Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Oh dear. May we have an extension, please?
Our goal deadline is supposed to be Dec. 31 (eek! that's tomorrow!) but there has simply been far too much fa-la-la-la-la-ing going on around here and we're wiggling the diet challenge into January! But fear not; we've not packed on the el-bees again ... just a couple,* which I sort of expected might happen during cookie season. Not too worried about it and waaaaaay too happy with the overall weight loss since August to slide back into that chubby zone. No weigh! But hells bells, I was just one pound away from goal when I last posted before Thanksgiving and then, well ... you know the rest!

I'm so sorry to have dropped off the holiday radar at that point! I apologize to loyal readers who tell me they kept checking in only to find the same ol' tired tale of a turkey sandwich. I became mired in preparing for holiday shows where I sell my handmade wares, which threw my festive holiday season way off this year. The tree got up really late, gifts I wanted to make never got made, and our own handmade Christmas cards never got made and sent. Horrors! I've only missed sending out Christmas cards once before in 35 years and I just hated that I missed this year! (But a Happy New Year card is in the works.) That's the price you pay when you have a handmade card biz ... you can't just dash-along-Dancer to Barnes & Noble and buy a few ready-made boxes. (Although I just might next year! Hey, just sayin'.) Noooo, you have to (attempt to) be ever-so-clever and MAKE your own Christmas cards. The pressure, people. The pressure! Anyway, belated Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to one and all! (Note to self: no more shows at Christmastime. It cramps the holiday fun.)

So stick with me here ... I'm playing catch-up on holiday photos and news.

Just after my last post, we had a whirlwind but lovely Thanksgiving trip to my sister Kathy's house in Mill Valley, California. Here are the three generations of Wells/Grant women (right to left): my 87 year old Mom (and by 87 I mean more like 47), my beautiful 22 year old daughter, my ahem! year old sister and ahem! year old me.
Despite my late start, we had a glorious and cozy Christmas at home ... just the three of us, plus my BFF of 46 years, Marilyn of Southern California. We love a Christmas steeped in tradition, and that includes this raspberry-pineapple-sour cream jello salad which has graced our holiday table for as long as I can remember. One of Elizabeth's favorites!
And here we are about to gobble the most un-diet-like Christmas feast. And by God, we enjoyed every bite!This week following Christmas is my favorite week ever, as it is always devoted entirely to reading by the fire, journaling, naps and bubble baths. I say leave the tree, the decorations, the house cleaning, and the social obligations.

Be Grateful.

And last but not least .... Rosemary, the Dachshund Dog and her people wish y'all a lickity-split, delightfully deee-vine, delicious and healthy 2010.

* But hey, but I'm not changing the Meltdown Meter. Those little pounds are only here for a brief holiday visit!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Evolution of a Turkey Sandwich

Let's talk turkey. More specifically, turkey sandwiches which are, in my humble opinion, one the best parts of Thanksgiving. Because, come on ... this IS why we have Thanksgiving, correct? To get to the really yummy part: the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. This sandwich is so important that this poor fella gives up his life for it ....
... dons a hairnet and retreats to the freezer ...
... and gets his ass stuffed and roasted ...
... so that ultimately we may gobble up this lovely, delicious roasted turkey sandwich. I daresay the love for the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich has been passed down to me by my dear late Dad, Art Wells. He couldn't get enough of them, in fact, my Mom would roast turkeys all year round so that Dad could have his turkey sang-wiches, he called them. (I have no idea why.) And in his opinion, Fritos were most certainly required with this sang-wich. He thought this was a great combo. "G-R-A-T-E," he used to say. Ah, Dad was one of a kind. Here's to you, Dad ... one turkey sang-wich with Fritos coming right up next Friday.

G-R-A-T-E news! I'm one pound away from my goal! Yep, I've lost 15 pounds and am screamingly pleased! Mike's on the road at the time of this posting but last I checked, he looked G-R-A-T-E at 10 lbs. lost! (And doesn't need to lose more, imho.)

OK, I'm a turkey. Because lately I've been a remiss blogger and a negligent blog reader. So sorry, followers and fellow bloggers. This time of year I become mired in work, holiday shows and panic. (Note to self: no stress-gobbling allowed.) From now until December 31st I will be posting on an irregular basis. But for now I'm wishing you all the most glorious and abundant of Thanksgivings, turkey sang-wich, Fritos and all.

Happy Feast!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cute as bug. The car, not me.

This is my friend Julie's adorable car. Isn't it cute as a bug? Oh yeah, and that's me, aka Bugs. We're in the parking lot of Austin Java where we had just lunched. People have been asking me why I haven't posted any update photos of Mike and me as we progress with our weight loss. There are two reasons, plain and simple.

1. There is rarely anyone around to take a picture of me anyway, since I have a husband who travels hither and yon.

2. And besides, even if he is here to take a picture, I generally spend my days in my home workshop make-up-less, in yoga pants and t-shirts covered with dog hair, bits of thread and cotton batting ... and with hair that most often resembles a bird's nest.

