Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eat to Live . . . Live to Eat?

Readers of this blog likely have noticed one of my defining contradictions: I love talking, reading, thinking about, and eating food. I also love talking, reading, and thinking about weight loss. It's true. I have many, many cookbooks--54 last time I counted--and also many diet books--around 20 (I have put them away in a box, but have not been able to let go of them). I enjoy reading recipes and enjoy reading articles and books on healthy lifestyles/weight loss, especially success stories.

Here are some recent television shows that have fueled my good intentions, if not always my good choices, with regard to eating and losing weight:

1. The Biggest Loser on NBC -- I am a longtime fan of the show. I was a little disappointed in last night's finale as I had been hoping to see Mike or Tara win. I have been holding a grudge again the winner, Helen, for strong-arming her daughter into going home before the daughter was ready. It's not that I think motherhood has to be exemplified by sacrifice, but I just feel like if your poor example is one of the reasons why your child might be overweight, then maybe you owe your child the best opportunity to get fit. That said, Helen worked really hard, and I was so impressed when she ran a marathon on last week's episode. As much as Ron got on my nerves throughout the season with his scheming, I cried real tears of happiness when he finished the marathon (after walking injured for almost 14 hours). I feel genuinely sad for the contestants who struggled to continue their weight loss efforts once they left the ranch. Yes, I get caught up in the reality show, backstabbing bullshit that goes on, but that's not why I tune in. I watch season after season because it is so exciting and powerful to witness people transforming their lives.

2. I Want to Save Your Life on We -- This show features Charles Stuart Platkin, a "diet detective" who works with overweight people for a week, giving them tips on eating right and exercising. He visits again several months later to see how their lives and bodies have changed. Platkin comes across as really kind and sincere and passionate without being frighteningly intense (in manner of Jillian Michaels, though I love her). On the last episode I saw, the diet detective worked with an overweight couple who had two small children. He filled a table with some of the stuff they were mindlessly eating throughout the day--mostly a bite here and a taste there of the stuff their kids didn't finish. All of those bites and tastes (including the leftover peanut butter on a knife) added up to 462 calories. I try to watch myself in this area, but I do eat my kids' scraps--waffles, nuggets, cheerios, yo-baby--sometimes and tend to assume that eating stuff I'm not really enjoying or thinking about does not really count.

3. Cook Yourself Thin on Lifetime -- This show features three slender women who know the secrets of "cooking yourself thin" and on each episode share them with a different woman who eats fattening stuff but would like to lose a dress size or two. The slender chefs (my title, not theirs) show the woman how to make healthier versions of some of her favorite foods. They leave her with a cookbook and a basket of goodies and check back in about six weeks. Same old story (though a good one) of how you (yes you!!!) can lose the fat and calories without losing flavor. At times the slender chefs come across as a bit patronizing. I don't, for example, think it's necessary to use air quotes when employing the word caramelize. I also get a little annoyed when they use the adjectives "right" and "wrong" to describe the women's food choices. The strange tag team cooking of the slender chefs, the contrived girlfriend vibe, and the overuse of "amazing" and "unbelievable" at the six week check-up all annoy me. And yet, for all this petty complaining, I am definitely a fan of the show. I think as the series continues, the slender chefs will get more comfortable and real on camera. Bottom line is that the food looks really delicious and flavorful, and many of the recipes are intriguing. I love seeing the women at the end when they have dropped a dress size (often two) by cooking themselves thin. I even think it would be fun to form a Cook Yourself Thin club to try some of them. As an added bonus for Top Chefanatics, one of the slender chefs is Candice, who was the culinary student cheftestant whom the deliciously arrogant sommelier Stephen mocked for her heart-shaped food presentation. I always remember how much I enjoyed it when Candice gave Stephen the what's what at the reunion show.

So, there you go, a recent history of my good intentions. I'm not ashamed that I am blogging about weight loss and contemplating a snack while my hubby is at the YMCA.** I feel fortunate to have plenty of food in my pantry and fridge and, more than that, fortunate to possess an abundance of passions, interests, and good intentions.

Food for thought? Please share in the comments.

*I was tempted to use the word "obsessions" but if I were obsessed with losing weight, I would have, you know, lost more weight. For the record though, it was a long time coming, but I have lost my baby weight and am now working on the ten or so pounds I gained before becoming pregnant with Little Bit.
**After all, if I were at the YMCA, no one would be here with our kids.


LAP said...

Did you coin the word "cheftestant"? I like...made me laugh.

I've never watched any of these shows. I very well may like them but you know I don't need to become obsessed with any more programming. Case in point: tonight I was scrambling through the Bravo listings to find the rerun of the NYC Housewives Reunion show that my DVR wasn't smart enough to record last night.

I have mindlessly eaten more of Fancy's choc chip cookie bar bday cake (in one inch slivers) throughout the day than I care to visualize. I feel I've lost all sense of normal calorie consumption as I've been pregnant or nursing for the better part of six years.

mep said...

If I had a pan of cookie bars, I would be sampling inch by inch yet still holding out for "later" when I would also have a regular-size piece.

I did not coin cheftestant--just repeating a clever new word that others have used.

CaraBee said...

I haven't seen any of those shows but given my new found dedication to weight loss, I think I would be very interested in the Cooking Yourself Thin one. I'll be adding that to my dvr!

Actchy said...

One of the reasons I miss living near you, MEP, is your enthusiasm for "club"-related activites, e.g., a "Cook Yourself Thin" club. I would be all over that.

Actchy said...

Oh My Lord. I can't believe I forgot to tell you this. (A) I started watching Top Chef after you suggested it once or twice or thrice, (B) Both the husband and I became obsessed with the show and, most importantly, (C) Tom Colicchio LIVES IN OUR BUILDING. We discovered (C) via the New York Times Magazine interview he did two weeks ago.

E... said...

Actchy, you and I have never met in real life, but you may soon find yourself with another roommate, one who will camp out in your lobby hoping for a chance encounter with Tom C.
MEP, are we on the same wavelength or what? My post today is about random food interests of my own lately.

Anonymous said...

Fun post, MEP. I laughed aloud at the "what's what" line and wished I wrote it.

Good stuff.

Sara G.

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