Sunday, January 17, 2010

Indulge Me!

Hello, FG#2 here with a recipe I tried this evening and liked a lot and with a little of my ongoing weight loss philosophy. First, the recipe, which came out of the same magazine/book Laura mentioned in the preceding post. This one was the Chicken Sausage and Apples. The recipe called for McIntosh apples, but I had Granny Smiths (I love a tart apple!), so that's what I used. It would certainly be a bit more colorful with a red apple, or even a combination of apples if you wanted to get really creative! Anyway, a 1 cup serving of this recipe is 3 points. The recipe said I'd get six servings and I did, so I ate one for dinner and froze the rest in one-serving sizes in freezer bags.

It doesn't look like a whole lot, but that's kind of a big bowl, and that and a 1/2 cup serving of couscous (okay I pair weird stuff, and leftover couscous is what I had in the fridge, though the recipe suggested a mashed sweet potato) was certainly filling enough.

I didn't do a complete cost analysis, but I bought the apples and onions by the bag, so they weren't expensive. The cost for the 1/4 cup of apple juice was negligible as well. The costly part was the sausage, and I figured that out to be 93 cents per serving. I'd estimate that the apples (three), onion (one), juice, and thyme (I used 1 tsp dried thyme) cost around a dollar or less, so this entree cost approximately $2, and was easily prepared in 15-20 minutes. That's good, since the magazine promised 90-some 15-minute meals (the other day I made a chicken posole chili from the same magazine, and although the actual chili took maybe 15 minutes, that didn't take into account the time needed to cook and shred the chicken, but even so, we're talking meals you can make pretty quickly).

So, what about my philosophy? Laura has certainly heard me whine enough about how I hate keeping track of points for food, activity, etc. I don't know why my psyche resists this. It's akin to the way my brain shuts down when someone starts talking about taxes and other stuff involving numbers. Sometimes I think it's just that for so many years I lived a very regimented life (due to long commutes, etc.) that I rebel against that sort of thing now, or maybe it's just that my aging brain doesn't want to work that hard. Maybe it's a little of both. Who knows?

I certainly understand the purpose of tracking points, but what to do if one doesn't want to track points? Well, I'm about to find out. I'm a scientist by training, so I am not averse to a little experimentation. I know the Weight Watchers system works, so the question is whether I can modify it to indulge my internal resistance to tracking numbers. Why points? I think for a lot of folks, it's just easier than thinking about and tracking calories, fat, fiber, etc. WW has taken that work out of things by assigning the points values to various foods based on those factors. Laura has a mind that's more than a decade younger than mine and she has no trouble keeping track of the points values for a huge number of foods. I, on the other hand, seem to be experiencing the sort of brain fade so eloquently (and scarily) discussed in the book Carved in Sand by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin--I, who memorized my way through the classifications of species in college, had no trouble learning hundreds of chemical reactions (and their names) in chemistry, and who could tell you on what page of a textbook specific information would be found, can't remember my own name half the time (okay, slight exaggeration, but not by much), let alone the points values on a gazillion different foods. I know, I know, there are booklets with all that information listed (I have them) and gadgets that let you calculate all that (I have them too), and yet I don't want to drag those things out every time I want to eat something. And so, even though in my heyday I was the Queen of Memorizing All Sorts of Stuff, I find myself struggling with this whole thing. I don't know if there are other folks out there who have this same problem, but the fact is that my brain is just plain resisting this stuff! So I am going to work around that, hence my experiment.

In my mind WW has really turned portion control, calorie (etc.) counting, and all that into a series of numbers (points) that makes it easy for people to keep track of what they're putting in and what they're taking out (in the form of activity). The whole program is really about teaching people how to recognize healthy foods (or cook in a more healthy way) and normal portions, in a way that's easy for most people (except the brain resisters like me) to use on a daily basis. Make it easy and people will stick with it. And it works. It's worked for me, so I'm not saying all this from some sort of sour grapes perspective, either.

So for the time being, my experiment is this: I will pay attention to points for the stuff whose points I remember and for the recipes I try and so on, but I am not going to be a slave to points (in other words, I will have a fairly close daily idea of the number of points I've ingested, but I'm not going to keep an exact count--for example I already know how many points my normal breakfast is and it's pretty much unchanging). Instead I am going to try to be a little more free form, while exercising portion control and simply increasing my intake of the things that I know are low points or no points and severely limiting the stuff that I know would be high-point-value items (you know, cookies, fudge, bacon cheese fries, most fast food, butter, cheese--oh dear, that one is going to be hard!). When I want something sugary, I will reach for an apple or banana or other piece of fruit. I'm not a big salty snack fan, so that's really an issue for me. Really my biggest problem is sweets. I stopped eating most sweets, and especially chocolate, before Thanksgiving and lost 10 pounds very quickly. Note that I didn't stop eating all sweets, just most. I will indulge in the occasional plate of bacon cheese fries with Laura.

