Friday, February 26, 2010

Let's Talk About Snacks, Bayyy-beee

What do you guys do for snacks during the day?  Am I the only one who always makes it a point to walk through this aisle at Costco and drool and wonder who has the self-control to have 50 pounds of candy in their homes?

Typically I try to stay away from sweet stuff for snacks because I always have a hard time limiting myself to just one or two servings.  I used to have ice cream and 100 calories packs and stuff in my house, but now if I'm craving ice cream I'll just drive to McDonald's because their cones are my favorite thing in the world.  Seriously, is there anything better than McDonald's ice cream?  I am sure it is made up of rat poison and glue or other unhealthy stuff but it's delicious.

At home, I've been trying to stick with fruit for snacks.  That's been going pretty well, but sometimes it just doesn't cut it.  Here are a couple of my other ideas.

  • Pretzels and salsa 
  • Pretzels and Laughing Cow Cheese (Midwestern, remember?  This stuff is great though).
  • Pickles (channeling my inner Snooki Snickahs)
  • Bowl of cereal
  • Carrots and hummus
So do you guys have other ideas?  I'm still waiting to try the frozen grapes and the blueberries and milk.  I did have blueberries in my cereal yesterday and they were a tasty treat.  Good recommendation!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wretched in a Winter Wonderland

For years and years and years, I was sure that I could somehow camouflage the fact that I was overweight.  I'm sure you've seen this happen in nature- people wearing t-shirts in the pool or constantly putting on baggy sweatshirts or only dressing in black in an attempt to look slimmer.   All of these tricks were in my repertoire, but my biggest illusion only took place in winter.

I refused to wear a winter coat.  Yes, you read that right.  I live in Chicago where the average winter temperature is -78 degrees, but I had convinced myself that winter coats were much too bulky.  If I wore one, I was certain my weight would be instantly obvious, like a big sign flashing over my head.  This is where the camouflage came in.  In my mind, the only winter wear that was slimming was a black pea coat.  This is the only picture I have of me in my winter wear of old:


This was taken as I ran my first marathon in 2006. Oh, and that is my beautiful goddaughter/best buddy Jamie, by the way.  I can't believe I haven't mentioned her on this thing yet because she is the greatest.  And yes, I know, the hair is awful.  I have no idea why I thought blond was a good idea.

Anyway, that was as winter-ready as I got, and trust me, one layer of wool doesn't protect you in February in the Windy City.  I refused to wear a hat, scarf, or gloves and I often walked the dog in six inches of snow in a pair of clogs I called my dog walkin' shoes.  My family and friends were often too horrified to be seen in public with me.  I'm very happy Clinton and Stacy never showed up at my door because HOT DAMN would they have had some footage!

Other days, I'd refuse to even wear the pea coat.  I'd instead just wear a hoodie.  Yes, a sweatshirt, outdoors, in subzero temperatures.  Again, somehow this look was very slimming on me, in my own little mind.


You can barely see me I'm so thin and whispy in that picture due to the fact that I am wearing a sweatshirt and not a jacket!  And once again, impressive hair.  I really missed out on that whole grunge look era because I could certainly have pulled it off.

So I've written before that I hate winter.  I get pretty bad seasonal depression and basically want to hibernate and never leave the house.  This year, I deduced that maybe the fact that I let myself freeze half to death every time I step outside might have something to do with all of this.  To the internet I went, Batman, and I ordered myself some real winter gear, bulkiness be damned.

Now I have a hat, scarves, gloves, long underwear, a waterproof insulated jacket and even snow pants.   I also have snazzy red boots. 


I will admit that wearing all of this has definitely improved winter a bit.  I walk the dog three times a day (although I am still wistfully googling "how to toilet train dog" several times a week but Coop is very stubborn) and it is definitely more pleasant to not turn into an icicle each time.

So have I magically turned into an orca whale now that I am seasonably appropriate?  Well, once I realized I was warmish when I was outside, I really stopped caring.  Most people are rushing around here quickly in order to get out of the misery so I doubt very many people are judging my attire.  I am beginning to see that the whole bulky outerwear phobia was yet another case of my brain playing delightful little tricks on me.  Progress?  Maybe the warmth of my hat is making my synapses fire more rapidly?  Who knows?

But there's one thing I know with absolute certainty:  Snow is only pretty 1.) in a snow globe, 2.) on Christmas Eve/Day or 3). on the news if you're watching from the beaches of Hawaii.  Other than that, winter is for the birds.  Well, at least for the penguins.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Just got back from Cermak Produce as recommended by Kim!  Very cool place.  You were right, Kim, it's got a better selection than Stanley's.  There was so much stuff that I had never even heard of, let alone seen in a grocery store.

(By the way I have no idea how to format pictures on this thing.  Imagine that these pictures are all next to each other.  Nice, huh?  Thanks for throwing me a bone there).

So it had a good selection, was dirt cheap and the produce seems a lot heartier than Stanley's.  That's a winner in my book!  I got all of this for about $14.

I bought grapes to try the frozen grape trick suggested by Kate and I also went to Costco and got some blueberries to try the whole pour-milk-on-blueberries thing.  I'll report on my scientific findings very soon.

Okay, in other news, do you guys eat Flat Out Wraps?  They're like tortillas but have healthy stuff in them and are only 100 calories.  They're delicious!  I can't control myself around bread sometimes but these are just enough to be a little breadish without sending me into a feeding frenzy.  You can make pizza with them and quesadillas too.  Today for lunch I made this sandwich:

(Dear Taryn, quit with the food photography.  You stink at it.  Sincerely, the world)

Turkey, peppers, zucchini and onions that I roasted in the oven the other night and a little mozzarella cheese.  Yes, I need cheese on sandwiches.  I am from the Midwest, after all.  I think there's a law about how much cheese must be consumed per person per year.  Anyway, it was very good.  I even dragged Cooper into the bathroom with me so he couldn't eat it when I left the room.  That's a two thumbs up review for sure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Greatest

My Nana had 9 children, 31 grandchildren and now has 19 great-grandchildren, and every single one of them thinks they were her favorite.  Is there a better legacy for a grandmother than that?

She was a woman who just exuded love from every pore of her body.  When she'd see one of her grandchildren, she'd literally shake with excitement as she pulled each one in for one of her trademark hugs.  She was only about five feet tall but those hugs were full-body affairs.  There was never a doubt in my mind that Nana loved me unconditionally.