A photo op is rare. So since I was meeting up with Julie and other good friend, Kimber, to lunch and brainstorm Julie's idea for a new book proposal ..... we had a little photo shoot in the parking lot. (Gotta plug their terrific blogs here: Julie at Midlife Jobhunter and Kimber at Fragrant Liar.) Anyway, a lovely setting for pictures, doncha think? What with utility boxes and phone lines and the cars roaring by. What's worse was the posing and prancing about the parking lot, trying to channel Project Runway model moves. We had a giggle. Nevertheless, I've made an utter fool of myself in public yet again.
And there was yet another photo op this week!
This is me standing on my veranda overlooking the beautiful Texas Hill Country. And by my veranda I mean someone else's 6 million dollar house where we happened to be on a home tour on Thursday. And another pic of me in my study ... er, rich people's study.

So, see? I have lost some weight! Been a little stuck for about 10 days but I've lost almost 14 lbs. now. Just a couple more to go to reach the initial goal of 16 lbs. and then I'll probably re-assess. I just might decide to shave off a few more while I'm at it. But wait. Thanksgiving's coming. Oh.

Mike has also been stuck at the same weight for awhile but his intense travel schedule as of late has made losing weight so very challenging. He gets a pass though, because he actually lost weight in the early part of this year and so, fuhgeddabout our August 16th diet/blog launch date, he's lost a total of 20 lbs. altogether this year! (Which is why I don't think he even needs to lose another ounce.)

Just want to say that with the holidays nearly upon us, I'm about to get as busy as an elf with my creative work and will probably be posting less frequently. What am I working on? Shameless self-promotion: Still much more to come online once I've finished a little more inventory: holiday cards made from vintage Christmas tablecloths, vintage-y pillows, purses ... and the cutest little pincushions you ever did see! Stay tuned!
See ya before Thanksgiving, for sure!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat ... at Costco???

Popped into Costco on Thursday for a few healthy things ... blueberries, lettuce, chicken. I was pretty hungry at the time but I figured I'd dash through and get what I needed, then make myself a nice salad when I got home.

But I was derailed. It seems they'd quadrupled the team of Food Demo Ladies at Costco that day.

As I made my way through the warehouse, the hair-netted Food Ladies seemed to leap from every corner and materialize around every bend, extending treats like Halloween ghouls.

"Pig in a blanket, dearie?" (use witch voice here) How could I refuse? I was quite hungry after all, and what harm can a little pig in a blanket do?

But then:

"Don't be afraid of a little pumpkin cheesecake, my little pretty." Uh, well .. don't mind if I do.

And ...
"Chewy peanut bar?"
"Fritos and salsa?"
"Some apple cider?"
"Chips and queso?"

I felt like I was on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, careening my cart from aisle to aisle as the Food Ladies, grinning like Cheshire Cats, emerged and retracted, and emerged and retracted from the shadows with forbidden delights. My paper sample cups stacked up on the cart seat, then finally toppled over. I'd still be chewing on the last goodie when the next Food Lady appeared with her tray of treats. I'd point to my mouth, indicating it was full, yet shamefully snatched whatever she was serving up, gave her a wink and the thumbs up, and rolled on ... chewing, chewing. I was under the Food Ladies' spell. By God, if I wasn't trick or treating in Costco!Italian sausage, Luna Bars, Chateaubriand with a dollop of mashed potatoes (that was my main course), Halloween cookies. One lady was even giving out cat food samples. "No thanks," I waved her off. "I'm stuffed."

Oh yes, I finally left Costco absolutely stuffed, feeling much like a pig in a blanket myself.

Pass the Tums, please. And do as I say, not as I do. And most important,

Happy Halloween!!!!!!

P.S. We got another award! Many thanks to Salina Lyn at Becoming a Thinner, Sexier Me for presenting us with the One Lovely Blog Award. Please check her out; she's losing weight too and she is rockin' it! Please stay tuned for favorite blogs that will receive this award next.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Smug Me

Feeling pretty smug these days. Because I've lost 13 lbs. in 9 weeks!!!!!! That's an average of 1.5 lbs. a week. I'm liking it! A good rate, me thinks.

And as I type this, I'm eating a delicious flank steak panini. Don't you just want to slap me? Am I not a smug brat? But wait, it's a common sense panini. Two smallish, very grainy pieces of bread, slices of last night's leftover flank steak, a little red onion, avocado slices, some grated mozzarella cheese, a little olive oil brushed on the ol' George Foreman Grill* and yum. Grilled to toasty, meltey perfection. Ain't nuttin' wrong with that lunch, people. You got your grains, you got your lean meat protein, you got your monounsaturated fat avocado which is so, so good for you. Previously? I'd be sitting here typing with a big ol' grilled cheese in my hand (grilled in butter, natcherly), accompanied by a heap o' potato chips, and a hefty cookie or two for a lunch dessert. (And who eats lunch dessert?) See? Progress! A common sense lunch.

