Living in the Gap

Blue Bins are the best part of dorm move outThe end of the school year brings finals, stress, fun, and a change of living arrangements for dorm dwellers. All of that change means celebrations and, of course, the inevitable moves. We helped Emma and Jake move out of their dorms and into….well, into nowhere for the moment.

There is this strange phenomenon known only to dorm dwellers called “the dorm gap”. You are expected to pack up and move your belongings out of your dorm room. You participate in this activity while trying to complete all of your final testing – since policy requires you to be out of there within 24 hours of completing your last final or, at the latest, by Saturday – May 19th. College students are super humans. How do they study for tests, write papers, take final exams, say goodbye to friends for the summer, pack up everything they own (which often means inadvertently packing up that book or journal article you really needed for your end-of-year essay), catch up on laundry, wrap up final arrangements for your internship which includes a physical, and sleep all at the same time?

To complicate things a bit, the colleges will typically provide summer housing if needed; but not in the same room you’ve been living in all year and definitely not without a gap. This year, the gap is roughly a week. Emma won’t have summer housing available until the end of May and Jake’s housing is available next Tuesday. This is where life gets creative for an undergrad. Refrigerators, boxes, books, bedding, clothes, food, decorations, etc. have to find a place to dwell during the gap. Solutions are both creative and imaginative and you should be impressed with their mad problem solving skills and tenacious ability to get everything accomplished. Schools should really give credit hours for this.

They found foster homes for some of their belongings in New York, stashed some of their belongings (some temporarily and some permanently) with us, and are now trying to catch up on some sleep.

We spent the last two days moving them. Our lives have been filled with blue bins (used for moving your stuff out of your dorm and for covert rides), Thai food, Swedish Fish, cookies, M&Ms, Thai Food, trail mix (Thanks to Jake’s mom), and gum. No nutritious meals, no chelating (except for when eating Thai food), and no cupcakes! We kept missing Crumbs cupcakes!

Blue Bin Ride during dorm move outFriday, we packed up Jake’s belongings, went for Thai food in New York, headed to Crumbs – and they were closed for the evening. Abject disappointment!!!  We headed to Connecticut, slept for 6 hours, and headed back to New York to do it all again; this time for Emma’s belongings. We went early to avoid the crowds and heat. The room was emptied, the car was trapped by a delivery truck (who double parks in New York? Just. Everyone.), we took a stroll to check out housing locations for both the summer and the next school year, gleefully found ourselves at Crumbs (no accident) – and they were still closed. I had my face pressed against the glass woefully staring at the help who adroitly avoided my mournful gaze. We left – fearing they would call the cops on the cupcake stalkers. We took Jake to New Haven to get a haircut, ate more Thai food in Connecticut, rushed Brooke to meet her friends so they could celebrate the end of Law School Year 1 (Woohoo!!!), and collapsed into bed at an ungodly hour (except Emma, who inadvertently passed out on the couch at 8 p.m.) as consolation. And now we have unpacked most items, laundered several items, and slept the sleep of the dead. We don’t even dare step on our scales to see what damage we have wrought. We can do that tomorrow.

Today? We’re taking it easy. No Thai food since that happened four times last week. We are going to enjoy a home cooked meal, watch Drop Dead Fred, and a few hours of simple laundry and trying to fit everything that has to stay here in inconspicuous places while refilling the car’s trunk with what must inevitably return to New York (no, not the kids – just their stuff) and catching up. Later this evening, we return Jake (and one small bag of his belongings) to New York so he can start his summer job at Sullivan & Cromwell on Monday. He is sleeping on the couch of a friend until his place is available on Tuesday afternoon. We can’t imagine starting a new job at a large firm with our belongings spread between two states and dwelling in the dorm gap. We imagine this will add to the stress of his first day on the job, but are confident he’ll be fine: he’ll be arriving at work with his favorite Crumbs cupcake for lunch.  Ahhh college life.

The Satan Diet Works but We’re Taking It a Step Farther

Devil Diet - Eat OrganicWhen we used the Satan Diet, the pounds magically came off. There is no doubt about that. But why?  How are we losing weight when we’re eating copious quantities of food (albeit food in specific categories).  One reason is that we’re initially eating fruits and vegetables; foods that are primarily composed of water. Another reason is that we really haven’t found fruits in season (since this is early Spring) and we are picky about our fruits. There is one more, very important reason, however, that most people aren’t recognizing. It can be summed up in one simple word; chelation.

