Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Foodie Magazine Mode

I am mad about foodie magazines--like crazy, not angry. When I was getting ready for culinary school, I started my subscriptions to every single one: Saveur, Bon Appetite (now bon appetite), Gourmet, Food and Wine. I pored through them and imagined the day when I would be able to cook anything in any one of them.

And now the real world: I probably could do a good job at about 90 percent of the recipes I can find in those magazines, but the portions would kill not only my points value for the day, but probably for the month. So alas. The piles have stayed in my house--and we have a pretty small house--for all this time, but the recipes have merely been gazed upon and not attempted.

But now, I have new inspiration. Compelled by the need to do some serious spring cleaning, the piles must go! But not just straight to the recycling bin. Now I'm going through each one--probably more than 200 magazines--and I'm looking for recipes that I can make as is or that I believe I can adapt.

Throughout this whole experiment in points-based weight loss, I am determined to accomplish two major goals: lose weight and eat good food. I absolutely must do the first; and if I don't do the second, I will be depressed and my sad skinny self won't be much worth being around anyway. Plus, if I'm not happy eating this way, then I won't be able to maintain it for any length of time.

So, in my recipe scanning, I'm passing right over, right off the bat, anything fried, any recipe that calls for more than a cup of butter, or pasta. (Oh, that last one is a killer--really. But, truth is, I had a great Italian instructor, so I can recreate just about any pasta dish from memory anyway, so...those magazine recipes won't be that missed.)

And, I, surprisingly, so far have accumulated quite the stack of recipes to start to test. The fun part will be actually starting to cook. I'll keep you updated on what works.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Weigh-In: It's working....

So, I'm in the beginning of week three and I just had my weekly weigh in (sorry, I'm a day late--supposed to be on Monday mornings) and I have lost 5 pounds since this all started! Yippeee. I am pretty happy. Now, I have 25 pounds to go, sure, but I do finally feel like I'm making progress.

The best part is that I really am developing a better sense of how to eat. Take last night as a case in point. My wife and I went to Cuci Cuci in Cambridge, a funky fun tapas place. While in the past, any dinner at a restaurant was just destined to be a night of over-indulging: too much alcohol and too much food. Even if I thought I was being restrained, I would (I know now) eat way too much. I would start with the bread, and probably eat about two slices if not more. If we were someplace this was available, I would fill my little bread plate with olive oil, coarse salt, and dip and swipe and lap it all up like a cat on cream. Not last night: one thin wafer from the bread basket, and that was it. One cocktail -- only 3 points -- and then water.

And ordering: I chose grilled fish, lamb--which we shared--and roasted vegetables. We did much more sharing than we would have in the past, and we didn't eat everything. Again, it really is about being mindful of everything I eat.

I was really worried about "constraining" myself by the points system, but now I really like the discipline. And, of course, I really like that it's working: 5 pounds!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Whining about Wine

Why does wine have so many points??? I went out to dinner last night with friends, and I drank too much wine and then, somehow through my increasingly misty haze had the wherewithal to know that if I ate too much as well, I would really be, ahem, off point. So, I did what any wise woman would do and I stopped eating and kept drinking, and then I got smashed!

I am recovering today with 0-points water and black coffee and trying to imagine a world without -- or at least with very limited amounts -- of alcohol. Oh, what a sad sad world to live in.

I have a whole rant coming up about trying to figure out points while sitting staring at a menu, but it will have to wait until my hangover subsides.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Read the Menu!

So frustrating. So I'm feeling pretty good yesterday going into the evening, where I have a cocktail party to attend, followed by dinner with friends. I had saved up enough points to have a couple glasses of wine and then a light dinner. Skip any hors d'oeuvres. I'm set.

Menu comes, friends are all talking and laughing, asking a lot of good questions about the previous event--an HRC New England Federal Club meet and greet--lots of good conversation. I break from the fun-filled commotion and make my choice. (Last week, when I knew I was going out to dinner, I read the menu online beforehand, did some searching for points of various offerings, chose the best options, and so was really ready when it came time to order: I knew exactly what I was going to get. Good strategy.) Last night, not so much.

I sighted a romaine lettuce salad--good enough--and a tuna spring roll. Now, I knew the dough deep-fried thing would be an issue, but the tuna is so low in points and again, I had a pretty good number of points banked headed into the evening, so I wasn't worried. And that's when it happened. The waitress comes, my dear friend Monica across the table from me, orders the romaine salad and the spring roll. I say "That's it! That's exactly what I want." Waitress leaves. It's all good.

Except it's not!! My salad comes--yummy. (I really need to remember to order the dressing on the side, but this one was pretty light, so I'm still good.) Then--after much waiting and avoiding the bread basket the entire evening--my main plate comes. I take a bite of my spring roll and it's filled with gooey melty oh so sinfully tasty CHEESE!!! Loaded with calories and points CHEESE!!! Where's the tuna??

I didn't pay attention. I ordered the wrong spring rolls. Boy was it good though. Eeek. So much to learn with this whole thing. With only a couple handful of points in a day to play with, I really need to pay attention.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Week Number Two: 35 Weekly Points Remaining

So, this is Weight Watchers. I am 43 years old, at least 30 pounds overweight, and I have never ever been to WW before--not to a meeting, not to look at it online. Nada. And now, I'm a member. Why? Isn't it obvious? But what finally got me motivated was a chef friend named Michael who one day, all of a sudden, looked slim and trim. How did he do it? Weight Watchers online. I signed up the next day.

And now, I'm obsessed.

I work at home--I'm a writer and have just launched my own strategic communications business for nonprofit organizations--so I have my computer on and my butt is in front of it pretty much all day. And, along with all the windows at the bottom of my screen beckoning me to pay attention to them is my WW daily points tracker. Every bite, glass of water, and walk around the park gets tracked in that baby.

I'm doing pretty good this week, my second. I haven't used up any of my weekly points yet. And, I think I can even carry over a point or two from earlier in the week. Wow.

I'm pretty determined to accomplish my goal of losing 35 pounds. But, I also love food--I'm a trained chef, having graduated from the Professional Chef's Program at the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. And, I love food, especially Italian. So, this is is gonna be a challenge.

You keep me honest. I'll keep you informed about what I've learned and where I've succeeded and failed.