This time around, Mike and I decided to ignore the traditional popular diets and just use the ol' noggin. No calorie counting, no weekly meetings, no food scales, no units, no pre-packaged foods that arrive in your mailbox. Just a good measure of common sense, which I think is the only thing you really need. Something you always have right there in your hip pocket. You can pull it out anytime you want and you can depend on it for the rest of your life. Your common sense will never let you down.

This is not to say that weight loss programs like Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, or whatever you fancy, aren't good programs. If you've lost weight following any of these plans (and have kept it off) ... yay! I'm just saying that we, as a society, over think weight loss. I mean, come on ... we all know what we need to eat and not eat in order to drop some el-bees. Do we want to spend the rest of our lives being preoccupied with counting, measuring and weighing food every day? No thanks. In my opinion, that concept leans toward over thinking, preoccupation with every bite that goes in, and focus on "just can't be fat, just can't be fat" sorts of fretting.

Instead, think: "I am so, so healthy," present tense, over and over, with feeling, and omit negatives. None of this "can't be fat, I don't want to be this weight anymore" stuff. You CAN trick your brain into thinking that you are currently healthy, and ideal weight falls under this healthy heading. So skip the "I'm so slim" mantra and go straight for the "I'm so healthy" one. Tricking your brain into thinking that you are wonderfully healthy now, makes your your brain achieve exactly that. It works. Stay away from words like "fat" and "overweight" because then that will become your mind's focus. Your focus is now health. Smart eating and exercise naturally follow when your mind focuses on health.
One more time with feeling, folks: "I am so, so, SO healthy! I am healthier than I have ever been in my life!!!" Your brain will believe it.

Of course, these aren't my theories ... these are documented, proven strategies. But I am a pretty smug, smarty pants, aren't I? (Hey, but those smarty pants are a couple of sizes smaller now!)

* The George Foreman Grill deserves a special post all it's own! It's a fantastic little gadget. Go buy one! They're cheap.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moving right along .....

So we're, uh ... moving right along. With a little help from our friends.

Mike had a helluva challenge when he spent last week in Japan, with all the fine dining and socializing. Nevertheless, he did pretty well to maintain his weight loss; 10+ lbs. lost so far! Now, had it been me traveling for a week I'd be like ... Hello, Room Service? I'll have the French Toast with a side of sausage, extra pats of butter, please, hash browns, a cheese Danish, a large orange juice, and coffee with cream. And then I would head out the hotel door to find the most divine place to lunch!

Have you ever tried these cherry essence prunes? They are so good! Really! And you could not get me to eat a prune to save my life before I tried these cherry ones. They're like candy, I swear! Five prunes = 100 calories, 24 carbs (a little carby, I admit), 1 gram protein, zero fats, and 290 mg of potassium. That's pretty good, right? Especially if you only eat 2 or 3 of them a day, which has been my practice. And, of course, "they help you out in the bathroom," as Mike's dear Aunt Marge used to to say.

So speaking of moving right along, that tire around my waist which has gradually inflated the past few years, is DE-flating!! And I tell ya, it's so nice to NOT do hand-to-hand combat with my jeans when I pull them on in the morning! I must get some photo updates happening here soon, although Mike has declared that he doesn't want another photo posted until his final, final, Big Reveal, reached-the-goal photo. Okay whatever. (But I'm telling you, people, he looks really good already and imho, he doesn't even need to lose another pound.) As for me, I will get a current photo up here soon. Honest.

Speaking of honest, we've been given the Honest Scrap Award! Yep, presented to us by most talented writer and blogger, Julie, over at Midlife Jobhunter. Thanks, gurlfren! Being relatively new at this blog biz, I'm not very familiar with these blogger awards that go around but apparently they are sometimes known to come with a hitch. Here are the Honest Scrap requirements:

1. This award must be shared.
2. The recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves that no one else knows.
3. The recipient has to pass along the award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified that they have been given this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them.

Hmmm, sort of like a chain letter with pretty Girl Scout badges. I like it.

Okay, so here are my 10 things. I can't say that NO one knows these things about me, but certainly most of you won't know them. Keepin' it clean, as a certain 87 year old mother and a certain 22 year old daughter may be reading.

1. I'm guilty of being a chronic night owl.
2. I've relaxed my housekeeping standards considerably over the past few years ... and I like it!
3. I love a Big Mac.
4. When I was 28, I fell asleep on the back of Mike's motorcycle as we rode over the San Mateo Bridge in the SF Bay Area. (oopsie)
5. I love my solitude.
6. If I let my hair dry naturally, it's a full-on fro. (think Angela Davis)
7. I used to be an interior designer.
8. Mike and I met in a bar.
9. I make a killer coconut macaroon.
10. And last but not least ... and I've not told anyone this and I can't believe I'm now going to blurt it out on the internet ... the day before I knew we were starting this diet and this blog, I drove through McDonald's, got a big Mac and a large order of fries, and wolfed it down in the car on the way home. In record time.

Why, that was rather liberating!

I can't pass on the Honest Scrap Award to 10 blogs, but I can award it to 4 worthy ones. Please check 'em out!

