A Calorie Counting Success Story

The Amazing Shrinking Woman

What to Do if You Mess Up Your Diet (Even Though I Didn’t) December 18, 2009

I’m sorry that I’ve been so lazy lately.  I wanted to let you know that I haven’t fallen off the wagon or anything.  (Who is driving/steering the wagon, btw?  I like to think it’s Richard Simmons, and he’s shouting encouragements to us as we bounce along.)  Well, anyway I’ve still been counting and going strong, except yesterday.

Yesterday was a weird day.  I think sometimes my hormones are like “Today we’re just going to do whatever the hell we want, and that means that today is going to be graze-like-a-cow day.  Now head to the kitchen!”  It’s funny.  Once every so often my ability to reason is literally overridden by some PMS-type of self-entitlement that translates into me being really feisty and insatiable.  Yesterday was that day.  Luckily it really only happens once every six months or so.

So what would I do if I had fallen off the wagon, and Richard Simmons was shouting for me to run and catch up?  I think that’s the problem with falling off the wagon.  We think that the wagon doesn’t wait for us, and that’s the idea behind the saying.  But we need to think of it differently.  We need to think that there are lots of other wagons coming along, or the wagon will always wait for us.

Lots of times when we mess up a diet, we have this terrible bout of all-or-nothing thinking.  It’s like we just say “well I really screwed the pooch on that one–guess I’ll just go to Golden Corral and make it official.”  But we should realize that it’s okay to slip up.  In case we do, we should just do what the British say, which is “Keep calm and carry on.”  Maybe all dieters should put that famous slogan somewhere in their kitchen or someplace they’d see it.  Here’s what it looks like:

So that’s what to do when you find yourself in the dirt looking at the backside of a wagon.  Keep calm and carry on.  You don’t have to run to catch up, so there’s no need to panic.  Just go right back to what you were doing before.


In other news, I’ve had a revelation.  I used to use Thursday nights as my TGIT (I don’t work on Fridays) culinary celebration.  On Thursday nights I’d eat Chinese usually.  Chinese is difficult to measure though because there’s really no telling what’s in it.  Do they put 4 tablespoons of sugar in something that you don’t even think of as sweet?  How much sesame oil is topping off this dish?  No one knows.  So Chinese, while fine to eat when calorie counting, isn’t exactly the best choice for a weekly meal.  (Once a week= 4 times a month= 48 times a year.  $14 x 48 = $672 a year on Chinese food.  YIPES!)  I realized that if I’m going to spend $675 dollars on something, I’d rather it didn’t make me fat.

Sushi!  I love sushi.  Of course, I don’t eat any of the raw stuff, but I still love the rest of it.  Sushi is considerably more healthy than Chinese food that’s deep fried and soaked in sugar and oil.  So I can eat sushi for my TGIT meals and still get that TGIT feeling without as many calories.  Genius!  I should get a Nobel Peace Prize for this.


Lastly, I think I’m going to lower my calories after Christmas.  I want to speed up the weight loss, and it’s coming off so SLOWLY.  I know that weight loss is just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, so I’m not going to just drink salt water and eat a can of tuna a day, but I’m going to lower my calorie intake to 1,500 after Christmas.  I’d do it before, but I won’t lie, I want to be able to eat more Christmas cookies.

I don’t know if this is a “bad” move or not.  I think it’s fine.  It should just move me past the current plateau that I’m on.  Right now I’m eating on a diet more than what most women should have in a normal day.  Granted, I’m pretty tall, but still, I don’t think it’s going to kill me to slash a few more calories.

Welp, that’s all for now.  I hope you’re all having a good time as Christmas approaches, and I especially hope you’ve been nice so Santy won’t have you on the naughty list.  (I’m a lifetime member of the naughty list, but Santy is forgiving!)


Vitamin D and Stop the Presses(!) Because I Agree with Rosie O’Donnell December 8, 2009

Wow. I can honestly say I never thought I’d say this, ever. But I agree with Rosie O’Donnell.

I didn’t trust her at all back in the day when she had a talk show and was obsessed with Tom Cruise. I know Tom Cruise does it for some people, but not for me. I’ve always been more of a Hugh Jackman girl, and if he’s not available, call Clive Owen or Daniel Craig.