Nobody bragged about her grandchildren quite like Nana.  All 31 of us can tell stories about how we got sick of hearing about how great the rest of us were.  On the day of my high school graduation, I had to take the SAT II test (is that even still around??) out in the suburbs.  The plan was to pick Nana up and take her directly to the ceremony after the test.  Well, I was running late and I ended up driving down the expressway in my 15 year old car, swerving in and out of traffic and doing at least 90 miles an hour.  I was late for my graduation, walking in after the faculty, and I also forgot my shoes so I was wearing fake Birkenstocks, much to my mom's eternal chagrin.  For weeks afterwards, Nana told everyone who would listen what a great driver I was and how well I handled stress.  She was great at tilting a story slightly to make the people she loved look even better.

Nana struggled with her weight throughout her life.  Apparently she joined some weight loss club where everyone in the room would point at the person who gained the most weight that week and sing, "You are so big, you are a pig."  Not sure that would fly in 2010, and it upset her when she was the pig of the week.  She lost a ton of weight when she got older but I will always remember her as comfortably plump.  She loved to eat and nobody pushed windmill cookies, ice cream and ginger snaps on a person quite as well as Nana.

I always thought she was amazing, but the last years of her life she really showed her strength.  Her husband struggled with Alzheimer's for ten years before dying in January of 2000.  We were all sad, but after watching hum suffer for ten years, we knew it was his time to go.  In December of 2000, her 45 year old son died suddenly after getting an infection in his heart after dental surgery.  He left behind a wife and five little kids, the oldest 8 and the youngest just a year.  My family was absolutely devastated.  I remember just wishing we could fast forward to get through it.  Nana, however, was a pillar of strength.  The picture above of her on the drums was taken on Christmas of 2000, just 5 days after she lost her son.  She was determined to be strong for the rest of us, telling my mom that she did her crying at night.  She really held our family together after that tragedy and I'll never forget the selflessness she showed during that time.

She died 8 years ago today.  I'm so happy to have had her in my life for 23 years.  I'm even luckier because I see her good qualities in my mom, my sisters and so many of my aunts, uncles and cousins.  She was a great matriarch, a great example of feminine strength and the quintessential grandmother, the best of all time.  I'll never forget her or her full-body hugs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Results: Week Two

A lovely picture of the Sears Tower, er, Willis Tower from my office window.  Yeah, I can't see it either.  GO AWAY SNOW!

Well, my weight is exactly same this week.  This is pretty typical during that one lovely week of the month where I cry at commercials and greeting cards.  I am not kidding, that commercial with Dan Jansen just slayed me this week.  His sister Jane dies and he wins a medal six years later and carries his daughter Jane?  Pass the tissues, please.

  • Still no Diet Coke!
  • Have gotten into the cooking at home habit
  • Tons of vegetables and fruit
  • Worked out four times last week
  • Those chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels lasted four days in my cabinet, which has to be worth some sort of Olympic medal.  I'm not saying gold, but maybe a bronze.

  • I think on Saturday I would have eaten my arm if I could have dipped it in chocolate.  I am going to blame it on my hormones.  In my defense, his daughter Jane!  I mean, please, who could handle that without chocolate?????
So, yeah, I think overall I'm doing pretty well.  The plan this week is more of the same, although hopefully with less weeping and googling of "Send Dan Jansen Sympathy Card."  I have big plans to visit the new produce place that Kim recommended and to try some of the fruit ideas you guys were kind enough to give me.  I'm also going to research places to move where it never snows, ever.  That island on "Lost" really doesn't look so bad, although the whole traveling through time thing could get a little annoying.

Same view, last July.  Someday the sun will be out again, so they tell me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What's for Dinner?: Cooking Light Chicken Puttanesca with Angel Hair Pasta


This is one of my go-to recipes because I usually have all the stuff in my house and it's super duper easy.  Even my sisters, who are two of the pickiest eaters I have ever met, love it.  

I cooked with fresh spinach leaves for the first time!  I just sauteed it in a little olive oil and then added garlic and salt.  It was good, but I think in the future I'll stick with frozen as I don't have to pull out the salad spinner for it.  One less thing to load in the dishwasher.  Yes, my happy homemaker status is precarious at best.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back in the Fruit Loop

I always forget that fruit is delicious.  Actually, I think someone should probably investigate advertisers from the mid to late 1980s, because I can still sing many of their jingles and I am not entirely unconvinced that they did not put subliminal anti-fruit messages in the middle of them.  Think about it:  "Honeycombs big, yeah yeah yeah... that's not small... no no no," practically screams "JUST SAY NO TO APPLES."  Just an idea, government watchdogs.

Anyway, after not eating any fruit for oh, a year or so, I decided to get back together with that particular food group.  

One of the rules of my undiet (if you know me even a little bit you know that even a free-wheeling "I'm eating everything I want" plan has to have some rules and guidelines) is that I am trying to eat either fruit or veggies with every meal and reach for fruit first as a snack.  So far so good!  It really does seem like eating fruit has taken away cravings for sweet junky stuff and it really is delicious.  Oranges, who would have thunk?  

I bought a bunch of fruit at Costco, which I know promotes factory farming and all kinds of despicable practices involving making fruit pretty instead of nutritious, but I live by myself and I need fruit that lasts more than two days.  I'm lucky enough to live near an incredible produce market, Stanley's Fruit and Vegetables.  The main draw of Stanley's is that you can fill up a whole cart with produce and get to the register and discover your total is like nine bucks.  That leaves you with leftover budget money to spend on stocking up on your Spice Girls collection on iTunes, so win win!

Do you guys have suggestions for new fruit ideas?  I don't like any kind of melon and bananas make me want to die inside because of the smell, but anything other ideas would be appreciated, as I'm sure my exotic choices of apples, oranges and grapes might get a little old eventually.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Athlete's Feet

Two years ago, a good friend of mine invited me over for dinner to meet the woman he was going to marry.  She was incredibly sweet, very kind and a little bit shy and it was obvious to me from the first minute that she and my friend were very happy together.  We had a great dinner and it felt like she and I were really hitting it off as friends... and then they suggested we play a game of Trivial Pursuit.

I have a competition problem.  It's not a good thing and it's something I can't really control.  That night, I told myself to calm down, that it was only a game, that there were no medals going out to the winner and that maybe I should even throw the game and let my friend's girlfriend win, just to be nice.  Ten minutes later I was gleefully mocking her when she answered a music question wrong.  When I finally did win (I won! I won!) I was ecstatic... until I looked around and saw that the two of them were uncomfortable.  Some people just can't handle a ten-minute happy dance.  I went home shortly afterwards.

