I am a lover of horticulture, gardening and the environment. At age 8, I sent away for a package of Zinnia seeds for 10 cents and I've been hooked ever since. After 25 years of being self-employed, I retired. That only lasted 4 years and I now work in a water conservation program: I buy grass from homeowners who are willing to convert to desert landscaping and lose that thirsty green stuff. I pursue what interests me and you can blame my sister for getting me into this blogging thing.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


This is somewhat in the realm of procrastinating, my last post. Let me say from the get-go that I hate dieting. I know I need to watch my weight. I was a slim girl, it seems not too long ago. Actually it has been 47 years since I was married. The excess weight seems to creep up on you. First you have babies, you gain a little with each one. I kept playing tennis which I did since age 12. I played until 42 when I decided to go back to school to study photography. Being in the ice cream business for 25 years did nothing to help my weight problems. I love to cook and my husband loves to eat. It's a problem. I've been reading and thinking about what I need to do.

There are many choices that we hear about. Healthy tossed salads are common diet fare.Dieting is one of those things that is completely integrated into American culture. On any given day, a huge portion of the U.S. population is "on a diet" and "counting calories" in one way or another. And look at how many of the diet names that you recognize:
The Atkins Diet
The Cabbage Soup Diet
The Grapefruit Diet
The Hollywood Miracle Diet
The Rice Diet
The Scarsdale Diet
The South Beach Diet
You probably recognize many of these names because you hear them all the time!

Have you ever wondered why, for so many people (and especially for anyone older than 30 years old), weight gain seems to be a fact of life? It's because the human body is way too efficient! It just does not take that much energy to maintain the human body at rest; and when exercising, the human body is amazingly frugal when it comes to turning food into motion. At rest (for example, while sitting and watching television, the human body burns only about 12 calories per pound of body weight per day. That means that if you weigh 150 pounds, your body uses only about:
150 X 12 = 1,800 calories per day
Twelve calories per pound per day is a rough estimate -- Those 1,800 calories are used to do everything you need to stay alive:
They keep your heart beating and lungs breathing.
They keep your internal organs operating properly.
They keep your brain running.
They keep your body warm. In motion, the human body also uses energy very efficiently. For example, a person running a marathon burns only about 2,600 calories. In other words, you burn only about 100 calories per mile when you are running.

You can see just how efficient the human body is if you compare your body to a car. A typical car in the United States gets between 15 and 30 miles per gallon of gasoline. A gallon of gas contains about 31,000 calories. That means that if a human being could drink gasoline instead of eating hamburgers to take in calories, a human being could run 26 miles on about one-twelfth of a gallon of gas. In other words, a human being gets more than 300 miles per gallon! If you put a human being on a bicycle to increase the efficiency, a human being can get well over 1,000 miles per gallon!

The 1,800 calories that a typical person at rest needs per day is just not that many. For example, if you go to your neighborhood McDonald's restaurant and order the Big Xtra meal, you will get a sandwich, a large order of french fries and a large Coke®. This meal contains:
710 calories in the sandwich
540 calories in the french fries
310 calories in the drink
A meal at McDonald's can add up to almost a whole day's worth of calories.
In other words, just this one meal provides 1,560 calories you need during a day. If you get an M&M® McFlurry™ with it for dessert, you'll get 630 more calories, so you are already consuming almost 2,200 calories just at this one meal!
Similarly, if you eat 12 SnackWell's Crème Sandwich Cookies -- which, if you think about it, really is not that hard to do -- you've taken in 660 calories. That's more than one-third of the daily caloric intake.
Three cookies contain 165 calories.

The point is that, in America and most other developed countries, it is incredibly easy to find and consume calories. You can see how the number of calories coming in can easily reach 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000 per day without any effort at all. That's the problem.

The only way to lose fat is to consume fewer calories per day than your body needs. For every 3,500 calories that your body takes from its fat reserves, you lose 1 pound of body fat. You can create the deficit either by monitoring and restricting your intake of calories, or by exercising or both.

