Ideal Protein Diet - Week 4 - Zaftig
This is Helen, my zaftig mannequin
Serving Size vs Super Size
Early one morning of my forth week I put on my navy blue slacks and discover that I was not losing weight but I was getting shorter. I had always heard I would get shorter as I got older but I imaged that it would be more gradual. As I walked through the house I tried to come to grips with the length of my slacks. I wondered if I needed to wear heals to get through the day and then realized that the reason my pants were too long was because I had less butt holding them up. Not only less butt but less stomach and maybe even less thigh. This is a concrete sign that my body is getting smaller.
I have other happy consequences to report this week. The first one is a reduction in pain. Not only do my joints hurt less but I’ve noticed a marked reduction in soft tissue pain in my arms. My legs are still sore to the touch but I can now imagine that may calm down as well. I feel a clear headedness that I have forgotten about through the years of unhappy stress created by pain and perhaps even my carbohydrate addiction. I continue to sleep more soundly. My energy level has increased and I was able to accomplish a task before work one morning. Grant it, it was a day when I began work at 11:00 but four weeks ago those late mornings were spent in bed afraid to start my day because of the intense pain. I actually got up early and got the oil changed in my car. This may sound like a simple thing that anyone could do but it was a huge accomplishment for me.
This week, on the last day when I got weighed in by Dr. Rick, I bought a scale. My plan all along was to wait until I lost the weight so I would not be tempted to weigh myself every day. I have gotten discouraged by diets when I incessantly weighed myself because weight fluctuates between morning and evening depending on what is in your stomach and what is getting ready to go… including water. The reason I was compelled to buy a scale was that I had an unhappy shock when I was weighed in. The scale showed that I had gained four pounds. Once I got over the initial shock Dr. Rick and I realized that the scale had been set incorrectly last week. This means that I did not lose an unbelievable 18 pounds in three weeks (almost a pound every day) but a more believable three pounds per week plus a little bonus of two pounds. My four week weight loss is 14 pounds. This amount makes so much more sense. Three pounds per week is a monumental loss when you consider my lack of activity, my almost non-existent metabolism, and the fact I am going through menopause. People have already commented on how much better I look and my boss Dan who introduced me to Dr. Rick told me it looks like I dropped 30 pounds. I feel that way as well. My clothes fit better and I’m moving like my body is finally remembering how to use my hip joints.
Dr. Rick and I discussed a good quality home scale so I can prepare myself for the weekly weigh in. This way I would not be dependent on the scale in his alternate office. I decided to stop at Target on the way home to pick one up. When I got to Target the parking lot was jammed. I’m not sure where everyone gets the money to shop around here but apparently, I am the only one on a budget. I had to park at the end of the parking lot. I got out of my car and noticed a big red Target shopping cart nearby. My first instinct was to grab the cart and use it as a walker like I’ve been doing for months now. It has been the only way I could get into the store and shop without crippling pain. I took stock of my body and decided to try to get into the store without the cart. I was conscious of my posture and pulled my upper body up and out of my pelvic area. I walked with as much of a natural gait as I dared and made it into the store! I’m sure I was limping slightly but I made it! I then grabbed the cart like normal people do and got through the store feeling like I just won my class in some athletic competition. This will be about baby steps for me until I am ready to resume my prior active lifestyle.
Body image has always been a problem for me. I have a naturally curvy body that tends to be heavier at the hips than the upper torso. When I lose weight I have the image of a heavier Paula in my head all the time. Even when I go shopping for clothes I pick out things that are way too big for me. The same is true when I gain weight. I see myself as the formerly thinner version of Paula and it takes a few glimpses of myself when I don’t expect it; for instance, in the glass doors of a department store. When I look in the mirror I see what I want to. I adjust my image to what I want to see and never see the real thing. However, when I don’t expect to see myself and a heavy woman is approaching the double glass doors of a store and I realize it’s ME…that’s another story. The other rude awakening is when you see your image in a photograph. I have not allowed full body photographs of myself without another human to partially hide behind for quite some time. Sure, you can hide behind a friend and the notion that the camera adds 15 pounds but then why does your friend not look like a Macy’s Day Parade balloon too? 15 pounds is not 60 pounds…you can only add that with a fun house mirror.
