Fat n’ Jolly: What didn’t I eat this Christmas?!

Hey guys! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, a wonderful day otherwise. I’m definitely feeling pudgy and bloated and ready to get BACK ON TRACK because this Christmas, I certainly whooped it up by indulging in a little bit of almost everything. Let’s recap:

1) S’Mores Fudge that I made for Matt’s work. Thankfully 96% of this went into his work and only an empty plate came back, but I did have to test it out, of course.
2) Country Benedict, ala my chef father in law. Doesn’t this look amazing?! A country pork gravy poured over homestyle biscuits with a poached egg and sausage patty. So. Damn. Good. (It was worthy of that swear word in there.)

Country Benedict

Country Benedict

3) Angelo’s Smokehouse Christmas Ham
4) Yogurtland Apricot Tart Frozen Yogurt
5) A Chopped Salad
6) “Pot of Gold” appetizers – almost egg roll-like in taste but stuffed with spinach and cheese
7) Caramel Brownies and Czech Kolacky cookies

April and my mom made Caramel Brownies

April and my mom made Caramel Brownies

8) Eggnog Cornflake crusted French Toast (another father-in-law creation)
9) Hainan Chicken — a yummy dish from a popular San Gabriel Valley restaurant called Savoy. Chicken is poached in homemade broth all day, served with rice and a ginger salt and chili sauce. So simple, so good. YUM.

Hainan Chicken from Savoy

Hainan Chicken from Savoy

10) Huevos Diabla from the Local Peasant, one of my favorite restaurants here in Woodland Hills. The tortillas were handmade and it was covered with crumbles of queso fresco and cilantr0. Mmm. I’ve been having quite an overeasy infatuEGGtion lately. I had enchiladas with an overeasy egg on top last week, the country benedict, huevos rancheros when I was out with my awesome friend Lisa, and today, this Huevos Diabla. I didn’t know what I was missing before when I mistakenly thought ‘dippy eggs’ were no good. I have learned and now celebrate the runny egg!

HuevasDiabla_LocalPeasantWoodlandHills_DoubleChinDiary

11) Arkansas Green Beans made by my dad. These are a different take on a greenbean casserole. Just think “bacon.”
12) Prime Rib. Another father-in-law creation (Sense a trend here? These people know good eats. We even had Yorkshire Pudding!)
13) Clementine Oranges (hey, there had to be ONE healthy thing on this list.)
14) Peach Momotaro Blooming Tea from Teavana. (TWO healthy things. Had to make myself feel better.) This was a great gift from my brother who got me a Blooming Tea Set. Super cool!
15) A Chipotle Veggie Fajita Burrito Bowl. My meal of choice off the I-5 on the very long drive up. Delicious!

So… as you can see, there was a whole lot of indulging going on. Do I feel guilty about it? Well, yes, kind of. But am I glad I stuffed my piehole with such an amazing assortment of food? Yes. If music be the food of love, play on. Being able to eat such delicious things (and knowing how to stop when I’m full!) reminds me how lucky I am to indulge in such luxury. For that, I am grateful. I am also grateful for the ability to start over, starting now. The first thing to be crossed off the list? Sugar. I don’t do well on sugar. If anything bloats me up and makes me a crank-monster, it’s sugar. Sugar is the first to go, cold-turkey style. After that? Grains. 2014 is my year – the year the Double Chin Diary turns from a wistful “hopefully soon” weight loss blog to a success story. Yep. It’s gonna happen. It has to. Enough excuses, more action.

Now — help me feel like less of a diet failure by telling me what you indulged in this holiday season. :)

Medically speaking, attitude is everything.

