Archive for January, 2010

Does The Biggest Loser send the wrong message?

Monday, January 18th, 2010

There’s a great discussion going on at 3FC on this topic, and one of my posts struck me as something I really need to remember.  The easiest way to do that, seemed to be to put it here on my blog, so for what it’s worth, here it is:

I know that virtually everyone SAYS they know the show’s losses aren’t realistic (I believe them, or at least believe it’s what they think), but before Biggest Loser existed, I don’t remember ever seeing so many complaints on the 3FC and other boards about “only losing 3 lbs.” It seems that more and more folks ARE expecting much larger losses than ever before.

I think that on one hand, with the logical brain we “know” that those losses aren’t possible in “real life” (because no one has the time to work out 6 to 8 hours a day unless they’re independently wealthy and don’t have a job or a life). And yet the emotional brain says “I want that too – if them, why not me.”

Especially since the format hides how much work and time really went into those results. The week (which may not even be only a week) shows some intense exercising, but just a minute or so at a time. You see people being yelled at, and it encourages you to think of some of those folks as “slackers” (not realizing that your at-home exercise is probably 1/20th as long or as intense as the slowest, least achieving contestant). The show WANTS you to think that you would do better if you were there, you would APPRECIATE the opportunity, and you would be one of the ones that worked the hardest – Jillian would never have to yell at YOU.

It isn’t that people don’t think the show is unrealistic, it’s that I think there’s a big gap between the reality and many people’s perception of just HOW unrealistic the show is. People aren’t expextng to lose 20 lbs in a week – but they may expect still-unrealistic 5.

In part, because there aren’t shows praising and making a big deal out of the 1, 2, 3, and 4 lb losses, I think people are losing sight of just how incredible even the smallest losses are. It’s a big deal, and it should be treated like a big deal.

I don’t think ONLY TBL is responsible for the rise in unreasonable expectations, we’re an instant gratification society in more ways than ever before. I just feel that it’s one of the largest barriers to lasting weight loss, because when you expect instant, and don’t get it, that results in disappointment, and I think disappointment is the biggest source of failure when it comes to weight loss. People don’t quit because they ARE failing, but because they feel they are failing (often interpreting success as failure because they think, for many reasons that it “should be” faster and easier than it is – so they must be doing something wrong).

Cayenne Lemonade and Spicy jalapeno-chicken broth, Oh My

Monday, January 11th, 2010

For the past five days or so, I’ve had a nasty respiratory virus (either a very bad cold, or a not-so-bad flu).

If there is a positive side to this, it’s been that I’ve not been very hungry.   Usually when I have a cold, it feels so good to have something going down my throat, that I tend to overeat, even if I can’t taste anything. I’ve been quasi-nauseous the whole time, so I really haven’t tried to eat anything very solid.

I have, however;  eaten (more accurately drank) a few gallons (yep gallons) of soup. The first two days, I made and ate little more than my usual cold or flu cocktail – a huge soup pot of chicken broth, bouillon or soup base, and some seasonings, including a lot of garlic and hot peppers (about 10 to 20 calories a mug).

Then I made a real soup in the crockpot (I just added two raw chicken legs into the spicy chicken broth, cooked it overnight and in the morning added assorted veggies).

I make it as spicy as I can handle it (First, I add as many hot peppers as I’d like – and then add a few more). 


Capsaicin (found in hot peppers) is chemically very similar to gaifenesin (the active ingredient in Mucinex and many cough medicines), and hot peppers are a whole lot cheaper (though I’ve been taking Mucinex too).

I haven’t resorted to cayenne lemonade yet (my bronchitis and pneumonia remedy). I didn’t invent the crazy treatment, I read about it in Chile Pepper magazine. Apparently chile peppers have been a folk remedy for respiratory infections for centuries, and there’ve been some research support for it’s healing and preventative effects for respiratory illnesses. I read some of the studies, and figured I had nothing to lose. Although I could not drink it hot as the article suggested, so my compromise is spicy broth and cold cayenne lemonade.

As much as I love spicy foods, I have to be pretty desperate to bring out the big guns of the cayenne lemonade (it’s very effective though, and relieves the pain of a sore throat too – although perhaps by being a counterirritant – the pain of the pepper distracts you from the pain of the sore throat).

I’ve read that capsaicin and other micronutrients in chile peppers can increase metabolism (usually only the most dedicated of chili heads would ever eat enough peppers to see any noticeable effects), but with the round-the-clock pepper-broth sipping, it could be helping.

I’m not sure that I’d want to stay on the chili pepper diet, though.

But after reading this article, maybe I should:…dspice&dbid=29

2010, What I plan on doing differently?

Friday, January 8th, 2010

May I ask a question with no judgment intended at all? In 2009, did you feel that you ate certain foods a little too freely that you want to avoid to lose more weight or do you feel your portions were not small enough?

I’m asking mainly because I want to understand how someone can eat so healthily (I’ve read through a lot of your blog and you eat admirably well) and still not lose much weight. What changes do you want to make in 2010?

I’ve read a lot of your posts on 3 Fat Chicks, and you are definitely one of the best informed and most reasoned voices I’ve ever read. My best wishes to you and good luck in your endeavors in the coming months!



It’s an excellent question, though a complicated one (or maybe several easy questions would be a better description).

If I were eating the way I am now, in my 20’s, I would be losing 10 lbs a week (and I often did).  So, even I often wonder why I’m not losing more on my current WOE (way of eating).

I think that eating too many off-plan foods, and eating too-large portions is still an issue, as to the fact that I must always remember that I can’t define portion-size based on my past-self (coming to terms with the fact that what is today a “too-large portion,” may have been a “too-small portion” only a few years ago).

