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Posts Tagged ‘life change’

9:14 am - Posted by Gregg

As promised, I am sharing the recipe for the salad pictured with the Steak a la Gregg recipe I posted last week. For that steak recipe, click here.

This side salad is tasty, hearty and a real crowd pleaser. What’s more, it’s so healthy that you don’t have to avoid it when on a diet or another type of healthy eating program. But at the same time, because it tastes so good, you don’t have to “Doctor it up” for guests who might not be on a diet.

Imagine: You and your guests eating and enjoying the same food. What a concept!

Ingredients:

4 Cobs of Corn

1 Avocado (Large, ripe, but firm – not mushy)

2 Pints Grape Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

Preparation:

• Remove corn kernels from cob with sharp knife, and then place freshly cut kernels in bowl.

• Rinse grape tomatoes, cut into halves, add all to bowl with the corn kernels.

• Peel avocado, cut into small chunks, add to bowl with corn and tomatoes.

• Add 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar. Pepper to taste. Toss together and serve immediately.

Serves: Approximately 6

This also makes a great dish to bring to any party. I promise, it will be a big hit. Double the recipe and make it shortly before you leave. Do not add olive oil, Balsamic vinegar or Pepper until just before serving.

Looking for the steak recipe? click here.

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9:25 am - Posted by Gregg

Does anyone know if there’s a 12-step program for breakfast cereal addicts? If so, I’ll have to consider attending a meeting. Although I’m not sure I’d ever achieve even a 1-day chip. Because when it comes to breakfast cereal, I’ve got a problem.

Back in the day, when I was tipping the scales at 450+-pounds, I would go through a box of cereal in 2-3 days. My “trick” for accomplishing such a feat was to nibble as much cereal as I was pouring into the bowl. Had I bothered to check the suggested serving size, I would have seen that I was eating for 4. Of course, my 60-inch waist sort of made that clear already. Needless to say, I wasn’t paying attention.

To this day, I crave and love breakfast cereal. To the point of obsession. Because of this, there have been times that I’ve considered cutting it out of my diet altogether. But with a bunch of healthy cereal options available today along with the fact that cereal is a fast, convenient and delicious way to have breakfast (one of the most important meals of the day – whether on or off a diet), cereal is something I wanted to learn to live with.

But even when preparing cereal today (at 175-pounds), I still feel the urge to pour cereal into the bowl while also having a ‘cereal appetizer’ while standing at the counter. If I didn’t regulate myself, I could easily go through a third of a box of cereal or more. That’s why I never trust myself to pour cereal freely. Instead, I pour it into a measuring cup before I pour it into my breakfast bowl and add my sliced banana. And for what it’s worth, I measure the 2% milk I use, as well.

This might come as a surprise to some of you reading this. Most people assume that because I’ve kept my 250 pounds of excess weight off for over a decade, that I’ve got this weight thing beat. That’s true in some respects. But part of what keeps the excess weight off is knowing that I’ll never really have it beat and that I can never let my guard down. My daily food intake is something I’m always thinking about, planning for and paying attention to. Not in a mentally unhealthy way, but in a efficient way. Or weigh, as the case may be.

Whenever I reveal to fellow dieters that I must still pay attention to and even sometimes measure my food portions, they often register disappointment – as if they thought that once you take the weight off, you magically never have to think about dieting again. But in truth, this ‘food and health consciousness’ must become a part of ourselves that we never leave behind (even during those times when we decide it’s okay to have ice cream – or whatever – as a treat).

This need to ‘stay on top of what and how much I eat’ is reiterated almost daily for me – usually when I’m preparing breakfast and pouring breakfast cereal. I know that I can’t be trusted. So even though I’ve been “thin” for years and happily fit into my skinny jeans, I still get the measuring cup out and measure the exact amount of cereal necessary for a healthy and low calorie breakfast. It could be argued that, by now, I should know what a ‘cup’ holds. But when it comes to cereal and other ‘tempting foods,’ I know that my mind’s version of a cup full and real life’s version of a cup full are two very different things.

In other words: When it comes to cereal, the measuring cup is my friend.

But none of this has to be bad news. No matter what your most tempting foods are, you can still have them – in moderation and in healthy portions. And with tools like measuring cups, we can ‘eat like a thin person’ and not overdo it to the point of triggering a binge, stuffing ourselves to the point of discomfort or making our skinny clothes feel too tight.

What are your tempting foods? Do you still allow yourself to have them even if on some sort of weight loss program? Or do you try and avoid the foods for the time being? I’d love to hear from you on this topic. We can even discuss over a bowl of cereal. Assuming you’ve got a measuring cup I can borrow.

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October 10, 2011

Where’s your joy?

9:37 am - Posted by Gregg

The other evening I was quickly walking through my home office when I was suddenly startled by a loud squeak. I looked down to see that I’d just stepped on one of what seems like hundreds of toys that are strewn throughout my home. I try to keep these toys picked up so they remain contained in one of two toy baskets, but most are constantly in use and, therefore, often waiting to surprise me with a squeak attack when I’m hurrying from one room to another.

