FOOD MAKES ME CRAZY…Carageenan Woes

Carageenan added

Many Silk  products have carageenan

Every time you turn around there is new chatter about this, that, or the other thing being bad for you.  The most recent thing to come to my attention is carageenan, a common food additive. If you pay attention to labels, which for years I did not, you will see it here or there.  I remember wondering what it was, doing a quick google search, finding it to be a seaweed product, and left it at that.

Sometimes I get so darn overwhelmed, and I just don’t want to have to *think so hard* about putting something in my cart and bringing it home.  I don’t want to be an Earth Momma making everything from scratch, but the more I learn about the food in the stores, the more I realize that I need to, for the sake of my family’s health.

A lot of foods have carageenan, including “plant milks” like almond/soy/coconut milk.  Carageenan, a seaweed product used as a thickening agent,  is considered by many to be inflammatory, causing gastric discomfort, and ultimately, a carcinogen at worst.  It is approved for use in organic food too.

I guess like everything else, even if it’s organic…read the labels.  This is too bad because I really like the SILK brand dark chocolate almond milk.  I have not experienced discomfort from drinking it, but who knows what it is doing?
This stuff gets crazier and crazier…all we’ll be left with to drink is water, fresh veggie/fruit juice, and green tea, LOL  (actually that’s not so bad, I guess…)  You can make your own almond milk if you feel up to it.
Here are a few links to info I have found about carageenan in foods, and lastly recipes for making your own almond milk and rice milk. It sounds easy enough.
Ultimately we must realize that food manufacturers, even “organic” companies (which often are owned by or have significant shares held by “mainstream” food companies) are in business for one thing, and one thing only: to make money. They are not interested in our health, they are not interested in the good of mankind, despite what they say or how genuine they were when they started out.  Profits are the most important thing to them.
As for organic and vegan items – again, manufacturers smell a profit…it is a market to corner…and they will do what they can to break into that market and make a profit off the people who want organic and/or vegan products, regardless of whether it’s really “good for you” or not.
Bottom line: anything you buy in the store, already made for you to consume,  is suspect.  More and more, if we want healthy food, we need to make it ourselves…not open a box.
Photo Credit: Silk product photo by TheImpulsiveBuy

Put Down the M & M’s. Really.

Do not just put them down.

Throw them out.

I was once svelte and sexy – I weighed about 124-127 lbs all the time.  Rarely did I deviate beyond a few pounds.

Here I am just out of high school, in 1987, with my beloved car:

Sexy Camaro Girl

1987 and Feeling Fine

I remember my fiance telling me “Don’t ever get fat!” before we got married. And I

A Skinny Bride

March 25 1995

laughed at him.  Of course I won’t ever get fat!

That was almost over 17 years ago…we are celebrating our 17th anniversary on March 25th.  And guess what?

I’m fat. 237 lbs fat. My BMI score labels me as “severely obese” which is positive; I was certain I had crossed over into “morbidly obese” range (that’s after a BMI of  40).

Severely Obese

A Rare Photo of All Of Me

If you have known me a while you will know this is not my first post about my weight, and it won’t be my last. I have weighed less than this and declared I was going on a diet.  When I first became horrified of my weight, I weighed about 224 lbs, and was shocked.  I started Weight Watchers and lost about 50 lbs or so, give or take.

Then I got a job as a secretary in a real estate office. I thought it was awesome, as now I could have enough money to go to the gym on a regular basis. Only that didn’t happen, and people trying to get business with our agents kept coming in to the office with Krispy Kreme donuts.

I lost the battle, and caved in…the sugar was too addictive.  Though I was happy to be down into a size 16 jeans and trying for 14…I slowly brought the weight back up.

Then I got tired of achy joints and plantar fasciitis and feeling like a stuffed pig all the time, and I started again. I once again signed up for Weight Watchers.  But my life got too out of control. I was now a real estate agent and on the road a lot.  McDonald’s and Turkey Hill (convenience store like 7-11 with awesome personal pizzas) became my habit.  I drank multiple Coca Colas or Dr Peppers a day on top of tons of coffee to keep “moving.”  I would come home and crash, and reach for sugar cereals like Froot Loops to keep me awake to work on the computer. I wanted to stop.  Get off this crazy merry go round and be healthy, not some walking time bomb.

