Let’s just start this post by saying that i’m eating this as I write. It is arguably the best breakfast i’ve ever made in my entire life. Homemade migas with leftover carnitas.

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Disclaimer: This is my personal, not self-aggrandizing, account of what it’s been like to become a slightly less fat person.

1. Nothing to Wear – I have really great clothes, and I love them. I spend my free time organizing The Big Fat Flea, because I think that access to great, affordable, plus size clothing is really important politically and personally.  I treasure my clothes because finding fantastic pieces at my size is a challenge. Like Johnny Cash, i’ve put this wardrobe together one piece at a time (ok, actually none of the clothes are stolen). I’ve painstakingly peicemealed together a closet full of fringe and faux-leather and men’s sweaters and crushed velvet and non-mom denim. And now, a lot of it doesn’t fit. I never would have guessed that the feeling of putting on too-tight jeans is just as bad as too-loose jeans.  As a quick fix, i’ve started putting together bags of my best clothes for a clothing swap at my place next month. I want someone great to love on these clothes like I have, and maybe i’ll walk away with another pair of pants that fits so I can give these poor jeans a rest.

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2. Proud? – On Friday I hit a big milestone number of pounds down. My nutritionist asked me if I was proud of myself. I kind of just stammered. I didn’t feel especially proud. It’s kind of like when Bubs is getting clean on the last season of The Wire and he’s like, “I don’t know why i’m getting rewarded for doing the shit I should have done all along”. But then I found myself tearing up at dance class that night. I am proud that i’ve gotten to a place where i’m at a dance class on Friday night and not at a bar or eating a whole pizza (I actually still love those things, and i’m sure there will be times that’s what I need). I feel proud that I can make it through two hours of crunches, jumping, and shaking my ass so hard without dying. I feel proud that i’m in a place where I know what I need, and I prioritize that. The REALLY complicated part is whether or not it’s “okay” to be proud of the scale number. My value is so much more than a weight, and I believe that for me, and for you, and for everyone else. But what if it felt kind of good to see that number dip? Would that mean I was a less of a fat activist? Or less body-positive? Or less of myself? Or is is just my literal mass that is less? I don’t really have an answer to any of those questions except to say I feel more like myself than I have in a long time.

 

3. Control + Body Love – Did you know that weight loss is in no way like photo shop? I basically have no say as to how my body changes as i’m loosing weight. The body that i’ve been in all my life is changing a lot, and pretty quickly, and that is weird. Every day is another chance to be psyched about my body or not that psyched about my body. I jumped really high (relatively, for me) and I watched it happened in a full length mirror and I was like, “HAY LOOK AT THAT! GREAT JOB BODY”. But I also noticed the other day that my arms look kind of deflated and not like my regular arms and that made me feel weird. This is a big deal, because fat arm acceptance was a big moment for me. I know that this is a narrative that is not just mine, and is a big deal for lots of awesome fat broads.  I wore cardigans all summer long over my dresses until I was 22. And then I worked outside in fields all the time and it was too hot to do that so I cut all the sleeves off of all my shirts because I couldn’t keep giving a fuck. And then I got a huge tattoo on my big fat upper arm because I wanted to and I needed to so that I wouldn’t ever go back to covering them up. I’ve realized that I get to say how my body looks and how I feel about it. I even met with a personal trainer so that I could gain some kind of control about how this goes. (I knew it was a good fit because I told him my goal weight was still FAT and he understood.) I want my ass to stay big so i’m doing squats. I want an upper body that feels (and looks) strong so i’m learning my way around a weight room. My body my choice, na’meen?

Photo on 2015-01-25 at 16.00 #2

 

Come back next time to hear about food policing, identity, me feeling like a weirdo in restaurants.

 

Disclaimer: This is a super personal account of 2014 for me. Since August i’ve lost 30 pounds and am learning a lot about what it means to actually take care of myself. This is how I got here. The below is about me and my experience, I don’t think you need to loose 30 pounds (unless you feel like it), I think you look great. I am still fat and will, in all likelihood, be fat always. There are no “before” and “after” photos because my body was fine before and it will be fine no matter what, because it’s mine and it gets me around this earth and helps me eat snacks and wear clothes and pet dogs.