The Winter Olympics are bringing out the crazy competitor in me.  Every time someone wins a gold medal, there's a little voice in my head that says, "I could do that."  My fantasies are not normal.  They start with "Hey, maybe I'll try snowboarding" and move to imagining how I would wear my hair on the medal stand in less than a minute.  Would I mouth the words to the national anthem or just stand there looking proud?  Tears or no tears?  Decisions decisions.  

This has been a problem in the past.  When I started working out, and by working out I mean doing a fifteen minute mile on the treadmill, I immediately started imagining running a marathon.  The route would be lined with everyone who ever doubted me, from the kids who picked me last in gym class in fifth grade all the wya up to the women in the gym locker room who seemed to clear an unnecessarily wide berth when I walked past them.  They'd all be cheering and maybe even chanting, "We were wrong!  You win!  You win!"  Then of course I would win the marathon and my husband Brett Favre and I would go on a Hawaiian vacation to recover and mull my sponsorship offers from Nike.  I don't go small when it comes to these things, my friends.

There are some problems with these athletic dreams.  As much as I'd like to ignore the elephant in the room, I was not made to be an athlete.  In fact, it seems that my body was actually designed to trip and fall all over itself.  I'm very VERY pigeon-toed due to the fact that the bones in my legs are twisted inwards.  The most comfortable way for me to stand is this:

Now, I don't stand like that OFTEN, mostly because people look at me like I can twist my body around like that creepy girl from "The Ring," and typically I avoid that.  Still, though, if I don't concentrate on it, my feet turn in quite a bit, which may explain why I've fallen on treadmills, tripped in dining halls and crossed my skis and fallen on my face while attempting downhill skiing.  This trait is not one that's found in the world's great athletes, I'm sorry to say.  There's a reason I bought an elliptical machine: it separates your legs and keeps them firmly away from each other, something that I find has eliminated a lot of little, um, hiccups.

So I probably won't ever be a marathon runner or an Olympic athlete, unless they add events like "Full House' Trivia" or maybe "Identify the Voice of the Big Time Actor Doing Voiceover Work for Commercials."  It's probably a good thing because I could see myself cheering loudly against my competitors and maybe pointing and laughing if they failed.  I think that's probably, in general, frowned upon by the International Olympic Committee.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stink Happens

Cooper, perhaps on a brussels sprouts bender. You decide.
  • Thanks to Kim for the comment in my last post!  I got some Poland Spring sparkling water at Trader Joe's this morning and it was MUCH better than seltzer water.  I mixed it with a little cranberry juice and it was very good.  Not sure I'd drink it every day, but it will help on days that I just need fizz.  Thanks, Kim!
  • Made brussel sprouts in the oven today.  I love them at restaurants usually but man, the smell is just RANK.  I feel like people in my building are going to come knocking to make sure something didn't die in here.  Anyway, I didn't like them but Cooper sure did.  He ate three and then stood staring at the oven as if he could will more to come out and jump into his belly.  *Note* Yes, no doubt I'll regret giving my dog something vaguely cabbagey at about 2 AM when he's tooting up a storm in my bedroom.
  • Whoa, just realized it's brussels sprouts, not brussel sprouts.  Is there anything that Google can't teach you!??!
  • As part as my new undiet, I bought both oatmeal cookies and chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels at Trader Joe's today.  They're still in my cabinet, not gobbled down with the wrappers buried deep in my garbage can.  Progress?  
  • By the way, chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels are my ultimate period food.  (I'll wait for a second while any male reader clicks off... .... thanks).  Sweet and salty together in harmony, sign me up for that once a month, thank you very much.

H2 Oh No

So I quit drinking Diet Coke.  Colors aren't as bright, children's voices are grating instead of uplifting and even "Millionaire Matchmaker" doesn't have the same weird indescribable draw for me now.  The world is a less caffeinated and less fizzy place.  Heavy sigh.

I did some googling for "what to drink instead of soda" (I am reluctantly saying soda, even though in Chicago we properly pronounce it "pop," because I have traveled around the US and seen people's puzzled expressions when I say "PAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHP" in my lovely Chicago accent).  The experts all agreed that a good alternative was to take a shot of 100% fruit juice and add it to seltzer water or tonic water.  Off I went to the grocery store in order to stage the Great Pop-Soda Alternative Taste Test of 2010.

Here we go.  100% cherry juice, 100% cranberry juice, seltzer water and diet tonic water.  I refrigerated them all overnight just to give them a fighting chance against the sparkling loveliness that is an ice-cold Diet Coke.  I thought personally that this was very sporting of me.

Problem #1:  Cherry juice doesn't come out Technicolor pink.  Mixed with the tonic water, I'd have to say the concoction looked a little bit like the pee of a very dangerously dehydrated individual.

Yummmm.  I couldn't wait to dive right into that!  When I did, I almost had to spit it out in the sink.  It tasted like salty water with some kind of bitter, battery undertone.  I thought maybe the cherry juice went bad or something until I took a sip of seltzer water and discovered boy howdy that stuff is repulsively awful!  How do people drink that??  It is worse than Diet Pepsi, which is saying a lot.

Then I mixed the cherry juice with the diet tonic water.  Much better but still a little off.  I looked at the label of the 100% cherry juice and discovered the first ingredient was apple juice.  That's what it tasted like.  My dreams of homemade delicious Cherry 7 Up were shattered.

The cranberry juice at least LOOKED a lot more artificial and kiddy cocktailish than the cherry juice.  I tried it with the seltzer water in the name of science and again almost died of ick, but with the diet tonic water it was actually pretty okay.  Did you know that tonic water is one of the only ways you can get quinine in your diet?  When I had tummy tuck surgery almost two years ago (don't worry, I'll write about that soon with some TLC 500 Pound Virgin-worthy pictures) the surgeon prescribed tonic water to help regrow nerves in that area.  No, I didn't find him by consulting Dr. Google and he had a very respectable office in the Playboy Building in Chicago.  Hmmm, that's food for thought, actually... moving on.

Next, I mixed cherry juice with iced tea.  Again, cherry juice was a real disappointment.  I was imagining more maraschino and less apple juice.  Don't even bother ever buying it because it was also like five bucks.  It might work with vodka but only the 3rd drink and on.  The tea-cranberry combo was also like kind of meh too.  The experiment, I'm afraid, was a miserable fizzy failure.