Fragrant Liar, because she is soooo blatantly honest.
No One's the Bitch, because this blog represents a really important family issue.
O Mighty Crisis, because this is the most hysterical, honest blog ever!
Finding Frannie, because her challenge is greater than ours and she's rockin' it.

Now I'll be moving right along. Until next week .....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Balancing Act

Mike is a traveling man this week so I don't have his weight loss to report yet. I've deducted only my melted sticks of butter and will update his meltage when he returns soon. Total loss for me is about 11.5 lbs. as we speak. It's been about 7 weeks since our kick off, and hey, I kinda like this pace. It's a pace I can live with. And I think it sets the pace for long term healthy (or health-IER) eating.

Okay, that's a lie. Sort of. Because I continue to fret a bit about how I will manage my ravenous appetite in the future. I refuse to say that I will never eat my favorite yummies again; apple pie, tacos, buttermilk pancakes ... I'm hardly scratching the surface. My long-time buddy and wonderful writer, Mary-Jo Murphy, recently wrote an interesting article* about the evolution of the human desire for more and more fattening foods, from caveman to current man. Mary-Jo includes an adorable story which so illustrates my ideal future. Here 'tis:

I once heard a story about a woman who was trying desperately to lose weight.
At the same restaurant where she would sometimes eat, was another woman.
While one would order salads the other always indulged in a hamburger, fries
and a shake. She was annoyingly skinny, clearly a mutation of the evolutionary
process. One day the weight-conscious woman confronted the gorger, "I'm starving
myself to lose weight. Every time I see you in here, you're eating like this! How
do you stay so slim?"
"Well," she dipped her fry in ketchup, "I only do this once a week. It's my reward
for eating healthfully the other six days."

Please, oh please, let this be me. If I could just indulge in a burger and fries once a week I would be eternally grateful.

I'm also reading a delightful book right now, A Homemade Life, by a young and fetching Molly Wizenberg. It's a collection of the most deee-vine! recipes ever, and the hilarious and moving stories which inspired them. I mean, I am nearly swooning as I read about Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake, Dutch Baby Pancakes With Lemon & Sugar, and Custard Filled Corn Bread. (There are also plenty of healthy entrees & side dishes with far fewer calories, but I, with my dessert-driven palate, have dog-eared the above.) So why am I reading a book about this irresistible food while I am in the throes of a weight loss effort, you may ask? I sort of think this book landed in my hands at this time for a reason, because as I read through it, I realize that Molly approaches her passion for food with such respect and balance. It seems that her veggie-happy Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille makes her just as weak in the knees as her Fresh Ginger Cake With Caramelized Pears. But chances are her pantry isn't lined with ginger cakes. As would be my preference. And I notice that Molly tends to be perfectly content with a scrumptious but light meal of small portions. Hmmm. Odd. Perhaps there is something to this frightening concept.

Is there hope for me? Can I be the slim lady who eats the hamburger and fries once a week? Can I adopt Molly Wizenberg's approach to delicious food, both sinfully divine and healthfully divine? Because, despite her penchant for some gosh-darn creamy, buttery, sweet desserts, the photo on her book jacket depicts her as a mere waif of a girl. Is moderation achievable?

Molly? Are you out there? Care to weigh in on this?

* Mary-Jo Murphy's article, You Go To My Head, was published in the August 2009 issue of the Ojai & Ventura (CA) THE VIEW.

P.S. Molly Wizenberg is also the creator of the award winning blog, Orangette, which I highly recommend to all you foodies out there.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Happy Fall Y'all

First of all, I'd just like to say that I don't happen to have a single new photo that is pertinent to this week's post, so I'm throwing in one that is fall-ish, just to wish a Happy Fall to Y'all. (This is my ever-so-special chair, where I curl up to read or write.)

Next, I just want to thank all of our followers and supporters as Mike and I successfully push on with our buttery efforts. We've had an abundance of great comments, suggestions, tips, and huge helpings of encouragement ... all of which have kept us on track and chugging towards our goal. Thank you, one and all!

I wanted to emphasize something that I mentioned in an earlier post, that being the tremendous respect and admiration we have for those who are faced with the huge challenge of losing far more weight that we have to lose. Our measly goal of 16 lbs. each must seem laughable to some and rightly so, if you're faced with a 75 lb. challenge ... or, how about a 200 lb. challenge, fer heavens sake?? I think the TV show, The Biggest Loser continues to be one of the most moving shows ever. I watch it with hope and emotion ... yeah, I'm a downright blubbering idiot at times, as I see these wonderful, beautiful, extremely obese folks reclaim their lives, capture their dreams and work their asses off doing it! So, so, SO hard, people! Just so you know, I bow down to you, oh mighty Biggest Losers, and anyone else who is attempting to lose a great amount of weight. On behalf of Losers everywhere, big or not-so-big, thank you for your amazing inspiration.

