23 points a day

October 31, 2009

On Weight Watchers y0u get a certain amount of “points” that you can consume each day.  It’s based on your current weight, what type of work you do, your age and whether or not your are breast-feeding.  It’s called your “points target” and you MUST eat all of those points everyday.  On top of that is your weekly points allowance (or as my leader Ellen likes to call it, weekly pleasure allowance!) of 35 points that you can use for the fun foods, alcohol, and/or larger portions of the food you are eating.  When I started out doing WW I was allowed a whopping 26 points a day.  As you lose weight, you lose points and last year on my birthday I had a rude awakening.   Not only did I lose a point due to weight loss (woohoo!) I aged a year, so I went from one age box to the next and I lost another point.  So in one week I went from 25 to 23.  It was brutal.

I’ve never really been able to master the 23 points a day.  I’ve tried to break it down by meal: breakfast 3 points, 2 point snack, 6 point lunch, 2 point snack, then 10 for dinner.  It was not working.  All I’ve done in the year of 2009 is struggle and gain weight.  Since my lightest, I’m up a total of 8lbs.  I’m not thrilled about it and part of why I started this blog was to get some momentum going and have accountability so that I had to lose weight.  Unfortunately, I keep losing and gaining, and yo-yo-ing back and forth.

This week, after my first weigh-in since September I was up 3lbs and sadly went up a point.  I didn’t realize it until I input my weight on the WW website and it automatically changed it.  At first I thought, “maybe I shouldn’t take the point and still eat 23 a day?”  I could hear my leader Ellen saying in my ear, “Follow the Program”.  So I decided to go with the 24 for this week and see how it goes.

Now that I’m a few days into my week and tracking my foods everyday, I am noticing how amazing it is to have that extra point!  I know it sounds silly that one point would make a difference, but it’s like a cushion of comfort that is allowing me to actually stay within my daily range.  I’m using some of my WPA everyday (as I always do) but not as many as I do when I’m eating 23 points and I don’t feel as hungry.  My downfall this past year has been the weekends.  I track every work day and then Friday comes and I saw, “awwww screw it!” and eat whatever I want, kinda.  Maybe since I’m kinda hungry all week with only 23 points, I’m blowing it every weekend to make up for it.  It’s a theory!

Let’s see how it goes next week when I weigh-in.  This might be something to discuss with Ellen if I lose and feel like I can continue losing by eating 24 points a day.

Goal for this week: write the blog everyday, track EVERYTHING I eat, and save some WPA for the Halloween party I’m going to on Saturday.  I’ll let you know how I make out.

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The Marie/Julia Project

October 30, 2009

I saw Julie and Julia this summer and immediately went to my local book store to find Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I also started this blog.  I couldn’t find a copy of Mastering after visiting 2 Barnes and Noble and the pretentious book store on Court Street.  Oh well.   Instead I read Julia’s book, My Life in France which I just finished while doing a production of Candide at the Heights Players.  The plot of Candide takes the audience thru Spain, Portugal, Germany, Bavaria and Surinam (among others in Europe) and I loved reading about the exotic locations Candide and Julia were in while I was backstage in a serving wench costume. 

I’ve been to Europe, but only 2 times, and the first was in September of 2001.  The world went from normal to completely changed forever while I was in Florence, Italy.  The second time was only for a day.  Ran and I spent the day in Prague last summer on our way to Israel.  I hate to report that we ate pizza.  So sad!  We did have beer though and that seemed to be a bit more authentic to the city.  So even with my limited time in Europe I could start to understand why Julia fell in love with France and the French way of cooking.  It’s so unbelievable to think of all the butter they used and all the cheese and all the heavy cream!  But it was a different world in the 1960’s when Mastering was first published.  There were no Wal-Marts in Europe so people still went to a butcher for meat, a fishmonger for fish, a cheese shop for cheese.  Now we live in the era of mega-marts.  Not just of the Wal variety, but also Stop N Shop, Wegman’s, and even my beloved Fairway! 

Where I live in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn we have 2 butchers, a cheese shop, a fishmonger, and many cafe’s where one can plug in a laptop, enjoy a coffee and write their blog.  Food is so trendy right now with many celebrity chefs on TV showing us how to do it under 30 minutes or semi-homemade.  Back when Julia was on TV there were no other cooking shows.  I recently caught her show on PBS last weekend and it was in black and white and shot in one go.  The whole 30 minute show was done in one long continuous shot.  She was so charismatic and had such personality that it made the show interesting even if visually it was a bit dull.  I watched Julia spit roast a chicken and concoct a boullabaise with fish that I had never even heard of!

