Lame Adventure 443: Test Time

Last month I had an annual checkup. I was wondering if my doctor might notice my fifteen-pound weight loss. She did:

My Doctor: You’ve lost seventeen pounds from a year ago!

Me (thinking): I was seventeen pounds heavier last year? That’s like packing a terrier!

My Doctor: This is terrific. For someone your age, it’s not an easy thing to do. What made you do it?

Me (thinking): Feeling like crap and looking like crap.

Me (saying): I thought things were going in the wrong direction.

I didn’t mention that my gastroenterologist had read me the riot act about my weight, prompting me to invest in a spin bike that I strenuously ride four times a week for forty minutes a session. In addition, I eat significantly healthier and do something highly un-American: practice portion control. I steer clear of processed foods. I am no longer on eating terms with cookies, chips and bread.

On my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

Coincidentally on my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

All year I have been predominantly eating organic: mountains of whole grain, acres of leafy greens and fields of fresh fruit. Gone are the days when I’d slap together a sandwich in twenty seconds and toss a banana in my satchel for lunch at The Grind. Now I spend over an hour preparing cous cous, sautéing tofu and steaming vegetables for a low calorie, nutritious mid-day meal.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

As much as I hate cooking (and the subsequent clean-up), I hate feeling like flab on feet even more. Home cooking fresh ingredients is not only a cheap and healthy way to eat well but it keeps the lost weight off. My formula for staying fit is simple: eat less, eat well and exercise.

But now it is holiday season, a.k.a. eating season. My self-control will be sorely tested. I am not going to be eating less. That pimp, Trader Joe, has brought back one of my favorite seasonal indulgences: Brandy Beans.

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

I bought those the second I saw them — and brought them straight to The Grind. Sharing them with The Boss and my colleague, Godsend, allows me to eat them, but not inhaled in a single sitting, something that could happen if I were alone with them in my sanctum sanctorum.

I will be spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my long-time friend, Martini Max. With a name like that, he’s not the type who guzzles sarsaparilla. Max and I spend Thanksgiving Eve at his man-cave and Thanksgiving Day at his sister’s house. She makes a superb turkey basted in bourbon and butter. I am not much of a turkey fan. I think it’s rather bland, but turkey basted in bourbon and butter is quite tasty. If tradition prevails, Max and I will stuff ourselves royally on alcoholic beverages and appetizers. One year we ate so many deviled eggs, by the time dinner was served, they had expanded so exponentially they completely filled our intestinal cavities. I can say with authority that I know exactly what it feels like to be a hen. This coming Wednesday and Thursday are two days that I intend to thoroughly indulge, but I will practice restraint around those eggs.

In the weeks ahead, there will be more occasions when I will ditch my diet in favor of holiday conviviality, but I will still be riding my spin bike regularly, possibly closer to six times a week at five hour stretches. Come Christmas, my spin bike will remain in New York, cooling off, and I will be with my family. My sister, Dovima, who loathes kale, knocks herself out preparing food. She has some great holiday dining traditions.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

On Christmas Eve, she bakes a spiral cut ham on the bone. She uses the bone to make a terrific split pea soup. Christmas morning, she prepares pancakes and bacon. Christmas dinner, we have Chicken Marsala, a dish she hit on several years ago that everyone likes. There’s usually a night when she serves fresh cracked crab with incredible San Francisco sourdough bread. She also always has a stash of Brandy Beans on site as well as other candy and a bottle of port we quaff together. When I visit, Dovima gets great wine. My niece, Sweet Pea, bakes her brains out. Her specialty: cookies.

This is one test I am destined to fail, but I don’t mind. This is why I time seeing my doctor before holiday season. The masochism of my healthy habits will resume after the New Year.

New Year's Day breakfast.

New Year’s Day breakfast.


52 responses to “Lame Adventure 443: Test Time

  1. Congrats on the health improvements — I assume the doc noticed that as well as the weight loss! For almost all of us it takes conscious decisions every single day, and throughout each day, to make those changes. It’s a lot easier to NOT use the elliptical. But, at my last annual exam the doc asked if my joints hurt when I exercise. “No!” I said. “They hurt when I DON’T exercise.” So I exercise… Over the last several months I’ve added an abs/core routine I do more days than not. I finish with some push-ups. I LOVE how muscular my arms have become.

    But yeah, holidays and vacations and the like provide special challenges for eating. I still haven’t dropped the couple of pounds put on in September when we were on vacation. Still, if I’m only 2-5 pounds away from the weight I want, I’m in pretty good shape. Now, discipline for the coming weeks…


    • What she said…

      The portion control is a biggie. It lets a person try many other foods. Why stuff yourself on only a few things. Stuff yourself with a lot of tasty things.

      Congrats on the -17 lbs and being more fit. Keep it up. Have a good time with your friends and family.