That being said, I feel like Mike and I also represent an important and huge group of people, particularly on the midlife stage of life. Because, as we all approach the midlife years when everything begins to inflate, fall down, cave in, and change colors, it's so easy to slide on 3 or 4 lbs. a year without blinking. Then one day you turn around and, gasp! you've packed on 20 el- bees! Next come the crossroads where you pause and either say, "what-the-hell-it's-too-late-now-let's-have-another-cheeseburger," OR, you bolt upright in bed with night terrors of realization and go, "Wait! I've still got 40 years left! Pass the celery sticks!"

There are so many of us out there. We can either keep sliding down the slippery slope or we can catch it now. Mike and I have it easy, actually. Because we've chosen to catch it now, before the 16 lbs. becomes 75 lbs. (that's 300 sticks of butter, btw) and on and on like a runaway train. I, for one, was horrifically close to going the other way, towards the Cheeseburger Life. Anyone else? Wanna hit the brakes and stop the train? Come on.

P.S. Nevertheless, I miss cookies.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Back in the day, who cares what we weigh?

More wistful thoughts about days gone by and those lean bodies we used to own and take for granted. So I thought I'd share this fun picture I recently unearthed of me with my wonderful high school pal, Ann ... circa 1971. Apparently we were in a surfer themed Homecoming Parade, although neither one of us can recall this. (These bewildering blank moments will happen to you too someday, young readers.) See the really pretty girl on the left with the terrific smile and the legs that go forever? Yeah that's not me.

Weeeee, it's been a busy week with some kitchen remodeling, landscape design and our precious 12 year old lab, Angel, in for surgery. Not much time for blogging but not much to report anyway. Our weight loss progress has really slooooowed down the past couple of weeks. We've got the plateau blues, when your body hunkers down and says, "dude, are you serious about this thing?" And we say, "hell yes, why is that even a question?" And your body says, "meh, just not feelin' it." And we hurl f-bombs at the scale all week.

So between Mike and me this week? Just 4 stinkin' sticks of butter, i.e. 1/2 lb. each. Phtt. At least we're going in the right direction, so we'll take it. But wait! Look at the Meltdown Meter! We've now tipped the scales past the halfway point ... 65 sticks melted and 63 sticks to go! OK, feeling better now.

Oh, and I lied before when I said I felt all empowered and whatever when I ordered that salad entree in a restaurant back in August. Because we had to eat dinner out several nights this week as our kitchen was inoperable and, well ... let's just say my entrees were not even remotely green. Sorry, dear ol' college roommate Katie, who offered sage advice about checking out the restaurant menu online beforehand, thereby pre-planning the healthiest choice. I have disgraced you.

You think that might have something to do with my nary-a-pound weight loss? Naaaaaah.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Suck it up.

See that gooey, lumpy stuff right there? That's Mike's little secret weapon. It's called Natto. A Japanese, um ... not even sure what to call it ... food? Essentially it's fermented soy beans which have all kinds of healthy benefits. It's commonly eaten for breakfast in Japan and is a great source of protein and vitamin B2. Good for the skin, osteoporosis, and the prevention of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.

Still, I'm not feelin' it. You mix up the container of soy beans with this little packet of sticky stuff consisting of sesame oil and hot mustard ... stir it and stir it until it gets all gooey and glue-ish and then you slurp and suck it up really fast. Like, schluuuuuuuuup. That's right, schluuuuuuuuup. Apparently this is the way the Japanese eat it, with this sucking technique. And then Mike always makes a little finishing-up schlup-up-up sound, a la Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs: "... and with a nice little Chianti." Schlup-up-up.

Did I mention that Natto stinks to high heaven? It's so foul that I can't even think of a comparison but man, I cannot even be around when Mike is schluuuping. Straight from the vomitorium, seems to me. "Try it," he says. Uh, tempting-but-no.

If anyone else is oh-so-brave and would like to try this nasty yet nutritious Natto, it can be found in Japanese specialty food stores. Look for this red label, the one with the bloated, rosy-cheeked geisha with the ... two bullet holes in her forehead?????

Need I say more?

P.S. We're almost halfway there!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Tortoise and the Hare

In honor of our buttery blog, I ate buttery things last weekend. Yeah.

I can explain.

Labor Day was also Mike's birthday and so we went over to daughter Elizabeth's fancy new digs and had a wonderful dinner party. Yep, that's the b-day boy with our gorgeous Elizabeth pictured above. We prepared a healthy menu of baked salmon, tossed green salad, 3 low-cal deli salads and dinner rolls. Now, the salmon marinade did have some butter in it (okay, some brown sugar too) but Mike, being positively militant about the diet (not a carb speck, not a micro-gram of fat, not a granule of sugar, heaven forbid!), was prepared a separate boring, bland piece of grilled salmon. Did I have the marinaded salmon? Yes. Did Mike have a buttered roll? No. Did I? Yes. Did Mike have a beer? Did I? No and no.

