August 1, 2008

That’s me singing the Banana Bread Song.

WOW, that joke is horrible. Get me, I’m intolerable!

So I had these bananas that were clearly within a day or two of going bad, but right before bananas go bad, they go through that phase where they’re very dark and very soft but not yet bad, and that’s the moment where they cry out to you, “Use me to make banana bread.”

And for once, instead of watching something go bad while chastising myself for not making something out of it, I actually made banana bread. I used this recipe from Cooking Light, pretty much exactly as written. My only modification was that after the prescribed hour of cooking time, it looked good on the outside, but when I put a knife into it, I pulled out banana pudding. So, needless to say, it required about another ten minutes of baking time, but it didn’t dry out or overcook on the outside in the meantime. As a friend of mine was saying the other day, quick breads can be kind of temperamental, and I think with something as vague as very ripe bananas, the cooking time could be altered by anything from how ripe and mushy they are to how much volume you actually get — I just used three ripe bananas; it’s not like I measured the mashed banana to make sure it was a cup and a half.

Let me tell you, this stuff is so good. With light quick breads, as you know if you’ve ever made them, the risk is that they will be incredibly dry. If you’ve ever made a supposedly healthy applesauce bread and wound up feeling like you’re trying to do that parlor trick where you eat six Saltines in a minute, you know just what I’m talking about. But with banana bread, it’s so moist from all the fruit that there’s no danger of that at all. You could probably make this with oil instead of butter for a bit less saturated fat, but a quarter-cup for an entire loaf…you know. It’s not that bad. My only hesitation is that it uses white flour exclusively. I’d like to try it with some whole-grain flour or something else that would give it a bit of fiber, but the texture is so divine that I’m afraid to ruin it.

As it happens, a couple of days before I made the bread, it was Errand Day, so I had my Zipcar, and Ames and I went to Trader Joe’s, where I became fascinated with their “cashew macadamia nut butter.” You know, like peanut butter, but with cashews and macadamia nuts?

You know what’s an insanely good breakfast? Two thin slices of homemade banana bread, toasted, with a very small amount of cashew macadamia butter and two bitty clementines. It has fruit, it has protein, and it makes me feel pampered. It’s a tad higher in calories than I’d usually have, but I was heading into a big workout, so it seemed like a fine idea.

I felt so good, in fact, that I went and did the Biggest Loser Power Sculpt, which I’d purchased by not tried yet.

What the hell is with Kim? Jillian, good. Bob, weird but good. Kim? OH MY GOD, I hate her guts. What is her problem? It’s like she’s both really twee and really judgmental. You can only be one of those! Basically, the structure is that there’s a five-minute warmup with Jillian, then a twenty-minute sequence with Jillian, then a ten-minute sequence with Kim, then a ten-minute sequence with Bob, then a five-minute cool-down with Jillian. (This may be why Sarah noted no warmup; if this was the same “power sculpt,” it’s in modules, so the warmup is separate, and it’s on the DVD, but it might not be part of the same On Demand thingy.)

Anyhoo, it was interesting to watch this video, where the participants are Biggest Loser contestants, some of whom still are obviously working on losing some weight. Bob, in particular, wants you to spend an obscene amount of time in standard push-up and plank positions, which even the BL graduates simply can’t do. You wind up looking at people whose “push-up position” involves butts high in the air, which is not right, but that’s just not a position that larger people can hold for that long. It was frustrating to me that, during the course of the workout, nobody said, “You know, even our demonstrators can’t do this, which isn’t good for morale for the people watching at home.” I did as much of it as I could, and I wound up doing all the segments, which is supposedly the most advanced version of the video. It’s definitely very difficult and imposing, with 40 minutes of pretty hard labor.