I am still searching for something as wonderful as Diet Coke.  The last few days, I've been drinking boring old water, water with lemon, iced tea and Crystal Light, but I miss the little fizz that whispers lovingly when you open a pop... sorry, soda can.  If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  I'm currently looking at my glass of water with disdain bordering on hatred, feelings I usually reserve only for the Beach Boys.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's for Dinner?: Cooking Light Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce

Great, easy recipe!  I, of course, didn't use the parsley so my chicken kind of looks like someone served it at a funeral luncheon.  Hmmmmm, with my white plates and my love of boiled carrots, maybe I am trying to recreate the school cafeteria experience?

I also cut up a tomato and a quarter of an avocado and just put salt on it.  This is part of my "I'm a grown-up and I don't like lettuce so I WILL.NOT.EAT.IT" stage.  Yes, I'm 31 years old, why do you ask?

Never, Ever Letting the Monkey Off My Back

This is my favorite nightshirt.  Yes, it is kind of ridiculous and certainly isn't at all appealing to the opposite sex, but every time I see it, it makes me smile.  Why?  Because I've been wearing this monkey shirt since 1988 when I was 10 years old and in fifth grade.  

I still have fond memories of a Gap green and white striped jacket that I loved that my mom heartlessly disposed of just because it grew to look like it came out of Little Orphan Annie's rag bin.  When I look at pictures of a particularly lovely polka dot skirt I wore in high school, I feel like I'm looking at an old friend.  Don't even get me started on how attached I am to my own peculiar brand of socks (white anklets, very thin and soft like the ones you wore when you were four years old).  I can admit it:  I am weird about clothes.

Thankfully, I am also a great hater of clutter so I don't have gigantic black garbage bags of clothes of all sizes in my storage room.  I probably have less clothes than anyone I know, but still I hang on to old monkey nighty.  It may be threadbare and worn and still have stains from when I did paint-by-number in it in sixth grade, and the formerly very trendy puffy paint outline is now broken and cracked, but it's an old friend and I refuse to let it go.  Like I said, I'm weird.

When I was over 300 pounds, I used to dream of shopping at the Gap.  The last time I had fit in their clothes was in eighth grade, and even that was stretching it.  I hated Lane Bryant and The Avenue and hated their tell-tale bags and limited selection of clothes.  I'd pass store windows at the mall and think, "I can't wait to be able to walk in there and try that on."

This is from August of 2007 and it was my first Gap outfit.  Annie and I ran through a storm to get to the store because for some reason I had decided I just HAD to shop at a "regular" clothing store that night.  I practically cried in the dressing room when those pants fit me.  It felt like such an accomplishment that day, like a graduation or something.

Fast forward six months or so and I realized how much I missed Lane Bryant and The Avenue.  I felt so much more comfortable there, having worked my way up to a size 28 and then back down to a 14.  When I walked into the Gap, I felt like the fattest elephant in the room.  My old standby stores felt like home.

As the weight came off, I started complaining openly about how annoying it was to need new clothes.  People were shocked, telling me that it should feel great to get new cute things that actually fit.  I just missed my purple shirt, my grey sweatshirt, my old jeans.  Watching bag after bag of too-large clothing pile up just made me so sad.  It was absolutely ridiculous, but the feelings were real.

I've been in pretty much the same size now for the last year, a 14 or 16 at regular stores.  Last week, I ran into Lane Bryant to buy a bra (yes, the ladies are still plus-size, for better or for worse.  It saves me in traffic tickets, I suppose).  I found myself looking wistfully at all the cute clothes at Lane Bryant and even slipped into the dressing room to try a 14/16 W dress on.  It didn't fit, and part of me was disappointed.

There is a part of me that doesn't want to get any smaller because I don't want to get rid of clothes I am comfortable in.  I'm sure some of this is caused by Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which I'm going to write about another time, but part of it is that I know myself in certain outfits and not having them makes me feel weird and a little bit lost.  This has definitely been one of the weirdest things about losing 100 pounds.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who struggles with it.  

One thing I know for sure.  I will have my monkey nighty even if I am a size 6.  It fit me when I was ten years old and then all the way up the scales, and it will fit me all the way back down.  

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Got a New Attitude

I just discovered that taking progress pictures is not as easy as you'd think.  My condo just doesn't cooperate with long, full-body shots.  Maybe I should take that as a hint.  Oh also, note to self, maybe wait till you have on something a little more flattering than a sports bra and perhaps do something with hair and/or make up?  Just a thought.

Anyway, I didn't announce it but I just finished week 1 of my new "Here We Go Again" diet.  (Patent pending.  I'm looking at you, Nutrisystem).

(Dear Readers, please ignore 1980s tract lighting that looks like it belongs on the set of "Lost in Space."  Also ignore cable TV being spliced in through a very unobtrusive wire over my front door.  Thanks in advance, Me).

Anyway, here comes the navel-gazing.  I've done a lot of thinking this week about my weight loss journey.  It occurred to me that I have been on a diet since I was ten years old.  That's 21 years.  My dieting self could go out and get hammered on a Saturday night without needing a fake ID.  And you know what?  That's sad.

I think part of my problem with binge eating is that I consider certain foods taboo, even if I tell myself (and write about it to you guys) that I don't.  I'll eat healthy for a week and then crave chocolate, end up buying a box of cookies and eating them in one night.  It's almost like I have an attitude of "You're being bad!  Eat it quick!  Get rid of the evidence!"

I've talked before about how I'm a crazy pefectionist, so one day of doing this leads to me feeling miserable, eating more, saying "Eff it, I'm an adult and I can eat cookies WHENEVER I WANT, SO THERE!" and the cycle continues.

When I was losing weight fast two years ago, I graphed out my progress, averaged pounds lost per week, projected when I'd reach my goal weight and felt like crap if I deviated from that.  (Yes, I am a closet dork).  (I can literally hear my sisters snorting reading that... closet?  Okay, Tare Bear, denial ain't just a river in Egypt).  

Even now, I will lose 2 pounds in a week and think, "Well, next week I'll work out twice a day and only eat 1000 calories and by July I'll be at my goal weight, yay!!!"  Did I mention I'm also crazily, insanely competitive and I view "The Biggest Loser" contestants as rivals in some weird parallel universe?  Again, when I fail at this, which I inevitably do, I get hard on myself and start shoving fresh-baked bread down my throat without even really tasting it.  Coping skills, I do not have them.