Wait. That's not all. I'm coming clean here. I asked Mike if he would like a birthday carrot cake, his fav, and suggested that maybe he could just have a harmless teensy sliver on this special occasion. But no. I explained that his other guests might like some dessert. (Whaat! I said other guests!) Too bad, no carrot cake. So I decided to make some of those little individual pocket pies, apple and cherry, for the other guests, you know. I'd bought a cute pocket pie press awhile back and kind of wanted to try it out. Shut UP! They are so hard to make! Half of them fell apart (and semi resembled cow patties) but our guests actually seemed to like them. Did I have one? HELL yes, after spending 3 hours on those expletive, expletive little suckers. Busted! Giddy and guilty all at once, as the photo below illustrates. Oh, did I mention that I make my own pie crust from butter? Yeah.

So I had a free day, alright? Mike and I are the tortoise and the hare. He'll certainly make it to the finish line first due to his (disgusting) self control, but I will get there eventually at my own glacial pace. I need to do this peu 'a peu, like French women do. Little by little. I can't go cold turkey like Mike, but more power to him! I have to approach this in ways that will help me to gradually adopt healthy eating habits I can live with and stick with, otherwise all that deprivation will surely make me fall off the wagon. But go figure ... despite my buttery meal, I lost almost 3 lbs. this week, my most successful week so far! Hmmph! I rest my case.

Have I justified my cheatin' enough for you???

So here's the current score:
The Tortoise - 6 lbs. lost, or 24 sticks of butter
The Hare - 7 lbs. lost, or 28 sticks of butter

Friday, September 04, 2009

That was then and this is now. Unfortunately.

Despite the fact that we see ourselves as forever young in our delusional little brains, it just ain't so. Our once resilient bodies and our fast running metabolisms have changed drastically and to us, it seems like overnight. Who's the cute dude to the left? Mr. Melter of 64 sticks of butter, at a pretty good clip, I might add. Yep, that's Mike at UC Berkeley, circa 1978. That was then.

And this is now. We don't look like we used to and we can't eat like we used to. It's hard to accept. Where's the magic bullet that can make this whole shift in metabolism easier?

Ice cream, french fries, cheeseburgers, beer and more ... once devoured without a care in the world or one ounce gained, are now off limits. Well, for the most part. And the bod ... well, gone are the blond locks (the shag) and the mini skirt legs. Long gone. Now I wonder what's up with these road maps on my legs and this dry, dry, dry fire hazard of a haystack on my head? And the baggy knees? I need a knee lift, fercrissake.

Back in the day, most of us sailed through the 70s on zero exercise, (gyms hadn't been invented yet, am I right people?) all-nighters involving kegs of beer, followed by late night runs to Jack in the Box. Fast forward to midlife: now those late night runs are to the bathroom, the beer is replaced by Metamucil and the all-nighters are, up-all-night-waiting-for-kids-to-pull-safely-into-the-driveway, preferably not having spent the evening behaving as we did at their age. Are you with me?

Recently Mike had his annual physical and he talked to his doctor about controlling his cholesterol. Because of side effects Mike can't take statin drugs to lower it, so he asked the question, "then how can you control it?" Doc's answer: You control very simply with a healthy diet and consistent exercise. (Doc actually recommends a Mediterranean diet.) So that's IT? Diet and exercise? Well, we already know that, right? Magic bullet, please. Hmm, you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking that the magic bullet is Acceptance with a capital A. That we finally, finally Accept the fact that we must, must control our health with good diet and consistent exercise. "But we don't wanna," we all wail. I know, but this is now.

No, we're not the beer swilling college kids we once were. We can't pound drinks, give in to late night munchies, or do any number of things we used to do. Aww man, who wants to go back there anyway? That was then. Let's move forward. Are you with me?

But hell, all this talk makes me wanna get a JITB Super Taco. Just kidding. Sorta.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meltdown Rules for Dummies (and by dummies I mean us)

Now that we have 10 days under our buttery belts, we have a pretty good idea about what our rules of the road should be in order to stay on track. These are guidelines for us and not necessarily for all Melters, and it's just a bunch of no-brainer, common sense stuff. Trust me, nothing terribly enlightening here, people ... and certainly nothing we haven't all heard a ka-zillion times before. But these are rules we've been ignoring the past few years, like dummies. It's time to wake up and lose the butter.

1. Eat every hour or so: Being too busy and waiting too long to eat has probably been one of my biggest problems in the past. Now I'm eating little snacks throughout the day ... walnuts, some strawberries, maybe a hard boiled egg. Previous experience tells me that allowing myself to get too hungry, especially when out running errands, could possibly result in a drive through McDonald's.

2. Exercise: Mike belongs to a gym and goes there, uh ... sometimes, when he has the time. (Poor guy, it's work and travel and work and travel for him.) Me? Naaah. I know myself and honestly, I won't drive 10 miles to a gym, which is how far away it is. So I try to walk 2 miles a day and use my free weights at home for some resistance training. End of story.

Water: I already drink oceans of water and Mike is pretty good about his water intake as well. I think the amount of water that I drink has actually kept my weight down over the years, considering my gi-normous appetite. Hey, there's one thing we've been doing right!

4. Portion Control: What's portion control??? I know not these strange words. Lean steak the size of a deck of cards? No juicy 10 oz. ribeye? Oh dear, this could be trouble.