But Rosie O said that “exposure to the sun isn’t dangerous,” and I agree. Now, before the skin cancer lynch mob successfully beats down my door, I must clarify my own position on this issue and give some background on my opinion.

This country has a terrible problem with cancer. All types of cancer. This has really puzzled scientists and doctors and all sorts of people who wear white coats to work. But recently, the UC San Diego’s School of Medicine had a lightbulb moment about cancer and a possible cause. They realized that many of the diseases that plague modern society and are often blamed on pollution, plastic, sugar etc etc, might actually be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. (I would normally shorten that to VD, but I’m not feeling that playful tonight.) In fact, the math/science types at UCSD made an entire website devoted to vitamin D deficiency.  I suggest you check it out.

Why does the modern world have such a serious problem with vitamin D?  Because the body makes vitamin D naturally… from sunlight exposure.  We’re known for sitting on our butts inside all day at work until we drive home to sit on our butts inside there.  For one week in the summer we go to the beach and either wear enough sunscreen to make coworkers think we lied about going, or so little that the chef at the seafood restaurant chases us with a pot of boiling water, thinking we’re lobsters.  Neither of these is good, because we should take our sunlight in moderation, because, as my mother says, “the skin never forgets a ray of sun,” or so we’ve been told.

Unfortunately, certain people aren’t privy to as much sunlight as others.  Canadians, for instance, don’t get nearly as much strong sunlight as we southerners do.  Neither do people in Maine, North Dakota, or Michigan.  All of those people have worse cancer problems than those who do get regular sun.

Now I’m not any sort of “back to nature” type, but I do think that earlier people did something right (except in the Middle Ages, when they all died at 25).  They walked around outside, and they ate natural food.  Oreos were hard to come by in the 3rd century.  We should probably take the hint, and do more of what they did, like spending some time outside without sunscreen.

Naturally, when Rosie O said what she did, the skin cancer people grabbed their ropes and ran out the door, then ran back in and slathered on the SPF 120, then ran out again, hot on Rosie’s trail.  They said what she said was “irresponsible.”  I think her flock of seagulls hair cut was more irresponsible than this episode,  but tomato/ tomahto.

Apparently the research is so strong that the Canadian government has recommended that all Canadians take a superdose of the vitamin in order to stave off cancer and other diseases.  It really makes sense, I think.  We’ve switched from spending tons of time outside to almost none in about a century, and consequently, diseases are stalking us.  Consider this: the “flu season.”  Why is it that the flu comes in winter and stays til early spring until it magically disappears?  It’s because people aren’t going outside in the cold winter, and they don’t have any vitamin D to fight off getting sick.  Once the weather improves and it’s nice outside though–wham!  People are out in the sun again, making boatloads of vitamin D, effectively ending the flu season.  Interesting thought, no?

Now I’m not sure I agree with Rosie O entirely, however, because she also says she “lives to tan.”  I’ve never liked lying around in the sun, because I’ve always been afraid that a bug would crawl on me.  But what’s wrong with working in the yard for 30 minutes in the heat of the day?

Whenever I go to the beach and don’t put on too much sunscreen, my skin improves within 2 or 3 days.  I usually don’t have breakouts for a week or more after being in the sun.  This is not to say that we should get burned, though.  Being fair-skinned, I’d have to work up to a tan in 30 minute increments before I could spend more time out without sunscreen.  If you’re going to be in very very strong sun, you should wear sunscreen if you’re starting to burn.

The white lab coat people suggest that we spend 15-20 minutes in the very strong sun every day (with zero sunscreen and at least 40% of the body exposed).  This isn’t always possible, because it gets cold in the winter.  That’s why instead of spending the time outside, you can take vitamin D3 gelcaps to make up for it.  You probably shouldn’t exceed 3000 Iu (international units) a day if you’re getting solar-powered vitamin D, but the jury is still out on exact dosages.  Also, it takes your body about 48 hrs to absorb all the vitamin D from your skin, so when you shower, don’t scrub the areas that were exposed to sun, or else you’ll wash all the vitamin D down the drain.

