Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Welcome to Reality

Tentacle ala Fanari turned out to be much less satisfying than we had hoped. It is a very complex dish and we could not flambé it because the alcohol was boiling so much it would blow out the lighter every time we got near it. We will need to work on technique and research more. A work in progress.

We have returned to Vermont.

Every time we come here, the main hazard is gaining weight. We went shopping the other day and, my God! The temptations! They don’t exist like that in Madrid. We eat healthy there. It is tough to walk by the bags of chips and salsa, the ice cream bars, the massive frozen pizzas, the cans of chili, the frozen dinners, the little snacks and easy to prepare processed food that doesn’t do your body much good.

We have been on a journey lately. Our friend Lena turned Wendy onto a podcast called Inside-Out Weight Loss. It is a real psychological approach to losing weight and keeping it off, instead of a diet where you lose the weight then put more than you lost, back on, weeks later. It is about changing your mindset about food, and seeing it as fuel instead of pleasure.

This has been reinforced by watching “The Biggest Loser” which we thought we would hate, but in fact, takes the same approach IOWL takes. This show also has the added effect of making us push ourselves harder in the gym. Wendy is running longer and I am continuing to break down muscle when I might have quit before. Heart pounding? Feeling dizzy? Arms completely limp? Five more sets buddy, get to it.

Jillian – “GET UP! I’m not kidding around, GET UP!”

Jillian is one of the trainers on the show and a captivating personality and an amazing screen presence. We love her.

It’s easy to adopt the mindset that food is fuel when you start listening to your body. You stop eating when you’re full, you eat slower, and you listen to what your body needs instead of what your mind’s pleasure center wants.

We went out to dinner the other night at Two Brother’s Tavern. It is relatively basic food but with high end, quality preparation. Both of us were feeling a little ill so we wanted an appetizer, found nothing we really wanted and ordered a side of onion rings. I thought I was going to have the shepard’s pie then decided on the Philly cheese steak. Wendy had a salad. Instead of bringing the onion rings first, the waitress brought everything together. I started with one onion ring, then half my cheese steak. Wendy ate three-quarters of her salad and stopped. She had two onion rings. I had two more. I asked the waitress to box up my remaining half of the cheese steak.

Now you’re thinking? Nice eating there Wakefield, a cheese steak and onion rings?

Yes, actually, because this new mindset isn’t about denying yourself- anything. I could have eaten more rings, I could have finished my Philly. I stopped when I was satisfied. The rings were lightly battered, real onions and very good. But after three I realized my body was telling me that they were not good fuel. Anyone could have easily finished my cheese steak and plowed into the rings. So could I. Then I would have been stuffed and felt like crap and laid on the couch for four hours like a python that has swallowed a baby hippo.

Learn to listen when your body says “that’s enough.” Don’t listen to your mouth that says “I want more of those.”

Wendy has lost 18.5 pounds using this method. And unlike any other time in her life, doesn’t feel like she is on a diet and can’t go back to eating the things she wants. She’s eating them now so she doesn’t feel deprived.

I have lost zero weight but since I am working out like a fiend, I now fit into my skinniest jeans, have lost a good portion of my gut and my skinny arms are now twice the size they used to me. I’m not saying they’re huge, but they look a hell of a lot better than they did six months ago.

In sort of related news, we love food TV. Usually competition food shows. Our newest discoveries are “Chopped” and “Food Networks next cooking star” (or something like that.)

Chopped is quick, light and moderately good. Four contestants come in each week and must make an appetizer course with their mystery basket. All the mystery baskets have the same ingredients inside and they are usually things that you can’t imagine how they would go together.

Appetizer course – your basket includes:
Emu Egg
Corn Chips
Miso sauce.

WTF are they going to make with that? Person who makes the worst dish goes home.

Main Course – your basket includes:
Goat leg
Cotton Candy
Long Beans
Dried Cactus

Loser goes home.

Desert Course is the hardest because they never give them anything like dessert ingredients.

You basket includes:
A screwdriver. Go!

Best overall performance wins $10,000

Other than the fact that Judge Scott Connant is such a pissy little bitch, we like it.

The other show is the long term reality kind of live in a house with 12 other people and try to win challenges and in the end to get your own show on the Food Network.
The stupidity of the contestants is incredible.

“Today your challenge is doing a fifteen second promo for your show. Write down a fifteen second script then we’ll film it, and show it to diners at the meal you’ll be making later.

None of them appear to have practiced in front of a camera before. None of them have an idea of what they want to do for a show. None of them can deliver a line without “um” or “ah” in it.