Chelation is the process your body uses to remove metal-based contaminants (such as lead, aluminum, cadmium, and mercury) via the bloodstream; then the metals are excreted in your urine (ew).  The levels of pollution in the air you breathe and the food you eat are astounding.  Many people claim these toxins are killing us via increased illness, cancers, and damage to your neurological system.

As toxins build in your body, you become tired, lethargic, more prone to illness, and susceptible to auto-immune disorders. Sherry noticed right away that she was feeling better when we added fruits and vegetables to our diets.  She found she wasn’t hungry as often and we both noticed her arthritis was doing better.  Well, to be honest we did a couple of things about that arthritis; Sherry makes sure she gets 1/2 a tablespoon of cinnamon and some local raw honey every day. We read those two foods could help ameliorate some of the  pain and swelling of arthritis. It seems to have made a little difference but then we added the vegetable thing within 2 months so we can’t say how much of the improvement is from what change – we can just say there has been overall incremental improvement. So much for the scientific method.

Anyway, chelation can be a horrid medical procedure if you have serious metal poisonings (think Lead Poisoning). What most people don’t realize is that our bodies also follow a natural process of chelation that is made possible by the foods we eat (or should be eating in any case).  We don’t even have to think about it. It just happens.  But the next time someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do, simply say, “I’m sorry, I’ll be busy chelating at that time and won’t be able to do that for you.”  They will walk away truly confused, yet satisfied that you are indeed busy with important work that they won’t dare question and you’ll have time for that book you’ve been trying to get to  (or a nap).

Anyway, chelation is the largest case against junk food.  Eating processed foods all day can fill you up and make you invariably happy but these foods don’t have what it takes to encourage chelation in your body.  The more you fill up on tasty junk food, the more over-burdened your body will be with the buildup of toxins. You need to eat a variety of food to assist your body with chelation.  Here are the foods that matter:

  • Pectin occurs naturally in lots of fruits and vegetables and has been found to chelate heavy metals and other toxins from your body.  Good sources of natural pectin include apples, grapes, beets, carrots, bananas, cabbage, and the pith (that icky white part) of citrus fruits.
  • Cilantro (and the coriander seed it produces) not only perform normal chelation functions but are said to cross the blood-brain barrier and remove metals from the brain. This could be very important to potential Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s sufferers as experts continue to research the link between increased metals in the brain and these two diseases.  Right now experts only state there is some type of protein-metal interaction that takes place to keep us free of these diseases and the jury is still out regarding what is genetic and what is environmental. There is no proof that eating cilantro or avoiding soda pop packaged in aluminum containers will stave off either disease – but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
  • Cruciferous Vegetables contain antioxidants that increase the production of detoxifying enzymes in your body. These vegetables include staples such as arugula, horseradish, cabbage, kale, and broccoli and are rumored to also have anti-cancer effects – always a good thing.
  • Sulfer Rich Foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onion, garlic, and brussels sprouts work to also remove heavy metals from your body.
  • Amino Acids are also natural chelating agents.  Your body makes 10 of the 20 needed essential amino acids (or proteins) naturally but you must use food to obtain the other 10.  Proteins control virtually all cellular processes so you don’t want to short yourself on them – and your body doesn’t create a store of them so you must get new ones all of the time.  Again, it is the interaction of proteins and metals in the brain that are the focus of research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – so this is very important stuff. Amino acids can be obtained by eating meats, dairy products, and/or a rich variety of plants.  Nutritionists used to believe you had to eat a combination of foods to create a complete protein to derive benefit. This is why vegans are often working to ensure they have adequate nutrition – but that combination theory is out the door. You don’t need to combine to benefit (which made Sherry kind of sad because she was always careful to drink milk when eating Peanut M&Ms to ensure she was getting at least one complete protein. All of that work for nothing!).

As you read through this list of foods, you’re probably making an internal inventory and congratulating yourself on eating many of these foods already. Go ahead, be smug. You’ve earned it! And we hope you’ve made the connection between the Satan Diet and chelation.  Following the Satan Diet eliminates the processed foods your body has been enjoying and replaces them with more of the foods that support chelation. As you diet, you are getting rid of excess heavy metals in your body – so you are getting a detox cleanse free of charge.  During this diet you are not just losing weight; you’re getting your body to a healthier state of being.