On Tuesday I had my long awaited follow up appointment about “Weight management” after starting my thyroid medications. I was nervous, not knowing what to expect, as while I’d been on my best behavior food and exercise wise, my body likes to go rogue. We don’t have a scale in the house anymore either, and after several crushing weigh ins, I was expecting to hop on the scale and be met with a gain, because that’s always what happened before. Why should doing everything right matter? I got on the scale. Down three more pounds. WHEW!!!!! Now, 3 more pounds in a month and a half is devastatingly slow progress. However? It’s progress. Three pounds in a month, after ten months, is 30 pounds. I was relieved, and to make it even better, my blood pressure was fantastic – 110 over 79. As I celebrated my small but valiant victory, the new doctor came in and said, “Aw, too bad you haven’t had much progress, have you?”

My happy mindset deflated like a cheap balloon. I recognize that medically three pounds in a month and a half sucks – - but for a patient who gained NINE POUNDS after a 12 day detox eating nothing but cauliflower and medical shakes, it’s nice to see my body actually reacting in the way it should. As I explained to the doctor that I was actually relieved and happy with the weigh in, I realized how important attitude is. No, it’s not ideal, but a solid, “hey, we’re on the right track” at least, is invaluable to someone who needs a little bit of cheerleading. Most people refer to their doctor’s demeanor as “Bedside Manner”, and while I don’t need information to be sugarcoated, I would like a little bit of optimism.  This applies to all things medically related; a lazy liver, ridiculous allergies to feathers, even scary-looking but benign ovarian cysts. When shit’s gone wrong, some positive encouragement from people who know what they’re talking about is hugely helpful. Otherwise, Dr. Google and I spend lots of late night hours together, my anxiety growing as I comb through horror stories of the very conditions that ail me.

There’s part of me that thinks I need to just “man up” and look past a need for rainbows and sunshine in a medical environment. After all, medically, obesity sucks. It’s dangerous, it’s a huge risk factor, and for most people, it should be simple to treat. However, I’m not most people, and I’m also not the type of person who can easily man up. I’m sensitive. I’m artistic. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. But; attitude is everything — and a positive one can make a big difference.

Have you had trouble with doctors having a more direct bedside manner? Does it bother you or not? Why or why not?

How Olga Reminded Me Why All of This Matters

This weekend, I had the honor of flying to Minnesota for a quick weekend visit to see my grandmother. My brother and sister had planned this trip for months before, and while on the phone with my sister two weeks before they were to go, I wistfully said I wished I was going. After some gentle coercing from my sister and brother, I had a plane ticket booked from LAX to Minneapolis. However, I was a surprise for my grandma! Nobody knew I was going, and we had some very excited relatives to see upon my arrival.

Alyssa, April and Tommy with their Grandma

Alyssa, April and Tommy with their Grandma

One thing I love about seeing my grandma is filling in the gaps of our family history. I know the basics, but I’m always so curious about where exactly we came from, and from who. For example, while I didn’t get specifics, I’ve confirmed that many people on my dad’s side of the family have “a way with words”, a talent that I hope I’m properly utilizing. I also found out in addition to the name Hannah, which I love, and hope to name one of my future children, we also had a Matilda in the family, and her nickname was Tilly. Those are awesome heirloom names for the time when I finally pop out a spawn. (Believe me – I was reminded about 17 times this weekend that I’ve been married THREE YEARS and still have yet to “bear an heir”.) (Ok, so it wasn’t put in those terms, but the heat is on. Procreate! Now!) (***All good things come to those who wait, was my response.)

While describing family relations, my grandma mentioned Olga, my grandpa’s brother’s sister-in-law. Olga wasn’t remembered for her charitable contributions to society, or the way she made a mean biscuit. Olga was remembered for being “a big lady”. If Olga was an ounce, she was 300 pounds. In fact, she was so big, that she had to have a custom casket made, and the pallbearers had to hold it from the bottom instead of the sides, so she didn’t bust through the bottom. I was horrified. None of this was being mentioned in a patronizing or rude way, but simply as a matter of fact. This is the sad side of obesity. If my body continues to go rogue and my actions don’t fight it, could I be remembered as the person who needed a custom casket? Nope. I won’t allow it.