SOOOOOO, the point is, I'm done with all that mapping and weighing servings and worrying about calories.  This week, I made a point to work out every day, but I also ate what I want.  Chipotle was involved, people.  Alcohol also reared its ugly yet socially lubricating head.  I did make a point to eat more fruit just because I ate a lot of it in Maine and remembered, "Gee, fruit is delicious!"  But other than that, I didn't eat a single diet food or fret about the calories involved in my pretzels and salsa or beat myself up about eating a serving and a half of Kashi Heart to Heart instead of just one serving.

Oh, also, and this is a big also, I gave up Diet Coke.  Done, gone, over.  And this is embarrassing to admit but that was basically all I drank.  I love it and it will always be my drug of choice, but I have severe acid reflux and really I just feel a whole lot better when I don't drink it.  So I am officially on the Diet Coke addict wagon.  

So the results?  I lost 2.8 lbs this week.  And yes, that felt great, but not obsessing over food felt even better.

The new plan is to continue what I mentioned above.  I'm only going to weigh myself once a week.  That's pretty huge because when I was dieting constantly I kept my scale outside my bathroom door and weighed myself every time I used the washroom.  Obsessions are not healthy, even if they are getting the fat off your ass.  You can quote me on that one.

I don't know if this will work, but I'm giving it a go.  And I'm no longer going to feel bad about gaining weight back.  I'm also no longer going to rest on the laurels of losing 100 pounds.  This is a fresh start and a new attitude so it deserves a whole new set of numbers.

Down 2.8 lbs.  And I'm not even going to graph that out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's for Dinner? Cooking Light Pork Chops with Country Gravy

Don't you hate it when you come home from vacation and your little sister, who was kind enough to dogsit, has put dishes away like this?

Order restored!  Do I sound like the guy in "Sleeping With the Enemy" or what?
This recipe was great.  Normally I don't eat pork chops very often, but this got incredible reviews on so I gave it a whirl.  Here comes the vaguely nauseating unappetizing food pictures!

 Sadly, again, I tried to make this look good.  Before I started writing this blog, I never realized a.) how hard it is to plate food like the people on "Top Chef" and b.) my dishes are pretty darn boring.

I prepared this exactly as it dictated in the recipe and it wasn't hard.  This is coming from someone who has never made gravy before too.  I also used marjoram and sage that was over a year past their "best use" date.  This means if you make it and don't use seven year old herbs, it might be even better!

Oh, and the side dish was just cut up bell peppers sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic then salt and pepper and a tiny sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  

Anyway, definitely five stars.  Took about 25 minutes from start to finish.  Sorry Wilbur, you were delicious.

Public Service Announcements

  • If you, like me, only enjoy flying because the peach rings at airports across the country are better than any peach ring you could buy in a store, you're going to be disappointed to hear that apparently they changed the brand and the peach rings are now extremely mediocre and not the perfect blend of sour and sweet.
  • Before going to Costco and buying over a hundred dollars worth of food, please check to make sure your area didn't have a foot of snow in the preceding days, as dragging a cart through it is difficult and taking all the stuff upstairs to your apartment while trudging through the unplowed lot is really not an exercise in fun.

PS:  I know all you east coast people are rolling your eyes at our puny snow.  Please remember I was stuck in an airport for seven hours yesterday, with mediocre peach rings, due in part to your bizarre weather, so I do feel your pain.
  • When giving up Diet Coke, be prepared to have dreams about Diet Coke and to read names like Dan Carter as Diet Coke.  There might even be a time when you glance over at your lazy dog, sleeping on the end of your couch, and decide that the shape of his body is vaguely similar to the shape of a Diet Coke bottle.  All of these are normal symptoms of withdrawal (I hope).
  • When you want to excitedly show people how you made a 300 calorie pizza with Flat Out Bread, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and chicken sausage, food photography like this is just not going to cut it.

You're welcome in advance.  Have the loveliest of weekends!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Let me tell you a little about what it was like to travel at 315 lbs.  (It would also help to note I am a teeny bit crazy, so all of this might not apply to everyone).

Before I'd even arrive at the airport, I was super paranoid about making sure that I had a seat assignment.  I'd pay extra to map it out ahead of time and get a window seat.  Most of the time, I traveled with my sister Annie and since she's a skinny minnie who I knew wouldn't complain about me taking up part of her seat, I'd stick her in the middle.  A few times she booked us on Southwest, which has no assigned seats, and it would make me so anxious it was ridiculous.  The idea of a stranger being pissed at me for taking up too much room was bad, but the chance of having TWO strangers silently seething and passive-aggressively elbowing me in the gut was just too much to bear.

At the airport, I'd make sure not to eat anything in public.  I figured that people were already disgusted with me for trying to fly at the weight I was at, plus my stomach would always be in knots, worried that I wouldn't be able to buckle my seat belt.  I'd wait in line to board the plane and would worry that the gate attendant would take me aside and make me buy another seat.  Then, on the plane, I'd imagine that every person I passed breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't have to sit next to The Blob.  I'd sit down, suck in my stomach and somehow violate the laws of physics and force the seat belt closed.  My sides would ooze over the divider into the seat next to me and I was cramped, nervous and exhausted for the entire trip.

All in all, none of this was a very good start to a vacation, and I feel like turned down a lot of opportunities because I didn't want to put myself through this.  I really regret this quite a bit.

I just got back from visiting a friend in Maine for a few days.  If you're looking for a place to go to escape the harsh Chicago winter, let me recommend flying for two hours and getting out in a place that's even colder.  Logic always wins out with me.  Always.  I need to make some friends in warmer climates, perhaps Hawaii.

It hit me on this trip that I still have the same travel anxiety.  I still fret that people will hate sitting next to me and I still feel like a lumbering ox.  When I buckle my seat belt now, I have four or five inches of slack to take out of the belt, but I still worry EVERY SINGLE TIME that it won't buckle and somehow TSA will ask me to leave the plane as a safety hazard.  I can put the tray table down without it resting on my gut, something that was also impossible before, but I still think that I'll unlatch it, start to bring it down, realize it won't fit and feel humiliated when I have to put it back up, hoping no one noticed.  My brain, it does not see reality most of the time.

On the flight to Maine, I sat next to a law enforcement officer who was going to Portland to bring a prisoner back to his state.  Right away, after I sat down, he commented that the flight didn't look full and maybe he could move.  My stomach churned as I imagined he was judging me.  Well, I read this situation wrong because in the next two hours, this INCREDIBLY charming fellow told me his life story, repeatedly assured me I was beautiful inside and out, told me he had handcuffs if I had been a bad "girl" who needed correction and then two or three times hinted around that he'd like to have sex with me in the plane bathroom (romantic!)  It was without a doubt the most uncomfortable plane ride I ever took, even the ones when I was at my heaviest.