The idea behind most diets is simply to help you somehow lower the number of calories that you consume each day. That's all they do. In an effort to reduce the number calories you take in per day, here are several strategies:
  • Be conscious of every calorie you consume, and keep a daily journal.
  • Eliminate all calories that come in through drinking. In other words, drink water.
  • Eliminate white sugar. This eliminates all sorts of high-calorie foods:
    ice cream
    candy bars
  • Similarly, try eliminating all fried foods, including:
    potato chips
    cheese crisps
    french fries
    onion rings
    fried chicken
  • Try to replace high-density foods with low-density foods.
    Just about any fruit or vegetable in its natural state
    Many non-sugared breakfast cereals, like shredded wheat
    Rice cakes
    Unbuttered popcorn
    Whole-grain bread, preferably with lots of fiber
    Brown rice
  • Try wearing form-fitting clothes instead of sweats. The tight clothing acts as a subliminal reminder of what you are trying to accomplish.

Exercise is one tool you have to control your weight because exercise is a way to increase the number of calories that you burn in a day.

In the end, I think you need to make a life style change. You need an incentive to motivate you. My cousin's daughter is getting married in January in the Florida Keys. I'd like to look better so it's time to lose some weight. That would be my incentive. So I decided to try eDiets again. It's on the internet and you pay about $4 a week for their program. They offer different programs similar to Weight Watchers or Atkins. I lost 30 pounds with them about 6 years ago. Gained most of it back. You tell them about yourself, then you choose your meals once a week when you check in and post your current weight. You know what you have to shop for the week at the grocery story because they give you a shopping list. It works really well if you stick to it. Like most diets.

I've instituted a new regime in my kitchen. We weigh our portions and eat lots of fresh food. What is bad is when you eat out or go to friends for dinner. That happened to us this weekend. Oh no, I have to weigh in tomorrow morning. I'm so embarrassed, thank goodness it won't be at a meeting.

I found a great diet tip:

A great way to lose weight is to eat while you are naked and standing in front of a mirror. Restaurants will almost always throw you out before you can eat too much.


Blogger PEA said...

Great many times we eat something without even thinking how many calories it has! I've never followed any of those fad diets because people always seem to gain every pound back and then some after they get off of it. When I want to lose weight, I just cut down on my portions and don't eat after 6 p.m. As I get older, though, I find it harder and harder to lose so easily as I once did. Sigh! Good luck with your diet!!

September 25, 2006 5:43 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I hope you reach your goal by January and I'm sure you'll feel & look great at the wedding.

September 26, 2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I loved this post. SO much information and so true. It is so hard to lose weight once we have gained it.

Thank you for all the time it must have taken you to post all this information.

September 26, 2006 11:08 PM  
Blogger Franny said...

LMAO! You are so funny...I like your idea about standing at the counter naked.

It's SO HARD to lose weight, especially when you're not a teenager anymore! One day I will try too, and we can suffer together.

September 27, 2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I had great success on Jenny Craig. I think exercise is the key. I have seen that as you say, when you stick to a diet, you will drop the poundage, but I think in terms of changing the shape of your body, not possible without regular exercise.
Good luck with your program - it is rewarding to set any goal and achieve it ... and then cross it off your TO DO LIST. One procrastination less as well.

September 27, 2006 9:43 AM  
Blogger Ciardra said...

Ha! Gramma, we ought to diet together - I put on a lot of "fried rice" pounds last year and my current sport is not cardio-oriented. In fact, sailing in high wind encourages weight gain! Keep at it!

September 27, 2006 3:47 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I agree with every thing you said. All great tips/ The one thing that has not worked for me is wearing tight clothes.

Good luck on your diet.

September 28, 2006 4:23 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Without trying to be "punny" in relation to this post, I popped by to wish you and your family a meaningful Fast. Shabbat Shalom.

September 29, 2006 1:48 PM  
Blogger Alipurr said...

I agree with you, it has to be a lifestyle change. The problem is that most of us are addicted to our squishy lifestyles.

I am glad I wasn't taking a drink of my water when I read that last line, because I think I would have spewed it all over my keyboard and monitor. So funny.

Thinking about being around for my children and grand-children (someday) helps me make better choices.

September 30, 2006 1:44 AM  

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