best friend Cathy.

Debra and Me on the porch, Donovan Street, 1969
(I couldn't find a picture of Cathy and Me together)
I had been known for chewing five pieces of gum at one time and my new teacher caught me... I mean, that isn't something my little eight-year old mouth could have hidden anyway. My punishment was to put that plum-sized wad of gum on the end of my nose and stand at the front of the room, facing all my new classmates. Not a good first week.

As it turned out, Cathy and I lived on the same street in South Park (South Seattle.) I was in the middle and she was across the street at the end of the block. 1025 South Donovan Street. I have no idea why I still remember our address.

But that was how I met Cathy. She became my friend that day. Rescued me, really. later that year when I was caught talking in class, it didn't hurt quite so much to keep my mouth pressed to the chalk lips the teacher had drawn on the board. I had my best friend at my back.

I spent a lot of time at Cathy's house. Her mom often took us on little adventures. We visited the Lummi Nation Reservation (, The King County Court House in Seattle, Woodland Park Zoo (, as well as many other places. She was awesome, and fun and weighed about 300 pounds.

Claudia was the biggest person I knew at that time, she was nice to me... she wasn't a villain like Jabba the Hut, or Fat Bastard or Ursula the Sea Witch. She was very nice and she was a very involved mom to her three children.

Cathy's mom and dad were both full blown diabetics, as was Cathy. Their fridge was full of those tiny clean insulin bottles, there were needles in every room, and there must not have been much in the way of nutrition counseling for them. All Cathy ever said about it was that she couldn't eat candy.

Their reality was that food was a huge issue. Anything that should have been refrigerated was on the counter, as if it was in the process of being converted into meals at every moment of the day. Bread, Mayo, cheese, meats, deserts, candy. The table was littered with food and swarmed with flies. No diet anything in sight. Full sugared pop was the drink of choice... They had a closet full of Coke.

Cathy wasn't happy about the situation and she often renewed a vow to never, ever be like her parents. As much as I liked her mom, we agreed to never be fat. I vowed in solidarity, even though Claudia always included me in all the family fun. I didn't totally understand why Cathy was so against their lifestyle... we always played at her house and her parents were always nice.

And yet here I am today, despite my vow, fighting my way back from almost 300 pounds, the supposed sinister weight of my best friend's mom.

I don't know if Claudia fought valiantly or gave up because it is hard to say no to food. I don't have my food sitting on the counter, ready to eat, but sometimes it is very difficult to ignore it calling me from the fridge if I am bored, lonely, upset, celebrating... any emotional reason to eat.

After two weeks of Serving Size Summer, I am very happy with the results. I have had my mishaps and miscalculations but I have had more successes.

Despite the mean teacher, I still chew gum... and can chomp away when I am concentrating or trying not to eat more food. It also calms my nerves in social situations. Think of gum as my therapy pet. I promise it won't shed.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day 2014

Happy 4th of July!

My buddy, Roxy waiting to play.
The 4th of July marks two weeks of Serving Size Summer. It is going along very well, with a few food issues... surprise, surprise. I will go into those in a later post.

Today is a very low key day for me. My family is with relatives celebrating the 4th at the yearly get-together and I'm staying home with our dogs and cats (alas, poor Jimmie The Fish and his two un-named cohorts went to the big fish pond in the sky this April.) In the past, on this particular holiday, we have lost a few dogs and as I sit here with my pups, (cats are in hiding) I know they feel better with me here. Its a win, win.

A few years ago, I decided that I didn't have to participate in the fireworks events to celebrate my country's freedom. Exploding devices in the hands of children has always made me nervous, making it difficult for me to enjoy these celebrations. I do like a good fireworks show from across a large body of water, though.

Despite the fact that I don't love loud booming noises, there isn't a place I would rather live... even though I love to travel and see new places, meet new people, there really is "no place like home..."

I like Denmark, though. Thats where my grandfather was born, and although he spent most of his life in America and I only knew him in my birthplace of Ukiah, California, I like to think of him in Denmark. That is where my Mom's brother lives, so you see, we are very connected to the land of the Vikings.

My sister, Debra and Me and the Mermaid.
In April of 2012, my sister and her husband gifted me with a ticket and I flew to Copenhagen, meeting my sister there and we spent a week with our Aunt and Uncle in Lyngby. I loved it. (Thank you, guys!)

They showed us around the old family haunts, took us to see Tivoli, the Glyptotek, a few castles and even spent the day in Roskilde at the Viking Museum. The Island of Tasinge was a very special place because it has a large amount of history there for our family. We ended the trip with a very nice jazz performance on our last night in Copenhagen.

Surprisingly, while traipsing around Denmark, I lost eight pounds in one week. We ate whatever we wanted. There was no "oh, I shouldn't eat that" statements. The key here was that except for the day trip to Tasinge, we walked everywhere. I definitely should go there frequently... for my health.