But there is one rub. (Sherry’s turn to be smug.) Our food supply isn’t what we think it is. We have eaten Farm Bred and Atlantic Salmon without realizing we were also ingesting mercury and other toxins. We all switched from red meats to chicken in an effort to be healthy not realizing farmers are poisoning our chicken with arsenic (in the form of the drug, 3-Nitro) to enhance weight and skin pigmentation…oh, and to control diseases. When the FDA verified this back in 2011, the industry volunteered to conduct a 30-day phase out of its use – and then got caught again just now in February of 2013 when inorganic levels of arsenic was again noticed in chickens and again traced back to the continued use of 3-Nitro. No, my friends, there is no honor among farmers from the looks of things.  Now think about everything we’re learning about Monsanto – genetically engineered produce that harms us and food doused with heavy pesticides that can be absorbed by food.  The question often returns to – what in the world are we eating? Do we know? (Sherry smugly maintains that an Oreo is an Oreo and M&Ms are M&Ms so all that junk food is superior to those vegetables and meats everyone else is eating. Unfortunately, Sherry is chelating any time soon with this attitude.)

So, as a suggestion, if you want to boost the benefits of your Satan Diet, you can purchase  organically grown food during your diet week. This helps because you are actually aiding the chelation process by not adding any extra metals or toxins via the pesticides, arsenic, and growth chemicals used on our food supplies.  This organic food recommendation is indeed going to be part of our upcoming Cupcake Diet (still in the works – but making progress).

Happy Mama at Benihana

Yesterday was a wonderful Mother’s Day for us! Every year we go to Benihana for Mother’s Day and this year we continued the tradition.  We love going to Benihana not only because the food is incredible, which it is, but also because they cook it in front of you and put on a fun and silly show.  We also like that they serve the meal in courses and begin with a soup and then a salad.  The soup is a clear broth onion soup with mushrooms, which is really rather healthy and completely delicious.  The salad is good, as far as salads go, and has a tasty ginger dressing.  Brooke pretends to eat the salad because even a good salad is still a salad. We hesitated before ordering the chicken fried rice, but decided that celebrations are cause for greater leniency.

One of the most difficult things about trying to watch what and when we eat is that food plays a major part in celebrations and traditions.  While a lot of dieting advice tells us that we have to find different ways to celebrate or show our appreciation we have come to the realization that food is always going to be a part of tradition, and we think that’s alright.  Part of creating a diet, or eating lifestyle, that is sustainable is making concessions and admitting the things that you really aren’t willing to stop doing.  For us, Benihana on Mother’s day is one of those concessions.

However, just because we aren’t willing to give it up completely doesn’t mean we can’t try to make small adjustments to our meal.  For example, last night we drank water instead of sodas.  This seems like a small thing but the benefits of being properly hydrated combined with the avoidance of extra calories mean that this small choice can have a big impact on weight loss without ruining your fun.  We also made reservations just a little bit earlier in the evening because of our newfound knowledge that food eaten late in the evening is stored as fat. Because honestly, who wants that?

To make our night complete the Upper West Side provided us with a rare treat: a flaming trash can that surprised even our cab driver.  We have no idea why it was on fire, but we were glad to be in a taxi.

Sick as Dogs, Again.

Satan diet on hold we are sickOmg. After a relatively illness-free winter, we are heading into Brooke’s law school finals and we both got sick!  As much as we love our new diet idea, we’ve had to put it on the back burner until we feel a little better. We thought we’d send you this quick update (with our personal wishes that you have not caught this flu bug) and let you know we should be back in commission on Monday. Finals will still be looming but illness should be in our rear view mirror.

Peace out, girl scout (Brooke totally said I could say this!)

Ghrelin S’More & Elizabeth Park

Ghrelin Matters When You DietWhy does ghrelin matter in weight loss?  We talked your ear off about ghrelin yesterday. Here is why it matters.

Ghrelin makes you hungry. If you are lacking minerals and vitamins, it will make you hungry. If your body needs something you aren’t providing, it makes you hungry.  Even when you’re dieting…no, especially when you’re dieting, you need to listen to your body. It’s really important for you to get back in touch with whether you are eating because of actual hunger or for some other reason.

