Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Trans Fats: A hidden beauty secret?

Up until about a year ago, my grocery list read like this:

1. Cheez-Its - 1 box original, 1 white cheddar
2. Oscar Meyer baloney
3. American "cheese" individually wrapped slices
4. Velveeta Mac & Cheese
5. 2 loaves of bread (wheat, if I was on a health-kick)
6. Assorted pasta: spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine
7. Butter
8. Taster's Choice Instant Coffee (Don't judge. It's good!)

This diet served me well for my entire adulthood. I felt good, I looked fine, my jeans fit. My food life was simple, yummy, and overall quite satisfying.

But last year, after working a desk job for a bit longer than I'd anticipated, I had to admit that I'd put on a few pounds. And that's when it happened...All the warning words of dread and fear well-intentioned people have chanted at me over the years started swirling around in a threatening storm in my head: "You won't be able to eat like that forever, you know..." "Someday, you'll wish you'd made smarter choices..." "Eventually, all that salt and fat is going to catch up to you..." (And let's not forget the lady in the yoga pants who looked at my shopping cart at the grocery store and gasped, almost involuntarily, "But baloney has no life force!" )

Last year at about this time, I collapsed under the pressure, terrified that these folks--not to mention every magazine article I've read in the past decade-- might all be right. So I repented of my ways, and walked away from foods that spell cheese with a "z." I started choking down lots of chicken (the whole idea of eating bird just creeps me out, but if it's what you have to do to be healthy...). I snack on smallish handfuls of almonds. I "splurge" once a week with a small bowl of pasta & olive oil. I've been doing this for a year now. It's fine--I don't really mind it. But it's made absolutely no difference in how I look or feel.

So about a month ago, I faced the awkward truth that I must not be doing this right. All that chicken eating just isn't enough. I could hear Oprah whispering in my ear, "You need to work out more--a couple of times a week ain't gonna cut it!" So for the past month, I've been doing hard time at the gym. I run three miles (approximately two-and-a-half miles longer than I've ever run before) 3-4 times a week. I life weights. I do ab work.

And I've lost...are you ready??? One-and-one-half-pounds!!!!

Now, I like the exercise--running is great for a writer. But I'm seriously wondering if we've been sold down the river on this whole nutrition thing? What if it's all a lie? What if my body is dependent on the "z" in cheez to keep me up and going? What if I need trans fats? What if baloney is the anti-aging miracle we've all been searching for???

I think it's time to stand up to the Organic Farmers of America and say, "Bring on the baloney!"

Anybody with me?

(A note to the promotional folks at Cheez-It: if you'd like me to do a commercial, write an essay, or go on a nationwide tour to promote your product, you can reach me here).


Stephanie Kartalopoulos said...

So I have personal beliefs that it's not only the pounds dropped that matter. Can you tell if you've lost inches, built muscles, or changed your BMI? Those things, I think, matter more than the actual pounds (ie could not have lost pounds but could have built muscle, which weighs more than fat, yada yada yada...).

That said, I have lost about 25-30 pounds since January (I come from a Good Greek Family that likes its bread, feta, and olive oil. And I come from a family of sedentary people who read as if it were an Olympic sport). I haven't really seen it, but when the fab skirt I bought 2 years ago fit this morning when I tried it on for the first time in a LONG time, well, I knew that even if I have only lost a certain amount of weight, I must have definitely lost inches. Or replaced some fat with muscle. And that makes me happy.

Have you thought, also, about changing it up a bit--ie whole wheat pasta and having it more than once a week (but being a bit careful about how it's used--ie maybe include 1 portion of it in a chicken, vegetable, and pasta salad and splitting the multitude of all of that into 2 portions--then you get pasta 2 days!!!)?

I don't know. I just think there are ways to shake things up. I've worked a LOT in the last couple of months to change the way I eat (I've worked a lot since the winter, but VERY pointedly since about April/May).

In other news, my friend Heidi has a FABULOUS sports & nutrition blog: everydayathlete.wordpress.com. I more than highly recommend!!!

kristen said...

You know, it's interesting. I'm a bit like you in that whether I watch what I eat, exercise or don't, everything kind of stays the same. Five pounds here, five pounds there, up one day, down the next--nothing significant happens.

