DadCooksDinner Needs to Lose Weight. Again.


*Or: Does this food blog make me look fat?

Last year, I wrote my triumphant "how I lost weight, and kept it off" post. I'm not as thin as I was at my lowest weight, but I've kept off 40 pounds for a long time.

In October, my workplace offered a health screening. I went, to see where I was at. The results were not good. I weighed 228 pounds, about 10 more than I did at the beginning of the year. Even worse, my blood pressure is up, and while my overall cholesterol is OK, my good cholesterol is low. This worried me; my blood pressure had been good ever since I went through my original weight loss. And I was surprised I weighed as much as I did.  My weight had been stable at 220, plus or minus a few pounds, for quite a while.  228 was heavier than I wanted to be.

I decided to get back to how I lost weight in the first place:
  • Track my calories, and reduce overall eating
  • Eat more vegetables (relative to meat, dairy and starch)
  • Eat lean meats and nonfat dairy
  • Eat whole wheat rice, pasta and bread
*Exercise isn't on the list. I've become a slug. I need to work on that, too. But I digress...

For a couple of weeks, maybe a month, I was a good boy. I tracked my calories, didn't go back for that third helping of chili, and stopped after a glass of wine with dinner. OK, maybe two glasses. According to my home scale, I weighed 222 to 224 pounds the whole time - no weight gain, no weight loss. Then I stopped paying attention again.

Now it's the New Year, and I wanted to write a follow up post about weight loss. And I was struggling with it. I couldn't get myself to sit down and write these words. I think I new what was coming. After stalling for a couple of days, I took a deep breath, readied the camera, and got on the scale.

Two hundred and thirty three pounds.

Gulp.

Since this time last year, I gained FIFTEEN POUNDS. According to my scale, which said I was 222 at the time of my health screening, I am up ten pounds since October!

As much as I try to avoid it, this really isn't a surprise. I know that my meals have been pretty light on vegetables, particularly when Diane has been taking evening classes. My three picky eaters just won't eat vegetables, so it seems like too much effort to make them. And I do go back for that third helping of chili, or spaghetti, or ribeye. And that glass of wine or two with dinner sometimes turns into "one more glass, just to finish the bottle".

And...I'm worried I gained weight because of this blog.
*Oh, yeah, and a complete lack of self-discipline. I tend to forget that part.

I love writing recipes like rotisserie pork loin stuffed with cheese and capicola and grilled ribeye steaks with chipotle butter baste. And they're great to eat...in moderation. Those should be celebration meals, not something I cook weekly.
*Or, even worse, a couple of times a week.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not going to stop writing those kind of recipes. Or cooking them. But I am going to try to cook, eat, and write healthier in the new year.

Time to get back on track. As of today, I'm counting my calories, watching my portion sizes, and making sure half of my plate is vegetables. I still get to celebrate (Fiesta!) once a week, but I have to be vigilant with my other meals.

Vigilant doesn't have to mean boring. Good food seems to help me lose weight. Mindless eating is all too easy. Good food helps me pay attention while I eat, and makes me more satisfied with smaller portions.

And, because mindless eating is so easy, it's time to go to my bag of tricks. If I'm going to slip up, and eat mindlessly, I want it to work for me. Smaller portions are key; using 9 inch dinner plates tricks my brain into thinking the portions are larger. Food with low calorie density helps; eating a lot of soup (or a big dinner salad, or a vegetable heavy stew, or bean heavy chili) fills me up while keeping the calories down. Finally, I need more meals where meat is a condiment, not the whole dish (like a stir fry where one pound of meat is bulked up with a bunch of vegetables).
*I'm still trying to convince myself that brown rice and whole wheat pasta are as good as the regular versions. Whole wheat bread? Love it. Brown rice? OK, I can manage it, if I mix it with beans. Whole wheat pasta? Well, I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you.

What do you think? What are your New Year's resolutions? Any calorie reducing tricks you would like to share? Good ways to cook brown rice? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
My Rules for losing weight still work, if I bother to follow them.
DadCooksDinner Loses Weight...then gains some back

Recommended Reading:
Pam Anderson The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great


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13 comments:

DineInDiva said...

The thing about lost weight is when you stop keeping an eye on it, it sneaks back up and jumps on. Oh, how I know.