I made public boasts on Facebook and my blog thinking that would keep me motivated to lose weight. But as time went on, I found myself forgetting…grabbing a pizza, grabbing some fries…coming home to more sugar.  My problem isn’t with craving fats as much as it is craving sugar. When I’m thirsty I want a coke. When I’m hungry, I want sweetened cereals or cookies or cake.

So here I am once again, at 237 lbs.  I am scared.  I don’t like being out of breath simply because I climbed 15 stairs.  I don’t like it that people at the office know  *I* am the one coming upstairs and say “Hi Karen!” before I even show my face…I am the only one I guess who huffs and sounds like a dairy cow plodding up the steps with heavy feet.

Yesterday I looked at a home for sale with a narrow stairway and I realized I could not make it up those stairs without squeezing myself through the passage. That, my friends, is embarrassing and humiliating.  I try to laugh it off and make fun of myself in a lighthearted way, to show others I know I’m obese and that it doesn’t bother me.

But. It does.

I am scared because every day I find it more difficult to get out of bed, out of the house…I want to stay home. I don’t want to “go” anywhere.  I am sad because I am always the one with the camera, or I am hiding behind my children or I crop most pictures to head and shoulders where I don’t look quite so huge.

I have the tools, I have the knowledge.  I want to juice fresh fruits and veggies so I can be healthy and have energy and feel like leaving the house.

Once again, I am going to embark on the journey. Maybe it was the achy feeling I had in my arm yesterday, maybe it was the fact that going upstairs to my bedroom at home or my desk at the office tires me out and makes me lose my breath…maybe it’s the fact that I’m hiding behind my children in almost every recent photo of me…I don’t know. I just know that I want to stop the Fat Train and get off.  I want to be this girl again:

Healthy Happy

Healthy and Happy

Not this one anymore:

Fat Mama Has to Go

Hiding behind my Child

This isn’t about looks really…it’s about my health. I want to enjoy my life, not barely endure it. I don’t care so much about looking “svelte and sexy” anymore…but I do care about diabetes, stroke, heart attacks…ya know?

Uncles, Girdles, and Flaming Sweet Potato Casserole

Missing Mom this Thanksgiving

My mom was somewhat of a nervous lady, as I remember her. She was skinny as a rail, probably due to nerves. I think she weighed 85 lbs soaking wet.

She liked things to go “nicely.” If things started to get out of whack, she’d get upset. Unfortunately in later years, this led to her being bedridden, sometimes for days, with painful stomach ailments. But sometimes, her nervousness would give way to a sudden firm strength that surprised people into silence, or laughter, or both.

Mom often called herself a “simple cook.” She was right – she rarely did anything fancy; most of her cooking was just down-home ordinary meat and potatoes, usually seasoned with salt and pepper. Never anything daring like garlic or oregano.

One area where she excelled, and to this day remains unmatched, was her homemade pies. I have yet to find someone who can top my mom’s apple pie, though Sue Misiak’s comes very very close. Mom’s other specialty was lemon merangue pie; though she often complained that her sister Ruth made better merangue. Well, maybe her merangues were higher, but Mom’s tasted best.

On Thanksgiving, Mom would break out of the original routine and go into “Holiday Mode.” Our holiday meals, whether Christmas or Thanksgiving, often consisted of the same special side dishes: baby carrots augraten, and the fabled sweet potato casserole, along with slightly dry mashed potatoes (that’s how dad liked ’em), her most awesome stuffing (I can not recreate it no matter how hard I try…), and jellied cranberry sauce, carefully placed on a cut glass dish and delicately sliced in half, care being taken to retain the shape of the can.

While many of the holidays were just Mom, Dad, me, and the various dogs, often Dad’s brother and his wife would come for Thanksgiving. This was a trial to my mom and definitely brought more dysfunction into our lives.

