Weighty Matters

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The Beef about Bread

Has everyone seen that commercial ad with Oprah as she waxes dramatic about being able to eat bread on the Weight Watchers plan?

Disclaimer: Overall, I’m annoyed at every ad that Oprah does for Weight Watchers and her great belief in the plan and program.  She owns 10% of the stock in the company and has another 3.5 million share stock option.  OF COURSE she’s going to pitch the program.  The more people who sign up, the better for the company’s profits, the better for her. That bread ad alone earned her $19.2 million on the day that it aired and she tweeted about it because her endorsement boosted the stock price by a few bucks a share.

Okay, that’s not my beef.  Oprah is a brilliant business woman and I admire her for her empire building skills.  I just wish her ads included a line sort of like, “I love this plan because I can eat bread and still lose weight, and because it’s a profitable part of my stock portfolio.”

My beef with bread is that it is addictive.  It comes in many different varieties, some of which are absolutely delicious.  Some of which are even more delicious when dipped in olive oil and herbs while others have enormous yum factor slathered with creamy butter.  Crusty outside, pillowy soft inside.  Whether enjoyed solely for its own taste merits or even more appreciated as a delivery vehicle for rich sauces and gravies, bread is the bomb.

Well, except for the fact that it has no nutritional value that I can figure.  Apparently, most of the bread that I love is a motherlode of useless carbohydrate, a harbinger of doom when it comes to glycemic index and, basically, a total waste for my waist.

I’ve now gone breadless for two and a half weeks.  I walk past dinner rolls at a buffet.  We ordered in lunch from a local restaurant and I didn’t choose my favorite sandwich, but opted for a wedge salad.  The only toast in my life is when I raise a metaphorical glass of cheer in my mind to honor my successful effort.

All in all, I really shouldn’t gripe.  Honestly, the motivational switch is solidly “on” right now and I’m following this plan with little to no struggle.  (Please God, don’t let me have just jinxed myself.)  It’s just that right now, in this moment, I so that Oprah bread ad and it made me yearn for one delicious, golden, warm piece of bread.

I’ll get over the craving and will do so without a crazy action like leaving the house to track down a yeast roll.  Instead, I will finish up with a check in the success column for the day.  Happy thought right now.   I haven’t had dessert after dinner tonight and there is a lovely piece of dark chocolate (perfectly on the plan!) waiting for me.

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Public Eye

Early American Idol winner Ruben Studdard is a contestant on the new season of Biggest Loser. For some reason, this has me thinking of other obese celebrities I’ve been aware of in the past. Shelly Winters. Roseanne Barr. Jackie Gleason. Drew Carey. John Goodman. Oprah Winfrey. Aretha Franklin. The list really is endless.

I remember when a lot of entertainers played to their weight, or at least appeared to. They were material for countless monologues by late night talk show hosts and stand up comedians. They often made fun of themselves. As an overweight person, I never understood how they could stand it. I’d cringe inside whenever someone made a fat joke about one of them or, as often happened, to them when sharing the set or stage.

It was almost worse when one of them embarked on a successful weight loss effort. Yes, they’d get great acclaim for the pounds they’d drop. I can still remember when Oprah dropped something like 60-70 pounds on the Optifast program. She arrived on stage towing a little red wagon behind her on which they’d piled the equivalent of her weight loss in actual animal fat. I think she had on a long overcoat. With pure joy, she whipped open that coat to reveal her skinny self in a black sweater and tight jeans. What a moment!

She gained it all back and I can’t help but think that it was a more emotionally miserable time for her knowing that she was under intense public scrutiny. I hate it if I think that even one person eyes what’s on my plate and could possibly be assessing or, horrors, judging the choice. I’d want to crawl into a deep cave (with electrical power, running water, a bathroom and internet access, of course, but still a cave) and not come out into society if I was a person who lived her life as a celebrity in the public eye.

On a much, much, much smaller scale, I really craved a cookie tonight. I actually felt a little weird buying a small package and bringing it home. A friend has been staying with me for a few weeks. Living alone, nobody knows what food I buy and have in the house. Having someone around is different. It’s amazing how quickly I reverted to old thinking — the idea that if I make a food choice that’s inappropriate, I need to hide it. I was a champion sneak eater, a skill I developed when I was pretty young. I could open squeaky drawers in my family’s kitchen, open up a package of cookies and eat some without anyone hearing me in the other room. One of the things that I just realized is that I overeat more when I conceal foods. It’s like I need to eat it all and faster before someone catches me or discovers my secret.

Part of improving my relationship with food means being open and honest about it – in all respects. A big part of being successful on the journey overall has been that I’ve been as open and honest about it as I could. Hence the whole writing of this blog. In a way it’s me taking this trip in the public eye.

I just reread this post. You know, where I thought I was going with it at the beginning is not at all where I ended up. I thought I was going to muse on my empathy for overweight celebs. Yes, I have that empathy, but the writing process uncovered different stuff. The whole thing about eating more when I eat in secret is not something I’ve been in touch with, that I can recall. I’m glad that I got there tonight. It’s something I really need to think about and, more importantly, use to aid my recovery.

In the meantime, just to circle back around, I hope that Ruben succeeds on Biggest Loser. More importantly, I hope he is able to maintain his success, whether in private or in the public eye.