Finally I got a copy of Mastering as a gift from Ran and started to read thru it.  Of course I looked for the obvious recipes like the Beouf Bourguignonne first.  But then I started reading from the very beginning and found out a couple of things I didn’t already know from my years of Food Network watching.  Like, you should dry off the meat before you cook it with paper towels so that it will brown better.

Then, I embarked on some recipes.  First, Oeufs en Cocotte which were deliciously decadent.  Eggs baked in a ramekin with dollops of whipping cream and butter.  I made them as a dinner entree along with some side dishes.  We enjoyed it despite the fact that it took me twice the cooking time to get it right.  My stove isn’t as strong maybe?  I even used less of the whipping cream than the recipe called for because I couldn’t fathom using the whole thing no matter what Julia says!  Then Aigo Bouido or Garlic Soup.  I had to try it becuase I love garlic and it seemed pretty easy.  Some of the recipes are way too advanced for me at this point and need loads of ingredients that I don’t have in my pantry.  Money and time are still considerations when cooking dinner. 

Sidenote: this was one of my Boeufs with Julie and Julia.  Julie Powell was living in a shitty walk up in Queens but could afford the ingredeints for Lobster Thermidor and Boeuf Bourguignonne twice! Unbelievable!

Garlic soup was tasty.  I made garlic bread to go with it and it was a nice accompaniment to dinner one night.  Didn’t reheat well the next day and I was bummed when it looked like salad dressing that had come apart into oil and water. 

We also tried Sauce Bechamel twice and added cheese to it to make a quick macaroni and cheese.  There are few things in life I love more than macaroni and cheese, especially one with Swiss, Cheddar, Parmigiano Orreggiano and Blue Cheese melted into it.

The untold story here is that I was enjoying a few weeks of not counting points on Weight Watchers.  I had fallen off the wagon and was so busy with Candide and working full time that I let WW be the thing that got left by the wayside.  I went back to my Monday meeting this week and was greeting by a 3lb gain.  Alright, it sucks.  I had my usual moment of “what the hell have I done?”  I beat myself up and I start to feel like the world is ending over 3lbs.  The moment passed and then I thought, “wow I really enjoyed cooking those meals and eating them with Ran.”  I was on a food staycation!  I didn’t go anywhere exotic, but I ate exotic foods and took a break from the WW life.  I’ve lived to tell the tale!  I’m not thrilled about the 3lbs, I would have much rather prayed really hard to the WW scale Gods and been even or only up a pound.  But then it wouldn’t really be a wake up call, would it? 

I’ll still make Julia’s recipes.  I will omit the extra fat where I can and probably no one will know the difference. Even Julia herself would say that French food had to be eaten in moderation.  She was concerned about her and her husbands weight and health too.  So for now, Bon Appetite! and I’ll let you know how I do next Monday on the dreaded scales!

Those of you who know me, know that I enjoy a little shopping on both QVC and HSN now and then.  I find the whole idea fascinating, and always have.  Even as a child, I was obsessed with infomercials.  I’d rather watch that Sandra Lee curtain infomercial than Saturday morning cartoons.  Come to think of it, it was kind of bizarre: a 7 year old obsessively watching 30 minute long commercials instead of Babar?  Weird.

But maybe not.  My father is a salesman thru and thru.  (Here come the Willy Loman references…I swear I’m not Biff).  Growing up around Bob “I could sell ice to eskimos” Ingrisano was definitely a lesson in how to sell.  Right out of college I landed in retail and found out for myself that I was a natural sales person.  This was something Bob was always telling me.  Well played, Dad.

Now that I have a “non-selling” focused job in cosmetics, I find I somehow miss it.  Last year the brand of skincare I work for was being featured on QVC and I was encouraged to watch it for research purposes.  Most of the beauty stuff is boring to me because I don’t buy it (I sell my own line of cosmetics and skincare) and because I’ve worked in the cosmetics industry forever, it’s no longer interesting to me.  But the cooking shows!  and the jewelry!  and the home solutions!  and the FOOD! Oh, it’s just too much for words!