Uncle was a rather unfortunate person. He had some fine qualities: he was very smart with practical “hands on” knowledge, and he often meant well, but that was eclipsed by the fact that HE knew he was smart and always wanted all of us in his presence to know of his superior knowledge and experience in all matters. Additionally, Uncle would say bizarre things from time to time.

One time, he asked me, at the dinner table, what color underwear I was wearing. Everyone, except Uncle, was shocked at this display of inappropriate conversation, and I stuttered a moment and said “Uh, I don’t think that’s any of your business, Uncle….” Mom was looking daggers at him and Auntie looked about ready to pass out. Dad gave Uncle a sharp “look” and I, incredulous, wished I could be anywhere else.

Uncle continued: “Your aunt is wearing pink underwear, and I told her she was too old to wear colored underwear, and that she should leave the colored stuff to young girls like you.” After an uncomfortable silence, he then changed the subject and started talking about radio waves, Ultra High Frequency signals, and hand tools he had given my dad years ago that were not taken care of properly.  Another time, he blurted out to Auntie (also at the table) “Are you wearing your girdle today? Cause it doesn’t look like you have it on.” Good times, good times.

Auntie was a much more pleasant character, and I enjoyed her a great deal, but she would often get into very loud arguments with Uncle. It made for some very interesting times.

Mom would always tell them to come just moments before the meal was ready; if he came ahead of time, she would be probably need to be hospitalized.

One year, the dreaded thing happened. They came two hours early for Thanksgiving dinner.

The dogs started barking uproariously; Dad said “What the hell?” Mom cried “OH NO, THEY’RE HERE!” I proceeded to go in my room and turn on my hi-fi (that I got from Sears Big Book). “Oh no you don’t,” Mom said. “You stay out here to help keep me from killing him.”

I actually preferred to talk with Auntie, and so she and I sat in the living room and chit chatted while Mom fluttered around the kitchen, trying to keep her wits about her. Dad felt the need to go check on the deer and left the house. Uncle plopped himself down at the kitchen counter and proceeded to direct Mom’s movements in her kitchen.

“Don’t put that coffee pot back on the burner, it will break, that thing is HOT!”

“Why do you keep opening the oven door all the time? Don’t you know that lets all the heat out?!”

“When my first wife was alive, she did thus and such on Thanksgiving, and it was always so nice…”

“That one in there talking to Karen can’t do anything right, I always have to tell her how she should be cooking things; you’d think after all these years she’d know but she doesn’t….”

(at this point, Auntie interjects some ascerbic response, and a brief arguement loudly erupts; the poodle starts to bark and looks at Mom wonderingly, and Dad is still out in the woods.)

All the while, Mom is doing a great job remaining civil and keeping things on track. Dinner is almost ready, soon we can eat, and then hopefully, they will leave…and Mom will be able to relax.

At last, it’s time to take the carrots augraten out of the oven and put the sweet potato casserole under the broiler to toast the marshmallows. She sets the Corelle casserole dish with the carrots on an unused burner at the back of the stove and turns on the broiler. Uncle asks her why she’s ruining a perfectly good sweet potato dish with “sweet stuff” as she plops the marshmallows on and puts it in the oven.

Dad comes in and says he’s hungry.

She takes to making gravy and Uncle says “I think something’s burning, Doris.” Sure enough, smoke is coming out of the oven and the marshmallows are on fire. The poodle and the lhasa apso begin to bark, and the cocker spaniel heads for cover under the table. Mom says “Oh no! they’re ruined!” and Uncle says “I don’t know what you wanted to do that for anyway….”

Suddenly, there is a BANG and a splat and the dogs run out of the kitchen and I hear Mom wail quietly, and Uncle swears. “What the hell did you put that dish on the stove for Doris? Didn’t you know it would break?”

Evidently, the “unused burner” was left on, unknown to Mom when she set the carrots augraten on it. Still keeping her composure, she starts cleaning up the mess. Then, the final straw comes.