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A rutabaga with a fat ass, because why not?

I spent the first half of 2014 feeling like complete dog shit. At the very beginning of the year I went through a bad break-up and more than my fair share of personal trauma, but the real tipping point was having two (in retrospect, totally shitty) health care professionals refuse to give me anesthesia due to my height/weight ratio. To wit, that awful experience was the only time that my weight has negatively impacted me, ever.

Instead of dealing with any of the goings on of last winter, I threw myself into 70 hour tax season work weeks, ate a lot of takeout, and on my one night out per week drank until I got sick and had to lay on the couch the whole next day (eating more takeout). It wasn’t great. I gained about 15 pounds pretty quickly. I stopped exercising. I felt sluggish and crummy.

I had a bunch of totally un-fat related little illnesses come up – a gross skin infection, and what was probably a round of mild listeria, and I needed to get checked out. After my garbage experience with the anesthesiologists, I found myself paralyzed by trying to find a new doctor. It’s one of the most anxiety inducing things i’ve done in recent memory. But I asked around, finally found a new GP, and made an emergency appointment.

The day of my appointment was late in July, and it was totally gross outside. I lugged myself up the sticky subway stairs and up 14th street to the dilapidated “real New York” waiting room of my new GP and just stood there, tapping my foot and trying not to sweat on anything. When I finally met the doctor, it was like a mirage. He was handsome and funny and a godamned micro-farmer. We clicked really hard and he laughed at all my nervous jokes. He took my blood pressure, had the nurse take some blood samples, gave me antibiotics, and asked me if there was anything else bothering me.

That’s when I lost it. There I was, in the tiny office of a complete stranger, bawling. It was the first time I really talked about how shitty my experience with the other doctor’s had been, and how shitty I felt, and how I felt uncomfortable for the very first time in my body. I felt like the skin infection on my inner thighs and the bout of stomach issues I had been having were just gross reactions to being at my heaviest weight ever. He assured me that they had nothing to do with my weight, and that I was, on paper, a completely healthy person. He told me that if I wasn’t comfortable, and I wasn’t feeling well,  and I wanted to make a change, he could put me in touch with a nutritionist to try to see if there was anything she could do. He understood my background, and promised not to set me with up a “rah-rah aspartame” nutritionist. He didn’t tell me I was going to die. He didn’t tell me I needed weight loss surgery. He just helped me help myself. It sucks that I feel GRATEFUL that a doctor did right by my fat self, rather than that being the standard operating procedure.

So I did it. It was TERRIFYING but after one session I knew I was doing the right thing. Beth is a MS, RDN, CSSD and probably the sweetest woman I have ever met. We did a two week reset during which I didn’t have any sugar, or complex carbs, or booze. I thought I would die but I didn’t. I thought I would be grumpy as fuck, but I wasn’t. She called me on how much I was drinking, and I was honest with a health care professional for the first time about just how much I was drinking. It was a lot. And it was fucking with my life. I was saying shit I didn’t mean or remember, and I was not showing up for my friends, and I was wasting a whole day a week being hungover. She told me that I needed to limit myself to 5 drinks a week. Hard rule. And i’ve been (mostly) doing that, and it’s insane to me that i’ve been doing that.

Since then we’ve met every two weeks. She’s become like a therapist, a sounding board, someone to share recipes with, and someone who helps me not take this shit so seriously. She laughs and nods that I tell her my fitness goals include “just being more Sporty Spice” or when I bitch about quinoa. I can’t imagine doing all of this without her. She knows that this isn’t just a numbers game, it’s about changing my fucking life, and figuring out what makes me feel good. She doesn’t let me beat up on myself, and she talks me through all of the shit that is weird about being a body-positive fat person becoming less fat. (More on that later.)

