The Return of the Calorie Count and Censoring Sex Crimes

Hey, dudes/ladies, check out this adorable-as-all-hell travel mug I bought for myself at Newbury Comics on my birthday shopping trip.

I brought it with me on my grocery shopping trip this morning, and looked classy as a mofo.At the moment, I am drinking copious amounts of green tea out of it in an attempt to flush out the massive quantities of bloat I acquired in between yesterday and today; yep, I gained 3.4 pounds overnight, and am now 130.6. Peachy, no? Of course, yesterday, I was voluntarily going to count calories beginning today, but now that I actually have to, I am like, “NOOOOOO THIS IS SO UNNATURAL, LIKE TWIMOMS, SERIOUSLY THOSE WOMEN ARE WAY TOO OLD TO LOVE ON TAYLOR LAUTNER THAT IS BORDERLINE PEDOPHILIA AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

Blergh. Of course, I am sure it is just water retention and that it is nigh impossible to gain that much weight overnight. Regardless, I am sorry for the mad repetitive binge-oriented posts as of late; when I get stressed out about one thing, I tend to stress out about everything else in my life, too. It is like my stress is the common cold, and “fear of the return of binge eating”-thoughts are that kid in your class who has the really bad immune system and always gets sick, and all my other thoughts are like, “Ugh why does he come to class when he is sick, vacation is coming up I hope I don’t get sick,” but they do. And, when I do get stressed out about a thing, I tend to obsesses over it and basically repeat the same thoughts on it over and over like a broken record.

Anyway, yesterday definitely was a binge. I’m not sure why I seem to have intuitive eating down on most days of the week but not on celebratory days/holidays. Maybe it’s because while I was dieting, I gave myself a pass to binge on said days? Ah, well. I guess all I can do is chalk it up to a learning experience and just be better prepared as the next holiday rolls around.

“But, Elizabeth, you said you were stressed about a thing. TELL US.”

Oh, blog readers, you’re so thoughtful/concerned! Or just vile gossip mongers, you bastards. Whatever, I’ll tell you anyway.

As some of you may know/recall, I recently started working as a radio anchor/reporter. This is (was?) a pretty cool thing as it is what I went to school for, but something happened last Saturday that has me mild to moderately concerned: Long story short, I aired a news piece I had pulled off the AP wire* that was about a Massachusetts priest who had been arrested for soliciting sex. I got hell of chewed out by my boss (“We don’t air smut,” “That’s not what our audience wants to hear,” etc.), and was informed that the stations on which I broadcast news generally avoid stories on “sex scandals, rape, [and] child pornography.”

On the one hand, I understand the our news airs on entertainment/music stations and now dedicated news stations, but on the other hand I’m troubled that we’re a) censoring content and b) grouping together stories about sex scandals and rape. It just makes me uneasy, and my job feels trivial; are we only supposed to feed people fluff?

What are your thoughts regarding stories on sex crimes? Do you expect “softer” news when you’re listening to an entertainment station rather than a station dedicated to news/talk?

* For those who are unfamiliar with how news works, many media outlets (e.g., newspapers, radio stations, etc.) use stories by the Associated Press (i.e. the AP, an extensive news agency) in their broadcasts or publications, since most news sources don’t have the resources to send their journalists all across the country. For example, the company I work for would never send a reporter all the way to the G-20 summit in Toronto, so instead we’d use a story on it by the AP for our national news segment.

Hello, Home/New Things Thursday: Mindful Eating

Yay, I made it home! And, was greeted upon arrival with a jury summons. Thanks for the “Welcome Back!” gift, government!

Since I’m going to be working at a broadcasting company right next to my hometown, my mom was kind enough to let me move back home for a bit and live rent free while I get on my feet/save some money. My mom and I get along really well, and we’ve been through a lot together—my dad left when I was a few months old, so it’s always been just her and me. Anyway, it’s great to be home. I am going to celebrate having access to a kitchen again by making Parmesan risotto from Cook’s Illustrated’s “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook. If I’m not too lazy, afterwards, this may mean you’ll get your first recipe review, soon. LUCKY YOU.

Also, I did not binge yesterday (hooray!), though I did go a little overboard. Ultimately, I only ended up using 120 more calories than was officially allotted to me*, but I definitely ate more sweets than I should have; I started with some Tim Tams and ice cream, which was fine, but then at the grocery store I impulsively snagged a bakery cookie and a candy bar. If I hadn’t chomped those, I’d have 660 extra calories today rather than negative 120!** Blergh! But, lesson learned; don’t eat treats on the run and try to keep it to one indulgence a day. I’m going to try and compensate for the extra calories I ate yesterday by eating that much less today, but—in the spirit of eating intuitively—I’m not going to not eat if I get hungry. It’s only 120 calories, after all, and that’s part of the glory of maintenance: Some days you eat a little more, some days you eat a little less. Usually, it all balances out.