      • Yes, Jim, portion control can make a HUGE difference. Without it, I could easily inhale an entire box of cookies while watching something mind-numbing on TV. But I seldom have cookies in my sanctum sanctorum anymore. Too dangerous! But, I have hit the brakes on eating every meal like a starving hog. Thanks for the well wishes! I wish you and Melanie a Happy Turkey Day.


    • I admire women who can do push-ups, Melanie, and your arms sound GREAT! Mine are puny, almost stick-like, but I know that’s better than having a loose heap of flab hanging off of them. As easy as it is to not ride the spin bike, I’ve put too much energy and effort into getting myself back in shape to let myself pork out again. We seem to share similar outlooks about maintaining our levels of fitness, but I suspect that you could snap me like a twig. Real glad that you’re a friend.


  2. Brilliant getting your annual visit before the holiday season. For whatever reason, I’m in January … (duh!) … but maybe I’ll delay it this year! Congrats on the results from your effort … and culinary treats for the holiday.


  3. Nice job. I could use a little restraint these days as my metabolism died without any notice and the remains have settled on my backside. I guess I have already made my New Year’s resolution? Good thing I’m not a sucker for deviled eggs. Unfortunately, my husband is …


  4. As I scrolled down through the initial sentences, my peripheral vision caught the picture of the beer can. I thought it was Jelly-Belly flavored beer. Thankfully, I was disabused of that notion…
    What are Brandy Beans?


  5. Colon Blow? Maybe that’s the 21st Century version of Shredded Wheat! Great post, V. Sadly, our new Trader Joe’s doesn’t open until February, so I’ll have to wait until next year to try the Brandy Beans. Definitely a good decision to share the joy at work.

    And yes, I find that if I allow extra time to work out during the holidays, I’m much more likely to keep the weight within normal limits. It’s a lot easier to lose 5 pounds than 15!


  6. I gained 10 pounds a year ago after the second surgery. I have a theory that my body reacted to the Tamoxifen and the fact that it was no longer in hyperdrive fighting cancer. I’ve lost some of it and plan to step up the exercise to get into shape for ski season. Last Saturday, I hit the slopes for the first time and it kicked my butt!
    Eat, drink and be merry! I also have a theory that your body won’t notice an occasional indulgence if you go back to your old routine afterward.
    Happy Thanksgiving!


    • I agree with you, Susie. I think that my body will forgive a few holiday indulgences before announcing “Enough!” in the return of flab. I’d like to avoid that. You went through a lot with your illness, so it doesn’t surprise me that some weight gain came with it. I knew you’d be raring to hit the slopes at the sign of the first flake and I’m not referring to encountering my look-alike.


  7. wow! i am so proud of you! You’re an inspiration too.
    However, I can’t do tofu. I’ve tried, tried and tried again, but no. But quinoa is my savior.
    Yeah you!


    • Awwwwwwwwww, buddy, thanks! I like quinoa, too, Jules, but the few times I tried cooking it, I screwed something up so the name changed to just “Waa, this is lousy!”

      Tofu is not very high in flavor. It’s like a pillow that absorbs the favors around it. I saute mine in about a tablespoon of olive oi.


  8. Congrata on the weight loss! 😀


  9. Brandy beans? Where have these been all my life? Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with lots of brandy beans. I plan to indulge in my favorite: pecan pie.

    BTW: Your lunch looks delicious.


    • Jackie, I much prefer this lunch to a salty deli ham sandwich, that’s for sure.

      Head over to Trader Joe’s for a fast fix of Brandy Beans before the supply runs out! You won’t be sorry. Just remember to pop the entire bean into your mouth. Many, many years ago I had a friend who didn’t tell that snippet of advice. I bit into it and got it all over a cashmere sweater. The dry cleaning was happy.


  10. Ham? Ick. I do not eat the filthy swine, not by myself, not in a line. I fear no scorn, censure or rebuke; the flesh of pigs just tastes like puke.

    Congrats on losing 17 pounds. Seventeen pounds would be a significant drop for me, so I can only imagine what percentage of your overall weight that represents (and don’t worry; I’m not asking).

    I struggle with my weight. As an adult, I’ve got it to some degree “under control,” in that I’m not appreciably fatter than the average American (yeah, I’m aiming low). But it’s all relative. For example, in Mississippi, my physique could be considered Beckham-like. But it IS hard for me, and it’s always nice when I hear of someone losing weight by doing it the right way (diet & exercise).

    I imagine someone named Martini Max is a guaranteed good time.