Looking at the toys, you might conclude that I had a toddler (or two). I do have a wee one that plays with all the toys. And he is two years old. But he’s covered in fur, weighs 7 pounds and is named Latte – an adorable little Morkie (if I do say so myself). And he is truly one of the biggest joys of my life.

To say Latte is spoiled rotten would be an understatement, although he really is one of the sweetest, happiest little guys you could ever hope to meet. And boy, does he love to play with toys. So despite my mimicking the evil Berger-Meister-Meister-Berger and often proclaiming “There will be no more toys!,” there inevitably are more toys – whether received as gifts or bought by this “Daddy” who can’t resist his “Kid.” Thus, there are toys all over my home – usually in various states of play.

So the other evening, when I stepped on a toy and realized I was standing in a virtual minefield of toys, I didn’t get irritated. Instead, I realized that all of these toys that were seemingly making my otherwise well organized home look messy were symbols of joy for me. Representing joy embodied in a 7-pound pooch full of unconditional love… Joy embodied in toys that the said pooch plays joyfully with… Joy embodied in a squeaky toy reminding me to slow down for a second and smell the roses – or count the toys, in any case.

Here’s where I must confess that I didn’t always find joy in everyday objects. Back in the day, when I weighed in excess of 450 pounds, I was constantly looking to food to provide my joy in life. And at the time, I was sure that food was providing just that – joy.

Looking back, I can see now that the massive amount of unhealthy food I was eating was actually doing just the opposite of providing joy. I’d be so miserable after a binge and in such mental and physical pain, that as soon as I had room in my stomach, I would once again seek comfort from food.

This “Food for Joy Syndrome” continued for years and years – until I finally broke the cycle by realizing I had to find other sources of joy to use in place of the food. Imagine my surprise when I realized that food had never really been providing comfort or joy in the first place but, instead, had been keeping me from it.

Living in California, I’m surrounded by self-help gurus who constantly remind us that there is joy in every minute. I used to guffaw at such “nutty-crunchy” theories. But these days, surrounded by toys and other “small” blessings, I realize that there really is joy to be found in whichever direction you look – as long as you’re not looking in the direction of the refrigerator.

I’m not saying food can’t bring us joy on occasion. But food really is more delicious (and potentially more full of joy) when eaten in balance, in moderation and in the right portions. Otherwise, the food isn’t providing joy as much as it’s providing a numbing effect. And that can cut us off from many of life’s other – and very real – joys (including smaller sized clothes, a healthier heart, more self confidence and a less stressful social life).

By breaking ourselves free from the cycle of equating our only joy with food, we free ourselves – not only to meet our weight loss or health-oriented goals, but also to really appreciate everything around us. Whether it’s a lick on the face from a puppy, a favorite TV show, a call from an old friend or a beautiful sunrise, there can be joy in every minute if we set out to acknowledge said joys.

And in times that we’re rushing around, too busy to count our blessings, we can hope for a squeaky dog toy or some kind of other reminder to bring us back into the moment and help us realign ourselves with what’s really important in our lives.

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9:29 am - Posted by Gregg

Some days are tougher than others.

Sure, I’m committed to healthy eating – and for two main reasons. First, to stay, well, healthy. Second, to keep the 250 pounds of excess weight (that I got rid of) from ever creeping back on. Because I was overweight for a large part of my life, eating healthy foods in healthy portions is something I find I always must think about. I liken it to riding a bicycle. The minute I stop peddling, I fall down, skin my knees and potentially gain 250 pounds.

This all amounts to a whole heck of a lot of self-regulation. And there are many rewards for doing so: Wearing a pair of jeans without being in total misery until I disrobe… Not accidentally realizing that I’m using my stomach as a makeshift shelf to rest my hands or other objects on (yes, I’ve done it)… Not being out of breath just from talking on the phone… And more.

But even with all of these great rewards, there are days I resent what’s required of me to stay fit and healthy. And on certain days, the targets of this resentment are green beans.

Yes. You read that right. Green beans.

I target green beans in particular because they have become a staple of my healthy eating regimen. A typical dinner for me consists of a medium-sized chicken thigh, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and steamed green beans. And most times when I have this meal, I enjoy it greatly. Afterwards I’m satisfied and full – but never stuffed or in pain from eating too much. And I know it’s these ‘stricter meals’ that allow for ‘treat meals’ when special occasions or big time cravings call for it. It’s all about balance after all.

Still, there are times that green beans really piss me off. I resent having to clean them, steam them and having to sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar over them before sitting down to my typical Gregg dinner. I wonder to myself, ‘Why can’t I be having pizza instead? Or maybe a pile of mashed potatoes smothered in butter?’

There are occasions during which I’m convinced that green beans are out to get me. I see them, all bunched together (a gang, if you will) – smugly mocking me from the safety of the plate, as if they’re saying, “You have no choice but to eat us.”