Your grandmother (well, maybe not yours but somebody’s you know) was right.  You don’t eat all night long. Breakfast means you break a fast. It’s hard to break a fast if you stuff your face with treats all night. So stop doing that!  If you stay up late at night your body will ask for food because it is trying to find the energy to keep you awake. Ghrelin is driven by your circadian rhythms so it will increase at night if you don’t go to bed at a reasonable time or if you keep your lights for hours after the sun goes down. Don’t eat. Go to bed!

Use diet time to understand how ghrelin is your friend. It is your friend. We promise. And this diet we’re cooking up for you will make you very happy that ghrelin is your friend. Because ghrelin is sometimes satisfied when it is fed something sweet. You’ll have to wait until we have a stronger proof but things are looking very good.

Oh, wait! We promised you pictures of the tulips in Elizabeth Park.  Sorry it’s taken us awhile but we did want to share this with you.

Tulips at Elizabeth Park Tulips at Elizabeth Park Tulips at Elizabeth Park


Don’t you just love them!

When you diet, you shouldn’t be constantly hungry or feel completely deprived. Yes, you need to eat fewer calories or you (like us) wouldn’t be checking out the diet alternatives. But deprivation is not going to help you meet you goal of losing weight and then maintain it.

Everybody gets tired of losing 20 pounds when it’s simply the same 5 pounds taken off and then regained 4 times. So let’s figure out a way to break the cycle and experience a true 20 pound (or more or less – you decide) weight loss.

Well, it’s past 10 p.m.  So go to bed already!

Embrace Your Inner Ghrelin

When you begin an exercise program you’re constantly told to listen to your body; your trainer tells you to push yourself but that if it actually hurts you need to do something differently. A good trainer finds your pace and helps you take it a step or two further by telling you to listen to you body. Listen to your body, listen to your body: you’re told that over and over.  Well, Sherry isn’t. Her trainer just asks her to stop whining and start working.

Why don’t we get that same advice when we’re dieting? If your experience is like ours, you’re only told to listen to your body and stop eating when it tells you you’re full.  But when you say you crave something, you’re told to ignore your hunger and your body will get used to it. Our dieting lives are filled with discomfort because we valiantly try to move forward while ignoring this pesky body that screams “Give me icecream” on a regular basis. This is deemed good.

Why this disparity?  Why are we supposed to listen to our muscles but not our stomachs?  Isn’t my stomach a muscle? If you work out too vigorously  nobody tells you to keep going because the pain you’re feeling is only in your head.  Start a strict diet and you are told to ignore your pain. And so you cheat. You cheat because you need to shut your stomach up, you cheat because you get tired of living a food deprived life, and you cheat because you can. Just like when you snuck out with your friends when you were a teen. (No, Mom, I never did that.)  But, really, you cheat because your body is telling you exactly what it needs and you are telling it no – it isn’t hungry and if it is hungry, it’s not for what that stomach is begging for.

Well here’s the truth.  You are really hungry.  Sometimes really, really hungry. No,this is not permission to party down with a gallon of ice cream and a super sized pack of fries. Yes, this means you need to eat when you are hungry.  How do you strike this balance?  This is one of the reasons we really liked the Satan Diet. We could eat when we wanted but we could only eat food from specified categories.  We realized we were often not that hungry when our category for the day was vegetable. We became very reasonable and waited until we felt hunger pangs like when we were kids. And we also liked that the food we ate was healthy because, as you know, your body will continue to be hungry after eating if vitamins and minerals were missing from your food source.  The Devil Diet made us realize that a successful dieter needs to listen to that body and meet its nutritional needs. One reason the diet was easy to follow.

To maintain a weight loss, you need to really understand the mechanics of that hungry feeling. This gets a little serious for a minute, but try to stay awake as this is important.  There are two hormones that play a central role in our feelings of hunger or satiation (satiation here simply means not hungry). Those hormones are ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is a hormone that is involved in growth, learning, and appetite.  It is produced by cells in the human stomach and pancreas and stimulates the release of growth hormone, as well as feelings of hunger.  Leptin, the other hormone, interacts with your circulatory system, your bone metabolism, and induces appetite suppression.  Many contemporary diets focus only upon ghrelin and leptin in matters of appetite and appetite suppression;  framing ghrelin as the “bad” hormone and leptin as the “good” hormone but it is important to remember that both of these are good hormones that help us take care of our bodies.  If we’ll only listen.