Being fat certainly isn't the only way you can feel trapped in a teeny airline seat!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My First Babysitting Job

When I was nine years old, I knew I was ready to be a babysitter. For years, my parents had paid my cousins, who lived on our block, to babysit my sisters and me. Most of my time was spent making sure the babysitters didn’t jump from the house roof to the garage roof. Oh, one also put our parakeet in the microwave but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, the point is that they were idiots and I was more mature than any of them. I knew I could do a better job than they could watching my sisters, and I was determined to be given that chance.

After nagging my mom and dad all summer long, my mom finally agreed. I was absolutely shocked. We were staying at my aunt’s cottage in Michigan for the weekend, and due to the added danger of a lake right outside the back door, I figured she’d never say yes. I held my baby sister Kerry, who was two, in my arms and waved goodbye as they pulled away in the family station wagon. Finally, I was in charge.

Right away, Annie, who was six, asked if she could go swimming. Even though my mom had told me twenty times to not let Annie or Kerry anywhere near the lake, I let her go. I was the captain of this ship, and I figured I could swim well enough to rescue her if she started to drown. I sat in a chair in the backyard, feeling very grown-up as I screamed at Annie that she was going out to far. After a few minutes of Annie basically ignoring me, I yelled at her to get out of the water and we went back into the house to watch TV.

I made Annie and Kerry a snack and we lay down on the floor with blankets and pillows. Everything was going super smoothly, and I congratulated myself on my excellent babysitting skills. Suddenly, a box of diapers came hurtling down the steps from the second floor.

We all froze. Annie and Kerry looked at me. My heart was beating fast. “It’s okay,” I reassured them. “That box was right near the stairs and I’m sure the wind just blew it down.” I was so comforting that I even convinced myself. There was no murderer hiding out on the second floor. It was just the wind. We went back to watching the show.

Two minutes later, a wicker basket came bouncing down the stairs. This was a problem because I knew that it was kept ten feet from the stairwell and held a bunch of magazines. Someone was definitely on the second floor. Without saying a word, I grabbed Annie’s hand, picked up Kerry, and ran out the front door.

The next door neighbors were standing out in front of their house. I tried to be as calm as I could. “I’m babysitting and there’s someone in the house!” I screamed.

Just then, we heard the screen door slam behind us. My mom and dad came out of the house, laughing. Their laughter stopped when they saw we were with the neighbors. It turned out that it had been the two of them the entire time. They hid on the second floor and tried to scare me into never wanting to babysit again. They were shocked that my instincts were so good that I fled the house with my sisters so quickly, and they were really embarrassed that the neighbors now knew what crappy parents they truly were.

This was a really dirty trick, and you might be wondering if I got my revenge. Of course I did. A year later, I became completely terrified of Richard Speck. This was in part due to the fact that my dad, a Chicago police officer, let me read the case report about him and in part because I was COMPLETELY TRAUMATIZED by my mom and dad’s trick. I was convinced Richard Speck would escape from jail and come through my bedroom window. My solution?  I decided not to ever fall asleep. When I got too tired, I would move my furniture around to keep me awake- right above my mom and dad’s bedroom.

The three of us were in for some sleepless nights.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shame Shame Shame

Gaining 40 pounds back after losing 100 is more embarrassing than the fact that I've seen Meryl Streep's "Mamma Mia" at least ten times.  (And I own it.  On Blu Ray).

Anyway, I can't shake the feeling that I've let people down.  I can't even tell you how many people were rooting for me two years ago when it looked like I had conquered this weight problem thing.  Friends and family members, even strangers who I barely know who live in my building came out of the woodwork to tell me I looked great.  My gym even did a story about me in their newsletter, which goes out to hundreds and hundreds of people in Chicago.  I had more support than I ever thought possible.  And I feel like I crapped all over their good wishes.

The thing about losing weight is that any other problem can be hidden from the world around you, for better or for worse.  When you're fat and unhappy about it, you wear your problem on the outside and it's impossible to hide.

I've been skipping parties and social occasions because I don't want to see the looks on peoples' faces when they see I'm not a size 12 anymore.  I'm back in 16, which is better than 28, which was what I was when I started, but at times I feel like Fiona from "Shrek," lumbering and gigantic.

I know my family and friends love me regardless of what I look like, but still, I'm ashamed that I've backtracked as much as I have.  That's probably one of the reasons why it's so much harder to retrace steps on this weight loss path than it was to forge ahead on it blindly.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Diet Schmiet

I started this crazy weight-loss thing on January 24, 2007.  Yes, I remember the date and can also tell you the day of my First Communion, high school graduation and then the last episode of "Full House" aired.  It's a gift.  Anyway, before that day, I had dieted before, once or twice.

  • Low-Fat:  This was in high school.  I think I read that book by Susan Powter.  Right afterwards, I eliminated all fat.  I remember going to school with a packed lunch of Tart and Tinys, Swedish Fish and Lemonheads.  Needless to say, I didn't lose much weight, didn't stick with it and never shaved my head into a bleached-blonde buzz.
  • "Make the Connection:"  My freshman year of college I went gung-ho on Oprah.  I read all of the Oprah book club books and bought both her diet book and her exercise video.  The book made a lot of sense to me, although I don't really remember much about it now.  I wore out a pair of shoes power-walking around my campus, lost 20 pounds and came home from the summer and gained it all back and more.  Just like Oprah!
  • Jenny Craig:  When I transferred schools, I was pretty miserable.  All my local friends were still away at school and I was working in a job that I absolutely hated.  One of my coworkers had recently had some success with Jenny Craig, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  The food was expensive but I was living at home so I managed to afford it.  I lost fifty pounds and I felt great... until my Nana died and I emotionally ate my way into a larger dress size.  I think Jenny Craig is one of those things you can only do once, because when I tried to go back after a break, I couldn't handle only eating their food.  The experiment was a failure.
  • Atkins:  Who didn't try this back in the day?  It was a big switcheroo for me because I'm not a meat-meat-meat kind of lady (please refrain from sexual innuendos, my mother reads this).  I lost some weight but the bad breath and strange icky smell emanating from my body quickly ended this diet.  Bacon as a diet food was really interesting for a while though!
  • Have Whatever You Want:  After Atkins, I think I read the description of a diet book advocating eating whatever you wanted whenever you wanted it.  Sold!  I quickly ran out and bought ice cream sandwiches, cookies, carmel corn and brownies.  Two days later, when the cupboard was again bare, I headed back to the grocery store and replaced it.  I think I gained 20 pounds in a month but I still daydream about opening my cabinet and seeing six kinds of cookies.
  • "Eat This, Not That" and "Picture-Perfect Weight Loss":  Again discovered that if I am choosing between seven apples and a brownie, the brownie will win every single time. 
 Anyway, in January of 2007, I looked at my bookcase and saw that I owned at least a dozen diet books and yet still I was over 300 pounds.  That made me incredibly sad and angry, so I donated every last one to the Salvation Army and started making teeny changes in my life and taking things one day at a time. 