So that’s something to think about.  People who get vitamin D are far less likely to develop cancer.

Take my own grandfather, for example.  He was a smoker.  When I say “smoker” I mean he was a cigarette with a person attached.  He started smoking when he was about 8 or 9, and did so until his emphysema prevented him in his 80s, but even then he chewed tobacco and smoked a pipe.  He also was a supervisor for Bell South, so he spent all day at work standing in the hot southern sun making sure that workmen put up phone lines correctly.   He was unbelievably tan.  Brown.  If his skin were a trendy paint color it would be “toasted autumn.”  For all that smoking, he never had cancer, or any other non-smoking related disease.  Even when he was retired, he took long walks outside every day.  And he didn’t wear sunscreen, let’s just say that.

So I agree with Rosie O’Donnell.  For once.


Why Should I Eat Six Small Meals a Day? December 5, 2009

I think we’ve all heard this one.  Don’t eat one huge meal, or three normal meals, but rather six small meals a day.

In the past, on all my various diet debacles, I’ve flirted with the idea of Body for Life, and that is one of the programs that makes you eat 5 or 6 small meals a day.  I think the South Beach diet might also encourage multiple small meals.

Why is this?  Where did all this “eat six small meals a day” business come from anyway?

When I was growing up, I heard, as I’m sure you’ve heard, “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”  As I’ve said before, I don’t understand why the king and the prince aren’t eating the same thing, but no matter–you get the idea.

The point of the six small meals is two-fold: it keeps your metabolism from slowing down because there’s always a new supply of food, and it keeps your energy levels high for the same reason.

1.)  It keeps your metabolism high.

Remember the post not too long ago about reworking your metabolism?  Read it here.  Basically what I said there is that when you aren’t eating, your metabolism slows down.  The capability of our metabolism to speed and slow based on the needs of our body is actually really useful.  Well, it would be more useful if we were cave people, and maybe it’ll come in handy again after a nuclear holocaust.  But it doesn’t slow without a reason, and that reason is most often lack of new energy (food) entering the system.

Doesn’t this seem like a catch-22, though?  Think about it.  You’ve got to eat more to burn more.  It doesn’t really make that much sense, but that’s how it works.  I’m convinced that our minds are always thinking beyond our own reasoning, so when we realize that this is just the way it is, our “back burner” part of the brain doesn’t believe it, and that keeps us from really committing ourselves to acting on it.

Basically what eating six small meals a day does is convince your body that there is new food coming in all the time; there’s no need to worry–you don’t have to bank what you don’t use.  That way the body starts working with the energy you’re supplying to it much more efficiently.

2.)  Your energy level stays high.

This is the same idea as the metabolism.  When your body has a constant supply of food, your metabolism doesn’t slow and you don’t get that low blood sugar empty feeling that makes you want to tear through your kitchen like the monster in a godzilla movie.

Now I’ve often thought of scheduling my eating along these lines, but it wasn’t until last night at about 8:30 when I was standing in my kitchen griping about how I didn’t have anything to eat that I realized that the problem has a fairly easy solution.  Six small meals a day!

Why hadn’t I ever actually tried it?  Because it seemed like so much work.  I’m a busy person who doesn’t have time to measure out almonds with a pharmacy pill counter six times a day.  But last night the answer clicked.

Just divide your calories allowed by six!  Duh.  So if I’m allowed 1,758 calories a day, then each meal on the six-meal plan would amount to 293 calories or fewer.  Since it’s so close to a rounder number, I could shoot for 300 and go easy on the last one, or something like that.

So what I should do is this: get healthy food (because eating six Krispy Kreme donuts a day isn’t exactly a balanced diet), stock the Ranch with fresh fruits and other easy things, and then decide on the intervals.  Since I still like making real food and cooking, I’d probably combine two of the meals a day or so for supper.

The schedule would look something like this:

8-9:45 ish — breakfast of grits and butter

11:00 ish — a banana and an apple

1:00pm ish — sandwich

3:00pm ish — nuts or a slug o’ peanut butter  (I’d eat something here, but come in way under 300 so my supper could be a bit bigger)

5:00pm ish — fish, potatoes, and peas

9:00pm ish — popcorn (again coming in under 300 to give supper a wider buffer)

Honestly, that doesn’t seem so bad at all.  In fact, it will be good for me, and I’m almost sure it will speed up my rate of weight loss.  I’ve been ending many days with 700+ calories left to go, and while I’ve been losing weight for sure, I’m getting low blood sugary at times, and that’s a feeling I hate.