As always, I liked the Jillian parts the best. I just liked it that, when one of the demonstrators was doing the move wrong (not in the “bad and injuring form” way, just in the “that’s not what we’re doing” way), Jillian was like, “No, tap. Tap. TAP!” in this voice that wasn’t really mocking and wasn’t really critical, it was just amused, like, “Hey, Sweaty McGee, you want to pay attention?” It brings a little bit of needed lightheartedness to the proceedings when the exercise lady is like, “Hi, we’re over here, and we’re doing this, so whenever you want to join in.”

So things are good today. Sweaty McGee, reporting.


Okay, Sarah has really waited for this one.

Finally, finally, I am back on a regular workout routine, which has stabilized my mood and taken a few pounds off and all kinds of good things. I have a pretty decent daily schedule set up, which I’ve been pretty good about sticking to, except when it’s disrupted by weird little things.

One of my staples is the new set of The Firm workouts, which no longer require that you have a big plastic step in your living room, which makes them much more apartment-friendly and also keeps me from having to throw things at the television when they keep making me step up to the high step.

This one includes “Hi-Def Sculpt” (with Annie!), “Cardio Overdrive” (with Alison!), “Hard-Core Fusion” (with Allie!), and “Cardio Party” (with all of them, plus Rebecca!). The one that Sarah and I have spent the most time talking about — even though she was flatly refusing to do it last time we talked — is “Cardio Party.”

IT IS NOT A PARTY, you morons. If I wanted to go to a party, I would know how to do that. It would not involve Allie Del Rio announcing that she is beginning the “fiesta,” and it certainly would not involve Rebecca at all, for any reason. I fully understand that everyone likes different instructors, and I’m not really mad at Rebecca, but…she drives me crazy, you guys.

For one thing, Rebecca has a hard time figuring out the timing to take you from one move to the next. She frequently says “do whatever” at a moment when it’s impossible to tell whether she means THIS time or NEXT time, and it isn’t consistent from one time to the next. Furthermore, there is this part where…man alive. There is this part where Rebecca keeps saying “step touch…both arms,” and she does it about a hundred times in a row, and she sounds precisely the same every single time: “Step touuuuch…both aaaaarms,” and it sounds like she’s a robot, seriously.

Annie has a different problem. Annie stops smiling, and then someone off-camera tells her to smile, and it’s way too obvious, because she goes, “DING!” all of a sudden. She’s working out perfectly normally, and then she suddely flashes this completely random toothy grin.

Among other things, these workouts make an interesting contrast with Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser fame, whom I have also grown to like even though I don’t watch that show. There’s something about the way she announces that taking the stairs is bad advice compared to doing jumping jacks that I just really like. “There is no modification for jumping jacks; I have 400-pound people who can do jumping jacks.” I like her, and I like the fact that she spends workout time making you want to die of sweat, instead of doing what some of the Firm videos fall into, which is making it too complicated so you spend half the time just trying not to step on your own feet. Alison’s “Cardio Overdrive” is like this; it keeps making you change feet needlessly, alternating sides by inserting one-beat pauses instead of just doing, like, eight on one foot and then eight on the other. Constantly changing the lead foot is actually sort of hard, and it distracts me.

There’s no getting distracted with Jillian. It’s like, “Hi, do this until you pass out.” I also really, really like her patter. It’s very encouraging, but it’s not demeaning or insulting. It sort of says, “The only way the body changes is by being placed under stress, so that’s why you’re doing this thing that feels really unpleasant.” It’s not like this is news, but the way she puts it really works on me. I have her “30-Day Shred,” and I can juuuust barely get through the first level (it’s not even a half-hour long, really) with a few little stops in the middle to catch my breath. It’s very, very challenging, but it’s also pleasantly mindless., because it only changes once every 30 seconds to a minute, and it changes between easy, obvious things.

I also took a tip from the Tomato Nation commenters and tried Inhale, the yoga show on Oxygen with Steve Ross. When Virginia Heffernan reviewed him at Slate, she made him sound kind of mean and negative, but I don’t find him that way at all. I think he’s almost always kidding, and I find the fact that he actually has a sense of humor to be refreshing. I mean, I can’t imagine a yoga class that wouldn’t be somewhat annoying at some level, because IT’S YOGA, and Steve can certainly get pretty goofy going on about your center and accessing magic by touching your belly button and so forth. But for the most part, I find him amusing.