What were you thinking when you signed up to be on this show? The prize is the greatest of any reality contest out there. Get your own show. Become a star. Get paid. Possibly become the next Martha Stewart or Anthony Bourdain.

We can’t understand why the second these people were accepted to the show they didn’t practice in front of a camera and use their friends as an audience. Why did they not time themselves cooking in front of their friend while explaining what they were doing?

I think it’s like the random contestant on “So you think you can Dance” who has no professional training and goes into the audition thinking “My mommy says I’m special so I’ll win. I have a nice personality.” Then Nigel rips them a new one and they come out crying and confused.

Welcome to reality kid.


  1. Your diet seems similar to mind in that it changes your mindset about food. Although... there are lots of differences in how its done. Yours seems a holistic approach. I'm on weight watchers. I was on it about 3 years ago and lost 15 pounds. Since then, I've moved 4 times (inlcluding a move from Pa to Az), changed jobs twice, and am taking classes part time. I'm on weight watchers but not - as in I go meetings, pay for meals with point values and such - But I've found out their formula, and I'm running with it. The key thing is that I read labels and analyze everything. I plan meals. I eat at home. I eat at home. I eat at home. Eating out, they usually give you two dinners.
    Look at the cheese steak and onion rings (and did you also get chips or fries?).
    Would you ever make such a thing at home (regardless of which continent?). Restaurants always give you too much food.

    I really like your diet though, as it changes your mindset.

    The drawback to dieting with WW, to me, is I become obsessed with food. Every time I eat something, I have to analyze what I'm eating. I like your theories and practices better in that you practice healthy living and a eating lifestyle, where as I am doing long division in my head to see if I can have pasta or carrots as part of my dinner.

    The other of the obsession is to assure I AM eating my points for the day. The other night, I had fish, broccoli and mashed potatoes - large portions of each - and still had to eat a double portion of a fatty trail mix that evening to get to my 22 points. Some days, it seems I eat too much.

    Another similarity though is that I get 35 floater points a week. I don't HAVE to use these - but can divide them up - or use them lump sum, etc. Last week, we went out to nice historic place downtown Tucson - seems like they had similar food to what you had, and I got to enjoy a bacon cheeseburger, though I opted for veggies instead of fries. Afterwards, we stopped at Coldstone for a small ice cream. Sure, I blew through my 35 bonus points that day, but I got to do it without stressing about, "How many grams of fat might be in this burger?"

    I know WW works for me. Between it, and trying to be more active, I will lose weight (am down 5 lbs already, and I only started a week ago). Though, once my goal is made - I totally plan to pursue a lifestyle similar to yours and Wendy's. I know only by embracing a lifestyle and mindset change will I keep off the weight. To keep on WW for more than 6 months would probably lead to way too much stress where I would just quit once the I met my goal.

    My Point?... Keep Sharing, Jamie. I am fascinated by your success and hope the best for you and Wendy in the future.

  2. Oh... one bit advice I might offer. When I vacation, I do in part for the FOOD. Try not to treat Vermont like a vacation, and you're eat better, I'm sure. (Although, I know when I went 'home' last, almost every meal was out with family - so maybe try to plan lots of meals at your own home, and invite friends and family over - I imagine this would work great for you two, as I know you love to entertain).

    Another thing that works for me, try shopping at a organic-like market like Sunflower, or even a Trader Joe's if you have one nearby. They don't carry all the 'name-brand' and processed foods you find in a normal grocery store, and you will find yourself filling your basket/cart with healthier foods. (Or at least this strategy works for me. When I must hit an Albertson's or Safeway, I always do so with a list which I won't deviate from).

  3. "It is relatively basic food but with high end, quality preparation."

    It's pub fare. It's a pretty bland menu and the preparation is ok, definitly better than Mr. Up's and for late BackDoria's, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it quality. It's like affordable Fire & Ice that actually has taste.

    Go up to Bristol and try the Bobcat for quality preparation. You'll spend 1.5 times as much but your head will explode from the flavor.

  4. If you're wanting a heat source to flambe someting and open flame won't work as it keeps getting snuffed, why not heat up a poker or something to red hot so that when it gets to the alcohol the heat transmitted from the poker does the work for you

  5. This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. 'Think of food as fuel', really? Whoever came up with that originally was either a monk or far more likely, chock full of self loathing and hypocrisy and hoping to inspire the same in others. If food is fuel, then why didn't you have red beans and rice?

    Because food is for fuel just as much as sex is for procreation.