A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Must Pass

As time passes, I think it's important to stop and take a moment to realize we each had a chance to be beautiful and young.  It is also important to pause in gratitude for this - even as we acknowledge that it must fade.

Maybe if it was permanent, it would not have been so very precious.

But oh, how I wish I'd been able to see it when it was there.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Building a Better Menu

Prior to last night I had never once in my life eaten a single meal at the Cheesecake Factory.  Barring the appeal of eating at the place where Penny works (go watch the Big Bang Theory if you didn’t get that joke) I had noticed a few years ago that this restaurant tends to wind up at the top of an alarming number of the Worst Foods in America lists written by the good people at Eat This, Not That!

It seemed as though if someone were in the market to blow an entire day’s worth of calories at a single meal, the Cheesecake Factory was the place to go.  Not just because of the desserts either, their menu items are apparently soaked in butter prior to deep frying in pure animal fat, judging by the calorie content.  Needless to say when I was invited to go I suffered some profound hesitation.

As has become my custom, I hit up the online menu to plan my approach prior to actually landing behind enemy lines.

I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that I am not the only one who noticed the restaurant headlining the top of many food-contraband lists made available by Yahoo News.  I don’t know when, but at some point they added an entire sizable menu section titled, “SkinnyLicious”.  Okay, yeah, the name is dumb.  However the food is clearly and concisely broken down into sections by calorie content and I also discovered you can additionally ask the kitchen to prepare your meal any way you’d like to have it – such as holding the butter and/or salt.

So while it’s still possible (and not advisable) to order things there such as a shrimp and bacon sandwich smothered in pure fat dressing and accompanied by a heaping pile of fried things, it’s also possible to make a good choice.

I selected a chicken dish that was grilled and served over a light helping of faro and gently cooked broccoli rabe, covered with a very generous helping of surprisingly fresh tomato and basil.  If the menu was correct it clocked in at around 500 calories, which is a perfectly reasonable amount for dinner.

The cheesecake I had for dessert?  Not so much, but I surprised myself by being unable to actually finish either that or my meal – I took a good sized serving of chicken and tomatoes home for a work lunch.  It’s always good to get confirmation that my appetite and sense of feeling full is still functioning correctly and at normal levels.  It’s also so much easier to eat less when the meal is shared by good friends and seasoned with laughter.  By the time you remember to take another bite your body has had plenty of time to register that it’s well fed and satisfied.

It was worth it...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Eating All The Things

There comes a time in the life of every epicurean enthusiast when they must tackle the dreaded task of cleaning out the fridge.  It’s a bit like uncovering buried treasure.  Really, really unpleasant buried treasure.

Many things in the fridge will quickly and efficiently alert me when their time has come.  They’ll smell bad, or turn funny colors or in some way come to my attention with an urgent message of, “Hey – throw me out.  No really, it’s time.”  Lettuce, for example, possesses a very strident and insistent ability to voice its imminent demise.

Other items, however, are subtle enough to miss.  Take pickles.  They lurk innocently on the middle shelf of my cold box, carefully sealed and contained inside a glass jar and hidden far back from the front so that the growth of scary pickle-fuzz can go unchecked for an alarmingly long period of time.

Likewise in the pantry, there are sealed cans and boxes of things such as bread crumbs, soup or couscous that appear perfectly fine right up until the moment I pick them up and squint at the expiration date that’s fading from age on the side of an otherwise normal looking package.  I am apparently in need of one of those smart kitchens where everything is micro chipped and the kitchen CPU sends a text to my phone when the package of dry navy beans I procured with the intention of making soup is about to petrify.

Regardless, today was cleanout day.  I knew it had been coming for a while.  I have in particular been eyeing that mysterious and half hidden shelf in the fridge that contains items like jelly for quite some time with a growing sense of suspicion.

Ted and I tackled it together: me planted on a stool in front of the chill chest and he at the sink, running interference between the garbage disposal and an increasingly overflowing trash can.

I pride myself on having, at any given time, a fairly good working knowledge of what ingredients are available in my kitchen and awaiting their turn at being food.  Which is why it was such an absolute horror to me to find so much that I’d utterly forgotten was there.  The big winner (or loser?) was a can of soup which had expired in 2004.  Since Ted and I purchased our house close to that date, this means that I must have packed up and moved this can from my old apartment into the new place – and in all this time still managed never to consider eating it.  I also remain mystified as to how I managed to obtain three separate boxes of expired corn starch when I do not (except on very rare occasions) ever bake anything.

I hate throwing away food, I absolutely hate it.  People in this bountiful country go hungry each and every day and my own family (although financially stable) doesn’t have spare cash to throw away or waste.  Spoiled food to me is just that – throwing away money.

These things are embarrassing to admit, but before everyone swears off ever eating at my house again – no, I am not one of those terrifying food hoarders you see on TV with a fridge full of molding items.  When I notice an expiration date I throw away promptly and yes I keep my fridge and pantry free of dust and sticky food debris – it’s simply that I’ve apparently been failing to notice the dates on far too many things.

