Roast Chicken and Hummus Wraps and Mandarin Milkshakes

Hummus+wrapStill had some of that garlicky hummus from the weekend, whole wheat tortillas and fresh parsley; took some frozen shredded chicken from the freezer and had something made before I had time to nibble through enough to count as dinner. The motivation behind the mandarin milkshakes was mainly to reclaim a large chunk of prime real estate in my freezer that has been occupied for far too long. Besides, I had to put that vanilla ice cream out of its misery (if just to shut it up); likewise the last of the mandarin oranges that were getting too soft to be appealing. (Kind of like me.) I didn’t partake, but whizzed about 5 peeled mandarins with a few scoops of vanilla for Mike, Ben and W as they came back from playing at the park and ice skating.

I buttoned the middle button of my pea coat today – comfortably, without fear of someone losing an eye by the sheer force of it popping off in the wrong direction. And I sat down in the car without even having to undo it, nor feeling particularly sausagelike. It’s funny the little things that make the most impact. When I was at my largest, I had a recurring dream about wearing jeans with front pockets; I fantasized about putting keys and change in my pockets, and when I lost all that weight, my biggest thrill was doing just that. And – get this – squatting. When the Oprah show called the first time (another story – and no I wasn’t on) they asked what I most wanted to do that I couldn’t before – fly in an airplane? Go bungee jumping? All I could think of was squatting down to pick things up and put them in my pockets. I don’t think that makes for particularly exciting TV.

I hope I’m not coming across as too preachy on the subject of weight loss; I don’t profess to know all there is to know on the subject, but only speak from my own experience – almost a lifetime of diet programs (the first time I joined Weight Watchers, with my Mom, I was around 10) before figuring out what worked for me. I have a hard time watching other people put their trust in unlikely methodologies, having been down that road so many times and knowing far too well how defeating it can be when things don’t work out the way you hoped.

Just remember this: the success rate for diet programs is 5%. And yet it’s a $50 billion industry in North America! If any other product on the market failed 95% of the time, how many repeat customers would it have? And yet the industry continues to thrive because when plans and products don’t work we don’t blame them, or lose faith in unrealistic promises; we blame ourselves. Our own shortcomings. If it didn’t work, we were just not doing it right. (Have you noticed the small print beside success stories for places like Jenny Craig? *results not typical. And have you noticed that Queen Latifah has quietly disappeared from her role as JC spokesperson since she signed on to endorse them a year ago?)

I have to look at my life as a whole, not broken down into stints of dieting or not dieting. Diets by nature are temporary, meaning that when it comes to an end the weight comes back, usually with interest. So here’s the thing: whatever you do to lose weight you have to be willing/able to continue to do indefinitely in order to keep it off. And you’re not going to give up cake for all eternity, are you?

This is how it is: most of the time I’m going to eat as well as I can, and some of the time I’m going to eat things that aren’t as good for me, or that might require an unreasonable number of hours on the elliptical trainer to burn off, and whatever it is is going to taste fantastic and I’m going to enjoy it because life is too short not to, and nothing ruins something delicious like a hefty serving of guilt. It’s what you do most of the time that matters. My mom once likened it to a freighter changing direction: you can’t undo all the good you’ve done by eating a lobster salad sandwich on a croissant, drinking some wine and taking a few dips in the chocolate fountain when you’re spending a weekend at the Chateau.

I decided a long time ago that I can’t approach life from a standpoint of damage control – worrying about how I’m going to “get through” parties and Christmas and holidays – all the events that strung together make for a happy life. But that’s what happens. You worry about how you’re going to handle it, plan to sip on tomato juice or nibble crudites or order the fish, then give in to the moment and eat a bigger piece of cake than you meant to or order a hot fudge sundae, then feel guilty for “cheating” or “ruining your diet” and have another piece of cake and finish the platter of butter tarts because you cheated anyway, and spend the rest of the day/weekend angry with yourself for it. Repeat. Promise yourself you’ll start tomorrow. Order pizza and make a batch of cookie dough to eat raw because you’re starting tomorrow so you might as well get it out of your system tonight.

(Or maybe that was just me.)


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20 comments on “Roast Chicken and Hummus Wraps and Mandarin Milkshakes

  1. Heidi
    January 12, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Right on, sister!

  2. Carol
    January 13, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I agree wholeheartedly with your perspective on dieting and living your life. I stopped feeling guilty a while ago about having something I want when I want it. As long as I make healthy choices 80-90% of the time (most weeks anyway – depends whats going on), I’m happy. Sure, I’m a little rounder than I should be but I’m safe and healthy, I have a good life, friends and family who care about me, and the occasional piece of sugar pie – what more could you ask for?

  3. Rose
    January 13, 2009 at 5:41 am

    Hi Julie,

    It takes years of dieting to know what you know now. I too have successfully lost weight and it all started about 15 years ago when a friend and I decided to never do a ‘set’ diet again. I spent the next years eating what I wanted without guilt to get to a point where I didn’t focus or obsess about any particular food. When I started to lose weight about seven years ago it was knowing it’s simple math….calories in/calories burned. I don’t deny myself anything but know what I need to do to lose the weight. I’ve lost sixty pounds total. Half of that I did on my own and half with WW which is not a prescribed eating plan but rather a guide to help with tracking and motivation etc. Whenever I hear someone talking about losing weight and ‘being bad’ or ‘never having that (particular food) again’ or denying lots of foods because of the set diet they’re on (Atkins, nutrisystem etc.) I know they’re doomed to failure since, as you said, you’ve got to be able to live your life and once the diet is over it’ll come back. How many people do you know who have ballooned up again after the Atkins craze a few years ago?