But when Heffernan talks about the balancing poses that she finds are “difficult,” she’s singing my song. I can’t do that stuff at all, and I doubt I could with a year of practice. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never done it, but if you come equipped with some soft squishy spots on your body that Steve doesn’t have, some of his poses simply aren’t going to work for you, and the balancing stuff is among the hardest, I think.

Still, I do find it kind of interesting and invigorating, and I’m happy to have something else to fit into the routine. Right now, I’m not feeling an overwhelming need to join a gym, which is nice. I figure that if I can be as artificially happy as Annie and as mellow as Steve, but also as plain-spoken as Jillian, I will do fine.

Because, I believe, of the New York law now requiring calorie information to be displayed by more establishments, we now have little signs on all the food at Starbucks indicating how many calories those delicious pastries actually have. I’ve always been roughly familiar with the content of the drinks, but the food varies so much from place to place that it’s really interesting to see it laid out like that.

The restaurants, of course, always resist this — they believe that it will cut into people’s desire to eat a muffin if they have to look down the barrel of how many calories it has. But my guess is that it will affect choices among pastries more than it will affect whether you buy one or not. When I looked at the case on a morning when I hadn’t gotten my act together enough for a real breakfast (tax time — don’t judge me!), it was really interesting to look and see that a blueberry muffin had a fairly manageable, breakfast-sized 320 calories, while a raspberry scone had a much more daunting 470. I think of both of those as “a treat with coffee,” and if one has 150 calories less than another, that’s good to be reminded of while I’m standing there. And look at the rustic apple tart, which is really quite tasty — only 190 calories, largely because by volume, it’s largely a sliced cooked apple.

I can’t say having a blueberry muffin every morning would be any kind of a good idea, but I was struck by the fact that standing there, it really was helpful to have those numbers staring at me, not for guilt reasons, but for what felt like very logical cost-benefit reasons, and in that moment, I was proud of myself a little.

Long Time No See

April 9, 2008

So when we last spoke, I was trying to learn how to eat without lists, which has actually been pretty educational and helpful. Particularly since I moved to New York and took a job that was (1) very stressful and (2) located in the recreational-food paradise of Rockefeller Center, I did gain some weight back, boo.

But as I said when I started this thing, the key is not quitting, and now that I’m working at home and have infinitely more flexibility and far less easy access to delicious but unproductive lunch options, it’s started to come back off, which is a relief.

Honestly, rather than rehashing, let’s agree that we will just GET ON WITH IT from here, because there has been more than enough dallying.

Right now, I am working a system that involves eating five or six times a day, more evenly distributed than the usual MEAL-snack-MEAL-snack-MEAL-snack theory that hasn’t always served me well. I realize there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about the small-meals idea, but it really has been a help. My biggest problem is actually lazing around and drinking coffee until 10 in the morning (after The People’s Court…don’t judge me) and eating nothing until then, by which time I’m overhungered. If that’s a word. Which I think it isn’t.

Anyway, it’s going to take me a little time to get back in the swing, so for now, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what’s working for you. Do you believe in small meals? Is there any possibility you’ve discovered a combination of chocolate and cheese that makes you shrink? Okay, maybe not the last one.

At any rate, let’s get on with it already; the cow’s not going to lose itself.

Everybody Hurts

October 28, 2006

You will remember how Dave The Personal Trainer approached me over the summer while I was on the elliptical trainer, and you will remember that I didn’t do anything about it at the time. This message is being brought to you by my sore… everything, the result of the fact that finally, I got around to getting it going.

