Eating Better Forever: Update

This is called The Fifth Third Burger. It's made with nearly 4 lbs of beef, cheese chili, sour cream and FRITOS. This is not part of the eat better forever campaign.

A minor league baseball team in Michigan offers this at the concession stand. If you finish it, you get a t-shirt. That you can be buried in. This is called The Fifth Third Burger. It's made with nearly 2 lbs of beef, cheese, chili, sour cream and FRITOS. This is not part of the eat better forever campaign.

It’s been six weeks since I confessed that I needed to drop a few pounds.

And guess what?

I did.

*cue applause here*

Now, I don’t own a scale. I never have and I never will. I have a compulsive personality and I know I would obsess over my weight if I had a scale. So for the past six weeks, I didn’t keep track of the number.

I only knew where I was when I happened upon that scale at Tog’s swim meet:


February 23, 2009

Which wasn’t so bad. And it’s not about the number anyway. I just know I wasn’t liking how I felt. And my clothes were fitting way snug.

Here’s what I did not do.

I did not work out.

I am doing yoga once or twice a week. But I don’t know if that’s a real calorie burner. I do it for my mind, not my body.

Here’s what I did do.

I changed my eating habits. Drastically.

No more ice cream at night. No more Panera. No more leaving the house without breakfast and lunch in a goofy lunch tote.

(I hate traveling with food. But this was the most important factor in my eat better forever campaign. The fact is, I have to be prepared to eat well for the day. Or I will end up at the drive-thru).

The preparation starts on the weekend. I make 12 hard boiled eggs. They keep very well in the fridge. So in the morning, all I have to do is crack one and wrap it up. I’ve also discovered Costco. Which has changed my life. More on that in another post. I buy a few things in bulk that are easy to toss in a bag. Dried fruit, nuts. They have these cut-up apples already in bags that are a lifesaver. I know it’s better for the environment if I buy whole apples and cut them myself. But the reality is, I won’t do that. I will eat some apples if they’re already sliced and in my bag. Great for Tog too. (TG has a severe apple allergy so she can’t eat them. She can only eat cooked apples.)

Right now, I’m sipping on some of Omar’s finest. In my lunch tote, I’ve got a hard-boiled egg, water, a half peanut-butter and honey sandwich, a granola bar and some almonds. This is actually not a super healthy array of food. I’m sure a nutritionist would say it’s too much with the nuts. But it works for me. Keeps the hunger at bay.

Believe it or not, that will take me all the way to dinner.

I’m cooking every night now. No take out. And this is hard.

Our main staple is black beans. They’re cheap, healthy and you can do a ton of things with them. (Black bean cakes are the bomb.)

I urge you to try the easiest black bean soup ever. Had this last night.

Take two cans of black beans, drain and rinse. Reserve half of one can. Put all the rest in a blender. Add a cup and a half of vegetable broth, a cup of spicy salsa, a bunch of seasonings like salt, pepper, cumin, garam masala and blend til smooth. Put in a pot. Dump in the reserved whole beans. Add some corn if you like. Heat it up. The longer you heat it, the thicker it gets. Serve with sour cream. It is SO good. It’s perfect for a recession budget. And it is very healthy. And I promise you, it will be on your table in 15 minutes. And the next day, it will be thick enough to fold into a tortilla. MMMMM!!!

I also discovered something called quinoa. It’s a protein-rich seed that acts like rice. Except it’s not rice. You can serve it with the black beans or with anything that goes with rice:


Men’s Health calls qunioa the most nutritional food on the planet.

Get some people. Add it to your repertoire. It can be anything you want it to be. If you’re having an Italian dinner, add parmesan and a touch of butter. If you’re having Mexican, add cilantro and chili powder.

It’s super easy to prepare. And it keeps for a long time in the fridge. I make a huge amount on Sunday. And then serve it with whatever we’re having for dinner.

Now, I still have a mean sweet tooth. And I stumbled across a healthy-ish dessert that I can honestly say I like better than ice-cream. (Seriously.)

It’s Greek yogurt. I like a brand called Fage:


Listen to me people. If you like rich and creamy stuff, you will LOVE greek yogurt. It’s super thick. Low fat. Low calories. (Make sure to get the 2% kind. The full fat version is crazier than ice-cream.) You throw some honey on it, a few slices of fresh strawberries and a spoonful of granola? Oh. my. goodness. It is good.


Another thing I’ve discovered:

Take a cup of milk, (I use soy since I’m lactose intolerant). Heat it till super hot, almost boiling. Steep a black tea bag in it. Add honey. Bam! Starbucks what? Starbucks who?

Tastes just as good as my Starbucks lattes. So when I’m not at the office and I can’t get to Omar’s, I have my homemade latte and save myself a bunch of money. Or if I’m craving something sweet while I’m watching my late night Will and Grace or Frasier, I have this tea instead. Added bonus: puts me to sleep in minutes.