So if any of you are going to try this, let me know.  I’m sure some of you have done it before, maybe on South Beach.

Answer the poll about six meals a day if you’re feeling saucy!


“A Lesson in Pretty” Starring Meg Ryan December 4, 2009

Today as I was cruising the internet celebrity smut (I think this is what women look at in the same quantities that nasty men look at porn), I noticed Meg Ryan at the premier of her movie Serious Moonlight, and I decided it’s time for the Calorie Counter to give the internet a lesson on pretty.

Basically, this is a giant comment on restraint and self control.

We (I) want to be skinny.  I believe that being so will improve the overall quality of my life, as well as my downstairs neighbor’s life (old wooden floors).  But seeing the pictures of Meg Ryan made me think I really shouldn’t wait to get there before I start enjoying “skinny things.”  In other words, it’s time to be happy with who and what we are, even if we see that we need improvement.

Too often in our culture, we think that we can improve on a situation without resolving the underlying issue.  In lots of cases, people want lap-band surgery or gastric bypass surgery so that they will finally be happy.  But having a plastic boa constrictor on you intestines isn’t going to change the way you see things, and lying on an operating table for 8 hours to have your stomach reshaped from a watermelon to an egg isn’t going to do it either.

So let’s start being happy with who we are now.  As an example of trying too hard, let’s have a looksee at Meg Ryan.  Or as I like to call her nowadays, The Meg Ryan Who Stole Christmas.

Now I’ve never liked Sleepless in Seattle, *the calorie counter ducks as shoes and rotten fruit fly through the air on a collision course with her face and the crowd starts hysterically screaming and crying* but I didn’t hate You’ve Got Mail.  Those two movies are the extent of my pre-trout (you’ll see) knowledge of Meg Ryan, and I remember her being likable.

Here’s Meg Ryan before she was abducted by school of alien trout and replaced by her own half fish/ half human daughter:

Pretty, no?  Normal, even.

And here she is post-op/abduction:  (Not for the easily frightened or those prone to nightmares.  You’ve been warned.)

…Oh… oh goodness… what time is it?  Crap.  I passed out for 18 minutes.  What can I say–a picture of Megatrout Ryan to my eyes is like an ether soaked rag to my face.

So the lesson here is–you can always lose weight, but Meg Ryan can never get her face back.  So don’t let something like a few extra pounds keep you from enjoying your life, and don’t try to be something you’re not (like a fish).

Now, enough about trout people.  Let’s talk about me!

I know that I said I was going walking the other morning, but I didn’t.  I know, I know, but it was so cold outside!  To make up for it, a group of friends and I played in a dodgeball tournament that night, and we won 2 games (out of 9, but who’s counting?)!  It was quite the workout.  I haven’t run any distance in over a year, so to go from sedentary to sprint-dodge-duck-jump-shimmy-sashay-sidestep-run-walk-jazzhands-sprint mode was quite the shock to my leg and back and torso muscles.  As a result, all of the above have decided to take the next few days off and not do much movement.  Consequently, I am a wee bit sore.

But the good news is, there is a intramural team in the spring, and I might join it.

As for what I’ve eaten today–leftovers from last night (turkey with taco seasoning, sour cream, black beans) and cheese grits this morning.  Also I’ve started drinking tea in the mornings and it really zaps my appetite… probably because I’ve got the shakes from all the caffeine.

Goodnight, readers.  I hope you can sleep after seeing the trout who stole Christmas.


Day 16 – The Triumphant Return of the Calorie Counter, and a Dog Bite November 19, 2009

Hello, hello, hello!  Or in the words of Ann Curry, “Good morning, good morning, everybody, in the news this morning, good morning.”  Oh what the heck, I’ll just let her say it.

Gets me every time.