With that same distorted body image in mind I purchased my first mannequin in South Florida from a guy who closed up a clothing store and was looking to get rid of the old fixtures. I needed the mannequin for a little side business. I have been selling vintage clothing on eBay for years to supplement my income. When we got to the shed on the owner’s property I looked over a selection of models. I decided to buy the headless one that was completely white lacquer. We took her apart and tossed her in the back of the Honda Fit. When we got back to the house we set her up and I proceeded to dress her. I took a cute cotton blouse from the 1950’s and started to slip it on her when I realized the mannequin was too large. I had purchased a plus size mannequin without realizing it because she looked so much slimmer than me! Vintage clothing is usually small since women in the 1950’s were not exposed to all this junk food we have on the market now. If you think about it, Lucy Riccardo was probably a modern size 4 and Ethel Mertz was no more than a 10. Everyone looked at Ethel as plump. Yikes…my plus size mannequin was bigger than Ethel Mertz and WAY smaller than many women…including me. This should have been a wakeup call but it was not. I still saw myself as a thinner version of Paula but maybe a little bit toward zaftig.
I love the word zaftig. It is of Yiddish origin and literally means juicy or succulent. When you describe a woman as zaftig it means “having a pleasantly plump figure, full-bodied with good proportion.” You might think of a reclining nude by Rubins or Titian. That is how I liked to imagine I looked. However, that is how my mannequin looked…I was, unfortunately simply fat. My hourglass figure had turned into a Grandfather Clock figure. Under no circumstances would I even let Rubins, even if he came back from the dead specifically to paint me nude, show the world how I looked reclining on anything without my clothing. I won’t even wear shorts in public.
One of the things I started to do to replace the pleasure of eating is taking bubble baths. I went to one of those discount stores and purchased a high end bubble bath with coconut oil and honey…two things I’m not allowed to eat but I am allowed to soak in. I’m sure you will not find this ironic…I like body lotions and fragrances that smell like food. Vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, citrus…these appeal to me more than flowery scents. I wonder if anyone has done a study on obesity and fragrance preference. As I sat in the bathtub luxuriating in the hot sudsy water that smelled like a tropical cocktail I looked down at my thighs. Wow…how the heck is all this fat going to wash down the drain? I tried to imagine what the fat looked like under my skin and was seized by the thought that, unlike what I had always imagined, the fat is not simply laying on top of the muscle but marbled through it kind of like what you see on a chicken thigh. It’s a darned good thing we can’t see inside our bodies it would surely gross us all out.
This thought led me to another highly unscientific conclusion to my question in the previous week about how the body knows where to take the fat from. Could it be as simple as where the muscle needs nourishment? If I follow that thought, my face is getting thinner because I use the muscles in it to talk…what most might consider a great deal. I also use those muscles for chewing…which I do less of these days, facial expressions, and at the top of the face incased in the skull…thinking. My arms are getting thinner because I use those for typing, lifting, personal hygiene, and wildly gesticulating when I talk (back to face fat). However, my legs hardly get any movement at all because that is where 85% of my pain lives now. So, if this highly unscientific theory is to be employed for results, I need to start moving and stretching my lower body to get my body to choose the leg fat. Please don’t report me to the American Medical Association for spreading false information. This is just an idea that has sprung from the head of a body that needs to even out its fat storage.