I grant you, buying food off of the TV is slightly ridiculous.  Here’s my defense.  A lot of it, is healthy.  I can read the nutrition information of any of it before deciding to buy and read a slew of reviews on it before making up my mind.  This is a perfect combination for a devote Weight Watcher-er.

Some of my favorites:

Kansas City Steaks and Burgers: stay away from the 3 cheese burger if you want low fat, but the steaks are delish and come individually wrapped so you can just make one (and just eat one) without having to defrost a lot.

Stuffin Gourmet Chicken Breasts:  these breaded chicken breasts are only 5 points per serving!  Hello!  This is awesome.  They also come individually wrapped so you can only make one at a time.  My husband will eat them and that’s a good sign (he won’t eat anything labelled low-fat).  Plus, you can cook them from frozen.  This is so important because how many times have I gone into my fridge looking for dinner fixins only to find I have nothing defrosted?  What do you think happens next?  Papa John’s delivery – not a healthy choice.   This way, even if I have nothing planned for dinner I’m only 20 minutes away from a healthy chicken breast.  **Tonight I was planning on roasting a chicken, but it wasn’t defrosted, so I whipped up some risotto and made 3 of these chicken breasts.  It was very well received and ordering pizza didn’t even cross my mind.**

Salmon Burgers: also 5 points and very tasty.  A salmon burger on a WW bun amounts to 7 points and that’s totally doable for dinner or lunch.  I’ve also eaten them with a salad and skipped the bun altogether.  These aren’t individually wrapped but can be cooked from frozen.

Sensible Snacks Dried Fruit: at only 2 points a bag, this is a good alternative to 100 calorie packs (which I live off of).  Only dried fruit included in the bag (literally NO other ingredients) and it’s usually a nice blend of either tropical fruits or berries.  Haven’t tried it yet in yogurt, but I have heard thats good.  You can also put them in cereal.  Gotta get those fruit servings in somehow!

I’m not trying to sell you on any of this (hell, I don’t make a commision).  I’m just saying that sometimes you have to think outside the box to find products to help you reach your goal.  Losing weight and mainting your weight is definitely a battle between good and evil.  Chicken breast good, Papa John’s evil.  QVC has helped me buy more of the good and less of the evil.  Don’t get me wrong, QVC has PLENTY of un-healthy foods too, Junior’s Cheesecake Auto-Delivery anyone?  But I’m seeking out the healthy, convenient stuff because I know it will aid me in reaching my goal.

My other trick is to buy groceries on Fresh Direct sometimes.  That way I don’t make any impulse purchases and I can agonize over the shopping list if I like.  This seems to help me not over buy or buy shit just to open the package and start eating in the grocery store. Tragic.

Ok, here’s my secret that I’m ashamed to tell you about HSN.  I bought the Frank Sepe Fitness Disc! I know, I know, it looks so stupid, but I saw the before and after pictures and I just had to try it.  Plus it was like $80 which is less than 2 months of gym membership.  I’ve done it a couple of times, and I’ll tell ya, after a ten minute work out you are definitely feeling the burn in your muscles.  It’s low impact for sure, but I feel my muscles working so that’s good enough for me.  Also, it hardly takes up any space.  It’s going to be dark and cold soon when I get home from work, and the last thing I want to do is get changed and go to the gym some nights.  If I can at least do some time on the fitness disc, I’m doing more than sitting on the couch eating bon-bons.

I guess the only thing that comes more naturally to me than selling is buying!

And that’s ok when you’re buying the things that are going to help you make healthier choices and make a positive change in your life.  This is the defense for all the WW stuff they sell at meetings.  Some of it is good, some of it is a crutch and it’s up to you to decide which is which.  I think my QVC purchases are leaning more towards help than crutch.  I do admit, though, that packaged foods are usually loaded with mystery ingredients and tons of sodium.  So, I’ll approach it like I approach the fitness disc.  It’s not going to replace the gym, but it will supplement the gym and have me at least doing a mini-workout than no workout at all.

This is a step in the right direction.  Look, you’re not going to become a gym rat over night or a gourmet organic cook overnight, you gotta start somewhere.  That’s what I’m gonna do.

My friend Evan has a VERY successful blog of his own, www.swanfungus.com that is hyseterically funny and often has lots of pictures of food, which I love.  He did a great piece on the Gilroy Garlic Festival that really made me want to book my hotel for 2010 festival now!  Evan and I met up last weekend in NYC and we discussed among  many things, how to write a blog that people will read. 