I am not working with Dave TPT, which is probably just as well, because Dave TPT would be distracting. I would conk my head with weights while staring. So it’s just as well that Dave TPT was not there when I showed up at the desk one day. Instead, at the desk, was… well, TPT. Different TPT. TPT was not sure whether he wanted to train me at first, because as we talked about what I was looking for from the experience, he quickly became concerned about a deep philosophical divide between us: I professed not to care that much as between the Browns and the Bengals. He immediately announced that he would not be training me, but would find me someone good. I asked him why he cared, and he said he was from Cincinnati. After I explained that I had relatives in Cincinnati, and after I was able to explain to him within a reasonable degree of certainty where in Cincinnati they lived, he agreed that perhaps it would work after all.

That was before my glorious vacation of early October, during which I visited my beautiful sister, increasingly awesome nephews, lovely pal Ames, and inimitable Music Stylist — now accompanied by his charming family, which finally got out from under the horrible strife of living in Wisconsin. Yuck. At any rate, TPT and I agreed that rather than skip a week and a half when I was just starting out, I’d just start after I got back. I got back on Sunday the 15th, and because the world tends to conspire to make me procrastinate even when I’m not trying, I immediately became deathly ill with a chest full of crackle paint and sinuses full of wet sand. This did not seem like a good way to start either, not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t make even a Bengals fan sick on purpose (just kidding!), so I had to cancel, and we reset for this past Sunday as opening day.

Here’s the thing about me and stuff like this: the most important thing is getting past the part where I feel like a complete wad. Seriously, you get me out there with my hair in a ponytail and my clumsiness blazing (although, in fairness, I was rocking my special-edition Glarkware shirt that says “Is This Because I’m A Recapper?” on the back), and I am in goddamn gym class all over again, and I can’t climb the rope, and you would think that maybe some of this would have left me, but none of it has. So the first thing I have to do is get used to the fact that if we’re going to do weight machines and whatnot, I’m going to hang out in the half of the gym with the Guys Who Go “RUH!” You know, those guys. They wear muscle shirts, and they wear little leather gloves, and with every move, they go, “RUH!” At least they’re thinking it. My half of the gym is the half where the people walking on treadmills and watching TV and playing their iPods hang out. That’s the mellow half. The half where it’s just distracted sweating. Hanging out with the GWGR is totally different. RUH! There aren’t as many of me over there as there are over by the treadmills. I instantly feel more… presumptuous. I trail TPT around very carefully, partly because I’ll get lost otherwise, but partly to lend myself legitimacy. “He’s making me do this,” I try to say to the GWGR via mental telepathy.

The first day was really not bad, with the exception of one thing, and for those of you who know what I’m talking about, you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about: GODDAMN BIG BALL. You know how those balance balls look kind of friendly and floaty, like you could cuddle up with one to listen to someone read you a story? Well, you can’t. Because they are made of evil. If you’ve ever seen the episode of The Office where Dwight is sitting on one and Jim stabs it with a pair of scissors? I now love that episode for an extra reason, which is that those things are not nice. TPT makes me sit down on it, then roll forward until my head and shoulders are on it and I’m flat like a plank out to my knees. Are you picturing this? Okay. Now, he wants me to lift up each leg in turn.

This sounds easy. It is not easy. It is designed to humiliate you, as he basically admitted. See, once you have nothing but your head and shoulders on the ball, moving your leg means moving your hips, which means falling off the ball. You wouldn’t think you could fall off a ball, but I assure you that you can. This is the soundtrack from me, doing this exercise: “Oops. Whoops. Oops. Oops. Whoops. Shit. Oh, sorry. Oops. Goddammit.” All I do is fall off. If falling off were the exercise, I would already be queen of it.

The rest of it? Not that bad. Acceptable, though very difficult. At the end, I wasn’t sore, exactly. I was just made of rubber. I went downstairs and discovered that changing for your shower is very hard when you can’t lift your arms over your head. I waited a couple of minutes.