For the rice - bake it in the oven. Follow Alton's steps on foodnetwork.com. It's fluffy every time; never gummy.

I detest whole wheat pasta as well. Try Dreamfield's. It's lower GI, but looks and tastes completely normal. Marcs has it the cheapest.

I know you're busy, but you really need to find a way to get at least 30 minutes of exercise. It will do wonders for your cholesterol and allow you a little more leeway to enjoy the treats.

Look at it this way - if I can continue to commit to my exercise plan, when I have a perfect excuse to chuck it, can't you? I've only missed a handful of days since I started chemo, and some of those I spent in the hospital.

Good Luck Mike. Happy New Year.

growmyown said...

The Diva stole my tip. That is so Diva-ish. I love Alton's brown rice technique.

Become a "Faraway Parker". That will help the activity level. And, added bonus, keep your car from getting banged by car doors.

Happy New You Year!

Chris Clauson said...

As someone who dropped 60 pounds in 4 months by doing nothing more than changing eating habits, I highly recommend Michael Pollan's book "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto". The book is excellent and, while not revolutionary in its concepts, its basic premise is solid guidance: Eat Food, Not A Lot, Mostly Plants. For me, it was all about reducing my portions, eliminating all refined products and limiting animal products for the first two meals of the day. Good luck!

Chris

P.s. - A subsequent, condensed, offering by the same author focuses solely on the food choice bit: "Food Rules".

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Diva:

Thanks for the kick in the pants on the exercise. You're right, of course.

@growmyown and @Diva:

Alton Brown Rice tonight!

@Chris Clauson:

Yes, I love Michael Pollan's books. Read them both; recommended them to a lot of people. I just need to put my money where my mouth is. Or should I say, less food where my mouth is...

Lynn said...

I'm in the same boat--pounds sneaked in on me during the holidays. It happens every year. Sigh.

Let me start by saying I agree with everyone: get some exercise! You'll feel better all over once you get going. And yes, it's hard, hard, hard to get started. But it's a habit that will keep you healthier and happier the rest of your life, even more than watching your food intake.

There's tons of ways to add more movement to your life. I wear a pedometer (how geeky of me) and aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. Get a buddy and exercise together. Maybe you and your wife could take dancing lessons. (There may be other, wonderful side effects to that as well.)

For real kick in the pants, hire a personal trainer. Work out together with your wife. It sounds like she's struggling with the same challenges. Yes, it costs, but when you've plopped down that kind of money, you just don't skip sessions.

When I was growing up, my family used to take walks together--before dinner in the winters, after dinner in the summers. It was something we all did together.

Don't laugh--but my daughter (in her 30's) saved up and bought a Kinect for her X-box and belly dances with it several days a week.

The bottom line is there are tons of ways you can get some exercise and make it fun, as well. And there's no reason you can't involve the entire family. Get your kids in the habit NOW, and they'll struggle less when they're your age. What a gift!

OK. Enough about exercise. I've got some ideas about food and eating too (this used to be my profession), but I'll save that for a second post.

Good luck -- and get moving!

Lynn said...

OK, are you ready for my food rant? Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gents.

To begin with, I'm excited to follow your blog as you develop healthier options. I too love meat-heavy meals like braised lamb shanks, coq au vin, and sauerbraten, and will cook them for every day. And yet my daughter (she of the Kinects belly dancing workout) is a vegetarian. But even my vegetarian cooking isn't low fat/ I use tons of cheese and butter and eggs.
So I'm anxious to learn how to re-proportion my meals towards more veggies and less of the, well, good stuff.

That being said, Mike, why are you trying to cook and eat something you detest? Yes, whole wheat pasta is better for for you, but if you really hate it, why bother? Why not eat something you enjoy, in moderation? If you make yourself miserable eating things you don't enjoy, you won't stick to your plan. I've tried.
And what ended up happening was that the more I forced myself to eat something I detested, the more I detested the whole healthy diet thing. (I mean diet in the sense of food choices, not in the sense of caloric limitation.) I would eat the healthy stuff, and then flee to the brownies for comfort. So it didn't work out exactly as planned.

I love the idea of fiestas. No one can be good every second of every day, and who would want to be? That sounds stuffy and boring.