My clothes are starting to fit differently. Some things are actually loose. Others fit where they did not before. When I went on eBay to look at my listings I also took a look at what I had been watching as a consumer. There were two jackets I liked that I put on the watch list before beginning the Space Food Diet. Both jackets were XL. I realized that right now the XL might be a little big and that soon an L would fit me loosely. I have jackets in my closet that I had to wear open because the bottom button would not close. Those jackets now button and will be too big when this process is over. Not only do I daydream about the clothes I will be able to wear but they are also showing up in my dreams. I may even be able to wear hats again. You may be confused thinking that my head got too fat for hats…although this gives me an interesting visual it is not the case. I read a Cathy comic one time where she went to the store to buy a hat. She looked at herself in the mirror and she must have been feeling good about herself that day because she bought the hat and while leaving the store she said, “Hats are lingerie for the head.” I always remembered that and know that when you wear a hat it draws attention to you. I have not been willing to draw attention to myself by a flamboyant hat, or a colorful coat, or a brightly patterned skirt for quite some time. Also, my puffy lumpy face did not need to be framed with a hat…it needed to be camouflaged by hair. My cheek bones are coming back. My profile shows my sculpted jaw line. Pretty soon my face will look familiar to me again. I can hardly wait. When that happens…I think I’ll buy a hat.
Now that movement is less painful I have been thinking about the things I liked to do before I was incapacitated. When I began my current job I sat next to an unusual woman during training. I say unusual because she is just about my age but she has managed to hold onto her childlike enthusiasm. The first thing Vicky said to me while we were waiting for training to begin and listening to music was, “I like to dance in my head.” I laughed out loud because I was doing the same thing but I wouldn’t have ever mentioned it to a stranger. Ever since my first injury when I had to stop dancing for real I learned about dancing in my head. I can close my eyes and go crazy…in fact, I dance way better in my head that I ever did in real life. I felt a strong kinship to Vicky because she shared that highly personal glimpse into her thought process that I would have never known if she followed strict adult protocol about keeping her thoughts to herself. I responded enthusiastically, “Me too!” And from that day on we were like two kids in a playground who approached each other with the simple question. “Do you want to play with me?”
Lately, I’ve been thinking that I will be able to dance again. I am one of those people who cannot stand still while music is playing. I marvel at people who sit completely still while listening to live music. I even want to dance when I am listening to the Philharmonic or a simple string quartet. Now there is a chance that I can dance with my body again. I must say, the experience of dancing in my head has given me a new understanding of what life can be like for people who lose the use of their bodies or a sense organ. The mind is capable of recreating and creating new information. That’s why Beethoven was able to write Ode to Joy when he was deaf…he heard it in his head. I have a new respect and awe for the mind’s ability to compensate. This even makes me postulate about people who are in a coma or completely paralyzed. They may still have a quality of life that people who are not impacted may not be able to understand.
I’ve always been interested in what people have in their carts at the grocery store. I think you can find out a lot about a person by what they purchase. I make value judgments based on their purchases. Sometimes it’s obvious. You see a very large person with their overweight children lumbering through the aisles and their cart is filled with junk food, sugary sodas, processed foods, and a noticeable lack of fruits and vegetables. Aha! This person has horrible eating habits and poor nutrition. Then you see a slim couple. They have on Adidas shirts and good athletic footwear. Their carts are filled with produce, lean meats, yogurt and whole grains. These two scenarios are no brainers…you could almost predict what these people would buy by looking at them critically. But what about the thin people with the loads of diet Pepsi, Kraft dinner, fried chicken, and cookies? Are they eating this food or are they just feeding it to their families because they don’t like them and they want to get rid of them? No, these are unhealthy looking thin people. They are people who look sallow and undernourished but thin. Why are they not getting fat? How is there body processing this food differently than mine? I am baffled.
I go from my shopping cart analysis to imagining portion size. I remember the size of a portion from the Weight Watcher visuals. A serving of meat equals 6 ounces and is the size of a deck of cards. A serving of potatoes is the size of a tennis ball. A serving of cheese is the size of your thumb. This is so distorted from what you see in most restaurants and what I saw on the dinner table as a child. No one has a sense of what a true serving should be and we just keep eating more and more and more based on what we see being served. My mother used to make fun of the people next door who used to plan out portion sizes for family meals. She used to say that they were cheap and must be starving to death. It never occurred to me that these were the people who were practicing portion control and not overeating. I grew up with this image in my head and when I made meals I always cooked enough for at least twice as many people but with the true intension of feeding only those around the table.