I’m also making a salad to eat before dinner. Trying to do this every night. This is tough for me. I am so lazy. I hate washing the greens, cutting them up. Cutting the other veggies. Blah. Blah.Blah.

But I try to force myself. Because when I eat a salad before dinner, I end up eating much less. Some days, I don’t even eat the main dish because the salad has filled me up.

I add goat cheese and walnuts to my spinach leaves. YUM.

The biggest change to my diet has been decreasing my carb intake. Del, my assistant, is the king of all diet tips. (I got a eating-disorder side eye fixed on you Del…) He told me that if I stopped eating carbs completely, my stomach would be flatter in two weeks.

I have to say, he was right. I went hard. No bread. No nothing. Very little carbs. And in two weeks, my stomach was way flatter.

But you know what? A life without biscuits is not worth living. If I can’t have cornbread with my black bean soup than I’ll just have three slices of pizza.

So I’m eating carbs. Though not going overboard.

I like where I am right now. I can zip up my jeans. Feel like I’m getting stronger. And I like that I am not using food as entertainment or comfort. At least not as much as I used to. Well, actually, I am. But I’m comforting myself with tea lattes instead of Haagen Dazs, which is an improvement.

And I’m still living. Had some birthday cake the other day. Planning to take TG and Tog out for icecream today. And I think there’s a biscuit in my future this weekend.

I took Tog to the doctor for her checkup yesterday. Nurse put her on the scale. (Poor thing is only 30 pounds. Sigh). And of course, I just had to step on the scale and look. I was disappointed. I thought I’d lost more weight. I had to remind myself that I feel better. And that’s all that matters.

Alright people, updates! What are you eating for lunch today? What are you having for dinner tonight? If you don’t know the answer to either question, that’s a problem. Are you working out? Why? Why not? Talk to me. I’m calling folks out right now. Kimberly? Did you join Bally’s? You said you would in the Comments six weeks ago. Let’s go. Update me. Kimmie, I fell in love with you when you said, Last month I decided to say out loud that I was fat. Not chubby, stocky, chunky, curby, etc, but fat. That took such courage and committment. A lot of people have referenced that quote to me in later posts. What’s going on, girl? Elise, did you take that Wii Fit out of the box? Tamar, you are an inspiration and I read your comment often. How are you doing? Thurselle? Are you and your daughter still going hard with the gluten-free pasta. I tried it and did not like it. Hanif? Still hitting that drive thru? How often? Jay? What’s the deal? Tara, what’s up with that coffee mug of ice cream and the Oreo bits?

And not just my dear readers who were brave enough to comment on that post. I want to hear from newcomers to the eat better forever campaign too. What’s going on with you?

I’d love to hear from you…


April 14, 2009

15 Responses to “Eating Better Forever: Update”

  1. Paul Cantor Says:

    Congrats on your efforts to eat better. Even if you didn’t lose the amount of weight you wanted to, it’s a step in the right direction, and if you feel better, that’s a mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned.

    Everything you mentioned in your post is relatively healthy. And truth be told, if you want to lose weight, become more fit, and just flat out feel better, those are the steps you need to take to make it happen (i.e. preparing your own meals, planning lunch ahead, etc.).

    I’m not a licensed nutritionist or even a trainer (yet), but I can speak from experience as someone who has lost a substantial amount of weight in the past year (56lbs in 3 months, 70+ total) Changing your diet is the first thing you must do to become the new you. You may think, oh hey I could stand to lose a few pounds. You might be right, and you may actually be able to shed those pounds off. But behavior is habitual. So if you want to keep those pounds off (and keep losing weight), you must continue to trudge ahead and make an even better effort to be healthy. This includes eating right, but also includes exercise. Plus the yoga you’re already doing. It’s not impossible to lose weight without exercise, but just 30 minutes of cardio a day will kick your whole weight loss situation into another gear. If you feel better now, you will feel even better after a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood. When that becomes boring, hey maybe you start jogging it. And when jogging is boring, now you’re running it. Or maybe you do some aerobics in the house (exercise TV on demand has a bunch of good programs that are easy to do).

    You can read about my weight loss journey here:

    I went from being a fat rollie pollie to… well… I can’t be the judge of what I am now, that’d be pretty vain. And it’s just diet and exercise. Nothing else. No supplements. No protein shakes. Not even a vitamin. Nothing. Just me+diet+exercise. Sometimes that exercise can be as simple as walking, other times its as crazy as running up a bunch of steep hills. It’s whatever, as long as you keep your body moving daily (which is tough when you’re a creator, who has to sit around and basically “create”). Plus get this: I eat whatever I want now! I ate a whole pint of ice cream at 1am last night lol.

    If you want any help with some diet or simple workout suggestios, or just need motivation or whatever, you can email me: I’m like the rap diet guru now, got all these folks on diets behind the scenes (lol but true story).