I'm already pretty active with life here on the farm, but I can increase that activity by adding in regular "programmed" exercise. Let's face it, my body is used to lifting and carrying bales of hay, bags of feed, full buckets of water and so on. So in the greater picture, even though I'm already active, I need to find ways to increase my activity, and that pretty much means regimented exercise. I stopped jogging during hunting season, but it's safe (relatively speaking) to go back in the woods (well, the nursery where I like to jog), so I'll be heading back out with the dogs in the mornings. I can also spend some time on toning exercises. Heck, I'm unemployed--I ought to have all the time in the world to exercise, right?

Anyway, this post has already gotten quite long, but this is the way I want to try to lose weight. I'm going to give it a couple of months and if it's not working, then I'll cry my mea culpa and get religious about strictly following the WW way. But for now, I'm going to experiment with this slightly more lax version and see what happens. (I'm certainly not recommending that the rest of the world do this, because it will be very easy to slip into old habits and the like, but weight loss is really about lifestyle change and I really don't plan to spend the rest of my life counting points even if I had to do so in the short term, so I figure why not jump straight to the part where I just try to live the lifestyle change and see if it works for me? I mean, really, I know what I should be eating, and I need to just do it.)


Laura Carson said...

Oh man, that looks YUM! I love that kind of thing. I also think that just like dog food choices that losing weight, and maintaining weight is a matter of what works for an individual person and respecting that for each other. So, I say GO JULIE!

Robin French said...

Yep, i'm tweaking on WW this time around myself. I'm not going to count most fruits and raw veggies so that i'l be more likely to reach for them rather than some other kind of snack - apples and bananas didn't get me here. And i'm doing my best to avoid the "diet food" mentality. I'm eating my regular stuff but less of it for the most part. I choose things like reduced fat potato chips anyway, so my choices aren't that awful. That recipe looks good!

Roseanne Dilario said...

To help with losing weight, a friend of mine is suggesting I use Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets, which she describes as basically a portioning guide that also seasons meat and fish. Kind of like the “palm of hand” rule, but more accurate. Does anyone have input on this one? She claims it is working for her with home cooking. I want to give it a shot but it looks like it is only available online.

Laura Carson said...

Normally I'd go on and delete a post that looks a whole lot like spam as this does, but I think for now we'll let this one stay.

After taking a look at the product I'd say it looks more to me like a gimmick designed to be reasonably helpful while relieving you of your money. The concept is that these sheets are sized to reflect a correct portion of meat. Ideally one would cut the meat to fit the portion sheet (uh...and what of the leftover meat that's been trimmed off??) and then leave the meat on the sheet to collect the spices from the sheet. Then one takes the meat off of the sheet and cooks it.

1. I want to control my spices, personally.

2. I want to use my money in the best way possible, and spend less to eat healthier.

3. I'd much prefer investing $10 in a food scale that I can use over time than investing $35 over and over (as the sheets are disposable).

From my calculations to use these sheets would up my cost per portion by between $0.45 and $0.60 per serving. Assuming the smaller number and assuming I'd use just one per day that's an additional $18.00 per month expenditure that's not even on the FOOD itself. If I used two per day?? $36.00 per month. That is more than my weekly grocery budget at the moment.

No thanks. I'll either use a visual aid, like the palm of my hand, or get out my scale.

Laura Carson said...

I should have said figures based on buying the 15 packs ($0.60/serving). At the moment the 60 ct variety packs are on sale and would reduct the cost. However, that's still an extra cost I don't want.

Paula said...

I'm feeling the same way about counting points, Julie. I'm still tweaking, though, as I can't seem to do as well if I'm not as regimented...

catherinec said...

Have you heard of the No S Diet before? It's not really a diet, it's more of a change your attitude and way of life - something you can do long term (ie, the rest of your life). I followed it a little bit last year and did well and then the holidays got in the way.

Anyway, there is a book but the website and forums explain it in detail. Heck, the front cover of the book/website explains it all. Just an alternative to keeping track of calories and points.

(and nope, I'm not a spammer - I post on ODO a lot!)

Laura Carson said...

LOL! We know who YOU are Catherine. ;) Didn't someone on ODO mention that? May have even been you, I can't remember. But the concept sounds interesting, and I'll bet it might suit Julie very well. I personally have to have structure. LOTS of structure. But what I remember of it seems like a reasonable way to go about it.