Thursday, November 17, 2016

Want To Know Why We're So Fat?

I think by now, we've all noticed that obesity is a HUGE problem -- not just in this country but world wide. It's pretty safe to say that the percentage of us that are overweight -- VERY overweight -- has been rising annually. I confess, I am overweight and I could consider myself very close to morbidly obese, I am at least one hundred pounds over my goal weight. And I accept responsibility for my actions. My weight.


Let's face it, it is not easy in this day and age to do much about that. There are so many triggers out there setting us up to fail. Yes, I know to cut down on my food intake. Get up off my fat ass and get exercise. And then...

Have you watched television lately? Do you know that at least half of the commercials on TV are food commercials. Cheeseburger restaurants hawking their wares with super sexy, half dressed and buxom women. Fried chicken restaurants with a gimmick, a different actor playing the spokesman. Bottomless containers of french fries, unending buffets at discount prices. Eat eat eat. All day. And the commercials all glitzy and glamorous, exhorting all of us to get that bang for the buck.

And when you go to those restaurants, it's all about bigger plates of food for a cheaper price. Unlimited fries with your burger. And the burgers are nothing but fat and calories and sodium. Eat eat eat!

And to make it most especially hard, let's talk money. A box lunch of two pieces of fattening fried chicken, a side of carbs, a biscuit (more carbs), and  a sugary carbonated drink -- $5.00. A super healthy salad with lean protein, lots of dark greens, a low fat vinaigrette, and a good glass of water or unsweetened iced tea -- $13 easy. Let's hear it for the dollar menu -- burgers, fries, soda, ice cream. Salad? Double that. It's ridiculous.

That's just at the fast food and sit down places. I went to the grocery store today. Buying for two weeks. Lots of lettuce, napa cabbage, raw veggies, lean chicken breasts, steal cut oats and fresh fruit, eggs to boil. All of the goodies for a low fast, high fiber, high protein, solid good diet to help me start losing weight again. ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHT DOLLARS! When I could have spent a third of that for two weeks on potatoes and chicken quarters and spaghetti and you name it. A starchy diet that would have been cheap and filling, but not good at all.

And you wonder why we have an obesity problem?

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Is Common Courtesy Going the Way of the Dodo in Politics?

I'm old enough to remember a time when political opponents knew how to act during debates. It was professional and they acted with decorum. With taste. The office of President meant something.

So, what happened?

Donald Trump has made so many misogynistic, racist comments, that we've all lost count. He managed his campaign the way he has managed his reality TV show. The more dirt, the better. The more outrageous, the more we watched. Even the media thought he was funny and didn't take him seriously. But the voters did. They still do. And even though he has managed to show his ass so many times, each time the more ridiculous, they love him. Why?

Hillary Clinton has been branded a liar and a criminal because of the Whitewater investigation, and the recent email issue. She has been blamed for the Benghazi attack on our embassy. However, Republican led investigators have cleared her each time and there is nothing anywhere to prove otherwise. While she's not exactly innocent or perfect, she still has conducted her campaign with decorum and taste, sticking to the issues and stating her policies quite succinctly. And yet, she is continually vilified. Why?

What has happened to us? While it would be easy to blame this on Trump or Clinton or the media, the truth of the matter is we are the problem. The salacious, the prurient details and we eat them up. Trump has more than proven that he has no business running for the office of President, let alone being elected. Clinton is more than qualified but has that air of entitlement that makes her seem as if she thinks she's above the law. Neither one has the trust of the American people and yet, they're all we have -- and if you think the two independent candidates are going to spoil this, please. Both of them want you to think they're excellent alternatives when they're just Trump Lite. Not to mention the fact that if you think Trump is an outsider and totally ill prepared for the job, these two make him look like a seasoned veteran.

No, this is our fault. We have solicited this behavior, rewarded it with howls of laughter and words of encouragement. The more outrageous Donald's statements and lies are, the more we encourage him to make them. We have thrived on this bad behavior. And it doesn't matter, does it. We've already had a Teflon President (Reagan), a Teflon Don (Gotti), why not the Teflon Candidate.

But do we really want him in office? And is this the wave of our political future? Is this the candidate that we want? Are we eschewing the class, professionalism, and taste of previous candidates for the bare knuckle fighting of a man who insults women and minorities for "entertainment" value?

Is common courtesy going the way of the dodo?  I hope not. It's not a world or a country that I want to live in.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

The State of the...