Now, you know that I’m off facebook (see The Death of Facebook, scroll down) and that was usually my best way of promoting the blog.  I’ll continue to post it on Ran’s profile in the interim, but I’ve gotta find a way to survive without the ‘book.

So to follow Evan’s advice I’m going to post something new everyday.  Can’t promise what time it’ll happen, but I’m going to do it every 24 hour period.  I’m sure sometimes it’ll be brilliant, and other it will be crap.  But maybe this will finally make up for the fact that I didn’t do any of the exercises in “The Artist’s Way” in college.

If you want to stay connected you can also follow the blog on Twitter @affairwitcheese or become a fan of my facebook page “My Love Affair With Cheese.”

All in all, I can’t thank you enough for reading my little stories here.  It means so much to me to hear that you’re reading and enjoying it. 

Here’s a quote, “He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.”  ~Arabic Proverb

Calorie Postings

October 27, 2009

I personally LOVE the calorie postings in chain restaurants here in New York City.  Finally, we can make a somewhat informed decision about what we are ordering and eating.  I think back to a time when I was still learing the ropes of Weight Watchers and ordered a “rainbow cookie” at Starbucks to go with my non-fat Chai Latte (3 points).  It’s basically a chocolate chip cookie that uses M&Ms instead of chocolate chips, thus giving it a colorful “rainbow” appearance.  It was rather large, but I had plenty of my weekly points (or pleasure) allowance left, so I went for it.  How many points could it be, six?  I could handle that.  I had my latte and my cookie and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then, I got home and went on the Starbucks website…drum roll please…10 points!  10 points for a stupid cookie!  For 13 points I could’ve had a Big Mac and considering I had the latte with it (for 3 points) I basically DID have the equivalent of a Big Mac.  Ridonculous.  Shame on them.

I don’t order that cookie anymore, or really ANYTHING at Fatbucks.  Capitalist pigs!  Oink, oink.

Anyway, here’s some supposed “findings” on how the calorie posting are working out in low-income areas.  We really need to find a way to deliver good food to the lower class that is affordable.  One guy says he’s just looking for the cheapest meal possible.  Sad.  Especially when that’s 2 cheeseburgers at McDonald’s for $2.

October 6, 2009

Calorie Postings Don’t Change Habits, Study Finds

By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS excerpted from The New York Times

 

A study of New York City’s pioneering law on posting calories in restaurant chains suggests that when it comes to deciding what to order, people’s stomachs are more powerful than their brains.  The study, by several professors at New York University and Yale, tracked customers at four fast-food chains — McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken — in poor neighborhoods of New York City where there are high rates of obesity.

It found that about half the customers noticed the calorie counts, which were prominently posted on menu boards. About 28% of those who noticed them said the information had influenced their ordering, and 9 out of 10 of those said they had made healthier choices as a result.  But when the researchers checked receipts afterward, they found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect, in July 2008.

The findings, to be published Tuesday in the online version of the journal Health Affairs come amid the spreading popularity of calorie-counting proposals as a way to improve public health across the country.

“I think it does show us that labels are not enough,” Brian Elbel, an assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine and the lead author of the study, said in an interview.

New York City was the first place in the country to require calorie posting, making it a test case for other jurisdictions. Since then, California, Seattle and other places have instituted similar rules.

Calorie posting has even entered the national health care reform debate, with a proposal in the Senate to require calorie counts on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants. This study focused primarily on poor black and Hispanic fast-food customers in the South Bronx, central Brooklyn, Harlem, Washington Heights and the Rockaways in Queens, and used a similar population in Newark, which does not have a calorie posting law, as a control group. The locations were chosen because of a high proportion of obesity and diabetes among poor minority populations.

The researchers collected about 1,100 receipts, two weeks before the calorie posting law took effect and four weeks after. Customers were paid $2 each to hand over their receipts.

For customers in New York City, orders had a mean of 846 calories after the labeling law took effect. Before the law took effect, it was 825 calories. In Newark, customers ordered about 825 calories before and after.

On Monday, customers at the McDonald’s on 125th Street near St. Nicholas Avenue provided anecdotal support for the findings.  William Mitchell, from Rosedale, Queens, who was in Harlem for a job interview, ordered two cheeseburgers, about 600 calories total, for $2.