My portion sizes are usually pretty good.  In fact, it would be rather difficult for me to reduce the size of my portions.  I try never to eat more than 3/4 to 1 cup of food at any meal, and don’t fail at that very often.  Frequency of portions, is an issue.  Controlled grazing, can become out-of-controlled eating very easily.  Small mini-meals do seem to work best for me.  That doesn’t mean constant eating though, and I have to be aware of the cumulative amount of food as well. 

As for, off-plan foods, I’ve eliminated most traditional junk food, but there’s plenty of healthy food that is too high in carbs and calories.  For Christmas, my family brought my husband and I an assortment of food-gifts from a new Health Food Store in their area.  Many of the choices were very diet-friendly, but I’ve been eating too much of the dried fruit and nut mixed.   

My main game-plan change for 2010 is to stick to my exchange plan, and journal every day.  When I don’t journal, I’m more likely to eat more servings of the higher carb foods that increase hunger (and if I’m not paying attention increase the likelihood that I’ll eat too much or too frequently, or less-than-healthy choices).

Another factor to address, is activity level.  With my health issues, and those of my husband, we’ve both dropped our activity level considerably.  I seem to be much like my cat in this regard.

When we adopted ChubChub, she weighed nearly 20 lbs.  We managed to get a few pounds off of her – but the less we fed her, the less she moved.  Attempts to get her interested in a game of chase the string, or any other activity, were mostly useless.    She sat by her empty food dish and cried and complained all of the time, trying to persuade us to feed her. 

Unlike my cat, I understand that I need to stay active (yet it doesn’t seem any easier), and I have full choice over what to eat, how much, and how frequently.

Documentation, I think really is the key.  I can’t stress enough how important journal writing is to my success (and yet it’s the easiest thing for me to get lazy about and neglect).

I’ve rambled quite a bit, so to summarize

The biggest change I believe I need to make for 2010 is much more thorough documentation.  Writing down exactly what, when, and how much I eat –  and staying within my exchange plan boundaries.  Limiting carbs helps me control hunger (though my exchange plan already figures that in – all I have to do is check of the boxes), so that will be important to – and adding in activity more consistently.


Berry Sorbet or Daquiri

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Several years ago, I found a recipe strawberry daiquiris, in one of Joanna Lund’s Healthy Exchanges books (I’ll include my modifications after the basic recipe).

 Joanna Lund’s Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri

2 cups frozen strawberries no sugar added (do not thaw)
2 cups Diet Mountain Dew
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 package JELL-O sugar-free strawberry gelatin 4 serving

PreparationIn a blender container, combine strawberries, Diet Mountain Dew, lemon juice, lime juice, and dry gelatin. Process on HIGH 15 seconds. Continue processing on HIGH until mixture is smooth. Pour into 4 glasses


As written, the recipe is good, but I found that the diet jello isn’t necessary (but if you do use it, unless you’re a gambler by nature, only use Jello-brand.  Some store-brands work fine, others are horrible).

Instead of Mountain Dew, I often use Diet Sprite or Crystal Light (actually Walmart’s version – pink lemonade and cherry lime are my favorite), or flavored sparkling water (Walmart, Target, and Aldi all carry their own brands and flavors – I’ve used pomegranate, raspberry, lime, wild cherry).

I’ve also used other frozen fruits.  Pineapple, blackberries, raspberries (just remember the fruit has to be at least partially frozen).

I also love making strawberry or other berry sorbet.  Just by cutting back the liquids (start with a small splash, you can always add more until it’s the consistency you want).

Process until it’s the texture you want (I like it very smooth). Pour into a bowl or glass – and then sweeten to taste (if the berries or your processing liquid are very sweet, you may not need any sweetener).

I prefer to sweeten in the glass, because everyone can sweeten to their taste.  

If you don’t have a blender, the food processor works fine.  For sorbet, I think the food processor works best. To make beverages, it can be a bit messy – so before I had a blender, I would make sorbet, spoon it into the glass, and then add more liquid and stir in the glass (or if you don’t stir, it make a pretty “float”).

There really are endless variations, so experiment with ingredients and proportions. 

Better than mashed potatoes

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Mashed cauliflower makes a fair imitation mashed potatoes – but for any potato lover, it’s a little disappointing, so I decided to try to have the best of both worlds, by combining potato (just a little bit) with the cauliflower (a whole lot).

The result is awesome, and only about 10 to 20 more calories per serving than the instant cauliflower alone.

1 large head cauliflower

about 2 cups of chicken broth (a 14 to 16 oz can or 2 cups water and a bouillon cube)

1 small potato, or 1 serving  (1/4 cup or 24g, usually) of instant mashed potato flakes

liquid for mashing (reserved hot cooking broth and skim milk) 

In a roomy dutch oven, I steam a whole large, trimmed cauliflower in the 2 cups of broth (the broth doesn’t cover the cauliflower) and cover the pan and simmer until the cauliflower is tender. I drain out any of the broth into a cup (in case I need extra moisture). I microwave the potato in the meanwhile (if I’m not using flakes). Then I mash the cauliflower with a potato masher (I mash the potato with it, or add the flakes as I mash) with a little bit of skim milk (maybe a quarter cup) and a little bit of the reserved broth. Sometimes I toss in green onion (the white and an inch or two of the greens), sliced thin right before draining (they’re also good tossed in raw during the mashing instead).

Personally, I like them better than the typical mashed potatoes. They have a lighter, creamier texture and just melt in your mouth – Almost a cross between colcannon (and if you add the onions) champ, two irish mashed potato dishes (recipe link below), without the calories of all the potato and the added butter.…_champ_recipes

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