Also, I obviously have had way too much food in my possession, more than I can eat before it goes bad.  This is, in my opinion, inexcusable.

When Ted and I were finished the grim task our pantry and fridge looked immaculate.  Neatly organized and free of a single thing that wasn’t fit and ready for immediate transformation and consumption.  At first glance the cupboards look a bit bare – but considering my goal to eat more fresh and less processed and not to waste any bites, I think being on the bare side is a good thing.  If I need to make more weekly stops at the market to obtain items for that night’s dinner then all the better for it.

Today, it feels good to say that with regards to my kitchen we can safely eat all the things.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rebranding Abercrombie & Fitch

Greg Karber's video about "re-branding" Abercrombie and Fitch has been making the rounds of late, and a copy of it wound up in my inbox for my review.

I feel a few conflicting things about this project.

Greg's heart is in the right place and I truly appreciate that this slim kid is doing something to stand up for my people.

Is this corporate CEO a mean and miserable human being?  Absolutely.  I don't think that Greg understands, however, that the only thing that separates the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch from so many other designers and owners such as those who work for Aeropostale, Hollister, The Gap and Old Navy (just to name a few) is simple honesty.  That CEO freely admitted what every one of them thinks and believes, but lack the guts to say out loud.

First of all, ALL clothing companies only hire attractive people to model their clothes, A&F is not unique in that practice.

Second of all, I could walk into any of the above named stores, and if the salespeople approach me at all it will be only with tentative confusion and a belief that I must be shopping for somebody else - because at every one of those and countless other establishments both I and my money are not welcome.  This lack of welcome is illustrated with the simple fact that none of them will carry my size, they do not want their clothes on my body, and have no interest in my business and my money - they simply let me know silently and subtly rather than broadcasting it for the world to see.

So although it's very nice that Greg is carrying on a crusade against Abercrombie and Fitch, if he really wants to fight this fight there are countless other clothing titans out there who also desperately need his attention.

Beyond that, the use of homeless people in his plan makes me... uncomfortable.  It equates to walking up to them and saying: "Here, you are undesirable, so take this."  He doesn't mean it that way, again I understand and appreciate that his heart is in the right place, but it's still what he's doing whether he realizes it or not.

Lastly, it's a deep and unfortunate irony that the kid who made the video is defending "ugly" fat people, by calling the CEO of A&F ugly.  Bullying back is not a good way to address a bully, he needs to rise above.

In my heart, I harbor a fantasy.  In that fantasy I have achieved my goal weight and am wandering the world as a fit and fabulous size ten.  Not big, not tiny, but able to shop wherever I choose.  I walk into a high end clothier who carries no size bigger than a twelve, maybe a fourteen tops.  When the bright eyed sales person comes my way, I ask them:

"Do you carry a size 2XL?"

When they tell me "no", I smile and head for the door.

In the fantasy the salesperson stops me to point out, "But you don't need that size!"

To which I respond, "No, but now that my money and business is finally good enough for you, I find that strangely - you are no longer good enough for me."  And then I sail out the door in a cloud of smugness.

It's a fantasy, I admit a silly one.

It illustrates a point though that I have made before.  I can do nothing, absolutely nothing to really change the way these designers discriminate against undesirable clientele by silently in most cases (and loudly in this one) declaring that our money is unwanted because our bodies are not the shape that those designers want wearing their pretty things.

I can do nothing because I have no choice but to not shop at these places.  My rejecting them is about as useful as a black person in the segregation era refusing to ride on a bus that's designated for "whites only".  You can't buoycott something that won't let you in in the first place.

The only people who have power in this situation are the slim, desirable customers that these stores and designers want.  THEY have to choose not to shop at any of the myriad places that discriminate and hand pick their customers based on appearance.

But... why would they do that?  It probably feels very good to part of that club.

By writing this I realize I am making a plea to the slender: know where you are shopping, and who you are giving your money to.  If this video outrages you, don't go buy up used Abercombie and Fitch clothing and give it away to people YOU have decided are undesirable.  Just think very carefully about what kind of people you are supporting before you spend your clothes shopping dollars.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meat Candy

Me: "I think I may have just stumbled upon the cure for PMS."

Husband: "Oh?  What is it?"

Me: "Chocolate dipped bacon."

Husband: "You have PMS?"

Me: "Not anymore."

Seriously though... I tried making this tonight as a Mother's Day treat for our family dinner tomorrow.  It is all that everyone promised you it would be, and more.  It also has no business appearing on a blog about weight loss and health but... I mean... c'mon... I am not advocating making or eating this every day, or every week, or every month.  Once a year on a special occasion will do just fine.  Sometimes there are moments in life when something just NEEDS to be enjoyed for the simple sake of enjoyment.  This is one of them.


Lay bacon strips (cut in half) on a wire rack on a baking sheet and place in a cold oven.
Turn oven on to 400 degrees.
Bake for 25 minutes or until bacon is well cooked, but still pliable.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, also pat with paper towels.
Melt chocolate of your preference in a double boiler.
Dip strips and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Harden in the freezer for ten minutes.

Bad for nutrition, but good for soul.