So here’s the news for you: Ghrelin is not the diet Gremlin.  It can be your friend if you let it.  But you have to listen to what it is telling you.  Instead of believing that diets are all about appetite suppression you need to realize that if you satisfy the ghrelin, you won’t have to cheat on your diet.   This is a lot to digest so we’ll tell you more about it tomorrow!

Our Thoughts on Skinny Dipping

Dips add calories and weightHow many times have you (or someone you loved) made a healthy snack of fresh fruit and then proceeded to dip each and every piece in a high calorie, sugary sauce before eating them?  The dip keeps us from being skinny – so skinny dipping would truly follow the no dipping rule. Have you ever skinny dipped?  Brooke has but she says I’m not allowed to tell you about it.

Why do people even need to dip in the first place?

We were discussing this last night as we cleaned out our fridge.  You see, our city just changed garbage collection night from Tuesday night to Wednesday night. But they sent out myriad notifications a month before making the change. Glancing at the notices cluttering our doorstep and mailbox, we saw “Change in Your Garbage Collection Day” and assumed it was a timely notice. So we didn’t take the garbage out on Tuesday and kind of laughed at the people who persisted in hauling the trash to the curb on Tuesday night: only to be awakened to the sound of the garbage truck early the next morning.  What?!?  They sent the notices out early so – not reading the notice in full – we missed garbage day anyway. We keep perishable food in the fridge or freezer until garbage night to cut down on the nasty smells and then haul it all out to thaw and be carried away to the landfill.  Anyway – that’s what we were doing; removing 2 weeks of old perishable food from our fridge.

Sherry was never a big dipper and she never really provided opportunities for her children to dip. Steak sauces?  Nope. Ketchup with fries?  Only if it’s that strange concoction of mayonnaise, ketchup, and other secret ingredients that is rumored to have originated in Utah (so many of you might have never heard of it).  Barbeque sauce?  Never. We did not participate in dipping activities.  Indeed, we would glance at public dippers with a look of confusion and wonder what compelled them to dip.

Dipping makes you fat. Dips are loaded with sugar (or salt and MSG) that your heart just doesn’t need. Dipping increases your food costs because you have to buy all that dip. And yet people continue to dip. Are these just frustrated smokers trying to find something to keep their hands busy during dinnertime?  Or is there something else going on?

A friend explained his dipping by saying he dips to add variety to his diet. We think him wrong.  We suspect he is confused and he is actually trying to produce the exact opposite.  But that takes us back to our fridge cleaning activity.

As we cleaned, we developed a theory.  We were focusing on the foods we were tossing out – they weren’t really old but grapes, blackberries, apples, and grapefruit went into the trash nonetheless.  We bought the grapes because they looked good and, once we got them home, found them to be sour – unlike the last bunch of fabulously sweet grapes we’d purchased the week before. The blackberries were so bitter they left a nasty taste in our mouths. We used to gather blackberries in the Oregon wilds and they were so delicious they’d be gone before we could get home. But these berries were nasty. The apples tasted like storage apples – no crispness; just soggy and mushy- like.  Although we’d had fabulous luck with grapefruits most of this winter, these grapefruits were from a batch that were old and stringy.

That’s when it dawned on us: people dip to provide a consistent taste in food!  A bitter berry drenched in sauce is just as edible as a naked sweet berry. If you don’t like the taste of an apple, dip it caramel and you can silence the nasty.  See what we mean? Fruits and vegetables can be delicious or terrible – they are available year round but their quality, sweetness, and freshness varies.  Many of you would have eaten the fruit we discarded (using your ninja dipping tactics) and, because we aren’t dippers, we rejected it.

Should we become dippers?  We actually considered this but we are hoping to lose weight; not gain it. So no. But here’s the thing. When you have a bad day and you pick up something to eat you can’t afford to have it taste bad.  Fresh food is so inconsistent that just doesn’t work so everyone turns to ice cream or cookies because they provide a level of consistency that comforts us.  And we think (hence our theory) that the inconsistency of fresh produce is what has kept us far away from fruits and vegetables for years.