Anyway, today marks the return of New Things Thursday! Hooray! Today’s new thing (Mindful Eating) is actually brought to you by Maria over at Chasing the Now (which you should start reading if you don’t already do so; it’s a great “healthy living” blog and also a really interesting look at life in Japan, where Maria lives with her husband. Personally, I’d love to visit Japan … so I can visit the Nintendo store. What?), who recently instituted the “Make Time to Dine” challenge.

When she did so, I realized I hardly ever just eat. When I eat, I’m also usually reading, watching TV or doing something else ridiculous that could probably wait until later, all of which are bad things to do while eating, especially since Maria says that studies have shown that more calories are taken in when we’re distracted while chomping. THAT’S BAD. Anyway, I pledged to take part once I got home, since when she introduced the challenge I needed every waking (and some sleeping) moment to write essays.

So, when I sat down for breakfast today, I said, “It is mindful eating time!”, especially since I’m trying intuitive eating, and part of that is paying attention to your hunger level while eating. But, how can you notice if you’re full if you’re to too busy reading a book while throwing back your breakfast?

Mindful eating was … weird. Honestly, the whole time I was eating, I wanted to reach for a book, or something. I didn’t realize how much of a habit multitasking while eating had become. But, while breakfast this morning meant I spent my meal taking a really hard look at my kitchen rather than a piece of reading material, it also meant that I savored my meal, more (it took me twenty minutes to eat a bowl of cereal, since I purposefully put my utensil down between bites). NEAT. Give it a try, dudes; you my find that when you actually pay attention to your plate, you don’t want everything that is on it.

*I’m trying to eat intuitively, but I’m still tallying calories at the end of the day just to see where doing so puts me with my intake.

** I’m still doing the “bonus calories” system at the moment, too, but any caloric allowances are really more of a guideline now that I’m doing maintenance rather than a hard and fast rule, especially since I don’t know how much I’ve eaten until I’ve added all my calorie values up at the end of the day.

The Binge Beat-down Post

First off, I feel the need to make a disclaimer: Although I have been without a binge for quite some time (four weeks, I think, and I’ve only binged twice in the past 13 weeks), I reckon I don’t really think I’ve “beat” binge eating. I don’t think that I’ll go without a binge ever again, but there is a big difference between bingeing every few months when you’re presented with delicious noms at the holidays or you just really want deliciousness and bingeing every week and feeling like you’re an emotional wreck afterwards. Everyone binges sometimes, and that’s OK, but the key word here is “sometimes.”

Anyway, if you don’t recall, before my blogging break I was bingeing about every one to two weeks. Part of this was because of stress, part of it was because of a mish-mash of other reasons, but regardless I know other people struggle with this, and I want to share some of the changes I made that allowed me to shake this, somewhat. I hope it helps, because I know how frustrating being a binge eater can be. Also, you’ve probably seen some of these tips before and are going to be like, “OMG I’VE READ THESE IDEAS ALREADY.” Yes, but have you tried them? Regardless, if I’m reiterating them here, it’s because they worked for me. Also, some of these tips may be more “don’t-binge-while-on-a-diet”-oriented then others, as I was trying to lose weight AND quash bingeing at the same time, so if you’re just trying to maintain your weight some of these may not apply to you.

a) You gotta want it. Or, you have to be ready. Honestly, I think for some time I didn’t really care if I continued binge eating. For me, I was in college, i.e. not the “real world,” and I could always just lose the weight next semester before I started my “new life.” Granted, impending graduation is what finally made me get my act together, but if you really don’t want to stop bingeing, then you’re not going to be able to. And, in this same vein …

b) Find an alternative motivation for wanting to lose weight/stop binge eating besides “being thin.” My primary motivation to stop binge eating was, as I just mentioned, not wanting to graduate and enter a new stage of my life as a binge eater. But, I was really helped through the first few weeks of trying to break the habit by two other motivations: The first was that I was thinking of joining the military at the time (and am actually still pondering this), and I kept telling myself “The lighter I am, the faster I’ll run at the physical exam.” My other motivation actually came from someone else’s blog post: A 50-something year old woman happened to comment on a post about how she had been a yo-yo dieter for the last 30 years. It hit me at that moment that if I didn’t put my foot down and stop binge eating, I could be that woman. I could be that person who avoids social events because they are constantly on a diet and spends their whole life obsessing over food. And I didn’t want to be that person—I wanted to be someone who, you know, actually enjoyed my life and wasn’t constantly worrying about my weight.

c) Make a pro and con list when you feel like bingeing. Alright, the frenzy is on you, IT IS HERE. What do you do? Personally, I trained myself to make a pro and con list relating to binge eating. Usually, my thought process went like this:

“OK, what are the pros to binge eating right now?”