As I’m harshly reminded every time I visit the doctor, I need the plus-size blood pressure cuff. Airplane seats are snug. I don’t want to outgrow things any longer. I’m fine with outgrowing things mentally, but not physically. I want to be “regular” size, and heck, even being described as “chunky” is fine. But please, for the love of God, I cannot be remembered as the person who needed a custom casket. This message stood with me as we ate dinner at the 58 club, known for its appearance on Man Vs. Food for Juicy Lucys, a hamburger patty stuffed with oozing cheese. I enjoyed some appetizers of fried cheese curds and onion strings, but when the time came to order my meal, I ordered a juicy lucy with no bun, and carrot sticks instead of fries. Enough is enough. I can splurge, but I need to make sacrifices too. I can’t always have my cake and eat it too, because there are things more important than French fries and pretzel rolls. When I croak, I want to be remembered for things like this: my blog, my cupcake decorating, my kindness, my sense of humor, my altruism, my sarcasm, my blonde hair, my blue eyes, my foot-in-mouth disease… please God, anything, but the size of my body. (And I just remembered I’m going to be cremated. Whew!)

Have you ever experienced someone being remembered in a less than positive light, for the way they looked or something that happened to them? What was your reaction?

 

Melissa McCarthy and Elle: The Scandal Over a Coat. Really?

I’ve been living under a little bit of a self-imposed rock this week, as I’m in the thick of a huuuuuge project launching at work, but when I saw Melissa McCarthy’s pretty face splash across my computer screen a bunch of times, I knew I needed to check it out. I’m a fan of McCarthy; she’s a cousin of Jenny McCarthy, she’s funny as eff, and I think she’s a really talented actress. The scene in Bridesmaids where she steals all the puppies in the van? Brilliant. Anyways, McCarthy is under some scrutiny right now because of this Elle magazine cover:

Why? Because some people are saying McCarthy dodged a huge opportunity to show off curvy bodies by choosing to wear a coat. Huh? When I first saw the cover, the only thing I thought was, “Oh! It’s Melissa McCarthy. Love her.” That’s it. No “OMG SHE’S WEARING WOOL” or “OMG HER BODY IS COVERED UP!” or “OMG THIS IS SO UNFAIR THAT THE FAT GIRL HAS TO WEAR A COAT ON THE COVER OF A MAGAZINE”. While I kinda get where some of these critics are coming from in saying it “covers up” showing off the bodies of those of us who are lovably larger, I think it’s a littttttle bit dramatic. Quite frankly, I think she looks fantastic, and it’s actually kind of nice to see someone on the cover of a magazine WEARING CLOTHES, rather than, well… this.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 9.04.35 PMHow about instead of focusing on what this brilliant, talented plus-size woman is wearing, we focus on the fact that HEY, this is pretty cool that mainstream media is diversifying by even having a talented, brilliant plus-sized woman on a magazine cover. That’s cool stuff. Even cooler? Her headline is about being one of the top women in Hollywood. Not 27 diet tips to help you weigh less than a cotton ball. Not 69 ways to make your man moan in the kitchen. Not 18 ways to make your eyes stand out more, your skin look brighter, your butt look smaller, your boobs look bigger. She’s wearing a coat. Who cares? I wear coats all the time. So do you. It’s fall. The magazine even has a feature on “the Perfect New Coat shape”. Is it the most flattering coat on McCarthy? Maybe not. Is it unflattering? No. She looks great. Who cares? She’s a comedian. She could wear a burlap sack and still make me howl with laughter.