A serving size for potatoes is one medium baked potatoes or ½ cup mashed. The notion of ½ cup of mashed potatoes is hysterical – a serving size in our house was no less than a cup. They were served as a giant blob with an indentation in the middle that acted as a reservoir for gravy. It wasn’t enough to pour the gravy over the potatoes…you needed a well from which to gorge your gravy thirst. This is how I learned how to eat. Before my father died I rebelled by not eating. I remember never having an appetite and the war of the wills that would occur each evening as he sat reading the paper and I found new and creative ways for getting rid of the food on my plate. Once my father died and it was no longer a power struggle I discovered food and used it as a sedative, a curative, and a pleasure pump.
My mother went hungry a lot as a child because she grew up during the depression. To her food was love and a chubby child was the sign of a prosperous household. My servings were never limited. If I wanted 20 cookies I could eat 20 cookies. I often remember eating a quart of ice cream at one sitting. I was given carte blanche as a child. I was drinking hot cocoa made with half and half. She was not educated and didn’t understand nutrition past knowing I had to have a portion of meat, a vegetable, and some kind of carb before eating as much crap as I wanted.
I remember going to the Lovejoy neighborhood movies and stopping at Techmeyer's, a store dedicated to railroad workers that also sold discounted candy bars, six for a quarter. My friend Mary Lou and I would buy six candy bars each and eat them while we sat and watched Hercules or Elvis Presley movies all Sunday afternoon. No one ever told us not to. We were children with no adult supervision of our eating habits…of course we opted for as much candy as possible. This kind of behavior is etched into my body memory. Honestly, if I tried to eat six candy bars today I would get sick but this is part of my body’s legacy that it needs to live down. So now when I see thin people who look healthy and mobile I no longer think they are the lucky ones who can eat whatever they want. I think they are the lucky ones who knew how to eat from a young age and carry that as their body legacy. They learned sensible eating habits.
People my age grew up with immigrant parents or those who were hungry due to the depression. Those parents taught us to eat too much based on their own hunger as a child. They over fed their children and themselves because now they possessed the luxury of enough food. Now I’m trying to relearn the whole thing. I’m trying to put myself in the mind set of small portion size and slow eating to keep me at a healthy weight. This may be the only way I could have ever come to see my food delusions…by taking a step back from food and examining all the things that got me here in the first place. Food is the matrix of our lives. It is part of celebration and everyday life. How often can we take that step back and see how we have abused it or over used the privilege of food? I am lucky that I had this opportunity and I hope I can carry this throughout my lifetime. Can my body relearn food like my brain has? Will my body be able to accept a serving of potatoes or will it spiral out of control after I’ve loosed the reigns of this diet? My brain should be leading and my body should be the servant not the master. I am hopeful.
I tried the Ideal Protein Chicken Soup (not to be confused by the Chicken Noddle Soup) and it’s one of my favorites. It smells so good that my coworkers commented. It is rich and creamy and I highly recommend it. Don’t overcook the soups…cook them for the time recommended and let them sit for a minute or two. They can get too thick and not appetizing.
I also tried the Salt and Vinegar Ridges (not to be confused with anything you’ve ever tried before in your life). These are kind of like a cracker with ridges. They are not particularly crisp or crunchy but they do feel like you’re eating carbs. The crunch was unfamiliar to my mouth but the taste was okay. I am more prone to crave sweet rather than salty so I will probably not buy these again. That is not to say that they weren’t somewhat satisfying.
I made a lean roast beef with a can of sugar free diced tomatoes in the crock pot. I added some scallions, salt, and pepper. I also used my usual spice mix of about half a teaspoon each of rosemary, sage, and thyme. I cooked it in the crock pot all night. It was kind of dry but not bad with the liquid from the crock pot. When I ate it without the liquid I sliced it thin and used horseradish and that was very satisfying.
I made a nice crisp kind of sweet and sour cabbage by using the 2 tsps. of olive oil in a stick free frying pan. I added half a small head of green cabbage sliced and a few scallions. I added about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and half a package of powdered stevia. I sautéed this until it was crisp tender and served it with some very low fat ham. Delicious!