So as some of you guessed, my prolonged absence was actually due to a misguided and ill-conceived attempt to grow a mullet like Tom Brady.  Now David Beckham is getting in on the weird mullet act.  Should such a beautiful man get a roadkill haircut?  And again, like Tom Brady and his lady, isn’t David Beckham like, married to Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, aka Skinny McPencil?

It may seem like I’m digressing.  I’m not.  Posh, who likes to be called Victoria, (it’s a compliment, she says… How is your name a compliment, unless your name is Damnyouresexy Jones?) recently said in an interview that she won’t lie–she eats lots of salads.  “Salad.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m not one of those people that says “Oh, I eat hamburgers.”

And the sick thing is, I’m so glad she said that.  I never thought that she ate anything other than salad, except for maybe the occasional kilo of cocaine (jk, no one can pry the cocaine shipments from Kate Moss’s kung-fu grip), but I’m just glad that she finally publicly said something honest.  This helps take away the stigma from women in this country who DO eat hamburgers (guilty!) that we’re somehow inherently flawed because we can’t seem to look like Victoria Beckham.  I do like Victoria Beckham, because she let her son wear his astronaut suit out in public, because she seems to love her children and her husband, and because she’s not shoveling loads of bull at the average American.  For that, Victoria, (can I call you Vicky?) I am grateful.

Now enough about boring, skinny famous people.  Let’s talk about me!  I have been noticeably absent for the past five or so days.  Honestly I was working like a crazy person trying to get something ready for tomorrow.  Of course, I’ve wanted to blog so badly the whole time that I’m staying up way too late tonight as a trade off, but no matter.  Back in college I’d never go to sleep before 3am.  I was so nocturnal I thought I’d begun to grow a marsupial pouch.  (In reality I was just getting another fat roll on my stomach.  I blame Taco Bell for being open til 2am or later.)

During my absence, I did not let you down, dear readers.  I stayed within my calories and tracked them compulsively.

One thing that I really must work on is eating regularly.  I eat breakfast every day, because as reader Christine mentioned on her blog the other day, eating breakfast kickstarts the metabolism.  Now I’ll be honest.  There’s lots of dietary information out there that I think is total crap, but I’m a big believer in the metabolism.

Thyroid issues aside, I don’t think that some people are born with a fast one or a slow one.  I think we train ourselves into one end of the spectrum.  For instance, in high school I “ran track.”  (Translation: I did shot-put and discus on the condition that I never, ever had to run in practice–a condition to which the coach agreed because I held the county records and he needed the meet points.  Despite the common assumptions, shot-putters are not all Helga and Thor.  It’s all about technique, really.)  My friends were some of the distance runners.  Not surprisingly, they were very, very thin.  In the off season they ran cross-country.  In their spare time, they ran around their neighborhoods.  Meanwhile I was sunning myself in the backyard and biting individual grapes from a bunch I dangled from my hand.

It is my opinion that, (and I am by no means a doctor–I don’t even play one on the internet–so feel free to ignore this non-medical advice), a slow metabolism lives in a body that moves less, and a fast metabolism lives in a body that moves more.

The metabolism is what allows a bear to hibernate for months and wake up thinner but healthy.  His metabolism slows to a crawl and he stores all his fat.  His body works very efficiently on little energy.

That’s the same thing we do when we skip breakfast!  We send the bear into hibernation and our bodies start conserving fuel (FAT) because there’s no new supply.

Think about the first people on this planet.  I’m of the they-were-put-here persuasion, but you might be of the they-evolved-from-sea-monkies persuasion.  Either way, they didn’t have it easy.  They basically walked around (which is why walking is so important to a healthy lifestyle) looking for food, ate when they found it, went hungry when the didn’t.  That’s why our bodies can work much like a bear’s.  We were built for such occasional periods of hunger.  It’s not a flaw that we gain weight, it’s part of the intricate design of the human body.  This was all worked out long before Glen Bell ever dreamed of opening the first Taco Bell.  And even longer before someone realized that a drive thru meant never even having to stand up to get your food.

So the moral of the story is eat your breakfast.  Otherwise you’re just making weight loss harder.