“I’ll feel better for a little bit. Also food is tasty.”

“Anything else?”

“… No.”

“OK, what are the cons?”

“I’ll be disappointed with myself. I’ll feel terrible tomorrow. Excessive quantities of food are expensive. I’ll gain weight.”

“Then you shouldn’t do it, should you?”

“No.”

“OK, then.”

And that was that. Once you realize how irrational it is to binge eat, it becomes easier to get through the moment.

d) Distract your mind. OK, that list thing didn’t work. But, guess what? I found that if I could just get my mind off of it for about five minutes, the feeling would usually pass. So, what did I do?

Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video is about five minutes. Turn it on. Rock out.

Buy a coloring book so that when the frenzy strikes, you can color. No, really. I bought (or, my mom bought for me, because she is awesome) a coloring book entitled “Danger from the Deep.” It has pictures of Batman, and I found that when I took a crayon to that sonofabitch, I became so focused/lost in thought it was easy to get through those five minutes. Not in an area where you can color/at work/in a store? Bring your music player to the store/work and when you’re in a munchy-mood, take a “bathroom break” with your mp3 player or crank up the music while you’re cruising the aisles; I found if I was playing tunes that conjured up sexy gyrations, etc., I didn’t really want to overeat.

e) Distract your mouth. OK, you are still in a frenzy. Start drinking—tea, water, whatever. Pop a hard candy. You know Lifesavers? They should also be called Dietsavers; I was in the grocery store one day and was 90% sure I was going to binge when I spotted the sugar-free Lifesavers (One of my few exceptions to the “Minimal artificial sweeteners” tip below, so long as I only eat them when I’m in danger of bingeing). I tore that bitch open and popped a few right there, and the taste kept my mouth busy and lessened the binge-edge. And, if you’re worried about the cashier giving you the evil eye for eating a product in the store, trust me—They could care less. And, if they do care, screw them. In fact, right now, stop giving a shit about what everyone else thinks and just start caring about what you need to do to get over binge eating, because whatever that may be is way more important than the opinion of random check-out girl/guy.

f) Always be prepared. Remember those mints I just talked about? Keep some in your kitchen cabinet/purse/desk drawer for when the binge monster rears its ugly head. Always have a bottle of water on you. Keep a protein bar with you, unless you’re like me and can’t wait to eat it when you actually need it. Keep your music with you. Have distracting YouTube videos bookmarked so you can fire up something amusing right away. Be ready.

g) Take a look at your diet. As I mentioned in this post, integrating more healthy fats into my diet made a HUGE difference in my appetite. And, according to science, if you’re constantly craving food/always feel as though you could binge eat, you’re probably missing something important in your diet. It may be fat, it may not be, but regardless it might be a good idea to tally up the protein, iron, fat, fiber, etc. that you get on a normal eating day; you may be surprised to find you’re lacking an element in your diet that could easily be integrated into it.

h) Minimal artificial sweeteners. For a while, I’ve wondered if artificial sweeteners were wrecking havoc on my appetite. So, this time around, I pretty much cut them out altogether. Granted, I still pick up a Diet Snapple every once and awhile (because it is a tasty beverage), but I probably have a product that contains artificial sweeteners at most once a week.

i) Take a multivitamin every day. This is in line with the “take a look at your diet” idea. You may be missing out on some essential nutrients by dieting, so try and a pop a multivitamin so you are at least covering some of your bases.

j) Pretend you’re someone else. OK, this is the most ridiculous of the bunch, but just hang with me for a second. When I wanted to binge, I would sometimes think, “This is not behavior befitting a Naval Officer!” (’cause, you know, the military thing). And, the thing is, binge eating isn’t behavior becoming of anyone. So, the next time you’re thinking about bingeing, think about what future you/your trainer/someone else you think is rad or healthy would do.

