For those of you that are not familiar with the friends of Bill W., that is a reference to Alcoholics Anonymous. It is also a reference to a growing (pun unintended) problem in America, and I suspect among food bloggers.
Here's the only verifiable fact that I will provide this posting, the rest is just going to be a guess, and an admission... According to the USA TODAY article you can find by clicking HERE, 30 % of Americans are 30 pounds or more overweight (the clinical definition of obese). BUT, 65% of Americans are overweight (anywhere from 1 to 29 pounds above "normal") or obese.
I have had weight issues for many years. In the 80's I was a runner, and consistently finished 10K races averaging under 7 minute miles. I lost the desire to continue, and I started gaining 3 pounds a year, until, 25 years later, my once slim 160 pound body became a bloated 235 pound (OK, I lied, my high was 240 pounds). Over the years, I recognized the problem (usually when I had to buy 5 new pairs of pants because I finally admitted I hit a new milepost). I never had real health issues due to weight. My blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is in good range, pulse - normal and Heart strong. But my quality of life was deteriorating faster than my age deserves. I was on weight watchers for a year (lost 30 pounds), I tried Adkins (lost 20 pounds), I started running again (hurt a knee) and joined gyms three different times. Long term, not the results I wanted.
OK, that's my admission, but suddenly, something is happening. Tomorrow, I will be blogging my 100th post. I am preparing that post as we speak. I will be reliving some of my biggest hits, revisiting a few duds that I can improve on and talking about what I have learned in my 4 months as a blogger. I have been pondering about what I have learned. In many ways, blogging is adding quality to my life. Added many things because I blog...
But I have also lost something because I blog... 10 pounds. Sure, it is a small start, and I know from experience that it is a long way from a true lifestyle change. But the 3 pounds a year were put on without much effort, and honestly the 10 pounds came off without much effort. I have dieted in the past. Take a look at my blog from the beginning, I never talk about low cal, offer low fat alternatives or talk about depriving myself of foods I want. In the last 4 months, I have cooked what I want, and eaten what I want in the quantities I wanted. No one is more surprised than I am that my jeans have a little extra give now.
So, I wonder what is going on. I have been considering it, and here are four things I think I am doing better, that made a difference...
- I shop on the outside aisles at the grocery store. I was talking to my butcher the other day, and he explained the layout of grocery stores... The outside aisles have all the fresh perishable foods. Milk and dairy, fruits and vegetables, meat and fish and items with very few preservatives health food, allergy free items). The aisles in the middle of the grocery store have all the prepackaged high in preservatives, over chemicaled items. My favorite breakfast cereal, Sugar Corn Pops is full of... well, sugar. My favorite canned soup (Campbell's chicken noodle) is full of salt and a frozen pizza is full of cheese (that is not really cheese), over processed meat and more chemicals than recognisable foods. I also remembering a diet that the person only ate foods with ingredients he could pronounce. Without consciously trying that diet, that is exactly what I have become. I may eat what I had last night for breakfast, but I know every ingredient (including REAL sugar and not the chemical alternatives). If I use pineapple in a recipe, I am more likely to use a real pineapple as opposed to canned pineapple (again, filled with chemicals). Even items that are next to each other, I will opt for quality fresh ingredients, as opposed to prepackaged heavily chemicalled alternatives. I buy bread from the fresh bakery section that will go bad faster even though wonder bread will take a month to go bad. Ingredients matter to my food, and because I am blogging, I am making better choices. Those better choices are on the outside aisles of the grocery store.
- I eat at home. Have any of you readers ever seen that movie, SUPER SIZE ME? You at least heard the premise, one guy eats nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days. Sure it was a gimmick, and no one really would do that, but one fact really stuck out when I saw it. There is only one item on the entire McDonald's menu (other than prepackaged sealed items like milk and bottled water that is provided by separate vendors) that does not have salt added to it. Go ahead and ponder that for a second before I give you the answer (in fact, gold star to anyone who comments what that item is (no far if you remember from the movie)). The milkshakes have salt added. Same with the cherry pies (with no real cherries), salads, soft drinks (there is more salt in a McDonald's diet cola than in the same brand canned diet soda). It is very easy to pick on McDonald's, and they serve what people want. But that lesson is not lost on most restaurants. Too much salt and industrial ingredients with chemicals added for preservatives are in just about everything you order in a restaurant. But by eating at home, I avoided many of those hidden calories, salts and chemicals. I have dined (dinner) out 2 nights when i took a brief vacation with my wife, and one trip to a pizza parlor with friends since I started blogging. The rest of the food I ate is from the outside aisles of the grocery store.
- I move a bit more. Nothing crazy, I don't run and I have not joined a gym. But two hours of prep work in the kitchen and an hour on the grill 2 or 3 times a week is 6 or 9 hours of me standing, walking from one cabinet to the prep area, deep knee bends to find that lost cooking pot, up, down, across...it all adds up to moving. I do listen to my iPod while I cook, and I have been known to disco dance a little during Barry Manilo's Copa Cabana (sorry to the head bangers for my choice in music). At least once a week, I have everything I need except one ingredient. Instead of driving the 2 and 1/2 miles to my local underpriced grocery store, I will ride my bike and even occasionally I walk it. It's not a lot, it's not a lifestyle choice, but it is better than walking up the stairs from my TV room to the kitchen to microwave a Hotpockets for lunch. I honestly can not think of a day when I have not moved just a little bit more only because I blog.
- I GRILL. My blog is a specialty blog, and I try to grill as much of my meal as possible. For that reason, I try to find foods that grill well. Vegetables grill great. Very few desserts grill well. I eat more vegetables than I eat desserts. Also, meats are healthier when cooked on a grill. Remember the George Foreman grill ads, with all the fat dripping out. That is what happens on the grill. Great flavor, and less fat. Because I grill, I make healthier choices, and the food comes out tastier and less fat (not no-fat, just less).
But, this is me, covering a very short period of time. I hope that this is a trend that continues, so I would like to hear from fellow foodies... Has blogging improved your choices? Have you gained weight since starting blogging? Have you lost? Is it a constant struggle that you think about with every meal (been there), or have you just decided to enjoy life and let the chips (or fat rolls) fall where the may (kind of where I am now)?
************************************Many of us participate in the FOODIE BLOGROLL, that red boxed listing of blogs and giveaways on the far right side of my sidebars towards the bottom. You can reach their site by clicking HERE, or cut and pasting this address into your browser...
This month, The FoodieBlogroll is helping to advertise a new book by Hank Cardello author or "STUFFED: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat". You can reach his blog by clicking HERE, or but cut and pasting this address into your browser...
"Food policy is a very important and heated topic these days. You hear about it in the news, and the popularity of books like Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, as well as Barbara Kingslover's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Nina Planck's book Real Food really shows a trend of consumers being more and more concerned about the food we eat.
With this wave of books, comes Hank Cardello's book "Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat", where he discusses from an insider's perspective (he is a former food executive turned anti-obesity exponent) and offers solutions for how this trend can be changed. He provides novel but concrete steps food companies can take to fatten their profits while slimming down their customers. In addition, he stresses the realistic role that consumers must play in America’s new health equation, explaining that unless they demand healthier food with their wallets, America will continue to tip the scales for years to come."
I am using this opportunity to tell my story.