That night, while I was over at M. Giant and Trash’s, Trash tried to convince me to drink, like, eight gallons of water before bed. “It will wash out all the… I don’t know… the thing? And the whatever? There’s a thing that makes you sore, and the water. Mm. Drink water! Shut up!” If you know Trash, you know that this is almost an exact transcription. I chose not to take her advice, because I think its only possible value is that it would have made me get out of bed five times overnight, which might have helped keep me from stiffening up, I admit.

And then, there was the being very sore. Not bad, not like I was injured. Just… sore. And as I explained to Tara, the only things that didn’t hurt were the things I care about not hurting: back, neck, knees. So I give TPT big props for that.

Today was round two. We started out with treadmill walking, which saves me a few minutes with the GWGR, but which also makes me… stand there while someone watches me walk on a treadmill, which is disconcerting. I feel like I should be entertaining him or something. I’d tell jokes, but… I don’t think so. We somehow got on the topic of him trying to help me keep from dropping weights on my head later, and we discussed what would happen if I did drop weights on my head and need to be taken to the hospital. We agreed that he would probably call me an ambulance, but he would definitely try to get himself another client for whatever remained of my hour.
The only bad development was that this was the day TPT learned that I will not be doing pull-ups. At least not at this time. I was a good trouper and I tried. But… no. Actually, more like “HA HA HA! No.”

For whatever reason, the machines were more crowded than they were on Sunday, even though it was Wednesday (crazy Minnesotans), so we did a bunch of other things, including walking lunges. What I “love” about walking lunges? It’s the closest you’re going to come to actually going up to every individual person at the gym, knocking on the side of his head, and saying, “Hi, would you like to stare at me?” Because “walking” means “walking.” Down the aisle. Of machines. I kept feeling like I should wave to everyone. I almost stepped on the head of a guy doing sit-ups. This was also the only thing during which I actually hurt myself. You may or may not know this, but you have this muscle halfway down the outside of your thigh that you use for getting out of the car. You aren’t even aware that you’re using it, but you are. You’ll only learn you have it if you ever harm it in any way, as I did, while doing walking lunges. Getting out of the car will immediately become substantially more challenging.
Also on today’s agenda: something that felt a lot like a field sobriety test. Stand on one foot, put the other foot forward… to the side… behind you. Do this for one minute. I told TPT that this would help if I were ever pulled over, which resulted in his telling me a very amusing story about proving to a friend that he wasn’t drunk by doing a row of back flips. This is why he’s a trainer, and I’m… a writer.

At the end, we attacked the thing on the side of my leg. The Getting Out Of The Car Muscle. Specifically, he taught me how to give it a massage (this had an official name starting with “self” and ending with “release,” which caused me to do my Beavis laugh, but only on the inside), which he told me would hurt like holy hell at first. Which — mission accomplished!

At any rate, I am still what I would describe as “fuck-all sore,” but mostly in a good way. Today wasn’t as much Arm Day as Sunday — it was more Leg Day, which is why instead of being unable to lift my arms over my head, I almost had my leg give out on the way down to the locker room. But other than the Getting Out Of The Car Muscle, it’s all going well. I am encouraged by the fact that TPT tells me what to do, but does not feel the need to be all “rah rah,” because I would have to punch him in the face if he did that. In fact, we have a growing sense of trust — a dude came strolling by while I was working out today, and he was clearly kind of watching and observing, and he slapped TPT on the back, and I was thinking, “QUIT STARING.” But it turned out that it was TPT’s boss. “So this would be the wrong time to scream for help,” I said. “No,” said TPT. “That would be good. It would draw attention to us and make it clear that I’m a jovial trainer.”

The Experimental Cook

December 5, 2004

I can always tell things are going better when I do something like invent a soup, as I did yesterday.