k) Think about what you really want to chomp. Whenever I had a ravenous appetite, I would think, “OK, self, you can have one thing—what do you want?” If I couldn’t pinpoint one thing that I reallyyyyy wanted, I knew I was just looking to eat copious amounts of food. If I could name something, though, and I legitimately, seriously craved it, then I chomped it. Chances are, if you give yourself a break every once and a while, you’ll be less likely to binge in the future. BUT, I always made sure I only chomped that one thing, because Naval Officer-me would practice restraint like a dignified lady who eats normally.

l) White knuckle it—you’re forming a good habit. OK, you’re in the store, and you see all the treats you want to buy, but you can avoid a binge by just making ONE GOOD DECISION to not buy the chomps. The same goes when you’re at home and want to plow through cupboards. And, here’s the thing: Every time you make that one good decision, or every time you start to binge but put the breaks on, you’re forming a good habit. Basically, you’re building a “Good Choice Muscle,” as I like to call it. Every time you make a good decision, making good decisions in the future will come more easily to you, and the more good decisions you make and the longer you go without bingeing, the less you’ll want to go back to square one. Is it hard sometimes to make a good decision and outlast the frenzy? Yes, but just grit your teeth and bear it—If not eating is the worst experience you’ll ever have in your life, consider yourself lucky.

m) Integrate some yoga-time into your schedule. Yoga practitioners are more likely to practice mindful eating, too. Neat, no? And, it’s certainly proved true for me.

n) Know thyself, and stop keeping that junk food in your house. My hairdresser is stick thin, and it’s not because she doesn’t love sweets or hates food; in fact, she told me that she can’t keep packs of Hershey bars in her home, because she’ll eat them all. Bottom line: Non-binge eaters have portion control problems, too, but they just don’t keep certain trigger foods in their house.  Is that “value size” pack of candy on sale, and you know this time you won’t eat it all? YES, YES YOU WILL, STOP FOOLING YOURSELF. SERIOUSLY. I know if I buy a bag of Dove chocolate, I’ll eat the whole goddamn thing, so, guess what? I buy a single serving bar, instead. And, 90% of the time you can buy your favorite foods in single-serve portions. And, just because you can’t exercise portion control doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you human. Recognize that, learn from it, and put down the gallons of ice cream that are buy one, get one free, because if ice cream is your trigger food, you’re just putting yourself unnecessarily in a lair of temptation.

o) Don’t be afraid of hunger. One of the big things I see when I look at dieting tips is “Don’t let yourself get too hungry!”, which is, in fact, a good idea. But, I also think it has made people afraid of hunger when they don’t need to be. “HOLY GOD,” they think, “WHAT IF I GET HUNGRY AND I CAN’T EAT/DON’T HAVE ENOUGH CALORIES?! AHHH ANXIETY/AHHH FEAR OF FAILURE BINGE BINGE BINGE.” Whoah. Chillax. Think about the worst case scenario: OK, you get hungry. So what? The human body can go quite a while without food before it gives out. If you get hungry, you’re not going to starve to death. Hunger is not an emergency (unless you’ve been hungry for a week and you really are going to starve to death); it is uncomfortable, but you can tolerate a headache/being tired, right? Then you’re going to be OK if you become hungry. And if you’re out of calories for the day and you’re hungry, then have an apple/carrot—those 50 calories are only going to amount to 1/70 of a pound at the end of the day. Not hungry enough for an apple? Then chances are you just have an appetite and need to discract yourself.

p) Stay off the scale for a bit. I used to weigh myself every day. And, guess what? It made me bat-shit anxious. But, SCIENCE IS RIGHT: YOUR WEIGHT FLUCTUATES. Sometimes, on a Wednesday, I’ll be three pounds heavier than I will be on Friday. So, if you’re dieting, weigh yourself once a week, at most; otherwise, if you’re anything like me, the number will just make you crazy-anxious and you’ll try to remedy that anxiety through binge eating.

q) Brush your teeth. OK, this one is also pretty ridiculous. But, you know how you finish a meal sometimes, and you feel even “hungrier” after you’ve eaten than you did before having done so? Brush your teeth—it kind of works along the same lines as the mint-popping deal. Regardless, I can’t tell you how many times it kept me from having my meal turn into an afternoon snackfest.

Phew. Wall of text. I think that’s it, though. If you have any questions/want me to elaborate on anything, don’t hesitate to ask, and I hope this is helpful to someone, somewhere.