In other news, I have a puncture wound on my right pinkie where the dog bit me when I was trying to take away a pecan tree branch that she wanted to bring inside and chew into sawdust.  I was very concerned about this at first, but then I realized that I’d be really ticked off if someone tried to take away my 7 Layer Burrito, and then I kinda see where she’s coming from.  However, that’s no excuse.  So I’m going to work on enforcing the rules with her more.  It’s been hard because I’ve been so busy, but she’ll be happier if she’s not biting me and getting a subsequent spanking.  The Ranch is a mess too, and the Mothership is coming to visit tomorrow, so I’ve got to get cleaning as soon as asap.  (My best friend used to say that.)

I promise I’ll try to keep updating regularly.  I’m also thinking progress photos once a week.  I know I said that earlier, so now I’m going to make good on it.

Today I ate:


Grits –130

1 T. butter –100

-Supper- (chicken soup)

chicken breast –220

1 small russet potato –59

rotini –239




Calories remaining: 790 (TOO MANY!)

Should I buy some Nutella for situations like this, when I have almost 800 calories left?  I think I just might…

Oh and by the way, I had my “I feel skinnier” moment this morning!  I’ll tell more tomorrow afternoon or night.



Day 6 – Supper (and calorie counting vindication from the Wall Street Journal) November 9, 2009

Filed under: Lessons Learned,Weight Loss — felineaids @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Apparently all those crazy science-types who peer through bubbling beakers and scribble cryptic notes on graph paper have come to a conclusion about calorie counting.  (drumroll) It works!  (Cymbal crash.)  So it doesn’t matter what kind of calories you eat, only how many.  I suspected this, but I’m sure this study cost several million dollars, so I’ll give it some credit.

Read the article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123559955210376029.html?mod=dist_smartbrief

Have you ever tried calorie counting before?

So it’s supper time.  I had noodles and peas.  Not too exciting, so this won’t be an exciting post.  But I do have a question for you lurkers.  Why are there Christmas-themed commercials on already?


2 T. Ken’s light caesar dressing –70

1 1/2 c. Ronzoni rotini pasta –360

1 can of peas –210

1 medium onion –64

Total for supper –704

Remaining calories –386


Day 4 – Breakfast and Weight Watchers banking November 7, 2009

Today I weigh 222.0 lbs.  I LOST 2 POUNDS!  Just kidding.  It’s water-weight.  Back in my Weight Watcher days I’d run to the bathroom before weighing at the counter, so when I did finally weigh-in I’d usually lost at least a pound since I left home (I have a bladder the size of a blue whale).  You know what I call that?  Delusion.

I think what really messed me up with Weight Watchers was their “banking concept.”  You could “bank” points from one day and use them another day.  So I’d tell myself that I’d bank later.  In other words, I would eat a whole pan pizza from Pizza Hut because I’d “bank some points later.”  Of course the chances of that working out were roughly the same as the chances of me winning the Tour de France.

None of this was Weight Watchers’ fault, but it opened the door for me to be an idiot.  That’s why I’ve decided that the simpler the rules, the better.  The simple rule for me is this: no more calories than I’m allowed.

I have a confession.  Last night I was tempted to fudge my numbers!  I went to Taco Bell, as I said, but before I left the ranch (my apartment), I debated whether I should just go over my daily allowance or not.  I though well, I can go under tomorrow… and then I realized that idea reminded me of something… BANKING FAILURE!  So before I left the house, I decided what I would get.  A good idea might be to only take the amount of money that will get you the food you’ve decided on.  I think the key is to decide before you leave.  That’s the only thing that kept me from a T-Bell binge.  I must say, that was some of the best Taco Bell I’ve had in a while, and for once it didn’t bring shades of Montezuma’s revenge with it, probably because I ate less and ate slower.  It felt like a victory.  Those little victories are so important for a diet, because you’re essentially training yourself to do behave differently, so you have to reward yourself for the right things.  The victories should be over your former bad judgment and not over your diet.  That sounds nice written down, doesn’t it?  Let’s hear it again.

Your little victories should be over your former bad judgment and not over your diet.


1/4 c. grits (an amount I learned to eyeball by using the same bowl when measuring it every day) –130

1 T. butter –100

grape fake crystal light –0

Total for breakfast –230

Calories remaining today: 1,573