I chopped about half an onion with my little chopper, which is the best thing ever if you work in small amounts — a million times faster to use and clean up than a mini food processor, and just as good. See the Pampered Chef version here; I can’t remember if I technically got it from them or if it’s a similar one, but that’s the idea. Anyway. Chopped the onion, dropped it and a little bottled minced garlic into a sprayed nonstick saucepan, cooked it up a little. Added about 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth, some minced jalapenos, some chili powder, a little cumin, about a cup of canned corn, about a cup of canned black beans, and about a half a can of stewed tomatoes. Simmered it for a while, then stuck my hand blender right into it, just like they used to do on the infomercials, blending the soup while it was still on the stove simmering. Didn’t puree it perfectly, but got it nice and thick.

Then I mixed two tablespoons of flour and two tablespooons of skim milk with a fork until it was smooth and added that, which made it nice and thick. Shredded a skinless boneless chicken breast half I had poached on the stove while the soup cooked, let that cook some. Added a small handful of shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and finished it with a couple of tablespoons, believe it or not, of nonfat half-and-half, which gave it a creamier look. This wound up making two generous servings of soup for me, and when I ran the nutritional information, what do you know? It was just about perfect for what I would want for dinner. Well-balanced, right number of calories, and — if I do say so myself — very tasty. I would probably add the whole can of tomatoes next time, and either some cayenne or more peppers.

The point of this (short) entry is that this is what I’m trying to do — learn to do it by feel. I couldn’t tell you exactly how many points it had, and I couldn’t break it down into breads and milks, and the shredded cheese isn’t Core, and I didn’t consult any lists of what to eat and not to eat, but I know when I make that on the stove that it’s good for me, that I’m not overfeeding myself, and that it’s what I want at that particular moment.

Funny story — when I first ran the nutritional information, it was coming back at 675 calories a serving, which was a lot more than I thought it should have. I could not figure out what the hell I was doing wrong, and I was like, “Man, maybe I’m wrong, and I don’t know how to do this as well as I thought.” It just seemed off somehow; I know approximately what food values are, and I was really discouraged by it. Then I realized that it was counting a cup of dried black beans. Which cooks up into about a truckload of beans. So that’s what was wrong. I fixed it so it (by which I mean MasterCook 7, the program I use for recipe analysis) knew I was using canned beans, and bang! About 375 to 400 calories, which is exactly right for dinner.

It is possible. You can do it by feel, but you have to be patient and train yourself, and that’s why I encourage people to use a program for as long as they still feel like it’s good for them. At some point, you begin to internalize it and you can do a lot of it without counting, but it takes a long time to do that, and I’m just kind of establishing myself there, which is sort of fun and interesting.

Also, I have leftover soup to have for lunch.

Back. Better. BOOM!

November 21, 2004

Okay, so that was a little break.

Here’s the thing. The whole time I’ve been doing this, I’ve worked in steps. Lose a bunch, go full-out, then lose a little ground. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Mid-September was the beginning of the “Lose a little ground” phase. Now when I saw “lose ground,” I’m talking about gaining back, like, maybe five to seven pounds, two or three of which are already gone again. It’s not a collapse. But I’m not really doing it, either, and I tend to stop working out, and I kind of don’t want to talk about it, and I’m just too busy, among other things, to put a lot of time into cooking and so forth. And the thing is that I don’t even feel really down about it. I’m just on hold.

But at the same time, I don’t really want to keep doing it that way. For one thing, stopping working out is always a bad idea, because not only do you lose your fitness improvements pretty quickly, it just makes me less energetic and less happy. So I’m not happy with the status quo, no matter how easy it is to see that I’m still doing really well, and will end the year easily 20 pounds down from where I started. And I have kept a substantial and ever-increasing amount off for, like, five years now. And it’s not coming back. I don’t even worry about that, because as soon as I get to the five-to-seven stage, it’s like . . . okay, well, enough slacking.

So I got thinking about what to do, and how these periods begin in the first place — these times when I just kind of hold rather than continuing to progress, and I realized that it’s always when there’s some interruption. I’m interrupted by a trip or a change in schedule or something, and it’s not at all that I’d ever claim that I can’t stay on track when that happens; I just don’t. And in diagnosing why I don’t, I had this revelation.