The Cathedral Church of the Royal Family, Roskilde, Denmark

I would go back right now if I could. The only thing I would do different is spend the time with my relatives without the tourism... we got that out of the way on the first trip. I would spend a day at the Glyptotek and do the jazz again. You can never get too much art and culture.

 Rebild Celebration - Denmark
Rebild Celebration - 4th of July in Rebild and Aalborg
Really, my point in this story is to tell you a tiny bit about the largest 4th of July celebration outside the United States... yep, its in DENMARK!

The short version: in 1912, a group of Danish American immigrants bought a chunk of land and gifted it back to the Danish people. As a thank you to America for welcoming many Danes, the celebrations continue to this day.

Click on the link under the photo of Rebild to read more about the Danish/American 4th of July Celebration.

Addendum to a Rule

One little update to the rules listed in my earlier post "The Tools and The Rules." I have decided to consume more than one serving if the nutrition facts listed on calorie-free drinks states that a serving size is half of the bottle. If I open a 16 oz. size of any particular drink, I am going to drink the entire bottle.

What I have been doing is pouring half into a glass and then drinking the second half with a snack later. This is not always convenient at work. It is not a matter of me getting enough water in my plan; I drink three to four Contigo (best water bottle on earth - 24 oz. servings of water every day in addition to everything else I drink. (Coffee, tea, 16 oz. energy, immune boost, or Crystal Lite type drinks, and occasional pop with lunch. (I know these choices are not healthy... one thing at a time, okay?)

More to come in future posts on how the plan is treating me.

The Experiment continues...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Case of the Fairy Odd Parent

Approximately seventeen-ish years ago, I woke up one dark morning and realized the Tooth Fairy had neglected to confiscate a tooth hidden under Elizabeth's (my second daughter) pillow. She was at that tender age of ten-ish where questioning led to doubt, which morphed into suspicions which resulted in investigations which then culminated into someone being accused of lying. Definitely worth handling at five in the morning, prior to sunrise.

I, being charged with the title of Tooth Fairy, had been remiss in my duties regarding said tooth. To rectify the situation I ran to my purse to see if I could Russell up some change, but could only find a five dollar bill... way too much money to trade for a nondescript baby tooth... but it was too late or early to Dash to the store for change so I just considered it Hush Money... for me or the Tooth Fairy, I couldn't say.

I tip-toed sneakily into Elizabeth's room, crouched down and carefully inched my hand under her pillow, the one with her lovely blond curls resting upon it... reaching deeper, scooting my fingers around carefully ...and coming up with nothing.

"Where was that blasted envelope?" I thought.

It must have slid down against the wall. I readjusted myself and reached into the dark and there it was. I snatched it up, nabbed the tooth and slid that five dollar bill in its place and carefully slid the envelope back under the pillow.

"Well done," I thought to my boastful self, until I looked up at my daughter to see her sitting up, watching me with a slightly curious look on her face.

I like to brag about my quick thinking in a tight situation and this morning I was at the top of my skill set.

I smoothly disengaged from the bed and hid behind the bedpost. I stood very still and used my mental powers to activate my invisibility cloak. I successfully hid all 224 pounds of Tooth Fairy magic behind a two by two inch bunk bed post.

Elizabeth didn't move for few moments, probably trying to puzzle out what she thought she was seeing, then she fluffed her pillow and pretended to sleep so the Tooth Fairy and all her magic could make a clean getaway.

And that was a very close call.

I love it when Elizabeth tells this story. We have a good laugh.

I have spent many years trying to camouflage myself in one way or another. I have worn oversized sweatshirts and big coats zipped up to my neck for years.

In my mind I think if I cover everything, people might miss the fact that I am fat. Or that my stomach is not as big as it appears. I know that I am as big as I am, whether I stand behind a bedpost or cover myself in fabric, I will still be big.

I went to a wedding with my son this weekend and I was surprised that I didn't feel as self-conscious about my body as usually is my M.O. (Motus Operandi) I worry to the point of not being able to enjoy the moment. I felt relaxed and happy in my skin.

This calm feeling was the result of being in control. I knew when I went to the wedding, which had a "buffet" style reception, that I would be estimating my serving sizes as best I could. I didn't deny myself anything and was even prepared to eat cake, but alas, I am not a cake person so I chose not to consume calories that weren't worth the cost.

In a sense, I am not really dieting. I am experimenting with serving sizes to see if this is a nutrition plan I could follow. Anyone can do it, just read the package... all the information is there for us to use.

I wont always make perfect decisions... like today, I ate too many snacks and was left with under 400 calories for dinner... but I am pretty resourceful and can create a vegetable soup that is super delicious and can make up for stress-hunger eating days. Days like today when it seemed like there wasn't enough food. (Day Nine? This isn't the first time I have wanted to keep eating since summer began and I know it isn't the last.)

I do know that when I am not in control of my food, I am gaining weight. In Control/Out of Control. Those are my two states of being. When I am In Control, I am happy.

Right now, I am happy. I got this.