5. Whoa on the carbs: Mike can cut out carbs completely without flinching but this is a tough one for me, as it is for many women. Every couple of days I'm allowing myself a crunchy piece of grainy toast (liiiightly buttered), maybe some baked sweet potato fries, or a little pumpkin & flax granola sprinkled over strawberries. But gone are the bushels of potatoes and Costco double loaves of bread. Never been a big fan of pasta so that's one saving grace.

6. Deprivation in Moderation: I subscribe to the theory that if you deprive yourself toooo much of foods you like, you will sabotage your weight loss plan. For me, total deprivation means resentment and frustration take over and I'm more likely to give into cravings. I would rather lose the weight slowly and allow myself, say ... a taco now and then. And I do mean now and then. Mike, on the other hand, is more of a purist and will probably not consume as much as a tortilla chip during this meltdown process. Dueling theories.

7. Sleep: I keep the hours of a nightclub owner, sans the sleep-til-noon part. Somehow I've convinced myself that I don't need more than 6 hours of sleep. And that's just wrong. Dangerously wrong. But I get soooo much more work done late at night when there are no distractions, she whines. Too bad, now go to bed!

8. Sugar: Those who know me well know that I could eat my weight in cookies, pies and bread pudding. (Mike can take it or leave it, dammit.) This is mandatory deprivation for sure, and challenging indeed. Not even one itty-bitty cookie? Nope, not at this early stage.

9. Last but not least, Raise the Stakes to increase accountability: For us, that means putting ourselves online like dorks. I'm convinced that this blog is the thing that will tip the scales for us this time ... in the right direction, that is. It promotes the commitment part because, well ... all of you are watching! One could argue that we should be doing this for just ourselves, and that it shouldn't matter if there is an audience. But it does matter. Because it provides support, encouragement, incentive and accountability. All key stuff, imho.

So thank you, followers, for reading and supporting! Together we're 35 sticks lighter for it! Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lost and Found

Okay, apparently on Thursday night I gained 2 lbs. while I was sleeping! What is that about? I'd lost 2 lbs. throughout week, which is good, but when I stepped onto the scale Friday morning there it was again, despite all efforts to stick with the plan. The good news? It's gone again. Lost and found ... and lost again. All is well.

Mike is doing great, btw, and lost almost 3 lbs. last week. (Lest you think this blog is all about me. No, no.) He's sticking with his salads, avoiding the ever-present donuts at work, and eating his Japanese Natto, a sticky, gooey fermented soybean concoction he seems to enjoy, oddly enough. But we'll feature Natto in another blog entry. Now, back to me.

So on Friday I was put to the restaurant test. I went out to lunch with friends Barb & Debbie to celebrate Debbie's birthday at Sandra Bullock's wonderful little place called Bess Bistro. This is where I fought my first battle with the menu. I went in armed with the idea that I would order a salad, which is quite unlike me. Salad is a nice side dish but does not qualify as an entree, in my opinion. A hamburger is an entree. Hey, I'm just sayin' ....

So I study the various salads on the left hand side of the menu and I think the Chopped Cobb Salad seems acceptable. Bacon, avocado, bleu cheese ... not too diet-y. But my eye wanders to the right hand side of the menu where the real entrees reside. Just looking, just looking. "Hmm," I say nonchalantly, "an interesting selection." Crepes, a panini, and oh dear ... a Bess Burger. But no, the salad it is and I close the menu.

We chat and wait for the waiter but soon I find that my menu is open again. And there are those crepes again, a fancy chicken pot pie, and oh my .. even a gourmet grilled cheese. But no, the salad. That's what I'll have and the menu closes and I slide it away. Moments later, again with the menu! The girls are talking and I'm nodding and responding but what I'm really thinking is ... holy crap, this menu is sparring with me!

And as a little side note here, it may have been at this point when, much to my surprise, I burp right in the middle of a sentence, as if it were a syllable in a word. It just escapes without warning, like ... "I should have a salad but the hambur-BURP-ger sounds heavenly." I think I finish the sentence hoping the ladies don't notice, but no. We have a good giggle over it.

Finally the waiter appears and I still don't have any idea what's going to come out of my mouth when it's my turn to order.

"And for you, ma'am?"
"I'll have the Cobb Salad," I blurt.
This is a tiny victory.

Over the years I've lost control and have fed my lumberjack appetite and teenager cravings. Dining out always means I "treat" myself to tacos, burgers, big juicy steaks and loaded baked potatoes. Especially since we moved out to the country 4 years ago, miles away from restaurants, going into town to eat is like a big deal. (Wooo-hooo, Paw ... hitch up the team, we're a-goin' ta town fer fancy vittles!) But this first week of the butter plan, and particularly my first dining out experience has shown me that the hamburper doesn't have to call the shots. I can do that. Yep, it's just a tiny victory but I felt oddly empowered with those few words, so foreign to my tongue: "I'll have the salad." Now that I have this win under my belt, maybe next time I'll be able to skip the menu battle altogether.