I have come to the conclusion that neither candidate in this upcoming Presidential race is worthy of being elected into office. I never thought I'd get to that point where I would have absolutely no faith in the party of my choice, but I have. I don't believe either candidate -- in what they do or say. And I don't believe either candidate is capable of running this country.

Donald Trump seems to think this election is s a reality TV show. His idea of debate is calling people names and acting in one of the most childish manners possible. He calls for violence at his rallies - calling for dissenters to be beaten and booted out. Proclaiming how he wanted to punch speaks at the Democratic National Convention because they spoke out against him. He thinks women should be barefoot and pregnant at home. And the supremacy of men. He speaks with racist beliefs and attracts racists and thugs. And will not speak against the ideology. He is hot tempered and impetuous. He has no regard for the truth or facts, speaking whatever he is thinking at the moment and then refusing to acknowledge that he might have been mistaken. Or claiming he never said that to begin with.

Hillary Clinton -- no one has ever been able to prove the accusations made against her. No court has ever brought her to trial except one and she and her husband were found Not Guilty and in no way part of the issue. And yet, there is something about her that just screams self-interest. I do believe she cares about children and women, about civil rights. But she's too busy buddying up to the special interests, taking their money, and she says what she thinks people want to hear. She is just as guilty of pandering to those special interests as Trump is. She's too busy with party politics as usual. Another politician that cares more about the party line, about the power, than the people. The only reason she started calling herself a progressive was because Bernie Sanders is. I don't believe her, I don't trust her, and nothing she's done yet makes me want to change my mind.

I cannot trust either candidate, I don't believe that either one is fit for the job, and I am going to refuse, this election, to pick the lesser of two evils. Which leaves me with two choices. Well, three but, I'm only going to pursue two at this point. I can write in the candidate I feel is best qualified and best serves the interests of the American people. OR I can pursue another political party all together. And since I have time to research, I think I am going to pick that choice for now. For now.

I think I'm going to research the Libertarian Party. See what they have to say. Who they are. See what their platform is and then look at the candidates running. If they meet my standards, if they sound like a viable option, then they'll have my vote. IF they meet my standards. IF they can prove to me that the people come first, not the fecking party.

Welcome to my journey.

What Am I Doing?

I started this blog some time ago, to chronicle my weight loss and self improvement program. Then, of course, life got in the way. I got busy. I'm still losing weight and I'm still working out. But I stopped blogging because of loss of time or loss of interest (mine, not any readers'). Or just lost of anything to say.

Then I realized that my life is a lot more complicated than that. I have so much more to say. Observations in the Key of Life. I am in a position to observe. And so I shall.

The purpose of a blog is to be more of a journal. I may not always know my ass from my elbow but damn it, I have a voice. And if it helps me understand this world, this population, this society, this life, then I have the right and the responsibility to put it out there. To figure it out.

Welcome back.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Small Milestone But a Big Step

I had to come here and brag. Seriously. I did something today that I haven't done in about a year. When I was working out hard and heavy BC (Before Cabaret, when rehearsals were every night and I didn't have the time and just fell out of the habit). What did I do, you ask?

I ran down a flight of steps.

I know, that doesn't sound like much but to me, that is huge.With my bad knees and no stamina, walking down a flight of steps was hard enough. Run? No. The pain was too much. I leaned on the rail to make it down, one painful step at a time. And felt my knees trying to bend backwards, my hips in mortal agony.

But I've been on the bike hard and heavy for the last three weeks. I've started more aerobic exercises along with my core exercises. Walking fast and more. Working on the muscle tone again. And I had a hand on the stair rail just to keep my balance and I ran down the steps. No pain and only a little stiff.

No, I'm not up to running on the street yet. But I ran down those steps, pretty as you please. I am so elated; you can't possibly know the joy I feel right now. And then came home and did my workout, even upped the resistance on the stationary bike two notches.

I'm going to go enjoy my victories now. And trust me when I tell you, that just gave me much more incentive to keep going. Keep adding more resistance and more reps. This time next year, I want to be at least eighty pounds down. I know I can do it now!

Do you have any fitness goals? How's your progress?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Popping Wheelies

Well, as promised -- and only a week later than planned -- I have increased the workout a bit. Building slowly, working on the core.