Uncle says “Doris, there’s a piece of glass on the floor by the refrigerator.”

Mom has had enough. “Listen,” she says, “If you’re going to be out here then you can help clean up. Or you can SHUT up or I swear I’ll dump this on your head!” My eyes got big as I saw her point to the lemon pie. Uncle, knowing that the loss of the lemon pie would be a terrible tragedy, wisely shut up, and came into the living room with Auntie and me. The poodle warily enters the kitchen and tiptoes around Mom’s feet.  Dad does his part to help by hollering at the dog to “Get!”

Auntie sighs, looks at Uncle, and says “Can’t you ever just shut up?”

“I was just trying to be helpful. It would be nice to have some appreciation, that’s all.”

We survived, and mom never set the marshmallows on fire ever again.

I Don’t Want THAT Body, I Want MINE!

Most of my friends know, I’ve struggled with my weight in recent years.  I just signed up for and started Nutrisystem.  I really like the food.  I’ve been playing around on http://www.nutrisystem.com a bit.

One of the questions I saw in one of Nutrisystem’s surveys was  “Which celebrity body would you love to have?”  Before I comment on that, I guess I’ll drag you along on my abbreviated weight journey, because I can.  😉

I am not new to being overweight.  Much of the last 15 years has been spent being obese. I’d like to blame my kids, but they are only part of the reason; the real reason is: my entire life, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted; mostly junk food, and it didn’t start to catch up with me until I was 25 and pregnant with my first child.

When I was a teen/young adult, people irritated me by suggesting I was anorexic or had an issue for being “skinny.”  I was not “skinny.” I had no bones jutting out, I had curves in all the right places – I was slender, but not skinny.

After an emotional breakup with my boyfriend (Glenn, whom you may know I won over and married; we are experiencing our happily ever after), I survived by consuming massive quantities of Mountain Dew and candy.  My exercise came in the form of sobbing into my pillow at night.  I could hardly eat meals, but at work I used caffeine and sugar to keep me going, a habit I kept for decades.

I gained 60 lbs with baby #1.  I had lost about 30lbs by the time I was pregnant with #2. (I bought into the whole “Breastfeeding helps you get your figure back,” and I’m here to tell you, that unless “getting your figure back” means having gigantic rubbery globs that hang to your navel, it’s a lie.  Before breastfeeding, I was a 34 B.  I don’t think I’ll EVER see anything smaller than a D cup again.)

So when I got pregnant with #2, I was already 30 lbs overweight, but I carried it well (still do, most people can’t believe I am 100 lbs overweight.)  The doctor told me not to gain anymore weight if I could help it. Ha! “Fat chance!”   When my son was born, I weighed 198 lbs, and only lost *his* weight – about 8 lbs plus the yucky stuff…I went home from the hospital weighing 188 lbs and was quite distraught over my weight.  My hubby missed my B.C. Body (Before Children).  I did too, and I cried.

However, that sorrow soon was eclipsed by my insatiable desire to satisfy every stress with sweets.  By the time #3 came along, I was still quite fat.  I breastfed her too, thinking I might win the “Get your figure back if you breastfeed” game this time.   By the time our youngest daughter was 3 or 4 years old, I tipped the scales at 208 lbs.  What sent me to the scale was a trip to Sears, and I could not fit into size 16 jeans.  For the first time, I had to go into the “18/20W” size.  Seriously, what is up with the “W” tacked on after the sizes past 18? It’s as if the tag is saying: “Lady, you are fat, and in case you haven’t figured that out, and the number isn’t enough of an indictment, we will emphasize it with the W for Whale!”

Horrified, I realized I needed help.

When I got married at 24, I barely weighed 125.  To say I was grossed out by myself, is an understatement.  BUT there was hope.  My friend was on Weight Watchers and was losing a ton of weight, so I joined too.  We determined that 124 was not my ideal weight anymore, but somewhere between 140-150 would be healthy for me.  I was almost to that goal – I had lost almost 40 of my 60 lbs.  I was feeling and looking GOOD.