Of course, the joke is on them – mainly because I remind myself that I do have a choice. It’s absolutely my choice to have the green beans. Or mashed potatoes. Or an ice cream sundae or a… Well, you get the idea. I can eat anything I want for dinner.

It’s at this point that I must think about what I really want. ‘Really’ being the key word.

Sure, I could forego green beans all together. I could replace them with another healthy vegetable that I can steam and enjoy (on most days) without added salt, butter or other substances that would make the vegetables less healthy. The fact is, green beans provide an affordable and healthy meal staple for me. And by eating them, I get all the benefits of looking good and feeling great. Isn’t that worth a little resentment from time to time?

As dieters, we often think we’re being denied certain things in life. And for most of us, those ‘things’ are food related. But here’s where we can all benefit from a shift in thinking. It’s not about what we’re being denied, but what we get in return for the choices we make: Smaller waistlines. Healthier heart rates. Clothes that fit. And knowing we look good when we walk into a room. Isn’t that worth the occasional harassment from a gang of spiteful green beans? I think so. And I’ll bet you do, too.

So next time you feel mocked by your healthy food choices, put a fork in them and chew them up gleefully. In other words, remind ‘em whose boss. After all, it’s the healthy choices we make today that benefit us tomorrow.

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9:32 am - Posted by Gregg

Let me make one thing clear. I am a huge fan of actress Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly, Bridesmaids, etc.). Yes, huge. No pun intended.

I have been a fan of Ms. McCarthy’s since seeing a short film, God, she appeared in over a decade ago. So it was with great respect and admiration that I watched her recent Emmy win. She was the epitome of class and grace as she accepted the acting award from her peers in September of this year.

Cut to her appearance this past weekend on Saturday Night Live, on which she pissed all of that grace away. I had been initially very excited to see her host, wondering what characters she might portray and how the show would showcase her talents. Sadly, Ms McCarthy (and the show) missed the mark.

From her first appearance as a fat bumpkin to her opening monologue, during which the audience was encouraged to laugh at the overweight actress announcing that her true passion has always been dance, the so-called jokes were all size related. The dance sequence continued to make a joke of Ms. McCarthy, given that she never actually started to dance, as if her girth prevented her from doing so (or so the “joke” would lead us to believe). Thus, throughout the number, she was simply in constant ‘warm up’ mode.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTqN6az9WXY

I thought the very backward fat jokes might stop there. But they continued throughout most of the 90-minute program – from the overweight office belle who wanted to have sex with her thin coworker to an overzealous product tester that loved salad dressing and downed what seemed like gallons of ranch dressing to prove it.

These tiresome skits weren’t just mean spirited, they were also repetitive. And as an actress who has recently earned her more-than-deserved share of clout in the entertainment industry, I would have expected Ms. McCarthy to take a stand against performing what was essentially the same fat joke over and over again.

Would it have been so wrong for an equal amount of the show’s skits to not have anything to do with girth or an over-hungry attitude?

After all, Ms. McCarthy is a highly accomplished performer (she’s even a former member of the acclaimed improv group The Groundlings). Thus, there was a real missed opportunity here. Not only did she allow the SNL writers to waste her talents, but she allowed them to mock them – as if the only reason she’s famous is because she’s big and funny. In that order.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for laughing at ourselves (and myself, for that matter). As readers of my blog know, I’ll be the first to be lighthearted about my past adventures as a fat man. Good humor can be just that (good!) – even when occasionally aimed at a certain demographic. But when one group of people (be they fat or otherwise) is portrayed to be one big stereotype and not much else, it’s time for someone to step in and suggest a different path toward humor.

I am a big fan of Mike and Molly, the sitcom (along with the movie Bridesmaids) responsible for Ms. McCarthy’s sudden mass appeal. Sure – there are fat jokes from time to time on Mike and Molly. But all of the characters (fat or not so fat) are multi dimensional with unique qualities all their own. Heck, the characters Mike and Molly even attend Overeaters Anonymous meetings, during which they learn to just stop eating so much. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

So why couldn’t Ms. McCarthy insist on some of this kind of scope while appearing on SNL?

When a certain group is made the target of endless jokes, that not only says “It’s okay” for society to be prejudiced against the group, but it also encourages the kind of low self-esteem (amidst people who affiliate with the group) that can shut people down (mentally), encourage depression and even convince them to give up on their goals (including the goal of getting healthier). Under a constant barrage of fat jokes from an early age, I suffered from this kind of low self-esteem for years and, as a result, found myself weighing over 450-pounds when I graduated from college. Low self-esteem is one of the very things that keeps us fat – not to mention fat headed.

It’s time we stepped away from the stereotypes (including the kind seen on this most recent episode of SNL) and start rounding out obese characters so that we’re building people up instead of tearing them down. But if someone as talented and seemingly compassionate as Ms. McCarthy isn’t going to lead the charge against this kind of barrage of hurtful humor, then who will?

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