I don’t want to be on a plan anymore. I don’t want to be counting anymore. I don’t want to be on Core or Flex, even though I think they’re both really good. I was at the grocery store yesterday, and I was trying to restock the house after living on Lean Cuisines for a while, and I was thinking . . . “Well, I learned on Core that I occasionally really like a piece of lean meat, and really like the shot of protein. But . . . Core is so hard on bread, and I really like to be able to have bread . . . and I have to count all my lowfat flavored yogurt, so . . . ” And I stood there, debating about which one I wanted to try to be on.

And then I just thought . . . I know how to eat. I know how to have a good breakfast, a good lunch, a good dinner. I know how much is too much. I’ve counted points for so long that I know what benefit you get from not putting cheese on your sub, or getting the small instead of the medium. I know from Core that lattes are really nice and are basically milk, so they’re a very good idea. I know from years of experience that whatever my opinion of the anti-carb vigilantes is, a bowl of pasta may be very tasty, but I will indeed be hungry half an hour later.

I know how to eat. I don’t always do it, but I know how to do it, and I think I’m tired of being on plans where I invariably feel like I’m either on or off, either doing or not doing. I just want to do what I think is healthy for me for a while and see what happens.

So I’m inventing my own “plan,” which I am calling the Eat By The Seat Of Your Pants plan. I want to emphasize that I don’t condone this, as I haven’t even tried it. Maybe I’ll gain five pounds in the first week and come back here all, “Uh, no.”

But I don’t think so. I think I’m just . . . ready to stop eating like my eating is disordered somehow, which it isn’t. I snack on yogurt and fruit or whole wheat crackers, naturally and easily. At worst, I snack on, like, Baked Doritos. When I gain a few pounds, it’s because I take a couple of trips and eat really good food that I really enjoy and drink margaritas and lie around. And I’m not sorry about any of that, and it comes back off when I go back to normal.

We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. All I know is that I look at myself, and I feel like . . . honestly, what is anybody with a book or a plan or a graph going to tell me that’s any better than what I already know? I have a lot of confidence in my experience. I have a lot of confidence in what I’ve learned about myself. That’s why when Core came out, even when I was having a lot of success with it, I was modifying it a little bit. I never counted my occasional handful of raisins. Because I know myself, and I know that isn’t the problem for me. I know I can have lowfat raspberry yogurt and not binge on it.

I’m wanting to do it myself. I hear people who like points talk about “accountability,” and it just baffles me, because . . . how am I ever going to be any more accountable than I am when I see every day whether things are going the way I want or not? And every time I think that, I think, “Right, but they say that at Weight Watchers all the time — that everybody thinks they can do it themselves, and that’s when they gain it all back.” Respectfully . . . I’m not everybody. I’ve already done this. It may not all be gone yet, but it doesn’t come back. I don’t have to go twenty years before I get to say that perhaps having learned the lessons I did from following all these things, I am ready to apply them in a way that might be right for me even if it wouldn’t suit everybody. If I do best with some Core/Flex hybrid, who’s to say that’s not right for me? What if I had invented Core while Weight Watchers only had Flex? Would that have been bad?

I want to make it clear that I encourage people who are in the early stages of this to follow something like Weight Watchers. I think it’s incredibly helpful to have that structure, and like I said, I’ve learned a huge amount from following those plans and from learning about trade-offs in a way I never would have if I hadn’t been on a counting-type plan.

But I know how to eat. When I don’t do it, it’s not because I don’t know what to do, and it’s not because I’m not committed enough. It’s because I choose to prioritize something else, and however I feel about that, that’s the level where I’m going to have to handle it. I don’t want to count anymore, and I don’t want to obey rules I think are overly restrictive for my personal lifestyle anymore, either.

It’s the Eat By The Seat Of Your Pants Plan. And now that I’m back, you will get to hear all about it.