Strict diet plans are never going to work for me.  If you tell me I can't eat elephant ears, the only thing I'll want to eat for the rest of my life will be elephant ears.  Worrying about how many servings of each food group I eat a day or how many fat grams I consume is something I'll never do again.  Every time I start to go down that road, I end up feeling like a failure and I eat and eat and eat.  I'll never turn down a chance to go out for Mexican food and have a margarita (or two, or three) with dinner and if that means I'll never be below a size 10, that's just the way it's going to be.

The point of this whole study in yo-yo diets is that everyone needs to find a plan that works for them.  I know people who have lost a ton with all of the above methods and I would never fault anyone for trying them.  I firmly believe there's no "one size fits all" diet out there and the only thing I can tell you is what worked for me successfully.

I knew that being 315 lbs was limiting my life and that pissed me off.  The only diet that's worked for me is getting off my butt, working out and watching calories.  Yeah, it's taken three years and counting, and that annoys the crap out of me sometimes, but in the long run, I'd rather be happy and eat what I want than miserable and wearing skinny jeans.  And really, life without an occasional cupcake is not a life I want to live.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wii Fits

My sister Annie came over to try out Wii Fit.  It's a fitness game for the Wii that involves a balance board that measures your balance, along with your weight.  When you register your Mii, the little cartoon who represents you in the game, it does a series of fitness tests on you and then it tells you your Wii fitness age. 

First of all, I can't tell you how great it feels to have this little lady come out to represent me, based on my measurements:

It's difficult to see the perspective from this picture, but trust me when I say my Mii looks like a little fireplug.  Short, squat, fat little squinty eyes and not at all attractive or athletic-looking.  When Mii Taryn comes running out with the Mii's of the rest of my family and friends, you just know she's going to be picked last for the kickball team and will probably cry when she makes the last out in Little League.  Mii Taryn isn't exactly a world-shaker.

Anyway, Annie was extremely excited to try out the Wii Fit and find out her fitness age.  I had already gone through the balance test, endured the humiliation of being told by an animated balance board that I had poor posture and unsteady balance, but at the end found that my fitness age was 30.  All in all, I was happy with that, as I am 31 and have no plans to be in the Olympics anytime soon (a tough decision based on the disgusting rejection of Chicago for the host city in 2016.  Sorry, America, you can kiss your gold medal in the decathlon goodbye, I'm OUT!)  Annie is in much better shape than me and she's thin and works out pretty regularly.  Here's her Mii, the one in red towards the center of the line-up:

Mii Taryn is sleeping over there in the corner, either from narcolepsy or the strain of carrying around that massive squat body of hers.  Anyway, Annie cheerfully hopped on the balance board, went through the steps and anxiously awaited the unveiling of her fitness age.  And it was... 32.

"WHAT?!?!"  The devestation was apparent in her voice.  "32??!?!  I'm 29 years old!!  How is my Wii fit age older than you?"

I made a couple of jokes and teased her about her for a few minutes and then realized (as it always takes me a couple of seconds to do) that she was actually upset about this information.

"Annie, the video game says you're 32.  You're upset that Dr. Super Mario thinks you're out of shape?"  She wouldn't be consoled and I don't think she's gotten anywhere near Wii Fit since, although she's a gigantic fan of the new Super Mario Brothers game.

By the way, I wish I could offer a detailed review of Wii Fit, but I really only ever use it to play the balance board games.  That condescending animated balance board just gets to me though.  One night, while I was recovering from dental surgery and had a face that was swelled up like a watermelon, I signed on only to get "You're up late, TarynItUp.  Did you brush your teeth this evening?"  Enemies come in all shapes and sizes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat

So recently I was interviewed for an MSNBC article about the fact that I am a graceful little treadmill ballerina, crashing and flopping around like that skier at the beginning of "Wide World of Sports."  Yesterday, I discovered that people had actually commented on it and this particular one stood out:

So the newbie fell off the treadmill--dumb, but not earth-shatteringly so. You slip, you fall, you dust yourself off and walk away with a newly learned lesson, right? Not this genius. 

She proceeds to announce she fell off TWICE more and then damaged an expensive piece of equipment by lodging an iPod in it. The employees at this gym have far more patience than I do. After the second fall, I would be saying, "Pay attention or get out." And you bet I'd enforce it after taking the time (and likely, the expense) to pull her iPod out of my machine. This woman is a HUGE liability. Let her buy her own treadmill to destroy.

I laughed so hard thinking of this person reading that article and becoming outraged and motivated enough to write those paragraphs.  Today, though, I have some exciting news for Gon2TheDogs:

Yes, my long-awaited elliptical machine has been delivered and assembled! Today I begin the process of destroying it!  Please watch for news stories out of Chicago about a woman who was running on the elliptical and somehow slipped and went crashing through a window and fell on an iron fence, because that will be me.  Hey, at least there's no belt to drop my iPod down, but if anyone can find a way to do it, I can!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

22 Random Things About Me

1.  I am going to marry Brett Favre and have been engaged to him for 11 years, but he doesn’t know it yet.   

2.  I fantasize often that my life is a musical and plan out the song and dance numbers based on various events.  I also cast actors and actresses to play my family and friends but of course I play myself.

3.  When I was seven, I threw my dad’s severed toe at my cousins and neighbors to get back at them for teasing me.  

4.   I got French kissed by a homeless man in a Borders store in front of Dan from the Real World Miami.  That same night I saw Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman.

5.   Last weekend, I found a drunk girl in my alley at 3AM and drove her around my neighborhood until she recognized her house.  She cried the entire time and then told me I was pretty.  I am counting it as a date.

6.   My dog has been hit by a car, hit the windshield when I totaled my car and almost drowned under the winter cover in my parents’ pool twice.  I am hoping I am getting this poor supervision thing out of my system in case I have children.

7.   I used to work summers as a janitor at a courthouse.  Sweeping up the parking lots is what made me really hate litter and cigarettes.  