Another thing I've noticed (like I said, I used to do this kind of stuff as a profession) is that different people have different "weak" times. Some people like to overeat at dinner, others go for those donuts at coffee break, others gorge on fast food at lunch. I don't know your particular habits, but a quick survey of your overall food intake (keep a diary for a week or so) may show you some unexpected "opportunities for improvement."

Which leads me to my biggest weakness:
snacking. Come about 8:30 or 9:00 at night, I plop down in my recliner and start to snack. If I could just cut out that evening wine and cheese, or even limit it to reasonable quantities, I'd be home free. But once I get started . . .

One of the best ways I've found to combat that is to find something to keep my hands busy. I learned this from my dad; he does needlepoint. My mom cross-stiches. I hate sewing, but I've tried knitting. I've also played with modeling clay, even Silly Putty!

Finally, I've come to realize, after years of fighting it, that a good breakfast is really, really important. I can skip the 10:00 AM snack and eat less for lunch if I have a solid breakfast, with protein and yes, fat. Considering that breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day, (and also the meal at which I'm the most rushed and the least creative), coming up with breakfast ideas has been a real challenge. But it's worth it.

Hey, there's a thought for you, Mike. How about blogging about meals other than dinner? I could use some breakfast ideas.

On a personal note, thanks, Mike, for sharing your food and your ideas with us. You've become an inspiration. I really look forward to finding your blog in my mailbox a couple of times a week.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Lynn:

Thank you for the thoughtful comments...holy cow, where do I start?

There were a couple of things that jump out at me:
- Exercise. You're right, I need to make it part of my routine. Still working on that part...

-Why do I keep trying to eat foods I detest? Well, because I've learned that I shouldn't trust my first impression on a lot of tastes. I love figuring out what it is about certain foods that interests other people. In other words, maybe there is a brand of whole wheat pasta out there that tastes good? (Or maybe, with brown rice, I'm just cooking it wrong?) I haven't found a good ww pasta yet, but I'm still hoping. It sure would help with weight loss. My experience has been that moderation requires eternal vigilance...and being eternally vigilant is, unfortunately, not one of my strong points.

I mainly blog about dinner because that's when I do all of my cooking. Dad Cooks Dinner, but Mom cooks breakfast. (Hey, she's a good cook too, and since I commandeered the kitchen for dinner, she needs a way to keep her hand in.) One of these days I'll convince her to do a week of breakfast posts for me.

Thank you again for all the kind thoughts!

Paula Neal Mooney said...

Mike - This is an excellent and honest post.

Most of us only write up a success post when we've lost the weight we wanted -- but I respect your bravery for writing this one now.

Thank God you've got a great jumping off point and motivation to get back down to where you want to be.

He will do it and show you the way!

Happy and healthy eating and writing to you...

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Paula:

Thank you for the kind thoughts! It doesn't feel like bravery to me; I'm more annoyed with myself for letting my weight get this high again.

John K. said...

Mike -- I feel your pain. I've battled my weight for most of my life. About a year and a half ago I was very pleased with how the battle was going. Then I had the first of two knee surgeries, which derailed my exercise program (I had been working out six days a week). And without thinking of it my eating habits got sloppy. Weight creeped back up.... The same old story.

About that same time I started to really get interested in cooking again. Reading some really good food blogs (ahem...), and what I know can be an obsession with food added to it.

I'm working at getting things back in balance. Back to a rigorous exercise program. Eating back under control. Learning that I can eat good stuff that's healthy too. And saving the other "good stuff" for a special occasion.

I too admire you going public like this. I've done the same in my own way...now it's time to live up to it.

Keep us posted on how you are doing. Best wishes always.....

John

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@John K:

Thank you. Sounds like you're on the right track as well. And I'm sorry if my blog has been a bad influence...

bhdc said...

Love your grilling recipes! Best new book on WHY we gain/lose weight is Gary Taubes' 'Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It.' The best part is that the reasons have NOTHING to do with 'eat less/exercise more!' Make reading it one of your New Year's resolutions.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@bhdc:

Thank you! I read Taubes book a few years ago. I thought it was a fascinating read, and I tried to follow his eating advice for a while, but it didn't work for me. I'm an omnivore - trying to cut something out entirely, be it carbs or fat or whatever, just doesn't work for me in the long term.

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