The only thing that shakes up my metabolism is the small meals, five times a day thing. Not three meals and two snacks, but literally, five small meals. I stuck to it like glue when I was pregnant and wound up gaining only 7 (no that's not a typo) pounds and weighing less when my son was born than before I got pregnant.

I kept it up for a long time--but truth be told, it's exhausting to eat that often, so I've given it up. But you should try it.

Heather Harper said...

I've lost 30 pounds since Jan with Weight Watchers while eating Cheez-Its and Toblerone.

But I have not exercised much. I wanted to make the mental shift with my eating habits first so I wouldn't get discouraged with the numbers on teh scales since muscle weighs more than fat. That said, I think I have reached the point where I'm ready to exercise.

Just don't ask me to give up my Cheez-Its.

Sarakastic said...

Cheezits are the lifeforce

L Sass said...

I think a lot has to depend, really, on what your body is used to. My mom served very little highly processed food, not for any health-conscious reasons (we had plenty of homemade baked goods available at all time), but because she found such things "gross." Now it's the the trendy thinking! Who knew?

I have no diet advice for you, however, since my strategy is the following:
* Eat a lot
* Set completely obsessive exercise goals (i.e., running a marathon)

I know that won't work forever, either, but I like it for now.

JenKneeBee said...

I'm not exactly sure when the last time I had Baloney... I've probably know instinctively that it has no life force :)

I am a huge fan of Cheez-Its though. Bring on the white cheddar!

Beck said...

I am SO fat right now. I need to lose 30 pounds and the awful thing is that I actually have a pretty excellent diet but now I also have to exercise and probably eat next to nothing, oh the pain.

Liz said...

Oh man-- I just discovered I have really high cholesterol and have been reading all about the foods I can and can't have. I've been doing the low-fat, low-cholesterol thing for about two weeks and here's the only thing I have to say: cheese, I miss you sooooooooooooooooooo much......

Anonymous said...

I think our bodies know what size they want to be. Sometimes I don't work out for an entire month and my body looks no different than it did when I hit the gym 4x a week for a month! UGH!

Amy said...

This is the best tribute to meals-gone-by that I've read in a long time!

All praise Pop Tarts!

Anissa said...

I'm all about the cheese. What can I say, I come from strong Dutch stock. ;)

Moderation is my motto. Until someone busts out the dessert tray that is.

Anonymous said...

"I think our bodies know what size they want to be" A-life, this is the gottdamn truth. One half of my family is tiny little german women, and the other half are hearty (ie fat) italian men. I'm little enough but I still carry some muscle (and thickness, I'll never be described as waif-like)

Thanks to a thyroid condition I can knock weight off pretty fast, but without constant vigilance and pretty much starving myself, I stay within the same 5 lb. range all the time.

Okay, I like eating actual butter sometimes (pass the cheeze-its)and I have little love handles, so SUE ME! I wasn't ever planning on being a swimsuit model anyway.

Kathryn Johansen said...

Just stay away from the food pyramid or you'll look like one.

Swishy said...

TOTALLY agree that your body knows what size it wants to be! At least that's what I tell myself while I eat the Cheez-Its :)

Meg said...

"All things in moderation"--good for the mind, the body, the soul, and the conscience. This includes foods rich in "Vitamin Z." :)

Patti said...

i am right behind you...i am a lover of teh frito pie. need i say more?!

Patti said...

oops...i forgot...i nominate you. please pick up your award at my blog...

ellesappelle said...

That's a hilarious story about baloney and life force!

My sister and her husband (who I am living with at the moment) are doctors, and they have a lot of opinions about food, one being that olive oil does too much good stuff for you to leave it out of your diet. :) Hooray!

LEstes65 said...

Sweetie, put away the scale and look at your clothes. You may not be losing weight because you're probably gaining muscle. But I bet you're fitting in your clothes differently. And maybe more energized?

Baloney has life force. I'm full of it. I should know. Tell yoga-pants lady to STEP OFF.

heidikins said...

When I was a little kid we would turn pieces of baloney into snowflakes by folding and then taking small, strategic bites. Unfold and behold your blizzard-worthy fleshy-flake. If that's not a prime example of life-force, I don't know what is.

Love this post, it gives me warm fuzzies (fuzzies, you'll notice, is spelled with a Z)