    Just reading your post, it’s obvious you know what to do and you’ll get to where you want to be. The way I got to your dinner blog was through your weight loss story on ‘the weigh we were’! WOW!

    thanks, Julie

  4. Lana
    January 13, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Well done, Julie.

  5. Amanda
    January 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Best wishes for a healthier you! And as I recently saw on Oprah, “Every day is a fresh start”. Or something like that.

  6. Erica B.
    January 13, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Bravo! Well said Julie, I couldn’t agree more 🙂

  7. Kathy
    January 13, 2009 at 7:57 am

    I had a friend who lost over 50 lbs by going vegetarian and super-ultra-low fat (as in more like no fat), a regimen she continues to this day with the exception that she now eats chicken breasts and salmon. It’s insane how obsessed she is! She eats whole cloves to freshen her breath after a meal because they have no calories compared to the oh what 10 calories a breath mint has! She received a bread machine for Christmas last year and immediately set to work experimenting with eliminating the fat from the bread machine recipes (I have a bread machine – most bread recipes have a whole 2 T. fat per loaf of bread). That’s not the life I want although I confess to trying things “her way” for a while to see. I was hungry all the time! And bitchy.

    I watched a W5 expose on the diet industry and a former employee at one of those weight-loss places spoke to W5 and, in their training, they are told “if they cry, they buy”. One person who joined one of those weight loss places actually gained weight eating their food, etc.!

  8. pauline
    January 13, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Julie you are so right on. Did you see Oprah last night. It was about people who have lost weight and then gained a whole lot of it back. I belive if you are not a thin person naturally and you fight all your life to loose weight yes you will loose weight but the minute you are not looking it will be back. Been there so many times. I can remember one Christmas at all the parties I was eating only vegetables or not at all as I didn’t want to start and not be able to stop, having supper before I went. Was I happy and proud of myself kinda but for what here I am again over weight. I agree with you eat right as much as you can and enjoy life.

  9. Barb
    January 13, 2009 at 9:57 am

    All so true. Quality of life has to rate in there somewhere and, of course, control is the top line. (I am very good at knowing what to do; I just don’t always do it.) Loving to cook puts variety into your diet and that is also a good thing. Bring on the recipes!

  10. Ethel
    January 13, 2009 at 11:13 am

    You are right – the simplest things are what you look for as you lose the extra padding. I am looking forward to looking down and seeing my pants laying smoothly across my belly instead of all bulgy etc. I managed however to complete 40min on my treadmill at a fairly good clip this morning. I also made steak/salad wraps for lunch so far so good. My husband is even enjoying the change in cooking style. One day at a time is all we can do – and today is looking pretty good.

  11. mmac
    January 13, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Or maybe that was just you?


    As to everything else you’ve written on this topic, this week and in the past … amen.

  12. elektra
    January 13, 2009 at 11:25 am

    i agree, too. dieting, like many things in life, is about trying.

  13. Natalie
    January 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    You are so right! I am a big fan of no scale in the house and getting weighed only at my annual Dr. appt. I have different outfits that indicate to me when I need to cut back. I can also tell by my husband’s reactions although he is too much of a gentleman to comment 🙂 (or maybe he knows he would be in a big heap of trouble if he did 🙂

  14. robyn
    January 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Queen Latifah is still on board with Jenny, but I notice with her campaign it’s all about being a “size healthy” rather than noting her actual weight loss. They sure know how to target people with key words!!

    I still think WW is the best weight loss plan out there. No products to purchase, no gimmicks, no fads, just common sense and a support group.

  15. Pierre Lamielle
    January 13, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I ain’t got time for this healthy-low-fat mumbo-jumbo… just gimme that delicious looking thing with the parsley and the chicken and whatnot!

  16. JulieVR
    January 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Yes Queen is still technically on board, but isn’t in any JC ad campaigns or even on the home page of their website – it’s all back to Valerie Bertenelli (and still *results not typical on even a 40 pound loss!). Any media attention on Queen is focused on her cholesterol points, or her friends and family who are doing it… not her actual weight loss.

  17. Manon
    January 14, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Wow Julie, I’m with you for the journey…I’m around 226 this morning.
    Since Jan 1 I started moving every day even if only for 30 min, except from last Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I had the stomach flu and couldn’t stand up most of the time, but last night I took a one hour walk in the snow, from near Ottawa Ontario….what a workout.
    Tonight I have a date with my walking buddy again.
    One step at a time Julie, we’ll get there 🙂
    Manon from Ontario

  18. Lana
    January 14, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Just for anyone out there who feels badly about themselves about their weight, consider this: my girlfriend met me for lunch today. She is a fit and healthy weight, blonde and gorgeous, and she confessed to me that while trying on new bra the other day at La Senza, she found a black hair on HER CHEST which she then had to pluck out.
    Bet you feel better now, huh?
    Hugs to all of you!

  19. Becky
    January 14, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Amen to that Julie, I’m with you 100%. I’ve tried just about everything too, and the best thing I ever did was lose the guilt and moderate, coupled with exercise. Life is now better than ever. What’s the point of getting all worked up over calories when you’re going to be miserable thinking about the numbers?

    By the way – Mandarin Shake has me a little bit excited. I have some Clementines in my fridge, and think I may give that a go.

    p.s. Addicted to Choclava now – thanks very much.

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