It clicked for me when I went away camping for a week a few weeks after our first meeting. The trip is really the highlight of my year, and it’s usually reallllllly boozy and we eat a lot of hot dogs. Like, a lot. This year something changed. My best pal came prepared with a bunch of healthy snacks. We brought swim fins and did long swims or hikes every morning. We ate salads (and some s’mores, of course), and had a bourbon before bed, but it wasn’t WILD and that was fine. It was more than fine, it was GREAT. I came back to work feeling renewed instead of kind of beat up. That was the point of no return.

So here I am. I feel pretty awesome. All of this learning how to take care of myself has really spiraled into all the other non-food related parts of my life. My skin looks good. I still see my friends and they still like me (I think.) I have a bagel every now and then and it’s cool. I feemore in control of my shit than I ever have. I am killing it at work – i’m more focused and more productive. I’m going to get a dog. I’m not dating just to date – not taking any  bullshit from tepid suitors.

I feel like a clearer version of myself. I feel pretty happy. I feel a lot of things ALL THE TIME because i’m not suppressing that shit under work or bread or wine. I want to be able to swim a mile. I want to rip a fucking phonebook in half. I mean, who knows what’s going to happen, but for now, I feel good. And that’s good enough.

My basic plan:

I track everything I eat, and eat around 1,600 calories a day.

I exercise 5 times a week. In the Summer/Fall that was a mostly swimming. Now it’s African dance and Couch to 5k training.

I eat whole grains (but not whole grain bread) at breakfast or lunch only.

I drink 5 or fewer alcoholic drinks a week.

I drink a boatload of water.

I get two deviation meals a week that can be whatever I want/need. (Yesterday’s was a cheesesteak.)

On New Orleans.

February 1, 2013

I’ve been threatening to take a trip to New Orleans for a while now. The idea of a vacation built entirely around snacks, drinks, and dancing has appealed to me for as long as I can remember. I could not have been more thrilled to be joined by two of my favorite broads ever, who just happen to be grad school colleagues, and the brilliant aforementioned supper club beauties.

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I love The Kates and liberal street drinking policies.

There was serious alchemy on this trip – perfect travel buds, warm weather, eating, walking, the kindness of strangers, dancing. I feel like we did a great balancing act of seeing “new” and “old” New Orleans – from classic cocktails in touristy bars, to an amazing local ingredient soul food pop-up dinner in a fantastic smokey bar  – from Oyster loaf and chicory coffee to avocado ice pops and local meat “southern antipasto”.

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Happiness is ice cold beer in tiny glasses, and fresh gulf oysters.

I think that our experience, limited as it was, was indicative of the way New Orleans is a city reverent of tradition, of folklore, of cultural history – but moving forward, partially because they’ve had to. Maybe that’s reductive, but it feels honest. Also, New Orleans is decidedly a “High Life” city, which was literally and figuratively refreshing. (Yes, I also had lots of great local brews also. I’m looking at you, NOLA Brewing Hopitoulas.)

Touristy? Yes. Legit fucking pisco sour? Also yes.

We were lucky to have had a (handsome) local tour guide (THANKS, JOSH!), as well as great recommendations from our network of pals and NOLA enthusiasts (Thanks, especially to Cait!)

Below find lots of pictures, and a list of the highlights of our trip.

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Beignets and Cafe au Lait at Cafe Du Monde. Maybe it’s obvious, but if you don’t like doughnuts and coffee, just get out of America.

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LEECHES!

Kate and I spent the better part of a morning wondering through M.S Rau Antiques, jaws agape. Bear Skeletons, living room sized silverware chests, tortoise shell everything. There was a man there whose sole job it was to wind antique clocks. NICHE. It was amazing. If I could go back, I would totally swing by Lucullus which specializes in culinary antiques.

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Literally, all of the oysters.

I loved starting my day with a dozen raw oysters and a cold beer, cause i’m a boss like that. The best? The huge, tongue-like incredibly fresh ones from Casamento’s, shucked by Mike, who sweet talked the shit out of us. Follow your oysters up with more oysters, fried, between two pieces of white bread, slathered with mayo, and an healthy shake of Louisiana hot sauce.

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New Orleans has really great signs. Really great colored stucco – greens and corals. The kind of charming disrepair I found and loved in Key West.