We don’t have discussions like this about men on magazine covers. Can you think of a magazine cover with a dude on it that was scrutinized because of what the guy was wearing? The most recent controversial male magazine cover was this one, because it featured Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and some felt Rolling Stone was celebrating terrorism as magazine covers are usually reserved for “idols”. THAT’s controversial. Not a coat. So my advice to everyone smarming over McCarthy’s chic and oh-so-cozy coat? Focus your energy elsewhere. When we have women of all shapes and sizes on magazine covers EVERY DAY, then we can get picky about what they’re wearing. For now, I’m celebrating the fact that she’s hilarious, awesome, talented and lovely, and Elle recognized it. (Side note: I once saw her husband at a local bar here and reaaaaally wanted to go up to him and tell him I loved his wife, but I figured that might be kind of a jerk thing to do considering he’s an actor and all, too!)

What do you think? Is all this uproar over McCarthy’s coat a crock of wool baloney, or is it justified in that she may have missed an opportunity to promote bigger, beautiful bodies?

 

Weight Loss Surgery

Weight is always a tricky subject. When you talk about your efforts to lose weight, other people’s responses range from the kind-hearted but “yeah right” reaction of “You don’t need to lose weight!” to the “I have a product that will change your life!” to the “Have you considered gastric bypass?” As this little blog has grown, I’ve become less ashamed of telling people I want and need to lose weight, because hell, I write about it several times a week. I’m not embarrassed anymore. My weight is a big problem, and it’s a big problem that is not exclusive to just me. America is getting fatter, and the more we act ashamed and embarrassed, the less we’re thinking forward in terms of action. Fat happens. It sucks. Let’s try to fix it, you know?

When someone used to whisper to me that they had gastric bypass, I’d always think, “Oh, wow. Good for you!”. Usually, these people are now super healthy and average weight, and I would have never known they’d had anything done other than them telling me. Back when my weight problem was more one of overeating and underactivity, I’d brush off weight loss surgery, thinking ‘Naaah, I don’t need that. I just need to try harder.” I even asked a doctor at one point, and he told me I was in a gray area, where I wasn’t *quite* heavy enough to need it. Back then, I thought weight loss surgery was the lazy person’s solution – get your stomach stapled, eat all ya want, lose weight. I now know that that was a very naive assumption. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends in the bariatric blog community, and I’ve even been added to some of their private groups. I know now, from these women and men, that weight loss surgery is NOT the easy way out. You still need to lose weight before you get the surgery, and then before the actual procedure, there’s physical and mental counseling. After, it’s all about portion control, vitamins, protein, reducing junk or suffering extreme side effects. And once you get past the physical baggage of extreme weight loss, there’s the mental side of things. Loose skin, new clothes, jealousy, dealing with overeating, etc.

I used to think weight loss surgery wasn’t an option for me, because I always wanted to do things the “natural” way, aka, not having somebody carve into me with a knife. However, as my weight has steadily crept up despite my improved habits, and especially now, knowing what I do about the conditions making my weight loss goals feel damn near impossible, I’m going to admit that the idea of weight loss surgery has crept into my head more than once. The reactions around me are mixed. Some of my family members don’t like the idea, for the obvious reason of it being a major surgery that can have profound negative side effects. Some of my friends are nonchalant, saying they want me to do whatever makes me happy. Some of my friends are downright against it, one who even reads this blog, who recently schooled me on how me getting weight loss surgery just didn’t match the whole tone and concept of this blog. I have a follow-up appointment with a new doctor tomorrow, and I’m dreading stepping on the scale. I’ve been eating well, exercising and on my new medication, but I’m so afraid the scale will do what it did last time – show a gain. I asked my doctor about weight loss surgery last time I saw her, and she said we consider that when no eating plan is working. I’m guessing if I haven’t seen results tomorrow, I’ll move from a low-carb diet to a no-carb diet. But then, if that doesn’t work, what’s next? I’m not saying I want to, but I am saying I’m giving it some thought.

Tell me what you think about weight loss surgery. Do you know about the different types? Do you know anybody with success stories, or horror stories? I know several people who have both, but for privacy reasons, I’m not going to link them here. What do you think?

I’m not fat, I’m just a descendant of the vikings.

I fit right in!