Then I went back to work, and some dude kept bringing Krispy Kreme donuts in, to entice the real estate agents to use his mortgage company.  The agents were smarter than me.  “Here, Karen, take these home to your kids.”  KIDS? Are you kidding? I ended up scarfing half a box down myself before I even got home. And so began my downward spiral that I never got under control.   That was 2006.  Here I am in 2011, 235 lbs.

I tried a few times to do WW.  I really believe in the program, it is awesome, and definitely works for many. But for me, a real estate agent constantly on the go, I find it too time consuming to calculate points, to shop and plan for foods that fit into the program, to prepare…that’s why I didn’t keep up with it.  Too many days on the run, too many fast trips into McDonald’s Drive Thru or Turkey Hill (like a 7-11) for pizza.  Too much stuff to think about.

I started Nutrisystem because of the same friend who was on WW and lost lots of weight – she saw some weight creeping back up a little and tried Nutrisystem and told me how awesomely easy it is.

She is right. I can SO stick with this as long as my budget holds out.  I am setting my new goal at 135 because I really am more comfortable with that, and I’m hoping that at 135, I’ll be able to button blouses again, without gigantic melons threatening to burst through.  Even before when I was almost to goal with only had 20 lbs left to lose, my “girls” could still rival Dolly, and honestly, I’m tired of it. Other big chested ladies will agree, while I hear all you ladies with “little girls” wondering what the problem is. 🙂

In conclusion to this ramble, and back to my ORIGINAL point:  One of the questions I saw in one of Nutrisystem’s surveys was “Which celebrity body would you love to have?”

Quite frankly, I found that question offensive.  Being obsessed with someone else’s body – particularly one that has probably been liposuctioned, nipped, tucked, starved, stretched, abused, and Photoshopped beyond recognition, is a main reason many young women have eating disorders and poor body images.

Currently, I have something similar to Kirstie Alley’s body – and I feel bad for her.  Not because she is obese, but because she is a symbol of failure and ridicule for many. I see her as a courageous woman and I admire her in many ways.

But I really don’t want her body, or  for that matter, anyone else’s.  I just want my own back.

Karen Rice, AKA Wizzy

Johnny Rockets, Master of Distraction

The Man of the Place and I had an impromptu date tonight. My good friend called to invite our son to see Prince Caspian with her son. Thinking quick, I offered her more money to take all three of our wildebeasts children along. The silly woman agreed!

So The Man and I ended up over at The Shoppes at Montage, a new shopping center “over Scranton way”. After spending a half hour or so wandering around in The Guitar Center (The Man is a musician, of course) weThe Most Tasteless Food in the East decided to eat at Johnny Rockets, against our better judgement.

The last time we were there, I had the opportunity to have the worst apple pie in my life. I had never tasted such tasteless apple pie. Well, it was tasteless with a bit of a salty overtone (or undertone…). The coffee was good though, and since I live for coffee, the night wasn’t a total waste. However, I did the unthinkable and actually left most of my apple pie on my plate and filled my tummy with several more cups of coffee.

So anyway, we decided to go to Johnny Rockets to spend the $28 left on our gift card. I do like the 1950’s do-wop atmosphere, and was eager to pretend I was a teenybopper in a poodle skirt and saddle shoes. The best I could do was order a cheeseburger, fries, onion rings, and a milkshake. The Man told me that milkshakes were for dessert, and I told him he was born in the wrong era. Richie and Potsie always had shakes with their burgers.

I finally know why the staff at Johnny Rockets comes out every so often to line dance and make fools of themselves for the restaurant patrons: it is to distract us from the completely tasteless organic matter that is supposed to be our meal.

Never in my life have I left French fries and a cheeseburger on my plate. Until tonight. The strawberry shake was good, as was the coffee I requested to replace the meal I could not eat. The Man was happy with his chili dog, though.

From now on, it’s either The Boathouse on Lake Wallenpaupack, or Red Robin in Dickson City when I’m hankering for a burger. If only The Man would croon Blue Velvet or something while I ate – but you can’t have everything.