    Colon Blow! Did you know you’d have to eat 47,365 bowls of YOUR cereal just to equal the fiber in a single bowl of Colon Blow?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That poem is so Seussian, Smak! I love it! I don’t even mind that it knocks a foodstuff I eat once a year and actually like

      Most of the time during the week I eat vegetarian or vegan. Practically eliminating red meat from my diet has also contributed to my weight loss. Pounding the suds less cant hurt, either. I do like a few frosty cold ones. I suspect that in places where the obesity epidemic runs rampant, both you and me could be mistaken for retired supermodels, just one of us is very tall and the other, short.

      Keeping company with Martini Max is a guaranteed good time. He’s quite an entertaining chap.

      Yes, I recall that Colon Blow redefines the meaning of rocket fuel. I love that commercial with Phil Hartman!


  11. I applaud your drive and dedication to lose that much weight and to, overall, change your lifestyle. Your holidays sound delightful.


    • My gastroenterologist was very blunt about my problem with his two word demand: “Lose weight.” When I’d look at myself sideways, it was pretty scary. I looked like I might have had a baby kangaroo lurking deep in my mid-section. Not very pretty.


  12. I’m like you, V. I eat healthy, exercise and do all the right things I suppose because I do enjoy feeling better than feeling heavier. I lost a few pounds myself this year and it feels great. I will indulge for the holidays but I don’t think it will be OVERLY pigging out–that just doesn’t feel good to me anymore.

    Hubby and I can’t make it home to all holidays, usually one if we’re lucky. If we’re by ourselves, we go all out — steak and lobster and that bread sounds awesome. We thought about tiny tarts this year — so we could have a little sliver of this and that — pecan, pumpkin, chocolate, you know without a bunch of cakes or pies hanging around. Whole Foods has tiny little pastries that I think will work beautifully.

    Safe travels and have a wonderful, beautiful safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

    P.S. (Seriously, if you’re going to go overboard, ditch the eggs and go with the wine/cocktails and/or sweets.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • For awhile (a few years actually), I lost my healthy eating edge, Brig. During this period my ancient exercise bike died. So I learned first-hand that the middle age body turns to jelly much faster these days. Eating a sane diet and exercising regularly has roused my snoring metabolism from its slumber. As long as I can keep this fitness routine going, I’m going to keep doing it. I’m not much of a tiny pastry fan, but I do enjoy a cupcake every now and then, and I enjoy them more without feeling guilty. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, too!


  13. Your discipline, both dietary and ex. bike-riding, is impressive. I admit I can’t keep up with that for more than a week. I’m sure you’ll get back to your routine with no problem even after the holidays, since you’ve done it before. Nice recipe suggestions.


    • I suppose one of the benefits of living in a place not much bigger than an ink blot, Arti, is that I can never be home without seeing that spin bike in my field of vision. When I’m not riding it it does serve as a clothes rack, but at least I know that’s not it’s sole purpose. The foodstuffs during holiday season are usually very good.


  14. Beer flavored Jelly Beans. Uh, I like beer, but no thanks. Haven’t heard of Brandy Beans. This time of year is tough when it comes to portion control. There’s a Christmas market that’s a ten minute walk from me at the moment. They serve wonderful sausages and mulled wine. I need to limit my visits. We went on Saturday and shared a sausage so that’s a good start.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving!


  15. Congrats on the weight loss and healthier lifestyle. Good luck with the holiday challenge. Can I borrow some of your will-power? Cruise ships are worse than holidays when it comes to an overabundance of food!


    • And you always highlight the foodstuffs that look tastiest on your site! The hardest part about getting back in shape was the beginning when I was certain I was courting a heart attack while cycling. I adapted to the diet fairly quickly.


  16. Brava! I’ve never heard of Brandy Beans or bourbon basting but I think I want to try both.

    I remember Colon Blow and Darnitol!

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    • If you have a Trader Joe’s near Casa de la Maggie, hightail over and get a box of those Brandy Beans. I think you’ll understand why they rate the Lame Adventures Seal of Approval.

      I love that Colon Blow commercial!

      Happy Thanksgiving back at you!


  17. I’m so proud of you for eating healthy and burning the tires off your spin bike. I admire your self discipline and portion control, both of which continually avoid me like as if I have leprosy.

    I’m relatively the same size as last year, which is fashionable for a gray-haired man with a beard this time of year. I was getting a hair cut last week when the stylist quipped, “You must be heading into your busy season.” Naturally, I laughed so she could watch my belly jiggle like a bowl of Jello.

    Last year, I almost got arrested for soliciting after shouting “Ho, Ho, Ho,” at the mall. Even reindeer are making jokes about my weight and taking wagers on how many of them it would take to get me off the ground in a sleigh–minus any toys. Sometimes they push my “Jolly button” a little too far. I may stock up on Colon Blow and give ’em a Christmas to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. well done you! saw my doc yesterday and he was very pleased with my progress, too. happy thanksgiving and cheers! 😉 xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We all go through this, every last one of us. The thing to do? Don’t abuse yourself over it, it isn’t worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

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