    Congrats again. You’ll get there.

  2. Imani Dawson Says:

    I inherited two things from my father: a head full of kinky curly spirals and the metabolism of a baby elephant. I don’t have a single aunt on his side under 250. Seriously. Last year, I hurt both my ankles and gained 60 pounds. So in February, I took an unflinching look in the mirror and started cutting back and exercising hard. I’m in the gym 6 days a week. Eating only fruits and vegetables. It’s Spartan, but it’s what I gotta do. I’m down thirty pounds and committed to sticking it out for the long haul. I’ll probably never be able to eat whatever, but I will look damn good in my jeans.

  3. tmpringl Says:

    I gave up Oreos for Lent and I am proud to say that I might have kicked my Oreos and ice cream habit. (Although I do plan to pick some up today. But no ice cream. Just Oreos and milk. That’s okay, right? LOL)

    To cope with my Oreo-deprivation, I started drinking a boatload of water during the day. Then at night when I’m craving something sweet, guess what? I’ll drink a glass of watered-down juice. (Most juice has too much sugar anyway.) I’ll water down some Hawaiian Punch and it will – magically! – satisfy my sweet tooth. For a little while at least. That’s when I know I need to hurry up and go to bed.

  4. Caila K Says:

    Was thinking of doing my own “weight” post today to get back on track, after being called out last night (by my own sister!) for falling off. That’s awesome that you’ve done all that in six weeks. The scale may not show it, but a lot of poundage/bloatage is packed in 5-7 lbs-so its no wonder you’re feeling and ur clothes are looking better.

    And you’re so right-if you don’t have a meal plan lined up way in advance, you’re screwed. Today, protein and salads each meal, lots of water, vitamins. No gym because I need a nap in between work and party:( But it will commence (NO MORE GAMES ) on Monday!

  5. serenakim Says:

    Ugh. You’ve caught me at a particularly bloated moment. I’m the biggest member of my family of 100 pounders, so I might be testing the genetic boundaries.

    I love what you wrote about the beans. I thought I was the only one surviving on legumes. There’s a Cuban restaurant called Versailles in L.A. with the yummiest black beans. I wish I could replicate that recipe, because mine never taste as good. But they do taste pretty good. My vices: eating extra large portions of healthy food; eating whatever’s left on my daughter’s plate… and my husband’s plate… eating because I don’t want to waste. I really wish I didn’t do that.

  6. Yolonda Says:

    OK, I have to say that I am doing well. I had a ten pound weight loss and over six inches lost. I have another goal for April so I will check back in four weeks.

    Glad that you changed your eating habits & keep up the good work.

  7. Mamajanna Says:

    Good for you Li! You know poundage is a family trait for us. Your mom is my idol. She’s been committed for a long time. I’m on a pretty steady (most times) regime. I’ve got two conflicting issues – anemia (not enough red meat and B-12) and high cholesterol (too much fat and red meat). When I cut back on the meat, my cholesteral came way down, but my anemia was off the charts. So I take monthly B-12 shots (ugh) and I’ve added a little beef to my diet. I’m working out 3-4 days a week, including weight training, but not including tennis which I do every waking hour when I’m not working! I have a trainer, a student who is majoring in Exercise Science and Physical Therapy and she comes up with some pretty creative workouts. But my secret is – drum roll – fiber! Erin and I eat a Kashi cereal every morning that we call colon-blow. With fresh strawberries and blueberries, it almost tastes like Cheerios. I check the fiber content of everything I put in my mouth, trying to get up to 30 grams per day. Yeah, the bathroom has become a good friend!

    On Sundays I make lots of veggies and legumes (cabbage, collards, turnips, green beans, lima beans, etc.) and that’s what I eat for lunch, every day. Cuts down on lunch $$$, tastes good (greens are my favorite food), and with a small piece of home made corn bread (made with low fat milk) and a small piece of smoked turkey, that’s a meal! For dinner I usually have a bowl of real Cheerios. The other secrets – second drum roll – lots of fruit and water. I don’t like carrying food around either, but I’ve got a really nice thermal lunch bag and I keep it stocked with, water, yogurt, a jar of reduced fat peanut butter (another favorite food), salt-free crackers and fruit and I take it everywhere I go, including to conferences and seminars. I’ve even gotten some of my colleagues to do the same thing. We will win the war on obesity!

  8. Aliya S. King Says:

    @everyone: thank you so much for chiming in. Serena, you know I know about eating after the kid. I have to stop myself from catching Tog’s goldfish before she throws ’em and just eat ’em myself. I find myself often saying, wait. Do I really want this? Why am I about to put this in my mouth. If the answer is, ’cause I had a bad day and I just want it, then that’s fine. I’ll eat it. But I want to know *why* I’m eating stuff. Yolanda and Tara, great updates! (Ain’t nothing wrong with oreos). Imani! Down 30! You go girl. And honestly? i don’t think *anyone* can eat whatever. Not forever anyway.

    and Paul: your comment gets printed and posted on my fridge. so much good info here. I’m so thankful you posted. So thankful.