When asked if he had checked the calories, he said: “It’s just cheap, so I buy it. I’m looking for the cheapest meal I can.” Tameika Coates, 28, who works in the gift shop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ordered a Big Mac, 540 calories, with a large fries, 500 calories, and a large Sprite, 310 calories. “I don’t really care too much,” Ms. Coates said. “I know I shouldn’t, ’cause I’m too big already,” she added with a laugh.

April Matos, a 24-year-old family specialist, bought her 3-year-old son, Amari, a Happy Meal with chicken McNuggets, along with a Snack Wrap for herself. She said with a shrug that she had no interest in counting calories. “Life is short,” she said, adding that she used to be a light eater. “I started eating everything now I’m pregnant.”

Nutrition and public health experts said the findings showed how hard it was to change behavior, but they said it was not a reason to abandon calorie posting.  One advocate of calorie posting suggested that low-income people were more interested in price than calories.

“Nutrition is not the top concern of low-income people, who are probably the least amenable to calorie labeling,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group in Washington.

New York City health officials said that because the study was conducted immediately after the law took effect, it might not have captured changes in people’s behavior that have taken hold more gradually.

A year ago, officials pointed out, the city began an advertising campaign telling subway riders that most adults should eat about 2,000 calories a day, which might put the calorie counts in context.

While the N.Y.U. study examined 1,100 restaurant receipts, the city is doing its own analysis of 12,000 restaurant receipts, which it plans to release in a few months, said Cathy Nonas, director of nutrition programs for the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

People sometimes confuse intentions with actions, said Marie Roth, a registered dietitian with Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y.  “Just by contemplating healthier choices, they feel like they could have done it and maybe they will the next time,” Ms. Roth said.

 

The Death of Facebook.

October 22, 2009

Yes, I did it. I deactivated my facebook account. I’m not the first, certainly not the last to do it. I’ve freed myself from the social networking chains that I’ve held onto for almost 2 years.

I owe facebook a debt of gratitude because it was some poorly placed photos of me on f’book that actually led me to begin my weight loss journey back in February of 2008. I saw my huge belly hanging over a pair of already size 14 jeans, my full face, and decided, I could no longer live this way. I signed up for Weight Watchers immediately.

But since then, facebook has become this albatross hanging around my neck. I don’t want to be friends with everyone I went to high school with, or elementary school with, or work with, or people I barely even know. I realize that this might sound terrible of me, because, I admit, there is a part of me that wants to know what happened to so-and-so and reconnect with my long lost buddies from Carey High. I got to do that with a few people, but there were also plenty of people who’s names I didn’t recall and some who I wondered, “how do THEY remember ME?” Geez. My friend list grew to over 400 people including my parents, my 16 year old sister (I never could understand any of her posts) and countless former classmates who now regaled me with their stories of hating work, having babies, and getting married. Snore.

I think my favorite thing about no longer being on f’book is that I don’t have to report on my life anymore. I don’t have to post “sitting on the couch with my baby watching the Yankee game”, which, let’s admit, sounds pretty lame. If I read a post like that I’d dream up an entire story of that person’s life (because remember, I don’t really “know” the person anymore) and how totally gay it is that she’s sitting at home watching a game with her “baby” (again, lame) and has totally lost her sense of self in a relationship with some Yankee fan. Meanwhile, I am actually sitting on my couch with my husband watching the Yankees game. Judge away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about deactivating f’book because I had a few shitty experiences on there that I figured I didn’t need in my life. Being “defriended”, finding out intimate details about an ex-boyfriend and just the general complaining that was going on there, was just too much negativity for me to sign up for.

The one good thing about f’book is that it helped me launch this blog and get plenty of readers for it. For that and the fat pictures of me, I’m grateful.

But I can’t read another post about how much “you fucking hate law school” or how much “you miss your husband when he’s away on business trips” or how “your fantasy football team RULZ”.

I don’t want to report on my life, I want to go out and live it. I don’t want to have 400 “friends” peering into my wedding pictures and monitoring how fat/skinny I am. I want to have good friends who I actually see and speak to. Is this too much to ask in our cyber saturated age?