Grammar, Getting What You Want and Anita Diamant: A Story About Asking for Things and Being Mildly Insane

I’ve never really considered myself a person who gets “star struck”; to me, celebrities are just those stuck-up kids from my high school’s drama department, except now their arrogance is kind of justified by the fact that they have careers. Authors, however, are a different story.

“OMG … OMG ANITA DIAMANT IS COMING TO MY SCHOOL AH MY GAAAAAWD”

Yes … Anita Diamant, the author of my favorite novel (The Red Tent, a.k.a. “The Little Book That Could”) was coming to my school to speak about her newest work. Maybe she would even sign my copies of the book! This was going to be dreamy.

Then, my social anxiety kicked in and I started thinking about actually asking her for her autograph. What am I supposed to do, just waltz up to her and impose myself on her time? What if my school had a rule against asking authors to sign books? Oh, my God, I was going to be expelled from school. What would Anita Diamant think? She would probably never visit Brandeis again after that stupid girl (i.e., me) had the gall to ask her to sign not one, but two books. How dare I! This was terrible! So, I wrote an e-mail to the professor moderating the event regarding whether it would be alright to ask her for her signature. He said it was fine, and also that it would be “flattering.” I wasn’t convinced; an ex-boyfriend and I had had a class with this professor together several years ago, and the ex had been especially douche-baggish during this course—the professor probably remembered that I had associated with said ass and was trying to sabotage me, now, as revenge. I was on to him.

Regardless, on the night of the event I gathered up my multiple copies of The Red Tent for her to sign (maybe) and traveled over to the student center where the lecture was going to take place. On my way over there, however, my nerves twisted my simple hopes that she would sign my books into some kind of horrible, stalker-ish day dream:

Anita Diamant would be so impressed by my intellect, we would totally be best friends! She would love my life story so much (Apparently, at that point in time my mind was so demented that I thought my life story that was “impressive “) that she would base a character/novel on me. I bet we’ll going skiing together! I’ve never been skiing, before. This is going to be great!

So, I arrived, and I waited. Actually, “fretted” or “frothed in place” is probably a better word/phrase.

And then, she entered the room. Or, someone who I was pretty sure was her entered the room. I held up a book with her portrait and compared her face to the picture (thus already establishing myself as totally nuts), and became 90% sure that Anita Diamant had arrived.

Of course, rabid English-professors immediately descended on her, and probably some people who were her friends (“One day, one of those people will be, except I’ll arrive with her, and we’ll have had dinner right before and everyone will ask if we want any hors d’oeuvres and I’ll be all, “No, we just had dinner. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”) Slowly, a nervous inch at a time, I approached Anita Diamant and hovered, waiting to talk to her, like a creepy-ass vulture waiting to pick at a carcass or that mentally disabled hyena from “The Lion King.”

I almost bailed. “What are you doing! This isn’t a book signing event, she is socializing SIT DOWN.”

“NO! IT IS JUST A SIGNATURE ALSO HOW CAN SHE ASK ME TO GO SKIING WITH HER IF I DON’T INTRODUCE MYSELF.”

Apparently, in addition to an amazing life-story, I had something to prove.

I stood there, shadily looking over the shoulders of the people Anita Diamant was talking to. She spotted me and exclaimed, “You’re going to have me sign those right now, aren’t you!”

“I’M SORRY U R FAVORITE AUTHOR OF MY MOTHER AND MINE!”

Holy Christ, why are these words coming out of my mouth in a way that is horrible. My dreams of visiting Aspen with Anita Diamant were shattered as she looked at me as though I were the crazy person I actually am.

As she seated herself and took the pen I offered her, she asked which copy was my mine:

“THE FANCY HARDCOVER I AM GOING TO PUT IT ON A SHELF IN MY FUTURE LIBRARY.”

Obligingly, Anita Diamant signed this “fancy” copy and my mother’s edition, and I shuffled away after grinning at her like the aforementioned mildly retarded hyena. Then, I filled the time before the lecture began with shame.

However, in the aftermath of this humiliating ordeal, I realized I had learned several things from the incident that kind of balanced out having made an idiot of myself in front of Anita Diamant (except not really, I would never live this down):

1) I am horribly neurotic and should probably be institutionalized.

No, wait, I already knew that one. OK, I learned a couple of things from this:

1) If you want something, ask! It never hurts, and the worst that will happen is you’ll be told “No,” and if you hadn’t asked, you wouldn’t have gotten what you wanted, regardless.

2) Only talk to authors if you enjoy feeling stupid and would like fodder for FML.

P.S. – If people are interested in the content of the actual lecture, let me know and I will write a post about this as well.