The solution? Hey, we have no idea! We just figured out the problem. And since we’re busy trying to fit cupcakes into your diet maybe you can work on this one for us.

Good Ghrelin, Where’s My Cupcake?

cupcake puppyYes. This is the cupcake diet but that doesn’t mean you eat cupcakes all day long. What were you thinking?  You’ll get a cupcake soon. Now stop your whining!

We’ve been doing some research and it seems our idea just might be on the right track. Science News published an 8 month study that actually added a sweet to breakfast for the experimental group but those people otherwise followed the same diet as the control group.  Guess what.  At month 4 all dieters had lost pretty much the same amount of weight (33 pounds each) but in the last 4 months of the diet, the control group people gained 22 of those pounds back while the people who ate dessert with breakfast lost another 15 pounds each!

Yup. That’s what we’re saying. Cupcakes rule!  And if you read up on how not to grow like a Sumo Wrestler, you’ll understand why you eat that cupcake for breakfast instead of later in the day.  Apparently eating the dessert for breakfast not only satisfies your craving for sweets (meaning you’ll be less likely to cheat later in the day) but it successfully regulates ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

Even as we work toward a great new diet for you, we’re fine tuning and perfecting it so that you can lose weight without suffering or having to welcome the pounds back as soon as you’re finished.

The diet plan we laid out yesterday? It’s no good. We aren’t going to tell you what we’re doing with this until we figure out how to eat more cupcakes. So please be patient.

This morning Brooke ate watermelon for breakfast.  She is anti-seed. Well, actually she seems to be a bit anti-watermelon. The seeds may just be the presenting problem. She’ll know better once she has a chance to eat it a second time. Hahahaha  She’s now protesting as she thought that was the end of all watermelons on this earth.  How can she love all forms of watermelon candy and hate the real thing?  So mysterious!

Bye for now. We need to go bake some cupcakes.

Satan Diet Be Damned. We Want the Cupcake Diet ©

sad-satanReally. We’re going to do this.  Our small insurrection is evolving into a great idea. At least we think it might be. We’ll let you know as we go since we’re making this up as we go.

You are cordially invited to follow along as we create the Cupcake Diet©. We started out by discussing what has to happen for this to be a good diet.

  1. We want results! We do not want to diet for 3 weeks to lose 1.2 pounds or we’ll be dead before we lose enough weight for even our clothes to notice.
  2. We don’t want to suffer. If this diet makes us suffer, we won’t play.
  3. The diet must be healthy. We don’t want to hurt ourselves in the long term.
  4. The diet must be easy. We are too busy for complexity. It has to be easy to remember what we can eat.
  5. We want cupcakes!  We really think this is doable.
  6. Protein has to be involved because we fear hypoglycemia (the soup has meat).

As we go along and fine tune how this diet works, we’ll keep you posted.  Since we’ve loved the Satan Diet, we’re going to incorporate the portions of that diet that seem to spell success.  Success defined as being able to lose at 3-8 pounds each week if the diet is followed.

What we’ve got so far:

Day 1 – Eat as many cupcakes as you want in addition to the food you would regularly eat. This is your early celebration       for the weight you’re going to lose! Make a batch of Ultimate Soup.

Day 2 – Eat all of the fresh fruit you want with the exception of bananas.  You can also have ¼ c of nuts.

Day 3 – Eat all of the fresh fruit you want until noon.  No bananas. Eat only vegetables for the rest of the day.  But no potatoes, peas, or corn. Eat 1 cup of Ultimate Soup as an early dinner.

Here is what we’re thinking. We tried just doing a double down of the Satan Diet but 2 days of just fruit drove us over the edge. We were grumpy and cranky and had to take angry naps just to pull it together for the evening. We went for a walk to discuss things – and we just really think 2 days of fruit fruit fruit is not realistic. It’s nice to look forward to a warm meal for dinner and the soup is mostly vegetables with a little bit of meat so it met our needs.

The tulips are all in bloom at our park – it is a wondrous place to be this time of year. We’ll try to remember to take a picture of it so you can enjoy it with us.  If you try this diet out with us, let us know how you do. We really want this diet to be one that you can use!