8.   When I was in seventh grade I participated in a riot and destroyed a classroom.

9.   Once I found a baton in the branches of the tree in front of my house.  I think that was a sign from above for me to join a marching band, but I never did.  Sigh.

10.  I have called 911 approximately 20 times.  Growing up near the Evergreen Plaza, people would often run from the police through our backyard and become trapped.  South Side representing.
11.  I saw the Spice Girls in concert in 1997.

12.  I can’t even think about the movies “Amityville Horror 3D,” “The Watcher in the Woods” and “The Exorcist” without feeling panicky.  Also the night vision goggle scene in “Silence of the Lambs.”

13.  Thanks to my weird high school English teacher, I can recite the prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Old English.  Boy howdy that has come in handy in my life.
14.  I can pretty much sing every McDonald’s commercial from the 80’s.  It’s kind of a sickness.

15.  Dick Biondi thinks I am charming and remembered me from 10 years ago.

16.  My first crush was George Michael, which really pretty much set the course for the rest of my life. 

17.  My best friend and I sold worms door-to-door as children and also had a lemonade stand in which we gave out receipts.  I am surprised we are not entrepreneurs.  

18.   I convinced my sister Kerry that she was born with a third arm growing out of the middle of her belly button.  When she ticked me off, I would hold my arm to my stomach and wiggle my fingers and she’d cry. 

19.  I got caught forging a homework notice in fourth grade.  I even added comments under the signature “I’ve discussed this with Taryn and it won’t happen again.” 

20.  When my Pops died, the funeral home put the wrong eyeglasses on him and my Nana made me pull them off of him before anyone else saw them.  I still have nightmares about it, but the fam had fun trying them on during the wake.

21.  I remember getting in trouble in preschool and the teacher saying, “And Taryn… a GIRL!” and I was outraged.  Such a cute little feminist I was. 

22.  Once I took the kids I babysat for to a haunted cemetery and one of them, who will remain nameless, literally pooped in his or her pants, and another one stole toys from a haunted grave.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Poor Oprah

Oprah Winfrey is, of course, a bazillionaire.  That must be nice, but I can't imagine what it would be like to fight such a public battle with your weight.  It seems like every time I go to the grocery store, there are headlines about her hitting 200 pounds, giving up, having gastric bypass secretly or discovering some secret weight-loss trick involving berries and granola bars.  It has to be just exhausting for her.

I'd like to go on the record that I think Oprah looks great at any size I've seen her.  She's confident and smart and I think extra weights looks good on her.  It's obvious, though, thats she's unhappy with it, as she's always embracing a new weight-loss method every time it comes down the chute.  Sugar addicts, Dr. Oz, acai berries, reading "The Secret" and feeling sick about the stupidity- Oprah has tried them all.

It has to be so awful for her, when she's on the upswing of the weight yo-yo, to look in the mirror and think, "Oh crap, it's happening again."  I'm not on TV and I'm ashamed that I put some weight back on.  I can't imagine what it would be like to have people whispering about it wherever I went and to see "fat day" pictures of me plastered across magazine covers.  This is a strong, capable, intelligent woman who raised herself up from dire poverty despite all odds.  It must be so frustrating to have the one thing you can't control be on the outside for the world to see and judge.

And yet, she's still trying.  That's a motivator for me.  Here's Oprah, who is rich enough to say, "Screw it, I'm a size 26 and that's just me."  Instead she keeps trying and keeps looking for a way to eat and exercise that will work for her.  No matter how many blogs or magazines write stories about how big her ass is getting, she gets up the next day, looks in the mirror, puts a smile on her face and soldiers on.

There's also something comforting in knowing that Oprah has the money and the resources to try everything- personal chefs, trainers, surgery, whatever- and she still struggles.  It makes me feel like it's okay to not have a linear path to my ideal weight.  Isn't life about the peaks and valleys after all?  I never knew that saying was about BMI, but it sure fits, doesn't it?

Oh, and by the way, it's time for me to clear up some misconceptions about Chicago that I've run into when I've left the state.  Oprah is not my neighbor.  I've never run into her at the grocery store, and I haven't run into Michael Jordan either.  Also, I don't live in the Sears Tower and actually am not too fond of sausage, Polish or otherwise.  Hope this didn't disappoint anyone too much.

Monday, February 1, 2010



I saw this postcard at PostSecret this weekend and laughed out loud.  

Back when I was in college, I was walking past the library and noticed a cameraman filming me as I walked.  Icy terror washed over me.  My mind raced as I imagined the lead-in for the story:  "Recruitment is way down at colleges everywhere as obesity rates sore."  Worst of all, I was wearing pajama bottoms, an inside-out sweatshirt (what was with that crazy little trend?) (or maybe I am inventing that it was a trend to make myself feel better for being a slob, either one) and I hadn't brushed my hair in two or three days.  Producers of "Gossip Girl," if you're reading, I'm available as a style consultant.

"Wow, Barb, come over here and watch this," an at-home viewer would cluck sympathetically.  "This poor fat girl is out of breath just walking at a snail's pace with her backpack on.  Pass the organic soybean dip, please."

I remember thinking that they'd cut my head off for the shot and that no one would really know it was me, and that my college campus was two hours from my house and no one who knew me well would ever see it anyway.  Visions of the footage being picked up and stored away and used for years for any story about the dangers of fat people raced through my head.  Would a company buy still pictures of it and use it for Before ads in the National Enquirer?  What if Richard Simmons somehow sees it and finds out who I am and drags me on to the Maury Povich show and makes me do overly enthusiastic aerobics in tiny shorts and a spandex top that perfectly showcases every ripple of my fat?  I could feel myself start to sweat.

Years earlier, when I was seven and my sister Annie was four, my uncle took us ice skating.  My mom was usually the type of mother who never let her daughters leave the house without looking like we were posing to be the next series of "American Girl" dolls, but it was a freezing cold day and she bundled us up in the warmest winter gear she could find.  To say we clashed would be an understatement.  That night, at the end of the five o'clock news, there was Annie, oblivious to the camera, skating clumsily and looking like an orphan who had raided a lost and found.  My mother had been horrified.  I couldn't even imagine what she'd think if her oldest daughter became The Face (or Rather Ass) of Obesity in America Today.

Finally, I couldn't take acting nonchalant for another second. "Excuse me," I asked the cameraman, "Why are you taping me walking?"  

"I'm not," the guy answered, looking at me as if there were no reason in the world he'd waste film on someone  like me.  "I'm just checking the light before doing a story on the library construction."