I guess the bottom line/truth is, it was too painful to look at f’book some times. I’ll admit, there was something in my life that I wanted really bad and I didn’t get it. There are always these kinds of things we want and feel we deserve but for some reason the universe doesn’t allow us to have. This was one of them. I was devastated, hurt and confused. But in that haze of pain the one thing that was clear to me was that I don’t need to read about other people’s dissatisfaction with their lives as part of my daily news anymore. I especially don’t want to read about the thing that I wanted but didn’t get. So perhaps, I’m selfish and not really “taking a stand” here, but this is my life and I have to take it seriously and do some self-preservation here. I’m strong, I’m resilient and I’ll bounce back, of course. But in those moments of fragility when I’m holding a brick of cheese and a brownie and deciding which to eat first, I really have to think to myself, “am I surrounding myself with the things that are going to make me successful?” The answer was, no.

So goodbye f’book. I’ve enjoyed stalking people and looking at some hideous wedding pictures on you, but I’d decided to move on and fill my life with more positive status updates.

Now I’m going to ask my hubby to post this on his facebook profile so someone will actually read it. Call me what you will.

I am originally from Long Island, but spent a lot of my childhood in Brooklyn where my father has always lived. The best thing about Brooklyn in the summer is the street fairs. There’s always one on my birthday in August and I remember spending birthdays there eating sausage and pepper heros and zeppoles. A zeppole is a piece of fried dough that is covered in confectioners sugar. It’s delightful. The only thing I could think of that is better than a zeppole, is taking an Oreo (which you all know is my favorite cookie) dunking it in zeppole batter, frying it and covering it with confectioners sugar. And then selling it at the Atlantic Antic which is only 3 blocks from my house.

Atlantic Antic, as I remember it, is always on a Sunday at the very beginning of October. I remember last year coming home from a day of shopping in the city to the Antic happening right under my nose. I saw a stand for the infamous Fried Oreos and decided I would splurge and have my first ever fried Oreo. I went to the stand and was devastated to hear that they were out of Fried Oreos! How could this be? I was robbed of my once annual chance to try this decadent delight. I remembered thinking “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you that you don’t need to eat Fried Oreos, Marie. Do you really need to eat something so over-the-top?” So, I never had my Fried Oreo. But THIS YEAR, I figured I’d waited long enough. It’s the first Sunday of October and I woke up this morning with no other motive then to get a Fried Oreo, or five.

Ran and I walked thru the Antic on our way to rehearsal at the Heights Players today and saw many booths for jewelry and free pedometers. I was praying and searching that there would be a Fried Oreo stand in between Clinton and Hicks Streets, so I would have time to indulge while walking to rehearsal. We got lucky and found a stand that sold not only Fried Oreos, but foot long hot dogs! Breakfast of champions! Ran ordered a foot long, I ordered a regular hot dog only to be told that they don’t have regular hot dogs, just foot longs. Okay, fine, I’ll have a foot long hot dog (oy vei!). Then the Fried Oreos, “How do they come?”, I asked. Zeppoles usually come by the dozen. “Five for three dollars.!” A bargain indeed. “We’ll take five!”

The foot longs were a bit well done in my opinion and I ended up only eating half (I only wanted a regular hot dog to begin with) and when I realized that I was eating it and not enjoying it, I threw it out. Then we moved onto the Oreos. They were smaller than I thought they would be, but covered with enough confectioner’s sugar to kill a person. I took a bite and was pleasantly surprised to find the Oreo both soft and warm. Yum. I noticed at the stand that they were frying up the Oreos fresh for us! What a treat! The Fried Oreo was deliciously covered in zeppole batter as I mentioned, and it was more scrumptious than I ever could have imagined. The mixture of the sweet batter, the sugar, the chocolatey Oreo and the cream filling was very interesting. The only thing I thought was missing was a bit of salt. Perhaps it needs to be added to the zeppole batter? Overall, I was pretty pleased with it.

The general consensus seems to be that Fried Oreos are a waste of calories and time. I thought it was worth a once a year indulgence. Ran said he’d just as easily eat a zeppole plain than a Fried Oreo.

I waited all year to try the Fried Oreo, and I’m glad I did. If I’ve learned anything over the course of my tenure in Weight Watchers it’s that you don’t need to eat food just because you can get it. Like the foot long hot dog. I didn’t need to finish eating it just because I had already paid $3 for it. I can get Fried Oreos at the Atlantic Antic, but that doesn’t mean I have too. It doesn’t mean that I must buy 5 and eat them all by myself. It also doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try a Fried Oreo. You must have indulgences in life, food or otherwise, or else life would just be too damn boring. So I say, “Try a Fried Oreo. Enjoy it. Move on.”