Many, many years ago, my ancestors from Scandinavia raided, traded, explored and settled in the desirable parts of Europe – parts of Europe that were laden with plump, juicy rabbits, fruitful rivers jumping with fat fish, and green, grassy pastures, the better to fatten their cows for a juicy steak dinner.

In my many years of complaining about my weight, I often was quick to blame my obesity on my genetics. It’s true that on both sides of the family we are stocky, thick people, as tall as we are wide. We all have blonde hair and white skin that turns ruddy from the slightest heat or smallest sip of beer. Genetically, our bodies stored fat like polar bears in the winter. The long, cold winters spent dashing over icebergs required a thick pelt of blubber to keep us warm; and our stunning fur capes and shields looked much better with some curves behind them, thank you very much.

We needed these bodies for winters spent at sea, preparing the pillage and plunder the next unexpecting nation’s refrigerators. Maybe all this history about vikings being raging, blood-thirsty people is missing one key fact – maybe, we were just hungry.

My horned helmet is a crock of viking voodoo!

In honor of my people, I must dispel three key falsehoods about our ancestors:

1) We did not wear horned hats. The familiar “It’s not over till the fat lady sings” image of a big blonde Bertha wearing a silver hat with horns is manufactured, some smart fellow’s marketing move to paint the Vikings as horn-helmeted brutes. Take it straight from the internet horse’s mouth (Wikipedia) “Apart from two or three representations of (ritual) helmets – with protrusions that may be either stylised ravens, snakes or horns – no depiction of Viking Age warriors’ helmets, and no preserved helmet, has horns. In fact, the formal close-quarters style of Viking combat (either in shield walls or aboard “ship islands”) would have made horned helmets cumbersome and hazardous to the warrior’s own side.”

2) We did not drink from the skulls of those we had slain. The only skull I plan to slay is that of a ripe coconut, the better to hold my pina colada as I tan my blubbery backside in Thailand. Apparently, my ancestors didn’t use skulls as tumblers for their Diet Coke, either.”The use of human skulls as drinking vessels—another common motif in popular pictorial representations of the Vikings—is also ahistorical. The rise of this legend can be traced to Ole Worm‘s Runer seu Danica literatura antiquissima (1636), in which Danish warriors drinking ór bjúgviðum hausa [from the curved branches of skulls, i.e., from horns] were rendered as drinking ex craniis eorum quos ceciderunt [from the skulls of those whom they had slain].”

Dirty, blood-thirsty brute!

3) We were not all dirty, barbaric brutes with bugs in our beards. Historical accounts actually prove that the Vikings were among the cleanest civilization in this period’s time. “The Anglo-Danes were considered excessively clean by their Anglo-Saxon neighbours, due to their custom of bathing every Saturday and combing their hair often.[citation needed] To this day, Saturday is referred to as laugardagur / laurdag / lørdag / lördag, “washing day” in the Scandinavian languages. Icelanders were known to use natural hot springs as baths, and there is a strong sauna/bathing culture in Scandinavia to this day.[citation needed]” No wonder I can’t stand a day without washing my hair. There will be no pit-sniffing among my ancestors, thank you very much.

After dispensing this undebatable history to you, I think we can all agree that my obesity is not in any way, shape or form, due to error of my own part. It is clear from these readings that I’m not fat, I’m just a descendant of the Vikings.

(Despite three small, concrete facts…

1. I can’t stand seafood. Vikings ate a lot of it.

2) I can barely hurt a fly. Blood-thirsty? I’m more like Tea-thirsty.

3) I am not a pure viking, as my mom’s side gave me the artistic bohemian heritage from Czechslovakia and Austria. )

So clearly. I’m not fat, I’m just a descendant of the vikings. My weight has nothing to do with college dinners of oil-popped popcorn and guacamole, nor the fact that my biggest form of exercise from the age 13 – 25 was trying to zip up my jeans. I will not take credit for this malady of adiposity – truly, really, thankfully – I’m not fat, I’m just a descendant of the Vikings.