I may have lost power and control over the years, but I think I might, just might be on the brink of (burp)... finding it again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Swamp Water; Yucky & Yummy

Day 3 and we're 10 sticks lighter! Not bad for starters. Hey, we'll take it!

Ahhh, I love the taste of swamp water in the morning.
Odwalla Superfood, that is. That thick, olive green, really icky looking juice that we call swamp water around here. It actually tastes apple-y and yummy and is so good for you. Lots of fruits and veggies in there ... apple, peach, mango, strawberry, wheat grass, even artichoke. Like salad in a glass, and most handy for those of us who don't eat a lot of rabbit food. Although, I speak for myself because Mike is really good about eating salads, even 2 a day now. Yeah-no-thanks.

So because I know it's not too smart to drink coffee for 2 hours before having breakfast (as has been my practice), and because I know that eating something right away (no, not a Krispy Kreme) will jump-start your metabolism and make it work faster for the rest of the day, I'm now drinking about 4 or 5 ounces of swamp water (that's about 65-80 calories) right off the bat. Then a cup of coffee while I noodle around for awhile before eating some real breakfast, like eggs. I'm just not that hungry when I get up, but now I like knowing that my metabolism is happily humming along because I took 30 seconds to toss back some swamp water first thing. Tip: drink it on the rocks ... it cuts the murky sludginess.

Many thanks to the supportive friends who have already emailed and posted encouraging comments ... even several neighbors who honked and woo-hooed me when I was on my walk last night! (It's 103 degrees here, non-Austin people. Must walk at night when it's only 90.) But ain't it just amazing how this fancy internet thing works, spreading the word like wildfire that we are crazily putting our pudgy selves and buttery plan online ... "before" pictures and all, gasp??? It generates a great support system! So thank you, and please keep following us as we meltdown!

If my hunch is correct, this blog will be the key ingredient to successfully melting off our 128 sticks of butter, because it raises the stakes and makes us committed to the plan. And by committed, I mean insane.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Meltdown: Day One

This is the story of a couple of pudgy mid-lifers, both about 16 pounds overweight and relatively out of shape ... who are about to melt 128 sticks of butter off of those inflated bodies. Meet my husband Mike and moi, Michelle. We are native Californians, transplanted to Austin, Texas 12 years ago, where we quickly learned that the state entree, chicken fried steak, was worthy of a search for the best in town. The rest is history.

Increasingly frustrated with countless failed attempts over the past few years to not only take the weight off, but worse, to watch the pounds pile on and on ... we've decided to have another serious go at it but THIS time, we're making ourselves publicly accountable (and most likely, regrettably humiliated) by blogging about it. Sort of like turning up the heat. Which will hopefully melt the butter.

Coincidentally, Mike and I both
need to lose 16 lbs. to get to an ideal weight. Reality check: that being an ideal weight for this age, not that of our 25 year old, long-gone bodies. So we're thinking maybe this is the perfect time for both of us to get on board, support each other, eat the same, and yep ... add a dash of competition to get to the finish line. And stay there.

And you may be thinking ...hey, 16 lbs. doesn't sound like a lot to lose, what's the big deal? Just do it. After all, there are so many people who have so admirably lost loads more ...75, 100, 150 lbs. even! I can't imagine the courage and determination it must take to lose a tremendous amount of weight and my hat goes off to these folks. I wish I knew why it's been so hard to lose this weight, but I don't. What I do know is that at some point along the way this mere 16 lbs. has somehow morphed me from fairly-normal-looking-lady to linebacker.

It's got to go.

So ... 16 lbs. to lose = 64 sticks of butter. Or, 32 lbs. collectively = 128 sticks of butter. Imagine strapping on 64 sticks of butter. You got your duct tape and you got your 64 sticks and you start taping. Where would they go? Me, I got 39 sticks around the belly, 20 on the linebacker shoulders and neck, 2 on each cheek and one under the chin.

We all know that "diet" is a 4 letter word, meaning "temporary eating plan." I-stay-on-the-diet-until-I-reach-my-goal-and-then-I-can-chow-down sort of thing. Fuhgeddaboutit. Our weight loss plan will not be specifically Weight Watchers, South Beach or Atkins plan (all great ones, for sure) but of the Common Sense variety. Not just your basic cheeseburger + bread pudding = regret. But stuff we already know works and have continually chosen to ignore. Stuff tailored specifically to Mike and me with a little wiggle room so that we don't give up due to absolute deprivation and frustration.
Oh, and that exercise part too. Mmmph.

128 sticks of
melted butter deadline? December 31, 2009.

I'll be posting our progress every few days along with silly photos and smart-alecky remarks. I hope you'll follow us as we begin our meltdown ... be our cheerleaders, share your insights and maybe even find our journey somewhat useful to your own. Because it's not just about the 128 sticks of butter. It's about this transition that all mid-lifers are faced with; that confusing place between young and old. Suddenly there's the extra girth, the double chin, the blond gone gray, and we're reeling from the shock that we're no longer our young familiar selves. Acceptance of aging is important but it's also a slippery slope. Butter makes it even more slippery. Let's figure it out, people.