Breaking the Fast

October 2, 2009

I’ve never successfully fasted for a day. I tried once in high school and made it til 3pm when I arrived home to brownies on the kitchen table ( a very rare occurrence) and gave in to choclatey chewey goodness.  I don’t really understand the idea of a “fast”, why do we even call it “fast” ??  I’m Catholic, and pretty much our fasting rules have completely disappeared ( to my knowledge) since Vatican 2.  This past Monday was Yom Kippur – which since meeting my husband, I’ve learned it’s not just an excuse to not follow alternative side of the street parking, but an actual holiday: a day of atonement.  The way I understand it, you’re supposed to atone for all your sins for the past year so you can start anew.  Kinda of the Jewish version of confession.  Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.  But for our purposes I think my layman’s understanding of it will suffice.

Last year was the first time I was invited, along with my husband, to “break the fast” on Yom Kippur.  Since my husband is kind of a “non-practicing” Jew, he’s never fasted on Yom Kippur since I know him, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  When I heard the words “break the fast” I had visions of long buffet t tables laden with food.  I dreamed up something out of Dickens, complete with a Christmas turkey.  Of course, in my dream there was also a huge platter of lasagna and a tray of antipasto.  When we arrived, there was a lovely spread.  But it was lacking in the opulence and rich food that I thought anyone who’d not eaten all day would want to have! There was tuna and chicken salad, bagels, cream cheese, lox, and matzoh ball soup.  It was a decent spread for a brunch after a long night of drinking, but for dinner?  For dinner after a day of starvation?  I must’ve had a sad look on my face, because the hostess of the evening saw me and said, “Sorry Marie, it’s all Jew –food” to which I responded, “Where’s the baked ziti?”  Alas, no pasta. 

I remember complaining aftewards that we needed to order a pizza because there was no way I’d be full after a half a tuna fish sandwich.  This year, we were invited again.  I was better prepared  now, l I knew what to expect.  I figured I’d have a large lunch to compensate.  But when I got to work that morning, I had a bit of a knot in my stomach, so I skipped breakfast and then skipped lunch a few hours later.  Skipping meals is not something I do often.  In fact, I never do it.  I hate that people who say, “Oh I was so busy today I forgot to eat.”  Um, no.  I never forget to eat.  And I wasn’t forgetting that day either, I really had an upset stomach and just didn’t feel like eating.  Around 3pm I ended up having some crunch dried fruit (don’t laugh, I ordered it from QVC) as a snack.  When we arrived at the “breaking of the fast” I was starved!  I was ready to break my self-imposed semi-fast.  This year it was more of the same “Jew-food” plus a pot filled with meatball. No pasta, but at least there was some tomato sauce.  I ended up making a mock meatball parmigiana hero with some fixins from the deli platter.  It was good, and I was satisfied.  I guess this year, I acted less like a fat person.  I paced myself, only ate enough to be satisfied and found a way to be happy without the pasta.  Both of the Yom Kippur’s were family parties of my husband’s and I realized something very important.  In my family, a holiday isn’t complete until you are stuffed to the gills with meat, pasta and cheese.  There’s always a run-in with mhy grandmother where she says, “Did you eat enough? Finish this!  Let me make you a plate.”  Plus, there’s ALWAYS food around!  It’s so tempting to just keep eating.  Granted I think some of this is a cultural difference.  But I think more than that this a a skinny/fat divide.  Skinny families are skinny because they eat alike.  They don’t over eat, they don’t serve way too much food, they don’t eat as a means of entertainment, simply put, they eat to live, not live to eat!

Overweright families carry on all the bad habits that make us fat. Now, I don’t attempt to blame my big fat Italian family for making me fat, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t help! And really no one in my family is “the biggest loser” type of overweight. But most of us are, shall we say, “trying to lose 20 lbs” at all times. I’m going to shift the paradigm within my family. I’m going to stop eating when I’m full and not when my plate is empty. I’m not going to eat just because everyone else is. I’m going to bring more healthy foods than unhealthy ones to family parties. I’m going to spread the word that Weight Watchers, or any weight loss program, isn’t torture after all.

It’s going to be a tough job, but hey, someone has to do it.

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