20 minutes on the stationary bike
3 sets of 15 -- faux medicine ball pass (aka side to side twists with a weight*
1 set of 15 -- crunches
1 set of 15 -- reverse crunches
1 set of 15 -- cobras
1 set -- I don't even know what to call them. it's a yoga pose where you sit cross legged and twist so that you can look over your shoulder for 6 breaths
1 set of 15 -- pelvic lifts (lay on your back with your feet flat and your knees up and lift your butt off the floor, squeezing it and applying tension to your abs)
1 plank of 20 seconds

Wow, that sounds like a lot when I type it out like that. Considering that I'm starting from scratch, that is a lot. My stomach is in a little bit of pain from the overwork -- but it's a good pain and I earned it the hard way, thanks!

The only bad part about this is dealing with the speeding up of my metabolism. Which makes me hungry. I've got to lay in a supply of no starch, now sugar, low calorie snacks to nosh on until this phase goes away. Until things equalize and things settle down inside. I hate that part. I remember going on the South Beach diet for a while and spent the first week wolfing down anything and everything I could get my hands on -- raw celery, tomatoes, cucumbers. My metabolism kicked into overdrive because of the lack of sugar and starch and I stayed hungry. So I ate a lot of raw veggies which helped but didn't really give me a sense of satiety. After a week, things evened out and I was okay again. Losing weight at a better rate of 2 - 3  pounds a week instead of the 20 I lost in those first two weeks.

Of course, I should also mention that the second week of that diet, I walked around with the taste of mac and cheese in my mouth, craving it like you would not believe. I dreamed of mac and cheese. That too lasted for a week, but it damn near killed me.

Ah well. I'll live through this week -- and lay off the caffeine because that will not help in the least -- and be back on track. Getting healthy and fit.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Crave A...

Well, I can't find it now but I found an article online yesterday with this headline -- Seven Foods Not To Eat If You Want To Lose Weight. I read it. And I suppose on one hand, it did make sense. At the same time, however, it got my attention and I sat there thinking, that's just total bullshit. I mean, really. My Mom -- and a long ago family doctor -- taught us that when you crave something it's because your body needs an element that's in that food you crave.

I have a problem with some dietitian telling me that I can't eat pasta or I can't eat fruit. When did this whole issue of eating healthy or losing weight come down to deprivation and having to learn to live without things I love. What nonsense. I'm supposed to learn the right way to eat for my metabolism by giving up butter and potatoes and fruit? That is so totally absurd.

What they should be teaching you is how to listen to your body -- I don't really like diet soda. It's way too sweet and it tastes like the aluminum can it comes in. Even when it comes in a bottle, it tastes like aluminum. I don't like margarine. It's just whipped up oil with artificial flavoring. I don't eat starchy stuff -- corn, potatoes, rice, etc. It makes me feel sludgy and slow. Same thing with fast food. Eat it every day and I feel like I've been weighed down with rocks. When I listen to my body, it says I don't like that stuff. I don't eat it and I feel better and I actually lose weight. I feel better.

What they should be teaching you is a lovely thing called moderation. I have a great book in my collection called The Underburner's Diet by Dr. Barbara Edelstein. She teaches, in the book, that if you flat out deprive yourself of something, you fixate on it. You obsess over it. And eventually, you get the object of your obsession and over eat. Or you eat something else and still over eat. She says, if you crave a cookie, just have the damn cookie. ONE cookie. While it's still just a small craving.

I thought, that just makes too much sense. Moderation in all things. I want a cup of hot chocolate, I have a cup of hot chocolate. I'm craving the hot chocolate because there's something in it that my body needs. So have it. One cup. One small cup. One cookie. One quarter cup of mac and cheese. One. One small serving. You have your desire, you fulfill your craving, and it's over. Moderation.

Why can't someone teach that? Smaller servings allows you to enjoy a few bites of something forbidden and you stay on the culinary lifestyle change -- aka, diet. You're healthier. And get up and move. Go take a long walk in the fresh air and sunshine. Go take a bike ride. If working out at the gym is your thing, go do that. Go play golf. Enjoy your life.

Stop worrying about what you shouldn't have and what you should cut out of your food intake. Have a damn cookie. Enjoy a small amount of potatoes au gratin. Quit obsessing. I'll lose the weight. I'll get healthy. And I'll be happier for it because I didn't have to give up anything.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Keep On Keepin' On

Note to self - when you've not done something for a while, it would well behoove you to take things slow until you're back up to that level of butt kicking.

I'm up to about 30 - 40 minutes of riding the bike before my butt feels like it's about to be lifted and separated. I really need a new bike seat. But the added bonus was doing the medicine jug (a gallon milk jug filled with water -- weighs about 10 pound, give or take) I don't have a partner to do a medicine ball pass, so I fake it by holding the jug and twisting with it. Got a little too vigorous and came close to throwing up. Had to call it a day, sit down and drink some water. But, hey, I've added some time and reps and that's good. I'm on my way.