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Every single person we met in New Orleans was kind. Like over-the top nice. Like,” here take this extra bus ticket” nice. Like, “Oh my cousin is the maitre d’ at that restaurant, do you want me to see if I can get you a table” nice. Except this man. He was the most fluid, beautiful short order cook I have ever seen, with the ability to make every burger flip look hateful. Never has disdain looked so elegant. I loved him. And I loved the burger + egg he made me at 3 am. The Clover Grill was the NOLA version of a NJ diner, and I dig it.

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We didn’t really eat very many vegetables in New Orleans, i’ll admit. We did however, have all of the best meats, in excess. If there is a heaven, it smells like Cochon Butcher. We stood there, faces pressed against the meat cases, like puppies. We were able to nab a table outside in the sunshine, where we went to town on sandies. Bacon and collard green melt, with an unhealthy amount of their sweet potato hot sauce.

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And then, the sandwich of all sandwiches: The Gambino. House cured meats, mortadello, sopressata on the best ciabatta i’ve ever had, piled with perfectly dressed arugula. It was truly, a beautiful sandwich. Best enjoyed with beautiful ladies, cold beer, and Bruce Lee.

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New Orleans is a classic cocktail city. A cold beer city. A craft beer city, even. But it didn’t feel so much like a wine city. That was until Josh took us out to Bacchanal in Bywater. The premise was awesome. Choose a bottle of wine from their (fantastic) selection, maybe scoop some local cheese from the cold case, and take it out back into the huge outdoor space. The live music was amazing. The wine, beautiful. The company, superior. I want to live in a place where I don’t have to wear pants in January.

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We are the happiest customers.

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Cocktails! All of the cocktails! Sazeracs! Vieux Carre! Mint Juleps! Pisco Sours! At all of the classic cocktail joints! Hotel Monteleone is worth a trip, I think. We went on a Sunday, and were able to snag seats at the carousel bar!

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Not pictured, but CERTAINLY worth checking out!

  • The Crescent City Farmer’s Market! Amazing! Within the first half hour I was awake on Saturday, I had had chicory coffee, an amazing tamale, and an avocado ice pop. You want all of these things, together to start your day.
  • Sylvain Fantastic farm-to-table grub. Earnest, New American with deep southern roots. Their Southern Antipasti with country ham, pickled eggs, local cheese, and assorted little picklin’s was one of my favorite things I ate on the trip.

So go forth, readers, unto New Orleans! But call me if you are going, because i’m coming.

On Camp Cooking.

October 5, 2012

Fall is setting in in these parts – marked by those amazing few farmer’s market weeks when there are tomatoes AND winter squash, the first night I eat only brussel sprouts for dinner, and my weakening resistance to tights.

Storm-Displaced Cookin’ Pit

I spent quite a few of this summer’s weekends dipping in streams and lakes, sleeping under the stars, and cooking for masses of happy campers. I love camp cooking. It takes planning (food for 30 people has to stay cold in a cooler for how long?) and improvisation (I don’t think we’ve ever remembered a strainer) and time (cooking over an open fire is delicate).  Everything tastes better when you’re camping (and drinking). I could have made a hundred boiled hot-dogs and I would still have been showered with praise and appreciation. We start prepping early and usually end up eating by propane lantern. I’ll miss the survival swims, day drinking, singe-ing of arm hairs over open fire, and spending real quality time with people I love. Peace out summer! Peace out camp cooking!

Lake George Dinner View

We dig down deep to the most primal, whitest versions of ourselves for camping, and take our gear seriously. (Geariously?) We had a camp OVEN for the first time this year. Not a stove, but an honest-to-God propane powered oven with a temperature control. I made Tank a 30th Birthday FunFetti Cake on a our campsite. Tank said that I helped him realize a long-held dream of coming up from the creek, the wooded air scented with cake-batter.

Funfetti/Tom Petty

Everywhere we camp has excellent proximity to local farm stands, so there is no shortage of good tomatoes, fresh corn, salad greens, and mixed berry pies.

Best corn ever.

Candle Light

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