  9. Aliya S. King Says:

    @mamajanna: I am proud of YOU. Yes, your sister is no joke. She puts me to shame! She’s in the gym every day at school at six AM!! I struggle with vegetables. hate cabbage, collards, turnips…you should have saw my face as I was reading that part of your post. Blech! Ha. All I can manage is spinach salad. And yes, fruit and water is my friend. Sigh.

  10. Tanisha Says:

    My sweet tooth struggle continues! This week I have been devouring Jelly Belly jelly beans like the company is about to shut down and I’ll never taste another in life. I’ve slacked on swimming for no reason at all. Last week I said I would get back on track but I didnt want to miss out on my Grandma’s homecooking on Easter. This Sunday I have no excuse. Back to swimming, I’ll shop on Sunday for fruit, veggies, and BEANS (thanks for incl. recipes!) and report back to HQ next time you post about this again. Don’t QUIT folks! As Diddy loves to say over and over again throughout the Twitterverse ” Lets Go!”

  11. Tnikki Says:

    I’m not in this to lose weight at all, just to tone up and feel better… i struggle with a serious sweet tooth, sometimes eating out of boredom and then days when i either don’t eat at all or only eat carbs because I’m at work for 12 hours. Uggh… I haven’t gotten my diet on track yet but I must tell everyone that I encounter that the Wii Fit is an awesome “workout buddy” for those of us (myself first) that don’t really enjoy working out but know that we should… and it’s so much fun! It’s very motivating because it tracks your weight and your BMI (body mass index), allows you to set goals and has a variety of exercises to choose from (yoga, strength training, aerobics, balance games…). Highly recommended! p.s. I’m going to work on changing my diet soon, going to take work but I know it will be worth it.

  12. jay1 Says:

    first, congrats. second, i have to cosign the “wii fit” ive had it for a while now, it may be the best invention of the last 5 years. finally, i would destroy that burger.

  13. Jovi Says:

    Congrats on your weight loss.

    Everyday is still a struggle for me but WW is helping. I get excited about eating but then get mad at myself if I eat too much. I try to plan ahead but need to do it at home instead of walking the grocery aisles trying to find something. Ususally I leave with nothing because I can’t decide in seconds what I want to eat. I know planning is the KEY but when will I learn.

    I LOVE black beans and will try your idea, along with the latte, greek yogurt and quinoa.

    Purchased kale to replicate your kale chips that you mentioned in a previous post but my oven went bad. Just got a new one today so will try it.

    Need to find that balance of wanting to eat and needing to eat. If I see it and it looks good, I get excited about what it may taste like. If I don’t try it, the little friend in my head keeps telling me ‘It taste good’ until it overpowers me and go for it.

  14. dj fuzzylogic Says:

    I hear you on the late night eating, but how do you get into the habit of NOT eating late at night, especially for busy folks who end up working late? What’s a healthy alternative for a late night snack if there has to be one? How do you go for the nuts and yogurt when you know that the bag of frozen seasoned curly french fries would make you feel so much better (and worse later)? Help!

    My gf and I are notorious for eating poorly. Being grad students with little to no budget for anything, food ends up many times being the most exciting thing in our lives and the most therapeutic. And as much as we try to wean ourselves off carbs, we’re Asian and can’t help but eat noodles and rice!!! Maybe if Quinoa tasted more like rice… But anyway, it’s a confluence of on-going things contributing to my gut expansion, but i blame my on-going bouts with eating on the recent “foodies craze” where its become even more hip to know and have tried all the new good places to eat! Why is it that almost every cable channel now has an ever expanding line-up of food shows — whether its cooking shows, travelling to different countries to try stuff, or eating locally. It’s impossible to avoid!

  15. Aliya S. King Says:

    @djfuzzylogic: the key is to NOT have the frozen seasoned curly in the house! You gotta get rid of it and load the house with cheap good eats. I’m sitting here eating salted edamame beans. Don’t give me that bunk about being a grad student. You can eat cheap good food. You have to train yourself to let go of the bad stuff. It’s hard hard hard. But you can do it! And what’s wrong wth noodles and rice? I think you can keep eating that! But at least try the quinoa. It can be…kinda rice-like.

    I hear you on food being therapeutic and exciting. I really do. But you know and I know that you can’t live to eat. We have to eat to live.

    You have to find some inner reserve and re-train your body to appreciate fruit smoothies, homemade granola bars, edamame…

    on that note. You GOTTA try homemade granola bars. I just made a batch. They really hit the sweet-tooth spot. Fo real.

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