Next week, I'll add a few things to the routine. Since, right now, the core is my focus, I'll be adding some cobra reps, some crunches, and some reverse crunches -- 2 reps of 15 on each. I'll also add a plank, holding that as long as I can. If can I can do at least 3 for 20 seconds each. If I can do that, I'm gold.  If I'm going to add that, I'll need to warm up properly -- not just the bike but some yoga. I think Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, and Child Pose. Technically, the Cobra is a yoga pose too, but...

I'm also thinking of making some vegetarian chili for this weekend. Pretty easy stuff to make really.

Jesse's Vegetarian Chili

1 can of chili beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of garbanzo beans, drain and rinsed
1 head of celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 pound of mushrooms, diced
3 - 4 cups of canned and diced tomatoes with the juice
2 tbs of olive, canola, or peanut oil
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs cocoa powder

Chop the onion and celery into a dice. Set your burner on medium high and add the oil, then saute your onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Open the cans of beans into a colander or mesh strainer and rinse them in cold water until all of the brine is washed off. Add all remaining ingredients and spices to the pot and turn the heat down to medium. Cover and let cook for at least 30 - 40 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

 I'm not supposed to have pasta and bread and other refined starches. So, my idea of pasta would be a lovely zucchini through one of those spiral cutting tools. Steaming the zucchini leaves the fiber intact while cooking off any sugar or starch in the veggie. You can also use spaghetti squash.

Plate it up with the veggie noodles and the chili. Yes, I'm going to add cheese. An ounce or two of sharp cheddar isn't going to kill anyone. But if you've been making your own yogurt, a tablespoon of plain yogurt instead of sour cream.

I'm talking NOMS!!

And now, off to shower! Laters, gators.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Back In the Saddle Again

Yes, I am. I gave myself the weekend and got back up on that dang horsie. When you put your mind to something, you really can make it happen. And I want this enough that I am going to do it.

The yogurt turned out amazing. And I had bought a couple of packages of cheesecloth instead of using the muslin cloth I have. Baby, I'm here to tell you that whey came pouring out. What I have is now more akin to yogurt cheese but still tastes divine. I'm going to be getting another gallon of milk this weekend. I go through it that fast. But also because If you make a gallon of yogurt and put it in cheesecloth to strain off the whey for Greek style, you end up with about 2/3 of the gallon of yogurt. A bit less if you do the yogurt cheese thing, which is the consistency of cream cheese. Yes, I eat it that fast too.

What can you do with it? Plain yogurt is actually better for you. Like I said, last time, when you buy those flavored, fruity yogurt packages at the store, the cultures are dead because of the fruit and mostly, the gelatin they put in it to stiffen it up. If you start with plain yogurt and add the stuff, you still get the live cultures going and that is so much better in taste and freshness. With the big craze over "probiotics", eating plain yogurt is the best probiotic you can do.

I make a faux mayonnaise for sandwiches by taking a cup of yogurt and adding a cap of a good vinegar and an 1/8th of a teaspoon of turmeric -- both are the active tastes in mayo. Mix that all together and you can't tell the difference. Well, I can't. Less fat, less calories, guilt free. You really don't need a whole lot of vinegar -- an 1/8th of a teaspoon there too.

I love Indian food and I'm getting into making that at home. A lot of masalas and curries call for plain yogurt to thicken and add that flavor. Find some good recipes and you'll have some seriously healthy good eating. Indian food is also heavy on turmeric, which is good for so much -- from joint problems to heart health, circulatory health, metabolism and weight loss, you name it -- and add the yogurt to that? Dietary gold.

But if you like flavored yogurts, this is the time to get a few small mason jars -- the decorative ones you use for canning jelly. If you make your own jellies and jams, you're ten steps ahead of me. But I love that Polaner All Fruit or any jelly/jam that doesn't add sugar but uses natural fruit juices to sweeten. Put a tablespoon in the bottom of that jar, add yogurt and cap it. Make enough for a week and you don't have to worry about it. Pull the jar, take the spoon to stir it all together, and then eat the best stuff you can possibly have.

But my favorite is a recipe I found on a box of sugar free hot chocolate mix. 3/4 of a cup of plain yogurt and an envelope sugar free hot chocolate mix and stir them together. Chocolate yogurt. Talk about a guilt free chocoholic's dream. I've been known to have that for breakfast and after dinner as desert. The absolute best, trust me.


Breakfast -- 2 boiled eggs, 3/4 cup of chocolate yogurt

Lunch -- Cheeseburger with salad (with my really low calorie intake right now, I can get away with it. Even with the 6 onion rings, lunch still only came to about 600 calories)

Dinner -- Steamed leg/thigh quarter with steamed broccoli

Dessert? Probably not. If I get hungry again, later, I'll have some more chocolate yogurt. Maybe.


20 minutes on the stationary bike, low speed
10 minutes of yoga (mild stuff, Cat pose, Mountain Pose, some stretches)
5 minutes of side to side twists with my version of a medicine ball (a plastic gallon milk jug filled with water)

I am back on track!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Didn't last a day...

You'll have to forgive me -- I'm typing around a cat. I'll try to curb any typos I make and fix 'em. But she's just so darn cute laying in my lap like this.

I did not even last a day -- but in my defense, it was the holiday. I mean, as far as diet is concerned, I was keeping up on my baked chicken and fish but then the New Year arrived and we had inventory...and I'm whining. Truth is, I got very self-indulgent and fell off the wagon. Okay, it happens. Instead of beating myself up over it, I am just going to get back up on it and work harder.

So, today, I am making yogurt. I found a recipe online and adapted it a bit. And I've been making my own. Once you get it down, the price to make your own goes down to the price of a gallon of milk. For the first time, however, you're paying for the gallon and the starter.

All you need is a crock pot (slow cooker, whatever you call it), a wire or plastic whisk, and a small blanket. That's it for the hardware. Unless you want your yogurt to be Greek Style and then you'll need some cheesecloth - any local fabric store or Walmart will have that. And it's cheap.

For the ingredients, you need a gallon of milk and about a cup of plain yogurt. It must be plain. You can't use just any yogurt because only the plain will still have live cultures in it. Flavored yogurts kill the cultures off with the fruit and the gelatin they put in to thicken it. Read the label!! It should say "Plain" on the front and the ingredients will list "live cultures". You can also buy cultures online or at specialty shops. But you don't have to. Plain yogurt is just as good and cheaper.

Now, this is going to be a bit time consuming but so worth it in the end.

First, turn your crock pot on high and pour your gallon of milk in it. Cover it up and go away. For about 90 ,minutes to 2 hours. Any bacteria or what have you that is still in the milk is going to get killed off.

After that amount of time has elapsed, go back and turn off the crock pot and just unplug it. Let your milk cool down until you can put your finger in and not jerk it back out. It should still be nice and warm, not quite so hot that it's gonna hurt. But you want it about 105 degrees -- and that's how I measure. I can put my little finger in there and it's still hot but not so hot that I'm in pain. Think of it as about as warm as you would stand in the shower under. Or, get a thermometer. 105 is the sweet spot. How long? About another 2 hours.

About an hour or so before that, go put your cup of yogurt in a bowl with a lid on it and let it sit on the counter. Yogurt goes in the fridge to keep it from going bad but also to put the little cultures to sleep. Otherwise, they'll keep doing the yogurt thing until it's so bitter, you can't eat it. You want them to wake up to do their yogurt thing -- about give them about 30 - 45 minutes on the counter to do just that. Bring the yogurt up to room temp.

When you're ready, temper the yogurt with spoonfuls of the hot milk. A bit at a time and whisking as you ad the milk. Then, when the yogurt/milk mixture is nice and warm, pour it slowly into the crock pot, whisking to combine in the remainder of the milk. Once it's all combined, put the lid back on and cover the crock pot with the blanket.

That's it. Leave it all alone for about 8 - 9 hours. You can do this at night and leave it to do it's yogurt thang until the next morning. After 8 - 9 hours, you can take the blanket off and open the lid and voila! You have plain yogurt. I would suggest taking the insert and putting it in the fridge for another 8 hours. Don't stir it, don't do anything. Just let it sit in the fridge and put those cultures back to sleep. Another thing you can do overnight. Make it all day and then let it sit in the fridge overnight. You definitely want to let it rest.

The last thing is if you want Greek Style yogurt. Get yourself a nice sieve or colander and line either with about 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth. Pour your yogurt -- in one batch or batches -- and let it sit in the fridge for 2 - 4 hours. You'll need a large enough pot to suspend your sieve or colander over so that it sits up out of the amount of whey that's going to strain out. Have nice clean containers to store your yogurt in and you're ready to eat and enjoy.

Next time -- recipes you can use your yogurt in.

No exercise or dietary info today. Although, I am being good. I promise. Next time, there will be.